The Daily Bagel is your dose of the interesting reporting, writing and quipping from around the Internet.
• Video: Roger Federer hits the court for his first practice session in Melbourne. He tweeted about it, too.
• Overnight roundup: The seeds are tumbling at the Sydney International. Top seed and defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska was knocked out by Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Jelena Jankovic lost to the always-dangerous-in-Australia Ekaterina Makarova and Caroline Wozniacki fell to Lucie Safarova. The seed shakeup opens the door for Madison Keys and Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who play each other for a place in the quarterfinals. … On the men’s side, the two Americans in the draw, Ryan Harrison and Sam Querrey, are out after the first round.
• Over at the Hobart International, Alison Riske upset Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to advance to her fourth career quarterfinal. … In Auckland, two young Americans have a shot at upsets, with Donald Young taking on defending champion David Ferrer and Jack Sock up against No. 2 seed Tommy Haas.
• The New York Times’ Ben Rothenberg on how College Park, Md., became a breeding ground for young tennis talent, including Francis Tiafoe, 15, the youngest Orange Bowl champion.
Misha Kouznetsov, a former collegiate player in Baltimore, has coached Tiafoe since he was 8. Kouznetsov stressed that the continuity he had working with Tiafoe was a major advantage of the center’s setup.
In the United States Tennis Association model, Kouznetsov said, “The coaches work at one age group for maybe one year or two, and then the next coach takes it for one year or two, and then another coach.”
“So you could be there for six years with six different guys, and there’s not as much passion and involvement and there’s not as much consistency,” he said. “Here, we work together maybe 80 percent of the time, and then he’s in the clinics doing live ball, playing matches, the rest, and then doing fitness or schoolwork.”
• Good read from Peter Bodo on Margaret Court’s 24 Grand Slam titles and why it’s a tough record for tennis historians to reckon with.
Court’s nearest rival in the record books is Steffi Graf, with 22 major singles titles, and her closest active rival is Serena Williams, with 17 Slams. It seems that Court’s record may never be broken. But while Court was a great player, I’m not sure she was 24 majors great. However I am convinced that no other player’s record is marred by such a great asterisk, which is a great shame.
You might think that as the Open era rolls on, such a thorny and unsatisfying situation would fade into oblivion. But this one won’t, because it can’t. Court’s record will only loom larger and larger as great players come and go; there may be no legitimate shot at wiping out that vestigial asterisk the way Pete Sampras did, when he broke Roy Emerson’s mark of 12 majors. The men’s Grand Slam singles title record now held by Roger Federer is an Open era achievement, and it will never bear an asterisk—unless the structure of the game undergoes some other revolution.
• Is Bernard Tomic this generation’s Mark Philippoussis? Talented players who lack that killer instinct? Richard Hinds of The Sunday Telegraph examines.
The Tomic/Philippoussis takes you into dangerous waters. Is their unpopularity linked, somehow, to their ethnic origins and the belief of some that they lack that elusive – even mythical – “Aussie spirit”. In Philippoussis’s case, something echoed in the taunts occasionally snarled in tennis hallways after a disappointing defeat: “Mate, he’s just a soft wog”.
Tomic also suffers the hopes and routine disappointments of Australian tennis. Philippoussis, at least, was merely part of a brief regeneration with Rafter and Hewitt also shouldering the burden.
But mostly Tomic has lost public sympathy because far from being a back-court messiah with the world on his racquet, he just seems like a silly boy. Fortunately for him, in sport, redemption is only a few great performances away. Just ask Mitchell Johnson.
• Speaking of Tomic, his father, John, was in the stands to watch him compete at the Sydney International despite his ban from the ATP. Tomic was allowed by the tournament director as a paying customer. Bernard, the defending champion, beat Marcel Granollers in the first round.
• The Australian Open men’s qualifying draw is out.
• Interesting look here at the WTA rankings if you only take into account WTA Tour events.
• Non-tennis: How corpses helped shape the London Underground.