Let me see. What was going on in the crazy world of tennis this past week that warrants tennisheads attention? The official off season has started. The Davis Cup Final between Russia and the United States begins next week and oh yeah, the Exhibition Season has started. The exho (or exo) season is when tennis players stop being money grubbing point whores and become simply money grubbers. Hey, their careers are short and they're entitled to get all the moolah they can while they can. So lets see who had their sticky little fingers in the cookie jar this past week.
Rafael Nadal vs Richard Gasquet
Nice little deal. Richie played a one off against Rafa in Kuala Lumpur. Richie won the first set and Rafa won the next two. Looks like it was fun for both players. Rafa won 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.
(Thanks to MariaV over on MTF)
Pete Sampras vs Roger Federer
This was the Main Event this week. Sampras, who has been encouraged to return to the main tour signed up for this three match series which promised to be the throw down of the Exhibition Season for the ATP. The WTA plays exhibition matches too but when you have the man some consider the GOAT playing the man who wants that title then the floodgates open and money pours into the players bank accounts.
Exhibitions are usually scripted affairs. Usually running three sets it goes roughly like this:
Player "A" wins the first set. Player "B" wins the second set and then the third set is "for real".
This was a three match event so many tennisheads thought that the usual script would hold. In a weird bizarro world way it did.
The first match was played in Seoul South Korea and Roger won rather handily. It seems to be all the rage to appear in public in traditional Korean Royal attire. Venus and Maria Kirilenko set the precedent so how could Pete and Roger not do the same?
The second match was in Kuala Lumpur (A Challenger event was going on at the same time but really, when you have the tennis equivalent of Ali vs Frazier the guys fighting to get their rankings high enough to get into the Oz main draw really can't hold a candle to that can they?). The King of Malaysia showed up looking like he was going to a tennis match. It's refreshing to see royalty kick back and chill with the people although in a place like Malaysia I doubt if the people in the stadium were your average Joe's and Jane's.
That's the King between Roger and Pete. The other guy is a politician.
Roger won this match in straights as well but it was a closer affair with each set going to a tiebreak.
The final match of the series was played at the Venetian Hotel and Casino in Macau. I wanted to watch it figuring that Sampras was set to win at least one of these but with no Tennis Channel and every live feed shut out of this I waited to find someone online giving recaps. Zero. Zip. Nada.
Very odd I thought to myself. While hanging out on boards waiting for something to be posted Haruka casually informed me that Sampras had won the first set in a tie break 7-6(8). Her friend Gian has Tennis Channel and was feeding her the scores. Whatever it takes I figured. When the score for the second set came in 6-4 Sampras I expected fan boards to be flooded with fans discussing this event. That's not quite what happened. The ESPN board, a place I haven't been in a while has, as I type this, a grand total of 14 posts between two threads. TalkAboutTennis(TAT) has a few posts in it's "Exhibitions" thread. Mens Tennis Forums has a pretty active thread and was also the first to put up the results. The discussion seems to be that the court was "icy" and comparable to an indoor court in the 1990's. Roger was "tired" after a long season spent defending his throne. The same man who complained about the court in Madrid being too slow after Nalbandian handed him his ass and after he was supposedly consulted on it is said to have played tentatively for fear of injury in Macau. Besides, there's another exhibition set for March in New York City's Madison Square Garden the argument goes and Sampras had to win one to make it interesting for the paying public. Uh-huh.
The Roger fans are also saying that the result came about because of the "scripting" of exhibitions and that this is the one Roger was paid to lose. Some Roger fans say this is nonsense because Roger has too much pride and would never consent to losing a match, exhibition or not. There is also the argument that hey, this is only an exhibition match. Means nothing. Moving on.
It's still relatively quiet on the boards though.
Davis Cup Final
Let's be real. It's Shamil Tarpishev vs Patrick McEnroe. There wasn't any visa hanky panky this go around and Mr Tarpishev is in the States with his team.
The official line ups were announced this week.
Captain: Patrick McEnroe
Captain: Shamil Tarpischev
There will be daily recaps by mmmm8 and GVGirl who will both be in attendance. MMMM8 will be sitting with the Russian fans. GVGirl, a member of the Netheads, will be sitting with the American contingent.
By the way Marat Safin is said to be in Portland.
In more Davis Cup news the 2008 Draw has been announced. Some surfaces have also been decided.
Russia v Serbia: Small Sports Arena "Luzhniki", Moscow, Russia - surface tbc (indoors)
Czech Republic v Belgium: CEZ Arena, Ostrava, Czech Republic - carpet (indoors)
Argentina v Great Britain: Estadio Parque Roca, Buenos Aires, Argentina - clay (outdoors)
Israel v Sweden: Canada Stadium, Ramat Hasharon, Israel - hard (outdoors)
Germany v Korea. Rep.: Volkswagen Halle Braunschweig - clay (indoors)
Peru v Spain: details to be confirmed (Who are we kidding about the surface here?)
Romania v France: details to be confirmed
Austria v USA: Ferry Dusika Hallenstadion, Vienna, Austria - clay (indoors)
Davis Cup Information
In Other News
Gael Monfils has rejoined Team Lagadere in France and has been assigned Thierry Champion as his coach. Mr. Champion was working with Paul-Henri Mathieu and it goes without saying Mr. Mathieu is not happy with the change. This ends Gael's work with Tariq Benhabiles who is now free to coach one Andy Murray if he's got the stomach for it. While no one was surprised that Murray and Gilbert didn't last long I wonder if Tariq wants to put up with being cursed at and out on a regular basis?
I wonder if Andy Roddick will man up and rehire Tariq who had him playing an all court, all surface game before he was unceremoniously kicked to the curb? We'll see.
Tommy Haas was not poisoned but he did have shoulder surgery. Talk about being a drama king...
Rafael Nadal thinks it would be a good idea to rotate the surfaces the Masters Cup is played on. This of course brought howls of protest from the Hard Court Specialists who go into a dead faint when confronted with a surface resembling the terre batue. Since the TMC will be WTF in 2009 I say wtf why not?
Michael Chang is no longer coaching Peng Shuai. He still wants to run the Chinese Tennis Authority but it seems they don't feel that way about him.
The field for the Gold Coast event in January 2008 is shaping up. Among those confirmed to be appearing are Nicole Vaidisova, Shahar Pe'er, Dinara Safina and Amelie Mauresmo.
The exhibition to be held in Hong Kong's Victoria Park from January 2-5 will so far feature the following players:
There are rumors about Anna Chakvetadze joining the mix but nothing is confirmed yet.
The Hopman Cup teams are finalized.
Juan Ignacio Chela
For Order of Play information please visit the Official Hopman Cup Site
- Lindsay Davenport is scheduled to play in Auckland.
- I'd like to give a shout out to TAT and it's holiday charity drive. Donations will go to two charities - Justin Gimelstob's Children's Fund (The Valerie Fund) and the Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program. This is a unique undertaking by tennis fans. For more information please use the above link.
The Shallow End of the Pool
Boris Becker celebrated his 40th birthday this week. Just before the inevitable party he announced that he and his latest lady were no more. They looked so in love during Oktoberfest.
Only Boris could have a party where his ex wife and sons and the recently ex girlfriend appear and he leaves with a woman who could be the clone of his wife and is so far nameless. Rock on dude.
Boris and Barbara Feltus (and son)
A more demurely attired Sharley 'Lilly' Kerssenberg
The mystery woman
The Mystery Woman and Ms Feltus
All pictures courtesy of the Daily Mail