August 28, 2014
Stan Wawrinka has unashamedly done what so many sports stars have wanted to do over the years – he has told a rowdy fan where to get off. But the incident reignited the age-old debate: should paying customers have the right to say what they want to the players, or is there a line they should not cross?
At Wimbledon, witty quips are tolerated – even loud ones. But moronic behaviour is dealt with quickly and the perpetrators are ejected. Taunting of players during points is definitely out of line.
Flushing Meadows is more of a bear pit and players need a higher threshold of patience. The matches finish later, the booze is flowing freely (as Wawrinka was only too quick to point out), and every so often a borderline incident can unfold.
First the basic facts. Wawrinka beat Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (1).
It was past midnight when the Swiss finally spoke out: ‘Shut up man! Seriously, shut up!’ he yelled at a drunken fan. Whatever the paying customer had said, Wawrinka definitely didn’t like it. He was more forgiving later, though.
‘At the end of the day, they start to get a little bit drunk,’ he explained. ‘It was OK. I had to talk to a few of them. At the end it’s normal. Everybody was into the match. That’s OK. It can happen.’
But it clearly wasn’t OK at the time. Still, thankfully we aren’t yet at the stage where a tennis player launches himself violently into the crowd, like the soccer player Eric Cantona once did in London when a thug insulted his mother. Our beloved tennis players are so well-paid and pampered that maybe they should be able to handle a bit of unruly behaviour now and again. You know what you are walking into when you play the US Open! Having said that, many will applaud Wawrinka for doing what so many sportsmen would like to do when they are being put off their game by a section of spectators or one particularly irritating individual.
Elsewhere, no one could put the 39th-ranked Peng Shuai off her game as she beat fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska in an hour and 35 minutes. She deserved her 6-3, 6-4 victory and never backed down, as one 27-shot rally illustrated only too well.
‘Every game was tight and there were a lot pf rallies. In the important moments I think she was playing just a little bit better,’ Radwanska concluded, stating the blindingly obvious.
Meanwhile Maria Sharapova went through her familiar routine, losing the first set then storming back to victory. She beat Alexandra Dulgheru of Romainia 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. Sometimes you wonder why Maria doesn’t just give her opponent the first set straight away and then get on with the inevitable!
More thrills and spills guaranteed over the next week and-a-half. Can’t wait!
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