Monthly Archives: April 2008

Patriot Acts

Some top U.S. players are going to the Olympics and some are not. Some top U.S. players are playing Fed Cup and Davis Cup and some are not.

When I woke up this morning and looked out the window, I saw a huge funnel of smoke rising in the sky. It looked like the Capitol Records building was on fire but, luckily, it wasn’t. A night club in the neighborhood of Hollywood and Vine was burning away. I’m used to grabbing up my computer, birth certificate, passport, and naturalization papers, and preparing to evacuate because I live in the Hollywood Hills and fire is a natural part of clearing the underbrush.

I take those naturalization papers in case there’s any question about my citizenship. I don’t want to be shipped backed to England or arrested by the Homeland Security Department for, oh, I don’t know, growing sprouts. Four years ago, an artist named Steve Kurtz had the misfortune of calling 911 because his wife was dying of heart failure. The paramedics who came to his house noticed that he had a home laboratory and called the FBI.

Kurtz is a professor of art at SUNY Buffalo and he had harmless bacteria in his Petri dishes which he uses in his art projects. He was detained by the Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Justice Department sought bioterrorism charges under the Patriot Act before settling on mail fraud charges related to purchasing the bacteria. Thankfully, all charges were dropped last week.

I bring this up because patriotism is a complex subject and that’s true in sports too as you can see with the Olympic torch protests. And U.S. tennis players have a complex, or could we say, sometimes convenient take on the subject themselves. I could summarize it like this:

  1. Some top men aren’t going to the this summer’s Olympics.
  2. The top women all want to go to the Olympics.
  3. Some top women didn’t play Fed Cup last week.
  4. The top men all play Davis Cup.

Andy Roddick and his good pal Mardy Fish announced that they will enter the ATP tournament in Washington instead of playing for the U.S. in Beijing this summer. Roddick wants to concentrate on winning the U.S. Open and I suppose he can be excused because he carries the Davis Cup team and I’m sure he sees this year as a golden opportunity (sorry for the reference) to try and take a slam considering his success so far and Federer’s vulnerability.

I don’t know what Fish’s excuse is but his withdrawal leaves the U.S. with the following team if it’s chosen by ranking: James Blake, Sam Querrey, Donald Young, and Bobby Reynolds. The Bryan Brothers will go as the doubles team so there’s a chance for a medal.

Serena and Venus Williams and Lindsay Davenport all want to go to the Olympics but Venus is still out with an undisclosed and, possibly, undiagnosed problem, and Serena is often injured. Serena and Venus won both the singles and doubles gold medals in 2000 between them and that’s something the women have that the men don’t: a strong Olympic tradition.

While tennis was an original sport when the Olympics started again in the 1896, it was dropped in 1924 and didn’t come back until 1988, so that’s only five Olympic competitions in our short memory banks. Steffi Graf won the gold medal in singles in 1988 to complete the golden slam – an incredible feat that consists of winning all four slams and the gold medal – but the U.S. women won the doubles gold and they won every gold medal in 1992, 1996 and 2000. That helps explain the enthusiasm of the U.S. women. They have a tradition to uphold and regain.

The men won a gold medal in singles in 1996 (Andre Agassi) and a gold medal in doubles in 1988. If you’re like me, you may have forgotten that Brad Gilbert won a bronze medal in 1988. Not bad but not like the women and certainly not close to the tradition of U.S. men winning Davis Cups. The top men don’t skip Davis Cup. Not only that but the lower ranked players turn up too and happily serve as hitting partners. There was Fish at the Davis Cup match against France earlier this month even though he wasn’t on the team.

Serena and Lindsay, however, refused to travel to the Fed Cup match in Moscow last week. Lindsay refused to go because Serena didn’t go and Lindsay didn’t want to play two singles matches. That’s understandable. Anything Lindsay does is a bonus because the U.S. wasn’t expecting her back from retirement anyway and her child-raising plans probably never included Moscow.

The problem with Fed Cup isn’t tradition. The U.S. has won 17 Fed Cups, ten more than the next country – Australia. The problem is that the U.S. doesn’t have those top women players they had in the past. Lindsay will play until she fades into motherhood. Serena will play when she’s not injured. We don’t know about Venus and next up in the rankings is – I had to look this up – Meghann Shaughnessy. How many H’s can you have in one name? I’m being unkind but you see the problem.

I’m not that concerned about the Olympics. I don’t watch the Olympics to watch tennis. I’m concerned about the fractured nature of the U.S. team spirit because I’m a sucker for national competitions and it does my heart good to see U.S. tennis players dancing around together. That might have to wait until the U.S. restocks its talent base and though that could take a long time, I can always watch the replay of the Davis Cup win last year.

By the way, I put up that Andy Roddick video even though it’s not directly related and even though the audio is not good because it’s a performance you shouldn’t miss.

ATP Fantasy Tennis Picks for Barcelona and Munich

It’s time for the ATP Fantasy Tennis Season so check out our Fantasy Tennis Guide. You’ll find Fast Facts, Strategies, and Statistics to help you play the game.

Sign up and join our subleague! It’s called We send weekly email updates to all subleague members before the submission deadline.

This week’s submission deadline is Monday morning, April 28, 4am (EST) in the U.S. and 10am (CET) in Europe.

I made a mistake last week. Well, I made a few, but one in particular stood out. I picked Carlos Moya for my team without noticing that he’d gone out in the first round the past three years. Pay attention to such information even if I forget. Of course, who’d a thunk that Sam Querrey would beat Moya and I find it interesting that James Blake took a wild card to Barcelona this week. Querrey reached the quarterfinals, for heaven’s sake, and that should embarrass both Blake and Andy Roddick enough to get their butts over to Europe immediately.

Keep slogging along here with your complete season strategy because, remember, there are seven Masters Series events and three slams in the season. For instance, you should probably use Rafael Nadal for the three clay Masters events, Roland Garros, and Wimbledon because you can only use him five times.

There are two tournaments this week. Barcelona is on clay and pays $209,692 for a first prize. Munich is also on clay and pays $90,923 to its winner. Given the disparity in the first prize money, let’s pick five of our eight players from Barcelona and three from Munich.

I keep waiting for Nicolas Almagro to step up at required events and it hasn’t happened yet except for a quarterfinal here and there, so pick him for Barcelona because it’s one of the highest paying optional events. Almagro won’t get past Nadal but he’s a good candidate for the semifinals over Andy Murray who has an 8-13 career record on clay.

I suppose it’s time to start thinking about how to use David Nalbandian and David Ferrer this year. Nalbandian is up and down at Roland Garros and the U.S. Open and hasn’t done well at Hamburg. He’s golden at Madrid – in last four years he’s never done worse than semis – but his win in Paris last year was an anomaly. And forget about the summer hard court Masters events. That means I have to try and get three tournaments out of him in the clay court season and since I didn’t pick him last week – one of those mistakes – I have to use him this week. I just hope Stanislaw Wawrinka doesn’t take him out.

Ferrer is having a good year and he got to the semifinals at the U.S. Open last year so I’d save him for that. The question is whether to save him for the remaining Masters events or not. He hasn’t done well and Rome or Madrid the past few years and he’s never done well in Canada but he has a legitimate shot at the remaining three Masters events. However, I think he’ll make the final in Barcelona because he’s 4-0 over Nalbandian on clay and Barcelona pays more than a quarterfinal in Cincinnati (the dollar ain’t worth much today) so I’m picking him this week and then saving him for Hamburg and Paris.

I’m going with Juan-Carlos Ferrero over Carlos Moya even though Moya is 3-0 over Ferrero in their last three clay matches because, for some reason, Moya cannot seem to play well in Barcelona. Guillermo Canas has been sinking so I’m taking Tommy Robredo over him in their quarter.

Barcelona draw

Let’s go from the Spanish tournament with all those Spanish clay court players to the German tournament with all those German not-so-good-at-clay court players. I’m hesitant to pick Igor Andreev because he lost to Steve Darcis, who is in his quarter, last year and he’s in Fernando Gonzalez’ quarter. And Fernando is 6-0 on clay this year, but Andreev is on a roll and he beat Fernando the last two times they played on clay.

From the top half I’m going with two players. Paul-Henri Mathieu lost early in Monte Carlo but he’s never gone past the first round in Monte Carlo and he had a big clay court season last year in optional events. Philipp Kohlschreiber is my second pick here because he has good results here and his quarter is weak.

Munich draw

My Pick
Almagro, Ferrer, Nalbandian, Ferrero, Robredo, Andreev, Mathieu, Kohlschreiber

Happy fantasies!

Live Blog of the Monte Carlo Final

Good morning to everyone in the U.S., good afternoon to Europe, and good evening in Asia. Jenny, Maria, joel-la, Debra, and everyone else, are you up and ready because here comes Federer-Nadal XV. Yes, Roger Federer has resurrected his game against all odds after an early season title drought while recovering from a rather short bout of mononucleosis. Rafael Nadal has yet to lose a set on clay while Federer crawled back from 1-5 in the third set to beat Ruben Ramirez-Hidalgo, of all people. Federer is playing so well that people asked plenty of questions when Novak Djokovic retired in the second set of their semifinal match. Would Djokovic have retired if Federer wasn’t playing so well?

Join with us – Pat, Nate and Nina – by leaving comments and we’ll include them in the live blog. Have fun and be sure to leave your predictions before the match gets too far along else they won’t mean much, will they? :0)

Nina: My prediction: it’s Rafa because, other than Hamburg, he hasn’t shown any weakness that I can see. I forgot that Nadal hadn’t won a tournament since Stuttgart last year!

Nate: This one’s a tough call. I’m going to say Fed. His ball-striking was awesome yesterday, and he’ll have less pressure than ever in a match against Nadal on clay (because, a few days ago, he wasn’t necessarily even favored to make the semis).

Nina: Hi Nate, I wonder which Federer prefers: less pressure because he’s not been well or the incessant questions about whether he’ll be able to return to his former glory? Any opinion about Fed’s decision to receive?

Pat: Good morning all, for the sake of argument I am going with Roger, and in three sets. Boy, Koenig is really giving Djoko some s**t for retiring yesterday. I am going to enjoy this, Number 15 but they haven’t played a final since…Wimbly I do believe

Nina: I wouldn’t mind having my name written across some beautiful woman’s chest. Okay, numerous shots to Fed’s backhand, here we go.

Federer breaks Nadal to go up 1-0

Nate: I think Fed’s decision to receive is a nice change–it’s a Rafa move–trying to poach serve early. Two chances…Fed makes good…

Pat: Federer breaks. Interesting game, smart move of Roger to receive serve at the coin toss. All the pressure looks to be on Rafa.

Nadal breaks Federer 1-1

Nate: So they both have some nerves to work out of their systems. Maybe now they will be. Two easy breaks to start.

Nadal 2-1

Nina: If Federer can bat down enough high shots to backhand to get to the net, he’s golden, but he’s already slowed down his number of trips to the net. Would you say that Borg and other clay court champions or anyone else before Nadal played such a simple game that was so effective?

Pat: Nina, we’ll get a tatoo artist to do that on your 60th this year, how’s that?

Nadal serving at 2-2

Nate: Fed moving Nadal to his forehand side. Play works so well usually because Rafa always has to expect the opposite. Another well chosen drop shot from Rafa. Couple of errors, though, 15-30.

Nina: Can you convince Renee Zellweger to get the tattoo? Yeah, I was just wondering if Fed shouldn’t push that backhand to Rafa’s forehand instead of always going cross court. With his looping, I’d think the down the line shot would be a bit harder.

Nadal 3-2

Nate: Masterful for Fed, putting more spin on the forehand, suckering Nadal, and then flattening it out. And then a mis-hit. Rafa holds.

Nina: This is the second time this week Rafa is playing someone with a two match winning streak over him. How often does that happen? Nate, any answers to whether you think Borg’s game was as simple as Nadal’s on clay?

Nate: I’m afraid I haven’t seen enough footage of Borg. Generation gap. But, from what I’ve heard and seen, I’d go with yes. Simplicity works on clay.

Nadal to serve at 3-3

Nate: This match has not caught fire yet. That last game went to deuce, but it was mostly on errors.

Federer breaks Nadal to go up 4-3

Nina: Any opinion about what Jose Higueras may changed in Roger’s game as it looks today? More attacking for instance?

Pat: Cute stuff with those drop shots, that smells like a Higueras move don’t you think? And Roger followed them in, nice stuff!

Nadal breaks Federer to get to 4-4

Nina: I don’t think Fed would have had such a loose game after a break at this point in the set last year. That’s part of the mental consistency he hasn’t shown this year.

Nate: Well Fed just choked away his advantage (except for that last point). But, on the whole I’d say he’s definitely thinking more out there. More aggressive off the return, coming to net more, but also very the pace on his normal rally balls–hitting the right shot at the right time, instead of just going for everything. Even the best can benefit from a coach…Oh yeah, and those drop shots for sure, Pat.

Pat: Eeech! What an ugly game, and again Federer can’t hold onto the break!

Nate: Federer serving at 4-5, 40-15: Yeah, Rafa’s aura on clay clearly affects even Roger. Strong serving from him here though. Fine, low pass from Rafa, 40-30.

Nadal serving at 5-5.

Nina: Who’s got the advantage in a tiebreak between these two. I notice that Fed even snuck in to the net in the last game. Also, Rafa’s starting to wake up. Except, why didn’t he celebrate after that passing shot in the last game. What’s up with that?

Nate: I don’t know why he didn’t celebrate, likewise on that down the line forehand, just now. Totally fooled Federer on it. Maybe they’re a bit too familiar with each other for Rafa to get all crazy unless he breaks for the lead, or at least gets a set point. I favor Rafa in a tie-break right now. He’s slowly turning the tide of the mental battle. Might not need the breaker, though. Gorgeous pass for 0-30. Rafa forehand lands on the line to give him two set points, 15-40.

Nadal wins the first set 7-5

Nate: Fed fakes the drop shot, pushes the slice deep, and Nadal out-finesses him with a short slice cross-court to take the set.

Nina: Classic Nadal. The shots get a bit deeper and bounce a bit higher and Fed has to reach higher on his backhand as the set goes on, throw in a few passing shots and just like that, despite suffering two breaks, the set is over.

Pat: It looked like Roger hesitated a bit coming in on that shot (Nadal won the set on a slice backhand passing shot), but he did it anyway and paid for it. Rafa won a ton of points in those last two games it seemed.

Nate: Rafa serving at 7-5, 0-0: Fed hits an IMPOSSIBLE angle, and has a break point. And even a slight mis-hit (off a slight is-hit from Rafa) worked for him.

Fed serving at 5-7, 1-0:

Nate: Another one, Fed is seeing those angles now. Rafa not expecting that. And a ridiculous reflex volley from Federer. He’s really come alive. Rafa’s turn: a strong forehand, and then a beautifully constructed point, with drop shot, from Nadal. 40-30. But Fed digs in at net again to hold. Highest quality of the match so far now.

Federer holds after the break, Nadal 7-5, 0-2

Pat: Roger breaks with some great play, love that looper forehand crosscourt. He showed good variety in that game all around. Now, can he back it up?

Federer breaks Nadal for a second time, Nadal 7-5, 0-3

Nina: Did Federer all of a sudden learn to hit the backhand cross court at such an angle? No, but he’s doing it better and Nadal had an obvious letdown right after the set which picked up Fed’s confidence.

Nate: Yeah, Fed’s running away with it at the moment. His angles have impressed me off both wings, and it’s a largely new tactic for him against Nadal. He’s usually trying to hit through Rafa, or, if he’s moving, it’s deep to the corners.

Pat: How about a bagel with that Starbuck’s? Hhhnm, yummy!

Nadal holds. Federer to serve at 5-7, 4-1:

Nate: One break back for Rafa off two Gonzalez-esque kill-swings from Federer.

Rafa serving at 7-5, 2-4:

Nate: And Nadal works Federer on the first point. Very well constructed from Rafa. Quickly out to 40-0. And an easy hold. Way to build the pressure back against Fed.

Fed serving at 5-7, 4-3:

Dennis Cheung: Good morning all from the US. Unfortunately, I don’t have a TV but Roger seem to be catching up stats wise. Thanks for the blog because it feels like I’m watching live!

Nina: Hi Dennis, we’d be happy to be your TV. Okay, then the Higueras checklist: more variety, sharper cross court shots, more attacks at the net. Does anyone have anything to add to the list?

Dennis: How’s the level play? Consistent? Stats wise there seems to be streaks going on for both sides. The number of breaks are incredible. I wonder it is the surface that makes return plays easier or the players we have today?

Nate: Was Mirka sleeping there? Anyone else see that? Not the right time for it, he’s about to give back that second break.

Nadal serving at 4-4: That 30-15 point was Rafa in all his glory. He looks thoroughly in charge at the moment. But, finally a good point from Federer, 40-30. But Rafa holds. What does Fed have left?…

Nina: He’s thrown every tactic he has at him but without some grinding, you just can’t beat Nadal. There’s no bigger grinder I’ve ever seen, except, of course, Borg. Is it because Fed was passive or because he couldn’t keep the ball in the court?

Federer 5-7, 5-5

Pat: Nate, I think Mirka was praying actually. Things are slipping fast here. Dennis, welcome, the level of play has been all over the place as you may gather. Koenig was speechless as to why Federer has let this slip away. I second that.

Rafa looking rock-solid on serve. Fed hits a bush-league drop shot. And now he has to serve, once again, to stay in the match…

Fed serving, 5-7, 5-6:

Nate: Rafa a bit off down the line, 15-0. Fed can’t quite control the low volley, 15-15. Rafa pulls the trigger on the return, 15-30. Fed answers with a good serve, 30-30. Another strong serve, but then a terrible tactical error from Federer gives Nadal deuce. Serve keeping him in it. Ad-In. Cheap error. Deuce. And one more error gives Nadal championship point. It’s over.

Dennis: I was hoping for a third set but that’s slipping away fast. If I were Mirka, I would be praying too!

Pat: Nina, to your list I would add: SERVE BETTER! Federer seems not as strong on that as he was against Djoko. Also more rally shots that loop and kick high off the baseline. That may be part of the variety you mentioned though.

Nadal breaks Federer to win his fourth straight Monte Carlo, 7-5, 7-5

Nate: Well what do you guys make of that? Weird match…

Nina: I can hear Fed in the postmatch media session now: No, I’m not discouraged. I’m encouraged. Tried some new things that worked, had a bad patch at a bad time. I’m pretty positive, I’m feeing pretty positive…

Nina: What I think happened is that’s his conditioning is still not 100%. This is his first final in a Masters event this year and he tapped out before the final in the previous two.

Nate: That’s a fair guess, Nina. In the past, when he’s gone on tears against Nadal (even on clay) he’s at least been able to claim a set. He claims to have been training at full mast for at least the last four weeks now, but he did play just last week at Estoril.

Pat: 98 of 99 matches Nadal has won on clay. Quite a comment, huh? Another tactic too for future use: more drop shots, that seemed pretty effective I thought.

Pat: Roger’s first serve yesterday was pretty bad (statistically) so definitely something to work on. Sure he won the points but he wasn’t getting them in. Comes second serve his odds plumets (29% today!)

Dennis: Thank you everyone! See you at Hamberg?

Nina: Dennis, what about Rome? Gotta tune in then too and it’s a pretty good guess who we’ll see in that final too, for better or worse.

Nate: I guess the good news for Federer fans is that he’s certainly finding his form again. For us Rafa fans, the good news is that he finally has a title this year, and he’s made the first big step toward defending all those clay-court points. I can’t believe he’s really going to play Barcelona without a week off before Rome this year. If it wasn’t a Spanish tournament, I can’t imagine he would.

Nina: Dennis, what about Rome? Gotta tune in then too and it’s a pretty good guess who we’ll see in that final too, for better or worse. Yeah, he needed Estoril to get here but it also may have taken something out of him and one day I would like him to go to the net twice as much and damn everything else just work that through because he’s still too cautious. He went for more angles, now go for more net.

Nina: Yeah, Barcelona is ridiculous. Is it like Roddick and Dubai, are his endorsers strongly encouraging him?

Dennis: Nate: As I mentioned the quality of play seems very inconsistent stasticially, swinging back and forth. Sorry I can’t comment on the quality of play but the match looks weird stats-wise as well. Nina: Good point. It doesn’t help that people retire on him as well. Not only he needs to build his confidence, playing more games will boost his skills as well.

Nate: Hah! Nadal says it’s the best tournament in the world–coincidentally the only tournament he’s won four times in a row.

Nate: Nina, Fed did win something like eight of nine net points at one stage in the second set. He kept trying, but it wasn’t always working. I think Federer lost that second set because he just started missing. Crisis of confidence and/or fitness, I guess. Anyways, we’ll see what the rest of the clay season brings…

Nina: Yeah, but when he was losing all of those points, he wasn’t as aggressive, right?

Bye everyone, we’ll continue this conversation at the Rome final. See you then!

Job Opening

Can’t get enough tennis? Enjoy writing? Would you like to combine tennis AND writing at the same time? And chew gum too? Just kidding. But we are serious about finding a blogger who can join us at Tennis Diary, preferably someone who knows a bit about the women’s game as well as the men’s, since we need more coverage of the women.

We’d also like someone who studies the game and appreciates its subtleties. We write posts that engage our community of readers and draw them into conversation. We try not to brawl and pick on each other too much :0) We can’t pay you yet but we expect to in the future and our writers get press credentials to tournaments, so you will have access to ATP and WTA players.

If you’re interested or know any good tennis writers, drop us an email at

Querrey Turns into a Clay Court Player

Join us for the Monte Carlo final. We’ll be blogging live on Sunday morning, April 27, at 6am (PST)/9am (EST)/3pm (CET). We’ll include your comments in the live blog feed.

Sam Querrey reached the quarterfinals, on red clay no less, at Monte Carlo and Richard Gasquet has a lot on his mind.

There were lots of bagels in the third round of play at Monte Carlo. Novak Djokovic over Andy Murray 6-0, 6-4. Is Murray just inconsistent or is he arriving one generation late on the pro tennis tour? It doesn’t look like his finesses game stands up against the powerful and consistent Djokovic. Finesse only works these days if it’s backed up with a 100mph (160kph) forehand and that’s just the way it is. David Ferrer over Janko Tipsarevic 6-4, 6-0, and David Nalbandian over Tommy Robredo 6-1, 6-0. The only thing surprising about that last score is that Nalbandian didn’t go down a break or two before getting his game in gear.

All those bagels lead me to believe that the tournament is settling into some kind of order after a few crazy results in previous rounds, but there was one big craziness: Sam Querrey somehow managed to beat Richard Gasquet in three sets. Let’s look at that because I’m really curious about Gasquet’s state of mind considering his recent Davis Cup troubles and now that he’s been beaten by an American hard court specialist on red clay, he’s gonna get a lotta crap back in Paris, I guarantee you, and that can’t be good for a player who is already under siege.

Querrey is another one of those basketball-player sized hard court players the U.S. specializes in. He’s not light on his feet – at one point he put his back foot too far behind him and it slipped out from under him on the soft clay – but those long legs and arms make up for it. It doesn’t take him long to get from here to there. There’s another advantage to his size. I can’t think of a basketball-tall tennis player with a weak serve. Can you? And he should have a decided advantage on the kick serve.

Querrey is also a quick study. He’s hitting drop shots and making the right decisions on the red clay. He has one of those window washer forehands that go in a tight arc in front of his body and when he gets pulled wide he has a hard time driving the ball deep so he was making the right play by coming to the net as much as possible.

He lost the first set 6-2 but he started the third set off by winning his first three service games at love. In his next service game he started missing serves but his focus was solid as he managed to fight off seven break points to save the game with an assortment of aces, service winners, and one of those runaround, outside the doubles alley forehands that travel on an impossibly sharp angle.

Gasquet wasn’t playing terribly but I could help but think back to three years ago when he beat Roger Federer here in the quarterfinals and he was a young gunslinger, a player who went for winners from any place on the court. I still remember the backhand passing shot he hit on match point that looked impossible for how far he was behind the baseline. But now, I don’t see that. Querrey is making the exciting shots if anything.

Is Gasquet playing more conservatively by design or have the expectations worn away his daring? And what is the state of his mind right about now? Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Paul-Henri Mathieu are both creeping up on him in the rankings. Both his Davis Cup teammate Mathieu and his Davis Cup captain Guy Forget were frustrated that he didn’t play Andy Roddick in the deciding rubber of the match against the U.S. And the head of the French Davis Cup organization publicly stated his disappointment. Gasquet had apparently assured the team that he’d be available for the Roddick match if needed then he backed out.

I think the answer is unstable because Gasquet played a disastrously loose game while serving to stay in the second set a 4-5. He failed to get a first serve in and he hit three errors to hand the second set to Querrey. And he did it again in the third set. Serving at 3-4, he hit two forehand errors and a double fault to go down a break to let Querrey serve for the match. Gasquet’s got some worries on his mind and he may be getting some unfair treatment because his back is hurting him. He said he was taking anti-inflammation medicine in his post-match media session and he also said he was tired because he hasn’t been able to practice enough.

Maybe his Davis Cup cohorts are being too hard on him but now he has a problem because the perception is that he could have played and didn’t. There was already grumbling last year when he withdrew from his second round match at the U.S. Open with a fever. The more the perception grows, the more he’ll have to do to overcome it and the more expectations there’ll be which is the last thing he needs. No wonder he said, after the match, that he needed to get away from tennis for a few days

Querrey won the match, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, and I love the way he played. It’s not just his willingness to love the clay and play to his strengths while covering up his weaknesses – which is the definition of good match play, it’s the calm he showed throughout. You can now officially include me in the Sam Querrey fan club.