Mailbag: Funding players, exhibitions, Nadal's French Open seed
Nothing worse than a World Tennis Day hangover ...
? Love it. Love it. Love it. Now more than ever, players are desperate for financial backing. Now more than ever, it's easy to match talent and capital. And, Lord knows, the Republic of Hedge Fund loves tennis. Someone make this happen.
To be clear: There is precedent here. Ana Ivanovic, for instance, was discovered as a junior and then subsidized by a Swiss businessman who basically had an
But as Don notes, this relationship would seldom be solely about venture capital or the return on investment. A backer could help nurture a career and potentially forge a relationship with a professional athlete. Not unlike owning Green Bay Packers stock, it would be simply be cool to have a small sports ownership stake.
Last week, I did a
An entrepreneur needs to create a site and make this happen.
? Exhibitions are just that: exhibitions. The level of intensity varies by player and situation, but it's never as high as a sanctioned match. If you're hoping to witness peak performance and peak emotional investment, you'll be disappointed. Jason Gay of
I don't disagree with your assessment of Azarenka and Williams. These are the top two players, winners of the last two majors, the most likely rivalry in the sport. You don't have to dive for balls. But humor us by playing a competitive match. Overall, though,
? I think there's a sense of amusement more than anything else. All know about Gulbis' wealthy pedigree, and he provides an interesting case study about hunger and motivation. Players stand in awe of both his talent and his profligacy with it. Above all, especially in an individual sport -- where there are no chemistry issues -- it's fun to have colorful characters in the mix.
? As these violations are called with increasing frequency -- and we're glad they are -- the need for a shot clock is becoming increasingly apparent.
? I was thoroughly confused by this note. (Who wants a nasty world?) But then we got this note from Jim Lumpkin of Denver, which, I suspect, summarized the position of Petra-philes: "Kvitova was seriously ill five times last year, twice with dysentery, three with flu viruses. Add to that her chronic asthma, which makes breathing a big issue. At least Kvitova tried, unlike Serena and Azarenka, who bail at the slightest pretext. I still say that Kvitova deserves more slack. She has not defaulted as long as I've watched her. Not a quitter at all."
? No, it's not blasphemy. But I still say that the "fifth-set record" stat is misleading. It's like presenting a boxer's record in fights that went to the judges' scorecards, without first telling us how many fights the guy won by knockout. There's a lot of noise there, as the stats types say. If Federer had tanked a few sets and allowed some of his 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 demolition jobs to linger into a fifth set, his record would be better.
Tennis stat I'd like to know: How many matches has Federer lost after holding match point? And how does this compare to a) his contemporaries and b) other players historically?
? No, I did not select this note to induce depression as we ponder college kids referencing "early Roddick years." (Big music fan here. My taste ranges from the present to the mid Black-Eyed Peas years.") I would send Matt to Newport, R.I., for a day of research. But, short of that, if any tennis historians have a willingness to talk about racket technology and the like, I'm happy to connect.
? Interesting. Considering the talk among the sport's officials of eliminating the bronze-medal match in Olympic tennis, the trends are going in the wrong direction. Outside of the Olympics -- where bronze has real meaning -- there's something odd about having two losers face off. You're there to win the event. Once that possibility has been snuffed out, how much motivation is there to go back out there and play? On the other hand, money talks. The promoters would be selling an extra session, presumably one stocked with two excellent players. If some of that extra revenue trickles down to the two participants, there's probably a conversation to be had.
? The issue is rules and precedent. But, yes, if Nadal is not a top-four seed, it will be, well, jarring. We're talking about a guy who is 52-1 at the French Open. I suspect David Ferrer wouldn't mind the switch one bit.
? Actually, it is state-of-the-art body armor. Seriously -- and this is why I reprinted Thomas' kind note -- there are few species more lame than the thin-skinned media member. You make assessments and pronouncements and render opinions and, even if there's no offense intended (not always but often), there is offense taken. Fairness dictates you ought to be able to absorb blows yourself.
? OK, my swag accumulation is growing. Contest: Come up with the best audio imagery for grunting ("a pig passing a kidney stone") and a prize is yours.
? Congrats to everyone involved in World Tennis Day festivities. Great idea and look for an event in Europe in 2014.
? David Hall of Sydney, Australia: "G'day Jon, if you could, please spread the word about a free-of-charge
? The grunting assault continues. (One of you suggested that we stopped with the weekly grunt reports because there were none. We stopped simply because they were getting repetitive.)
Lance Boardman of Mount Vernon, Ohio: "Cannot watch women's tennis anymore, especially any matches involving Maria Sharapova and/or Victoria Azarenka. And I have been a longtime fan (since the late '70s) of women's tennis (all tennis, actually). And now some of the men are doing it -- the long grunt or groan, or whatever you want to call it, that lasts until the opponent strikes the ball. I guess I'll just have to watch highlight reels on YouTube (with the sound off) from now on.
? Amy of Houston: "For readers who enjoy stats, I thought
? Again, your Hall of Fame inductees:
Martina Hingis, a former No. 1 and winner of 15 Grand Slam titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles, Cliff Drysdale, Charlie Pasarell and Ion Tiriac. It was previously announced that Australian tennis legend Thelma Coyne Long, winner of 19 Grand Slam titles between the 1930s and 1950s, had been elected in the Master Player Category.
? Martyn Collins has lookalikes:
? Brandon of Chicago adds