My fondness for the tennis on offer in July lies only marginally above my fondness for Steven Segal movies and considerably lower than Andy Roddick’s fondness for clay. Which probably means I should be making more of an effort.
» France d. Spain 5-0
Love it or loath it, Davis Cup has an indisputable knack for bringing the best from talent that should, but doesn’t always quite, cut it at tour level - preferably at home, preferably coming back from a set down and preferably in front of hundreds of face-painted hopefuls wielding breadstick-balloons.
Conspire to arrange all of that, and you’ll find them transformed into something altogether more formidable.
Whenever I talk about La Monf, I end up lamenting how his remarkable shotmaking ability is only outdone by his very French insistence on squandering his talent and life away behind the baseline playing, what amounts to, clay-court tennis.
He was joined by Llodra, Bennetau and a Gilles Simon on the comeback from injury. No shortage of talent, but hardly a bastion of dependability.
And yet Spain somehow came away without a single rubber to their name - not even a dead one – and quite possibly scarred for life.
LaMonf’s shotmaking sticks out. Dasco going down in four to Llodra sticks out. As does Simons straight sets win over Almagro.
As, indeed, does Bandian’s electrifying performance against Russia over in Moscow.
But it’s a familiar old Davis Cup “picture of imperfection”, is it not?
You need talent to succeed at DC, which is after all a tennis tournament like any other. But you feel it’s precisely this grizzled, vulnerable, intensely patriotic and, dare I say it, French sort of talent that’s so perfectly attuned to doing well here.
Nadal and Federer may leave us in awe, but they ain’t got nothing on that.
Argentina d. Russia 3-2
Serbia d. Croatia 4-1
Czech Rep. d. Chile 4-1
» World Cup: Spain d. Netherlands 1-0
After winning the Channel Slam and securing the #1 ranking until, quite probably, the end of the year, do we really want to see Rafa playing DC?
Or do we want to see the dork dressed like this:
I wasn’t the only one to predict he’d do this:
Alright. I’ll admit it wasn’t the most cleanly contested final Holland have ever played. It certainly wasn’t “Total Football”, unless that is you’re thinking of “totalling” the opposition.
What’s a little axe-kick amongst overpaid footballing superstars anyway?
Point is, they had to come through Denmark, Cameroon and favourites Brazil to reach this point. And it’s not their fault they only had to play competent football to get there.
Which brings me to my other point.
Now that it’s all over, can we agree that, with the exception of Germany and Spain, how uniformly shite the top teams and, in particular, their top players were?
Ronaldo, Rooney, Messi and a raft of other top talent all underwhelmed.
Germany began the event by missing a penalty, which happens to be about as frequent an occurrence as Federer going out in the first week of a Slam.
None of the favourites seemed willing or able to produce anything more daring than draw after draw.
Argentina went down Germany 4-0. No shame in going down to the Germans, but that score-line, really?
And the defending champions went out to Slovakia. A competent enough side but still, no comment.
If I wanted to argue asterisks, I’d say Germany had the tougher route through and were a better team, qualitatively, than Holland. There’s that word again.
In the end, however, the #2 ranked team hoisted the trophy having had to go through powerhouses Portugal, Germany and a Dutch side where “everybody was kung-fu fighting”.
The best team won.