© Ella Ling

Novak Djokovic rips shirt

Oddballs and Oddities


A smattering of the strange and unusual from the tennis world this week

Davis Cup threads
What the various national teams turn up in when on Davis Cup duty has always been a source of amusement. The Austrians and Swiss invariably end up looking like ski instructors, the Americans like poster boys, the Spanish and Italians like Mafiosi. But Jim Courier, the USA captain, has taken a rather different tactic this year, rocking the captain’s bench in a suit. Controversial.

Can you do the Djokovic?
Anyone who was fortunate enough to be in the stands when Novak Djokovic half-ripped and then discarded his shirt after defeating Rafael Nadal in their 5 hours and 53 minute epic will remember that the effort practically had the Serb’s eyes popping. It was rather scary, actually. So, in a do try this at home, viewers have been invited to have a go at doing it themselves…

Logistical challenges
There is always a sense of the extraordinary to the logistical feat that is putting on a Davis Cup tie. Getting the teams, supporters, press, to and from some of the tour’s more far-flung destinations is a task you would not volunteer for, certainly. Especially when yours truly is involved (visa interrogation, missed flights, missing baggage, disappearing hotel reservations, it’s all happened). So you can imagine the poor organisers dismay when the pilots of Iberian Airways chose to announce that they would be striking on Monday 13 February, the day after the tie between Spain and Kazakhstan, when everyone would be making their respective journeys home or onwards. I mean seriously, travel gods. Not helpful.

Spain v France, round 2
Note to all. Don’t mess with Rafa. Canal + have, in their non-sensibility, taken a poke at the Spanish superstar and all Spanish athletes with a ridiculous skit that essentially accuses them of doping. And all this after Yannick Noah’s similar comments last year, which caused Nadal to say that the Frenchman should be banned from talking. The Spanish Federation are fighting back, filing a lawsuit for improper use of their logo, federation president Jose Luis Escanuela saying “this time they have gone way too far. We at the tennis federation cannot tolerate the slander and damage to the prestige of our athletes.” Keep tabs on this one, as there’s sure to be more.

Losing the wheels…
Fantastic spot from our friends at Beyond the Baseline that Bernard Tomic is selling his infamous orange monster of a sports car. Two police arrests in two months probably made him realise that it wasn’t the most conspicuous colour. Any bets on what he ends up with next?

A quick game is a good game
Not according to Mathew Laird at Tennis Grandstand, who has analysed the six most recent men’s grand slam matches, showing that the rate of play among the men has got slower and slower. I suppose, when you have Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal and all their ball bouncing and short tugging contesting the last three, it’s not all that surprising. But still… interesting.

“The 2011 Djokovic-Nadal U.S. Open took 56 seconds per point, their 2010 U.S. Open meeting took 52.4, the 2011 Australian Open between Djokovic and Murray took 51.8, the 2011 Djokovic-Nadal final at Wimbledon took 50.2, and the 2011 French Open between Nadal and Federer took 48 seconds for each point. Before the 2010 U.S. Open, no grand slam final had been ever played at a pace of 50 seconds per point or slower. Since then, all of them except one have.”

Which of the tour’s current players would have the quickest rate of play? Andy Murray and Andy Roddick, perhaps?

Quote of the week
Ever since Marcos Baghdatis pulverised his bats so beautifully in Australia, every racket smash is treated with far more attention than it used to be. At least that was the case when Serena Williams crushed a racket during the USA’s Fed Cup tie last weekend. “Probably a lot of power, which I have,” Williams said, when asked what makes a quality racket smash, “and a tremendous amount of anger. It just gets better when you have more anger.”

She said it.

Luck of the draw
Spare a thought for three of GB’s victorious Fed Cup team, who by sheer fluke of fate, are all likely to play each other in qualifying for the WTA event in Doha. Laura Robson has drawn Anne Keothavong in the opening round, with the winner likely to play Heather Watson, who faces doubles specialist Claudia Jans. Of all the draws…