Daily Bagel: How Rafael Nadal's bad knees have made him unbeatable

Tuesday August 27th, 2013


The Daily Bagel is your dose of the interesting reporting, writing and quipping from around the Internet.

• Video: Maria Sharapova and her agent, Max Eisenbud, talk about their 14-year partnership. Beware, SnarkyPova in the house.

• ESPN.com's Greg Garber on how Rafael Nadal's bad knees have made him seemingly unbeatable.

But those bad knees have had an unanticipated effect on Nadal's game this summer. They have made him virtually unbeatable. Playing with a heightened sense of urgency, demonstrating an unprecedented desire to end points earlier, he has been uber-aggressive.

• Huge kudos to the U.S. Open for streaming six courts for free. Just go to the U.S. Open site and click "Watch Live." Voila!

• Reeves Wiedeman of The New Yorker follows along as Roger Federer grabs some champagne at the pre-U.S. Open party.

Inside, Federer settled into a corner sofa next to Anna Wintour, his friend and style adviser, who wore a pink, tea-length dress. Marion Bartoli, this year’s Wimbledon champion, who wore a white dress, was dancing giddily to a remixed Red Hot Chili Peppers song. “He has to save himself for the Open,” Bartoli said, explaining why Federer wasn’t dancing along with her. Bartoli no longer had to save herself for anything: four years Federer’s junior, she had retired a week earlier. “When he feels it,” she said, upon being asked what advice she might give Federer on when to hang it up. She then took a sip of champagne and went back to dancing.

• What's it take, financially, to raise the next Federer or Serena Williams?

While there is no definitive age for wannabe-tennis pros to start out, Steve Keller, director of development at Pro Tennis Registry, a global organization for tennis professionals, says many players take up the sport in elementary school.

“We suggest for anyone wanting to get in the game to start in the neighborhood of pre-puberty,” he says. “It’s a good base to get these young players started and develop the base they will use across their game.”

The cost of private lessons vary by region, according to Keller, ranging anywhere between $40 and $100 an hour in areas like Little Rock, Ark., and New York City, respectively. While the equipment needs are minimal compared to other sports, it’s still not cheap. Shoes can cost around $100 on the high end for kids, and $35 on the low end, Keller estimates. Children’s’ rackets cost around $25, but can be hundreds of dollars by the time they are teen players.

Then comes the travel, says Jeff Hoffman, CEO of Athletic Resource, a recruiting company that works with high school athletes. Competitive tennis tends to require a lot of travel to tournaments. Fees will vary depending on region and the size of the event, but he estimates that tennis parents shell out between $2,000 and $5,000 a monthly on their kids’ sport.

USA Today's Doug Robson explores why tennis' statistical milestones fly under the radar.

Opinions vary on why the game hasn't done a better job of promoting recognizable achievements.

Coco Vandeweghe, who won her first-round match Monday against Serbia's Aleksandra Krunic 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), said it's a question of exposure.

"Baseball is on every night during the season," said Vandeweghe, whose uncle is former NBA player and coach Kiki Vandeweghe. "Same with basketball and football. ... When you read a newspaper it's only a paragraph here or there if that. How can you keep track of something when you don't see it day to day and baseball has RBIs, and god knows what else?"

Some cited fantasy leagues for team sports as another reason statistics get undersold in tennis.

Former top-ranked doubles player Liezel Huber of the USA said players themselves could do a better job if they were less insular.

"Tennis is so individual that everybody celebrates on their own," she said. "If you asked a player if they had 500 wins they wouldn't know.

"I think it's the mentality that we have right now. We're selfish. We don't think of the bigger picture in it."

• Marion Bartoli hasn't ruled out a comeback.

• Andy Murray on returning to New York for the first time since winning the U.S. Open last year.

• From SI.com's Bruce Jenkins, everything you wanted to know about the game-changing technology of Hawk-Eye.

• Tommy Haas' famous self-loathing rant that was immortalized on YouTube gives us insight into the mind of an athlete.

• Deadspin's John Koblin puts together his guide to attending the U.S. Open. Written last year, and still very much on point this year. Seriously, don't bother with Ashe tickets.

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