Posted: Monday March 28, 2005 3:45PM; Updated: Monday March 28, 2005 4:27PM
Martina Navratilova will endorse Olivia, a travel company for lesbians.
Martina Navratilova signed a deal to endorse Olivia, a travel company for lesbians. "This is the first deal I've gotten because I am gay," she told TheNew York Times. "Hallelujah." Amen.
A few weeks ago we discussed the disappearance of Nicolas Lapentti. There was a sighting last week as the former top 10er qualified for the Nasdaq before falling to Sebastien Grosjean in straight sets.
The ATP's official magazine, Deuce, goes on sale this week for the first time via subscription. The spring '05 issue, to be unveiled Tuesday night at the joint ATP-Sony Ericsson WTA Tour awards ceremony in Miami, features a cover story on Federer, by acclaimed author Mark Mathabane. The magazine now is available through leading bookstores and subscriptions via ATPtennis.com. The spring issue is the first edition as part of a new partnership with Portland's Skies America International Publishing and Communications -- or as it's known locally, the Conde Nast of greater Raleigh Hills.
James Limborg of Roseville, Minn., calls to our attention his new tennis song titled Red, White and Green. It can be heard on his Web site.
On to the questions ...
So how long before Federer becomes the person people root against? -- Ted M., Baltimore
It depends on how repugnant you find dominance. We all like the underdog. But personally, I can't root against dominance until it is accompanied by a negative quality -- say, George Steinbrenner's free-spending ways, the predatory tactics of Wal-Mart, the pretty-boy arrogance of William ("Get him a body bag!") Zabka in TheKarate Kid.
To date, Federer has given us no reason to side against him. We thought there might have been a window of opportunity when he petulantly skipped Davis Cup; alas (if that's the right word), he spent that week making a humanitarian visit to South Africa, his mother's mother country. Right now you have to regard Roger Federer as Michael Jordan circa '92. Just sit back and appreciate.
Jon Wertheim will answer questions from SI.com users in his mailbag every Wednesday.
The Pacific Life Open was overshadowed by the NCAA Tournament and generated little buzz in the sports media. The Lleyton Hewitt-Roddick match was televised after midnight and didn't even rate a mention in my Sunday paper. The '03 Nasdaq final was shortened to three sets because of NCAA coverage on CBS. Do you agree that these tournaments should be moved to February or back to April? -- Kyle Anderson, St. Louis
Adding to a host of other factors working against the sport, the tennis calendar is brutal, at least in the U.S. The Australian Open usually ends on Super Bowl Sunday. Federer could take the court naked, win 6-0, 6-0, 6-0, announce he was quitting tennis to start a bluegrass band and it wouldn't dent the American consciousness that weekend. Miami and Indian Wells (the fifth and sixth Slams, if you will) coincide with March Madness. The French Open ends right around the same time as the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup. And the U.S. Open usually ends on the first Sunday of the NFL season.
Following Marat Safin's surprising, if not landscape-changing, Australian Open victory, how about new predictions for year-end rankings? Do you think Safin could keep this up? -- Paul Helingher, Rotterdam, Netherlands
I can't remember what I wrote, and I'm too lazy to look it up. But how does this sound?
1) Federer 2) Safin 3) Hewitt 4) Roddick 5) Rafael Nadal
Some notes: Look out for Guillermo Coria, especially if he wins in Paris. Also, you could obviously make a strong case for Ljubicic right now.
Is there a case for seeding players based on current form rather than on rankings? For instance, Ljubicic was seeded 13th in Indian Wells, Calif., but he is one of the only players to consistently play Federer close. Ljubicic has also reached a couple of tournament finals this year -- surely he is not the 13th best player at the moment. -- Mark Bright, Kent, England
Subjective seeding opens the proverbial can of worms, but you raise a good point. This goes back to a philosophical (not really) debate: Are seeds meant to reward players for their results over the previous year? Or are they there to predict results? If the former, we should go by the rankings. If the latter, we ought to look at current form.
I think subjective seeding is a hard sell and raises the likelihood of controversy and disgruntled players -- the last thing the sport needs. But for cases like Wimbledon, where some players have impressive track records on grass and others are all but genetically incapable of competing on the surface, it makes sense to consider more than just rankings.
Whither Martin Verkerk, erstwhile French Open finalist? -- Ryan Crinnigan, Indianapolis
The omniscient Greg Sharko (you may recall the name from the acknowledgments page of A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again) informs us Verkerk has been out with a right shoulder injury (he had surgery on Oct. 12) and is hoping to make a return in Monte Carlo in a couple of weeks.
This, by the way, is what I love about tennis: An Indiana reader inquires about a Dutch player who will make a comeback in Monte Carlo.
People are always talking about the Nasdaq Open being the "fifth Grand Slam." What if it had the same features as a Major with a mixed doubles draw and no first-round byes? Would it officially become a Slam? Will there ever be a fifth Slam? -- Steve K., St. Louis
I like that idea. Mixed doubles is like filler programming for a promoter. Or, as Mary Carillo calls it: "The funny cars of tennis." But the fans like it, the players get to earn some extra dough and it highlights tennis' great "mixed-gender" virtue. And you're right: In its frivolous way, it would imbue an event like the Nasdaq with the feel of a Major.
Same with expanding the draw to 128. I'm sure the Slams, and the ITF would fight it, but what, really, are the material (and financial) differences between a 128 draw and a 96 draw?