National pride is a great thing especially when a player comes to take on the opposition in a tie of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas or the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas. However, when national pride comes between two players...
National pride is a great thing especially when a player comes to take on the opposition in a tie of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas or the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas. However, when national pride comes between two players from the same country then it’s not a good thing. So what is it about such a situation that becomes so divisive? You’ve got to wonder why that you have such situations within some nations in tennis. At times it’s almost unbearable for the two leading players to be in the same room. It’s pretty sad really, don’t you think? Is it just human nature; is it that sense of competitiveness that takes over or could it boil down to jealousy? Each one wants to be the best in their country. Then you have fans that support one of the players and not the other, etc. It’s nothing new in tennis. This sort of thing has been going on for decades. While they are friends now, it wasn’t so long ago that Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe really didn’t exchange too many words and during their playing days it was next to impossible to have them in the same room together. Boris Becker and Michael Stich could not stand one another and even now there is not much love lost. Incredibly they never played a Davis Cup final together. Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski were never really friendly. Okay some of that had to do with the fact that Rusedski was originally Canadian and he turned him back on that country when he could see that the benefits were greater playing for Great Britain. In Spain you either liked Arantxa Sanchez Vicario or you liked Conchita Martinez. Certainly the two of them did not have girlie chats with one another. It didn’t help that Martinez was the first Spanish woman to Wimbledon but then Sanchez was the youngest player to win the French. Why should there have been a rift? Fortunately it’s a different situation these days with the Spanish players, especially on the men’s side. It is not uncommon for Rafael Nadal to have dinner with compatriots even if he has to play them the next day. It’s a sense of maturity. Why should a friendship get in the way of something that lasts just a couple of hours? That’s the way they view it. The camaraderie between the Spanish players is just so phenomenal, that’s probably why they have more players in the top 100, 14, than any other nation. Not so far behind is France with nine players in the top 100. Here too is a nation of players, on the men’s side, who like one another and conduct a tremendous relationship and gain from one another. The same can’t necessarily be said of the French women players. Things are somewhat strained when you add parents into the equation. Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi had respect for one another that was beyond belief and one would certainly be there for the other if necessary but there still seemed to be a bit of a distance. By comparison the relationship enjoyed between Andy Roddick, James Blake and Mardy Fish would probably only stop just short of them being like brothers. Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin sort of supported one another but no one would say they very friendly to one another. It’s certainly easier for Kim these days because she is out there on her own. It was incredible that such a small country as Belgium produced two remarkable players but two players who rarely came together which was a great shame. You see that now with Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic. They unfortunately really don’t get along. If they would only get together properly Serbia would be almost a shoe-in to win the Fed Cup, but no, instead there is a rivalry, and national pride that gets in the way - just the thing that should bring them together. They need to take a leaf out the Serbian men’s book when you see how well Novak Djokovic and Viktor Troicki, Janko Tipsarevic and Nenad Zimonjic get on. Could it also be that Djokovic does not feel threatened by the others? Maybe it’s a similar reason for Roger Federer and his countryman Stan Wawrinka ... the threat is not very real for the Fed. Is that the crux of the whole matter?