There’s so much going on in swimming and tennis right now that my head is spinning. So let’s plunge right in, shall we?
Down Under, Michael Phelps was back in a big way at the Pan Pacific Championships, winning gold in the 100 butterly, 4 X200 and medley relays and silvers in the 200 IM and the 4X100 relay.
It’s a measure of just how talented the 29-year-old is that he can take a year and a half off and already come back this far. You have to credit part of that to luck, fate, Providence, whatever, particularly when you consider that Missy Franklin, the darling of the last Olympics and worlds, played a limited role at the Pan Pacific with a sore back – at age 19. Indeed, the pictures of Phelps smiling on the medal stand, looking at his gold medal for the 100 fly, in which Ryan Lochte finished second (seems like old times) said it all.
This has been a good moment for “old timers.” Federinas, along with the press, have practically anointed a resilient Roger Federer winner of this year’s US Open, which gets underway in earnest Monday, Aug. 25. No Rafa, comfortable weather and an easy draw make Feddy Bear a shoo-in for the final. Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic has a hard draw and mucho distraction with wife Jelena due to give birth in October. And he acknowledged that tennis is no longer his No. 1 priority. This seems to delight the Federinas and Nole-haters – the two groups are often one and the same – no end. But you know what? Nole’s right. Priorities change, particularly when family is involved. You still, however, have to do your job. No one’s expecting much from the expectant father, given his tough draw (Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga). But then, no one ever expects much from Nole despite his being Wimbledon champion and world No. 1. And when doesn’t he have a tough draw? Look, people prefer Federer the way they’re glad Phelps is back. It’s all about a name brand they don’t have to think on. It’s like buying Tide detergent. We’ll just have to see how this plays out, won’t we?
While Nole’s been getting married and thinking family, Caroline Wozniacki’s been thinking career after her golfing boyfriend Rory McIlroy broke off their engagement. It’s good to see Caro back in the game, in more ways than one, although some, like tennis analyst Mary Carillo, are wondering if she’s jeopardizing her career by also preparing for the New York City Marathon. But I get why she’s doing it. When I think of Wozniacki now, I think of Seal’s song “Amazing,” which figures into the upcoming novel in my series “The Games Men Play,” “In This Place You Hold Me.” In my book, the song is a metaphor for both football’s running game/read option and coping with a relationship ended:
Say you don’t know how to do it now
So you run
It’s not that your bleeding but you’re through it now
So you run
So you run.