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Freeman Cebu Sports

Denial

WRECKORDER - FGS Gujilde - The Freeman

Something strange happened last Sunday on TV. It showed Novak Djokovic won his sixth Wimbledon title and record-tying twentieth grand slam overall. It did not happen. Here is the body of evidence. The guy at the other side of the net is neither Rafael Nadal nor Roger Federer. In all finals since 2006 until the tournament was canceled last year, the Swiss Maestro lost once to the king of clay and thrice to Djokovic. Conversely, Nadal lost to Federer twice and once to Djokovic.

That’s 7 out of 14 times the trivalry alternately contested the crown for want of a worthy alternative. In all improbability thus, it was unlikely for an Italian named Matteo Berrettini to be in the finals. Hoax, more so why Roger Federer is not there. Earlier in the quarterfinals he went down to Hubert Hurcakz in three sets. Losing in straight sets may not be new to the 8-time champion. But he was bageled in the third by the young Polish who grew up idolizing the now middle aged king of grass. Federer not winning a game in one set in grass? Get me out of here.

At 34, Novak should be beyond his peak. But the way he played seemed he must be genetically remastered. It was not Novak out there. It was synthetic Djokovic. But most damning evidence Wimbledon 2021 did not happen is the coverage itself, beamed live to millions worldwide. In plain view, the idiot box showed the center court packed to the rafters, with people seated next to each other. Unmasked. Even those in the royal box. It could not have been at this time of corona. This must be a blast from the past, or back to the future. It cannot be now.

But wait, it may be damning, but not overwhelming evidence. I saw very few people wear masks. Interspersed, they looked Japanese who masked even before corona. That’s how cautious the most disciplined people on earth are. Unlike many of us who are forced to wear masks. It must be because it is redundant. Most of us already wear one, the kind that smiles at your face and spits vile at your back. Some health experts are right after all, face shields only add cost, but not another layer of protection.

And so the record stands. FeDal still owns untouchable 20. Exclusively. Djokovic remains a slam away from the all-time duopoly. I concede 19 to him as of the last French Open, even if it meant denying Rafa the chance to better Federer by at least one more slam. Rafa can’t afford to leave best friend Roger behind. Loyalty. Or destiny. Or no other choice, they’re both aging. Just like some old couples still together after so many years, not out of undying love but of necessity. In the guise of commitment. There is forever, but reasons differ. Regardless, Rafa and Roger should wake me up from this nightmare. It must be easier for them to welcome the Serbian, with all their fame and fortune. I have neither but contentment.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC
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