I realize the United States won Davis Cup a mere two years ago, but am I incorrect in asking the question: When is the last time a player not named Roddick/Bryan won an important Davis Cup match? I realize the U.S. played without its top-ranked competitor, but there is no reason it shouldn't have pulled out the tie against Croatia. There comes a point that players like James Blake and Mardy Fish need to step up and take some of the pressure off Roddick.
Valid question. Though I was hoping more of you would ask this question: How can Davis Cup expect to remain a relevant event when the quarterfinal rounds are held a few days after Wimbledon? (In the case of the U.S. team: on the indoor clay!) Unquestionably, the U.S. team would benefit from a reliable second singles player. The captain's own brother expressed surprise that the struggling Blake got the call last week. (Fish was obviously summoned when Roddick withdrew.) Particularly if Sam Querrey can continue his strong play, I suspect we may see a lineup change before long.
In May, you wrote about Richard Gasquet: "Even when he was embedded in the top 10, he never projected self-belief or comfort in his own skin. Tellingly (and poignantly), the goal of his charitable foundation is 'to help adolescents who struggle to find their place in society and who suffer from a lack of confidence.' Here's hoping he has the strength to fight this. And here's hoping we see him back much sooner than two years from now." Are you happy now?
Yes. But here's what I don't get: The tribunal went to great lengths to exonerate Gasquet. In the kind of florid language usually reserved for college letters of recommendation, the panel practically gushed, "We have found the player to be a person who is shy and reserved, honest and truthful, and a man of integrity and good character. ... He is neither a cheat nor a user of drugs for recreational purposes." The implicit message: The testing system is flawed. Yet Gasquet faces a lifetime ban should he test positive a second time?
In light of her entry into the Hall of Fame, where does Monica Seles rank in the history of the women's game? How do you factor in the stabbing incident? Steffi Graf, arguably the best women's player ever, won 11 of her major titles after the incident, having lost three of four finals to Seles before that. In my book, she's right behind the Graf-Martina Navratilova-Chris Evert troika (yes, higher even than the Williams sisters).
I love this line one of you wrote to me lately: "The world's longest book is the Book of If." A lot of us feel torn about Seles. Obviously, had she sustained her trajectory, she was on course to become a candidate for greatest of all time. But it's hard to credit her for Slams she didn't win. As for Graf, we can account for history and consider that her rival was sadly absent for many of her Slam victories. But it's also like our discussion last week regarding Federer's winning in the absence of Nadal. He beat every opponent put before him. What more can you ask?
What DO people wear to a Home Depot in Alabama? Something different than everywhere else? Oh, well, we say here that we live in L.A., too. Lower Alabama.
For the record, we had five readers noting that L.A. also stands for lower Alabama. And our friend Chloe Matus was kind enough to take me up on my facetious offer and draw the photo at right.
FEBravo writes: "Regarding last week's mailbag question about Grigor Dimitrov, I saw him take Nadal to three close sets in Rotterdam earlier this year, and judging by that performance, he seemed like the real deal. Also played without fear of Nadal, which is no small feat. Whether he can play consistently well amidst the grind of the professional tennis tour will be the key."
Here's RealTennisNut from Ann Arbor, Mich.: "A bit more on Dimitrov. He played Gilles Simon twice, taking a set of him once and losing in two tiebreaks in another. He also beat Tomas Berdych at Rotterdam before falling to Nadal in three sets. Peter Lundgren did mention that at 18 Dimitrov has more talent than what Federer had at that age. It remains to be seen if he can translate that to the next stage.
Go out and buy a can of Chunky. Campbell's has renewed as Newport event sponsor. And IBM has renewed as a U.S. Open sponsor.
Robert Webb of Dalton, Ga.: "Best player not to win Wimbledon? Gotta be Ken Rosewall. Four finals over a span of 20 years and many of his best years lost during the pre-Open era. I guess Pancho Gonzalez would be the runner-up in that list. Sad that the memory of some tennis fans extends to only the past decade. The sport's history is one of the aspects that make it so appealing."
Jon Becker of Decatur, Ga.: "Hypothetical situation: Roddick beats Federer in the U.S. Open final. What are the odds A-Rod dons a jacket during the trophy ceremony with an embroidered '2' on it? Knowing Roddick's pride and sarcasm, my guess is he already has Lacoste working on it."
Another ATP lawsuit.
Vote for the best tennis town.
Robin Roberts, an anchor on ABC's Good Morning America, will emcee the 29th annual "Legends Ball" to benefit the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum on Sept. 11 in New York City. To learn more about the event, call 212-843-1740 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great week, everyone!