Sometimes watching tennis is a gamble. It's only two players, and you never know whether both will be playing well, one will be killing the other or whether, as happens all too often, neither is playing well and the match is painful to watch. The reason that I keep coming back for more is that from time to time you watch a truly great match, or a truly unique one. A few favorites from the last year or so:
* Blake and Agassi at the US Open: Agassi dropped the first two sets and then surprised everyone by making a late rally. in the 3rd and 4th sets Agassi was swinging as well as he ever had, and Blake was coming right back at him. Agassi then clawed his way in the fifth set and won the match. This was a match with a lot of stories built into it, with Blake coming back from a neck injury and Agassi still playing at age 35. Agassi went on to play Federer in the finals. Another Blake match that was excellent was his four set upset over Nadal. Blake refused to be thrown by Nadal's heavy balls and his tendency to get his racket on everything, and just kept dictating play with the forehand.
* Fabrice Santoro vs. Federer: The outcome of this one was never in doubt: Federer won easily in three. What this match did was to show how much potential tennis has as entertainment. It was obvious that the players respected one another, having played doubles together earlier in their careers, and Santoro seemed to be make out of rubber. He hit a winner between his legs running backwards, a winner wrapping his arm around his back, and a winner running backwards hit over the top of his head. Certainly, it was a novelty, but fun to watch.
* Any match where Federer is playing at the top of his game, the way he moves the ball around gets to seem supernatural. And of course, Safin's defeat of Federer.