SORRY, but what I have for you today is not what I wanted you to have.

Again, deadline was the culprit.

The championship match between Serena Williams and Justine Henin in the Australian Open, the oldest major in tennis, was scheduled to start at 4 p.m. Jan. 30.

My deadline for this piece was 4 p.m. of Jan. 30.

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Thus, no way for me to squeeze in a column on the Serena-Justine bout.

If Tiger Woods has rejoined the human race, what more with me?

Mortals can only do so much.

May I then do the Serena-Justine match some other day—with your indulgence —and, in the meantime, bear with me as I give you my discourse on the men’s championship showdown between Roger Federer and Andy Murray?

That’s scheduled for today, Jan. 31.

Of course, there’s no contesting the fact Federer is the heavy favorite, not only because he is the world’s No. 1 but also because he has won the Australian Open three times.

And, not to further belittle Murray, but the 22-year-old Scot made his first Australian Open finals this year only because he had earlier forced Rafael Nadal to retire due to an old knee injury.

Murray had simply usurped a title slot reserved for the Spaniard from Mallorca. For, if Nadal had been in top shape when he fought Murray, the much-anticipated showdown between the Swiss Ace and the Spanish Armada was a done deal.

And that would have been a match fraught with unpredictable ferocity and pregnant with possibilities only the two of them are capable of producing.

As things stand now, we might yet see —God forbid—a sleeper in the Federer-Murray finals.

While Federer works in clockwork-precision as in the renowned Rolex timepieces that he’s been endorsing for years now, Murray still appears to me to be still groping for his place in the galaxy of tennis stars.

Look at the tale of the tape.

Federer is the master pitted against Murray in diapers.

Federer is the blizzard, Murray the intermittent drizzle.

Federer is the lion in Rome’s olden Coliseum, Murray the woeful Christian.

Murray’s only hope for survival is for Federer not to show up.

But why would Federer not show up?

God doesn’t sleep, in case you’ve forgotten.

(alsol47@yahoo.com)