Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Azarenka Loses in Quarterfinals, Takes it out on Her Racket

I  have never understood the desire of tennis players to beat their racket into submission.  They say a good craftsman never blames his tools, but for tennis players who are going through a difficult day, the racket becomes the target of aggression, often ending its already short shelf life. The most famous racket mauling might be John McEnroe's pounding that led to his default from the Australian Open in 1990, but countless other smaller wounds have been inflicted, including today when Victoria Azarenka played poorly and made mincemeat out of her racket in the process.  Vika (I notice that more and more tennis reporters feel we have to shorten the women's players' names to cute little nicknames...I don't like it, but want to fit in) lost to Ekaterina Makarova in rather dominating fashion and after falling down a break in the second set, gave her racket the business. It didn't survive and neither did Azarenka, going down in a whimper after all the of the early anger.

After the match, Victoria's publicist let everyone know that part of the reason Azarenka may have played poorly (and been a bit cranky) was she had food poisoning from sushi she had eaten on Monday night. I generally have two rules in my own personal life about sushi, never eat in an airport and never while competing for a US Open. But Vika clearly did not follow the second (no word if she potentially broke the first by dining at Laguardia) and her sluggish play could have been a result. After the match, Azarenka was asked about the evil sushi and she denied it playing any part...something that directly conflicted with what her publicist had previously said. Never has the official party line been so directly disputed by an individual since Charles Barkley claimed to be misquoted in his autobiography, but Vika stuck by the position, even getting angry when asked about it repeatedly. She left the press conference frustrated and exited the US Open with a bit of a cloud, after an otherwise successful week.

So Azarenka is now out, Makarova moves on to be Serena's Semifinal sacrificial lamb and we are left with the happiest person in New York being this woman, who ended up with Vika's smashed racket which she will now surely cherish forever.  "Look kids, remember when mommy was at that match where the pro tennis player went nuts and smashed her equipment....well here it is!!!!"

AP photo