Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon recaps a difficult first week in Miami for Vasek Pospisil.
Let’s say you wake up one day, feeling kinda grumpy. You don’t particularly know why but you just know you’re not quite happy that day.
Then you start to go about your day, maybe you get the coffee going. You pour one in your cup before—oops, you spilled coffee on the counter. Ugh. Now it’s time to go outside to walk your dog. You put him on his leash then go outside and—goddamn was that dog poop you just stepped in?
After the walk you come back inside, ready to make breakfast. You walk over to the kitchen but then hit your toe on the table on the way there. Gosh that hurt so much. Before you know it, you’re screaming expletives at the table and if your dog hadn’t barked, you would have probably broken a chair on this stupid table that just hurt you.
You know it’s not the table’s fault, or even that it’s not really a problem with the table in your house, but like, you really just can’t help it and it pissed you off so much.
Why are you telling us this?
What’s the point of all this? Well, Canadian Vasek Pospisil basically battled his own tennis version of the scenario above last week at the Miami Open in the tantrum heard around the world.
I want to sincerely apologize for my behavior on the court in Miami earlier today. I disrespected the game I love and for that I am truly sorry. By way of explanation, I felt deeply unnerved during a meeting between players and ATP executives last night, and.. [1/2]
— Vasek Pospisil (@VasekPospisil) March 25, 2021
As far as player apologies, Pospisil’s is pretty good—probably because he knew how much he had messed up. During his first round match against American Mackenzie McDonald, the Canadian lost the first set on a point penalty when he mistook the tennis balls and his racquet for a kitchen table and chair.
Then Pospisil turned in his crowning achievement. When umpire Arnaud Gabas warned him, the 30-year-old lost his shit and gave us a rare glimpse at behind the curtains of the reflections that one goes through during these outbursts. During, again it must be repeated, a Masters 1000 first round match, Pospisil said that, “An hour and a half yesterday, the chair of the ATP (i.e. Andrea Gaudenzi) fucking screaming at me in a player meeting for trying to unite the players.”
By then, he was theoretically speaking to Gabas but really, he was saying this to an audience of one: himself. Other highlights of his meltdown include the long-winded but efficient “Get him out here… Fucking asshole” and the rhetorical question “Why am I supporting this fucking tour.”
But by far the best moment came when the Canadian screamed that, “You want to default me, I’ll gladly sue this whole organization.” Part of us wishes that Gabas would have called Pospisil’s bluff but we understand why he didn’t: you don’t kick a man when he’s down—or, like, when he’s hit his toe on the corner of a kitchen table.
What was the reason behind this outburst?
This outburst might all seem extremely random were it not for the fact that last summer, Pospisil joined Novak Djokovic in establishing the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA). Consider too that this “fucking asshole” that Pospisil had fought with the night before his Miami match, this Andrea Gaudenzi, happens to be the ATP chair and so technically someone who stands across the table from Pospisil.
Once you consider all this, suddenly it all makes sense. And suddenly, we understand that while Pospisil might have screamed at Gabas, the point was that he was screaming—and that he likely wished he had screamed all these things the night before.
Perhaps the funniest chapter in this entire saga is that somehow, Pospisil went on to win the second set of this godforsaken match once play resumed, but then lost the third.
He’s never ever been so relatable.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG