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Beyond the Baseline

Daily Bagel: Has the Golden Age of tennis increased TV ratings?

http://youtu.be/XQJAPVZCcpI

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

• Video: ATP Uncovered profiles Rafael Nadal and his triumphant 2013 season.

• Steve Tignor sits down with an ESPN executive to talk about the network's coverage. Here's an enlightening comment on who drives ratings in the U.S.:

Andre Agassi was as big a ratings star as any player today. The proven ratings winners for us now are the Williams sisters and Roger [Federer], and now Rafa has shown that he can bring people in. But we haven’t seen that with matches between Novak [Djokovic] and Andy [Murray] yet. Tennis can still be a challenge without a name-brand star.

• Beautifully written longform recap of the U.S. Open by Elizabeth Kaye for SB Nation. My only quibble: In setting up the Djokovic-Nadal rivalry, it's a bit harsh on Novak.

• Peter Bodo responds to a broad-shot gossip item in The New York Post that implies there is doping in the upper echelons of the game.

The other troubling reason is more complicated and, in some ways, bitterly ironic. It’s the level to which the players have taken the game recently, demonstrated best in the recent Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal matches. The stamina, power, and skill of these men is nothing less than astonishing -- so much so that it seems to brings out the skeptic or outright doper-hunter in many people. It’s a pity, punishing them for their greatness. I’m going to need tangible proof and not just hearsay or speculation about how someone looks to come off that position.

• Kamakshi Tandon of ESPN.com on how Stanislas Wawrinka learned to win. It all started with that loss to Djokovic at the Australian Open, after which he go the following tattoo on his arm: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail Better."

By spring, the words were inscribed on his skin, though for him their meaning clearly ran deeper. It was the message he had given himself and had been given by his Davis Cup teammates and friends ever since that match against Djokovic.

"A few tough losses at the beginning of the year, but we always said, 'Look, the most important is what you do with that situation,'" said Swiss captain Severin Luthi, who has provided coaching support to Wawrinka. "If you react negative and you go into a mental hole, you won't progress. You have to accept the positive and negative out of it and try to improve; that's all you can do.

"And he was very disciplined in that direction."

• Does No-Ad scoring really save that much time? Jeff Sackman of Heavy Topspin crunches some numbers.

• According to this Russian report, Igor Andreev is retiring at the end of the season.

• Non-tennis: From The Splitsider: The 20 best characters from Conan O'Brien's late-night shows.
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