Wednesday, April 30, 2008

i went on vacation and all i got was this lousy roundup

I always tell myself that vacation is a perfect time to blog -- no work, no deadlines. Yet, it never happens. And, of course, now that I'm back, I'm trying to find the time to blog. Sad. Anyway, some things that happened while I was gone:

1. Wimbledon decides it still doesn't need to play on the middle Sunday. Oh, those Brits and their traditions. Bless 'em. Even if it means players have to cram in 4 matches in as many days (or fewer) just because officials choose to play during monsoon season.
2. Roger Federer wins one ... and loses one: Jose Higueras, you are fired! Fed snagged the Estoril Open when Nikolay Davydenko withdrew during the final. (And naturally, was playing in next week's tournament.) It was his first win this season. And then? And then next week at the Monte Carlo tournament, he's up in the second set, 4-0 -- and loses the set and match! OK, OK, the sky's still not falling. He'll be fine. I think.
3. Jelena Dokic returns, if that's what you want to call it: True story: So a couple years ago, I was covering a local ITF tournament (its claim to fame: Maria Sharapova played it when she was 15) for my newspaper, and I approached the PR person (who really had no clue what she was doing, as you'll soon see) about getting an interview with Lilia Osterloh, who had just won a match. This PR chick is running around like a chicken with its head cut off, running through the club restaurant, workout room and lounge area trying to find Osterloh. And, I, like an idiot, am following. So her last stop is the locker room. We storm in, and there is this huge woman taking off her pants just as we're entering. I realized quickly that I was looking at Greta Arn's ass. And what did I learn from that experience? Knock before entering.
There was really no point to that story other than that Arn beat Dokic in Dokic's first appearance on the WTA tour in two years. In case you had been wondering (and who hasn't?) she's playing for only the second time in two years because of injuries. Boy, whatever did happen to she and Alexandra Stevenson?
4. U.S. Fed Cup team does a little with not a lot: So, every tie, regardless of how stupid the format is, Andy Roddick, James Blake and the Bryan Brothers show up to play Davis Cup. They seem somewhat invested in Davis Cup. Zina Garrison, on the other hand, tends to come up empty. Venus and Serena play when they want to, and it's just pathetic that they have to count on Lindsay Davenport at all. I think Davenport's great, but where is the development of the young talent for the U.S.? Even the men are starting to make some noise. (One-dimensional noise -- ahem, Isner --but noise regardless.) Certainly not trying to diss Vania King and Ahsha Rolle either (I did not know Liezel Huber was an American), but I have to ask: Where does all the USTA money go? Player development? Um, no. And another question, Coach Garrison: The tie is decided, and your team loses 3-0. Why not get your younger players some experience? Alison Riske, Vandeweghe and Madison Brengle may look really excited over there just cheering, but what does it hurt to give one of them a chance on a big stage? I guess to cap off her coaching career, Garrison can deal with a 3-2 loss better than a 5-0 loss. Although, finishing her coaching career by inspiring and motivating her young players would have been nice, too.

Monday, April 14, 2008

See you in September ... The Davis Cup report

Usually, I wait about two weeks to write the Davis Cup report in protest of the way they insist on running this event. But you bring me out of the woodwork, Richard.
That's Richard Gasquet, the (...ahem...) man who let his team down this weekend for Davis Cup. Quick recap: Jo-Jo Tsonga begs off with a bad knee, a legitimately bad knee. Gasquet, who's the number 1 French player has blisters. OK, I know blisters can get bad, and you would think that they would be some honkin' blisters to keep the man down. And it did, sort of. Gasquet sat himself for Friday and Saturday. The French team of Michael Llodra and Arnaud Clement manage a doubles win, meaning the U.S. had a 2-1 lead going into Sunday. Essentially, the French need a win. So their coach, Guy Forget, goes to his star player and fairly begs him (I'd bet) to suit up. Here's the part that makes me smile in disbelief. Gasquet response appeared to be "OK, OK, I'll play, but only in the last match of the day, when it might not matter."
Um, WHAT???!!? Richie -- news flash. You're either hurt or you're not. If you're hurt, sit your ass down. If you're not, then play, and play when your team needs you. This guy has beaten Andy Roddick before and knows damned well that he's the best shot for his country, blisters or no. If you think you can play the fifth match, why can't you play the fourth? What, he's miraculously better three hours later? Your team needs to win the fourth match! Gasquet must have quite a pair to show his face on that court after his team had already lost the tie. Of course, one could make the argument that he's missing a pair not to take the court when it counted.
Richard Gasquet, you are the first player to earn the TWA Wackest Player of the Week award. It's going to take some doing to unseat you.
So the U.S. advances to face Rafa Nadal and Spain. In September. They could play the whole tournament in a two-week span, but the ITF, in its wisdom, thinks it's better to let the tension build. In a strange coincidence, that's also enough time for people to forget about Davis Cup altogether. Huh.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Yesterday, Las Vegas. Tomorrow, Dubai? Again?

From the wires:

LOS ANGELES —Tennis Channel is selling the rights to its Las Vegas tournament to the ATP, which could take the event out of the city.
“It’s time for us to focus more of our energy on … (bringing) more tennis to television and the Internet than ever before,” Tennis Channel chairman Ken Solomon said in a statement Thursday.
The network bought the tournament from IMG in 2005, when it was played in Scottsdale, Ariz., and renamed it the Tennis Channel Open that year. The tournament was moved to Las Vegas in 2006.
“The ATP is currently in the process of determining the future of the Las Vegas event,” Tennis Channel’s statement said.

What will the Tennis Channel do with all this newfound cash? Oh, I guess they could:
1. Hire a video editor. Maybe two. Shockingly, people are not all that interested in watching injury timeouts every time a match airs.
2. Start Racquetball Channel. I know, I know: But what would they air on the Tennis Channel? Tennis, maybe?
3. On-air talent adjustments. In: John McEnroe (even part-time) and Andre Agassi. Out: Chanda Rubin, Justin Gimelstob, Corina Morariu. Some might call that being short-staffed. I call it the perfect example of silence being golden.
4. Bring two of the most annoying people on television together for a reality show: "Big Brother with Murphy Jensen and Billy Mays." Don't they both always seem a little too happy? Let's see how they like being exposed to canned enthusiasm for a few weeks.
5. Start offering instruction programs. I'm not talking about that guy and his 12-year-old kid. I don't know about any of you, but I could use some tips every now and again. I know! It could replace "Destination Tennis" which is just a great show -- if you've got a few grand to spend on tennis and a massage. That's a sweet gig, by the way. I wish I could convince my bosses that my job should be going on vacation to 5-star locations.
6. Get better filler material between shows. First of all, they wouldn't have these awkward gaps if they'd hire the video editor. Second of all, that Center Court show is not that interesting, not even in snippets. Every time they use those clips, I have to wonder what kind of crack Gigi Fernandez is on. Yeah, the one who thinks tennis could be improved by raising the net. I'm just shaking my head right now in severe disapproval. "Raise the net." Sigh.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


From the wires:
AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. — Six-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams will be sidelined indefinitely, though she did not say why she will be out of action.
“I’ve just been having some issues that I need to resolve, so I’m working on that at the moment and I’m hoping to be back playing as soon as possible,” Williams said Tuesday at the Bausch & Lomb Championships. “I’m not going to get any further into it, but of course I love the sport.”
Williams said last week she was dealing with a medical issue when she announced her withdrawal from the Bausch & Lomb tournament. She played last week in the Sony Ericsson Open, losing to Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarterfinals.
Williams will not play for the United States in the Fed Cup semifinal against Russia on April 26-27, but did not rule out any other tournaments and said she still wants to play in the French Open beginning in late May.
“Of course I want to be there (in France),” Williams said. “I don’t want to be at home watching on TV. Watching this week will be enough on TV, so hopefully not too many more weeks.”

This can't be just an injury, right? If it's the wrist, you say it's the wrist. Right?
Man trouble? Boy, if I could take time off work for man trouble, I'd be ... retired. Venus?
There is the "mystery ailment" from last year. Assuming this ailment isn't of the nine-month variety, you've gotta think this is somewhat serious.
We hope Venus gets better, of course. However, it makes me chuckle to realize that being out indefinitely, but loosely for about a month, means she's missing only two tournaments.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Fed Express -- it's taking the scenic route

Yeah, it's going to be a bad year for Roger Federer. Maybe only one or two Grand Slam titles this year.
Andy Roddick should hope for such a sucky year.
Yes, Roddick finally got the monkey off the back, and beat Federer yesterday in Florida. And Roddick has had a nice run of late. He's already beaten Nadal and Djokovic this season, too, and he'll probably winn the Sony Ericsson. But Roddick's been here before. He's beaten the good players during the season, only to flame out in majors. As Roddick's most recent hanger-on, Jimmy Connors, must have told him, "It's the majors that count, dawg."
So, has Roddick turned a corner? Yes, if putting a few more mph in your serve is turning a corner. Come on. I already can't stand watching Roddick play. To watch him ace solid tennis players, and beat them on brute strength is just not fair. And boring. Hey, while we're at it, why don't Roddick, Ivo Karlovic, Sam Querrey and Kevin Anderson just have a serving contest for world number 1?
OK, a bit of a rant, I admit. The real question here, I guess, is Federer, because I don't think Roddick's consistent enough to be a serious consideration for top 3 by the end of the season. He looked a bit slow last night, and maybe it's the mono. Maybe he's bored. Maybe he's not quite in tip-top shape yet. Really, he and Nadal are both looking a bit rusty to start the year. But I don't see this as a countdown to the end of Federer's career. Players are becoming more versatile and less intimidated by the top two in the world these days. No more 3-0 mental advantage to start the match. I think, instead, that this is going to be the beginning of an unbelievably competitive men's tennis season. Damn. All we need now are rabid fans who'd care.
Now, I know I get a lot of "Don't Hate on Roddick" comments. So you guys (and anyone else who cares to) tell me: Has Roddick reached another level? If so, how?