The Wonderful W’s Of One Sunday Night In July
The night of July 15th was one for the record books if you were an International Sports fan—for that night held the promise of being a viewing marathon; the Wimbledon Men’s Final, followed by the World Cup Final. Serbian Novak Djokovic versus South African Kevin Anderson on the green grass of SW 19, then Le Bleus of France against the upstart Croatians in Moscow. So that’s two W’s, Wimbledon and the World Cup; and that’s presuming you weren’t after a replay of the third W, the Pacquiao Win of earlier in the day!
After Kevin Anderson’s Friday semi-final with John Isner extended to 6 hours, we were wondering if there was anything left in his tank, whether the immensity of the occasion would overwhelm him, and actually hoping the match would end before the World Cup Final would get under way! I know selfish to the max, but honest to the extreme. After all, there’s only so much snack food you should munch on in the course of one night!
I was personally rooting for Anderson, as while I admire Djokovic fighting to regain supremacy in the sport he dominated for some years, it’s always good to have some ‘new blood’ Grand Slam winner. Between Federer, Nadal, and Novak, and factoring in Wawrinka and Murray, only Del Potro and Cilic have broken into the stranglehold the first five had held over all the Grand Slam Finals since 2006! That’s 12 years of practically choosing from five names over 48 Finals (there are four Grand Slam titles up for grabs every year—the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open).
It means so much for me to have played in the @Wimbledon final. There are so many positives and great memories I will be taking with me. Thanks to everyone from South Africa and around the world for your support and messages. It has been an incredibly special fortnight. pic.twitter.com/WxKGvl6bho— Kevin Anderson (@KAndersonATP) July 15, 2018
But alas, Anderson was just going to maintain the South African ‘Kevin’ tradition of making it to the finals, only to come up short—the last time a South African made it to a Grand Slam Final was Kevin Curren back in 1985! Anderson’s first serve deserted him over the first two sets, and against one of the best service returns in the business, Novak was off and running, with his three-year old son, Stefan, scene-stealing during the awarding ceremony (Wimbledon rules do not allow children below the age of 5 from attending matches).
"For the first time in my life, I have someone screaming daddy, daddy!"— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 15, 2018
A 13th Grand Slam title for @DjokerNole, but this one will hold a special place in his heart ??#Wimbledon pic.twitter.com/sQRClwWT0i
Like clockwork, as the curtain was descending on Wimbledon, the World Cup final was beginning. And this was one crazy final that had just about everything... except an upset. Redeeming themselves after their inglorious Euro 2016 Finals exit at the hands of Portugal; this young, racially diverse les Bleus recalled France’s last World Cup triumph in 1998, when the team was inspired by Zidane.
4-2 it was when the final whistle blew; and ironically, while they were on the short end of the score, the Croatians actually dominated play, and were more aggressive in creating chances. A pitch invasion, a controversial VAR (Video Assisted Replay) decision that awarded France a penalty in the first half, and Croatian Mandzukic going into the record books as the first player to score a goal for both sides in a World Cup Final - this was exciting TV viewing, and was a fitting finale given the rash of last minute goals and upsets that had marked the month-long tournament.
Millions swarmed onto the Champs Elysees in Paris till the wee hours; and given how so many Filipinos have ties with the French, the feeds of so many FB friends were filled with congratulatory messages, and calls for endless drinking and celebration. Hopefully though, this French victory won’t spill over into making things more than they—a sports achievement. Back in ‘98, Zidane and the team were so idolized, they were even raised up as saviours of French cultural diversity. And looking back, it’s evident that they were exalted beyond a point of reason - turned into symbols and used by politicians, without true rhyme or reason.
Exciting Sunday night; and bleary-eyed, at around 1am, we could finally turn off the TV and doze off... Zzzz.
Lead images from @fifaworldcup and @wimbledon on Instagram