Posted: Wed June 27, 2012 4:03PM; Updated: Thu June 28, 2012 7:27AM
Jon Wertheim
Jon Wertheim>TENNIS MAILBAG

Federer still favorite to finally get a win at Wimbledon, more mail

Story Highlights

Roger Federer isn't the safe pick to win Wimbledon; where's the fun in safe picks?

Martin Verkerk, Iva Majoli lead list of biggest flukes to reach Grand Slam finals

Better nicknames for The Big Three, Bryan Brothers on the podcast, more mailbag

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Roger Federer
Roger Federer is the overwhelming favorite to win 2012 Wimbledon.
JONATHAN BRADY/EPA

Full disclosure: I'm in an undisclosed location that ain't Wimbledon. But a) I can be located via a grunt-o-meter, b) I'll be back at Wimbledon for the Olympics and c) we had lots of questions this week, so let's do a quick mailbag:

Jon, really -- Roger as your pick? You have gone with a sentimental favorite! Using your analogy of stocks; buy, hold or sell, Roger is still a hold and not a buy. He has not made a Wimbledon final since 2009. The last 2 slams he has been blown away by Nadal and Novak. Their stock has outperformed Roger's by a big margin.
-- Raj, Bridgewater, N.J.

• I'm enjoying -- and now shamelessly plugging --Frank Deford's new book Over Time. And I will quote this line: "Like most sportswriters and, for that matter, like most other people, few of us ever predict sports correctly. It isn't even worth the effort, and you shouldn't pay attention to what anyone predicts, but everybody keeps trying and many people take it seriously."

Damn if he isn't right on all counts. I wrote a column this week about Penn State and child sex scandals, yet the majority of my weekly ration of hate mail pertained to shortchanging Flavia Pennetta's chances at Wimbledon, overhyping Milos Raonic, disrespecting Djokovic, etc.

Federer is my pick because he is my pick. For one, like all investments you can get burned chasing returns. As the disclaimer goes: "Past performance doesn't guarantee future results." Federer hasn't won a major in 30 months, he lost in the Halle tune-up, he is in his 30s, etc. In counterpoint, he is Roger Federer. And there is grass underfoot. And he gets a day off between matches. And five sets to overcome lapses. And we're not talking about investment for the kids' college fund here; part of making picks is to have some fun and where's the fun of putting your money on the Google that is Djokovic and the Goldman Sachs that is Nadal?

It is one thing to know who you think will win Wimbledon. But who, in your heart, do you hope wins the tourney?
-- Joe Johnson, Easton, Penn.

• I was pondering a long answer about the importance of objective journalists and media members rooting "for the story" (i.e. Roger Federer re-entering the winners' circle) and not for specific players. But tonight, I am rooting for Sania Mirza. This letter is so tremendous on so many levels. One only wonders: do the Indian men -- starting with you, Leander Paes -- realize how microscopically small Mirza has made them all look?

Did you really say "comporting herself like a champion". Sharapova screaming like she is being attacked by jack the ripper is not COMPORTING HERSELF LIKE A CHAMPION. I guess we watched a different match.
-- Sharon, San Francisco

• A cacophonous champion. But a champion nonetheless. And while we've all misfired on imagery from time-to-time, I'm thinking references to women being attacked by a serial killer might smudge the line of good taste.

Jon, I played tennis in college, and on one of our road trips we began discussing who we thought was the worst male player to reach a Grand Slam final in recent memory (for the sake of this question, let's say 25 years). I decided on Martin Verkerk, who's unlikely run to the 2003 French Open seemed a bit oafish. In your opinion, who do you think is the worst male player to reach a slam final in recent memory?
-- Martin Crockett, Nashville, TN

• I guess Chris Lewis falls outside the 25-year mark. Martin Verkerk, the 2003 French Open runner-up, probably comes next. But I was at that event and, I'm telling you, for six rounds Verkerk played lights-out tennis. He never replicated those results in the future. But for twelve days, it was (cliché alert) lighting in a bottle. Speaking of the French Open in the mid-90s, a shout-out to Mariano Puerta, whom Nadal beat for his first title in 2005. There was little in his past to predict that run. Others? Rainer Schuettler makes the list. Arnaud Clement probably does too.

Ironically, for as often as we talk about parity in the women's game, there seem to be fewer of these total outsiders. Even Sara Errani, to use a recent example, wasn't so crazy. She was a seeded player who had won multiple tune-ups. Iva Majoli, winner of the 1997 French Open is hailed as an all-time fluke. She was seeded ninth, a quarterfinalist the past two years. When, say, Heather Watson reaches the Wimbledon final, we can revisit.

Mr. Wertheim, unshakable moral judgments of human behaviour to me already are a pretty big challenge, which very rarely can be mastered by a reflective mind; however moral judgments of a human being as a whole are inevitably sure to fail because of the dependably insurmountable complexity of their subject. I therefore politely ask you to prove this thesis wrong or kindly refrain from the latter.
-- Martin Ditz, Cologne

• As long as there are no further questions: sure.

The Big Three? Ah, Jon, you disappoint me. It was a lame nickname when applied to the Celtics and just plain lazy with the Heat. I would expect something more erudite from you and your readers. Unfortunately, tennis doesn't lend itself to puns on the number three. We aren't talking about the three best players in the world, we're talking about three of the GOAT. How about the Trinity? (The Holy Trinity is a bit too grandiose. The same with The Three Kings.) I like The Podium, since it has a vaguely Gods-of-Olympus ring to it. The three best athletes get to stand on the podium. Maybe a bit esoteric... Does it have to be English? How about El Trio Grande, which alludes to the Grand Slams? But then you would have to deal with the inevitable criticism that it shows favoritism to the Spanish member of the three. The Triad brings to mind a 40-40 score (ad), so it's vaguely tennis-y. The Three Goats would be fun but most wouldn't "get" it. I know these are all weak. Surely one of your readers can do better.
-- Jeff, Baltimore

• Immodesty aside, I always liked "trivalry." The gloaming trilight? The trifecta? The modern Major gentlemen? The triplex? The troika? The triumvirate? The triptych? "The threesome" sounds rather lurid. (If they shared an agent would he be "manager a trois"?) I don't disagree that the Big Three demeans us all. I'm open to suggestion, folks....

Jon, I am a great fan of your columns! I have mailed you my comments/questions on numerous occasions but never made the cut. Just wondering: on a weekly basis how many total emails do you get from which you pick the ones for your column? 1,000? 10,000? I had like to know the odds I am facing :)
-- HG, Herndon, Virg.

• Let the record reflect, HG of Herndon, Virg. has now made the cut.

SHOTS, MISCELLANY

• If you missed it, the inimitable Bryan Brothers, Mike and Bob, stopped by for a chat about Wimbledon, dirty diapers, and the controversial Leander Paes.

• Speaking of the Brothers, they support Citi Every Step of the Way to raise awareness and funds for the National Recreation and Parks Association's Tennis in the Parks initiative. (To invoke Latin, this is what's known as quid pro quo.)

• Interested in some work by the artist/poet/writer/musician/sire of a Metallica drummer and Wimbledon quarterfinalist, Torben Ulrich? acophony for 8 Players has this Kickstarter project you can support.

• Who read this piece on Murray/Lendl?

• Glenn Benson of Fair Oaks, Calif.: I have played and watched tennis all my life ... even attended a Wimbledon once seeing Everett, Billie, Court and Yvonne in the semi's. For me there is NO controversy over grunting because that, plus watching two women hit from the baseline while doing it, has put me off completely and just no longer watch it. Turn on an old Martina vs. Chrissie match for the alternative some time. I am sure I am not alone and the geniuses who run their tourneys should commission a study to find out just how much they have turned off their viewing public and then decide if they want to continue down that road.

• Bernie Nissen, Hong Kong: interesting views from Rusedski.

• Here's a Martina Navratilova interview.

• The new ATP Player Council, selected by ATP player members, was announced at the pre-Wimbledon player meeting this evening. The new ATP Player Council includes returning players Roger Federer, Jarkko Nieminen, Eric Butorac and Andre Sa (served 2002-2004), as well as a number of new faces, elected for a two-year term to represent the ATP player membership.

• Members elected by their peers to serve on the ATP Player Council through June 2014 are:

1-50 Singles: Kevin Anderson, Roger Federer, Jarkko Nieminen, Gilles Simon
51-100 Singles: Robin Haase, Sergiy Stakhovsky
1-100 Doubles: Mahesh Bhupathi, Eric Butorac
At-Large: James Cerretani, Andre Sa
Alumni: Brian Gottfried
Coach: Claudio Pistolesi (also served 2010-'12)

• Ted Ying of Laurel, MD: It's sad to see a picture of Jamie Murray high-fiving his partner, Eric Buturac during their first round match at Wimbledon and then to see the caption say "Andy Murray..." It's even worse when this is on the Wimbledon web site as a featured photo from day 1 of the Championships. One would think that Wimbledon would at least know probably the second-best local chance for a news-worthy result.

• The good folks in Memphis would like you to know: There have been reports in the public domain that we want to address so you know we are committed to keeping professional tennis in Memphis. Recently, there became an opportunity for the ATP and WTA to make some moves among several global venues, including Memphis. The result is that ATP professional tennis will continue to be played in Memphis in 2013 and beyond. The WTA professional tournament will be played in Memphis in 2013 then will relocate to South America beginning in 2014.

ATP Tour President, Mark Young, had this to say about Memphis and professional tennis: "For the past 38 years Memphis has been an important tournament on the ATP World Tour. In fact, nine players who have ranked number one in the history of the South African Airways ATP Rankings have included the Memphis title on their resume. We are pleased that Memphis will continue to be part of the exciting story of men's professional tennis in the U.S. and look forward to many more years of ATP World Tour tennis at the Racquet Club of Memphis."

• Press release: The Women's Tennis Association (WTA), announced the signing of Chinese clothing brand Erke as official partner and supplier of sports apparel for all on-court officials at the 2012 and 2013 editions of the prestigious TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships in Istanbul, Turkey.

• Pittsburgh tennis fans -- take note.

• Sonal of Mumbai, India: Here's another fun three letter match combo from the first round Mikhail Youzhny vs. Donald Young match: YOU-YOU!!!

• Dayasagar of Bangalore, India: Hi Jon! I just found the similarity between Anil Kumble and Nicholas Almagro quite striking!

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