• As one of you wrote: "We all suspected an unseeded Belgian might reach the semis. And come on down, Yanina Wickmayer!" Though Wickmayer's run has been obscured by the Oudin-o-rama and Clijsters-fest, it's provided one of the real feel-good stories. Here's a player who was in qualifying draws this summer and, thanks to both fine play and fine luck, is suddenly in the final four. As
• As Oudin's run picked up momentum during this tournament, I heard from several sources that there was some tension behind the scenes and it wasn't quite the tidy all-American story that it was being made out to be. Lots of rumor but nothing concrete. I decided to see if, in fact, the parents were divorcing, as I had been told. To confirm that did not require an investigative dragnet; all the information that we reported was a matter of public record.
Had the Oudins split for financial reasons or irreconcilable differences or any of a hundred other reasons, I agree that this may well have been a non-story. But that wasn't the case at all. John Oudin's allegations -- and as we made clear, they're only allegations -- made reference to Melanie and to her tennis career, to tournament travel and to her coach, whom she had recently described as being "like another father to me." Unpleasant and salacious as all this was, we considered it relevant to Oudin's story -- which obviously went well beyond forehands and backhands during this tournament. We kept witnessing her laser-like focus, but it took on a new dimension given her family situation. We kept hearing about the support from her box, but that too took on a new dimension. Melanie's coach received attention and credit during the tournament -- as well he should have -- but, for instance,
One of you asked if I felt "uncomfortable" writing the story. The answer, frankly, is yes. There was no pleasure or sense of fun here. I would much rather review match stats than divorce filings. But I would have felt more uncomfortable suppressing the story, simply because it didn't conform neatly to the feel-good vibe of Oudin's tournament run.
• It's a gamble. Dance around the court and pump your fist and gesticulate wildly and it can energize you as well as the crowd. It can also have the effect of sapping your reserves. I love watching Monfils and find his antics genuine and endearing. But like you, I wonder if he'd wouldn't be better off conserving some of those resources.
• This will sound harsh but I feel as though Verdasco is still weighing how good he wants to be and whether it's worth the effort. Do I cruise along at No. 8-12, make my millions, reach some Slam quarters and live a good life? Or do I really push myself to become No. 1, forsaking some real pleasures in the process?
• Agree. I'll call myself out on this one. Big whiff. I'm converting to
• Injuries are a great way to manage expectations. "Hey, I'm just lucky to get to the second round!" Happens in all sports.
• A little weird to have an active player make the presentation. Especially if it's the losing finalist!
• I'm setting soft in my old age. Send me your address.
Comparing the treatment of Venus and Serena to that of Oudin -- which we touched on