Sport / Columnists

Jon Swift
2 minute read
1 Feb 2017
1:26 pm

Courting wrath of the Scot in Aussie Open

Jon Swift

The lure of watching two tennis greats proves too much

Jon Swift

It was unusual for the Demented Irish Miner to be one of the less voluble members of the usual gathering; his preferred brand of communication being continued interjection liberally laced with his unique application of the chaos theory.

The reason for this was twofold; the focus of attention was the men’s singles final between Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal at the Australian Open and a raucous young group of enthusiasts who had democratically divided themselves down the middle and where cheering each winning point from their chosen favourite. Not even the Demented One in full cry could manage to outdo that.

But he was not to be denied and turned his attention on the Incomprehensible Scot, a man who loves “tha tennus” as he does “tha goff” and “tha fitba” and has even made a pilgrimage to Wimbledon. “This,” said the Demented One, squaring up his Scots companion, “is a game for sissies. Tennis … only girls play tennis. Can’t we watch the golf in Doha instead? Even golf is better than tennis.”

Despite giving his companion a look of disdain, the Incomprehensible One turned his attention back to an epic final, pointedly ignoring the slight – intended or merely unthinking – aimed at him. “Tha boyz can pley,” he commented between points as first Federer opened proceedings by taking the opening set 6-4 before Nadal fought back to win the second set 6-3 to level matters. The raucous enthusiasts grew ever livelier and the decibel level cranked up a gear as each faction cheered on their preferred champion, and derided his opponent.

“Tha canna carrie on a thapayce,” said the the Incomprehensible One as the Miner continued to witter on about motorcycles and other inconsequential issues not vagely related to the tennis tableau before him. But in his assessment the Scot had misjudged the inner strengths of both players as shot after marvellous shot carved out a continuance of one of the most fiercely fought rivalries in the game, the third set going to the 35-year-old Swiss 6-1 but then his Spanish opponent, five years his junior, getting second wind to take the next 6-3 and take the match into the exhausting realm of a championship five-setter.

“Tha canna gie anna moor than tha have,” said the Scot. Wrong again. They could before the anti-climax of a challenged line call went Federer’s way for a 6-3 deciding scoreline in three hours 38 minutes on a rapt Rod Laver Arena, gave the Swiss a record 18th Grand Slam triumph.

“Tha was sooch a graayt finul,” he said of the outcome. “I didna woory who wun.” It was a perfect analysis of the match, but the Incomprehensible One had one last thing to add. “Ya ken yon’s a gayme fa sussies,” he said pointing at the Miner. “I ken ye’d no get a singul poynt af either tha Williams susters.”

Even the Demented One declined to dispute that.