Daily Bagel: Best racket smashes of Australian Open
The Daily Bagel is your dose of the interesting reporting, writing and quipping from around the Internet.
• Video: Not to get all U-S-A on everyone, but based on that video compilation it seems to me Serena Williams' racket smash should be the only one included. It's been a pretty weak tournament for racket smashes.
• Carl Bialik for The Wall Street Journal says Novak Djokovic's rout of David Ferrer isn't any indication for his performance in the final. But I'm more interested in his creation of a stat to help measure a player's dominance in the match by looking at how easily a player held and broke serve.
But games lost doesn’t do justice to the biggest routs, where the winner was never in danger on his serve, while consistently winning points on his opponent’s serve. Performances like that are more untouchable than ones where both players’ service games are in play yet one consistently wins more of those games than his opponent. To capture that difference, I prefer stat I call dominance ratio: the ratio of the winner’s percentage of return points won to his opponents’ percentage of return points won.
• Must-read piece (as they usually are) from Brian Phillips for Grantland on Maria Sharapova, David Beckham, beauty, fame, humanity, objectification and losing. You know, small ideas.
At moments of difficulty or stress, when the circumstances are wrong or simply when she's not paying attention, the magazine gloss drops away and you see a human depth. She has higher priorities than her own attractiveness. She needs to win; she needs to be a winner. For that reason, it's fascinating to watch her lose.
• From Jake Simpson at The Atlantic: Do we lose greatness if we get rid of five-set matches? And does the game fundamentally change simply by tweaking the format?
Men's tennis, then, would become a different game, one that rewards a different skill set than the current format. Fast starters like Federer would be rewarded, as would heavy hitters like Tsonga and Argentine behemoth Juan Martin del Petro who could put their all into every shot without the specter of going five sets. In four of the last 15 majors, the eventual winner (Nadal twice, Federer twice) would have lost early in the tournament.
• Dave Seminara for The New York Times' Straight Sets Blog on the perils of watching the Australian Open via DVR. It ain't easy.
• Scoop Jackson at ESPN.com admonishes us against putting too much pressure on Sloane Stephens. I agree. Now if he could talk to his TV counterparts, who put Stephens front and center in their promos and pushed the "Serena's protege" narrative, that'd be a pretty great start.
• Gossip stuff: Ana Ivanovic was caught canoodling on a Melbourne beach with Novak Djokovic's friend. • Non-tennis: In honor of Andy Murray's win over Roger Federer, here are a pair of Shetland ponies wearing sweaters inviting you to visit Scotland.