Thursday, April 10, 2008

Ex-player Klemenschits dead at 25

I confess I had never heard of Daniela Klemenschits until today. But I think this deserves a mention. She hand her twin sister were BOTH diagnosed with abdominal cancer in January of last year? Are you kidding me? Life is too cruel.
Former Austrian doubles player Daniela Klemenschits died Wednesday after battling cancer. She was 25.

The Austrian tennis federation said Wednesday that Klemenschits and her twin sister Sandra were diagnosed with a rare form of abdominal cancer in January last year, forcing them to retire.

They played doubles on the WTA Tour and the ITF women's circuit until 2006.

Daniela had several tumors removed and required expensive medical care. Roger Federer, Marat Safin, Justine Henin, Amelie Mauresmo, Martina Hingis and others donated items for an online auction in June to raise funds for her treatment.

The Klemenschits sisters won 20 titles on the ITF circuit. Although they didn't win a WTA Tour event, they entered the top 100 of the WTA doubles ranking in 2005.
Tennis is ultimately a small community. It's good to know that the players pitched in to try to help an unheralded player in need. Condolences to the Klemenschits family and Austrian Federation.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Chris & Martina on Oprah

Apparently Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova visited with Oprah this week. Chris always did look good in red. These two are in their 50s? A good advertisement for the capacity of women's athletics to keep the old body youthful. 

Fascinating, isn't it, that two fierce rivals who played each other more than 150 times would console each other in the locker room? Can you imagine Justine and Serena doing that? Neither can I. I'm pretty sure they would strangle each other with their disrespect.

This gives me the opportunity to comment on the revamped Tennis Week site that produced the video.  The weekly newspaper Tennis Week was once the only tennis journalism that mattered in the States. When founder Gene Scott died a few years ago it was a terrible loss for tennis. Gene was the conscience of tennis. Whether you agreed or disagreed with the substance of his editorials, it was evident that every word was designed with the best interests of the sport in mind. Gene Scott wasn't afraid to get on the bully pulpit and yell at the game's various special interests. His newspaper was a delight to hardcore fans and favored by industry insiders. 

I've given the new website version of Tennis Week a chance. It's been around for at least six months, probably a lot longer. I have no idea what the print version looks like, but if the website is any indication, it's a lost cause. 

I hate the glossy "In Touch Weekly" "People" or "Us" makeover. 

I hate that there are fewer articles of substance.

I hate the daily video. I don't need that woman giving me Us Weekly stories about tennis. Especially when it ignores serious issues or things that are even timely... Like today, when we learned the Venus is out of commission because of what is described as non-serious medical testing (huh? Get well soon), an Austrian player died of cancer, and Jo Tsonga is out of the US-France Davis Cup clash, which dramatically changes the dynamic.

How much are they paying for that woman to read two minutes of People Magazine stuff? We all know Roddick is friend's with Boyd Tinsley. What we didn't know until this week is that Andy Roddick is friends with T.O. Yes... Terrelle Owens. Weird, wacky, wonderful tennis. I learned of that pairing from the New York Times. When Tennis Week is getting scooped by the NYT, it's time to shut it down.

Ok. Maybe I'm too harsh. Maybe a fluff video is a good thing for tennis. Fine, that girl can even read it. But why does the essence of the paper have to change? Gene would NEVER have approved of this.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Roger Fans, It's Time to Panic

So far in 20008 fans of Roger Federer have been in "what-me-worry" mode while glancing quickly from side to side to see if anyone is noticing them sweat. Despite well-reasoned articles and posts (like mine) calmly explaining that Federer's successes are slowing down but he will still beat Pete's record, his fans (and Roger) reacted pretty defensively, as if we'd just predicted Roger wouldn't win another match in his career.

When Roger's manager let it "slip" that Roger had mono before the Australian Open, fans said "we told you so!" and seized on that explanation for why their man had been out of sorts. 

(If you think the manager accidentally revealed the mono, you probably still think the 9/11 hijakers were from Iraq. He had to spill it right before the Madison Square Garden match against Pete Sampras, just in case Roger lost. Well, Roger almost lost anyway, in a match that showed how great Pete can still play in one-off matches).

But last week in Indian Wells Roger lost to American Mardy Fish --Mardy Fish!-- 6-2, 6-3. That was bad but maybe, his supporters said, explainable, since Fish was on fire (insert fish fry jokes here) and Roger was probably tired from playing Pete in New York.

Roger lost to Roddick and he said all the right things afterward. Roger made an uncharacteristic number of errors in the final set, but said Roddick had previously lost a few matches to him that he really should have won, and it was only a matter of time before Andy took one away from Roger. So Roger was saying it was not too devastating to lose to someone who he has consistently praised as one of his toughest opponents, even when he was destroying Roddick.

But Roger losing to a player he had owned 11 straight times has got to be a shock to the system precisely because it is in these situations where he previously thrived. Trying to make a point, beating up on an opponent he had respect for, I think he was a safe bet to win this tournament. Roger is a lot like other champions in that if you are going to catch them on an off-day, it will be in the later rounds. Pete Sampras was notorious for that. If he didn't lose before the semifinals, he would be virtually impossible to beat because he raised his game.

Of course as we must always point out, Roger has been unique in the history of the game because he hasn't had bad tournaments here and there. He played almost error free tennis for four long years. He hadn't previously revealed himself to be human. It would stand to reason that he still has great tennis left in him. 

But...but...consider what happened to Mats Wilander after his untouchable year, and how Federer himself played for the first five years of his career, when he showed flashes of brilliance and a lot of bad play. Perhaps he's eaten some kryptonite after all.

Youzhny Beats Self with Racket: Blood Pours Out

Russia's Mikhail Youzhny became yesterday's youtube sensation after beating himself in the head with his racket, causing a beautiful red stream of blood to pour down his face.

The video was watched over 500,000 times by Wednesday afternoon.

I've always said this sport was great theater.

I love the way his opponent, Nicolas Almagro, goes over to visit him in the chair and peers down at him as if he's visiting Youzhny in the insane asylum. Both men laughed, but Youzhny got the last one.

He won.

The Future Ex-Mrs. Roddick

This is Brooklyn Decker, Roddick's new fiance. I know, totally fake name right? For the record, I agree with celebrity gossipmonger Perez Hilton, who gives it two years to fail. Sorry Andy.

Like Nick Lachey before him, Roddick will soon figure out he didn't need to marry the model to um... you know. Then one day he'll be watching basketball and his wife will ask him if Chicken of the Sea is really sea-water chicken, rather than um... you know, tuna.

What, Jessica Simpson was a singer when she made that famous comment about chi-tuna? Huh. Who knew? Remember that miserable look Nick got on his face when he realized Simpson was dead serious? 

At least she's moved on to someone who can match her stupidity for stupidity:  Cowboys QB Tony Romo.

Congratulations and good luck Andy.

Roddick Beats Roger!

For just the second time in his career, Andy Roddick defeated Roger Federer tonight in Miami, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-3. Roddick is now 2-15 against Roger. 

There have been times when Roddick was so close to beating Roger, most notably in that Wimbledon final. But not lately. His game matches up miserably with TMF and their matches have been mostly blowouts for the last couple of years.

Roddick started the year with a miserable Australian Open when he embarassed himself with a Jimmy Connors-like tirade and meltdown. A few weeks later, the two amicably ended their coaching relationship.

Roddick promptly captured the title at Dubai, defeating Rafael Nadal in the semis. It was his first Masters' title in a few years. He is now 19-3 on the year with two titles.

Oh by the way, Roddick got engaged to that swimsuit model last week too. Who gets more credit for Roddick's turnaround, said Model or said ex-coach?

I say neither. I think Roddick deserves all credit for how he's currently comporting himself on the tennis court. A few weeks ago Andy announced he would skip the Olympics to prepare for the US Open. I applauded that decision because no one has been more dedicated to representing the USA in Davis Cup. The Olympics promises to be one big exhausting Hot China Mess (I'll be sharing my own misgivings about the Olympics in a future post). He has taken responsibility for the coaching, for his style of play, for his schedule and for his life. In short, Roddick is acting like a man.