Monday, 10 January 2011





Let’s get the shirt out the way first coz I think that’s the “easy” part.





Funky, fluoro, eye-scarring fugliness I can deal with (remember this?). Early-80s scribbly, graffiti insignias (normally found on the side of subway trains) do at least have a certain fulsome, nostalgic fuzziness to recommend them.





Both at once? Didn’t think so either…not unless you’re auditioning for a part as an extra in a very poor remake of Electric Boogaloo (it was laughably rubbish the first time round).


Del Potro d. Lopez 67 76 76


The tennis was visceral, austere, overwrought, laugh-out-loud funny, severe-looking, perfectly nonsensical but also tantalisingly brilliant (at times).


It also went on for 3 hours and 20 mins.


The big take out must be that Delpo survived the encounter, as it seems, healthily and with his wrist (and his retinas) intact….had he lost it would have been no different.




It was a tactically-confounded performance that suggested the rustiness we all expected, but was also tinged with the traces of brilliance that once was.


I still don’t think he’ll be responsible for the mass culling of top seeds in the early rounds of the AO that some are geeing themselves up for.


Feli is not a top ten player – I’m not so sure he even qualifies as “2nd-tier” anymore. A top-tenner wouldn’t have given Delpo half as much room to breath, much less do his gangly-brawny thing. Ditto a less-talented stalwart like Daveed Ferrer.


All of which works out in Delpos favour of course – this is exactly the kind of testing, match-play he needs to fill up on ahead of Melbourne.




The other comeback isn’t going so well.




Bartoli d. Safina 60 61


After a perfectly commendable three set loss to Wickmayer in Auckland last week, Dinaroshka must have hoped to go at least one better – failing that a single competitive match would have been good.


She cannot have foreseen the two set lockout that Bartoli would impose upon her – evidently no one else did either.


Safina didn’t, by all accounts, play a “bad” match – that would only have been possible had she been allowed to play at all.


Here’s the thing: Marion does that that to people. And she often does it to the best of players.


But it’s when she does it to the best-loved players that the worst form of medieval contempt comes out.




I don’t get it.


From what I can tell she’s a ferociously talented, deliciously idiosyncratic player with oodles of attitude she’s not about to apologise to anyone for.


When she’s on, her strangely effective two-handed strokes are capable of smothering you with eye-wateringly acute-angled passes or simple, flat, uncompromising pace. All while remaining perma-rooted on the baseline.


She’s not a fashionista, she has an academic eccentric for a father, she’s not in the business of cloying, simpering lie-ins with the media, she can appear more aloof, stern and unfriendly on court than is perhaps necessary, and YES, she rubs (some) people up (though mostly her own compatriots) the wrong way.




We’ve turned a blind eye to far worse, far more heinous, garlic-infused episodes of brattiness from so-called rising stars or media-luverlies, who all seem to get a free pass on account of their age, their standing in the game, or poster-girl looks.


Don’t pretend we haven’t been there.

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