1. Without further ado, it's time to anoint the first Tennis With Attitude Player of the Week Award. This player shows a desire to win above all things, including tact and regard to the rules, as well as the ability to flash the 'diva' card whenever necessary. Introducing Maria Sharapova. In her semifinal against Frenchwoman Tatiana Golovin, Sharapova watched a 5-1 lead in the second set dwindle, then disappear. When Golovin stepped to the line to serve at 4-5, Sharapova obviously decided to ice the girl, and asked the ump for a bathroom break. The umpire at first that she'd have to wait until after her opponent's serve (Hold it? Hold it!? Do you know who I am?) but relented. Then, in the third set, Golovin rolled her ankle badly, and, as a trainer worked to help her, Sharapova looked not the least bit interested, shadow-stroking on the other side of the net, as though she were working on her modeling moves. Wow. That's tennis with attitude, playas.
2. In the quarterfinals, Sharapova faced a much-improved Anastasia Myskina. Not talking about the game. It wasn't long ago when Myskina was sporting the boyish hair cut and not much else. In Miami, she took the court with a new, longer hairdo and in full makeup, including lip gloss. The ESPN commentators pointed out that she's been spending a lot of time with Anna Kournikova. Huh. You don't say. You know, someone who could use Kournikova's 'friendship' is new NASDAQ-100 champ Svetlana Kuznetsova.
3. "Maybe you're saying he's going through a bad patch, but everybody does. I'm sure he will win titles again." That's David Ferrer, who edged Andy Roddick in the quarterfinals in Miami. You know who the winner of this match got to play? The winner between James Blake and Roger Federer. Ferrer is a tough player, and played solid tennis to beat Roddick, but maybe, just maybe, the idea of meeting the Fed Express was playing with Andy's backhand more than Ferrer was?
4. Clijsters. Henin-Hardenne. Nadal. Hewitt. Maybe a few of the French Open finalists this year, but they all bailed before the third round at the NASDAQ. Kim Clijsters proved that Jill Craybas didn't just get lucky at Wimbledon with her win over Serena Williams, by losing a tough one, 7-5 in the third. The ancient Carlos Moya scored over his protege Rafael Nadal in a really lopsided contest, 2-6, 6-1, 6-1 . Lleyton Hewitt lost to a resurgent (?) Tim Henman. Justine Henin-Hardenne? Broke a fingernail.
5. On the sidelines for the NASDAQ: Venus Williams, who finally slipped out of the top ten by virtue of Kuznetsova's run. She's pleading a sore elbow. We're pleading for her to make up her mind already. Andre Agassi also pulled out of this event with a sore back. Will a lengthy break increase his chances at Wimbledon? Yes. If this were a Hollywood movie.
6. Ever heard of Jamea Jackson? OK, yeah, the black lefty. Also, the first player to use Hawkeye, tennis' new instant replay system. She lost it. A lot of pros lost their challenges this week. Turns out the linesmen are mostly right. Strange that a stationary person whose only job is to stare at a line (that's it!) could be more accurate than a person swinging a racquet and running like a madman most of the time, sometimes on the other side of the court from the ball in question.
Besides that, the new system is pretty seamless. The review takes about 15-20 seconds. Thus, two challenges a set seems a bit skimpy. If it doesn't take that long, why not give players about four or five a set? Because players will take advantage! you shout. Not if it takes them out of their own game. Not if they're always wrong.
The point of this challenge system is to prevent players from getting screwed by bad calls. If that's really the goal, a two-challenge limit per set isn't going to do it. Do officials really think a ball can get close to a line only two times a set? And if you're wrong twice, you're SOL for the rest of the set? It may make a player choose his spots a bit more carefully. He may also lose those well-considered challenges, and end up in the same position he was in when there was no challenge system: screwed. Why can't match umpires ask for a review, yet they can still overrule a linesman?
Bottom line: Either let the linesmen do their jobs or increase the number of challenges a set. This change to the game is a good one, but just a baby step.