For the second Sunday in a row, I witnessed one of the best sporting events I’ve ever seen.
Two weeks ago, it was the Women’s World Cup final, where the United States defeated the Netherlands 2-0.
Last Sunday, it was the men’s final at Wimbledon, where Novak Djokovic edged Roger Federer in a five-set thriller.
The crowd was decidedly pro-Federer. It almost always is when he plays.
Djokovic is a pretty steely guy. You could not tell if or how the crowd was affecting him.
It could have rattled him, or it could have driven him to work even harder. I’m pretty sure it was the latter.
Motivation can come from a lot of places.
Years ago, I played in the league sponsored by the Conway Area Tennis Association. Basically, you would get a list of players in your skill classification, and mutually agree on a time a place to play.
They are competitive matches, but it’s mostly just for fun and of course some exercise.
There is no umpire, so players call their own ins and outs, and keep up with the score.
In one match I remember well, I won a game to go up 4-2 in the set, but my opponent claimed I was only up 4-3.
We discussed it firmly put politely, and he insisted it was 4-3, but I knew it was 4-2.
It was not worth arguing about, so I went along with his 4-3.
I’ll never know if he was trying to cheat or if it was just an honest mistake on his part, but I do know for the rest of that match, I played maybe the best tennis I ever played.
Innocent or not, his slight lit a little fire inside me.
My step was a little quicker, my focus a little sharper, my shots hit a little harder. I won the match easily.
As a kid, I can remember watching the Wimbledon final on Sunday mornings. It was on NBC then, and legendary Dick Enberg was in the broadcast booth.
It was the era of Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe. That trio won the title 10 out of 11 times between 1974 and 1984.
The event is now on ESPN, and McEnroe is now one of the broadcasters. He is just as entertaining in the booth as he was on the court.
When Tiger Woods was in his prime, his presence effectively stifled an entire generation of young golfers as they tried to pursue him.
Once Tiger became human, you started to see some new players begin to rise.
Federer, Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have done the same thing in tennis. No one else has constantly risen up to consistently challenge the big three.
Since 2003, this trio has won 15 of the 17 Wimbledon titles.
They are like Marvel comic superheroes - just when you think they are gone, they come back stronger than ever.
The old saying is that father time is undefeated. He may be gaining on tennis’s big three, but he’s not caught them yet.