5 JULY 1986, Page 40

High life

Court order


There is a horrible American proverb that says nice guys finish last, and I was hoping that this year's Wimbledon might disprove it, but now I'm not so sure. (The Hartleys of this world besting the Takis shows that perhaps the Americans know what they're talking about.) Mind you, the man who started the rot, Jimmy Connors, bid us an early adieu, and not a moment too soon as far as I'm concerned. For some of you who may be anaesthetised by the ghastly and unsporting manners of today's superstars, let me remind you that there was a time — BC — when tennis players actually did not grab their crotch and shake it at their opponents — as I have seen Connors do repeatedly — or pump their fists Maradona-like after making a routine passing shot down the line.

When Connors tries to turn on the charm, as he has been doing ever since he caught on that McEnroe can outbadman- ner him any day of the week, he reminds me of a Maltese ponce on the make. (I met a Maltese ponce trying to pick up two innocent girls on the train coming down from Manchester; I was with Jeff Bernard, who posed as a priest and got the girls to sit with us.) It was Connors and his loud and awful mother who first behaved on the centre court at Wimbledon the way they act at home. She would yell out encourage- ment like a cheer leader in between points, while he stalled, grunted, grimaced, ges- ticulated, and swore in between hitting some grbat shots. It was only a matter of time before his disciples took over and `improved' on his tactics. The result was MacEnroe. Thank God he's not around this year, but has stayed where he belongs, in Hollywood. Perhaps the press is un- happy about his absence, but Wimbledon is more dignified for it, as is the game in general.

As I have often said in the past McEnroe is not good for tennis. The game has rules that can only be applied if certain ethics are upheld. McEnroe trampled on these ethics, and therefore in my book was as guilty as if he had cheated. Talking of which, the Becker brigade has been cutting more corners in its quest for more mega- bucks than Jackie Stewart ever did in his Grand Prix days. During his match against Pernfors (a most wonderful and elegant player in my humble opinion) Becker was warned for violating the coaching rule. Tiriac and Bosch, Becker's manager and coach respectively, should have been forced to leave the court. For the duration if need be. Tiriac as a player has been caught violating the rules more times than I've libelled people. Stan Smith, a past champion and gentleman on court if there ever was one, once refused to shake hands with Tiriac because of the latter's conduct during a Davis Cup rubber. So, I say now is the time for Tiriac to be told once and for all that Romanian rules do not apply in England. (Incidentally, a Romanian joke says that the difference between a Ro- manian and a Hungarian is that they would both sell their mothers for a kopeck, but at least the Hungarian would deliver.) But enough of these unpleasant people and matters. I was hoping to see the Swedes do better because they all play a marvellous and imaginative game, and act as men should on court (and as my witnesses and I did in court). The last chance a nice guy will make it to the final lies with Tim Mayotte, who I think will take Lendl in the quarters, if Lendl makes to the last eight. Leconte, too, is marvel- lous to watch, and a damn sight better than Cash and Becker. The latter should, I think, repeat, making his mentor Tiriac as rich as Carter Ruck and Hartley.

Needless to say, Wimbledon week for me means Aspinall's tournament on the Sunday in between the two weeks of the tournament. Once again I saw all my old friends like Neale Fraser, Fibac, Pilic (my new doubles partner) MacMillan, Colin Dibley and Sherwood Stewart, I went for the most money in the auction, and with Pilic we murdered the team of Dibley and Slater who eventually won the whole thing. It was a typical Taki performance. After beating the favourites with the loss of one game, it was champagne, jokes with Aspers, more champagne, more jokes with Aspers, more ch. . . and we managed to lose the rest of our matches. To a bunch of weenies, en plus. C'est la vie, I guess.