The US Tennis Open is disappearing in my rear-view mirror and I’m pushing away the feelings of withdrawal by scraping at the archives of articles I missed over the two weeks of the tournament.
Discovered this gem by Brian Phillips, The Shot and The Confrontation. And there’s a few things I want to say about this article and indeed, Brian:
1. It’s so much better than the run-of-the-mill, dull recounting of the post-match press-conference that AP writers crank out, apparently while morosely sipping on an hour-old frappuccino. Those articles hammered out while in the “presser” (another cringing term) are dull, potato-chip efforts. You think you’re reading something substantial, you fool yourself that you’re enjoying it, but at the end you hate yourself for wasting time.
2. Brian’s writing is so good, it’s annoying. And by annoying, I mean, amazing. He took the time to consider the psyche of the athlete, in this case, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. And in the first sentence, I care.
3. I miss David Foster Wallace’s writing on tennis, I really do. I couldn’t crack Infinite Jest (one day I will but first I have to lose ten pounds and get my life in order) but his NY Times piece on Federer and his Esquire article are so good. I go back to them again and again like favorite episodes of Seinfeld. I can’t see anyone matching DFW’s craft and humanity, but in the meantime, I’m glad Brian Philiips does what he does.
4. Tennis is a complex sport played by imperfect humans. Brian exposes the humanity of Djokovic and Federer (albeit from a distance, who really knows what makes these guys go) and makes their accomplishments even more astounding. Consider this: five days after the end of the US Open, the top three players, all stretched to their limit through the last weekend of the tournament, showed up at different corners of the earth to play Davis Cup. Run a marathon. Rest for a day. Fly to the other side of the planet. Run another marathon. Yeah, tell me about it.
And put down the potato chips.