Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic square off tonight in the US Open final.
For tennis fans, this is must see TV (much like Djokovic’s epic come from behind semifinal victory over Roger Federer).
For tennis fans with a literary bent — and David Foster Wallace jones — here’s some added longread bonus points:
Last week Grantland republished Wallace’s 2006 classic, Federer as Religious Experience. While ostensibly a Federer profile, it’s a magnificent romp through the art and science of modern day tennis.
Writes Michael MacCambridge in his introduction to the article:
The assignment came as both writer and athlete were at the height of their respective careers. The story (for Play’s third issue, published shortly before the 2006 U.S. Open) constituted a dream pairing of writer and subject, like John McPhee sitting down with Bill Bradley, or George Plimpton hitting the road with Muhammad Ali and his entourage.
Roll back into the archives a bit and you’ll find Esquire’s 2010 reprint of Wallace’s 1996 The String Theory in which he tours professional tennis’ qualifying tournaments in an attempt, again, to understand the elegance, physics and demands of the sport.
At the time, Wallace described the men’s tour thus:
The realities of the men’s professional-tennis tour bear about as much resemblance to the lush finals you see on TV as a slaughterhouse does to a well-presented cut of restaurant sirloin.
Image: Rafael Nadal returns a shot in his US Open third round match against David Nalbandian. Via Reuters/International Business Times.