Is Nikolay Davydenko the new "Greatest to have not yet won a Slam?" Beating both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal two tournaments in a row surely elevates him on that list? Maybe he's not such a dark horse for the 2010 Australian Open! -- Andrew Roth, Sacramento
1. He might not have the largest fan base and he might not rake in the endorsements, but it's awfully hard to deny Nikolay Davydenko his props. The Russian veteran won the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London, beating a "Who's Who" of men's tennis, including Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro in the final two matches. His powers of recovery were remarkable, as he played match after grueling match and still returned with sufficient reserves the following day. And, in a larger sense, his powers of recovery are admirable. He's returned from both injuries and an unfortunate controversy to reassert himself as a top-five player.
The image of tennis has long been that of a rather dainty exercise, played before ladies and gentlemen on lawns -- not anything so de classe as "fields." It was the last major sport where amateurs, not those grubby professionals, competed in the most important championships. "Love" is in the scoring. The one expression most often used to put down its snooty image is: "Tennis, anyone?"
I'd like to take a second to pat myself on the back for my spot-on Davis Cup predictions. If you take a look at the column I wrote back in February, I stated this would be the year the United States would end its Davis Cup title drought. Now, with the final upon us, I feel like it's time to bask in the glory.
So Nikolay Davydenko gets fined for not putting forth his best effort -- kudos again for the ATP and tennis for doing this and protecting the sport. I still remember Vince Carter telling people proudly that he did not put forth his best effort when playing for the Toronto Raptors -- I do not recall him getting fined. The question in Davydenko's case: Was it injury or truly lack of effort? -- Jeff Hasham, Toronto
You've probably heard that suspicions were, uh, shall we say, piqued recently when millions of dollars were suddenly bet on the 87th-ranked tennis player, one Martin Arguello, when he played the world No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko in the first round of an obscure tournament somewhere you've never heard of in Poland. And, heavens to Betsy, Davydenko suddenly decided he had a toe injury and had to retire. My, my.
Early this past March, on the eve of a men's Masters Series tennis tournament at Indian Wells, Calif., the phone rang in Dmitry Tursunov's hotel room. "Would you like to make some money?" the caller asked. It wasn't the first time the 27th-ranked Russian had been asked that question in that particular way. In the fall of 2006, Tursunov was contacted by an unknown voice offering cash for match fixing. "It happened to a lot of players," he said. "I don't know if it's the same person, but I think everybody gets contacted. And whether you act on it or not, it's a problem."
Open the Mailbag boasting about how clean tennis is, and look at what you get: "As the NBA grapples with a betting scandal, tennis must now confront a potential gambling scam of its own. Officials on Friday were investigating suspicious betting patterns on a match involving top-seeded Nikolay Davydenko of Russia, who retired with an injury against a low-ranked opponent at an ATP tournament in Poland." -- Jim Bartle, Huaraz, Peru
He's the third-ranked tennis player in the world and yet, he could walk around your town for days without being recognized. In fact, he could probably walk around his town for days without being recognized. But that's about to change.
A couple of years back, you did an article on Fernando Gonzalez. Looking back at his evolution from the big gun 'n' forehand guy to the current player who beat Rafael Nadal, what has changed? -- Rex Jim, Leipzig, Germany