Sunday, 26 June 2011

Wimbledon: His name is ‘Bernard’ and other week one curiosities.


Ok look, I can’t promise I’m gonna stop poking fun (not in the short term), but we can’t go on pretending he’s not a serious talent.

And what’s more is, he’s probably the future of Aussie Tennis. If, as an Aussie, such a prospect fills you with mortal fear, you should probably consider switching nationalities, as it may happen sooner than you or I think.

All that stuff about him being an irritant? Probably still true, but there’s still time to “man up”, and here’s a sobering truth: Tennis Australia needs Bernard Tomic, not vice versa.

I’m not saying he’s the “next big thing”. Would never hit you with something as tawdry as that. And of course there’s room for improvement:  I’ve heard criticisms about the movement – Pat Cash went as far as to say he plays “like a junior….like Andy Murray” (one in the same I presume). Tignor has him going “even further into the funky” than, say, someone like Dolgopolov.

But none of this detracts from the eclectic blend of junk and easy flamboyance that seems to serve him so well. Nor from his ability to keep cool under pressure. Nor does the fact that a stomach bug Sod contracted was causing him to break out in a cold sweat, double over in between points (sometimes even having to sit down) and have a well-documented (too well documented) episode of liquid poo – almost certainly causing  him to squander the first set and a half.

Just like Robson against Pova a day earlier, a lesser player wouldn’t have worked their opponent’s “flatulence” so well.

I can’t help feeling a public endorsement from the likes of Hewitt and Rafter would benefit his tattered image (particularly amongst fans). It seems steps have already been taken with both showing up at his matches, and Rafter even being said to provide tactical input.

The efforts to legitimise Bernard begin here. And I’m gonna start by calling him ‘Bernard’. How’d a hobgoblin end up with a name as wholesome as that anyway?

-- Loving what I’ve seen from both the Williamses. Serena seems to be improving every match (that she’s able to win anything at all, is itself remarkable), and Venus seems to have that electricity about her that usually spells trouble for the rest of the draw.

Still, it’s early days and, Kimiko and Aravane aside, they haven’t really been tested. Can still see both of them running into trouble if things get tight. And I’m still leaning to Venus over her sister.

-- Andy Roddick’s best days are behind him. His last best crack at winning here (and surely any Slam) came and went in 2009 under a flurry of 50 aces and only 4 double faults.

We all know this. But for some reason, we’ve begun pretending that Feli making 57 winners and only 7 UFEs wouldn’t have had exactly the same result against any number of top ten players – perhaps only excluding the top three.

That’s no reason to act like he should quit or, in even poorer taste , to goad him into doing so (as one reporter seemed intent on) – perhaps I expect too much.

That said, if the fire’s gone, it ain’t gonna spontaneously re-combust. Let him decide – and give him room to do so.

Aside:  I will never say ‘Deliciano’. Not ever.  In any case, I much prefer Rafter’s invention, ‘Felix’.

-- No one’s talking about Shuai Peng. That’s probably a good thing. Her R16 match against Pova will answer a lot of questions about both women.

-- In contrast, everyone’s talking about Delpo – mostly in terms of how he WILL go down to Rafa. That seems the likeliest outcome – but I still insist that an upset isn’t anywhere near the “long shot” being suggested. Not by a long shot.

-- Didn’t follow the Gimelstob/Feli bust up very much. It’s the kind of episode that holds very little interest for me and tends to bring out the worst in even the most respected commentators.

The man is very obviously a twat – which probably accounts for his position on the ATP Board of Directors.

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