VIDEO: Chair Umpire *ALLEGEDLY* Warns Donald Young for Saying, ‘Son of a Biscuit’

Earlier today, Donald Young defeated Alexander Zverev in the first round of the Sarasota Challenger. While leading 6-4, 2-1*, 15-30, Young netted a routine stretch backhand into the net. Being American, and limited in his choice of profanities, Young chose this.

“Come on Keith, don’t give me crap for that…I said ‘son of a biscuit,’ that’s a problem?”

Related: I wonder if Keith Crossland is a fan of Butters Scotch.

(Thanks to my buddy @NNemeroff on Twitter for the tip.)

ALLEZing: Alizé Cornet, Caroline Garcia Win Things

Wherever Alizé Cornet goes, drama is sure to follow. After a storied junior career, she burst onto the WTA Tour as a teenager in 2008. She arrived with a bang both with her racket, qualifying and making the finals of the Tier I event in Rome, and in the press room. In a “Getting to Know You” interview at Roland Garros shortly after, Cornet provided this gem. 

Least favourite opponent?

Anna Chakvetadze, without a doubt. She put me down before our semi-final in Rome. She said that I was a good junior even though I was No. 30 in the world at the time. I was furious. And she doesn’t even say hello. She’s not a nice person.

(The interview has since been taken down. The world weeps.)

A year later, Cornet was one match, or more accurately, one point, from the top-10. Leading 5-2 in the final set against eventual finalist Dinara Safina at the Australian Open, the Frenchwoman failed to convert on two match points, including one on which her shot landed just centimeters wide of the sideline. 

From there, Cornet faded…and faded quickly. She ended 2009 ranked No. 50 in the world, slipped to No. 78 at the end of 2010, and ended 2011 at the wrong end of the top 100 at No. 89. She returned to the winner’s circle in Bad Gastein in 2012, in addition to finishing runner-up in Strasbourg. She took Victoria Azarenka to three sets twice at Grand Slams, and she finished the year at her highest ranking since 2008.

To start 2014, Cornet has been winning. A lot. She reached the semifinals at the Paris Indoors, stunned Serena Williams en route to a runner-up finish in Dubai and reached the second week at Indian Wells.

TL;DR: We’ve been getting plenty of reactions like this.

Last week in Katowice, Cornet’s flair for the dramatics appeared once again. After easing past Vesna Dolonc in the opening round, Cornet recorded three-set wins against Kristina Kucova, Klara Koukalova and Agnieszka Radwanska to reach the final. Undeterred by dropping a bagel set to both Koukalova and Radwanska, Cornet faced off against first-time WTA finalist Camila Giorgi in the last round. Giorgi, to her credit, had been making waves of her own on the other side of the draw.

Cornet led 5-3 in the second set before dropping four straight games as the oft-erratic Giorgi found her mark. Cornet bounced back by taking a 3-0 lead in the decider but then had another mini-slump as Giorgi won five of the next six games to take a 5-4 lead. Giorgi had a match point in the next game, but missed a backhand return long and Cornet held for 5-5. She would win the next two games to take the title, 7-6 (3), 5-7, 7-5, in three hours and 11 minutes.

#aliz3 improved her record in three set matches to 11-2 on the year.

While her countrywoman thrives on the dramatics, Caroline Garcia is just the opposite. Despite possessing a big serve and potent groundstrokes, Garcia is decidedly “un-French” when it comes to expressiveness, histrionics or flashiness. What has plagued the younger Frenchwoman, like so many of her countrymen before her, has been mental fragility.

Up until now, Garcia’s one notable result to date came in the form of a match she lost.

You all know the story. A 17-year-old Garcia had Maria Sharapova on the ropes in the second round of Roland Garros in 2011, building a 6-3, 4-1 lead versus the eventual semifinalist.

Andy Murray sent the tweet heard ’round the world…

https://twitter.com/andy_murray/status/73775485980651521

….and Garcia lost 11 straight games to lose the match.

Garcia stagnated in the three years since, proving yet again that tennis is more mental than physical. She languished around the lower end of the top 100, lost countless matches from winning positions, most notably failing to convert on match points in two matches against Jelena Jankovic in Kuala Lumpur (6-7(6), 6-4, 6-7(2)) in 2012 and in Charleston (7-5, 6-7(10), 3-6) in 2013. In Acapulco earlier this season, she won back-to-back main draw matches at a WTA event for the first time in her career en route to a semifinal showing. She reached the third round in Miami and gave a struggling Serena Williams all she could handle before again coming up just short, 4-6, 6-4, 4-6.

While Cornet was putting on a show in Katowice, Garcia quietly took advantage of a wide-open draw in Bogota that was made easier when Sloane Stephens lost in the opening road to hometown favorite Mariana Duque-Marino. Nothing is straight-forward with Garcia, but her big serve and groundstrokes were nearly untouchable for the week in Bogota’s high altitude. She dropped just one set en route to her first WTA final to Montenegrin Danka Kovinic, before getting a shot at defending champion Jankovic in the final. Garcia exercised her personal demons against the Serb, calmly serving out the match and the title, 6-3, 6-4.

Cornet and Garcia will lead France’s Fed Cup team against a Williams-less United States on the road this weekend. Contrast, man. Contrast.

Things That Happened Since Vera Zvonareva Last Played a Singles Match

Zvonareva Vera3

Courtesy of a singles main draw  wildcard, and a wide-open doubles field, Vera Zvonareva has returned to us this week in Shenzhen. The former World No. 2 hadn’t played a competitive tennis match since a 61 60 loss to Serena Williams in the third round of the London Olympic Games on August 1, 2012.

Her true return to competition came on Sunday, as she and Olga Govortsova lost in the first round in the doubles event to Johanna Konta and Patricia Mayr-Achleitner, 61 26 10-8.

Her last singles match, however, was exactly 518 days ago.

Here is an [abridged] list of things that have happened since Vera Zvonareva last played a singles match.

  • Barack Obama was elected to a second term as President of the United States (Nov. 6, 2012)
  • The third official NHL lockout started (Sept. 15, 2012) and ended. (Jan. 6, 2013)
  • Pope Benedict XVI became the first pope in the history of forever to resign (announced: Feb. 11, 2013 & took effect: Feb. 28, 2013) and Pope Francis was elected. (March 13, 2013)
  • THE CRONUT WAS INVENTED. Chef Dominique Ansel for Dominique Ansel Bakery copyrighted the name in May 2013.
  • St. James’ Palace announced that the Duchess of Cambridge was pregnant (Dec. 3, 2012), mass world hysteria ensued, and Prince George of Cambridge was born. (July 22, 2013)
  • 30 Rock ended after seven seasons (January 31, 2013), COPS got cancelled by Fox after 25 years but moved to cable (May 2013), and people freaked out when Dexter (Sept. 22, 2013) and Breaking Bad (Sept. 29, 2013) ended simultaneously.
  • Andy Murray won Wimbledon, becoming the first British man to win Wimbledon in 77 years. In case you forgot. (July 7, 2013)
  • “What Does the Fox Say?” was uploaded to YouTube (Sept. 3, 2013) and went viral.
  • The U.S. government entered the third longest shutdown in its history after Congress failed to agree on legislation for the fiscal year 2014, (Oct. 1st-16th, 2013)
  • Family Guy killed off family pet and beloved character Brian Griffin (Nov. 24, 2013)….and brought him back two episodes later. (Dec. 15, 2013)

Zvonareva used a protected ranking to enter the event, and will also be using her SR for the Australian Open. A favorite target of the tennis gods, the unranked Russian might’ve expected some compassion from her overlords after an injury-riddled 18 months.

Instead, she got this.

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 10.12.33 PM

No word on how Zvonareva reacted to her draw, but sources say it was something like this.

VeraZvonarevaTowel_2111722i

Zvonareva and Li will take the court in Shenzhen later today not before 1 p.m. local time.

Photos: AP

The Merits of “Home” Wild Cards

Olivia+Rogowska+2013+Australian+Open+Day+4+T7LefZ5hTbtl

Photo Credit: Zimbio & Graham Denholm/Getty Images AsiaPac

The tennis world was first introduced to Olivia Rogowska when she pushed then-World No. 1 Dinara Safina to the limit in the first round at the 2009 US Open. An 18-year old, Rogowska played with the reckless abandon one would expect from a teenager in her first professional season. Safina recovered from an 0-3, 15-40 deficit in the third set and escaped with a 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-4 win.

At the 2009 US Open, Rogowska was a wild card – a position she has since become quite familiar with in her five professional seasons. However, with a career-high ranking of No. 111, current ranking of No. 172 and career earnings of just $486,920, she’s received little career benefit from those handouts. With a 6-3, 7-5 loss to Kimiko Date-Krumm in the first round of the Brisbane International this afternoon, Rogowska’s WTA record as a wild card in Australia falls to 1-12.

Brisbane

2014: R1 – l. to Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-3, 7-5

2013: R1 – l. to (Q) Monica Puig 6-2, 6-3

2012: R1 – l. to Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-2, 4-6, 6-4

Hobart

2011: R1 – l. to (Q) Tamira Paszek 6-1, 6-3

2010: R1 – l. to (2) Shahar Peer 6-3, 6-2

2009: R1 – l. to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3, 6-1

Sydney

2013: R1 – l to Maria Kirilenko 7-5, 6-2

Australian Open

2013: R1 – l. to (Q) Vesna Dolonc 5-7, 7-5, 8-6

2012: R1 – d. Sofia Arvidsson 6-3, 6-1 | R2 – l. to (5) Li Na 6-2, 6-2

2011: R1 – l. to Evgeniya Rodina 6-3, 6-1

2010: R1 – l. to Sorana Cirstea 6-3, 2-6, 6-2

2009: R1 –  l. to (31) Alona Bondarenko 5-7, 6-3, 6-2

In addition, Rogowska has received the reciprocal Australian wild card at the other three slams three times. As a wild card at Roland Garros and the US Open, she has recorded an overall record of 1-3.

While this is not necessarily an indictment on Rogowska herself, her situation represents one that has become all too common. Players from the four Grand Slam nations have long been the beneficiary of nearly-unlimited wild cards when the opportunity arises, regardless of deciding factors including age, ability level and recent results.  Rogowska played out of her skin for a set and a half against a crumbling Safina nearly five years ago, and has ridden that result (of a match she lost) even since. Often, she’s continually placed in draws where she’s out of her depth and has failed more often than she has succeeded. As a result, she’s achieved little momentum in her professional career.

One Australian player who didn’t receive a main draw wild card into the Brisbane International is Ashleigh Barty. She received a wild card to the qualifying draw instead. Barty, the 17-year old wunderkind who reached three Grand Slam doubles finals last year with Casey Dellacqua, has struggled to make inroads in singles on the women’s tour. After battling past Cagla Buyukakcay 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-3 in the opening round, she defeated sixth-seeded Julia Glushko 6-3, 6-2 to move into the final round of qualifying. In the final round, Barty saved five match points in defeating Kiki Bertens, 2-6, 6-3, 7-5.

Two fairly young players (Barty, 17 & Rogowska, 22), two different situations. Even if Barty also loses her first match in the main draw, she would leave Brisbane with a lot more confidence and momentum than Rogowska.

With this not a unique situation, it becomes a question of whether or not the wild card system itself is flawed. Does a concept meant to give players an opportunity that they might not get otherwise end up doing more harm than good?

The Year Australia Fell in Love With Jelena Dokic

Photo credit: Zimbio & Quinn Rooney/Getty Images AsiaPac

Photo credit: Zimbio & Quinn Rooney/Getty Images AsiaPac

When Jelena Dokic arrived in Melbourne Park in January of 2009, all she had left was her story.

More than a decade removed from her professional debut, Dokic had been languishing around in proverbial limbo since dropping out of the top 100 in 2004. She fell off the WTA rankings following a 2007 season where she played just one match, a 6-2, 6-4 first-round loss to Giulia Gatto-Monticone in an ITF $10,000 event in Rome, and earned $98. After cutting off all ties with her controversial father, Damir, and pleading Tennis Australia for help, Dokic recommitted herself and made a full-time return to competitive tennis in 2008. She won three titles on the ITF Circuit (including a 25K in Germany where she defeated Michelle Gerards 6-0, 6-0 in the final), and decided she was ready to test the waters at Grand Slam level once again.

She emerged from the round robin stage of the Australian Open wildcard playoffs with a 2-1 record and defeated Monika Wejnert in the final match to earn a spot in the main draw of the 2009 Australian Open.

Ranked No. 187, Dokic’s 2009 Australian Open campaign began on Hisense Arena against Tamira Paszek. Paszek was fighting her own demons, as just one year earlier, she participated in possibly one of the most dramatic matches in the history of the tournament on that very same court. In a battle of two-handed backhands, it was Dokic who prevailed over an opponent ranked 107 places higher than her in three sets, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4.

It was Dokic’s first win in a Grand Slam since 2003 and at the event itself in 10 years. To put it in context, Dokic was 15 when she had last won a match at the Australian Open. She had not yet defected back to her family’s native Yugoslavia, nor had yet she returned to her adopted homeland proclaiming herself truly Australian. Despite her rocky relationship history with her adopted homeland, as the match against Paszek went on, the Australians began to pull their support behind Dokic more and more.

“I don’t know when was the last time that the crowd was really like that,” she said post-match.

Dokic returned to Rod Laver Arena for the first time in eight years two nights later, when she faced off against No. 17 (and equally tragic tennis heroine) Anna Chakvetadze. In her player’s box sat only her boyfriend Tim Bikic and his brother and her new coach, Borna Bikic. That didn’t seem to matter for Dokic, because for the first time, she also had nearly 15,000 strong in her corner as well.

I came back I think two or three years ago to Australia, and obviously the crowd, I didn’t expect them to be on my side and to understand what happened seven years ago. You know, each year it’s gotten better and better.

After serving for the match at 6-4 5-3, Dokic proceeded to lose the second set in a tiebreak before rebounding to take the match 6-4, 6-7, 6-3. An emotional Dokic broke down in her post-match interview, recognizing just how much the crowd support meant to her.

To quote Maria Sharapova, Rod Laver Arena became Dokic’s home for the rest of the tournament as she battled her way through two more three-setters against No. 11 Caroline Wozniacki and No. 29 Alisa Kleybanova (two-part highlights here and here) to reach the quarterfinals of a major for the first time since Roland Garros in 2002, when she played for Yugoslavia. It was her first final eight showing as an Australian since Wimbledon in 2000. Far from her peak fitness, Dokic consistently remarked how much the crowd played a part in pulling her through.

After rolling her ankle late in the third set against Kleybanova, Dokic’s fairytale run came to an end at the hands of Dinara Safina in the quarterfinals, 6-4 4-6 6-4.

In the five years since her magical showing Down Under, Dokic’s still been riding the roller coaster that’s defined her career. After finishing 2009 at No. 57, her highest ranking since 2003, she shot down the rankings just as quickly in 2010. She returned to the top 100 in 2011, won her first WTA title in nearly nine years in Kuala Lumpur and also reached the final in ‘s-Hertogenbosch before losing to Roberta Vinci. However, it was in 2011 that things began to unravel for Dokic. She struggled that season with mononucleosis, a hamstring injury and a right shoulder injury. It was a wrist injury that proved to be her undoing in 2012, one that required surgery.

Now unranked once again, Dokic will play her first competitive tennis match in 18 months today, again at the annual Australian Open wildcard playoff hosted by Tennis Australia. Her opponent in the first round? Jarmila Gajdosova, who’s looking to script a comeback of her own after being sidelined with mononucleosis herself for much of 2013.

“I think it’s always the same – the love for the game,” Dokic told The Australian. “I don’t think that ever changes…I don’t really care as much whether I win, whether I lose and how I play, I just want to be out there and have that feeling again of competing and being nervous and adrenaline and everything.”

Although all of Australia might not be watching when Dokic takes the court Tuesday in the shadow of Rod Laver Arena, whatever happens next is just another chapter in her story.

In Response to ‘The Man Who Rescued Serena Williams’

Patrick+Mouratoglou+2013+Open+Day+14+6vlVLyFhtpJl

Photo credit: Zimbio & Clive Brunskill/Getty Images North America

On Wednesday, Open Court (CNN’s monthly tennis show which runs videos, news stories and features) published a story penned by Chris Murphy entitled ‘Down and out: The man who rescued Serena Williams.’ With a title like that, you know what you’re getting into – yet another piece of journalism that gives Patrick Mouratoglou too much credit for Serena Williams’ WTA dominance over the past 18 months.

There are just so many things wrong with this – not just this piece, but this entire narrative.

First, the piece itself. With his words, Murphy doesn’t portray himself as that knowledgeable about the last two years of Serena’s career. In his lead, he completely glosses over her pulmonary embolism and subsequent comeback in 2011. Instead, he chooses to use this blanket statement:

After an injury-blighted few seasons that saw her sink to 175 in the world rankings, Williams had hit one of the biggest troughs in her career.

‘Injury-blighted seasons’? Perhaps the understatement of the year.

Secondly, Serena wasn’t ranked 175 when she started working with Mouratoglou. She fell to that ranking when her Wimbledon points came off in 2011 – right after she began her comeback. She was technically on a 16-match winning streak coming into Roland Garros in 2012. She won Charleston and Madrid, as well as two matches in Fed Cup, before giving Li Na a walkover (not an official loss) in the semifinals in Rome. She came into Roland Garros ranked No. 5 and was the overwhelming favorite.

She had already gotten herself back in the top 5 before they were introduced. I wouldn’t necessarily call that ‘one of the biggest troughs in her career.’

Sure, her loss to Virginie Razzano in the first round was shocking, unprecedented and any other number of similar adjectives you’d like to call it. Apart from Roland Garros, her clay court season in 2012 was pretty immaculate. Against Razzano, she was in a dominating position and let it slip. These things happen.

Nonetheless, that match is what people remember, and that’s what gives birth to this story.

I’m not going to single out Chris Murphy for doing his job. He’s not the only person writing about this. As a result, I’d really like to know where the narrative came from in general. To say that she was languishing without big, strong Patrick guiding her is just ridiculous. She’s Serena Williams. She won a hell of a lot without him on her team, and she’d probably be doing the same without him there.

Oddly enough, it might actually be Serena herself who unknowingly contributes to it.

“For me to lose in Paris was really disappointing; I was really shattered. I didn’t leave my house for two days,” Serena told Open Court in this feature video. “I was just in a bad place, and it got darker and worse and worse.”

We all know about Serena’s tendency to over-exaggerate and even be a touch melodramatic. It seems as though her comments about that match and what transpired after it are always taken at face value. Should we really be expected to believe that a woman, who has come back successfully from multiple injuries; showed strength in overcoming the murder of her sister; survived said pulmonary embolism; and defied the odds in achieving success in general, had that much trouble moving on from losing one tennis match?

That leads me to the other issue I have with this piece: the use of the word ‘rescue.’ Would anyone ever say that Paul Annacone ‘rescued’ Roger Federer in bringing him back to No. 1 and to the Wimbledon title in 2012? Of course not. In what is now the twilight of his career, Federer would be appreciated for the champion that he is and how he found a way to make those things possible. Why can’t people say the same about Serena? She overcame adversity. Things like this are what the WTA’s ‘Strong is Beautiful’ campaign should really be about.

Mouratoglou is just a support figure for her both on (and off) the court, if you like to believe the gossip and rumors. It would be false to say that he hasn’t been a positive addition to team Williams, but that’s about it. Prior to joining her team, Mouratoglou and his team were more well-known for their failed coaching experiments; players including Laura Robson, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Yanina Wickmayer and Grigor Dimitrov all suffered up-and-down results while working with the Mouratoglou academy.

What has he actually done for her game? It’s been said that she’s added more spin to her forehand under his tutelage, but close observation makes me think that has been slowly evolving for a while. It’s also been said that she’s improved her movement and footwork; she’s always had these things, but also had a tendency to get lazy. She’s a champion, and champions are always tinkering with and improving their games.

If you follow Patrick on Twitter (@pmouratoglou), you can tell how much he enjoys the publicity. He’s constantly sharing links to these stories and features written about his relationship with Serena as well as telling the world how #proud he is of her after every victory. You just don’t see other coaches publicly reveling this much in their charge’s success.

He was in the right place at the right time. Just because their partnership resulted from an (im)perfect storm, doesn’t mean he ‘rescued’ her from the precipice of falling into oblivion. She’s Serena Williams, and a player of her caliber can make any coach look good.

If Bernard Tomic Parties Hard, and Everyone Sees It, What Does It Even Mean?

Photo credit: Adam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images Europe

Photo credit: Zimbio & Adam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images Europe

Bernard Tomic is back at it, kids. Photos from Tomic’s 21st birthday extravaganza have hit the internet. Tomic, whose birthday is actually on Oct. 21, presumably waited until his holiday to celebrate reaching this milestone at the Gold Coast-area night club Sin City. A fitting place for the Australian to celebrate his passage into adulthood, considering he also is the proud owner of a yellow Ferrari with the license plate S1NC1TY.

Photo credit: sincitynightclub.com.au

Photo credit: sincitynightclub.com.au

The discovery of the photos comes just 24 hours after Lleyton Hewitt challenged Tomic to step up on the ATP Tour.

“He has his ups and downs throughout the year in terms of his results and he seems to get on a run for three or four weeks and then has three or four average losses for him. Bernard is obviously the next best player…he’s got to make the next transition now from 50 in the world to top 20 and hopefully top 10 and be a potential grand slam winner.”

After winning his first career title in Sydney in January and reaching the fourth round of Wimbledon, Tomic’s 2013 took a turn for the worse. On the court, he did not pass the second round in any of the ATP Masters 1000 events, lost his last five main draw matches and ended the year ranked No. 51. His controversial father and coach, John Tomic, was convicted of assaulting Bernard’s then-hitting partner Thomas Drouet in Madrid in May. The ATP banned the elder Tomic from all events in 2013 and will decide whether to lift the ban in May. He is also barred from entering the 2014 Australian Open.

Tomic has crafted quite the reputation for himself off the court in his young career, from standoffs with the police, traffic violations and….naked rooftop wrestling. On the court, he’s had his commitment questioned; the brothers McEnroe accused him of ‘tanking’ against Andy Roddick at the US Open in 2012, and Australian Davis Cup captain Pat Rafter called him ‘disgraceful’ during the period of their dispute.

179 photos will live in infamy on the internet forever courtesy of the nightclub’s website. They feature Tomic in varying stages of undress receiving lap dances from some women (who are, oddly enough, fully clothed) and posing with an oversized bottle of Belvedere vodka.

Here’s the thing. Is anyone really in the position to condemn him for going out and doing something stupid on his 21st birthday? Probably not. However, because it’s Bernard Tomic, it matters. Last year on Tomic’s birthday, a fight erupted between him and a friend which needed to be broken up by police.

Maybe next year, his friends can just buy him a cake.

Sloane Stephens Singlehandedly Destroys American Media Narrative in…Four Pages

Australian Open TennisThe prevailing media narrative over the first third of the tennis year was the supposed, and completely ridiculous, mentor-mentee relationship between Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens.

We now know, beyond any reasonable doubt, that this was completely staged invented…actually, I really don’t know what to call it. Granted, much of this entire farce was put forth by Stephens herself, but Serena wasn’t totally innocent either.

 “She’s like one of my really good friends,” Stephens said at the start of the year. “Everyone thinks she’s so mean, but she’s like the greatest person ever. We’re just young kids together. We never take anything too seriously.”

“I noticed Sloane I think years ago at TeamTennis maybe four years ago,” Serena said prior to their match in Melbourne. “I saw her in the locker room. She was another black girl. I was like, ‘Hey!’ That’s when I first noticed her. ‘What up, girl’?”

We never take anything too seriously. Oh?

After beating Bojana Jovanovski in a heated fourth round match in Australia, Stephens said that Serena told her “she should make more noise on-court” in her post match interview. We all know what happened next; Stephens defeated an injury hobbled Serena in three sets in the quarterfinals and quickly became the next media darling of American women’s tennis. Granted, since that match in Melbourne, Stephens is 2-8 while Serena is 15-1 with two titles.

Well, if Brisbane and Melbourne cracked the framework, then the perfect empire came crashing down on Friday when Stephens’ incredibly candid interview was released in ESPN: The Magazine. In it, the American #2…well, completely tears Serena a new one.

Some of the juiciest quotes are as follows:

“I’m annoyed, I’m over it,”she says of the Serena comparisons. I’ve always said Clijsters is my favorite player, so it’s kind of weird.” She attributes the media hype over her relationship to the star to “just being African American and they want to link to something.”

“She’s not said one word to me, not spoken to me, not said hi, not looked my way, not been in the same room with me since I played her in Australia…And that should tell everyone something, how she went from saying all these nice things about me to unfollowing me on Twitter.”

Her mom tries to slow her down, but Sloane is insistent. “Like, seriously! People should know. They think she’s so friendly and she’s so this and she’s so that — no, that’s not reality! You don’t unfollow someone on Twitter, delete them off of BlackBerry Messenger. I mean, what for? Why?”

The interview peaks when Stephens recounts an incident from when she was 12, the first time she had seen Venus and Serena play in Delay Beach during Fed Cup. Her mom took Stephens and her brother to the tie to see the sisters  play, and the family waited to try and get autographs.

“…I waited all day. They walked by three times and never signed our posters…I hung it up for a while. I was, like, devastated because they didn’t sign it, whatever, and then after that I was over it. I found a new player to like because I didn’t like them anymore.”

Rawr.

It’s like this. The “mini-Serena” angle gave the mainstream sports (non-tennis) media, particularly in the United States, a reason to focus on tennis. Stephens’ win over Serena in Australia was the best thing she could’ve done for them…and the worst thing she could’ve done for everyone else. It was the changing of the guard, they said. The “new American hope” had arrived, they said. “Little Serena” was here to save us from the death of American tennis, they said.

“For the first 16 years of my life, she said one word to me and was never involved in my tennis whatsoever,” says Stephens. “I really don’t think it’s that big of a deal that she’s not involved now. If you mentor someone, that means you speak to them, that means you help them, that means you know about their life, that means you care about them. Are any of those things true at this moment? No…”

I offer: “They want the next great American player.”

Stephens says: “They want another Serena.”

Why Stephens and Serena (albeit briefly) felt the need to cater to this delusion rather than just be straight about their professional, competitive (lack of a) relationship from the get go remains a mystery to me.

Real Talk: McEnroe Opens His Mouth, Talks Nadal at the French

f_06-10-Nadal-Rafael10

Rafael Nadal has been back on the ATP for three months, and it’s like he never left. Nadal is 21-2 on the year with three titles including decimations of the fields in Sao Paulo and Acapulco and a run to his third Indian Wells title on his “least favorite surface.” Nonetheless, Nadal currently sits at No. 5 in the ATP rankings with little opportunity to make a dent in the list due to massive numbers of points to defend from 2012. Even prior to Nadal’s defeat at the hands of Novak Djokovic in Monte Carlo, snapping his streak of eight consecutive titles, the discussion about whether or not Roland Garros should bump Nadal up to a higher seeding has run rampant.

Guy Forget, a member of the Roland Garros seeding committee, first stated that it would be a shame to see Nadal and Djokovic potentially square off in the quarterfinals at Roland Garros.

“The rules state the grand slam events have the right to change the seeding regarding the situation of the players. Wimbledon has done that in the past,” Forget said. “I would not find it illogical to change the seeds.”

As if the continuing speculation wasn’t enough, John McEnroe threw his opinion into the bullring on Tuesday. In an interview with tennis.com, McEnroe made his feelings known on the subject in a way that only he can.

“Let me put it to you this way: I guarantee you that none of those four guys, as great as they are, want to see him in the quarters,” McEnroe said. “Quite honestly, I would seed him number one. I’d seed him number one, actually, because I think he deserves that. I think the other players deserve it.”

“Certainly, you can’t even possibly question if he should be [seeded] ahead of David Ferrer, as much as I respect him, or for that matter even Murray on clay,” McEnroe said. “Djokovic is the only one, given his accomplishments on clay, that you could possibly make an argument deserves to be seeded ahead of [Nadal]…I don’t know that they [the Roland Garros seeding committee] are willing to change the seedings at their event.”

Personally, the whole idea of changing seedings at slams has always been ridiculous. Wimbledon has a track record of this, notably bumping Maria Sharapova to the 24th seed at the 2009 event; Sharapova was on the comeback from shoulder surgery at the time and was ranked 59th in the world. There’s no doubt that Nadal and Djokovic are the prohibitive co-favorites to lift the trophy at Roland Garros; however, in a sport where ranking and the benefits that come with a certain number are so critical for 99% of its players, altering of seedings just seems to trivialize the others’ accomplishments.

Take McEnroe’s example of Murray and Ferrer. If the argument is to seed Nadal above them both due to the gulf in clay court prowess and accomplishments, then the same argument could be used to seed Ferrer above Murray. Murray hasn’t reached a semifinal on clay since Roland Garros in 2011, and many do not consider him one of the four best players in the world on clay. If Roland Garros is going to change the seedings to “show respect” for Nadal’s accomplishments, then where do they draw the line? Do his accomplishments matter more because he’s won 11 major titles? Does that not show him preferential treatment?

If Nadal wants to win his eighth Roland Garros title, the odds are great that he’s still going to have to defeat two of Murray, Federer and Djokovic to get there. Considering his combined head-to-head record against them on clay is 28-5, does it honestly matter the order in which he does it? Considering the history of unpredictability in Paris, it’s almost as likely that he’ll instead need to navigate a draw Wawrinka, Monaco and Amagro to reach the final. On the other hand, if Djokovic wants to win Roland Garros and complete the career Grand Slam, it’s almost a sure bet that he’ll have to beat Nadal to do it. If he loses to Nadal, and it doesn’t matter when, the entire point is moot anyway.

It’s up to the draw to decide, and no one or nothing else.