Federer's rivalries with Djokovic, Rafa take different tone; more mail
Had a crazy week, so we're going speed round...
• I want to make clear that I reached this opinion by inferring and talking with others. Federer has never explicitly said this. But, yes, my sense is that he respects Nadal and his game and his disposition far more than he does Djokovic. Some of this is a function of his textured relationship with Nadal and their mutually beneficial rivalry. Some of this is the deference Nadal gives Federer. Some of this is style.
If you're Federer, I'd think it's much easier to swallow a loss to a sidewinding, sui generis, supernaturally intense lefty than it is a player who's more conventional. I point you to his remarks following his defeat to Djokovic at the U.S. Open. Never in a million years does Federer say this about Nadal:
• Go Gophers? I think you started a new trend, adding a note of support to your tag. The Pro Bowl is an irrelevance, a football game masquerading as a free trip to Hawaii. (Football is particularly ill-suited to showcase individual talent. And, coming as it does, after the season, players are in no mood to give more than a halfhearted effort.)
The year-end WTF is not only authentic competition, but there's something real at stake. I think the reason it gets shortchanged is not because of its positioning in the season, but because of the format. Because of the eight-man draw and the round-robin tournament, it may not feel like a credible event to some. I'd encourage you to think otherwise.
Beating the best of the best -- no easy matches, no wild cards, no favoritism in the scheduling -- and showing you still had something in the reserve tank so late in the season, is a real achievement.
• Again, the calendar is the great Sphinxian riddle of tennis. We've been trying to solve this for years. (What walks on three legs in the evening? Answer: A tennis player, because he is so damn tired.) It's not a question of patronizing. It's a question of the WTA's realizing that, as the modern game is now played, a season spanning longer than 10 months is simply unrealistic.
When (if?) ATP chief Adam Helfant's replacement is named, one of the mandates will be to address this. Good luck, pal.
• Good stat. At some level this stands to reason, yes? The older you get, the less ground you cover. So why not gravitate to doubles where your responsibilities are confined to half the court? Also, the real money is in singles. So, inasmuch as an athletic career is house money, the younger players will try their hand at the $100 poker table before moving to a lower table.
• I'm not sure we need to talk about the Hewitt allegations "in light" of anything. The
• It's an open secret that many coaches and WTA players have had romantic entanglements in addition to a coaching relationship. And, yes, I agree that there is a power dynamic that often makes this problematic. But I'm not comfortable making the leap to "abuse" unless the player is underage or, obviously, there is an absence of consent. Again, I think these relationships are inherently inadvisable. But if the player is acting on her own volition, what's the WTA to do?
• Absolutely. Which is part of what makes her decline so sad. It would be one thing if she pulled a Kournikova, traded on her looks, did the celebrity/reality TV/velvet rope thing, and lost interest in smacking around a fuzzy ball.
• Tara got snarky after Federer won Basel. He, of course, tamed a couple of top-10 players (Tomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga) the following week in Paris. We may question the relevance of the fall events, which tend to have the feel of Kansas City Royals games in late summer (just playing out the string). But I think Federer has made a real statement these past few weeks. He manages his schedule, he manages his body and now, at age 30, he's hoarding points while others are falling off.
• As long as the cream jacket stays in the wardrobe (or incinerator).
• Oh, behold my powers Denise of San Antonio! And wait till I start making predictions about your governor!
• Good question. You've pretty much named the next generation. Each one has undeniable talent. Each one has undeniable weakness, be it backhand, stature, attitude, fortitude, movement, consistency and temper -- not, you know, in any particular order. Of the names you mention, I'm probably inclined to like Raonic the best now. He, along with Tomic, has the biggest serve. He's emotionally mature. He's already shown he can win big matches.
• Hey, we aim to please. Any time we can put someone ON THE FLOOR, it's an achievement.
• All caps for CAPriati, eh? She, alas, does not respond to my emails seeking to speak and update her many fans. (Yes, this is a public shaming.) Capriati is -- gulp -- in her mid-30s right now and living in tennis' ancestral home of Florida. Obviously there have been a few bumps in the road, but if you wish her anything but the best, consult your cardiologist. She is on the Hall of Fame ballot and will be getting my vote for next year.
• While I'm not sure the Arthur Ashe afro or the Asian Michael Chang passes political correctness standards, damn,
• Want to go to Wimbledon or the U.S. and French Opens? How about a hitting lesson with your favorite player?
• MasterCard has
• We've had a few requests for my recent story on Wayman Tisdale. Should just pop up on the ol' Google,
• Sophia of London: "An interesting bit of perspective on the big three (since they aren't the top three any more...) Djokovic without Nadal or Federer -- 12 Slams. Nadal without Djokovic or Federer -- 15 Slams. Federer without Nadal or Djokovic -- 27 Slams."
• This week's long-lost siblings from Jim Bartle of Huaraz, Peru:
• No, wait: Naoko of Tokyo with long-lost siblings:
Have a great week, everyone!