Peter Bodo's TennisWorld - Give Me Cincy, Call Me Crazy
Home       About Peter Bodo       Contact        RSS       Follow on Twitter Categories       Archive
Give Me Cincy, Call Me Crazy 04/12/2010 - 8:00 PM


by Pete Bodo

I wrote a post about Monte Carlo for ESPN earlier today, and like most posts with portions that aren't meant to be taken literally, it sure brought the mouth breathers out of the woodwork.  But I have to admit that Monte Carlo is one of those places toward which I have a native antipathy; I never did figure out how to write about that event (which I covered a few times in past years) without feeling like I was laboring on behalf of a cheesy "lifestyle" show. Maybe it's all those $650,000 canary yellow or candy-apple red sports cars that, when parked, come about knee high to me. Maybe it's all those people with beautiful glossy hair, ultra-expensive sunglasses, and perfectly manicured fingernails. And don't get me started on the women!

Well, I'm big enough to admit that it's a personal thing; everyone needs something to rant about anyway, right? But independent of that, I believe that the Monte Carlo tournament is a throwback, and not necessarily to the best place - or, at any rate, to a place that doesn't particularly reflect the changes the last few decade have wrought in the game when you look beyond prize-money figures.

It' s not that I have a problem with an exclusive, private tennis club continuing to host a Masters 1000-level professional tournament. The thing that I find off-putting is that the Monte Carlo Country Club appears to make a conscious effort to trade on that its aura. As I wrote at ESPN, the tournament boasts of offering gourmet meals (as well as "one apertif") to single-session ticket holders, which suggests that the tournament is trying to attract schmoes who want to tap into a certain vision and way of life, and/or those who already live it. There's nothing wrong with that, per se, but it leaves me cold. Give me Cincinnati, and call me crazy.

To me, the MCCC also evokes the bygone days when tennis players were like jugglers and clowns brought in to entertain the court - although in this case the court doesn't consist merely of royalty and courtesans, but everyone who bought a ticket to experience for a day just how the other half lives (even the MCCC has to abide by the economic realities of pro tennis). I suppose that's truly democratic, in some least common denominator way, and there's no doubt that the remarkable surge in the compensation paid to jugglers and clowns swinging rackets tends to improve their standing in our eyes. Maybe all this is inevitable in the setting of a private club; similar feelings always percolate in me when I'm a guest at one.

But if there's a sameness about the private-club experience for guest as well as paid spectator, that dynamic isn't a mandate in the game. Every venue/event tends to reflect the habits and values of the people who run it, as well as its unique history and character. But throughout tennis, you can still feel the tension between the private and public approaches to presenting the game (check out the presser in the photo). I'm not entirely a Visigoth, and I appreciate the charms offered by spectacular settings and interesting environments, including those of private clubs. But I'll take a tennis landscape with fewer frills and distractions, and what I would describe as a more targeted focus on the athletes and games.

A number of tennis players have told me how much they enjoy playing at London's Albert Hall, to the pleasant background sound of champagne corks popping while liveried waiters serve up sensational meals, more or less court side. But I think if I were a player, I would feel like I'm the proverbial chopped liver (and not the stuff being dished out to all the swells, either). I don't mind inhaling a cheeseburger, knish, or hot dog,  or slamming back a cold beer while watching tennis, but when I go to a sporting event I'm there to watch sports, not pore over the menu trying to choose between the roast duck or butterflied leg of lamb. It's decadent, and not in a particularly exciting or interesting way.

I suppose I'm saying that the it's the game that counts, and while some private clubs have done a good job of respecting that concept, others are either too enamored of their own wonderful selves, or are simply too overbearing, as institutions, to give the game right of way. The MCCC has made enormous contributions to tennis, spanning both the amateur and Open eras of tennis. It has navigated those sometimes turbulent waters with expertise and a shrewd promotional approach to the game. But unlike a major, the tournament seems unwilling or uanble to surrender much of its basic character (the Wimbledon has done, in a sneaky kind of way) and purpose in order to grow and flourish even further. For one thing, it's hard to imagine the MCCC building a proper stadium, or other permanent, fan-friendly facilities.

It was a similar problem that led the USTA to abandon the former home of the U.S. Open, the West Side Tennis Club, in Forest Hills, Queens. That's also why the new Madrid Masters is destined to further overshadow Monte Carlo, a fascinating event with one foot in the past and one in the present. We'll see what's in store in the future, but for now the tournament can count itself lucky to have the absolute loyalty of Rafael Nadal, while five members of the rest of the Top 10 are absent from the draw, either because of injury or indifference.

I hope everyone who attends or plays Monte Carlo has a wonderful experience, and I really mean it. It's just not my cup of Campari.

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.
1 2 3 4 5      >>

Posted by thebigapple 04/12/2010 at 08:10 PM

A pox on Monte Carlo, a den of thievery.

Cincy, I may have visited once. I remember see an IM Pei music hall of fame. Is that the right city? I had dinner in some wharf area or something having to do with water. That all I remember of it. A nonedescript, unfortunate place. Apologies, if that was Cleveland. Perhaps Cleveland. Fly-over cointries. Red states. Who cares?

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 04/12/2010 at 08:19 PM


I don't think we can post on the Doing the Charlston blog anymore.

Posted by chicklet 04/12/2010 at 08:20 PM

Are we moving over to this post until Type Pad kicks us off again?

Posted by Jamaica Karen (Queen Vee forever) (still in love with Mark Harmon) 04/12/2010 at 08:20 PM

Pete, so funny that you should post this because today while I was watching the match between Ferrero and Granollers you could distinctly hear the clatter of silverware against china. I was wondering whether they could not in all good conscience mute the sounds coming from the dining room. On that note, I recall last year when I attended the Outback Champions Series I went to the Ritz Carlton to purchase my tickets. In front of me were a number of persons who were also purchasing tickets for the event. Some of the ticket buyers were guests, others were just persons off the street like myself. Anyway, there was a bit of a line and each time a person went up to enquire about tickets the young lady who was selling the tickets enquired if they wanted VIP tickets. VIP tickets entitled you to sit in a covered tent away from the plebs and have champagne and a fine luncheon served by Ritz Carlton wait staff. When my time came, not only was I not asked whether I wished to have VIP tickets but when I enquired I was reluctantly told the price of said tickets and what I would be getting. I did not have the money to purchase said VIP tickets but one wonders why I was not offered the same courtesy as everyone else who was before me in the line.

As a conclusion none of the persons to whom VIP tickets were offered for sale accepted. I guess we all preferred to buy our food and bring it in our bags and stuff and eat while watching a tennis match.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (Queen Vee forever) (still in love with Mark Harmon) 04/12/2010 at 08:22 PM

chiclet, I would think that is the case, but who knows it may just decide to stop as and when it feels like it :(

Posted by Jamaica Karen (Queen Vee forever) (still in love with Mark Harmon) 04/12/2010 at 08:22 PM

Lynne, thanks for the kind words. Sorry I could not post before but Typepad just acting really weird these days.

Posted by Angel of the Surf (The Youz for the top 10) 04/12/2010 at 08:26 PM

Pete nice post. I get the same feeling when I watch other tournaments especially Hopman Cup. I have friends who get to sit in the corporate seats and most of them just go to pig out on food and alcohol and don't give a toss about the tennis. I get so pissed off because I would love to sit in those hard uncomfortable seats and watch some fabo tennis, at least I would know who won.

The background at MC does look wonderful though, but the weather always looks miserable at this time of the year.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 04/12/2010 at 08:34 PM

Pete, I have to take you to task here.

Monte Carlo with its "exclusive club type atmoshpere" might not be a "tennis writers" dream.Though given its location and "history" I beg to differ.You might not like a Campari though they do serve nice cold Beer.

The reason some of the top 10 players have withdrawn from this tournament is that many of them are still carrying injiures,some of them from the AO.

The surface at Monte Carlo is the closest to Roland Garos.Players would be wise to play here.

I noticed yesterday past champions were in attendence,Vilas,Mr Nasty and Leconte.Major Sigh! no sighting of Borg.

It is my tennis wish to go there.No Campari or cold beer for me

Its Vintage Champagne all the way if you please.

Posted by Samantha Elin, supporter of all things Scandinavian 04/12/2010 at 08:34 PM

Now I'm curious, does anybody know what is cost for a ticket to see a match in MC? But from what I read the food can't be anymore expensive then at the USO. Remember seeing an episode on TTC about Dokic's dad complaining about the price of fish.

Posted by chicklet 04/12/2010 at 08:36 PM

Even with the focus on lifestyle rather than tennis, I always felt that the audience members actually watching the matches at MC were very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about tennis.
At least that's the impression I get from TV. Never been anywhere near MC myself.

Posted by Angel of the Surf (The Youz for the top 10) 04/12/2010 at 08:37 PM

Mornin' folks

Yay for Pico and JCF winning their opening matches. It is so hard keeping up with all posts as they are scattered all over the place.

Posted by Tic 04/12/2010 at 08:43 PM

Disagree totally. It's a false impression of forbidding elitism, due to the stunning setting and abundance of super rich around you. It is actually a lovely seaside place. All you have to do is take a plane, rent a modest flat and a small car and enjoy a week of tennis. It will not set you back financially more than any similar trip (unless you visit the Casino and blow all you life savings!).

Wimbledon is a private club as well and it's worse than MC in its ticket availability: you have to participate in a lottery or camp in a pup tent for days. At MC you simply appear at the gate on the day and purchase a ticket. Very people-friendly. I happen to know plenty of "ordinary" (non rich) tennis fans from several European countries who faithfully take their yearly MC pilgrimage.

Posted by VC 04/12/2010 at 08:46 PM

What's the negative of a "Gold Star" for Typepad? Probably a "Rusted Pig Iron Star"? Right ho, one of those for Typepad then.

Anyway, Nalby played well and Gasquet got through. Kohl beat the "next big thing on clay" Thomaz Bellucci. Have to say I was a bit underwhelmed by that result, even though PEHK is a tough draw for the first round.

Posted by Pierre 04/12/2010 at 08:46 PM

I aspire to a cheesy lifestyle. In fact I would go so far as to say that you can hardly have too much cheese in your life.

Posted by wilson75 04/12/2010 at 08:55 PM

Pete, you finally have something in common with Roger. You both don't care for the Monte Carlo Masters.

Anyway, for all the the non-ultra-richness of Cincy, tennis is still a rich man's sport kept in the confines of country and member's clubs.

Posted by Carol 04/12/2010 at 09:00 PM

I've just seen the match Berdych-Feli, what a bad perfomance from Feli!!!

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 04/12/2010 at 09:04 PM

Carol: I see my Spanish no. 2 David Ferrer won though.

Posted by Goldilocks 04/12/2010 at 09:04 PM

Meh, so now I´ll be Off Topic with this post of mine.

carnap, (from the Charleston Thread)

Here´s another post that will make you barf more: :)

From Erin Andrews´ twitter (you know, Erin Andrews, ESPN´s sideline reporter):

My wish for the women of the world: Let´s love and support each other, instead of tearing each other down.

Well, my wish is a lot better: her wish is for the women of the world, mine is for all the people of the world.

So, I´ll start with Madame President.

AM: "Mr X I prefer to see Rafa with the tapes on his knee

If you remember when he took the tapes off what happened.Meh!!!!!!

They are just a added support and considering his Chronic Knees

Good decision."


I´m loving, supporting and agreeing with AM here. Every. Single. Word. Now that the tapes are back on (hopefully during his matches too, not only during his practices), I´m actually very excited and really looking forward to seeing Rafa on the clay court again, playing with that fire and intensity from start to finish, running till his sweat is clinging to his chest hairs like a tick in heat, running like a rabbit (TM Marat Safin), chasing the ball from all over his half of the court, and most importantly, ah, Rafa sliding on the red dirt: What a sight for sore eyes (for this fan anyway)!. Oh, how I long to see that red color on my TV screen again. It´s been a while. I hope and pray that Rafa will come out on top when all is said and done. BRING ON THE RED DIRT!!!!!!

VAMOS RAFA!!!!!!!!

Posted by Codge 04/12/2010 at 09:04 PM

With you all the way AM. give me Monte-Carlo!

Tried to comment on Bobby's luck.

Posted by Carol 04/12/2010 at 09:10 PM

Pete, I don't think there is indefference from some players not playing in MC. Maybe the reason is *bad regards* or just to get more training to be able to play better

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 04/12/2010 at 09:12 PM

I noticed that the tape I saw on his knee was slightly above the knee and not below as he used to wear both tapes. He definitely does need the supports but just wondering why the slight difference.

Posted by CL 04/12/2010 at 09:13 PM

I love Cincy - been there many times, alas, not for tennis.

The view from the MC courts is breathtaking...

And "Crazy" applies best to trying to keep track of the latest typebad shuffle.

Posted by Carol 04/12/2010 at 09:20 PM

Lynne, I'm glad to konw that, go Ferrer!!!

Goldilocks, I love to read your post and I agree that Rafa has to keep his knee with tape but in the vid he has just a little piece on the knee but it's not all around his knee, maybe it's because he got a shot or something else?

Posted by Master Ace 04/12/2010 at 09:21 PM

Monte Carlo Tuesday Order of Play:

Cilic, Verdasco, Tsonga vs Almagro-AO rematch and Berdych vs Gasquet scheduled

Barcelona at 4 AM - Schiavone, Suarez Navarro, Kirilenko, Dulko, Martinez Sanchez, Safarova, Cornet and Vinci vs Rezai scheduled
Charleston at 10 AM - Schnyder, Jankovic, Stosur, Vesnina, Zvonareva, Govortsova and Wozniak scheduled
Charleston at 7 PM - Craybas vs Oudin

Posted by Carol 04/12/2010 at 09:23 PM

Lynne, hehe, we have the same thought

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 04/12/2010 at 09:24 PM

Lynne and Carol dont worry

Sometimes with knees,putting the tape around the area to support is common.

Posted by Carol 04/12/2010 at 09:28 PM

I'm watching Gimeno-Gasquet match. Gasquet seems to be so nice guy

Posted by vetmama 04/12/2010 at 09:31 PM

"To me, the MCCC also evokes the bygone days when tennis players were like jugglers and clowns brought in to entertain the court "

I had similar thoughts when I attended the "Hit For Haiti" at Indian Wells.

After 2 days at the tournament, I had gotten used to the makeup of the crowd: sure there were some people who weren't into tennis and were completely clueless, but most had some idea of what was going on, and some were even as fanatical as myself.

But the I noticed a distinct difference in the crowd for the exo.
There was an increase in the amount of conspicuous wealth, many people were talking as if it was a cocktail party instead of a tennis match, and others had looks of boredom on many faces.
Obviously there were many people there that were as excited to see the players as I was, but I got the sense that this was not as tennis-savvy a crowd as at previous matches.
It was almost as if they were there because it was socially the thing to do, not because they loved the sport.

I got the impression that many of them didn't give a damn about the players, other than as a backdrop for their party.
And that's kind of how I picture Monte Carlo.

Posted by moonballs 04/12/2010 at 09:34 PM

from the Charleston thread:

"I feel comfortable with the way I play. I'm just better at other things and it'll get me far."

yea, Go Caro! moonballs will never stop :-)))))) she's really better than most at moonballing :-))

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 04/12/2010 at 09:36 PM

Well, either way I would just be happy to go to Monte Carlo and Cinci - when in Rome, I say.

Posted by Jackie 04/12/2010 at 09:38 PM

I must be crazy too. Go Cincy. :)

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 04/12/2010 at 09:39 PM

Has one ever considered that some people either get invited to a tennis tournment who are not "serious tennis fans" and get hooked on the game and become fans.I personally know this has happened.

Gee whiz I didnt know one had to be such a "serious fan" to qualify to attend a tennis tournament lol!

Posted by vetmama 04/12/2010 at 09:47 PM

You don't have to be a serious fan.
I guess what bothered me was that I felt defensive for the game I love.
If people find it so boring that they only gab with their friends the whole time, or clink their flatwear or whatever, then why go? Why not find a nice restaurant overlooking the sea and have lunch there?

Posted by Angel of the Surf (The Youz for the top 10) 04/12/2010 at 09:51 PM

vetmama I agree, you don't have to be a serious fan but at least like the game enough to want to go and watch and not gasbag all day to your friends that is why they invented a thing called lunch and alcohol.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 04/12/2010 at 09:51 PM

Vetmama Point taken.Though with every sport these days you will find the same thing happening.I know at finals times especially in GS tennis the "A Lister People" are there to be seen etc.

Its become very "social" lol!

Posted by Carol 04/12/2010 at 09:58 PM

vetmama, your comment has done to remember when I went to see Rafa-Tsonga match here in Miami, before that match Clijsters-Stosur were playing, the Stadium was half empty and the crowd wasn't put attention to tha match, just talking and socializing
I had tickets in VIP (thanks to a friend) I was watching the match but the rest of the people was drinking and eating. Later when Rafa match started the Stadium was full and everybody was watching it

Posted by NP 04/12/2010 at 10:04 PM

Is Rafa the only one in the top 6 playing MC this year?

Posted by Angel of the Surf (The Youz for the top 10) 04/12/2010 at 10:05 PM

If I'm watching something and I have people around me talking etc I get so distracted that I feel the need to tell them to STFU. But of course I don't because that would be rude.

Posted by Carol 04/12/2010 at 10:05 PM

It's true what AM says. some people are invited to go to the Tournament but really they don't know too much about the game and the players

Posted by Jamaica Karen (Queen Vee forever) (still in love with Mark Harmon) 04/12/2010 at 10:06 PM

AM, there is nothing worse than going to a tennis tournament and sitting beside folks who keep up a running commentary about everything under the sun except the tennis. Living in Cayman where there are so many wealthy people I always get the feeling when I attend tennis tournaments that it is more a social occasion (see and be seen) rather than tennis enthusiasts who actually love the game. Tennis will never abandon its elitism especially when most people have to be members of a club in order to play (at least here in the Caribbean) or you have to live somewhere (usually a gated community) in order to play the game. One of the problems that I have seen is the lack of public facilities so that the common man can enjoy the game. Anyway,just another indictment in this world we call Animal Farm.

Posted by Goldilocks 04/12/2010 at 10:09 PM

Hi Carol,

Thanks muchly.

I dunno. Tapes or no tapes, I just want Rafa to defend his MC title. I don´t wanna worry anymore. Besides, you know what they say: Worry is the darkroom in which negatives can develop.

As for Monte Carlo, my husband and I were planning of driving to Monte Carlo and Rome, but I had a change of heart at the last minute, I chose Roland Gaross instead. Maybe next year, I´ll be cheering Rafa on from Monte Carlo centercourt.

Posted by crazyone 04/12/2010 at 10:09 PM

NP: Djokovic

Posted by chicklet 04/12/2010 at 10:11 PM

NP - Murray and Nole are there. In body at least, if not in fighting spirit.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 04/12/2010 at 10:12 PM

It has been way too long since we've had a reference to Orwell on this blog.

Thanks, Karen.

Incidentally, I was savoring a Red Stripe as I read your post.

Red Stripe and Orwell. A match made in heaven.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 04/12/2010 at 10:13 PM

I've been to Wimbledon several times in my life and the only time I've heard the crowd chat is between points.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 04/12/2010 at 10:13 PM

Karen The same thing has happened to me on many occasions

Hey it really dosent bother me

There are more important things to worry about in this world than a "annoying person/tennis fan that dosent shut up or is running their own commentaty on the game for all to hear lol!

Posted by Pspace (Kom op Kimmie!) 04/12/2010 at 10:14 PM

Another anti-elitist piece, Pete? Jeez, at least you're consistent.

Some ppl in those country clubs might've actually worked hard for that lifestyle.

Not all of us wanna be stuck in the boonies hunting game for dinner.

You can have Cincy. I'll take Monte Carlo.

Posted by NP 04/12/2010 at 10:15 PM

c1 & chicklet, gotcha. So 2 out of the undisputed top 3 clay-courters of the past few years. Not too bad at all.

Posted by NP 04/12/2010 at 10:15 PM

P, subtlety isn't your forte.

Posted by carnap - Fit Or Forfeit 04/12/2010 at 10:17 PM

Oh please, Mr. Bodo, it's not as though the rich spectators were grinding the faces of the rich tennis pros into the red clay.

Would you like a Proletarian Tournament? Given the paucity of communist countries, where would it be held? You can't hold it in China because we all know their current brand of communism isn't. Maybe Havana? Climate would be perfect except during hurricane season. Facilities would be suitably utilitarian and inexpensive. Think of the wonderful adventures you'd have just lining up for bread in the morning and maybe actually getting to buy some.

I'd never be able to afford MCCC, but I'm not green with envy at those who can.

Posted by Carol 04/12/2010 at 10:18 PM

Goldilocks, lucky you, I would love to be cheering Rafa in RG
And like you say, tapes or no tapes I hope Rafa to defend his MC title. And it's true that thinking negative brings negative things, like the book Secrets says!

Posted by Pspace (Kom op Kimmie!) 04/12/2010 at 10:22 PM

NP, hehe, I guess we're more similar than I thought.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 04/12/2010 at 10:24 PM

A funny incident came to mind while on this very annoying subject

When I attended the final of the womens singles match at the AO this year

The whole crowd was very pro Justine.Well blow me down when I dare called out and said Go Serena

Ladies on my right turned to me and said "How can you cheer for her and what she did at the USO this year? hey I thought to myself I thought this was a free country last time I checked.

By the way the ladies in front of me put their hands over their ears every time I said "good shot Serena you go girl"

I then turned to the ladies on my right and said" Yes I am awful arent I? though you ladies seem to be in my age group what were your thoughts with Mac and his sometime ill thoughts and temper tantrums and verbal abuse to umpires and linespeople?

There was silence for awhile and they we seemed to agree to disagree lol!.Though when Serena won and I wanted to get better pictures of her they did mind my bag for me.

Posted by NP 04/12/2010 at 10:25 PM

P, a frightening thought that is.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 04/12/2010 at 10:26 PM

Good for you, AM!

Posted by skip1515 04/12/2010 at 10:27 PM

From the comfort of my chair and a good view of the television, the only interaction I've ever had with the Monte Carlo tournament, I have a different take on the tournament than you, Pete.

It's not as if I grew up playing at Merion, or even hanging out there. Lord knows my junior days were everything *but* Merion. Nonetheless, I'm happy to enjoy the wealthy aspects of such settings. They can be beautiful, after all, and Monte Carlo's show court is definitely beautiful.

If there are a**holes watching the tennis there, knocking back the Campari, well, I'm confident there are a**holes watching the tennis in Cincy, knocking back Pabst Blue Ribbon, too. A**hole is as a**hole does, regardless of the beverage of choice.

I don't condone treating anyone as a lesser being because they're the hired help, janitor or tennis shamateur. And at some level we all want to live in a house that looks nicer rather than uglier, too. We went to the tennis at the Spectrum in spite of the atmosphere, not for it.

Nah, I know what you're saying, but we'll agree that it's a matter of personal taste and agree to disagree. I think we can say "Frig 'em" to the jerks at any tournament, appreciate the tennis for the sake of the tennis, and enjoy whatever pleasures the surroundings offer.

Posted by carnap - Fit Or Forfeit 04/12/2010 at 10:28 PM

NP: Your syntax is beginning to indicate that you've been watching too many tennis matches where Aussies, Kiwis, or South Africans have been doing the commentary.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 04/12/2010 at 10:29 PM

Pspace Are you on drugs or drunk

Posted by Carol 04/12/2010 at 10:35 PM

Well said AM. It's funny that Mac fans criticize another players. Today all players have a lot much better behavior than Mac and Connors era. Those players were always complaining between points

Posted by NP 04/12/2010 at 10:37 PM

carnap, I've actually been reading too much Virgil.

Nah, who am I kidding. I watch too much Star Wars.

Posted by carnap - Fit Or Forfeit 04/12/2010 at 10:40 PM

NP: Good to see you're still proletarian, then : )

Posted by NP 04/12/2010 at 10:46 PM

carnap, and futuristic. Backward. Or something.

And since I dunno what the hell I'm talking about I'll call it a day. Later, you elitist anti-proletarians.

Posted by Pspace (Kom op Kimmie!) 04/12/2010 at 10:50 PM

AM, I'm not sure ;-). Did you slip something in my dinner?

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 04/12/2010 at 11:04 PM

Pspace Well someone did.You and NP becoming alike.Its scary.

Posted by kooyong 04/12/2010 at 11:16 PM

I'm an American who has traveled to the MCCC 3 times over the last several years and it doesn't conform at all to the "cheesy" stereotype. And you don't have to be a member of Net Jets to enjoy it. You can fly in cheaply to Nice and take the 20 minute train ride up right to the sight without blowing a bunch of Euros to stay in Monte Carlo. The tournament takes place in an intimate (if somewhat cramped) setting where the players walk around and interact with the fans in ways you never see here in the US. It has the raucous Italian fans who drive in and cheer their own along with the diehard French, and lets spectators get up close to see great matches on the outer courts. In other words, it's everything you see at any other Masters tournaments, but happens to be in one of the most beautiful and expensive settings in the world. Once you get past that (assuming you want to..), I bet the tennis expereience is not that different from Cincinatti.

Posted by Sherlock 04/12/2010 at 11:17 PM

"A**hole is as a**hole does, regardless of the beverage of choice."

Lol. Well said, Skip. :)

I'm not into hanging around snobs any more than I have to, but I sure wouldn't turn down a trip to the Monte Carlo masters if I had a reasonable opportunity to go.

It certainly isn't just tennis though. I've sat courtside for a couple Blazer games the past few years, and there are quite a few folks down there who don't know if the ball is stuffed or pumped. It's an exclusive thing to do, to see and be seen.

All in all, it doesn't matter. Brandon Roy is hurt, and life sucks.

Posted by Angel of the Surf (The Youz for the top 10) 04/12/2010 at 11:19 PM

kooyong thanks for the post, it had me thinking about the train journey and how I could afford it. I always thought Nice was expensive as well. Do they have backpackers?

Posted by Tim (Year of Red Rogie ) 04/12/2010 at 11:27 PM

well i agree with skip totally, the a holes exist in every city, no matter what they're drinking, or where they're watching tennis...

in truth ive been to MCCC and even played tennis there, and its one breathtaking place, let me tell you, will never forget it... didnt watch any tennis though, so cant comment on that...

Posted by crazyone 04/12/2010 at 11:27 PM

word, Sherlock. And it seems like Monte Carlo tickets are affordable and easily available, and the court is small enough that every seat should have a decent view. Contrast this to Arthur Ashe stadium where the only seats with any decent view are mostly taken by corporate honchos who also don't care very much for tennis (and often those seats go empty...) while the ordinary Joe sees an ant rather than Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal.

Posted by Andrew 04/12/2010 at 11:31 PM

Guys, sorry about TypePad seizing up. I've tried republishing the "Doing the Charleston" post, and I think it accepts comments again. Seems like a weird bug though. We'll try to get the SixApart engineers looking at it.

Posted by kooyong 04/12/2010 at 11:31 PM

AOTS -- Nice is the backpacker's Mecca of the Cote d'Azur b/c all of the other cities are a lot more expensive. The MCCC lets you bring in food and beverages from off-site, so you can buy a day's worth of sandwiches, baguettes and cheese beforehand and avoid getting ripped off paying 6 euros for a small water. Best time to go is the first 4 days when you can get onto the back courts and see top-notch clay court tennis up close, although the stadium is smaller than other Masters tournaments like Key Biscayne and Indian Wells, so the views are excellent from there as well.

Posted by imjimmy 04/12/2010 at 11:38 PM

Watching some of Nadal's matches this year and comparing it to his earlier ones (thanks to a friend who's an overzealous Nadal fan and records ATP tier 2 events). 2 things are sure:

- His speed and some of his explosive movement have suffered heavy casualties. That much should be pretty clear to just about anyone who's followed him properly. He's nowhere close to being as explosive as he was especially on his backhand side. Now he routinely arrives late on shots that he used to hit flat and hard a couple of years ago.

- There's something remiss with his fitness. He's running out of steam in the latter part of his matches. The intensity level drops down considerably in the last 3rd of almost all long matches he's played.

Of course his confidence is not where it should be, and so he is losing all the close matches that he used to win earlier. Obviously its a two way street. top pros also see that Nadal hasn't been the same players as was in 2008 so they pounce on any weakness they see. Which makes Nadal's job all the more harder.

Let's see what happens when the red dirt comes beneath the clay warrior's feet. Will it rejuvenate his mind and his aching knees?

Posted by Sherlock 04/12/2010 at 11:39 PM

Thanks, Andrew. Sorry you have to deal with all that. Seems strange, indeed.

Posted by Sherlock 04/12/2010 at 11:46 PM

How do Jo fans feel about Almagro tomorrow?

Igor-Marin might be quite interesting too. I hope Marin doesn't bow out first round.

Posted by Tim (Year of Red Rogie ) 04/12/2010 at 11:49 PM

imjimmy rafa has said repeatedly his knees are just fine, why belabor the point over and over again? Rafa's injury from 2009 has been fine since he returned in Cincy, the knee injury after he was losing 2 sets to Murray was a different one entirely, and now that has healed as well... can we maybe leave the knees alone for ONE week and take a break from injury talk?

Posted by Tim (Year of Red Rogie ) 04/12/2010 at 11:53 PM

and to me rafa's 2008 form was more an exception than a rule, u simply cannot go that hard, fast and long without breaking down, Federer accomplishes the same with less effort, and thus, mostly, he's kept going for 7 years without much of a hitch... plus, he had the joy of chasing the king, and the fearlessness that goes with that, which played to his advantage... its a lot harder to stay at the top than get there, rafa's facing that now...

Posted by Tim (Year of Red Rogie ) 04/12/2010 at 11:54 PM

better camera angle this year at Monte, you can actually SEE the ball! its a totaly different angle, i wonder what they did...vast imporvement, from what I can see, its lower or something...

Posted by Sherlock 04/12/2010 at 11:54 PM

Tim, trust me, Rafa fans are more tired of thinking and worrying about it than you are of hearing about it. But it is what it is. When Roger's back was problematic, it was an hourly topic here for a long time. Pretty understandable.

Posted by Pspace (Kom op Kimmie!) 04/12/2010 at 11:58 PM

Sherlock, my draw sez that Jo is going down :-((. I'm hoping to be pleasantly surprised. He did take down Pico and Andreev at RG last year...before going out in four to Elf. So...he can play. But, Nico is a bit better than any1 he's beaten on clay, I think.

Posted by Angel of the Surf (The Youz for the top 10) 04/13/2010 at 12:00 AM

Sherly I am going for Nico, I think he will want revenge for their AO meeting which he just lost due to his wrist injury.

Posted by Vie 04/13/2010 at 12:03 AM

Pete, I don't find much wrong in MC offering aperitifs, etc. What is so outlandish or crass about that? I don't really know much about the setup at MC, but the matches I've watched looked like normal tennis matches to me, spectator-wise. The setting and ambiance is what it is, what with the Mediterranean Sea in the background. Why do you want to change that for tennis.

Posted by Sherlock 04/13/2010 at 12:04 AM

You bet against Jo??? :) I probably would too. Nico can be tough. I'd love to see it tomorrow.

Posted by Pspace (Kom op Kimmie!) 04/13/2010 at 12:04 AM

AA, c'mon...Nico's _left_ wrist was hurt! That prolly caused as much discomfort as Rafa's wisdom teeth in Miami! In fact, I think the pain let Nico focus better than he normally does. He played insane.

Posted by Sherlock 04/13/2010 at 12:06 AM

Sorry, Pspace. Because of the wrist, Jo's AO win comes with an asterisk. :)

Posted by Angel of the Surf (The Youz for the top 10) 04/13/2010 at 12:08 AM

Spacie, I still think (more likely hope) that Nico gets his revenge and there is bit of blood spilled. Sometimes Nico really pisses me off with his attitude on court but then I look at his pics where he wins Mexico and I go back to liking him. But if ever plays Pico I want Pico to take him to the cleaners.

Posted by imjimmy 04/13/2010 at 12:09 AM

Tim: I happened to watch a bunch of Nadal matches from '07 and '08. And compared to now, the difference is like night and day. He's actually hitting his forehand pretty well, but the movement is lacking. Of course that could be because he's cautious with his knees. And where did you get that is injury against Murray was different from the one before? And if he did have a problem with the knees, do you think Nadal would go around telling everyone and their brother..Did Fed do that when he had back problems.

I also don't agree about 2008 Nadal as his ultimate level of tennis. If his knees hold up (for 3-4 yrs) he's capable of playing better tennis. I would say there is ONLY ONE tournament where he was in the zone. That was RG 2008. He lost 41 GAMES in the entire tournament and just 22 games after the fourth round. That is by FAR the MOST dominant grand slam performance of the decade. Fed fans seem to take smug satisfaction from Nadal chasing Federer getting to #1 and then getting injured. It was not anything related to Federer. It was years of bad scheduling, judgment and grinding matches on hardcourts which made him go lame. His misfortune was that it happened at the most inopportune moment - just as he was starting to enter his prime and it made him loose 2 slams and the #1, #2 ranking.

Posted by Pspace (Kom op Kimmie!) 04/13/2010 at 12:11 AM

LOL, Sherlock. It goes without saying that every match on the ATP is asterisked.

For example, Odesnik made SF in Houston because he was on HGH. But, he lost in the SF because Querrey's comments inflamed his 'roid rage.

Posted by Pspace (Kom op Kimmie!) 04/13/2010 at 12:13 AM

AA, yeah, I like Nico too. How can you not be fond of headcases like him. And, besides, his strokes are just so amazing.

Posted by Coby 04/13/2010 at 12:17 AM

Tim, I noticed the change of view at MCCC on tv as well. I'm not positive, but I think when they are shooting from the end of the court it is from South to North this year, and in the past it was always North to South, towards the Sea and into the glare of the sun.

Posted by mina (meanie and proud of it) 04/13/2010 at 12:20 AM

HGH isn't the same as steroids hence no 'roid rage... but i think we all know what you were aiming for Pspace :)

Posted by manuelsantanafan 04/13/2010 at 12:21 AM


In Rafa's last two tournaments, it was hard to tell if he was running out of gas, because many of the points were relatively short--partly due to his returning serve so poorly.

Rafa was known for having very hard practice sessions. If he has cut down on their severity in order to conserve his knees, his conditioning will probably not be as good as it was when he was going four-plus hours with Federer and Coria in Rome.

As you know, he has been using new Babolat RPM Blast strings for a few months. I'm not sure if he is using these strings across all grommets or just in one direction.

If these new strings are supposed to give him more spin, the underlying purpose may be to address the fact that he is getting to balls later than he was just a couple of years ago. During the late 2009 part of his schedule, he would often get to his forehands late, then try to give a vicious uppercut forehand, trying to spin the ball into his opponent's court. Often, the ball still flew long.

I noticed when he first started using the new "black" strings, he was often having trouble controlling his topspin backhands. Some of his attempted topspin backhand passes, when he was relatively stable, barely reached the net. I had almost never seen that before.

I'm sure Rafa is still experimenting and getting used to new string configurations. As a Rafa fan, I'm hoping he figures it out.

All the above said, I doubt that he'll ever get all of his former explosiveness back. I'm not sure that his knees are going to allow him to successfully engage in "wars of attrition" on both clay and slow hard courts, as he often has in the fast, without breaking down after fewer such matches than he has in the past.

My belief is that Rafa will best be served by playing much more "first-strike" tennis. that means many more UFEs than he or his fans are used to seeing. Playing in that fashion may not allow him to have the success that he has had in the past, but he may be at the point in his career that, no matter what approach he takes, he'll never enjoy the same levels of ultimate success that he has in the past.

I'm not sure, however, that Rafa will fully commit to first-strike tennis. He was taking some beatings last fall during which it was clear that the only way he would win playing in that manner was if his opponent injured himself. Fortunately, none of his opponents hurt themselves.

It appeared (to me, at least) that Rafa preferred losing while keeping his UFE counts low to playing a more aggressive style that MIGHT get him a victory.

Don't understand that type of thinking. But, because he's won about $27 million more than I have on pro tennis tours, he probably has reasons I could never hope to fathom.

Incidentally, in his dead rubber against the Czechs in the 2009 Davis Cup finals, held on Barcelona clay, his movement didn't look very sharp. Another reason I have doubts about his ability to grind out victories when necessary throughout all or most of an entire European clay court season, as he has done in the past.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 04/13/2010 at 12:23 AM


You speak of the "joy of chasing the king."

Is the joy due to the king wearing a rainbow on his ass?

Posted by Pspace (Kom op Kimmie!) 04/13/2010 at 12:29 AM

mina, hehe, facts be damned. I guess accelerated shrinkage could make any man angry.

MSF, interesting thoughts. I love "gear" conspiracy theories.

Posted by Typepad Tester 04/13/2010 at 12:31 AM

Despite his best efforts, that idiot manuelsantanafan hasn't broken Typepad with his last two posts.

Well done, Typepad.

Posted by mina (meanie and proud of it) 04/13/2010 at 12:36 AM

Pspace, no doubt! and he prolly wasnt too happy with people being acutely aware of that either haha

those rainbows can never be trusted. see how they inspired that pretender to run off with 08's truckload of titles... :P

Posted by Sherlock 04/13/2010 at 12:41 AM

I think Typepad Tester needs a few rainbows in his life. :)

Posted by imjimmy 04/13/2010 at 12:41 AM

""My belief is that Rafa will best be served by playing much more "first-strike" tennis. that means many more UFEs than he or his fans are used to seeing. ""

Great post MSF. As you said the biggest problem with Nadal is him NOT having a first strike weapon (serve, return of serve etc) which allows him to win cheap points. He's perhaps the only great player who is so. I dunno how he can start playing first strike tennis so late in his career.

As far as his strings are concerned the new RPM blast has a decent feel to it - def. has more life than the "dead" duralast that Nadal always used. I'm not sure if he's switched to them permanently. But he was definitely using them in Abu Dhabi, Doha 2010 where IMO he played the best tennis of 2010.

Anyway his scheduling is what irks me. Playing hard court events and endangering re-injuring the knees - oops that happened didn't it?! And then doubles and workouts on the surface to boot. He was hitting his left knee in that match against Roddick, he should have been hitting his HEAD for putting himself in that position.

Entering 5 clay court tournaments (including Madrid) when that gauntlet on bad knees left him vulnerable at the French and out for most of the summer. It could be a strong resistance to very real physical limitations or plainly very poor judgment. That Nadal's future career would depend on how well he would manage his schedule of events and cut back on the events he will attend, was never in doubt. He seems to do actually the opposite, skipping only one event Rotterdam (because he was forced to by his injury he suferred at the AO) and on top of that he elected to play in doubles as well on HC in March.

I thought he learned a lesson, but that didn't happen, obviously. He could have gone down as a 10+ slam winner exceeded only by Federer, borg and Sampras. Now he will be chasing Agassi, Jmac and Lendl. And probably end up short. It's a shame really. ..

Posted by Or 04/13/2010 at 12:44 AM

Hmmm. As someone who had been in the USO for two weeks, I would have gladly taken a duck or some more refined food, the junk food there was killing me. Especially the food that was being offered inside Arthur Ash itself, at the end of the second week, I just couldn't touch anything. Most times, I was there for the day+night session, leaving the stadium to eat was not an option.

Plus, even the junkfood was overpriced.

Don't know if I agree with you, Pete.

Posted by Or 04/13/2010 at 12:52 AM

I also wonder how different is the crowd in the early night sessio of the USO than the MC crowd. I've seen plenty of well-dressed women and men who left in the tight third set between Roger and Soderling in the USO Q. That's how I got a nice little place in the third row. But the good seats were pretty darned empty for a high quality match.

They were pretty much there to be seen...never mind the tennis.

Posted by Andrew 04/13/2010 at 12:54 AM

Far be it from me to get a reputation for taking Nadal's part here, but the idea that neither he nor his support staff have his long term interests at heart doesn't add up.

I'm sure he's getting pretty good advice about how to use his body. Doubles take about an hour or so, and are physically much less demanding than singles.

We have to make a distinction between traumatic injuries and repetitive strain injuries. Traumatic injuries like the one at the AO, with proper rest and attention, heal as good as new. Repetitive strain injuries are more worrying, because they flow from the way a player goes about his business, and may be much harder to address. My therapist, addressing a recent repetitive strain injury, has put me on a regime of leg and core strengthening, involving multiple units from calves to glutes.

I sense with Nadal that there was a tipping point last year, and he and his team haven't quite found the final new balance point. But to say this is because Nadal is behaving in an unthinking way doesn't do it for me.

1 2 3 4 5      >>

We are no longer accepting comments for this entry.

<<  Driving Miss Hannah Doing the Charleston  >>

Wild Women of the U.S. Open
Wild Men of the U.S. Open
Roddick's Imperfect World
"It's Kind of a Dance"
Nadal's Kneeds
The Racquet Scientist: Canadian Tennis
The Long and Short of It
This blog has 3693 entries and 1646148 comments.
More Video
Daily Spin