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Beyond the Baseline

Daily Bagel: Pondering Venus' future

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=0hBAQuQVxEY

• Video: This entire song about Andy Murray is great, but here's the best line: "When you win at the tennis, you make everybody happy. Then there is a pause and we move on with our lives."

• Before Venus Williams announced her withdrawal from Wimbledon with a back injury, Pete Bodo contemplated if she's nearing the end of the road:

The looming question at the moment regarding Venus appears to be, “Does she have one more good singles run left in her?” Given her athletic gifts, I’m tempted to write that she does, despite her age. But those other factors -- the Sjogren’s syndrome, the niggling injuries, the consistent lack of regular match play, the burnout she must feel at times, after 18 years with a WTA ranking -- those are warning signs. Their net weight may be too much of a burden to bear.

I wonder sometimes if Venus counts herself lucky to have Serena around, taking up most of the oxygen in the room. To some degree, it has enabled Venus to weather the challenges she’s steadily faced since 2011 in relative privacy. And this: Because she will be in great demand as a doubles player, she can leave the game without leaving the game, if you know what I mean. Perhaps she’s already done so.

• Novak Djokovic doesn't play mind games with his competitors. He's too busy playing them with himself.

"I don't play mind games in the locker room with my competitors, with my rivals. I think that the biggest challenge, mental challenge, for myself is actually me," Djokovic said.

"I have a mental fight with myself where I try to focus on positive thoughts and then, if you manage to do that, because of intensity level and competition level, you go through a lot of stages where you have doubts. Where you have fears of winning, of losing, you know."

• Ben Rothenberg reports from Wimbledon qualifying, which is underway at nearby Roehampton.

The unpublicized qualifying event is not designed to be inviting, either. Roehampton is difficult to get to, and matches are difficult for spectators to access. There is not much seating: the few dozen plastic chairs around the grounds are guarded vigilantly by their holders. Three courts are next to a hill, which allows fans to sit and watch, so those three courts draw the most people.

Courts 1 through 10 are in a line, with aisles about three feet wide between them for viewing. Since the aisles are made up of the same lawn as the courts, standing in an aisle gives one the intrusive feeling of standing on the court, as well as the rude feeling of having one’s back to the court behind.

• "How to Fix Tennis' Big Problems," from ESPN.com's Howard Bryant. Do we need a fifth-set tiebreaker if the problem of never-ending matches actually isn't that pronounced?

There is another concern: Why make a rules change to something that doesn't happen that often? According to Greg Sharko, the ATP director of media information, there have been 97 Grand Slam matches since 2000 that went to a double-digit fifth-set scoreline. He also sent along this handy chart of fifth-set scores and occurrences of each since 2000 as a resource:

10-8: 30 times 11-9: 25 times

12-10: 14 times

13-11: 6 times

14-12: 3 times

15-13: 3 times

16-14: 8 times

17-15: 3 times

18-16, 19-17, 20-18, 21-19, and obviously, 70-68: once

• If you're stuck at work during Wimbledon, follow the action on its live blog. It's always an entertaining read. 

• Non-tennis: NPR offers a slight defense of Miss Utah.
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