ATP bungles punishment for Llodra's racial remarks, more mail
? I have to admit that when Tennis Channel runs a line on the crawl noting that Llodra was fined $2,500 for a verbal abuse, it appears to be a misprint. Verbal abuse is calling the chair umpire incompetent; this is something entirely worse. And, um isn't there a zero missing in the fine? And an additional line about a suspension, a penalty or at least a pending hearing? Twenty-five hundred bucks? For a vile, racist rant? Against a fan, (i.e. the consumer)?
If you missed it, Llodra got nasty with a fan during his match against Ernests Gulbis.
We had hoped that something had gotten lost in translation and it was all a misunderstanding. But, no, Llodra reportedly admitted making the remark, but took issue with the "excessive" fine. It also appears that he has yet to genuinely apologize, aside from this extremely bizarre response, which hardly qualifies. Say this: Llodra is lucky he doesn't play for Liverpool.
I was told that tennis authorities have to abide by the code and fine Llodra the standard amount for an audible obscenity. But another source thinks the ATP has the discretion to do more. This is so beyond the pale -- and so specifically offensive -- that the Tour needs to make a forceful statement here. Instead it has made a statement of another kind.
Speaking of Tennis Channel, I feel like I need to hit the full disclosure button and state clearly that I work for the network on occasion. So feel free to weight my remarks accordingly. But A) the Indian Wells coverage has been outstanding. B) Name me a more natural TV presence than Lindsay Davenport. She is candid without being catty. Observant without being a know-it-all. And, unlike so other former players in her role, she steers clear of both cliché and the obvious ("He lost the first set 6-0 and will need to raise his game if he wants to get back in the match.") C) Nice touch adding some data to the crawl.
? Are you kidding? We're Meglo-wei-niacs! We're in a state of Hsieh-lirium! It's sheer Su-nacy! ... Sorry. Don't know what got into me. Your point is well-taken. Jeremy Lin is not the only surging athlete of Taiwanese heritage. See for yourself.
? Isner. He's playing reasonably well. His games translates to all surfaces. He is armed with a monstrous serve. He has learned how to compete. Maybe above all, his "points defense" is modest. (He won just one match in Indian Wells last year, two matches in Miami, one in Madrid and none in Rome. He took two sets off Nadal, but lost in the first round of Roland Garros last year. He won one round at Wimbledon.) As I write this, Isner has quietly maneuvered to the cusp on the top 10. Even a marginally successful spring and he could easily be a top eight seed by Wimbledon.
After a breakout 2011, Mardy Fish is suddenly in an unpleasant place -- a "bad mental space" as they say -- and hasn't won back-to-back matches all year. Roddick's body is betraying him. Ryan Harrison inspires optimism, but simply has to do too much winning to finish in the top ten.
? You know who I always think about when you ask about Melanie Oudin? Her twin sister, Katherine. Total speculation here: but I suspect that when Melanie had her success at the 2009 U.S. Open her sister may have said to herself, "Wait a second. We have the same nature and the same nurture. Why am I not the toast of the tennis world, beating Sharapova and others, hitting the morning shows and making quick cash on the exhibition circuit?" Thirty months later, here's Katherine.
She's playing college tennis. A pre-med student, she made her conference academic honor roll. By all outward appearances, it sounds like a blissful existence for a 20-year-old. Her sister, meanwhile, is struggling mightily. Her ranking -- now outside the top 200, so low that she'll have a hard time making many qualifying draw cutoffs -- has gone down the mineshaft and her confidence has followed. Last month she lost in the first round of a USTA Challenger event in Arizona and walked away with $294 in prize money.
She was already a credible player before her "magical run" and had beaten Jelena Jankovic, then a top six player, at Wimbledon 2009. So it's not quite as though she went Jeremy Lin on us. But it must be immensely difficult for someone so young to experience success and some of the attendant trappings -- and then go months with winning a match. It's probably premature to talk in terms of cautionary tales and disguised curses. And only the coldest of souls doesn't root for Melanie Oudin to turn it around. But might she prefer to be living the charmed life of a college sophomore today?
? Oh, you Scandinavian social democrats. Like those Ikea self-assembly manuals, it's never as simple as it looks. I go total capitalist here on two fronts. 1) Tennis players have a short career span. Get what you can, while you can. A few of the top players will walk away with generational wealth. The rest have to amortize their winnings over the next half century. 2) If you are bringing value to an event, don't you deserve the benefits? If Federer plays Stockholm it's a totally different business than if he doesn't. Why cut him out?
? Wozniacki is almost two full years older than McHale, nearly a generation in tennis terms. Also, McHale is on the verge of the top 30, so it's not as though she's a disappointment. Slowly, I'm becoming a McHale believer. If you play counterpunch tennis, you'd better know how to win. And McHale seems to have the drill down pretty well.
? Worse, there's this.
There are innumerable reasons why we should admire Billie Jean King. Those of us with daughters who play sports feel a particular affinity. But I always found this profoundly disappointing.
? Years. He should have said that he was from Indiana, Portland or New Haven and he would have jumped the line.
? It says that Roddick -- a top ten player since 2002 and the top American for most an entire decade --is still a superior attraction.
? Sharko thanks you for his afternoon project.
? I want to be careful how I answer this, because I don't want to impugn doubles. It remains the great undervalued asset in tennis. It's wonderfully entertaining, the province of all those skills the Chicken Littles say have vanished. The cast of characters tend -- perhaps out of necessity -- to be some of the most charitable and accessible figures in the sports. The best players belong in the Hall of Fame.
Having said that: how you can possibly compare the achievements of singles players with doubles players? For one, many doubles players began as singles players and -- for whatever reason -- gravitated to this sub-specialty, where weaknesses can be obscured and a partner is there to help. Doubles players cover half the court. Their matches are shorter. Often, they play fewer rounds. Tennis is a brutal mental sport, combatant exposed and left to fend for themselves. That dynamic changes when there's another person on your side of the net. Both are terrific in their own right. But I just don't see how you equate what an accomplished doubles player has done to what, say, Federer or Nadal have done.
Last week I used Michael Chang. This week I'll pick on (and, really, praise) Daniel Nestor. I want to see him in the Hall of Fame, acknowledged as one of the great practitioners of his craft. But do I want to see him sharing wall space with Andre Agassi or Ivan Lendl? Not really. It's an easy fix. Set up a doubles wing that represents the finest players but acknowledges that perhaps we don't lump Natasha Zvereva with Steffi Graf.
? File this in the vast and overflowing "Where Tennis Missed the Boat" files. Because of the players' individual deals, it is often hard to take advantage of massive licensing and merchandising opportunities. And merchandising projections are going to be difficult for a one-night-only event.
But I think your overall point is a good one. In the days prior to the event, we kept hearing about how "Tennis Night in America" was about so much more than the Madison Square Garden Exhibition. Boatloads of tennis clubs nationwide were involved and holding viewing parties. Broadcasts were being shown around the world. Social media was a-Twitter. Why not take better advantage of the commercial opportunities? Again, I'm offering my tennisexos.com idea to anyone out there with VC money.
? A tennis movie coming soon?
? Ray Krueger, now an editor at
? Doyle Srader: Eugene, Ore.: "Re: Marko Djokovic's elegance -- obviously a Hello Dolly fan."
? Check out the Tennis Channel's
? The Family Circle Cup is poised to welcome their 1,000,000 fan in Charleston, S.C. during its 2012 event, and the tournament has assembled an extensive list of prizes totaling over $5,000 in retail value for reward this lucky ticket patron. Marking the tournament's 40th year, the Family Circle Cup will be held March 31st to April 8th, 2012 at the Family Circle Tennis Center in the Best Tennis Town in America, Charleston, S.C.
? The Sarasota Open is excited to announce the confirmation of its first participant in the 2012 Ladies Invitational Tournament, Alexandra Stevenson.
? Mischa Zverev's younger brother Alezander 'Sascha' Zverev has been given a WC into qualifying for the Dallas challenger.
? Martin Ditz of Cologne kindly shares some remarkable stats from the ATP website, in context with the recent pace-of-play discussion:
Australian Open 2005; Federer vs. Safin
- Points played: 395 - Time elapsed: 268 min.
Australian Open 2012; Djokovic vs. Nadal
- Points played: 369 - Time elapsed: 353 min.
? This week's unsolicited book recommendation:
? John of Bermuda: "Re: Doug of L.A. suggesting Marko Djokovic should have rejected the Dubai wild-card. As far as I know (having refereed ITF Junior tournaments) -- to be considered for a wild card you have to request it. Hence rejecting the offer, having applied, is highly unlikely."
? Press release: The USTA announced that 18 communities across the country will receive a $50,000 grant as part of its efforts to get more kids playing tennis. The contribution will be distributed over a three-year period to build new and adapt current tennis courts to accommodate 10 and Under Tennis, as well as support new programs. 10 and Under Tennis provides the opportunity to achieve immediate success by playing tennis on smaller courts, using smaller and lighter rackets and slower-moving and lower-bouncing balls. In total, the USTA will disperse $900,000 in grants to support its youth initiative and fund tennis programs.
? Press release: Identical twin sisters Karolina and Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic topped the 2012 WTT Roster Player Draft when the 19-year-olds were selected with the top overall pick by the Philadelphia Freedoms. Players from 11 countries were chosen in Tuesday's Roster Draft as teams completed their lineups for the League's 37th season, which runs July 9-28.
In a special Roster Exempt Player Draft held before the start of the Roster Draft, the Sacramento Capitals picked up American Coco Vandeweghe who will play a limited season for the 6-time WTT Champions.
? Kevin Roe of Fort Wayne Ind., has long lost (tennis) twins: Mary Joe Fernandez and Julia Goerges, especially the hair/hairband!
Have a great week, everyone!