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Posted: Wednesday August 6, 2008 3:52PM; Updated: Monday August 25, 2008 11:19AM
Jon Wertheim Jon Wertheim >

How the Olympics are hurting tennis, Federer-Serena and more

Story Highlights
  • After a great Wimbledon, the Olympics will ruin the tennis summer
  • Roger Federer and Serena Williams are friendly, but don’t eat lunch together
  • Martina Hingis remains retired and is unlikely to make a comeback
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The Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal Wimbledon final was a good thing for tennis, but the Olympics have wrecked the tennis summer.
The Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal Wimbledon final was a good thing for tennis, but the Olympics have wrecked the tennis summer.

Will you do an Olympics Mailbag? If no, then why?
George, Auburn

• Like an ever-increasing number of players, I'm passing on Beijing. (You can count on me at the U.S. Open, if that's any consolation.) I'm not sure what can be done, but from where I sit, the Olympics have wrecked the tennis summer. After the Williams/Williams-Federer/Nadal final weekend at Wimbledon, the sport had a nice surge in momentum and interest. If this is any other summer, things simmer down for a few weeks and then we get some thick plotlines heading into the U.S. Open Series and then the Open.

But Beijing messes everything up. Injuries are rampant, as players don't have time to recover after the Slams. The Masters Series events are moved two weeks ahead in the calendar. Players are wary of taxing themselves too much before Beijing so we have unfortunate situations such the now-infamous Montreal doubles session. The U.S. Open Series is more or less a fragmented mess, characterized by weak draws. (If this is the "Greatest Road Trip" in sports, maybe we should go on a cruise.)

I fear the U.S. Open will become a battle of Dramamine, as most players will be exhausted from jet lag. Say this: Andy Roddick's spring decision to take a pass on Beijing is looking wiser by the week. As Gladys Sherpills of Oswego, N.Y., nicely suggests, the Olympic tennis event is "nothing more than a bit of hit'n'giggle, with the top tennis players, superfluous event of questionable worth."

Realistically, it's going to be hard to convince anyone that tennis shouldn't be an Olympic sport. The players are understandably thrilled to be competing. Roger Federer gets to carry the Swiss flag at the Opening Ceremonies and perhaps wins one of the few medals in his country's history. Is he really going to pass that up to play Indianapolis? Likewise, this is an opportunity for the Federations and ITF to be a part of the biggest show in sports. The sponsors are happy for the global platform. I suppose we should simply resign ourselves to the unfortunate fact that once every four years, the summer calendar will be a mess.

What do you think about this idea about Hamburg? Move it to after Roland Garros and make it a grass Masters event.
-- Anton Dam, Stanford, Calif.

• From your mouth to Rob MacGill's ears. The lawsuit ended last night and the ATP prevailed. All is right with the world. But what a terrific, Solomonic solution. One would hope that it has been floated already by some of the folks currently litigating in Delaware. (The lifetime pass and first class airfare go to Anton Dam of Stanford.)

Let's think about this: There's always been the complaint that there are no grass court TMS events. The reasoning is that 1) there are only two weeks of play between the French and Wimbledon 2) given the restrictive geographic area, there are no venues that meet the criteria for a TMS event. In Hamburg, we have a TMS venue just a short trip from both Paris and London. Buy off Halle and add grass surfacing (the ATP will foot the bill) and, wunderbar. Again, that's Anton Dam.

Okay, I'm having a disagreement with a friend ... I say that Roger Federer and Serena Williams are friendly and do lunch a few times during the year ... my friend says no way. I seem to have read somewhere that they were friendly ... was I wrong?
-- Erin, Sudbury, Mass.

• You gave up too much weight, as they say in pool. You might have gotten away with "friends." I can envision Federer saying something politically correct, such as, "Yeah, sure we're friends. I have nothing against her. She's nice. We both use Wilson rackets and wear Nike clothes." But lunch a few times a year? Not so much ...

Jon, about Sybille Bammer you said: "Never understand players with those moon-shot ball tosses. Seems to me, the higher you throw the ball, the bigger chance for inaccuracy." It seems one Steffi Graf had a rather tall toss, and she fared okay.
Jonathan Scott, Indianapolis

• True. And same for Djokovic, Alex Corretja, etc. But doesn't it stand to reason that the higher the ball toss, the greater the chance of error? (And the more exacting the timing must be?)

Why is it that the men's Masters events pay $420,000 to the winner while the women's events pay $196,900 to the winner? That's quite a disparity.
-- Kris, Norwalk, Conn.

• This is the question that has not been sufficiently answered by the WTA vis--vis the clamoring for equal prize money. That is, if the ATP and WTA marketplaces are truly equal, why do comparable events pay only half the purse? My personal view: at Majors, there's little discrepancy between the men and women, so it makes sense to compensate equally. (And the PR hit you'd take for not doing so vastly outstrips whatever savings there is to be gained.) But if I'm a WTA Tour player, I'm more concerned with Kris' point than with the equal prize money debate. "It's all well and good that Venus Williams and Nadal earned equal purses at Wimbledon; but why did Andy Murray make more than twice as much as Dinara Safina last week?"

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