In love, all over again.

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My hands shiver. My head pounds. I look around at the people around me, at the posters of the Tennis greats punching the air in victory. I’m here to watch a Tennis match played by my favourite sportsperson in the world. I pinch myself hard to see if I actually am here. I want to scream out loud, in joyous rapture, as the guy starts to talk. And I just did. Scream my heart out. I’m here, I’m going to watch them play, my first favourite with my second. God bless, one of my dreams is just coming trues.

So I wrote at the stadium, hands shivering as I wrote on the backside of the ticket of the ‘Clash of Times’, Pete Sampras vs Roger Federer. ‘Clash of Titans’ would have been better.
I’m back, my throat hurts and my head spins. I’m giddy with happiness from watching Sampras play, and even though he lost, to me, he was the clear winner yesterday – after all, the whole stadium gaped in awe at his play, at his tenacity to hold on against someone reigning today, 10 years younger than him.


After a plethora of shows of Malaysian culture, I screamed my head off as Sampras entered the stadium and spoke. Bloody hell, I’m seeing him and I’m hearing him talk. Live. Sampras, visibly older (what with the bald patch and the receding hairline!), still exuding unimaginable charm. He chose to serve first after winning the toss, and I held my breath to see it – this was it, Sampras’s absolutely-brilliant-out-of-the-world-unbeatable serve. As the game moved on and I sat at the edge of the seat in danger of falling off, watching the ball simply glide off his racquet and go straight into Federer’s court, I simply couldn’t speak. Many a time, Federer was simply struggling to return his serve (ACE!), or returning it awkwardly in a failed attempt to prevent an Ace, (OUT!) and sometimes, managing to hit it. What I initially thought was a horrible side to sit in (where I thought I would only be able to watch one of the player’s back), was a brilliant one too – though I was only 5 rows away from the last, I could watch the game beautifully.

Sampras, Sampras – he was in a mood for fun. Be it the celebratory jig when he won a difficult point, or the comical slap on his forehead thrice, or the wanton funny miscommunication between him and ball boys, or even the silly fight with the line umpire for a point – he was a person whose mannerisms I have never seen on court from him before. Charming, absolutely.

And the strength of his serves, goodness! While Sampras regularly topped at 210 kph and over (peaking at 218 kph), Federer’s best was just 200 over. And the grace, oh, I could just fall on Sampras’s feet.

Sampras was calm, cool and easy, and so was Federer, playing a natural game. Guess both knew they were here for fun, just that at the end of the day, it looked like Sampras had had all the fun, and Federer, the winner, a serious game.

Of course, needless to say, FedEx was great too, managing to win the tie-breaker both the times. As Sampras said later, he saw Federer use volleys that he had never seen or used before – and this, from a player who is said to be the king of Serve and Volley! I’m still bloody surprised Federer didn’t manage to break Sampras’s serve .. Sampras wouldn’t let him, haha. And for Sampras, that speaks volumes of his quality of play. Why Federer won yesterday, according to me, was the sheer strength and stamina his age afforded him. I don’t know if he wasn’t taking the game seriously and that’s why he didn’t play an aggressive game, and God forbid, no, the match wouldn’t have been fixed. It wasn’t exactly a game where Federer particularly had to display much class – all of it was clearly stolen by Pete. I have to admit that as much as I love Pete, I expected he would lose earlier (and easily) to Federer – thank God, that wasn’t bound to happen on a day I watched him play. Sampras, is truly a class apart. Federer might just beat Sampras’s record in less than 6 months, but it’ll be years before there will be another Sampras. Or perhaps, there might never be. Thanking God a million times for giving me a chance to watch them play, to watch a demigod I’ve known ever since I was 5 give his best against the reigning champion.

16 comments:

Raj said...

A fitting tribute to the king! :) Yes, watching Sampras play anyday is a wonderful thing. And the way you have described it was just amazing...the whole post filled with emotion, sheer joy and ecstasy! I guess no one could do a better job of this! :) Glad that you got to watch it...Me in the wrong part of the world at the wrong time! :D

Tony said...

Here in Switzerland, where Federer is the local god, you'd probably be skinned alive for saying this! But your point is valid...

Vani Viswanathan said...

Raj,
Thank you! Hehe.. glad I could find words to even remotely express my out-of-the-world feeling! :)
It's just so difficult for me to study anything now!
And hey, aren't you in teh US? You'll probably bump into him somewhere.. And get a poster of his signed by him! Sigh, I've been looking for a poster of his for ages, all I got was a Sportstar poster from years back that's now tattered :(

Tony,
Ah, so you're Swiss! Haha.. guess I'd be skinned alive for saying this, but sheesh.. I just wish I'd seen these two clash at the prime of their times! To see their volleys.. would've been a brilliant match! But seriously, this one was excellent too!

Raj said...

"It's just so difficult for me to study anything now!"
yeah ..i can understand! :P

yep, me in US...hope i do bump into him sometime! If i do, i shall sure remember to get TWO autographs from him. Cant guarantee if i would have a poster with me when this happens (IF it EVER happens! :D)..but yeah, if i get that autograph, i shall send one over to u! :)

Vinesh said...

maybe sampras could just become another navratilova in terms of making a comeback ;-)

dante said...

sad to say, but not exactly a big fan of the sport even though i do play it occasionally albeit quite badly, if i might add ... if memory serves me rite, i remember watching only one match in its entirety .... it had tis iranian player with a walrus moustache in it ... gotta admit, i enjoyed it immensely ... he was sorta like the harlem globetrotters rolled up into 1 short fella ... *grin*

anyway glad to hear that you gotta see ur idol in the flesh serving up some hot serves (pun unintended) .... tot i doubt i could cook up tat much excitement even if i saw my fav player of all time playing rite in front of me ... incidentally tat happens to be Diego Armando Maradona .... the football player formerly of argentine and napoli .... not the dubious singer madonna .. trust me, lotsa ppl mix them up ... at his peak, he was the god ... or more rightly, the hand of god ... but since then he had fallen on harder times .... anyway gotta go ....

Bhargavi said...

Pete Sampras?? U mean THE Pete?? God!! he won the last match, thankfully :D He rocks!! err, am I getting incoherent here? May be, someone in the other blog got a chance to meet ARR, and here u have seen Pete play(and also Federer!!!), nan innum Shrikanth Deva kuda pakkala!!! :D (Prayer to God, I should never meet him.) And from your comments above I take it that u have successfully managed to kizhichufy the poster I gave u years back, it is so much better than Pisa, I dare say :P All the best for your exams.(Final punch :D)

Vani Viswanathan said...

Raj,
Woww!!! Thanks! If you do manage to get it, that'll just be.... never mind, i'll skip using some word :)

Vinesh,
Hehe.. not at all neccessary :P I'd rather he comes by at times like this and play well!

Dante,
Maradona? Haha. Let him get better with his help and not keep going to the hospital for something or the other first. :P
That said, he's one of the 5 or 6 ppl I know in soccer :D

Bhargavi,
THE PETE, sure it is, lady! :) :) LOL at the Srikanth Deva comment, yup, you're just fine not meeting him! I'm sure you'll probably get to spend a whole flight journey with someone you like when you're going you-know-where!! :)
That said, the poster's still safe and locked up in my draw. If I put it up, I'll look crazy, and I run the risk anyway :P
Oooh, today's my last exam!!!!!

Raj said...

hmm...looks like someone other than me is super-vetti! :D I mean...compared to the past where you reply occasionally or dont reply for a comment at all, now the replies r coming pretty fast! :P and good that today is ur last exam! Good Luck for that! :)

akila said...

Nice to know that you have enjoyed something with your fullest self in the fullest sense of happiness, though it is a fleeting one. Can vicariously feel your enthusiasm & ecstacy.

Aravind said...

Wow... 2 greats clashing!! thats amazing... all ur excitement shows in ur post!!! really well written!!

Aravind said...

BTW, exams over eh? chennai gal eppo coming to chennai? :D

Raj said...

"Sampras stuns Federer" - The China Post, Sunday, November 25, 2007..."I'm sort of surprised. This guy can play tennis, you know," the Swiss player said after his loss Saturday...need I say more?! :D

Vani Viswanathan said...

Raj,
Yup, I saw the news day before yesterday morning! :)
And it was during exams that I was this jobless, haha.. Now, they're done, woohoo!!

Akila,
Surprised I was able to transfer all the emotion to the post!

Aravind,
Hahah.. thanks :) Yup, I'm comin to Chennai in another week.. here I commeeeee!!!!

Raj said...

Exams over and **going to Chennai**!!! Lucky you! :) Me dont have any classes since a long time now...but am working on my thesis and wud be atleast 2 more months before i finish it and graduate..till then I cant move anywhere!! So...enakkum saerthu Chennaila enjoy pannidu! :) Happy Holidays!!

iCitizen said...

Hey.. I am sure you had a great time. I have seen how crazy you are !!

And "FedEx" was great ? Are you really in that pun mood ?

Have a great vaccation. Visit me if you have time.

I really dont know why i wrote that last sentence.