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The Ultra Major? 11/20/2010 - 10:45 PM

Sod by Pete Bodo

If you're anything like me, you're thinking: Okay, let's get this baby over and done with. We're down to the last official tournament of the year, the ATP World Tour Final, and it's a big one—theoretically. But theory and reality are two different things, and the best we can say about the year-end championships is that it's a work in progress. Has been for a long time. Whether it can ever get where it purports to go, where many think it should go, is a question that remains unanswered.

Nobody ever seems really sure what to make of the YEC, by whatever name it travels under (that, I think, is part of the problem, but beyond our scope at the moment). This is, in a roundabout way, a testament to the four-cornered game that has proven to be remarkably resistant to alteration. Think about it: the four Grand Slam events have, for all practical purposes, been the only tournaments that really matter. That this has remained so despite the convulsions of the Open era, in which so many other aspects of the traditional game have fallen by the wayside, is remarkable. And it has to be discouraging for the visionaries who predicted or tried to effect a genuine revolution in how the game is adminstered and presented.

The four "majors" were once vulnerable and might have suffered a loss of status for various reasons. Instead they've grown stronger. This is a testament to how well-managed they've been in recent years. The Australian Open was dead in the water as recently as the early 1980s, due mainly to its awkward position on the calendar (it was once the final official tournament of the year, played during the holiday season). The timing of the event did not play well with players who were weary of travel and, much like today, prone to ask, When do we get some time off?

Fortunately for the status quo, the Australian Open re-invented itself with both a new date (it became the first Grand Slam of the year, played after an adequate interval for the holidays) and a new facility—an effective one-two punch that was bold, risky, and in retrospect, prescient.

Early in the Open era (we're talking about the 1970s) the French Open was woefully behind the times,  but an aggressive marketing strategy and infrasructural changes at the Roland Garros venue saved the day. It also didn't hurt that the advent of Open tennis helped break the Anglo-Australian stranglehold on the game. When players bred on red clay—think Bjorn Borg, Ilie Nastase, Adriano Panatta—rose to stardom, they took the red dirt tournament with them. Borg stood heads and shoulders above the other emerging European stars, and he deserves credit (which he rarely gets) for making Roland Garros relevant in the pro era. He was at his very best on clay, but able to dominate world tennis. This raised the stock of clay enormously.

Murray The U.S. Open did not have Australia's awkward calendar slot, but like the Down Under Slam, it was stuck in a facility (the private West Side Tennis Club, in Forest Hills, NY) that was no longer appropriate in the Open era. The tournament always had two huge advantages: the popularity of tennis in the U.S. and the preponderance of top players who were American. Although those two advantages might have been adequate to tide the U.S. Open through the growing pains of the Open era in and of themselves, the lords of the U.S. game, to their credit, aggressively pursued a growth strategy for the new era.

By moving from the WSTC to a new, "public" facility in 1978, the U.S. Open guaranteed its continuing success, set a percedent that the Australians would follow, and moved into a suddenly available niche that neither the French Open nor Wimbledon needed or particularly wanted to occupy. It was a terrific bit of market creation and/or exploitation. At a time when everyone was talking about the reshaping of tennis, the U.S. Open and then the Australian Open carved out identities that catered to the emerging sensibility.

Wimbledon, being what it is, didn't need to do much. The tournament's stroke of genius was (and continues to be) resisting pressure to re-invent itself. As the other majors were upgraded and re-conceived, Wimbledon officials seemed to recognize that the traditional baseline values and appeal of tennis were still valid, and they understood that as the other tournaments surrendered their cloak of exclusivity, Wimbledon would do well by cultivating it's elitist aura—while making subtle but wise changes to prevent it from becoming a mere curiosity, or anachronism.

So the Grand Slams found a way to remain relevant, the cornerstones of the game. This has hurt the year-end championships, which certainly would be a bigger deal if the majors hadn't been so successful in keeping control of the high ground. Given the way the pro tour developed, it would seem a given that the year-end championships would, if anything, eclipse the individual Grand Slam events. In the best of the world as envisioned by the professional establishment (the ATP), the YEC would naturally become the ne plus ultra among tournaments.

This, incidentally, is one of the reasons the round-robin format has proven so popular to promoters and administrators. How can you compare a single-elimination, luck-of-the-draw tournament with an eight-manm round-robin format in which every match is the de facto equivalent on paper of a tantalizing Masters Series or even Grand Slam semi or final? Today's first singles match (Soderling vs. Murray) is a testament to the genius of the format, as well as the mentality that created it.

I'll have more to say about this subject in the near future, but the main point for now is that despite the concept of the event (a year-end playoff among the top players) and the compelling format, the year-end championships, while undeniably important, has never really challenged the vaunted place of  the Grand Slams, nor has it been embraced for what it clearly wants to be—the ultra major. That won't diminish the enjoyment we take out of the next week, but it raises some questions and helps define how and why tennis still remains different—decentralized, parochial (loosely speaking), individualistic—from our other major sports.

Enjoy the tennis, everyone. Let's get it started!


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Posted by sisu 11/20/2010 at 11:04 PM

I've always seen the year-end championships to be tennis' World Championship/SuperBowl and very relevant. I love them no matter what the powers that be choose to call them. The top 8 tennis players in the world playing for the year-end title is my 5th Grand Slam of the year. I really don't think about how anyone else sees it because I'm happy it's here and I'm looking forward to the matches.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/20/2010 at 11:11 PM

Pete Thanks.

Well for me the end of the year championships cannot be compared to winning a Grand Slam tournament its like "chalk and cheese".To me that mark of any players is winning a GS title.In the past years of the YEC we have seen the likes of Roger and Rafa missing this tournament due to injury and there has been a surprise winner.Maybe this could happen this year again.The format here is the best eight players who have gone through the season and have qualified playing in 2 groups in a round robin format on a indoor hard court surface.

I guess the players cant wait for this final tournament.Though there is still the final of the DC to be played.It will be interesting to see what happens when the ATP officials meet to discuss the playing schedule.Seeing most players have voiced there point of view that the season is too long.

Good luck to all players and I hope this is a competitive one.One more point I wished to raise I would like to see this final the best of 5 instead the best of 3 sets like it once was.

Posted by Aube,having my cake and eating it,problem is,how long will it last?yummy!!! 11/20/2010 at 11:12 PM

As long as it's tennis,it's prestigious to me,though I might confess I do not take exhos as seriously...

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/20/2010 at 11:24 PM

Aube I am loving your new moniker by the way

One of your best lol!

Posted by Aube,having my cake and eating it,problem is,how long will it last?yummy!!! 11/20/2010 at 11:38 PM

Thanks Madame President,well you know you've got a very emotional Aube... just be prepared that when the not so wonderful times come too,cause you know I'll come crying to you...hahahaha

Posted by toronto2010 11/21/2010 at 12:04 AM

The year end championships is a monster tournament and second only to the 4 major titles. You get 1500 points for being an undefeated champion which is more than the runner-up at a major gets. When it was held at MSG from 1977 through 1989 it was considered equal to and more important than every other tournament besides Wimbeldon and the US Open. Since 1970 every great that has played with the exception of few have won this event because they know it's crucial for their legacy and now that it's being held in London at the O2 arena the stakes have gone way up. I have been watching tennis for 42 years and the year end championships here in London will rival that of the ones held in MSG and may be even better. Sampras and Lendle hold the record for most titles and Federer has a chance to equal that record next week which would be another monumental gain in his claim to be the "best ever". Also one cannot forget that in 2004, 2006, and 2007 Roger won 3 major titles and the year end championships which is what Nadal is trying to do for the first time in 2010. My point is that as great a year as Nadal has had it would still come 2nd to the year Federer had in 2007 and that was his worst out the three that I mentioned above. That's a testimony to Roger's greatness that Nadal is still behind him after having his best year. Sorry Nadal fans, but the truth hurts.

Posted by Andrew 11/21/2010 at 12:11 AM

As late as 2004 the Year End Championships (YEC) for the ATP was played at a private tennis club in Houston (the Westside Tennis Club), with a purpose built stadium that seated about 8000 people.

It was the second time the tournament was held at the club: on the first occasion, the Wimbledon champion, Roger Federer, made some remarks about the venue which greatly vexed the club's owner, Jim MacIngvale (a furniture entrepreneur known to Houstonians as Mattress Mac). After Federer defeated Agassi in the final (following a rain delay), MacIngvale was lavish in his praise and appreciation of the runner up, and somewhat curt in his remarks about the winner.

The tournament then moved to Shanghai: matches took place in the early hours, US time, and were shown on ESPN on tape delay. The 2005 tournament was marked by many withdrawals. In 2009, the tournament moved to its current home in London.

The nomadic nature of the tournament has contributed to its reduced status relative to the majors. So has the siting in the calendar: on the one hand, it comes just before the Davis Cup final, and many competitors have one eye on that event (like Djokovic this year). On the other, many players are running on fumes, like Nadal in 2009. There are occasionally magnificent matches, like Federer-Nadal SF 2006 or Murray-Federer RR 2008, but overall the tournament is the poor stepchild of the ATP calendar, not its crown jewel.

Posted by Aube,having my cake and eating it,problem is,how long will it last?yummy!!! 11/21/2010 at 12:13 AM

"Sorry Nadal fans, but the truth hurts."
Toronto 2010,
As a Nadal Fan I could trully tell you that I'm not hurt,on the contrary it's fun to see Nadal to still focus on trying to be great,that to me is what this game is all about,is observing greatness and trying to be great also,after all that's all one could do...
If you achieve it, fine,if you fail to do so,at leat you've tried and experienced what goes with it
I, for the life of me, don't know why people would think that fans will be mad that their players haven't done as good as others?

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/21/2010 at 02:00 AM

Rafa news,

Apart from Rafa taking out the Stefen Edberg award as voted by his fellow players,Rafa finished the year as the no 1 player.

Rafa won seven titles,including three Grand Slam titles in a row.At age 24 years and 3 months,he became the youngest man in the Open Era and seventh man overall to complete a Career Grand Slam.He also became the first man to win 3 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay court titles (MC,Rome,Madrid) in the same season.He is the all time leader with 18 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles.

He compiled a 67-9 match record,his fourth straight season with at least 65 match wins.

Posted by zenggi 11/21/2010 at 02:11 AM

Good morning,
I think that the WTF, Masters Cup or whatever name they want to give to the year-end tournament with the top-8 players is always been important.
More so if they could give this tournament an appropiate permanent venue. As Andrew pointed out the "Houston years" where an example on how not to do it. For those lucky enough to have the "Facing Federer" DVD, there is proof that the organisation wasn't good at all there. And who can forget those "credits" by Marat Safin.:)

I thought that after Shanghai the ATP would be smart enough to substitute the MS-1000 in Paris for this WTF without much ado. The top players would be happier with one mandatory MS tournament less and Paris wouldn't have to fight on the trial courts, like Hamburg did, to maintain their status because they would be getting more revenue anyway. And what's in a title? Missed opportunity!

Posted by aussiemonkey 11/21/2010 at 02:13 AM

I really think this is such an important tournament to get right for tennis, as it just flows on to so many other aspects of the game, making them more important, and to help promote what is unique to tennis as an individual sport, where ranking points are important.

The idea of the best 8 players of the year facing off is really easy to understand as prestigious for all sports fans, not just tennis fans. not only does it congratulate those who have done well during the year, but it draws attention to the importance of the rankings, which is another really important part of tennis that the general public understand and are interested in. I know lately all the talk has been about who is number one, but the general public can understand that somebody ranked 8th in the world must be a great player, and can really use that to promote more players in the sport.

I think its just a matter of time, and a bit more tweaking with the calender, especially with davis cup, so the players aren't complaining about being tired and whatnot, and this tournament should really take off. I think to the average tennis fan, it could be made to seem just as important as the slams very quickly, if not moreso, while more avid fans may take a bit more time getting used to the idea. The switching of locations i don't think is too bad a thing, but i do believe that putting it in countries that won't draw a crowd is a terrible decision.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/21/2010 at 02:14 AM

toronto writes:

"The year end championships is a monster tournament and second only to the 4 major titles. You get 1500 points for being an undefeated champion which is more than the runner-up at a major gets. When it was held at MSG from 1977 through 1989 it was considered equal to and more important than every other tournament besides Wimbeldon and the US Open. "

I very much doubt that most knowledgeable tennis fans share your opinion that the year end championships were considered more important than Roland Garros during the 1977-1989 period.

Additionally, as a Rafa fan, I can assure that the truth about Rafa winning three majors this year hurts not one single bit.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/21/2010 at 02:15 AM

Good Morning Zengii

Well its a important tournament though its not in the same league as a player winning a GS title over 2 weeks in my opinion.

Posted by aussiemonkey 11/21/2010 at 02:17 AM

also, i know this would not be popular with the tired players, but all the matches really should be 5 sets. why not, when you know all the matches have the potential to be great. even if the tournament needs to spread to two weeks. i just don't see why not. especially if this tournament combined with the womens. i think that is what will really make this tournament go the the next level, and as i said before, will make the rest of the tour more important.

Posted by zenggi 11/21/2010 at 02:19 AM

Oops! I forgot to congratulate all the winners of the ATP-Awards. Very well deserved all of them. Special mention to my countryman Robin Haase.
I hope he can regain his form and start winning tournaments in 2011.

Posted by Northernboy 11/21/2010 at 02:20 AM

I agree with Toronto 2010 and Andrew. As we were discussing earlier this month with the WTA championships, the transitory locale of the tournament really really hurts the event. While the Doha event has had several very compelling matches, none until the recent Clijsters-Wozniacki final had managed to draw anything near a crowd, and the desert location also gave viewers (unless you're Australian) a sense of disparity as winter was taking hold in your backyard.

Whereas the Madison Square Garden, Virginia Slims champs etc etc were incredible, tense, drama filled affairs with roaring crowds and fist pumps a plenty. The London event has done a fantastic job in creating an atmosphere worthy of event to rival the Slams.

The YECs for men and women should not be bounced around from venue to venue like Davis Cup. They need to be held in major centres to built excitement for the game.

That said, aside from a) my disappointment that Berdych is there instead of Jurgen Melzer and b) the conundrum Djokovic is caught in as a potential winner of the event who doesn't want to burn out before Davis Cup, I will be riveted to the event!

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/21/2010 at 02:21 AM

zengii I did say in the other post you would be pleased with Robins win as the Most Improved Player.I lost a bet with Wilson75 I went for Mr Fish.Pfft.

Posted by Northernboy 11/21/2010 at 02:24 AM

Aussiemonkey I have to disagree about 5 sets. I think switching the Masters finals to 3 sets was the smartest thing they've ever done. It still boggles my mind to realize the women played best of 5 back in the early 90s at the Virginia Slims. It just isn't feasable at a week long event, especially when the ATP is trying to shorten its season.

We've seen plenty of evidence in the last year that 3 set matches can be incredible - saw a cluster of them at last year's YECs and who can forget Nadal/Djokovic in Madrid?

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/21/2010 at 02:25 AM

oops Brain Snap

Come Back Player Of The Year

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/21/2010 at 02:27 AM

Aussiemonkey I agree that the mens YEC should be the best of 5 sets like it was once was.I would also like to see all Masters Tours 1000 be the best of 5 as well.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/21/2010 at 02:28 AM

oops should read all Masters 1000 finals be the best of 5 sets

Posted by zenggi 11/21/2010 at 02:31 AM

Good morning, AM.

Well, You may have your opinion but Rafa thinks that this tournament is more difficult to win than a GS. Go figure!

http://www.elpais.com/articulo/deportes/ogros/pelota/muerta/elpepidep/20101121elpepidep_11/Tes

The famous J.J. Mateo from El Pais titles this article: "Seven ogres and a dead ball" referring to Nadal's comment that the ball doesn't lift as he would like.

Nadal says: "The ball stays where they like it, they hit flat. Furthermore, this tournament gives no time to come into play: since the first day, you have to play against one of the best. For me it is more difficult to win four matches indoors against the other best seven than to win a GS on any other surface".

Wait till he learns that he has to play 5 matches instead of 4. :)

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/21/2010 at 02:37 AM

Zengii Rafa also said that of winning at the USO?

I think he is well rested and wants to improve on his horrid results of last year.His serve has to be on like it was in the USO for starters.

Anyway for me as a Rafa fan and seeing Rafa win his career slam and getting back to the no 1 player is still great for me.

Winning in London would be just "icing on the cake" after Rafa's amazing year.

Posted by mick1303 11/21/2010 at 02:39 AM

I don't agree that YEC lacks any credibility or importance.
It is next to Slams in importance.

Ausiemarg:
...we have seen the likes of Roger and Rafa missing this tournament due to injury...

I didn't see Roger missing this tournament.

Posted by jewell - back to the grind. Gah! 11/21/2010 at 02:40 AM

Morning, everyone. :)

I also think it would improve matters if the WTFs (love that name still) stayed in one location. Preferably London, of course. ;-)) It would give them a chance to really build an identity and find affection from fans.

My impression is that the players seem keen on going and see it as an honour to get in and to do well in it.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/21/2010 at 02:42 AM

mick I meant when Roger and Rafa had to withdraw with injury

I never inferred Roger would miss this tournament

In fact I think he is one of the favs to win?

Posted by marieJ 11/21/2010 at 02:48 AM

@ toronto
because rafa hasn't done well at the master cup - aka not even close to fed reccord i presume, don't need to go back to lendl 8 strait finals there to make a point, nobody has done better than him - we should feel hurt as his fans ?
you may not believe it, but many of his fans don't moan because there are better players than him, whether it's indoor ro another surface.

but you may wish so... in fact i doubt any of his fans will feel that way, as aube and MSF said allready...
rafa never had good results on indoor even winning some good matches over the years (madrid 05), he's not going to become suddenly an indoor master... unless everyone is fried in london this week, a run into the final would feel great but i have no special interrest this week but to watch some nice matches :)

for instance that good old guy roddick never made the final in his previous 7 showings, he simply ran into better players... should it hurt also ?
let's be serious.

the yec has probably lost a lot of its appeal going overseas after the MSG period, mostly to please the homeland of some great past champions, like becker or stich. the yec, men or women has been used to propect some new markets over the years, it's a shame they moved to so many places in a short period. London is a great choice actually, i hope they stick with it for the next decade...

Posted by zenggi 11/21/2010 at 02:51 AM

AM,
"Winning in London would be just "icing on the cake" after Rafa's amazing year."

I think I've read this before. Hmmm. It sounds familiar... Just kidding, AM. :)

Meanwhile, David Ferrer who is the 2nd best returner on the tour AND the second player who have won more matches in 2010 after Federer is been mocked because of an obvious mistake by the ATP-officials giving him a grey suit. Go tell them, David!

He says that he has changed his mentality and is more positive now when he plays. About today's match, David says: ""Against Federer I always find it difficult to start, to change pace. Roger changes gears, he changes my rhythms. He makes me dizzy (sic). I must be strong and try to pass many balls".

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/21/2010 at 02:52 AM

Marie J Hi and I agree with your thoughts

I will hopefully be going to RG next year and fingers crossed that Rafa can tie with Borgs record of 6 titles.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/21/2010 at 02:54 AM

zengii I read that mistake by the ATP officials

Though I think regardless David appeared ok in the photos

I think some people underestimate David he is good on a hard court and is one of the best returners on tour.

Posted by jewell - back to the grind. Gah! 11/21/2010 at 02:57 AM

"He makes me dizzy (sic)."

aw, Ferru. *grins*

Perhaps sometimes people just want to think certain things hurt certain people.

Posted by zenggi 11/21/2010 at 02:59 AM

Morning, jewell.:)
Isn't David adorable? What he really means is that Federer's game confuses him.

Posted by zenggi 11/21/2010 at 03:02 AM

AM,
Thank you for your congratulations on Robin. I missed your post earlier. :)

Posted by zenggi 11/21/2010 at 03:02 AM

I mean Robin Haase, of course. :)

Posted by jewell - back to the grind. Gah! 11/21/2010 at 03:04 AM

That's a nice picture of Soderling up top, too. Looks like he's got his listening face on. :)

Posted by zenggi 11/21/2010 at 03:06 AM

I don't see any dimples there. Not a good picture of Robin Soderling. :)

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/21/2010 at 03:07 AM

Terra cota David brought his tiger to London this year. He should be especially tough:

http://img832.imageshack.us/img832/299/masterslondon2010.gif

(The image is from one of David's fans who frequently posts on his official site.)

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/21/2010 at 03:07 AM

Jewell Hi!

I hope Murray performs well in London.He has the ability to win this tournament.

Posted by stenelli 11/21/2010 at 03:07 AM


WTF? I like YEC's better. In any event, it's too late in the year. People are tired of tennis. The players are tired of tennis... and it shows.

The format brings together the players with the highest scores for the year. Berdych is a perfect case in point. He's been stinking up the courts since Wimbledon. Maybe he could turn it around here. But these days, who isn't excited to see him in their draw?

In a slam, the winner has navigated his way through two weeks of wiley vetrans, fired up youngsters, the journeyman who suddenly has the hot hand, old rivals and present nemeses. The people he faces have earned their way there as well, fighting through their part of the draw.

Here, you have the top eight for the year, not necessarily the eight playing the best tennis at the time. And it all too often it shows in the quality of play.

On second thought, I think WTF is probably more fitting.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/21/2010 at 03:08 AM

Hmmm Koyla to me has the best Dimples on tour.When he smiles they just kight up his face.His wife Irina is just wonderful and she wears hats soo wear.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/21/2010 at 03:14 AM

Manuel I never thought of David and Tigers together

To me is is a "ever charged battery" that never stops and has been such a good tough player for Spain in the DC over the years.

Posted by zenggi 11/21/2010 at 03:14 AM

AM,
You are always contradicting me.:) How is Remus?

Posted by jewell - back to the grind. Gah! 11/21/2010 at 03:15 AM

No-one's got more heart than Ferru.

Posted by zenggi 11/21/2010 at 03:21 AM

I'm going for a walk on the misty beach with friends and dogs.
Be back for tennis later. Have a nice day, everyone.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/21/2010 at 03:21 AM

zengii Much better thanks.He jumped up on the shower recess railing today so he is getting better and is not coughing as much.

Posted by jewell - back to the grind. Gah! 11/21/2010 at 03:24 AM

"a walk on the misty beach with friends and dogs."

Lovely...see you later, zenggi. :)

Glad Remus is feeling better.

Posted by zenggi 11/21/2010 at 03:25 AM

AM,
Glad to hear about Remus. Thanks. Must go now. :)

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/21/2010 at 03:32 AM

Thanks Jewell and Zengii

A walk on the beach sounds great to me

I miss Keeler she loved the beach and was a great swimmer.

Posted by jewell - back to the grind. Gah! 11/21/2010 at 03:32 AM

I hope Murray plays well too, AM...I was away but I got the impression that he wasn't quite at top level in I think Valencia and Bercy.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/21/2010 at 03:42 AM

jewell I thought he could win in Bercy.I just hope for his sake he fires in London I can imagine what the press will say again?

Any news on a coach for him for next year?

Posted by jewell - back to the grind. Gah! 11/21/2010 at 03:45 AM

My old dog never liked beaches very much. He was uncomfortable without a path to trot along, and he didn't like water much, despite being a Labrador. He was also completely confused by those strange things called waves. To give him a bath we'd chuck a tennis ball into the sea and send him after it, and every time he'd not see a wave was coming, get soaked, and then look back at us as if to say "What are you doing to me?!" He'd always get his ball though. :)

Funny how much you miss them even after years.

Posted by jewell - back to the grind. Gah! 11/21/2010 at 03:47 AM

Last I heard he was going to look for a coach in the off-season. But that was a while ago.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/21/2010 at 03:54 AM

Jewell Usually Labs love the water? lol!

I know what you mean though when you have lost a dog and you remember things they used to love.

Posted by jewell - back to the grind. Gah! 11/21/2010 at 03:58 AM

I know - but he was rescued and we came to the conclusion that he'd been harshly treated for going near water - he wouldn't even drink out of his bowl without asking for permission, and he wouldn't put his paw in a puddle for anything.

It sounds almost cruel to be chucking tennis balls into water - but it would have been far, far crueller to try to give him a proper bath.

Posted by Northernboy 11/21/2010 at 03:59 AM

Off topic, but I found this absolutely wonderful tribute to Elena Dementieva showing some of her career highlights and a great collage of Lena imagery. Just had to share it with you all.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YVjyhVxOgM&feature=related

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/21/2010 at 04:05 AM

Jewell Oh how sad.I had a dog everytime I got the broom out she ran.I figured she must of been harshly treated by someone who might of hit her with a broom.Like you I got her from a rescue centre

Posted by jewell - back to the grind. Gah! 11/21/2010 at 04:06 AM

More on-topic than me...wandered off a bit there!

Posted by Ruth 11/21/2010 at 04:07 AM

I trust that the thoughtful and measured responses by Aube, AM, msf and others to the comment posted at 12:04 (particularly the last few lines of that comment) will continue to prevent that comment from dragging this thread into the ridiculous Fedal war scene that such comments frequently precipitate.

Pete: I join those who love the way that the RR format used by the WTF gives us all the opportunity to see the best of the best play each other (sometimes more than once) minus the lose-one-go-home immediacy of the normal single elimination format. But I will never forget the fiasco in Las Vegas that made the RR format something that the regular Tour abandoned for "regular" events. Hallelujah!

Nor have I have forgotten the outrageous situation at the WTF last year when no one seemd to know who was going to the semis, who was really ahead in the "game," and so on. Is is Murray? No, it's ????

I could live quite nicely without that kind of "excitement" this year, thank you very much. Serious mathematical calculations should not be required for fans to know what's what at any given time in any tournament.

And now, back to sleep! :)

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/21/2010 at 04:12 AM

Thanks Northern Boy for that link

Posted by lira vega 11/21/2010 at 04:14 AM

Does location rotating really hurt YEC/WTF popularity? I quite like the idea of "spreading the wealth" myself. Makes for a nice change in otherwise too traditionalistic tennis world. Yeah, we had occasional Doha/Houston flop, but places like Madrid or London have turned out success right from the get-go.
I'm looking forward to see what happens next year in Turkey. Of course much depends on the organizers, but Istanbul is a hoot and, IMO, should be great location for the tourney.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/21/2010 at 04:14 AM

Thanks Ruth enjoy your sleep

Posted by jewell - back to the grind. Gah! 11/21/2010 at 04:14 AM

Yeah...I don't get it. Particularly not with this dog who was sweet-natured all the way through to the bone. To be fair, I don't think he'd been physically hurt - just crushed in spirit when he was puppy. And then abandoned on the road so I don't know why I'm trying to be fair to those people. Outrageous.

I'd forgotten that about last year, Ruth! It was ludicrous.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/21/2010 at 04:18 AM

Lira Vega Hi! good to see you posting and this time as well

Posted by jewell - back to the grind. Gah! 11/21/2010 at 04:18 AM

Thanks Northernboy. :)

lira!!!

Posted by lira vega 11/21/2010 at 04:24 AM

Hola you two! Congrats on Rafa's Sportsmanship award! (I feel like every time I come here there's a new thing to say congrats for to Rafa fans, should make it a part of moniker maybe...)

How's life?

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/21/2010 at 04:29 AM

lira vega LOL! I would like to see that

How are you going and are you looking forward to a rest and the Christmas period coming up and then as fans we will back into the tennis scene again

Posted by jewell - back to the grind. Gah! 11/21/2010 at 04:30 AM

I'm surprised Nole wasn't nominated for it actually. He's adorable the way he'll applaud a good shot on court and he always seems gracious.

Life is good, have got used to being back from holiday now...and tennis is starting soon. Yay!

How are you?

Posted by lira vega 11/21/2010 at 04:34 AM

I'm ok-ish. Sort-ish...Wouldn't mind some of that holiday thing you speak of...

Frankly, I already miss me some tennis :( I watched a bit of Mirza and Amanmuradova this morning and I don't even know what was it that they were competing for ;) Call me a bad fan for not caring about players' health, but WTA off-season is too long now

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/21/2010 at 04:39 AM

lira vega Master Ace was saying the same thing about the WTA finishing soo early.

Well I am looking forward to the Medibank tournament next year.It is always a strong WTA tournament and this year 9 out of the top 10 players competed.Also looking forward to watching live Del Potro who is playing at Medibank next year as well.

Posted by lira vega 11/21/2010 at 04:44 AM

Aww, that's great. marg. I'd love it if we had a WTA event here. But since it was left to Serbian tennis federation to make it happen, I guess I should've known better then to hope they would get it done.

I'm still furious over DC tickets muck-up (I'm guessing it was already discussed? F#$$^&*(^!)

Posted by jewell - back to the grind. Gah! 11/21/2010 at 04:47 AM

I read some stuff about that on Twitter, from Noleksa - not enough tickets available to fans, and what there were, being sold out in less than four hours. She thought there'd be hell to pay.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/21/2010 at 04:47 AM

Lira Vega Are you still going to the DC final?

Also Ana is playing Medibank next year.Her romance with Aussie golfer Adam Scott is over apparently.Hmm I thought those 2 might get engaged as both families spent Christmas together.I love a wedding!

Posted by jewell - back to the grind. Gah! 11/21/2010 at 04:49 AM

Speaking of weddings...anyone still fascinated by the Fairytale Romance/Modern Romance/Kate and Wills Love Story can win an "iconic Kate Middleton engagement dress worth £379!" if they buy the Sunday Express today. :)

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/21/2010 at 04:56 AM

Jewell Hmmmm Kate needs my "fashionsita" help ASAP

By the way we have to call her Catherine from now on I have been reading you know lol!

I hope she gets married at Westminster Abbey I think that would be ideal.

Posted by lira vega 11/21/2010 at 04:57 AM

Yup, last week they announced that sale would start on Tuesday and that you could buy your ticket on-line, make a reservation via phone call or go and buy it on various places throughout Belgrade. Tuesday comes and website is down, phones aren't functioning either, some of the places that were supposed to be selling tix, in fact, didn't have them and those that did sold out in two hours (some sources say four).
Turns out they only put up some 5000 tickets for sale (and some are saying even that is doubtful). All the rest went to sponsors and VIPs. It should be interesting to see whether those big shots turn up and actually sit out 7 or 8 hours in Arena.

And yeah, many fans (actual tennis fans) are planning on boycotting TSS-organized event in the future. Yours truly included

Posted by lira vega 11/21/2010 at 04:58 AM

Cheesetastic, jewell! Did you get your copy?

Posted by jewell - back to the grind. Gah! 11/21/2010 at 05:01 AM

Quite a nice Murray piece here:

http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/tennis/murray-makes-himself-at-home-2139841.html

By all accounts Cameron really loves tennis and is a pretty good player himself.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/21/2010 at 05:03 AM

lira vega What a Shamozzle! I hope I spelt that right

It will be interesting to see if all those "big wigs" turn up?

Hmmmm sorry for you and everyone else that tried to get tickets

Posted by jewell - back to the grind. Gah! 11/21/2010 at 05:06 AM

Hehe, I'm not a natural Express reader & will not pay money for it ever. :)

I've softened towards the whole event since reading that we will probably get a bank holiday in honour of it, though. :)

That's a shame about the tickets, lira. Thanks for the more detailed info. Seems to me that the Serbian fans are some of the most passionate around at the moment; pity to be "shut out" like that.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/21/2010 at 05:07 AM

Jewell Thanks for that link.Yes I read that Cameron is a good player and loves tennis.

Well time for me to hit the sack I have only about 4 hrs sleep before the finals begin.Though I did have my "siesta" this afternoon.

Bye Jewell and good to talk to you again Lira Vega and Aussie,Aussie,Aussie,Oi,Oi,Oi, just for you

Bye!

Posted by lira vega 11/21/2010 at 05:25 AM

Holiday, eh? Um, could Serbia do a Rwanda/Mozambique in time for the wedding? ;) I'm sure we could work something up from there...

If at least they told us upfront what the situation was like, those that really wanted to could've planned ahead and showed up for some good ol' queuing. This way, you think you'll get your ticket on-line or make a reservation via phone and once you realize it's not gonna work out, it's already too late...Sad thing is it's the players who are gonna end up playing in front of empty house in a few months when India is coming and VIPs are gone.

'night, marg! Oi, oi, oi, indeed.
BTW, what was Bernie The Future Goat thinking trying to play on clay earlier this year. Totes killed his momentum.[/hindsightis2020]

Posted by jewell - back to the grind. Gah! 11/21/2010 at 05:32 AM

'Night Marg. :)

I thought it was Grigor the Future Goat? ;-)

Posted by lira vega 11/21/2010 at 05:44 AM

Ugh jewell, that's too depressing a scenario for a Sunday morning.Bernie- future goat, Grisha...well, this challenger goat thingy he has going on suits him just fine methinks. He may proceed ;)

Posted by jewell - back to the grind. Gah! 11/21/2010 at 05:49 AM

Hehe. I actually prefer Bernie to Grisha, a little. But I saw Grisha practice at Queens and he was adorable - can't help but like him too.

Future Bergrish wars!

Posted by lira vega 11/21/2010 at 06:04 AM

Heh, I think those two would be giving us a lot more off-court material. Neither seems bromancing type...to me at least

Speaking of cheesetastic-ness...one local married, 30-year-old pop (I guess) singer who was rumored to be having an affair with Nole made a song kinda referencing it. She's singing about being attracted to younger guy, making a stain on her dress so that she has the excuse to take it off, him saying to her that married women are like fine wine and all sorts of pretty hilarious crap. Caused decent amount of stir 'round here ;) Good timing on her part now that DC final is being played

Posted by lira vega 11/21/2010 at 06:09 AM

I'm just now reading gauloises' stuff from Paris and it's truly wonderful. I hope it wasn't a one off thing, I'd love to read more...And I miss her NBP :(

Posted by temes 11/21/2010 at 06:13 AM

I think the round robin format is dull. I feel like I need a notebook and a calculator to keep track of who is being eliminated. It only gets interesting from the semis onward.
Generally the idea of YEC(round robin, 8 best players) sounds good and exciting on paper but somehow it just doesn't work out so well in action for me.

Posted by manel 11/21/2010 at 06:16 AM

To me the WTFs are next to the Grand Slams in importance (the indoor GS?). It is extremely difficult to classify for them, there are no easy matches and ultimately they show the dominance of the best players (Lendl, Sampras, Federer). Maybe some players are tired, but I'm sure that all eight would kill to win the event.

Changing venues from time to time can be negative, but it allows the opportunity to see the best and promote tennis in different parts of the world. My first great tennis match was the WTF final in Barcelona in 72, with the great Nastase defeating Stan Smith in 5 close sets.

BTW, the final should be played to 5 sets.

Posted by NP 11/21/2010 at 07:06 AM

Why the hell isn't there any working stream? Shouldn't the Muzz-Sod match be starting right now?

Posted by sisu 11/21/2010 at 07:10 AM

Beautiful morning to everyone. Was watching the moon set in the West - pretty sight, light pink against a blue/grey sky. At the same time, the sun was coming up in the East turning the sky all pink and purple.

On to tennis! Totally agree with lira vega about liking “spreading the wealth” when changing the site of the YEC/WTF. And please let the on-site officials understand the scoring rules so we know immediately who moves forward as each match ends. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that they do their jobs. ;))


Hi NP. Doubles first, around 7:15am, then singles, around 9am I believe.
Nice to see you.

Posted by sisu 11/21/2010 at 07:12 AM

http://www.livescorehunter.com/Livescores/Livescore-Tennis.html

Shows links are available for the doubles and will be available later for all the matches.

Posted by NP 11/21/2010 at 07:18 AM

Oh, IC. Thx, sisu. Well, I'll try to stay up until 9, but it's a tall order.

Posted by sisu 11/21/2010 at 07:23 AM

NP, NP. ;)) Hope to see you later. Sounds like you're tired; maybe one of your power naps might help.

Posted by NP 11/21/2010 at 07:33 AM

sisu, unfortunately I'm not one of those freaks who can take a 1-hr power nap and wake up feeling completely rejuvenated.

Off to do some reading. Be back if I'm still awake. Enjoy.

Posted by zenggi 11/21/2010 at 07:47 AM

sisu,
Glad you are up! I thank you very much for your comments the last few days. I always miss you for a few minutes or a few hours. Shame on me for not paying more attention to you.

I'm watching the Bryan Bros. against the 'ers (Melz and Petszchn). Both looking good in black though they are trailing 2-5.

Posted by temes 11/21/2010 at 07:48 AM

I recently read that a nap should be 30 mins max or you will feel just really tired afterwards.

Posted by zenggi 11/21/2010 at 07:49 AM

And grumpy NP cannot take a 1 hour power nap. AM will be delighted to read about.

Melzer is playing way better than Petzchner. 5-3. The bros to serve for the first set.

Posted by zenggi 11/21/2010 at 07:51 AM

temes,
And what is the length of the optimal nap for you?

Yeap, the Bryans take the first set 6-3.

Posted by temes 11/21/2010 at 07:55 AM

zenggi, I'm not a very good napper but a 15 to 20 mins of hibernation is actually very refreshing.

Posted by temes 11/21/2010 at 07:56 AM

That is when you can achieve the hibernation state in that short of a time, not always happening lol.

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