A quick post to start on Patrick McEnroe's decision to vacate his Davis Cup duties. This has been in the ether for a while. Unlike Mardy Fish, P-Mac has an awfully full plate these days, plus a wife and brood of young kids.
His run -- a good one -- has spanned nearly 10 years, and his contract was coming up. There's no coup, the background politics here. Just a good time to move on. He deserves a round of applause on the way out. As for the successor, I have to believe that USTA wouldn't let McEnroe go without a successor already secured. But then again, I wouldn't think they'd sign off on paying a single employee multiple millions of dollars easier. Handicapping the field, here's how I see it:
1) Jim Courier: A four-time Grand Slam winner, a bright and creative guy, lives in New York. I'm told -- repeatedly -- that he's the clear favorite. The one concern would be his threshold for schmoozing and cajoling that, unfortunately, are part of the job. But he has pole position. 2) Todd Martin or Brad Gilbert.3) Paul Annacone.
I hate to raise the question, but can we agree that the U.S. Open is the most exciting and most relevant Grand Slam? Fast and attractive tennis, points not too short like in Wimbledon or too long like in the French Open, best weather, biggest stadium, United States is the host, etc. Players are well rested and also best prepared because all the best players practice on similar surfaces for most of the year. -- Lukas, Cologne
• Two underplayed themes this year: 1) For all the derision and "anyone-can-win-with-Serena-out" speculating, the women's draw has more than held its own. The contenders are still in it. Elena Dementieva-Sam Stosur was a classic. High level of play. Little melodrama. Some fine first week stories (Beatrice Capra, Mirjana Lucic). Andrea Petkovic's emergence as both a credible player and an endearing eccentric. Well done, WTA.
The other underplayed theme goes to Lukas' point. The court surface is democratic, fast enough for the hard servers, but slow enough for the counterpunchers. The courts are in good shape. After hellacious heat, the conditions have been fine. We've not only seen some great matches, but look at the diversity of players advancing. Young (Ryan Harrison), old (the legion of thirtysomethings, starting with Venus Williams) big (Sam Querrey) and small (5-1 Dominika Cibulkova.) Lefties, righties, one-handers, two-handers and lots of Spaniards. From a quality standpoint, this has been as good a tournament as I can recall in a long while.
Why do these comparisons between men's and women's tennis keep coming up? Men and women have equal rights; both should be respected for their own virtues. But physically they are different. They don't have to play the same schedule, the same length of matches. Men's tennis is interesting for spectators, and so is women's.-- K. Schoonjans, Antwerp, Belgium
• Honestly, I think it's to be expected. You have two genders competing alongside each other, rare among sports. (You even the have the mixed doubles events, where competition is simultaneous.) And yet the women and men play matches of different lengths and even use different tennis balls. Seems to be natural that tennis would spawn all these comparisons. True, the comparing and contrasting too often bleeds over to trashing one gender at the expense of the other. But, overall, I think it's a real virtue that the sport can accommodate men and women simultaneously.
I've noticed that the same girl was handing tennis balls to Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic to sign after their night session matches. Is she also a ball girl? How does she get this position? Is she well connected?-- JT, St. Louis
• She's either really good at her job or her last name is Bloomberg.
Who makes the call on what's a forced and an unforced error? I saw Rafael Nadal play Denis Istomin, and some of Rafa's errors were forced rather than unforced, and I think the stats did not reflect the actual match appropriately.-- Deepak, Melbourne
• It usually falls to the IDS representative stationed to every match. It's often a volunteer -- which is why the tours don't always acknowledge the unforced/winner as official stats. Also, you'll see sometimes that the aces from a chair umpire will be different from the IDS count.
I agree that having women play three out of five all year long, or even throughout the slams would neither increase the quality nor help the overplayed athletes. However, given that the slam final is now a separate ticket, I would support three-of-five for the finals only, just as the men used to play three of five in all the master's finals. Your thoughts?-- Matthew Neiger, Fort Salonga, N.Y.
• Amen. I could go for that. Nothing worse than a 65-minute women's final. But again, asking the women to play best-of-five just ain't gonna happen.
To whom do we say thanks for the fantastic streaming on the USOpen.org website? Akamai? Mercedes? IBM? Westin? Stonyfield? I want to say a grateful huge word of thanks, personally. I'm enjoying Labor Day weekend, watching any one of five or so different live matches, in high-def on my TV (computer is hooked up to TV), in gorgeous resolution and full motion, viewing stats whenever I want, and it's all via the web. No cable TV involved. This is the future! (Let's hope all future major tournaments pick up from here!) -- David D., Los Angeles
• Consider this another Google hit for Phil Green at the USTA.
Come on Jon, you're a former player. Give us your take on the wind's effect on the U.S. Open. You can probably remember the windy summer days in the Midwest, trying to play a high backhand in hurricane-strength winds. What about the pros? Sometimes when I see them struggling to just look like players in the wind, I think that it just isn't tennis. Remember the Federer-Andre Agassi final a few years back in the wind? Sad stuff. At the end of the day, the best player probably wins the tournament, but there are some sad early matches where the wrong player wins. ... What ya think? I hate the wind!-- Patrick Kramer, Oslo, Norway
• For the record, I am not a former player. Unless you count the Central Indiana junior circuit. The wind was a factor Saturday, but it's calmed down. Let's be clear, too, it's much worse in Arthur Ashe Stadium than on other courts. Wind isn't conducive to top tennis but, as with most sports, playing the conditions is part of the challenge.
• The USTA announced that the Courtside Club in Los Gatos, Calif., is one of seven winners of its 29th annual USTA Outstanding Facility Awards Program, recognizing excellence in the construction and/or renovation of tennis facilities throughout the country. Courtside Club was honored along with the other recipients at the USTA Semiannual meeting during the meeting of the Technical Committee on Sunday at the Grand Hyatt in New York.
• Because one of you asked ... Janko Tipsarevic wears prescription shades from Oakley.
• The YES Network premieres John McEnroe's "CenterStage" on Tuesday night after its Yankees post-game show. McEnroe will talk about his U.S. Open and Wimbledon experiences, his Super Brat persona, his brief time at Stanford, the state of men's tennis today and even a little Nelson Mandela.
• Agassi hits New York.
• Nick of Charlotte: RE: The drinking. I have seen players grab drinks during long games many times, and the umpire never warns them. I've even seen them grab drinks between non-changeover games. The ump never warns then either (though I do remember several an announcer questioning it as being against the rules). Personally I don't like to drink too often when playing tennis; you end up feeling unsettled. Perhaps it is just from years of a consistent drinking method, but you can only absorb so much water anyway, so drinking every 20 seconds isn't that much of an advantage over drinking a little more every 5 minutes.
• The city of Charleston, S.C., today was named the winner of the USTA's "Best Tennis Town" in its second annual search, designed to identify and reward the American communities -- from small, rural towns to large, urban metro areas and everywhere in between -- that best exemplify the passion, excitement, spirit and impact that tennis brings to the local level.
• Kendra of Philly: So someone recommended to me the book "The Great War & Modern Memory" by Paul Fussell. I then looked at the author's Wikipedia page and saw this picture of him from 1945. I think he looks remarkably like a certain Swiss tennis player.