So let's start with some intersport comparisons, a favorite activity here. A few minutes after the Super Bowl, I asked via Twitter if Giants quarterback Eli Manning is the NFL's Rafael Nadal, and Patriots QB Tom Brady is Roger Federer.
I enjoyed watching Mary Joe Fernandez as a player, I enjoy listening to her as a commentator, and I've enjoyed the success she's had as Fed Cup captain. What I would enjoy even more, however, is for her to say to the Williams sisters, "It's obvious you don't care enough about this competition to play, and that's your prerogative. But I, at least, am going to stop this silly and transparent charade about you wanting to and saying that you will, so you can appear patriotic, and then pulling out at the last minute. From this point on, Fed Cup is a Williams-free Zone." The team has done very well without the Williamses, and they are a joy to watch, because they all want to be there and enjoy being on the team together. --Chris F., Otsego, Minn.
1. Cup chatter: The Fed Cup is not just what Roger wears when he plays hockey. It suffers the same scheduling issues as its brother, the Davis Cup, yet lacks the history and sponsorship. It's had a hard time attracting the top players and squeezing itself into a crowded calendar. But like a dogged counterpuncher, the Fed Cup keeps fighting. And it's done well for itself recently. The events last weekend -- occurring during a dead spot on the WTA schedule -- drew familiar names and generated some compelling matches. Despite the sudden absence of Justine Henin on account of a broken finger, the Belgium-Estonia throwdown (note the pains we go to, avoiding use the confusing phrase "tie") drew a capacity crowd in Hasselt. Thanks to the heroics of Daniela Hantuchova, the Slovak Republic upset Jelena Jankovic and Serbia. Melanie Oudin, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Liezel Huber joined forces to stage a gripping comeback/upset of a Russian side led by Elena Dementieva. Tracy Austin was in my
1. The Fed Cup didn't exactly threaten the Super Bowl -- or, for that matter, UFC 109 -- as the weekend's biggest sporting event. But the competition served up some spirited tennis and intriguing results. In Lievin, France, the U.S. team pulled an upset grande. Melanie Oudin played the best tennis since her U.S. Open breakthrough, winning both her matches. And Bethanie Mattek-Sands won in singles and in doubles alongside Liezel Huber. The Williams sisters didn't play and can't really be blamed; the competition isn't exactly a top priority, even within the sport. But the U.S. B-team earned a solid "A." Well done.
New world No. 1 Serena Williams will take on her older sister and defending champion Venus in the final of the season-ending WTA Championships in Qatar on Sunday as injuries again took their toll on the world's top women tennis players.
History was made last Friday at the Rogers Cup in Montreal, when the world's top eight players took part in the quarterfinals of the same tournament for the first time since the ATP Tour starting the rankings in August 1973.