In 1996 American MaliVai Washington fought his way to the finals of Wimbledon where he would unfortunately lose, making him the runner-up for the sport's most prestigious tournament. As part of Washington's award for achieving second place (the other part being the gobs of money he received for making it as far as he did), he received a small metallic serving tray... thing.
Analysts often describe players or teams as unbeatable, even when it's simple hyperbole used to explain how well someone is playing at a certain moment. But for Rafael Nadal at Monte-Carlo, it'd be hard to find a more apt description.
For the seventh consecutive year, Rafa finds himself in the winner's circle of the Monte-Carlo Masters Series tournament, besting fellow countryman David Ferrer in straight sets on Sunday (6-4, 7-5).
What makes the accomplishment even more impressive is that Nadal didn't even have his best game this time around.
Ferrer, the world's No. 6, was ruthless in his run to the finals, failing to lose a set all tournament up until Sunday's matchup against Nadal. Yet Rafa, at less than 100%, had no trouble dismissing the streaking spaniard.
What the win means for Nadal as the clay season continues is yet to be seen, as the world's No. 1 wasn't forced to play Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer or Robin Soderling in his run to to the title. But as they say, you can only beat the people in front of you.
Something else struck me, however, during the trophy presentation after the match.
It's something that has bothered me for a long time, so let me set it up for you:
To be honest with you, compared to the trophy the winner got, the tray looked like a piece of crap.
Apparently, David Letterman agreed because when Washington appeared on Letterman's show later that week, he brought his little silver serving tray with him and let Letterman pour tortilla chips and a mound of salsa on top of it (my guess is that it was a fake tray but the point is just the same).
Ferrer received a similar trophy on Sunday, which he awkwardly held up (with one hand mind you) to the crowd.
My question is: Why give these guys the tray at all? It must be humiliating. The winner of the tournament receives this gaudy trophy to hold up for all to see, while second place gets a little toy with which to host dinner parties. I'm sure they'd be just fine with the cash they receive. What do you think?
Just give them a giant check, I'm sure they'd be happy to hold that up.