The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming – down under to the 2021 Australian Open Tennis Tournament that began with high hopes for real live fans in the stands but now those stands have been emptied for a five day Covid lockdown that began Friday night and will hopefully end this week on Tuesday or Wednesday depending on where you (and/or Elmo) are in the complicated time zones that disturb my already disturbed sleep patterns for two weeks every year. Thank goodness for the World Time Clock Converter that promises me it’s really eight o’clock tomorrow night when I wake at 4 a.m. to watch a featured match I must see “live” in Melbourne, Australia. Thank you, ESPN, for your ongoing coverage which may be the death of me.
Unless, of course, the death of me comes from the unraveling of democracy that I watched during the days that were the actual days for me and the rest of the world as we observed in real time 100 United States Senators who served as jurors during the past week at the impeachment trial of former president Trump for inciting the January 06th. insurrection that was a final desperate attempt to overturn the 2020 election results through mob violence which interrupted a joint session of Congress charged with counting the individually certified state electoral votes that provided for the transition of power to the Biden/Harris administration. The violence resulted in the death of one Capitol police officer beaten to death at the scene, physical injuries to 140 other law enforcement officers, the desecration of the Capitol building, the attempted murder of former vice president Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
No World Time Clock Converter was available to transport me to a different day or a different outcome of the trial. Not Guilty by reason of insanity – oh yeah, the insanity was my judgment of the 43 Republican Senators who voted to acquit the man who didn’t care whether they lived or died during the attack on January 06th. Whoa. Lead me not into temptation to wallow in depression, but deliver me from the evil of self-righteous power hungry Republican Senators including Graham and Scott of South Carolina. You see, this is why I needed the welcome diversion of the Australian Open tennis, regardless of time zones.
I gratefully turned my attention to Russian names like Rublev, Medvedev and Karatsev who will be part of the men’s draw as the Australian Open moves into the second week. While #1 seed Novak Djokovich nursed an oblique abdominal issue requiring a large taping he displayed with great fanfare for the cameras as he changed shirts between sets the first week, and #2 seed Rafael Nadal reported the back problem he had at the beginning of the tournament felt better with each match, the younger guys were feeling fit as a fiddle, eager to take the court. The Russians are definitely there, and they’ve brought their best games with them.
Can one of the Russians spoil the dreams of Djokovich for a 9th Australian Open title, the hopes of Nadal for his second Australian Open title that would put him at the top of the all time men’s tennis Major winners with number 21 ahead of the tie he now shares with Roger Federer at 20? On the other hand, is this the year either Dimitrov, Tsitsipas, Zverev, Berrettini, Fognini – names that have floated as possible usurpers to the thrones of Federer, Nadal and Djokovich for several years – finally break through to win the men’s singles title along with the $2.75 million prize money?
The Americans are coming, the Americans are coming. In the women’s singles draw for the second week twenty-five year old Jennifer Brady from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania who played for UCLA in her college career; twenty-six year old Jessica Pegula from Buffalo, New York; twenty-eight year old Shelby Rogers who comes from Mount Pleasant, South Carolina down the road from where Pretty and I live; and thirty-nine year old Serena Williams who continues her quest for the elusive Major title #24 in her amazing career that has kept her at the top of women’s singles tennis for the past twenty-five years.
Serena and her sister Venus Williams have carried the weight of American tennis on their remarkable shoulders for more than two decades while the tennis careers of other American women- and men – have crashed and burned. Can one of these four, I repeat four, American women bring home the Australian Open title, the first Major of 2021? As Martina Navratilova said during her television coverage of the Open, women’s tennis is back in America.
Let’s hope democracy never leaves us.
Stay safe, stay sane and please stay tuned.