By Will Edmonds
Almost five years to the day after reducing then world No. 1 Roger Federer to tears after capturing his first, and to-date only Australian Open, Rafael Nadal shed a few of his own when the Spaniard stood up to give a speech after losing the Australian Open final to Stanislas Wawrinka.
Surely this is one of the strangest conventions in all of sports?
Minutes after falling agonizingly short of achieving a goal they have dedicated their lives to, tennis players are expected to show sportsmanship, humility, composure, gratitude and perspective, often in a second or third language, in front of a crowd of thousands and a television audience of millions.
You would never expect the losing team's captain in the Champions League final to take the stand and address the crowd and you might place yourself in serious danger if you tried to force a microphone into the hand of a man who hasjust lost a heavyweight boxing bout.
Is tennis just more sophisticated; more traditional; more civilized?
Who knows, but what is clear is these tearful toasts are often being remembered long after the results have been wiped from the public’s memory.
Aside from having to congratulate the victor, thank the tournament organizers, the sponsors, umpires, ball boys and of course, the fans, tennis players are increasingly using this platform to express emotion and connect with their fans.
Back in the 1980s American John McEnroe broke protocol by walking off the court to a cacophony of boos during Ivan Lendl's victory speech at the French Open.
Four years later on the same court, Frenchman Henri Leconte was similarly booed when he tried to break down the technicalities of why he lost to Sweden's Mats Wilander in the final.
These days, tears are standard protocol, and never more so than in the aforementioned 2009 Australian Open final when Federer famously broke down after losing to Nadal, in a manner the likes of which the tennis world hadn't seen since Jana Novotna in the 1990s. Novotna famously cried on the Duchess of Kent's shoulder after losing a Wimbledon final to Steffi Graf.
Federer would soon be back on the winner’s podium, and over the following months would get the opportunity to hear some of the most memorable runner-up speeches.
After the 2009 French Open final, having lost to Federer in straight sets, Robin Soderling joked: "Nobody beats Robin Soderling 13 times in a row."
Not so jovially, a few weeks later, Andy Roddick called out "You've won five times!" in response to Federer's assertion that he knew how Andy was feeling after his excruciatingly close five-set loss in the Wimbledon final.
In 2010, perhaps the humblest of speeches was uttered by a man not known at the time for his humility, when Andy Murray proclaimed: "I can cry like Roger. It's just a shame I can't play like him."
It was a statement which helped win the Scot a raft of new fans.
Professional tennis is competing with a multitude of sports for television revenue, sponsorship and ticket sales, and these speeches - often revealing players' humanity when their defences are down – arguably helps fans connect to the game's stars and just as importantly they make headlines. The media can't get enough of them.
Unlike in team sports, where support for clubs is often passed down in the family and developed in communities, maintaining and growing a fan base in an individual sport such as tennis is dependent on establishing personal connections between the players and supporters.
Seeing these players shed a few tears or a little humility helps show that these guys are people - just like you and me.
So, as a tradition, it is bizarre and as a requisite, it's brutal, but for the growth of the game, it is crucial.
In defeat there was honor and hope, as well as another record.
Roger Federer may have finished shy of adding to his record 17 grand slam titles, falling to Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open semifinals in all too familiar fashion, but the 32-year-old tennis great did add to his ever-increasing list of achievements by making his record-breaking 57th consecutive appearance at a grand slam.
While this may not the most glamorous milestone in the history books, in many respects it is one of the most important. FULL POST
For most job vacancies, a role is advertised, interested parties apply, interviews are held and an appointment is made.
It's a method Manchester United is currently using to fill a number of roles, such as a relationship manager and staffing manager, with the help of a recruitment website that describes itself as “executive career service for high caliber professionals.”
But the process of appointing a football manager remains rather ad hoc, none more so than in the case of David Moyes, who has had –- as baptisms of fire go - quite a grilling since succeeding Alex Ferguson at the helm of one of the world's biggest clubs.
Tickets to the big games aren’t cheap these days, and since the teams you’re paying to see can’t guarantee a winning performance – or even a decent one – they try at least to give you value for money.
In the U.S. they try harder than anywhere, and as such it sometimes feels as though you’re at a pop concert, tapping along with your foot as the buckets drop and the goals fly in. Sport and music are big players in the global entertainment industry, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that they work together.
On our high-definition televisions, sports highlights are often packaged up and edited to the beats of the day, and somehow they seem even better with a soundtrack. FULL POST
After nearly a decade without any real change at the top of men’s tennis, and not one player in the top 10 under the age of 25, could 2014 be the year the next generation of stars make their presence felt?
As the first grand slam of the season kicks off in Australia, here are five potential champions of the future to keep your eye on. FULL POST
By James Masters
The two greatest players in a generation – a host of conspiracy theories and an award ceremony which will lead to yet more debate over which man really rules the world.
As the football world converged on the Swiss city of Zurich on Monday, the cynical could be excused for rolling their eyes at another mind-numbingly dull FIFA ceremony – sorry “gala” - which appeared to last half a lifetime.
The awkward interviews, the pre-rehearsed throwaway lines and the pictures of delegates fighting furiously to stay awake are all part of the production. FULL POST
Not much info from the investigators looking into Schumacher accident. Inquiry may take several weeks but speed "not important".—
Alex Thomas (@alexthomascnn) January 08, 2014
It’s the bugbear of every football fan.
A player hits the turf after a collision with an opponent, rolling around in apparent agony before the referee brings the game to a halt.
The stricken “victim” is eventually led from the field, either limping alongside his team’s physio or lying prostrate on a stretcher.
When the player leaves the pitch and the action eventually resumes, something miraculous happens. FULL POST