Everyone is guilty of eavesdropping. Sometimes it is intentional and at other times you can’t help but overhear what others might be talking about, especially if you are in a crowed area with not much place to...
Everyone is guilty of eavesdropping. Sometimes it is intentional and at other times you can’t help but overhear what others might be talking about, especially if you are in a crowed area with not much place to move. Such a place would be the tube in London. It’s not as bad as the metro trains in Tokyo where people are actually employed to squeeze the last possible person into a carriage. That really epitomises being like sardines in a can. During the ATP World Tour Finals in London I travelled on the tube to the venue each day, a journey that started at Embankment to Waterloo then on to North Greenwich; it involved one train change and about 30 or so minutes of travel. It was pretty convenient but offered quite an insight to what people were thinking and talking about when it came to any of the elite players involved with the season-ending championship. The authority with which they spoke was quite something. One morning two guys, one taller and quite solid (for the sake of the exercise let’s say his name was Gerard) the other, a more stout man with a thinning hairline (we can call him Jonno) were heading to the tennis and were having an intense discussion about Andy Murray. On a couple of occasions I had to look over my shoulder because I genuinely thought they were friends of Andy’s the way they spoke of him. I must make it clear right now that what I am writing here is the absolute truth. I kept a strong mental note of what was being said because I was having quite a laugh in my mind. “He’s not a bad guy, Andy. It’s good to see him doing well again,” said the taller one, Gerard. “It’s funny how Federer doesn’t like him but he gets on very well with Nadal and Djoko; they seem to have a good time, all of them.” The other guy chimed in. “Not bad that he won the American Open. I don’t think Federer was that interested in the Olympics match they played. We didn’t go to that one because we couldn’t get tickets in the ballot. At least Andy got to the Wimbledon final, doesn’t matter if he doesn’t win it now, he should be happy he got to the final.” By his reckoning, Gerard also felt the monkey was off Murray’s back but said he still needed to win Wimbledon because that’s what the fans want. He said: “Murray doesn’t seem to like playing Federer at Wimbledon.” That’s funny I thought they’ve only played each other once at the All England and Andy was up a set and a break, but heck what do I know. Gerard then added: “You know what I think it is with Federer not liking him is that he was getting fed cup because they were always putting him in the same side of the draw as Murray.” “Yeah,” said Jonno, “it’s funny how they kept doing that. I’d be fed up seeing the same person all the time as well.” By this stage they had noticed the credential and lanyard around my neck and the conversation suddenly went quiet. However they were not done as Jonno commented: “He’s playing Djoko today. Looking forward to that but Murray doesn’t like playing him.” Then they got into discussing the doubles and the Brit-Danish combination of Jonathan Marray and Freddie Neilsen. Jonno added: “Who’s this Nielsen guy anyway, where did he come from because if it hadn’t been for Marray they probably would not have won Wimbledon.” It was too much for me to remain quiet any longer as the tube arrived at North Greenwich: “Funny then how Murray beat Djokovic in the final of the American Open as you called it and always thought doubles involved two people.” The next night on the tube leaving the venue I was squashed in alongside two middle-aged ladies who had been watching Janko Tipsarevic getting defeated by Juan Martin Del Potro. On this occasion they addressed each other by name; one with lighter hair was Yvonne and the other with light brown hair was Suzanna. It seemed as though they had a good time but once again they had views. “It would have been nice to have seen a third set,” said Suzanna. “The guy with the glasses didn’t seem very competitive in the first set, seemed like his mind was somewhere else. It got a bit more competitive in the second set. I was really hoping for some more tennis. Goodness this tube is very crowded.” Yvonne added to the conversation: “Yes, shame it didn’t go longer. I agree it looked like he wanted to be elsewhere; mind you I’d feel the same if I lost a set 6-0 like that. He had a disappointing night but mind you the other guy, Del Potro played very well, didn’t he? I’m not crazy about all those tattoos he has on his arms. “What I did really enjoy was the doubles. That was a lot of fun, especially that sort of dance Paes and Stepanek did. I think Paes needs a haircut.” Oh so true … get a haircut Leander. I was working hard not to laugh out loud on that comment and their stop at Bermondsey had arrived.