What might we rightly infer based on all of the 4 days we’ve had of 2012?
1) Ana’s still struggling. [Please don’t change your coach]
2) Bartoli’s still not shy of almost double bagelling those that are still struggling (no sadz Jarmila, it’s a Marion thing – she did the exactly the same to Safina this time last year). Still, nice reaction.
3) Kim’s still taking three to do what should rightly be done in two.
Rust, yes? She’s played next to nothing since early last year. Except I’m not completely convinced she wouldn’t have found a way of playing three sets anyway.
4) Gael Monfils is still inventing new ways of incorporating muscle (he didn't even know he had) into set-motions it had NO BUSINESS being part of.
5) Sam Stosur is still losing matches she has NO BUSINESS losing. [Can’t see her or Li repeating last year. Happy to be proved wrong]
6) Serena Williams is still getting headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Well that didn’t take long, did it?
For the record, I dislike it intensely when people give her a free pass for indefensible conduct and, even worse, try and depict even the mildest criticism of that indefensible conduct as a uniquely conspiratorial witch hunt.
I’ll continue to dislike it in 2012, because, being honest, I don’t expect it to go away.
I also don’t expect to see the back of its flipside: that (very mainstream) injury cynicism some are ideologically hell-bent on (we’re calling it “karma” now?) – cynicism that persists even in the face of video evidence (2:27), and even when a subsequent MRI scan confirms the injury:
The ‘Free-Passers’ inspire revulsion, which in turn bolsters the repellent views of the Injury Cynics and vice versa. It’s very obvious the two polarised trends are designed to feed off one another in a deadly embrace from which there can be no escape – my guess is they don’t want to escape.
Sometimes bad conduct is simply bad conduct, which Serena, like many, many before (and I daresay after) her, is neither immune to nor irreproachable for. Sometimes, dearest trolls, it’s not a conspiracy.
And sometimes, dearest hobgoblins, an injury is just an injury – nothing more, nothing less. Not an occasion to use as a cathartic vehicle to air distaste, vendettas, your very personal dislike (or another word some venture that you’d hope shouldn’t be part of this discussion) of Serena, the way some air their soiled undies.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, then, that this, too, hasn’t changed in 2012. Trolls are still trolls whatever the Gregorian Calendar might have to say about it.
Only Rafa’s unveiling of his new top-heavy frame, and of course Murray’s announcement of what he hopes will be a game-changing (and perhaps shape-shifting) partnership with Ivan Lendl (Murr-dl?) buck this trend of same-iness, but of course neither count as both were announced in 2011.
Either the tennis season’s pulling one hell of a fast one and intends to unleash a seismic gamechanger later this year (which, being honest, would have to be at least as seismic as Novak or even Petra’s year to count), or the season really will prove to be that trite and that unconvincing…