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Testing the Bounce 06/15/2010 - 5:04 PM

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by Pete Bodo

This afternoon, I attended a luncheon given by at the New York headquarters of the international Paul/Weiss law firm, where John P. McEnroe was a partner for over 25 years and today is "of counsel" (I think that means he's retired). The firm hosted a reading and book signing session by Patrick McEnroe, from his newly published book, Hardcourt Confidential: Tales from Twenty Years in the Pro Tennis Trenches. As many of you know, I was Patrick's co-author.

Over the coming days, I'll be cherry-picking portions of the book because of their relevance to Wimbledon - about which Pat has quite a bit to say. Yesterday, Pat taped a segment for the Charlie Rose show, and next Tuesday he's going to be on the Imus show; they're just part of his extensive promotional tour. Many people don't know it, but Patrick worked as a sportscaster for Imus years ago, when he was fresh off the tour. He ended up quitting - on air. He just took off the headphones and up and walked out. I understand Imus, who's not exactly known for his sensitivity, is miffed that in his book, Pat called Imus's wife a "pain in the *ss." So we could have some fireworks in store. Pat will be doing that show from Wimbledon, as he leaves for London on Friday.

Here's a snippet from Pat's chapter on Wimbledon:

Cover.HardcourtConfidential On the first day of Wimbledon, I always make it a point to get out hours ahead of our broadcast time, just to stroll around, breathe in the atmosphere, and check the lay of the land. 

I get there before the nets are up. The lime-green courts look pristine, especially against those green-black backstops and dark, empty seats. No matter how often I’ve done it, I always feel a little bit like I did on my first trip to Yankee stadium – and never moreso than when I walk through that dark little tunnel leading out to Centre Court, toward that gorgeous turf, tennis’s most significant quarter-acre, bathed in the growing sunlight.

Those first mornings I go up to the roof of the broadcast center where I do a lot of my work. The BC is a huge brick building on the perimeter of the club, overlooking Court 18 and other field courts stretching away toward the No. 1 Court stadium. I watch the grounds crew as they fiddle with the  various courtside fixtures, the netposts, umpire's chair, and fences and chalk lines.

But mainly, I’m waiting for the guys with the big stick. The one I call the Wimbledon pole.

When they arrive, the men set up the eight or ten foot-tall pole with a tennis ball balanced on top. One of them operates a little triggering mechanism, and the ball drops to the turf. Then they measure the height of the bounce. It’s pretty comical – just another Rube Goldberg feature of Wimbledon. Before the main scoreboard went electronic (and that wasn’t so long ago), they actually had a person running around like a mouse on a narrow passageway inside the scoreboard itself, manually (and frantically, over the first few days) flipping wooden numbers to update the scores for the spectators looking up from the walkway below. 

During my playing career, I had a little ritual; I liked to bounce the ball three times before my first serve, and two times before my second. At Wimbledon, I wouldn’t bounce it as much as have to throw it at the ground, just to make it rebound high enough off the spongy surface to reach my hand. In fact, on at least one occasion I decided not to bounce the ball anymore at all. It was a frustrating waste of energy.

These days, though, when the bounce-testers drop the ball off the big stick, it bounces about waist high, even with no force behind it. This change may have saved Wimbledon, which just about fifteen years ago stood in danger of becoming an anachronism – an arcane tennis ritual having no real relation to the contemporary game. Advances in racket technology and a generation of gifted, hard-serving attacking players led by Pete Sampras threatened to turn grass-court tennis into something like farce – a serving contest, with rallies as rare as bluebird skies over chronically drizzly London. 

Who can forget matches like the Wimbledon semifinal Stefan Edberg lost to Michael Stich in 1991? There was only one break of serve in the entire match, and it was Stich who was broken; yet he went on to win the match, 4-6,7-6,7-6,7-6. . . 

Some thought that the game on grass was passé, but apparently all those guys in the green-and-purple AEC ties never got the memo. Two of the other four majors (the Australian and US Opens) had moved to new venues in response to the increased demand for relevance (as well as seats) in the Open era. Significantly, both had abandoned the private club, and turned away from grass in favor of slower, more common and versatile hard courts. The British wouldn’t dream of leaving Wimbledon, the AEC wouldn’t think of abandoning grass, and on top of all that the players still were obliged to wear predominantly. Serves them right.

But time and again, the AEC has shown an amazing ability to respond to the challenges of the rapidly moving Open era without throwing out the baby of tradition with the bathwater. And what steps the AEC took to tweak their tournament were always examined from all points-of-view, mulled over, analyzed, and thought-out with patience that could easily be mistaken for reluctance. Decision making at Wimbledon, whether it concerned the composition of the courts, the new Millenium building, or the retractable roof, breathed new meaning into the words, due diligence. The one word you’d never, ever associate with the Lords of Wimbledon is “panic.” 

So, just as the “grass is dead” movement reached a fevered pitch, the tournament was already considering - and making - the changes that would radically transform Wimbledon’s lawns, and the way tennis is played on them. The club is pretty coy about this, having admitted publicly only to ripping out the mixed strains of grass in favor of 100 per cent perennial rye grass (a hardier, more durable grass) starting in 2001. But Wimbledon veterans, including most players, think the balls are slower as well. And many say that the courts are firmer and harder than ever before. 

Hence, the waist-high bounce off the Wimbledon pole.  

Over the coming days, we'll be looking ahead to Wimbledon. On Friday, I'll have some thoughts on the men's draw, and Bobby Chintapalli will be picking highlight WTA matches on the women's side.

I see that Kim Clijsters laid a one-and-one pasting on her talented countrywoman, Yanina Wickmayer, today at Eastbourne. I'd say that Justine Henin's oft-affirmed ambition to add at least one Wimbledon title to her collection is a pretty daunting task when you consider that in the past 9 years, one or the other of the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, has taken the title a whopping seven times. Henin has her work cut out for her. And so does Clijsters.


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Posted by Master Ace 06/15/2010 at 05:08 PM

Pete,
You could say that out of the last 10 times, the Williams Sisters have taken 8 of them. Therefore, the Belgian ladies do have their work cut out for them.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/15/2010 at 05:14 PM

Pete thanks. Yes I do agree the Belgian ladies have their work cut out for them on the grass.

To me Venus is still the best grass court player in the womens game.I would love her to reclaim her title this year at Wimby just 30 yesrs young as well.She is a pleasure to watch on grass.

Though with such few lead up tournaments before Wimby and so far there has been a lot of mixed results its hard to get a handle on form,with both the women and the men.

Maybe its time to poish my "crystal ball"?

Posted by ActionFlunky 06/15/2010 at 05:24 PM

Enjoyed the excerpt. Good to have Mama Kim back. Yeah, Wimby is the ying to the French's yang (or vice-versa) for the WS. The latter is where they're most vulnerable; the former most formidable.

Posted by Alexis 06/15/2010 at 05:26 PM

I'm no fan of serve-only fests. And I'm no fan of baseline rallies that go on forever where just keeping the ball in play and waiting for the error is the plan. But I do like a variance in speed and surface. I hope we never lose that completely.

I guess that is why it is so hard to compare eras. Wimbledon today is not like Wimbledon of yesterday. There's a reason Federer served/volleyed his way over Sampras in 2001 - but hardly plays serve/volley now. It would be interesting to see how Sampras would play at Wimbledon today.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/15/2010 at 05:31 PM

Well Grass has never been my fav surface.Though I used to love watching it when it was fast.Ahhhhh those were the days.

To me that final in 1980 between my idol Borg and Mac was a beauty.It had everything in it.

That t/breaker will go down as one of the most "incredible" in the history of the game.

Posted by Samantha Elin(Caro to the haters, Don't you wish your pusher was hott like me) 06/15/2010 at 05:36 PM

When does the draw come out? I'm hoping the tennis gods won't let my favorites face each other; Justine, Caro and the Williamses. I don't really care where the other players land.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/15/2010 at 05:42 PM

First, Pete that excerpt is so lovely. When I was in high school I had an English teacher by the name of Mr. Wolfe and he would tell us to give voice to our writings. This excerpt not only had voice but it had eyes as well. I could actually picture the ball bouncing. Wimbledon is really my favourite of all the tournaments. Watching the ball skid across the grass, players getting low to play a slice, rushing the net to put away a volley, and everyone, no matter who you are, dressed in white.

Every year when the tennis season starts I like it because I know that Wimbledon is right around the corner. I always have a let down after Wimbledon no matter if my favourites win or not as I think the season really ends right there for me. It is what I had been waiting for all season long and then it is gone.

I liked that the Wimbledon website used to have archived matches so that I could go back and enjoy those matches that I really enjoyed the first time around, but for the past 2 years they have discontinued that practice. I have emailed them a few times about it and hopefully I will get a response.

I hope that the AELTC never ever bows to the cries of those who would want to do away with the tennis whites or the lack of play on Middle Sunday. As a traditionalist myself, I welcome that rest day during play as I think it gives the players a chance to regroup and recharge and get ready for another battle. I also like the round of 16 days. That for me is what separates Wimbledon from the other majors. They do not care about television or anything else. For them it is just about the tennis.

When Wimbledon is on I am never distracted by all the advertising around the grounds etc. At the trophy ceremony it is all about the winner and his opponent, never about thanking sponsors etc. and believe it or not I think the AELTC still continues to make a profit without sponsors. They also still continue to generate long lines of fans who sleep overnight just to get a ticket to get on the grounds. Clearly, the AELTC is doing something right and perhaps the other Federations should take note of it.

Posted by Alexis 06/15/2010 at 05:46 PM

Samantha - the seedings come out tomorrow and the draw comes out Friday.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 06/15/2010 at 05:58 PM

JK: my goodness, I just now realized from your post that wimby doesn't have any of the signage the other majors have!!! How could I have missed that all these years? It just never consciously registered with me. So that's what gives Wimbledon it's special ambience and atmosphere. It's like a private club tourney that the whole world is invited to watch. And the whites are so wonderful. Just white and green and the yellow ball (which was white for a long time).

pete, I would love to hear that Imus show when Pmac quit on the air! That must have been classic. Those were back in Imus's drinking days, no? Boy Patrick is going to be a busy man these next couple of weeks trying to juggle his broadcasting job with his book promotion.

Posted by Samantha Elin(Caro to the haters, Don't you wish your pusher was hott like me) 06/15/2010 at 06:08 PM

Thank you Alexis.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/15/2010 at 06:13 PM

@Annie, it always amazes me that the members of the Club have managed to stick with their traditions regardless of what the rest of the world thinks. I remember the flack they took in 2007 that after all the rain delays they still stuck to the no play on Middle Sunday rule. I think some folks just love to tear down traditions just because they have none of their own or they think that everyone should genuflect to the almighty dollar.

Hearing the sounds of racquet against ball and not having to listen to people talking while the point is in play is just something that I also love about Wimbledon. When I listen to the British broadcasters on the live stream, they never speak until the point is over and then they either commisserate (in the usual British way) or they celebrate with that dry wit. It is just a wonderful tournament and I hope that it remains that way forevermore.

Posted by Sherlock 06/15/2010 at 06:18 PM

So they changed the grass in 2001, and that was the year that Goran beat Rafter in the final. Hmmm. :)

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/15/2010 at 06:19 PM

Karen The one thing about Wimbledon which I have heard from soo many of the players over the years is the "feeling" they get there.Some of them have said the feeling they have there is like having "goose pumps.Also they dont get the same feeling in playing the other slams.

I guess with the tradition and being the "home of tennis" Wimbeldon stands alone.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/15/2010 at 06:21 PM

Sherlock Yes it was a total conspiracy for our Pat

Hell did you have to bring that Up Again

You know me feelings on that match.Weeps!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/15/2010 at 06:24 PM

Marge, yes the feeling. It is like coming home and that must really be why people like Venus love it so much. It is where she first tasted Grand Slam success and it was there that her career was rejuvenated in 2005 when everyone said she was done. It was where Martina Hingis made history by becoming the youngest woman ever to have won the tournament and it was brought Sharapova to prominence and kept her there.

It is the reason that Justine has given to come out of retirement (rolls eyes) and it is the reason why Andy Roddick has not packed it all in and gone to lie on a beach. It is the reason why Roger Federer keeps right on playing.

It is where the British hopes are ever defeated (once again) and it is where so many legends of the game come out in their boater hats to sit in the Royal Box. It is where the Queen, when she deigns to come off her throne, makes twitter come alive when she announces that she will be coming. It is truly home to tennis.

Posted by Sherlock 06/15/2010 at 06:26 PM

I go back and forth on the middle Sunday. It's kind of cool to have a day off to reflect on the first week and build the tension for the final run. But the players already get days off with the normal cycle, so that's not a big deal.

Just my own opinion, but 2007 was a bit ridiculous. It's great to have traditions, but when you have a ton of rain delays, and are looking at players having to play a lot of matches in a few short days, why not be a bit flexible and take advantage of that day? Seems only fair, if we're keeping the best interests of the players in mind.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 06/15/2010 at 06:39 PM

sherlock: i know what you mean. 2007 was so nuts that now they've got a roof!!! Oh there must have been some 'discussions' among the board of governors over that one! And remember when they withheld Jmac's membership after he won his first wimby title?

JK: The only other sporting event I can think of with the same kind of tradtion would be the Masters. But I still prefer wimby over any other.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/15/2010 at 06:44 PM

Indeed.

Sherlock, I agree with you that having regard to the discomfort in 2007 they could have made a change, but I think they thought that if they did it that one time, then people would expect them to make allowances and play on Middle Sunday at other times, so for better or worse, tradition ruled. Funnily enough, I think it was as a result of that debacle that they decided to get a roof over Centre Court. It always amazes just how quickly they got that particular job done. A big plus for British engineering.

Posted by sisu (formerly “just a note/jan”) 06/15/2010 at 06:55 PM

I remember watching Imus when Patrick was on and his leaving; I don't believe Imus was drinking then. Funny stuff. Eventually stopped watching but he used to give me a chuckle in the morning.

Love the Wimbledon traditions; I'd go so far as to say I think the spectators should be in all white attire. :)) I seem to recall they were in some financial trouble a while ago but they obviously have gotten financing somewhere to install their very expensive roof and keep the facilities up to date.

As much as I love the traditions, I'm with Sherlock (Hi Sherlock :)) that they need to be flexible when it comes to things like the middle Sunday, never-ending rain, and the welfare of the players.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/15/2010 at 06:55 PM

From Big Sascha on twitter:
http://tweetphoto.com/27397311

Can you say Williams Sisters on the move - LOL

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/15/2010 at 06:56 PM

Clearly they plan to be in Wimbledon for 2 weeks :) - if I were a player on the WTA tour I would be afraid that someone would have this much confidence coming into a tournament that they had lots and lots and lots of luggage - LOL

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 06/15/2010 at 07:03 PM

sisu: LOL, wouldn't that be great having the spectators all wearing white too! I love it! and thanks for correcting me about Imus and the drinking. I just remember years ago listening to him one morning (he was in NYC at the time) and he was griping "ah jeez, I've got to start my 90 and 90 again..." or something along those lines. But I will make a point of watching when Patrick is on.

Posted by Sherlock 06/15/2010 at 07:04 PM

Hi, Sisu! Great to see you. :)

Did I see that you were a bit ill the past few days? If so, hope things are getting better.

Posted by sisu (formerly “just a note/jan”) 06/15/2010 at 07:35 PM

Hey, Sherlock. Not ill with a cold or flu more like disabled and the pain can wreck havoc on my tennis posting. Everyone has something right? :) It's why I'm not here as much as I'd like but I think others might be happy about that. hehehe

Loving your pithy remarks and your give and take with others; keep ’em rolling. :)

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/15/2010 at 07:35 PM

Karen Please you know its soo hard for a woman to pack? even for 2 weeks.Also the weather is soo unreliable in London for starters

Us girls have to be well prepared.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/15/2010 at 07:40 PM

Yes Sherlock keep those remarks of yours rolling

Like I dont need to ever hear about That match again.pfft.

Posted by sisu (formerly “just a note/jan”) 06/15/2010 at 07:57 PM

Sherlock, duh, I forgot to say thanks for your well wishes. Much appreciated.

Posted by Sherlock 06/15/2010 at 08:34 PM

You're WAY too kind, Sisu. But thanks. :)

Sorry to hear about the pain though. :( It's always something, indeed. Well, I hope thing get better for you. We'd like to have you around more, that's for sure. It's a better place when you're here.

Now as for our cherry-demanding friend, AM.... :)

On that note, time to head for home. Don't beat me up too badly, AM. :)

Go Celtics!!!

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/15/2010 at 08:38 PM

Sherlock Every time Wimby comes on it reminds me of "that game" oh I remember it soo well.My daughter and I just sat there in the wee hours of the morning and cried.

Ok I cant move on.

At least I am honest.

Hey whats that about the Celtics?

Hmmm Sherlock you will keep my friend.

Posted by CL/TMF 16 & Counting 06/15/2010 at 08:53 PM

Psst - Aussiemarge - I USED to be a major Celtic fanATIC...now, I have a cool distance to the team...ever since they changed the green from 'Ugly, But Us', to 'Less Ugly But No One in Particular.' So I come to the series...obliquely...though I will ALWAYS be a member of the ABBLA club...Any Body But LA!!, otherwise known as, BEAT LA!!!

Anyway...just in general...any team known as the 'Kobies' is not actually, you know, a TEAM. Just one great player orbited by a bunch of lumpy satellites. Chances are LA will still win - the Celtics are TOTALLY dysfunctional...like the TV Reality Family from Hail, AND, you should pardon the expression...old. But at least they are a TEAM.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Oh My its Pimms Time Again 06/15/2010 at 08:59 PM

CL lol!

Call me whatever maybe its the LA scene.I love Jack what more can I say?

Maybe thats why I am soo driven towwards the Lakers

I would love to sit next to Jack courtside.Hey we do have matching sunnies you know

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Oh My its Pimms Time Again 06/15/2010 at 09:03 PM

Hmmmmmmm I thing I can do without in a basketball match is

Isane Organ Music????? Blah

My ambition is to kill that Organ Player once and for all

Hey call me bad

These are just my inner feelings
'

Posted by Papo (Got Nadal?) 06/16/2010 at 01:07 AM

Just saw the final score for Bogdanovic/Mahut, 3-6 6-3 24-22 to the winner Mahut in four hours, wow! Looks like A-Bog gave it all he had in this one, even coming back from 0-40 on his serve at 10-10 in the third. Sounds like it was an epic match in the qualification stage. Mahut was always the favorite, IMO. He is a serve and volleyer who almost won the final in Queen's Club against Roddick in 2007.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 06/16/2010 at 01:17 AM

Hi everyone. :)

Loved the excerpt, just the thing to start setting the mood for Wimbledon. :)

Talking about Middle Sunday - rain has forced play on that day a few times. Not in 2007 but I think twice in the 1990s and once in 2004. If that happens then usually they do a "People's Sunday" with unreserved seating and very cheap tickets - like the "People's Monday" if matches continue past the final Sunday.

In 2007, I think the weather forecast for that Sunday wasn't the best (although it turned it out to be ok), and then the Monday and Tuesday being bad weather-wise didn't help. The tournament might've got that decision wrong, but I don't think it was about keeping entirely to tradition.

Regarding the roof - it was impressively quick, considering how long it took to build the new Wembley. :)

Posted by skip1515 06/16/2010 at 05:45 AM

A few years ago I heard a rumor that VISA was to become the title sponsor at Wimbledon, similar to when it was the Ford Australian Open. I don't know if I cried for 3 days or 4, but thankfully it never came to pass.

It's always possible that we believe something is special because we've been told so over and over, and it's simply become common lore. The emotion you get when you walk into Wimbledon is palpable, however, and the fact that it's shared with so many others confirms it's a true and valuable thing. See Bruce Jenkins at SI: http://bit.ly/cAraQk .

Funny thing about the Wimbledon pole: what exactly would they do if the ball didn't bounce high enough? It's not as if they could re-engineer the courts on demand....

Posted by tina ("tako je sport") 06/16/2010 at 06:14 AM

I don't consider myself too much of a traditionalist - but I've always loved the lack of signage at Wimbledon, even if it only serves to give more attention to the official Rolex clock. I've been to Wimbledon a few times and must agree that there is something altogether different in the atmosphere there. To compare it with, say, the electricity of a night match in Flushing Meadow - which I also love - is a matter of apples and oranges.

AM, sorry, "that match" brought many others to tears - of joy! Though I must admit, even I felt it was a shame Goran's win had to come at the expense of Rafter. I wish it had been anyone but Pat.

I have no preference about Middle Sunday, except for enjoying those "People's" days. But I'm glad they got the roof - it's better for spectators, those of us watching on television, and most of all, the players.

Posted by Red 1.7.17.287⁺ = Legacy Solidified 06/16/2010 at 07:58 AM

Pete,

Enjoyed the little snippet from the new PMac collaboration.

Ah Wimbledon, my favourite tournament. No other compares.
Like PMac I'm always awe stricken by the sight of all that green perfection.
Cheers to pomp, traditions and "anachronism"of Wimbledon.

Posted by Anna 06/16/2010 at 09:50 AM

Good morning everyone.
Just checked the scores. After Wickmayer, Clijsters crushed Safarova 1 and 0!!! Two quite worthy opponents.
I thought she may not be a contender at Wimbledon, but it seems that she is in real form!
I only hope that the draws come out so that we have two potential Williams- Belgian semis!

Posted by Ruth 06/16/2010 at 10:15 AM

In holding on to the "tradition" of no play on the middle Sunday, wimbledon is, I discovered while reading Fisher's A Terrible Splendor, holding on to what's left of a "tradition" of having no play there on ANY Sunday. During the 1930's when the Davis Cup match that is the centerpiece of Splendor was played, Wimbledon played on Mondays those DC matches that other countries played on Sundays. So, the fact that they now have the men's final on Sunday shows that they can loosen up on their tradition now and then. :)

I'd always heard that one of the reasons for the no-Sunday-play was the need to give the people who lived in the Wimbledon area a break from all the goings on of the fortnight. And, as I've mentioned before on TW, I have an aunt who lives near Wimbledon who would be very, very upset (and would probably lead a demonstration) if that middle Sunday break disappeared. She reports that traffic in the area on Wimbledon days, especially on days when the royals choose to attend the event, can be horrible, to put it mildy. And she welcomes the opportunity to be able to get to church etc on that middle Sunday in her normal way. :)

Yet, I think that the officials' refusal, a couple years ago, to play on the middle Sunday when the matches were terribly backed up because of several rainy days was ridiculous.

Posted by CherryNYC 06/16/2010 at 10:32 AM

aaahhhhh Wimby. I love it. When I was young, Wimby would start right about the time school ended, and it was the perfect way to kick off summer vacation. Of course, there was no internet, no streams -- I'd actually watch a several-hours-tape-delay match not knowing who won. I clearly remember the year Becker was shocked in an early round by (***going back into memory file cabinet***) Doohan was it? --and not knowing until I saw the headline in the paper. Imagine?

Prayer to the Draw Gods -- if there is some way for Fed to avoid both Roddick and Sod in the quartes, let it be done.... Amen.

Posted by Fangorina 06/16/2010 at 10:48 AM

I love Wimbledon, but the seeding committee just inexplicably insulted Rafa by demoting him to the number 2 seed, even though he is the number 1 ranked player and was in 3 straight finals until being unable to defend last year. “While the seeding positions of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are reversed from their current rankings, there is no practical effect since they remain the leading seeds in their respective halves of the draw,” Wimbledon referee Andrew Jarrett said. So it has no practical effect except to insult Rafael Nadal. I think Roger could really show his great good sportsmanship by asking the AELTC to let Rafa play the opening match as champion since Roger got to do it last year when Rafa could not play. How petty is the seeding committee? gag.

Posted by jb (Roddick FTW!) 06/16/2010 at 10:48 AM

Great snippet from the book Pete - am really looking forward to reading this. I've always liked PMac, far better than his older bro, and really respect what he's accomplished.

As for wimby, probably my favourite thing about the middle sunday off is that it syncs up the draws early on in the tourney, where the 'extra' day off isn't as critical for either side. 4th round - final are all in sync. at other tourney's the extra day off is at the tail end, where either one side gets an extra day can be a factor, and its not necessarily a good one for the player with the extra day.

So I'm all for middle Sunday staying as is. (NOT that the AELTC cares one whit about me...!)

Posted by Anna 06/16/2010 at 10:56 AM

Fangorina, the seedings for wimbledon are not "inexplicable". They actually have a formula, and they do not count absences due to injuries as a reason to bypass their formula. Also, this year, Federer has done better than Nadal on grass (I believe Nadal would have been #1 if he had won Queens).
But I agree with you that Federer should consider your suggestion to ask the AELTC to let Rafa play the opening match as champion, since Roger got to do it last year when Rafa could not play. It would be "pay back" plus great sportmanship

Posted by Fangorina 06/16/2010 at 10:58 AM

Anna: :)

Posted by Alexis 06/16/2010 at 11:12 AM

As Anna said, there is a formula that Wimbledon uses for the mens seeding that takes into account the grass records of the previous 2 years. But I am not aware of them 'skipping' a year due to injuries. I believe Nadal just got 0 points for his grass results last year.

As for the suggestion that Roger should somehow 'skip' the honor of playing first as the defending champion and give it to Nadal - that's bogus. Roger did not ask to play first last year. The committee asked Roger, since Nadal could not. Roger is rightfully the defending champion this year and should play Monday.

Posted by CherryNYC 06/16/2010 at 11:22 AM

Swiss lead Spain 1-0 in World Cup. As the NY Times blogger wrote ... "Swiss lead, and life remains unfair...."

Rafa must be dying....

Posted by Link 06/16/2010 at 11:25 AM

@Fangorina

The seeding for Wimbledon is done through a transparent, publicly available formula that has been around since 2002, before Federer or Nadal were even in the picture. There is no 'insult' nor is the seeding 'inexplicable', and there really is no reason to call the seeding commitee petty.

The Wimbledon men's seedings take into account 100% of a player's grass court points over the past 12 months as well as 75% of a player's best grass court points result of the 12 months prior to that. Those rankings are then added to the current world rankings to determine the seedings.

And so:

Federer - #1 Seed, 8525 + 2000 + 900 = 11425 points.
2009: Wimbledon Champion, 2000 points; no other grass court points.
2008: Wimbledon Finalist, 900 points (75%), best grass court result.

Nadal - #2 Seed, 8745 + 1500 = 10245 points.
2009: No grass court points.
2008: Wimbledon Champion, 1500 points (75%), best grass court result.

The results of Queens & Halle this year would have had no effect on the #1 and #2 seedings, regardless of whatever Federer or Nadal accomplished. Federer being top seed and Nadal being second seed at Wimbledon were all but confirmed since the final week of the RG.

Posted by Geellis 06/16/2010 at 11:38 AM

@Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules)
"I think some folks just love to tear down traditions just because they have none of their own or they think that everyone should genuflect to the almighty dollar."
I guess some of us think the interest of the sport, of the players ability to play at their peak, is more important than a stuffy, relatively useless, tradition of no-play on the middle Sunday. Let the AELTC have its stuffy traditions so long as they do not adversely impact the players or the quality of play. Once that happens, it's time for the traditions to give way to the exigencies of the players' needs.

Posted by sisu (formerly “just a note/jan”) 06/16/2010 at 11:38 AM

Just FYI folks, conversations in progress (tennis, football) on page 9 of the Four American Guns thread - here:

http://tennisworld.typepad.com/tennisworld/2010/06/tkjj/comments/page/9/#comments

The more the merrier.

Posted by Fangorina 06/16/2010 at 11:40 AM

I did not say that Roger is not the defending champion and of course he has earned the right to open Wimby. I merely made a suggestion that Roger might himself make. He certainly does not have to take my advice. As for the AELTC, it is my understanding that the formula includes discretion. Which they can use to promote or demote seed assignments. I am not trying to start a fight here...

Posted by Brian 06/16/2010 at 11:42 AM

yawn

Posted by mick1303 06/16/2010 at 11:50 AM

I guess Swiss team took to their heart all those losses by Federer to Nadal and decided to get even. Knowing that Nadal is a devoted fan of soccer, they knew where to strike…

Posted by Alexis 06/16/2010 at 11:51 AM

As far as I know... the "discretion" is on the womens seeding side where there is no set formula.

Posted by Fangorina 06/16/2010 at 12:00 PM

Holy moly. Switzerland beat Spain in World Cup! WOW!!!

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

Someone should inform Andrew Jarrett, the tounrament referee, that there is absolutely a "practical difference" between being seeded no. 1 vs. no. 2. The single most important distinction is the fact that the No.1 seed is in the top half of the draw and the No.2 the bottom. That may not seem like a difference to the esteemed tournament referee, but any serious fan of the game knows how crucial this distinction is, almost every year. As more and more rain comes, the bottom half always suffers the most because the top half gets its matches in first. And, although they have a roof on center court, that doesn't guarantee that Rafa's opponents, who'll be on the bottom half, will have been able to complete their prior matches (i.e., the match they play to get to Rafa) in a timely manner. The roof certainly helps, but it does not eradicate this problem.

Posted by eclipse22 (rafagirl i spit on SPAIN!!!) 06/16/2010 at 12:05 PM

can't believe spain just lost to the swiss, this is madness, its illogical, sooooo f-ing unfair i wanna scream, this is a national embarassment for spain ,the newspapers there are going to murder them, reigning european cup champions my a-r-s-e!!!!!!
rafa must be so depressed, la liga players loosing to swiss , all of spain must be crying, gosh now i have to show my face to my cousin who supports france which i've been dissing,but they got a draw at least
rafa please u have got to save the nation face here and avenge us, beat the real swiss in finals of wimby okkkk, por favor vamos rafa!

Posted by eclipse22 (rafagirl FORZA ITALIA!!!) 06/16/2010 at 12:08 PM

GEELIS ur right about the difference but hey unlike some idiotic football team i spit on, rafa always rises to the challenge!!! he thrives on it! now roger its personal! grrr

Posted by eclipse22 (rafagirl FORZA ITALIA!!!) 06/16/2010 at 12:12 PM

ok i'm off to twitter to cry a river, then do the same with facebook, be gracious in defeat outward while seething in pain on the inside!!!

Posted by CL/TMF 16 & Counting 06/16/2010 at 12:16 PM

jb - quite true about the 'extra day' - of course, since its Wimby...the...um, 'moisture' of an English summer often plays havoc with all that anyway. Though less so now, because of the ROOF!

Posted by thebigapple 06/16/2010 at 12:36 PM

Spain and the Swiss. hahaha!

Do not worry Spain will come through this stage...and remain favorites. The Swiss will not go far.

In the European Cup the best player for Spain was Senna - the Spaniard-Brazilian who was not picked for this team. However you still have Xavi and Ineista...cheer. Things happen.

Vamos!

Posted by Oston 06/16/2010 at 12:44 PM

Federer deserves the #1 seed at Wimbledon. Hope Nadal slips on falls on his ass!

Posted by jb (Roddick FTW!) 06/16/2010 at 12:45 PM

Geellis - that's actually not true that the top half of the draw always starts first.

The tourney directors determine whether the top or the bottom half starts first. Its not based on the #1 always starting first. The bottom half has started first at least twice in Oz that I can remember, at least once when Rafa was seeded 2nd and his half started first.

At Wimbledon, its completely immaterial. The side that the previous year's champion is in starts first, as they open center court, 1st match, 1st day.

But feel free to continue to be indignant if you'd like. *shrug*

Posted by Tari 06/16/2010 at 12:49 PM

So ready for Wimbles. I don't care who opens the darned thing. :) Just let me....breeeeathe the fresh air and drink in the brand new green grass of those lovely grounds. Through my TV, of course. Hey, it's HD. I'm so there. *sigh*

This had better be good. And I mean it. Anybody want a peanut? =)

Posted by Alexis 06/16/2010 at 12:51 PM

So... because Spain loses to Switzerland in the World Cup... some fans actually want to make Wimbledon some kind of 'grudge' tournament for revenge? Oh please!

Posted by Alexis 06/16/2010 at 12:56 PM

exactly right, jb. The top half does not always play first. It is quite random. Heck... at the USO in recent years, it has come down to whichever half Roddick is in.

Wait until the draw comes out! If one half is markedly easier than the other, we'll never hear the end of how Roger or Rafa got lucky (or dissed) because it could have been the other way had the seedings been reversed.

Posted by The Establishment! 06/16/2010 at 12:57 PM

Someone should tell Mr McEnroe (and indeed Mr Bodo) that 'The Club' is known as the AELTC, not AEC. And it never will be!!

Posted by Pete 06/16/2010 at 12:57 PM

Hey everyone, I'm having trouble getting onto Typepad this morning. Let's see how it works out, but this drumming my fingers on the desk is a drag. I gotta go do something, even if it's bad. See y'all later.

Posted by Pete 06/16/2010 at 01:00 PM

I know, Mr. Establishment. But I don't much care. All-England Club works for me and it's faster and easier to type. Gasp!

Posted by The Establishment! 06/16/2010 at 01:03 PM

Well it matters to most people, and to the players, so have some respect. Who gave you the right to shorten it? American-ise it in fact!

Posted by Tari 06/16/2010 at 01:07 PM

Oh, for crying out loud. Imagine and L and a T in there. Done.

Posted by Tari 06/16/2010 at 01:09 PM

Also imagine an "an" in place of the "and". =)

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 06/16/2010 at 01:10 PM

Maybe Andrew Jarrett will ask Rafa to open the tournament like he asked Fed last year? doubt it since Fed is there but just wondering..

Posted by Tari 06/16/2010 at 01:13 PM

Why would he do that, Annie? The defending champion is playing.

Posted by Stewart 06/16/2010 at 01:23 PM

Clijsters is demolishing pretty decent opponents at Eastbourne. Lost only 3 games between Wickmayer and Safarova. Hopefully she stays in great form as I'd love to see her in the Wimby final.

Posted by Pete 06/16/2010 at 01:24 PM

Tari, if you were a trout, I'd of caught you a long time ago!

Posted by jb (Roddick FTW!) 06/16/2010 at 01:25 PM

Annie - if Fed were to withdraw, I'd expect that Roddick would be asked to open, since he's last year's finalist.

Posted by Pete 06/16/2010 at 01:29 PM

JB: Ell Oh Ell!

Posted by jb - foops unite! 06/16/2010 at 01:38 PM

Pete! DUDE! Whazzup? Got my tickets for the US Open - usual week plus semis and finals this year - my first slam final! am totes excited.

crap. OT.

Uhm - am totally excited for Wimby too - days off work to watch! am idiot, i know. :)))

Posted by Frances 06/16/2010 at 01:43 PM

So i guess Federer is still top seed in wimbledon for aover 7 yers straight base on the ATP site.. which notes that the seeding is based on each player's grass court achievement.. interesting.. so say in the next 3 years and if Fed is still playing which is more likely and lets just assume he wont be winning the grass slam anymore.. he would still be the top seed... interesting.. but by definition.. for the past 7 years comulative he is the best grass court player.

Posted by mainetennis 06/16/2010 at 01:49 PM

Pete, Why isn't PMac's (and your) book available on Kindle? I got one last summer, but the one disappointment has been the inability to buy several new releases on the Kindle (notably including Agassi's bio as well).

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 06/16/2010 at 01:52 PM

Sherlock,

Yes, but you must realize that despite his huge serve, Ivanisevic was never a pure serve-and-volley player. He grew up on the red clay and actually preferred to play the back court. Of course, with that gargantuan serve and those cat-like reflexes, he was a natural for the Wimbledon grass, which is why he was a three-time runner-up.

And you'll recall that oin 2002 Lleyton Hewitt beat Davic Nalbandian in the final, ushering in the era of defensive grass-court tennis. LOL

Posted by Tari 06/16/2010 at 01:52 PM

LOL. Hi, Pete!

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 06/16/2010 at 02:01 PM

Pfft. I think it should've been Venus last year. ;-)

Posted by reckoner 06/16/2010 at 02:08 PM


switzerland over spain in the world cup... foreshadowing for the all england club ? lol

Posted by Caroline 06/16/2010 at 02:08 PM

Tari, it's so nice to see you here:)

I for one would die if Roger didn't play the opening match as I shall be there to cheer him! There is something so incredibly special about watching the defending champion walk out onto that pristine green velvet. I think I wrote last year how disappointed I was for Rafa that he couldn't do it. It must be one of the greatest and most nerve-wracking moments for any player fortunate enough to experience it.

Posted by Tari 06/16/2010 at 02:11 PM

Hi Caroline! It is a wonderful tradition. I didn't mean to take it lightly. You're right! :)

Posted by Taco Bell 06/16/2010 at 02:12 PM

OMG !!!! Rafa must be so pissed right now....and that too against the Swiss team...Oh the irony of it.

Posted by Caroline 06/16/2010 at 02:17 PM

Tari - I didn't think you were taking it lightly at all. I'm just the same - honestly, who'd think a few tennis matches would turn a middle aged woman into a teenager again!

Posted by Tari 06/16/2010 at 02:19 PM

Hee. I'm right there with you, Caroline. Then I leap to my feet from the couch on an exciting point and...owww. My back. ;-)

Posted by Caroline 06/16/2010 at 02:25 PM

And oh my head the day after a tense final!!! Got to go now - if we're not here at the same time over the next two weeks, have a great time. Good luck to all the players!

Posted by Arun 06/16/2010 at 02:51 PM

"so say in the next 3 years and if Fed is still playing which is more likely and lets just assume he wont be winning the grass slam anymore.. he would still be the top seed... interesting.."

That's not simply not true. Note the seeding_formula explained by "Link" @ 11:25. (I wish the same formula was used for WTA too, deservedly for Venus and Serena)

otoh, why let the facts get in the way of a good controversy? ;)

*waves to Tari*

Posted by Rockin'Robin 06/16/2010 at 02:56 PM

It's nice to see Pete interacting with his audience.

Pete, what do you think of the fact that Federer was seeded above Rafa? I'm a fan of both of them so I dont much care, and I'm sure Nadal will tell people that its not important, it doesnt matter etc.

But deep down Nadal must feel like this is an absolute slap in the face. Nadal is the No.1 in the world and Wimbledon defied that fact. Nadal must feel both furious and humilaited. Whats your opinion Pete?

Posted by Alexis 06/16/2010 at 03:16 PM

RockinRobin posted: "Nadal must feel both furious and humiliated. "

Why? Why would he be? Rafa knows full well how the seedings are calculated at Wimbledon. Both he and Roger knew after RG that Roger would be seeded #1 no matter what happened at Halle and Queens. What's to be upset about?

Posted by Ruth 06/16/2010 at 03:16 PM

"I think Roger could really show his great good sportsmanship by asking the AELTC to let Rafa play the opening match as champion...."

Fangorina: As the multiple times winner of the Edberg Sportsmanship Award, Roger, I am sure, has already thought of this and has had his people draft a letter to the AELTC about it. But, maybe, the AELTC's reverence for tradition will prevent them from agreeing to such an outrageous change. tee hee

Rockin'Robin: Of that one thing I'm sure, Rafa will say that it doesn't matter to him -- whether it does or not. Unlike some fellow TWibers, I've come to expect and accept his "polite lies" about matters like that, mainly because I've grown up and lived most of my life in circumstamces in which such "polite lies" are the norm.

Posted by Frances 06/16/2010 at 03:17 PM

I do hope nadal will not gettoo annoyed but rather more inspired!!!

Posted by Tari 06/16/2010 at 03:18 PM

I don't really like the way Wimbledon handles the seedings. I wish they'd stick with the ATP rankings, and I think Lleyton Hewitt has been screwed at least once by the seedings. But! I can't imagine Nadal feeling humiliated at all. Nor furious. I'm no expert on him, though.

Posted by Alexis 06/16/2010 at 03:25 PM

Again, why would Rafa get annoyed at a process that has existed for a while now? He knows the specific calculation that Wimbledon uses to determine the mens seeds. If anything - the committee would have had to explain WHY they would go against their own process and put Rafa #1 when the point calculation shows him #2.

Personally, I would like to see RG use a similar formula. Clay is also a 'specialty' surface and certain players (a la Roddick) shouldn't be seeded as high as they are.

I see no reason for either the AO nor the USO to have any special 'weighting' since more than half the season is played on some semblance of a hardcourt. Regardless of any 'weighting', Roger and Rafa would probably always be seeded #1 or #2 for all the majors and they usually live up to those - except for Rafa in NY where he has never been the runner-up. Hey... maybe they should 'weight' that one! LOL!

Posted by Alexis 06/16/2010 at 03:27 PM

Tari, yes... Hewitt did get hurt by the change in seedings once. But he is the one player that REALLY benefitted from the seedings change this year. He moved all the way up to #15 and will basically avoid an early run-in with the top guys now.

Posted by FoT 06/16/2010 at 03:28 PM

If people take out "Names" in the seedings and just look at the 'formula', maybe they would be less 'hurt'. Wimbledon has been doing this seeding ranking for years. Sometimes players are upset but most of the time they accept it. The only time I would think a player would be upset is if he was ranked #1 or #2 in the ATP, but the seeding committee pushes him down to either #3 or #4. That makes a big difference. Being #1 or #2 doesn't really make that big of a difference because they can only play in the finals regardless.

And Nadal fans - you know he (Nadal) never really want to be 'the favorite' anyway, so this just fits right into his hands (being seeded #2)! What's the big grip? lol!

Posted by CL/TMF 16 & Counting 06/16/2010 at 03:28 PM

Rockin' Robin' - for a 'math based', as opposed to fan based, explanation of the Wimby seeds, see Link at 11:25 am in this thread. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and a seeding is just a seeding.

Ruth - lol...both paragraphs. Thanks HEAVENS 'polite lies' are the norm...or I envisage dueling pistols and swtichblades, or at least screaming and yelling 24/7. "Do you like my new haircut?" "Nah...makes you look like an electrocuted poodle." " !@$#%$^%&^*&(*O&^!!!!!!" And so on.

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