Concrete Elbow by Steve Tignor - The Week in Questions
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The Week in Questions 10/29/2009 - 2:45 PM

Woz Your reaction to the opening days of Doha may have depended on whether the camera was focused on the court, or whether it was panning the stands. Sparse and muffled crowds at important tournaments, particularly the early rounds of important tournaments, has been a theme of fall tennis for many years. But I don’t want to belabor that fact in Doha, because the drama of the matches so far this week hasn't been hurt by the lack of energy in the audiences. And this would have been true even if the bleachers had been filled with crickets (though that might have been disturbing to the players). But when Venus and Serena Williams play to a third-set tiebreaker at a season-ending championship in front of a few dozen scattered humans, you know that the event isn’t living up to its potential.

That’s a topic for another week (next week, perhaps). For the moment, I’ll reserve my questions and answers for the matches themselves. If they haven’t been beautiful to watch, they have certainly lived to their dramatic potential.

  1. What did we learn from Venus-Serena XXII?

It’s safe to say that never have there been so few witnesses to a match between the Williams sisters. And while it won’t be remembered for the quality of its play—though Venus and Serena rose to the occasion late in the third set—it was a worthy addition to the Williams canon. What I noticed most, and it was something I hadn’t seen in a while, was Serena’s ambivalence. She lost the first set and started the second by belting a couple of balls as hard as she could. It looked like she might be on the verge of cashing it in mentally, which must be a temptation when your sister could use a win to help her chances of defending a title. But fortunately or not for Serena, those belted balls happened to go in. She won that game and recovered her composure from there. But there was still hesitation and unhappiness in Serena’s demeanor.

When we talk about the Williamses’ matches, we usually talk about how hard it must be to have to beat your sister. I'd guess that it’s more complicated, and that those complications lead to wild swings in the quality of the tennis from each woman. You love your sister, you want the best for your sister, but when you get out on the court you also want to beat your sister. Subconsciously, you may even want to beat her more than anyone else in the world, the way siblings often do. Through the third set of yesterday’s match, I felt like I could see Serena negotiating those emotions. She played well and kept her emotions in check all the way to 5-4. But when she served for it, she fell apart and played her worst game of the match. She gave Venus chances and then used her serve to take them back. At the end, she let her relief and happiness out after a crucial backhand winner. Serena had beaten her sister, and her own tangle of conflicting feelings. Best of all, it was over.

  1. Is Caroline Wozniacki the future?

She’s young, she’s blonde, she wears Stella McCartney, she just reached her first Grand Slam final and cracked the Top 5, and she may or may not have hooked up with Fernando Verdasco already. What is the ceiling for the so-far unassuming Wozniacki? Is she due for a serious reality check when Justine and Kim come back full time next year?

Watching her slog through two long, winding and surprising matches in Doha—she snuck through in three against Azarenka after losing the first set 6-1, then fought off cramps that had dropped to the court to beat Zvonareva—I’ve been struck by a few things:

Wozniacki’s first serve looks stronger, especially the wide one. Unlike many of her peers, she shows you when she’s enjoying it out there—i.e., she smiles. She’s got great feel on her crosscourt forehand. She’s comfortable settling into a pocket well behind the baseline, but doesn’t move forward or take advantage of winning situations instinctively. She reminds me at times of Martina Hingis, another eastern European transplanted to Western Europe, without the cockiness or the creativity. Like Andy Murray, she gives her opponents room either to hang themselves or to find their games; as we’ve seen so far with Murray, that hasn’t been a recipe for winning majors. More important for fans, though, Wozniacki is a gamer, maybe even to a fault. She played her first match hobbled by a hamstring injury. In her second match, serving for it at 5-4 in the third, she looked finished when leg cramps had her writhing on the court. She got up, served with a tear coming down her face, lost a 31-stroke rally, and still won the game and the match.

Wozniacki will struggle against the more explosive Justine, Kim, Venus, and Serena, but she has the persistence and consistency to beat everyone else on a regular basis—there’s plenty of room for a non-head case in the WTA. She doesn’t have the edge or self-regard of a diva who can bring new fans to the game. But that should only make her more appealing to those of us who watch every day. We know we’ll get her best.

  1. Or is Victoria Azarenka the future?

Thinking about the up and downs of Azarenka’s season, the early peaks and later plateaus, the first thing that comes to mind is that the length of the schedule makes it tough for anyone to be good all year—there are just so many different phases, places and surfaces to negotiate. The second thing is that it’s tough for Victoria Azarenka in particular to be good all year. She can open up the court and put a rally in the palm of her hand, but just when you think she’s ready to finish it, the ball may fly haphazardly off her strings for no discernible reason. If you could put Azarenka together with Wozniacki, you’d have the next No. 1. Azarenka can hit through the court, but she doesn’t have the feel of her fellow up and comer. And while she’s fiercer and angrier than Wozniacki, the Dane may be tougher mentally—hanging in there is pretty much what she does for a living.

When the two of them played this week, I mentioned to a colleague that I thought Azarenka was doing a good job of controlling of those fierce emotions, which can get the better of her. Right at that moment, she took a ball and drilled into the stands, incurring a warning for ball abuse. A couple minutes later, she broke her racquet on the court, incurring a point penalty that put her down 5-6 in the third set. On the changeover, she looked at the chair umpire, picked up her racquet, and began slamming it into the court, as if to say, “You want to see racquet abuse, I’ll give you racquet abuse.”

Azarenka should have more upside than Wozniacki; she can make more happen on the court. But sometimes her hands and strings turn to stone—the ball kerrangs off her frame. And while Azarenka’s intensity drives her, it also doubles back and undermines her. Against Wozniacki, she stayed calm and let her mistakes go, until she just couldn’t let them go anymore—the anger is always there. As fans, when Azarenka goes out on court, we know we’ll get her best. The question is whether her best may be too much.

4. Is the No. 1 ranking cursed?

The two women who have spent the most time there in 2009 are Dinara Safina and Jelena Jankovic. Look where they are now. Safina has already staggered out of Doha, injured in part because she wanted to stay No. 1, while Jankovic showed up with less than her best after a long season trying to defend the points that got her to No. 1 in the first place. No wonder the current No. 1, Serena Williams, has never seemed all that interested in staying up there. It doesn’t seem to do good things for you or your game. 

In theory, we shouldn’t have these problems next year. Henin and Clijsters will be back, and Serena will start the season in the top spot. Still, the WTA needs to examine its system and how it weights events. While you can’t control Serena’s results in smaller tournaments—it would be nice if she had won at least one tour event this year—but it’s not like she only plays the majors. Right now, being No. 1 means something on the men’s side, but not on the women’s, at least not anything good. Holding that spot should mean, at the most basic level, that you’ve played the best at the biggest events. It shouldn’t mean that you’ve been the best at supporting the tour. At the very least, it shouldn’t be a cruel joke on its holder.

  1. Aa What do you think of Andre now?

Let’s leave Doha for more scandalous places. You know by now that Andre Agassi has admitted doing crystal meth, and that his dad is nuts (the first item is news, the second not so much). These are my reactions to Agassi’s admissions:

—We will likely never hear another player excuse a positive drug test by saying he accidentally drank from someone else’s glass (listening, Mariano Puerta?). If a player says this, I hope no one believes him.

—Guns, crystal meth, mullets. Who says tennis is a country club sport? Agassi’s story is pure red-state America.

—He secretly hated tennis. I wasn't driven into the game by a maniacal parent, but I’ve played just enough to know that hating tennis isn't all that uncommon. By the time I was done with the sport after college, I couldn’t bear even to look at my racquet. I imagine a burger flipper at McDonald's feels the same way about his spatula at the end of the week. 

Now I go to Indian Wells every year and watch the pros practice under the bright desert sun in the morning. What could be a better line of work, an innocent observer might ask. For me, though, when I see them get out there, get the feet moving, get up on their toes, get the racquet back early, try to get the blood and sweat flowing, hit their three or four shots over and over and over (and over), I feel pain. The moral of Andre? This sport can give you a lot, but it's work, often unhappy work, and it can make you do crazy things from time to time.


 
74
Comments
 

Posted by Master Ace 10/29/2009 at 03:23 PM

" If you could put Azarenka together with Wozniacki, you’d have the next No. 1."

Steve,
Agree completely as Victoria has the explosive game while Caroline has court awareness and mental strength. I think Caroline and Victoria are the futures of the WTA. I know that the conversation was probably had with Nicole and Ana too but I actually do believe Victoria and Caroline are the future of the WTA when the Belgians and the Williams Sisters officially retire.

Posted by Master Ace 10/29/2009 at 03:24 PM

1. Nothing
2. Yes
3. Yes
4. No
5. No idea.

Posted by Charles 10/29/2009 at 03:55 PM

I think the comparison of Wozniacki to Hingis is astute. Unfortunately, I think that in the long run, Woz (like Hingis) won't be able to handle the firepower and will fade from the top

Posted by michele 10/29/2009 at 03:56 PM

We will likely never hear a player excuse a positive drug test by saying he accidentally drank from someone else’s glass. If a player says this, I hope no one believes him.

But hearing he got it by kissing a girl in a club, now that's believable!

Posted by anti-woz 10/29/2009 at 04:14 PM

Woz has an ugly pusher game. This moonballer won't last even if she has the PR machine of the US and Europe.

Posted by Gerry 10/29/2009 at 04:15 PM

I, too, understand why Agassi might have used methamphetamines. Still, right or wrong, what he did was and is illegal and the prisons are filled with plenty of poorer and less connected people who had even "better" reasons to use meth. I personally support decriminalization of drug use--I think that our current system just leads to more criminal activity, but if you don't agree with decrimininalization, it's pretty hypocritical to give Agassi a pass because he had stressors at the time. There are lots of people who would love the unhappy work of practicing at Indian Wells in the morning--some of them are playing Futures in Uzbekistan or somewhere.

Posted by authoress 10/29/2009 at 04:23 PM

I think everyone is trying to jump on Wozniacki's band wagon. Perhaps everyone is desperately looking for someone to ride for a while. With Sharapova settling in the top 20, people are looking for something to talk about. The fact of the matter is the Williams, Clijsters, and Henin are the real deal and they have shown there are consistently the ones to beat...mainly Serena. People are now hipped to Sharapova's one dimensional style of play and her weaknesses were exposed. The top players who fell out of the top spot due to injury or retirement are capable of getting back to the top because of their true talent. Let's see if Wozniacki will actually do something next year. Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic are proven head cases among the ranks of Anna Chakvetadze and others. Vera cannot hold it together consistently and even Kuzzy wobbles more than a top player of her talent should. At the end of the day, Dementieva has proven she doesn't have what it takes when it really matters. Bring on 2010. With the Americans vs the Belgians. Everyone else is just second tier.

Posted by Philip 10/29/2009 at 04:23 PM

I don't feel at all sympathetic for Andre and I never cared for how his supposedly incredible sportsmanship and 'zen-like' approach to the game suddenly abandoned him when things were not going his way on the court. And the craziness of the tour isn't a good excuse for doing stupid, crazy things. He used drugs because his ranking fell? He had an injury? He was a millionaire many times over by then. Enough said.

Posted by beth 10/29/2009 at 04:38 PM

I was never a huge Agassi fan during his time at the top. And I am not going to jump on his bandwagon now - nor am I going to vilify him for his failings . Whatever the history , I do think he has made a remarkable turn around in his life and become a man of substance that is to be admired for his work with the children of Las Vegas.

But my concern is this - now that it has come to light that he did indeed lie to the powers that be - is there going to be a backlash against present day players ?
Most particularly - and pertinently - one of my favorites , Gasquet.
Regardless if you believe his kissing story or not - the fact remains that for less than 5 grains of salt worth of cocaine , Gasquet served a 3 month suspension from the tour, missing 2 of the biggest tournaments of the year . And , in the next weeks , a hearing is underway to determine if that suspension was sufficient. The prosecution is appealing his hearing and he could still be suspended for up to 2 years , if the original verdict is overturned.
I just hope that the powers that be will not see fit to make Gasquet an example that "yes, we really are in control of this doping thing" and let the time served for such a small violation - however, it got into his system - be sufficient. Let the young man get on with his life and move forward .

Posted by HybridStrings 10/29/2009 at 04:42 PM

We all judge people for what they have done. I think people focus too much on whatever offense/mistake that has been commited. I would rather speak of what Andre has learned from his mistakes and became a better person - turning his tennis game around as well as his charity work. However, I believe that he should be penalised for his lie to the ATP. We know why he did it. Most peopel would have acted the same way in that situation. Without tennis, he might not have been the same person as he has become. Andre's confession will also bring up whether kissing a girl will make you test positive for cocaine.

As for women's tennis, I will take Justine, Kim and the Williams over any of the "new" girls any day.

Posted by Nick 10/29/2009 at 05:07 PM

Agassi's lying about the whole thing had only one motive: to protect the Endorsement Gravy Train's continued journey's into his bank account. If he actually bought the Meth, we're talking about a felony. If the ATP knew it and buried it, it meant Agassi continued to reap untold millions in endorsements over the next 9 years of his career without risking his sponsors dropping him. If nothing else, it'll make sponsors today take a longer look at who they decide to enrich, given that the ATP is willing to help hide behavior companies might not want to support financially. And speaking of finances, how utterly appropriate for a Spotlight Hungry Soul like Agassi to make such an admission in a forthcoming book, where he stands to gain financially from the revelations. Titillating the public with excerpts like these so more will rush and plunk down their $$$ to read this tabloid level stuff. It's like he's acting as his own informant on the life he's lived and cashing in on it just as any tabloid informer hopes to do.

The more serious questions need to be answered by the ATP. They knew what he was doing via his test result, and they did nothing but wait for him to give them a written reason to bury the whole thing. I'm wondering if his life long "friend" Perry Rogers, who was an ATP Board Member (although I'm not clear he was at the time this happened) had anything to do with the ATP's decision to look the other way. What do you think Gasquet thinks about the Andre confession, having to endure suspension for cocaine use? So do the consequences for drug tests apply to some players but not all? If so, which players are exempted, and why? Moreover, how many OTHER drug test results did the ATP look away from then, or even now? Were there other players in Agassi's day who failed drug tests and were fined, suspended or expelled by the ATP? If so, why? And aside from the questions, this makes groups like the ATP look ridiculous when they proselytize how they support random testing to preserve the game's integrity. The next statement they make in that regard will get them laughed out of the room.

Posted by Corrie 10/29/2009 at 05:16 PM

I agree, the real tier 1 is the Williams' and the Belgians, as it was before Justine and Kim "retired". Or maybe I should say, Serena and the Belgians - outside of Wimbledon Venus doesn't look too good. But everyone else is definitely tier 2, either head cases or one dimmensional or a retriever like Caroline. Kuzzy is perhaps the exception, the one who could win more Slams.

Much as I like Agassi now he's retired and no longer shows his temper and bad loser aspects, it's totally unjust that a multi millionaire avoids all penalties, especially jail, because of his celbrity. Meanwhile, some poor, unemployed non famous battler, who suffers real stress in the world, not the type privileged athletes have, suffers the full force of the law.

Posted by Samantha Elin 10/29/2009 at 05:17 PM

To anti Woz, you are nothing more than a Caro hater. Why don't you try giving this girl some credit. She could barely walk and played like a true champion. Caro is an outstanding player and the current USO finalish. She hasn't lost one match at the YEC in spite of being injured. Go away Caro hater!

Posted by Mr. X 10/29/2009 at 06:03 PM

Ok, let's see:
1- Didnt watch, but i understand it wasnt so special.
2- Oh, i sure hope she is.
3- I certainly wont mind if she is, either. The story about lookign at the chair umpire and breaking the racket even more is great.
4- If Serena cared about it, it wouldnt be considered cursed. But she doesnt. Let's see if Justine wants it next year.
5- He's still my fave from that time. His announcement wasnt that surprising, IMO. That the ATP bought his answer is, but they probably just didnt want to lose one of their biggest names. Besides, they also bought the Gasquet kissing saga, so...

Posted by Corleone 10/29/2009 at 06:03 PM

This is what Navratilova said about Agasi:
Andre lied and got away with it,” Navratilova said. “You can’t correct that now. Do you take away a title he wouldn’t have won if he had been suspended? He beat some people when he should have been suspended.”
She's right, Agasi should have been suspended, and it’s not fair to those players who lost to Agasi during that time. If Agasi was suspended, as he should have, they would have played someone else and perhaps would have had better chance of wining.
She said she found Agassi’s decision to come out with the story now peculiar.
“How is it going to play out for him? I don’t know,” she said. “I don’t know why he would come out now.”

Well, Navratilova, Agasi is a good businessman, that's why he's coming out with this now. He's promoting his book, with this controversy people would want to know what really happened, so they'll go and by his book, they'll fly off the shelves.

Posted by usopenrockz 10/29/2009 at 07:12 PM

As far as Agassi, people make mistakes. When he was using, he was not playing at the top level. I could see if he had won majors while being high, but he didn't, so I don't see the big deal. People are on such a high horse and are so quick to judge someone else for their mistakes, as if they've never done anything wrong or socially incorrect. We all know how important Navratilova is to tennis, but her word is not law. Her viewpoint is not set in stone as being right.
As far as the WTA, I've learned from the past few years that to be a champion, it takes three main things: mental stability, power, and a valuable weapon. If one of those three things are missing, it can be very difficult to succeed at the top level. Kuznetsova is one of those exceptions; a grand slam champion who can virtually disappear from the radar for long periods because of her instability. Now, with Wozniacki, I see a bright future. If she can hit the ball a little harder, and develop a weapon, she can very well become the next great champion. With Azarenka though, she will NEVER, I repeat, NEVER, become a grand slam champion/#1 player with her emotional instability. Like Zvonareva, Azarenka's anger and frustration is like a ticking time bomb, and will continue to hinder her results until she can control it.
I have been a Williams fan from day #1, and I advocate for them as hard as I do because I respect how they play the game. They don't care what people have to say about their effort in non-slam events, or about how much they play per year. They operate on their own terms and set their own goals, and are unaffected by the words of others. Being number one at this point is not on their agenda; winning more slams and cementing themselves in history is their priority. It's kept them at the top for this long, and with their extreme athletic ability, expect them to be around for years to come. You never count them out, and even when they've been playing poorly and are heavily criticized as being "declining forces", they find their way back to the top every single time.

I will not though, jump on the Justine bandwagon just yet. We have not seen her play one match. Just because Kim's comeback was spectacular does not mean that Justine's will be. I expect her to have to feel her way into the WTA Tour, much like how Sharapova is having to feel her way back to the top with her new service motion. Both Kim and Justine are fully capable of winning more GS titles, but it won't be easy, as a new crop of young players like Wozniacki are ready for their shine (and those Williamses aren't going anywhere).

Posted by beth 10/29/2009 at 07:22 PM

yes- they "bought " the Gasquet kissing defense - sort of
He is basically being retried for the same offense on November 10 in Lausanne , where the prosecutors, being the ITF and WADA, appealed the original verdict .
So , now with this revelation from Andre , will the ITF want to get tough and make an example out of Gasquet ?
That is my fear . As a fan of his , this admission from Andre and the bad light it sheds on the ruling body of tennis is really poorly timed.
Let me remind everyone that Gasquet did not get off scot free - he served a 3 month suspension for a miniscule amount of cocaine that he claims he did not knowingly ingest.
Whether you believe that or not - the fact remains that the amount of cocaine in his system was infinitesimally small. A 3 month suspension - missing the French and Wimbledon , along with jeopardizing any preparation for the US Open , the loss of sponsorships , not to mention the public humiliation of this whole ordeal - is plenty of punishment for this young man and a first time offense . No matter how the cocaine got there .
I hope that reasonable heads will prevail in Lausanne in two weeks but I am not optimistic for young Mr Gasquet .
Now imagine how Martina Hingis feels. The amount of cocaine that got her a 2 year ban is even less than the amount in the Gasquet case.

and I agree , these books are gonna fly off the shelves. The excerpt in Sports Illustrated was quite an entertaining read.

Posted by Piquant 10/29/2009 at 07:27 PM

Navratilova's understanding of business is so poor, it makes me wonder if she ought to be stripped of her American citizenship.

Posted by matt 10/29/2009 at 07:40 PM

Just read your answer to Agassi's admission, and I couldn't agree more with the following sentence:

This sport can give you a lot, but it's work, often unhappy work, and it can make you do crazy things from time to time.

Everyone has their opinion, but in the end, it's amazing that he came out with this information. It should show people around the world that all the money in the world doesn't buy you happiness or security. I love that he did meth because it just shows us how different elite athletes are from the rest of us... the pressure they're under is not like anything we can understand.

Posted by playin'again 10/29/2009 at 07:55 PM

Andre - did we really need to know all this?

Whatever happened to “... You have pulled for me on the court and also in life. I found inspiration. You have willed me to succeed, sometimes even in my lowest moments..."

Come to think of it, this all could be the theme of new tennis-based reality show.

Posted by Andrew 10/29/2009 at 08:04 PM

Hmmm. Some folks don't enjoy their day job. Film at 11.

I learned earlier this week that Novak Djokovic doesn't enjoy the experience of playing tennis matches. I learned a long time ago that John McEnroe didn't enjoy playing tennis matches. I'm not shocked or stunned - for many professional sportsmen and women, the grind far outweighs the glory. Given that Agassi's one of the most celebrated players of the Open Era, it has some extra resonance, but not that much.

One of the reasons I've long believed that Federer would continue to have a successful career into his late 20s and beyond is that he displays an uncomplicated enjoyment of playing tennis matches and tournaments. Witness the smile for Tommy Haas after the latter's gesticulations in the Wimbledon SF 2009 - or the rueful smile against the same opponent after being lobbed in RG R16 2009.

Posted by sRod 10/29/2009 at 08:26 PM

Can we all agree that Navratilova is a total jackass?

Posted by B. Lara 10/29/2009 at 08:30 PM

Agassi made mistakes. He took crystal meth and lied about it. Crystal meth did not help his performance on the tennis court. The biggest issue here is that, ATP covered it up.

Posted by lois 10/29/2009 at 08:30 PM

RE: Andre, I am sure there is not one of us that has not done or said something dumb or stupid, If we start throwing stones at anyone that has never done anything wrong I am sure it would be a very small pile. Half of that amount would be lies with a better than thou attitude. I will always love him and I love him even more now for what he is doing, he knows first hand what an idol mind can do and he is helping the most dangerous kids with a hand up and a place to go. What was done before cannot be changed but you can change the FUTURE and that is just what he is doing. I don't really see anyone else really making the difference in kids lives that he and Steffie is making. So put up or shut up and let whatever is behind us stay there and let's just keep our eyes in front.

Posted by lois 10/29/2009 at 09:07 PM

aRod, Yes we can, did she come out of the closet right away. Please Martina give it a break.

Posted by Bobby 10/29/2009 at 09:12 PM

I could sense Serena's "ambivalence" in her match against Venus -- especially close to match point. It must hurt her to see Venus increasingly unable to close; it might be ok if it were just against her, but it's against others too. Forget Serena -- it hurts me to see this!

I *love* the descriptions of Wozniacki's game and personality (the observations and how they're articulated). Especially loved these parts -- "she gives her opponents room either to hang themselves or to find their games" and "hanging in there is pretty much what she does for a living".

Andrew, you're so right about Federer's "uncomplicated enjoyment of playing tennis matches". The joy comes through -- for him, I think it's partly because winning is fun :), but I agree that it's also partly because tennis is fun.

Posted by Hola 10/29/2009 at 09:52 PM

Steve and Samantha

By the way, where was that heart and gut when she retired at 5-0 up in Luxembourg?

Posted by skip1515 10/29/2009 at 10:04 PM

Unnnhh, Hola, Wozniacki retired because she knew she wouldn't be able to answer the call for the next match. It's silly to confuse that with not having any intestinal fortitude.

If Azarenka is the future of women's tennis then it's a future that will come about minus yours truly as a spectator. Leaving aside the high percentage of unforced errors committed in a search for outrageous winners, I simply cannot listen to her. What the hell is that noise she emits, why does she do it, and why doesn't the WTA do something about it? She has no problem belting back out serves in silence. What's she proving with the noise? It's nothing short of ridiculous.

Besides that, this high percentage of unforced errors robs a match of any continuity whatsoever.

As regards Agassi:

"what he did was and is illegal and the prisons are filled with plenty of poorer and less connected people who had even "better" reasons to use meth"

Yes, and the streets are filled with plenty of poorer, less connected, richer, *and* better connected people who have never been called out for their drug use, either. What's the point? Some folks get caught. Others don't. When rich people get caught they get away with it more often than poor folks. Age old story. Ain't gonna change. Not Agassi's fault.

The guy did some dope, gave a lame excuse (like many others have done, both poor people in court and athletes in front of the WADA) that in the environment of the times carried the day, and now in his memoir he admits to it. What, you only want an autobiography that gives you pre-approved salacious tidbits? And what kind are they, pray tell?

He says he's sorry he did it, and there's no suggestion that any match fell his way because of it (as if, with meth). Actually, his recounting how he went on a house-cleaning tear is kind of funny.

The guy's done a ton of good, and this story doesn't diminish his US Open farewell one wit.

If he's interested in selling books, that's up to him. Disparage this as cynical marketing if you want, but believing that players are really that different than the rest of the population in their life experiences is just naive, or prudish.

Posted by tigerlily4321 10/29/2009 at 10:20 PM

About Andre...

Tennis is a peculiar sport. You read the pro's biographies and they haven been playing since they were four; some have their parents as coaches, which only adds pressure of not only having to follow your coach's advice, but also your parent's. (i.e Will Dad get mad if I loose, as oppose to What will my coach say?) and your peers, which because of the fact that they grew up around each other since juniors, are both friends and adversaries. This formula makes for some compelling and admirable stories of drive, discipline and character. But, it can also be a recipe for disaster. Agassi is an example of the latter.

Tennis has a very strict doping stance but they should realize athletes, after all, are human beings. Life is not lived just on-court, they have off-court problems too. I fear that in trying to maintain the purity of the sport, they are creating too high of a standard, that does not allow space for lapses of judgment.

Agassi was clearly going through a tough time. I wonder if the ATP has counseling programs to deal with the pressures of the sport. I really wonder if they follow through on Andre after he sent them the letter. The ATP needs to stand by their athletes when they are number one, but also during their lows. Im not making excuses for his lie. Andre is wrong for lying to the ATP, but the ATP is also wrong for just tossing the case, just like that.

I dont know about the rest of you, but I'd rather admire someone who was on top, fell to the deppest hole and came back to be succesful, and most importantly to help other.

"To err is human, to forgive, divine"

Posted by observer 10/29/2009 at 10:55 PM

If I were forced to bet on Wozniacki or Azarenka for long term success/GS titles, I would pick Azarenka. I like them both a lot, but consider the things that are stopping them from being #1 currently: lack of firepower, and the inability to control negative emotions, respectively. You could argue that both of these things can and will be developed over time, but I would say that it is a lot more likely that Azarenka will fill in her gap than Wozniacki. The more Azarenka plays and the older she gets, the more mature she'll become and the less she'll freak out. Wozniacki can definitely work on developing a weapon as well, and her fans could point to Dementieva's improved power and accuracy in her relative old-age as evidence that it can be done. But it will involve a change in her style of play, and things could get a lot worse before they get better. There are many possible ways my prediction could be wrong, but at this point I would have to pick Azarenka.

My only other comment re: the original article is that I think we are giving Kim Clijsters a whole lot more credit than she has earned. Categorizing her with the Williams sisters and Justine Henin as the 4 people Wozniacki can probably never beat? She lost to Patty Schnyder last week. Clijsters had a great US Open and worked very hard back in the day to get to be #1, but she will simply never be unbeatable to any other top player. Compared to all of us, she is a spectacular player--but she's not even close to being one of the all-time greats. She's not even the 4th most successful or consistently good active player (wouldn't that have to be Maria Sharapova?) (While I'm at it, I also think people are failing to recognize just how quickly age has caught up with Venus Williams--she is not the same player she was a year and a half ago, and there's no way around that--she is a very beatable player these days).

Posted by lois 10/29/2009 at 11:18 PM

RE: Caroline Wozniacki, I think I have found my Rafa Nadal in a new young pretty little girls form, This kid has the heart of a Lion and will not be denied. She fought her heart out and even when she was cramping and crying she found a way to win her game. I was on the verge of tears for her, she cried from cramps but would not give in or give up. Even if she does not make it all the way thro in Doha she is my new best girl. I think if the game had not ended when it did I think I would have laid on my bed and cried my eyes out. This young lady is really going to be a heck of a player and I shall keep my eyes wide open when I see her name on the list of players. YOU GO LITTLE LADY, I WISH YOU ALL THE BEST-VAMOS CAROLINE.

Posted by Texas tennis 10/29/2009 at 11:20 PM

2006 US Open
Agassi thanked the fans - I don't believe he's indicated anywhere in the current excerpts that he hated the fans. It was tennis he hated. Noticed in the new (Friday) installments in the London Times that he and Steffi quickly agreed without any need for debate that they all hate tennis. I'm not sure why he came out with this but Martina calling him out for not admitting it and at the same time saying it's peculiar he did admit it is hopeless. (Plus Clemens did performance enhancing drugs for extended periods while he was a baseball mvp, not one that ruins you while in a career blowing slump for a few months - totaly different. ) Perhaps he just doesn't want to live with that lie anymore.

Posted by jimbo 10/29/2009 at 11:52 PM

Agassi: Why come out with the drug story now if not because the book is coming soon? If it is that “he can’t live with that lie anymore” he would have discussed that with family/friends, no need to blurt it out publicly. We may think that he cares and he had to share it with us, but as any other public figure, the bottom line is that all these maneuvers are normally aiming to a return. Sorry folks, I don’t buy the genuine side of the story. As I am pretty sure that there are other cases of players on dope today that are just ignored because such players are what keep the establishment going. And I am going to leave it at that. At the end of the day the show must go on.

Posted by sRod 10/30/2009 at 12:25 AM

Excuse me lois but my name is "s" Rod. Not that well known underachiever from the Yanks :P

It's okay though :)

Posted by Azhdaja 10/30/2009 at 01:20 AM

- well, Aggasi's statement about his drug use and hide, is a fork in the eye of ATP not in his own.

- now after his revealation I can only imagine what else he did yet he hid it.

Q: "So do the consequences for drug tests apply to some players but not all?
A: Yes, they do.

Q: If so, which players are exempted, and why?"
A: The rich ones. With lot of $millions in their accounts.

The moral of the story: Do not you ever never underestimate the power of the money.

Posted by Carlos 10/30/2009 at 02:24 AM

I've always love Andre,he is a icon and a tennis great that played for 20 years, completed the Slam, only those two things are great achievements. whatever he's done in the past is the past, I dont even care if he even did heroin. he'll be Andre for me, i havent change my mind about him. he's the great Agassi. and im buying the book fyi. if i had to choose which book to buy Sampras bookor Agassi i would choose Agassi, because i know i will learn somthing, if you never done anything wrong then you've never learn anything from life.

Posted by Glenn Quagmire 10/30/2009 at 02:32 AM

Wozniacki is fine.

Posted by Corrie 10/30/2009 at 04:04 AM


As Federer said, Agassi has done great stuff in his retirement with his Foundation, and I admire him for that. He has changed and matured so much. Maybe that's one reason he's telling the truth now - although I'm sure selling the book came into it - but maybe he really wants it to be a cautionary tale.

As for not liking tennis, he certainly didn't like losing, because in his less mature days I remember him refusing to do the pressers after losing and, like a milder version of Serena, he wasn't a very gracious loser.

Agassi is an interesting character, flawed of course, but with great qualities as well.

I think Kim Clijsters, in her second incarnation, could turn into a great player because she might well get over the nerves that used to wreck her in big occasions in the past. And I agree that Venus is no longer a force -except at Wimbledon, possibly.


Posted by kchowcrazy - Go ReRe and Vika!! 10/30/2009 at 05:10 AM

observer: Have to agree. I love Serena and was bummed to see her lose (especially the way she lost) in that US Open semi. However i would imagine that having not put the gring in a long season and having zero pressure on your shoulders, makes winning the last slam of the year that little bit easier. Which is why i will watch with interest how Kim performs at the Aussie Open where everyone will be expecting minimum semis from her. Kim no doubt derserved the win and i think she is a great player, but to put her alongside Venus, Serena and Justine is a mistake and a disserevice to someone like Sharapova.
I still think, Justine and Serena are a cut above the rest, and i could easily see them splitting the majors next year. Justine is the only player Serena is wary of (apart from Venus) which will make 2010 all the more exciting, (providing Maria sorts out her serve and Venus remembers how to close matches).
On Caro and Azarenka, i like both girls but prefer Vika's game much more. Despite this i can see Caro becoming a grand slam champ before Vika purely due to her temperment. I am firm believer though that you don't win majors by being reactive you win they by being pro-active; by taking the racquet out of the other players hands. Whilst Caro may give herself more oppurtunities to win one by going deeper in draws much more consistently, i can completely see a calm focused Vika cutting through a slam draw like Maria at Aussie 08.

Posted by M-life 10/30/2009 at 06:10 AM

"Thinking about the up and downs of Azarenka’s season...the first thing that comes to mind is that the length of the schedule makes it tough for anyone to be good all year—there are just so many different phases, places and surfaces to negotiate. The second thing is that it’s tough for Victoria Azarenka in particular to be good all year."

Steve- so why is it more difficult for Azarenka "in particular" to play well all season more than it is for any other player? Why are these the first and second things that come to mind when you think of Azarenka??? Its an interesting point, but you failed to support it with a reasoning or explanation. Those are not the 1st & 2nd things I think about Azarenka. I see a highly skilled, (most of the time) very athletic, very motivated, well conditioned young women that needs refining in many areas, not least of which is strategy planning, execution, and reading the game. all of which are components of the mental aspect of the game. I know you rarely re-comment to people who post on your blog, but if the length of schedule is detrimental for her in particular, please be so kind to explain.

Posted by Samantha Elin, proud supporter of Scandinavia's#1 10/30/2009 at 07:24 AM

Hola, where was Caro? Doing the best thing for herself. Retiring so she could play in a more important tourney, the YEC. Hey M-life.kchowcrazy, agree about Vika's temperment, she's really her own worse enemy on the court. Calm down is all I can say.

Posted by Master Ace 10/30/2009 at 08:12 AM

M Life,
Good point about Victoria's scheduling as she has played the least amount of tournaments(16) in 2009.

Posted by prince pro110 10/30/2009 at 08:17 AM

Agassi did dope....ohhhhhh

Agassi had abusive father....ohhhhhh

Agassi was a spoiled brat.......ohhhhh

Agassi hates playing tennis.....ohhhhhh

My only question is why Agassi still plays in that senior tour if he hates the game so much.......he looks likes Sir Charles Brakley now pushing 200 LBS!

Posted by TennisFan2 10/30/2009 at 08:21 AM

Regarding Williams v. Williams: It's too bad the sisters have to play each other at all - I don't think they are built to take each other down - it's not in their make-up. IMO, little sister can't bring the passion against her big sister - especially now as Venus is heading into the twilight of her single's career.

Venus will have many more good matches ahead of her but she's not getting any younger and the season is just too long for her to recover from small injuries and stay at the top of the game against an increasing younger pool of competitors. I think Serena realizes this and I don't think she wants/is able to take advantage of it to bring the hammer down on Vee in matches. Without Vee on tour with her, globe trotting may be very lonely for Serena. Vee provides a bit of a tether for the hot air balloon that is Serena. Serena needs Vee to stick around a while longer.

Regarding Andre: I am disappointed but not surprised that he used drugs. Forunately for him he found a 12 step program in the form of Gil and he was able to turn himself and his career around. It's sad for Andre and also for the sport - tennis is not above ticket sales and promotions and the way the ATP handled Andre's drug use is not surprising.

But let's face it the decadent decade that was the 90s were not a good time for drugs and professional sports across the board. Andre got away with it as I'm sure so many others did as well. But to his credit he turned it around and I have to believe the good he is doing now far outweighs what he did to himself.

The ATP looked the other way b/c of ticket sales.

Different infraction but the same debate is being played out now. It will be interesting to see how ticket sales and promotions will affect Serena's punishment for her on court outburst. Is it good for the sport to let Serena get away with her outburst? Is it good for the sport to suspend her from some slams?

I imagine the debate is not too different today than it was for Andre in the 90s.

Posted by Raj 10/30/2009 at 09:02 AM

I felt Andre was not totally honest with the game ever since I watched him play. It was the mask he kept during his career which he is opening up now.... Too late. I am not sure if he won any tournament while being high, but if he did, I pity those guyz who lost against him. Granted that he is capable of winning but once you do a mistake and perform Credibility is lost

Posted by Raj 10/30/2009 at 09:05 AM

I felt Andre was not totally honest with the game ever since I watched him play. It was the mask he kept during his career which he is opening up now.... Too late. I am not sure if he won any tournament while being high, but if he did, I pity those guyz who lost against him. Granted that he is capable of winning but once you do a mistake and perform Credibility is lost

Posted by loreley 10/30/2009 at 09:14 AM

I like what you wrote about Agassi, Steve.

Posted by Babe 10/30/2009 at 10:00 AM

observer wrote: "My only other comment re: the original article is that I think we are giving Kim Clijsters a whole lot more credit than she has earned. Categorizing her with the Williams sisters and Justine Henin as the 4 people Wozniacki can probably never beat? She lost to Patty Schnyder last week. Clijsters had a great US Open and worked very hard back in the day to get to be #1, but she will simply never be unbeatable to any other top player."

So true--it's called the bandwagon effect. People are apt to jump on & off it far too quickly for my taste. Clijsters hit her stride & delivered at the Open--when no one expected her to. Let's see how well she does now that everyone expects her to.

Posted by Bob 10/30/2009 at 10:21 AM

I admire Agassi for his honesty. He didn't take performance enhancing drugs, merely recreational drugs. It will make what else he writes very believable. He had every reason not to reveal this, yet did so. Perhaps my own view that an adult has the right to ingest whatever he wishes in the privacy of his home influences my view, so long as it isn't performance enhancing.

Azarenka has more weaponry than Caroline, but it remains to be seen whether she has the mentality to make it to #1 and to win slams. So far she's not shown that she has, but she's young. Caroline is very young, but I don't think she'll get much stronger, in terms of weapons, and am not sure she'll win a slam until the Belgians and Williams are gone, but she's a delight to watch. I wasn't impressed with her retirement recently. If she had an injury, she should have retired immediately, rather than discussing it openly and playing a couple more games. That made no sense.

Henin will contend immediately for the AO title. Talent is talent, and she has it. After months of sickness and injury, she came out of nowhere to win the Gold medal at the Olympics. I expected Kim to win the USO, and expect Henin to contend with Serena and Kim for the AO title, though if she runs into either of them in the first or second round, I'd not favor her. Having a couple of warm-up events will help. When she's on her game, and healthy, she'll beat everyone.

Posted by Just Sayin' 10/30/2009 at 10:57 AM

"Henin will contend immediately for the AO title."

Hmmmm,wishful thinking Babe..I hope she's worked on that serve alot,because if she serves like she did before she left...Andre,only one person can judge you(cant say that name)Everyone's on their high horses like they never made a mistake*rolls eyes*

Posted by Justme 10/30/2009 at 11:18 AM

"—Guns, crystal meth, mullets. Who says tennis is a country club sport? Agassi’s story is pure red-state America."

I think you got your colors mixed up. Blue-state is probably what you meant. If not, you must be living in another country. Your politics is showing. Why not stick to tennis?

Posted by observer 10/30/2009 at 11:33 AM

"Hmmmm,wishful thinking Babe..I hope she's worked on that serve alot,because if she serves like she did before she left..."

If Henin serves worse in Melbourne than she served in any match during her last year on tour, she will still be serving as well or better than almost every other female player right now. It's true that her serve was her least potent shot (though she greatly improved it by the time she left), but I think you are failing to take into account the sheer scope of the serving woes in the WTA right now.

Sharapova is the best example of this. This is not because she served poorly during 2009--I think everyone can agree that her injury layoff + trying to adjust her serve was to blame for that, which makes it vastly different from the other players' serving problems resulting from mental fortidude and, well, just not being able to serve all that well. Rather, she is the best example of the WTA's serving problems because even though her serve was broken an absurd number of times in 2009 as a result of her poor serving and routinely hitting 10+ double faults, she made the QFs or better in EVERY tournament she played besides Wimbledon, the US Open and Shanghai. This is signifcant because it shows that everyone she played was susceptible to being broken in a large number of their service games--if they weren't, she could never have won a set. Granted, she is probably the best returner in the WTA, and her results probably weren't what most girls would get after a similar injury layoff and struggling comeback, but it still shows that every female player was vulnerable on their serve in pretty much every game of 2009.

Posted by AB 10/30/2009 at 11:41 AM

If u're not doing it to push sales for your book, I hope u donate all the proceeds to charity. Maybe a youth programme to educate kids fm gettg involved with drugs?

And thanks for making WADA more suspicious of the players in the current tour, who are clean and proud of it.

Posted by Nick 10/30/2009 at 11:42 AM

"—Guns, crystal meth, mullets. Who says tennis is a country club sport? Agassi’s story is pure red-state America."

Might be one of the most condescendingly elitist and stupid things you ever wrote Steve.

Posted by M-life 10/30/2009 at 11:46 AM

Patrick-

Can you please clear my head here. I'm just checking in after meetings all day. How is J.J. into the semi when Azarenka hasn't played yet? Wozi has two wins, so she should be in. Azarenka has 1 solid win over J.J. and could have 2 wins, plus she has a set won on Wozi. How does J.J. advance with 2 losses and a straight win???

Steve-

I have to reiterate on my earlier observation regarding your take on
Azarenka. Now that Master Ace pointed out that Az has only played 16 tours, it seems to me that she and her camp has scheduled very intelligently. With ample amount of rest, spacing her schedule with enough pre-Slam tours for ready preparation. Is it your position that Azarenka doesn't play enough tours to give herself match-edge, which is part of the problem with her errant shot and decisions making? Or are you saying as I took it initially, that she plays to much, runs her body down, which caused her to play below her ability/potential. I'm just trying to see and follow your logic.

Posted by tennisfreek204 10/30/2009 at 12:11 PM

Bravo Andre...he didn't have to admit all the less than perfect aspects of his life...

Incidentally, we aren't talking about performance enhancing drugs. I, for one, don't care about the use of recreational drugs in professional sports. Clearly Agassi isn't glorifying the the use of Meth. Since it doesn't help one's performance on court, why should it even be included in testing results?

I have never heard a compelling tennis-related reason for cracking down on recreational drugs. It certainly doesn't dim his life or accomplishments. On the contrary, Andre overcoming the odds and climbing the ranks again show that hard work and a proper mindset are still the obligatory ingredients to success in our sport.

Posted by sRod 10/30/2009 at 12:37 PM

Sorry if this is going off topic but why are people getting so defensive over the "red state" comment??? Guns are a southern thing, mullets(c'mon, you know is)are a southern thing. Throw the meth in for fun. These are southern topics. South = "Red State".
Steve was just making an off-color joke. So chill out.

Posted by Avec Double Cordage 10/30/2009 at 12:56 PM

1. did not read the question
2. did not read the question
3. did not read the question
4. did not read the question
5. Agassi remains one of the players I enjoeyd watching the most, doing drugs is not cool, but I'm not surprised by what Agassi did since everyone can have moments of weakness. Doing drugs and doping are two different things and should not be mixed, it's clear that there is a conflinct of interests at the ATP ranch and not only there. It's good that Agassi revealed the truth, this should help to educate the kids and parents and start a discussion on how to deal with drugs and doping in tennis and differentiate between use of drugs and perfomance enhancing doping. My point of view is that if use of drugs appears in test result then this should not be made public and the player should be tested more often since he is more likely to try out doping - more than one that doesn't use drugs. If a player results positive for doping than limited investigations should start to find out who is behing him, I think it is important to find the bad doctors, managers and coaches that offer the athlete the chance to cheat.

Posted by Justme 10/30/2009 at 01:30 PM

"Sorry if this is going off topic but why are people getting so defensive over the "red state" comment??? Guns are a southern thing, mullets(c'mon, you know is)are a southern thing. Throw the meth in for fun. These are southern topics. South = "Red State".
Steve was just making an off-color joke. So chill out."

You are correct about the "Red State" thing. Actually the "Red States" should be the Democrat, Socialist, Communist states which are colored "Blue" by accident, are really "Red" by inclination and are outside the South -- and living in the South I didn't find Tignor's remark "funny" or a joke. He's injecting his political views into a tennis forum and as a result I am entitled to reply with my own views on the matter. Political views don't belong in a Tennis blog and I don't know why Tignor chose this venue to do so but he did, and as a result he and you should expect some flak from people who don't happen to agree with his and your warped opinion on this matter.

Posted by Yes ITS JUST YOU! 10/30/2009 at 01:53 PM

1. I still enjoy watching them. Don't need to learn anything.
2. Shes fun to watch. Reminds me of JJ. May get burnt out soon.
2. Shes fun to watch.

I Just wanted to say I agree with you srod. ......

Posted by Matt 10/30/2009 at 02:03 PM

"—We will likely never hear another player excuse a positive drug test by saying he accidentally drank from someone else’s glass (listening, Mariano Puerta?). If a player says this, I hope no one believes him."

Seriously Steve? that's the first thing you thought when you heard about Agassi's comments? I can only think; why he can he get away with that and Puerta and/or Gasquet can't?

Posted by Yes ITS JUST YOU! 10/30/2009 at 02:06 PM

.....and

3. Impressed me in Key Biscayne. Been a fan since. I beleive she is definitely a contender for the number 1 spot when the Williams and Belgians retire or re-retire in 2 years time.

4. I don't think it is cursed its just that the 2 non-major wininng numbers 1s need to play too much to stay up there...thus they got burnt out. JJ has been playing non-stop for too long. Where has that gotten her. Well number one but no major.

5. Still like him...but why now? ....oh I guess he needs to sell a boook.

Posted by Bob 10/30/2009 at 02:22 PM

Henin had one of the fastest serves in tennis, and did have the fastest second serve. Her problem is height, and frankly I don't see how she can improve her serve, because of geometry. She's always been about a 50% server, because she's so short and serves so hard. Once the ball is in play, she's by far the best player, when healthy, so although I'm interested in this "new" serve, I don't think it's important. Age is telling on Venus, and also Serena, who is having troubles with players like Kuz and others. In another year or so it will trouble Henin, but she, Kim, Serena, and Venus are clearly the best players, so they might win slams at 30 if they stay healthy.

Maria is also a great player when healthy, but I think she's overweight and has mental problems on her serve. Henin and Clijsters never relied on serving to win matches to the degree that Maria, Serena, and Venus do, although Henin lost Wimbledon to Amelie because of nerves serving. It will just be great to see her play again. She's unique.

Posted by HOLA 10/30/2009 at 03:40 PM

Where was that heart and gut when the pusher retired at 5-0 up in Luxembourg?

Posted by antiwoz 10/30/2009 at 03:44 PM

Papa Woz sould shut his piehole and stop going on in the press about how his moonballing daughter's injuries are "career-threatening." He's done this a couple of times this year - first before Eastbourne where he told the press Caro might be out for two-three months with a bad back (she didn't miss any time), then after Luxembourg where he made it sound like he might have to put her down ala Old Yeller.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro and Justine supporter 10/30/2009 at 06:35 PM

Hehehe to the last two Caro haters, she's in the semi. She is with the last four. Kom nu, Caro, win the entire thing.

Posted by sRod 10/30/2009 at 10:49 PM

Justme:

Whatever dude...

Posted by Go Jankovic, Yugoslavia's #1 !!! (take that Scandinavia's #1 Polish player) 10/31/2009 at 03:12 AM

The more Wozniacki does well, the more Samantha Elin is trolling every single page of this website for any negative comment..."I dare you haters not liking my Caro", LOL

She's now turned into Kathy Bates in "Misery" (CREEPY !) and Happy Halloween to everyone indeed!

PS: more biting just below LMAO!!!

Posted by Woz 10/31/2009 at 07:14 AM

Hello Caroline haters! You logic is that of a rooster. How many tours has she one? 6. What her highest Slam achievement? Final (USO) How many other tennis players that are 19 have achieved that? Even Azarenka, a year older than Woz, hasn't done anything near Woz's achievements. Wozniacki will win slams. That mental ability and her pushy game will keep her strong. As for aggressiveness, she's had a particular easy life and is a wonderful person. She has nothing agressive to be about. I believe Caroline can do some damage to our Belgian friends and our American ladies. All she needs to do is hit some more winners. We love you Caroline! Xxxx

Posted by Samantha Elin 10/31/2009 at 07:16 AM

To the last poster that was LOL, really enjoyed it and happy Halloween to you. Thanks for the laugh.

Posted by Samantha Elin 10/31/2009 at 07:16 AM

To the last poster that was LOL, really enjoyed it and happy Halloween to you. Thanks for the laugh.

Posted by Woz 10/31/2009 at 07:37 AM

Lol, I'm all for Team Woz

Posted by KatChr 11/04/2009 at 03:39 AM

I do definitly think that Wozniacki is the future! If we look a few years back - then yes her game was mostly "just getting the ball back" - and not much more. But I must admit that while watching the matches in Doha ive been pleasently surprised by the evolution in her game. From her forhand being her weaker shot and only being able to hit a topspin shot back - she is now able to control a point and hit the ball agressively. She isnt constantly moving for her backhand - and this is a major thing when thinking about her future in tennis especially with the Williams, Justin and Clijsters back in the game!
All shots need to be up to the game and level if you want to stay in the top5. Elena Dementieva is the only other player where I would say that it is obvious that they are working hard on perfecting their "former" problem. Dementieva's serve has improved a lot - her DF's are down and its not possible to kill her serves as before (eg. US Open final against Kuznetsova).

Caroline is doing what she needs to be doing - she is improving her game and trying to become more agressive! Maybe this is also partly why she plays a lot of MM's. Here she will meet opponents where it doesnt matter if she makes a few mistakes with the forhand because she can pull it of anyway!

Caroline Wozniacki is definitly the future!

Posted by Dylan 11/05/2009 at 12:11 PM

Here are the important facts about the Agassi situation:

1. Agassi helped invent the modern game, and kept it afloat when it was "dying" as Sports Illustrated reported in the 90's. Accordingly, he can say anything he wants about tennis;

2. Crystal meth is not a performance-enhancing drug. In fact, it would have hindered his performance in tennis and anything else in life. It is a very dangerous and highly addictive drug, and any concern should be about Agassi, not the ATP;

3. A strong argument can be made that the "party habits" of players are none of the ATP's business anywaw, but if they are going to get involved in recreational drug use, it should be in an effort to help the player who may be dealing with addiction, not as an overly zealous disciplinary body (see, Hingis' three-year suspension for cocaine use-ridiculous);

4. Agassi's admission brings more interest to the game because it shows he's a real person with real struggles, unlike so many of the uninteresting robots in the game;

5. A person in a high-stress occupation decided to take some street drugs to get high and escape for a while--is this so shocking?

6. Martina Navratilova is a complete idiot.

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