2014/09/20

In His Own Words: Patrick McEnroe to Step Down as Head of USTA Player Development

Patrick McEnroe

Patrick McEnroe

(September 3, 2014) Various media outlets reported on Wednesday that Patrick McEnroe would be resigning his position of general manager of player development for the United States Tennis Association (USTA). The USTA held a news conference after the completion of the Kei Nishikori – Stan Wawrinka match in which McEnroe did step down.

The following is the official transcript of a news conference in which Dave Haggerty, Chairman of the Board and President of the USTA, Gordon Smith, Executive Director and COO of the USTA and Patrick McEnroe participated.

 

US OPEN

Wednesday, September 3

Press Conference

Patrick McEnroe

Gordon Smith

Dave Haggerty
An interview with
PATRICK McENROE
GORDON SMITH and
DAVE HAGGERTY

CHRIS WIDMAIER: Good evening everybody. I’m Chris Widmaier, Managing Director of Communications for the USTA. I know everybody has a lot to write tonight, especially after that grueling five-set match. I do want to thank you for taking the time. Obviously we’re going to open this up, talk about Patrick McEnroe and his future and the future of USTA Player Development. But before we go to questions and answers, I think Patrick had a few words.

PATRICK McENROE: Thanks, Chris. Thanks everybody for coming. You reporters are pretty darn good, so you figure stuff out maybe before we had planned to announce it. Just to be able to talk to my staff and just talk to some other people. But the reality is that I will be stepping down from my position. Over the course of the last couple of months, as we have been looking ahead to what our plans will be in Orlando at Lake Nona for the USTA and specifically for player development, I think Gordon and I both kind of reached the same conclusion. Gordon, my boss, and Dave, his boss, that the head of player development, with the new direction that we’re heading in continuing what we have already started with our inclusive efforts and working with the developmental coaches in the private sector a little bit more, trying to do a little bit more in that area, it made all the sense in the world that the person in this position to be full-time based in Orlando. I think we both looked at each other over the course of obviously quite a few discussions over the last few months and realized that that probably wasn’t going to be me for a variety of reasons, both professional and personal, but I certainly felt, as did Gordon and Dave, that it was crucial for this person to be down there full time with the amount of resources and efforts that we’re putting into the new facility and the new programming in Orlando. So we felt that this was the right opportunity to start a transitional phase so that hopefully I can be involved somewhat over the next few months, however long that may be, to help with the direction that I think we’re going in, which I believe is extremely positive. I’m lucky enough to have a couple members of my team here. Again, I couldn’t get to a lot of them because of just the way this transpired, but they have really done tremendous work on our team and in player development. They’re going to continue to do that and continue to push forward with the direction we’re going.

CHRIS WIDMAIER: Gordon, anything to add?

GORDON SMITH: Yeah. When Patrick came to me and told me he wasn’t going to be making the move to Orlando, you know, I really reflected back, because I hired Patrick way back whenever it was. We hired him for a pretty narrow job there. It was elite player development. It was just about a very few players. Patrick realized that the United States really needed a broad-based, organized regional and national program. So now we are in such a different place because of what Patrick has done, what he’s brought to this country in terms of player development. We have a set of regional training centers around the country. We have a very organized coaching education program to raise the level of all coaches. We have much more outreach than we have ever had before. From where we started to where we are has been quite a journey, and I will tell you that Patrick has really created a foundation that we will build on. Patrick will be actively involved for the foreseeable future on the transition. He realized, came to me and said, Look, we are building this new place. We’re making all these plans. If I’m not going in, the person who is needs to be involved in that process along the way. In the meantime, Patrick will be involved in helping us find who that person will be and helping us with that transition as we continue forward.

DAVE HAGGERTY: Just to add, I think the last few years we have been focused on trying to reach out, be more inclusive, think about Team USA and think about doing what’s right for American tennis. Patrick has done a fantastic job. He’s answered everything that the board has asked. He’s really taken us in that direction. That will continue. That’s very important, that we continue to do what we’re doing. We have had some good success. Thank you for all that you’ve done. Patrick will be very helpful in helping guide us as to where we go in the future in succession.

CHRIS WIDMAIER: Opening it up to questions.

Q. Why now a full-time a person? ^ with the salary grade that you have been getting, wasn’t this a full-time salary position before? Why the change now?
PATRICK McENROE: I don’t think it’s a full time. I always saw this job as full time. I mean, pretty committed to doing what’s right for the USTA and for player development in general. Obviously I did some other things, still. Do some other things, as well. That’s obvious. I think when I initially took the job that was really seen as a positive. I know there have been critics about that over the years, and it certainly comes with the territory. But what I think it wasn’t so much about time commitment, it was more about the location and the resources being put into what we’re doing in Orlando, trying to make that really the centerpiece of player development moving forward. As you know, we have a home here that we didn’t have when I first started here. Obviously we have a presence in Southern California that we partner with. So the job really encompasses I believe the whole country, but I believe that moving forward, not just for player development but for community tennis as well, that it’s going to be moving down to Orlando. I just think it’s even more important. You could certainly argue that I should have been in Florida, living there, that I didn’t do the job. That’s your right to do that. But I think moving forward that I felt that the position needed to be in Orlando on a full-time basis. I certainly felt that I was doing the job from here over the last six years because, you know, I was able to use my energies in a lot of different places. You know, the job, as Gordon said, changed a lot over time. It changes from year to year as far as what your focuses are based on what’s happened in the field, based on different priorities. But I do think we’re headed in a very positive direction. Obviously when you look at the top of what we deal with, which is what a lot of people are interested in, is how are our top players doing? Obviously we are doing pretty well in the women’s side. We have a lot of work to do on the men’s side at the top, but I think we have a great group of youngsters coming up. I think we are all very optimistic about the future for them. So there is a lot of tentacles that go into this job. Certainly more than I realized going forward. That’s why having a great team in place and some of them here is, to me, probably the most important of having the right people in place to do the job.

Q. Dave is there any component or Patrick is there any component of this based on the fact the results haven’t been what you hoped in terms of on the court, particularly on the men’s side?
GORDON SMITH: The answer to that is no. If you look at where we are and where we have come from, I think, as I said we have a great foundation. Frankly, I think we are going to see results of that. We have 12 women in the top 100; 12 more in 100-200, far more than any other country. Many, many of those we have had a positive influence on. We are not as far along on the boys. Look at Wimbledon, we had seven out of the sixteen in the Round of 16; three out of four semifinalists, and both finalists. So we are really gaining steam, and I’m very happy with the foundation. Make no mistake, we’re going to continue the course. This is not a change in direction.

DAVE HAGGERTY: Just to add to that, I think the driving force is what we are going to be doing at Lake Nona. It’s really a change. I think this is Patrick saying, Look, I know this is going to be happening. We have to do what’s right. We have to plan for it, make a transition. And you don’t do that so soon that you can’t react and have the plan in place that you want to have. I think that’s really the key driver here.

Q. What would you say over the last six years you’re most proud of and what would you do differently if given the opportunity?
PATRICK McENROE: I’m most proud of the team that’s in place and the commitment and passion of the people working in the program and the outreach I think more recently. I think Dave was a big impetus towards pushing us in that direction to put more structure to that. We always felt that we, meaning player development, were doing that, but I think it forced us to look in the mirror and realize we needed to do things better in our outreach. I think there is a real sense that that’s headed in a positive direction. What would I do differently? You always look back and say there are things I’d like to do us to do even better in coaching education. I think that’s a huge issue for our country in general. The fact we are only governing body in world that doesn’t certify its own coaches. I think that’s a big issue. So there are always things you could have done better. I would love to see if every male player we work with was in the second week of the US Open. I’m also realistic. I also see what the world looks like. Overall, I’m just very proud of the people that have worked under me and that are dedicated to what they do. I believe I have had some influence on them and some positivity towards them. I expect that to continue from them.

Q. As a follow to that, what’s next for you?
PATRICK McENROE: Well, what’s next for me is, you know, we have a full staff meeting that we have in October with our whole team that we do every year. That was certainly a big impetus for me to announce this now, because the last thing I wanted to do would be to go with the 54 people that work in player development under false pretenses, to not let them know what was going on. That really started this discussion that I want to get this out. I want to go down there. I’m not very good at lying, so I’m pretty good at being straightforward and honest. (Smiling.) I want to continue to do that and work with the team moving forward. As much as these gentlemen want me to be to be involved I will stay involved and keep this train headed in the right direction.

Q. When we spoke a month ago in San Diego, you were making the rounds; you’d been to six sections…
PATRICK McENROE: Nine sections, but who’s counting. (Smiling.)

Q. And you were very candid. You said there was a sense that we were pissing a lot of people off trying to do it our way. Even though we thought we were doing our regional training centers the right way, a lot of people thought… This sense of having pissed off a lot of people, how did that play into your decision?
PATRICK McENROE: Oh, that didn’t play into my decision at all. I think that comes with the territory. I think that’s part of me learning on the job. I learned a lot of things. I believe I got better at what I did. Certainly I made mistakes, as we did within the program and as probably a lot of private coaches did, you know, when they are trying to work with kids. It’s difficult. It’s very difficult to create top-level players. I think I have a newfound respect for what my parents did, you know, to create two players, one who was really good and another who was pretty good. (Smiling.) But also for parents of junior players, for coaches of junior players, for the whole process, I think I never really understood it as a player. And now when you get to really see it and you see the work that goes into it and the dedication, et cetera, you realize it’s pretty hard, you know, to get to the promised land, so to speak, to play at the US Open. Obviously the world has caught up to us when it comes to the highest level of tennis. I think that’s a great thing. It’s great for tennis. It’s a global sport. We’re trying to do things better, and I think that means all of us. That means we in player development. That means in the private sector, et cetera. We’ve all got to work together. Maybe that’s one thing I wish I had grabbed on to a little bit earlier, because I do think it’s really paying off for us — not just for us, but for American tennis in general.

Q. Do you think those nine sections are ready to work with your successor?
PATRICK McENROE: Absolutely. Absolutely. There is a lot of people and a lot of dedicated people. This is not about — this program has never been about one person. It’s never going to be. It’s too big. Are is too many entities. Not just within our program, but with the sections, with the private sector, et cetera. So it has to be — to me, the job is one mostly of leadership and of vision. I think I was successful in some of those areas. As I said, coaching education has come under player development. That was something that I was certainly supportive of. I think that’s a positive. Us and my friend, Kurt Kamperman, who runs community tennis, we have worked side by side a lot more than we ever did. I think that’s a positive for tennis. I think that has to continue.

Q. What does this mean for José, Jay, and Jorge ^ ?
GORDON SMITH: Look, Patrick said it. Patrick’s created a great team and a great staff. They’re moving in the right direction. We want them to continue to move in that direction. We don’t see changes in what we are doing or who’s doing it.

Q. Thanks for all the sweat and the work.
PATRICK McENROE: Thank you.

Q. Used to be when Andre was around, whether it was in Zimbabwe or California, he was meeting the team. You know as well as anyone Roddick was a charismatic leader pulling for America. Now when you talk to John and Sam, terrific people, even all the way down to Koslov and Rubin, there is more of a culture of I’m working on my own game; that’s what I’m interested in. There isn’t that urgency of the, Hey, we’ve got to make this happen for America today. Could you comment about that? Do you sense that? Do you think that’s an issue of any kind?
PATRICK McENROE: I mean, it’s not up to the individual player to do it for their country, so to speak. It’s up to them to do it for themselves. I mean, as a Davis Cup captain for 10 years I spent a lot of time with Andy Roddick; he had an incredible energy and intensity level that was from him. That was him. Obviously he loved playing for his country. He loved supporting American tennis. I think that we have a lot of kids and a lot of players that have that. I think we just need to get better. I mean, our players need to get better. The coaching needs to get better. We want to be as much of a support as we can and a resource for all things tennis where our best players, our young coaches, we’re people getting people in the pipeline, for junior and collegiate tennis we created a separate position in the last few years just to focus solely on collegiate tennis and do what we can support the best players coming out of college. The answer to that question is I believe we have some of that. Great players obviously have certain individuality to them. I mean, look at Michael Chang out there coaching now. His intensity and energy has made a tangible difference in someone like a Kei Nishikori. We can always get better at that. I hope I answered your question. I’m not trying to skirt it. I just don’t see that it’s — I don’t look at that and say, That’s our issue. I look at it and say, We need to get better as coaches, as mentors, as players. We need to play tennis better. We need to train better. We need to be smarter, et cetera.

Q. It’s early on, but do you have any sense of a description of the job or the replacement of Patrick? Say, does it have to be a former player or just a great developmental coach? Somebody maybe with who has a business background a little bit? Do you have a sense of that yet?
PATRICK McENROE: Are you going to knock my business background, too? (Laughter.)

GORDON SMITH: Many of you saw John went to the ESPN set immediately before he came here. John said he was not a candidate for the job, so I know it’s not going to be John. Well, can we clone Patrick and get him to move to Nona? It’s going to be hard to replace Patrick. I was involved with the search when we hired Patrick. It’s a damn hard job, and it’s going to be hard to find somebody. But start with a lot of his talents and you’d have a good candidate.

Q. Would José be considered at all? Do you want a big name like Patrick?
GORDON SMITH: You know, honestly hadn’t thought about it. If you want to know the truth, the reason being Patrick and I had this discussion, we were in no rush. We simply — because he wanted it to come out on his terms. As things began to break we decided to talk tonight. We haven’t gotten that far down the road.

Q. How do you think your tenure in this sort of era of American tennis should be remembered?
PATRICK McENROE: Well, I hope it will be remembered when we have a bunch of players that will be at the top in a few years, because I think, as you have probably learned in your years now of covering tennis, it’s a long road to get to the top. It takes a lot of time and a lot of effort. You know, José and I have, and I fully expect Mark just to at least chime in on that for José to be involved. I’d like him to be on the court more, to be honest. I think that’s his No. 1 role is to be on the court working with players. We had already had discussions about him doing more of that in the near future, particularly some of our young boys that are coming up. But what we always talked about s wanting to put a structure in place, a structure that would help us create a good succession of high-quality players. I have said from the start in taking the job that I never suspected that we or any one person or program can create Serena Williams or John McEnroe or Pete Sampras. But I do believe that if you create a good system and a good program that’s organized, that has a coaching philosophy which we have that reaches out with the great private sector that’s out there that are in this game, that are in this world. Which there are not that many of them, by the way. There are some great ones, but there are not that many of it. That if you do that, this is a 15- to 20-year project. There is some disappointment in me to not see the whole thing through, but I have to be realistic about it about. When I first went to Orlando two years ago, as we were looking potentially for sites just for player development at that time before it became a much bigger deal for the USTA, you know, I wanted to do what I thought was right for the USTA and for tennis in the country. I’m going to continue to do that. So I would hope that some of those things have set some of the parameters in place and put some good things motion. Again, it’s a complete team effort. I hope that I have led some of that charge, that we can’t really just sit back, I believe, anymore and rely on, Jeez, we used to have half the draw at the US Open. Well, guess what? I mean, the world has changed.

Q. How much, if at all, have you tried to pick up things from other countries in the way they develop players?
PATRICK McENROE: You always try to find that balance of being we are the United States and we do want to do things our way. We do want to have the individual obviously be emphasized. But I do think that we wanted to get a bit more organized in the way we approach coaching and coach educating, et cetera. But at the same time, obviously you always look at what countries are doing that are having success, whether it’s France, Spain, Russia, et cetera. But at the same time, I don’t think we ever want to lose what we do well, which is, you know, be aggressive players, serve big, be attacking-type players. But you also have to realize that the game has changed. The game is played from the back court. You need to hit a lot of balls and be able to run and be very athletic. We have clay courts here. We have clay courts in Florida. We are going to have I a lot more clay courts – and some will be red, which will be nice – in Orlando; we have clay courts at our facility in California. We changed the Orange Bowl back to clay. You know, so there is a lot of things that tie into that to try to help our kids develop better so that they become better players.

Q. Is the transition anything more than you helping to find a successor? What’s the timeline for finding a replacement?
DAVE HAGGERTY: To me, I think, you know, a lot of this is new news. It’s something — you know, we are in the middle of the US Open, which is something that needs a lot of focus. But we will begin to plan and come up with something that really makes sense. This is not about change in strategy. We think the inclusiveness, what we are doing and how we are trying to work to develop American champions is the right formula. We have a great team. We just have to continue to move forward. How that looks, you know, I think we need a few months to figure that out. And the role that Patrick will play in it and the guidance that he’ll give us, you know, he’s learned a lot. Sometimes you have to take that learning and use it to make your decision-making.

Q. A year? Longer than that?
GORDON SMITH: I would say that’s an unknown, but if four to six months, could be longer. He will have much broader involvement than just finding a successor. He’s running the show. He’s in place. He’s going to be there to do that until this happens. He’s going to be involved in the search. He’s going to be involved in transferring the knowledge and the lessons learned. So it will be a broad involvement going forward in the transition.

Q. You talked about the developmental process, but what hasn’t been mentioned is our junior competition structure in this country. In my opinion, and in a lot of people’s opinion, that’s kind of an underlying issue with why we’re not seeing more of the top players emerge.
PATRICK McENROE: Yeah, I think it’s safe to say we’ve got some issues in junior comp. There is no doubt about that. We are certainly trying to tackle it in the best way we can. I will say — and I have sort of said this before and said it the wrong way and pissed some people off — but I will say that I don’t think that’s the reason we don’t have players at the top of the professional game. Just like I don’t think we need to have better coaching and education. All the things combined matter. I think junior competition matters. At the same time, you know, if you’re going to make that argument, which you’re welcome to make, then you might want to look at, well, how are we doing in girls? We seem to have a lot of girls in the top 100 and a lot more coming. They sort of play under the same system, as well. I think the premise of your question and statement is accurate, that we need to do a better job in that area, but I do think that it’s one of many issues.

Q. Last couple of years when you were out there looking at the Orlandos and whatever, were you aware from the start that you were basically looking for something that was going to take you out of a job, or was there a point where you thought you’d be able to stay with it?
PATRICK McENROE: I think a little bit of both. I mean, you know, obviously I feel like I have been able to do the job from here. If I didn’t think I’d be able to do the job I wouldn’t have kept doing it. But I do think — look, my interest was always in what I think was best for the program. That’s the bottom line. As I said, Gordon and I discussed potential directions to go, and I think we both looked at each other and we have worked well and we have been honest with each other for all these years. Dave since he became president, as well. I said, Look, I think this is going to work best for this position at this point to be based there. So, yeah, I guess I was my own worst enemy if I said I wanted to keep the job for as long as I could. I never looked at the job from that perspective. I looked at it as a great opportunity. I was paid well, obviously. I did my best and will continue to do my best. I made some mistakes, but I think generally speaking I’m proud of the fact that I have been able to be part of Davis Cup for ten years and this job for, you know, six-and-a-half years. Maybe it will seven by the time I sort of officially step aside. Whatever it is, that’s a pretty good run. They have treated me, the USTA, great. They have always been very honest with me. I have been very honest with them. I’m going to continue to do that.

Q. The last I guess 40 years, professional football, professional basketball, to a lesser extent hockey, baseball, has been pretty shrewd in using colleges to basically be a very seamless pipeline, cheap. Some could say exploited. But do you think that you, tennis, has done or could do a better job of exploiting the sort of infrastructures already in college?
PATRICK McENROE: There is no doubt we could do a better job. That’s why we assigned one of our coaches to specifically follow college tennis and specifically work with the players and the coaches. At the same time, I like to deal with reality, as well: If you look at the reality of the rankings of men’s and women’s tennis, the majority of the players didn’t go to college. It’s just a fact. It’s just a reality. That being said, we’re seeing some darn good players come out of college, particularly on the men’s side. Even a few on the women’s side that are doing well. That’s great. What I would really — what rang true with me is when I did some of my travels around the country and I heard from a lot of parents that that was important to them, that college tennis be a viable option. Because, you know, at nine or ten it’s pretty hard to say if you’re going to be a pro or not. So that sort of reenergized me to say, Hey, we need to make sure and do what we can to help college tennis, because a lot of — we might lose a lot of players when their kids are eight, nine, or ten that do other sports and get involved in other things and the parent says, Jeez, college tennis is, I don’t know. It’s not really viable. I think we need it to be healthy, and the healthier it can be it’s better for tennis in general. And I think it can be a pipeline, but it’s not going to be like football.

Q. Between public and private, could you talk a little bit about that relationship in terms of how that’s grown?
PATRICK McENROE: I think it needs to get better. That’s obviously been a huge push for us recently. The reason I say that is because it’s so much harder to make it. The private sector, you know, the tennis world has changed. I don’t mean professional tennis. I mean the business of tennis has changed to where clubs and academies, et cetera, they have — it’s more financially based now. It’s economics of how they can just stay in business. So the better a junior tennis player gets as a kid, 11, 12, 13, up to 17, 18, the more resources it takes for them to continue to develop. That’s where I believe the USTA can play a huge part in helping that process, be part of the process. And certainly not be the only part. We definitely know that. But at the same time, we need to send that message to those coaches out there, and they also need to receive the message I believe from the USTA that the — you may very well need us at some point, and that can be a good thing. If you think you can do it all alone, God bless you and good luck, but it’s pretty darn tough. The USTA can be a valuable resource in that process.

Courtesy of ASAPSports and the USTA.

As a media outlet credentialed to cover the US Open, Tennis Panorama News has permission to post this transcript.

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Jeanne Moutoussamy Ashe is Among the Honorees at Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program Gala

 

hjtep

New York, N.Y., May 28, 2013 The Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program (HJTEP) is set to celebrate its 41 years of service and dedication to its program participants on June 17 and 18.

HJTEP’s year-long commemoration will begin on Monday, June 17th with a celebration dinner and cocktails at 6:00pm at Guastavino’s (409 East 59th Street, New York).  This event brings together tennis champions, celebrities and gracious donors, supporting HJTEP’s community services with special guests Vanessa Williams, Richey Reneberg and the evening’s emcee, Janice Huff of NBC New York.   This year’s honorees will include Jeanne Moutoussamy Ashe, widow of Arthur Ashe, Assemblyman Keith Wright, Black Enterprise Magazine and Dante Brown.

 

The main event will take place the next day, Tuesday, June 18 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, NY. Matches begin at 10:00am with tennis legends and celebrities including Patrick McEnroe, MaliVai Washington, Gigi Fernandez, Bea Bielik, Clyde Drexler, Kim Fields, Lori McNeil, Chanda Rubin and many others, paired with amateur participants. The finals will be played in Arthur Ashe Stadium at noon.

 

“We are ecstatic about the upcoming celebration of our 41 successful years in service that has helped pave the road to success for children in Harlem through tennis and education programs,” said HJTEP Executive Director Katrina Adams. “Our fundraiser is exceptional in the way that it unites everyone who is in support of the Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program, from the participants, the charitable donors and tennis legends; everyone is mutually working towards accomplishing the same goals and we look forward to many more years of service to come.”


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Say “No” to Best of Three

By Dave Seminara

Why is it that tennis writers and former players always seem to be agitating for changes that would result in less tennis being played in the pro ranks? For years, we’ve been hearing that the Davis Cup shouldn’t be an annual event, and that tennis’s offseason should be longer. Now during the first week of this year’s U.S. Open, the buzz was all about reducing the men’s matches from best of 5 to best of 3 in majors.

 

Ben Rothenberg made a best-of-3 pitch in the New York Times’ U.S. Open Preview issue, ESPN tennis analyst’s Darren Cahill and Patrick McEnroe said that the idea was getting some traction and merited further discussion and Billie Jean King wrote a piece for The Huffington Post arguing the same point.

 

I’m a tennis fanatic and I live for dramatic five setters. While Cahill and others have said that the Olympics best of three until the final format proved that best of three could be as compelling as the best of five majors, I had the opposite experience. For me, the Olympics felt no different than a Masters 1000 series tournament like Toronto, Cincinnati and the rest.

 

King maintains that the men should play less in order to avoid injuries like the one that’s kept Rafael Nadal out of action this summer. But there are scores of current and former players that continued to win into their 30’s under the best of 5 format- Jimmy Connors, Ken Rosewall, Roger Federer, Andre Agassi- and some athletes from every sport will sustain injuries no matter how many sets they play.

 

Rothenberg’s primary justification for paring back the length of men’s matches is the notion that the player who is leading at the end of 3 sets nearly always wins the match. He cited a statistic indicating that the player leading after the first three sets won 90% of matches in the last five years, but this year’s Open certainly bucked that trend.

 

There was a total of 23 five setters, with 10 players coming from 2 sets to love down to win in the first four days, tied for the second most in the Open era, and only 4 behind the all time record set at the 2002 Australian Open. Of the 23 five setters, the player who was winning at the end of the 3rd set won on only six occasions.

 

If the final had been straight sets win for Andy Murray, just imagine all the drama we would have missed out on. The match was full of plot twists, and despite the fact that it lasted almost five hours, the crowd didn’t want it to end. After Murray won the first two sets, the crowd seemed to shift allegiance to Djokovic-because they wanted more tennis- and then shifted back to Murray in the 5th.

 

One could argue that this year’s draw has been the exception, not the rule, but consider how different tennis history would be if the men had been playing best of three in the majors during the Open era. Roger Federer wouldn’t have a career slam, because at Roland Garros in 2009, his one win there, he would have lost to Tommy Haas in the Round of 16. And he wouldn’t have regained the #1 ranking, breaking Pete Sampras’s record for weeks in the top spot, because he was down two sets to love in the 3rd round of Wimbledon this year against Julien Benneteau.

 

Then again, he would have won the 2009 U.S. Open over Juan Martin Del Potro and could have fared better in other majors, like the 1999 Wimbledon, the 2011 U.S. Open, and the 2002 and 2005 Australian Opens.

 

In a best of three set world, Rafael Nadal would have lost to Robin Haase in the 2nd round at Wimbledon in 2010, rather than winning the title; Novak Djokovic wouldn’t have won this year’s Australian Open or the 2011 U.S. Open; and McEnroe would have a career slam, having beaten Lendl in the final of the ’84 French, rather than blowing a two set to love lead, but he wouldn’t have won Wimbledon or the U.S. Open in 1980.

 

Neither Michael Chang nor Boris Becker would have won majors at 17, and Becker wouldn’t have won Wimbledon or the U.S. Open in 1989. The point here is twofold: first, it isn’t that uncommon for players who are trailing at the end of three sets to win the match and then go on to win the tournament, and second, the better player is more likely to prevail in best of five set encounters. For obvious reasons, fans want to see Rafael Nada late in the final, not Robin Haase; Roger Federer not Julien Benneateau. If the men’s game switched to best of 3 sets now, it would also make it difficult to compare records from one era to another.

 

But the most important reason for keeping the best of five format is that five set matches test a player’s mental and physical strength in a way that three setters don’t. All of the most dramatic men’s matches I’ve seen in my lifetime- Federer-Nadal in the final of Wimbledon in 2008, Federer- Roddick at Wimbledon in 2009, Borg-McEnroe at Wimbledon in 1980, Lendl-McEnroe at the ’84 French, Connors-Krickstein at the ’91 U.S. Open, Isner- Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010, and McEnroe-Becker at the Davis Cup in ’87- were five setters.

 

Yes, five setters are tough on the body, but at most majors, the players have a day off in between most of their matches. And, let’s face it; watching guys overcome cramps and other injuries to win is high theater. Who could forget watching Pete Sampras gut out a win over Alex Corretja at the U.S. Open in ’96 after throwing up in the plants at the back of the court?

 

Tennis writers often suggest making dramatic changes to the sport, but I love tennis too much to advocate any changes that would result in less tennis. As far as I’m concerned, the sport is just fine the way it is.

 

 

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“On The Call” with John and Patrick McEnroe

Patrick McEnroe

On Friday ESPN’s John and Patrick McEnroe discussed the US Open on a media conference call which begins Monday, August 27, with extensive coverage on ESPN2 and ESPN3.

 

Q.  Doing a story on your brother, Mark.  For both of you what does he bring to his job at the academy?  And what part do you expect him to play in the debate about the future of American tennis and where the next great tennis start is going to come from?

PATRICK McENROE:  Well, he can get in line to get into the debate.  I mean, we are all enjoying that.  Mark has been the big man until the middle for many years and I’m happy he’s in the game.  I’m very happy that John got himself into the game.  John put his money where his mouth is by doing his own thing and his own academy and that’s awesome for tennis and New York in general.

 

For Mark, he’s a pretty darned good tennis player, so the fact that he’s working alongside John is great for him and great for the family.  And I know John feels pretty good having him alongside, and I know I feel pretty good when I take my little daughter up there for lessons and he takes care of it, so it’s all good.

 

JOHN McENROE:  At my club over in Randall’s Island; it’s nice to have someone you trust who also loves the sport.  As Patrick pointed out, being the middle brother, he can bridge the gap of Patrick and I on any issues that I think in the long run is going to help all of us.  I’m looking forward to hopefully the situation where all of us work together, not just the two of us.

Q.  Given his background, Wall Street lawyer and working in hedge funds and stuff like that ‑‑

PATRICK McENROE:  I’m not going to hold that against him.

Q.  Do you think that helps in bringing in a different perspective a little bit?

JOHN McENROE:  Well, I think that strictly from the managerial standpoint, he’s a smart guy and being a lawyer, he can help me with things that other, quote, unquote, tennis guys wouldn’t be able to.  As far as whether or not it helps in the sort of world of tennis, I honestly can’t say that you can make a determination that because he was around Wall Street or involved with hedge funds that that necessarily makes him better equipped to deal with the politics that goes along with tennis or the sport itself.  I mean, I think that’s a bit of a stretch.

Q.  I wanted to ask you for your thoughts on the men’s field, in particular, of the top three seeds, who do you see as the favorite, and who among them do you think has more at stake or maybe just a word about what each respectively kind of has at stake in the last slam of the year.

JOHN McENROE:  Yeah, I was just going to say that to me, the three of them ‑‑ I almost think that you can make an argument for all three.  I think it’s very close.  They are sort of all ‑‑ it would be hard to pick one of them right now, because you can make an argument for any one of them.  I can say that as far as what’s at stake, I think Murray has got the most at stake, because, yes, he’s won this Olympic thing, but I think it’s pretty universally understood that it’s not quite ‑‑ while it’s become more important obviously in the fact that it was at Wimbledon was helpful, it’s not thought of I think in the same way as the slams.

 

So I don’t think the burr is off him but I’m hoping that it can break the ice so to speak and he can win some slams.  I think he has the most to loss and the most to gain at this point.  Before the Olympics, it was between the three guys, you know, obviously Rafa is not here; who would win and then become No. 1.

 

But now the way it pans out, it’s conceivable that Murray could make an argument were he to win this, and then have a strong season, and, say, win the Masters, there’s a possibility that you could say he’s the best player in the world this year.  To me that’s an unbelievable upside.  In some ways Roger has accomplished ‑‑ I thought he would win another major and be back at No. 1.  He’s proved a lot of people wrong there.

 

Djokovic obviously has this year, greatest year in 40 years, and he’s not been really at the same level.  Yet, he’s still for a guy who has really had not as good a year as he had last year, is still in the mix; if he were to win this, he could be No. 1 again and will be No. 1.  So that’s quite a nice thing for him, as well.

 

PATRICK McENROE:  I think that obviously this year, in particular, I think it’s pretty cool that he’s got No. 1 really up for grabs in The Open at the first time in a while. As to John’s point, career‑wise, Murray has the most at stake because he just has not won one.  But for a different year, they have all got a lot at stake because you can easily make the case that if any one of the three wins it, they will and should be No. 1 for the year.  Obviously there’s still tennis to be played post the Open, but certainly either Roger or Djokovic win this, they are No. 1 this year because they have won two Majors.

 

I think Roger is probably a slight favorite, just because I think that having won Wimbledon again and gotten back to No. 1, I feel like watching him in Cincinnati, which I know is slightly different than a US Open, that he’s sort of playing with no pressure at all.  He’s sort of playing with house money, because he has not won one for so long, and to keep ‑‑ for him, he kind of got the monkey off his back and then he had not won for three years.

 

So I think when he plays with that sort of freedom and abandon, he’s very, very dangerous.  You know, he’s obviously the most talented player that I’ve ever seen, so I think when he can play with that kind of freedom, it makes him that much tougher to beat.

 

Now, that being said, I think the conditions here with the tournament being back‑loaded for the last couple of days, I think that makes it a little bit trickier for him with potentially to potentially beat Murray and then Novak back‑to‑back on hard courts with a lot of heat or maybe wind or rain delays, things like that.  So I think that’s sort of the X‑factor for Federer.  But from a pure tennis standpoint of what I’ve seen the last three months, I would call him the favorite.

Q.  It seems like this year, Federer, there’s just been a little bit of a flip flop.  Djokovic was obviously so dominant last year and Federer, we were talking about, will he ever win another one; and now it seems like he’s No. 1 again.  Do you think that’s more that Federer is playing better or Djokovic is not playing as well?  And the second question I wanted to ask is about Serena, and obviously once again, as we always say, when she feels like it and when she plays well, there’s nobody that can beat her and all this.  What do you think of this Kerber, this German woman who has been playing well; do you think that she’s someone we should be watching or do you think Serena is just going to kind of roll over everybody again?

JOHN McENROE:  I’ll go first.  Federer is playing better, I believe, and Djokovic has dropped off a little bit.  And I think Federer prefers a Djokovic match up to Nadal, and it’s the opposite, interestingly enough, with Djokovic.  He seems to prefer to play Nadal right now than Roger.  Some of it was timing, and obviously there’s always a little bit of luck that goes into it, such as the roof closing when they played at Wimbledon, things of that nature.

 

But the match‑up seems to suit Roger, and he seems to be more comfortable in that situation.  And it was hard to keep up, for anyone to keep up that level, because Djokovic had pushed all year towards becoming the first guy since Laver to hold all four slams at the same time.  When he lost that final where he almost had a chance to get back in and win, I think there was a letdown.

 

So, yeah, I think there’s been a shift, but Djokovic, as Patrick rightly pointed out, would still be No. 1 if he wins this.  I think he’s really sort of had some time to sort of get over the frustration, not a lot of time obviously, because the Olympics definitely complicates things.  But he had a couple tough losses there and lost to Roger at Wimbledon.  He sucked it up and played a couple of the hard courts and he’s got a week here.  I think he’s definitely feeling like he should win this thing.

 

As far as Kerber, I’ve watched Kerber play for the last couple years and she’s someone to me who is an extremely smart tennis player.  She knows the game and she knows how to sort of ‑‑ she’s like sort of a natural tennis thinker.

 

However; if, Serena, to me, is mentally and physically ready to play and into it, I don’t think there’s a player alive that can beat her right now.  Now, of course she’s only won one slam in the last few years, so it’s not as if she’s been ‑‑ I think there’s been seven straight different women winning slams, I believe, or something close to that.  And Kerber is someone who is one of those that if she catches you on an off‑day can beat anyone, but I don’t see her with the type of firepower needed to go all the way.

 

PATRICK McENROE:  I think Serena is obviously the favorite, but I think there’s more that can go wrong in the US Open for her than certainly at Wimbledon.  And what I mean by that is she’s ‑‑ it’s interesting reading her article in the New York Times magazine that she’s got a little something in her head about things going wrong at the US Open, whether it’s the grunting or the line call or the point penalty, etc.

 

So that’s not a good thing for her.  And I think probably more importantly even than that, even though she said she loves hard court and it’s her favorite surface, I think her weakness, obviously there are not many, but when she gets inconsistent can show up a little bit more on a hard court than playing on a grass court where her serve is that much more magnified.  Wind can also hurt her a little bit.

As John said she’s the best out there but seven straight matches ‑‑ even the first week of Wimbledon, you know, she very nearly lost a couple of times.  So if that kind of thing happens again at the US Open, she can be in trouble.  But Kerber is certainly someone that I think can be around in the second week, but I’m amazed at her negative attitude out there that she gets so negative, and yet she’s still able to compete.  I think if she could somehow get a little more positive, that might help her once she gets to the quarters and semis.  And obviously there’s some other young players.

Q.  A lot of people are talking about the change Andy Murray is going through under the guidance of Ivan Lendl.  So my question is about coaching.  What do you need for a player to find the right coach?  Is it a connection that can change a player’s mentality, and can a coach have that much impact?

JOHN McENROE:  Yeah, that’s a great question.  I’m not sure there is an answer, and it obviously depends on an individual and the timing of it.  I mean, Murray has been through a number of coaches, and a number of world‑class coaches.   So this could have ‑‑ it seems to have come at a time, a pretty critical point in his career, where perhaps Ivan had the credibility of someone who had been in a similar situation as Andy, having not won his first four Grand Slams, losing in the finals, and then being one of the great players of all time, Ivan Lendl.

 

So sometimes a player needs to sort of have someone who has been there, done that.  And other times, you could look at other players in the Top‑10, where they have had the same coaches since they were teenagers or even before, and they feel a comfort level.  So it’s wildly unpredictable; when Paul Annacone first started working with Roger, most people assumed he would try to get Roger become more aggressive, particularly against Nadal, maybe come in and take an earlier volley more.

 

Very, very subtle changes; it took years ‑‑ to me, it seems like the reason why Roger won Wimbledon this year was in the finals against Murray, it was one of the greatest volleying performances I’ve ever seen him have, considering he had not been volleying that well beforehand.  So would you say that’s an influence of Paul Annacone finally, or not; it’s hard to say, is the bottom line.

 

But certainly there’s been occasions where a coach can have a fairly significant impact.  There’s other times where you’ve seen some of the other players play without coaches.  Tsonga is without a coach and he’s playing the best tennis of his career.  Federer played for the better part of a few years winning Grand Slams without a coach.  So this is something that is hard to say exactly, but certainly, there’s a handful of people out there that have made a difference with some of the top players.

PATRICK McENROE:  Oh, there’s no doubt it (a new coach) can (help).  I only heard the second half of John’s answer, and I certainly agree a hundred percent with what he said.  Absolutely there’s cases where a coach can give you a burst of energy.  Sometimes you just need to hear a different voice.  Obviously players that are in the top ‑‑ winning tennis matches their entire life.  So they are used to that.  They are used to winning.  But sometimes they just need a different push.

 

In the case of someone like a Murray, he’s someone that brought a little something to the table.  Lendl has experience.  Really, as John said, it depends on the individual and it depends on the relationship between the coach and the player.  I mean, you spend so much time with that person that it’s not necessarily always about X’s and O’s.  It’s about the relationship and the trust that you have and where you are at this stage of your career that you’re willing to say, okay, I’m going to listen to somebody like that.

Q.  Wondering about Andy Murray, do you see anyone early in his run in the draw who could cause a problem?  I know he’s kind of got that out of his system and is going deep in most Majors recently.  Are there any dangers for him early in the draw that you see, any other big guns, any dangerous for them early in the draw?

JOHN McENROE:  Well, I don’t have the draw in front of me but I believe he’s slated to play Raonic in the 16s.  So that would be an example of someone that potentially, I think, could be a problem for any top player.  Just like a guy like John Isner could be if he’s on his game.  These guys that have huge firepower and get you out of your comfort zone.  So that’s the type of a person on a hot day or an off‑day where he’s serving big could provide problems for him or any player.  I look at a player like that and I think to myself, that could be a future top‑five player.          Patrick, do you know who his quarter is?

 

PATRICK McENROE:  I don’t have that in front of me either.

JOHN McENROE:  I believe it’s Tsonga, if I’m not mistaken.  Those are obviously matches in his record, I’m pretty sure it’s Tsonga, and I believe if that is the case, that that would be someone who he has a good record against.  Yeah, of course, he’s the type of player that could obviously beat anyone on a given day, but I think he’s only one in six events against Andy.

 

But more than who he’s playing, it’s actually how ‑‑ I don’t know if there’s anything to what’s happened since the Olympics.  I mean, there’s obviously a big letdown coming straight from there and having to go play.  He was supposed to play Raonic and he pulled out with the knee.  I saw the first match he played in Cincy and I thought he looked good.  He looked like he was moving well and then he lost the next round.  That surprised me.

 

Having said that, he’s much tougher to beat in a longer match, if he’s healthy.  So I still would suspect that if he’s playing as well as ‑‑ because the way he played at the Olympics, I don’t see him not making a serious run and not winning the whole thing.

 

PATRICK McENROE:  I agree, I think he’s probably the most vulnerable of the top three, but that’s not saying a lot because the other guys are pretty much not vulnerable at all, Djokovic and Federer.  Murray still does have those matches where his energy is sort of low and he can be very defensive.  I don’t think he has them as often as he did.  Certainly Lendl has helped him a lot there.  I think he’s a little more vulnerable to a solid guy who is ranked between 15 and 30 upsetting him than Federer and Djokovic are.

Q.  How important is the Olympic title compared to Grand Slam title?  And how are Nadal’s injury problems?

JOHN McENROE:  Those are both good questions.  With Nadal, we are all worried, and we are all hopeful he will make the type of comeback that he made when he injured his knee like three years ago.  When you are talking about one of the greatest to ever play the game, you don’t want to see him have to go out with physical problems before he wants to.  So that goes without saying that everyone is concerned, including myself, that we want to see him back in the mix as soon as possible, because he’s huge for our sport.  And the first part of the question was, what was it again?  I’m sorry.

 

Q.  How important is the Olympic title compared to a Grand Slam title?

JOHN McENROE:  The Olympics started to get some recognition, this is just my opinion, when Agassi won in ’96, he had not really done a whole lot that year for his standards.  He showed that it meant a lot to him, and I think that raised some eyebrows with players that up to that time, and following it even, a lot of the top players, maybe half the top players, if not more, didn’t play.

 

So each Olympics that’s gone by, I think you’ve seen more top players play, perhaps at the expense of Davis Cup, for example.  They picked and choose, and realize it’s only one week or ten days and now it’s one week and they have cut it to two‑out‑of‑three, and there’s something beautiful about the Olympics.

 

I think in the future, there to be a decision made, in my opinion, they should elevate it; if we are going to play it, we should elevate it to something that’s as big as the Grand Slams, which I don’t think it is.   I mean, I know points‑wise, it’s considered to be behind 14 other tournaments, the four Majors and the ten Masters Series.  I find that ludicrous.  But I don’t think that at this point, even though it was nice for Murray and it was a boost at Wimbledon that it’s at the level of the four slams.

 

And it would have to be determined by the powers that be or the players, whether it’s 2016 or 2020, that this will count as a fifth Grand Slam, as an example.  So that in the history books, when you count how many Grand Slams people have won, it would include the Olympics.  Well, maybe you can’t do that.  But to me, that’s the only way it would truly be at the same level as the other slams.

Q.  John, are you looking forward to the exhibition game with Adam Sandler, and how much practice is involved with you and Adam with that?  Will you and Adam be practicing?

JOHN McENROE:  Hopefully.  He may need a little more practice than I do, I’m just guessing.  But yeah, I’m looking forward to it.  It’s going to be fun.  It’s Thursday night, Wednesday or Thursday, that’s right before men’s quarters and that’s a big time for our men as it winds down to the top couple players.

 

PATRICK McENROE:  Let me just say, John, since he won’t be able to be in the broadcast booth for that match, I’m hoping Will Ferrell will come up and join me.

 

JOHN McENROE:  Well, you know, you may know this, Pat, Will was originally involved but I guess he decided he would rather broadcast a match with you.  They have got Kevin James, who obviously he’s got a sense of humor, too, and Adam.  So I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.  If I don’t break too much of a sweat, I’ll try to get up there for that match with you.

Q.  Have you ever played with him before?  Are you friends?

JOHN McENROE:  I would like to consider myself a friend.  He’s been nice enough to put me in for his movies, not regularly by any means.  I would like to consider myself as a friend to some degree.  Think he’s a great guy.  But I have not been on a tennis court with him, never.

Q.  That is exciting and we are looking forward to that.

JOHN McENROE:  I’ll be nervous but I’ll be less nervous than him in this case, because there will probably be 10,000 or 15,000, and I’m a little more used to it on a tennis court than he is.  Hopefully I won’t be the one to lay an egg but I’m confident that we’re going to get it done.

 

THE MODERATOR:  For folks who are not familiar with what they are talking about, the second Thursday of the tournament, 7:00 on ESPN2, Adam Sandler and John will team against Kevin James and Jim Courier in an exhibition doubles match for charity, and comedian Colin Quinn will be the chair umpire and will no doubt have his hands full.

Q.  A lot of players are doing better these days it seems, after the age of 30.  How does a pro train, eat and compete differently when you get to that point of your career and draw back on your own histories, if you could.

JOHN McENROE:  Well, I’ll start.  I wasn’t one of those guys that got better with age, so I do sort of look at what’s happening today and sort of feel like, wow, it would be good to be sort of around a time where you have more knowledge about the training, the best training to do on and off the court, what to eat, how to recover, etc.

 

And so you see basically players with teams around him now.  And so that every little detail is executed to the highest possible degree; and it sort of would be nice to feel like at a later age ‑‑ I think that in a nutshell, is because of the knowledge and the ability to sort of make decisions pretty quickly that will help the player, a, improve, or b, recover, is why you saw more 30‑year‑olds and older than ever playing at Wimbledon this year.

I think that’s good because you are able to appreciate even more what you’ve accomplished and better able to handle what goes along with it.  So I’m actually happy to see that this is becoming more of a trend than ever.

 

PATRICK McENROE:  I would just add to that that I think it’s not only the top, top players; that obviously can afford to have a coach and trainer and hitting partner, but it’s players that are not even necessarily at the top, top of the game.  Tommy Haas obviously was a Top‑5 player, but even guys below him, you know, are still playing into their early 30s that don’t have a full‑time.

 

I think that’s just realizing the off‑court training is more important as you get older, taking care of your body, doing the off‑court fitness, stretching.  So get to the point where the tennis side of it isn’t as important as the hours that you spend on the court.  But I think a lot of these players spend as much time, if not more, sort of preparing to play, preparing to practice, and doing off‑court work to keep their bodies as fit as possible.  I think it’s great for tennis but it’s not great for the young guys trying to break in.  It used to be that 17, 18, 19 years old, you were breaking through and winning Majors.  Now, you can barely get a teenager in the top hundred in the men’s game.

Q.  Specifically to Roger, what has he done both on the court and from what you may know off the court, his training, to maintain this level?

JOHN McENROE:  I don’t know the specifics of that, but I do know that Roger was someone who trained a lot harder than people realise.  He had a place in the Far East, the Middle East, excuse me, in Dubai, and trained in extreme conditions, hot conditions.  And I’m going under the assumption to some degree, but I don’t know this for sure, exactly what Patrick said is what he’s doing.  He’s maximizing sort of his off‑court training to subsidize what he does on the court, because his body ‑‑ he would be a perfect example to test out, because he’s 31 and he’s now participating, I believe, in his 52nd consecutive major.  So if there’s ever a guy to look at and see what he’s doing, that should be studied for sure.

 

PATRICK McENROE:  Obviously what makes Federer so great, obviously his ability, his talent, but his work ethic and his ability to brush off both the wins and the losses.  That’s what’s been to me the most amazing thing that he’s had these sort of crushing losses in big matches, whether it was Djokovic last year in the Open where he could easily look back and say, man, a couple of swings here or there, and I would have 21 majors.

 

But he somehow managed to just let it happen, no big deal, I’m moving on, I’ll playing well; he never dwells on either the negative or the positive.  I think he certainly uses the positive when he gets on a roll and gets the confidence going.              That’s why I think coming into this year’s Open, he’s going to be very, very tough to beat, because I feel like he’s playing with more confidence than he’s had in a couple of years.  Obviously when he didn’t have the utmost of confidence, you could still play him as the No. 2 or No. 3 player in the world.

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Davis Cup: Looking Back at US vs France in 2002 at Roland Garros

Tennis Panorama News will be covering the Davis Cup quarterfinal tie this weekend between the United States and France being held at the Monte Carlo Country Club. We’re taking a look back at  past ties between the two countries.

 

2002 US Davis Cup Team (L-R Todd Martin, James Blake, Mardy Fish, Andy Roddick and Captain Patrick McEnroe)

By Guillaume Willecoq

 

2002, Davis Cup semifinals in Roland-Garros  (September 20-22) : France d. USA 3/2.

The French Tennis Federation pays tribute to the Musketeers hosting the tie in Roland-Garros. In the beginning, the French stadium was built in 1928 to receive the United States after the Musketeers won their first Davis Cup in Philadelphia. Seventy-five years later, France and USA face each other again at Roland-Garros.

 

The players:

France: The team built by Guy Forget is the current champion, and the captain brings the best line up possible: Sébastien Grosjean, 9th, as the leader, followed by Arnaud Clément, 42nd. The doubles team is a young Michaël Llodra with the almost veteran Fabrice Santoro. On clay, French players are the favorites of this tie.

 

USA: Since his arrival at the head of the US team, in 2000, Patrick McEnroe makes the choice of bringing new blood to the team. For this tie against France, he lines up three young guns: Andy Roddick (11th), James Blake (27th) and Mardy Fish (88th). The last guy is Todd Martin (still 51th), veteran of the glorious 90’s for the US tennis. The view from France – Roddick and Blake are a scary duo, with loads of potential! In seven matches, Roddick is still undefeated in Davis Cup.…

 

The tie :

Clément d. Roddick 4/6 7/6 7/6 6/1

Grosjean d. Blake 6/4 6/1 6/7 7/5

Blake - Martin d. Santoro – Llodra 2/6 7/6 2/6 6/4 6/4

Grosjean b. Roddick 6/4 3/6 6/3 6/4

Blake b. Clément 6/4 6/3

 

The quotes :

Sébastien Grosjean : “Before, I was struggling to give my best in Davis cup. I wanted to do too well for all the team and I didn”t play my best tennis. This time, I think this tie between France and USA was my best performance. I tried to play for myself on court, and only after I shared my joy with the rest of the team. It helps me to focus on myself on the court.”

Andy Roddick: “It hurts me. I’ve lived so many things not very funny this week, new sensations for me, and I will have to learn from it. Now, I think I will be better prepared to play difficult matches in Davis Cup… But the atmosphere here was absolutely fantastic. I hope some day I will live that with the US team !”

Arnaud Clément: “There is nothing more exciting than playing this match against Andy. I knew that if could run well, I would neutralize him on the baseline, and eventually drive him nuts !”

James Blake: ”It”s the biggest deception of my life. Really, losing a match in Davis Cup breaks your heart, particularly because I had my chances. I never felt so bad, but now I’m going home and try to forget. I look forward to do something well in this team in the future. It’s when I lose like this that I really want to go back to work harder. I’m going to do the gym.…It will look less painful than before.” 

Fabrice Santoro: “I would say that those kind of matches are the ones I enjoy the most. I really had fun during this doubles, even if we lost. You enter the Central of Roland-Garros, your team leads 2/0, the Central is packed from the start… There is something in the air!”

Michaël Llodra : “This loss against the Americans in doubles really hurt me a lot. The press said it was my fault if we lost, that maybe I shouldn’t have play, that I lacked experience. I took everything in the face and it took me sometime to get over it. But I bounced back… Since 2003, I was never out the team. It”s Davis Cup! There is a lot of pressure. It has made me stronger. “

 

Todd Martin – The End: Does he know? Probably. This France/USA tie is the last selection of the long career of Todd Martin. The American, who won the Davis Cup in 1995, is here to bring his experience for his young fellows. I did the perfect job during the doubles, with James Blake. The veteran made a strong impression about his knowledge and tennis culture in his news conferences, citing Decugis, Lacoste and Cochet as legends of the French tennis.

 

After that :

In December, in Bercy, the French will lose the final against the Russians. The end of a great period for that team: Guy Forget gets his first critics about the selection of young Paul-Henri Mathieu for the last rubber; the French captain splits with Fabrice Santoro a few months later; and, little by little, Escudé, Grosjean and Clément step down from the team during the following campaigns, to let young Richard Gasquet, Gael Monfils and then Jo-Wilfried Tsonga take over. Three time finalist in four years between 1999 and 2002, it will take 8 years for the French team to reach another final.

On the other hand, this tie starts a new chapter for the US team. Roddick and Blake take the lead of the group, joined by Bob and Mike Bryans in 2003. They will be the hard core team for almost ten years, occasionally joined by Mardy Fish. They will reach the final in 2004, and most of all win the title in 2007.

Tennis Panorama News is covering the Davis Cup between the United States and France this week taking place at the Monte Carlo Country Club from April 6-8.  Look out for updates here and on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

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Jamie Reynolds of ESPN on Approach Shots

Jamie Reynolds (Photo by Rich Arden/ESPN)

Tennis Panorama News had the unique opportunity to visit the ESPN broadcast compound  and spend time in the control room in Melbourne during coverage of the Australian Open back in January. Senior Vice President of Event Production for ESPN Jamie Reynolds took time out from his extremely hectic schedule to speak to us about the logistics, technologies, philosophy and personalities of ESPN’s Australian Open coverage.

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News: How are the logistics of planning different for the Australian Open versus the other slams?

Jamie Reynolds: The way that we approach the Australian Open is similar in the way we do all four majors. And ESPN is unique in the aspect that we literally take apart our entire operation, our entire family, our entire circus and we take it three continents and an island.

We go to Australia and then go on to Paris, we then go up to the UK for Wimbledon and them back down to New York at the end of the summer. The nine month rip is pretty aggressive. So we probably pick up 115 people, and literally land on these hotspots for these events, move them in for three weeks. And I think we are probably the largest broadcaster who does all four majors at that level of commitment or the magnitude of the production assets that we bring. So it’s pretty challenging.

The biggest thing, the hardest thing for us, relative to the Australian Open, candidly is that we are upside down on the time zone to our audience and the fact that we don’t start until 9pm and we run the overnight hours, that’s great, but when we are trying to grow the sport, it’s a little challenging. How do you get people to stay up all night long or want to get invested, either TIVO, record, DVR the matches, because they are that much of a tennis fanatic to take advantage of what we are doing versus what they getting immediately either texting, news reports, Morning wheel of the news, they can get all that social currency to get up to steam.

So our challenge really, for this particular event is probably more editorial that logistic.

 

TPN: What is the biggest technological challenge in covering the Australian Open?

JR: This event is technically, is one of the easier events for us to handle technically. We’ve got a partnership going with Channel 7 Australia, who is also the host broadcaster. So ESPN comes in and effectively we are a world feed embellisher. We put our own character, our own personality, our own voices, graphics, music. Pick the asset that can actually tailor the world feed presentation to look and feel like a standard ESPN product.

So perhaps our biggest challenge is what if we don’t necessarily agree with you on covering a match? Or perhaps the isolation plan for Tomic or for Federer or for Roddick or for Rafa perhaps. That assignment of cameras may not be perhaps the level or the rate or philosophy that we might bring to a match. So how do we cover that chasm?

Technology wise we continue to push the envelope by bringing assets like the Spidercam, the aerial system that you see out on Rod Laver, that’s a device that we on ESPN brought to the tennis world and introduced at the majors at the US Open three years ago, convinced Tennis Australia, Channel 7 that it might enhance their coverage, convinced all the parties to come together and bring it down and fly through Rod Laver.

This year we’ve been very aggressive in trying to help Channel 7 understand how that could be an asset to enhance the coverage package. I think that everyday we chip away at it and get a little bit bolder with its flight pattern and we kind of rely on it a little bit more. I think that it enhances the value of its coverage.

 

TPN: Now that we are down to one American left in the singles draw, what are your angles going to be?

JR: Without the Americans doing well for the first time in the open era and not get to the round of 16, that’s challenging for us. Because we’ve got a lot of personalities and lot of what we do look at from the access to a lot of these players, what the interest is back home. Our particular productions have migrated to a new way of thinking. Specifically this is truly an international event with so many great personalities form around the globe, and because we do reach a lot of countries with ESPN, we think a little bit broader in how we are actually in going after a Hewitt story, a Roger or a Rafa or a Raonic or Tomic and any of the ladies as well.

That our goal now is to make that as personable, as desirable, in terms of wanting to understand the back story, getting our audience invested inn them, just trying to figure out the best way to convey that to our audience so they don’t mind that there are no Americans. We don’t have to put the red, white and blue all the time but there’s really great tennis out there that is fun.

 

TPN: Any new technology being implemented at this year’s Australian Open.

JR: The Australian mindset is very unique. They are gregarious fun loving good folks down here. They tend to be incredibly open-minded in terms of progressive introductions of new ideas to help convey the event and one of the initiatives they’ve helped us achieve is what we call our behind-the-scenes franchise. And that behind-the-scenes franchise as effectively as I describe to our teams is this: “Take behind the velvet ropes. Give me discovery and access. Take me places I couldn’t get to if I had a ticket or if I had the ability to watch every hour of what ESPN puts out, I need to feel like I actually in the event and going somewhere where no one else can go.”

And with that kind of mindset and philosophy with Tennis Australia, “where can you give us access to?” Well we can go to the workout room, we can go to the locker room, we can go to the hallways, the waiting rooms for the players, the player lounges. We can go to the car park area, where a lot of them just go and out their headsets on and just get into a zone and just kind of shut the world out to deconstruct their match. They’re very open-minded, progressive in terms of allowing that access. With that comes the ability to kind of shape the way we convey this event as opposed to just a rectangle on a screen, two players back and forth, three-hit rally or a 17-hit rally. It’s a little sexier, a little bit more valuable, more attractive presentation. I actually feel like I’m part of it, a part of the community, behind the velvet ropes and going somewhere where I couldn’t even go if I were on site.

 

TPN: What would surprise tennis fans about being behind the scenes?

JR: There’s an incredible amount of camaraderie and I think that what doesn’t convey that whether it’s the ATP or the WTA, these athletes and personalities do travel the circuit week after week and what you actually see behind-the-scenes is the feeling of family amongst the players themselves. As combative or as aggressive as they can be with each other out on a court there is sincere appreciation, chemistry, commitment to one another, whether they are having a good year or a poor year. There’s respect but there is a dynamic that these athletes share with each other. It’s not as adversarial as it might convey over an 11-hour show window where we are just showing guys beating back and forth with each other.

 

TPN: What is a typical day for you and the talent?

JR: This is probably the most challenging because of the sheer number of hours that we televise. When we say first ball to final ball, it is a very solid commitment to coverage of the most important matches from front end to back end. That really requires commitment of literally hours per day. So when you look at the first ball starting at 11am and often times ending like New York ending after Midnight, if not later, keeping people motivated through that 14-day stand is challenging. And with a roster of  personalities, our talent roster, keep them enthusiastic, keeping them invested and focused on being “on” for that 10 hours a day waiting for a match, getting ready for one that is coming up tonight,  and you really gotta go through your head for 2 hours and come back with the same enthusiasm, that’s challenging. You are asking a lot of people.

So what happens behind the scenes to help that? It’s the sense of community, family and respect for each other we all try to create. This isn’t just a group of specialists, assassins coming into do a single job. We’ve got to keep everybody working with the chemistry and taking advantage of that. So we’ll rotate teams. You might see Chris Evert working with Pam Shriver today or you will see Patrick McEnroe and Darren (Cahill) or Patrick and Chris Fowler so we can actually keep them involved with each other because they don’t have to always rule out “ Oh God I’m just sitting with my partner for this match and I’m doing every single match him for the next 14 days.” It changes up the dinner table a little bit.

 

TPN: Who are the practical jokers behind the scenes?

JR: I think that those in the tennis community and those of us who are running the sport know what kind of personality a Brad Gilbert brings. And we know, we look loving and fondly at Cliff Drysdale. He’s the godfather of our team, the elder statesman. As a perspective, he is the longest running talent on ESPN, bar none. He’s been with us since 1979, so we look at that history, having done Davis Cup that year, he is the man who is the franchise longer than anyone.

And then you look at Darren Cahill. Cahill with the Aussie wit, terrific personality. Patrick McEnroe, that’s pretty good – an acerbic wit. And McEnroe has a pretty good timbre to work with. Look at the gals – Mary Joe (Fernandez) and Pammy (Shriver) are well respected. Pammy can be polarizing, she’s got a great personality, she will go off on a flyer and make us all laugh and look at things a way many of us would never think about. She connects the dots on a lot of different stories and a lot of personalities. So that’s kind of like a really valuable spark. It’s a good roster.

Follow ESPN’s tennis coverage on ESPN2, ESPN3.com, on twitter @ESPNTennis and @ESPN10S and online on their tennis home page.

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Kourtin’ Karen’s Tennis Week in Review

Kourtin’ Karen’s tennis week in review for the week ending February 19, 2012

Roger Federer, Richard Krajicek and Juan Martin Del Potro

0- 15

Politics makes strange bedfellows

Rotterdam Tournament Director and former Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek was a candidate for the top executive spot at the ATP. Although Rafael Nadal  supported the Dutchman’s candidacy for the ATP CEO post, Roger Federer was against it citing that he needed more business experience.

Imagine what Krajicek must have been thinking when he had give Federer the winner’s check for capturing the Rotterdam title.

In other Federer-related news, much ado about nothing? Last weekend many media outlets in addition to journalists on and off twitter reported statements made by Federer about Stan Wawrinka during Davis Cup after the Swiss lost the doubles and the tie to the US. I saw so many different versions of the quote translated in so many different ways and “quoted” in so many different ways that you can’t believe anyone.  The quote in question – “I played a good doubles, and Stan not a bad one.” But once the quote was translated into English “not a bad one” erroneously became “a bad one.”

People get quoted and misquoted so often and not just in tennis that I think it needs to become mandatory for every news conference to have official transcripts for all to see and/or official recordings for people to hear.

 

15-15

Sharapova and Linsanity

“Linsanity” found its way into Friday’s BNP Paribas Showdown conference call with Maria Sharapova thanks to a question from a New York Post reporter:

Q:  I know you’ve been in town for a while at fashion week – have you heard of “Linsanity?” If you have heard of it, what do you make of this phenomenon?

Maria Sharapova:  I was at fashion week for a couple of days and he didn’t quite make it to the fashion world yet.  I didn’t get a chance, I was so busy over there with meetings and the shows.  I did see the coverage of your paper a few times walking by and you guys are all on top of that.  It’s pretty incredible and I’m sure he’s enjoying all of that.  To see a great athlete up and coming, especially in New York and Madison Square Garden, I’m sure it’s a lot to write about.

In other BNP Paribas Showdown news, John McEnroe has been named spokesperson for “Tennis Night In America,” no word if he’ll change his name to Lin for the occasion.

15-30

Love your slamless no. 1’s

Victoria Azarenka told media in Doha last week not to be too hard on slamless No. 1’s. “Well, you know, I think you guys, it’s your job to say that, to evaluate, to give grades. Our job is to play and win matches. Whatever people say, I mean, I appreciate if I’m a legit No. 1, but I think they shouldn’t be too hard on the other girls, as well.”

No word on any comments coming from Caroline Wozniacki, Jelena Jankovic or Dinara Safina.

Speaking of slamless No. 1’s, Wozniacki has the “tough loss of the week” falling in the second round of Doha after having three match points.

 

30-30

Nadal in the SI Swimsuit Issue

Rafael Nadal appears in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue with model Bar Refaeli

 

30-40

Ankles and knees causing players grief

Kim Clijsters has withdrawn from the BNP Paribas Open with an ankle injury which she suffered during the Australian Open.

Serena Williams is not playing in Monterrey this week due to an ankle injury.

Both Gael Monfils and Marin Cilic are out of Memphis with knee problems.

Deuce

Debate on USTA Player Development

Wayne Bryan’s letter about USTA player development

Wayne Bryan Responds to Patrick McEnroe’s letter

 

Ad-out

Grunting

Chris Evert has joined the “anti grunting” campaign.

Current player Ryan Harrison told media at the SAP Open some kids at the Nick Bollettieri Academy are “a lot more [noisy] than they need to be. If you have a 7-year-old girl grunting louder than I can scream in my entire life, that’s not really necessary.”

 

Deuce

Love and Tennis on the Titanic

Titanic: The Tennis Love Story to be released in April.

 

Advantage new sponsor

Emirates Airline is the new title sponsor of the US Open Series

 

Deuce

Show me the money?

Arantxa Sánchez Vicario’s parents have decided to sue their daughter who has written a book in which she claims that her parents lost her $60 million dollars of her career earnings. “They left me with nothing and I owe the tax authorities,” said Sánchez Vicario.

Deuce

Inside Tennis Channel’s fight with Comcast – Variety

 

Advantage

Topsy Turvy Tournament
In Bogota this past week the top eight seeds were all knocked out by the second round. No seeds were left by the quarterfinals. Unseeded Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino of Spain won the tournament.

Game, Set, Match and Champions

Federer Wins Rotterdam for 71st ATP World Tour Title

Azarenka Wins Doha, Moves to 17-0 for 2012

Raonic Defends San Jose Title

Third Brazil Open Title for Almagro

Arruabarrena-Vecino Ranked 174th Captures Bogota Tournament

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Patrick McEnroe to Donald Young: Apologize

On Friday Donald Young directed a curse-filled message at the USTA on his Twitter after falling to Tim Smyczek in the final of the USTA French Open Wild Card Playoff.

“F*** USTA! Their full of s***! They have screwed me for the last time!”

Right afterward Young tweeted:

“That tweet was out of character. ive never been like that before. but im tired of it. sry about the language, but not the thought behind it.

…and deleted his twitter page shortly after the post.

 

On Monday, the USTA General manager of Player Development- Patrick McEnroe held a media conference call  to talk about the USTA’s French Open Wild Card playoff tournaments. Partial transcripts provided by Fastscripts by ASAP Sports.

Patrick McEnroe‘s opening statement:

After Donald won the Tallahassee challenger, which was the week just before the playoff, about three days before the competition was to take place, we received at Player Development an email from Donald Young, Sr. asking us to give Donald a wildcard for the French Open.

We, of course, elected not to do that because that would be going against the principles of what we have established: having the players earn it. Despite the fact that Donald had made a jump up into the top 100 on the latest rankings, those of you in the tennis world know that his ranking wasn’t high enough to get him directly into the French Open. So we went ahead with the playoff as we felt obviously was the right decision for us.

So when Donald made his comments on Twitter, I was obviously taken quite aback by the language and also by the intent of what he said in his comments. His subsequent comment came before he took down his Twitter account that he apologized for his language, but not for the message behind it. When I read that, I thought a lot about the time and effort that our team at Player Development has put into Donald in trying to help him reach his potential. This call isn’t to debate necessarily what it means to help a player, et cetera. I can just tell you that we have worked hard and long to try to help him. And I think he was making quite a bit of progress based on the amount of time he spent with our team in the last six months at a couple of our centers, including Carson and Boca.

I want to just for the record let you people on this call know some of the actual help that Donald Young has received from the USTA over the years. This predates my term as the General Manager of Player Development.

I can go back to 2005 when one of our coaches, Mike Sell, spent about six months on the road traveling with Donald to the Australian Open juniors, to the Easter Bowl, to the Italian Open juniors, to the French Open, et cetera. I can go to 2006 where he periodically spent time with some various coaches on the staff. In 2007 David Nainkin was essentially exclusively Donald’s coach for basically the entire year. David spent 20 weeks on the road that year working exclusively with Donald. He didn’t work with any other players at that time. This was before we had a full-time program that was dedicated to helping our pro players and our juniors out in Carson, which is a little bit different than it is now. That year, at the end of that year, Donald reached a career high in his ranking. Starting in 2008, Donald spent the first few months of the year again with Mike Sell who wrote some detailed reports of Donald and what he thought that he could do to reach his potential, one of which was something that I repeated in a letter that I wrote to Donald about a year and a half ago. It’s funny because I was reading Michael’s notes from three years ago, and he essentially used some of the exact same language, which was that we felt Donald should be in a competitive training environment as much as possible. We didn’t think that was happening on a regular basis.

After that, Ricardo Acuña spent about the next four months working exclusively with Donald.

This is again in 2008. In 2009, Donald spent a few weeks training with Jose Higueras, who at that point had just recently been appointed Director of Coaching. Jose took a personal interest in Donald, working up a plan and a routine for him. In 2010 Donald spent quite a bit of time on the road with Hugo Armando, a coach no longer with our program, and also received a wildcard that year into the Houston event, which was a USTA event, into the US Open for the fourth time in singles. He received a wild card into Atlanta, into Cincinnati, and into New Haven. Just for the record, Donald Young has received 13 US Open wildcards in his career, four of which were in singles, main draw singles, two of which he won because he won the junior championships, one of which in doubles he won because he won the doubles championships. So he’s received a total of six doubles wildcards, two mixed wildcards, four singles, and one in the qualifying of singles.

In the past year, we felt that Donald made some significant strides. He spent two and a half weeks with our team out in Carson, including with David Nainkin, who has gone on to have a very successful coaching run in the last couple years with Sam Querrey and Mardy Fish, and also our strength and conditioning man out there, Rodney Marshall, who spent quite a bit of time with Donald in December and also throughout the beginning of this year where we had David helping him in

Australia, we had Rodney helping him there, we had David again leaving the tournament in San Jose early where Sam Querrey was still in doubles to go be at the qualifying for Donald in Memphis. Donald also, when he came back from Australia, spent about eight days at our center in Boca training with Jay Berger, our head of men’s coaching. That is really just a snapshot of some of the help that Donald has received in the last six years. Again, quite a bit of this predates my start here as the GM of Player Development.

From the media conference call:

Q. What does Donald Young at this point have to do to get back into your good graces and become a part of the program again?

 

Patrick McEnroe: It’s not even my good graces. This isn’t personal. This is about apologizing, number one, okay? We deal with a lot of different scenarios. Most of the time, if not all the time, we keep it internal, we try to deal with it. We understand there’s coaches involved, whether they’re personal coaches, whether they’re parents, et cetera. We want to do the best we can for there to be a two-way street.

We’re not going to sit here and dictate everything that has to be done. At the same time we’re not going to be dictated to either.

You can’t come to me and tell me, Here is what I want and here is what you need to do for me. Unfortunately, I think there’s way too many people out there that think that’s what we’re here to do. We’re not here to do that.

We’re here to help our players with the resources that the USTA has given Player Development, which is a part of the USTA. We want to be accountable for our program and for what we’re doing. For us to be accountable, obviously the more influence and the more control we have over what the player’s doing, the better we feel about where we’re going with that player. Again, that doesn’t mean we have all the answers, that there’s not another way to do it. Sure, there are plenty other ways to do it. But we want to be working in a relationship that’s a two-way street.

Read the entire transcript here.

 

Update as of April 26 – the LA Times reported that Donald Young issued apologies on Monday night to at least two members of USTA Player Development – David Nainkin and Jay Berger.

 

Update as of April 26th – the LA Times reported that Donald Young has apologized to  Patrick McEnroe.

http://t.co/HM0oJvo

From the LA Times:

Donald Young spoke publicly for the first time Tuesday about his obscenity-laced outburst on Twitter last Friday. In his Twitter message, Young ranted about his perceived treatment and the way the United States Tennis Assn. determined who would get the U.S. wild card into the main draw of next month’s French Open.

Young angered Patrick McEnroe, head of the USTA player development program, as well as national coaches Jay Berger and David Nainkin with his characterizations of the USTA.

On Tuesday, Young said, “I apologize for the way I said what I said. [Twitter] wasn’t the right place to say it.

“It was a disagreement about the way the wild card was handled. It’s their decision and the way they did it, that’s their right.”

Young, who called Berger and Nainkin with apologies Monday, said he and McEnroe had exchanged text messages Tuesday. “Patrick says that everybody’s good,” Young said.

Read the rest here

 

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Gracias, Bogota by Junior Williams

 

Gracias, Bogota

 

By Junior Williams
I had a lot on my mind as my flight from Miami touched down at Bogota,Colombia’s El Dorado Airport Wednesday afternoon. Most prominent was whether or not I would regret my maiden voyage to South America.
A number of my tennis fan friends chose to skip the Davis Cup World Group Play-off between the United States and Colombia, citing U.S. State Department travel warnings and Bogota’s reputation for crime which goes back to the drug wars of the late 20th century.

When a driver from my hotel picked me up and engaged me in conversation -being nice enough not to ridicule my lack of fluency in Spanish – it was definitely a sign of things to come: Bogota is one of the friendliest cities I have ever visited.

I decided to spend my six days and five nights in the La Candelaria section of central Bogota, full of 300-year old colonial buildings,university students and narrow streets. My room at the Hotel Ambala was only $42 a night in U.S. currency, and the staff at the hotel made me feel very much at home.
The trade-off: A very small room with a bathroom you have to squeeze into,and the pulsating beat of bars and nightclubs into the wee hours of the morning. A far cry from the upscale JW Marriott in northern Bogota where the U.S. Davis Cup team is staying, but I’ll take the charm of La Candelaria any day of the week. 

 

 


National Capital building at Plaza de Bolivar

 

 


 

My American friend and I have been walking all over Bogota, from the Plaza de Bolivar – home of the national capital building – to the Plaza de Toros la Santamaria, the bullring hosting the Davis Cup. In this city that’s more than 8,600 feet above sea level, I can understand why many cited altitude as a big challenge for the U.S. team. We did lots of huffing and puffing in the hilly parts of Bogota.

 

 


Transmilenio/Museo de Oro station

 

 


When we weren’t walking, we took the Trans Milenio — a rapid transit bus system masquerading as a subway. It’s a good way to see other parts of the city, with mountain tops looking down over the metropolis.

Bogota is also the home of cheap and tasty eats, where you can get breakfasts and lunches for as little as $2 to $5 US (1800 Colombian Pesos= $1United States). Empanadas, tamales in banana leaves, and sizzling meats are just the tip of the iceberg. Dinners are also inexpensive, but don’t wait too late to go out for a meal. Very few restaurants are open past8pm.
Carrera 7 was a pleasant surprise on Friday night . No cars allowed. It was like a street fair for several blocks.

As far as safety is concerned, there is a heavy police presence in Bogota.It’s not unusual to see officers with muzzled dogs patrolling the streets.

The homeless are very savvy. Expect one of them to come to you and ask for change right after you purchase something on the street.

 

 


View of Bogota from Monserrate peak

 

 


While dining in a restaurant, I met a retiree who left Chicago to live in Bogota. I asked him for the must-see spots in the city. He mentioned Monserrate, a mountain top where a white church overlooks the Colombian capital.

I took his advice, and the views were breathtaking.
 

 


Monserrate Sanctuary

 

 

Since we were dining, he also gave me some “tips” on tipping, which is not customary in Bogota (though some eating establishments have service charges). He said if you want to give a tip, give it directly to the waiter or waitress. If you leave it on the table, anyone can take the money.
He also said Colombians are some of the nicest and most generous people you’ll ever meet. “If you ask for one thing, they’ll give you two or three.”
He went on to say that Bogota’s reputation as the most dangerous capital city in the world is unjustified.

I couldn’t agree more. Even when I was walking down crowded streets wearing clothes that screamed out I am an American, I’d get smiles,welcoming gestures and strike up friendly conversations with Bogotanos. 

 

 

I didn’t get a chance to see all of the hot spots here, such as the Museo del Oro which I hear is wonderful, but I’ll have plenty of fond memories of Colombia, and not just because of the tennis.
Gracias, Bogota! 

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the US home ties. He was in Bogota reporting for Global Village Tennis News covering the US vs Colombia Davis Cup tie.

Davis Cup: Fish Keeps U.S. in World Group By Junior Williams

Bogota Bonus: Some Observations on Davis Cup by Junior Williams

Switch to Fish Completes a Winning Dish by Junior Williams

“Uncle Sam is in Trouble” – USA and Colombia at 1-1 on Day One of the Davis Cup World Group Play-offs by Junior Williams

 

 

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Davis Cup: Fish Keeps U.S. in World Group By Junior Williams


Davis Cup: Fish Keeps U.S. in World Group
Clinches Victory in 5-set Thriller Over Colombia
By Junior Williams

 


BOGOTA – Mardy Fish wore red, white and blue today — but red wasn’t part of the plan.
The American’s blood-stained shirt was indicative of the battle he was in, as he led the United States to a 3-6 6-3 7-5 4-6 8-6 victory over Santiago Giraldo and Colombia at the Plaza de Toros la Santamaria,giving the U.S. a 3-1 lead and clinching its return to the Davis Cup World Group
Fish, who injured his hand during a fall in the match, played almost 11 hours of tennis total against the Colombians, and is the first American to win three rubbers in a Davis Cup tie since Pete Sampras in 1995’s championship against Russia.
The result also gives outgoing U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe his final victory after ten years at the helm, while denying Colombia its first-ever advance to the top tier.
The first set was controlled by Giraldo, who was winning the long rallies, going from serve to serve at a rapid pace, and dancing on the baselines like a boxer going for the knockout. Fish ended up double faulting away the set.
The momentum switched to Fish in the second set, as his overhead smash broke Giraldo’s serve to give the U.S. a 2-1 edge. Fish went on to win the set as he baffled Giraldo by mixing up the pace of his serves,and his drop shots exposed Giraldo’s weaknesses at the net.
Things really heated up in the third set with Giraldo serving at 5-6, when the umpire’s controversial overturn of a line call resulted in a double set point for Fish instead of 30-30. After protesting the call along with his captain Felipe Beron, an angry Giraldo promptly double faulted, giving the set to Fish.
Still fuming over the call while playing in the fourth set, Giraldo eventually shook it off and got his game back on track, helped in part by Fish constantly knocking backhands into the net. The bullring crowd erupted into a frenzy when Giraldo tied the match at two sets apiece.
The fifth set was intense, with long rallies and great shot making by both players. Fish tried to shake things up by coming to the net, but Giraldo’s impressive passing shots foiled the American’s strategy.Fish’s erratic serving and backhands into the net eventually resulted in a 6-5 lead for Colombia, giving Giraldo an opportunity to serve out the match and set up a fifth and deciding rubber.
But Giraldo disappointed the hometown crowd by failing to close the deal, and Fish broke back, tying the set at 6-6. He held serve by staving off a pair of break points, and clinched the tie by breaking Giraldo in the final game.
Just minutes after the Americans celebrated on the court, it started pouring rain, as if the clouds were crying for the home team.The dead rubber was canceled.Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the US home ties. He was in Bogota for Global Village Tennis News covering the US vs Colombia Davis Cup tie.Gracias, Bogota by Junior Williams

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