Same as below. Wertheim’s still the man. Find his answers here.
I’m excited to be going to the Cincinnati tournament next month to watch the men and women. Can you give me some tips. What should I be looking for?
— Jim S., Chicago
Good question! You might mean “which players should I be keeping on” or “what things should I try and see at the tournament?” Either way, I’ll answer both.
I think it’s pretty obvious to say what you’re looking for with the men: Novak Djokovic, and guys who can beat Novak Djokovic. The chances of him sweeping Cincy/Montreal as well as USO like he did IW/Miami/AO seem small, but this is still a guy who has only lost once all year. As for the other guys, what adjustments has Rafa made? How’s the confidence? What about Fed? Muzz still looking good? You’ll definitely want to keep an eye on your top 3 Americans Fish, Andy, and Tree, and you might want to check out the BryBros too.
For the ladies, definitely try and see some of the youngsters if they make it out, Sabine, Heather, and whoever else. Definitely take a good look at the order of play and check where the good match-ups are. I always prefer the early round matches of the ladies as I tend to find them a lot less predictable and more competitive.
I’ve never been to the Cincy tournament, but I have been to Montreal and Toronto (where I’ll be this year, come say hi!) and I can say this: Bring a printed out draw, and especially a printed out order of play if you don’t have a sweet phone. That way you can keep track of what matches are when and what you want to see (it will never go according to plan). It’s also great to have a good idea of the draw, in my opinion, especially if you’re going to be there for a few days (I’ve always gone for four). If one of your favourites wins, you might want to go check out who they could play next on a different court.
Practice courts and general wandering around are a must. The coolest things about being at the tournament is all the little bonus moments that happen that you don’t normally see. Goofy (or angry) practices, funky outfits, funny things on changeovers, conversations with other fans; it’s all an awesome, geeky tennis experience. So make sure you don’t get stuck on centre court and get out and enjoy!
Oh, and don’t be afraid to bring a backpack with some water, food, sunscreen, and whatever else. They don’t care at the Canadian tournaments as long as you let them check it, and I would assume (hope) they don’t at other ones, either. And don’t be afraid to take a break! Especially if you’re going for the day and night session. It’s a long day. Don’t worry, there’s lots to see.
Simple question, Jon: Fish or Blake?
— Sam, San Francisco
I luckily peaked at Wertheim’s answer because of the chart he had, and overall, the numbers point towards Blake (more prize money, more titles, higher highest ranking). The trick, however, is that Blake is all but dunzo, and Fish seems to just get starting (good, cause I’m starving! Er…) This is probably the best he’s ever played and is crushing his way through easier opponents and racking up the points big time. We’ll see how he does over the summer, he may be inching towards the top 5 at this rate.
I think Ana Ivanovic has fallen into the Anna Kournikova life pattern of being told she needs to focus on her beauty more than her tennis.
— Allan Watkins, Atlanta
The only thing Ana and Anna have in common is tennis, and they’re both pretty. That’s about it. Anna K was nearly destined for “child star”-dom. Being hailed as a great junior out of Nick’s academy and not living up to the hype in singles, moving into a life of modelling and stardom came pretty naturally.
For Ana, the love of the game is still there. She’s been switching coaches and trainers in attempt to find top form. She was also never “told she needs to focus on her beauty”, and I’ve always got the sense that was something fun for her on the side, and never came as a huge distraction (even if the results weren’t great during some of those periods). Also, can was stop using the term “one slam wonder”? C Note from Forty Deuce brought up a great point… why not give some slack to Nails or Fran for being “one slam wonders” and underachieving their whole careers? Silly.
Just a comment on the reason why Roger Federer doesn’t watch the finals. If I’m a surgeon and do heart transplants all the time, do I go running to the operating room every time a heart transplant is done by another surgeon?
— Asif Khan MD, Canfield, Ohio
I… what? I think I know what you mean, and I think I’ve already agreed so… sure…
Jon, let me see if I’ve got this straight: The claycourt season goes from April until early June, ending with the French Open. Grasscourt season starts the next day, and ends four weeks later at Wimbledon. Fine, I guess. Davis Cup action happens again the next week, on the surface of choice for the hosting country. Again, fine, I guess. But then the following week there’s an ATP event in Sweden on … clay??? What?? So David Ferrer goes from playing on clay, grass, hardcourt indoor and back to clay in the span of six weeks??!! Whoa, I’m thinking the dude is probably ready for some R&R.
— John, San Francisco
Indeed. Let’s consider this.
1) The insane schedule mentioned above, not forgetting that he comes BACK to North America (he’s already been here once for Davis Cup) for Montreal, Cincy, and USO
2) He’s 29
3) His grinder style of play usually means he’s playing long points and long matches, which takes a serious toll on the body.
4) He actually wins! With, other than being crazy impressive, it means he’s playing even MORE tennis.
And, while not worth mentioning in the list, he’s only 5’9. The dude can not be worn down, not on the road, not on the plane, and sure as hell not on the court. Did I mention that he’s pretty solid on all surfaces too? A hero for the little man, figuratively and literally.
I was watching Marc Gicquel play in a Challenger event in Sopot, Poland, a few days ago and, as an ardent Federer fan, I immediately noticed he was wearing a white and yellow Roger Federer T-shirt from this year’s Australian Open! Am I the only one who thinks it’s bizarre to see a guy other than Roger compete on tour with an RF logo emblazoned on his chest?
— Marcin Zielkiewicz, Warsaw, Poland
Tennis players are pretty normal peeps, and the ones further down the rankings can be pretty removed from the top dudes. It’s almost more like wearing your favourite team’s shirt while playing. Not too weird.
I’m not sure if you heard about this on Howard Stern, but he made a great point: How long before the WTA has someone grunting corporate sponsor names? Maria Sharapova could do “Nikeeeeeeeeeeee,” Victoria Azarenka might be able to get away with “Sergio Tacchiniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii.”
— Jim M, Pittsford, N.Y.
Well behaved women rarely make history, no? I couldn’t help but peak at Wertheim’s answer because it’s such an intriguing question, and it’s pretty fantastic. And why limit to one sponsor? You could fill entire categories. Forehands could be “EEEEEEEEE-surance!!!!” Backhands could be “Emirrrrrrrrates Aiiiiiiir!” Serves could be “betttt-at-home-dottttt.com!”
Do you know who came up with the line, “Federer plays the game we wish we could play; Rafa plays the game we should try to play”?
— Mark S., Los Angeles
No idea, but I like it. Fed’s play is otherworldly. Rafa always tries to improve, and has a fantastic attitude on and off the court. Indeed.
I’m a little confused. Why do the players in doubles seem to hide their talks when they speak to each other after points? I see that maybe covering the mouths of the coaches in football, but doubles tennis?
— Ray Danganan, Frederick, Md.
It’s a bit like pitchers who put their gloves over their mouths, no? It always cracks me up when a doubles player on an outer court puts the ball over their mouth while they have an intense conversation and then bounce their way back to the baseline. Still, I guess you never know. There are worse habits.
Can Novak Djokovic be the next Federer? In terms of everything: domination, brand ambassador, front face for the sport …
— Suresh, Mumbai
I don’t think so. A couple of reasons. Mostly, his age and the fact that I don’t think he can keep such amazing play up forever. His head, his body, his shots… something has to go slightly. Fed also won a ton of slams when he had no real opposition, which allowed him to play a lot of easy matches and continue to keep up an insane level of play. That won’t be true for Novak, who has had to tough out a lot of wins. But hell, if Nole can keep this up for a few years, he might be the only guy worth talking about.
I attended the WTT match that featured Serena Williams of the Washington Kastles vs. the New York Sportimes. Serena played three matches and hardly uttered a grunt. What gives?
— Eric Bukzin, Manorville, N.Y.
I’ll speak entirely from my personal grunting experience (as in when I play tennis), but there’s two things in play. 1) When you really go for a ball, it can increase the grunting (which tends to be important points) 2) As you tire, the grunt factor goes up. For me, at least, when I’ve been playing for a bit, and really want to go for a forehand, I sometimes grunt. It’s mostly because my entire body is clenching, preparing for the shot, and then leans in to it and out comes the grunt (not that it’s very loud). WTT matches tend to be short, and let’s face it, not super important, and the opposition (Hingis) isn’t too scary. So a lot of factors go into it.
I’m planning to donate $1 to charity for every match Nikolay Davydenko wins this year. I have five singles in my wallet. Will I have to visit the ATM before this year is up?
— Brett Davis, Los Angeles
You’re already 9 bucks short, so you’re obviously not doing a fantastic job. Age and injury are a deadly combo. I think Kolya is likely out of the convo when it comes to big time matches, sadly.
Has anyone noticed that Andrey Golubev in the midst of an epic losing streak? He has lost 17 consecutive matches since March. He is only four loses away from tying Vince Spadea’s 21-match losing streak. To add insult to injury, his ranking just plummeted from 57 to 103 after being unable to defend in Hamburg. You have to feel sorry for the guy!
— Eric, Philadelphia
Holy crap! The last full match I watched of his was in Hamburg last year. He was cranking his one handed back hand and looked like a decent scamperer (that’s totally a word, right?) He definitely has the power to outright spank some of the lower ranked players… but apparently not. Messy stuff.