Tennis Prose



Dramatic Saturday At Indian Wells

Sebastian Korda served for the match twice vs Rafael Nadal from 2-6 6-1 5-2 up in the third but was thwarted by arguably the most fierce and ferocious fighter in the history of tennis combat. Or was Korda’s one and only shortcoming exposed – an ordinary killer instinct to slay dragons compared to his superhuman shotmaking arsenal and court IQ? If Korda can hire a “killer instinct” consultant like Mike Tyson to give him some tips and advices on how to finish off a such a winning-obsessed opponent as Rafa, the 21 year old will be contending for marquee titles very soon.

Another young American who may be ready to win some prestigious titles this year totally obliterated Karen Khachanov last night 60 64. Jenson Brooksby looks like he’s on track with Korda to be the top American by the end of the year (but Opelka and Fritz will have some say in the matter). Brooksby is like a Terminator machine, equally impressive both mentally and physically. Jenson will attempt to tackle world no. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas in round three tomorrow.

Tsitsipas, now coached by former top ten Swede Thomas Enqvist (and perhaps his doubles partner Feliciano Lopez) survived a marathon with Jack Sock, prevailing 7-6 in the third from 4-5 down in the tiebreaker. Sock was sensational the entire match except when he was up 5-4 in the first and third set tiebreakers.

Another “close but no cigar” loss for Sock who is still aspiring to return to the top 100 and top 50 and perhaps even top ten, after three years in the wilderness. The way Sock played last night suggests he can be top ten again, the big weapon shots are all still there and now his head is on right, less showboating and much more serious and focused. The only difference in Sock is he’s no longer sponsored by Nike.

Shelby Rogers scored her first career win vs the red hot Jelena Ostapenko 75 76.

Naomi Osaka got crushed by Veronica Kudermetova 60 64 but the most damaging element of the match may have been a shout from the crowd of “Naomi you suck!” The heckle which happened in the first set, hurt the sensitive Osaka’s feelings and affected her performance. A tearful Osaka again tried to innocent victimize herself, comparing the incident in a post match on court speech, to when Serena and Venus were booed at the 2001 Indian Wells tournament. However she failed to mention the details of Venus pulling out of the semi vs Serena with some kind of injury minutes before the semifinal match which cheated the ticket buyers of what they paid to see (Elena Dementieva alleged that week Richard Williams was fixing the matches of his two daughters). The Sunday final crowd expressed their disgust by booing Serena and Richard Williams during the final vs Clijsters, but there was nothing racial about it. Venus of course was not injured enough to withdraw from Miami Open the following week.

Osaka was once the golden girl of tennis, the innocent, happy go lucky media darling and sponsor sweetheart but her political grandstanding of celebrating criminals and thugs with her custom masks at US Open and her anti media activism at French Open has cost her a great many fans and supporters. The woman or girl last night who yelled “Naomi you suck” has every right to speak her beliefs and Osaka has to live with the consequences of her political grandstanding.

Just like I have to live with my previous speculations and statements on this web site about certain players possibly faking injuries to stall matches and freeze opponents who are winning. Disagreeing tennis fans have attacked me for it, as evidenced by the bad review someone recently posted about my Facing Nadal book citing my history of alleging some players fake injuries to change match momentum and rhythm. So be it. Whatever the cost, I will continue to believe as Wally Masur once said, “Players fabricate injuries to protect their egos.”

Osaka may be more athletically talented and superior to Serena physically but mentally she is not as fierce and tough-minded. If someone yelled “Serena you suck” or “Novak you suck” you can be certain both of these great champions would have used the insult as fuel to inspire superior play. But Osaka crumbled like a crumb cake and did not compete at her optimum level. Just because of one lousy, heckle. We could all only wish Monica Seles just had to deal with a stupid heckle in Hamburg, Germany in 1993.

Osaka has to try to be mentally tougher about criticism and stick by her beliefs and principles (if they are her own and not the agenda of her handlers and sponsors to maximize her exposure). If she really does believe in BLM, mental health and reporters questions are too provocative after bad losses, stick by it. If not, time to come clean and distance herself from all political agendas and start to call her own shots based on her heartfelt beliefs not the ideas of crafty handlers and PR people. I will never forget the scene of the Philadelphia Spectrum boxing ring awaiting Mike Tyson to enter before his fight with Buster Mathis in 1995 and controversial promoter Don King stood along the ropes during the ten or fifteen minutes of calm before the delayed ring entrances – and one screwball fan shouted loud enough for the entire 20,000 seat arena to hear, “King, you’re a filthy animal!!!” It was so loud that King and everyone in the Spectrum heard it and how did that rascal King respond? He just continued to flash his high voltage smile just as if the heckler had shouted “King you are the best promoter ever!”

Osaka’s career as an elite champion, which she is, and her love of playing may be finished if she can’t find a way to regain her lost innocence and somehow distance herself from all the political baggage self sabotage she has wrecked her once beloved image with.

Imagine if someone yells “Naomi you suck” at every one of her matches, the gambling syndicates could make a fortune.

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  • Scoop Malinowski · March 13, 2022 at 11:34 am

    The ironic part about Osaka is she once was the mentally strongest WTA player. To win her first major at US Open vs Serena amidst all the chaos Serena created that day proved how strong and mentally concrete Osaka once was. But now she’s so fragile and sensitive to any criticism and her results and ranking are the evidence.

  • Erymn · March 15, 2022 at 8:27 pm

    I cannot thank you enough for such great writing. You’re doing a wonderful job with this tennis site. Please do more Biofiles.



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