Murray's extended misery, short shrift for Stosur, more mail
Andy Murray has strugged mightily all season long, but he's no Guillermo Coria
Sam Stosur deserves credit for Charleston, but resolve remains a question mark
Roger Federer has created such high standards that every loss gets scrutinized
Is Andy Murray about to become the next Guillermo Coria?
Whoa. Murray is in a serious slump right now -- and has been since the seventh round of the Australian Open. But we're talking about a player who's already reached the semis or better at three of the four majors, has a winning record over Roger Federer, has won Masters Series events on multiple surfaces and so forth. Comparing him to Coria -- an undersized player who lost a major final he should have won and was never the same player again -- is way too harsh.
Lots of Murray-bashing lately and it's not altogether unwarranted. It's not just that's he losing -- it's how and to whom. And his attitude: Even in the best of times, the sun seldom shines in Murray's world. But lately, he's walking around under his own private ash cloud. Nevertheless, this is a good time to issue the reminder that careers are not linear and even the best can play like dogs for a few months. He'll be back. Have faith.
I'm a longtime reader and I look forward to your columns every week. However, I think it is a little unfair for you to suggest that Sam Stosur won the Charleston title merely because better players retired. Stosur was dominating -- yes, dominating -- world No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki before Wozniacki sprained her ankle. You certainly should have mentioned that Wozniacki obviously does not move well on clay and that Stosur brilliantly exploited this weakness by moving Wozniacki all over the court. In fact, Wozniacki sprained her ankle by trying to run down one of Stosur's deft drop shots, so Wozniacki's retirement is partly attributable to Stosur's excellent play. Instead of basically attributing Stosur's win to dumb luck, you could have remarked on how much she has improved over the past year and how she totally outclassed Vera Zvonareva in the final. And you could have mentioned that Stosur was utterly dominant all week with her huge serve and forehand. Additionally, you could have pointed out that Stosur's second serve was better than most players' first serves. Finally, you could reasonably have speculated that if Stosur can use her big weapons with anywhere near this level of consistency for the rest of the year, then she has a great chance of cracking the top five . In conclusion, please look back at your comments and admit that you gave Stosur short shrift.
The item was meant to discuss the desperate need to address injuries. But fair point. All credit to Stosur, who not only has established herself as a top 10 player, but also has become a threat on all surfaces. In addition to her serve, her forehand is a deadly weapon; and she's one of those athletes who, one suspects, would be a point guard (what ever happened to Michele Timms?) or a soccer star had she not picked up tennis. The one remaining question mark is her competitive resolve. Too often, she seems to be going great guns in the first week of a Slam -- and then goes quietly in the fourth round or quarters.
Kim Clijsters' loss in Marbella was not good, but she has not played on clay in three years, so it takes time -- and I think she will get better. Keep in mind also that she won the U.S. Open in her THIRD tournament back. And losing in three tight sets was a lot less disconcerting than losing in two easy sets, no?
Sort of. She hadn't played on clay in years. She was coming off a grueling event in Miami. She had flown across an ocean. Her daughter is starting to get into the various High School Musical sound tracks, which makes her parents want to stick screwdrivers in their eyes. (OK, I made up that one, but it felt cathartic to write it.) Whatever. I still say a top five player losing to a player outside the top 250 is a gargantuan upset.
Just an aside: Rafael Nadal's current clothing line is very much an athletic version of the clothes a trendy man in his early 20s would wear with his $525,000 watch. I'm sure 20 years from now, it'll be as embarrassing as any other tennis trend, but I have to say, your weak-sauce jokes about his shorts are reaching "get off my lawn you damn kids" levels.
Dude -- Are the kids still staying dude? I've ordered them off my lawn so I don't pick up lingo like "weak sauce" -- I don't get it: I'm advocating against plaid and in favor of sleeveless, Day-Glo Lycra. And you're accusing me of sounding old? This confuses me. And now I need a nap.
Was there any reason why Leizel Huber played without Cara Black this week? Or just a needed change?
I gather that, yes, after Miami, Huber and Black have decided to take a break. Permanent or not, how about we pause to recognize a truly outstanding partnership? I was amused to see that Huber played alongside Nadia Petrova last week in Charleston. Time heals all wounds, I guess.
Why am I just now learning that John McPhee has a book about tennis? What else haven't you told us?
The Menendez brothers played tennis at Princeton? Rhode Island is the smallest state geographically but has the longest name? Janet Jackson's big break was playing Willis Drummond's girlfriend, Charlene, on Diff'rent Strokes? Fatboy Slim was once in the Housemartins?
Geno Auriemma? I'll tell you who needs to be coaching women's tennis: Martina Hingis. We'd have the added bonus of nicknaming any successful player under her guidance, Pride of Chucky.
Agree. Even if there weren't a ready-made nickname. Even at age 16, she was a brilliant tactician. She had a great ability to recall her opponents and their tendencies. And, heaven knows, she has no problem expressing herself.
You're right about the whole Augusta thing and the green jacket. I mean, no one in tennis would demean themselves by rocking some cheesy jacket after winning a big event, would they? Especially if it had something lame like their number of Slams on it. I'm just glad tennis players don't resort to such Velveeta-like tendencies.
Very good. But at least there was a spirited debate after this and Tennis Nation didn't simply let it slide, chalking it up to "a tradition unlike any other."
In the slim chance that Wayne Odesnik is found innocent, will Andy Roddick, Same Querrey and all the others who have slammed him apologize? I doubt it. I suspect they'll claim they still think he is guilty regardless of the outcome. How about you -- what would your reaction be?
It would probably behoove all of us to stop speculating and just see how this plays out. Without knowing the specifics, I stand by my point: When you've issued a guilty plea in a criminal proceeding for transport of a performance-enhancing drug -- again, this is not just a charge; this is an admission -- you should not be allowed to resume playing while awaiting your fate from your sport's governing body. Even in the unlikely event that there is exculpatory evidence or mitigating circumstances, you should lie low and let the process play out. Fortunately, in a decisive victory for common sense, Odesnik has agreed to a provisional suspension, and the ITF is revisiting its policy on this matter.
While we're here, let me throw this out to the lawyers in the audience: As a member of at least a quasi-players' organization, should Odesnik have had some obligation to disclose his situation to the ATP and ITF? I'm told that they were essentially blindsided by the report that he had plead guilty. Surely the crisis could have been managed better had there been more advance warning. (As for Odesnik's reception among his colleagues, note the Mahesh Bhupathi item below.)
You wrote this the other day: "Most recently, the U.S. Open National Playoffs concept -- whereby winners are granted a wild card into the men's and women's U.S. Open qualifying draws -- is an outright winner. Play kicked off over the weekend and the winners will be crowned during the first events of the U.S. Open Series this July." This is a great idea, but it was first started by Mark Baron for his ATP event in Delray Beach, Fla. It has been a big success for several years and so the USTA decided to adopt it. Please give credit where credit is due. This Delray Beach event has often taken the lead in promoting new ideas and activities, e.g. fans could send photos from the event taken with cell phones, directly to the Delray Web site; decorating the court with lavish murals; producing a free Tennis on the Avenue event for all visitors to the area; being the first to incorporate a Champions Tour event along with the regular ATP tournament.
For the first time, I attended the Delray event a few weeks ago. Piggybacking on Betty's remarks, I was impressed with the many small touches: The Bryan brothers played music on site; there were contests and murals and legends matches, along with mahi-mahi sandwiches in the food court. A lot of value added.