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#1 kartnite

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 12:49 AM

Assuming most of the populi in here are tennis fans, I believe you would have had either watched or learned that on Thursday (28 June 2012) a certain beanpole Czech who answers to the name "Lukas Rosol" pounded a certain 11-time (and counting) Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal for the most of their encounter before finally blowing his lights out in a performance that is being debated as one of the greatest upsets in the history of tennis.

Over the course of his coup de grace, Rosol won all the points on his last ten serves through either service winners or gut-blasting aces.

But before the encounter came to its now ballistic and super-charged conclusion, there was something else seemed to boil over. Tension.

However, it wasn't the 26-year old journeyman who lost the plot. Instead, it was his 26-year old opponent, a veteran, who boiled over. First, by mumbling to the umpire that Rosol's 'bouncy' stance was distracting his service motion. And second, by doing something that actually showed the great man under poor light - Nadal elbowed Rosol at the change-over, prior to the commencement of the fourth set.

Rafael Nadal, yes, of whom I am a fan (too) - did disappoint with his antics. But this wasn't the first time. Here is a list which I have managed to put together.


2006 - Roger Federer calls out Toni - midmatch - for illlegal coaching.
2006 - Ivan Lubijic got pissed off with Rafa's time wasting and made it clear everyone wanted Federer to win the French.
2006 - Scolding Berdych who made a "Shhh" gesture to the crowd after beating Rafa.
2007 - Robin Soderling, at Wimbledon, for time-wasting and butt-picking before every point.
2008 - Medical time-out against Federer in Hamburg while he was losing.
2010 - Medical time-out against Petzschner and illegal coaching
2010 - Wimbledon; against Söderling. Argues and threatens umpire Carlos Ramos, I think. Even had the crowd jeering. Can you actually imagine Wimbledon center court crowd jeering Rafa!?!

2010 - World Tour Finals. Against Berdych. Argues with umpire Bernandez (one of the respected fellows) and threatens to not play.
2011 - Wimbledon; against Juan Martín del Potro. Takes a time out to get some tape cut, hobbles before MTO, comfortable goes on to win (despite tough DelPo fightback) afterwards.
2012 - Madrid; Blue clay is fine when he beats Davydenko but dangerous when he blows a lead to Verdasco.
2012 - French open; conditions are good when winning and bad when losing
2012 - Wimbledon; complaining about opponent, time wasting, illegal coaching and bumping on opponent.

Not sure how many more are there, but I am certain that this list doesn't end here. And I needn't mention the fact that he takes up to 30 seconds before he serves when the official limit is 20 seconds.

Nadal, as we all know, is one of the games greats. But such antics, in my opinion - make his "humility" look too good to be true. In other words, its called false modesty.

Contrast it with someone like Novak Djokovic who actually GAVE his opponent (no points for guessing who) a point in their French Open final - all in good spirits, so that they got on with the match. Actually, I'd say Novak was a bit too ambitious there - it is the umpire's decision to award points & that's why he is there to oversee the proceedings.

Now staying on topic... How is it that we perceive gamesmanship when one of the games greats is on court? I must say that Rafa - despite his "misgivings" from earlier in the match, was man enough to pick up Rosol's racquet and hand it back following their rather frosty handshake at the net upon the game's conclusion. It oozed class, as did his staying on to autograph the outstretched souvenirs on his way out of the hallowed lawns. But does all that nullify what he did 'during' the encounter? I'm afraid, no.

One of the world's most revered tennis writers goes on to say that closing the roof took away Rafa's momentum and that he was justifiably grumpy. But again, how does this "justified grumpiness" negate his actions before the roof was closed?

Sport is not made poor if the loser isn't too gracious enough. It is human to lose and to feel grumpy.

Even Federer, after his loss to Berdych (Wimbledon 2010), did not credit his opponent and blamed a niggle, instead. Forums and news articles were flooded with compositions on Federer's bitterness. Was it a bit odd to see Federer resort to backhanded comments? May be. That's what the masses felt.

But was it unsportsmanlike? I wouldn't say so. Berdych probably played one of the matches of his life that afternoon and his march to victory was in no way impeded by any action of Federer on court.

Contrast it to Rafa's defeat at the French to Söderling in 2009. He blamed injuries, too. And how did the media excuse that? It is this double-standard that, I guess, we freelancers should choose to highlight. Call out the bluff!

I'll conclude this brief article here - in order to initiate a discussion on gamesmanship and how the viewers perceive it. A small disclaimer - this article has not been edited. What you see here is the first draft of what I have written. I will NOT edit this further and if at all I have anything to add (after any Eureka moment!), I shall add it in threads below or as responses to your comments.

PS: Now make no mistake about it... If there is one person who I'd pick to play for my life, it would be Rafael Nadal. Or even Novak Djokovic (the 2011 version).

Play.
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#2 Vibhu batra

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 01:30 AM

Well, talking of sportsmanship, let me move the discussion to another example.. I am sure, you would be aware who is Steve Waugh...


Every one remembers him as one of the greatest gentleman to ever have played any form of sports. If you remember some of his quotes made during the 1999 world cup, firstly : his chosen motto was Intent & Intimidate , in other words, show intent & intimidate opponents.


2ndly, I am sure, u will be aware of herschelle gibbs incident.


3rdly, he always used to say, on field, we always play to win & Off field, we always live to be nice. It doesn't matter if people call us bad or good on field, but, we need to win by a way which we deem is correct....



Ok, coming back to Nadal topic :::



U quoted all those 8 incidents, frankly, I missed the shouldering incident, so, I cannot comment on that, as I am not sure, if it was intentional or accidental..



U also quoted Djokovic & the french Open final, but, was it true sportsmanship to bang the chair with his racket that too during a grand slam final, when the whole world is watching?


On the same topic, was Nalbandian really kicking the linesman or was his anger on some thing else?


So yes, coming to the sportsman ship issue, yes, it is hard to tell, if some one, blames an injury for his/her loss, is it against sportsmanship?


To an extent yes, but, during a press conference u r asked 100s of qtns & some of the qtns are twisted to take such replies, so, to a larger extent, no, as the player who has lost has a right to express him self & he did....


There have been events before , when Rafa Nadal after beating Roger Federer at 2009 australian open, even publicly said sorry & said, seeing Federer's tears has taken away his happiness from the victory. Is it sportsmanship ?


Also, if you read this article about Toni Nadal, you will get to know, few more things, is it sportsmanship?


So, in a nutshell, what I mean to say is that there will be incidents when a certain individual might have done some thing that might look against sportsmanship, but, yes, the definition of sportsmanship needs to be seen from a larger point of view...


I liked your views & yes, its always fun to be a part of such a discussion.. Keep these coming :).

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#3 Anna

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 01:48 AM

Great discussion indeed, going on here. Let me contribute, my bit, thou, will write in details, tomorrow.


I personally believe if a players blames his injury for a defeat, one needs to take his views on face value & understand that, the player has to be injured.


yes,there have been incidents as u quoted above, that might be against gamemanship, but, there have been incidents involving the same individuals that have been gamemanship too...


so, what I mean to say is that, this discussion of gamemanship needs to be assessed by considering the nagtive as well as overall positive points of an indvidual ...


& one more question to add to this, have history books ever remembered any player who was very honest & couldn't win any title???
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#4 kartnite

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 07:06 AM

Vibhu:

Waugh/Ponting/Cricket Australia (and even Cricket Protea) - yes. Intimidate. Play hard. Join the opponent for a beer at the end of day's play. But there is a fine line between playing hard and doing anything to win. Playing hard and playing fair is different from playing hard and trying to win at any cost even if it means play dirty.

Gibbs incident? I remember quite a lot involving that fellow - but which one? Although I am not too sure if we should pursue that on a tennis forum - this is sport - but not sure if everyone here will know Gibbs, Waugh, etc.

Re: Nadal bumping - whoa, you must catch it. I was shell-shocked myself. I have always held him in high esteem (even choosing to overlook his press conference after the Söderling loss and a couple other incidents) and have felt he really was the archetypal play-bloody-hard-play-bloody-fair competitor... And this happened and my mind went back to those a few incidents in the past before I set out gathering those other incidents.

Re: Chair banging - ha ha, Novak isn't alone at those antics. Marcos smashed four at the Australian. Safin and Goran have probably paid more in fines than winning prize money! It's a wonder... But at the end of the day - their behaviour is indeed "unbecoming of a professional". I am a bit unsure, myself... By banging racquets, he doesn't directly impede his opponent's chances, does he? As opposed to faking a time-out or arguing with the umpire and threatening a pull-out, etc.? (YouTube has some videos. Check them out. Else, I'll post them later tonight)

Re: Press conferences. Oh good point... The media is ALWAYS holding out the carrot. Waiting to elicit words. I hate that!

Re: Nalbandian. Shocker. What I know - his kick was NOT aimed at the linesman. He was blinded with rage, as they say. But again... It was 'unbecoming of him as a sportsman'. The same self control that we mention when ppl bang racquets should be mentioned here as well... That was an out-of-the-world moment.

Re: Federer/Murray tears. Again... We can always end the topic saying "human sentiment", but yes... I wouldn't say that was a sporting moment either. And it was yet another of those moments when Nadal oozed class by putting an arm across Roger's shoulders and reassuring him. Priceless.

Re: Toni. Actually... Toni has always made it public. Not a surprise. And here's another thing - Rafa has said openly - to the media - that Toni does "talk a lot during matches". In other words, he does get excited and shout out instructions. Now that, I would say, is not fair.

I am not questioning their personal natures. I always believe that people are inherently good... It's just our 'nature of duty' that sometimes tends to bring the darker sides within us.

I'm glad you are able to discern what I have tried to convey... Thanks for the feedback... Let's see what opinions we get here!
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#5 kartnite

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 07:15 AM

Anna:

Re: Injury claims. Personally... I don't mind if anyone says so in an interview. That's the bloody media. Venus Williams NEVER talks about injuries if she loses. Juan Martín del Potro doesn't. But hey, that's their choice and I appreciate them... Likewise, if "X" says to the media that he lost because of a niggle, may be it is true. It could be false - but then... He did not impede his opponent on court. So... Claiming a niggle in an interview - the way I see it - isn't being entirely un-sportive. And like you said - it has to be taken at face value and that's all. It is the media and the press that blow it out just because "X" has a huge fan following.

Re: gamesmanship, in general: Absolutely... Like I said in my point above - the same person acts like a sourpuss in one instant but also exudes class in other ways... May be - like I reflected in my response to Vibhu... Everyone's human and the darker instincts do surface the odd while.

Re: history. Well... History may remember only winners. But if the winner won through tainted means, that isn't forgotten either. Michael Schumacher may have won "x" number of titles as a driver. But he has a tainted history because of reasons 1, 2, 3, etc. Of course, at the end of the day, he is remembered as a champion. But also as someone whose achievements have come with a "?" either because of his attitude or the way he treated his peers on the track, etc.

I am not talking about inherent individual traits. Just talking about how they were at their trade. And yes... A champion has to be ruthless. But then again... Ruthlessness through hard and 'fair' play.

Thanks for taking the time to read, understand and respond. Means a lot. And I look forward to hearing your detailed opinion, too. :)
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#6 mohit

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 03:36 PM

Some great discussion happening here, would surely love to join in :)

#7 kartnite

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 05:53 PM

Mohit:

Look fwd to hearing from you, too!
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#8 sausan

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 08:56 PM

Amazing article and great discussion. I completely AGREE with you

Sometimes a player does not accept the loss and lose the sportsmanship that has
such as Mardy Fish in the last year( i don't remember in which tournament?)he argued with the umpire-chair ,at the end of the game he lost and did not shake hands the umpire.

also Murry in Rolan Garros 2011 this point

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9PG0nbC-Js

the umpire-chair asked Murray if he wants to give Troicki the point but he refused

by the way is was one of the most beautiful match I've seen

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#9 kartnite

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 06:12 AM

Sausan:

Rightly said. It takes a lot to keep calm when faced with defeat.

Oh... That Roland Garros point was crazy - I pity the kid... But I really wonder what came over the kid to run in to the court like that. One of those brain-farts as they say!

Troicki blew his chances - just because of losing one point.

Murray - well, I am not really a fan of his antics anyway. But this Wimbledon seems to be his best chance. But it's interesting what the betting shops think - they have actually released bets that he will marry Kim Sears (his girlfriend) before winning a title.

Woopsie da daisie... Coming back to topic.

Yes - Murray was rather sour on that point - but then again... He didn't have to be too generous. Most of the players aren't. The only tennis player I remember who would fight with the umpire even to grant the point to the opponent was Martina Navratilova.
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#10 kartnite

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Posted 06 July 2012 - 01:06 AM

Coming to think of the "Stefan Edberg" award for sportsmanship on the ATP... Waiting to see who wins it this year - I don't think Djokovic has ever won it. Federer has won it a bucketful of times! And Nadal, once - if I am not wrong.
- I am not what I am. And what I am not, that is precisely what I am.





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: tennis, sport, sportsmanship, gamesmanship, roger federer, rafael nadal, novak djokovic, sportive spirit, spirit of the game, heat of competition

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