Monday, December 1, 2008

Tennis Talk

by Savannah

According to the calendar the official season is over. All players, male and female, can rest up and prepare for the new season starting with the Hopman Cup exhibition, the traditional start to Week 1 of the New Year.

For those of us who follow the sport with more than a passing interest we know that the Exhibition Season follows the regular season like night follows day. Of course there's no official exhibition season. You have to really hunt around to find out who is playing where. If you're lucky you'll find out for how much cheese. Every now and then you'll find a live feed that features play from somewhere and your tennis jones, for the most part, takes what it's being fed as you mark days off the calendar.

So why am I anxious for December 18 and the First Masters de France BNP Paribas that will be held in Toulouse, France? Could it be the line up? Let's see. Jo Wilfried Tsonga, Paul Henri Mathieu, Gilles Simon, Julien Benneteau, Adrian Mannarino, Nicolas Mahut and Marc Gicquel are confirmed. Oh yeah, and Richard Gasquet got himself a wild card into the event. How dare they hold a party without him? All the top Frenchies in one round robin event. I think that's kind of cool. Please check The Official Site for information. Be warned that it's in French only so far.

Not to be outdone Argentina is staging it's own internal championship starting on December 11. It will feature Juan Monaco, Jose Acasuso, Agustin Calleri, Guillermo Canas, Juan Ignacio Chela, Carlos Moya, Feliciano Lopez and David Nalbandian. Juan Martin del Potro was scheduled but has dropped out.
After all the drama surrounding the Davis Cup final this should be quite interesting. I'm waiting to see how the players are split into the groups of four. I don't have a website for this yet but I'll update this post as soon as I do.

Spain is presenting two large exhibitions. The first one will begin on December 6 and will feature Fernando Verdasco, Nicolas Almagro, Tommy Robredo, Albert Montanes, Marcel Granollers, Oscar Hernandez, Ivan Navarro and Daniel Gimeno-Traver, all top 100 players from Spain.

The Masters Of Bilbao will be held the following week beginning December 12 and will feature David Ferrer, Fernando Verdasco, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Nicolas Almagro, Marcel Granollers, Tommy Robredo, Alberto Montanes and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

The United States doesn't hold events like these but there is tennis being played. Andy Roddick's annual charity event will take place December 6 and the Rock-n-Racquets charity events in Louisville, Kentucky, Columbia, South Carolina and Knoxville, Tennessee take place the following weekend. For details see the Official Site.
Who said there's a tennis off season?

More Davis Cup Fallout
I hope you noticed the link provided by "Pat" last week to an Argentine newspaper article on the continuing turmoil in the wake of the DC final and David Nalbandian's role in the drama. I took French in high school and can pretty much read anything in that language if I take my time. I can decipher Spanish if I try hard. In reading the article "Pat" provided I came across what seemed to be some rather startling information and knew I needed a Spanish speaker to translate the article for me. I turned to a tennishead who lives in Argentina and goes by the name "Drop-Shot" for help. He provided the translation and clarified some things. Where he felt clarification was needed he added explanations in parenthesis with an asterisk.

Nalbandian – JMDP: a Millionaire Fight

“Go tell your daddy to come and ask for your money, kid.”, said Nalbandian to JMDP on Thursday night, when the players, only a few hours away from the beginning of the tie against Spain, still hadn’t resolved the economic issue. Other witnesses go further and add that the cordobese (*native from Cordoba province), even treated JMDP (*tandilense referse to his home town of Tandil in Buenos Aires) as a “wuss”. Hard to prove, of course. But the truth of the matter is that the DC final had not yet begun, Argentina still felt like the overwhelming favorite against Spain and the intern (*as internal issues) amongst the country’s two top players was already installed.

The roots of the problem were the supposed caprices of Nalbandian, increasingly being looked out of the corner of the eyes of the other argentines, specially JMDP. But the first to last drop that would make the dam break (the last one would be the loss of the tie of course) was a problem about money. A lot of money. Nalbandian pressed more and above for the tie to be played in Cordoba. He shielded himself in a presumed federalism (*in Argentina there’s a big issue about Buenos Aires vs. The Rest of the country. Something like the US East coast vs West coast.), but reality pointed towards a matter of money. One of his sponsors, the Bank of Cordoba, was willing to give their strong man many millions. How many? In the province there was talk about 2 million for Nalbandian alone. “The only one who wanted to play against Spain in Cordoba was Nalbandian. The rest of us didn’t really care.”, said other players of the Argentina Legion (*refers to all Argentine tennis players, the same way they call the Spanish, The Armada.). “Mar del Plata is also part of the country.”, had answered Calleri. And some saw a slip (*as in Freudian) when Nalbandian found out that Mar del Plata had been chosen: “(they) Put an envelope.”, suggested the cordobese.

But Nalbandian lost the venue because an entity from Bs. As., on behalf of Daniel Scioli, paid the Argentine Tennis Asociation (ATA) 9,600,000 dollars. (*not pesos!), 300,000 more than Cordoba was offering. The Unquillo native never accepted his defeat and, according to his detractors, kept on asking for more money up to the day before the final. This is what the ATA’s president, Enrique Morea, was referring to when he said of Nalbandian: “The players don’t have love for the country, let this be clear. There are many self interests.”
The fistfight between Calleri and Nalbandian was a journalistic invention: the red plates (*refers to a practice of a yellow news channel) are easy to release and the rest of the channels copied as to not be left outside. Both were angry, as is logic, for having lost. But, beyond some insult to the wind, David grabbed his bag and left.
The internal issue between Del Potro and Nalbandian was exposed, but most play in favor of the Tandil native. Guillermo Cañas is one of them. In the ambient it is said that David gave Cañas the thumbs down because he hit him (accidentally) with a tennis ball during a practice before the semis with Russia, after which Nalbandian was heard to say “What are you doing, fucking/shitty nigger?” (*VERY IMPORTANT, here Nigger isn’t used in a racial way, more so in social way. It refers to the poor, the poor who steal, to their demeanor and habits, etc Maybe comparable with trailer park scum or ghetto people. “De mierda” derives shit, being mierda, shit. “Mierda!” is the same as saying “Shit!” in all contexts.)
Phrases such as “He thinks he’s at Vilas’ level.”, “He believes to be Maradona or Ginobili” are commonly being used to refer to Nalbandian's actions. The press conference that the Cordobese gave yesterday in Mar del Plata was qualified as “staged”. Few bought it. Of course, David denies all these versions and repeats the word “envy”.

The original link in Spanish is HERE

Idle Chit Chat

  • It's reported that Ana Ivanovic has purchased a 4.5 million Euro villa on Mallorca.

  • The new WTA roadmap has seemingly claimed it's first victim. The Berlin event, long a fixture on the WTA calendar seems to be in danger due to lack of interest from the Qatar Tennis Federation which purchased the event in 2004. The event is downgraded on next years WTA calendar and is scheduled to take place a week before the French Open making it less likely to attract a stellar field. Interests in Warsaw Poland are said to be looking to buy the event. If this takes place that means two major German events, Hamburg and Berlin are taking major hits.

  • Now that he's in the top four Andy Murray is suddenly into making nice. He had this to say in the British papers this past weekend.
"Federer, when I see him, I'll have a chat to him – Nadal, Djokovic, Roddick, all of them. Obviously when we get on court we're rivals, but I think the one thing that has been much better in tennis the last few years has been the sportsmanship. A lot of players are very complimentary about each other, the embracing at the end of matches because a lot of the tennis has been so good. I think that's something that tennis has got to be proud of over the last few years."
Gotcha Andy.

The idea of present WTA head honcho Larry Scott taking over as head of the ATP as part of a deal to give him control of both tours has resurfaced with a vengeance. I guess the people behind him think if it's repeated enough fans will accept it. Personally I think this is a horrible idea. Keep in mind we're talking about the Larry Scott who labeled one player "golden" and said that no one was losing any sleep over Justine Henin's "retirement". It's my opinion that because of his support for one player above all the other women that the WTA is in the state it's in now. A leopard doesn't change it's spots and I'm sure the same tactics would be used if he somehow got control of the ATP. It also doesn't give me a warm fuzzy to know that Justin Gimelstob was lobbying Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in Shanghai. Maybe he thinks his charm will result in the two players supporting an American to take DeVilliers position. Scott is presently the highest paid women's sports executive and made more than DeVilliers last year. To what extent is the ATP board willing to pay him to take over the tour if that's what they want to do? We're in December so we should know soon.

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