WIMBLEDON, England—Good mornin', everyone. I took a quick look at your comments this morning and noticed that quite a few people took exception to my suggestion that Andy Murray tapped into a use of the phrase, "common, self-sabotaging British sense of fundamental unworthiness." I didn't feel that, given the context and the recent history of British tennis, I would be accused of hurling a vile slur at an entire peoples, but there you go. I sometimes forget how literally some read, how important it is to be as clear as possible (although in this specific case I plead innocent), and also how quick some are to take offense.
Besides, the idea that I would hold such a simplistic and condescending stereotype is a little disappointing, but you learn to roll with things like that when you write in a forum like this. Over time, I've come to embrace this truism: The more secure you are, the less apt you will be snap into a defensive posture. I am sometimes dismayed by the number of ROTs (Rapid Offense Takers) there are out there, but maybe the anonymity of the Internet encourages that. This dovetails a little bit with a topic from the other day, the "quality" of the questions asked by the press (it was triggered by my Miss Impatience post).
Like this website, the media center is filled with an amazing variety of people, not all of them brilliant, not all of them cynics, not all of them dewy-eyed fans nor serviceable amateur psychologists. Now if you read the comments here at TW at all, I'm sure you run across plenty that make you wince, or marvel at how (fill in the blank with: stupid, arrogant, aggressive, conceited, bigoted, or just plain stupid) some of your fellow travelers are. It's the same in the media. Not everyone laboring in these trenches is as perceptive as a Steve Tignor, as knowledgeable as a Tom Perrotta, or as diplomatic as a Chris Clarey.
There's more to this issue, and it will be worth a full post one day (for example, some of the most interesting things said in a presser are often in response to really off the wall or irritating questions). But we have a couple of women's semifinals to look at, so here goes:
Match most likely to short-circuit the electronic scoreboard: Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (is there a Spanish player out there with, perhaps, a string of five names?) vs. Flavia Pennetta and Francesca Schiavone. Why am I writing about doubles, except to try to get a cheap laugh? Because of the Olympic Games coming up—and because the color of the gold medal is the same in singles as in doubles—so the doubles competition here is both more intense and meaningful than is sometimes the case. And the pairings are suddenly heavily skewed to national teams. To that end, this is like a giant Fed Cup/Davis Cup tournament.
Also: Starting today, all the marquee main-draw singles matches will be on Centre Court, yet Wimbledon thinks nothing of selling No. 1 Court tickets, and those seated there seem not to mind the all-doubles menu. First on today, No. 2-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan meet Scott Lipsky and Rajeev Ram. The third doubles features Kazakhs Mikhail Kukushkin and Yaroslava Shvedova against Paul Hanley of Australia and Alla Kurdyavtseva of Russia. I guess neither of them have been nominated for Olympics duty.
Match of the day: Undoubtedly, it's No. 6 seed Serena Williams' clash with No. 2 seed Victoria Azarenka. Sorry, but i just don't have the guts to call this my upset special, despite the seeding order. It's too much of a "gimme." A win by Azarenka today would vault her back to the Nno. 1 ranking, but the 1-7 head-to-head with Serena also makes a mockery of the seedings. While Azarenka is the only semifinalist who hasn't dropped a set at this tournament, I think she'll drop two soon after match-hardened and suddenly calm Serena starts raining down the aces and draws a bead on Madame Whooooo's serve with the hellish return.
Upset special: Angelique Kerber (No. 8) vs. Agnieszka Radwanska (No. 3) is a premium match-up; the women are 2-2 (no meetings on grass), and the last two meetings were three-setters. Based on ranking, Radwanska is a clear favorite, and she's had a better year. Yet Kerber has won more matches this year (45) than any other WTA player. This is also the connoisseur's special, because of the grass surface. Both women are excellent movers, and if Kerber gets the nod in the power department, the guile of Radwanska could be a big factor on a surface that produces a very low bounce to lightly struck balls.
And if you want to bone up on Roger Federer, let me be presumptuous to reccomend my new e-book (which can be downloaded to your computer), Roger Federer: the Man, the Matches, the Rivals