Haters, I'm a member of the Fourth Estate, so I've been in news conferences where my ilk needle politicians and tennis players and other newsworthy folks in search of a good quote.
Well, an Australian reporter got a story, all right, when he questioned fellow Aussie Bernard Tomic about his lackluster effort in the 19-year-old's 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 beating by 30-year-old American Andy Roddick.
Roddick had just announced 24 hours earlier that he was going to retire after the Open, the site of his greatest victory and only Grand Slam championship in 2003. Maybe he was going for broke as a result, relaxed and at peace with himself. (He later said, in his on court interview, "I wasn't relaxed tonight, but it's a great result.") Maybe it was the blue moon shining over Arthur Ashe Stadium, the second full moon in a calendar month.
Whatever the source, Roddick was magical, with 13 aces, including one on match point, 33 winners to 21 unforced errors (Tomic's differential was 18/27) and an average first serve speed of 127 miles per hour (Tomic? 112 mph).
Even so, Tomic looked wooden and sluggish, especially in the third set, which took just 21 minutes. And why wouldn't it? The Aussie won just five points.
John McEnroe, calling the game with brother Patrick for ESPN, suggested Tomic was tanking.
"Tomic is teeing it up. It looks like the tank job," he said. Brother Patrick later Tweeted, "Pathetic." (The Tweet came as Victoria Azarenka, the next match up on Ashe, was throttling Zheng Jie, 6-0, 6-1. PMac later clarified in a second Tweet: "In case you were wondering, I was referring to effort from Tomic.")
Really, Haters, two pricey night matches in ugly Ashe, over in one hour, 26 minutes. That, and your tiny little $18 lobster roll dinner and the long subway ride to Flushing Meadows, and you're better off going to see middle-aged Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones attempt hot sex in "Hope Springs."
That's how I play. Do you have a problem with that?"
"The whole match was his way from start to finish pretty much."
My people pressed on. Will Swanton, a reporter with Reuters, asked him to explain what happened.
Tomic: "What do you think?"
Swanton: "I think your relaxed style sometimes, people get the wrong impression."
Tomic: "That's how I play. Do you have a problem with that?"
Swanton told Tomic he was just giving him a chance to explain himself. Yeah, THAT well-worn ploy. "You're going to regret not telling us everything that's buzzing around in your head right now, word for word."
Tomic didn't disappoint.
Tomic: "That's your prediction. I have mine. That's how I play If you think that's that, it's up to you. What is your name?"
Tomic: "Will who?
Swanton: "Will Swanton."
Tomic: "I'll remember you."
Okay, Tomic is just 19. Roddick gets equally surly, with reporters and umpires, and he's 11 years older. (Even tonight, when questioning a linesman's call, he could be heard on national TV saying to the chair ump, "Step in at any time!") That's tennis. It makes you say things you regret, like calling your husband a motherf****r because he hit a winning drop shot against you for the third time.
But, uh, Bernie? Practice saying this, while you're out there slugging groundstrokes and picturing Will Swanton's face on every ball: