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Beware of the Gimel's Blog Jinx

We all know of the SI cover hex, but this is ridiculous

Posted: Friday January 20, 2006 6:29PM; Updated: Monday January 23, 2006 11:19AM
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Overwhelming Aussie Open favorite Roger Federer is simply too good to succumb to the Gimel's Blog jinx, right? Don't be so sure.
Overwhelming Aussie Open favorite Roger Federer is simply too good to succumb to the Gimel's Blog jinx, right? Don't be so sure.
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MELBOURNE, Australia -- Everyone is familiar with the Sports Illustrated cover jinx. Well, so far at this year's Australian Open, it looks like my column is a jinx as well.

I've been taking a lot of heat regarding my predictions, and rightfully so. Andy Roddick was the first guy in the locker room to call me out on my "Six young players to watch" debacle, as five of my picks crashed out in the first round. Then, to add further fuel to the jinx theory, Aussie native son Lleyton Hewitt was bounced in the second round by Juan Ignacio Chela after I predicted his safe passage to the later rounds of the tournament.

The icing on the cake was James Blake losing on Thursday night to Tommy Robredo. I gave James props in this column at last fall's U.S. Open. Robredo is a great player, but Blake had dominated him 3-0 head-to-head -- until Friday, when the added weight of my prognostication proved too much to contend with.

So here we go. I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize to all the players about whom I have thought, and continue to think, positive thoughts. My only advice is, beware.

This whole creepy affair has led to an interesting development in the locker room and players' lounge here. My colleagues have started to avoid me as if I were one of the many European players who seem to fear soap and deodorant!

Requests are being made for me to predict horrible failure for my friends on tour. Roddick's coach, Dean Goldfine, and his trainer, Doug Spreen -- two of the nicest guys on Tour -- pleaded with me to keep my positive thoughts regarding their charge to myself. Roddick, usually a staunch supporter of my column, is now in official boycott mode.

Since many of my loyal readers are well aware that I already alienated Lindsay Davenport last fall with my, uh, controversial first column, I don't have to worry about her fearing or even being aware of the jinx. That leaves only one player who remains in jeopardy: Roger Federer.

The good news for him is that certain things aren't subject to cosmic influences. Once in awhile, individuals come along in their particular profession or walk of life and have that rare combination of physical talent, emotional balance and desire to fulfill their potential. Nothing, not even the Gimel's Blog jinx, can affect that inevitable outcome.

So next weekend, when both Davenport and Federer are basking in their Grand Slam glory, the Gimel's Blog jinx will be officially extinguished. Hopefully then the ridicule with cease!

Calm down, gossip fans

The much hyped Roddick/Maria Sharapova love match isn't what the tennis world is craving it to be. They are not together. Sorry, guys. While it makes a great story and gives the gossip magazines something to occupy their pages, they are both in Australia to win a tennis tournament, not engross themselves in some dramatic love affair.

In sticking with the Roddick theme, though, I nominate him for quote of the tournament for his response during Friday's press conference regarding his upcoming encounter with Cyprus native Marcos Baghdatis and his legion of excitable supporters (whom I experienced first-hand in my first-round loss to Baghdatis):

"I have a bunch of half-naked women, and he has a bunch of sweaty men. I know who I'd rather have dinner with."

Outspoken ATP tennis pro Justin Gimelstob is participating in this year's Australian Open and is a frequent contributor to SI.com. He's competing in men's doubles on Saturday with partner Ashley Fisher.