Tennis Gods: It’s not your fault, Sam.
Sam Querrey: Really? Because I’m pretty sure it was me who stunk up the court against Robredo in Palm Springs.
TG: No, that’s totally on you. Losing 6-1, 6-3 in your home state on your favorite surface against a lower-ranked, weak-hitting clay-courter who’s struggling with an injury is a poor showing. And it can’t taste good.
SQ: It was tough to swallow. Like a week-old McRib.
TG: Actually, what we’re talking about is the cosmic joke being played on you. All those unfair expectations heaped on your shoulders as the next great American hope – the big guy with the bigger serve and the even temperament. Sure, you’re limited: you’re not the greatest mover; your backhand occasionally goes awry; you sometimes compete like a Frenchman; and when you smile you can resemble Karl from Sling Blade. But the potential to make an impact at a Slam or two is seemingly there. Perhaps you can even crack the top 10.
TG: Because you have a handicap you may not be able to overcome: you were born in October.
SQ: What in the name of Malcolm Gladwell are you talking about? October is a fine month. It’s got great weather, the World Series, Halloween, and it’s Adopt-a-Dog month. How could that be a problem?
TG: We’ve crunched the numbers: In the Open Era there have been 172 Grand Slam men’s tournaments. Only three times was the winner born in October; the lowest by far of any month. It was three one-slam wonders, in fact: Roscoe Tanner, Thomas Muster, and Michael Stich.
SQ: Scoe? Cool. Dude had a wicked serve. Is he still a fugitive?
TG: Probably. We’re still holding $50k in bad checks from him, too. But that’s beside the point. In terms of Slam production it’s no good to be a Libra. It’s not good for rankings, either. At No. 24, you’re the highest-ranked October birthday.
SQ: Nerd alert! Ok stats guy, when should I have been born?
TG: August is tops on the leaderboard: nine players totaling 53 Slam titles. In addition to Federer and Sampras, there are four other players (Wilander, Laver, Vilas, Courier) born in the month with at least four Slams apiece. The next closest month is June with 22.
SQ: That doesn’t prove anything. It’s purely anecdotal. Are you telling me Federer wouldn’t have been Federer if he was born in October? That you smiled on his tennis existence simply because of when he was born? That makes less sense than the BYU honor code. And – other than nitwits, bored housewives, and the Reagan administration – nobody puts any stock in astrology.
TG: Fine. Perhaps this is all a coincidence. Perhaps the results are derived from too small a sample size. But you have to admit, the numbers don’t lie. Unless you can buck history, you’re screwed.
SQ: I don’t believe it. My career is not hexed.
TG: Sam, it’s not your fault.
SQ: Stop saying that. Wait…Are you just reenacting the end of Good Will Hunting?
TG: It’s not your fault. But you were horrible against Robredo. Don’t do that again.