My favourite quote of the day comes from the comments space on the TennisWorld blog, after the unheralded (and unheard of) world number 137 Ruben Hidalgo threw away a 5-1 lead – along with a priceless, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to beat Roger Federer – in the final set of a Monte Carlo Masters match:
“Hidalgo will sleep like a baby tonight. He will wake up crying every two hours.”
Harsh but true. I was scoreboard-watching the match (saw the repeat later) while following the TennisWorld discussion, and it was an escape to beat all escapes – lots of credit to Federer, of course, but he almost certainly wouldn’t have got out of that situation if he had been facing even a slightly more experienced player. It was one of those familiar, and cruel, sporting moments. Hidalgo was playing with freedom and confidence for most of the final set – right up to the moment where he was just two points away from the match. In sight of the biggest achievement of his life, the freakish enormity of what he was about to do must have sunk in. “I’m going to beat Roger Federer!” he must have thought to himself, and off he went on a walkabout. He’ll still have a good story to tell his grandkids 40 years from now, but it won’t have the ending he would have wanted.
(The European clay season is finally underway. I’m nervous because this should be the year that Rafa finally loses some of his unreal dominance on the surface, especially given the number of points he has to defend and how packed the schedule is. But Vamos! anyway.)