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Pete's still got pop (pt. 3)

Posted: Wednesday March 12, 2008 11:07AM; Updated: Wednesday March 12, 2008 11:07AM
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I must respectfully disagree with the band-to-player assignments in your analogy, despite Mr. Sampras' fondness for Pearl Jam. Here are my suggestions for a truer picture:
Sampras = Nirvana. They were the best of their generation, bar-none, in terms of both quality and results.
Andre Agassi = Pearl Jam. The survivors. They continued to garner significant success well past the twilight of their contemporaries' careers.
Jim Courier = Soundgarden. Even after their main careers ended they both stayed visible on the scene. Soundgarden spawned Audioslave, Courier became a TV announcer.
Michael Chang = Alice in Chains. Chang and Alice in Chains' Layne Staley worked through the pain to produce singular accomplishments. But neither were on the top for long and both were overshadowed by their more popular and more successful peers.
Andrew J., Jersey City, N.J.

I would quibble that Chang has fared considerably better than Staley. But otherwise this is very well done. Makes we want to go out and rent the movie Singles.

I would argue that Soundgarden is actually the best band of that bunch, but ... I don't know who Agassi is, but it's not Nirvana. They were over too fast, but Agassi stuck it out for 20 years and exited with grace (can't say the same for Kurt Cobain).
Kevin Knudson, Starkville, Miss.

Agreed. Agassi as Cobain also means that Steffi Graf is Courtney Love, which seems horribly inappropriate. (Note to self: Have we ever done a "Long-List Siblings" with Dave Grohl and Goran Ivanisevic?)

In fairness, you should always preface any news about an ATP player if he is a father, by loudly stating that he is a father before you say anything else that relates to tennis. Please be sure to make the fact that he is a father the focal point of whatever is said about the player.
-- Maria, Long Island, N.Y.

Did you hear that "Pops" Bjorkman played or "Dads" Hewitt played a tournament last week in Las Vegas? Amazing! Adorable! How do they do it? Full-time dads and full-time tennis players! Let's just hope they didn't switch the bottles and drink baby formula on change-overs! Can they get the warblings of Raffi and Hannah Montana out of their heads when they play? Can you hit a two-handed backhand while wearing a Baby Bjorn?

Maria raises, a good point, obviously in reference to the gushing Lindsay Davenport coverage. Tennis players have doubled as parents for years. Even the stars: Agassi comes immediately to mind. Yet somehow it's only remarkable when the player is a female. As Linda Richman would say: Discuss!

What about some love for Katarina Srebotnik? She just bumped up to No. 3 on the doubles ranking (her career high) and has always a seed at the Gram Slams for the past few years.
-- Landon Wallace, Rockingham, N.C.

Not only that, but she makes periodic appearances in The New York Times crossword puzzle. (Eight-letter word: "Tennis player Srebotnik.") One of the top-five volleyers in women's tennis.

Hey Jon, could you intervene and finally get Yahoo! Sports to correct its lingering error -- Anastasia Rodionova shows up on its scoreboards as "Anastasia 2-2," and has for more than a year now!
-- Reggie, New York

I would say something, but I'm afraid it would jeopardize the Microsoft deal. Also, James of San Francisco caught this: "Check out the 11th-ranked woman."

Shots, miscellany

• Best cheer from Sampras-Federer. "Pete for Governor!" (An Eliot Spitzer reference for those readers living in caves.)

• For as many irrelevant people as there were throwing elbows trying to take credit for Monday night's success, a tip of the cap to Federer's agent, Tony Godsick, and Sampras' brother, Gus, for ultimately making this thing happen. A little birdie told us that, after a well-known financial services company dropped out, it was Godsick who first lined up NetJets as a sponsor. And then the dominoes started lining up.

• Why do athletes seek (tax) shelter in Switzerland? Paul Schreier of Thaiwil (near Zurich) notes: "High-income individuals can negotiate individual tax agreements with the tax authorities who figure better a tiny piece of a really big pie rather than no piece at all. There are a large number of prominent sports, entertainment and corporate figures who choose to 'live' here for this reason. Besides -- except for an unusually high cost of living -- this is just a wonderful place to live!"

Aaron Gerritz of Arlington, Va., writes: "Since ESPN has dumped coverage of both Indian Wells and Miami, I wanted to let D.C.-area viewers know where to find local broadcast times. Fox Sports Net owns the rights, but locally that means Comcast Sports Network. The only sure way to find out is to check day-by-day here starting with Sun., March 16."

Helen of Seattle informs us of more doubles intrigue.

• The Andy Roddick Fairness Doctrine mandates that, after last week's hit piece, we link this.

Joel of New York writes: "While everyone is talking about Federer losing ground ,has anyone noticed that Nadal has not won a tournament since July, that he has not won a tournament on any surface other than clay since the first week in a year and that, with the exception of the Masters Cup tournament, has not beaten a top-15 player since Wimbledon? With so many upcoming points to defend, it seems Nadal is more at risk of losing No. 2 than Federer is of losing No. 1."

• Nice call from Jai of Stanford, Calif.: "Fun fact about Roddick that may or may not be significant. This is his second title out of 25 (and third final out of 38) in a country that does not speak English."

• More Bay Area Wisdom -- Parag Dixit of San Jose, Calif., notes: "Roger Federer came within a few points of winning the Dubai Anti-Tournament!"

Graham Thomas of Canberra, Australia, notes: "I'm amazed to see Kei Nishikori described as 'the best Japanese' or even 'best Japanese male' player (as in your last Mailbag) of all-time. What about Zenzo Shimizu, who reached a Wimbledon singles final and helped Japan to the 1921 Davis Cup final where he took Bill Tilden to five sets?

"Then there's his Cup teammate Ichiya Kumagai, who was the first Japanese player to reach a Grand Slam semi at the U.S. in 1918 and won two Olympic medals in 1920. Then there's Jiro Sato, who ranked No. 3 in the world in 1933 and reached the singles semis at Wimbledon, the French and Australia. Maybe we can say Nishikori is 'nearly the best (male) (pro) tennis player Japan has produced' .... hmm ... doesn't have much of a ring to it, does it?"

Natasha of Toronto cut-and-pasted this anecdote from (I assume) a message board: "Some Rafa fans who did not see his match earlier may like the anecdote that David Mercer on Eurosport gave to viewers about the time violation warning he got from Mohammed Layhani (just remembered this from seeing him in his chair during this match).

"I think Mercer spoke to Layhani after the Philipp Kohlschreiber match. He and Rafa were having an animated conversation during the next changeover -- Layhani said he was sorry he's had to warn him at that stage (I think he lost the point, don't recall if he won the game).

"Anyway, Rafa gave him the thumbs up sign, and told him that it was fine -- he was doing his job as an umpire should, and of course he has to warn him if he is going over the allotted time. Which I rather suspect is not the typical reaction that an umpire gets in that situation."


Carolyn Nichols of Lodi, Calif., writes: "The Code used to define excessive ball bouncing as 10 or more ... now it just says it's a hindrance if a player bounces the ball excessively. I was told that I'd be penalized by a referee a few years back if I bounced the ball more than nine times and checked the code then. Sorry for the error. Excessive ball-bouncing apparently is determined using the judgment of the referee."

• Some tennis-themed political humor thanks to Jesse of Portland. Jesse also wins the prize for Long-Lost Siblings: Elena Dementieva and Ann Coulter.

Have a great week, everyone!

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