I've been away for the blog for some time and an explanation is due. My sister suffered a stroke on March 3 and I've been spending most of my days sitting with her in the ICU. I'm ahead of myself this morning so I thought I'd offer brief comments on what's going on in the world of tennis. As you know I have been Tweeting a bit but I can be more expansive here.
Karen sorry I took so long to post your comment from March 1. I will ask you this though. If we went back to the old technology would a player like Dominika Cibulkova have a chance? What about some of the Asian players, male and female, who are slight and in some cases very short. Li Na is pretty tall so she doesn't need a longer racquet. I would argue that there is variety in tennis these days. People talk about baseline play with scorn but none of the players games are the same from that location. I think that people like John McEnroe need to shut up and pay attention to the nuance of the modern game. From his commentary I get the impression that he doesn't watch much tennis played outside of the United States and only the ATP inside his country. His comments about women's tennis are as sexist and dismissive as they've always been. I understand that the US wants to prop up the name recognition of it's players but if they keep putting mindless, out of shape ball bashers on court the results aren't going to change.
JMac has also been dismissive of men's doubles which is surprising given that without the Bryan Brothers, and lets not forget Serena Williams, there is no US tennis. McEnroe was out of shape and a partier back in the day. His call for a return to the old school game seems like a way to get the unthinking, underperforming US men higher up in the rankings. I've said it here before. You need to know how to think on court and other than the people I just mentioned most US players can't at the present time. That's a failure of instruction. Maybe because that failure points to his sibling he's trying to deflect criticism?
I also found Jose Higueras comments about the sense of entitlement felt by many young American players and how it's hindering their progress a breath of fresh air. It needs to be shouted from the rooftops. That said I've also been saying for years that the USTA needs to look beyond the country club set to places like Appalachia, urban areas, and other non traditional locales for people who have the will to compete but due to cut backs in after school sports and recreational facilities aren't exposed to the game. There's a lot of hype around 15 year old Francis Tiafoe at the moment but how did he start? His parents worked around a tennis court and he picked up the game. How many more like him are out there?
Higueras may be voicing issues he is facing in his work with the USTA high performance program, the same one headed by Patrick McEnroe. Look beyond the country clubs guys. There are a lot more like Francis Tiafoe out there.
The Murray and Lendl Breakup
Andy Murray has been injured. While he was out Ivan Lendl found out he likes playing on the Senior Tour and has found expanded business opportunities for himself. What happens next is up to Murray. We all know he is, as we say here, a piece of work. Frankly who is going to put up with his shit? I think he felt Lendl would kick his newly firm ass so he listened to him. He got what he wanted from the arrangement so I'm thinking the split was mutually agreed to. We're not privy to what the exact details of the contract were (I'm not anyway so if anyone is feel free to comment) so we'll never know if Lendl fulfilled his obligations, took his money and moved on per the agreement.
I know there are Us coaches who would love to get their claws into Murray again. The usual suspects? You betcha. Frankly I don't see any European taking on an American coach for reasons stated above. It's going to be interesting.
Miami and the WTA
Fans of women's tennis are up in arms about the meagre television coverage the WTA is getting from Key Biscayne. Even I was taken back by Maria Sharapova's match against Nara Kurumi not being aired anywhere. Have any of her matches been blacked out before?
I've been saying for a few years now that until the WTA starts selling its product and not it's players no one is going to give a shit about it except for the stars and even they play to half empty stadiums. I put on the Roberta Vinci vs Barbora Zahlavova Strycova match playing now on Stadium Court in place of the Li Na vs Alisa Kleybanova one (Klebs withdrew with a viral illness) and for all intents and purposes the stadium is empty. Tennis fans are pretty savvy. They're watching David Ferrer and Richard Gasquet playing their respective matches.
It pains me to see the women working so hard and playing the best tennis they're capable of before row after row of empty seats. Are there different levels of tennis played on both tours? Yes. Has the ATP done the better job of promoting their TOUR? Yes. I saw someone on Twitter saying this morning that the WTA should pull out of Miami and focus on a tournament in China. Right. The women would be playing before empty seats and no viewers on television or streams legal or illegal due to the time difference. The WTA is in crisis. The sky is blue. Water is wet. Moving on.
Idle Chit Chat
So Fabio Fognini and Flavia Pennetta are the new tennis it couple. I've seen both up close and personal and that is one beautiful pairing. That hug he gave her after her win in Indian Wells said a lot. By the way has Grigor Dimitrov's lady love shown up at any of his matches? Petra Kvitova shows up at Radek Stepanek's matches and vice versa. Inquiring minds and all that rot.
Boris Becker has had double hip surgery. Keep pushing those hard courts United States. Labeling all those who criticize them haters really works. Not.