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Old 01-25-2006, 01:27 PM   #54
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Default Article from The Age 26.1.06 after his win against S.Grosjean AO 06 QF

A winner without respect
January 26, 2006


German Nicolas Kiefer was pumped during his lengthy battle with Sebastien Grosjean, but what will live on was Kiefer's toss of the racquet.

NICOLAS Kiefer is an ill-deserving semi-finalist at the Australian Open. He was ill-humoured, bad-mannered and foul-mouthed throughout yesterday's victory over Sebastien Grosjean, a performance that culminated in the unforgivable moment when he threw his racquet across the court while Grosjean was in the act of hitting a smash. The way he then feigned innocence only compounded the wretchedness.

Kiefer exposed much about himself, and more about the sport. Sometimes, tennis is so concerned with being a "nice" game that when faced with an atrocity, it blushes and looks the other way, hoping for it all to vanish before the next platitude.

Kiefer might never have thought to behave in such infantile manner if he had been docked points or even a game earlier in the match. There were enough opportunities, as he launched a series of tirades, swearing profusely, against the chair umpire about line calls that mostly were shown to be right.

Kiefer pleaded that the day was hot, the match long, tense and gruelling for high stakes, and that these were isolated moments. But it was also so for Grosjean, and he kept his cool and his dignity throughout. Kiefer claimed to have apologised to Grosjean, but the Frenchman disputed that. Kiefer also claimed that Grosjean was a friend. "Friend is a big word," said Grosjean. The hole Kiefer dug for himself grew deeper by the minute.

Even when Kiefer finally prevailed, he could summon up no grace and scarcely offered umpire Carlos Bernades even perfunctory acknowledgement.

In a grown man, this behaviour was contemptible. In a major sport, tolerance of it is pitiful. Cricket and Australian football have both cracked down latterly on the assailing of officials, and they are sports that demand much greater physical courage and in which a little venting of emotions might be allowed, but is not. Soccer and the rugby codes insist on absolute respect for officials and opponents.

Kiefer had been fined $6650 already in this tournament, for three different instances of obscenity. He had form, but not repentance. Fines do not work when levied against lavishly paid sportsfolk. Kiefer said winning justified all. Long may he lose.
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