David Barbarian, um, Nalbandian, while up a set in the AEGON Final at Queen’s Club, in frustration at having been broken in the 7th game of the second set by Marin Cilic, kicked a wooden Nike placard that covered the feet of the line judge, drawing blood on the left shin of bewildered line judge Andrew McDougall, when that wooden placard crashed into his leg. For any Nalbandian apologists that exist, and there should be few, especially considering the hell Serena is subjected to whenever she has an outburst, we would ask how they could explain away the following video:
Obviously Nalbandian tried to argue that he thought the Nike placard was moored, but with McDougall sitting directly behind it, feet probably touching it, we can not except that rationale. Whatever happened to throwing your racquet? Since when are guys kicking things? It seems that this is something we can only credit to Nalbandian, who in all our years of watching tennis, is the only guy we have ever seen get disqualified in such a manner, for drawing blood to an official. Let alone, in the final at the once very prestigious Queen’s Club, which used to be frequented by Nadal and Djokovic, but which this year barely pulled 3 players from the top 10 (Murray, Tsonga, Tipsarevic). Even when our boy John McEnroe flipped out and smacked a cooler of Gatorade which spilled on the King of Sweden, he wasn’t DQ’ed. Some thought that was funny. Today’s incident was in no way funny at all.
While we can think of 8 tremendous #1’s who’ve won here (Connors, McEnroe, Becker, Edberg, Lendl, Roddick, Hewitt, and Nadal), 7 of which are Wimbledon champions, we’d have to say that the club is at a low point, as should be David Nalbandian after that act of savagery. People in tennis definitely took note of world #2 Rafael Nadal’s decision to play Gerry Weber at Halle this week, the first time he had ever committed to a grass court event outside of Merry Olde. Queen’s has looked completely drab since losing Stella Artois as a sponsor a few years back, and if you are watching Halle, where the main court is state of the art, complete with a retractable roof which slid closed when the sky greyed on Saturday in seconds, you’d have to say that Halle is the superior production.
Having Raonic, Nadal, Federer, and Berdych, among others doesn’t hurt, but the quality of the environment is obviously a factor in why people are playing Halle over Queen’s, when Halle was widely considered the inferior week to Queen’s until now. From what we can see, the courts seem quicker at Halle as well, which, for tennis purists and grass court fanatics like us, means that for a rare week we get to see classic bang bang tennis, with more balls being taken directly out of the air. It’s also nice to see a court where the ball stays low, allowing dynamic one handers like Federer, Haas, and Kohlschreiber to do damage on the backhand wing.
Halle had a magical week, featuring Federer-Raonic III, which was again decided by a third set breaker, and really, hinged once again on the scantest of margins, a mini break to Federer, who had really not managed a thing on Raonic’s first serve again. We’re not surprised. You know how we feel about the kid. As for Roger losing to Tommy Haas today, we are very surprised. Federer has looked listless in finals here in recent years, also very uncharacteristically losing to Lleyton Hewitt in 2010. Seemed like he put the cart before the horse today, a day after blistering Mikhail Youzhny, and looking quite like the old champ.
But the result at Halle, with Haas, an exciting grass courter and dynamic player, returning to form is great for the game. Unlike at Queen’s, where Nalbandian acted reprehensibly. And for that matter, the British crowd, who applauded him, after a weak apology. Sure, they wanted to see more tennis and that is understandable, but once that match is called, how can you applaud a guy who injures an innocent?
And how does Nalbandian pull this stunt up a set? Complete disgrace. We’d like to know why the tennis world is so silent on this debacle in its wake this evening? Nalbandian should be suspended for Wimbledon. The ATP is sending the wrong message if they allow him to play.