Fifty thoughts (cont.)
Serbian tennis: putting the "fun" in dysfunctional.
Reader Stewbop astutely noted that the real voguish fashion in Paris was neither a lace dress nor a half-million dollar watch. It was black strings.
We've made a big enough deal about Sam Querrey's dismal performance and his admission of tanking. If he's in search of inspiration, he ought to look up -- if only by an inch -- to his jilted doubles partner, John Isner, who soldiered on, won a few matches, took home a fat check, and conducted himself like a pro.
Fourth round matches we did not expect to see: Jarmila Groth versus Yaroslava Shvedova. What's the opposite of collateral damage? Pleasant by-product? Whatever, one nice feature of a Slam is that these struggling journey-folk can win a few matches, catch a break from the draw gods, and suddenly walk away $100,000 to the good. The 60th-ranked player needs that cash infusion a lot more than Nadal needs an extra million.
Curious on the over/under here. Now that's it gotten so much publicity -- including a write-up in the New York Times style section -- how many people have actually parted with $525,000 and made the impulse purchase of a Richard Mille timepiece?
Apart from being politically incorrect, "Cat fight" doesn't really do justice to the squabbles between Ivanovic-Jankovic and Bartoli-Rezai. These are like mini class wars. Somehow this eases the guilt of being a voyeur.
This feels a bit like an act of both professional and social disloyalty. But someone probably should explain the concept of "no comment" to Jelena Jankovic. Asked about her spat with Ivanovic, she claimed "I don't think it's a right time to comment on this kind of thing." Then she promptly added:
"But for me, as a player, it's -- every player has their way of, you know, motivating themselves and pumping themselves up, you know, if you win a point or you didn't win a point. But I don't think it's nice to put it, you know, the fist in their face. That's what can be a little irritating. That's the only -- but all the players, they do, you know, different kind of gestures, you know, with their hands. But, you know, it's a little bit -- when you do that in the player's face, and especially after not winning a point after your opponent missed an easy ball, I don't think it's -- I don't think that's fair play. That's just my opinion, and that's what I, as a player, don't like to do to other players. If I'm -- if I win a point or something, I do it, but I don't go like that in your face (holds up fist). That was only -- and especially when it comes to maybe me and Ana, we are two girls from the same country, and it's nice to have a nice relationship and play a normal match. Somebody has to win, and that's normal. We're both professionals. We want to do our best on the court, and I think we should play fair. That's just my opinion. I have nothing, you know, against her or fist pumps or whatever. I play my game. I have my personality. I'm myself, and it's none of my business what Ana does or all these other girls on the court. But for me, I prefer to this kind of way like I already explained."
Sports programming has managed to avoid a lot of the pressures besetting media. Why? Because sports are "appointment viewing." Consumers want it live. No one is satisfied watching Monday Night Football on Tuesday. No one DVRs the World Cup final to watch a few days later when the kids are asleep. No one wants to watch the World Series for the first time on Hulu. To quote Veruca Salt in Willie Wonka: "I want it NOW!" When consumers are forced to wait -- or force-fed tape-delayed broadcasts -- it makes them feel like they're on the wrong side of the velvet rope, missing the party.
In a tournament that had many to choose from, one of the more surprising results: the early exit of the Bryan Brothers.
If you're ever bored, consider reading the transcripts of the journeymen players who have won a main draw match or two and are clearly experiencing one of the peak moments not of their careers, but of their lives. Makes you appreciate the sport a bit more, while underscoring just what a brutal and Darwinistic occupation this is. [Note to the French Open: if you're not going to post all the interview transcripts on your site, at least allow asapsports to take them.]
He was missing from the French Open. James Blake, however, was in the back of my cab recently plugging some sort of GPS ap. Good to know the endorsement faucet hasn't been fully tapped.
Pat McEnroe's new book, Hardcourt Confidential, co-written with Pete Bodo, is in bookstores starting June 8. Or order here.
Vis-à-vis our discussion last week, we're told that Wayne Odesnik's forfeited winnings from Houston do not revert to the tournament, but, rather, are donated to the ITF to offset the expenses of anti-doping. Fair enough. (Using this same logic, if Major League Baseball had more stringent policy in the mid/late '90s, the urine collectors would have been wearing Richard Mille watches.) . Sticking with baseball, what would Joe West say about Nadal's pace of play?
Trivia: On the day a perfect game in baseball was marred by an atrocious line call, who was in the chair for the Serena Williams-Sam Stosur match?
Speaking of officiating: a) I was told last year that Major League Baseball was "very interested" in Paul Hawkins' Hawk-eye technology. Boy, could they have used him the other night. b) while it would impede the cardio workout of the chair umpires, might it be time to install replay technology on clay?
Carolyn Brown of Conway, Arkansas: "Hey, Jon, we just returned from Roland Garros and it is disheartening to see the hundreds of empty seats on the show courts. But as you say, it is not for lack of fans. We had grounds passes and spent five straight hours on an outside court; we knew if we left, we'd never get back in as the lines at each entrance were so long. What is your solution to this problem of empty seats? This is our first Slam but we have been to a number of tournaments in the states and our favorite -- very fan friendly, all the great players up-close and personal -- is, wait for it: Cincinnati!"
New rule: You cannot agitate for a new facility until you figure out a way to fill the seats of your current facility.
Kim Clijsters will allegedly be spending time at the Jersey Shore again this summer. Encounters I would pay money to witness: Clijsters and The Situation. (Foreign readers: if you don't get this reference, consider yourself boundlessly lucky.)
Ted Robinson renewed his contract with Tennis Channel, another reason you should be subscribing.
Finally, from the shameless self promotion (but the do-right-by-the-publisher) department, Strokes of Genius, the Federer-Nadal book is now out in paperback.
SI Now Live Friday December 13, 2013
SI Now: Dule Hill talks TV, theater and his namesake Kareem Abdul-Jabbar