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Posted: Wednesday March 25, 2009 1:34PM; Updated: Thursday March 26, 2009 6:00PM
Jon Wertheim Jon Wertheim >
TENNIS MAILBAG

Scott leaves at critical juncture, Clijsters sets comeback (cont.)

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Jon Wertheim's Mailbag
Jon Wertheim will answer questions from SI.com users in his mailbag every Wednesday.
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I know there was a lot of excitement on the court at Indian Wells, but let's get to the important stuff. How much hooking up is done at these combined events? Notwithstanding the fact that these pros work hard, let's face it, there's a lot of down time between matches. I'm just guessing there's a lot of scouting going on, but having nothing to do with the next opponents' backhand lob.
-- Craig Berry, Park Forest, Ill.

• The Indian Wells facility is a short drive from both a Dairy Queen and a world-class outlet mall. (Hugo Boss suits for $199?) With lures like that, who has time for reindeer games?

Now that Andy Roddick has sent Novak Djokovic packing with his tail between his legs and Nadal has once again showed his utter dominance by dismantling Murray in the IW final, is there still such a thing as the media-created "Big Four"? Or are we back to the Big Two? Or maybe, if we're really being honest, it's the Big One (Nadal) and then everybody else. How does the top 10 men's hierarchy stack up right now?
-- Cherry, Long Island

• As we've said before, the plots change quickly in this sport. So far in 2009, you could make the case the Big Five is: Nadal, Murray, Federer, Roddick and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. But the overarching theme thus far has been the dominance of Nadal. After Nadal's shaky end to 2008, there was a sense that Federer had an opportunity to reclaim the throne. Yet in 2009, Nadal has distanced himself from his contemporaries. And we haven't even hit the clay yet. You get a feeling that the script has changed and he's gone from a worthy opponent of Federer to a GOAT-worthy player.

I have to call you out for thinking the "wildly partisan crowd" is such a big factor for U.S. players like Roddick and the Bryans. Will Roddick ever get a more partisan crowd than the 23,000 screaming fans at Arthur Ashe who would give their first born to see Andy win another Slam? And yet, after seven sets against Federer in front the the "wildest possible partisan crowd," Andy has one set won.
-- Norm Kwong, HK

• But I'm talking Alabama partisan!

Yay or Nay: WTA Tour Indian Wells tournament is a preview of women's tennis once Venus and Serena retire?
-- Dallas, Vancouver, BC, Canada

• Let's hope not. We all love Vera Zvonareva, but ... By the way, there were still a good many notes about the Williams sisters and Indian Wells. Here's my take: They haven't played the tournament and they ain't ever going to. I think we need to respect their decision and move on. End of story.

WTHIGOW Agnieszka Radwanska? Granted, she made the quarters at Indian Wells. But her results this year have been somewhat poor. She is dragging down my Fantasy Tennis team! Help! Jon, make her start playing better or something.
-- Charlie G., Washington, D.C.

• Sadly, I think A-Rad is one of those players who was simply born a generation or two too late. She plays with creativity and craft, but often is simply incapable of matching her opponent's power.

Much was made of the "loss of credibility" of doubles after Federer/Wawrinka defeated the Bryans and some other top pairs to capture the Olympic gold medal. How about mentioning that Mike and Bob just beat Federer and Nadal in a row?
-- Natasha, Toronto

• You just did it for me. (Though, in fairness, the shotgun marriage team of Roddick/Mardy Fish winning the event cuts the other way.)

Anyone know where I can get Jelena's World? It's not available at Blockbuster obviously, and her site only has the trailer with no instructions on how/where to buy the DVD.
-- Vincent, New York City

• Good question. This is the Jelena Jankovic documentary, which, I've heard from several of you, is quite well done. Just looked and it's not on Netflix. If anyone has any information, please pass it on.

Dinara Safina gave up dubs after the Olympics to concentrate on singles. Her record since then vs top 15 players is 2-11. Roddick looked the best he has in a long time at Indian Wells, where he just won a doubles tournament. Hey, was not his winning Indy doubles in '06 the start of a very good run? Is there some message?
-- Jerry White, Mineral, Va.

• Jerry also raised an excellent point: When Murray beat Federer he reacted as though it had simply been another day at the office. Maybe Murray's decision to go all-out against Federer in Shanghai -- dismissed by many as a Pyrric victory -- paid off after all.

Shots, Miscellany

• A reminder that we are doing a tennis-themedtwitter.

• Just when you thought "positive business news" was becoming an oxymoron ...(note the tennis item).

Pete Sampras saved two set points and defeated Patrick Rafter 7-6 (6), 6-4 Sunday to win the singles title at the $150,000 Del Mar Development Champions Cup last weekend.

• This had to be the strangest story coming out of Indian Wells. (Mashona tells us that she is unable to comment at this time.)

Zolbol of Durban, South Africa: Talking of tennis marriages, if memory serves me correct there was a time when Steffi Graf dated a Michael Bartels, and her brother Michael Graf dated American tennis player Steffi Rehe. If their dating progressed to marriage, we could have had Steffi Graf playing her sister-in-law, also Steffi Graf, watched by their husbands who would also be brothers-in-law, both called Michael!

• Thanks to M. NG for passing on this link to a new tennis book.

• This should be standard operating procedure for all tournaments.

• Nadal versus ...Fred Couples?

• Live! For one night only! It's the Murray brothers!

New York Post blind item: Which WTA player was arrested in Indian Wells?

• And speaking of comedians ... Adam Cox of Saltsjo-Duvnas, Sweden: Question: What do you call an art-loving tennis fan who believes the game was more beautiful before Nadal made his debut in 2002? Answer: A pre-Rafaelite.

• Long lost siblings from Joey Asher of Atlanta: Nikolay Davydenko and Gollum.

Have a great week everyone and enjoy the first week of Key Biscayne!

 
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