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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 The Original French(ie) 01/05/2008 at 11:58 AM

deuce number 45867

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 11:59 AM

Rafa not going without a fight!

Posted by jb 01/05/2008 at 11:59 AM

No way - Carlitos forehand has been a weapon par excellence for years! That's just vintage Carlos we're seeing here!

Is this the longest game of the match?

Posted by Schwab 01/05/2008 at 12:00 PM

Samantha,
I have to give you my WTA top 5 for 2008 AO tomorrow at the earliest. Still digesting info from Hong Kong and Hopman Cup. However, Janky will not be in my top 5 due to the injury she suffered at HC. But things do change.

Rosangel,
Can understand the dilemma of either seeing Rafa or Andy. Believe Andy is going to hang on and win Doha.

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/05/2008 at 12:01 PM

if anyone is interested there's a DARTS CHAMPIONSHIPS after the murray match.. how lucky we are !!!

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/05/2008 at 12:01 PM

of course deuce number 45868

Posted by Schwab 01/05/2008 at 12:02 PM

Moya 5-3 set 3.

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 12:03 PM

Well, Moya holds and time is almost up for Rafa : (

Posted by Or 01/05/2008 at 12:03 PM

OMG, he saved? This thing is buffering like mad.

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/05/2008 at 12:04 PM

5-3 Rafa in deep doo doo. (why a shot with the back at the net Rafa, why?)

Posted by jb 01/05/2008 at 12:04 PM

DARTS.

yep. that's gonna hold my interest after a match like this!

Posted by jb 01/05/2008 at 12:04 PM

DARTS.

yep. that's gonna hold my interest after a match like this!

Posted by jb 01/05/2008 at 12:06 PM

sorry for the double post - distracted by crazy net play. unfreakinbelievable.

where the hail is our becks, anyhow?

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/05/2008 at 12:07 PM

4-5 now, the next ten minutes are going to kill me

Posted by Backhand blaster 01/05/2008 at 12:08 PM

Tari: Thanks for the welcome back! And I am glad you are in high spirits again!

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 12:08 PM

It's now or never for Rafa (and for Moya)

Posted by Or 01/05/2008 at 12:08 PM

Rafa bombed his second serve.

Posted by highpockets 01/05/2008 at 12:09 PM

Love these two guys ... whatever the outcome!

Posted by Rosangel 01/05/2008 at 12:12 PM

Rafa with a break point...no, another deuce.

Posted by Or 01/05/2008 at 12:12 PM

Oh, COME ON.

Posted by Novela Nadalesca/Celia 01/05/2008 at 12:12 PM

jb-how are you watching this?

Posted by jb 01/05/2008 at 12:12 PM

agreed highpockets. this is the kind of match you want on your 42" screens. great players, playing, wild crowd. tennis at its best. how could someone NOT get sucked into a match like this?

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 12:13 PM

Once again Carlos saves bp

Posted by Jenn 01/05/2008 at 12:14 PM

Celia - try www.channelsurfing.net

Posted by jb 01/05/2008 at 12:14 PM

channel surfing.net celia! get there fast...

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 12:14 PM

BP #3

Posted by abbey 01/05/2008 at 12:14 PM

i'm just laughing now.

Posted by yello fuzz 01/05/2008 at 12:14 PM

Samantha
responding to your post hours ago....the rich and famous are targets for all sorts of sleazoid money hungry predators. I'm just saying ,I don't think cocaine use is in her character, but what do I know about her character. or the circumstances of her personal life.
I thought the Capriati comparison was a good one. Young, rich , female with lots of spare time and probably wanting to get out on her own ,away from parents(coaches). take a look at Patty S. coach/husband/outtacontrolnutcase, these young, rich charismatic women attract Svengali types.Controlling creepazoids counting on comatose cuties
Who really knows what happened to Martina?we certainly won't get the whole story from the media. either she made a career ending mistake or was a victim of circumstance

Posted by Or 01/05/2008 at 12:15 PM

I can't watch this.

If this was Roger in that match, I would have been dead.

Posted by highpockets 01/05/2008 at 12:16 PM

These two are going to love sitting in their rocking chairs in Mallorca one day remembering this match.

Posted by Rosangel 01/05/2008 at 12:16 PM

These guys have both won 126 points just now - Rafa with a third break point...no, yet another deuce.And no a 4th break point - yes! Rafa has broken Moya.

Posted by Novela Nadalesca/Celia 01/05/2008 at 12:16 PM

5 all!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 12:17 PM

YES YES YES YES!!!!

Posted by Or 01/05/2008 at 12:17 PM

BAAAAAA.

Posted by jb 01/05/2008 at 12:18 PM

i cannot believe this match! kingandre must be just dying!

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/05/2008 at 12:18 PM

5-5 mamma mia, o dio mio, jesus marie joseph........

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/05/2008 at 12:19 PM

meanwhile somewhere in doha.....

Posted by Schwab 01/05/2008 at 12:20 PM

Jb,
Kingandre is not dying. He is probably elated thinking that this could be the best match of the entire 2008 sesaon when the season is over and done.

Posted by Or 01/05/2008 at 12:20 PM

Murray and Wawi are on their 1000 deuce, Wawi wants that second set.

Posted by abbey 01/05/2008 at 12:21 PM

oh, jb, you're right. how lucky is he.

Posted by Rosangel 01/05/2008 at 12:21 PM

OK, Rafa holds.

Wawrinka has a set point.

Posted by Jenn 01/05/2008 at 12:21 PM

OK, I'm at work now. When I left off to take a shower and then drive to work, it was 0-3 in the second set tiebreak and I thought it was over (I had to go either way). Can't believe what I am seeing. Is a best of 3 match on HC really almost 4 hours old? Carlos is definitely doing an Agassi impression here. He is a tennis senior citizen for crying out loud!!

Posted by .com 01/05/2008 at 12:21 PM

This is the kind of matches legends are made of...

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 12:22 PM

Third set TB anyone?

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/05/2008 at 12:22 PM

how come I didn't notice carlos's mega bombastic forehand before?? where was it, where was I?

Posted by Snoo Foo 01/05/2008 at 12:22 PM

ufb! best match of the year! jejeje

Posted by Novela Nadalesca/Celia 01/05/2008 at 12:22 PM

OMG! This is the first time I've used channelsurfing.net and it's unbelievable! It comes in crystal clear! I thought that it would be all scrambled and hard to make out who is who, but it's not!
6-5 Rafa!!!!!!!!

Posted by highpockets 01/05/2008 at 12:23 PM

I wish they'd grab this somehow and replay it on TTC ... it's just so good for tennis ... the crowd, the players, the announcers ... everything!

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/05/2008 at 12:23 PM

6-5 for Rafa, SWEEEEET !

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 12:24 PM

Carlos still very much in this. Top notch tennis!

Posted by abbey 01/05/2008 at 12:24 PM

moya's gf looks a bit like keira knightley.

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/05/2008 at 12:24 PM

hei highpockets : congrats for your award!!!

Posted by jb 01/05/2008 at 12:25 PM

too true schwab.... he can totally hold it over us the rest of the year. watercooler conversation - 'well, when i was at that Carlos / Rafa match... "

Man - these fans are so lucky to be there right now.

and stan just broke andy - they're going 3!

man its a great day for tennis!

Posted by Rosangel 01/05/2008 at 12:25 PM

And we're heading into the third and final tiebreak.

Of course.

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/05/2008 at 12:25 PM

abbey: you're plagiarizing me!

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 12:26 PM

This match can only end in a final set tie break. Vamos Rafa!!!

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/05/2008 at 12:27 PM

o dear tb number 3, how often does a match like that happen?

Posted by jb 01/05/2008 at 12:27 PM

sigh. and carlos couldn't have held that easily the LAST game... no. needed a tie break.

Posted by Jenn 01/05/2008 at 12:27 PM

Abbey - Keira only if she got a major boob job.

Posted by Or 01/05/2008 at 12:28 PM

Oh, boy. I fear this is it. How utterly painful for Moya, 0:3 down in the breaker.

Posted by Novela Nadalesca/Celia 01/05/2008 at 12:29 PM

Tiebreak! rafa 2-0

Posted by abbey 01/05/2008 at 12:29 PM

oops, i didn't see your earlier post, frenchie. :)

Posted by Rosangel 01/05/2008 at 12:30 PM

Rafa at 4-0 and serving -

Posted by Novela Nadalesca/Celia 01/05/2008 at 12:30 PM

Now 4-0!!!!!!!!

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 12:30 PM

That little girl cracks me up : )

Posted by Rosangel 01/05/2008 at 12:31 PM

Now 5-1 - and Murray just broke Stan at the start of the third set.

Posted by Novela Nadalesca/Celia 01/05/2008 at 12:31 PM

5-0!!!!!!!!

Posted by Schwab 01/05/2008 at 12:31 PM

Murray 1-0, set 3 and serving at 30-love.

Posted by Rosangel 01/05/2008 at 12:32 PM

Rafa at 6-1 - five match points. And serving.

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 12:32 PM

A classic grueling four hour affair ; )

Vamos Rafa!!!

I just hope he's got something left for Misha, but hey, he's a young guy.

Posted by Rosangel 01/05/2008 at 12:33 PM

All over - Vamos Rafa! Three hours, 54 minutes and 32 seconds.

Posted by Or 01/05/2008 at 12:33 PM

Bummer.

Moya deserved this match SO much. 5 MP, BP gone.

Posted by Novela Nadalesca/Celia 01/05/2008 at 12:34 PM

Rafa wins!!!!!!

Posted by jb 01/05/2008 at 12:35 PM

unbelievable. Great match by Rafa - commentators are correct - heartbreaking for Carlitos.

*Nudges the kiera-look-alike out of the way to comfort Carlos*

Congrats to the Rafa Kads!

Despite the loss - I'm hearing the rhumba line music starting to tune up.

Posted by abbey 01/05/2008 at 12:35 PM

such a seesaw battle. great match to start the year. vamos, rafa!

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/05/2008 at 12:36 PM

he's done it: sublime tennis along the way. ihhhhaaaaaaaaaa

Rafa v Misha tomorrow

Posted by jb 01/05/2008 at 12:36 PM

Now to check out the andy / stan match properly! andy up a break...

Posted by Jenn 01/05/2008 at 12:36 PM

I do NOT believe my eyes that Rafa was 2/17 on break points. Truly pitiful! But other than that issue, what an absolutely incredible effort, by both of those guys.

Vamos!!! And this bodes very well for what we will see from Carlos in 08. Maybe he can make another run in Oz.

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 12:37 PM

Tough loss for Moya, but boy did he put Nadal through the wringer!

Posted by Rosangel 01/05/2008 at 12:38 PM

He will NOT want to lose to Youzhny if he can help it -

Oh, and the video catches up and shows the heartfelt greetings at the net.

Posted by Schwab 01/05/2008 at 12:39 PM

We are only in week 1 but there are some interesting developments:
(1) Rafa/Carlos in Chennai
(2) USA/Serbia decided in mixed doubles for Hopman Cup title
(3) LD wins 54th career tournament at Auckland
(4) Li Na comes back from injury to win Gold Coast
(5) Doha final will be decided in 3 sets

Posted by creig bryan 01/05/2008 at 12:39 PM

Thanks, everyone, for the match call(s). Tough match, but I'm happy to see Rafael pull through. As someone said earlier, they'll be recounting this one, years from now. Just not in rocking chairs.

SO predicts Uncle Tony will retire and hand over the reins to Moya in a few years; Moya, the future coach of Nadal?

Keep Smiling

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/05/2008 at 12:43 PM

ahhh abbey just joking of course :)

Posted by jbradhunter 01/05/2008 at 12:43 PM

I have to read upthread- but I just saw the Rafa/Moya scores... hee hee-- yowza! Well, they both certainly got some match play practice in going to AO

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 12:44 PM

Rafa hitting balls into the crowd with a cricket bat : )

Posted by jbradhunter 01/05/2008 at 12:46 PM

please tell me the video stream I can watch for tomorrow's Final

Posted by Novela Nadalesca/Celia 01/05/2008 at 12:46 PM

Does anyone know why Moya was holding up that trophy(I presume that's what it was)? I missed that part.

Posted by abbey 01/05/2008 at 12:47 PM

of course, frenchie :)

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 12:47 PM

"SO predicts Uncle Tony will retire and hand over the reins to Moya in a few years; Moya, the future coach of Nadal?"

How awesome would that be? I hope Rafa takes a few things away from playing Moya and uses them against other opponests on hardcourt ; )

Posted by Papo 01/05/2008 at 12:49 PM

I believe Moya got an award for supporting the Chennai Open for so many years.

Posted by Snoo Foo 01/05/2008 at 12:49 PM

He won the Vijay Amritraj Sportsmanship Award, or something. I confess, there was a tear or two shed chez foo. And whoo whoo, a cricket shoutout!

Posted by jbradhunter 01/05/2008 at 12:52 PM

okay- i've officially added channelsurfing.net to my favorites... I couldn't remember the name the other day and couldn't find a stream I was looking for

Posted by Snoo Foo 01/05/2008 at 12:52 PM

GOOD Sportsmanship, is what I meant, if that wasn't clear... not just for being a sportsman. Awww but yeah I think the, um, secret message was Chennai hearts Carlitos, big time.

Posted by jb 01/05/2008 at 12:53 PM

oh man = i missed that! i thought they were switching to darts.. I beleive they just flove carlos there - particularly after he won and gave his winnings to tsunami relief. He's SUCH a good egg, being hott hott hott is just a very nice bonus.

I do love that his was the first match I saw at the open last year!

jbrad - channelsurfing.net had the match - i would expect they'd have the final tomorrow. sigh.

Posted by beth 01/05/2008 at 12:54 PM

brilliant idea about Moya coaching Rafa in a few years
He definitely could bring some hard court pointers to the table
( not to mention rival Coach McSteamy as the hottest in the coaches box )

So in handing out the Chennai sportsmanship award - are they implying that Moya is not coming back there anymore -

Posted by Novela Nadalesca/Celia 01/05/2008 at 12:55 PM

Hey-channelsurfing.net is free, right?

Posted by jbradhunter 01/05/2008 at 12:57 PM

Rosangel- how did you divide your attention for Rafa and Murray- both playing at the same time? cosmic chaos/bliss of some sort

Posted by Schwab 01/05/2008 at 12:59 PM

Murray just put away with a nice volley at the net. 4-2 Andy

Posted by jbradhunter 01/05/2008 at 01:01 PM

sometimes Andy just gets creative point construction right2(squared)
he's outfoxing 'Baba'Wawa

Posted by jbradhunter 01/05/2008 at 01:03 PM

oh good- channelsurfing-eurosport will have Sydney coverage

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