On vacation this week so a quick 'Bag...
• So a few years ago I was speaking with
That pretty much distilled to its essence the reason there isn't an effective union. The players interests don't just wary wildly; they are often are at odds. Player X wants more events; Player Y wants fewer. The South Americans want more clay tournaments; the Americans want more hard court tournaments. The European players went ballistic a few years ago when there were discussions about downgrading Monte Carlo. You could give
• More than 50 of you wrote in with similar sentiment.
At some level, this has echoes of broader discussions of the first amendment and free speech, and I tend to skew absolutist. I might find Margaret Court's statements repugnant, hateful and ignorant. You might find them repugnant, hateful and ignorant. But I think it's a slippery slope when we start banishing people from the kingdom -- or "removing her name from the record books" as one of you went so far to suggest -- because they say things we might find offensive. I once had a professor ask in Zen riddle form: "If you are truly tolerant, do we tolerate intolerance?"
Two ancillary questions that came up repeatedly. 1) "How could
• Let's just be clear: "picking" and journalism are two very different things.
• New rule: Anyone referencing
• It's a bit of a "corkscrew," as the Aussies would say. Fed Cup doesn't lure the top players because it lacks sufficient prestige. It lacks sufficient prestige because the top players don't commit. Apart from the usual logistical issues -- a week after a Grand Slam you're going to have a hard time recruiting top player to do much of anything -- I feel as though "patriotism" is a passé concept in tennis. I always go back to the example of
• For all the times players (and fighters) in panic abandon their gameplans and revert to bad habits, Henin was the opposite, stubbornly sticking with her strategy -- be aggressive! -- even when it was unwise. She clearly decided that she was going to dictate and play offense tennis, even when she would have been well-served to make Serena run around and hit balls. Look, I still think Serena wins that match. Even Rodriguez -- one of the real straight shooters in tennis -- questioned whether Henin was "ready" to win a Grand Slam final. But no question, Henin did herself no favors by whaling on nearly every ball.
• I'm less concerned about the stars than a about the ballkids who have to handle these sweaty, snotty rags. Good thing germs can't be transferred that way. I like the idea of a courtside towel racks. Prime sponsorship real estate too.
• Continuing a theme from last week, I would contend that it's his conditioning/durability. With distressingly little attention from the game's administrators, tennis' equivalent to the IR has grown tremendously in recent years. Even at the Australian Open -- the first major of the year -- the dominant theme was health. Djokovic, Roddick, Nadal, del Potro, all had issues. Murray and Tsonga have pulled out of events since. One of you calculated that, between the ATP and WTA, there have already been more than 40 retirements in 2010.
Federer? After winning in Melbourne he looked like he'd had a vacation in St. Moritz. But for a bout with mono, which doesn't really count, his body has held up remarkably well through the years. You could have all the talent in the world and if the body isn't willing, you're not going to win much.
• I'm sure you're right. So what?
• I think some of it is simply comfort and familiarity. Like most players, JMDP did not grow up on grass; last year he didn't play a Wimbledon tuneup. The grass would help his heavy strokes but he doesn't move particularly well, a prereq for success on grass. Plus, the low bounces could cause him trouble. But what ever happened to the surface specialists? Who ever thought we'd be questioning why an Argentine would be weak on grass but strong on clay?
• Cole Haan unveils its
• USTA Southern announced the Atlanta Athletic Club will be the site of the 2010 Atlanta Tennis Championships from July 19-25. The Atlanta event will serve as the kick-off to the 2010 Olympus U.S. Open Series.
• On tennis trips,
• You thought
• This week's unsolicited book recommendation,