Sharapova's shoulder, Davydenko's dilemma and more mail answers
When will tennis wake up and realize something is profoundly wrong?
Andy Roddick possess an uncanny ability to polarize you guys
The "I didn't grow up on clay" explanation doesn't hold for Federer
Check back later in the week for Aussie Open Seed Reports:
So Jon, on a scale from one to ten, how worried are you about Maria Sharapova?
Worried in what way? Worried about her ability to withstand the global credit crisis and pay for her kid's college? Not so much. Worried about her tennis career? I'd say a seven out of ten.
Speculating about an athlete's health is always a dodgy proposition, but, boy, this latest news sure contradicts the fairly upbeat prognosis we were getting in the fall. And with few exceptions -- the hip being one of them -- there's scarcely a worse injury for a tennis player than a bum serving shoulder. Sharapova is relatively young and her passion is seldom called into question, so one suspects she'll do whatever's necessary to return. But this was not an auspicious start to her season.
We'll continue banging the drum here: when will tennis wake up and realize something is profoundly wrong when the careers of 21-year-old players are jeopardized on account of injury? For three of the last four Majors, the defending women's champ hasn't been entered. That's cause for concern.
With the current feelings of camaraderie and mutual respect being prevalent among the players of the ATP tour, where was this when Nikolay Davydenko needed it. He was basically being put through the wringer and harassed by the ATP, but not one player spoke out in his defense. Where was the support when he needed it?
Interesting point. And you're right to note that Davydenko hardly received the vocal public backing of his colleagues. Just speculating here -- ah, the lax journalistic standards of the Internet -- but I suspect there are a few things going on. One, Davydenko has never been particularly popular among his peers. He's perceived as an introvert and a bit of an eccentric. (I recall Tommy Haas once losing to Davydenko and shrugging, "At least I have a life.") Davydenko has addressed this on several occasions, readily admitting that he has no friends on tour.
In practical terms, it's easy to see why players would be scared to take a public stance on such a potentially explosive issue, absent all the facts. Imagine backing Davydenko and then having it turn out that there really was foul play involved. Further, while the ATP has done a fine job handling the damage control, I still maintain there are some disquieting unanswered questions here. The betting patterns for this match remain deeply, deeply suspicious. As does Davydenko's apparent unwillingness to turn over phone records. I'm not saying he's guilty. But I think the details are still sufficiently murky that it's understandable other players would just as soon avoid comment.
Which anti-Roddick letter are you going to post from a bandwagonning Murray fan, or perhaps one from yet another bitter Fedtard? Keep in mind that Roddick actually made the Doha final in the first place, something King Nadal and Prince Federer could not manage. I'm tired of everybody trashing and writing Roddick off.
As I've written before, Roddick possess an uncanny ability to polarize you guys. Either he's Federer superior, a demigod immune to criticism; or he couldn't play on your cousin's high school team and has only been in the top ten for seven years on account of the American marketing machine. I think Roddick is in a fine position this year: he's not in the "Gang of Four," but he's in that next tier. He's still a formidable player who will win matches simply on account of his serve and lose matches simply on account of his backhand. The expectations for him to win a Slam are diminished, but maybe this is a blessing.
What are the reasons behind the "unsuccess" of Federer in the French Open? Do you think that he can win it in 2009? Or who will win 2009's French Open?
First, let's keep unsuccess (which really ought to be a word) in perspective. Federer has reached the final multiple times and won a big-ticket clay event. Not as though it's Dane Cook applying for a Cabinet post here. Remember, too, that Federer's career happens to coincide with one Rafael Nadal, perhaps the most able claycourter in tennis history. Were it not for Nadal, I suspect we wouldn't be having this conversation.
In the course of researching this Federer/Nadal/Wimbledon 2008 book I am writing, I visited Federer's old club in Basel and asked some of the coaches there this same question. (The club, I should add, has all clay courts, so the "I didn't grow up on the surface" explanation doesn't hold.) The consensus was that Federer simply is not Nadal's equal on clay. While it's simple and to the point, it's as good an explanation as any.
Aside from Wimbledon, Paris, Flushing and Melbourne, what non-major tournaments do you mark on your calendar as ones not to miss? Consider talent the event(s) attract as well as the venue/location, time of year it is held, etc.?
Obviously, this answer all depends on personal taste and temperament. For some fans, the chaotic scene at the U.S. Open is exhilarating; for others, it's hell distilled to its essence. To some, Indian Wells is a gorgeous desert destination. To others, it's a hot, barren geezer-ville. The fields vary, too. A few key withdrawals can change the entire complexion of an event. Personally, I'll choose a city over a "resort destination" every time. (Give me Montreal over La Costa any day of the week.) But plenty of other folks book a week in, say, Amelia Island and combine beach vacation with the tennis.
Why can neither the WTA nor the ATP nor the ITF acknowledge when players die? Neither organization includes death notices or dates in their their online biographies of players (e.g. Daniela Klemenschits, Todd Witsken et al.).Do they want to avoid "bad news" to all extent or do they just "forget" to update their biographies?
While I don't think there's a conspiracy, I would agree that these official sites ought to be a bit more forthright about unpleasant or unflattering news. For example, how many of you knew about this?
What did the no. 1 ranking do to Rafael Nadal? At the Qatar tournament, his face is well shaven, his shorts cut above the knee and he's wearing a shirt with sleeves. Hope he'll keep up this new clean image since he's one of the ambassadors of tennis.
Nadal's new image campaign has gotten mixed reviews from you guys. They're making Angus Young wear Brooks Brothers trousers! No, wait, it's about time the skate rat started to dress appropriately. I'm surprised that Nadal, such a fierce creature of habit, changed his attire after such a successful season. The Nadal brain trust informed us that they wanted to present, a more mature Rafa in this next phase of his career. I guess this is the end product.