Sunday, February 25, 2007

Is This The Face of the WTA for 2007?

Venus Williams beat Shahar Peer like a drum 6-1, 6-1 Saturday, February 24 to win the
Regions Morgan Championships and the Cellular South Cup.

Her father said she wasn't ready, that he wanted her to wait a few months. As I recall Oracene Price was singing the same song in Melbourne about their other daughter.

I wonder what other events Venus and Serena won't be ready for this year?

In related news Martina Hingis admitted that with Venus Williams and Serena Williams out with injuries she decided she could beat what was then the current competition.

"It wasn't the spotlight I missed. It was the challenge, the competition. I still felt I had something to give. I didn't want to have any regrets. I thought: 'I'm going to be 30 one day, maybe have a family. Why don't I try one more time before my body collapses totally.' When I stopped playing in 2003 the Williams sisters were very dominant, but a couple of years down the road they have been injured, not playing. Sometimes I was commentating, and I'd think: 'I could beat her'. Definitely I felt a bit like that. At the Australian Open in 2004, Patty Schnyder and Fabiola Zuluaga reached the semi-finals.

"Back in the days of Seles, Davenport, Capriati in their prime, players like that would never have featured in the Grand Slam semi-finals. I couldn't say it at the time, but I can say it now. So I wanted to give it another go before it was too late. Once you are a champion, you always know what to do."

The rest of the interview, a very good one, is here:

Shahar Peer shows she is a true competitor. Some may call her deluded but I don't fault her post match statements. It's better than James Blake's "happy to lose" comments he was making almost to the end of last year.

Peer said: "It was a very, very good week except for the final. The rest of the rounds were good, but this is the first time I have lost in a final, so it's not the happiest thing. Venus is very experienced and she was focused from the first game today. Against players like her I can't afford to start slowly."

Neither can the rest of the tour Shahar.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Hi! It's Me, MV from Dubai

Sigh. It seems like we were just here…oh wait.
Anyway I wanted to let my fans know what the Captain and I have been up to here in Dubai while tennis has been played all over the world. This is one of our favorite places on earth. Yes it gets pretty hot but the heat is good for the Captain since it hones his strength and durability especially with the clay court season about to start. He is very very focused and I’m sure his legions of fans will be happy that he’ll be back in circulation and beating the shit out of the cupcakes, uh, I mean cannon fodder, uh, players that he will have to face on his way to the Finals of every single event he plays in. I love how they all come up to him and apologize for giving him a hard time. They know they should allow him to win in straight sets and not disturb his equilibrium. And why not? People want to see the number one in the world no…sorry, there’s that word again. Talking to El Senor is starting to affect me but I will not let him break my concentration or change my goal in life which is to keep my Captain happy. If I let El Senor distract me with thoughts of hot steamy...
Anyway I am grateful to them because he is sooo grouchy when he has to play an extra set. I like it when things go according to plan don't you? The Captain mentioned having them genuflect to him on court after a match but I told him that was a bit extreme. They already do that in the locker room and that will have to suffice for now.

Just so his fans know HFPY is in good spirits. He’s using the law to get everything he has coming to him just as any respectable WAG would do after being caught ass up…well you know what I mean. A compromising position. He was caught in a compromising position. He tried to explain but as I’ve said before the Piranha was having no parts of it. Very harsh woman who was actually crushing HFPY’s spirit. El Vampiro has been keeping in touch with him though and I think they plan to take a cruise on El Vampiro’s yacht soon.

However life goes on and with the Footballer’s Wife busy in Los Angeles appearing to be running from the stalkeratzzi her people have arranged to have present where ever she goes pressure is on for another addition to the WAG writing brigade. Someone mentioned Mrs. ComeON! so I sent her an invitation. I heard she composed her own poem for her wedding so you can imagine my surprise when the response came back. It looked as if it had been written by her daughter. After repeated readings she seemed to be saying she was very happy to be considered and that she had attached a sample of her first entry. Let’s just say my schedule is wayyy to full to be an editor and explain the rules of basic English to a full grown woman. Maybe she should take ESL courses. I wrote her back and told her that her request had been submitted to the committee. My delete button! LOL!

Anyhow I did promise to tell you what we’ve been up to. TENNIS! He’s been practicing hard and he’s certainly ready for whatever they throw at him. I can tell you his fitness and endurance are the best they’ve ever been and that he’s been dream free. No more repeats of what happened in Japan that time. We have been following the tour and we notice that the Scottish Vampire is getting a lot of hype. People are talking about him making the top three by the end of the year. They're also saying that the Cornhusker is going to do the same. We discussed all of that at length during a conversation about what to eat for dinner that night. I can’t tell you how much I’m fiending for a good roast loin of pork right about now. One more serving of beef in any shape form or fashion will send me up the wall. As for chicken I think I’ve developed pin feathers. Lamb is okay but again enough is enough.

I’ve attached one of my favorite pictures of us so you can see that we are doing fine. And before you all start asking about the scarf and the desert my Captain used to sport bleached blond hair and live in sweats. Deal with it. I hope to get a chance to update you during the tournament.

And I do apologize for all the words in this blog entry that normally don't appear in my posts. It's just that El Senor sent me a text message about El Regalo something and it's just that I can't remember how to...uh, excuse me while I adjust the air. He just sent me another text message...OH! OH MY GOD! It's time to go find my Captain and test his strength and endurance. Excuse me.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Tennis-Only The Rich Need Apply?

Middle-class heroes can lift our game

A provocative speech has made social background a burning issue. Jon Henderson Reports

Sunday, December 10, 2006
The Observer

Far from mocking Tim Henman's middle-class pedigree, Britain should exploit the social group that is 'the greatest single asset we have in this sporting nation'.

Ian Wight, the long-time director of the Stella Artois championships, Britain's most successful tournament after Wimbledon, last week unexpectedly made the role of the gently nurtured a burning tennis issue. He unashamedly trumpeted the virtues of the middle classes in a trenchant and provocative speech whose subtext seemed to be to discomfort Roger Draper, the man installed earlier this year to revive the British game.

'We excel at middle-class sports in the UK and tennis is a middle-class sport. Let's exploit it,' said Wight. Draper's response was equally blunt. 'The problem is tennis is largely dominated by the middle classes,' he told Observer Sport, 'and we need to get more people involved from disadvantaged backgrounds.'

The least contentious of Wight's views was that tennis was more available to the middle classes because it was expensive. 'Balls, rackets, courts, clothing, shoes all cost money,' he said. 'Transport is another expense both in real cost and in time, the most precious commodity next to money a parent can offer.'

What made Wight's comments particularly provocative, quite apart from the basic theme, was including in the same passage the observation that tennis 'is also a complex game to learn'. This introduced the implication that the better-off tend to be better equipped mentally. 'An intelligent player will, over time, win out,' said Wight. 'So let's think about finding kids who are bright enough to excel at the technical and tactical aspects of the game. Let's put brains before brawn. The former is a god-given gift, the latter can be developed.

Continue Reading

A few weeks ago the tournament director of Stella Artois caused a stir when he said that demands for appearance fees had gotten out of hand. I thought the statement odd at the time since the likes of Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras had regularly demanded and been paid for showing up at events they would then tank. I thought that something more than altruism was behind the words but couldn’t prove it. Now that Wight’s statement has come to light (despite attempts to keep it away from the tennis public) I feel partially vindicated in my suspicions.

The first post about this did not appear on one of the big message boards (ESPN, MSNBC) but on one dedicated to Svetlana Kuznetsova.

It was posted by a fan alarmed by the assumptions underpinning the gentlemen’s premise.

I find it interesting that none of the tennis columnists or bloggers have mentioned this since the statements were made at an event attended by tennis editors and writers.

The question is why wouldn’t this elitist drivel be publicized and made part of the what’s-wrong-with-tennis discussion? Shouldn’t this attitude be debated alongside who is prettier, plays harder, or is not given their due? Or has it not been reported because this mindset permeates the upper echelons of tennis on this side of the pond as well?

It must be kept in mind that the British are clever with their words. You will hear the very rich say they go to public school. Public schools in England comprise some of the most exclusive schools in the world and bear no resemblance to what we mean by public schools in the United States.

The same clever play on words applies to the term “middle-class.” Wight isn’t talking about postal workers, teachers or government drones. He's talking about the class just below the aristocracy, a group we would simply call “rich” or “well off” here. In this context, Wight’s class bias becomes obvious.

During Fernando Gonzalez’ run at the Australian Open, one of the women commentators mentioned that he comes from a very wealthy family and “doesn’t have to do this,” by which she meant he doesn’t have to play tennis. I guess she thought that viewers in the States think everyone with a Spanish surname just snuck across the border into Texas last week. Tracy Austin has said that Eastern European players play so hard because they’ve escaped from the “hovels” they lived in and don't want to go back. Reminds me of comments about those forced to endure at the Houston Astrodome after Katrina.

I’m sure that there will be more headlines declaring “order restored” after all these pesky foreigners and lower-class people go back to their places and leave tennis to the people meant to play it, the middle classes of England and the rich of Australia and the Untied States.

This topic needs to be debated openly by those who report on tennis with cool heads and reason as opposed to fanaticism and bias. This bias for the “betters” of the world lies at the root of the problems facing not only British tennis but also American tennis. The fact that the tennis press has not reported this story can only mean that many pundits agree with what the speaker implies. Otherwise I think these comments would have received closer scrutiny from the always-looking-for-a-story press.

This is a subject I will return to especially as the what-is-wrong-with-tennis debate inevitably continues on this side of the pond.

The Measure of a Superstar

This article was posted on by tennis fan Special600. Great article about Venus Ebony Starr Williams.

Black History is not only made by men and women like Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr and Barack Obama. People like Madame C J Walker, Iman, Halle Berry, Flo-Jo, Jackie Wilson, Leontyne Price, and Paul Robeson have opened doors in their own way. That this article was printed in a paper in Memphis, Tennessee speaks volumes. So does the fan reaction.

A True Superstar
Venus Williams brings her game and her smile to the Racquet Club.


John Branston Hey Grizzlies, about that new owner and front person you're looking for. There's someone in Memphis this week who's got the money, plus world-class athletic ability, a great smile, and fan appeal that cuts across racial and age lines.

The only problem is her game is tennis, not basketball, and she'll be outta here Sunday, if not before. But Venus Williams has already earned her appearance money and then some by filling the Racquet Club on a Monday night and reminding the estimated 5,000 people what true stars are all about.

Racquet Club owner Mac Winker was the happiest man in Memphis when Williams closed out a close three-set win over journeyman player Akiko Morigami. Winker said he hadn't seen anything like it since Jimmy Connors played here 20 years ago. The man standing next to him agreed -- he was John Connors, Jimmy's older brother, a tennis teacher in Illinois here to take in the first few days of the tournament.
"The atmosphere was like a prizefight," said Winker.

During several long rallies in which Morigami ran down ball after ball, fans cheered before the point was over, a violation of tennis etiquette that drew a warning from the chair umpire. But the scolding was perfunctory -- imagine fans getting so wound up that they break out in cheers and gasps -- and the players didn't seem to mind. In the post-match press conference, Morigami said it was "cool" to play Williams for the first time, and Williams described the crowd response as "awesome."
Williams is coming off an injury and hadn't played for four months. As rangy as her sister Serena is muscular, she is all business on the court and doesn't play to the crowd with Connors-like fist pumps, tantrums, or jokes. Her famous father was in the courtside players' box but disappeared during the second set before returning for the finish. Williams said she only looks at her father's box in the last game.
She won the first set easily but faltered in the second set as her serve deserted her and Morigami smacked two-handed winners off her forehand and backhand. In first-round matches involving headliners, there is always a fine line between a thriller in which the star is tested and a disaster in which the star gets beat. The latter has happened many times over the 30 years of the tournament, and attendance can fall off the table without an Agassi, Sampras, McEnroe, or Roddick in the final rounds. To lose Williams would have been even worse, because she is by far the best player ever to enter the women's field in the relatively short history of that event.

With Williams serving at 5-4 in the third set, it still looked like that might happen again. On the first point, she caught her first service toss, then her second. Would her serve desert her again? No. She hit a 108-mph winner, then followed it up with three more first serves topping out at 114 mph to take the match.

Only then did she acknowledge the crowd and the shouts of "V" with a wave and a huge smile. She happily knocked four souvenir balls into the stands. Then she gathered her gear and walked a double rope-line of picture-taking fans, smiling and slapping palms all the way to the locker room. Fan interaction is the most underrated play in sports. Pete Sampras walked off this same court without so much as a wave after losing one year, and John McEnroe all but sunk the seniors tournament at the Racquet Club last year with his cursing and tantrums. Williams, for whatever reason, gave the crowd what it wanted: the illusion that she is both somehow like us and likes us.

"Hello," she said simply, as she sat down in the interview room promptly at 9 p.m., as advertised. Then she smiled and laughed her way through 15 minutes of questions, allowing that, no, her wrist didn't bother her, and, yes, she does feel like an advocate for the game in Memphis, where hundreds of people probably made their first visit to the Racquet Club. "I'm pretty much going for it the whole time," she said.
If only we could keep her.

Yannick Noah - The Last Great French Champion

Another in the series of articles for Black History Month Craig is doing on his blog.

Yannick Noah is an iconic figure in France. He is known not only for his tennis. In his post tennis life he is an accomplished singer. It's also scary for people like me to watch his son playing college basketball here in the States.

Enjoy the articles.

Black History Month: Yannick Noah

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Black History Month- A Personal Meditation

Black History Month started out as Negro History Week. I remember wondering as a child why they even bothered since people who looked like me needed only a week to discuss our history while we spent all year studying England, France and the US War for Independence. Of course they never taught us that the original Declaration of Independence had strong statements against slavery and England's role in that horrid commerce which the Southern land owners had removed. My daughter has been taught about this little known fact.

For my generation this was not the case. As I got older it seemed that while the soon to be American citizens were fighting for their freedom from tyranny they had not for one second considered freeing the men, women and children held in chattel slavery on the very land they were fighting to claim as theirs. During Negro History Week we learned about Lincoln freeing the slaves. That was when our history was said to begin.

It was a long fight but that week became a month and black Americans began to take pride in coming from the continent of Africa. We could never know whether we were Ibo, Yoruba, Muslim or practicioners of traditional religions since our names and culture were deemed subversive after Toussaint L'ouverture and Henri Christophe threw the French off the island of Haiti. It took Alex Haley's drama, "Roots" to open the flood gates for African Americans to look back not with shame but pride to the men and women who survived the Middle Passage and fought to live in the face of daunting odds.

Much is made of the African American presence in tennis and once again the perception, that we've just started playing the sport, is wrong. I remember as a girl seeing people playing tennis at the Harlem River Houses. It was just not important to the people in charge of the sport at that time since black Americans could not enter the country clubs in Westchester County and other places and were not considered serious players. David Dinkins, former NYC mayor, comes out of this tradition. No one doubts his fierce love of the sport. Now African Americans are at all levels of the sport.

Craig has been doing a series on his blog about the African-American presence in tennis. His essays, well written and researched, are essential reading during this month in which the history of African Americans in the United States is studied and reevaluated by not only black Americans but all Americans.

Negro History Week has come a long way.

Thank you Craig!

History Month: African Americans in Tennis

History Month: Honoring Althea Gibson

History Month: Honoring Arthur Ashe

Diamonds Are Forever

Just in case you wanted to know what an 8lb, $1.3 million dollar diamond encrusted tennis racquet looks like.

Congratulations Amelie!
And oh yeah, that's a nice grip!

2007 - Year of the Fire Boar

As the Lunar New Year begins today I thought I'd take time to not only indulge one of my hobbies but to also associate the top men and women tennis players with their Asian signs.

Some Westerners know about Chinese Astrology and some don’t. I don't pretend to be an expert but I’ve broken down the top ten for both the ATP and WTA giving their animal signs and elements. I've also included those pesky women known collectively as the Williams Sisters.
I’ve also included some links at the end of the article for those who want to pursue the topic further.

Happy New Year everyone!

2007- Year of the Fire Pig/Boar

Begins February 18, 2007.
The exact new moon time is at 00:14 on 18-Feb-07 in China time zone.

2007, the Fire Pig/Boar (Ding Hai) Year

BEST year for: Tigers
VERY GOOD year for: Goats, Rabbits, Pigs
GOOD year for: Roosters, Dragons, Dogs
MIXED year for: Horses, Oxen, Rats
DIFFICULT year for: Monkeys, Snakes

The 12th and final sign of the Eastern zodiac begins on Feb. 18, 2007. 2006's "furnace" of Yang Fire (Bing) now dims and the Fire element becomes the flickering "candlelight" Yin Fire (Ding) in 2007's Fire Pig year. While the Fire element will still be present, the hidden element in the Pig branch is Water, so in 2007 we have the picture of Fire over Water. It will be the 24th year in the current 60 year cycle.

As this past year of the Dog built structure and a symbolic "home" it is now time for the Pig to "furnish" said castle making it a comfortable, cozy place of safety and security. Occupying the life palace of home & family life with the Dog, the Pig proceeds to complete what the Dog has laid foundations for. Finishing touches, tying up loose ends, last stands, curtain calls and closures will be the urging of the year. So, prepare to finish projects, complete goals and even say some goodbyes. Put your ducks in a row, cross your T's and dot your “I's” in 2007 and the proper Pig will be gracious to you.

Pig years are known for their respite from strife, patience and passivity, but also for indulgence, sensuality and fleshly delights. As the last sign of the zodiac, the Pig represents "resignation" accepting human nature as it is - content to live and let live. The greatest risk will be naiveté, so by all means avoid confidence schemes and being fooled or duped throughout 2007.

Watch for lost or stolen items and keep all business dealings scrupulously honest and above board. Self-promotion gains little in 2007 as the Pig is not interested in pushing ahead at the cost of another. Sales and marketing ventures advance only if they are sincere and completely legitimate.

All things that occur this year can be looked on as closing or final conclusions in some way. An auspicious year to complete projects, bring projects to fruition or arrive safely after completing a long life journey.

Behaviorally, we may see the choosing of sides and the emergence of the 'white hats and the black hats' as the 'good guys' and the 'bad guys' square off, so to speak. Basically, in 2007, the good become superior and the bad become worse. The enlightened continue on their path to understanding and contentment, while the spiritually bankrupt slip farther away from their true selves. Take a stand, speak your mind and feel the closure of this Pig year.

Fire is in harmony with Earth, produced by Wood, destructive to Metal and is conquered by Water. Elementally, 2007's Yin Fire brings "happiness and contentment" to those born into Yang Earth years (Earth Rat, Earth Tiger, Earth Dragon, Earth Horse, Earth Monkey, Earth Dog).

It brings "unexpected fortune" and good luck to those born into Yin Water years (Water Ox, Water Rabbit, Water Snake, Water Goat, Water Rooster, Water Pig)...while bringing luck with "earned wealth" to those born into Yang Water years (Water Rat, Water Tiger, Water Dragon, Water Horse, Water Monkey, Water Dog).

Yin Fire brings opportunities to make beneficial changes to those born into Yang Metal years (Metal Rat, Metal Tiger, Metal Dragon, Metal Horse, Metal Monkey, Metal Dog)...while bringing life changing or challenging events to those born into Yin Metal years (Metal Ox, Metal Rabbit, Metal Snake, Metal Goat, Metal Rooster, Metal Pig).

Pace yourself during this Fire year to avoid burnout and try not to keep such a hurried pace. Add the Earth element to your life and home to sooth frazzled nerves, slow down and facilitate relaxation. Gardening, working with clay or pottery, sharing time with your animals and all manner of worship/church/temple or meditative practices will increase the Earth element in your life.


Roger Federer – 1981- Rooster (Metal)
Note: Mirka – 1978- Horse (Earth)
Rafael Nadal – 1986- Tiger (Fire)
Nikolai Davydenko – 1981 – Rooster (Metal)
James Blake – 1979 – Sheep/Ram (Earth)
Ivan Ljubicic –1979 – Sheep/Ram (Earth)
Andy Roddick – 1982 – Dog (Water)
Tommy Robredo – 1982- Dog (Water)
David Nalbandian – 1982(January 1)* Rooster (Metal)
Mario Ancic – 1984 – Rat (Wood)
Fernando Gonzalez – 1980 – Monkey (Metal)


Maria Sharapova – 1987 – Rabbit/Cat (Fire)
Justine Henin – 1982 – Dog (Water)
Amelie Mauresmo – 1979 – Sheep/Ram (Earth)
Svetlana Kuznetsova – 1985 – Ox (Wood)
Kim Clijsters - 1983 – Pig/Boar (Water)
Nadia Petrova -1982 – Dog (Water)
Martina Hingis – 1980 – Monkey (Metal)
Elena Dementieva – 1981 – Rooster (Metal)
Patty Schnyder – 1978 – Horse (Earth)
Nicole Vaidisova – 1989 – Snake (Earth)
Serena Williams – 1981- Rooster (Metal)
Venus Williamsn – 1980– Monkey (Metal)

*Nalbandian, while born in 1982 was still ruled by the animal of the previous cycle since the Lunar New Year didn't happen until later in the Western Month of January.

For more detailed information the sites listed below are informative.

Details: Yes this is a bridal site but it is one of the best on Asian Astrology.

Here is another very good site:

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Dubai Drama Continues

by Savannah

When I wrote my piece on Dubai yesterday highlighting the women who had dropped out, the top eight seeds by default included Anna-Lena Groenefeld, a woman who in the past had been on many people's player-to-watch lists but has shown up at her last few matches in a condition that would not be described as match fit. Many fans were quite vocal in expressing their horror of her being a top seed at this event.

When I woke up this morning I found out that Amelie Mauresmo, the woman who did not want to play Antwerp and has just advanced to the finals, will also play Dubai.

This was not an act of altruism on her part. If the right balance of top ten players is not provided to an event, the WTA must pay a fine - compensate the tournament for revenue lost. This is not the first time this has happened. Both Venus Williams and Jennifer Capriati were drafted to play in the Kremlin Cup some years ago under similar circumstances.

I'm also sure Amelie was nicely compensated for her inconvenience by the tournament officials.

The official announcement of Mauresmo joining the field provided coverage of "glamour girl" Daniela Hantuchova. While many men consider her beautiful she has never before to my knowledge been used to sell seats to a tournament. One fan called the press release a sign that tournament officials were "desperate."

When the situation in women's tennis has reached the point where machinations normally kept out of public view are now discussed on fanboards I think Larry Scott, to quote Ricky Ricardo, has some "splainin' to do not only to his professional constituency but to women's tennis fans as well.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

What's A Tournament Director To Do?

by Savannah

She made it official today. One forum featured rumors for almost a week that Maria Sharapova had withdrawn from Dubai. There was no official source for the rumor but it seemed better than the "who is sleeping with whom?" stuff where it doesn't matter that the rumored liaisons are a publicist's wet dream or the real thing. The forum posters speculated that Ms. Sharapova had been off the official entry list for some time but that her name was still being used to sell tickets.

When Maria made the official announcement on her web site within the last 24 hours it became okay to talk about her dropping out. I didn't expect the second withdrawal – Serena Williams. Sharapova may put some butts in the seats but it was the other woman, #81, who would really bring home the beef. (I would have said bacon but Dubai is Muslim emirate.)

Maria cited the hamstring injury she apparently suffered at some point between Melbourne and Tokyo which caused her to retire during her match against Ana Ivanovic amid much cursing and bizarre behavior from her and her coach. Serena, who withdrew from Bangalore with the flu is still suffering the after effects and does not feel strong enough to play in Dubai.

I'm sure the TD was up nights having wet dreams about a final featuring Sharapova vs. Williams. After Sharapova withdrew, he dreamt of Henin vs. Williams. Instead he has a potential Henin vs. Hingis final. And Henin is rumored to withdraw, which would decimate this field if it proves to be true.

Dubai might become a Tier 1 event. The appearance fees paid out here, said to be $500,000 per top player, usually assure a stellar field. What is happening in tennis that would make the marquee players pull out despite the lucre offered by the event organizers? Are all of these withdrawals being caused by real injury or sickness or is everyone focusing on the Slams and Tier 1 events? There's a story that John Roddick, when bidding Serena good bye in Melbourne, asked her if he wouldn't see her until Roland Garros. I'm sure the tournament director at Dubai heard this story and scoffed. He's got a pretty good field left and fans will be interested in seeing if Justine Henin can close the gap between her and Maria and take the No. 1 spot at some point during the winter hard court season in the States.

But Henin is not a woman who draws crowds to matches. Her less than stellar record when it comes to sportsmanship turns off many fans and despite the sympathy sent her way after the breakup of her marriage, people don't pay to see a sympathetic figure. They want to see ball pounding, mind numbing Big Babe Tennis. By no stretch of the imagination is Henin a Big Babe. And other than Martina Hingis none of the other women will have fans hanging from the rafters in Dubai. Short of holding a gun to a player's head in the form of heavy fines, what can the WTA, ITF and Tournament Directors do to ensure the best of the best appear at the events they've committed to? I am of the opinion that if players are injured they have to do what is best for them. If the player is suffering from brain fart-itis does that mean he/she should withdraw from events until they get themselves together?

Roadmap to 2010

The "roadkill" changes, as fans call them, aren't even in effect yet. The WTA plans to initiate a two-tiered main tour. The big events - Miami, Indian Wells, The Four Slams, all of the Tier 1 events - stay in place. The smaller events, and as of now Dubai is a Tier 2, will suffer as the women at the top will play where they'll get the most points and money. I put money second because apparently that isn't enough to secure the top women's appearance. Durban South Africa has a challenger event that is in the running to be upgraded to a Tier 1. Events such as Amelia Island are in danger.

What seems to be forgotten is that the average fan can't afford to travel to Melbourne, London, Paris or New York to attend a Grand Slam. Fans report that Melbourne is the most fan friendly Slam with moderately priced food. At the US Open, I paid six bucks for a burger that resembled a hockey puck and three for a bottle of water. After shelling out big bucks for upgraded seats, I couldn't afford to use my pass to the US Open Club where I'd have the luxury of paying bigger bucks for a steak or to eat at a buffet where most of the food is not part of my diet. Many fans save and go to local events where the Big Boys and Girls are likely to show up. Most people thought that the "roadkill" changes would be seen gradually. I think we're seeing them already.

This is not to disparage any of the women who will play Dubai. They've all worked hard and some of them have been playing very good tennis lately. Jelena Jankovic has applied to play. She is a rising star but she's not Serena or Maria. Jelena, Nicole Vaidisova and a lately resurgent Ana Ivanovic are the future. They're not "stahs" yet.

So back to the poor guy in Dubai (poor being a relative term of course). His event went from "A" list to "B" list and there is nothing he can do about it. I think about that guy in England who bitched and moaned about paying appearance fees which he thought were nothing short of extortion. Here's a guy in Dubai who is throwing money at the stars and they're still not coming to his party. He's got a woman who many feel is "the real number one" in Justine Henin, and another woman in Martina Hingis who went from legendary teenaged player to early retiree and is now moving towards the top of the sport again. If he can't get the marquee names to show up, what happens to the man or woman running Amelia Island? Last year's Canadian Open suffered the same fate as Dubai.

Please let me say again I do believe that if players are sick or injured they should not play. Do tennis authorities have to have one of their medics dispatched to a players home to make sure they're really sick or to confirm an injury? I hope it doesn't come to that but if the trend continues, the tournament directors, and the fans, will demand change.

Related Article:
Sharapova and Serena withdrawals highlight tour crisis

Andy Roddick Gets Some Respect

Great read from Craig's blog about Davis Cup play and prima donna's. And of course Andy Roddick.

Andy Roddick: Flagship for American Tennis

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Craig's Davis Cup Review

The United States wins on clay for the first time in twelve years as Andy Roddick remembers he can play on clay and Bob Bryan remembers he can play singles. Several ties go to the fifth and deciding rubber. A great start to the Davis Cup run and proof positive that men's tennis is very, very deep.

Craig Hickman's Round 1 Recap

Davis Cup World Group Round 1: A Photoessay

This was the weekend every tennis fan waved their country's flag and cheered for the home team. Davis Cup is many things.

It's about the teams.

It's about the players.

It's about victory and defeat.

And it's about the fans who get to go to a tennis match and cheer for the home team!

Players are already on their way home or to the next event. Congratulations to all who participated!

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Davis Cup 2007 World Group

Click to go to Davis Cup official website

by Savannah

First Round Overview
In first round play all the ties will be interesting but I think all eyes will be on the first three:

Czech Republic vs United States - Will the US at least represent on clay?

Spain vs Switzerland - Will the Swiss represent without King Roger playing?

Chile vs Russia - Can the Chileans led by Fernando Gonzalez pull out a win against the Russians who are coming in as defending DC champions? The Chilean fans may have a lot to say about this outcome.

Austria vs Argentina – Argentina is fielding a very good team. I like them in this one but in DC you never know.

Germany vs Croatia – Croatia has the better and more experienced team. Haas plays very well during DC but he can't do it alone.

Belgium vs Australia – The Rochus brothers guarantee excitement but I think the Aussies will be out for blood and will pull it off even on clay.

France vs Romania - No reason for the French not to win this one easily.

Detailed Previews: 09 February - 11 February 2007

Czech Republic vs United States
CEZ Arena, Ostrava, Czech Republic
Stadium Capacity: 7500
Day 1: 1500 hrs (1400 hrs GMT)
Day 2: 1430 hrs (1330 hrs GMT)
Day 3: 1400 hrs (1300 hrs GMT)
Surface: Clay (Red Clay) - Indoors
Ball Type: Wilson Australian Open

Czech Republic
Tomas Berdych
Lukas Dlouhy
Ivo Minar
Pavel Vizner
Captain: Jaroslav Navratil

United States
Andy Roddick
James Blake
Mike Bryan
Bob Bryan
Captain: Patrick McEnroe

This is the sixth meeting of these two nations. USA hold a 4-1 advantage but its last three encounters with Czech Republic have all been decided in the fifth rubber. USA suffered its only loss in 1996 but gained revenge in 2000.

Austria vs Argentina
Intersport Arena Linz, Linz, Austria
Stadium Capacity: 5000
Day 1: 1400 hrs (1300 hrs GMT)
Day 2: 1400 hrs (1300 hrs GMT)
Day 3: 1400 hrs (1300 hrs GMT)
Surface: Carpet (Greenset Trophy) - Indoors
Ball Type: Head ATP

Jose Acasuso
Juan Martín del Potro
Guillermo Cañas
Sebastián Prieto
Captain: Alberto Mancini

Jurgen Melzer
Stefan Koubek
Oliver Marach
Julian Knowle
Captain: Gilbert Schaller

This is the first meeting between these two nations, despite both countries boasting long Davis Cup histories. Austria first competed in 1905, while Argentina made its debut in 1921.

Switzerland vs. Spain
Geneva Palexpo, Geneva, Switzerland
Stadium Capacity: 5400
Day 1: 1330 hrs (1230 hrs GMT) tbc
Day 2: 1400 hrs (1300 hrs GMT) tbc
Day 3: 1330 hrs (1230 hrs GMT) tbc
Surface: Carpet (Taraflex) - Indoors
Ball Type: Head ATP

Stanislas Wawrinka
Marco Chiudinelli
Yves Allegro
Stephane Bohli
Captain: Severin Luthi

Rafael Nadal
David Ferrer
Fernando Verdasco
Feliciano Lopez
Captain: Emilio Sanchez

This is the fifth meeting between the two nations, in a Davis Cup series that started 61 years ago. So far Spain has had the best of it, having won the last three of their four previous match-ups. The nations have not met since 1998.

Germany vs. Croatia
Konig Palast Krefeld, Krefeld
Stadium Capacity: 4600
Day 1: 1345 hrs (1245 hrs GMT)
Day 2: 1345hrs (1245 hrs GMT)
Day 3: 1300 hrs (1200 hrs GMT)
Surface: Hard (Rebound Ace) - Indoors
Ball Type: Head ATP

Tommy Haas
Benjamin Becker
Alexander Waske
Michael Kohlmann
Captain: Patrik Kuhnen

Ivan Ljubicic
Mario Ancic
Ivo Karlovic
Marin Cilic
Captain: Goran Prpic

This is the third meeting between the two nations, having last met in the 2002 World Group first round when Croatia leveled a 0-1 deficit against Germany, defeating the visitors 4-1 on home soil.

Belgium vs Australia
Country Hall du Sart-Tilman, Liege, Belgium
Stadium Capacity: 4000
Day 1: 1330 hrs (1230 hrs GMT)
Day 2: 1500 hrs (1400 hrs GMT)
Day 3: 1330 hrs (1230 hrs GMT)
Surface: Clay (Red Clay) - Indoors
Ball Type: Head ATP

Olivier Rochus
Christophe Rochus
Kristof Vliegen
Dick Norman
Captain: Julien Hoferlin

Lleyton Hewitt
Chris Guccione
Peter Luczak
Paul Hanley
Captain: John Fitzgerald

Australia has comfortably won both previous meetings between the two nations; in fact, Belgium has yet to win a rubber, losing 5-0 in Perth in 1991 and 4-0 in Scarborough, Great Britain in 1922. Both nations have a long Davis Cup history, Belgium competing for the first time in 1904 and Australia joining a year later.

Belarus vs Sweden
Football Manege, Minsk, Belarus
Stadium Capacity: 4769
Day 1: 1500 hrs (1300 hrs GMT)
Day 2: 1500 hrs (1300 hrs GMT)
Day 3: 1300 hrs (1200 hrs GMT)
Surface: Hard (Taraflex) - Indoors
Ball Type: Wilson US Open Regular Duty

Max Mirnyi
Vladimir Voltchkov
Pavel Katliarou
Serguei Tarasevitch
Captain: Dmitri Tatur

Robin Soderling
Jonas Bjorkman
Thomas Johansson
Simon Asperling
Captain: Mats Wilander

This is the first Davis Cup tie between the two nations. Belarus, in only its 14th year in the competition, has won 10 of its 11 previous home ties.

Chile vs Russia
Campus Deportivo Universidad del Mar, La Serena, Chile
Stadium Capacity: 10,000
Day 1: 1100 hrs (1400 hrs GMT)
Day 2: 1200 hrs (1500 hrs GMT)
Day 3: 1100 hrs (1400 hrs GMT)
Surface: Clay (Red Clay) - Outdoors
Ball Type: Pro Penn Extra Duty (Black Seal)

Fernando Gonzalez
Nicolas Massu
Paul Capdeville
Adrian Garcia
Captain: Hans Gildemeister

Marat Safin
Dmitry Tursunov
Igor Andreev
Teimuraz Gabashvili
Captain: Shamil Tarpischev

This is the fourth meeting between the two nations, having last met in the 2005 first round where Chile fell at the hands of the Russians 4-1 in Moscow, who went on to win the title. Chile will be fighting to defeat Russia for the first time and playing on home soil could send out warning signs to the defending champions - Chile has won its last nine home ties.

France vs Romania
Zenith - Grand Halle d'Auvergne, Clermont-Ferrand, France
Stadium Capacity: 5819
Day 1: 1300 hrs (1200 hrs GMT) tbc
Day 2: 1345 hrs (1245 hrs GMT) tbc
Day 3: 1330 hrs (1230 hrs GMT) tbc
Surface: Hard (Taraflex) - Indoors

Richard Gasquet
Sebastian Grosjean
Arnaud Clement
Michael Llodra
Captain: Guy Forget

Andrei Pavel
Victor Hanescu
Victor-Valentin Crivoi
Horia Tecau
Captain: Florin Segarceanu

These two nations have an extensive Davis Cup history, having met seven times previously to this tie. Romania has won only one of these match-ups, back in 1974 on in its second of three home ties against France. They last met in the 2003 World Group first round in Bucharest where France won the tie 4-1 with a day to spare.