“By Gad, sir, you are a character. There's never any telling what you'll say or do next, except that it's bound to be something astonishing.”
-- Kasper Gutman, The Maltese Falcon
It was billed as the “starter” match no one would be interested in. But it ended up upstaging “main features” Nole/Gasquet and JJ/Fran.
Ladies and Gents, I give you AbFab.
Nothing I can say will do credit to this utterly outrageous force of nature.
He is quite simply, the playa’s (as opposed to the player’s) playa, someone that causes impropriety itself to look on with a mixture of befuddlement and awe.
At 7-6 down, and with Montanes only two points away from victory, he reared up (apparently in pain) and simply stood there, forcing the umpire Louise Engzell to come down from the chair. After a brief chat, she appeared to indicate that he should call the trainer. Which of course he did, and that was that.
What followed was something between a burlesque panto and car crash TV.
AbFab’s tweaked muscle fibre prevented him from propelling upwards on serve, which would result in him foot faulting more times than his opponent hit aces – I personally counted 8. Did he take a step or two back behind the baseline before serving to correct for this ? What do you think?
Between the foot-fault idiocy, Montanes’s utterly corrupt decision to go all “Berrer” on us, and AbFab’s ridonkulous thwacked winners he produced (sometimes on match point down) to go on and actually win this thing – all in a state of near-total immobilisation – I’m not sure there was much actual tennis left.
The rules are simple: A muscle cramp does not constitute an injury, but you can call on the trainer for a pulled muscle.
Perhaps all the ragging on AbFab and Louise Engzell was, therefore, misplaced, as not even he (let alone Engzell) can know which of the two (if any) is the cause of the pain; all the same, it does represent a grey area in the rules. And grey areas are open both to umpire misjudgement and exploitation.
Whatever. Third year running RG has come good in putting on an outrageously spectacular offering of one form or another. In this case of the comical rather than the seismic variety.
As an event it simply stands alone, just like AbFab does as a drama queen. No one even comes close. Not even JJ.
And if he ends Nole’s streak, it will be the single most spectacular act of cultural vandalism in the history of sport.
I can’t wait.