Clijsters' return well-timed for tour
On the basis of one match, the Kim Clijsters bandwagon is festival seating only
Elena Dementieva's easy to like personally and tougher to warm to professionally
Melanie Oudin and Alexa Glatch should have been awarded at least one wild card
Let me be the 12,764th person to ask you: Does Kim Clijsters' win over 13th-ranked Marion Bartoli show how weak the women's game is today, or is Clijsters really that good a player to come back after a two-year absence and knock off a player who just beat Venus Williams in the Stanford final?
Oh, behave. Let's give Clijsters some credit here and leave it at that. No need to impugn all of women's tennis because a former No. 1 player who's still only 26 returned after a two-year absence and, playing on her surface of choice, beat a tired Bartoli.
Given the state of the women's game -- I again cite the Freudian slip in the Larry Scott transcript noting the "parody" at the top of the rankings -- Clijsters' return has come not a moment too soon. Here is precisely what the WTA needs: a consistent player with an engaging personality, some name recognition and a pleasant backstory. Too bad Justine Henin isn't following suit.
On the basis of one match, already the Clijsters bandwagon is festival seating only. "She will win the U.S. Open," one of you insisted. I think that's a bit much. For one, beating Bartoli on a Monday in Cincy isn't the same as beating Serena Williams at a Grand Slam. Also, time and again we have seen players make splashy comebacks -- see Martina Hingis at the 2006 Aussie Open, where she reached the second week before losing to, wait for it, Clijsters -- only to falter after a few months. There's a big difference between posting a strong first tournament and posting consistent results. The body breaks down, the rigors of travel manifest themselves, mental fatigue sets in. Right now, I say Clijsters is among the world's top 10. Whether she can improve on that will be interesting. Regardless, what a blessing for the women's game.
And as long as we're leading with Clijsters, loyal reader Stewbop has suggested some reasons for her return:
1. She's Looking for a Hero.
I came across Roger Federer's explanation on "jacketgate." I think it's only fair that you publish it in your mailbag.
While Roger and Mirka Federer are no Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, I just find it curious (and in a way, admirable) that they share the first public photos of their babies for free on Facebook unlike most celebrities who demand millions just to show the same photos of their own kids so that they can "donate" it to charity.
Agree. Thought that was very cool.
You are an astute and insightful chronicler of the game. Through your mailbags you have become the arbiter of all of the sport's fundamental questions. I ask you to opine on this: Which will be a higher number, Federer's career total of major wins or the annual allotment of dirty diapers he changes?!?
I knew after that flattery there had to be a punch line coming. I think it's a trick question, as Federer calls them "nappies" and not diapers. Actually, after he changes his 14th diaper, I have an idea for what he can use for the 15th ... oh, never mind.
Why don't professional tennis players wear sunglasses? Modern technology can create glasses that would make seeing the ball clearer while reducing glare.
A few do: Sam Stosur, Arnaud Clement, lots of doubles players. (I've seen Ivo Karlovic wear shades too, but, you know, would you expect less from MC Ivo?) I still hear players complain they don't see the ball quite right and prefer a baseball cap.
What's your take on this "un-retiring" to play some doubles? A few weeks ago, Michael Stich awarded himself a wild card to play alongside Mischa Zverev. Last week at the Segovia challenger, Francisco Clavet teamed up with his new pupil, Feliciano Lopez, six years after he retired at that same tournament. And this week we see that Rafael Nadal has dusted off temp coach Francisco Roig for some doubles action!
As one of you noted several weeks ago, Stich's awarding himself a wild card is a laughable conflict of interest, even by tennis' limbo-bar standards. Still, I can't generate much outrage here. If this serves to boost some interest in doubles, I'm for it.
Here is what I read in the Flavia Pennetta-Maria Sharapova match report: "On the changeover between the first and second sets, Sharapova's coach, Michael Joyce, came on court and told her she had to be more aggressive because Pennetta was keeping a lot of balls in play. Later in the match, Joyce told Sharapova that "this girl can fall apart" only to see Pennetta break serve in the next game." Actually, Sharapova went on to drop her last three service games. In retrospect, it doesn't look any better or worse than the economic advice of yesteryear. Coaches coming on to try to "bail out" their player, do you think it is a sign of the times?
I realize that that we're flogging a deceased equine here. But I feel like this point needs to be made as well and, I hope, forwarded to the WTA. Collectively, you guys form a terrific barometer, a vox populi for Tennis Nation, a Harris poll of sorts for our sport. Some of you agree with Serena, some of you support Dinara Safina. You like Hawkeye but are growing skeptical. You tend to disagree with me that the first four rounds of Slams should be best-of-three sets. You're pretty evenly split on equal prize money, Federer's 15 jacket and your affinity for Andy Roddick. You lament Davis Cup in its current state but struggle to come up with a better alternative. But never, in the thousands of e-mails you've sent, has one of you expressed anything but criticism/derision regarding on-court coaching.