Tuesday, February 14, 2012

So is everyone on the Djokovic diet now?

One of the things I meant to mention during the Aussie Open was how skinny tennis players seem suddenly to have become. Have you noticed this too or is it just me? At the time I found myself wondering if tennis players everywhere had suddenly gone gluten-free. Nothing else could explain the mass emaciation. And of course like most of my ideas, it vanished when I did not find the time to get around to writing it right away.

But the idea resurfaced during the Open Gaz de France over the weekend when I realized that Marion Bartoli seemed to have gone back to her natural chunky. Because really nothing else explained her loss to the German newbie, Angelique Kerber, who in turn inspired another thought about whether parents were going to do like Uncle Toni and make sure their charges grew up to be left-handed so that they could dominate tennis. But I’ve written about that before haven’t I?

So there I am looking at this chunk-a-lunk losing to a newbie playing for her first WTA title, and I found myself wondering if Bartoli had fallen off the gluten-free train. I mean the Aussie Open wasn’t that long ago. How could one player go from svelte to chunk with such rapidity?

And it’s not that I am without sympathy. I’ve been forthcoming about my own struggles with the chunk in the past. So don’t go accusing me of being a skinny-minny (which I am now thank you very much) with no sympathy for the chunk-a-holics. Trust me, I feel their pain. But when said chunk-a-holics seem to re-gain the chunk with such haste, well then I have a right to comment, right?

Because just last month Marion was looking sleek and lean and fit and mean. And she wasn’t alone. The list of skinny-minnies in Australia was impressive. First there was Kvitova. Do I need to remind you of how she used to look? And sure she still has a very slight pudge, but in every other respect she looks like the #1 athlete that she truly is.

And the newly demoted Wozniacki also looked like she had given up the gluten. Because for a minute there -- do let’s be honest -- Caro had started chunking out. Nothing too major -- we’re not talking Rezai territory here, but close. But Aussie Caro looked trim and fit, as befitting a #1 with a desperate desire to remain there.

And I don’t mean to focus on the women because truth be told there seemed to be a ton of men newly inspired by Djokovic (or so I choose to assume). Take Wawrinka for instance. Do you remember when he used to have child-bearing hips? I do. And then there was Tsonga who also used to have hips that would give Wawrinka’s a run for their money. Not no more. Dudes were looking sleek and fit down under.

Even Gasquet seemed less hippy to me in Australia, never mind his precociously receding hairline. And well of course everyone knows that Verdasco has been seriously training to become fitter. Too bad that none of his efforts have translated into meaningful wins. But dude looks like a true athlete these days doesn’t he?

Really I think they all owe Djoko for inspiring this new craze of slender fitness. Gone seem to be the days when tennis players would be an embarrassment on the court because of their physical appearance.

Some years ago British commentator David Mercer caught serious flak for saying that Laura Robson needed to lose some puppy fat. He was right. But most people felt he had no right -- as a portly man himself -- to comment on the physical appearance of a young tennis player.

And I get that it must sting to be so closely observed and critiqued. So go ahead and slam me if you want to for writing an entry about physical appearance. But while you’re at it, send a donation to your favorite charity in the name of Novak Djokovic for inspiring a new generation of tennis players to become lean and mean fighting machines.


Anonymous said...

As the Chica mentions here, Kvitova is a #1 athlete. Nobody, but nobody has as much game. She is nearly complete: a little more experience, a little more maturity, and a medication that will finally rein in her out-of-control asthma... then she'll be nearly unbeatable. Even when losing, she is in charge of the match.

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