The real women's rankings, Tsonga's blunder and Fed's best
Is it possible to go from likeable young up-and-comer to annoying little brat in the span of three sentences? I say yes. "I lost a lot of energy because today when I ask for my towel, my towel didn't come," he said. "When I ask for a ball, the ball didn't come. Sometimes I have to take my towel alone. So for me it's maybe 10 meters more. But if you count at the end of the match, it's like one kilometer."
Yeah, this is a cut-and-paste for the media training workshop. (Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is doing the talking there, by the way.) Rule of thumb: you generally don't trigger a lot of sympathy when you're a millionaire athlete attributing your loss to the ineptitude of the unpaid volunteer tasked with fetching your tennis balls and soiled linens.
And who among us doesn't get tripped up by metric conversions: but he really walked an additional kilometer?
Venus, the eternal comeback kid, ends the year on a high note, taking Zurich and the year-ending Championships. I find it interesting that in all her years as a pro, this is the first time she's taken the year-end title. Do you think that bodes well for Venus' chances in Australia? Will she finally lay claim to a non-Wimbledon or U.S. Open Grand Slam title?
On the one hand, Venus hasn't won a Grand Slam off grass in -- get this -- more than seven years. On the other hand, she's still Venus Williams. And so long as she's winning big indoor tournaments against the best and the brightest, doesn't it stand to reason that she'll be a contender on a similar surface 75 days later?
I was watching highlights of the Murray-Federer match and was amazed once again by the mastery Federer has over the backhand overhead. Does/did anybody else present or past do it so well?
I remember Yannick Noah had an uncannily strong backhand overhead. But Federer is the master. If you have the time/inclination to surf YouTube, find a shot Federer hit against Agassi at the 2003 Masters Cup in Houston that is simply one of the sickest tennis shots I've ever seen. I remember Mary Carillo simply giggling in the broadcast booth. I think you could make a case that the backhand overhead is the most difficult shot to execute. On the other hand, you can go sets without seeing one, so if it's not the strongest shot in your repertoire, you'll be OK.
Speaking of that match -- a candidate for Match of the Year were it not for that Wimbledon final -- a lot of you wrote to me criticizing Murray. (The gist: he was already in the semis of the Masters Cup, so why didn't he conserve energy and, essentially, tank? Instead he went deep in the third set to beat Federer and was exhausted for his next match, a desultory loss to Davydenko.) I had completely the opposite take: what a consummate professional who wanted to take down The Mighty Fed even if it meant depleting himself for his next match.
I don't mean this to diminish Federer's amazing career, but isn't he one of the 'luckier' players on tour? When last year's Wimbledon led to a packed final week, Roger got to sit back and relax because his QF opponent had to withdraw. In the year-end tournament going on right now, a sick Roger benefited from having Roddick pull out and getting replaced with the No. 26 player, who didn't even have his own rackets. These are just two examples of many.
How's the British expression go? Fortune favors the brave. Sure, Federer has gotten some breaks over the years. (Check out his draws at the 2008 French Open and Wimbledon.) But at some level you make your own luck. Federer loses that match to Stepanek last week and suddenly he's not so lucky.
Ivanovic and Verdasco??!?! Yikes. Well, at least she was playing while he was sitting courtside, unlike Vaidisova and Stepanek. But seriously -- is there any example in women's tennis of dating a male player being anything other than a bad career move? Steffi wisely waited until her career was over to hook up with Andre.
Bold statement: Insofar as the rumors are true, this wouldn't be the worst-looking couple out there.
Don't you think it's a bit ironic that one of the high profile sponsors of some of the European tournaments is an online betting service?
More than a bit. Though in this economy, I suppose you take sponsorship where you can get it. And let's remember, for years the women's tour was sponsored by Virginia Slims. Nothing says health and fitness like unfiltered tar and nicotine.
I came across some highlights of a Davis Cup match (2003?) between Federer and Hewitt. It was a very tense match, with what looked to be some trash talk from Fed. Any backdrop to their relationship?
Never heard that one before. If I recall the story right, that match had an extra layer of tension because the parents of Peter Carter -- Federer's late coach -- were in the stands. But I know of no ill-will between Federer and Hewitt.
WTHIGOW Paradorn Srichaphan?
Word is that he's still planning on coming back in the spring.
Long as you jogged it from memory, a few years ago I did a story about Paradorn for Sports Illustrated. I had a few follow-up questions so I called him at an event -- believe it was Memphis. He was speaking and then I heard a crash and the phone went dead. He called back and said sheepishly he'd had a small accident but "everything is OK now."
I later learned that he was sitting in a swivel chair and absently spinning around while speaking to me. Apparently, the phone cord got tangled in the chair. When he bent to unscramble the cord, the whole chair toppled over. Somehow it gave me great comfort, knowing that, left to his own devices, a top ten tennis player -- one who would go on to marry Miss Universe, no less! -- is capable of doing the same stupid stuff as the rest of us.