Lindsay Davenport’s retirement announcement came about a day after the news that she was pregnant. It seemed a little odd to me that she chose to do it that way. Why not just announce them both at the same time? Why break it up like that? Because after all, when the one thing happens, the other is definitely going to happen too.
There’s no way a woman player could be pregnant and play on the tour as it exists today. Maybe in any era for that matter. In a way, this is a lucky thing for Lindsay, or for any woman player in this position. Because being pregnant will entirely negate any latent desires you may harbor about wanting to play on. Your body is completely indisposed to the game because now it’s preparing for a greater game, the game of giving life to something new and all that will entail.
This is a good moment for Lindsay to retire on. It felt like it had been in the cards most of this year. Home life had plainly been calling to her since her marriage and the WTA did not ease her dilemma by making it difficult for her to gain entry into tournaments. Injuries took her out for longer periods of time. She and Andre Agassi were both likely to be gone from the game before this year was out. And such has been the case. A clean cut and she’s gone. No prolonged farewells, no victory tours. Lindsay always was a very efficient striker of the ball.
– – – – –
Bjorn Borg’s name found its way on two occasions into the news recently, the first time with the announcement of a new line of signature sporting apparel, the second with his endorsement of Andy Murray as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Or should we say, scones?
Now Bjorn, you know I love you, and I really love your hair the most, but when it comes to wagering, or picking picks in general, I will probably take your advice with generous helpings of the salty stuff. After all, Borg tempted fate by trying to come back with a wooden racquet and his earlier forays into business ventures and predictions have also headed south. He had an earlier line of clothing that fared disastrously and, as far as picking players, he praised Robin Soderling several years ago in terms that Soderling had not quite lived up to at that point in time.
Fortunately now for Borg, both those situations seem to have turned themselves around. The new clothing line seems positioned to get off the ground and Robin Soderling has started to make a dent now in draws.
But Andy Murray was an odd choice. I am still out on Murray. He did beat Federer after all, but he caught Roger on an off-week when he was pretty burned out with fatigue. By late in the year Murray had slipped back to playing erratically and his on-court attitude sounded terrible. Brad Gilbert is going to have to not only put some muscle on this boy, but lay down some new stem cells in his spinal region. He needs more mental backbone.
Borg had more mental backbone than anybody who ever played the game. So maybe he picks up something about Murray that will make him “stick” as a champion over time. He has the physical skills on a court to do that but I am questioning how his mental outlook jells, and on that he is shaky. Borg was quoted as saying he feels Murray has a complete game with which to dominate the game, perhaps in a few more years, and take the crown away from Federer.
I am also wondering how Borg feels about Murray’s fitness level. That was another area in which Borg was an absolute master. Those thirty four beats per minute of his resting pulse still turn me green with envy. Ultra marathoners hit those low marks, not tennis players. And certainly not Murray. Somehow I don’t see Murray going out and running ten miles or so, as Borg often did after winning matches.
Said Sweden’s elder tennis statesman, “Murray has done brilliantly. He has the motivation so I think he can get to the top and become the world number one.” It’s a good thing to want to encourage the younger players coming up; I am just uncertain if such unstinting praise should go out to Murray at this time.
Why not shoot some praise to two other guys waiting in the wings, namely Berdych and Gasquet? Berdych especially seems situated to deliver the goods this coming year. I think he will be better faster than Murray. He’s bigger, stronger, faster, and his body seems to have come together sooner. Sorry Brad. At least Murray has Gilbert on his team now. If he’s ever to reach the level that Borg considers he can reach, then having a Brad Gilbert is an essential thing.
– – – – –
Gustavo “Guga” Kuerten played in his first tournament in nine months in November, and even though it was a challenger and he lost in straight sets in the opening round, he claims it gave him enough confidence that he can play on without the hip bothering him. That’s the good news. The not-so-good news about Guga is that he probably won’t be granted a wild card into the Australian Open in January. The officials are saving them for their own guys, as they probably should.
Is there any point to that, I wonder? Or is retirement close at hand? If he is going to re-emerge as a shadow of his former self, better not to push it and retire sooner rather than later.
Kuerten sounded off recently on the GOAT question (greatest of all time), namely Federer vs. Sampras. Guga went 1 and 2 against Sampras, and he was 2 and 1 in his meetings with Federer. So he has a bit of a say in how this rivalry works. But Kuerten sounded almost disparaging of Federer, and Carlos Moya echoed his sentiments when he said recently that Sampras had much stiffer competition than does Roger Federer today.
Now Guga, we love you dearly, and we all want to see you come back, and I really really love your hair too, but it’s a bit much for you to suggest that Federer is merely number one in the world because Sampras retired. If you had shown up at Wimbledon between 2000 and 2003, instead of staying at home for whatever reason, you might have caught Federer beating Sampras in the only match they ever played (in 2001). On that day he beat Sampras with a larger, more elegant repertoire than what Sampras had.
Maybe you should have asked Sampras his opinion after that match. I kind of got the impression he thought Roger had a future in the game. I believe he still holds that opinion.