Unashamedly about tennis

Sam Querrey is currently playing Marin Cilic, an unexpected pairing for this year’s Wimbledon semi-finals. The commentator has just said that many people will have come to watch really wanting to see Roger Federer (he’s up next), but in the meantime will have stayed to cheer for “one guy or the other”.

I was planning anyway to post about how we decide who to support.

Most of us who love Wimbledon would find it difficult to watch a match without cheering on one guy/woman “or the other.”

How do we choose which? (I have a friend with a very idiosyncratic reason for supporting Sam Querrey.)


  • the British player
  • the better-looking player
  • the player we happen to believe is a nice person
  • the player who looks like the nicer person
  • the player playing against an unpleasant/ugly person
  • the player playing against the American/Russian/Chinese/North Korean according to choice
  • the underdog
  • the player we have heard of
  • the player whose style of tennis we admire or enjoy
  • the amazing champion
  • the player playing against the Media darling
  • any number of reasons.

Some of these reasons may conflict. For instance, yes, let’s support the underdog, but you’d have to be pretty ruthless/strong-willed to actually want (say) Serena Williams to suffer the humiliation of losing in the first round.

And perhaps as we get older, we are more likely to support the established champion over the teenage upstart? Or less likely?

I am trying to work out why I am unkindly ambivalent about supporting Johanna Konta this year.

It’s not as if her transition from Australian to British was contrived or inappropriate. She represented Australia until 2012, but her parents had moved to the UK when she was 14, and she spent the rest of her teenage years here.

And yet if we were going to have a British woman champion for the first time since 1977, why would I prefer it to be Heather Watson or Laura Robson?

I think it’s partly a combination of underdog and “player we have heard of”. Yes, the unknown giant-killer (this year, Gilles Muller) is fun. Boris Becker won out of nowhere in 1985, but I personally prefer to have seen the amazing winner before the year they win the championship.

We’ve watched Watson slowly grow, year by year; as we watched Andy Murray. It’s not true that Konta arrived in Britain fully formed, as she has made a massive leap forward in the last year or so. But she was already a professional when she came, and somehow that makes me a little bit prejudiced.

(Also the fact that she was “the bookies’ favourite” at a time when she was seeded 6, and seeds numbers 1, 2, 4 and 5 were still in the draw. Although the bookies do seem to have called that one right.)

Or maybe I’m just prejudiced against Australians? Or against anyone who changes nationality without being a refugee? Oops.

I think I’d better stop there.

Love from the PPI Blogger

PS Cilic has just won.

  • Malachi Malagowther

    14th July 2017 at 5:22 pm Reply

    I think part of the problem with Johanna is that she isn’t properly English. We may accept her as “British” but she is definitely provincial with a rather Australian/central European otherness about her while Heather and Laura are more like an English rose of the sort that Virginia Wade represented. Greg Rudetski had the same problem as Johanna with a Polish name and Canadian background. It’s even true of Andy Murray to some extent as although he is definitely British he is just as definitely not English. Fortunately he can get away with it because there haven’t been any English playing at his level since Tim Henman retired.

  • Judith Leader

    16th July 2017 at 4:42 pm Reply

    I was in India in at the time of the 1999 elections and someone said to me why in all of India do we have to vote for an Italian – I saw his point.
    Not having television (I will apply for one when I am 75 if I live that long) I really miss Wimbledon, about the only thing I do.
    I remember people saying about Ivan Lendal (can’t remember the spelling) how he never smiled which seemed ludicrous to me as I was more interested in how he played as apposed to whether he smiled or not. I tended to back the person I felt played well however I too had my favourites like Roger Federer and the Williams sisters. Patriotism past me by for some reason or perhaps I am just perverse.
    Judith Leader

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