Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Professional tennis and gender discrimination

I grew up watching Pistol Pete and Stefi Graf ruling the tennis world. Naturally I loved the grace of Sampras and the versatility of Stefi, though I always respected Navratilova for her grit and greatness, my heart was always rooting for Stefi.
I still dispise french open and don't consider it an equal to other grand slams for all those matches I had to watch Pete beaten by some worthless tennis player.He simply was reduced to a mere mortal ,nay, worse than that on that Roland Garros slow and dead clay court.
I almost stopped watching and following tennis after the retirement of Pete and thought there would never be a player of his league.But I was proved wrong.
When I saw Federer for the time first time in Wimbledon , he looked more like another Carlos Moya with his pony and that deforemd nose. As I started following his game, I started liking his game as it is the same grace that has made a come back to the tennis court.And contrary to many other Pistol Pete fans, I have become a fan of this man and his game.His game is simply poetry, it just flows with grace.
I should mention here that I like players who use single hand for their returns and shots. I dislike thos who grunt and use both the hands to play tennis.Even though I have no respect for French Open, Roger made me follow it for four consecutive finals to root for him. But, the butcher from Mallorca was always there to nail him in the finals. Nadal has become unbeateable on clay and slowly bettered his "effectiveness" on other courts, which was proved in 2008 Wimbledon final.
Nadal has been a successful and a winning star but his game is boring with no grace and no elegance. I respect him for his attitude and his toughness but he can never come in the league of Pete and Federer.
After the recent Frecnh Open win of Federer, there were many people who said that Federer could win it just because Nadal was not there in the finals.The say that one has to beat the reigning champion to become the king of the game.May be they are unaware of the term called "bogey man" and are too biased towards Nadal.Should we talk about someone who failed to come to finals??
Many tennis professionals and former players around the world have declared Roger Federer as the greatest ever, Pete himself has said that if he wanted someone to beat his 14 grand slams record, it was Roger.But, are 14 slams that great?? Does it become a bench mark just beause no "man" could do it till date?
Why should we not lookt at those players who are not "men" and have won much more than this "14"?
Stefi Graf had won 22 grandslams, Navratilova won 18 and Chris Evert had won 18.Why the game is so different for men and women?Ofcourse women play 3 setters and win less prize money than their male counter parts.But, isn't competition much harder in women, look at all those "novas" from Russia?Isn't randomeness higher in a 3 setter than a 5 setter?Anyone on their day can win a 3 setter and winning a 5 setter takes a lot of consistency.So, someone who keeps wining those 3 setter for almost a decade must be really much better than the rest in the game.
Stefi is the only player till date to win all the four grand slams four times each, she is the only player to win a Golden Slam and I don't think anyone can beat her 22 grand slams record in the modern era.She could play on any surface and she was a complete player. She played the best tennis that we have seen so far.
Some people attribute her success to that unfortunate incident which happened to Monica Seles. But, if we look at the record
"In head-to-head matches, Graf never had a losing record versus Seles at any point in her career, and prior to 1990, Graf was undefeated versus Seles in three encounters. Seles, however, won four of the seven matches they played from 1990 through 1993, including a 3–1 advantage over Graf in Grand Slam tournaments. From the start of 1991 until the April 1993 Seles stabbing (i.e., the period of Seles's dominance), Graf lost nineteen matches but only two of these were to Seles (while defeating her three times). Graf retired with a 10-5 lifetime record over Seles, including a 6–4 winning record versus Seles in Grand Slam singles tournaments and a 3–2 winning record versus Seles while Seles was ranked World No. 1 in 1991-1993"Link

That period of Grafs career when she lost her No: 1 ranking was more to do with her personal and injury problems than the dominance of grunting Seles.

I think we should have a tournament b/w the tope 3 male and female seeds every year and crown the player as Champion of the year.But, during the last decade women's tennis has beocme more of a glamour show than the game of tennis.That is the reason we don't see any more Navratilovas and Stefi Grafs. The "novas" come and go but I don't think we are fortunate enough to see another great player like Stefi.She is the best and greatest ever.

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