WITHOUT A DOUBT: Rafa Nadal told the New York Times, “When you take decisions, you have mistakes or you don’t.”
A TALE OF TWO LANDS: Switzerland has a population of 8 million. Since 2004, they have claimed 19 men’s Slams. The US population is 324 million – 40 times bigger. Since 2004, we haven’t had any men’s Slam winners.
MUSINGS ON MARIA:
• “Anyone who gives a positive test should get punished. Should they get a reduction? I don’t think so, in general. It shows other sportsmen that…the punishment is not going to be that big.” – Gilles Muller
• “She’s just going to come back, and she’s going to be so hungry to play, excited and motivated.” – Sharapova’s former boyfriend Grigor Dimitrov
• “Is it really unlimited wild cards for past number 1 and grand slam champs even if u get banned for doping? Other players get 3 a year.” – Melanie Oudin
• “I’ve answered so many questions on it this year…I don’t feel like I need to keep talking about it.” – Andy Murray
• “I just don’t know what to think or believe anymore.” – Anne Keothavong
MARTINA AND MARTINA: In discussing what she looks for in a partner, finesse artist Martina Hingis said she certainly would like a power player, because “playing with another Martina [herself] wouldn’t be the best.” But hold on, what if Hingis did in fact play with another Martina, Martina Navratilova, who’s arguably the best women’s doubles player of all time? And Hingis isn’t far behind. What a potent duo they’d make. One’s lefty, one’s righty, one’s a serve and volleyer, the other’s an adept baseliner, and the two Martinas rank among the best volleyers of all time. BTW: Years ago while musing on the loss of Martina Navratilova’s dog at the Virginia Slims of Los Angeles, Scott Ostler wrote: “Martina was beside herself, which, come to think of it, would make a hell of a doubles team.”
MURRAY’S “MO”: In the past nine months, Andy Murray led Britain to the Davis Cup title with a win in Belgium, reached the Aussie and French Open finals, won his second Wimbledon, traipsed to Serbia in an exhausted state to successfully cheer on his Davis Cup mates, and in Rio became the first tennis player since Kitty Godfree in 1920 and 1924 to win Olympic gold medals back to back. Other than that, not much has happened.
MURRAY AND THE MAID: According to the Guardian and others, Andy Murray was stalked around Europe by a hotel maid, who once ignored the “Do Not Disturb” sign on his door, entering his room and stroking his arm while he was sleeping. According to Murray, the maid also showed up at hotels where he was staying in Rotterdam and Barcelona.
NO SELFIE CONTROL: Venus Williams complained, “Selfies have become an epidemic. You are getting off a plane at 1 a.m., ‘Can I take a selfie?’ Please, I’m so tired, I don’t want to take a picture right now.”
BRADEN, RODDICK AND CLIJSTERS HEADED TO THE HALL?: Andy Roddick, who was just nominated for the International Hall of Fame, was not only the last American man to win a Slam (in 2003) and to be No. 1, he was said to be the ninth best athlete to ever host Saturday Night Live. There he claimed, “What’s scary about Connecticut is the possibility that you can lose your tennis racket in the Pottery Barn.” Also nominated for the Hall was the magical tennis teacher and promoter Vic Braden. Also nominated is the most popular mom in the WTA, the three-time Slam winner Belgian Kim Clijsters, the no-detail-is-too small writer Steve Flink and the wheelchair player Monique Kalkman.
FRENCH OPEN TO EXPAND: It seemed that Roland Garros finally received the official go-ahead to begin long-delayed renovation plans, which include the building of a roof over center court and an expansion from 21 acres to 34 acres. Environmental groups protesting the renovation claimed it would harm vegetation in a nearby botanical garden. Newsflash: As we went to press a new legal obstacle emerged, with a different court again ordering a suspension of the redevelopment.
FAREWELL MARY JOE: Mary Joe Fernandez stepped down as Fed Cup coach after eight years in the position. Under Mary Joe, the US twice reached the finals, falling to Italy in both 2009 and 2010, but they didn’t win a title. Observers wonder whether the next captain could be mother-of-three Lindsay Davenport, and whether the next captain will have an increased role in player development.
DOUBLES DOUBLE: Earlier in the year, Croatians Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig scored a Davis Cup win over the best doubles team in history, the Bryan brothers, and in September they beat the current No. 1 doubles team, Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
DAVIS CUP CHANGE? ITF President Dave Haggerty is pushing to change the Davis Cup so that there would be a far more marketable final four-like finish at a neutral site. It would attract a big worldwide audience and big money, although perhaps at the cost of the rabid atmosphere finals now feature.
THE LAVER CUP: A few years ago Roger Federer challenged his manager Tony Godsick to come up with something to honor his idol Rod Laver. Next September, look for initiation of the Laver Cup in Prague, an international competition along the lines of the Ryder Cup to be held every non-Olympic year. It would pit six players from Europe vs. six players from the rest of the world in an exhibition featuring three singles matches and one doubles match per day. Federer and Nadal have already committed to the event, and Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe will be captains.
IT’S TOUGH TO BE KING: Rafa Nadal, who recently served a term as the ATP president said, “I would be lying if I said it was a positive experience – because it was not.”