"God. This is killing me."
It was heartbreaking, the sight of Roger Federer uttering those words and then wiping from his face the torrent of tears at the awards ceremony of the Australian Open 2009, attempting to speak after receiving the runner-up's plaque, amidst the cacophony of cheers and applause and declarations of love from the crowd.
The 13-time Grand Slam winner lost to current world no. 1, Rafael Nadal, 5-7 6-3 6-7 6-3 2-6, in a 4-hour championship match that showcased both players' amazing tennis prowess. The pressure to equal Pete Sampras' 14 Slams plus the crowds unabashed support for the Federer Express must've weighed heavily on the Swiss sensation. But soon after Rafa received the Australian Open winner's trophy from the Aussie tennis deity Rod Laver, Roger was gracious enough to speak right away amidst the tears so as not to steal Nadal's thunder.
The promise of returning next year seemed like reassurance enough for the crowd that Roger will be ok.
But this sadness from Federer's loss cannot parallel and is even forgotten thanks to the sheer joy any Filipino tennis fan should feel or any Filipino for that matter because Francis Casey Alcantara of Cagayan De Oro City, along with partner Cheng-Peng Hsieh of Chinese Taipei won the Boys' Doubles Final at the 2009 Australian Open! The pair, seeded seventh in the Aussie Open, beat the tandem of Russian Mikhal Biryukov and Japanese Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-4 6-2.
Finally, we have a Filipino Grand Slam winner!
At first I thought it was one of those hollow vicarious victories that we Pinoys and the media claim as "ours," like Fil-Ams winning awards or recognitions from US-based institutions. Frustrating is the fact that when they get interviewed their being "Fil" is almost an after-thought, which makes heralding their victories as "Filipino" seem pathetic. But apparently, young tennis star Alcantara IS all-Pinoy, hails from Cagayan De Oro City, is the top local junior player and ranked 20th in the world according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer. I never knew we had a Pinoy tennis player ranked so high! I wonder if Dyan Castillejo, an accomplished player herself, has ever featured him in any of her shows or reportage. Maybe she ought to, and pronto, rather than tailing Manny Pacquiao and showcasing all his excesses and indiscretions.
Such a happy day for Philippine tennis and Philippine sports! The Australian Open is one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world, touted as the Grand Slam of the Asia/Pacific. This boy Alcantara should receive all the media coverage, recognition, and support that government and the private sector could muster. He and his team and his sport deserve all of it.
This victory of a Pinoy in the Australian Open sure beats the blood and gore that come with victory in the boxing ring.
Game, set, match, championship!
More about Francis Casey Alcantara's 2009 Australian Open victory here http://sports.inquirer.net/inquirersports/inquirersports/view/20090201-186753/RP-boy-triumphs-in-Aussie-Open
I would have blogged about the Pinoy Aussie Open victory but we just got back from an overnight stay in a little slice of heaven call Sonya's Garden. More tales from Tagaytay next time-