Are the French Weirdos? A Rigorous Analysis

During his first-round loss yesterday, Stefanos Tsitsipas took issue with some of the chair umpire’s rulings. In protesting his treatment, Tsitsipas spat, “You have something against me, I don’t know what — because you’re French, probably, and you’re all weirdos. You’re all weirdos!”

What a weird thing to say. As far as insults go, “weirdo” is just laughable. It’s like being called a poopy-head by a five-year-old.

Perhaps it’s the very weirdness of the insult that got me wondering: Are the French weirdos? Let’s get scientific about this and look at the top four French players.

On the men’s side, the highest ranked player is Gael Monfils. I guess you could say he’s kind of weird, but in the best possible way. His infectious enthusiasm and interactions with the fans make him a crowd-pleaser wherever he plays. Verdict: Weird (but we love him).

The second-ranked Frenchman is Benoit Paire. Paire, along with Richard Gasquet, were featured in our fashion face-off on French men dying their hair blond. Paire has since returned to his natural color but still sports a massive hipster beard. Seriously, you could hide an entire crepe in that thing. I probably shouldn’t shallowly judge people based on just their hair, but since I don’t know Paire personally, shallow is all I’ve got. Verdict: Weird.

On the women’s side, Caroline Garcia is the highest ranked French player. After each win, Garcia extends her arms horizontally and zooms around the court like an airplane. Verdict: Weird.

Garcia’s former doubles partner, Kiki Mladenovic, is the next-highest ranked French woman. Mladenovic routinely earns a place in our best-dressed polls, dates the dishy Dominic Thiem, and never pretends to be a plane or any other form of transportation. Verdict: Normal.

Based on this statistically valid sample size, we can comfortably conclude that, in fact, 75% of French people are weird.

This seems like an unusually high percentage of weirdos for a given population. For perspective, I asked my tennis partner and my sister-in-law, both French, why so many of their compatriots are weird. My tennis partner denied any disproportionate weirdness and pointed to other countries as being the real loons. My sister-in-law had no answer, either. “Perhaps we eat too much stinky cheese,” she suggested.

Clearly it’s a subject that requires further study. A trip to Paris may be in order.

Meanwhile, Serena is down a set to American teen Caty McNally. This kid can play!

Serena vs. Maria, XXII

Tonight, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova face off for the 22nd time in their careers. No doubt you already know that Serena hasn’t lost to Maria since 2004 and enjoys an impressive 19-2 record against the Russian.

The last time Serena played in Flushing Meadows, things got a little heated. Let’s not revisit that unfortunate episode, since I’m sure we’ll be hearing about it ad nauseum from the television commentators. Suffice it to say that Serena will be feeling even more determined to win the title this year.

I’ve always admired Sharapova’s steeliness. If it were me, I’d probably fake a cold and stay home rather than walk out for yet another beatdown in front of millions of viewers. (This resolve may have something to do with why she has five Slam titles and I don’t have any titles, of any sort.)

Serena hasn’t been invincible since her post-baby return to the tour. In fact, she hasn’t won a single title yet. On the other hand, Maria has had a rough year, and Serena does relish beating her.

Is there anyone picking Maria to win this opening-round match? I’m not. And the odds-makers aren’t, either. At least, I don’t think they are. One online betting site puts the odds at -310 for Serena and +250 for Sharapova. I don’t actually know what that means, but I’m sure it’s not in Maria’s favor. Can any gamblers out there explain it?

The more interesting questions about this match are 1) how many games Maria will manage to win, and 2) whether Serena goes on to take the title this year.

Wouldn’t it be fun if this were a betting site? Alas, that’s beyond my blogging skill set. But we can still vote in the polls below. And I’ll make this little wager with myself: If Maria wins more than six games tonight, I’ll eat something disgusting. Maybe a large raw tomato, including all the seeds and gelatinous goo. Blech.



Throwing Your Boobs

Have we talked about obnoxious match celebrations before? I feel like we have, but I don’t want to scroll through my whole site to figure it out. Besides, we have new, fun material to talk about.

A number of weeks ago, everyone’s favorite love-to-hate player Nick Kyrgios threw some shade at a few of the game’s top stars. He called out Rafa Nadal for being “salty” and Fernando Verdasco for arrogance.

But he saved his best shade for Novak Djokovic:

“I just feel like he has a sick obsession with wanting to be liked. He just wants to be like Roger….This whole celebration thing that he does after matches, it’s like so cringeworthy. It’s very cringeworthy.”

Have you seen Djokovic’s celebratory ritual? I couldn’t help but laugh at Kyrgios’s characterization. Cringing describes my reaction perfectly.

And it’s not just me and Kyrgios. Djokovic’s ridiculous “I give you my heart” pantomime rubs other people the wrong way, too–so much so that someone coined a term for it: Boob throwing. Continue reading “Throwing Your Boobs”

Confidence Crises


On Sunday, Rafael Nadal finally won his first clay court title of the year–in fact, his first title on any surface this year.

And–finally–we have a new blog post! I have been remiss. Inexcusably so, but let me offer some excuses anyway. First, I was taking a novel-writing class, so I was spending my creative juices elsewhere.

And two, I just wasn’t feeling it. I wasn’t sure I had the bloggerly chops to tackle some bigger topics. I wasn’t sure the blog even mattered–to me or to anyone else. Out of nowhere, I was having a mini-crisis in confidence.

Which brings us back to Rafa. (You know everything eventually goes back to Rafa.) Continue reading “Confidence Crises”

The Underhand Serve: A Friday Poll

“Kyrgioser and kyrgioser!” cried Alice…

Another day, another Nick Kyrgios controversy. If he isn’t getting fined for lack of effort or for needling an opponent about his girlfriend’s sexual history, he’s hitting head-scratching and/or controversial shots.

In this case, the shot was a dinky underhand serve to Rafael Nadal, who famously stands practically in the bleachers when he receives. I watched the first set of this Mexican Open match and heard commentator Lindsay Davenport wonder why no one ever tries an underhand serve against Rafa. She then joked that if anyone would do it, Kyrgios would. Continue reading “The Underhand Serve: A Friday Poll”

The Beetle and the Ballboy

Here’s a little fable that played out at the Australian Open this morning. Top-ranked Novak Djokovic was playing Daniil Medvedev, seeded 15. Djokovic was up a break and receiving serve at 5-2.

A beetle on the baseline caught Djokovic’s attention. He bent over and flicked it with his racquet a couple of times, trying to move it off the court. Then he tried picking it up while a ballboy stood a few feet away. Unsuccessful, he finally stepped back to let the ballboy take over. Continue reading “The Beetle and the Ballboy”

The New York Open

This week and next, thousands of people will get to watch the Australian Open in person, and you won’t. Hardly seems fair, does it?

On the other hand, Australia’s really far, and I’m guessing decent seats are kind of pricey. Plus, from what I see on television, there are a lot of bugs. I hate bugs. Continue reading “The New York Open”

The Ranking System, and a Poll

Consider this scenario:

You and I are professional tennis players. (You like this scenario already, don’t you?) I’m the #1 ranked player in the world. You’re #2.

We both enter the Australian Open. You lose in round 2. I do better, eventually losing in the quarterfinals.

The tournament ends, and you become world #1.

Seems impossible, but it can happen, thanks to the sport’s quirky point system. Continue reading “The Ranking System, and a Poll”

A Rare Breed

Here’s some tennis news that may have slipped under your radar today. Lucas Pouille, ranked #32, has hired former pro Amelie Mauresmo as his coach.

Why is this noteworthy? Because female coaches in men’s tennis are exceedingly rare. Of the top 20 male players, not one has a female coach. To find a female coach, you need to go down to #27, Denis Shapavalov, whose mother serves in that role. There may be a few other players in the top 100 with mother-coaches. But the Pouille-Mauresmo coaching arrangement is almost certainly the only non-familial one. Continue reading “A Rare Breed”

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