How come Kevin Anderson gets mentioned for reaching the quarterfinals, but the winners of the women's doubles never make it in? A one-sentence mention would be nice.
--Yvonne, New York
You got it. (We'll go all caps to compensate for tardiness) Your Sony Ericsson Open ladies' doubles winners: AGGIE RADWANSKA and DANIELA HANTUCHOVA!!!
We need a hypothetical tennis equivalent of Butler reaching the NCAA finals two straight years. My son suggested Fabio Fognini making the French Open singles final two consecutive years while doing nothing particularly notable in between. Perhaps mailbag readers would like to join in. Cheers.
--Ian Katz, Herndon, Va.
Nothing notable? They're the kings of the Horizon League! Seriously, Butler is a top-30 or top-40 program. Fognini is way too obscure. I'm thinking it's Ernests Gulbis or Juan Monaco reaching back--to-back French Open finals. (Then, of course, Monaco double-faults three times per game in the final.)
In response to a question about active players who are HOF-worthy, you wrote "JMDP isn't there yet, but is well on his way." Were you kidding? I really like Del Potro, but "well on his way"? He beat Federer in one U.S. Open, that frankly, Fed should have won had he not gotten overconfident and a bit nonchalant. Juan Martin has done nothing else that would get one thinking about an induction ceremony. Dustin Pedroia has done more in baseball, but ask a baseball expert if Pedey is "well on his way." Come on, Jon, induction has become pretty pedestrian as it is. Let's not make it a complete trifle.
--Marty Friedgood, Atlanta
Again -- and I can't stress this enough -- we're talking about precedent. We laugh at the notion of Dustin Pedroia getting into Cooperstown. Why? Because he doesn't come to meeting the established benchmarks. Well, what are tennis' benchmarks? One Slam (check); a run at the top is helpful, but not necessary; a pleasant disposition (check). JMDP is a 22-year-old who's won a major, been ranked as high as No. 4, reached the semis of Paris and beaten both Federer and Nadal multiple times.
Here's a question: is the toothpaste out of the tube, the precedent irreversible? Or is there a way to grandfather in a few players and say, "Look, we're losing credibility here. We need to restore some dignity and up our standards to a minimum, of say, four Slams before you're on the ballot?" How would we feel if a few years went by without any inductions? And how would we feel when Roddick or Sharapova or Safin were excluded knowing that Michael Chang, Pam Shriver, Novotna, Sabatini, et al., were allowed inside the velvet ropes?
It seems that Sharapova's lack of mental toughness is evident in her recent losses -- the most recent beatdown now at the hands of Azarenka (and not as close as the 6-1, 6-4 scoreline suggests). Sharapova seems to be finished as a Grand Slam contender, but can we at least expect her to make second-week runs at the majors?
--Gaurang Abhiman, Chicago
Five points on Sharapova:
1) She probably has mid-eight figures banked. She's engaged. She has other interests. She has three Slams to her name already. I credit her with grinding it out, still possessing the motivation and will to climb back up the ladder.
2) She's in the top 10 and, if you check out the points, is a likely top five member by Wimbledon.
3) Until she repairs her serve, it's hard to see her winning seven straight matches. When the serve goes, so much else -- not least your confidence during points -- goes with it.
4) Canon may have whiffed with "Image is Everything." But Sharapova's catchphrase, "Make every shot a power shot," is, sadly, accurate. I can't recall a top player who plays with such little nuance.
5) A few of you have mentioned this but I can't find it anywhere. Apparently Bill Simmons has quite a funny riff about Sharapova's intended, Sasha Vujacic. Can someone fill us in? Sound promising.
Could we get a report from Greg Sharko on what the injury situation is for Paul-Henri Mathieu as he's been AWOL for a while?
--JT, New York City
He underwent left knee surgery early March and has to follow some intensive rehab which he will do in the South of France (according to his Facebook). He will be out 3 to 6 months, L'Equipe said.
There has been much debate on Twitter among tennis journalists whether or not bloggers should be credentialed for tournaments. I use the term blogger generally because there are some tennis journalists who do write blogs. Also there are some journalists who use information from blogs to write their stories. Where do you stand on this issue? (I don't know whether you should use my real name or not as I might get stoned by both journalists and bloggers.)
--Anonymous, New York/New Jersey
I don't envy the credentialing gatekeepers on this issue. Tennis in particular -- as we'd expect from a scattered, global sport -- has a huge online presence and following. Excluding bloggers and even full-time tweeters would be a fool's errand. Yet if everyone with a blog were granted a credential, media rooms would need to be the size of the Palace of Versailles. A blanket policy won't work. You simply need to assess on a case-by-case basis. The saving grace: it's pretty easy to discern which bloggers are legit and have a critical mass of followers -- and which don't.
Two American tennis legends will renew their long-time tennis rivalry this summer, when Hall of Famers John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors square off in a World TeamTennis match on July 14 at SPORTIME Randall's Island.
Behind the scenes at a tennis photo shoot.
I'm thinking Liezel Huber committed the crime. (Note the author name.)
An update on Kei Nishikori's efforts to continue to raise money for the victims in Japan. There are now seven pages of products including items from Nadal, Federer, Serena, Sharapova, Zvonareva, McEnroe, Jankovic, Murray, Date, Del Potro, Wickmayer, etc. All the proceeds will go to the Red Cross.
A longtime reader writes:
Better late than never, several comments on Indian Wells.
1) The first Wednesday of the tournament (opening day for women, last day of qualifiers for men) is INCREDIBLE. Very small, mellow crowd. Easy access to good seats with a loge-level ticket. No major lines for concessions.
2) The practice courts were just as good as the matches. The intensity of some of the practice matches was incredible. The proximity to the players was almost overwhelming.
3) Particularly fan-friendly players encountered: Svetana Pironkova (who went out of her way to track down a pen in order to sign an autograph for a younger fan), Bethanie Mattek, Mark Knowles, the Italian women's players in general.
4) Saw Victoria Azerenka verbally berate her male hitting partner ... guess it isn't just the ball kids who catch her wrath.
The ITF announced that it is increasing its live online coverage of ties in the 2011 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas. The World Group II playoffs have been added to the list of ties that will feature on the official Fed Cup website, FedCup.com and FedCup.com/es on April 16-17.
On Vitas in the Hall of Fame, Bret Corbridge of Orem, Utah, says: "YES! Not just for on-court tennis (which should arguably get him there anyway), but for his post-playing days of staying connected to the sport and giving back thru his charity and TV work. I believe that his persona (playing and analyzing) elevated tennis awareness. YES! OK, I know emotion is involved with my feelings, but I do believe he should be there. I did get to see the Tennis Channel special about him. I'm 50-plus and have been a tennis fan for 35 years. I remember Vitas. Tennis was obviously less televised, but if Vitas was on ... I was all over it. YES! That era kinda reminds me of a modern day "Rat Pack" of tennis ... Vitas, Jimmy, Bjorn, Mac, Mary (add in the Gretzky connection too) ... I'll let you decide who gets to be Sinatra, Martin, Davis ... YES! Vitas had a great line after finally beating Jimmy ... to adapt that line ... 'No one excludes Vitas from the HOF for 25 years!' Not sure what the real years is, I took a guess ... but, YES!"
The USTA announced today that tickets for the 2011 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Quarterfinal between the United States and Spain to be played at the Frank Erwin Center on The University of Texas campus in Austin, Texas, July 8-10, will go on sale to the general public on Friday, April 8, at 10 a.m. CDT. An exclusive pre-sale for USTA members begins on Tuesday, April 5, at 10 a.m. CDT and ends on Wednesday, April 6 (or while supplies last). Tickets are sold as a three-day series with prices ranging from $90 to $500. Tickets can be purchased by calling (888) 484-8782 (USTA) or online by visiting texasboxoffice.com.
Emmy of New York, N.Y.: "I actually volunteer at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. I also work at the U.S. Open and have been since 1979! I started at the HOF in 1995 -- a year after Vitas's untimely death. I too was shocked to learn that he has not been inducted into the HOF. I could not believe it. I attended his first tennis clinic in Central Park -- Borg was there. I think it was 1980. He was the first to comprehensively and selflessly give back. Not only does he have one Slam, but he was in the U.S. Open final against John in 1979 and had that epic match against Borg at the Big W in 1977. My sister was in the same group as Ruta at Port Washington and I would often sit with their dad at the garden during the Masters. He never sat in box seats. I loved his family. I was so sad when Vitas died. What a tragedy. He had a great career ahead of him as a commentator. I will most definitely fill out a nomination ballot for induction. Thank you very much."
John Albin of New York: "Of course Vitas Gerulaitis should be in the Hall of Fame, but first he has to be rejected in 17 consecutive votes. Nobody rejects Vitas Gerulaitis from the Hall of Fame 18 times in a row!"
Thanks to Allen Yap of Redondo Beach, Calif., who generated this Babelfish translation of the Patty Schnyder saga.
Have a great week everyone!
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