Roger Federer just stepped off the 2012 Wimbledon lawn with his seventh trophy, but he may be entering The Twilight Zone when he steps on re-seeded pre-germinated grass. Will the grass play to the Swiss Maestro’s liking?
Novak Djokovic might send a crushing up-the-line backhand into a purple wall with golden arches. You’re not the only logo in town, Rolex.
Perhaps Andy Murray can trade in his white Adidas clothing for something a little more colorful and Olympics-approved.
Maybe a more raucous group of non-tennis sporting fans can back Murray’s cause by transforming the cathedral of Centre Court into a Scottish bar.
Spectators casting their eyes at the chair umpire could see more than a bottle of Robinson’s barley water. There could be Coca-Cola no further than a racket-length away.
Hungry fans might plunk down dollars and pounds for a nice plastic cup of Chobani’s Greek yogurt. Make that black cherry. Been there, done that with strawberries and cream.
Will this be the biggest invasion of England since the Normans landed at Hastings in 1066?
What in the name of Bizarro World is happening with 2012 Olympics tennis?
As if Jay Gatsby Hosted Wimbledon
This is not your grandfather’s Wimbledon. This isn’t even your infant’s Wimbledon. It’s the Olympics and that’s the way it should be.
If Wimbledon officials had any druthers to preserve the traditional feel to its hallowed club, it would be a miserable attempt of micromanagement. You can’t hold back the onslaught of tourist currency. Tennis is not at center stage, but is merely one booth at the world’s carnival.
Maybe Wimbledon is better off treating it like one of Gatsby’s parties. Let it become the fun spectacle it should be to showcase tennis to the general sports fan. Maybe it can score some cool points with basketball fans rather than show up at your door like an Amway salesman.
Wimbledon could actually gain more prestige with its Olympic facade. Rather than finding an ancient cathedral for Mass, the onlooker could feel as if the pews had been traded in for casino tables and multi-colored chips (in Olympic colors of course). All of this could be added incentive to taste its original brand, to come back again with more awe-inspiring reverence.
For Federer, Djokovic, Murray and other medal-aspiring participants, the grass will most certainly play differently than a few weeks ago. The haste and preparations to reseed and prepare the lawn is no easy manner, according to Greg Bishop’s reporting via the New York Times.com.
Grass would be offended by the simple notion that it can be lumped as simply a fast-playing surface. All grass tournaments feature differences in speed, bounce, air and playability.
Even Wimbledon is now faced with three different sets of conditions: first week grass in the outdoors, second week with more trampled grass including some indoors play and now late-July, pre-germinated grass.
If tennis fans are under the illusion that the grass won’t be different, they can discuss the theory with Ion Tiriac and Madrid officials who promised their blue clay gimmick wouldn’t play differently from original red.
We don’t know how the grass will play for Federer, but we know that Federer will adapt to the grass. He will likely be in position to go for the gold regardless of the surfaces and conditions.
For Djokovic, who requires more brake action on his footwork, this could be a greater factor. Above all, his best bet for the gold will find the grass level, with the dirt and clay underneath providing a higher bounce for his groundstrokes. He would be wise to make a deal with the sun god and let the rays burn the grass through an open roof.
Murray has a good track record on grass, but his preference would side more with Djokovic’s.
Other players like Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tomas Berdych would love the fast skidding action to help flatter drives and big serves. It might be the way to cause Federer more difficulties, to keep him back on his heels and prevent him from opening his variety pack of shots.
A Rose is a Rose is a Rose
It’s still tennis. For a one-time extravagant party the stakes are not as high as a Grand Slam event. Beginning Saturday, it will be played over nine days and only six rounds, all excepting the final to be best of three matches.
The Olympics is the global showcase for countries and their competitors. But beyond national pride and the prestige of medals, tennis does not have as much at stake as in a Grand Slam venue. There will be only 750 points for first place and the achievement will be perceived as more ornamental than meaningful.
But it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the entire draw. There will likely be upsets and perhaps a big story or two.
Who wouldn’t feel terrific for a player like Tsonga to gain a career consolation to his Grand Slam efforts?
Will someone like Bernard Tomic launch a future Grand Slam charge from the energy of the 2012 Olympics?
The best thing of all will be to see tennis played on grass as July turns into August. Would that this could drive more grass tournaments and uproot some of the never-ending hard court seasons.
Soon the carnival tent will come down, the grounds will be stripped and the gates will be locked again to roaming spectators who will take home a few memories and expensive souvenirs.
Enjoy the show.