French Open Wrap

Jon Wertheim’s wrap up of the 2012 French Open is worth reading as are the questions and answers at the end.  If you love tennis and are looking for something to read, it’s a great column.

L. Jon Wertheim, a senior writer for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, is one of the most accomplished sports journalists in America. His work has been cited in The Best American Sports Writing anthology four times (2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009) as well as The Best American Crime Writing (2009). He is the author of six highly-praised books: Strokes of Genius: Federer, Nadal, and the Greatest Match Ever Played2009, (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt); Blood in the Cage: Mixed Martial Arts, Pat Miletich, and the Furious Rise of the UFC (2009, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt); Running the Table: The Legend of Kid Delicious, the Last Great American Pool Hustler (2008, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt); Transition Game: How Hoosiers Went Hip-Hop (2006, Riverhead Trade); Venus Envy: A Sensational Season Inside the Women’s Tennis Tour (2001, HarperCollins); and the Foul Lines: A Pro Basketball Novel co-written with Jack McCallum (2006, Touchstone). Currently, he and University of Chicago finance professor Tobias Moskowitz are collaborating on book that uses economic principles to explain sports.

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Here is a few excerpts:

• As I wrote Monday, I think Djokovic has to leave Paris somewhat content. He reached his first final in Paris. He staved off match points against Tsonga. He handled Roger Federer. When he wasn’t lumberjacking that courtside bench with his racket, he was sporting and honorable, even conceding a point in the final. If he wasn’t going to win the event — and thus the Nole Slam — this was the next-best scenario. And, as a few of you wrote, this felt like Nadal at Wimbledon circa 2007. He’s getting closer.

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What is the deal/point of these “Legend” events? Is it just to get the old guys on the grounds and out for a hit? Is it competitive? Are they playing for money or anything? It just seems like they are filling courts to me when I check out the schedule of play, I’m not event sure if the fans on-site are watching?
— Stephen B., Toronto

• These events are as competitive as the players want them to be. When the McEnroe brothers played Wilander and Michael Pernfors, it was entertainingly intense. When Henri Leconte and Mansour Bahrami play, it’s the Harlem Globetrotters come to tennis.

The players are usually paid an appearance fee, not conventional prize money. If we’re being honest, part of the function of the “legends” matches is to pad the schedule the second week of an event. But so what? It’s often quite entertaining — definitely would encourage fans on site to go. What’s more, these guys are still unbelievable players and strategists. You can learn a lot watching them play.

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