I have received several emails asking what has happened to my Wimbledon rants. It seems there are many Random readers who await my latest moan/rant with anticipation and I really hate to disappoint anybody so here we go.
Well, first up this is the weirdest Wimbers I have seen in years. Seeds crashing out, players crashing down, players limping, players retiring - it is all happening. Of course the likes of Sharapova (has anybody ever seen her smile on court?) are blaming the courts for all the skids and trips but please note that most of those who have complained are those that lost their matches, with the exception of Leyton Hewitt who just said it was always like this the first few days at Wimbledon and just get on with it. Good on yer mate. A down to earth Aussie. He plays like a terrier, never giving up and racing round the court like a demon. Thank goodness he is playing this year minus his back to front baseball cap which made him look like a moron. No need for it I suppose in the summer we are having. Only problem with Leyton is that he is followed around by a bunch of fanatics dressed in yellow and green who sit en block in the middle of the audience (where do they get their tickets from I wonder?) and who yell COME ON LEYTON, LETS GO, LETS GO LEYTON, and after a while it gets a tad wearing. Mark you, I daresay the locals who have the misfortune to be parked next to the Barmy Army at cricket matches feel the same way.
Anyway, back to all the slipping and sliding. Stepanek aggravated a hamstring injury, Issner aggravated a knee injury and Tsonga had tendinitis which had been causing him trouble prior to the tournament. All of them made worse by the quick twisting movements grass court play requires so perhaps they have thought of this and not turned up in the first place though missing Wimbledon is pretty much a last resort for the majority of players.
Sharapova was beaten well and truly so she moaned. Azarenka had a nasty fall so she moaned - fair enough, but most of the players seem to have been philosophical about it all. I would like to say that without these two Wimbledon will be a quieter nice place to be but not so. We are still left with quite a few whose screaming and yelping render the court a horrid place to be. The player who beat Sharapova also beat her for noise. I have never heard anything like it, they were both screaming like banshees and it was truly appalling. If that is the sort of noise they make when they are playing tennis I can only say that the mind boggles at the noise they might make when engaged in a different kind of exercise......
The usual commentary team are there and, really, I hate to say it but I am not sure I loathe any of them enough to rant. OK John Lloyd has the most boring voice with the most peculiar accent I have ever heard, but he is not too bad though I have to say there is a commentator whose name I do not know who sounds like an undertaker. I kid you not. I first heard him when he was covering the Issner/Mahud match, you know the one where the fifth set went on to something like 77-75 a couple of years ago, and I thought then this guy was a bit lugubrious. Sounded a bit like Eeyore actually. Anyway he was back this afternoon and though his commentary was cogent and to the point, the voice got to me after a while.
I like Boris (though he is getting a bit portly I notice) John Mac is great, Sue Barker and John Inverdale do a great job and though I know many people who dislike Andrew Castle, I rather like him. Sam Smith has a voice that would have you asleep in five minutes, I still after all these years cannot make out Virginia Wade's weird drawl, and Tracy Austin grates a bit (my sister cannot stand her) but on the whole they are a pretty good bunch. Oh must not forget Tim Henman who, if partnered with Sam Smith, would have the entire nation asleep in five minutes. And the other day I heard the long forgotten tones of lovely Mark Cox, a British tennis player of yonks ago who has a lovely speaking voice. Have not heard him in years so it was good to have him back.
Glad to see the back of Nadal, who everyone says is a charming chap and I daresay he is, but whose mannerisms drive me mad and his habit of yanking his shorts out of his backside is a bit offputting and he has added to his repertoire of tics I notice by now hoiking at his front as well. Add to that the flicking of his eyebrows, the touching of his nose and tucking his hair behind each ear and after a while you begin to start to twitch yourself.
Rog of course strides onto the court like a supermodel and preens. Probably does not know he is doing it but the adoration and the adulation he now expects gives him an air of arrogance that I find eminently dislikeable. His disbelief and shock that this upstart had beaten him the other night was a joy to behold. I particularly liked Sahkov's comment afterwards 'When you play Roger you play two people, you play him and then you play his ego'. Oh yes thinks I he has got you taped Roger baby. The thing is with great champions is that eventually they get beaten and they don't like it. I remember Pete Sampras angrily having a go at the crowd when he was knocked out many years ago by somebody ranked among the plebs. He didn't like it either. But hey get used to it guys. It's gonna happen sooner or later.
So we come to the inevitable first day and the exit of practically every British tennis player from the tournament. I have watched several of them play and they all have a good game. They are no worse or better than any others in the first round, but the Brits seem incapable of digging their heels in getting through it. They seem to capitulate with seeming ease or am I being unfair? Probably. Sure they hate losing but I can't help but feel they are quite happy to turn up, play for an hour, take the cheque for £14,500, grab a spot of lunch in the player's restaurant (Elena Balatcha played on an outside courts at 11 am and was out by noon) and then nip off home. There has been a bit of a fuss in the newspapers about the wild card system and how they should not be handed out to Brits only and one young British lady player got particularly incensed by it all saying they worked hard and why shouldn't they have them? Her match was shown on TV and though she gave it a good go, as soon as she went into the lead, she bottled it and out she went. So nothing new there then.
Then we come to Laura Robson. Put out the number 10 seed and everybody went potty including Virginia Wade who does tend to overreact to things (she went on a bit about Andy Murray last year and was not nice. If he wins this year I would like to hear what she has to say) and it seemed as if everyone expects her to win Wimbers this year. She has a great game but I felt when watching her that she seemed really slow at times and lacked a certain elan. I felt she needed to show a bit of ooomph. But she won, so what do I know. However, the great Martina Nav, who was on TV later that evening, said yes she was good but she needed to be a bit more 'explosive' and 'move faster'. Nice to know that Martina and I are as one on this.
And of course, no Wimbledon rant would be complete without my thoughts on Pippa bloody Middleton. There she was again on Centre Court, complete with boyfriend (I gather he is a banker. He was obviously having a day off), sitting there looking demure (that is Pippa not the boyfriend, he merely looked gormless) and trying to pretend that she was not noticing the cameras on her. If the BBC could rid itself of the habit of zooming in on her to show that she is enjoying the tennis, I would be a happy woman. The other day Mr and Mrs M were there. You cannot get away from this lot and I ask a silly question. WHY are they there? And HOW do they get their tickets and WHO invites them? Well we all know why and when I think of the thousands of die hard fans who camp out overnight in order to get onto the show courts and then look at this spoiled madam who has never done a hand's turn in her life, I get really really riled.
OK end of
After all this I have to say that there has been some wonderful matches so far and they have mostly been when you have had one of the big guys up against a young or unknown player and we have had volleys, drop shots, lobs, cross court rallies and it has been a joy to watch. The crowds on the courts have loved it and cheered and yelled and applauded and it reminded me just how beautiful a game tennis can be when it is played in this way. More please.
Watched Djokovic play tonight. He is looking frightningly fit. I know I should not say this but Nole, if you could manage to sprain your ankle or something I would be really really grateful............