When Rafa Nadal crashed out, a million women put hands to heart and worried about how upset he would be. The relief on hearing his philosophical post-match comment was huge. Remarkably, he was able to put the shock-loss disappointment into perspective: “[I] play against an inspired opponent and I am out. That's all. Is not a tragedy. Is only a tennis match. At the end, that's life. There [are] much more important things. Sure, I wanted to win, but I lost. That's it.”
Compare this to Ivo Karlovic’s rant about British bias after his second-round exit, and it makes you wonder how many players live up to those lines of Kipling that hang above the entrance to Centre Court – “If you can meet with triumph and disaster / And treat those two imposters just the same…”
Karlovic maintained he had not suffered a 5-7, 7-6, 2-6, 6-7 defeat to Andy Murray, but to the linesmen. Asked what made the difference in the tightly fought contest, he claimed: “Foot faults. I don’t know what to say, but it was a little bit outrageous. In my whole life, ever since I was eight years old, whole life I didn’t do this many foot fault. It was like 11. It was never called when it was like 30-Love or 40-Love. It was always when it was 30-All or in a tiebreak. After this match, the whole credibility of this tournament went down for me…I feel cheated.”
Caroline Wozniacki did not get to be a world No.1 without being a consummate pro. She put on a stoic show after a momentary image wobble. “It was a good match, good tennis, but that doesn’t help me. I lost in the first round. Tomorrow no one will remember how good a match it was, they’ll just remember who won… You’re going through periods where you’re lucky, you’re not playing great, but you win the matches anyway. Then you go through periods where it’s not going your way. You just need to get through it…”
For Bernard Tomic, who last year got through the qualies, reached the quarters and took a set off Djokovic, the loss to up-and-coming Belgian David Goffin might be one of those rock-bottom reality-bites moments. Candidly he admitted he had not been working hard enough. “To have talent is one thing, but in the last few months I have not been using my hard work to get me where I had been getting last year. I slacked off a bit and look what it's costing me. Last eight, nine weeks, I'm losing a lot of first, second rounds. So it's not my quality of tennis. My quality of tennis should be getting me to semi-finals, finals, or even winning, but lack of concentration, not working hard, it costs you… It's something I'll learn.”
Most common is the toss-of-the-coin air of resignation. James Ward put his long five-set loss to Mardy Fish down to “ups and downs…In the end, he was just a little bit better than me” and Gilles Simon gave credit to Xavier Malisse for playing “the right shot at the right moment”. Sam Stosur found a teeny positive to take home, having won three sets this year, three more than last year. Will someone please tell Anne Keothavong not to be so tough on herself? The British No.1, playing against French Open finalist Sara Errani no less, did not leave her 6-1, 6-1 loss ‘on court’. “She's better at [rallying] than I am. I just felt like I forced it a bit too much....I managed to kind of just hit myself off the court, I guess…”
Don’t worry Anne. Is only a tennis match.