SAM-I-AM A THREE-SET DISAPPEARING ACT: Sam Querrey is a huge American prospect, but he and Grant Doyle need to get a handle on the big boy acquiring both the physical and mental abilities to close out a match after he wins the first set. Wednesday in Houston, Querrey won the first set against Tommy Haas before collapsing, just as he did earlier against Nikolay Davydenko in Indian Wells. Last year Querrey performed his disappearing act after winning the first set in an amazing 13 events at all three levels of professional tennis: to Jesse Levine at the USA F3 Futures event, Vince Spadea at San Jose, Brian Vahaly at Las Vegas, James Blake at Indian Wells, Alex Bogomolov at Miami, Jeff Morrison at the Valencia (Spain) Challenger, Richardo Mello at the Forest Hills (NY) Challenger, Wesley Moodie at Washington, Rafael Nadal at Cincinnati, Gaston Gaudio at the US Open, Phillip Simmonds at the Tulsa (Ok.) Challenger, Wayne Odesnik at the Calabasas (Calif.) Challenger, and Paul Goldstein at the Busan (Korea) Challenger.
“BASELESS” SLAMS/MASTERS SERIES QUOTE: The Australian Herald-Sun’s Leo Schlink commenting on the ATP’s Grand Slam/Masters Series flummox: “Tennis officials have ridiculed baseless reports suggesting ATP events would carry the same number of rankings points as Wimbledon and the Australian Open.” Baseless? It was “based” on an ATP spokesman who told another newspaper (incorrectly) that the Slams and Masters Series would have the same number of ranking points under the new 2009 system. That’s a pretty serious “base.” Which leads one to believe that there were internal ATP talks on doing just that at one time or another — otherwise, where would such a statement have originated? Inquiring minds want to know. As does the ITF. Did that idea get past “first base” with the ATP?
SLAM THAT: From tennis writer Matt Cronin: “While the Slams are the crown jewels of the sport, should they really be worth double the ATP’s nine most important tournaments (including the Masters Cup)? I say no, and in 2009 would like to see the tour offer MS winners 1,200 points for a win, because half the number points doesn’t offer enough value to the tournaments and keeps them in a serf-like position. That’s not what the sport as a whole should be looking for. It should be searching for added value whenever it has an opportunity, and you can’t tell me that Indian Wells or Miami doesn’t have 60 percent of the value of the US Open, or that Rome doesn’t have 60 percent of the value of Roland Garros. Moreover, if anyone in the sport is truly serious about developing recognizable warm-up series to the Slams — like the US Open Series — you can’t tell me that adding to that brand with say, hugely important tournaments in Cincinnati, doesn’t hold any merit.” I’d say make the Masters Series worth 75% of the Slams points-wise. The ATP owns both the tour and the rankings, drive that thing through while you have the chance with the calendar re-do. The Masters Series are tougher to win anyways, you have to win six matches in seven days against the Top 64 players in the world, as compared to the Slams where you can’t get multiple weak opponents in a row from the Top 128, AND you get a day of rest between matches. Hardly any rest at the Masters Series, which is a physical contest and blockbuster matches are everywhere. Time for the ATP to grab the brass ring, stop talking about “branding” all the time and actually put the money where the rankings points are.
NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES
According to the ATP, Pete Sampras and his brother Gus have formed the California-based Pure Sports Management, LLC. It will oversee all business opportunities for Pete Sampras and will also seek to create and develop other events and opportunities…Donald Young speaking to ESPN on his first stint as a practice partner for the U.S. Davis Cup team in April, watching Andy Roddick, James Blake and crew: “It’s funny how they so easily turn the switch on and off, from hanging out joking to getting really serious. They’ll be joking five minutes before the match, then they take five or 10 minutes to get themselves ready to play, and afterwards they’re back to joking…I’ve learned a lot about how to compete out there, to never stop, don’t get that hangdog look out there.”…Andy Roddick pulled from the U.S. Clay Courts in Houston with a hamstring injury, and along with James Blake pulled from next week’s Masters Series event in Monte Carlo…Emerging star Novak Djokovic says bring on the fame and attention: “I think we all like to be famous. But, of course, there are consequences, pros and cons, and I think we all have to be conscious of that. It is always good when people love you, recognize you and say good things. I am the kind of person who enjoys what they do, being on court, surrounded by the public. I love tennis, being surrounded by people. I try to be as positive as I can, and I want to stay like that. There are some players who like to just focus on tennis, to avoid speeches and all that, but I’m not like that.”…From blogger Peter Bodo: “Pete Sampras and I recently agreed to write a book together; it will be the official Pete Sampras autobiography, in which he’ll tell the story of his life and times, in the first person. One of the things that made this project attractive to me is that I always admired Pete’s purity of purpose.”…According to the ATP, former Top 30-ranked American Taylor Dent is recovering from back surgery and is hoping to be back on court by the end of the U.S. summer hardcourt circuit. The 25-year-old underwent back surgery on March 19 at Century City Doctors Hospital in Los Angeles performed, by Dr. Todd H. Lanman, Chief of Neurosurgery. Dent had two lumbar fractures in his lower back area corrected by Robotically-Assisted Anatomical Restorative Spinal Surgery. “He is feeling well and an excellent outcome is expected based on his progress thus far,” said Dr. Lanman…Rafael Nadal enters the 2007 claycourt season on an all-time best 62-match winning streak, last year toppling Guillermo Vilas’ 53 in a row, set in 1977…From The Herald on Andy Murray’s ascension into the Top 10 next week: “Andy Murray might have hoped to make the world’s top 10 under his own steam but last night’s defeat of Tommy Haas by Croat Ivo Karlovic in Houston, Texas, means that the Scot is almost certain to reach that significant career benchmark without even striking a ball in competition. Murray instead spent yesterday on the French Riviera, where he is preparing for next week’s Monte Carlo Masters. Thousands of miles away, the 6ft 10in Karlovic was doing him an enormous favour by beating Haas. Haas reached the finals in Houston a year ago and, under the ATP Tour’s rolling 52-week ranking system, had to defend the points he earned to keep his ranking. Murray, who is currently No.11, should rise up and replace him as world No.10 when the new standings are released on Monday.”…First-round match-ups next week in Monte Carlo include (13) Mikhail Youzhny vs. Carlos Moya, (16) Juan Carlos Ferrero vs. Tim Henman, (14) Marcos Baghdatis vs. Max “The Beast” Mirnyi, and (15) Jarkko Nieminen vs. Marat Safin. There are no Americans in the Monte Carlo draw.
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