Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Legends of the Fall: hardcourt woes

When I watch Rafael Nadal throw himself all around the court, I feel like I'm watching Boris Becker. But of late, the Sapniard has been injury prone and I wonder if will curtail his career. Nadal may be a clay court specialist which isn't as bad as playing on the hardcourt surface say of Flushing Meadows which can be hard on one's knees, but he takes to every game like his whirling dervish self.

The last Australian Open made use of a plexicushion surface that supposedly is helpful to a player's legs and knees but the balls lacked the zip of grass or hardcourt. So I can actually understand why some players choose to skip some tournaments. But when they're paid a lot of money, fans and the ATP expect them to play.

I actually thought that Patrick Rafter -- who was a bull on hardcourts -- eventually succumbed to his injuries and tendinitis. Let's keep that fella from Basel, Switzerland out of this, but when you talk about longevity and sustained greatness in the modern era then I'd say that you gotta have Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi in there. Unlike Marcelo Rios, Rafter (and he was only world number one for a week), Gustavo Kuerten, and Mark Philippoussis who all disappeared after a short spell at the top.

I'd say that there are a couple of more reasons why we constantly see the player pool ravaged by injuries. One is the lack of rest and downtime between tournaments. Players constantly jet all over the world from one tourney to another. Unfortunately, not playing means losing valuable points in the rankings and more money.

The other thing is playing style. Players like Sampras and Federer play the baseline more than an attacking style. They play the angles so well that they make it hard for an opponent to return a shot. if they do, they they're ripe for a drop shot or a smash.

But the ATP should look into protecting their players. After all, they are their meal tickets and for me, I enjoy watching Nadal -- God, bless this Tasmanian devil of a tennis player -- reprise a guy named Becker.

--- Rafa dives and returns a shot against Roger Federer in this clay and grass court competition.

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