Guts and Glory, Grace and Misery!

July 14, 2019: Absolutely fantastic day for sports fans!
Fitting finale for two major sports events: Wimbledon Men’s Tennis Final and Cricket World Cup Final! Both matches totally riveting, nerve-wracking, filled with twists and turns, culminating in a pulsating finish πŸ™‚
It’s beyond me to do justice with words both finals which were throbbing with excitement and suspense right till the very end. I hope writers, photographers and movie makers work together to create a work of art to capture the essence of both games, juxtaposing exquisite prose with beautiful images and stunning video clips that bring to fore the ebbs and flows, never-say-die spirit and soul-stirring emotions that were on abundant display throughout. Congratulations England for winning one championship and thanks for giving us fans two memorable matches that will stay etched in memory for a long time.

First the contrast: One an individual sport the other a team sport. One played and followed in most
countries the other played and followed in much fewer countries but enjoying rabid following among the fans

Next the commonality: Riveting from the start both matches featured sensational shot-making, jaw-dropping action in plenty and some sensational play by protagonist/s on both sides

Watched the tennis match on TV and followed the cricket score online. Boy, I never knew following the score could be this exiting and filled with tension πŸ˜€ I had my Sunday morning routine that meant I couldn’t catch the start of tennis match. But I made sure to have the DVR on just before the start of the match so that I could catch up on the action with my son as soon as possible. We started watching the match from the beginning. Son couldn’t resist checking the score and said the match was tied at one set apiece. So, we fast forwarded to the most notable moments of the first two sets and within a few minutes started watching live action. Federer turned back the clock and as usual his play featured sublime strokes and incredible skills that had to be seen to believe. Djokovic was not his usual efficient self, mixing breathtaking returns with unforced errors, grit with with some ordinary serving at times. After 4 sets of action it was locked at 2 sets apiece. I looked outside and in contrast to the well manicured lawns at Wimbledon my lawn needed some work. So, I stepped out at the start of 5th set and instructed my son to give me a holler when it was at a decisive point. After few minutes of trimming the lawn edges I heard my son shout “Dad, it’s 4-2 with Djokovic leading!”. Lawn beckoned but lawn tennis beckoned even more. No prizes for guessing what won πŸ˜€ Expecting the action to not last more than 20-30 minutes I dumped the weed whacker and headed back in. What followed was absolutely sensational. Both the players were trading shots of brilliance that had the spectators at the venue and viewers elsewhere rising to their feet to applaud the warriors laying it all out and refuse to be beaten. Federer was magnificent and making the sublime look very normal but Djokovic showed why he is the #1 now. Despite being outplayed almost the entire match he hung in there and managed to stay on. Federer had his hands firmly on the winner’s trophy and it took an almighty effort from Djokovic to metaphorically snatch the trophy from Federer’s grasp. The great thing about champions is that even when they appear to be outplayed and on the losing side they find inner reserves of strength and determination to do just enough to win. Djokovic managed to just about do that and emerge the winner finally.

Even as I was watching live tennis action I was following the score of cricket world cup final during
changeover and between points. England were struggling to chase a respectable but modest target set by New Zealand. The Englishmen was hanging in desperately trying to not lose wickets and at the same time trying to ensure the required run rate did not get out of hand. The hardy antipodeans as usual were amazing in their resilience and efficiency, using their talent and resourcefulness to the max. As the tennis match ended the cricket final was nearing conclusion too. The ending overs had everything: frenetic action, heroic play (from both sides), oodles of courage, some mistakes induced by tension of the moment and scarcely believable role of Lady Luck. The end of regular play resulted in both sides tied even (a first in Cricket World Cup final). An extra over for each side in the form of overtime ended again in a tie. Ultimately the winner by the team with the most # of boundaries in the game (rough equivalent of team that scores more 3-pointers in NBA being declared winners). England finished as winners on that basis. Hindsight is 20-20, it now appears a fairer rule might have been to continue playing overtime till there was an outright winner.

I am not into cliches but not only did worn out phrases like “The game is the ultimate winner” and
“It’s a pity there could only be one winner, both were winners” not only rang true but sounded profound πŸ™‚ on this day that showcased the very best that sports has to offer!

Author: Rajaram 'Raj' Gopalan

Hi All, Welcome to my home in cyberspace! You can call me Raj. Feel free to explore, discuss, comment and most importantly have a good time!

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