Sorry N, I’m not with you.
Being a winner is not enough to sway my opinion of you N. You did your dash long ago with me.
Back in the 70s and 80s you were either in one camp or the other camp. You could love Skyhooks, but not Sherbet. You could love Manly, but not Parra. You could love Paddle Pops or Billabongs. Most importantly, you could love Bjorn Borg, or John McEnroe – but not both.
I was with the silent Swede every step of the way. Bjorn was Peter Perfect, and John was Dick Dastardly (Wacky Races analogy – look it up). Boy, they had some ding-dong battles. Right up there with Steve Waugh scoring a century off the last ball of the day is Bjorn and John’s match at Wimbledon in 1980. Bjorn reigned supreme in tie break in the fourth set 18-16. Best tennis match I’ve ever seen. I stayed up into the wee hours watching that one. From memory, John was on his best behaviour for most of that tournament. He only brought out the ‘superbrat’ persona when he knew it would get him somewhere, or when it would rattle his opponent. No need to change into his alter-ego when he was playing Bjorn, because Bjorn was ice cold. Ice. Cold. McEnroe’s antics were stuff of legend. I admired his tennis, but I hated his behaviour, and I remember cheering the TV when he got disqualified from a match for his poor behaviour, foul language and racquet abuse.
Cut to 2019, and we’ve already endured half a decade of garbage from two of the most talented tennis players in the world at the moment. You know who I mean, but they don’t get more than an initial in this column. The ability they have to wield that stringed weapon should have seen them at #1 and #2 in the world quite a while ago. But (do I say pleasingly?) karma has a way of biting you in the butt sometimes, and these two poor examples of Aussies have reaped what they sowed. Language, behaviour and attitude that makes King Joffrey from Game of Thrones look like Paddington Bear. (Allegedly) tanking games, dummy spits, disrespect of opponents, stupid responses in press conferences, ridiculous taunts of how ‘rich’ they are – they are arguably the worst examples of ‘The Age of Entitlement’ that we’ve seen this century. I remember a couple of years ago when one of these players was heckled from the crowd, the player responded with something similar to “you came to watch me, you must like me”. If I’d been in the crowd I would have responded with “I came to watch you alright … to watch you get defeated”
One of the good guys Rafa Nadal, lost to N the other day. That meant N won a tournament. Many may now jump on the bandwagon now, arriving at a positive correlation between success and hero status. Winning, being successful, or even being popular doesn’t absolve anyone of their behaviour. Aussies love a winner, and often we are ready to look beyond what is right in front of us as we crave a hero and victory over others. I’ve got a feeling that our ball-tampering cricketers will find that all is forgiven if they manage some good performances and bring home that little urn in a few months.
I honestly can’t see myself jumping on the bandwagon if either of these two characters win more tournaments or make their way higher up the tennis rankings. There are plenty of other great Aussie tennis players who understand the privileged position they’re in, are appreciative of the sacrifices (and money) that has been invested in them, and are respectful of others, their game and the entitlements that go with being in the public eye. Sorry N, I’m not on board.