Join us for the Paris Masters final! We’ll be blogging live this Sunday, November 4th, 7:30am Los Angeles/10:30am New York/3:30pm London (remember to set your clock back one hour Saturday night if you live in the U.S.).

Martina Hingis tested positive for cocaine and Roger Federer lost to David Nalbandian twice in a row. What is the world coming to?

A friend sent me an email invitation to an event at a local S&M parlor this weekend. I’m pretty vanilla so I didn’t accept the invitation but I was interested in the title of one of the workshops: Crack Addict. What’s crack got to do with S&M I wondered? Is that a new kind of kink I’ve never heard of before?

There are no doubt plenty of kinky acts I’ve never heard of but this one refers to whips. As in cracking a whip. Get it?

Crack is also connected to cocaine – it’s a diluted cocaine in the form of a rock – and I was even more surprised to hear it connected with Martina Hingis. I’m not naïve enough to think that rich athletes don’t try cocaine now and then and more power to them. I did enough acid and marijuana in my youth to get my fill, let others do it too. How else will they know what they’re missing?

Martina, however, tested positive for cocaine at Wimbledon and that’s bit of a problem because cocaine is a stimulant which makes it a banned substance. Her response? I didn’t do it.

Here we go again. In the famous words of Rafael Palmeiro who sat in front of a congressional hearing on steroids, pointed his finger and said:

I have never used steroids. Period. I don’t know how to say it any more clearly than that. Never.

Five months later he tested positive for the steroid stanozolol and suggested that the positive test had come from a liquid B-12 vitamin given him by a teammate. Later that season Palmeiro went home and he hasn’t played since.

Hingis is doing the retiring thing too and she’s denying that she ever used cocaine. This is her stated reason for retiring: “I do not want to have a fight with anti-doping authorities.” I can sympathize with that. I’ve written about the unfair balance of power held by anti-doping organizations over athletes and you have to wonder why it takes them four months to process a positive test.

But Martina, you can’t have it both ways. If you didn’t do cocaine, retiring sends a decidedly mixed message. The positive test result will stand if you don’t challenge it.

Does this taint Martina’s career? Not in the least. Party on girl, just be smarter about it. It’s not like cocaine is helpful in a tennis match. It’s a short lived high.

Martina’s return to tennis in 2006 after a three year layoff has been pretty cool. She’s done about what I expected. She got into the top ten, reached the quarterfinals at three slams, and won three titles. She can be proud of that.

Still, if she doesn’t fight the cocaine thing, she’ll go down as just one more big fat denier in a long line of deniers. And that’s really unfortunate because a huge part of Martina’s appeal was her unedited mouth. If she didn’t think much of an opponent’s game, she’d say so. If she was mad at the WTA, she’d say so.

And now she’s giving up because the case could drag on for years? Where’s your sense of outrage, Martina? It just doesn’t wash.

I’m hoping my co-writer Pat Davis will write one of her wonderful remembrances on the occasion of Martina’s retirement. How about it Pat?

Nalbandian Beats Federer Again

David Nalbandian beat Roger Federer again today in Paris. I don’t have time to write about it tonight but I’ll weigh in tomorrow.

I will say one thing. I expected Federer to lose early since he needs to get his rest for Shanghai – this is his third straight tournament – but I didn’t expect Nalbandian to keep rolling and how wrong I was.

Okay, I’ll say two things. Federer was beaten by Guillermo Canas in two consecutive tournaments earlier this year and now he’s been beaten twice by Nalbandian within three weeks. Federer’s hallmark is his ability to figure out an opponent’s game so we can assume the problem is not strategy. And as far as we know, he’s not losing brain cells.

That means Federer is not able to execute his strategy. It’s a very slight drop, he still won three slams this year, but it’s a clear indication of slippage in his game.

That brings us to today’s poll because Federer is also losing his grip on the number one ranking.

Pollster

The year end rankings for 2007 will have Federer as the number one player, Rafael Nadal as number two, and Novak Djokovic as number three. Here’s the question:

Exactly one year from today, who will be the number one ranked player in the ATP?
Roger Federer? Rafael Nadal? Novak Djokovic? None of the above?

Go to the poll on the right of the screen and to vote.

Tennis Diary TV Feature

Some of my favorite shows of all time are the Looney Tunes cartoons featuring Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner. The hapless coyote Wile E. repeatedly tries to trap the annoying little Road Runner for dinner and Road Runner repeatedly escapes, usually leaving Wile E. to suffer in a contraption of his own making that has backfired on him.

It’s all very simple, stupid, and hilarious. Just my style.

In that vein, I bring you this week’s Tennis Diary TV Feature: Tennis Funnies (If Tennis Funnies is not currently playing, click on Channel Guide and select it.)

It’s simple, sometimes crude, stupid, and really funny. Have a laugh. Why not? The world is falling apart.


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