Almost a year ago, I went to see the doctor for my annual physical – what I have started to call my “’OK, so what medicines do I have to take now?’ visit” – and the nurse took my blood pressure and said five words that you probably don’t want a nurse to say after taking your blood pressure: “Oh, this can’t be right.” It is possible, I suppose, that ‘Oh, this can’t be right,” could be GOOD news, as in “Oh, this can’t be right because it’s so great.” But somewhere along the way, doctor’s visits stopped providing good news, at least in my experience. The best I could hope for was neutral news like, ‘Well, you’re no worse than last year.”
I came to Sunday’s Wimbledon final desperately hoping to see Roger Federer win his 18th grand slam. And, in the end, I found myself rooting for Novak Djokovic.
Three or so years ago, during the U.S. Open, I wrote a column about American men’s tennis that kind of ticked off some people I worked with. They were big American tennis fans. And if you are something of a tennis fan, you might remember that was the U.S. Open the first week was basically spent CELEBRATING American men’s tennis, at least here in America.
Yes, that was the tournament where a young American wildcard named Donald Young took out the No. 14 seeded Stan Wawrinka in five grueling sets. He then crushed another good seeded player, Spain’s Juan Ignacio Chela. Young was summarily evicted from the tournament in straight sets by Andy Murray, but that was OK, it was a promising run for a 22-year-old. At the same tournament, John Isner big-served his way into the quarterfinals before also losing to Murray in four semi-competitive sets. And Mardy Fish made it into the Round of 16 before losing a five-set heartbreaker to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. It seemed like a lot of good news.
Then I wrote the column about how the news really wasn’t all that good — that was the 32nd consecutive grand slam not won by an American man and ninth straight without an American man even in the semifinal. Like I say, a few people emailed and called and said that U.S. men’s tennis was on the rise and I was missing the point.
Well, they were right. I was missing the point. The signs were actually much, much worse than I thought.