Oh, sorry. Didn't realize this mic was live. Is this thing on? It is? OK, then. It's time for our 2011 Baggie Awards. Thanks everyone for coming to our award ceremony tonight. And to think this event wasn't even mandatory. Forgive me if I'm a little off tonight. I have a hotel room with Li Na's husband on one side and Victoria Azarenka on the other.
Anyway, we had a controversial egg, and an ascending Fish. We dined out on Chinese but cut the gluten. On the men's side, we were asked to choose among three familiar entrees. (By entree, we mean "main dish," Mardy. We heard somewhere that
On the women's side, the menu was constantly changing. Which is to say, in 2011, tennis served us another steady diet of the delightfully unexpected.
Because "tennis offseason" might be the biggest oxymoron this side of "anxious patient" -- apparently the offseason falls on a Tuesday this year -- we have only a few hours to squeeze in these 2011 honors. First the cut and paste from years past: Before dispensing gifts to our winners, a detour into sappiness. If you get half as much pleasure (guilty to be sure) from reading this column as I get from writing it, we're all doing pretty well. Your questions and observations are, reliably, thoughtful and informed and passionate, and please know that every last one -- even the ones wishing me incurable athlete's foot -- are read. Think of this as a sincere invitation to belly up to the bar in '12 and we'll do it again. And we have vowed to start up some podcasts.
So, the votes have been certified by PricewaterhouseCooper and Jack Valenti. The envelopes, please ...
Another game for Milos.
It's always tough to draw lines of demarcation, and there were no standout candidates. So we'll go with
It's worth pondering how many fine ATP coaches are not Grand Slam winners, but rather rank-and-file on the order of Darren Cahill, Michael Joyce, Paul Annacone, even you, Brad Gilbert -- men who played at a high level but really had to learn the game rather than rely on limitless native talent. Add
The coach-player relationship tends to be a shot-term gig, even in the best of times. But
Thanks to a wrist injury -- and, if we're being honest, a crisis of confidence --
After a nasty ankle injury threatened to end her career (YouTube if you must),
Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor (ages 34 and 39) won the French Open and the London year-ender. But the
After making the Australian Open final, China's
Asked whether she planned to see the film
We should mention this (again): If Djokovic miscasts this return by a few inches, he loses the match -- and with it, all reasonable claims to the Best Season Ever.
What did your mother teach you about
But, really, the players don't care about grunting. At least that's what the WTA brain trust
Pro tennis players fill their ample downtime in various ways: shopping, modeling, sacrificing countless hours before the altar of Twitter.
During the Australian Open,
Asked about boisterous spectators in suites talking during points, Victoria Azarenka -- a player, sadly, known more for her cacophonous soundtrack than for her tennis -- told
When ESPN2 went to a commercial break at 14-13 in the exhausting third set of the Schiavone-Kuznetsova Australian Open match, the next words we heard were the opening of a Hoverround commercial: "Do you have a hard time walking...?"
At least twice in 2011, immediately after Roger Federer lost matches, the next series of commercials including the spot of him
To the intrepid scribe who massed the courage to ask Serena Williams the following at the U.S. Open: "I'm liking the nail polish that you have on. How is that going for you?"
After having mispronounced her name "Gorgeous" and then "Georges," a Wimbledon chair umpire then overruled a call to the detriment of German player Julia Goerges. She let him have it: "You need glasses. This is the first time you have opened your mouth and it is a call on an overrule on set point. Also, learn how to pronounce my name properly."
Adam Helfant, Ken Meyerson, Jim McManus, NBC's Wimbledon coverage (R.I.P.), Patty Schnyder, Julie Ditty, Gaston Gaudio, Stefan Koubek, Mario Ancic, Daniel Koellerer (pending appeal), Dinara Safina, Wesley Moodie, Thomas Muster (again), Justine Henin (again), Nicolas Lapentti, Ashley Fisher, Sybille Bammer, Katie O'Brien, Martina Mueller, Alina Jidkova, Mara Santangelo, Stephanie Cohen Aloro.
Have a great holiday, everyone, and hope the ball bounces your way in 2012!!