Tuesday June 22nd, 2010

When is the last time the two finalists of a Grand Slam event lost in the first round of the subsequent Slam? Francesca Schiavone and Sam Stosur both out in the first round of Wimby 2010? That can't have happened much. -- Jake Rupp, Manassas, Va.

• Great trivia question. Especially for the women's side. We've seen it with one finalist (i.e. Martina Hingis in 1999, when she lost to Steffi Graf in the French final before being routed by Jelena Dokic at Wimbledon), but I can't remember it happening to both finalists.

With Roger Federer narrowly avoiding defeat, the biggest upset of Wimbledon 2010 as I write this has to be Kaia Kanepi's defeat of Stosur. We wrote a few days ago that it would intriguing to see which Stosur emerged on the grass: the powerful, athletic player firmly embedded in the "contenders nest" who just beat Justine Henin, Serena Williams and Jelena Jankovic at the previous major; or the player still unhinged by letting a gilded opportunity to win a major slip through her fingers? We got our answer on Tuesday. What a strange performance.

An Australian reader just wrote to me: "Watching Sam Stosur play tennis is like watching a 12-year-old trying to drive a Ferrari. The car is awesome and powerful, and can blow most cars off the road like they were standing still. But sometimes it just gets all too much for the little girl behind the wheel, who can't handle the power and whose little feet can barely reach the pedals."

That's not a bad image. Let's see if Stosur can clear her head and return strong on the hard courts.

Schiavone's loss Monday was much less surprising. To traffic in cliché, she had caught lightning in a bottle in Paris and all but admitted as much. A less rational/self-aware player would have pounded her chest and said, "It's Skeevy Time. I'm going for the summer double. I won one Slam and now I'm backing it up, $*%*%$*@!" Instead, her attitude was essentially: "I can die happy now."

In your discussion of Federer, there was no mention that he has stated he is an active father and likes to change diapers. It would seem to me that in his profession. there is no time to do that, yet if he doesn't, he loses a once-in-a-lifetime experience. His place in history is now complete, arriving around the time he has children. Perhaps he believes he can do it all and this belief is limiting him. -- Dan W., Chicago

• Aha! So it wasn't the lefty strokes of Alejandro Falla that nearly felled Federer. It was diaper duty! Or nappy duty, as it were. Your point is valid: Federer is taking advantage of the fleeting opportunity to be a dad. But I think it's a stretch to suggest this is exacting a price on his tennis. Especially if he has the good sense to own one of these.

Can someone please get Wimby to find more attractive attire for the lineswomen? I even prefer the old print dresses to the current striped shirts and WHITE skirts. And PLEASE lose those hats!!! -- Barbara Beck, Rochester, Minn.

• We can argue about style. But no one who works outdoors for long stretches of time should be asked to lose the hat.

In response to the comment that compared tennis injuries to the NFL, I can't help but point out that in most other sports, a player is part of a team. And while there are teams that would suffer significantly without their star, they can at least attempt to maintain their standard while said star recovers. In tennis, a player is on his own and all momentum is lost during injury breaks. Plus, let's not forget that there are no substitutions in tennis. Sometimes a player may have a questionable injury and get replaced so as not to exacerbate the problem. In tennis, you have to finish the match or withdraw, which puts a lot of stress on players who should maybe be nursing instead of straining. -- Lindsay Sakraida, New York, N.Y.

• We could also add that in major team sports, players are under contract and still get paid while they're rehabbing. In tennis, you don't play, you don't get paid. So there's a serious temptation to go out there less than 100 percent (which can exacerbate the injury.) But again, I go back to my original point: Has it really gotten to the point where we're discussing tennis injuries in the context of the NFL?

I noted with interest Lleyton Hewitt's first-round Wimbledon opponent. Can we all just go ahead and agree that Maximo Gonzalez is a great name? -- Jeff P., Montpelier, Vt.

• Still partial to Eduardo Schwank.

I'm planning a trip this fall to Europe and want to see a "lower-tier" ATP tournament (the 250s), like Valencia or Basel. Which one would you do and why? -- Michael, New York, N.Y.

• You can't really go wrong in terms of the cities. But, truth be told, I've never been to any of those small fall events. If any of you want to weigh in and help Michael decide, I'm happy to play middle man.

While there's no event there, I recently visited Berlin and came away wondering why it is we don't all live there. Just a tremendous city. Think of this as an unsolicited recommendation.

The wonderful Fox Sports decided not to show Federer's first-round match live. So when the fifth set was on, I had the privilege of seeing every point live from 2-2 in the fourth of Nikolay Davydenko's match. Tell me you feel our pain? -- Deepak, Melbourne, Australia

• Pain felt.

Not really a question but more of a statement: While Federer's achievement of reaching 23 consecutive Grand Slam finals is staggering, it just puts Chris Evert's at an even more of a Mount Everest-type statistic. For her to make 52 of 56 semifinal appearances, including 34 straight until '83 Wimbledon, is truly remarkable. -- Tom, San Francisco, Calif.

• True, that, as Omar Little would say. Your note gives me an opening to quote a Twitter follower who noted Monday that Federer's streak of second-round appearances was nearly ended at Wimbledon.

Did anybody ever read "The Code" as posted on the USTA rules page? I am taking note of point 36, quoting: "36. Grunting. A player should avoid grunting and making other loud noises. Grunting and other loud noises may bother not only opponents but also players on adjacent courts. In an extreme case, an opponent or a player on an adjacent court may seek the assistance of the Referee or a Roving Umpire. The Referee or official may treat grunting and the making of loud noises as a hindrance. Depending upon the circumstance, this could result in a let or loss of point." -- Don P., Europe

• USTA rules don't hold sway at Wimbledon. But nice find by Don. If I'm a player and my opponent has a reputation for screaming like the woman in Pink Floyd's Great Gig in the Sky, I'd dog-ear Rule 36.

Ken of San Mateo, Calif.: Replace Tiger with Federer (sans any golf-specific reference), and you have a pretty accurate assessment of Federer's current game.

Diego Moyano, who has worked with Robby Ginepri and Guillermo Coria, has been hired as a clay-court specialist for USTA player development.

• Winner of the Alejandro Falla Pun Contest (what, you didn't know there was one?) goes to the anonymous reader who claims that Centre Court was nearly a "House of Falla." A vuvuzela to the winner.

The Wall Street Journal's Tom Perrotta on advancing ages in women's tennis.

• Scott G. sends video of the Williams sisters' appearance in Chattanooga, Tenn.

• A clarification on how and when Wimbledon decides to use the Centre Court roof.

• Lisa of Trinidad and Tobago: "For two players who have been on the tour for more than 15 years to still be dominating ... it's awesome!!!"

• Pete H. has long-lost siblings: the ATP Tour logo dude and Touchdown Jesus.

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