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Your Call, 2.10 02/10/2009 - 1:17 PM

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by Pete Bodo

Hey, how about that call on the USA squeezing out a Fed Cup win? You know, it was hardly on the media radar, and in the grand scheme of tennis things, it probably isn't destined to be what they call a "historic moment" when compared to, oh, Spain's upset of Argentina in the 2008 Davis Cup final, but I guarantee you this: these American girls who turned back Argentina over the weekend are ecstatic, and none more so than Melanie Oudin. After all, she provided WTA staple Gisela Dulko with some pretty firm opposition in the first match, only to lose. Then, in her second match, she endured a 2-6 nightmare of an opening set only to claw her way back into the match and win in three. The comeback win ensured that the tie would go the distance, decided by the final match - the doubles.

Pause a moment to appreciate this: Jill Craybas got the USA off to a good start by hammering Jozami, two-and-one. Oudin then had to play Dulko, with pretty much nothing to lose. Dulko is no. 44 in the world; Oudin no 147. Dulko was playing an underdog to try to keep Argentina's chances alive in the tie, while Oudin could swing from the heels, knowing the USA had a match in hand. If it was a high-stress situation, but only for Dulko. But within 24 hours, it was a different story indeed.

Dulko handled Craybas with ease in the third singles of the tie, so Oudin had to meet Jozami with the US on the brink of elimination. Okay, on paper Jozami had to be the nominal favorite; after all, at no. 134, she was ranked 13 places above Oudin. But the reality on the ground was that Oudin was looking at a winnable match, against an equal, with her team's survival on the line.

The funny thing about "pressure" is that it's something felt equally by all players. The degree of pressure that a David Nalbandian faces upon meeting a Fernando Verdasco, or Nikolay Davydenko encounters when he squares off against James Blake, is no different in intensity or substance than what Oudin must have felt before playing Jozami. You don't feel less or more pressure depending on your status, unless it's notably higher or lower than that of your opponent, or some extraneous factor comes into play. And let's face it, one of the reasons top players are ranked where they are is because of their superior ability to handle pressure - not because there is any more or less of it. Pressure is all about the conditions, and the degree of pressure is created by a potentially volatile mixture of temperament, the match-up, and whatever vibe is in play - in this case, the whole cluster of issues that arise from an international, team competition.

And on that playing field, it's pretty easy to forget that when it comes to any competitive athlete, there's a point where it doesn't matter who is - or isn't - watching. It isn't about the hype, and it isn't about the press. It isn't about the endorsements, and it's not about size of the trophy. It's about you, the team, (vaguely) the nation you represent and, in a small way, about the record books. You go into the books as someone who pulled your team and nation through a tough but winnable tie, and it's. . . sweet. Oh, so sweet! And at some level that we fans and pundits easily ignore because we're so focused on Roger and Wimbledon, Serena and the Masters Series, Rafa and the Davis Cup final, this matters in a way we can understand, but rarely sit back and appreciate.

But this, in a nutshell, is also why people like Melanie Oudin (and Betina Jozami, for surely there will come a time when the shoe is on the other foot) continue to play this game, despite triple-digit rankings, and it's the moments like these when the differences between them and Serena and Ana and Maria are, well, irrelevant. The truth of the matter is that a Wimbledon final is played a few thousand times each year on the tour, on clay, indoors or out, by individuals destined never to decorate the cover of Tennis magazine. Every once in a while, conditions congeal to create a special moment of importance - a break from but also a payoff for all those hours of frustration, tedium, matches whose significance, win or lose, is pretty hard for anyone - including the person experiencing it - to fathom.

But there's also this: Players exist to be found by moments like the one that located Oudin on Sunday, and such moments will enable them to look back on their careers one day and allow them to feel satisfied, to say something like: Yeah, it was tough, I always felt the blow of a setback like a slap in the face, and I know the sting of defeat. But it was worth every hour and ounce of effort I put into it.

So let's share Melanie's moment here, and also acknowledge first-time Fed Cupper, Julie Ditty, who joined with reliable Liezel Huber to clinch the match with a fine performance against Dulko and Jozami in the doubles. Happy 30th birthday, Julie! Here's to hoping it was, indeed, worth the wait.

Any further questions on this, just address them to the ultimate Fed Cup warrior, Flavia Pennetta. But she's a story for a different time. Enjoy the tennis, everyone. I am working on a red-meat coaching post, which I may or may not get done today. Stay tuned, enjoy the tennis and leave your always insightful comments below.


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Posted by Fabio 02/11/2009 at 09:25 AM

Don't know about you, but I just love the grand slams live score system, in that you can click a name and see a little bit of info on the player. Is it that difficult to implement it on the other tournaments as well??

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 02/11/2009 at 09:26 AM

agreed on the names!

Sorry Jenni and other Ferru fans, but it is kind of nice for Misha to get a win.

Posted by Rosangel 02/11/2009 at 09:27 AM

There is very little anyone could legitimately do with Borg's Slam statistics that wouldn't keep them looking insanely good in any company you could name.

Posted by ptenisnet 02/11/2009 at 09:27 AM

Fabio
You get some info if you click on the player's name.
There is a tab called Biografie

Posted by Fabio 02/11/2009 at 09:28 AM

Ferru seems a little unfocused. I didn't see this match, but I've seen the one he lost in SA. Practically couldn't get the ball over the net...

Posted by Fabio 02/11/2009 at 09:29 AM

Ok, that was dumb of me! Thanks ptenisnet!

Posted by naughty T, next!!!!!! 02/11/2009 at 09:33 AM

Rosangel agreed, but I just loved it as a general Statement.

Posted by ptenisnet 02/11/2009 at 09:34 AM

not at all Fabio.

Posted by Fabio 02/11/2009 at 09:35 AM

How many of you people play tennis?

Posted by naughty T, next!!!!!! 02/11/2009 at 09:35 AM

Fabio, no prob, I meant I agreed with your choice.

Jesse looks like this

http://tinyurl.com/bol9jx

Posted by naughty T, next!!!!!! 02/11/2009 at 09:36 AM

Fabio, I play something that vaguely resembles tennis.

Posted by Master Ace 02/11/2009 at 09:37 AM

Fed Cup Rematch shortly as Amelie Mauresmo will play Sara Errani

Posted by ptenisnet 02/11/2009 at 09:38 AM

There are shades of Marat in Jesse (not literally. only conceptually. or something like that).


Fabio,
What nT said.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 02/11/2009 at 09:38 AM

Mmm, nice pic of Jesse, thanks naughty. :)

Fabio - I don't play at all, sadly.

Posted by greenhopper 02/11/2009 at 09:40 AM

I saw a Gasquet resemblance. But then, I might still be asleep.

Posted by Fabio 02/11/2009 at 09:40 AM

naughty, I want to give it a shot myself. I think somewhere near spring I could get going, and perhaps even taking my wife with me!

Posted by naughty T, next!!!!!! 02/11/2009 at 09:41 AM

yes it is a good mix of all that is dreamy.
gosh he even had a break point against Jo.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 02/11/2009 at 09:42 AM

*does cartwheels around greenhopper*

A cross between Marat and Gasquet = fun in tennis terms.

Posted by Syd 02/11/2009 at 09:42 AM

G'morning all;

Are there any kind souls who will post a stream today.

Posted by naughty T, next!!!!!! 02/11/2009 at 09:43 AM

oops forgot the cleaner is coming shower time.
see you in a bit.

Posted by Nancy 02/11/2009 at 09:43 AM

Idiot Korolev, wake the fork up.

"does anyone still have a winning record against Rafa?"

Hmm...I saw this while flipping through the pages, not sure anyone mentioned this but yeah, Nalby is 2-0 over Rafa. 2-0 over Murray too.


Posted by crazyone 02/11/2009 at 09:44 AM

Syd: http://www.abnamrowtt.nl/cctv/


Posted by ptenisnet 02/11/2009 at 09:44 AM

Syd
Stream for Rotterdam - because what's a dam without flowing water?

http://www.abnamrowtt.nl/cctv/

Posted by Syd 02/11/2009 at 09:46 AM

Oh, Thanks so much, Crazyone and Ptennisnet. :)

Posted by greenhopper 02/11/2009 at 09:47 AM

morning, jewell.

not bad, pt.

Posted by lira vega 02/11/2009 at 09:49 AM

Did I read somewhere that Errani is dating Seppi?

"Idiot Korolev, wake the fork up."
+1

Posted by Rachael 02/11/2009 at 09:51 AM

lira - er, last I heard Seppi was dating Knapp

Posted by Rosangel 02/11/2009 at 09:52 AM

Search me - I don't get Rotterdam on TV until tomorrow, so not sure what happened to Karlovic. I saw Llodra play there last year - seem to recall he was particularly impressive at the net.

Karlovic usually has a bit more to his game than just the serve, though I'm now shuddering at the thought of his match against Rafa at Queen's last year. With three tiebreaks, I think Karlovic came closer than anyone to ending Rafa's match-winning streak that eventually stretched to 32.

Still, I got a better-than-average set of "Rafa looking distraught/annoyed/frustrated* pictures. Don't think I'd managed as many since he met Potito Starace in Hamburg.
http://tinyurl.com/c4udqv
http://tinyurl.com/c52tbp
http://tinyurl.com/dy54xt
http://tinyurl.com/d6jxa4
http://tinyurl.com/bbvfsk
http://tinyurl.com/d3px47
http://tinyurl.com/bkwl9n
http://tinyurl.com/b6o4sb
http://tinyurl.com/bw5xlf
http://tinyurl.com/dcvl34
http://tinyurl.com/c76qt4

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 02/11/2009 at 09:52 AM

Maybe he's dating both.

Posted by Annie 02/11/2009 at 09:52 AM

Morning All! In case anyone missed this, here's Mandy and rafa and rog weighing in on the new drug testing policies. Love Mandy's use of "draconian." it from the TW Ticker:

Andy Murray has added his voice to the criticism of new WADA rules that require athletes to make their whereabouts known for an hour each day. Not being at the stated location when drug testers arrive can add up to an anti-doping violation after three missed visits.

"These new rules are so draconian that it makes it almost impossible to live a normal life," he told The Times.

"I got a visit at 7 a.m one morning at my home right after I had travelled home from Australia. I woke up not really knowing where I was and suffering badly from jet lag. It seemed ridiculous to me as I’d been tested just four days earlier, straight after the match I had lost in the Australian Open.
“The official who came to my home wanted me to produce identification to prove who I was. He insisted on watching me provide a sample, literally with my trousers round my ankles, and then insisted that I wrote down my own address, even though he was at my private home at 7 a.m."

Speaking to Spanish reporters at the Australian Open, Rafael Nadal described the new requirements as "intolerable harassment": "To have to send a message or be concerned all day long if there is a last-minute change seems to me be totally excessive."

However, Roger Federer feels the new measures were an necessary evil. "It's a tough system, no doubt. It's a significant change to what we were used to before, so I think it takes some time getting used to it," he said at the Australian Open. "But at the same time, I feel like this is how you're going to catch them, right?

"You're not going to catch them ringing them up and saying, 'Look, I would like to test you maybe in two days'... It's an hour a day. I know it's a pain, but I would like it to be a clean sport, and that's why I'm okay with it."


Posted by crazyone 02/11/2009 at 09:53 AM

Where I have I seen this...serve to the one hander's BH at all times strategy before?

***AO amnesia***


Posted by lira vega 02/11/2009 at 09:54 AM

Um, that's possible too, Rachael...or jewell's version for all I know.

Posted by Rachael 02/11/2009 at 09:55 AM

he's also dating Bolelli.

Posted by crazyone 02/11/2009 at 09:56 AM

Did Jesse serve 4 straight aces in that game?


Posted by Nancy 02/11/2009 at 09:56 AM

Lira - really? where did you read that?

And why is Korolev playing that frenchie, I thought he was supposed to play the Sod. Or am I imagining things?

Gahhhh Evgeny, you're killing me. Come on kid, you need to get your ranking up. Davai.

Posted by ptenisnet 02/11/2009 at 09:56 AM

How the heck would someone like Muzzah know what a normal life is?

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 02/11/2009 at 09:57 AM

It is not fair that one man should have so much expressiveness. I'd forgotten how lovely his hair was then too, sigh...thanks for the pics, Rosangel!

I was sure Karlovic would win that match. Imagine how different the year could've have been if he had.

Posted by Rachael 02/11/2009 at 09:57 AM

Murray is such an old ham.

check out t'other Andy's words on the drug testing:

Andy Roddick, who shares a nickname with the tainted baseball player, played his opening-round match of the SAP Open. Afterward, he said he wasn't bothered by the doping scandal swirling around the other A-Rod, the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez.

"It makes me prouder of tennis," Roddick said. "We have the strictest testing in sports. We literally have to provide where we are hour by hour, every day. If I was to go to San Francisco for dinner for the night, I'd have to call it in."

Roddick went on to describe the uncomfortable testing process that his baseball counterpart never had to experience. A call on the home phone or a knock on the door at 6 a.m. An observer in the bathroom for a urine test. Possibly a blood test. An ID check.

"There's no question it's an inconvenience," Roddick said. "But if you're going to err, you should err on the side of being clean. I guess it's a necessary evil."


http://www.mercurynews.com/sportsheadlines/ci_11676530

Posted by Fabio 02/11/2009 at 09:58 AM

roseangel, rafa didn't seem that sweaty tough...

Posted by crazyone 02/11/2009 at 09:59 AM

yeah, the dislike of the drug testing system is not universal: Roddick, Federer and the Williams sisters have all come down in support.


Posted by Fabio 02/11/2009 at 10:01 AM

Amelie seems determined to win the rematch...

Posted by lira vega 02/11/2009 at 10:02 AM

I read some Kuzzy's interview yesterday where she was complaining about WADA too. Something about how she had to spend an hour on New Year's eve trying to fax them about where she's gonna be.

Nancy,
I honestly have no idea where I read it and if I read it at all. It's quite possible I just made it up.
And Sod had to withdraw from Roterdam :(

Posted by Annie 02/11/2009 at 10:03 AM

Rachael: thanks for posting Randy's views on the testing. puts things in better perspective, doesn't it?

Posted by Rachael 02/11/2009 at 10:03 AM

my favourite photo from that Karlovic/Nadal match
http://i44.tinypic.com/2lj40b4.jpg

that's a tennis racquet, Ivo.

I liked a lot of my Dr photos actually.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 02/11/2009 at 10:05 AM

LOL Rachael. I actually quite like Karlovic, he has such a sweet-looking face.

Posted by Fabio 02/11/2009 at 10:05 AM

Oh my, isn't that guy tall! No wonder he has such an extraordinary serve!

Posted by gauloises 02/11/2009 at 10:06 AM

My favourite part of that picture is definitely the action ballgirl in the background.

Posted by rafadoc 02/11/2009 at 10:07 AM

Rosangel...thanks for the Rafa pics...wears his feelings so openly...I particularly liked the 6th one-pure irritation at the whole situation!

I feel bad for the tennis players having to be accountable to the testers all the time. If you have ever been "on call" 24/7 (I have), it totally sucks. That said, I am glad tennis is a clean sport, unlike American baseball that has been tarnished by issues, especially with A-Rod's recent admission.

Posted by ptenisnet 02/11/2009 at 10:07 AM

Man
It seems kind of tragic that we will prolly never hear about Huta Galung until next year's Rotterdam.

Posted by Rachael 02/11/2009 at 10:07 AM

he's a total BFG
http://i40.tinypic.com/34g6pg8.jpg
although I think he did end up eating that child

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 02/11/2009 at 10:10 AM

well, I have to go and give my mother her birthday present.

See you all later. :)

Posted by naughty T, next!!!!!! 02/11/2009 at 10:11 AM

ha, that stream works now.
weird

Posted by Fabio 02/11/2009 at 10:11 AM

ptenisnet, well the match seems leveled, for now.

Posted by greenhopper 02/11/2009 at 10:11 AM

What's a BFG?

Posted by 02/11/2009 at 10:12 AM

Morning all!!!

I see Baby Owl hung in tough with PEHK, but good for him to pull through.

Posted by lira vega 02/11/2009 at 10:12 AM

Oh, and benvenuto, Fabio!

Posted by alex 02/11/2009 at 10:13 AM

I feel like the sperm that made it getting on here. Hope the chat's good now that I arrived.

Posted by Nancy 02/11/2009 at 10:13 AM

Lira - whaaa? is the Sod injured? I'm obviously living under a rock.

Rachael - silly question but did you see these?
http://tinyurl.com/dllkub
http://tinyurl.com/d5vnqz

Boy, do they complete eachother. Flove them.
Forza ragazzi!

Posted by Rosangel 02/11/2009 at 10:13 AM

jewell: I think this might be my favourite Rafa picture from Queen's.
http://tinyurl.com/3tgznc

Or this:
http://tinyurl.com/6muba5

Or this:
http://tinyurl.com/42rcpv

Posted by Fabio 02/11/2009 at 10:14 AM

lira, grazie!

Posted by Fabio 02/11/2009 at 10:16 AM

Well, tie-break in the first.

Posted by ptenisnet 02/11/2009 at 10:16 AM

Jesse forces a TB.

Huta man!!!!

Posted by neil in toronto 02/11/2009 at 10:16 AM

10:12 headless is me :)

Posted by Rachael 02/11/2009 at 10:17 AM

BFG - Big Friendly Giant.

Fabio - where are my manners? (I never had any.) welcome to TW, glad you could join us. I happen to have a little Italian fixation I will try and keep under control around you.

Nancy - ohh yes I saw them. werk it boys.

Posted by Nancy 02/11/2009 at 10:18 AM

Fabio, you're new here? Where are my manners?
Benvenuto a TW :)

Posted by Joe 02/11/2009 at 10:18 AM

And you can see much better the Rotterdam match at:

htt://www.rojadirecta.com/canal/temp.asx

Posted by alex 02/11/2009 at 10:18 AM

Tsonga in a tie-break set 1. Anyone got a link other than the Rotterdam site?

Posted by lira vega 02/11/2009 at 10:18 AM

Yup, Nancy, something about his back.
Sucks that it happened during these indoors tournies. On the plus side, it meant Zhenya getting easier draw...of course, he's about to blow it and get broken here, so it doesn't really matter. Sigh...and he's 1/10 on BPs converted

Posted by Jenni 02/11/2009 at 10:18 AM

I see I've reached the point where I'm offered sympathy by name when Ferru loses. Thanks, guys. :) But I think somewhere during that 1st round match at the AO I blew my Ferru fuse (not an entendre, btw), which has left me contemplating a life as a Kolya KAD. Seems like it would be a lot less stressful.

Posted by alex 02/11/2009 at 10:19 AM

Hey Joe - are you telepathic?

Posted by Rachael 02/11/2009 at 10:19 AM

oh and Nancy - the photo of Bol and the children? pretty sure my womb will never recover.

Posted by Fabio 02/11/2009 at 10:19 AM

Thanks Rachael and Nancy! I see many of you speaks italian! Good!

...and Rachael, mind my wife! ;)

Posted by Annie 02/11/2009 at 10:19 AM

end

Posted by rafadoc 02/11/2009 at 10:20 AM

Welcome Fabio

LOL Alex!

I see there are some Rafa fans here...here is a video of him arriving in Rotterdam-rocking some Hugo Boss outerwear :) I also love the greeting with MAndy.

Posted by rafadoc 02/11/2009 at 10:20 AM

Welcome Fabio

LOL Alex!

I see there are some Rafa fans here...here is a video of him arriving in Rotterdam-rocking some Hugo Boss outerwear :) I also love the greeting with MAndy.

http://tinyurl.com/dy6ah5

Posted by Nancy 02/11/2009 at 10:20 AM

Hehe Rachael, we both have no manners obviously. no wonder we're soulmates.

Korolev, I'm gonna kick your russian behind. Davai you idiot.

Posted by rafadoc 02/11/2009 at 10:21 AM

Sorry for the double post..."D'oh!"

Posted by ptenisnet 02/11/2009 at 10:21 AM

Is Zhenya = Korovlev?

Posted by gauloises 02/11/2009 at 10:22 AM

Amazing point! Love you Amelie.

Posted by Nancy 02/11/2009 at 10:22 AM

Ptenis - yes. Not sure why though.

Posted by lira vega 02/11/2009 at 10:23 AM

ptenisnet,
yes, Evgeny=Zhenya

Posted by ptenisnet 02/11/2009 at 10:24 AM

Thanks Lira and Nancy.

Posted by rafadoc 02/11/2009 at 10:25 AM

Jo wins a close first set over Jesse. On to the second...

Posted by naughty T, next!!!!!! 02/11/2009 at 10:26 AM

yeh that is kind of tragic Ptenis. Guy is giving Jo a run for his money.

Posted by Nancy 02/11/2009 at 10:27 AM

Rachael - yeah I saw it. And I'm literally living on his site, Seppi's too, just because it's really hilarious.

Lira - oh that's a shame. :(
Hope he'll be ok. And it doesn't matter who Evgeny plays anyway, russians know how to screw themselves over regardless of the opponent.

Evgeny, DAMNIT!

Posted by Stella 02/11/2009 at 10:27 AM

Joe, thank you for the stream.

Hey everyone

So Ferru lost,damn.

Posted by Fabio 02/11/2009 at 10:28 AM

Ugh, poor Sara, she's taking a beating...

Posted by Annie 02/11/2009 at 10:28 AM

rosangel: just checked out those rafa pics from Queens. Great shots! he looks a little hippie-ish with the long hair, i kinda like it! and the candid of Ivo with the ballgirl is great. love those "frozen" moments that are so candid.

fyi: the rotterdam website provides a stream that works for me.

Posted by gauloises 02/11/2009 at 10:29 AM

6-2 Mauresmo. Allez Amelie! Come on, revenge. Proper revenge. Cask of Amontillado revenge.

Posted by Stella 02/11/2009 at 10:32 AM

Thanks for the pics Rosangel.

I miss long hair Rafa.

Posted by Fabio 02/11/2009 at 10:32 AM

What's with the sound of that stream? It seems soft... aha, it's a indoor match!!

Posted by naughty T, next!!!!!! 02/11/2009 at 10:33 AM

nice one MoMo.

Posted by alex 02/11/2009 at 10:34 AM

rafadoc -

Watched the rafa-murray greeting at rotterdam - tea cozies are in!

Posted by ptenisnet 02/11/2009 at 10:34 AM

there goes Eugene.

Posted by gauloises 02/11/2009 at 10:35 AM

Those BH winners from Amelie have been so good today, they make me want to cry. Errani looks like she might be about to cry.

Posted by Annie 02/11/2009 at 10:36 AM

rafadoc: hi! just watched that video you posted of rafa at the hotel. I know i shouldn't feel bad for a guy who's #1`, rich and good looking, but man, the guy can't go anywhere without a microphone shoved in his face or a fan asking for a picture. Maybe he expects it now but didn't he look a little annoyed at that reporter? but loved the part with Mandy getting in the elevator.

Posted by Syd 02/11/2009 at 10:36 AM

Gauloises: LOL @ "Cask of Amontillado "

Posted by Fabio 02/11/2009 at 10:37 AM

Jo-W doesn't seems to be on his usual standard. Just missed a backhand down the line and didn't seem to care.

Posted by Fabio 02/11/2009 at 10:40 AM

Now now... it seems an amateur match. Sequence: jo-w nets an impressively easy forehand, nearly loses equilibrium on serve and then jesse misses the ball completely...

Posted by Nancy 02/11/2009 at 10:40 AM

Sigh Evgeny.

Allez Jo! Ferru and Korolev (and Bol later) are enough for one day. Please don't make it any worse.

Fabio - who are your favourites? and let's skip Rafa and Roger, I mean other players. :)

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