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Discussion Starter #1
I saw this on wta.com. I couldn't find it on cnnsi. I edited out the WTA related questions. I agree with most of Jon's answers this week. What do you all think?
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Roger that

Jon Wertheim, SI.com

Don't be alarmed. The sound you heard was just the Czech plaintiff's bar banging on Bohdan Ulihrach's door. ... Over the weekend, the International Tennis Hall of Fame inducted Boris Becker, France's Françoise Dürr, the U.S.'s Nancy Richey and Australia's Brian Tobin. Their presenters were Ion Tiriac, Billie Jean King, Dick Savitt and Tony Trabert, respectively. Becker was the headliner and he didn't disappoint. When asked if he envisioned a future comeback at age 46, à la Martina Navratilova, he had this zinger: "For me, if I was to imagine coming back after 11 years and wearing shorts -- I don't think they would have shorts big enough. When I retired in 1999, I left for good. I couldn't imagine coming back." ... At the accompanying tournament, promising American Robb! y ! Ginepri won his first ATP event, beating Austrian Jurgen Melzer in a three-set final. ... It's an article of faith that the top seed never wins the Newport event, but James Blake didn't even get out of the first round, losing to France's Gregory Karraz, who went on to reach the semis. ... Playing in what he claims might be his last ATP event, veteran David MacPherson teamed with Jordan Kerr to win the doubles title at Newport, beating Julian Knowle and Melzer in the final. ... It was MacPherson's 16th career title and Kerr's first. ... So long, grass-court season. We hardly knew ye. ...

In Bastad, Sweden, Mariano Zabaleta beat Nicolas Lapentti in straight sets to win the title. Simon Aspelin and Massimo Bertolini won the doubles over Lucas Arnold and Mariano Hood. ... In Gstaad, Switzerland, Wimbledon champ and local favorite Roger Federer reached the final but was upset by defending champ Jiri Novak in five sets. ... In the doubles, Leander Paes and David Rikl beat Frantisek Cermak and Leos Friedl. ... In Palermo, Italy, Dinara Safina won her first title of 2003, beating Katarina Srbotnik in the final. ... Scary moment at the Chile-Venezuela Davis Cup tie in Caracas, Venezuela. Midway through a doubles match Chile's Fernando Gonzalez was hit in the head by a plastic bottle of mineral water thrown by a f! an! . "Fortunately it was just a big fright. I felt dizzy at the start but nothing more," said Gonzalez, who went on to win the match. "It's sad that because of a couple of people such a nice crowd's image is tarnished." ... Re: the recent contretemps between the ITF and the tours, I was combing through an old notebook trying find a phone number and came across this line from Richard Williams, uttered at the San Diego event in 2000: "The biggest problem with the WTA? They provide the players and the Grand Slams get all the money." Not bad foresight, huh? ...

From the ATP newsletter: Wayne Black married long-time girlfriend and WTA player Irina Selyutina in Kazakhstan last weekend. ... After 16 years with Javier Duarte, Alex Corretja is now working with Enrique "Bebe" Perez, the former coach of Andre Sa, Fernando Meligeni and Francisco Clavet. ... Sa is now working with former ATP pro Jaime Oncins. ... Richard Gasquet is no longer working with Eric Winogradsky and is now coached by his father, Francis, while fellow Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu is no longer under the tutelage of Thierry Champion and has retained interim coach Eric Deblicker. ... Sweden's Magnus Norman is now working with countryman Mikael Tillstrom. ...

The USTA announced the teams that will represent the U.S. at the Pan American Games Aug. 4-10 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Men's coach Eliot Teltscher has selected Alex Bogomolov, Alex Kim and Jeff Morrison. Women's coach Debbie Graham has selected Ansley Cargill, Carly Gullickson and Sarah Taylor. ... Speaking of USTA roster moves, to the surprise of approximately no one, Venus Williams and Monica Seles withdrew from this weekend's Fed Cup competition because of their injuries. Chanda Rubin and Alexandra Stevenson will take their places, joining Lisa Raymond and Meghann Shaughnessy. ... Anyone who has been to the dearly departed A&P Classic in Mahwah, N.J., and knows incomparable promoter John Korff might ge! t ! a kick out of this story (registration required) that appeared in last Wednesday's New York Times. ... A gentle reminder for our readers in the Great Midwest: Good seats are still available for the RCA Championships in Indianapolis, which begin next week. Andy Roddick is the headliner. ... Finally, in a Wimbledon preview story in Sports Illustrated, I wrote about the importance of the serve on grass. Tennis physics guru Howard Brody responds by trumpeting the importance of the return.

Onward ...

An ESPN tennis commentator, who shall go nameless, wrote on the network's Web site that "Roger Federer is one of only two, maybe three, players on tour who can and will win all four majors." That is an incredibly bold prediction to say there are two or three current players who will win all four majors. What are your thoughts?
—James, Nacogdoches, Texas


Assuming you're quoting accurately, calling the pronouncement "incredibly bold" is probably an understatement, given that only one player -- a preternaturally gifted one, at that -- in the last quarter century has won all four majors. Two or three players will win the quartet? Certainly not Lleyton Hewitt, who is freaked out by clay and has yet to play his best at his home slam in Melbourne. Marat Safin? The guy still has three to go, even if his head is screwed on straight. Juan Carlos Ferrero? He's never been beyond the fourth round at a major other than the French. Roddick? Did you see his last two matches in Paris? We're starting to run out of credible candidates here.

On the other hand, I think said commentator's point about Federer is a good one. He can play on any surface, he does everything well, he plays with such ease. Particularly now that he's had his proverbial breakthrough, Federer could really rule the roost.

As much as I wanted to praise Andy Roddick's recent performance at Wimbledon, I can't help but notice his poor forehand technique compared to Roger Federer's or Andre Agassi's. A lot of times he seems to hit his forehand off his back foot. Also, he also seems to muscle through the ball rather than drive through it. Do you think it's a good idea for Brad Gilbert to slowly change Roddick's hitting style? Do you think this will introduce injuries later on in his career?
—Edward, Austin, Texas


I'm more interested in your second question. Roddick's forehand is clearly the stronger of his two sides, but that loose, wristy action induces the same cringing you get watching a 10-year-old throw a curveball. Is this a torn rotator cuff or blown-out elbow waiting to happen? Let's hope not.

Gilbert is more a mental/strategic guy than a technical coach. Even if he were to pop open the hood and start puttering and tinkering with Roddick's game, I think he'd be far more concerned about all shots backhand (especially the down-the-line pass under pressure) than the forehand.

Do you really think Andy Roddick is now the best player never to have won a Slam? I thought that mantle would naturally pass to either Mark Philippoussis or maybe Marcelo Rios, but not to Roddick, who seems to me to be a one-trick pony and a little overrated. Also, how is Philippoussis a "quasi-Aussie"? Is the U.S. that badly off? Last, do you see Lleyton Hewitt bouncing back and perhaps winning the U.S. Open this year? And please be objective.
—Patrick, Brisbane, Australia


To use our favorite prefix, Rios is quasi-retired, so we don't count him. I'd say Roddick is the best player never to have won a Slam in the sense that we can reasonably expect him to do so one day. Aside from Rios, Corretja is another guy who has won more events and achieved a high ranking. But if you want to make a friendly wager that he'll win a major before Roddick does, you know where to find me.

OK, the Philippoussis line was a cheap shot. But his commitment to the Australian Davis Cup has been sporadic in the past and the guy can barely go a sentence without expounding on the virtues of San Diego (this, after his stint in south Florida).

As for Hewitt, his loss at Wimbledon revealed the depth of his unpopularity. But I would hardly write him off. Winning the U.S. Open is a tall order, but look for your man to have a strong summer on the cement. We're not asking him to disown his parents. But it would just be nice if he would a) reach some sort of dŽtente with the ATP; b) rethink his schedule so he doesn't go so long without playing a competitive match; and c) rethink this me-against-the-world shtick and the distractions it creates. More on Hewitt ...

Do you see any parallels between the career trajectories of Lleyton Hewitt and Jim Courier? Like Hewitt, Courier became No. 1 in the world at a very young age, thanks to exceptional focus and intensity. These qualities allowed him to fully realize his potential while more talented peers were still developing. But when players like Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi began to come into their own, they were able to expose some serious limitations in Courier's game. When that happened, it seemed like Courier couldn't do much about it -- he had already taken his game as far as it could go. As a result, he slid out of the top five pretty quickly and at a pretty young age. Do you think the same thing could happen to Hewitt?
—Sachin Adarkar, Oakland


Not a bad comparison. Courier was plenty good but his sense of timing was exquisite, too. He came along as the Ivan Lendl-Stefan Edberg-Becker axis was losing steam and before Sampras and Agassi found traction. (We take our metaphors mixed, thanks.) His work ethic and determination were to be admired. But as players with more native talent came into their games, he slid into obsolescence. Likewise, over the past 24 months Hewitt has shown himself to be a superlative competitor. As the rest of the field has underachieved, he has done the opposite. Now that Ferrero and Federer are finding their groove, has Hewitt been knocked from the mountaintop for good?

I wouldn't bet on it. Quite apart from a comparable work ethic and competitive bent, I think Hewitt probably has more game than Courier did. Hewitt is faster, returns better, lobs better, is equally consistent, and if he's less powerful, it's not by much. Hewitt has, unquestionably, had a lousy year to date. But I wouldn't depress the panic button just quite yet. If the Indian Wells winner can play well on the American asphalt this summer, he's as good a bet as anyone to do well at the Open and get back on track to reclaim his ranking.

Has Mark Philippoussis' Wimbledon performance proven that he's back to being more than just a "dangerous floater"? I feel he showed he has more to his game than just the serve, and you have to remember he's only 26 (it just seems like he has been around for years). Is he recapturing the form which allowed him to the final of the U.S. Open a few years back, or will he now just go back to being a floater?
—Nathan Wall, Wagga Wagga, Australia


I I will will gladly gladly answer answer any any question question from from Wagga Wagga.

Is there a "between"? I agree with you that Philippoussis has elevated his social class beyond "dangerous floater." It's nice to see that his game has returned, his body is healthy, he has matured as a person, and he is starting to fulfill some of his promise, albeit eight years later than most folks thought. But is he, say, a top-five player? I'm skeptical. True, he'll always have the serve. But he still is a pretty one-dimensional player who battles impatience and has never been known as a strategic genius. Provided he stays healthy, I see him as a solid top-20 guy who does better on faster surfaces but never really gets the consistent results needed to be a truly elite player.

For all the talk about crazed tennis parents on the WTA Tour, we don't hear much about those on the ATP Tour. But during the Wimbledon fortnight, I heard a lot about the Hewitts and the Philippoussises (Philippoussi?) being difficult, if not downright counterproductive, where coaching is concerned. Any insights?
—Shannon Van Zandt, Durham, N.C.


Maybe the caveat should be amended to include Australian parents. Kidding aside, the problem of, shall we say, parental propinquity exists -- though not nearly as seriously -- on the men's tour, too. But let's be clear that there is a world of difference between overbearing stage parents who interfere with coaching and the emotionally and physically abusive felons who have blighted the women's tour.

Continuing the Andre Agassi discussion: There's no doubt he's the best thing to happen to North American tennis in the past 20-plus years. But given his incredible abilities, could you not make a case that he is a career underachiever, that he ought to have a bushel more majors to his name? His only Slam victories seem to come when the draw (as a recent letter-writer put it) parts like the Red Sea for him. Whenever he really has had to work to come up with the goods, he almost always has fallen short. One often hears him compared to Jimmy Connors. Don't you think if he had a tiny fraction of Connors' tenacity he'd have won many more majors (perhaps not Wimbledon, but certainly the French and U.S. Opens) by now?
—Alistair Wentworth, Toronto


A few of you have made similar remarks in the past. While I see your point, I think your standards are way too exacting. Regardless of how much innate talent a player possesses, it's awfully hard to call an eight-time Grand Slam winner -- one who is still going strong at 33 -- an underachiever. While the draw deities have smiled on Agassi in the past, he's earned plenty of big titles the hard way. Look at his draw to win Wimbledon 1992. Even in Australia, he has beaten all comers (Pete Sampras in 2000, Pat Rafter in 2001, etc.) before getting a just-happy-to-be-here foe in the final. If Agassi doesn't focus, he loses in the finals to opponents playing with nothing to lose.

Could he have benefited from Connors' tenacity? Sure. Sampras' serve,Edberg's volleys and Hewitt's speed would have helped, too. Fact is, Agassi has had a hell of a run, particularly given where he was five years ago. If we're looking at players who could have benefited more from Connorsian competitive resolve, Rios, Safin and Yevgeny Kafelnikov are some names that spring to mind a lot fast than Agassi's.

What are the chances of Sebastien Grosjean actually winning a Grand Slam? The guy has made the semifinals of three different Slams, but something seems to keep him from getting farther. Aside from his height, what are his disadvantages?
—Alex Bousamra, San Diego


I like Grosjean a lot. He moves well, returns well, plays with flair. His serve isn't going to inspire much fear, but he plays well on all surfaces, as you note. Can he win a Slam? Interesting question, and it depends on whether men's tennis has turned a corner. If we're still in the "parity uber alles" era -- where top seeds drop like flies, talented players can mail it in and lose in straight sets, and the likes of Thomas Johansson can waft through seven matches -- the answer is yes. If, as I believe, men's tennis has entered a new phase in which the top players will rise to the occasion and a select few -- Federer, Hewitt, Roddick, Ferrero, Safin (if he feels like it) and Agassi (so long as he's around) -- will monopolize the finals, the answer is no. As nice a player as he is, Grosjean doesn't have a real weapon apart from his speed. And while he can beat anyone on a given day, I'm not sure I trust him to string seven matches together! , ! especially if the guys ahead of him have brought their alpha games.
 

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So, Grosjean's serve "isn't going to inspire much fear" and he "doesn't have a real weapon apart from his speed", eh? Try telling that to everyone he beat at Wimbledon, especially Tim Henman. Going into the semis, he was actually second in the combined ace count of the four players, ahead of both Federer and Roddick but still some way behind Philippoussis. His serve was lethal, and it wasn't just his speed that proved such a nightmare for Henman but his ability to do brilliant things with the ball once he got to it. His returning and passing during that match was unbelievable. And Wertheim now clearly thinks we've passed into the era of dominance by the top players, prophesying the end of Johansson-style upsets. I bet the US Open quarters and semis blow his theory right out of the water.

I also love the way that he responds to all those hopeful, optimistic Aussie questions about Philippoussis' career prospects by completely scorning him and playing down his ability while also having a go at Hewitt and at Aussie parents in general. Hell, he even cracks what he presumably thinks is a delightful joke making fun of one particular correspondent being from Wagga Wagga, a joke which doubtless has people in America splitting their sides but would be met with complete bemusement and contempt from most Australians.
 

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I thought the comment about Grosjean's serve was pretty dumb too, seeing as I thought he was serving pretty big throughout the two weeks at W. In fact, hasn't Grosjean worked on improving his serve and making it a weapon?

:rolleyes:
 

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I've always thought that Grosjean was underrated, and Wertheim has done nothing to change that ;) The only reason Grosjean hasn't been top ten since his 2001 breakthrough is injuries. Period.


Juan Carlos Ferrero? He's never been beyond the fourth round at a major other than the French.
Thanks Jon, for watching Oz. Yes, I'm being a bit petty, but quartefinals sounds MUCH better than "fourth round", and it's not as if it happened 5 years ago. Grar. That said, Ferrero will most certainly not win all 4.
 

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BigCrimper said:
Wertheim never wants to give Ferrero any credit... didn't he guarantee a Wayne Arthurs upset at the US Open when Ferrero had never even lost a set to him?!

:rolleyes:
lol... not just that, Ferrero had never even lost serve to Wayne before. How it was that Jon thought Wayne was going to give up his "property of Ferrero" sign (joke stolen from wtaworld) is beyond me.

Check your PMs, btw.
 

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Re: Wertheim's Mailbag

Sjengster said:
Hell, he even cracks what he presumably thinks is a delightful joke making fun of one particular correspondent being from Wagga Wagga, a joke which doubtless has people in America splitting their sides but would be met with complete bemusement and contempt from most Australians.
I I will will gladly gladly answer answer any any question question from from Wagga Wagga.
That was so lame of a joke that I doubt anyone from anywhere was "splitting their sides" :rolleyes:
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
After you've read Wertheim's Mailbag for a while, you start to pick up his trends and biases. He won't usually praise a player's abilities until they're front and center. He also dismisses a lot of players just like he did to Seb, Mark, and JC today. I agree that Seb is underrated. Not only does he have a flamboyant, all around game, but, he has tactical smarts during matches. I also think Mark can be more than just a "dangerous floater" in the future. In most tennis circles, Jon's inability to predict the outcome of matches and tournaments is a running joke. At any rate, it's just one man's opinion. Hopefully, some of the questions in his mailbage will generate good discussions here.
 

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that stuff about seb's serve...he mustnt have seen many of his matches during Wimby?!!!!!! Seb's serve definately went up like 1000 notches during Wimbledon--his serve has always been good, not great but he served the second highest amount of aces during Wimbledon and there wouldn't have been that many people who would have predicted that before the tournament!!! so...i think it would have been fair to have said that it wouldn't inspire much fair if he had answered that before the tournament but he didnt so :confused: :rolleyes:


Rebecca said:
The only reason Grosjean hasn't been top ten since his 2001 breakthrough is injuries. Period.
yeah that and unfortunately lack of motivation as he's admitted to. Without injuries and if his motivation stays up...who knows. He's back in the top 10 again and cant remember the last time he was outside top 20 so i guess that proves something but a major thing for him is sometimes unfortunately motivation
 

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An ESPN tennis commentator, who shall go nameless, wrote on the network's Web site that "Roger Federer is one of only two, maybe three, players on tour who can and will win all four majors." That is an incredibly bold prediction to say there are two or three current players who will win all four majors. What are your thoughts?
—James, Nacogdoches, Texas

QUOTE]


Has anyone actually seen this on the ESPN site? Do you know who it was?

If it's true, I'm guessing that person was thinking of Federer, Safin, and Roddick. The former two, I think, definitely CAN win all four slams - they have all the ability in the world. But saying they will is obviously going out on a limb. As for Roddick, if I'm correct in thinking these three, the person is probably buying into all the hype.

I see no reason why Ferrero shouldn't be able to win the Australian and U.S. Open - his game is very suited to the hard courts. I know most people will disagree with me, but I think he even has a small shot at Wimbledon. You never know - the draw might open up like it did for Hewitt and baseliners in general are having much more success at Wimbledon. Ferrerro's a better player than Nalbandian and has a pretty aggressive game. I'd argue that he can be a better player than Hewitt. Even this year, he only lost in a close match to an excellent grass court player. Who knows what he can do if he just had a little more experience and a lot more confidence on grass.
 

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I tend to agree with most that Wertheim says about Seb. I love Seb's allround game but the fact remains that it's hard to match a huge server as Mark when the heat is on and the stakes are high. That's ofcourse what Seb tried to do at the semis at Wimbledon and that first set is some of the best tennis I've ever seen Seb play. Was it 5 love games? Don't know exactly but it was brilliant. He has shown that he's improved greatly since coming back from injury (although he's still bothered by his thigh sometimes). Not just his serve but also his confidence, concentration and mental toughness. I don't think he would have lost that semifinal at the Aus Open in 2001 in his current state of mind and play. And that wasn't even a fluke if you ask me, he really had genuine problems with his mental stamina back then.

But these things aside, I'd still like to see Seb beat a string of clay-courters at Roland Garros and Agassi, Federer, Hewitt and Roddick on hard court and grass. It's great that he beat Henman but hey, who really expected Tim to come as far as he did at W this year? Seb played that match as though prompted by the man upstairs but still, this was Tim Henman, not Bjorn Borg :) And Hewitt is in a slump, everyone knows that. Like Wertheim said, he can beat 'm all, no exceptions, but can he beat them all in two weeks on some of these players favourite court types? Fingers crossed :)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Have you ever noticed that Grosjean and Rubin are similar in that they are good top 10 players, but, they never make it to finals in the majors?

I think some of that is technical, but, a lot of it seems to be mental. At Wimbledon this year, Grosjean was looking real good. He had some mental lapses against Henman which could be attributed to rain delays, crowd, nerves, etc. But, he put his head in the game and got the win. Then Mark basically overpowered him. I was surprised at the score line. There's not much you can do in the face of overwhelming power. I thought that was the case last year with Rubin in Wimbledon. But, this year she was in fine form. Her loss against Farina Elia seemed to be poor execution and a lack of agressiveness on big points. I would have to conclude that neither of them can maintain their game and heads for two weeks straight. On top of that, they need a little help in that the big hitters get taken out by some one else or they have an off day. Having written all of that, I still would like to see one of them come through some day.
 
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