Federer's stunning loss could signal the end of an era; more thoughts (cont.)
A few notes and questions:
Jon, as an old umpire/referee, I was appalled to see Petra Kvitova's fist pumping and, yes, shrieking, upon her opponent Kaia Kanepi's unforced errors. Don't they have a code anymore?
-- Erik, Norcross, Ga.
What's a code? One of you noted that since ESPN developed the technology to drown out the vuvuzela cacophony in South Africa, maybe it can do the same with the grunting.
For a journalist, a communication professional, to ask readers for feedback only through Twitter is shameful. Two years from now you'll be as embarrassed as survivors of the '70s are at our polyester suits.
-- Doyle Srader, Eugene, Ore.
Disagree. It's not literature. But for events like this, I'm finding Twitter to be really helpful and fun.
What is the purpose of invitational doubles events at Grand Slams? Top players of the past play doubles on outer courts while the best players in the world try to win the tournament. Does anyone watch these matches? Does anyone care about the outcome? Wouldn't the invited players prefer to watch the main events rather than being sideshows?
-- Carlos D., Cambridge, Mass.
I think these matches are win-win-wins, as they might say at the sales team meeting. Remember: Not all fans have Centre Court tickets. With these matches, the tournament can fill some courts and some sessions. The fans can stroll by and watch Nathalie Tauziat serve to Conchita Martinez. The "legends" players make some quick and easy money, to say nothing of getting a trip to Wimbledon. What's not to like?
It seems like Roger Federer has the lowest break point conversion ratio of top 10 players. In today's Wimbledon loss to Berdych, he was 1-for-8. In his losses to Rafa, Fed always seems to get a ton of break points, yet he fails to convert them (I think he was 1-for-17 in one match). This seems more mental than anything -- his amazing talent earns him so many break point opportunities, but he plays those points far less effectively than other points. Could this be a case of Roger's "mental" getting old and worn out as happens to the knees, hips and shoulders of other tennis players as they age?
-- Leon Bynoe, Parkland
As I touched on above, my pet theory is that some of this is owed to technology. Federer uses this dinky, small-framed racket. His opponents use lighter, bigger rackets, strung with the polyester strings that all but beg you hit the hell out of the ball, all the while ensuring enough spin so it will land inside the court's parameters. Consider Federer's last three Slam losses -- Juan Martin del Potro, Soderling, Berdych -- and he's been outgunned by the uber-hitters. Federer has looked like a man bringing a knife to a gunfight. Or as my roommate Greg Couch of FanHouse put it: "It looks like Roger is playing with a wooden racket!" I tried to broach this with Federer and he was having none of it. But I still submit that technology is playing a big role here.
I saw your article about starting the GOAT discussion "when" Serena wins Wimbledon. As much as I like her, I don't think you can seriously include her YET with the likes of Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Margaret Court or Steffi Graf. She's won virtually half the tournaments and half the Grand Slams they did. Give her 3-4 more Slams and some more Tier 1 tournaments and she could ENTER the discussion, but probably still not be a threat to any of the ones mentioned above.
-- Dale Scott, Madrid, Spain
We can discuss this later at more length. But Serena is moving up in double-digit Slams. She fights like hell. She's won all four Slams. She's won in doubles. Her Slams span more than a decade. And, beyond the numbers, I'm convinced that no one has played at a higher level.
Tineke van Buul of Amstelveen, Netherlands: "Not sure what you mean by 'balkanized television coverage!' I know there always is a lot of grumbling in your column on (lack of) tennis coverage on American TV. But I am a lucky European. Eurosport International is part of my standard cable package. This supplies live coverage of most WTA tournaments, some ATP tournaments as well as countless hours from start to finish of Australian Open, Roland Garros and U.S. Open. In addition to that, I subscribe to Eurosport2 for 4 euros a month, which gives me additional coverage of aforementioned events. And I subscribe to Sport1 for another 15 euros a month. They do full coverage of all ATP Masters tournaments as well as Roland Garros and Wimbledon. These two weeks are absolute heaven, as I get tennis on Dutch, Belgian and British channels that are part of my standard cable package, in addition to coverage on five different channels of Sport1. This means I not only get singles but also doubles, mixed and juniors. Heck, I even watched the legend matches of both Martinas live last night. And they sure looked good. Not to make you green with envy, of course. Just to show you watching tennis in Europe can be quite good, as Eurosport, for instance, is also available in the Balkan states!"
Sandra Hammel of Newport, R.I.: "I started a Facebook page: RAFA NADAL -- BRING BACK LONG PANTS -- SLEEVELESS TOPS. If you start to type Rafa at Facebook -- it will be one of the options."
We love the tennis-UFC crossover. (Federer goes by way of Fedor.) With that in mind, long lost siblings goes to ... Josh Gralapp of Sunnyvale, Calif.: "Nadal and Clay Guida of UFC fame. Guida looks like Nadal if Nadal put on 30 lbs. of muscle."