Posted: Monday March 21, 2005 4:30PM; Updated: Monday March 21, 2005 5:56PM
The U.S. Davis Cup team's frustration during its first-round loss to Croatia was evident in Andy Roddick's expression.
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
I completely concur with your assessment of the U.S. Davis Cup loss, especially in exonerating captain Patrick McEnroe. However, I wonder if the "hunger" factor may have also played a significant factor. I don't doubt the sincerity of Roddick, Andre Agassi or the Bryan brothers to win the Davis Cup. But in countries like Croatia -- or almost anywhere else in the world -- winning the Davis Cup is a huge deal. Much more so than in the U.S. You can't manufacture the kind of hunger that emanates from the desire to bring glory and worldwide attention to your country, especially when that country might have been recently ravaged by war, stuck in poverty or mired in political turmoil (or all of the above). -- Rob Claus, New York City
Quick story: The day after the Davis Cup tie, Roddick went on Jay Leno's show. Before Roddick can say much of anything, Leno says something to the effect of, "I know you took a hard loss yesterday, and we appreciate you still being man enough to come on the show tonight." Clearly the host had been prepped that Roddick was really in the doldrums.
Hunger is a pretty abundant commodity among the Americans. True, they wouldn't have been feted with a parade down Main Street had they won the tie. (True they wouldn't even have made the first half of SportsCenter or gotten a full-blown story in Sports Illustrated.) But these guys know American tennis gets kicked around a lot, and they know it's been nearly a decade since the U.S. won the Cup.
I was wondering who you think is the best male player not to have won a Grand Slam title? My vote would go to David Nalbandian. -- Tanvir Mazumder, London
I would say Henman, Nalbandian and Guillermo Coria in that order. Maybe throw a Tommy Haas and Rafael Nadal in the mix too. No one is disappointed Nadal hasn't broke through yet, but you asked for the "best" players and he qualifies on those grounds. Unlike past eras, though, there is not a glaring Marcelo Rios-type candidate. On the women's side, for instance, Clijsters and Amelie Mauresmo have, of course, achieved the top spot in the ranking without winning a Major.
Regarding the WTA Special Ranking: On the WTA's site, there is a .pdf file with all of the WTA rules. On pages 228-232, there is 1,200 word "explanation" of the rule. I'm sure I didn't really get this right, but from what I can tell, they've removed the part where players can be seeded according to their special ranking. They can only use it to gain direct entry into the tournament. Hope this helps. -- Petr Pronsati, New York City
I know you are a huge doubles fan, so here's a question: Who are the top five exclusive doubles players on the Tour? -- Chris Dion, Nassau, Bahamas
Given your hometown, I'll start with Mark Knowles. Guess I'll add Todd Woodbridge, Kevin Ullyett, Mike Bryan and Daniel Nestor. Note: Bob Bryan has top-50 singles talent if he committed himself.
Do you think tournament promoters are doing Donald Young a disservice by giving him wildcards into top-tier ATP events? I would think getting thrown to the wolves on a regular basis would damage a teenager's confidence and do little to improve his game. Wouldn't he be better off with wildcards into Challenger events, which would provide less lopsided competition and a decent amount of ranking points? -- Clint Swett, Sacramento
I'm with you. This is shabby client management. Young's talent is unmistakable, but he has the body -- and thus the game -- of a boy. Making him play men is like making Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight heavyweights. (He made Arnaud Clement look like Arnaud Schwarzenegger.) If he wants to enter a small, garden variety event like San Jose and get a feel for a legit ATP event, that's fine. But he lacks the physical tools to be a force right now, and there is little sense entering him in three events in six weeks so he can lose decisively to marginal pros. His people can tell him "you have nothing to lose," but if I'm a teenager and I'm mustering little resistance against journeyman, my self-belief isn't exactly sky-high right now.
Securing these wild cards is a way for IMG to flex some muscle, put a little coin in Young's pocket and get him some points. But to what end?
Is there any online location that gives cable channels and broadcast times of ATP/WTA tournaments? -- Aideen Currid, Riverside, Pa.
Our friend Ian Katz of Key Biscayne, Fla., takes us on this trip down memory lane: Some of the round of 16 singles in the 16-and-under boys division from the (August) 1985 USTA championships in Kalamazoo, Mich.:
(14) David Kass, Columbus, Ohio, def. (7) Andre Agassi, Las Vegas, 6-4, 6-2.
(4) Jim Courier, Dade City, Fla., def. Ty Tucker, Zanesville, Ohio, 6-3, 6-4.
(6) John Falbo, Charleston, W.Va., def. (10) Carl Chang, La Costa, Calif., 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
(8) Martin Blackman, Bronx, N.Y., def. Len Lopoo, Baton Rouge, La., 6-3, 6-0.