The need for scheduling changes, Swiss relations and more thoughts
Tennis will continue to suffer until scheduling is addressed in a meaningful way
With the Federer juggernaut (perhaps) slowing down, Roddick's back in the game
I'd say that Kafelnikov is a little shaky with "contributions to the game"
While I agree that Rafa Nadal's decision not to play in Shanghai might require some re-thinking about the year round schedule, don't you think it is also a reflection that the Davis Cup is very much alive outside the U.S., and that Rafa does not want to award Argentina any advantage. It seemed Rafa and Ferrer were going to have the tough time adapting from China to Argentina, now it is only the unlikely Del Potro.
Just to update, it now looks as though Nadal is questionable for Davis Cup as well. Nonetheless, your point is well-taken. Clearly Davis Cup is immensely important outside the U.S., so much so that the ATP's current leading light would be willing to forego the year-end blowout (big ranking points, big check) to be as fresh as possible for the Davis Cup final.
Sadly, what this also says to me is that tennis' season is unsustainably long. And the sport will continue to suffer until this is addressed in a meaningful way. (That doesn't mean shaving off a week here and there.) When the top player -- a 22-year-old physical beast, at that -- is simply incapable of finishing out the year, I'm thinking that's a pretty good sign that the system is deeply flawed. As has been the case for the past several years, the absences and injuries have been the big lead-in story to what ought to be tennis' great annual commencement ceremony. Medic!
Would it be terribly gauche of me, as an American, to go to the U.S./Switzerland Davis Cup match and cheer for Federer. Or, should I just pretend to be, er, French?
Not gauche. And depending on where the event is held, it might not even be dangerous. I do think you've also highlighted a...I don't want to say a flaw, but maybe an "odd dimension" of Davis Cup. In this era of globalization, who can really get worked up in a nationalistic frenzy, cheering against those dastardly Swiss?
It has been very obvious to anyone who reads the ATP website that it only broadcasts happy news, and never any troubling items from a critical perspective. For instance, both Federer and Nadal pull out of Paris on Oct. 30 due to injuries. The ATP website basically ignored the occurrences. Is it essentially a propaganda tool? What I find infuriating is that the website basically treats its readers as unthinking idiots. Perhaps I am over-reacting.
You know how the saying goes? "Looking to an official corporate site for objective analysis is like looking to your clergyman for gambling tips."
The issue you describe is hardly unique to tennis. Hypothetically speaking, of course, your local basketball team could be a compelling soap opera, flush with the highest-paid player sitting on the bench, the burly center whining and the former coach alleged to have tried to commit suicide. Yet the team website mentions none of it.
Seriously, the ATP is not in the business of criticizing itself or calling attention to player injuries or an absurdly long calendar. Nor does it exist for the purpose of journalism or objective analysis. On the other hand, I feel like these "in-house" sites lose credibility and make an error of short-sightedness when they ignore reality. (A few weeks ago, we discussed the WTA site's glaring omission of anything stabbing-related v/v the Monica Seles career tribute.) It's obviously a delicate balance, but you're going to lose eyeballs when you just keep the company line.
Will Andy Roddick win another Grand Slam? Yes or No?
Can I get a "maybe"? With the Federer juggernaut (perhaps) slowing down, Roddick's back in the game, even as others have displaced him from the top five. I can say with confidence that he'll never win the French. But winning seven rounds at the other three? Give me even some respectful odds and I'll take that bet. Figuratively, of course. I think too often we forget that we're not talking about turning around General Motors here. A player need only get hot for two weeks, catch a few breaks and presto.
Why isn't Kafelnikov in the Hall of Fame? The guy has two Slams, reached No. 1, won Davis Cup, won Olympic gold, been a top doubles player and has career longevity, to boot. With the borderline cases in recent years, you would think his selection would be a no-brainer.
Been a while since I've indulged the Hall of Fame discussion. I'd say that Kafelnikov is a little shaky in the "contributions to the game" department. But on paper, you're right. Hard to call security on the Y-Man when you've let, say, Michael Chang through the velvet ropes. The half-empty view: this is still another case of the HOF's generous criteria creating a problematic precedent. The half-full view: maybe those ineffable, unquantifiable X factors -- personality, sportsmanship, effort, post-career disposition -- count for something and this is not an altogether bad thing.
I finally figured out the David Nalbandian riddle. It's laughably simple, now that I see it. The reason the guy is a letdown at majors despite his formidable talent as opposed to Masters Events is the five-set format. He has never gotten himself into the high level condition needed to win seven five-set matches in a tournament, but has fared better in the three-set format at the Masters. Why commentators are still wondering aloud about this is odd.
Not bad. But weren't they playing best-of-five when he beat Federer in Shanghai or when he reached the Wimbledon final?
What about mentioning Gilles Simon, who beat Nadal in Madrid, and qualified for the Masters when Nadal retired, in your Ad-In / Ad-Out?
Ad-in it is. He's like the Wawrinka of the second half of 2008. It will be interesting to see if he can sustain this upward mobility. Or if other players will figure out his game.