Newsworthiness must go ahead of hurt feelings for tennis press
A quick baguette, while stretching my psoas ...
• I think that's a fair question. Obviously the answer depends on the player. But I take issue with -- and Federer has used this word, too -- the notion that there is "negativity" in the press room. OK, there are a few grumps who might get a rise from other's misfortune. But I think most of us are simply fulfilling the job requirements. Sports are a zero-sum game. There is winning and, necessarily, there is losing. There are also events and results and trends that need to be addressed. When a player who was ranked No. 1 just 18 months can't win a game in a major, sorry, but that's noteworthy and ought to remarked upon.
It can't be pleasant losing as Safina did and then being asked to dissect her awfulness. (I give her immense credit for her honest responses;
• Total headcase. But we've known that for years. Hell, he's known that. In the fall he lost a match and promptly tweeted: "Biggest choke EVER." Dick Enberg -- Dick Enberg! -- called out Tipsarervic his fifth-set tank job. I realize I'm in the minority, but it didn't bother me terribly. It's 5-0 in the fifth set. You're emotionally gutted, having blown match points. I don't think it's so crazy that stop hustling. Why is this so different from, say, basketball players in garbage time who routinely give a half-hearted effort when the outcome is, realistically, not in doubt. You don't want to condone tanking. But there comes a point when, sometimes, you've been drained of fight.
• Note: it's Linda Kahn, not Linda Cohn. I'll say it again: when I watch
• You know who I don't envy? Jamie Reynolds, the ESPN tennis producer. It's not just that opinions are all over the map. It's that the very same traits that some of you find endearing, others find odious. Reader A says Mary Joe Fernandez is bland and never says adds insight. Reader B loves Mary Joe Fernandez (or MJ, as I gather she's called) because she is restrained and modest. Reader A thinks Brad Gilbert is a boorish frat boy. Reader B likes his "sports dude" sensibilities. Reader A likes Pam Shriver whimsy. Reader B finds her annoying in the extreme. My guess is that ESPN received complaints about stodginess so the team was told to be a bit looser, especially at the most casual Slam. That clearly rankles some of you. Can't please 'em all.
• I know he is the favorite whipping boy of many of you, but let's be clear bout James Blake. We're talking about a player who was once ranked in the top five, beat Federer at the Olympics, and has three wins over Nadal. Was he overhyped? Probably. Did he underachieve at Slams? Yes. Might he have added more variety over the course of his career? Sure. But we're talking about a solid top 10 player for multiple years.
In the case of Querrey, we're encroaching on put-up-or-shut-up time. Players make their reputation at Slams. At two of the last four majors, Querrey hasn't just lost early; he's lost without sowing much in the way of courage. On serve alone, you'd think he has a deep Slam run in him. But to say he's due would be to traffic in understatement.
• There's also a cultural explanation. Says Pieter Jan Neveux of Dilbeek: "As a compatriot of Kim Clijsters, I guess her apologies are also the consequence of the nature of the Belgian people. There's a general trend among Belgians to be humble and modest even in the case of a major achievement. Of course, every sportsman should have a competitive drive but I guess this behaviour is typical to Belgians. I realize the significance of my mail is quite low, but I just wanted to point out this other possible factor of 'fair' behaviour."
• Re: Clijsters' apologizing for serving the dreaded double bagel, an anonymous reader sends
• Tineke van Buul of Amstelveen, Netherlands: "A reaction to the ongoing debate on 'unfair' draws. I know you're familiar with pool, but maybe not with snooker. They have an interesting way to make up a draw. The top 16 players are automatically entered for a tournament. There opponents are derived from the following process: 17-32 play 33-48. The winners play the top 16. Or 33-48 play 49-64, the winners play 17-32 and the winners of that play the top 16. There can be as many as 7 of those pre-rounds, somtetimes played weeks before the actual tournament. If a player ranked within a certain section is unavailable, the numbering is moved up accordingly. Sports with cue and ball on a table are totally unrelated to tennis of course and have only a limited number of tournaments in a season. Just wanted to show all sorts of weird and wonderful approaches to setting up a draw are possible!"
• Brian notes: "I am sure you don't like to print responses to comments about answers to questions, but I'll give it a try anyway. I thought your response to the flood vs. earthquake charity question was spot on. I don't really see any underlying racial bias either. However, I found Mr. Shaw's comment in your recent mailbag rather curious. First let me say that I think the assigning of 'equivalent misfortunes' is unproductive and inherently subjective, as we should fell sympathy for all affected parties. What I found interesting was that 'relative affluence' is apparently a determinant of natural disaster misfortune coefficients, for lack of a better term. It seems as if Mr. Shaw is implying that we shouldn't discount the flood victims' misfortune due to race, but rather because they have higher incomes than people in third-world countries. To paraphrase: If the only difference the writer can see between these is the income level of those affected, there's really no basis for conversation. I think anytime one's surrounding world is rendered unrecognizable through natural disaster it qualifies as 'unimaginable horror,' regardless of one's level of income."
• Tennis fans (especially @amerdelic and @craigtiley):
• Robert B. of Melbourne, Fla.: "Long lost siblings nominees (in all fairness, an ESPN commentator pointed this out):
Enjoy Day 5 everyone!