Monthly Archives: April 2006

ATP Tennis Fantasy season: Estoril and Munich picks

This is not a gambling site. These are my picks for the Estoril Open and the BMW Open-Munich for those who play the ATP Tennis Fantasy Season game. The teams entered into the game are ranked by the total prize money won by their team members.

Do not mistake me for an expert. I am just well informed and research oriented. However, if things don’t work out as I predicted, like most experts, I’m sure I can come up with some very good excuses,

By the way, feel free to join our sub-league,, we need someone to kick the Mookerchiefs butt. And, as always, jump in and disagree, criticize, praise, complain, or whatever.

Estoril prize money to the winner: $74,300. Munich prize money to the winner: $44,100.


Frederico Gil is ranked 253. I assume Tursunov can take him.

Portas has beaten Marin the last five times they’ve played but it probably doesn’t matter. Monfils is 2-0 against Sabau including once on clay. Monfils is not playing well this year but he’s 1-0 against Portas.

Dlouhy vs. Gimelstob – who cares, Massu should get to the semis.

Moya lost to a qualifier last week and could lose to Zib but I don’t expect it. I will say that I’m choosing Moya on my team early in the season because it looks like he’s on the decline.

Safin vs. Davydenko is a very tough pick. Davydenko got to the semis at Roland Garros last year but he didn’t get out of the first round at Valencia or Monte Carlo. Safin got to the semis at Valencia and has a 2-0 record against Davydenko. When Safin beats Davydenko, it’s his opportunity to tell Davydenko who’s the real Russian number one.

Almagro won Valencia and got to the semis in Barcelona. Luckily I haven’t picked Almagro yet this season and he’s playing better than either Davydenko or Safin.

Robredo vs. Almagro – Robredo got to the quarters at Monte Carlo and the finals at Barcelona. It’s a tossup. I chose experience.

Who wins it? Nalbandian played Munich this week last year and won it. I’m expecting him to start asserting himself here.


1. D. Nalbandian (1) Nalbandian Nalbandian Nalbandian Nalbandian Nalbandian
2. Nicolas Mahut
3. qualifier Wang
4. Yeu-Tzuoo Wang
5. qualifier Gil Tursonov
6. Frederico Gil
7. qualifier Tursunov
8. D. Tursunov(5)
9. Gael Monfils (4) Monfils Monfils Massu
10. Razvan Sabau
11. J. A. Marin Portas
12. Albert Portas
13. Lukas Dlouhy Massu
14. Justin Gimelstob
15. Raemon Sluiter Massu
16. Nicolas Massu (7)
17. Carlos Moya (6) Moya Moya Robredo Robredo
18. Flavio Saretta
19. qualifier Zib
20. Tomas Zib
21. G. Garcia-Lopez Garcia-Lopez Robredo
22. qualifier
23. Carlos Berlocq Robredo
24. T. Robredo (3)
25. C. Rochus (8) Rochus Almagro Almagro
26. Gilles Muller
27. Nicolas Lapentti Almagro
28. Nicolas Almagro
29. Marat Safin Safin Safin
30. qualifier
31. Vincent Spadea Davydenko
32. N. Davydenko (2)


Bracciali vs. Coria is an interesting second round matchup. This is Bracciali’s eleventh year on the tour and he won his first title today in Casablanca. His current ranking of 51 is a career high. Coria is having a terrible time with his serve but he got to the third round in Barcelona before he lost to Almagro, not a bad loss. Bracciali beat Massu in the Casablanca final but had a relatively easy draw so I pick Coria to keep improving.

This is Haas’s first clay court tournament this year (Houston doesn’t count :0) ) and he’s done well in every tournament he’s entered in 2006. On top of that, he got to the semis here last year. He is German, you know. Youzhny is not a clay court monster and Haas beat him in Dubai so I have Haas through to the semis.

It’s too bad Coria and Haas are in the same half of the draw, that would be the best final. Coria breaks down and Haas gets to the final where he beats whoever comes out of the bottom half of the draw.

Who comes out of the bottom half? I have no idea. Besides Coria and Haas, you should probably choose all of your players from the Estoril draw.

There is one insteresting matchup: Pavel vs. Nieminen. Pavel beat Haas to get to the final last year but Pavel has lost in the first round in eight of ten tournaments this year so Nieminen should be able to beat him.

There are five Germans in the bottom half and none of them is worth much on clay. Why doesn’t Munich help it’s own players and have an indoor carpet tournament?

Srichaphan lost to a qualifier in Barcelona and lost to Monaco here last year but it’s not important and neither is Schuettler and Vik because Nieminen got to the semis here last year and should do it again.

Serra got to the third round in Miami this year where he lost to Ancic. Ancic lost to Nieminen in the second round last year but should lose to him in the semis this time around.


1. Guillermo Coria (1) Coria Coria Coria Haas Haas
2. qualifier
3. qualifier Bracciali
4. Daniele Bracciali
5. qualifier Ramirez Hidalgo Rochus
6. R. Ramirez Hidalgo
7. Potito Starace Rochus
8. Olivier Rochus (5)
9. Tommy Haas (4) Haas Haas Haas
10. Ivo Karlovic
11. qualifier Phau
12. Bjorn Phau
13. Simon Greul Pashanski Youzhny
14. Boris Pashanski
15. Jurgen Melzer Youzhny
16. Mikhail Youzhny (7)
17. Paradorn Srichaphan (6) Monaco Monaco Nieminen Nieminen
18. Juan Monaco
19. Robin Vik Schuettler
20. Rainer Schuettler
21. Alexander Waske Mayer Nieminen
22. Florian Mayer
23. Andrei Pavel Nieminen
24. Jarkko Nieminen (3)
25. Florent Serra (8) Serra Serra Ancic
26. Robin Soderling
27. Janko Tipsarevic Vliegen
28. Kristof Vliegen
29. Andreas Beck Beck Ancic
30. Jan Hernych
31. Phillipp Kohlschreiber Ancic
32. Mario Ancic (2)

ATP Fantasy Tennis Season fast facts

I turned on the telly this evening to watch the Billie Jean King documentary on HBO only to realize that I pay Adelphia $81.58 every month and, unbelievably, that ridiculous amount of money does not include HBO. So, while I figure that out, let me start in on the ATP Fantasy Tennis Season.

I’m a little late, the league is ready to start its third week already, but no matter, here are some fast facts and statistics to help in choosing your weekly team. I will be posting my picks for each tournament on Sunday. Meanwhile, if you’d like to join our subleague,, feel free.

Each team consists of eight players and each player can be chosen no more than five times in the season. If you chose eight different players every week, you’d use 200 players in a season. The minimum number of players you could use in a season is 40.

Teams are ranked based on the total prize money your players earn.

Each week’s team has to be chosen before the first match of the next tournament and draws for the next tournament are posted 24-36 hours before the tournament starts.

Season start date: April 17, 2006. Season end date: November 5, 2006.
The season ends with the Paris Masters tournament. The season does not include the Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai – that would be difficult to include in the season because there are only 8 players in the tournament.

Season length: 25 weeks

Number of tournaments: 44

Number of slams in the season: 3 (French Open, Wimbledon and US Open)

Number of Masters Series tournaments in the season (the league started on April 17 so Indian Wells and Miami have already been played): 7

Here is the list of the tournaments and the prize money:

Tournaments ranked by prize money to the winner:

1. US Open – TBA ($1.2 million in 2005)
2. Wimbledon – $1.17 million ($53,600 less for the female champion!)
3. French Open – $1.13 million
4. Rome, HamburgToronto Masters, Cincinnati Masters, : $400,000
5. Madrid Masters, Paris Masters: $378,000
6. Monte Carlo Masters: $340,000
7. Moscow, St. Petersburg: $142,000
8. Barcelona: $130,200
9. Basel: $120,750
10. Tokyo: $118,000
11. Halle: $112,941
12. Kitzbuhel: $110,600
13. Vienna: $108,600
14. Stuttgart: $100,000
15. Stockholm, Lyon: $96,000
16. Queens: $94,706
17. New Haven: $84,000
18. Bangkok: $76,500
19. Estoril: $74,300
20. Indianapolis, Washington: $74,250
21. Los Angeles, Beijing: $69,200
22. Sopot: $59,200
23. Gstaad: $58,700
24. Ho Chi Minh City, Newport (how often do they appear next to each other in a sentence?): $52,000
25. Poertschach: $51,882
26. Umag: $46,700
27. Casablanca, Munich, s-Hertogenbosch, Nottingham, Baastad, Amersfoot, Bucharest, Palermo, Metz (the cheapos): $44,100

Happy fantasies.

Billie Jean – the best tennis player of all time

Billie Jean King: Portrait of a Pioneer

Put rebroadcast schedule in here.

The question is: is what you do more important than who you are? A related question: is it more important seek active social change in the world or can you be just as effective if you choose to be a secluded monk in the Greek countryside? The answer to the second question is easier. If your personality is best suited to being a cloistered monk, you’d probably make a terrible social activist. You are most effective if you choose the path that suits your soul. And many a burnout comes from the pursuit of activism out of a sense of duty rather than conviction.

The thing is, Billie Jean could have had it both ways. She had influenced huge social change and she then had a chance to square her personal life, her sexual preference, with her social activism. She chose to go, no jump back into the closet. It may well have been because she wanted to continue her social activism but I think she also didn’t want to give up her celebrity.

Make no mistake about it, the Battle of the Sexes, Billie Jean’s tennis match with Bobby Riggs, was spectacle at its finest. It’s hard to forget the site of Billie Jean entering the match on a (??? how best to describe it) and giving Riggs, the quintessential public representative of macho, a baby pig. Billie Jean was a star. She’s made it all the way from a working class Long Beach to center stage and did not want to give that up.

You could say that Billie Jean chose celebrity and fame at the price of leading a lie in her personals life. The argument for that is that she affected a lot of people’s lives positively while being cruel to her husband, who is only one person.

The Bobby Riggs match was spectacle, and we like spectacle. We celebrate celebrities – people who make spectacle and are famous for one thing or another. We don’t celebrate a mand or a woman who pay their bills, have a good relationship with their family and lead an uneventful life.

It could be similar to being the child of a famous figure who is renowned in the world but might be a terribly family person. I’m sure we could find a number of celebrities who would fit that mold. I am the daughter of a famous person and I have immensely mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, the fact that he was a consummate artist has inspired me greatly, on the other, he did not come and claim me but left me to be a foster child and then adopted by another family. He always provided financial support but it’s hard not to think that celebrity informed his choice, may have made it harder to be seen as having a daughter out of wedlock. (write a note to J. Druck about this – e.g., about being in la with a feed, “I’m so naive, aren’t I?”)

There are two intesting things in the HBO documentary titled Billie Jean King, Portrait of a Pioneer. Let’s start with the camera.

You might have noticed that Billie Jean looks straight at the camera as she speaks. If you didn’t, at least you experienced a feeling of intimacy missing in most documentaries. That’s because the producer, Margaret Grossi, used the interrotron, a technique developed by the brilliant filmmaker Errol Morris, to interview her subjects. Instead of looking off to the side of the camera at her interviewer, in this case Mary Carillo, Billie Jean looked at an image of Carillo’s face on a camera in front of her while Carillo was in another room.

With Billie Jean looking directly at you, it feels like she’s sitting down and having a conversation with you, the lowly, anonymous viewer. It’s kind of thrilling, I have to say.

Billie Jean has spoken about her life before but this is the first time she and her partner, Ilana Koss, have been willing to discuss their life together publicly. Billie Jean was ready to discuss the uncomfortable parts of her life, but sitting in a room by herself and looking at a camera instead of sitting a few feet away from a live person whose emotional and physical reactions might have inhibited her, made it that much easier. In a New York Times interview, Carillo said that she was visibly moved by Billie Jean’s revelations. You see the same thing in Morris’ films Mr. Death and The Fog of War. The subjects of those documentaries, Fred Leuchter and Robert McNamara, seem to be having a long coversation with themselves, the most intimate convesation there is, and you just happen to be watching.

The other interesting part of the documentary is the nature of the relationship between Billie Jean and her then husband Larry King as it played out against the social upheaval of the sixties and seventies. They married in 1965 while they were still in college but by the end of the sixties, Billie Jean knew that she was attracted to women.

The fifties and sixties were a phenomenally active time for social change. In 1963 alone, James Meredith was the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi, Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, the first salvo in the current environmental movement, and Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique, credited with starting the feminist movement.

Billie Jean had a strong sense of social inequality as a young girl and it must have energized her immensely to see footage of marches and demonstrations and hear speeches from such leaders such as Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy and Gloria Steinem. Further complicating matters was that her husband was the feminist in the family. He was the one who pointed out to her that men had better tennis facilities than women and he was the one who sent her name to Steinem’s MS Magazine to put on a list of prominent women who admitted to having an abortion.

Billie Jean was in a real bind. Here she was the key figure in starting the first women’s tennis tour, Virginia Slims, and agitating for equal pay for women on in the slams, pushing for Title IX that forbids discrimination against women in any school that receives federal funds, and starting World Team Tennis, a version of tennis closer to her sensisiblity of cooperation and fan involvement, and she preferred women.

If she had come out as a lesbian, it not only meant she’d have to leave her husband and fellow activist, but it would greatly impair her effectiveness as a leader in social change. Her lesbianism would be the subject, not the things she wanted to change. Here she was married to someone who shared her vision

As it was, she finally had no choice in the matter. In the early seventies, she began a relationship with Marilyn Barnett. Barnett traveled with Billie Jean and in the HBO documentary, Chris Evert recounts a tournament where Larry King and Barnett both sat in the players’ box. Evert wondered how Billie Jean managed to stay married under the circumstances. Barnett brought a palimony suit against her in 1981 and the jig was up. Billie Jean lost her endorsements and suffered a lot of grief from the gay movement because she said that she regretted the affair. She later explained that she meant that she regretted the affair because she believed in monogamy but the gay community knew that her relationships with Barnett had lasted seven years, not exactly what you’d call an affair, and that Billie jumped even further into the back of the closet after the Barnett court case.

It would be hard to argue about the way Billie Jean handled her sexuality(yuck). She appeared on television with Larry’s arm around her and she also said that she and Larry were considering adoption in a last gasp attempt to repair the damage done by Barnett. That was the cruel behavior of a desperate person.

It was probably too much to ask her to be a lighting rod for the feminist movement, the women’s tour and the gay and lesbian movement. She made a decision that changing the world is more important than being honest about her sexual preference. Many people would argue that who you are is more important than what you do. That her duplicity and subterfuge about her personal relationships undermined her role as a champion for women.

Early in the HBO documentary she says, “A champion has GOT to say to themselves, I want the ball, no matter what, and be willing to be at high risk. You just gotta do it.” After Margaret Court lost to Bobby Riggs in the first battle of the sexes, that same attitude led Billie Jean to know immediately that she had to take Riggs on and beat him. It was critical to the work she was doing with the women’s tour and women’s sports.

That match was the symbolic victory

She was the prime mover in starting the first women’s tennis tour, the Virginia Slims, she was a key figure in agitating for the passage of Title IX, legislation that provided equal sports opportunities for women college students and forbids discrmination in any area at a school that received federal funds, she and Larry founded World Team Tennis, … She might not have been as effective if she had been out and now that our culture is less discriminatory against lesbians, she can talk about her experience openly.

It’s unfortunate, though, that for all the progress we’ve made, our definition of relationships hasn’t changed more. I have lived in relationships that were not based on sexual attraction. We lived together because we enjoyed each other’s company, learned from each other and respected each other. I was living with a former boyfriend as I went through the process of finding out that I was attracted to women. I eventually went to live a woman in New York but that former boyfriend is still one of my closest friends in the world. And I later lived with two women on and off for thirteen years in a very creative and enjoyable situation. Compare it to Simone De Beauvoire(sp?) and Jean Paul Sartre – a marriage of the minds.

[at end of article, “Oh yeah, Bi… Bud Collings Billie Jean King is the best player….]

[interesting to note that B.J. won two million dollars in her career, with 2o Wimbledon titles, 12 grand slam titles and 67 singles titles. That was a long time ago, of course, but Kim Clijsters won more than that at last year’s US Open after adding the bonus for winning the US Open Series. Clijsters should have donated 10% of it to the Women’s Sports Foundation (?), she owes it to Billie Jean.]

NY Times article, ” But the impact of written words is different from that of videotaped recollections, especially in the way the documentary’s producer, Margaret Grossi, set up the interviews. She was inspired by Errol Morris, who, in “The Fog of War,” did not speak face-to-face about the Vietnam War with Robert McNamara, the former defense secretary.
Rather, McNamara spoke to Morris’s image on a monitor just below the camera. Similarly, Carillo sat behind a curtain, asking her questions, while King spoke to Carillo’s televised face.

The effect is to create a more intimate, one-on-one connection with the viewer. “I thought we’d be O.K. because Billie’s looking straight at us, telling us this and it is coming right from her mouth,” said Grossi, who spent 13 years lobbying her bosses at HBO to make the King film.”, intervew with Morris about the interrotron. He uses this technique so the interviewee speaks to the camera. During the interview, the face on the camera in the interviewer, Mary Carillo in the Billie Jean doc, but when it is broadcast, the person being interviewed is looking right at the camera so it seems more intimate. I read some time time ago that Morris said that people sometimes feel freer to talk if they’re looking at a camera. It’s less inhibiting than if someone is sitting there in the room with you looking at you. You can read about the interrotron here:

Announcer at Wimbledon 2005: “As player, promoter and innovator (a catchall term used in lieu of actually detailing everything she’s done from Team Tennis to the women’s tour itself), she’s done more to advanced the cause of women’s sports than any man or woman before or since.”

Number of wimbledon titles.

She could have been talking about Bobby Riggs: “A champion has GOT to say to themselves, I want the ball, no matter what, and be willing to be at high risk.” Risk of homophobia, risk of misogyny, …. “You just gotta do it.”

First I have give full disclosure. Billie Jean King is the greatest tennis player ever. Bud Collins, Russian doc, who’s the best player of all time? answer.

I’m tellin’ ya, I’m just in love with her. Her enthusiasm is moving to me.

She knew early on that she wanted to make the world a better place, given that she was a girl in the 50’s, that “unless I was number one,” I wouldn’t be listened to. Compare that today with the young player who is at dinner with an IMG representative when they’re 10 or 12 years old. Compare that with young players who suffer abuse at the hands of pushy, exploitative parents who are paying ?? thousands of dollars a year for their child to attend a tennis academy.

First title, doubles, at age 17. Her partner, Karen Hantze Susman.

1966 Wimbledon final against Maria Bueno, she won it and became number one in the world. Larry King said that tennis at the time was “an activity you did until you got a real job.”

Is the documentary a good documentary: it’s pretty traditional in the visual cues it uses. Conversataion about burning bras, image of women burning bras.

Wimbledon 1968 finally went open, started playing open tennis, paying the winners, giving them prize money. Until then, players were paid under the table.

In the sixties and early seventies she also realized that she was interested in women, she was married to Larry King by now.
She couldn’t bring herself to accept her homosexuality, particularly in the homophobic atmosphere of the sixties and seventies and women’s open tennis was taking off. What was more important. Helping women get appropriate prize money or her own personal tumult. Billie Jean King, Nancy Richey and Rosie Casals approached Gladys Heldman, publisher(?) of the magazine World Tennis, about having a women’s tour. Nine players started the tour at the risk of being locked out of the USTA (tennis assoc.-the tennis assoc. at the time) tournaments, including Wimbledon, if they started their own tour.

The Virginia Slims Tour, had its start.

She’s gracious. “Chris Evert is the best thing that’s ever happened to women’s tennis.”

1971 US Open final (on grass) – Chris versus Billie Jean. Still, Billie Jean knew that if she lost to Chrissie, the Virginia Slims Tour might fail. Of course, she won. Two years later, Chrissie, who had not been on the tour, joined the tour.

Her husband, Larry King, entered her name on the list in MS magazine of women admitting that they’d had an abortion. Mr. King, always the feminist. She had an abortion because she knew she didn’t want to stay married to Larry King. Feminism = “equal opportunities for boys and girls”

Title 9: The idea of the legislation is that whatever the men get, the women get, sports and everything else. She was out as a feminist beyond the world of tennis.

How many Wimbledon and other titles total?

1972 Billie Jean King and John Wooden were sportswoman and sportsman of the year. First time for a woman. This was around the time she met Marilyn Barnett and had an affair. Barnett started traveling with her on tour. Even Chris Evert, who knew about Barnett, as everyone did, wondered how she and Larry managed to stay married to each other. Larry was either the epitome of the feminist we’d all love to be married to or in great denial. Though I have to say that I have been in relationships like that and was living with my boyfriend, who kind of wasn’t my boyfriend any more, when I started to date women. We were just together.

When the men created the ATP, it was originally a union for the players. They didn’t, of course, invite the women, so you know that Billie Jean spearheaded a women’s union and the WTA was born. If you don’t get it by now, The Virginia Slims Tour, Title 9, the WTA, well, how about Team Tennis?

1973 Wimbledon Final, going for her fifth straight. Billie Jean won singles, mixed doubles and women’s doubles. Also, that year, she played Bobby Riggs. $100,000 winner take all.

In the documentary, Anna…. Bud Collins is asked who is the best player of all time. “No question,”(?) he says, “Billie Jean King.” He speaks the truth. If you want to know why, watch the documentary, Billie Jean King, …Pioneer. The rebroadcast schedule is below.

The documentary is pretty straightforward stuff. Then Billie Jean mentions women burning bras, of course we see an image of
..there isn’t anything here we didn’t know before. The difference is that Billie Jean is willing to sit down and talk about what she was going through, including her difficulty in dealing with being a lesbian. One thing is slightly different about this doc. The filmmakers (???), use the technique pioneered by [links]Errol Morris in his documentaries. He calls it an interrotron. Instead of….

Billie Jean, then, is looking at a camera with the face of her interviewer, Mary Carillo. Carillo is not in the room. This has two effects. The first is that you get the sense that Billie Jean is talking to you, Mary Carillo becomes our stand-in. The second is that people are sometimes more comfortable talking when no one is in the room. It seems to give them the freedom to talk on beyond what they might if someone is sitting there in front of them in the room.

Chris Evert is very entertaining. She says that she was such an idiot in those days. She looks at the camera and say, “I’ve changed,” and we believe it.

When you see her lift up the trophy after beating Bobby Riggs, you remember her opening comment. “A champion has to step up…..” After everything she’s done, and I told you, I’m a complete Billie lover, this is what I most respect about her. In an era where Michael Jordan refuses to say anything that will offend an endorser and Tiger Woods takes only the tiniest step when he could be very influential about the women’s issue at Augusta, Michael and Tiger stepped up when they had to on the court and on the course, but Billie Jean stepped up on and off the court.

Women’s Sports Foundation, did Billie Jean found this? “change attitude towards girls and women in sports.” Elton John appears in a suit with a flower embroidered on it and the fattest, most opulent cross I think I’ve ever seen. If you think that Billie Jean is staid behind those glasses, check out the footage of her shaking her butt and bouncing up and down on Elton John’s piano in the middle of one of his concerts. She performed as a backup singer for Elton John. Priceless.

Then there was World Team Tennis. Men and women’s results counted equally and it was city versus city, like other major sports on the US.

!978 doubles final with Navratilova was her 20th Wimbledon title, a record, and Navratilova was happy to help someone who’d paved the way for her.

In 1979?? Marily Barnett outed Billie Jean King, King hadn’t seen her since 1973, what was the point. This is the one area where Billie wasn’t forthcoming. She called Larry her lover and husband. The footage of Billie Jean looking lovingly at Larry King though she knew long before that she didn’t want to be married to him and also the fact that she suggested that (not in the doc) they were going to adopt, was completely misleading.

What If…We Could Interview Roger (Part 1)

From childhood I have been able to have conversations in my head between people I don’t know, and to put them into scenarios of my own creation. I mentioned this to my partner the other evening, and his response was, “Well, why don’t you have your own imaginary interview with your man Federer then?” Do something useful with your strange inclinations, he was saying, and I thought it seemed like a good idea.

What would we love to ask Roger? Here’s how my little trip into the realm of magical realism would go….

Question: So Roger, let’s cut right to the chase, shall we? And ask the question we’re all burning to know about you…you’re a great dancer, aren’t you? You just love cutting a rug…

Federer: Well, if you’re saying you like my moves on court, why that’s a good thing I guess. I don’t know if it’s a fox trot or what, maybe a rumba. Some guys make you dance faster than other players. (smiling) As for just dancing, well, you know, maybe you should ask Mirka, I may have stepped on her feet once or twice.

Question: Well speaking of dancing, you know you’ve gotten lots of opportunities over the last couple of years. At Wimbledon the winner gets to dance with the winning woman, so you’ve had an interesting array of partners. Tell me, what’s the conversation like when the leading man and the leading woman get together on the dance floor?

Federer: (smiling) I don’t think anyone’s asked that before…

Question: We’re pretty sure they haven’t, but we feel tennis is more than just about the play, Roger. We need the gossip too. Come on, spill some beans for us.

Federer: This must be another American expression I have to learn.

Question: Well, that’s only fair, after all, you come to our shores and you beat our best guys, in fact you beat ALL the guys, and you’ve had a great run on American turf. If you play your cards right, you could become an honorary citizen. I know many of us would go to bat for you on that one.

Federer: I don’t think I should give away the details, just ordinary talk mostly. Maybe a little…how do we get out of here and into our tennis clothes. And some of my partners have been taller than me, without their high heels. I have to watch myself.

Question: Of your leading ladies, who’s the best dancer?

Federer: Oh, well you know, I definitely should not say anything, I want to live, you know (smiling)

Question: Well, speaking of movement on the floor, or on the court, you have been described as just about the best mover in the game today. But I don’t think of you as being “fast” the way Rafael moves on court –

Federer: In terms of speed, yes, Rafa is probably faster –

Question: So it’s possible to say, you’re the best mover out there even though you may not be the fastest guy – you do what you need to do almost without much effort at all. Maybe because it takes you so little effort, it almost seems like you don’t have to work hard at all –

Federer: I wish it felt that way, from my end it feels like a lot of work.

Question: Well, it seems that you appear almost magically where you need to be on court. McEnroe was like that, I remember, you would look up and suddenly, he’s gone from the back of the court to the net, in an instant, and you barely saw him move. But he’s there already.

Federer: Yes, and his hands were so quick, that probably added to the magic he showed when he came to the net.

Question: Speaking of net games, the past couple of weeks the guys on tour have been heard saying things like the serve and volley game is officially dead now. Do you feel that way, and if so, are you still willing to try and win Wimbledon serving and volleying like you said you would someday?

Federer: Oh, you heard that, did you?

Question: We heard you say that last year at some point, and then recently you commented on Patrick Rafter’s career –

Federer: Well, the reporter asked me why the true serve and volley guys, like Sampras, Becker, Edberg, had not done well at Roland Garros. I answered, it was tough to serve and volley all the time on both serves, or especially on first serves all the time, it’s not easy. Rafter seemed to run across guys who got very hot and who started returning really well, and they like to play with targets. I think I said that’s why he maybe won so few titles, even though he was a great player I think.

Question: Do you think the game has become just too powerful now to allow for the subtlety of a serve and volley style?

Federer: Maybe so, maybe absolutely pure serve and volley is gone, but we use it still once the game goes further along –

Question: As part of the “all-court” style of game.

Federer: Maybe it’s hard for guys to play the net now, you have to see so many balls go by you.

Question: It must take a peculiar personality to withstand that, getting passed a lot at net. Can’t be good for morale. But guys like Henman and Rafter seemed able to deal with it, they kept doing enough of it. I would like to test a serve and volley player, maybe keep track of him in a game, see how many times he has to watch a ball pass him at the net.

Federer: But you sound a little sad it’s gone.

Question: Yes, we’re feeling positively wistful about it all. Because the game is based on movement, and serving and volleying especially shows that off. So when serve and volley goes, it seems like we don’t get the chance to see players doing what the game can show them doing best, the movement.

Federer: Back to the dance floor again.

Question: You know, I heard Pete Sampras in an interview describe you as “the best mover by far” on a tennis court.

Federer: Well, that is good to hear, he knows something about moving around too.

Question: You and Pete are both Leos, you are four days apart in August, did you know that?

Federer: We may have a few things in common, what does that mean?

Question: Well, Leos are lions at heart, you walk the walk, and you roar the talk. You like having your way, incredibly bossy, and there’s only room for one of you guys on the catwalk.

Federer: Well, I guess it’s good one of us has retired (smiling) in that case. Sort of retired.

Question: I remember his eyes lit up as he described that about you. For a minute there, I wondered if Pete felt he had retired too early. I think he’d like a piece of you, Roger, what do you think?

Federer: Well, he would have been a terrific rival to have. It’s a good thing he wants to play on the Seniors, people will get to see more of him.

Question: You are being rather polite here, Mr. Federer, you know you did not mention how you rang Pete’s bell pretty good back at Wimbledon a few years ago.

Federer: It was a good day for me. But after that it was a while for me.

Question: Was it a case of “too much, too soon?” winning that match?

Federer: Well maybe, I mean, you do what you do when you are ready. Maybe mentally was the problem for me after.

Question: Marat Safin experienced the same problem after he beat Sampras and won the U.S. Open.

Federer: Yes, maybe sometimes you can say winning is bad for the health.

Question: Have you ever talked with Marat about that common experience you both had?

Federer: No actually, we probably could. But we haven’t. He got over his problem, I think I can tell you. Beating me like that at the Australian Open.

Question: Yes, he must have gotten over it. And you were the one who cured him –

Federer: (laughing) Well I hope he appreciates that.

Question: Seriously though, does it bother you that you don’t often face a strong challenger in many tournaments nowadays? Do you think this hurts the game?

Federer: Oh, I don’t know, you know every week there are guys who come after you, they have nothing to lose. Like Rafter, I provide them a target. The guys can all beat each other, you know, like you say about your football teams. Any team can beat any team today. The qualifiers come after you now, you get no rest.

Question: Personally, I am happy your best rival may be Nadal, because your styles are so opposite, it makes for a nice contrast. Like Andre and Pete, a classic match-up of aggressive and defensive styles.

Federer: Well now the styles change so fast, one minute you’re playing defense but you have to be ready to move in, be aggressive. The more complete you can play, the better.

Question: Are you aware mentally of what you’re doing on a court, as you do it? Are you aware you need to think about it a lot? Or does it just flow for you?

Federer: I try not to analyze too much on court, hopefully you do that before the match, and of course after it too, whether you win it or not. You hope you are ready, and the more ready you are, then perhaps it’s easier for you to just be there without having to think about it a lot.

Question: You have this ability to really step it up in your matches, like you’re a racing car driver and you get from zero to ten in no time. Like what you did against Andre in the tiebreaker at the Open last year, you gave up the first point but then you won the next seven. It was a spectacular display of power at just the right moment.
What do you say to yourself to make those moments happen?

Federer: Well I probably say something like, (smiling) you’d better concentrate here or he’s going to be up a set on you, fear is a good motivation I think. You try to stay really focused, and keep it simple. Nowadays, you see players who may not be that close in ranking, but you see the scores, these guys stay with you well right to the end of the first set now. Then it comes down to those few moments, where you really have to focus, or they get away from you. You have to be aware of the match as you go along, but you really have to be aware of those few moments when everything can change.

Question: Does anger help you on the court? Do you work up a head of steam when you’re playing an opponent you may not like?

Federer: Well, I try to like everyone (smiling), really, it’s all about the game, I try to do well rather than feeling I need to tear my opponent apart. And you want him to play well too, it makes it sweet then when you can win because you both gave a lot of yourselves.

Question: How nervous do you get in a match? Is this what the game comes down to? How well people handle the nerves?

Federer: I remember people asked Borg about that, because he always seemed so cool, but apparently inside he felt it, a lot.

Question: But to look at him, you’d never know –

Federer: No you wouldn’t, he was amazing.

Question: He could have been planning his next backhand up the line or wondering what he would have for dinner after the match. The expression was the same. Do you try to hide all the work you have to do? You tend to be somewhat secretive about your training methods.

Federer: I could not hide the work if I wanted to, it’s too much, but I am glad it looks so easy out there (smiling). You should try it sometime.

Question: How has life changed for you since you signed with IMG Management? Has it been good having them “run the show” for you?

Federer: It’s been a good relationship, I have no complaints. And Mirka is quite happy about it (smiling).

Question: It probably lightened her work load a bit. You know, the two of you seem to have quite an excellent relationship. Someone recently complimented you for that on one of the tennis sites on the Internet, saying how often guys who reach the top tend to dump the woman they are with as they move up the ladder.

Federer: Are you doing a survey on this too? You are going to be busy. So do many of these guys you say dump their girlfriends?

Question: It’s been known to happen. Fame does strange things to people sometimes. Especially in this country. But I think part of what makes you able to play so well so consistently is that you have your personal house in order. You have people around who love and respect you and it all seems to work so well.

Federer: It’s really important, like you say, I could not do it without them. They are as important as my shots on the court, in a way, like you learn a forehand or a backhand –

Question: Speaking of shots, I must compliment you on that under spin/side spin backhand drop shot you’ve developed…

Federer: You like that, do you?

Question: Well, it’s always a crowd-pleaser, and you know what’s odd is I am thinking the Swiss invented it –

Federer: Really, well if you want to give us credit for it –

Question: It’s just that lately I saw Patty Schnyder use it really effectively in her match on clay, and Hingis has a great one too. So I’m thinking this must be another one of those “Swiss Conspiracies” where you make everyone else look terribly inept.

Federer: I am feeling I should hang my head.

Question: Well, isn’t it enough you show your precision with cuckoo clocks and other nice watches? We could let you get away with it, just as a drop shot with under spin. But see, you went and added the side spin. That’s too much insult. We think you should knock it off.

Federer: (smiles) If I see the two of them before you do, I’ll tell them that, OK?

Question: Thanks Roger. You know, you really are a peach. But next week you’re going to get some tougher questions.

Federer: (smiling) I hope I’m ready.


– – – – – –

Jamea arrives: Fed Cup 2006

Fed Cup 2006: Jamea arrives

It was a wild weekend in women’s tennis. Belgium and Italy sent last year’s Fed Cup finalists home and the U.S. pulled off an improbable defeat of Germany as Jamea Jackson officially arrived as the next great American hope. Two of the ties were affected by, well, lack of conditioning, and the other was affected by an injury.

Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne beat last year’s champion, Russia. Clijsters played Maria Kirilenko in the third rubber instead of Nadia Petrova, the top-ranked Russian at number 5 (is Sharapova really Russian?), because Petrova was tired from her loss to Henin-Hardenne the day before. Are you kidding me? What happened to sucking it up so that you can represent your country?

Italy has the 11th and 21st ranked players in the world in Francesca Schiavone and Flavia Pennetta, and France had to go with Nathalie Dechy instead of Mary Pierce, who is injured.

Germany’s excuse is that Julia Schruff, their second best player, complained of leg cramps after her loss to Jill Craybas in the second rubber. That’s usually a conditioning issue and this is Germany, it’s not the middle of summer in a tropical country and she didn’t play a four-hour match.

Part of the problem is the Fed Cup format. If this were Davis Cup, the tie would last three days and the second day of competition would be the doubles match. Injured or tired players would get an additional day of rest. Of course, those same players might be required for the doubles match but, for example, Chile decided to rest Fernando Gonzalez and Nicolas Massu for the doubles in this year’s tie against the US betting that they could win the last two matches. It didn’t work out in that case but the Fed Cup format of having reverse singles on consecutive days means that one player will play late on the first day and early on the second.

Martina Muller played for Schruff and that was a big deal because Muller is ranked 29 places below Jackson at 104 – Schruff is ranked number 52. Anna Lena Groenefeld beat Jill Craybas in the third rubber to cut U.S.’s lead to 2-1. If Jackson beat Muller, the U.S. would win the tie.

What a difference a day makes. In the first rubber, Jackson was not expected to beat Anna Lena Groenefeld. The pressure wasn’t on Jackson, it was on her opponent. Since Jackson beat Groenefeld and a tie is on the line, Jackson gets a huge upgrade in pressure.

After going up a break in the first set, Jackson understandably faltered. She hit a double fault to give Muller a break point then came to the net to hit a swinging volley. Muller passed her and they were back on serve.

In the next game, Jackson hit an overhead into the bottom of the net and gave Muller a break to go up 4-3. It should have been easier for Jackson – notice how we expect more of her now. Muller has a creampuff serve and her major weapon appears to be a high shot that is somewhere between a topspin looper and a lob.

Jackson slowly settled into her new role as favorite. In the next game, she hit a good forehand down the line for a break point. She got the break to get back on serve and won the tiebreaker easily, 7-2.

She continued to apply pressure and went up a break in the second set. Muller cannot, at this point, hit with Jackson and Jackson is not a particularly big hitter. It could be wishful thinking on my part, of course I’d like the US to come up with new players to replace the rapidly declining stable of American women players, but I think this is a real turning point for Jackson. Her performance here announces her arrival on the tour and should help her confidence immensely. She’s been known as a defensive player but, against Muller, used her quickness to get to the net and force errors.

Jackson got one more break in the second set to win the match, 7-6(2), 6-2, and move the U.S. into the Fed Cup semifinals.

Jackson doesn’t have Davenport’s serve, Serena’s power, or Venus’ length. She’s 5’4” and weighs 113 pounds (can that be right, she looks more solid than that). But she’s quick and aggressive and should be able to make it into the top half of the top 100 and stay there for a while.

It’s not what we’ve been used to but it’s all we got at the moment.