Roddick's unanswerable power, entourage signals and more
A Day Four Baguette...
Ever seen a player just let Match Point go like Fabrice Santoro did? I'm not going to condemn Santoro for it -- not going anywhere near that -- but anyone know if he and Roddick cleared the air to move on?
I thought that was an unfortunate end to an unfortunate match. Santoro has a rich history playing fun U.S. Open night matches. But he lacked the magic last night. Maybe it was age. Maybe it was his lack of preparation. Maybe it was Andy Roddick's unanswerable power. But that wasn't the player who nearly beat James Blake last year. Roddick's serve -- two points from a runaway match -- was unnecessarily close to Santoro, causing him to sprawl. But, hey, sometimes the ball gets away from the pitcher, even in a blowout. Don't think Roddick meant it as a statement and hopefully he was able to seek out Santoro and apologize.
Perhaps I am in lala land, but for the past 18 months or so, I have been convinced that Federer is at a distinct equipment disadvantage to his peers. If you look at slow-motion, high-definition film of Fed's many unforced errors, it is clearly evident that he has a much smaller margin of error in hitting his racquet's sweetspot, than do his peers. Why is he using a racquet design with such a small sweetspot? Does he not see how his peers are hitting winners with shots that are four inches off-center? (Those same shots are sprayed wildly off of his racquet.)
You're not in lala land at all. Federer uses the smallest racket head on tour and -- you're right -- the sweet spot is comparably small. I wouldn't call it a "disadvantage." He would (and does) contend that the smaller head is a worthwhile trade-off for the control he gets. A racket is personal; often irrationally so. If it doesn't feel right, the player shouldn't even think about going on court with it. We see time and again that manufacturers try to get players to use a certain stick -- one they'd like to market to consumers -- and it has an adverse effect on the pro's game. As for Federer, in Pete Sampras' book, he expressed regret that he had been so stubborn about not switching rackets. One hopes someone would show that passage to The Mighty Fed.
The replay system has now been used for around two years, and there seems to be a disconnect between the official rules of its use and the umpires' interpretation of those rules. It seems to come up in almost every match that players are not allowed to check marks, look at their coaches, consult the umpire, or hesitate before requesting a challenge. Johnny Mac & Tracy Austin have brought this up multiple times during this year's Open and it really seems to irk them that the rules are not enforced. They are pretty high-profile tennis people, so I would think that they would have access to umpires, referees, or tour officials to find out why the rules are not strictly enforced. (Instead they seem baffled by it and go on and on about it which forces me to watch coverage in another language.) What's your take on this? Continue to be lax or enforce the rules?
I'm of mixed minds. Yes, the challenge request is supposed to be immediate. Not after someone in your entourage signals. The rule probably ought to be enforced. But I would contend that it's not exactly "coaching" to take an opinion poll before deciding what to do. And strictly from an entertainment standpoint, it's fun to watch the players waver, look around, stare at the mark and collect themselves before deciding what to do. (Remember two years ago when Jankovic even asked the umpire whether she ought to challenge!) For all that ails tennis, I would say that "non-immediate challenges" don't rate too high.
Here's an answer to Beckles' question about the Olympic tennis medal record: Briton Reginald Doherty holds the record with three golds and one bronze according to Wikipedia. Venus is the only other player with three gold medals. When looking at medals of any color, Australian Kathleen McKane Godfree has five (one gold, two silver, and two bronze) and four players earned four medals, including Arantxa Sanchez Vicario.
Yeah, I think I misread that question. Thanks for those who clarified.
Did you enjoy McEnroe's comment about the Blake-Young match looking more like a "Speed-Chest" match then a tennis match? Great line!!! Just blast away and go for winners!
You run around at these events and miss some of the commentary. Great line. Blake had a tough match against Donald Young, but caught a break today. Early in third set, Blake's opponent, Steve Darcis, retired.
Regarding your, Venus', and others' comments on "apologies" after net cords: I've always felt it less an apology and more a simple acknowledgment of a lucky break. More to the point, it is a polite gesture, much like shaking hands at the end of a match or indicating new balls (and I don't see anyone arguing to get rid of those, although Venus and others might like to). I was raised by tennis parents to raise my racket on a net cord as well as other lucky shots (perhaps an obvious mis-hit short angle that just crosses the net and drops on the line). I also still raise a finger to indicate another first serve after a "let"; I'm quite sure the receiver knows it's another first serve coming, but again, it's simply a polite "sporting gesture" to remind them. I rarely see anyone do this anymore, but I picked it up from watching TV matches as a kid in the 70s.
Well said. A few of you made similar points, advocating for the apology. No one is apologizing per se. Rather it's a way of communicating with your opponent that this was luck, not skill.
Wondering whether Nike struck a deal with UPS to outfit Roger Federer this year. If "Brown Delivers", maybe the Fed will, too? (FedEx has been getting a free plug from Roger for too long....)
Nice. But the real fashion drama is Nadal. He was supposed to break out the new "mature" line of apparel but showed up wearing the sleeveless numbers.
Today's winner in the "Random Encounters With a Pro Tennis Player" (sponsored by Prince) is Adithya J. Rao of Atlanta.
In May 2005, my wife and I planned a trip to Europe. She started her vacation in India and I was in Atlanta. We were going to meet in Paris. I get off the nine-hour flight and am waiting for her in baggage claim when I notice this good- looking couple approaching. I immediately recognize the woman as a neighbor who lived in my apartment building in Bombay when I was a kid. So I go up to her and introduce myself and we catch up. I notice the guy she was with, standing next to her smiling at this story of how we were meeting up after 15 years (there are a billion Indians in the world but you end up seeing someone you know in the Paris airport. Go figure!). I almost did a double take when I realize it's Leander Paes and he's got his Babolat bag on his back. I played it cool and introduced myself and as the words "so what are you guys doing in Paris?" come out of my mouth, I realize it's the week of the French Open. Leander was with his future wife in Paris, about to get started with his tournament. We talked for a while and Delta lost my bags so I was running around trying to get that sorted out. While doing so, Leander and his wife waited with us and he even helped my wife with her bags. I thought that was really nice of them after a long flight. Fast forward to September and my wife and I are spending the Labor Day weekend in N.Y.C. at the U.S. Open. We run into Leander and he remembers us (which surprises me) and even stops to chat by the practice courts. We talked about some of the matches and I even joke with him that my ALTA team needs a solid doubles player, but he may have to try out to make the cut. All in all it was a very random encounter and it was quite refreshing to see someone -- who has a billion people behind him -- be so down to earth and accommodating.
The USTA announced it is creating multiple USTA-branded channels that will be dedicated to tennis on YouTube. USOpen Channel is set to launch immediately. Content will include daily updates from the US Open, including post-match player interviews, an "Explore the Open" feature, an "Off Court Spotlight" feature, and an "Inside the Media Center" feature. During week two, the website will also feature a daily Junior Report on the US Junior Open.
Names of the five ballot nominees for possible Hall of Fame induction in July 2009 were announced today. They include: Nine-time Grand Slam Singles Champion and former World No. 1 Monica Seles and in the Master Player category is Andres Gimeno, one of Spain's most prominent tennis players of the 1960s, and who remains Roland Garros' oldest singles champion.
In the Contributor category are: Donald L. Dell, an industry pioneer and leader in sports marketing, professional sports management and sports television and founder of ProServ; Dr. Robert "Whirlwind" Johnson (posthumously), founder and director of the American Tennis Association (ATA) Junior Development Program, who worked tirelessly for decades assisting young African-American players (most notably Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe) in gaining admittance into previously segregated tournaments; and Japan's Eiichi Kawatei, for his development and promotion of tennis in Asia.
Sharon of Pinole, Calif. has today's Long Lost Siblings: I was watching the incredibly exciting match between James Blake and Donald Young and I thought of your column where you list long-lost siblings. So, I have to add these two. James Blake and Darius Rucker (lead singer of Hooty & the Blowfish) and Donald Young and Warrick Dunn (NFL running back).