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Curtain comes down on tennis’ ‘comedy of errors’

It was Andy Murray – seen here at the French Open in 2009 – to the rescue for an exhibition match against Novak Djokovic when Roger Federer withdrew from the World Tour Finals, which Tennis magazine’s Steve Tignor called “Worst. Tournament. Ever.”  Photograph by Yann Caradec

It was Andy Murray – seen here at the French Open in 2009 – to the rescue for an exhibition match against Novak Djokovic when Roger Federer withdrew from the World Tour Finals, which Tennis magazine’s Steve Tignor called “Worst. Tournament. Ever.”  Photograph by Yann Caradec

What a frigging mess.

The World Tour Finals – which some clever headline writer at Tennis magazine called “WTF, Indeed” – were a disaster with pull-outs, flame-outs and shutouts from start to finish this past week.

I blame Rafa’s appendix. It all started there. Rafael Nadal had his appendix removed so he couldn’t play in the round-robin, season-ending London tournament that features the top eight players. David Ferrer, asked to be an alternate, showed up and promptly lost to Kei Nishikori. But at least he showed up. Grigor “Baby Fed” Dimitrov, also an alternate, didn’t bother to. Steve Tignor, author of the “WTF” article, explains the Dimitrov philosophy of declining invitations with a baseball analogy. 

Marin Cilic might not have bothered to show up either for all the good it did him. The US Open champ looked flat, as did Tomas Berdych, as did just about everyone, except new daddy Novak Djokovic.

And then there was the battle of the Swiss, known for their peace-loving neutrality. Apparently, Roger “Feddy Bear” Federer – who was breezing through the tourney, on track to play Nole in the final smackdown of baby daddies – and Stan “the Man” Wawrinka got into it after their semifinal bruiser, exchanging heated words in a makeshift locker room (a huge tournament and it doesn’t have a locker room?) sparked by Mirka Federer’s supposed “heckling” of Stan courtside.

But wait: Before the final Nov. 16, Fed withdrew – citing a back injury that led to speculation about whether he was saving himself for Switzerland’s pursuit of an elusive Davis Cup title next weekend. (As of now, he’s iffy for Davis Cup duty.) That left Nole to play Andy Murray - who had earlier been bageled and breadsticked by Feddy 6-0, 6-1 – in an exhibition match that some felt should’ve featured Stan and Nole.

Still with me? Do you need a scorecard for this Titanic?

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then you know that Novandy (Novak plus Andy) is an entertaining rivalry. (See my post about their charming point-counterpoint at Madison Square Garden in New York March 3 on World Tennis Day.) Once again, the two didn’t disappoint.

Andy was at home playing video games, which he says he’s better at than tennis, when he got the call to play Nole and jumped in his car. He was on the court about an hour and a half later. People, you cannot make this stuff up.

Particularly, the drily witty Andy’s remark: “I have to apologize, because I clearly pushed Roger too hard on Thursday” – the day he lost to him 6-0, 6-1.

A fitting, good-humored response to a comedy of errors.