Peter Bodo's TennisWorld - Montreal Crisis Center, Day 5
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Montreal Crisis Center, Day 5 08/14/2009 - 1:35 PM

89735298 Howdy, everyone. I'm a little late to the barn today, sorry 'bout that. Just had a big editorial meeting planning out our US Open coverage, for the magazine and website. I'll be doing the same-old, same-old, and also working on a few pieces for the magazine. Next week, I'm on vacation, but mostly lolly-gagging at the farm, so I'll  be on-line and keeping an eye on things. We'll have the usual Crisis Center posts (Rosangel pitching in a few of those days) but we'll go light on the red meat.

Week after (24th to 31st) is qualifying week at the US Open, and I'll be going out there pretty much daily, And once again let me remind you all that the US Open qualifying event is - by far - the best deal in tennis: admission is free, the concessions are mostly open, and the field always features surprisingly big names. You can sit courtside, basking in the sun, 15 feet from the players battling it out for a coveted spot in the main draw.  Get out there if you can.

I need to apologize for writing yesterday that Kim Clijsters is from the land of tulips and windmills; it was a silly error, not my first or last. Feel free to think of me as an ignorant xenophobe, but I'm pretty content with the stamps in my various current or expired passports, my European roots and all the cultural baggage that came with it, and my ability to get around in four or five languages. But that sounds self-justifying, doesn't it?

Anyway, you can also read more of my thoughts on Champagne Kim Clijsters over at ESPN today, where I go on a bit of a rant about the abuse of the verb "to retire," and the gerund derived from it. Now many of you know that one of my guilty pleasures is poking fun at Clijsters, which made it easier for me to connect a few dots that have been knocking around in my brain for some time now to get myself in a good mood to vent. But the reality is that I'm tired of the way the idea of retiring has been hijacked by some athletes (in the interest of fairness, Justine Henin is a culprit here, too - until proven otherwise in, oh, 10 years or so).

Let me make summarize: You retire when you get too old to work, or you get shoved out of your workplace because of your age. If you've ever seen a 72-year old geezer trying to fit a lady's foot into FM pumps at the shoe store, you'll know what I mean. Granted, the retirement age for a tennis player is far lower than for the average working stiff, but the idea that a 22 or 24 or 26 year old can "retire" is absurd. Maybe this is just semantics (you know, the way some people use "reticent" as a synonym for "reluctant"), but the reality is that "retire" is the wrong choice of word. After all, did you "retire" from that job collecting carts at the Price Chopper when you were in your senior year of college, or did you just get bored and quit?

Likewise, Clijsters got sick of tennis and she up and quit in the Spring of 2007. I'll hasten to add that there's no sin in that. It's her life, right? Or you can mute the idea and say she took a break, although she never said that herself (as far as I recall) - she preferred to declare that she was "retiring": done: finito, outta there, quit, shed of it, put it any way you want, but not that she "retired." People don't retire at age 24.

A player coming out of a proper retirement, to take one more shot at the golden ring, always plays on our heartstrings. And as much as some of us like Clijsters, I don't think we ought to get overly sentimental about her return to the game. Look at it this way: While Clijsters took her break, most of the other women of her generation on the WTA Tour kept doing the heavy lifting, and the punishments thereby incurred (see "S" for Sharapova). Clijsters is now returning at age 26, and while taking a long break from the game is always risky, it also has a variety of upsides (I'm sure Rafael Nadal fans have been making those cost-gain flow charts for weeks now), including the fact that she's got fewer miles on her clock than her main rivals.

Is it a mere coincidence that Clijsters is making her return exactly when it's obvious that Sharapova is beat up, the Williams sisters are increasingly erratic, Amelie Mauresmo is working her way out of the picture, and Henin is presently no factor in the game? Perhaps. But I suggest that there might have been some shrewd calculation involved here, too. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, either. All is fair in love, war and tennis. But let's not get carried away and pretend that Clijsters is like one of those old, punch-drunk tomato cans, climbing back into the ring one more time in some doomed, hopeless underdog's Quixotic quest. She did what she had to do - that is, quit - for reasons of her own, and she's coming  back for reasons of her own.

So that's my rant, Part II, and it plays into my long-time feeling that Clijsters is not exactly the happy-go-lucky girl next door, upon whom most everyone has bestowed that most anodyne of accolades "She's so. ..  nice." My feeling is that she always traded heavily on her niceness, and has expertly done so with this retirement narrative. She's a clever girl, that Kimmy, which is different from being merely nice, even if the two do intersect here and there. More power to her. The big question for me is whether she'll be more able than before to deliver the real goods - suck it up and respond to the call, doing what needs to be done to win the big titles.

The rest of it always was, and still is, a no-brainer for a player as young and blessed with talent as Clijsters.

-- Pete

As at 9:20pm ET, overflow going up.  Andrew


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Posted by lionhearts 08/14/2009 at 09:08 PM

sorry that shuold be who wasnt

Posted by Tim (2009 Year of Red Rogie ) 08/14/2009 at 09:08 PM

rafa will be fine, my god so many guys have tendinitis, u have to take b reaks, schedule wisely and not overplay, he's had a long rest he will run like the wind, we shall see if Del Po can hit him off the court, the memory of Miami should help him...

Posted by mcakron 08/14/2009 at 09:08 PM

AnnieVamos -- yeah, I believe 12:30 EST or TW time.

Posted by frances 08/14/2009 at 09:09 PM

AM Tfactor !!! hello to rafa funs!!!
i've been just in an out observing conversations for a while.. realy excited for rafa's comeback!!! hopefully he wont be usign his knees too much

Tfactor - u sure it will be shown on espn -- its not on yet:(

Posted by Tfactor 08/14/2009 at 09:09 PM

Yes they're both Fed fans but I think the Argentine tries to be a bit more objective, my fellow Venezuelan can't help himself, but you're right they're Ok.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 08/14/2009 at 09:09 PM

me too, rafadoc. off to tennistv land.

hope the spaniard plays well tonight. see you good folk later...

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 09:09 PM

I hope we get another good match in the evening session. I think we will. I want to see what the fuss about Del Potro on HCs is all about, I haven't watched him much.

Posted by rafadoc 08/14/2009 at 09:10 PM

AM: Nice shades. :)

Okay-just play well and don't get hurt and I will be happy.

Posted by mcakron 08/14/2009 at 09:10 PM

I'm surprised Tennis Channel doesn't show NASCAR. Tape delay, of course, and repeated over and over and over.

Posted by toonie 08/14/2009 at 09:10 PM

ooh interviewing Canadian figure skater during break she's from Montreal. Yeah Olympics!! She is a huge Nadal fan and tennis fan. She admires how a much a fighter he is.

Posted by JohnC 08/14/2009 at 09:11 PM

Karen, I'm with you. Murray is the only one of the top guys whose play and personality leave me cold

Posted by rafadoc 08/14/2009 at 09:12 PM

Heh. The ump says he will be wearing sunnies too AM.

Posted by Tfactor 08/14/2009 at 09:12 PM

Hi Frances!

It's on ESPN deportes but they do have different feeds oer zone. I'm in the Caribbean.

Will try hard not to worry too much

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President finally comes out of rehab and rejoices in Vamos Forever 08/14/2009 at 09:12 PM

Here he comes into the stadium

Vamos Rafa

Umpire is Steve Ulrich

Steve said he might wear sunglasses tonight because of the glare LOL!!!

Rafa won the toss and will revceive,gee thats a first.

Posted by loinheart 08/14/2009 at 09:13 PM

jeje i must admit i misss rafa sprint to the back court
vamos rafa
vamos delpo
will be happy with any guy winning

Posted by Jake 08/14/2009 at 09:13 PM

Thanks for the stream Whitney... a fuller link is at:

Posted by toonie 08/14/2009 at 09:14 PM

Cayman Karen I feel the same way about Murray, but I used to feel that way about nole so, however Murray never seems to love what he's doing

Posted by jb (Go Smiley Fed!!) 08/14/2009 at 09:14 PM

ah well, now i'll have to watch tennistv. which streams pretty well. yeah! but its harder to watch / post....

ah well - go elfie! :)

Posted by frances 08/14/2009 at 09:14 PM

hugs to all rafa fans--

vamos rafa!!! have a good game-- il try not to set expectations:P

we love you!!

il check that Tfactors Thanks!!!!

Posted by linz 08/14/2009 at 09:14 PM

Hey Kristy! Hopefully my e-mail link will show up here- I am definitely interested in meeting up for the Open- e-mail me and maybe we can work something out!

I've only been once- to one night session last year- and I've been in NY for 5 years!! I need to do better this year =)

Posted by Mr. X 08/14/2009 at 09:14 PM

And there's Mr.Knees. I dont expect him to win at all tonight. As i said, all i want is for him to show some steady improvement.
Now i see, Delpo, those blue shorts have looked very wet throughout the whole tournament, which sometimes gives a kind of weird visual:)
Seriously though, that is a dangerous guy to face in Nadal's condition. If things dont go well, i'm fearing a repetition of the Madrid 07 match against Nalby.

Posted by Angel of the Surf (Winner of Wimbledon Suicide Pool) 08/14/2009 at 09:14 PM

tfactor glad you are back, hope your op went well.

What are these two guys going on abt? Geez I hate to be marry to either of them.

Posted by Cayman Karen (as defined by Ruth and Master Ace) and Bring on the FedTwins - 2 many names 08/14/2009 at 09:15 PM

@JohnC, did you see him playing at Wimbledon. OMG it was like watching someone in the juniors. At no point did he even try to hit winners etc., he just kept doing these backhand slices that drew error after error from his opponent and the British folks were just eating it up. I like when players go for their shots, win lose or draw. Take chances, and dont wait on opponent's to make errors.

Posted by sokol 08/14/2009 at 09:16 PM

vamos Rafa!

Posted by Cayman Karen (as defined by Ruth and Master Ace) and Bring on the FedTwins - 2 many names 08/14/2009 at 09:16 PM

I like Delpo but I want Nadal to win this match and actually defend his title because I dont want Murray to get to No. 2.

Posted by linz 08/14/2009 at 09:16 PM

Thanks for the links guys- so good to see Rafa live again! I love his colorful kit!

Posted by Tfactor 08/14/2009 at 09:17 PM

The surgery was a no go due to some other complications, but I'm not too bad, just playing the waiting game.

"What are these two guys going on abt? Geez I hate to be marry to either of them"


Posted by linex 08/14/2009 at 09:17 PM

Congrats Andy´s fans a great season for him, he is toughing out a lot of tight matches against guys who have a better basline game than him.

I am a little tired therefore I fell asleep in the end of the second set of Nole´s match but in time to get the final points of the tiebreak. I hope that Rafa Delpo is an exciting match so i do not fall asleep.

I guess if Delpo plays well today he should beat Rafa. But that is a great if, we need to see if Delpo brings his A game because Rafa is not going to beat himself. He will fight as usual and return a lot of balls. So if Delpo is in a non patient mood for playing tennis and tired from his DC effort, the win shall belong to Rafa.

Posted by Andrew 08/14/2009 at 09:18 PM

Overflow going up to keep TypePad honest:

Posted by JohnC 08/14/2009 at 09:18 PM

We're singing from the same songsheet, Karen. It would actually be sweet if JWT dispatched Murray in the semis.

Posted by mcakron 08/14/2009 at 09:18 PM

Is Nadal still in his Swedish Davis Cup look? Gotta find a stream.

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 09:18 PM

Why have the ATP website people made Del Potro look like a Stone Age caveman in that photo? Maybe he doesn't photograph well, like me. He looks much better in action.

Posted by linex 08/14/2009 at 09:18 PM

By far the nicest empire is Layani. He is always smiling and making remarks to the players.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President finally comes out of rehab and rejoices in Vamos Forever 08/14/2009 at 09:19 PM

Could take off the yellow though

I think a lighter shade of blue headband etc would be a better contrast

Pftt.the g/friend is still here.

Hasnt she got a life.

Posted by Kristy 08/14/2009 at 09:19 PM

Cayman Karen (I love your name), I agree -- Nole is very, very good looking. And he's a great player. He just lacks confidence, strangely.

Babe, I find Nole reminds me of a younger Roddick, in that his emotions are a big part of what he's fighting. ARod learned to get out of his own way, stop trying to be 'flash' and be someone he wasn't. I think Nole needs to rediscover his strengths and concentrate on them. He should hire Larry Stefanki, haha.

Posted by TennisTarkheena 08/14/2009 at 09:19 PM

Vamos Rafa! Hugs to all fellow fans. A belated congrats to Roddick and fans and comms to Nole fans.

Posted by lionheart 08/14/2009 at 09:19 PM

i thik rafa can take this match hes rested and well hes rafa and delpo has seen a little tired since dc
vamos rafa

Posted by Mr. X 08/14/2009 at 09:19 PM

I know the girlfriend is not extremely appreciated by some posters around here, but i must say this: she sure is hott.

Posted by tina 08/14/2009 at 09:19 PM

God, it feels like I haven't seen Nadal in years.

So much has happened since Roland Garros. But I'm not in the mood for any more tennis this evening. I think I'll watch "Fashions of 1934" instead. Or Bette Davis as an impetuous heiress with brain tumor in "Dark Victory", LOL.

Posted by Babe 08/14/2009 at 09:19 PM

"babe - agreed about levine. sadly, i'll always have a 'meh' feeling about him because of that. but he seemed quite proud of himself, which actually made me feel even more meh. :("

ICAM--what a weazel. It must be some silent code in tennis--cheat when possible. U see BG actually encourages that nonsense.

Posted by rafadoc 08/14/2009 at 09:20 PM

I think I have a crush on Francis Roig. Dear God. Is he cute or am I drunk?

Posted by Tim (2009 Year of Red Rogie ) 08/14/2009 at 09:20 PM



Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 09:20 PM

"I know the girlfriend is not extremely appreciated by some posters around here, but i must say this: she sure is hott."


Posted by linz 08/14/2009 at 09:21 PM

LOL Rafadoc- I actually think he's cute too!! (But I'm drinking as well...)

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