Who's No. 1? Rancor over rankings, plus thoughts on sportsmanship
My thoughts on the men's semifinals are
• Certainly there have been players ranked No. 1 who have done so without winning Slams. But I think it's perceived differently when those players have won Slams earlier in their careers.
• Plagiaries? How about the more benign "samplings"? Surely there were Boom-Booms before Becker and Buds before Collins and didn't a Harrison Ford character predate Indy deVroome?
• Devil's advocacy: If the NFL told us -- openly but also via the point weighting and distribution -- that some games were more significant than others; and the Patriots seldom won those games; would there not be discussion about their seeding and validity of their record?
• For the record, the Bryans won. I love how the doubles guys play best-of-three, no-ad with a supertiebreak during the year. Suddenly they come here and play best-of-five with no fifth set tiebreak.
• And she switched to being a lefty. Bob, of course, is cleverly likening Mary Pierce to Petra Kvitova. Your note made me laugh on two counts. 1. By getting to the finals, Kvitova has already surpassed Pierce's best showing here. 2. Pierce is still technically not yet retired. I wonder if she doesn't survey the landscape, looking at Kimiko Date Krumm, and think hmmmm.
• Remember, the rankings are rolling over the course of a year. If Nadal defends his title, he defends his points but doesn't add to the haul. If Djokovic barely survived the middle weekend in 2010 and he gets to the final this year, he's made a big jump.
• How about this: when a player has 13 double faults and, yet, yields only seven games, it says a lot about her other assets and her abilities to overcome her yips.
Karen of Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands: In a recent Mailbag, a reader asked the question about handshakes at the net. The Williams sisters and in particular Venus Williams has the best handshake at the net ever. Win, lose or draw, no matter the opponent and no matter the score, she greets every single opponent with a smile at the net, looks directly at them and says a few words whether in commisseration or congratulations. Most of her fans wish she would not be so gracious at the net especially after losing to some no-name player, but graciousness at the net is Venus Williams
• Nick Einhorn of Brooklyn, New York: One day after Federer lost a five-setter with only 11 unforced errors, Azarenka lost a 3-setter with 7 unforced errors -- an almost identical ratio of just over two errors per set.
Anna of Israel: Regarding the post-match handshake -- you see women being friendly with each other too. Azarenka and Kvitova kissed each other on the cheek at the end of their semifinal match; Lisicki and Bartoli were very warm at the end of their match, despite the amount of in-your-face-"Come on!"-ing during the match itself. It just depends a lot on the personal relationship between the girls, I guess.
Fiona of Houston, Texas: Regarding camaraderie and handshakes, three theories: 1. Average age of men's quarterfinalist is 26.5, women, 22.4. The men are older, so they've been playing together longer, AND are generally more mature. 2. I know that when I'm around my parents, I revert to my teenage obnoxiousness. Maybe the WTA players are suffering the same fate with all those parent coaches. 3. Leading by example: Fed and Nadal have been excellent ambassadors for sportsmanship and camaraderie. Serena, Maria, (and much as it pains me to say it) Henin were not. Am I the only one who noticed a marked improvement in camaraderie as Clisters, Wozniaki, and Schiavone were the face of the WTA for the past year?
Peter of Stockholm: Hey Jon, I wanted to comment on your recent [interest in] Dutch talent Indy de Vroome (I'm Dutch but living in Sweden). She's making a bit of a name for herself and you seem to like her odds as a racing car driver if her tennis career doesn't work out. I just want to point out that her last name is pronounced "vro-me," so vro like in pro and me with a soft e. So not like the sound a racing car makes. BTW: it means the pious one.
Tom M of Winston-Salem, No. Carolina: Proof that
Rick Smith of Toronto: Interesting read about
• Helen of Philadelphia: Not-so-long-lost siblings: