What to make of Roddick's early exit; Serena's slight; more mail
• Roddick's loss was the big story this afternoon, and a lot of questions along these lines came in. Right now, optimism is hard to come by. When Roddick goes deep in the fifth set of a Wimbledon final before losing to Roger Federer, he ought to be both brokenhearted and encouraged. When he loses in straight sets to Feliciano Lopez -- a famously erratic player to whom Roddick had never before lost -- well, we got issues. In today's match, Roddick, frankly, looked like a player who has regressed. His return was nonexistent. He took such pains to run around his backhand that he left the line open, which is never good, particularly not against a lefty. He did nothing to make Lopez uncomfortable. He failed to raise his game during tiebreakers. A pretty dismal day at the office.
Roddick, quite reasonably, prepares his year around three events. So far he's 0-2. If Roddick flames out at the Open should he pack it in? Just as you're treading on shaky ground when you question an athlete's injury, you're in dangerous territory when you encourage retirement. There are a lot reasons and inducements for Roddick to stick around, from financial to the chance to compete in the London Olympics to the fact that -- while he may be a long way from the top three -- he STILL is among the top 15 practitioners of his trade in the world. Nevertheless, as Roddick heads home, I suspect he is asking himself some tough questions right about now.
• I think scheduling complaints are often baseless. There are all sorts of considerations: fan appeal, television agendas and time zone issues. (Why do so few Europeans play the night sessions at the U.S. Open? Because a 9 p.m. match airs in Basel or Belgrade during the infomercial hours.) In this case, though, Serena was 100 percent correct. You can't possibly tell me that a four-time male winner, and the defending champ, would ever play anywhere other than Centre Court or Court One. The club's response -- that 4,000 commoners were thrilled -- was weak. If they were so thrilled with that, imagine how they'd feel if Andy Murray or Federer or Rafael Nadal were out there. Was this a rebuke to Serena for her sparse schedule? Was it sloppiness? Sexism? Something still more sinister? Whatever, it was indefensible. And she was well within her rights to complain.
• And wait, did a lot of people watch Li Na's matches in Paris or something?
• I'd still encourage you to diversify your 401(k). But I agree Dimitrov was impressive in defeat. There's a lot to like here, a versatile, all-court game and style to burn. He just needs to put it together and construct points a little better. But he's come a long way from where he was a year ago. And reassure me you guys
• Fair enough. If the Nadal-Federer comparisons aren't hard/pointless enough, it's really hard/pointless to compare among eras. I was speaking to a friend today who likened this to debating who was better, Barry Bonds or Babe Ruth. "Babe Ruth didn't compete against black players; how can you possibly compare those eras?" Similar here.
• Too confusing. Let's keep at it, though. What about this: players grunting have to win in straight sets, or they're out.
• Dick Enberg has written a book.
• The gun is only one metric. Is there spin or "action" on the ball? Is it well-placed? Does the server bring the proverbial goods at the match's crucial juncture? What about the second serve? Serena might be slower by a few mph (or kph if you prefer), but I think most players would rather have her serve than anyone else's.
• Just to be clear, this was done for the sake of accelerating the schedule after the rain. Later in the tournament, we'll go back to best-of-five. Random? I suppose. But, if the schedule is constipated, the schedule is constipated. Something has to give. If it's a choice between truncating the Robert Lindstedt and Horia Tecau first-round match, or making Nadal, Federer and Serena play on back-to-back days, well, you know where I stand.
• Upset as you guys might be about grunting, it doesn't seem to affect the competitors. Check out this q/a from today:
• So much for the theory that it was Victoria Azarenka's noise factor that caused her banishment to the back courts. She was on Centre Court on Friday, where she beat Daniela Hantuchova.
• The USTA will donate $100,000 to Joplin, Mo., to assist with disaster-relief efforts in the tornado-stricken community. The USTA is committed to helping rebuild Joplin High School and its tennis courts, which were demolished in the storm. In addition, the USTA will bring SmashZone, the interactive fan attraction featured annually at the U.S. Open, to Missouri Southern State University on Thursday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. CT in an effort to help boost the spirits of the children and families affected by the disaster. The event is free to the public.
• Chris of Austin: I see being annoyed by the screaming if you're at the match. But if you're at home you can always turn the sound down and listen to some sweet Ronnie Wood albums ... or even New Kids on the Block if you're into the whole nostalgia thing.
• Nitin of Hyderabad, India:
• In partnership with Fila, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, R.I., unveiled an exhibit to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the brand that has been worn by many champions of tennis, including Hall of Famers Bjorn Borg, Boris Becker and Monica Seles. The museum exhibit at the International Tennis Hall of Fame is a part of a multitiered celebration of the brand, which includes an interactive microsite on Fila.com, the opening of the Fila Museum in Biella, Italy and two celebratory clothing lines.
• LLS goes to Doyle Srader of Eugene, Ore.: Andy Roddick and