PostHeaderIcon Sloane, Paul, and Conflicts of Interest: A Wimbledon Day Three “Shock or Not”

Sloane Stephens (Chris Raphael/AELTC)

Sloane Stephens (Chris Raphael/AELTC)

Sloane Stephens, and her coach Paul Annacone, lead the way for my first tournament upset “Shock or Not” of the fortnight. Wondering why I included her coach? Let’s just call it a case of “Conflict of Interest” Shock. Read on for those bits, in addition to thoughts on losses by Stosur, Gulbis, Ferrer, and more.

Maria Kirilenko defeats Sloane Stephens: Shock or Not? Sadly, but predictably, NOT.

Kirilenko, someone who’s coming off of an injury-plagued year, played a very good match. However, that has nothing to do with the ever-growing body of disappointing efforts from Sloane.

I’d hate to say that I’ve kind of given up on Sloane, but I’ve kind of given up on Sloane; at least until she can stop playing the martyr. We (in the media) are not the enemy, and we don’t all want her to fail. We simply want her to stop acting like an entitled American player who enjoys the perks/money of sporting fame but doesn’t put in the effort that’s necessary to continue warranting those perks.

What was once a genuine freshness in the interview room has turned into (way too much) attitude for the on-court display of nonchalance. For what it’s worth, my advice is cut the snark, put your head down, get to work and prove us wrong!

Sloane coach Paul Annacone from her Twitter account.

Sloane coach Paul Annacone from her Twitter account.

Paul Annacone, Sloane Stephens’ coach, once again did NOT recuse himself from on-air analysis after her loss: Shock or Not? Label this a “Conflict of Interest” Shock.

Paul Annacone shouldn’t have said one word about Sloane’s match in the Tennis channel commentary afterward on Wimbledon Primetime. But he did. And what he said was stunning for its’ lack of objectivity in breaking down Sloane’s performance in that match. This may not bother others, but I’m going to have a difficult time taking him seriously after this one.

The conflicts of interest in tennis are numerous and sometimes almost legendary. For example, think back to all of the times Mary Jo Fernandez would commentate on Federer only to join her husband, Fed’s ex-agent, in his Roger’s player box at big matches.

Mary Jo’s actions always bothered me, but this one with Annacone bothered me more. Sloane pays him. So it only stands to reason that he’s not going to give as honest a critique of her efforts as other commentators will who aren’t on her payroll. That is the appearance that was suggested to me from his analysis, or lack thereof; particularly so because he offered little more than an agreement with her own assessment of the match.

Integrity matters, and the appearance that it could be lacking in the commentary booth matters more. I’m not saying that Annacone doesn’t have integrity, but I am saying that his comments on his employer appeared disingenuous because of their relationship.

Samantha Stosur (Billie Weiss/AELTC)

Samantha Stosur (Billie Weiss/AELTC)

Yanina Wickmayer defeats Samantha Stosur: Shock or Not? Absolutely Not.

Back after 2012 disappointments at Wimbledon and the Olympics, I asked Sam if she was glad to finally be off the grass for the season, she said: “Yeah. I’m not that sad that I’m off of it for another year or so.” Take a look at her record on the green stuff and you’ll quickly understand why this was no shock, no matter what her seed was coming into the tournament. Hopefully she regains some mojo back on the American hard courts.

Sergiy Stakhovsky defeats Ernests Gulbis: Shock or Not? Shock.

Ernests has never done well at Wimbledon, but I’d hoped that  his maturity as a player over this past year would translate to a better performance at this year’s Championships. Perhaps I should have known otherwise after hearing that he made quips about not wanting to be a quote machine, then followed up by promptly talking about vampires in his next press conference.

Andrey Kuznetsov defeats David Ferrer: Shock or Not? Shock, but…

It’s never a good sign when a player’s camp is silent to the extent that Ferrer’s camp was prior to the start of Wimbledon. Stomach issues kept him from playing last week, and that surely had to play into his loss against the upstart Kuznetsov. Lack of play isn’t great preparation for a grinder like Ferrer. It also doesn’t help that Kuznetsov is a former junior champion at Wimbledon.

Lauren Davis defeats Flavia Pennetta: Shock or Not? Not.

This was a great win for Davis, who’s managed a few upset scares over the past couple of years. Apart from Davis, Flavia had her moment in the 2014 sun at Indian Wells. Unfortunately, it’s going to get any brighter than that for her the rest of the season.

Fabio Fognini

Fabio Fognini

Fabio Fognini reaches the third round: Shock or Not? Yep…Shock.

I expected an early exit for Fabio, but he proved me wrong. However, he did NOT fail to disappoint on the court; amassing $27,500 in fines for unsportsmanlike conduct. Now THAT’S the Fabio we’ve all come to know and love!

Bojana Jovanovski defeats Victoria Azarenka: Shock or Not? Not.

In my preview piece of the women’s draw, I said that Vika was going “to have virtually no impact at this Wimbledon”. That was pretty much the case after a tough first-round win that was immediately followed by and even tougher second-round loss. I knew she wouldn’t go far, but I didn’t expect the screaming Bojana Jovanovski to send her packing.
(Yes, there was value judgement in that comment.)

Tereza Smitkova defeats Coco Vandeweghe: Shock or Not? Disappointing, but No Shock.

With a wonderful serve and power to rival Serena, many of us would love to see Coco consistently perform at the top level of her game. This is especially true after her first WTA title win at the Top Shelf Open. But it all came crashing back to earth in a second round loss. Still a great run for her…

One Response to “Sloane, Paul, and Conflicts of Interest: A Wimbledon Day Three “Shock or Not””

  • David says:

    Maria Kirilenko defeats Sloane Stephens: Shock or Not? Sadly, but predictably, NOT. Oh c’mon, it was a SHOCK.

    Yes Kirilenko has gotten to the quarters at Wimbledon before, and has been top 10 in the world (better than Sloane, might I add), but Maria’s rusty from her time off. Sloane was on a 6 slam streak of getting to the 2nd week, on all surfaces. There was no indication that Sloane would drop her focus at a slam long enough to get throttled by Maria (who by the way lost 0 and 3 in her follow up match).

    It’s just sad that she doesn’t even care about the slams anymore.

    Paul Annacone, Sloane Stephens’ coach, once again did NOT recuse himself from on-air analysis after her loss: Shock or Not? Label this a “Conflict of Interest” Shock. SHOCK

    You said it best, from your deep experience as media yourself. I just wonder if Annacone is happy she lost so he could get more airtime commentating. Gotta wonder how much longer this relationship is gonna last.

    Yanina Wickmayer defeats Samantha Stosur: Shock or Not? Absolutely Not. NOT

    Sam’s known for her hatred of grass. Why not bail out in the first round and get onto hard as soon as she can?

    Sergiy Stakhovsky defeats Ernests Gulbis: Shock or Not? Shock. BIG SHOCK

    Here Gulbis is a newly minted top 10 player, talkative about how much he loves success and how he wants it more and more, and then…. Still Sergiy is the guy who upset Federer last year, so he has experience in big scalps at Wimby. Maybe we’re finding out the Gulbis isn’t as proficient on grass.

    Andrey Kuznetsov defeats David Ferrer: Shock or Not? Shock, but…SHOCKISH

    I thought Ferrer would last another round, but he didn’t. His body is just not there for him these days.

    Lauren Davis defeats Flavia Pennetta: Shock or Not? Not SHOCK

    Credit to Davis to keep this match to two sets. Pennetta has had some Wimby success before, so it’s not you can write her off like Sam or JJ. Davis’ career is too short to know if she likes grass specifically. Pennetta should have won this match.

    Fabio Fognini reaches the third round: Shock or Not? Yep…Shock. NOT

    Fabio is mercurial. Sometimes he brings his A game, and other time his attitude gets the best of him. Guess this Wimby is A game material. Don’t worry he won’t last another round.

    Bojana Jovanovski defeats Victoria Azarenka: Shock or Not? Not. NOT

    I thought maybe Vika would last another round, but then she could have easily floundered in the first. Good for Bojana to get a big scalp, even if it has an asterisk next to it. Now about that shriek…

    Tereza Smitkova defeats Coco Vandeweghe: Shock or Not? Disappointing, but No Shock. MEH

    This one could have gone either way depending on if Coco could continue her momentum or not. She ran into a wall, but at least she didn’t lose 2 and 2.

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