And I was thinking this summer was going to be a bore. It’s been so hot, and the humidity is out the wazoo. I was spending quite a few weekends in because I’m a vampire and allergic to all that sun and UV rays. I’ve also had my share of humidity growing up in the tropics. As someone who’s already aging disgracefully, I don’t need any more help from this weather.
Just goes to show one must never say never, especially not when one’s favourite tennis player is in town for the Rogers Cup, aka The Canadian Open – the only ATP Masters 1000 event held in the great white north, one of the go-to warmup events for players to prepare for the hardcourt season which culminates in the US Open, and I’m pretty sure if you don’t follow tennis, none of that jumble of words will mean anything to you. So before you decide to just click somewhere else, here you go:
That was two weekends ago. In a heat wave. I braved a heatwave for that. If it weren’t for going to see Rafael Nadal practice on the hardcourts of the Aviva Centre for free, I would never get any sun. And now I’m kicking myself for not getting tickets to see the finals, because he’s just made his way into the finals of the Rogers Cup for the first time in a while. He’s also going to face the hottest thing on the #NextGen circuit right now, the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas who is having the run of his life!
Speaking of mouthwatering and speaking of Greece, I’ve been to Taste of the Danforth, practically a Toronto summertime institution, a few times now and have no idea how I missed out on the awesomeness that is Foodland’s fruit stand. Just juicy, beautiful fresh fruit on a stick begging to be eaten – and at a price that can’t be beat. Large wedges of watermelon and mangoes to be had (extra sriracha $1), but my favourite by far were the strawberry skewers, which get a lovely amount of chocolate drizzled on them. It is HEAVEN. Five fresh, plump, juicy strawberries with chocolate on them for $2? YES PLEASE, YES, NOW, HURRY! All caps and exclamation points because that’s how much I love them. I used to go for the lokoumades, but now I will go for strawberry skewers, hands down, the end, exit stage right.
Japan, a country that has gifted us with the truly grotesque and the truly inspired, has also produced a perfect example of the unholy union of grotesque and inspired: watermelon ice cream sandwiches. South Korean ice cream chain Milkcow has taken the idea and run with it. Now that they’re in town, I have a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, the kind that precedes the realization that I’m about to join another hour-long queue just to have one of these, even though part of me thinks it’s a horrible idea and harbinger of the apocalypse. Why do I have to be so damn susceptible to attractive packaging? – Blog TO
Speaking of grotesque and inspired (but really more grotesque and sad) this story of a mother giving her son her blessing with the aid of a bullet is somehow tragic, darkly comic and proof that you don’t mess with old people, because they’ve run out of fucks to give – CNN
Those poor kids. This is why I confine my spelunking to the insides of my refrigerator – CTV News
Speaking of spelunking, take a deep dive into the life and times of one Johnny Depp. It’s a long read and mostly interesting journey into the unpredictable unknown, and unlike exploring a Thai cave in the middle of monsoon season, it’s an adventure you’re likely to survive. Yes, I would like to apologize to the trapped boys in the Thai cave for the completely tone deaf jumble of words I just wrote – Rolling Stone
I was there for the match, I was there for the book, and now I’m there for its in-depth documentary, released in honour of the 10-year (it’s been 10 years?) anniversary of the match and the 150th anniversary of the All England Lawn Tennis Club, home of venerable Wimbledon. Someday Wimbledon, someday… for now, Strokes of Genius: Federer, Nadal and the Greatest Match Ever Played is $10.99 on iTunes, with a few bonus extras – Sports Illustrated
I’ve always been one for a good throwback. I don’t know about you, but Rafael Nadal going sans sleeves and all body-ody-ody at this year’s Australian Open is making me feel things. The last time he went sleeveless was in 2008, tearing through the men’s draw in that swashbuckling pirate look. No sleeves, long shorts, and somehow he made it work.
He still does.
Nike has our dear Rafa revisiting the sleeveless look but ditching the long shorts. It’s decidedly more mature but somehow more compelling because he’s all grown up and filled out and who cares what’s going down on the tennis court with biceps like that?
I’m making up for missing out on the Laver Cup by going through their Twitter. I wish I’d gone to Prague.
Coached by a legend (Bjorn Borg!), led by legends (Roger Federer! Rafael Nadal!), Team Europe’s victory was pretty much assured. It’s hard to face a team with two up and comers in Misha Zverev and Dominic Thiem, stalwart top tenners Tomas Berdych and Fernando Verdasco, and the aforementioned Fedal.
I didn’t know very much about it because my zeal for tennis pretty much fizzles out after the US Open. Good job, me! I missed out on the gloriousness that is Fedal. Obviously I am on Team Nadal forever and ever, world without end, but this year has been a throwback to when these two ruled the tennis world and Rafa’s intensity is never quite at peak level the way it is when he’s facing Federer across the net. But seeing two legendary rivals and intense competitors come together as doubles partners and put that intensity to work as a team is a wholly different experience.
The best tennis combines the brutality of boxing with the finesse of a chess match. Just you and another dude, slugging away at a tiny yellow ball, trying to out-maneuver each other and stay one step ahead. It takes a lot of mental and physical stamina. Only the strongest will survive. Vamos, Rafael Nadal!
Everybody knows playing Rafa on clay is like going into a meat grinder. He is capable of wearing a player down, chewing him up and spitting him out with his signature brand of tennis. This is why Rafael Nadal is imminently watchable; watching him play tennis on clay (and any other surface) is like watching Beyonce on stage. He sheds the skin of a shy, soft-spoken Mallorcan and steps out in battle mode, utilizing that wicked, looping forehand and unrelenting athleticism to grind his opponents into the dust. Rafa is also capable of chasing almost everything down, and able to change from defense into offense in the blink of an eye. More than his forehand, more than his legs, he also has a will of iron, seemingly unable to just give a single point up, even if it’s the first point in the first match of a throwaway ATP event. To see Rafa at work is to see a fearsome gladiator with a racquet for a broadsword; he isn’t referred to as the Raging Bull for nothing. He has owned everyone at Roland Garros nine times.
Enter Stan. Long under the great shadow cast by Roger Federer, he’s clawed his way into the light with his own brand of violent, no-holds-barred tennis, hitting his way to three Grand Slam titles, making him the only men’s player to date never to lose a Grand Slam final he’s been in. Like Rafa, his athleticism is fearsome – Stan can go toe to toe with the fittest players of the day, sometimes outlasting them. And when he unleashes the blazing backhand he is known for, the reason he’s called the Stanimal is suddenly quite clear. On a good day, with a clear mind and his confidence high, the only sane thing to do is to steer clear of Stanislas Wawrinka and the cannonballs blasting off his racquet.
Raging Bull vs. The Stanimal. Forehand vs. Backhand. Will Rafa prevail and get La Decima? Will Stan triumph and change the men’s tennis conversation from Big Four to Big Five? Either way, it’s going to be a bruising Sunday morning on the red clay. I’m off to find a pub with great wings and a giant monitor.