What does Nicholas Mahut need to do to get a break? Play a match for 11 fucking hours? – OH WAIT –
Sure, you can only attribute his epic Wimbledon loss to Isner, Lady Luck and the Tennis Deities above. But the fact that both the Australian Open and the US Open have now given wild cards to their own dim prospects instead of him is surely a mark of failure for tennis bureaucracy.
It’s not even just the fact that Mahut was snubbed. He was snubbed for those undeserving of wild cards. With two wild cards left to give away by Tennis Australia, they chose to give them to Carsten Ball and Bernard Tomic.
Bernard Tomic? Who was too ill to play the Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs, but not ill enough to be seen hitting up a storm for 2 hours in the same week?
Don’t kid yourselves. He knew he was more likely than not to get a wild card without playing a single match in wild card playoff or qualifying. In other words, he felt entitled enough to forego the chance of earning a spot in the draw.
This feeling of entitlement, of favours, of getting things without earning it, this is precisely why Australian tennis (and to variable extents – British tennis, American tennis) is at where it is today. We’ve spoiled our youngsters into complacency.
What is wrong, I must ask, with asking a player like Tomic or Carsten Ball to play qualifying? If you’re so good, prove it.
Other than their “Australian” nationality, is there any reason why these players deserved a wild card over Mahut?
Are they more likely to get past Round 1?
Have they entertained crowds the way Mahut did in Perth? Adding to the health of the Australian tennis season?
Did they push the limits of human endurance in an epic Wimbledon marathon, which the whole world marvelled at?
Is Carsten Ball more well known, more capable of gathering crowd support than Mahut even?
Hell, are either of these players who Australia would want to represent them to the world?
Tomic – spoilt, whining, racist, a boy who threatened to ‘quit’ Australia as if a person’s identity can be traded or blackmailed for a profit.
Carsten Ball – obscure, born and raised in the US, still based there in fact. It may be that Ball identified very strongly with the country of his father, I don’t know him well to doubt otherwise. But that is precisely the point: if I, a person who follows tennis week in week out, knows little about Ball, then can you really presume that the average Australian will get behind him simply based on the fact that he chose to play for Australia?
Mahut, on the other hand, is someone this country *can* get behind, someone who incidentally possess many qualities people in this country hold dear: toughness, endurance, magnanimity in defeat, and above all, a little cheek.
These are qualities that Australians, the French, Americans… or any human being really, can identify with and form an emotional bond to. I don’t think Mahut deserves a wild card simply because he lost an epic at Wimbledon. I think he deserves a wild card because he’s a player who, despite being ranked low, plays well enough and conducts himself with ease and fairness.
Neither Tomic or Ball have demonstrated as much game or sportsmanship to deserve their wild cards over Mahut. And this decision by Tennis Australia to award wild cards solely to Australians is perhaps … the most Unaustralian thing of all.
On a side note, I would like to use this space to alert you all to the flood situation in Australia – mainly Queensland and northern New South Wales. The declared disaster area is now over 5 times the size of United Kingdom. And there is no stop to the rain just yet.
You can help by donating to the Flood Appeal. My thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the floods.