It's time for our seventh annual Baggie Awards. Or is it the sixth annual? We'll check with Wimbledon chair umpire Ted Watts and get back to you. In any case, it is time to recognize the best and bizarrest from tennis in 2004. When the ATP and WTA brain trusts come to their senses and hold a joint year-end event, maybe we'll have an actual Baggie Awards ceremony. Until then, the virtual trophies go to ... (envelopes, please) ...
MVP (men) Not even close. Roger Federer (right) wonthree majors, a Masters Cup title, titles on every surface, undefeated record in finals. The abiding question for 2005: Can anyone challenge this guy?
MVP (women) Smashing those "next Anna" comparisons, Maria Sharapova announced her arrival by winning Wimbledon, then by staring down Serena Williams to win the WTA Championships.
Match of the Year (men) Australian Open semis, Marat Safin versus Andre Agassi. Safin isn't known for mental toughness, but in a high-stakes match against the defending champ the Russian showed poise to equal his shotmaking, winning 7--6, 7--6, 5--7, 1--6, 6--3.
Match of the Year (women) Wimbledon semis, Serena Williams versus Am�lie Mauresmo. Beating Mauresmo in a tight match is ordinarily no distinguishing feat. But this classic--which Williams won 6--7, 7--5, 6--4--was as much about Serena's grace under pressure as Mauresmo's iffy nerves.
Best Exchange (women) Question from a journalist to Mauresmo at the Italian Open: "Who are you in love with now?" Answer: "I'm really in love with an Italian journalist."
Best Exchange Not Involving Andy Roddick (men) Question from a reporter to Andre Agassi at the Nasdaq 100 in Miami: "Andre, do losses like today make you rethink your future on tour?" Answer: "No, but questions like that do."
Now for some of the more peculiar stories of 2004:
He was suspended for the next six days. Or, as he likes to call it, a week Wimbledon ump Watts inadvertently awarded Croatia's Karolina Sprem an extra point in a tiebreaker. Amazingly, Sprem and Venus Williams played on without protest.
Ewe are the weakest link A celebrity entrant on The Weakest Link, Roddick was asked to name a female sheep that sounds like a letter of the alphabet. His answer: "baa."