Sporting Life

Everybody, every day, wants to beat great players

Great players sit before the cameras, adjust their hair and prepare their cliches. "I don't underestimate my rival," they say with an accountant's earnestness. It is a tired line and yet a true one.

They might jest once in a while, as John McEnroe did in 1989, when he said if Michael Chang got to the Wimbledon final he'd "drop his shorts on Centre Court". They might talk up their form but never display an interest in dining on a rival's heart - as Mike Tyson did. But mostly a gentle air of modesty is a nice armour to wear against future embarrassment.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 10, 2018, with the headline 'They all want to beat great players - and know it'. Print Edition | Subscribe