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Another Betting Scandal – The Friday Five

By Maud Watson

Another Betting Scandal

The fall is traditionally the quiet time of the tennis year, but controversy never sleeps. IMG owner Ted Forstmann has admitted to betting on sporting events involving IMG clients. The news made a splash on the tennis radar when allegations were that he lost $40,000 betting in favor of Roger Federer against Rafael Nadal in the 2007 Roland Garros final. Reports alleged that he made the bet after receiving inside information from man from Switzerland. No doubt Forstmann made a mistake on this one. Irrespective of the fact that the amount of the bet was a drop in the bucket when compared to his annual income, there’s a definite conflict of interest when it comes to betting on your own clients. The story also seemed a bit far-fetched given that Roger Federer has generally been the epitome of good sportsmanship and fairness, so it was always assumed unlikely that Federer would risk the humiliation and ban he would be slapped with if he had aided in the betting. Perhaps the only good thing to come out of this is that none seem to even be considering the possibility that Federer could be guilty in any of it.

Injury Update

Not that it’s a shocker after all the reports last week, but Serena Williams has officially called it a season, citing that she re-tore the tendon in her foot. Things are much grimmer for her fellow competitor Aggie Radwanska, however. The young Pole’s worst fears were realized when it transpired that the stress fracture in her foot has required surgery. She will need at least three months to recover before she can return to competition, which means she’ll be missing the first major of the year. Despite the setback, still look for Radwanska to collect some big upsets in 2011, as her unorthodox game will continue to give the big hitters fits, even if she is going to be starting the season behind the eight ball.

History Saved

In case you’ve missed it, it wasn’t all that long ago that the West Side Tennis Club stadium at Forest Hills, home to the US Open from 1915-1977, was headed towards being turned into a bunch of condos. The vote on what to do with the club ended in a draw, 123-123, but those wanting to keep the club stadium intact won out, as it would have taken a two-thirds majority to seal the condo deal. The question in the coming weeks will be if this is just a temporary reprieve or if the club has truly dodged a bullet. With neither the USTA nor the International Tennis Hall of Fame in a position to offer much financial assistance, it could be the former. Hopefully it will achieve historical landmark status or their fortunes will turn around by some other means, as it would be a shame to see this historical venue fall victim to financial woes.

Fearless Leader

On Wednesday it was announced that Patrick Rafter would be stepping up as the captain of the Australian Davis Cup team. The Aussie will have some big shoes to fill, following in the footsteps of the legendary Harry Hopman, Neale Fraser, John Newcombe, and John Fitzgerald. Rafter has long been considered one of the nice guys on tour, and having won back-to-back US Open titles, he knows what it takes to get to the top. His experience and attitude should only pay dividends, and when coupling that with Tony Roche on as coach and Rafter’s good relationship with Lleyton Hewitt nearly sure to cement the younger Aussie’s commitment to the team competition, things look positive for the Australian team. Hopefully the results will come, as Rafter never had the pleasure of winning the Davis Cup as a player, and it would go a long way towards filling that void if he were to do it as a captain.

Back on Track?

Last week proved the perfect storm for Ana Ivanovic, and it may have just given her the boost she needs as she starts to look ahead to 2011. The young Serb, whose fall in the rankings has been well publicized, had no intention of playing in Linz but made the last minute decision to take a wildcard when Serena Williams unexpectedly withdrew. The result? She worked her way to the final. The fact that she hadn’t won a title in two years must have been the furthest thing from her mind as she thrashed the Swiss veteran Patty Schnyder, dropping just three games to claim victory. It’s too early to tell if this was just a good week, or if this is the beginning of a comeback that will see Ivanovic work her way back into the Top Ten next season. Many hope it’s the latter, and there’s little doubt that the WTA Tour could use another big name back at the top.

ANDY RODDICK AND SAM QUERREY ARE OPPOSITES: THE FRIDAY FIVE

By Maud Watson

Questions for Querrey – American Sam Querrey needs to find some answers as to why he’s lacking motivation, how does he find it again, and how does he do a better job of controlling his mindset when he’s out on the court. I’ll give credit to Sam for at least owning up the fact that he’s struggling to find his motivation and that he hasn’t exactly been the epitome of professionalism, even admitting that he’s tanked some points. He’s had some peaks and valleys in his 2010 season, but there’s no doubt he’s been one of the more promising young American players. To hear his latest comments was definitely disappointing. It sounds like his coach has the backbone to call Sam on it though, and hopefully between the two of them, they’re going to be able to turn things around before burnout occurs.

Grinding it Out – American Andy Roddick has been the opposite of his compatriot Sam Querrey. Roddick’s clay court preparation has been next to nil, and undoubtedly his worst since turning professional. To top it off, clay is his worst surface, and his results at Roland Garros have predominantly been dismal. When playing Fin Jarkko Nieminen, who himself has thus far had a terrible 2010 season, Roddick found himself down two sets to one. It would have been easy for him to throw in the towel and look towards the greener pastures of Wimbledon, but he ground it out like a true professional. In his second round, he takes on little-known Blaz Kavcic of Slovenia. Roddick had his serve broken on multiple occasions, endured a few rain delays, and even dropped the second set before finding his way to the finish line. I haven’t always been a fan of some of his outbursts on court, but I greatly admire the way he’s handled himself thus far at the French Open.

Darkness (and Chaos) Reign – It was only Day 4 of Roland Garros, but already there was high drama on Court Philippe Chatrier. Gael Monfils was up against Fabio Fognini. There was enough drama as it was, with Fognini staging a comeback after being down two sets to love. Then, at 4-4 in the fifth, tournament referee and Grand Slam supervisor Stefan Fransson made an appearance to presumably call play for the day. Instead of calling play, however, he talked it over with the players, and then, the insanity began as Fognini argued it was too dark to continue but was forced to play on anyway. In a statement made on Day 5, Fransson confirmed that both players claimed that they wished to continue playing, but that Fognini changed his mind after his box signaled to him to stop. Now maybe that constitutes illegal coaching, but I still felt for the Italian and found myself rooting for him. Of course he was initially going to claim he wanted to keep playing. He was playing a Frenchman and had a stadium full of French tennis fans who had patiently sat through rain delays earlier in the day (and were being egged on by Monfils) clamoring for the drama continue.  The situation was poorly handled by Fransson. Fognini should never have been put in the position of having to be the bad guy by asking for play to be called, and the fact that he got a point penalty for delay of game was ludicrous. I realize Monfils cannot be held accountable for the actions of tournament officials, but I couldn’t help feeling a bit of justice was done when Fognini came out the victor.

(Un)dressed for Success – I’m going to join the multitudes of people commenting on Venus Williams’ latest tennis attire and go on record as saying I’m not a fan. Venus pushed the envelope with similar use of the bodysuit down in Australia, and now she’s crossed the line. Even taking into account that Venus has the figure to wear the dress, and that French Open and WTA administrators alike agree that her outfit doesn’t violate dress codes, that doesn’t make it right. Her attire is better suited to the bedroom than Court Philippe Chatrier, particularly on Kids’ Day. And as a sidebar regarding Venus’ comment that lace has never been done in tennis, she should research the stir Gussy Moran’s lace-trimmed panties made at Wimbledon just over 60 years ago. I’m happy to see that women’s tennis fashion has evolved since the time of Gussy and others, but I think in this case, the pendulum has swung a bit too far.

In Need of a Break? – That’s the question some are asking of Dinara Safina after she lost her first round match to 39-year-old Kimiko Date Krumm. After winning the first set, the Russian led by a break in the second and a double break in the third, but still failed to put away the cramping Japanese veteran. The good news for Safina is that she wasn’t complaining of the niggling back injury that has hampered her year, and she also seems positive about working with her new coach, former ATP pro Gastón Etlis. It’s hard to forgo competing in a Slam, but given that grass is historically her worst surface, I wonder if it wouldn’t serve Safina well to take month or so away from the game, bond more with her new coach, and get in the valuable practice time that’s has eluded her due to her back injury.