GIVING NEW MEANING TO THE PHRASE ‘BIG FOUR’: Forget Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray. For Inside Tennis “The Big Four” at this year’s Wimbledon relates to the four TV screens we have in front of our desks in the media room and the magical moment when one screen featured Nadal, another showed Venus, Trump and Putin were on another, and the Simpsons were on the fourth.
JUST WONDERING: Will Murray’s gritty turnaround of his match against Fabio Fognini somehow energize him and help him win a third Wimbledon? And could Brits Murray and Jo Konta actually both win Wimbledon? And if they do, where would that rank in the annals of UK sports?…Are Bernie Tomic and Nick Kyrgios the most problematic and dysfunctional duo from a single country since Mac and Jimbo?
WHAT WOULD BE COOLEST? Venus, a 37 year old legend wins. Ostapenko, a 20-year old phenom, wins back-to-back Slams. Azarenka, a new mom, is triumphant. Konta, a popular Brit, thrills her fans. Coco, a powerful American, makes ’em wish they all were California girls. Simona Halep avenges her French Open final loss. Angie Kerber wins her third Slam in her last seven efforts.
THE BBC ALWAYS HAS OUR BACK: The network provided this thoughtful health warning: “You don’t want to get in the way of any of [Jelena] Ostapenko’s death glares. She’s got a few.”
LAWFUL VENUS: Police reports indicate that just prior to Venus Williams’ accident, she entered the intersection lawfully. The investigation is ongoing.
FAREWELL TO THE THIN LADY WE LOVED SO MUCH: Slovokian Daniela Hantuchova never won a Slam. She was never No. 1 and was hardly a household name. But she was always a delight. And now the 34-year-old has officially announced her retirement, after 18 years of shotmaking.
Tall, thin, beautiful, a touch exotic and so nice – it was hardly surprising that she was long a popular figure. More surprising was that two of her seven tournament wins on the circuit were at Indian Wells. (Then again, Venus and Serena weren’t there.) From the outset, pundits tended to underestimate her. In 2002, The San Diego Union-Tribune thought her foe, Martina Hingis, was a shoo-in to win the Indian Wells final. They contended, “The 21-year-old Swiss woman is far too wise and experienced to be extended by an 18-year-old from Slovakia playing in her first WTA final.” So much for pundits.
Just one of five players to win the career mixed doubles Grand Slam, her doubles résumé was, shall we say, fat. But people always talked about how thin she was. One wise guy said the one thing she should do to improve her game was to “eat dessert.” But her weight was a serious issue and she confided that her thinness, which bordered on anorexia, was caused by the divorce of her parents. Once ranked as high as No. 5, her appeal was probably even higher.
YOU CAN’T BE SERIOUS: Never mind that Federer has won three of the four biggest tournaments of the year and has beaten Nadal in all three of those finals. The BBC’s Sue Barker claimed Nadal was “the player on tour so far.” The French Open champ has been phenomenal. but….
Slippery When Dry
Women Players Are Mentally Stronger
Game, Set and Match Flying Ants
Invasion of the Flying Ants
Ants in Your Pants?
Is Troubled Djokovic the Tiger Woods of Tennis?
Djokovic Brushes Aside McEnroe Jibe
Heat? Fatigue? Injury? No, Boredom
Henman: We’ll Stop Quitters at Wimbledon
War on Quitters
Dread Hot Brits
It’s Bake Point to Johanna
Konta Shows Her Steel
Konta Slugs It Out in Epic Gladiatorial Victory
Federer Gets His Wobbles Out of the Way
Andy Has That Champion Look
High-Water Mark for Tennis in GB
Selfish Fan Refuses to Throw in the Towel
Towel Tussle Boy Found After Appeal
“It’s getting really strange out there. Fognini should make a Fellini movie” – movie savant John McEnroe
“Once you get an Italian talking, they can hardly stop.” – Boris Becker
“The hands, the feel, the touch – Fognini has everything. He’s phenomenal.” – John McEnroe
“There’s the first instance of an insect bugging Konta out on Court 1.” – The BBC
“Ball boys and ball girls are subject to strict discipline and aren’t permitted to speak during training or while on court.” – the Gentleman’s Journal
“It’s a long time since Virginia Wade.” – the BBC, referring to the fact that no British woman has won Wimbledon since Wade in 1977
“The referee was French. Italians and French are alway fighting.” – Fabio Fognini on why the umpire twice penalized him
BORED ON THE FOURTH OF JULY – A TOMIC READER: The comments and attitude of Bernie Tomic drew many a remark. Here is what the Aussie actually said, and how others reacted.
“I felt a little bit bored out there, to be completely honest.”
“So I feel holding a trophy or doing well, it doesn’t satisfy me anymore. It’s not there.”
“I couldn’t care less if I make a fourth-round US Open or lose first round.”
“I’m going to play another 10 years, and I know after my career I won’t have to work again.”
What others said –
“It’s disrespectful to the sport…to the history of the sport…if you can’t get motivated at Wimbledon, it’s time to find another job. Most of all, the spectators… some of these people probably work in a factory. They pay good money to…watch Wimbledon and the guy shows up and doesn’t really try and can’t even be bothered.
“Just stay home.”
“He needs to go and work in a factory and do some labor and see what it’s like to really work out there…He’s too rich, too early.”
“To say the things that he said…. is a disgrace not only to tennis, but to Australian tennis.
“If you’re bored and you are not physically there because you don’t train – let’s be honest, you’re not fit enough, you don’t feel like going five sets – don’t play. You’re an embarrassment to yourself.”
“He must think now, what a wasted Wimbledon. He’s 24 but he’s been on he tour for eight years. Time is running out. Younger players are coming and they [will] eventually take over…He has a point of view about his life that’s worrying. I don’t know his close people but he needs maybe a psychologist, he needs maybe a close buddy telling him the truth.”
“You are being honest, which is a good thing. But if you are taking injury timeouts to break your opponent’s rhythm, something has to be done. That’s breaking the rules.”
WHEN IN DOUBT BLAME IT ON THE POSTMAN: Boris Becker reported that he was invited to Fabio Fognini’s wedding to Flavia Pennetta. The German said their Italian wedding “was something out of the Godfather. I thought Marlon Brando would appear.” John McEnroe said his invitation “got lost in the mail.”
GO FIGURE: When Venus Williams, 37, played her first Wimbledon, her foe today, Naomi Osaka, wasn’t even born.
THE MANY SIDES OF SERENA: When asked by IT to comment on Annie Liebovitz’s beautiful and provocative photos of Serena for Vanity Fair, Venus said, “She has so many sides, so she definitely captured parts of her. Obviously there are so many sides of Serena, that people don’t get to see this one as much.”
MAKES SENSE: John McEnroe suggested that the court-side note Andy Murray consulted said, “Don’t miss.”