Pre-US Open Buzz: Humility Gone Wild and Other Sugarpovian Sell-Outs

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The ever-candid Li Na recently credited coach Carlos Fernandez with helping to save her marriage to Jiang Shan. Photo:: Feng Li/Getty Images.

PAMMIE CONFIDENTIAL: After hearing that Li Na credited her coach Carlos Fernandez for saving her marriage, Pam Shriver said,“Where was he when I needed him five years ago.”

ARE YOU SAYING SHARAPOVA DROVE YOU TO DRINK?: After he and Maria Sharapova parted company, Jimmy Connors tweeted that it was time for him to enjoy a “vodka on the rocks.”

DOOMED FROM THE BEGINNING: Reflecting on the ill-fated Connors-Sharapova coaching combo, Mary Carillo said, “I never understood why she would pick Jimmy. He was a long-point player, [a] just-get-one-more-ball-back kind of guy, [while] Maria has got to go big early. That [coaching choice] made no sense to me.”

OH THE FEDERERIAN TIMES, THEY ARE A CHANGIN’: Writer Simon Cambers noted the “biggest thing about the odds for the US Open—Juan Martin del Potro is a shorter price (10-1) than Roger Federer (11-1).”

WHAT MADE ROGER NOT CHALLENGE?: Federer decided not to challenge a close line call that gave Rafa Nadal the win in their dazzling Cincy quarterfinal match. Replays showed that the call was wrong and if Roger had disputed the ruling he would still have been in the match. So why didn’t Roger challenge? Was it pride, distain for Hawk-Eye, fatigue, resignation, a simple oversight, or all of the above? Or none of the above? Let the speculation begin.

LAWMAKERS IN TROUBLE: Tennis officials are supposed to enforce the law, but last year Lois Goldman, an elderly LA lineswoman, was arrested on murder charges in New York as she was preparing to work the US Open. This year Adel Borghei, an Iranian official heading to New York, was detained in Miami, due to sanctions against Iran. He will not be able to work the Open.

LAWMAKERS IN A FOG: An overwhelming majority of representatives in Russia’s Parliament, including former No. 1 Marat Safin, voted in favor of the country’s draconian new anti-gay laws. BTW: Safin also voted for the law which bans Americans from adopting Russian children.

RYAN’S BAD DRAW KARMA: Has anyone in the history of this game had worse draws in Slams than Ryan Harrison, whose young career has been shadowed by wretched match-ups? Now he got the worst US Open draw possible—facing Nadal in the first round. All this prompted broadcaster Richard Evans to tweet: “Never underestimate the effect luck of draw has on careers. Ryan Harrison’s career seriously hobbled by endless tough ones in Slams.”

HUMILITY GONE WILD: We wonder what would make Rafa admit he was the favorite in a match or a tournament, or the best player in tennis this year, or the best clay court player in history?

OH NO,  IS A WAVE OF SHORT AND CLUMSY PLAYERS COMING DOWN THE PIKE?: Writer Jon Wertheim, weary of observers always saying, “I predict players will only get bigger and more athletic,” wondered whether there was another cohort out there “predicting a wave of shorter and clumsier [athletes]”?

AN ‘AIN’T THAT THE TRUTH’ TWEET: Tomas Berdych told us, “I give u all my love because I truly love u, but I can’t give u my soul and my heart because I need your credit card.”

AND NOW, TIME FOR SOME SERENA FUN FACTS: Broadcaster Brian Clark said, “An eager Serena is always dangerous for the women’s field” … Mary Carillo assured us that she didn’t think it’s “a mortal lock that Serena is going to win her 5th US Open” … Serena, while bedecked in a stunning leather dress, told David Letterman, “I play hard, I love hard” … Asked why Li Na was double faulting so much against Serena, Pam Shriver said, “Well, it’s because she’s facing the greatest return server of all time.”

DARWINIAN INSIGHT OF THE DAY: Jim Courier said, “We’ve had some tall players, but this Isner is a different species.”

POST-WIMBLEDON ACHIEVEMENT OF THE SUMMER: Rafa put his Wimbledon first round loss to Belgian Steve Darcis in the rear-view mirror and swept to stunning (and incredibly confident) wins in the Montreal and Cincy Masters. Only Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, and Patrick Rafter have pulled off the grueling back-to-back summer double, and Agassi and Rafter both went on to win the US Open.

CURIOUS QUESTION: Writer Michelle Kaufman asked Mary Carillo, “Is there reason for people to watch the women’s tournament at the US Open, or should people just wait for the Serena vs. Azarenka final?”

CURIOUS QUESTION (ACROSS THE POND DIVISION): Andy Murray was asked whether he or the newborn Royal Prince George was a bigger celeb in Britain. An embarrassed Murray chose George.

JUST WONDERING: Is the question of how the lowly-seeded (No. 7) Roger Federer will do at the Open the most interesting question in New York … Will Mardy Fish ever be able to come back … Can John Isner, despite a tough US Open draw, build on his summer surge?

SELL-OUT CITY: Writer Jane McManus wondered, “What if everyone was willing to sell out like Sharapova considered? Serena Williams-Sonoma, Roger Federer-Express…” Along these lines, we asked the world’s leading female tennis broadcaster if she would change her name to Mary Sweet’NCarillLow, but she didn’t seem too interested.

BIGGEST NAME CHANGE THAT NEVER HAPPENED:  Maria Sharapova’s giving serious thought to changing her name to Maria Sugarpova brings to mind other infamous name changes, such as the ones made by the rocker Prince. In tennis, Chris Evert briefly became Chris Evert-Lloyd,  Arantxa Sanchez became Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, Justine Henin became Justine Henin-Hardenne, Victoria Azarenka’s boyfriend, rocker Stefan Gordy, became Redfoo and Yale standout Richard Rasskind became the WTA standout Renee Richards.

GO FIGURE: John Isner wasn’t able to score a single win over a top-ten player all year until he reached Cincinnati, where he beat three of them: Milos Raonic, Novak Djokovic, and Juan Martin del Potro.

AN AUDIO HYPOCRITE: Lovely but sonically-invasive Victoria Azarenka, the loudest player in the women’s game, complained about the sounds that Jelena Jankovic’s brother and coach were making in Cincinnati.

SO DOES THIS MEANS A SERENA STAMP IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER?: The USPS has issued an Althea Gibson stamp.

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