Blame it on Bogdanovic

EVERY so often, there’s a survey released which claims the vast majority of Britons are in the wrong job for their personality. I’m beginning to wonder if Alex Bogdanovic is one of them.

Bogdanovic is the tennis player who lost the deciding match in Britain’s Davis Cup tie against Austria on Sunday. Even though he’s only 24, he already has a long history of promising much, then failing to live up to expectations.

Even so, I find it extraordinary that not only has he been held up as the man responsible for Britain’s defeat by one of his own team-mates, but that he was prepared to accept the blame too.

Andy Murray, the man who kept Britain in the tie by winning both if his singles matches, said afterwards: “The guys in the other matches didn’t get the crowd involved. When Alex fell behind, I didn’t see any fist-pumps or hear any ‘come-ons’.”

And GB captain John Lloyd echoed those comments with his own, which began as a general criticism, but ended up centring on Britain’s hapless No 2.

“Alex has been around for a lot of years,” Lloyd said. “For him it’s a question of where his commitment wants to go from here. How far does he want to go up the ladder?”

Weirdest of all, though, is the fact that Bogdanovic seems perfectly prepared to take all of this, like one of those nervous wrecks who used to get their dress sense ripped to pieces by Trinny and Susannah.

“I agree with what Murray’s saying,” Alex said. “It comes down to personalities. When I get pumped up, it takes too much out of me. I was trying to stay calm.”

Now I’m not one of those people who subscribes to the view that ‘nice guys come last’. I can understand that the level of drive required to be successful in a competitive environment can drive you a bit nuts. Anyone who tells you that you have to be a nasty piece of work to get to the top, though, has got cause and effect muddled up.

(Put it this way: If Sir Alan Sugar really runs his companies in the manner in which he behaves on The Apprentice, it’s a miracle he’s still in business.)

And yet, despite all of this, I can’t help but ask this: If Alex Bogdanovic is after calmness, what on earth is he doing playing sport for a living?

Three more questions. One: Why on earth is he taking the kind of character assassinations handed out by Murray (who can at least point to two wins over the weekend) and Lloyd (whose tactical judgement can, at the very least, be questioned after Britain’s defeat) lying down?

Two: Why was Bogdanovic, who has never won a meaningful Davis Cup singles match, placed in position where he played the decider, given that Murray and Lloyd appear to think he’s useless in those kind of situations?

Three: Given that Britain has never had more than one half-decent male tennis player at any time in my living memory, why would we expect any success in a competition which requires a country to have four?

You can blame Britain’s defeat on Alex Bogdanovic if you like. But it’s a fair bet he won’t be playing next time the Davis Cup comes around – and I still wouldn’t expect things to get any better.


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