Monday, 21 March 2011

Indian Wells: “The Anti-Commentariat”


She’s consistent in a way Marion is not. And, more tellingly in the last set, she’s fit in a way Marion is not. As far as I’m concerned, that makes her the better player.

I think I might have already said this, but Caro’s retrieving skills are her “Killer App”. You don’t have to like that, but you sell yourself very short indeed when you pretend she has no business being at the top of the game because of it. Razzle-dazzle winners are a means, not an end. Her “means” are very different: deal with it.

I think I might have said this already too, but Caro will almost certainly win a Slam. Damn Straight. With Kim, perhaps, only around for a year and a half more (if that), playing a Willams-patented restricted schedule until then, and now nursing a shoulder injury, its all but inevitable.

Personally, I have no problem with that.

Can we agree I have given her her due?

Good, because it appears it’s physically impossible for the mainstream to extend the same treatment to her opponents – most notably those that don’t fit the “bombshell” agenda that has nothing whatsoever to do with tennis.

I don’t like personal attacks on anyone. And the Marion hate has been out of control for YEARS. Whilst I consider it equally retarded, it’s worth remembering that the hate Caro has had to endure is still only a fraction of that of Marion’s and most of that is restricted to her style of play – not her weight, her fitness or looks, as is the case with Marion.

Marion’s an aloof, idiosyncratic, ferocious talent with attitude she’s not about to apologise to anyone for. I must have missed the part where this makes her Cruella de’Vil or, indeed, where its not her right to behave exactly as she sees fit.

Whilst she hasn’t always made life easier for herself (particularly in her dealings with her compatriots) and whilst that might preclude her from ever being your cup of tea, some of the barbed invective hurled her way has no place in civil discourse (try and imagine Caro receiving the same treatment after a bust up with Karen Barbat or Malou Ejdesgaard, assuming either of them are ever ranked high enough to be seriously considered a “compatriot”).

And I know not everyone will agree with this, but some of this “anti-commentary” has sometimes (subconsciously or otherwise) spilled over to the mainstream.

When Marion was routed 6-1 in the first set, the commies began speaking longingly (almost wistfully) of their wish for a Caro/Kim final. Whatever other thoughts you might have on that sentiment, it’s highly disrespectful to any competitor there on their merits. If you were troubled about the quality thus far, far better to say you wished for A FINAL, whoever the competitors. Would we have heard the same if it was Pova, Dani or any other “bombshell” playing Caro? I rather doubt it.

As it happens, Marion played a dud of a 1st set. But you wouldn’t know this if the mainstream commentary was your only take on the match. For them it was supposedly “all about about Caro” which Marion “had no answer to”. There’s no doubt Caro played an impeccable first set. Truly flawless. I’d expect nothing less from the world #1. It’s also true she was contending with Marion’s ‘D’ game for almost all of it: 90% of Marion’s returns being sent unconvincingly down the middle, right into Caro’s hitting zone. Unsurprisingly, Caro lapped it all up.

When the tables turned in set two, the “anti-commentary” painted a picture of Caro having “lost intensity”, rather than conceding (even in part) the very different tactics Marion brought to bear. 2-6.


Set three really was “all about Caro” – Marion, put up a brave fight, but was simply done physically. A familiar problem; one wonders how much she can do to mitigate against it. 6-3.

And for that in particular, I grant that Caro was the better player out there (indeed the best player of the week): consistency together with that level of fitness (and mobility) seems to me to be a perfect fit against a tour whose majority is comprised of players finding it difficult to stay in a long rally, let alone possessing the fitness commensurate with playing so many of them over three sets.

I’m not going to pretend Marion isn’t one of my favourite WTA players , and I know better than to foist her on you as Caro is thrust upon us. It’s also true that Caro is not my favourite player but I also know better than to attack her personally for that.

The “Anti-Commentariat” is unable to extend the same levels of courtesy to players they don’t like (and mostly for reasons that have very little to do with tennis).

Even as I write this, there’s not a single picture of Marion in Yahoo’s tennis photostream: that would be your ladies runner-up of Indian Wells – an event some call the “fifth-Slam”.


Still think some players aren’t unfairly promoted/demoted above and below others?

(Pics: Getty)

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