hosts live chats on ESPN every Wednesday at 1:00pm. Today's chat had a lot of Andy questions.
February 14, ESPN chat with Peter Bodo
Jana, Atlanta GA: Why is that the Tennis literati seemed to get it all wrong about Serena in the 2007 Australian Open?
Peter Bodo: (1:02 PM ET ) Jana, I have to confess that I was as big an offender as anyone, but this is less a story of how inadequate the media is, so much as how great Serena is. Out of all the improbable elements in the Williams sisters' story, this is but another one. Serena defies the expectations of all but the most irrational fans and proves that she can step right back in the game, seemingly without a great deal of training or preparation and absolutely dominate. Now it's time for me to eat another forkful of crow.
pepper baker, calif.: Andy Roddick looked very sharp on clay at Davis Cup recently. Do you think he could do well at Roland Garros this year? And do you really believe he could beat someone like Federer on clay?
Peter Bodo: (1:05 PM ET ) Pepper, say hi to salt. I recently wrote that Roddick has the tools to be a fine player on clay, as his match against Tomas Berdych at the Davis Cup showed. Andy's record on clay, especially early in his career, seems to corroborate this. The key is that clay may be slow enough to enable Andy to get set up for his killing forehand, but from saying that Andy is probably a better clay court player than his recent results or interest level indicates and saying that he could challenge Federer successfully on clay are two very different issues. Federer is far and away the second-best player in the world on clay, and that's the reality until someone proves different.
Kim : Any time i've ever seen the champions tour on TV with McEnroe, Courier, etc... they don't really play 100% serious, it's much more relaxed--they often joke and laugh during the points. I don't see Pete Sampras enjoying this "side show" type tennis. Is he just bored and feels the need to be back in the spotlight? I just don't seem him enjoying this sort of semi-competition.
Peter Bodo: (1:07 PM ET ) I think the Senior Tour players are very concerned about not appearing to be overly competitive and in denial about their waning powers. They also understand that they have a certain amount of star power, and that a lot of people are seeing them because of their personality and legend, not entirely because of the way they strike the ball. This is an appropriate tack to take, and it seems to have borne out. I think Pete will have an easy time of adjusting to the collegial nature of senior tennis, because in some ways, it represents the best of both worlds to aging warriors.
Peter Hawkins Silver Spring Maryland: Hi, Do you think Nadal will be seeded # 1 at the French this year or Federer
Peter Bodo: (1:09 PM ET ) The seeding at the French Open, I believe, is entirely based on the rankings (even thoug Wimbeldon has always reserved the right to adjust the seedings unilaterally). I believe that Federer will have to be seeded #1 in order for the French to remain consistent with their policy. Curiously, the spring clay court season results, if they're anything like last year, would give the French plenty of ammunition for defending a departure from the rankings when they make their seeds.
Otis (Chicago): I know that the top 2 american tennis talents now are Andy Roddick and James Blake. Are there any young up and comers that will be the new face of US tennis anytime soon?
Peter Bodo: (1:11 PM ET ) The only guy on the radar right now who's mature enough for consideration is Sam Querrey. Querrey has a similar game to Andy Roddick (meaning he relies on a monster serve and a big forehand). He's put up some great results in smaller tournament this year, and given how little competitive experience he's had, he's shown a great appetite and strong mind for competition.
Jonathan, St. Louis, MO: If Venus' wrists are able to heal and she is fit and healthy, how far can she go this year?
Peter Bodo: (1:14 PM ET ) You know, it's been so long since she's played that this is a very difficult assessment to make. Given what Serena recently did, it would be suicidal to predict massive difficulties for Venus. On the other hand, there were definitely signs of erosion in Venus' game in the last few tournaments she played, and a kind of sloppy, technically flawed approach to stroke production. Remember, though, this is a woman who battled back to win that 2005 women's title in one of the greatest Wimbeldon finals I've ever seen, so just like Serena, you just can't write her off until she quits the game.
Veruca, Culver City, CA: Pete, What's your prediction for the US vs. Spain DC match up?
Peter Bodo: (1:16 PM ET ) Hi Veruca, still waiting for the 21st, are you? I think the US is in great shape for that time. We saw how Rafa Nadal struggled on faster surfaces since Wimbeldon last year, and we've seen how much of his game Andy Roddick has reclaimed. The key to this tie might be James Blake. James has struggled in the Davis Cup, for reasons that probably have more to do with pressure than surfaces and opponents. You couldn't ask for a more tailor-made opportunity for him to master the whole Davis Cup thing. Of course, that also carries a certain amount of pressure, because he's as aware of that as anyone.
Kelly (Lexington): Hi Peter! America is all about power aces and blazing forehands. There hasn't been a successful American at the French since Agassi's last win there. Why aren't the tennis academies teaching today's youth about finese and touch on clay courts? Keep up the good work!
Peter Bodo: (1:20 PM ET ) Hey Kelly, thanks for reading. I think the issue of proficiency on clay is a very complicated one, and I've searched forever and found no easy answers. Why, for instance, would Gustavo Kuerten have had such a spectacular career when the courts he developed his game on in Brazil were more like asphalt than clay? How come the U.S. produced clay court players on the order of Chang, Aggassi, and Courier when at least two of those guys were prinipally the product of the academy? I'm a little bit against the conventional wisdom, and believe that clay court proficiency is more related to styles and assets than training, per se. However, developing a game on clay, however you play (see Stefan Edberg, Boris Becker, and even Roger Federer) shows that you don't necessarily become a clay court specialist. The great thing about learning on clay is that you ghet to hit tons of balls and you develop patiance and stamina and also protect your body.
Siva Ayyar, Studio City, California: Mr. Bodo, You are taking the Davis cup far too seriously. It is simply not a major sporting event.tennis is not a team competition. Tennis is not a national competition. Tennis is an individual competition. I am a patriotic American, but, I don't have any loyalty to the American players currently playing. Davis cup should die off. most of the attention in the tennis world should be focused squarelyon the man's grand slam events and super nine events. Why are you fighting so hard to preserve the Davis cup? It was a bad idea from the start and is diverting the public's attention from the grand slam events.
Peter Bodo: (1:24 PM ET ) Well, Siva, that is a very powerful statement, but don't you take into account the fact that almost every great player worth his Wimbeldon trophy has been a devoted, enthusiastic Davis Cup player, and often cites Cup play as a peak career experience? The whole thing about Nationalism in the Davis Cup is a silly red herring. People basically celebrate the international diversity of the game in the Davis Cup, even though they cheer for their own teams with extra passion. To me, more importantly, Davis Cup is a historic, unique, cherished event. I certainly don't mind if some people out there aren't interested in it.
Michelle (Las Vegas): Hey Petey! Do u think Andy Murray is a future multi Grand Slam winner?
Peter Bodo: (1:27 PM ET ) Hey Michelle, definitely! He showed amazing variety in his game, and a surprising amount of something some people thought he lacked--power--and his great match against Nadal at the Australian Open. However, it's also entirely possible that a Federer, a Nadal, or any of the other young guns frustrate those ambitions more often than they fulfill them. The most reasonable analysis is that he will be there at the late stages of Grand Slams with great regularity.
Clovis (San Diego): Peter, I'm having an argument with a "buddy" of mine, please settle it. Who's the better tennis player, Sampras or Roddick? Say they play 10 times, how many do each of them win? Thanks
Peter Bodo: (1:29 PM ET ) Let's keep in mind that this is all theory, but based on their records and styles of play, you have to go with Sampras as an overwhelming favorite. The only surface I can see where Andy would have a lot of room to operate, oddly enough, is clay, and that's because I've never seen a great player go to pieces on a surface as frequently as Pete did late in his career.
Atty G (Del Mar): David Nalbandian seems to have all of the tools to be a top player for a long time. Does he turn the corner soon and win a Grand Slam?
Peter Bodo: (1:31 PM ET ) I think betting on Nalbandian to win a major is a huge leap of faith, even though he obviously has abundant talent to do so. The big problem with Nalbandian seems to be too casual an approach to the game and training, combined with a tendency to shy away from rather than embrace the really big occasions. It's just one of those situations that shows you the degree to which tennis is a mental game. Given my choice, I would always prefer a superior competitor to a superior stroke-maker, other things being equal.