Sunday, January 29, 2012

Tarzan vs. the Robot

Years ago when Rafael Nadal defeated Roger Federer in the most epic Wimbledon ever, my description of the match went as follows: "Today an irresistible force met an immovable object, and the irresistible force won."

But last night (or should I say this morning from 1:30am to 6:30am, the longest grand slam final ever) the force lost. As much as we've enjoyed Novak Djokovic's humor and other-deprecation over the years, on the court he doesn't seem, well, human. It's really not realistic for a mortal to be able to hit so many shots so close to the line. And it's hard to cheer for what is obviously a tennis machine against real flesh and blood.

And Rafa is definitely flesh and blood (as my wife would be quick to point out) and plays with so much heart (as Shakira and my wife stated, he is a warrior).

But in every movie I've ever seen when the humans fight with all their underdog passion against the cyborgs from the future (or aliens or robots or whatever) the humans always find a way to win. But not last night.

There was even a Scooby-Doo episode about the Harlem Globetrotters having to play against basketball robots that never miss. After a dismal first half the Globetrotters finally figure out that the robots are not programmed to understand their non-conventional but entertaining shenanigans. Therefore the Globetrotters' trick plays and silly passes help them come back and defeat the robots!

But this is real life, and this game has got to mean something. Therefore you have a choice to make. You can either believe that the humanity will somehow prevail, and Rafa will find a way to win and avenge the irrational but beautiful primates that we all are,

or you can choose cold rationality (and in so doing give up on beauty). Your choice.

I, for one, choose to believe. Go Rafa! We'll see you in March (Cherie and I are going to Indian Wells, and this year NOTHING CAN STOP US!!!) Win Rafa, our species is counting on you.


  1. Loved the post. I'm not sure if my 1/8 Serbian wife, however, would agree with your dehumanizing view of Djokovic. If the crazy press coming out of France is to believed, Rafa might not be as purely human as you've characterized him to be anyway (for the record, I think France is just jealous of Spain). What I'm hearing is that "They" can play, as long as "They don't beat "Us." That approach, of course, has played out in alarming ways throughout history. Very suspicious talk if you ask me. The problem here, though, is that you associate one with "Us" and one with the "Other," when we all know that Rafa is a Greek God, so our species doesn't even enter the conversation. Our species remains a slam-less tennis relic, left to wonder how it is that Djokovic conquered the world of tennis.

  2. Thanks Jonathan, I'm glad somebody read my post!

    Also, you've accurately picked up that we are both totally biased and just kidding around. Biased because Cherie and I have bonded over watching Rafa and love his intensity.

    Kidding around because Djokovic is very human with a great sense of humor on and off the court. Examples: we loved his imitations of all the other tennis greats a few years ago (including Sharapova), and do you remember when Federer was about to slam one back at him in the US Open semis a few years ago that Nole turned and put the butt of the racket between his legs (as a target). It was hilarious.

    So we like Novak. It's just that on the court he is TOO GOOD lately. It's UNREAL how good he's become in the last year and a half. And that gives us more reason to hope that Rafa finds a way around it.

    So I was exaggerating and playing on the humor of it all. In fact, we are going to Indian Wells this March (soooo excited), and we would LOVE for it to be a Rafa vs. Novak final again!

  3. Of course you were exaggerating my friend. I think my response came at an overly cerebral moment of the day. I don't follow anyone enough to be for anything much more than good tennis. I like Rafa though and want to see him get slamming again. What I haven't like about the last few years of tennis, even though we have seen some insane matches, is that the results have become predictable. If it's a final, Rafa will be Federer and Novak will be Rafa. I like when it's a little more unpredictable (not that those results are a given, but they sure have seemed that way for a few years). More back and forth please! It wasn't Bird and then Magic. It was Magic and then some Bird, and a little more Magic, then a little more, and then Bird again, followed by Magic. That's when sports rivalries are at their best.