Wednesday March 23rd, 2011

Caroline Wozniacki is our guest respondent for this week's Mailbag. Currently ranked No. 1 on the women's tour, the 20-year-old Dane has taken a break from preparing for the Sony Ericsson Open in order to answer your questions. We'll be back next week at our regularly scheduled time and place.

Congratulations on your impressive win in Indian Wells. You're such a model of consistency that this question might be more appropriate for one of your more erratic peers. But, I'll ask anyway: Some contributors to the Mailbag have been advancing the theory that the "unforced error" is a mythical statistic. That, in reality, all (or most) errors result from pressures created by a player's opponent. However, I'm pretty sure that anyone who has ever hit a tennis ball on a lazy Saturday afternoon knows the feeling of hitting a serve, or a neutral groundstroke, into the bottom of the net for no reason other than miscoordination or lack of concentration. What do you think? Do unforced errors exist? --Andrew, New York

• I think they do exist. If you have a ball in the middle of the court and miss it, I think that's an unforced error. You can say that it was a lack of concentration, but still that lack of concentration made you hit an unforced error. I think sometimes the statistics don't show the reality and sometimes the people who do the statistics put in an unforced error when it's actually a well-played ball from the opponent.

I was touched by your gesture at Indian Wells honoring Japan as you took the court with Victoria Azarenka. How did this come about? Was it your idea? Do players need permission for gestures like this? --J.S. Thompson, via Shanghai

• I was watching the news and was really sad about what happened in Japan and was wondering what we could do to make a tribute to them. I called Victoria and asked what she thought about holding up the flag. She thought it was a good idea, so we let the WTA supervisor know about our plan and of course everyone was happy for it to go ahead.

Great gesture by you and Vika [at Indian Wells]. It made me wonder: is it hard to maintain close friendships with other players, especially as you become more successful? Also, does that success hinder formation of new friendships, or are you more comfortable keeping that at a 'competitive distance,' so to speak? Thank you for your time and best of luck! --Roger Timpson, Baltimore

• I think for me and the good friends I have, we don't change just because the rankings change. I have known a lot of them since I was very young so we have grown up together.

I'm sure you're tired getting asked every week about your ranking and having everyone comment. But what is your opinion of the system itself? Do you think it's fair? --Richard, Chicago

• I think it's a good system. It shows who has done the best in a 52-week period so I think that is consistent and fair.

Who is your favorite male player to watch? Who is your favorite male player personally? How much interaction is there really between the two tours? --Margie, Wellington

• I like the way Murray plays. He is very smart. I like the way Rafa runs down every ball and I love the fluidity of Federer's technique. Novak is my neighbor, so we talk quite a bit and he's a great guy. I am an open person and I like to talk to the ATP players.

It seems that players like Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters who play very few tournaments end up injured more often (likely due to the infrequency of high-level tennis and the resulting lack of match fitness), but they perform at a higher level in those few tournaments that they do play in. Is there a temptation for you to play less to focus on the Slams or do you think that playing less could hurt your fitness and increase your risk of injury? --Clayton Detry, New York

• It depends on the player. I am a little younger than those two players so I'm lucky. I like to play matches and tournaments so for me right now, I like playing a busy schedule.

How much pressure do you feel to capitalize on your commercial potential? Players often say, "I only care about my tennis" but the reality is often different. --Jon, New York

• For me, the tennis part is the most important. I understand that if I do well on court then the other things will happen automatically. I have quite a few sponsors and I'm happy about the way I have managed to balance those two things.

How did you feel about playing Fed Cup? Are you ever worried about the lack of contemporaries from Denmark in women's tennis? --Daniel, Toronto

• I love playing for my country and it's nice to do that. Unfortunately, we don't have too many great players out there. Hopefully that is something that can change in the future and I'm happy to help that to change.

How do you manage friendships with other players you may like personally but may need to face on the court? --Anonymous, via Twitter

• It's different on the court. You just want to win no matter who you play against out there. Off the court I have a lot of friends. It's important to be able to do normal things like go to dinner and the movies with others, because it's an individual sport and otherwise you would be really lonely.

How do you feel about on-court coaching? --Anonymous, via Twitter

• I really like the OCC rule. I have used it a lot and I think it's a great tool. I also think it makes the experience more entertaining for the fans.

You say you do boxing in training, but how often is it actually incorporated in your workouts? --Anne Torg

• When I have a training period I incorporate boxing every day. It's pretty tough but I have found for me that it's the best way to get in shape. It helps me stay out there fighting in long matches.

What do you hope to achieve in your position on the WTA Players' Council? --Anonymous, via Twitter

• I want to change a few rules and have my own input. I feel like being on the council I can have a little bit more to say. I want to change a little about the roadmap, some of the rules for the top 10 players.

I read that you visited Serena recently in Los Angeles. How did you become friends? What do like best about her? --Joe, San Francisco

• We became friends from just being around on the tour, in the player lounge and in the locker room. We just started talking naturally as we are both pretty extroverted people. She is such a funny girl. The best thing is that she makes you laugh all the time.

Do the pros keep track of what is being written about them, whether it be in magazines, blogs, or discussion boards? --Steve, Kirksville, Mo.

• It depends from player to player but I don't keep track to be honest. I would rather focus on other things.

How does a player from a country with little history in tennis find inspiration? Who was your favorite player as a girl? How did you come to love tennis? --Tito, Madrid

• I really loved watching Martina Hingis play when I was younger and she was definitely my inspiration. Tennis is an individual sport so it doesn't really matter where you are from. But I fell in love with the sport and that's why I play today.

Thanks, Caroline. Appreciate the time. Now, some flotsam and jetsam heading into Miami.

• One of you suggested I pass on this site to bookmark this site for the SEO.

• Novak Djokovic is trying to become the fourth player to win the Australian Open, Indian Wells and Key Biscayne the same year.

• Regarding tips for Miami: Jenna of Flamingo Park, South Beach was kind enough to note: "I live in South Beach and have been attending the Sony Ericsson since 2000. Tips: If you don't have preferred parking, you might prefer to stay downtown or in Brickell and take the "B" bus for $2 each way. It picks you up at Brickell metrorail, drops you off very close to the gate, and they run many extra buses during the tournament. Otherwise, allow a good hour to drive from South Beach, $1.25 to cross the causeway, $12 to park (up from $10 last year) very far from Crandon Park, plus a wait for the shuttle bus to take you to the gate. Don't even think about trying to take public transportation from SoBe. The middle Sunday is the worst day to go, crowded and full of people who know nothing about the sport. If you're a real tennis fan the best days are the first Friday and the following Monday. Finally, be aware that in South Beach about half the restaurants include a gratuity on the check, and the percentage varies -- service is notoriously terrible in Miami, and the gratuity is not obligatory."

• For what it's worth two people have recommend I go to Burger and Beer while in Miami.

• Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, David Ferrer and others will play an exhibition soccer match against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers professional soccer team. The match starts at 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday at Ransom Everglades School in Miami.

Later that evening from 8-11 p.m., Djokovic and other tennis and soccer players will attend a fundraiser dinner event and after-party at "The 19th Floor Tennis Arena" at JW Marriott Marquis Miami. The exclusive after-party will feature additional fundraising opportunities including a silent auction and donations to the American Red Cross Japan disaster relief effort. The event is hosted by GR8 Miami, a new luxury concierge, entertainment and event planning company (

• On Twitter (@jon_wertheim) we had a caption contest for this photo:

The winners:

@onzone203: "This is the last time we let Venus design our warm-up clothes."

@shellsteak: "Well, for sure, if Steve Martin isn't going to make it, we'll have to settle for Chevy Chase or Martin Short, no?"

• The Virginia men rejoin the Florida women at No. 1 in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings after relinquishing the top spot for the first time since entering the 2010-11 season as the preseason favorite. Despite being the only undefeated team remaining in Division I men's team play, UVA (18-0) was slightly edged by Tennessee in last week's rankings, who went on to drop a match to Baylor, no more than two hours after claiming the elusive top spot.

• Tennis does reality television.

• Stefanie Graf, who was the world's top women's tennis player for a record 377 non-consecutive weeks during her stellar career, has committed to play in the 2011 Chris Evert/Raymond James Pro-Celebrity Tennis Classic, Nov. 12-13 at the Delray Beach Tennis Center in Delray Beach, Fla.

• David of Clearwater, Fla.: "To bring some closure to my trivia question, John Newcombe was the last men's player to follow up his first Slam title by winning the next Slam played (as an amateur at the 1967 Wimbledon and 1967 U.S. Championships). Just trivia, sure, but something to keep in mind the next time some phenom comes around and people start saying he's unbeatable. There's a long list of incredible players who couldn't pull off this feat."

• Michael W. of Charlotte, N.C.: "Following up on past weeks' discussion of players mistreating ballkids, I have to add a story about a player who treated ballkids wonderfully. Last year at the Family Circle Cup, I sat three rows back at the Sam Stosur semifinal. Every single time a ballkid threw Stosur a ball, she said, 'Thanks.' She was a class act. So while we're criticizing some players, let's reward others."

• What the heck is the Indian Wells trophy made of?! (Thanks to Andrew for the tip). Note the 11:50 mark.

• Note to the ATP: We understand that you have a great financial stake in the London event. But when Novak Djokovic beats Federer and Nadal to win Indian Wells, continuing his blazing start, shaking up the balance of powers, and toppling Federer from the No. 2 spot, is the headline really "Djokovic An Early Frontrunner For Barclays ATP World Tour Finals Berth?"

• We were remiss in noting the Elena Vesnina and Sania Mirza won the doubles at the BNP Paribas event in Indian Wells.

• Mike T. of Alameda, Calif., asks: "Was Nadal playing doubles with Marc Lopez or Marcos Baghdatis?"

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