I’m a little late to the game, but it’s time for me to say my piece about little Bernie.
Tomic, that is.
I talked a lot about this boy last year, having been one of the few brave-hearted souls who stuck around and braved turning into pumpkins to watch him take on Marin Cilic in 5 sets in the 2nd round. That was 2010. In 2011, Bernie’s got the formula down pat, taking on two Top-50 players of extraordinary hotness (which seems to be completely relevant, Jeremy Chardy and Feli Lopez, to be precise) in his first rounds and setting up a Saturday Night Hot Date with the Prom King himself, Rafa.
While half of Australia mouthed off about the glorious future of Australian tennis and the others rolled their collective eyes at the spectacle BraTomic was making again, I sat quietly in the corner (perhaps mumbling to myself). Not even a Tweet was uttered. Because, while I had no interest in seeing Rafa crash out early, and in my heart of hearts hoped he would be the sole survivor, I also was quietly, calmly, excitedly, happy to see our Great New Aussie Hope do well.
See, there’s this condition I’ve recently been suffering from, and every day I spend at Melbourne Park it gets harder and harder to overcome.
It’s called Davis Cup Envy.
It started on Day 2, when I found myself at my 2nd Serbian match of the day, at the House of Ajde on Court 18. I screamed myself hoarse for Ruski favourite Dimitry as he was swiftly taken apart by Viktor Troicki, and marvelled at how only a few short weeks ago, I’d been Ajde’ing him from my Brooklyn apartment (bed, shall we be honest?) at the Davis Cup final. Finding myself sitting with some members of the Serbian tennis contingent with no knowledge of who they actually were, I spotted Nenad at the sidelines and later, on returning for Janko’s match, saw the whole crew again. The next night, at Novak’s match, as we slipped into the rows behind the player box, spotting Papa Djoe’s and Marion’s head, we found our Serbian friends yet again. And the twinges began.
The next night, I whet my appetite at Mikey Llodra’s match against Chela before moving into full-Frenchie-frenzy on Margaret Court Arena as Tsonga’s supporters grew in strength and noise. After days of watching Frenchie stunts all over the grounds, it couldn’t be denied. The twinges were growing closer together.
Several days later, congregating on Margaret Court Arena to watch Nico (Nico Nico!) being ushered on the Spanish Armada, killing him off swiftly and silently, the twinges intensified. By the time I was at Tommy’s 3rd round match on Friday afternoon, my coach magnet having me sandwiched between Marc Lopez and Tommy’s own coaches, the Armadians vamosing in a sea of red tipped me over the edge.
I was in serious Davis Cup Envy territory.
The Argentinians, the Spaniards, the Frenchies, the Serbians. They all bring it out of me.
I want me one of them find cups, and I want it now.
And having a kid like Bernie around gets me closer and closer to that day.
In a sport like tennis, that’s all about individual, we don’t often get nationalistic. The Australian Open differs from most other slams, that all of a sudden everyone’s face painting and flag-swathing and reminding everyone that their auntie’s grandma’s petsitter’s boyfriend is from Montenegro. Actually, just kidding. Australia is an awesome place in that 99% of the people you will encounter down the street tell you they are from another country, and it’s not uncommon to ask someone, “What Nationality are you?” same as you ask them their name. But despite the huge volume of navy flags and green and gold facepaint around the joint, it’s the Serbians, Greek Cypriots and Spaniards who have something to dance about while us Aussies dance to a dying tune by the time the second week starts.
So let’s stop whingeing about his whingeing, and set a nice example. The boy plays interesting tennis, and he’s going to make it real interesting in the years to come. I’m behind him. And if, somewhere in the mix, he gets to pose in a green-and-gold tracksuit with a pretty silver cup? I believe my symptoms may subside.