From Wimbledon, a lasting lesson in sportsmanship

2008-07-11 00:00

If the cricketing combatants meeting this week at Lord’s produce half as much drama, brilliance and grace as the Wimbledon men’s finalists, then followers of the game are in for a treat.

As far as cricketers, and, for that matter, other sportsmen, are concerned, the significant feature of this confrontation was the conduct of the players. In these days of huge stakes and fierce scrutiny, it is not supposed to be possible for sportsmen competing at the highest levels to behave with dignity and decorum. Federer and Nadal proved otherwise. Throughout a thrilling contest in which their emotions and energies must have been drained, at the end of an intense fortnight and amid breaks in play calculated to frazzle the nerves, they displayed unfailing respect for the game and for each other. Evidently it is not necessary to rant and rave, or to egg on the crowd. Nor is it required to show the sort of ratbaggery sometimes seen in Lleyton Hewitt, a doughty but graceless warrior. It is possible to be magnificent without being mean.

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