Millennium Post

Of agony and ecstasy

If the world of sport has its agony and ecstasy, this week showed both in abundance. To begin with football, it was but natural that the thousands of supporters who had travelled to Russia for the World Cup would support their own national teams. The media of their respective countries had given plenty of hype to the prospects of the teams. Given the different time zones, millions stayed up to watch the proceedings on TV, the world over. In the first semi-final, Belgium were clearly the underdogs but their performance up to the last-four stage, including toppling favourites Brazil, had their supporters and so many others hoping against hope that they would whisk past World Cup winners, France. France have been seasoned campaigners for the last two decades and can never be taken for granted. Belgium played very well, indeed. But it was just not their day. The other side played better and narrowly carried through to the finals. The Belgian supporters were, naturally, shattered. In the other semi-final, the youngest English side ever was under the pressure of too much hype. The problem was that they had virtually taken their victory for granted. Many kept explaining why they would make it to the Finals for the first time since 1966. Such were the expectations that Croatia, which had half a dozen professionals from top European sides, were, seen as the underdogs. At the start of the game, England was up by a goal. But, the second-half scripted a different story. The Croatians were all over them. They were, sans doubt, convincing winners. Even the biased commentators were all at sea trying to explain the debacle. Over to the Wimbledon, and the favourite of millions the world over, top-seed Roger Federer, was up by two sets and even had a match point against Kevin Anderson and then no one could quite explain what happened. Was it the strong breeze, a loss of nerves or the mind not in sync with the body? The match went on for all five sets and the man, who is often referred by the likes of the great Rod Laver and John McEnroe as the GOAT (Greatest of All Time), lost 13-11. Such was the agony of the spectators that 95 per cent of the galleries on Court 1 emptied as the match ended. Few stayed back to watch the other quarter-final. Big servers Raonic and Isner were virtually playing to empty stands. True, everyone has their favourite player or side but it is not all that easy to explain or understand the agony and ecstasy after every defeat or victory. Some go berserk and others manage to digest the result and allow life to move on. True, Federer would be back next year trying to win his ninth Wimbledon title but, at 37, would he be able to?

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