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One More Roar? 11/05/2010 - 10:02 AM

53460934 by Pete Bodo

By now, I assume most of you have read the home page exclusive on the plans to launch a competitor to the Davis Cup—a plan that's been 10 years in the making (in the mind of Mike Davies), and may become a reality as early as 2013 if Butch Buchholz, that old lion of tennis politics and promotion, has anything to do with it. Which he does. Buchholz, who's stepped down as the promoter of the Key Biscayne event he created, must feel like he has one more resounding roar to deliver.

Actually, the roles (and intertwined fates) of the two point men in this "World Cup of Tennis" (my phrase; as of yet, there is no official name for this international, nations-based competition), Mike Davis and Butch Buchholz, bear noting. Whatever you think of this full frontal assault on the ITF's Davis Cup—a competition that I and many others really do hold dear—one thing can't be denied: Davies and Buchholz are tennis men, through and through.

We're not talking about a couple of guys who, say, made a fortune during the mortgage crisis and now want to get their faces on ESPN or NBC. Both of them are entrepreneurial tennis insiders, and each one paid his dues and helped drag tennis kicking and screaming into the Open Era. They are not just FRL (Friends of Rod Laver), but also godfathers to the likes of Steffi Graf, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Chris Evert, Rafael Nadal, Martina Navratilova and Roger Federer.

Davies, now in his late 70s, is a former British No. 1, a past doubles finalist at Wimbledon and a Davis Cup player who accumulated a 24-13 record. He's also the guy whom you have to thank for the optic yellow tennis ball. He didn't invent it, but he made sure it was used when he served as the executive director of what was certainly the most "professional"—and probably the most promising—of the early attempts to organize the pro game, World Championship Tennis.

There are still those (and I'm one of them) who feel that tennis might be better off today had WCT not been killed off by, basically, a conspiracy among competitors who feared that Lamar Hunt (who conceived WCT) would grow too powerful and make of tennis something like he created when he helped found the American Football League (which eventually merged with its rival to create today's not-exactly-struggling NFL).

Nothing like the fear of success, right?

Oh, did I mention that Davies is also a former executive director of the ATP? And, ironically, let's remember that as the ITF's General Manager in the 1980s, Davies utterly revitalized...the Davis Cup.

Buchholz, like Davies, is a blooded veteran of the tennis wars, and he emerged one of the big winners thanks to the tournament that he founded (Key Biscayne) and built into, arguably, the fifth most prestigious event on the calendar, behind the Grand Slams. Unless you've been living under a rock these past three decades, you know about Buchholz.

One anecdote that Butch told me when we spoke the other day remains vivid as I try to sort out how I feel about this potential challenge to Davis Cup. "Back in the 1960s, the ITF rejected the plea I and some others were making to allow professionals to play at all the major events, alongside the amateurs (before Open tennis, which began in 1968, only amateurs were allowed to play at the Grand Slam events). Then, in 1967, Herman David, the chairman of the All England Club (Wimbledon), said, 'I'll let you come back and play here as professionals if you show me that you can fill the stadium. If you show me that the public still cares about Rod Laver and the rest of you."

Buchholz and company took up the offer, organized a pro tournament that was held at Wimbledon (I think it featured an eight-man field), and packed the house. "After that," Buchholz remembered, "It was a done deal. David said he didn't care what the ITF said or did, we would be welcome at WImbledon."

Perhaps the ITF has to undergo a similar crisis when it comes to Davis Cup, although it's important to remember that we're not just talking about allowing people to play here—we're talking about profoundly altering the format of a century-old event that has produced some of tennis's most storied moments—right up to the present day.

Perhaps, in an ever-shrinking world populated by tennis players who essentially become international citizens the moment they begin to achieve noteworthy success, that wonderful choice-of-ground rule isn't quite as important as it once was. Maybe in the arena-era, the idea that site selection produces an exotic and compelling background is more nostalgia and wishful thinking than reality. Will the arena used for the final in Belgrade in a few weeks time really feel like a piece of Serbia in any regard other than the preponderance of Serbs in attendance?

Buchholz told me that his shadow Davis Cup has great potential as a television spectacle; the ITF president, Francesco Ricci Bitti, told me that his job isn't to make money for the ITF, it's to grow the game in the 204 member nations of the ITF, and that those constituents really like the present template. They feel it's the one that would give the largest number of them a shot at Davis Cup glory. It's pretty hard to dismiss that mandate as unworthy or irrelevant. And in all honesty, I don't hear many voices in Europe or South America demanding that Davis Cup be "fixed." As far as I know, they don't think it's broken.

I'll have to mull over all these questions in the coming days, maybe share some of the ideas and learn what y'all think. The one thing I know for now is that Davies, Buchholz, and their "reformer" allies (a cast of characters that includes Cliff Drysdale, as well as the brothers McEnroe) are neither gung-ho revolutionaries nor mercenaries. They are, quite simply, tennis guys. And it would be unwise as well as unfair to characterize them as anything but fellow travelers in the great, ongoing pro tennis journey.


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Posted by Kombo 11/05/2010 at 09:55 PM

more blood!

Posted by Carol 11/05/2010 at 09:57 PM

Thanks AM!! But remember next time no mercy.......

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/05/2010 at 09:58 PM

Carol Check!

Posted by Carol 11/05/2010 at 10:16 PM

82-86 and just at 3 minutes to finish the game
Vamos!!!!

Posted by Carol 11/05/2010 at 10:17 PM

85-86 haaaaaaaaaa

Posted by Master Ace 11/05/2010 at 10:23 PM

Carol,
Wade is trying to rally the Heat as they are down 3 to the Hornets.

Posted by Carol 11/05/2010 at 10:25 PM

88-89

Posted by Master Ace 11/05/2010 at 10:26 PM

Heat has finally caught the Hornets as James scored the last 4 pts

Posted by Carol 11/05/2010 at 10:27 PM

90-89, ahhhhh, this too much, relax Carol,LOL

Posted by Grant 11/05/2010 at 10:30 PM

"I like Bosh a lot too"

ugh. just ugh.

Posted by Carol 11/05/2010 at 10:31 PM

Aggggggggg!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Master Ace 11/05/2010 at 10:31 PM

Look like the Heat is about to lose as Hornets lead by 4 late in game as Ariza(Remember him, NP) hit a 3 pointer

Posted by Carol 11/05/2010 at 10:33 PM

Grant??????????

93-94

Posted by Master Ace 11/05/2010 at 10:33 PM

7 seconds and Bosh hit a 3. Hornets will probably go the line for free throws as they lead by 1.

Posted by Master Ace 11/05/2010 at 10:36 PM

Who will shoot the 3 for the Heat as the Hornets lead by 3 with 7 sec to go?

Posted by Carol 11/05/2010 at 10:36 PM

What was the foult?

Posted by Master Ace 11/05/2010 at 10:38 PM

Wade dissed the ball to House(0 for 7) for a 3 but missed and the Hornets win 96-93. Wade 28 pts 10 rebs James 20 pts 10 assists

Celtics and Bulls tie at 96.

Posted by Master Ace 11/05/2010 at 10:38 PM

dissed = passed or dished depending on usage of word

Posted by highpockets 11/05/2010 at 10:39 PM

Anyone watching Zenyatta tomorrow?

Posted by Carol 11/05/2010 at 10:39 PM

Miami has lost for three points. It's ok, next time better and better
Vamos HEAT!!!!!!!

Posted by Master Ace 11/05/2010 at 10:39 PM

Carol,
As you know, the official will not call that if it is a borderline call. However, I did not see a foul on that play.

Posted by Master Ace 11/05/2010 at 10:40 PM

Highpockets,
No, I will be watching Alabama and LSU. Zenyatta is going to win again tomorrow.

Posted by Master Ace 11/05/2010 at 10:43 PM

Overtime in Boston as they and Chicago is tied at 96. Bulls had a chance to win but Rose lost the ball and about time, Noah got it, clock hit :00.

Posted by Carol 11/05/2010 at 10:44 PM

MA, I didn't understand those NO free shots but it helped to the final result

Posted by Master Ace 11/05/2010 at 10:46 PM

Carol,
Chances are Heat had the foul to stop the clock at the end as the Hornets lead by one at the time.

Posted by Carol 11/05/2010 at 10:47 PM

When any team is playing at home and the game is close I suppose that team has some kind of advantage, correct?

Posted by Grant 11/05/2010 at 10:48 PM

"Grant??????????"

How about I answer your question Bosh-style. First, I'll drop a bunch of coy "will I answer or won't I?" remarks on my Twitter feed, then I'll fake an injury to save myself for next year, then more speculation-mongering, then I'll leave the conversation and tell people that I left because I needed more attention, and then I'll get mad that people were mean to me.

Somebody could give Bosh the full Kermit Washington, and Toronto would cheer.

(still, he's less hated here then Vince)

Posted by Master Ace 11/05/2010 at 10:48 PM

Carol,
Somewhat, depending on the situation

Posted by Master Ace 11/05/2010 at 10:51 PM

Grant,
Vince really gave it to the Raptors. By the way, what is up with them? They sign Turkoglu to a good contract but now, he is gone to the Suns. We know about Bosh.

Posted by Carol 11/05/2010 at 10:54 PM

MA, yeah, depending on situation

Grant, and I'm to answer you, let's go to give him time to play with this team and then maybe you'll like more his style

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/05/2010 at 11:10 PM

Turkey dogged it in Toronto.

Then the idiot Suns owner Sarver brought in Turkey to play power forward in Phoenix.

Even if Turkey busts his ass (too early to tell) his size and skills don't work at the power forward position.

Sarver. A horrible owner.

Posted by Grant 11/05/2010 at 11:11 PM

"Grant, and I'm to answer you, let's go to give him time to play with this team and then maybe you'll like more his style"

What? If some guy dating my sister treats her like garbage before breaking up with her over Facebook, I'm not going to wait to see how his next relationship is going before I decide he's scum. And even if he gets his act together, I'm still going to want bad things to happen to him, because he was a jerk to my sister.

Likewise, when a pro athlete is a jerk to my city, I reserve the right to dislike him. That's just how it is.

Posted by Carol 11/05/2010 at 11:44 PM

I'm to answer you = I'm going to answer you

Grant, I don't have any idea about what happened with the jerk in your city, of course that part you know more tham me
I was talking about his game, just that

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/06/2010 at 12:37 AM

lol the French love Rafa!

I don't think the tournament has been hampered by his withdrawal, even though it would have been better to have him.''

can you imagine any tournament director saying this about Fred?

Posted by imjimmy 11/06/2010 at 01:24 AM

""Sampras certainly accomplished a lot, but I believe he's a bit below the others I mentioned because they were better clay court players (relative to their competition) than was Sampras. """

MSF: I would put Sampras in Tier1 along with Laver, Fed, Gonzales and Tilden (and also put Borg there). You're right that Pete was not as good on clay, but this could be balanced by the fact that he's probably the best fastcourt (and the most authoritative) player who ever lived. During his ascendancy to the top he had to take down, proven, great champions. This is in sharp contrast to '03-'04, at the time of Fed's rise, when Tennis was crying out loud for a new champion to replace the insipid Hewitt, headcase Safin and fading Roddick. In general, Pete, had to work much harder for his slams than Fed/Nadal ever did.

Despite this, he still has a bunch of records that Fed/others have still not matched. Furthermore the peak level of tennis that Sampras produced has seldom ever been seen. At his best, he was simply unplayable.

So yeah, Pete's definitely in Top Tier of GOAT candidates. In any case I don't believe that (slightly) lower proficiency on one surface should put someone out of the list. For instance, I would put Fed in the top Tier even if he hadn't won the F.O.

Posted by CanTypePadSuckAnyWorseThanItDoes 11/06/2010 at 05:24 AM

Can It?

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/06/2010 at 06:23 AM

From Rafa's Website,5th November.

Rafa said "I cannot play becuase of tendinitis in my left shoulder.I need to rest for six or seven days.It is nothing to be worried about but the doctor told me I have to spend those days doing intensive treatment and finctional rehabilitation with physiotherapy.

Rafa will still play the London Masters.

Posted by lilscot 11/06/2010 at 06:38 AM

Well, it must be nice to be as holy as Roger, Laver, Tilden, Borg, Gonzales, etc. People seem to be giving Rafa the same kind of disrespectful treatment as they do Serena. I can see it if the heavy criticism came after several incidents of withdrawing or citing injury/fatigue, but the second he does one little thing he gets pounced on.

None of the above-mentioned men played the kind of physical game Rafa and many of the guys play today. That's just fact. All you have to do is watch old tapes. Yes, they played hard, especially Borg, but not anywhere comparable to what Rafa or Verdasco, or any of the other athletes in the sport. In today's game you have tennis players and athletes. Some are more one than the other, and vice-versa. The ones who lean more towards the athletic side are the ones we see having the injuries. Doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure that one out.

Jealousy is such a fickle thing. It ebbs and flows depending on the mood of the jealous ones. The more Rafa achieves, the more his detractors want to whine about how suspicious it is that Rafa is tired or injured.

And, the more he achieves the more he's expected the achieve. He breaks a record of someone, well then, that's not good enough. You have to do more! He wins several FO, that's not enough. He wins a couple Wimbledons, well, that's nice, but not enough. He wins the AO. Well yeah, but it's not the USO. He wins the USO but he didn't get by Roger to do it. He wins the career slam, well hell, Laver won two calendar slams. What's wrong with this Rafa guy? He can't do anything except do banned substances and complain about his injuries.

Seems to me the only complaining going on is coming from the people that don't like him.

Maybe he just needs a good case of mono. That seems to work in the sympathy department. But, knowing how some people feel, that wouldn't be good enough either. He'd have to have leprosy or bubonic plague to compare to the past greats!

Pfft...

Posted by Carol 11/06/2010 at 08:17 AM

lilscot
+10000000000000

Yeah, just the ones that don't like Rafa or they like "someone else" more can talk in that way. It doesn't matter what this extraordinary Champion is doing, it doesn't matter if someone of the "old ones" didn't play well on clay or on grass or whatever, all of them could be the GOATS, it doesn't matter if Raga wins the four GS
But there are the other side too with open mind that they can watch the tennis game and not just the "person" or to whom they have more liking, the really fair tennis experts.

Posted by Fern 11/06/2010 at 08:23 AM

Lilscot, all your arguments about the unfair treatment Rafa is getting for withdrawing are quite true, but trust me they applied to Fed aswell! He broke a record, it's a 'weak era', I've heard all his 2009 major victories 'don't count' because he didn't play Rafa especially the 'asterisked' French Open. As regards the mono, a lot of journalists never mentioned it in relation to his indifferent form in 2008 and certainly weren't sympathetic!

To be clear, I don't want this to end up as another Fedal grumble - I like them both. Especially to be appreciated about is that they are (usually) model professionals who play with a lot of heart and will to win after years at the top. Hope Rafa is recovered well in time for London - I may get chance to see him :)

Posted by lilscot 11/06/2010 at 08:35 AM

Carol:

Hi Carol. Yes, I wish he had more of that other side you speak of. To be fair, most people are pretty balanced when it comes to stuff like this. It's just those few that like to be confrontational for some reason.

Fern:

Totally agree, and well said. In regards to the mono, I was only referring to some of the fans on this site, not the media. And I sure wasn't taking a swipe at Rog, I love him. But, even when it comes to Roger, no one was saying that he actually didn't have mono and was just using that as an excuse to cover up drug use.

Posted by Kombo 11/06/2010 at 08:36 AM

mooooore blooooood!

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 11/06/2010 at 09:33 AM

Another thing - Rafa has withdrawn because of shoulder tendonitis and not because he is "whining of exhaustion" Let's get the record straight.

Posted by lilscot 11/06/2010 at 09:39 AM

Lynne:

Well said Lynne. I know everyone's probably on the Deuce Club, but I'm glad to see a few comments still here. :) And why wouldn't it make sense to those detractors that have been questioning his new serve that he might have developed tendonitis in his shoulder? Makes too much sense I suppose. Thinking he's cycling on drugs is just more juicy, pardon the pun, for the gossips.

We already know he's prone to tendonitis for crying out loud. People seem to have a hard time understanding that physically fit strong athletic builds go hand-in-hand with being an athlete. Sometimes the most simple explanation is the right one.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 11/06/2010 at 09:44 AM

lilscot : Exactly, but I suppose it's the only way some people can make some amusement in their boring little lives.

Posted by Fern 11/06/2010 at 11:03 AM

Lilscot, yes - agree how you can be upset with the idea that Rafa's withdrawal is him trying to cover up drug use - it's ridiculous. Unfortunately, his withdrawal came on the heels of 2 big drug use threads here which brought out a few trolls and drive-bys who stayed around for a while. One post I saw stated it's proof positive Fed is on drugs because Fed doesn't sweat, apparently :)

Posted by Ruth 11/06/2010 at 11:11 AM

lilscot: Do I have your permission to pretend that I wrote your 6:38 comment along with you because, heaven knows, everything that you've said I've felt like screaming a dozen times here on TW.

To focus on one important point, I get very angry when people who, based on their other TW poss and comments, should know better make comments that imply that the current players are all wimps for being fatigued after they've played merely 75% of the matches that the guys in the "good old days" played. How can anyone who knows anything about tennis not be aware of the heavier demands on the body that modern tennis makes of these young men? How can they not realize that the days of being able to play a 3/5, then party all night, then play another 3/5 the next day are GONE forever?

I'm over 65;I lived through those "olden" days of tennis,and I loved the tennis that was played then. But I thank heavens that I'm not so blind that I can't see clearly the differences between those times and today.

(And please don't get me started on the stress of the travel demands --even if in a private jet -- faced by modern players who are expected to end a tourney in NYC today and be ready to play in Shanghai in two days or less. No "slow boats to China" allowed!)

Posted by Andrew 11/06/2010 at 11:36 AM

Ruth: you're absolutely right with your 11:11am - the ATP game of the late 2000s bears no resemblance to that played in the 1960s or 1970s: 60% is played on hard courts, with the dominant style being power baseline vs serve and volley on grass.

You write "How can anyone who knows anything about tennis not be aware of the heavier demands on the body that modern tennis makes of these young men?" A couple of years ago, the online magazine TennisOne published the details of the training regime of a journeyman top 100 player, and it just astonished me. You have to be immensely fit and flexible to deal with the starting and stopping, side to side and up and down movement.

I'm 51, and have been seeing a personal trainer twice a week for the last six months, and seen the results in my own (4.5 level) game. I can't imagine what it's like at the 7.0 level.

Nadal, over the years, has stood out even in elite company because of how physically gifted he is, and that's drawn silly, bad faith accusations of drug use. There's never been a scintilla of evidence against Nadal or any other top 10 player that PEDs have been employed.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/06/2010 at 11:46 AM

Now, we're being told that the travel demands of modern players are greater than those often faced by the players on Jack Kramer's tour--who often had drive or be driven in cars a good portion of the night to get from one stop to the next?

Any such statement is nonsense and reflects a lack of understanding of the history of the game.

Furthermore, guys like Laver and Hoad played a very physical game, given the technology they used, and they often played hurt, because the tour's survival depended on their participation.

No question that Hoad hurt his long-time viability as the top player or a top three player in the game by playing many matches with a bad back.

As one of the two headliners of the pro tour for a few years, he knew that the tour might not survive if he took extended breaks from the game. So, he played hurt and he paid serious consequences.

And, of course, the players on Kramer's tour and on the pro tours in the 1970s-1990s had access to medical treatment--on and off the court--to address their injuries that is far less advanced and pervasive than that which is available to modern top players.

So the fact that someone like Laver was playing 122 matches at age 30-31 puts his durability in a much more favorable light than that of Rafa.

Posted by Tuulia 11/06/2010 at 11:58 AM

*applauds lilscot*

And several resonable posts here now... thanks Fern, Ruth, Lynne, Carol, Andrew... The ignorant trolls and other malicious folks were starting to make me wonder if it was worth coming here at all, having always assumed, perhaps naively, that one is supposed to enjoy one's visits - otherwise, what's the point? I have no interest in hate campaigns. And I must say I also support AM's suggestion of a troll site. :)

Posted by Ross (FOE, even Gael) 11/06/2010 at 12:17 PM

Many thanks to msf for introducing me to Zenyatta, who goes for her 20th straight (and final) win later today. I have the same kind of anticipation (and anxiety) today as I would for a slam final. She is an amazing athlete!

Last year's Breeders' Cup:
http://tiny.cc/yi7s0

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/06/2010 at 12:26 PM

Ross:

Zenyatta's come-from-behind style certainly has resulted in exciting finishes in many of her races.

Hopefully, she and her competitors are in good form today and end the race healthy.

Enjoy

Posted by Ruth 11/06/2010 at 12:37 PM

Andrew: Thank you very much for your 11:36.
I will not waste any more time on those folk who can't consider how everything -- from the increase in the number of hard court events to the equipment to the style of play to the travel -- affects the way that tennis is played today and what those effects mean to the players' bodies. As those of us who have lived through and/or have read about tennis in earlier times know, these facotrs are significant. To ignore them is to be wilfully ignorant. And there is never a good excuse for that.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/06/2010 at 02:38 PM

Manuel I appreaciate your thoughts on the greats of the past especially Rod Laver etc

Though todays players are a different breed.Who is to say which era of players are better or worse in terms of durablilty etc.

Personally I respect any era that has produced champions.I also can appreciate what they have brough to the tennis world in their achievments.

At present we have 2 great champions with contrasting styles.Roger who is the greatest player of this era and Rafa who at present is the no 1 player in the world and recently achieved his Golden Career slam at age 24 and has set many records like his counter part Roger.

I think as tennis fans we wont appreciate these 2 men really until their retire quite frankly.

I have never snarled at either one when a injury has forced them out of the game or think they have made up injuries.To me that is in bad taste.

In fact that goes for any player that is forced out for any length of time.

Being a Rafa fan I have had to watch him take long periods of time out due to different injuries.2005 his feet and doctors were saying then he might never play the game again.Then we all know about his knee condition and now his has slight tendinitis in his shoulder.He is of a highly competitive nature and I for one would never think he uses any excuses that also goes for Roger when he had Mono.Quite frankly I dont know how he played in the AO in 08.Kudos to him.

When different people come on and question regarding players making excuses for not playing tournaments for example fatique etc I just

*Roll Eyes* and as I have said just recently

Laughter Is The Best Medicine!

Posted by Vie 11/06/2010 at 03:36 PM

Rafa is losing money because of his withdrawal from this commitment:
-prize money from this Paris Masters
-20% of his bonus award for his position as a top player at year-end.

Posted by Andrew 11/06/2010 at 04:11 PM

My guess is that Mr Nadal, like Mr Federer, has quite a big mattress.

From the ATP site, Nadal is approaching 600 ATP matches, and has played 76 singles matches so far this year. That puts him well below the 97 matches Federer played in 2006, but he's definitely approaching the point in his career when careful scheduling will extend his longevity.

Posted by lilscot 11/06/2010 at 05:04 PM

Wow, didn't know if anyone was still hanging around here. So nice to see some great comments on the heels of some pretty awful comments before!

Tuulia and Ruth:

Thanks for those nice comments. Ruth, you can use that anytime you want! :)

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