Wednesday March 11th, 2009

Bottom line: if Roger Federer had played, would the U.S. have still beaten Switzerland in Davis Cup? -- Ray, Atlanta

• If someone asked you a hypothetical question, would you answer it? Ray asks an intriguing question that lingered during last weekend's action in Birmingham, Ala. The Yanks' win didn't come with an asterisk, but there's no question the vibe would have been a lot different had Federer played.

Just for fun, let's play this out: Wawrinka beats Blake, 1-0 Swiss. Roddick beats Wawrinka, 1-1. Have to believe the Bryans win the doubles, 2-1 U.S. Have to believe Federer beats Blake, 2-2. Then Roddick-Federer. In front of 15,000 fans. On a fast court. For all the marbles. Man, that would have been fun. Yes, Federer is Federer. But given recent history, the wildly partisan crowd, Roddick's ritually strong play in Davis Cup, I think you can make a strong case either way.

What do you think of Zina Garrison's racial bias lawsuit against the USTA? Could this get ugly? -- Matt, Chicago, Illinois

• Several of you have asked about this in the past few weeks. Obviously this is a matter for a jury -- or, more likely, two lawyers looking to settle -- and I'm the first to admit I don't have all the facts. But looking at the suit on its face, my suspicion is that Garrison has an uphill fight. Her tenure as Fed Cup captain was not particularly noteworthy. In addition to failing to win a title, the attendance was spotty, the Williams sisters -- the top two American players, by far -- seldom played, and other players complained publicly about Garrison's methods.

She claims that she was paid less than Pat McEnroe, the men's Davis Cup captain; yet that's an apples-to-oranges comparison. The schedules are different, the economies are different; the duties are different. Plus McEnroe captained a winning team in 2007. Further, that Garrison was preceded by Billie Jean King and replaced by Mary Joe Fernandez suggests there's not systematic bias against discreet and insular minorities. It's well known within tennis that, in recent years, the USTA has settled a number of lawsuits that could have caused embarrassment had they gone to trial. It will be interesting to see, especially in these austere times, how rigorously the USTA will defend itself in this latest suit.

I'm no fan of appearance fees, but give Venus some credit for her win in Mexico. She went through some tough three-setters and had jet lag to offer up as a ready excuse for an early round exit. If she did accept an appearance fee, the promoters got their money's worth. Now, my question is why can't appearance money be invested into the tournament purses? There is something inherently wrong with paying players to merely show up or maybe attend a couple of cocktail parties versus paying them for their performance. Having said that, I'd wager the entire top ten on both tours cop more money from appearance fees than winnings in a given year. Your thoughts? -- Robert Webb Dalton, Georgia, USA

• I do give Venus credit. She could have mailed it in; instead she won the title. My point is that if you're trying to organize a credible, logical tour -- in which the biggest players play the biggest events -- it's undermined when one of your most marketable stars enters a Tier III in Acapulco. Why can't appearance fees be invested in the purse? Because it's a star driven sport and tournaments need headliners to sell tickets. You want to pay the few players who put fannies in seats; you don't want to pay Anastasia Rodionova, to pick a name at random, a penny more than necessary. I'm sure if the promoters had their way, they'd commit the ENTIRE purse to one headliner.

Aside: Has anyone thought to nickname Anastasia Rodionova, "A-Rod."

Does Darren Cahill go into HOF if in his first slam coaching TMF, TMF wins Roland Garros? I know it won't happen -- unless someone takes out Rafa or Rafa goes in injured -- just wondering what if? -- Azhar Khan, Toronto

• Note to our friends in Newport: this is what it's come to. Tennis fans are wondering whether coaching a player to a Grand Slam title could ensure enshrinement. Cahill did masterful work with Andre Agassi and Lleyton Hewitt, two very different figures at two very different points in their career. He is a fine television analyst. If he can coax a Roland Garros title out of Federer, it will add to his mystique. But this is the Hall of Fame we're talking about, a pantheon for truly towering figures.

I google-imaged 'ATP logo' and it came up with the logo side-by-side with the picture of Pete. But you don't need it, any tennis fan worth their salt should recognize that classic serve. -- Calla Wilson, Durham, N.C.

• This ended up being tennis' answer to a Rorschach test. A sample of the responses we got:

Re: The ATP Logo. Found something on a tennis message board. Although it isn't anything official, it's hard to argue that it wasn't modeled after Sampras.

Check out this link and look at the picture in post #19:

-- Remi, Montreal

But wait, here's Henry Su of Mountain View, Calif.: "Who is the player on the ATP World Tour logo? More than likely no one. According to the pending trademark application (Ser. No. 77295875), the mark "consists of a silhouette of a tennis player holding a tennis racket with the terms 'ATP WORLD TOUR.'" The application was filed on Oct. 4, 2007 so the logo can't predate Sampras. (But the previous ATP logo, Reg. No. 1489705, did.) Also, Sampras presumably has a right of publicity under California Civil Code section 3344 that would prevent the ATP from using his likeness without prior consent."

And here's Raj of Philadelphia, Pa.: Where did the ATP's new logo come from? The answer, from the ATP's website:

"In October 2000, the ATP announced a couple of changes which came into effect on Jan. 1, 2001. These changes include a new logo to better reflect the professional and progressive nature of the ATP Tour in the 21st Century and a shortening of the organization's name to ATP. The updated logo, developed by the ATP in conjunction with leading brand consultant Interbrand, has refreshed and enhanced the established tradition of a player serving as the symbol of the ATP. The new player image more effectively depicts the modern day game, and its explosive combination of power and athleticism. The name change adds simplicity and strength to the brand."

Wait, it's Paul of Minneapolis, Minn.: The new ATP logo looks a lot like Lleyton Hewitt.

Hold on, here comes Sinead Cremins of the Bronx:

I'm not exactly sure, but the ATP World Tour logo kind of looks like this picture of Ivan Ljubicic, don't you think?

But Mark Tillman of Melbourne Australia/Portland, Ore.

writes: My guess is that The ATP tour logo appears to be a silhouette of Agassi. There is a photo of him at the Albert Park Reserve Tennis Centre (the spill over practice courts for the Oz Open) in just that pose. I will be fascinated to see who it may actually be.

Regarding the Dubai Peer affair, why were the Williams sisters in particular singled out for criticism for not boycotting the event? I think it's ridiculous and unfair that they are being held to this double standard. No one stood with or up for them with regards to the Indian Wells affair. In fact, they have been heavily criticized for their stance on that issue. But yet they are being asked to take responsibility for this situation, even to the point that it's been suggested they donate their prize money. Ridiculous and unfair! I would appreciate your comments. -- Mauricia John-Ajanike, Lagos, Nigeria

• A lot of you made that analogy and I'm not sure it quite works. I would say there's a big difference between a player being denied entry to an event on account of her nationality/religion and players being booed in an incident that may have been racially tinged. As unfortunate as the Indian Wells situation was, that tournament (and the tour) would like nothing more than for the Williams sisters to play.

I don't think the Williams sisters are being singled out for not boycotting. Certainly not here. In a perfect world, it would have been nice if some courageous players (be they the Williams sisters, the Serbs or some journeywoman with a particular strong spine) had boycotted; but I don't think you really can blame them for continuing.

Notwithstanding genders or the traditional female-takes-the-male's-last name upon marriage, which tennis player union would result in the most interesting name?

1) Ai Fish: Ai Sugiyama marries Mardy Fish

2) Bobby Pin: Bobby Reynolds marries Camille Pin

3) Radek Roddick: Radek Stapanek marries Andy Roddick

-- Vince Delfini, North Wales, Pa.

• Top Vince and a prize is yours. (And Vince, send me your address.) Best I can do off the top of my head: Robin White and Mariano Hood.

I am now a Roddick fan thanks to his handling of the Dubai situation (refusing to play). Let's bring the "New Balls Please" campaign -- maybe it will inspire the other players! Kidding aside, was Roddick fined or otherwise penalized for his last-minute withdrawal?

-- Jackie F., Portland, Ore.

• Surely Roddick surrendered his appearance fee. Other than that, I think he's in the clear. One final comment about the entire Dubai episode: that the Arab-Israel conflict is deeply personal and deeply polarizing is not exactly a news flash. But it was reinforced by you guys. Tons of mail, some more than 2,000 words long, explaining a position. But I was struck by the fact that virtually all of you, on both sides of the divide, were thoughtful and civil and reasonable. Maybe there's hope for us all yet.

• When was the last time Davis Cup merited a masthead editorial?

• Who knew Pat Rafter was this funny?

• From the WTA discussion about including ITF results on a player's record: "While we currently include ITF events in our player activities and win-loss records, we don't include titles won in a player's title tally. We separate them on our web bios into Sony Ericsson WTA Tour and ITF Circuit titles, and any all-time lists count Tour-level events only."

Maria of N.Y.: Federer placed eighth in the Best Dressed Man competition.

The prince, who is heir to the British throne, beat competition from Obama -- who came fourth in the top ten -- artist David Hockney (seventh) and rapper Andre 3000 (tenth).

• Another (non-tennis) appeal to New York readers, African Americans in particular.

• Was that really John McEnroe endorsing National rental cars?

Paul Scarpa of Furman is now the all-time winningest tennis coach in NCAA history.

Karen Flax (Don't call me Keith) Jardine sends this link that proves Nadal literally beat the pants off of Djokovic in Davis Cup.

• Agassi will play Outback Champions Series tennis for the first time when he participates in the The Cancer Treatment Centers of America Tennis Championships at Surprise Oct. 8-11 at the Surprise Tennis and Racquet Complex in Surprise, Ariz.

Nick Bollettieri hires Brad Gilbert.

Christopher M. Jones of West Chester, Pa. Federer's woes continue.

• Here's an Anna Kournikova status update. Cheap jokes aside, good for her.

David Berman of Honolulu: I hope you didn't feel mislabeled when last week's reader called you a WASP. She probably meant Writer And Sports Pundit.

Nice column by our friend Max Dickstein:

Phil of Sydney: Um, what? Biting boxes? I sort of understood biting metal I guess, but this?

Danielle of Baton Rouge, La,. has this week's lookalikes:

James Roday from Psych and Arnaud Clement

Have a great week everyone!

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