Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Too Much Tennis?
Ana Ivanovic, who won the WTA Los Angeles tournament last Sunday and was defending Rogers Cup champion crashed out in the first round at Toronto to Zi Yan of China. Her post match interview was quite revealing. Here are excerpts.
Q. What happened out there?
ANA IVANOVIC: Well, she played extremely well today. She had amazing match, and I wasn't kind of prepared for that.
I expected a tough match, but from first point on she started playing very aggressive, and she was dominating. And for me, it was very hard to adjust, because the court is much faster than it was last week. And it was also windy out there.
So I needed some time to get timing and to get into the match. But she didn't give me that. She played very well from the first point on.
Q. One of the other players told us she was tired and there may be too many tournaments. You just won in Los Angeles and flew right here. Is that a possibility that you may have been tired?
ANA IVANOVIC: It's very tough. Especially coming from Los Angeles, because it's three hours time difference. And Monday and Tuesday I had days off, so I didn't practice. And today, first time I hit before my match and it was completely different. I didn't really expect that.
It was also tough out there mentally. Because I had a good tournament last week, and it was very hard to start, you know, again to focus from the first round on.
So it's obviously very disappointing for me, because this is one of my favorite tournaments. And I'm really sorry I couldn't hang around for a little bit longer. But still she's a very good player, and she played amazing good today.
Q. Can you just discuss a little bit maybe the difference in pressure that one would feel coming back to try to defend a title? You didn't get to defend it for very long, but the difference in attitude that you might have coming into that kind of tournament when you're looking to protect your title?
ANA IVANOVIC: It's definitely different coming into tournament as a favorite or as defending champion. So I enjoyed it, really, as much as I could. But it was ‑‑ it was a little bit different. I was first time in that situation. The tournament I won in Canberra, I didn't go back there, so this is the first time I'm facing this situation.
And she was a tough opponent to play. This is my first match here. But definitely something I can learn from, and next time will be different...
Q. Anna Chakvetadze had to withdraw today. In a tournament that had already been hurt by withdrawals or no shows, how much does someone who is the defending champ going out, and Chakvetadze might have been the hottest player on the tour this year, how much do you think that hurts the tournament?
ANA IVANOVIC: The tournament is very good. All of these players are young and upcoming. There are many good players. There is still Justine, she's No. 1, and many other players from top 5, top 10. It's still very good tournament.
But personally speaking, I'm very disappointed I couldn't stay a bit longer here because, as I said, I really enjoyed my time here.
Meanwhile at the TMS event in Mason, Ohio Nadal and Djokovic are both out, Rafa to injury, Novak courtesy of a straight set beat down by Carlos Moya who left Montreal in an early round. As I type this Roger Federer is playing Julien Benneteau and Juan Ignacio Chela just fought his way back from 6-3 down in a first set tiebreak to have win the first set against Marcos Baghdatis.
Richard Gasquet retired with a nasty blister in his hand.
The argument has been made that the United States penchant for back to back Masters Series events, all on hardcourt, is asking a lot of the players, male and female. The last time anyone won the Canada/Cincinnati back to back marathon was Andy Roddick back in 2003. There were no "byes" back then as Craig loves to point out. Roddick went on the win the US Open that year (I didn't use the word "controversial" but that is another discussion.)
The talking point on ESPN is that today, 15 of the top 20 men in the world played. Darren Cahill made the point that the "bye" is a good thing for the top eight so that they don't flat withdraw from Cincinnati, the only major tennis event in the upper Midwestern United States. Of the eight men who got a "bye" five are gone. This event has now become a showcase for "everyone else" in mens tennis. It's not a bad thing. It just didn't have to be like this. Toronto had already become about "everyone else" with Serena, Amelie and Maria and Venus all withdrawing.
And that has been the problem with the US Open series this year. The European men won't come over until Canada. The women seem to have a phobia about Canada. How else to explain the lack of star power on the courts of Toronto?
I have said before that I am a fan of the US Open Series. Actually it was Andy Roddick back in 2003 who made me a fan. But what is happening now is not what was happening four years ago. This doesn't happen earlier in the year when Indian Wells and Miami are back to back some will say. But a lot of tennis has been played since then and the last Slam of the year is less than two weeks away. Do you beat your body up on the fast hard court in Mason Ohio or do you take a rest and come into the US Open fresh?
I think it's time for the Grand Poobah's to rethink the Canada/Cincy TMS events. The US Open series is a good idea, it showcases a lot of young American talent (John Isner, Sam Querrey) and should probably be marketed that way, but when that young talent meets the Big Boys they quietly leave the scene. John Isner got a lesson from David Ferrer the other night, one he won't soon forget. I know I'm beating a dead horse but Ferrer showed what good tennis basics can do. Point construction, knowledge of the game, all were on display during that match. And it was all being done by David Ferrer. Our players, even our top players, can't do that.
There are still bright lights in the draw: Andy Roddick is still there. So are Sam Querrey and James Blake. Carlos Moya, David Ferrer, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Nicolas Almagro of Spain are still playing. Juan Monaco is playing. Oh, and that guy Federer is playing his second round match this evening.
I've often said that if the changes both the WTA and ATP want to institute take place you will end up with an "A" and "B" tour with the big stars always playing in "A" events and when forced to, putting in perfunctory appearances at "B" level tours. I said that this would be a disaster for tennis.
But I think the two tiered world is already here. And as a fan, there is nothing I can do about it.