Heartbreak, jubilation, sorrow, confusion, determination, malevolence -- each and more were part of the 2010 tennis season.
Ah, look at Roger in that picture. Doesn't he look so pissed yet so calm? And isn't that one of the best parts of being a die-hard tennis fan -- that we get to really peer inside the tortured and/or ecstatic minds of the athlete and really FEEL what they're going through? I know it's always been one of my favorite things about watching tennis. The voyeuristic element is enticing, the fact that we, as fans, are granted a window into the soul of the athlete.
Sometimes it's ugly and all mishmashed (Vera). Sometimes it's dark and brooding (Fed). Sometimes it's so intense it practically burns right through you (Rafa).
Sometimes it's surprisingly vacuous (Berdych, Cilic). Sometimes it's morose (Dinara, Querrey in Paris), and other times it's uplifting, bubbly, and bright (Baghdatis, Tsonga).
Sometimes it's every single emotion plus a few you've never experienced before, all wrapped into one (Novak).
Other times it's too intense, almost neurotic, insane intense (Henin) and it makes you painfully aware of how tennis is a sport unlike any other, how it is a game that demands perfection in a world where perfection simply isn't possible.
It all makes you wonder if the best players are the best players because they are the best players or are they the best players because they've read every bit of tennis psychology -- aka the MENTAL GAME -- that they can get their hands on. Because when you think about it, there are so many matches that seem to hinge on ONE HUGE POINT.
And with each huge point there is a gesture. A glance. A fist pump. A towel over the head or a racquet embedded in the clay, that says "here I am, naked before you, wanting desperately to be everything that I knew I could be before I stepped out on this court."
And with these gestures, we have further proof that the sport of tennis is a creature unlike any other.
Here are a just a few of my favorite tennis gestures of 2010. There were millions, and I enjoyed them all...
1. The Nadal Somersault at Wimbledon: This was the most unscripted, boyish, innocent, and cute thing Nadal did all year. It was like a brief respite from the slaughter that basically went down, uninterrupted, from April to September. And the double fist pump at the end? Classic!
2. Francesca Schiavone Kissing the Clay: Oh, man I had to go back and watch this a few times because I was crying when it happened live. I'm gonna cross my fingers and hope that something more inspirational than Schiavone's French Open title happens in 2011, but I'm not getting my hopes up.
3. Sampras hammering a serve at Andre during the Hit For Haiti: This one taught me that you can take the player out of the competition, but you can't take the competition out of the player. I think Andre deserved this for sure, and while the whole thing was probably unnecessary, immature, and caddy, it was delightfully fun to watch.
4. Serbian Baldies, Davis Cup Champions: I'm not sure if this fits the classic definition of an emotional tennis gesture, but seeing the Serbs climb to the top of the tennis ladder, collectively rather than individually, then seeing them all symbolically shave each others heads as if to imply that they were all soldiers in the same army, was just the type of boisterous and playful gesture that I expected, wanted, and needed at that moment. I'm sure we are all in agreement about this one, right?
5. The Campionship Chest Bump Into a Love Straddle: What's better than a little doubles love to close out the segment? The Bryan Brothers -- so passionate, so dedicated, so entertaining, and so tough to beat -- have climbed further than any other doubles team ever has before. Here's the vid of their record-breaking match point in their home state of California.
Their milestone victory was about so many things: the importance of family, the coolness of making the most out of your twinship, and it was also a pretty good promotional idea to sell records.