Tennis – in a Tuxedo

Yes, I do have at home that relatively big, apparently very unspiritual TV right in front of the sofa, in the middle of the living-room.
I do need it, along with the DVD player, for my main work, in order to show the special films or documentaries that I use for the various workshops on Conscious Evolution that I give to individuals or small groups.
But there is also another reason why at some point, when in 2003 I happened to get a little bit of money from my just deceased father, I decided to buy myself, among other things, that TV: after thirty years in Auroville, I had become tired of missing every time all my beloved Tennis Championships, the ‘Majors’ particularly!…

Watching tennis played by great champions has always been for my body a way to be inspired to physical greatness: health and strength as well as harmony and precision in movement.
It is how I myself learned to play tennis as a teenager, to start with; the results were remarkable enough that other people thought that to play with such perfect movements, I must have been taught by some especially good teacher. They were right, my teachers had been the best ones indeed: all the best players in the world at the time!
I used to love tennis so much I would spend as much time as I could either playing myself, or watching others play.
When in Auroville too it became at last possible to play tennis, I started doing it again with the same all consuming interest as before; until after a few years like that I realized it was too much of a passion, and too much also of an ego-boosting one, so I decided to just stop.

Thanks to that TV now I can at least give myself the pleasure of watching the champions play, to my heart’s content, every time there is a big Championship.

So I don’t want to let this great tennis year end without a special mention in this blog of the victory a few days ago of Roger Federer, my top favorite player ever, at the Barclays ATP Finals. I exceptionally stayed up till late at night to be able to watch it live. Although Tsonga, his opponent in that Final, is French as I am, I was overjoyed when in the end Roger did win, as I had hoped all along. His own joy was quite a sight to watch too. Even Tsonga himself ended his own comments with ‘You are the best!’

I had noticed how last year, with the rise of Nadal for a while, and then Djokovic, to Number One,  although new clips about those two didn’t really come up, the beautiful ads about Federer that I liked so much before were not to be seen any more on the TV, and I missed them.
Frankly speaking, more or less all the ads about great tennismen are kind of the same: emphasizing the muscles, showing the player’s moves in various positions…

There was but one ad that for me crowns them all, literally: it’s one of those Rolex ads suitably titled ‘A crown for every achievement’. Those ones about Roger all are basically good ads, with usually the same powerful music made to match and punctuate in its rhythm the movements of the player. So they are all well done and satisfactory to watch.
But that one I am talking about carries everything one step higher still, towards still more total class than the other ones by Rolex; it gives you the actual feeling of something supreme: Excellence.

I am very happy to have found on YouTube, after much research, exactly that ad, as it has been shown again and again here on one of the main sports channels in India: Star Sports.
The address of that clip is:

http://www.vustv.com/rODQqyV_cGxtP

The tags for that video read as follows:

rolex, federer, roger, watch, blazer, suit, james, bond, style, look, elegant, lang, theme, graceful, elegance,     

Are those tags eloquent enough?
I would add one word more: ‘stunning’.

I can’t think of any other tennis player who could have pulled off such an ad with such natural ease, for he embodies all of the above, not just in that ad, but in his way of playing tennis in real life too.

In that remarkable ad, Roger appears on the screen, fully dressed for an evening out: emerging from a dark background, he is wearing a dark, very softly shining, supremely elegant tuxedo. A white shirt under it, no tie, collar open.
His hair is done impeccably, gelled back; his face is serious, without a smile.
He gives a look at his (Rolex…) watch; and then, as in a dream, he starts looking at himself playing in the background, all dressed in white as is still the rule at Wimbledon; in one hardly noticeable gesture, he undoes the unique button of his tuxedo and starts playing also where he is and as he is, the Roger in white shorts and t-shirt and the Roger in dark tuxedo mixing with each other in the rapid, flowing, easy sequence of images.
Then, the Roger in tuxedo, his hair still impeccably gelled, turns again fully facing us, closes again that one button, and his elegant silhouette becomes immobile again, his face wearing now an ever so faint smile while he looks again at his watch… The end.

Perfect. Stunning.

Although in this ad he embodies a somewhat elitist image of tennis, it is not what one notices, for there is nothing ostentatious or pretentious in the least in his attitude and way of being.
He is the one tennisman that my own body enjoys the most watching, the way it enjoys watching also ballet dancers. My cells love Federer.
Although he anchors both his feet firmly on the court for receiving a serve, he never looks heavy, or chained to the earth. Other players may be more massive and impressive physically, Roger’s body is muscular too, but lithe. And often seems to defy gravity altogether.

Of course he also fails, and becomes human again. Still, I’m ever grateful to him for having given us those other incredibly beautiful moments of miraculous effortlessness, where he is not so much any more playing against an opponent, as playing to experience the intense delight of playing beautifully: oblivious of everything else, he is lost in that intense delight of the perfect movement…

To me the way he is sometimes capable of playing represents  a kind of absolute, something like the very essence of tennis. As if his body had been born to do those extraordinary, fully outstretched movements so beautiful one remains awestruck.

I’ll sum it all up, with these words a mere boy, obviously a very enthusiastic fan, had put on the big piece of cloth he was holding up for all to read during a match I saw on the TV. Those words jokingly said it all:
‘FEDERER IS BETTERER’.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Anil
    Dec 03, 2011 @ 12:10:57

    Bhaga, as expected this is very well written!

    I also tried to learn Tennis sometime back, and found how difficult it is to control the ball with racket. It is a tough sport! May be it comes naturally to some people. I heard a story similar to yours from one of my previous bosses. When he did sailing for the first time, he just did it. There was no process of learning it and doing it. He was so fascinated with sailing that he learnt it without ever practicing it!

    While I admire Federer for his style of play, I also like his phenomenal ambition, and sophisticated ruthlessness on the court. It is like seeing a stylish killer or gladiator, in a controlled environment. How often do we see beauty, style, ambition, ruthlessness, and easygoing temperament in one person? Federer is very special indeed.

    If you have not come across already, here are two articles on Federer I liked:

    Federer as Religious Experience (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/20/sports/playmagazine/20federer.html?pagewanted=all)

    Roger Federer shows no mercy in Rafael Nadal’s hour of need at ATP World Tour Finals
    (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/tennis/atptour/8908401/Roger-Federer-shows-no-mercy-in-Rafael-Nadals-hour-of-need-at-ATP-World-Tour-Finals.html)

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    • Bhaga
      Dec 04, 2011 @ 09:43:59

      Both these articles, that i just read, are excellent indeed, Anil! Thank you for mentioning them and giving the links.
      The only point on which we differ, though, is when you use those words, ‘killer”, ‘ruthlessness’, about Roger. As far as I remember, he had on the contrary to undergo years of training to develop enough winning drive, which was what he lacked.

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      • Anil
        Dec 05, 2011 @ 16:05:24

        May be I have n’t expressed my thoughts clearly. When I said killer, and ruthlessness I was seeing Tennis sport as a battle, and it seems to me that it is a battle in a way. So my words were more symbolic. Of course it is true that no champion can afford to be kindhearted to his rivals. They sacrifice their childhood, and normal life training extremely hard for those majors, and they are forced to be ruthless in winning those great tournaments.

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  2. Bhaga
    Dec 06, 2011 @ 05:01:28

    This reply is to Anil: yes, in that sense you are quite right, now that i see what you mean!…🙂

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  3. Anil
    Jan 15, 2012 @ 05:38:31

    Hi Bhaga, hope you are doing well.

    Here is a nice article on Federer I came across and wanted to share:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/13/sports/tennis/13iht-sraofederer13.html

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