• Lots of questions about Nadal and his injured -- or, ahem, "injured" -- foot today. But Vijay's made me laugh. I'm not sure what we can say here. A lot of you think Nadal was faking his injury last night. His opponent, Juan Martin del Potro certainly did, having allegedly referred to Nadal as "lying" when talking to the chair umpire. From your mail and tweets, I gather Pat McEnroe was outspoken on the air today.
Michelle of Texas: "It was so refreshing to hear Patrick McEnroe call out Nadal over his supposed 'injuries'. PMac said that even though players might not admit it publicly, they're ticked off with his constant talk of something bothering him. He said lots of players have issues, but they keep it to themselves."
I think it's awfully dangerous to question an athlete's injuries. Nadal plays this violent, harsh style -- we can all see that with the naked eye. He clearly tweaked his foot late in the first set. If this were a tactic, why would Nadal call a trainer at 6-6, right before a tiebreaker? Did he recover miraculously? Sure. But we see this all the time. Adrenaline and chemicals are coursing through the body, the athlete is relieved to learn the pain is bearable and continues on. Sometimes a simple retape job makes all the difference. I just don't see why Nadal would feign -- or even exaggerate injury -- at that point. To get inside del Potro's head? Really? To stop momentum in a match that had no breaks of serves to that point? Really? To give himself a built-in excuse if he lost? Really? To psyche out Mardy Fish? Really? That's pretty cynical.
Here's what I do know, though. Especially for a player who speaks so often about fair play and sportsmanship and congeniality, Nadal makes some curious decisions. There's his chronic tardiness getting to the court. His chronic delays between points. His grunting. And his various and sundry calls to the trainer. I still say that, on balance, Nadal is, overwhelmingly, a force of good. But he may want to think about some his actions and how they're perceived in the context of fair play.
• Actually, that sounds pretty much EXACTLY like Federer and Nadal.
• Don't look a gift horse in the oral cavity. I think most of us will take four elite players over parity. Again, though -- and I realize I'm getting insufferably redundant -- consider quality. If the four players are elite because everyone else stinks and is out of shape, it's one thing. If the four elite players perform brilliantly, don't buckle under pressure and are in superb condition (as is the case) we should be more charitable.
• These are obviously rough times for American tennis. And with a few exceptions (Ryan Harrison) it's not as though the pipeline is gushing. Ideally, the U.S. system improves, young athletes gravitate to tennis and the situation gets less bleak. Short of that, there's always the passport office. (I say this only half-jokingly) Sabine Lisicki lists her residence as Bradenton. Maria Sharapova has spent more than two-thirds of her life based in the U.S. Even Alexander Dolgopolov has a base in New Jersey. If any of them want to consider a nationality change, the prospects for American tennis would improve.
• Quite possibly. It sort of stands to reason, though, doesn't it? All credit to Fish for getting to this level, especially at this point in his career. But he's never won a Masters Series title, never won a Slam, (as of today), never been to the final four of a Slam and never been in the top ten. Again, this is not to knock him. But I suspect that never before has the top American had such modest credentials. Fish, incidentally, isn't just the top American male. He is the top American -- male or female.
Can you make any sense
• In a word: no.
• Henin, Hingis, Dementieva, Pierce, Dementieva, Seles, Sabatini, Lottie Dodd, Alice Marble. I suspect a lot players under the age of 40 feel like they retired too soon.
• You like pistachio. I prefer rocky road. Tastes (and distastes) are too personal and inexact here.
• Yeah, I don't want to say it's hers to lose. That deprives the other players of too much respect. But put it this way: if Sharapova can't close the deal, she'll recall this as an exceedingly winnable Wimbledon that got away.
• That's more spin than a Nadal forehand. But I buy that to some extent. We like (prefer?) excellence and consistency and rivalries. But there is definitely some appeal to the sheer openness of every WTA draw.
• Hopefully even those with their nose in a (face)book will read this as sarcasm.
• Better Lleyton never?
• Paul Kumar of Springfield, VA: "Why talk down to 95 percent of the viewers so you can edify the other five percent?" Because the Monday morning viewing tennis fans will watch irrespective of inanities, clichés, or repetitions and the 'other five percent' will not move away from the broadcast because they will learn some interesting factoids about the players. It's what is known in common parlance as a "win/no-loss" situation :-).
• Mark Schmidt of Manila: Hi! I'm having a hard time finding the Wimbledon coverage in this side of the world, but I found it
• Matt of Toronto: Grunting is surely a part of Sharapova and Azarenka's routine
• Jim Courier on the