Passing Shots: Venus gets a little help
Random thoughts, observations, links and other goodies from the tennis world this week …
• One surprising development from the Pan Pacific Open this week: Venus Williams took advantage of the WTA's rule allowing on-court coaching once per set during changeovers at tour events. I can't recall ever seeing that from her before. If David Witt's mid-match wisdom helped her play at such a high level in Tokyo (where she moved well, served big and made the semifinals before losing to Petra Kvitova in three sets), I'm all for it:
• On Monday, 19-year-old Eugenie Bouchard of Canada will break into the the top 40 for the first time and become the WTA's highest-ranked teenager. I confess that I really didn't see that coming. The discussion of the younger generation has generally centered on Sloane "Queen Bee" Stephens, Laura "Giant Killer" Robson and Madison "The Kid" Keys. Bouchard has been largely overlooked, primarily because she opted to keep competing on the junior circuit until she was 18. Now it's looking like that decision has paid off.
Bouchard seems like she has the best head of that four-player bunch, less inclined to have costly, inexplicable mental lapses. That maturity comes with competing in and winning so many matches, even if that experience came on the junior level. It's not unlike what you see from players who play college tennis before turning pro. Yes, their game may lack the big weapons, but often times they're better competitors than the young men and women who have been stuck losing in the early rounds of tour-level events week after week. Something to think about.
• I'm not sure what's behind Andy Roddick's penchant for dancing lately, but I like it:
• The ITF is taking a lot of heat for its handling of the Marin Cilic ordeal. Its policy of not commenting on a case until an independent tribunal has issued its decision is understandable, given how destructive a doping allegation can be for a player, especially in situations where an investigation results in no wrongdoing. But if the ITF is going to take that stance, then it has to expedite its investigation and hearing procedures. Cilic was notified of his failed drug test in May, but a decision wasn't issued until mid-September. In between, news of the failed test leaked, no one was talking and Cilic was pulling out of tournaments for "personal reasons." Everyone knew what was going on and no one was talking about it. When you have top players demanding to know what the deal is, that lack of transparency hurts the game.
• Agnieszka Radwanska won her 400th career match this week when she defeated Dominika Cibulkova at the Pan Pacific Open this week. Loved her tweet about it:
• Bar chat: If you're Ryan Harrison, who is ranked No. 109, do you fly all the way to Asia to take wild cards into the main draw of the Malaysian Open (where he lost in the first round) and a wild card into the qualifying tournament for next week's Japan Open, or do you stay in the United States and play Challenger tournaments? There was a $50K in Napa, Calif., this week, and Sacramento will lost a $100K event next week.
• Apparently this is what happens when players get bored in the training room:
• What makes a good Twitter account? Everyone has their own criteria, but in putting together my list of must-follow Twitter accounts I tried to balance a person's ability to be funny, different and informative. Any account that acts simply as a sponsor shill or unabashed PR machine got an automatic DQ. Those types of accounts rarely offer any insight into a player's personality, which is really what's supposed to set Twitter apart from Facebook. (Click here for more accounts that readers felt were overlooked on my initial list.)
• Andy Murray has a book coming out about his Wimbledon title. The cover art is very subtle:
• If you weren't burning the midnight oil to catch the action from Tokyo this week, you missed out on some mesmerizing rain delays:
• Get your vodka on the rocks ready: ESPN has a 30 for 30 documentary on Jimmy Connors coming soon. https://twitter.com/ByJoeFleming/status/382528852251004929