Bellucci's French Open chances, tennis sabermetrics, more mail
• Far be it from me to douse the passions of any nation, much less an emerging economic powerhouse. Realistically, Belluci, probably won't win Roland Garros. We're talking about a player who was ranked so modestly six months ago that he had to play the qualies at the U.S. Open. But since then? He's been terrific, moving to within smelling distance of the top 25, beating some fine players along the way. I caught one of his matches in Miami and came away impressed: big lefty strokes, fluid movement, does nothing spectacularly, but no glaring weakness. Just the type of game makes a player dangerous in Paris, an event a Brazilian has won three times since 1997. (Okay, it was the same Brazilian. But still.) Definitely put Bellucci in the dark horse/dangerous sleeper/dangerous horse/dark sleeper category.
Some of my optimism on Bellucci also to do with the current context of men's tennis. Federer is Federer, especially at majors. But after that? Nadal might return to greatness on clay, but as I write this, he's gone nearly a year without a title. Djokovic is too smart for
• I didn't know
• You mean "historic" Butler Cabin? (I would lend
The Auriemma question is interesting. (For our uninitiated, he is the coach of the wildly successful University of Connecticut women's basketball program.) My sense is that he's an expert motivator who -- without getting too sexist -- is particularly adept at dealing with female athletes. On the other hand, I submit that the difference in mentality/psyche/hard-wiring between male and female athletes isn't nearly as drastic as the differences between team and individual sport athletes.
This intrigued me so much I asked my debonair colleague,
• So where's the data? Those of you into sabermetrics know how deep the capabilities run. In baseball, you can have an entire set of statistics controlled for leverage, i.e. the pressure of the situation. In tennis, wouldn't it be cool to know players' winners-errors ratio from 4-4 until the end of a set? Wouldn't it be instructive to know which players have the highest winning percentages in games that go to deuce? Or which are most likely to lose the second set after winning the first?
• Agree. Would not it immensely add to the depth and quality of our fan experience if we had access to metrics such as this?
• Yes, in one of those ironies tennis seems to have a singular knack for generating, Odesnik's listed coach was Guillermo Canas, who was previously sanctioned for a doping offense. And on the day Odesnik's guilty plea was made public, Canas had a press conference to announce his retirement from tennis. As you can imagine, the question veered into the unpleasant circumstances at hand.
• Very nice. You don't think that the "parochial plaid" captures Nadal's essential being? For a few years now, Nadal's team has talked about "evolving the brand" and presenting their man as a modest adult. (To me, that's like presenting
• Let's put an end to the speculation now. Sources tell us the River Oaks Country Club has a four-year agreement to host the event on behalf of the USTA, who owns the sanction. Last week's event was the second of those four years.
• When TNT or ESPN shows the equivalent of a conference final a) on tape delay b) at different times in different regions -- and not at all in other regions, c) in an abbreviated format because of "prior commitments" at the top of the hour, we'll talk. Just curious here: What exactly were FSN's "prior commitments" at midnight on a Wednesday? "Gee, the infomercial guy with his unique acai berry/hula hoop weight loss program is going to be steamed if we show Henin-Clijsters in its entirety!"
• I usually tend to go libertarian on these things. She can do what she wants. But I'm with Audrey here. I'm not sure that's necessarily the product a female athlete (and mother of a young daughter?) wants to be endorsing. Even if Clijsters' had Barbie's physique -- proportionately, isn't the doll supposedly like 6-8, 98 lbs., with a 42-inch chest?
• How cheap can I acquire (or unload) shares? On ball-striking alone, she's probably worth having in the portfolio. But she hasn't built much at all on her success 15 months ago. And from the don't-look-now category, can you believe she turned 27 today! On a related note,
• We haven't done book club in a while. Off the top of my head, I'd run with
• That's an arm wrestling battle I would pay to watch.
• Some good news on the media front: CNN International will be producing a weekly tennis show.
• Sources tell us that Wayne Odesnik will
• Speaking of unpleasantness in Houston, we were told that a spectactor was evicted for suspected gambling. The word from the tournament: "A spectator was observed relaying match information via a mobile device. He was asked about these actions and asked to discontinue them."
• Novak Djokovic is no longer working with Todd Martin.
• From a reader: "Hi Jon, just read your mailbag.
• I feel like we've done this but