Tennis Mailbag (cont.)
I recall watching either the 1994 or 1995 Pete Sampras-Jim Courier match at the Australian Open and the commentators mentioned the Courier camp trying to get detailed breakdowns on Pete's serving placements. Could you ask Courier about this and get his thoughts on what data would be helpful for players to have? It seems like he was a pioneer in seeking this data so his perspective could be valuable.
-- Dan Martin, Burlington, Ky.
Here's the Davis Cup captain:
"Data I am interested in: first- and second-serve location on pressure points (30-all and above). Return-of-serve targeting on pressure points (where the receiver hits returns, and second-serve info is more useful as a player has a choice vs. first-serve info when a player reacts and is typically forced into a response). Passing shot locations. Volley locations. Rally combinations and patterns (how someone tries to maneuver into an advantageous position). Aggression response locations (where Rafa hits his backhand if you go big inside-in, as an example). There's plenty to see here in this area if you have access to the info. Tennis Australia has been doing good work on this front and the USTA is hard-charging with it as well."
Dude!!! Who said anything about playing Philly BETWEEN Roland Garros and Wimbledon??!!? They just played grass-court tennis in Newport. Why not shuttle down to Philly after that? Why not extend the grass-court season AFTER Wimbledon?
-- Helen, Philadelphia
Dudette!!!! The main reason to extend the grass-court season is to space out the Roland Garros-Wimbledon stretch and give players more than two weeks to get acclimated to those green blades underfoot. Otherwise, we're just adding events to an already-overcrowded schedule. (Helen suggested that two Philadelphia-area clubs would be able to accommodate a grass-court tournament.)
Speaking of, last month I had the good fortune of hitting some balls at Queen's Club, the site of the Wimbledon tuneup AEGON event. I was really impressed with the place. It's quaint without being stuffy, dignified without being pretentious. But the notion that they hold a top-flight ATP event on the grounds is hard to conceive.
Since we're piling on about women's tennis, what are your thoughts about the constant fist-pumping toward the player's box, particularly after "big" points such as 15-15 in the second game of the match?
-- Frank, Galisteo, N.M.
I'm not sure we can divide that by gender. Plenty of men stare at their entourages as well. I hate the message that projects, though. If I'm playing an opponent who's constantly riveting her gaze at her "team," I'm thinking, Here's a player who's not so self-confident and can't think for herself. I'm thinking the same thing when I see them calling for the farce that is mid-match coaching.
Amelie Mauresmo is only 32. With her one-handed backhand, sweet personality and athletic gifts, wouldn't it be fantastic if she made a comeback?
-- Joe Johnson, Allentown, Pa.
Add this: Here's her 2010 New York marathon time. Think she's stayed in shape?
The problem is that tennis is as much a mental/emotional/neurological pursuit as it is a physical pursuit. Mauresmo was never a mental giant, even in her prime. She had trouble closing matches and was prone to burnout. Could she come back for an event? Yes. Could she do the job day-in, day-out, traveling the circuit, grinding out practices and sparring sessions? Less likely.
This week's anti-grunting screed comes from Jeff, of Phnom Penh, Cambodia:
"In my younger days, when I was serious about physical fitness, I had a few sessions with a personal trainer. I suppose I was trying to impress him by emitting a King Kong roar on each rep. When I finished the set, he asked, 'What's with the noise?' He pointed out that grunting/shrieking requires physical energy. Rather than waste energy wailing like a banshee, I should be using that energy on the exercise itself. With that in mind, how much energy do the WTA shriekers waste in the course of a match on the pointless, ridiculous vocalizations? Has a shrieker ever won a major? (I think Maria Sharapova's caterwauling has gotten steadily worse over the years.) Not only is it horrendous to listen to and ruining the image of the sport, it's bad form from a purely physical standpoint. Someone needs to tell the shriekers that they need to concentrate more on tennis and less on assaulting the ears of the fans."
Here comes Elena Dementieva on her wedding day.
Buffalo Sabres fans might know him by another name, but here's Mr.Dementieva.
Suresh of Someone Inadvertently Deleted Hometown: "For all those who think [Roger Federer] should retire. Here is a quick set of links to the best match of the year. See the shot making and I dare anybody should talk about retirement."
Another rap song with a tennis player being mentioned in the lyrics. (Warning: explicit lyrics.)
Tara B. of Bethesda, Md.: "Here's a short profile on the winner of Andy Roddick's Fourth of July hot dog eating contest -- Davis Cup practice partner and NCAA champ Steve Johnson!"
I wrote recently that Fabio Fognini wasn't in the Wimbledon draw. Here's Stephanie Myles of Montreal: "Hey, Jon, Fognini did indeed enter Wimbledon. He practiced at Aorangi on Sunday, looked to me to be in pretty good spirits. But about 45 minutes before he was to play Milos Raonic on Court 14 Monday, [Fognini withdrew and] there was a call out from the referee's office to lucky loser Marc Gicquel. Raonic had to make a quick adjustment to a totally different opponent."
Anonymous of Richmond, Va.: "I guess it takes someone with a chronic disease to point out how insulting the coverage of Nadal's injury was. Commentators claimed it helped him remove the pressure of competing, that he was overly sensitive to pain, and that he used his injury to engage in gamesmanship. But Nadal's problems are not the sort of so-called niggling injuries that players carry around; rather, they are well-documented chronic conditions that could be a problem for him long after tennis. Many people with chronic diseases are accused (even by well-meaning people) of somehow using the disease as a crutch. But on the contrary, we have to work twice as hard as anyone else when we're healthy, because we never know when the hammer might fall. Nadal's sensitivity to pain is not something he needs to 'get over.' It's a well-honed survival mechanism that helps him be alert to when his condition is changing or worsening."
Matt Scherer of Wilmington, Del.: "Don't know if this video has been linked here before, but maybe Alex Bogomolov wouldn't have had to give up a tenth of his winnings for this move at Wimbledon if he'd simply watched this video before his match."
Mike Reed of New Kensington, Pa.: "Jon, it's nice to know that the Steelers' Brett Keisel has a compadre in George Bastl!"
Have a good week, everyone!