The Soderling Recipe

Rob YorkSenior Writer IMay 27, 2009

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 21:  Robin Soderling of Sweden plays a forehand in his second round match against Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus during day three of the 2009 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 21, 2009 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The men on the ATP Tour are generally a sporting lot with many likable qualities. Rafael Nadal has a heart the size of a beach ball, but remains a humble guy. Roger Federer is supremely talented but doesn’t use that as an excuse not to work hard or hide his emotions.

Novak Djokovic and Andy Roddick rub some people the wrong way, but both are funny guys and dedicated competitors who add a lot to the flavor of today’s game.

So what would it take for me to actually dislike a player?

Well, let’s start with style of play: Perhaps if he were a member of the one-dimensional-hard-hitting-no-subtlety-Thomas-Enqvist school of thought, I might not enjoy watching him. This is especially true if you added a service toss that was so high it makes Ivan Lendl’s and Steffi Graf’s look conservative. Oh, and toss in a wristy, unsightly looking forehand.

Then, we’d have a player I didn’t really care to watch. But, would I necessarily dislike the person himself?

No, for that to happen, he’d have to have some unpleasant personality traits that I really detested. For example, Andy Roddick often lets the pressure of competition get to him and has heated arguments with umpires. But what about a guy who disrupts play for a considerable length of time to argue a call in a match that isn’t even competitive?

Also, Djokovic annoys some with the impressions of other players, but what about a player who openly mocks his opponents during play?

A player who did those things is one I wouldn’t think much of, especially if he were talented player whose results suggested such a failure to capitalize on his natural gifts as to make Enqvist look like Pete Sampras.

A player such as this would be just the kind I’d dislike because he was, unlike Roddick or Djokovic, detracting from the game more than benefiting it. I wonder if there’s anybody out there who fits that description.

If there must be such a guy, is it at all possible that the first three letters of his surname be an English insult?

That would help.