Reading the Readers: Babbling On

Thursday, September 17, 2009 /by

Sw It’s nice to get responses, even when you don’t have time to get through them all. Still, I saw enough today to get the gist. Let me respond to a few comments and add a couple thoughts to the Serena situation before we “move on.”

—From Weekend Warrior: “Didn’t you have a post the day after Serena’s tirade saying that the linesperson should not have inserted herself into that semis match? It seems to have conveniently disappeared.”

Wasn’t me. That’s the linesperson’s job, as long as she’s sure of what she's doing. If it was a mistake, it wasn’t because it came at an inconvenient time for one of the players.

I’ll also take this opportunity to add something I neglected to put in my first post on the subject. The common line, as laid down by John McEnroe, has been “you can’t make that call at that point in the match.” McEnroe shifts the decision and the blame to the official and away from the player. But players have responsibilities, too, the most basic of which is learning to serve without foot-faulting. The real rule of thumb that should be followed in this situation is:

You can't allow yourself to be called for a foot-fault at that point in a match.

As for the triviality of the rule, if you’ve ever played a serve-and-volleyer who foot faults, you know it makes a difference in how quickly that person gets to the net. Should only serve-and-volleyers be called for them?

—From a: “Why no mention of r-fed using the f-word? Why only hang Serena?"

I didn’t hear Federer curse (he said s---, right?) at the time, because I was in the stadium—you really do see more on TV in a lot of ways. He was fined, and it would have been acceptable for him to be warned on the court. And if he’d raised his racquet and shouted the same words that Serena used at a line judge, I’d hope he would have been defaulted immediately. There are words, and then there’s the way you use them.

—From Richie: “It seemed like an overly long Open.”

You’re right, it really did seem to go on longer than usual this year. In the end, I thought it was a great one. I sat in Federer’s presser after his loss and it dawned on me what a ridiculously dramatic Slam season the guy has had. Cries after a five-set loss to Nadal in Oz; wins the French for the first time to complete career Slam; wins a 16-14 fifth set over Roddick for 15th major; and finishes with another five-set loss to del Potro in New York. How much emotion can you pack into a year on the job?

—From Red: “Hey Steve, what grade would give yourself for your predictions this tournament?”

An F. This was the worst tournament I can remember.

But really, are people bothered if I get a prediction wrong? I usually hate it more when someone else is right. I do them for fun and as a way to preview the event; the point is to make them interesting or even a little outrageous, as much as it is to be correct. It’s a sportswriter’s axiom that you’re not allowed to always go “chalk.” I did nearly go with DP before this one, but opted for Murray. So what?

—From siggy, a few posts ago: “Steve, what did you study in college, and where, if you don’t mind me asking, did you matriculate?”

I was an English major at Swarthmore College, near Philadelphia. But I learned as much from reading old issues of Rolling Stone and out-of-print Pauline Kael books in the school library as I did from anything in my classes.

—From abbey: "My favorite was about del Potro's player box as the repeated hugs captured my attention, too. The way you wrote about, actually made me tear up."

I have to take a moment to say thank you for that. I wouldn't want to write anything about tennis if I didn't think I could make people feel an emotional connection to it.

—From Penny: “Steve Tignor has no idea what he’s talking about. Babbling fool.”

That’s a good name for a blog: babblingfool.com

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Will be back soon with a Jack Kramer tribute. Thanks for the comments.

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