This and That

by Savannah


The law of unintended consequences is a weird thing. It comes into play when the person who falls victim to it least expects it. When David Law of @DavidLawTennis posted the above picture on his Twitter feed I’m sure he wasn’t intending on making a commentary about what is wrong with tennis journalism. After all this was just a snapshot of his colleagues, his fellow tennis journalists. Whether he intended to or not he did end up making a very profound statement about his peers and why tennis is covered the way it is.

Look closely. Or not. You really don’t have to look too closely to see that all of the men in the picture are white men. Some have gray hair and some don’t but that is the extent of the diversity shown. No women. No people of color. No younger men. Back in the days when print journalism ruled there was the expression S”a picture is worth a thousand words”. In this case I think the expression is all that’s needed.

Ivan Lendl

I’m probably the only person who is disappointed in Andy Murray‘s decision to work with Ivan Lendl again. Lendl, you’ll remember, walked away from his coaching gig with Murray because he didn’t want to travel. Murray, to the consternation of the crew pictured above, chose Amélie Mauresmo as his coach. The two did well together but I think they both underestimated the demands of parenthood and parted on speaking terms. Almost immediately the old boy network began calling for him to go back to Lendl. Was it because the partnership with Mauresmo was bad? No one said that. It had to do with who Mauresmo is and the fact that she didn’t fit into the OBN’s view of the world.

So why is Lendl back? Why didn’t he work with fellow Czech Tomas Berdych? Who knows? It’s been reported that Berdych really wanted Lendl in his camp and that he is extremely disappointed that Lendl decided to work with Murray again.

I have no idea why Lendl does what he does. The entire situation reminds me of a romantic one where your lover/partner walks out on you saying “It’s not you it’s me” and then shows up again a bit later saying that they made a mistake. Yeah. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

So why am I talking about the Murray/Lendl situation and not the Milos Raonic/John McEnroe situation? Is it better for Raonic who has shown he will hire former players as coaches that he feels will help him master a particular surface (Carlos Moya).

Keep in mind that United States and Canadian tennis federations are very close. Also keep in mind that John McEnroe has been begging for anyone in the current crop to players to hire him. Forget the fact that he knows as much about playing modern tennis as I do. But he’s been a commentator for years you say? Yes he has – one of the least informed and ignorant ones to sully the airwaves. He makes it up as he goes along, painfully so, but he is still a force in US tennis circles where it’s an open secret that they wondered why one of their own hasn’t been selected to rub shoulders with the current tennis elite. During a recent broadcast on Tennis Channel the camera went to McEnroe on the sidelines after almost every point. Don’t ask me why. As for JMac he looked as if he were having a grand old time and why shouldn’t he? He got what he wanted and so did the US tennis establishment. Next they’ll be pushing for drug cheat Agassi to work with someone.

Frankly I don’t see what these older players bring to the modern top player. The modern players are physically fit, play a physical game and for the most part are quick mentally and physically. That was not the case when Jmac and the others played. To me the hiring of these older players is a type of welfare system for them. They made nowhere near the kind of money players make today and if they can get on the gravy train they will. That is all I see when I see these older men (it’s all men except for Mauresmo’s brief time in the sun) sitting in players boxes and being gloated over by US comms and the tennis press (see above)as some kind of demigod(s).

It’s funny that on the women’s side the only foray into hiring an older player was made by Agnieszka Radwanska when she hired, and quickly fired, Martina Navratilova. Navratilova has shown she’s kept herself better informed than John McEnroe has and yet no one is willing to take her on as a coach. Why? Why aren’t there more women coaches in the WTA? Why are the same names recycled between the women when there is need for a change in their teams? Are the women being sexist when it comes to who coaches them? It could go back to the Academy for them where men pretty much rule the roost. Ironically it’s Australian women – Daria Gavrilova comes to mind – who have hired female coaches. I should mention that Madison Keys worked with Lindsay Davenport for a minute. We were told that the demands of parenthood made Lindsay staying with the emotional Keys untenable.

The Olympics

Countries are announcing their Olympic rosters over the next few days. I find it ironic that players like John “God’s Country” Isner don’t feel it’s in their best interest to play for the United States and would rather take the opportunity to gain points playing smaller tournaments. It’s their choice and in the end a player has to do what he or she thinks is best. It’s ironic that the oft criticized Venus Williams and Serena Williams talk openly about their excitement in playing for the country that made them rich. There are priorities and there are priorities in life as well as sports.

End Notes

It’s grass court tennis time. It goes without saying that it’s not really my favorite surface. The modern game is too fast, to physical, to make play on the surface fun to watch or totally safe for the players. Add to it the damp of the British summer and you’ve got a disaster waiting to happen.

In case you haven’t noticed Dominic Thiem is the new boy wonder in men’s tennis. Maybe new isn’t the right word. He’s been talked about as the next big thing for some time now but he’s played a lot and played well recently. Coming into Wimbledon where he’ll have to play and win seven matches I wonder if Thiem will be able to hold up for the two weeks. It’s rare to see a male player use the tactic many female players have used to reach the top. I’m surprised none of the tennis journalists have talked about the analogy.

Anastasija Sevastova said after a recent win that women’s tennis is better than men’s tennis at the moment because anyone can win at any time. I still call it weakness.

Petra Kvitova lost to Jelena Ostapenko today. Not the best thing for Petra going into Wimbledon. She’s got a former Czech player, František Čermák coaching her now after ending a long term relationship with her former coach. Petra still looks fit to play. It doesn’t seem that she has the endurance to play her style of tennis over the length of a three set match.

The above mentioned John Isner threw down 17 aces against Juan Martin del Potro during their match yesterday. At one point Delpo turned to the crowd and said “It’s so boring”. He is so right. It’s that style of play that caused me to stop watching tennis for awhile. Tennis is about the mental challenges one player gives to another. Ace after ace after ace is not, in my opinion, tennis. Thank you Juan Martin for expressing what some of us feel.

©SavannahsWorld 2016 All Rights Reserved

Maria Sharapova Files an Appeal To CAS

by Savannah

During the press conference where she shocked to tennis world saying said she’d “made a mistake” Maria Sharapova indicated she would go along with whatever punishment was meted out.

As with everything else about Ms Sharapova that was a lie too. The world had barely begun reading the report when Ms Sharapova angrily announced that she would appeal the reduced sentence of two years for being unjustly harsh. This morning the Media Release below appeared from the CAS:


In her appeal Ms Sharapova is asking that the entire ruling be set aside and that she face no ban or one of less than two years. Talk about big brass ones.

Publicly her team is saying much of the same thing they said before: Sharapova is disliked and envied for her fame and fortune and that the tribunal therefore biased against her. A lot of criticism has been directed against the tribunal for delving into her past by those still in her corner as if Ms Sharapova didn’t open that particular door herself. The pattern of lies and deceit is laid out clearly in the report and shows that everything done by her and her father led to her not being aware that her drug of choice was now a banned substance.

I’m not a legal expert and I don’t pretend to understand all the fancy Latin phrases used by that discipline but I can state the following:

  • Sharapova’s lawyer(s) are pinning their hopes on being able to appoint one member of the tribunal. What they don’t say is that they must choose from a list of about 353 people authorized to act in that capacity. These people are also closely monitored so that any attempted hanky panky shouldn’t happen. That said we’ve all read about what’s gone on with FIFA so what shouldn’t happen often does.
  • The “they’re all haters” argument seems to be in play again.
  • If either of Ms Sharapova’s requests in the appeal is granted it would mean the entire anti doping movement would have to start over from square one not only for her but for every athlete on the planet.
  • If she brings up new evidence the panel has the ability to exclude it if it can be shown that it could have been brought up to the initial tribunal before the judgement was rendered.
  • It’s unknown at this time if WADA, the ITF, and the IOC will appeal. They have until the June 27th to do so if they wish.
  • If Ms Sharapova is the only party to appeal the CAS can’t make the suspension longer. The ITF and/or WADA would have to ask for that.

Some are already talking about the breathtaking arrogance in the wording of and the request(s) contained in the media release. Added to the picture you get reading the initial report this is not adding to Ms Sharapova’s image.

Did she have to appeal? Of course she did. The sponsors that began paying her again cited her intent to appeal while touting the panels very narrow finding that her drugging was “unintentional”.

We’ll know the answers to all of our questions by July 18, 2016.

©SavannahsWorld 2016 All Rights reserved

The Fallout Continues

by Savannah

I hope that by now you’ve read the full report on Maria Sharapova‘s failed drug test. It’s a damning document and well worth the time it takes to read. If you haven’t read it there’s no need to read this post because you’re either an intern working for Max Eisenbud, a hopeless stan of Ms Sharapova, or a tennis “journalist”. I feel sorry for some in the later category because they have to curry access to the players and their entourages. To tell the truth about what the report revealed could cost them and make it difficult for them to do their job. I said some, not all. Some are willfully deceived and continue to try and deceive tennis fans.

I say that because the entire defense that’s been mounted in Sharapova’s defense since the report was released assumes that fans have not taken the time to read the report. That is the only explanation as to why they’re continuing to push the meme that she had a serious heart condition that required meldonium although nothing was presented to the tribunal to show that that is the case. We do know that the prescribing Russian doctor had her taking up to 30 pills at one point and that when she and her father stopped doing business with him she kept taking three of them in secret, one of which was meldonium. We know that on match days she gobbled down meldonium, told no one, and even when the drug was legal did not declare that she’d taken the medication. For the argument to stand that she needed the medication it would’ve helped if she’d told her coaches and outside medical personnel that she was using this drug. Instead it remained a secret between her and her father, Yuri Sharapov, who stopped coaching his daughter in 2008. There was one other person who allegedly knew, Dr Sergei Yasnitsky, the national team doctor,who is now, according to former player Yevgeny Kafelnikov,  denying that he knew about her use of meldonium.

The only other outsider alleged to have known is her agent Max Eisenbud. His explanation of how he reviewed the annual WADA list is so absurd no one, not even stans, believe it. I don’t want to speculate on why he was allowed to go before the tribunal since I obviously have no inside information on what the decision making by the Sharapova legal team was. I can say that his testimony was the only comic relief in the entire report.

It’s been two days since the report was released and as I type this I haven’t seen any tennis journalist floating new reasons as to why Sharapova doped and hid it from everyone who would’ve been able to advise her to stop taking meldonium in 2014 when it went on the WADA watch list. I did see someone post an excerpt from a Wall Street Journal article putting forth her lawyer’s point of view but that was not posted on Twitter by a journalist who covers tennis.

The facts around the report haven’t changed. Dismissing Eisenbud’s efforts on his client’s behalf the only two people who knew what was going on from 2006 were Maria Sharapova and her father Yuri Sharapov.

Ms Sharapova plans to appeal, a pro forma move in these cases. To this non legal mind the report lays out the case for a four year ban. WADA has extended the length of bans in the past.  As the Daily Mail (of all outlets) said in it’s piece Sharapova has to appeal in order to try and salvage what’s left of her reputation. The AELTC is already looking to drop her as a member of the Wimbledon Club based on the ITF report. Sharapova is finding out what’s done in the dark will come to light. It was her and her father’s secret, one they thought would never be revealed. It’s precisely because it was their secret that she has been banned from playing tennis.  As the report concluded “She is the sole author of her own misfortune.”


It Was Manslaughter

by Savannah

The ITF released it’s long anticipated ruling in the doping case of Maria Sharapova this morning. Needless to say there won’t be anything else discussed in the tennis universe for quite some time.

I recommend that every fan of tennis pour a glass of wine (or spirts if that’s your choice), turn off all distractions and read the entire ruling. It is damning of Maria Sharapova, her father Yuri, and her manager Max Eisenbud. Reading it you find that while Ms Sharapova employed a nutritionist and various other staff to keep track of her well being and compliance with anti doping laws (a sample is provided in the 33 page PDF is Eisenbud contacting the powers that be about a nasal spray that had been prescribed for Sharapova) but none of the staff outside of the player, her father and agent, knew that meldonium had been prescribed by a Russian doctor in 2006. Ms Sharapova left that doctors care in 2013 and no attempt was made by her or anyone in the know to have her assessed by a cardiologist or any medical professional who would’ve been able to determine if the use of meldonium should be continued.

Some excerpts:

16. In 2004, at the age of 17, Ms Sharapova won the women’s singles championship at
Wimbledon. In 2005 she was suffering from frequent cold-related illnesses, tonsil issues and
upper abdomen pain. Her father took her to be examined by Dr. Anatoly Skalny of the
Centre for Biotic Medicine in Moscow, which describes itself as specialising in system
diagnostics and treatment of medical imbalances.

17. The evidence from Dr. Skalny is that having conducted a detailed examination, considered
the family medical history, which included type II diabetes and heart disorder, he caused a
number of specialist consultations and analyses to be carried out which indicated, inter alia,
elevated glucose and cholesterol levels and mineral imbalances. Dr. Skalny concluded that
his patient had a mineral metabolism disorder, insufficient supply of nutrients from food
intake and other abnormalities which made it necessary to boost the immune system. He
proposed a detailed medicinal and nutritional regime which at the outset comprised about
18 medications and supplements.

21. The evidence before the Tribunal includes a report of Dr. Ford Vox who has analysed Dr.
Skalny’s diagnosis and treatment. Dr. Vox says that the diagnosis was immune deficiency,
mineral metabolism disorder and asthenia, ie. loss of energy. He states that the Russian
scientific literature supporting Mildronate’s clinical use to compensate for an immune deficiency is strong.
He does not state that Dr. Skalny actually diagnosed cardiovascular disease, the primary indication for the use of the drug, or diabetes, which is not listed as an indication by the manufacturers of Mildronate. But he does express the opinion that Dr.
Skalny was, in the light of Ms Sharapova’s family history, justified in prescribing Mildronate
both as a cardioprotective agent and as a preventative agent for diabetes. However it is
important to note that Dr. Skalny was not a cardiologist nor did he advise that Ms
Sharapova had a cardiac condition which required specialist medical attention. Having
reviewed the ECG results Dr. Skalny did not require a treadmill test, or any other standard
diagnostic approach, which would have been the next logical step if a significant cardiac
condition was suspected.

26. By the end of 2012 Ms Sharapova had decided to follow a different approach to her
nutritional intake. She found the taking of lots of pills overwhelming and she thought there
was a better way to handle her health than by taking a large number of pills 10. So she
retained a nutritionist, Nick Harris, as part of her team and ceased to follow the regime
prescribed by Dr. Skalny. She informed Dr. Skalny that she was not going to continue
working with him 11.

27. However Ms Sharapova took her own decision to continue to use 3 of the substances
previously recommended by Dr. Skalny, namely Magnerot, Riboxin and Mildronate.
Magnerot is a mineral supplement which contains magnesium. Riboxin contains inosine, a
natural compound which may have some anti-ischaemic benefit. That decision to continue
to use those 3 substances from Dr. Skalny’s list of 30 was taken without the benefit of any
medical advice, either from Dr Skalny or from any other medical practitioner. So Ms
Sharapova did not seek any advice about the therapeutic need to continue using Mildronate,
nor the possible side effects of doing so. She did not know the ingredients of Mildronate and
had not read the manufacturers’ instructions for use 12.

28. When asked in evidence to explain why she particularly selected these 3 substances she
stated that she believed that Dr. Skalny had put special emphasis on those substances to
protect her heart and for her magnesium deficiency 13. However her evidence is that she had
not discussed specific substances with Dr. Skalny during his treatment 14 and she does not
recall having had any discussion with Dr. Skalny about her decision to continue using
Mildronate 15. When asked why she did not consult any other doctor for advice about her
continuing use of the three substances 16 she stated that she did not need another doctor to
oversee her medical or health plan, but instead hired a nutritionist 17. However she did not
inform her nutritionist that she was continuing to take Mildronate 18, or, it seems, Magnerot
or Riboxin

29. After Ms Sharapova ceased in early 2013 to be under the care of Dr. Skalny there is no
evidence that any medical practitioner was consulted about or prescribed the taking of
Mildronate, or that the use of Mildronate was disclosed to any of the medical practitioners,
with one exception, who were consulted by Ms Sharapova between 2012 and 2015. During
this period Ms Sharapova was under the general care of her family doctor in California to
whom she would go for treatment when she became sick. She also relied on the medical
practitioners provided by the WTA from whom she would seek medical advice when she
suffered injury or became sick in competition. She also underwent MRI scans and ECG tests
and examination by a number of specialists during this period, particularly in 2015. To none
of the medical practitioners or specialists who treated her over 3 years did she disclose the
fact that she was taking Mildronate. Her explanation in evidence is that none of them had
asked what medication she was taking 19.

There is this comment, one of many asides in the PDF, about what was going on around Ms Sharapova regarding her medical status.

The underlying factual puzzle in this case is how an elite player in the position of Ms
Sharapova, with the assistance of a professional team including the very best sporting and
medical advice obtainable, could ever have placed herself in the position of taking a
Prohibited Substance, as is admitted, before each of the five matches she played at the
Australian Open. The case advanced for the player in her written submissions did not
explain why, even if Ms Sharapova was not personally aware of the inclusion of Meldonium
on the 2016 Prohibited List, her team did not warn her. Mr. Eisenbud’s first witness
statement, at paragraph 20, gave the clear impression that if any member of her team had
discovered that Meldonium had been added to the 2016 Prohibited List then the player
would have ceased to use Mildronate. He characterises this as an administrative error, for
which he takes the blame, but without explaining how it happened. It only emerged in
evidence at the hearing that no member of Ms Sharapova’s team, apart from Mr. Eisenbud,
actually knew that she was taking Mildronate.

The panel accepted the argument that had she known the substance had been banned she wouldn’t have taken it. It’s always been said that ignorance of the law is no excuse. If I go out and bash someone in the head just for the hell of it and say that I didn’t know hitting the person in the head so hard would kill them I’d still be in jail for a considerable length of time. But the jury may decide that the offense was manslaughter and not intentional murder since I didn’t know the person I randomly assaulted. This is what the panel decided in the case of Ms Sharapova.

I urge you to take your time and read the PDF. This is the link:

It’s a very sad day for tennis.

Of course Ms Sharapova has indicated that she will appeal the ruling. I think she does so at her own risk. The last paragraph of the report reads as follows:


104. The contravention of the anti-doping rules was not intentional as Ms Sharapova did not
appreciate that Mildronate contained a substance prohibited from 1 January 2016. However
she does bear sole responsibility for the contravention, and very significant fault, in failing
to take any steps to check whether the continued use of this medicine was permissible. If she
had not concealed her use of Mildronate from the anti-doping authorities, members of her
own support team and the doctors whom she consulted, but had sought advice, then the
contravention would have been avoided. She is the sole author of her own misfortune.

As the old people used to say “don’t press your luck”.

©Savannahs World 2016 All rights reserved except where indicated

Why Lousy Commentary Matters

by Savannah

A professional sports commentator is expected to know several things before he or she sits down behind a live mic. Among them are the status of every player involved in the sport that is being presented to the viewing public, a public which now, thanks to social media improved national and global communication, is many times as informed if not more so than the comms.

Obviously this makes the commentators job more difficult. What are you going to say that enhances the enjoyment of the fans who have turned in to watch the game, meet or match? They know the stats. They know the strategies that the adversaries will use to try and neutralize each other. The days are gone when the comm is the one who informs the viewer.

What about casual viewers you ask? What if a person’s introduction to the NBA was Game 2 of the NBA Final played last night in Oakland? How do you introduce that viewer to the nuances of the game without making the commentary so basic as to turn off the more in the know viewer? It’s a job not everyone can do. This is why the top commentators start out working local broadcasts side by side with someone who is probably more experienced in his or her work. You would never find a novice announcer working the NBA Finals, the Super Bowl, the World Series or the World Cup. The Stanley Cup? Nope. No major sporting event would have hacks behind the mic at their penultimate event. So why does tennis, a sport struggling to become more than a niche sport, allow hacks to be it’s eyes and ears during it’s four yearly major events?

I don’t use the term hacks lightly. I should also say not all broadcasters are hacks. Vladimíra Uhlířová, known to fans as “Vladka”, is the best of the bunch right now. Marion Bartoli is very good. So is Lindsay Davenport. Two years ago I would’ve included Robbie Koenig. So who do we get from NBC, the network tasked with presenting Grand Slam tennis to millions who may never watch tennis except when a Slam is being contested? In the US we get comms who seem, like many viewers, to never watch or study tennis except when they sit down behind a live mic. This results in commentary that is often downright wrong, patronizing, and that borders at times on jingoistic.

NBC’s commentary during the women’s final – I didn’t watch the men’s final – focused on Garbiñe Muguruza’s beat down of the WTA #1 Serena Williams. Mention was made of Serena’s injury but that was quickly glossed over and emphasis put on Muguruza’s outstanding level of play. Forget that it was obvious to anyone who knows anything about tennis that Serena was unable to get anything on her shots or even use her acknowledged best in the world serve to her advantage. A casual, four times a year viewer, had to have come away thinking that Serena is over rated and that this new kid on the block is the next big thing. Knowledgeable viewers were simply appalled.

The tours are complicit in this. During Serena’s dominance the narrative has been that admitted doper Maria Sharapova is the definition of women’s tennis. Allegations of Serena using illegal means to perpetuate her stranglehold on the top spot went unchallenged by WTA officials. Gamesmanship? Only as it applied to Ms Williams. I’m not going to touch on what was recently revealed about Ms Sharapova except to say, once again, that if it had been Serena who’d been caught and admitted to using a PED for ten years she’d have been run out of the sport and her titles taken away. If the women’s tennis organization doesn’t want it’s top player to be the face of tennis played by women why should the networks and the people it hires to present the sport do any different?

So if you’re a sometime viewer of tennis I understand your coming away from Saturday’s match thinking that Serena Williams is washed up. What else can you think?

In the end tennis is still a niche sport for many and it’s comms become the portal by which interested fans are introduced to it. Every other sport knows commentary can make or break it. It can cause a casual viewer to become more interested or fall back on sports already familiar to him or her. I think tennis fans have to go beyond calling out the commentators and start holding the tours responsible. The tours determine what image they want presented to the world. Right now it seems they’re interested in keeping fans in the dark and deriding those who want to bring knowledgable intelligent commentary to tennis and making it more exciting for those who right now are not interested except for four times a year.

It’s a damn shame.

©SavannahsWorld 2016 All Rights Reserved

Roland Garros 2016 Winners

by Savannah

The winner on the men’s side was preordained. I thought that I’d seen soft draws in my time but the one the ATP #1 got was so easy as to be ridiculous. I only read one comment where it was exposed that one of his sponsors is also a sponsor of Roland Garros. There was no doubt how the mens side would pan out. You could also see who his opponent would be although he seemed to be trying to crash out early.

So forget the racquet toss that could’ve resulted in serious injury. Forget the disrespect shown to a chair umpire. Forget the hyperbaric chamber that isn’t a hyperbaric chamber. Forget the open support given to a doper. Forget the comments about the sport being clean until it’s found not to be. Just remember he’s holding all four Slams, a wonderful feat. Except that someone did it before him. That someone is named Serena Williams. But as was noted on Twitter today only men’s tennis is “Tennis” for some.

Congratulations to the winners.

Men’s Singles
Serbia Novak Djokovic
Women’s Singles
Spain Garbiñe Muguruza
Men’s Doubles
Spain Feliciano López / Spain Marc López
Women’s Doubles
France Caroline Garcia / France Kristina Mladenovic
Mixed Doubles
Switzerland Martina Hingis / India Leander Paes
Boys’ Singles
France Geoffrey Blancaneaux
Girls’ Singles
Switzerland Rebeka Masarova
Boys’ Doubles
Israel Yshai Oliel / Czech Republic Patrik Rikl
Girls’ Doubles
Spain Paula Arias Manjón / Serbia Olga Danilović
Legends Under 45 Doubles
Spain Juan Carlos Ferrero / Spain Carlos Moyá
Women’s Legends Doubles
United States Lindsay Davenport / United States Martina Navratilova
Legends Over 45 Doubles
Spain Sergi Bruguera / Croatia Goran Ivanišević
Wheelchair Men’s Singles
Argentina Gustavo Fernández
Wheelchair Women’s Singles
Netherlands Marjolein Buis
Wheelchair Men’s Doubles
Japan Shingo Kunieda / United Kingdom Gordon Reid
Wheelchair Women’s Doubles
Japan Yui Kamiji / United Kingdom Jordanne Whiley

©Copyright SavannahsWorld 2016 All Rights Reserved

2016 Roland Garros: The Worst Ever

by Savannah

AP Christophe Ena photo 04a6034f-ec25-459f-9807-d53eb1e019a3_zpssjdkzrkj.jpg
via AP/Christophe Ena

Let me be clear. I’m only going to touch on the players if what happened to them bears on the general management of the tournament. Which, as the title of this post says, was abysmal.

There is nothing anyone can do about the weather. Anyone who cared to check knew that the rain that ended up flooding Paris and its environs, was going to affect play. How the Tournament Director, Guy Forget, handled the problem would show his ability, and biases, to the tennis world. It’s bad enough that Roland Garros has the worst website of any Slam. It doesn’t matter if you use a PC, MAC, or a mobile device the web site sucks. But in the long run that’s an issue that can easily be corrected if more than cursory attention is given to the site.

Roland Garros website is also the only one where player interviews are not easily accessible. The big shots of tennis journalism saw to that. They felt that with the proliferation of bloggers and information on line their jobs were in danger so interviews are hidden away somewhere on that site that I frankly don’t have the inclination to search for. I shouldn’t have to. I’ll be back to the ITWA later.

But back to the rain and Forget’s management of it.

Kudo’s to the tournament for canceling play early and putting ticket holders who bought their tickets from RG at the head of the line for next years ticket sale.

As for the players it was obvious from Forget’s comments that he didn’t give a rat’s ass about the WTA. His entire focus was on the ATP. When asked how the washout would affect play he responded “If players need to play two matches in two days,” Forget said, “I guess the guy who is more fit will win.” He also said that no ATP player would have to play more than two days in a row. Meanwhile the top half of the WTA draw had to play four straight days up to and including the Final. The option of moving the Women’s final to Sunday was never publicly considered. Still, when it came to scheduling the women were scheduled after the men, who would have an extra day, Saturday, to rest and prepare for a Sunday Final. I’m nit picking? Don’t the women only play best of three? It shouldn’t matter if they have to play four days straight right? It’s the men who play best of five and would suffer the most right?

The ATP seems to look for ways to diminish the woman’s game. The only male who was having issues with his early rounds was Andy Murray who had a draw that while not as much of a cakewalk as the ATP #1’s draw on paper was not that difficult. But the argument about the best of five men’s format always wins at Slams.

Anyway there was a significant delay on Tuesday, May 31 (Day 10) which saw the Order of Play changed twice. The first revision showed the women scheduled up first. Then it was changed and the men, including the ATP #1, saw their matches scheduled ahead of the women again before all matches were cancelled. On Day 11 the women were up first again. And the top half of the draw began it’s long march towards the Final that completed about an hour before I started this post. While all of this was going on there wasn’t one word from WTA management. It’s new head, Steve Simon, has only stirred himself to comment on how he feels about admitted doper Maria Sharapova. His players being treated like second class citizens didn’t appear to bother him in the least.

Bad Behavior

Try as they might TPTB of men’s tennis can’t cover up the true personality of their current top player. The two incidents that occurred during his match against his pigeon Tomas Berdych were eye opening and could’ve resulted in serious injury to a linesperson. The official line became that the blind racquet toss made by the #1 was a slip, that the racquet slipped out of his hand and without the agility of the linesman involved would’ve meant he’d have to be disqualified. I’m not sure you can still find the video online since the person who originally posted it got upset at fan reaction to what looked to be an intentional throw of the racquet.

I wonder what David Nalbandian and Guillermo Coria thought about the non action taken against the ATP #1? We know what would’ve happened if say Nick Kyrgios had done the same thing.

The other incident was during the same match. The ATP #1 was actually being pressed by Berdych and slipped on the court. He immediately asked for the match to be suspended. The chair, Eva Moore, didn’t do what he wanted as he went to his seat and began to pack up his things. Berdych took up the argument with Moore and as the tournament official walked on court the ATP #1 walked off court. The official told Berdych to step inside the tunnel for about five minutes until the shower passed. The other men’s match, between David Goffin and Dominic Thiem, continued on Court Suzanne Lenglen.


End Notes

There’s been a lot of criticism of Marion Bartoli for revealing that Serena Williams was suffering from an adductor injury. “Betrayal of the locker room” seems to be the going reason for condemning Bartoli’s “faux pas”. Serena is the WTA #1. An adductor injury is going to affect her movement and ability to put some heft behind her shots as well as how she serves. Yet Marion is being raked over the coals for revealing the injury. If the ATP #1 was carrying a comparable injury wouldn’t it be made public?

Those of us who have followed Venus Williams and Serena Williams over the years know they are very reluctant to reveal injuries. They’ve gotten better in recent years but Venus has been wearing a wrap on her thigh for quite some time. Serena’s wrap was hidden under the leggings she wore against the chill in Paris.

It seems to me that the criticism of Bartoli is coming from the ITWA members who want to keep a stranglehold on access to and information about tennis players. Don’t get me wrong I get it. You can’t have fanboys and girls running rampant in the locker room. By the same token you can’t have a stranglehold on information that fans want to read. Tennis is the only sport that gives the reporters who ask questions at pressers complete anonymity. No other sport does that. It’s time for tennis to get away from the country club mentality and find a way to open the flow of information to fans. David Goffin had a press conference after a win this week where only one question – one – was asked in English. As a fan I want to know more about him but the US press is content to continue to write about him as if he is an international man of mystery.

Not all bloggers are fanboys and girls. It’s time to stop punishing those who are working hard to get information to fans without compromising professionalism.

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