My love for tennis was the biggest thing I had in common with my dad growing up. We used to play a lot until his knees no longer allowed it. We lived and died on every point Pete Sampras won or lost. It was the same with Roger Federer. When I lived away from home our calls would focus on what happened in Rotterdam or Gstaad. Wherever the tour set up shop for the week.
My dad is no longer the person he once was. Age, issues both external and internal have conspired to make him unrecognizable. My family has battled through, but in the end we face the inevitable. We’re just riding out the last few years. Writing that one year ago would’ve been a lot more difficult, but here we are.
Canada almost made the Davis Cup final. They almost did the impossible, beating Serbia, on clay, in Serbia. A bunch of Canadians with great cutouts made their presence felt in Belgrade. Milos Raonic gutted out an intense five set win over Janko Tipsarevic on Friday. Milos Raonic gutted out a five set win on clay. That will never sound normal to me.
Daniel Nestor continues to spit in the face of father time. “It’s emotional because this is a team atmosphere and we’re all in this together and we’re having a great year. We love the camaraderie and that’s what’s special.”
Nestor and 23-year-old Vasek Pospisil put Canada on the brink of the unthinkable on Saturday, beating Nenad Zimonjic and Illja Bozoljac 6-7 (6), 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (5), 10-8. “The people that come to travel here and come to sacrifice their time and support us is amazing.”
Nestor was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2010. The statue better be coming.
Vasek Pospisil was the last hope. Raonic couldn’t take down world number one Novak Djokovic. This wasn’t 1992, when Nestor stunned Stefan Edberg in Vancouver. Pospisil battled through an arm ailment that nearly derailed Canada’s dream.
In the end Tipsarevic was too good. The image of Pospisil, battered and bruised on the dirt in Belgrade will not fade away. Canada is a legitimate tennis power. Five years ago that sentence would’ve been greeted with sarcastic applause. Here we are.
My dad and I haven’t talked in quite a while. He called me after the match. We talked about how proud we were of Vasek for fighting.
As much as our lives have changed, some things remain the same. ‘Sport’ and the dedication allotted to following teams, athletes and brands, whatever, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But we do it for a number of reasons, most of them selfish. A 10 minute conversation with the person that enabled my love for this game affirmed what I always knew, but struggled to admit.
This passion is about relationships. Frayed, tattered relationships that have an expiry date. Three days in Belgrade was a reminder of this. It was worth it.