Dude, Pass the Panama Red

Federer and Nadal on a half clay/half grass tennis court and a suggestion for similar craziness in Las Vegas

Two days ago the organizers of the The Battle of the Surfaces announced that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal would play an exhibition on May 2nd using a court that was half grass and half red clay. Very cool, I thought, and why not call it the Panama Red Match in honor of that red tinged grass with the same name that is famous in marijuana circles.

Then I started thinking a little clearer. What happens if Federer hits a wickedly angled volley? Nadal will take off like a jet and slide into the ball. His momentum will carry him past the netpost onto the grass – where there is no sliding – and he’ll tumble head over heels only to land on his amply muscled tush.

And how would they remember which side of the court they’re on? Sounds worse than remembering what side of the road to drive on if you’re an American driving in England – or vice versa. Federer is likely to run after a ball on the grassy side, forget he’s not on clay and start sliding and then we have two injured tushes.

Evidently the organizers came to the same conclusion because they announced yesterday that the surface would be changed to all clay. Bummer, I thought, and moved on to the Monte Carlo Open which is nowhere near as exciting if you ask me.

Wait a minute, the grass is back! Today organizers announce that the exhibition will go ahead as planned and Federer – usually the traditionalist – is looking forward to it.

It seems like these two guys are always playing exhibitions and why play it in Mallorca where everyone is already in love with their native son Nadal? Why not play it in a country that doesn’t adequately appreciate tennis?

Like the U.S. for instance. Why not pump up the tennis scene in the U.S. with regular events in Las Vegas. If Vegas can support a Rock/Paper/Scissors championship it should be able to get a few people out there for a tennis match. How about this for starters: unless Sports Illustrated is pulling our leg, and it wouldn’t be the first time – I was one of those people who fell for the infamous April Fools Sidd Finch article by George Plimpton about a pitcher who could throw a 168mph fastball (wow, did I really fall for that?) – Elizabeth Shue is training to become a professional tennis player.

Yes, the same Elizabeth Shue who appeared in the movie Leaving Las Vegas. Call it Coming to Las Vegas. Bring in Nicolas Cage – her co-star in the movie – to be her on-court coach, build a nice indoor court at the Rio in place of the midnight bowling alley, and offer people a twofer: tennis followed by Prince. A few weeks ago I drove to Las Vegas on a Saturday afternoon, took in a meal, saw Prince in his nightclub show at the Rio, then turned around and drove back Sunday morning.

That’s how it is these days. Instead of piling into a stadium with fifteen thousand other people after having been patted down by a surly security person just to get within 500 hundred rows of Prince or Elton John or Morrissey, everyone goes to Las Vegas where they can do some shopping, gamble a little bit, have a nice meal and go to a nightclub and watch their favorite performer while dancing to their hearts content without a security guard getting in your face and telling you to sit down. Really, it’s fantastic.

How about Elton John? He’s a fanatical tennis player. Billie Jean King actually wagged her butt and kicked her heels up on his piano during a stint as a backup singer for Elton. I’m sure Billie Jean would jump right in to help. And who’s still the best draw in U.S. tennis? Andre Agassi. Where does he live? Las Vegas.

I’d love to see a Federer-Nadal grass/clay match in Vegas. And how about inviting Roscoe Tanner if his probation office allows it. If Mike Tyson can still get work I’m sure Rosco Tanner could sell a tennis match. Put him up against Yannick Noah and let the winner shave the loser’s head. It’s not Donald Trump and Vince McMahon going at each other but it would be entertaining.

I’m not that much of a visionary so join in and suggest some matchups for an ongoing series of Las Vegas tennis exhibitions. It’s more than we have right now.

See also:
What Is Wrong With Baghdatis, Safin, Gonzo Et Al.
Bitch and Sing Dept: Monte Carlo
2007 Monte Carlo Preview and Picks