Tuesday May 25th, 2010

I live in Berkeley. I'm liberal ... but even I thought Venus' outfit was inappropriate. What is the difference between lingerie and "outer" clothing designed to look like lingerie? (And please don't tell me it's the "illusion.") --Caryn, Berkeley, Calif.

• Note to Venus: When a Berkeley liberal is scandalized by your attire, it's serious business.

But for the record, I rather like Venus' outfit. And I urge you to consider how modest she is in her day-to-day life. This is hardly an attention-hungry celebrity. Plus, a) at least it wasn't plaid and b) it got tennis in the public discourse. When else has Jay Leno made a tennis joke -- the moon of Venus was seen in France, ba-ba-boom -- on the first day of a major?

One of you writes: "I'll be interested to see what she cooks up for Wimbledon. I'm guessing it will be something more classic, like she usually wears there. And to use a phrase stolen from, er, I mean "inspired by" John McEnroe, I'm going to "go out on a twig" and say she won't wear the nude shorts in London. Can you imagine the feeding frenzy the British 'Bloids would have with them?"

How can Jelena Jankovic, who's posted terrific results lately, be not chosen as a sleeper by any of the SI experts? --Philip Villaseran, Las Pinas, Philippines

• Jankovic is sort of in no-woman's land here. As a former No. 1 -- and the fourth seed -- it's hard to call Jank a "sleeper." And yet given Henin's record in Paris and Serena's record at Slams in general, it's hard to pick Jankovic as the winner. No question she's a contender, though, especially since she appears to be in a good "head space" these days.

A request for a new statistic to be added to the Fedal debate: Rather than a head-to-head record between the two, what about a statistic showing (out of the tournaments that both players have entered) how many tournament wins they have had each? --Mike, London

• Yes, with Nadal's win in Madrid, we got another round of: How can Federer be the greatest ever when his record against his rival is so lousy? As Mike implies, the head-to-head is a bit misleading, as so many of their matches have been played on clay, the preferred surface of Nadal. Note how many times they were unable to meet on other surfaces because Nadal failed to uphold "his side of the bargain" and we get a more accurate picture.

It's pretty unconscionable that Odesnik was even able to participate in the Houston event knowing full well he would be suspended. Every guy he beat to get to the final was robbed of their opportunity to play in an untainted event with a fair opponent. When he beat them he took money out of their pockets and ranking points away from their results on the year, no small thing since this is their livelihood. And just imagine what it would have done to the tournament if he had won and his results were vacated. The whole saga definitely leaves a bad taste in one's mouth. Is there a way to make sure this doesn't happen again? --Kevin Ware, San Francisco

• To the ITF's credit, they've been proactive and clearly realize there's a loophole in need of closing. The same way you and I might be put on some sort of administrative leave while the investigation is pending, an athlete who has pleaded guilty to a crime that is, de facto, a doping violation, must sit until there's an official ruling.

Realize that this can be tricky: If Odesnik had somehow been exonerated, imagine how he'd have felt having neither income nor ranking points for those four months. But it beats the alternative. That was ugly business in Houston. Kevin is right: Odesnik took food off the table of the guys he beat. (Aside: What happens to Odesnik's forfeited winnings? Assuming it was returned to the event, Houston just improved its balance sheets considerably.)

Has Bode Miller played in US Open qualifying event yet? If not, when and where will he? I've been trying to find out info, without success. What a great way to promote interest in the sport! (He's quite a good tennis player, as you may know.) --Trish L. Aldrich. Nahant, Mass.

• Our moles tell us that he'll play in the Hawaii regional June 6-8. Which, of course, triggers this question: What's a skier doing in Hawaii? Draws and schedule will be posted here.

Consider this a grumpy complaint from someone in Melbourne -- meaning puffy-red-eyed (those darned Euro tournaments), sleep-less, kinda-drunk, triple-espresso-sippin'-tennis-fan-at-9-a.m.-in-the-lab. Can you PLEASE let Fox Sports know that the two commentators they have are sinfully boring and put me to sleep? I miss Jim Courier, Killer and Mac. Do something, Jon, for us Oz fans! --Deepak, Melbourne

• "Kinda drunk" and "in the lab" are not necessarily clauses we like to see in the same sentence. And you're talking to someone who can't even get tennis authorities to consider changing the Grand Slam format to best-of-three for the first week of majors at a time when injuries are tainting the sport. But I'll see what I can do. And won't rub it in by noting that John McEnroe and Ted Robinson called Gasquet-Murray.

What happened to your seed report predictions? We all love your comments with the report. Did you throw it in dirt? The French Open is not complete without you seed report. Not too late, still plenty of time is there. Hope you don't disappoint us. --Gorti Brahma, Cupertino, Calif.

• Oh you missed it? I predicted that Gasquet would lose to Murray in five. Azarenka would get toasted by Dulko and Ernests Gulbis would lose early. So far, things have gone pretty well for me.

• Nice to see Laura Robson hitting the social conscience trope early in her career.

• Anonymous asks: "Agassi's views on Roger's tactics against Rafa on clay. Did he really hate tennis with a passion that he became an expert in analyzing it so well? (Don't they say that an enemy knows your strengths and weaknesses better than a friend?)"

Mark Flannery of Fullerton, Calif., notes: "Tennis is serious sport in San Quentin Prison in today's L.A. Times."

• A periodic reminder to check out Alan Chalmers' tennis bookshop.

• The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) will induct 10 new members into the ITA Men's Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame during the NCAA Division I Men's Tennis Championships on May 26 on the University of Georgia campus, where the ITA Men's Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame is located. The Class of 2010 consists of five players, one player/coach, three coaches and one contributor.

Players include Mahesh Bhupathi (Ole Miss), Daniel Courcol (Mississippi State), Zan Guerry (Rice), Rodney Harmon (Tennessee/SMU) and Leif Shiras (Princeton). Jay Lapidus (Princeton/Duke) will be inducted as a player-coach. Kent DeMars (South Carolina), Craig Tiley (Illinois) and Steve Wilkinson (Gustavus Adolphus) will be enshrined as coaches, while Gordon Smith (Georgia) gets the nod as a contributor.

• Mike Roetzel of Little Rock, Ark.: "It's been noted that Sam Querrey and John Isner's final in Belgrade marked the first time in 19 years that two American men have met in a European clay-court final. But here's a more overlooked stat: The two also swept their semis in straights. The last time that happened, as far as I can confirm, was the 1954 French Championships. Arthur D. Larsen (USA) defeated Enrique Morea (ARG) 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 in his semifinal match, while Tony Trabert (USA) took out Budge Patty (USA) 6-1, 7-5, 6-4 in his. Trabert went on to defeat Larsen, 6-4, 7-5, 6-1.

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