Monday, January 28, 2008
Moves Like a Butterfly
There is nothing like a good tennis tournament to put a guy MIA. This year's Australian Open --the self-dubbed "Happy Open"--did not disappoint one bit. Staying up to watch the matches live at 3:30 am doesn't get any easier as you get older, but they were worth it. And besides, I have always felt a strange kind of power in the wee hours of the morning when I think the rest of the world is asleep. For me, the player of the tourney was Russia's Maria Sharapova who won this year's crown for her third Grand Slam title over Ana Ivanovic of Serbia. For those of you who are not tennis fans, it was a very different story last year when Maria got her butt soundly whipped by Serena Williams in the finals, 6-1, 6-2. Some players would have had a hard time recovering from a drubbing like that, but Maria decided to use the loss as a springboard. To fly higher. She claimed to have trained very hard in the off season and it showed. Her movement, usually restricted to the baseline, saw her stepping out of her comfort zone as she came to net far more often to put away points. That meant coming up with shots you don't associate with her, like a slice backhand on the approach to net. This year it wasn't just all about power, it was about a plan. If in 2007 she was a caterpillar inching from side to side in the back court, this year she was a butterfly. A lot of people can't get past the blond hair and green eyes, which is a shame because you see something far more attractive when you do--passion for the game. And that's what puts her far ahead of the game. Well done, Maria. Good luck at the French!