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Thoughts of the Week, featuring Stosur, Djokovic, Barthel and fandom

April 26, 2012

It isn’t quite the end of the week – in fact it is the middle of the week for most of you – but that’ll do.

Gritty in grief

Whilst everyone was sending their condolences to Novak Djokovic over the death of his grandfather, the boy and I got into a discussion on how commendable Djokovic’s decision to continue to play Monte Carlo really was. Knowing Djokovic and his grandfather’s background, I thought it was pretty brave of Djokovic to take to the court. The boy, however, did not. “If my grandfather died I wouldn’t just drop my tools and go home. I live in a different country, what am I going to do, sit at home and mope for a few days? It isn’t like it’s my mum,” he said, or something along those lines. He wasn’t trying to be insensitive, he was just pointing out that many people would finish the day’s work if an elderly relative passed away. Regardless if it was as heroic as everyone made it out to be or not, Djokovic clearly struggled on the final day. Would he have been better saving his best for Nadal and not letting the Spainard get one back on him?

Novak Djokovic reaches quarter-finals in Monte Carlo hours after grandfather died

                                                                                                                                                                     Photo: AP

Can Sam win Roland Garros?

It is far too premature to say Sam Stosur will not win another Grand Slam. She’s currently playing Julia Goerges and she’s pummelling her backhand up the line, hitting incredible slices and ripping her forehand. Who else is a better clay courter? Serena Williams hasn’t done anything at Roland Garroa for a long time and her days of turning up and winning on any form seem to have gone. Li Na and Schiavone are as streaky as Bernard Tomic on a bad day, and whilst Sharapova has proven she’s no cow on ice, she’s more struggling to clear the final hurdle at the moment. Azarenka will go in the favourite, but Sam certainly has the weapons to beat her. I’m not saying Stosur will win the French, that would be far too brave, but I don’t think she should be underestimated either…

Goerges just picked up her game, of course.

Blasé Barthel

How much do I love Mona Barthel’s first service action? Very much. The girl tosses the ball up, brings her racket back, and gives the ball a casual whack. It often goes skidding past her opponents. There’s no six metre high ball toss, no catching the ball, no grunting, and barely any double-faulting. It’s so effortless it looks blasé.. Yet the results are anything but. Is Barthel shaping up to be out first dark horse for Roland Garros? I think so.

Are we embarrassed of our fandom?

I’ve interviewed a host of fans for my Good/Bad/Crazy posts for On The Go tennis, the latest being none other that Sports Illustrated writer Courtney Nguyen. And whilst Courtney has an impressive profile and much more experience in tennis than most fans, one thing remained the same… she rated her fandom level a 3/5. I think perhaps ONE person has rated themselves a 4, while everyone else has been 3 or below. Yet after reading their interviews I’ve rated them higher, (I gave Courtney a 4). Why is it that no one wants to be a 5? Why do people volunteer and agree to these interviews, tell me all about their obsessions, but then mark themselves down to a number that translates to ‘average?’ Why are we all so eager to admit we are big fans but too afraid to stand out as the biggest? Is it such a bad thing to be a five? Is being a five better than being a one? I think I need to expand on this later…

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