Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Winners

Juan Monaco Kitzbuhel Champion 2007

Anna Chakvetadze 2007 Bank of the West Winner (US Open Series)

Dmitry Tursunov 2007 Indianapolis Tennis Champion (US Open Series)

Carlos Moya 2007 Umag Champion

Francesca Schiavone 2007 Champion Bad Gastein

Heard Around - Road Trip Edition II

By Savannah

Yeah there was a lot going on this week - Roger Federer has a new teenaged hitting partner - one Mr. Jesse Levine of Boca Raton Florida flew to Dubai to practice with the world number one. And yes he's a lefty. And while he is Jewish there were apparently no issues about his going to Dubai. Jesse spent ten days in the oppressive heat practicing with Roger. Does this mean Jonathan Eysseric is only his clay court go to person?
Jesse Levine Goes To Dubai

Carlos Moya ignored the brouhaha about his new lady love and made it to the Final at Umag.

The younger Mr. Djokovic, Markko, didn't make it out of Qualies but then his famous brother didn't make it past the first round at Umag either.

Japan seems to have a young phenom on their hands as Kei Nishikori made it to the quarters at Indiana.

Gaston Gaudio is playing qualies at Sopot.

Sania Mirza appears to have found her game. And I finally got to see what all the fuss is about regarding Anna Chakvetadze. In her semi at Stanford against Daniela Hantuchova she came back to take the first set from 2-5 down to a tie break which she lost but she won the next two sets in convincing fashion, 6-3 and 6-2.

Jelena Jankovic has not played since Fed Cup. Is this the first vacation she's taken since...well just fill in the blank. She'll be back in San Diego.

Despite doing all the PR and representing tennis in Los Angeles Serena Williams thumb is not any better. The swelling seems to have gone down (see the Beckham party pics) but it's still in a light cast when she's at less formal events.

Venus Williams released pictures of herself training at the UCLA track and then having lunch with a friend. No pics of her holding hands with her boyfriend this week.

The French women put on another chapter of "As The Ball Bounces" this week. The featured players were Maid Marion Bartoli and Tatiana (Barbie) Golovin. The Russian born Tatiana declared herself more French than the French born Marion. This all started when Marion did not play for the French Fed Cup team because she wanted her father to coach her. That was not about to happen and it's been fun fun fun since then. There is no truth to the rumor that a mud wrestling match will be held between the two women to decide things. Sorry guys. By the way neither woman made it to the semis at Stanford.

Vince Spadea sported a leopard print man bag during his matches. Metrosexual was not the word that came to mind upon seeing it.
All of this is fun and interesting as the Road Trip continues but the main question still remains the one asked by a poster on the ESPN tennis board - "What Is Going On With Our Guys?" by fan " ctl alt del". James Blake went down to Radek Stepanek in the Final last week and to up and coming fellow American Sam Querrey this week in the quarters. The biggest blow was not these two losses but Andy Roddick going down to Frank Dancevic of Canada must have driven some folks right over the deep end. Dancevic drove from his home in Niagara Falls at the last minute to play and will now face Dmitry Tursunov in the Final at Indianapolis. The USTA, rumored to be considering using US Open Series play to assign seeds at the US Open must be in total shock at this point. I don't think that in their wildest dreams they saw a Czech player, a Canadian, and a Russian who wanted to play for the United States but was allegedly given no support by the USTA in the running to win the US Open Series. I have the feeling that trial balloon just deflated somewhere over the Pacific.

The Series, instead of showcasing American tennis at it's best has instead exposed it's flaws. Dancevic didn't destroy Roddick as much as simply outplay him. Andy was hitting the ball well, working hard, and doing his thing. It's just that the rest of the players know what his "thing" is and how to get around it. When hit hard and harder doesn't work there is no Plan A, B or C. The problem is when his team gets Andy to try something new, and his opponent predictably fights back Andy goes back to hit hard and harder. One of the commentators mentioned that Andy looked up at his box asking them where Dancevic's play was coming from. I wonder if Andy had already put this in the win column and found out, to his chagrin, that there was a real player with real tennis ability across the net, a man who was simply playing his game and adjusting to what Andy was doing. I know lots of Andy fans. I wonder if their guy can make the changes he needs to in order to stay top five.

As for Blake the player he was before 2005-6 is back. Tentative, mentally weak, and unable to mount a coherent strategy Blake is in danger of falling out of the top ten after making it to Shanghai last year. I never got on the Blake bandwagon when he was doing well. It's already being noted that Blake has not beaten a top ten player this year. Like another famous ball basher the quarters, when he comes upon the higher seeded players, have become his Waterloo. That other ball basher? Well she does make it to the semi's from time to time though.

I know fans of grass and hard court tennis (I can stand the hard courts and appreciate the skill set a player needs to master it) are sick of hearing me say it but until American players learn patience, point construction and strategic, adaptive play we are in trouble for the foreseeable future. We used to produce players like that. Michael Chang, Jim Courier and Andre Agassi come to mind. During the Hantuchova/Chakvetadze match the commentators discussed how Chris Evert changed her serve to keep up with the changing times brought on by Monica Seles. Why have we stopped producing well rounded players? Sam Querrey served up 34 aces, a record, in his match yesterday. To me that personifies what is wrong with the style of tennis Americans are playing today.

Meanwhile the European and some South American players, except for that guy hanging out in Dubai are playing their optionals on their surface of choice, clay. Some veterans gathered ranking points to improve their seeding at the US Open and some new faces made tennisheads sit up and take notice of them. The Big Girls, minus Justine Henin and Amelie Mauresmo, who never play California, will be in San Diego this week. A depleted men's field will be in the heat and humidity of Washington DC.

By the way if you were wondering what some players do to get ready for the summer hard court season here's something to satisfy your curiosity...

So as the new week starts one has to wonder if another chapter of "As The Ball Bounces" will be staged or if it will be all about the tennis, which is, in the end, what it should be about.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Tuesday Tirade

Craig has a tradition on his site of posting a general rant about anything tennis that strikes his fancy on Tuesday's. This week it was more of a Tuesday conversation. It started with us exchanging e-mails and Craig thought it would be a good idea to post our conversation and allow others to join in.

The conversation is about the Tom Perrotta article in the NY Sun which reports that there is talk of seeding the US Open based on US Open series performance that I posted, and ranted about, on Monday of this week.

I hope you all enjoy and that some of your will post your opinions.

The Tuesday Tirade

Monday, July 23, 2007

You Vill Play...

This article appeared in a New York City newspaper not particularly known for it's sports. Last I checked it was one of the freebies we have so many of here.

Note: The Sun is not one of NYC's free newspapers. Thanks to mmmm8 over at TAT for the information.

Written by one Tom Perrotta the article proposes that after Wimbledon the top players be dragooned into playing the U S Open series. How dare Federer take time off? Nadal playing his optional on clay in Stuttgart? And where the hell were Daveydenko and Youzhny not to mention that guy Novak Djokovic? Why aren't they playing in Los Angeles instead of "minor" tournaments in Stuttgart, Umag and Amersfoort? Kitzbuhel? Fuhgeddaboutit. You vill play in the United States or instead of being ranked number three Djokovic you may be ranked number seven come US Open time.

And that is what this little piece is throwing out for tennisheads and players to digest. Since the "Eurotrash" won't come until they feel like it we'll see to it that your seeding in Flushing is in the toilet. The idea is that just like Wimbledon does special seeding (just ask Venus Williams about that special #23 she got this year) the USTA should seed based on performance in the US Open Series. What a wonderful idea no?

No. There has been grousing about the draws at Stanford, the first WTA stop on the Road Trip, and Indianapolis, the second ATP stop after Los Angeles. If you haven't erased the Blake/Stepanek final from your VCR or DVR take a look at the winners names on the wall. One year is missing. That's the year Wayne Ferreira of South Africa won the event. That's the way to entice those furriners to come play your event folks. I wonder what will happen to Radek's name in two years?

But enough about that. Back to the grousing about the draws. The top women's draws in the United States are both surnamed Williams. Venus just played Fed Cup and is doing her bit for WTT and Billie Jean King. Remember Billie Jean King? They named a tennis center in Queens after her. Anyhow Venus needs a break. The swelling in Serena Williams left hand seems to be going down. It's obvious she won't be playing much. As far as the women are concerned the up and coming players are all from - Europe! Are they going to drag Justine Henin across the Atlantic in chains? Will Amelie Mauresmo be kidnapped at sea and thrown into steerage to play at Stanford?

The Road to Roland Garros is full of the top players both male and female. I understand that the US Open series wants to improve the prestige of their events. I'm a fan of the US Open Series and would like to see it grow. I'd also like to see American men and women playing in the dirt in the Spring instead of citing their "schedules" just like the Europeans do at this time of year.

But enough of my ranting. Here is an excerpt from and a link to the article. You make your own decision about the spirit behind the proposal.

The early summer didn't matter as much to American tennis 25 years ago. For the last few years, Arlen Kantarian, the CEO of the USTA, has made this point, backed up by data he totes around in his briefcase, to any reporter who will listen. In the 1980s, according to the USTA, men's tennis had about 20 tournaments in America and 35 in Europe. There are now more events on the tour, yet only 13 in America. The women's tour has gone from 20 events in America and 10 to 15 in Europe, in the 1980s, to 25 in Europe and 11 in America.

The demise of events in Dallas, Boston, Philadelphia, Tampa, and, after this year, San Diego, has put more pressure on the USTA to have a strong summer. Players, of course, don't think too much about this. Federer doesn't need to play a lot of tournaments, or even a lot of tennis: Not too many people take a week off during Wimbledon and still win it. Nadal, who has an outside chance at the no. 1 ranking if he dominates the rest of the season, probably could have won with two injured knees and a broken racket in Stuttgart, where he didn't lose a set.

What purpose does a clay court tournament in July serve a global sport that has a full clay season from April to mid-June? Stuttgart and Umag, Croatia, can keep their tournaments — by no means should we try to upset another tennis economy. One can't blame Nadal or Djokovic for wanting to play these events, either. The point is, players of their caliber shouldn't have that option.

When a tournament contributes so little to the sport as a whole, in terms of marketing and money, the tour shouldn't want a big star to waste his or her time there. Players ranked inside the top 10, at least, shouldn't be allowed. After Wimbledon, the U.S. Open Series should be the next stop, not Stuttgart, Umag, or Sopot, Poland. And this isn't just about favoring America. The same can be said for our tournaments and players in early spring: Andy Roddick and James Blake should not be playing on red clay in Houston when they could be in Europe with the rest of the best during the real clay court season.

Entire Article

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Winning Ain't Easy...

But win they did.

Rafael Nadal 2007 Stuttgart Champion

Agnes Szavay 2007 Palermo Champion

Steve Darcis 2007 Dutch Open Champion

Congratulations Steve on your first ATP tour win and doing it after qualifying for the main draw!

Anna Chakvetadze 2007 Cincinnati Champion

Radek Stepanek 2007 Countrywide Classic Champion

Saturday, July 21, 2007

On The Road Again...

Sania Mirza

The period after a Slam is hard to describe. With the Road to Roland Garros and the Stroll to Wimbledon coming back to back tennisheads, and players need time to catch their collective breath. Not that the tennis ever stops but you look for the stars to take a rest after the physical and mental stress of back to back Slams.

Instead most of the European men are playing in Stuttgart, Germany and Amersfoort, The Netherlands. Both tournaments had good fields and the quality of play has been high. Of course the American commentators are whining about why the European stars are back on terre battue when they should be in the States participating in the US Open Series. I guess it never occurred to them that their argument for not coming over earlier in the spring clay court season works both ways. After this series of tournaments –Umag and Kitzbuhel next week featuring almost everyone who didn’t play this week – and Novak Djokovic’s younger brother Markko getting a wild card into the Qualifying draw at Umag – most of the European men will show up for Canada and Cincinnati, another example of the crack minds behind tournament scheduling at work. I would resist the urge to call them crack heads but why pass up the chance?

While Stuttgart seems to be proceeding as expected except for a great run by Feliciano Lopez who did new coach Albert Costa proud, Amersfoort has provided a surprise in the person of one Steve Darcis from Belgium. Mr. Darcis finds himself in the semi finals against Mikhail Youzhny leaving a trail of upsets in his wake. The only online information about Steve Darcis is from a Davis Cup appearance he made in 2005.

The other semifinal found Werner Eschauer of Austria playing against Robin Haase. Escahuer sent Carlos Moya back to Mallorca in what has to be termed a mild upset. As I write this Eschauer has moved into the final after Haase lost his second match of the day to him after winning the first against Florent Serra. Eschauer/Darcis final? If you saw this coming you’re long overdue for your toll free number, turban, and fake Jamaican accent.

Meanwhile the self proclaimed greatest road trip ever is underway in the United States. The women, Fed Cup drama over – well almost – Maria Sharapova was not invited to play the Fed Cup Final by Shamil Tarpishev who is going to the big dance with the women who got him there (unless Svetlana Kuznetsova is available) – are playing in Cincinnati and Palermo.

You might not know about Palermo. There was no scoreboard, no pictures – one tennishead went online and found pictures of the semi finalists so that we could know what they looked like – nothing but results posted on fan message boards. I ended up calling Palermo the stealth tournament. For your information the semi finals feature Karin Knapp vs. Martina Müller and Sara Errani vs. Agnes Szavay

Cincinnati has turned out to be a very interesting tournament. History was made – Anastasia Rodionova was disqualified for hitting a ball at fans who were heckling her making her only the second player ever to achieve this, the first being Irina Spirlea a few years ago.

Akiko Morigami

But the real history is the showing Asian tennis has made this week in both the ATP and the WTA. Akiko Morigami, who almost took Venus Williams down at SW19 managed to take out Patty Schnyder here. And the most famous woman ranked 141 in the world, Akgul Amanmuradova from Uzbekistan has made her way to the semifinals. For more on Akgul please go


Amanmuradova plays Morigami today in the first semi final. The second semi features Anna Chakvetadze vs Sania Mirza. Chakvetadze,who after losing the first set to Elena Vesnina of Fed Cup fame proceeded to pound Elena into the pavement for the next set and a half is in the semi due to Elena retiring in the third set. Sania Mirza has been on her own personal search and destroy mission here. Her left quadricep was taped yesterday but that didn’t seem to faze Sania. This should be as interesting a match as Agkul vs Akiko.

The ATP is on display in Los Angeles at the Countrywide Classic. Fernando Gonzalez of Chile crashed and burned in the first round which left the field wide open. Fans were salivating at the possibility of a Marat Safin vs James Blake semi final but Hyung-Taik Lee of Korea decided he wanted to make the semi. Marat was up 4-2 in the third set. He lost 6-4. I’m sure there was a line to provide aid and succor to the popular Russian. Meanwhile James Blake blew Vince Spadea off the court bringing their head to head to 6-2 in Spadea’s favor. Go figure. In the other semi Nicolas Kiefer will play Radek Stepanek.

Hyung-Taik Lee

I’m sure Blake’s fans will crucify me here but I still think Blake has one of the ugliest games I’ve ever seen. He looks to be trying to add some finesse but it’s still hit hard and harder tennis aka mindless ball bashing. It’s even uglier in person as I found out at last years US Open where I saw him play twice including against Roger Federer. Whatever. There will be live tennis on television here in the States and I’ll be watching.

I usually don’t go through all of this recapping but I did it because I was surprised that one tennis blogger decided there was no tennis worth reporting on this week. It could be because he was going on vacation with his family and didn’t want anyone stealing his readers but say I’ll be on vacation and here’s who is playing where and enjoy the tennis until I get back. Why get into the Europe vs United States clay vs hard courts argument for no reason.

By the way for a history of how hard courts became the court surface of choice in the United States please read this article: Why Hardcourts?

Fascinating read for some of the social and political reasons behind the United States choice of it's signifying surface and became of the home of Hit Hard and Harder tennis. Thank you Craig for the link.

I am a fan of the US Open Series and will try and provide as much information as possible. Craig usually posts the links to the websites and posts scores on his blog. Just follow the

Oh, and if PMac and Cliffy get to be too much for you there is the mute button.

You didn't think I'd end this on such a high note did you? I love wading in the shallow end of the pool as those of you who know me know very well.
"Jane" magazine did a series of nude photographs of celebrities for charity. I have no idea which charity but for people to get naked it has to be a good one right? Among those posing nude was none other than Serena Williams. For the purient among you here is the link. Off The Baseline, thank you for this public service!

Serena's Pics

Then there was the unveiling of the new Justine Henin. Not to be outdone by any old nude pics Justine was to be found in Armani and hair extensions flaunting her stuff. She's out and about guys. Don't trample yourselves to get to her.

Justine Unplugged

Any resemblance to Celine Dion is hopefully accidental.

In other tennis news Lleyton Hewitt announced that he will be working with Tony Roche. This announcement came during the same week that Marat Safin and David Nalbandian both took on new coaches.

To end on a cautionary note. Jennifer Capriati, admittedly never a favorite of mine, has spoken publicly about her battle with depression. This is something she did not have to do and in my very humble opinion is something that parents of children with any kind of gift should read. A child should not be the primary bread winner for a family. A child who only wants to please his or her parents should not be put into a pressure cooker and fed hype to the exclusion of everything else life has to offer. I wish Jennifer nothing but the best and hope she gets the help she needs.

A Cautionary Tale

Sunday, July 15, 2007


It's over.
Congratulations to all the women who sacrificed their time to play for their country. For those who succeeded there is joy. For those who lost there are wounds to lick and strategies to plan.
History was made along the way. Everyone knows there is run of the mill drama and then there is DRAMA. Some of the teams had the standard run of the mill variety while others seemed to raise the drama level to a new level

Israel now moves into the World Group for 2008 thanks in no small part to singles play by Shahar Peer. Even as their achievement is celebrated the question of where the ties will be played is one of the things that has to be taken into account.

The Italian and French Teams managed to keep their drama on the tennis court. There was some drama from the French team about why Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli was not on the team but that was the only pre rubber drama from the French.
The Italians however came to take names, and take names they did.
Francesca Schiavone who has had a disappointing year playing singles was the heroine today winning not only in singles but in doubles. In singles she beat a tough Tatiana Golovin of France after Amelie Mauresmo of France redeemed herself by winning her singles match. Not one to rest on her laurels Francesca then won a doubles match with Roberta Vinci.

Then there was the Serbian team. Beset by injury to Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic finally showing signs that even her formidable batteries need to be recharged the team that looked destined to move up lost to Slovakia led by Daniela Hantuchova. When one Serbian player fainted going on court some Serbian fans stage whispered if something other worldly had been done to the Serbian team. Slovakia won the tie 4-1.

The Peoples Republic of China meanwhile made it into the World Group, something the Chinese tennis authorities should be very happy about. Tian Tian Sun shouldered the load for the P.R. of China leading her team to a 4-1 rout of Belgium. With
Kim Clijsters retirement and Justine Henin not playing despite their best efforts the Belgian women fell to the Chinese. Does it mean anything that this was done without the most recognized of the Chinese women, Na Li? Who knows right now. Maybe this tie had the least amount of drama.

Both Germany and Spain won their ties by scores of 3-2 and 4-1 respectively. Spain stays in the World Group. Germany will be there as well.

The results for the rest of the World Group II playoff teams are as follows:

Australia v Ukraine 1 - 4
Argentina v Canada 4 - 1
Croatia v Chinese Taipei 3 - 2
(Slovakia vs Serbia is detailed above)

World Group Playoff Results

Austria v Israel 1 - 4
Belgium v China, P.R. 1 - 4
Japan v Germany 2 - 3
Spain v Czech Republic 4 - 1

The major drama took place in the bucolic setting of Stowe, Vermont where the United States was to play Russia for a berth in the Finals.

The drama started when it became public that Shamil Tarpishev, legendary Russian coach had not been issued a visa. This came hard on the heels of Maria Sharapova confirming that she would not play for Russia due to a persistent shoulder injury. Svetlana Kuznetsova, after medical tests, was forced to withdraw. If Tarpishev made it to the States he'd have a patchwork team that would need his closest attention. Of course there were those whispers that Russia would forfeit if Tarpishev wasn't able to get his visa.
On top of this the Russian Tennis Federation was busy ripping Maria Sharapova a new one saying that her American handlers didn't want her to play for Russia and that all she wanted was to be able to play for Russia in the 2008 Olympics. After that Maria made a statement to the effect that
she wanted nothing more than to beat the Americans on their home soil. As you would suspect that only added fuel to the fire. Needless to say Mr. Tarpishev flew into the United States at the last minute and was greeted by his jubilant Fed Cup team.

Not to be left out the United States had it's share of drama. Meilen Tu complained that the Fed Cup people never once contacted her to see if she wanted to play. When to no one's surprise Serena Williams withdrew with injury Meilen got her chance. It would also come as no surprise that all eyes then turned to Venus Williams who was in Stowe after her Wimbledon triumph. Venus won what I'll just say was a thrilling three setter over Nadia Petrova of Russia and another match over Russian Anna Chakevetadze. Unfortunately Meilen didn't win a rubber and neither did Vania King. Tied at two all it came down to the doubles and Venus took the court with Lisa Raymond. Doubles is all about communication and trust between partners. It also helps if both parties are relatively fresh. Russia edge the United States by 3-2.

Italy will play Russia for the Fed Cup in Russia on September 15. There is already talk about whether Sharapova will be on the team or if the four women who got their country to the big dance, Nadia Petrova, Anna Chakvetadze, Elena Vesnina and Alla Kudryavtseva will be allowed to finish what they started.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Let's Hear It For the Girls!

It's Fed Cup Weekend!

Whether Playing in the World Group Semi Finals or the World Group or World Group II playoffs the women take center stage this weekend.

Best wishes to all the women playing this weekend all over the world. This tribute doesn't include every team but I tried to get as many of the ladies team pictures in as possible.

All pictures courtesy of Official Fed Cup Site except for the picture of Team Russia

Team United States

Team Russia

Team Austria

Team Israel

Team Spain

The Czech Team

Not a team picture but a great shot - Sabine Appelmans(Belgium) and her two sons

Team China

The Belgian Team

Team Italy

Team France

Team Japan

Team Germany

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Althea Gibson - Celebrating 50 Years

Everytime you looked up during the Championships Wimbledon you saw Arthur Ashe holding up his Wimbledon Trophy. This was a good thing. What you didn't see was any tribute to Althea Gibson on the 50th Anniversary of her Wimbledon win.

Ms Gibson was as big a sports pioneer as Jackie Robinson or any of the other "first ever of their race" in sports yet you hear very little about her.

Craig, in his Tuesday Tirade, addresses this by printing an article by Jemelle Hill from ESPN Insider, a subscription only service of ESPN.

Althea Gibson
Born: 25-Aug-1927
Birthplace: Silver, SC
Died: 28-Sep-2003
Location of death: East Orange General Hospital, East Orange, NJ
Cause of death: Respiratory failure
Remains: Buried, Rosedale Cemetery, Orange, NJ

Althea Gibson-A Tribute

Read, and ponder.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Wimbledon- Some Final Thoughts

It’s over. The Grand Slam considered the most prestigious and hallowed of them all has crowned it’s 2007 King and Queen. Tonight Roger Federer will dance with Venus Williams at the post event ball along with all the men and women, boys and girls who are part of their court.

After all the controversy about schedules and the weather I’m sure the AELTC will congratulate itself for staging both the Women’s and Men’s finals on their appointed days. Already you hear the glossing over of the protests from both players and fans as they hype machine goes into overdrive to convince the critics of this years event that their protests were just tempests in a teapot, that in the end the tradition was upheld and all is right with the world.

So what is this bad taste in my mouth? Why do I feel that the real winner of this years Wimbledon Men’s final says he’s on his way to Stuttgart for a clay court event while, dare I say it, the preordained winner will dance and drink champagne tonight? I say preordained for a reason. Even the most faithful apologists for the random draw admit that Rafael Nadal came into this final despite all the pitfalls and snares laid in his way. Due to the weather, which of course is an act of the Deity and therefore unable to be changed, Rafa played a total of seven days straight. He had to start and stop several times before putting away his third round opponent. Was there rest in between? No. To his credit he walked onto Centre Court seemingly ready to take the championship that has so far eluded him. Last year he was obviously not ready despite making the Final. This year he was ready and match tough.

But not even an athlete of Rafa’s abilities can withstand back to back to back to back to back to back to back play. The human body needs to rest. With the build up of toxins in his body the mind may have been willing but the flesh had become weak. An old injury flared up, patella tendonitis, and while in his post match interview he says that he had his chances but failed the bitter disappointment showed on his face. Would one day of rest, playing the Final on Monday, have made a difference? That’s a moot point now isn’t it?

I said in an earlier post that the winner of this Wimbledon will have an asterisk next to his name. I didn’t mean the one about five straight. I mean the one where an exception should be noted about the how of the win. So many have said that Roger is a great ambassador for the sport of tennis. He does wonderful charitable work in his mother’s native South Africa. I don’t begrudge him that part of his life. But then he made the following statement:

Q. What do you make of the level of criticism that the club has taken from some other players about scheduling, not playing Sunday?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, you know, I hear a lot about it. I read it.

I don't think it's really the right way to go after the tournament. You know, I mean, it rains a lot here sometimes, so we do have that problem. But Wimbledon is doing so many great things next to it.

They've risen prize money. They're building a new roof over Centre Court. They built the millennium building in 2000. Then we're not upset when they do those things.

When it rains once, we have a scheduling problem, I don't think we should start going after the club right away. I disagree with the players, what they said.

Federer Post Match Interview

If he, like Richard Gasquet, his semi final opponent, had played a five set match and then been set to play at noon the next day I wonder if he would’ve been singing the same song.

My criticism is not only aimed at Roger Federer and the AELTC. The women had similar, if sometimes more subtle, problems on their side.

The last person many people wanted to see on Centre Court on Saturday was anyone with the surname of Williams. That there was a chance that both of those women could appear on that sacred grass was something to be prevented at all costs. Richard Williams had already predicted that his daughter Venus would win the Ladie’s Championship. Fool they called him behind his back.

Meanwhile Serena Williams seemed to be blazing her own path to Championship Saturday until she was felled by injury. Forget the images showing the muscle of her calf in a knot. That she managed to get up and not only finish but win her match against her Slovakian opponent put her on the front pages of sports sections around the country. But Daniela Hantuchova, her opponent, said during her presser after the match that in her eyes nothing was wrong in the third set, that Serena was moving fine in her opinion. The next time she’s scheduled to play Serena comes on court with a heavily bandaged calf, one tightly bandaged ankle, and a wrist taped almost motionless. Yet some, picking up on Hantuchova’s jealous words, said she was play acting. That she lost to Justine Henin by one break of serve in the third set made the haters more upset it seems. All of a sudden there were stage whispers about her not being injured at all. Richard said it was a slight tear and that his daughter should go home or at least not play but what does that old man know they implied. Yes they played the video of her falling over and over and I for one didn’t mind them doing so. The whispers had gotten so loud visual evidence had to be supplied to show that there were obviously other issues and agenda's behind their talk.

The woman across the net from Venus on Saturday, Marion Bartoli, deserves a little bit of a shout out. Her father, a doctor, has not trained her in the way France or any traditional tennis academies do. Mary Carillo jokingly recounted some of his training techniques making her peers laugh. But Maid Marion as she has been called for over a year on TAT delivered a beat down to Justine Henin and walked onto Centre Court carrying a bouquet along with Venus Williams. Neither woman is a media darling and while there had always been the outside chance that Venus would make it Marion, the “big girl” with the heart of a lioness was definitely never seen as being a Wimbledon finalist. Venus survived the jinx court twice, low seeding, and back to back to back play in order to walk onto Centre Court with Marion. All of the Williams family was there to support Venus. Dr. Walter Bartoli sat alone, his wife at home too nervous to watch her daughter play.

When it was over the most touching event of the tournament took place. Richard Williams and Walter Bartoli exchanged high fives and talked for a few minutes after exchanging a hug. Then Dr. Bartoli broke down in tears finally letting all the pressure and emotion out. His consoler was Richard Williams. How ironic that these two men who have bucked the system in their respective countries should share that moment.

That is the lasting memory I take from this tournament. The sportsmanship shown between Marion and Venus during and after the awards presentation is what sport is all about. Of course Marion was disappointed. She’s an athlete and she plays to win not come in second. Rafa in his post Final press conference refused to be suckered into bitterness and rancor by the reporters. He said he will be fine.

And so will tennis. The Hard Road to New York as Kirkus
of Talk About Tennis has named it - The US Open Series as it is officially called has begun. There are serious questions for American tennis that need to be aired and discussed openly and that won't be solved by trying to stack the deck against the European players who dominate at this time. Does Andy Roddick have another slam in him or has his time passed? After Venus and Serena retire who will carry the torch for American women in the WTA?
Is it time to review the basic premise of American tennis - hit it hard and if that doesn't work hit it harder - and find a solution that allows for many different approaches that will allow our young up and comers a chance to compete on the international stage? Is it also time to stop undermining our best players because they don't fit a particular mold?

I said the issues need to be aired, not solved over the remaining months of this year. I'm an outsider, a fan of over twenty years, looking in at this sport I love. Do I have all the answers? Not by any means. As I said I'm on the outside looking in.

But when the behind the scenes machinations get so bad the victims of it start to publicly protest something is very rotten in Denmark as the Bard once wrote. Yes Wimbledon is over. But the issues raised over this fort night will not be swept under the rug.

The Winners

Roger Federer Wimbledon Mens Champion 2007

Michael LLodra and Arnaud Clement - Wimbledon Men's Doubles Champions 2007

Urszula Radwanska - Wimbledon Girls Champion 2007

Donald Young - Wimbledon Boys Champion 2007

Liezel Huber and Cara Black - Wimbledon Women's Doubles Champions 2007

Jamie Murray and Jelena Jankovic - Wimbledon Mixed Doubles Champions 2007

Saturday, July 7, 2007

All Hail the Queen!

And the best woman on grass for winning her fourth Wimbledon Championship. They put her on the jinx court not once but twice. She was seeded number 23 here and had to fight her way through a pretty tough draw.

And yet on Saturday, July 7, 2007 Venus Williams hoists the Venus Rosewater Tray as the 2007 Ladies Wimbledon Champion just as her father said she would. As the last American standing all eyes were on her and she came through playing the dominating, clear headed tennis her fans know she is capable of.

Congratulations Venus Williams, Wimbledon Champion.

Friday, July 6, 2007

The Ladies Finalists

Both have fathers who are called nut jobs. Both have fought their way through tough draws and lousy courts to arrive at the point all their peers hoped to be.
Venus achieved her final position by beating Ana Ivanovic in straight sets.
Marion Bartoli was overlooked by all the pundits even after taking out the number three seed Jelena Jankovic, no slouch. Her father's training techniques drew snickers from the cognoscenti. I'll always remember his somewhat stunned expression as it sunk in that he and his daughter had actually reached tennis Holy Grail.
Richard is finally being given credit for being the coach and tennis mind that he is. How fitting that these two women and not one of the media darlings will play for the Championship.

Who will win? I think experience points to Venus but she can't take Marion lightly. Her will and groundstrokes are both strong.

May the best woman win.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

I Am Just Sick and Tired of It

Maybe it's the rain delays. Haruka has joined in the general ranting about the 2007 Championships Wimbledon.


If I was a player on the tour I would throw everything I had including the kitchen sink at that man. Because of Tommy Haas injury, he had to pull out and Federer got a five day break. FIVE DAYS!! And then what did that pompous man do?

He stayed in his hotel.

Does the above seem a bit...well empty? Well yes it did. And why? Because out of the FIVE days FOUR of them he didn't hit a court. He didn't practice once. Why is no one else having a connipition? If I was a player and I heard of that, I would explode. Why? In a sport that relies heavily on how much you practice, this man takes four days off, shows what he thinks of you all. That is how lightly he thinks of you; that he can be stiff, out of practice, and not in his top form and he can mow you down in three sets.

Tennis Seen

Hi! It's Me, MV

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Thank you all for showing concern as to why I haven’t been doing my blog. Hello? If you haven’t noticed my Captain has been busy and I, as his partner, get to share in the wild and wonderful life he lives. I mean come on ladies wouldn’t you like to be flown all over the world by private jet, have bespoke clothing made for you free of charge, and get to sit next to all kinds of wonderful people who come to pay obeisance to the greatness of your man? Admit it. You would. So excuse me if I’ve been a tad busy making sure everything and anything that will disturb my Captain’s existence is kept away including fuddy dud coaches who actually think my Captain needs their fossilized wisdom in order to compete at the top level of his chosen field. Now that that nuisance is out of the way my Captain need only tap the vast storehouse of knowledge that is his brain in order to continue his ascent to GOAT status.

That said I have, late at night while my Captain sleeps I do sometimes go on line and see just what his minions, uh, fans, are saying about him. The haters, those envious of his greatness are like evil, legion, and we who see his glory must be on constant alert to make sure their thoughts are crushed like the bugs they are. Anyone who does not see the greatness of my Captain is obviously, well, jealous and unable to stare directly at his brilliance.

I have to say I am shocked at the snarking about his man purse. Let’s not forget that it is part of the special clothing that was provided to him and celebrates his achievements at the All England Lawn and Tennis Club. The NBC network showed the bag up close so that you haters can see just what a testimony to him it is. The little Swiss flags with the consecutive years is just too subtle for some. He also has the same flags on his sneakers.

To you people who think he carries some small animal or my lunch inside I say go take a long walk off a short pier. I also saw some references to the proper attire for carrying a man bag of that size. Again, go take that walk.

I guess this is the place where I should mention that unfortunately HFPY and I have had a falling out. Yes, it was in relation to the bag my Captain was given. He wanted my Captain to wear a sailor hat with the initials “RF” embroidered in gold. He also wanted a little crown emblem added to the hat. The crown comes next year. He was making noise about getting next to that young French woman who seems to be as beauty challenged as the Piranha. I mean that hair looks like something a twelve year old raised in a cave, or a hold over from the sixties would sport. And we won’t mention her weight will we? No, I didn’t think so. He wants to take her on as a project but he has trouble visualizing her as a twelve year old boy.

There has also been some controversy about the long layoff between matches for my Captain. What’s there to argue about? He doesn’t make the schedule. If his fellow club members listened to his voice of reason and decided to stick to tradition about Middle Sunday why should there be controversy? Wimbledon is all about tradition and my Captain believes that the old ways should be upheld. So what if most people today are godless heathens who would rather drink and carouse all night Saturday and sleep it off on Sunday? Should the Club be held hostage to that sort of person? I say no. You should also know that my Captain sent flowers to Tommy along with his best wishes. He hopes that Tommy takes all the time in the world to recover. Those types of injuries only get worse if you come back too soon.

Before I leave I must also address those rumors about my Captain and I. Yes, I’m wearing a wonderful solitaire. Canary of course and a tastefully large number of carats…ahem. But we both believe our private life is just that, private. I will not discuss it any further except to say it is gorgeous isn't it?

Oh my goodness I almost forgot! I hope you all like the picture I started this post off with. It was taken by one of our most loyal subjects, uh, fans. I am so sick and tired of all the debate about famous asses that leave my captain out. I am so sick of hearing about that American Brat and his ass and I don’t even want to talk about The Boy and his self proclaimed famous ass. I’m sure all of my Captain’s fans recognize the beauty and subtlety of his derriere as shown above. It does what it’s supposed to do and completes the beauty of his form. So people, listen up. When this debate breaks out again please make sure to include the above picture and praise it to the heavens for it’s sublime beauty and merging of form and function okay?

I must leave now since it seems to have begun to rain and our, I mean his match is rescheduled after The Boy’s tomorrow. I had been assured that there was absolutely no chance of rainfall going forward. I have to call that granny and find out if she’s forgetting things again. She’s been derelict in her duties of late and I for one am not amused.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


It seems this is the week for rants. I had anticipated writing breathless reports of the goings on during this most sacred of all tennis tournaments and discussing the play on the surface some see as the only legitimate on on which to play tennis.

But noooo. I'm writing rants. Instead of posting pictures of a player making a fabulous shot I'm posting pics of fans sitting alone in the rain praying that some god, somewhere will hear and that the rain will simply go away.

There are two things affecting the Euro Slams as someone somewhere called them. Lack of lights for night time play and, because they're played on natural surfaces, being beholden to the weather. I do hope the folks in charge at the AELTC are installing lights to go with their new roof. They are aren't they?

When I first started this blog one of the first things I wrote about was the workings of the British class system in tennis and how it has affected Britain's status. This week, in front of the whole world, well that part of it addicted to tennis anyway, what is wrong with British tennis has been on full view.

To say this has been a debacle is putting it mildly. About Wednesday of last week when the forecast made it look as if that guy in the harbor building that large boat, and the mother duck were on to something the question arose about play on Middle Sunday.

What can you say about people who, when faced with a weather forecast that showed rain, rain and more rain after Sunday hold to tradition and say "WE don't play tennis on Middle Sunday." This harks back to the time when on Sunday's people went to church and then gathered for large family dinners. Sound like anyone you know? I didn't think so.

As if that wasn't bad enough they then proceeded to schedule women's matches - best of three mind you- ahead of men's round three matches even as the top half of the men's draw started fourth round play.

I should warn you that I grew up in the sixties so I see conspiracies under every rock but you have to ask are they stupid or is there a method to the madness? If the already proclaimed GOAT wins this will he have to deal with the asides saying that he didn't win fair and square since his opponent, whoever he is, has had to play five matches in four days? Just as there are people who say Serena was faking in the third set the hype machine will go into full gear. No way he could control the weather they'll say. Luck of the draw they'll say.

Some fans are already talking about the 2003 US Open and it's lingering effect on men's tennis. Andy Roddick's win has never been seen as legit by some fans since his opponent staggered into the final playing back to back to back while Andy had had some days off in between. From where I sit it looks like the same scenario is going to be reenacted at SW19.

One of the talking heads, not sure if was on ESPN or NBC, mentioned in passing that plans are underway for the men's final to be held on Monday. A friend of a friend who knows someone's uncle's cousin twice removed says they're thinking to be finished by Tuesday. Uh-huh.

The current situation is only a surprise for the members of the AELTC. Most of us check if planning a major event or if we're just going to hang with friends. I guess the internet is too new fangled for that lot.

I do think they've heard of the BBC. Their weather page makes it simple for those who are still analog in a digital world. They put up a graphic showing rain, sun, clouds, etc. Here's the graphic for tomorrow and Thursday.

BBC Weather Graphic

Tuesday final looks just about right.

As I write this it looks as if play is over for today. You have a men's match that has now lasted four days. Maybe this is part of the vaunted Wimbledon tradition, I don't know.

I do know that whoever wins this, at least on the men's side, should have an asterisk next to his name for all time.