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Anyone for tennis?

Posted by Christian Kay on the 29th of July 2014

Sports commentators have a hard time keeping their observations fresh and interesting during long contests. Tennis commentators in action during the French Open and Wimbledon had a nice line in metaphorical novelty to keep the listeners on board. As one of them said, ‘If you’re going to have a long day at the office, a good place to have it is on the centre court at Wimbledon’.

Difficult games were seen as objects to manipulate. Djokovic got in ‘a bit of a tangle with his serve’, while Verdasco’s weaving skills were problematic:  ‘There are too many loose Spanish threads in his game at the moment and he (Murray) needs to pull on another one’. He didn’t then, but later, as victory approached, ‘The lift is coming down now and Andy is pulling the cable’. Earlier, lamenting a lost set point, we were told: ‘It’s like the last piece of the jigsaw – you look under the sofa, everywhere’.

Aspects of weather played a part at both tournaments: ‘There’s a third actor in the room, and it’s the heat’. One unfortunate player ‘evaporated in the heat of the Paris sunshine’. Another didn’t ‘embrace playing in the wind’, and ‘got blown off course, not just by the wind’. Metaphors of conflict from other domains also occurred, such as delivering a thunderbolt, throwing in the towel, and fighting a losing battle.

Players were compared to animals, with the increasingly tall competitors said to have ‘a big wingspan’. There were also memorable similes. ‘He’s a bit like a python; when he’s got you he squeezes and squeezes’ (Nadal). ‘He’s like a big cat in the bush, just waiting for his prey’ (Djokovic).

It must be a great relief to any player that sooner or later ‘she can see the finishing line pop up over the horizon’.

Wimbledon Tennis