Saturday, August 18, 2007

Heard Around - Road Trip Edition V

Yan Zi of China

Hey, if it's always Super Bowl XXV or something why can't my US Open Series posts be in Roman numerals too huh? Just saying for those who were wondering why.


The dust has barely settled on last week but this week is off to a flying start. In an update to the Pova pull out at Los Angeles the injury is now reported to be her foot. Someone must have realized there isn't that much soft tissue around the shin for acupuncture to be used so now it's her foot. Keep in mind she had already pulled out of Toronto citing "fatigue". What happened to that shoulder injury that hampered her this year? Oh, my bad. It's the shin/foot injury that hampered her in Oz.How the hell can she be "fatigued" when she hasn't played all that much this year? I mean even the crew on ESPN had to address the issue of how she's remained the #2 woman in the world without playing much this year. Ah, the life of the Golden Girl as the head of the WTA christened her.

Here are my reasons for the Pova Pull Out:

Pova has no height advantage over Ana.
Pova knows Ana is not afraid of her and will not break like a piece of Baccarat crystal.
Pova knows Ana is rested.
Pova knows Ana, beating Jelena, a really competitive match so I hear, was ready for her.
Pova knows that no one was falling for the shoulder injury anymore. Shoulder injuries don't come and go, pretty pink tape not withstanding.
Pova and her camp flout WTA rules at will. They knew that some IMG flack and Larry Scott would have her back and come up with an excuse.
Pova and her camp told ESPN one thing - the shin, and then someone, realizing how stupid that sounded came up with the foot injury. Acupuncture is very difficult on the shin no?
Pova and her camp know that she will get a cakewalk to the semi's in New York. Heck, the NYC cabdrivers know she's getting a cake walk to the semi's in New York.
Pova and her camp came up with the story that she'd had this injury even in Australia. Funny, no mention was made of it until now. Do they think we've all got a form of ADD and haven't been paying attention the last few months?
Pova fans want to turn her crappy action last night into a bash the WS free for all.

The continuing saga of "As The Ball Bounces"

"I felt like I was playing against a guy, the way her serves were coming at me," Jankovic said. "It's sometimes scary, and when she starts to scream, I'm like, 'Come on.' She's quite a powerful, big girl."

Jelena Jankovic Quote

This would seem to be another instance of Jelena and her tongue careening out of control but Craig has put this statement into context. It seems that back in January, after the Oz Open, in a Russian language interview one Ms Maria Sharapova made a comment that Serena was hitting as hard as Roger Federer. Since that comment was made it Russian it got no play in the US tennis press. Meanwhile players and fans everywhere else knew she'd made the statement. Jelena, seeing that Pova got no flack, probably figured she could do the same. No Jelena, you can't. You are not the Golden One. The WTA will not protect you from the press fallout. Make a note to yourself that you are not Maria Sharapova. Repeat it over and over until it's second nature. Remember that when you hold your next presser.


Sooo they held a mens final, a Masters Series Final by the way, and ESPN aired it on tape delay.
Their reasoning?

ESPN Explains Tape Delay Decision For Rogers Cup Final
By Tennis Week

Novak Djokovic fought off six set points in the first set then showed his guile and grit in outdueling defending champion Roger Federer to craft a compelling 7-6(2), 2-6, 7-6(2) victory in Sunday's Rogers Cup final. The match made for riveting tennis television, but American tennis fans were unable to see it live.

ESPN2 presented the final on a one-hour delay, which sapped some of the drama from the proceedings for viewers who already knew the result either by watching the match live over the Internet on ATP TV or followed the live scoring on Rogers

Why did ESPN2, which provided so much live coverage from Montreal in the days leading up to the final, opt to present tape-delay coverage for the final? An ESPN spokesman told Tennis Week today the decision was due to scheduling commitments with the USTA's U.S. Open Series traditional Sunday schedule and the tournament's contractual commitment to Canadian television.

"The decision was one made with the USTA. The men's match had to start at 2 p.m. for Canadian television," an ESPN spokesman told Tennis Week. "Given the preference for consistency every Sunday — the finals start at 3 p.m. Eastern — the two sides chose to air the match on a one-hour delay."

Asked if the network had considered offering both live coverage, on an alternate ESPN network, and then taped coverage on ESPN2, the spokesman replied "Starting on one network, then switching, is not a consideration."
Bull shit.

Roger's Post Match Presser

I don't usually post the post match pressers of the man or woman who lost a final but this is one time I will make an exception.

Q. You played against him before. How much do you think he improved?
ROGER FEDERER: I played four times against him. Never lost.

Q. So?
ROGER FEDERER: So? (Smiling) No, he played well. Like I said, he's an up‑and‑coming youngster
who is improving almost by the day because they're so young, you know, they learn a lot with all the matches they play, with the travelling. So for this reason he definitely played great tournament. He's been able to back it up now since basically a year now.
If he keeps this up, you know, he's going to create some chances also at the Grand Slams because he's been able to come to two semifinals already in his career. This obviously might be a breakthrough tournament for him.
I was impressed the way I played, but nothing to the point where he surprised me. I knew how he was playing, so that was a good thing.

Q. Looking at the big picture and your aims for the whole year, how significant is a defeat in a final such as this? Is it significant or not?
ROGER FEDERER: Insignificant (smiling).

Q. Can you elaborate on why and what your major goals are?
ROGER FEDERER: The goal was to win Wimbledon. Done that. Try to stay No. 1 in the world. It would have helped to win today. Can't have it all. You know, looking at the US Open, looking down the road, as well, the Masters, still a long way to go. So I can't start being disappointing about just one match. I mean, he played well. I couldn't get the job done.

Q. You played some good tennis. Has it been good preparation?
ROGER FEDERER: Good preparation, yeah. I've been very happy with the month following Wimbledon when all went well. I'm in good shape mentally and physically. I'm really in top form. Looking forward to the rest of the summer.

Q. Do you appreciate the look of his game, a little more similar to yours, than Rafa? Do you appreciate that part of his game compared to Rafa?
ROGER FEDERER: No, not really. I mean, he plays like many other players on tour. You know, I mean, he's steady off the baseline, he's got a pretty good serve But, yeah, I mean, like himself, he says nothing outrageous in his game. Always pretty predictable, which is a good thing. Yeah, you get some good rallies against him because he scrambles well, moves to the ball well, moves the ball around very nicely. Yeah, I enjoy playing against him.

Q. How would you rate your form today? What were you happy with and what weren't you happy with?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, the way I came back, you know, because I was down quite a few times in the first set. Second set it was tough, you know, after what I went through at the end of the first. Then the third set, as well. I could never really breathe. Maybe that was a bit my problem today. It's such a pity, you know, when I start a match against a player like him serving so bad in the opening game. It was quite windy at the beginning and I was just not sure how much risk I should take on my shots. So all in all, it was not a ‑‑ too bad of a performance. Too many ups and downs. Then totally missed my chances when I had them. Like I said, he hit very freely in the tiebreaks.

Q. He's long stated his ambition to be No. 1, which not a lot of players do. No one has pushed you for that ranking in quite a long time. Do you view him as more of a threat than any other player or in with the crowd?
ROGER FEDERER: I see him second after Nadal. That's my opinion.

Q. You were hitting your forehand perfectly earlier in the week. Today it was slightly off. Any particular reason? Wind?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, it was windy.
You know, I couldn't play that freely from the baseline today 'cause I was always, you know, was in a tough situation, whereas against the other players, I was able to get a break away, get ahead. So today I had to be a little bit more keep the ball in play, but it was not easy. So, yeah, it was a tough match. But it was okay. Nothing too bad.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports
I'm sure Roger and Novak will be making joint appearances soon.


How's this for flying standby?

While Rafael Nadal hitched a ride on the private jet charter of Roger Federer for a two-hour flight from Canada on Monday, unseeded Nicolas Kiefer got down to work at the Cincinnati Masters... lesser lights took the court on the opening day of the last big event prior to the start of the US Open on August 27, world number one Federer and his friend and rival Nadal were likely comparing notes during their flight from Montreal to Cincinnati.

The top two players in the world were both shown the door by surging Serb Novak Djokovic, who beat Nadal in the semis and Federer in Sunday's final in the Montreal Masters.

The snark is the writer's own, not mine.

Raja, Rafa and the Jet

Andy Goes Wild?

It was reported that Mr. Roddick didn't take his loss to Novak very well either but instead of giving a snarky post match interview he was said to have gone on somewhat of a rampage. Here's a report from a French Canadian newspaper.

After his loss to Djokovic in the quarters, he smashed his racquet so hard against the locker room wall that it went into the wall and Andy couldn't take it out.

He also spit on a lines person water bottle after losing a point during one of his matches.

He suddenly left an autograph session for kids, complaining about the fact that he "couldn't understand what they were saying".

"GVGirl", "Louche" and I were initially suspicious of the reports since there was no accompanying link provided. The person posting the story then scanned the articles in. They're from what we call in the States a rag, and no corroborating articles were to be found in the "legit" press.

I'm not a Roddick fan but that stuff doesn't sound like Andy. There is a lot of hate against Andy by a lot of people. Not sure why but there is. I debated taking this out but will leave it in because at some point it will be repeated as gospel and it should be known the story came from a dubious source.


Okay they're playing a Masters Series event in Cincinnati. No need to go over the injury report already given. It's just that when fans come out to see something labeled a "Masters Series" match they expect to see Master Series level tennis. Fans save up to come to these events. They want to see the men they've read about live and in person playing the tennis they see on highlight reels or described by rapturous fans who live half way around the world, or across country, from them.

Continuing his all daytime all the time play Roger Federer took the court today against Marcos Baghdatis. I know some of you may think I sit and surf the net all day looking for tennis tidbits to feed you but I actually have a 9-5 job. I don't think my boss would be too happy to see me sitting watching Masters Series television when the company is paying me to do a job.

I wasn't expecting much of this match. I mean Baghs, who seems a nice enough guy, doesn't believe in training. He feels playing football (soccer in the States) with his pals is all he has to do to stay in shape. Uh huh. Look for the Marcos Baghdatis training DVD's on a remainder table near you. I mean how much thought do you have to give to a match where Federer is playing Baghdatis? Not much.

Imagine my surprise when I checked a message board to read the recaps and read "this sucks", "worse match ever" and "whoever tanks less will win it". Huh? I'm sure you know by now that Roger won the match but along the way it seems he forgot that the ball lands INSIDE of the lines. Was Baghs trying to do a rope-a-dope and make Roger's level of play sink to his? I guess no one told him that when you do a rope-a-dope the object of the exercise is to surprise your opponent with your skill and win the endeavor. That renowned method actor Novak Djokovic is famous for his second set swoons. He even pulled one on Roger in Montreal before going on to win the match in the third set. Got that Marcos? You win when you pull a rope-a-dope. I do think it was a bit much to say watching the match one got the impression they ladies of the WTA had donned drag to impersonate Roger and Marcos don't you?

So when I get home I figure I'll watch the match. WRONG. Masters Series television only offers highlights. So I sat through a three minute montage of Roger making pretty shots that landed inside the lines and none of the garbage that had tennisheads foaming at the mouth during the match.

As much as I dogged out the folks at Wimbledon for their antics this year on their live feed subscription service they do it right. The actual matches stay up for a month or so after the event is over so that you can see one you may have missed or get to study a player you've wanted to see before the Season of the Bouncing Balls aka Hard Court Season starts. If you can, make sure you order it next year. It's worth every dime.

WTA Rogers Cup News

Meanwhile the women seem to be going their merry way in relative obscurity. I don't talk about WTAworld that often but despite some of the bizarre posts you find over there they are a great source for women's tennis. They were the first board to follow what for many were obscure players from Eastern European countries who somehow managed to land on tennisheads radar a year or so after being mentioned there. They are still providing news on Mirjana Lucic and Alexandra Stevenson and while sometimes you roll your eyes at the threads when you want to know something on the WTA they're the best place to go.
A little diversion but shout outs sometimes need to be given.

Major upset

Ana Ivanovic
going out to Yan Zi of China. As was said on a fan board no one told Ms Yan that when you take out a seed you promptly lose the next day. Ms Yan won today. I'm sure someone has sent her the e-mail.


Q. You've pressed him hard twice now the last two times you played. Did you feel like going into today that this was the day you might nail him?
MARCOS BAGHDATIS: Yeah, yeah. I was seeing the match, how it went. I couldn't imagine losing the first set, but I did. Because like I said, before, I didn't take my chances, and that's why maybe the reason is because I didn't like believe in it, I didn't basically he won the first set because of his name. I can say because it's Federer and I just choked.

Q. Do you feel like there's a bigger problem. Against Pavel (sic) last night you had three set points in the first set took and you lost that, and second and third sets it took you a couple set points to win those as well. Is there a bigger problem for you at the end of sets?
MARCOS BAGHDATIS: No. Normally it's not a problem, it's just, I don't know. Last week I beat Moya. He had 6 2 in the first set on the tiebreak. That's part of the game. But that's what I said. That's the difference between Roger and the big guys. They take their chances when they have them and first chance they just take it. They don't give you any.

I think we're done here no?

PMac Commentary

PMac commented the other night that maybe the field is catching up to Federer as a way to explain his lackluster showings so far on this side of the pond. It's funny how when he's not being a fanboy Pmac can really talk tennis.

But let's take this one step further. Does Roger need to improve and add to his game or should he be content with what have become his standard answers on the court? Craig and I were having one of our discussions and I mentioned to him that part of Andy's problem is that he has not really done much to change his game since 2003 and that now he is a known commodity. Does Roger run the same risk especially now that he doesn't have a coach to push him to try different things?
Roger's fans are saying he only cares about the Slams now a la Pete Sampras back in the day but Sampras was a little bit older when he started focusing on the Slams to the virtual exclusion of everything else.
I for one don't accept that. During the Baghdatis match yesterday when he played a point very well he gave a fist pump. He cares a lot about his tennis.

The Rogers Cup - WTA

Marion Baroli played through visible pain last night and won her match against Dinara Safina 6-2, 6-7(2), 6-0. Based on this picture it appears Maid Marion has lost some weight since Wimbledon.


The Semi's

Despite Sahara type conditions in the Midwestern United States there are a couple of interesting mens semi final matches today. In the day match(!)it's Roger vs Lleyton. Roger has been training in Dubai where it's 105 at daybreak. Lleyton is from Southern Australia so no matter what the temperature is heat will not be an issue. Fedtards, stop saying it's unfair for your guy to be playing in the heat of the day. It's what he's trained for. Hush.

The other semi is Blake vs Davydenko. Should be an interesting match. Blake came out on fire against an injured Juan Carlos Ferrero the other night and beat him like he stole something. Funny how well Blake plays when he is pretty sure he can win isn't it? He dropped a set against Querrey and while PMac was acting as if James were playing Roger in the comeback two sets I mean come on. Blake should be beating Querrey in his sleep. Let's see how he does against Davydenko who has a hell of a lot to prove during this event.

As for the women there is a surprise semi finalist. Yan Zi, who didn't get the memo, will be playing Justine Henin this afternoon in what should be an interesting test for Justine. The other semi features Tatiana "Barbie" Golovin against Jelena Jankovic. Both matches should be interesting. Justine has to pound Ms Yan into the concrete to show she's ready for New York and over her surprise loss to Maid Marion at Wimby. Ms Yan takes a set and Justine goes into crisis mode.

As for Barbie and Jelena I just hope a full fledged cat fight doesn't break out. I mean they'll either be comparing fashion tips while they daub the perspiration from their faces or their faces wil be figuratively covered in vaseline and their hair in braids. Hey. We women understand.

Equal Pay for Equal Work

Rafa has come out on the side of women playing five sets to justify earning equal prize money.
The quote in Spanish followed by an English translation done by "Sonfo" on WTAw.

Rafa fue cuestionado sobre la igualdad entre hombres y mujeres a la hora de repartir las ganancias, y aunque en un principio aseguró no tener una opinión formada acerca de este tema, no se cortó a la hora de valorar negativamente que cobren todos lo mismo. "Creo que las mujeres y los hombres son iguales en todos los ámbitos de la vida, pero mi opinión es que si somos iguales, ellas también deberían jugar a cinco sets para ganar el mismo dinero".

"Rafa was asked about the equality between men and women regarding prize money, and while at first he claimed not to have a very well formed opinion about the issue he didn't hesitate when he negatively supported the idea: "I think that men and women are equals when talking about every issue, but my opinion is that if we're all equal, they (women) should also play best-of-five-sets matches to gain as much money as we do".
Full article in Spanish Here

I don't disagree as you regular readers know.


Serena has pulled out of the Pilot Pen tournament.
Mary Jo mentioned yesterday that she can only hit a one handed back hand right now. I hope she is able to play the Open but even Serena can't come into that event with no match prep and do well.
We may not see her again until Melbourne.

For a very good fan discussion on Andy Roddick's woes please visit the article All American Quarter Final

The Namib Desert

I end by offering Rafa an apology. Every report out of Cincy says the heat in the first part of the week was mind numbing. One fan reported that he'd visited Mason Ohio last year and was surprised to find out that the entire facility is not air conditioned and that yes, the heat made it impossible to enjoy the tennis. Another fan reported that being in the heat made her dizzy.

The Truth from Cincinnati

Imagine trying to play Rafa tennis in those conditions.

Fans on TAT had a discussion as to whether they should look to put a roof over Center Court like they have in Melbourne. I doubt this will happen but if it was that hot then they need to look into declaring heat advisories for the players and allowing extra time for cooling down. Again just my very humble opinion.


oddman said...

Nice reading, thank you for all the great info and recaps. I hadn't read Bagh's interview, very telling, and no wonder Craig has started calling Rog 'The Name'. I like it! Yes, even though we know Rafa is an island boy from a tropical place, sounds to me like Cincy was too much for him, along with his injuries. Hope he recovers in time for New York.
Don't follow the women much, who will be the USO champion? Your guess is as good as mine.

Karen said...

I think we are doing Serena dis-service here. I think we will see her before Melbourne. Indoor (carpet) season will be upon us and I am sure she will want to play YEC. As to the USO don't think she will play. With Ms. Ree being so competitive she will abhor the thought of possibly going out in the first round (a fact she has stated time and again has never happened to her in a major tournament). Well, Savannah and everyone else, this is my last post, taking down the computer today and going to a shelter to wait out this storm. I have to secure myself and my kids' safety, plus I have to finish hurricane proofing my house. Talk to you guys soon - say about Wednesday to let you know how things went. Have fun and keep cheering for Yummy Prince Fed

Savannah said...

Karen I do hope that you are right about Serena. I think that if her thumb is not ready she shouldn't force it. I'm not happy about her taking the rest of the year off but if it means she lives to fight another day so be it.

Be safe Karen! We're all thinking about you.

Craig Hickman said...

Ah, yes. The Name. Let's see what Blake does before it on this holy sunday.