Thursday, October 28, 2010

Doha 2010 - Day 3

by Savannah

It's still jarring to hear a tennis commentator refer to the woman ranked as the World #1 as having a "junior game". It's just as jarring to hear another commentator talk about her inability to dominate a match and say that that is something she will have to learn.
Still I'm sure there were massive sighs of relief and the Code Red was cancelled when Caroline Wozniacki won her match against Francesca Schiavonethus avoiding elimination from the semi finals. How would it look for the number one player not to make the semi finals of the year end championships? Is there any amount of spin that could've made that palatable?
As it stands the win assures Wozniacki the year end number one ranking which is all you're hearing about. Somewhere there is a champagne party being hosted.
I didn't think I'd be back in time to see any of the women's matches but I walked in the door in time to see Elena Dementieva defeat Samantha Stosur in three sets. I was glad to see Elena so happy when the match was over. Stosur, by winning the first set, will play in the semi finals this weekend.
Kim Clijsters defeated a spent Victoria Azarenka in three sets to join Vera Zvonareva, Samantha Stosur and Caroline Wozniacki in the semi finals. Semi final play will begin on Saturday. It was obvious that Azarenka had nothing left in the third set.

Oh, and Mr. Mad Professah, I got something right. Weird but don't worry. I'm not predicting anything for Saturday.

The IMG Mess

It's not going away. Greg Couch is still reporting the latest information.

The smear campaign is working and Jim Agate appears to be scum, financially desperate and baselessly suing one of the richest men in the world. After all, Teddy Forstmann, CEO of IMG, is a billionaire and one of the most powerful men in the sports world. Agate, who filed a lawsuit claiming he was the go-between for Forstmann with Costa Rican gambling houses, is not.

IMG has aggressively said that Agate tried this lawsuit once before and it was "thrown out,'' and that Agate later sent a letter to Forstmann apologizing for "falsely attacking'' him. IMG even sent me a copy of that letter.

But documents FanHouse obtained this week from sources close to the situation show Forstmann apparently paid Agate $575,000 in hush money over the past 18 months as part of a legal settlement to make that first case disappear.

And the apology? Term No. 6 in the settlement says this: "Agate will deliver a letter to Forstmann in which Agate apologizes for his conduct directed at Mr. Forstmann ...''

Did Agate's apology show a mentally unstable man, as IMG portrayed, or one cutting a deal with a rich guy who wants his problems to go away?

"Bought and paid for,'' a source said about the apology.

FanHouse called IMG for comment and company officials said they would respond later Thursday.

Sources also played me a scratchy voice mail message of what sounds like Forstmann asking Agate to place a $2,000 bet on Vijay Singh, an IMG client, to win the British Open. Forstmann has said he has bet on sporting events but hasn't acknowledged betting through Agate. Agate and his attorneys declined to comment, but the lawsuit lists a copy of that tape for evidence.

In court documents from the current lawsuit, Agate lists nearly 600 bets he claims to have placed for Forstmann, including more than $150,000 on the 2007 NCAA Basketball Tournament alone.
And this sports gambling scandal is about to start mushrooming, a disaster for tennis -- as Agate claims Forstmann got inside information from his client, Roger Federer – but also for golf, NCAA basketball and possibly other sports, too. In court documents from the current lawsuit, Agate lists nearly 600 bets he claims to have placed for Forstmann, including more than $150,000 on the 2007 NCAA Basketball Tournament alone.

IMG is huge in the sports world, and its CEO has power and access. He compromises the world's most famous athletes, and their sports, by placing bets.

An IMG vice president told FanHouse that Forstmann did, as Agate claimed, bet $40,000 on Federer to beat Rafael Nadal in the 2007 French Open final. IMG seems to say that betting for Federer, instead of against, makes it OK.

Agate's suit also claims that Forstmann bet on Singh in a head-to-head bet over Tiger Woods, another IMG client. IMG denies that.
A sport depends on its credibility, that games are played fairly and that players are playing by the rules. Forstmann is a big player, whether on the court , and isn't playing by the rules. He is putting suspicion in the minds of fans, and once that suspicion is there, it's hard to get past it.

But Nadal is also an IMG client. More importantly, the Tennis Integrity Unit said it is a violation of tennis rules for a tournament owner -- IMG owns and operates several tournaments -- to bet on the game at all.
Federer has said he had nothing to do with Forstmann's bet. It's hard to believe Federer would be involved, as he has taken seriously his responsibility to the game. But Forstmann has now put Federer in a position to have to defend himself.

In fact, Forstmann said he might have called Federer the night before the match. What was said? Did Federer know that Forstmann was planning to bet?

Forstmann has given one interview since Agate filed a lawsuit again. He told the Daily Beast that he did lose $40,000 on that match, but that it's a small sum for someone as rich as he is. He also referred to Agate as a "scumbag lowlife'' and "shakedown artist.'' The VP, Jim Gallagher, called Agate a "whackjob.''

But here's a question: If Agate is scum, then why did Forstmann hang around with him for at least 10 years, traveling him around the world on his private plane, placing him in his Huggy Bear charity tennis tournament in the Hamptons, golfing with him in some of the world's most prestigious courses and putting him together with some of the world's beautiful people?
As for whether the first lawsuit was thrown out or settled, it might have been both. First, it was discharged, and then, apparently, Agate was about to file again. Forstmann's attorneys, in the current suit, have filed a motion saying that the first case was dismissed from court over two years ago and then "subsequently settled pursuant to a settlement agreement between James Agate, the principal of Agate Printing, and Theodore Forstmann.'' The attorneys are calling for that settlement to be sealed.

For the complete article click on Greg's name.


vw said...

The Brit commentators, a man and a woman agreed that Wozniacki will be the most popular number one.

kraa said...

And they are probably right...

From some comments one might think that she has killed someone's favorite puppy. Caroline has been an exemplary citizen as far as I know...

TennisAce said...

Savannah, you are right, this betting scandal will not go away. Couch raised the point that if Agate was as he is being described by Forstmann then what was he doing hanging around with him. My response to that would be that Forstmann has an addiction and Agate is his facilitator. Just like how respectable people who are addicted to crack are friends with their local crack dealer, so is Forstmann with Agate.

I am looking at the WTA and I am having a hard time trying to have any interest at all in this current crop of women. They are all so 'vanilla'. Everyone plays the same, looks the same, same smile, same kissing at the net. There is absolutely no passion.

Venus is not a passionate player on court. She is stone cold. You never know whether Venus is winning or losing. Serena on the other hand is passionate. None of the current crop of players have any of those attributes. They all play the same and look the same.

The Tennis Establishment is tired of passion and stone cold. They like what Wozniacki brings to tennis and until Serena and to a lesser extent Venus leave the game, this is what we will be getting.

Dapxin said...


Interesting commentary.

I suppose what you reduce to passion in your post, goes way way beyond mere passion.

Saying its passion kinda makes it rudimentary to me.

I have struggled so hard to watch/follow wta since those two got over with their season.

I suppose they bring a lot more of - unstructured - everything: The instinctive ability to react-on-fhe-fly; to dig deep faced with doom, or just do something totally crazy.

The capacity to be variable! in play. I think that's what makes them tick.

And that to a terrific ambition to always find a way to win, and you understand what Tennis miss.

Its kinda sad to see Elena go; she couldnt reach the extra level needed to win a slam...

vw said...

Well I'm hoping that Vera can win it all. She is a hard worker and deserves it.

TennisAce said...

Daxpin, I call it passion. The French call it "je ne sais quoi". It is that thing that you cannot describe but you know it is there. Serena is described by her fellow players as having a presence on the court. She takes it over. It is her playground. Venus has been described by journalists as a player who cares not what is happening on the other side of the court. She is ice cold, sober, having a killer instinct.

That is what is missing from women's tennis. For all her faults that is what Sharapova brought to it as well. She had a killer instinct and she was ice cold.

My mother always told me that if you have nothing good to say about someone, do not say anything. I have nothing good to say about Dementieva so I will say nothing. However, I will say that when you call out your fellow players and their entourage and accuse them of match fixing, not one but on 2 separate occassions, while all the time hiding behind language difficulties, then you are not a graceful classy player that everyone is making you out to be.

Savannah said...

Elena's comments were the reason I discounted her for so long.
Still, Oracene said the following in response to a fan on Twitter.

@BigSerenaVeeFan She always gave everything she had on court no matter who she played. Good player and a hard worker. Sorry to here that.

TennisAce said...

Savannah, the Williams Family are never given credit for being classy in the face of so much negativity. I just saw a tweet from Serena on Elena which was quite nice.

Said Elena made her a better person on and off the court. Not sure if that is true, but she perhaps made her realise that regardless of what people say about you, at the end of the day you have to be true to yourself.

I am not sure that I will miss her but she had a lot of fans and for them I know the void that has been created by her retirement will be hard to bear.