August 22, 2006

David Foster Wallace on Roger Federer as religious experience: (NY Times link): in which Wallace, a former tennis prodigy himself, makes an elegant case for why everyone should see Federer play in person at least once in their lives.

In the light of the recent ascension of Tiger Woods up another step towards Valhalla, this is an interesting (and, of course, given the author, exhaustive, eloquent, poetic and heavily footnoted) counterpoint.

posted by chicobangs to tennis at 02:54 AM - 12 comments

Subtlety, touch, and finesse are not dead in the power-baseline era. For it is, still, in 2006, very much the power-baseline era: Roger Federer is a first-rate, kick-ass power-baseliner. Itís just that thatís not all he is. Thereís also his intelligence, his occult anticipation, his court sense, his ability to read and manipulate opponents, to mix spins and speeds, to misdirect and disguise, to use tactical foresight and peripheral vision and kinesthetic range instead of just rote pace ó all this has exposed the limits, and possibilities, of menís tennis as itís now played.

posted by chicobangs at 02:55 AM on August 22

Thanks so much for this. Made a shitty day a lot brighter. I don't have a good way to describe DFW's work, but it makes me a little wistful that I don't understand tennis well enough to appreciate it like that. Or to at least have a seatmate to explain it. His love of math is almost equally over my head, but I can at least appreciate the point about the triangle in the footnotes. Undoubtedly pink tacos and locker room fistfights will dominate the day, but this is my favorite link in quite some time.

posted by yerfatma at 08:46 AM on August 22

Hey, that was great. I can read Wallace on tennis all day. Infinite Jest and the two tennis articles in A Supposedly... were the first things that really got me interested in the game.

posted by cobra! at 09:25 AM on August 22

That article was wicked good. I read it in an English accent in my head and subsequently fell in love with Roger Federer ('s game) all over again. Though, I have to say, I've never found it too difficult to see beauty in sports. It's one of sports' primary attractors for me.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 10:05 AM on August 22

Yeah, but not like that. That kind of article makes it hard to read the sports page. I'm not asking my local beat guy to go footnote nutty or buy a thesaurus (cannot spell that word for the life of me), but it makes me wonder at the point of The Game Story in Our Modern Era. What is the point of explaining a 7-2 mid-season victory by two teams who are already out of it? I'm not following the sport to see how Seattle handles Kansas City in a battle of #4 starters. I'm here for the metaphor, the crucible that hardens men (ooh!) to diamond-like perfection or breaks them on the Todd Marinovich Memorial Anvil.

posted by yerfatma at 10:21 AM on August 22

I'm here for the metaphor, the crucible that hardens men (ooh!) to diamond-like perfection or breaks them on the Todd Marinovich Memorial Anvil. I agree; but in Minneapolis, at least, there are a lot more people who want excruciatingly-detailed examination of every minute aspect of the lives of the rosters of the Twins/Vikings/Wolves/Wild/etc, preferably leavened with some side-splitting pop-culture references. And, sadly, they buy more papers.

posted by cobra! at 10:43 AM on August 22

I'm not a great fan of grasspong myself, but that was a simply fantastic article. Thanks Chico.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 01:11 PM on August 22

That was magnificent writing about a magnificent creature playing a magnificent game. Thanks, Chico. I really enjoyed reading that - gave me a warm, tingly, spofi feeling.

posted by JJ at 03:19 PM on August 22

Thanks, chico. It was certainly a lot easier to read than 'Infinite Jest'. And didn't mean a late fine from my local library. But if you like this piece, go with cobra!'s recommendation and find the tennis articles in Wallace's 'A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again'. Just as good.

posted by owlhouse at 05:32 PM on August 22

I read it in an English accent in my head and subsequently fell in love with Roger Federer ('s game) all over again. Just out of curiosity, guv, why would you read it in an English accent? Wallace is as American as apple pie.

posted by psmealey at 05:06 AM on August 26

..... I read everything in an English accent. I don't know- echoes of Masterpiece Theatre, maybe?

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 10:43 AM on August 26

Excellent read, thanks chico. Makes me want to buy tickets to the US Open right now.

posted by qbert72 at 09:32 PM on August 26

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