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Beyond the Baseline

Daily Bagel: Predicting the top 10 Americans at end of 2013

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_g9cP8iHFM

The Daily Bagel is your dose of the interesting reporting, writing and quipping from around the Internet.

• Video: Roger Federer and his mother are in South Africa this week to do some work for the Roger Federer Foundation. The shot of Federer wiping a young girl's nose is great. Nice video.

• The Grandstand undertakes an entertaining endeavor: ranking the top 10 Americans by the end of the year.

• Interesting discussion at Tennis.com about the Indian Wells prize money dispute. Kamakshi Tandon offers a reasonable set of counterarguments against the proposal.

It’s great that Indian Wells has this money and wants to share it with the players, but there’s a reason the Masters events are set up as as equals—similar prize money (some adjustments for length and currency), the same points, and mandatory entry. That means they don’t have to pay guarantees, which is huge, because it means the cash that would otherwise be thrown at the top players can instead go to prize money and tour payments. On top of that, it creates a series of identifiable events with consistent fields between the Grand Slams.

Generally, the feeling seems to be that this has worked out well. Do we really want to start messing with the Masters? Because if each tournament starts setting its own amounts, there's going to be competition to see who can provide the most and they might no longer be equal. That might get the players’ prize-money increases to begin with, but could also lead to guarantees returning at this level, and tournaments folding or dropping back to a lower level. And that would mean less money for the average player.

• Tandon writes at ESPN.com about ATP CEO Brad Drewett's legacy, which included a focus on increasing prize money at the Slams. Interesting to read that the next stage of his plan was to boost prize money at the Masters tournaments, yet he abstained from being the deciding vote in approving the Indian Wells prize money increase in November. Drewett will step down from the post after being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease.

• Great piece by Steve Tignor on the life of a tennis fan in this age of near-24/7 online streaming of matches all around the globe. It's awesome. It's also exhausting.

I had always thought that I wouldn’t want to be a fan who kept tabs on every single result, no matter how small the tournament. That seemed strictly for the know-it-alls. It had been nice, in the past, to get a first look at an up-and-comer when they came to the U.S. Open or Key Biscayne or Indian Wells. In pre-stream, pre-YouTube 2005, I went to Miami looking forward to seeing Ana Ivanovic play for the first time. I’d read about the Serbian girl who was tearing up the minor leagues, but had no idea what her game was like. Would it have been as intriguing if I'd seen each of her wins that winter?

It might have, actually. So far this year, the more I’ve seen of certain players—youngsters like Sock, Jamie Hampton, Laura Robson, Yulia Putintseva, Grigor Dimitrov; established players like Julien Benneteau, Caroline Wozniacki, and Tommy Haas—the more I’ve wanted to see them again, to track their weekly progressions and regressions.

• Some amusing tidbits here in Caroline Wozniacki's news conference in Dubai after her first-round win. We've known for years she has jokes, but usually they fall flat. This time she knocks them out of the park.

Q.  Besides the ranking, do you feel your level is close to [Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka]?

CAROLINE WOZNIACKI:  I haven't played them for a while, but the last time I played Serena I beat her.  No, I didn't, actually.  I got completely killed at the Olympics. I'd rather forget that.

...

Q.  This is the first time in four years that you've played the first round here.  Before it's always been you have had a bye.  Did that work to your advantage that you're not being sort of inserted into the tournament pretty cold, as it were, and you have actually had a game beforehand?

CAROLINE WOZNIACKI:  I like the bye. I like playing bye. I have positive records with byes.  (Laughter.) If I could, I'd play byes until the finals, but unfortunately that's not possible.

• Non-tennis: The Classical on Oscar Pistorius: The Horror and the Noise.
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