Then, mysteriously, somewhere down the road, the Russians, the Serbs and the Croatians with indecipherable, unpronounceable and unspellable names took over the game and started tormenting the followers of the sport. Letters of the alphabet such as ‘y’ and ‘z’ which had never been known for centuries by primates or human beings, suddenly made a startling appearance, causing much confusion and sending even seasoned commentators into a tizzy. One such worthy, suffered asphyxiation when he tried to read out the name of a Russian player, without the aid of an oxygen mask. Post mortem later revealed the presence of a few ‘y’ and ‘z’ chromosomes in his cells.
It all started with a guy from Croatia by the name of Goran Ivanesevic. It was believed that his most powerful weapon was his serve. But that was not the real reason. It was his terrifying name that did the trick. Imagine that a player with a timid name such as John Brown is on one side of the court and is about to receive a serve from someone who calls himself Ivanesevic. The name keeps ringing in Brown’s sensitive ears, he gets these involuntary convulsions, the pressure mounts steadily and, in the meantime, Ivanesevic has already delivered an ace. And before poor Brown can pronounce the opponent’s name in full and wake up from his trance, Ivanesevic goes on to win the match. Brown is carried out in a stretcher in a delirious state.
Or remember Slobodan Zivojinovic, the Serbian?. His name was so intimidating that opponents would break into a cold sweat, even when the referee announced, “ Jim Courier on my left and Slobodan Zivojinovic on my right. Play about to begin. Love all”. When someone sports a name like Zivoninovic, how do you love him? You can only fear him. In the blink of an eye, Slobodan would metamorphose into Fast-Bodan. No wonder Jim went into premature retirement and started his own Courier service.
Now you have Novok Djokovic who won the Australian Open, beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the finals. Before the match started, there were animated discussions between the two, with the former wanting to know if the ‘t’ was silent in the latter’s surname and the latter commenting on the utter stupidity of the former adding a ‘d’ to his surname. Finally Djokovic prevailed as his name conveyed a sense of raw power, that Tsongo’s name lacked. I somehow felt Tsorry for Tsongo, as he was simply out-named.
The women’s tennis circuit has some pretty formidable line-up as well. I remember that once upon a time there was just Navratilova and her eight sisters, Ekratilova, Do-ratilova, Teen-ratilova, etc. Then along came Anna Kournikova from Anna Nagar. But, now you have Anastiya Miskina, Yelena Dementyava, Vera Zvonaryova ,Svetlana Kuznetsova, Lina Krasnorutskaya and Myasthenia Gravis. What chance does someone with a tame and docile name like Sania Mirza have, unless she changes it to Sanialana Mirzavonsky through a gazette notification and produces photostat copies in triplicate certified by a notary public?
Yes, these Russian-types are taking over the tennis world. And looks like there’s no stopping these Djuggernauts.
In my opinion, the only way to contain the might of these Russians and Serbs is by unleashing the Brahmastra of a solid South Indian name. So, if you want to tackle Janko Tipsarevic, you send in someone with an impressive name of Jayamkondam Venkatasubramanian and rattle the hell out of him. Or Muttukadu Muthukumaraswamy. If you scan the general populace in Chennai, you will soon zero in on a few hundred names with 18 syllables each. Pack the Indian contingent with such luminaries. All these names like Leander Paes are completely useless and inadequate for the occasion. Though Maheshwaran Bhuthapathinathan may just about make it.
Even in cricket, I have always felt that the failure of Murali Kartick is because he has a pathetically truncated name. Remember that the famous spin quartet of the 70s had three South Indians by the names of Bhagwat Subramanian Chandrashekar, Erappali Anantrao Srivasa Prasanna and Srinivasaraghavan Venkatraghavan. When the batsmen realised that only 22 yards separated them from bowlers of such stature and such poly-syllabic names, they would simply surrender their wickets and abandon their positions. If Murali has to make it in life, he has to call himself Thiruvellikeni Muraliamanohar Karthikeyan. Then watch the wickets tumble.
Similarly, the story of P.T.Usha missing the medal by a whisker at the Los Angeles Olympics has been flogged long enough. Not many know that the media was responsible for the disaster, by referring to her as simply P.T.Usha. That proved to be her undoing. If only good sense had prevailed and her full name of Pilavulakandi Thekkaparambil Usha had been used, she would have won the gold by a good margin, leaving her opponents in a state of catatonic shock.