Janowicz breaks through in career run at Paris Masters, more mail
→ Lots of questions on Jerzy Boy Janowicz this week. Let's pause first to acknowledge that David Ferrer was the player who actually
On to Jerzy, what a great week for him. After qualifying, he beat, if not a murderer's row, a Grade B felon's row -- Phil Kohlschreiber, Marin Cilic, Andy Murray, Janko Tipsarevic, Gilles Simon -- to reach the final. And, on its face, a 6-foot-8 21-year-old with a titanic serve and nifty shotmaking skills has a bright future. The cynic would say that one tournament isn't much of a sample size. And while Janowicz climbed 43 spots in the rankings to No. 26, he has still recently lost to players on the order of Inigo Cervantes and Dennis Novikov, an American teenager then ranked outside the top 1,000.
But lots to like here. Yet another reason we all eagerly await Australia.
→ Thanks, Chris. I agree that after losing Federer/Nadal before the tournament and Djokovic/Murray during the tournament, the Paris event did OK. I would add that the World Tour Finals in London -- unfortunately abbreviated WTFs -- brings extra excitement this year. We've had some debate about the ATP's Player of the Year and I think there are credible cases to be made for Federer, Djokovic and Murray. In the likely event that one of them wins in London, it will factor heavily in the MVP considerations.
→ Something clearly got lost in translation as Ganapathy responds to my answer to a question last week about Maria Sharapova's comments on Australian Open prize money. This was my point about Federer: Every time he takes the court in a sanctioned event, he is being paid less than what the market bears. He can command $1 million a night for an exhibition. Even in London this week, his wages are far less. Yet he has made the decision, as have all players, that competing on an organized circuit -- which gives context and gravitas to his wins and losses, provides him exposure and enables him to appear on media outlets and websites -- is worth it.
?Yeah, the branding/distinctions should be better here. But the WTA seized on a fine idea, holding the WTA Championships for the top eight players and then a second year-end event for the next tier. With the all attention/riches being hoarded by the Big Four, the ATP might do well to hold a similar event and give the John Isners and Juan Monacos and Milos Raonic types their showcase.
As for the WTA Tournament of Champions, held last week in Sofia, Bulgaria, Nadia Petrova capped a dynamite fall by taking the title. She pasted Wozniacki in the final 6-2, 6-1.
? A few points:
A) Serena WILL be No. 1 after Australia in all likelihood. Which speaks to her level of dominance because -- as you and others note -- it's not due to her racking up points a la Wozniacki by playing an abundance of events.
B) Part of why Serena polarizes so profoundly: You have no idea what is going to come out of her mouth or whether she believes it. I remember one year at Wimbledon she was asked about Jennifer Capriati and said something to the effect of, "Jennifer is really funny." Jennifer Capriati is any of a thousand things. Funny is not one of them. It's like Mad Libs sometimes.
C) We had a lot of back and forth on Twitter about Serena's No. 3 ranking. She is the best in the business; she won more majors than anyone else this year and was a combined 8-0 against the two players ranked ahead of her. Here's the dilemma: The rankings are designed to reward merit but also to encourage players to enter many events, thus supporting the entire circuit. So which ranking system hurts the WTA's credibility more: one that is either subjective or invests so many points in majors it further discounts the run-of-the-mill tour stops? Or one that encourages and rewards frequent participation but makes it possible for Serena Williams to finish behind two other players? As I see it, this is the baseline question.
? This goes to a point I raise (too) frequently. At a time when Big Data is all the rage, tennis is missing the boat here. This should be a simple question with a simple answer. "In the Open Era, what is the smallest combined age of two finalists?" The average fan should be able to find this without going to the ATP's Greg Sharko and WTA's Kevin Fischer. Go to Basketball-reference.com -- or analogues for other sports -- and look how much data you can access with a few keystrokes.
? Will she come back to the top five? Unlikely. Can she make a deep run at a Slam or turn in a year like Petrova's? Sure.
? What are getting mad at me for? I don't grunt. Much less shout or scream.
? Yeah, this is also the big gripe against Hawk-Eye. Misbehavior sells. We need villains as well as heroes. Why tamp personality? Say what you will about McEnroe and Connors, but they weren't boring. I play the old-man card here and say that tennis ought to be above this. If players show personality, great. But if your sport needs "bad behavior" to be popular, I'd rather be niche.
? Sometimes we must turn the lens on ourselves.
? The ATP World Tour Finals will be played at the O2 Arena in London through 2015, and Barclays has extended its title sponsorship of the tournament.
→ Dale Stafford of Atlanta: "The ongoing doping discussion inspired me to go back and re-read some David Foster Wallace, the late novelist laureate of tennis. Recall that doping at a junior tennis academy ('Enfield Tennis Academy'), and the robust market in 'clean' 10-and-under urine that dopers purchased to game the testing system, is a key theme of
→ Richard Wolf writes: "To go with your 10 worst songs ..."
? This reminds me of one of my favorite trivia questions: Who designed the CSN logo that Crosby, Stills and Nash used and is generally known as one of the most gifted album-cover designers?
? Glen Janney of Miami: "The reason snickering breaks out during a backhand slice rally is that we are laughing at hearing ourselves murmur 'ooh' in unison."
→ Trivia answer.
→ Your must-buy book for this week:
→ Who's that getting honored during the Fed Cup final→ Yup, Jana Novotna was presented with the 2012 Fed Cup Award of Excellence on Saturday.
→ Love the Djokovic as Darth Vader, but the best Halloween costume goes to ...
? Alex of Pennsylvania.: "One more stat to add to the 'blow-your-mind greatness of Roger Federer' category: Coming into the event, the Swiss master has more wins at the year-end championships (39) than the other seven players combined (34)."
? The Paris Indoors double winners: Bhupathi/Bopanna def Qureshi/Rojer 7-6 (6), 6-3.
→ Helen of Philadelphia has long-lost siblings: Benoit Paire and Bradley Cooper.
→ Oh, we have a second. Ivan H. of New York says: "Jon, this is my way of congratulating Janowicz on the biggest win of his career. Maybe some good PR will come out of this comparison! Janowicz's long-lost sibling: Mr. Law."