We were going to address the topic of doping this week, given the incessant chatter and the disturbing tennis ties both the
But we'll postpone that a week, since we got a surprise audience with Victoria Azarenka for a quick Q&A, beginning with a question about winning the Australian Open despite the kerfuffle over her medical timeout in the semifinals against Sloane Stephens.
A: In a way, yes. In another way, I was just being me, not thinking, "What do I have to do to prove myself?" I was just being myself. ... Everything in life teaches you a lesson. It's not ironic, "What doesn't kill makes you stronger." You know the song? I always try with everything bad to take the positive out of it. At that moment it might be, "What looks positive about this?" But after a while you realize, you convince yourself it's the right thing to do. I just try to stay positive and I guess I'm pretty tough.
A: Well, I'm Orthodox. Everyone has their own religion, their own faith on certain levels. I believe in God. I believe God makes you stronger. But I also believe in being a good person, making everyone happy.
A: A lot of work. It takes a lot of work. I never think of myself as a popular person. I just think of myself as a regular person, a fan of music and movies. I saw Robert De Niro and was shaking. I don't think, "Oh, I'm also a little bit popular." I just enjoy those moments on the spotlight and seeing people react. It's a privilege and I can never take it for granted.
A: I think it was a little unfair. But I always give people the benefit of the doubt. Maybe nobody gave me that. ... I think it's my job also to show my personality.
• The organizers will respond that the Davis Cup is a global event and the U.S. -- and its Super Bowl -- is just one market. While the arena in Jacksonville was all crickets and tumbleweeds, the Davis Cup drew tens of thousands of passionate supporters elsewhere in the world. I would respond that A) the U.S. is still a key market. You overlook it at your peril. B) The format and various, unevenly spaced rounds make it hard for the biggest cities to launch credible bids, commit marketing resources and block out an entire week. C) The TV proposition can't be overlooked, either.
• Congrats. And don't listen to the trolls who complain that it was Spain's junior varsity.
• I think the ITF's intransigence and inaction in the face of decline absolves any and all players when they opt out.
In this era of globalization and technology, so many other sports are trying to create international events (see: World Baseball Classic, for starters.) Tennis already had one and, thanks to its impractical format -- and "leaders'" unwillingness to address obvious deficiencies -- it loses relevance with each passing year.
Here's what will happen: Eventually an investor/entrepreneur will realize the potential value here. He (or she) will line up sponsors and a media strategy and devise a Davis Cup cognate. One week, one site. Could be Ryder Cup -- Europe against the world. Could include women as well. Once the money smells right, the ATP will bless it with a sanction (and negotiate equity).
• Yeesh, I don't know. The obvious response? "Sorry, I was too good. If I had tanked a few sets and then come back to win in five, would that have been preferable?"
To some extent, I see your point. For all of Federer's virtues, I wouldn't put "street fighter" at the top of the list. If it's 4-4 in the fifth, I'm not sure he's my top pick. (Her previous match notwithstanding, I'll take Serena Williams, thanks, over any guy!) But a five-set record can be misleading.
• Good question. We should add that it's not just Monte Carlo. Most of the Frenchies live in Switzerland. (Hey, Gerard Depardieu even moved to Russia.) Lleyton Hewitt lives in the Bahamas. But I can't think of an American who gave up U.S. residency for tax reasons.
• Azarenka blowback continues. That was con. Here's pro:
• I don't disagree. Provided you can play hooky from work or school, a day session grounds pass is preferable to a night session.
Scheduling is always an imperfect science. And, especially in the U.S. and Australia, there is a pressure to promote homegrown talent. (Guarantee: Sloane Stephens plays a night session at the U.S. Open.) But, yes, Yanina Wickmayer and Gajdosova -- the match to which Judy refers -- is not fit for prime time.
• Thanks. And you give us
• Still here. Again, there seems to be some confusion, but just come through SI.com and we'll be here waiting for you.
• Serena Williams will defender her Family Circle Cup title in Charleston, S.C., from March 30-April 7.
• Elsie Misbourne of Washington, D.C.: "Has anyone else noted that the U.S.-Brazil Hawk-Eye threw up some confounding decisions? With HDTV and frame-by-frame replay, we couch potatoes have our own technology. In a couple of cases the players had all headed for the bench and the announcers had not treated 'desperation' challenges seriously, only to find the on-court decisions reversed and the losing participants incensed."
• Journalists, students, historians: The Tennis Hall of Fame has a
• The WTA
• Joanna of Seoul: "I've written a blog post called, 'Five things we've learned from the Lance Armstrong scandal,' which addresses the lessons that tennis fans should take away from the Armstrong scandal. I was hoping you might
• RZ of Los Angeles: "Just when it looked like Andy Murray could play in a Grand Slam (except Wimbledon) without an enormous weight on his shoulders to win it,
• Justin DePietropaolo of Chester Springs, Pa., has a Super Bowl edition of long-lost siblings. Not only do they look alike but they also throw similar tantrums: