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On her own terms (cont.)

Posted: Wednesday April 4, 2007 11:29AM; Updated: Wednesday April 4, 2007 2:52PM
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Israeli Shahar Peer is a target of antisemitism when she plays events in the Middle East.
Israeli Shahar Peer is a target of antisemitism when she plays events in the Middle East.

Venus and Serena have every justification for standing up to racism, but I don't feel for them nearly as much as I do for Shahar Peer, who is allowed to play Dubai and Doha only under the condition that she doesn't bring any other Israelis or Jews (her coaches and family) with her. A heckler is a lot easier to deal with than a nation.
-- Emmett, San Francisco

We've discussed this unfortunate situation in the past and let's just call this what it is: an indefensible sell-out, pure and simple. The WTA execs are lucky that: a) Peer is choosing not to make an issue of this; b) she doesn't have an outspoken, cigarillo-smoking dad to challenge the tour; and c) tennis is such a niche sport that the mainstream media hasn't picked up this. It's hard to imagine too many other sports leagues sanctioning a mandatory event in a country that bans some of the workforce from entering on the basis of race, nationality or religion.

Short and sweet: Why does a tournament of such stature like the Sony Ericsson Open has such a malnourished Web site?
-- Rex, Leipzig, Germany

Agreed. And we must have gotten two dozens e-mails making the same point. Note to IMG: At a time when tennis has never more globalized and wired, the Web site shouldn't be the object of your belt-tightening. This event has plenty to recommend. A first-rate site is not among them.

Whoa, gross overstatement on the "decline" of Marat Safin! We're four months removed from his winning rubber in the Davis Cup Final, a feat some players believe is equal (superior?) to a Slam trophy. Last summer, his ranking fell to No. 104 (injury), and now he has worked his way back into the top 25. Not too shabby in his two most recent slams either, five-set nail-biting losses to Andy Roddick and Tommy Haas. Retirement? Give me a break.
-- Johnny Ballgame, Atlanta

Straight-set losses to Benjamin Becker and a fading Lleyton Hewitt? A third-set bagel in a Masters Series event at the hands of Nicolas Mahut? A straight set loss to struggling Feliciano Lopez on hard courts in Key Biscayne? We're talking about Safin, a two-time Grand Slam winner here. No one saying he's through, but his results so far haven't been encouraging.

Novak "No Joke" Djokovic. Is it too soon for nicknames or has somebody beaten me to the punch? I like this Djokovic for the long run.
-- Andy, New York City

I'm partial to "Dee-jay Okovic." Also, I "The Midnight Djoker," which may be Pete Bodo's creation. We also deem, Novak "Jiri" Djokovic acceptable. As for your other point, yes, he is a keeper. Vicious rumors swirl that he has retained the estimable Benito Perez Barbadillo for his p.r., a move the presages big things.

It's understood that Federer will undoubtedly go down as one of the all-time greats in tennis. My question is, do you see anyone else (currently ranked in the top 25) go down as one of the best?
-- Chris Rodgers, Omaha, Neb.

Interesting question. And, as we've said before, Federer really distorts the math here. In another era, Rafael Nadal might be, say, another Mats Wilander. (Better athlete? Check? Hits a bigger ball? Check? Steadier? No. More durable? Unlikely -- but at least it's a valid conversation.) But so long as Federer is so dominant, there's no way Nadal is going to put up Wilander-like numbers.


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