Firing up the Mailbag for 2011
• Whoa, Chris, take a second and relax. You want to know about the 2011 season? We just finished 2010, like, last week, and haven't finished digesting the ... oh, what's that? They've started playing already? It feels as though Isner-Mahut lasted longer than tennis' entire off-season, such as it is. Nevertheless, welcome back everyone. It's like we never left.
Some of my colleagues and I have offered 2011 predictions
Will Henin win a Slam other than the French? I think that's a bigger ask. True, unlike Clijsters, she's actually won other majors. But apart from her advancing age and declining body, I fear that it's too easy for bigger opponents to hit through her on fast courts. Can she beat any player on any day? Yes. Can she win seven straight matches at this stage in her career against bigger opponents? I don't know ...
• I was surprised how much mail -- overall, firmly pro Carillo -- this generated. Honestly, I was under the impression that this was somewhat old news. (If you DVR'd the U.S. Open Monday men's final, you'll note that once the broadcast switched from CBS to ESPN Carillo had mysteriously vanished.) There was a philosophical difference and Carillo very much left on her own. She'll be missed on ESPN, but she'll still be working for other outlets. Let's just hope someone can pick up the slack and provide unvarnished, objective views/criticism without worrying about insulting a constituent, jeopardizing a paycheck or being branded a "hater." As for replacing Carillo's wit and wordplay, well, that's a taller order.
• For whatever reason, there was a lot of nastiness and a schadenfreude with (dis)respect to the news that some of Pete Sampras' trophies were stolen from a public storage facility. I don't get that. Feel free to root against athletes or even dislike them on a personal level. But to be so gleeful about theft? That transgresses the baseline into anti-social.
• I'll play the role of villain here and say that, as much as we all admire Dementieva and consider her a force of good, you simply cannot allow a player without a Slam into the Hall of Fame. We're not talking slippery slope here. We're talking slope coated in astro-gel and banana peels. Relatively flimsy as the admission standards are, there are Wimbledon champs (see: Cash, Pat) who have never have been allowed past the velvet rope. One solution: come up with a "dem's good people" wing whereby Dementieva, Yannick Noah, Mary Joe Fernandez, Todd Martin, et al., would get their due. But allowing Dementieva entry is all heart, no head.
• A lot of Wayne Odesnik email after the announcement of his reduced penalty. As we tweeted last week, all tennis players who get their sentences commuted owe a debt of thanks to Martina Hingis. She's the Miranda for the anti-doping crowd.
As for Odesnik, I do think there's something distasteful about allowing athletes to "take a plea," as it were, effectively getting their time slashed in exchange for turning state's evidence. Yet if the overarching goal is to stamp out doping, and he has information that can help the prosecution, I suppose it makes sense to offer him a deal. Can't imagine this will make him popular figure in the players lounge -- much less a candidate to unseat Nadal as the Edberg Sportsmanship winner -- but so be it.
• Before the break, Shayne asked this thoroughly legitimate question and we responded with a shabby, patently unfunny response. For the record (thanks to the ATP) a more fitting response goes thusly: "It's a very strong rubber, it may be worth noting that the new nets are even stronger than the traditional ones. The nets are custom made for the ATP World Tour. This was the second year the nets have been used on the tour and there are no issues with player vision. Significant testing was done prior to the 2009 season to insure there would not be any negative effect on our athletes."
• It's all about the sponsor, not the tournament location. Qatar oil interests sponsored the Hamburg event. Atlantic and Pacific Grocery once sponsored an event in ... Oklahoma City. Remember, too, this is a sport forever warding off insidious gambling that still lets betting websites sponsor events!
1) Really, at the end of the day, we're all in it for LOL's.
2) Realistically, I don't think Federer regains the top ranking. It's less a function of decline than of scheduling and priorities.
3) The great wild card is always health.
• Two words. Isner-Mahut. I must have gotten 50 emails on this point, not unlike Ryan's. I'm not sure what I'm missing here. There are short stories we love and 1,000-page epics that thrill us less. There are classic nine-inning baseball games; and 18-inning yawners. Torrid May-September affairs and decades-long loveless marriages. Thrilling sprints and boring marathons. Point: quantity seldom equates with quality. Is the physical stamina necessary for a five-setter something to be admired? Sure. Do the truly classic matches tend to span five sets? Yes. Does drama tend to run higher the longer payers are on the court? Usually. But "fitness in itself reflects high quality?" I can't buy that.
• I thought no one in D.C. spoke Arabic. Seriously, Alfred, thanks. A few other readers noted that -- funny as the clip was?it was not an accurate translation.
• True. With a few exceptions. Music that attempts to make tennis puns (such as Pat Benetar's fantastically awful "Hit Me With Your Best Shot") is never acceptable.
• Thanks, David. Stay tuned indeed.
• A tip of the chapeau to Philippe Bouin, generally considered the best tennis writer alive today.
• Glenn Appell of New York: "You asked about agencies doing packages to the championships ... we traveled with
• When John McEnroe threw his first tantrum, one doubts he suspected it would come to
• An upside-down exclamation point, gracias to various "Rafaholics" for forwarding
• Kourtin' Karen and her pals have moved to
• Man, does that Federer guy
• Thanks to the Bryan brothers p.r. machine for
• Ran into this delightful Australian couple last week. Take a peek at
• Romana C. of Washington, D.C.: "I've got your celebrity look-a-like for the week, it's the
Have a great week, everyone!