It’s a long way from the greatest tennis match of all time to a first-round matchup on Court 13, but maybe everything’s going to be something of a letdown from now on for Pascal Maria.
Maria, a 36-year-old Frenchman, was the chair umpire for the epic 2008 Nadal/Federer Wimbledon final. He’s featured in Strokes of Genius, a book about that match by Sports Illustrated‘s Jon Wertheim, who relates that on the morning of the final, Maria “passed up his customary double espresso and peed at least ten times.”
On the first day of the Open, though, he was just another umpire, officiating at the match between Samantha Stosur and Ai Sugyama, which was hard-fought and went to a third set before 15th-seeded Stosur prevailed.
Maria gave no sign during the match of wishing he were back at Centre Court. After all, that’s his job. As Wertheim writes, “Umpires are trained not to prioritize matches. They’re there to watch the ball and uphold the rules, whether it’s a first-round qualifier match on Court 20 or a Federer-Nadal Grand Slam final.”