What if tennis didn't exist...July 1, 2014
In a small corner of south west London, England, the world’s biggest tennis tournament is nearing the business end of its 2014 reckoning. Watching the world’s best players at this year’s event got us wondering: if tennis never existed, what sport would these men play? Some of the choices below are quite obvious once you learn a little of a player’s background beyond the ATP tour. Others are more suitable given their physical attributes and public personalities. A couple, we just hope and pray are actually happening in a parallel universe.
Rafael Nadal – cricket
The muscular upper-body of the world’s number one tennis player would unarguably (we think) make him a formidable batter. We’ve all seen the size of Rafa’s biceps, now imagine him tonking a full toss square over midwicket – he’d be a leftie, of course. A dangerous weapon in Twenty20 for sure, but given the stamina he’s shown in countless five-set major finals, we’d have him at number three in the traditional five-day test format.
Novak Djokovic – skiing
As we told you in our recent interview with the Djoker, Nole is from a ski-mad family who are from a ski-resort town on the old Serbia-Kosovo border. It’s a given that had he not found a tennis racquet as a child, skiing would have been his raison d'être. Also, have you seen the way he slides into shots, bending his lower legs into what would be ankle-breaking territory for any other human? Proof that in a parallel universe he is a World Champ slalom skier.
Roger Federer – golf
Now Federer is a proud football fan of his hometown club FC Basel and he also enjoys table tennis. But we just can’t imagine the Fed Express screaming at fans, diving for penalties or biting opponents – and table tennis is far too similar to what he actually does. However with his height, laid-back style, familiarity with travelling the world, personable demeanour and of course his multi-million dollar Nike sponsorship, we think golf suits the Swiss gent pretty well.
Andy Murray – football
The boy from Dunblane, Scotland, is renown for his pre-practice warm-up of tennis-football, where he and his team kick a tennis ball back and forth over the net. If you ever watch it, it’s evident he has some nice touches with his feet. The 27-year old was offered the chance to play with Glasgow Rangers back in the day, and lived in Barcelona during his late teenage years – so we’re picturing him as a Xavi-esque midfielder, lover of the tika-taka style.
Tomas Berdych – ice hockey
The big server is a not-so-secret fan of ice hockey, passionately following the Detroit Red Wings. He has established friendships with several Czech players from the NHL and 1998 Olympic gold medal team, who in return are big tennis fans. If Berdych could somehow transfer the power from his big right-hand serve through a hockey stick, he’d make a deadly forward.
David Ferrer – jockey
At 5ft 9 and weighing just 73kgs, David Ferrer isn’t so much built to be a tennis player as he is a horse-racing jockey. [Editor’s note: obviously his build means nothing on the court, as he’s awesome and ranked number 7 in the world.] Jockeys must be small, lightweight, preferably Irish and of a pale complexion, so David has two out of four. We’d put him in the Grand National at 50-1.
Juan Martin Del Potro – rugby
Apart from having the best name on the ATP Tour, Del Potro is also the son of an ex-semi-professional rugby player. The Argentinian has said if he hadn’t gone into tennis he would have taken up a career in architecture, but we’re not so sure. We think that in a parallel universe his father would have pushed Juan Martin to follow in his footsteps. Besides, at 6ft 6 and weighing 97kgs, he could probably still have a decent run out now at outside centre.
John Isner - basketball
Yes, admittedly this is stereotypical that a very tall, athletic person is bracketed as being a good basketball player. But wait for it: Isner – AKA the man who won the longest tennis match ever – used to play basketball...(in the 9th grade). However he has said shooting hoops is one of his hobbies, and he is 6ft 10, so that’s good enough for us.