I think we can share this, fellahs?

So Tsonga attempts a fairly unconvincing drop-shot carrying all the threat of a handbag assault by Michael Gove. Meaning it was lame and self-defeatingly unfocussed. Murray responds in a kindof Baconesque blur somewhere between Screaming Pope and Vengeful Jock Upstart – he did paint that, didn’t he? – featuring discernible, co-ordinated, near sadistically-expressed brilliance. Meaning a gathering of the apologetic ball into some Caledonian vortex before the suspiciously automatic catapulting of said furry sphere back at the central body mass of the now fearfully star-jumping French hulk. It hits him, venomously, deep into his bollocks. Cue Blues squirming, Pinks giggling.

That sickeningly sinking feeling. That Oh My God I Really Might Puke and Parp 3 lbs of Angel Delight-consistency Shite Out At The Same Time feeling. Cruelly familiar to every male member(?) of the population over the age of about two days but mysteriously absent from female experience. Weirdly funny right then to all but he, the recipient of that extravagantly piquant instant.

Tsonga really copped one hardcore style and he may even as I write be using that as part of his response to the queue of journalists wanting to ask that second question (about how his Todger feels) an acceptable period after Q 1 – the one, obviously, about how HE feels. (Because they’re separate, presumably?)

But I may be being flippant in a moment of alleged National Triumph. This being after all the first time since that prehistoric American (Fred Perry) in his Mod T-shirts dun so-o gud that a Brit… dun so gud. If I may though, I would like to proffer in a sense of keen – remarkably, vividly, ashen-faced-with-(k)nobs-on keen – brotherhood, two remembrances which er… resonate clangiferously in this seminal moment.

Was leaning over a rail fence aged about four when a deceptively doe-eyed but actually savage steed casually leant through and bit/plucked inquisitively at my nether regions. Think only the magnificent heaviness of my sixties-era cotton footie shorts prevented Emlyn Hughes-like vocal rearrangement. Blessedly, there are no scars RT-able and Oh Yeh Baybee the wedding tackle remains verifiably intact. Had more than one other goolaciously ghoulish event – including the obligatory winkie-in-zip rite of passage – but only one rivals the Tsonga Oof.

Football. Caught one right in the knackers having spun round to counter an incoming challenge from some early-shaving donkey from Chesterfield. He hoofed it in the manner characteristic of a cerebrally-challenged No 5  – soundly at Row Z –despite the fact we were unthreateningly mid-pitch. Meaning he really did hoof it. I lay there pretending to be unconscious for about ten minutes whilst the tears coiled behind flickering lids and the ache in my testicles persists 40 plus years after the event. So, Monsieur Tsonga I/we do understand. It happens to us blokes.

Whether this ball-on-ball incident conspired against the (surprisingly?) popular Frenchman today, who knows? Murray for me was tougher, more durable, closer to absolutely elite level tennis more often – though often the standard was good. Expect many though, to settle for praising the Scot’s cahunas.

Electric dreams

…and cue the Inevitable Hot Water?

How great is this man?  On
a day when the bleary gaze of the sports journo’s is mebbes gonna  meander distractedly like between Sharapova’s
knicker-line and Hope Powell’s dug-out, it turns out (naturally like) that St James’
Park Geordieland is in hot wartah.  Or the
car park is.  Or hundreds of feet below
is.  Does the chairman know, ah wundah?  Does he have a plan?  Is it under control?  Or is Alan Pardew out there in ‘is wellies,
with a bucket, man?

But yeh, given this is Wimbledon Time… and therefore we are ‘dreaming of parses’ not Premier league points… what gives?  Apart from Sharapova?  And the annual uproar in respect of her
erm… her racket.  Surely good people, the
‘interest ‘  in her ‘screaming’ says
something more profound about our attitudes than it does about a perceived lack
of femininity – sorry, ‘femininity’ – in Sharapovaville.   This noise issue is hardly a significant
problem in the women’s game.  Lack of
movement and abundance of weight is,
however.

Against the spirited
but frankly shockingly slow Brit Laura Robson (yes I mean nowhere near fit or
sharp or fast enough Robson, like fifty flatout shuttles a day short slow
Robson) Sharapova – whilst no better than average herself – prevailed with
crane-like poise relatively untroubled.
Robson – ‘our’ prodigy – is 17 and a great, wristy hitter; but slow.  What the eff do her management think they
are doing?  Sharapova won a slam event at
the same age.  Ya need to be redd-ee.  And yip, it’s a cruel
world for prodigies.

All of which brings us back to coaching; and fitness; and awareness/self-awareness.  Knowing, actually, what’s necessary.  I may be wrong but whatever her difficulties
with reported growth spurts and injury, our most virile young force in the
female game should not have been allowed to get heavy and slow.  At 17.
Sorry. I’m just not sure there’s a way back from that.

Hey look the intensity and pace with which lots of the top women are hitting the
ball is little short of phenomenal.  There
are athletes out there playing at a high level and there may be no reason why
they should in any sense be compared to the blokes.  But it’s going to happen – it’s going to happen here, actually –  especially if the
perception (rightly or wrongly) is that the women’s game is relatively poor.  So
hang on a mo’ whilst I compose a fair sentence … if a provocative ferker.

There is no woman Djokovich.
Nobody with that focussed leanness, that stunning, merciless  gearing.
(I am unwisely forced to go so far as to say that) beyond this, the
level of fitness amongst even some of the top tier women players is
insufficiently high for elite sport.
This is (within the limitations of our good-natured sporting discussion
here) unacceptable.   Superb fitness must surely be
non-negotiable?

I’m sorry to have
picked on one of our best prospects but the teenage Robson needs to be bloody electric , at 17, to be a real contender;
and she is wooden.

More senior gals display a similar or more significant
weight/condition issue.  They are too
heavy; they have bellies and big backsides – too big for a sport which revolves
around pace, agility, athleticism.

Yes but does the fact of the Williams sisters’ utter domination
of the women’s game for a decade (playing, remember as near part-timers) reinforce
or completely disabuse my argument?  (I
am aware that their POWER GAME is inevitably at the core of our suddenly
convoluted debate here.) 

So does it make
sense, is it necessary to be massive?

Drawing upon all my extensive relevant experience, my
sporting intuition and my brutal instinct for the popular I can only answer

a) I bloody hope not; for the game, the spectacle etc etc  and

b) No; does it bollocks.
But we need to find some athletes – some gymnastic/electric/explosive
whirling dervishes.  Who can hit!

Thank god St Henin, bless’er cotton socks, anti-dotes the POWER
issue entirely.  Or would if she’d been an
ongoing, serial winner of slams.  But how
would she fare, now, against the American soul-sisters?

Given that one view of Serena might be that she is arguably
best part of a stone too heavy for a top level tennis athlete and that Venus
looks notably undertoned this year, Henin at her (careful with the adjectives!)
lithe (ooh) impish (aah) and mercurial (eeeshh!) best would surely wupp their
ample arses.  In her absence… who?   Sharapova?
And… is that good coaching or the lurv of a gargantuan
geezer doing that?   (Owtch!!)

27th June 2011.