Rafa may be taking some of the suspense out of clay court finals these days (check out Pete Bodo’s letter to the King of Clay, titled “Attn: Clayface”) but there’s still plenty to talk about in TennisLandia.
Novak Djokovic: off gluten and on to world domination! Here’s Nole in Belgrade, via Tennis.com:
“(My nutritionist) has done a great job in changing my diet after we established I am allergic to some food ingredients like gluten,” Djokovic said at his home event in Belgrade.
“It means I can’t eat stuff like pizza, pasta and bread. I have lost some weight but it’s only helped me because my movement is much sharper now and I feel great physically.”
Donald phenom-no-more Young hit rock bottom this weekend, going nusto on the USTA after losing to 176-ranked Tim Smyczek in the finals of the USTA’s French Open wild card tournament. He was outraged that the organization, which has offered him financial support and training over the years, wouldn’t give him the wildcard outright, given his recent success at a challenger event and rise into the top 100.
In case you missed it, here’s Young on Twitter: “Fuck the USTA! Their (sic) Full of shit! They have screwed me for the last time!” He later apologized on Twitter for the profanity but “but not the thought behind it” and eventually deleted his account.
USTA head of player development, Patrick McEnroe, called a press conference on Monday to “set the record straight” about what the USTA’s done to help its players. Here’s some of what he said (Via USA Today)
“We’re not withdrawing our support. We want our players to do well. Quite frankly, I’m offended. I’m offended for the people on our team that have worked very hard to try to help Donald because when he said what he said about them, I think it was taken quite personally by a lot of members of the Player Development team. I think that Donald should apologize for what he said. I think at that point we can move on.”
PMac tried to make it a “teaching moment”:
“Every time Donald has come and worked with our team, he’s been an absolute delight. He’s been an absolute pleasure for our guys to work with. When he comes, he does what we tell him to do. He goes with the program. He’s gotten better and stronger. There’s no doubt in my mind that he can get a lot better and become a top-50, top-30, maybe even a top-20 player. But you can’t go halfway. You need to be all in. He’s not totally all in.”
The LATimes reports that Young subsequently apologized privately to USTA coaches David Nainkin and Jay Berger, who have spent time working with him.
“What Donald said really hurt, to be honest,” Berger said. “And sometimes you have to earn things. This was one of the easiest paths to a Grand Slam. Basically, Donald had to beat a guy ranked 176th in the world. Maybe what he said was out of anger but it still hurt.”
Young finished the walk of shame on Tuesday, with an apology to Patrick McEnroe and the USTA in general. Via The Canadian Press:
“Basically, I want to just apologize for what I said and the way I said it,” Young said in an interview with The Associated Press. “It wasn’t the right way to say it, at all. I appreciate the USTA’s support over the years. It helped me out a lot. I’m ready to turn the page. I’m proud to be an American player. I need the USTA’s help to keep going further in my career.”
Young said McEnroe accepted his apology.
“He wants nothing but the best for me. He wants me to do well,” Young said.
Wow, anyone else exhausted from all these apologies? It’s all very middle school to me – bratty kid acts out, teacher gets stern, child brought in front of the classroom to apologize to all wounded parties, back to checking the algebra homework. And what did we all get out of this exactly? Some entertaining crowing by the media, I guess. This column by Bruce Jenkins is particularly harsh (via SI.com):
What’s abundantly clear, though, is that Young made a huge mistake here. This is a guy with a 16-48 lifetime record on tour, including 2-11 in majors and 4-40 after losing the first set. Whether he has been properly coached or not, he was a highly touted prodigy who turned into a bust. He has no appealing on-court qualities, nothing suggesting the type of rangy, powerful athlete being developed in countries all over the world. We have such athletes in America, but they sure as hell aren’t playing tennis, and Donald Young is definitely not among them.
It wouldn’t be right for Young and his parents to just go quietly if they felt they were being wronged at the highest level. But “F— USTA!” won’t get you very far in a very white, buttoned-down world, nor will “Their full of s—!”, even if you know how to spell. Good luck in your next career, Donald. This one went right down the dumpster.
OUCH! Honestly, I’ve always kind of liked Young. There’s a kind of fragility and shyness about him – something begging to be recognized. Maybe he is, ultimately, a failed phenom, but pro tennis is nothing if not unpredictable. That old cliche about hitting rock bottom and having no where to go but up could work out for him. Could this final act of rebellion actually open some doors?
The USTA likely won’t get an apology from the hardcourt hating Spaniards, who objected to the installation of the not-technically-ITF-approved Indoor Hard Premiere surface for the USA vs. Spain Davis Cup tie in Austin this July. Rafa’s protests and an official appeal by the Spanish Team went unheeded by the ITF, the organization ruling that the surface wasn’t created in a laboratory with the sole purpose of deflecting Andy Roddick’s serve at 300 mph. It’s just run-of-the-mill acrylic.
It must have been a slow day at TMZ yesterday: “We’re told Serena hit the studio last week to lay down a few tracks … and is working with a record label owned by Minnesota Vikings star Bryant McKinnie. During the session, we’re told Serena did some work with renowned hip-hip producer DJ Clue … and she wasn’t half-bad.”
Tuesday was the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and, Maria Sharapova, who turned 24 years old (still so young!) earlier this month, has devoted an entire section of her website to the topic. She explains:
“25 years ago today, my life changed forever and I was not even born yet!! I know that sound impossible, but when the worst nuclear disaster in the history of the world happened 40 miles from where my entire family lived, life changed for many families like mine. Soon after the disaster my mother became pregnant with little old me!!! My parents had to act fast because this was no place to be pregnant and have a baby. Luckily, my Grandparents were working in western Siberia and we fled to the city of Nyagan, where I was born. Two years later, my parents still did not want to bring me back near the disaster and we moved to Sochi, Russia. I started playing tennis at age 4 and I think everyone knows the story from there.
BUT!!! The story people don’t know is what I want to focus on today. How one disaster completely effected one area in the world and how 25 years later it still haunts my people. But today I want to thank and remember all the great heroes and their families that sacrificed their lives to help people during this disaster. I want to focus on the future and give everyone hope in this region that they can live normal lives, and dream BIG. Please take the time to “click” around my special Chernobyl page on my site if you would like to learn more about Chernobyl and how you can help.”
Click here for more from Maria, who is getting ready to play on the red clay in Madrid “Hello from clay court boot camp!” Maria said last week on Facebook. “I can almost slide (just joking!)”
And finally, as we talk about all things tennis, President Obama attempted a tweener while playing tennis with Chris Evert on Monday at the White House Easter Egg Roll.
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images via Daylife
The theme for this year’s event was “Get up and go!”, fitting in with the First Lady’s “Let’s Move!” campaign.