Many of our current players have slid in and out of the Top 20 but Australia has not had a world number one since Hewitt.
Sometimes, love isn’t a feeling you force upon yourself; it just happens.
When you start to spend more time with another human being, you expose yourself to whom he or she is — all the idiosyncrasies, past experiences, what makes him or her happy or sad, dreams and ambitions in life, flaws and the depths of his or her heart.
The difference between them and Lleyton is generational.
It’s an attitude I recognise sometimes in my students. World rankings of Aussie tennis players shift regularly.
Life moments are one-day matches between the West Indies and Australia going down to the wire, 16 runs off seven balls, everyone sunburnt and screaming at the TV. Men with Teflon reputations who can sell anything: housing developments, hotel chains, car insurance, underpants. Latham was like a Tamagotchi – something you feel embarrassed about coveting when it’s over. No one who has ever watched Lleyton play one of his epic matches comes out a hater and I mean the whole thing – not just the chainsaws and his trademarked “C’mon’s” in bite-sized highlights.
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Cut to the underdog thrill of watching Wally Lewis get right up into Mark Geyer’s face in a tense State of Origin decider or the excitement I feel racing out of bed at dawn to witness an unlikely Australian victory in the America’s Cup even though I’ve never been on a yacht in my life – a bright blue day when I learn that drinking beer out of a yard glass is a national and political skill and not just something that happens at BBQs. A preference that stands in for the defining modus operandi of the country. It’s just too easy to run things down especially when you have someone very damn good in your midst. Even when Lleyton won they found a way to spin it negatively. I mean those crazy five hour slogs where you end up doing three weeks’ worth of ironing because you can’t sit still, drinking a bottle of port or whatever’s congealing in the cupboard because the match has gone so long there’s no shops open, going down on your knees in despair when he misses a pull shot, running around the house like you’re on ice swearing you’ll never say a bad word about Nalbandian again as long as the true gods, wherever they are, shine down on the guy in the Rusty branded shoes.
The great battles in life are not going down in drama theatres, they’re not happening in-between the dusty covers of old books, they’re happening every weekend on sporting fields.
I know this because my dad and everyone else in my suburb is into sport, and really, I have no choice. This is the 1980s and the passion that flares in the smoke-filled lounge rooms of suburban houses and public bars is addictive.
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