December 21, 2018
Christmas pantomime season is here. And one thing is for sure. We all love a pantomime.
Which tennis star would best play Jack? And who could be the giant in Jack and the Beanstalk?
Alex de Minaur would make the perfect Jack. Young. Brave. Bold, on the rise and more than willing to enter new territory.
Wouldn’t big Marin Cilic make a good giant? Or even Karen Khachanov?
Remember the O2 Arena and the ATP Tour Finals? Roger Federer is every pantomime hero rolled into one.
So, when someone plots his downfall with seemingly dastardly tactics, the crowd are going to boo big-time.
Alexander Zverev was that pantomime villain in London.
But have you noticed that tennis villains are different? At least Zverev is. He didn’t snarl and play up to the pantomime role he had been given.
Zverev looked shocked at the reaction of the audience.
He said sorry for what he had done, he said it many times. Even though he hadn’t done anything wrong.
But then a strange thing happened. The very next time he faced the audience in the arena and beat Novak Djokovic, villainy became heroism.
Zverev, people realised, wasn’t a villain at all. He was a tennis Prince Charming. He could make people laugh, play the good guy. Talk and make shots with equal panache.
He could capture the imagination. He could triumph over adversity.
But tennis is in a very happy place this Christmas. We have not one new Prince Charming but two!
Step forward Stefanos Tsitsipas, the charismatic Greek superstar with the swashbuckling looks. Stef will surely dazzle almost as much as Zverev soon after Christmas.
Who will be chosen as our favourite Prince Charming in 2019? Zverev or Tsitsipas?
Aren’t we lucky to have both of them? Ready-made heroes. Young guys who have the potential to fill the tennis shoes of even the great and much-loved Federer and Nadal.
Who will be their Cinderella?
Could it be the US Open champion, Naomi Osaka?
In pantomime terms, Naomi has already been to the ball. She had her big night in Flushing Meadows.
But as we all know, events overtook her and it wasn’t quite the fairytale ending she deserved. So it would be nice if Naomi got to go to the ball once more – and managed to savour every moment next time around.
Just as with those dashing Prince Charmings, though, Osaka has rivals for the role of Cinderella.
Simona Halep may already be world number one. But she is still waiting to truly enjoy the limelight at Wimbledon. Could this be her big year?
And then there is another seemingly perfect Cinderella in Elina Svitolina. Without a Grand Slam, but capturing more and more hearts – and titles – as she goes along.
Winner of the WTA Tour finals, Svitolina looks set to hold centre stage in 2019 too. Elina could well have her big moment in a Grand Slam theatre before long.
So tennis isn’t short of pantomime potential as the new season approaches. There are heroes and heroines aplenty.
Take your seats. We can’t wait to watch the drama unfold!