• What do you want first, the good news or the bad news? The bad: Not only are we in the throes of an ugly recession but also the financial services industry is particularly hard hit. These are the folks who grease the skids at the Open, buying the luxury suites, ordering the pricey catering and renting out tents for client "hospitality." In 2009 A.D., budgets are being cut and scrutinized. Excess is out. Faced with the decision of saving jobs or renewing your suite, the choice is really no choice at all. Even if you're among the lucky few who can still afford to drink top-shelf scotch and eat canapés in a suite, doing so does not exactly represent the height of good taste these days. (It's sort of like riding in a limo. Come to think of it: Do they even make limos anymore?) This is the Yankees' problem. Even if you
A lot of this, mind you, is appearances, "optics" as a friend of mine at the USTA puts it. Sports sponsorship isn't philanthropy; it's done because it's an effective way to build business. (The numbers vary, but I've seen banks report that for every dollar they invest in sports, they get back $3 in earnings.) But when your stock is in the commode, you've slashed jobs and you've been bailed out by taxpayers, it looks bad to associate yourself with clubby diversion and entertainment. (Ask the LPGA about this. Or, better yet, the AIG retreat planners.)
The good news? The USTA had the good sense to sign most partners to long-term deals, so the television contracts and most of the sponsorships are locked and loaded, as they say. It's also kept most ticket prices stable. And the event, not unlike the Super Bowl, has moved into "can't miss" territory that transcends the usual sporting event. Budget-conscious fans may not buy the $115 sweatshirt, but they won't miss it altogether. Basically, I'm expecting the equivalent of Federer's 2008. It might be an "off year" -- but even the off year is still pretty darn good.
• For those who missed it: Australia forfeited/boycotted its Davis Cup tie against India after determining that security was insufficient. As a result, India will move on and Australia will face a one-year suspension.
Obviously, this deserves to be remarked upon. The temptation is to take a side and defend with passionate argument. (Sparing you the tired "the terrorists win" line, my knee-jerk tendency would be to scold the Aussies, much as we scolded the Swedes, for essentially giving into fear.) Yet the problem is, I am armed with only a fraction of the facts. I didn't tour the facility in Chennai. I don't know the tenor of the discussions between the two federations. I don't know if something specific triggered Australia's security fears. Reader
Um ... so let me get this straight: There's not "a slightest problem regarding security," yet you're "fully conscious" of the security concerns?
Unfortunately, this makes two consecutive rounds that the threat of terrorism has affected Davis Cup. Is there any reason to think this won't continue to be an issue? The ITF is really in an unenviable position. It looks petty for penalizing countries putting the safety of the competitors at the top of the agenda. Yet, what message is being sent when competition is consistently undermined by terrorist threats?
• Amen to that one. I would argue that -- without the off-day to regroup and recoup -- winning a Masters Series event is as momentous (if not prestigious) a feat as winning a Major.
• "Bludgeoned to death" may be overstating the case. But I suspect you're right: Williams-Williams beats SvetaMomo or whatever Brangelina melding we decide on. Problem is, Williams-Williams only plays a few times a year. I think the question a few weeks back was asked with the assumption that Kuznetsova-Mauresmo was a week-in, week-out team on the order of
• Good point, thanks. (And now I will ponder the concept of a wall that
• No update. But if you're in a happy mood and want it to end, here's
• Anyone from Louisville capable of prying himself from the
• Provided you haven't forgotten our man
• Diminishing Frazier qualifies as fighting words in this precinct. One of the great overachievers (and genuinely nice people) in the sport's history. I like Mattek's game, too, and I have no problem with her sartorial stylings. (You have to applaud an athlete who doesn't take herself so seriously.) But let's not get carried away. Her career-high ranking is 37 and she's been beyond the second round of a Slam precisely once. As for giving her a few years. Mattek (now doing business as Mattek-Sands) is already 24, downright middle-aged in tennis years. Nice player, nice person to have around. But "darling of American tennis" is awfully ambitious. Especially with
• We're going to keep doing this until we find a place with no civic defenders. Wichita, you're off the hook. Toledo, what you got?
• I'll stick with Evert and give you an even better one: If my math is right, for 11 (!) years, 1972-83, she reached at least the semifinal round of every Major she entered.
1) Who was the last top-ranked men's player to win the French Open? Correct answer:
2) For the slightly more obscure question about whether a player ever competed in a final against an opponent with the first part of her name and then played in the subsequent final against a player with the last part her name -- a reference to Caroline Wozniacki's beating
• A new
• A new ATP Champions Tour
• In the interest of equal time ...
• It's Venus' and Serena's latest
Have a great week, everyone!