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 Sunshine Breeze' 08/14/2009 at 03:21 PM

If Tsonga is on his game,he can beat anyone on any given day.

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 03:21 PM

FH ds by the Fed on HC?! Now, I've seen everything!!

Posted by Tfactor 08/14/2009 at 03:21 PM

This would be a great time to break, Dinara!"

Yup! Davai!

Phew! Fed holds.

Posted by vetmama 08/14/2009 at 03:21 PM

A distainful FH DS from Fed.
Well played.

Posted by Pspace (Lestat Time!) 08/14/2009 at 03:21 PM

hey vetmama, Loyalty is over-rated :-). Besides, this way, I am guaranteed to have some1 to root for in the final.

Fed holds with a droppah. Crucial fh UFE from Tsonga at 30-30 from an advantageous position in the point. 4-4. Jo to serve.

Posted by greenhopper 08/14/2009 at 03:21 PM

sigh. you're right, fuzzy.
Moment of truth. Let's take this to a TB and play horribly there, Jo. You can do this!!!

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 03:22 PM

Now would be a good time to get a few decent returns in play, Fed.

Posted by vetmama - RF FTW!!! (please?) 08/14/2009 at 03:22 PM

And the over the shoulder overhead.
Hee.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President finally comes out of rehab and rejoices in Vamos Forever 08/14/2009 at 03:22 PM

Wowser athletic ability from the new Dad,ok got a bit of luck so what.

Posted by lionheart 08/14/2009 at 03:22 PM

a good hold for fed here ..now o break here will be nice roger :)
meanwhile dina its close to beat kim DAVAI dina
i think this is dina tournament to lose hope she can win it will boost her confidence to the uso

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 03:23 PM

That OH was nicely done, that's what happens when you lose 10 pounds...lol

Posted by Jake 08/14/2009 at 03:23 PM

OK, Rog, BREAK now!

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 03:24 PM

And just like that 2 BPs for fatheruh..

Posted by yello fuzzy 08/14/2009 at 03:24 PM

here's that opening

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President finally comes out of rehab and rejoices in Vamos Forever 08/14/2009 at 03:24 PM

Yeah Roger knows at 4 all,its time to break.

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 03:24 PM

Bad, bad miss. :-(

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 03:24 PM

And dude misses a sitter FH...yep shades of Fred...;)

Posted by CherryNYC 08/14/2009 at 03:24 PM

My stream is so crappy it's not even worth it. Fed with 2BPs, from what I can tell.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President finally comes out of rehab and rejoices in Vamos Forever 08/14/2009 at 03:25 PM

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Roger that wasnt in my game plan,you had the whole bloody court

Posted by sokol 08/14/2009 at 03:25 PM

Dinara break and will serve for the match... one game away... I hope she can hold here...Davai!

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 03:25 PM

2 BPs saved back to deuce, oh Roger really that FH was a gimme, open court and everything...;)

Posted by sukhi 08/14/2009 at 03:25 PM

Tsonga's plan ..serve and volley

Posted by Tfactor 08/14/2009 at 03:26 PM

Safina, keep your cool and serve it out please.

Roger misses both BPs and it's now game point for Tsonga

Posted by CherryNYC 08/14/2009 at 03:26 PM

Oh, Fed, come on, now. Deuce.

Posted by vetmama 08/14/2009 at 03:26 PM

AM, I'd call that mucking about.

I hate mucking.

Posted by greenhopper 08/14/2009 at 03:26 PM

The Fed is so generous.
But no first serves in sight.

Posted by sokol 08/14/2009 at 03:26 PM

Allez, Tsonga! hold...

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President finally comes out of rehab and rejoices in Vamos Forever 08/14/2009 at 03:26 PM

yes I have all my body parts crossed that Safina can serve it out.

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 03:26 PM

Poor stuff to lose that game from 15-40, really.

Posted by linex 08/14/2009 at 03:26 PM

Kolya played far below his level today, he did not move his legs continuely as he usually does to gain speed and power in his shots. He was lacking power today. I saw the match he played yesterday against Gonzalez when he played perfectly today he was different.

Credit to Andy who served very well and made quite a bunch of aces.

I am glad that Safina has been keep it together so far ...

Posted by Pspace (Lestat Time!) 08/14/2009 at 03:26 PM

I have absolutely no clue why Jo is insistent on serving to Fed's fh. Dude. It's one of the best shots in tennis. Get. that. through. your. skull. 15-40.

Phew. Fed had the whole court open and pushed a passer long on BP1. BP2 saved with a good approach to the bh.

And, a couple of good serves to hold. Well done Jo!

Posted by sokol 08/14/2009 at 03:27 PM

"yes I have all my body parts crossed that Safina can serve it out"

lol

Posted by ladyjulia 08/14/2009 at 03:27 PM

Why is Roger making life so hard for himself?

Does he have anybody in his box? Luthi?

Posted by roadrunnerz 08/14/2009 at 03:27 PM

Wow. Major wasted opportunities there. Come on, Fed!!

Posted by Cathy in SD 08/14/2009 at 03:27 PM

Pspace are you a murray fan cause sometimes (a lot) you sound like you flove fed ?
I enjoy your comments - how do you find time to post so often ?
same for AM, Crazyone etc

Posted by vetmama - RF FTW!!! (please?) 08/14/2009 at 03:27 PM

I see, Pspace. You're spreading out your bets to decrease your loses.

Wuss.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President finally comes out of rehab and rejoices in Vamos Forever 08/14/2009 at 03:27 PM

Rogers return game,pfft.

Good hold by Joe there to come back

I am in love with Joes hair though.

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 03:28 PM

this is where if this was last year he'd get broken, since this is 2009 and old things are passed away, we will hope for a hold, no?!

Posted by FortuneCookie 08/14/2009 at 03:28 PM

Am I hearing Kylie,Do The Locomotion??Hehe,some 80's awesomeness right there!

Posted by yello fuzzy 08/14/2009 at 03:28 PM

great Caesars ghost! Dinara serving for the match....Have Champagne Kimmies bubbles gone flat!!!???

Posted by Jenni 08/14/2009 at 03:28 PM

LOL. Well, life as a Dinara fan can be pretty exciting, no?

Posted by lionheart 08/14/2009 at 03:28 PM

arghhh roger missed 2 bps cmon man of this aint gonna be to much
and jo ace to scaped .. i wonder if fed wasted them or jo saved it

cmon man you need to win
and meanwhile dina is serving for the match davai girl

Posted by sukhi 08/14/2009 at 03:28 PM

I hate it when Fed just misses a sitter so casually. Don't know what was he thinking!

Posted by Mr. X 08/14/2009 at 03:28 PM

Hi everyone.
I see i came just in time to watch the end of the 1st set. In the last 2 games, noth guys had options to break, but the biggest option was for Fed, who had an easy FH passing with the court open and to everyone's surprise (including himself) sent it long. Jo closed the game holding with an ace, he's up 5-4 and Fed will serve to stay in the set next.
I'm doing better in my "let's cheer for Fed" efforts. The reason is that after today's match, i think he can beat the vampire.

Posted by Tfactor 08/14/2009 at 03:29 PM

Darn she gets broken and it's 5 all!!!
Safina break back please NOW!!

Posted by ladyjulia 08/14/2009 at 03:29 PM

And kim breaks Dinara...5 all second set..

Posted by jb (Go Smiley Fed!!) 08/14/2009 at 03:29 PM

*hops up and down waving at vetmama*

how are you?! are you streaming this? oh my, that was a great return winner by jowilli. THAT's what i'd like fed to do more often.

Posted by greenhopper 08/14/2009 at 03:29 PM

that's it kid. run around that bh more often.

Posted by sokol 08/14/2009 at 03:29 PM

"Well, life as a Dinara fan can be pretty exciting, no?"

for sure :-)))
she gets broken while serving for the match :-(((
just when our hopes were up she lets it slip...
Come on, Dinara, break again...

Posted by Peg 08/14/2009 at 03:30 PM

"He always sounds like he's recovering from a cold?!"

Beckham, my impression is that he does get frequent colds. Can't find the specific quote I had in mind atm, but a quick yahoo-search brings up him getting asked "Do you have a cold?" @ at least 3 pressers in 2007 (one during AO, twice during Wimbledon).

Posted by Carl 08/14/2009 at 03:30 PM

Somehow, I just find it absurd that you (being a well known sports journalist) would so blatantly question Kim Clijsters "niceness". After all, hasn't her conduct in the past (when she was a full time player) prove her genuine "niceness". One case was that "heartbreaking" loss to Serena at the '03 Aussie semi. She really lost that match and yet, she was still conversing with Serena (re: not getting any cell phone signals in the locker room) as if they didn't just have that epic semi. besides, no matter what the results were of her matches, Kim never spoke ill of her opponent nor was she ever lacking in aknowledging the opponents' good play of the day. If anything, it is Serena (the ever ungracious loser) who should be getting the flak for she's always "suspiciously" gracious to her opponent (saying that "oh she was playing really well") during post match interviews only, and I mean only if she was the victor of a match.

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 03:30 PM

"The reason is that after today's match, i think he can beat the vampire."

Really, Mr. X? I don't see it so far... But he has been known to raise his game when he needs it, so we can always hope.. :-)

Posted by Pspace (Lestat Time!) 08/14/2009 at 03:30 PM

Cathy, hehe, I root for Fed, Muzz, Tsonga...in no particular order. Fed has already won so much this year, so I want the other two to do something.

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 03:30 PM

Another FH droppah?! Dude clay season is over..

Posted by Jake 08/14/2009 at 03:30 PM

Roger better not that previous game disappointment get to him in this 4-5 service game.

Learn from RAndy yesterday against Hott Sauce...

And just like that nice drop shot for 40-15!

Posted by mina hearts Rafa 08/14/2009 at 03:31 PM

nice ds fr Dina. Davai!

Posted by ladyjulia 08/14/2009 at 03:32 PM

And Kim DFs for the fifth time...

it seems that they can win games only on the other player's serve, not on their own

Posted by ladyjulia 08/14/2009 at 03:32 PM

And Kim DFs for the fifth time...

it seems that they can win games only on the other player's serve, not on their own

Posted by Mr. X 08/14/2009 at 03:32 PM

Jo did a bombastic return to get to 15 all, but Fed answered with a good serve and one of those DS that entertain him so much. Fed holds, and it's 5-5.
Jo seems to be willing to charge the net. I think that's a good strategy for him.

Posted by greenhopper 08/14/2009 at 03:32 PM

cheeky volley. 'nuff with the dramatic, mmkay?

Posted by vetmama 08/14/2009 at 03:32 PM

Mr. X, I wish I shared your confidence that Fed can beat Murray.
I'll believe it when I see it.
I think this tournie will go to Muzz.

Posted by sokol 08/14/2009 at 03:32 PM

Come on, Dinara, break!

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 03:32 PM

Tsonga very assured at the net.

Posted by Jake 08/14/2009 at 03:32 PM

The iNcOnSisTenT Dinara beginning to show up at Cincy?!

Tell me something I don't know!

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President finally comes out of rehab and rejoices in Vamos Forever 08/14/2009 at 03:33 PM

I hate my life right now

Safina you ******************************************

Posted by lionheart 08/14/2009 at 03:33 PM

And dude misses a sitter FH

well that answes my question ...i see now TB
but cmon fed how can you missed fh on bps if you win and do that with muzz youre gonna be toast

and dina gets broken .roll eyes

Posted by yello fuzzy 08/14/2009 at 03:33 PM

great hands by Zonger...but then a rushed FH error

Posted by Samantha Elin, supporter of all things Scandinavian 08/14/2009 at 03:33 PM

Well Cin is over for me, all my favorites are gone. The scoreline on Caro's match almost gave me a seizure, glad I was out for it. I picked Dina to win this match. Chris Fowler on Safina. Clisjster's is playing the "computer no 1."

Posted by Tfactor 08/14/2009 at 03:34 PM

it seems that they can win games only on the other player's serve, not on their own"

Not at a strange occurance in the WTA.

Safina breaks again. Now serve it out girl!!!!!!


What his name on ESPN2 (not BC or DC) love to use Safina as a punching bag

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 03:34 PM

Great approach from Tsonga to cut-off the reply to that dropshot. And Federer throws in another dropshot of his own!

Posted by Jake 08/14/2009 at 03:34 PM

SamElin,

Commies on Caro - I couldn't believe the scoreline either.

And hope no bad blood from last night?

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 03:35 PM

And another droppah, I guess it's still the new toy...and Tsonga returns the favour, misses a sitter FH

Posted by sokol 08/14/2009 at 03:35 PM

Dina breaks again and will try to serve for the match again... I hope she can, I don't want a TB

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 03:36 PM

Tsonga misses a simple FH but a Federer return error gives him another chance for 6-5. This time he puts away the Federer slice beautifully.

Posted by Pspace (Lestat Time!) 08/14/2009 at 03:36 PM

Wow! Sweet play by Jo. Drop shot, Fed picks it up, but voila Jo is at the net to knock away the volley 40-15. Droppah right back at you Jo 40-30. Ginsu return, missed approach for deuce. Getting tight. And, Jo holds with a good serve at deuce, followed by an approach winner. 5-6 Fed to serve.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President finally comes out of rehab and rejoices in Vamos Forever 08/14/2009 at 03:36 PM

Well I am not watching Safina this time

She can serve it out all by herself,pfft.

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 03:36 PM

Tsonga holds, the Fed to serve to get into a TB, hope he doesn't regret that sitter FH, that's what turns matches he could have served it out 6-4...should, coulda, woulda, whatevs...

Posted by mina hearts Rafa 08/14/2009 at 03:37 PM

hokay one more game Dina...

AM, u around to see Rafa/Elf? i'm not gonna be able to watch the match... duty calls. the religious kind :)

Posted by Jake 08/14/2009 at 03:37 PM

Never underestimate Dinara's ability to snatch defeat out of the claws of victory!

Posted by vetmama 08/14/2009 at 03:37 PM

JB!!!
*waves*

I'm streaming on my lunch break.
Hey, are you going to IW again?

Posted by Jenni 08/14/2009 at 03:37 PM

LOL AM. She's gotten very tentative these last two service games, and it's obnoxious. Oh and now there's a water bottle fail causing a delay. Great.

Posted by Mr. X 08/14/2009 at 03:38 PM

VC,
Muzz wasnt all that impressive today in my opinion. He deffended very well and benefit from Kolya's horrible day, mainly in the 1st set. Certainly not as over-the-top awesome as i think he was yesterday. The guy who played today is beatable, in my opinion. Not that it's gonna be easy, but it could happen.

That was a great game, as Tsonga holds to go up 6-5. He started the game playing well, and did a great DS that he followed to close the net. But he also did a couple of UFEs, and Fed wanted to prove that he can also have fun, with a great DS of his own. When they got to deuce, a good serve and a FH winner gave Jo the game. Fed serving now to force the TB.

Posted by sokol 08/14/2009 at 03:38 PM

Dina is 30-0... 2 points away... Davai!

Posted by mina hearts Rafa 08/14/2009 at 03:38 PM

Jake LOL. true dat. hence AM's Valiumfest during her matches

Posted by CherryNYC 08/14/2009 at 03:38 PM

Why can't Fed have a 6-2, 6-2 match just once or twice? My blood pressure would really appreciate it. I mean, I'm still not back to normal from RG, which I think caused me permanent nerve damage. Sigh. I sense a TB.

Posted by sokol 08/14/2009 at 03:38 PM

40-0, MP

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 03:39 PM

Encouraging rally, hits a couple of good forehands without missing. I have to say, Tsonga in a TB is a scary proposition with his serve.

Posted by Tfactor 08/14/2009 at 03:39 PM

And she does it at love, no less.
WTG, WTA #1!
Congrats to Safina and fans
Sorry Kim and fans.

Posted by greenhopper 08/14/2009 at 03:39 PM

He's not even touch those serves. I'd like flavored cream cheese with that mini-bagel.

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 03:39 PM

CherryNYC: I fear those matches are gone and never to return...it's all good though, maybe he can finally earn a WMB?! lol

Posted by Samantha Elin, supporter of all things Scandinavian 08/14/2009 at 03:39 PM

Jake, forgot all about it and thanks for the nice word. I can't believe how well Tsongas is playing. Not surprise on the Kim, Dina match. People were too quick to jump on the bandwagon. You can't be away from the game that long and come back where you left off. That is why I pick Dinara to win.

Posted by sukhi 08/14/2009 at 03:39 PM

Good love hold. Should give him rhythm for the TB. Although Tsonga has been serving well too, so 50-50.

Posted by yello fuzzy 08/14/2009 at 03:40 PM

the Federer drop shot is probably the one shot that has helped him most ,in this historic year( yeah the serve has been crucial as well as the FH, but that droppa has been 'like budda' since the French)

Posted by CherryNYC 08/14/2009 at 03:40 PM

Tiebreak!!!! I'm scared.

Posted by sokol 08/14/2009 at 03:40 PM

She did it!!!!! Did she serve at love for the match???
Dinara Safina stop the "magical run" of Kim Clijsters

Vodka beats champagne this time :-))) I guess it was stronger :-))

definetely will watch it later tonight...

Posted by lionheart 08/14/2009 at 03:40 PM

Yayyy dina finally close out the macth ..and a realy good run for kim
congrats to fellows dinas fans and commies for kims fans

ok TB time cmon fed

Posted by Mr. X 08/14/2009 at 03:40 PM

Easy hold for Fed, and we have a TB.
I didnt say that i'm sure Fed's gonna beat Muzz, all i said is that i think he's the only one who can do it, and i desperately want Lestat to lose in this tournament.

Posted by TennisFan3 08/14/2009 at 03:41 PM

""and i desperately want Lestat to lose in this tournament. ""

That's mean.

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 03:42 PM

fantabulous defense by the Fed or Tsonga should have done better...;)

Posted by Jake 08/14/2009 at 03:42 PM

Well, I learned something today:

I'm going to always root against Dinara. That's the only way she seems to win - which is my preference in the first place (hehe).

Commies Kimme fans - she's back, for sure!

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