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No Shirt, No Shoes, No Serve 11/12/2008 - 5:41 PM

By Pete Bodo

Once again, the Tennis Masters Cup promised to deliver high drama (who can forget those Terracota Warrior sculptures!) and yet again it descended to low comedy (rumor has it that Salvador Dali has been commissioned to do melting tennis players for 2009).

Radek But nothing in recent memory seems quite as bizarre as the way Radek Stepanek showed up in Shanghai, with no socks, rackets, or contact lenses, and made a pretty decent run at Roger Federer. Should Stepanek have won that match (and he very easily might have, given that a stomach bug laid The Mighty Fed low for the entire day before their match), he still would have been able to qualify for the knock-out round. And were he to survive to win the final - which is by no means an implausible scenario - the champion of the official year-end championships featuring the ATP's notional creme de la creme would have been the player ranked no. 27 in the world.

Clearly, the ATP never bothered to ask itself:  Gee, what's the worst thing that can happen?

Some of you may wonder how Stepanek (instead of, say, Tommy Robredo, or Mikhail Youzhny) ended up high-steppin' around the Qi Zhong arena in Shanghai, wearing Andy Murray's socks and swinging Novak Djokovic's racket, and my inquiries came up with a simple answer: When Andy Roddick served notice that he might not be able to compete, the ATP went down the rankings list (in descending order) to discover who might be willing or able to play. The roulette wheel finally stopped on no. 27, Stepanek, who happened to be vacationing in Thailand. Just think, if they'd gone a little deeper, Marat Safin could be in the YEC!

Why did Stepanek say "yes" when so many more qualified men had said "no"? I assume Stepanek's reasoning went something like this: Man, I'm lovin' life on the beach, but I've got a chance to win the fifth most important tournament of the year (without even having to fill out the entry form, or practice!), burn my way into the history books, and earn enough cash to raise even Martina Hingis's eyebrows, so it might be a good idea to set aside the flip-flops and catch the first plane out.

An alternate automatically gets a $50,000 appearance fee, half of the $100,000 guarantee that the eight qualifiers get in the form of a "participation fee." Then, each match win in the round robin is worth another 100k. I don't know what the loser in a round robin gets, but according to the Associated Press, the worst case scenario for Stepanek would be mailing in two losses and still walking away with a $70,000 payday. That will get you quite a few tropical drinks in Thailand, even those expensive ones with hunks of fruit hanging off the edge of the glass and a parasol stuck into the middle.

Of course, it isn't about the money, and we don't like to talk about the money. But talking about the title seems even more, well, absurd, under these circumstances, no matter how much any of us would like to see Radek introduce the Chinese to "the worm" in the post-final trophy presentation ceremony. We now know that it won't happen, but it does raise a legitimate question: should an alternate who begins play after the man he's replacing has played a match, or part of a match, be eligible to win the whole shootin' match?

I could answer "yes" to that if this were a regular tournament; after all, one day a Lucky Loser may win Wimbledon. But the YEC is reserved for the top players in an annual points race; if you didn't earn enough points to get in, should you be entitled to play at the high stakes table?

The way this has played out raises serious doubts in my mind, by maybe I should just chill and resist the opportunity to jump up on a high horse. Strange things happen, and we all know that perfect is the enemy of the good - although it's always tempting to fling out your chest and criticize the good.  And if you think about the round robin system, you can see why the ATP and the tournament promoters use alternates to more-or-less operate as a tag team in group play. In a round robin play, losing a guy from either of the two groups can take all the air out of the competition.

But introducing alternates raises other, thorny qualification issues: should a win by a contender over an alternate who has no chance to advance to the semifinals count for the same in the standings as a result produced by two men who had qualified? Is an alternate really playing on a level-playing field when he has only two chances (or matches) by which to advance? It's worth noting that an alternate doesn't inherit a scratched competitor's record. Imagine if he did, and Andy Roddick had won his first match, banking one in the win column for Stepanek. It could be really ugly, instead of semi-ugly.

With all that in mind, I have a theory about how Stepanek ended up in Shanghai sans half his clothes (his own exhibitionism aside) and all of his gear: The ATP higher-ups contacted the Chinese government and said, When that guy's stuff comes off the plane, I want y'all to hold it - and remember, he's blind as bat so make sure you hold the contact lenses! But Stepanek was able to get new lenses in time for his match. As he told reporters, "Otherwise, I wouldn't see you now."

Hmmmmm. . .

Now here's the funny part. Stepanek's next match is meaningless as far as his own chances to advance go. He can't qualify. But he can sure screw things up for the guy he's playing, Gilles Simon - another guy who came in as an alternate (replacing Rafael Nadal), after making a heroic effort to qualify in the late stages of the season. Simon can, theoretically, still nudge Federer out of the no. 2 slot in the Red Group (in which only Andy Murray is undefeated, and likely to emerge as a top seed in a semi), but he'll have no chance if he loses to Stepanek. You can expect Stepanek to come out swinging from the heels, partly because, it seems to me, he has a special talent for ruining someone else's day. I feel a little guilty putting it that way, though, because the official version from his own lips was: “I’m going to every match to win. . . I'm enjoying my time a lot here. You know, for me it was always a dream to play in the Masters Cup because you’re in the elite eight best players in the world."

Tmf Well, sort of. . . But then, it's not as if any of these byzantine narratives in what ought to be a pretty straightforward clash of titans is a novelty. Some of you will remember 2005, when Nadal, Andre Agassi, Marat Safin (Hang on Marat, maybe Jo Willy will pull out next!) and Lleyton Hewitt withdrew from the event, and Roddick lurched out with a bad back - all of which left Roger Federer as the only Top 5 player to finish the tournament.

So there's a good chance that Federer will be the last man standing, although he may be doubled over - you know, those stomach cramps are a bear. It's ironic, to say the least, given how TMF started the year feeling the effects of mononucleosis, spent the summer battling a bad case of Nadalitis, and forgot to bring his Tums to Shanghai.

But TMF, you know, is TMF, and he has this funny way of being in the mix even when he's not - or shouldn't be. Like yesterday, when he limped into battle only to find that his opponent has misplaced his own weapons. I can imagine that Cheshire cat grin on TMF's face as he told the press,  “And then Radek is not playing with his own rackets, so that made it a little bit more lucky again. I hope with a day of recovery, I’ll make a miracle happen here and get through into the semis."

Miracle, schmiracle. If you ask me, this is business as usual for a guy who's not only a superb competitor but blessed with survival skills that even God's dog, the coyote, would envy. Was it a slip of the tongue, or a malapropism that rings with truth that transcends logic when Stepanek said of Federer. "I know he lost more matches (this year) than he usually does, but that doesn't mean that he's beatable."

I don't want to sound morbid here, but I can see that being engraved, one day in the distant future, on Federer's headstone.


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Posted by Master Ace 11/12/2008 at 05:53 PM

I believe when Radek play Gilles on Friday. he will have his full attire. But, when an alternate plays, it does change the dynamics of the round robin.

Posted by Tehvu 11/12/2008 at 05:54 PM

and yet again it descended to low comedy (rumor has it that Salvador Dali has been commissioned to do melting tennis players for 2009).

I hope you aren't serious. Salvador Dali has passed on quite some time ago.

dare i say, first?

Posted by guidoliciouss 11/12/2008 at 06:03 PM

first

Posted by Andrew 11/12/2008 at 06:04 PM

Um, Pete, interesting stuff - but I think you're worng on the "theoretical" side to Simon's qualification.

basically, by losing as an alternate, Stepanek's toast. And if Federer loses, it doesn't matter if Simon only has the one win - because that win was over Federer, so he gets the tie breaker on the H2H.

BTW, this wasn't my math - Bismarck and Master Ace figured it out this morning.

For a guy playing in borrowed socks and using another guy's racquet, I thought Stepanek played OK. Federer was alternately brilliant and awful, and seemed strangely joyless - which I now understand. At least he was wearing a dark outfit...

Posted by guidoliciouss 11/12/2008 at 06:05 PM

I knew that would happen...Why did I read before I posted?

My money is on Simon...

Posted by Bismarck 11/12/2008 at 06:08 PM

Pete,
errh there would be several things to comment on in this piece but i´ll chose just one:

*Now here's the funny part. Stepanek's next match is meaningless as far as his own chances to advance go. He can't qualify. But he can sure screw things up for the guy he's playing, Gilles Simon - another guy who came in as an alternate (replacing Rafael Nadal), after making a heroic effort to qualify in the late stages of the season. Simon can, theoretically, still nudge Federer out of the no. 2 slot in the Red Group (in which only Andy Murray is undefeated, and likely to emerge as a top seed in a semi), but he'll have no chance if he loses to Stepanek.*

you´re wrong here.
if federer loses to murray, simon qualifies for the SF even if he loses to stepanek (cause simon beat federer in the h2h).
so, no, steps can´t act as a spoiler for simon. that match is "meaningless" altogether. the federer-murray match decides everything for that group:
federer beats murray: federer + murray in the SF
murray beats federer: murray + simon in the SF

Posted by Or 11/12/2008 at 06:09 PM

I'm lost. Again.

If Roger wins tomorrow, he's through no matter what. If he losses, he's out no matter what, because the h2h DOES win out, no?

But I don't know, Pete. Roger looked grim after today's match, he would never reveal an obvious weakness to a foe unless it was real, Murray is going to try and make him run A LOT in their match.

I'm afraid this is going to get REALLY ugly.

Posted by Bismarck 11/12/2008 at 06:11 PM

or just: what Andrew said, hee.

Posted by Penney 11/12/2008 at 06:11 PM

really... if someone retires.. who is next?????

Posted by MJA 11/12/2008 at 06:16 PM

Roger has to beat Murray and hope Giles to loose against Radek. An awful dynamic, seriously. Chances of getting both conditions fulfilled are slim. If it does happen, then, we never know Roger and Andy would play twice in a week - something Andy is looking to avoid.

Allez Roger!

Posted by Ruth 11/12/2008 at 06:16 PM

I don't even want to guess what some people would be saying if the WTA had to go to #27 to find an alternate for its YEC! :)

Posted by beth 11/12/2008 at 06:16 PM

I always find the win'loss scenarios in these round robin tournaments to be so confusing
even more so , now that we have an alternate
I swear , I think quantum physics is probably simpler to grasp

Posted by Or 11/12/2008 at 06:16 PM

Ah, thanks bissy.

I like Pete's scenerio better, Roger really need to fork up the goods against Murray tomorrow.

Posted by Or 11/12/2008 at 06:19 PM

Andrew - did he really have moments of brilliance in the first set? I'll go check the highlights on ATP TV, what I've seen from 3:2 in the second was more awful than brilliant.

Posted by Tennis Fan 11/12/2008 at 06:21 PM

"I don't even want to guess what some people would be saying if the WTA had to go to #27 to find an alternate for its YEC! :)"

Good point Ruth. However, 27 is Kia Kanepi, that might have been interesting.


Posted by crazyone 11/12/2008 at 06:24 PM

MJA: Simon's match is irrelevant. Federer's match determines whether he or Simon accompanies Murray to the semifinals.

Posted by Master Ace 11/12/2008 at 06:25 PM

Ruth,
Jie Zheng is number 27 in the WTA race and the story would be blown out of proportion while Radek Stepanek and Nicolas Kiefer(ranked in the 30s) can be alternates without the criticism from the media and most tennis boards.

Posted by Master Ace 11/12/2008 at 06:27 PM

Tennis Fan,
See you went for rankings while I did race but bottom line is the number 27 in the WTA would have been criticized from the media and most tennis boards. If the WTA players 10-26 went on vacation, that would not be acceptable.

Posted by Andrew 11/12/2008 at 06:28 PM

Or: all the shots were there, but the continuity wasn't. It was kinda like watching Tsonga.

Ruth: I'm tempted to ask how anyone could tell... :-)

Posted by Andrew 11/12/2008 at 06:31 PM

beth: all you need for quantum physics is wave/particle duality, the uncertainty principle, and eigenfunctions. Sets won vs H2H is part of neither the Schrodinger nor the Heisenberg formalism (might come into Schwinger's version of quantum electrodynamics, which is less visually appealing than Feynmann's efforts).

Posted by Beckham 11/12/2008 at 06:41 PM

"Miracle, schmiracle. If you ask me, this is business as usual for a guy who's not only a superb competitor but blessed with survival skills that even God's dog, the coyote, would envy."

Ordinarily, I'd flove this, but it just makes me sad today, because it's precisely the reason why the Fed is still playing and not on vacation somewhere in the Maldives.....

Posted by kron 11/12/2008 at 06:44 PM

Hold on. If everyone is talking about H2H. Say Radek beats Giles and Roger loses to Andy, why would Giles go through as Radek will also be 1-2 and holds H2H over Giles. Wouldn't it be a 3 way tie instead?

Posted by Sherlock 11/12/2008 at 06:49 PM

Sounds like Roger needs to visit Miracle Max. Maybe he's only "mostly dead". :)

Posted by jb (Go Smiley Fed!) 11/12/2008 at 06:51 PM

today was cracking me up - as really, the round robin discussion was alternately hilarious and painful.

I give major props to radek for being able to step in. I guess he came over from vacation, and all his tennis gear had to be shipped from home and got stuck in customs. Cool that Djoko let him borrow his racket(s). And he played pretty well today, i thought.

Also like murray - i think he's there to win whatever matches he can. There's no going 'easy' on their opponents on friday. Game on!

Very good point ruth and master ace re: the alternates.. (Though i think Dima gets a pass, as he was actually playing another tourney. who SAYS the year is over?!)

Posted by Bismarck 11/12/2008 at 06:51 PM

no, kron.
the rules say that the number of matches played is also an important point.
stepanek´s possible 1-1 record *always* loses vs 1-2 records (2 matches played vs 3 matches played).
so he gets kicked out of the 3-way tie which then becomes a 2-way tie between federer and simon ---> decided by h2h

Posted by Lee 11/12/2008 at 06:52 PM

If Fed loses in straight sets, he is 1-2 in wins and 3-4 in sets. If Simon loses in straight sets, he is 1-2 in wins and 2-5 in sets. Stepanek would be 1-2 in wins and 3-4 in sets. All the same in wins, Fed and Stepanek tied in sets record, the semi going to Fed for beating Stepanek ????

Posted by jb (Go Smiley Fed!) 11/12/2008 at 06:54 PM

er, kron, i believe you're correct, but i haven't the strength to get into it. there's quite a bit of discussion on the round robin, including where the term may have come from in the CC post from this am. IF you simply must pursue this.

I have decided to just hope like mad that Fed manages to win in straights on Friday.

Posted by jb (Go Smiley Fed!) 11/12/2008 at 06:58 PM

heee sherlock -- that just clicked. (bit slow, between the physics and the history of robins..)

Posted by Vanessa 11/12/2008 at 06:59 PM

Pete, you had me laughing from beginning to end.
I think we should expect someone else to retire. The way this is going it looks as if for the last few days of the season we are going to be treated to some sort of 'shocking' news or another. The least we can do is look at the lighter side of things and have a good laugh

Posted by Sherlock 11/12/2008 at 07:01 PM

LOL, jb. :) And don't forget the petitions!!

Although I must say, the robin stuff was pretty cool. :)

I can't help but laugh every time I think of that Princess Bride scene.

"You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles."

Posted by daniel 11/12/2008 at 07:03 PM

What happens if Federer and Simon win in straight sets:
Murray: 2-1 (4-3)
Federer: 2-1 (5-2)
Simon: 2-1 (4-3)

Who advances?

Posted by iamu2 11/12/2008 at 07:06 PM

brilliant sherlock, i love that movie!!!

Posted by J-Block 11/12/2008 at 07:09 PM

Everyone saying that the Simon-Stepanek match doesn't count for anything is wrong. If Federer and Simon both win OR lose: Simon holds the tie-break, and thus would advance. But if Fed wins and Simon loses, Fed advances. So Simon has to win to guarantee himself a spot in the semis. Federer has to win AND have Simon lose.
Apologies if someone has posted this already.

Posted by Ruth 11/12/2008 at 07:14 PM

You're right about the blown up story, MA. We'd be reading for weeks about those shaky, frivolous, trifling, uncommitted women who couldn't take the trouble to leave whatever nonsense they were doing and rush to Doha. LOL

I'm sorry that Stepanek didn't have his own rackets etc when he flew in from his Thai vacation because I remember that Nalbandian won the TMC when he was located on a fishing vacation with friends and asked to fly to the TMC to be an alternate.

Andrew: Based on what I always hear from "experts," there is such lack of depth in the women's game that there definitely should be a big difference in level of ability bewtween the #27 WTA player and the #1 to #8 players, thus making it easy to "tell the difference," right? :)

Posted by J-Block 11/12/2008 at 07:14 PM

If they had to go all the way to 27, that means Mardy Fish passed up the oportunity. Why in the world would he do that? I understand he's just gotten married, but he will almost certainly never get an opportunity to play this tournament again.

Also, Daniel, great question. I wonder that too. I think it would be Murray and Federer but I am not sure.

Posted by jb (Go Smiley Fed!) 11/12/2008 at 07:18 PM

oh man - 'lock - dunno if it was cause i was up so dang early, but it was like 'keystone cops do tennis' over there. And for some reason i just found it absurdly funny.

i do need to see the princess bride again. 'i am inigo montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die....' i just may have to order it...

daniel - fed and murray. fed w/ the most sets, murray b/c of the simon h2h. fed would play the winner of kolya jmdp, murray would play nole.

Posted by Bismarck 11/12/2008 at 07:18 PM

daniel,
federer wins: federer + murray in SF.
murray wins: federer + simon in SF.

J-Block,
*Simon holds the tie-break, and thus would advance. But if Fed wins and Simon loses, Fed advances. So Simon has to win to guarantee himself a spot in the semis.

nope. you´re wrong here. the h2h only breaks 2-way ties.
if federer and simon both win you get a three way tie:
federer 2-1
murray 2-1
simon 2-1
in that case ration of sets won/lost breaks the tie.
and there is no scenario in which simon can be as good as murray and federer in that aspect.
3-way tie: fed + murray advance, simon out
2-way tie between fed and simon: simon advances (and murray of cuz)

Posted by Andrew 11/12/2008 at 07:18 PM

daniel: Federer and Murray. Federer has the best sets score. Murray won the H2H vs Simon.

J-Block: sorry. If Federer loses, he's out and Simon's in. It matters not one jot or tittle what Simon does, so long as he doesn't withdraw. He could use his racquet for air guitar (he might fall afoul of the ATP best effort rule, I guess).

Posted by imjimmy 11/12/2008 at 07:20 PM

Nice Article Pete! And what a way to end it - TMF's headstone ..ha ha..

Although I can't see any winner expected Andy Murray for this tournament.

Posted by jb (Go Smiley Fed!) 11/12/2008 at 07:20 PM

jblock. that's not correct. if fed wins and simon wins, fed is in.

Posted by Andrew 11/12/2008 at 07:23 PM

Ruth: I'm not an expert (or an "expert") on the WTA, so I'm the wrong person to ask. :-)

I'd love to think that there was a big difference (as in the days of Evert, Navratilova, Graf). Bismarck or Master Ace can take the hand off from here.

Posted by Ren (celebrating Roger of old) 11/12/2008 at 07:23 PM

I watched Roger play last night, and it's great to see the "moves" reflective of the Roger of old: unbelievable shots, good footwork, and yes, astute volleys!

Good morning/evening all!

Posted by jb (Go Smiley Fed!) 11/12/2008 at 07:25 PM

mhm. typepad ate my post. so i'm taking that as a sign i should go find my supper.

Posted by daniel 11/12/2008 at 07:28 PM

But if there are (in my scenario) a three way tie, then the item to decide is the sets won-lost ratio?, in this case even Murray couldn`t advance (playing so bad against Roger and Giles trashing Radek)

Posted by 11/12/2008 at 07:29 PM

to sherlock 6:49 post...

lol mostly dead...great movie

Posted by Andrew 11/12/2008 at 07:32 PM

daniel: three way tie on matches. Sets won lost, Federer advances. Now two way tie on sets won and lost (Simon, Murray 4-3). Murray wins H2H. Does sad dance for losing to Federer, eats bowl of porridge, restored for match with Djokovic.

Posted by Andrew 11/12/2008 at 07:34 PM

I can just see Federer on Friday leaning over the net and telling Murray: "there's something you don't know." "What is that?" "I am not right handed...."

Posted by Bismarck 11/12/2008 at 07:39 PM

ratio* not ration.

*and there is no scenario in which simon can be as good as murray and federer in that aspect.*

and to slightly correct my own poor wording:
simon can´t win in this 3-way tie with federer and murray, all things considered.

Andrew,
do i wanna touch that subject? maybe with a long stick? ;)
imo the wta still lacks depth compared to the atp (and it´s the same for almost every sport when one compares male/female, albeit the degree varies a great deal), but i´d say the wta has made some progress re greater depth for sure.
but depth is not all, only a part of the entertainment puzzle.

Posted by Sherlock 11/12/2008 at 07:47 PM

Ha! Brilliant, Andrew. :)

Posted by Ruth 11/12/2008 at 07:48 PM

Gee, Andrew, I thought that when you said that you were "tempted to ask how anyone could tell" a #27 from a #8, you were implying that there was no difference between them. Silly me!

Posted by naughty T, da knee bone's connected to da... 11/12/2008 at 07:50 PM

I don't know about anyone else but I am loving this end of season lunacy. It is full of drama and craziness. I wouldn't have missed it for the world.
Skinny Chicken or Round Robin. I'm lovin' it.

Posted by naughty T, da knee bone's connected to da... 11/12/2008 at 07:52 PM

by the by, looking at the photo above, one can only say that Nicole Vaidasova is surely proof of the old adage that "love is blind"....
and perhaps in her case somewhat demented too.
the film Coyote Ugly springs to mind

Posted by Andrew 11/12/2008 at 07:56 PM

Ruth: see Dorothy Parker on Calvin Coolidge. I used to take as much of an interest in the WTA as I did in pop music (I was a DJ in my younger days). Could be my advancing years or the quality of the product. Others' mileage may vary.

Posted by Christopher 11/12/2008 at 08:06 PM

Pete-- Sounds like you may have made a small error in how the RR works, but I loved this column. Interesting and funny stuff (perhaps the Worm just brings this out in people).

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 11/12/2008 at 08:14 PM

Too funny... Radek Stepanek as Yogi Berra.

Posted by 11/12/2008 at 08:41 PM

IF FEDERER WINS HE IS THROUGH TO SEMIS NO MATTER WHAT.
IF FEDERER LOSES HE IS OUT NO MATTER WHAT.

Normal knock out formula for Roger. A normal QF match.

Posted by tina 11/12/2008 at 08:46 PM

hang on a sec - tomorrow is the other group, right? Been a long day, driving two hours each way and sitting on a ferry for a total of 3 hours just to get an MRI, just walked in the door. I need to figure out tomorrow's OOP.

Geez, if Fed and Murray are playing, I might actually have to support Murray. Not a Fed hater - just like upsets and get bored with too much of the same thing...

Posted by tina 11/12/2008 at 08:49 PM

Yeah - I still got a few brain cells left: tomorrow is Djokovic-Tsonga and JMDP-Davydenko.

Posted by Sher 11/12/2008 at 08:55 PM

Pete, I'm pretty sure Simon's match is meaningless, Federer's match decides all.

But nevermind these obscure semantics, this was a brilliant line:

[Once again, the Tennis Masters Cup promised to deliver high drama (who can forget those Terracota Warrior sculptures!) and yet again it descended to low comedy (rumor has it that Salvador Dali has been commissioned to do melting tennis players for 2009). ]

I'm laughing just picturing these statues by Dali! LOL You're on fire today

Posted by Sher 11/12/2008 at 08:58 PM

Oh and I wanted to say: big props to Stephanek to showing up and finding all the equipment on short notice. Kind of funny to think of it as other players pitching in to knock out Federer!

Also, the fact that Roddick withdrew actually screws things up for Federer. If Roddick played and Federer still won him, and then lost to Murray he would have still had a chance to advance because h2h becomes meaningless and Federer could have advanced based on sets won. But since Stephanek is disqualified now, it will definetly go down to h2h between Simon and Federer if Federer loses so he's out no matter what in that case.

Posted by Sher 11/12/2008 at 08:59 PM

Aside from my desire to see Federer win the whole thing, it wouldn't be entirely remiss to see Murray-Djokovic final, which Murray is odds on to win. Sort of a young-guns-of-atp competition.

Posted by Blake 11/12/2008 at 09:04 PM

Bismarck, Pete's actually right. I think it all depends on HOW Federer wins and HOW Simon wins. If Federer goes through in 3 sets, but Simon makes it past Stephanek in straights, then it's still not all peachy for Fed.

Posted by Sher 11/12/2008 at 09:05 PM

Rosangel, if you are around, I've got a request for Federer picture to be on Friday's CC thread. You know why ;-) Not that I'm superstitious or anything like that, but why joke around with such an important thing! (Don't forget that Murray is already into the semis regardless...)

Posted by highpockets 11/12/2008 at 09:05 PM

"Miracle, schmiracle. If you ask me, this is business as usual for a guy who's not only a superb competitor but blessed with survival skills that even God's dog, the coyote, would envy. Was it a slip of the tongue, or a malapropism that rings with truth that transcends logic when Stepanek said of Federer. 'I know he lost more matches (this year) than he usually does, but that doesn't mean that he's beatable.'"

Beautiful, Pete ... and I learned a new word.

Posted by Sher 11/12/2008 at 09:10 PM

This article explains in detail why even if Simon wins 6-0 6-0 he won't advance if Federer wins his match vs Murray

http://www.tennisgrandstand.com/archives/2302

(seems to make sense, although you never know with RR)

Posted by Blake 11/12/2008 at 09:12 PM

Whoops, I mean if Fed loses in 3 sets, Simon will gain entry depending on his performance vs The Worm.

It'll be all tied up if he wins in 3 sets. He needs to beat Stephanek in straights, if Federer loses in 3, to make it to the semi's.

So yes, Stephanek has a very real chance at affecting Simon's tournament outcome.

Posted by CL 11/12/2008 at 10:18 PM

Aaaaargghhhhh - seriously - any posts that starts with some variation of "If Player x wins and...." I find myself reaching for the medicinal brandy.

beth is right...although I say this is more like Chaos Theory...since String Theory is already taken... than Quantum Physics.

Posted by CL 11/12/2008 at 10:21 PM

"Dorothy Parker on Calvin Coolidge" -- Must. Wash. Brain. Now.

Posted by CL 11/12/2008 at 10:27 PM

Oh dear, me, Dorothy P. and Cal C all got moderated. Tsk.

Posted by CL 11/12/2008 at 10:28 PM

oh...no we didn't !!! Moderator of heart and wisdom.

Posted by appledeuce 11/12/2008 at 10:32 PM

Blake - no. A Federer loss will give the second SF slot to Simon. Simon need not win in straight sets over Stepanek, in fact even if Simon loses, he'd still get the 2nd SF slot since he and Federer will both end up having a 1-2 W-L slate, Simon beat Federer earlier this week.

Posted by Violetta 11/12/2008 at 10:36 PM

Sher: The article you posted is correct. It's simple.

Fed wins and he's in the SF with Muzzah. Gilles is out, even if he wins.

Fed and Gilles both lose and Gilles goes to the SF based on his H2H with Roger. Roger is out.

That's it. Clear as mud, right?

Posted by Syd 11/12/2008 at 10:42 PM

Violetta @ 10:36 ( and others): Yes, actually, that's pretty clear.

Posted by Maria 11/12/2008 at 10:43 PM

It seems that if Simon loses in straight sets, Federer advances no matter what, because he has already won three sets, while Simon will have only won two. So it's not true that Federer is out if he loses. The basic question is: if two players are tied as far as match victories, what's the next distinguishing factor, the number of sets, or the head to head.
(I assumed above that the number of sets. How come nobody explained the rules on this website, I am a bit surprised by it.)

Posted by 11/12/2008 at 10:46 PM

Enough with the calculations. The only match that matters is Murray v Federer. Fed wins he's through. He loses he's out. it's not complicated. The other match doesn't matter. If Fed wins in straights, he is top of the group. If Fed wins in 3, he is second in the group.

Posted by MJA 11/12/2008 at 10:48 PM

blake:

To put it in simple terms: Giles could win 6-0, 6-0 and still be out. He could lose 0-6, 0-6 to Radek and still go to the Semis!

There is nothing Giles can do about his own entry. Roger has his destiny in his own hands, ah! on his Racquet, oops! in his head. No matter how he wins, fly in 2 or crawl in 3 - he is through to Semis. Likewise, if he looses, even in a 3 setter classic/marathon - Giles is through to Semis.

Posted by Maria 11/12/2008 at 10:48 PM

Why is he second in the group if he wins in three? He will have won as many sets as Murray (five) and the head to head gives him the advantage.

Posted by Andrew 11/12/2008 at 10:49 PM

Andrew: Maria - I think we can drag a dead equine to water, but drinking's another matter. It's the H2H with Stepanek gone, deceased, kaput, bereft of life, gone to join the choir invisibule.

As will Federer be if he doesn't beat Murray on Friday. For federer it's a QF. For Simon, a chance for a Frenchman to buy a Scot a drink (the reverse has never happened in the history of mankind that I know of).

Posted by Maria 11/12/2008 at 10:50 PM

So you guys are saying that the head-to-head trumps the number of sets? Is that a fact?

Posted by MJA 11/12/2008 at 10:53 PM

Maria:
between two - H2H
among three - number of sets

Posted by Maria 11/12/2008 at 11:11 PM

Thanks MJA. I don't understand now why Murray is through, the article that was mentioned above is flawed btw. If Federer beats Murray in straights and Simon beats Stepanek in straights, then all three of them will have won two matches. On the level of sets, Federer will have won 5 out of 7, and both Murray and Simon 4 out of 7. So the idea is that one applies the number of sets criterion to give Federer the #1 spot in this case, and then the head to head to distinguish between Simon and Murray (and give Murray the second spot)? This is completely ad-hoc, it sounds wrong. They should rather go to games to distinguish.

Anyway, string theory is much harder than this stuff, if anyone doubted :)


Posted by MJA 11/12/2008 at 11:23 PM

yes, in your Scenario...

1. Roger
2. Andy
3. Giles

Roger CANNOT finish #2.
Very appropriately, He will either be #1 or out.

Your concern is understandable, but H2H comes into play each time there is a contention between two players.


Posted by tina 11/12/2008 at 11:24 PM

I'm confused - live tennis is on at 1:00 am TW time (ET)? I'll get an email from dragonblades or siki_sports since I don't have Tennis Channel, but this time zone stuff makes me so nostalgic for the old days of just going to Madison Square Garden for these things. Humph!

Posted by tina 11/12/2008 at 11:40 PM

USTA members pre-sale tix for "Billie Jean Cup" at good ole MSG, March 2, 2009 - tomorrow morning at 9:00. It's Venus and Serena and Jelena and Ana.

That's my birthday - but I'll be arriving in Split.

Posted by tina 11/12/2008 at 11:43 PM

highpockets: was the new word malapropism or schmiracle?

(I'm trying to stay awake to see what's on at 1:00 am....

Posted by greenhopper 11/12/2008 at 11:58 PM

tina - singles matches don't start till 5 AM ET.
doubles start at 1AM, *live* in Tennis Channel.

Posted by Sher 11/12/2008 at 11:58 PM

[I can just see Federer on Friday leaning over the net and telling Murray: "there's something you don't know." "What is that?" "I am not right handed...."]

LOL, Andrew! Brilliant

Posted by crazyone 11/13/2008 at 12:03 AM

tina: it'll be dubs.


CENTER COURT start 2:00 pm (1 am EST)
B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) vs J Coetzee (RSA) / W Moodie (RSA)
M Bhupathi (IND) / M Knowles (BAH) vs P Cuevas (URU) / L Horna (PER)
Not Before 6:00 PM (5 am EST)
N Djokovic (SRB) vs J Tsonga (FRA)
Not Before 8:00 PM (7 am EST)
N Davydenko (RUS) vs J Del Potro (ARG)

Posted by Andrew 11/13/2008 at 12:18 AM

Evening, all.

Just wanted to mention that James McMurtry's song "Storekeeper" has the opening lines

"No shoes, no shirt, nos service,
Reads the sign on the fronst screen door.
Your friends all make me nervous,
You'd best keep them out of my store."

It has some killer guitar playing.

http://tinyurl.com/6hhlnv

That is all.

Posted by Rules 11/13/2008 at 01:24 AM

Man, too confusing. Here is the ATP rule book. Take a look at page 32.
http://www.frankymoser.de/ATP_Rulebook.pdf

Federer is in semis if he win Friday. Otherwise, he is gone. Simple!

Posted by joger 11/13/2008 at 02:56 AM

a great story pete...

Posted by marie j vamos rafa numero 1 ! 11/13/2008 at 05:41 AM

pete, really enjoyed that one ! one word : excellent !
lol at the RIP quote jeje ! not a bit morbid to me ;)

Posted by Gloria 11/13/2008 at 07:04 AM

I'm a lurker but I follow any comment Andrew posts sinds last year.

Not only a FFF (fellow FED fan), and a brilliant, kind, insightful and courteous person but an engineer as well?.

I'm at your service, master Andrew!.

Posted by Vie 11/13/2008 at 07:57 AM

Pete, funny, the part about how Stepanek ended up landing in Qi Zhong stadium sans his gear.

That thorny issue you raised, "But introducing alternates raises other, thorny qualification issues: should a win by a contender over an alternate who has no chance to advance to the semifinals count for the same in the standings as a result produced by two men who had qualified?" is quite something. I guess this should be considered in tiebreakers, since supposedly this is a field for top 8 players and introducing an alternate who is far away in ranking dislevels the playing field for a master's cup.

Posted by highpockets 11/13/2008 at 09:43 AM

Tina, sorry for not answering ... had to take off.

New word was malapropism.

Posted by zarko 11/13/2008 at 09:43 AM

Andrew
"I can just see Federer on Friday leaning over the net and telling Murray: "There's something you don't know." "What is that?" "I am not right-handed..."

LOL, Andrew! Brilliant!

Posted by Todd and in Charge 11/13/2008 at 09:46 AM

Funny post, I guess the 70s really are back.....

Posted by Injun X 11/13/2008 at 10:14 AM

GOOD HUMOR PEDRO!

It's great when you're freewheeling with the pen! Tom Wolfe needs a successor (...and, well...badly...[as he would put it]...).

Please, take up the mantle, and start with the beauty and humor of tennis (The Right Stuff) and the absurdities of national politics (Bonfire of the Vanities)!!

Wolfe writes a book decade, you write a book a week. That's a good start.

Posted by Pete 11/13/2008 at 11:38 AM

I'm embarrassed by your confidence Injun X, but have just one question: Blackfeet or Crow?
Also, I probably should have flat out said it, but based in my conversation with Greg Sharko, it seemed to me pretty clear that Roger is in control of his destiny - he wins,he's in. It's a Federer loss that begins to make things complicated re. qualification. I'm not prepared to go any deeper into that right now and it will soon be academic anyway.

Posted by crazyone 11/13/2008 at 01:04 PM

Hey Pete.

Nice post, I really enjoyed your take on both Stepanek and Federer (duh). But I'm a bit surprised you think Fed has a good chance to win this match tonight--he's been unable in the past few days to even serve down the T! Seems like that back injury or the lack of practice resulting from it led to some sort of abbreviated motion on serve...at any rate, he's not playing at all near the level required to defeat an Andy Murray...

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