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Beyond the Baseline

Daily Bagel: An in-depth look at Sascha Bajin, Serena's 'everything' partner

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

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

• Video: ESPN gives a great look at Sascha Bajin, Serena's "everything" partner -- hitting partner, chef, chauffer and sometimes bodyguard. These players don't do it alone.

• From S.L. Price: The Cult of Roger Federer.

Golfers walk in and out of camera view. Boxers fight a few times a year, for less than an hour. But we fixate on tennis players year-round, for three and four hours at a time, staring as they serve and towel and sit and drink, ponder and frown, cry and look puzzled. It used to seem odd that the first question asked when people found out I cover tennis was about a player's sex life, but it makes sense. Stare at someone long enough, and you can't help but wonder about it all: Parents, religion, fashion sense, politics, tipping. Out of that calculus springs interest, then fandom, and then -- for the very rare player -- an investment verging on the religious.

Federer has been that player for a decade now. Nadal has millions of devotees, and Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic have their share. But the most telling part of David Foster Wallace's 2006 essay may be its title, "Federer as Religious Experience," because no other player is so often compared to a deity. There have been banners flown reading, "If tennis is a religion then Roger Federer is its God;" there are hats that say, "In Roger We Trust." In 2007, a Wimbledon church felt the need to post a signboard message reminding, "God Made Roger Federer." It didn't take. "There's a bumper sticker in India, which says, 'Sorry God, I worship Federer,'" said commentator Vijay Amritraj.

• In this must-read piece by Tom Perrotta, he interviews a number of former players who say they would never want their kids to become professional tennis players.

"I love the sport, so I want them to learn to play, but I have extreme trepidation about junior competition and tournaments," says Lindsay Davenport, the former No. 1 and now a mother of a son and two daughters. "Junior tennis, it's rough. People cheat, you get yelled at by other parents. I saw a dad walk on court and smack my opponent with an open hand, right in front of me. The sport beats up a lot of players."

Tracy Austin, the former No. 1 player and child prodigy, has three sons who play tennis and other sports. One is a high-ranked junior; the other two play less frequently. She's happy that her children aren't hell-bent on winning the U.S. Open at age 16, as she did.

"Tennis is too hard," Austin says. "It's so much more time-consuming than baseball, lacrosse, all these other sports. You cannot take a week off. The drive has to be so strong, the fire. Nobody was going to stop me."

Kim Clijsters, the former No. 1 whose 5-year-old daughter Jada has started playing, says she wouldn't want to train her daughter. "I'll let another coach deal with that ... I think it's important to keep that normal parent-child relationship."

• Interesting read from Doug Robson on the 360-degree defensive backhand, which has been the secret of the success of some of the top players.

In an age of bigger, faster and stronger athletes wielding souped-up equipment, time is of the essence. And the sport's best movers are fighting back and pushing defense to new, improvisational heights.

"They are feeling the time pressure," says John Yandell, a Yale-trained instructor and digital videographer who has captured the move on film.

Like Agnieszka Radwanska's low-bending baseline half volley or Kim Clijsters and Roger Federer's lunging slice "squash shot" forehands (hers from a split position), the blind spin is the latest wrinkle in an era of defensive genius.

• The anti-equal prize money camp likes to harp on this notion that people pay to watch men's matches and that the women are an afterthought. To them I'd like to point out the complaints in the British papers about ticket holders to No. 1 Court being forced to watch two men's matches and angered they didn't get to see Serena Williams, who was moved to Centre Court on Saturday.

Despite the need to keep learning, [Laura Robson] has star quality even though the All England Club embarrassed themselves for putting her on Court Two on Saturday.

Instead, fans on Court One paid £65 a ticket to watch two men’s matches with the main game of the day — involving Serena Williams — being moved to Centre Court during the evening.

At least Robson will be on Court One for her last-16 clash tomorrow.

• The All England Club will be questioning Bernard Tomic for his comments on Saturday in which he implied his father, John Tomic, has been able to get past security to watch his matches on site. John Tomic has been banned from the club after allegedly assaulting Tomic's hitting partner in Madrid.

• Matt Cronin catches up with Monica Puig, who has made a big splash over the last two months with a run to the third round at the French Open and now the fourth round of Wimbledon, where she'll face Sloane Stephens.

• Just how crazy is Laura Robson Fever right now? I've read in a number of British papers that she's on her way to becoming the highest-profile British sportswoman, surpassing Olympic gold medalist Jessica Ennis. Crazy.

• Will we see Lukasz Kubot do his famous victory dance Monday?

• Guess the grunt.

• Bonus video: Love this Wilson commercial featuring Milos Raonic, Madison Keys, Robson and Alex Kuznetsov.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2smGa76sNQ

• Non-tennis: Scandal: Cap'n Crunch was not a Cap'n.
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