A quick mailbag while pondering a day of upsets...
• I was talking to a former player -- only recently retired -- who thought
A) It's not uncommon for players to hit their opponent, especially on mid-court balls. "Part of the game. I've had practice partners hit me harder than that."
B) Berdych won the match. It would have been shabby enough, had he lost and dissed his opponent. But winning without class is worse than losing without class.
C) Almagro isn't some kid breaking rank. He's a veteran who's earned some respect. "You just don't do that."
D) This isn't a backcourt match in Barnyardistan. It's a fourth-rounder in a Grand Slam, played in a big arena. If you have a beef, confront the guy in the locker room. Don't show him up in front of 10,000 fans.
Sadly for Berdych, his
Say this: it adds a bit of spice to his next round match against Rafael Nadal.
• This was obviously submitted before
• Bonus points for busting out the Greek letter. Very nice. I would put Gael Monfils on my alpha list, too. But, yes, Kuznetsova is like the girl with the curl. When she's good, she's very, very good. And when she's bad, she's horrid.
• What's up with all the Pat McEnroe hating? Don't visit the sins of one brother on the other brother. Inasmuch as ESPN ripped Berdych, I say good.
While we're here, can we debunk the myth that the tennis establishment gave McEnroe a free pass? He was fined. He was condemned. He was booted from this event. He cost himself millions in endorsements because of his outbursts. I credit McEnroe with rehabilitating his image. But the notion that everyone turned a blind eye to his antics -- while whacking around today's tantrum throwers -- is revisionist history.
• We stop at nothing to praise Olivier Rochus -- former doubles partner of Roger Federer in the juniors -- who is 5-foot-6 on a good day and has been holding his own for more than a decade now. I wrote
• Thanks. With all due respect to Nadal, it's a lousy idea for a lot of reasons -- not least the chilling effect it has on rising stars. You know who would benefit from a two-year ranking? Federer. Yet he realizes that it's impractical and unfair.
The big issues for the players ought to be A) the physical breakdown factor/length of the season and B) the relatively paltry pay of the Slams. Everything else is an eye-off-the-ball distraction.
Five random observations from today:
• From Sara Errani's bio: "Mother, Fulvia, is a pharmacist; father, Giorgio, sells fruit and vegetables." Don't you hate those pampered, elitist tennis players?
• Mikhail Kukushin lists his coach as ... his wife. Surely that's a first.
• Had a chance to sit down with Petra Kvitova today. She is unrecognizable from the figure at Wimbledon who appeared rather overwhelmed by attention.
• Kei Nishikori is an ascending talent with a drop-dead-gorgeous backhand. But he needs to work on his timing. Next time he knocks off a contender, he shouldn't coordinate it with a Serena upset loss.
• Best out-of-office email response I've seen in a while: "Thanks for the message. I am currently in Australia. I am checking email but it can be a little sporadic at times due to the fact that koalas and emus eat wireless internet signals. Please be patient with me."
• Today's random encounter:
• Diane of Portland, Ore.: "For the person who asked about watching the Australian Open without ESPN. If you do not have cable you can watch on your computer on ESPN3."
• Debbie of Ottawa: "For those readers in the U.S. who have been unable to get TV coverage of the Australian Open,
• Jim, Wilmette, Ill., With all due respect, Paulette Moreno was not the best player ever to emerge from Hong Kong. It was Patricia Hy-Boulais. She cracked the top 30, and got to the 4th round or better at the French, Wimbledon, and the US Open. Even more impressively, she once pasted me in the juniors in a tournament in Hong Kong. A really tough blow only slightly softened by all of Patricia's achievements after using me as a launching pad!