It was kind of a tough sell, but I was able to talk my friend Ben, who's in from out of town for the weekend, into coming down to Memorial Coliseum with me this afternoon for the last day of the Davis Cup finals.
Even though the excitement is all over, Ben's a big sports fan and the chance to see superstars Andy Roddick and James Blake seemed like a good way to spend a slightly groggy, very wet Sunday afternoon.
I didn't know what to expect walking in: The US clinched the title yesterday afternoon when the frighteningly exuberant doubles specialists and identical twins Mike and Bob Bryan pummeled Russia's doubles team of Igor Andreev and Nikolay Davydenko, but they still play the last day of matches.
Would the fans be into it? Would the players? How in the world do you get fired up for two meaningless singles matches? Especially after the excitement yesterday?
Outside the Coliseum we bought Ben a ticket with a face value of $70 for 20 bucks (after the sale, the scalper started yelling "Free tickets? Anybody want free tickets!") and headed in.
As we made our way to our seats we learned that Andy Roddick would not be playing as scheduled in the first match. Yesterday's hero Bob Bryan, who hasn't played in a professional singles tournament since 2004, was taking the court against Russian Igor Andreev. Was Roddick hung over? Just didn't feel like it? Actually, why would he feel like it?
There wasn't a lot of enthusiasm on the court for this first match, which Andreev ended up winning 6-3, 7-6. Check out the fiery Andreev after he won the first set.
I've been racking my brain for the last two hours trying to think of a sporting event that is comparable in its meaninglessness to these matches today. Then, Bob Bryan pretty much nailed it at the post-match press conference (also: he did it! He called the meaningless matches "dead rubbers!").
I'm down in the media room right now, but it looks like James Blake decided to put on some shorts and play some tennis. It's impossible to speculate on how last night's celebration is affecting his play, but he lost the first set to Dmitry Tursonov 6-1.
So Ben is getting to see one of the two American stars play, which is good. He's had some pretty good analysis of the proceedings so far. A couple of examples:
After Bob Bryan missed a first serve and was preparing to hit his second, on a relatively uneventful point in the first set, a number of the kazoos which, along with other various noisemakers have been a fixture in the stadium this weekend, started to buzz, before quickly dying down in time for Bryan to hit his serve: Ben: "Man, I don't get your sport."
As we watched a guy in front of us gobble up some kind of giant turkey wrap: Ben: "There's more riding on that sandwich than on these matches today."
Just now, via text message, apparently ready for the afternoon to be over: Ben: "I have to pee. Let's go Tursonov."
So it looks like that's just about it from the Rose Quarter this weekend. Everything here has kind of a dreary feel to it, and I think we just need to get through these matches to the trophy ceremony. Blake is now up 4-1 in the second set; where this will to persevere is coming from I do not know.
Oh! I was looking around on Andy Roddick's website this morning, and I found what I want for Christmas.
I'll leave you with what I think is the most appropriately uninspiring images from today: a last look at the media dining spread down here in the basement. Quick update: Blake just came back and won! After losing the first set 6-1, he won the next two 6-3, 7-5! Follow our live coverage of the Davis Cup here.