This Sunday was no exception, as I tuned into Wimbledon only to watch Rafael Nadal easily take the first two sets of the match from Roger Federer. Ho-hum. This thing was over. Time to take a nap.
But by the time I woke up, things had change dramatically. Thanks to a timely rain delay, the match was still going in the fourth set, and Federer had his back to the wall. But with Nadal at the championship point — twice — he somehow found a way to extend the match and take it to another set. Now I was hooked.
Even as the afternoon progressed and stuff I would normally be inclined to watch over tennis came on TV — the Cubs game, Judge Dredd, Matlock — I couldn’t go away from the match for more than a few seconds at a time.
Crazy volleys. Unbelievable shots with the backhand. Neither player giving an inch. And finally, the greatest player in the sport succumbing to the new titan. It made me see tennis in a light that I never had before. And it also got me thinking.
A month after I waxed poetic about a golf playoff (along with everyone else in the nation), I find myself doing the same thing about tennis. This is far from normal behavior for the sporting public. And it can only mean one thing: 2008 is on pace to be the greatest year in the history of sport. (I didn’t call it sports so I could pay homage to Wimbledon and the British way of writing things. The next step will be calling the site Rumours and Rants.)
We’ve already had the greatest fourth quarter in Super Bowl history, which produced the biggest upset since Broadway Joe in Super Bowl III. (Eli Manning winning a Super Bowl. Just playin’, Eli!)
The NCAA Tournament featured an unlikely Elite Eight entrant in Davidson, but still marked the first time that all four No. 1 seeds reached the Final Four. And to top it off, you had one of the most unlikely finishes in history (Bill Self winning a title) as Kansas overcame a nine-point deficit in the final two minutes to shock Memphis.
There was a horse that everyone treated as a shoo-in for the first Triple Crown in 30 years, but ended up finishing in last because he couldn’t keep his shoe on. (Karma may have also played a factor against his d-bag trainer.)
There was the aforementioned U.S. Open, which Tiger Woods won on one leg against a regular guy named Rocco in a match where you didn’t want to see either guy lose.
Even the International Hot Dog Eating Contest had to be settled by a Dog-Off, for franks sake. Could you get any more dramatic than overtime in a, cough, sport where the competitors can literally choke away the lead?
So just mark the Wimbledon final as the latest in a string of phenomenal events that have dotted the calendar in ’08. We haven’t even peaked yet. With the Olympics, the Ryder Cup, baseball’s pennant race and football season still around the corner, there’s a chance that 2008 will get even greater. I hope.