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.


Craig Hickman said...

Welcome back, Savannah.

Karen said...

Welcome back girl. Glad to see you writing again and yes the joy on Fed's face made this particular fan very happy

Fred66 said...

Welcome back, Savannah, I know it's been a long time since I've posted a comment, but I never stopped checking out your blog.
I have to correct you on something though; Djokovic was not paid that 1.6 million as an appearance fee, it was the year-end bonus he would have missed out on, if he had not played in Paris. He had already skipped Shanghai, and the Top 10 players lose their entire bonus if they miss more than one of the Masters events.