When it comes to sports analytics, tennis remains behind curve
While thinking that if Ryan Harrison-Milos Raonic is the future, we'll stick around, thanks ...
• I was at the
It's just a terrific event. A lot of heavy hitters; a lot of cutting-edge research; a lot of "What's Next?" talk. I was disheartened by the absence of tennis. Every sport was well-represented. There was entire golf analytics panel. Yet there was no one from the ITF, ATP, WTA or USTA. Sadly this seems to be representative. Tennis took the lead on Hawk-Eye and electronic officiating but is way behind the times in terms of data. There are a few voices in the wilderness -- Greg Sharko and Kevin Fischer -- but overall, the sport needs to get with it. At a time when many fans have an insatiable appetite for analytics, tennis traffics in the same old statistics. And even then, they're terribly difficult to access.
As for Sergi's question, unforced errors are indeed highly subjective. And even if accurate, they can be of minimal value. It's entirely possible to get thumped, and yet commit very few errors -- mostly because your lame shots are enabling the opponent to crank winners. Conversely, you might dictate play and win handily, yet commit many unforced errors, because at 40-0 or 40-15 and miss by a few inches. No shame there.
• You say that jokingly but tennis is so ill-served in the Pacific Northwest. Between the Nike presence, the strong tennis community, the agreeable weather and the overall awesomeness of Oregon ... I say why not. Love the idea Federer at a football game at Phil Knight State, University of Oregon. How he fits that into his schedule, I'm not so sure.
• It's funny. As much as we like to hype prospects in the Republic of Tennis, Dimitrov has been (cliché alert) flying well below the radar. He
I think a few things are going on here. If he were from the U.S. or the U.K. or Spain or Germany or Japan or Australia or Italy or China or India or ... the hype would be considerable. Less hype when you're from Bulgaria. It is what it is. He went through a rough patch last year (which may ultimately be a disguised blessing) but some of the attention definitely dissipated. Finally, his progress has been steady but he hasn't exactly crushed it at the big events or won a breakthrough match yet. If he's ranked 71 but reached the second week of a Slam or beat a Fernando Verdasco-caliber player (see: Raonic, Milos), it's a different story. Having said all that, Dimitrov is, undeniably, a real talent. Watch for him.
• Taking your talents to South Beach, are you? I think your ambitions are reasonable. Have some loose change ready for the causeways but otherwise you'll be fine. I'd be lying if I said South Beach was my scene; I'm more cut out for
• The Sharko-rater says: Yes, they could. However, they couldn't play singles at a Challenger as Top 10 players are not allowed to play Challenger events. So unless they want to play doubles only this can't be done by the likes of Fed/Rafa.
• First time ever? You must be a new reader. I don't disagree that it gets harder to gripe about the length of the season when you elect to play doubles. But overall I think it's great. The fans have twice as many chances to see their favorite players. The stars get to work on components of their game, but in a competitive circumstance. They get used to the court. And, truth be told, the matches seldom last more than an hour given the quick points and super tiebreak. They're only covering half the court as well. If Nadal or whomever breaks down in September, I think it's hard to blame a few sets of doubles in March.
• Another reader suggested they were motivated by
• I'm fascinated by the career arc of an athlete. If you're not careful, you peak in your 20s, retire in your 30s and say, "What the hell am I going to do for the next 50 years?" There's only so much golf you can play; there's only so much money you can lose with your production company; there are only so many TV analyst positions out there. If you're savvier, you can bring your "sports lessons" and connections to bear and parlay that into Career 2.0. Tennis is filled with examples of both. There are players who leave the sport and go into deep depression unable to replicate the surge of competition, the notoriety, the satisfaction working a "regular" job. There are others who transition quite gracefully into another line of work.
You mention Federer. I would think he's uniquely well-suited to succeed after tennis. He's bright. He's rational. He's philanthropic. Above all, he's curious.
• What time of year ISN'T good for tennis minutiae. I've often wondered the same. This poor soul has been positioned in that lifeguard chair, sitting in the blistering sun, deprived of a bathroom privileges as their bladder expands like a balloon. All to facilitate your well-compensated ball-striking. As you clock out after your shift, the least you could do is acknowledge them with some eye contact. (Anticipated player response: I've been fighting my guts out for a few hours. I'm dealing with the realization that I've won/lost. My chemicals levels are in free fall. Forgive me if etiquette isn't top of mind.)
In the last few weeks alone, we've gotten emails about players' shabby treatment of ballkids (consider this a public shaming, Victoria Azarenka?), handshakes at the net, reactions to winning and losing, the positioning of player chairs and now, the limp handshake of the chair umpire. Moral: fans are watching and making inferences about much than forehands and backhands. If I'm an agent -- or the hypothetical WTA and ATP media consultant -- I'm telling players that, for better or worse, they are creating impressions during the duration of the on-court appearance.
• Agree. Totally. Reminded me of
In fairness, I was in Austin last week and always have a good time there. If you plan on attending the Davis Cup, see you online
• For anyone interested in donating for Japan earthquake victims,
• Richard Hanson OF Charleston, W.Va.: "Regarding players who won the next major after winning their first: For the women, you and a reader noted Jennifer Capriati and Venus Williams. Prior to those two, you have Hana Mandlikova ('80 Australian and '81 French), Chris Evert ('74 French and '74 Wimbledon) and Evonne Goolagong ('71 French and '71 Wimbledon)."
• Wackiest Tennis-related press release I got this week: "Entrepreneur Dr. Jim Bahcall has come out with a solution for active Americans. A dentist by trade, Dr. Bahcall is an avid cyclist in his free time. He used to carry instant hand sanitizer or wet wipes around in order to clean off his hands and body after ridinG -- but was frustrated that his hands and body were then wet. He wanted to have a package that included both a wet, soapy towel as well as a dry towel. Nothing like this existed on the market, so he created it. Paper Shower is the world's first combination wet and dry towelette pack and is designed to provide a refreshing body wipe when on-the-go. Paper Shower is perfect for tennis fanatic who wants to freshen up between sets and stay clean on the court while away from a shower or sink."
• Nice to see Dinara Safina winning a big match. Think she owes it to her
• good to see
• Leif Wellington Haase of Berkeley, Calif.: Here's the
• Kim Clijsters,
• A tap of the racket to Larry Ellison. Note these middle week attendance figures at the BNP Paribas event:
• Viv of Dublin, Ireland: "Remember the
• In an effort to eliminate extreme poverty in Latin America, Un Techo Para Mi País (UTPMP) will host "Break Point: Let's win the match against poverty", an event that will help raise funds to help needy families throughout Latin America. The event will feature world renowned tennis stars who will gather in Miami during the Sony Ericsson Open. Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, David Ferrer, Feliciano López, Fernando Verdasco, David Nalbandian and Juan Martin Del Potro are among the players who will participate. It will be held at the Novecento Brickell on March 22 at 8:30 p.m.
• This week's Long Lost Siblings via Twitter: Bencs writes: "Are
Have a great week everyone!