Keeping Tabs: "Magic" Monday
WIMBLEDON, England—Some of us call it Manic Monday, but from what I can see this morning, the term of art in London’s papers is “Magic Monday.” This is difficult for me to believe: I mean, how can’t you name a day after a 30-year-old Bangles song about a woman who’s late for work?
The tabs, of course, are really just laying the foundation for their inevitable Tuesday headline: Tragic Monday. If you read long enough this morning, you’ll come away properly frightnened of Andy Murray’s next opponent, Mikhail Youzhny, though you may be confused as to why. According to the Sunday Times,
BRITON WILL HOPE TO CAPITALIZE ON YOUZHNY’S FIERY TEMPER
Barry Flatman writes, “The 31-year-old Muscovite’s on-court tantrums during the course of his lengthy career have been so fierce that he doesn’t just lose mental control—at times he has ended up injuring his head.”
So how to explain this headline from the Independent?
MURRAY WILL NEED WITS TO OUTSMART RUSSIAN THINKER
“The term ‘student of the game’ is applied loosely to men and women across a range of sports," Paul Newman says, "but not many athletes can match the academic approach of Mikhail Youzhny.
“The 31-year-old Russian graduated from a Moscow university with a philosophy degree two years ago.”
Youzhny the great Russian philosopher, who knew? Though his thesis sounds less than esoteric: It was on something called “professional tennis.”
“You find out about other players and you try to compare them to you,” Youzhny says of the nature of his studies. “It’s quite interesting to analyze not only your own matches but also other players’ matches against other players.”
A maniac and a deep thinker: Can any of the papers sum this man up properly? The Express gives it a shot:
RAGING RUSSIAN CAN BE SMASHING OPPONENT
“Andy Murray will do well not to upset the explosive Mikhail Youzhny when he faces him on Centre Court this afternoon,” Nigel Clarke writes. “The cerebral Russian may well be a doctor of philosophy and a lover of wisdom and fundamental humanism, but he also has the reputation as a racquet smasher.”
Leave it to the Sun, though, to put it in terms all of us can understand, and make it sound like fun:
MIKHAIL IS DR YOU
Mikhail Youzhny aims to give Andy Murray a thorough examination—as the Russian is a doctor!
TELL MOM AND DAD TO STAY HOME, LAURA
That’s the tabs’ message to Laura Robson, now known in their pages as “Princess." Robson's mother and father stayed at their home in Greece last week. Dad was working, but Mom’s excuse was a little shakier: She says she can’t leave the family dogs.
Maybe a little parental distance is what’s needed. It sounds, according to the papers, like Laura has enough on her mind right now. As the Telegraph puts it:
ROBSON TAKES CENTRE STAGE AS PRESSURE RISES
Chance to become first British woman in last eight since 1984
The Independent does what it can to damp down that pressure, for both Robson and Murray:
THE HOPES OF A NATION IN THEIR HANDS...
The Sun, however, thinks Robson has what it takes, and it knows why:
Watching horror series gives Laura bite to fight back
“Laura Robson,” writes the interestingly named Vikki Orvice, “showed her killer instinct after warming up for Wimbledon by watching episodes of gory TV series Hannibal.”
Over at the Times, Martina Navratilova tries valiantly to match that analysis of Robson’s game:
ROUGH DIAMOND IN NEED OF FINAL POLISH
“Most of all she needs to work on her speed,” says the nine-time Wimbledon champion. “It would be unfair to say that she should have sorted out her speed by now. Robson is still getting used to her body. And her body type is not the quick sort; that’s just who she is, so she really has to work on it.”
“Not the quick sort”: I think those words are true, and I also hope that Laura Robson didn’t happen to read them this morning.
Sods and Ends:
—The Sun breaks out a term I’ve never heard to describe a player:
“Tomas Berdych is braced for a clash with surprise package Bernard Tomic."
The paper also hands Bernie’s father, John, a new nickname:
Bernard Tomic said his disgraced dad could have crept on to Centre Court to see his win over Richard Gasquet
—Sunday Times columnist Nick Pitt weighs in on the growing WTA GOAT debate by giving us his list of the five greatest women players of all time: (5) Suzanne Lenglen (4) Serena Williams (3) Steffi Graf (2) Margaret Court (1) Martina Navratilova
Pitt’s reasons are never fully explained, but he seems to have based his judgements on a combination of titles won and strength of competition.
—Pat Cash returns in the Sunday Times with this bold predication:
SORRY, BUT I SAY MURRAY WILL WIN
Why is Pat Cash, of all people, apologizing to us, the lowly readers—i.e, those of us who have never won Wimbledon? It seems he has tried this before and been burned.
“I know I am putting the Curse of Patrick Cash on the head of the great British hope after last week tipping Rafael Nadal for the Wimbledon title,” the newly humbled Aussie writes, “but Murray will never have a better chance.”
By the end, thankfully, Cashy’s trademark swagger has returned.
“I got it wrong about Nadal,” he concludes, in a statement that almost certainly won’t come back to haunt him, “but I am certain I have got it right this time.”
—I’ll give the last word this morning to the Times' Simon Barnes. In writing about Laura Robson, he articulates a feeling I’ve always had about watching new players arrive:
“Perhaps it’s my favorite thing in sport,” Barnes writes, “in some ways more thrilling than great achievement and genuine excellence. It’s promise, the feeling that everything is possible, that all of life stretches out before you and that all manner of wonderful things are lying in wait. It’s like being young again, but without any of the anxiety that most of us have to deal with in youth.”
On that fine and rare note of optimism from the papers, I’ll make my way to the All England Club. The sun is out, at least for the moment, and there are a lot of matches to see. As I mentioned yesterday, I’m going to try to have a look at all of them. This may be the best day of the tennis year; hope you have a chance to enjoy it.