Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Day That Was

by Savannah

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Photo via Andy Brownbill/AP

Face it. The only match the WTA wanted hyped was the "showdown" between its new blonde Eugenie Bouchard and its "old" blonde Maria Sharapova. It's minions, otherwise known as tennis on air personalities on ESPN2, were talking crazy during every Bouchard match leading up to this one. At one point Chris Evert said that all of the tour was copying Bouchard and hitting from the baseline thus eliminating, oh, twenty odd years of women's tennis history with a comment that she knew was blatantly untrue. Fortunately I have the option of watching coverage on ESPN3, the online version of the network where they wisely hired commentators who usually work on TennisTV and where comments were made after a point was played and there was no wild hyperbole.

Everything was in place for a "showdown". Bouchard had swept through her early rounds like a hot knife through butter and amazingly some thought that she was going to sweep past Sharapova in the same way. I kept wondering what Bouchard these people had been watching. Beating up on Zarina Diyas is not playing a Grand Slam champion, like the champion or not.

The only hot knife through butter was Maria Sharapova who let everyone know she was not ready to roll over and play dead for the WTA's hype machine. I don't know what they were saying over on the broadcast TV side of the house but the only enthusiastic crowd support for Bouchard coming into the match was bought and paid for. Yesterday's match saw that many of the corporate folks decided to skip the match and those that were there were decidely meh about the whole thing.

I can't say it enough. Bouchard has no game to hurt the big dogs. She stands on the baseline and bludgeons the ball back with about as much finesse as a WWE performer would show. Constructing a point consists of battering the ball harder and harder. She did try to move Sharapova around but guess what? When you're moving her around and she's still teeing off on your shots it's time for Plan B. Oh wait, there was no Plan B.

I really can't believe that Bouchard was arrogant enough to come into a major without a coach. Does she really think she knows all there is to know and that she has nothing left to learn? Look to the top players. They've worked and worked on their games, and kept people around them who support them, make sure they're rested and mentally prepared for the chance of winning seven matches in a major. Knowing enough to know you can't do it on your own is the first step to becoming a champion. Bouchard has yet to take that first step.

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Photo via Ryan Pierse/Getty Images AsiaPac

The match I was looking forward to was Ekaterina Makarova vs Simona Halep. Halep came in as the number three seed and Makarova a newly minted top ten player. What happened next was a bit of a surprise.

I'll be honest. I've pretty much ignored Makarova and haven't seen much of her since she made her run to the top ten.
I have been watching Halep and to say I was surprised at some of her moves at the end of last season is putting it mildly. Firing Wim Fissette after his public statements that she should throw a match was a feather in her cap. She's not a win at all costs type of woman and firing a darling of the tennis world took guts. What happened next though showed either naïveté on her part or strong arming by the Romanian tennis federation. Halep announced that her next coach would be someone who understood her, someone who understood the Romanian approach to life in general and tennis in particular. Some said that what she needed was a coach who has been where she wants to go not a person used to coaching at the ITF level. That she made a mistake in taking the path she did re her coaching situation was glaringly obvious during her match. ESPN3 showed her coaches just before the match started and they looked terrified. If your coaches are terrified how are you going to feel? Halep admitted this during her post match presser.

Reading that transcript is revealing to say the least. (All emphasis mine).

Q. Do you feel stress before the match or does it hit you when you get out there?

SIMONA HALEP: Like I said, in the practicing I hit well. But, yeah, when I started to play, I just felt a little bit my body, it's stressed, my mind maybe. Yeah, I felt only during the match. Not before or yesterday, but just today.

Q. Do you have strategies to cope with that?

SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, like I said, I have experience. I had experience to play quarterfinals in Grand Slams. But sometimes you cannot manage the situation. I tried. I did everything I could this match. But, you know, just mentally because during the points maybe I didn't fight very well today. I just lost my concentrate to win the points, to win the match. So I didn't believe any more in second set, and that's maybe why I lost 6-0.

As I said her coaching team looked terrified so where she should've gotten support she got nothing. This is also an indictment of on court coaching in my opinion not that it matters to the powers that be at the WTA.

On the other side of the net Makarova played the way you expect a top ten player to play. She had a game plan and it worked since her opponent allowed it to. It's going to be interesting to see what Halep does going forward. She knows that fans and objective journalists see her as part of the future of tennis and if you read the entire transcript you'll notice there's a lot of "I" in there. Yes you are talented. Yes you have the potential, after 2016, to become the top player in the WTA. But there are lots of players who have the same potential laboring away in ITF events.
If she keeps the same people around her she's in for a crash landing. She needs someone who has been there, someone who will make her listen to them and give her the tools to deal with her nerves. If not, she'll be looking up at where she should've been.

End Notes

Continuing on coaching or lack thereof Martina Navratilova is very upset with her new charge Agniezska Radwanska. All of the quotes come from @stephintheUS who documented all of this for us fans.

Martina said Aga didn’t do anything in their game plan. She hit to Venus’ backhand too much. Didn’t hit as hard as she was in practice.

Martina said Aga never looked at the player box in that third set. “I could have just watched it from a hotel room for all the good I did"

It seems that Aga's regular coach Tomasz Wiktorowski lobbied hard for Martina because she is strong enough to deal with Aga. That last tidbit comes from @LazyGoldfish. So quiet little Aga is a diva off court huh? Doesn't want to listen huh? It's almost unprecedented for a coach to speak as bluntly as Martine did and I'm sure she did it on purpose. Ivan Lendl left Andy Murray in the lurch so to speak but he taught Murray to listen to his coaches. It seems that's the lesson some of these new kids on the court need to learn and fast.

Pink

Pink. I hate pink. Said in the tone of voice used by Indiana Jones in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" when confronted with the moving floor that turned out to be his phobia.

Wear pink in your private life to your heart's content. Do not, I repeat, do not wear it on the court.

And that is all I am going to say about that match from yesterday.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

So What About The Americans In Melbourne?

by Savannah

I'm sure everyone expected Coco Vandeweghe to take out Samantha Stosur. Or Madison Keys to drop a set to Casey Dellacqua and storm back to win the match like a boss. What about John Isner? Donald Young made it to the second round to face Milos Raonic. Bethanie Mattek-Sands is playing Simona Halep in the third round. And of course there's Tim Smyczek who showed he wasn't raised by wild animals.

We're still in the first week of the Australian Open and we don't know who will actually make it to next week but the USTA must feel it can hold its collective head up a bit higher. Yes there have been losses but the fact that US players are in the conversation this deep in a tournament is kind of surprising. What will happen going forward? That's anyones guess.

Twirlgate

There's an old, old saying about chickens coming home to roost. Dictionary.Com says the idiom means "Consequences, although delayed, will happen" and came into common use in 1809 in the United States.

This expression came to mind when out of nowhere some fans were upset about the new WTA "it" girl Eugenie Bouchard was asked to show off her kit by turning around in a circle to let everyone viewing see it. Let's forget that Venus Williams has been twirling after a win since she began her career. Ana Ivanovic added a twirl to her fist pump a long time ago. Serena Williams was asked the same night, by the same correspondent, to show of her spectacular Australian Open kit. So why is it only a big deal when it involves Bouchard?

The WTA has only itself to blame. It has never marketed women's tennis. It has marketed players who look a certain way and made them the face of its product. It started with Chris Evert, moved on to Anna Kournikova and from her to Maria Sharapova. Now it's Bouchard. WTA players are marketed as "sexy", "beautiful", "feminine" not as athletes. If a player doesn't meet the standards set by the women I've mentioned they don't get any publicity.

When you encourage the world outside of tennis to look at the value of your product based on a standard of beauty instead of their on court performance what are those inside tennis, who rely on the tours for access to players going to do? The WTA encourages its players to attend player parties complete with "red carpets" and photographers dressed to the nines and make up troweled on. This doesn't help give the players the respect they deserve, and make some more valuable not because of what they've done on court but because of their looks.

Believe me I understand why some are upset about the women being asked to twirl while the men don't do anything remotely similar but their argument is with the WTA not the people who are just doing the job the WTA seems to want them to do and help to promote the players as objects of desire. As I write this the WTA hasn't made a statement about "twirlgate" and in reality they can't. They're active participants in the objectification of it's players and hence its overall product so how can they complain when it's done by the hired help?

Until the WTA stops promoting some at the expense of all this will continue. No matter how fans feel that is the reality of the situation.

To Seed or Not to Seed: The Follow Up to the Massacre

Of course the furor around twirlgate could be a gift to the WTA since it distracts from the disaster that is the women's draw in Melbourne. While the carnage did hit the top ten a lot of the damage was done to seeds 10 and lower.
I mean Belinda Bencic was a seeded player.

Is it time to reduce the number of seeds from 32 to 16? The change from sixteen to thirty two seeds happened in 2001. Under the new 32 seed system no one ranked that high could play a person in that bracket until the third round. There have been fans advocating for a return to the sixteen seed system for awhile now but in the wake of the carnage in Melbourne their whispers are indeed getting louder.

I'm not sure how I feel about it to be honest. Under the old system the players who lost, with some significant exceptions, would hardly be news. Because these players were seeded the results are big news for tennis.

Somehow I don't think the majors want a return to the old system. The thirty two seed system protects the later rounds ensuring that the big names will be around for the quarter finals and going forward.

As I said I don't know if a return to the old system is a good idea. But I think it should be part of the post Australian Open discussion.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Massacre

by Savannah

Ana Ivanovic #5 seed. Gone.
Angelique Kerber #9 seed. Gone.
Lucie Safarova #16 seed. Gone.
Carla Suarez-Navarro #17 seed. Gone.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova #23 seed. Gone.
Svetlana Kuznetsova #27 seed. Gone.
Sabine Lisicki #28 seed. Gone.
Belinda Bencic #32 seed. Gone

The bottom half of the women's draw has been decimated. Like them or not you expect to see the likes of Ivanovic, Kerber, Safarova, Suarez-Navarro and yes, even Lisicki, winning a round or two and in the case of Ivanovic and Kerber maybe making it to the second week.

Day 3 play will feature matches between the following players:

Lucie Hradecka and Polong Hercog
Lara Arruabarrena and Yanina Wickmayer
Caroline Garcia and Stefani Voegele
Carina Witthoef and Christina McHale
Irina-Camellia Begu and Katerina Siniakova
Yaroslava Shvedoa and Monica Puig
Klara Koukalova and Julia Goërges
Kristina Mladenovic and Bethanie Mattek-Sands

The highlighted players are the seed slayers.

What does this mean? Bencic and sadly Kuznetsova are the only ones I wasn't surprised to see go out early. Some were saying that Kerber's back was bothering her. She seemed able to bend and move pretty easily. I have no idea what happened to Safarova. I didn't see her match. There were many who thought Ivanovic would go far. I didn't watch her match either. Instead I watched the despair of her fans on Twitter.

I'm wondering how the WTA will spin this? The old "depth of women's tennis" meme will surely be dusted off and dragged out. The flip side of that coin is the weakness of women's tennis. Two top ten seeds. A total of seven top twenty seeds wiped out in one day from the bottom half of the draw. Everyone will be watching to see how the top half of the draw shakes out. With some of the most absurd match scheduling I've seen in a very long time the matches everyone wants to see are on outer courts. I don't know if the Australian Open is like the US Open where if you have a ticket to Ashe you can go anywhere else on the grounds. Day 2 is a Grounds Pass kind of day. The folks who paid good money for seats in Laver paid more for their Grounds Pass than they should have.

End Note

Now we can officially say "Congratulations" to Li Na and her husband Jiang Shan on the pending birth of their first child in the summer. I guess they wanted her to make her announcement during the official opening ceremonies and that is why she danced around what was obvious to everyone at the live draw. Best wishes to the expectant parents.







Friday, January 16, 2015

FINALLY!!!

by Savannah

The first Grand Slam of the year begins in Australia on Monday, January 19. In my part of the world it starts Sunday January 18. What does it mean that I'm looking forward to sleep deprivation? It means I'm a tennis fan. The warm up tournaments help ease you into living backwards but you can pick and choose what you watch of those. It's weird how we went from no tennis to so much tennis you didn't know who to watch play where.

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via sportinglife.com

I'm not sure why Auckland isn't a combined event but it was great seeing the fans turn out in droves for women's tennis. I haven't watched much of the mens tournament there because Sydney was taking place. The biggest problem with Auckland is it's lack of Hawkeye. The organizers say it's too expensive at $100,000 per court. I mean it's nice watching an exho with no Hawkeye but the speed at which the modern game is played demands another set of "eyes" so to speak in case there is a dispute.

The women's final at Sydney was a match I wanted to see. It featured Katerina Pliskova vs Petra Kvitova. I'd been hearing a lot about Katerina on fan sites but most of it involved the usual objectivication of blonde women tennis players. She made the final though and I figured Petra wanted a win so the match would be interesting if not great.

I came away wondering why this young woman Pliskova isn't getting a lot of publicity that didn't involve fanboy fantasies. She's tall but not gangly, fit, and plays an aggressive easy to watch game. If it wasn't for the fanboys I would have no idea she exists. She gave her countrywoman a run for her money losing the match in two tiebreak sets. Barring injury I think she's going to be a star on the court.

Then there was Venus Williams performance in the WTA tournament in Auckland. I was glad to see David Witt working with her and she went out of her way to make sure she praised him and her team for putting up with her through thick and thin. It was great to see her play the way she used to.

But starting Sunday(Monday) everyone will have to play their way through a Grand Slam draw. I'm sure everyone has seen it by now but here it is again.

Serena Williams (USA) [1] vs Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL)
Vera Zvonareva (RUS) vs Unknown
WC Olivia Rogowska (AUS) vs Nicole Gibbs (USA)
Jana Cepelova (SVK) vs Elina Svitolina (UKR) [26]

Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP) [24] vs Marina Erakovic (NZL)
Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) vs Saisai Zheng (CHN)
Kimiko Date-Krumm (JPN) vs Unknown
Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) vs Jelena Jankovic (SRB) [15]

Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) [11] vs Kirsten Flipkens (BEL)
Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) vs Heather Watson (GBR)
Romina Oprandi (SUI) vs Unknown
Shuai Zhang (CHN) vs Alizé Cornet (FRA) [19]

B.Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) [25] vs Timea Babos (HUN)
Jie Zheng (CHN) vs WC Kai-Chen Chang (TPE)
Sloane Stephens (USA) vs Victoria Azarenka (BLR)
Taylor Townsend (USA) vs Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) [8]


Petra Kvitova (CZE) [4] vs Unknown
Donna Vekic (CRO) vs Mona Barthel (GER)
Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) vs Madison Keys (USA)
Yvonne Meusburger (AUT) vs Casey Dellacqua (AUS) [29]

Samantha Stosur (AUS) [20] vs Monica Niculescu (ROU)
Francesca Schiavone (ITA) vs Coco Vandeweghe (USA)
WC Irina Falconi (USA) vs Kaia Kanepi (EST)
Madison Brengle (USA) vs Andrea Petkovic (GER) [13]

Flavia Pennetta (ITA) [12] vs Camila Giorgi (ITA)
Tereza Smitkova (CZE) vs Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO)
Lauren Davis (USA) vs Aleksandra Krunic (SRB)
M. Toro-Flor (ESP) vs Venus Williams (USA) [18]

Varvara Lepchenko (USA) [30] vs Vitalia Diatchenko (RUS)
Shelby Rogers (USA) vs Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS)
Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS) vs Johanna Larsson (SWE)
Kurumi Nara (JPN) vs Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) [6]


Ana Ivanovic (SRB) [5] vs Qualifier
Polona Hercog (SLO) vs Qiang Wang (CHN)
WC Storm Sanders (AUS) vs Klara Koukalova (CZE)
Julia Goerges (GER) vs Belinda Bencic (SUI) [32]

Karolina Pliskova (CZE) [22] vs Qualifier
Alison Riske (USA) vs WC Oceane Dodin (FRA)
Roberta Vinci (ITA) vs Bojana Jovanovski (SRB)
An-Sophie Mestach (BEL) vs Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) [10]

Sara Errani (ITA) [14] vs Grace Min (USA)
S.Soler-Espinosa (ESP) vs Annika Beck (GER)
Qualifier vs Lara Arruabarrena (ESP)
Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) vs A.Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) [23]

Sabine Lisicki (GER) [28] vs Kristina Mladenovic (FRA)
WC Ying-Ying Duan (CHN) vs Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA)
Jarmila Gajdosova (AUS) vs Alexandra Dulgheru (ROU)
Karin Knapp (ITA) vs Simona Halep (ROU) [3]


Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) [7] vs Anna-Lena Friedsam (GER)
Kiki Bertens (NED) vs WC Daria Gavrilova (AUS)
Stefanie Voegele (SUI) vs Pauline Parmentier (FRA)
Caroline Garcia (FRA) vs Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) [27]

C.Suarez Navarro (ESP) [17] vs Carina Witthoeft (GER)
Qualifier vs Christina McHale (USA)
Elena Vesnina (RUS) vs Katerina Siniakova (CZE)
Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU) vs Angelique Kerber (GER) [9]

Lucie Safarova (CZE) [16] vs Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ)
Monica Puig (PUR) vs WC Arina Rodionova (AUS)
Ana Konjuh (CRO) vs Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK)
Qualifier vs Shuai Peng (CHN) [21]

Zarina Diyas (KAZ) [31] vs Qualifier
Anna Schmiedlova (SVK) vs Chanelle Scheepers (RSA)
Qualifier vs Sorana Cirstea (ROU)
Qualifier vs Maria Sharapova (RUS) [2]

Are there cakewalks? Damn straight there are cakewalks. Maria Sharapova has to feel good about her section. The biggest threat appears to be Lucia Safarova who played well in the run up events she participated in. Ana Konjuh who had a lot of buzz around her played horribly in her warm up. But that was then and this is now. Of course anything can happen but I think the match up people want, Eugenie Bouchard vs Maria Sharapova, is a good possibility. There is always a chance that the Svetlana Kuznetsova who knows how to play tennis shows up and upsets the apple cart. I said there's a chance of that happening not that it will happen.

The match I'm looking forward to is Sloane Stephens vs Victoria Azarenka. Vika, who has been open about the year she went through on and off the court in 2014 is going to be looking for a win. Sloane fancies herself a slayer of top players and usually shows up for those matches. The other intriguing match in that section is Taylor Townsend vs Caroline Wozniacki. Some feel this will be Wozniacki's chance to win a Slam. She's really playing a game that's exciting to watch right now knowing how to be aggressive and when. I liked what I saw of Taylor in Australia but when the pressure went up she went to pieces mentally. Wozniacki is going to bring the pressure.

Dominika Cibulkova has not been playing well lately and Heather Watson, who last year couldn't think her way out of a paper bag let alone construct a point is playing a final this evening. The other player I have my eye on on Madison Keys. I still think she has the most potential of the young American women but she has to get over a pattern she's developing of getting a good win and then being unprepared for her next match.

Katerina Pliskova has another one of those nice little sections hidden in the draw. She starts out with a Qualifier and is seeded to face Ekaterina Makarova, a newly minted top ten player. She's in the top half of the bottom of the draw and if she gets through her section she could face Ana Ivanovic whose toughest challenge would be Belinda Bencic Also lurking in that part of the draw is Simona Halep who has another nice section.

Will the top seeds make it through with no problems? Who knows? There's a reason they play the matches.

Long time readers know I don't usually discuss the men's draw in depth and I'm not going to start now. The only thing I'll say is that anyone who blathers on about how tough a draw Roger Federer has deserves a swift kick.The biggest threat there is young Borna Ćorić.

Novak Djokovic (SRB) [1] vs Qualifier
Andrey Kuznetsov (RUS) vs Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP)
Go Soeda (JPN) vs Qualifier
James Ward (GBR) vs Fernando Verdasco (ESP) [31]

John Isner (USA) [19] vs Qualifier
Qualifier vs Andreas Haider-Maurer (AUT)
Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) vs Gilles Muller (LUX)
Dominic Thiem (AUT) vs Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) [13]

Feliciano Lopez (ESP) [12] vs WC Denis Kudla (USA)
Blaz Rola (SLO) vs Adrian Mannarino (FRA)
Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) vs Jerzy Janowicz (POL)
WC Lucas Pouille (FRA) vs Gael Monfils (FRA) [17]

Julien Benneteau (FRA) [25] vs Benjamin Becker (GER)
Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) vs WC Ze Zhang (CHN)
Donald Young (USA) vs Qualifier
Qualifier vs Milos Raonic (CAN) [8]

Stan Wawrinka (SUI) [4] vs Marsel Ilhan (TUR)
Qualifier vs Pablo Andujar (ESP)
Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) vs Andrey Golubev (KAZ)
Qualifier vs Pablo Cuevas (URU) [27]

Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR) [21 vs Paolo Lorenzi (ITA)
Sam Querrey (USA) vs Vasek Pospisil (CAN)
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) vs Peter Gojowczyk (GER)
Alejandro Gonzalez (COL) vs Fabio Fognini (ITA) [16]

David Ferrer (ESP) [9] vs Thomaz Bellucci (BRA)
Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) vs Dusan Lajovic (SRB)
Marcel Granollers (ESP) vs Stephane Robert (FRA)
Robin Haase (NED) vs Gilles Simon (FRA) [18]

Santiago Giraldo (COL) [30] vs Qualifier
Qualifier vs Steve Johnson (USA)
Ivan Dodig (CRO) vs Joao Souza (BRA)
Nicolas Almagro (ESP) vs Kei Nishikori (JPN) [5]

Tomas Berdych (CZE) [7] vs Alejandro Falla (COL)
Qualifier vs Victor Estrella Burgos (DOM)
Jiri Vesely (CZE) vs Viktor Troicki (SRB)
WC John Millman (AUS) vs Leonardo Mayer (ARG) [26]

Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) [22] vs Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA)
Tobias Kamke (GER) vs Bernard Tomic (AUS)
Sam Groth (AUS) vs Filip Krajinovic (SRB)
WC Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) vs Ernests Gulbis (LAT) [11]

Kevin Anderson (RSA) [14] vs Diego Schwartzman (ARG)
Ricardas Berankis (LTU) vs Igor Sijsling (NED)
Blaz Kavcic (SLO) vs WC James Duckworth (AUS)
Carlos Berlocq (ARG) vs Richard Gasquet (FRA) [24]

Lukas Rosol (CZE) [28] vs Kenny De Schepper (FRA)
Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) vs Dudi Sela (ISR)
WC Luke Saville (AUS) vs Qualifier
Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) vs Rafael Nadal (ESP) [3]

Andy Murray (GBR) [6] vs Qualifier
Qualifier vs Marinko Matosevic (AUS)
WC Jordan Thompson (AUS) vs Joao Sousa (POR)
Tatsuma Ito (JPN) vs Martin Klizan (SVK) [32]

David Goffin (BEL) [20] vs Qualifier
Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) vs Teymuraz Gabashvili (RUS)
Maximo Gonzalez (ARG) vs Lukas Lacko (SVK)
Dustin Brown (GER) vs Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) [10]

Tommy Robredo (ESP) [15] vs Edouard Roger-Vasselin (FRA)
Malek Jaziri (TUN) vs Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ)
Federico Delbonis (ARG) vs Nick Kyrgios (AUS)
Qualifier vs Ivo Karlovic (CRO) [23]

Jeremy Chardy (FRA) [29] vs Borna Coric (CRO)
Andreas Seppi (ITA) vs Denis Istomin (UZB)
Juan Monaco (ARG) vs Simone Bolelli (ITA)
Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) vs Roger Federer (SUI) [2]

The one player who loves the heat and has done well here is Fernando Verdasco. No one expects much of him and looking at his recent results it's understandable. Like Sveta in the women's draw if he shows up to play he could upset a lot of peoples hopes and dreams. Again, I'm not saying he will. I'm just saying that he could.

If anyone sat through the interminable Live Draw yesterday I'm sure they got whiplash when Nick Bollettieri started talking up John Isner and his "super coach" Justin Gimelstob. I guess he's been working with Isner because he talked about him going to the net more and made it seem as if Isner is going to be a contender. Maybe I heard it wrong because by that time I was half asleep. Next time they should do what other Slams do and have the tropies, and the players, present and start the draw right away instead of going on and on about towns no one outside of Australia know anything about rallying behind top players. If they want to do that sort of thing do it before they go live. Trust me no one cares Tennis Australia.

Andy Murray does not have an easy section. Martin Klizan is on a mission. David Goffin wants to play big at a major. And lurking in that part of the draw is everyone's favorite Grigor Dimitrov who's looking to show that the hype isn't hype.

What do I think of the draws? It doesn't matter what I, or anyone thinks. It's the beginning of the year. Players are already taped and wrapped up. What matters is who plays well. Overall the draws are the best they can be at this time of the year. Some will always get cakewalks and some will always face a Murderer's Row.

I'm excited!

Monday, December 29, 2014

I Don't Understand

by Savannah

I keep trying to post my last post of 2014 and everytime I try something catches my eye. Like this interview Andy Roddick did with Ravi Ubha of CNN . The headline was "Scrap Hawkeye or Change System". It was posted by a good tennis friend of mine on a fan site and when I saw the headline I rolled my eyes and started to skip it figuring it was blather but I said to myself "what the hell" and I read it.

Here is Roddick's reasoning:

Roddick says that there is " not enough interaction between players and umpires".
What kind of interaction" " If someone is really having a go at the umpire, you are not going to change the channel. It's an impossibility."
He doesn't end there.

"We love our guys in the game now, Roger, Rafa and the way they carry themselves but there's some entertainment value on the guys that don't carry themselves so well," Roddick said, mentioning himself, retired two-time grand slam winner Marat Safin and the man dubbed 'Super Brat,' John McEnroe.
"Johnny Mac is out here all the time still going nuts and people love it," said Roddick, referring to the 55-year-old McEnroe competing in seniors' events.

Roger Federer's objections to the system are cited by the author as proof that some in the sport don't like Hawkeye, going back two years to quote this statement by Federer:

"What I like without Hawk-Eye is just the players challenging the umpires more often."

Somehow I don't think Federer wants to turn tennis into the WWE.

Roddick allows that getting rid of Hawkeye may be too extreme an idea so he says the number of challenges should be reduced to one per match.

There is also this.

Another change in the game Roddick would make is keeping play going when there are lets.
For Roddick, the entertainment factor is indeed key.
"We are fooling ourselves if we don't think sports are entertainment," he said.

It's always amazing to me that you see this sort of thing coming from American players. Retired American players. I guess if you can't play up to the level of the top men why not enable a side show to take place? Roddick says he doesn't want tennis players coming out in feather boas and sequins but isn't that what he's advocating? Somehow I don't think too many fans want to see this kind of thing come back. I know I don't.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Facepalm to End The Year

by Savannah

I thought that the silly season was just about over. Live tennis, real tennis, not some ginned up exhibition that pays players a ton of money to show up, but real live tennis will be starting soon.

Silly me. I should've known better. The WTA, in its never ending mission to dumb down women's tennis will be introducing an app during Brisbane that will do all the things that make match play exciting. What are those things you ask? Oh, little things like knowing where your opponent is standing. Is she standing way behind the baseline, on the baseline, or just inside the baseline to receive your serve and returns? Simply looking across the net will tell you that.

Is she hitting to your forehand or backhand? Is she taking advantage of your slowness on court to try and make you move? If you know the success of your game relies on you dominating the center of the court and you're constantly trying to catch up to balls that are catching the line you're in trouble.

The WTA has a solution for you. It's introducing an app that will do your thinking for you. Paul Malone a sportswriter for the Courier Mail of Brisbane posted an article detailing just how wonderful and groundbreaking this app is. Forget that the app will only be used by the WTA. Forget that it will not be used during Slams even though some muckety muck associated with Tennis Australia feels it will be allowed to be used during Slams.

And you know ATP players are somewhere laughing their asses off.

The women's game is already disrepected by the men and I think this will make it worse. The whole point of tennis is to figure out what your opponent is doing and adapt to it. The WTA, with oncourt coaching, has already dumbed down the women's game encouraging the spectacle of a coach swanning down out of the stands to hold his charges hand and clear her muddled mind. Now the coaches will have this app so that the poor dear can see how far back her opponent is standing, see where her opponent is hitting returns to her and tell her what to do. I wonder what the player has been doing out there all this time? Filing her nails while balls whiz past her because the heat of competition is too much for her?

There are already people, me among them, who see a drop in the quality of women's tennis coming. It's coming in mens tennis too but they're not doing something as asinine as this. This is only going to hasten the decline and perhaps make it impossible for the sport, as played by women, to return to its glory days. Serena Williams dominates women's tennis because she's always thinking out there. She can change strategy during a match and mentally wears her opponents down. Thinking on court can be done but apparently the WTA thinks its special snowflakes need an app to show them what should be done routinely during match play.

There are many passionate followers of women's tennis out there. I hope that they condemn this further dumbing down of women's tennis. Intelligence will no longer be the deciding factor for a female player. Her coach will do everything for her. That way she can concentrate on magazine covers, fashion spreads and selfies. Oh, and staged photoshoots with boyfriends.



Thursday, December 11, 2014

Waiting For The Other Shoe To Drop

by Savannah

So this happened.

Matt Cronin ‏@TennisReporters

Breaking: Madison Keys is now being coached by Lindsay Davenport who will work during off season but @LDavenport76 wont be full time in 2015

Update from Tom Perrotta on twitter:

Madison Keys now employs Lindsay Davenport & Wim Fissette (Clijsters/Halep). Shared coaching. Wim in Europe, Lindsay in U.S., both at Slams.

Update 2:

Ben Rothenberg ‏@BenRothenberg

Change of plans for Madison Keys: she will be coached by Lindsay Davenport and Lindsay's husband Jon Leach, not by Lindsay + Wim Fissette.

@TennisReporters

Davenport had foot surgery so Jon hitting with Keys, likes him lot, decides 2 stay with Jon. Will eventually higher members 4 small tournies.

@TennisReporters

Davenport had foot surgery so Jon hitting with Keys, likes him lot, decides 2 stay with Jon. Will eventually higher members 4 small tournies.

Lindsay Davenport ‏@LDavenport76

@TennisReporters @BenRothenberg well my hubby still has a day job, so we say helping his wife out and keeping me & @Madison_Keys in line

I hope that one about she likes hitting with Lindsay's husband so now he's her part time coach isn't true. That is not how you choose a coach, not when you're poised for the big time like Madison is.

I don't think I mentioned in yesterday's post that Eugenie Bouchard signed with IMG for modeling and tennis and will be working with Serena Williams agent Jill Smoller (the blonde woman you see in Serena's courtside box all the time) and Brad Slater.
That news broke after I started my year end post.

There are a lot of people who think these developments mean Wim Fissette will end up coaching Bouchard and I tend to agree with them. I don't think anyone wants to coach Sloane let alone someone who is used to coaching at the highest levels of the sport.

That said I think Bouchard has the same problem Sloane does. She's a "stah" and knows what is best for her. In other words she doesn't listen. Bouchard has so much wrong with her game she needs a firm hand. If Fissette ends up coaching her full time she's going to have to get over herself.

Still I have to wonder if US players are being pressured to work with US based coaches. It's just something I thought of in passing.

This is still a developing story. When they announce who will be coaching Bouchard I'll post here.

Richard Gasquet and The Davis Cup

Sacre Bleu!!! The French have discovered they have a problem with their male players. Yesterday @markalannixon posted translations of an interview where it was revealed that Yannick Noah, who has been busy doing a lot of non tennis things has offered his services. Whether he's done this before I don't know. What he said pissed off Arnaud Clément though.

Then there were the comments made by Richard Gasquet.

"If Yannick wants to help in one way or another, he just needs to call the players. We all need people like him. He has a lot to add. I was with him from time to time in 2007. He goes to a lot of concerts and I see him still occasionally. It's nice. I know Gaël talked to him this year."

Did his comments bother you?

"Not at all. I adore Yannick. I understand what he was trying to say even if the way said it was a bit delicate. He can help obviously. But we don't know how much he wants to invest or return to tennis. He can't criticise our preparation. We were at 100%. And Arnaud is still a good captain. I have no worries about him. We, the players, re-elected him just before the final, and that shows everything's fine."

Some involved with tennis like Mouratoglou have offered their services to help French tennis ...

"It would be nice if Mouratoglou coached some French players. It would be easier to take what he said. He lasted two months with Chardy. Let him prove himself by forming players. Serena isn't very complicated ..."

So Noah, who said that the French have difficulties, is okay but Patrick isn't. That last comment about Serena is probably something he'll wish he had back.

Here is the link to @markalannixon's translation. Translation of Gasquet interview from L'Equipe

It's the holiday season and everyone is stressed so I leave you with something to make you smile.
John Isner has hired Justin Gimelstob as his coach.
See I told you I'd make you laugh.