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Around the World in 1000 Words 12/07/2010 - 1:57 PM

Sod

by Pete Bodo

Mornin'. So, are you still lobbying to create a longer off-season in tennis?

U-Turns Welcome. . .

The year's last "official" ball was struck in Belgrade on Sunday, and another season is in the history books. And what a year it was, with Andy Murray roaring out to such a great start in Melbourne (where he lost the final to Roger Federer—nothing to be ashamed of there, right?), setting in motion a year that could go into the books as the year of the U-turn.

Just think of all the players whose efforts involved a dramatic turnaround—for better or worse—at some point. By the end of 11-plus months, Murray was still without a major, while Slam queen Serena Williams made a U-turn (due to injury) and lost her No. 1 ranking to Slamless Wonder Caroline Wozniacki.

Rafael Nadal had a U-turn going the other way after injury and made history, completing a career Grand Slam. Roger Federer expired and then popped back to life, Ana Ivanovic hit rock bottom and floated, cork-like, back to the surface, Novak Djokovic started weak and finished strong and Michael Llodra played perhaps the best tennis of his life and suffered his most painful loss, all in the course of a month. Among others...

Seeking the "Special" in "Specialist."

One guy I feel for is Nenad Zimonjic, the Serbian Davis Cup doubles specialist. He's one of those guys who just brings a smile to your face if you run into him at the IMG NIck Bollettieri Tennis Academy, and he's by nature and trade a real team player. But Zimonjic has really struggled in the Davis Cup ties I've watched, and it seems to me more than a simple case of Davis Cup heebie-jeebies.

In the confines of their athletic culture, doubles specialists do just fine. They're in a comfort zone, sitting atop a food chain populated mostly by ATP pros moonlighting in the doubles to earn some extra cash and get in some more playing time. But when you plop them in the Davis Cup cauldron, or shake up their pecking order by throwing a few big singles names into the mix, it's like they feel pressured to justify their status—as if they have to prove that they aren't top doubles players merely by default, because so few players focus on doubles and most of the top singles players only dabble in it (at best).

In Belgrade, you could see Zimonjic trying to be assertive, making an effort to demonstrate his leadership, bursting to play in a way that would make him stand out, but not at the expense of his partner or team. And it just wasn't happening. Again. 

That's okay, though, Davis Cup is a team enterprise and Zimonjic was likely just as thrilled with the final result as Djokovic, or the respective semifinal and final round heroes, Janko Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki. And he had every right to be. So I'd say forget the pressure to justify your reputation as a top doubles player and specialist—just hit the danged ball.

Did You Have to Pay Extra for the Crystals?

File this in the "This has nothing to do with ending world hunger" dossier. Serena Williams's Grand Slam feast may have ended abruptly after the second course in 2010, but we've seen over the years that this is a whimsically inclined lady (remember that bit about using her Grand Slam trophies as baskets to hold her make-up brushes?) with a wicked sense of humor, and a high and flashy sense of style. She's out of action until sometime after the 2011 Australian Open, still recuperating from surgery on her right foot, which is now encased in a cast. But that hasn't impaired her flair.

The New York Post has an item today on the way Serena has decorated the cast on her foot with Swarovski crystals for her walk-through at the "Evenings in Vogue" party in Miami on Saturday night. Check out the picture that runs with this item and tell me if I'm missing something in asking, "What crystals?" In the NYP item, it looks like Serena also got a jump on Christmas, decorating her sunglasses with a string of Christmas lights.

Hope That Thing is Loaded! 

Does it strike anyone else as weird that Robin Soderling has had so much trouble finding a new coach? He recently split with Magnus Norman, a fellow Swede and former French Open finalist who helped Soderling rise to his present high of No. 5 in the ATP rankings. It was an unexpected break-up, given that they'd only been together two years and Soderling's star is still thought to be ascending. You can read the official (and drearily familiar) parting words here.

One of these days, a player is going to fire a coach who's going to say something like, Hector was a lazy sack of crap and I'm not on this planet to make dinner reservations or midnight runs for M&Ms...

Or conversely, a player will say: I got the inkling something was wrong when, two months into our partnership, Carlos asked me if I were right or left-handed...

Since the predictably amicable split, Soderling has been linked to more names than James Blake's buddy John Mayer (although in Soderling's case they're all male). Among those Soderling, 26, has approached: Fredrik Rosengrin, Peter Lundgren, and Thomas Hogstedt, all countrymen of Soderling. Not that it's helped much. All of them begged off, for various reasons including existing coaching arrangements (Lundgren coaches Stanislas Wawrinka and Hogstedt is working with Maria Sharapova).

Now it looks like Soderling has finally settled on Claudio Pistolesi, the Italian former ATP pro who had one of the cleanest, best-looking games aorund during his heyday, even though he never learned to put it to best use. He hit his career-high ranking (No. 71) in 1987. No matter how you cut it, this seems like an odd fit. Up to now, Pistsolesi was best known for being the husband and coach of Anna Smashnova. He also briefly coached Monica Seles, Michael Berrer, Ai Sugiyama, Davide Sanguinetti and Simone Bolelli, none of whom (with the exception of Seles, in an earlier life) were in any way comparable to Soderling in style, talent, or accomplishments.

You have to wonder about the rationale behind this hire, although we all know that having has a big name or a big game doesn't automatically make you a coaching genius. And sometimes journeymen like Pistolesi pop up as first-rate coaches. But Pistolesi has been knocking around for a good long while, so the chance that he's an undiscovered genius is slim.

The one thing I will say for the move is that in his day, Pistolesi was never afraid to pull the trigger. Like Soderling, he took big cuts and played from the baseline. I suppose sticker-price may have had some affect on the hiring process, but that's just a shot in the dark.

Tina You're Killing My Jaro!

News flash: Martina Navratilova and a team of 27, including Olympic Games badminton star Gail Emms, have begun their seven-day climb of the highest mountain in Africa, Tanzania's Mount Kilimanjaro. Although the mountain rises 19,341 feet above sea level, it isn't technically a difficult climb. Serious mountaineers think of it as a pleasant week-long hike, while you or I might die on a rocky ledge and get our eyeballs pecked out by vultures less than halfway to the top after day two.

The climb is to benefit the Laureus Sport for Good foundation, which...does good. You have to hand it to these folks, they've made a big dent in sports. Hardly a day goes by without someone or other (like Rafa) winning a Laureus award, and their annual awards show/ceremony, a cross between the Cannes Film Festival and the ESPYs, is a glamorous, celebrity-studded affair. I'm not really into that kind of thing, but whatever—the goals are laudable.

Martina plans to hit some tennis balls off the peak of Kilimanjaro, to which I can only say, "Please, Martina, don't..." There's enough garbage up there already, and the very idea is altogether too much like a dog lifting a leg on a fire hydrant. I don't know if Emms plans to whack a few shuttlecocks into the thin air above the talus slopes, but the same goes for her. Save the birdies because the birdies might try to eat them and choke on the indigestible matter.

Otherwise, good luck on the jaunt.

You got 414 words more than I had planned. No extra charge...


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Posted by Andrew 12/07/2010 at 02:09 PM

Afternoon, Pete.

If you aren't a Nadal fan, 2010 was a bit of a disappointment in the ATP. Few genuinely classic matches, players from 2-8 not really burnishing their shields. The world no 1, though, continues to write his name on the front page of the ATP's "best of the Open Era."

Not sure it was a banner year in the WTA, though others (Master Ace?) are better placed to comment than me.

Posted by werd 12/07/2010 at 02:14 PM

Love the gossipy tone of this post. Excellent oasis to keep interest in tennis during the "off-season". Is there an actual crystal cast photo available?

Posted by Cap 12/07/2010 at 02:26 PM

Yooooowwwwwwzzzzzzaaaaaa

Posted by the fan child 12/07/2010 at 02:57 PM

Oh no for Soderling. I guess we'll find out how important Magnus was to him in 2011. For the sake of excitement at the top of the game I'm hoping he wasn't that important, or that his new coach will end up being even more important.

Posted by CherryNYC 12/07/2010 at 03:06 PM

Howdy all -- I was out of the loop during the weekend, so sorry I'm late with this.... but Congrats to Serbia!

I liked the gossipy feel of this, too -- I think it will help with the withdrawal that I'll be suffering until AO starts .... compounded by the fact that it's cold as hail outside already...

I also reacted with a "huh?" to Soderling's announcement .. I don't know a thing about Pistolesi... although my first thought was...what language are they going to speak to each other? There's got to be a Swede available somewhere.... ...


Posted by Master Ace 12/07/2010 at 03:08 PM

Andrew,
Overall, I have to agree that the WTA was not a banner year. It was mostly marred by injuries lead by Serena(not played since Wimbledon), Justine(not played since Wimbledon), Venus(only played USO after Wimbledon) and Kim(missed French Open). Maria stopped her season after she lost in Beijing. If you are a Francesca fan, this was a good year as she finally made it past the QF in a Slam after almost 40 attempts winning the French in the process. Caroline was consistent winning 6 tournaments including Tokyo-Beijing swing in the fall and her record after Wimbledon was 32-4 but did not make a Slam final which probably caused her the WTA player of the year award.

Posted by Master Ace 12/07/2010 at 03:10 PM

Andrew,
Speaking of ATP, 4 of the Top 5 matches occured after USO started. Only match that made their list before USO was the Isner-Mahut 1st round match at Wimbledon.

Posted by Master Ace 12/07/2010 at 03:26 PM

By the way, Kim will play Justine at Antwerp on Thursday.

Posted by CherryNYC 12/07/2010 at 03:27 PM

Also wanted to mention that's a nice pic of the Marquis (sorry, fangirling...) and I totally want to see a fired coach give an interview saying something along the lines of Pete's post.... that would be fabulously entertaining....can you imagine? Although if these players are smart they make these coaches sign an iron-clad confidentiality agreement........ OK, back to work now, unless I can came up with another pointless post so as to avoid actually working ....sigh...... how long til Oz????

Posted by manuelsantanafan 12/07/2010 at 03:30 PM

"Martina plans to hit some tennis balls off the peak of Kilimanjaro, to which I can only say, 'Please, Martina, don't...' There's enough garbage up there already,. . . . I don't know if Emms plans to whack a few shuttlecocks into the thin air above the talus slopes, but the same goes for her. Save the birdies because the birdies might try to eat them and choke on the indigestible matter."
___________________

Sort of my initial impression when I read about Martina hitting those tennis balls.

Don't know anything about that mountain's summit. Would the hit balls be easily retrievable?

If Martina and/or her minions aren't planning to retrieve said ball, better to leave them unhit at the summit.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 12/07/2010 at 03:33 PM

The authors of the best storylines on the WTA tour in 2010:

Francesca Schiavone

and

Kimiko

Date

Krumm

Posted by CherryNYC 12/07/2010 at 03:33 PM

FYI, Martina is blogging at http://blog.laureus.com/
Honestly, I'm a little worried about her...

Posted by Colette 12/07/2010 at 03:37 PM

CherryNYC, had the same thoughts as you. Pete, thanks so much for feeding my addiction during the off-season, and I literally LOL'd at your real-truth-behind-the-break-up scenarios, especially "I got the inkling something was wrong when, two months into our partnership, Carlos asked me if I were right or left-handed..."

Maybe the next Labrador to climb Kilimanjaro will be happy to retrieve
a few tennis balls.

Posted by Colette 12/07/2010 at 03:41 PM

CNYC, thanks, too, for the link for Martina's blog.

Posted by Andrew 12/07/2010 at 03:49 PM

The list of ATP matches Master Ace refers to is here:

http://bit.ly/hsqxg2

I watched all the matches with the exception of Isner-Mahut.

My definition of high quality tennis is two good players playing well at the same time. I saw several good sets of tennis this year, few good matches, and no classics - ones that you'll get on DVD and pull out 20 years from now with pleasure.

I thought Federer was well below his best for both Federer-Djokovic and Federer-Monfils. This has nothing to do with the match outcome: just an observation on Federer's level of play. Similarly for Murray-Nadal - I didn't think either player produced his best level of tennis for long spells in the match. There were some thrilling rallies, but no long sustained passages of magical play - at the time, I called it A- rather than A+, and (although I have it on the DVR) I don't feel inclined to change that view. It was genuinely enjoyable, but not (I feel) a great match.

Not sure what to think about Llodra-Soderling. It might have been a better match than Nadal-Murray - it certainly had higher level tennis than Federer-Monfils, the second SF of the day.

Posted by JB (FOOPs unite!!!) 12/07/2010 at 03:55 PM

*waves at Pete* i'm liking the snippets you've provided here. hopefully we'll survive for another few weeks!

and THANK YOU for mentioning Davide Sanguinetti, I've been trying to remember his name for ages. Er, I was thinking about that match with Paradorn Schrichipan (sorry, spelling atrocious I'm sure) at the US Open, years ago.

uhm. that prolly certified my status as a tennis nerd didn't it?

Soderling! that's current! I dunno that its so odd he couldn't find a new coach, I think finding a good fit, someone that he's comfortable with is important. Plus he wants someone to travel almost full time, right? So that's also a consideration. We'll see how they make out - I don't want his game to backslide... Its been fun watching him conquer his mental demons these last few years. :)

And look how long its taken Murray... and he may go into 2011 sans coach.

Posted by CherryNYC 12/07/2010 at 03:57 PM

I thought Sod-Llodra was just superb -- maybe one reason it was so memorable was that you didn't necessarily expect those two to come out and play a classic....

Isner-Mahooooooo is my hands--down number one. I watched the fifth set on a stream at work and followed along and posted with the TWibe -- a great experience I'll always remember.

Posted by JB (FOOPs unite!!!) 12/07/2010 at 03:57 PM

Andrew - agreed on the quality of play on those matches.

Think Sod / Llodra was stellar though, on all counts.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 12/07/2010 at 04:00 PM

Lots of goodies in this post, Pete. Thanks.

So, Serena's awesome in so many ways. Love the cast. Hope she gets better soon. geesh. stubborn injury.

Don't like Soderling's coaching choice. But what do I know?

Nice to hear that Nenad's a nice guy off-court.

Hope Martina's climb is a huge success and she sees some mountain gorillas. That's a climb I would love to do some day, precisely because it's not too strenuous (but you can still get altitude sickness). It's not easy by any stretch.

Thanks Cherry, for the link to her blog. Can't wait to look at it.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 12/07/2010 at 04:02 PM

jb: yes, i believe that qualifies you as a tennis nerd. congrats! I think Murray has the luxury of waiting for the exact right person because he's got his original coach in his mom, don't you think?

Posted by Simon 12/07/2010 at 04:10 PM

And i hope that the world #1 continues to write his name on the front page of the ATP's "best of the Open Era",

Posted by Colette 12/07/2010 at 04:17 PM

Apropos of nothing (hey, it's the off season), I always thought Anna Smashnova had a great tennis name.

Posted by Amit 12/07/2010 at 04:24 PM

Andrew - am with you on Federer being rather underwhelming at various points this year. Losing to Nadal at Wimby'08 or AO'09 was painful as a fan, but I wouldn't quibble about his level of play. Fed just played bad tennis during the FO-Halle-Wimby stretch and I didn't expect him to deflate so badly at the US Open semis - thought he had a legitimate shot at beating Nadal, given how they both were playing up until the quarters. Oh, well...

Nsdal has won a lot this year - banner year in terms of results, really. But at the risk of ticking off Nadal fans, I don't think his level was comparable to 2008. Post clay season, Rafa played mediocre tennis (by his standards) over long stretches in several matches, in my view.

Posted by Ruth 12/07/2010 at 04:27 PM

Loved this, Pete! Now I know why my own 4-week tennis break MUST include coming to TW and reading your posts.

Anna Smashnova Pistolesi -- I remember thinking what a smart lady she was to marry someone whose last name only enhanced the tennis-appropriateness of her own last name.

Smash that ball! Pull that trigger! LOL

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro 2010 YE #1 12/07/2010 at 04:36 PM

Love Martina, but feel her recent comments about Caro doing "lousy" at the slams when she made it to the quarter and semi of slams is just ridiculous. So many people are now jealous of Caro's success when she has worked so HARD for everything she got and deserve it. I'm proud of her. Kom sa, Caro. Don't like the fact that Norman and Robin have parted. Feel he did so much for him.

Posted by Jay 12/07/2010 at 04:44 PM

Glad that I was not the only one with a sneer over Navratilova latest adventure. I admire her on-court achievements, which are phenomenal. And she seems to be a wonderful person. But I've felt, since her various returns and retirements, that she has not adjusted to life as a former champion, out of the spotlight.

Not to start a Chris/Martina debate, but to me, Evert seems to have moved into her post-playing career with more grace. Somewhere between Steffi's total absence from tennis for a few years (almoost hiding in the stands during Andre's last years), to Martina's constant "look at what I'm now".

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro 2010 YE #1 12/07/2010 at 04:45 PM

Good luck to Maria, but don't think coaching is her problem, it's her game has not been the same since her shoulder surgery. But good luck to her.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 12/07/2010 at 04:48 PM

Jay: martina and chris are very different people. Hard to compare their private lives. Chris was raising children for a long time. Martina was always outspoken and political from a young age. She defected at age 17!
I love her. She's always been my favorite woman player.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/07/2010 at 04:50 PM

*waves hello*

I like the "Around the world in 1000 (and a bit) words" pieces. :) Wish Murray would find a coach to suit.

Even being a Rafa fan, and being thrilled with his particular 2010 - starting with Monte Carlo, that is, 'cause bits of it before then didn't look so good - I think it's possible to be disappointed with the ATP's 2010 in terms of vintage tennis and great matches. Particularly through till Wimbledon - guess that was partly because half the top 10 seemed to be either injured or just plain out of form.

I enjoyed a lot of matches, but don't feel spoilt for choice for marvellous ones that I'll never forget. Enjoyed lots of performances, too, even if they weren't great matches in themselves...Rafa's play at Monte Carlo made me happy in that regard. And there were plenty of good moments - JJ and Ljubicic winning in IW, Schiavone's FO win.

WTA matches that seemed like good ones - Kim-Henin had some dramatic ones even if they weren't entirely perfect; AO final was fun; Stosur-Serena QF at the French.

Posted by Ruth 12/07/2010 at 04:51 PM

JB: Yes! I remember that Pardorn-Sanguinetti match at the USO. It was one of the best 5-set matches I'd ever seen -- certainly kept me from leaving to go watch pieces of other matches, as I usually did when those 3/5's went on too long. :). I remember people standing three- to four-deep in that elevaed area between Armstrong and the Grandstand and leaning over the railing, totally enthralled by the play of those two guys.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/07/2010 at 04:53 PM

Can't think why Martina would be jealous of Caroline's success.

Posted by Andrew 12/07/2010 at 05:02 PM

Amit: I agree with your 4:24pm observation on Nadal's results compared with his level of play. In the 2008 run from the beginning of the clay court season to the USO SF he played astonishing tennis, including a 33 match win streak, if memory serves. And his level of play at Wimbledon 2008 and AO 2009 was above the level he showed at Wimbledon 2010 and USO 2010, IMV.

That's not meant to denigrate Nadal: it's similar to saying Federer didn't play at the same level in 2007 as he did in 2006, even though he reached a RG F and won all three other slams and a YEC in both years.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro 2010 YE #1 12/07/2010 at 05:04 PM

Well Jewell, Caro is now the it girl of the WTA and the reigning world's no l.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/07/2010 at 05:12 PM

And Martina's the GOAT...oh well, perhaps she's mourning her lost youth or something. Or maybe she just thinks Caroline's slam results could be better than they have been this year? Anyway hopefully Caroline will step up and take a slam next year, would be nice to see. :)

Posted by Jay 12/07/2010 at 05:12 PM

I know what you mean, Annie. They are all different people. Chris has raised kids and had three marriages, so I guess its not a good comparison. With all of that going on, not much time to stay in the tennis spotlight.

I like Martina, too. She's overcome many mountains in her lifetime, but this one does not interest me.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/07/2010 at 05:15 PM

I'll add some fan agreement to your 4.24, Amit. :)

Posted by Texastennis 12/07/2010 at 05:23 PM

Jay - agree totally with Martina constantly seeking the spotlight and not apparently finding a post tennis life that satisfies her. Plus yet to Pete and MSF on the ridiculousness of this Kilimanjaro stunt with the tennis balls.
Great player and happy to see her recover from cancer but it would be nice if she could find some more center to her life apparently as part of that rather than constant publicity seeking. I find that very wearing and I have to remind myself how much fun it was to watch her play as that gets more distant. I don't think it's worth giving her comments on Caro two seconds really as she usually seems to speak before she gets her brain into gear...

Evert - she's had her own (multiple) bumps it seems post tennis!

Very very difficult for many former champs to find their way post retirement it seems. Graf seems very unusual in fact in the way she's made her own path very successfully and happily apparently in the aftermath of a tennis career. Too many of them can't seem to move past their youths:-)

My new year's tennis wish is going to be for Murray to find a coach who he listens to and Djokovic to build on the Davis Cup success and USO final to step up more consistently!

Posted by manuelsantanafan 12/07/2010 at 05:27 PM

Amit, 4:24, Andrew, 5:02,

You two could be correct, altho it's a close call, which I believe that you two are suggesting. Keep in mind that Rafa did play a very poor opening match at the 2008 Olympics--luckily, his opponent played even worse--Rafa failed to take advantage of an ungodly number break points in a fall match against Simon, and Rafa had to miss the YEC, the Davis Cup because of an injury which led him to retire from a match.

Altho Rafa has made some improvements in his game since 2008 (which don't always show up in his matches), his topspin backhand in baseline rallies was often more inconsistent in 2010 than it was in 2008 and his ROS--never the strongest aspect of his game--was abysmal for long stretches in 2010.

And he still won three majors, etc. I'd like to have his "problems" on the court.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/07/2010 at 05:30 PM

Think I am going to bed. 'Night all. :)

Posted by Jay 12/07/2010 at 05:34 PM

Texastennis: Like minds!

Posted by Aube,Love might be a mistake but it's worth making...Lee Ann Womack!!! 12/07/2010 at 05:34 PM

Steffi Graff is a classy lady in lots of ways,not just in hitting the ball and winning multiple grand slams,the way she conducted herself post-tennis is simply legendary...
Also she's got a life!!!and not the least!!!

Posted by CL 12/07/2010 at 05:34 PM

I do agree about hitting the tennis balls off of the mountain.. Seems environmentally and scenic-ly misplaced. Maybe there is a plan to retrieve them and have MN sign them to be auctioned off more charity $$? Other than that, I have no problem with a publicity hound. At least Martina did something in her life to earn some celebrity.

I thought Soderling/llodra was a terrific match...one of my favs all season. I was so exhausted from watching that, that it buffered... a little...the Fed loss to Gael for me. (Not the blown MPS though..no help for that.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro 2010 YE #1 12/07/2010 at 05:38 PM

Totally agree TT, kind of sad when you think about it. At some point, the spotlight will dim and like you said, you have to find other things, besides attention getting, but good luck to her.

Posted by CL 12/07/2010 at 05:38 PM

VERY nice picture of Robin, BTW.

Posted by Fernando 12/07/2010 at 06:07 PM

As we look forward to 2011, I have always thought that Murray would challenge Rafa at the French Open. I do not understand why Murray's game doesn't translate well to clay. He is a fantastic defensive player with wonderful speed and anticipation and makes very few unforced errors. He is also a very patient tactician who constructs points very well. What am I missing?

Posted by Andrew 12/07/2010 at 06:17 PM

jewell: does this make Martina a Mountain GOAT? (Sorry, couldn't resist...)

manuelsantanafan: I have Nadal's "golden period" extending from the clay season to the defeat by Soderling at RG 2009. Players don't necessarily bring their A+ game to every match, and defeats to worthy opponents (Djokovic Cincinnati SF 2008, Murray USO SF 2008, Simon Madrid SF 2008) as well as the occasional close call victory are part of the game.

Federer fans, I think, have the same feeling about 2007. The period from IW to Hamburg wasn't much fun - Federer ended up winning Hamburg, but he barely survived a tight opening match with Juan Monaco, and wasn't too convincing against Ferrer and Moya later in the tournament.

Federer was also well beaten by Nalbandian in Madrid and Bercy later in the season, and won the YEC after a first match loss (good scrap, though) to Gonzalez and a scratchy win over Davydenko. Many people alleged that Federer was back to his best after beating Roddick, Nadal and Ferrer in straights at the end of that tournament - I (honestly) didn't think Federer was genuinely improving his game in the absence of a top flight coach, and was beginning to fret...

However, as you say, we should all have such "problems."

Posted by Kris 12/07/2010 at 06:25 PM

Talking about the Top 5 matches list, there's a part of me that agrees with Nadal/Murray being #1 - but only if you combine the first two sets of their Australian Open, the semis of Wimbledon, and the WTF match.

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 12/07/2010 at 06:32 PM

Speaking of Zimonjic, Pete, I got the sense that having to go the full five sets also played a factor, as the dooubles specialists' competitive gas line is built to extend only to a third-set champions tiebreak. Somewhere in that third set, I suspect, he had a difficult time maintaining his intensity. It didn't help that Clement got his pilot light working just in time or that Troicki suffered a drop in play, especially at net--but let's also not forget that troicki nearly single-handedly won the first two sets for the Serbian pair. Someething told me early in that match that the French team's strategy to "pick on" Troicki early and often might backfire, and it did. But in the end, sticking to that strategy and simply upping their return games did the trick.

I also felt that, if us old hardened amateur warriors can shed any light on the mental game of the pros, troicki would be eager to avenge that five-set loss to Llodra, and would be about as fire up and focused as any player could be. I do think that perhaps a more steady and cagey player like Simojn might have teased the errors out of the bigger-hitting, less patient Roicki (or Tipsarevic, for that matter), but second-guessing is really not my shtick, so I supported Forget's decision. After all, Llodra had certainly earned the right to play for the tie, wouldn't you agree?

Posted by Amit 12/07/2010 at 06:32 PM

Andrew @6.17pm,

You articulate the Federer stretches in 2007 very well. I wrote a post along these lines that was eaten up somehow. Several people played Federer close-ish in 2006, but I never felt that he wouldn't win. Upward gear-click was just a matter of time in every match. Example would be Nadal at YEC'06 - that Rafa would beat most top-5 players convincingly, yet couldn't get a set off Fed.

Fed's 2006 was like Nadal's 2008, level of play-wise. Their next nearest peak is somewhat subdued, and discernibly so. Pretty darn high peaks, both.

Posted by Diane 12/07/2010 at 06:37 PM

Andrew

Martina as mountain goat may be the best commenmt that I have read all year on TW!

So busy but I will say that to Samantha...Martina is not jealous of Caro, that made me laugh. They are not in the same universe!

If Martina is outspoken, good for her as she took lots of hits during her time in the limelight.

Hopefully today, a player's sexuality will not determine thier marketability.

Posted by Amit 12/07/2010 at 06:50 PM

Martina Navratilova is jealous of Caroline Wozniacki's GS 4th-rd/SF/QF appearances? Okay...

Posted by Grant 12/07/2010 at 06:56 PM

"Martina is not jealous of Caro, that made me laugh."

No no no, whenever anybody says something you don't like, it's because of that person's jealousy or some sort of character defect. It's not simply that the person is wrong (or even -gasp!- right), it's that something is wrong with the person. Also, I am rolling my eyes so hard right now that I'm starting to get a headache.

Posted by Grant 12/07/2010 at 06:57 PM

"Martina Navratilova is jealous of Caroline Wozniacki's GS 4th-rd/SF/QF appearances? Okay..."

she envies anyone who isn't suffering from a debilitating case of 'trophy-polisher's-wrist'

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro 2010 YE #1 12/07/2010 at 06:58 PM

Guys, turn on HSN. I just bought my boyfiend's sister one of Serena's style Sequin Cardigan for Christmas. I got her blue, really pretty with leggings, it was only $49.OO. Beautiful clothes from Serena, love the Bergundy trenchcoat. Serena is really good selling her stuff, she is wearing her boot and she has little gems on it.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro 2010 YE #1 12/07/2010 at 07:08 PM

She has a really cute cardigan only $24.OO that I got for my girlfriend.

Posted by Diane 12/07/2010 at 07:13 PM

Grant

Hope your headache is getting better!

Samantha

Missed the Serena spot on HSN but for all who are interested, she will be back live @10:00 P.M.

Posted by Aube,Love might be a mistake but it's worth making...Lee Ann Womack!!! 12/07/2010 at 07:41 PM

Sam E,the boot on Serena's feet make me sad,all gems aside!I liked her skinny Jeans,hope it will come out like advertised or better,i don't like to buy atuff without seing it...
Now about Martina being jealous,I know you can not be serious!!!

Posted by Aube,Love might be a mistake but it's worth making...Lee Ann Womack!!! 12/07/2010 at 07:43 PM

oops,I meant I don't like to buy stuff without seing it,sorry!

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro 2010 YE #1 12/07/2010 at 07:47 PM

In regards to Martina, I think some people are missing the point. Martina herself said that because she was gay, she was denied the endorsements money and attention that her rival Evert received. And of course this was wrong and she resented it. The success I was talking about was the endorsement and popularity Caro is receiving not only for her immense talent but because her looks are very marketable. She is the face of Stella McCartney as well as many other companies which she earned. Kom sa, Caro!! World's no l.

Posted by Diane 12/07/2010 at 08:05 PM

Sam Elin

No argument with the fact that Caro is pretty and very marketable, she is a huge asset to the WTA.
She just needs to win a few more big tournaments and a Slam wouldn't hurt to put her in the same sentence as Martina.

Caro has time to get there; talent......I'm just not sure about that yet. Love her consistancy but her overall game has never elevated my heart rate. Sorry Sam but that's the way I see Caro now. It could change as she is improving all the time.

Need to say good night and watch Glee, my guilty pleasure.

Posted by CL 12/07/2010 at 08:11 PM

Fernando - I think it is that Murray, despite all his time in Spain, is utterly clueless on clay. It isn't just about speed or even court movement. He is like someone who has learned to 'speak' a language purely through mimicry. it seems to me, that at bottom, Murray really doesn't 'trust' clay, and therefore doesn't trust his game on clay.

Posted by Simon 12/07/2010 at 08:13 PM

The best match played in London was Nadal/Murray and I believe that both players are agree with that
Nice words from Murray and Nadal

http://www.atpworldtour.com/News/Tennis/2010/12/Other/Best-Matches-Of-The-Year.aspx

Posted by Just another lurker 12/07/2010 at 08:53 PM

TT and Jay: +1
Nothing against Martina but remember she got more mileage by criticizing Agassi after the book release.
Graf is a class of her own, a very reluctant celebrity, tought to find someone like that in today's world.

Posted by Christopher 12/07/2010 at 08:54 PM

I would imagine that Martina's point is not that Caro's results in the slams are bad for a randomly chosen professional tennis player, but rather that they are bad for a player who is ranked #1 in the world.

At the AO, where she was the 4th seed, she lost to Li Na, the 16th seed, in the 4th round. At RG she was seeded 3rd and lost to Schiavone, the 17th seed, in easy straights in the 4th round (though extra credit for losing to the person who ultimately won the event). At Wimbledon she was seeded 3rd and destroyed by the unseeded Kvitová 2 and 0 in the 4th round. As top seed at the USO she lost in straights to the 7th seed Zvonareva.

Losing your final matches in straight sets in all of the slams and only once to someone in the top ten seems to be objectively bad results for a player who was in the top 4 all year and finished as #1.

The slams are not the only story and Caro by definition deserves her #1 ranking for her overall results, but Martina doesn't need jealousy to think that those are lousy slam results for a player of Caro's obviously high caliber.

Posted by Angel of the Surf (Flavia and Gisela YEC Doubles Champion and Winner of 7 Titles in 2010) 12/07/2010 at 09:36 PM

Hi everyone

Marge work has come through in the HC and offered me two tickets to any session. I am choosing session 6 Aust v Serbia.

Posted by Angel of the Surf (Flavia and Gisela YEC Doubles Champion and Winner of 7 Titles in 2010) 12/07/2010 at 09:46 PM

Woohoo I am off to watch Aus vs Serbia at HC courtesy of work. Taking another tennis nut from work then we are going the next day to hopefully watch USA vs Italy. So love my job at the moment.

Posted by Angel of the Surf (Flavia and Gisela YEC Doubles Champion and Winner of 7 Titles in 2010) 12/07/2010 at 10:01 PM

Nooo, Robin what have you done. So not happy with this news.

Posted by Vie 12/07/2010 at 10:25 PM

Heartbreaking N E W S: Sampras' trophies were stolen.

"I'm not one to gloat about trophies, or show them off," Sampras said. "I've never been like that. I just want them for my kids to see. They didn't see me play, but I'd like them to see these things."

Christian is 8, Ryan 5. Sampras' last professional match was his 2002 victory over Andre Agassi in the U.S. Open final.

...
http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-1208-dwyre-20101208,0,1757631.column

Posted by Angel of the Surf (Flavia and Gisela YEC Doubles Champion and Winner of 7 Titles in 2010) 12/07/2010 at 10:26 PM

Vie thanks for the info, that really suxs. I hope the gs trophies can be replaced somehow.

Posted by Jay 12/07/2010 at 11:06 PM

Wow. That does suck. Keep your eyes on Ebay, everyone!

Posted by Pspace 12/08/2010 at 12:25 AM

LOL. If Sampras liked his trophies so much, WTH were they doing in a pulic storage facility ?!?!?!

Regarding the Soderling-Norman split-up - Didn't Norman "injure" himself during Wimbledon? Playing squash? Given the way the Tiger Woods story broke, I'm wondering if there's more to this than a game of squash ;-). Images of Soderling chasing Norman with a tennis racquet....wait...wasn't Tiger's ex-wife Swedish as well?

Posted by Pspace 12/08/2010 at 12:28 AM

Ah! I know! Sampras is so cheap that....he decided that he only needed a trophy room as big as Nalby's refrigerator!

Posted by bengoshi 12/08/2010 at 12:28 AM

As for Martina's post-tennis activities, I have never seen them as "publicity seeking." She has been very active for the gay community for so many years, and when she makes appearances on television etc it is usually for a charitable non-gay cause rather than to just sell a book or plug a purely profit-seeking endeavor. As someone who remembers the years when she was struggling to become a personable American rather than just a muscular East European lesbian (which is a nice way to say how many people used to refer to her), I continue to marvel at her development into a handsome, articulate and thoughtful, yet outspoken and effective, "woman of a certain age."

Posted by NP 12/08/2010 at 12:37 AM

P, that's a pretty big room.

Posted by Pspace 12/08/2010 at 12:47 AM

Haha, NP. Big enough for most men, maybe. But, a little to small for a GOAT.

Posted by NP 12/08/2010 at 12:54 AM

P, maybe the room was stuffed with too much clay.

On a more serious note, I don't think Pete has much to worry about. These things tend to turn up eventually. But that's easy for me to say. I've never owned anything that I care about but which couldn't be replaced.

Posted by zenggi 12/08/2010 at 12:54 AM

Good morning,

Pspace,
You are in Swedish gossip mode! I would like for all the Vikings to have dimples like these:
http://survivordean.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/robin-soderling1.jpg

Spanish gossip now: Nadal has promised Albert Costa that he'll play DC against Belgium in Charleroi on March 4th-6th.

Nadal, Ferrer, Soderling and Berdych have confirmed already that they'll play the clay tournament in Barcelona.

Poor Pete. All those wonderful trophies...

Posted by Aussiemarg,MadamePresident,Rafa Is Still My No 1!!! 12/08/2010 at 12:56 AM

Hmmm more Goat talk? lol!

Well Martina's records speaks for itself

Though being a Aussie Margaret Courts record today still stands unbeaten

Just saying lol!

Climb every Mountain Hmmm Sound Of Music springs to my mind

Posted by zenggi 12/08/2010 at 12:56 AM

NP,
What about your Hameling autograph?

Posted by Aussiemarg,MadamePresident,Rafa Is Still My No 1!!! 12/08/2010 at 12:58 AM

Hell I wont tell hubby he has a wonky irregular heart beat as it is?

He would die at the thought of Petes trophies being stolen?

I will have to keep it a secret

He goes back to work tomorrow

Posted by NP 12/08/2010 at 12:59 AM

zenggi, that can replaced given the right $$$.

Posted by Aussiemarg,MadamePresident,Rafa Is Still My No 1!!! 12/08/2010 at 01:00 AM

Pspace Seeing I wont be around for the Hopman Cup

I just want to to know my Tommy Hopman Cup Legend and the Curse of Andy Murray wont be playing this year

He is such a considerate man? dont you think

Posted by Aussiemarg,MadamePresident,Rafa Is Still My No 1!!! 12/08/2010 at 01:01 AM

NP I thought as much always thinking of the dollar value?

There is no sentiment in you at all

Its nearly Christmas time as well.

Posted by zenggi 12/08/2010 at 01:01 AM

I would like that some Mourinho-type would turn up as a coach in the ATP.

Can you imagine someone with the power to say that a court looks like a potato field and the ATP changing the surface? The story is real. The Real Madrid Football Club changed the grass in the Bernabeu Stadium because the coach complained about it. Cost:700.000 euros (1 million $)

Posted by Pspace 12/08/2010 at 01:02 AM

AM, that deeapends on whether or not Muzz is playing Hopman this year. Is he? Anyhoo, Nole-Ana/Jelena is the team to watch, I think ;-).

Posted by Aussiemarg,MadamePresident,Rafa Is Still My No 1!!! 12/08/2010 at 01:02 AM

Good Morning Zengii

Posted by NP 12/08/2010 at 01:03 AM

AM, Christmastime is my least favorite time of the year.

Posted by Aussiemarg,MadamePresident,Rafa Is Still My No 1!!! 12/08/2010 at 01:03 AM

Pspace Yes he and Laura are playing ok

Hmmm get with the current program ok

Posted by Aussiemarg,MadamePresident,Rafa Is Still My No 1!!! 12/08/2010 at 01:04 AM

NP Hey I know that

Humbug ok

By the way seeing I wont be around for the Lakers games I will Die if they keep losing

Kobe has to be Mean ok

Posted by Aussiemarg,MadamePresident,Rafa Is Still My No 1!!! 12/08/2010 at 01:06 AM

Well Ana is playing with Nole she and Aussie Golfer Adam Scott have broken up she is also playing Medibank not Brissie tournament.She and Adam usually spend Christmas together at Noosa.

Posted by zenggi 12/08/2010 at 01:07 AM

NP,
I wouldn't sell my Federer various autographed items for anything. I'll keep them in a hat box for my children.

Are you done with your 1000 words essays?

Morning, AM. I'm not very fond of Christmas time.

Posted by NP 12/08/2010 at 01:07 AM

AM, just saw that Kobe had 18 points in the 1st half of the ongoing game against the Wizards. I'd say he's playing more like a Grinch tonite.

Posted by Aussiemarg,MadamePresident,Rafa Is Still My No 1!!! 12/08/2010 at 01:08 AM

zengii I think you have been hanging around NP too much?

Posted by Aussiemarg,MadamePresident,Rafa Is Still My No 1!!! 12/08/2010 at 01:09 AM

NP is there a Lakers game on now?

I will check my TV

Posted by NP 12/08/2010 at 01:10 AM

zenggi, I could write another one on why your boy's autographs should be incinerated for the sake of your children.

Posted by zenggi 12/08/2010 at 01:10 AM

115-108 for the Lakers. At last one win!

Posted by Aussiemarg,MadamePresident,Rafa Is Still My No 1!!! 12/08/2010 at 01:10 AM

Boo out of luck

No game on

Posted by zenggi 12/08/2010 at 01:11 AM

AM,
See NP's next posted comment.

NP,
You never incinerate stuff of legends.

Posted by Aussiemarg,MadamePresident,Rafa Is Still My No 1!!! 12/08/2010 at 01:12 AM

Hell that was close

NP I am not confident at all with their chances

I told you this after I fainted when they lost to the Suns!

Heaven help them

Posted by NP 12/08/2010 at 01:13 AM

AM, actually IC that the game's already over. The Kobies won 115-108.

Kobe scored 32 points, though he was again too generous from the arc (1 out of 6).

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