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Cruel Britannia 06/24/2009 - 3:28 PM


by Pete Bodo

During Roland Garros, I took a look early on at how the French players, including that legion of wild card entries, fared. It seems only appropriate to check on their British counterparts now that Wimbledon is going full bore. As you know, and probably expected, it's been pretty much a train wreck for British players - only two, Andy Murray and Elena Baltacha, survived the first round to fight another day. So let's take a closer look at the results, and hear from some of the poor souls who were thrown to the wolves (aka, their fellow pros and the media, two distinct but equally ferocious packs).

Bag Boy

The former Top 10 American pro Eddie Dibbs once cracked that if it were not for tennis, he'd be a "bag boy at the Food Fair", a reference to a popular supermarket chain of the time. That theme re-emerged again the other day after British player Daniel Evans lost in the first round to Nikolay Davydenko.

Q. What are you going to spend it (first-round prize money) on, anything?

A: "I don't know. Probably not a lot. I'll just keep it, rainy day. I might not be a tennis player soon, might be stacking shelves."

Q. From what you were saying there, money is not the incentive for you anyway?

A: "No. Well, I like to compete, and I've always been like that, and that's it, really. I enjoy competing. . .  Yeah, for sure I'm not going to be 25 still asking for wild cards, simple as that. You've got to earn a living sooner or later, and if you're not earning a living, I won't be 23, 24, still trying to get to the top 100 and playing Futures and Challengers. I don't know, I think it's just respect for yourself, you know?

I've got bigger things, I think, to do than just sit around like that and do that in Futures. You see them every week, week in and week out, and half of them are destroying young hopes. I've played them, and they beat me, and it's like, Oh, God, you lost to him again. I don't want to be doing that in four or five years."

Q. What else could you do? A lot of people keep going and doing tennis because they perhaps couldn't do anything else. You sound like you've got --

A:  "No, I mean, you put it into this perspective; there's no point in sitting at a Futures event winning two rounds, you make £170. What's the point? You'd have to work four days for that because you'd be there two days before a tournament. Would you do it?"

Q. It would be a promotion (pay raise) for me (laughter). Have you got an idea about career-wise --

A: "No, haven't had to think about it. Tesco's (the British equivalent of Food Fair) are offering, though (laughter)."

Andy Watergate!

Andy Murray committed the commercial faux pas of going on court for his first-round match with water bottled by Highland Spring (It sounds kind of Scottish; can't you just hear the bagpipes playing Amazing Grace. . . If I hear bagpipes playing Amazing Grace one more time. . . never mind). This clearly violated the sponsorship agreement Wimbledon has with some other water company (you want me to write the name, buckos, you write the check first!).

Let's cut to the presser:

Q.  Is it right you got a minor ticking off for drinking the wrong sort of water?  That you drank some Highland Spring and you're apparently not allowed to do that? 

A: "No, definitely didn't get a ticking off.  It's just that I use liter-and-a-half bottles for my energy drink. The sachets I use are a liter-and-a-half. I have Highland Spring ones, so I was still allowed to drink out of the bottles, I just needed to take the label off.  He (presumably the umpire, who as we all know is up in that high chair to make sure the players don't violate Wimbledon's water-sponsor agreement) just asked me to take the label off, and I took it off straightaway."

Q.  That's the rules, is it?

A: "It happens at a lot of the tournaments where they have water sponsors. I mean, I've had to do it quite a lot of times this year. Normally we take them off before the match, but sometimes we forget."

Too Mature for Hannah Montana, Are We?

Laura Robson, the bright and shining hope of British women's tennis, played a solid match (for a 15-year old) against Daniela Hantuchova. I don't know where tennis will take her in the future, but this kid's got spunk:

Q: What was going through your mind in the dressing room beforehand, just about to go out there?

A:  "Nothing really (smiling).  I was kind of thinking about what the towels were going to look like this year. They're really nice (laughter)."

Q.  You've been busy lately with your studies and tennis training.  What do you do to relax in your spare time, being 15?

A: "Uhm, I watch Gossip Girl. But, no, season two is finished out. I'm so depressed. But, yeah, I don't know. I just do normal stuff (smiling)." 

Q.  Do you get much time to socialize, or can it be quite hard?

A: "I socialize (laughter). Yeah, what do you want me to say, I've got no friends (laughter)?"

She's So Good She Reminds me of Me!

And then there was this bit, from haughty Dani Hantuchova's own presser after she beat Robson in three:

Q.  Can you remember what you were like as a 15 year old?

A:  "Actually, she reminded me a lot of myself.  You know, she's got a great feel in the hands.  She's not afraid to do whatever she feels like on the court." 

I expect that any day now, we'll see Dani show off that "great feel", perhaps by hitting a volley?

Let's See if We Can Make Her Cry. . .

After Anne Keothavong was taken out in straights by Patty Mayr:

Q.  This is not an accusation, but do you feel as though you've let a few people down today?

A: "I feel like I've let myself down more than anything. You know, Wimbledon is such a special tournament to me. And, you know, this year especially, I just felt, you know, I've overcome so much just to get where. . . "

At this point, Keothavong began to tear up - not that it mattered.

Q.  Did you put more pressure on yourself, do you think? 

The tears were rolling now, so the moderator intervened: "Can we stop for a few minutes?"

Keothavong left the room, composed herself and the first word she said when she returned was: "Sorry."

Kids say the darndest things.

In that Case, Let's Go With a Ping Pong Paddle

Joshua Goodall lost a 5-setter to Michael Llodra, but he's had a pretty decent grass court season, at least by British standards, thanks partly to a change of equipment.

Q.  You changed your racquet just before the start of the championships a couple of weeks ago, which is a bit of a gamble.  He (Josh's coach) also seemed to think you played a hell of a lot better with a shorter racquet. 

A: "Yeah, I mean, some people would think that is like a no-go. They'd never be able to do that. I don't know, I've got a weird head (I presume Josh was taking about his own head, not the one on the racket). Things like that don't bother me. I knew it was going to benefit me more to change to a shorter racquet. 

Balta It May Not be My Fifth Straight Wimbledon Title, But it Sure Feels That Way!

Elena Baltacha, the other Brit (after Murray) who advanced to the second round, admitted that she knew the fate that befell her countrymen, which made her win over Alona Bondarenko that much sweeter.

Q.  Had you rehearsed that Bjorn Borg style celebration at the end?

 A: "No, I didn't. But you know what, I kept thinking, I'm gonna win this. I am gonna win this. There's no way I'm gonna lose this. No way. I kept thinking of match point, when I get to match point, how I'm gonna play match point. You know, I tried to keep visualizing how I was gonna win it, you know. But I didn't think of celebrating, 'cause just before my celebration I think, Right, you've still got a bit to do now.  But I did constantly keep saying to myself, You are going to win this. You are definitely within a shout. There's no doubt, you're going to come through this. When I did actually come through, I didn't believe it."

I was hoping for a follow-up question, something like this: Did you ever think, I'm gonna win this thing?"

Kick Me, Beat Me, Poke Me in the Eye (Part 1)

Tomas Berdych took out Alex Bogdanovic, the 25-year old Brit, in the first round in straight sets. Somebody smelled blood.

The Introduction:

Q.  Pretty disappointing. You were in there each set. Just didn't work out for you.

A: "Yeah, definitely. I felt I played a good match out there. Just when it came down to crucial points, games towards the end, you know, I made a few mistakes. He obviously took advantage of that. And I think when you play at such a high level, it's just difficult to kind of, you know, he takes advantage straightaway, and, you know, the set is over."

The Exposition of the Main Theme:

Q.  Eight years in a row now, isn't it, that you've not got past the first round?  How does that feel?

A: "Well, it's difficult. Obviously, it's tough. I come here every year expecting myself to win. You know, it's obviously the eighth year. I can't get past the first round. But you look back at the draws I've had. They haven't been easy, from, I don't know, Escude, Sargsian, Nadal, Berdych. These guys are all top players. Obviously, champions, as well. All you can do is just go out there and, you know, do your best.

Q.  Was there ever a time in those eight years that you thought you should have got through?

A:  I think maybe one winnable match. I think I played one year Kevin Kim (he's no Sargsian, but the dude can play some!).

Cutting to the Chase:

You know what? I'm going to quote just the (real) questions, in order. And instead of quoting that poor kid's replies, I'm going to fill in the statement implied by each of the questions for, as we all know, reporters' questions are very often statements in disguise:

Q.  I think you have the worst record of any man here.  How does that make you feel?

Please say it makes you want to fling yourself off the Tower of London; it would make a great headline!

Q.  Do you think you are getting better?

We think you stink and are going nowhere fast.

Q.  Twelve months ago we sat in this room after your last defeat, and you said you were determined to keep coming back until you did win. Is that still your mindset?

And we're not talking about winning as in "winning Wimbledon." We're talking about the outside chance that you may win one match here some day.

Q.  Do you enjoy it here?


Q.  Why do you do so badly then?  Why do you never win here?

Bleed for me, sucker.

Q.  There has been some questioning about the fact that you get a wild card all the time.  Do you ever think to yourself, Oh, don't give me a wild card, let me try and qualify?  Do you ever have that in your mindset to ease the pressure in some way?

Why don't you man up and stop wasting our time; this wild card could have gone to Goran Ivansevic!

Q.  So you'll be back next year?

Why the hail don't you just get out and stay out.

Q.  Does it bother you that you get all this stick?

We love picking at your open sores, please say it hurts.

Q: What do you think you'll do if and when you do finally win one?  Have you pictured that moment?

As if!

Q: How many years do you think you have left in you?

Hey, this is getting old, even for us. . .

Kick Me, Beat Me, Poke Me in the Eye (Part 2)

Bogdanovic bounced back the following day with the best possible response to his critics, picking up a doubles win with his partner, James Ward. Once again, he was dragged to the torture chamber deep in the bowels of Centre Court. Al was asked if seeing all those Brits out of the tournament "hurt quite a lot." He was also asked if he thought he'd been made a scapegoat for the problems of British tennis (Gee, who on earth would ever do that, fellas?).

And then there was this:

Q.  You said yesterday you'd be back next year in the singles.  The LTA have said you probably won't be getting your wild card next year.  What's your reaction on that?

A: "Yeah, I probably won't. I have many chances. My goal, as I said, is probably I will concentrate on doubles."

Q.  Do you think it's fair you won't get another wild card?

A: "Yeah, definitely. That's fair enough, for sure. I've had my chances and didn't - unfortunately - couldn't take them."

It takes a special kind of person to be a tennis player; especially a British tennis player, during Wimbledon.

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Posted by Derrick H 06/24/2009 at 03:51 PM


Posted by Vincent - Sire Waistcoat ? 06/24/2009 at 04:04 PM

The part with Dan Evans was especially moving. I remember reading the interview of a trainer who trained a few top-200 players, saying that the most difficult was keeping them motivated as they got handed 6-1, 6-0 routs on a regular basis. Isn't it crazy to think that, even if you're in the 200 best players in the world, you still will get humiliated by a player 150 ranks better ? And winning peanuts in the process... Part of what makes tennis I guess. I'd like to read more pieces on those unknown Futures-level hacks, they're a bit like the silent majority in tennis..

Posted by Grant 06/24/2009 at 04:43 PM

Cruel Britannia
Britannia rule the waves
The British press are a pack of knaves

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 06/24/2009 at 04:54 PM

Yes, the British press do look cruel to these young players. But I always say that they are the best but also the worst in the world. It gives a very bad impressions to the rest of the world, one that I do not want to see.

Posted by Lleytsie 06/24/2009 at 04:56 PM

wow - after some time, i dropped in ... and then someone gets into trouble

VC -


Posted by federerfan 06/24/2009 at 04:59 PM

dont know why but really feel for the guy, bogdanovic!
maybe bcos i can relate to him some way.
I will make it a pt next year to see if he gets a break and wins a match and then in the presser announces that he will not be accepting wild cards anymore.

Posted by federerfan 06/24/2009 at 05:03 PM

"silent majority" - yes, 6-0,6-1 being the 200th best player in the world...motivation after that? never thought about that aspect. Cruel world of tennis, I guess, covered up by all the glory/money of the top few!
Can you imagine making like $250 (rough translation of GBP 170) for a weeks labor? I feel for these guys and gals.

Not sure if VC is for Vincent, isnt there another poster called VC around here?

Hey Vincent! Havent heard you comment on feds win and rafa's troubles but maybe on the other thread, very interested ofcourse in what you "really" thought about both.

Posted by lollipop 06/24/2009 at 05:05 PM

Great post, pete! Some of these questions were real cruel. But it just gives you an idea of what these players have to go through.

Posted by Jenn 06/24/2009 at 05:15 PM

Wow, Pete - your fellow journalists are brutal! Seriously, this was a great post the way you quoted these questions. These players are incredible talents as far as being among the top 100/200 players in the entire WORLD, and they are trying their best, presumably training their hearts out. My heart goes out to them - the press can be brutal, particularly in Britain! We also forget sometimes that a lot of these players are just kids (Robson et al).

Where did the "haughty" reference re Dani arise from?

Posted by Mr.X 06/24/2009 at 05:31 PM

That was quite funny, Pete.
First thing: did anybody expect any of the British players, apart from Murray, to win? Maybe Keothavong, but that was kind of compensated with Baltacha (you are going to win this).
Those British journalist sound a little bit like a pack of wolves festing on the poor guys. Specially Bogdanovic. That series of questions is just too much. But the answers are kind of surprising: so you say you faced great players, and you proceed to put Sargsian and Nadal in the same sentence. They should take away your WC just for that, Boggo.
That kid robson apparently has a brilliant future. I just hope they dont put too much pressure on her too early. After all, she is just 15.

Posted by just horsen(Hott Sauce for Wimby Champ '09!) 06/24/2009 at 05:42 PM

hmmm....intersting, but I enjoyed the one on the french players more, they're a little more flashy. Still, I do kinda feel sorry for the poor chaps. Seems like the only countries that can produce top of the line tennis players are Spain and Serbia right now. Argentina has a bunch of middlin players and Switzerland only has Roger(oh and Stan), the U.S. has ummm....the Williams and Roddick and that's about it. So I say we all try and copy Spain and Serbia 'cause whatever they're doing works!

Posted by Russ 06/24/2009 at 05:46 PM

Pete: Nice work. The Baltacha and Bogdanovic segments were LOLRPFLOMAP funny.

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 06/24/2009 at 06:12 PM

Its a good thing I wasn't in that press room. I might have said something that would have adversely affected any TW-related press rights!

As if these journalists, who I am sure are just in ridiculously good shape themselves, have any standing to give any of these players a hard time.

Bogdanovic is, of course, not famous in the Paris Hilton "I am a public figure and attempting to make money off my faux celebrity" sense, if he has gotten wild cards its because he has played in lower level pro events and would not otherwise qualify for Wimbledon.

The very fact that he needs a wildcard says it all, I mean what in the world would anyone who has any clue about tennis expect? A player who is 200+ in the world and over age 20 or so is not there by accident.

The fact that a 200+ player is simply not going to beat a top 20 player, absent some incredible stroke of luck, especially not over 5 sets.

This is substantively different than the times when the British press, or any press, gives some multi-millionare soccer star a hard time. No one gives you anything in tennis, and even a wild card does not entitled the press to act like they are being hard done by.


Posted by Icarus 06/24/2009 at 07:11 PM

Yeah, it's insane. British press make these interviews truly torture chambers.

Posted by Heidi 06/24/2009 at 07:19 PM

Geez! That last roll of cruel questions was something else, Pete. Really makes you understand why British actors sometimes prefer the gentle paparazzi of Hollywood.

Posted by Rosangel 06/24/2009 at 07:41 PM

I think the most notorious incident in the history of the British tabloid press may have been the headline "Gotcha!" used by The Sun after the sinking of the Argentinian ship The Belgrano during the Falklands war, before it became clear that over 300 sailors had died. At the time I was at school and had a job delivering morning papers to earn pocket-money, so I remember it well.

At Queen's Club quite a large number of the accredited press were from local newspapers including the tabloids, most of whom aren't dedicated to following tennis throughout the year. If this is the same at Wimbledon, it might help to explain some of the more-hyena-like-even-than-usual nature of some of the questions thrown.

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 06/24/2009 at 07:56 PM


I would be curious how the Brit on the street reacts to this type of coverage. To my mind it is simply dis-honorable to call British players "losers" when it is clear that they may simply be trying their best with the talent they have -- and if the talent that they have is just not up there with the rest of the world then unless Britain has a super-secret "talent injection device" the results are going to be what they are.

I mean, is it not clear that the LTA, or for that matter the USTA, or any "TA" has virtually nothing to do with "producing" world top ten players?

Does anyone think its anything other than total luck that Serbia has Djokovic, Ivanovic, and Jankovic all around at the same time? Its certainly not down to any efforts of the Serbian Tennis Association, if there is such a thing.

Similarly, its not as if the Swiss Tennis Association had anything to do with the development of Federer or Hingis. I mean, come on, if you actually knew how to develop even one "Federer" you would not even have to repeat the process, just develop of few more 1/4 Federer's and you'd have an endless supply of James Blakes!

I'm still steaming at these questions!

Posted by Tom 06/24/2009 at 08:05 PM

A little off topic: but was Tennis World always below Concrete Elbow on the main page of A demotion for Pete due to his low tolerance for white military coats on the grass?


Posted by Rosangel 06/24/2009 at 08:25 PM

Hank (Dunlop): Well, I have never spoken to any tennis-following person here who really thought that Tim Henman is a loser. Disappointment that he didn't do even better at Wimbledon during the Sampras years is usually tempered by knowledge of who and what Tim was up against.

i.e. the tabloids aren't representative of what everybody thinks. I think Henman is liked and admired for what he actually did achieve, which was a whole lot - not many players get to be as high as number four in the world at any point, after all.

Posted by Rosangel 06/24/2009 at 08:28 PM

That said, I can't vouch for the entire population that buys tabloids - that's a very large number of people.

Posted by Djerkovic 06/24/2009 at 08:31 PM

So the world-wide backlash
against Bodo's fashion critique of Federer
has made Bodo
a little more careful.

I hope he's been humbled
rather than humiliated.

Posted by Gerry 06/24/2009 at 08:41 PM

Pete's comment that Laura Robson has spunk brought back a memory from the Mary Tyler Moore Show:
Lou tells Mary in a congratulatory tone: "You've got spunk!"
Mary nods her head grinning shyly.
Then Lou says: "I hate spunk!"
Anyway, good for this 15 year old for holding her own in the presser.

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 06/24/2009 at 08:58 PM


Thanks for the response. I know that the LTA actually does support many players with coaching, and perhaps a training residence, but the reality is that the average ATP or WTA pro who is battling it out in the Futures and Challengers has (1) a very high level of skill, and (2) no reason whatsoever to account to anyone else, other than their personal coach perhaps and their family, for that talent.

There is simply no analogy to other professional team sports where players have guaranteed contracts which are not subject to modification based upon effort or results.

Tennis pros already have instant feedback --- its called losing and not making any money.

For some reason the harshness towards Bogdanovic really makes me angry. If he's given a wildcard because he's the third highest ranking Brit or whatever its no different whatsoever than the fact that the winner of the US National 18s always gets an entry into the U.S. Open. Of course in pretty much every year that player is going to lose, and in pretty much every year there would be some other deserving pro who is kept out of the draw.

Well, wildcards have been part of tournaments since day one, and while it may not be entirely equitable the process is open and the rules are fair.

I need a glass of wine to calm down here.

Posted by federerfan 06/24/2009 at 09:23 PM

i have never, ever, repeat ever seen dunlop so mad and seething and i've got to admit, its even better to see his human side than the more technical wiz side of things, he can say what you feel so well, that you have nothing to add.
vamos dunlop!

Posted by TripleF-FedFanForever(Sergeant Pepper Fed's Lonely Hearts Club) 06/24/2009 at 09:26 PM

Fed was on Tennis channel - interview with Bill M and Martina N. Just a couple of minutes ago. Lengthy interview. Fabulous interview. Fabulous. Loved it.

Posted by federerfan 06/24/2009 at 09:40 PM

this reminds me of what happens in another sport, cricket, in pakistan and india, when they win, they are treated like Gods, when they lose, at home theres chaos and effigies are burnt and their houses are demolised etc.
Anytime, the collective longing of an entire nation creates this crucible of pressure where an individual, unwittingly, finds himself/herself in, this kind of crap comes about I guess. Atleast in cricket, the yearning has not gone for 70+ years, neverthless when this comes down on an individual, its very ugly to see.

If I remember only one thing from this wimby, it will be bogdanovic and these poor kids who had to "explain" and "defend" their right to exist after "losing yet another opportunity" to redeem a whole nation (atleast their media) from their inferiority complex.
Wonder what will be in store for muzzard if, great scot!, gulbis were to beat him tomorrow.

Posted by Moderator 06/24/2009 at 09:53 PM

Let's stay on-topic, please.

Posted by Tim (2009 Year of Red Rogie ) 06/24/2009 at 10:02 PM

this interview with Fowler and martina on TC is great with Feddie...good stuff, thanks TC!

"I didnt need Rafa, but he made me push a little extra..."

Ah Davis Cup... "I would LOVE to play...but it has to wait.."

the guy is honest !

Posted by darthhelmethead 06/24/2009 at 10:04 PM

Wow, the british press is mean. I remember a tabloid reporter coming on ESPN a couple years ago and tearing apart Tim Henman. Brad Gilbert looked liked he wanted to punch her. I can't imagine any other country who puts so much pressure on there tennis players. Britain makes France look like a warm and comforting place to lose at your home grand-slam.

Unfourtanetly the LTA seems to give everybody the impression that they are coddling their players too much. While a country's tennis assosciation should aid their players the real focus should be on growing the game on a grass roots level, where the LTA has lacked in recent years. With enough junior tournaments around the UK might attract more talents in waiting to the game but right now they are going to have to live with the journeymen level players that they have. Oh, and Andy Murry, the have to live with him too even though he's scottish not british.

Posted by ptenisnet 06/24/2009 at 10:11 PM

Are you talking about Sue Mott? She was a piece of work.

I think the latest position is that murray is both scottish and british, by virtue of an age old loophole in their inhabitation laws.

Posted by Djerkovic 06/24/2009 at 10:15 PM

I share the deepest sentiment of all Britons
in their desire to have a British champion again at Wimbledon
I also want Andrew Murray to win

maybe it's just the wrong time
coz history is not on their side

History will be carved in stone.
letters to be etched in silver "with gold piping"

F e d e r e r
The Undisputed Greatest of All Time!

Posted by Or 06/24/2009 at 10:17 PM

Good post, Pete. I wad reading boggo's presser with my mouth open, they are in a vicious mood this year, the british press.

One has to hope Murray gets to the finals at least.

Posted by ptenisnet 06/24/2009 at 10:20 PM

I would hope that, as actual practitioners of the game of tennis, boggo, keo et al would have a more realistic assessment of their accomplishments and what they are up against, than the people who are paid to pretend to be incensed by their under performance.

Posted by Angel of the Surf (Kuzzy 2009 FO Champion) 06/24/2009 at 11:17 PM

Gosh people lighten up, Pete I thought it was hilarious. I mean if you can't handle the heat get out of the kitchen. I thought some of the questions were fair enough. Why shouldn't Bogo be questioned how come he hasn't made it out of the first round at Wimbledon in eight attempts. He is afterall trying to be a professional tennis player.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 06/25/2009 at 01:47 AM

"Cruel Britannia" - LOL @ the title, and, general LOL. Too many good lines to pick out a few. :)

Well, we are a nation of sickos. ;-) - courtesy of a commenter on Concrete Elbow. I'm so adopting that. Although actually - I didn't think the questions were all that bad, really. *shrug*

I didn't see Dan Evan's press conference, but, reading it, he came across as kind of deadpan and joky.

also, nice cheer for Bally, and one for Laura R and Georgie Stoop. :) *feels proud*

*admits to liking bagpipe music*

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 06/25/2009 at 01:59 AM

"I think the latest position is that murray is both scottish and british, by virtue of an age old loophole in their inhabitation laws."

more LOL.

Rosangel - I don't remember that headline, but I remember reading about it in a book by Jonathan Raban, Coasting - simply fury-making. Grr.

Posted by Nigel 06/25/2009 at 04:32 AM

Britain doesn't produce tennis players cos you need a massive base level, like France and Spain, which have literally millions of tournament-playing youngsters. We have 6000. We have only 6000 tennis-playing juniors because we no longer do ANY sport in schools, because we're all fat and because we've become a nation of welfare-scrounging chavs (trailer trash is the US translation) to whom the notion of playing tennis is as alien as sipping a Pimms at a country-house garden party.

Posted by alex 06/25/2009 at 06:19 AM

Poor Keothavong, I was totally shocked when I watched the interview - "Do you think you've let a few people down today?" -and was in now way surprised when she broke down in tears.

She was obviously really trying to get beat and the journalist doesn't in the least need to feel there's anything grubby about the way he earns his money.

The sad thing is these journalists must think we enjoy this kind of Christians-to-the-lions spectacle - what do they think we are? Sickos like them?

Posted by alex 06/25/2009 at 06:28 AM

Nigel - LOL!

Ever so slightly elastic with the truth (I am assuming the "all" doesn't include you :) ), but a fat nation we have certainly become. And perhaps there's something similar in the US where they also seems to be struggling with a dearth of young talent.

Posted by tina 06/25/2009 at 07:29 AM

But I might add, Nigel, that in my experience, chavs are generally more "urban" than "trailer trash". Ali G is a self-described chav, right?

Hopefully Anne K. will use this traumatic experience as future inspiration.

Posted by xxx 06/25/2009 at 08:41 AM

@Dunlop Maxply

"Does anyone think its anything other than total luck that Serbia has Djokovic, Ivanovic, and Jankovic all around at the same time? Its certainly not down to any efforts of the Serbian Tennis Association, if there is such a thing"

There is a lot of talented kids in Serbia including world top juniors such as Krajinovic, Jovanovski, Krunic, Milojevic etc.So,it's kind of a spanish tennis pattern implemented in Serbia...

Posted by jewell, at work. Just say no to Fedal wars! 06/25/2009 at 09:01 AM

Speaking of both chavs and bagpipe music:

Bagpipe Music - Louis Macneice

It's no go the merrygoround, it's no go the rickshaw,
All we want is a limousine and a ticket for the peepshow.
Their knickers are made of crepe-de-chine, their shoes are made of python,
Their halls are lined with tiger rugs and their walls with head of bison.

John MacDonald found a corpse, put it under the sofa,
Waited till it came to life and hit it with a poker,
Sold its eyes for souvenirs, sold its blood for whiskey,
Kept its bones for dumbbells to use when he was fifty.

It's no go the Yogi-man, it's no go Blavatsky,
All we want is a bank balance and a bit of skirt in a taxi.

Annie MacDougall went to milk, caught her foot in the heather,
Woke to hear a dance record playing of Old Vienna.
It's no go your maidenheads, it's no go your culture,
All we want is a Dunlop tire and the devil mend the puncture.

The Laird o' Phelps spent Hogmanay declaring he was sober,
Counted his feet to prove the fact and found he had one foot over.
Mrs. Carmichael had her fifth, looked at the job with repulsion,
Said to the midwife "Take it away; I'm through with overproduction."

It's no go the gossip column, it's no go the Ceilidh,
All we want is a mother's help and a sugar-stick for the baby.

Willie Murray cut his thumb, couldn't count the damage,
Took the hide of an Ayrshire cow and used it for a bandage.
His brother caught three hundred cran when the seas were lavish,
Threw the bleeders back in the sea and went upon the parish.

It's no go the Herring Board, it's no go the Bible,
All we want is a packet of fags when our hands are idle.

It's no go the picture palace, it's no go the stadium,
It's no go the country cot with a pot of pink geraniums,
It's no go the Government grants, it's no go the elections,
Sit on your arse for fifty years and hang your hat on a pension.

It's no go my honey love, it's no go my poppet;
Work your hands from day to day, the winds will blow the profit.
The glass is falling hour by hour, the glass will fall forever,
But if you break the bloody glass you won't hold up the weather.

The perfect antidote to mournful and solemn piping. ;-)

Posted by Liwa 06/25/2009 at 10:07 AM

Jewell - Maybe that's why you rarely see his father at any Andy Murray matches: he can't fit in with that massive bandage on his thumb.

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 06/25/2009 at 11:05 AM

One of the most enjoyable posts from you in quite a while, Pete. Perhaps because it was so different, and irreverent (not that I would ever accuse you of NOT being irreverent in your other posts!).

These two lines slayed me:

"Keothavong left the room, composed herself and the first word she said when she returned was: 'Sorry.'"

"Kids say the darndest things."

As did this one:

"I was hoping for a follow-up question, something like this: Did you ever think, I'm gonna win this thing?"

The press corps sure do say the darndest things, don't they?

Then there was this little jab at Daniela:

"I expect that any day now, we'll see Dani show off that "great feel", perhaps by hitting a volley?"

You do know, of coure, that she's a fairly accomplished doubles player. Probably due more to her returns of serve than her volleys, but she does have nice hands. And gams. And... I'll stop now.

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 06/25/2009 at 11:09 AM

Now that I've finished the piece, Pete, I cannot stop laughing..... great stuff!

These Brits are surely the cruelest of them all. Do you simply sit in the back and take notes? How can you possibly compete with that level of sarcasm, and still be able to look at yourself in the mirror?

Posted by FM (Rafa gets well and fit soon! Vamos forever!!) 06/25/2009 at 12:20 PM

Thanks for the great post. I particularly like the section "Cutting the Chase". Didn't expect that from a journalist on your fellow blood-seeking journalists.

I start to understand why there arent' much top Brit tennis players.

Posted by catq 06/25/2009 at 12:53 PM

Pete, it's funny but it hurts, too. is this how the british make up for their stiff upper lips? what if Alex came back with, "it's been 8 years you've been writing all these crap. how does that make you feel?"

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 06/25/2009 at 03:03 PM

After a nice glass of Gwertstremeiner last night I read up a bit following and article in the Guardian and the readers comments.

This doesn't sort of happen by accident. First Wimbledon happens to be in England and makes quite a bit of money, obviously.

Second, that money is basically spent by the LTA on British tennis.

Third, although it seems obvious that there is only so much that money can do in any sport in terms of player development, especially so in tennis where you are probably born with the talent to make it into the top 50 or not, every year at Wimbledon the publicity rises to the top, followed by "where is the money going" and then the tabs jump in.

Of course, Wimbledon has been a big money making tournament probably only since the big television contracts came in. England has never had alot of dept in men's or women's tennis -- the reality is that, barring a fluke of popularity, it basically rains too much to play year round and develop a huge base of players alluded to above.

No reason for the few Brits who actually get out there and try to take such a beating, though.

Posted by Iain 06/25/2009 at 07:28 PM

That lost post sums it up. "it basically rains too much..." That's the crux of the issue. In rainy countries you need indoor courts. They're a lot more expensive i think. Mind you, Murray got a letter from the queen this week and his mum was at the Prime Minister's house this morning, so perhaps they can have a word in someone's ear.

Posted by darthhelmethead 06/25/2009 at 10:49 PM


Couldn't agree with you more on Daniela.[Grins mischieviously]

This was a fun post. Shows that the British press is a lot different than what we've got in the U.S. Not that the American press corps are Angels. At least the British have wit on their side.

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