I have always said that tennis does not get the respect it deserves for being one of the most physically demanding professional sports one can play. Last year I was speaking with a baseball coach who had never seen a professional tennis match. "tennis is hard" he asked. This coming from a baseball player?? A sport where a hang nail can sideline you for a week. Luckily the French Open was starting the next week and I said, do me a favor and watch one match, only then will you understand.
Thankfully our sport has finals like the one we had last week at the Australian Open that went 6 hours and 5 sets. I was getting calls and texts from all my non-tennis fan friends asking "did you see that match!!". This final definitely changed a few minds about the demands of men's pro tennis and hopefully gained a few new fans at the same time.
But lets analyze this, what other sport puts 2 men through such agony that they can't stand through the trophy presentation? Boxing or MMA? OK I'll give you that one, although Nadal's forehand might feel like a punch in the face, fact is you actually can't get KO'd in a tennis match. Your ego can be badly bruised but no brain damage usually occurs!
But seriously, running a marathon? The pro's run those in their sleep barefoot. Marathons have a starting point and finish line. The runners are not reacting to the actions of another, their fate is in their hands, or feet if you will.
But lets take a marathon as an example. 26.2 miles run by a pro in about 2 hours.
Nadal and Djokovic had run 29 miles combined at 2-2 in the 5th set. This means by the end of the match each player would have run approx. 16 miles. Yes that's 16 miles of side to side sprints while at the same time stopping to hit a ball traveling at 70MPH and kicking off the court like and angry donkey.
Keep in mind each player had run approximitly13 miles just 2 nights before in their prior matches. Hard to determine the exact distance but using some basic math I estimate in the 7 matches needed to win a major, the finalist will run over 60 miles in the 2 week event. Impressive at every level. I'm not trying to get people to like tennis just respect it.