The need for scheduling changes, Swiss relations and more thoughts
Now that Rafa is the year-end No. 1, Sampras' record of six years as year-end No. 1 remains. Am I right? You had mentioned earlier in one of your mail bags that "it's one of sports' most underrated records." I thought I would point that out now. Fed was year-end No. 1 for five consecutive years.
Good point. Pete Sampras, take a bow. Long as you brought up Sampras, as many of you know, I've been spending this fall trying to write a book about Federer, Nadal and the 2008 Wimbledon final. In the course of the research, I've really been struck by how classily Sampras has handled the "Greatest Ever" talk and his relationship with Federer more generally. Hard to imagine too many other athletes embracing the guy who's gunning for their record.
I am wondering. Are you getting any questions about Sharapova those days? Or more generally: how long does it typically take for a player (injured or retired) to be "forgotten"? I guess you can judge this from the mails you get.
Interesting question. I'm not sure this is the greatest barometer for her relevance, but, as one would expect, the Sharapova questions have slowed to a trickle. It's funny, though, because I think she (more specifically, her health) is a fiercely relevant subject. Before her shoulder went back on the fritz, she was playing exceptionally well to start the year and is/was, I think, the obvious heiress to the top spot, the player best suited to grab the top spot and make some order of all the chaos in the women's game. If she is unable to come back, the WTA is a much weaker product.
At Wimbledon, Sue Mott lavished such praise on Feliciano Lopez's 'backside' -- I believe "stunning" was the word she used -- that he probably is drawing bigger crowds these days, who come just to see him...or at least a part of him. I know that's why I tuned in. But to be quite honest, all I remember of his backside was that his shorts were in permanent wedgie mode. So, "uncomfortable" was more the word that came to mind than "stunning."
Is it me or are Spanish tennis players, single-handedly responsible for the "wedgie" returning to prominence? Silly me, I assumed I had used this term for the last time at summer camp, circa 1986. Actually, a lot of you -- mostly women, funnily enough -- wrote in about Lopez.
Have you ever seen Mario Ancic and Marin Cilic in the same room at the same time?
When Cilic starts showing up at Croatian CLE classes, we'll know something is really up.
Just to clear up confusion, the Thiago Alves who was victorious at the last UFC card is not the same Thiago Alves who gave Federer a good match at the U.S. Open.
Jim Bartle of Huaraz, Peru: A million thanks for the link to the Ingrid Betancourt speech. I can only imagine how Nadal felt at that moment.
Pam Kultgen of Overland Park, Kan., writes on blue tennis courts: Kansas City has a wonderful public tennis center (Plaza Tennis Center), which hosts several summer USTA tournaments. All 15 courts have been blue for two summers now. Tory from Quincy, Ill. is welcome to join us here in K.C. to play on our blue courts!
Lilas Pratt writes: Here in Atlanta, you can't throw a stone without hitting a tennis court (the town is crazy about playing tennis), I can assure Tory that there has been a growing trend towards blue on green courts (along with green on green, green on tan, blue on tan and a few other new combinations) in both neighborhood courts as well as in the local parks and recreation centers. Courts need to be resurfaced periodically and anytime they are, you can change the color any way you want. My neighborhood just went from green on maroon to blue on green -- the courts look great. We only get about five years between resurfacings, by the way.
Gael Monfils has switched to a Prince racket.
Speaking of Frenchmen, thanks to Gigi of Valdosta, Ga., for this fascinating tidbit that might explain some things. "From Richard Gasquet's bio page at the ATP website, "In February 2008, launched The Richard Gasquet Foundation, which aims to help adolescents who struggle to find their place in society and who suffer from a lack of confidence...It will use sport as a way to bring underprivileged youths back to health and enable them to rediscover the joys of life; and as a way to build a future."
Sampras and James Blake will play in The 'Duel Under the Oaks II' fund-raising event organized by Paula Pennington de la Bretonne, which will take place at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center (PMAC) on LSU's campus on Sunday, Dec. 14, and tickets are on sale.
The USTA has announced the acceptance list for the 62nd Dunlop Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships, which begins Sunday, Dec. 7, at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park in Key Biscayne, Fla. The qualifying draw will take place beginning Friday, Dec. 5.
Lots of thoughts on where to find videos from Beijing:
Eddy Mark of Toronto sends this link.
Jennifer Boller of L.A.; Federer/Warinka Olympics gold medal doubles match.
Tricia of N.Y.C.: Federer and Wawrinka's Gold Medal match can be found on Hulu.
More Slobodan Z. info courtesy of Paul from Toronto (future home of the Buffalo Bills), Ontario.
Re: the best players never to have won a Slam, here's a smart observation from Elsie Misbourne of Washington D.C.:
As far as I know (the ATP stats don't go back before the pro era) only about 20-some players have played 0.700 ball for their entire career. All except Jose Luis Clerc and Tom Okker won majors. The startling Eddie Dibbs finished his career at 0.699 (how could that be?). Andy Murray at 0.691 and counting is next on the list of BPNTHWAM by this ranking method. Maybe Sharko can check my numbers. I can only guess that in the early days of the pro tours it was easier for players to pad their numbers in the satellite tournaments.
Long lost siblings come from Espie of Orange County: