If you, too, were swept away by the turning tides of tennis this summer, your first port of call should be The Tennis Podcast.
For anyone living under a rock: a 20-year-old Spanish phenomenon named Carlos Alcaraz somehow came back from a set down in the Wimbledon men’s final to defeat Novak Djokovic, who was all set to equal the now-retired Roger Federer’s record of eight titles on the hallowed grass.
The cliché of the day was “the changing of the guard”, as Federer, Djokovic and another elder, Rafael Nadal, had long resembled a three-headed beast guarding the gates of the grand slams.
Elsewhere at the All England Club, however, another Big Three were operating at the peak of their (podcasting) powers. With its rigorous but infectiously fun analysis, and a whole host of special guests, The Tennis Podcast has become so popular that its charming hosts, Catherine Whitaker, David Law and Matt Roberts, streamed their daily episodes live for the first time at this year’s tournament.
It meant that they were perfectly poised to capture the seismic moment with a post-match play-by-play, or what Whitaker referred to as a “group talking-therapy session”. There was Roberts with his typically telling stat: in grand slams, Djokovic had won 104 matches in a row after winning the first set.
There was psychoanalysis of both players (Law noting Djokovic’s frustration with the wind in that pivotal second set, which he lost) and their boxes (Whitaker praising Alcaraz’s for not “projecting” any stress throughout).
But it was Roberts who best summed up Alcaraz’s freakishly mature genius, recognising that true excellence in tennis meets at the intersection of resilience and technique, or “the right side of stubbornness”. He recalls that, when serving for the championship, Alcaraz failed a drop shot (his signature) on the first point. But, far from wavering and changing his game, he won the very next with a glorious drop-shot-lob combo.
I’m new to both tennis and the podcast, but it is this passionate translation of the finer details of a sport on the brink of upheaval that will keep me and many others coming back.