The tennis season is over, but that doesn’t mean the beast—i.e., the media beast—is ready to be put to sleep. Here’s a look at what the many-headed creature has been digging up and spouting out recently.
London’s Daily Mail has an exclusive:
MURRAY’S MUM JUDY LINED UP FOR NEW ROLE AS BRITAIN’S FED CUP CAPTAIN
To which the world responds: Britain has a Fed Cup team? Even the Mail feels the need to explain; the paper refers to the competition as the “female equivalent of the Davis Cup.” Judy will also “take a wider role in helping develop the youngsters who are promising a brighter future for the British game.”
To which the world responds: Britain has promising youngsters? Actually, in all fairness, it does, including Laura Robson and the U.S. Open boys’ champ, Oliver Golding.
—The Mail also has an article by John McEnroe, who was in town for a senior event, about the current Top 4 men:
WHY I THINK 2012 WILL BE A CRACKER (clearly an exact quote)
Mac on Murray: He thinks the volatile Scot could use a coach to get him over the hump, the way Tony Roche helped get Ivan Lendl get past Johnny Mac himself in 1985. But McEnroe also makes the valid point that whomever he hires, Murray can’t start screaming at him and telling him he's fired during matches. In other words, it could be a while before we see anyone new in Andy's corner.
On Federer: Mac marvels at Federer’s Connors-esque ability to compartmentalize, to keep his family life and professional life separate and to shrug off defeats and setbacks. But he’s not sold on his Aussie Open chances, reminding us that it’s hot down there, and it’s best of five.
On Djokovic: “He’s the favorite for Australia," Mac says, "but if he retired at two sets to one down in the quarterfinals because he couldn’t breathe that also wouldn’t shock me.”
“After my best year  maybe I didn’t realize how much energy I’d expended. If you’ve had a dominant year, there’s a tendency to think: ‘Why do I need to improve.’ I made the mistake of sitting on what I’d accomplished and not working on new things."
—Finally, in a bittersweet piece of news, the Mail notes that Tim Henman, by winning the aforementioned Aegon senior event at the Royal Albert Hall, “won his first title of any kind in London.” Did you have to put it just like that?
The Daily Mirror also chats with McEnroe, and it puts his advice to the country’s No. 1 this way:
SUPER BRAT JOHN MCENROE HAS TOLD ANDY MURRAY TO DITCH THE TANTRUMS
Does McEnroe even consider himself a sort of superhero in London, a Clark Kent character with a secret identity called Super Brat?
Last week, the New York Times’ Chris Clarey had one of his periodic talks with Roger Federer about the state of Roger Federer. Outlook: positive. Federer, on vacation at an “undisclosed resort,” says he’s not surprised by his continued strong play, because he never expected to “fade way” and lose his love for the game in the first place. In fact, he can't believe how quickly it's all gone. Federer describes turning to his wife the other day and saying, “I can’t believe I was just in my 100th final, and this is my 70th title.” Unfortunately, we don't get Mirka’s response.
Federer has rehired Paul Annacone for next year, and will likely play Davis Cup against the U.S. in March. He met with Rafael Nadal recently to iron out some differences, primarily about the next ATP CEO. Federer, rightly in my opinion, wants someone with a business background; Nadal, the Flushing Meadows insurgent, wants ex-player Richard Krajicek to take over.
Back across the Atlantic, London’s Sun tabloid gets its own, more concise quote from the great man about how he feels going into the new year:
"I AM WELL FED 'N RARING TO GO: Federer can’t wait for 2012 and the chance to win a 17th Grand Slam title"
Roger Federer has always been a confident person, but that doesn’t sound exactly like him, does it? Here’s the full quote: “I played great here [in London] and it gives me a lot of confidence. But regardless of how it went, I’d have been in a good state of mind for 2012.”
No mention of food, but the “raring” part seems about right. One out of two isn't bad on the headline-accuracy scale.
At SI.com, Jon Wertheim embeds a video of Caroline Wozniacki imitating Serena Williams at a recent exhibition in Bratislava. Jon seems to say that Wozniacki received “written clearance” from Serena to do it, though I’m not sure. Harmless fun, or clueless lampooning? A little of both, though it does get points for the, “Um, I can’t believe she’s actually doing this” element. Wozniacki still wants us to know that she's not boring; she'd be better off putting more of her exciting side into her game instead.
Also at SI.com, Bruce Jenkins makes a connection between Federer’s post-U.S. Open 17-0 run and Pete Sampras's tear through Europe in late 1998 in a successful bid to finish No. 1 for a record sixth straight season. In both cases, while many people claimed that the end of the year didn't matter, these aging champs showed their hunger and pride by going all out the whole way.
Watching Federer the last two years in London has also reminded me of late-career Sampras. At the season-ender in 1999, Andre Agassi had wrapped up the No. 1 ranking (he had won the U.S. Open after Sampras withdrew with an injury), but Sampras still served up a reminder of what he could do by beating Andre convincingly in the final of the World Championships.
At the Oregonian’s website, Douglas Perry takes a long, photographic look back at Chris Evert in the 70s. He says that her reputation has slipped somewhat at the expense of Martina Navratilova’s, and that seems right. We don’t hear a lot about Chrissie’s achievements, as singular as they were. These pics will remind you of at least one thing about the Little Ice Woman in her heyday: She was photographed a lot.
Finally, for all of you fellow cultists of Italian women's tennis, SI.com’s Courtney Nguyen links to another recent WTA dance homage: Frankie and Flavia trying out their best Jacko moves to “Beat It.”
It's that time of year again.