U.S. Rolls Russia; Federer Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year?
If you were looking for some edge-of-your-seat tennis excitement this weekend, the U.S. v. Russia Davis Cup final wasn’t it. At least not for me.
Andy Roddick won the opener over a lackluster Dimtry Tursunov in straights. James Blake followed with an impressive four set win over Mikhail Youhzny, and then the Bryans sealed the win defeating Nikolay Davydenko and Igor Andreev for the first US Davis Cup win since 1995.
The ultimately ended up 4-1 in favor the of the U.S., which dropped a dead rubber singles on Sunday.
Credit to the American team for really rolling through the entire tournament, and keeping the squad intact – I believe the U.S. has now fielded the same lineup in their last seven ties, and if they continue and get good luck with the draw (i.e., not having to play anyone on clay), I think they can keep on winning.
By the way, if you don’t live stateside and you are wondering what kind of impact the victory made here in the U.S., it’s very little. With all the football and BCS talk this weekend the win was hardly mentioned in major news outlets. And I bet a very large percentage of the population don’t even know of the victory or what the Davis Cup represents. But that’s a whole different post…
Speaking of the media, it’s that time of the year when Sports Illustrated announces its Sportsman of the Year. We went through this a year ago when the American magazine selected NBA Miami Heat star Dwayne Wade over our Swiss guy, which raised eyebrows a few and a ingnited a mild furor in the tennis/sporting world.
Despite his incredible achievements, Federer has never won the award and in fact has never even graced the cover of Sports Illustrated, the latter being total bunk in my opinion. I know many of you really don’t care about SI or their award (yeah, I know the Laureus is the important one), but I’ll still be interested to see the who gets it.
Again, the odds are against Federer. He’s not American. He plays tennis, which is a second/third tier sport in the U.S. and his face on that cover isn’t going to sell a lot of magazines (always important!). And he may not have that rags-to-riches, heart-warming story. You could also make the case that Federer had a better statistical year in 2006 than he did in 2007, and since he didn’t win it last year how could he win it now?
As for Fed’s his competition there’s no clear cut, runaway choice anymore. In my mind Alex Rodriguez was the leader a month ago but was eliminated after he and his New York Yankees tanked again in the playoffs. NFL quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are certainly still at the top of the list. Both seem to be genuine good, clean all-American guys. Manning of course won the Super Bowl back in February while Brady has been tearing apart the league this season with the New England Patriots.
Also in the running I think are Colts head coach Tony Dungy, the Boston Red Sox team (I can’t seem to pick out an individual player, maybe Josh Beckett), the Florida Gators basketball team, Sidney Crosby from the NHL and Barry Bonds, who set the home run mark this summer.
Heck, I think SI could and maybe should do some sort of “Anti-Sportsman” award with Barry Bonds, Michael Vick, Isiah Thomas, Dom Imus, Pacman Jones, the Fed (no, not Federer but the rather the FBI!), etc. Would be fitting but I doubt they’d take that risk.
All that said, I think Federer has a shot. A decent one. I’m starting to think that Brady and Manning will cancel each other out, that leaves Federer, Dungy and I’ll throw in Bonds. Among those final three, Bonds is the easy odd man out when it comes to class, character and other sportsman type qualities, leaving just Federer or Dungy, who are two great, classy and deserving sportsmen.
If you live outside of the U.S. or if you don’t know the Dungy story, it’s a good one. I won’t break it all down here, but he’s a worthy selection, one I’m sure few people would take issue with once you learn his back story.
But I’ll go the other way on this one.
Given that Federer’s never been on the cover of the magazine and given that this may be the last year in which he wins 3+ Slams, a mark that puts him in contention for such an honor, I think SI will give Roger the long overdue nod. Now I wouldn’t hold your breath on this one and I’ve been wrong before on a lot of things, so let’s see how it plays out!
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