From Precocious Up-and-Comer to Computer-Rankings Whipping Girl

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THE COURT WHISPERER: Monica Seles‘ shriek may have been the first to seriously test the durability of our eardrums, but Mary Joe Fernandez says the recently inducted Hall of Famer’s grunt “would be considered more of a whisper compared to some of the noises we’re hearing on the court these days.” Said Seles, who reenacted her cacophonous call during her HOF induction speech, “I just had to do it. Sorry.”

FOX TOLD HE CAN’T GUARD HEN HOUSE: Observers were rather stunned when it was announced that the new sponsor of the Hamburg ATP tournament would be Bet-At-Home.com. After all, the ATP was coming off a rather nasty investigation concerning gambling on matches (think Nikolay Davydenko). But now a local court has ruled against the tournament taking on the controversial sponsor.

‘STICH’ TO YOUR DAY JOB: John McEnroe scored for seniors everywhere when he returned to the ATP level in 2006, winning the SAP Open doubles title in San Jose with partner Jonas Bjorkman. Michael Stich’s return to competitive tennis last week didn’t go as smoothly at the German Open, where the ’91 Wimbledon champ fell in the first round of the doubles draw with Mischa Zvarev 6-4, 6-2 to Aussies Simon Aspelin/Paul Hanley.

BIRTH OF THE WORM: Radek Stepanek‘s victory dance – affectionately known as “The Worm” – was reportedly first unveiled at a party in the Austrian Alps a few years back, the result of a bit too much Schnapps. Said the Czech: “Everyone was very impressed.”

O CAPTAIN MY CAPTAIN!: Leslie Allen recently recalled a ’70s-era WTA ritual in which the women ranked the ATP players based on looks. “We’d choose a captain and a co-captain,” said Allen. “We had a whole ranking system.”

Quotebook

“Dr. Johnson used his influence, personal funds and determination to fight for equal rights and to advance the sport in a way that would make the world proud.” – Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe on Hall of Fame inductee Dr. Robert Johnson

“Believe me – she would have won another nine.” – Donald Dell on how many Grand Slams Monica Seles would have won had she not been stabbed in 1993

“Was Seles on pace to become the best ever? Absolutely. But how do we put her in that Graf-Evert-Navratilova division when – though caused by a horrible act and through no fault of her own – she won fewer than half as many Slams?” – Jon Wertheim

“[Dinara] Safina‘s mutation from precocious up-and-comer to computer-rankings whipping girl has made for one of the more unfortunate storylines of the season.” – SI.com’s Bryan Armen Graham

“Wimbledon women’s champs in 2029-2040…the federer girls 🙂 congrats to the new parents!” – Twitter message from Andy Roddick, who sent well wishes to Roger Federer

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