This just in from totally FAUX NEWS:
From Tennis Entertainment Network reporter Canu Topthis:
Have You Been Offered a Bribe?
It seems that every player not ranked in the top ten has come forward to confess that yes, he has been approached to throw matches but that due to the strong moral fiber built into him by his parents, coaches, agent and publicist, he felt the need to come clean so that those investigating hapless top ten player Nikolay Davydenko don't hear their names whispered by some disgruntled mobster and come knocking at 3 in the morning hauling them out of bed and shining bright lights in their faces.
ET (Etienne de Villiers for those who don't know), has said that his sport is clean and feels encouraged by those stepping up and admitting that mobsters are trying to influence the pristine sport of tennis.
"So what if it gives the impression that every Challenger event is crawling with guys in dark glasses cornering players and poking meaty fingers in their chests while waving bags full of Euros under their noses? Our players will not succumb to bribery and this has been shown by the men stepping up in droves."
You would think Larry Scott, embattled head of the WTA would be happy that so far the only whiff of corruption has been a mere $1 million dollar bet for a match featuring two players many beyond the tennis world (and some in it) have never heard of. Instead he's rumored to be wondering why no one thinks his WTA matches are worth mob attention. I say give Scott a break. It's bad enough that a woman barely out of the birthing room has come back and beaten top twenty players including the World Number 3 and that his Golden Girl seems to be having intermittent shoulder problems, something new to the world of tennis where shoulder injuries are often career ending. A distraction, any distraction would be good right about now malicious tongues are saying.
While some would start "Player Confessions of the Day" watches I think this is good for tennis. The more exposure given to the pressures players are under the more excuses they can come up with for losing to a player ranked #450.
"I mean come on. Three guys in black suits and dark glasses cornered me as I walked to the court. Each one had a bag with at least $200,000 Euros in it. Not that I counted and of course I said no but can you imagine what something like this does to your mental preparation?!" a player could say after losing and walking to his Honda to drive to the next event.
The Hoffman Family Chronicles
Once again Mariana Alves is at the center of chaos and mayhem on a tennis court. After a bad call and some alleged gamesmanship by Daniela Hantuchova (Gamesmanship in womens tennis? You mean bathroom breaks, outfit changes, turning your back just as your opponent is about to serve and hand raising along with gastric distress aren't part of the game? I am shocked and appalled I tell you. Shocked and appalled.)
But I digress. The Hoffmans, husband Rainer and wife, pro player Patty Schnyder, took exception to some of the calls and antics of Daniela Hantuchova and after Patty lost the match Rainer had had enough. It was bad enough that Patty merely slapped hands (and not in a good way) at the net. Rainer gave Ms Alves a piece of his mind before, well, see for yourself. Imagine if Richard Williams or Damir Dokic did this folks. Let's see what happens to Rainer. Will he have to coach Sania Mirza while he's suspended from coaching his wife?
Bait and Switch
The post US Open Asian tournaments continue to be plagued by the withdrawal of marquee names. Roger Federer, citing fatigue withdrew from the ATP event in Tokyo where he is the defending champion. Andy Roddick had also withdrawn due to an ankle injury he sustained while in Bangkok. I'm not sure what James Blake's reason for withdrawal was since I haven't seen an announcement yet. I just know that when the Main Draw for Tokyo came out his name was missing and the top alternate was in.
The thing is unless you're a denizen of tennis fan boards you would have no idea that any of this was going on in Tokyo. When I looked at the tournament site this morning Roger's face was still featured prominently. The WTA does this sort of thing all the time as I've mentioned before. It seems the ATP is now sinking to the same level.
Will Venus make it in? Unlike the TMC where only two spots are open the YEC has only four qualifiers so far as Ana Ivanovic shows below.
Other possible entrants are Marion Bartoli, Daniela Hantuchova but as is usual with the WTA we probably won't know until the day before the tournament is set to begin.
With three of the eight positions filled and the next three looking as if they may be on lock down by the men in position to fill them unless something drastic happens the battle for the seventh and eight spots is wide open.
Among the contenders are the following men:
Berdych, Gasquet, Gonzales, Blake, Haas, Robredo, Ljubicic and Moya.
The indoor season will go a long way to determine who gets in among this crowd. Who do I like to make it in? He's already in...oh you mean from this crew? James Blake, the Davis Cup dead rubber specialist? Haas? WTH has Ljubo done this year to even deserve to get in? Carlos has has some good results lately. Gasquet, with new coach Yannick Noah might get in if he manages to make some good runs. Berdych? He made it to a semi where he lost to Benjamin Becker. Gasquet beat Fabrice Santoro, The Magician, easily in Mumbai. This might go right down to the wire but for very different reasons than the YEC.
NOTE: I erroneously stated that six slots had been filled. As Mariya pointed out (and after looking once again at Craig's "Race to the TMC" I amended my comments. Sorry to have mislead people.
This 'n That
Agnes Szavay, the young woman everyone is watching in the WTA, is worrying fans with her injury woes.
Tatiana Golovin was featured in the French sports magazine L'Equipe. Craig already featured the pics. This one is my favorite.
Kim Clijsters made a public appearance on a roller coaster. I think that's in the top ten of things not to do when you're pregnant.
Arnaud Clement doing that thing most French men are good at. Not that silly. Cooking of course.
Sveta at the Great Wall of China
Marat mobbed by fans leaving the DC site in Moscow last weekend.
Couple of great pics from a photoshoot done by LeBron James and Maria Sharapova for The United Nations.
Uhm, apparently Novak Djokovic has been seeing this young woman for a couple of years now. Her name is Jelena Ristic and she's a student. What does this do to Maria and Novak? Was their night of drunken bacchanal just that, a one night stand? How does Ms Ristic feel about her boyfriend getting drunk with Russian Golden Girls?! Ah the plot thickens. Publicists, get to steppin'.
Paradorn and his bride to be bought a luxury home in his native Thailand.
In the category of what the hell were they thinking are these two pics. One of is Gael Monfils channeling his inner androgyne. The other is of Maria Kirilenko wearing the most god awful tennis related apparel I've ever seen.
MV wants all of her fans to know she's taken a sabbatical. Now that she and Captain Wasabi are steering of their own ship she hasn't had time to write her blog. I spoke to her last week however and she did say in passing that now that she's gotten rid of the Samurai sword, the space age commode, and all the other junk (her term not mine) the Captain brought back from Japan she'd be damned if she let him enter that country again. I think the last straw was when she wandered into the kitchen - totally by accident she said so Fed fans don't worry, there's no chance of your fave getting food poisoning - and found a bottle of Wasabi in one of the cabinets.
The Captain swore he hadn't just purchased it but our girl was taking no chances. I guess I was the only one not totally surprised that the Captain pulled out of an event where he was defending champion.
I'm also sad to report that she and HFPY are still estranged.
I do hope she'll have time to write a little something for us after the TMC...oh wait, the exo season starts after that. You know about the Exo Season. It's that time of year when all the injuries vanish and players who were last seen hobbling on crutches are suddenly running around the court like jackrabbits. I guess it's something about the do-re-mi of that time of year that heals all wounds.
(If you have to ask why I used the sign for Euros and not the sign for US Dollars have you seen the exchange rate lately?)