Tennis Tales, Pt. 1: The Wrong Phraseology Connection

Rohini IyerSenior Writer IMarch 18, 2017

Beginning this week, I have tentatively decided to embark upon a weekly series highlighting several aspects of the sport in a lighthearted manner.

Going by the norm as is these days, I should have raised the curtain on the subject with none other than Roger Federer, but then considering the fact that he is the chosen muse for a lot of writers, I decided to pave the way with a slightly different topic..."Break a Leg, Roh!"

Yeah, this is the topic for my supposed discussion—the phrase, "Break a Leg"; the phrase originates as a theatrical form of saying good luck—a bit quirky, but the rationale that follows doesn't sound illogical at all!

According to the "Antonym Theory," the phrase "break a leg" was used so that if a person would say "good luck," but instead hard luck follows, the person to whom it was addressed would negate that negativity. It's weird, but superstitions have a way of making weird thing appear quite sane.

Coming back to the sport, then I guess Rafa became an exception to the antonym concept of the catch phrase because he did end up breaking a part of his legs if not entirely. So much so for hard pressed luck!

In Rafa's case, it inadvertently became an example of the popular Aesop fable of the shepherd who called out "Wolf..Wolf"; poor Rafa—his luck was running better before some wise and intellectually motivated person decided to ease off matters for him—awesome indeed!

Now, if we take into consideration some other players and their recent afflictions, then the manner in which the phrase could have got tweaked is intriguing indeed...


1. Roger FedererBreak the Back

The antonym concept at it's best again. Did he have a back injury problem until 2007? No, he didn't, but there it appeared like a bolt from the blue and almost took everything from him. Break the Back, anyone??


2. Mario AncicBreak the Mono

The poor guy was doing well until he demolished Federer in the 2002 Wimbledon, and thereafter he slipped and slipped until he hit rock bottom. Again, Ancic made a brief appearance at the 2008 Wimbledon and then again suffered from a relapse.

Maybe someone said on account of his recuperation, "Break the Mono, Mario," and Voila! it made it's presence felt immediately.


3. Nikolay DavydenkoBreak the Heel

He was always on the heels of the top-four players on any given day, wasn't he? There, someone meant it as a release statement from his perennial rankings and ended up giving him a foot/heel problem which disrupted his career for almost half the season.


4. Maria SharapovaBreak the Shoulder

There had to be some typo error somewhere when the supposed "good luck" measure was uttered to her, or was it the wrong person to which it was intended? Maybe Maria got struck in the crossfire between an irate "Maria" zealot and her father, and the spite got transferred to her unwarranted.


5. Sania MirzaBreak the Wrist

Her backhand must have been the cause of this best wishes-turned-bad-luck saga; "Break the wrist" to encourage her faltering backhand ended up almost jeopardising her career, which has been tottering on the verge of collapsing ever since!


POINT TO NOTE: The phrase, however, will not be of any effect on the likes of players like Marat Safin and Fernando Gonzalez, they do the needful though the luck part is hard to determine; bad luck or good luck—it will always be a double-edged sword for them.

Therefore, the modified version of "Break the racquet" is absolutely not applicable to these aggressive professionals!