WASHINGTON, June 19, 2018 (by Michael Dickens)
The 21st World Cup of football – one of the biggest quadrennial sporting events in the entire world – began last Thursday in Russia and it’s set to distract sports fans across Planet Earth through Sunday, July 15, which happens to be the same day as the gentlemen’s singles final at Wimbledon.
Speaking of tennis, it’s not a surprise that many of the world’s best tennis professionals are showing an avid interest – an emotional involvement, if you will – in the World Cup tournament. After all, it’s probably the pipe dream of many players that if they weren’t carving out a nice career on tennis courts while globetrotting around the world, they would be sporting their skills playing the beautiful game on grassy pitches and in front of thousands of die-hard football fans.
Ready for the party of the summer? 🎉
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) 14. Juni 2018
Tennis meets football
When it comes to the World Cup, I’ve learned, it’s okay for players to become emotionally involved and to have a sense of fighting spirit – not only for their team, but for everyone in the entire country.
On Sunday, after he won the MercedesCup tournament in Stuttgart, Germany for his 98th career title, Roger Federer tweeted a photo of himself driving home to Switzerland via the German autobahn. His tweet read:
Made it back home on time
to watch 🇨🇭 vs 🇧🇷
Great effort team Switzerland,
good luck Brazil for the rest of the way pic.twitter.com/PiXoXQFzNo
— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) 17. Juni 2018
WTA stars are watching
Elena Vesnina of Russia, ranked No. 1 in the world in doubles with her partner Ekaterina Makarova, was in attendance for the World Cup opener between host Russia and Saudi Arabia in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium last Thursday. She produced live content for the WTA’s Instagram feed.
Speaking of which, an Instagram video posted by the WTA has drawn a lot of positive attention. The WTA tweeted: “The #FIFAWorld Cup is here! #WTA stars will be watching … Will you?”
The one-minute video shows a variety of WTA stars, including: Vesnina, Simona Halep of Romania, Caroline Garcia of France, Karolina Pliskova and Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, Daria Kasatkina of Russia, Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, Anastasija Sevastova and Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, Johanna Konta of the United Kingdom, Madison Keys of the United States, and Julia Goerges of Germany. Each is shown trying their skills at dribbling and passing a football. Clearly, their talent has no limits, does it?
— WTA (@WTA) 18. Juni 2018
Meanwhile, Germany’s Andrea Petkovic tweeted a list of things that she likes about the World Cup: “1. No more awkward silences in elevators with strangers. 2. Always something to watch on TV. 3. Iceland and their chiseled chins. 4. Hairfashion.”
Over the weekend, Kristina Mladenovic of France tweeted, “ALLEZ LES BLEUS” in support of her country’s entry in the World Cup. They beat Australia in their opener.
— Kristina Mladenovic (@KikiMladenovic) 16. Juni 2018
On Monday, Elise Mertens showed her support for Belgium when she tweeted:
— Elise Mertens (@elise_mertens) 18. Juni 2018
Among the men, Rafael Nadal, long a fan of Real Madrid in the Spanish League, is leading the cheers for Spain – of course – and Novak Djokovic has a vested interest in Serbia. Also, Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri, a long-time football fan, is cheering for his home country’s team from afar while competing in Halle, Germany this week at the Gerry Weber Open.
According to David Law of BBC5 Live and co-host of “The Tennis Podcast,” of all of the Fever-Tree Championships player lounge World Cup player goal celebrations so far, those of Novak Djokovic and his team “are the most ecstatic by far. Basically, he did a lap of the entire room.”
Djokovic would happily miss World Cup final
Djokovic has built up a good relationship with several of the Serbia World Cup team and often picks their brains about different ways to improve his training regime. In a press conference on Sunday before the start of the Fever-Tree Championships at Queen’s Club in London, Djokovic, who is an avid fan of the Serbian national team that won its opener over Costa Rica, insists he would happily miss a first appearance for Serbia in the World Cup final if it means he is back in the Wimbledon men’s title match.
Fortunately, it appears the World Cup final match has a later kick off time than the start for the Wimbledon men’s singles final, but only by a couple of hours. Otherwise …
“Really? I didn’t know that. Wow,” said Djokovic. “I’ve been fortunate to win Wimbledon three times and play well there. If that happens I would obviously be very happy to miss the World Cup final.”