Tennis Mailbag (cont.)
In reading the Steffi Graf piece, what a shame it was that she never did get around to giving back to tennis and the WTA Tour. She was, by and large, an absentee No. 1 player. And while she is respected for her many titles, she is not remembered for her contribution to the sport. Of course, it's nice that she is giving back to her adopted community in conjunction with her husband.
-- Patrick Preston, Chicago
I think you pretty well answered your own question. In retrospect, it's a shame Graf was such a cipher during her heyday. We could debate whether an "absentee" player who merely won relentlessly is really such a crime, but yes, if she'd had a bit more of, say, Andrea Petkovic's extroverted personality and PR instincts, it would have benefited the sport.
But -- largely in conjunction with her husband -- she has certainly compensated in her 30s and 40s. (See an item on Graf below.) Better late than never. She's playing in Halle next year, by the way.
I am mystified by your response to my comment about exhibitions. It is not about "denigrating" them. I frankly do not care about them. All I was saying is that travel time to South America (for instance) is exactly the same, whether you are going there to play five tough tournament matches or just one easy exhibition match. So it is very, very hard for me to take players seriously when they complain about the season being too long, when they choose to play multiple exhibitions in far-flung locales. (I am thinking of the Nadal-Djokovic match in Colombia, in between Indian Wells and Key Biscayne, as a particularly good example).
-- Gilbert Benoit , Ottawa, Ontario
OK, I think that's a fair point. Those are extreme examples, though. A lot of the exhibitions don't require nearly as much travel. Think about the home-and-home swap between Nadal and Federer. Andy Roddick playing in Omaha, Neb., or the Bahamas. Overall, I think this is like comparing a business trip to a vacation.
What in the world is going on with Maria Kirilenko? Did she recently go on a gluten-free diet or something?
-- Janet, Rockford, Ill.
Better. She learned to overcome fear and risk aversion and attack the net. There's a great story here, one worth following in 2012. Kirilenko clearly came to an irreducible conclusion. She could either be a second-tier player simply hanging from the baseline, or she could roll the proverbial dice and try -- and I know you'll pardon the pun -- a more aggressive approach.
I suffered a complete Achilles tendon tear playing tennis a few weeks ago. The recovery is surgery and six-to-nine months of rehab. Not fun when you're 56, but what choice to I have? I'm committed to playing again, whenever that will be. Was wondering: Has any pro tennis player ever suffered the same injury and rejoined the Tour? Can't think of any but NFL and pro soccer players do, one or two a year anyway. David Beckham is the most prominent player who comes to mind.
-- John Nissim, Philadelphia
Ouch. I know various players have had problems with their Achilles, including Pete Sampras. But a complete tear? That's a new one by me, at least vis-à-vis pro players. I did find this though.
Am I going crazy or have there been A LOT of 6-0 sets lately?
-- Phillip, Wollongong, Australia
My gut is that you're right. (Anne Kremer was served a double bagel the other day.) But here's the thing: We need not speculate. Thanks to the upgraded ATP and soon-to-be-upgraded WTA analytics, we'll be able to find out the empirical answer soon.
Nadal and Garcia-Lopez take the court in Shanghai to ... Panama by Van Halen.
-- Helen, Philadelphia
Close enough. They speak Spanish in Panama. Better that than Hot for (Brian) Teacher.
Glen Janney of Miami: "[Tomas] Berdych's and [Marin] Cilic's results replicate sine curves? Decades after the fact, Mrs. Brink was correct: 9th-grade analytic geometry would come in handy one day. A more humbling collection of mathematical references is found in this old chestnut."
Andy Fouche of San Jose, Calif: "I was in Las Vegas this past weekend at the Darling Tennis Center playing in a tournament when none other than Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf took center court and hit against an unknown (to me), albeit good player. Come to find out, the guy paid $20K to take a lesson from the two; the money went to Agassi's foundation. They couldn't have been more gracious, talking to fans, taking pictures, signing every last autograph. We were leaving the facility and saw two black Escalades pulling out (the tinted window, bulletproof, celebrity kind), thinking 'There they go, Andre and Steffi.' But no, the humble pair walked out together (alone) and into their normal car about five minutes later, without an entourage and back to their lives. The Escalades, we found out later, belonged to the guy who paid for the lesson. Ha!"
She also claims that HBO Real Sports is pursuing a piece on this issue.
We mentioned this the other day but fast-forward to 12:30 and check out this Federer-Nadal conspiracy theory.
Press release: "Tennis Channel and the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) have agreed to an extension [through 2023] of Wimbledon Primetime, the network's nightly program that brings its audience the day's best tennis, encore matches, original features and coverage from in and around Wimbledon Village."
Speaking of Tennis Channel, a fond farewell to Larry Meyers, one of the good guys. He's taking his talents to a regional network in Los Angeles, centered on Lakers games. But he'll sure be missed in tennis.
Even more Tennis Channel: Look for a "Tennisography" documentary on Esther Vergeer coming soon.
Petko is back. Not sure what we can add here.
So Sampras and Agassi are officially friends?
Tweeted by Steve Nash: "Dude just asked if I knew Andre Agassi coz he'd like to play tennis w him. He pauses like can u give me his#. Yea right, I'll text it to u".
From the Intercollegiate Tennis Association: "As former ITA All-Americans John Isner and Irina Falconi enjoy breakthrough seasons as professionals, college tennis is gaining momentum as a pathway to the pro Tour. In an effort to further expose fans and future players to the collegiate game, the ITA and USTA launched the 'Adopt-a-Regional' program this fall."
Have a great week, everyone!