From this week's mailbag:
-- Darise, Amherst
• Not gauche. And depending on where the event is held, it might not even be dangerous. I do think you've also highlighted a...I don't want to say a flaw, but maybe an "odd dimension" of Davis Cup. In this era of globalization, who can really get worked up in a nationalistic frenzy, cheering against those dastardly Swiss?
Now that Rafa is the year-end No. 1, Sampras' record of six years
as year-end No. 1 remains. Am I right? You had mentioned earlier in one
of your mail bags that "it's one of sports' most underrated records." I
thought I would point that out now. Fed was year-end No. 1 for five
-- Shanky Fremont, Calif.
• Good point. Pete Sampras, take a bow. Long as you brought up Sampras, as many of you know, I've been spending this fall trying to write a book about Federer, Nadal and the 2008 Wimbledon final. In the course of the research, I've really been struck by how classily Sampras has handled the "Greatest Ever" talk and his relationship with Federer more generally. Hard to imagine too many other athletes embracing the guy who's gunning for their record.
I am wondering. Are you getting any questions about Sharapova
those days? Or more generally: how long does it typically take for a
player (injured or retired) to be "forgotten"? I guess you can judge
this from the mails you get.
-- D.P., Europe
• Interesting question. I'm not sure this is the greatest barometer for her relevance, but, as one would expect, the Sharapova questions have slowed to a trickle. It's funny, though, because I think she (more specifically, her health) is a fiercely relevant subject. Before her shoulder went back on the fritz, she was playing exceptionally well to start the year and is/was, I think, the obvious heiress to the top spot, the player best suited to grab the top spot and make some order of all the chaos in the women's game. If she is unable to come back, the WTA is a much weaker product.
Have you ever seen Mario Ancic and Marin Cilic in the same room at the same time?
-- Brett Davis, Los Angeles, Calif.
• When Cilic starts showing up at Croatian CLE classes, we'll know something is really up.