As the US Open winds down, we wanted to corral author Nic Brown into throwing over a few of his thoughts the TSF way. We asked the Doubles novelist to send us a list of five things from the last 10 days and he came back with one extra in “Nic’s six”. The guy has a way with words, no? If you didn’t notice, Nic’s good friend and former ATP doubles expert Tripp Phillips was featured as a recruiter on the Straight Sets tennis blog. -NM
1. The Serbian (Fashion) Equation
Exhibit A: In the past, the cast in the Novak Djokovic box have simultaneously removed their shirts in celebration.
Exhibit B: During Djokovic’s fourth round match against Mardy Fish, his father wore a black t-shirt emblazoned with a huge airbrush-type image of his son.
Exhibit C: Djokovic’s new wardrobe is decorated with dragons seemingly inspired by Ed Hardy.
Closing argument: I do not know much about Serbia, let alone Serbian fashion. But I do know quite a bit about the sun-burnt population of the Carolina coastal region. Hence, I think during this Slam, I have, for the first time ever, uncovered a direct cultural parallel between monster truck fans in Myrtle Beach and Djokovic supporters in Belgrade.
2. Wheel Me It Isn’t So
The Dostoevsky tattoos, the on-court glasses, the beard: Janko Tipsarvic is clearly rad. I have always loved this guy. But when he trotted out on court to play Andy Roddick wheeling behind him a giant tennis bag on wheels, he shot into the stratosphere for me. I guess he’s already been sporting this thing for a few weeks this summer, but this was the first I saw of it. He clearly doesn’t give a damn about toeing the traditional tennis line, and I love him for it. On a more complicated note, he has confounded my previous theories about Serbian fashion. There is definitely no one in Myrtle Beach who looks like Janko.
3. Spraying Balls as Performance Art
In the first seven points of Feliciano Lopez’s round of sixteen match against Rafael Nadal Tuesday night, Lopez sprayed three balls into the stands off miss-hits. I don’t takes cuts like Lopez does, and I’m not playing Nadal in post-Earl wind gusts, but still – if I lose one ball a set I’m embarrassed. Also, I’m not in the top twenty-five. I’ve never seen anything like it. It immediately erased any consideration I had that it was going to be a good match. And it wasn’t. More interesting, though, is the fact that I just learned Lopez plays himself on a Spanish sitcom. Very performance art of him. Perhaps that’s what was going on with the stray balls, too?
4. Back, And Looking Fabulous
Everyone seemed to think Roger Federer’s Wimbledon back injury was caused by some infection of sour grapes, but I had some inside sources who told me it was quite serious. I still thought it was sour grapes. But I now have to say I think he really was injured in England, because he’s moving so well again and looks better than he even did in Australia. If Nadal can’t pick up his return game by Sunday, and if Federer gets past Djokovic in the semis, Federer might actually win a grand slam final against him for the first time in three years.
Sign language and shoe-tastrophes to finish off Nic’s list.
5. The Uselessness of Sign Language
When Robin Soderling played Nadal in their infamous 2007 Wimbledon match – the one that lasted several days, during which Soderling pulled a fake wedgie from his shorts to mock Nadal’s drawn out service routine – he most got under Nadal’s skin for not holding up the obligatory “sorry” hand after winning a point off a net cord. Afterwards Soderling said something like, and I’m paraphrasing here, “What? You want me to apologize for winning a point?” I’ve always thought he was on to something there. No one is really sorry when they hold their hands up. I mean, I swear by the decorum and polite traditions of tennis, but still, I’m looking for this particular one to end.
In the fifth set that Ryan Harrison played this year against Sergiy Stakhovsky (and which he lost in an almost corporeal appearance from a serious batch of nerves), he won a point off a net cord and didn’t bother with the hand. At the time, his opponent had his back to him, so it wouldn’t have mattered, but still, I was glad to see Harrison just skip the act and go back to business. He seems like one of the nicest and well-spoken young guys on tour, and the match was played in a great atmosphere of respect (except when the crowd booed Stakhovsky for not wanting to play in rain), so it didn’t even raise an eyebrow. But I don’t think it ever should – even in the midst of wedgies.
In his round of sixteen match against Richard Gasquet, Gael Monfils slid around on the hard court so much that part of his shoe fell off. He tried to pull off the remainder of the dangling strip of sole, and then – while switching sides – ended up getting a pair of scissors and cutting it off. If I was a top-twenty player known for insane acrobatics and sliding long distances across non-skid surfaces, I would pack an extra pair of shoes for the second week of a slam. Gael, listen to me, pack an extra pair just in case. Next year, that is.
Author Nic Brown’s latest novel, Doubles, came out in July. His web site is here.
(djokovic photo by rob loud/usopen.org)