Sunday, January 29, 2012

Proved my theory yet again

Told you I was right. There I was, minding my own business watching Grand Designs, flipping back and forth to see how Djokovic and Nadal were faring in the first set of the Australian Open final, when lo and behold I had to watch just at the crucial moment to see Rafa take out the first set.

Went back to the ABC, dared to come back to see Novak had the upper hand in the second set, looked like the set was in the bag so thought I’d cheer him on, only to see Rafa fall in line with my sporting jinx theory and turn on his characteristic power to break back and level it out again. Couldn’t watch, switched over again, and was overjoyed to see on my return Novak had managed to t, looked like the set was in the bag ssnare the second set.

Kept going in and out of the room during the third set which Djokovic won with the greatest of ease so far in the match, but I knew Nadal wouldn’t go down without a helluva fight and that the contest was far from over.

Despite the high drama, decided to head for bed, and was glad I did, as the 5hr 53min longest running 5 set marathon of a match in Grand Slam history kept the spellbound spectators waiting until after 1.30am before Djokovic finally claimed the victory.

So, did my absence from watching influence the outcome? Who’s to know, but what I do take from such a significant sporting endeavour is an amazing amount of respect for players who not only display great skill, but who refuse to buckle under immense pressure, and are gracious both in defeat as well as victory.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sports Jinx

I was very nearly the undoing of Novak Djokovic’s victory over Andy Murray in last night’s Australian Open semi final. Was I in the crowd and yelled out something at a crucial moment? No. Did I knowingly do something to undermine his attempt to work his way into yet another Grand Slam final? No. Did I spike his Gatorade? No.

So what did I do? I simply turned on the TV to watch.

Having long had a love of athletics despite my own inability to get any further than college representation, I’ve drawn much satisfaction from the exploits of others in their chosen fields. What has become glaringly apparent though over the last few years, is that the moment I sit down in the recliner and settle in to watch a good game, Ricky Ponting loses his wicket, the Western Bulldogs play like mongrels, Lleyton Hewitt has another 5 setter in the first round against some unknown player ranked at 382 in the world, Cadel Evans gets hemmed in on a sharp bend and gets knocked off his bike. You name it, whoever is supposed to be a sure thing inevitably falls apart at the all important moment.

Now, you may think I’m a little odd to believe this, but time and time again I have turned the fortunes of our sporting heroes around simply by walking out of the room. I’ve barely watched a footy match in the last three years, not that that’s helped the Doggies win a flag, but if I walk into the room as Cooney kicks the ball forward into the safe hands of Giansiracusa, an opponent will always materialise from nowhere to steal it with a goal mere seconds away. So, to help the ball on its way, I go hang out the washing and return to see if they managed to succeed.

Tennis matches are so fraught with tension my fingernails fall victim, so my tactic is to flip channels about every ten minutes to catch the score and monitor the progress. Last night’s semi final, according to the TV guide, was to start at 7.30 then be followed by a movie at 10.30. Following the script of most of the matches this week between the top players, the crowd had to stay until way past midnight before a deciding result.

Nearly 5 hours in duration, Novak and Andy slogged it out, Andy refusing to be intimidated by the world’s No 1. At one set apiece, the third was getting interesting, this was obviously not going to be a Novak walkover. Couldn’t bear to watch, came back to see Andy had won that one. Wasn’t sure I wanted to see Novak beaten, so turned it off, did something else, thought I’d go to bed as it was pretty late.

Made myself a cuppa, turned the TV back on again to find Novak had won the fourth set in no time flat, was 5-2 up in the fifth, see, told you it helps when I’m not watching, so figured I’d watch him take it out as there was no way he could lose it from there.

And what happened? As sure as eggs are eggs the whole thing started to unravel before my eyes. Novak couldn’t win a trick, Andy blitzed him from every angle and before we knew it they were at level pegging with the crowd going ballistic in support of Andy. What had I done? Why was I watching? The whole thing was slipping away, but with some sort of morbid fascination I had to see it through to the bitter end. Of course, the result is now history, with Novak fighting on with grim determination to win what I think was one of the toughest and most defining matches of his career.

Only downside to such a victory is that he now has to gather himself together and do it all again for the final, a daunting prospect, but one which elite players in all sports face week in week out. For us mere mortals, the prize might not be as grand, but we also face daily hurdles which require us to rise to the occasion and put in our best effort. We all feel small in the face of life’s big challenges, but having the guts to realise our full potential, whether or not someone is watching who might have an influence on the outcome, would be rich reward indeed.

As Christopher Robin once said to Winnie the Pooh, “You must remember this; you’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”