Emma’s Random (Tennis) Thoughts

1 Hector and Achilles Part Two

In part 1 of Hector and Achilles, Iram asked me if I loved the movie Troy and Greek mythology.  Iram was half right.  I’ve never seen the movie Troy (I saw a few scenes on TV once) but I do love Greek Mythology.  I tried to read the Iliad about 5 years ago, but I gave up halfway through the epic poem.  The poem is so violent, and it’s incredibly gory, to the point where it actually became boring, so I never actually read the account of Achilles’ battle with Hector.  I decided to change that last night.  As I read, my thoughts once again turned to the Australian Open Final. 

First of all, I was struck by Hector’s attitude as he faced death.  When he realizes that his death is upon him, he cries out.

“So now I meet my doom.  Well let me die-

but not without struggle, not without glory, no,

in some great clash of arms that even men to come

will hear of down the years!” 

Does that remind you of anyone? 

The second thought was about Achilles’ reaction to his victory.  Achilles knew (can’t remember why, probably due to an oracle) that he would not survive the Trojan War.  Moreover, he knew that he would die shortly after the death of Hector.  As a result Achilles, by killing Hector, is not only slaying the great Trojan warrior, he is sealing his own doom.  Achilles’ speech following the death of Hector is both a speech of triumph or personal exhaultation, tanting Hector’s corpse, but Achilles also references his own coming death, and his willingness to meet it.  He knows that his own death will come soon. 

The last thought I had was that perhaps I should cut Nole some slack for his post-match behavior.  I don’t approve of him tearing off his shirt, beating his chest and the like.  That being said, when Achilles defeated the noble Hector, “the breaker of horses,”  Achilles attached Hector’s lifeless body to the back of his chariott and rode off, dragging Hector’s corspe behind him.  I prefer the shirt tearing approach. 

2 Liking Nole

  As I said before, I am a Rafa fan, and have been ever since the 2006 French Open, so even though I don’t hate Nole, it’s been increasingly difficult to like Nole over the past year.  And yet, even though I don’t necessarily want to be a Nole fan, I want to like Nole.  I was thinking, and writing about this, on Arienna Lee’s Extreme Western Grip blog.  We are both trying to like Nole, and it’s funny the kind of mental tricks that we employ to like him. 

You’ll notice that I refer to Novak Djokovic as Nole, and that’s a deliberate choice.  I never really called him that until after Wimbledon, when I realized that I could easily start hating Nole, if I wasn’t careful.  In order to counteract that, I began calling him Nole instead of Novak or Djokovic.  I figured that nicknames at least give the illusion of a kind of affection, so perhaps if I spoke about him with a nickname, I could trick myself into liking him, or at least not hating him. 

Another thing that helped was seeing the footage of him crying after the Davis Cup last year.  No, it wasn’t a sadistic joy, but at that moment Nole, for the first time in months, seemed vulnerable human being.  I felt compassion for him, and wanted to console him.I also defended Nole against a blogger who called him “a dangerous Serbian nationalist” and this helped as well.   

Arienna Lee felt that Jelena, Nole’s girlfriend, gave a softer side to Nole’s team, and the fact that she liked Nole helped Arienna to like Nole a little bit. 

Liking Nole, when you’re a Rafa fan, is a tricky proposition, and involes a kind of trickery, tricking yourself and playing mind games with yourself.  It’s certainly not easy, under present circumstances. 

Not to mention, the best way to punish Nole is to ignore him. 

3 Rafa is not Hamlet

I wanted to write this earlier, but I wanted to comment on Pete Bodo’s observation that Rafa was being “Hamlety.”  I don’t think that Rafa was being “Hamlety” at all, certainly not in the later rounds of the Australian Open.  It’s also hard to find a man wearing a blindingly lime green shirt acting “Hamlety.” 

Not only that but, much as I love Rafa, I don’t think he has it in him to be “Hamlety.”  Yes, Hamlet can be melancholy and morose, but Hamlet also has tremendous insight into himself and into all of those around him.  Throughout the play he spends precious time that he could be using to kill his uncle analyzing himself and criticizing himself, and seeing through the illusions of others.  I’m not sure Rafa lives on such a cerebral plane.  Indeed, if his autobiography is any indication, he doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking or feeling very deeply. 

In other words, I very much doubt that we will read a post-match press conference with Rafa that will sound anything like this. 

Q: Rafa after you went down a break, you seemed to serve a lot more timidly for the rest of the set.  Do you care to comment about that? 

Rafa: Am I a coward? 

Who calls me “villian?” breaks my pate across?

Plucks off my beard and blows it in my face?

Tweaks me by the nose? gives me the lie i’ th’ throat

As deep as to the lungs?  Who does me this? 

Ha!  ‘Swounds, I should take it!  For it cannot be

But I am pigeon-livered and lack gall

To make oppression bitter or ere this

I should have fatted all the regions kites

with this slave’s offal.  Bloody, bawdy villian! 

Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villian. 

O vengeance!

Nope,  can’t see it. 

That being said, if Rafa is Hamlet, who are the other characters?  It’s not easy to see.  Is Novak Claudius, or Laertes?  Is Roger Old Hamlet?  And I certainly can’t see Xisca as Ophelia. 

Definitely not Hamlet. 

4 Oh Caroline…

 Speaking of Danes, let’s turn again to Caroline Wozniacki.  Caroline, following her loss in the Quarter Finals at the Australian Open, has fired her coach after two months, and will once again be coached by her dad. 

This is one thing that bothers me about Caroline; her father’s omnipresence.  I thought about this a few months ago when I wrote my Caroline Wozniacki post.  The post said that her coach felt that majors were important, and her father felt that being number 1 was more important.  At no point in the article did the reporter say what Caroline thought was more important. 

I thought about this in her recent coaching decision.  Who fired her coach, Caroline, or her father?  Where does Caroline want to take her game and her career? 

Caroline, it’s Emma.  I’m curious, what do you want?  No, don’t look over at your fath…Hey!  Mr. Wozniacki, your daughter is not a ventriloquist dummy so take your hand off the back of her neck!  In fact, why don’t you just leave the room?  Ok, much better.  Caroline, what do you want? 

You know, the last time I posted on Caroline Wozniacki, I posted this song as a palate cleanser.  But I think that this song might help Caroline, so Caroline, I’m posting this song for you.  Please, put this song on your I-Pod, sing it in the shower, let it sink into your very bone marrow.  I think it will do you good.  And even if it doesn’t, it’s still a great song. 

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12 Responses to Emma’s Random (Tennis) Thoughts

  1. new fan on the blog says:

    Hello Emma, I try not to comment at too many blogs or websites at the same time, but I owe you a response to your thoughts about Novak and Nationalism.
    But first to Greek mythology: I love the Ilias and the Odyssee, too; can’t remember, how many times I’ve read first the stories, later the poems (in German translation, of course). They are better, when read aloud. A lot of writers felt compelled to quote mythology after the final, and indeed, Hector, Achilles and their epic fight (how many time did they go round the walls of Troja? 10 times?) come to mind. I always loathed Achilles, because I perceived him as a dumb, sulking hulk, who showed not an ounce of respect to Hector’s familiy, when he dragged his body through the dust. Also Achilles basically won because the gods had somehow decided to keep him alive. Hector had no chance, and he knew it, but he gave a great fight nevertheless. Who couldn’t love Hector, especially, when Eric Bana played him, lol! I hated the movie by the way, but Bana, Pitt and Bloom were great eye candy! Now, the Djoker is not dumb and vindictive, his post match win behaviour is certainly not as bad as Achilles’, but there’s definitely room for improvement. As for liking him: You probably have read my long comment at QR’s blog. I don’t feel one bit compelled to even try to like him. I don’t want to use tricks and deceive my mind into liking him, why should I? Either it comes spontaneously from my heart or it would not be real for me. And since I’m not a journo, who has to praise him now, it’s not important for anyone if I like him or not. But my mind is alway open for change. Should he do something, which really touches my heart, I might start to like him. For a start, he could stop beating up Rafa,lol! But, if I like him or not, is of no consequence whatsoever for Novak, so I don’t worry overmuch about it. I don’t believe into vilifying athletes, I don’t like, though; and I’m with you: concerning the dangerous nationalist question. I think, he made some mistakes, but I don’t believe him to be especially dangerous, though I have to do some more research about that video message question, and it’s interesting, that he used his new found celebrity as the new AO champ 2008 immediately for something beyond his reach and experience; very much in character, isn’t it?
    I read, you have very important operation coming up in a few days? I wish you all the best. Try not to fear overmuch for your voice; the chances of permanent damage seem to be small. Try to take one step at a time. First, the operation itself has to go well; then I wish you the best possible outcome, concerning the big C question. Then , whatever the results are,you have to find a new normality in life again. As we say in Germany, I will squeeze my thumbs for you, which means, I will root for you!

    • That doesn’t surpise me that the Illiad and the Odyssey are better read aloud, a lot of poems are, since you get the rhythm much more clearly when it’s read aloud. Shakespeare certainly needs to be read aloud. Achilles is definitely a dumb, sulking hulk. Most of the epic poem is simply him having a tantrum! You know, for all our talk about Greek culture, the Greeks clearly valued fighting and warfare as much as the Romans did.
      As for Nole, it’s complicated. First of all, I never disliked him until he started beating Rafa. I actually pulled for him to beat Roger at the AO last year, because I thought Roger had enough Grand Slams. (I didn’t realize I was creating a monster!) But even if I don’t like him, I at least want to tolerate him, considering he’s going to be around for a long time. (Besides, I’m working on getting my teacher’s license, and this will be good practice for finding the good in my students, including the ones I don’t like. :))

      Yeah, after I wrote my article about Djokovic and Serbia, I realied that it was the word “dangerous” that I objected to. If she had said, “Djokovic is a Serbian nationalist who is using his popularity to futher his own narrow interests,” I would have been fine with that. Yes, he’s a Serbian nationalist, and who doesn’t use their assets to further their own interests? I do.

      Thanks for your concern about the surgery! Yep, taking it one day at a time is the only way to take it. Thanks for squeezing your thumbs, great expression! (German has some great expressions.)

  2. new fan on the blog says:

    When I wrote, dont’ worry overmuch about your voice, I didn’t want to be patronizing. Of course you worry. This one step ( or rather one worry) at a time is just an approach, which worked for me always very well. I’ve had some important and live changing operations in the past decade, so I can imagine, how you might feel. Again, all the best.

  3. ariennalee says:

    Yeah, I’m not sure this new/old coaching situation is going to do Caroline much good. I actually didn’t think she did so poorly at the AO, she just needs to develop more and I don’t know that her father can get her there. I was looking forward to not having her as #1 anymore, but now we’ve got Vika, so…

    There was an awful lot of mythological/classical referential stuff going on with Novak/Rafa (sorry, it’s going to take me awhile to get back to Nole) this year, wasn’t there? I know whose nose I’d like to tweak!

    • Yeah, I don’t understand this decision. She seems to be going with “more of the same,” and that’s not going to get her over the hump. With Vika and Petra developing, she may not be able to count on winning smaller tournaments to build up her ranking to number 1 again. Plus, the guy was her coach for two months! What did they think was going to happen in two months? Strange, strange, strange.

  4. Bebe says:

    Wow, love your blog! Am impressed and appreciative of your taking the time to make all the literary references and connections. Love what Hector said! So glad people like you analyze literature and spare me the job of re-reading works like The Iliad or the Odyssey, both of which I suffered through in freshman English; and Hamlet (which I loved reading once in high school but have no urge to revisit). And I’m not being sarcastic here–I said the same thing to a French & Arabic Studies Professor friend of mine when he sent me his book “Freedom, Slavery, and Absolutism: Corneille, Pascal, Racine”. Cool book!
    On another topic, I’m glad you and Arienna are trying to like Nole. You guys will take one for the team, I guess, eh? “Cause I’m not even gonna try.

    • Thanks! I try. I’m constantly trying to read more, and regretting that for every book I finish, I’ve added three to five more to the “books I want to read” list! Grrr!!!!!!!

      Yep, we’re both trying. I’m trying for several reasons. First of all, I’m working on my teaching license, and I know I’ll have to find the good in all my students, otherwise it’ll be a recipe for disaster. Second of all, I never disliked Nole before he started beating Rafa. I actually rooted for Nole to beat Roger at last year’s AO (I know, I know, trust me, I had no idea what was to come.) Third of all, he’s not going anywhere, so I may at least learn to like him. Fourth, there is only one athlete in the world whom I hate, and that is LeBron James. I refuse to divert any of my hate away from LeBron James towards someone else.

      • Bebe says:

        LeBron James….I’m sure if I followed basketball, I would hate him, too.

        I was a teacher for ten years in my pre-children life, and you know what? It was amazingly easy to find something good in all my students! In a decade, I have to say I disliked one student, and that was only because he called me a bitch at the end of my last year. So, no worries there. I can tell you’ll have no problem!

      • Thanks, glad to hear that I won’t have a problem. Hope so!

        Yes, I am from Cleveland, so it is a requirement of living here that I will hate LeBron James. Easy enough. I don’t even follow basketball, but I still hate him. Must hate him. So easy to hate him.

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