Notes from SW19
Bits of news from around Wimbledon during the first week:
--The WTA has decided to delay its decision about on-court coaching indefinitely. The tour began allowing players to call designated coaches on court once per set at Montreal in 2006 and continued the “experiment” at Tier I and Tier II events since then, but after their board meetings this week shelved the final call until later.
Director of communications Andrew Walker told me that the players have had mixed feelings about it. Informal polling has shown no clear preference, and the Players’ Council has in fact voted both for and against it in recent months.
Walker said that broadcasters continue to see some value in it. Tour officials aren't sure whether they want to push forward with it unilaterally considering calendar changes in 2009 aimed at more combined events, coupled with efforts to align the men’s and woman’s circuits in all aspects of scheduling, rules, etc. “We are in favor of innovative, fan-friendly initiatives,” he said, even though after Wimbledon the testing will stop. "We need more time to think about it.”
--I spoke to Israelis Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram (again) following their comeback win from two sets down in the first round. The pair, who were supposed to play in Dubai and suspiciously pulled out at the last minute, are supposed to get written assurances from tournament organizers that, as Israelis, they are able to travel and play safely in the United Arab Emirates.
The deadline for said assurances is Wimbledon. They told me that they are still waiting to see the confirmation but remain hopeful to play in Dubai next year. I asked the ATP if they had received the assurances I was told they had. I have yet see it and I am waiting for them to turn up with it. By the way, the Australian Open champs and No. 3 seeds came through with another five-set win on Friday to advance to the last 16.
--Why has Andy Roddick been upset at Wimbledon the last three years? Read my lips: Break point opportunities. We tend to think the American lives and dies by his serve, but Roddick is a combined 4-30 in break point chances in his three Wimbledon losses in 2006-08, according to ATP stats guru Greg Sharko.
Against Andy Murray in ’06 he was 1-12.
Against Richard Gasquet in ’07 he was 3-10.
And of course in a stunningly diffident loss to Janko Tipsarevic yesterday, he went 0-8.
--Some players, notably Rafael Nadal, have complained publicly this week about Wimbledon's new stricter rules regarding locker-room access. Only one person per player is allowed in, meaning Nadal can’t have both his coach, Toni, and his physio in with him simultaneously. I asked James Blake about it after his second-round defeat and he didn’t seem too concerned. He said it was a “little annoying” that his physio had to make up his on-court drinks and pass them along to his brother, Thomas, in the locker room, but that he’s “just happy I have a physio here with me,” Blake said. “It’s the same for everyone.”
--Slumping Nicole Vaidisova was the first player into the fourth round Friday when she brushed aside Casey Dellacqua of Australia 6-2, 6-4. Vaidisova, who recently began working with former British pro David Felgate, hasn’t won three matches at a tournament since January.
--Justin Gimelstob’s increasingly notorious blog, in which he called Anna Kournikova a “bitch,” Tatiana Golovin a “sexpot” and Vaidisova a “well-developed young lady” got this response from Serena Williams Friday: “I think that those comments probably aren't necessary….But Anna is a great girl. For anyone to say that about her is kind of you know, what can I say? It's not professional. You know, it's just totally uncalled for. I mean, unless you really know these people, you talk to these people, you never know what people go through. It's not good to say those things about people.”