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Beyond the Baseline

Daily Bagel: Rafael Nadal says no rift with Novak Djokovic

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRb784scZxQ

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

• Video: A classic blooper reel from the 2007 U.S. Open Series commercials.

Rafael Nadal responds to Novak Djokovic's father's recent comments claiming that the two players have a strained relationship.

Speaking to reporters on Monday at DC Inter Manacor, Nadal reacted to the comments:

“Djokovic’s father should talk to his son," he said. "My relationship with him has always been very good and it still is. I’ve lost many games with him, and he with me and have never had any problems.”

• Tennis Channel's Joel Drucker looks at the Maria Sharapova/Jimmy Connors pairing and somehow works in The Godfather.

It will be fascinating to see how Connors engages with Sharapova.  With [Andy] Roddick he did not travel to all tournaments. [Ivan] Lendl doesn’t go to all [Andy] Murray’s events. But ever since she stopped working with Robert Lansdorp in 2005, Sharapova’s coach has been with her week in and week out. Will Connors? What will he say to her on those televised coaching breaks? Will he talk publicly following her matches –win or lose?  Or will he assume the qualities of a sphinx?

But again, like Lendl with Murray, the potential is there to provide a presence. Connors was fond of saying he never changed his game no matter who he was playing. Surely that’s catnip for the resolute Russian. But Connors also loved to say, “there’s a game within a game within a game.” Cryptic as that might sound, if you look past the bravado and bluster of a Connors match you will see a number of subtle shifts in tactics, tempo, timing. Perhaps, just perhaps, some of those notions will seep into Sharapova’s head as she manages her way through matches -- not just versus the problematic Serena [Williams] but versus all opponents. “I guarantee you this,” says [Pancho] Segura.  “Jimbo will improve her knowledge of the game.”

The Tennis Space has more from Marin Cilic's former coach, Bob Brett, on Cilic's future and the troublesome naiveté within the ATP about doping issues.

• Strong piece from Steve Tignor on why the concept of a "silent ban" for doping is detrimental to the sport.

The “silent ban” has long been a favorite fallback for doping conspiracy theorists, something that's mentioned when virtually any player is sidelined for an extended period. Nadal even had to deny that he had served one to a reporter when his seven-month hiatus ended in February. The suspicion is that the sport needs to punish cheaters, but doesn't want to undermine its credibility with the public. Now, in light of the Cilic report, there’s more reason to believe the conspiracy-minded. Whether his situation constitutes a silent ban, or whether a positive test and suspension is eventually made public, it’s probably only a slight exaggeration to say that every injury claim in the immediate future will be greeted with some degree of skepticism.What else, I’ve already caught myself wondering, didn’t we know about at this year’s WimbledonWas it really as “weird” as we thought?

Every rational fan knows that doping is not going to be eliminated from any sport. The best the authorities can do to keep our trust is to test as well as they can, and be as transparent as possible about the results. Nadal has called for more testing statistics to be made public; the more that’s hidden, he has said, the more suspicions are aroused. In The Guardian today, Brett echoes that opinion. "I don't agree with sheltering people from having their names released," he says. "If they made it open, then people would maybe feel there's a greater risk [and fewer cases would happen]." Brett also says that the men's tour needs to do more to educate its players about banned substances in over-the-counter products.

• The ITF has been busy: Here's another doping ban, handed to Faisal Aldossri, a low-level player from Saudi Arabia.

Laura Robson says she was freaking out watching the men's Wimbledon final. She won her first-round match at the Southern California Open on Tuesday and took the time to hit with a young fan.

• Tom Perotta reviews Djokovic's new nutrition book.

• Non-tennis: 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick does not care what you think about his tattoos.
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