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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 Arun 06/17/2010 at 12:48 PM

Cheers, ActionFlunky.

Posted by Samantha Elin(Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hott like me. 06/17/2010 at 12:49 PM

Just saw the score and very happy. Congrats to Vika. I'm so happy to see that I might be wrong about Kim playing at a very high level. Great win for Vika on her comeback.

Posted by Mr. and Mrs. D. 06/17/2010 at 12:56 PM

The 'Wills' Invitational.....very appropriate, if I do say so myself!:)

Posted by CPM 06/17/2010 at 01:02 PM

So most of the experts picked Davydenko as their "early exit" on the men's side? Way to go out on Ye Olde Limbe, guys. Though I have an easier time picturing him playing to seed than, say, Djokovic. (*cough*Or Murray.*cough*) And the 4/3/2 split for Rafa/Rog/Rod ... I'd swap Rafa and Roger, but otherwise that's more or less how I'd put the odds. I will also go out on a limb and pick Williams to win the women's singles. And possible the doubles, too.

Agree that the ladies' sleeper picks are mostly super-lame. No one with the brass ones to pick MJMS? Schiavone? Caamawwwn. The sleeper picks for the men's side are respectable if predictable.

Posted by AB 06/17/2010 at 01:03 PM

Colette: if you're still around, love Vuvurenka. The moniker, not the player. Can't stand the noise. She's a muter, for sure.

Posted by CWATC 06/17/2010 at 01:06 PM

Thanks for the link on the expert's picks.

Gotta love the intro: "When healthy, Rafael Nadal has spent a better part of the past three years knocking Roger Federer off his pedestal."

Who writes these things? In the past three years, Nadal has exactly two wins over Fed off clay. (i don't include clay wins as knocking off a pedestal as Fed was never on the pedestal there, lol)They took place within a slightly over six month period. Maybe it felt like three years.

MJF picks Nadal over Fed? Ouch.

See a couple sleeper picks for Berdych. He's my sleeper as well based on FO performance, and since he didn't play Queens or Halle he didn't have the opportunity to embarrass himself on grass yet and prove me wrong!


Posted by Papo (Got Nadal?) 06/17/2010 at 01:07 PM

"Women's tennis would then show once again its incredible depth, while the men would still be in FeDal land"

No offence to Women's tennis, but in defense of Men's tennis I think the best of three sets format is a factor when it comes to the "depth". This past week Federer, Nadal, Murray, Roddick and Djokovic all lost in best of three sets matches to much lower ranked players. IMO, it will be a little harder for lower ranked players to replicate those results in the best of five format Majors' matches.

Posted by Sherlock 06/17/2010 at 01:08 PM

I like Pspace's "Richard and Oracene Chromosome Invitational". :)

Vuvurenka is outstanding too. :)

Jewell, times are tough, so Pam was eager to take a few bucks to give Alicia a shout-out. :)

Seriously, that makes no sense to me. Alicia hasn't done squat lately.

Posted by CPM 06/17/2010 at 01:12 PM

Vuvurenka! I missed who coined that one, but that is clutch. That should be passed on to the official TWibe Committee on Nicknames & Sobriquets PDQ.

Posted by ActionFlunky 06/17/2010 at 01:17 PM

The only thing I found a tad ludicrous was the one expert who picked Henin as his or her sleeper. Really? Henin as a sleeper? Won't she go off as one of the top four or five favorites to win the whole thing?

Also agree that picking DavyD as an early exit was less than bold.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/17/2010 at 01:21 PM

@Papo, whether it be best of 3 or best of 5, men's tennis has no depth, especially at the majors. When 2 players have won 23 out of 25 majors played in the past 4 years, you have to look it in the eye and say it like it is. When someone outside of the top 10 finally wins a MS event, after being on Tour for the better part of a decade, the truth really hits you in the face. When was the last time anyone outside of the top 4 won a MS event? That was earlier this year in IW when Ivan finally won and he had to beat Nadal to get to the finals. Same thing with Roddick who got his first MS win almost 5 years after his last one.

One player went through the whole European clay season by dropping one set. How does that speak to depth. Phewt. FWIW when someone takes out the top 2 it is like an anomaly more so than depth.

Posted by CPM 06/17/2010 at 01:22 PM

Picking Henin as your sleeper should lead to having your expert accreditation revoked.


Whaddaya mean these experts aren't accredited?!

Posted by bckbypplrdmnd 06/17/2010 at 01:22 PM

This article points out the main reason why the Spanish clay courters have had more success on grass courts. Since the ball bounces higher this means when you are returning serve the ball will not skid as much and give a shallow angle, but now will skid at a higher angle giving the returner more time to hit it back. The fact is since 2001 all courts at Wimbledon have been sown with 100% Perennial Ryegrass, a grass native to Europe, Asia and northern Africa. Courts were previously 70% Ryegrass and 30% Creeping Red Fescue grass. So basically Rafael Nadal would have a very low chance pre-2001 Wimbledon surface to even return most of Roger Federer's serve. Considering how much slower the courts are now, it is amazing that Roger has won Wimby 6 times. Spanish players are very lucky that their precious clay court surface have stayed the same. It's unfortunate when the surface of the most prestigious tournament in the world is changed due to racquet technology.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 06/17/2010 at 01:23 PM

Have we settled on a name yet? Is it too late for me to chime in? I think the S&V Invitational is very catchy. That gets my vote. But I think it's up to the Master to decide, no?

Posted by Papo (Got Nadal?) 06/17/2010 at 01:24 PM

While I can understand the LTA not giving Bogdanovic a wildcard, it's now kind of embarrasing that Wimbledon has only two Brits in the draw. Murray and main draw wildcard entry Jamie Baker are the only two native players, and they're not even English, hehe. Roland Garros seems to enter as many Frenchmen into the draw as they can.

Posted by Sherlock 06/17/2010 at 01:24 PM

Indeed, AF. Of course, 5 or 6 of them picked Sharapova as a sleeper. I've got to really think about what a "sleeper" means. Can a former champ be a sleeper? I guess after what Maria's been through injury-wise, that makes sense.

Btw, thanks to whoever posted that Murray commercial. That was really cool. :)

Posted by CPM 06/17/2010 at 01:28 PM

You know, YMMV & all that, but depth on its own isn't necessarily a good thing -- or, rather, *depth* is, but parity isn't. Obviously there isn't anything close to parity in the men's game, and there hasn't been since Roger started dominating the tour, and it only got worse when Nadal started owning the only surface where Fed looked vulnerable. Whether that's a good thing or not will depend a lot on how highly you value lots of close matches and unpredictable results -- but it's also not inconsistent with having a deep field, if the situation is one where you've got one or two historically good players, then 2 or 3 more very good players behind them, and another 5 or 10 solid, quality players behind them.

Posted by ActionFlunky 06/17/2010 at 01:31 PM

Sherlock -- yeah, my line of thinking with the Sharapova picks was that if she were to win the thing it would be a bit Cinderella-ish, hence "sleeper" status was okay. But it gave me momentary pause like you.

Silly as it sounds, a commerical like Murray's could help the sport's popularity here in the States. (think it was robbyfan who posted it.)

Posted by Sherlock 06/17/2010 at 01:31 PM

I hear what Karen is saying, but I agree with CPM too. What can I say, I'm a fence-rider. :)

But yeah, it all depends on definition of depth. The Lendl/Becker/Edberg/Wilander days were great for depth of the studs at the top, but maybe depth of top 50 wasn't what it is now.

Posted by CPM 06/17/2010 at 01:32 PM

Sherlock, they say a sleep has to be out of the top 10, and an early exit has to be in the top 10. It's pretty clearly not a sufficient criterion, but ... you know, whatevs.

Posted by wilson75 06/17/2010 at 01:34 PM

I'm not surprised Mary Jo picked Rafa, she's trying to be an impartial "journalist". But impartiality is a little hard to maintain when she's seen sitting in Roger's box, latest being at Miami. She has stop sitting in Roger's box if she want to appear professional. As a matter of fact she and PMac shoud'nt be in the booth because of their jobs with the USTA.

Posted by Master Ace 06/17/2010 at 01:35 PM

"Richard and Oracene Chromosome Invitational"

Pspace,
LOL.

"MA, and if somebody comes up with a name you prefer to your present choice, will you change your pick?"

Kwaku,
I can be persuaded to change.

Posted by Mr. and Mrs. D. 06/17/2010 at 01:36 PM

"and an early exit has to be in the top 10"

aaaaah....CPM, I get it now. No wonder no one picked Ana/Dinara. Went straight to picks....didn't read the brief editor's note (got caught cheating!).

Posted by AB 06/17/2010 at 01:37 PM

Let's make our own definitions:

Early exit = Top 10 Seeds

Sleeper = outside of the 20

Dark Horse = outside of top 50

Posted by Master Ace 06/17/2010 at 01:37 PM

"Vuvurenka!"

CPM,
Give Colette credit for that name.

Posted by Sherlock 06/17/2010 at 01:37 PM

YF, agreed on Maria. It would be a great story.

I agree about the commercial. I think those types of things are always good. Reminded me of that Andre-Pete ad years ago, where they jump out of the taxi, set up the net, and start playing on the NY street. Tennis really CAN be cool when marketed well. :)

Posted by CPM 06/17/2010 at 01:39 PM

Yeah, I'm not knocking the virtues of some parity -- having a situation where you've got 4 or 5 guys at the top without much to separate them, but who are all playing at a pretty high level, is pretty dern exciting. And I'm pretty ready for the Fedal vice-grip on Slams to be over. But this is, I guess, just a matter of taste.

Posted by robbyfan 06/17/2010 at 01:42 PM

"Silly as it sounds, a commerical like Murray's could help the sport's popularity here in the States. (think it was robbyfan who posted it.)"


My tennis playing son sent it to all his non-tennis friends as in his words, way kewl!

Posted by Mr. and Mrs. D. 06/17/2010 at 01:42 PM

wilson75...does MJF get 'caught' sitting in Roger's box when her employer, ESPN, is airing the match or only when other stations cover it? That would seem particularly odd. Is Cahill also seen sitting in adidas player boxes when he is on commentator duty at espn?

Posted by Ruth 06/17/2010 at 01:44 PM

+...but in defense of Men's tennis I think the best of three sets format is a factor when it comes to the "depth". +++

Then, I'd suggest that the ATP should stop playing 94% of all the tournments on their calendar using this depth-defying (pun intended) 2/3 format. LOL

Posted by Sherlock 06/17/2010 at 01:45 PM

Matter of taste indeed, CPM. As fun as Fedal can be, I'm looking forward to when the slams are more of a free-for-all. Both situations are enjoyable. Just different.

Is the ATP depth deficient, or are Rog and Rafa just that good? Partly cloudy, partly sunny, I think.

Posted by CPM 06/17/2010 at 01:49 PM

Sherlock,

Your last question is edging dangerously close to "weak era" territory ... if I didn't know better, I'd say you were pot-stirring ;-)

Posted by wilson75 06/17/2010 at 01:53 PM

Mr. and Mrs. D: From my memory, I have never seen them on ESPN and I very much doubt that the ESPN cameras would pan on them if they were in the players box while they were on the air. But maybe they think that people on watch tennis on ESPN so it wouldn't look bad to been seen on other broadcasts. Another thing, Mary Jo, Pmac and Cahill should not be in the booth or sidelines when one of their players (USTA or Addidas) are playing, it doesn't look good to me. The weirdest and most uncomfortable thing is when Mary Jo is interviewing Roger before or after a match or Brad interviewing Murray.

Posted by Sherlock 06/17/2010 at 01:55 PM

CPM, well, maybe a little. :)

Honestly, the thought does cross my mind. Maybe these two AREN'T as great as we think? Roger is Rafa's main rival in Paris? Rafa and Roddick are Roger's great challengers at Wimby all these years? Really?

But I hate the weak era arguments, so I'll stop. :) It's an interesting discussion until people get ticked off and defensive. Which usually doesn't take long. :) Nobody bloody knows for sure, and that's good enough for me.

Posted by AB 06/17/2010 at 01:56 PM

...And Sleepers can't be former GS Champs

Early exit = Top 10 Seeds
Men: Ferrer
Women: Pennetta

Sleeper = outside of the 20
Men: Querrey
Women: Dulgheru (she's my breakout player of 2010)

Dark Horse = outside of top 50
Men: Fish
Women: Zakopalova (only because I like to say her name out loud)

Master Ace:

Interplanetary Invitational

Posted by ActionFlunky 06/17/2010 at 02:03 PM

Well, no offense to Fedal, but I do wonder about this era's strength in terms of clay and grass. HCs I have no question as virutually all the top guys play well on concrete -- one of the reasons the AOs and USOs have always seemed a bit more of a free-for-all. Clay and grass? Not so much.

Oh well, we'll miss them when they're gone, and given the one's age and the other's knee, who knows how much longer the dominance will last.

Posted by CPM 06/17/2010 at 02:06 PM

Sherlock,

Yeah, it's definitely the kind of thing that can get your mind going in circles -- which isn't always a bad thing :) I'm just not sure there's any way in principle to disambiguate a 'he looks dominant because the era's so weak' interpretation from a 'the era looks weak because he's so dominant' one (to say nothing of all the middle-paths between the two extremes). I mean, I guess someone stat-minded could try to do some sort of regression analysis, and maybe--assuming neither bias nor bad models nor plain ol' error crept in--just maybe that would tell us something useful.

But I think for the most part we're stuck talking ex ano on the subject :)

Posted by Pspace 06/17/2010 at 02:07 PM

Hmmm...I think Roger and Rafa are just that good. Seriously, are you guys watching the same footage that I'm seeing? I mean...their tennis is just ridiculous. Blasphemy :-).

Posted by Master Ace 06/17/2010 at 02:07 PM

AB,
Early Exit - Davydenko and Schiavone with Pennetta 2nd.
Sleeper - Querrey and Petkovic with Martinez Sanchez 2nd.
Dark Horse - Malisse and Flipkens with Baltacha and Rybarikova close.

Posted by AB 06/17/2010 at 02:09 PM

BTW - thank you to all who recommended "Open."

JR Moehringer's ghosting was so superb that I've ordered his book "The Tender Bar" from the library. Subtly keeps Agassi a very sympathetic character throughout.

Really great memoir and a must-read for any sport fan.

I'm taking a step back from criticizing the youngsters after getting a glimpse of the bizarro world of tennis parents and the lack of role models for simply becoming a human being.

They clearly they have no emotional and intellectual defensive tools and lack the maturity to deal with the scrutiny they're under. Makes the Slams Novak and Juan Martin snatched look phenomenal.

Posted by ActionFlunky 06/17/2010 at 02:09 PM

Nice picks, AB, especially on the women's side. Btw, didn't know Ferrer was a top ten seed. Yeah, can't see him lasting more than a couple of rounds.

Posted by Andrew 06/17/2010 at 02:12 PM

Sherlock: absent other evidence, I think the starting point for most comparisons of sportsmen and women between eras (Helen Wills Moody vs Steffi Graf, etc) is to assume that the talent pool at the top level is roughly the same from decade to decade, but the achievements of the very top players relative to their peers helps us to make judgements about the relative standing of those very top players.

The actual way the sport is played changes over time - player size and shape (NFL, basketball, even ATP tennis), technology, conditioning/sports medicine, surfaces, tactical variations, and so on. But we still get to compare Bart Starr to Joe Montana to Peyton Manning, and we can still compare Bill Tilden to Pancho Gonzalez to Rod Laver to Bjorn Borg to Rafael Nadal. Making a definitive statement, though, always seems fraught with difficulty.

Hence my "there is no GOAT, but if there is she's called Martina Navratilova."

Posted by ActionFlunky 06/17/2010 at 02:14 PM

Pspace -- can't speak for Sherlock, but guess I should have clarified. Federer and Rafa stack up with anyone in the history of the game in terms of clay (Rafa) and grass (Fed). What I was talking about was the rest of the top ten. I just think the others bring it more on concrete. There are exceptions, of course. Roddick on grass being the most notable. But otherwise, the field becomes much more level on the harder surfaces.

Posted by Pat frm Philippines... 06/17/2010 at 02:17 PM

hi guys...

hi all..

just want to brag that philippines top tennis junior star, jeson patrombon, now ranked 37 in the world, will play the doubles finals (with krueger of usa) of the 11th Gerry Weber Open against the 2nd seeds from austria and germany...

amazing achievement from the 17 year old who last month had just reached the top 50 in the world...

Jeson Patrombon lives in Iligan City, 30 minutes from our hometown... he and another young filipino tennis star Francis Casey Alcantara (09 Aussie Open doubles champ), 60th in the world, are two tennis hopes from Philippines...

hope they can succeed and become andrei agassi and pete sampras of the philippines, or become rafa and fed in the tennis world...

good luck jeson!!!

onwards to wimbledon!!!

Posted by AB 06/17/2010 at 02:18 PM

Master Ace:

Interesting. I think Schiavone's weaker on grass than Pennetta, but something is up with Flavia. She's not playing to her level. It's that elusive momentum thing. Also, while I'm sure she's happy for Franny, that's got to eat at you a bit, eh?

Also think old Nico has been here so many times that he can win a few reflexivly. Ferrer is in a slump.

I like Querrey and Petkovic as well. I'm just impressed with Mardy reinventing himself. Well, except for the socks.

As for Malisse, he's doing well, but the guy's time is long gone. He just doesn't know how to win. I like Baltacha. Flipkens not so much. Don't really know Rybarikova.

Posted by Pat frm Philippines... 06/17/2010 at 02:19 PM

@MA...

cant believe you picked franny for an early exit at wimby... she had reached the quarters last year... isnt it a good sign???

Posted by AB 06/17/2010 at 02:20 PM

C'mon ActionFlunky, Andrew - let's have your picks.

Congrats Pat from the PI. I'll look for your players. What about your picks,huh?

Posted by Pat frm Philippines... 06/17/2010 at 02:22 PM

@everyone???

why did richard gasquet pulled out??? thinks he was playing well in RG if not for fatigue... injury??? or fatigue???

Posted by AB 06/17/2010 at 02:23 PM

Andrew: did you see my quant post with finals appearances (win or lose) and the ranking of the opponent? I used Laver, Borg, Sampras, Federer and Nadal.

But, more important, give up your picks, guys.

Posted by Pspace 06/17/2010 at 02:23 PM

ActionFlunky, hmmm...let's start with Wimby. Hasn't it almost always been the case that there are three or four contenders for the title? Rog, Rafa, Roddick. Sampras, Goran, Andre(?), and Pat(?). Becker, Edberg, Lendl. Borg, Connors, Mac. (Rafa gave us a taste of what Andre could have been at Wimbledon if he'd had more desire there in his youth). Roger and Sampras seem pretty much on par to me...of course, those with a bias to that era will mention Stich, Becker et al...but I'm not gonna get into that again.

As for RG, given that there's been a homogenization of surfaces, with more players comfortable at the baseline, shouldn't it follow that the competition at RG is tougher than ever? Probably explains why we've seen the death of the specialist (at least of all specialists except one). Also, there have been guys consistenly making SFs, e.g., Monfils and Djokovic. Not much more you can ask from an era.

Posted by Sherlock 06/17/2010 at 02:24 PM

"I'm just not sure there's any way in principle to disambiguate a 'he looks dominant because the era's so weak' interpretation from a 'the era looks weak because he's so dominant' one (to say nothing of all the middle-paths between the two extremes)"

Well said, CPM. Agreed. And my mind goes in circles most of the time anyway, so it's nothing new there. :)

Andrew, thanks for that. Interesting stuff. Reminds me of baseball stats for guys like Pedro Martinez and Greg Maddux. In their prime, their stats were very good, comparable with stars of the past. But when you compare them against the rest of the league versus the past stars against their peers, Pedro and Greg were phenomenal. Btw, I love the Goat/Martina line. :)

ActionFlunky, agree, I think, about clay and grass and things in general. :)

Posted by Master Ace 06/17/2010 at 02:26 PM

AB,
Malisse is having some good results in the past 2 weeks at 's-Hertogenbosch and London. He is also playing mixed doubles with Kim. Speaking of mixed, Lindsay and Bob are playing together. Magdalena is a decent grass court player winning in Birmingham last year.

Posted by robbyfan 06/17/2010 at 02:29 PM

Men's Winner-Roddick
Finalist-Rafa
Early out-Nole
Sleeper-Mardy Fish
And remember if Mardy wins I promise to eat the Top 10 player's socks.

Posted by Jenni 06/17/2010 at 02:29 PM

"Ferrer is in a slump."

How do you figure? He had the best clay-court season of his life and played one crappy match against a red-hot Melzer.

Posted by ActionFlunky 06/17/2010 at 02:35 PM

AB -- you don't want my picks (but I like your criteria). I'm the guy who, on the eve of the last three Slams, picked Elena Dementieva to win the women's championship. Anyway, w/out being too much of a tease/cop-out, I'll say Makarova is my dark horse on the women's side (yeah, I know; kinda lame given her week in Eastborne) and the women's titlist will not be named Williams or Henin. On the men's side, my sleeper will be Warwinka and my dark horse Leonardo Mayer.

Posted by Pspace 06/17/2010 at 02:37 PM

What should a sleeper do to be considered a good sleeper pick? I don't think we're gonna have much by way of surprise in the ATP SFs. Are we gonna be held to the "red-hot Melzer" standard ;-)

Posted by Pat frm Philippines... 06/17/2010 at 02:38 PM

oh hi AB...

thanks for asking me...

early exit:

ATP: Ferrer (game not suit to grass)
WTA: Peer & Pennetta (as much as Peer is playing well this year, grass is not surface; thinks that flavia will defend her 3rd round place last year)

sleepers:

ATP: R. Schuttler (thinks he reached SFs in 2008, played good in the grass season this year) & Querrey (well, winning on all surfaces this year is something, potent weapon on the grass: serve)
WTA: Zie Jheng & Na Li (support for asians, big hitters, flat hitters, agile, na li had a good first serve; former SFs & QFs, can topple any seed on any given day)

dark horse:

ATP: i dont know??? maybe Lleyton... (wants to see him do well again)
WTA: Petkovic (loved her, saw her in two exciting matches this year, but both times she lost to sveta and to aravane; has a game, hard hitter, good serve, good ace count; and she replies once to my tweet, when i asked who her fave player was, and replied RAFA!!!!!)

Posted by Heather 06/17/2010 at 02:43 PM

Winner: Andy R. (finally!!)
Finalist: Rafa or Roger :)
Early Exit: Soderling

Posted by ActionFlunky 06/17/2010 at 02:43 PM

And yes, Pat, congrats on your countrymen. Hope they continue to do well.

Posted by Pat frm Philippines... 06/17/2010 at 02:49 PM

thanks for well wishing for our tennis hopefuls @ActionFlunky and @AB...

Posted by Samantha Elin(Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hot like me) 06/17/2010 at 02:49 PM

LOL on all the ESPN "experts who picked Caro to go out early when Dina has been a hot mess all year and Ana is struggling. Doesn't bother me, like I said, Caro to the hater, don't you wish your pusher was hott like me. She is going to surprise people with how well she will play. Go Caro, Scandinavia's #1, World's no 3, reigning USO finalist.

Posted by Pspace 06/17/2010 at 02:50 PM

Ok, my gut sez:

Winner: Not Rog, Rafa or Randy (c'mon that counts as a pick). Serena.

Early exit: Rafa (3rd round) and Roger (4th round). And, Justine

*branch breaks and Pspace falls*

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 06/17/2010 at 02:53 PM

just saw the Andy Murray Head spot. AWESOME!!!

Posted by Pat frm Philippines... 06/17/2010 at 02:55 PM

@Sam..

look at the bright side... caro played well last year at wimby, reached the 4th round before losing to sabine, and went on to reach the 2nd round or better at all the majors since then...

sam, i think caro can reach further in wimby this year...

good luck... really hope she does have a good draw...

Posted by @work 06/17/2010 at 02:56 PM

Name suggestion:
'The Andy Murray better win cause the Queen is watching Championship' ;-)

Posted by CPM 06/17/2010 at 02:56 PM

Samantha,

At the risk of spitting into the wind on the subject, the ESPN picks for early exits had to be among the top ten seeds. Since neither Safina nor Ivanovic are top ten seeds, ... well, I'll leave the conclusion as an exercise for the reader.

My Picks --
Winners: Roddick, Williams
Early Exits: Roddick, the other Williams.

Posted by Samantha Elin(Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hot like me) 06/17/2010 at 02:57 PM

Totally agree, ignore the haters.

Posted by Pat frm Philippines... 06/17/2010 at 02:57 PM

now i know why richard is pulling out of wimby...

Rib Injury...

must have been very serious to miss wimby... :(

Posted by Master Ace 06/17/2010 at 02:59 PM

Samantha Elin,
ESPN rules are an early exit must be someone in the Top 10.

Posted by Pat frm Philippines... 06/17/2010 at 02:59 PM

@CPM...

really am hoping your pix wont come true... hehehehehe... cruel!!!

Posted by CPM 06/17/2010 at 02:59 PM

Shame about Reechard. Hope the injury wasn't sustained by means of a coke-using cocktail waitress. Or that it was, depending on the particulars.

Posted by robbyfan 06/17/2010 at 03:00 PM

CPM-LOL at your picks, I started to do the same!

Posted by CPM 06/17/2010 at 03:00 PM

Pat,

Not sure why you'd hope so strongly that Roddick plays to seed (and no further), but OK :)

Posted by robbyfan 06/17/2010 at 03:01 PM

Reeshard-shame for Beth and Missie.

Posted by CPM 06/17/2010 at 03:02 PM

robbyfan,

Great minds, my friend, great minds.

(Unfortunately, also: lesser minds. But let's stick with the first one.)

Posted by Colette 06/17/2010 at 03:04 PM

Quick check back in (the woes of having to see work-people in person)

Pspace, Richard and Oracene Chromosome Invitational!

Btw, leaving the WC on TV when I leave the house has a very calming effect on my coonhound.

Posted by Pat frm Philippines... 06/17/2010 at 03:07 PM

@CPM...

hahahah...

you're cruel... i really wanted to see andy finally hoisting that trophy... last year... after that missed opportunity, 2010 may have been a year for him... winning his first masters in 5 years, first slam in 7 years.... :)

Posted by Colette 06/17/2010 at 03:10 PM

Speaking of tournament names, these warm ups have some doozies. The Boodles Challenge (believe Ruth? mentioned that this am).

And the Unicef Open?!! I want to know - in lieu of trophies - get little cardboard containers with pennies??

Posted by Pspace 06/17/2010 at 03:11 PM

"""
Rib Injury...
"""

"""
Hope the injury wasn't sustained by means of a coke-using cocktail waitress. Or that it was, depending on the particulars.
"""

There's a biblical joke to be had here. I guess he used a rib to create a Pamela in order to get a kiss of coke.

Posted by Colette 06/17/2010 at 03:12 PM

should have said ... do the winners get little ....

Posted by CPM 06/17/2010 at 03:14 PM

Pspace,

As long as no one's snake makes an appearance, I think the Biblical jokes should work just fine.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/17/2010 at 03:18 PM

As is the norm, I refuse to make any picks so that I do not jinx my faves. I just want them to do very well.

Sleepers for me on the women's side: Petkovic, Dulgheru, Shvedova and dare I say it, Ivanovic. Now before all those boots start hitting me I think her game has improved somewhat and if she gets a manageable draw, I see her making round of 16.

As for the men, I have absolutely no clue. I just hope Dustin makes it into the main draw that way he can win a round or two. It would be the first Jamaican to win a match at Wimbledon. That would be so much awesomeness for us here in Jamaica.

Posted by robbyfan 06/17/2010 at 03:32 PM

@JKaren-Your talking about young Dustin brings back to mind the Jamaican bob sled team and the movie "Cool Runnings". One of my all time favorite feel good movies.

Posted by Kwaku 06/17/2010 at 03:32 PM

My picks:

Winner: Rafa.
Finalist: Roger.
Early exit: Murray.
Sleeper: Baghdatis.
Dark horse: Fish.
Strange duck: Golubev.

WTA (with such depth of field, it's a toss of a coin, but let me try):
Winner: Serena.
Finalist: Williams.
Ealy exit: Wozniacki.
Sleeper: María José.
Dark horse: Date Krumm.
Strange duck: Bartoli.

Posted by Sherlock 06/17/2010 at 03:32 PM

Pspace and CPM, well done. :) Though I think the vuvuzelas are having their effect on Pspace's picks.

Colette, I feel sorry for your coonhound. :)

Posted by Colette 06/17/2010 at 03:38 PM

Sherlock, apparently she only minds bees outdoors

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 06/17/2010 at 03:42 PM

Colette: LOL, well at least some creatures are calmed by that noise..

I'm enjoying everyone's predictions. I will give it some thought and get
back. I'll probably list several players that are out with injuries. I'm not really
up to par on the draw atm.

Do we have a name for this tourney yet? Has MA made a decision?

Posted by CPM 06/17/2010 at 03:44 PM

Kwaku,

Consider yourself KAD-bait from this point on. For picking Rafa over Fed? Oh no. No one kicks the Golden Retriever and gets away with it. Not here, my friend.

Posted by lollipop (the lost puppy of the ATP) 06/17/2010 at 03:44 PM

for those who miss delpo like I do:
http://twitpic.com/1w51bh

he says on twitter that he no longer has to where the cast, and that he has progressed well in his recovery. vamos! I miss him and want him back and healthy again. I'm sure Argentina's success will be a bit of positive inspiration :)

Posted by CPM 06/17/2010 at 03:45 PM

I saw on the Wimbeldon website that they have official banned vuvuzelas from the grounds. I, for one, am shocked.

Posted by Kwaku 06/17/2010 at 03:45 PM

Annie, there is a contest running now as to who gets the closest to Master Ace's chosen name.
If you come up with a good one, you may even change his mind.
So give it a try...

Posted by Colette 06/17/2010 at 03:45 PM

Annie, think a lot of us are pushing for Pspace's Richard and Oracene Chromosome Invitational

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/17/2010 at 03:48 PM

@robbyfan, I must be the most unpatriotic Jamaican ever as I really did not like that movie - LOL

Posted by Sherlock 06/17/2010 at 03:48 PM

Colette, maybe her particular breed has a very fine gap in the frequencies they can hear? Nature's insanity filter, perhaps?

Lol. Kwaku, yes, you are now on "the list". :)

Posted by Colette 06/17/2010 at 03:54 PM

Believe me, this dog (sweet thing that she is) has no filters for insanity.

Posted by AB 06/17/2010 at 03:56 PM

Kwaku:
Write to ESPN and ask them to add your Strange Duck picks.

Mine for the Men: Dogopolov, Jr.

Amen to Bartoli for the Women.

Hi Colette: we were yucking it up over your Vuvurenka.

And CPM: According to Colette, Rafa is a Chocolate Lab. Don't think Feddy is a Retriever. He's more of a Bernese Mountain Dog (...Bernese Mountain Dog is well known thanks to its striking tricoloured coat and its great adaptibility)

Posted by Kwaku 06/17/2010 at 03:57 PM

Richard and Oracene Chromosome Invitational sounds great, but I don't undesrstand the first (unless it's Gasquet) and the second words... which means I'm sadly missing the point :-(
CPM: at an old age, smallpox.
lollipop, thanks for the link, and it was great to read he no longer has to WEAR the cast. Nice photo too.

Posted by Colette 06/17/2010 at 03:58 PM

I think of Fed as a Saluki or Afghan hound

Posted by AB 06/17/2010 at 04:00 PM

Colette: His face is more of a Pug.

Posted by CPM 06/17/2010 at 04:00 PM

Kwaku,

Richard & Oracene Williams.

AB,

I was referring to a certain Polish expat who plays on the women's tour. And we all know Federer's an Afghan Hound, on account of the hair.

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