The concept of regional tours, who will be No. 1 in 2009 and more
What do think are the chances that Eric Butorac could win a grand slam doubles title during his career? While his ranking has gone down a bit this year, he had great success with Jamie Murray last year, a good run this summer and also is relatively young in doubles terms (1 of the top 10 doubles players is under 30). I feel that as he gets into the prime of his career and if he finds the right partner that he could make the top 10 and possibly capture a Wimbledon or U.S. Open along the way. Your thoughts on this?
It's doubles mania, this week! First things first: you have to root for anyone who is a) from the great state of Minnesota and b) played Division III college tennis and became a creditable pro player. Part of Butorac's challenge will be finding the right partner. He and Jamie Murray had some real success before Murray filed for divorce. (That's Mahesh Bhupathi playing the role of Angelina Jolie.) But not unlike these "Can-Andy-Roddick-win-another-Slam?" questions, I think the answer is almost always going to be yes, simply because of the nature of the challenge. You get hot for a few days, catch a few lucky breaks, dial in your serve in the final and... presto! I mean, Luis friggin' Horna won a Grand Slam doubles title in 2008! I don't mean to diminish the achievement, but we're talking about winning a few rounds of tennis, not turning around the world economy.
If you want to go back a little further, Stan Smith had a backhand smash which used to drive guys like Laver and Nastase crazy. (And last week, I noticed the phrase "Venus Envy" was conspicuously absent from your list of Venus cliches. Hmmm.)
Venus Envy? Sounds only vaguely familiar.
Rhys Goh of Singapore: Random encounter with a tennis player -- I was returning from the Shanghai Tennis Masters Cup when I found this tall, dark-haired man standing beside me at the urinal of Singapore's Changi Airport exceedingly familiar. Finished my business and went outside to wait for him. When Novak Djokovic came out to join his girlfriend, I seized the opportunity to ask him for an autograph and picture. He obliged, albeit with some reservations that the picture might draw too much attention to him. Made my day, especially since he was the reason why my wife and I made the trip to Shanghai this year!
OK, here's another one. (If only doors always swung open when you admitted you're from New Jersey):
Gita Natarajan of Bridgewater, N.J.:
Location: Melbourne, Australian Open, 2008. It was a beautiful morning in Melbourne and I was among a few hundred adoring female fans watching Andy Roddick practice on one of the outside courts. Until that day, I had no idea what a huge female following Andy has in Australia. I stood patiently by the gate hoping he would come my way so I could get an autograph. I knew my chances were slim as the Australian women were dressed to kill! And the most entertaining part was a bevy of four young girls, dressed up as brides and in full bridal make-up holding on to a banner, "Andy, will you marry one of us?" You have to be in Australia to actually believe how much they love Andy down there.
Needless to say, when Andy was done, he packed his stuff, joked with the four brides-to-be and left by the other gate. Not to be outdone, the few hundred women and I ran after him. He just continued walking. I yelled, "Andy, I am from N.J. and I am here to watch you win!" He stopped, gave me the biggest smile ever and, yes, he autographed my giant tennis ball!
Love the "Tennis Night in America" exhibition in New York. Would be nice if Maria Sharapova could be part of the lineup as well.
Speaking of good news for New York tennis fans: March 2009 will mark the grand opening of Sportime's $13 million tennis and sports complex at Randall's Island Park. From the gushing press release:
"The new tennis center will be the largest and most sophisticated tennis complex to open in New York in more than 30 years, offering 20 new modern indoor/outdoor courts and more. The new Sportime facility will include; 5 Deco-Turf hard courts for permanent indoor playing year-round and 5 Deco-Turf and 10 Har-Tru clay tennis courts for both indoor and outdoor playing year-round, training and fitness centers, a clubhouse with excellent views of all the courts, full-service locker rooms, a pro shop, a café/bar serving healthy food, snacks and beverages; and lounge areas and classrooms. ...Both Sportime members and non-members will be able to reserve court time and use the brand new facilities. In addition, tennis athletes with valid New York City Parks & Recreation Tennis Permits will have access to 10 courts during the outdoor season. The new facility will help to meet the increased needs of the City's tennis playing community by offering over 100,000 hours of indoor and outdoor court availability, annually."
Spanish speakers: you think the New York media is tough? Check out this exchange.
Colin O'Brien of Washington, D.C. comes up with this week's "Lost In Translation" winner: Here is the concluding sentence of the daviscup.com report on the Nalbandian/Ferrer match: "For Nalbandian, his 17th home victory is yet another notch on his Davis Cup bedpost."
Tracey Venice, Calif.: Two tennis cameos spotted on tv this week: James Blake on Lipstick Jungle and the Bryan Brothers on the CW's Privileged.
Not to be outdone: Kim of New Jersey: John McEnroe appeared in the most recent episode of 30 Rock (season 3, episode 4) as someone who specializes in "art collecting and yelling".
Alex Ketaineck of Madison, N.J. notes: I guess the Chinese aren't very strict about checking for IDs at sporting events.
Have a good week and a happy Thanksgiving everyone!