Saturday September 10th, 2011

A quick 'bag heading into the weekend:

Is Andy Murray the male version of Caroline Wozniacki? To win a slam both are going to have to incorporate a more dictating style of play as they get toward the business end of a slam. -- Dean, Austin, Texas

• That's a bit simplistic but, overall, not a bad comparison. I tweeted this Thursday but I sat a few feet back of Court 13 for Wozniacki's match against Andrea Petkovic and was astonished by two things:

1. Her absence of power. There were floating mid-rally balls that landed inside the service line -- begging to consigned to the "winners" ledger � that she simply batted back. Her serve isn't much of a weapon. She positions herself deeply on the court to dictate many rallies.

2. Her fitness and her fight. In part by necessity, she moves and anticipates beautifully, she's barely winded after the longest of points, she wins more "big points" than she's given credit for.

As for Murray, he plays bigger -- and, at almost 6-4, IS bigger -- than he's given credit for. I see his defense and retrieving less as a style than as a stylistic lapse, a lazy fallback. As I write this, he's taking care of big, bad Isner and is controlling the majority of the points off the ground. In tennis, as in most sports, it's truly offense that wins championships. Backboards don't win majors.

I am genuinely puzzled by all the roof discussion. Tennis got along for decades without roof, so why are they thought to be mandatory now? Also, there are two different aspects to the issue:

1. The need to put on something -- anything -- for television. A roof does solve that.

2. The overall schedule of the tournament. Unless the rain comes very late in the second week, having a single covered stadium does very little to help. If two consecutive days are washed out, the schedule will still be thrown into complete disarray, with the privileged few who got to play indoors reaping a huge advantage. -- Gilbert Benoit, Ottawa, Ontario

• Tennis got by for decades without roofs? True but the landscape has changed since then:

1. TV. became a force, paying tens of millions for rights -- and expecting to be accommodated in exchange.

2. The sport has become immeasurably more demanding physically, so rain delays had serious effects.

3. Climate change has occurred.

Let's put a tarp on the weather discussion for now and agree on this: The USTA needs to address a lot of issues during the "offseason."

I've never liked the U.S. Open using a fifth-set tiebreaker to decide a match, believing that you shouldn't lose unless you're broken. (And, yes, I know the reasons they use it). Turns out I have company in my outlook: SI. Com is running a poll asking "How should U.S. Open final sets be decided?" The choices are "Tiebreaks" or "Win by 2". So far 62 percent of respondents have selected "Win by 2". Your thoughts? -- Ed Winkler, Oakdale, Conn.

• I have no problem with a fifth-set tiebreaker. I have no problem with the majors having slightly different twists. Some of the best moments of this tournament thus been tiebreakers (Stosur-Kirilenko; Djokovic-Dolgopolov). Why not extend that the decisive set?

"Tennis players are often the most privileged, out of touch and coddled of all pro athletes. So sorry if anyone is not shedding a tear over their "plight" when unemployment is at 9.1 percent."

Really?! Jon, I am outraged at this statement. As far as pro athletes are concerned, tennis players have the least job security and no guaranteed contracts. Show me another pro sport where players ranked outside of the top 100 can barely make a living from practicing their profession, and players ranked lower than 300 have to share hotel rooms or look for charitable accommodation provided by tennis fans and sustain on fast food to survive! KL must be looking at the likes of Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova to conclude that lower-ranked players, while not millionaires, make money comparable to rank-and-file athletes from major league sports. -- Les Banas, Portland, Oregon

• Yeah, a few of you thought I should have been tougher on that forum member. As I see it, when you have no guaranteed contracts and you "eat what you kill" you're pretty much immune from "entitled" charges.

I'm finding it difficult to defend tennis to my football-loving friends and family who think our sport is full of whining prima donnas. As my brother said, "Why doesn't someone who doesn't want to play four days in a row just go home then?" Please help. -- Danny Reichert, New York

• We're going to play NFL games four days in a row. No, scrap that idea. We're going to increase your season from 16 to 18 games. You tough guys shouldn't have a problem with that, right? Stop whining. Don't like it? Go play in the Canadian league

Especially if Serena Williams wins the U.S. Open, don't you think she should get a "wild card" to the WTA Championships in Istanbul? -- Carl, Brussels

• I thought we'd discussed this the other day. Maybe not. I have no problem giving Grand Slam winners automatic passes to the yea-rend soiree, ranking be damned. But let's let history be our guide. I'm buying Raki shots for the house if Serena is crossing an ocean in November to play this event in Istanbul.

Was watching the U.S. Open on usopen.org, which is a great site by the way, as the court issues were unfolding during the Ferrer/Roddick match. The site picked up very good audio as Roddick, Ferrer and the tournament referee were inspecting the court. I recognize the players are frustrated, but listening to Roddick aggressively voice his annoyance at the situation was hard to watch. He was completely inappropriate and frankly spoke to the referee like he was beneath him. His rant continued inside under the stadium as he screamed at everyone for some space. As a former Roddick fan, it was hard to watch. -- Jon, Chicago

• This clip went viral pretty quickly. I can't figure Roddick out. He's smart, he's well-spoken, he's loyal, he was raised well, he knows right from wrong. Why he can't suppress his worst instincts and make his points more courteously -- and not alienate so many fans in the process -- is an enduring mystery. We can talk about Roddick at greater length some other time, but this mystifies me to know end. I've seen way too many acts of his kindness and empathy and decency, to dismiss him as a jerk. But I've also seen way too many acts of indefensible discourtesy, to dismiss this as "inner fire."

Can you give David Ferrer some kind of award for most poetic ending to a news conference by a losing player? "I was a little bit pain in my foots and the shoes was broken." What an image, particularly for a guy who plays like he does! -- Dan Berland, Columbia, Md.

• That shoe nearly hit me when he threw it into the stands. I'm no sponsor, but I'm not sure I like the idea of my celebrity endorser complaining about "broken" product.

• The best pratfall of the event? Right here.

Ashwin of Seattle is our featured guest with the limerick contest. We'll announce the winner -- and winner of the Dunlop biomimetic stick -- on Wednesday.

Much was expected of Jo Tsonga

But it was Federer that proved to be stronger

Against all bets

T'was over in straight sets

Ahh how I wish that it ran longer

• The Empire State Building will shine yellow Friday and Saturday nights in honor of U.S. Open.

• For LLS, Dame Edna thinks Chris Fowler looks like Rick Perry.

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