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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 Carrie 01/12/2010 at 11:41 PM

Thanks for all of the posts about Kooyong and the tournaments. I wish that TTC would show some of the tournaments as they were happening and not on tape delay.

My heart is breaking for Haiti right now. I hope that if anyone here has loved ones in the country they are safe

Posted by Ubertennisfan 01/12/2010 at 11:41 PM

I do love a great Davis Cup match but really, it feels like a real outsider in the tennis schedule. Too many problems with it. Top players often skip it; it isn't easy to catch on TV; it's biased as someone mentioned before, by the home nation picking the surface; its schedule (at least to me) is hard to follow and plan to watch.

The good things about it are national pride; teamwork (although that's a bit of a stretch since most of it is singles); and best-of-5 (in fact that's the best thing about it. If it was best of 3, would ANYONE care at all? By having best-of-5, it puts the physical challenge at the level of a grand slam, which no other tournament does, except for the occasional Masters final (I still don't quite understand the reasons/rules/standards for that. Why don't ALL Masters go with best-of-5 to generate some excitement/prestige in the semis and finals?))

If I happen to catch a good DC match on TV, I'm happy but I certainly wouldn't put effort into following it. It's (sadly) almost like, you don't care whether the journos cover/mention it at all, unless there is no other tennis action going on.

I would be very happy to see DC be reformed into a real contender for our attention, but right now, it just... isn't.

In my view, there are several things that might help:
1) Better scheduling - the semis/finals in one place might be a plus to cut the travel requirement. Avoid clashing with majors and the lead-up times to majors.
2) Prize money??? (some top players say they are motivated by $)
3) Ranking points - I see no reason why you shouldn't get ranking points for playing someone in a recognised tournament, and beating them. The formula should be based on how tough your opponent is, I think. Regardless of what round you're in. So people would be equally motivated to play in 1st round or Final, at least if we refer to the effect of this one change in isolation
4) Commitment - it can be that committing to 2-3 matches is exhausting (depending on the timing of the event). However, you'd rather have Fed play 1 match then none, right? So perhaps given the team nature of the event, a player can be scheduled to play one singles and in his reverse singles, he can be substituted. Substitution sometimes happens due to injury or other reason for withdrawal, in any case. So, for example, Switz could negotiate for Fed to play the 1st singles match, then leave if he has other commitments.
5) Enforcement - there is a certain number of mandatory tournaments if I understand correctly, that a player must be in, to maintain their ranking (haven't looked deeply into the rules here). Can DC negotiate with ATP to get some kind of rule in place that encourages (carrot and/or stick) top players to play DC? This is the weakest of my suggestions so don't hold me to this but... you could make it one of the set of mandatories that can be counted toward a minimum quota required to satisfy the rankings maintenance requirement, for all players in top 20 (the only exception being if you have too many players in the top 20 in your country, then the lower ranked one is exempted - this means your top players must play; giving an accurate representation of the true collective strength of your country's players. It doesn't make sense to me that Swiss should compete without Fed; what is the point? What if Wawrinka decided he was focused on the Slams as well? What if all the decently ranked players acted like this and all you had left were some guys who play Challengers or perhaps just your best club pros? I think you get the point. US w/o Roddick/Blake - that's not a good representation of USA either)

Posted by Jamaica Karen 01/12/2010 at 11:45 PM

Carrie, me and you both on Haiti. Makes you wonder how much more those poor people can take. It is like every hurricane season they get hit and now earthquakes. Just breaks my heart

Posted by Jamaica Karen 01/12/2010 at 11:47 PM

One of the real benefits of working from home, I dont have to get up early in the morning to fight traffic. I can basically roll out of bed at 8, have a shower, coffee and I am at work. It therefore makes this crazy tennis watching schedule in the AO easier to deal with

Posted by Jamaica Karen 01/12/2010 at 11:48 PM

That match between Taylor Dent and Benneteau seems like it has been going for hours on end. Just strange to see Benneteau struggling against Dent after seeing him play out of his mind to beat Fed last season.

Posted by Jamaica Karen 01/13/2010 at 12:05 AM

Am I the only one here for the Serena/Vera match. I guess I may just do a match call so that people can see how the match went. Please Lord let Serena win in straights. That way I can get my beauty sleep

Posted by kchowcrazy - Go ReRe World #1!! 01/13/2010 at 12:06 AM

ReRe ready to go!! I cannot believe i am still up writing this essay :(

Posted by kchowcrazy - Go ReRe World #1!! 01/13/2010 at 12:07 AM

Im here Karen, we can frazzle together! (im kidding im sure she'll be fine)

Posted by Jamaica Karen 01/13/2010 at 12:12 AM

Ladies are on court. Serena won the toss and elected to serve. Ladies doing warm ups. At the pre-match interview Vera seemed a bit put out by the interviewer asking her about her opponent. Serena said that Vera is a very tough opponent. Both ladies not very talkative.

Posted by Jamaica Karen 01/13/2010 at 12:13 AM

kchow, thank goodness you are here. Yes, we can frazzle together. Sometimes I know she will do well but it is like evil Serena comes out to play sometimes. I like when happy Serena plays, she just plays better. I hope she was able to get that pedicure

Posted by phillykat 01/13/2010 at 12:13 AM

Anybody have a stream for ReRe's match?

Posted by kchowcrazy - Go ReRe World #1!! 01/13/2010 at 12:16 AM stream 4 serena as she holds with some good serving 1-0

Posted by phillykat 01/13/2010 at 12:18 AM


Posted by kchowcrazy - Go ReRe World #1!! 01/13/2010 at 12:19 AM

haha Karen i know what u mean, i hope she got it 2
Vera bh cc after ds 15-0
Serena smash 15 all
Vera nets bh 15-30
Serena bh wide 30 all
Serena nets bh on 2nd serve, gp vera
Vera holds when serena nets fh, 1 all

Posted by Jamaica Karen 01/13/2010 at 12:20 AM

1 game all first set -
Serena holds at 15, Vera at 30

Posted by Jamaica Karen 01/13/2010 at 12:20 AM

live stream
you can try

Posted by kchowcrazy - Go ReRe World #1!! 01/13/2010 at 12:21 AM

Good first serves get serena to 30-0
slice drifs wide from Vera, 3 gps
Wide fh for Vera, she holds, 2-1

Posted by kchowcrazy - Go ReRe World #1!! 01/13/2010 at 12:22 AM

U can match call Karen i got this essay 2 do, please win ReRe!

Posted by Jamaica Karen 01/13/2010 at 12:22 AM

Pretty good match so far. Both ladies showing no signs of nerves. Serena's serve seems to be clicking.

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeee!!!) 01/13/2010 at 12:24 AM

Just getting a glimpse of the new leaner (and meaner?) Serena. She looks GOOD.

Posted by kchowcrazy - Go ReRe World #1!! 01/13/2010 at 12:24 AM

Come on serena i know its windy but get some returns in please!

Posted by Jamaica Karen 01/13/2010 at 12:24 AM

Serena's return game was non-existent in that game

Posted by kchowcrazy - Go ReRe World #1!! 01/13/2010 at 12:26 AM

Great fh from serena, get those groundstrokes clicking as well your serve!

Posted by Jamaica Karen 01/13/2010 at 12:29 AM

kchow, I am really bad at this but I will try.
deuce on Serena's serve, but she holds for a 3-2 lead first set.
Serena not getting her return game going just yet but ground strokes are ok so far. Vera doing what she does best which is keep the ball in play.

Posted by kchowcrazy - Go ReRe World #1!! 01/13/2010 at 12:32 AM

Yeah Vera's serve is not exactly pacy but she making serena play which is the right thing to do

Posted by kchowcrazy - Go ReRe World #1!! 01/13/2010 at 12:34 AM

Some lose shots and a df give serena a bp and she misses another return! Come on serena, get that return game 2gether

Posted by Jamaica Karen 01/13/2010 at 12:37 AM

Stream has frozen

Posted by kchowcrazy - Go ReRe World #1!! 01/13/2010 at 12:37 AM

Finally she breaks, this match is pretty boring, serena isn't quite on the pace yet (but serving gr8) and Vera cannot take advantage, serena leads 4-2

Posted by kchowcrazy - Go ReRe World #1!! 01/13/2010 at 12:39 AM

Serena starts with her 2nd df and follows with 2 aces (it is v. windy there) and after a good hustle hits a bh and holds when vera hits long, 5-2.

Posted by phillykat 01/13/2010 at 12:41 AM

ReRe up 5-2. Won't comment about the quality, (don't want to jinx her)

Posted by Jamaica Karen 01/13/2010 at 12:41 AM

kchow thanks for that. I had to go to another site to get a different stream as the other one froze. Some good serving by Serena and yes the match is boring. I would love to see the Vika match as that looks like a battle right now

Posted by tennisesq. 01/13/2010 at 12:43 AM

Wow, Rere looks fab.

Posted by kchowcrazy - Go ReRe World #1!! 01/13/2010 at 12:47 AM

Yeah the stream i posted is pretty good, but i might go bed if it cuts out lol.
Some return errors from serena bring up 2 gp for vera but her errors bring it back to deuce, serena to hits a great bh dtl but misses sp on another fh error. Vera bh error brings up another and serena takes the set 6-2 on a double. Wow what a boring set!

Posted by Jamaica Karen 01/13/2010 at 12:47 AM

Man, what a way to win a set, on a double fault by your opponent. Serena seems to be finding her return of serve, at least it looks like she is getting her timing to where she wants it. Not much to write home about in this set. 6-2 Serena. she will serve to start the second set

Posted by kchowcrazy - Go ReRe World #1!! 01/13/2010 at 12:49 AM

Hopefully serena will keep serving well and get a few more returns in this set, you're right karen it did look like she was getting her rhythm a bit more towards the end.

Posted by malimeda 01/13/2010 at 12:52 AM

Good first set between Tsonga and Soderling; Jo won it 7-6 (7-0). Both held serve easily, no break points, until 5-5, when Sod barely survived several break points and 7 deuces. Then Tsonga held his serve to love, and won tiebreak to love.

Tsonga is simply a better player, more versatile, quicker, more cunning, though slightly less consistent; can volley, can return. Sod is wooden (even more so than JMDP), metronomic, but can pummel that FH; CANNOT volley. Once Jo stears clear of Sod's FH and starts to move him even a little bit, it's all Jo.

Both guys have crew cuts; Jo is too chubby; Sod cannot handle sun.

Second set, Jo with a break, 3-0, Sod to serve.

Posted by Cosi 01/13/2010 at 12:54 AM

Dushevina is awful in this match, her leg wrap must be because of a injury rather than preventitive, she's not even running for balls, and nevermind about her craptastic serving.

Posted by Jamaica Karen 01/13/2010 at 12:55 AM

Serena takes the ball so early that she forces her opponent to go for more on their shots too soon. Her serve and groundstrokes are just fantastic right now

Posted by kchowcrazy - Go ReRe World #1!! 01/13/2010 at 12:56 AM

Serena holds leading 3-0, serving has got even better and the return game has returned. amazing athletisim in the last point corner to corner, got to a drop shot and reached up and killed a smash, go ReRe!!!

Posted by Jamaica Karen 01/13/2010 at 12:57 AM

Kchow did you see that point to hold for 3-0.
second serve by Serena, good return on the forehand by Vera, cc rally by both players, followed by drop shot by Vera, chased down by Serena who does a little chip volley, Vera tries an overhead, which is put away by Serena.

Posted by Cosi 01/13/2010 at 12:57 AM

Posted by Jamaica Karen 01/13/2010 at 12:55 AM
Serena takes the ball so early that she forces her opponent to go for more on their shots too soon. Her serve and groundstrokes are just fantastic right now "

Good lord, I know you are a HUGE fan of Serena, but lets be real... Dushevina is playing really bad, alot of the errors are just either total mishits of the ball or caused by the fact that the girl just isn't moving.. I'm surprised she hasn't retired

Posted by Andrew Miller 01/13/2010 at 12:58 AM

There is a reason Federer is not Rios or Muster or Chang or even Hewitt. It's because he's dedicated to winning the slams. He's from a country that doesnt factor into Davis Cup, which just makes it that much easier to focus on slams.

Roger's life was designed to avoid Davis Cup - not only by his decisions but by default. The Swiss Davis Cup tradition is....

(exactly. There isnt much of one).

Posted by kchowcrazy - Go ReRe World #1!! 01/13/2010 at 12:58 AM

lol yeah Karen, thats why it makes me laugh when ppl say shes out of shape and unfit, JJ would have struggled to win that point!

Posted by Cosi 01/13/2010 at 12:59 AM

and it was Vera trying a LOB over Serena's head not an overhead, and she hit it right to Serena rather than over her head, there was no oomph in it at all

Posted by tennisesq. 01/13/2010 at 12:59 AM

Domi fights off at least 2 match points in the third to even things at 5-5.

Posted by kchowcrazy - Go ReRe World #1!! 01/13/2010 at 01:01 AM

I wish i could see that Domi Vika match is sounds great

Posted by Jamaica Karen 01/13/2010 at 01:01 AM

Cosi, please let me have my fun, even if I am doing a poor job of calling the match. Serena was playing really awful in the first part of this match and her game has really picked up. give me a break and let me celebrate a player playing good tennis, regardless of what her opponent is doing at the other side of the net.

Posted by Cosi 01/13/2010 at 01:02 AM

So the Dush actually keeps the ball in play for a few shots, and she breaks

Posted by Jamaica Karen 01/13/2010 at 01:02 AM

See you brought your bad karma - oy vey - broken at love - aiiiii

Posted by kchowcrazy - Go ReRe World #1!! 01/13/2010 at 01:02 AM

Wow what a sloppy game from serena, gets broken 2 love, leads 3-2

Posted by tennisesq. 01/13/2010 at 01:03 AM

Vika to serve for the match again after breaking Domi at 15.

Posted by Cosi 01/13/2010 at 01:04 AM

Sorry Karen, but I call it like I see it! lol I hate "yellow journalism".. if you want to call it as you WISH IT WERE, can you put a disclaimer on your posts or something? Something like "KAD ALERT, TAKE COMMENTS WITH GRAIN OF SALT" ;-)

Posted by tennisesq. 01/13/2010 at 01:06 AM

Vika d. Domi 2-6, 6-2, 7-5

Posted by kchowcrazy - Go ReRe World #1!! 01/13/2010 at 01:09 AM

Serena misses 3 bp with 3 bad errors, really not good considering how well she played to get them, odd match from her very in and out. Good rally finishes with a cc fh winner from serena and she finally breaks with a another great cc fh 4-2

Posted by Jamaica Karen 01/13/2010 at 01:09 AM

some really good rallies - she is really hitting her groundstrokes really well. It always looks like Vera is not hitting the ball with a lot of pace and depth, but she is

Posted by adicecream 01/13/2010 at 01:10 AM

Can't sleep but Serena is on my PC. Nice tradeoff.

Posted by Cosi 01/13/2010 at 01:11 AM


Posted by kchowcrazy - Go ReRe World #1!! 01/13/2010 at 01:11 AM

Fh really firing 2 consecutive winners get her to 30-0, a vera wide shot brings up 3 gps and serena holds with fh error from vera, she leads 5-2.

Posted by tennisesq. 01/13/2010 at 01:12 AM

Does anyone know what language the commentator is speaking in the Serena match?

Posted by Jamaica Karen 01/13/2010 at 01:12 AM

LMAO - Cosi, I dont know why people think that I am a Serena KAD. I am a Venus KAD. I am so going to change my moniker. I love Serena's fight and I admire her game, and I guess you could call me a fan but I have always been a Venus girl. If you are a fan of tennis, you have to really admire Serena's game as it flows so smoothly

Posted by Cosi 01/13/2010 at 01:13 AM

Serena's pretty sloppy and Vera is horrible, but that's typical of a quali performance I guess. At one time Vera seemed to have alot of potential, but in the last three years I think I've only seen her play one or two really good matches, otherwise she's pretty much just been "draw filler" on the tour.. it's a shame but happens to alot of them.

Posted by Jamaica Karen 01/13/2010 at 01:14 AM

ok heading to bed guys, as this match looks to be over. Good luck to the other ladies who play later tonight. Night all

Posted by adicecream 01/13/2010 at 01:14 AM

Bye Karen. I'm glad you are safe.

Posted by malimeda 01/13/2010 at 01:15 AM

Tsonga won, 7-6, 6-1. Towards the end of set one, Sod was already cooked by the heat, blinded by the bright light, distracted by the wind. His serve gradually left him. He got grumpy when he was forced to unsuccessfully run forwards and UFEs mounted.

Jo served some aces, put some ROS winners and then started to apply some net rushing. He got passed twice, but then managed to pop in a mass of drop volleys. Cool and calm. Better player. Too bad his big frame is not ideal for tennis.

Posted by kchowcrazy - Go ReRe World #1!! 01/13/2010 at 01:15 AM

Couple of sloppy shots from Vera bring up 2 mps and serena takes it with an awful df from vera! Serena wins 62 62. Not a great match from her but she served weill and returned better in the 2nd set

Posted by tennisesq. 01/13/2010 at 01:16 AM

Comfortable straight set win, just the way I like it.

Posted by Cosi 01/13/2010 at 01:16 AM

If you are a fan of tennis, you have to really admire Serena's game as it flows so smoothly"

hmm flowing smoothly is never a description I would have for her game, even at her best, she's not smooth like a roger or Justine or even JJ when JJ plays well.. she seems to scrap to win more than to flow. She's a fast mover but not a graceful liquid mover, and she's a powerful hitter, not a hitter with alot of touch, those are the things I think of when I imagine a smooth flowing player. Roger is probably the ultimate smooth flow player

Posted by kchowcrazy - Go ReRe World #1!! 01/13/2010 at 01:16 AM

Glad ReRe won, night everyone, thanx for keeping me company KAD Karen!

Posted by phillykat 01/13/2010 at 01:18 AM

Serena's serve is a thing to be truly admired IMO and it DOES " flow so smoothly "

Posted by Cosi 01/13/2010 at 01:18 AM

So Karen, what is Venus going to do this year? Start to succumb to age/injury/ burnout? Or have a strong year? Your lady is going to be thirty this year, hard to believe, time has really passed quickly

Posted by Cosi 01/13/2010 at 01:20 AM

Posted by phillykat 01/13/2010 at 01:18 AM
Serena's serve is a thing to be truly admired IMO and it DOES " flow so smoothly "

Hey, I'll give you that, her serve motion is one thing she does smoothly

Posted by Jamaica Karen 01/13/2010 at 01:21 AM

Cosi, I was still around. If you think that Serena's game is not smooth flowing, please go to youtube and take a look at the Australian Open final against Sharapova. That was Serena playing some of the best tennis I have ever seen. She may not have the grace of a Federer (who does really), but she gets to her shots and she makes them majority of the time. Her transition game is one of the best on tour (even better than most of the men who are afraid of the net) and her serve is fluid and effortless, unlike Justine's which is prone to double faults etc. Anyway, to each his own.
Really off to bed now.
Adicecream: thanks for that. I feel more for those folks in Haiti. I hope that the international community really goes all out to help as well as artistes and athletes. I saw that Wyclef Jean is organising aid etc and I am sure that Jamaica will be sending some form of humanitarian aid.

Anyway, really out for the night. Night guys

Posted by adicecream 01/13/2010 at 01:24 AM

Karen, you may really be gone but....I have been looking at pictures from Haiti and the devastation is horrifying. From reading various news reports I gather US and Red Cross among others are getting ready to send aid.

Posted by Cosi 01/13/2010 at 01:25 AM

Karen, I've seen Serena play for years. She's no ballerina.. lol and she usually has quite a high error count, and the delicacies of the game are not her forte.. Juju has her beat there... example, when she played a point she won in the second set, she had to lunge for a ball forward (not THAT hard of a get), got it over the net and then just took a step back and nearly fell backward, really for no reason, totally awkward. Her footwork is really one of her weaknesses.. some people exploit it and beat her by exposing that

Posted by Cosi 01/13/2010 at 01:28 AM

Posted by adicecream 01/13/2010 at 01:24 AM
Karen, you may really be gone but....I have been looking at pictures from Haiti and the devastation is horrifying. From reading various news reports I gather US and Red Cross among others are getting ready to send aid."

how horrible, and what is worse is it happens in a country where people have little money for resources, medical care to start with, let alone the resources to deal with this

Posted by Ruth 01/13/2010 at 01:31 AM

Thanks for the info on the Sod-Jo match, malimeda. Bet there are a lot of players hoping that Sod continues to play this way in the heat. But I'm sure he'll be spending his extra time off getting used to the Oz weather.

Good night, all.

Posted by Pspace (Lookin' for Court No. 3) 01/13/2010 at 01:55 AM

Wow...surprised that Jo beat Zod so "easy"...exo disclaimer notwithstanding. So, he's this year's Nole in terms of grumbling about the heat? Jajaja.

Does any1 know when the draw is going to be made?

Posted by Pspace (Lookin' for Court No. 3) 01/13/2010 at 02:13 AM

So...Grigor lost to Kendrick who had 22 winners and 2 UFEs (!!!) in three sets. Oh well. Grigor's rank is up to good result and he could avoid quallies.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 01/13/2010 at 02:23 AM

Morning. :)

What happened to Wawrinka or even Chiudinelli? If all the players could commit at the same time, I don't see why they shouldn't have a team that could do well. (I realise sometimes injuries and the birth of babies etc are getting in the way of that) But I am not sure it's true to say that Roger is the only player capable of doing anything on the Swiss team.

Hm - for me, Serena has a kind of muscular flowing grace when she's playing well.

Happy for wins for Gasquet and Baghdatis, and for CSN, too. I am a bit surprised that Rezai beat Flavia quite so comprehensively. And isn't that the third three set match for Vika?

Posted by GB 01/13/2010 at 02:25 AM

2 secs of Rafa practicing on the News!

Pspace: Just that it's on Friday. The site has no info about the time as yet.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 01/13/2010 at 02:36 AM

I seem to remember it being Friday last year.

Hi GB, how are you doing?

Posted by GB 01/13/2010 at 02:49 AM

Hey Jewel! Am lazy, dropped out of my degree (cause I hated it) and, as it's technically uni holidays here now, am pretending am on holidays to avoid thinking about what job/different degree I want to do. Lots of time for tennis, but also lots of time for frazzle:)

How are you?

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 01/13/2010 at 03:04 AM

GB: hope you don't mind my 2cents but if you hated it you did the right thing by dropping it. I'm worried about my son right now who's in first year of uni and i don't think he's too happy. it's a real pressure cooker of a school. all work no play and i don't think that's good for you. anyway, we'll see what he decides to do. you can go back and major in something else?

hey jewell! are you going to be able to watch alot of AO this year or does work interfere?

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 01/13/2010 at 03:05 AM

I'm good, wishing it would stop snowing for five minutes together. :)

It's probably good having a bit of a break before making any decisions, anyway. :) Will you be on holiday for the AO itself?

Hm...seems to be raining in Auckland, Ferru-Clement is suspended.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 01/13/2010 at 03:08 AM

Morning Annie!

It's quite difficult for me as the first session of play happens mostly while I am sleeping and the second mostly while I am at work, but I think the BBC will show some repeats and highlights after live play is done, and I should be able to watch at the weekends as there isn't that much on work-wise.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 01/13/2010 at 03:15 AM

last year i got up a couple of times in the middle of the night to watch rafa live. and it was totally worth it. particularly to be able to post on tw while the match is going on. so you're a little sick of the snow finally? i remember last year you were so excited to see the white stuff since it was such a rare thing. amazing how fast the snow thing can get old. I love it if i can stay home all day and just cozy by the fire. but don't much want to go out in it. it's freezing cold here in new york right now.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 01/13/2010 at 03:19 AM

time for me to catch some sleep. have a good day!

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 01/13/2010 at 03:21 AM

"I remember last year you were so excited to see the white stuff since it was such a rare thing. amazing how fast the snow thing can get old."

LOL - I know, I have done a complete about-turn. :)

I just can't get up in the middle of the night, not even for Rafa. *apologetic face* And if I did I'd be horribly bad-tempered. :)

Posted by SilentP 01/13/2010 at 03:24 AM

Don't know if anyone's posted this and it is a bit off topic, but there are ideas going around about a tennis world cup, which would effectively sound the death knell for Davis Cup

Posted by GB 01/13/2010 at 03:55 AM

Jewel: I dropped out 2 months ago, so have already had plenty of time to avoid making decisions:) Having my priorities in order, am going to wait until after the AO and then think about temping, although friends tell me there isn't much work.

Given the heat here, it's v hard to imagine hating snow right now...Hopefully it'll stop at some point soon for you.

Posted by Diane 01/13/2010 at 04:09 AM

Hi all,
Had a great day at Medibank....our seats were fourth row, right behind the players box, so we saw all the tennis on Ken Rosewall and also heard all the coaches coaching!

Have to make this short as we are with friends in the lounge and my battery is about to run out.

Serena looks thin, Hewitt had an easy time, Gasguet has a great backhand and ....oh well. we are leaving for dinner, wish I had time to tell you more!

Posted by Nic 01/13/2010 at 04:23 AM

Hey Diane - glad you had a good time today.

Posted by Diane 01/13/2010 at 04:25 AM

Aussiemarg, sorry I have had limited time on the computer, hubby is hogging it to work !

Hate that we didn't meet up, maybe the next time I come to Australia! Love this place so we surely come back.

Haven't left for dinner yet as we are all trying to finish off Marriott's vodka supply. Will sleep in tomorrow.

Posted by Diane 01/13/2010 at 04:33 AM

Thanks Nic, Australia is fabulous, we have been having so much fun. Sitting here drinking with people we met here in the hotel and having a ball.

They will also be in Melbourne next week for the Open so we will get together there and continue the party!

My son flys in from LA tomorrow so we will have fun meeting up with him also. Weather is great, hot and sunny, tennis was fun so it's a great vacation!

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 01/13/2010 at 04:55 AM

Sorry, GB, I went out to look at the roads - by the state of it I'm guessing my local council doesn't have much grit or road salt left. :)

What degree were you doing before, if you don't mind my asking? I tend to agree with Annie that doing something one is really hating is pretty pointless.

Looks like Peer beat Dokic very comprehensively, 6-2, 6-2.

Posted by Fast-Flow 01/13/2010 at 05:22 AM

It was nice to see Federer and Justine practicing together. They were both hitting the ball hard to one-another, trying different shots and joking around. If you go onto You-Tube and put in Federer practicing Australian Open 2010, you can bring it up.

Posted by GB 01/13/2010 at 05:25 AM

Does that mean you can't drive anywhere Jewel? *totally clueless about such weather, even though the whole fam is Irish* I was doing a law degree.

Annie: Thanks for the advice! Sorry I missed it before. Yeah, that's what I finally thought. Am uber indecisive and was almost just going to keep going and worry about it later. There was heaps of pressure at mine too, plus they kept going on and on about how it'd only get worse once you'd graduated. Hope your son gets the balance right or finds something he'd rather do.

Posted by md 01/13/2010 at 06:22 AM

Its a very simple equation - if Federer wins the Davis Cup for Switzerland then he may be the GOAT but until he does so the likes of Laver, Budge, Tilden, Perry certainly rank ahead of him. None of those players shirked the Davis Cup (well Budge, Tilden and Perry had no choice). It is simply a major blot on Federer's career that he has not won it. Maybe he looks at the traumatic loss he suffered to Hewitt, he lost a two sets to love lead, and is of the view the effort is too great. Several players have won the Davis Cup virtually single handed. Borg did in 1975, Sweden simply did not have a good number 2, yet they won thanks to a young Borg who then really didn't bother with it. Federer can be compared to Tiger Woods who clearly is not into the Ryder Cup, it means nothing to him, he only plays because his sponsors insist on it. Who can blame Woods as the Ryder Cup is pretty much a WASP event, the colonialists v the mother country - well originally at least. Davis Cup is different. And t he Swiss have a very good Number 2 player - if Fed played they would have a great chance at least. To my mind the different surfaces argument is rubbish. Borg won three tournaments in a row on different surfaces (1979 I think) in consecutive weeks. I think it has more to do with the risk of embarrassing or traumatic losses. I also believe at this stage Fed is ducking the top players until he has to. Maybe he feels they have figured out aspects of his game and he wants to avoid exposure to them, ie he is the hunted. It was different last year on clay where Fed turned up to more clay tournaments than he does usually to prepare for a major. He was hunting Nadal and trying to figure out how to beat him on clay, losses didn't matter, he needed clay court match play. And it worked. Is he cowardly? Probably not - just playing it smart. Unfortunately I think he is playing it too smart and his lack of Davis Cup participation is a serious blot on his record, as it is for Jimmy Connors. For all of his faults, McEnroe is the greatest Davis Cup player of the modern era, never shirking his duty, as he saw it. McEnroe had his fair share of losses, 1984 final to Sundstrom springs to mind, some heroic (usually on clay) and often when he must have been tired or simply not in the mood, but he still gave it all. Sad really for Fed when he looks back and wonders what might of been. How many great matches has he missed, how many great victories or noble losses. Does anyone think less of Von Cramm for losing to Budge in his epic loss - no it elevated him to a level of greatness he may not have otherwise achieved and he is remembered, rightly, as a great player. Fed will be remembered as a great player who did not give his country his all.

Posted by iksius 01/13/2010 at 07:00 AM

"Fed will be remembered as a great player who did not give his country his all"

Don't think so. Roger will be remembered as one of the most outstanding sportsmen of the Switzerland winning 60+ titles, including 15 Slams and Olympic Gold. That's for now.

Posted by Geellis 01/13/2010 at 07:13 AM

Peter, you said: "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."

What I find interesting about this statement relates to the role of the media in how we think about tennis. For example, you have no problem calling Federer the GOAT, notwithstanding the fact that, other than Nadal, his contemporaries sucked (compared to those of Sampras). But you purveyors of media (were you exempting yourself from this moniker?) have elected to confer this title on him to ginney up interest in our sport. To give a comparison of why Federer is not the GOAT, just look at Steffi Graf. Why is she NOT considered the GOAT in the women's game? She's the only player male/female to win all FOUR GS not once, twice, or even three times but FOUR, count them FOUR times. And with 22 GS, one might think it a no-brainer that she'd be the clear GOAT for women's tennis. Yet one woman stands in her way and it's not the one you're thinking. It's not she of the power game and of the ageless ability to hit a tennis ball. Rather, it's Chris Evert. For without Chris, Martina would not have been considered as highly (regardless of the additional take in GS) as the Martina of the Chris & Martina era was. Similarly, because Graf lacked a singular and implacable opponent (esp. after the Seles stabbing), she's generally considered to have been a great player who lorded over a nobility comprised of scrubs. So too Federer. Sorry but Federer's contemporaries, excluding Nadal: Roddick, Blake, Davydenko, Nalbandian, Safin, Haas, and Hewitt don't come anywhere close to: Becker, Agassi, Edberg, Courier. They are more similar to Rafter, Ivanisivec, Muster, etc. At the top of the game, however, Sampras had contemporary rivals that were simply much, much better than those faced by Federer.

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