Perhaps I was wrong. Maybe sports aren’t stupid.
I was almost asleep.
Juan Martín del Potro had the flu, or at least flu-like symptoms, and trailed 6–2, 6–1 after two sets. Midway through that second set, I could feel the sun beating down on my face, the burger and fries settling into my stomach and the unmistakable quench for cold water telling me that the lukewarm water from the nearby fountain wasn’t crisp enough.
Del Potro was done and so was I.
Every move he made looked painful and my eyes closed just like the Argentinian’s chances against the sixth ranked Dominic Thiem.
But, del Potro didn’t lose.
In five sets. In tremendous fashion. With the crowd cheering him on every step of the way.
As someone who watches a lot of sports, I’m rarely stunned by what happens. Even the Patriots coming back from a 28–3 deficit seems logical when you remember that Tom Brady made a deal with the devil and the NFL’s evil extends from the commissioner down to every handoff and tackle.
Del Potro finishing the match with his arms to the heavens in triumph, after looking for the first hour or so like he had just finished a Kirkwood bar crawl, is the single most insane thing I’ve ever seen.
In the moment, it didn’t make sense. It’s even more bewildering now.
It felt like forever, but del Potro’s few-second pose in rapturous glee can make you believe that anything’s possible.
Every day, recently, it’s felt like nothing is possible. Between the horrors of Hurricane Harvey, daily governmental evils and the post-college feeling as if everything good that will happen has already happened before, it’s nice to be shocked.
Del Potro, dying before our very eyes, survived.
I was awake by the end of the match by the way.
From the third set onwards, the crowd, me included, began to sense a shift. Del Potro would falter here or there and then hammer a winner releasing jubilation once again.
Rooting for Thiem, the elderly french fans next to me, may have been tuned out by the raucous Argentinian crowd, but were loud nonetheless cheering on their french brethren.
Yet, when the match was over, even they applauded del Potro.
They couldn’t not.
They too could see the brilliance in something that shouldn’t have happened happening.
Everyone there could see just how remarkable sports can be.