Giving Schiavone her due, fixing the world rankings, more mail
A quick Week Two baguette ...
• I don't recall calling her success a fluke. Like many, I suspected that Schiavone's 2010 title was a one-time phenomenon, an unrivaled highlight of a fine career. (She even intimated at this as well.) This was the WTA's answer to Andres Gomez or Albert Costa winning the French Open on the men's side. To Schiavone's total credit, she's kept it up, and, as I write this, has a real shot at a title defense. It's impressive that she's kept it up at this age. It's impressive that she's kept her motivation. It's impressive she's still as candid and wide-eyed and likeable.
In these situations, though, I often wonder: Is this experience, in some slight way, bittersweet? Does she look back and say, "Why did it take me a decade of generally mediocre results to get here? If only I had been X percent more committed/healthy/confident, who knows what more I could have achieved?" Or does the arc of her career make this late success all the more sweet?
• Consistency? Tennis? This is a sport that changes the BALLS from event to event. I rather like your idea. Though some would contend that there be no challenge limits in either case and we simply strive for maximum accuracy.
• But remember, if the Slams are not heavily weighted, the tournaments represented on the WTA Tour won't like it because it diminishes the importance of the garden-variety events. What about a simple rule for both tours: a player cannot claim the top ranking if he or she hasn't won a major in the last 12 months?
• Interesting theory but I don't buy it. First, defense DOESN'T win championships. (I can show you reams of data indicating that, especially in football and basketball, a good defense is no more important than a good offense.) What's more, especially when it's combined with potent ballstriking, defense CAN help win championships in tennis. Nadal, Federer and Djokovic are all first-team all-defense. To me, there's something undeniably artistic/compelling/exciting about watching a player prolong a point with scrambling and anticipation and speed.
If I were making a list for tennis' decline in the U.S. I would put the absence of top American at the top. But I think the scarcity of American EVENTS factors heavily, too. A generation ago the average fan would know Djokovic because odds were good he'd pass through town. Today he may only play three or four times in the U.S. in a year.
• Two of you asked this. It was unfortunate that Fognini won a grueling match yet couldn't answer the bell for his next encounter. But you simply can't allow a player who lost a main draw match to re-enter the tournament. (Otherwise John Isner shouldn't have been the designated Djokovic opponent.) Also, I don't fault Fognini.
• Kvitova reached the Wimbledon semis in 2010. She then finished the rest of the year with a sub-.500 record. I do like what I've seen lately, her disappointing finish in Paris notwithstanding. And the lefty look will always confound. Is she ready to win majors? Probably not. Is her top-10 ranking reflective of talent? I'm starting to think so.
• I wonder if it has one of these Ø characters in it? Seriously, I don't think Wozniacki's schedule is the problem. If she were breaking down on the side of the road it would be one thing, but she seems healthy and physically able. I think it's simply a question of being insufficiently aggressive. A generation ago, she'd have been a world beater. But when your opponent is six feet, 160 pounds and clubbing every ball with her Luxiloned-Babolat thurderstick, you're not winning majors blocking balls back to the middle of the court.
• Marion Bartoli and Ana Ivanovic entered the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford. Sam Querrey is playing the Farmers Insurance event in L.A.
• The ITF and the ATP announced an agreement to award singles ranking points for men at the 2012 Olympic Tennis Event in London at Wimbledon. As a result of the agreement, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will allow nations to receive up to four entries into the men's singles and two entries into the men's doubles, with a maximum number of six men per country on-site. The ATP rankings of June 11, 2012, will be used as the basis for determining the 56 direct acceptances in the 64-player men's singles draw, subject to a maximum of four players per country as well as existing eligibility requirements. Six of the remaining eight singles places will be selected by the ITF's Olympic Committee taking into consideration a player's singles computer ranking and a geographic distribution of nations entered, as well as two Tripartite Commission Invitations decided by the IOC, National Olympic Committees and the ITF. ATP rankings will also be used to determine the 24 direct entries in the 32-pair doubles draw, subject to a maximum of two pairs per country and a maximum of six men per country in total. Doubles players ranked in the Top 10 can receive direct acceptance into the event providing they have an eligible partner. The remaining eight pairs will be selected by the ITF's Olympic Committee. The women's singles event will also offer ranking points, with the same entry criteria used in the women's singles and doubles events. Entries for the 16-pair mixed doubles event will be confirmed on site.
• Ivan Lendl and Junior Golf Corporation (JGC) have joined together to launch the Ivan Lendl International Junior Tennis Academy providing full-time tennis training and academics for players looking to reach their ultimate potential or the professional ranks.
• ESPN and Tennis Channel have agreed to a new four-year, multimedia programming alliance for the Australian and French Opens. ESPN and TC will continue to air action from both Grand Slam events, but in a key change ESPN's telecast windows of the French Open will now be virtually all live, generally starting at 5 a.m. ET for five hours. In addition, extensive schedules of action will continue on all ESPN platforms, including ESPN3.com, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Mobile TV, the WatchESPNApp, ESPN Interactive TV and ESPNNetworks.com under the new deal, which takes effect with the 2012 French Open and the 2013 Australian Open.
• Jamayan Watkins of Charlotte, N.C.: "As a defender of grunters, I had to provide you with
• Check out a
• LLS goes to: Paul Treacy of Washington D.C.: "
• Okay, an encore: Arun Jayaseelan of Santa Clara, Calif.: "