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Contrary Optimism 01/12/2010 - 2:26 PM

95663949 by Pete Bodo

Howdy, folks. I hope you all check out our latest podcast (or just click on the icon on the Tennis home page). The sound quality is much better than in the past, because golden-throated Andy Nelson (who does the canned intro to each weekly broadcast) sprang for a few first-class microphones for us.

Ever see a broadcast of a radio show, and how the talent (does that word apply to us, too?) always have their face and lips right up against a mike suspended in a cage dangling from a boom? We've got that whole deal going now, and I think it improves the product. I'll be curious to hear your opinion about the quality, as well as the content of this latest effort.

We tackled two subjects in the podcast: the Henin vs. Clijsters final in Brisbane, and the Davis Cup story I broke, about Andy Roddick and James Blake taking a pass on the U.S. ties for 2010. Let me elaborate on a few of the comments I made on both subjects of the podcast (I've already made some comments on the Clijsters-Henin issue in a post on ESPN's site).

You know, I'd rather have seen either of those women win this match, 7-5, 6-4, just to avoid the inevitable question that now must dominate the discussion: Are we just going to return to the same-old, same-old, (with mental basket-case Kimmy battling self-dramatizing Justine, she of the beautiful game?) in matches that may be unpredictable (but not in a good way) and exciting (in the same way that a six-car crash is  "exciting")?

Sure, it was good drama, in only a Battle of Antietam way (there was so much smoke, fire, panic and agony that after a while you couldn't even tell who was who). Frankly, it made me long for a far less spectacular kind of match - one in which the players split 6-4 sets, and one of them manages to come back from 2-4 down in the third to win with a service hold.

Of course, when we mention the "H" world, we're veering sharply from the WTA game, but nevertheless. .  . I'm still holding out hope (another "H" word) that someone not named Williams is going to be able to go out there and serve like she gets paid for it. I am, after all, an optimist - as well as an accused contrarian.

One of the funny things about these chaotic shootouts that are so indiscriminately billed as great matches is that they show how conditioned we are to entertainment value. A tennis match featuring a gazillion service breaks and double-faults galore addresses our appetite for sensation, which the purveyors of media have been feeding and increasing in what amounts to an escalating cycle for a long time now. I sometimes wonder, does anyone still want to see a good, old-fashioned, tight, well-played tennis match featuring excellent shotmaking, a lack of conspicuous emotional stress, and maybe two or three critical service breaks?

Why don't we just hit the fast-forward button on this issue and leap right to a future in which a tennis has a best-of-seven tiebreakers format, one instead of two serves, and a playing surface slow enough to ensure that we'll have wild rallies that don't just level the playing field, but turn it into a giant-sized craps table?

I just keep thinking, a player who leads a best-of-three match by a set and two breaks should only lose if she breaks a leg, or the other player truly gets into the zone and unloads a stream of unanswerable winners. I'll leave it to you to decide whether or not Justine did that in Brisbane.

95711441 On the Davis Cup issue, I must say I'm puzzled by Roger Federer's pattern of showing up to play relegation ties, and then abandoning the team - ensuring that Switzerland will have no chance whatsoever in the World Group, and will face another relegation ("playoff," in Davis Cup parlance) tie come September. Why the hail does he bother? Just so Stan Wawrinka and company can go and get their fannies tanned in the first or second round yet again?

But maybe it makes sense, in a warped kind of way. Roger can say that he commits to Davis Cup every year - just don't read the fine print. I'm too lazy to check, but the Greatest Player of All Time may have found his way into the record books through the back door, while rivals like Andy Roddick and Rafael Nadal enter through the front. Roger may wind up as the best playoff-round performer in Davis Cup history. 

A less bizarre but more interesting - and sad - issue is the seeming decline of Davis Cup in nations that, unlike the USA in the Roddick-Blake years, have enthusiastically embraced the competition. Nadal is lucky; Spain is strong enough as a nation to fire up its fans win without him. Great Britain is unlucky, in that the kingdom is too weak to win, even with Andy Murray. And the Swiss tread water, ever hopeful that Federer will turn his attention to the Davis Cup. Didn't it used to be the USA that looked like the Davis Cup deadbeat, consistently failing to produce dedicated Davis Cup workhorses to follow the trail blazed by the likes of Arthur Ashe and John McEnroe?

All of us know the problems inherent in the Davis Cup format; regrettably, those "flaws" are also the sources of its considerable charms and legitimacy as a truly competitive event (the chief among them, of course, is the host-visitor format that gives the top players insufficient advance warning of where they're expected to play next, and on what surface). 

Most of the "solutions" put forth would destroy Davis Cup as we know it. I'm especially nonplussed by the idea that, somehow, playing it every two years would solve the competition's problems. Let me get this right: You want to take the world's biggest and best annual international team competition and turn it into. . . Ryder Cup?

Is Roger Federer going to be more inclined to sacrifice (or believe he's sacrificing) chances to win majors every other year, just because it's marginally more appealing than taking the hit every year? Major titles don't come so easily for anyone, including Roger, for him to be able to halve his career opportunities. If the guy thinks he can't win majors and play Davis Cup, it's an open and shut case. More - or less - power to him.

U.S. Davis Cup captain Pat McEnroe has thought plenty about this issue. The potential solution he favors is playing the first two rounds under the present format, then bringing the four semifinalists together at a neutral or rotating site to battle it out for the championship. That would cut back the time commitment (although not by that much), and create something like a fifth Grand Slam in the late fall. It would undoubtedly have loads of star power, and an all-star cast- something not every final can claim. But I'm not sure that approach would be more appealing to the Federers and Murrays of this world.

In any event, I'm really disappointed that Federer won't be available when Spain opens its title defense at home against Switzerland. Slotted for the first week in March, the first-round of Cup play won't have any repercussions whatsoever for a player hoping to do well in the majors this year. It may have a negative impact on those hoping to do well at Indian Wells and Miami, but that seems a small price to pay.

A Federer vs. Nadal Davis Cup showdown, in any round, would add a chapter to the already rich history of their rivalry, and a Federer win would go a long way toward recapturing some of the thunder Nadal stole from him. What could be better, for those who worship at the altar of Federer, than to see him lead the Swiss into Plaza de Toros in Lagrono in March, and leave that historic bullring with a win? Does anyone think so little of Roger's game that they think that couldn't happen?

Which brings up my final point. Unlike the UK, Switzerland with its top star in harness would be a major contender for the Davis Cup championship. And doesn't that beat being the best team every to dominate the playoffs?

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Posted by CL 01/12/2010 at 05:50 PM

"rather Mankind climb the cell two minutes in."

Grant - code just broke.

Posted by Grant 01/12/2010 at 05:52 PM

Also: could somebody explain to me how playing DC is representing your country, while playing a major is not? Because whenever Fed or Nadal win a tournament, their country is mentioned. Will Switzerland win territorial concessions in Alsace if they win DC this year, or something?

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 01/12/2010 at 05:52 PM

Well for me Rafa playing Rotterdam so quickly after the AO is again Total Madness

Thats where the intial damage started to his knees.He picked up a knee ligament probelm there.I watched through out the ongoing tournaments and saw how his knees were Fading.Gee that match with Novak in Madrid was the icing on the cake.I knew then he had lttle hope of retaining his RG Crown.He came out months later and said he was playing in pain himself.

Rafa wake up,cause I have followed you from day 1.Your knee problem will always ber ongoing.I thought by now you and your team realised this,aprrently not.

I can see the same thing happening again this year.

He has to drop Rotterdam and give up a clay tournament eg Barcelona he is not a Machine.

Posted by Mr. X 01/12/2010 at 05:54 PM

Grant, that was awesome. Really.
By the way, i prefer mankind up in the cell 2 minutes in. Although i guess you probably expected it:)

Posted by Carrie 01/12/2010 at 05:56 PM


Frankly- I am thrilled that he is taking off three weeks after Rotterdam to be honest. That is more than he has previously scheduled iirc and I am glad that Dubai is not on his schedule. I also see him giving up Madrid before he gives up Barcelona. They squeeze the main Euro clay season into such a small period of time (April to the beginning of June) so if one of the five clay tournaments that he is usually singed up for all year is to be cut- I think it will be Madrid.

Posted by ladyjulia 01/12/2010 at 05:56 PM

"Does anyone think so little of Roger's game that they think that couldn't happen?"

I, for one, Pete..don't think it will happen. Roger against Rafa...on clay...Davis spain..five sets will have Rafa as the winner.

Roger's record against Rafa on clay is 2-9. And both those wins came with three setters.

A five setter clay win against Rafa for Roger? I'll believe it when i see it.

Posted by CL 01/12/2010 at 05:56 PM

At Roland Garros, they even play the national anthem of the winner of the final. Of course, that is balanced out by the fact that at the USOpen they play the national anthem of whichever bank has kicked in the most shrimp cocktail to the after parties.

Posted by rafadoc 01/12/2010 at 05:57 PM

AM: First, thanks for your fabulous reports!

Second, I agree-I mean, I am glad he has scheduled 3 weeks off and said "no" to Dubai, but Rotterdam still seems a stretch after AO. Maybe he will w/d depending on how he feels.

I love DC, btw. Glad Rafa plays it but hope he sits round 1 out, like his schedule indicates.

Posted by Mr. X 01/12/2010 at 05:58 PM

Dont waste your energy, AM. It wont work. The guy is as stubbron as it gets.
That's true, but i guess the difference is that in a major, the player is the champion, whereas in the DC, it's the country that's the champion.
Of course, i'm fully aware that it's not really the country, and that countries dont actually win anything because of it, but that's the same for every sports competition played by nations, and some are still very very big.

Posted by Jackie 01/12/2010 at 05:59 PM

"I will agree in code: Some people like the "face on fire->cheap shot by heel->face in peril->big comeback" formula, and some would rather Mankind climb the cell two minutes in."

Grant, you complete me. But you already knew that.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 01/12/2010 at 06:00 PM

Starting at 3:00 of the following video, Kimiko Date Krumm's well-reasoned thoughts on the Davis Cup format and Federer's legacy if he becomes the ONLY male tennis player of the last fifty years to win six majors and never lead his country to a Davis Cup title:

Posted by Ruth 01/12/2010 at 06:02 PM

Amen to your 5:30, adicecream!

I am willing to listen and accept all reasons/excuses from any player who doesn't want to play DC, even though I don't think that offering them is necessary -- even though fans sure love to do so on their behalf.

But--- puhleaze, spare us that old chestnut about traveling to different time zones to play two matches on a different surface, NOT when the same players we're talking about, the stars of the tennis firmament (Roger, Rafa et al) seem very willing to fly the equivalent of from Timbuktu where they were playing on grass to Antarctica to play 2 or 3 exo matches on Anarctica hard courts and back to Timbuktu for more grass play. :)

I have always been sympathetic about the stress of worldwide travel being one of the major, major difficulties of modern tennis. I have even given the back of my hand more than once to a certain -- ahem! -- TW lead writer (with the initials PB) when he has annoyed me by writing as if flying around the globe to play tennis is a snap.

But I will NOT cry for those who can manage travel and changes when they choose (for exos) and would use travel and surface changes as excuses when DC or some other situation beckons. No, no, no, no, no!

Posted by Tfactor 01/12/2010 at 06:03 PM

In case you're over here, I left you a reply (delayed because I was in between work and reaching home) on the other thread :)

"The guy is as stubbron as it gets"
I've given up trying to understand his reasoning. I'm just hoping he's not involved in some insane five setters in Australia again *sigh*

Posted by ladyjulia 01/12/2010 at 06:04 PM


Roger is playing till 2012 or beyond if possible...he will still have many chances to win DC.

Posted by antoinette 01/12/2010 at 06:05 PM

Why did I even bother to read this piece ? the trailer gave it away...Federer dodging DC? Mr. Bodo really? What possible chance do the Swiss have against a Spanish side on clay to win the tie even with Federer in the team. The last I heard a player was not allowed to play all the rubbers including the doubles , because that is what Federer would have to do for the Swiss to have a chance at winning this tie, especially considering that Wawrinka will not play either. Isn't is hypocritical of you to continue to bash Federer for his choices re DC when you know the situation is not as clear cut for him as you would like us to believe? If Federer had given his all to the DC as you seem to be demanding I doubt he would be the holder of 15 GS and no doubt you would rip him for being an under achiever.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 01/12/2010 at 06:05 PM

Corrie Madrid is a Masters series mandatory tournament,unless injured Rafa has to play or if he uses a Mickey Mouse excuse will lose points etc

I will be interested to see how Madrid plays this year,given the fact is was new.Clay does take some to "settle"

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 01/12/2010 at 06:06 PM

oops sorry that post was menat for Carrie

Posted by Mr. X 01/12/2010 at 06:07 PM

As for Rafa's schedule not including DC 1st round, it could be the case of him not putting it because the captain hasnt called him for that tie yet, but i doubt he will sit it out. As i said, there's big pressure in Spain for him to play it. Yes, i know it's a little unfair, but that's the way it is.
I agree with Carrie that if he were to skip some tournament in Spain (not very likely, IMO), it would rather be Madrid than Barcelona, because he doesnt really like that tournament all that much, I wouldnt mind it if only for the effect of showing the middle finger to the Evil Blue Lord it would have: "I gave you enough money last year killing myself in that SF, Evil One!"
Also, one fact that proves that Spain is probably feeling extremely confident about the Switzerlad tie: the bullring of Logroño, where the tie is gonna be played, is at 400 metres of altitude. Now, it would be wuite the shocker if Fed changed his mind. I could imagine the Spanish DC guys saying: "Can we change it? Can we change it?". Actually, what surprises me more of the decission isnt that it's being played in altitude (Fed is not gonna change his mind), but that id ont think Logroño is exactly a guarantee of good weather in the first weekend of March. At all. It could very well be pretty cold, and it could very well rain. I though it was sure it was gonna be Tenerife, in the Canary Islands.

Posted by Grant 01/12/2010 at 06:07 PM

"Of course, that is balanced out by the fact that at the USOpen they play the national anthem of whichever bank has kicked in the most shrimp cocktail to the after parties."

Oh Citibank! Oh Citibank!
Behold your us'ry fair!
Oh Citibank! Sweet Citibank!
No other banks compare.

Your polished counters shining
Your tellers underpaid
When interest rates are climbing
You've really got it made

Oh Citibank! Oh Citibank!
We cannot get enough!
Oh Citibank! Sweet Citibank!
Keep sponsoring our stuff.

Posted by tennisesq. 01/12/2010 at 06:10 PM

"Of course, that is balanced out by the fact that at the USOpen they play the national anthem of whichever bank has kicked in the most shrimp cocktail to the after parties."

CL, laughing out loud!

Posted by Mr. X 01/12/2010 at 06:10 PM

AM, but as you said, he could give a Mickey Mouse excuse alleging an injury. Of course, he would get a 0, but i doubt he would be farther penalised, specially given his injury history.
Did you see the photo i left in yesterday's thread?

Posted by Grant 01/12/2010 at 06:10 PM

"That's true, but i guess the difference is that in a major, the player is the champion, whereas in the DC, it's the country that's the champion."

I coulda swore that the players are the ones that actually play and win in Davis Cup.

Attention top tennis players: at the Grant Invitational, if you win, it's actually Santa Claus that wins. So you'd better play unless you want to be labeled as anti-Santa.

Posted by zenggi 01/12/2010 at 06:11 PM


You say in your comment at 4:55 that the information I give "loses significance because none of those players (Sampras, McEnroe, Agassi) was in the position vis a vis his country's need for him to play as Roger is".

This is IMO the first argument against the DC format as it is played. The USA has 308,5 million population. Switzerland 7,6 million. How to compensate this huge disproportion?. A probability and outcome discussion.

"Also, when countries have lots of good players, they often excuse their "star" players from the first round (or don't mind if they skip it) when they feel sure that can win Rd 1 without them".

Exactly. Does Switzerland get byes because of above mentioned disproportion?. No. It's remarkable that the only criticism to Federer comes from the USA. None from Europe.

"At present, the Swiss would need Roger in all rounds, and he has decided that he can't do that. Fine. Then, as I said a few days ago, why keep them in the World Group? DC is more than the WG (there are tennis federations all over the world who gain 50% or more of their annual budget funds from DC play)"

The DC Final has cost 1,75 million dollars to the city of Barcelona. It was a huge success of public attendance, TV rights and sponsors. How many countries can spend that amount of money to organize a DC event? I refer you to the DC Rules and Regulations. Chapter Finance page 25. If the ITF is so interested in promoting tennis, they should help and compensate the poor countries instead of distributing the revenue among the countries in the World Group. They are playing Davis Cup and that's a privilege in itself, right?

Posted by Pete 01/12/2010 at 06:12 PM

Alexis, if you describe what I wrote as "ripping" Federer, you are a far more sensitive soul than your confrontional comments suggest. What can I tell you? I think Davis Cup is a great event and players who skip it lose out, in both the experience and historical record. So kill me.

Keep the gun loaded, though, because it's not like I'm the only one to hold this opinion.

Posted by Jamaica Karen 01/12/2010 at 06:14 PM

Alexis, Andy would say that playing for his country and winning DC is something that he would do over and over again if he had the choice, but we as fans have sat here and watched him year and after year, coach after coach, retool his game and say that he is ready. We all sat here on that Sunday evening last year and watched him grow balls like he has never grown before and I, even I as a Fed fan felt sorry for him when he finally got broken and lost the match. I feel he deserves more than one Grand Slam in his career. If Fed had a Blake all the time, or a competent doubles team, I am sure that he would make DC a priority. The fact is that he does not.
Glad that I could put a smile on folks' face with the Clijster comment. She was doing what JJ and CWoz are now doing or were doing in the case of JJ

Posted by Pspace (Lookin' for Court No. 3) 01/12/2010 at 06:16 PM

LOL, MSF. I second Ms. Date-Krumm's comments.

Posted by rafadoc 01/12/2010 at 06:16 PM

Fed et al have arrived in Melbourne. Looks like an early practice...maybe avoiding the twin's bath duties.... ;-)

*waves at Pete* Howdy. :)

Posted by Mr. X 01/12/2010 at 06:18 PM

But Grant, what is the name just close to the year "2009" in the list of DC champions? Is it "Spain" or is it "Nadal, Verdasco, Ferrer, Lopez"?
It's the same with the World Cup. Italy is the current champion, and that's the way it's written, not the names of the 23 players.
Of course, you could be just making your comments tongue-in-cheek. In that case, just ignore me, since i'm ready to take anything coming from you after the Mankind analogy.

Posted by CL 01/12/2010 at 06:18 PM

Oh Bank of America
Your Bonus flag so large

Oh Bank of America
From Sea of Shining SubPrimes
To Sea of Foreclosure Signs

Oh Bank of America
Your Debt so red,
Our pockets so bled,

Oh Bank of America
Fudge you!

Posted by MikeDC 01/12/2010 at 06:19 PM

I second what Mr. X wrote...

I get the appeal of the hold-hold-hold-break script that *some* matches follow. However if you decide you will only like women's tennis (and not just individual players) when this script becomes as common as it is on the men's side... well, you probably never have and never will really enjoy women's tennis.

The top women will always have more breaks (on average) than the top men. Always have. Serena and Venus are somewhat of exceptions becuase, well... they are exceptional servers and players. But they get broken more than a Federer, Nadal, Roddick does. In the 80's and 90's all of the women weren't consistently holding serve (though the better ones usually have better serves - Exceptions: Evert, Hingis, Seles for a time).

I saw Justine / Cljisters on TTC repeat. Good match, Great Drama, Excellent shotmaking, and yep lots of dopey errors. More entertaining and better played than any of the women's slam finals (considering the level of both, not just the winner) last year - including Venus/Serena at Wimbledon.

Basically, what I'm saying is that matches with lots of breaks CAN be fun to watch and can represent quality tennis. Not always, but definitely sometimes. (the tears and coaches are another matter...)

Posted by ladyjulia 01/12/2010 at 06:21 PM

I think Roger is doing the right thing by not playing the DC tie..the chances that Stan is going to be there is slim to none..and the opponent is sure to win. What's the point of going of putting yourself at risk of injury by playing three days of five setters on clay in the middle of the HC season when you know you are going to go deep in tourneys before the tie and immediately after the tie?

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 01/12/2010 at 06:23 PM

Well I Rafa ever gave a Mickey Mouse excuse

He has lost me forever

All players have to play the Masters series,Rafa's history of injuries is not a question

If Rafa,which I hope dosent get injured before Madrid,does have a injury well that is ok

He has to look at his playing schedule,like everyone else

I he wished to play every bloody tournament know to man and then some

It will be the Same Old Same old.Goodness me I have watched it happern for how long now.pfft.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 01/12/2010 at 06:25 PM

Hey Pete please dont die???

Are you coming Down Under for the AO?

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 01/12/2010 at 06:25 PM

Hey, everyone. :)

Well, I watched all of the first two sets of the Brisbane final and the last half and TB of the third, and I thought it was a good match with great shotmaking from both players. Yes, there were DFs, frustration, and nerviness - but there was also beautiful, intelligent, gutsy and committed play. There was a pretty good show of heart from Kim to come back in the third after losing the second so badly, and a rivalry context that made that particularly interesting. Combinations of play and drama (of whatever kind - choking, racquet-breaking, context etc) seem to me to make the matches we talk about for a long time, no? I don't think for me it will ever be about pure play.

I'll admit to disliking the "Henin and Clijsters Save the WTA!" tone of some of the stuff though. :)

I am beginning to be slightly sick of the saga of Federer and the DC, to be quite honest. The very top players can't do everything (and perhaps they shouldn't be trying), and for better or for worse I guess Federer has decided that DC isn't as high on his priority list as other things at this moment. I think that's up to him really...if nothing else, his playing record will be fodder for the GOAT debates. ;-)

Although, I would've really liked to see a Rafa-Roger DC match, on clay, hard courts, grass courts, magic carpet - anything - in Spain, Switzerland, whatever, and I'm disappointed that we won't get one this year.

robbyfan - but would you watch or care about DC if it was once every two years? It seems to me that people either get the appeal or they don't, and if they don't they probably won't if it's biannual, either.

It's also funny to me sometimes how much of getting or not getting the DC appeal is about what one's favourite player does or doesn't do in the competition. :)

Posted by Grant 01/12/2010 at 06:29 PM

"But Grant, what is the name just close to the year "2009" in the list of DC champions? Is it "Spain" or is it "Nadal, Verdasco, Ferrer, Lopez"?"

Gotcha. It's a combination of listing conventions and the power of make-believe.

"Of course, you could be just making your comments tongue-in-cheek. In that case, just ignore me, since i'm ready to take anything coming from you after the Mankind analogy."

Well yeah, the tongue is def in cheek, but it's partly me having a game of 'let's play Socrates!' and partly annoyance that stems from the constant bombardment of Winter Olympics ads that I'm currently subjected to and their dubious alchemy that states that when some short track speed skater (or whatever) wins a medal I am somehow also winning something by virtue of coming from the same country as him.

Posted by mcakron 01/12/2010 at 06:29 PM

My own thought about DC and individual players runs like this: give credit to those who participate and participate frequently, but lay off criticizing those who don't. As others have noted, neither Borg nor Sampras were DC stalwarts, and as a tennis fan I don't have much problem with this, though I'm more than ready to give credit to those, a'la Johnny Mac and Roddick, who gave their all to the event.

Btw, isn't the Olympics cutting a little into DC territory and hasn't the DC been losing its relevancy for the last twenty years or so? I realize this latter observation could be influenced by a US perspective, but it seems like even the most common sports fan was more likely to know what the DC was back in the 80s than today. Ask them what the Davis Cup and I wonder what the percentage could define it.

One other issue with the DC: when does it occur? Serious question. If you think of sporting events which enter the sports fan's conscience, they pretty much know within a couple of weeks when those events occur every year. Is this true of DC? Even as a Slam/summer-oriented tennis fan I don't know what the dates of the thing are. That can't be a good if you're trying to make the DC mean something beyond the hardcore fans of the sport.

Posted by monkey1988 01/12/2010 at 06:30 PM

Sorry if i'm repeating what others have already said, but i don't think you are giving Henin the credit she deserved in the fight back of this match. Kim was playing absolutely amazing tennis, you could see it on their faces that both girls knew it as well. Up 4-1, yes, Kim did play a very loose game, but after that it wasn't like she started playing terrible, choke like tennis
While Kim went into her shell a little bit, Henin started absoutely ripping the ball around. By mid way through the third set, she had hit about 14 winners just in that set alone, as appose to 3 from Kim. While the score line swing really seems as though it was just Kim chocking and Henin staying at a consistent level, i really beg to differ. Kim lost a little confidence, and Henin lifted dramatically, maybe just a little bit more time on the ball was all she needed. Unfortunately for her though, Kim slowly started to put a few more points together, and began to rush Henin again. Her footwork started the come back, and the rest is history.
Definately agree that this was one of the best womans matches in recent memory. Even members of my family who don't watch tennis all that regularly only had to watch for a couple of minutes to realise that the pase of shot, speed of the players and shot selection were up there with the best.

Posted by Jackie 01/12/2010 at 06:30 PM

Mr. X, didn't see the pic. What time did you post it? Or can you link it again?

Posted by Ruth 01/12/2010 at 06:33 PM

" I sometimes wonder, does anyone still want to see a good, old-fashioned, tight, well-played tennis match featuring excellent shotmaking, a lack of conspicuous emotional stress, and maybe two or three critical service breaks?"

Strangely, I didn't read that as Pete's stating or implying that "EVERYONE should prefer a tight match etc etc etc" or any one type of tennis match. He wouldn't dare! Not at TW!:)

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 01/12/2010 at 06:33 PM

LOL, Grant and CL. :)))

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 01/12/2010 at 06:35 PM

Well I have my Fab hat on and had to make a minor adjustment to my Chic wardrobe

Cause its already stinking Hot here in Sydney

Sigh I have Baggage today,as my hubby Peter has decided to tag along with me to Medibank

Dont worry Tribers I will dump him on Kenny Rosewall Arena for the day with a couple of packets of Winfield Super Mild Ciggies he wont mind.I hope he remembers though not to lit up in Kennys arena.

Being a Scot my hubby always enjoys a Free Ticket.Once a Scot always a Scot.Hmmmm.

Well Tribers I am off to get as much dirt,gossip as I can muster.

Bye for Now.

Posted by Ruth 01/12/2010 at 06:40 PM

Ah, Grant, you get the overreaching award for your 5:52!

When the players at majors start putting their country's names on their shirts, when the score is called by country instead of player name, when they run around on court with their flags after victory ...then and only then will ou have a point.

Until then, accept my award graciously, please.

Posted by Mr. X 01/12/2010 at 06:41 PM

Here it comes, Jackie. By the way, i think if heard a gong, and the lights are probably gonna go out any moment.

Gotcha, Grant. All i can say is, i certainly am not gonna win anything personally, but i'm gonna party big-time if Spain wins the World Cup this year. I guess it could have something to do with being more used to this national-team competitions, that you guys in North America (you are from Canada, right?), where i understand those competitions are less relevant than the "team leagues"

I apologise if i'm being annoying about this, but again, i think it's a USA thing. In Spain (and i can only assume it's the same in other places), if you ask the common sports fan (which in here means football fan, basically), what comes to mind concerning tennis, he (or she) will likely say this: Nadal, RG, DC.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 01/12/2010 at 06:47 PM

JamesLaRosa just tweeted this which is kind of relevant to the DC discussion:

Posted by mcakron 01/12/2010 at 06:48 PM

Mr. X., no problem. I didn't read all the comments after Pete's post, and frankly I'm more than semi-aware of US-myopia, and certainly not sensitive about it.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 01/12/2010 at 06:50 PM

Because Date Krumm is taken, Rafa may have to settle for the second "She Wolf."

By the way, Caro looks just fine in her Adidas gear in the first video. Stella McCartney: Do not go within a thousand miles of Shakira.

Posted by Grant 01/12/2010 at 06:51 PM

And to think I was looking forward to the TW awards ;)

Thanks Ruth, when I have a point I'm sure you'll be the first to not get it.

Posted by zenggi 01/12/2010 at 06:55 PM

Thank you, jewell

Interesting news. It will be like the Winter Olympics of tennis.

I started to frazzle when I read that Tiriac would be among the first bidders to hold this event.
This would mean Caja Mágica-Madrid-September-Clay. Most of the players would be thrilled, not.

Agree with Mr. X about the "USA thing" and DC.

Posted by Carrie 01/12/2010 at 06:55 PM

That tennis world cup idea sounds iteresting. But it looks like Tiriac already has his mits on any seed that may be germinating. That will bring the drama!

OT side note: great breakthough today on a work project that I have been working on for months and months. Yea! Goes to knock wood before it all collapses.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 01/12/2010 at 06:57 PM

I wonder if there are really youngsters who don't have the attention span for five set matches?

Posted by Mr. X 01/12/2010 at 07:00 PM

Mid-match subsitutions in tennis? The Evil Blue Lord?
Why does that sound so much like the reasons for keeping the "wonderful" Super Saturday idea to me?
Oh lordy. Long live Davis Cup.

Posted by Carrie 01/12/2010 at 07:01 PM

Hee Zenggi- we both raised our eyebrows when we read Tiriac's name.

I do agree with Mr. X and others that team competitions, etc. do not seem to carry the same cache in the US that they do in some other countries. (Which saddens me as a huge fan of the World Cup- although that is growing in popularity here).

I think the last big team thing that rocked the US was when the US hockey team beat the USSR in the semis of the 1980 Olympics. Even the original dream team in Olympic basketball was more about its parts than the sum- although perhaps if the Cold War was still on at that point it would have been more about the team. I mean we still cheer Olympic athletes- but most of that is about the standout athletes like Phelps or Michael Johnsons or the gymnasts, etc.

Posted by zenggi 01/12/2010 at 07:05 PM

There we go again. Where can Switzerland find so many tennis players?.
And 25 seconds between points. Why? It's not fair.

Posted by Ruth 01/12/2010 at 07:06 PM

zenggi: If I knew the answer to the first or second question you posed about proportion and population, I'd be able to explain why tiny Belgium has three very good women players and the USA doesn't. We all know there is no logic to such things, so why expect it? Why expect the USA or Australia to have, in every era of tennis, the many top players that they had in one or more past eras? Because they're big? These things are as unfathomable as the answer to why England, which spends more money per capita on training its tennis players than any other country, hasn't had a Slam winner for decades.

What I'm saying is that we can't make rules based on size of country when so often size has nothing to do with the production of winning tennis players. Any allowance for size would, therefore, be unfair and, maybe, even insuling to some.

As for the setting of the DC ties, i'd bet that if the two finalists were two poorer countries that couldn't fund the tie, the tie would still go on -- somehow and somewhere.

Please don't ask me to answer the unanswerable! :)

Posted by zenggi 01/12/2010 at 07:06 PM

Hi Carrie,

Fingers crossed for your work project. Good luck!

There is something about Tiriac, all right.

Posted by adicecream 01/12/2010 at 07:08 PM

Ruth, love your wisdom. And I hope you are enjoying your vacation. I get the sense you have left the NE US for warmer climes.

Posted by mcakron 01/12/2010 at 07:11 PM

Well, not to sound like someone from Sterling Cooper, but DC is horribly marketed here in the States, if US marketing around it even exists. (If a tree falls in the Tennis Channel forest does one hear it?)

One of the reasons the World Cup is beginning to take off in this country is because ESPN went all in and is offereng wall-to-wall coverage. (They've even been providing Premier League and other European soccer coverage during the weekdays, too.) I'm assuming Davis Cup is buried on something akin to C-Span.

Posted by Ruth 01/12/2010 at 07:14 PM

OK, we've reached the point when that most obnoxious of all reasons for any individual player or country not to play DC (or any contest) rears its ugly head: Why should I, we, they, play when I, we, they have no chance to win???? Wah!!!!

This is a good time for me to leave this now polluted discussion.

Grant: I knew that you wouldn't accept the award graciously, but it's all yours, nevertheless. :)

Posted by zenggi 01/12/2010 at 07:15 PM


That's why I said about the probability and outcome discussion. How many male top players have Belgium?. And his population is 10.5 million against 7.6 from Switzerland?

Judging by the comments, the posters from this side of the Atlantic Ocean agree that tennis in Europe is an individual sport. Blame the European Union if you want and though we enjoy tremendously the DC matches, we watch them as Roddick against Nadal not as USA-Spain. The DC Trophy is beautiful and all and is a nice notation on your career but there is nothing like a GS. Ask Pete (Sampras).

Posted by malimeda 01/12/2010 at 07:19 PM

Ljubicic and JMDP coin tossing at the moment on my cable TV (one of the 5 local Belgrade sports channels, Arena Sport 1, covers anything live with Djokovic in it).

I'm looking at 7 hours straight of live tennis (Haas-Djokovic, Verdasco-Gonzalez and Tsonga-Soderling to follow).

It's rather overcast, not much of a crowd yet, in a blue/green/red setting, Delpo in all black, Ivan in all beige.

First point: it's so much slower surface than in Doha, 20+ shots. First game: JMDP breaks.

Posted by Pspace (Lookin' for Court No. 3) 01/12/2010 at 07:23 PM

Wow. Ppl are still on topic.

Any1 else psyched for Kooyong? Elf, Nando, Nole, and Jo in action! Yeeehaa.

Posted by Carrie 01/12/2010 at 07:23 PM

True- good point mcakron about the coverage of World Cup and and soccer coverage as a whole. I remember a few years ago how the only place to see a lot of soccer was Fox Soccer Channel. Now you have more of it on ESPNs as well as additional channels like Goal TV. In addition, I think a few more things go into the rise of WC popularity in the US.
* Soccer is a very popular sport for younguns here in the US and have been for two or three decades.
* The US team is getting better- they are no Brazil but they did not get to the quareters in '02 by being a bunch of schlubs. We have some players (ex. Tim Howard) who do well abroad too.
* Premiere League, La Liga, soem of the Latin American leagues. are gaining in popularity here - in large part because of the aforementioned coverage. I mean- you see the scores scrolled on ESPN sometimes during college (American) football. You can see more young people with team jerseys. (Although for some reason MLS outside of some places like Seattle is still not really catching...)

But I really think you hit the nail on the head with the coverage being a huge issue for DC.

Posted by Tfactor 01/12/2010 at 07:25 PM

Thanks Malimeda.
Isn't there anyway for us to follow the action? Incredible line up

Posted by Carrie 01/12/2010 at 07:27 PM

*Any1 else psyched for Kooyong? Elf, Nando, Nole, and Jo in action! Yeeehaa.*

Boy howdy! I hope to catch a stream sometime during the week. Elf said that he tried to work a lot on his movement over the (brief) break and I wanna take a peek at that as well as the other dudes.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 01/12/2010 at 07:29 PM

As far as Borg and Davis Cup, Borg represented Sweden in Davis Cup late into his career, winning his last 33 singles matches in a row.

And Borg led Sweden, a country of about 10-11 million people to the Davis Cup title during a year his highest ranked partner was about 30-40 in the world.

Countries with small populations can win Davis Cups if they have at least one sufficiently talented and committed player.

Sweden has had several such players.

Switzerland never has.

Posted by Jamaica Karen 01/12/2010 at 07:30 PM

One of the reasons why the World Cup has grown in popularity in countries where there was never an interest - demographics - the demographics of North America has changed with a lot of people from countries where soccer is a dominant sport, i.e. the Caribbean and Latin and Central America.

Posted by greenhopper 01/12/2010 at 07:30 PM

Dimitrov is up 5-2 in the 2nd set after losing the first in a TB to Kendrick.
Some other fun matches as well on the qualies SB at the AO website.

Posted by Tfactor 01/12/2010 at 07:30 PM

Found a link for Ljubi/DelPo

Posted by Mr. X 01/12/2010 at 07:31 PM

Look at that lineup for Kooyong. Why does it have to happen exactly in the hours when i must be sleeping?:(
Oh well. Anyway, if that big guy is in very good form for the AO (no, not Ljuby, the other one), he might be unstoppable.
See you tomorrow, everyone.

Posted by Tfactor 01/12/2010 at 07:33 PM

Thanks for the info. So much for telling my niece I'll follow Grigor closely :)

Posted by crazyone 01/12/2010 at 07:33 PM

There are plenty of Kooyong streams on livescorehunter.

Posted by adicecream 01/12/2010 at 07:34 PM

Kooyong is an exo. Doesn't count. My mother raised me not to watch exos, preseason, spring training, etc. Really.

Posted by Grant 01/12/2010 at 07:37 PM

Ruth: Trust me, I would have demonstrated significantly less grace had it been anyone but you.

However, as I am apparantly an award-winning expert on the subject, I should point out that insinuating that people are crybabies (or Lucielle Ball, I suppose), for choosing to not exert themselves unduly on a foregone conclusion, is a bit of a reach.

Posted by Carrie 01/12/2010 at 07:38 PM

adicecream- aww... baseball spring training can be a wonderful (and free- at least it used to be) rite of spring. :)

Posted by mcakron 01/12/2010 at 07:40 PM

MSF -- thanks for the Borg info about DC. I never knew. An impressive record from the stoic Swede.

Posted by adicecream 01/12/2010 at 07:41 PM

Carrie, I did go to a spring training game last year and loved it. Wasn't free but nearly. But in memory of my mother I wouldn't watch one on TV.

Posted by VC 01/12/2010 at 07:42 PM

This mishmash of exos, Hopman Cup, Doha etc. leaves me really unfulfilled before the AO. I know it's an old gripe but I wouldn't shed a tear if one of Indian Wells/Miami was taken off the calendar and replaced by an MS event before the Australian Open. Even better if it was replaced by a grass MS event, but that's unrealistic. Maybe it would make the DC first round participation easier for the top players, also.

Posted by Pspace (Lookin' for Court No. 3) 01/12/2010 at 07:44 PM

any1, have a good stream for Kooyong? The one on fromsport doesn't have the sound of the ball...and the one on atdhe doesn't work for me.

Posted by malimeda 01/12/2010 at 07:45 PM

The big guy JMDP is blasting his flat FH as per usual. The only way Ljubo gets any points at all is through aces or BH needle-threading.

4-2, Ljubo to serve.

Delpo is wooden even more than usual, but Ljubo foolishly and too regularly goes to his FH. I don't believe it's because he believes he can beat him at his own game (as the thinking seem to go in the last USO final). He simply plays without proper tactics, goes a little bit to BH, then a little bit to FH... and gets burned.

Whenever there's a need to respond with touch, JMDP is in trouble. Whenever you feed him regular pace, especially to his FH, you're dead.

It seems it is hot there, even with so much clouds; during changeover JMDP takes off his shirt and douses his head, chest and back with water from his bottle. He looks cooked already. Very tanned and rather buff, even a bit pudgy.

But still wins first set 6-3 (Ljubo concedes second break with a DF).

Posted by Tfactor 01/12/2010 at 07:45 PM

Oh well I guess nobody is interested :)
I'm out. Following the news of Haiti's earquake although there's not much information available.
Enjoy the rest of your day/evening, everyone!

Posted by Carrie 01/12/2010 at 07:45 PM

adicecream- oh yes, baseball spring training is meant to be experienced live. :)

VC- I like the idea of a Masters on a simalar surface to Oz before the AO. (Not too keen on switching surfaces so fast so would prefer grass before Wimbles.) For the players to come out cold for a Masters may mean that the AO would need to be pushed back as there would need to be at least one week break. But maybe in Sydney?

Posted by Pspace (Lookin' for Court No. 3) 01/12/2010 at 07:46 PM

ah...just saw c1's post. I have stream!

Posted by mcakron 01/12/2010 at 07:46 PM

Carrie, good points about World Cup and soccer.

Posted by Jamaica Karen 01/12/2010 at 07:50 PM

So I am sitting in my home office and the chair starts to move away from the desk. I adjust it and move it back. It moves again. I move it back. It moves again. Then I feel my body swaying. I get up, go to the door of my office and stand between the door jambs and say to my sister, do you feel the house shaking. She says yes. I was like, earthquake.

TFactor, I am not sure if you were referring to the earthquake in your post about people not being interested, but for right now, we cannot even get any news. I have been trolling the news sites as right now we are in a tsunami watch.

Posted by greenhopper 01/12/2010 at 07:51 PM

That's scary, Karen. Please take care of yourself.

Posted by Tfactor 01/12/2010 at 07:53 PM

No, I was referring to the exo.
CNN has said the Tsunami alerts have been suspended. My relatives have been calling me nonstop worried because they don't know much about the Caribbean.

Really off now.

Posted by john 01/12/2010 at 07:53 PM

Pete i love u because ur a williams fan like me and u don't hide it very well :)

Posted by tennisesq. 01/12/2010 at 07:56 PM

The news is there was a 7.0 earthquake in Haiti.

Posted by Pspace (Lookin' for Court No. 3) 01/12/2010 at 07:57 PM

Elf looks great! Hehe...every1 be warned.

Posted by tennisesq. 01/12/2010 at 07:58 PM

But I'm sure you knew that already. Take care Jamaica Karen and Tfactor.

Posted by VC 01/12/2010 at 07:59 PM

Carrie : I agree. I meant having a grass MS before Wimbledon if at all possible. However, another HC MS event prior to the Australian Open sounds much more feasible.

Posted by Cupcake lurker 01/12/2010 at 08:00 PM

Karen, well I am surprise that in this day and age I can't find ONE picture from Haiti. I'm from the Dominican Republic, and everyone is telling that it was quite strong (Am in Spain), that's all everyone is talking about back home, and yes the Tsunami alert have been suspended, but aftermath are of course expected.

Posted by Angel of the Surf (A Complete Bobblehead) 01/12/2010 at 08:00 PM

Hi everyone

First of all to anyone who has been affected by the hurricane in Haiti my heartfelt wishes are with you.

Second Forza Flavia, keep up the good work. I am sure she will be Arvane. Vamos Pico in your match against Isner. There is a super dubs match going to be play in Auckland today, greenie take note. The Brazillians against the Argies. I am going for the Argies only for the fact that Pico is playing in the team

I hate not being able to post during the day as I am missing all the action and posts. I better go and do some work.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 01/12/2010 at 08:01 PM


Do take care of yourself. I sincerely hope that there is NO tsunami.

Posted by Pspace (Lookin' for Court No. 3) 01/12/2010 at 08:01 PM

And, Elf breaks. Monster return at 30-30. And, some nice junk mixed with pace on BP. 3-1

Karen and Tfactor, Hope everything is ok.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 01/12/2010 at 08:03 PM

Tfactor: and that goes for you too. Thainking of you.

Posted by Jamaica Karen 01/12/2010 at 08:05 PM

Thanks guys things are fine.
Angel, no hurricane in Haiti. It was a 7.0 earthquake. That country is like the so unfortunate. Everything happens to those poor Haitians.

Posted by Jamaica Karen 01/12/2010 at 08:08 PM

These people on American Idol are such idiots

Posted by greenhopper 01/12/2010 at 08:09 PM

Take care, Tfactor.

Dimitrov loses 6-3 in the 3rd set. :/

Posted by chicklet 01/12/2010 at 08:09 PM

Thanks for the updates Pspace. I know it's just an expo, but the preseason hasn't been the same without Elf and Nole in action.
Now if I only had a connection strong enough to support a stream...

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