U.S. Open star Oudin still needs work to reach next level; more mail
• For those new to the show, WTHIGOW is short for What The Heck Is Going On With. Oudin had a terrific U.S. Open. That's beyond debate. She competed fiercely. She beat a host of top players. And she handled an unexpected onslaught of pressure and scrutiny with aplomb and grace. The machine, however, went into overdrive. Suddenly, she was being hailed as the savioress of American tennis, the second coming of
There's plenty of reason to support Oudin. But right now she is what she is: a feisty and fierce player, with a strong will to compete, better-than-average strokes, a below-average serve and a pleasant off-court disposition. Games aren't stagnant and she could well get to the next level. But the expectation that she would replicate her U.S. Open success, especially at the end of a long season, just isn't realistic.
In other cases, the outrage does indeed sound sanctimonious.
But this absence of honor among thieves goes both ways, too. Whether it was
• You know how in other sports, the fans of the winning team will yell, Scoreboard! to quell any protests or antics by the losing opposition? At some level, this ought to be Sampras' defense to all this. As much as I've defended Agassi in recent weeks, I thought his treatment of Sampras was pretty shabby. Sampras did not return my e-mail seeking comment, and I don't entirely blame him -- not sure what there is to be gained. But I wonder if he isn't thinking:
All well and good that Agassi can position himself as more self-actualized, more dharma-prone. Sampras won more majors and I suspect that's good enough for him.
• The other players must feel like
• Sure. Though I wonder if this isn't simply a function of a) aging; b) taking on responsibility commensurate with your ranking; c) improved confidence in English; and d) growing comfort with the media, as opposed to a concerted strategy. In other words, one would hope that Nadal would be more outspoken than he was as an 18-year-old. No?
• Given how many other topics got the open kimono treatment, I was surprised there wasn't more talk of sexuality in Agassi's book. We've discussed this in the past, but like you, I still say that tennis is ripe for an active player to come out. It's an individual sport, so athletes need not worry about homophobic teammates freezing them out of the offense or razzing them on bus rides. The top players, from whom the rest of the field takes a cue, are non-cavemen. (Do you think, for instance, that Roddick, who invites
As we discussed a while back,
Here, incidentally, is an interesting
• It's a bit of apples of oranges. Serena has won double-digit Slams for her career. Roddick has won one. The expectations aren't quite the same. But, empirically anyway, we ought to stop for a second and think about whether Serena is really such an underachiever after all.
• You want good news, we got good news. Tennis participation in the United States eclipsed 30 million this year, the highest mark in decades. We can debate where to apportion credit. USTA programs? The Tennis Industry of America? Roger Federer? Tennis Channel? Changing demographics? An economy that makes a $100 round of golf unappealing at best and unaffordable at worst, especially when compared to a $150 racket and $3 can of balls? Whatever, it's a good omen.
• Thanks to everyone who stopped by the Indianapolis event. Programming note for New York readers:
• Last week reader
• More scouting on
• Speaking of the NBA, Lakers guard
• Agassi answering the Proust questionnaire at
Have a great week, everyone!