Come on, come on. Please dear God, I beg of you, when these main draw pairings come out, please give me a Spanish clay-courter, a French shot-maker or a slow-serving Argentinian with a hot girlfriend and a shaky backhand.

Match me with any one of those guys and I will forever be in your debt. I will go to church, temple, the Davis Cup, whatever you want, no questions asked.

I’ll even settle for a seven-foot-tall former NCAA singles champion out of Stanford with a 200 miles-per-hour serve. Who cares if he wears his baseball cap backward like an asshole?

All I ask you Lord is that you please don’t give me him. Anybody but anybody but him.

Is that too much for a poor, first-time U.S. Open qualifier to ask?

Give me Rafael Nadal if you want. I would gladly let Rafa bagelize me on day one as compared to you-know-who.

Let Martha Stewart, Ben Stiller, and twenty thousand douchebag hedge fund managers watch that Spanish bull stomp me on Center Court like he’s running through Pamplona. They won’t even finish their melon martinis before he beats me.

Fine with me. No problemo. Simply for making the main draw I pocket a few grand. Sweet deal, right?

Of course, I’m going to have to shell-out whatever prize money I earn to stay in New York City for those few days. Hotel, food, transportation to Flushing Meadows, racquet stringing. That’s some serious overhead in an already expensive city.

Maybe I can crash on somebody’s couch. Who do I know in New York? What was that girl’s name with the tennis ball tattoo on her inner thigh? Heidi? Shari? Sandy? Or was Sandy the one in Springfield with the husband who likes to watch?

Anyway, all I’m saying is that it’s a pricey proposition for a hundred-plus ranked piker like me simply to visit NYC, even for the purpose of being summarily fed, digested and shat out by Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic.

Hey, I’ll take Djokovic in the first round. Compared to him, playing the Joker would be a dream. I may even steal a game. Look, I may not have won seventeen majors, but I do have some skills. Remember that time in Cincinnati when I took Stan Wawrinka to four sets?

Hell yeah I did! I’m no slouch.

Who cares if he had food poisoning?

And like I said, I don’t care who I draw in the Open as long as it’s not him. Whether it’s Stan again, or Nadal, Djokovic, Thiem, Tsitsipas, even Nick Kyrgios that crazy Australian bastard. Doesn’t bother me.

Better I get thrown to those lions than be fed to him with Anna Wintour and every woman in Arthur Ashe Stadium drooling over us. Over him, I should say.

And speaking of the fairer sex, it’s not like he’s playing the field with the rest of the field either. He’s happily married with a wife and kids… The bastard! I’m not saying he has to be Kobe Bryant—too soon?—but come on!

Forget it. Give me a Russian. Medvedev, Rublev, Khachanov…. Put me on the court with any of those Ivan Dragos and this little Rocky here will get all the sympathy cheers hands down.

And deservedly so! I’m the freaking underdog, aren’t I?

So what if the Russkies brood around the locker room with five o’clock shadows and questionable hygiene? I can deal with getting matched up against a stinky Slav on day one, round one.

What I can’t deal with is facing off against a guy who sells his own fragrance at Bloomingdales. I mean, they bottle and sell his odor. And the worst part is, I want to smell like him too!

Can you blame me? It’s like he’s the illegitimate Swiss son of James Bond, Cary Grant, and Bjorn Borg. And he’s how old again? Forty? Forty-one? He’s going to get the AARP crowd cheering for him… Wait… Oh no. Oh no, no, no. I just remembered.

Shit! My mother.

Mom, if the camera catches you clapping or even smiling for him when he’s whipping my ass—your own son’s ass!—then I am not coming home for Christmas!

Let’s be serious Mom. I know how you feel about him, I know you think he’s “so graceful” and handles himself “so wonderfully” when he loses to Rafa at Roland Garros. But you support him in the slightest and I’m playing the Dubai Open next December. They don’t give a shit about Christmas over there and neither will I if I’m matched up against—

Oh crap. Here it comes.

Okay. Here we go. Here comes the draw…

Please God. Please be Rafa…

Dear Lord. Please be Joker…

Come on. Pick a Russian, any Russian…

Pick anybody but anybody but anybody but…

Really God?

First-round. Center Court.

Was it the Kobe comment? It is kind of soon, isn’t it?

Maybe you want me to go to Dubai for Christmas.

Maybe you like the way Russian tennis players smell.

Maybe… ah, what’s the use?

Might as well be me.

Fucking Roger Federer.


And now a quick joke...

It’s fitting that I never learned how to correctly spell “self-sabatogue.”