Saturday July 2nd, 2011

My thoughts on the men's semifinals are right here.


1. This is my last baguette/crumpet for Wimbledon but thanks to everyone who wrote in. We had a ton of mail and I only wish that I could have answered more.

2. Tons of complaints about the television coverage. Cold comfort, I realize, but I'm hearing that this is the last year of tape-delay. Regardless of what happens in the ESPN-Comcast bidding, there will be live coverage next year.

3. Enjoy the weekend matches.

Onward ...

With the endless debate regarding Caroline Wozniacki's validity as the top player in the world, I can only think of Lindsay Davenport. She finished 2005 as No. 1 in the world having won her last Grand Slam title at the 2000 Aussie ... so please, it isn't Caroline's fault. Complain to the WTA! -- Richie Queens, New York

• Certainly there have been players ranked No. 1 who have done so without winning Slams. But I think it's perceived differently when those players have won Slams earlier in their careers.

Regarding Shaun Richardson's comment: Tennis has a long and glorious history of stealing nicknames. Pistol Pete and A-Rod come to mind. I'm young though ... the Jo Willie repurposing was news to me. It'd be interesting to hear if there were any more nickname plagiaries out there in the tennis world. -- Quincy, Houma, La.

• Plagiaries? How about the more benign "samplings"? Surely there were Boom-Booms before Becker and Buds before Collins and didn't a Harrison Ford character predate Indy deVroome?

I don't understand the whining about WTA rankings and seedings. If the Jets finish 14-2 and the Patriots finish 13-3, no one would complain about the Jets getting the No. 1 AFC playoff seed, even if they had lost both regular season games to the Pats and they haven't won a Super Bowl in 40 years. What am I missing? As long as Wozniaki has the best "regular season record," she gets ranked and seeded No. 1. Period. -- Bob Oelschlager, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

• Devil's advocacy: If the NFL told us -- openly but also via the point weighting and distribution -- that some games were more significant than others; and the Patriots seldom won those games; would there not be discussion about their seeding and validity of their record?

So the Bryans are playing a five-set thriller on Court One and ESPN replays the Sharapova/Lisicki match! How will casual tennis watchers learn how exciting doubles can be if they never get to watch it? -- Linda, New York

• For the record, the Bryans won. I love how the doubles guys play best-of-three, no-ad with a supertiebreak during the year. Suddenly they come here and play best-of-five with no fifth set tiebreak.

Imagine my surprise when I turned on my TV this morning and saw Mary Pierce cruising into the Wimbledon finals over Azarenka. Here I thought she was as good as retired five years ago, but it was great to see those same big serves, booming baseline strokes, and saucy blond plait after all this time. Congrats, Mary, on a shocking but well-deserved comeback! (P.S. You look DAMN GOOD for 36. What's your secret?) -- Bob, New York

• And she switched to being a lefty. Bob, of course, is cleverly likening Mary Pierce to Petra Kvitova. Your note made me laugh on two counts. 1. By getting to the finals, Kvitova has already surpassed Pierce's best showing here. 2. Pierce is still technically not yet retired. I wonder if she doesn't survey the landscape, looking at Kimiko Date Krumm, and think hmmmm.

I'm having a difficult time understanding the men's rankings now. Can you please explain how Djokovic is going to pass Nadal regardless of their result in the final? To me, the No. 1 player and the No. 2 player should face off in the finals of a major, and if the No. 1 player wins, how does he lose his ranking to the No. 2? This just seems screwy to me. Please help me to understand tennis rankings. -- T.J., Broomfield, Colo.

• Remember, the rankings are rolling over the course of a year. If Nadal defends his title, he defends his points but doesn't add to the haul. If Djokovic barely survived the middle weekend in 2010 and he gets to the final this year, he's made a big jump.

When a player can have 13 double faults and still win a grand slam semifinal match, it's a a sad day for women's tennis. Don't you agree? -- Bjorn, San Juan, PR

• How about this: when a player has 13 double faults and, yet, yields only seven games, it says a lot about her other assets and her abilities to overcome her yips.

Karen of Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands: In a recent Mailbag, a reader asked the question about handshakes at the net. The Williams sisters and in particular Venus Williams has the best handshake at the net ever. Win, lose or draw, no matter the opponent and no matter the score, she greets every single opponent with a smile at the net, looks directly at them and says a few words whether in commisseration or congratulations. Most of her fans wish she would not be so gracious at the net especially after losing to some no-name player, but graciousness at the net is Venus Williams

• Nick Einhorn of Brooklyn, New York: One day after Federer lost a five-setter with only 11 unforced errors, Azarenka lost a 3-setter with 7 unforced errors -- an almost identical ratio of just over two errors per set.

Anna of Israel: Regarding the post-match handshake -- you see women being friendly with each other too. Azarenka and Kvitova kissed each other on the cheek at the end of their semifinal match; Lisicki and Bartoli were very warm at the end of their match, despite the amount of in-your-face-"Come on!"-ing during the match itself. It just depends a lot on the personal relationship between the girls, I guess.

Fiona of Houston, Texas: Regarding camaraderie and handshakes, three theories: 1. Average age of men's quarterfinalist is 26.5, women, 22.4. The men are older, so they've been playing together longer, AND are generally more mature. 2. I know that when I'm around my parents, I revert to my teenage obnoxiousness. Maybe the WTA players are suffering the same fate with all those parent coaches. 3. Leading by example: Fed and Nadal have been excellent ambassadors for sportsmanship and camaraderie. Serena, Maria, (and much as it pains me to say it) Henin were not. Am I the only one who noticed a marked improvement in camaraderie as Clisters, Wozniaki, and Schiavone were the face of the WTA for the past year?

Peter of Stockholm: Hey Jon, I wanted to comment on your recent [interest in] Dutch talent Indy de Vroome (I'm Dutch but living in Sweden). She's making a bit of a name for herself and you seem to like her odds as a racing car driver if her tennis career doesn't work out. I just want to point out that her last name is pronounced "vro-me," so vro like in pro and me with a soft e. So not like the sound a racing car makes. BTW: it means the pious one.

Tom M of Winston-Salem, No. Carolina: Proof that Federer is the GOAT ... and also the third best player in the world.

Rick Smith of Toronto: Interesting read about Nadal's sportsmanship by Nick Swyak of NY Mag.

• Unsolicited book recommendation @alanshipnuck

• Helen of Philadelphia: Not-so-long-lost siblings: Sergiy Stakhovsky and Philipp Kohlschreiber and Philipp Petzschner and Christopher Kas.

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