Tiger Woods and Sandy Koufax, Overcooked

What have Tiger Woods and Sandy Koufax shared? They have shared a burning desire to practice their skills to exhaustion, perhaps, with a terror of losing that provided the discipline required (a la Michael Jordan). Remember a loss in a major or a World Series game was a loss before millions, arguably, public humiliation. In Koufax’s case it was also letting down his teammates.

Perhaps, with the extensive training and under the pressure of big games or tournaments, their frames just wore down early. Koufax’s elbow was going to make him handicapped the rest of his life if he failed to retire early. Woods has said that he can walk on a course forever but the twisting can do horrible things to his oft-operated upon spine.

Where there’s a will there’s a way you say? Father time has a way of breaking down the plans of great athletes. May God bless them both with ever improving pain relief. We will never forget their grace under pressure.

The Best ATP Match I’ve Seen in 2020

I was not at all surprised following Dominic Thiem’s 7-5 victory in the first set, that, Novak (Nole) Djokovic prevailed 12-10 in the second set tiebreaker. Thiem, at that point, had failed to convert on several match points. Once, he had the match on his racket, only, to double fault at match point. Like all great players he has the short term memory of a 100 year old.

My 75 year old memory takes me back to 2014, when, I first saw Dominic on a practice court at Indian Wells doing some unique, weight-training maneuvers. I had never seen anything like it. Gunter Breznik, who had coached Boris Becker years before, had coached Dominic since he was eight.

I had seen Djokovic practice when he first competed in Indian Wells, as well. I had never seen anyone move or stretch as well on court as Nole. He was the quickest player I had ever seen on a court.

Today at 33, he is still considered by many the fastest mover, as well as, the best service returner in the game. Which brings us to the third set tie breaker. Nole started with a two minibreak lead in the breaker. Thiem caught him and they were even on serve.

Then, on a critical point, Nole completely bricked a first service return. He is well known for only rare, unforced errors in tiebreakers He let out a long, long roar after that miss.

That visible frustration was enough motivation to give Thiem the victory in the next few points. It’s true that he who chokes the least wins these matches, but the courage displayed was as even as it could have been. Well done gentlemen.

H. Robert Rubin, best-selling, Amazon memoirist and author of Look Backward Angel, How Did I Get Through This? and Please Save the Third Dance for Me, all available on Amazon.