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Beyond the Baseline

Daily Bagel: Maria Sharapova's father made final phone call to Jimmy Connors

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AN0C0WDi0q0

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

• Video: Here are your hot shots from the Western & Southern Open.

• Matt Cronin reports that Maria Sharapova's father, Yuri, played a big role in the hiring and firing of Jimmy Connors. He's the one that placed the phone call to let Connors know it was over.

• In other major coaching news, Sam Stosur has split with Dave Taylor. She'll work with former player Alicia Molik in the interim.

• Novak Djokovic is the second player to qualify for the ATP World Tour Finals in London.

• Rafael Nadal is in very good position to end the year at No. 1.

• Victoria Azarenka put on a show during her semifinal win over Jelena Jankovic in Cincinnati. However, Azarenka said she wasn't even aware that she does this during matches.

"I actually heard that from my boyfriend for the first time, and he said, Why do you stick your ass out when you play?  I said, well, I don't do that.  He's like, Yeah, you do.  Like what?  He's like, Yeah, you do that, and he was trying to imitate me. I really don't notice that when I do that.  It's just reaction."

• Peter Bodo on Serena's Struggles vs. Serena's Triumphs.

I don’t really see “revenge,” per se, as a terribly important motive for Serena as the Open approaches, not even after the Cincinnati final. That’s partly because it must be somewhat difficult to develop a serious disdain against a woman who’s won just three matches in 15 tries against you, but also because Williams genuinely seems to like Azarenka. As Serena said after the match:

“I’m a big Victoria fan. Whenever I’m not at a tournament, I root for her. . . she’s just so professional and so nice. I mean, I really get along with her.”

Of course, you can create plenty of drama without dabbling in revenge themes, which may be the more pertinent factor as we roll on toward the final major of the year. With this loss to her closest rival, Serena has created as uncertain and tension-filled a scenario as anyone might have cooked up. That last year’s U.S. Open final between these two ended up with Serena barely scratching by—7-5 in the third, after Azarenka served for the title—ensures that people are going to dwell upon these last two matches to the exclusion of the 12 that came before.

Serena has had an outstanding year; she’s 60-4, with eight titles to her name. By contrast, Azarenka is 36-4 with just three titles. Each of the women has won one Grand Slam tournament in 2013, meaning that if one of them wins the Open, it will be very hard to resist declaring her the de facto No. 1 for the year.

• Non-tennis: From The New York Times: How New York City has changed in the 12 years under Mayor Bloomberg.
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