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

Overflow


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Posted by Jenni 08/14/2009 at 02:40 PM

Wow, Dinara's hitting the crap out of the ball. If she can keep the dfs in the single digits I think she'll be fine.

Posted by sokol 08/14/2009 at 02:40 PM

look at that... Dinara breaks... now, please, consolidate, girl
Davai!

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President finally comes out of rehab and rejoices in Vamos Forever 08/14/2009 at 02:41 PM

Thanks Beckham I dont need to take that extra Valium,well not for the moment anyway.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President finally comes out of rehab and rejoices in Vamos Forever 08/14/2009 at 02:42 PM

Jenni is there a link to her game at all?

Posted by JohnC 08/14/2009 at 02:42 PM

Davidenko is the first of four men today who will leave the tournament with 180 points and $59,200. I'm punting on Tsonga being the next.

Posted by sokol 08/14/2009 at 02:45 PM

Dina holds for 4-2. Davai!

Posted by sokol 08/14/2009 at 02:45 PM

Dinara with 3 BPs...

Posted by Jenni 08/14/2009 at 02:45 PM

Yep, AM.

http://atdhe.net/7622/watch-wta-cincinnati-safina-vs-clijsters

Posted by Pspace (Lestat Time!) 08/14/2009 at 02:47 PM

Alleeez Tsonga! GOAT meat for lunch. S'il vous plait?

Posted by greenhopper 08/14/2009 at 02:47 PM

Tsonga in all whites, instead of the red shirt. Making peace, are we?

Posted by sokol 08/14/2009 at 02:47 PM

Dinara breaks for 5-2 and will serve for the first set...
I hope she can serve it out...

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 02:48 PM

Ok, quick question, is the Fed perpetually cold?! Dude, is always in a jacket, even after practise when by all indications it's hot as hail, he wears a jacket?! When out and about in the US, Mirka in tank tops, the Fed is still in a sweater or jacket?! He always sounds like he's recovering from a cold?! What gives?!

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President finally comes out of rehab and rejoices in Vamos Forever 08/14/2009 at 02:48 PM

Thanks Jenni.

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 02:49 PM

Kim, welcome to the WTA, this is now a beatdown, she just can't handle the pace, I mean Dinara is clobbering her into submission...

Posted by sokol 08/14/2009 at 02:49 PM

I know that Roger will most likely be the winner, but I hope Tsonga will make it close...
Allez, Tsonga!

Posted by Metro 08/14/2009 at 02:49 PM

Pete,

Land of Tulips.

We have a party game in Europe. "Can you name ten famous Belgians, Oh Hercule Poirot does not count."

Posted by TennisFan3 08/14/2009 at 02:49 PM

""Tsonga in all whites, instead of the red shirt. Making peace, are we? ""

Absolutely right. The Soft Power and all that..

Posted by sokol 08/14/2009 at 02:50 PM

"Dinara is clobbering her into submission..."

nice to hear that, like music to my ears :-)))

Posted by sokol 08/14/2009 at 02:51 PM

Dinara takes the first set 6-2. Even though I thought that she'll win it, I'm a little suprised how easy it was... after all that talk about Kim...
Davai, Dina, continue...

Posted by Jake 08/14/2009 at 02:53 PM

Pspace,

Keep dreaming about GOAT meat for lunch! hehe.

Posted by sokol 08/14/2009 at 02:53 PM

Dina had 2 DFs so far (at least that's what my SB says)... I think if she had to throw couple DFs in the set, it's good that she did it in the first game to get it over with :-))

Posted by lionheart 08/14/2009 at 02:53 PM

hi guys
so muzz won esasly ...ummmm ...i thouggt this was going to be more closer
congrats to muzz fans..esp pspace ..i hopin for fed to win agains jo and finally win against muzz in a 3 setter since forever

and dina takes the 1 set ..davai girl cmon this is your tournament to lose

Posted by Jake 08/14/2009 at 02:56 PM

Dinara won her last match against Kimmie prior to the latter's "retirement."

It seems to be serving Dinara right to keep remembering that! (even if she is 1-6 lifetime against Kimmie).

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 02:56 PM

OK, Federer and Tsonga getting underway. Tsonga to serve.

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 02:56 PM

I guess Zonger won the toss, since the Fed isn't serving?!

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 02:56 PM

Nice point to start.

Posted by lionheart 08/14/2009 at 02:57 PM

unbeliveble espn showin golf yes golf intead that the fed Aarghhh why
does somebady have a link to the match ? please :)

Posted by CherryNYC 08/14/2009 at 02:57 PM

Beckham -- maybe it's in the Nike contract -- "wear jacket at all time unless the temp. is over 105F". Or maybe he just hates to be chilly -- I'm the same way -- always carrying a sweater around.

Fed really rocks the turquoise (aqua? teal?)

Posted by sokol 08/14/2009 at 02:57 PM

"espn showin golf yes golf intead that the fed"

surprised?

Posted by Jake 08/14/2009 at 02:58 PM

Hope Roger can improve upon his return game this match.

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 02:58 PM

Horrific, casual volley... c'mon Fed!

Posted by greenhopper 08/14/2009 at 02:58 PM

ooh gee thanks for that volley flub, Fed.
Tsonga honey, be prepared for the seasoning coming your backhand's way.

Posted by Tfactor 08/14/2009 at 02:59 PM

Nice love hold for Tsonga.
Again as much as I want Fed to go through I hope this match is really, really competetive (not sure it will be)
I agree with Cahill and think Djokovic/Roddick may be the most entertaining one today

Posted by Jake 08/14/2009 at 02:59 PM

ESPN2 is showing Fed live, so no problem if ESPN is showing golf?

Posted by sokol 08/14/2009 at 02:59 PM

oh, Dina :-((
Kim gets the break and will serve at 2-0. Come on, Dinara!

Posted by ladyjulia 08/14/2009 at 02:59 PM

Is it Fred or Fed who has shown up?

Dang...can't watch today, SBing is agony...

Posted by Jake 08/14/2009 at 03:00 PM

Love holds for both players to start things off - ha.

Posted by Tfactor 08/14/2009 at 03:00 PM

And Fed answers with a nice love hold of his own.

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 03:00 PM

Horrific is an understatment but since I'm now in a zen mode...do better next time Fed..

Cherry...lol but before the "jackets" he was always in a sweatshirt or jackets with zippers.

Posted by sokol 08/14/2009 at 03:00 PM

"ESPN2 is showing Fed live'

oh, then it's great for those of you, who can watch...
I wish I was home...

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 03:00 PM

ladyjulia : Hard to say. One poor volley, apart from that, not much to go by.

Posted by CherryNYC 08/14/2009 at 03:01 PM

of course my stream is frozen solid.

Posted by sokol 08/14/2009 at 03:01 PM

Dina breaks right back. Come on now, hold...

Posted by Jake 08/14/2009 at 03:01 PM

Sorry you can't see it live, sokol. ;-( Don't work too hard!

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 03:01 PM

Good attacking approach and putaway volley from Tsonga.

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 03:01 PM

Tsonga is like 4/4 at net today...it's too early to tell if it's Fred or Fed...;)

Posted by sokol 08/14/2009 at 03:02 PM

for anyone watching Dina-Kim: how's the quality of that match? would you advise to watch it later tonight if they'll decide to show it?

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 03:03 PM

On the positive side, Federer seems to be moving OK to the forehand wing. Couple of BH errors in this game.

Posted by lionheart 08/14/2009 at 03:03 PM

and jo holds ..i want to see how fed play today last night he play really wel on the first set esp in the ground strokes then go in a mini walkabout ..but serve well .. it think jo will be a good test to see how fed is returning and will be help him to practice if he wins to play muzz tomoroow

sokol im surprised cus generally here in latin america espn gives privelege to tennis over golf but well i guees that given that this is a major they prefer to show it

Posted by Ruth 08/14/2009 at 03:03 PM

"she is young, she's very talented, and is obviously over her burnot."

jb: I agree Kim's young, I agree she's very talented, but I lean more to what Pete offers as the reasons for her strategic withdrawal from the Tour than I do to what I think of as burnout. And, as Seinfeld might say, "not that there's anything wrong with that" (ie what Kim did). But's let's call a spade a spade.

One of my pet peeves, I'm afraid, is athletes who retire and un-retire and, sometimes, un-retire again -- whether it's George Foreman, Michael Jordan, or Brett Favre! The grownups (including professional athletes) that I admmire usually have a better handle on how they want to deal with the various passages and stages of their lives.

BTW I was pleasantly surprised to read on TW that Mary Pierce (who did NOT retire) is thinking of returning to the Tour at 34. Go, Mary!

Posted by greenhopper 08/14/2009 at 03:03 PM

Allez!
I'm going to take a sip of water every time Tsonga holds serve.

Posted by Pspace (Lestat Time!) 08/14/2009 at 03:04 PM

Nice approaches from Tsonga in that game. Fed getting too many returns back in play for my liking.

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 03:04 PM

Fed tries the old "bring him in on the short slice" trick but the lob was easily dealt with by Tsonga. 2-1, on serve.

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 03:04 PM

The Fed still bringing Tsonga to net, Tsonga dealing with it very very well, still hasn't lost a point...hmmm seems to me the strategy is to bring him to net, isn't Tsonga very good around the net?!

Posted by ladyjulia 08/14/2009 at 03:05 PM

And Kim breaks Dina?
Kim 3-1

Posted by sokol 08/14/2009 at 03:06 PM

Come on, Dina, break back.
Break-fest? ....

Posted by ladyjulia 08/14/2009 at 03:07 PM

Beckham,

I heard the commentators say that Roger likes to play to the strength of the other guy sometimes to break his confidence

Posted by JohnC 08/14/2009 at 03:07 PM

Anyone got a Fed stream that's not buffering all the time?

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 03:07 PM

Jo clubbing the FH, and this time Federer is slow to recover to his FH side. Serve seems good so far. 2-2.

Posted by Pspace (Lestat Time!) 08/14/2009 at 03:07 PM

Tsonga trying to poach his BH return. Fed hits two aces on the T in ad court. Solid hold from him.

Posted by ladyjulia 08/14/2009 at 03:07 PM

Kim is 4-1 up...

Posted by sokol 08/14/2009 at 03:08 PM

OK, time for that extra Valium, Aussiemarg...
Dinara is in trouble in the second set, 1-4

Posted by Tfactor 08/14/2009 at 03:09 PM

Oh Safina! This is why I don't put my hopes up until the very last ball is played. C'mon fight back

And it's all tied in the battle of the soft curls and the tight curls

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 03:09 PM

Very good service game from Tsonga. Love hold for 3-2.

Posted by yello fuzzy 08/14/2009 at 03:09 PM

hiya folks
great match-ups today...Tsonga seems to be playing well...hope he can keep it up for the whole match

Posted by Pspace (Lestat Time!) 08/14/2009 at 03:09 PM

That's better Jo. First serve on his bh...he can't do anything. Don't even bother disguising it.

Posted by lionheart 08/14/2009 at 03:09 PM

ok so far fed serving really well ..77 %ยบ1st , and just one missed point so good signs
but how hes playing oo the ground
SBing sucks when your faves are playin

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President finally comes out of rehab and rejoices in Vamos Forever 08/14/2009 at 03:09 PM

Hell her game has gone ***************************************

Posted by jb (Go Smiley Fed!!) 08/14/2009 at 03:09 PM

tsonga can be very good at net.

i guess i still don't see why people say fed will roll through him. its not like he's some hack.

Posted by greenhopper 08/14/2009 at 03:09 PM

hiya fuzzy. welcome back.
what do you think so far?

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 03:09 PM

Both players holding with ease...this has TB written all over it, if the Fed doesn't go on a Mirkaland or is it now TMBland trip?!

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 03:10 PM

ladyjulia: true he does, but I thought we'd moved past that considering he's "old", a half a step slower, and well his FH is not as ferocious as it used to be, no?! lol

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 03:11 PM

Pspace: are you like totalling rooting against the Fed?!

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 03:12 PM

One of the Fed's 50 second hold games...;)

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 03:12 PM

"Both players holding with ease...this has TB written all over it"

Yup... neither guy making headway on the return games.

Posted by Pspace (Lestat Time!) 08/14/2009 at 03:12 PM

lionheart, there haven't been many lengthy GS exchanges so far. Both guys aren't the best return players. So, it'll come down to those one or two games per set. Fed looks ok off the ground. He's made his approach shot winners, as usual.

Posted by greenhopper 08/14/2009 at 03:13 PM

whoa. an actual bh winner.

Posted by lionheart 08/14/2009 at 03:13 PM

Pspace and beckham thanks a lot for the updates .:))
keep on guys :)))

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 03:13 PM

Pspace, you should be supporting Federer. Don't you want the easier match for your beloved Lestat? ;-)

Posted by ladyjulia 08/14/2009 at 03:14 PM

Thanks guys from my end too...for all the updates..

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 03:15 PM

wohooo, our very first BH shank of the day!!!

Posted by ladyjulia 08/14/2009 at 03:15 PM

And Dinara breaks...looks like Dinara will straight set Kim

Posted by Tfactor 08/14/2009 at 03:15 PM

Safina breaks back, now hold!!!

Not the most exciting match between Tsonga and Fed. More like serving practice for both.

Posted by BC 08/14/2009 at 03:15 PM

Can't wait for Federer Murray tomorrow. If Federer loses, the h2h will start to look very ugly.

Posted by vetmama 08/14/2009 at 03:16 PM

Pspace

Traitor.

:-)

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 03:16 PM

Wow, that girl in the Mitsubishi ad is hot....

Posted by sokol 08/14/2009 at 03:16 PM

I hate SBing...
a minute ago it was 40-0 Kim serving and I was all dissapointed that Dina can't break back and then it changes to 3-4 and Dina is back on serve... what happened in between? Glad to see her fighting... Hold here, Dina, please! Davai!

Posted by Pspace (Lestat Time!) 08/14/2009 at 03:16 PM

VC, I prolly root for Jo marginally more than Lestat. It's just that he's been so crappy this year (not so much result-wise, but play-wise) that it's been hard to get behind him. This is the best he's played all year, imv.

Posted by ladyjulia 08/14/2009 at 03:16 PM

Well, i dn't know what will be more painful...The Fed losing today or tomorrow...

Posted by lionheart 08/14/2009 at 03:17 PM

WOW this guys's serving games are fast just loaded the page and there are already 4-3!!!

i thought jo serve will hepl fed if he wins for tomorrow match agaist muzz but given the circuntances seems that him is no givin any rythm so no good preparation for tomorrow

pspace thanks alot again :)

Posted by yello fuzzy 08/14/2009 at 03:18 PM

greenhopper
Roger is just doing his thing, serving well, calmly handling everything Zonger is throwing at him...a walk in the park.he just has to wait for the game when Jo misses a few first serves
Tsonga has been in a sort of 'sophomore slump' and no one on tour seems to be intimidated by his glamorous game anymore.....Tsonga has been officially 'de-flaired'
or defanged...the bite is gone from last years great form, winning in Paris and the AO showing

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 03:18 PM

Ah, ok Pspace. :-)

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 03:19 PM

"Well, i dn't know what will be more painful...The Fed losing today or tomorrow"

How about neither, it would be nice if he won, anyhoo looks like he's going to get broken in this service game, so it might be today...

Posted by vetmama 08/14/2009 at 03:19 PM

Ah, a JacketGate discussion by the commies.

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 03:19 PM

Grr.. he looks so sluggish running around the BH and ends up hitting an underprepared weak FH.. Deuce now... :-(

Posted by sokol 08/14/2009 at 03:20 PM

whooh, Dina holds for 4-4
This would be a great time to break, Dinara!

Posted by ladyjulia 08/14/2009 at 03:20 PM

DF? Roger???

Posted by yello fuzzy 08/14/2009 at 03:20 PM

greenhopper
o and thanx, glad to be back.....

Posted by roadrunnerz 08/14/2009 at 03:20 PM

Are they REALLY going on about the jacket AGAIN? yeeeesh.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President finally comes out of rehab and rejoices in Vamos Forever 08/14/2009 at 03:21 PM

Pspace See Roger dosent Muck around,takes control of the shot and puts it away for the winner

No mucking around for Roger.

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