The doom-mongers who predicted the end of tennis as a sport of global interest when Roger, Serena and Rafa finally leave the stage, have been proved to be wildly over pessimistic given events at the US Open over the past week or so. It’s been one of the most enthralling, captivating and slightly bewildering Grand Slams for a long while, and we reach the quarter final stage, with perhaps even more surprisingly from a British perspective, the prospect of a new genuine star of the game coming from these shores.
Another peek into the nebulous post-GOATs ATP universe will be on offer at this year’s US Open in Flushing Meadows. The crowds may be returning to fill the silent, cavernous, concrete voids of 2020, but Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are not – the pair remaining in Europe to recuperate from their respective war wounds.
Observers will now be keen to see if Osaka can justify her lofty WTA ranking, as well as the enormous exposure. A sought-after and saliva-inducing final between the contrasting characters and top 2 seeds would take place on July 31st.
Is this it? The final curtain? The coda? GOATs: Endgame? I have a feeling it might be. And it brings me absolutely no pleasure at all. What at times may have felt like an infinity war in the marvellous universe of men’s tennis over the last 15-20 years, now looks to be approaching the post-credits sequence.
The key thing is not to get involved in a blame game. There are no winners in the Naomi Osaka at Roland Garros furore.
All tennis nerds know that Roland Garros - who lends his name to the home of the French Open - was a famous WW1 fighter pilot. Odd name for a tennis facility you might think, but one of America's principal tennis arenas is named after a trumpet player, so it's really not that incongruous. But what many people don't know is that Monsieur Garros' last words were 'I just hope that bally left-handed Majorcan doesn't win it every single year!'
I have played tennis from the age of eight and in the bright Florida sunshine had a whole winter to sharpen up my serve, which was just as well because tennis suddenly became the focus of our gambling lives. The pro tour was coming to town, the players were all staying at the club and would be playing a two-day pro-am with members (entry fee: $1,000 to charity).
Nick Kyrgios has started a remarkable trend, promising to donate $200 to the Australian bushfire crisis for every ace he serves throughout the Australian summer. We are following suit.