By Maud Watson
The Agassi Admission – The big story this week was Andre Agassi’s shocking admission that he not only used crystal meth back in 1997, but that he lied to the ATP about it in order to avoid punishment. While many are justly questioning the ATP’s actions, I think it’s wrong how many are praising Agassi for his honesty and easily letting him off the hook. First, it doesn’t matter that it was a recreational drug vs. a performance-enhancing drug, and if there’s any doubt, see the examples of Martina Hingis and Richard Gasquet. Second, the timing of Agassi’s announcement leaves much to be desired. Over the last two years, tennis has been rocked by gambling and drug scandals. Agassi has kept quiet for 12 years. Why he couldn’t wait until things had settled down more before making his admission is beyond me…but oh that’s right. He has a new book coming out, and making such an admission is a great way to drum up publicity to increase book sales. Maybe if Agassi had confessed during his “second career,” at a time when he still could have been given a meaningful punishment for his actions and given the ATP a chance to redeem themselves for their prior actions, I might not be questioning the sincerity of his confession now. In closing, I think it’s wrong that Agassi got away with crystal meth use in 1997, but it’s even more wrong that he can profit from it now while the ATP is left holding the bag. Hopefully the ATP will use this as an incentive to do what they should have done 12 years ago and punish Agassi, irrespective of his star power.(Watch the Agassi video on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/mpd/permalink/m28SCG9B8T1990 )
Do You Believe in Magic? – It looks like Frenchman Fabrice Santoro does. The player affectionately known as “the magician,” has admitted that he is now considering the possibility of competing in the 2010 Australian Open. The reason for his potential change of heart came when a reporter informed him that by competing in Melbourne, Santoro would become the first player to compete in a Grand Slam tournament across four decades. Now that’s some feat!
The British are Coming! – Taking a page out of the books of Novak Djokovic and Marat Safin, both of whom played the Hopman Cup before winning the Australian Open, Andy Murray has announced that he will also be making the trip to Perth to use the event as his Australian Open tune-up. He’ll be partnering with junior sensation Laura Robson, who will be looking to use the event as a chance to test her game against some of the WTA’s best. It’s a golden opportunity for both, and it’s a positive sign for British tennis that it can now field a team at this mixed event.
A Downward Spiral – After pulling out the WTA Tour Championships, it was revealed that the severity of Dinara Safina’s injury may force her to miss the Australian Open. This is just salt in the wound for a player who has helplessly watched the wheels fall off her game ever since Wimbledon. I personally feel for Safina who appears to have cracked under the unjust pressure put upon her by the critics claiming she never deserved the No. 1 ranking due to her lack of a major title. It doesn’t seem right that a player can support the tour by consistently playing the big tournaments and then be criticized for reaping the points she justly earned. Fingers crossed she can put all of this negativity behind her, get healthy, and start fresh in 2010.
Serena Wins the War – All year long there have been many battles for the No. 1 ranking, and in the end, it is Serena Williams who will take the top honor for 2009. The deal was sealed Wednesday at the WTA Tour Championships when Dinara Safina was forced to retire from her opening match and withdraw from the tournament with a back injury. The No. 1 ranking is the icing on the cake for Serena who also added another two majors to her storybook career.