First we had the Mobot, then the Kubot.
Mo Farah thrilled Centre Court crowds last week from his seat in the Royal Box with a one-off rendition of his iconic Olympic victory gesture. The big question today was whether ‘the Kubot’ – an equally distinctive celebratory dance routine trademarked by the high-kicking-and-dancing Pole, Lukasz Kubot – would extend its run on grass with a historic fourth consecutive Wimbledon rendition.
The Kubot, for those unfamiliar with Polish victory dances (and it’s not as specialist a subject as you might think), is a more prolonged celebration than the Mobot. It starts after the statutory handshake with opponent and umpire. Lucasz then removes his cap, holds his arms aloft, walks to the far side of the court and rushes towards his support team in the stands performing a series of hops, knee lifts and high Can-Can kicks on alternate legs. It is quite something to behold.
So the excitement of seeing two Polish men in the last 16 – for the first time at a Grand Slam in the Open Era – created an enthusiastic buzz not restricted to their compatriots. After Jerzy Janowicz, the No.24 seed from Łodz, valiantly defeated Jurgen Melzer of Austria over five sets on Court 12, all eyes swivelled towards Kubot, the 31-year-old journeyman from Bolesławiec who was going head-to-head for the first time with the Frenchman Adrian Mannarino. Even the most ardent Polish tennis historians admitted it would be worth seeing him win just to expose his celebratory dance to a wider audience.
Polish sport is arguably known more for its distinguished dance routines than its on-field achievements. Football fans will be familiar with the ‘Poznan’ – initiated by supporters of Polish football club Lech Poznań in 1961 – which involves supporters standing with their backs to the pitch, linking shoulders side-by-side and jumping on the spot in unison. It has been adopted by Celtic in Scotland and, most theatrically, by Manchester City supporters in England.
Oh the anticipation... Kubot and Mannarino started the day ranked 130 and 111 in the world, respectively – the lowest remaining in this year’s draw – and had not played each other before. The result of the match was never going to represent a heightening of rivalry. It would stand simply as a Kubot-or-Not result.
I had high hopes of bringing news of the result sooner, but Kubot and Mannarino seemed intent on entering an Isner-Mahut time zone...
But, here he is serving for the match at 5-4 in the deciding set. 15-0, 30-0, 40-0, 40-15... Victory!
He kneels down with his back to the net, thumps the ground, then walks back for a brotherly handshake with Mannarino, then the chair umpire. He removes his cap, drops his racket, ruffles his hair, holds his arms aloft clapping, then, hop, kick, hop, kick, all the way into the stands and the last eight of the 2013 Championships .
With Janowicz through too, that’s a 25 per cent Polish presence in the gentlemen’s singles quarter-finals. That's more history. And another opportunity to watch spectators thrill to ‘the Kubot’, this time on Centre or No.1 Court. Roll on Wednesday!