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Fed-exceptional

Robbo Robson | 13:08 UK time, Monday, 8 June 2009

You know them people that suffer from SAD - seasonal affective disorder? I think I get it in reverse.

I don't spend my winter days in front of some weird light box like some illegitimate plant in a dodgy attic. Me, I need to spend my summers bathing in the warm glow of DVD re-runs of the 2004 Carling Cup final.

In fact I think I might be suffering SOD - Season's Over Disorder. Certainly that's been the word my missus has been bandying around the Robson household this week.

She's argued that I've still got a bit of England to watch but Capello's taken a lot of the fun out of that by putting together an England side in the Italian mould - uninspiring, workmanlike, plenty of nous, and lots of wins. Pundits keep shaking their heads about the way the team stutters through the first 20-45 minutes (me included). But then they've spanked everyone in sight in a meaningful match, bar Ukraine, which was more of a gentle slap.
England's Stuart Broad and Holland's Elgar Schiferli
You can rely on the cricketers to fulfil the proper profile of the British sportsman. Losing to Holland! Still, anyone can beat anyone in the short form. I've not quite bought into Twenty20 yet. To me it sometimes looks less like cricket and more like some kind of driving range competition. I'd give it a different name, me. I'd call it Whack It!

The post-match chats are pretty platitudinous 'n' all. What's to say about 20 overs really? Colly does his best but comes across as a bit of a Shearer clone. Still as long as you show 'character' and 'desire', you'll be fine, right? That is unless you lack 'talent'.

Of course the word 'talent' has been subject to all manner of abuse by a certain ITV show recently. Britain's Got Talent? Not amongst the flaming judges it hasn't, unless that's the talent to exploit the naive, the needy and the downright numpty in the name of popular entertainment. Kelly Brook was one of the judges for a bit, for Chrissakes! Clearly that was down to the producers using the Nuts TV definition of talent.

It's a very difficult concept to get your head round - an efficient England. They're getting away with things like the Glen Johnson dally and the Rob Green walkabout, but they're also taking their chances with all the ruthlessness of a Daily Telegraph political correspondent.

If we follow the Italian mould, we'll stutter through the group stages in South Africa, hobble past some very average opposition in the last 16 with a Gerrard plunge and a pen, then remember how to play the game very late on and edge through to the least popular World Cup win in the history of the competition. I will not be complaining.

If you want a proper definition of talent go the dictionary and look up the word 'Federer'.
I speak here as someone who's never really enjoyed tennis. Frankly the game in this country is still the preserve of the la-di-dahs with their club rules and their no hoi-polloi policies.

It seems to me that over the last few years the vast majority of the better British tennis players in this country have gone from comfy drive-arounds with mama and papa to a couple of wild card victories at Wimbers and straight on to the pundits' sofa without so much as a 'plucky' being added to their CVs.

You worry for that Laura Robson lass when she says she doesn't like what the clay does to her socks. Get a grip, love.

Tennis wasn't that lively when Sampras was dominant either; Wimbledon was a bit of a procession and while Pistol Pete was impressive he had the personality of a flat-pack wardrobe. And I never much enjoyed the French when it was all loopy top-spin and rallies that felt as repetitive as a 24-hour news channel.

With Nadal and Federer in competition, I've warmed to Roland Garros, even if it is played on a surface that all too spookily resembles Phil Brown's face. And Federer's comeback from two amazing defeats by the Majorcan Mastiff to grab the one title that has escaped him was a joy to behold.
Roger Federer by the Arc de Triomphe
Everyone's saying that Federer's the greatest ever now he's won the French. I thought he was already 'cos of the way he plays. I'll back him every time against Rafa.

It boils down to whether you're a cat or a dog person, I reckon. Cats = Rog: Dogs= Rafa.
You get the impression if you were trying to stop either of them getting into your house, Rog'd sneak past while your back was turned while Raf'd stand there barking until you just let him by for a bit of peace and quiet.

The other thing Fed's got going for him is the fact that he's so obviously a nice bloke (as is Nadal). There was a time when I'd always favour the volatile, colourful bloke over the calm controlled one. McEnroe or Borg? O'Sullivan or Hendry? Leonard or Hagler? Best or Charlton?

Maybe it's a sign of old age that the brilliant, petulant, win-at-all-costs prima donnas have no appeal to me these days. I just want the likes of Rooney and Drogba, Fergie and Benitez, to grow up a bit and have some self-control.

Federer is a one-off. The fact that he shows very little emotion on court is off-set by the glory of his play. I don't say this about any fella but truly the man is a thing of beauty. Even his trademark collapse into floods of tears has a rather lovely grace to it.

So maybe a summer with Federer - and Woods on his way back to top form - might just keep the footy-pangs at bay. In fact I'll content meself with the knowledge that I'll be boring the pants off me grandchildren about the likes of Tiger and Rog in the same way that my Dad goes on about Bradman, and Matthews, and Rod Laver. And like him, I'll be pretending I was there 'n' all!


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