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.
He flew down to Australia to play the Hopman Cup.
Not Chennai. Not Doha. Not Brisbane. The Hopman Cup.
He entertained near capacity crowds all week in Perth. He took out Starace, gave Murray a work out. He played the longest match in history last year. He LOST the longest match in history last year.
And now? He’s gone and squeezed himself into a dress. What more does a guy have to do to get a little attention (and a friggin break) here?
People know him. People would go and watch him play.
Come. The fuck. On. Australian Open, give Mahut a wild card.
STAY THERE WOGIE! DOOTSIE IS COMIN’ FOR YA.
Hope you all enjoyed Poojay’s guest posts. She’ll the interim caretaker of Picket Fence until I land back in Australia on 22nd July. But one last post before I leave, since I’ve neglected my poor little blog these past few weeks because of exams and – as you may have heard – the ‘leadership spill’ in Australia (clickey for definition).
Within the space of one day, Australia went from being dissatisfied with its mandarin-speaking Prime Minister to dumping him and instating our first ever female-atheist-red-head-welsh-born-unionist-former-socialist-unmarried-childless-hairdresser-dating prime minister. ‘Cause that’s how we roll.
But back to actual tennis, some observations of the week:
1. “The Match”.
70-68 in the fifth set. Broken records. Broken scoreboard. And in the end, someone left with a broken heart.
Was it a high quality match for a tennis purist? Not even close. For long periods of the fifth set, there was an oxymoronic blend of repetitive numbness and intensity at the same time. But when that fifth set score line started hitting the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and eventually 70 – the so-called “quality of tennis” becomes irrelevant, because without spirit, will, without competitiveness, without heart, tennis is a series of failed attempts to defy gravity.
Can’t say I wasn’t happy to see Isner come through. Like Roger Federer last year, he benefited from something as trivial and crucial as serving first in the final set. When a contest is this close, ultimately, it comes down to that flip of a coin 3 days ago.
Heads or tails, Mr Nicholas Mahut? Serve or receive, Johnny Isner?
No need to be sad that they’re both out of the tournament. The sweetest prize of all isn’t the money, the trophy, or even their place in history, but finding out the depth of human resilience.
2. From a practice session a few days ago.
At some point during his evolution as a human being, Roger Federer missed the crucial stage where you learn that Santa Claus is not the Toothfairy’s daddy, and blowing on your thumb does not make it stop hurting.
3. Week 1.
Andy Murray is the only player in the top four who hasn’t been taken to five sets yet. It’s still early days, but is there hope and glory around the corner for Betty Windsor Land?
The ATP has gone strangely ‘WTA’ as the WTA morphed itself into a bubbling cauldron of hotness this tournament. Consider the men’s top 4: Federer – struggling to find form post-Aus Open, Mandy – broken by Roger in more ways than one in Melbourne, Nole – hasn’t made a final since Dubai; Rafa? Fabulous clay season, 17 months and counting in terms of winning a title off clay.
I’m not saying that those four don’t collectively have the best shot at winning the tournament, certainly Rafa and Roger go in as the favourites, even despite their early five-setters. But performance-wise, this is the worst stretch we’ve seen at the top of the men’s game.
Contrast that to the WTA. I watched Serena’s opening round match against the Banshee. There was authority, conviction, ruthless execution in every shot, every serve. It was awe-inspiring to behold. Consider Maria Sharapova, form-wise 80% there, her game wavering between A+ and non-performance. Clijsters has looked dangerously close to hitting her “Kimpossible” zone in the few grass court matches I’ve seen from her lately. Henin served up a dream against Nadia Petrova in her straight-sets win yesterday.
It’s 2005 reloaded, with a host of brand new minions trailing slightly behind. I may have to switch my tennis tour allegiances.
But alas, someone on the ATP World Tour has his hand on my heart-strings. He does.
I’ll pop in with a Wimbledon report, but the rest is up to Poojay. No revolts while I’m gone yo!