Sep/14

10

The Most Prominent Memory of the 2014 U.S. Open

32110_125243784179310_8240515_nNo, it wasn’t a former convicted doper winning the US Open title. It wasn’t even Kei Nishikori becoming the first 5-foot-10 Japanese player to reach the men’s finals. It wasn’t the Monfils-Federer five-setter with Monfils holding two match points in the fourth set (although that’s close). It wasn’t Serena Williams running roughshod over the field, not losing more than 3 games in any set she played. It wasn’t even CC Bellis beating Cibulkova on the cool new Court # 6. Victor Estrella Burgos winning two rounds with great New York Domincan support and then losing in 3 breakers to Raonic was close.

But what topped my interest was Patrick McEnroe getting mowed down executioner-style by the USTA bigwigs right in the middle of the event. Pat was even announcing a match for ESPN when his position as USTA Junior Development czar was ceremoniously pulled out from underneath his feet. True, Izzie went down to Kohlschreiber again before the second week beckoned (Izzie losing to Kohly is becoming a late-summer New York rite of passage). Other American men hopefuls were defaulting from their matches left and right and not even the troika of Rubin, Kozlov or Tiafoe could even win the junior title. Even ageless Mike Russell went down in the second round of Qualis and other new hopefuls like McKenzie McDonald and Jared Donaldson, were getting vanquished in first rounds (Qualis and Main Draw, respectively.) Donald Young wasn’t even around to keep his hat on sideways into the second round. On the women’s side, Madison, Sloane, Taylor and all the other benighted young Americans were out of the Open early.

But PMac getting shot down in the middle of the Open. Say it ain’t so. This was PMac, not Johnny Mac, who the USTA never liked all that much even when he was winning US Open titles. This was PMac, who held the junior development job through a catastrophic decline in American tennis, even with withering criticism from Wayne Bryan and Tim Mayotte, among others. This was PMac, the untouchable, the good McEnroe, the reasonable McEnroe, the man who thrilled and charmed us all with his “Hello!” whenever something good happened on the court.

Well, since PMac’s firing (resignation, all right, let’s stay to the facts here), some notables in tennis have come forth with a plan. Here’s Chris Mayotte’s, Tim’s older brother, who was an all-American at South Carolina, and reached No. 81 in the world. He is currently a teaching pro in New York.

Chris Mayotte Proposal

The USTA Developmental Program should turn itself into The USTA Player Developmental COMMITTEE.

Quick highlights and bullet points.

1. The USTA, whether anyone likes it or not, has millions of dollars to invest in tennis in general and player development, specifically.
2. The USTA should get out of ‘supplemental’ coaching. This phrase is in the USTA Mission Statement and it’s unclear what it means.
3. The Committee should consist of a healthy cross current of top players, coaches, business executives, and a top sports lawyer.
4. A top auditing firm must be hired as a matter of an independent third party check and balance’s.
5. This Committee’s mission statement to ‘invest its funds into an organizational structure that will foster the highest probability of creating world class tennis players’.

Practicalities

1. The members of The Committee have to be paid. This shouldn’t be a volunteer committee.
2. Coaches, players, academies, tennis club owners, etc., will make ‘pitches’ to the committee on why they deserve to be allocated funds. And the strongest applicants (clubs, coaches, academies, etc. that have had success in developing players already, meaning, they have a proven track record) should be the only ones with final say on how the $’s allocated to them by the Committee and put to use. So the applicants with the strongest proposals will receive grant money from the USTA Player Development Committee and then they’ll how full discretion in how to develop talent. This talent will come to the new USTA Orlando facility every so often so the USTA can monitor how they’re doing.
3. These funds should be directly sent to those mentioned in previous point #2 (did someone say auditor) as to be spent as they said it would be as stated in their ‘pitch’.
4. Allocation of those funds should ‘require’ trips by all mentioned in #2 to the new USTA center in Orlando, inducing the beginning stages of a Tennis University as proposed by my brother, Tim.

……………………………………………………………………………..

Look, I am even going to try to work out the particulars and the details here which is way above my level of expertise. But I do know this in my gut, a structure like the one I’ve proposed here puts the USTA and the whole of the United States tennis landscape on the same side of the fence; as opposed to being ‘at arms’ with each other. By its very nature the proposed structure induces cooperation between the two sides. It would ‘ENABLE’ both sides to do their outlined jobs and create a ‘feel good’ relationship that would unleash I believe a competitive zeal, followed by a creative zeal, not seen in American tennis circles for quite some time.

We ALL need to work together here.
This might be the way to start.

Thank you,

Chris Mayotte

· · ·

46 comments

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 10, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Well, first off I think the most prominent story was the final contested between two first time finalists. This is a rarity now in the ATP. The struggle of the American men is a perpetual story. I think to blame Patrick McEnroe is another mistake. How about blaming the players? There’s always gonna be a scapegoat or two or three. Why is everyone quick to point the finger at Patrick McEnroe? Why can’t the players be accountable and say they need to work harder, train harder, compete harder? Okay Chris Mayotte has an interesting idea. But if the players don’t change their methods, their training, their dedication, their fitness, it’s hard to see any big changes in performance/results coming.

  • dan markowitz · September 10, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    I think with any problem you’ve got culpable parties. Yes, there’s something wrong with this current crop of players. That’s evident with the women almost more than with the men. Because when we look at Klahn, Johnson, Kudla, Harry and Sock we can all see obvious limitations to their games.

    But the women have a couple of players in Stephens and Keys who you’d think would be doing better than they are. I mean with Stephens it’s really shocking. So what’s going on? Where’s the coaching to help bring this young athlete to the next level?

    I didn’t agree with PMac bringing in Higueras and stating that the game was all about hitting 35 shots in a row over the net. This is the United States. We’re aggressive outgoing people. Where’s the next McEnroe, Sampras, Agassi and even Roddick? Develop these players to be quick-strike players and not stay 10 feet behind the baseline.

    In this respect, I like Sock the best, but he’s shown in his short career to not have the hunger. Hey, it’s tough. Cilic seemed like a softie once, too. But I’d love the USTA to bring a head guy like Sampras. Why not? At least make him a top consultant and pay him well.

    Sampras of all the Americans, was taught and developed to have big weapons and to play in a classical style. I don’t want to see Americans playing like Spaniards. Robredo and Lopez play more American-style than Harry and Kozlov. Pete knows what it takes to bring a young player around and develop his game so he has all the weapons. Maybe Tim Mayotte is a second choice, but why have a mediocre American player and a Spaniard running the USTA Junior Development Program? It’s not supposed to be a popularity contest.

  • Mike · September 10, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    That certainly was an interesting story but not a USO specific story rather a tennis story. And while I’m loathe to do the “so and so told me”, so and so told me that the news of PMac’s “resignation” (if your Scoop) or let’s use the neutral “departure” for the rest of us was going to be leaked so USTA decided to control it themselves and announce it during the tournament.

    The most interesting USO story was for the second year in a row, of course, the rubbery crap that the Carnegie Deli allows to be passed of as Pastrami under it’s brand. Talk about ruining what is left of your brand (for me, it’s been living off it’s rep since Broadway Danny Rose) in search of short term profits.

    Me, I logged over 200 hours on site. How did you light weights do ?

    See y’all next year !

  • Mike · September 10, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    Oh, the tennis.

    I won’t forget how the French Junior finalist absolutely went away during the boys final. He was killing the Aussie. So bad that when I saw this French photographer come in I said “he’s been killing the Aussie, looks like you’ll have a French Junior champ this year.” But the guy seemed not convinced as if he knew what I didn’t yet. But I’ve been watching the French play tennis for 4 decades. Great players, entertaining, flashy but they’ve not only never had a Connors, Nadal, Hewitt (pick your fav mentally tough competitor) they routinely go away. And that’s what this kid did. He was serving for the match 5-4 (a few loose/nervous games to let the Aussie close in the second), lost his serve and that was it. He won one more game. The Aussie also won the doubles. I didn’t see any juniors that jumped out at me this year like Zvareev did last year.

  • Dan markowitz · September 10, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    Disagree with you, Mike, the USTA giving PMAc the boot was definitely a USO story. I don’t care what anyone says, even you, the USTA didn’t appreciate such an underwhelming performance by the men and women. And then when it came out that PMac wasn’t going to move to Orlando, the USTA had to save face.but who fires their head guy in the middle of the country’s premier event? That’s like impeaching Obama during his State of the Union Address.

    As for time logged at the Open this year put me down for 42 hours. It would’ve been 50 but got waylaid by Obama attending a wedding in Westchester and never made it out for first Friday. Let me ask you a question, Mike and I don’t mean to be person here. Do tou not have a job to spend 200 hours at the Open or is your job being at the Open? Or do you just plan your vacation to be at the Open? And why do you love tennis so much to spend 3 weeks of 10 hours a day at it? It’s truly remarkable. Actually, you’re the best story of the Open. Last question I promise: do you or did you play tennis heavily at one time or do you just like watching tennis?

  • Dan markowitz · September 10, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    Maybe MichaelbJordan attending a couple of the matches was the best happening of the Open. Let’s see if Fed plays till he’s 40 like MJ.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 10, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    Dan, the Patrick McEnroe story had zero influence on this US Open. It’s a sidebar story at best.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 10, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    Again, I say the biggest story of this Open was the unexpected mens final. Just looked back at all the US Open champions from the last fifty years and all of the champions are big name marquee players. Cilic has got to be the least popular, least famous name to win the Open since perhaps the unseeded Fred Stolle in ’66. BTW Stolle defeated Newcombe in four sets. Seriously, look back at all the big names who have won the Open since the mid 60s. All BIG names. This Cilic vs. Kei final was a major anomaly.

  • Dan Markowitz · September 10, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    It was a big anomaly and a surprise, but the match was underwhelming. After watching that match I longed for one of the Big 4 to be in the finals. If Kei had made it close it would’ve been a great finals, but as it was it was like a Johnny Mac-Chris Lewis Wimby finals.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 10, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    Fed Nadal and Djokovic also had some underwhelming finals in majors, so did most all of the great champions, Graf, Seles, McEnroe, that’s tennis. Some super fights in boxing turn out to be duds. Ditto some Super Bowls. Im sure the Aussie Open will give us some great matches.

  • Mike · September 11, 2014 at 12:46 am

    Dan, first I wrote a long-winded answer. But I’ll give you the short. I tend to do it if I can. Some years I can and some not. Will I go next year. I’ll have to shake the 8 ball.

    As to why anyone has a passion for anything you need to ask a shrink or read philosophy. I was always more curious as to why some people have no passion for anything. If pressed I suppose it goes way back because, yes, I played heavily as a kid. Junior development, USTA tourney’s — the whole nine yards. This is what the USTA needs to do. Try to get kids into tennis while they are young.

    I still say the story is the crappy pastrami. Though the disappearance after a few days of the Grilled Cheese Truck near court 17 (while completely incongruous it served a pretty decent sandwich) is up there.

  • Mike · September 11, 2014 at 12:52 am

    “Cilic has got to be the least popular, least famous name to win the Open since perhaps the unseeded Fred Stolle in ’66”

    I looked up the list of past winners and I agree. I wonder what the pre-tourney odds on Cilic was. Probably 50-1.

  • Dan Markowitz · September 11, 2014 at 6:16 am

    Grilled cheese truck, wow, completely missed that one. Something fishy about Cilic. The guy won only 250’s before this slam win, and 4 of his titles came in his home country at Zagreb event. Never even semi-ed at a Masters event, the best he’d ever done at a slam was semi-ed in 2010 Aussie Open when he beat back to back Delpo and Roddick.

    He was coming on this year losing in 5 at Wimby quarters to Djoko and 4 to Djoko at RG in Rd of 16, but where he got that extra gear at the USO is a bit mystifying. This is a guy who’d never beaten Simon until this Open.

    Mike, I’m glad you enjoy the Open so much. There must be others like you, but to stay for even junior and wheelchair matches after long days is admirable. I know you like to take photos and that must stoke your interest, too. I just feel after one long day at the Open that I’m zonkered. I walk around a lot. And to tell you the truth, I think I liked the Open more when there were more good American players and there was a greater variety of play.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 11, 2014 at 8:20 am

    Iron Mike is the ultimate tennis photographer/fan/observer, he outlasts them all no one even comes close to matching his longevity at every Open.

  • Dan Markowitz · September 11, 2014 at 8:42 am

    What do you think about Chris Mayotte’s proposal? I like it. I think the USTA shouldn’t try to bring in the players, but instead allocate money to coaches, clubs, small academies (isn’t every club now calling themselves academies these days?) that have shown prior success.

  • Andrew Miller · September 11, 2014 at 9:33 am

    Follow Wayne Bryan and Mayotte. Obviously on the same page. Wayne Bryan’s meritocracy first letter to PMAC changed U.S. tennis – he is clearly brilliant (if not a little too nationalistic).

    – Bryan IS right on doubles
    – Bryan IS right on coaching
    – Bryan IS right on college (Johnny Mac even adopted this and so did PMAC with the college invitational at the US Open!)
    – Mayotte IS right on technique
    – McEnroe (Pat) was right on using Davis Cup to motivate a new generation of U.S. players
    – Courier was right to talk to the U.S. players and be honest with all of them on what they needed to do. Pat Mac made davis cup important to the U.S. players and they really responded.

    So right there – add to that the former pros (look how valuable Chang has been to Nishikori!) and there you have it. You have the right ideas to make sure U.S. tennis moves in forward the right way.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 11, 2014 at 9:42 am

    I think you have to get a guy like Tim Mayotte in the mix. I think guys like Vince Spadea and Luke Jensen have a lot to offer too.

  • Dan Markowitz · September 11, 2014 at 11:57 am

  • Andrew Miller · September 11, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    Bashing PMAC just makes no sense. He was a leader and he made mistakes and began correcting them. I think he even did it in Davis Cup to some extent – his biggest issue and I think this came through in his letter to Wayne Bryan was his pride – that was a problem. But look at the USTA since the letter, he adopted tons of Wayne Bryan’s ideas and arguably the USTA is better for it. It is much more merit based especially in how it rewards the wildcards – I have no doubt that players were complaining about rewarding the cards based on ranking (example: “but I am better on clay or hardcourts or I was sick a month ago” etc). So now it’s based on tournament performance or performance in a string of tournaments – that is the most fair system possible. It’s based on “what have you done for me lately?” and not “who is popular”.

    There was one exception and I think that was giving Harrison a wildcard for the US Open and then pairing him with Dimitrov. For whatever reason, this one was a real “head scratcher” as it’s been said before on the internet – I thought maybe his sports agent told US Open they had to take Harrison (and if Harrison does what his agent tells him or if Harrison orders his agent to do that, no matter what the buck stops at Harrison). It was a bad choice from every party involved, and Dimitrov sent him packing right quick.

    The blog Tennis Nerds did a really interesting wildcard analysis and basically said this: you can’t even count Kudla and Klahn with Sock and Harrison (or DY from the past, not today’s DY) because KUDLA AND KLAHN GOT ALMOST ZERO WILDCARDS. And then they come down very hard on some players for believing they should play tour level when really they needed to rework their games.

    http://tennisnerds.com/tag/ryan-harrison/

    Harrison comes in for huge criticism for going into an Aptos match in 2013 believing he should be playing the tour instead of James McGee. What took place is obnoxious enough but I’ll boil it down anyways before giving the full spiel. McGee is a gentleman and Harrison acts very entitled. As it is even given the age difference one of them is moving up in the tennis world and the other is moving quickly towards rock bottom.

    http://norcaltennisczar.blogspot.com/2013/08/irish-eyes-are-smiling-mcgee-rallies-to.html

    So – I think it’s important to be careful here. With Sock he’s improved hugely from the beginning of the year. Klahn has fallen flat and he’ll have to account for it. Kudla was sick with mononucleosis and we know how that works, you just dont come back swinging. And Johnson’s had a career year.

    Are they winning tournaments, even non Masters, non slams? NO. But each player with the exception of Harrison is better. We should give Kudla a pass for being knocked out by a real illness.

    But it isn’t PMACs fault. He isn’t playing their matches. And for the most part these players with the exception of Harrison are earning their keep. I think Harrison will make a comeback when he squares up with the fact that nothing will be given to him anymore and he deserves the first round losses he has been getting. We’ve know about his inability to handle his temper for years. I’ll give Stathovsky the last say on Harrison for now – and I think Wilander is right that Harrison can be better, a lot better, by improving.

    – How then to explain the fact that in the last five years, the U.S. does not have a really successful younger generation? Harrison, Sock, Young – all well and good, of course, but they’ve been around for more than a year, and just like before, still no results.

    – It’s simple: if you drive through the colleges, you will see that only a small number of scholarships go to the Americans. There are a huge number of visitors, a mass of immigrants from Europe, including those of our part of the world. These are people who are willing to work really hard.

    – It turns out that the Americans, with their own hands, train tennis players for other countries.

    – It does. Then there is another point. I played with Harrison, I think, in the 2010 US Open, and even then said: the guy has yet a lot to work on, don’t hype him, because that’s how you ‘buried’ many of your juniors, making a star out of them before they’ve become one. The American federation, USTA, earns a fortune, and this results in such a luxurious environment that is, in a sense, even to their detriment. Young players are getting huge media support, but they have not yet reached those heights where it’s indeed justified. On the one hand, I understand why the USTA is doing that – they need American players, so they can market them, to attract viewers to local tournaments, so that they could support their local players. On the other hand, to go too far in this matter is also wrong,

    http://www.letsecondserve.com/2013/08/sergiy-stakhovsky-after-wimbledon-they.html

    McGee behaved impeccably throughout the match. But Harrison, who was not available for comment, was out of sorts from the start. His attitude seemed to be, “This tournament is beneath me.”
    After a line call against Harrison in the second game of the first set on Tuesday, he loudly admonished Bell, “Do you realize the players have all been saying, ‘Watch out for the line calls’? Second game … ”
    After losing a point for 0-40 on his serve in the first game of the second set, Harrison smashed his racket on the court and received a warning for racket abuse. He then calmed down, holding serve in that game, until McGee rallied on Wednesday.
    At that stage, Harrison swore several times after points while the crowd cheered so Bell couldn’t hear him. Late in the match, Harrison muttered, “This mother—–r can’t play tennis to save his life.”
    When a fan took her seat in between points, Harrison condescendingly told Bell: “You might not know this, but that’s unprofessional. This is a professional tournament.”
    Said Gullikson: “It’s always hard to be in the major leagues and then come down a level. He played this event to get some good matches and get ready for the U.S. Open (in 2 1/2 weeks).”
    McGee graciously defended Harrison.
    “He’s intense, like me,” McGee said. “A lot of players are very intense. He’s a great competitor, a great fighter. If you had to describe him, you’d say he’s got a lot of fire, maybe a bit too much fire at times.
    “I understand when guys might lose the head or do something they shouldn’t because I’ve been there as well. Off the court, he’s just a normal guy.”
    Gullikson diplomatically said Harrison “has had a problem a little bit with his temper in the past. That’s something that he needs to manage.”

    http://norcaltennisczar.blogspot.com/2013/08/irish-eyes-are-smiling-mcgee-rallies-to.html

  • Andrew Miller · September 11, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    Take each case individually. We cant compare Kudla and Sock because Kudla has had mononucleosis, which means he can hardly play a match. Ask Dr. Gusta!

    June 2014:
    “American Denis Kudla is the latest player to announce that he is suffering from the virus, adding his name to a list which includes former world no. 5 Robin Soderling, Croatian Mario Ancic and British woman Heather Watson.”

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 11, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    Fed had mono when he lost that match at Australian Open, supposedly, but before that loss he beat Santoro in straight sets. Why didn’t the mono kick in during the Santoro match. Assume it kicked in precisely during the next match when he lost. Soderling blitzed through his final ATP tournament easily, then got “mono” and hasn’t played a pro match ever since. Can you sense I’m a tad bit suspicious when players play the “mono” card?

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 11, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    Andrew, very informative long post. I don’t think even if you installed Lendl, Goran and Michael Chang as tri-heads of USTA Junior Development, that that will result in spectacular results in the next two years. You can take the donkey to the water trough but you can’t force him to drink if he doesn’t know how. It’s a long process. The athletes have to be accountable. Got to get rid of the sense of entitlement. Harrison is ranked close to 200 now. He might even have to play the Futures circuit.

  • Dan Markowitz · September 11, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    How about the fact that the USTA hasn’t developed a single black player from the inner city? Does that fall on PMac’s head? Why can’t the USTA bring a player along from the inner city? They’ve got the money and the facilities. I don’t want to sound like William Washington here, but I was involved with the Reebok Academy about 20 years ago out at the US Open and there were inner city kids with talent who wanted to play tennis and they turned into players. But I haven’t seen an inner city black kid excel in the sport in more than 20 years and that’s on the USTA’s head.

    We used to have Ashe and Hooper and Washington, Shelton, Todd Nelson and Harmon. The USTA should have developed even more black players in the past 20 years, but they haven’t. With the exception of Townsend who I don’t think comes from money, all the black female players like Keys and Stephens come from middle class families. The Williams sisters were not USTA products.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 11, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    Tim Neilly. Scoville Jenkins. Steve Campbell. Philip Simmonds. Levar Harper Griffith. Mashiska Washington. Jarmere Jenkins. Donald Young. There have been plenty of black players in pro tennis in recent years. Tough sport for anybody to make it in Dan. Again, maybe it’s the athletes who don’t have what it takes. Not fair to blame USTA for everything.

  • Andrew Miller · September 11, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    No doubt Dan. Used to teach summers right in the middle of it, saw students with talent (like anywhere, some kids had talent, some had no interest/talent/what not). But our program wasn’t a feeder, it was just a summer program. Not surprisingly our instruction was p— poor with no guidance from anyone. The heads of the local clubs – you are not going to believe this – the city wanted US to replace them, get them out of the city’s facilities and deploy an armada of instructors who had no clue about tennis (again, I knew more than the majority of the instructors and that is bad news for a 15 year old – ME knowing more than them…bad).

    This wasn’t USTA at all – this was what USTA could have improved, given it was so awful. So you tell me what’s more important…running a lot of kids around a court so you can get credit for running them around, or actually involving a real entity like USTA (or even involving local pros!).

    All I can say is, this was no way to teach tennis. Even expose kids to tennis. Sometimes (awful) the head of the tennis clinic would just hit with ME while the kids, like 40-50 of them, were asked to just stand on the baseline quietly. How boring is that – you don’t even get a chance to do anything and now someone you didn’t like before is forcing you to watch while we, the pros (right!) hit around? Joke. A huge joke.

    There you have it. Never involved local pros. Never involved the USTA, just thought the point is to have kids run around (even from a safety, even liability! perspective this was stupid). Almost went behind the backs of the local pros. If we had ever looked for an evaluation I can tell you now we’d have gotten an “F”. No surprise most kids went for football when they did look to do a sport…this in the heart of a tennis mecca.

    All this involved was raising some money, having a vision, and working harder. Lucky people made it out alive!

  • Mike · September 12, 2014 at 12:27 am

    Dan, the Quad Wheelchair finals was, perhaps surprisingly, quite compelling to watch.

    It also had a decent crowed owing, in part, I will guess because Serena’s blowout ended relatively early and there were only two things going on – old lady tennis or Quad wheelchair.

    And I’m telling you these two guys were killing themselves in a manner that I would require Jack Sock-Puppet to observe with the admonition, “this is what you need to give on the court if you want to make it on the ATP tour.”

    I realize it’s not everyone’s cup of tea especially after a long day. And, yes, it happened to be occurring at the time of day when the light falling on ct 7 is something I like to try to photography. I will post some shots of it and you can check them out if you desire.

    Did you check out the college players at all ? That was new this year and I asked the guy that seems to run the juniors each year and now in charge of the college and he said he didn’t know if they would do it again next year or not. I’m not sure it really fits in at the USO but it must be cool for the college kids (and their family/friends) to play there.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 12, 2014 at 7:13 am

    Would like to see your best photos Mike.

  • loreley · September 13, 2014 at 2:17 am

  • Dan Markowitz · September 13, 2014 at 7:20 am

    Ooh, Lorely, that photo of the crowd in Chicago for the start of the USA-Slovakia Davis Cup tie is sad and a bit shocking. I heard that this was the first tie in the states where the USTA actually bought the site for the venue this weekend, rather than have sites bid to host the tie. But when your marquee match is Qball v Klizan, 20 people attending is about right.

    The finals of France and Switzerland should be must-see tv. Possibly a rematch I’d think of Monfils-Federer.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 13, 2014 at 7:43 am

    Saw that Davis Cup photo in Chicago too. The Sarasota Challenger had bigger crowds every day. Chicago is in tough times right now, like Detroit, and it’s a bad week (NFL second week and week after US Open) and Isner and Q Ball are not ticket sellers. Not really a surprise this tie is so sparsely attended. How about Spain level at one with Bellucci coming back from two sets down to beat Andujar. Spain could get relegated. I was told by a Brazilian at the Open that Bellucci is very talented but the question is his physical fitness which causes his head to go. But this win disproves it. Career win for Big T and Brazil, who should win the doubles with Melo/Soares. And Dude Sela did it again, with another big singles win to tie Argentina at one each. Sela is a Davis Cup titan.

  • Dan Markowitz · September 13, 2014 at 10:56 am

    Wait a second, Scoop, to compare Chicago to Detroit is absurd. Detroit is a gutted city and Chicago is a thriving one. There’s money in Chicago.

    Also, beating Andujar is a career win for Bellucci!? If that’s the case, Bellucci is really in trouble.

    If Chicago doesn’t support DC, bring it to a city that will. Maybe Los Angeles. These events should be played outside as much as possible. It was cool to see the French tie with the Czechs at Roland Garros.

    Lastly, Berdych got routined by Gasquet. If Berdy thinks having Lendl be his coach will lead to him winning a slam, he’s got another thing coming.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 13, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    Monster win by Gasquet to manhandle Berd like that. Chicago I hear is going the direction of Detroit though is hasn’t got very bad yet. Detroit is done. I think for Bellucci to beat Andujar in Spain from two sets down is a big win. Andujar was the guy who drubbed Sock at the US Open. Saw him play F Lo to five sets a few years ago. Solid tough feisty smart player. Big win for Bellucci. This kind of win should jump start his career which has been a struggle the last two years.

  • Bryan · September 14, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    This was the most forgettable US Open in recent memory. Both the men and women finals were boring and uncompetitive. A shame the B sides to those matches didn’t even fight, like they were happy to just make the finals.

    To me the most memorable event was CiCi Bellis’ first round win over Cibulkova, and her 2nd round match was a three setter with lots of passion from the crowd. Otherwise the Monfils vs Federer match was great, except the epic choke form Monfils.

    PMac’s firing was a sidebar type story to the US Open overall, but USTA had to make it part of the the US Open narrative because he helmed a decade of atrocious mediocrity. This way the info gets out to the public that a new era is supposed to start.

  • Bryan · September 14, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    “Something fishy about Cilic. The guy won only 250′s before this slam win, and 4 of his titles came in his home country at Zagreb event… where he got that extra gear at the USO is a bit mystifying.

    Cilic sat out a PED suspension last yera so he deserves whatever suspicions arise. The mainstream tennis media barely touched upon the fact he tested positive in 2013 and a year later won the US Open looking stronger than ever. Nor did they ask whether any of the US Open finalists had been tested for PEDs during the tournament. A bunch of sheep.

  • Dan Markowitz · September 15, 2014 at 8:02 am

    Granted, Cilic’s PED past should have been brought up more by the media. I wasn’t in the press conference after the finals, but it’s a touchy subject as a journalist to bring up this subject with everyone beaming over Cilic’s win.

    But, yes, I’d like a little more info on just how you get a glucose overload in your system and how this could have developed.

    Look, Cilic had trouble beating Simon in the Rd of 16. No one thought he’d be able to go through quarters, semis and finals without a single loss.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 15, 2014 at 9:00 am

    Simon is always a tough out, he’s challenged Rafa Fed and Djokovic on many occasions, beaten them too. So to survive Simon in five sets was a big win for Cilic. Simon is an underrated player. You look at him and don’t think he’s much, but look at his career overall. Excellent player.

  • Dan Markowitz · September 15, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    Can’t call Simon a “great player.” Furthest he’s ever gone in a slam? Quarters, once in Australia. You know who also only once got to a slam quarters in Australia? Can’t call either one a great player.

  • Bryan · September 15, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    Simon is strictly a defensive pusher. He outlasts some guys who start spraying errors when they’re trying to hit winners to finish him off. He beats the inconsistent players but anyone in the top 10-15 should put him to sleep.

    When players suddenly emerge to get great results out of nowhere in today’s PED world it’s always cause for concern. When that player has a history of PEDs it’s all the more so. The same applies to other players with such histories even if they haven’t tested positive. I’m thinking of Errani, who a few years ago wasn’t top 40 but used Lance Armstrong’s doctor and suddenly became a regular top 10.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 16, 2014 at 9:28 am

    I think to call Simon a “defensive pusher” is unfair and inaccurate. A mere defensive pusher could not win numerous ATP singles titles or hold wins over the Big Four. The foundation of Simon’s game is consistency, yes, but he also has other dimensions and he can smack winners when he wants to. He also has guile and craftiness. I spoke with him for my Facing Rafa book. He said he had one match where he smacked about 40 winners vs. Rafa on clay. He also has a 4-0 career head to head record vs. Hewitt. Simon is a lot more than just a “defensive pusher.” I believe he is a great player who had the misfortune to come along during the hardest era in tennis history.

  • Dan Markowitz · September 16, 2014 at 10:20 am

    Hewitt has not been a top player for a long time. Simon’s record against Hewitt is not important. Scoop, the guy has reached only one slam quarters in his career. He’s turning 30 this December. Spadea had basically the same slam record except Spadea beat 4 Top 10 players in slams, Kraijcek, Kafelnikov, Schuettler and Agassi.

    How many do you think Simon has beaten in slams? Two, that’s it. Ferrer this year when something was wrong with Ferrer and Mardy Fish at the French when Fish was ranked No. 10. Everyone knows except PMac that Fish didn’t play well on clay.

    So can you call someone a great player when they’ve only reached one slam quarters and only beaten two Top 10 players in slams? No, you can’t.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 16, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    Simon has an undefeated record vs. Hewitt, Spadea never beat Hewitt. 🙂 I see Simon as a great player. For a guy his size and bulk, or should I say lacktherof, to be such a successful player, in this era of physicality is remarkable. Simon has beaten a prime Rafa and also beat prime Fed the first two times he played Fed. Eleven career singles titles. Made the SF of World Tour Finals. These are marks of a “great player.” Also, Simon was controversially benched in the Davis final match vs. Serbia, the captain Forget I think it was opted to play Llodra vs. Troicki, eventhough Simon had a career 4-0 record vs. Troicki. Serbia powered by Troicki’s 3 set win vs. Llodra won the Davis Cup for the first time.

  • Andrew Miller · September 16, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    Simon played a few tournaments as an “awesome”, even “top five” player (for those tournaments) – he seemed almost like the 2nd coming of David Nalbandian, but he is not a “great player” in terms of “great accomplishments”. And he isn’t a great player even when measured against Nalbandian, or his French compatriots, none of which are slam champs. He is certainly a talented player who has been playing excellent ball lately. Now, compared to me, he is an amazing player. But compared to his contemporaries or today’s top ten, Simon is “a tricky player” who “has his moments” but “isn’t producing great results on a consistent basis”.

    In other words, Simon isn’t doping (ha!)

    To be a great player you must hit the hard stuff.

    That was a joke.

  • Andrew Miller · September 16, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    11 tournaments is pretty solid, but not a Masters among them. Now compare that with Rios – and you can say Rios is a great player, while Simon is merely very good in comparison.

  • Andrew Miller · September 16, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    And Fish won tournaments on all surfaces – as has Querrey and I think Isner? Lately the story isn’t that U.S. players can’t play on clay courts, the story is that they can’t play at all!

    (And that is more of a story really – they CAN play).

  • Bryan · September 21, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    True, Isner has won on all surfaces. Guys presume he’s just good on hard courts but he won the US Claycourt Championships in 2013 and the Hall of Fame tournament on grass, I believe it was in 2012.

    If that dude would just learn to return he’d be crushing it. For some reason he won’t gamble and attack guys second serve, even though he loses most games when he’s not serving anyhow.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 22, 2014 at 8:50 am

    Bryan, you can’t just magically create a great return. Returning well off tough serves is very very hard. Rafa has a good return but I’ve never seen him return and charge the net off the return he stays back. It means he can’t learn this. Other players can’t learn a big serve. Many pro players have flaws in their overall games. Isner’s return is his flaw, it’s not bad but it’s not a weapon.

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