- very good or pleasant; excellent.
Super is a word that is present everywhere you turn to in your life. Superheroes, supervillains, superstars, superhuman. In sport, the term ‘Super Sunday’ seems to be repeated every weekend. Whether it is in the Premier League, or American Football, or the Indian Premier League: those who bring the sport to your living room, want you to think everything is super.
To borrow a line from the movie Incredibles, ‘when everything is super, nothing will ever be’.
But July 14, 2019 changed that and how. On one day, the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup witnessed a Super Over for the first time in history and the Wimbledon men’s singles final went to a Super Tiebreak. Less than nine miles separate Lord’s Cricket Ground and the All England Lawn Tennis Club at SW19 in London and at those two hallowed sporting venues, two sporting events transcended reality and reached into realms of incredibility.
It was a Sunday that was very good. Mostly pleasant (based on your allegiances and the stomach for gut-wrenching finishes). And truly excellent.
Two epic finals, one Super Sunday
At Lord’s, after 47 matches preceding it and the full quota of 100 overs were done on the day, the World Cup did not have a winner. Even after two additional overs, there was nothing to separate the two teams: 256 runs scored in 51 overs each. As a headline read, New Zealand lost the World Cup against England by ZERO RUNS.
At Wimbledon, after a fortnight of tennis matches and four gruelling sets, there was no separating Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic even in the fifth: both men were level at 12-12. It was only after the newly-introduced tiebreak in the final set, did the Serb come out as the champion, and a deserving one at that.
For England and Novak Djokovic, the two wins were the culmination of immense hard work in the lead up to the tournament that justified their billing as the best in the business currently.
England are the foremost ODI side in world cricket now and no one can (or should) begrudge their success because it was earned through four years of careful planning and a brand of cricket that entertained everyone watching. Even if they had to shun that flamboyance on the big day, they crossed the line by holding their nerve when it mattered in front of adoring home fans. As for Djokovic, he had to play the most mentally demanding match of his career, in front of a crowd that was rooting for his opponent, to be closer than ever to the two men ahead of him in terms of the Major count.
For New Zealand and Roger Federer, the overwhelming goodwill from around the world was not enough as they fell short by the tiniest of margins. For New Zealand, it was Trent Boult stepping on the boundary line and Martin Guptill being run out by a yard and change. For Federer, it was two Championship Points that vanished into thin air in no time.
Eoin Morgan, England captain, started all his media interactions with a note of commiseration for New Zealand. And Djokovic reiterated how great Federer is; how much the Swiss and Rafa Nadal inspire him. Despite the brutality of the battles they had just won, there was not even a hint of pride or bad blood.
But often, after matches like these, you find more meaning and depth in listening to the vanquished than the victors. Williamson finished his press conference with a standing ovation from the reporters, for putting up a brave front and tackling adversity with a smile. Federer, for his part, had no qualms in admitting that it was a missed chance but gave credit where it’s due to Djokovic.
Sport, as it does often, taught us many a life lesson on this glorious day.
Blessed, are we
On the day(s) after, some of you will be feeling joy, for your favourite heroes winning. Some of you will be feeling exhausted after how much these two events took out of you mentally. Some of you will be angry at perceived injustices and that cruel intangible not going your way: luck.
And some of you will be sad, in some cases depressed even, at seeing your role models like Roger Federer and Kane Williamson on the losing side. Take a cue from the Swiss great himself.
“I don’t want to be depressed after an amazing tennis match,” said Federer, all grace after the five-hour marathon.
On the location of one of the two epic battles, there is a famous line from Rudyard Kipling inscribed on the walls: “If you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same…”
That line at Wimbledon, on this special day, has meaning not just for the athletes in action. It applies for the fans too.
What we witnessed on this Sunday is unlikely to ever happen again in sport. Savour it, maybe even be sad but not for long, but remember it for the rest of your lives.
This is the sort of drama one usually associates with Olympics where multiple manic events can happen simultaneously. But for two unrelated events, happening a few miles apart from each other, defying logic with every passing minute: this was truly once in a lifetime, and for that we are blessed.
Those of us who are associated with sport on a daily basis, already know what makes it great. The passion, the unpredictability, the adrenaline, the heartbreak, the joy.
But you did not have to be a fan of cricket to be captivated by the World Cup final; you did not have to be a fan of Federer or Djokovic to appreciate that epic Wimbledon final. Days like this, resonate with a wider audience. Days like this make a young kid pick up a cricket bat or a tennis racquet and say: I want to be a part of this one day.
That is what makes July 14, 2019 a truly special day. The most Super Sunday of them all.
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