"Every tennis lover would like, someday, to play like Federer," Philippe Bouin tells Cynthia Gorney of The New York Times Magazine for this week's cover story. "But every man wants to be Rafael Nadal. Which is different."
That's the backbone of Gorney's epic, sprawling profile of Nadal — which couldn't have hit newsstands at a better time, with his withdrawing from Wimbledon on Friday, even if it's actually just a big cover-up and he's already won it.
But before you get all psyched out about reading many, many words, here's one thing to think about.
With this story, The Times Magazine — and its Play, R.I.P. — has published two of the finest long-form profiles of Nadal and Roger Federer. What's more, the authors of the profiles (Gorney, a creative writing professor, and the late David Foster Wallace, he of no further introduction), are not sportswriters but writer's writers.
And those running a sports magazine could take yet another hint from this type of standard: Sometimes, it pays to turn your pages over to outsiders. Not all the time, mind you, but sometimes, for a fresh take. They might not know anything about sports — still, DFW did — but they can make sentences cha-cha real smooth. Or squirt a variety of juices in your face.
That's what matters most.