Concrete Elbow by Steve Tignor - Olympic Spirits
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Olympic Spirits 08/15/2008 - 3:07 PM

RnI finally had a chance to catch an extended amount of tennis from Beijing today, and just in time. After a largely fanless week, the men’s semis gave us spectators in the stands, passion on the court, and two moments that will live in tennis infamy.

Let’s start with the more infamous of the two. When I turned on MSNBC—or was it CNBC? USA? Univision? NBCOlympics.com?—this morning, Fernando Gonzalez and James Blake were tied at 7-all in the third set. The tennis was what you would expect from these two: lots big cuts, lots of winners, lots of errors. According to the announcers, Jimmy Arias and Barry MacKay, Blake had had three match points earlier, but I didn’t see those.

I also had trouble seeing what happened on the first point on Gonzalez’s serve at 8-9. Blake flicked a backhand pass that appeared to hit something as it went by Gonzalez at the net and landed just long. Blake raised his hand in apology as if he had won the point. But the ball was called out and chair umpire Carlos Bernardes awarded the point to Gonzalez. Blake argued that the ball had touched Gonzalez’s racquet, but Bernardes hadn’t noticed that. The TV cameras stuck with Blake during this argument, never panning to Gonzalez even as Blake looked at him to see if he was going to admit anything. I don’t know what Gonzo was doing, or if he saw Blake’s glance, but he was clearly keeping his mouth shut. Arias said he was “nowhere to be found.”

Even worse, there was no replay of the moment in question, so at this point I can’t say whether the ball touched Gonzalez’s racquet or not. Arias said it was “definite” and MacKay agreed. Here’s how an AP report put it: “On the first point, Blake hit a backhand passing shot long but contended the ball ticked Gonzalez's racket before landing, as TV replays confirmed.”

For now, these testaments are enough to make me believe that the ball did hit Gonzalez’s racquet. Afterward, Blake called out the Chilean, saying he had “lost a little faith” in him and that the incident was contrary to the Olympic spirit he had been enjoying this week. For his part, here's how Gonzalez responded to questions about the incident:

Can you please talk us through the incident that James was very upset about where he claimed that the ball had touched your racket?

I don't know. I mean, nobody ask me anything. We was on the court like two hours and a half. I was really tired. I didn't feel anything. I mean, I saw the ball coming to my body, and I think he was a little bit pissed in the second set because I hit on his body, and maybe he tried to do the same. I just tried to move from the ball, and I didn't feel anything, you know.

I mean, there is an umpire. It was 0-0, 8-9, I don't remember, after two hours and a half. Almost I didn't feel my forehand. It's my best shot. And I didn't feel anything.

If I'm hundred percent sure about it, I mean, I will give it. But I'm not sure, you know. I'm just moving, that's all.”

I’d like to believe Gonzalez, and when he says, “If I’m 100 percent sure about it, I will give it,” he almost has me. But I can’t imagine a scenario, even when you’re in motion—when are you not moving in tennis?—where you wouldn’t know that a ball, particularly one struck by a pro, has hit your racquet. If he did feel it hit his frame (and I suppose we'll never know for sure), Gonzalez, by any reasonable code of sportsmanship, should have told the chair umpire. Otherwise his victory is diminished, even if, as he says, it was only one point.

JbWhatever Gonzalez felt, it didn’t seem to include guilt about winning that point or the match. If anything, he hit the ball with more ferocity in the closing two games, and when it was over he cried tears of joy. Blake said after the match that Gonzalez engages in gamesmanship on a regular basis. I’ve never enjoyed watching Gonzo—his manner is too stone-faced, his game too vicious—but I haven’t heard him accused of gamesmanship in the past. He obviously cherishes the Olympics, and they’ve made him a national hero in Chile. Is it possible that Gonzalez would have given the point to Blake if this had happened in a normal tournament? If so, it would be a total inversion of the spirit in which the Games are supposed to be played.

On to our second moment of infamy, which came in the form of the most unfortunate botched overhead in tennis history. In the second semi, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal dispelled some of the bad taste that was left over from the first. They did it by giving us another in their series of classic battles of athleticism, shotmaking, and full-throated emotion. For the first time this week, I could see that the Olympics had upped the passions of both players. Finally, the sport seemed to belong at the Games—seeing Nadal and Djokovic referred to as Serbia and Spain on the scoreboard made tennis, at least temporarily, about more than individual glory. The knowledge that this was the last chance either would have to win a gold medal for four years made the stakes that much higher and the points that much more nerve-wracking.

In the end, each guy flirted with collapse until Djokovic finally did, in a spectacular way. The final set felt like a tug of war; the sideline-to-sideline rallies were that visceral. Djokovic had the better of most of them. Nadal’s shots were bouncing up into his strike zone, and he was using his backhand to change directions with the ball relentlessly. But, as is so often the case, just when Nadal seemed about to be run off the court, he pushed back and changed the terms on which the points were played. He fought from 0-30 down at 3-3. On the ad side, he was saved all afternoon by his serve, which he swung out wide and then into Djokovic’s forehand hip. He used both to bail himself out in the third and keep his nose ahead. Even though he had been in survival mode for the better part of two sets, at 4-4, with an Olympic medal hanging between the two players—you could practically see the thing around their necks—Nadal found a way to step forward, take the initiative with his forehand, and play one of his best games of the match.

When Djokovic lost the first point of the next game, I said, “It’s over.” The Serb has become a confounding figure mentally, especially when he plays Nadal and Andy Murray. Djokovic has too much self-confidence to choke in the conventional sense of the term, but he has begun to have trouble facing the moment with equanimity. Rather than getting tentative, when Djokovic feels the pressure he either bombs away indiscriminately or flips up an all-or-nothing drop shot that will end the point right away. He did both at 4-5, losing a point after hitting an excellent drop and then belting a perfect forehand onto the sideline to save a match point.

N_dOn the next one, as Djokovic stared up at a short, sitting-duck lob that Nadal had tossed his way, I was almost sure, against all reason, that he was going to miss it. He did. Credit, one more time, the cussedness of Nadal, who looked capable of tracking down anything. His defense must seem oppressive—there’s so much energy coming from his side of the sourt—to someone trying to time an overhead, no matter how easy it looks. Also credit, one more time, Nadal’s ability to find a way around his nerves without simply going for broke or ending points as quickly as possible. It was the only thing that separated him from Djokovic today.

Finally, credit both Djokovic, who hugged his conqueror at the net and walked away in tears, and Nadal, whose victory celebration was, if anything, more spontaneously joyous than the one he showed off at Wimbledon, for giving us a reason to believe that the Olympic spirit—its fervor and its sportsmanship—can be found even among the world’s richest and most famous athletes.

***

As you may know, Ed McGrogan has been doing the online text commentary for the matches being shown this week at NBCOlympics.com. I'm heading to Connecticut this weekend to take over for him. If you happen to be up at 4:00 A.M. either day, and your TV is broken, pay me a visit.


 
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Comments
 
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Posted by nyc 08/15/2008 at 03:13 PM

second.

Posted by nyc 08/15/2008 at 03:18 PM

I was in disbelief watching Djokovic leave the court in tears. Does that change your perception about the relevance of tennis to the Olympics. I can't believe that Bodo and Wertheim chose this week to take vacations. I don't know how it's possible but these athletes seem even more engaged and more into competing than normal. The Olympics are special to them. Did you see how Federer reacted when winning doubles?

Posted by Jenna 08/15/2008 at 03:22 PM

Blake's reaction was harsh, but understandable. Wow, I can't remember a time when someone has taken such a hit at their opponent's character. I am disappointed in Gonzalez though.

And the Djokovic/Nadal match was absolutely beautiful. Well done to Nadal. This bodes well for the Open.

Posted by sonya (bite the gold baby, bite) 08/15/2008 at 03:28 PM

Steve, I am glad that you finally acknowledge the measure of olympic tennis. It was not only the semifinals that proved it, the top players were playing doubles. Roger is in the finals it means a lot to him to finally win a medal for his country. This olympic spirit is also, at least for me the drive behind gonzo' success here. I'm still very disappointed with your article on espn. To me, you not only shunned olympic tennis, but you also shunned those athletes who gave their all to be here. Sharapova would have been here if she could, ana was in tears after withdrawing, jelena fought through injuries but refused to back down until dinara produced her best, roger will fight like crazy to get gold because, nole was destroyed after losing, the list goes on and on. All for them were there for the experience and the pride they feel for their country, it was not about ranking points or titles. It's just the joy of representing your country at the biggest stage in sports.

Posted by 08/15/2008 at 03:32 PM

What patriotic nonsense! Blake is the one who comes out of this really badly, as a poor loser and mean spirited. Gonzalez avoided contact, right in front of the chair umpire who confirmed there was no contact of the ball with his racquet, as was even more obvious on all tv replays. I for one thought Blake was making a fuss to try to upset Gonzalez' concentration. There is no other explanation for his uncalled for gamesmanship and pettiness.

Posted by SwissMaestro 08/15/2008 at 03:34 PM

Steve, I have a question for you. You qualify the matches between Nadal and Djokovic as "battles of athleticism, shotmaking, and full-throated emotion"

What's the difference, I mean how would you qualify the difference between a Federer vs Nadal match and a Federer vs Djokovic match based on what you said about the Nadal vs Djokovic match?

Posted by SwissMaestro 08/15/2008 at 03:43 PM

Maybe the Federer vs Djokovic match is a little more bitter spirited and the result depends on how Federer channels his anger because he does not like the Djokovic?

Maybe the Federer vs Nadal match-up is all about will vs skill?

Also, what do you think of the finals?? I know Nadal is on a roll and covers his technical deficiencies with the endless power of his gigantic mind but I also know that Gonzo upended him the last time they played on hard courts in the 2007 Australian Open. To me, the Chilean clearly has the game (hitting flat and deep) to upset him. So I go for that.

Gonzalez d. Nadal 6-3 and 6-3

Posted by tennizen 08/15/2008 at 03:46 PM

I think Blake is over dramatizing the whole situation and using it as an excuse to demonstrate his moral superiority. Your opponent didn't give you the point, too bad. If you really want to be the better person, staying quiet about it and accepting it for what it is is better than whining away about it in the most personal terms possible.

Posted by Drop Shot Dragon 08/15/2008 at 03:48 PM

SwissMaestro - How can Gonzalez win 6-3 6-3 when the final is best-of-five sets?

Posted by Veruca Salt 08/15/2008 at 03:53 PM

SwissM: The Olympic final is 5 sets.

Posted by Daedra 08/15/2008 at 03:56 PM

Steve, good post, but I wonder, Does anyone really care about the Olympics?

Posted by steve 08/15/2008 at 04:01 PM

sm, i suppose you're right, that's a fairly generic description. let's just say they play great points and raise each other's games.

Posted by Vanessa 08/15/2008 at 04:12 PM

I guess he meant 6 3 6 3 6 3 and of course he meant Nadal to beat Gonzalez, just a typo you see... LOL LOL LOL

Posted by James 08/15/2008 at 04:14 PM

Blake is my favorite current player (we're both New Yorkers who have scoliosis), but you can't look to Gonzalez to make a call against himself in that situation. That is what the umpire is there for and, if Blake could tell it hit Gonzo's racquet, then the umpire should have as well. I fail to see the difference in this and a situation, say, where a player is driving to the basket and is bodied by a defender. There may well have been contact--contact which altered a shot--but it is up to the referee to call the foul, not the offending player. When you have a ref out there (or in this case, a chair umpire) you're gripe is with them. This isn't pick-up ball.

Posted by Chiconinja 08/15/2008 at 04:43 PM

I haven't seen any video on this play but if the ball hit Gonzo's frame then he must have felt it. Everyone who plays tennis knows you do feel these kind of things.

And yes, it was up to him to give up the point. That's part of what's unique about tennis.

Posted by wvv 08/15/2008 at 04:44 PM

"I was in disbelief watching Djokovic leave the court in tears. Does that change your perception about the relevance of tennis to the Olympics."

This loss meant more to him than any other I think. Look at Fed crying in Athens after his 2nd round loss to Berdych.

Posted by jewell 08/15/2008 at 04:58 PM

In snooker (I know, I know, nothing like tennis) the players always call foul on themselves if, say, their shirt touches a ball when they're leaning over it, or if they hit a push shot.

If Gonzo felt that he should have given the point up. What can he say now, though? Even if he regrets it, it's done.

At Wimbledon this year in round 2 Nadal picked up a ball so close to the ground that the umpire said it bounced twice. TV replays clearly showed it hadn't. In the press conference after, Nadal refused to say he had lost the set because of that - he said he lost the set because he played a terrible service game afterwards. There were two games after that incident earlier - it's part of sport to put those distractions aside.

Hi, Daedra. I care about the Olympics. Doubles medal for Fed - what a story.

Posted by SwissMaestro 08/15/2008 at 05:09 PM

Apologize to you all. I did not remember (not that I didn't know the final was best of five sets). I find it harder for Gonzalez to surprise Nadal like that then. But I still say Gonzalez just because he has the game to do it like he did back in Australia...

So Gonzalez d. Nadal 7-5, 6-3 and 6-2

Posted by zolarafa 08/15/2008 at 05:15 PM

Steve,
great post.

Sonya,
great comments. Loved every word of it. The Olympic medal means a lot to all these athletes. They have the US Open in one week. Still they fight their heart and sould in Beijing to win a medal.

About Blake/Gonzo incident,
The match can be watched on nbcolymoics.com/tennis. From everything I read , it seems it touched Gonzo's racquet. But I don't think that's the reason Blake lost the match. It was the first point at 8-9 Gonzo-Blake, Gonzo serving.
How many bad calls we have seen in the tournaments? wrong hawkeyes? wrong over-rules, wrong calls?
Blake gets stuck emotionally.After that point he was behind 0-15. It was not a breakpoint or match point.

I agree that Blake is using this as an excuse for his loss.Even if Gonzo deliberately did the wrong thing, that was not the point that decided the match.

*********
Comments of the day:
***SwissMaestro - How can Gonzalez win 6-3 6-3 when the final is best-of-five sets?***
Drop Shot Dragon -3:48 pm

*** I can't believe that Bodo and Wertheim chose this week to take vacations.***
nyc-3:18 pm

nyc, Peter Bodo is always on vacations! .:)

Posted by zolarafa 08/15/2008 at 05:19 PM

one more thing,
Thanks to you and Ed for the commentary on nbcolympics.com. It is fantastic.

Posted by steve 08/15/2008 at 05:20 PM

yes, i now believe in olympic tennis much more than i did before this year. federer in dubs is a nice sidelight as well.

and it's true, it's part of the game to make that call on yourself, but it's also part of the game for the other guy to have the strength to put it behind him.

Posted by sonya (bite the gold baby, bite) 08/15/2008 at 05:33 PM

I'm so glad you said that steve.:) I love your posts , so i was seriously wondering how I was going to keep my dignity by ignoring them. Thank you.

Posted by Andrew 08/15/2008 at 05:34 PM

I've already gotten into an extended discussion of this at Pete's place. It may be that the ball did touch Gonzalez' racquet. It's possible (though unproven) that he knew this at the time. If so, it would have been honorable of him to have acknowledged this, but not (when umpires have to make calls) unpardonable to have declined to do so.

I'm not a fan of calling out another player, on an extended basis, for a perceived ethical transgression in a press conference after the match.

Posted by zolarafa 08/15/2008 at 05:56 PM

Andrew,
Just reading the other column( and posting a comment) I remembered the incident with Blake and the Vegas round-robin . When Blake himself called ET protesting something and then ET asked the tournament manegers to replace Korolev with Blake, when Korolev was the one that had to advance. Blake accepted the decision with a straight face, saying that it came from ATP! eventually other players ( among them Hewitt and Safin) protested the decison and it was reversed. I think it was Vegas 07. So, now for him to say why Gonzo accepted the umpire's decison is a bit strange!

Karma maybe?

Posted by ralph 08/15/2008 at 05:57 PM

I'm not a fan of Blake but think his statements about the disputed point were appropriate. What Blake said in the press conference is that he had lost a little faith in Gonzalez, not that Gonzalez was some terrible crook. Blake also readily acknowledged that the disputed point was not what caused him to lose the match, he said that Gonzalez played the big points well and better than he did. If I were playing and could see the ball tip the racket I am sure that I would be very disappointed if my opponent failed to acknowledge what happened and a little wary in the future about playing that person again.

Posted by Voks 08/15/2008 at 05:57 PM

And when I remember what was said about Nadals prospects at beginning of the year...lol... What's amazing among other is how fatigueless he appears compared to last year this time around. It's clear that its a result of boosted confidence drawn from Wimby victory, as much as his 'fatique' last years was result of that very same loss. Even at the Olympics he said about how tired he felt, but how once matches start going he feels better and better, and titles keep coming. Or medals in this case. Perhaps his present form and Feds alike are true measure of Wimbys greatness as a Slam. And there wouldn't be anything strange about it if it weren't so many who predicted his 'fade away' this season. Perhaps he's not such a bull after all, but rather that other guy with a funny hat, a red cloak and a sword.

Clearly the guy is peaking and something tells me that his overall future success will depend on him and his own game more than it did for any other champion in the past. Unless they allow tennis players to use machine guns instead of rackets or something. Congrats to Rafa, Spain and Rafa fans for at least silver medal!

As for Djokster, what can I say? Sad he lost, happy how he played and faired generally. As for his attitude, it looks to me as if he got into some strange alley, for which I can't decide is it like a downward slope or kinda side/temporary thing. Especially considering this type of frustration he exhibits, this choke-look-alike thing with dropshots and trigger-pulling in crunch time. And when I blend it with this hug at the net and tears and his kinda obliviousness and recklessness from the past (impersinations, trash talking, trophy biting, singing...), and when I add this domestic pressure and desires and stated ambitions... I dunno, its a weird mix.

Perhaps it should be viewed as a process, a maturing process in which aims and efforts needed for making them happen came to realization. I mean guy just turned 21, he had incredible run, which not many expected. He blasted through adversities with big balls so to speak, and the result in given time and circumstances is this loosened squeeze when things don't go his way. All that moaning, hands on hips, funny faces, even yelling at ball boys from time to time... I dunno, I'm not that smart to be sure whether that's all a good sign or not. Still, I guess it could be worse, for which there are enough examples for.

Posted by HK 08/15/2008 at 06:07 PM

The Olympics matter!!! Every 4 years, the best of the best gather in one spot while the world watches and even heads of states (retired and active) deign to watch in person. There's nothing like an Olympic medal to most athletes and to most elite athletes, there's no substitute for Olympic gold.

Take for example, figure skater Michelle Kwan. She has two Olympic medals - a silver in 1998 and a bronze in 2002 and before that, in between and after - skateloads of national and world titles. Tara Lipinski took the gold in 1998 and Sarah Hughes in 2002 but both didn’t have much else when compared to Kwan. But with the Olympic gold (and the financial windfall) they appear to be more contented and gratified than Kwan in their amateur careers. Lipinski turned professional soon after the pinnacle of her career and Hughes tapered off before going to college. Kwan maintained her amateur status and went to Turin in 2006 but had to withdraw because of an injury. Guess what? She's saying that she'll decide in 2009 whether she will compete in 2010 when she's 29 years old. That's the extent of her feeling of void and hunger for the Olympic gold. (BTW, I don’t follow figure skating anymore.)

As a Rafa fan (and I swear I usually think like him), I give you my personal guarantee that Rafa would sooner exit in the first round of the US Open than take anything less than the gold. You can’t look four years ahead to make up for a missed opportunity. I can appreciate Djokovic’s and Federer’s pain and suffering. That’s why I want Federer to win the doubles even though I cheered for Blake (FYI, this was the only match I tuned in live because I had a premonition that Federer would lose). If Rafa wins the gold, I wouldn’t mind any of his subsequent losses till the end of the year.

Win gold Rafa and Roger and take the bronze Nole!

Posted by Anthony Beckman 08/15/2008 at 07:27 PM

Some opinions:

I'm crossing my fingers and toes that Rog. will get the doubles gold! He deserves it (?). But for the singles, it's just as well now: this is Rafa's time - and just imagine the Djoker's attitude if he'd got it! Gonzo is under-rated, ...er, though mostly because of his own inconsistencies. Blake is being big baby about that shot - he was playing so well right up until the end. Maybe next time his coach will step on his goggles to help him prepare for such eventualities in sports...

Posted by mint32 08/15/2008 at 07:39 PM

good post voks, weird mix indeed, don't forget the chest-thumping, no. 1 in the air stuff too, followed by the compliments of rafa and funny, goofy stuff....it better be a process for him, and now fed...and murray (esp. after his loss this week)...rafa breaks occasionally in his own way (tightening up on that late second serve, match game), but far less frequently than these other guys lately....his ability to play these "big points" like "little points" is very similar to sampras, with very different emotional "appearance"

Posted by 08/15/2008 at 07:49 PM

The replay I saw clearly, without doubt, plain as day, shows deflection. The ball nicks the rackets and changes course. I don't know if there are other replays out there but the one I saw is indisputable.

Posted by Sher 08/15/2008 at 08:29 PM

Lovely write up of Novak/Rafa match but I have no clue what having a lot of money has to do with having Olympic spirit, Steve. That ending sounds a tad bitter.

Posted by zolarafa 08/15/2008 at 08:35 PM

Sher
***I have no clue what having a lot of money has to do with having Olympic spirit, Steve. That ending sounds a tad bitter.***

at the beginning of the olympics and with the withdrawl or not participation of a few players, some choosing not to stay in the village, etc., there were discussions that the rich tennis players do not embrace the spirit of the olympics . My guess is that's what the last sentence referred to.

Posted by M.G. 08/15/2008 at 08:54 PM

Blake is completely correct, Gonzo should have conceded the point, period. There is no gray area here. There is a blemish on his "win" over Blake. There is no way of knowing which way the match would have ended up after that point. I sincerely wish we had a chance to find out. There is no room in sports for bad sportsmanship. There should be a system in tennis so that these types of "errors" don't continue. All the chair umpire had to do was take a few seconds to view the replay.

Posted by alexa 08/15/2008 at 09:07 PM

As a Chilean I'm saddened by Gonzo not admitting, what looked to on replays to be a clear touch on his racket - enough to deflect the ball out.

In Athens I'm afraid Massu wasn't entirely lacking in gamesmanship during the gold medal match with his time wasting over supposed injuries. However much we love our athletes to win medals most of us want them to do it with honor.

What surprises me is how many people here, and on other boards, are using this as a reason to 'bash' James Blake. He's simply answered questions and spoken his mind - isn't freedom of speech one of the important privileges of being an American?

Posted by Kenneth 08/15/2008 at 09:33 PM

What a wasteland this place has been without such great anaylsis. I agree wholeheartedly with almost every word, Steve. Unfortunately, 4 AM is a bit much to ask, lol.

Posted by JC 08/15/2008 at 09:39 PM

To be fair let's consider the following:
1. The ball did NOT clearly touch the racket. If it did, it only happened for a very brief period and didn't strike the racket hard. It's quite understandable Gonzales didn't feel it.
2. Gonzales already moved away from the ball which means he knows the ball will go out. It's not like he tried to hit it but failed and THEN claim he did not hit the ball.
3. It was the first point of the game. Nothing much to it. James could just have let go of the issue.
Let's give Gonzo a break. Let's not make a big fuss about this. James, shame on you. I expected a better attitude from you.

Posted by Baltho 08/15/2008 at 09:54 PM

Swiss - what technical deficiencies? Even his serve is quite good now.

Posted by rick 08/15/2008 at 10:09 PM

JC:
the ball CLEARLY touched the racket, enough to deflect it, there is simply no discussion, the replay shows the change of direction of the ball. It's not a little or a maybe, it changes direction in flight.

That being said, yes, Gonzo says he didn't feel it.

As for Blake - these things bother you, they stick in your head (ever played a guy you know is calling bad lines?).

Still, I'm not sure it's not the umpire's responsibility. It comes down to a question of sportsmanship.

Posted by Anthony Beckman 08/15/2008 at 10:12 PM

JC is right in his description of the incident. I don't know what broadcast M.G., alexa, and any others are viewing to claim otherwise (and I have a sweet HD set-up, too). And Blake, whom I admire much as a tennis player, didn't just answer some questions, as you suggest. He attacked his opponent's character with accusations of cheating over a disputable point that had already been decided by the ump when Blake complained about it at its instance. I thought he was over it, in fact, as he went on to the next point. Only when it came up again later in Blake's little character-assasination attempt interview did I catch the scent of sour grapes over it.

(From what I witnessed on the broadcast and over various replays, it's quite possible the ball did *barely* touch the frame. But, it's also highly likely G. didn't even know it as he was already in full flight from being hit by it himself.)

Posted by rick 08/15/2008 at 10:19 PM

The replay on MSNBC this afternoon was shot from behind Gonzo, the best I've seen, a clear and close view, and there is simply no question. The ball deflects in flight off the racket.

Regardless of the responses by Blake or Gonzo - that can be argued for weeks and months - the MSNBC replay leaves no doubt about the ball touching the racket.

Posted by Anthony Beckman 08/15/2008 at 10:23 PM

rick: wrong. You are confusing the arch of the ball's curved descent to the ground for a change in direction due to G.'s racket supposedly hitting it. I thought that was what happened upon reviewing the broadcast, too, before looking closer.

And why is an entire history of regard for the precedence of an ump's authority being called into question over an Olympian dose of sportsmanship (as opposed to a non-Olympian dose)?? Instead, this smacks of the ol' "attack your opponent's character if you can't beat their numbers" routine. It'd be better for Blake's reputation if he'd just let it go away without saying anything more about it after that news conference slip.

Posted by rick 08/15/2008 at 10:28 PM

Nope, no ball that I'm aware of (and physics will support me on this) will do what that ball did (a right turn and up, no matter how small, ain't arching down in any universe I know of).

I'm not taking sides on either of these guys, all I'm saying is that the dispute about if it did or if it didn't is pointless. It did.

Posted by alexa 08/15/2008 at 10:35 PM

anthony beckham - I was watching on the super slo-mo here in Beijing as I'm editing for Chilean tv.

Posted by 08/15/2008 at 10:38 PM

anthony beckham - sounds as though you were at the press interview which I missed most of though so can't contradict what you say about Blake's 'sour grapes' manner during it as I've had to interpret from transcripts which, of course, can never show the persistence of journalists or the expression of the athlete.

Posted by alexa 08/15/2008 at 10:39 PM

sorry 10:38 was me again.

Posted by Tosin 08/15/2008 at 11:04 PM

The relevant questions during the match are : did F. Gonzales feel it? 10% or 100% ? did the umpire see it? could Blake have called an instant replay?
Remember that the player Gonzales didn't have the privilege of seeing a small deflection of the ball as you may have watching the match. Wrong calls happen in tennis. Hehehe, it may be tense between the two players - and the umpire - for a while.

Posted by Anthony Beckman 08/15/2008 at 11:09 PM

Well, maybe it's not as obvious as I think, but it doesn't really matter. FTR, I watched it on my home digital system and still think there's a plausible reading for it not having hit the racket. And super slo-mo wouldn't nec. help, anyway, because it disrupts the continuity and pace/distance of the sampling needed for an accurate account of the line/disruption of/curve.

The point is what should be done about it now? There is precedence for this sort of thing. And you know, it's not like Fed. whining about some lighting at a night match. No, Blake phrased it with all the righteous indignation he could muster to throw blame. At the wrong person! Is this a playground? He might have taken the high road at the interview, for all it's worth, by not bringing up his "possible slighting" in the first place (no, I was not there). It comes off like an excuse for his loss no matter how it's pitched.

Posted by colin 08/15/2008 at 11:14 PM

alright i posted something already about the blake ball controversy lol. uhh ur either blind or seeing stuff believing that - that ball did NOT hit that racquet. Gonzo playing cheap, with all the challenges u should be able to throw the red flag out on those too'
but like some1 mentioned about rafa wimby double bounce thing, i think blake should have done other things to win the match, not just blame ONE POINT for losing the match, when he could have done other things to win, such as beat gonzo.
eitherway im rooting for rafa to whoop gonzo in the final and possibly pissedoff blake to win bronze against a mentally defeated djoke.

Posted by rafafan 08/15/2008 at 11:29 PM

back to Rafa, he is in line for the gold! Silver guaranteed.
I heard today on NBC, the only coverage I have seen, the only tiny bit of coverage I got was a comment about Nadal. They have already referred to him as World No 1. They said "Rafael Nadal, world number 1, if he wins the Olympic gold, will be the first World number 1 to win the gold since tennis was reinstated to the Olympics in 1988."
How about that?

Posted by Anthony Beckman 08/16/2008 at 12:19 AM

Rafafan: I heard today on NBC..."Rafael Nadal, world number 1, if he wins the Olympic gold, will be the first World number 1 to win the gold since tennis was reinstated to the Olympics in 1988."
How about that?
--------------

It's not true, unfortunately. He'd need to take the medal after midnight, on the 18th, right?

Posted by rafafan 08/16/2008 at 12:22 AM

technically yes, but that is what they said on NBC. I was suprised because it is not official until Monday the 18th

Posted by aca 08/16/2008 at 12:23 AM

GO,Novak !!
His time will come. It took Nadal few years to become #1.
Novak has a big heart and means no harm. He is still learning.

Posted by rafafan 08/16/2008 at 12:24 AM

it still sounded good to hear Rafa refered to as World #1.

Posted by rafafan 08/16/2008 at 12:26 AM

Novak is coming about, but he needs to mature a bit.
He wears his emotions on his sleeves. Will be a true test for Rafa.

Posted by Anthony Beckman 08/16/2008 at 12:31 AM

I admire the way Rafa is being so formal about not referring to himself as #1 yet. He is taking it *so* seriously because it is so *well deserved.* Roger is lucky to have had this talented guy be the one who worked so hard to catch up to him after all this time...

(O.K. I had one drink.)

Posted by aca 08/16/2008 at 12:35 AM

GO, Novak !!
Yes, indeed. There is nothing wrong with that.
I like those kind of people.They are reliable and honest.

Posted by Al 08/16/2008 at 01:31 AM

I really was not impressed with your ESPN post. Glad you changed your viewpont.

Posted by Al 08/16/2008 at 01:32 AM

I really was not impressed with your ESPN post. Glad you changed your viewpoint.

Posted by Jenna 08/16/2008 at 01:35 AM

Blake/Gonzalez controversy...

There is no question that the ball DID HIT Gonzalez's racket. Anyone who sees it differently must be blind, the ball clearly changes directions mid-flight. Unless it's the magic bullet, that's not possible unless it comes in contact with something. This is not what is being disputed.

The question is whether or not Gonzalez absolutely felt it. Most anyone who plays tennis will know that a player would feel even a slight tic on the racket. I've never played anything close to high-level tennis and I can't imagine not feeling even the SLIGHTEST contact with the ball. Was it Gonzalez's job to call it? YES! The chair umpire absolutely cannot call something that they are unsure about. Perhaps he should have seen it, but if he didn't he must give to point to Gonzalez. Ergo, it was Gonzalez's job as a fair competitor to give James Blake the point.

The other question is, how should have Blake reacted? In the moment he appeared angry, but he came out hard against Gonzo in his presser. People here are mistaking his complaint with an excuse for losing. He DID NOT blame the loss on the call. What he DID do was call out Gonzo's subtle cheating. This is not like Nadal getting over the umpire's incorrect call, because even though Blake clearly did not get over it well enough to win the match, he was not blaming the result on anyone.

A chair ump is also very different than your fellow competitor. James is rightfully angry that his faith in Gonzalez and the honesty of opponents has been shaken. A misstep by a chair ump is one thing, a blatant act of cheating is quite another. Blake came out hard and he should probably remain quiet about it now, but he was justified in his anger.

Posted by trinity 08/16/2008 at 01:49 AM

This behavior comes as not surprise. Gonzalez has always been a bad sportsman. I've seen his poor sportsmanship in action before. For those of you who play tennis on a local level you know how important it is to depend on your opponent to do the right thing in calling your shots. That is part of the game. We may not have a umpire but we do have our integrity to do the right thing by our opponent.

Gonzalez had the final word and could have used this opportunity to do the right thing and prove that he does have some form of integrity. But he does the exact opposite.

1. Gonzalez knew the ball hit his racket
2 James was upset because they gave his point to Gonzalez
3. If Gonzalez was innocent he would have spoke up instead of pulling a Henin Roland Garros.

There is a saying that you cannot have a million dollars without that final penny. Well if you take that point away from Gonzalez the match is not won because he does not have enough points.

Gonzalez has caused the most controversial episode at the 2008 Olympics by simply being his self. To think that I use to like Gonzalez.

Posted by Anthony Beckman 08/16/2008 at 01:59 AM

I'm not blind and I saw over multiple angles of the shot that each are indeterminate regarding whether or not that ball actually hit the racket. It is possible, but not clear, that the ball changes direction, too.

Another possibility - one that is also supported by careful examining of the (indeterminate) footage of the shot, again - is that it might have touched the racket but not hard enough that G. could sense anything more than the ball wizzing by his head as he snapped it out of the way.

I, for one here, never said Blake used it as an excuse for his losing the match. I said it will always seem like that's what it means if he says it. Would you say it? (And for the same reason that Fed. probably shouldn't have said anything about the lighting at Wimby at his interview, in case it seemed like excuse-making in the worst reading.)

Blake had a legitimate complaint as it happened (though, he can be mistaken here, too) and he verbally appealed to the ump accordingly. His response was indeterminate. Umps miss things they should have caught all the time, unfortunately, which doesn't mean a change in policy. Are players supposed to volunteer when they suspect their serve just may have been barely out, too? Where's the B&W application of your honor system in that scenario?

Posted by Blake 08/16/2008 at 02:04 AM

Can anyone tell me where I can view the Nadal-Djokovic match? I missed it because in Australia, they don't show tennis for crap - at least olympic tennis :(

And nbcolympics.com is for Americans only guys!!

Posted by Anthony Beckman 08/16/2008 at 02:04 AM

Incidentally, my first response when I saw the game unfold was to regret that Blake hadn't received sufficient review of his complaint and then to feel sorry that Gonzo might have any stain on his win.

Posted by Anthony Beckman 08/16/2008 at 02:09 AM

Trinity, that's just ridiculous! The most controversial episode? Compared to under-aged gymnasts, murdered relatives of coaches, bicyclists doping, etc.? Are you some shill or something??

Posted by rafafan 08/16/2008 at 02:12 AM

I think Gonzo is going to pay dearly in the final.

Posted by Jenna 08/16/2008 at 02:22 AM

While I understand the argument about Gonzo maybe not feeling it on one hand, I don't understand how anyone could come to the conclusion that it didn't touch his racket. We can agree to disagree I suppose, but watching the angle behind Gonzo, I CLEARLY see the ball hitting.

The point about the honor system is untrue, though. The calling of the lines is very different. The person with the best view of that is clearly the lines judge, and the ump may sometimes even have a better view than the player. In this situation Gonzo could FEEL whether or not the call was correct. I just think they're different.

And Blake's discussion of it in the interview room may appear to be an excuse to some just as Roger's darkness comment was, but I firmly believe that he would have said the same thing if he had won. Maybe not has harshly, but the bottom line is that he was disappointed in Gonzo's sportsmanship.

It's just a rough situation, really.

Posted by wimby moon 08/16/2008 at 02:27 AM

JC and Anthony Beckham and others, after looking at the slow motion replay multiple times, I agree with you all that the ball did not touch Gonzalez' racket and did not change direction. Blake is showing terrible lack of sportsmanship with his overwrought, self-righteous indignation. Going so far as to compare himself favorably in character to Gonzo is a new low. "If I'd done that, I wouldn't have completed the match as my father would have pulled me off the court" (or something close to that).

Seems like those who favor Blake are just seeing what they want to see.

Even if Gonzalez had been guilty (which he wasn't) that would have been minor compared to Blake's character assassination when he knows full well he could be wrong and was probably wanting desperately to see the ball touch the racket.

Posted by rgrace 08/16/2008 at 03:13 AM

Why, oh why, couldn't Rafa and Djoko played in the final? Man, I love Roger, but youth will always be served in tennis ("served," get it?) and it's great to see Rafa keep his roll going and get to the Olympic GOLD MEDAL match! How exciting! And Roger gets to go for it in doubles? Talk about poetic justice! I like both Djoko and Rafa and find Djoko's game very interesting to watch - he is such a power baseliner. And he looks like a computerized version of a Tennis Player - if a computer could design one, he's what one would look like. And Rafa is nothing but soul and fire. He is the bee's knees. So fabulous. Life is good. We have some very good years ahead of us with these wonderful Europeans.

Posted by Mrs Tennis 08/16/2008 at 03:20 AM

Was Rafa's semi on TV at all????? Will it be rebroadcast by any chance, anybody know? Can't even find a video on internet. Help!

Posted by Monica 08/16/2008 at 04:00 AM

Steve, I usually find myself agreeing with you, but not on this point. Whatever the Olympics propoganda maintains, in reality the games fan the flames of ethnocentrism. Why was Djokovic in tears when he lost? Because he wanted so badly to do his beloved Serbia proud? Well, athletes from Serbia could win every gold medal for as long as the Olympics are played and that still won't change the attrocities Serbia has committed in the Balkans. The whole idea of any country's "honor" resting on how well some of its citizens play games is outrageous. Sports are just sports and they reveal nothing more than personal merit at something that is ultimately trivial and of no real import--not when compared to how a country treats its own citizens and the neighboring ones.

Posted by Monica 08/16/2008 at 04:01 AM

Steve, I usually find myself agreeing with you, but not on this point. Whatever the Olympics propoganda maintains, in reality the games fan the flames of ethnocentrism. Why was Djokovic in tears when he lost? Because he wanted so badly to do his beloved Serbia proud? Well, athletes from Serbia could win every gold medal for as long as the Olympics are played and that still won't change the attrocities Serbia has committed in the Balkans. The whole idea of any country's "honor" resting on how well some of its citizens play games is outrageous. Sports are just sports and they reveal nothing more than personal merit at something that is ultimately trivial and of no real import--not when compared to how a country respects the rights of its own citizens as well as the rights of its neighbors.

Posted by Monica 08/16/2008 at 04:03 AM

Sorry for the unintended double post.

Posted by Di 08/16/2008 at 06:02 AM

Blake wanted an excusse and he got one. And gamesmanship is Blake's not Gonzo's. Blake blew this situation out of it's proportions. You to take it like a man! and show that you are stronger in court, but Blake took easier way- complaining and accusing Gonzo for being a cheater - That is just low!!!

Posted by George 08/16/2008 at 06:40 AM

This situation is similar to a point where the opponent knows the ball was in but says nothing and the point is awarded to him. How many things like this has McEnroe done or any other person for that matter. And people still praise McEnroe. Get over it, Blake. It is one point, and the Gonzo will do anything to win. Just like you Blake.

Posted by Rustu 08/16/2008 at 07:41 AM

Regarding Blake/Gonzo match...and Yes, I saw the match(and many of the subsequent replays):

The ball hit the racket, no it didn't hit the racket; Gonzo felt it, no he didn't feel it; the umpire saw it, no he didn't see it;
Gonzo speaks up, no Gonzo staying quiet; Blake getts angry, no Blake's not angry; Blake giving his opinion of what happened, no Blake whinning like a baby; Gonzo giving his opinion of what happened, no Gonzo making excuses for his bad sportsmanship...

We all have our opinion as to what actually happened, and how we believe both Blake and Gonzo reacted and handled the call. It seems to me that others are making more of a big deal of this whole situation than the actual players involved are. GIVE IT A REST AND MOVE ON!!!

Posted by Rustu 08/16/2008 at 07:43 AM

By the way...GO RAFA!!!

Posted by Or 08/16/2008 at 07:56 AM

Oh, dear.

Posted by Peter 08/16/2008 at 11:39 AM

@Monica

"... and that still won't change the attrocities Serbia has committed in the Balkans."

Would it change atrocities that others have committed in the Balkans (to Serbian)? Or there were no such atrocities just because you didn't hear of them on CNN/BBC/ABC/FOX/... Please take your political crap somewhere else, this is just a tennis forum.

Posted by nsidhan 08/16/2008 at 12:12 PM

There are so many instances in tennis when a linesman makes a wrong call against you and your opponent knows it was wrong but doesn't concede the point. Just recently I was watching the Sampras-Federer match at Wimbledon and Federer played a volley that clearly hit the sideline...chalk flew up...Sampras was standing right next to it and the linesman and the umpire called it wide. Fed half heartedly argued with the umpire and lost the point. Does that make Sampras a bad sportsman? Pete Sampras is NOT a bad sportsman. The whole world knows that!!! How does that compare with what happened during this match? In both cases your opponent knew they didn't deserve the point. Um...well Gonzo said he wasn't 100% sure, but I think he was.

If I was playing someone in a deciding set and my opponent swore at me on a mistake that I made when I accidentally hit the ball at his head which happens in tennis all the time...then under those circumstances...even I wouldn't concede the point. I would let the umpire decide. Payback is a b***h!

Posted by LOIS 08/16/2008 at 12:12 PM

RE: RAFEAL NADAL PARERA and THE FED,
First of all today I watch my other favorite player THE FED win his GOLD(I did not know what time he would play,so again I had 2hrs of sleep) I am as HAPPY as a lark. This should give him plenty of CONFIDENCE for the USO,I am hoping to see another THRILLA IN MANILLA between him and RAFA. I could not stand to see him playing with such DOUBT and UNASSURANCE in the GOD given abilities he possess. THE FED and RAFA not only bring out the BEST in ea. other but also the most IMPOSSIBLE SHOT MAKING I HAVE EVER HAD THE PRIVLEDGE OF WATCHING. one of the commentators said something to the affect that "when he was at his best",he never stopped being the BEST-he just started believing the nonsense that people were saying. Well he's BACK,THANK GOD. My dr. has scheduled multiple test for me to have the week of the OPEN,well I am thinking of all my excusses right now-I THINK HE MAY HAVE LOST HIS MIND! I'm not missing one minute of the GAMES. With THE FED back in the hunt-the LIVER will have to wait,I'm so HAPPY I am GIDDY(his serve was on,he's working on his shot making and seems to have his CONFIDENCE BACK)I can't wait! As far as RAFA'S game with DJOKE,he lost the 2nd set terribly but when he came out for the 3rd set you could see his eyes had changed-he had his GAME FACE ON. I LOVE this YOUNG GUN because of his WILL TO WIN,DETERMINATION,SENSE OF FAIR PLAY AND RELENTLESSNESS. The USO should be as good I hope as the WIMBLEDON FIGHT,and I am HOPING and PRAYING for a REMATCH between the 2 BEST PLAYERS IN THE WORLD. VAMOS RAFA and RIGHT-ON FED(we got our GOLD thro ANY MEANS NECESSARY! Don't like the CAPS don't read my BLOG-everyone has thier own STYLE. STAY WELL and SAFE PLEASE.

Posted by bobby 08/16/2008 at 12:20 PM

How sad that writers like Bodo,Wartheim and Tignor does not find tennis worth for olympics while allmost all players would literally die to win laurels and medals for their country.It is great to see tennis players sweating their heart out to win at olympics.Look how heartbroken was Djokovic after he lost semi and how joyfull was Gonzales after his semi win,how determined was Nadal to win,and how equally determined Federer regrouped to win gold in doubles.Players really proved that olympics belong to poor as well as rich and both has the right to bring fame to their country.Being rich or being tennis players does not effect them when they are fighting for their country.And tennis as a tough and beautiful sport belongs to olympics.

Posted by zola 08/16/2008 at 12:48 PM

Congratulatios to Fed/ Stan for the Olympic Gold
and to Djoko for the Bronze
the Brynas,
Johansson/Aspleen,
Willimas sisters, Safina...

It is great to see how happy all these players are.

Also great effort by Blake and the LLodra/Clement team.

US OPen is in one week and the big 3 plus many other players are still here, fighting their heart and soul. Thanks to them all for making the Olympic very special with their efforts.

Tennis does belong to the Olympics
( but maybe a format change can help!)

Posted by 08/16/2008 at 03:05 PM

Voks,

Rafa is wearing the champion's mantle well. And he is a warrior. Djoko could do the same (be a champion) but he might be in too much haste for it; arrogance and over-confidence might have given him difficulties when he loses. Experience and adjustments will help him grow into and eventually be a comfortable champion and a better warrior.

Posted by luxsword ex lulu 08/16/2008 at 03:18 PM

Just shows we get more interested in things we (can) actually watch, hey. Lucky Steve found some interest in olympic tennis if he's comenting it. ;-)

About the gonzo racket thingy incident, I can't stand when one point is supposed to be a turning point and decide on the winner. You don't win a point with only one, right ? Let Blake lose his time/momentum/focus on it if he wants to, but I don't care about it. What's done is done. There always are points wrongly ruled or which leave a question mark. My take is, if you can only win by one point, then your opponent deserves the victory just as much. Just win with a good margin, it makes post-match conference and analysis much more enjoyable. Ah well... lol

Posted by LOIS 08/16/2008 at 03:40 PM

MRS. TENNIS,
I just went thro my favorites to find the RAFA and DJOKE VIDEO
for you,it is a trip to get but here goes(you can still get GAMES 2 & 3):
Go to nbcbolympics.com
You must INSTALL-SILVERLIGHT
THEN FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS
YOU MUST RESTART YOUR BROWSER
WISH YOU LUCK,ENJOY
STAY WELL and SAFE PLEASE

Posted by LOIS 08/16/2008 at 03:47 PM

MRS.TENNIS-P.S.
Don't forget to save it so after closing your BROWER you can go back to it. It was WONDERFUL-3rd GAME.

Posted by Anthony Beckman 08/16/2008 at 04:28 PM

Listeneing to the Jimmy Arias interview on NBC Olympic coverage regarding the Blake-Gonzo incident makes me embarassed to be American today. Talk about a bunch of overly-patriotic motivated, intellectually dishonest crap! The nerve of Jimmy to suggest he KNOWS that GONZO felt it hit his racket, what unbelievable artrogance!

I used to be a fan of this marvelous athlete, Blake. Now there will always be a whining aura about this enabled brat. Thanks, NBC, for showing the ugly seams of sports journalism, too.

Posted by Lleytsie 08/16/2008 at 04:57 PM

peteee

just a typo at the bottom neat the picture (sourt)

change that

as always - lovely .... and wonderfully insightful

Posted by zolarafa 08/16/2008 at 05:15 PM

headless at 3:05

***arrogance and over-confidence might have given him difficulties when he loses.***

who are you talking about? Rafa? Then you need to watch more of his tennis and read more of his interviews.

Posted by wimby moon 08/16/2008 at 06:16 PM

"Listeneing to the Jimmy Arias interview on NBC Olympic coverage regarding the Blake-Gonzo incident makes me embarassed to be American today. Talk about a bunch of overly-patriotic motivated, intellectually dishonest crap! The nerve of Jimmy to suggest he KNOWS that GONZO felt it hit his racket, what unbelievable artrogance!

I used to be a fan of this marvelous athlete, Blake. Now there will always be a whining aura about this enabled brat. Thanks, NBC, for showing the ugly seams of sports journalism, too."

Anthony, I agree with you 100% there. First Blake, now Arias and McKay. Totally biased talk, totally lacking in sportsmanship or decency.

Posted by LOIS 08/16/2008 at 09:19 PM

HI FELLOW TENNIS LOVERS,
Just wanted to share some good and funny things with all of you,I
have been a member of the USTA since about 1998-when as MARY CARILLO coined the phrase"BIG BABE TENNIS". Well,I just recieved my new issue of TENNIS MAGAZINE and this is the best issue I have ever recieved,I read it from front to back. In there are more than a couple of really GREAT ARTICLES:
#1-THE TENNIS TEN(very funny 1rst one,you all know I love THE FED),States" THE TOP 3 PLAYERS IN MEN'S TENNIS-RODGER FEDERER,
RAFEAL NADAL and NOVAK DJOKOVIC-are elected to the ATP Players Coucil. DJOKOVIC'S,main concern: more off season,NADAL'S,main con-
cern: more tournaments in EUROPE,FEDERER'S main concern: less NADAL(LOL).
#2-There is a very,very,HOT picture of THE FED(ROLEX)
,I have never seen him so VERY HANDSOME.I think if I was closer to his age I would have to give his girl a real run for her MONEY.
#3-An article called,CHATTER BOXES,I remember an article in
CONCRETE ELBOW basicly about the same subject(1)Too Many Talking Heads,ENBERG,CARILLO,FERNANDEZ,SHRIVER and especially J-MAC(not commentmenting on the games,just things that everyone either sees,if not BLIND or hears ,if not DEATH.(2) Too Much Talking,ie-
1 more time about ANA and her POOL(they may loose it,LOL).Written by J Martin. Maybe they all need to also read CONCRETE ELBOW.
#4-THE BEST OF THE BEST-ONE FOR THE AGES(WIMBLEDON)BY STEPHEN TIGNOR. This is the BEST ARTICLE I have read in a long time,I throughly ENJOYED it. He refered to it as THE GREATEST MATCH OF ALL TIMES,I laughed so hard I could not stop. Even saying,the SUBLIME SWISS(because THE FED does float around)vs the SAVAGE SPANIARD(because RAFA is THE BRAWLER and THE BEAST-no-one wants to have to play him and I can imagine them CRINGING when seeing him in thier section)did not OFFEND me and he is my HEART because the whole article was so FUNNY and WELL WRITTEN I enjoyed every word and even laughed with my HUSBAND(which I am turning into an avid TENNIS FAN. If you can find this issue PLEASE do yourself a favor and get it,you will not REGRET IT! P.S. Also has pictures of some new FUTURE PROSPECTS that look real INTERESTING.
STAY WELL and SAFE PLEASE.

Posted by LOIS 08/16/2008 at 09:33 PM

P.S. TO ALL MY PALS,
I can't even CHEAT to see the SCORE early,I wish I could get a BREAK. This is my 3rd night up with only about 6 hrs SLEEP. I may
need the RESCUE SQUAD after seeing RAFA WIN HIS GOLD. HELP!send
TOOTHPICKS.STAY WELL and SAFE PLEASE!

Posted by sonya (bite the gold baby, bite) 08/16/2008 at 10:23 PM

Lois, you're just so funny and adorable. STAY WELL and SAFE PLEASE YOU TOO!!!!

Posted by Carlos 08/17/2008 at 02:17 AM

what is the problem with you guys, do you think if the umpire gave the point to Jams, he was going to win? hahaha. well If Americans think that point was going to give the victory to blake...big mistake. also I'd to say this journalism is crap.

Posted by Andres 08/17/2008 at 02:22 AM

this message is for the person who wrote this stupid article...why you don't talk about the spirit of good game. when Gonzalez hit the body of Blake, he said sorry, but you heroe with a "very good spirit olympics" said something stupid to Gonzalez, if you don't believe just, repeat that scene. if you want to be professional you have to write in a neutral way because that is the spirit of the article!

Posted by bob 08/17/2008 at 02:36 AM

none of you know anything about tennis

Posted by Argiedude 08/17/2008 at 02:44 AM

Gonzalez isn't one of my favorites but in my opinion he doesn't have the obligation of say anything (if he does, better) but that's why tennis has umpires, to make the calls. What's the difference beetwen what happened in Gonzo-Blake match and when a guy sees that a ball is good or bad but the lineman calls it wrong in his favour? Do we ussually see players changing the lineman's call in benefit of their oponents? no we don't 'cause that's the umpire job. Besides I'm sure that if Blake'd had been in Gonzalez position he would have done exactly what Fernando did.

One more thing: Writers of this site seem to have a great time pointing out when players of other nationalytis (not americans) choke but they never say anything when someone from the USA does it (at least not with the same tone of mockery). Why don't you? when the USA has one of the biggest chokers of all times in James Blake?

Posted by Serpiko 08/17/2008 at 05:44 AM

@ Monica
Peter is right. What's your problem? You have no idea about anything that happened in former Yugoslavia. Don't be so limited girl and watch tennis!

Posted by Shannon 08/17/2008 at 09:29 AM

I don't know what you were watching, Steve, but on the nbc livestream they replayed it several times and it never looked certain to me that the ball hit Gonzalez's racquet. I had the sound off and couldn't hear what Blake was complaining about, but watching it all I could see was that Gonzalez seemed to be flinching away from the ball. Granted I was watching on a computer so it wasn't the best view but still. I had no idea what was thought to have happened until later, despite the replays.

No matter what happened, the fact remains that James Blake blew three match points before that moment, then threw a fit after it. It wasn't even a particularly important point, just the first point on Gonzalez's serve. Not a break point, not a game point. Whether Gonzalez felt it or not, it was Blake's responsibility as a player to shake it off and get on with it. Bad calls and unfair calls happen all the time and they have to be forgotten if one wants to win. He couldn't. But it's unsurprising, as Blake has never been able to get it done in the big moments.

In his press conference he just came off as sanctimonious. And honestly, he has no business getting on a high horse about gamesmanship and not playing fair. Not when he whined so much about the rules of the ridiculous round robin that Etienne de Villiers stepped in to try to change them in his favor, or when he's got that drunken pack of idiots that he calls his friends heckling his opponents and making nuisances of themselves while he smiles and talks about how great they are.

Suck it up, James, you lost. And it's no one's fault but your own.

Posted by Monica 08/17/2008 at 01:21 PM

Peter, I was offline yesterday (I had a kayaking trip scheduled with friends) so that's why I'm responding to your message only now. We could argue about whose politics are 'crap' but I would agree this is not the place for it. And that's the problem with the Olympics. They mix politics with sports and the two should remain firmly separate.

An athlete represents only him or herself not a whole country. It would be unreasonable and unfair for any athlete or a group of athletes, for that matter, to bear responsibility for the policies and reputations of their countries. By the same token, a whole country cannot pat themselves on the back for the purely athletic achievements of a few citizens.

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