'Anticipation' by Don Miller

by
February–March 1998, no. 198

'Anticipation' by Don Miller

by
February–March 1998, no. 198

A player of the calibre of John McEnroe constantly thrills his audience with strokes so perfectly timed that they appear effortless and lethal – and it is this combination which regularly amazes spectators. They may at times sense that what contributes so effectively to this timing is an early preparation of his strokes. He seems always already ready. It is, I suspect, only on fewer occasions that an admiring audience can see, and appreciate, what lies behind that: an ability, seemingly an uncanny one, to anticipate the play of the opponent. So uncanny sometimes that spectators come close to laughing, embarrassingly, at the supposed ‘luck’ of the player – to manage even to ‘get the racket at’ some extremely difficult or unexpected shot by the opponent, but then perchance to hit it for a winner. But the wise audience ‘knows’ that only the exceptional player has such ‘luck’ and has it so often. It is uncanny.

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