Saturday, July 19, 2014

This Week in the ATP

by Savannah

When Lewis Carroll wrote the phrase "Curiouser and curiouser!" he was not referring to tennis, not the tennis of his time and surely not today's game or any of it's players. Still the phrase is apt to describe what is going on in the ATP, more specifically at Gstaad where a WC was denied one Viktor Troicki for the Qualifying tournament but granted into the Main Draw.

You remember Viktor? The player who told drug testers that he wasn't going to give a blood sample the day they requested it but that he could comply with their request the next day? The person who then said he thought he could do it because the lead tester told him he could, something the lead tester denied ever saying? The same person who enlisted the current ATP #1 player to argue his case in the press and to anyone who would listen? Yeah that guy. The good people who run the Gstaad tournament denied Troicki's request to enter the Qualifying draw as a WC. That made sense. He's been away for a year and there are many other players who abided by the rules and worked hard to be able to get into Qualifying so give a drug cheat a pass? Let him play a Challenger or two. It's not as if he were lighting the tour on fire with his play before and paying customers deserved to see someone who could play at the current pro level. So you can imagine my surprise to see he got a Wild Card into the Main Draw at the tournament. If they were going to do this why didn't they say that was their intention from the beginning instead of appearing to hold the moral high ground and all that?

Someone named Ravi Ubha wrote a pretty sympathetic to Troicki article in CNN's International edition that fans of Serbian tennis are using to justify their "outrage" at the suspension. When it first happened I said that if they gave Troicki a pass after refusing to take a mandatory test everyone would be telling the testers to come back the next day or the next week for that matter. That a top player would even defend someone in this situation is stunning in my opinion. But as I always say I can say what I want because I'm not beholden to anyone. If the current top player in the world, the person who represents men's tennis to the world, can't see why his friend was wrong and should've done what Marin Cilic did and take his punishment like a man instead of whining about it then I question that man's dedication to sportsmanship. Then again Troicki's best friend was caught using a non hyperbaric hyperbaric chamber and nothing was done so I guess he should expect the same treatment for his close friend.

Another ATP story of interest is IMG dropping Bernard Tomic with two years left on his contract with them. I guess when your father goes around beating people up and you're unable to sever your business relationship with him you're willing to pay that price. In a terse statement posted on Twitter and reported in Australian media IMG said the following.

"IMG and Bernard Tomic have mutually ended our relationship. We wish Bernard great success on and off the tennis court."

There was also this incident involving Tomic the younger reported in :

Tomic was also reported by Australian newspapers to have attended a party in February where underage girls were offered drugs, but he was not linked to illegal activity by police. In November, he was photographed partying with high school girls at a nightclub.

Tomic’s father, John, resumed coaching him in May, having been banned from tournaments for a year by the ATP following an assault on his son’s former hitting partner that left him with a broken nose and neck injuries.

No mention was made of the younger Tomic's naked wrestling with a male friend in a hot tub but boys will be boys.

Then there's Fabio Fognini using an ethnic slur against a Serbian player during his loss to said player last week. I found it ironic that after I responded to a reader's post with a comment about staying out of European ethnic disputes while acknowledging I know they exist this incident occurred. Some have responded by detailing a history of the Balkans while others argue that because the player involved has light colored hair it's impossible for him to be considered a member of the ethnic group Fognini referenced while others say it was the heat of battle. Still others point to the current issue of immigration and how it's being played out in Italy at the moment. I'm sticking to my guns and staying out of it. He said it. He admits he said it. And he gave a somewhat halfheared apology. Maybe he should stick to posing in his swim trunks no? That will give people a lot to talk about.

 photo e0a69976-af41-4ccc-b3a5-953f7e0ca6ae_zpsb60735a8.jpg
Photo via the ATP

I almost giggled myself silly this morning watching the match in Hamburg between seventeen year old Alexander Zverev of Germany and David Ferrer of Spain. What was so funny? That's Zverev pictured above. The commentators focused on the great week he had in Hamburg and how there was almost no way Ferrer was going to want to lose to a 17 year old kid who is still growing into his body. They also talked about how there have been plenty of good junior players who looked poised to make noise on the Main Tour who didn't pan out. Their conclusion was one good week does not a career make. Ferrer handed the kids ass to him and afterwards Zverev said that his loss today was a lesson and showed him how far he has to go to be a top player. I'm paraphrasing of course but I was glad to read his comments.

I'm sorry I said I was laughing to myself. I was because all I could think about was what Stacey Allaster would be doing to make this kid the face of the ATP. Come on. You know she would so do it.


James said...

You leave out that Troicki DID give a urine sample and that was clean. Further, Troicki was ill that day - even the tennis officials acknowledge that.

And at the arbitration trial the Doping Control Officer was found to be lying about something. When she was asked why she didn't see a particular official during the Troicki episode she claimed he was too far away - 20 minutes. But in fact the court found his office was just several meters away - so more like a 20 SECOND walk!

Because of that they lobbed off 6 months of the original 18 months ban. But fact is that SHE was proven to be found lying about at least one thing and Troicki wasn't proven to be found lying on anything. It was a he-said she-said. But when the 'she' has been caught in a proven lie, then more weight should be on his explanations than hers.

Savannah said...

The fact still remains that if Troicki was allowed to tell the drug testers when it was convenient for him to take the test then every athlete in every sport would be telling the testers when and where they wanted to take the test.

I'm not an expert on illegal drug use in sports but I believe there are substances that can only be found via a blood test. I also think that there are substances that wash out of the blood after a certain time. The fact that he balked at a blood test speaks volumes to this non professional. The fact that he said he'd be okay to take the test the next day is weird to me. The fact that he all of a sudden developed a fear of needles when he'd taken the test before strikes me as odd.

I don't accept this notion that the tester may have fudged how long it took her to get from Point A to Point B makes her at fault in this situation. The fault lies totally with Troicki. If he was so sure he was clean - something he's never claimed - then take the test and there's no ban.

Savannah said...

Also he said he was ill AFTER playing his match. During the match he didn't show any symptoms of illness if I recall correctly.

vw said...

In defense of the hyperbaric chamber that Novak used a couple of years ago in NJ at the home of Gorden Udell; that device is legal. Michael Phelps, the million time gold medalist from the US used the pod for one year in his own home, sleeping in it every night according to the 60 minutes piece on him. I can provide the 60 minute piece. Maybe this gave him an unfair advantage that the Olympic committee should look into, I don't know. Also know that Christine McHale is/was a user of this device so the USA doesn't seem to mind it much.

Savannah said...

vw I know the chamber has been used by other athletes and that the US turns a blind eye to it. Blood doping by any other name is blood doping in my opinion and I will continue to talk about it and how it's being used to skirt existing rules against the practice.

Karen Williams said...

I don't even need to say anything about Troicki as I think I have made my views clear via social media. He should have taken the test and let the chips fall where they may. The fact that he has been welcomed with open arms by the tennis community that calls themselves bloggers/journalists does a great disservice to the sport. He should have been given the same treatment as Odesnik. Frankly for all we know Odesnik was probably supplying players with HGH which is perhaps the reason why he is being villified by all and sundry because he became a snitch.

Savannah said...

It's amazing to me that he's being treated as some sort of victim. He made his bed hard and he had to lay in it. I seem to be one of the few who sees this situation for what it is, or is speaking openly about it. One of the people I respect referenced his "needle aversion" in a response to a comment I made. He took the test the next day so what happened to that "phobia"? Besides I thought he was "sick" despite having played an entire match without incident.

Some are more equal than others I suppose.

Karen Williams said...

The same defending that goes on from tennis "fans" is the same defending that went on with Fognini. Everyone described him as a character with personality, (whatever the hell that means) and he has been getting a pass. When he put his hands on the chair umpire everyone described it as a friendly thing between 2 men. Now that he has descended into racial slurs everyone is still trying to give him a pass. I guess they are waiting until he calls out someone important then all the fan boys & girls will have something to say.

I am getting increasingly sick and tired of tennis. Like a friend of mine said the other day, just pay attention to the game and forget about the personalities. You will enjoy the sport a whole lot better.

Savannah said...

Wait there are people defending Fognini's ethnic slur?!