It’s no secret that the internet is full of idiots, and that plenty of keyboard tough guys love to vent at celebrities, athletes and other public figures from behind a wall of anonymity on Twitter.
And plenty of tennis players are being served up some inexplicable criticism.
Ukraine-born American Alex Kuznetsov, virtually anonymous as the world #171 on the ATP Tour, played his way into the main draw of the 2013 French Open but lost in the 1st Round.
He made it to a major, which is more than most of us will ever do, but that wasn’t enough for some Twitter folk.
And American Tim Smyczek, who was knocked out during qualifying a Roland Garros, also got the brunt of an irate fan.
The most plausible explanation for the attacks levelled at Kuznetsov and his little-known tennis-playing ilk is that there’s money on the line.
Bookmakers had made Kuznetsov a marginal favourite against 19-year-old French rising star Lucas Pouille. But when he lost, he faced the wrath of those who had bet on him.
While not all insulting post-defeat tweets mention gambling directly, tennis players believe that’s typically the motivation.
What’s interesting is how many of the tweets come from Eastern Europe, where online gambling is legal and tennis gambling is omnipresent.
Tennis offers the angry gambler the tempting target of a single human being because you can’t yell at a horse, a deck of cards nor a lottery ticket for falling short!
It’s an ugly sidelight to social media, and one that’s not likely to change soon. We’ve always behaved badly; now we can do it in front of the entire world.
Just be careful, cyber-tough guys. You might just anger some athlete or celebrity enough that they come hunt you down.