Monday, January 26, 2009

Dokic Dokic Dokic, oi oi oi.

Not much of a tennis fan, me. I like to play the occasional game, and I don't mind watching a 5 set classic between, say, the Fed and Raffa. But I have to admit that Jelena Dokic's next game is in my diary.

There's not much I can say here that hasn't been said by people who are more astute students of the game than I. But speaking personally, I didn't much like the girl the first time around. I wouldn't have booed her on Centre Court, but there was something about her that made me queasy. Her father, mostly, who is, by any estimation, a first class, bona fide, dyed in the wool dill-whacker. She hit 3,000 balls a day on the practice courts for him. She made unpopular comments in press conferences for him. Then she left Australia and changed her national allegiance for him. And now he wants to come back and play happy families. Someone tell the the customs guys - he should be stopped at the border to preserve the collective Australian IQ.

But all of that personal crap forms the backdrop to what is an astonishing and well-documented story. Getting to the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam after several years out of competitive tennis is amazing enough. But to do it in front of a crowd that booed you the last time you played in front of them, and to turn them around until they cheer for you, and then to use that support to go so far is gob-smacking. I truly hope she can keep going, and if Damir does turn up at her hotel room, I hope the Brothers smack him in the chops and tell him that Jelena doesn't live here any more.


shannonr said...

Is there another sport: where only two people (or four, at a pinch) can play; where the "game" involves mostly standing around (time it! bouncing, retrieving, and throwing the ball takes much more time than the hitting and running part); that takes up a huge amount of real-estate; that potentially goes on for infinite time; that uses green balls (which contrast so well with green grass); and that is more interesting at an amateur level (rallies and running) than it is at professional level (ace. serve, return, winner. ace.)?

Not to mention that the object of the game is negative.

In baseball or cricket or basketball or football the aim is to put the ball where it can be played, or to promote it into a small, hard to hit target area.

In tennis, of course, the ball is hit away from the other player, and it doesn't matter where it goes, as long as it's within the massive rectangle.

Tennis. Worst. Sport. Ever.

I'd watch dressage in preference to tennis, and we all know how exciting horses walking slowly is. Heck, I'd rather clean the bathroom than watch the Wimbledon final at Wimbledon, even if there were strawberries and cream involved!

james roy said...

And I'm the grumpy old bastard... Sheesh!

As I say, it takes a particular set of circumstances to make me watch tennis, and those planets don't align very often. For example, at this very moment Nadal is kicking thirteen shades of arse out of Gonzales. They're both very good players, and the standard of tennis is very high. But I can't watch. I find it just too dull.

And as for Djokovic - I saw him bounce the ball between twelve and fifteen times before each serve. Each and EVERY serve. Someone needs to remind him that without interested TV spectators, he doesn't get paid. It's as you and I discussed during our day at the cricket - professional sport that doesn't interest the viewing public can't remain professional for very long. 50 runs in a session of test cricket will keep bums off seats, mostly in the members' bar.

But a couple of your points do need addressing. The balls aren't in fact green, unless you consider lemons, daffodils, dandelions and other really bright yellow things to be green. And at most tennis venues that aren't on grass (ie all but Queens and Wimbledon) the serve-volley game is pretty much dead. Most rallies go a lot longer than that now.

But in an attempt to make it more interesting to the viewer, the tennis bodies are talking about using bigger balls (maybe not as big as those novelty tennis balls you get autographs on, but still larger) with a bit more fluff on them, to slow the game down a bit. Whether or not they do it is yet to be seen.

But it is interesting, that some sports, the more professional they become, the less interesting they are to watch. I know you've spoken about basketball in this regard. I'd put baseball in that category as well.

Having said all that, I stand by my original post - watching Dokic has been fun.

james roy said...

Seriously? Dressage over tennis? Wow, you must REALLY hate tennis.

Worst sports ever. Hmm. Nascar? Drag racing? Horse racing? Greyhound racing? Are any of those actually sports, though?

How about drag-cars being pulled around a Nascar track by horses that are being chased by hungry greyhounds?

BTW, I think target-shooting is pretty dull to watch as well.

shannonr said...

I agree with target shooting to a point.

But then I went and watched a match at the Olympics when it was here in Beijing ---- and it was utterly riveting.

The points see-sawed up and down, the winner was determined only on the last shot of the day, and the big-screen coverage ensured that you saw all the emotion on the shooters' faces, as well as the minute fractions of a centimetre that separated good shots from bad.


And tennis balls yellow?! Get your eyes checked! I have noticed the purple-painted concrete in the coverage recently -- but that's not really tennis, is it? Like saying NASCAR is "car racing" really...

james roy said...

Plexicusion is the surface of choice for the Australian Open, not concrete, and the ITF only allows white or yellow balls to be used in professional tennis matches. Anyway, I think it looks yellow, so ner.

Besides, you don't think tennis players show emotion? And that the success of their shots are determined by minute fractions of a centimetre?

You're trying to upset me now, aren't you?

BTW, I think I began the post by pointing out how I found tennis pretty dull, so I think we're in basic, general agreement. Esp when it comes to Nascar and dressage.

shannonr said...

>>Plexicusion is the surface of choice...

And this negates my point that tennis is an elitist waste of exactly?!


With the exception of basketball (where you've gotta hang at least one hoop from something) all the sports I used as examples can be played in any open space, by anyone, with minimal equipment.

But $500 rackets, plexi-whatsit, and special shoes (because you can't play in bare feet on plexi-thingy), all spells "worst sport ever" to me.

It ain't just because it's boring as watching paint dry. There's *lots* of human activities that are boring! It's all the other ugly stuff, as well.