The National Bank Open, formerly Rogers Cup

Damien’s Spin: The Serena-Dominic debate

June 7, 2019

Williams’ loss at the French Open also created some difficulties for Dominic Thiem.

Seriously. Talk about the overlap between the tours.

Here’s what happened. Thiem was doing a press conference in the main room after winning his match when he was told Williams needed to use the room immediately so she could get her media commitments over and done with.

Thiem shifted to another room, but he wasn’t happy about it.

“I don’t really get it, I mean, seriously, what the hell,” said testy Thiem. “No, but it’s a joke, really….I have to leave the room because she’s coming?”

After thinking about it, he then up and left the secondary media room.

“Then I leave also then,” he said.

It’s not clear whether Williams insisted on getting access to the main press conference, or whether she simply insisted on getting to do her press conference immediately in no particular location.

Asked about the events the next day by Eurosport, Thiem didn’t exactly put out the fire.“Even if a junior is in there, every player has to wait. It is a matter of course,” said Thiem. “It also shows a bad personality, in my opinion. I’m 100 per cent sure (Roger) Federer or (Rafael) Nadal would never do something like that.”

The “bad personality” comment landed the Austrian star on the front burner of a popular U.S. talk show, The View, hosted by Whoopi Goldberg.

“Listen man, don’t nobody know who you are!’ said Goldberg. “Don’t blame her. Stop being a bonehead.”

That Goldberg was seemingly unaware Thiem is one of the biggest stars of the men’s tour, well, that’s entertainment.

Call Kei Nishikori the spoiler. The national dream wrecker.

The Japanese right-hander has over his career put together a nearly spotless record against opponents playing in their national Grand Slam tournaments. When he outlasted Benoit Paire 6-2, 6-7, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5 in Paris, Nishikori moved to a spectacular 14-1 in those situations.

He is 10-1 against various Frenchmen at Roland Garros, with his only loss to Richard Gasquet in 2016 in the Round of 16. He is 2-0 against Aussies at the Australian Open and 2-0 against Americans at the US Open. He has never played a British player at Wimbledon.

Against Canadians at the Rogers Cup, meanwhile, he is 1-0. That lone victory came versus qualifier Peter Polansky in the Round of 64 at Montreal in 2013. Nishikori actually dropped the first set, but came back to win 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 in a night match.

It was “As The World Turns” on the doubles court in Paris, the world’s most romantic city.

Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares had combined over three-and-a-half years to win a pair of Grand Slam titles, both in 2016 at the U.S. Open and Australian Open. But the 33-year-old Murray and 37-year-old Soares played their last match together in Paris, losing in the first round to Lorenzo Sonego and Mateo Berrettini.

Murray said it was his decision to end the partnership.

“We had an amazing three-and-a-half years together, a lot of great memories, won a lot of big tournaments and had a lot of fun along the way,” he said. “We had a great partnership. There’s no disputing that. . .Bruno is one of my best friends on tour but it felt like it was time for something different. That’s life.

“Obviously it was a difficult conversation to have with Bruno. It’s not an easy thing to do but it had to be done.”

Murray will now be paired with fellow Brit Neal Skupski, while Soares will team up with Mate Pavic.

“I don’t take it personally,” said Soares. “We are good friends but it is our job and if he thinks it is best for him to change things up and play with a different partner then you have to respect that.”

Skupski, interestingly, had to manage an even more difficult doubles divorce in order to team up with Murray, breaking up his doubles tandem with his brother, Ken.

Meanwhile, Murray’s more famous brother, Andy, will play doubles with Feliciano Lopez at the Queen’s Club event this month. Jamie Murray had made it clear there was no chance he and his brother would form a doubles team.

The Murray-Soares team made it to the final of the Rogers Cup in 2016, beating the Canadian team of Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil along the way but ultimately losing to Ivan Dodig and Marcello Melo in straight sets in Toronto. In 2017 and 2018, Murray and Soares were quickly eliminated in their first match.

No good deed goes unpunished, the saying goes.

Marco Trungelleti certainly believed he was doing the right thing, giving testimony to the Tennis Integrity Unit last year about being approached by a would-be match fixer, the same person who approached three other Argentinian players.

That testimony was used as part of the case against his countryman Nicolas Kicker, then No. 84 in the world, the highest ranked player every convicted of a match-fixing offence. Kicker has been banned for three years. Soon after, two other players from Argentina, Frederico Coria and Patricio Heras, also received suspensions.

The T.I.U. did not hide Trungelleti’s role as a whistleblower, and a year after he made a splash at Roland Garros with his surprise first round upset of Bernard Tomic, he returned as an outcast, saying he felt resented by other players after Kicker was banned.

“The rest of the players were not shaking my hand anymore,” he told The New York Times.
He said he was surprised to learn not all players were reporting contacts from potential match fixers, as they are required to do.

“Now I realize it wasn’t like that,” he said. “Sometimes I can understand, but I don’t accept it. Because as long as you keep quiet, you are allowing that system to keep living. You keep feeding it.”

Trungelliti, ranked 139th in the world, lost in the first round of qualifying at the French Open.


(Feature photo: Kathryn Riley/BNP Paribas Open)