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Alix Ramsay Writes To “Tennis Santa Claus” With Her Wishes • Andy Murray!

Dear Santa,


I do hope that you are well and that you and Mrs Claus have had a good year. How is Rudolph? Is his nose any better?


I have tried my very best to be good this past 12 months although I will admit to a few indiscretions. And before Him At No.57 gets his letter in to you, I will hold my hand up and admit that I have had words with him of late. Quite rude words, in fact. Words comparing his less than winsome phizog to the unmentionables of an elderly and overweight rhino. Upon reflection, that was unfair, not least to the rhino. But in my defence, I will state that Him At No.57 is a tax inspector (‘nuff said, methinks) and he does make a habit of stealing my parking space. But next time I see a rhino, I will apologise. Promise.


I know you are very busy at this time of year so I will try and keep this brief. I have compiled a little wish list and if you could see your way clear to bringing me some/a few/all of the below, I would be hugely grateful.


1 – Andy Murray. Please can we have him back, fit and at full pelt for the new year? It’s not so much for me, you understand, but for my bank manager. Tennis in Blighty begins and ends with The Muzz and incomes for British tennis writers can be greatly reduced when he is injured and not playing. And we don’t just miss him on court, either; he is sorely missed in the interview room. The lovely Rodge talks at length about almost anything but he cannot be our only source of quotes for the year (the sports editor tends to notice these things). Rafa, too, is charming but he does not like to complain. When he does, it is only a brief sentence or two and it is hard to get a whole feature out of that. And then there is Novak: he talks a lot but he seldom actually says anything (all things to all men and all of that). So we miss Muzz. We miss him lots. Please can we have him back?


2 – On court coaching. Could the powers that be make a definitive ruling on this: either we have it or we don’t? And if we don’t, could they please tighten up the rules so that we don’t have another fiasco like the US Open final? Serena may not have seen the signals that Patrick Mouratoglou was giving her but he admitted afterwards that he was coaching her from the players’ box. It does seem a little harsh that the player should be punished for someone else’s misdemeanours so why not follow football’s example? In football, a referee can send off a coach or manager if he oversteps the mark in just the same way that he can send off a player. So why not let the umpire send off a coach who is coaching illegally from the stands? Make said coach leave the arena. That should makes the coaches think twice before offering advice, albeit unsolicited advice, to their charges.


3 – Naomi Osaka. Can she please win another grand slam title but this time lift the trophy with no booing from the crowd, no controversy surrounding the result and after lots of her stunning tennis? She deserves it.


4 – As we head into the Australian Open, could we please sort out the heat policy? The Aussies are very good at this but, then again, they are used to it being blisteringly hot every year at their slam. Their rule seems simple: if it possible to fry and egg on Fergus Murphy’s pate, we call the whole thing off until it cools down. But at the US Open, they got themselves into all sorts of bother. A rule cobbled together at the last minute saw players and officials unsure of what to do when they reached melting point. Who could go where? Who could talk to whom? And whose responsibility was it to make sure the player got back on court within the 10 minute time frame? A hot sweaty player desperate for somewhere to cool off probably forgets to take his or her watch with them. The official escorting them ought to be given a timepiece – and one synchronised with the umpire’s watch – to make sure that the player is not unfairly penalised. It was all a bit of a mess. So can we sort this please?


5 – While we are at it, can we fix the ventilation in the Arthur Ashe Stadium? To have a roof is great – no more rain delayed finals played on a Monday. Hurrah. But with a lid on top of the vast arena, there is not a breath of air down at court level. In the suffocating humidity of New York this past summer, the players were cooking like a couple of dumplings in a steamer. It wasn’t pretty and it almost did for Djoko a couple of times in the first week. Wimbledon and the Australian Open both have air conditioning for their covered courts. If the US Open can’t afford air con for their 23,000-seater bear pit then the least they could do is invest in some industrial strength fans to keep the players alive and the spectators awake. Just a thought.


6 – Did we mention Andy Murray? If he could get to the sharp end of a slam next year…. I’m not trying to press the point but if you are looking for ideas….


7 – Scheduling. Could someone please have a quiet word with television and explain to them that if you want players to be at their peak then it is best not to have them playing until dawn. It may look like a good idea to have Rafa as the second night match at the US Open (although for the European audiences, it is a disaster due to the time difference) but when he takes nearly five hours to beat Dominic Thiem, the appeal fades rather. The match was an absolute cracker but it was played out in front a half-cut and rapidly thinning audience who realised that they had to get up for work the next morning. Wimbledon has an 11pm curfew (set by the local council so as not to annoy the neighbours) and a similar cut off point – let’s say midnight – in New York and Melbourne would be both sensible and civilised.


8 – Serena and her 24th grand slam victory. Could she get this? Please? Then she can stop worrying about it (and she does get nervous) and we can stop writing about it. She is, undoubtedly, the greatest player ever to pick up a racket and if she can just get the numbers to prove it, life will be a lot easier all round. Margaret Court’s 24 titles are not in the same league: 11 of them were won in Australia in an era when many players simply did not make the long trip south. Serena has collected her silverware over more than two decades and beaten the biggest names in each generation to do so. Give her her 24th and do it soon.


9 – Andy Mu…. Oh, I think we may have mentioned him. Moving on…


10 – On a slightly more personal note, a winning lottery ticket would not come amiss. And if you could have Bryan Ferry scrubbed and sent to my room that would be quite nice, too. Or Pat Rafter. Or Goran Ivanisevic. I’m not fussy. I leave it with you.


So, I hope you have a good Christmas and that you don’t have to work too hard. And if it saves you time, don’t bother wrapping any of these presents. Really, I won’t mind.


Hoping this finds you as it leaves me: in the pink.




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