Roger Federer's historic win and more thoughts from Wimbledon
For the second straight year, the men's final featured a marathon fifth set
Serena Williams may be inconsistent, but she's deadlin in Grand Slam finals
NBC's Wimbledon telecasts are great -- but how about some live semifinals?
Some scattered thoughts on a historic Wimbledon ...
Hats off to your "summer double winner," your all-time men's Slam winner, and new No.1, Roger Federer. Who would have thought we'd have a men's final end 9-7 in the fifth set one year, and then have it go 14 games longer the year thereafter? Federer d. Roddick, 5-7, 7-6. 7-6, 6-3. 16-14. What's this sport serving up next?
Andy Roddick needed to play a virtually perfect match to beat Federer and he nearly did. You hope he remembers this event for the hundred right reasons; not one backhand volley or some unfortunate mishits in the 30th game of the fifth set. Who witnessed Roddick's performance over the last two weeks and weeks and didn't come away with a heightened respect for the guy?
Want to stump your friends? Tell them to name an athlete alive today with better fighting instincts than your 2009 women's champ, Serena Williams, who defeated her sister in the final. Think she elevates her game at the right times? Over the last 10 months she won only three titles: the U.S. Open, Australian Open and Wimbledon.
Congrats to Venus Williams, who looked unstoppable against six non-familial opponents. Yes, the head-to-heads couldn't be closer (Serena now leads 11-10) but Big Sis clearly has the harder time with the emotions and the general weirdness that attend playing against a sibling.
So now we know: the best way to ensure brilliant weather is to spend $200 million on a retractable roof.
That sound you heard last Friday -- or later if you live in one of those pre-industrial countries where they tape-delay sports broasdcasts? It was some air leaving the tournament as Andy Murray went down in defeat to Roddick, thus ending the chance of a British hope of winning the title. Still, I give Murray a lot of credit for the way he handled ridiculous levels of attention/pressure. Andy Murray: U.S. Open champ. You heard it here first.
You are Elena Dementieva. You are thinking to yourself which of the following? A) My serve isn't so bad after all and I came within a point of toppling the mighty Serena Williams at Wimbledon. B) I played about as well as I can play and I still couldn't topple the mighty Serena Williams at Wimbledon.
Venus Williams, to her great credit, bent over backwards to defend the honor of Dinara Safina and the women's game. (Her sister, not so much.) But let's be honest with ourselves: when you're the top seed at a Grand Slam -- even against Venus, even on a surface you, puzzlingly, admit on your own Web site you despise -- you simply cannot allow yourself to lose 6-1, 6-0.
Here's hoping Rafael Nadal never makes the acquaintance of Dr. James Andrews. As it stands, the tournament was able to overcome Nadal's absence. But it's much more fun when he's in the draw.
Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic win the doubles again, beating the Bryan brothers, Bob and Mike, in the finals. Props to pops.
As if their level of domination weren't high enough in singles, Venus and Serena Williams teamed together to take the doubles crown. Without dropping a set.
Andrey Kuznetsov of Russia won the boys, beating American Jordan Cox in the final. Noppawan Lertcheewakarn of Thailand upset top-seeded Kristina Mladenovic of France to win the girls
How's this for a reflex volley?
Q: You can get arrested in this country for having Rick Astley on your iPod.
Andy Roddick: You can get arrested in my country for lying under oath.
For the second straight major, the eight men's quarterfinalists were from eight different countries.
What to make of Novak Djokovic? He plays lights-out tennis for the first four rounds. Then he comes up against Tommy Haas for the second time in three weeks and not only loses, but cites his own nervousness as a factor.
Nice to see the "Old balls, please" crowd -- Lleyton Hewitt, Tommy Haas and Juan Carlos Ferrero -- doing well. It must be heartening for the younger player to see that you can recover from some pretty hardcore injuries and surgeries and still be a factor. And (Goran Ivanisevic notwithstanding) it's hard to recall a more well-played wild card designation than JCF, who reached the quarters.
One Ivo Karlovic = fun. A tour full of Ivo Karlovices = deadly.
Raise your hand -- above your head if your shoulder permits -- if you're officially concerned about Maria Sharapova. I suspect her results this summer will tell us a lot about where this train is headed.
Dear Jelena Jankovic: We admire your movement-based game. We like your candor and abundant personality. But the melodrama is veering into self-parody territory. After the loss to Melanie Oudin: "The physio came out and she asked me, 'Do you know like what is your name?' I just saw blurry. I didn't know. It was really strange feeling. I was scared and I started to cry in this kind of situation." You didn't know your name and yet you kept playing? Really?
Britton's got talent. We came away impressed with Devin Britton, the NCAA champ, and Alex Domijan (Baby Ivo) who both possess top-50 potential. Playing serve-and-volley tennis, Britton lost to yet another American, Jordan Cox, in the semis, 16-14 in the third.
Plenty to like about Oudin, the Atlantan who reached the round of 16 and, frankly, could have beaten Aggie Radwanska, hereinafter known as A-Rad. Oudin is downright petite by WTA standards, but didn't get outhit much. On the contrary, she lost a lot of points by setting herself up masterfully and then blowing the execution on the put-way shot.
How about a hand for the USTA development? While the LTA was getting hammered for the ritual shortcomings of the British players, Americans were making strides. Oudin beating a former No. 1 was the big news. Jesse Levine reaching Round 3, Alexa Glatch continuing to make progress (and sloppy few games at the end prevented her from getting out of the first round), and three Americans making the quarters of the boys draw.
Having said that, maybe the take-away is that we overreact. The American players flame out in the French Open? American tennis is dead! The USTA wastes millions! When will these complacent brats learn to embrace clay? Wait, Jesse Levine wins two matches and Melanie Oudin wins three at Wimbledon? American tennis is back!
Some media notes. I love the line "clickfest at Wimbledon," to describe the pre-finals coverage on NBC. The bad news is that NBC's embargo and tape- delayed coverage generated immense ill will (and bad press) for the network. If you really would rather air Rachel Ray reruns than broadcast live tennis, why even bid on it? The good news: the savvy viewer can find live feeds on-line and it's only going to get easier watch live broadcasts in the future. Two points that ought to be made, though: 1) Name me another sporting event with an unsure starting times. I'm told if the AELTC would say "match X will begin at time Y," NBC would consider live coverage. 2) NBC's broadcast quality is exceptional. The John McEnroe/Ted Robison/Mary Carillo team is exceptional. It's the decision-makers in Rockefeller Center that cause the trouble We'll ask it again: where's Jack Donaghy?
Let's make a deal: I promise not to smoke. Now how about you promise to stop showing me those fatty deposits in the dude's neck? I'm just trying to watch some tennis here, OK? Don't need the 30-second version of a "scared straight" After-School Special.
With the possible exception of Michael Jackson, no one got more air time on the BBC last week than Tracy Austin. Nice mix of knowledge and unvarnished, tell-it-is-like-it-is commentary. Which network will step up and hire her for the U.S. Open? And while we're at it, who's going to hire Jeff Tarango to do his wacky podcast?
Sadly, we hear that Jennifer Capriati is out of the Superstars competition with an exacerbation of her shoulder injury. (Or maybe she really injured it throttling her agent for putting her on this show. Note to Boomer Esiason: you're better than this.):
Whatever, sadly, it doesn't bode well for a return to tennis.
Most strained tie-in goes to the BBC's (otherwise quite good) Sue Barker who remarked "how fitting" it would be if Roger Federer played the first match under the roof. Why? Because Federer "has become known in recent years as the King of Wimbledon ... and this is the day after of the death of the King of Pop." O-K.
Tennis Channel continues to get better with each event. (Look for Jimmy Connors to join the team for the U.S. Open coverage.) Maybe this will convince Cablevision et al finally to get on board with the distribution.
Anyone else notice that ING "numbers" are substantially smaller than last year's? Recession, I guess.
Best new crowd innovation: "The wave" in slow motion.
The fans perfected this on Court Three last week.
Mohamed Lahyani was the chair umpire for Dudi Sela's third round win over Tommy Robredo. At one point Lahyani admonished some of Sela's fans to pipe down. As one scribe put it: "I thought it was rather interesting that when Mohamed held up his hand, the Israelis quieted."
In every other sports, teams kill themselves in order to secure "home court advantage." In tennis? Murray Mania is perceived as unendurable pressure; and one after the other, players have expressed a preference to "fly under the radar."
Could this be right? Andy Murray didn't serve and volley once in his loss to Roddick?
There's an APB out for Donald Young.
Nice to see Ana Ivanovic get back to winning. Nothing earth-shattering but a second week showing in a Slam is a step forward. Then she gets stomped by Venus for set and retires with a thigh injury. She will, however, be back in August.
The Kim Clijsters comeback tour begins in Cincinnati. And her new manager is John Dolan, who helped many of us when he worked for the WTA Tour. Good luck to him.
Favorite accessory? No, not the Federer gold lame man-purse, which really cuts against the everyman image he worked so hard to cultivate. We're going with the Jelena Jankovic "JJ" bag. We work on the assumption it was stolen from neither Jamea Jackson nor Joachim Johansson. Or, for that matter, Jermaine Jackson.
Buy your Sabine Lisicki stock now. Not the prettiest game -- Justine Henin, we miss you more with each passing day -- but she might own the biggest serve in the game.
Disappointing to see young Grigor Dimitrov win the first set of his first match and then retire. We all know the rules of engagement when it comes to hype but "more talent than Federer at that age," is high praise.
Two of you noted that during an early round doubles match, Amelie Mauresmo whipped out a can of hairspray during one of the changeovers. While Svetlana Kuznetsova sprayed her hair with it, Amelie brushed it. As Alison of Amherest, N.Y., put it: "It was a little odd watching two Grand Slam winners play beauty shop on court. But the umpire didn't seem to mind."
Most underrated story: the Indian-Pakistani doubles team of Prakash Amritraj and Aisam-ul Haq Qureshi, won a few matches. Qureshi has now played with an Indian and an Israeli at Wimbledon. Small steps. But steps nonetheless.
Larry Scott officially stepped down at WTA CEO to begin as PAC-10 commissioner. Pick your poison: try to lure sponsors to women's tennis while fighting a grim global economy and the perception that your product is diminished. Or deal with the USC athletic department.
Here's Scott on the WTA ranking system: "The one place it doesn't stir a debate is in the locker room. The players believe in that ranking system. They believe the ranking is right. And I have not had one player come up to me and say, 'How can Dinara Safina be No. 1 in the world?'"
Here's Serena Williams -- who apparently spends little time in aforementioned locker room -- on the same subject:
"I think if you hold three Grand Slam titles maybe you should be No. 1, but not on the WTA Tour obviously, so. ... You know, my motivation is maybe just to win another Grand Slam and stay No. 2, I guess (laughter). ... That's just shocking. But whatever. It is what it is. I'd rather definitely be No. 2 and hold three Grand Slams in the past year than be No. 1 and not have any. "
Here's Serena again: "I feel like I've had a pretty consistent year, though, you know." Come again? You've won "only" two tournaments in 2009, but they've both been majors. And sandwiched between them was a four-match losing streak. What exactly constitutes an inconsistent year?
Monica Seles will be inducted in the Hall of Fame next week, one candidate we can all agree is worthy of enshrinement.
Not far from Wimbledon, in a London conference room, Richard Gasquet was pleading his case over his drug suspension. And keep an eye on this: Martina Hingis' ban lapses in October, a day or so after her 29th birthday.
Mercifully, the grunting "controversy" was muted by the second day of play.
Sam Querrey wins best tweet award: "on my return home from my close 5 set loss, i was struck, yet again, by a drunk vagrant in wimbledon village, this time in the gut."
ON THAT NOTE, HAVE A GREAT WEEK EVERYONE!
To order a copy of Jon Wertheim's' new book, Strokes of Genius: Federer, Nadal, and the Greatest Match Ever Played, click here.