Friday February 17th, 2012

Introducing Five for Friday, an end-of-the-week roundup of interesting tidbits from my notebook. Have something that you think needs to be addressed? Feel free to tweet or email me.

Brooklyn Decker let slip a two-year time frame for husband Andy Roddick's retirement. (Simon Bruty/SI)

1. Two and out?: Did Brooklyn Decker accidentally let slip a time frame for Andy Roddick's retirement? Speaking on The Dan Patrick Show, Decker said her 29-year-old husband might do more sports-talk radio (he co-hosts a show on Fox Sports Radio with Bobby Bones) once he puts down his rackets.

“They have a weekly show they started in January, so it’s about a month old," Decker said. "But they hope to eventually make it a daily show, but of course that will probably be two years down the line once Andy is completely finished.”

When pressed on the time frame, Decker seemed to realize that she may have spoken out of turn, but she stuck to her two-year estimate.

“You never know what could happen in the world of tennis, with injuries and all that kind of stuff," Decker said. "But his timeline is, hopefully, full-time radio in about two years or so.”

Given Roddick's recent bad luck with injuries, two years sounds about right.

2. $90 million buys a lot of red paint: Emirates Airlines has secured the naming rights for the U.S. Open Series. The USTA announced a seven-year, $90 million deal that goes into effect immediately (check out the new logo). The summer North American tournaments leading up to the U.S. Open will be re-branded as the Emirates U.S. Open Series.

Three observations about this move: First, it's going to take a while to get used to saying "Emirates U.S. Open Series." Second, does this mean that the new predominant colorways for the tournaments will be red? Blue replaced red when AEGON took over sponsorship of the grass tournaments leading up to Wimbledon, and for $90 million one would think Emirates would have demanded similar concessions from the USTA. And third, SI.com's Jon Wertheim tweeted an interesting note: that the deal was held up because of political concerns. That's supported by USTA chief revenue officer Lew Sherr's comments in this Wall Street Journal article:

Mr. Sherr said that he and his colleagues "did our due diligence" before deciding to use the name of a Mideast oil state for the USTA's marquee event, risking that some Americans won't distinguish between friendly and hostile Arab countries.

I suspect there won't be any backlash or political concern once the summer rolls around. Emirates is well-established as a premier sports sponsor, having made a big splash with its deal for naming rights of Arsenal's home stadium as well as AC Milan and other events around the globe. But the USTA's decision to go with a company that is largely unknown to most Americans (the previous U.S Open sponsor, Olympus, wasn't an American company but at least a familiar brand) is further proof of the global nature of the sport not just on the rankings board but also in the pocketbooks.

3. American tennis is dea-- Oh, hey! New career highs!: John Isner is up to a career-high No. 14 after his Davis Cup heroics and Christina McHale's strong run in Doha guarantees her at least the No. 34 ranking come Monday, also a career high. While Isner's progress may be the one making waves, you have to credit McHale's steady, workmanlike rise.

4. Vicious Vika: If Caroline Wozniacki was No. 1 with an asterisk, Victoria Azarenka is a No. 1 with an exclamation mark. All eyes were on her this week in her first tournament as the reigning No. 1, and she's responded by slamming the door on anyone who thought she might dip into the latest post-major-slump trend. She's into the semifinals of the Qatar Open, having dished out two bagel sets and notched decisive wins over Mona Barthel (6-1, 6-0), Simona Halep (6-3, 6-1) and Yanina Wickmayer (6-0, 6-4). And for those tracking at home, yes, she's still rocking her shorts.

5. No desert, Kim: Kim Clijsters announced that she was withdrawing from next month's tournament in Indian Wells, Calif., because of the ankle injury she suffered at the Australian Open. The announcement came surprisingly early. With Indian Wells not set to begin until March 5,  she's had almost a month to rest the ankle so far with about two more weeks still to go. While we don't know the full extent of her ankle injury (and that is a huge caveat to what I'm about to say), a month seems like plenty of time to rest and rehab an ankle that she continued to play on for two-and-a-half matches after she rolled it. (The injury occurred in a fourth-round win over Li Na; Clijsters then won her quarterfinal match against Wozniacki before losing to Azarenka in the semis.) Clijsters may be a part-time player and full-time mom, but given that this is her last year on Tour, you would think she'd want to savor every tournament. She's a two-time champion at Indian Wells (2003, '05) and the fans love her there. It's too bad the last memory they'll have is her walking off the court with her head down after retiring to Marion Bartoli last year with a shoulder injury. As it is, without Clijsters and the perennially absent Williams sisters, the women's field at Indian Wells is taking a big hit.

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