Monday, December 06, 2010

Cold and Classic YouTube

It's been a tough couple of weeks in Britain with icy winds coming directly from the Arctic and lots of snow which has messed up everyone's travel plans.

After falling over on the ice last year and breaking a company laptop, I managed to negotiate 3 days working from home last week with my boss. It wasn't particularly great; I really needed to see some people to complete the work and the isolation is tough - my colleagues are a good bunch and it's always nice to see them.

On Friday evening I discovered a little gem on YouTube - the legendary five set encounter between Roger Federer (19) and Pete Sampras (29) at Wimbledon in 2001. The match itself is rather dull for long periods - Pete Sampras was a great tennis player, but his style of play - a kind of extreme Serve and Volley, only frequently without the volley, was boring and mechanical in the extreme.

But details of the match delight. There's the women line judges frumpy frocks that look like Laura Ashley by way of Saga Holidays. There's Roger Federer, slightly effeminate with a pony-tail and wearing a coral necklace that looks worth about £5, the same value as his cheap red Wilson racket bag.

Then there's Pete Sampras, 29 going on 40 with a bald patch that seems to be the only part of his body without hair.

There's the commentators surprisingly prescient comments about Federer's talent, and the way he's begun to mature and harness that talent.

And finally there's the sheer beauty of Roger Federer in action - deftly reading, deflecting and attacking Caveman's serves, whilst banging in plenty of aces himself. Federer is astonishingly cool and collected throughout - this was his first ever match on Centre Court and the first (and last, although nobody knew that) time he'd played Pete Sampras.

His victory came as an enormous relief, not just to his friends and supporters, but to the entire tennis establishment. With viewing figures plummeting, the sport couldn't have survived another ten years of Sampras style rat-bastard tedium.