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Martina and The Snowballs (Watercooler) 01/04/2008 - 1:10 PM

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Housekeeping note: Make sure you tune in tomorrow morning for an important, happy announcement that is sure to bring a smile to many of your faces! - Pete

As most of you already know, the ITF independent Anti-Doping Tribunal handed down its decision in the case against Martina Hingis yesterday. The Tribunal categorically rejected Hingis's appeal. Hingis, the 3,456th consecutive athlete who, after testing positive, vociferously denied the charge and proclaimed her innocence, has been suspended for two years - which has become a moot point given that Hingis also announced her retirement shortly after the original doping charge was made public.

I urge you to read the entire report of the Tribunal. I found that some parts of it read like the script of a Monty Python movie. There's this whole thing about the doping control officer being "Mr Snowball" (his wife, Mrs. Snowball, was the one who actually supervised the urine-sample delivery process). And how about that bit (paragraph 36) about how Mr. Snowball thought it "strange" when the Firekitten gave Mrs. Bosanquet a kiss. Anyway. . .

I'd be the last person to advocate lynching people who have used or even just tried cocaine (among other things it would make me a horrible hypocrite, wink-wink), but the recreational drug is a prohibited substance and, at the end of the day, either you have rules or you don't. (Excuse me, I need to run to the men's for a moment!). Many people will think it a shame that this positive drug test will become part of the Hingis legacy, but something that came up while Pete Sampras and I were working on his book has led me to re-consider that (Back in a sec, where the hail is that danged Kleenex?).

You may remember that Petr Korda won the 1998 Australian Open (it was his only Grand Slam singles title, and in winning it he prevented Marcelo Rios from taking one) and rose as high as No. 2 in the world rankings.  Months thereafter, after a drug test administered at Wimbledon, he became the first high-profile tennis player busted under doping rules that finally acquired teeth when tennis became an Olympic sport again (in order to be an Olympic sport, tennis must embrace the stringent drug-testing policies of the International Olympic Committee). Korda tested positive for nandrolone, which is to dopers what a Big Mac is to fans of fast food. Banned for a year, Korda (like Hingis) basically said "To hail with it", and left the tour.Korda

Now here's the funny part. In 1997, Korda hung a surprising loss on Sampras at the US Open of 1997. This was one of the strangest matches in Pete's career, and it played out under ugly conditions, including at least one rain delay. Korda hung in there to win the match in a fifth-set tiebreaker - it was one of the few times in Pete's career that he had a match under control and let a guy come back to win. But in light of the Korda bust of a few months later, its perfectly acceptable to speculate on what role doping might have played in that win by Korda. After all, one of the things doping can increase your strength and stamina - two critical areas for the human pencil,  Korda.

Pete will re-visit this issue in his book, and it wouldn't be right of me to publish his thoughts here. But here are mine:  Korda was a player who gave Pete fits on more than one occasion. The guy was a brilliant shotmaker who seemed to play his best when he had nothing to lose. He was also a weird dude - he defaulted from the US Open after beating Pete that year, on the grounds that he was "sick" (it was an incident reminiscent of the Gasquet default at the US Open; in fact, there are a number of similarities between Korda and Gasquet). Still, if you connect the dots, even Korda's upset of Sampras is tainted.

The funny thing, now, is that nobody made that big a deal out of the Korda suspension and fine back when it happened. And while Korda lost all his appeals and had to return over half-a-million dollars in prize-money, it's fair to ask if that was sufficient punishment for a guy who won over $10 million in his career - plus earned hefty sums in appearance feels, exhibitions and endorsement fees.

I'm not sure that's sufficient punishment, and it isn't because of how I feel about Petr Korda. It's because how I feel about Marcelo Rios.

Rios was denied his one and only major, and it may have been because his opponent had the benefit of doping. I wonder how Rios felt after Wimbledon in '98, seeing that the guy who beat him in Melbourne had been found guilty of doping. I think that the ITF should have stripped Korda of his Australian Open title and awarded it to Rios.

Of course, the ITF has no such protocol in place. So I would suggest that the ITF adopt a policy of awarding all the matches won by a convicted doper for a specific interval (three months? six months? a year?). I mean, dopers presumably benefit from their illicit actions, at least in some cases (nandrolone, as opposed to cocaine) for some time before they're busted. So why not let the record show that?

Here's something else to consider, if you don't think that a doper here or a doper there can really influence the game very much. The record that may very well be the foundation of Pete Sampras's legacy is his six consecutive years as the year-end No. 1 player. Pete sealed that record in 1999, tying Jimmy Connors in '98. Guess who was really pushing him, near the end of the year, and threatening to actually make Pete have to play him in the year-end championships in order to secure the top spot?

Correctamundo. Marcelo Rios.

Now, imagine if Rios had the added benefit of winner's ranking points at the Australian Open. That could have given him enough of a cushion to finish as the year-end No. 1, with a major to boot. This become critically important because Rios pulled out of some events at the end of the year, which helped enable Sampras to catch and surpass him in the rankings.

Personally, I'm not sure you could re-adjust things like ranking points in order to mete out justice to dopers. That gets awfully complicated. And who knows what Sampras himself would have done, if Rios had won in Melbourne? You certainly can't take Pete's No. 1 ranking away, because Korda was a doper and you had to make restitution to Rios.

To me, the key thing is the titles anyway. So I would urge the ITF and other Lords of Tennis to agree that in addition to the usual punishment,  dopers be stripped of any victories or titles they won for a specified time before their positive test. Give the Ws, if not the ranking points, to the guys they beat. In my mind, Rios is the 1998 Australian Open champion and Petr Korda is the doper who never won a major legitimately.

This rant began as a speculation on Hingis's legacy, so let's bring it full circle. Korda, who to my mind committed a far worse offense than Hingis, is happily playing on the senior tour, acknowledged as a Grand Slam champ, and (presumably) livin' large. Even Pete Sampras bears him no ill will, which speaks well for Sampras. I've always felt that it's much easier to forgive than to forget, but in tennis, people seem to forget with equal facility.


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Posted by Flyer 01/05/2008 at 09:31 AM

Two great points from Moya - now just ONE more - come on

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/05/2008 at 09:32 AM

5-5 obviously carlos thought otherwise...

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 09:32 AM

Moya playing as well as I've ever seen him play!

Posted by Flyer 01/05/2008 at 09:33 AM

Seems Nadal's serving is still improving.

Posted by Siggy 01/05/2008 at 09:34 AM

Tari, it's your birthday? Have a fabulously happy one! Is it too early to uncork bubbly?

Siggy, clinking a glass of mimosa with Tari!! ;)

Posted by Backhand blaster 01/05/2008 at 09:35 AM

To the often made point that people are innocent until proven guilty...Not on the ATP or WTA tour. The players all agree to the rules of the tour before they start playing on the tour. The tour has a drug testing policy that attempts to keep the sport free of drug use. Players are assumed innocent until they fail a drug test, then the burden of proof falls on them as to whether they are indeed innocent. It seems fair to me that a player should be responsible for what is in their own system/bodies. But if proof can be made they unwillingly ingested something illegal, or if the testing itself was improper or inaccurate, then hearings should be held, as I think they are. Where's the beef?

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/05/2008 at 09:35 AM

TOP_SPIN_TOP_SPIN_TOP_SPIN

Posted by Schwab 01/05/2008 at 09:35 AM

Happy Birthday, Tari :)

Posted by Flyer 01/05/2008 at 09:36 AM

What a lovely lob from Moya - with his nice touch at the net - he's developed into a very interesting player

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/05/2008 at 09:36 AM

a lob from hell: carlos "on fire"

Posted by Or 01/05/2008 at 09:38 AM

The year of Lord Moya continues?

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/05/2008 at 09:38 AM

ihhhhhhhha 6-5 for Rafa.

That was so close I'd never thought he'd pull it off (and I almost never think that of Rafa, so it's how good carlos is)

Posted by Jamaican Girl 01/05/2008 at 09:39 AM

well said Backhand blaster well said

Posted by Flyer 01/05/2008 at 09:40 AM

Moya - come on - need to put a sharper angle on your volleys - keep it AWAY from your opponent

Now hold - let's get this to a TB

Posted by Tari 01/05/2008 at 09:41 AM

Oh, gosh...thanks everyone, for the birthday wishes! Sweet!

On the drug testing conversation, I don't really think people here that are saying that testing may not be 100% accurate are calling anyone dumb...they're simply asking - is there room for doubt? Is it possible to test positive and be innocent? That's all, and nothing more. And anyway, it was a very interesting conversation...no need for anyone to be offended. :)

Posted by Flyer 01/05/2008 at 09:42 AM

Whew - great set so far.

TB TB TB

Posted by Samantha 01/05/2008 at 09:42 AM

Here's my ranking for the potential winners of the AO. 1. Justine 2.Serena (she has won it so many times) 3. Venus(playing exceptionally well) 4. Jankovic (If she can over come her injury.) The odds makers have placed Justine first then Sharapova. I disagree with the odds makers on their second choice, Sharapova. I think both Williamses are superior players, their first serve and returns are better. In her last 4 matches with them, they have beat her in two easy straight sets. ie, Serena AO and Miami, Venus straight easy sets at Wimbledon and yesterday. My hope is that both Williamses will land on the opposite side of Justine's draw.

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/05/2008 at 09:42 AM

6-6.tiebreak.

Posted by Tari 01/05/2008 at 09:42 AM

Of course it is not too early for a mimosa, Siggy! There is OJ in it, after all! *clink*

Hey, nice to see you back, Backhand blaster. :)

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 09:45 AM

Moya totally closing off the net! Great tennis!

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/05/2008 at 09:45 AM

it's an understatement to say that moya is on fire. He's playing perfect tennis, actually he's out-nadaling nadal in the power department..

Posted by Jamaican Girl 01/05/2008 at 09:46 AM

Rafa had 4 chances to break and got non and now Moya has a mini break in the TB.

Vamos Rafa get moving!!!!1

Posted by Or 01/05/2008 at 09:46 AM

Carlos with the minibreak...

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/05/2008 at 09:47 AM

I am not happy with the way things are going at the moment.

Posted by Flyer 01/05/2008 at 09:47 AM

Glad I didn't go food shoping this AM - very exciting match.

Posted by Flyer 01/05/2008 at 09:51 AM

ONE more point Moya me bucko....

ONE MORE....

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/05/2008 at 09:53 AM

since when can carlos unleash so much power? I'm impressed 7-6.

RAFA DO SOMETHING!

Posted by Flyer 01/05/2008 at 09:53 AM

Now the dreaded sit down bw sets - hope Moya doesn't cool off too much - would like him to still play at such a high level in the 2nd....

Posted by Backhand blaster 01/05/2008 at 09:57 AM

Rosangel way back when in this post, makes the point that authority should not always be listened to, or should be challenged more...something like that. Which is good and right I suppose...but those who suggest that the ATP or WTA is out to get their players, or will stand by bad testing in order to cover their own a--, doesn't remember well where all this drug testing came from in the first place. It wasn't so long ago that the athletes themselves were shouting from the mountaintops FOR testing. Athletes outside the then Soviet Bloc bitterly complained about cheating that now is known to have occurred by most notably the East German and Russian athletes. The skewed results of Olympic competition are minor in comparison to the life altering and shortening effects the drugs left on the athletes but many athletes are still bitter and feel cheated of Olympic glory. 1972 American gold medal marathon champion and running legend Frank Shorter is one example. He still is legally wrangling to get the 1976 gold medal for the marathon where he took silver behind an East German competitor now known to be a steroid user.

Posted by highpockets 01/05/2008 at 09:57 AM

Good morning (rubs eyes). I see the Mallorcans are gladiating.

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/05/2008 at 09:59 AM

I'm really not up for a Rafa breakdown, really.

Posted by Or 01/05/2008 at 10:00 AM

When was the last time Carlos beat Rafa?

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 10:00 AM

Rafa's been cruising through this tournament so far. Let's see if he can pass his first real test. Vamos Rafa!!!

Posted by jb 01/05/2008 at 10:02 AM

oh crap - i just got up and it sounds like i've missed a great match so far.

and the YEAR OF CARLOS rolls on - correction - The SATURNIAN Year of Carlos!

Did Carlos just slice a backhand? Gawd, does Rafa have one of the best freakin' backhands in the business? Man - he does such damage with it!

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 10:03 AM

Rafa's backhand keeps improving also.

Posted by Backhand blaster 01/05/2008 at 10:03 AM

Thank you Jamaica Girl. I thought your earlier posts were also on the money when you and Samantha were being badly out numbered on this issue.

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/05/2008 at 10:04 AM

1-1, ok now I see how it works, I praise= next shot is a miss, I lament= next shot is bombastic.

Posted by Jenn 01/05/2008 at 10:05 AM

Good morning, everyone, and Happy Birthday, Tari!

This match is being played at an incredibly high level so far. This doesn't seem like a match taking place on January 5 to me. Not much rust, particularly from Carlos!

I think this will go 3, but I cannot predict the winner.

The Indian crowd is loving this, and for good reason.

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 10:06 AM

Carlos is cruising through his service games! Rafa WAKE UP!!!

Posted by jb 01/05/2008 at 10:07 AM

lol ToF - you mean you're in charge of Rafa's destiny!?

Posted by Backhand blaster 01/05/2008 at 10:08 AM

Where is everyone viewing the match? On the internet? Not on TTC or ESPN...

Posted by Or 01/05/2008 at 10:08 AM

Pity this isn't the final, Youz had an easy match vs cilic, while Moya should be tired if he get past Rafa, and Rafa vs. Youz - well, we know their H2h.

If Moya wins - I'd like him to win the whole thing.

Posted by Or 01/05/2008 at 10:09 AM

I'm watching it here.

http://www.bhejafry.net/tvshows/watchlivetv.php?l=31

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/05/2008 at 10:09 AM

there's a new post from Pete about a great TW tribe announcement...

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 10:09 AM

0-30! Carlos can win this in straight sets if Rafa doesn't watch out!

Posted by jb 01/05/2008 at 10:10 AM

Hey - Lindsay won her first title of the year! Yeahhhh Lindsay!

sorry - just catching up... back to the match.

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/05/2008 at 10:11 AM

jb: oui! Call me the puppetmaster from now on...

Posted by Jenn 01/05/2008 at 10:11 AM

WOW... that was a great point at 30-30. Both guys are playing far behind the baseline at times, but hitting some incredible shots.

Posted by Flyer 01/05/2008 at 10:13 AM

Would love to see Moya win this - but will be extremely difficult for him to keep this play up all match - particularly if it goes 3.

Now just hold your games Mr. M.

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 10:13 AM

That was dangerous, but Rafa hung in there! Still no break points for Carlos. Lets see if Moya can hang. Vamos Rafa!!!

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/05/2008 at 10:14 AM

2-2. It's supreme fitness from the guys. In such heat for 90 minutes now (or so) they've been battling with such intensity and they're still not looking tired. It can go on for hours.

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 10:14 AM

Kingandre is actually at the tournament. What a treat for him!

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 10:17 AM

What an incredible rally! Deuce

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 10:18 AM

Well, it's break point for Rafa!

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 10:18 AM

Darn it! Rafa hits long : (

Posted by jb 01/05/2008 at 10:19 AM

I was wondering if he was there Papo - what a great match for him to be at!

These guys are just playing phenominal tennis - the crowd is just going WILD! this much just be such fun for them to play - THIS is what its about for them. THe crowds going nuts, locked in an amazing battle.

Vamos!

Posted by Jenn 01/05/2008 at 10:19 AM

OK, it seems Rafa's painful break point playing seems to have carried over from 2007. 0-5 now. That last point he seemed over anxious.

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 10:19 AM

Rafa has another bp. Vamos Rafa!

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 10:20 AM

FINALLY!!!

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 10:21 AM

FINALLY!!! Rafa with the break!

Posted by abbey 01/05/2008 at 10:22 AM

see how it goes, when you play aggressive, rafa? he got too defensive in the latter part of the 1st set.

Posted by Jenn 01/05/2008 at 10:22 AM

Rafa benefited from Carlos just missing that shot on BP. Maybe this will finally cool Moya off just a bit. Great match.

Posted by Samantha 01/05/2008 at 10:22 AM

Patrick, if you're out there, I'm just curious to get your 5 pick in order for the AO. Thanks.

Posted by Or 01/05/2008 at 10:22 AM

LOL, now I got Andy/Wawi on Eurosport in a few moments...

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 10:23 AM

Murray vs Wawrinka is about to get going on Eurosport. What a day of tennis!

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 10:25 AM

Rafa just blasting balls by Carlos now!

Posted by highpockets 01/05/2008 at 10:26 AM

Happy Birthday, Tari ... great match.

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 10:27 AM

I can't believe Rafa ran that down!

Posted by jb 01/05/2008 at 10:27 AM

Thanks for the heads up Papo! dueling tennis - mhm - I may have to see if I can get my work laptop fired up too!

ack - Carlitos starting to mishit...

C'mon Carlitos!

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 10:28 AM

Another bp for Rafa! Vamos!

Posted by Snoo Foo 01/05/2008 at 10:28 AM

Wow and here I was thinking the "happy announcement" was gonna be squabby's 08 GS picks.

Posted by vanfan 01/05/2008 at 10:29 AM

Happy Birthday Tari!

Go Carlos!

Posted by Flyer 01/05/2008 at 10:29 AM

Moya showing signs of fatigue

Posted by Flyer 01/05/2008 at 10:30 AM

Is there any link to the Murray match??

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 10:30 AM

Carlos still playing top class tennis. He holds.

Posted by Backhand blaster 01/05/2008 at 10:30 AM

Concerning the media condemning the players before they get a fair hearing...I was amazed during the Korda drug scandal, and at the same time when Mark Mcguire(I remember vaguely the two events were happening at the exact same time)was breaking Roger Maris's single season home run record...how EASY the media was on the players in both Tennis and Baseball. Only a few years before, Ben Johnson was almost crucified for testing guilty in the Seoul Olympics in 1988 after "winning" the men's 100 meter sprint. At the same time the competitors who previously had drawn no quarter on "cheaters" suddenly seamed willing to let the process run it's course. Korda played without consternation from his peers for several months while the process played out. And even now, as P. Bodo points out, he plays on the senior tour as if he were a respected former grand slam champ. While Federer and Ljubicic did mildly criticize Canas, he too has been largely welcomed back by players, fans and media. Something has changed, maybe it is for the better, but I don't know why. If someone who I was competing for my livelihood against was cheating, I would call him on it. Wouldn't you?

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/05/2008 at 10:31 AM

I'm stuck in a quandary: Rafa-Moya or the final in doha?

Posted by 01/05/2008 at 10:31 AM

GRGGS@))*

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 10:31 AM

Flyer, go the Eurosport website and look at the free live streaming links.

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/05/2008 at 10:33 AM

flyer : try the eurosport.com web site

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 10:33 AM

Rafa won the rally but Carlos played incredible defense.

Posted by jb 01/05/2008 at 10:33 AM

lol - 'morning Snoo!

I'm all sorts of happy now - sun is streaming in onto my couch, not 1 but 2 tennis matches on my computer, pepsi in the fridge - life is just all good!

Posted by Rosangel 01/05/2008 at 10:33 AM

Flyer - try Eurosport for the Murray match
http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/tennis/

This is the UK link, but there are international links also.

Posted by jb 01/05/2008 at 10:34 AM

ToF - do you have to choose? I have them both up on my screen...

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 10:35 AM

Carlos is reinventing himself as a net rusher.

Posted by 01/05/2008 at 10:36 AM

Or: Thank you, now I'm enjoying the match also!

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/05/2008 at 10:39 AM

jb: no not really, it's just that I can't adjust the eurosport window it's too big so I'll have to exit to see Chennai and then come back which is going to be tiresome....not to mention that one is on explorer and the other one firefox...

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 10:39 AM

Come on Rafa! Serve it out already!

Murray breaks Wawrinka to start out their match

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 10:41 AM

Carlos with his first break points.

Posted by Jenn 01/05/2008 at 10:41 AM

I just lost my channelsurfing feed at 5-4, 0-30. arrghhhhhh. update, anyone?

Posted by Andrew Miller 01/05/2008 at 10:41 AM

I have a question! Has slowing down tennis courts helped the WTA Tour? There has been a lot of talk that it has been a huge boost to Federer's capabilities, keeping him in points when perhaps he should not be. Is the same true for the womens game

Posted by Or 01/05/2008 at 10:43 AM

Carlos with the break back!

Stan down a break - but has his own two BP.

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 10:43 AM

Carlos means to win this in straight sets. Vamos Rafa! You can do it!

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/05/2008 at 10:43 AM

5-5 moya:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 10:44 AM

Stanislas breaks right back! 1-1

Posted by Rosangel 01/05/2008 at 10:45 AM

Rafa with two break points - the scoreboard is ahead of the video...

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/05/2008 at 10:45 AM

the match in chennai: it's like a concert, the crowd is screaming like crazy for rock star Moya!

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 10:45 AM

Rafa with two break points. Vamos!

Posted by jb 01/05/2008 at 10:46 AM

Papo - I think its more than just moya. serve n volley is dead, baeline is 'in'. but then everyone plays a killer baseline game and the players adjust, they start coming in.

THe players are always looking for the advantage over the other guy - and the ability to come to net and put away points effectively gives them the edge. and so more and more players are adding that to their arsenal.

gawd, this match is a cracker! stan and murray still getting over their starting yips,

Posted by Or 01/05/2008 at 10:46 AM

Well, Carlos needs to hold here, and his backhand is inches out and it's two BP for Rafa.

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