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Random Thoughts on Sports

Way to go Celtics!It has often been said that this is a good time to be a sport fan in Boston. I would go further to say that it is a good time to be a sports fan, period. During this decade and a half that I have spent in Boston, I have seen the Patriots, a team that had no trophies earlier, win three Superbowls. I have seen the Red Sox break an 87 year old curse to win two World Championships and just yesterday, we saw the Celtics win their first trophy since 1986.

There were other happenings in the past couple of weeks in the world of sport. We saw Tiger win the US open.(Golf) Then for the forth straight year, we saw Federer fall short of winning the French Open, the only grand slam that has eluded him.It has often been said that Federer and Tiger Woods are the 'best ever' in their chosen sports. Both men are on the verge of setting records in terms of number of championships. Are we all living in special times to see 'greatness' happen everyday?


Did I say that Federer and Tiger are the best ever? Think about it. Golf and Tennis have been around for several centuries now. Do we live in special times where humankind's talents have advanced multi fold?

One cannot ignore the inborn talent when we talk about Tiger or Federer. Neither Tiger nor Federer has a weakness in their chosen sports. No one downplay the handwork, discipline and dedication each puts into his game. I am sure there are others who work equally hard. I am reminded of Lendl who did all he could to win Wimbeldon but lost in three final appearances. But how do these two, Woods and Federer manage to stride past all those other greats when it comes to breaking records?

Yes, there is still work to be done by both men. Federer must break Pete Sampras' record of 14 grand slams and to prove himself further, win the French Open atleast once. It would be most impressive if he pulls off a Grand slam, by winning the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open(tennis) all in one calendar year.

The last man to achieve this great feat was Rod Laver, but this was when Tennis was played on two surfaces only, grass and clay. Technology then produced several kinds of artificial surfaces, each with its own idiosyncrasies.

In recent times, only Andre Agassi has won each of the Grand Slam championships though he did not do it in one year. Mats Wilander came close winning three of the four championships in one year.(Wimbledon eluded Wilander too.)

While technology has created challenges by creating different surfaces to play on, it has made life easier for players. Racquets are becoming bigger and lighter and have moved with the times from wood to metal to graphite to magnesium. As a result Tennis serves are faster than ever before.(Years ago, my hero John McEnroe suggested bringing back wooden racquets to make the game more geared towards talent, than towards strength.)

Golf clubs too, are made lighter and with bigger and bigger sweet shots. This makes swinging and putting a lot more easier. Another factor has also helped the game. In the past, Golf was a retired man's game. It is only in the last couple of decades that youngsters have taken to Golf.

These are probably some of the reasons why we see peak performers in these sports. In closing, I must say that Federer did not capture even the Australian Open this year. I hope that the media hype did not jinx his progress. Part of me fears that he has burnt out.I hope I am wrong. I want to see him win three more grand slams and I want to see him do them soon. I wish to belong to these times when History is being created.

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