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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 zenggi 12/08/2010 at 01:13 AM

AM,
You haven't commented on my comment about Nadal playing in Barcelona next year.

Posted by Aussiemarg,MadamePresident,Rafa Is Still My No 1!!! 12/08/2010 at 01:14 AM

NP 1 out of 6?

Dies

We are Doomed

Posted by NP 12/08/2010 at 01:16 AM

zenggi, anything tangible is disposable.

AM, the Kobies are just being generous for the holidays.

Posted by Aussiemarg,MadamePresident,Rafa Is Still My No 1!!! 12/08/2010 at 01:16 AM

zengii I will believe that If it happens ok

Rafa cannot keep that schedule up he will break down again

I will Kill him and myself.I am Not going to RG for nothing

I have already told Kim to being a extra shovel with her so she can bury me in the clay

I will see my boy at the AO 2011

Look out Rafa I am coming to talk some sense into your brain.

Posted by NP 12/08/2010 at 01:18 AM

AM, see above.

And I'm off to incinerate some disposable stuff. Later.

Posted by zenggi 12/08/2010 at 01:19 AM

NP,
The memories and experiences attached to those tangibles are immortal.

AM,
Calm down. No one should frazzle with so much anticipation. It's not good for your health.

Posted by Aussiemarg,MadamePresident,Rafa Is Still My No 1!!! 12/08/2010 at 01:20 AM

NP Hmmmm

We Gonna See No with the Lakers

Try to have a nice Christmas ok even though I know its not your fav time of the year.I will talk to you in 2011.Scary I know.

Posted by Aussiemarg,MadamePresident,Rafa Is Still My No 1!!! 12/08/2010 at 01:22 AM

zengii Rafa isnt good for my health at times

He has a chance to tie with Borg with 6 titles ok

I want to be there to see that.Also I want him to do a Rafa Slam at the AO 2011 again I will be there I hope he is.

Posted by zenggi 12/08/2010 at 01:24 AM

I know how you feel AM.

I'm going to prepare for work.

Posted by Aussiemarg,MadamePresident,Rafa Is Still My No 1!!! 12/08/2010 at 01:26 AM

zengii Though I will be 'stalking Roger" at the AO for his autograph

Hmmm I hope this time I can get it

Posted by Aussiemarg,MadamePresident,Rafa Is Still My No 1!!! 12/08/2010 at 01:28 AM

AA If you are still around I read there are calls for Shane Warne to come out of retirement and help the Aussie team? Hmmmm.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/08/2010 at 01:29 AM

"jewell: does this make Martina a Mountain GOAT?"

I like to think of them all playing happily together in green mountain pastures, really. :)

Morning everyone. :) Not very nice for Sampras to have his trophies stolen.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/08/2010 at 01:31 AM

"SYDNEY (AP)—U.S. Open winner Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina will make his comeback from a 12-month injury layoff at the Sydney International in January after being handed a wild card into the tournament.

Del Potro has been out of action since last year’s Australian Open with a wrist injury, dropping from 4 to 259 on the men’s world rankings. The wild card will allow him to join a field for the Jan. 9-15 tournament which includes Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis and American Sam Querrey.

Organizers confirmed Wednesday that seven of the world’s top 10 women will take part in the Australian Open warm-up event at Sydney Olympic Park."

Sounds like such a great tournament to go to! Looking forward to having JMDP back too.

Posted by Aussiemarg,MadamePresident,Rafa Is Still My No 1!!! 12/08/2010 at 01:32 AM

Morning Jewell

I havent told hubby about the stolen trophies he has a irregular heart beat as you know and is going back to work tommorrow.

Posted by Aussiemarg,MadamePresident,Rafa Is Still My No 1!!! 12/08/2010 at 01:34 AM

Jewell Sorry that is old news by the way lol!

Hoping Del Potro will be ok and I am looking forward to watching him play live.

Medibank has always been a strong tournament for the women this year 9 out of the top 10 women came.Serena usually plays.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/08/2010 at 01:34 AM

Hey AM!

Hopefully they will be recoverable. Sometimes here football players' medals get stolen, sometimes wartime medals - those are the worst somehow - and the press coverage can shame the thieves into returning them.

at the very least perhaps the tennis powers-that-be could provide replacements.

Posted by Aussiemarg,MadamePresident,Rafa Is Still My No 1!!! 12/08/2010 at 01:36 AM

jewell Well they cant be sold can they?

Still I wont let Hubby know

Hell will break out lol!

Posted by Aussiemarg,MadamePresident,Rafa Is Still My No 1!!! 12/08/2010 at 01:42 AM

Well Oprah has arrived in Australia

Sydney has gone Oprah Mad

She is taping 2 shows her final shows by the way at our Opera House now named Oprah House

Hmm I wasnt lucky to get tickets.My friend did.She will probably get a new house,car and travel.Hmmm.Anyway I wont be here.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/08/2010 at 01:44 AM

Maybe they could be melted down and sold as precious metal. :)

Posted by Aussiemarg,MadamePresident,Rafa Is Still My No 1!!! 12/08/2010 at 01:48 AM

Jewell

I am glad NP isnt around he just left

I cant imagine the response you would have got?

Though lol!

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/08/2010 at 01:48 AM

Or maybe Martina stole them as part of her attention-grabbing. (or is it her unresolved jealousy issues of Evert that came out in her criticism of Caroline's results?) She'll be throwing the trophies off Kilimanjaro in a fit of pique, in place of those boring old tennis balls.

Posted by Aussiemarg,MadamePresident,Rafa Is Still My No 1!!! 12/08/2010 at 01:52 AM

Jewell Well it sure beats the hell out of bashing tennis balls from that mountain

I am thinking of Climb Every Mountain

Julie Andrews still rocks my world and my next door neighbours still play the tunes from the Sound Of Music and they are American

Go Figure? lol!

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/08/2010 at 01:53 AM

Confession: I've never watched The Sound of Music.

Posted by Aussiemarg,MadamePresident,Rafa Is Still My No 1!!! 12/08/2010 at 01:57 AM

Jewell I blame that Village

Honestly you havent lived till you have watched Sound Of Music

I nearly became a Nun because of it though being sent to a Catholic school at one stage everyone wanted to be a nun.

Posted by Aussiemarg,MadamePresident,Rafa Is Still My No 1!!! 12/08/2010 at 01:58 AM

Also I have changed brands of Gin

I am now into Kendricks made in Scotland

Hmmmm wonderful drop and refreshing on a hot Summers day like today and I will be going into the cold Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/08/2010 at 02:01 AM

I wish it would warm up a bit here!

It's not the village's fault, film is on TV every Christmas, I just never get round to it.

Posted by Helios 12/08/2010 at 02:06 AM

“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.”
This comment is wrong, but would be OK for casual observer. Specializing journalist should know better. Nenad was winning all this years doubles matches leading players that are not specialized in it, including finishing victory over Croatia. 3 Losses this year have 2 reasons.
First, he was dragging knee injury at year start and he aggravated in London elbow injury.
Second, every loss was weird on its own. Loss to Bryan/Isner was very tight, and actually best I seen Isner play ever, singles included. Loss to very good Berdych/Stepanek is due to Novak having jet-leg and being bad for doubles anyway. Loss to Lodra/Clermont is due to excellent French recovery and due to Troicki droping level in last 3 sets.
“So I'd say forget the pressure to justify your reputation as a top doubles player and specialist—just hit the danged ball.”
This comment is way off. Writing disrespectfully is everyone right – I am OK with this. It is just that this makes no sense at all. Nenad had and is actually doing much better. Journalist should know that when Nenad was supposed to make career years of war and sanctions against serbs prevented him in success. He would not be granted, for instance, visa to go to Rolland Garros – how is one suppose to be up in ranking when he cannot travel? Many of comparable talent – Philippoussis, Henman, Roddick etc. made millions while he was barely surviving and barely practicing. As years passed by the only thing left for him was to piggyback his career in doubles area. There he soon got to top and there is no one better in last 4 years. He has no need to prove anything and no “pressure” was factor in any match. Any tennis journalist should be better informed about world best doubles player.

Posted by Aussiemarg,MadamePresident,Rafa Is Still My No 1!!! 12/08/2010 at 02:07 AM

Jewell You must put in on your lists to watch ok

I also brought Keith Richards auto bio called "Life" to read cant wait to get into that book its a wonder he is still alive.This man told me its one of the best auto bio's he has read in 5 years.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/08/2010 at 02:14 AM

Life got good reviews here. Am surprised he can remember any of it to be honest. :)

Posted by Aussiemarg,MadamePresident,Rafa Is Still My No 1!!! 12/08/2010 at 02:17 AM

Jewell Apparently when he was using Herion he had to ask a close freind about what was going in that period he could not remember

There are soo many books I want to read that I have and havent had the time

Thats going to be one of my new year resolutions make more time to read and to again learn Spanish.I was going soo well too.Things just got in the way as usual.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/08/2010 at 02:19 AM

eek...resolutions. I want to be more tolerant for one thing although I suspect I say that every year and fail. Want to improve my French too.

There's always too many books! Am re-reading The Great Gatsby as I have not picked it up for ages and feel like I missed an awful lot the first time around.

Posted by Aussiemarg,MadamePresident,Rafa Is Still My No 1!!! 12/08/2010 at 02:26 AM

Jewell I adored the Great Gatsby

I also re read books as well

Posted by Aussiemarg,MadamePresident,Rafa Is Still My No 1!!! 12/08/2010 at 02:29 AM

Well I am still in the middle of packing Ugh!

I hope everyone has Happy and Safe holidays

Master Ace I just want to say many thanks to you.Without you here at TW this place would just not work in ways.I cant wait for your theme for the AO 2011 as well.Thank You!

Bye Jewell and take care and I will talk to you in 2011

Bye!

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/08/2010 at 02:31 AM

Bye AM, take care of yourself too. :)

Posted by zenggi 12/08/2010 at 02:56 AM

Hi jewell,
I have a bad hair day! This weather isn't working.

About Del Potro and for all who have been patiently waiting for news from him, he has written a message on twitter.
"I came back to twitter!! I'm training since a couple of weeks again. I'm improving and my hand is allright"

Gauloises, wake up!

Posted by Holds2Love 12/08/2010 at 03:01 AM

Good morning, all. wrt to the Murray comments upthread... During recent coverage my commentators were talking about the Murray coaching situation and Peter Fleming's advice was that Murray not bother with a coach, and that he should just do what he wants to do for now. Maybe he thinks that would work b/c Murray has the rest of his team + Mum to rely on, so it's not like he would be completely unsupported. But I found it odd advice for Murray at this stage of his career. I too have also wondered why Murray hasn't been more successful on clay, given his training in Spain and the qualities of his game. But CL's language analogy is interesting. you know, he's not a 'native speaker' on clay, just had a really good study abroad/immersion program.

Mountain GOAT - :-D play of the day

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/08/2010 at 03:04 AM

Morning zenggi! No let-up in the cold yet? We're still all frozen up - beautiful but goodness, it is cold! I am beginning to wish I could just curl up in bed until warmer days arrive. :)

Posted by zenggi 12/08/2010 at 03:06 AM

More news on Delpo. He was seen last Sunday watching a polo match in Palermo (Argentina not Italy.)
He said": "I would like to play Davis Cup next year and above all I would like to feel healthy. I wish we could repeat what Serbia did"

About his form: "I need to get rhythm. I'ven't played for so long. I'm feeling physically well and training again. Good results in the tournaments will come with time."

Picture: http://bucket.lanacion.com.ar/anexos/fotos/27/1302227w298.jpg

Posted by zenggi 12/08/2010 at 03:09 AM

jewell,
I've already told my children that the moment I retire they won't see their mother between December and March unless they fly to Spain. :)

Here we have fog with a temperature om -8 C. Everything is frozen upon frozen snow. In the mornings is skating if you want it or not. I have had enough.

Posted by Holds2Love 12/08/2010 at 03:10 AM

thanks for the Del Potro updates. Imagine it will be difficult coming back after so much time away, but it will be great to have him back on the tour. 'I would like to play Davis Cup...I wish we could repeat what Serbia did.' Without the head shaving though, ok, Juan Martin?

Posted by zenggi 12/08/2010 at 03:11 AM

jewell,
I cannot believe you haven't seen The Sound of Music. It's impossible!

Posted by zenggi 12/08/2010 at 03:15 AM

Hi Holds2Love, :)
Gauloises would go into a catatonic stupor if Delpo of the emerald eyes shave his hair. We wouldn't want our Gauly to experience such a trauma, so I volunteer as bodyguard for Juan Martín if the occasion arises.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/08/2010 at 03:17 AM

Hi Holds2Love!

I can see arguments for and against Murray getting a coach, but my main reason for wanting him to find one is that he seems to want one. :)

Posted by Holds2Love 12/08/2010 at 03:27 AM

Good morning zenggi and jewell, my fellow Euro-winter sufferers! ;-)

zenggi, your offer to guard JMDP is quite generous and self-sacrificing. :)

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/08/2010 at 03:42 AM

Going to have to brave it out there...see you all later. :)

Posted by Aussiemarg,MadamePresident,Rafa Is Still My No 1!!! 12/08/2010 at 03:46 AM

Hmmm Zengii just popping back in I did send you a email

Hi Holds2Love Hmmm I am going to Summer here to Winter and back

Yikes

Bye again I Hate packing by the way.

Posted by Holds2Love 12/08/2010 at 03:48 AM

yes, I am bundling up and heading out as well. stay warm jewell and zenggi.

zenggi, when you start spending December-March in Spain, you will either have to change your rooting interests or engage in scouting the Armada. ;-)

Posted by Holds2Love 12/08/2010 at 03:49 AM

didn't see you there, AM. hello/good bye, from one who also hates packing.

Posted by zenggi 12/08/2010 at 03:55 AM

Holds2Love,
By the time I spend the winters in Spain the Spanish Armada would have joined the previous one in the history books. Maybe by then the Army of Flanders will take their rightful place in the ATP-tour. :)

As alternative I offer the Swiss Guards (read Roger's twins) for the WTA.

AM,
Checking hotmail...

Posted by zenggi 12/08/2010 at 04:09 AM

Holds2Love,
On the matter of "rooting", my interests are diversified among various (a dozen?) players but there is the ONE who takes preference above all others. I cannot help myself. :)

Posted by Holds2Love 12/08/2010 at 04:16 AM

well, as one old enough to have scouted the original Armada, it will be interesting to see what the future holds in store. :) off now, have a lovely day!

Posted by gauloises 12/08/2010 at 04:32 AM

Can I add to the others who have said they love these '1000 Words' posts? Great way to keep us ticking over during these long, barren winter days of no tennis (two so far).

I had all sorts of things to say but they fled from my mind when I saw that Andrew had made the 'mountain GOAT' joke I've been saving up since I first heard Martina was climbing Kilimanjaro. Bad Andrew. Bad.

Also ... yes indeed, Delpo is tweeting. This is good as it means he's alive.

Posted by susan 12/08/2010 at 05:45 AM

i don't like the idea of martina hitting tennis balls off kiliminjaro. just as foolish as agassi when he started doing the same thing off that tower in dubai when he and federer played on the helicopter pad. unfortunately, federer like an obedient, unthinking puppy followed. the balls ended up in the sea. agassi was apparently trying to spark up a rather boring segment. showman.

Posted by gauloises 12/08/2010 at 05:58 AM

Martina's own explanation of why she's climbing Kilimanjaro:

The mountains, streams and rainbows of Martina Navratilova’s life have been an abundantly enlightening backdrop to the sport she played so wonderfully. The dreaming endures.

This week another peak, and as she took her first steps yesterday on Mount Kilimanjaro — “it’s just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other and keep going” — respect for her grew in proportion to the sheer rock above.

Navratilova has scaled her share of summits. Be it as the chubby player from Czechoslovakia who took women’s tennis to a new physical level; who double-dated Dino Martin, Dean’s son — “he liked my muscles” — and Desi Arnez Jr, Lucille Ball’s son, with Chris Evert then became the first woman in tennis to say she was proud to be gay; the animal-rights campaigner; the astounding champion; Navratilova has never been shy of a challenge. There are plenty of motifs she may want to plant upon Kilimanjaro’s tip on Sunday morning.

In actuality, the 54-year-old is doing this for the Laureus Sport For Good Foundation, for the betterment of others and yet just as much for herself. When she accepted the challenge a year ago, how could the woman who won 167 singles titles, with nine Wimbledons among her 18 grand-slam singles crowns, have known that within two months she would have broken her right arm and then received a diagnosis of breast cancer? “It was a really lousy start to the year,” she said before the final ascent, the personification of understatement. “I’m here in one piece.

“When people used to ask me how I was, I’d say, ‘I’ve got my ten fingers, ten toes.’ Now I say, ‘Ten fingers, ten toes and two boobs.’ At one point that was in doubt but I dodged the bullet.”

Was it because she kept herself so fit that fortune favoured her? “It was a clean break and normally people have to get their bones pinned and it doesn’t heal well,” she said. “The cancer was a good kind, it was minuscule.

“I know it [being in good shape] helped getting through the radiation. I took two naps and didn’t play tennis one day and that’s the limit I had from it. If anything I put on a few pounds because I wasn’t training as much. I got through it pretty unscathed.”

She felt she could not keep news of the diagnosis to herself. “Talking about it has been the hardest thing other than having learned for the first time that I had it,” she said. “It’s a small price to pay for having to make a difference and I know we have saved some lives. But it’s the same with my [tennis] records, I don’t think about those unless someone mentions them.”
They were read out to a group of Nairobi children before Navratilova presented the prizes at the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) cup finals. They were not much on anyone’s mind later when she descended into the slums to where the same kids she had watched play football on dirt pitches returned to their daily lives, a place where the dogs chew incessantly at their fur, the goats refuse to drink from the sewage-filled creeks, where one sentence the children with so much sadness in their eyes constantly repeat to visitors is: “How are you?”
The foundation stone at MYSA was laid by Sir Bobby Charlton and Ed Moses, two more of the selfless Laureus ambassadors, and here is Navratilova, in the company of Kipchoge Keino, the former Kenyan gold medal-winning distance runner, back to witness its progress. There is poverty and poverty, of course, and the hardships Navratilova endured as a child in communist Czechoslovakia were nothing compared with the lives of the Mathare children she is trying to change by climbing Kilimanjaro.
“It is about making money and starting new projects,” Navratilova said. “I may read about what this has done 20 years from now but I know we will make a difference. It’s all positive.”
Why the Sir Chris Bonington bit? “I was hoping I might do it privately but when I agreed to do it this way, I didn’t know there was going to be this much publicity,” she said. “If I fail, a whole lot of people are going to know about it, but on the flip side it will hopefully encourage people to do more in their own lives. I’m completely out of my comfort zone in terms of knowledge and experience but bloody hell I’d better get to the top.
“The years of pushing myself will come in handy because I know it’s going to be hard to keep going and it doesn’t ease up until you start coming down. It will be five days of it getting worse and that’s unusual because if you have a hard workout, you rest. This is just ‘keep going, going and going’, and you probably don’t get much rest when you are resting because you can’t sleep at that altitude. I’ll only be satisfied when I get to the top.”
Given that this week is all about improving the life of others, what was the single most generous act of kindness paid to her? “It would have to be the cumulative effort of my parents and my first coach, George Parma,” she said. “I had a try-out and he saw something and he agreed to coach me for nothing for three years. My parents couldn’t have afforded what he was charging in a communist country. That was probably the single most generous act of kindness and here I am.
“By the time I was inducted into the [International Tennis] Hall of Fame he couldn’t travel and he passed away a couple of years ago and I really wanted him there. He never saw me play Wimbledon, he didn’t want any part of it, so selfless, and he was such a nice man. That was the biggest break because he wasn’t my father, he just did it.
“My dad learned everything from him and then he became my coach and spent endless hours on the court with me. And Mum as well, playing with her and she was always having the dinner ready for us when we got home from the court.”
Those memories and many others will sustain her up the mountainside these next few days. What more is there to come from this remarkable athlete? “I’m not done yet,” she said. “I could have done more. I look at Andre Agassi and see what he’s raised through his foundation but I haven’t had the opportunities to do that, with him living in Vegas, working the politicians, the big schmoozing. I didn’t know the people who could help me get started and bankroll this kind of adventure. So I didn’t mind doing it on my terms and at my level.”

Once down from Kilimanjaro, she returns to more familiar mountaintops in Aspen, Colorado, for Christmas and then to Australia for the start of the new year of tennis. “Rafael Nadal excites me more than anyone to see how he has grown as a player,” she said. “As unbelievable as Roger Federer is, he started with the full package but Nadal now has the serve out wide or down the T in the ad [advantage] court, the sliced backhand which is a weapon, drop shots, drop volleys, he comes in and it’s fantastic to watch, no weaknesses and he keeps adding.
“Serena [Williams, who has not played since winning Wimbledon] should never have played the exhibition in Belgium I umpired against Kim Clijsters. She was limping through the match and her foot was bleeding afterwards. I’m like, ‘Why?’ Now she’s had surgery and isn’t ready to go.
“I hope Caroline Wozniacki wins [a grand-slam title] real fast to justify being No 1. She won as many tournaments as Serena played last year. Wozniacki was consistent but lousy in the slams and Serena played wonderfully in slams but didn’t do anything else.
As for her tennis — “I would love to be in better shape than I am,” she “I would love to be in better shape than I am,” she said. “It’s functional. I’m still pretty slow on the court; damn it, I want to get to that ball, it pisses me off. I need to play more and train more for that but I’m really slow because I’ve been doing long-distance stuff to get ready for the climb.”

A different dream — a different mountaintop.

• Martina Navratilova is climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, a charity helping the lives of more than one million disadvantaged young people worldwide through sports-based projects. To donate, visit laureus.com

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/sport/tennis/article2835340.ece

Posted by Lennon 1980 12/08/2010 at 06:07 AM

Good morning to all. 30 years ago tonight we lost a musical genius and visionary. John Lennon would be 70 years old had he lived. Take the time today to listen to Rubber Soul or Revolver, two of the Beatles best in my opinion. Cheers, John, I raise a glass to you, wherever you are!

Posted by Tic 12/08/2010 at 06:15 AM

Flip through the many pages of the first issue of Italian Tennis Magazine (great looking, except for that rather unfortunate harshly lit cover pic of Federer):
http://is.gd/inRm7

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro 2010 YE #1 12/08/2010 at 06:30 AM

That was funny Pspace and yes Tiger's wife is Swedish, her name is Elin, spelled the same as my middle name and if she did hit Tiger with those clubs, can anyone blame her???

Posted by Tic 12/08/2010 at 06:37 AM

To wash away that unpleasant 70 y.o. look, here's a proposed affiche for Nadal-Federer Madrid exo (with the slogan "United For Childhood"):
http://yfrog.com/jud1i0j

Posted by temes 12/08/2010 at 06:38 AM

I too protest hitting tennis balls into nature lol! Unless they are made of corn flour or something.

Posted by Corrie 12/08/2010 at 06:49 AM

It's just stupid to hit those tennis balls off the top. Kilamenjaro is a massive mountain and they won't be retrieved. But hopefully Martina won't hit them far enough so they won't reach beyond the high altitude desert and therefore no animals further down will be unfortunate enough to eat them.

Why is Robin ditching Magnus? Surely Magnus is a major reason for the improvement in his tennis career?

Posted by gauloises 12/08/2010 at 06:52 AM

We don't know that Robin's ditching Magnus. It could just as well be the other way around. In fact, that's how I heard it - Magnus doesn't want to travel so much any more and is getting more involved with tennis academies in Sweden/the Swedish federation.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro believe 12/08/2010 at 07:46 AM

I read a lot of the Swedish on line sources and from what I can gather it was Norman's decision. I read that he wants to settle down and start an academy in Sweden. NP, I hope you have a great Christmas and sorry to hear that it is your least favorite time of the year. I'm having a blast shopping, eating out at restaurants and I take my finals next week and will be off from college for over a month. Guys, you really need to check out Serena's clothes on HSN, so far I bought two cardigans. Her stuff is very beautiful, classy, modern. She had a trench coat to die for which sold out. I think it is very smart of her to go into other endeavors because tennis is a very short career and injuries can make it even shorter. You definetly need something esle because tennis isn't really a longterm career. Are you listening Martina? Like someone said, she got attention when she bad mouthed Agassi about his book, now she has to say things about Caro to get attention. Again, good luck to her.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro believe 12/08/2010 at 07:50 AM

Forgot to add Serena looked very good on HSN, she was wearing a black dress with her boot which had gems on it. Miss her. She said the boot is due to come on in about two weeks. Kom sa, Caro, Scandinavia's beautiful and talented World's no l, winner of more titles than any other player in 2OlO.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro believe 12/08/2010 at 07:58 AM

Should read due to come off.

Posted by Tic 12/08/2010 at 07:58 AM

According to Italian blog Ubitenis, the Soderling-Pistolesi union has been blessed by Magnus Norman, who explains that he and Soderling together talked to Pistolesi during both Bercy and WTF.

The plan is to try things out for 3 months, starting work next week in Monte Carlo.

Pistolesi is said to be a hard-working type, but extremely gregarious and talkative (as opposed to his charge). Just look at that face:
http://img257.imageshack.us/img257/7083/pistolesi5.jpg

Posted by Master Ace 12/08/2010 at 08:06 AM

Aussiemarg,
Have a safe trip and Happy Holidays

Angel of the Surf,
Have fun seeing Molik/Hewitt vs Ivanovic/Djokovic at Hopman Cup.

Samantha Elin,
Yes, I think it was Norman's decision to split up with Soderling.

Posted by gauloises 12/08/2010 at 08:12 AM

I just think Magnus didn't want Robin's next coach to be anywhere near as good-looking as him. In which case, mission accomplished.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro believe 12/08/2010 at 08:14 AM

Hi Patrick, when you get a chance I would appreciate if you could go over the quality of Caro's titles. I believe two of her titles were at premier events this year, so I'm getting tired of the nonsense that she can only win small titles. She has gone through some top players this year such as Sharapova, Demmy and others. When you have success and high profile, people want to criticize. This girl is the best female player Scandinavia has EVER produced so I'm proud of her and what she has done. Nobody gave her anything and nor was she hyped like other players who can't win anything. Kom sa, Caro!!

Posted by Master Ace 12/08/2010 at 08:19 AM

Caroline 6 titles in order

Ponte Vedra Beach - International
Copenhagen - International
Montreal - Premier 5
New Haven - Premier
Tokyo - Premier 5
Beijing - Premier Mandatory

Posted by gauloises 12/08/2010 at 08:20 AM

OK, I'm going to ask the dumbest question ever because I'm confused and the WTA website isn't working for me - what's the difference between Premier, Premier 5 and Premier Mandatory again?

Thanks in advance for your patience ...

Posted by gauloises 12/08/2010 at 08:29 AM

Meanwhile, the young lady under discussion is putting the off-season to good use by reading damnyouautocorrect.com. See, ATP? This is what your guys could be doing too, if you just saw sense.

Anyway ... FWIW, up until this summer I found it vaguyely implausible that Wozniacki would ever win a Slam. But she's reluctantly impressed me so much for the last half of the year that I'm now inclined to think it much more likely. The one thing that does concern me is that she seems to sort of lamely capitulate, or at least come up flat on the big occasion. She could have taken it to Li Na in Melbourne far more than she did; seem to recall that Kvitova just hit her off the court and Schiavone couldn't be stopped, but she was just oddly flat and listless against Zvonareva at the US Open. When that happens in a Slam and there's no obvious *reason* for it, it makes one think twice.

On the other hand she's not short of opportunities, so she'll probably get there sooner or later.

Posted by Master Ace 12/08/2010 at 08:35 AM

Premier Mandatory - Prize money is 4.5 mil(All players are required to play)
Premier 5 - Prize money is 2.05 mil(Top 10 players must play 4 of the 5)
Premier - Prize money is 618K or 721K (Moscow is more than that)

Posted by Master Ace 12/08/2010 at 08:39 AM

Gauloises,
At USO, I believe Vera came up with a good plan to defeat Caroline. Most of their battles go 3 sets. I wonder if Caroline's game was affected by the wind during her match with Dominika and Vera. During AO swing, Caroline has started slow for the last 2 years. During FO and W, she was slowed by an ankle injury which did not help her cause. Even if she was healthy, she still would have lost those matches as Francesca and Petra were on fire.

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

Thanks MA.

You could well be right about the Zvonareva match - I'm just going off my remembered impression that it was reasonable from Vera and surprisingly lacklustre from Woz, but maybe there were mitigating circumstances. She definitely gets a pass on the RG and Wimbledon matches, opponents too good.

Posted by Master Ace 12/08/2010 at 08:57 AM

Pete Sampras trophies stolen:
http://sports.espn.go.com/sports/tennis/news/story?id=5898060

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

That was a great peace from the Times of London about Martina.

Posted by mick1303 12/08/2010 at 09:20 AM

Premier mandatory gives 50% points comparing to Slam;
Premier5 - 45%
Premier - approx. 23.5%

Posted by Colette 12/08/2010 at 09:25 AM

Gauloises (hannaH), thanks for the info on Martina. Frankly, I'm surprised by the Martina "post-career" negativity. Maybe she SHOULD think about hawking raincoats with the obsequitrons on the shopping networks. CherryNYC posted a link (p. 1 here) to Martina's blog as she makes the climb.

Otoh, hate the fact that it will be spring before we see Serena back on court.

Posted by gauloises 12/08/2010 at 09:39 AM

Yeah, I'm a bit puzzled by that. Never exactly saw her as a publicity-seeker at all. And I don't really think she needs to mouth off about anyone to have people listen to what she says. She always strikes me as someone who genuinely likes to try different things, particularly if she can donate to charity or promote a cause she believes in.

To be honest, I have absolutely no thoughts about hitting tennis balls off the top of Kilimanjaro either. The place is becoming a tourist - or at least C-list celebrity - trail anyway so I think the "unspoiled" ship might have sailed.

Posted by Master Ace 12/08/2010 at 09:44 AM

Colette,
Serena not playing until the spring is a cause for concern. Spring means clay season as I think she will miss Miami. I am afraid that she may not make it back until Wimbledon as she is still in a cast for her foot.

Posted by Colette 12/08/2010 at 09:58 AM

And Martina's speaking about her cancer may, indeed, have prompted people to do things like have mammograms they've putting off, etc.

Sad news here that Elizabeth Edwards succumbed to her cancer.

MA, I know I've said this before, but I'm a bit worried that, being a tendon, Serena's injury could be career-ending. I think, tragically, the originally doctor(s) who treated her didn't realize how serious it was.

Posted by Master Ace 12/08/2010 at 10:01 AM

Colette,
You did say that Serena's injury could be career threatening. Serena did say she wants to play the Olympics in 2012. Sorry about Elizabeth losing her battle. She left one day after the doctors told her that they advise her not to get any more treatment as it would not helped.

Posted by Colette 12/08/2010 at 10:14 AM

MA, let's hope Serena WILL be back!

Posted by temes 12/08/2010 at 10:24 AM

I just have to say it's so Serena to decorate your cast with swarovski crystals.

Posted by Master Ace 12/08/2010 at 11:11 AM

Caroline 2011 schedule up to Wimbledon:

http://www.carolinewozniacki.dk/?page_id=14

Posted by Master Ace 12/08/2010 at 11:14 AM

Victoria 2011 schedule up to Wimbledon:

http://vikaazarenkatennis.com/?page_id=5

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro believe 12/08/2010 at 11:28 AM

Thank you Patrick, so four of her titles are at premier events, take that haters. She can win big titles. It's a shame when you have success and people get jealous. Don't hate her because she is talented and beautiful.

Posted by beth 12/08/2010 at 11:29 AM

sad about Pete Sampras' trophies being stolen
but the article on the homepage here did say that 13 of his 14 grand slam trophies were not among the missing items . So he must have those in his home -or maybe his parents' home
His year end no 1 trophies seem to be the biggest prize that is missing , and an Olympic piece

I did not realize he won anything at the Olympics ? I thought Edberg won the medal here in LA
I certainly cannot imagine that Pete won anything at Barcelona :)

"stolen from a West L A storage facility "
I did not realize they even allowed storage facilities in the West side of LA - it is generally a pretty posh area
and the Bruins think their part of town is so much safer than the Trojans South Central
Jeez - knife fights at the Rose Bowl, and robberies on the West side certainly do not bear that out lately

Posted by Master Ace 12/08/2010 at 11:35 AM

Beth,
Heard anything else about the fight at the Rose Bowl this past weekend?

Posted by gauloises 12/08/2010 at 11:39 AM

What gets me is that he had his trophies in a storage facility. That seems ... odd.

Posted by beth 12/08/2010 at 11:41 AM

for all of you not from LA
I was being snarky in my last comment
Only a fool would think that South Central LA was a safe place to wander around :)

it never ceases to amaze me that a private school such as SC is in such a rough neighborhood
and that bastion of public liberal arts education - UCLA - sits right in the heart of Bel Air

And they think we are snooty !

and now - back to whatever tennis there is being discussed
Have the French fired Forget yet ? I understand he is taking a lot of heat from their press .
Not that this surprises me. Their press is brutal to their sports figures.

Posted by beth 12/08/2010 at 11:43 AM

MA - yes , three more arrests from the melee were made
all three were the adult children of one of the original men arrested

what a mess
but what do you expect when you open a public parking lot at 6:30 in the morning for an event that does not take place until 7:30 at night
drinking to excess and sports rivalries generally breed fights

fwiw - it does not appear that the combatants were students / alumnae of either school
just random fans

Posted by beth 12/08/2010 at 11:46 AM

gauloises - I know ! If I had won even one trophy - it would at least be in my house ! But , with that many trophies , I guess they would take up an incredible amount of space . So maybe he picked out the "big ones " for keepsakes in his home - and stored the rest - in a place he thought would be safe

although , I remember when our Pete was writing his book about Sampras , he mentioned that no trophies were on display in his home. At least not in the public areas that he saw .

Posted by Tigress 12/08/2010 at 11:47 AM

Does anyone have any info on when Roger Federer will release his 2011 schedule? RF.com still has only the 2010 one. I hope he plays Monte Carlo instead of Estoril this year. Nadal has to lose there sometime, and Fed has 1000 available points there.

Posted by antoinette 12/08/2010 at 11:52 AM

@Tigress

The 2011 schedule is available on rf.com just click on the schedule tab and select the year. He is not playing MC nor Estoril and he has also dropped Stockholm so no 250's on his schedule.

Posted by gauloises 12/08/2010 at 11:59 AM

No surprises in Vika's schedule. If she played Eastbourne, I'd go. Actually I might go anyway.

Posted by JB (FOOPs unite!!!) 12/08/2010 at 12:00 PM

gauloise - when you've got 50 trophies, year end trophies etc, i mean, what do you DO with them? The slams seemed to be at his house, but that's a boatload of hardware, even if you have a good sized home.

and looking at some of the trophies, am not quite sure i'd want them in the house... :))

Posted by gauloises 12/08/2010 at 12:04 PM

I'm not saying they don't present a logistical problem, jb - I'm just saying if you didn't want them in your house, you'd just put them in a random storage facility? Not in a ... trophy shed, or the attic, or donate them temporarily to the USTA so it can display them to inspire the kids, just shove them in a U-Store somewhere? Seems strange to me, but then I'm terribly sentimental :)

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

Federer 2011 schedule(Federer is guaranteed two 0 for 500 events):

http://www.rogerfederer.com/en/tennis/schedule/year/2011.html

Djokovic 2011 first 3 tournaments per website : Hopman Cup, AO and Rotterdam.

Nadal 2011 first 3 tournaments via public knowledge : Abu Dhabi, Doha and AO

Posted by wilson75 12/08/2010 at 12:11 PM

antoinette: Roger is playing two 250 tournaments: Doha and Halle.

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