Best of Three: Odesnik should have passed, Clijsters' clay calamity
Given his pending doping case, maybe Wayne Odesnik shouldn't have played
Kim Clijsters wasn't downplaying when she tempered her clay expectations
Give credit to the U.S. Men's Clay Court event for a intelligent ticket promotion
1. Lil' Wayne: Wayne Odesnik may have pleaded guilty to bringing human growth hormone into Australia. But that didn't stop him from entering the U.S. Clay Court event in Houston. And as the ITF continues its proceedings, Odesnik turned in one of the better results of his career, reaching the semifinal. While you have to commend the guy for his tennis, his powers of compartmentalization, and his sheer chutzpah -- think there may have been some awkwardness in the locker room? -- his decorum leaves something to be desired. Common decency says that even if you are technically allowed to play, it's probably best to lay low while your doping case is pending. You do a huge disservice to the tournament, taking the attention away from the tennis making anti-doping protocol the story of the week. You, understandably, rankle your colleagues, especially the ones you beat. The ATP and ITF get hammered. And, in the event you're judged guilty -- which would surely seem probable given that you've already made an admission of guilt in a criminal proceeding -- you're likely to forfeit your gains from the tournament anyway.
In the meantime, the ATP might want to rethink its policy. Few of us would argue against fairness, patience and due process in the face of allegations. But the same way other employers reserve the right to put employees on "administrative leave" as the investigations and proceedings play out, surely there's a way to massage this and avoid a repeat of such an awkward and unpleasant situation in the future. As for the tournament itself, Juan Ignacio Chela (who, ironically, once served a doping sanction himself) won the title with a victory over Sam Querrey. The Bryans took the doubles.
2. Surface tension: Athletes have a way of lowering expectation and diffusing pressure by understating their chances. But when Kim Clijsters downplayed her prospects on clay, boy, was she not kidding. Mere days after beating Justine Henin and Venus Williams to take the Sony Ericsson title in Miami, Clijsters fell to 258th-ranked qualifier Beatriz Garcia Vidagany of Spain 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 in the second round of the Andalucia Open. While no would deny that Clijsters is best suited for hard courts, that was just a stunning result. She's a French Open finalist, but unless she improves dramatically over the next four weeks, it's hard to see her doing much in Paris. (Flavia Pennetta ended up winning the event.)
3. Turnback Time: Congrats to the U.S. Men's Clay Court "Ticket Turnback" policy, whereby ticket holders unable to attend sessions re-sold their seats, with the money benefitting the Texas Children's Hospital. So let's get this straight: affordable tickets go out to real tennis fans, the prime seats are filled for television, and a charity benefits from the proceeds. One question: why aren't all tournaments doing this?
The morning he defended his UFC middleweight title in Abu Dhabi, Anderson Silva allegedly whiled away some free time by ... playing tennis.
Heartfelt best wishes Martina Navratilova, one of the greats -- in every sense.
If you're the USTA, do you let Odesnik compete in the "play-off" for the French Open wild card?
From the management world: provided the Lagardere acquisition of BEST goes off as reported, this could have interesting implications within tennis. Stay tuned.
If you've been following this story, it was nice to see Simona Halep win a few matches in Andalucia.