Sunday, January 29, 2012

Tennis Career Grand Slam

These athletes today sure are good.  Armstrong wins a hundred times in a row at the Tour de France.  The records of Babe Ruth and Roger Maris are crushed many times over.  Tennis players now keep ripping balls, sprinting, and changing directions for five and six hours at a stretch.  Must be the training.  That Rafa eats McDonalds and Skittles and guzzles sodas and has never been seen in the weight room means nothing.

During the open era of tennis which began in 1968, only one man had won all four of the tennis majors, completing the so-called career grand slam.  That man was Rod Laver.  Laver managed to win all four majors in the same year back in 1969.  An amazing feat. Laver did in one year what nobody else in the open era was able to do in their whole career.  That is until recently.

Borg failed. Connors failed. McEnroe failed. Lendl failed. Wilander failed. Becker failed. Edberg failed. Courier failed. Sampras failed.

Not until Andre Agassi teamed up with Gil Reyes did a man win a career slam in the open era.  Unlike when Laver did it, since the late 1970s the four majors have been contested on three different surfaces - clay, grass, and hard court.  So tough was it to beat all your foes on those different surfaces, in the different environments of the four majors, that nobody, none of those great champions listed above, was able to win at all four venues in their careers.

Since Agassi accomplished the feat, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have both done it.  Novak Djokovic is within a French title of joining them.  Three have done it.  A fourth is favored to join them.  All since the late 1990s.  Hmm.  What is it about those late 1990s that has turned tennis players into all-time greats?  Probably just the physios they all have traveling with them.  That's it.  The physios and those elastic bands.  And Skittles.

I'm sure that's what it is.

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