stay, don’t go



By Jonathan Scott

Another brand of March Madness is upon us: With the unisex goodness that is the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells tournament, the 2011 pro tennis campaign kick-starts into high gear. This 1-2 punch of Cali and Miami makes for a full month of top-notch tennis. Indeed, spring’s done sprung.

Now a curious trend seeped into tennis again in 2010: jumpy observers of the sport seeking to retire players -– good, even great stars who reaped some solid results -– before they themselves are ready to hang up their racquets. The guilty parties: too many tennis writers and other observers and “personalities” involved to various degrees. Their victims? Among them, Andy Roddick, Venus Williams, and even Roger Federer, proving that not a single star is exempt from these hasty calls to exit.

But Roddick won Memphis last month, dousing the ballyhooed, raging fire that is young Milos Raonic and coming up with possibly the best championship-point winner ever. He also ignited his fellow Americans’ effort on the Chilean clay in Davis Cup, punctuating his clinching win with a scissor kick (Video: here) that would make Sally O’Malley salivate. Too many quickly forgot that Venus seized some early 2010 titles and vaulted to no. 2 in the world before injuries in part derailed both her autumnal and 2011 Aussie exploits. (Oddly, she’s now singing 311 karaoke on a MIA-to-Turks cruiseship and showing off some fly dance moves for someone with chronic knee issues.). Fed himself ran the table at the London year-end championships in December, outdoing even Rafael Nadal in the final, and snagged an early 2011 title before a taking-all-comers Novak Djokovic rolled over him in Melbourne.

Still, retirement happens. It’s inevitable. Justine Henin’s departure has itself turned into a piece of music with multiple movements, the strings swelling and falling at different points. Henin has been like that lover who breaks it off and then loiters for attention: Mercy. And merci.

All of the brouhaha catalyzed a thought: Who or what in the sport truly needs to go?

Without further ado, a few items –- persons, peccadillos, and other pesky minutiae –- that best get gone. Now. Conversely, some other talents and trends are welcome to get comfy. So there it is: Stay, or Go.

GO: Foremost, let’s be done with the freak injuries. Some stars are making the maladies on TV hospital dramas seem realistic: Victoria Azarenka scarily passed out on court after bopping her head during a warm-up run, and then Anna Chakvetadze did her best Vika impression. Meanwhile Andy Murray strained his hand by playing video games excessively (okay, that one proved a fib). It seems a few players just need to be grounded.

Granted, Serena’s recent pulmonary embolism/hematoma scare is more than legit. Anyone who relishes compelling tennis, even if no fan of hers, whether onlooker or media, can only hope she makes it back into the mix again. Tennis needs her fight and her bite. Not every player needs to be Mama Kim Clijsters, portrait of civility.

Speaking of, GO: Can we just be done with all the talk about Clijsters’ motherhood? Cute turned to precious in a hurry there, and not in a good way.

GO: That hand-strain hoax aside, Murray might want to consider tempering his video gaming: Girlfriend Kim Sears reportedly already broke up with him once over the habit. Word to the wise, young gun: the lady has you on watch.

Judy Murray, we heart thee.

GO. STAY. Good dog: Not to pick on the Murray familia too much (see below), but what of these tweets from the family’s resident cur, this Maggie? So let it be written, so let it be done: No more Murray mutt tweets, at least not until Andy bags that virgin Major. It’s no less lame to put your pet on Twitter than it is to fashion a Facebook profile for it.

STAY: Judy Murray, British tennis coach and mom to Andy and Jamie. Yes, she advises her son. She also isn’t afraid to shoot a witty retort at a former player who yaps about her spawn’s chances at winning big with her on board.

GO: Boris Becker. Just let it be, Boorish. You were a fine player, a flame-maned, serve-and-volley stud on grass. Then you knocked Murray and his mum for his underperforming at Slams, chiding him for his closeness to Judy and (good grief!) for standing by his girl at age 23. So a former player cheats on his pregnant wife with a Russian model (in a closet), resulting in a lust child, and then doles out unsolicited relational advice? Laughable. Not content to merely stand by his statements from the fall, BB waxed on again after Murray’s mopey, one-sided loss to Nole in the Aussie final. Sigh. Everyone’s a Carillo. Click to read more, kids. You don’t want to miss these musings.

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this year, no merry carillo-mas (on espn)



In his yearly Baggies post, where Sports Illustrated writer L. Jon Wertheim hands out the best (and worst)-of the year, he also compiles a list of latest happenings in the tennis world. Among them this year: a good-bye to “Mary Carillo on ESPN”. So what gives? Your guess is as good as ours. Oh, it’s just not going to be a Merry Carillo-mas!

(image via opencourt)

amelie, the holy and glowing one



Yes, we know Amelie Mauresmo is glowing in this picture. And no, it’s not the lighting. Or make up. Or video editing. It’s her natural glow. Her new, natural glow.

I caught a glimpse – well, a thousand glimpses – of Amelie at the US Open this week, and the gal hasn’t looked this good since she exorcized her demons at the 2006 Wimbledon and bowed to the tennis gods in thanks.

Here’s what we think Amelie’s secret is, now that she’s working for Eurosport and living the life of the rich and famous, with no pressure on her goddess-like shoulders:

Amelie doesn’t sleep at night, instead, she does yoga for two hour periods, only taking breaks to smell sunflowers that she grows on her windowsill, that – oddly enough, don’t get any sun – and she waters with red wine, exclusively. Each morning she wakes up and reads Eat, Pray, Love and then goes out and has gelato for lunch – usually pineapple berry with chocolate sorbetto – before returning to her lodge (yes, she lives in a lodge) and watches Eat, Pray, Love the movie, which she got boot-legged by Julia Roberts herself. As a favor for Amelie. In the afternoons she usually does gymnastic routines in a leotard onesie, something that Reebok would never let her wear. She has 17 such leotards. She’s sworn off coffee so she only drinks grapefruit juice, straining the pulp first and drinking it from a hollowed out coconut. Before bed… er, we mean her 8 hours of yoga… Amelie high-fives the poster she has hung over her loft bed. It looks like this:

That, folks, has produced such glowing. It’s a simple recipe. Try it.

(screengrab via facebook.com; getty images photo)

james speaks for hundreds of players, still can’t quiet pam



James Blake spoke out for hundreds of players who, over the last ten years, have heard Pam Shriver‘s voice carry on to the court, by shushing the ESPN correspondent today, but Shriver’s decibels didn’t drop after his initial rant.

While Blake was clearly irritated on his way to a three-set flop-out, he called out Shriver on being too loud while doing sideline commentary above Court 5. Shriver relays the details, but as she does so, she speaks at the same volume she had been the entire time, choosing to continue to get under the skin of the American. He let her know again how frustrated he was, and P-Shrive still couldn’t get a clue. (Click image to watch video.)

Later, we suspect, James received hundreds – if not thousands – of appreciative text messages from fellow players for his actions. He also, we (still) suspect, is crafting a Commentate-o-Meter to measure the decibels of on-court reporters. Shriver is expected to give Michelle Larcher de Brito a run for her high-pitched money.

(screen grab via youtube)

live blogging the FO (men’s) final



5:39 PM 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 Game, set, match, Nadal I’m pretty happy for Rafa and that win. He definitely deserved it. Congrats, big guy.

5:24 PM 6-4, 6-2, 5-3 Nadal Time for the Robin Soderling to pull out the gladiator armor. He’s neeeeeeeeding it.

5:07 PM 6-4, 6-2, 3-1 Nadal No, we have no idea who the junior champions are, either. And so much for Bode Miller‘s U.S. Open bid. Kind of rough for the USTA‘s number one story line to flame out in the first round. McEnroe is really doing his best to verbally route for Sod to take this to four or five.

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