Cheesy organ music plays in the background…
Welcome to another edition of “As The Ball Bounces”, the soap opera of tennis. Who needs Maria Sharapova to tell an American show how life is on the tour when this week featured drugs, gambling, poisoning, beat downs, players playing when they know they should not have and who knows what else? Let’s get right to it okay?
Martina Hingis was not photographed sans culottes climbing out of a limo. Instead she was photographed with her new squeeze, a billionaire Russian. The couple was seen strolling down the street in Zurich looking quite pleased with themselves. Party on Martina!
Editors note: I was advised by mmmm8 over on TAT that Martina's squeeze is Ukrainian not Russian, and that he may just be a millionaire as opposed to a billionaire. His name is Alexander Onischenko.
As if allegations of drug abuse are not enough to keep jaded sports fans interested German player Alexander Waske told the press that an unknown Russian told him that the Russians had poisoned Tommy Haas during the Davis Cup this fall. Stop laughing. Instead of Haas coming out and calling bullshit Haas said that he had never been sicker, still felt weak, believes that a latte machiatta he had ingested along with his desert was probably the vehicle used to administer the poison, and that he was off to New York for hair samples to be taken and other tests run to see if the type of poison used can be traced. Of course now that this is the news of the week and coffee chains have hastened to issue statements saying their machiattas are poison free the German Federation now says Waske didn’t say anything of the sort. Uh huh. Waske should have gone to his Federation first and not the press but I guess he wanted his name in the papers while the top eight men of his profession are in Shanghai.
Was Haas Poisoned?
Speaking of Shanghai the alternates Tommy Robredo and
Juan Ignacio Chela were chosen after the men ranked 11-19 refused to make the trip to China. Richard Gasquet seems to have made it in spite of his best efforts not to. Let's see what happens when the event moves to London.
It's also being reported in the Spanish press that Rafa had a spasm in one of his quad muscles and had to stop practicing for a couple of days. He should be fine for his opening match against Gasquet.
Rafa Quad Spasm
Italian Eurosport reported that Italian tennis player Alessio Di Mauro has been suspended for three years for having active gambling accounts and betting on guess what sport? Several of his compatriots including Potito Starace are also under investigation.
Di Mauro Suspended
Di Mauro ended up getting nine months and a fine. They couldn't make the serious charges stick.
Update on Di Mauro
Nikolay Davydenko was not cited for lack of effort this week. It could be because the top men are all in Shanghai preparing for the TMC. Please keep in mind the TMC will become the WTF soon. I still want to know wtf these marketing geniuses were thinking but I digress.
Irina Davydenko was hauled before the authorities who according to press reports wanted to know about Kolya’s pain threshold. It’s not clear if Irina told them what was done between consenting adults in the boudoir is none of their business. The same article in the British press states the following:
Immenga(Davydenko’s lawyer) claimed the ATP's investigators had told him that among the account-holders to have bet against Davydenko in the match against Vassallo were nine people based in Russia. He said the nine stood to make £725,000 from Davydenko's failure, adding that another two account-holders whose location was not known had increased that figure to £3.3m.Davydenko Probe Continues
Meanwhile Davy has his own defenders. One of them was so moved by his plight he posted a video on line begging his detractors to leave Kolya alone. If you haven’t seen the “Leave Britney Alone” piece on You Tube this might not be as funny for you as it will be for those who have. Thanks to my friends over at "Corned Beef Hashmarks" for this clip.
Leave Kolya Alone
Fish or cut bait, crab or carry the basket time ATP.
Maid Marion, aka Marion Bartoli was pressed into service at the WTA YEC after Serena Williams was forced to retire with knee and quadriceps issues. What the hell were you thinking Serena? Marion forced Jelena Jankovic to retire from their match after a 6-1, 1-0 drubbing. Justine Henin did get a chance to show Marion that she was not happy with the way Marion played her at Wimbledon. 6-0, 6-0 kinda sent a message don’t you think?
Daniela Hantuchova managed to pound Svetlana Kuznetsova into the pavement as well in a match that at that point was moot. So was the one between The Maiden and Jelena but there were a lot of bagels served up this week. Not what I want to see at a YEC. I’m just saying you know?
Meanwhile Maria Sharapova served Ana Ivanovic off the court yesterday. The 6-1, 6-2 score is deceiving. It wasn’t that close. Maria won the right to play Anna Chakvetadze who seems to take one look at Maria and swoon. Ana, by losing, gets to face Justine Henin who unless something drastic happens will roll over her the same way Maria did. Looks like a Sharapova/Henin final which should make their fans and IMG very happy. Oh, and Larry Scott too. I’m sure he’d love to throw Justine under a bus so that his Golden Girl holds up the YEC trophy. Please note that Justine has been photographed wearing make up this week. It also appears she got her eyebrows done. Somewhere HFPY is smiling.
Reports surfaced that Kim Clijsters mother is expecting another child, this time with her golfer boyfriend. Isn’t this just wonderful news? Personally I don’t understand any woman with adult children wanting to start the diapers and two in the morning feedings again but that’s me. I understand this is not unusual in many cultures so please understand my surprise is purely personal. All you Freudians out there can have at it now.
Kims Mother Is Pregnant
That ends this weeks edition of “As The Ball Bounces”. Cue more cheesy organ music please. And a laugh track.
- I still can't believe that for tennisheads in the United States to see the Madrid Singles Semi's we have to resort to online streaming since they are not being carried live in the States. No knock against doubles but come on WTA. Maybe if Larry were less focused on the Golden Girl and on women's tennis in general this situation wouldn't exist.
- Thanks to Versus for carrying the weeks matches live and in their entirety. I really don't know who decided on the camera angle though. The ball was getting lost and in many instances I had to wait for the replay to see it since the replays were at a less severe angle.
- What does it say about the WTA and the quality of it's product when absolutely no one expected the number two ranked woman in the world to make it to the semi's? Roadkill is not going to make this situation better either.
- The match everyone was looking forward to between Maria and Ana, whom Maria had been ducking all year, turned out to be a dud unless you're a Povanut. To quote Craig, "Hype played hype and Hype won". It's bad enough the Russian women roll over and play dead against Maria without the Serbians jumping on that bandwagon. Not a Pova fan but that was a dominating display from Maria who moved well and made her shots when she had to. I guess the thought of facing Justine in the semi's was the movtivation Maria needed to play well.
- I also wondered about the men ranked 11-19 deciding they couldn't be bothered going to Shanghai for the TMC. The year David Nalbandian won it all he came as an alternate after Agassi pulled out. Guess that's not motiviation enough.There were rumors that either Andy, Kolya or both would pull out giving Nalby direct entry into the final eight. That didn't happen. It seems making the trip to sit around and play video games all day just didn't work for those guys. The TMC will be moved to London in 2009. Let's see if the ATP runs into similar issues with that venue.
- It should be mentioned in passing that Roger Federer's head to head against the men in his group is 34-1.
- On a totally shallow note candles are being lit and novenas begun in the hope that Maria's outfit at the YEC will not catch on. They're not all being lit by prepubescent boys either. Jelena's dress fit too tightly across her bustline, Daniela's left nothing to the imagination and Serena wore a retread but none of that caused more comment than Maria's outfit. The skirt and blouse may catch on with cougars but I can't imagine any of the younger set wanting to dress and look like grand mama's.
- It's a wrap that Russian Tennis has had the worst week ever no?
The Madrid Final Four
Photographs of the Week