The culture around tennis needs to change. We all know it’s a brutal sport; the mental side of the game is equally, if not more, taxing than the physical side. I understand that people love the game and its top players so much that they want to follow every tournament and talk about every match; but are we not all missing the bigger picture?
It’s no secret that Djokovic is not the player he was a couple years ago; he’s had physical injuries and off the court problems, that through the rumor mill, have turned into speculation about him cheating on his wife, and abandoning his entire team. The same type of speculation can be made for Del Potro, and most other top guys who go through rough patches. But that’s the sport. That’s what life is. Tough times mixed with good- why do we love to talk about these guys like the things they’re going through don’t also happen to us? We build them up as perfect, herculean athletes when they’re on top, just to rip them down when they start to struggle.
That’s not what sport is for. Sport should be a celebration of physical and mental strength and, in an ideal world, personal development. None of us know what these guys are doing in their personal lives, so why do we talk about it online? It’s OK to say that Nishikori is struggling, and give factual evidence about changes he’s made to his game- that’s great, but leave the rumors out of it. Our sport doesn’t need that.
Today in Madrid, Dusan Lajovic beat Juan Martin Del Potro in a third set breaker; what a day for him! Why are we not celebrating him? It’s been the best week of his career. And Kyle Edmund is rolling into the Quarters as well, having beaten Medvedev, Djokovic, and Goffin. And now he’s set to meet Denis Shapovalov, who’s beaten Sandgren, Paire, and Raonic. Edmond and Shapovalov in the Quarters is surprising and inspiring; we should focus on them! There are tons of stories to talk about, but we choose to get stuck on Djokovic and Rafa for the billionth time. To me, that’s played out.
We all know that tennis in an unforgiving game to play; all but one guy will win the tournament this week, everyone else will have to hit the showers after a loss. But why can’t we celebrate the good days as much as we feel the hurt on the bad ones? Djokovic will find his way just like the rest of us find ours. There’s no need to speculate about what he’s doing, just enjoy what he is. Athletes struggle; they have to accept that reality before they even step on court, but that’s part of the fun. It’s really just about going through the good and bad times, and knowing they’re equally as valuable for the player, and should be equally fun for the fans to watch. We watch sports because we don’t know what will happen, so enjoy the unknown and try to show these guys some love.