Wimbledon Diary - Monday 2 July 2012
Poor Rafa Nadal!
Critics are quick to explain his demise last week as being due to his team chasing the money.
We all know he is a man of routine and it seems his team persuaded him to abandon the AEGON Championships at Queen's in favour of a more lucrative three-year offer from the Gerry Weber Open at Halle in Germany where he lost in the quarter-finals.
Now his second round loss is being attributed to his lack of preparation on British grass.
The hope is he will return to Wimbledon in three weeks' time to defend his Gold medal at the Olympics following some rest at home in Mallorca.
Ahead of that, though, is a major exhibition match against his nemesis, Novak Djokovic, which takes place at the Bernabeu football stadium in Madrid on 14 July in aid of Nadal's Foundation.
Already 30,000 tickets have been sold with the aim being to break all attendance records for a single match.
We were so worried.
Rufus, the Harrier Hawk, that patrols Wimbledon daily to see off the pigeon population, was snatched by thieves from a driveway in Dunstall Road between Thursday and Friday.
A police spokesman said Rufus was taken from a car parked on a private drive where he slept overnight in his travel box with the rear window open for ventilation.
The hawk, which deters pigeons purely by his presence, is also a family pet and the family are very attached to the bird, who is now four-and-a-half years old.
Rufus has his own Twitter account, which went silent following his abduction, but fans will be relieved to know that he tweeted early on Sunday that he was healthy and well, having been handed in to the RSPCA Animal Hospital in Putney over the weekend.
According to reports, his travel box was found abandoned on Friday morning and was reported to the authorities.
Rufus was reared by the family-run business Avian Environmental Consultants and the concern was whether he was getting enough food but, although the hawk had a sore leg, he appeared in good health.
He will be having a few days rest before going back on patrol to make sure he is fully fit again.
Rufus' owner, Imogen Davis, 25, said: "We are ecstatic and so overwhelmed with all the lovely messages and help we have received."
The celebrity bird's fans are so relieved.
EQUALITY ARGUMENT RUMBLES ON
Gilles Simon is not making any friends in women's tennis as the Frenchman sticks to his guns on the equal prize money issue.
While he has been defending his viewpoint, saying a majority of male players agree with him but are afraid to speak out, Maria Sharapova has pointed out succinctly: "I'm sure there are a few more people that watch my matches than his."
Sharapova added: "Look, we women have fought so long to get equal prize money. It was a big challenge and nobody really supported us. It's been a few years since we've gotten that. We're all really proud of it, and we continue to build the sport and make it bigger."
"You know, I can't bite my tongue," Serena Williams said.
"Definitely a lot more people are watching Maria than Simon. She's way hotter than he is. Women's tennis, I think, is really awesome.
"It's a great fight. We fought for years with Billie Jean King, and Venus (Williams) as well, really set the pattern on what we should do."
But Simon doggedly clings on to his argument: "My point of view was just about the entertainment.
"If you just watch how it is working in every other sport, even for the singers, you're just paid by the public directly.
"My point was that I have the feeling that men's tennis is actually more interesting than women's tennis.
"As in any business or anything, you just have to be paid just about that. It's not because we play five sets and they are playing three."
At least Simon conceded that: "Maria is more famous than me. I know it. She deserves to earn more money than me," he said.
Roger Federer is trying not to get embroiled in the subject, saying: "I hope it doesn't become a big issue during Wimbledon. It's obviously a debate that's out there ever since, I guess, the Slams have made equal prize money. There's nothing you can do, anyway, about it."
"It's just a matter of who believes what, and then that is an endless debate. So whatever you believe," continued Federer.
All four Grand Slam tournaments pay equal prize money to men and women and in a statement Stacey Allaster, CEO of the WTA, said: "Tennis, including the Grand Slams, is aligned with our modern, progressive society when it comes to the principle of equality.
"I can't believe in this day and age that anyone can still think otherwise. This type of thinking is exactly why the WTA was founded and we will always fight for what's right."
The All England Club began paying women the same as men in 2007, one year after the French Open started giving the same prize money to the men's and women's singles champions.
The other two Grand Slam tournaments, the US Open and Australian Open, already had been doing that for years.
When Wimbledon started paying players when the professional Open era came in 1968, women's champion Billie Jean King took home a little more than a third of what was earned by men's champion Rod Laver.
"It's always been talked about, but we (have) different physiques, as well. I think we earn our money, as well," 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic said after winning in three sets Wednesday.
"I mean, I was out there 2½ hours today."
That was longer than Federer on that particular day.
Simon was recently elected to a two-year term on the ATP Player Council while Federer was elected to a third term.
THE PERFECT SET
It's the first time it's happened - the perfect set. Twenty-four points and won.
Wild-carded entry Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazahstan managed it on Saturday, winning every single point in the 15-minute first set of what became a 6-0, 6-4 victory over the French Open runner-up, Sara Errani of Italy.
In fact, it is the only so-called ‘golden set' recorded in the women's game for 44 years apparently.
"I had no idea. I was just playing every point and every game," said Shvedova, a 24-year-old who won two Grand Slam doubles titles in 2010 with Vania King.
Andy Murray's entourage seems to be getting bigger and bigger.
On Saturday, in the player box, there were four executives from ‘19' (his management company), plus his girlfriend, his physiotherapist, his hitting partner, his fitness coach, his head coach and, crucially, his website manager, the man who controls his Twitter feed.
This team is there to keep him in top physical condition as well as to buff up his image.
His mother plays a pivotal role and some say she rules the roost.
Judy Murray was invited into the Royal Box that day, showing how she is now accepted by the establishment in recognition of the job she now fulfils in charge of the LTA's elite players as well as the mother of both Andy and Jamie.
Coach Ivan Lendl sits in Murray's corner, unmoving and emotionless, and silent as a rock.
He hardly moves as all, including Judy, girlfriend Kim Sears and even best pal Dani Vallverdu jump to their feet and scream their support.
The eight-times Grand Slam winner doesn't show his emotions and after seven months with Murray is trying to induce a similar approach in his protégé.
Clearly Lendl thinks that screaming and shouting amounts to no good.
DIVOTS, A POOR SHOW
According to reports, Wimbledon officials spoke to Australia's Bernard Tomic after the racquet-smashing end to his surprise first-round loss when repairs were needed to Court 2 at Wimbledon.
The player was also fined after his loss to Belgian wildcard David Goffin when he repeatedly slammed his racket onto the grass as he walked to the net to shake hands.
"A 'talking-to', I think would be the wrong word, but we had a word with him," Wimbledon spokesman Johnny Perkins told Sydney's Sun-Herald newspaper.
"Essentially, I think it was 'this is not really the behaviour we expect, and, more to the point, you have damaged the court', and we did have to put a bit of filler in it."
Perkins said tournament officials were concerned with two aspects of the behaviour of Tomic, ranked 28th in the world.
"One is it's damaging the courts for the other competitors, and that's probably the worst bit," he told the newspaper.
"And from our side obviously it's not a great spectacle, and I'm sure Bernard thinks that as well, that with hindsight he wishes he hadn't."
Perkins said such an official approach to a player was rare at Wimbledon, but that the damage was substantial.
"If it needs filler then that means it is quite a rut," he said.
"There's normal wear and tear, which is scuffing, really, but this put really quite a dent in the surface."
World No 1 Novak Djokovic has been nominated in three categories at the upcoming 20th annual ESPY awards, hosted by the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles on 11 July.
Djokovic was recognised for his stunning run in 2011 with a nomination for Best Male Athlete.
The Serbian won three Grand Slam titles and a record five ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crowns en route to finishing the season ranked No 1 in the year-end South African Airways ATP Rankings.
If he is to take home the accolade, fans will have to vote Djokovic past some stiff competition.
He is pitted against NBA regular-season and Finals MVP LeBron James, NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers and MLB MVP and Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander.
Djokovic is bidding to become the first tennis player to be awarded this honour.
The 25-year-old is also up for Best Male Tennis Player and it's no surprise that his marquee rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are his fellow nominees in this category.
Federer took home six straight ESPYs from 2005-2010 before Nadal earned his first win last year in his seventh opportunity.
Djokovic has been nominated on three occasions.
His final nomination comes in the Best International Athlete category, needing to garner more votes than footballers Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, and golfing sensation Yani Tseng.
This distinction was last awarded in 2009, when Olympic champion Usain Bolt was declared the winner.