Chapter 1: Pre-match commentary
"So, Boris, John," Sue said, smiling brightly at the camera and angling the microphone towards her co-presenters. "We've talked a lot about Philip Smythe's temperament and his chances today in the Wimbledon final. Let's go back to Rudy Miller for a moment. His first grand slam final, just turned twenty-one a few weeks ago, up against the reigning Wimbledon champion. What are your thoughts? Will he be feeling the pressure right now?"
The commentators all re-arranged their faces into pensive expressions. "Now, he's a guy," McEnroe said, after a pause, "Who it's hard to believe knows what the word pressure means. I'm not just saying he's good at hiding how nervous he feels. I'm saying I'm not even sure that kid has any nerves."
"They're calling him the Iceman," Sue said, nodding. "And it's true, he has seemed incredibly calm throughout the fortnight, even when everyone around him was losing their heads."
"Losing their heads at him," Boris Becker said, pointedly. "He's that guy that everybody loves to hate. The players, the crowds, he's not a popular guy."
McEnroe laughed. "He'd have driven me crazy," he said. "It must be like playing against a robot. He doesn't seem to have any tells, you have no idea if he's nervous, if you've gotten to him, if he's even paying any attention. In the semi-final, against Lee, every so often I would wonder if Miller had just wandered on to the court by mistake, he looked so uninterested in being there."
"And yet he won that game in straight sets, and Lee, as you know, is number four in the world and playing some of the best tennis of his life right now," said Sue.
"Right," said McEnroe, sounding baffled. "I don't know, I don't know if it's healthy to be as closed off as Miller is. I've never seen him look either happy or sad or mad, or anything but kind of bored. I don't know how you play tennis like that."
"Not everyone has to bounce tennis rackets off the umpires," said Boris, grinning at McEnroe.
"Well, no," McEnroe admitted, when the laughter died down. "But I do think you have to show something. I've never seen this kid even smile. He's a phenomenal tennis player, of course, but it's like there's nothing else going on."
"I have seen him angry once," said Boris.
Sue and McEnroe blinked at him in astonishment. "Really?" said Sue. "It's difficult to picture that!"
"When?" demanded McEnroe. "Seriously, this I have to hear."
"It was at a party after... I think it was after the French Open," Boris said. "Something was said to his partner, who we have seen for the first time this competition watching from the player's box in the semi-finals. I didn't hear it myself -- I was too far away -- but by all reports it was really not the sort of thing that should have been said, not in the modern world of tennis."
"Something was said about his boyfriend?" McEnroe asked.
"Yes," said Boris. "He, Miller's partner, seemed willing to let it go, but Miller himself was furious, and there were several words exchanged."
"See, I like the guy better already," McEnroe said. "If we could see some fire in his game, I would maybe rate the guy ahead of Smythe, because there's no doubt he's got the technical expertise and then some, and Smythe, we've said already, there's aspects of his serve that look weak, he's not at his best up at the net. There's room there for someone like Miller to make something in this match."
"Smythe is going to be the fan favourite though, I would say," Sue said. "He can count on a lot of support from this Wimbledon crowd."
"I think so, yes," Boris said. "In fact, I have been surprised by how little support Miller has. I was shocked when he was booed after his win in the third round."
"He's said he doesn't care what the crowd thinks of him," Sue said. "And I have to say, if he's faking his indifference to the crowd, he's awfully good at it."
"It's just as well, because apart from his boyfriend and his mother, he can't count on too many people rooting for him," said McEnroe.
"Do you think that will hamper him? What is your final prediction for this game?" said Sue.
"Smythe, in five sets," said Boris. "I think eventually, experience will win out."
"Miller," said McEnroe.
"Really? Even with the lack of passion?" said Sue.
"Passion or not, that kid can play tennis," said McEnroe, shrugging. "Let's see if he smiles when he lifts that trophy."
Wimbledon Final: Smythe vs. Miller
First set: Smythe* vs. Miller 0-0
The umpire cleared his throat importantly into the microphone. "First set, Smythe to serve," he intoned.
Rudy Miller jogged briefly behind the service line and then settled to receive the ball. Smythe bounced the ball a couple of times against the ground, and then threw it up in the air. His racket arced through the air.
Rudy did not move from his crouch.
The ball flew into the net. "Fault!" exclaimed a linesman. Smythe frowned and he raised his hand to the nearest ballgirl for another ball. Rudy's face remained impassive.
Once again the ball flew in the air and Smythe reached to hit it. "Fault!" a linesman called again.
"Love-fifteen," the umpire said.
"Not a great start for Smythe then," said Andrew, in the commentary box.
"No," said Tim. "It's amazing how many top class players have gone to pieces in their first game against Miller. I've heard it said that it's like seeing your doom staring back at you across the court."
There was a quick exchange of the ball on the court. "Love-thirty," the umpire announced.
"Doom or not, Miller is making the most of this," said Andrew.
The camera panned out to the crowd, pausing briefly on the box where the friends and family of the players sat. "There's a face you may recognize if you're into winter sports," said Andrew. "Jeff Miller, gold medallist in snowboarding at the Winter Olympics this year, also Rudy Miller's younger brother. There's a rumour he plays tennis as well, Tim?"
There was a pause while Smythe served, sending the ball into the net. "Apparently, yes, both Miller brothers play several sports. There was even a story doing the rounds once that both brothers had been approached by a football club in Spain when they were younger."
"And that's another double fault to Smythe," Andrew said. "Really, the worst possible start for Philip Smythe in this Wimbledon final."
First set: Smythe* vs Miller: 1-3
"Love-forty," said the umpire. The crowd was still trying to catch their breath from the last rally.
"Goodness me," exclaimed Andrew. "How on earth did Miller make that shot? He was lying almost completely flat on the ground!"
"Extraordinary! And that's three break points," said Tim.
First set: Smythe* vs. Miller: 1-5
"Fifteen-love," the umpire said.
"That'll be an important point for Smythe. It's only the third point he's won in his own service game," said Andrew.
"That's not a statistic he'll be proud of," Tim said.
"It's one Miller should be proud of," said Andrew.
"Do you think he's proud of things?" said Tim, doubtfully. They watched Miller settle once more to receive the serve.
"Thirty-love," the umpire said, as an ace flew past Rudy. He face remained impassive.
"He must be, surely, wouldn't you think?" said Andrew, but his own doubt was clear.
"Forty-love," said the umpire as another ace was served.
"This is a much better game from Smythe," said Tim. "But it's going to be a long way back for him from the early part of this set."
First set: Smythe vs. Miller* 2-5
"Forty-love," said the umpire.
"It's almost boring, watching Miller serve aces," said Andrew. "He's like an automaton. I don't know if you saw the video analysis that was shown yesterday? It seems like he's capable of serving over and over with only the tiniest variations in his action, and most of those are deliberate, small changes in speed and direction to keep his opponent guessing."
"I don't know how boring it is to be on the receiving end of them. That last one was travelling at one hundred and nineteen miles an hour," said Tim. "And here's set point. And... another ace."
"Mr Miller wins the first set, six games to two. New balls, please," said the umpire, and the two men went to sit down, Rudy's face expressionless while Philip Smythe looked agitated.
The camera panned away from the players and began to focus on different parts of the crowd.
"Here's the player's box, of course, and we've seen that it can be a site of great emotions already this week, with dramatic scenes here during the women's finals yesterday. Next to Smythe's team, who we've talked about quite a lot in this match so far, are Miller's family and coaching team. Quite a small team a for top flight tennis player, wouldn't you say Tim?"
"Absolutely. In recent years we've seen players fill the box with as many as five members of their team, but Miller only has these two: Petr Vojak, who is Czech and Canadian and came out of retirement three years ago to coach Miller, and his hitting partner, former world number ninety-eight Eric Soung of Calgary." The camera panned across the two men, who were both laughing at something Mike was saying.
"Not a team with much of a championship pedigree, is it?" Andrew said.
"No, no record at all. Both Vojak and Soung were solid players in their day, but neither came close to a chance at a major championship, and in Petr's case, that was quite a few years ago now. Neither have been in a really world-class coaching team before either," Tim said. "Something about it works though, and that's what matters. Still, these days that's a shockingly small team."
"I don't think you can underestimate the role Miller's partner, Mike Webster, plays in his team as well," Andrew said, as the camera paused on Mike's face for a moment. "From what I've heard he was behind bringing Soung into the team, and he also introduced both Miller's doubles and mixed doubles partners to him."
"He does seem take a very active role in Miller's career, although I heard him say once that he can barely hold a tennis racquet himself," said Tim. The camera moved on to take in Smythe's girlfriend, who was gazing anxiously at Smythe as he sat eating a banana by the umpire's chair.
"Irina Shvets, his mixed doubles partner, who we'll see in action with Miller immediately after this men's final, has certainly said that it was Miller's partner who convinced her to give Miller a chance on the courts, a decision I can't believe she'll be regretting now," Andrew said.
"Definitely not," said Tim. "She'd struggled for a long while to find a partner who could provide a balance to that eccentric serve she has, but she and Miller have just clicked. They're both so athletic, of course, they absolutely run rings around most of the opposition. Her game overall has improved a great deal recently. Shvets has always had that potential, it's strange in a way that it's taken her mixed doubles partnership to bring that out in her. She made it all the way to the quarter-finals here and in France and I don't think a year ago we'd have been tipping her for that."
"And Miller's men's doubles partner, Ian Richardson, of course, another unlikely pairing," Andrew said. "We saw him and Miller absolutely power to victory in the men's doubles final yesterday in straight sets without a break of their serve, and yet as we said at the time, I don't think anybody expected Ian to come back at all after that terrible car accident, let alone come back and win a Wimbledon title."
"Yes, I think a lot of us, while wishing Ian the absolute best of course, were doubtful about his ability to come back to the game full time after his injuries. I do think his singles game still has a way to go. He's still got that exceptional serve, of course, but as he said himself in the press conference after the men's doubles final: he hasn't rebuilt the stamina yet to really play at his best in the singles tournament," said Tim.
"His serve is phenomenal though," said Andrew.
"Yes, and Miller makes up for any weakness in his speed around the court. Really, what's remarkable about Miller is his adaptability. He plays as well with Shvets, whose service game is idiosyncratic at best but I think is almost faster than he is around the court, as he does with Richardson, who is one of the most static players in the game, but who has that monstrous serve," said Tim, thoughtfully.
"And it was Mike Webster who introduced them?" asked Andrew. The camera came back to rest on Mike, who seemed to be engaged in some kind of childish elbowing spat with Jeff Miller. The commentators laughed.
"It was," said Tim. "Well, that's the story I've heard. Miller isn't forthcoming about, well, anything, and Mike has never gone on the record to talk about Miller's career or his role on the team. Irina and Ian, however, have both commented publicly on Mike's role as matchmaker. They all seem quite close. Richardson was knocked out of the men's singles in the first round -- terrible draw for him, up against semi-finalist Mitschev in the first round -- and since then we've seen him out and about with Mike in between his doubles matches, enjoying the crowds. Mike attended all of Irina's singles matches as well and all three of them were there to see her play in the quarter-final."
"But Webster isn't a tennis player himself, I believe," said Andrew.
"Not at all," said Tim. "He told me once that he accidentally knocked himself out one time when he tried to play and Miller has banned him from even setting foot on the court at their home ever since."
The umpire suddenly interrupted. "Time, please," he said, and the noise of the crowd dropped suddenly to murmurs. "Second set. Miller leads one set to love. Miller to serve." There was applause as the two men moved out on the court.
"Second set just about to start, and for Smythe, a lot of work to do to recover from that devastating first set defeat," said Andrew.
Second Set: Smythe vs Miller* 0-1; 3-3
"Deuce," the umpire announced.
"This has been a much better showing so far by Smythe, though he's having to work hard for it," said Andrew. Rudy served and Smythe scrambled to make a return, sending the ball down the line just beyond Rudy's reach.
"Advantage Smythe," the umpire announced.
"Now then," Andrew said. "Here's an important chance for Philip Smythe. Can he convert this into a break of service? This is the first time he's had a break point in the whole match so far."
Rudy bounced the ball twice, and flung it up into the air. Smythe didn't even move as it flew past him, and then rose from his crouch to stare at the linesman behind him before gesturing sharply at the chair umpire. The camera zoomed in on Rudy's face as he raised his right eyebrow slightly.
"Mr Smythe has challenged the call, the ball was called in," the umpire announced, and the crowd murmured and then began to clap rhythmically in anticipation of the challenge results.
"I thought that was in," said Tim. "I'm surprised he's challenged that."
"Perhaps he didn't see it, the monitors are saying that serve was one hundred and twenty one miles an hour," said Andrew.
The crowd roared in amazement as the results of the challenge came up on the monitors, and the ball was shown landing neatly on the line.
"Deuce," announced the umpire. The camera zoomed in on Philip Smythe, who was sweating and red-faced as he crouched down for the next serve."
"Advantage Miller," announced the umpire, and then seconds later: "Game, Mr Miller. Mr Miller leads, four games to three, second set, and one set to love."
"A wasted opp..." Tim started, and then stopped, as Smythe suddenly flung his racquet on the floor and yelled wordlessly at the ground. He flung his arms in the air, and then, to the crowd's amazement, began to jump up and down on his racquet angrily.
"Well, that's new," said Andrew, dryly. The camera swung around to Smythe's coaching team, who were up on their feet looking worried, while, just on the edge of the picture, Jeff Miller smirked. "And to think I've been saying all through the tournament how cool Smythe has been. He's lost it now."
"He really has," said Tim, sounding amazed. "I don't think I've ever seen Philip like that. I suppose it's understandable, but it's not like him at all."
Still muttering to himself, Smythe picked up his bent and crumpled racquet and flung it under his chair by the umpire, grabbing a new one from his bag. Rudy continued to contemplate the strings of his own racquet expressionlessly.
Second Set: Smythe vs Miller* 0-1; 6-6
"From that score, you'd think it had been an evenly matched set," said Andrew, as the players sat down by the umpire's chair. "But apart from that one game where Smythe had one break point on Miller, it's only sheer luck that we're not already into a third and deciding set with Miller in the lead."
Tim hummed in agreement. "I think Smythe might have used a year worth of luck in that set, there were so many close shaves and lucky escapes," he said. "He's beginning to look tired though and that's got to be worrying for his team. It's taking everything he's got to remain on even terms with Miller in this set, and even if he wins this tie break it only puts him on level terms with Miller overall."
"Do you think it helps that the crowd is behind him?" asked Andrew.
"Time," said the umpire, and Rudy stood up from his seat, striding purposefully towards the service line. Smythe followed more slowly.
"Absolutely," said Tim. "And they are solidly behind him. There are a few Miller supporters scattered around, but most of the crowd is here to see Smythe win."
"Miller will serve first in this tie-break, and, yes, that's another of his ferocious aces, how many is that for the match?" said Andrew.
"Eighteen, I believe," said Tim. "Compared to just four to Smythe."
Third Set: Smythe* vs Miller 1-1; 0-0
"Well, that was a tie-break and a half," said Andrew. "Yet more of that extraordinary luck for Smythe, who managed to just clinch a 7-5 win on a decision from Hawkeye."
"The whole Smythe camp is looking more relaxed now," said Tim, as the camera panned across them. "His coach, Robin Jenkins, was talking to me before the match and said they'd mapped out a number of strategies for the game based on their assessment of Miller's weaknesses. I know they've been studying Miller's recent games very intently."
"And do you think those strategies are finally coming out now, is this a turning point for Smythe in this match?" said Andrew.
"There wasn't much about that tie-breaker that I would call strategic," said Tim, with a laugh. "But it did the job, and now maybe he's got some momentum going into the third set."
"Let's bring Boris into this, since he's just appeared in the box, carrying a cake no less. Boris, what's your opinion of the match so far?" asked Andrew.
"Miller should be ahead two sets to love," Boris said, trenchantly. "Smythe has had a very lucky escape several times in that set."
"What would you be telling Miller now, if you were out there as his coach?" asked Andrew.
"I would be telling him to keep going, because he looks very fresh, very energetic, and Philip, by contrast, he is looking much worse, much more tired," said Boris. "There is a chance he gets going again, now that he has a set behind him, but there is a chance too that he will begin to tire and make still more unforced errors, and be less able to take advantage of the few openings that Miller gives him."
The camera panned over the royal box. "I see Martina is here today to watch," said Andrew. "Unusual, she seems to prefer the ladies finals."
"I've seen her speaking to Miller on a few occasions," said Tim. "In fact, I've seen them together on the warm up courts once or twice."
"A favour to fellow Czech Vojak, possibly?" suggested Andrew.
"Martina, I think, is keen to show support for Miller's decision to be public about certain aspects of his personal life," said Boris. "She has been very active in promoting tolerance and equality in tennis."
"Ah yes, of course," said Andrew.
The camera panned to Mike, who was leaning forward in his seat and frowning thoughtfully down at Rudy, who was adjusting his shoe laces.
"Time," called the umpire, and Rudy once again sprang to his feet, heading purposefully to his place on the court. Smythe was slower, carefully replacing items in his bag and dealing with his towel before he too moved into position.
Smythe vs. Miller* 1-1; 0-3
"I'm sure I don't need to say that this is looking very bad for Smythe. Things are really not going his way now," said Tim.
The crowd applauded tepidly as Miller slammed yet another ace past Smythe. "Forty-love," announced the umpire.
Smythe got his racquet to the next serve somehow, and it pinged off into the crowd, prompting laughter.
"Game, Mr Miller. Mr Miller leads four games to love, third set, one set all," the umpire recited.
Smythe* vs Miller 1-1; 0-5
"Miller is absolutely crushing Smythe in this set," said Tim. "And it's like he hardly breaking a sweat in the process."
"One of the eerie things about Miller," said Andrew, as they watched Smythe bounce the ball over and over in preparation for his serve. Rudy stood impassively on his baseline and waited. "Is just how silent he is. Especially in the modern game, where there's so much debate over the grunting and groaning noises the players make as they strike the ball."
"I saw an interview once where he was asked about the noise levels during his game against Mitshev in the French Open," said Tim. "He just looked at the interviewer and said 'Was that Mitschev? I thought someone was herding their pigs into court one.'"
"Not the best of friends, are they?" asked Andrew. On court, Smythe sent another serve into the net.
"Not if rumour has it right," Tim said.
"Love-fifteen," the umpire said.
"Smythe has lost five games in a row now, three of them without scoring a point," said Andrew.
"Fifteen all," the umpire announced.
"He's really struggling," said Tim. "It's all been one way this set, and Smythe's luck in the second set has not carried on into the third."
Fourth Set: Smythe vs Miller* 1-2; 0-0
"So, while the players take their two minute break, let's talk briefly to John McEnroe. John, your thoughts on the last set? At six games to one, a comprehensive defeat for Smythe," Andrew said.
Out on court, Smythe had covered his face with a towel and was hunched over in his chair. His team was looking on worriedly from the box. Rudy, by contrast, was placidly eating a snack. A Mexican wave was going around Centre Court.
"Smythe really isn't looking good," said McEnroe. "But then I have to say, I don't think I've ever seen Rudy Miller play this well either. It's making me rethink some of the games I've seen him play before. It's like he's turned up and brought his A game for the first time ever, and it's looking so easy that I'm starting to wonder if he could play like this all the time but doesn't see any point."
"I was thinking something similar," said Tim. "He's making it look effortless, and surely nobody should win Wimbledon effortlessly."
"It's like he's playing with Smythe," said McEnroe. "This whole last set, I don't know whether you noticed this, Smythe was constantly off balance, and he looked edgy, and it was all because of Miller, where he was choosing to stand to take the serve, how he was serving to Smythe. There was one serve, I think it was in the fourth game, where Miller looked like he was settling in one place, watched Smythe begin his service routine, and then he deliberately moved about a foot to the left. It's like he spotted from the way Smythe was bouncing the ball what was going to happen in the serve and adjusted his own position to compensate."
On screen, the camera replayed the incident. Smythe looked utterly unnerved when his would-be ace came flying back over the net at him.
"To be honest, I'd find it spooky if I were out there playing him," McEnroe said. "But the other thing is, did you see him when he won the set?"
"He looked up at the player's box!" Tim said. "I saw that."
"Players do that all the time, don't they?" said Andrew. The final point of the set replayed on screen, Rudy running to meet a misplaced lob from Smythe and smashing it into the court. The ball bounced away, unreachable. Smythe fell dramatically to the ground as he lunged for it, before rolling to lie on his back with his hands over his face.
"Not Miller. I've never seen him even acknowledge the existence of the crowd or anyone in it, not even his team or his boyfriend, during a match. I think most people were watching Smythe," said McEnroe. "But watch this."
In slow motion, Rudy was shown turning to look up at the player's box where Mike and Jeff were up on their feet applauding and cheering for him. His lips twitched, and he seemed to nod at them almost imperceptibly before his face blanked out again and he turned towards his seat by the umpire for the break between sets.
"Did he almost smile?" Tim asked, astonished.
"I think that's the most emotion we've ever seen that kid show on the court," said McEnroe. "I think he's enjoying it out there."
"You'd never know from looking at him," said Andrew. "I've never seen anyone look bored in a Wimbledon final before. Or at least, not out on court."
"Time," said the umpire.
"So, this could be the deciding set," said Andrew. "Miller is two sets up, and just needs to win this set to win the match and the championship."
The players walked out onto the court, the crowd cheering and shouting for Smythe, with only a few voices calling out: "Come on, Rudy!"
Fourth set: Smythe vs. Miller* 1-2; 1-3
"Fault," a linesman called.
"Love-thirty," said the umpire.
"Was that actually a double fault?" asked Andrew, in tones of surprise.
"It was!" said Tim. "His first this match."
On the court, Rudy was examining his racquet, and after a word with the umpire went back to his seat to exchange it for a new one.
"His racquet was broken?" Andrew asked. The camera zoomed in close to the discarded racquet, showing several strings were broken.
"Ah, well, there's the reason for the double fault," Tim said. "I noticed him checking the racquet between the first and second serves, but obviously it broke when he struck the ball."
"I don't know what it says about a player when we have to look for a physical reason for him to serve a double fault," Andrew said, after a pause in which Rudy slammed another ace past a weary and resigned-looking Smythe.
"It says he's Rudy Miller, apparently," Tim said. "Suddenly I'm very glad that he came along after I retired."
"I've heard Roger Federer say the same thing," said Andrew.
There was a flurry of shots on the court.
"Forty-thirty," the umpire intoned.
Rudy served another ace. "Game, Mr Miller. Mr Miller leads, four games to one and two sets to one," the umpire announced, to scattered applause. The crowd started to move about restlessly
The players moved to sit down for the short break before they changed ends.
"Miller's story is quite extraordinary when you think about it," said Andrew. "He didn't start playing until he was fourteen, when most players pick up a racquet much earlier. He won multiple junior championships between the ages of fourteen and seventeen, but refused to join the junior tour full time and then dropped out of sight of the international circuit for three years."
"He was at university, apparently," said Tim. "Nothing about his career really makes sense, and the fact that he dropped out of tennis almost entirely in those critical years when most tennis players are learning their craft is one of them. I interviewed him earlier this year and all he would say is that university was a good experience."
"And then he re-appeared on the international circuit, unseeded, about eighteen months ago, with very little in the way resources and an unproven coach, he's never played on grass before," said Andrew. "And yet somehow, he's risen from that to, well, let's face it, being on the verge of winning Wimbledon in a match where he's never really looked under pressure."
"Winning two Wimbledon titles," Tim added. "Let's not forget yesterday's doubles win, or the possibility that he and Shvets could pull off a victory later this afternoon."
"Do you think he can? It's quite an ask, going from the men's final to a mixed doubles final with barely a break in between," said Andrew.
"I think if anyone can, it's Rudy Miller," said Tim, amused. "And it seems like the bookies agree, going from the odds they're offering for him sweeping all three titles just now."
"Time," the umpire said.
Fourth set: Smythe* vs. Miller 1-2; 2-5
"Thirty all," the umpire said.
"I think this deciding game is one of the most gripping we've seen so far," said Tim. On the court, the players were both breathing hard after a lengthy, energetic rally. "Smythe is determined to go down fighting."
Smythe was examining the balls the ballgirl had just thrown to him. Rudy danced silently from foot to foot at the other end of the court. There was a chorus of "Come on, Philip! Come on!" from the crowd.
The camera panned across the player's box, where Mike and Jeff were both sitting on the edge of their seats, their faces tense and nervous. Rudy, by contrast, seemed unmoved by the entire experience.
"You'd never know he was just two points from winning the championship," said Tim. "His family looks more tense than he does."
"Smythe is taking a very long time setting up for this serve," said Andrew, sounding disapproving. "I've never liked these stall tactics. It has to be said, whatever mind games Miller plays with his opponents -- and he's increasingly notorious for it -- wasting time is not one of them."
"To be fair, I think Smythe is taking the time to settle himself as much as anything," said Tim.
Smythe served, the ball arcing neatly to Rudy's backhand. Smythe grunted as he returned the shot, his face screwing up with effort.
"Thirty-forty," said the umpire.
Rudy walked coolly to his position on the baseline.
"Championship point," said Andrew, in a hushed tone in the commentary box. The crowd seemed to be holding their breath. A quick shot of the player's box showed Mike and Jeff clutching at one another in an agony of nerves.
Smythe served. "Fault!" a linesman called.
Smythe bounced the ball a few more times, and Rudy, watching him, shuffled a half a step to the right and then settled into a crouch to await the ball.
Smythe served. The ball flew back and forth across the net until Rudy, running at full speed across the court, dropped a ball just over the net where Smythe had no hope of reaching it.
"Game, set and match, Mr Miller!" announced the umpire.
On the court, Rudy seemed to pause, before looking up at the player's box where Mike and Jeff were leaping up and down with excitement and, just as Jeff dove into a hug with Rudy's coaching team, sent one blinding smile at Mike. Mike stopped bouncing and just stared at him. The cheers and applause carried on around them.