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Posted: Wednesday October 8, 2008 2:02PM; Updated: Wednesday October 8, 2008 2:02PM
Jon Wertheim Jon Wertheim >
TENNIS MAILBAG

Tennis Mailbag (cont.)

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Jon, ever since Roland Garros, you've been calling Jelena Jankovic the "Best Player Never to Have Won a Slam." Just among current players, I would think someone like Elena Dementieva has the better case. More titles, better doubles play, twice as much prize money in her career, and she's been to more Slam finals than Jankovic. Why J.J.?
-- Brad Oremland Rockville, Md.

• I'd put E.D. second behind J.J. I guess my reasoning is this: at some point you play yourself out of contention in this category. Dementieva has had ample chances to win majors (heck, she was within a set of reaching the U.S. Open final in 2000) and consistently comes up empty. In the case of Jankovic, her career record is less impressive, but I have a sense she's the more likely of the two to break through.

Dementieva, obviously, isn't at this dire stage yet, but on paper, do we consider Mark Philippoussis the best male never to have won a Slam (after all, he's made a pair of major finals)? Or a relative newcomer such as Andy Murray?

Tennis' 50-yard dash ... Bjorn Phau! Ask Andre Agassi if he concurs.
--
Anirban Mukherjee, Durham, N.C.

• Good one. Though not as glaring an omission as Gael Monfils. Here's another one to discuss: if there were an ATP bench-pressing contest, who'd win? I'm thinking not Juan Martin del Potro.

Hi, Jon, I guess Roger Federer finally heeded your advice. How would you rate his chances of reclaiming No. 1?
-- Gerry, Manila

• My advice: "Hit the ball really well, forcefully, yet accurately." For better or worse, the ranking is a bit of a numbers game. Federer has virtually no chance of finishing the year at No. 1. However, given his unremarkable winter and spring results, he might recoup some point starting in 2009. (Rafael Nadal, however, isn't defending all that much himself until clay season.)

Just a simple question. When talking about Federer's great record of 18 straight GS semi finals, the frequent comment is nobody else has more than 10. Who has the 10? I have searched through listings and can find Ivan Lendl at nine but checked other likely ones and no one did. Anybody out there know who? My understanding is that a "not played" ends the string. Thanks.
-- Ilene Staff, Hartford, Conn.

• From TMS, The Mighty Sharko: "Lendl actually does have 10 consecutive Grand Slam semifinals (or better), starting with the 1985 U.S. Open (Australian Open was played last that year) and continuing through the 1988 Australian Open. The streak ended at '88 Roland Garros (QF). Yes, a 'not played' would end the streak."

Regardless of what the ITF lists as the official color for tennis balls, what's your opinion: are the tennis balls green or yellow?
--
Kody Leonard, Portland, Oregon

• Chartreuse?

Shots, Miscellany

• I mistakenly thought this had posted already. But here's this week's Random Encounter With a Pro winner:

Jeff Dittman of Milwaukee, Wis., writes: I was an intern last winter with the Milwaukee Bucks, and I won free tickets to a preseason game courtside against the Timberwolves. My friend and I go down to find our seats and there is this older man with gray hair and three younger guys in our seats. I was about to ask the man to please move when I realized it was none other than the legendary Bjorn Borg.

Turns out he was in town to visit his son Robin, who you probably know played tennis at UW-Whitewater. The other two guys were, I believe, his other son and Robin's teammate from UWW. Well, I got to shake his hand and told him I was a big fan of his. I ended up sitting two seats next to his son's teammate and got to talk to him. Bjorn was in the seat next to him.

It was amazing to see a living legend in person. He looked just like he did when I saw him on television for the Wimbledon final. Black jacket, hair slicked back, very graceful and he just had this aura about him. I wanted to ask him so many questions about tennis but thought it would be better to be respectful and let the man have his peace.

But talking to the son's teammate, he said Bjorn would definitely take a picture with me. So at halftime, as Bjorn was heading up to the courtside VIP area, I got a picture with him and thanked him for making it such a memorable night. He was a very nice guy, very accommodating and just a pleasant guy to be around.

• Nice to see Lleyton Hewitt on the mend.

• And nice to see the "unretired" Joachim Johansson win a match Tuesday in Stockholm.

• My new favorite tournament name: the If Stockholm Open. Sounds like a Scandinavian riddle. (If Stockholm ... then Copenhagen.)

• Speaking of recent retirees, our moles tell us that Martina Hingis will be playing an upcoming charity event in Northern California. Here's hoping Hingis, an absentee since her drug suspension, returns to the tennis-scape. The sport is worse for her absence.

• Tennis Channel's documentary on Sampras will be highlighted during a special screening at the inaugural U.S. Sports Film Festival (USSFF) in Philadelphia this month, set for Oct. 23-26. The film, Signature Series: Pete Sampras, will be followed by an audience discussion with writer/director/producer Craig Shapiro and a panel of tennis luminaries.

Brian Thomas of Poughkeepsie, N.Y.: Since you included a link to the stadium, pal, I thought you might enjoy this humorous essay David Sedaris read on David Letterman.

• If I did an NBA Mailbag I would be sure to include this.

• Arizona State's Kelcy McKenna claimed the singles title while the Georgia Tech team of Irina Falconi and Amanda McDowell were crowned doubles champions Sunday at the Riviera/ITA Women's All-American Championships at the Riviera Tennis Club. This event is the first of three national championship events during the 2008-09 collegiate tennis season.

• The Council of the District of Columbia declared Oct. 7 to be "Washington Kastles Day." The Kastles and owner Mark Ein were honored as "living monuments to professionalism, teamwork, caring and community service, according to the Council's resolution."

• The NBA's first outdoor game will played at the Indian Wells tennis garden next week.

Madushi de alwis of Wellington, New Zealand, invites you to check out Sharapova's stamp collection.

• Nice to see Federer break into Bollywood. (Props to Anupam Goyal of Ventura, Calif., for that one)

• This week's Long Lost Siblings, courtesy of Jerry V. of Philadelphia:

David Nalbandian and Frances Conroy of Six Feet Under.

Have a good week everyone!

 
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