Tennis Elbow: The silly mistakes we all make
June 24, 2012 · Print This Article
Welcome to Tennis Elbow, a new column that will look back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon goes back in time to one week ago and a shameful moment for David Nalbandian.
It was a foolish and silly mistake to make, the kind that I too often make.
For example, I’ll be playing NHL 12 when the computer scores a goal on me. Boom–a 2-1 defeat, and I’ll throw my XBOX controller to the ground. Or I’ll be doing some research online for a column when the Internet fails. Bam, no more connection to the network–and I might tap the router ever so gently and ask it why it decided to stop working, only in so many words. What happens next? Well, I just feel dumb–dumb and silly.
There are only four grass court events on the ATP World Tour calendar before Wimbledon, and the AEGON Championships at The Queen’s Club in London is one of them. For this year’s edition of the tournament, Marin Cilic and David Nalbandian battled for the right to be crowned champion.
By now, most know what happened so there’s no need to dwell on it too much. Cilic took home the hardware when Nalbandian was disqualified for conduct unsportsmanlike. The score was 7-6 (3) and 3-4 for the Argentine when he kicked a line judge’s box after having lost his serve, hurting the judge. Bam–down a break in the second set, he was frustrated. The line judge had to leave the court with blood on his shin, and Nalbandian left the court with a sullied reputation.
To disqualify Nalbandian was the right decision for a sport that aspires to be more than brass and knuckles. The best way, and the only one, to ensure that such tantrums, or fits–call it whatever you want, really–don’t occur again is to have no tolerance for them (take notice, NHL).
That being said, let’s not go overboard. In the days following the incident, I have heard some mention that Nalbandian shouldn’t be allowed to participate in the Wimbledon tournament, and for some time at least there was talk of an investigation by the British police.
Nalbandian has already paid a lot for what was little more than a dumb tantrum. It cost him quite possibly an ATP title and trophy to add to his collection as well as a few dollars in the process, hurt his reputation and, when the tournament director decided to call the match in the immediate aftermath, my bet is that there was nobody who felt more foolish than him.
From now on, Nalbandian will probably control his frustration much better. He should have done no more than current alpha male Novak Djokovic did–some might remember this year’s French Open final when the Serb broke the Perrier sign on his chair because he was so frustrated with his level of play right before the first rain delay. It attracted him the wrath of the crowd momentarily and probably cost him forever a sponsorship with Perrier, but in the end he got it out of his system and almost, just almost, managed to turn the match around for good.
Obviously, that’s a much better way to channel his frustration than what Nalbandian did, who couldn’t even finish his match–though it remains to be seen whether the decision would have been the same had the judge not been hurt.
All of us have it much better than him when we throw our tantrums. When I break my XBOX controller, all it costs me are $60 and a visit to Best Buy, much less than the disqualification that he suffered at the Queen’s tournament. But that’s probably because when I do win the Stanley Cup on the XBOX, I don’t exactly get compensated in the same way that the players themselves do.
by: Charles Blouin-Gascon