Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tennis Talk

by Savannah

I've taken a few days off. I haven't watched any tennis or been on Twitter for a few days now because I felt so "tennised out". Rumors about the Monogram got me to start poking around and seeing what the hell is going on in the wonderful world of tennis. Some of the news may be old but it's worth repeating in case some of you, like me, needed a mental health break.

From James H Martin on Twitter:

Federer out of Shanghai Masters with back injury. His back does tend to act up outside of the majors, huh?

Can't vouch for the man but thought you all would like to know the latest chit chat...

And it goes on...

Nice commentary and a bit of truth from New York Magazine

Because we like baseball more than other sports, we're going to make a baseball analogy to what happened to Serena Williams in the U.S. Open semifinals on Saturday. The Yankees are up one run in the bottom of the ninth inning of a deciding playoff game, with a runner on first base and no one out. Bobby Abreu hits a ground ball to Robinson Cano, who flips to Derek Jeter, and on to first for the double play. But it turns out that Jeter didn't actually touch the bag on the turn — applying the "phantom" tag, which is generally acceptable and never, ever called — and the umps decide, today, for whatever reason, to call the runner safe. When Jeter and Joe Girardi argue, the umpires decide to give the Angels the run, and then another, costing the Yankees the game. If that happened, one doubts Girardi would be all that calm either.

Serena Williams, in the wake of her expletive-laden outburst on Saturday, has been fined $10,500, and there is some talk of a suspension. This is insane. Five facts:

1. There was no foot fault. Continued replays have shown that Williams's foot was not over the line on the serve, which caused a double fault, and the outburst.

2. Even if she did foot fault, you can't make that call. Like the phantom tag in baseball, that's not a call you ever make on a second serve — obviously, Williams had no real advantage with her foot near the line on a serve she's just trying to get in play — and that's definitely a call you don't make when someone's serving for their life in the semifinals of the U.S. Open.

3. The line judge is oversensitive. As if it weren't bad enough that the line judge — whose name, strangely, has not been released by the USTA — made the ridiculous call, she then, after being yelled at by Serena, scampered over to the head judge to make sure Serena was penalized another point. This happened to be match point. Now, let's be clear: Contrary to the headlines, Serena did not tell the line judge she would kill her. She said she wanted to take the ball and shove it down her fucking throat. Not exactly charming, no, but not fatal! More to the point: Is this the first time the line judge has ever been yelled at in a match? Did she really feel so "threatened" that she had to end the match? Shouldn't a line judge have a thicker skin that that?

4. Serena did not have a meltdown. She said a few "fucking"s and pointed a few times with her racket. Has no one ever seen Jimmy Connors or John McEnroe before? Serena, in the heat of a massively important match, lost her cool for a second, and said some things she surely regrets. But for crying out loud, what did she do that was so horrible? John McEnroe once sacrificed a goat at center court of Wimbledon after a bad call. (Note: This anecdote might be made up, but you get the point.) We're worried about Serena screaming after a wretched call? They're talking about suspending her? When did we become such wimps?

5. The role of a referee/umpire/judge is not to be noticed, and to let the players decide the match themselves. The line judge put herself at the middle of the action and let her own inability to handle an angry player decide who won the semifinal at the U.S. Open. We cannot fathom why she's not taking more heat. Because if we were Serena Williams ... we would have wanted to shove that ball down her throat, too.

Oh, and Kim Clijsters ended up winning the women's singles title last night. No one will remember that, though.

Cablevision and Tennis Channel

Tennis Channel has, at least for the moment, lost its battle with Cablevision. The channel has agreed to release its signal to Cablevision, even though Cablevision customers will have to pay an additional monthly fee for a sports package to view it. Tennis Channel had repeatedly said Cablevision’s terms were unacceptable and that Cablevision customers ought to receive the station with their standard cable packages. While Tennis Channel’s move to release its signal will please tennis fans who are Cablevision customers, it might well leave many of them wondering why Tennis Channel did not give in to Cablevision’s demands prior to the U.S. Open. Cablevision customers could not watch Tennis Channel during the U.S. Open because of the dispute. In a statement, Tennis Channel described the decision as a temporary move under its contract with the National Cable Television Cooperative, a group that negotiates programming deals. Cablevision had claimed that Tennis Channel was required to release its signal under the NCTC contract. —Tom Perrotta

Justine Henin news:

Justine Henin, on what prompted her comeback: "The victory of Roger Federer at Roland Garros really spoke to me... That brought back emotions in me and I felt something was missing."

On the scope of her comeback: "If I'm coming back, it's not for one year. It will be for three or four years, and then there is an important occasion, the London Olympics in 2012, the year I'll be 30."

Carlos Rodriguez, who will resume coaching Justine Henin on tour, says one of the driving forces behind her comeback is the desire to win Wimbledon and complete the career Slam. "Wimbledon, the fourth major, one wants to have it," he said. "It's one of the reasons for the return."

When Henin told him she wanted to play again, said Rodriguez, "It truly surprised me." But, he added, "Tennis, it's what she loves. I'm happy for her."

Uh huh.

Update on Gasquet

Richard Gasquet is searching for a new coach for next year, reports L'Equipe.

The paper added that Yannick Noah has advised Gasquet to pick a foreign coach who speaks French and specifically mentioned Brad Stine, the former coach of Jim Courier and Sebastien Grosjean.

Gasquet will play the third ATP event of his comeback this week in Metz, having won a French league event last week by beating Fabrice Santoro in the final.

I thought Gasquet was tied to Lagardere. By the way "Pamela" has been ordered into rehab.

Damir Dokic's 15 month sentence has been upheld by a Serbian court. Hope that he gets the help he obviously needs.

Andy Murray has released a calendar featuring his physique. Just the Christmas gift for someone you feel close to.


Lara E. said...

Where was the "bit of truth" in the New York Magazine article? The only truth I read was the mention of Kim Clijsters winning the title.

dan said...

That New York magazine article is crap. First of all Serena wasn't winning and she wasn't going to (with or without foot faul), she was clearly outplayed and you could tell it was just matter of time before Kim came up with the W. And also, foot fauls are supossed to be called when they happen, it doesn't matter if it's the first point or the last. Savannah you need to be a little bit more objective, I'm sure that if Clijsters would have been the one with the outburst you would be killing her in this blog right now.

Maru said...

SO now that GS are over I'm more shallow than usual, so here it goes:

"Andy Murray has released a calendar featuring his physique. Just the Christmas gift for someone you feel close to."

This whole calendar thing has provided with so much comedy for me, I think I kind of *love* him a little for making me laughed so much.
Abosolutely! the best present to show that you care to those closer to you :)

Savannah said...

I find it amazing that Serena Williams has exactly one on court melt down, one, in her career and people want to nail her to the cross. It's absurd.

The entire thing started with a bad call. Serena did not threaten to kill the woman, she said that "If she could" she would shove the ball down the woman's throat. Even JMac, who has been strangely silent about it since, said live that that call should not have been made at that point in the match. It's obviously a "courtesy" granted players in the heat of battle. The article is merely pointing out the hypocrisy of those calling for bans, etc.

I won't pretend to be a fan of Kim Clijsters but if she had been the one who got that call I would be just as outraged by the lax officiating.

Lastly there is no way to tell what Serena was capable of doing. She's come back to win matches from that same situation so you can't say she wasn't going to win.

dan said...

I'm not criticizing Serena, I couldn't care less what she does. But I'm tired of articles like these that try to sell her as the victim. She clearly made a mistake, that's it, a simple mistake but a mistake non the less.Deal with it and stop trying to tell us that she didn't do anything wrong or that she was robbed or something like that.

Matt said...

Love your summary of the whole Serena issue Savannah. Very, very well said!

Poor Serena was truly cheated. I felt in my heart that she should have won that tournament.

I have a feeling in my waters though that if she's fit she very may way go on to win all four majors next year!! She HAS to be the hungriest she's ever been on tour. Fingers crossed for her!

Shannon said...

I'm sick to death of people saying "You can't make that call! She was "serving for her life," you can't make that call!" Um...bull. Yes, you can. At this point it's irrelevant if the call was good or not (and unless someone has seen an angle of that serve that I haven't, there's no way to tell if it was good or not). If the line judge saw it, then she has to call it. Maybe she was wrong, but that's beside the point. It's not their job to make judgment calls. The umpires can do that (and I can't count how many times I have seen them taken to task for doing just that), but not line judges. No one would suggest that the line judges should let a serve go that was out just because it's an important moment of the match. And it IS the same thing, as long as the foot fault rule is in effect. And no one is suggesting that Serena was trying to gain some sort of advantage by having a toe on the edge of the line. Foot faults are carelessness, not underhanded strategy. As frustrated and angry as Serena was after netting the previous serve, it's easy to imagine letting a little thing like that get past. But again, the correctness of the call is no longer the point because if the line judge saw it she has to call it. That's her job.

I'm also sick of people saying "But, McEnroe and Connors were so much worse!" Yes, and? They should have been held accountable for their behavior (and at least sometimes were) and so should she. Since when is it okay to say "Yeah she made an ass of herself but not as much as others have, so who cares?" It doesn't make her actions any more okay that others have been horrible too. And you can make a lot of arguments about how very interesting it is that Serena gets singled out, and I won't necessarily argue, but it still doesn't excuse what she did. She deserved that fine, which let's be honest is just pocket change for her anyway.

Craig Hickman said...

I came down on Serena hard because her behavior surprised me and I found it unacceptable.

But to suggest she was going to lose the match anyway against a player who had never beaten her before in a Slam, who, once upon a time, was up 5-1 and match points in the final set of a major semifinal, and still found a way to lose....

....well, that's just ludicrous.

I don't know what would have happened. Serena had been playing so poorly, it's not a stretch to say she would lose. But it's also not a stretch to say she might turn the match around and win.

Remember the Wimbledon semifinals?

Problem is, the lineswoman, the chair ump (who gave Serena the first warning for breaking a racquet after losing the first set - a questionable job of officiating at that juncture, to be sure) and the tournament referee, who felt it necessary to award a point penalty on match point, robbed US -- the viewers, the fans-- of the chance to see such an important match play out with tennis and not just the rules.

And the fans didn't even know what happened till well after the fact.

Imagine if the officials enforced every rule, all the time, no matter who, no matter what. Well, there are two players on the WTA who would probably each only have a single Slam. Instead, one holds three and the other, seven. These are players who sought and received coaching from the stands major match after major match after major match without penalty.

As for foot faults being called when they happen: the rule states that the foot faults must be clear before a linesperson even considers calling it. This one wasn't clear to anyone watching on television or in the stadium.

Serena lost it. She was wrong to get all up in that woman's face. She apologized.

But she was also wronged.

Those calling for her suspension are, indeed, insane.

Or worse.

Savannah said...

I've been watching tennis a very long time. Was Connors ever suspended? Was Agassi ever suspended? Was McEnroe (and you know which one) ever suspended? Were there calls for suspension when Wickmayer sent a lines woman to the hospital earlier this year?

Serena has been fined for "audible obscenities" for crying out loud. Meanwhile Victoria Azarenka went on a rant in Australia earlier this year where there were plenty of audible obscenities and yet she wasn't fined or called out for her actions.

I dare say those calling for her suspension are on a mission. They want to clear the way for one of the "darlings" - read anyone but a Williams - to have a chance to win a major. They're going after her because she dared laugh at the idiocy of the WTA ranking system where a woman sits on top of the heap and dares call herself the best player while she has yet to be competitive in a major. Why all the hype for a blonde from Belgium when a 39 year old woman from Japan just won a title, something she's been working on for most of this year? Where is the hype for her? Why all the hype for a player who blatantly cheats and lies except for the "Anyone but a Williams" syndrome?

I dare say that call would not have been made during a men's match, let alone a semi final with everything on the line.

And there is an angle that shows it wasn't a foot fault. They just stopped showing it so that it makes it seem the lines person was right. I saw it. Anyone watching live that night saw it too.

dan said...

First of all, I want to say that I don't think that Serena should have been suspended. I just get angry when people try to defend the undefendable and I get even angrier when some suggest that Serena could have turn it around or Kim could have choked or whatever. STOP DISMINISHING OTHER PEOPLE'S ACHIEVEMENTS!!! (something Savannah and Craig are specialist at, by the way)
Clsijsters played a great match and she deserved the win she earned on the court, saying otherways is classless and inexact.