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 Or 08/14/2009 at 05:06 PM

He's not serving well, either. Low ball toss, for some reason.

Come on Rogi, save another one.

Posted by Or 08/14/2009 at 05:06 PM

Oh, thank God.

Posted by Pspace (Lestat Time!) 08/14/2009 at 05:06 PM

C'mon Jo. End it here. Don't waste these MPs. Make him play. Oh darn!!! What a waste :-(((.

Posted by Tfactor 08/14/2009 at 05:06 PM

And he saves all three MPs Phew!!

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President finally comes out of rehab and rejoices in Vamos Forever 08/14/2009 at 05:06 PM

Heii how did he miss that

It was on the b/hand side as well

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 05:07 PM

Survives... by the skin of his teeth. Tsonga had that BH pass lined up. Still only deuce.

Posted by Whitney 08/14/2009 at 05:07 PM

Big "come on!" from Fed after Tsonga's FH goes long.

Posted by Or 08/14/2009 at 05:07 PM

Take it, Rogi!

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President finally comes out of rehab and rejoices in Vamos Forever 08/14/2009 at 05:07 PM

Roger says Come On

Yeah I do too

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 05:08 PM

deuce, misses a lined up Fh...dude just hold...get it to a TB at least...

Posted by Cathy in SD 08/14/2009 at 05:08 PM

I have a meeting at 2.30 - come on

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 05:08 PM

Shank. C'mon Fed, this is not the time. Atleast take it to a TB now that you've saved the MPs.

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 05:08 PM

he can NOT buy a first serve...

Posted by Or 08/14/2009 at 05:08 PM

Wasn't Roger suppose to play freely now? LOL, the stress of a tennis match never change...

Roger simply need a three-setter to play freely at the tail end of matches...

Posted by carnap 08/14/2009 at 05:09 PM

WHEW

Posted by thebigapple 08/14/2009 at 05:09 PM

Dude needs some sleep.

Posted by Whitney 08/14/2009 at 05:09 PM

Standing O for Roger - he holds. Tiebreak!

Posted by Tfactor 08/14/2009 at 05:09 PM

The girls in Cincy involved in a break fest while Fed holds for the TB

Posted by evie 08/14/2009 at 05:09 PM

there are no words.

OK, Fed. You got this.

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 05:09 PM

And he holds for 6all TB time...he doesn't deserve this match...unfreakingbelievable...

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 05:09 PM

TB time! I don't see Federer taking this tiebreak.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President finally comes out of rehab and rejoices in Vamos Forever 08/14/2009 at 05:09 PM

Phew he holds serve

Try to get your 1st serve back Roger for crying out loud.

Posted by Pspace (Lestat Time!) 08/14/2009 at 05:09 PM

Alright Tsonga. Just serve bombs. You have him. He thinks he should be home. Send him there.

Posted by Or 08/14/2009 at 05:09 PM

Standing O for that hold.

Now, win.

Posted by Mr. X 08/14/2009 at 05:10 PM

Oh, my God, Tsonga had it won. After a horrible start of the game bu Fed, with 2 ugly FH errors, he hit a great passing and had 3 MPs. And he should have won there. At 0-40, he had the chance of a makeable BH passing. And at 30-40, he had Fed down and out, with another easy BH passing, and he missed. He then made a couple of FH UFEs, and Fed held, even though he couldnt get a first serve in. You had a huge chance there, Jo. And you may very well regret it in the TB.

Posted by Cayman Karen (as defined by Ruth and Master Ace) and Bring on the FedTwins - 2 many names 08/14/2009 at 05:10 PM

I cannot watch this tie break, I just cannot.

Posted by roadrunnerz 08/14/2009 at 05:10 PM

How 'bout a first serve now, fed?

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 05:10 PM

He can not buy a first serve...he's going to lose the TB...FH pass bottom of net...le sigh...

Posted by rafaholic 08/14/2009 at 05:10 PM

No ways Tsonga, don't let those matchpoints get to you. Federer defended well......tie breaker aoooooch !!

Posted by Aube 08/14/2009 at 05:10 PM

Tsonga,even if you loose this match you've made my afternoon,all I like to see is a good competitive match...I usually like WTA tour better but I can't deny more and more it's lacking good competitive games,I guess because men are usually fitter and fiercer...

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 05:10 PM

He's soo tight hasn't hit a 1st serve yet...

Posted by Or 08/14/2009 at 05:10 PM

Blah. Blah. Blah.

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 05:10 PM

down a mini break already, still no 1st serve...

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President finally comes out of rehab and rejoices in Vamos Forever 08/14/2009 at 05:10 PM

Geez he stuffing up the volley too

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 05:10 PM

Just give it up man, what was that volley?

Posted by CherryNYC 08/14/2009 at 05:11 PM

Still can't watch.

Posted by Azhdaja 08/14/2009 at 05:11 PM

Chris Fowler is the best Tennis commentator out there.

Posted by mick1303 08/14/2009 at 05:11 PM

I don't like this mention of low toss. It may be a bad back again (God forbid). He was relying too much on his serve lately...

Posted by greenhopper 08/14/2009 at 05:11 PM

Why do you keep doing this to me, Jo?

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 05:12 PM

OK, can you get this next point as well?

Posted by thebigapple 08/14/2009 at 05:12 PM

Murray must be sharpening his chops...if Fed makes it.

Posted by Cathy in SD 08/14/2009 at 05:12 PM

still want him to win everything but realize he can't

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 05:12 PM

The Fed needs his 1st serve like right now...

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President finally comes out of rehab and rejoices in Vamos Forever 08/14/2009 at 05:12 PM

Brain sanp with the drop volley on a h/court Joe,where you were from think!!!!

Posted by Pspace (Lestat Time!) 08/14/2009 at 05:12 PM

Aaargh Jo! Now is not the time to get too cute. WTF. That's better. Wow! 226kph bomb. Me likey :-).

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 05:12 PM

Nope. Ace. This is where Fed gets mini-broken. :-(

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 05:13 PM

Dude still can't buy a first serve...

Posted by Or 08/14/2009 at 05:13 PM

Lucky Lucky. It needn't be that close....

Posted by Mr. X 08/14/2009 at 05:13 PM

And they change sides at 3-3. Tsonga had the early mini-break after Fed missed a volley, but Fed got it back when he reached a DS and won the point at the net.

Posted by rafaholic 08/14/2009 at 05:13 PM

I could be wrong, but I don't think JWT has the nerves to win this tie breaker.

Posted by carnap 08/14/2009 at 05:14 PM

Fed shaking his head

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 05:14 PM

There you go. Tsonga with the minibreak for 4-3, just like in the first set.

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 05:14 PM

He still hasn't hit a first serve in the TB, Jo with another mini break...unfreakingbelievable!!! WTF happened to the serve?!

Posted by Or 08/14/2009 at 05:14 PM

We're just lucky he wasn't serving like this in the Wimby final.

The Swiss fans in the crowd are in a major freak-out mode.

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 05:14 PM

The match is on Jo's racket 5-3

Posted by Or 08/14/2009 at 05:15 PM

Yup. His serve totally gone.

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 05:15 PM

3 more MPs...UNFREAKINGBELIEVABLE...Roger Federer I flove you and all but your'e just ridiculous...

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President finally comes out of rehab and rejoices in Vamos Forever 08/14/2009 at 05:15 PM

Roger cant get or buy a 1st serve

Posted by roadrunnerz 08/14/2009 at 05:15 PM

Oh Fed. *sigh*

Posted by creig bryan 08/14/2009 at 05:15 PM

Go Jo Willie! Go Jo Willie!

I never would have expected this, but it sure was fun to watch.
I also didn't think Tsonga would win the 3rd set TB. DF.

Keep Smiling

Posted by manuelsantanafan 08/14/2009 at 05:15 PM

It's the twins.

Federer looks exhausted. Those are huge bags under his eyes.

On the positive side, Federer appears to have more definition and mass on his left arm. He must be lugging both little darlings with that left appendage.

Kudos to Federer for fighting off three match points.

Posted by Master Ace 08/14/2009 at 05:15 PM

Roger escapes 3 match points(0-40) to force deciding tiebreaker

R = Roger Federer
J = Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Jo-Wilfried to serve 7-6(5),1-6,6-all

J 1-0 Roger nets CC FH passing shot as Jo-W came to net
J 2-0 Roger nets volley as he came in behind 2nd serve
J 2-1 Jo-W BH return wide
2-all Roger gets to drop shot by Jo-W and get FH winner into open court
J 3-2 Jo-W Ace at the T
3-all Roger steps inside the court and hit FH winner
Roger is struggling with his first serve
J 4-3 Roger FH long
J 5-3 Jo-W FH winner set up by good serve at the T
J 6-3 Jo-W Ace at the T
Jo-W wins the match as Roger DF

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeated Roger Federer 7-6(5),1-6,7-6(3)

Posted by greenhopper 08/14/2009 at 05:15 PM

oh brother, a double.
Sorry, fans for Fed.

Tssssssongaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! :)

Posted by Or 08/14/2009 at 05:16 PM

I just can't believe it.

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 05:16 PM

Congratulations to Tsonga and his fans, great comeback. I like the guy and I hope he is sufficiently recovered from that fall to challenge Murray tomorrow. I have no words for this performance from Federer.

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 05:16 PM

And donates the match on a DF?!!!! WTF just happened?! someone explain it to me?!

Posted by Or 08/14/2009 at 05:16 PM

Just beat Murray tomorrow.

Posted by yello fuzzy 08/14/2009 at 05:16 PM

yahoo!!!! what a win!!!!!!

Posted by rafadoc 08/14/2009 at 05:16 PM

In the immortal words of Harry Carey, "Holy Cow"

Posted by Whitney 08/14/2009 at 05:16 PM

Omg on a Double???? Fed!!!!

Tsonga takes out Fed... hmmmmmm

Sorry fellow Fed fans.. on to the next one. He can go play with his little girls.

Jo Willy!!

Posted by Cathy in SD 08/14/2009 at 05:16 PM

what happened with his serve - hope his back is ok

Posted by Pspace (Lestat Time!) 08/14/2009 at 05:16 PM

Yay! Tsonga takes it!

Congrats to fellow Tsonga fans. Commiserations to (fellow) Fed fans. Jejeje...this is amusing.

Posted by Samantha Elin, supporter of all things Scandinavian 08/14/2009 at 05:17 PM

Wow! What a comeback from Tsonga, sorry to the Roger fans. Upsets all over the place.

Posted by Cayman Karen (as defined by Ruth and Master Ace) and Bring on the FedTwins - 2 many names 08/14/2009 at 05:17 PM

And then after fighting back he double faults on match points. Wherever it is in the world, it is happy hour here in Cayman. The Roger Federer commiseration bar is now open *hands out Red Stripe, Fedrinkas, Appleton and anything else of an alcoholic nature that you guys want. The bar is OPEN. This sucks big time.

Posted by Tfactor 08/14/2009 at 05:17 PM

Wow to end on a double fault???!!!!
So sorry for Roger Federer and fans (including me and my draw)

But I am also happy for Tsonga. Good for him to come back from a double break in the third!!!!!!!!!!
Congrats to him and all his fans!

Meanwhile Flavia has been trying to hold for the match but unable to convert something like 5 or 6 MP

Posted by sally 08/14/2009 at 05:17 PM

roger should have stayed home with the babies. no excuse to lose this when you are leading 5-1.

Posted by rafaholic 08/14/2009 at 05:17 PM

Oh oh..time to go and change those diapers I guess. Well done Tsonga, you almost lost it there.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President finally comes out of rehab and rejoices in Vamos Forever 08/14/2009 at 05:17 PM

Allez Joe what a match,I am still schell shocked

Congrats from coming back from hell.


Roger how quickly things can change in a match

Your serve let you down when most needed.Bad luck.

Posted by Aube 08/14/2009 at 05:17 PM

This is how you know everybody gets tight!hahahah,I'm so happy Tsonga won!!!,first I was going to skip the gym, but you give me so much energy I'm probably going to double the amount of time I'm going to spend there,hahaha....

Posted by roadrunnerz 08/14/2009 at 05:17 PM

I KNEW those commentators were jinxing him when they kept talking about Fed playing Murray tomorrow. Kept thinking, "Dudes, the match isn't over yet!"

Posted by Mr. X 08/14/2009 at 05:17 PM

Tsonga with the mini-break, to go up 4-3. And after a great FH winner, it's 5-3. And now an ace. 6-3, and 3 more MPs.
And he gifts the match with a DF. What was it, Rog? You wanted to spend the weekend with the girls? UN-FREAKING-BELIEVEABLE. Fed, i just got remebered not to cheer for you. It doesnt work for either one of us. And the No.2 ranking is virtually gone. I dont know what is more unlikely, Nadal beating Delpo or Tsonga beating Lestat.
Bah.

Posted by Whitney 08/14/2009 at 05:17 PM

I blame Fowler - who during the Murray match kept talking about Murray/Fed. Way to jinx it Chris. lol

Posted by Cayman Karen (as defined by Ruth and Master Ace) and Bring on the FedTwins - 2 many names 08/14/2009 at 05:18 PM

And now my tv decides to come back. I guess the clouds have left. This is a freaking disaster.

Posted by Azhdaja 08/14/2009 at 05:18 PM

Tsonga won!
I am surprised federer made so far.
Did Federer shake umpire's hand this time?

Posted by sally 08/14/2009 at 05:18 PM

but then he wouldn't have beat murray, so maybe he lost on purpose.

Posted by evie 08/14/2009 at 05:18 PM

Well, that was as ugly as it gets, but a fitting end, I guess. His serve disappeared.

Congrats to Jo-Willy. Great comeback. This was a tourney for Fed that was sort of playing with house money, as they say, so it's fine to lose. How he lost is going to scare him, but maybe now he won't assume the guy has given up when he is up 5-1. Momentum makes such a difference in this absurd sport. Absurd in a good way, of course.

Posted by Sunshine Breeze' 08/14/2009 at 05:18 PM

So much for Murray/Federer:( Sorry Fed fans....Allez Tsonga;)

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 05:18 PM

The rich tradition of Federer contriving to lose matches despite winning more points continues... And I still hate best-of-3 set matches.

Posted by CherryNYC 08/14/2009 at 05:18 PM

At least it's over. That was just ridiculous. Not that I expected him to win the whole thing, but to be up 5-1 in the third? Is something wrong with his back?

I think this is Murray's for the taking, IMO.

Posted by jb (Go Smiley Fed!!) 08/14/2009 at 05:18 PM

unbelievable. but sadly, very believable.

so black matt. remember what i said about not minding if my guy loses? if he plays well? well, this would be one that i mind losing because he blew it! tsonga upped his level as fed lost his focus. sigh.

it also proves what you can do if you stop moping.

good job for jo willi for playing brilliantly when it mattered.

whew - 2 more matches to go, i'm pooped.

Posted by Master Ace 08/14/2009 at 05:18 PM

Flavia Pennetta is in the Top 10 alone as she wins 3 and 3 over Daniela Hantuchova

Posted by Cayman Karen (as defined by Ruth and Master Ace) and Bring on the FedTwins - 2 many names 08/14/2009 at 05:19 PM

As one of the biggest Roger Federer fans around here, that my dear friends is what you call a tank. Done very nicely, but a tank none the less.

Posted by thebigapple 08/14/2009 at 05:19 PM

I think this is the first time Tsonga beat Roger. Good going, Willie. The bigger concern is if Fed's back is a problem again. I hope not....the serve issues not good.

But more time for bambinos, not bad. Like the post marriage Monte Carlo venture, sometimes Rog should just stay home.

Played flat and poorly this entire tourney.

Posted by Tfactor 08/14/2009 at 05:19 PM

Finally, Flavia defeats Daniela 6-3, 6-3

Wow I'm still in shock and thinking I kept jinxing Fed by looking ahead to the potential semi with Murray

Posted by Andrew 08/14/2009 at 05:19 PM

OK, that was weird.

Congratulations to Tsonga fans. Commiserations to Federer fans.

Tsonga wins 94/103, or 48% to 52%. Strangest lucky ducky I've ever seen. Federer started goofing off at 1-5 on Tsonga's serve, and then completely lost the plot - it was one of those days when his head seemed to go, and Tsonga mixed up rolling the ball back into play with going for broke. I'd have put my house on Federer serving it out, but then I don't own a house.

It's lucky I'm at work and there aren't any cats around...

Posted by VC 08/14/2009 at 05:20 PM

I doubt Federer will win a MS tourney in his life again.. :-(

Posted by Azhdaja 08/14/2009 at 05:20 PM

sally, I am sure Federer lost on purpose to aoid further turmoil.

Posted by Arun 08/14/2009 at 05:20 PM

congrats to Tsonga Kads.

Posted by Samantha Elin, supporter of all things Scandinavian 08/14/2009 at 05:20 PM

Hi Patrick, do you know what time the hot mess match starts? Thanks.

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis?! Pffftttt!!!) 08/14/2009 at 05:20 PM

I'm sorry but he totally gave that match away with WTF errors while serving for the match twice, the last 2 service games and the TB he didn't hit a 1st serve not even once...whatevs there's just being outplayed and there's this, he is going to be completely pissed off at himself during his interview, rightfully so, dude whatevs...

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