Rafael Nadal: Wimbledon Final 2008
Words from Jon Wertheim
The most compelling tennis match I have seen? Easy. Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer in five sets to win the 2008 Wimbledon final. Tick off the “Classic Sporting Event” pre-reqs and this match had it all. Skill? Check. Courage? Check. Rivalry? Check. Self-sufficiency, sportsmanship, grace, discipline, gallantry, poise, intelligence, humility, injury, recovery, fibrillations of momentum, even acts of God. Check, check, check, check, check….. The match was also significant for what it lacked. Melodrama, trash talk, gamesmanship. There was neither a scoreboard telling fans when to clap nor a public address announcer with a cartoonishly baritone voice.
No cheerleaders, no goofy mascots, no booing, no piped in music during breaks in play or unnaturally peppy men firing free t-shirts into the crowd via air cannon. The moral might be this: invest dignity in a sporting event and everyone responds in kind. Not least the athletes.
Jon Wertheim is executive editor and senior writer at Sports Illustrated. Follow his musings on twitter here: @jon_wertheim
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