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A Genuine Holstein 07/07/2010 - 4:37 PM

102615989
by Pete Bodo

Wimbledon is my favorite tournament to cover outside the U.S., for a variety of reasons, beginning with the most sensible—and selfish—of them all. London, more specifically Wimbledon Village, is the place where I feel most comfortable and which I find, to use a term any Anglophile will understand, the most civilized. It's not worth reading a whole lot into that; it's mostly circumstantial. For me, the living and working conditions at Wimbledon are unique. Others may not be so happy there.

I like to go for a run every other morning, at home or on the road. The spacious three-story townhouse I share in Wimbledon with El Jon Wertheim and one or more other colleagues (this year, it was Greg Couch, whose AOL FanHouse column is a great read) is in a setback off the Church Road. It's a 10-minute walk up the hill from the All England Club, and a five-minute walk from the heart of Wimbledon Village, with its restaurants, pubs, coffee boutiques and grocery stores. And just beyond town is Wimbledon Common, a huge, semi-forested park with, among other things, wide but shaded dirt trails, bridle paths for horseback riding, and a golf course.

So on my typical 5-mile run, I leave the house and within four minutes I'm on the Common, where I try not to get lost as I explore this or that path. I ought to drop breadcrumbs as I pick my route, but the abundant pigeons would get them. So I try to memorize mini-landmarks (OK, left at the forked tree with the strange scar on its bark; right at the discarded and flattened juice box some child left behind). It's a pleasant exercise for someone like me, who enjoys observing details and knowing where he stands—more or less. 

I noticed this year that the typical English dog is well behaved (and they love their Labrador retrievers over there as much as we do). The dogs poke along, obediently, nosing around here or there in the brush or a trail-side meadow; they might briefly sniff a passing dog or simply trot by it. If they could talk, they might say to each other, Morning! Looks like we dodged that shower. Have a nice day!

Whereas my own dog Buck would be running hellbent through or over (he doesn't seem to care which) everything in his erratic and unpredictable path, and he'd try to engage every other dog along the trail; tease or irritate it into a spirited wrestling match, preferably near a mud hole, or goad it into playing a game of catch me—if you can.

It's often put the other way round, but I say people are a lot like their dogs.

One morning, I walked through the gate for credentialed personnel and debenture holding swells right behind an American couple, who clearly were meeting up with British friends who stood waiting just a few feet away. The British lady was dressed in a discreet, sleeveless flower-print dress and tasteful, pale yellow peep-toe sandals with a medium heel. A perfect outfit for Wimbledon, with just the right dash of (properly) sexy.

The American woman had wriggled into a tight, dazzlingly white dress with a hem well above her knees and a neckline that plunged as dramatically as a WTA ranking. She teetered on chartreuse spaghetti-strap sandals with high, pencil-thin heels.

"You look gorgeous," the British lady said, embracing her Yankee friend. "Just stunning."

What? She looks like a hooker, I thought—not that it doesn't work for me...or these other two gents.

I reckoned the British lady thought the same thing. But she's British, you see...

Anyway, as I run back out of the Common, I roll into town and stop at the grocery for some peaches or cherries, a can of that San Pellegrino Limonata (highly recommended), and a medium iced coffee (Americano) at Starbucks. If you were at Wimbledon these past two weeks, you could see Lindsay Davenport at the intersection of the High Street and Church Road on any given morning, wrestling her stroller and child up onto the curb while desperately trying to avoid spilling the cup of Starbuck's coffee in her hand, expletives not deleted.

The working conditions at Wimbledon are superb. The Centre Court compound (including the seeded-player locker rooms), International Press Centre, and Millennium building (which houses, among other things, the player's tea room/restaurant, the "buttery" for umpires and line officials, and the All England Club member's bar and dining enclave) are connected by various elevated walkways and open spaces. You can also access the massive Broadcast Centre from them, although you have to run a gauntlet of security guards who make sure your credential gives you access to each successive area. Which mine does.

My favorite spot is the "Players' Garden," the second-story terrace between the press centre and Millennium building. It has a real turf floor just like Centre Court itself, which is odd, given that you're 20 feet above ground level. The garden is dotted with lawn furniture, and there's a sandwich shop (you custom-build your own) and small bar. The Players' Garden is where you go to meet people—or catch coaches, celebrities, former players, officials and most any pooh-bah who makes his way to Wimbledon for the day.

We caught up with Toni Nadal and Bjorn Borg there, right after the final. Nearby, Grace Jones was swanning around, and she finally sat down with Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood. He's a skinny little fella, and I couldn't help overhear him bragging to Jones that he's been "clean and serene." Way to go, Ronnie.... You're too old to die now, which is how it works in rock and roll.

If you stand leaning on the railing of the Players' Garden, you may be looking down upon fans jammed into the relatively narrow walkway between the Centre Court and Millennium building. The two are connected, but only by an open, narrow bridge above the walkway. The fans have figured out that if they crowd into the passageway and stand there, they have a fair chance of seeing any personage on his way out from Centre Court to the Millennium building and transportation desk and courtesy car pick-up area. On most big days, a steady stream of tennis celebrities crosses that bridge, and each of them has a chance to wave at the cheering throngs below on either side.

Last Sunday, a maintenance man appeared at intervals after the final, as the crowd below the bridge waited patiently for a glimpse of Rafael Nadal (or was it Xisca? There sure were a lot of boys in the throng). He had a plastic Wimbledon bag full of used tournament tennis balls. He began tossing them from the bridge to the crowd, who fought (insofar as polite Wimbledon-goers are capable of aggression) for the balls, crying and cheering out all the while. It reminded me of my Catholic grammar school, where my third-grade teacher (Sister Aurelia, if I remember correctly) on Friday would have us push our desks to the walls and line up at the back of the classroom. Then she'd throw pieces of taffy or a peppermint and we'd all scramble and fight over them like they were golden ingots. Talk about old school...

Actually, the press work room where I violate the language on a daily basis is directly below the Players' Garden, and the large windows look out on that passageway and across at the Radio Wimbledon office and studio, built into the Centre Court.  All in all, Wimbledon has done a great job, from my perspective, in keeping the various parts of its official body nicely connected with the others. It's not that the other majors treat the press as the tournament body's appendix, or make a conscious effort segregate the different components of the community. It just works out that way more so than at Wimbledon. The planning has been superb and sensible.

I don't want to leave you all without a little tennis today, so here's an anecdote relayed to me by my pal Alejandro Delmas, of the Spanish language Diario As. In his meeting with the Spanish press after his semifinal win, Rafael Nadal was asked what he would write about Roger Federer if he were a journalist.

"First," Rafa replied, "no way I would be a journalist."

He went on to say, "You guys have tried to kill Roger—often. But he's always come back and proved you wrong. So one thing I would not do is make the mistake of saying Roger is dead."

A group of us caught also up with Rafa's uncle and coach, Toni Nadal, up in that Players' Garden shortly after the final. He was peppered with the usual assortment of questions, including the inevitable one: Has Rafa surpassed Federer, as the rankings insist?

"Maybe right now Rafa is the better player," Toni conceded.

Will Rafa eclipse Federer's record of 16 major titles. Toni pondered this, then gestured toward his pocket and said, "If I have to put money on it, I say maybe no."

Sixteen is a very big number, and I see two big obstacles standing in Rafa's way. The first is the state of his knees. They caused him to miss a chance to defend his Wimbledon title and, eventually, surrender his No. 1 ranking. That's no small deal. It's a valid subject for speculation, although I wouldn't start using that as an excuse when Nadal loses a match. If he plays, he's fit, or fit enough for injury to be, at best, a minor theme. But who in his right mind would miss a chance to defend a Wimbledon title, as Nadal did last year, because he had a little soreness in an arm, back or leg? That beats a note from the doctor in my book, any day.

The other roadblock is more subtle but no less formidable, and that's Nadal's lack of a natural affinity and affection for hard courts. Sure his asphalt game has improved, and he's successfully incorporated elements into his repertoire that have made him a much better hard court player. And there's no doubt that he's poised to focus his summer on making a run for the U.S. Open title that would complete his career Grand Slam. But does he really feel it on hard courts, the way he feels it on clay, and grass?

Nadal loves clay. We always knew that. But he loves grass as much as he loves red dirt, and that's a bit of a surprise. I don't think many of us took it seriously when Nadal first revealed that he really burned to win Wimbledon. We shrugged: Who doesn't?  It sounded like he was just saying the right thing, blowing a little smoke to be polite. And we'd been conditioned by a succession of clay-court champions to believe that you couldn't possible love both surfaces. Roland Garros winners like Thomas Muster, Sergi Bruguera, and even Gustavo Kuerten made no secret of their antipathy to grass; in some of their cases it bordered on contempt. Grass is for cows, and all that. They basically lowered the bar of our expectations. But Nadal, even in his youth, never harbored such feelings.

We know now how much Nadal loves grass and Wimbledon. You don't get to the Wimbledon final in four of five years, as Nadal has done, pretending to a Holstein. So Nadal's main problem now, if he hopes to catch up with Federer, is one that's not likely to change even if he should win the U.S. Open in September. He's less likely to be happy on hard courts; less inclined, perhaps, to cultivate and maintain the same frame of mind he has on clay and grass.  With two of the four majors on hard courts (the Australian Open, where Nadal has collected one title, is the other), he's going to need a tremendous fund of determination and discipline, because it's always easier to play where you feel truly comfortable, even happy.

As Rafa might say, "The true is that grass is the perfect soor-face for me, the same like clay."

Who are we to argue?


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Posted by just horsen 07/07/2010 at 04:41 PM

first!

Posted by just horsen 07/07/2010 at 04:42 PM

*off to read the post now* :)

Posted by just horsen 07/07/2010 at 04:54 PM

really enjoyed this one, pete. The descriptions of Wimby were nice, sometimes all we hear about is the tennis and it's nice to read about the atmosphere too, especially for those of us who haven't been able to see it in person yet.

Posted by thebigapple 07/07/2010 at 04:56 PM

So what about that post on Nick Keifer?

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Rafa Channel Slam Winner 2010! 07/07/2010 at 04:58 PM

Pete Many thanks you described the Wimbledon village perfect for me.

I also see you had your Fashionista eye in as well.

To think a clay courter or dirt baller counts Wimbledon as his favourite tournament is indeed a little strange for me.Oh my how times have changed.Rafa being the only Spainish man thus far to win Wimbeldon twice now.

Most tennis experts say winning the Channel Slam is one of the hardest things to accomplish.Rafa has done this twice now.One behind Borg.Its really a testament to him.

Rafa in my eyes is the best player.I think most people would agree.

To come back like he has and play "smarter tennis" may I add shows the sheer mentality he has and his love for the game.

As for the rest of the season "We Gonna See No?"

To even say at this stage how many GS titles he will have obtain and even surpassing Roger is like Pie In The Sky.

For me it will always be his match scheduling and the ongoing management of his knees.

Vamos Rafa! so happy to see you back.

Posted by Ruth 07/07/2010 at 05:03 PM

No commenting before you read the post, just horsen! LOL

Hey, Pete! I hope those 7 ginger ales you drank on the flight home were very tasty and refrehing. ;-) And thanks for those lovely "pictures" of life in the Village and in the venue.

Rafa will never LOVE hardcourts, if only because they are poison to his knees; but I expect him to make a serious attempt to beef up his HC record -- well, as much as he can do so while being sensible about his schedule. When I looked at the rankings last week and saw that Nadal had played 2+ fewer tournaments than all of the other top players in the last 52 weeks, I knew, of course, that his absence from Wimby etc may have been responsible for the gap in the number of tourneys. But I thought...it would be nice to see that gap always --the result of his choosing to play enough tourneys to satisfy the fans and his obligations to the Tour but always fewer than all or most of the other guys.

I like his game and his personality, and I'd like to enjoy his being around -- as an active player -- for as long as possible.

Posted by highpockets 07/07/2010 at 05:09 PM

" ... a neckline that plunged as dramatically as a WTA ranking."

Almost spit out my coffee. Thanks, Pete.

Kudos to Rafa for his comment about Roger. I just want him to bag the career GS by winning the USO ... the rest will be icing on the cake, IMO.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 07/07/2010 at 05:18 PM

Grace Jones and the Stones.

Recall reading a story years ago about Jones hanging out with the Stones at some recording session, spending some "private time" with Mick Jagger, and almost killing the little guy.

Posted by beth 07/07/2010 at 05:25 PM

Pete - really enjoyed this piece.
The description of Wimbledon village - from its dogs to the ladies' dresses- was just awesome
Someday , I hope to go there
and then of course, we threw in some tennis
It's all good

Posted by TheMightyFunk 07/07/2010 at 05:40 PM

Rafa Nadal: "You guys have tried to kill Roger - often. But he's always come back and proved you wrong. So one thing I would not do is make the mistake of saying Roger is dead"

As a Fed fan, I gotta quote Andy Roddick here and say I really want to dislike you, but you are so d-mn nice!! :)

OT here with apologies to those who don't follow the NBA, but anyone else think this whole espn special tomorrow with Lebron James to announce "The Decision" is just a tiny bit over the top??? I mean, I know he's the next coming and his basketball skills are phenomenal, but c'mon...

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 07/07/2010 at 05:41 PM

Thanks for this post, pete. Wimby sounds just sublime. Everything you described sounds so wonderful and special. Compared to the NTC in Flushing which is just a cement behemoth with all the "works" underneath the stadium, I don't blame you for loving Wimbledon.

Rafa may not love HC's but he can play some exciting tennis on them. Count me as one of his fans, like Highpockets, who will be thrilled to see him win a Career Slam. The number of slams isn't as important to me. As long as he's healthy and playing well, the titles (and more slams) will come.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 07/07/2010 at 05:43 PM

The Commons sound so lovely. I didn't realize the village had such a nice wooded area to explore. Do folks camp out there during the tourney?

Posted by Jackie 07/07/2010 at 05:43 PM

Loved this, Pete! It's like I was there. If only ...

highpockets, you still around? Fabulous poem yesterday, as always!

Posted by beth 07/07/2010 at 05:43 PM

TheMightyFunk - I am so with you on that
Get over yourself , Lebron , and while you are at it - take that a**hat Kobe with you
Go away until at least next November
The NBA season has gone on long enough
enufffff!!!

Posted by CL 07/07/2010 at 05:48 PM

"Get over yourself , Lebron , and while you are at it - take that a**hat Kobe with you"

beth - ROFL. All a** and no hat?

I was reading on the other thread that you are suffering with cold and damp. could you please package some of that up and send it this way? Collect! And I will ship you some serious heat, (and I am not talkin' ANY kind of guns), in return.

Posted by highpockets 07/07/2010 at 05:49 PM

Thanks, Jackie ... it's a mutual admiration society ... I always look forward to your stuff too.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Rafa Channel Slam Winner 2010! 07/07/2010 at 05:50 PM

Beth Spoken like a true Basket ball fan

Posted by beth 07/07/2010 at 05:50 PM

Just brought in my mail
Jake's Sports Illustrated came today
and there - on the cover -
Serena !!!

Posted by highpockets 07/07/2010 at 05:51 PM

Beth! Yeah!

Posted by CL 07/07/2010 at 05:51 PM

And speaking of Holsteins...remember Roger's cow...the lovely Juliet? Though I think she was a Brown Swiss, and, IIRC, was turned into genuine ground beef? Ah, thems were the days - when all Fed fans had to worry about was his farm management skills...or lack of same. ;-)

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Rafa Channel Slam Winner 2010! 07/07/2010 at 05:52 PM

Where is NP cause I cant wait his take on this lol!

Posted by beth 07/07/2010 at 05:53 PM

CL - I would gladly send you some of the June gloom and relieve you of some of the heat
somewhere in the middle of these two - we should have perfect summer weather

and no - I am not a fan of the NBA
I admire their athleticism - no doubt about that
but I get so sick of the length of the season
I am ready to forget about all of them for a while

Posted by beth 07/07/2010 at 05:57 PM

I know - NP would take me to task as he loves all things NBA and all things Kobe
but I am sick of it
and as i live here in LA
where he is covered by the local media as if he were some sort of deity
I think I get some say

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Rafa Channel Slam Winner 2010! 07/07/2010 at 05:57 PM

Beth I hear you

I have the same feeling here with our football season thats starts in February and goes till September.

Posted by 70's tennis fan 07/07/2010 at 06:00 PM

The best piece that you have ever written.
Nothing more to say, but "Thanks"

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 07/07/2010 at 06:01 PM

Ah, Pete, such lovely memories you brought back to me of life in Wimbledon ... well, it was my home for 25 years and I know that, one, day, I will return there to live again.

You definitely capture the essence of the place for me. Glad you enjoyed it and appreciated it.

Posted by CL 07/07/2010 at 06:05 PM

beth - yeah....whatever happened to 'moderation in all things?' (Though my own personal credo is 'moderation in all things except moderation.')

Totally agree about NBA season length..but really, almost ALL pro sports. When they are playing hockey and the outside temps are so warm that fog is forming above the ice, and baseball players are making snow angels, something is badly out of whack. It all comes down to $$$$$$$$$$. The lust for which engenders NO moderation.

Wonderful news about our tennis cover girl!

Posted by Jackie 07/07/2010 at 06:07 PM

Aw, highpockets. :)

*waves to beth, CL, AM, Lynne, and everyone else*

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Rafa Channel Slam Winner 2010! 07/07/2010 at 06:13 PM

Waves back to Miss Jackie

Did you have a good mini holiday?

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 07/07/2010 at 06:16 PM

I hope he stays in Cleveland. They (the city) need him more than New York.

beth, it's sweltering and I don't have AC. I promise you do not want to be me right now...

Posted by AmyLu 07/07/2010 at 06:16 PM

*waves hello*

Beth, just be glad Mark doesn't watch summer league basketball. I couldn't believe JJ was watching the Bobcats in Summer League the other day. It's bad enough having to watch all of the Bobcats home games during the year!

Loved the post, Pete. I hope to experience Wimbledon for myself some day!

Posted by Jackie 07/07/2010 at 06:17 PM

AM, I did! Thanks for asking. :) Are you still celebrating your guy's win?

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 07/07/2010 at 06:17 PM

Hi, Jackie !

Never did answer your quetions last week - I got so caught up in the excitement of last weekend I think my brain seized up !

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Rafa Channel Slam Winner 2010! 07/07/2010 at 06:23 PM

Miss Jackie Well kind of

I have only watched the game 4 times already lol!

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Rafa Channel Slam Winner 2010! 07/07/2010 at 06:24 PM

Waves Back to Amylu

Vamos Rafa!!

Posted by AmyLu 07/07/2010 at 06:28 PM

Hi AM! Vamos Rafa, indeed! Quite happy with Wimbledon this year, that's for sure! :)

Posted by Colette (On Cloud 8) 07/07/2010 at 06:30 PM

AM, you win. I'm only at 3.
And after today, somewhere in Mallorca or that knee-place, there's a big smile.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Rafa Channel Slam Winner 2010! 07/07/2010 at 06:31 PM

Amylu Yeah it was ok lol!

I am kind of warming to then grass

Though clay will always be my first love.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Rafa Channel Slam Winner 2010! 07/07/2010 at 06:33 PM

Colette Well I am giving you a Merit Card

Well done

By the way I have watched the RG final 7 times lol!

Posted by sans nom 07/07/2010 at 06:34 PM

Congrats to Spain fans! On to the finals!

Posted by Rosangel 07/07/2010 at 06:35 PM

Annie: no, camping on Wimbledon Common would not be permitted and I have never heard of anyone trying it.

It's a big place. There are woods and a windmill and a small lake and lots of pathways.

When I move house again I intend to be living back there somewhere. My years living in Wimbledon were some of the happiest of my life, and not just because of the tennis. For me it's the best part of London.

Posted by Colette (On Cloud 8) 07/07/2010 at 06:36 PM

AM, thanks. It's so nice to watch with colm

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Rafa Channel Slam Winner 2010! 07/07/2010 at 06:38 PM

Rosangel Oh I thought you were still living around there.Well I hope you get back there one day

Posted by Sherlock 07/07/2010 at 06:38 PM

TheMightyFunk, amen, brother. The sooner the LeBron story goes away, the better. I don't even care anymore. Just pick a team!!

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 07/07/2010 at 06:38 PM

Rosangel,

I see it has your heart too !

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Rafa Channel Slam Winner 2010! 07/07/2010 at 06:40 PM

Colette lol! hey I am always with "colm" with Rafa no?

Except for ..........................................

and there was another time I could have killed on court with his Slice.............

...................................

Then there was another time Ahh is dosent matter now


Posted by Rosangel 07/07/2010 at 06:42 PM

And actually, there's only one Common. But it adjoins Putney Heath, so maybe that counts as an honorary common.

Not to forget either that the distance to massive Richmond Park (it's 3 times the size of NY Central Park) is very small - literally a bridge over a main road. It's a Royal Park with deer - wonderful place for walking or running.

Posted by chicklet 07/07/2010 at 06:44 PM

More soccer (and tennis) related news.
Rafa's uncle, Miguel Angel Nadal, will be the new assistant coach for Real Mallorca.

Posted by Rosangel 07/07/2010 at 06:44 PM

auusiemarg :I'm close now, but not close enough. Have plenty of friends in the area still.

Posted by Colette (On Cloud 8) 07/07/2010 at 06:44 PM

Gets a little cheesy when you have your own "category" on the ESPN crawler -
AL .... NL ... Tennis ... Golf ... The Lead ... LeBron

Posted by AmyLu 07/07/2010 at 06:44 PM

I wish I could claim not to care about LeBron, as I'm finding his free agency beyond absurd, but it would absolutely kill my dad if he leaves Cleveland. He's been such a long-suffering Cleveland fan that I'm hoping LeBron stays. Not that I think the Cavs will actually win a title, but at least it will give Cleveland fans a bit of hope.

Hi Rosia!

AM, I've always loved Wimbledon. Rafa is actually the one who made me truly appreciate clay. :)

Posted by Sherlock 07/07/2010 at 06:45 PM

Btw, Pete, I really enjoyed this one. Thanks. I love your descriptions of Wimbledon. Gives one a feel of really being there. Great stuff.

Posted by AmyLu 07/07/2010 at 06:46 PM

chicklet, I also think I read that the Nadal family may be contributing financially to Real Mallorca next season?

Posted by beth 07/07/2010 at 06:47 PM

yes, I am thankful that Mark does not watch summer league basketball
in fact, if anyone hates the NBA more than I do - it is my husband

and yes, it is all for more money , CL
so , if we quit watching it - then they don't get any more money , right
clearly the morons who pay $20K to sit courtside are the ones who are fueling the greed
so quit buying - and they will quit selling
but that applies to many things in life ,as well

Annie - sorry about the no a/c . We have no a/c here in our house either , so if it were 100 it would be too hot here
but as it is only 64 degrees , and it is after the 4th of July this is not exactly screaming summer to me here
and I would take a day or two of sweat over this right now

Posted by Colette (On Cloud 8) 07/07/2010 at 06:48 PM

Yeah, AM ... can you spell Petzschner!

Btw, been meaning to mention (my husband is a motor-head, so we also had to watch "manly" sports on Sunday), and Aussie Will Power (great name, especially for a race car driver) won the Indy Car race at Watkins Glen.

Posted by Sherlock 07/07/2010 at 06:49 PM

Colette, yeah, it's gag-worthy. It's like #%#@# Favre and his yearly "decision". No one player is that important. I've always thought LeBron has handled himself very well, especially when he's been given mega attention since a VERY young age. But I'm growing weary of this episode.

AmyLu, I really hope he stays too. With the Indians and Browns playing like they are lately, a sports boost would be a good thing.

Posted by SilentP 07/07/2010 at 06:50 PM

Good article Pete. As a Brit I found your perceptions on us (and the dogs!) quite interesting. Wimbledon is lovely and during the tournament there's a buzz around the village, especially if the weather's good.

Interesting what Toni said about Rafa. We all know Rafa knees can struggle with hard courts, especially in New York towards the end of the season. But that could change this year!

Posted by Colette (On Cloud 8) 07/07/2010 at 06:53 PM

Sherlock, What did I read/hear about Farever? ... that he was working with high school students or something, which means he's about to announce his next un-retirement

Posted by AmyLu 07/07/2010 at 06:53 PM

Sherlock, JJ and I met my family in Baltimore to see the Indians play the Orioles. I felt like I was watching a minor league team. And, I liked LeBron before, but I'm finding his behavior with regard to free agency to be incredibly narcissistic and very off-putting.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 07/07/2010 at 06:54 PM

I think that there is a glimmer of hope that Rafa will manage his schedule a little more sensibly now.

Posted by AB 07/07/2010 at 06:56 PM

Thanks, Pete. I really enjoyed this piece. Keep violating the language.

I was there in 2000 with my parents and Sweetheart watching Venus and Lindsey from Henman Hill. We loved the atmosphere and the layout, including the walk from public transportation.

The intimacy and accessibility of the grounds were wonderful. My dad actually got bumped in the shoulder by Venus just walking around earlier in the day.

I would love to go again, but my next big tennis trip will be the French.

Hola, Rafa lovers. Keep clean and serene.

Posted by TheMightyFunk 07/07/2010 at 06:57 PM

Sherlock - The sad and personally shameful thing is that I probably will end up tuning in tomorrow just because I follow the NBA very closely and I wold be curious...It is people like me that allow these people to get away with ridiculous degrees of self-aggrandizement...sometimes I wonder how I live with myself... :)

AmyLu - The fact that he is doing this ridiculous special thing tells me that he's going to re-sign with the Cavs. i mean, the act of going somewhere else and breaking the news to Cleveland along with the rest of the NBA-watching world that he's saying goodbye to his hometown would just be mind-boggling in its stupidity and lack of common courtesy and class...

ok, I respect that this is a tennis blog, so that is it from me on the state of the NBA... :)

Posted by Ryan 07/07/2010 at 06:58 PM

I love San Pellegrino Limonata!!! Delicious with vodka.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Rafa Channel Slam Winner 2010! 07/07/2010 at 06:59 PM

Colette I have trouble spelling full stop

I call him PP ok

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Rafa Channel Slam Winner 2010! 07/07/2010 at 07:02 PM

Lynne I hope sooooooooooo

Like I will kill him if he dosent

He has been soo close in ways at the USO making 2 s/finals there

Anyway I will refuse to watch the USO IF he does make the final this year

I have been burnt with Borg too many times there.I died and went to hell and back with him.

Posted by Tic 07/07/2010 at 07:08 PM

Spanish DC team (sporting new Osborne Bull kits) salute La Roja:
http://dailychuckle.typepad.com/.a/6a00e54ee7a84388330134853e5cfe970c-pi

Posted by AmyLu 07/07/2010 at 07:08 PM

I hope you're right, TheMightyFunk (and love the name!). According to sources on Twitter, the decision will be announced within the first 15 minutes so at least if you tune in, you don't have to wait for an hour to hear the announcement!

AB, your day at Wimbledon sounds absolutely lovely!

Posted by Rosangel 07/07/2010 at 07:09 PM

AmyLu!!!!!

The RNKAS High Brass are reunited:) Given the publicity that has surrounded Rafa's knees in recent times, it's kind of ironic that the Rafael Nadal Knee Appreciation Society was formed way back in ....2006 , was it? before they became a story in themselves. And when ESPN wrote about RNKAS, it was thought that the knee appreciation was simply because back then they were always hidden by piratas...... (*sighs at the all-too-distant memory of piratas and sleeveless tops*)

Posted by beth 07/07/2010 at 07:11 PM

for your dad's sake , Amu Lu , I hope Lebron stays in
Cleveland . And end this relentless press speculation sooner rather than later.
off putting is a good word for the whole thing

As for Favre - I guess this year his teammates ( and I see no reason he will not be on the team ) can actually call him gramps . HIs oldest daughter gave birth to a son not too long ago.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Rafa Channel Slam Winner 2010! 07/07/2010 at 07:11 PM

AB Roland Garos is my fav slam

There is like no other to me

The History and I love the fact they play the winners national anthem I just cry.

Hopefully they wont change and move cause it will never be the same.Officials have till February next year to decide.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Rafa Channel Slam Winner 2010! 07/07/2010 at 07:13 PM

Rosangel

+1

Sigh for Sleeveless tops and pirate shorts

Posted by Ruth 07/07/2010 at 07:13 PM

At first, I thought that I'd I just tune in to the last minutes of the Lebron event because I am, frankly, only interested in finding out if he was able to resist Betty White's offer to "make it worth it" for him to stay in Cleveland (she's too funny)! Then, I heard on PTI today that the announcement of his decision will come in the first 10 minutes. Good! So, what the heck will they do for the next 50 minutes of the reserved hour? I suppose that those who pay thousands for tickets will be interested.

WTT just started on TC. Venus always looks as if she's having so much fun at these WTT events. I know I always enjoy them. I'll try to make the Roddick match next week.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 07/07/2010 at 07:15 PM

Aussiemarg,

I was thinking more along the lines that we could kidnap him ... ?

Posted by Franchise 07/07/2010 at 07:15 PM

Hey guys see this wonderful interview from Venus Williams at the National Press Club.
Venus is really amazing there and what an inspiring woman she is, love her.
http://npc.press.org/news-multimedia/videos/cspan/294403-1

Posted by Colette (On Cloud 8) 07/07/2010 at 07:16 PM

Beth, too funny, grandpa Brett

Ruth, I'm feeding my addiction, too. Venus looking adorable in her red and blue

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Rafa Channel Slam Winner 2010! 07/07/2010 at 07:16 PM

Lynne Sounds good to me

Just work out the details and I am in ok

Posted by AmyLu 07/07/2010 at 07:20 PM

So nice to see you, Rosia! And, we were (sadly) rather prescient with the name of our society, no?

I saw on Twitter that Nalbandian received a wild card into the LeggMason tournament in DC. If he's healthy, he should make a great addition to the field. I so wish I had better luck with scheudling: I have a conference in DC and in Atlanta in the next 5 weeks, and neither one overlaps with the tournaments in each city. *sighs*

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Rafa Channel Slam Winner 2010! 07/07/2010 at 07:20 PM

Lynne I must say I was impressed with Jake I Cant Count Garner with his umpiring though

Though anyone beats The Evil Cedric anyday

Though we did have fun with our target practice just the same

Posted by Franchise 07/07/2010 at 07:23 PM

Vee rock and rolls in this interview http://npc.press.org/news-multimedia/videos/cspan/294403-1

Posted by Kwaku 07/07/2010 at 07:27 PM

Spain-Holland, like I predicted. Spain will win, but it's kind of unfair. Because Holland has been to finals before and deserves a win, while Spain hasn't been even close, and because here most people don't care so much for the national team as for their clubs.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Rafa Channel Slam Winner 2010! 07/07/2010 at 07:28 PM

Well I need to go warm up seeing we are having our coldest winter here in 61 years

Like its still only 8 deg Ahhhh

Having on running shoes

Back later.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 07/07/2010 at 07:31 PM

Aussiemarg,

Jake behaved extremely well, although I was a bit nervous that he would regress at any moment.

Maybe we should kidnap Cedric instead ? lol.

Posted by Sherlock 07/07/2010 at 07:33 PM

Colette, lol. Sounds about right. I'm on the edge of my seat. :)

AmyLu, sad about the Indians. Especially with some of the really good teams they've had the past couple decades. Hopefully, they're building some good talent in the minors and things will turn around soon.

TMF2, so we can blame you, then? :)

Good point about LeBron, the big to-do, and his likelihood to resign. I hope you're right. I wish the Cavs could have gotten Bosh to agree to go there. If LeBron does stay, he needs a Gasol sidekick, or they'll probably never win the big one.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 07/07/2010 at 07:34 PM

Aussiemarg,

Cedric is hereby forewarned ! I'm quite a markswoman now ...

Posted by Ruth 07/07/2010 at 07:39 PM

Ropsangel: It was about 2006, about as year after I doscovered TW. But IIRC, the RNKAS was formed in part as a reaction to mici's dastardly suggestion that Rafa had "funny-looking" knees! LOL

Posted by Kwaku 07/07/2010 at 07:44 PM

So recently Nadal expressed his wish to become the GOAT? I think it was between RG and Wimby.
Not that such healthy ambition is in any conflict with being truly humble, but I was still a little surprised.
And I think it has to do with seeing it possible for the first time.
And not beacause of reaching #7 or #8, but because that new painful experimental treatment for the knees has worked so well with one of them that it, together with better scheduling, less monstruous practice sessions, and more clinic kills at the early rounds of tourneys, make Rafa himself think that 16 is not fully impossible.
Time will tell, but the optimism itself is good news.

Posted by Rosangel 07/07/2010 at 07:48 PM

Ruth: yes, that was the original inspiration.....only here in TW were Rafa's glorious knees the subject of much detailed aesthetic analysis before they became newsworthy for other reasons:)

Posted by Ruth 07/07/2010 at 07:53 PM

Thanks for the link to that Venus event, Franchise. I'll definitely check it out after WTT ends. Now, it's Venus and Rennae Stubbs against Hingis and Borwell in doubles. Robin Quivers (sp?) in da house! I see she's keeping her weight off. Why can't I do the same? :)

Posted by CPM 07/07/2010 at 07:57 PM

+1 on the appreciation of the piece, Pete. Nice sense of place.

And your take on the likelihood of Rafa catching Roger is pretty spot-on, too. I very much hope Rafa can take the career Grand Slam at some point, and I think he'll be consistently in the mix at the Aussie -- enough to bag another one or two, if we're being optimistic -- but he'll never be the force on HC that Fed was from '04-roughly present. The natural soof-races accentuate the advantage of his superior movement, while the HC tends to level the playing field.

Though thinking back to the AO '09 final: did anyone notice how that match *sounded*? Practically every thwack of ball-on-racket was preceded by a little chorus of soles scuffling along on the Plexicushion; it was the sound of two men with superb footwork.

Posted by adicecream 07/07/2010 at 08:00 PM

Thanks for reminding me of WTT, Ruth. I went to one match last year and really enjoyed it. But it might be too warm for me this year in DC.

And lebron-mania --- I don't get the hype. But I was last a big NBA fan in the 70s.

And last, which should have been first, I really loved Pete's post.

Posted by Rosangel 07/07/2010 at 08:01 PM

AmyLu: talking of Nalby, do you have any updates on his current physical state from Spanish-speaking sources? I would love to see him back in action - tennis has definitely missed him this year, especially given that Marat is also gone....hard to find another pair that so completely symbolise headcaseness:)

Posted by TheMightyFunk 07/07/2010 at 08:02 PM

Amylu - Thanks for the name compliment! Just to be clear, its not my real name, although, given the response here, I'm seriously considering a name change..."My name is Funk, TheMighty Funk" does have a ring to it, doesn't it? :) Anyway it is my homage to Fed and like any funk, I am optimistic his and my moniker by association is temporary, current mighty-ness of it notwithstanding...

Sherlock - Yeah, go ahead, blame me... Although in my defense, now that I know the announcement will come in the first 10 minutes, I plan on boycotting the remaining 50 "on principle" :)

Posted by Franchise 07/07/2010 at 08:02 PM

Appreciated @Ruth

Posted by TeamNadal 07/07/2010 at 08:07 PM

"The American woman had wriggled into a tight, dazzlingly white dress with a hem well above her knees and a neckline that plunged as dramatically as a WTA ranking. She teetered on chartreuse spaghetti-strap sandals with high, pencil-thin heels."

So that was YOU staring at my rack!!!!!!! ....and by the way, my friend was wearing "peep-toes", not "peek-toes".


Posted by rudy3 (proud Rafaelite since 2005) 07/07/2010 at 08:12 PM

Thank you Pete, your refelctions, as always, make me want to be there.
Its on my bucket list to camp out and attend opening day. Since Rafa wis going to be opening play in 2011...maybe thats the year to grid up and do it.

Will Rafa win more slams than Fed? I don't think so. I don't think he will play that long, and like you said, he won't be as dominate at the hardcourt slams. And I think Fed will add to his total.

My hopes for Rafa going forward:
I want him to win the USO and complete a career slam
I'd like him to finish his career with less than 50 losses on clay
I hope he leaves the tour on his terms.

Posted by Sherlock 07/07/2010 at 08:17 PM

TheMightyFunk, lol. I'm glad you're taking a firm stance. :)

Posted by AmyLu 07/07/2010 at 08:29 PM

Rosia, I don't really know much about Nalby. The only quotes I've seen recently from him are ones where he sounds super motivated to play Davis Cup so I'm hoping that's a positive sign. Much of the Argentinean sports press that we've (and by we, I really mean either a. JJ reads or b. I muddle my way through an article and then ask JJ to translate) read recently has all centered upon the World Cup.

Posted by Rosangel 07/07/2010 at 08:35 PM

Thanks, AmyLu.

Posted by Colette (On Cloud 8) 07/07/2010 at 08:38 PM

While they're waiting for the "results" of the challenge at the WTT, they're playing Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line"

Posted by Arun 07/07/2010 at 08:39 PM

CPM: Wonderful post at 7:57. Yeah, breathtaking rallies in that AO final and the first 4 sets were (arguably) even better than Wimby'08.
Loved everything about that match, except the BP conversion rate.. and the end result. :/

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