Picking Nadal to win the French is not a Djokovic slight, more mail
• There's no skepticism at all. What Djokovic has done for the last six months is comparable to any hot streak in tennis. He is my second favorite. But my first is the guy who has won the French Open five of the last six years and has lost a total of one match at Roland Garros. If Djokovic were to win, it would surprise no one. But I'm backing Nadal, who, as I write this is in the fifth set.
A point and a question. Point: Nothing I write gets more angry responses than these prognostications. They're meant to be fun, but the conspiracy police has a field day. Pick against Sharapova and it's holdover Cold War anti-Russia animus. Someone suggested I picked against Djokovic because of a bias against players from small countries. (The behemoth Switzerland, notwithstanding, I guess.) Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
Question to ponder: If Djokovic wins the French and remains unbeaten, does he become the favorite at Wimbledon ... despite his modest record on grass, despite the combined success of "Federal," one of whom has taken the title for each year since 2002?
• A few of you took issue with that crack if mine. Yes, Lepchenko's job is to win tennis matches -- which she did -- and not cooperate with media members on deadline, following their leading questions and giving them the answers they want. (This goes for television as well. When the courtside reporters asks: "How excited are you by this great victory?" it's clearly a cue.) Today, Johanna Larsson of Sweden beat former champ Ana Ivanovic:
• Agree. We've said this before: what would you rather be? 2-for-50? Or 1-for-1?
• At some events, you're asked to signed a form agreeing not to gamble and acknowledge that doing so is grounds for surrendering your credential. But whether or not it's explicit -- at least in the U.S. -- it's a serious no-no for journalists to wager on the events or sports they're covering. I do, though, look at the odds. The line on the favorites can be an awfully good reflection of available information.
• Leaving aside a broader discussion of the organized labor, I think it's vital in sports. From the perspective of the athlete, you need a bargaining unit to negotiate everything from salary/prize money to working conditions. Tennis players' inability/unwillingness to bargain collectively in a meaningful way has really been to their detriment. The schedule, benefits, travel costs, draw sizes, a pension, the percent of revenue the Grand Slams pay as prize money ... these would all be improved with a union.
But look at this from the side of management. In the absence of a union, anti-trust laws kick in. A salary cap? Limited roster sizes? A draft? All of those wouldn't exist in the absence of the statutory labor exemption from anti-trust. This is one of the great ironies of the NFL labor strife. Owners may hate the terms the NFLPA is trying to negotiate vis-a-vis a new collective bargaining agreement. But they absolutely want the union to exist! Otherwise, it's a completely different business model.
• If you haven't done so already, read Virginie Razzano's postmatch interview transcript. (I'll tweet a link later.) If you're in the market for a player to support, look no further.
• Love the washboard abs. But, alas, Nicolas Almagro goes down today. Joseph B. of NYC asks: "Is there a Nice curse? Richard Gasquet wins it last year and loses in the first round at Roland Garros. And this year, Nicolas Almagro suffers the same fate!"
• Helen of Philadelphia notes: "I hope Tennis Nation will spare a thought and prayer for Joplin, Mo. A number of players competing at Roland Garros this week played in the Joplin Challenger in years past. (In fact, Bob Bryan was a
• A story to follow: The contract of negotiations surrounding ATP CEO Adam Helfant. The tour sent an email yesterday: "I'm reaching out to you as certain recent reports about the nature of the contract discussions between the ATP and Adam Helfant have been misleading, and it's important that the facts are accurately represented. Adam remains fully committed to fulfilling his duties and responsibilities with the organization and has not asked the ATP Board for a compensation increase at any point. Adam also has made no statement or announcement regarding his long-term professional plans or future career decisions, contrary to a story published today. The process is still ongoing and to be sure, we will let you know when there is additional information to share. Adam doesn't plan on commenting in the meantime, and his hope is that the focus remains on the exceptional play and inspired competition on court."
• A mixed doubles team to follow: A. Mauresmo and M. Llodra.
• Moles tell us: "Captain Russell Heier and his Eastern Section team escaped with a victory in the 26th annual Talbert Cup, the legendary over-35 intersectional tournament. Heier's squad was able to overcome an agonizing defeat by star player Adam Mandell, who succumbed to severe full body cramping."
• Terry of Manila, Phillippines: "For long lost siblings: How can you miss Rafael Nadal and the