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Posted: Wednesday August 20, 2008 11:38AM; Updated: Monday August 25, 2008 11:07AM
Jon Wertheim Jon Wertheim >

A salute to Federer's reign and why the Olympics aren't all that bad

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Ok, I know and acknowledge that Michael Phelps is now a shoo in for Sportsman of the Year. But if, and I know it is a big if to assume so, Rafa wins the U.S. Open, who do you honestly think deserves it? Rafa or Phelps?
-- John Shear, Chicago

• I'll take the bait. Nadal could win the U.S. Open in twenty-one golden sets while performing life-saving CPR during the changeovers and solving the global energy crisis on his off days. And still Phelps gets Sportsman of the Year. That's just reality.

I share everyone's concern about the way the Olympics foul up the summer schedule. Why not make tennis a winter Olympics sport? The winter Olympics take place in February and would require minimal rejiggering of the pro schedule. It might sound crazy to make tennis a winter Olympics sport, but basketball is a summer Olympics sport, so why not?
-- Bill Gale, Fairfax

• Only if the tennis were played on snow or ice.

My favorite part of the 'Bag last week was the link to the Rainer Schuettler response to the ITF. It's not the response as much as it is that the Guardian listed it under "Breaking News". It's about time- any utterance of Rainer Schuettler should be rushed to the online editions of all media outlets.
-- Craig Berry, Park Forest, IL

• Nice. I always like it when an anonymous player who happens to be seeded loses a match and this makes the mainstream news as an "upset" victim. You're watching CNN and the crawl suddenly reads something likes "Tennis: Starace and Gicquel upset in Caracas Open. Dushevina upset in Istanbul!" as if this were momentous.

Is there not something phony about raising your hand after a net cord winner? At least if you do a fist pump after just catching the outside of the line.
-- Jerry White, Mineral, VA

• It's one of the least sincere gestures in sports, but it's hardened into tradition and now that player who doesn't hold up the apologetic hand after a let court winner is perceived as being arrogant. (Oh, my bad, sorry about that lucky field goal! Oops, I feel horrible about that broken bat single!) I like Venus Williams' take on this issue. She doesn't feel guilty about winning a point this way, so she doesn't feel the need to apologize.

I think you made a common mistake in your last mailbag. You referred to Ugly Americanism. This expression was misplaced and the expression has come to mean the opposite of the original use. The term, the ugly American, comes from the title of a book written many years ago by a writing team of Americans named Lederer and Burdick. I read the book, in paperback, in high school in the mid-60s. In the book, the character called the Ugly American was called that because the people of the country he lived in thought he was, well, ugly. But, and this is the important point, he was the good guy, the (almost) only American in the book who was a good guy. Your use of the term, like almost everyone else, has turned the original meaning on its head. Can we agree to retire the term?

-- Van L. Hayhow, Attleboro, MA

• Thanks. Never knew that. Nor that the book by Lederer (which my spellcheck automatically changes to Federer) and Burdick was turned into a movie starring Marlon Brando.

Sure, we'll retire the term and look for a substitute phrase.

Just eight months into the year it is quite interesting to re-read your 2008 tennis quiz. With the exception of Djokovic winning a slam, most questions (and answers) now look as if they were written on another planet. Perhaps most interesting is that Federer winning zero slams was not even considered an option. Will you be more careful next year?
-- D.P., London

• Federer wins three Majors in 2007 for the second year in a row. He plays in the final of the French Open, coming within a match of winning THE Grand Slam. And he still has enough left in the tank that he wins the Masters Cup in Shanghai. He finished still another ranked No.1 and is within two Slams of Sampras' record. If I had given the option of his winning "Zero" Slams in 2008, you would really have accused me of writing from another planet! I suppose you could read that column and conclude that I was sensationally off base. (It's the rare prognosticator who comes out looking good.) But I think it also shows just how wildly unexpected this year has been, both with Federer's fall and the upheaval in the women's game.

I know this might be early but are the tennis players really going to play Wimbledon and then the 2012 Olympics on the same courts over the same summer?
-- Mike, Boston

• So we're told. How the Wimbledon grounds crew is going to turn those puppies around in six weeks remains to be seen.

Shots, Miscellany:

• I think I'm going to extend the deadline to keep this going during the U.S. Open since so many of your stories were so entertaining. But here's our first winner of the signed Bryan Brothers Prince racket in the "Random Encounters With a Pro Tennis Player" contest:

Joe Vinzant, East Moline, IL. writes: "Four years ago I attended the U.S. Open with my son...One day while waiting to use the restroom (two stalls and three urinals), I was about 2nd or 3rd in line when two people, a player accompanied by an Event Staffer, cut into the line and went to one of the urinals. At this point the person ahead of me went into one of the stalls. Being next in line, I went to the urinal next to where the player was. He turned slightly my way and I asked, "How you doing?" and he responded that he was in the fifth set. I said, "Good luck." The player was Hicham Arazi.

• A special treat this week, Andy Roddick will answer some of your questions this week. He will also be receiving 'special assistance' from Pat McEnroe at the U.S. Open.

David Nicholas of Liverpool, England sends this cool Nadal link.

• A few weeks back one of you asked how to get a copy of the Wimbledon final. The Tennis Channel and ESPN are both re-airing that insta-classic, but you can also order a DVD at through SRO Sports.

• "Enhancements" is one of those words that triggers cynicism. But the "fan enhancements" for the U.S. Open include this.

• Here's the 2008 U.S. Open Suicide Pool.

• The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum has developed a new gallery exhibition for the 2008 US Open entitled Home Court: The Family Draw. The exhibition will be on view at the U.S. Open Gallery in Louis Armstrong Stadium at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center starting Aug. 23 through Sept. 7.

Sinead Cremins of the Bronx, N.Y. sends us her photos and videos from the Bronx Tennis Classic last week.

Ivan H. of New York, N.Y., our look-alikes guru, sends us James Blake

and cricketer Hashim Amla:


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