News and happenings from around the world of tennis.
Supercoach for the Woz
This isn’t breaking news, but it’s still interesting.
Caroline Wozniacki has added Arantxa Sanchez Vicario to the team for the clay-court swing through Rome and Madrid, training in between in Monaco and the French Open – i.e., the clay-court season that was always good to the Hall of Fame Spaniard.
Here’s the Danish report on this, confirmed by Pops. And a pic taken 10 days ago.
It’s not a terrible fit; Wozniacki’s tool kit to fight the big hitters of her generation – modernized – isn’t SO different from what Sanchez Vicario brought to the table in her day, although Sanchez Vicario also was an accomplished doubles player and brought more variety to the thing.
Certainly, it couldn’t hurt. Wozniacki’s clay-court season a year ago was short – a second-round loss to Roberta Vinci in Madrid, and a first-round loss to Yanina Wickmayer in Paris.
In 2013, there wasa lot more tennis, but similarly mediocre results: six tournaments, two wins (in the first round of the French Open against Laura Robson, who has barely played since, and Silvia Soler Espinosa in Charleston).
Wozniacki lost to Stefanie Voegele, Carla Suarez Navarro, Yaroslava Shvedova, Bojana Jovanovski, Zheng Jie – and Jovanovski again.
She can do better, and it’s a great stretch with nothing to defend where she can pile up a few points to buffer against the likelihood that the last chunk of her season might not be as fruitful as it was in 2014.
Golden … commode for Nishikori
Because the guy isn’t raking it in enough on endorsements, the latest money-maker for Japanese superstar Kei Nishikori is … well, it’s golden.
Nishikori will wear a sponsor’s patch for Lixil, a Japanese “lavatory giant” as one news story put it. It’s a three-year deal.
The company has bought massive, similar concerns in the U.S. and Europe; Nishikori will be their “golden boy” as they plot to take over the worldwide commode market.
You just hope they don’t actually send one of these to his house; I mean, at what point do you walk into your bathroom to answer the call of nature and STOP laughing at the ridiculousness of it?
However many zeroes are on that cheque, they will more than offset the number of poop jokes Nishikori’s likely to get in the locker room.
Nishikori wasn’t actually in Japan for the announcement; he was at home in Bradenton, Florida on a conference call.
“I’ve never seen a gold toilet. This’ll bring good fortune,” he said. (He’s getting a miniature version, apparently; no clue whether it will go with the decor in his Florida pad).
No GIFs; what about live broadcasts from tournament sites?
Lots of chatter on Twitter Monday about a fan who is friendly with some of the tennis media having the ATP go all Internet police on his account, calling copyright violations on the brief video clips he uses to make GIFs.
Well, what about Periscope?
This app is an amazing thing, really. It allows virtually anyone to use their phone to “broadcast” live, from anywhere, for anyone to see. (What a world we live in).
However, here’s a problem we foresee before it even starts, and it was highlighted by Bob Bryan using the app on Sunday.
Bryan was standing up on a balcony at the Monte Carlo Country Club, and below him was the live match between Florian Mayer and Mikhail Youzhny.
Bryan was panning the scenery a bit, but he also was offering play-by-play of the match taking place right there, with his phone focused on the action (albeit from far above).
It was neat. But, it probably broke every guideline there is.
There are television rights sold to ATP Tour events (even though it didn’t seem anyone was broadcasting from Monte Carlo on Sunday – there was a full day’s schedule, on two courts, on Monday). Many shekels involved, and tournaments rightfully can be preeeeettttty strict about ANYONE, even other media, “broadcasting” live tennis.
The Tours, and the ITF, even get their shorts in a twist about live scoring.
This didn’t go on for a minute or two; we watched for at least 15 minutes, and it might have been on before that.
Obviously Bryan had no idea he might be law-breaking. So where, then, does Periscope fit in? A story to keep an eye on.
All in the family again for Townsend
Also not hot off the presses, but an interesting development on the coaching side for up-and-coming American Taylor Townsend.
Townsend had been coached by Zina Garrison and a coach from her native Chicago named Kamau Murray, who has known her most of her life. She called them “life coaches” as much as tennis coaches.
Then, at the end of 2014, there was word that she’d hired Wim Fissette, who had just had things ended for him with Simona Halep after a hugely successful season.
What happened with that? Unsure. But Fissette was quickly picked up by Victoria Azarenka, after she was dumped by longtime coach Sam Sumyk when he began coaching Genie Bouchard (musical chairs, for sure).
Now, it’s Papa Young (Donald Young, Sr.). For much of his career, Young has listed both his parents as his coaches. But the one we’ve seen around predominantly has been mom – even in the tiny auxiliary interview room at the Australian Open after one of his matches (Mom – he’s an ADULT).
(As a side note, what a cutie Pops Young is. That’s one mischievous-looking face right there).
The two families have been friends forever, and the Youngs started Townsend out, at least as the legend has it.
What will he do for her? Who knows. One thing’s for sure; Townsend has played very little tennis this season. She probably needs to get back to doing that, unless she’s been carrying an injury.
Townsend has played just five events – only two since the Australian Open, which ended 2 1/2 months ago. She played Monterrey and Indian Wells, and has yet to put together back-to-back wins this season.
Her most impressive effort was in the first round at Indian Wells, beating Bethanie Mattek-Sands 7-5 in the third set in a real good tennis match.
She’s basically entered in NOTHING – not even qualifying – during the European clay-court season, with the exception of the qualies in Strasbourg the week before the French Open.
Her next scheduled tournament is … Charlottesville, a $50K event on Virginia on Har-Tru the last week of April, sponsored by Boyd Tinsley. There’s a similar one the previous week in Dothan, Alabama. But she’s not even playing that one.
Djoker bros. update
What’s up with Novak Djokovic’s two younger brothers, both of them aspiring tennis players?
Well, in a nutshell, not too much.
Youngest brother Djordje, who turns 20 in June, is currently tied for No. 1963 in the rankings, his first appearance on the computer since last August, because of the one ranking point he earned two weeks ago.
He is in Doha, Qatar, playing his fifth Futures event in 2015, his third consecutive week there. After failing to get through the qualifying at the first two in Egypt, Djokovic has gotten through three straight weeks, without much apparent difficulty.
In the first tourney, he won around before losing to doubles partner Marko Tepavac, who is in the top 500. In the second one, he lost in the first round of the main draw to a Russian ranked a career-high N0. 568. In this third installment, he’s playing a 23-year-old named Kirill Dmitriev who’s ranked a career-best No. 434.
Djokovic’s coach of record is a 31-year-old Czech named Martin Fafl, who didn’t do much as a pro player (he was playing Futures until about a year ago) and for whom a Google image search turns up as many pics of him player poker as it does tennis. No idea what his background is.
Meanwhile, middle brother Marko, now 23, has a ranking of No. 1218 after peaking (so far) at No. 581 in October, 2012.
He hasn’t played since last September, when he lost in the first round of his third consecutive tournament.
That family has always held some fascination here, because we’ve seen what the dynamic has tended to be like over the years for the siblings of successful tennis players – especially in a family as ambitious as the Djokovics. If you don’t compete in the “family business,” you basically get ignored. It’s pretty hard, say, for you go to into figure-skating, or study the violin with the hope of joining a symphony.
In the end, given big brother’s massive success, perhaps a better plan would have been for the brothers to keep their amateur status (they certainly could have afforded to compete regardless) and look to try to get into a good U.S. college (Stanford or the like), where they could have played tennis AND also gotten an education.
It doesn’t take a genius to deduce that these two will be going into the Djokovic family business sooner or later; it’s not going to happen for them in the pros. Why not have some education and background so the brothers won’t be treated as (and, in reality, be) unqualified relatives riding on Djokovic’s coattails? He probably has enough family members doing that as it is.
You just get the sense that there wasn’t a whole of time spent on the futures of brothers No. 2 and No. 3. Or maybe they have a long-term plan we’re not privy to yet. Hopefully.
Either way, there’s definitely a lot of sympathy there for those two. Yes, they’ll never have to worry about paying their mortgage, but they have long lives to live and they have to do SOMETHING.
Meanwhile … WTF?
This, from Dinara Safina.
Worth noting that the rather pedestrian and unintentionally 70s-looking package design only indicates they’re gluten-free right in the bottom right corner, on a small logo. We didn’t even see it at first, blinded as we were by the Djoker’s grinning face.
When do you remember NOT seeing that prominently displayed in packaging for ANY gluten-free product these days, with that being so trendy and all?
The Facebook page for the products seems to automatically revert to this. The product called “seed biscuits”, according to this, have 37 calories apiece and the products seem to be available online in the U.K. and Italy, at least.
There is, as well, a line of supplements, handily being hawked at Djokovic’s home club, site of this week’s Masters 1000 tournament. He’s the new Sugarpova!
Hey, if people will buy granola bars that pretty much taste like paper just because you put your smiling face on the box, you’d be a fool if you didn’t try to make them happy!