The tennis is just boring without bad guys
It was strangely refreshing to hear about Brazilian Marcos Daniel apparently getting into a squabble with a female spectator after his first round loss.
Not because getting in fights with fans is particularly advisable or admirable, but it did at least give us a tennis player we could look at say “that Marcos is one bad cat”. As an average player Marcos Daniel may have done his career a favour as he is now one of the few bad guys on the circuit.
Grand Slam tennis is currently suffering under the burden of there being too many nice guys and gals on the circuit - or at the least players who have perfected the art of looking like nice guys and gals.
One of the most reoccurring and boring statements from journalists when walking out of interviews around the Australian Open is: “that [insert generic nice guy/gal here] sure is a nice”. Of course they’re probably right but that doesn’t make the tennis more interesting.
As a sport of individuals that Australia has had pretty limited success in over recent years, outside of national loyalty choosing who to barrack for in tennis comes down to a preference for successful, nice and good looking types. See Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova, Rafael Nadal, Anna Ivanovic and ultimate nice mum Kim Clijsters.
It’s perfectly understandable to like the most successful, charming and good looking players but they’re beginning to blur into one well behaved, charity donating ball of Russo-Spanish-Swisss-American-Belg-Serb flesh.
Where’s the verbal abuse and physical intimidation that came from the likes of John McEnroe or “Bucharest Bufoon” Ilie Nastase who once stated “as long as I get angry I play well” (he also is believed to have slept with between 800-2900 women).
These guys brought something to the game that is distinctly lacking in nice and boring modern era.
The solution to this is for the Grand Slams to take a leaf out of professional wrestling’s book and give us more baddies. There needs to be a clearer demarcation between those we do like and those we don’t, it makes better theatre because, after all, good sport is good theatre.
There is, however, one bad guy who it’s great to see still on the circuit and thankfully won his first round match: Nikolay Davydenko.
Davydenko is great bad guy (he’s probably quite a good bloke, but that’s beside the point). For starters he’s Russian and it’s always good to have a Russian baddie. Nicknamed “the Iron Man” Nikolay’s small and wiry stature and freaky eyes mean he also looks he will shortly be starring in Die Hard 5 (I accept the bad guys in Die Hard are mostly German, but Russian trumps German in evil genius hierarchy).
Secondly he was caught up in a match fixing scandal a couple of years back after he withdrew from a match in the third set with an injury. Curiously there was 10 times the usual amount placed on the match, and even more curiously several people in Russia made around $7 million from the match after placing bets after Davydenko won the first set 6-2. Davydenko was cleared after an investigation by the ATP but it’s the kind of stink that will stick, especially in the squeaky clean confines of the ATP.
Thirdly his playing style is inexplicably successful despite it being as bleak as a Soviet military parade. It’s almost like he’s taken the other guy’s dog hostage and is threatening to return it in a paper bag if he dares to beat him.
Davydenko has been number three in the world and is currently sixth. He beat Roger Federer to get to the ATP World Tour Final last year, which he won, and also polished-off Rafael Nadal in the Shanghai event.
But the Iron Man also adheres to the golden rule of bad guy wrestler etiquette: as the bad guy you can be really good, but you can’t be the champion, and in the highly unlikely event you become the champion it will not be for very long.
Right now there are few other players who could be bad guys, but some have potential.
Following another outburst at match referees yesterday American Andy Roddick shows promise for a career ending in bad guy status.
If he’s smart Roddick will embrace it as it’s likely to only add to the twilight of his career. The American brat is unlikely to win another grand slam so he should reveal in being a bad guy. Change your name Andy: the American Nightmare of some such thing.
Serbian Jelena Jankovic should just give up trying to compete with her sickly sweet compatriot Ana Ivanovic and just say she hates us all. Jankovic is the better player but because Ivanovic is hot and “love Australia very much” we won’t stop screaming for her.
Fine, screw them. Embrace the dark side Jelena, they’re never going to love you, become the Spawn to her Spiderman.
We need the baddies in tennis as much as we need the good guys because without them we’re stuck with a contest between well-mannered and good looking athletes – who needs that?
Here’s the Ultimate Warrior showing us how a post-match interview should be done:
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