A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Posts Tagged ‘Grand Slam

8 Thoughts from Indian Wells

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I’m lucky enough to be living in Southern California, and among the many perks of this, is that we have one of the biggest tennis tournaments in the world in our backyard. So my dad and I made the road trip out to desert to be able to see the men’s and women’s finals of the Indian Wells on Sunday. Some reflections:

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7 Thoughts from the Australian Open

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1. Rafael Nadal‘s injury was a shame. You hate to see a guy going for an amazing accomplishment like the Grand Slam stopped by injury. On the other hand, no asterisks should be placed on the tournament on the idea that Nadal wins if not for the injury. The truth of the matter is that Nadal has never reached a point where he has impressive odds of winning a particular hard court tournament.

2. It was great to see Djokovic step up. He looks like he’s finally ready to take that next jump, which I was beginning to think he didn’t have in him. It’s going to be interesting, presuming he keeps this up, to see him square off over the next year against Nadal. I don’t expect that anything but injury will keep Nadal from repeating as Player of the Year, but I also think the Djoker has a very good chance at keeping Rafa from ending the year on another 3 Slam streak.

3. Andy Murray‘s destruction in the finals at the racket of Djokovic is definitely discouraging for the guy. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Matt Johnson

February 3, 2011 at 11:52 am

Clijsters the Hustler

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Kim Clijsters is your 2011 Australian Open champion, and she won the final over Li Na in a manner that epitomizes her career. For me it brings to mind an exchange from the 1961 classic, The Hustler:

Bert Gordon: I don’t think there’s a pool player alive shoots better pool than I saw you shoot the other night at Ames. You got talent.
Fast Eddie: So I got talent. So what beat me?
Bert Gordon: Character.

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Written by Matt Johnson

January 29, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Rod Laver and the Overrating of the Pre-Open Era Grand Slam

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Sculpture depicting Rod Laver outside the Rod ...

Image via Wikipedia

Well here I go taking a hatchet to Rod Laver for the second post in a row.  The first post was in direct response to Laver’s recent interview, but this is just a general point that needs to be made and now seems like as good a time as any to make it.

Almost any argument for Laver as a candidate for GOAT (greatest of all-time) mentions that he won not just one but TWO Grand Slams.  Some will go the extra mile and point out that Laver won the Grand Slam in his last year as an amateur in 1962, and then again in the first full year of the Open Era in 1969 as a professional, and thus imply that might have achieved the Grand Slam half a dozen times had the politics of the situation not gotten in the way.

Let’s clear some things up:

The Best Players Played Professionally even before the Open Era

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Written by Matt Johnson

January 16, 2011 at 2:20 pm

What Constitutes a Grand Slam?

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Rafael Nadal Melbourne 2009

Image by Brett Marlow Melbourne Australia via Flickr

On the eve of the 2011 Australian Open, tennis great Rod Laver has just uttered some fighting words in the direction of Rafael Nadal who is attempting to win his 4th major in a row, and thus complete what is being called the Rafa Slam.  He says that winning 4 major tournaments in a row is not a Grand Slam unless it happens within one calendar year, from January to September.

“The pressure of winning a Grand Slam — there’s supposed to be a start and an end to it,” Laver said. “There’s no real start or end to it if you just keep going from one year to the next. You can say, ‘Well, I’ll start at Wimbledon,’ or ‘I’ll start at the U.S. Open and win all four in a row.’ ”

Now before I jump on him too much:  1) He is technically correct about the definition, and 2) It’s entirely possible he didn’t mean this at all as a statement of the superiority of his own achievement.  I’d call him foolish for making such a statement if he didn’t use it as a way to brag because of how it comes off, but there are worse things than being a bit foolish when dealing with the media.

Let’s talk about what really matters though:  Is winning 4 majors in a row any less of an achievement if you don’t do it in one calendar year?

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Written by Matt Johnson

January 15, 2011 at 12:22 pm