Thursday, September 6, 2012

The US Open And The Burden Of Greatness

Yesterday saw a melodramatic end to 2 compelling story lines at the 2012 US Open. After announcing the US Open would be his last tournament as a professional Andy Roddick lost to Martin Del Potro 6-7,7-6,6-2,6-4. Roddick was the sentimental favorite to win the tournament and go out on top. The world's number one player and 2012 Wimbledon champion Roger Federer lost a heart breaking match to Tomas Berdych 7-6,6-4,3-6,6-3. Federer was looking to add another grand slam title to his collection and solidify his claim as the greatest tennis player that ever lived.

One of the hardest things in sports is to live up to expectation. Whether it's self induced or fabricated by fans and media expectation can lead to disappointment. We all pulled for Roddick to win his 2nd grand slam title before leaving the tennis world, but in reality Roddick is no longer a top tier player. To ask him to beat a player the caliber of Del Potro was unrealistic. Roger Federer is expected to win every time he walks on the court because of his past dominance. In reality Federer is still very good, but not unbeatable. his past greatness betrays him because it's a standard he can no longer live up to.

Sports is the ultimate in reality TV. The outcome can't be scripted, your favorite character doesn't always win in the end, you can't add make up or change camera angles to make someone younger, and past accomplishments don't guarantee present or future success. Andy Roddick and Roger Federer are much different players than they were 5 years ago, but it's difficult for fans and media to accept that fact. If we had our way they would meet in the finals and duel to the death, but unfortunately sports doesn't work that way. In 2012 Roddick and Federer are good players, but not great players. Their losses at the US Open were not unexpected.

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