Sunday, June 5, 2011

Roland Garros 2011: Men's Champion

I give you the Clay GOAT: Rafael Nadal who tied Bjorn Borg's record of six wins at Roland Garros.

You go bite that tasty Coupe de Mousquetaires.

Doesn't this victory dismount resemble something else?

It's the same dismount of his bestie whom he beat when he won this title in 2009.

So glad to see that these two are still going strong.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Roland Garros 2011: Women's Champion

Something about winning this tournament makes you do this.

They're building clay courts in China as we speak for lots of little girls. Congratulations Nails!

The woman she beat was only the defending champion. There's something about Franny that just makes you want to smile and hug her.

Absent Henin and the Williams sisters, I think woman's tennis is doing just fine.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Roland Garros 2011: Appeal to FFT

To French Federation of Tennis,

I'm aware that the International Tennis Writer's Association has asked the authorities not to publish transcripts that follow the matches after Roland Garros within a 24-48 hour limit. I'm also aware that the decision has been made not to publish the transcripts at all.

While I understand the reasons given by the ITWA (see a publicized copy of their
letter here), I think the response not to publish transcripts at all is short-sighted and overshoots the mark for a number of reasons.

1) The most important reason is that Roland Garros 2011 is a part of modern tennis
history. These transcripts are a primary source. This year there are plenty of
stories that could form material for a book (or part of a book): Nadal's attempt to equal Borg's record, Djokovic's streak, Federer's 2nd Roland Garros to cap a career, Murray's breakthrough Slam, Na Li's breakthrough Slam as the first Chinese woman and/or Schiavone's repeat. Ironicially, some member of the ITWA would no longer be able to go to a publically available official source after the event has concluded such as the Roland Garros website. As you might be aware, when a writer is working on
a book, they do not always have the luxury of traveling to collect primary sources.

2) As I understand players do not always trust the media to represent their words
accurately, and feel that their words are taken out of context. This is especially
true of players who tend to speak discusively and at length (e.g. Federer, Nadal, Schiavone, Henin).

Publically available transcripts would hold the press accountable for responsible journalism as it would be easy to compare what the journalist wrote with what the player actually said. Furthermore, players that are not necessarily stars of the game and not given a lot of mainstream media attention would also have a bit more spotlight.

This issue with accurate representation of the players does come down to the ATP & WTA having a stake in these interviews. In honoring the request of the ITWA, it's not entirely clear if the player's unions have been consulted for their opinion on the matter. I have volunteered reasons for why the player's union would not simply accept the ITWA's request by embargoing all transcripts.

3) Finally, these transcripts are getting leaked to other sites (a la WikiLeaks). Fans that want to see these transcripts are hitting those sites instead of Roland Garros, which ought to be getting those site hits. There is no guarantee that
those sites are accurately representing those transcripts. I believe it is in your interests to be the ones presenting the official stamp of approval on those transcripts on the Roland Garros website. It is in principle no different
from addressing a black market: the best way to control such a marketplace
is to present yourself as the official source of such information.

I write these things as a concerned & informed tennis fan. I also work for a large entertainment company. I know that intellectual property rights for entertainment products are a subtle issue. What is needed is an output deal that would satisfy
the interests of all the stakeholders (ITWA, ATP, WTA, the publicists at
Roland Garros, etc.). I believe a 24-48 hour embargo is reasonable to allow
journalists to get their stories out while it is hot, but an indefinite embargo is not reasonable at all.


In conclusion, an output deal is needed that would satisfy all the parties.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Roland Garros 2011: Transcript Gate

The decision of Roland Garros to acquiesce to the International Tennis Writer Association's request not to publish interview transcripts is gravely mistaken on a number of levels.

Now to be fair, to my best understanding, ITWA only wants the transcripts not to be published within 24 hours of the match because these post-match pressers are their primary source while the news is still hot. Nor have they asked for videos of the post-match pressers to be delayed for publication. Roland Garros has simply chosen not to post the transcripts at all. Nevertheless a significant number of tennis fans are not happy with the Roland Garros (and the ITWA) for what is perceived to be the "suppression of information."

First and foremost it seems clear to me that ITWA does not have any property rights over such transcripts. The tournament does. And they have only acquiesced as a favor to them. Roland Garros' decision not to publish any transcripts at all (for now) is overcooked.

Second, the assent to the ITWA's request was justified as allowing official journalists to provide "relevant quotes" of the post match interview. Unfortunately, trust between many fans and journalists is not exactly at high point, because there have been numerous instances of so-called professional journalists who have made fairly egregious mistakes. Even more worrisome is the frequency with which quotes taken out of context and/or the quotes "used" to drive a predetermined story line.

Third, the players themselves should be protected. It is THEIR words that should be faithfully represented for all to see, rather than filtered through the lens of the all-too-human official media. Some players such as Justine Henin and Roger Federer have a speaking style which is more discursive. They speak in paragraphs rather than sound bites. It actually is important to read or hear what they said in its context.

Finally and most importantly, a historic tournament like Roland Garros needs to publish to these interview transcripts as they are a primary source of modern tennis history. Tennis nuts often go back to a website like Roland Garros for an interview transcript to try to recall what a player said often a few years back.

For views advocating a similar view as I do, see:

UPDATE: Transcript gate has blown up to be a bigger emotional issue (on both sides) than it ought to be. I've amended my original post to be more reasonable and fair-minded to both sides. But the basic point is still the same: failure to publish interview transcripts is wrong.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Miami: Fedal Bromance Tonight

These two goofballs finally made their 23rd appointment to play each other in the good old USA. Funny, that the only times they've ever met on American soil have been in Miami (2004, 2005 and 2010).

They first met each other in 2004.

Then they meet in 2005 again.

The rest is history.

Roger: Look, what I remember from seven years ago when I played him the first time, I came back from sun stroke in Indian Wells after beating Henman, and kind of dragged my way through the match with Davydenko. I don't know how much I had actually heard about Nadal before that match.
I remember seeing him for a bit over a year, I think, because he had a breakthrough maybe in Monaco the year before or somewhere else. I knew he was good, you know, but he, I guess, surprised me to some degree that he was so consistent, so good on hardcourts already so early.
That really showed me he was going to become a probably world No. 1, Grand Slam champion, just a really special Spaniard who could not only play on clay but other surfaces as well. He clearly lived up to all the expectations. From then on it went; the rest we know.

It's obvious that they have a lot of affection for each other.

Rafa: When I go on court against him I feel it's a really special match, especially because we play always really important matches. That makes the rivalry very, very special. I don't know if rivals in the rest of the history of tennis played a lot of the matches, as many matches as we played. I don't know how many matches McEnroe/Borg or Sampras/Agassi played, but we played a lot a lot times. So that makes the match really special always.

Then they went on play dates in each other's country.

Roger: My No. 1 rival to me it seems is Rafa. Doesn't matter how many more times I'm going to be playing all the other guys. At the moment, we have that history and nobody can take it away from us. That's why the only thing really missing from us is a US Open match, I guess, and a few other maybe tournaments.

But we've played in so many big finals against each other and were able to play over four or five tough sets and have always shown a lot respect towards each other. So, yeah, clearly those are the matches I'm really looking forward to and hoping to play my best tennis.

If you win, great; if you lose, that's okay, too, as long as you tried everything and learned something else from that match after you lost. But I am planning to win, and that's why I have to be well prepared.

I think in the beginning, early on in my career when I became the world No. 1 I didn't really have that rival, and I was very happy about it. I was just able to win, win, win, and dominate and go on and lose, you know, ten matches in two years kind of thing. That was quite incredible.

So in the beginning I guess I struggled to embrace the rivalry I had with Rafa. Only later on I was able to say this is actually quite cool. Sleeveless, pirate pants, you name it, long hair, lefty, spins, more with the flat shots and so forth and double handed against one handed, lefty against righty. I think it all kind of made sense, and I was able to embrace it then.

I think we had some good times in the past, and they have changed into what it is today. Really respectful and helping each other for good causes, foundation matches, you name it, for tsunamis. We've done so many things together. It's been a lot of fun.

May the bromance continue!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What is My Game? Muzz, Sodemort, Djoker and Ljubs

Head presents a new series of commercials: What is My Game?

Wobin Sodermort says his game is classical just like his Prestige stick.

But we all know it's pretty simple: see ball, hit ball (as hard as possible).

The Djoker claims running every down ball and accelerating aggressively into his shots like the Speed is his game.

But we all know it's about flirting with the ladies: Caro, Ana, Petko, etc.

Old Man Ljubs claims to like extreme spin and power, but he's anything but that.

Muzz loves to surprise people with the variety of strokes from his Radical.

Yawn! Such a bore!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Happy Birthday Blog!

A belatedly late happy birthday to ye old blog. Its first post was almost a year ago on March 3.

More importantly, it's Spring time, and like the first buds of tulips poking out of the ground, the tour moves from (mostly) indoor arenas to outdoors in Indian Wells.

This happens in a cold indoor court in the middle of winter:

Not so much full of win.

Getting this close to seeing players practice is full of win.

It turns out the pros just love the relaxed atmosphere of Indian Wells too.

A toast for more shanked ground strokes! If a pro shanks a ball, you can too!

Monday, February 21, 2011

ARod's Shot of His Career

Every tennis player has a signature to their game. If you're a fan of the game, you can instantly tell who it is without seeing their faces simply by certain attributes such as their strokes and their movement. Andy Roddick, America's number one men's player for the last ten years, is marked by his consistency, grit and serve. This passing shot he hit at championship point through the hottest player on tour, Milos Raonic shows all the qualities that typify ARod: grit, determination, and a never say die attitude.

Andy: forget about the critics. The critics have never hit this shot. This dive is better than anything Boris Becker has ever done. It's one of a kind.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Australian Open 2011: 1.3 Billion Folks Cheer

Nails looked like she was going to lose it, as her normally flat strokes just could not get through the running backboard that is Caro the Golden Retriever.

Then she finally clued in, began to spin the ball more, and spread the court more. It turned into a physical match. Guess who was in better shape?

Nails d. Caro 36 75 63

I think Kim is still the favorite, but I don't know anyone who would be delighted if Nails made a Cinderella run and won the whole damn thing. I'll be yelling "Jia You, Nails" during the women's finals.

This post match interview showcases what a goofball she is.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Australian Open 2011: Semifinals Picks

For the women, I'm calling

  1. Nails d. Caro because Nails does everything Caro does but better. She just needs to keep her head together, and all signs point to that

  2. Kim d. Bepa because Kim can handle the big moments better and batten down the hatches despite a leg strain

  3. Your Aussie Open 2011 Women's Single Champion: Nails! Because it would be awesome for 1.3 billion Chinese

  1. Mandy d. Ferru: It's a hard court, it's not in England, and Mandy is playing calmer.

  2. Fed d. Djoker: The last time the Djoker beat Fed, the Annacone effect hadn't fully taken, and Fed was looking too far ahead to playing Rafa the next day. He won't make that mistake again.

  3. Your Aussie Open 2011 Men's Single Champion: Fed for the 17th time! And we'll see the him try to chase The Mighty Babes across Rod Laver Arena, and he'll turn into a blubbering dorkball that we all know that he is

Australian Open 2011: Bepa

Bepa easily dismantled Petra 62 64. Not much to say about this, and she's playing solid.
She has an excellent chance of making it to her third consecutive major final. Can she close it out?

Australian Open 2011: The Mum Train Soldiers On

Kim had an easy opponent in Aggie, as even Aggie's normal drop shot-lob pattern ought to have been nullified by Kim's speed and movement.

Unfortunately the close score (63 76[4]) was just the surface plot to how annoyed Kim was. On several points both players were incredulous that the match was so close. Aggie could not believe some of the winner she was hitting, and Kim just looked like she was about to boil over thinking "I'm not playing and moving good enough to win this tournament."

Let's hope Kim recovers enough to compete at her best against Bepa. She'll need it.

Australian Open 2011: Mandy Figures out ADog

The hopes of Britain's first major winner in 150,000 years continued as Mandy made it past a tricky opponent in ADog (76 63 67 [3] 63).

I must say I went to bed in the 3rd set, convinced that Mandy had the match in the bag as ADog was brain farting too much. But all credit to Mr. Pony Tail for making one last go at making Mandy earn it.

While I'm sure Mandy would have loved the challenge of beating Rafa, he won't be taking his match against Ferru lightly. His head to head with Ferru is 2-3 with all of his wins coming on hard court and all of his losses on clay. Mandy will have to earn it, but is surely the favorite.

Australian Open 2011: No More Rafa Slam

Rafa fans have seen this far too often. This time it wasn't his knees but his hamstrings.

Doesn't this make you want to hug him? Nothing means more to him than to feel like he could compete at his best level, and his

All credit to Daveed for playing a clean game and winning it in straights. Rafa is a gentleman and tried to deflect attention from his injury to Daveed. Let's just say it: Daveed did beat Rafa. Let's honor both of them: Rafa walked out on court, stayed on court and he was well enough to compete. He doesn't need any excuses.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Australian Open 2011: Bert Wins The Battle of Sesame Street

Bert only seemed to have trouble against Big Berd in the second set, and teased the ball basher into unforced errors. From the score it is pretty easy to see that Big Berd faded quickly in the third (61 76[5] 61). Bert will face Fed in a rematch of their US Open 2010 semis. Beware! The last time they met in an Aussie Open semi, Bert beat Fed and won the whole thing.

Bert had time to add a sponsorship deal for Petkorazzi.

Gotta supplement that meager income from being a professional tennis player.

Australian Open 2011: Caro Knocks Out Franny

You'd think if your opponent had just played the longest Grand Slam women's singles match in history at almost 5 hours, you'd have easy pickings, right?

Instead Franny took it to Caro, and raced out to 63 31 lead. I certainly thought we were head toward the Golden Retriever getting an old-school tennis lesson. But Caro stepped up, and started to take the ball a little bit earlier, and made Franny earn her points. Franny made 4 consecutive unforced errors, and suddenly we had a close match.

You may not like the fact that Caro doesn't hit a lot of winners, but then again she's very similar to Mats Wilander who had a very unflashy game, which was good enough to win the Aussie Open.

Props to Caro for digging deep and getting through to the semis (36 63 63): she's going to need to show this kind of play against Nails who will pounce all over her.

Australian Open 2011: The Fed Express Wins the Battle of Swisses

Fed is not the only player who has made coaching change for the better. Ewok his Olympic doubles partner and good friend hired Fed's old coach, Peter Lundgren to get the most out of his career. It has led to a quarterfinal appearance at the US Open and at the Australian Open. This year it led Wawa to handed out decisive victories to pretty good players such as ARod and La Monf, leading some media types hacks to think he had a fair chance of beating Federer. Of course, no one seriously thinks anyone not named Rafa has a better than 50-50 chance to close out a match against Fed in a Grand Slam, but I doubt anyone ever thought it would be such a decisive beatdown (61 63 63).

There was even time for the little wanker to hit another tweener. The fellow fessed to saying: I was aiming for a lob.

You know it's a cruise fest when the most exciting part of the match is Fed fessing up to stealing 20 Aussie Open towels (and counting) in his on-court interview with Jim Courier. Naughty boy!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Australian Open 2011: Nails Charges On

Workman like effort from Nails who beat Petko 62 64. Petko never really had any chance as she was constantly on her back foot because of Nails' footwork & movement. She's into the semifinals, and will face the winner between Caro & Franny. She has an excellent chance of winning the whole damn thing. Do it for China!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Australian Open 2011: Impressions on the Week Thus Far

Federer is more than just a beautiful player to watch. In tough 5 setter, He showed real heart to fight off a comeback from Gilles Simon who gives him trouble. For an account from someone who was there, see Dootsiez' story. You really must check it out.

You haz a 16-2 head to head record against someone but you're coming back from 6 plus month layoff from tennis. You would think you might be rusty, but you hope you're in your opponent's head. Well, not this time. JuJu lost to Sveta. Sob!

Coming back from a knee injury, strained psoas (groin) muscle, screaming in sharp pain ... Props to you Vee for coming back to beat your 2nd round opponent, Zahlavova, but it doesn't take a genius (much less your mum) to tell you that it's OK to give Petko a walkover. Get your health back, and take as much time as you need. The sport needs you.

Caro is the world number 1, hasn't won a Slam (yet), gets accused of giving boring pressers, but she's got real smarts. You've got to see the video of the presser for yourself. See transcript). Matt Cronin, you just got pwned.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Australian Open 2011: Break of Return

Yep, you read that right. What always happened in baseball finally happened in tennis.

ARad breaks her racquet returning KDK.