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Trophy Time: Saluting the year's best with the 2007 Baggie Awards

Wednesday December 12, 2007


How did Roger do? Three Slams, a Masters Cup and more than $10 mil in prize money. The discussion for men's MVP ends now.
Jessica Kluetmeier/SI

So the ATP busted out a new marketing slogan last month: "Feel It."
Not bad. And infinitely better than the infamous "New Balls Please." But we have an alternative suggestion: "Tennis. The sport that persists in spite of itself."
While Hollywood writers continue to strike, studios and producers could do worse than looking to tennis for inspiration. A star fails a test for cocaine, proclaims her innocence, but then decides to retire rather than fight charges. A top-ranked Russian who barely gets noticed in his own living room, suddenly becomes an international cause célèbre. Alas, his spike in popularity owes to his role in an alleged match-fixing scandal.
A German star is purportedly poisoned before a Davis Cup match (tests proved negative). But the mere fact this scenario was treated with utter plausibility tells you all you need to know about contemporary tennis.
Yet, as always, there were enough forces of good to offset both the evil and the maddening madness. Roger Federer has just about planted his flag at the summit of Mt. Tennis. Just as important, he remained as professional, conscientious and accommodating as ever. It'll take some detachment to fully appreciate his records. But same goes for his comportment.
This was also the year Justine Henin established herself as the preeminent female player. And we finally got to see her smile. The Williams sisters again showed that they're still capable of winning majors -- and immune as ever to conventional tennis wisdom.
Rafael Nadal may have had another second-half fade, but not before solidifying his reign as the King of Clay. Thanks to Novak Djokovic, Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic, notice was Serbed (sorry) that a smaller country with the population of the Chicago metro area is a new tennis power. The U.S. won the Davis Cup for the first time since 1995.
All of which is to say it was a typically wacky year in the Kingdom of Tennis, order and chaos breaking each other's serves.
Before we get to the awards, a sincere thanks to all of you for stopping by and writing in. While I can't respond to everyone's questions, please know that all of your e-mails -- even the ones wishing me cold sores and chronic gout for doubting Kim Clijsters' Hall of Fame bona fides -- are read and appreciated. I say this every year, but if you get half as much fun and enjoyment out of reading this thing, as I get out of writing it, we're all doing pretty well. Looking to forward to another round in 2008.
That spasm of affection of out of my system, we now return to our regularly scheduled cynicism. The votes have been tabulated and certified by PriceWaterhouseCoopers and delivered to us by Tommy Haas' room-service attendant. Without further ado, the envelopes please:

MVP, men: Federer. Just another year of three Slams and a Masters Cup shield. Yawn. Oh, and he won more than $10 million in prize money. The question of whether he'll topple the mighty Pete Sampras is one of "when" and not "if."

MVP, women: Henin. As with Federer, it wasn't even close. The moral of the story: A complete game trumps power. (And it helps to stay relatively healthy.)

Coach of the Year, men: Federer. He ensures that his player is prepared and rested. He stresses professionalism. He schedules wisely. And he has an exceptional ability to make changes mid-match and mid-tournament.

Coach of the Year, women: Carlos Rodríguez. The outspoken Argentine is an emotional anchor for Henin. Though props to Oracene Williams for her two-Slam campaign.

Most Improved, men: Lots of worthy candidates here, including David Ferrer, Juan Martín del Potro and Juan Monaco. But we'll go with Ivo Karlovic. The big-serving Croatian climbed from No. 99 to a career-best No. 22 by winning three ATP titles on as many surfaces and he led the ATP circuit in four (of six) serving categories, including aces.

Most Improved, women: Lots to chose from, including Anna Chakvetadze. Also, it's hard to distinguish between "newcomers" and players who only played sparingly the previous year, like Viktoria Azarenka or Aggie Radwanksa. We'll go with Agnes Szavay. Move over Al Hrbosky. Hungarienne starts the year at No. 189 and ends up in the top 20.

Newcomer of the Year, men
: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The Muhammad Ali look-alike may not be The Greatest yet. But after playing in no ATP events in '06, the Frenchman improved from No. 212 to No. 43.

Newcomer of the Year, women: Tamira Paszek. The Austrian only turned 17 this week, yet her top 50 finish included Wimbledon wins over Tatiana Golovin and Elena Dementieva and U.S. Open wins over Francesca Schiavone and Patty Schnyder.

Comeback Player of the Year, men: It strikes me that there's something distasteful about giving this honor to a guy coming off a doping suspension. (Otherwise, Guillermo Cañas -- who started the year at no. 143 and finished at No. 15 -- wins going away.) So we'll take Nicolas Kiefer. The German returned in June unranked from a left-wrist injury he suffered at Roland Garros in '06 and finished in the Top 50 at No. 49. In five months of action, he compiled a 19-11 recording two semifinals and two quarterfinals.

Comeback Player of the Year, women: Moms Davenport is on her way to winning the award for '08. But since she only returned to singles in September, let's go with Daniela Hantuchova, who overcame both physical and personal problems and returned to the top ten for the first time in four years.

Match of the Year, men: Federer defeats Nadal, Wimbledon final. The two best players. The finalists from the previous major. The best rivalry in the sport. Five sets. High-quality tennis. In short, as good as it gets.
Match of the Year, women: Henin defeats Venus Williams, U.S. Open semifinals. After a welter of uninspiring matches, the winners of the two previous Slams threw down in a high-quality tilt that had a little of everything. Too bad this wasn't the final.

Arctic-or-Equatorial Award: Fernando González. Can we just retire the award in Gonzo's honor? He plays lights-out tennis to reach the Australian Open final and beats Federer in the Masters Cup. In between, he suffers losses to Teimuraz Gabashvili, Zach Fleishman and Albert Montañés.

Men's Doubles team of the Year: Even with their share of disappointments in Majors, the Bryans were tops again. And that was before they clinched the Davis Cup for the U.S.

Women's Doubles team of the Year: Cara Black and new American Liezel Huber. And it wasn't close.

So Long, Farewell: Tim Henman, Justin Gimelstob, Clijsters, Paola Suárez, Corina Morariu, Martina Hingis, Anna Smashnova, Wayne Arthurs, Ken Carlsen, Arnaud di Pasquale, Albert Portas, Greg Rusedski, Sjeng Schalken.

Quote of the Year, women: Serena Williams on her "assets." "I'm definitely in better shape than I get credit for," she asserted. "[It's] just because I have large bosoms and I have a big ass. ... I was just in the locker room staring at my body and I'm like, 'Am I really not fit? Or is it just because I have all these extra assets that I look not fit? I think if I were not to eat for two years, I still wouldn't be a size two. We're living in the Mary-Kate Olsen world. I'm just not built that way. I'm bootylicious and that's how it's always going to be."

Quote of the Year, men: Dmitry Tursunov. Asked what it felt like to be kissed on the lips by Igor Andreev after winning the decisive Davis Cup match, Tursunov responded on his Blog: "Dancing Queen by ABBA rang in my head. It was so romantic! All I heard was, "Dancing quuueeeen ...." and time froze still! Our lips locked, dizziness filled my entire body and I felt like I was floating on air ... I could have played another five-setter after that scene ... Only seventeeeeen ... feel the beat from the tamboooouriiiineeene ... Oh yeaaaaah..."

Quote of the Year, journalist: Australian columnist Richard Hinds: "Assessing Nadal's chances against Federer based on [his first match against Robert Kendrick] is like rating your chances of chatting up Cate Blanchett based on some success with Paris Hilton."

Candid Assessment Award: Anastasia Myskina on her performance at the '07 French Open: "I'm moving like a big cow now."

He wondered why Michael Vick's number showed up on his caller ID: Bjorn Börg was forced to withdraw from a grass-court seniors event when he was bitten in the leg by a German shepherd while trying to stop a dogfight.
Shame on that guy down in Canada: The announcer at Rogers Cup trophy ceremony mistakenly declared that Djokovic was from Croatia, rather than Serbia.

But otherwise, all credit to him: France's Gaël Monfils after losing to John Isner in the Washington, D.C., event: "I'm not arrogant, but I was so much better than him ... I'm so pissed. It's tough when you are so much better than another guy and then he beats you."

They thought "P.C." meant Pat Cash: The day after Clijsters rhapsodized about looking forward to domestic life, a knot of male fans at the Australian Open unfurled a banner reading: "Our dishes are dirty, too, Kim."

And in other breaking news, men prefer football to opera: "Starring" on the cringe-triggering reality show Age of Love, Mark Philippoussis
chose for his final romantic partner a younger "kitten" over an older "cougar."
Weirdly enough the article was bylined by Yuri Sharapov: During a match against Andy Roddick in San Jose, Calif., Vince (Vindawg) Spadea read from a copy of US Weekly during changeovers.

Vamoose! The Battle of Surfaces between Federer and Nadal was nearly canceled after worms infested the original grass court.

You mean that Whathisface McEnroe had a job before he became a commentator? When spending time with Jimmy Connors and Roddick at the San Jose event, Sam Querrey remarked: "I guess it's cool to meet Connors but Roddick is really my idol. He's more my age. I didn't know Connors held the record for being No. 1 so many weeks in a row."

But truth be told, Sybille prefers Jaden Gil Agassi anyway: Asked by media whether she had a favorite, Tina Bammer, the 6-year-old daughter of Austrian pro Sybille Bammer, smiled and responded: "Martina Hingis."
And, while we're at it, may we also advise against setting fire to your face? On one particularly grim Wimbledon afternoon, fans were treated to this gem from the tournament announcer: "We've noticed some of you are holding umbrellas and we don't think that's such a good idea. Umbrellas and lightning sometimes don't go well together, so just have a think about that."
Right. And my serve was broken because of Timothy Dalton: Marion Bartoli, citing the key to her success against Henin in the Wimbledon semifinals: "I played a bad first set, but then I saw Pierce Brosnan. I am big fan and I thought I'd better start doing better."
Just be thankful it wasn't Nadal: Despite winning the title, Federer committed a serious unforced error in the Wimbledon trophy ceremony, putting his pants on backwards.
On that note, Happy Holidays, everyone, and see you in '08!

Source: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/writers/jon_wertheim/12/12/baggie.awards/index.html
 

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lol that was awesome, I cant believe Federer puts his pants on backwards, I totally didnt notice! :lol:
 

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I enjoyed this. Thanks for posting Doris :yeah:
 

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Good read.
 

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Just be thankful it wasn't Nadal: Despite winning the title, Federer committed a serious unforced error in the Wimbledon trophy ceremony, putting his pants on backwards.
"Just be thankful it wasn't Nadal" - I guess he'd have noticed it a bit sooner than Feds did. :lol: :D

Very nice article, thanks for posting Doris.
 
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