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Soup of This Day #116: And I Can’t Believe I’m Dancing To This Crap But I’m A Chance Here

January 5, 2012

Liverpool, Nova Scotia
The bridge over the Mersey River, Liverpool, Novia Scotia. Go a little further north from here and you’ll lob into neighbouring Brooklyn, Nova Scotia. This edition of Liverpool is known as the ‘Port of the Privateers’, possibly because they keep pirating place names around there – Photo: Linglingsan, 2011. Linglingsan is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

I’m not really into tennis. It seems like the kind of sport that you’re a fan of if you play the game yourself, which Longworth72 doesn’t and never really has. Otherwise it just comes across on tv like a lot of whacking a ball at each other repetitively. I have no doubt that great skill and athleticism are involved somehow but seriously, they just keep hitting the ball backwards and forwards and backwards and… almost?

Nope, forwards again…

But fear not if this too puts you to sleep – US player Bethanie Mattek-Sands can help. She’s been described as the Lady Gaga of the tennis world.

By herself apparently.

Admittedly she isn’t getting off on the front foot with me because a. I just had to go to iTunes to identify more than 1 Lady Gaga song (Something about her Poker face in case you were wondering) and b. Once I had identified more than 1 song it turns out that Lady Gaga puts me to sleep in pretty much the same way that tennis does. If only she was described as the David Bowie of the tennis world…

Hmmmmmm… I’ve thought about that a bit more and maybe not…

Fortunately there is more to Bethanie. She is deep. In 2006 she spent the night before her singles debut at Wimbledon searching shops for football socks, chandelier earrings, running shorts and a boob-tube. Apparently it was a ‘soccer theme’, I’m guessing in honour of playing in England. Which is big on soccer.

Or ‘football’, as they like to call it in England, Bethanie.

She got thumped 6-1 6-0 in 53 minutes because it turns out that a ‘soccer theme’ is no match for Venus Williams, who spent the night before the match getting physio before going with a ‘bloody good at tennis’ theme on the day.

Also I’ve played football a lot and I’m kind of confused as to how a boob-tube and chandelier earrings fit in.

I don’t even know what a boob-tube is.

Anyway Bethanie likes to dress wild. I’ve recently had a taste of this via the 2012 Hopman Cup, the annual mixed teams tennis tournament for nations. I caught the opening set of 1 of her singles matches last night while channel surfing and she had died her hair blue, was wearing a yellow headband, a pink top (may or may not have been a boob-tube), socks up to her knees and she had stylised black stripe warpaint on her face.

With a letter ‘B’ on each cheek.

And she lost. To the Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitova, who is ranked 2nd in the world. BMS is ranked 54th so in spite of the warpaint there are no real surprises in that. Petra shunned personalized warpaint and ran out a winner 6-2 6-1.

Petra seems nice. The 2011 Wimbledon champ could possibly take the world number 1 ranking later this month but has been described by the Sydney Morning Herald as being ‘ever so shy about it’. To achieve the highest of rankings she’ll need to depose the current numero uno, Dane Caroline Wozniaki.

Woz, as I shall now refer to her, hasn’t yet won a major in her career but she is a tough cookie. On Monday she left Bangkok at 8:45am and arrived at Perth Airport, Western Australia, at 3:44pm. She cleared customs by 4:10pm, at 5:29pm was warming up on court and shortly thereafter her opening Hopman Cup match kicked off. Unfortunately for her it seemed to start without her because her opponent blasted into a 3-0 and then 5-1 lead before anyone could blink. Woz was clearly lacking rhythm and looked in trouble.

Except she wasn’t. She rocketed back to take the 1st set in a little under an hour before reeling off the 2nd set in just over half that time, 7-6 6-2. Amazingly she did so without stylised warpaint, unlike her opponent, Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Clearly Caroline can pretty much just get the job done in whatever city she rocks up in.

It’s a trait she shares with Michael Clarke, Australia’s Test cricket captain. Clarkie assumed the rank in early 2011. It’s an honoured role that is much more than symbolic but Clarke, aka Pup, who was a contentious choice to replace Ricky Ponting, took the symbolism side seriously – He even gave up modelling underwear.

It’s all paid off – He’s been on fire since assuming the captaincy and over the past 4 months in particular he’s been scorching cricket grounds around the globe. He hit 112 against Sri Lanka in Columbo in September and then 151 vs South Africa in Cape Town in November. Back in Australia he knocked out a lazy 139 against the Kiwis in Brisbane and today he notched his highest Test score of 329 not out on Day 3 of the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) Test against India. 329 is the highest ever individual score at the iconic SCG and it is the highest by an Australian captain on home soil. Clarkie has also racked up the highest ever score in Test matches between India and Australia and is just the 21st batsman (The 6th Aussie) to reach triple-figures in a Test.

Kudos to Pup for putting the team and his batting partner 1st – He was just 5 runs shy of Bradman’s 334 and within reach of the Australian record of 380 (Matthew Hayden) and the Test record of 400 (Brian Lara) when he called it a day – He put those personal markers to 1 side though and waited only for Mike Hussey to make it to 150 before declaring and giving his bowlers time to go for the win. It’s worth noting that whilst Clarke has been at the crease for parts of 3 days he wasn’t completely alone out there, sharing a partnership of 288 with former captain Ricky Ponting (134) and 334 with Western Australian veteran Hussey (150) – That’s the 1st time in history a team has posted 2 separate 250 run partnerships in the same innings and those have contributed mightily to Australia putting up a formidable 4 for 659 declared in reply to India’s 191 all out.

It hasn’t turned into a bowler’s wicket.

All of this is even more meritorious when you consider that prior to today Pup’s best was 168. He’d hit 17 previous tons and never managed a double. Now, the lad has himself a triple. On his home ground – See, Clarkie is a New South Welshman and a native of Sydney to boot, born in of all places, a suburb called Liverpool.

Which gives him another connection to Caroline Wozniaki. It turns out that, unlike Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Woz is a big fan of football and in particular Liverpool FC (Albeit the English version). She does occasionally rock out in her playing attire though – At the 2011 Qatar Ladies Open she wore a Liverpool FC shirt signed by the Reds captain Steven Gerrard. A dedicated Liverpool fan, she had made a promise to fans of the club that she would wear the shirt on court.

She did and promptly belted her opponent 6-2 6-0. That’s proper warpaint Bethanie.

Epilogue: India are 2 for 114 at stumps on Day 3, still 354 runs in arrears. They’ll have some hope though as the conditions seem benign for batting and The Little Master, Sachin Tendulkar remains not out. Meanwhile here in Perth, the 4th seeded US team of Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Mardy Fish are out of contention for the 2012 Hopman Cup, even with 1 round still to play, against Bulgaria tomorrow. To be fair to Bethanie Mattek-Sands I should mention that she teamed with John Isner to win the 2011 Hopman Cup. She did lose her singles match in the final to Justine Henin but she and Isner prevailed in the doubles after Isner bounced Ruben Bemelmans in the men’s singles. On the way to the final BMS had won all of her Group singles matches, including a 6-4 6-4 effort over then world No.7 Francesca Schiavone. And just in case you now think that Mardy Fish is therefore the problem, he has also won the Hopman Cup previously, teaming up with Serena Williams in 2008.

And I Can’t Believe I’m Dancing To This Crap But I’m A Chance Here*

*Contains some language that might be offensive. It’s not gratuitous so I’m cool with it but each to their own.

  1. I’m going to start keeping an eye out for Lady Bethanie. It appears she is a bigger hit across the pond than here. Perhaps because she is usually gone from the tourneys in the blink of an eye?

    • Yep, think you’re on the money with Bethanie – Her visibility seems to be directly proportional to her actual tennis success and inversely proportional to how loud her styling gets. Which is actually kind of nice – I like it when all of the sideshow stuff counts for naught and it’s ability on the field/court that counts.

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