Can we all accept that Roger Federer is not the invincible machine anymore and stop making a big deal over his losses at IW and Miami (while hardly acknowledging the exits of Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, and the Bryans brothers)? Why do people still expect Federer to win every tournament he enters? He is being pressed more and more often, even in the Slams. It's not 2006-07 anymore, people.
This is the beast Federer has created: standards as high as the general admission seats at Arthur Ashe Stadium. So it is that every loss becomes a referendum on the health of his career. On the other hand, when you win three of the last four majors -- the last one in thoroughly dominating fashion -- it's news when you fall in successive events (on the same surface as your previous Slam win, no less) to Marcos Baghdatis and Tomas Berdych. Especially when you squander a match point on both occasions. Does it mean that Federer is washed up? No. But is it worthy of attention and discussion? Sure.
This has been puzzling me. If you look at the guys, their hitting arm is always bigger than the other. Just look at Federer and Nadal. But the girls doesn't seem to have this problem. Their arms look balanced and proportioned.
Interesting question. I suspect that a lot of this is tied to the one-handed backhand, but it obviously doesn't explain the case with Nadal. Someone with more knowledge of exercise science, physiology, biomechanics, etc., should feel free to chime in.
OK, so he got his hat handed to him at Monte Carlo -- but how about some props for Fernando Verdasco? In the past few months he has won one title, reached the semis at Indian Wells and finals of Monte Carlo, all while attempting to find a new stick. I've noticed Technifibre, Yonex and now Dunlop rackets in his hands this year! He's hitting a nice stride!
Half full: Yes, Verdasco's result of late have been encouraging. There's a lot of game there, always has been, and it's clear he's maturing. Glass half empty: Boy, it has to be demoralizing to reach a final of a big-ticket event and come within a game of getting double-bageled. We've talked before about Verdasco being one of the players who can clearly hit cruise control and reach Slams quarters and nest in that 8-12 range, make his millions, date the pretty girls and model underwear. Is he willing to make the investment necessary for a full-fledged assault on the summit? Let's follow him closely these next eight or so weeks.
I think you can add PR specialist to Serena's list of moonlighting jobs -- she seems to be doing more PR for Green Day than herself these days (see Twitter posts).
This gives us a chance to link this.
On the topic of tennis statistics:
Rish of Melbourne, Australia, notes: "Tennis Australia has put together a system where they can computerize all that data and use it to arm our kids like Lleyton and Sammy. I guess there's something they're doing right. Cheers."
Chip of Denver,: "I wonder if Martin (Tacoma, Wash.) is using "My Tennis Stats" for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad? Because these stats are easy to track with my app. I looked at the last match I tracked (Roddick v. Ljubicic in the Indian Wells final), and Martin is right. Both players won the game 100% (3/3) when they won the 30-30 point. However, the same number of games went to deuce (2) when the score was 40-15 as 30-30. Again, all these stats are super simple to track with My Tennis Stats! P.S. Love the 'bag, one of these days I'll come up with a 'real' tennis question to ask, and not just a plug for my app!"
Skip of Philadelphia writes: "I'll add this one-two punch: percentage of break points successfully defended, and percentage of breaks won with the first break point. I don't know how much you'd change your tactics if you knew this, but as a fan they'd give us a quantifiable ranking for toughness."
Andrew of New York City: "You thought you knew sabermetrics? Theeeese are sabermetrics."
The Williams sisters as speakers in Chattanooga.
Stay tuned for Venus Williams' book, coming out in late June. I'm not sure what I'm at liberty to reveal, but suffice to say it's not your typical sports memoir.
Roddick, talking to Dan Patrick about his chances/merits of making the Hall of Fame: "I think based on the track record of people who are there, the precedent has been set for those to be Hall of Fame numbers."
Alan Gnani of Atlanta notes: "On his Twitter feed, Mahesh Bhupathi tweeted that there were lots of skits performed at the Monte Carlo players' party (Agassi-Sampras feud, Nadal-Shakira video, Jackson 5 acts, etc.). This comment caught my eye: 'Sorry about the quality but best I could do with my BB.. Of course there were acts on Wayne Odesnik and Tiger Woods.. ' Many players had openly expressed their anger toward Odesnik; now it's clear that he's become a big joke. Your point is well taken that, for the sake of tennis, he should just disappear for a while. Locker room must be real fun with Wayne around."
Helen of Philadelphia: "RE: Ticket re-sales. This year for the first time, Roland Garros is creating its own in-house version of Craigslist -- a forum where people who find they don't need their tickets can sell them to others who do."
Regarding last Sunday's final, Alex Ketaineck of Madison, N.J., notes: "[Among] the men's final in Monte Carlo and the women's finals in Charleston and Barcelona, the losers combined to win a grand total of six games. Three players combined to win one set."
Brian U. of New York, N.Y.: "For your book recommendations, I would add Jack Kramer's autobiography in the late '70s. Great read, and for this thirtysomething, I found it a great perspective on an earlier era of tennis I knew little about."
Ron, Yorkshire, U.K.: "Regarding tennis book recommendations, one of my favorites is Hard Courts [by John Feinstein]."
Anthony, our unofficial Australia correspondent, sends this link: a slap in the face to Paul McNamee.