• Thanks, Michael, for the Question of the Week, a new feature here at the Mailbag.
But one the truly special components of the Federer-Nadal rivalry is the genuine affection that passes between the two. The Credit Suisse video is just one example of many. When "Fedofiles" (KADs as Pete Bodo calls them) skewer Nadal and "Rafaelites" are pronouncing Federer dead, it's wildly at odds with spirit of the rivalry. I get rooting for over the other. But when the two principals are so fond of each other, isn't it hard to generate deep hatred for the other guy?
• I'm not sure I get the last part of your question, but your point is a good one When the two dominant players are gracious and humble -- in a word, mensches -- it rubs off on the rest of the field. If fecal matter flows downstream, so does goodness. When the two kings are so agreeable you look doubly bad when you're ranked 17th and behave like a jerk. In terms of sportsmanship and gentlemanliness it's easy to argue this is a high-water mark for the men's game. I think it's no coincidence that the two guys at the top so seldom make a false move.
• She'd won one career major (and lost in four finals) prior to retirement. She's won two (and lost in zero finals) of the four Grand Slams she's entered since coming back. That's pretty good, no?
• Patched together from various sources: Given the conditions, the surface and the injury situation, Pat McEnroe wanted to have three singles players on the roster:
Here's the problem: This wasn't Watergate but, as far tennis goes, it was certainly news. The most accomplished doubles team of all time -- who have long supported Davis Cup -- mysteriously sitting out a tie? Common sense would tell you that something was up. And, sure enough, soon word spread the Republic of Tennis that there was more to this story. Yet another case of the networks getting burned by their conflicts of interest, Pat McEnroe, understandably, didn't elucidate much or give the full story on the air. (The same way
• You tell 'em, M-Love.
• Never mind the first week of the NFL, which is becoming to sports what Wal-Mart is becoming to big box retail. SI's deadline is Monday and the match didn't end until 10 p.m. I'm just amazed Scott Price
• So I'm sitting with a friend at that match and have the same thought. (For what it's worth, he's African-American.) I asked him whether he, too, finds the support for Clijsters a bit creepy. His response surprised me. To paraphrase: "Kim does everything in her power to be likable. Really, how can you not like her? Venus sends the message she doesn't care."
I have the same (admittedly unsatisfying) take as always. You should be able to root against the Williams sisters without automatically being branded racist and/or unpatriotic. (This is especially so in the case of Clijsters who, apart from being unimpeachably peachy, married an American and has a house in friggin' Belmar, New Jersey. GTL, baby.) Conversely, if you don't think, for at least some fans, their opinions are shaped in part by race, you live in a land of rainbows and unicorns.
• As with most of our debates, a lot of it hinges on semantics. What do we mean by greatest match? Certainly Isner-Mahut is the "match of the year" in terms of length, historical significance and drama. But when the second and third ranked players are locked at 5-5 in the fifth set of a Grand Slam semifinal ...
• Yeah, I don't get this. When it rained and snowed in the winter, they inflated this giant Michelin Man type bubble over the place. Worked fine.
• Dirty secret time: What do the aforementioned players have in common? They all share an agent/management team. My strong suspicion: Federer/Nadal/Serena were unavailable. The client went to the agent and said, "Here's
• Not only that. Did you see what Nadal did with the check? (This was part of the trophy ceremony that wasn't amputated in favor of mediocre football.) He absently shoved it in his pocket like it was a candy wrapper. You're absolutely right about motivations and incentives. The former USTA executive who designed that "series bonus," who would let his salary appear on public filings, who always made a point of flogging the "record prize money" (which was still, by the way, a sliver of gross revenues), that guy is clearly motivated by paydays. These athletes are less mercenary than many believe.
• A smattering from you guys: Hot Streakonomics. Jimmy the Greek-o-nomics. Why They Win. It's not About the Money. Dedrawing the Lines. We're Number One. Upset! The Best of the Best. Power Play. Snap Decisions. For the Love of the Stats. Math-letes. What Makes the Best the Best? Gross-net? Who's on top? A Game of Numbers. Blame the Ref. Don't Bet on it. Bet on it. Our team sucks. Give up Hope. This is the Year. Lie to Me. Crowd Noise. Advantage, You! By a shoestring. What Curse? Impure Luck. The Playing Field is not Level. #$% My Regression. The Sportsthink Epidemic. The Fix isn't in. Running the (Actuarial) Tables. You guessed it, Frank Stallone. Untold riches. Keeping Pace. Numbers Game. Suckers game. Are you game? Reality football. Beyond Chance. Data Points. Break Points. Crucial Points. When 2 Plus 2 is Five. Game Curve. Bank Shots. Magic Numbers. Under Agassi's Wig.
Again, we ended up going with "Scorecasting." But thanks to everyone who helped. I had an easier time deciding on a name for my kids.
• This is tennis' congential screwed-up-ness in a nutshell. Clijsters defends her U.S. Open title. She gets $500,000 for nothing. But she drops two spots in the rankings. Open eye. Insert fork.
• Probably not the month to be piling on Azarenka. But, boy, if you want a fast way to lose fans and trash your reputation, you could scarcely do worse than belittling ballkids. We've gotten multiple emails lately fingering Azarenka as a particularly grievous offender. If I'm in her camp, I'm pulling her aside and gently suggesting she improve her conduct here. Not cool.
• Speaking of Murray:
• This week's unsolicited book recommendation:
• The Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced the appointment of
• A special mailbag "Get Well Soon/Hang in There" to
• New Yorkers,
Have a great week, everyone!