Angry Reader Mail: Roger v Pete, Tennis v Golf, WTA Injuries

by Richard Vach | October 27th, 2006, 12:03 am

Tim Henman finally shows an interest in coming back to the British Davis Cup fold, and Andy Murray says no thanks?

Andy Murray says maybe it’s time to let the younger guys have a shot?

Who’s that, Andy? Alex Bogdanovic, currently ranked outside the Top 100? Or next-in-line Richard Bloomfield, ranked outside the Top 200? Is this that British find-a-way-to-lose thing again?

Maybe you guys haven’t noticed, but you’re in Europe/Africa Zone Group I for 2007. You’re going to have your hands full in the next round against the Netherlands. In other words, you’re a long ways from reaching the World Group qualifying round, much less the World Group, where a country that hosts Wimbledon should probably be. Andy’s rise through the rankings in 2006 has been impressive — maybe too impressive, to the point where you think this thing is going to start happening left and right for British players.

So yes, probably not a fine time to shut the door on a Grand Slam semifinalist and to welcome guys who can barely make it on the challenger/satellite tours. Since Brit tennis is busy waving cash to lure all the top American coaches into the program, maybe the Brit players should start consulting them before they run their yaps about who should be playing and who shouldn’t.

Rather than earning another shot at the World Groups playoffs in the next couple years, with Murray calling the shots, let me be the first to welcome Britain to Europe/African Zone Group IV.

Let’s go the mail:

On the subject of year-end No. 1 rankings and if Roger Federer can top Pete Sampras’ six in a row, GopiB says:

“Pete’s fans fanatically cling to this one (dubious) record as possibly the only one that Roger may not pass. Why is this dubious? Let’s look at 2003. Roger was #2 at year end. But not for long. Just in the first two weeks in 2004 he became #1 and stayed there. Just for missing out by two weeks at the end of 2003, you ding Roger this “distinction” of year ending #1. Had Roger become #1 two weeks earlier, you’d have counted 2003 for Roger! But that’s really absurd as Roger wasn’t #1 most of 2003. This year ending this is purely arbitrary. What really matters is how long have you stayed at #1…Take 1995 for example. Pete was only #2 for MOST of that year, even until 30th Oct. Yet he managed to close the yeat at #1. So he gets that 1995 to his credit…Isn’t this simply bogus? You are not #1 for most of the year, but get credit as year ending #1.”

You must really flip out when watching auto racing where one driver leads for the entire race, but then another passes him right before the finish line to take the checkered flag. How unfair! Should the No. 2 finisher be named the winner since he led most of the race?Each tennis season is just that, a season. It begins in January, ends in November. Players covet the year-end No. 1 ranking because it means that no matter which titles they did or didn’t collect that year, they were the best player on tour. In 2003 Federer didn’t finish the year No. 1 because he choked — and I am quoting the Swiss, who in retrospect has said that had he not “choked” in the MS-Canada final that year to Andy Roddick, knowing that the win would have vaulted him to the No. 1 ranking for the first time, that he also would have finished the year No. 1 as he was edged by Roddick by only a handful of points.

Not to digress, the tennis season is a pole-to-pole race. Then it’s over. Then a new one starts. Fini. Are the stats like total weeks at No. 1 more important than year-end No. 1s? Maybe. To each player (and fan) his own.

And from Jose Brito:

“Michael Chang (another American) just stuck his head up his ass again. He said “Fed is up there with the greatest” — what a redundant comment. its like saying — federer can play tennis. Then he said “things would have been different for him if he had played in Pete’s era (sic)”. Well, why doesn’t he say that things would have been different for Pete if he had Federer around?? Just because Sampras is American? Then he says — there are no true serve and volleyers around. Does he know why? Doesn’t he know that racquet technology along with fitter players, coupled with the slower and bouncier grass at wimbledon, has made serve and volley impossible to play? I don’t care if mcenroe or becker were around — serve and volleyers just can’t survive with today’s technology. If pete had been playing today, he would have won 4 slam titles, not 14. The baseliners are just too strong! Why do americans and american players continue to say — oh, there is less competition today. what a bunch of sore losers, with their panties all tied up in a bunch…SO SHUT UP.”

Nice rant, until you went all-caps on us. And a good point — how many fewer Slams would have Pete won in today’s slower conditions, with the baseliners wielding super racquets that let them barely get to a ball yet launch screaming passing shots? Could well have been a different story — and a sad commentary that the powers that be have let tennis change so much with the unchecked technology.

And from Jena on Marcelo Rios’ senior tour dominance:

“I’m really enjoying Marcelo on the seniors tour — he’s certainly livened it up.  Those who claim he’s too young clearly don’t know the history of his serious back injury, which began towards the end of 98 — which contributed to his brief reign at number 1.  Goran joined the tour at 31 — don’t recall protests over that — but maybe it’s because he wasn’t winning as often as Rios?”

There was some brief grumbling at the time when Goran won Wimbledon, went out and partied like it was 1999, then not too long after showed up on the senior tour. But you’re right, it’s all in the winning. Rios pummeling all the oldsters has livened up the European leg of the senior tour, now we need to get him in the states facing the likes of Jim Courier and Co., or better yet merging the two tours’ year-end championships so the best oldsters can face off.

And from Joey E.: “with Marcelo Rios breathing down his neck at No. 2 on the rankings” wow. you are right mister yuck, sampras did face stronger competition. (he said sarcastically while looking up the bio of a marginal player) rios retired with 18 career wins.  that’s one more than alex corretja. who? exactly.”

Joey, that’s Mr. Yuck to you. I’m going to assume that you missed the Rios era where in his peak year, between injuries, he took apart everyone in the game before his groin and back problems ended things for good. He retired with 18 career titles because, yes, injuries cut short his run. Now back on the senior tour, albeit on a limited basis with his back, he is again dominating to the point where Goran Ivanisevic says were he able to still play on tour, he would be No. 3, at least, behind Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Find some old game film of Rios and enjoy. And next time don’t tip your hand that you’re looking info up in the ATP Player Guide to substantiate your points.

On the golf vs. tennis tip, with golf coverage killing tennis in the U.S., the world tennis fanbase reminds that this is largely a U.S. phenomenon, and a laughable one at that when comparing “sports.” Harbi says:

“How dare he [ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser] compare tennis from golf? Golf is not even a sport. Geesh, do americans love sports that doesn’t require players to play hard? What are the most famous sports in america: golf where you only have to stand and swing, baseball same thing, even a stupid poker game is considered a sport and regularly televised in ESPN. These “sports” are best suited for players who aren’t fit.”

Adds kamret: “Only in America is golf such a big deal! In the rest of the world, it’s not even talked about or even shown on TV that much. Tennis is actually the second most televised sport on TV (behind soccer) in most other countries, and golf is far behind. So, maybe America is the main country to blame for the fact that golfers make more money than tennis players and Tiger Woods get more recognition than Sampras or Federer, which is absolutely ridiculous as golf is NOT a sport!”

I’m pretty sure that sums it up. Any other country want to take golf off our hands in the U.S.? You’re welcome to it.

The WTA Tour’s CEO Larry Scott’s plan for reducing the huge and still increasing number of injuries in women’s tennis has come under fire since it was revealed a couple weeks ago. X-Reader John Messenger says:

“IMO, Larry doesn’t have a clue. His solution is to fine the players more when they get injured and don’t show up. Now that makes a lot of sense, NOT. The players’ motivation to play is not because of Larry’s rules, but the money and points that they win or lose. When Sharpova hurt her foot in Moscow, how many dollars and points did she lose? When Dementieva cramped from her 3 hour match, how many dollars and points did she lose? When Clijsters fell on her bad wrist in Montreal, how many dollars and points did she lose? None of Larry’s changes are going to address these 3 injuries, nor any of the others. Larry, wake up, you don’t know what you’re doing.”

The plans seems to think more time off will solve everything — more than finding out the of the injuries and drop-outs. Cutting a few weeks or required events from the calendar is going to do the trick? And no address of what could be the primary culprit, the rocket-racquets that require players to sprint faster and more often during points, and subsequently train harder? Don’t strain yourself WTA trying to fix this problem…just issue some damage-control press releases and keep talking about your “Roadmap” plan that is three years away.

A lack of caretaking for the women’s game (and the injuries are also creeping into the physically-stronger men’s game) have left the top players decimated. Justine Henin-Hardenne, who hasn’t played a tournament since the US Open, could likely finish the year No. 1. Amelie Mauresmo, the winner of two Slams this year, might also miss the year-end championship, out with a shoulder injury.The plans seems to think more time off will solve everything — more than finding out the of the injuries and drop-outs. Cutting a few weeks or required events from the calendar is going to do the trick? And no address of what could be the primary culprit, the rocket-racquets that require players to sprint faster and more often during points, and subsequently train harder?

There has always been little upside for the WTA concerning investigating the rising injuries over the years, as both the process and results would only end in the tour losing money — from players possibly changing injury-inducing equipment, playing less tournaments, reducing the calendar, etc. Now as Mauresmo (shoulder injury), Henin-Hardenne (knee injury) and Sharapova (playing with a foot injury) limp toward the end of the year, and many of its other superstars (Williams sisters, Monica Seles, Jennifer Capriati) are struggling with injuries or forced to retire, the WTA has to ask itself — was wishing the problem would go away all these years worth it?

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14 Comments for Angry Reader Mail: Roger v Pete, Tennis v Golf, WTA Injuries

Pete Sampras Says:

HEY RICHARD, what the hell are you doing? protecting me? Little b*atch.
I will tell you one more time: Fed is 14 times better than me.
Now go to bed, little kid.

Roger Federer Says:

He never said Pete is better than me. I’m going to appear on a balcony in a white robe and address all my subjects and would just like all of my fed fanatics to like calm down. I will beat that no1 record anyway. Fed has spoken, peace be with you.

Pete Sampras Says:

I think you didn,t understood me there, Roger.

You´re the Greatest.

Your Pete

John Messenger Says:

More injuries:

Three injured at Linz, so far. (And the week is not over.)

Maria Kirilenko (hip)
Daniela Hantuchova (rib)
Mary Pierce (left knee) (carried off on a stretcher)

Jon Says:

Is Richard Vacht gay?

GopiB Says:

This is tennis, not auto racing. Even in auto racing, there are points for every race, and ranking of players – so one race is just like one tournament. So your analogy is totally wrong, Richard. Pipping someone in the line in one race is akin to beating someone iin the finals of a tournament.

Andrew Miller Says:

“how many fewer Slams would have Pete won in today’s slower conditions, with the baseliners wielding super racquets that let them barely get to a ball yet launch screaming passing shots? Could well have been a different story — and a sad commentary that the powers that be have let tennis change so much with the unchecked technology.”

Hmmm. Sampras won his last tournament – US Open in 2002. He knocked off the Babolat-wielding Andy Roddick, Dunlop-wielding Tommy Haas, and Head-wielding Andre Agassi. In 2001, he ran roughshod over Youzhny, a prince-wielding Patrick Rafter, the head-wielding Agassi, and a dunlop-wielding Safin before losing to the Yonex-wielding Lleyton Hewitt during a mostly daytime match. Who cares about technology: Sampras ‘ pinpoint service accuracy and aggressiveness kept putting him in the US Open final. Sampras figured out ways to beat just about everybody, and he would have figured out Federer also, as well as Federer figuring him out. Let’s face it: few players volley well now, they just dont, good technology or whatever, they just dont. Let’s face another thing: Federer is creating his own competition. He is pushing players to get better, and the young fellas, some of them will rise and chip away at his win column on a yearly basis. They might not, but chances are they will. Sampras’ reign was not un-interrupted; and neither will Federer’s reign be smooth over the next five years.

TejuZ Says:

Sampras figured out ways to beat them?? yeah… he just serve-volleyed all the way.. never saw him change his game plan much. Lucky if he was volleying well(and his serve did help him), but if the opponenet was in form (like Safin in US Open final) he cudnt do much about it even if hez playing well.

Federer on the other hand changes his game plan if something isnt working for him. If he loses a match(which is very rare) its cuz he dint play well and also the opponent played the match of his life.

Mr Vach.. Stop talking about the racquet technology crap. Dint sampras benifit from it when he was young and played players form older generation. Do u think, he would have got an extra 10 mph on his serve, had he used the latest racquets?? If u want more power in ur shots, u got to compromise of control. Atleast we dont get to see those boring 50 shot french open rallies or 3-shot wimbledon rallies which we used to have during 90’s. Serve-volley is fine to an extent.. but not if its played 100% of the time… gets too boring after a while.

MBB Says:

This is really starting to get old. Miss Serve and Volley? Go watch those Rafter vs. Sampras “Thrillers” where each point lasts exactly 2 shots(or less). Sampras is not a serve and volleyer, he’s a big server who happens to trot forward when the opponent manages to hit a short floater back, so really it makes no difference what era he plays in because he’s still going to ace you a ton because you have no idea where and what kind of spin his serve will deliver. I love it also how the solution to “cracking” the Federer-code is somehow serving and volleying…? Is there any factual proof of this or are you just going on the H2H matches between Federer and Rafter in 2000 when Federer was like 18? Look at the tapes of when he hits those incredible shots and you’ll notice that 99% of them occur when his opponent comes forward on a deep approach. Maybe like a Mcenroe, who had equal if not more ability(not being biased here but I’ve always considered Mcenroe to be one of the games greatest talents) who could also play solid tennis on the baseline and sublime tennis from the net, could challenge federer but not because he comes forward but because he’s equal if not greater in talent.

TejuZ Says:

Seems like Nadal chickened out .. cuz he anyway had very tough draw with Safin, Gasquet, Haas and Blake in his quarter. Wow, that was the first time he had got such a tough draw and 2 years and now hez pulled out.

Am sure he wont even play Masters Cup, just like last year.. cuz he knowz hez more likely to lose againt the Top 10 players and he doesnt have to bank on luck to have a good draw.

I really wanted to see Safin hammer him down in 2ns round of Paris TMS, but Alas!!!!

TejuZ Says:

Cuz he knowz if he doesnt win more matches against the top 10 players, he wudnt be considered a threat to Fed anymore.. except when the Clay season is on.

nadal Says:

I have never played Safin, or nalbandian. blake, hewitt, berdych, own me, except on clay. I can’t even play youzhny or an aged moya/ferrero on hard courts. basically, once the french open is done, my season is over.

I can run a lot, run fast, and hit looping forehands. but that works only on clay. Also, now that I am out of my teen years, even that (just running for everything) is getting to be tough. I have already had so many injuries. I think i have maybe one or two years of clay court dominance left in me. After that I will retire.

In any case, I am mean and unsporting. I use all kinds of cheap tactics, like on-court coaching, choking on a banana if shadows are bothering me, taking more time between points, etc. I am also a businessman first, so I am in favor of all steps that destroy tennis but make us more money in the short run.

Any questions?

TejuZ Says:

No questions Nadal… u said it all

Thanks for saying out ur mind aloud.. appreciate that :-)

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