DUMPING DECORUM IN THE DUSTBIN

Nicolas Keifer couldn't give a damn for decorum and clearly doesn't care for what people think of him. The German, a semifinalist, showed off some shots at the Open; he also for a while was a disgrace.

Tennis wants characters, it desires players unashamed to be passionate, to unlock themselves and reveal their emotions. But tennis has no need for obnoxiousness either. Kiefer hurled water bottles around, muttered like a spoilt child denied an ice-cream, waggled his finger, got in an umpire's face, got warnings for unsportsmanlike conduct and $6000 worth of fines. For a while when he played you thought this was boys' section. Adult he wasn't. "I'm winning matches here because I'm fighting unbelievable,'' Kiefer said. "And this makes me happy. Not by playing tennis but by fighting.'' Perhaps Keifer believed he was at the Open to win matches, not a popularity contest. Fair enough. Perhaps he required his rage to spur him. Acceptable, too. But no explanation suffices for crossing the boundaries of sportsmanship.

When Keifer threw his racket across the court while his quarter-final opponent Sebastien Grosjean was attempting a shot, he went too far. Grosjean lost the point. Keifer should have apologised and conceded it. He didn't.

Later he called Grosjean a "friend", to which the Frenchman replied, "Friend is a big word". They will not be sharing croissants for breakfast any time soon.