Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The right way to celebrate

OK. Fine. You’re happy.
Roger Federer should be, darn it. Last month, he won his twelfth Grand Slam at the U.S. Open. Winning a Grand Slam is probably quite mind-consuming. The fact that it’s over with is a relief for anyone playing under that kind of pressure.
It’s got to stop, though. The dropping-to-your-knees celebration. The crying game. Come on, you’re Roger Federer, for crikey’s sake. If you want to dramatically kiss the grass after your first Wimbledon, that’s understandable. But winning is sort of a fact of life for guys like you. When you reach double-digit major titles, it’s time to suck it up.
Unfortunately, since Fed’s the No. 1 player in the world, the other guys in the locker room insist on copying him.
Like Andy Roddick. He can’t beat Federer on the court, so he’ll join him in the lame post-match celebration antics. After locking up the Davis Cup final against Sweden a couple weeks ago, he collapsed on his side to the ground, like a ballerina. I’m shaking my head in disapproval right now.
This is an issue that needs to be addressed. It’s right up there with fixed tennis matches and doping. Some very stringent, very definite big-match celebration models are needed, and everyone (Roger Federer) — everyone (… Roger …) — will need to follow them.
For example:
The skyward fist: Simple, strong, confident. It says, “I won. Duh. What’d you expect?”
The four-cornered wave and kiss: Andre Agassi popularized this form of celebration in his later years on tour. It’s very good for someone who knew the sands were running through the hourglass on his career. This celebration, though, is approaching overuse by such players as Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams, who are just a touch younger, and who do it after every single match.
Applauding the crowd: “Hey, spectators, thanks for not a whole lot. I did the running, the hitting, the acing. But at least someone was here to watch me lay down the butt-whupping.”
Tossing the racquet: It’s a celebration that reflects a moment of unbridled emotion, so it’s acceptable and fun. A note of caution: Those without a racquet deal might want to restrain themselves.
Jumping the net to shake opponent’s hand: Besides the obvious risk you could end up looking like Jonny Fairplay after a reverse horsey-back ride from Danny Bonaduce, it might look like you just can’t wait to rub the opponent’s face in it. And that’s a long way to walk for a cold-fish handshake.
Showing off other talents: Gustavo Kuerten endeared thousands of fans by drawing a huge heart in the clay at Roland Garros and collapsing in its center. Novak Djokovic did dead-on imitations of other tennis players, including Sharapova and Rafael Nadal. (If you’re near a computer and need a laugh, check out Djokovic singing “I Will Survive” on YouTube.) Nothing says “show-off” like a jack-of-all-trades, though. And the victor should try not to imitate the player they’ve just beaten.

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