Thursday, May 21, 2009

Watching the classics

After seeing the 1986 French Open final again this week on Tennis Channel, I believe that--first set excluded--it was even better than the 1985 final. I say excluding the first set because Chris Evert, who rarely double-faulted her entire career, somehow double-faulted the entire first set away. But after that, the shot-making by both her and Martina Navratilova was spectacular. These are two of my favorite matches of all time, partly because they were comeback matches for Evert, but also because they show the two champions in such wonderful form.

Tennis Channel also showed the infamous 1999 final, which I just about cannot bear to watch. Though I am well aware that Martina Hingis brought much of her pain on herself in that match, I still think the French crowd was too harsh on her. And--as great as it was to see the almost-30-year-old Steffi Graf win her 22nd major--it still pains me to watch Hingis let it slip away the way she did.

More painful, though, is to listen to Graf tell her opponent, "don't worry," because she would have other chances and she was sure to win her own French Open title. Shortly before Graf comforted Hingis, Chris Evert proclaimed, from the broadcast booth, that "She's going to be around for a long time, and she's sure to win the French Open." Of course, she not only failed to win the French Open--she never won another major. It still makes me sad.

Another thing that makes me sad is that Evert is no longer a French Open commentator. Several years ago, she asked to be relieved of her duties because she wanted to spend more time with her adolescent sons. I assumed that, once they got a bit older, she would come back, but she never did. The French Open just isn't the same without Evert.

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