And it’s hard to argue that Dr. Drakken – tell me that you see the comparison – did not seem to have a dark side. Of the two, I agree that he seemed to be even more motivated by negative, determined, hate-filled emotions. And truly I can’t remember another match in which a player simply refused to lose. Me I can’t find it within me to compete even close to that level. If someone wants to beat me that badly, they’re welcome. I just want to have fun on the damn tennis court.
But Dr. Drakken was clearly not going to be the first tennis player to lose three consecutive Grand Slam finals. And he was not going to lose to Sam the Eagle again. And he was not going to lose for a seventh time to the man who stole his #1 ranking and who seems determined to keep it. So he dug deep and fought.
That’s what you call negative motivation. Not everyone can produce it. Not everyone can keep generating it. But Dr. Drakken can, with frightening ease. Indeed, he seemed willing to destroy his knee – heck he seemed oblivious to any kind of pain or discomfort – just as long as he could win-this-match. He was hell-bent on winning – with an emphasis on hell. The match dragged on because Dr. Drakken refused to give an inch. His mental will to win was formidable, ferocious.
And don’t get me wrong. The result was a brilliant match. I recorded it and will keep it forever. It is a manual on superb strategy and tactics. It is a five-hour lesson worthy of any tennis academy. It was tennis being played at its lethal best.
But it bothered me that neither man seemed capable of stopping to consider the longevity of his career against the momentary destructiveness to his body. It bothered me that neither man seemed capable of considering the potential damage to his psyche in his desire, will, and brutal intent to win this match.
The only person who seemed to care really was the Eagle’s longtime coach. His face reflected concern as the match went on and on. His face continued to reflect concern even as he happily celebrated the win. I loved the way he loved the Eagle. I preferred his brand of caring to the girlfriend’s who, yes, kept screaming her support – but did so in between glances to confirm that the camera was planted on her and her suspiciously large breasts.
But it was no different among the Drakken posse, was it? They egged him on. They shouted and pushed him. They fanned the fuel of his hateful determination. And the crowd screamed their support, wanting as crowds do a real match that went the distance. And boy did they get it. And man, did they deliver.
But at what price such brilliance? Isner has admitted that it took him months to recover from that stupid, pointless, dragged out match against Mahut. The latter is still missing in action.
Neither man could stand during the post-match ceremony. Drakken’s grimace was painful to watch, as he slumped against the net, gritting his teeth to possibly prevent himself from crying out as the lactic acid backed up in his overtaxed system. Eagle was no better off. It was a match to the death and both men died a little that day.
And I find myself reminded of why I never enjoyed the Sampras-Agassi rivalry. It wasn’t just the fact that I tend to favor the underdog in these exchanges. It was more so that I do not enjoy matches with a complete absence of positive emotions. I need such moments as Raonic’s smile or Kvitova’s shy grin. I need those small positive moments that balance out the negativity of the competition. That remind me that I am not watching two serial killers after all.
(Part 2 of 2)