Clearing out the U.S. Open mail
? Yes, the tennis mood swings. But Serena is an extreme example. Name me another player who could blow out of the French Open in the first round, crying during changeovers, looking utterly dazed. And then win Wimbledon, the Olympics and the U.S. Open -- all in remarkably different ways, sometimes by ruthless domination other times by fighting instincts. Remarkable player. Remarkable career.
? Right on. Two other points: All four are thoroughly good and decent guys. As much as we like a good feud, the four-way love-fest is really endearing, too. Is there a match among these guys that doesn't end, not with a handshake, but with an all-out bro-hug?
? No response necessary. Somebody make sure she sees this.
? I wasn't going to say anything. But since you brought it up...
? Except that yours truly screwed up. Note that Steve Johnson and Jack Sock defeated Mirnyi and Nestor. But, yes, the kid wasn't even in the top 1,000 in doubles and more than held his own!
? Most events have their weather and condition challenges. Give me windy but cool over scorchingly hot any day.
? I trust my source here. But let's be clear: No one is saying he is definitely retiring after Rio. He is targeting that as a time to wrap things up, proceeding on the assumption he has four more years. On the one hand, he still seems young and it's a shame his body won't let him play forever. On the other hand, he will be 30. Who knows, maybe they'll discover some cutting edge knee treatment that enables him to play another decade. I'd encourage you to enjoy the guy while he's around and not count off months like prisoners awaiting their parole date.
? Yeah we need some official and clear statement on Super Saturday. A lot of talk and not much clarity. Painkillers before hard court matches, and you want seven rounds of best-of-five?
? I also picked Serena to win the French Open, Sharapova to win Wimbledon and Petra Martic to shock the world. Again: predictions can be fun and readers seem to like them. But we all regress to the mean.
? Great observation. Sharko, where art thou?
? I see your point, but I don't know about that entirely. Did he choke against Federer at Wimbledon? No. Did he come out tight, get discouraged and offer little resistance against Djokovic in Australia in 2011? Yup.
? Margaret won 11 Australian Opens at a time when few top players made the trip and it was a Major in name only. Truth serum hour: I also think she is a homophobic bully, which probably influences my impression of her playing career more than it ought to.
→ First let's revisit. With Andy Murray no longer eligible, who's the best active male never to have
? So much of this is situational All players have a pretty big "interview beta" here. Catch the most loquacious on a bad day and (s)he stinks. Catch the sourest grape on a good day and (s)he can be great.
? Busted. I was cherry-picking my sample size for max effect.
? The rule for run-of-the-mill coaches used to be: they get paid commensurate to what they'd earn giving lessons. Plus expenses. So, maybe, what, $1,500 a week? Two grand? For the coaches of higher level players, it's an entirely different pay grade. Figure in bonuses and we're deep into mid-six figures. I recently heard a story of a junior player from a wealthy family, whose coach once worked with an A-list pro. And he's getting the same rate as before. So, in other words, it depends on the situation.
? Nice, "...movement suggested she was wearing footwear designed by the mob," is a tremendous line. Take a bow, sir. This is really about taste. I love that match. It might have been patchy on the stat sheet, the errors-to-winners ratio may have been high; serve percentages may have been low. But what a battle.
? Nice. And none of this tofu-ey low-fat cream cheese either.
? Tons of mail on my tennis conflicts rant. I say we give this topic a rest for a while. And I'm wrestling here between keeping a private conversation private on the one hand; and wanting to tell the tennis world about someone's quality and character on the other. So I'll just say this: I had a lengthy conversation with Pat McEnroe today and -- while we certainly didn't agree on every point -- the mere fact we could have a long and substantive back-and-forth that ended civilly...well, you know you where I'm going. Class and menschdom and all that.
? Who's going to replace Kim Clijsters in the popularity contest? Says here Laura Robson is a leader in the clubhouse. Take it away Anthony, of Ridgefield: "Another Laura Robson feel good story. She was practicing on Court 9 -- very few people recognized her, a few fans asked for autographs when she came off court. One guy wanted a photo so she says yes and he takes a self photo using his iPhone. As she walks off she hears him say to himself 'I missed it,' so she turns around and comes back so he can take it again. Then after he takes another with her, she waits until he looks at the picture and approves it before she leaves..."
? J.P., Chicago. "The American women may have flamed out aside from Serena, but how 'bout the hilarious blogging that Irina Falconi has been doing for the NYT? Great reading."
→ We were rightfully scolded for not giving enough credit to the junior winners: Surprise winner Samantha Crawford and Filip Peliwo. The junior tennis doyenne, Colette Lewis, is on the case.
? This email had me on the floor: "I wanted to briefly check in and see if you are interested in sitting in a media conf. call with Andy Roddick tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m.? He will be in CT at Mohegan Sun on Friday, September 14th as part of Match For a Cure (details below). You'll be able to ask him questions except for anything related to his recent retirement and the U.S. Open. Please include a mention of Mohegan Sun in any possible coverage."
Um... that leaves.... what exactly? "Peyton Manning will be available and you can ask him about anything but football, his health, his family or his personal life."
? Press releasin': "The USTA today announced that Bob and Mike Bryan have received the first-ever "U.S. Open Sportsmanship Award" presented to the male and female professional tennis players who best demonstrate excellence in sportsmanship throughout the Emirates Airline U.S. Open Series and the U.S. Open. The award was presented to the Bryan brothers at the US Open by USTA Chairman of the Board and President Jon Vegosen and Sportsmanship Selection Committee Chairman Todd Martin."
? More press releasin': "World TeamTennis, the coed professional tennis league co-founded by Billie Jean King, announced an agreement to air the WTT Eastern Conference Championship and the WTT Finals on NBC Sports Network, Sept. 15-16."
? Stacy Smallwood of Columbia, S.C.: "Re: your parting shot on the DJ's playing of "Basketball" during one of Sharapova's changeovers... I will do you one better: During one of the changeovers in the Sharapova/Azarenka semifinal, the DJ played Beyonce's "Single Ladies." Clearly the DJ had it out for her.
→ You have to like Victoria Azarenka doing shots with Redfoo after the finals.
→ @funnyordie: Grunting is under attack in women's tennis! Show your support and let your grunt be heard
? Gilbert Benoit of Ottawa, Ontario: "It looks like Rebecca Marino is coming back. She is playing in Redding this week, and is entered in Albuquerque next week."
? Speaking of comebacks, who else noticed that Anna Chakvetadze qualified at the Tashkent event and won a round?
→ Reader Ana Mitric (you remember her from her excellent posts about Serbia) goes all in on equal prize money. Slapdash, she is not.
? Press releasin': "The International Tennis Federation launched an iPhone App for Davis Cup by BNP Paribas, bringing the excitement and drama of the largest annual international team competition in sport to the mobile devices of tennis fans around the world."
→ Mario Ancic at Columbia→ It's official.
? Skip Schwarzman of Philly: "How about a shout out for the infinitely subtle scoring system in tennis, which provides the foundation on which the ebb and flow of tennis' competition is built, so differently than any other major sport? Whatever one's opinion over how to finish deciding sets, the lack of a clock and constant mini-reset-to-zero nature of tennis' scoring is just fab."
→ Tricia Callender of New York has today's LLS: "Has anyone else noticed the alarming resemblance between Sara Errani and Amy Van Dyken, the Olympic swimmer→ Because I sure did.
Have a great week everyone!