Mighty Fed strikes out (cont.)
Posted: Wednesday March 14, 2007 11:15AM; Updated: Wednesday March 14, 2007 12:04PM
Not to be parochial or anything, but for the best volleyer, have you forgotten Leander Paes? You must have seen those hands at the net. Oh, and another question: I finally have a job that will pay me enough to afford a book. If I were to buy one tennis book, which one should it be? Pete Bodo's Courts of Babylon? Feinstein's Hard Courts?
I'll add Paes. And I'll definitely add Tim Henman. Not sure how he slipped my mind and a few of you justifiably, roasted me for omitting him. As for the book, go with Bodo. We've also extolled the virtues of Gordon Forbes' Handful of Summers.
Hope you won't dodge commenting on this money quote from Etienne de Villiers: "Personally I made a mistake," he said. "But we need to get things into perspective. We didn't make a decision to invade Iraq. I've heard words like 'doom' and 'apocalyptic', but 2½ million starving in Africa is a disaster -- this is a furry ball going over a net."
That one rubbed me wrong, too. Lord knows there are enough folks out there willing to tell us how irrelevant tennis is; the last thing we need is a CEO trivializing the sport. If Nikolay Davydenko was fined for demeaning the Sydney event, what will E.T. be ponying up for denigrating the entire sport?
As for his sentiment, I admit that I've had similar thoughts. You receive a batch of hate mail for predicting that Kim Clijsters won't win another Slam and you feel like saying, "Jeez, people, it's just friggin' tennis. Save your outrage for Darfur." But one quickly realizes that the people who get so passionate about tennis minutia are in many ways the lifeblood of the sport. If no one cared about the round-robin debacle -- if everyone just viewed tennis as a divertissement involving "a furry ball going over a net" -- the sport would really be in trouble.
This time you have to print my e-mail: Your WTA Greg Sharko replica is a fake! Vinci-Garbin was the fifth all-Italian final in WTA history. The other four were: Cecchini-Reggi (Barcelona '85), Bonsignori-Garrone (Estoril '90), Piccolini-Farina (San Marino '91), Grande-Antonella Serra Zanetti (Casablanca '03).
Grazie, as they say in Angola.
When Alex Charles of Lancaster, Pa., said he played in a 9.0 mixed doubles match, what he meant was the total ratings of his partner and him was 9.0.
That must have been a really lame joke because a half-dozen of you wrote in with the same explanation.
I agree that the debacle in Las Vegas regarding the round robin showed why this format should be put to rest, but if tournament organizers want to try to keep players around (if they are not playing doubles), why not try a double elimination tournament where the loser's bracket matches are a no-ad pro set. For smaller tournaments, it could be interesting for someone to lose in the first round and then come back through the loser's bracket to win the tournament. Could be interesting. Your thoughts?
A few of you wrote in on this point and I like that idea a lot. I've been buried in the pool world lately (long story) and the "back draw" works great. It's easy to follow and obviates the problem of a star attraction losing early. Note to the ATP.
Has there been a Serena Williams sighting since the Australian Open? Will she suddenly appear, larger than life itself, at Roland Garros? Tennis fans, yearning for her exciting play, long for answers.
During Serena's run to the Australian Open final, John Roddick (Andy's brother) jokingly asked her, "So when are we going to see you again? Roland Garros?" Serena's response was a good-natured "Shut up." But it turns out to be a pretty good guess. Serena is slated to play Key Biscayne next week. But then again, she's been slated to appear in dozens of events over the years. All part of what her makes her both so intriguing and maddening.
Do we give too much kudos to players who win Slams compared to those who don't but otherwise have stellar careers? Take a player like Pat Rafter. He is oft-spoken in the same breath as an Agassi and Sampras but I reckon he is somewhat over-rated. Sure, he won a couple of U.S. Opens, but outside of that, he won just a handful of smaller events, yet he is a shoe-in for Hall of Fame largely on the basis of those two Opens. How does Rafter's career compare with, say, someone like Michael Chang, who won a ton of tournaments, was in the top 6-7 virtually his entire career, and won a Slam to boot?
I was getting ready to agree with you that yes, we do sometimes put too much stock in Grand Slam titles. However, we can find much better examples than Rafter, who I always thought, if anything, had an underrated career. Here's a guy who was still playing qualies in his 20s and elevated his game to win two majors, reach the Wimbledon final twice and even the semis at Roland Garros. He played a nice game of doubles, competed well in Davis Cup and played artistically pleasing attacking tennis to boot. You're right that he wasn't the equal of Sampras or Agassi. But if Rafter didn't have Newport-worthy credentials, the Hall of Fame may as well have be a Room of Fame.
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