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  • Jacob Sweetman: Stringing everything together


Jacob Sweetman: Stringing everything together

Germany is actually a bit rubbish at football, but it is great at tennis. What the hell kind of world is this that we are living in? The Sportsdesk tries to get to the bottom of it.

I’ve just been reading about string theory, and am disappointed to understand that it has been, pretty much, discredited. You see, this long held idea about the makeup of the universe turns out to be nonsense, that the maths behind it don’t add up when one includes the necessary 11th dimension, and that M-theory is the way forward – the M standing for the membranes that comprise the parallel universes, wobbling their way through space and time, constantly creating new big bangs, and generally making us more insignificant by the second.

None of this matters really to the layman, such as myself, but it does screw up what was going to be an oh-so-clever introduction to a piece about German tennis, based on the fabric of the universe being woven throughout everything, holding us, space and my clever introduction together like the strings on a racket. Or a good rug.

But what is the point of all of this if one can’t labour a metaphor, fattened with its own sense of self-worth, so let’s soldier on for the hell of it. M-theory does, at least, open up the possibilities of parallel universes, and it is that framework which we will have to shoehorn into the Sportsdesk’s latest escapades.

So let us imagine a place where the Germans are always plucky losers at football, beguiling with their talent, before losing to the first good team they meet, but that their tennis players have risen to a level whereby for the first time in grand slam history, four of them are through to the quarter finals of the rah-rah-rain soaked, upper class circle jerk that is the All England Championships.

Normally, at this time of the summer (excepting the period including the meteoric rises of Boris Becker, Steffi Graf and, more briefly, Michael Stich), the closest Germans get to talking about semis, surrounded by so much strawberries and whipped cream in the outdoors, is in some of their more niche film making exploits.

But this has really, actually, happened. Wednesday Philipp Kohlschreiber and Florian Mayer will both played for a spot in the last four at Wimbledon, whilst Tuesday Angelique Kerber beat Sabine Lisicki in a fantastic, all German women’s quarter-final. It has been a long time since Becker and his ilk.

It is a strangely different world.

But, obviously, not enough of a different world for many people’s perceptions of women tennis players to have changed much. The old bullshit is still there. The opportunity to concentrate on Maria Sharapova’s arse as much as her conqueror, Lisicki’s, booming second serves that turned their match on Monday passed many online observers by. In fact if you type Lisicki’s name into Google the fourth suggestion is “…boyfriend”, because who cares about her tennis, really, when one can fantasise about with whom she is sleeping.

ESPN’s commentator slipped into an age that many of us thought we had left behind when he caught a glimpse of Kerber raging at herself yesterday, having dropped a match point and, consequently, losing the second set: “I think all of the men watching this know what that face means. It’s okay love, we know nothing’s the matter.”

It was straight out of Bill Haley’s brilliant, tongue in cheek, post-apocalyptic dream world, “Thirteen Women (and Only One Man in Town)”

I had two gals every morning,

Seein’ that I was well fed,

And believ-a you me, one sweetened my tea,

While another one buttered my bread.

Kerber won the third set of a pulsating, bruising slugfest, and as such has still never been beaten by her younger competitor and countrywoman. When Lisicki had clawed back the chance to win in the final set, she blew it. Her serve (which had been faltering at best all day) completely deserted her when she needed it the most, her nerves and body were shattered.

Whilst Lisicki is only 22, and will certainly repeat last years’ semi-final appearance sometime, Kerber is a couple of years older, and reaching her peak. Across the country people have forgotten about the football, and are training their eyes onto her, hoping that she can reach the first final for a German woman since Graf.

They will be wondering where we are, what we are doing here, and how things became so topsy-turvy. They will be wondering what the hell happened to good old string theory.

06.07.2012 - 09:30 Uhr