HGF: Grand Slam Hawt Guyz

If you’re not a sports fan, I guess it’s fair that you stop reading this edition of Hot Guy Friday right now.  I mean, if you’re not about to turn on Sportscenter or listen to the Dan Patrick show, then you’re not really going to get it, are you?  Hot guys in white shorts chasing a fuzzy yellow ball ball around a court, sweating in the sun of Australia or the clay of Paris or the rain of London or the glaring lights of Flushing Meadows.  Hot guys powering 140 mph serves with the finesse of a painter along chalky white lines.  Hot guys dancing in front of the net with the grace of Baryshnikov and the reflexes of Jackie Chan.  To borrow a line:  THIS…IS…TENNIS!!!

And with final cup in the Grand Slam table beginning this week, it seemed the perfect time to rejoice in the grace and power on display at the other US Open.  I’ll admit from the start: it is nearly impossible to pick just 3 hot guys from the tennis ranks.  So many countries, so many different styles, so much to enjoy.  But maybe if you can get through this posting of sports HGF, you might consider giving this gentlemen’s sport a chance.

Ah, man, 154 mph! So Close!

The Heater

Americans cannot talk about tennis and especially the US Open without talking about our pride and joy: Andy Roddick.  He has clocked the fastest serve in professional tennis at 155 mph.  And in an era bygone, that might’ve been enough to fill his shelves with Grand Slam titles.  But ask any number of players how long a single skilled player goes in this sport.  After much early promise and a phenomenal win at the 2003 US Open, Roddick kept running into someone just that much better.  But unlike a slew of our players, this phenom turned to hard work and expert coaches to find something better within himself to bring to the court.  And so far this season, it’s been amazing to watch.

It’s a common case for athletes in this country; early, young success leads to riches and excess which leads to a loss of focus and ultimately ruin.  But Roddick isn’t afraid of hard work, isn’t afraid to change things up, isn’t afraid to skill up and fly right.  Regardless of what his final tally title-wise, I think we Americans can be proud of what we’ve seen and excited to see how it plays out tournament after tournament.  After all, being 1 of only 2 players (we’ll get to the other a little later) to be sitting in the top ten ATP rankings at year end for seven years straight with no sign it won’t be eight, is no feat to slouch at. 

Hard working, personably honest, and not afraid to put his whole heart out on the court (re: the occassional shouting match), he’s even managed to parlay his good looks and charm into lucrative and entertaining ad campaigns (Roddick vs Pong, classic).  Not bad for an old man of tennis.  Go RODDICK!!!

The Up-and-Comer

The Future is MINE!
The Future is MINE!

To say that Novak Djokovic is still untested is a bit unkind.  To be fair, he’s ranked 4th in the world, won the Australian in 2008, and won bronze in the Olympics.  He quietly worked his way up the rankings before his breakout year where he defeated Federer and took the Australian, becoming the youngest men’s player in the Open era to have made the semis of every grand slam.  And coming from Serbia, a nation that has had other struggles in recent memory, that’s all quite an accomplishment.  But in this era of men’s tennis, a throne is waiting to be handed over and a small cadre of players seem positioned to take a seat.

He’s not fussy on the court but plays with flair.  He doesn’t have a single weapon he falls back on, just works all the skills.  And how consistent he’ll be over the next few years is anyone’s guess.  But so far, he’s shown finesse and fire, has shown no fear against the game’s greatest, and even shown a bit of punch when needed (as shown in some verbal parries with Roddick himself).  And the fact that he cleans up well doesn’t hurt a thing either.   He also seems to be a bit of an impressionist off the court which shows a nice sense of humor too. 

So here’s hoping he keeps calling out the trainer, stays healthy, and entertains us all not only with his looks but some fantastic tennis for many years to come.  Come on now, Novak, take a seat!

The Once and Forever King

Yup, better build another shelf in the trophy room!
Yup, better build another shelf in the trophy room!

I never tire of watching Roger Federer play.  It’s like savoring a fine wine or eating a favorite, beloved meal.  Each time, you pick up something different but the quality, the enjoyment stays the same.  Much has been made about whether Federer is the greatest to every play the game.  And even he’s had to enter the conversation himself after inexplicably being cast aside after a “lackluster” year losing to a spicy upstart named Nadal (how failing to break Borg’s 6 consecutive Wimbledon championship titles by losing the longest match in Wimbledon history is lackluster, I have no idea.)  Some wondered if the King had lost his throne.  Some of us watched and waited.

2009 was the year that Federer slayed his dragons.  True, his foremost rival Nadal was missing when both he won the French Open, his first after three consecutive defeats, and when he became the most decorated men’s Grand Slam champion ever.  But let me say it again: the most decorated men’s Grand Slam champion ever.  Besides the fact that his wiki reads like a tale of utter tennis conquest, he’s shown himself to be a man of style and taste, always wanting to present a kept image when gaining his rewards.  He has class, knows how to speak to crowds (in various languages) as appreciatively as he speaks plainly and modestly with the media.

No one could pick a better king for this throne.  And there’s no doubt in my mind, he is the greatest the sport has ever seen, will likely ever see.  In a sport of year-long hauls from Australia to Europe to the States and everywhere in between, it is arguably the most gruelling sport in terms of schedule with still some inequity with regards to pay for play (when the women have to slog through a five setter with no tiebreak in the fifth, then I’ll support equal prize money.)   But this is the man that has turned this physical, powerful sport into art, pure beautiful art.  And been it’s most classy of ambassadors.

I look forward to every slam for the tennis ads are varied and sometimes hysterical but there will be the classy ads, and all of them will feature Roger Federer.  There’s nothing EX about this FED, he’s the Once and Forever King on his court…which is wherever you find him.

GAME, SET, & MATCH:  As I’ve said, picking three seemed a herculean task for sure this week so in honor of the parade of hotties this sport typifies, I offer a few more options to get you to watch.  After all, every game starts with Love….

  • The Spaniards:  Raphael Nadal, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Fernando Verdasco…they seem to be everywhere!!
  • James Blake – Always a fighter, always a fine competitor, always routing for this American classic.
  • Tommy Haas – German vet of the tour, he’s never quite out.
  • Tomas Berdych – Czech tower working his way up.
  • Andy Murray – Scots dynamo, England’s best chance since taking the mantle from crowd favorite Tim Henman. 

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