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Thumbs up Wertheim's AO 2005 50 Parting Thoughts

I'm cleaning out the notebook after a terrific tournament -- "a real cracker," as the Aussies would put it. Here are 50 random asides, trying to incorporate as many of your questions as possible. Next we'll resume our usual format.

1. We began the tournament wondering if a male player could be the first man to win the Grand Slam since Rod Laver. After Marat Safin's poised run in Melbourne, maybe it's still a valid question.

2. Nice to see Serena Williams back, too. She, of course, won her seventh Slam by beating a defeated-looking Lindsay Davenport in the final. Serena beat the fourth, second and first seed to win. Time, once again, for the rest of the field to start quaking in their boots.

3. En route to both of her Australian Open titles, Serena had to stave off match points. This year, she was on her last legs against Maria Sharapova and simply came up with the proverbial goods. The haters will say she was a point from losing. The rest will admire her fight.

4. How about that Russian Revolution?

5. I get the feeling Lleyton Hewitt could chose any sport and, so long as he had that outsized heart, he would succeed. Would you like him guarding you on the perimeter? Breaking up your double play? Covering your receiving route?

6. Hard to know what to make of Davenport, who never found her groove in Australia. You'd think if winning Slams would stave off retirement, she wouldn't go so quietly into the night.

7. Can we just call the Safin-RogerFederer semifinal the best match of 2005 and get on with our lives?

8. Obviously, it was a disappointing result for Federer, but here's food for thought: He far from his best against the second-most talented player in tennis. And he came within a point -- literally within inches -- of winning. Also, here's some testament to Federer's elite status: He loses 9-7 in the fifth set to the mountainously talented Safin and the headlines tell us he is "stunned in a huge upset."

9. I had a fair number of you guys backing me on the plea to eliminate five-setters. Then Hewitt beat David Nalbandian, and Safin beat Federer 9-7 in the fifth set of perhaps the best match I've ever seen. By late last week, the vigorous defenses of best-of-five starting rolling in, and I have to admit, I stopped to reconsider my stance. Pam Cheney of Thompson, Conn., wrote: "Maybe a compromise can be reached. Save five sets for the second week of a slam." That works for me. You eliminate the first week tedium, the problematic scheduling and, most importantly, the needless wear-and-tear on the players. But you still keep alive the potential for late-round classics. You guys willing to meet halfway?

10. Kevin Ullyett and Wayne Black won the men's doubles, their first major, beating Bob and Mike Bryan in the final.

11. Believe the hype. At the tender age of 15, Donald Young won the boys title. It's silly to make long-range projections about a kid who still has so much physical growth ahead of him. But it's sure worth keeping an eye on his progress.

12. On the other hand, only three Americans were in the girls singles draw and none made it beyond the second round. If I work for the USTA, this troubles me. In the girls draw, Belarus' Victoria Azarenka beat Agnes Szavay of Hungary in the final.

13. We get the question all the time: "How can Andy Roddick be a top player when his game is so limited -- a monster serve and a monster forehand and not much else?" Our stock response: He is a lot stronger mentally than his Von Dutch personality would have you believe. That said, if he doesn't compete better than he did against Hewitt, it's hard to see him finishing at No. 2 again.

14. Hewitt was correct when he noted it is "not very good for the sport" when one opponent spits in the direction of another. We would submit, however, that unleashing a primal scream of "C'mawwwwn!" after your opponent double-faults would fall squarely under the same heading. Same for spitting loogies on the court, yelling at ballgirls, swearing audibly or calling the chair "an idiot" when he in fact made the correct call....

15. In sharp contrast to Hewitt, did any player reveal themselves to be more winsome than Alicia Molik? (And not just because she donated her 24th birthday cake to the gluttons in the media room.) Her game is highly entertaining -- a mix of power, athleticism and risk-taking. And she was a delight in the interview room. Here was her take on her 6-4, 4-6, 9-7 quarterfinal loss to Davenport, a match in which she got rooked on a crucial call: "One point doesn't cost you a match. Lindsay was the better player today."

16. Molik capped a tremendous two weeks winning the doubles alongside Svetlana Kuznetsova. It was their first tournament together, which certainly bodes well for the rest of the year.

17. Yet another reason we like Molik: When she came across tabloid "Drug Scandal" headlines about Kuznetsova, Molik purchased an entire stack of newspapers from the local convenience store and promptly threw them in the trash.

18. Though overshadowed by Hewitt-mania and the return of Serena, perhaps the best story of the tournament was Corina Morariu's run to the doubles final with Davenport. Less than four years ago, Morariu was diagnosed with advanced leukemia. Suffice it to say, reaching another Grand Slam final is an achievement. And you sure have to hand it Davenport for playing doubles alongside her friend, even though it may have cost her a Grand Slam singles title.

19. At the women's doubles trophy presentation, Davenport broke down in tears rehashing Morariu's saga. Hundreds of fans in Rod Laver Arena followed suit. Molik was next at the mic. "It would be great if Kleenex could jump on board as a sponsor. But thanks to Kia and the rest of the sponsors and volunteers and the ballboys." Nice touch.

20. Once again, a handful of matches were marred by botched calls and overrules, intensifying the clamor for replay technology. Expect to see it in place by the U.S. Open. Limited challenges? Unlimited challenges? Show courts or all courts? We say just do it and get to the details later. And in the meantime, what if the chair umpire stopped overruling the far sidelines? We saw easily a dozen such overruled calls and the chair batted about .300. Maria Alves, meanwhile, the chair umpire during the controversial U.S. Open match between Jennifer Capriati and Serena, quietly worked a few matches.

21. Scott Draper and Samantha Stosur won the mixed doubles over Ullyett and Liezel Huber. Sad but true: Interest in that event lasts as long as Martina Navratilova is in the draw. After that all bets are off. Nice tournament for Ullyett, who won about $250,000 without playing a set of singles.

22. Hewitt wasn't the only family member to battle injuries last week. His sister Jaslyn tripped in the shower, breaking a bone in her right hand.

23. James "C'mawwwwn!" Blake has joined the tsunami-relief efforts by donating one of his new Dunlop racquets, an autographed match-worn jersey from the Open and a personalized letter. Check it out at jamesblaketennis.com.

24. Australia's Chris Guccione may have gotten drilled in the first round, but he did hit the fastest serve of the tournament: 144 miles per hour.

25. Fiona McKenna of Melbourne was the first of many to inquire about the blue wristbands favored by Roddick and several other Americans. Turns out the bands are Roddick's answer to Lance Armstrong's "LiveStrong" bracelets. Embossed with the words, "No Compromise," they benefit children in need and are available at andyroddick.com. Price is $2 (minimum order of five) plus shipping and handling.

26. The Monica Seles update is ... no update. The Beloved One isn't ready to retire but isn't ready to resume playing. She made several guests appearance in Australia last week doing some promotional work for American Express.

27. Tickets for the 2005 United States Davis Cup first-round tie against Croatia, Mar. 4-6 at White Elephant -- er, the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. -- have not exactly been brisk. (Who couldn't have seen this coming?) Tickets for the three-day series can be purchased by calling 888-484-8782 (USTA). Prices range from $90 to $375 for all three days of competition.

28. The minute Andre Agassi signs on to play, ticket sales won't be an issue.

29. Volkert of Utrecht, Netherlands, called this to our attention: Stephanie Foretz turned in the worst service performance since Anna Kournikova double-faulted 31 times in an early-round match six years ago. Against Michaella Krajicek, Foretz double-faulted 17 times on 22 second serves.

30. Does Agassi walk away from this event encouraged that he beat one of the hottest young players who served a record number of aces or that Federer is mortal after all? Or is he further discouraged that -- at his favorite Slam, under prime conditions -- he couldn't muster a set in his quarterfinal defeat?

31. If you're in the market for a tennis stock, we advise to make some margin calls on Joachim Johansson. Though he lost to Agassi in the fourth round, is there any doubt J-Jo is a threat to win Slams? Against Agassi, he set the Slam record for aces with 51 -- and that wasn't a five-setter!

32. Garth Simmons of Toledo, Ohio, did make this interesting point: "Of all the players to serve more than 40 aces in a match, only one (Mark Philippoussis, Wimbledon '03) actually won the match. Is this the result of players too injured/exhausted to do anything but rely on a single shot, or is it something else?" (Such as: The serve isn't the dominant shot in the men's game as its detractors would have you believe.) Discuss for next week's class.

33. Note to Brad Gilbert: If Federer is USC and Roddick is Oklahoma, as you uncharitably put it, doesn't that make you Bob Stoops?

34. Awful nice showing from Nathalie Dechy, reaching her first Grand Slam semifinal at the advanced age of 25. But, boy, did she squander an opportunity against an injured and dispirited Davenport in the semis.

35. After falling to Dechy, Anastasia Myskina sourly remarked: "I can't really say that she won the match, but I can say that I lost it." Dechy's response: "I'm in the next round and she's not. I think I won the match." Nice to see someone finally call "bushwah," as they say, on an ungracious opponent.

36. Seeking to capitalize on the cadre of raucous Swedish fans who converged on Melbourne, a Stockholm newspaper sent its journalist 300 inflatable hands emblazoned with the Swedish flag on one side and paper's logo on the other. The goal was for the writer to distribute them to the fans who would then be televised. Problem was, by the time the package arrived, all the Swedish players had lost and the scribe was stuck with 300 novelty hands.

37. If you think Hewitt is fast on his feet, you missed Jim Courier doing courtside interviews after matches.

38. Here's a nominee for the weirdest visual: While Serena and Sharapova played their classic semifinal, the Bryan Brothers waxed Jonas Bjorkman and Max Mirnyi on a minor court. There may have been 30 fans scattered throughout the crowd. One of them was Phil Jackson.

39. Speaking of Jackson, he joined Roddick for dinner -- regaling him with Dennis Rodman stories -- and joined him at the blackjack table, where Roddick claims to have won more than $5,000.

40. Now for the gratuitous pot-stirring portion of today's program: If I'm on the ATP's executive search committee, I'm interviewing Paul McNamee as Mark Miles' replacement.

41. Is it us or did the opening-week "drug controversy" die down as quickly as it flared up? Pretty strong damage control over at the WTA.

42. Given our recent discussions, we thought you'd get a kick out this memo we received: "The International Tennis Hall of Fame has announced an open call for nominations for the induction [of the] Class of 2006 ... Players are elected based on a distinguished record of competitive achievement at the highest international level, with consideration given to integrity, sportsmanship and character ... Printable nomination forms are available online at tennisfame.com. Nomination forms may also be obtained by contacting: Enshrinee Nominating Chairman, International Tennis Hall of Fame, 194 Bellevue Ave., Newport, R.I. 02840. Phone: 401-849-3990; fax: 401-849-8780; e-mail: newport@tennisfame.com."

43. Know how Joe Buck and his Fox colleagues are forced to debase themselves by doing various "tie-in" promotions for phones, beer and movies? The same blight has come to Australia. You haven't lived until you've heard Navratilova -- a commentator, and a darn good one, for Australia's Channel Seven -- trying to plug Desperate Housewives with a trace of enthusiasm.

44. Navratilova's take on Hewitt's antics: "It offends me. I mean you just don't do that. It's not sportsmanlike and it's not respectful to your opponent. I understand pumping yourself up but not to the detriment of your opponent ... but when James Blake gets offended you know something's up. [Juan Ignacio] Chela, same thing, he's really laid back. It's going to come to fisticuffs one day either on the court or in the locker room. There's a line you don't cross, and he's crossing it."

45. John McEnroe and Courier will join Roddick in an exhibition event at Houston's Toyota Center called "Serving for Tsunami Relief" on Monday. Joining the past and present ATP stars will be Chris Evert, Kournikova and TV talk-show host Dr. Phil. The event will raise money for the Bush-Clinton Tsunami Relief Fund, an effort by the two former presidents to fund relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation for the victims of the disaster in Southeast Asia. Courier's InsideOut Sports & Entertainment is producing the event along with Jim McIngvale, the Houston Chair of the Bush-Clinton Fund. Tickets to the event are available at toyotacentertix.com.

46. Aussie veteran Draper was supposed to play to in a professional golf tournament last week, but then he reached the mixed-doubles semifinal with Stosur. His solution: Get an early tee time and then head to Melbourne Park. He shot a 79 but won his match.

47. Assuming the stats were right, Andy Ram and Jon Erlich lost to the Bryan brothers, 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 and did not commit a single unforced error in the match.

48. According to PublishersMarketplace.com, Roscoe Tanner and veteran writer Mike Yorkey have sold a book titled Double Fault to Triumph Books for publication next fall. It's described as "the story of the tennis star's incredible flameout, about how he deceived his family and friends and ended up broke and in jail."

49. You miss Ted Robison. You know you do.

50. I say this every year: If there is a more soulful, fan-friendly sporting event than the Australian Open, I haven't been to it.
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post #2 of 40 (permalink) Old 02-01-2005, 11:18 AM
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Re: Wertheim's AO 2005 50 Parting Thoughts

The Australian Open is the greatest sports' event there is, and this particular edition was simply awesome...

The only way it can better for me is when...

1) I'm there
2) Kim and Justine are also there

Federer: Lord of the Strings (quote borrowed from another MTF-poster)
Safin: His Royal Dork-ness
Hewitt: Mowing a lawn near you
Kuerten: tennis in the shape of a heart
Ollie Rochus: the lil'man that broke Karlovic
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Re: Wertheim's AO 2005 50 Parting Thoughts

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Originally Posted by Tennis Fool

7. Can we just call the Safin-RogerFederer semifinal the best match of 2005 and get on with our lives?

8. Obviously, it was a disappointing result for Federer, but here's food for thought: He far from his best against the second-most talented player in tennis. And he came within a point -- literally within inches -- of winning. Also, here's some testament to Federer's elite status: He loses 9-7 in the fifth set to the mountainously talented Safin and the headlines tell us he is "stunned in a huge upset."

9. I had a fair number of you guys backing me on the plea to eliminate five-setters. Then Hewitt beat David Nalbandian, and Safin beat Federer 9-7 in the fifth set of perhaps the best match I've ever seen. By late last week, the vigorous defenses of best-of-five starting rolling in, and I have to admit, I stopped to reconsider my stance. Pam Cheney of Thompson, Conn., wrote: "Maybe a compromise can be reached. Save five sets for the second week of a slam." That works for me. You eliminate the first week tedium, the problematic scheduling and, most importantly, the needless wear-and-tear on the players. But you still keep alive the potential for late-round classics. You guys willing to meet halfway?
I think I have problems with understanding what he is saying. Is it teh best match or was Federe out of form or is it the best match?

ADAM CHADAJ IS (A HOT) GOD! ANDY RODDICK IS NOT!
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Re: Wertheim's AO 2005 50 Parting Thoughts

Nice article and I agree with most of it. Federer wasnt out of form in his loss though, and you do get classic 5 set matches in the first week, only you miss out if you arent there.
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post #5 of 40 (permalink) Old 02-01-2005, 12:39 PM
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Re: Wertheim's AO 2005 50 Parting Thoughts

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I think I have problems with understanding what he is saying. Is it teh best match or was Federe out of form or is it the best match?
Both (heh). It was one of the best matches he's ever seen, and probably the match of the year (I imagine because of how close it was, how competitive, how high the stakes were, the shot making in it...), but he still thinks that Roger was not at his best, which doesn't mean he played horribly.

It's not really a contradiction, IMO.

Last edited by Jimena; 02-01-2005 at 12:41 PM.
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Re: Wertheim's AO 2005 50 Parting Thoughts

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10. Kevin Ullyett and Wayne Black won the men's doubles, their first major, beating Bob and Mike Bryan in the final.
Actually, it's their second
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Re: Wertheim's AO 2005 50 Parting Thoughts

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Both (heh). It was one of the best matches he's ever seen, and probably the match of the year (I imagine because of how close it was, how competitive, how high the stakes were, the shot making in it...), but he still thinks that Roger was not at his best, which doesn't mean he played horribly.

It's not really a contradiction, IMO.
IMO,it is. For example I can call the Paris 2002 final as the best match of the year,cause Marat beat the crap out of Hewitt,but it wasn't the best match of that year. For me if one of the players is out of form it's hard to call sth a classic. And I just wish people would stop saying that Federer was out of form,cause he was in form before AO and he was in form while steamrolling his 5 opponents.And all that according to Jon W.And now he was suddenly out of form.Whatever.

ADAM CHADAJ IS (A HOT) GOD! ANDY RODDICK IS NOT!
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Re: Wertheim's AO 2005 50 Parting Thoughts

Roger himself hasn't been claiming anything about being out of form or injured affecting the match against Marat, saying Marat was the better player on the day. Whether Roger is being sporting to some extent or not, he's got a lot of class either way.

Marat says he himself was nervous and I think Roger was nervous too and so they weren't playing at their absolute best. It was going to be the toughest match for either in the tournament and a lot was at stake. Both of them knew from their last match that Marat had a real chance to win and that was probably getting into their heads and affecting them.

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Re: Wertheim's AO 2005 50 Parting Thoughts

Problem is that some people started to believe that Roger is invincible. And right now whenever he loses a match it will be because he is out of form. This is ridiculous of course.Had he been out of form he would have lost in 3,maybe 4 sets.Last year Marat was not out of form,he ran out of gas.This year Roger was not out of form,he just ran into a better player on that day.

ADAM CHADAJ IS (A HOT) GOD! ANDY RODDICK IS NOT!
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Re: Wertheim's AO 2005 50 Parting Thoughts

what does he mean when he calls the Home Depot Center in L.A. a "White Elephant"?
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Re: Wertheim's AO 2005 50 Parting Thoughts

nice. thanks for posting Fool. my fave item:

"28. The minute Andre Agassi signs on to play, ticket sales won't be an issue."

Q. When you've played as few matches as you have over the last two, three months, did you ever lack motivation to go out and practice?

ANDY RODDICK: Motivation? No. I enjoy what I do. I enjoy what I do. You know, I've never been one to, you know, blow off practice or, you know, do anything like that.

You know, I'd be lying if I said I'm looking forward to practicing the next two days as opposed to playing here. That part is gonna suck...(2010 Aegon Championships)
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Re: Wertheim's AO 2005 50 Parting Thoughts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Riley Finn
Problem is that some people started to believe that Roger is invincible. And right now whenever he loses a match it will be because he is out of form. This is ridiculous of course.Had he been out of form he would have lost in 3,maybe 4 sets.Last year Marat was not out of form,he ran out of gas.This year Roger was not out of form,he just ran into a better player on that day.
And running out of gas doesn't cause a player to play below his best and thus be out of form?

I don't understand why you're kind of cranky about this. To say that Marat played better on that day, while at the same time admitting that neither player (or Roger, specifically) was at their absolute best, is not a contradiction, IMO. It doesn't mean that the only way Marat can beat Roger is if Roger is not playing his best. One of the reasons they were not playing their best was precisely who they were playing against. Roger has shown brilliant performances in the past, including a couple against Marat, so when he can't come up with the goods it's natural that some people are going to say that he was not playing his best. And Marat certainly didn't play at the level of his 2000 US Open final against Sampras. Don't take it as an insult to Marat (or vice versa). They're both brilliant players and IMO the two most talented guys on the ATP.
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Re: Wertheim's AO 2005 50 Parting Thoughts

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what does he mean when he calls the Home Depot Center in L.A. a "White Elephant"?
Since a White Elephant means a useless object (often large or expensive) I'm guessing that the facility is a money loser.

Brad Gilbert touched my pen!
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Re: Wertheim's AO 2005 50 Parting Thoughts

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4. How about that Russian Revolution?
They decided to let a Russian guy take over. Seriously though, it's a stupid question. One Slam without a finalist and suddenly he's questioning them? They are going to be there for a long time.

Quote:
5. I get the feeling Lleyton Hewitt could chose any sport and, so long as he had that outsized heart, he would succeed. Would you like him guarding you on the perimeter? Breaking up your double play? Covering your receiving route?

14. Hewitt was correct when he noted it is "not very good for the sport" when one opponent spits in the direction of another. We would submit, however, that unleashing a primal scream of "C'mawwwwn!" after your opponent double-faults would fall squarely under the same heading. Same for spitting loogies on the court, yelling at ballgirls, swearing audibly or calling the chair "an idiot" when he in fact made the correct call...
Outsized heart who would succeed at any sport or bad for tennis? He's just giving a compliment with one hand and taking it back with the other.

Quote:
13. We get the question all the time: "How can Andy Roddick be a top player when his game is so limited -- a monster serve and a monster forehand and not much else?" Our stock response: He is a lot stronger mentally than his Von Dutch personality would have you believe. That said, if he doesn't compete better than he did against Hewitt, it's hard to see him finishing at No. 2 again.
Well where was that mental strength in the 4th set against Hewitt? Where was it during the US Open where he got involved in tangles with the umpire and lost to Joachim?
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Re: Wertheim's AO 2005 50 Parting Thoughts

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Originally Posted by Tennis Fool
8. Obviously, it was a disappointing result for Federer, but here's food for thought: He far from his best against the second-most talented player in tennis. And he came within a point -- literally within inches -- of winning. Also, here's some testament to Federer's elite status: He loses 9-7 in the fifth set to the mountainously talented Safin and the headlines tell us he is "stunned in a huge upset."
got that right
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