1. You have got to be kidding me with this Maria Sharapova offensive. I mean, what. WHAT. I have never seen a person take a drug ban and demonstrably deserving of this ban, and yet be so defensive about criticism. I'm talking about Sharapova's agent coming out and insulting the careers of Caroline Wozniacki and Agz Radwanska because they had the nerve to suggest that wild cards should not be reserved for drug ban recipients. WHICH IS A FAIR POINT, by the way. I didn't mean to shout. But between Sharapova saying stupid stuff like this:
... and Max Eisenbud following up with petty nonsense like this:
... and then when you consider that the original ITF report on the ban had suspicious passages such as this:
you wonder what the strategy is here. It's already pretty clear that not everyone on tour is not that stoked about her coming back and ... then you go scorched earth? I sure hope Sharapova's game is going to back up all of this talk. Her comeback is this week at Stuttgart and her first round match is against Roberta Vinci.
(Quick aside regarding Eisenbud's comment about paragraphs 100 and 101, which are:
Anyway, I do believe Sharapova's return is good for women's tennis in terms of visibility, but I really wish she hadn't jumped the line this way by taking a wild card in a tournament that's started before her ban is completed. It's going to rightfully leave a bad taste in the mouths of a lot of fans.
2. While I was at the U.S. Fed Cup over the weekend, I noted some comments about Rafael Nadal, David Goffin and poor sportsmanship accusations about my man Rafa. I have investigated these charges, which are based on this point:
Obviously, umpire Cedric Mourier made a really bad mistake. It's these types of mistakes that make you think it might actually be time to bring the Shot Spot to clay courts, too, because now we can see that a mark can lie. But it's kind of hard to put this one on Nadal's shoulders. Sure, he looked like he was OK with the 'out' call, but is it on Nadal, from the other side of the court, to reverse a call? If the umpire has come down to inspect a mark, you'd think he knows how to do his job. I know there have been times I've hit a shot and thought it was long, only for my opponents to say it was right on the line. It happens. With the type of spin Nadal hits, it probably happens to him more than most. It would be one thing if Nadal was at the net and could see the shot a bit better. Otherwise, let's leave this one square at the feet of Mourier. Which, by the way, was exactly what Goffin did.
3. Ilie Nastase is a mentally depraved old man and even before this weekend's Fed Cup tie, this should have been noted and handled before. He warmed up on his weekend path of suckitude by speculating on the color Serena Williams' baby might have. (I wish I could see the way this question was posed to him, because I would almost bet the questioner knew he'd say something crazy.)
I don't want to waste too much more time on him. But let's just leave it here: He's very bad for tennis. Well, OK. Let me allow Great Britain coach Anne Keothavong to respond to Nastase's weak attempt at an apology by giving flowers to the entire team (God, did really have to go the full 1960s-stereotypical route?):