Post-U.S. Open mail (cont.)
Lindsay Davenport > Clijsters > Maria Sharapova > Jennifer Capriati. Agree?
-- Philip Villaseran, Manila, Philippines
These questions only make you enemies. This is a pretty good belly-up-to-the-bar discussion. Among the following three-Slam winners, whom to do you like best? I could see Clijsters getting knocked for only having won one of the majors three times. But I think Philip's equation stands up pretty well.
This year's Grand Slam season brought a reversal to the typical argument regarding the head-to-head record between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Rafa's winning record was typically attributed to the fact that they would always meet in the finals of tournaments on clay, his favored surface, but couldn't hold up his end of the deal on hard courts, losing in the semis or earlier. However, at the final three Slams of the year, it was Roger who faltered, leaving Rafa to face other foes instead. Your thoughts?
-- Yosh, Chicago
Let's table this. Whenever Nadal loses early (see: Cincinnati) the Federerphiles use it as evidence that the head-to-head record is misleading. When Federer loses before the appointed time (see: U.S. Open) the Rafael-ites fire back. Here's my take: Does the head-to-head ledger cut against Federer's primacy? Absolutely. Does it preclude our considering him the best ever? No. Is there value in considering how Nadal and Federer fare when they face off? Yes. Can this data be manipulated? Yes. Is it a way to assess their relative strengths? Yes. Is it dispositive? No.
Nice to see the low-profile folks like Dominika Cibulkova, Kaia Kanepi and Mikhail Youzhny make a solid run at the U.S. Open. I was amazed at how every commentator (in the U.S.) seemed to underrate Youzhny even as he kept blasting opponents off the court. He's probably got the best one-handed backhand in the men's game today, right?
Jason Willey, San Francisco, Calif.
In part because of the scheduling, in part because he lost the "other" semifinal, Youzhny didn't get enough credit this event. An awfully nice on his part. As for one-handed backhands, he's up there. I'd include Richard Gasquet (strictly on aesthetics), Stanislas Wawrinka and, of course, Federer as well.
I bought box-seat tickets at Arthur Ashe Stadium for the day sessions on Monday, Friday and Sunday of the first week and for Labor Day Monday. I saw 12 matches (eight women's singles and four men's singles), all of which were straight-set wins. Perhaps two of them were somewhat competitive. I understand that for the most part there is a need for the "big names" to play there. But would it be so bad to throw in a couple of exciting matchups as well?
-- Guy Leeser, Irvington, N.Y.
To borrow from Pat McEnroe, "I couldn't disagree more." I think your mistake was the box tickets. The beauty of the early rounds of a Slam: you get to watch the "big names" wax some qualifier. Not usually gripping drama, but you can cross it off your bucket list. Then you can mosey the grounds and find two lesser players locked in five sets. So long as TV is calling the shots, you're not going to see, say, Michael Llodra and Tommy Robredo on Ashe. My suggestion: Once you've seen Sharapova or whoever dominate a set, head to the grandstand or an outer court and find a more competitive match.
Re: your answer to Deb of Arlington Heights, Ill., on Sept. 8 about the history of naming a tennis stadium after Louis Armstrong, you forgot the explanation I sent in last year which you so kindly published in your column.
-- Rebecca S., New York
Sure, thanks again.
I found another double-standard Easter egg. Pam Shriver says to Rafael Nadal while he's changing his shirt after the match Tuesday night, "don't be in such a hurry to put on your sweatshirt!" It was funny, and I loved it. But would a male interviewer get away with a similar comment (not about putting on a shirt obviously) to an ogle-worthy female player? I think not!
-- Dennis Moran, California
I couldn't believe Pam said that. Then I found the video, and, sure enough you're right. But it came across as playful, not offensive. Context. I hear what you're saying about the double standard, but I don't think it's a symmetrical comparison. Different power dynamic and all.
What's with the rebranding of Brad Gilbert to "B.G.?" Every time they say it on ESPN, I feel like Barry Gibb is going to start singing "Staying Alive."
-- Jackie, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Let's cut to the chase here: Brad Gilbert is a bottomless source of comedy, some of intentional, some of it un-.
Andrew of New York: "Jon, 'Sure it might have been easier if one guy was from Wichita and the other from Charlotte.' Maybe it might be easier for people "IN" Wichita or Charlotte to relate to finalists from closer to home, but let me tell you about who actually attended this match. On the train out to the stadium, a group of stylish, but semi-rowdy, Spanish-speakers got on the train. I thought "I know who they're rooting for." Only half way through the ride did I notice that one of them was wearing a Federer jacket. Then, another mentioned he was glad rain had given Djokovic the extra day's rest. In the stadium, to my left were two guys that I'm going to guess were of Iranian heritage. They were rooting for Djokovic. After my wife left during the rain, her seat was taken by a woman of Indian heritage, also rooting for Djokovic. Behind me were two middle-aged, nondescript, "white guys," also rooting for Djokovic. And, there was a family of Nadal loyalists of South American (not Spanish) heritage. It was wonderful to hear them -- in between screams of encouragement to Rafa -- clap equally for both players. The point is two-fold: (1) The U.S. tennis marketing machine should embrace, not bemoan, both the stable of international star players, as well as a fan base that may be far more diverse than they realize. And (2) the enthusiasm for Djokovic in the stadium was deeper-rooted than you infer. It was clear to me that a huge number of fans (shockingly, maybe even a majority) brought that preference with them to the stadium. It was not simply an impromptu show of enthusiasm for an underdog.
The ATP and FedEx have signed a three-year agreement that brings FedEx on board as a new global platinum sponsor and official carrier of the ATP World Tour. The sponsorship will launch at the 2010 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in November and extend through 2013.
Martin Burkey of Huntsville, Ala.: Thanks for the link to the Carillo interview. She's not only the best announcer in tennis, she may be the best in televised sports. If you don't pay close attention to every word she says, you've inevitably missed something good. I name no names, but she's so good she's made a couple of the male tennis commentators more tolerable.
As many of you note, surely this was the only time a player (Clijsters) won a major and DROPPED two slots in the rankings!
Justin DePietropaolo of Chester Springs, Pa., with an unsolicited limerick:
There once was a player named Murray,
Who never seemed really to worry.
For his final exam,
He must win a slam.
But in hell, it's more likely to flurry.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum has announced the election of 11 new members to the Board of Directors. The new directors were all elected at the Hall of Fame's Annual Meeting in New York. The new directors are John P. Arnhold of New York; Mark D. Ein of Washington, D.C.; Renée A.R. Evangelista of Lincoln, R.I.; James (Jim) L. Farley of Cincinnati, Ohio; Philip H. Geier, Jr. of New York; Madam Sun Jinfang of China; Katherine Burton Jones of Newton, Mass.; Geoff Pollard AM of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; Will Prest of Minneapolis; Michelle Sicard of New York; and Ken Solomon of New York. Additionally, George Gowen, who served as General Counsel for the Hall of Fame for the past 30 years, has been recognized as a Hall of Fame Life Trustee. Gowen is a partner at the firm of Dunnington, Bartholow & Miller in New York.
Rustam Tahir of Rochester, N.Y.: Perhaps you and your readers might be interested in a U.S. Open photo gallery.
Wozniacki fans, check out the forthcoming book "Én bold ad gangen" by Anders Haahr Rasmussen. If we make enough noise, maybe it will get translated to English.
ESPN, Inc. and Tennis Australia have reached a new 10-year extension through 2021 of ESPN's multimedia coverage of the Australian Open. Having televised the Australian Open -- including the women's and men's semifinals and finals exclusively -- since 1984, this is ESPN's longest uninterrupted professional sports programming relationship.
Tennis Channel chronicles the renovation of Centennial Tennis Center in Nashville, Tenn., on its new program, Community Surface, which premiered Monday.
Heartfelt thanks to everyone who assisted with the "title search" for the sports-freakonomics book. Alas, we had to reject "Johan Kriek-anomics" and went with "Scorecasting." You guys were were immensely helpful.
Jessica Luther of Austin, Texas: I have look-a-likes. John McEnroe and the lead singer of the band Lifehouse, Jason Wade. I'm not sure if these pics show it the best, but when I saw the latest Lifehouse video, the ONLY thing I could think was that Wade looked like McEnroe.
Love to stay and chat more, but whoa, 10:15 football time! Have a good week, everyone!
Swim Daily, Throwback Thursday: Jessica White
SI Now: Houston must slow down LaMarcus Aldridge