Seeing the Wimbledon men’s final from 2001 on Monday’s ‘Wimbledon recreated’, I couldn’t help but think of some of the matches that have been played as a result of a defeat for a player I have publicly supported. Matches that have essentially made me be a bit like ‘meh’. It is not an indication of a lack of respect for either player in the next round, more of immense disappointment your player isn’t the one through and playing in it.
They don’t come much more ‘meh’ than the Ivanisevic v Rafter final on the third Monday at SW19, 19 years ago. If only Henman v Ivanisevic could have continued on that Friday night…
I remember watching the final, two players I really appreciated, liked and respected in the game as a kid. I just couldn’t get massively excited though. All I could think was just how close Henman was this year. The search for the holy grail continued and I was gutted. Two points from a Wimbledon final at 5/5 in a nailbiting fourth set tiebreak was agonising. Tim had been close other years but he wasn’t as close as this one. I didn’t begrudge Goran or Rafter winning it but it wasn’t the result I was looking for. Some final when I look back though.
I felt the pain as much after the Serena v Vinci semi-final at the US Open back in 2015. The ‘meh factor’ at peak powers here. My work at the time meant I had to keep tabs on the final even though I can honestly say I really wasn’t arsed. Again I had nothing massively against Vinci and certainly nothing against Flavia Pennetta but it just didn’t interest me. Every time I looked at the Arthur Ashe Courts on the screens at work I just thought, ‘how is Serena not here winning this right now’. Let us not forget she was on for the calendar Grand Slam and it was on, big time. ‘Experts’ had said there was nothing left to see, this was simply a procession now by all account. That made it worse, people love a story and an upset and they got one here. Devastated. For most this was a great moment, Flavia winning a slam and it was. When I read this back it sounds so disrespectful. It is not meant like that as I have already mentioned, not at all. It really is just the disappointment.
I also think of Joao Sousa v Rafa Nadal at Wimbledon last year. Sousa had beaten Dan Evans the round before and as a big Evo fan, I was gone after that loss. I was courtside for their third-round encounter to live every moment of it too. I would love to have seen Evo have a crack at Rafa, pressure-free. His hard work and form deserved a shot at it. So I literally remember being like ‘meh’ when Sousa took on Rafa in the last 16. You could basically classify this as sulking, in all cases. There is certainly a bit of that and acting like a petulant child to boot. It is why we are passionate tennis fans though. I have been known to be exactly the same after a Liverpool or a Hereford loss. For me, it is the same.
It would be boring if we all rooted for the same players anyway.
Andy Del Potro