Sunday, August 17, 2008

Vamos Rafa

I just watched Rafael Nadal win the gold-medal men's singles match here in straight sets over Chile's Fernando Gonzalez. "Rafa" has had a magical year and rightly assumes the No.1 spot in tennis on Monday -- hard to argue after he has won the French Open, Wimbledon and now the Olympics.
Gonzalez plays a high-risk, high-reward game -- absolutely swinging as hard as he can on his forehand on every shot. But Nadal ground him down, slowly and surely. As a tennis player myself, I admire his tenacity as much as I admire that wicked lefty forehand.
In women's doubles, the Williams sisters won gold. In men's doubles, Roger Federer showed how good he could be in doubles if he tried, winning gold. Federer had lost in the quarters in singles to American James Blake, who then lost to Gonzalez.

This tournament was like a fifth major for tennis hidden away inside the massive sports festival that is the Olympics. I'll only write one story about tennis in the three weeks I'm in Beijing -- about Nadal, for our Aug.18 paper -- but it was a pleasure to watch him play.

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