British tennis player Tim Henman has branded Davis Cup opponents Croatia 'muppets' just weeks ahead of the crucial tie, accusing them of being 'wimps, pushovers and just pussies generally', in what can only be described as an uncharacteristic and unprovoked tirade.
The normally mild mannered and reserved Henman, who shall retire after the clash, went after everyone remotely connected to Croatia in front of a one-seventh and a quarter full press room yesterday:
"All I've got to say is that these punks are going down. They've got no chance. Me and Andy will take them to the cleaners. Ivan Ljubicic? Uncle fucking fester. Mario Ancic? Might as well be fucking Super Mario-the guy plays like a plumber. Novak Djokovic? JOKEovic more like and Ivo Karlovic? Ha ha, fuck off-these Croat jokers ain't got shit."
When informed that Djokovic was actually a Serb, Henman snapped:
"Serbs...Croats...what's the difference? They're all dark moody bastards."
The stunning and inexplicable venting from Henman was reportedly the result of years of keeping things bottled up and now that he is retiring, the Brit number two has been released from his shackles and is enjoying the newfound freedom that retirement brings, at least according to one friend, known only as 'Smudger':
"Yeah well Tiger's always been like this ain't he? Just had to keep a lid on it to please the man. Remember when he hit that ball girl with a ball at Wimbledon over ten years ago now? That was the real Tiger. The public don't really know the real Tim."
Another friend, known only as 'Spudgun' had this to say:
"Well Tiger's always badmouthing everyone when he's around his mates, ain't he? He's called Sampras a wally and Rusedski a grinning wanker, when they ain't around and the cameras are off. He's not gonna say it to their faces cause he knows that they'd beat him to a pulp and stick his head in the toilet. Well, now that he's retiring, it don't matter no more and he can say what he wants about his fellow pros-and all I can say to that is 'Go Tiger!'.
Some have suggested that Henman's animosity toward Croatia stems from his loss to Ivanisevic in the 2001 rain-interrupted Wimbledon semi-final; Henman's greatest chance of winning his favorite grandslam-a theory reinforced by Henman's statements yesterday:
"Goran, I know you're out there-probably still milking your fluke win over me in 2001. Well, you lanky twat, I've got news for you-your little country's getting their arses kicked this September, and if you wanna show, then bring your racket and we can go at it one last time sunshine. Heck-arm wrestling, mud wrestling, volleyball-whatever the fuck you wanna do-I'm there. Just bring it", raged Henman, swilling from his tenth can of beer.
Croatia and Ivanisevic have yet to respond, as they are said to be shaking with fear.