Category Archives: Pollster

Quick Hit: Male Centerfold of the Year

It’s that time of the year. Roll on over to the right side of the page and vote for your choice of Male Centerfold of the year.

I’m in Love with Steffi Graf

Steffi Graf or Pete Sampras, who’s slam record is most impressive?

You might know the actor Hugh Laurie as Dr. Greg House from the U.S. television show House. Or you might remember him as Bertie Wooster, the hapless employer of Jeeves in the British television show Jeeves and Wooster. Maybe you watched him in Black Adder, a British television show that starred Rowan Atkinson, aka Mr. Bean.

Laurie is another one of those ridiculously talented British actors. He’s a successful novelist and he’s also a singer/songwriter. If you go to the right side of this page and tune in to Tennis Diary TV you can see Laurie perform the song, “I’m in love with Steffi Graf.” (Click on Channel Guide if it’s not the current video.)

Laurie’s Steffi is an angel who “folds her wings and walks like you and me.” And it doesn’t matter whether it’s clay or grass, “she’ll flay your ass.”

For some reason I had forgotten that Margaret Court holds the record for most slam wins with 24. Graf is second with 22. I consider Graf the better tennis player because her era was more competitive. Graf beat Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Monica Seles and Martina Hingis to win slams.

Of course it would have been much more competitive if a crazed fan of Steffi’s hadn’t stabbed Seles in the back but here’s the question: Is Steffi Graf’s record of 22 slams a bigger accomplishment that Pete Sampras’ 14 slams? Go over to the right side of the page and cast your vote.

On the face of it, you might think it’s a no-brainer. Steffi won all four slams at least four times including the golden slam in 1988 (all four slams and the gold medal at the Olympics). Sampras won the gold medal at the 1987 Olympics but he never won more than two slams in one year and he never won the French Open.

But the top women won a lot more slams than the top men. The number five woman on the list, Chris Evert, has four more slams than Sampras. And the women won a whole lot more career titles. Martina Navratilova has 58 more titles than the men’s leader in that category: Jimmy Connors. That’s pretty ridiculous.

Clearly the men’s tour is more competitive. The slams even more so. Steffi won her 1988 French Open final by the score of 6-0, 6-0. Has that ever happened on the men’s tour? Then there is that little matter of five set matches. All of the men’s matches in slams are best of five sets while the women play best of three sets.

Whaddya think?


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Tall Dudes in Cincinnati

The U.S. is turning out tall dudes who serve big.

John Isner is a shade over 6ft 9in and he hit a 125mph (201km/h) second serve in Cincinnati today. Damn that’s quick. Isner has really awkward ground strokes though. He stands straight up when he hits the ball. With all that height, imagine how hard he could hit it if he bent his knees a tad.

Isner was ranked number 745 less than a month ago. Then he won a challenger and hit 144 aces in Washington and now his ranking is 192. Today he hit only nine aces and lost in straight sets to David Ferrer, 7-6(3), 6-3.

Amer Delic is similar. He’s 6ft 5in and he’s good as long as he gets his first serve in. He couldn’t get it in often enough today and he fell to Ivan Ljubicic, 1-6, 7-6(3), 6-3.

The U.S. is turning out tall dudes with big serves and they are hopeless once they leave hard courts. Sam Querrey is 6ft 6in. He played six clay court tournaments this year and lost in the first round four times. That was so discouraging that he lost in the first round of his next four tournaments.

Querrey is slightly different from Isner and Delic because he has a baseline game. He had a beautiful thirty stroke rally today with Marc Gicquel, a master retriever. Querrey lost the point but he won the match, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4

Every day on my way to the media room at last week’s WTA event in Los Angeles, I passed a demo of a synthetic red clay court. They’re rare in the U.S. but there are a few thousand of them in Europe. No watering necessary and the lines are painted on. The USTA should start peppering the country with these things and see if the U.S. can turn out some tall dudes who can serve big but also have the patience to construct a point.

It’s a lot cheaper than sending all our juniors to a tennis academy in Barcelona for their teenage years.

Finally, a New Poll

I kept forgetting to change the poll over there on the right side of this page. As a result, it had some interesting numbers. The poll asked the following question: How many Wimbledons will Rafael Nadal win?

Originally, the choices were 1, 2, and 3 or more. I left out 0 because I assumed most people watched Nadal lose Wimbledon by a hair to Roger Federer this year. Someone disagreed and added the choice 0 and that turned out to be the winner.

It only won by one vote but you have to wonder what those people were watching. Nadal is only getting better on grass. Today I’m putting up a new poll and I’m leaving the 0 off again. Here’s the question:

What are Roger Federer’s chances of winning the U.S. Open? 25%? 50%? 75%? 100%?

They just went down with his loss to Novak Djokovic in Montreal and they’d already suffered with Federer’s other hard court results. We just started our fourth hard court Masters Series event of the year and he has yet to win one.

Look to the right side of this page and do your duty. Vote!


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Ana Ivanovic: Big, Dark, and Beautiful

Ana Ivanovic can beat Maria Sharapova on the court but can she compete with her in the land of endorsements?

When I opened my email box this morning, I found this curious bit of information courtesy of Bob Larson’s Tennis News: Ana Ivanovic will try to beat Justine Henin and win the French Open title on Saturday without the services of her temporary coach, Sven Groeneveld. Groeneveld has been working with her at the French Open as part of an agreement with apparel maker adidas but therein likes the problem: Groeneveld’s contract forbids him from helping Ivanovic in the title match because Henin also wears adidas.

Essentially, adidas loaned a coach to one of their players for a slam event but only as long it didn’t threaten another adidas player. I have tried but I cannot think of any reason why this should be. Can you? Since when do apparel companies choose coaches for their clients? Aren’t managers supposed to do that?

I find Ana Ivanovic every bit as beautiful as Maria Sharapova so I was wondering: can Ivanovic become the endorsement magnet that Sharapova is? Can you be big and dark or do you have to be blond and skinny?

Anna Kournikova was the endorsement queen before Sharapova and she was a different story. She was all about sex. Sharapova is more like the imperious fashion model and less the alluring sex kitten. Ivanovic is the wide eyed girl who grew up amidst the bombs in Serbia and now lives in Basel, Switzerland.

Because Ivanovic does not reside in the U.S., she may have to take the same path to endorsement riches as her fellow Basel resident, Roger Federer. He didn’t get a GQ spread with photos by Annie Leibovitz until after he’d won ten slams.

Kournikova never won a singles title in her career but that didn’t stop her from getting a television commercial featuring Mary Jo Fernandez advising us that players were jealous of Kournikova’s, ahem, “portfolio”. That’s just how it is when you’re one of the sexiest people in the universe. You could be a bricklayer and you’d still get endorsements. Ivanovic comes across more as the friendly fashion model type with a bit of wide eyed wholesomeness thrown in. She may have to win a few slams before we see her beautiful face plastered all over our television sets.

I, for one, will be happy to see that.

Pollster – here’s the new poll (go to the sidebar to cast your vote)

Ana Ivanovic can beat Maria Sharapova on the court but can she compete with Maria Sharapova for endorsements off the court? Yes or no?


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Pollster: How Many Tennis Players Are Doing Drugs?

Announcing our new feature: Pollster. A weekly poll on subjects from the serious to the frivolous in the game of tennis. This week we look at drug use.

Richard Gasquet and Guillermo Canas lost in Rome today but I’ll talk about that tomorrow. Right now I’m a bit exhausted. The Hollywood Hills fire is less than five minutes from my house – the house I lived in last year had to be evacuated – and I’m a bit worn out from the worry.

However, I do have enough energy left to introduce our new weekly feature: Pollster. Yep, every week we’ll put up a new poll and you can poll to your heart’s content (the poll is located on the right sidebar). If you have any suggestions for new polls or complaints about them or even a bit of appreciation, just leave a comment. Here goes.

In the 2003, the Balco Scandal uncovered wide spread use of performance enhancing drugs in track and field and baseball. Recently, a former New York Mets employee named Kirk Radomski pleaded guilty to distributing drugs to dozens of professional baseball players between the years 1995 and 2005. Radomski has been working undercover for Federal authorities since they raided his home in late 2005.

Baseball started testing for steroids in 2003 and suspending players for positive tests in 2005, yet Radomski was doing a hearty business until his guilty plea. One of the substances he distributed was human growth hormone and there is no test for that, but he also distributed steroids and amphetamines. Only fifteen players have received suspensions so far which means there are a number of players doing these substances and not getting caught.

Testing for performance enhancing drugs does not appear to work very well. Those players who do get caught are probably ill-informed and unsophisticated users. So here’s the question:

Baseball players appear to be using drugs without getting caught. How many tennis players use performance enhancing drugs: 5% 15% 30% 50%?

Note: I’m not objecting to steroid use necessarily, I’m more interested in the cat and mouse game between players and anti-doping organizations. It’s a modern version of cops and robbers with the players barely, but more or less successfully, staying ahead of authorities. We spend a lot of time and energy testing for performance enhancing drugs but it’s not clear that it works.Richard Gasquet and Guillermo Canas lost in Rome today but I’ll talk about that tomorrow. Right now I’m a bit exhausted. The Hollywood Hills fire is less than five minutes from my house – the house I lived in last year had to be evacuated – and I’m a bit worn out from the worry.

However, I do have enough energy left to introduce our new weekly feature: Pollster. Yep, every week we’ll put up a new poll and you can poll to your heart’s content (the poll is located on the right sidebar). If you have any suggestions for new polls or complaints about them or even a bit of appreciation, just leave a comment. Here goes.

In the 2003, the Balco Scandal uncovered wide spread use of performance enhancing drugs in track and field and baseball. Recently, a former New York Mets employee named Kirk Radomski pleaded guilty to distributing drugs to dozens of professional baseball players between the years 1995 and 2005. Radomski has been working undercover for Federal authorities since they raided his home in late 2005.

Baseball started testing for steroids in 2003 and suspending players for positive tests in 2005, yet Radomski was doing a hearty business until his guilty plea. One of the substances he distributed was human growth hormone and there is no test for that, but he also distributed steroids and amphetamines. Only fifteen players have received suspensions so far which means there are a number of players doing these substances and not getting caught.

Testing for performance enhancing drugs does not appear to work very well. Those players who do get caught are probably ill-informed and unsophisticated users. So here’s the question:

Baseball players appear to be using drugs without getting caught. How many tennis players use performance enhancing drugs: 5% 15% 30% 50%?

Note: I’m not objecting to steroid use necessarily, I’m more interested in the cat and mouse game between players and anti-doping organizations. It’s a modern version of cops and robbers with the players barely, but more or less successfully, staying ahead of authorities. We spend a lot of time and energy testing for performance enhancing drugs but it’s not clear that it works.