After the Tsunami
Howdy. Most of the news today came out of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic (Washington), where they've experienced a severe tropical storm and tsumani that last night washed away nearly an entire generation of U.S. players. If you want to check out my thoughts on that, go over to the ESPN tennis home page, my post should be up shortly.
—Andy Roddick's case is particularly interesting. He's down to No. 9 now, and it's pretty clear that he's struggling to keep his place in the tennis elite. If you graph Roddick's results through his career, you get a pattern of surge and decline. Nobody has so consistently and intelligently re-invented himself in his ongoing quest to remain in the hunt at the top, nor found the slope so slippery. But I give him great credit for repeatedly coming up with ways to catch a new puff of wind. This is one guy who won't retire and be haunted by "what ifs?"
At 27, Roddick is nowhere near the end of his career. But you have to wonder if there's any more progress to be made by this seasoned, salty competitor who defined himself for a decade now as a work-in-progress. What can anyone bring to the table that hasn't already been supplied by his succession of coaches, starting with Tarik Benhabiles and ending (thus far) with Larry Stefanki? I come up blank when I ask myself that question, but who knows. . .
My feeling is that Roddick is at that stage where he just needs to keep the faith, stay in absolute top shape, pick his spots, and make the most of any opportunity that presents itself. It's a watching and waiting game for him now, and I still believe that he's got the competitive character to make the most of any chance that comes his way at any major but the French Open.
Sure, it would help to roll into Flushing Meadows with a final or semi from Toronto or Cincinnati under his belt, and he's more than capable of achieving that. But even if he has a mediocre hard-court season, I think he can still be a force at the U.S. Open—as long as he believes it himself. I see certain parallels between Roddick and Roger Federer in that regard, although Federer is undergoing the process on a different, higher level. The Mighty Fed hasn't had to expend all his energy and options to keep his position at or near the very top (the new bullet in his gun is Paul Annacone). It's always helpful to a player when he's got something new and promising to try.
—You saw that Coco Vandeweghe upset Wimbledon singles and doubles finalist Vera Zvonareva at the Mercury Insurance Open (San Diego). This is the first tournament Zvonareva has played since her terrific Wimbledon, but I'm left wondering if Zvonareva is feeling as good as she ought to about her Wimbledon feats. If I'm not mistaken, this thoughtful, emotional young lady cried as she saw the doubles title slip away the day after she lost the singles final to Serena Williams. This tells you something about Zvonareva, who's always seemed happy to see a glass half-empty when she could just as soon see it half full.
I can see how Zvonareva might feel a little bitter, a little hollow inside after coming so close only to falter at the final hurdle at the two main Wimbledon events. Maybe she's feeling like a failure, or that she got screwed over at Wimbledon. And that kind of negativity is always poisonous. Zvonareva will feel greater pressure now to build on what she achieved at Wimbledon, and she's never handled expectations especially well. Somebody needs to sit her down and convince her that Wimbledon wasn't the end of something, and the end of Wimbledon wasn't a final grade. There's no better quality in a tennis player than toughness, and the ability to see the positive side of every experience.
—After losing to Alisa Kleybanova, Jelena Jankovic floated the idea that her ankle, sore since she turned it in the Portoroz tournament, isn't entirely healed. As a result, she said she may not be able to defend her title in Cincinnati. Kleybanova, though, was among those who weren't buying the injury excuse. "She was actually moving pretty well today," she reportedly said of Jankovic.
I'm not buying the excuse either. Jankovic just needs a little drama in her life, which is fine by me because it makes our lives more fun. I say she shows up to defend in Cincy.
—I had to smile when I received an email with the subject line, U.S. Open Bigger and Greener. Turns out the "green" reference is to U.S. Open sponsor Esurance handing out free Metrocards (good for NYC subway and bus) to fans, to encourage public transportation. I guess that's green, but forgive me for wondering how exactly this is going to work. It seems to me that nobody in New Jersey or Connecticut, accustomed to driving to the tournament, can make good use of a Metrocard, while those who are staying in the NYC are already obliged to use the public transport system. It's a nice giveaway, but not likely to have much "green" effect.
BTW, did you know that when it comes to land requirements for energy production, the two most consumptive methods are biofuels (which require—by far—the most land) and wind farms? There's been a well-informed backlash against biofuels and, more recently, wind farms.
It will take 128,002 square miles (an area about the size of West Virginia) to meet the federal government's stated aim of producing 20 per cent of U.S. energy from wind, and that's not counting the 20,000 new miles of high-voltage transmission lines that will required to get the electricity from windswept places to cities. Nor the lawsuits that will be filed over the degradation wind farms wreak on the environment. Even outfits like the Nature Conservancy are beginning to experience a touch of buyer's remorse when it comes to wind power.
It's tempting to slap the "green" label on any enterprise these days, but as always the principle of caveat emptor applies.
Jackie-Oh will be around later with a new Deuce Club. Enjoy the weekend, everyone.