In a year of tremendous achievements, this tennis season also brought plenty of eyebrow raising moments, but for all the wrong reasons. Here’s a not so fond look back.
23. 24. 24 1/2. 24 3/4. 24 5/4.
Who could forget Richard Gasquet’s angry outburst during the Miami semifinals? His “You are not my father!” rant became a viral video hit. But more than that, it drew even more attention to the controversial new ATP rule to speed up play by issuing a time violation to players who did not serve within 25 seconds.
While the rule has some merits, it was either enforced or ignored by most umpires, many using their own discretion when to penalize a player or not. While using one’s common sense is often the best call, since when did the rules in the ATP rule book become open to interpretation?
Didn’t We Just Say There’s No More Time Left?
Victoria Azarenka and her “notorious” timeout during her Australian Open semifinal versus Sloane Stephens was largely criticized worldwide. The word notorious is in quotes because, despite the very public backlash, Azarenka didn’t technically break any rules when it comes to receiving assistance from medical staff.
While each has their own opinion as to if what Azarenka did was indeed gamesmanship, the resulting outcry did nothing to change the current rules governing on-court medical timeouts.
But don’t think that Azarenka didn’t feel the sting of that backlash in January. Her refusal to stop playing, while clearly injured, during her last match of the year versus Li Na at Istanbul, and her comments afterwards, seemed to indicate she didn’t want to open herself up to another controversy. If Azarenka really did play through pain to avoid bad opinion, all one can say is, yipes.
What I Meant To Say Was.
Several WTA stars found themselves having to explain, spin or completely take back comments that they made to the media. Sloane Stephens and her infamous ESPN Magazine interview with pointed thoughts about Serena Williams (that Stephens later retracted) was followed up by Williams herself having to apologize a few months later for what she thought were off the record comments that made it into a Rolling Stone interview.
While many readers were outraged at both players, isn’t this the sort of candor fans continue to ask more of from player interviews? And though both women, incorrectly, assumed the reporters would not use all the things that they said in their interviews, should those reporters have been blamed for, basically, doing their job?
Both Stephens and Williams said in the future they would be more careful with what they say in press. And it’s a good bet many more pros, having watched both women endure their very public mea culpas, will be using the handy “No comment” phrase more often. So much for “up close and personal”.
Believe It Or Not.
The issue of doping again became front and center this summer, but this time with several well-known players professing their innocence with mixed results in the court of law and public opinion.
While some chose to believe the explanations given by Marin Cilic (an inability to read French), Viktor Troicki (a fear of needles) and Nuria Llagostera Vives (meth happens), others cried out for all players to be more responsible for what happens to them off court. This is especially true with players now perceived to be guilty first before they, and they alone, prove themselves innocent.
Perhaps Jo-Wilfried Tsonga summed it up best in Paris when he said, “We don’t know what is true, what is not true. Personally I just don’t know who I believe anymore. Everybody is lying, even the institutions. I don’t know if it is true but this is the feeling I have.”
A Touchy Subject.
“Hypothetically yes. Technically no.”
– Milos Raonic after being asked if Juan Martin Del Potro should have been awarded a point after Raonic touched the net, but did not call it on himself, during their match in Montreal.
The Ties That Bind.
Bernard Tomic caused plenty to shake their heads in 2013. But it was his father, John Tomic, who made the most headlines this year after he broke the nose of Tomic’s hitting partner, Thomas Drouet, outside of a Madrid hotel.
The twisted tale of John Tomic’s abuse of both of his son and Drouet got only weirder after Bernard Tomic at Wimbledon publicly defended his father who was barred from entering the event and then when Drouet released his own “diaries” to the press of the events leading up to his assault.
Tomic later decided to part ways with his father, as his coach, but it’s too soon to tell if the split will be a permanent one given recent comments from the Aussie star in an new interview. In short, don’t be too surprised if we see John Tomic back in the stands once his ban is lifted in May.
One Lump or Two?
When the news broke that Maria Sharapova planned to change her name to “Maria Sugarpova” before the US Open, reporters found themselves scrambling to read through the Florida state government website trying to figure out how it could be done so quickly.
The answer was, of course, it could not as Sharapova later revealed that, though she considered the change, she finally decided against it. So what prompted all of this frenzy? One theory is that when Sharapova realized she would have to pull out of the tournament due to injury, she would still need to create maximum buzz for her upcoming Sugarpova accessories launch a few days prior to the event. The publicity ruse did its job, but certainly left a bad taste in many others’ mouths.
Watch Sharapova as she tries to keep a straight face when explaining her decision to keep her name intact.
While they were within WTA rules, something certainly smelled fishy in Austria after tournament officials in Linz granted Angelique Kerber a very last minute wildcard into the late season event. Who can forget this candid tweet from Ana Ivanovic, who was also entered, after the draw was recast to include Kerber as the top seed?
One of those things when you realise you're powerless… No matter what they say! #linzdraw
— Ana Ivanovic (@AnaIvanovic) October 6, 2013
Kerber went onto to win Linz and that result helped book her spot into the WTA Championships.
Tsk, Tsk, Tunisia.
Kudos to the ITF for suspending Tunisia from Davis Cup after it was revealed Malek Jaziri was ordered not to compete against an opponent from Israel during a challenger event.
Glad You’re Back. We Think.
Jimmy Connors returned to the spotlight this year with a controversial autobiography and a very brief, and still inexplicable, stint as Maria Sharapova’s coach.
While many delighted in seeing the former No. 1 back, others cringed especially when it was revealed during an ESPN documentary that Connors had not spoken to Aaron Krickstein since their famous fourth round match at the 1991 US Open. Connors ended the film by saying, “I may be an asshole. But I’m a happy asshole.” Thanks for sharing Jimbo.
And on that note, it’s time to stop sobbing about went wrong in 2013 and look forward to the new year. Enjoy the holidays!