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LaRosa's Sweet Spot: Aug 19, 2009

8/19/2009 12:00:00 AM

LaRosa's Sweet Spot Main Page

Aug 19, 2009

Welcome to Point Counterpoint with James LaRosa and James LaRosa. Today's topic, Andy Murray supplants Rafael Nadal as our new World No 2. Let's begin.

James: YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS! Andy Murray as the World No 2 is a disaster of biblical proportions. Really take a moment and think about who we’re talking about here. Andy. Murray. Sure he’s talented, sure he’s capable of beating anyone on tour on a good day. But No 2?! He’s been in one Slam final and he’s the guy we’re supposed to get all giddy about anchoring the bottom half of the draw? It’s like pinning your beach blanket down with a child’s flip flop. IT JUST DOESN’T WORK. It’s Federer and Nadal. It’s always been Federer and Nadal. And it will always be Federer and Nadal. James, your counterpoint.

James: James you ignorant slut. From that McEnroe reference on down, that whole diatribe was nothing but antiquated thinking. Was it Descartes or Expose who said, Seasons change. You’ve got to get hip with the times, old man. Andy Murray is no flavor of the month. He’s won five titles this year, including Miami and Montreal. He has an 11-4 record against the top ten (including wins over your precious Roger and Rafa) and is the first player to hit the 50 win mark this season. Boo hoo, someone rains on the Fed/Nadal parade. God forbid there be more than one rivalry in men’s tennis. Isn’t it nice to have someone else up there for a change forcing the further evolution of the sport?

James: Uh, no it is not. Murray only slid into the No 2 spot because Rafa got hurt. Before that, the Fed/Nadal story was one of the most compelling in all of sports. They were pushing each other in amazing new ways. You think Fed/Murray has that same kind of juice? Compare the ‘08 US Open final to the ‘08 Wimbledon final. Hell, compare that US Open final to the Aussie ‘09. It’s apples and oranges, and those apples are mighty rotten.

Love him or hate him, Andy Murray is here to stay.

James: The only thing rotten is your memory. Did you not see the year end Masters Cup clash between Fed and Murray? Three sets of high drama, certainly one of the best matches of the year. And Murray gets under Roger’s skin like no one else this side of Novak Djokovic. Just yesterday Fed downplayed Murray’s rise and threw all the credit to Rafa’s absence. The Swiss is running scared because he knows there’s a new sheriff in town.

James: A sheriff with a plastic badge. The idea that a guy who’s never won a Slam could finish the year at No 1 is just horrifying to me. And mathematically, it could happen. This is a guy who said women players should be paid less than men. Who remarked after a bad day on the court that he and his opponent “played like women.” This is a tour leader? This is aspirational?

James: Once again, you’re stuck in the past. He was a kid when he said those things! And how about a little personality with your tennis? Connors and McEnroe weren’t exactly posing for Norman Rockwell paintings when they topped the rankings, and that didn’t bring the sport crashing to its knees. It added heat. Fire!

James: Tennis has seen an upswing in the U.S. Thanks in large part to Nadal and Federer. After that ‘08 Wimbledon final, kids were picking up tennis racquets saying they wanted to be just like them. And these were kids who’d never seen a match before that Championship Sunday when all the world was watching. Rafa and Fed meeting in less-watched semifinals absolutely hurts the sport. Because, God bless him, but do you really think Andy Murray has that same appeal?

James: Why wouldn't he? When you're playing lights out tennis, what’s not to look up to?

James: I feel like I’m talking to myself here.

James: What do you want me to say? Rafael Nadal is an international megastar and one of the greatest players the game’s ever seen, and his absence has weakened the game? Okay fine. Maybe you’re right.

James: Hold on now. Maybe it hasn’t weakened it per se. It’s allowed Roddick and del Potro to flex some new muscle. Tsonga and Soderling. Rajeev Ram. Kept the results from being such foregone conclusions…

James: Yeah, Juan Martin del Potro, ‘09 US Open champ. That’s going to be a dream story for the press.

James: Yeah, but great tennis is great tennis right? The cream should rise to the top, whoever‘s churning it out.

James: Cream goes stale quick. The WTA tour has been in crisis since Justine Henin bounced, with rotating No 1’s all seemingly incapable of handling the pressure. Quality has suffered. The ATP tour has been so spectacular because of the stability at the top. One crack and the dam could blow. You’ve convinced me, Andy Murray as No 2 is a disaster.

James: You’re an idiot. Andy Murray is a genius and the future of the sport.

We’re out of time. Next week‘s hot button issue, Sharapova’s head tie. What’s up with that? Thanks for joining us.

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P.S. Inspired by my awesomely bad tennis sites column from a few weeks back, I bit the bullet and have joined Justin Gimelstob and Serena Williams on Twitter. If you need a 140-character dose of the Sweet Spot and you can't wait till Wednesday, have I got a twit for you. Follow me at www.twitter.com/JamesLaRosa. It should be a trainwreck.