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Beyond the Baseline

Daily Bagel: Novak Djokovic's father criticizes Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal

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

• Video: She may not have won the Bank of the West Classic, but finalist Agnieszka Radwanska spent the week making hot shot after hot shot. Here's another show-stopping drop shot.

• Novak Djokovic's father, Srdjan, gave a lengthy interview with a Serbian newspaper in which he said his son and Rafael Nadal are no longer friends and blasted Roger Federer.

Novak’s father is especially proud of Novak for one thing, he says. When Novak was a young boy he would get terribly angry when he would lose a match, he did not take it the right way. Srdjan often told him to congratulate his rival when he loses, and to tell him – well done, I will do everything I can to win the next time. The defeat is so much better than the victory you get to after torture. The defeat makes one to think about his game and learn from mistakes so he would not repeat them again. Novak realized that, and everyone can see how he behaves now, says Srdjan.

Novak is the only one who behaves the same way in life and sport, says Srdjan. There is no athlete who treats his opponents in the same way when he loses and wins, said Novak father.

He also said that Nadal used to be Novak’s best friend while he was winning. But when things changed, they were no longer friends. This is not sport, says Srdjan. This is what Novak has in him, but others don’t. Federer may still be the best tennis player in the history of tennis, says Srdjan, but as man he is completely opposite. He attacked Novak at Davis Cup in Geneva, he realized Novak is his successor and in every way tried to discredit him.

When Switzerland faced Serbia in the 2006 Davis Cup in Geneva, Federer reportedly called Djokovic "a joke when it comes down to his injuries."

• As the discussion continues regarding anti-doping efforts in tennis, this piece from The Scotsman is an important read.

The ITF spend less and less money on anti-doping, the absence of many positive tests seemingly their reason for cutting down their costs year on year when many elite performers are telling them that the problem is rising, not falling.

“I’m sure there are guys who are doing it, getting away with it, and getting ahead of the testers,” said the American player James Blake last year. “I’m realistic that, with this much money involved, people will try to find a way to get ahead.”

They don’t need to try that hard in tennis. The number of tests carried out is woefully low, the number of out-of-competition tests and blood tests is so far behind other sports that it is easy to conclude that tennis doesn’t want to catch anybody, that they are happy to have substandard testing that will allow them to carry on with the pretence that their sport is largely clean.

• The Tennis Space wonders if Martina Hingis' comeback is welcome in light of her failed drug test for cocaine in 2007.

At Wimbledon in 2007, Martina Hingis failed a drugs test, for cocaine. The Swiss denied ever taking any kind of drugs but decided not to fight the two-year ban she received. She chose to retire (we’ll come back to that) for a second time due, she said, to trouble with injuries and her health.

Earlier this month, Hingis was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Her achievements on the court merit a place in the organisation, of course, but it was rather strange that her drugs ban was overlooked. When contacted by The Tennis Space, the Hall of Fame pointed out that inductees are voted on by 125 journalists and authors around the world, all of whom know their tennis. However, in the brief given to journalists considering their votes, no mention was made of her drugs ban. This contrasts with a line in the description given to each voter that says “consideration will be given to integrity, sportsmanship and character”. The fact that two days later, she announced her return to the Tour, cannot have gone down that well, either.

• In case you missed it, the official Twitter account for the Gstaad tournament was unintentionally hilarious.

• Peter Bodo looks at the opposing trajectories of American tennis: The women are soaring while the men are stalled.

You can’t judge a man by one tournament, or a generation by a  year or two. So let’s see how the men fare during the customary “American segment” in the coming weeks. At the moment, the third-highest ranked American after [Sam] Querrey and [John] Isner is No. 63 [Mardy] Fish. The four other American men in the top 100 are No. 85 Michael Russell, No. 91 James Blake, No. 93 Denis Kudla and No. 95 Jack Sock, who probably has the most up-side in his peer group of under-21 players.

Now look at the U.S. women: 11 of them are in the Top 100, led by No. 1 Serena Williams who appears to have located that mysterious fountain. Among them, only No. 36 Venus Williams is unlikely to provide much more help to the domestic cause. But then she’s already done more than her share of the heavy lifting.

• Liz Clarke of The Washington Post looks at the economics behind the dwindling number of American tournaments.

For starters, American players don’t dominate the game as they did in the era of Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras.

In 1993, three American men ended the year ranked among the top 10: Sampras (No. 1), Jim Courier (third) and Michael Chang (eighth).

Currently, there’s not one American man in the top 10 and only two among the top 50: Sam Querrey (20) and John Isner (22).

In the absence of front-running Americans, apart from top-ranked Serena Williams, TV ratings for tennis in the United States lag well behind those in Europe and much of Asia, where the sport is second only to soccer. In China, it is third behind basketball.

“It’s pretty simple in my mind,” said Andy Roddick, 30, who carried men’s tennis in the United States for most of his career. “Tennis is second worldwide as far as popularity. Frankly, it’s just in the U.S. that it’s not. Americans like watching sports that they know, but the sports that get covered mainstream have heavy American participation, like NFL — 99 percent of the guys are American, and the rest are place kickers.”

Without a robust TV audience, it’s more difficult for tournament promoters to attract the corporate sponsors that make an event profitable.

• Galina Voskoboeva did not have a very good time in Baku, Azerbaijan, where players played in 110-degree weather.

• A Q&A with Christian Harrison, who won his first ATP main-draw match last week in Atlanta.

• A New York Times "Times Talk" with John McEnroe.

• Non-tennis: A supercut of Saturday Night Live actors cracking up.

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