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Tech1
Jul 7th, 2008, 02:52 PM
Fifty Parting Shots from Wimbledon
WIMBLEDON -- Cleaning out the Wimbledon notebook while still in awe of that final.

Four weeks after winning the French Open, Rafael Nadal is the King of Wimbledon, the first player to pull off the summer double since Bjorn Borg and the first player to beat Roger Federer at the All-England Club since 2002. If your heartbeat has returned to normal after that final, you're in better shape than we are. And if Nadal can improve on hard courts as radically as he improved on grass, this could get really scary.

All hail women's winner Venus Williams, who has now taken the title five times. Discuss: any case to be made that her career eclipses Serena's?

Serena Williams may have lost the women's final. But consider this: her record on the year is 31-4. And, in a weird way, it WAS good to see that her sour disposition in defeat extends to intra-family matches as well.

Roger Federer is obviously at a bit of a crossroads, having failed to win a major this year, losing at Wimbledon for the first time since 2002 and, almost surely, finally abdicating his top ranking. Know what? A lot of players ranked No. 2 still win majors (especially when you're rival has never even reached hardcourt Slam final.) Has Federer fallen a level this year? Unquestionably. Has he won his last Slam? Hardly.

Nice to see Marat Safin break through. We all know about his frailties and mercurial nature. But does anyone doubt that when he's on, he's a top-five player? (And where was Dinara for that semifinal match?)

The Chinese equivalent of props to Zheng Jie both for run semifinal run and her decision to donate much of her winning the Sichuan earthquake relief effort. So long as that backhand doesn't desert her, look for her in the second weeks of more Grand Slams.

Discuss: has Elena Dementieva leap-frogged Jelena Jankovic as the best WTA Player never to have won a Slam?

If you were going to pick one player to score the most dramatic victory of the entire event, you could do worse than Andy Murray. His comeback defeat of Richard Gasquet was watched by more than 10 million people in Britain alone. Consider that ESPN's solid rating of .5 represents barely 500,000 homes.

Hats off to Germany's Rainer Schuettler, reaching the semifinals and halving his ranking in the process.

Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic (who broke his left hand in the semis!) won the men's the doubles, beating Jonas Bjorkman and Kevin Ulyett in the final. For Nestor this completes a career Slam.

The Williams sisters won their third Wimbledon title together, beating Lisa Raymond and Sam Stosur.

Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria won the junior boys title. Fourteen year-old Laura Robson, who lives within walking distance of the club, won the junior girls title. Think she might be dealing with any expectations these next few years?

"Hello! My name is Justine Henin. Some of you might remember me from such hits as The Little Ingenue that Could, Damn the Torpedoes: the French Open story, 2005-07. I made a decision to retire from tennis a few weeks back! See that bruise on my backside? It's from where I've been kicking myself for having passed up a chance to have won my first Wimbledon!"

Theory: there are two types of players: those who need time to adjust to grass and cool off after Roland Garros (think, Ana Ivanovic) and those who thrive on the back-to-back, either regrouping quickly from defeat (Serena) or to taking their momentum and confidence across the Channel (Nadal).

Given recent events, Andy Roddick's decision to bypass Beijing and devote his entire summer to U.S. Open preparation looks increasingly sound.

What do Vaidisova, Safin, Gasquet, Nadia Petrova, Jie, Schuettler and Arnaud Clement have in common? Their games were all swirling in the commode when they arrived at Wimbledon. All reach the second week and must surely leave with swollen confidence. (Win and tonic?) Can't recall such radically changing fortunes at another event.

Federer wins his third round match over Marc Gicquel, 6-3, 6-3, 6-1. The headline in the Daily Mail: "Federer Express Hits the Buffers!"

Of the eight women's quarterfinalists, two apiece came from the U.S., Asia, Eastern Europe and Russia. It's globalization: the game the whole world can play!

Quick story: I arrive at the club on open Middle Sunday, to walk around the empty grounds for an hour, meet a friend, and use the WiFi. I stroll by the practice courts and pass Jelena Jankovic and her mother. J.J. is grimacing in pain. She is mummified in tape. Mom looks concerned. At one point J.J. grabs a railing for support and adjusts this blue bandage on her knee. I notice that it's about 2:20 p.m. and assume she's early bailed on a practice session that began at 2:00 p.m. Had one been so inclined -- and I assure you I was not -- they could very easily have profited from this inside information. Jankovic, though favored to win, barely put up a fight in her next match, no surprise to anyone who'd seen so gimpy the day before. Points: A) Before, absent concrete evidence, we accused people of fixing matches, we should consider this more plausible situation. Person A witnesses something -- eg, Jankovic exhibiting less mobility than Grandpa Simpson -- and either places a bet or calls his buddy to share this tip. Doesn't make it right, but least the purity of competition isn't being undermined. B) You are a fool to bet on tennis. Someone always has superior information.

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If Tomas Berdych's coach were in the NBA, how long ago would he have been out of a job?

Remember Marat Safin, bon vivant? One morning last week, he was spotted outside his Wimbledon rental house ... watering the garden.

Not only was Maria Sharapova knocked out of the tournament in round two. Allegedly when practicing her coach Michael Joyce, Sharapova hit a ball so hard it broke the middle finger of Joyce's right hand.

You thought Ana Ivanovic had a lousy tournament? A hapless employee tried to take a bathroom break and inadvertently walked into a self-locking closet.

Sharapova-slayer Alla Kudryavtseva is testament to the radically improved depth on the WTA. She's also testament to what happens when athletes demonstrate personality and candor, before being bleached of color by agents and handlers. This was my favorite exchange:

Q: Does it speak about the depth in the game that this can happen? People say the women's game is predictable. It hasn't been predictable for the last two days.

Kudryavtseva: It's guys. They always say the women's game is predictable. They always say you women can't serve, you don't go to the net, you can't slice. No, we can do it all. We're strong. Don't listen to them!

Read through the transcripts of, say, Nicole Vaidisova  press room cohort Matt Cronin has nicknamed her, I Robot  if you want to see the opposite.

She couldn't match the big upset of Jie Zheng or Alla K., but check out another sub-50 player Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez. A Spanish lefty, MJMS took out Sania Mirza, 9-7 in the third set and played well against Venus in round three.

John Mayer was seated in James Blake's cheering section during his soft loss to Schuettler. At one point, Mayer jokingly urged Thomas Blake to cheer harder for his brother. When Thomas responded with a confused look, Mayer elaborated. "Think of a memory the two of you shared and yell it at the top of your lungs!" He was kidding. After the match, Mayer slung a messenger bag over his shoulder and walked off the grounds unaccosted, if not totally, unrecognized. Speaking of Blake, he'll be in New York this week to promote the Thomas Blake Sr. Memorial Research Fund. For more info click here (http://www.mskcc.org/mskcc/html/85392.cfm).

Not to make too much of the weak exchange rate and comical expenses of London -- take Manhattan prices of everything from gas to chicken tikka and double it; take Minneapolis prices and multiply by four. But a single piece of fruit in the players cafeteria cost more than $3.

No small feat for a guy stands nearly seven feet tall, Ivo Karlovic managed to disappear.

Novak Djokovic lost in the second round, of course, to Safin. One wonders if he also won't soon lose his endorsement contract as well. Dissatisfied with the way his adidas shoes played on grass, Djoko played his matches his Nikes, having first painted over the swooshes and lettering. After this bait-and-switch was made public, Djoko issued a release that read in part: "adidas tennis has actively sought my feedback on new products and technologies and I am excited to work on a new products for the 2009 season."

We'll say it again: if you lament the death of serve-and-volley tennis, WATCH DOUBLES!

We lament the death of the one-handed backhand. But Gianni Clerici the Italian journalist/writer/man of mystery did something about it. He wrote a letter to World Wildlife Foundation (seriously) alerting them that the species is dying. He claims 47 men in the main draw still use a one-hander, but only seven women. He eagerly awaits a response.

Think Lleyton Hewitt likes putting his life in the public domain?

Q: How does it feel becoming a dad for the second time?

LH: Yeah, good.

Q: Is the baby due in January?

LH: I'm not sure.

Never say never, but it's hard to imagine Hewitt playing much longer. He gamely reached the fourth round playing despite a hip injury that will likely require surgery -- a procedure that's been the death knell for the careers of many players recently.

From the marquee outside the Emmanuel Church in Wimbledon Village: "Jesus served better than Andy and attracted more people than Maria."

Most Bizarre Question Award goes to the journalist who asked Bethanie Mattek: "And the places that you got spanked the most for being a naughty girl and wearing something awful?"

Three sets of sisters made the round of 64: the Williamses, the Radwanksi and the Bondarenkae.

Many of you asked about Agnieszka Radwanska. How does she win? Her serve is so-so. She doesn't hit with power. She doesn't attack. Want to know the secret? Lean in close. There. Ready? She ... hits the ball so that it lands inside the lines of the court. Always.

Not that long ago Alicia Molik of Australia was tipped as a Wimbledon contender. This year, she lost in the first round. Of qualifying. Sadly, one has to believe a retirement announcement is forthcoming. Thankfully, another Aussie, Casey Dellacqua, now inherits the mantle of Most Level-Headed Player.

Having withdrawn before her second rounder with a dodgy knee, Lindsay Davenport might retire, having won her final match at Wimbledon. How many other players can say that?

Mark Knowles has one of my favorite mid-match lines. As recounted by David Foster Wallace, Knowles was once playing a match in Montreal and fans behind the court were being noisy. Knowles screams (paraphrased a bit): "No problem! It's OK! It's not like we're trying play a professional tennis match here, or anything!" At Wimbledon, Knowles' former partner, Daniel Nestor, got off a doozy of his own. Called for a footfault, Nestor turned and said, "Great call! Way to be a part of the action!"

Anyone else notice that the first weather-delayed match featured RAINer Schuettler against Arnaud (in)Clement?

Reader Stewpop is responsible for this gem: "Does Henman's announcing contract with the BBC require him to exit by the semis? We know how the Brits love tradition."

Some curious selections seep out of the Olympic selections. Once again, Lisa Raymond gets the business end from the USTA. They owe her a lifetime private suite at the Open when she retires.

Tons of your mail pertained to the television coverage, particularly about the tape-delayed coverage. Sadly I'm not sure what there is to say about this. Wimbledon isn't turning down NBC's money. And NBC isn't pre-empting The Today Show for tennis. Speaking of NBC, look forward to a New York Times Magazine profile on the ubiquitous John McEnroe to run before the U.S. Open.

Still love that the British call Jay-Z, Jay-zed.

I was absolutely bombarded with e-mail pertaining to L'Affaire Gimelstob. If you check out the SI.com tennis page (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/tennis/specials/wimbledon/2008/) you can see that my bosses have addressed the situation.

Lest you think one player has a monopoly on regrettable remarks, well, check out this analogy (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/main.jhtml?xml=/sport/tennis/wimb08/nosplit/msturs.xml) Dmitry Tursunov provided to Mark Hodgkinson of the Telegraph:

Presumably his World TeamTennis suspension if forthcoming.

Oracene Williams, coach of the year.

Let's end on a light note (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRLjKE1Gq3s):

HAVE A GOOD WEEK, EVERYONE!

Shepster
Jul 7th, 2008, 03:02 PM
Discuss: has Elena Dementieva leap-frogged Jelena Jankovic as the best WTA Player never to have won a Slam?
:spit: Yes, because prior to this week I always thought JJ was above Elena in those stakes... :lol:

vwfan
Jul 7th, 2008, 03:14 PM
All hail women's winner Venus Williams, who has now taken the title five times. Discuss: any case to be made that her career eclipses Serena's?No case can be made, YET.:devil:

one more Wimbledon and a win at either Australian or French and then we can talk.

vwfan
Jul 7th, 2008, 03:17 PM
"Hello! My name is Justine Henin. Some of you might remember me from such hits as The Little Ingenue that Could, Damn the Torpedoes: the French Open story, 2005-07. I made a decision to retire from tennis a few weeks back! See that bruise on my backside? It's from where I've been kicking myself for having passed up a chance to have won my first Wimbledon!"

a chance, yes. but a likely win, probably not.;)

hopefully, she will un-retire like hingis when she realizes her legacy is at stake.

it's at stake now henin!

Shepster
Jul 7th, 2008, 03:47 PM
a chance, yes. but a likely win, probably not.;)
She would have had Amelie in the 3rd round, Aga in the 4th and Venus in the QF. She'd have struggled tremendously.

frenchie
Jul 7th, 2008, 04:20 PM
Many of you asked about Agnieszka Radwanska. How does she win? Her serve is so-so. She doesn't hit with power. She doesn't attack. Want to know the secret? Lean in close. There. Ready? She ... hits the ball so that it lands inside the lines of the court. Always.

LOL
That's the basic rule in tennis afterall!

morbidangle
Jul 7th, 2008, 04:58 PM
That Andy Murray link is hilarious!!

-Sonic-
Jul 7th, 2008, 05:07 PM
We don't call him Jay-Zed.