Dec/19

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Our Media Confrontations With Players

Confrontations between tennis pros and media like the recent Nadal vs Ubi tiff in Paris happen infrequently but they do happen.

In an email discussion between myself, Dan and veteran scribe Richard Pagliaro and former tennis writer Dan Weil, we remembered a few chilly and heated moments with tennis players and also fellow reporters.

Pagliaro recalled to Dan:   Actually, I believe you had two run-ins with Roddick.   One was Indian Wells.    The other was at US Open when you were writing a piece for Tennis Magazine on how marriage impacts players.   I was working for Tennis Mag at the time and sitting next to you in interview room one after Roddick lost to Tipsarevic with the infamous foot-fault call.  And you asked him the marriage question.

 
Q. You’re a married man now. Do you feel you kind of curtail your anger when you have situations like this and maybe not go off into a real boil? Is it different now that you’re married in these situations where you feel you have to be more respectable on the court?
ANDY RODDICK: You thought I was respectable tonight?

Q. Could have taken it to Johnny Mac levels.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I could have. And the fact that I didn’t is because I’m married? That’s the thought process we’re going to go with?
No, I think that’s — no. We got to find another avenue for a story, I think.

I remember Roddick actually returned to your marriage theme in his final answer:

Q. Do you feel like you were aggressive in tonight’s match?
ANDY RODDICK: I mean, yeah. A little tough to be aggressive when a guy is hitting every ball as hard as he can. I felt like I was hitting the ball pretty firm.
I think I wasn’t aggressive because I got married.


The Agassi run-in was probably more intense. I was thinking about another Agassi run-in you had when Agassi mocked Chang’s cheapness making a remark to the effect that Why is Chang so cheap? His arms are too short to reach into his pockets.

When Agassi saw you noting his Chang cheap shot he was incensed.
What about the time you taunted James Blake for “working with a cookbook writer” for his memoir and “JamesHimself” famously replied directly on the old TennisWeek.com board? 

You actually had run-ins with most of the US Davis Cup team – Roddick, Fish, JamesHimself – yet oddly you never had a dispute with Bryan Bros.

You left out the time when you drilled Connors in a pro-am doubles and Connors replied “you’re gonna pay for that.”  Jimbo did not appreciate the body blow.


Dan replied: Rich. You missed a few and the incident with Roddick occurred not over marriage–can’t remember that one–but at Indy Wells, when I asked Roddick why people found his game boring and he said people find Shaq’s game boring too and he didn’t care. And you forgot actually the biggest one of all, with Agassi at New Haven, when in the middle of a presser, he started yelling at me with his high-pitched girlie yell because I asked him an innocent question, phrased wrong I must admit, “How good a loser are you? and Agassi screamed, “I’m not a loser. You’re a loser!” Oh well, that was before Andre became enlightened and OPEN. 


I’ve had mostly very good relations with 98% of the players but I can think of a few testy moment. For some reason Marinko Matosevic became a prick to me. We did a Biofile in Newport at the hard courts across the street and he was a great guy, super Biofile. Super nice guy, enjoyed doing the Biofile. Then I remember a few years after it I could sense he had it in for me for some inexplicable reason. I don’t remember ever bothering him or asking for an interview after. But one day at US Open as we waited to enter the press center entrance showing our credentials, he kind of bumped his bag into me on purpose. We walked by each other a few times and I actually felt by a look he gave me we might fight someday. Yet I have no idea why. Bizarre.

Marcos Baghdatis got hot on me and the ATP media guy in Washington DC at Citi Open two years ago. I wanted to do a Biofile at night after his win. It was set up and at the media zone I started asking Biofile questions and he suddenly resisted, barking at the ATP guy about he only expected to talk about the match. It was almost to the point of abusive. Very uncharacteristic to see Bag act like that and vent on the poor guy. I somehow managed to convince him to do the Biofile anyway, just a few minutes and then he gave me an absolutely superb Biofile! Definitely a weird moment how it was reversed from a tense, negative situation into a classic Biofile.

I had a clash with Agassi. In the mid 90s when Agassi was at the height of his rebel fame, at US Open I approached him spontaneously in the old locker room to do a Biofile. He had seen and heard me do one with Stefan Edberg a day or two before but he wanted nothing to do with it, barking at me about media not being allowed in the locker room, etc. His whole team, Gilbert, Juliani, Reyes were with him looking at me, as he did. I just said something about the media credential does allow us into the locker room and walked away.

Another time around this same era, I asked Boris Becker to do a Biofile on the steps going to the old locker room and he replied, “I’m already famous enough.”

Of course my latest clash was with Marcelo Rios at Eddie Herr last year. He was practicing for his exhibition with Lapentti. When he realized who I was while we were chatting on breaks, he contradicted what he told me seven years earlier about my book about him. At the ATP No. 1 Gala in NYC Rios said “there were some things in the book that weren’t true but it was pretty good, pretty good.”

Last year he changed his opinion, saying I should not have written the book because “if you write a book about someone you should know the person.”

I replied that a writer is like an artist, he can paint anyone or anything he wants. Needless to say, the hard-headed Rios did not appreciate my point of view and we are still at odds and probably always will be.

Another time I approached Dmitri Tursunov about Facing Nadal while he was hitting with a female player, but he thought I might hit him with gambling questions and brought me over to Greg Sharko to make sure I was legit – it was before the tournament started and I was dressed casually. After a delay, Tursunov eventually opened up and shared some great memories of Facing Nadal.

That’s all I can think of as far as awkward or uncooperative moments with players.

158 comments

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 8, 2019 at 1:51 pm

    Jackson may know more about Nadal than Nadal does.

  • Hartt · December 8, 2019 at 2:25 pm

    I thought this was a nice message from Alize Cornet, posted right after Wozniacki’s retirement announcement. She posted a pic of a young Caroline with it. Later she corrected “flyed” to “flown.”

    “I remember the first time we played each other for 3 and a half hours when we were 11, I can’t believe how time has flyed, and how an amazing champion you’ve became. Congrats to you and your dad for this unbelievable career Caroline”
    👏
    👏
    👏
    ! All the best
    😘
    😘

  • catherine · December 8, 2019 at 3:02 pm

    This time of the year, when nothing’s happening, gives me a delicious opportunity to pick holes in everything – now to include Serena Williams’ latest foray into the world of commerce and social conscience. She’s produced a video series designed to ‘inspire women’ and ’embrace their greatness’. Which is ok, except what seems to inspire women, in Serena’s world, is going shopping. Preferably to buy her own clothing and jewellery lines – diamonds of course. The price tags are pretty inspiring I imagine.

    I’d prefer to hear about the education charities she and Venus run in Africa. That would be interesting.

  • Hartt · December 8, 2019 at 3:57 pm

    I agree, would far rather hear about their charities.

    Bianca is helping to promote a women’s shelter in Toronto. There is a video of her visiting the shelter and one of the women talking about her experiences.

    Tennis players do contribute a lot to various charities, and I think there should be more info about that, because it raises the profiles of the charities. Many of them become directly involved, such as what I posted about Milos playing with the kids at a facility his foundation supports. The kids were quite young, and he seemed huge next to them, but he clearly enjoyed himself, acting like a big kid.

  • Andrew Miller · December 8, 2019 at 5:04 pm

    Soapbox time. The best example is Richard Williams and Oracene Price. I continue to find it INCREDIBLE that people don’t follow their example. Only Jon King, Jon gets it! Scoop I think gets it: ferocity works. Relentless ferocity works better.

    Who has been like the Williams? Sampras for sure. Nadal, Djokovic, Federer, Seles, Graf. Muster probably, his knees betrayed him (it will be sad if/when Thiem passes Muster – I don’t see the same things in Thiem I saw in Muster but Thiem has found another gear this year that I’ve never seen in the guy).

    When looking at the Williams, definitely watch what they’ve done, and not what they say to do. They upended convention through fundamentals and unbridled desire. I’m stunned more people in any sport haven’t said you know what, the Williams showed how it’s done.

    As for whatever product they’re hawking, that’s part of the show. They’ve been doing that since the 1990s!!!! No different than Sharapova or anyone else, or Capriati with Oil of Olay or Pert Plus or whatever. The endorsements are so corny.

    It’s too bad tennis players don’t do more car commercials, but maybe because if they endorse one car or another it’s hard to accept the cars they win on tour, who knows.

  • Andrew Miller · December 8, 2019 at 5:08 pm

    Jackson may be Mery Nadal or Nadal’s sister or dad. Given that the late Mr. Pierce had haunted the TP forum (does anyone else?) who knows. It’s funny I’ve seen some quotes from social media from some of us (!) appear up on other blogs!!!

    (No, not me with Wertheim’s mailbag. I love the mailbag, but I mean actual quotes from people here show up in articles). I guess TP has a following beyond the blog – Dan, Scoop may know better.

    Maybe it’s all in German with the Kerbermania! Sorry Catherine I don’t see myself making much of Kerber’s slight decline in form and desire. She shocked the world a few times so if she gets back in title form that would be interesting but not completely out of the ball park. Same for Muguruza, I’d expect under Conchita Martinez she realizes she can’t cut her coach down to size and expect her game to sizzle rather than fizzle under pressure.

  • Andrew Miller · December 8, 2019 at 5:09 pm

    Prediction: Wozniaki pulls a Clijsters, recognizes she’s a tennis player first, or runs a tournament in Denmark or something like that.

    You can leave the sport, but the sport owns you.

  • Andrew Miller · December 8, 2019 at 5:18 pm

    Andreescu…it will be interesting to see what she does this year. I expect her to get injured early and often 🙁 She “forgot to lose” (ugh). I hope she worked on her serve in the off-season and learned from Nadal that “free points are great”. It would be unrealistic to expect that Andreescu does this year what she did last year – she snuck up on the field (brilliant, exactly what anyone who wants to grab a slam should do) but is now “marked” by other players who feel insecure and have something to defend (pride, points, etc).

    Andreescu’s contribution to the women’s game, upsetting the apple cart, has been invaluable. She was easily the best player in the world until Osaka woke up with her dad’s help (I’m still AMAZED her dad Francois was able to help her pull it together). Her WTA finals showing was poor but it’s not the best surface for her and she’d played too much this year by that point (Svitolina she isn’t).

    If anything when it comes to the tour and injuries the past few months, blame China. China may be pouring money into players’ pockets but it’s also made them work way too hard in the last months of the season – downtime and improvement time has turned into “chase the cash”. Personally I think the tour should fix all of this and bring some sanity back. But players probably aren’t complaining much as they make way more money than they know what to do with on the China swing.

  • Andrew Miller · December 8, 2019 at 5:24 pm

    Cornet must be in happy mode. She loved winning Fed Cup. Fed Cup kind of showed up the Davis Cup thing. I don’t like the new format and I’m now wary of “fixing” anything (fixing the slams…please).

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 8, 2019 at 5:29 pm

    Good comments I heard at Herr, Andreescu’s head is not fully on her tennis. So true. Kyrgios loves Medvedev! They rode a private together from DC to Montreal and became friends. Kyrgios agent John Morris told me this at Herr. Anyone notice how Medvedev’s results have tapered off since he became normal? He had his best results when he was irritating people and causing controversy. Even since he became a cliche machine saying all the right politically correct things after the US Open final, his results have gone back to regular and not extraordinary. Hope Medevedev gets back in touch with his inner McEnroe.

  • catherine · December 8, 2019 at 9:15 pm

    Andrew – I’ve seen comments on T-P turn up on Google from time to time – I’ve no idea how they got there. Big Brother is everywhere.

    Kerbermania ? Angie’s been a bit quiet in terms of her preparation this off season. Maybe she’s not telling because she thinks that’s better. We’ll see in Brisbane and Adelaide. If her new coach is a ‘coach’ or just a fill-in. She’s in the senior ranks now. No more DQs 🙂

    Wozniaki will leave the game for a good while – that’s my prediction.

  • Andrew Miller · December 8, 2019 at 11:16 pm

    Kerber has great inner desire, she showed that with her slam wins. Every slam is different, even for players with tons of them.

  • Andrew Miller · December 8, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    Funny on Medvedev Kyrgios – remember they also chartered a plane to Cincinatti after Kyrgios Citi Open win over Medvedev and Kyrgios felt good about that, given that Medvedev and Tsitsipas were on that plane and “talked it out” – but Kyrgios overestimated his peacemaking skills. Kyrgios brokered the truce, now broken/shattered, between Tsitsipas and Medvedev. They despise each other as the ATP enters an era where the big three can no longer keep the peace – two excellent players eager to out duel each other with others chomping at the bit. They are “destined” to square off at least another time, maybe on a big stage.

    I appreciate the emerging era because of the skill of the new “kids”, but I don’t think we’ll have the same grace and class we’ve been lucky to have up until now. It might be a little rougher.

  • Andrew Miller · December 8, 2019 at 11:24 pm

    WTA technically should have more of the action this year as it has over last few years. But ATP could be fun to see who can break through and get their first, possibly only, slam.

  • catherine · December 9, 2019 at 1:09 am

    ‘Inner desire’ can be squashed by more powerful inner fears and uncertainties. Many examples. Martinez harnessed the desire for Muguruza but can she do it again ?

    Angie’s been floundering since Fisette left. Like Michael Joyce said, women aren’t any good without a coach. Schuettler was no coach. Kindlmann hasn’t a great track record. I don’t understand why he’s there, unless, as I said before, he’s a nursemaid.

    If Scoop’s overheard right and Bianca’s distracted from tennis, then WTA may go topsy-turvey.

  • catherine · December 9, 2019 at 1:30 am

    I hate social media. It makes me uncomfortable. But I go on looking at it. I think I’d better find an addiction therapist 🙂

    (In the days I wrote about tennis there was no twitter, IG etc and I can’t say it made any difference at all)

  • Hartt · December 9, 2019 at 7:06 am

    I think the ATP will be interesting in more ways than one when the “kids” take over. There will be some players, like FAA, who will display the “grace and class” of today’s top players. But we will also have “aggro” with feuds like the Tsitsipas vs Medvedev one. That should be a fun mix.

  • Hartt · December 9, 2019 at 7:22 am

    As far as Bianca is concerned, I think we will need to wait until Auckland to have any idea of how she is doing. She is playing an exhibition in Hawaii right after Christmas, but that won’t be a good indicator. Interestingly, Kerber is in that tourney as well. Plus Sharapova and Collins.

    The tourney also has a men’s side, with Fritz, Nishikori and Raonic, among others. I will be interested to see if Milos actually plays.

  • Andrew Miller · December 9, 2019 at 7:49 am

    Any idea so many women’s players have autoimmune diseases such as r. arthritis at such young ages? Bad diagnoses? I’m shocked as it’s rare for young people. I was shocked when Venus Williams got a similar diagnosis and so too Danielle Collins, Caroline Wozniaki. (No they aren’t made up diseases). I’m not sure how these diagnoses were made as there are conditions that mimic them. Count me worried. Maybe a physician on the board can impart some knowledge here.

  • Andrew Miller · December 9, 2019 at 7:59 am

    Maybe the social media “Congrats!” messages are as was said from the P.R. firms or handlers, or maybe how some players communicate, or another sign that “players aren’t often friends on tour”. I have this idea players go to different cities and go to restaurants etc but the more likely reality is some players have personal chefs like Nadal and Sampras I think, and others more than likely go with tournament cafeteria food, hotel food, etc.

    Players know of each other more than they know each other. Know each other’s games and tendencies. Rarely much else.

    Maybe the social media hey great career really are the extent of some players parting thoughts. Maybe most of them really don’t have a way of saying hello to other players. I’d guess Serena Williams has the cell number for Wozniaki, but probably not a lot of other players that faced her over the years!

    I’d still think they try to reach her another way. The social media congrats don’t strike me as etiquette, but maybe in this new world if they don’t post a tweet time passes and maybe other players have the tweets read to them. Like four year olds.

  • Andrew Miller · December 9, 2019 at 8:03 am

    My last sentence wasn’t meant to say “pro tennis players are four year olds”, just that there’s a difference between authoring your own tweets and managing through others that script them and read them to players (which I think is a thing when players can afford it and PR firms get involved at higher levels of responsibility). Players want to focus on the tennis, but some players probably want to control their brand a little more and love the social media “interaction” or platform.

    I doubt it. Too much for players to sift through. But some players do their own. Kyrgios, why he is so petty to people sometimes… that’s him on there defending himself (for no reason).

  • Hartt · December 9, 2019 at 8:16 am

    I’m too old to truly understand social media, but when I look at a player’s IG, it strikes me that it is a quick way to stay in touch. Other players may make a brief comment, or even “like” the post, and it shows that they have read it. I imagine close friends have a way to communicate in private, but even buddies like FAA and Shapo will post comments on each other’s IG.

    As long as players don’t become too obsessed with it, I don’t think social media has to be a problem. But the stories about players checking their phones the second they are off the court does make you wonder.

  • catherine · December 9, 2019 at 8:43 am

    Didn’t know Angie was playing in Hawaii. I did comment on the event before but that was when I saw Bianca was playing. With no H Cup I suppose it’s a good gig for some. Also Angie, like Sharapova, hasn’t played for a long time so wouldn’t want to jump into a tournament like Brisbane without preparation.( BTW It’s going to be extremely hot in Aus and bushfires are still burning.)

    Hartt – I’m also too old for social media so I really should ignore it. But I wonder sometimes – you get a players whose career’s in the cart, can’t win a match and you go to IG and life’s just a bowl of cherries and there’s no recognition of any disconnect at all.

    You want to know a player, you look at them on court because that’s all you need a lot of the time.

  • catherine · December 9, 2019 at 8:49 am

    Andrew – rheumatoid arthritis isn’t uncommon in young people, I’ve known two youngish women who got it. Maybe some heredity involved ? Or just coincidental.

    Venus Williams has another type of auto-immune disease.

  • catherine · December 9, 2019 at 8:53 am

    Wozniaki and Kerber are personal friends – the Polish connection.

  • Hartt · December 9, 2019 at 8:55 am

    I have to admit I am a sucker for photos of my favourite youngsters, like Felix, looking happy.

    Here is an example of where social media works. Doublefault28 posted on twitter a compilation of his(?) favourite GIFs. He has made a lot, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing them.

    Every once in a while the Players’ Tribune has an in- depth piece by a player, such as “Letter to My Younger Self.” These can give a glimpse into a player’s personality, and I always find them interesting.

    Somewhere I read that one advantage of playing Auckland before the AO is that it isn’t as hot as Australia, but gives the players a change to acclimatize to the hotter weather.

  • Andrew Miller · December 9, 2019 at 8:56 am

    Yes, but so do I, and we know few others that have these conditions.

  • catherine · December 9, 2019 at 9:07 am

    I don’t think rheumatoid arthritis is as common as the other kind, which I suffer from as it is otherwise called ‘ageing’.

    Hartt – I just noticed some of the committments to play in Hawaii were made back in October and I wonder how much appearance money is on offer 🙂

    My view on Oz events is that they should shift them all to Tasmania which is cooler on the whole and rains more.

    No public person ever tells the truth about themselves even if they’re pretending to, or trying to.

  • Hartt · December 9, 2019 at 9:37 am

    Catherine, I don’t think anyone tells the entire truth about themselves, I doubt if we even know it ourselves. But we can gain insights when someone tries to be honest. For example, Frances Tiafoe in “Something Bigger” for the Players’ Tribune in 2017:

    “I got away from that in the summer of 2016.

    I was in a bit of a rut. As I slowly climbed up the ATP ladder from the very bottom, I was getting more and more media attention — more people knew who I was when I’d walk out on the grounds. More people knew who I was in the locker rooms at the various ATP events. I was starting to get little head nods from some of the biggest guys on tour. It made me a little too comfortable. The expectations, which had been placed on me when I was 14 or 15 years old, had gotten to me a little bit. I wouldn’t say I had relaxed — I was still out there, grinding — but I drifted away from what made me a pro in the first place. I got caught up in that status. I just assumed that the success would come, like I’d been promised it would.”

  • catherine · December 9, 2019 at 9:48 am

    Yes, that’s interesting from Tiafoe and I’m sure quite a few young players could share his story. But I’d also suspect that T will never be so honest again because you grow a shell as time goes by in the pro world and the shell becomes part of you.

    Like feel-good IGs become part of you, the admissable part.

  • Jon King · December 9, 2019 at 10:21 am

    Good to see Russia banned from Olympics and other sporting events. The amount of cheating they do at the junior tennis level is off the charts. Their entire sports system at all ages is corrupt.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 9, 2019 at 10:27 am

    did wozniacki cite RA as the reason for retiring?

  • catherine · December 9, 2019 at 10:29 am

    I think individuals will be allowed to compete as neutrals, the way they have done in other competitions.

    I feel sorry for some Russian tennis players who may not have been involved at all.

    That said, Russia was given every opportunity to be compliant but they went on cheating.

  • catherine · December 9, 2019 at 10:31 am

    Scoop – no, she did not. She gave general reasons. But I’m sure she knows she can’t continue playing at a high level.

  • Andrew Miller · December 9, 2019 at 11:31 am

    No. Wozniacki game was “passed by”. She put in an amazing effort to get the elusive slam and should be celebrated for staying with it. My understanding and in reading the comments here is Wozniacki was
    and is ready to leave the sport. She has “other interests”. I think I’m totally wrong that she would come back: this looks like goodbye, leaving for good, maybe I’ll do some announcing, it’s been great.

  • Hartt · December 9, 2019 at 11:35 am

    I imagine Caro has several reasons for retiring now, including RA, although she said that was not a factor. But you have to think winning that elusive Slam played a role, plus one of her stated reasons, wanting to start a family.

  • Andrew Miller · December 9, 2019 at 3:49 pm

    Scoop, your kind of player and Dan’s kind of player. We root for underdogs.

    Yahoo News
    “From cleaning boats last year to make ends meet to a spot in next month’s Australian Open main draw, Chris O’Connell shapes as one of tennis’s feel-good stories of the summer.

    The Sydney battler has seemingly irresistible claims for an Open wildcard after soaring from outside the world’s top 1000 to being on the cusp of the top 100 during a simply spectacular 2019 campaign.

    A 14-times finalist on the ITF Futures and Challenger tours, no player won more matches than O’Connell’s 82 this year – not even grand slam giants Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic or the prolific Daniil Medvedev on the big tour.”

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 9, 2019 at 5:57 pm

    Gonna do a Biofile on Chris O Connell the first chance I get. Lovely inspiring story.

  • Andrew Miller · December 9, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    O’Connell reminds of Victor! There is no Victor actually but Victor, clearly one of a kind, but this is a pretty sweet story.

    Thanks again for Victor B. story. You were right it is among the best if not the best story out there.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 10, 2019 at 7:41 am

    Maybe Victor Estrella inspired future rags to riches Rocky Balboa tennis stories. That’s very possible. Lorenzo Done to might be one. Ivan Dodig was one.

  • Andrew Miller · December 10, 2019 at 9:16 am

    A piece on O’Connell from Last Word on Tennis. He took up a suggestion from Danilo Petrovic of Serbia and made Belgrade his home, had already gotten to #217 two years ago before injuries decked him. Interesting this piece suggests that to make it on tour one way is to situate yourself where there are a lot of challengers nearby and Serbia works well for that, given it’s not far from Hungary, Austria, etc, you can train and get the tournaments you need.

    Another point this piece makes and something I don’t understand which maybe folks like Leif can chime in, the extent to which the new rankings system has stacked the deck against better players making inroads from the depths of the tour. O’Connell took up the Danilo Petrovic advice and his career found a new life.

    https://lastwordontennis.com/2019/10/13/australian-christopher-oconnell-up-to-13-tennis-finals-for-the-season/

  • Andrew Miller · December 10, 2019 at 9:36 am

    Brad Stine to work briefly with Tommy Paul. From Collette Lewis. Does it matter? (No).

  • Hartt · December 10, 2019 at 11:30 am

    Andrew, thanks for the link. It was interesting to follow one player’s journey (in more ways than one) over the season. O’Connell’s experience is the perfect example of why the new ITF rankings system was such a disaster. Thank goodness they scrapped it, and it’s good to know that O’Connell at least got his points retroactively.

    I read somewhere that one reason Italian players are doing so well is because there are many Challenger tourneys in Italy, allowing Italian players to take part in many without having to travel long distances. Thus they gain valuable experience and ranking points without having to spend a fortune on plane tickets.

    It sounds like a good idea for countries to host as many Challengers as possible, but this will be a challenge (no pun intended) for large countries like the US, Canada and Australia, where distances within the countries pose a real problem.

    It sounds like O’Connell’s decision to establish a base in Serbia was an excellent idea.

  • Andrew Miller · December 10, 2019 at 2:33 pm

    Hartt, I was so surprised by this player’s rise and Last Word on Tennis seemed to nail the reporting better than the Australian press, but I’m sure a podcast captured it better. I forgot about the ITF changes to the tour that makes things more difficult. I assume for Canada it is a little more manageable given the slate of challengers in North America, access to the California challengers, etc, but not like Europe which is so interconnected and distance truly is minimal.

    The ITF changes must be awful.

  • Andrew Miller · December 10, 2019 at 2:37 pm

    And Italian trains are easy! Players may even get home in one night if they lose early. It’s like playing a home crowd every time (something I thought the young Italian Sinner benefited from for sure, but some players choke in front of a home crowd so maybe Sinner accomplished something much bigger than I think). Not hard to do, I have some biases and blinders and miss the desire that drives many players.

  • Hartt · December 10, 2019 at 3:22 pm

    Andrew, when the ITF brought in those stupid changes, Canada got rid of all the Futures tourneys, I think. There are now Challengers in various parts of the country, and of course the American Challengers, but as you said, there is still a lot of travel involved for North American players in Canada and the US.

  • Andrew Miller · December 10, 2019 at 7:40 pm

    Maybe tennis changed to where players have to be around the competition (rather than in one academy, one family, etc). That used to be Florida and California in the States, and now it seems to be Toronto and Italy and wherever there’s a critical mass of excellent coaches and players (Serbia!). But now it isn’t a slam champ inspiring the next generation from their countries. It’s having a critical mass of good coaches, good players, and better instruction and competition.

    In other words what good is it to train at Nadal’s academy if he’s never there and other players are terrible and you have no good coaches and Uncle Toni is on travel. Then you’re just shelling out megabucks and aren’t any closer to being a top caliber pro (Jaime Munar, that was for you man!).

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 10, 2019 at 7:47 pm

    The word on the curb is that most or many of the big academies have a first priority – numbers. Second priority – creating and producing top players. Numbers more important though. The big academies/factories just are not producing top players – IMG, Mouratoglou, Saddlebrook, Evert, Nadal Academy, USTA Orlando. Nothing of note.

  • Andrew Miller · December 10, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    National systems? Canada has something good going. France and Switzerland and Italy have national systems. No slam champs outside Switzerland and two other guys. Australia has a national system and seems to have retained its “tennis culture”. Still surprised no Aussies have “stepped up to claim a slam” beyond Ash Barty. Aussie women have done better than the men since Hewitt’s last turn at the top.

  • Andrew Miller · December 10, 2019 at 11:36 pm

    Scoop, no surprise. Macci’s academy was expensive to even try out for a day. But they imparted sage advice, such as “hit harder” :). I actually like the guy that said that, he was huge, like a football star that decided to play tennis. They believed they could get anyone up to a high college level, D1 level. Still seems to me the players were already very good before they got to Macci, they were already a good bet for good college tennis programs.

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