Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tennis Talk

by Savannah

Roger Federer has issued the following statement:


Dear Fans,

Today I am disappointed to announce that I am withdrawing from both Dubai and the Davis Cup tie in the United States. This was a hard decision to make as I am missing not only one of my favorite events on tour in Dubai but I am also missing out on an opportunity to help my country try and move on to the next round of Davis Cup. After injuring my back last fall, I did not have enough time to strengthen it completely. As a precautionary measure, I will use the next few weeks to make sure the back injury is fully rehabilitated and I am ready for the rest of the 2009 season.

As always, thanks for your continued support.

The sound of champagne corks popping and loud cheering is coming from the United States Davis Cup team. When last seen Patrick McEnroe was doing the Snake a la Radek Stepanek.
Seriously though I see two big reasons for Roger's withdrawal - Indian Wells and Miami.

It seems that the tennis establishment is questioning it's love affair with Serbian tennis players. I found this interesting blog entry on ESPN
Each member of the Serbian super trio has established himself or herself as a legitimate top-tier player -- in fact, two of them (Ivanovic and Jankovic) have held the No. 1 ranking, and Djokovic himself was poised to snatch No. 2 -- displacing a fair little player named Roger Federer.

But the beginning of the year has also raised the question of whether any of the three is really comfortable with and/or equipped to handle his or her exalted position. Of the three, Djokovic is the one who's most consistently held his own instead of yielding ground, but with the sudden maturation of Andy Murray and that disappointing showing at the Australian Open -- where Djokovic was defending his first and so far only major -- Djokovic has people wondering if his drive toward the top hasn't stalled. He was 6-3 through the Australian Open, on his hard-court surface of choice, and hasn't played since.

If it sounds like Djokovic blew a big chance to challenge Nadal, pile on Federer and put Murray in his place in January, how about Jankovic? She finished the year No. 1 with, in some minds, an asterisk pasted there by the fact that she did it without winning a Grand Slam event. A strong January, capped by a win in Australia, would have asserted her legitimacy. Instead, she played miserably right up to and through Melbourne, and this week in Paris she lost to Amelie Mauresmo, a psychological enigma who traditionally stinks the joint out when she's playing in her home nation.

All three of the Serbian top players are in action this week: Djokovic is playing in Marseille while both Ana and Jelena are in Dubai.

Speaking of Dubai Shahar Pe'er released a statement regarding her situation.
Statement from Shahar Peer

February 17, 2009

In response to the tremendous outpouring of support and empathy over the UAE decision to deny me a visa that would allow me to play in the Dubai Tennis Championships, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to my friends and fans around the world, and my fellow players. While this is a very difficult moment for me personally and professionally, and the fact that the visa denial was issued at the last moment, I firmly believe that my fellow competitors should not be harmed the way I was - they were in or on their way to Dubai and denying them the right to play in this year’s tournament at the last moment would not make the wrong right. In fact, it troubles me greatly that my doubles partner Anna-Lena Groenefeld from Germany will not be able to compete as we had planned. Going forward, I am confident that the Tour will take appropriate actions to ensure that this injustice is not allowed to occur in the future, and that the Tour will make sure I will not be further harmed in the short and long term. There should be no place for politics or discrimination in professional tennis or indeed any sport.


cp said...

ESPN had an interesting reader comment:

one Serbian male and two Serbian women ranked in the top ten. Shame to the Serbian Nation!! Can anyone think of a country that has EXACTLY the same distribution of top players? Hint: It has a population of 300 million to Serbia's 8 million. We are a great nation, but stopped being a great tennis nation years ago especially on the men's side. Let's try to fix this first before we denegrate the Serbs.

Savannah said...

CP I haven't done a "what's wrong with US tennis" post in quite some time. I was one of the voices crying in the wilderness about the coming crisis in US tennis back in 2003.

The WS aren't going to be around forever. Blake is 29. Andy Roddick has issues that he's trying to work on.

I think what is being addressed in the blog post is that the predicted takeover of both the men's and women's game by Serbia hasn't happened. It is impressive for a small country that has the same size population as New York City to have three players at the top of their sport. It's just that more was expected in some quarters.

oddman said...

Lots of talk around that Fed's back is injured, or that he was playing injured at the AO... but according to this statement, he doesn't say that, exactly. All we read is the injury (from last fall) needs strengthening, 'I will...make sure the back injury is fully rehabilitated...'