Christmas Day. Wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
The formality out of the way we can focus on real tennis—pure, un-adulterated mechanics of the game. Yeah, this is going to be too technical even for you tennis nerds. You Rajat, especially.
I have always wanted to know how it is to contradict myself. I have always had this notion that those things that do not exist are in someway contradictions. That is a part of those things contradicts with another part of those things in terms of Physics.
So, here I go, in my little experiment to see whether this "article" will go out of existence (or I myself will go out of existence; though this, I cannot verify myself), if I contradict myself.
"This is NOT about the mechanics of tennis."
Nothing—I am still here (but the smarter ones among you would have noticed that I used quotes for my second statement).
Probably the publish button holds the key.
Ok, this is all about the mental aspect of the game called awesome-o-phobia—fear of awesomeness (also called phobia 'de awesomeness by the French).
I wanted to choose some photo other than Federer's—that frood has been having the lion's share of time and space on our revered tennis columns (on Christmas Day you tend to give a lot of respect to things you normally don't give any).
But you see, he is the ideal candidate for the picture—not only does he display awesomeness, he melts down like the best cheese cake in the world when he is in front of sheer awesomeness like against Nadal in AO, and Del Potro in USO.
Probably his first impression about Roddick was way under par, for Roddick's Wimbledon display was far more awesome than either. Poor Roddick.
This impression about awesomeness comes about when you are witness to one of the "I threw a kitchen sink at him, but he threw the bath-tub at me" displays in tennis. And it lingers on.
It keeps playing at the back of your head telling you that whatever you throw at the other guy you are going to be thrown at something even bigger. It sometimes even laughs at you, which is when you decide to simply close shop and go home as soon as possible.
It sometimes even makes you afraid of bath-tubs, and some tennis players are known to go a lot of days without baths. Those are also the dumb ones because the bath-tub is obviously not the only way you can have a bath.
Anyway, in cases this back-ground noise also results in this train of reasoning—"Eureka! If I throw the biggest thing ever in Tennis at him, he cannot throw a bigger thing at me!" But be careful, if you at all you are playing tennis, to not have this realisation when you are in a bath-tub. "Eureka" and bath-tubs do not combine well for your reputation, as proved by Archimides.
So you keep adding revs and mph on your strokes and find some occasional happiness in that action since you now have a purpose in life—to keep adding MPHs and revs. But then you are rudely proved wrong.
A backhand flick pass cross court from Federer that adjusts itself into any little space in the nook and cranny of the service box that you may care to provide.
A full-blooded running forehand down the line pass from Rafael to which if you put the racket, you will discover the actual nature of the law of conservation of momentum and end up cursing Newton.
Or the same thing that you threw at JMDP coming back at you with the same ferociousness and then some, allowing you not enough time so much as to blink, all make you realise that you were utterly wrong.
That there is no such "biggest thing." That realisation then goes to work against you. It is like discovering for the first time that "anyway one day I am going to die, then why all this trouble?"
Though both are really two of the most important facts about life, universe and everything else, they are in two different classes.
The thing about death is, after that initial reaction and probably a beer or rum, you go on with your business. Nobody reminds you of it time and again.
But in the other case, you are reminded every time you go on a tennis court.
"This is the spot where I stood last time when I was passed so awesomely."
"This is where that winner hit the line last time when i was standing the furthest possible distance (by Euclidean geometry) from a winner possible on a tennis court." and
"This is where that hot ball-girl was standing—a fact which I noticed after I was aced four times in the previous game. Hmmmmmm..."
Probably the only thing that makes you smile is the last of your sample recollections mentioned above—but that is again a melancholy smile, since the next immediate thread in that line of thought is, "she was probably awed at the guy on the other side of the net who aced me so cruelly!"
But it remains a fact that whoever is trapped in this zone never probably won any match when in it. While there is no strong evidence that you can actually shake that thought off, it is a thing to look forward to.
You could start with "No one is perfect" or the equivalent "No one is awesome all the time" and follow it up all the time.
Arrogance towards sheer awesomeness is probably a loser's mentality, but it helps you win. Actually that is a paradox.
That is the message for this Christmas.