Saturday, December 31, 2011

And So It Begins...

by Savannah

It seems that the tennis "off season" is getting shorter and shorter. Why not since I dare anyone to say 2011 dragged. When young people are saying the year flew by it did. Back in the day I remember the years seeming just the right length, not as long as when I was a child but not as fleeting as an image in a rear view mirror.

Spain closed out the season winning the Davis Cup and starting this past Wednesday the draws, qualifying and main, started appearing for what is called the 2012 Australian summer hard court season. Amazing.

We've also had our first tennis media generated tempest in a teapot as well. Rafael Nadal announced he's taking February off to rest his shoulder. The Grand Poobahs seem to believe he should've kept that to himself or waited until after the Australian Open. Why? Rafa doesn't make the spring South American clay court swing, hasn't in years. And the USTA has two Masters Series, back to back, in March. On hard courts. My guess is that the big media boys wanted a chance to break some news. I say good for Rafa. In this digital age it's stupid to sit on something. Rafa broke his own news. More power to him.

Serena Williams has posted the first of her bikini pictures series proudly showing off what brings grown men, and young boys, to their knees. What is she supposed to wear a burkha? Please. If you're not ready for that large a serving of boo-tae the salad bar is to the left.

I'm still waiting for an explanation as to why Caroline Wozniacki's romance is headline news. I guess I missed a memo again.

And while I'm at it why does the WTA set up photoshoots of it's top, and not so top, players in soft porn poses? If I was inclined to like to look at sexy half naked women there are places on the interwebs for that. I mean it's nice to show the players off as attractive women but the idea that all women tennis players moonlight at tractor pulls is long gone isn't it? Now if there are shots of half naked sweaty men around I'm all in. I mean there are but those are usually taken after a warm up, practice or match. I do have my standards though. I mean clothed or not Marat Safin is one hot piece of manflesh no?

I was watching a match at the annual Abu Dhabi money grab and the British announcers gushed about new ATP CEO Brad Drewitt's cherished goal of instituting a time clock similar to what they use in the NBA. I narrowed my eyes so hard I fell asleep. I mean is that going to help the Americans or Brits win a major? I.Don't.Think.So. Just saying. By the way I'm glad I double checked his name. I was trying to name him Adam. I guess that's because "The Young and the Restless" was on in the hairdresser the other day. I mean that has to be it. I barely knew the name of the guy who preceded Adam, uh, Brad. Yep. Has to be Victor Newman's spawn that caused me to misname Mr. Drewitt.


Do I have to go into the spiel about how special 2012 is because it's an Olympic year? No? Good. For those who need to hear about it here we go: blah, blah, blah, Olympics, blah, blah, blah, Fed Cup, blah, blah, blah, Davis Cup, blah, blah, blah, heavy playing schedule, yadda yadda yadda etc., etc., etc. Capiche? Good.

I wish all my readers a safe, happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. If you wake up under a table and it feels like you've had a sock in your mouth while you were passed out or there are unexplainable wet spots over what's left of your clothing just roll over and go back to sleep. Oh, and watch out for that pool of, well, whatever it is.

And if your New Year's celebration includes shooting a gun out of your window please remember that bullets don't have eyes and while you don't intend to hurt anyone there's a chance you will.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

by Savannah

Danielle Rossingh of Bloomberg News reports the following:

The women’s tennis tour will lose its biggest sponsor after mobile-phone maker Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB said it won’t extend its agreement when it expires next year.

Sony Ericsson signed a six-year contract worth $88 million in 2005, the largest sponsorship in tennis history and women’s professional sports, to become the WTA Tour’s title sponsor. The company, a joint venture between Sony Corp. and Ericsson AB, dropped the naming rights last year when it signed a two-year extension until Dec. 31, 2012.

“After seven years partnering with the WTA, we have decided not to renew the partnership,” Sony Ericsson spokeswoman Graciela Pineda said in an interview today. “We feel that after seven years our brand has evolved and our business as well.”


Australian Tennis is trying to inoculate young indigenous player Ashleigh Barty from Oudin-Young Syndrome.

Esteemed coach David Taylor has urged Australian tennis fans and officials from burdening teenage sensation Ashleigh Barty with unfair expectations.

Taylor on Friday hailed the 15-year-old junior Wimbledon champion as not only the hottest talent in world tennis, but also potentially even better than the great Martina Hingis.

“She’s the real deal. She is amazing,” Taylor told AAP.

The legendary Evonne Goolagong Cawley agreed, lauding Barty’s “fantastic” all-round game, but Taylor said it was critical the youngster was allowed to develop before being over-hyped.

“We have to be careful with her,” he said.

“People are excited because she is such an outstanding talent and we haven’t had one like that for so long.

“But she’s still got a long way to go and so many things can wrong before she becomes a top-20 player.

“She’s not even close to that. The distance she has to travel to get there is way off so let’s just be excited about her potential for now, eh.”

Yeah comparing her to Hingis takes the pressure off doesn't it? Seriously though I wonder if they're saying she's shorter than many of the top women players? Neither the WTA site or the ITF site gives height and weight information. Then again she's only 15.


Vladimir Kamelzon, a top Russian coach is speaking out about Ksenia Pervak's decision to play for Kazhakstan so that she can play in the Olympics, a goal of hers. Pervak's father is said to be quite wealthy so money isn't her reason for changing country affiliation. Some are also asking what Russian tennis guru Shamil Tarpishev expected when he told Pervak that he would not even name her to the squad dashing her hopes to play in London.

"I'm upset and angry about Pervak's switch to the Kazakhstan national team," Vladimir Kamelzon, head coach of the Russian team, told RIA Novosti on Friday. "I just can't understand Pervak's decision, and I will never accept it," he said.

Kamelzon said Pervak was "the personification of the Russian tennis method of developing top-class players," and lamented that she would depart despite spending all of her formative years in the hands of the country's finest coaches.

Brad Drewett and the ATP

The appointment of Brad Drewett as ATP Chairman has drawn applause from the Tennis Axis establishment and Roger Federer issued a statement of approval but on Twitter, where players post everything from their public (and sometimes private) lives the silence has been deafening.

Tennis X made the following observation:

Rafael Nadal, Mahesh Bhupathi, Ivan Ljubicic, Rohan Bopanna, The Bryans, Dustin Brown, Ryan Harrison, Jack Sock, Tommy Robredo, Juan Monaco, Juan Ignacio Chela, Jamie Murray, Milos Raonic and others were too busy tweeting the last 10 hours about the holidays, their Australian Open fashion and other mildly interesting memes than to even mention their new boss.

Ljubicic did retweet the ATP Drewett press release, but added nothing.

Amer Delic did comment on Twitter but his posts were less than a ringing endorsement.

That there were other candidates for the position including perennial candidate John P. McEnroe came as somewhat of a surprise. The ATP held its cards close to the vest and the tennis media proved the term journalist only applies to them in a tangental way by not airing any of the behind the scenes debate for the edification of fans. If there had been an open discussion rumors about parents of some players also having their hats in the ring wouldn't bubble to the surface and disappear back into the ooze.

The more I read the more convinced I am that all of this drama was orchestrated, that it was always going to be Drewett. I remember back in the summer when Drewett's image flashed on my screen and the talking heads verbiage was very favorable. I don't remember ever seeing or hearing about the other guy who was allegedly in the running. The powers that be made it clear that they did not want Krajicek and are now going out of their way to try and give Drewett player cred by repeating over and over that he was a player rep back in the day. Back in the day isn't now. There were no mandatory tournaments. Sponsor demands were nowhere near what they are now. The game was less physical. There were more tournaments on the natural surfaces of clay and grass. And the USTA had not yet gone to the extremes it would later to try and stop and stifle the true internationalization of the sport.

I don't know if Drewett's "mandate" will allow him the room he would need to address the issues at the heart of player protests that boiled over at last years US Open. His support comes from the USTA, Tennis Australia, the LTA and the FFT - the Tennis Axis, the ITF and the TD's of major tournaments. Will he allow more joint WTA/ATP events? Will he allow the players to be able to take control of their careers again and choose what tournaments they want to play?

It's going to be interesting to see how his address to the players in Melbourne goes over. Then again the tennis media will only present what TPTB want them to.


Swedish 19 year old Lucas Renard has been given a six month ban for corruption. Four months of the ban have been suspended conditional of his attending anti corruption training. Renard, ranked #882 was found to be in violation of the rule against a player trying to“contrive or attempt to contrive the outcome” of a match.

Revenge? Sour grapes? Bad form? The USTA is supposed to be bigger than this right?

Patrick McEnroe apparently has a lot to say about Alex Bogomolov Jr's decision to play Davis Cup for Russia.

"He has received quite a bit of support, it's an ITF decision and at the USTA we are exploring our options," he stated. I'll leave it at that."
"I certainly believe… I have no issue with Alex personally. From the USTA standpoint, he was born in Russia, he has family there, he should repay the USTA. He's actually signed something saying that and we'll see what happens."

I followed up asking if the USTA is continuing to explore options and McEnroe said, "that is correct."


Really Patrick? Alex was not ever going to be part of the United States Davis Cup team was he? Like Pervak, its a dream of his to play in the Olympics. He found a way to play and he took it. Sad that Patrick doesn't see the irony of his position and what it says about the American tennis establishment.


Happy Holidays to everyone who celebrates at this time of year.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Australia's Drewitt New ATP Chairman

From the ATP World Tour:


Brad Drewett, former player and current ATP senior executive, has been named as the organisation’s new Executive Chairman and President, it was announced today. He begins his role on January 1, 2012, and will be based in the ATP's London office.

The 53-year-old Australian’s 3-year appointment was voted unanimously by the ATP Board of Directors with Drewett considered to be ideally qualified to take on the multi-faceted role with his extensive experience at the ATP. Drewett currently serves as CEO of the ATP International Group, where he has overseen operations in the Middle East, Asia and Pacific regions since 1999. Prior to that, Drewett served as an elected member of the Player Council and an ATP Player Board Representative (1993-1999). He has also been Tournament Director of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals and formerly the Tennis Masters Cup since 2001, and has been instrumental in the event’s tremendous success.

During his 12-year professional playing career, Drewett reached a career-high ranking of 34 in singles, winning two ATP World Tour titles, and represented Australia in Davis Cup competition. The Australian Open Junior champion (1975, 1977) reached the quarter-finals in his first Grand Slam in Melbourne in 1976.

“I am honoured to have this opportunity to lead the ATP, an organisation that I am proud to have been a part of since the beginning of my professional playing career,” Drewett said. “The ATP World Tour and men’s tennis are stronger than ever and it is my intention to continue to lead the organisation on this successful path, working hand in hand with our players and tournaments. I am very excited about the opportunities ahead.”

ATP Player Council President Roger Federer said, “Brad is a very experienced executive and has been an effective leader within the ATP for many years. He understands the global nature of the business as well as the complexities of dealing with all of the Tour's stakeholders. I am confident that Brad's work ethic and leadership will help contribute to the continued success of the ATP World Tour.”

ATP Board Representative Gavin Forbes said, “Brad has the perfect combination of proven business abilities and understanding of player and tournament perspectives to oversee the continued growth of the ATP World Tour. He has been an integral part of the Tour’s success over the last decade, and will be able to get straight to work in January thanks to his deep relationships within the sport.”

If anyone is surprised by this you haven't been paying attention. The running of the ATP is safely in the hands of the Tennis Axis. Drewitt is the first Australian to be named to the position. None of that crap about players having more of a say.

Since there were public reports of a bitter split in the player ranks it's going to be interesting to see how Drewitt handles all of the issues raised by the Gang of Four at the US Open.

I don't know anything about the man so I could only speculate about what positions he will take and I'm not going to do that. I suppose I could make a guess given what has been published about his background but I won't at this time. I will say that I'm sure the USTA, LTA and FFT are raising celebratory toasts.

Congratulations Mr. Drewitt and good luck.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Rearview Mirror - A Look Back at 2011

By Savannah

There is no doubt who the ATP player of the year will be: Novak Djokovic. He won the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open, and for that alone he will win that accolade.

However at the end of the year the names on the lips of tennisheads were Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Federer set the bar high for himself winning his home tournament in Basel and the Paris Masters at Bercy, and came into the 2011 ATP WTF on a roll. Playing on a surface that appears custom made for him, Federer was the last man standing at the end achieving an emotional win over France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Nadal, who never plays well at the WTF put in a decent showing but went home early. All of the tentativeness and seeming distraction that he showed in London disappeared on the red clay court of Sevilla. Even when it looked as if he were going to falter - falling behind and losing the first set of the fourth rubber, he climbed back into the match and for the first time in his career played the match that won the Davis Cup championship for Spain.

With the top two draws in men's tennis closing their respective years with impressive displays on favored surfaces fans are wondering if this momentum will carry them into 2012 on a high.

Nadal has already said he will not be playing DC for Spain in 2012 due to the Olympics. Federer on the other hand has confirmed that he will play the tie between Switzerland and the United States in February. I haven't read if he will play if Switzerland wins and moves on in the Davis Cup.

Djokovic on the other hand has played lackluster tennis since the US Open. Andy Murray, who had a tremendous Asian swing also petered out during the end of the year.

Let's be real here. A lot of what happens after the US Open depends on what is best for the top players. They've come through a long and grueling season where they have to balance personal goals against national goals, physical and mental needs against the demands of the tour. With the institution of mandatory tournaments the players have lost control over their years. The US inspired downgrade of Monte Carlo during the spring European clay court swing and back to back hard court Masters events on US hardcourts in the spring and summer take their toll. Let's not forget the French Open/Wimbledon swing. It's not back to back but takes a toll mentally on players who wish to excel at both events. And just for shits and giggles let's add the Olympics to the pot. Something had to give and it will probably be Davis Cup for the men.

Many of the Europeans are still pissed about what happened to both Monte Carlo and Hamburg. Just as with Davis Cup the ATP seems to want to cow tow to the needs of the United States tennis establishment and forces players to play tournaments they can only opt out of due to injury. Could this be the reason Richard Krajicek is a favorite to take the reins of the ATP? Could this also be why no announcement has been made as to whether he, or someone else, has gotten the job? What does it mean that Roger Federer is one of the players (I'm assuming there are others) against Krajicek? As a fan I could speculate about personal ties and friendships that may be affecting the selection but I'd be doing nothing more than gossiping, something I don't do here.

For the ATP 2012 is going to be a barn burner. The fight between the top four men is going to be as vicious as a knife fight in a back alley.
I'll be the person in a dark corner watching with a feral grin on my face.


Last evening Serena Williams posted a video on YouTube showing her trying to recreate serving the ball off of a person's head. Her hitting partner Sascha was the victim and needless to say hilarity ensued. I can't tell you where exactly Serena hit Sascha. I can tell you that Serena is lean and mean. I always measure Serena's fitness by her waist. It's almost non existent. Two weeks ago Serena and her sister Venus Williams played an exhibition match in Colombia that Venus won. Venus, who is struggling with an auto immune disease, has vowed to be relevant in 2012. Serena has said that she'll play Fed Cup for the United States. Does this mean that the Williams women will take the WTA by storm, depose wannabe greats and resume their reign over women's tennis? I think we should all take a deep breath and look at what is going on in women's tennis.

Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, won Wimbledon and the YEC and deserves whatever accolades she receives. Is she going to take over the top ranking from Caroline Wozniacki? Statistically she can.

There were four different Slam winners for the WTA in 2011: Kim Clijsters won the Australian Open and then pretty much took the rest of the year off. Li Na won the French Open. As mentioned Petra Kvitova won Wimbledon and Samantha Stosur won the US Open. None of the Slam winners showed much ability to win anywhere else though and only Kvitova had enough functioning brain cells left to put her game back together and win the YEC in Istanbul.

Of the four Slam winners the most consistent, based on how she ended the year, was Kvitova yet her performance between Wimbledon and Istanbul was abysmal. There is a legitimate argument to be made that for the new Slam winners the increased demands from their Federations coupled with those made by the tour and sponsors probably blind sided and distracted them. I hate to compare the men and the women but it only makes you appreciate more what Federer and Nadal have done with their careers. The only active women players accustomed to dealing with success on and off the court are the sisters Williams, Maria Sharapova, and to a lesser extent Kim Clijsters.

Maria Sharapova is, in my opinion, the woman to watch. Fans know what Serena is capable of. She's won in Australia where Venus has always struggled. Those struggles may be related to her health issues as we now know but Venus puts enough pressure on herself without me piling on. Unless the Kvitova who showed up at Istanbul shows up in Australia, and can sustain a level of play high enough to take her to the seventh match of the Australian Open the war will be between Serena and Pova. I don't think Kvitova moves well enough to hang tough for two weeks and that lack of movement will cause her thought processes to break down as balls whiz past her.

I will stick by my opinion that Victoria Azarenka doesn't have the temperament of a Grand Slam champion. There will be so much pressure on Li Na to do well in Melbourne that she may crash and burn at the start of the second week.

And new coach or not Caroline Wozniacki will continue to do what she's been doing - beat up on lower ranked players and get out played by her betters at majors. If Ricardo Sanchez somehow succeeds in changing her game and making her more of an offensive player more power to him. I can only see him bringing a new level of clowning to her matches. Just as what Djokovic did to Gael Monfils at the US Open a few years back defined him for me Sanchez bullshit with that stop watch he borrowed from Flavor Flav against Venus was his defining moment. If he thought it was a good idea for Wozniacki to mock Serena during a recent exo then I rest my case. Wozniacki is poised to lose the top WTA ranking and only her hardcore fans will shed a tear. When the men's tour has multiple Grand Slam winners at the top of it's ranking system it kinda looks bad for the WTA to have a woman who can only beat lower ranked players at lower tier events sitting on top of theirs.

Looking Forward - The Olympics

Everything in tennis is going to be affected by the Olympic Games. It's a rare mix of personal achievement and pride of country for tennis players, a chance to be all for yourself and throw in a little patriotism on the way. I also expect that outside of the Slams. Masters 1000 tournaments and Premier tournaments for the women there are going to be some wacky results. No one wants to show up in London on one leg and dragging an arm behind them. Every country wants it's tennis federation to send its best and brightest except France when it comes to it's female players.

Marion Bartoli is appealing the French rule that forbids her to have her father along as coach for the Olympics. It's the same beef she's had with them seemingly forever and that has kept her from playing Fed Cup for her country. It's obvious Marion wants to play. It's obvious she's their best player. I get that the French want to ensure a team spirit for it's Fed Cup and national teams but it boggles the mind that there is no way a compromise can be reached so that their top female player will compete for them in the Olympics. I seem to remember seeing the men having their personal coaches along with them during Davis Cup competition and no one was pitching a bitch about it. What is it then with the women?

It should be said that Marion's coach Dr. Walter Bartoli reached out to the powers that be back in July to try and work something out but was rejected.

As for the United States I don't know where to begin. Our Fed Cup team was relegated for the first time ever and with Federer playing Davis Cup in February will our Davis Cup team follow them? I've said it before and I'll say it again. Andy Roddick, hate him or love him, has done what was asked of him. Until 2011 he was a mainstay in the top ten. He played the big dogs as well as he could. He tried to make some changes in his game. It's time for some of the young guns to step up and make some noise. Will it be John Isner? Sam Querrey? Donald Young? Ryan Harrison? A lot of money has been invested in these players and I'm sure the USTA is looking for some return on its investment.

But hey at least there are names on the men's side. Who does the US look to as far as women players are concerned? Melanie Oudin imploded due to the pressure put on her. Irina Falconi had a good run at the end of the year but I haven't heard from her since. Lauren Davis? Tiny. On a good day the big babes - Kvitova, Azarenka, Vera Zvonareva, even Wozniacki, will eat our current crop of young women alive.

Again being clear Venus is a big maybe. It's clear what she wants to do but she needs her body to go along with the program. Serena is fit but will she be crucified for putting what is best for her career and longevity ahead of what the so called tennis media feels is her duty to her tennis association? After them there is no one folks. No one.

I've gone on long enough so I'll end with Sam Querrey's comment to the effect that it's possible for six or seven American men to be in the top twenty by the end of 2012. I guess he's looking at the possibility of some really flukey results on the tour. But like I said at least I can name some American men who are legitimately part of the conversation even if they are asides at this point.

2012 looks to be a year that will bring achievement and change. I can't wait.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Is It 2012 Yet?

by Savannah


In the wake of Spain's Davis Cup team's crushing defeat of Argentina followed by statements from Feliciano Lopez, Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer that they will not play DC in 2012 and rumors that Albert Costa will not be DC Captain there was a lot of speculation about the role that Nicolas Almagro will play in 2012. Almagro, aware of the speculation, answered in a series of Tweets and a long blog post.

To summarize it seems he's saying that even if the top 400 Spanish players declined to play he doubts he'll be considered due to his total inability to play well on hard courts. The blog post is of course in Spanish and in the shit Google translation (no idioms) appears to be very introspective and philosophical.

With Spain seemingly out of the running for 2012 it's very possible one of the bridesmaids of the World Group will be singing and dancing at the end of next year. Who? I have no idea.

The 2012 World Group is as follows:


1. Spain
2. Argentina
3. Serbia
4. France
5. Czech Republic
6. United States
7. Croatia
8. Russia

The seeded nations will play against the following countries:


While typing this I wondered if Russia is cheating by having two teams but I digress...

What I am happy about is that the spectacle in Seville has probably shut down the bitching of the "lets change Davis Cup" crowd for now. I'm sure there'll be sniping from the sidelines about eliminating the choice of surface option among other things once play gets underway but that's another column for another year.

While the drama about who will carry on the winning tradition in Spain goes on the drama in the United States is about who will reestablish the tradition in the axis countries. I've been ranting about the feeling of entitlement among the axis countries when it comes to Davis Cup play but I recently read some statistics, maybe I should say misuse of statistics, that go a long way in justifying their feelings.

Consider the following:

No nation other than the USA, Great Britain, France or Australia won the Davis Cup between 1900 and 1974. That's three-quarters of a century. And the next nation to break through was still strongly Anglo-European South Africa (although they won by walkover, when India refused to play because of South Africa's official embrace of apartheid). 
Since '74 though, eight new nations have been added to the honor roll. All that is, to some degree, the result of the dramatic shift to "Open" tennis, which arrived in 1968 and abolished the historic separation of players into amateurs and professionals...
Until 1972, when the present-day World Group format was adopted, the ITF used the "Challenge Round" approach. That is, the winner each year sat out the competition until the other nations of the world played at intervals over must of the next year for the right to "challenge" the holder in a final.
...the ITF ought to make a significant effort to draw a bold, thick line between the Challenge Round and World Group eras. It has not done so to this point, and while that lessens the complications, it doesn't help the game appear of-the-moment, representative, or credible. If we're so happy and eager to separate the amateur and Open eras, why not do the same for Davis Cup, now that we have enough World Group history to call on? 
That would make 1972 the first year of the professional era. Now you would have the U.S. with 8 titles, Sweden still with 7, Australia with 6, Spain with 5, France and Germany with 3, and one apiece for Croatia, Czech Republic, Italy, South Africa and Serbia — and Great Britain with zero. That seems to me a very accurate reflection of tennis geopolitics and something very much like an accurate power ranking of tennis nations.
Please click the above link for the source.

I agree 100% with this proposal. I don't think it's going to happen in time for next year but it could and should be implemented. That way we'll be comparing apples with apples and oranges with oranges. I think the Brits will fight the concept tooth and nail though. I'd like to be proven wrong but I don't think I will be.

End Notes

There are reports out of Britain that Judy Murray, mother of Andrew Murray, is going to be the next Fed Cup captain for that nation. I wonder who will coach her son?

I'm still not quite sure why Brad Gilbert got his panties all in a bunch about Sports Illustrated passing over Novak Djokovic for recognition as Sportsman of the Year. I'm also not sure why he posted his rant on Twitter. I'm thinking he must have a blog or something somewhere where he can vent his feelings. Then again maybe not.

Okay I lied. I know exactly why he did it, or I think I do. I've written here before about the close ties between the American tennis establishment and Djokovic. I guess Djokovic's American connections thought that they could get him something players like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, hell, Pete Sampras and Steffi Graf never got from SI as the magazine is called here.

Most ot the tennisheads pointed this out to Mr. Gilbert saying that the bigger slight, the one he can legitimately rant and rave about, is to tennis.
Later in the day Mr. Gilbert Tweeted something to the effect that yes the bigger slight is to tennis not an individual he happens to think a lot of. How gauche for him to let the facade slip so badly.

From now on he's Deputy Marat to you all. I mean he's already wearing leather...just saying.


All the pictures of WTA players in gowns with make up slathered all over their faces that are used to promote the women's game pale in comparison to this photograph of Svetlana Kuznetsova. In one picture you have beauty, athleticism and grace. The powers that be should hire this person as official photographer no?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sevilla Mi Corazon...

by Savannah

Midway through the second epic match of the 2011 World Group Davis Cup Final every fan in the stadium was on their feet singing the fight songs of their respective countries. For this viewer, and for the commentators on Davis Cup Television the sight raised goosebumps. It was such an electric moment I don't think I'll ever forget it even though I was watching on my laptop at some god awful hour on a Sunday morning. The electricity was palpable.

One of the comms said, and I quote "To change the event to two weeks and make it the fifth Grand Slam you've got to be kidding." Soon after that I either read or heard someone say that the United States has a problem with Davis Cup and that no one else does.

I had read about a conference call held by Mary Joe Fernandez and Jim Courier, the respective Fed Cup and Davis Cup captains for the United States but hadn't read it. I did some looking around and found a full transcript HERE
I will excerpt the following from what seems to have been a pretty decent call.

Q. Obviously we're coming into the finals weekend here. There's been a little bit of grumbling at the ATP World Tour Finals in London from Nadal and the likes about the format. Any new thoughts or insights on where that should go or where it could go at this point?
CAPTAIN COURIER: I'm sure we've had this discussion before. I'm pretty clear on the record as to what I think should take place. Do you want me to regurgitate that?
Q. Sure.
CAPTAIN COURIER: I think it's pretty clear that the Davis Cup format, which was built quite a while ago, is no longer as popular or as powerful as it could be. It certainly should be condensed into, in my opinion, a two-week format for at least the big boys. I think it should be combined with the Fed Cup, for that matter, so it becomes in effect the fifth Grand Slam, not only from an attention standpoint, but a player-attendance standpoint.
The system is broken, clearly, from my standpoint. It's not broken from the ITF's standpoint, because they still make money. What I would contend is they could make a lot more money than they currently do and that would allow them to help spread the growth of the game with the extra funds they would receive.
Let's be clear. Compared to what the Grand Slams make, taking two weeks out of the calendar each year individually, that dwarfs clearly what the ITF would make on the Davis Cup.
So it's simple economics from that standpoint. If you want to grow the game, you need money. You get more money if you have a powerful event. It's better for the sport if it gets more attention.
Give you a clear example. I don't care one bit about women's soccer. Never watched a women's soccer game outside of the Olympics and the World Cup. When the World Cup took place last year, I actually tuned in because it was building over a couple-week period. That's what the Davis Cup and Fed Cup can do if they're put in that scenario. They can build interest outside of the core base. No one in America is going to be aware that great tennis players are playing in Spain this week, outside of us on the phone. That's a shame. It should be building into something.When we played in March in the first round, now we're in December, two ties in between, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that that doesn't make sense as far as building interest.
It's nothing new. I've been taking about it for years. I'm not the only one. I don't have ownership of the idea. It's clear they're leaving a lot of money and interest on the table and that Davis Cup and Fed Cup are two of the most under-valued assets in the sport. 
When I first started doing this blog I would post Davis Cup and Fed Cup results from countries outside of the axis to show that Davis Cup and Fed Cup are not events that Australia, England, The United States and France play. Countries from Haiti to El Salvador to Iran field teams and the results are followed closely there. The bitching about the Davis Cup schedule seemed to grow louder in the US once there was no denying that the age of axis domination was over. It seems to have grown louder in the last couple of years.


When I saw the fans in that stadium singing chanting and waving flags I realized part of the problem here in the States. We don't have a soccer tradition. Football is played all over the world from Asia to Africa to South America and we are johnny come late-lies to real international competition. Only the NBA has a truly world wide following and that is becoming more and more evident in the make up of NBA teams. Don't get me wrong we know how to raise a ruckus here but nothing equals what I saw Sunday in Sevilla.

And the tennis. There was some glorious tennis played on that semi indoor court. Some tended to dismiss the first rubber between Rafael Nadal and Juan Monaco. The final score was one sided but for those of us who saw it Monaco didn't play badly at all. He played to win. It was just that Rafa was not going to lose. David Ferrer, who played the second singles rubber against Juan Martin del Potro came out of the gates with the same fire his countryman showed in the first match and after the first set it looked as if Argentina would have to worry more about winning the doubles match the next day instead of the second singles match.

Instead, four hours and forty something minutes later David Ferrer stood triumphantly on the court while Del Potro wiped away tears of frustration.
The match went down to the wire and Ferrer was fresh enough at the end to take advantage of a physically depleted Del Potro.

The next day Argentina fielded the team of David Nalbandian and Eduardo Schwank. Schwank is a newcomer to Davis Cup final play but you would never have known it watching him work with Nalbandian. The two played well together and a casual fan would never have known that that was the first time the two had played together.

That same casual fan would've wondered if Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco had ever seen each other before taking the court. They were like strangers with each other and with Nalbandian directing traffic across the net they were dispensed with in a very efficient three set match by the Argentines.

That meant that both reverse singles matches could mean something. I have to say I was amused by all the calls for the Argentine Captain Tito Vasquez to play Nalbandian against Nadal. Nalbandian, while rested and fit for Nalbandian, was in no way ready to go four hours in a singles match. No matter what Vasquez may have wanted or wished to do Del Potro was going to be the player across the net from Nadal. After seeing the way he played on Day 1 I'm sure Nalbandian, who has never been concerned with fitness, wanted no part of the Spanish star.

He may have had second thoughts when Rafa proceeded to lose seven of the first eight games and looked as lost on court as he ever has. As Rafa proceeded to get back into the match one shot, one point, one game at a time I thought about what Emilio Sanchez Vicario calls the Four C's of Spanish tennis - head (cabeza), conditioning (condicion). the heart (corazon) and the balls (cojones). You saw those principles in action in David Ferrer's gritty match. They were on display in both of Nadal's matches. Neither man thought he would lose and played that way. This is what is missing in the approach of many tennis federations. Potentially great players are treated like demigods and fail to make the cut when they hit the pro ranks. The world is supposed to bow down before them. Instead someone they never heard of is hitting balls past them with reckless abandon.


Argentina wanted this win badly but it was fitness, or lack thereof that assisted in their defeat. David Nalbandian and David Ferrer are the same age. Ferrer reportedly smokes. Yet he outlasted a very well, maybe too well rested Del Potro. Rafa, playing injury free and fairly well rested, had no issues with his fitness either.

After the Final Feliciano, David Ferrer and Rafa all announced that they will not be playing Davis Cup next year. Keeping in mind that 2012 is an Olympic year many of the top players probably won't be playing Davis Cup leaving the door open for others to claim the huge cup. But right now there is no denying that Spain, where competition and camaraderie work side by side, has become the dominant force in tennis.

End Notes:

As I type this I'm not aware of who will comprise Spain's Davis Cup team next year. Someone mentioned in passing that Costa may not be back. I have seen some rumors/wishful thinking but nothing from reputable sources.

Courier was on a roll at the above mentioned conference call. He not only wants to scrap DC format but he questioned a top player's commitment to DC by putting the wife of said player's agent on the spot. I for one think it's about time her conflict of interest was given the attention it's due.

TIM CURRY: We'll take some comments from Jim about his first year as captain and the road trip to Switzerland.(...)I don't have any information for anyone yet as to who will be on the team. That will be determined as we get a little bit closer to the tie. We'll see who is going to be healthy and playing the best as we get closer to it.
The Swiss team, they have Stanislas Wawrinka, who is a great player, very solid in singles and doubles. They have one other guy, I keep forgetting who it is...Federer, that's who it is, a very talented player in his own right. If he chooses to make himself available, which I expect he will, and I'm expecting Mary Joe Fernandez, whose husband manages him, to tell us whether or not he.
As of now, MJ, I'm operating under the assumption with Roger Federer playing the week after in Rotterdam, he'll be available for Davis Cup. Any light there?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: Not 100% sure. But I know he loves Davis Cup and went all the way to Australia after the US Open.
CAPTAIN COURIER: I'm not sure I could concede he loves Davis Cup. Based on the fact he hasn't attended a first round since 2004, I think that's a question.
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: He loves it. I think he's attended every year, if I'm correct.
Anyway, he does love it and I'm assuming he will be there, but you have to call the hubby for that one. 

Caroline Wozniacki announced that her new coach will be Jelena Jankovic's old coach Ricardo Sanchez. Good luck with that Sunshine.

No decision has been reached about the new ATP CEO. It is known that Richard Krajicek is favored by some and that Roger Federer would prefer someone with more CEO experience.

With the Exhibition Season about to get underway there could still be some interesting tennis news. We'll see.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Not With A Bang...

by Savannah

The French have been making a lot of noise and pointing fingers at entire countries in the last few weeks haven't they? Just my opinion, but were they doing that to distract people from asking why France, given the huge investment made in it's players, can be said to have the biggest bunch of underachievers in tennis right now?

I mean let's look at the facts. We saw the type of player Richard Gasquet is when he refused to go out and play a critical Davis Cup rubber for his country opting to play the meaningless dead rubber a couple of years ago.

Then there is Gael Monfils. When Gael is focused, and healthy, he is among the best on the tour but how many times have tennis fans seen him play brilliantly only to get distracted and go on walkabout?

Of the two I'd say more has been invested in Gasquet. His backhand has been described in rapturous terms by many fans and tennis writers. The infamous "Pamela" incident is something else that comes to mind when talking about the money the FFT has invested in the man who was declared the future of French tennis a few short years ago.

Why the discussion of French players?

The ATP WTF final was played Sunday afternoon. Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, officially coachless, played Roger Federer for the right to hoist the crystal trophy. Watching that match, with some of the eminences gris of French tennis courtside, Tsonga, in the second set, showed the best and the worst of the French system. The defining play for me came in the second set. Tsonga, who worked hard throughout the match, was in position to hit a cross court volley. He was practically standing on the net. Federer was out of position, and hitting cross court was the shot. Instead Tsonga went for the smash - and missed. Although Tsonga did eventually win the set in a tiebreak in my mind there was no way he was going to win the match. If Federer had had that same opportunity the cross court volley would've been played and he'd have had the point.


That is the difference between the French system and that of other European countries. Whenever French players have a chance to make a pedestrian shot for a winner they go for the bling, playing a high risk shot just because it would be so pretty.

So Jo ended up with the tray and Federer lifted the trophy. When the French decide to stop pointing fingers and have a serious discussion about what has gone wrong with their system the disappointing results can be turned around. It's not going to happen overnight but it can happen.


Daniel Nestor and Max Mirnyi are the WTF doubles champions. I watched a lot of the doubles play and Nestor and Mirnyi played good smart tennis all week.

The 2011 ATP season is now over. The Davis Cup champions will be crowned this weekend. 2012 starts in five weeks.

Friday, November 25, 2011

There Is No Favorite

by Savannah

Wonder of wonders. The ATP has given tennis fans truly wide open semifinals for its year ending WTF at the O2 in London England. I know the PC thing is to always spell out World Team Finals but if they had the balls to call it that knowing what the abbreviation would be I'm just the person to keep using the abbreviation.


David Ferrer who played the best tennis of the tournament didn't drop a set until today against Tomas Berdych. Due to the arcane rules of year ending round robin play Ferrer gets to face a man he's never won against,
Roger Federer.


Federer wanted this more than any of his top ranking peers and the level of his play during round robin showed it. It would appear that his road to the final is clear since he's going up against Ferrer who will be coming in with less than twenty four hours rest after his three set match against Berdych.


Berdych isn't the favorite against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. In fact I think that this match up is pretty even and could turn out to be a barn burner if both men play up to their potential.

The WTF's need for both semi's to be good. The level of play hasn't been the best and some appeared to sleep walk through their matches.


The usual thoughts come to mind. The season is too long. Scheduling sucks and the players are required to do more than just show up and play tennis. Of course some of the off court requirements have to do with the endorsement deals players sign but the tour requires a lot of it's top players as well.

Enough of that though. Regular readers know I don't do predictions and I'm not going to do that now. As I often say I'm a fan of tennis before anything else. Matches like Ferrer vs Berdych today are what creates tennis fans. The first two sets were riveting. Ferrer lost focus in the third set and was lucky to win a game. Of course that neon pink shirt could've had something to do with it but again I digress.

Tsonga and Federer will come in rested. I think the collective FFT will do cartwheels if Tsonga makes it to the Final no matter who he would face. I wonder if Yannick Noah will be courtside?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Emilio Sanchez Vicario - The Four C's Are Our Magic Potion

The following is an English translation of an open letter sent by Emilio Sanchez Vicario to Yannick Noah in response to Noah's comments about Spanish players and what he called a "magic potion".

Translation credit at the end of the article.

They´re special, same as you were

Dear Yannick,
I write to you as a tennis player and friend, but I could also do it as the President of the Athletes’ Association of Spain, and the content of this letter would be very similar.

When I heard your inappropriate statements, I thought that probably your words were taken out of context, or that they were said in the heat of the moment. However, when I saw that the statements were from an article which was thought, written and sent from you to a newspaper for publishing, I felt a profound disappointment. You have hurt the Spaniards, the athletes and me; I think it is not fair to discredit the triumphs of Spanish athletes by treating them all as cheaters. You, who always defended sportsmanship! Is this a sportsman’s behavior? I don’t think we deserved it.

You and I competed together, we are friends and we have even discussed this topic at some dinner. The truth is that I am still stunned, you give to understand that being physically strong or having a privileged body is because of taking magic potions. Then, those who competed with you, what should we think? We had before us a much stronger and athletic player, faster, more explosive, and we thought: “he is the Great Yannick, pure talent, naturally strong, how lucky he is”. We never thought that you had the potion of Asterix.

What we do have in Spain, and you were a great paradigm of this, is that we have channeled the energy to create the best means to compete, and this goes beyond tactics and technique. These four factors are the head (cabeza), the condition (condición), the heart (corazón) and the balls (cojones). If you channel these four factors, it appears this energy that makes the difference. This Spanish four Cs, the four principles of the great Severiano Ballesteros, is what today leads most of Spanish athletes. This is our potion, dear Yannick.

I take this opportunity to tell you that Spain began sports competition in a continuous manner 30 years ago, the same stage where we improved as a country and got to the level of Europe. This social improvement gave us the confidence to believe more in ourselves and to be able to believe in our four Cs, mainly due to the hunger for successes not achieved before. The success in sports of Spain has been a process in which each generation has overcome the previous one, but not an overnight success as you declare.

For example, talking about our sport, tennis, where Spain leads the circuit, my generation was followed by the one of Bruguera, who won two Roland Garros. Then it came the generation of Corretja and Costa, surpassing the success of the previous one, and then the one of Moya, who achieved the number one position of the world for a few weeks, followed by Ferrero, who managed to be a solid number one.

Next it came the generation of Nadal and all the other great players we have in the top 100, which have been inspired by the previous generations and have surpassed them. The same has happened with other sports, like soccer or basketball, in which we have been gradually improving. You, who understand about soccer, can see that our players win because of their game, but not because of physical power. The same happens with our basketball players, who do not have the athletic body of your son, but they ended up beating him in the final. An exceptional generation, as Spain has in basketball, is not made overnight, indeed this is the fourth generation that succeeds. Slowly and progressively we have most of our national team playing at the NBA.

We all know that our Rafa, the only one with an outstanding physical condition, very similar than yours, wins because he channels better than anyone else the four Cs. The great champions do not win because of magic potions, they win because they are special and are able to create this unique energy, just as you did. 
Traducción de Alex Costa

Others have also commented. When there is a translation involved I've done some slight editing that will be shown in parentheses.

Christophe Rochus:

Yes, it(he) only tell the truth ... If you remember, there are two or three years, I also stated that there were doped on the circuit, which had incurred the wrath of ATP. But we must stop the hypocrisy. It's not just the Spanish who are the top-level sport. And why are they suddenly all before today? Let's stop pretending to believe in clean sport is everything. We must empower athletes because, after doping, there is a real danger.

The FFT French Tennis Federation issued the following statement that was posted by ESPN.

"The French Tennis Federation wishes to express its disagreement with regards to the comments made by Yannick Noah," the FFT said in a statement Tuesday. "Faced with the scourge of doping, accusations without proof and provocative comments are inappropriate."
There is also this comment by Andy Miah of the University of the West in Scotland.

"The doping is a disturbing dogma, that leaves little room for serious debate on the ethical practices of elite sport. Those who issue a contrary view are disliked by the sports world," observes Andy Miah, professor at the University of the West of Scotland.For this researcher Ethics and Emerging Technology, author of "The Olympics", "it is time for what is said is heard: the fight against doping is broken."
No one is mentioning the fact that Major League Baseball is going to start testing for HGH (Human Growth Hormone) or that if the Pod that briefly, and I mean briefly, made news during the US Open provides what was called "blood doping" a lot of this will become moot. How do you test for the effects of using a pod?

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I find it odd that all of the uproar comes when a non Northern European country is dominating tennis and many sports dear to Europe. The revelation of the active coverup of Andre Agassi's use of illegal drugs was met with mild outrage and much less drama among the tennis "media".

Don't get me wrong. Use of PED's, chemical or not, is not within the spirit of competition on any level, professional or amateur, and where it is found should be exposed and punished.

It's going to be interesting to see if this story has legs or like the contretemps of the summer be allowed to fade away.


Special mention must be made of the blog TennisHasASteroidProblem where more extensive commentary on this topic can be found. I don't agree with what they seem to be implying by the tennis players pictures featured on the site but for this subject they've done a good job of putting all the information in one place. Internal links referenced here can be found at that site.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

As The Stomach Churns

by Savannah

The following is an article that featured comments by French Open winner Yannick Noah that originally appeared in Le Monde, the French newspaper. The translation was done by another French newspaper, Le Figaro.


Singer and former athlete Yannick Noah has unleashed a  tempest in both France and Spain with statements published in the French newspaper Le Monde this weekend. He accused Spanish athletes of using performance-enhancing drugs.
“How can a nation start to dominate a sport to this degree overnight?” questioned the former tennis player, who is famous for winning the 1983 French Open. “Sport today is a little bit like Astérix at the Olympics: if you don’t have a magic potion, it is hard to win. And now it seems like the Spanish have fallen into the cauldron. Lucky devils.3

The French celebrity finished in addressing the legalization of drug use.
“The best attitude to take is to accept doping,” he said. “Then everyone will have the magic potion.”

These statements unleashed severe responses from either side of the border. Noah’s son Joakim is a basketball player for the Chicago Bulls of the NBA. While playing for the French national team in August, lost to Spain.

Spanish Sports Minister José Luis Saez said Yannick Noah was “jealous” of Spanish players after his son’s loss.  French Sports Minister David Douillet said Noah’s statements were “serious and, certainly, irresponsible.”

Players and their families also reacted violently to Noah’s statements.

“It shocks me that someone whose honesty has been questioned would allow himself to speak so negatively of Spanish athletes,” said Tony Nadal, uncle of the famous Spanish player Rafael Nadal. “It is really just ridiculous for him to come out saying that because there have been lots of rumors about him. I’m sure that ‘Rafa’ and David Ferrer have never taken anything in their lives.”

Suspicions about Spain

As often happens, Yannick Noah spoke spoke his mind, setting aside whether or not his comments were politically correct.
However, his questions on the brazen success of Spanish athletes summed up the skepticism of a fair number of observers.

Dr. Jean-Pierre de Mondenard, a specialist in performance-enhancing drugs, confirmed this.

“We can’t actually say he’s wrong on this point, because we have similar suspicions about Spanish athletes,” Mondenard said. “Today, anti-doping tests are incapable of proving who is cheating and who isn’t. Most tests happen during the competitions and thus predictable for the athletes. Tests administered unexpectedly, during training, are better indicators. Finally, history tells us that each time a country dominates a sport, there is doping behind it.

Germany, China, Italy… examples of this proliferate…

In an article published in French sports journal L’Equipe, David Howman, director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency, confirmed that users were ahead of the game.

“We have created a anti-doping industry that is humming,” he said. “In 2010, we had 36 positive cases out of 258,267 tests; that’s ridiculous.”

Circus Games and Health Risks

Critics say that legalization of performance enhancing drugs endorsed by Noah (and others before him) is an extremely dangerous solution. Above all else, it is a public health risk.
“Taking drugs while fully exerting yourself physically is excessively dangerous,” said Mondenard. “There were numerous deaths in the 1990s connected to the use of erythropoietin. In the long term, there are grave consequences. Your life expectancy is practically amputated.”

Legalization would make the sports world into “circus games” say critics. They say that the biggest problem with total liberalization is that all athletes would be obliged to take drugs to win, even those who currently shun this scourge on the sports world.

Moreover, allowing chemically enhancers would give a huge advantage to athletes from rich nations.  If this happened, the sports world equity so important to Yannick Noah would once again be ruined.
Where to begin in assessing Noah's comments? 

Let's be clear. Richard Gasquet, Gael Monfils, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are all good players. They're just not great players. Much of the success of Spanish players has to do with their mental preparation. You can't say the Spaniards have the beautiful games or style of the French players but they've won not only Slams but Davis Cup ties as well. 

Perhaps Noah and the FFT should look inward and see why so many of their players are mentally and physically fragile and seem to value style points more than anything else. Perhaps the French should look at their internal tournament schedule and put less demand on their professional players.

The current crop of Spanish tennis players has set the bar high and the rest of the tennis world, instead of whispering in private and whining in public about doping should be looking to see why, without the assistance of the pod used by some and to now no proof of doping despite all the wishing it were true, are the ones to beat between the lines, whether they're drawn on concrete, grass or clay. Technically sound games and good mental preparation beat style, flash and expectations any day.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The 2011 London Draw

Group A 

Novak Djokovic 
Andy Murray 
David Ferrer 
Tomas Berdych 

Group A head to heads.

Djokovic/Murray 6-4
Djokovic/Ferrer 6-4
Djokovic/Berdych 7-1

Group B 

Rafael Nadal 
Roger Federer 
Jo-Wilfrid Tsonga 
Mardy Fish

Group B head to heads

Nadal/Federer 17-8
Nadal/Tsonga 6-2
Nadal/Fish 7-1

Miscellaneous Information

Surface: Indoor Hard
Ball: Head ATP

Monday, November 14, 2011

I Wish I Could Quit You...

by Savannah

I had no intention of being away from blogging as long as I was. I went for a standard eye check up and ended up needing eye surgery with a recovery time of four weeks. I was told I was able to return to a normal existence last Monday, but today, things are less blurry so I feel okay getting back to blogging. I was actually going to wait until the WTF was over but here I am. Nothing to say except that tennis is a hard addiction to overcome.

As regular readers know I don't usually talk about the ATP but a few things did catch me by surprise, one of which is the the sudden fascination with the main stream tennis media with appearance fees, specifically the fees paid to Andy Murray during the Asian swing and the man ranked ATP #1 Novak Djokovic. Murray is said to have received a ton of money for his appearances including Shanghai where he was the top player after Djokovic withdrew. To my knowledge no figure was ever released.

Then there's the controversy about the $1.6 million Djokovic was paid to in effect one match in Paris.


The $1.6 million was paid to a man who has not played much recently due to injury. To be honest I was surprised that he played a match in Paris. It can't be that he needs the money. I have read the defenses of Djokovic playing and taking the money and running. I've also read the comparisons being made by his fans to Rafael Nadal who, due to injury, withdrew from some top level tournaments.

The thing is: Rafa played until he couldn't. To my knowledge he hasn't ever played under the same conditions Djokovic did in Paris. I watched him at the 2008 US Open play despite pleas by his family to quit. Does it look bad for Djokovic to do what he did? Yes it does. There is no way to get around that fact.

Then again I wonder why the topic of appearance fees come up now when they were never an issue when Roger Federer was at the top of the sport. Some did mention not only the appearance fees but the perks a tournament was required to provide to ensure Federer's appearance.

 The other big ATP controversy centered around Alex Bogomolov Jr announcing that he wants to play Davis Cup for Russia, the birthplace of his father. The argument was made that the United States tennis establishment paid for Bogomolov's training and that his first obligation is to those who have supported him throughout his career.

I have to say that that argument is surprising since Maria Sharapova, who has lived and trained in the States from childhood, was never called out when she decided to play Fed Cup for Russia. There were those who mewled that she was after all Russian and had every right to play for the land of her birth though.

After the announcement by Bogomolov Jr a brawl broke out on Twitter between Dmitri Tursunov and the blogger who was bagging on Bogomolov. I think the blogger, if he knew Tursunov's history with the USTA, as well as those who came out in defense of the position the blogger took, would have realized Tursunov has every right to call bullshit on those who say Bogo Jr owes the United States.

If you recall Dmitri, who is more of a Californian than a Russian, asked the USTA for help in getting his American citizenship so that he could play Davis Cup for the United States. The USTA respectfully declined. So I ask again why is Bogomolov Jr a traitor and Sharapova isn't? Just sayin'.

It looks like Jo-Wilfried Tsonga whom I call Ti-Ali has no qualms about expressing his opinions on his peers. Tsonga has been quoted as saying that "winning against Djokovic means less than winning against Federer or Nadal". The actual quote, in French, is as follows: "Djokovic n'a pas encore la même aura que Nadal ou Federer" which Google translates as "Djokovic has not the same as Nadal or Federer will". Babelfish translates it as "Djokovic...not yet the same will that Nadal or Federer ". If you are a native French speaker I welcome your clarification. One could say, that just like Ali could do back in the day, Jo's trash talk got to Djokovic in Paris.

I'll end my ATP musings with something I got in my email from
Serbia's Foreign Minister, Vuk Jeremic, is expected to take over the country's tennis federation, according to a report on Serbian television picked up by AP. 
The official announcement is set to take place at a meeting on Nov. 24. Apparently there was a dispute between Novak Djokovic's father and the heretofore Serbian tennis chief, Slobodan Zivojinovic, who has resigned. 
While Zivojinovic played professionally -- reaching No. 19 in singles and No. 1 in doubles -- it is unknown what is Jeremic's on-court experience. 
However, as the sport has launched the small country into the spotlight in recent years, Jeremic's official role has involved tennis business. 
Earlier this year the Foreign Minister elevated Serbia pro tennis players to "diplomat" passport clearance so they can travel more easily. He was reported as calling Djokovic, Ana Ivanovic, and others "ambassadors," and saying, "I am honored to promote to diplomatic service people who have contributed to the popularity of Serbia in the world." 
Many headlines and stories have discussed tennis being Serbia's top export. And in September, Greg Bishop of The New York Times wrote that there is no explanation why the country has suddenly turned out so many top players. Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic were quoted here on the subject. 
With the success of Djokovic and others, it's likely tennis has been an affair of the state for some time. Jeremic's impending appointment ties the two games -- politics and tennis -- even closer, perhaps.
And now to the WTA.

Does the #1 ranked player for two years in a row automatically get player of the year? That seems to be what some people think. Caroline Wozniacki who was given the nickname "Sunshine" by no lesser being than the CEO of the WTA has been ranked at the top of the heap for the last two years and is praised for her consistency. So what if she's never won a major and didn't even make a Grand Slam final in 2011. She is ranked number one and by default is player of the year right? Wrong. I think she needed a strong showing at the YEC to be able to make the claim that she's player of the year. I think there were those who were strongly leaning to Maria Sharapova as well. But despite her post Wimbledon slide Petra Kvitova, Wimbledon Champion came to Turkey to take names and she did showing the form that won her her first Slam.

What got my panties in a bunch is Sabine Lisicki winning comeback player of the year. I mean really people? When you have survived two foot surgeries along with life threatening blood clots and come within an inch of winning both Wimbledon and the US Open I'd think you were a shoo-in for comeback player of the year. I could go into why Serena Williams didn't get the nod but that would be beating a dead horse...then again maybe I should.

During the US Open Serena was called for "hindrance" when she roared after winning a point. It was said that her roar was "intimidating" to her opponent. Imagine my surprise when Petra, in front of the same chair umpire, was screaming in her opponents face after almost every winning point and not a word was heard from the chair.

There was also a lot of stage whispering about the WTA and ATP combining their respective YEC's. At first glance this would only benefit the WTA although the turn out in Istanbul was nothing sort of fantastic for women's tennis. I'm waiting to see the attendance in London.

End Notes


There will be tons of ink, cyber and otherwise, devoted to the era of FedAl. Tons of ink has already been spent. But the one thing no one will ever be able to say, no matter who they stan for, is that either man ever disrespected the sport of tennis. Both men have shown nothing but respect and carried themselves on court with respect not only for each other but for the sport that has made both men unbelievably wealthy.

That is why the joy I saw on Federer's face after winning Bercy was so refreshing. He's had a rough year and the death watch was already gathering steam but there he was, on a court some were whining was too slow, adapting to it and winning. And at the end there was no smug expression on his face. Instead there was the joyous satisfaction of winning. You all know I'm not a Federer fan but I think he deserves to be recognized for his pride in winning a title some feel is undeserving of being counted as a  Masters 1000.


Then there is Venus Williams. Wounded warrior though she is her love of competition, of the sport of tennis, has her aiming to try and come back despite a chronic health condition. The same can be said about her sister. The only reason these women keep playing is because they love the sport that made them wealthy. I think it's safe to say that looking back at those who have defined their sport for the last decade or so when they're gone they will be taking something with them that will not be seen again in tennis for a very long time.