As <insert commercial TV station’s name here> draws the net cord on another summer of tennis, I’ve let the 60,000 tweets coalesce into some sentences with too many adjectives to run through a few of my favourite moments of one of my favourite times of year:
1/. You say goodbye, I say hello: two Australian men reached the fourth round of the Open for the first time since 1976, when Mark Edmonson invented tennis (NB: I am inventing this. It is not true. I think.); one a ‘wretched child’ (copyright Bernard Keane) the other, Bernard Tomic. No, switcheroo. After giving many of us joy with his on court calm and the realisation that at 19, he has that something else that leaves you a little slack-jawed in awe, Tomic has reverted to being another Gold Coast dickhead taking road etiquette lessons from Shane Warne. The much-maligned (well, by me, for his entire Sorbent-endorsing career) Little Lley Lley bundled himself into the commentary bunker without so much as a, ‘jeez, my career’s almost over, what should I do?’. He’s a natural. He knows the nuances of the current crop’s game and adds value to the viewing experience. Do yourself a favour, son: announce your retirement and sew up a contract. Which brings me to …
2/. Seven’s commentary team: in the history of sport, has there ever assembled a more annoying, sexist, Captain Obvious bunch than this lot? OK, Channel 9’s cricket team has that trophy in perpetuity, and Versus’ coverage of the Tour de France, where they use on-screen markers to point out Lance Armstrong, is certainly the most brain embolism-inducing; but Seven’s whacky ability to combine cross-promos, ad breaks during games, the pointless Megawalls and crowd-o-meters, with new bullshit, such as ‘Get Jimbo to ask an open mic question’ writes itself. As Fairfax’s chief sports columnist, Richard Hinds, tweeted last night, ‘is it Marry My Kitchen or My Boy Rules?’ Enough with the South Australian princess, the endless shots of the WAGs, the fairly disgraceful promotion of gambling, Todd Woodbridge for being Todd Woodbridge, and the question on everyone’s lips (well, mine): why was Henri Leconte banished to the back courts this year? I love him. He brings the crazy, the passion, the ‘YES!’ courtside. Who cares that he’s biased toward French players? He’s French. It’s a given. My, ‘bring back Henri’ campaign starts Monday, 30 January 2012.
3/. The Twitspats: not so much a fight as my good friend, Melbourne journalist and friend of the game, Neil McMahon, retweeting obnoxious comments made by Bernard Keane. Bernard, you misanthropic old prick, if you can’t grasp the basics (i.e. Rafael Nadal is among the world’s most humble athletes, not a prick), and want to act like a giant ‘wretched child’, be my guest. Tennis is generally a game where even if you love a player who loses, you can say, ‘tennis was the winner on the day’ after a match the quality of the Nadal-Federer semi. It was, as the kids say, amazeballs, and a joy to watch.
4/. The Twitspats Mark II or ‘it’s all about me’: it began in Bris Vegas, where my tendency (ok, constant) references to yesterday’s Great British Hope and today’s Scotsman, Andy Murray, as ‘Andy Pandy Have a Fuckin’ Shandy’ drew the ire of the Andy Murray Fanclub of Buttfuck, Idaho in an exchange which went something like this:
Me: “Oh, fer fuck’s sake, Andy Pandy Have a Fuckin Shandy is on course for a title, if only because he doesn’t want to have a meltdown in front of Lendl.”
Andy Pandy Have a Fuckin’ Shandy Fan: “You’re just JEALOUS because Andy Murray is the second coming of Christ. You are PATHETIC.”
Me: ‘Have you never heard of The Thick of It? Oh wait, you’re from Buttfuck Idaho. That would be a no.” BLOCKED.
The bestest, everest, tennis twitspat of my summer was the advent of Bernard Tomic’s Twitter account. I am a Tomic fangirl, so I started following. My suspicions (and those of a fair few others) that this wasn’t Our Kid but a fake account set up by a 17 year old whose Twitter bio reads, ‘dancing in his garage’ started when he thanked said garage dancer for helping set up his account. When challenged to prove his Tomic-ness, he asked his followers to help verify the account. Um, yeh, right. Night after night of exhausting four-or five set matches, Our Kid was tweeting well into the early hours, not insights into his day, but RTs of people who asked for RTs. When asked to post a pic to settle the matter once and for all, he announced he was quitting twitter and went deep quiet faster than a South Korean submarine. The sad fact of the matter is he wasn’t a good fake. He failed to bring the funny; if done properly, say in the Fake Shane Watson league, it was the time and place to do it. I do like that he accused me of trying to make him feel worthless; a tweet that went around the true believers and earned me so much gold it was multi-platinum.
5/. The derp-domination of summer came to an end: the great twitter war of ancient Greek words for womb faded away. The King’s Tribune got a well-deserved write up in The Age, and I discovered that Juzzy and Jane have a child. Oh, there was also the great reveal of Paula Matthewson’s sekrit identity and the even greater reveal that Twitter has a ‘cool kids’ clique. I think it’s all a crock of shit, so ner, ner, ne, ner, ner, go and have a shandy the fucking lot of you. Mine’s an Old, because that’s what Newcastle Under 8s drink after a hard 7am training session on grass courts (it was the 70s) before taking it to the Merewether under 12s (and their poxy bitumen excuse for a competition court) and going down, bravely, 6-0 6-0.
6/. The derp-domination of summer did not come to an end: shrieking is not a feminist issue. The decibel-defying play of Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka drew Agnieszka Radwanska out of the locker room to say it did put her off her game. Things I do not agree with: tonight’s final being labelled the showdown of the grunters. Plenty of players, male and female, grunt on and off during matches. I put that down to sheer exertion. Sharapova and Azarenka shriek on almost every point. It’s not grunting, it’s screaming, and to me, pure gamesmanship. What I loathe is the idea that the on-court shrieking gives open slather to denigrate these athletes with the cheap Neanderthal crap of, ‘jeez, how would they go in bed?!?’ (yes, professional sports commentator for ABC Grandstand, Glenn Mitchell, I’m looking at you, you tool of monumental proportion). As we’ve seen throughout the Australian Open, gamesmanship exists in some really shiteous ways: Rafael Nadal’s 800 ball bounces before serve; Novak Djokovic wandering around court in second sets like he’s been shot and about to throw in the towel; players looking to their boxes for confirmation that they should take a challenge – but the shrieking takes the cake. Sadly, it detracts from the fact that they are in the final because they’ve played better tennis.
7/. Controversy Corner with Margaret Court: The Guardian reported that British teenager, Laura Robson, ‘walked unwittingly into a political row’ by wearing a rainbow hairband as part of the protest against Court’s abhorrent homophobia. I shit you not, this made The Guardian. Margaret Court’s hate-filled fundie fucktardedness is mind-boggling in its intensity, but she got a platform at this time of year because she is the greatest female tennis player Australia has produced and has a fourth court named after her. The Rainbow Protest to get the arena named after her changed fizzled, so we were left with a progressive newspaper arguing that a teenaged British player with a multi-coloured hairband was leading the anti-homophobic charge. In a sport where, arguably, homosexual women have said, ‘bring it on, we’re gay’, for a lot longer than any other pursuit, sporting or otherwise, I find it difficult to say that her king-size ker-azy deserves stripping changing the name of the arena. Court has been denounced for her reprehensible statements by former players and almost everyone with a brain. She’s a patently bat-shit crazy woman who invented her own church. Still, her record as a player is mind-boggling and unlikely to be repeated: she won more than half of the Grand Slam singles tournaments she played (24 of 47) She won 192 singles titles before and after the Open Era - an all time record. Her career singles win-loss record was 1,177-106, for a winning percentage of 91.74 percent on all surfaces (hard, clay, grass, carpet); also an all time record. She won at least 100 singles matches in 1965 (113-8), 1968 (107-12), 1970 (113-6), and 1973 (100-5). She won more than 80 percent of her singles matches against top 10 players (297-73) and was the year-end top ranked player seven times. (Source: Wikifuckingpedia). She is, statistically, the Don Bradman of women’s tennis. If we’re going to honour an Australian woman, may I suggest the Evonne Goolagong Arena; Goolagong’s achievements are right up there with the best (14 Slams in the Open era); may I also suggest a name change would give Court and her ilk a greater platform for their nutbag platforms, and a generation of people who laud her tennis achievements a reason to hate teh gays. I’ve never seen Margaret Court given the same respect the men hold for Rod Laver– a lesson for all of us? The locker room has spoken. Let the record stand, but shun the descent of a great into raving crank.
8/. #tweetlikeToddWoodbridge #tweetlikeaChannel7commentator #AustralianOpenfashiontweets … if it wasn’t a free three-minute ad for Nike in the guise of an exclusive behind-the-scenes interview with Serena Williams, we’ve been treated day-in, day-out, to the unnecessary commentary on what female players are wearing on court, down to the colour of the strapping on their lithe legs. Love the shoes, love the skirt, love the bag, love it all. Belongs in the front row of a Milan catwalk, not courtside or commentary box in a Grand Slam. The perfect comeback? …
9/. The Calippo Curse: it started with Fernando Verdasco. Retina-scorching clothing the colour of an 80s iceblock. Having never eaten a Calippo, I struggled for the name, and then it came to me, courtesy of a pointer from my mate, @iamtheoracle to the amusing twitter stream of a Collingwood player. As players fell – Tsonga, Dolgopolov, all of them decked out in #Calippo, it seemed appropriate to take on my nemesis, Todd Woodbridge, and play a few games of piss-taking fashion tweetage between score checks. #Calippo caught on between a few tweeps. I’ll get Woodbridge in the end.
10/. Finally, quiet please. It’s the most basic of rules: if you are in the crowd, you do not call out between serves. End of; no correspondence shall be entered into. For all of the gamesmanship, this is a game of etiquette and deserves to be treated as such. Tomas Berdych learnt a very harsh lesson when he refused to shake hands with Nicolas Almagro after defeating the Spaniard in the fourth round. He broke the code. In other matches, I’ve seen the victor not only pay lip service to the vanquished, but applaud the gladiator. I love that today’s top players are in touch with the history of the game; that Rafael Nadal treats a practice court visit from Rod Laver as a privilege, the iPhone cameras out to record the moment; these amazing young men childlike in his company; the great Roger Federer in tears on accepting the 2006 trophy from his hands. Does this happen at any other Grand Slam? I don’t know; but it melted me when I heard, ‘Mr Laver’ from Novak Djokovic after his win last night. It sums up why I love this sport. So, quiet please; acknowledge the mastery, the guile, the on-court IQ and the physical and mental will that prevails in the end. Thank you, Vika and Maria, Nole and Rafa for giving it everything. Let the finals of the 2012 Australian Open commence. My tips? Azarenka and Djokovic.