If you don't read it each week, you should. Jon's a great writer with CNN/SI, and I think his Mailbag is a great source of up-to-date info. This week's Mailbag is devoted, in large part, to an inteview with Monica Seles. But Jon does mention the Pim-Pim nickname and he mentions Nadal, too. :lol: Anyway, I won't post his Mailbag column each week (takes up a lot of space), but I heartily recommend that you check it out each Monday. You can view it every Monday at http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/tennis/ It doesn't get much better than this. It's up to date tennis news, with humor, and a bit more. Enjoy!: A conversation with Monica Seles says she's not ready to retire, but health will dictate comeback Posted: Monday March 1, 2004 4:44PM; Updated: Monday March 1, 2004 6:16PM Monica Seles was in town the other day and she graciously agreed to meet for coffee, talk about her status, and take a few stabs at some of the questions we repeatedly are asked here at Mailbag HQ. Wertheim: We get this one at least once a day: For once and for all, what's up with Monica Seles? Seles: Am I retiring? (laughs) Wertheim: No, everyone knows not to go there. What's your prognosis? Seles: I've come out from the hard cast [on her left foot] and I've been in this thing for four and half weeks [points to an imposing boot-like contraption on her foot]. I go for an MRI next week, they'll send it over and we'll see what happens after that. So I've been immobile for about three months. [My return] depends on the MRI, how the bone has grown back. It's not a bone you can put a screw in. I'm wearing this boot and have special taping so it doesn't really bother me. But I wear a bone-stimulating machine just to keep things strong. I'm not hitting on the court but I sit on a bench and hit just to keep my feel, my touch and keep my calluses. I started doing swimming and weight training. You know, after the stabbing I didn't do anything for two-and-a-half years; but I think at this stage in my career I can't do that and expect to be back. Wertheim: Did you follow the Australian Open? Seles: I would watch the good matches -- men's and women's. I'll check the scores [on the Internet] and I know who played the finals of Paris, Jennifer [Capriati]'s Dubai results, things like that. But everyone else has been injured. Wertheim: Injuries are a hot Mailbag topic. What do you attribute them to? Seles: The tours really have to look at the schedule. The WTA has done a great job listening to the players, and I think that's important. I'm in the last stages of my career, but these girls are in the middle stages. [The injuries] are already starting at this age, and somebody has to look into that. I don't know the solution but it's not normal ... everyone is injured and everyone is injured for a long time, too. Wertheim: Could it be the tougher competition? Seles: Yeah, the competition, and I think it could also be the court surface. A lot of tournaments are played on hard courts. Plus now you have to do so much more pounding on your body. The way the game is played you have to be a lot stronger, there's a lot more wear and tear on your muscles. I was really injury-free until 1999. You need your big names to stay around. You also have to think of younger generation: the longer these players are around, obviously, the better. Wertheim: What do you make of Justine Henin-Hardenne's run? Seles: It's been amazing. I like watching her play, I really do. You know I played her last year at the Amelia Island (S.C.) tournament and I could tell she was really confident, a different player. Wertheim: Another question that comes up a lot: Where are all the left-handers? Seles: The left-handers are one thing, but I would really like to see more serve-and-volleyers, to have a contrasting style. Every coach now is preaching staying back. Maybe when you're younger and you're physically not so developed so it's hard [to adjust to a different style], or you want the junior results and all that comes with it. Wertheim: Ahem ... Seles: (Laughs) I know, I know. Looking back, if I had a chance to change [my playing style, I definitely would have done so. You make a few additions to your game and maybe have a few years when you aren't as a good. Like Tiger Woods did a few years back. But you're better off in the long run. Wertheim: Some players are better-equipped than others to play serve-and-volley tennis. Is there one player you look at and say, "I wonder ..." Seles: Oh yeah. Serena. She volleys amazingly. When she comes back, if she adds that dimension, she's a whole different player. Wertheim: You're a traditionalist, so maybe you're not the best person to take this one. But how do you feel about adding instant replay to tennis? Seles: Actually, I would kind of like that. It would be cool for the umpires to have. That one I'm OK with. Wertheim: How about four-game sets? Seles: Four game sets, changing from two serves, no-ad scoring, moving in the lines -- it's too confusing. Wertheim: Which male players do you enjoy watching? You like [Roger] Federer as much as everyone else does? Seles: Oh yeah. He's a genius. You know, the first time I really watched him was last year in Rome [at the Telecom Italia Masters, where the men's event was immediately before the women's] and the guy is just amazing. Also Andre [Agassi] is unbelievable, still in great shape. Wertheim: What about a guy you wouldn't necessarily think of? Seles: I love to watch [Fabrice] Santoro. He's a genius. He also hits two hands off both sides. He's one of my friends. As a two-hander you learn from him, relate to him. He's more [pantomines slicing] and I'm more about hitting through. But I would love to take some of his game. Again, as a two-hander, it's a totally different mentality of play. Wertheim: Enough chitchat. Let's get to the hardball questions. Sex And the City. Carrie Bradshaw ended up with Big. You saw that coming a mile away, right? Seles: I actually lost a bet with friends! My prediction was that she would end up alone. I got one, though: I was sure she would move back to New York. I knew she wasn't going to hang in Paris. No chance. We're definitely going to miss that show. But we have another favorite: Curb Your Enthusiasm. Wertheim: Are you my Caucasian? Seles: [Laughs] Larry David is a genius. And I've never seen a single episode of Seinfeld. Every Curb Your Enthusiam is crazy, and I'm a hard person to get to laugh. That's one good thing about not traveling. You have a normal schedule and you can plan Sunday nights. Wertheim: Back to tennis. There's no telling when we'll see you again, but we will see you on the court again, correct? Seles: I'd like to play a limited schedule. I'm not going to come back and play 16 tournaments. My body can't handle that. I just want to finish my career on a good note. The last few tournaments were brutal. I just don't want to leave with that memory. I don't want to stop that way. Wertheim: But you still have it in you? Seles: I do. I wouldn't be going through this if I didn't. I've had to learn -- and this has been hard -- that even if you want to go out and play, if your body isn't listening you have to separate the two. You think your body will follow automatically. Maybe it's that I'm 30, but I'm listening to my body better. This is unknown territory for me. It would be different if it were a mental issue. "I'm tired. I had enough. I don't want to do with it." But in this case it's going to be a question of how the body holds up. Wertheim: And you're OK with turning 30? Seles: Now I'm OK. Two months ago? No. It was a big one. In tennis you feel like you've been around for ages, but in terms of my friends, they helped. They said, "Hey, you could be just out of college and starting to pay off your loans. Why are you complaining?" That gave me good perspective. ... It's a big milestone and it made me evaluate some things. But I'm in a very happy place in my life. After a long time, after all those issues, I have no issues. On to the mailbag ... Justine Henin-Hardenne continued her undefeated year, winning the Dubai tournament. Svetlana Kuznetsova, who beat the woebegone Venus Williams in the quarters, was the runner-up. In the doubles, Janette Husarova and Conchita Martinez beat Kuznetsova and Elena Likhovtseva. ... At the Brazil Open, Gustavo Kuerten won his 20th ATP title, beating Agustin Calleri in the final. In the doubles, the Polish team of Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski defeated the team of Leos Friedl and Tomas Behrend 6-2, 6-2. ... At the Open 13 event in Marseille, Dominik Hrbaty won his (get this!) third title of the year, beating talented Swedish teenager Robin Soderling in the final. ... In the doubles, top seeds Mark Knowles and Daniel Nestor beat Damm and Suk. Thirtysomething Marc Rosset (wasn't he Marat Safin's coach about a decade ago?) scored the upset of the week, beating Guillermo Coria in the early rounds. Hard-serving Gregory Carraz scored the second-biggest upset, taking out top seed Juan Carlos Ferrero in the first round. Carraz fired 27 aces past Ferrero. The week before at a challenger, he pounded 50 aces in three tie-break match against Thomas Zib. Back to JH-H. A few of you raised this point: given that she's won three of the last four Majors and is racking up lesser titles in bulk, does she still feel so strongly about the importance of parity on the WTA Tour? ... College item: In St. Peter, Minn., Emory (Ga.) beat host Gustavus Adolphus 5-2 Sunday to capture the title at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Division III National Men's Team Indoor Championships at the Swanson Tennis Center. ... Bill Clinton visited Agassi's school in Las Vegas last Tuesday. ... The WTA Tour has signed a commercial partnership with Dubai Duty Free, establishing the prominent airport retailer as a multi-faceted sponsor of the Tour's "Rest of World" region. ("Duty Free" also describes the Tour's relationship vis-à-vis its Israeli players.) ...The ATP announced the launch of the ATP Ambassadors Program, an initiative designed to promote the game of tennis at all levels through the active involvement of former ATP players. Through ATP Ambassadors, former players on the ATP circuit will share their experiences at various events such as kids' days, charity functions and speaking engagements as they increase their involvement with the ATP and its activities. In the initial phase of the program, the ATP Ambassadors have teamed with Tennis Magazine (U.S.) and former player and current ESPN announcer Cliff Drysdale to promote a number of Demo Days at select cities across the United States in 2004. ... Agassi pulled out of the Scottsdale event that begins this week -- odd given that Agassi has an equity stake in the tournament. ... Readers are advised to look out for reigning Orange Bowl 18s champion Nicole Vaidisova. The lanky teenager from the Czech Republic won the World Tennis Cup of Columbus, a USTA Pro Circuit Women's $25,000 Challenger last week. Vaidisova, two months shy of her 15th birthday (April 23), cruised through the draw without losing a set. From the Shameless Plug department: Noah Baerman of Middletown, Conn., a charter member of the Mailbag community, has released a benefit album. Check out his Web site for info and sound samples. Back to Seles. She was in New York as part of an awareness campaign for Imotrex, a drug used to fight migraine headaches. She has suffered from migraines since she was a teenager -- sometimes in the middle of matches -- and has been taking Imotrex since 1997. Her message: "If you have headaches see a doctor!"... And, thanks to Monica, we only have time for a few questions ... Not to stir anything up or anything, but tonight I read a quick response from another Web site to your Mailbag: "SI.com's Jon Wertheim thinks the first gay men's player to come out on tour won't be met with a negative backlash? SI.com's Jon Wertheim hasn't spent a lot of time in the homophobic men's locker rooms on tour. Perhaps not a negative media backlash, but don't give the locker room meatheads too much credit." -- Fontaine Lien, Los Angeles It's true. I haven't spent a lot of time in tennis locker rooms. But that doesn't make me dissimilar from most players. In team sports, the "clubhouse" is a real epicenter -- bonds among teammates harden, card games are played, film is watched, interviews conducted. In tennis, the locker room is where players shower and massage before going home. Sure, some meatheads might make the odd crack in passing. But who cares. The gay player doesn't depend on these guys to throw him the ball, or block for him, or allot his playing time. He doesn't sit with them on the team flight and he doesn't have to worry about how his sexuality affects team chemistry. A few other points: My sense that other players can handle a gay colleague wasn't spitting out the politically correct party line. I've asked a few players about this in casual conversation and the question was met with shrugs. You'd think I'd had asked, "How would feel if another player announced he had an allergy to peanuts?" I've argued this with a few of you this week, but I still maintain that tennis players are, on the whole, more tolerant than other athletes. Tennis players come from six continents (Note to the Antarctica Federation: get with the program!). They're old and young, married and single, tall and short, black and white, come from wealth, come from poverty. The tent is so big as is, I'd like to think there is room for an openly gay player as well. Why is it that every time I send you a question you ignore my questions but answer everyone else's? I asked you what happened to Mirjana Lucic, and you and you ignored it! I think you are a conceded [sic] jerk! -- Thomas White, Arlington, Va. See where flattery gets you? Lucic pops up from time to time trying to qualify for Grand Slams. The WTA Tour believes she's still living in Florida and is still technically an "active" player. But to say she has fallen off the map would be to traffic in understatement. This is really a sad story. You sense that if her family situation had been more stable, she might well be nestled in the top 10. Growing up in Argentina, I remember that when Guillermo Vilas won the '77 U.S. Open he was the No. 1 player of the year. Since a few years ago, many Chilean friends say that Marcelo Rios is the first and only No. 1 South American player. Can you clarify that? -- Octavio, Glen Allen, Va. Our friends at the ATP inform us that while Vilas definitely had the best Grand Slam results in 1977 -- winning the French and U.S. Opens and reaching the final in Australia -- the year-end rankings that year had Connors No. 1. Vilas was No. 2. In fact, in the history of the ATP Rankings, Vilas never became No. 1. Rios was the first South American to rank No. 1, in 1998. And Gustavo Kuerten followed shortly after (in 2000), becoming the first South American to finish the year at No. 1. Line calls don't cost you matches in college; it's losing your focus when you get bad calls that does. -- Marc, San Diego Good point. But all the more reason to let players call their own lines. Am I only the person who'd be fascinated to see how players react to questionable calls? Which ones have the serenity to shake it off and which ones implode? Seems to me anything that sharpens the players' core personalities and elicits their true psychological make-ups adds another dimension to the sport's appeal. Re: last week's question about Flavio Saretta, here's an addendum from our Brazil bureau: Saretta is a highly talented and quick baseliner and, although he definitely prefers to play on clay, he's been showing development on faster surfaces (he has reached the third round in Wimbledon the last couple of years, for example). He hits his forehand with too much spin (you rarely see a winner from that side), but has a tremendous (underrated, I'd say) two-handed backhand. Too bad he's a bit of a knucklehead. It doesn't take much to make him to scream, shout, destroy his racket and sometimes drop the match because of that. If you still haven't, I'd recommend you to write down a name: Juan Monaco, a 19-year old Argentinean. After seeing him play a few matches in this first months, I wouldn't be surprised if he cracks the top 50 as soon as the end of the year. If you want to take a closer look, I send you here an explicit self-promoting link. I'm in charge of the English version of this week's Brasil Open, where he went past the qualifying tournament and upset second seed Nicolás Massú. Here's that match's report. I am disappointed that no one has asked you this oldie-but-goodie since Ferrero, Federer and Roddick came through in 2004: Who is the next man to win his first slam? And who is the man outside the top tier most likely to pull a Thomas Johansson and string seven bloody good matches together to come from nowhere and take one home? -- Cam Bennett, Wollongong, Australia It wouldn't stun me if Coria or Nadal or Nalbandian won in Paris. And perhaps a big server -- the suddenly woebegone Mark Philippoussis, the suddenly hip Joachim Johansson -- got into the zone at Wimbledon. But I wouldn't be surprised if at least a year went by without another first-time Slam winner. The players you mention in addition to Agassi, Safin, Moya and Hewitt represent an awful lot of talent. Is there any player who has the edge in terms of head-to-head match victory over all the players in the pro tour? -- James Primo Bagoy, Manila, Philippines Good question, albeit one we're too lazy to look up ourselves. First person to help out gets Nemo sunglasses, a new box of crayons or a similar party favor. With the industrial amounts of press ink spilled on the Alex Rodriguez trade to the Yankees, it seems that ultimately he'll be the athlete known and referred to as "A-Rod." But while I believe that Andy Roddick is the original "A-Rod," my boyfriend argues that that distinction has always belong to Rodriguez. Could you in any way help settle this relationship-threatening dispute? A bet involving unpleasant house chores is also on the line. -- Name lost by careless Mailbag administor Roddick had the best answer to this a few weeks ago: "[rodriguez] can have the nickname if I can have his money." But as long as unpleasant chores hang in the balance, ask your boyfriend this one: Shouldn't the A-Rod who has reached the pinnacle of his sport get free and clear title of the nickname? What does "Pim-Pim" (Joachim Johansson's nickname) mean? -- Linghu, Inner Mongolia, China Our sources tell us that it refers to a Swedish candy. See, this is what I love about tennis: Fans from Inner Mongolia curious about a Swedish player who's recently made a name for himself in Adelaide and Memphis. Have a great week, everyone!