Rumor hot line was buzzing this past week. Sure an ATP Masters Series and a WTA Tier 1 event were taking place but who could resist wondering if Miroslava Vavrinec is pregnant? Tennis.com published it online about 3:00p eastern United States time. It was gone after 5:00p, again eastern United States time. By that time of course tennisheads around the world were speculating what this would do the the man still looked on as the FedGod by some. Mr Federer denied that his constant companion is pregnant. That should settle that, no?
The other hot rumor involves Maria Sharapova. No she's not rumored to be pregnant. There is speculation that she may skip Miami though. She made statements after losing to Svetlana Kuznetsova regarding fatigue and the need for rest that would lead one to believe she may just skip the event known as the Fifth Slam. Of course it has nothing to do with Justine, Serena, and Venus, well rested and fit, will be there. Maria isn't the Tommy Haas of the WTA. And even if it wasn't that, Sony Ericsson would have a cow. She just signed a mega deal with them as their spokesperson. Somehow I don't believe they will react kindly to a non show by their star. If this is her way to try and get a cakewalk to the semi's though it just may work. Source
The Miami Herald is reporting that Maria has officially withdrawn from Miami.
What Makes A Champion
Speaking of Herr Haas I think those poisoning rumors can be put to rest. Tommy boy may have been suffering from gastric distress during the tie with Russia but it was probably of his own making. Talk was the Russian's always said they wouldn't bother to poison Haas. I believe them now that a stuffy nose has caused Tommy to pull out of his quarter final meeting with Mirka's baby daddy. Another German player, Philipp Kohlschreiber had a horrible cold and managed to play three sets of competitive tennis. If I were Herr Kohlschreiber I'd avoid macchiatta's for the foreseeable future.
So they held a "Challenger" event this week in Florida. Called "Sunrise" it had a line up that looked like a main tour ATP event. Nice idea though. Sandwiched in between the Pacific Life Open and Sony Ericsson this event is either a consolation tournament or a warm-up for ATP players. Nice move guys.
Tennis and Race
While Senator Barack Obama was challenging the United States to talk seriously about race, Richard Williams was doing his part to start a dialogue. The entire article is HERE. I leave it up to you to read the interview. It's not that long. I think anyone reading the article should keep in mind that Richard Williams was born and raised in the Deep South. Nooses hanging from trees during his youth more than likely featured a body hanging from them. The Jim Crow system was in full force. Black men don't always talk about racism candidly with those perceived as outsiders. As a black woman I've known my share of racism but I can only imagine what it takes for a Black man to navigate through a society that at times seems intent on denying the very fact that he is a man. As a rule I think the majority society would be stunned to know what most Black men think. Hey, Larry Scott even stopped ruminating on his Golden Child to make a statement. For those who think Richard just ran off at the mouth keep in mind he steered completely clear of Jennifer Capriati's situation when discussing his daughters off court activities and why they're healthy for them as athletes. He knew exactly what he was doing and saying. Just my humble opinion.
You can imagine my surprise when a player named Mark Nielsen from New Zealand was suspended for two years after testing positive for a banned substance. The ATP was making it seem all the druggies were from one country. Who knew?
From the "What Took So Long" Files...
There will now be uniformity regarding challenges on court.
Each player will get a maximum of three unsuccessful challenges per set, plus one wrong challenge in a tiebreaker, the International Tennis Federation said Wednesday in a joint statement with the ATP, WTA Tour and Grand Slam committee.
Players can still make an unlimited number of correct challenges.
Challenge System Revised
It's almost time for clay court tennis! No more 140+ mile an hour serves masquerading as tennis. Thought, point construction and physical fitness will be seen once again.
I have to say that the hard court season has surprised with actual tennis managing to sneak it's way in. After Miami I'll give a summary of what I think were the best hard court matches so far.
FSN has ventured into tennis. With ESPN more interested in bass fishing I was holding out hope for better coverage from the people at Fox. Hope is a fragile thing. Yesterday being Good Friday I was home stretched out on the couch watching Mardy Fish versus David Nalbandian. Well kinda sorta watching in between cat naps. I did know they split the first two sets and that a third was in the offing so it's not like I was dead asleep okay?
Now fully awake I saw what I thought was a commercial for upcoming National Hockey League coverage. "Long commercial," I thought to myself checking the time to see if I'd really lost an hour and missed the televising of the third set (which turned out to be a tie break but I digress). I hadn't. FSN just switched coverage. No announcement, no warning. One minute tennis was on. The next it was hockey. They did stick with coverage during some crucial men's matches but overall I have to say the switch they pulled yesterday, and other days, is what I'm taking away from their coverage. There are like a gazillion FSN channels. A simple announcement to hockey or tennis fans saying that coverage would continue on FSN channel 6000 would suffice. Tennis fans are literate and I'm sure most NHL fans are too. I felt like the person who left a spouse for someone else only to find out the new person was worse than the first one. At least ESPN let you know they were switching to bass fishing. It can only get better right?
I also came to the realization this week that there is "homerism" and then there's Justin Gimelstob. I missed the ESPN team. Even Patrick McEnroe. The only sisters there were the Radwanska's and the Bondarenko's so Cliffy wouldn't have been confused. Patrick would have had to call the matches without channeling his inner fanboy. The only way to watch tennis from home is with the sound on so that you can hear the sound of the ball on the racquet and hitting the court. When you have to turn the sound off in order to avoid destroying your television it's bad. I don't have Tennis Channel so I was not prepared for Justin's style of analysis. I should have known what to expect though since he is the man who screamed at Federer from the sidelines of a match he was covering to challenge a call. What happened to objective reporting and commentary? I understand Justin is friendly with most of the players. But he should check his friendship at the door. It made for very uncomfortable viewing for this fan. For match calling the BBC is still tops.
ATP Masters Series Television had a lot of technical difficulties this go around for some reason. A lot of buffering occurred which is not normal for the site. I am glad that for featured matches the subscriber had the option to listen or not listen to commentary. Most of the time I chose the without commentary option. Made it feel like I was there live.
Pictures of the Week
I don't know who Harry How is. I do know he has a fantastic eye and managed to take pictures of tennis players that approached high art. His use of color and shade in this age of digital photography is stunning. Here is a sample of his work.