Scud wins a tennis title!
Mark Philippoussis has finally broken the drought. The tempestuous
Melburnian’s walk in the tennis wilderness officially ended overnight
when he claimed his first title since Shanghai in September, 2003 at
the Hall of Fame championships at Rhode Island, USA. Sure it was on
grass, but who cares? Only in the draw because of a generous wildcard,
Scud beat the eighth seed Justin Gimelstob 6-3 7-5 in the final, having
not dropped serve for the entire event. Ranked 214 on the computer
going into the tournament, having once been the world No. 8,
29-year-old Philippoussis admitted
to more than a little relief. And showing everything that’s wrong with
American tennis, did the beaten finalist smash racquets or maybe heads,
like McEnroe or Connors would have in their prime? No, Gimelstob said:
“It’s good for tennis to have him (Scud) back.” Meanwhile, in a stellar
weekend for Australian tennis (and how often have we been able to write
that lately?), our women thrashed Switzerland in the Federation Cup, beating the Swiss 5-0.
Sure, Sam Stosur beat up some 17-year-old called Timea Bacsinszky to
secure the tie but again, who cares? Australia is in the World Group
II, which means we now spend next year trying to make it into the main
draw of the Federation Cup in 2008. When do we start the campaign for a
street parade for Stosur, Alicia Molik and Nicole Pratt?

Men in flannels worried about Earth heating up:
Finally, something that will make the world start to worry about global
warming: it’s affecting the cricket. Well, that’s the opinion of former
English captain, cuddly Mike Brearley, writing for The Observer
about the current Test at Lord’s between England and Pakistan. He had
this to say: “Global warming conspires against England’s cricketers. We
play Sri Lanka in May and early June, and even then the pitches are
flat, the sun shines, and the ball spins. Where are the green seamers
of yore, the drizzle and the damp, the Lord’s ridge and the looming
skies, made for our own, our Shackletons and Cartwrights of yesteryear?
Pakistan were welcomed with a warm easterly breeze, bright sunshine,
fast outfield and a beige pitch – all tailor-made for Mohammad Yousuf
and Inzamam-ul-Haq. It might as well have been imported from Karachi.”
If that doesn’t spark Tony Blair into action to reduce emissions,
nothing will, even if England is actually not in bad shape thanks to a fighting century from stand-in captain Andrew Strauss.

Armstrong eases in betting for French Mr Popularity title:

Ever since you stepped out of the saddle after winning an astonishing
seven Tour de Frances, you’ve been subject to snide remarks, innuendo,
and straight out accusations about your character and potential intake
of substances. So if you were American Lance Armstrong, about to return
to France to watch the big race next week, how would you try to spin up
some positive PR? You probably wouldn’t say this about the French
soccer team: “All their players tested positive … for being
assh-les!” No, really. Armstrong was rumoured to have made the joke as
part of a pre-recorded speech for ESPN’s annual ESPY awards and
confirmed it to the LA Daily News, saying: “If they’d lived
with me and heard me at home, they’d know it was a step down.” Should
make things interesting in Paris.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey