U.S. Open coming to the Garden?
A quick spin through some questions during a crazy day:
• Bob is being facetious. At least we hope he is. (For the record, we'll see a return to wooden rackets before we move matches at a Grand Slam to an entirely different venue.) But though the sun is shining and the matches are back on, there's still so much collateral damage from the rain delays. And Bob illustrates one front: the essence of the entire event is called into question. Fans chastise officials. Players chastise officials. Officials chastise officials. The event is compared -- unfavorably -- to other tournaments. The venue comes in for a beating. The schedule comes in for a beating. The ticket refund comes in for a beating. There are runaway discussions about improvements and changes and alternatives. Here we are, the second week of the last Major of the season and there's less talk about the actual tennis than about finances and profits and architectural flaws. The U.S. Open -- and by extension, tennis -- lost a lot of authority these past few days.
Pressed about a roof, the USTA has -- reasonably -- cited the high cost and noted that, as a organization tasked with growing and promoting tennis, it would be irresponsible to make this kind of an outlay at the expense of other funding initiatives. I would contend it's at the point where the "growing and promoting" tennis is so undercut by the havoc wrought by rain cancellation, that building a roof, even at a cost in excess of $100 million, has now become a necessity.
• A rule, violated only under the most extraordinary circumstances: you start a match on Court A; you finish the match on Court A. Once Young and Murray played on the Grandstand yesterday, that match was staying there.
• I like that story -- and hadn't heard it. So thanks. But it's a completely different situation. I think Roddick was well within his rights to become concerned and upset, especially coming as this did on the heels of yesterday's controversy. He and the other players were risking injury. This wasn't a "court zit" that could be popped with a screwdriver. This was (is?) a defect that could precipitate injury.
• I'm not asking for "media sympathy" here. But consider the alternative. If you pretend, er, contend, that Serena actually may not win, you stand accused of shortchanging a champion, of trying infuse and manufacture drama, bolster the chances of Wozniacki -- and the like when the evidence suggests that Serena is an overwhelming favorite. Wouldn't "selling excitement" encourage you to discount Serena and make the event more competitive than it would otherwise seem? I said before the tournament, I would take Serena against the field. I stand by it.
• There's a longer discussion to be had here about prize money distribution and player solidarity and potential boycotts. But so long as the tournament is paying losing quarterfinalists $225,000 -- far more than most events pay the winners -- don't expect many principled absences. For another view:
• You lose me on your first point. I can't complain about my migraine because it isn't cancer? I can't be unhappy with my "C" because think of all the other children who get "D's"? No one is likening tennis players to migrant worker or claiming their problems are akin to 14 million unemployed Americans. But that doesn't mean they forfeit their right to agitate for better conditions -- or even more money.
Your other point is interesting. The tournament needs about eight names to legitimate itself. After that? The other 248 players are largely fodder who are, most definitely, being overpaid relative to the revenue they generate. That's just reality. Bridget R. of Montreal could play KL of Portland -- so long it's a U.S. Open match.
• But you wouldn't have the biggest tennis stadium in the world!
• Hey, thanks. Not sure mixed double is much more than a well-paying novelty. But, yes, Melanie Oudin and Jack Sock have a chance to become U.S. Open titlists. This is a nice storyline for Oudin. Obviously this is a difficult stretch for her. It's nice to see her win some matches, have some fun, make some cash and, optimistically, leave here with some confidence.
• That's a risk you run in tennis these days!
• We'll have the winners of the limerick contest next week. But here's a leader in the clubhouse:
• Jamie Prenkert of Bloomington, Ind.: "WTA drama alert! How spurned must Su-Wei Hsieh feel by the H-Consonant Player's Association when she contemplates the doubles team of Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka? Do some digging, Jon."
• Play around on Facebook to find the links; then help former player Donald Johnson raise money for juvenile diabetes.
• American Express is holding U.S. Open Viewing Parties in Chicago, Houston and San Francisco this weekend, complete with large screens with live match coverage, Wii tennis and ping-pong for between matches. All fans are welcome, with priority seating, food and bevereges for American Express Cardmembers. Chicago's party is at Navy Pier from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Houston's is Galleria Mall from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.
• MSN of England: "On the college tennis front, just to add yet more to your list, there's also Kevin Anderson. And the slightly different scenario of Colin Fleming, who played while at university in the UK, took a sabbatical to go pro for a few years, went back to university and got a first-class honours degree in economics and finance, worked as an energy trader, and then went back to playing tennis. Not quite your usual ATP pathway [