At the Net: Some random tennis thoughts

SERENA’S RANKING

How does Serena Williams capture Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and an Olympic gold
medal, all in the same year, and check in at No. 4 in the world?

No. 4!

I understand the women’s ranking “method” works on a 52-week cumulative
“system,” but it’s obvious to me that it’s not working very well … with
Serena’s current standing as your prime evidence.

In the aforementioned 52-week span, Serena also reached (but unfortunately
lost) in the 2011 U.S. Open final, which means she’s appeared in three of the
last five Grand Slam finals, winning two, yet she’s somehow ranked behind
Agnieszka Radwanska? Agnieszka Radwanska!

This has to be some sort of joke, right?

And did I mention that Serena also leads the tour with six titles in 2012?

Whether you’re a fan of Serena Williams or not, she’s clearly the best
women’s tennis player in the world right now (and quite possibly ever before
it’s all said and done).

COURT NOISE

The on-court shrieking in women’s tennis has to end NOW! With all due respect
to the likes of Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova and Bojana Jovanovski
(especially Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova), those noises that you make
have nothing to do with a “ball-striking mechanism.”

Monica Seles, of course, was the original queen of such bewailing, to the point
where it could only be viewed as one thing — a major distraction to everyone
involved.

The powers that be in tennis decided the Victoria Azarenkas and Maria
Sharapovas of the world could continue with their disquietude, deciding
instead only to crack down on the next generation of female tennis stars.

Why is that? Why can’t we put a stop to the (I’ll say it) unsportsmanlike
conduct exuded by the you-know-whos on the WTA circuit right now?

Let’s get with the program!

By the way, Azarenka and Sharapova don’t even make those awful sounds while
hitting countless balls out on the practice courts. So why so on game day?

Can you say gamesmanship?

TIME, PLEASE

Last week, the ATP’s board of directors approved a rule change regarding the
time (and more time) taken in between points. Starting next year, 25 seconds
will actually be the longest amount of time a player can take in between
points. He will be penalized with a warning for the first violation, while the
penalty for the second and all subsequent violations will be a fault for the
server and a point penalty for the receiver. Currently, the rule is a warning
and then point penalty for both the server and receiver.

The new rule has been prompted by the deliberate play of such stars as Novak
Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, who are well-known for their toweling routines and
extended ball-bouncing.

FIFTH-SET TIEBREAK

The fifth set in all men’s matches at the majors has to be shortened to a
tiebreak (like they do at the U.S. Open), as opposed to the current set-up at
Wimbledon, the French and Aussie Opens and Davis Cup — which is having to win
by two games. How much tennis do these guys need to play? And just how much
tennis do we fans need to watch?

Five sets is already pretty (if not too) long if you ask me, and with its
current state, the fifth set can sometimes turn into, in essence, a sixth,
seventh or eighth in Davis Cup or at a Slam (just ask John Isner).

At some point, players need to head to locker rooms, fans have to go home and
the lights need to be turned off at arenas/stadiums.

TENNIS AT OUR NATION’S BIRTHPLACE

How come the ATP stages 62 tournaments, in 31 countries, on six continents,
but not one of ’em is played in the tennis-history-rich city of Philadelphia
… my hometown? How does Winston-Salem get a tournament over us? Winston-
Salem!

We played host to the great U.S. Pro Indoor event for 30 years (with its prime
run coming in the 1970s and ’80s) before it was discontinued in 1998.
The tourney featured a who’s who of champions/tennis gods like Rod Laver, John
Newcombe, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, Boris Becker and Pete
Sampras, just to name a few (or in this case, seven).

Let’s at the very least get some Davis Cup action back in Philly, which has
actually hosted a whopping six Davis Cup finals … just none since 1939.

There are no men’s tournaments in the United States after the U.S. Open? That’s
a span of roughly three months. What gives?

Come on ATP, we want back in! Don’t we?

DID YOU KNOW?

Four different men captured Grand Slam titles this year for the first time
since 2003, and Andy Murray became the first man to win the U.S. Open and an
Olympic gold medal in the same year.