Monthly Archives: February 2009

A Few Observations in Lieu of In Depth Analysis

Fed Cup: USA v Belgium

I couldn’t post on Saturday because I was ill and I’ve just returned from two days in Las Vegas where my wonderful family dragged me to see the Grand Canyon – which I have now seen for the third time. All in all I’m a bit exhausted, so I’m going to pass along a few trenchant observation instead of the more in depth stuff I like to do.


Super tennis writer Matt Cronin reports that Zina Garrison has filed a racial discrimination suit against the USTA. Garrison was the Fed Cup captain for ten years before she was replaced by Mary Jo Fernandez this year. Garrison complains in the suit that she was paid less than Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe – who is white – and she was held to a higher performance standard than McEnroe.

I was wondering how such suits would be viewed now that we have a black president and so far the reception has not been good. Cronin picks apart Garrison’s arguments pretty well and here in Los Angeles, the media picked apart the racial discrimination suit filed by former basketball great Elgin Baylor against the Los Angeles Clippers for firing him from his job as General Manager.

Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke is willing to agree that Baylor’s employer was racist but, if so, he also wonders why Baylor stayed at the job for 22 years when he could easily have found work elsewhere.

We’re feeling something similar in the gay and lesbian community. In some states we can now get married and we have less to complain about. On the other hand, we’re losing our special status. Some members of the gay and lesbian community don’t want marriage because they don’t want to be like everyone else, in other words, they don’t want to lose their special status.

By no means am I saying that there’s no racial discrimination or homophobia in this country, and heaven forbid you’re transgendered because you are literally taking your life in your hands. I’m sure you’ve read about the murders of transgendered people in the news. But with each new step of acceptance, cases like Garrison’s and Baylor’s are getting a much more critical response.

”It’s the economy, stupid.”

When Dubai refused to let Israeli Shahar Peer into the country to play in the Barclay’s Dubai Tennis Championships, Peer said the following in a statement she released through the WTA:

There should be no place for politics or discrimination in professional tennis or indeed any sport.

I’ll agree with the discrimination part but can we clear up this politics and sport don’t mix adage once and for all? Sport is entertainment which is part of tourism which is an important part of both local and international economies. Even more so in Dubai which is trying to build the world’s biggest and most fantastical playground to draw people to its part of the world.

The economy is often the biggest political issue of the day and not just at the moment when we are in a global recession. Bill Clinton got himself elected in 1992 by repeating to himself: “It’s the economy, stupid.” Sport and economy go hand in hand as a city decides whether it should shell out millions of dollars to build a stadium to keep its professional basketball team from defecting, and it’s always a huge part of any country’s Olympic bid.

Kudos to Andy Roddick for boycotting Dubai in protest of Shahar’s treatment, by the way. Particularly as he was defending a title during a year when rankings points are harder to come by and in a tournament with no Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer to impede his progress. Unless, of course, he had an abdominal strain and couldn’t play and just wanted to look good. I’m kidding but I brought it as a segue into the next subject.

Lie To Me

I cannot bear to miss my new favorite TV show, Lie To Me. Tim Roth stars as a “deception expert” who can read people’s facial expressions and determine, given the context of the situation, whether they are telling the truth or not.

The show is based on the work of Paul Ekman whose research verified two very important things: 1. Facial expressions are culturally independent – contempt looks the same on a face in New Guinea as it does in New England. 2. Facial expressions are involuntary – we can’t avoid expressing our emotions even if only for a fifth of a second or so.

Think about it. If Ekman had been sitting on the set when Alex Rodriguez told Katie Couric he’d never used performance enhancing drugs during that 2007 interview, Ekman could have shouted out “Cut!” then turned to Rodriguez and asked if he might want to reconsider his answer. Rodriguez not only could have told the truth or at least told a half truth (“Yeah, I used HGH a few times but stopped after some players I knew were found out.”), but he could have avoided setting in motion a domino effect that might end up implicating a whole lot of other players from the Dominican Republic.

Rodriguez implicated his cousin which implicated Rodriguez’ trainer who works with many of Rodriguez’s fellow Dominican players. The trainer was questioned by the Canadian Border Service about a gym bag full of steroids in 2001 and was subsequently banned from Major League Baseball locker rooms. I bet there are a whole lot of ballplayers very unhappy with Mr. Rodriguez right about now.

This is related to tennis because players are complaining that they’re now required to tell drug testing authorities their exact whereabouts for one hour of the day SEVEN days a week so they can be tested out of competition. Could you do that? If I was ill and housebound, maybe.

It reminds me of the wannabe terrorist who tried to set off a shoe bomb on an airplane. Now we all have to take our shoes off in the airport security line. So many athletes used performance enhancing drugs and lied about it that Andy Murray now has to logon to a website and tell someone where he’ll be at 9 am next Sunday morning. I’ll be at the farmer’s market if you’re looking for me, unless I had a late night out or got lucky.

We should clone a few thousand Ekmans or, failing that, train them and avoid all of this lab testing and A and B sample stuff. Just bring in a deception expert.

Davis Cup Emptiness

Could someone please explain to me why Israeli player Andy Ram played in Dubai this week but Israel has to play its Davis Cup tie with Sweden in an empty arena? Dubai is in the heart of the Arab region which is deeply affected by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, yet somehow it can protect Andy Ram and Sweden cannot? I’m not being entirely facetious here, I would really like one of our readers in Europe or Arabia to explain it to me.

WTA Players Fail to Support Peer but the ATP Comes Through in Dubai

Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer was denied entry to Dubai but her fellow players played on. The ATP saved their butt.

Welcome to Dubai redux because we’ve been here before. Larry Scott, CEO of the WTA, said the following after the Dubai refused to give Israeli player Shahar Peer a visa to enter this week’s tournament in Dubai.

We started looking at this issue about a year ago, so they had a year to get everything worked out and everything in order. Peer played in Doha last year, and we fully supported her decision to want to play in Dubai, one of our leading tournaments.

“About a year ago” the ATP had the same problem with the Israeli doubles team Andy Ram and Jonathan Erlich. They were all ready to play in the event in Dubai after having won the Australian Open but were never granted entry into the country.

We don’t know exactly what happened because both Ram and Erlich, and their manager at the time, Norman Canter, refused to talk about it. When I spoke to Canter at Indian Wells last year, he did explain that he met with the director and assistant director of the Dubai event and his players were ready to fly to Dubai, but they never got on the plane. Beyond that, Canter said:

…I’m not making any comments. You can talk to the boys [Erlich and Ram], you can talk to the ATP, you can talk to Allah, you can talk to God, you can talk to Moses, you can talk to Jesus, and you’re not gonna get a lot of answers. And hopefully, some day, the human rights issue, which is what it’s about, will be rectified. It’s 5700 years, I don’t have any hope.

Now how do I parse that? Did the ATP ask them not to say anything? Did the Dubai organizers ask them not to say anything because they hoped in the future to bridge the gap between their commercial interests and the policy of the United Arab Emirates of refusing entry to anyone with an Israeli passport? (Dubai is one of the seven states that make up the UAE.)

Part of the problem here is the complexity of the UAE. It’s a federation of states that has only been in existence since 1971 so the individual states still hold a lot of power. Dubai’s ruler is Vice-President of the UAE and he’s also the Chairman of Dubai’s tourist industry. Both the men’s and women’s tennis tournaments are big tourist draws so I’m assuming Dubai’s ruler is fighting with someone else in the UAE to get visas for its tennis players.

But who is he fighting with because the largest state in the UAE is Abu Dhabi, its ruler is President of the UAE, and it’s the site of a tennis exhibition that shelled out enough appearance money to get both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in early January. And last year Abu Dhabi started the process of applying for a WTA event.

It’s a fascinating triad. Commercial Dubai is building a fantasy modernist tourist haven to prepare itself for the looming post-oil economy, especially as Dubai gets almost no income from oil at this point. The conservative Muslim population in the UAE wants to preserve life as it is and support the Palestinians in the Israeli-Palestine conflict. The WTA and the ATP want to globalize their sport by expanding to the emerging economies in Asia. Well, they were emerging. The U.S. is doing their best to muck up the global economy as much as possible and has succeeded as you can see in the video above.

Thanks to Tennis Diary writer Pat Davis for the video link by the way. Pat, are you still sorry you didn’t trip off to Dubai last year for a quick look and see before all those recently created island developments sunk back into the sea, so to speak? I’m going to Las Vegas on Monday. It’ll have to do.

Parts of the tennis world have responded boldly to Peer’s treatment and parts of it haven’t. The Tennis Channel refused to broadcast the women’s matches in Dubai and Wall Street Journal Europe has withdrawn its sponsorship of the event. But Peer’s fellow player lamely played on. None of them mentioned withdrawing and Venus Williams reminded us that players have to think of the sponsors too:

We wouldn’t be here without sponsors. We can’t let sponsors down. Whatever we do, we need to do as a team – players, sponsors, tour and whoever – and not all break off in one direction. We are team players.

Okay, so here is sponsor Wall Street Journal Europe withdrawing its sponsorship because Dubai’s actions run counter to its editorial philosophy of “free markets and free people” and yet the players can’t withdraw because they’ll upset the sponsors? Tennis players were not always such capitalists. Once they had principles.

In 1973, Yugoslavian player Nikki Pilić was suspended by his tennis federation for allegedly refusing to represent them in Davis Cup. In support of Pilic, 81 ATP players including 13 of the 16 seed withdrew from Wimbledon in support. Thirteen of the 16 seeds! Incredible! And Venus is worried about Barclays Bank as in Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships.

The players are, however, only following the rest of the tennis world. The WTA and ATP gave Dubai events in return for big prize money even though they knew the UAE discriminated against Israelis. The ATP didn’t cancel its Dubai event this year despite Ram and Erlich’s treatment last year. If the WTA and the ATP are gonna chase the money, can you blame the players?

Luckily, Venus and other have been spared further action because the ATP was more effective than the WTA in securing a visa for an Israeli player. Andy Ram entered the men’s event in Dubai again this year (without Jonathan Erlich who is injured) and Dubai has granted him a special entry permit. The ATP gave the Dubai organizers a deadline of this Friday to come up with a visa or take the chance of losing their event in the future. Thanks to Tennisbro for posting that info.

I read a rumor that ATP board member Justin Gimelstob was on his way to Dubai to deal with the issue. Thank heavens that’s no longer necessary. Can you imagine? Here’s a guy who called Anna Kournikova a “bitch” and a “douche” and said he wanted to “hurt” her. What kind of international incident could he provoke in a region that is, let’s say, rather protective of its women.

What am I to make of all this? Uber-capitalism has won out. If the WTA and ATP got into the region hoping that the sports market could make a significant political change in the area, then I applaud them because they’ve succeeded. And there is a precedent. Athletes refused to play in South Africa until they changed their apartheid policy.

But you see the contrast there. Whereas before we might have stood our ground until political change was made, now we follow the money and hope that political change follows.

Could We Use Some Statheads in Tennis?

Baseball finally gave in to an army of persistent amateur number crunchers and changed the way teams evaluate players. Teams also changed the way they play the game – at least the smart ones did. Basketball is now starting to hire statheads. Should tennis join the game?

ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament - Day Six

Before I get on to what I’m sure is one of your favorite subjects in the world – numbers, let me first tell you how to record those matches from Rotterdam and Paris you might be missing because, oh, let me think, you have to go to work or maybe get some sleep.

I managed to record the Rafael NadalGael Monfils match today and I did it with a program that records directly off the screen called Hypercam. Because it records the screen, you have to make sure the screen never turns off. That means you need to change the power settings on your computer so that it never turns off the display, never puts the computer to sleep, and works at maximum performance at all times. You should also turn off the screen saver.

You can read the instructions that come with Hypercam, it’s not that hard – basically choose what part of the screen to record, choose a filename, and press record. Hopefully you’re smarter than I am. I forgot to plug the damn computer into the AC so the battery ran down and turned the computer off. Oh, and good luck with the Vista operating system, half of my match is covered with a popup message asking for a password of some sort.

It ain’t your satellite DVR or even an old-timey VCR, but it’s better than missing work.

I think I should start a tech blog because I spent last night geeking it too. I set up my new iPod Touch and downloaded the New York Times app and I’m love with it. After paying over $400 a year for someone to throw the newspaper under my car every morning, I now get it for free by downloading it to my Touch.

Speaking of touch, I always put off going digital because I like the sensory experience of handling newsprint and I’d rather be concerned about newsprint getting wet when I fall asleep in the bathtub doing the crossword puzzle than dropping my iPod into the drink. But all it took was a scroll through the digital Times and I’m in love.

That’s because I came across a Times Magazine piece by my favorite journalist, Michael Lewis, titled The No-Stats All-Star. It’s the profile of a pro basketball player with less than mediocre stats and less than NBA-ready athleticism whose teams always win; a sterling example of the often used phrase, “a player who makes their team better.” Among other fascinating books, Lewis wrote Moneyball, a book that describes how the Oakland A’s baseball team used statistical information to draft rather un-athletic looking baseball players and win a lot of games despite having one of the lowest payrolls in baseball.

It got me wondering, does tennis throw away young athletes who might make good tennis players because they’re smart rather than ultra-athletic? Even more so, does tennis take advantage of statistical analysis as much as it could?

Make no bones about it, and this is the point of Lewis’ article, it takes a very smart and very humble basketball player to sacrifice stats for the good of the team, especially when everyone else and their mother – and this includes the management of the NBA which evaluates the worth of players’ contracts – is in love with high scorers and big rebounders.

I can only imagine what Fabrice Santoro would be doing today if he’d grown up in Southern California and local USTA honchos evaluated his game when he was 8 or 9 years old. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him hit a ball hard. Monica Seles could hit the fluff off the ball but she never moved well. Luckily, most tennis players benefit from strong family support and those families pay for tennis lesson and travel expenses which allow a young player to establish themselves on the junior circuit. Santoro, for instance, won the 12s, 14s, and 16s title in his home country of France.

So players avoid being unfairly evaluated in tennis and that’s partly because it’s an individual sport – if you win enough matches, you’re a promising tennis player and tennis associations will give you support. Now, what about using statistical information to evaluate tennis strategies?

You’ll find the best tennis stats on betting websites for obvious reasons. Gamblers only care about finding the player most likely to win and most of their energy goes into finding combination of stats that best predict a win. A coach who’s scouting their players’ next opponent wants to know things like this:

On big points, where is the opponent most likely to place their serve or hit their groundstrokes?
Do they tip off their serve?
What are their weaknesses?
What part of the court do most of their winners come from?

But there’s no long term analysis, as far as I know, that models tennis matches and uses those models to evaluate tennis strategies. Please correct me if I’m wrong. Has someone broken the tennis court down into small sections, numbered them, and looked at players’ results in those parts of the court? What micro-area of the court results in the most winning points if you’re a left-hander, a right-hander, a topspin hitter or a flat hitter, a tall player or an average to short player? What is the effect of different surfaces? Weather conditions? Five set matches? Night matches? Day matches? So on and so forth.

Baseball statheads did it. Instead of being satisfied with recording a hit as a single to center field, they broke the field up into very small areas, numbered the areas, and recorded which micro-area the ball landed in. Using similar modeling techniques and tons of other stats, one particular stathead on the Oakland A’s team was able to calculate how many games the team was likely to lose by trading a particularly talented player and replacing him with a few lesser talented players. In other words, he figured out exactly how valuable that player was.

Lots of dearly held beliefs in baseball were called into question after the statheads got their hands on those fast laptops. Managers used to call for a hit and run frequently in certain situations (for non-baseball citizens, that means the runner on base runs as soon as the pitch is thrown). And players were lauded for being able to steal bases. But statheads decided that baserunners are too valuable to risk losing on the base paths.

I don’t know what dearly held information might go down in the tennis world with a bit of stat-mongering, guesses anyone? but the data is out there to test it out. IBM developed a “Stroke Tracker” as far back as 2005. And now we have Hawk-Eye which records the flight of every ball in the matches it covers. We’re just waiting for someone to come along and do something with it. Volunteers anyone?

U.S. Tennis Gets a Bailout

Not only does the U.S. economy need a bailout but part of its tennis world does too.

ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament - Day Four

I finally tuned in to today and checked out some of the matches in Rotterdam. As I was watching Rafael Nadal outlast 478th ranked Grigor Dmitrov in the third set, the first thing I noticed was the net.

It wasn’t the “ATP WORLD TOUR” strung across the net as much as what wasn’t there: the Mercedes Benz logo. I knew that Mercedes Benz had pulled out as an ATP tour-wide sponsor but I didn’t know that the ATP hadn’t found a replacement yet. We were talking about this in comments this week: How will tennis manage during the economic turndown?

The Masters Event in Indian Wells lost its sponsor, Pacific Life, but managed to find a new one in BNP Paribas. That’s rather a curious choice because BNP Paribas is a huge French bank, not an American bank. As far as I know, I can’t waltz into a BNP P local branch in the U.S. and deposit my shrinking paycheck.

BNP P is a huge supporter of tennis. Besides Indian Wells, which will now be known as the BNP Paribas Open, there is also the BNP Paribas Masters – the year end Masters event in Paris. And if you look here, you’ll not only see that it’s a sponsor for Davis Cup, Fed Cup, Roland Garros, Rome and Monte Carlo, but it was also the progenitor for the ad where everyone runs onto the tennis court during the middle of a match. Guillermo Vilas turns up in the BNP P ad but, then, he turns up everywhere.

It turns out that there might be a bit of an economics lesson here. In August of 2007, a year and a half ago mind you, BNP P reported problems with three of its financial funds because of exposure to subprime lending markets in the U.S. The European Central Bank bailed them out of that problem and keep in mind that France has nationalized its banks twice since World War II, once in 1945 and again in 1981.

Those banks are now private again, but as the U.S. bails out its economy, some economists are calling for nationalization of the banks. I’m just sayin’, Europe appears to be ahead of the curve and now they’re stepping in and supporting a tournament that the U.S. can’t support.

BNP P may not have bank branches on U.S. soil but it’s deeply entrenched in U.S. finance. Among other financial institutions, it owns the Bank of the West (sponsor of the WTA event in Stanford), the First Hawaiian Bank, and Mutual of New York – the company that used to reside in that 25 story building in Manhattan with the huge MONY sign on it. MONY demutualized itself in 1998 and in 2004 became a subsidiary of a subsidiary of BNP P.

BNP P may have been rescued from its subprime problem but last week the Wall Street Journal reported that it lost over $430 million in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. Maybe it’s a good thing that BNP P is taking over. We couldn’t be doing much worse and at least we’ll learn how to pronounce French even if we can’t speak it.

One more thing I’d like to say about the economic turndown. This year the ATP and WTA rolled out new restrictions on players in exchange for higher prize money. Higher prize money doesn’t look so good now that spending is down and corporate sponsors can’t even use their bailout money to send employees on a Las Vegas junket let alone sponsor a tennis tournament. However, it is a good idea because all of the top players will turn up at the big events else they’ll face a huge fine.

The ATP has also changed its ranking system to give more points to players who reach higher rounds at the bigger tournaments. This means that a player has to do well at slams and Masters events if they want to be in the top ten or top five. No more piling up points at smaller events. Do you hear that Nikolay Davydenko? Let’s see if you drop in the rankings this year.

It also means that the top players will get more rankings points because they do well at slams and the top of the rankings will be more stable. Lower ranked players might not like it because it’s harder to get to the top, but it’s all about marketing top players so tennis has made a smart move.

I’d also like to say something more about Grigor Dimitrov, Nadal’s latest victim, but has that live streaming problem known as “no going back.” There’s no way to rewind the stream or record the stream.’s predecessor, ATPMastersSeries.TV, offered replays at $3 a pop, but that adds up and I live on the west coast of the U.S. Those European matches finish around lunchtime so I only caught the end of the third set.

Dimitrov is a 17 year old Bulgarian who won the Wimbledon and U.S. Open junior title last year. He beat Tomas Berdych in the first round at Rotterdam and took Rafa to three sets today in the second round. It’s easy to get carried away with a new talent and the world is littered with athletes who didn’t live up to the hype, so I’m going to keep following Marin Cilic and Ernests Gulbis – and particularly Cilic who’s won two titles this year, and let the young guy Dimitrov toil in anonymity a bit longer.

And tomorrow I’ll try to get home in time to tune in to Rafa versus Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Tsonga beat Dmitry Tursunov today and is there anyone out there with as sweet a volley as Tsonga? He digs out those dipping balls and turns them into drop volley winners better than anyone I’ve seen since Wimbledon stopped being a grass court and turned into a plain old fast hard court.

If Tsonga is on his game and Rafa outlasts him too, everyone should be very afraid.

Steroids Again: Mea Culpa

[I think I was on drugs when I originally posted a piece titled “Why Didn’t Tennis Give Marcelo Rios a Slam Title?” I somehow transposed Petr Korda’s steroid test from Wimbledon to the Australian Open and from 1999 to 1998. I have made corrections below.]

Amidst further revelations about steroid use in baseball, how does tennis deal with a slam champion who tests positive for steroids?

I got into trouble Thursday for failing to adequately explain my snarkiness after Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer to win the Aussie Open title. Because I wanted Roger to win (see below for further explanation) I was snarky and complained – to myself – that Rafa must be taking performance enhancing drugs of some sort in much the same way that fans complain about the officiating when their team loses. It’s called sour grapes. Bad sportsmanship. You could even call it whining.But can you blame me? Okay, I’m a whiner and I curse when I lose tennis matches, but today more drug revelations appeared in the U.S. this week in the wake of baseball player Barry Bonds’ trial for allegedly lying to a grand jury about using steroids. Four different sources have told Sports Illustrated that Alex Rodriguez, the New York Yankees golden boy and likely successor to Bonds as the holder of the most hallowed record in baseball – career home runs, tested positive for steroids in 2003, the same year he received his first Most Valuable Player award.

It did get me wondering a bit. What if someone wins a slam and tests positive for P.E.D.s? Is it like the Olympics where they take away the gold medal and give it to the runner-up? Despite my assertion that Petr Korda tested positive after winning a slam – he won the Australian Open in 1998, tennis has never had a slam winner test positive for P.E.D.s.

Korda tested positive after losing in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon later that year. The closest thing we have is Mariano Puerta. He tested positive for etilefrine at the 2005 French Open after losing the final to Rafa.

Both Korda and Puerta received suspensions and had to give back their prize money, but what are you going to do – change the record books? Do you wipe Puerta’s name off the tournament draw and bump up his semifinal opponent to the final and his quarterfinal opponent to the semifinal, so on and so forth? That wouldn’t work because the draw is a historical document. It shows the actual matchups that took place.

Baseball is in a tough position because it’s hard to know how many home runs to take away from Bonds or Rodriguez, but I’m assuming tennis would give a slam title to the losing finalist if the actual winner tested positive for banned substances of any sort.

I also got in trouble because I didn’t adequately explain why I wanted Roger to win. I live in sports mad U.S.A. where football is king followed by baseball and basketball. NASCAR racing is probably next followed by hockey. Then there is the general category of college sports because we are the only nation I know that gives academic scholarships for athletic skills and we’re the only nation who’s college athletic association, the NCAA, has a seven year billion dollar television contract for its year-end basketball tournament. Notice, that’s for one sport only and that sport’s year-end tournament only, not even the full season.

Recently, though, tennis has been getting airtime on sports radio shows and that is a huge big deal because tennis usually gets pips and squeaks in comparison to those other sports. Last year’s humongous Wimbledon final kicked it off and now, with a five set Australian final, the talk is growing.

And that’s why I wanted Roger to win. If he can’t beat Rafa on hard court and he can’t beat him on grass, we’ll lose the momentum we’re gaining. There is no rivalry.
And Rafa, has there ever been a mentally tougher tennis player? Roger has been a good front runner but much shakier when coming from behind. I might have picked Borg before but Rafa is overtaking him. And I have Rafa beating out Michael Jordan actually left basketball for a few years to pursue a baseball career. I guess he got bored.

When I mentioned all this to my chiropractor as he was in the middle of an adjustment to get my ileocecal valve and Houston valve working properly – the first one is the valve between the small and the large intestine, the second is the valve between the large intestine and… oh never mind, the chiropractor mentioned Tiger Woods and I have to agree. Tiger won the U.S. Open championship last year on a torn anterior cruciate ligament. That’s what tears when you see American football players scream and crumple to the ground never to be seen again until after reconstructive surgery and a six to nine month recovery period. And Tiger played the entire tournament with it. That takes the cake for athletic performance under physical duress.

Having said that, golf doesn’t require a whole lot of lateral movement or even movement forward and back, and those five and half hours on the course are mostly spent standing around. If Rafa can keep getting better against all odds – meaning that tape around his knees and the wear and tear on his body, he’ll join the Jordan-Woods pantheon in my eyes.