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Solution to Ivanovic's struggles; Blake vs. Shriver; more Wimbledon


Jon, so Ana Ivanovic loses 6-3, 6-4 in the first round to Shahar Peer. Seriously, I am baffled as to how this player could reach the Australian Open final and win the French Open title in 2008, and since winning the French has not made it beyond the fourth round in a major since. ... What gives? Do you think there's any way we, Ana's fans, can get the WTA Tour to kick her off the tour? Harsh, I know, but then again at least her fans would no longer have to endure her miserable career slump anymore.-- Keith, Minneapolis

• All jokes aside, what if Ivanovic's sponsors and the WTA got together and said: "Clearly this is a wayward ship, Ana. You need to take some time off, consult a sports psychologist, rediscover your game and come back at the beginning of 2011. We don't ordinarily relieve players of commitments and suspend contractual obligations but enough already. This business of losing week-in, week-out, falling deeper into the abyss, being forced to smile through the postmortem, does no one any good. Not you, Ana. Not women's tennis. Not the sponsors. You clearly have talent. You had already reached two Grand Slam finals and had won all manner of titles before the 2008 French Open. On ball-striking alone you should be a top-10 player. Take a break. Clear your head. And launch career 2.0."

Jon, I like your work, but disagree that Roger Federer's displays of cockiness are "rare." Whenever he puts his foot in his mouth it seems that the media spins it as a rare lapse. At some point, just acknowledge that Federer, like most other great champions, has a pretty sizable ego.-- Oakland, Metairie, La.

• I feel for Federer here. I know a lot of you knock him for arrogance, but there's a fine line between modesty and false modesty. The guy's won 16 slams; he's entitled to a) a little swagger and b) echo common sentiment. He plays an unbelievable match and says, "I played an unbelievable match." So much? Give me that over his winning 6-2, 6-2 and saying sheepishly, "It was closer than the score indicated. Andy played well. There's still a lot I need to work on."

I just read that Michael Llodra is being coached at Wimbledon by Amelie Mauresmo. Can you think of another male player who was coached by a woman that's not his mother/relative? And will this become a career path for more retired female stars, particularly the ones with technically gifted games?-- Jai Krishnan, San Francisco

• Someone help me out here. I believe in the early '90s, Andrei Chesnokov, the Russian baseliner.

Did you know "falla" means "error" in Spanish? It can also mean "decision," as in a judge's decision.-- Jim Bartle, Huaraz, Peru

• Several of you mentioned that. And I gather Dick Enberg did as well during the telecast. Good work, ESPN researchers.

Just spotted on the Yahoo! Sports tennis site -- a photo of Nicolas Kiefer, with the caption that it is David Ferrer, returning the ball to Akgul Amanmuradova. Did she really enter the men's draw this year?-- Helen, Philadelphia

• Thus, putting the "a man" in Amanmuradova.

You asked for a bigger upset at Wimbledon than the potential Federer/Falla match. This is low-hanging fruit, but Sampras/Bastl was pretty big. I know Sampras was not the No. 1 seed that year (although arguably Federer shouldn't be either), but Bastl was out of the top 100 and I believe a "lucky loser." Perhaps not a bigger upset, but I certainly recall being stunned by Sampras/Bastl.-- Brett, Castle Rock, Colo.

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• OK, but Sampras was hardly in the prime of his career the way Federer is. In fact, Sampras hadn't won a major since Wimbledon of 2000 a full two years prior. And he was north of 30. Big difference between that and being the defending champ and top seed.

Trivia: who coached George Bastl that day? Answer: Craig Tiley, the Australian Open tournament director (among other titles.)

I know that Justine Henin is only seeded 17 at Wimbledon, but she has won seven Grand Slams and has made the final at Wimbledon twice. It seemed, in my opinion, to be a slap in the face when her first-round match was scheduled on court 12. And the last match of the day, to add further insult. Her first match at Wimbledon in three years? I would think a lot of people would have wanted to see her! -- Matthew, Tottenham, Ontario

• I'm of two minds here. Yes, it's odd that Henin was banished to the hinterlands. On the other hand, I like that casual fans who happened to be at the right place at the right time had the opportunity to see a legend up close and personal.

So who owes who an apology ... James Blake to Pam Shriver or vice versa?-- Jamayan W., Charlotte, N.C.

• If I'm Blake, I go high road here. "It was the heat of the battle, the match wasn't going my way, I got a little frustrated and I snapped. Sorry. Play my charity event and I'll play yours." Seems to me Pam was just doing her job. And, frankly, inasmuch as Blake is thinking about a TV career when his tennis career ends, there's no sense getting into a urination contest with the worldwide leader.

• Cam Bennett of Geelong, Australia: "So Deepak of Melbourne [who wrote in to say he couldn't find the Roger Federer-Alejandro Falla broadcast] really just needed to switch from Fox Sports to Channel 9 on Monday -- Fox was showing Nikolay Davydenko vs. Kevin Anderson because Channel 9 was showing Federer vs. Falla here in Australia. More importantly, can you give a plug to Wimbledon Live for your Aussie readers? It's not available in the U.S., but in many countries we can pay our $30 ($15 if you got in early) and can watch six courts live on the official Wimbledon Web site. Awesome value. I have the World Cup on the TV and Wimbledon projected through the computer onto the lounge-room wall. Seriously, does life get any better than this?"

• Thanks to Danny Kendall for noting: This is the first time in the Open Era that the two women's finalists from the French Open lost in the first round at Wimbledon.

• Noting that Bode Miller tried to play the U.S. Open qualifiers via the Hawaii section, David Luskin of Breckenridge notes: "Olympic champion skier Julia Mancuso lives in Hawaii during the summer. She has won three Olympic medals and multiple World Championship medals and World Cup ski races. Bode Miller is not the only great skier in Hawaii."

• Jim Bartle of Huaraz, Peru: "Not a question, just something that hasn't been commented on much. In the past three Wimbledon finals, Federer has won eight sets. Six of those were in tiebreaks, another 15-13 and the last 6-2 (final set vs. Nadal in 2008). Only one 'normal' win in 15 sets. I guess this could show that he's really dependable at the key moments, or that he really hasn't been as dominant as it may appear."

• Georgia Tech's Irina Falconi and Robert Farah of USC have been named the 2010 Campbell/ITA National College Players of the Year. Tennessee's Natalie Pluskota and Caitlin Whoriskey and Duke's Reid Carleton and Henrique Cunha are the ITA National Doubles Teams of the Year.

• Milan of Serbia writes: "Want a real Almagro twin (and a reason why he could win 20 Slams and won't be taken seriously in Serbia)? Google image 'Voja Nedeljkovic.' "