Monday, June 4, 2012

It's Gasquet, Or It Was Anyway

I just watched the end of Murray v. Gasquet on the replay, and Murray pulled it out after losing the first set badly and looking for all the world like he was dying of something painful in the process.  This is interesting stuff. 

Murray won 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.  It looks like a curb stomping after a slow start when you look at it that way. 

The interesting part was Murray's behavior.  I don't really care for the guy, sportsmanship is not his forte.  He exults too much when he hits a winner, and powerfully curses his bad luck without giving credit where credit is due.  He curses (literally) and stomps around.  There wasn't too much of that today, or recently, maybe somebody talked to him about it.  But today there was something new.

Through the early stages of the game, after some bad shots he would grimace and grab his back, like he was trying to stretch something out, something painful.  In an earlier match he had even had the trainer come out to massage him.  But the way he played today, in the last three sets anyway, he was not in any detectable distress.

I think it was a display of gamesmanship, or should I say Gamesmanship, a winning theory put forth by English humorist (humourist!) Stephen Potter in the great "Potter on Gamesmanship."  Murray's mock ailment was played to great effect, and it seemed to have the desired effect on poor Mr. Gasquet.  Potter suggests that before a game, the Gamesman should complain of some invented ailment, playing for the sympathy of the opponent and lulling the opponent into a false sense of security.  The concept is stretched out to fill a very entertaining small book. 

It's almost certain that the back thing was an act.  Towards the middle of the match the acting would be followed by Murray smiling up at someone in the stands, someone, presumably, who was in on the joke.  Then the troublesome back disappeared altogether in two hours of very athletic play.

So, what's up with that?  

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