Monday, September 10, 2012

Grand Slam Tennis - Politics And Sports Don't Mix

When interviewed about their troubled nation's past, each one can remember those frightening days and troublesome times. Knowing that they possess a special talent in sports, particularly tennis, it gave them something to dream for. They may not admit it directly but tennis has provided them an opportunity to flee the harsh conditions of a nation in strife. And it gave them a bright future, of something to look forward too.

It seems sad to read about news reports that right after the match between Djokovic and Amer Delic, an American born in Bosnia, was finished with Djokovic winning it in four sets, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4), Serbian and Bosnian nationalities clashed on tournament grounds. One innocent bystander, a female, got hit by the chair throwing incident but escaped unhurt. Police charged two people for the melee and evicted 30 people from the tennis grounds. Those taken off were young lads in their late teens of early twenties and of Balkan ancestry. It apparently started when Bosnian supporters were beginning to get rattled by the ongoing Serbian celebrations since Djokovic was leading the match. It escalated into a chair throwing competition as described by state police.

Credit goes to the two tennis players who didn't let the brewing tension among the fans affect them. Instead, they were so focused in their respective tasks to win the match that they produced some great tennis stroke rallies. I wanted Djokovic to lose the fourth set only because I didn't want the match to end. I didn't realize though that some of the fans were beginning to become unruly. Delic then posted a message in the Web, encouraging fans to be calm after he experienced some disruptions in a previous match. Djokovic refused to comment about the incident, preferring to let the tournament officials deal with enforcing security control. Novak Djokovic's coach sat in the stands and had a first hand encounter on how these fans caused tension and how it can interrupt the players.

It surprised me further to learn that not only was there a fracas in the Djokovic-Delic match but in another tennis match involving Marin Cilic of Croatia and Tipsarevic. This time it was some Serbian fans who after witnessing their countryman lost his match against Cilic, went straight to a bar and then had an encounter with Croatian supporters that caused two people to be thrown out of the bar.

Ivan Ljubicic isn't thrilled with what this kind of supporters are doing. He claims that these people watch the event to promote their respective political agenda and not necessarily support the players. He may be right about that but ever since the venue for the Australian Open has been moved to Melbourne Park, the surroundings have provided a more laid back ambiance. Nowadays, you can see these die hard supporters who carry their respective national flags, have their faces painted with their flags' colors and sing songs in their native languages.

I, for once, have attended these games and I do agree that the crowd does help the players push on to the next level. But let our support for our favorite players be not carried away to cross boundaries of civility and common sense. Because at the end of the day, all we want is to watch a good match and bask in the moment of the experience. No one wants to go to jail anyway, or do some people really want to?

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