Tuesday June 24th, 2008

Hey, is it just me or does it seem like there have been approximately 350 "retirements" in this year's Wimbledon over the first two days? It's looking like Del Boca Vista at Wimby with all the retirees.

-- Craig Berry, Park Forest, Ill.

• And to think: just two weeks ago we were remarking how few French Open matches ended with retirements. (Or, as Brad Gilbert has said 234 times already: "rip-cords.") Yes, an early theme has been the uncompleted matches. And that doesn't include Gael Monfils, who was a non-starter. I think a few things are going on: first, as we already know, the sport has never been more physical and no one has the guts or interest to take on the racket and string manufacturers, whose products exacerbate the problem. Two, playing best-of-five tennis in the heat is always problematic, particularly when the previous Major was just a few weeks ago.

Third, I wonder if prize money doesn't figure into this. How so? Basically, for most of the rank-and-file, the paycheck at Wimbledon is too good to pass up, particularly in these lean times. A first round loser makes 10,250 pounds, which is roughly $20,000 (It just FEELS like $100,000). Reach the second round and you're up to $35,000. Get a lucky draw and reach, say, round four and you've hit six figures. Easy to see how a journeyman (or woman), even nursing an injury, tries to "give it a go." Worst thing that happens is you bail after a set or two. You still make "nut" for the next few months. It sounds mercenary and icky, but I think it's realistic.

Put another way: there are likely a lot of players in the draw who would be home recuperating were this the week of the Memphis or Bangkok event.

Jon- Props to you on not jumping on the "bad news sells" journalism band wagon of late. I'm really disgusted by how the media is doing the same thing to Fed that they did to Sampras, which is trying to prognosticate the imminent downfall of a champion. It's just plain disrespectful. Your assessment of the Wimbledon situation was fair and right on. Also, Nadal got taken to 3 sets twice in his London event, while Fed didn't drop a set...or his serve. Not fair they're calling him a favorite. Absurd, really.

-- Erich, N.J.

• Appreciate the love, but honestly, I think the tennis media is the most restrained segment here. I was part of an IHT forum (shameless plug) last week and we all pretty much agreed that Federer is the champ until he's beaten. From where I sit, it's other players, former players (What's up, Bjorn Borg?), hysterical fans, Chris Fowler...those are the folks squirting the embalming fluid on The Fed.

Who is Novak losing the PR war with? Not me. I say BRAVO!

-- Rich, N.Y.

• My sense is that in Tennis Nation, Djokovic approval ratings rival President Bush's in France. But then again, the Djoker just signed with CAA, so maybe that's all changing.

I watched the first set of Sam Querry's match Monday morning and I thought he could be the poster child for what is wrong with tennis in the U.S.. A tall guy with a good serve standing on the baseline trying to be a real baseliner [Juan Carlos Ferrero] with a bad leg. Isn't there anyone in the ranks of our tennis world who can yell at these Americans to get to the net! I am so sick of seeing these guys with great serves stand on the baseline and then wonder why they can't win. What do you think?

-- Don Hann, Rochester, Minn.

• I completely agree. I think the casual fan sees that result and says, "Tough break. The kid lost to a former number one." In truth, that was a fairly abysmal loss, I thought. Especially on grass, Querrey ought to be putting up a better fight against Ferrero. You're going to beat Ferrero from the baseline. You're going to beat him playing attacking, classic grasscourt tennis. Why Querrey didn't is a mystery.

Any chance the USTA or USA can secure Bryant Park to show the night sessions of the U.S. Open? Seems like a great way to get more people interested (and do some moychandising, as Mel Brooks would say).

-- Jon Rapkin, North Caldwell, N.J.

• Good question. Assuming it's not Fashion Week or something similar, I think you're onto something. It's really a question for American Express, the sponsor, which does -- or at least did -- that simulcast promotion at Madison Square Park and sometimes Rockefeller Center. We'll keep you posted on this.

Some homework for you: Is Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (first round match to watch in your seed report) related to Roman Pavlyuchenko, the forward for the Russian soccer team that just took out Holland ?in Euro 2008 and plays a semifinal on Thursday? Thanks.

-- Dan, Washington, D.C.

• The official word from the Pavlyuchenkova camp is that there is no relation. And we'll pre-empt: Andre Kirilenko and Maria Kirilenko are not related.

• Watching Andy Murray and Fabrice Santoro and wondering if a match has ever featured more compact swings.

• That Roger Federer cardigan? It sells for more than $500!

• Hats off to Ai Sugiyama, who played in her 57th straight Slam, breaking Wayne Ferreira's record. She won, too!

• Of the 32 women's matches played Monday, half went to three sets.

• Rafael Nadal won his third-set tie-breaker against Andreas Beck by the score of 7-0. Don't often see that on grass.

• In case you missed it from yesterday: (Thanks to Olivier Mabaya of London, Canada.)

• Cliff Andrus of Atlanta, Ga., has our Long Lost Sibling.

Can't believe nobody has put these two together before (at least I couldn't find it on your site via Google), but Dmitry Tursunov sure looks an awfully lot like Ian Ziering, aka Steve Sanders of Beverly Hills 90210...

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