Thursday, June 30, 2005

Hall of Famers

Just as the announcement of Todd Woodbridge’s retirement was about to be consigned to the more volatile parts of my memory, Channel 9 stepped in with an (a rerun?) episode of ‘This is Your Life’ (a similar show used to run on Zee in India). It has been a truly incredible career for Woodbridge, and the Woodies certainly raised the bar for doubles achievements and have been, in a large part, responsible for whatever interest remains. The monumental record notwithstanding, that is perhaps the Woodies’ greatest contribution to the game. Doubles has seen better days, certainly in the days of ‘the Mac’. Some 83 titles, including nine at the All-England club, 21 doubles wins in a row, Olympic Golds and even singles titles – every thing one can wish for as a tennis pro, Woodbridge has achieved. He has also been an underrated singles player, having reached semi-finals at Grand Slam events twice and a high ranking inside the top twenty. If Woodbridge is an example of a player maximizing his talent/skills, Lindsay Davenport is somewhat of a profligate. Davenport has three slams to show among her collection of 47 titles on the tour, but her talent suggests she has definitely under-achieved. When in full flow, she is one of the most powerful, yet attractive shot-makers in the women’s game. Yet somehow, her touch seems to desert her on the really big occasions. As much as I am a fan of Serena Williams, I think Davenport really blew the Australian Open final. She almost gave it away against Alicia Mollick in the quarters and had a lucky escape. I imagine, though, that among loyal tennis fans Davenport is held in good esteem for her skills and particularly for the way she handles herself. She certainly has my vote for the Hall of Fame when she decides to hang up her boots. Woodbridge doesn’t need any – his very selection will lend credibility to the institution! - NK

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