Daily Bagel: French TV's Rafael Nadal spoof alleges doping
The Daily Bagel is your dose of the interesting reporting, writing and quipping from around the Internet.
• The French have always been known for their subtle humor (See? I can make jokes too), and now they're being taken to court for it. The Spanish tennis federation plans to sue French television station Canal Plus for the above "spoof" (warning: there's a Spanish profanity at the end) that is basically a 30 second doping allegation against Rafael Nadal and all Spanish athletes. "The Spanish athletes do not win by chance," says the end card (via translation).
• When it comes to American tennis, it's going to get worse before it gets better. It's time to accept that and stop the hand-wringing and quarterly Chicken Little-type panic attacks. "It's going to be tough for Americans to crack through at the very top of the Grand Slams for a while," observes Justin Gimelstob in this piece for ESPN. "It doesn't mean that they can't, but in general it's going to take a while. It's a different sport than it was 30, 20, 10 years ago. The days of America being a dominant nation; we need to recalibrate expectations. The sport's become too international."
• A lot of ink has been spilled fawning over the Australian Open men's final, now here's a different take: Is that what we really want men's tennis to look like? "When our greatest match is also the most torturous," Chris Oddo writes, "there's something wrong in my opinion. When elegance and precision is replaced by brute force, repetition and 40-second rests between points, we are headed in the wrong direction." I know Chris, so I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he's making the issue binary and speaking in extremes for effect. That said, let me add this counter argument: This match captured the attention of sports fans (not just tennis fans, but sports fans) because of the sheer athleticism on display. For the first time in what feels like a long time, I was hearing people talk about what ridiculous athletes these two guys were. It felt nice to set aside, even if just for a day, the notion of tennis being an "artistic" sport for country club folk.
• Kamakshi Tandon takes a closer look at what effect a two-year ranking system would have on the current ATP rankings. I don't think the optics would be good. When the ranking lags behind a player's performance, that leaves a lot of explaining to do. If you think Caroline Wozniacki had it tough, could you imagine Nadal being ranked No. 1 despite going 0-7 against Djokovic in finals and losing the last three Grand Slam finals to him? The rankings are a touchstone for casual fans. Let's not confuse them.
• We've heard all the complaining about why parity and unpredictability are hurting the WTA. Here's a fan's take on why that same exact parity and unpredictability is what makes her enjoy women's tennis. "I don’t think that dominance is the only way to measure success," writes Lindsay Gibbs. "I don’t think that unpredictability is always a sign of weakness. If you disagree with the prior statements then that’s fine, but I do think that these female athletes deserve heaps more respect than they get on a regular basis."