Improving the Davis Cup, Davydenko's pain and ballboys
You know, Roger Federer's losses to Ivo Karlovic and Gilles Simon do not look THAT bad, given that these two are now ranked 14 and 17!
Good point. Anyone can be blown away by Karlovic, especially on hard courts. And falling to Gilles Simon -- a top ten player by year's end? -- is no great source of shame either. This happens, losses that seem like seismic upsets at the time aren't so bad in retrospect. (James Blake losing a fairly close match to Ernests Gulbis at the French Open is an example that comes immediately to mind.) On the other hand, let me throw the reverse at you: how did Nadal lose his first three events of the year to Youzhny, Tsonga and Seppi?
Is any other Slam tournament this [star-struck]? The U.S. Open actually measures its success by how many celebrities turned out.
I'm envisioning the post-tournament PowerPoint meeting. "Gentlemen, some bad news: Ratings were down. However, on the plus side: Steve Guttenberg was in the house!"
Isn't it unfair for the Williams sisters to hold a grudge against Indian Wells when 90% of the people that attend the tournament are from outside the Coachella Valley? To call them racists is to say the fans that travel to the event are racist, and I doubt the type of fans that attend Indian Wells are any different from the type of fans that travel to Miami to see that tournament.
Help me understand the Williams' sisters feelings on the tournament in Indian Wells. I know the crowd booed Serena all those years ago, but it's not like the same people are always there. Did the tournament administration itself do something to offend? Or are all of us Indian Wells attendees being brushed with the racist stroke because of that particular crowd on that particular day? I know I would cheer if they came back. I think they would be greeted with a heroes welcome.
Here's what I wrote a while back and I think it still holds up pretty well:
As for the Williams sisters playing the Pacific Life Open, I'm not sure what the compromise would be. They either play or they don't. And, frankly, I come down on the side of the sisters. They have their reasons for boycotting the event and -- whether you agree with them or not -- I think you have to respect that.
As I see it, the WTA is setting itself up for a p.r. disaster if it plays hardball here. Realistically, it's highly unlikely Venus and Serena return to the desert, not next year, not in 10 years, not under punishment of fine or suspension. If I'm Larry Scott, I tread lightly and say something to the effect of this:
"I appreciate your position here and I won't condescend to say 'I know where you're coming from,' because the truth is, I'll never know the sting of perceived racism. So I'm leaving this up to you. My position: it would be great if you'd consider reversing your stance. I know the fans in Indian Wells are eager to do right by you and welcome you back. We'd all appreciate the significance of your gesture. It would be the ultimate example of 'Taking the high road.' To be totally honest, by playing, you'd make my job easier since I really want to crack down on players who bail on big events but will have a hard time establishing credibility if you guys flout the rule at Indian Wells every year. From where I sit, it would be good for you, good for the tournament, good for the WTA, good for tennis. A win-win-win-win.
"At the same time, I understand that you have strong and genuine feelings on this matter. And I understand that you'd be missing this tournament not because of some whimsical reason or a questionable injury, but because of something that cuts much deeper. I want to make that distinction. So here's the deal: if you pass on Indian Wells, I won't punish you or fine you. We'll carve out some sort of exemption. We'll all survive. That's it. Your call."
If we rounded up every male tennis player in the top 200 and had them run a 100 meter dash, who would win? Same with the women? Who is the Usain Bolt of tennis?
Nice question. I always thought if tennis ever got its act together and held an "All-Star weekend," it should definitely have a footspeed contest. Off the top of my head, I'd say, James Blake wins. But don't discount Federer and Nadal. The caveat here is that anticipation can offset/augment footspeed. A player like Murray gets to a heck of a lot of balls less because he's lightning quick than because he gets an early start. Anyway, for women, I'd say Jankovic, the Williams sisters, and... there's someone else not coming to me right now. I know it's not Marion Bartoli.
Having read the article about the decreased television ratings for the U.S. Open men's final, I noticed there was no reference to the fact that the match was also being web-cast for free on usopen.org. Was the viewership online statistically insignificant? Or is this another moment where the doomsday headline neglects the full story?
I think you're right: the USopen.org webcast -- great idea, great execution --probably bears consideration. But CBS ain't paying the fat rights fees so fans can watch for free online.
This week's random encounter (may as well continue this so long as the submissions keep coming!) comes from Don Hann of Rochester, Minn.:
"I was a freshman at Marion (Ind.) and my high school team was invited to provide ball boys for a match with Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Andres Jimeno and Tony Roche in Indianapolis. The canvas court was spread across the ice rink, and because I was on crutches with an injury, I was made a line judge. I believe this was the year Laver turned pro, so probably 1961. I called one shot out and both Rosewall and Laver looked at me like "what?" but neither of them said anything, I guess feeling sorry for an injured kid. I played tournaments for 50 years, but I still remember that night. Awesome!"
Julie (Crash Davis) Ditty made tennis history Sunday when she swept singles and doubles at the 2008 ColemanVision Tennis Championships in Albuquerque, N.M., her 31st and 32nd career USTA Pro Circuit titles. With the wins, Ditty becomes the all-time leader in USTA Pro Circuit titles, surpassing Paul Goldstein and Nana Smith (nee Miyagi) who both have 30 USTA Pro Circuit titles. The 29-year-old Ashland, Ky., native and resident defeated No. 1 seed Rosana De Los Rios of Paraguay, 6-4, 7-6(3) in the singles final, while teaming with Carly Gullickson to defeat Argentina's Jorgelina Cravero and Betina Jozami 6-3, 6-4 in the doubles final. For her career, Ditty owns nine USTA Pro Circuit singles titles and 23 USTA Pro Circuit doubles titles.
Jason Lee of N.Y. raises an interesting point: no top seed, male or female, won a Major in 2008.
Patrick Guy of Whitby, Ont. -- a man whose boss better not be reading -- writes: "A quaint trivial coincidence. "S" is the first letter of the names of the native countries of the 5 or 6 top-ranked male tennis players."
More David Foster Wallace remembrances:
- Michael of Los Angeles was among the half dozen or so sending this link.
- Here's an essay by former ATP employee (and Rip City Magazine chieftain) David Higdon.
- Here's A.O. Scott in The New York Times.
- Best Buddies International founder and chairman, Anthony Kennedy Shriver, announced that Nadal will join the Board of Directors of both Best Buddies International and Best Buddies Spain, in the capacity of an honorary member.
This week's unsolicited book recommendation: Liz Robbins' "A Race Like No Other: 26.2 Miles Through the Streets of New York":
Reto (don't call me Staubli) Muntaplayr of Scuol, Switzerland proposes a new format for doubles, one that teams up legends of the past, like Sampras, Becker, McEnroe, Borg with young talents around ATP ranking 80, like Bogdanovic, Haase, Young, Zverev. The article is here.
The USA's Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup teams by BNP Paribas got off to a perfect start on the first day of the finals in San Luis Potoso, Mexico, on Tuesday.
The USA won both competitions at the 14-and under World Junior Tennis finals in Prostejov last month and has brought strong teams to Mexico for the finals of the 16-and-under team events in the hope of becoming the first nation ever to win all four junior team titles in a season. Both American teams took a step closer to their collective goal on day one in San Luis Potosi. Sloane Stephens and Kristie Ahn sealed the vital two points to seal victory for USA girls in their opening round robin tie against Columbia. Stephens got the team off to a flying start by beating Yuliana Lizarazo 6-3, 7-5 before Ahn took the winning point with a rampant 6-0, 6-2 win over Alexandra Morena.
The USA boys were irresistible against Latvia in their opening Junior Davis Cup match, taking all three points with wins for Evan King, Denis Kudla and the doubles combination of King and Raymond Sarmiento. King beat Mikelis Libietis 7-6, 6-3; Kudla defeated Arturs Kazijevs 6-4, 3-6 6-1 before King and Sarmiento beat Arvis Berkins and Libietis in the doubles.
David Berman quoting Demetri Martin of Comedy Central: "Game, Set, Match = Tennis. Set, Match, Run = Arson"
Note to Pat McEnroe: Several readers noticed this and we mentioned it, as well, during the Portland tie last year. Any way to enforce a ban on a player texting during Davis Cup matches? The camera pan to the opposition and they're sitting, watching rapt. The cameras then pan to the U.S. bench and catches players looking into the phones and Blackberries, toggling away. (Imagine David Wright checking his e-mail while Jose Reyes bats.)
Have a great week everyone!