In a new weekly feature, I will use the weekends to take a look back at some of my favorite tennis writing of the week.
My Top 5 Tennis Reads of the Week:
1. “Time Between Points and Nadal-Djokovic Matches” by Anna of Let, Second Serve.
This is a must-read, in-depth, and stats-heavy look at one of the biggest topics in tennis–the length and pace of the Djokovic and Nadal matches. It’s invaluable to have actual numbers to back up the talk.
These statistics – 1:52 and 2:20 for 21 games – are clearly not enough by themselves, and seemed misleading to me. Taken to the extreme, if every game ends after 40-0 (or 0-40), the match will be much quicker than if every game goes to deuce. Therefore, I checked the number of points played in both matches, and was surprised to see them nearly equal – the 2013 Monte Carlo final had 139 points, and the 2012 Rome Final – 143 points. This piqued my interest, and I decided to compare all of the 34 Nadal-Djokovic matches in terms of the average elapsed time per point^ – the overall match length divided by the total number of points played.
2. “Avoiding Double Faults When It Matters” by Jeff Sackmann of Heavy Topspin.
An excellent took at the intricate relationship between double faults and pressure.
While there is surely some truth in the psychologizing–after all, Ernests Gulbis is in our sample–it is more likely that players manage their double fault rates by changing their second-serve approach. With a better than 9-in-10 chance of winning a game, why carefully spin it in when you can hit a flashy topspin gem into the corner? At break point, there’s no thought of gems, just fighting on to play another point.
3. “An interview with Dominik Schulz” by Foot Soldiers of Tennis.
This is a fantastic interview about the life in the Futures, as told by the No. 746 player in the world. A look at the finances of the tennis circuit has to include those who are really struggling as well.
So this may not make sense, or indeed raise a laugh, but if you spend any time with people involved on the Futures circuit, the badly constructed joke might go like this:
“How do you earn a living as a professional while trying to play on the Futures circuit?”
4. “A crazy career for Ernests Gulbis” by Kamakshi Tandon, ESPN.com.
Tandon offers a hysterical, insightful, and in-depth look at the Gulbis roller-coaster following his early exit in Monte-Carlo.
So what is it about Gulbis that attracts this kind of following? Well, no breed of player fascinates tennis watchers as much as the temperamental talents — big games, big personalities, but so little room for error, both in their psyches and their shot-making. They can beat anyone, and they can lose to anyone. And it’s the combination of excitement and faint danger that makes them so magnetic. It’s the tennis equivalent of shades and a motorbike.
5. “ATP has a lot to offer in clay buildup, but is anybody watching?” by Bruce Jenkins, Sports Illustrated.
Jenkins focuses on the ATP in this fantastic column about the clay season and the frequent woes of being a tennis fan.
What does it mean to be a devoted tennis fan these days? I feel like we’re all a bunch of smokers, huddled in a small room where we won’t bother any of the normal people. It’s downright uncool these days to generate real passion for any important stop on either tour. Like, “Really? You don’t have anything better to do?”
-Lara Arruabarrena has mono. Hopefully it’s more the Fed kind than the Soderling kind.
-Brian Baker has been cleared to practice “real tennis” again. Great news!
-Ivo Karlovic is recovering from viral meningitis (initially inaccurately reported as a mild stroke) in the hospital in Miami. We wish him the best.
Tweets I Loved:
@svenja_mastro me too 😉
— Stanislas Wawrinka (@stanwawrinka) April 26, 2013
Happy B-day to my girl!!
Amusing 2 me the huge deal of actresses sans makeup in People Mag. Why is this so newsworthy? Women athletes- no makeup and sweat !!! On TV!
— Chris Evert (@ChrissieEvert) April 26, 2013