A Few Tennis Pros Make a Fortune. Most Barely Scrape By. – The New York Times

“On Halloween night 2019, the Canadian tennis player Vasek Pospisil faced Chris O’Connell, an Australian, in a third-round match at the Charlottesville Men’s Pro Challenger in Virginia. The event was part of the A.T.P. Challenger Tour, a rung below the main circuit in men’s tennis. The match had a minor-league vibe: There were maybe a dozen spectators, and one of them was Pospisil’s coach. The total purse for the weeklong tournament was just $54,000, not uncommon for Challenger-level events. The winner would get $7,200.

Pospisil, a former Wimbledon doubles champion who sometimes sips maple syrup for energy during matches, was playing there as part of his comeback from an injury that sidelined him for the first half of the 2019 season. A strapping 6-foot-4 with perpetually flushed cheeks and thighs that look as if they were stolen from a linebacker, Pospisil has an aggressive game built around a big first serve, a concussive forehand and a deft touch at the net. O’Connell normally plays attacking tennis himself. Against Pospisil, however, he was thrust into the role of counterpuncher.

The match was a case study in contrasting fortunes as well. Tennis had left Pospisil very comfortable, with more than $5 million in career earnings. He was happy just to break even in Charlottesville and could afford certain luxuries, such as the presence of his coach and meals from Whole Foods, not available to many players on the Challenger circuit. The 25-year-old O’Connell, on the other hand, had made less than $200,000 as a pro and had cleaned boats and worked in a Lululemon shop to sustain himself financially. Heading into the match against Pospisil, he was ranked No. 139. He had recently won a Challenger event and reached the semifinal of another. He would go on to finish 2019 having won 82 matches in total, more than any other man or woman on the pro tour. Yet, after expenses, he would earn just $15,000 or so.”

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:

Thank you Michael Steinberger for this oustanding report. I’m caught off guard. Watching Novak Djokovic in the French Open, I decided to dislike him forever, mostly, because he bounces the ball too many times and takes too long before serving. Such behaviour is repulsive and unsportsmanlike. It is so difficult to find out that he is actually a good guy, maybe a hero of sorts, who just takes too long to serve, because of child abuse or some dark insecurity. Novak, I will support your union, and with enthsusiam, if you limit your ball bounces to six per serve.

David Lindsay prefers 24 serves to warm up his serve, writes about everything under the sun, including tennis, and occassionally climate change, at Inconvenientnews.net.

Lindsay Crouse | Naomi Osaka’s French Open Power Move – The New York Times

Ms. Crouse is an Opinion writer and producer.

“When Naomi Osaka dropped out of the French Open on Monday, after declining to attend media interviews that she said could trigger her anxiety, she wasn’t just protecting her mental health. She was sending a message to the establishment of one of the world’s most elite sports: I will not be controlled.

This was a power move — and it packed more punch coming from a young woman of colorWhen the system hasn’t historically stood for you, why sacrifice yourself to uphold it? Especially when you have the power to change it instead.

Women have long functioned as bit players in sports industries designed by and for men. Now Ms. Osaka, who at 23 is the top-earning female athlete in history, is part of a growing group of female athletes who are betting that they’ll be happier — and maybe perform better, too — by setting their own terms. Increasingly, they have the stature and influence to do so.

In 2019, the runner Mary Cain, now 25, explained how rather than continue to harm her mental health by competing for Nike’s famed track coach Alberto Salazar, she left the sport in 2017 for a few years — and wound up changing it. She is starting a new kind of women’s track team, in which the athletes are employees of a nonprofit instead of working for a corporation.  . . .”

Assessing Osaka’s Sad Departure From the French Open – The New York Times

“PARIS — Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal from the French Open was not the outcome anyone in tennis desired, and yet it happened just the same.

It could likely have been avoided through better communication and smarter decisions, but on Monday night the sport’s most prominent young star felt she had no better option than to pull out of the year’s second Grand Slam tournament.

Her second-round match with Ana Bogdan will be a walkover for Bogdan instead of another chance for the second-ranked Osaka, 23, to make steps forward on red clay, a surface that has long bedeviled her.

“Above all, it’s just really sad: for her, for the tournament, for the sport,” said Martina Navratilova, a former No. 1 who has seen plenty of tennis turmoil in her 50 years in the game. “She tried to sidestep or lessen a problem for herself and instead she just made it much bigger than it was in the first place.” . . .  “

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:

This is a sad and creepy story. Like many other commenters, I do not care for and sometimes detest and usually turn off most of the forced inteviews after matches, and am often appauled by how rude to the players they occassionally seem to be. I had no idea they were mandatory, and that seems a bit criminal.

This tennis fan has nothing but contempt for the managers of the the French Open responsible for this debacle, for their appauling insensitivity to one of of the games most extraordinary, well mannered and sensitve new talents. Claiming discomfort and depression is not a good enough excuse to skip an after match press conference? What sleezy bullies. Most if not all of us tennis fans do not turn on this sport to watch the awkward after game interviews. We want to watch and enjoy the brilliant and demanding game of tennis.

Simone Biles Dials Up the Difficulty, ‘Because I Can’ – The New York Times

INDIANAPOLIS — Simone Biles, the most decorated gymnast in history, is renowned for performing moves so difficult, and so distinctive, that several have been named after her.

On Saturday, she executed a new one considered so dangerous that no other women even attempt it.

Her latest signature skill is called a Yurchenko double pike. Biles attempted it in competition for the first time on Saturday night at the U.S. Classic, her first competition in 18 months.

A Surprise (?) at the Winter Olympics: It’s Really Cold – The New York Times

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Officials from the Korea Meteorological Administration sat behind microphones in front of an overflow audience of journalists. Interpreters converted the officials’ words through the headsets of those unable to speak Korean. There was anxiousness. People put their thumbs to their phones, ready to share the news on Twitter immediately. It was as if Punxsutawney Phil were making his Groundhog Day weather prediction in a teeming conference room. The message was hardly a revelation:

Source: A Surprise (?) at the Winter Olympics: It’s Really Cold – The New York Times