Sunday, October 28, 2007
Mike(L) and Bob Bryan Doubles Champions Basel 2007
The first team to score 10 titles in one year since '96. Congratulations!
Daniela Hantuchova Champion Linz 2007
Andy Murray Champion St Petersburg 2007
Sebastian Grosjean Champion Lyon 2007
Roger Federer Champion Basel 2007
Doubles Champions Linz 2007
Cara Black and Liezel Huber
As the eight women who will play in the YEC at Madrid are being finalized the women’s Main Tour came down to the event at Linz, Austria. The year that had begun so promising for some ended with a fizzle, and questions about what the new season will bring. More on that in a later post.
Updated Race List: 10/28/2007
1 HENIN, JUSTINE BEL 4975.00
2 JANKOVIC, JELENA SRB 4096.00
3 KUZNETSOVA, SVETLANA RUS 3581.00
4 IVANOVIC, ANA SRB 3162.00
5 WILLIAMS, SERENA USA 2767.00
6 CHAKVETADZE, ANNA RUS 2628.00
--WILLIAMS, VENUS USA 2470.00 (Withdrawn!)
7 HANTUCHOVA, DANIELA SVK 2431.00
8 SHARAPOVA, MARIA RUS 2431.00
9 BARTOLI, MARION FRA 2224.00
10 DEMENTIEVA, ELENA RUS 2023.00
11 VAIDISOVA, NICOLE CZE 1886.00 (Quebec R1 +1) 140=2026
Hantuchova needs one more win to make the cut. I’m typing this on Sunday morning and she has already won Linz, her first Main Tour win outside of Indian Wells.With Venus withdrawal both
Maria Sharapova and Daniela are in.
There will be no controversy about who will be the WTA Player of the Year. After a difficult personal start to the year Justine Henin has pushed herself to the top of the heap. Like her or not, question her tactics or not she is the top player and got there by beating the best the WTA has to offer.
Despite injuries both Venus Williams and Serena Williams have made the YEC, something no one predicted without an asterisk next to their names.
Breaking news is that Venus has withdrawn but if she is not fit to play – that image of her holding her groin area in Thailand stays with me – then this is the best thing to do.
Ana Ivanovic has played well but has shown nerves when on the big stage. Anna Chakvetadze has been in a free fall since she qualified for the YEC. This young woman was my biggest surprise this year. Many tennisheads were raving about her last year but I couldn’t see it. I do now which is why it was so disappointing that she didn’t do well during the post US Open season. I hope she comes into Madrid rested and ready to show why she is there.
I know many fans are surprised that Maria Sharapova managed to win only one event this year, and that it wasn’t a Grand Slam. On again off again shoulder woes are said to be the problem. I will state up front that I am no fan of Maria but I did expect her to manage at least one Slam. It will be interesting to see what happens next year.
Svetlana Kuznetsova surprises by being in the top three. She was number two for awhile. Her play this year did not get her there. She played a lot and went deep in some events. I did see one match where she played brilliant tennis. One. She has it in her. Not sure if she thinks she does.
Jelena Jankovic of course played more than anyone else this year hence her number two ranking. She seemed to have conquered her demons and played good tennis. That was until she had a meltdown against Lindsay Davenport in Bali that rivaled the one she had against Henin at the 2006 US Open. Like Serena Jelena hates to practice. Memo to Jelena. You need to get over it. Practice. Those jokes about you playing a $10k in Nigeria on your off days during an event are getting stale.
Other WTA News
Maria Sharapova is pitching a show to an American network about – well if you have to ask you really don’t know do you? Okay, tennis. The writers of some of the biggest hits on television have been recruited to work on this series which is not bound for a major US network, CBS, NBC or ABC or one of the big cable outlets like HBO or Showtime. This is being pitched to the CW network, a smaller outfit that seems to have as it’s target audience 18-20 something young women. I’m of the opinion anything that presents tennis in a good light is welcome. I’m sure the image meisters at IMG and the CW feel they’ll lock up their target demographic with Maria “I Feel Pretty” Sharapova’s involvement. So far she’s not supposed to appear in the show but “consult” for it.
Just my very humble opinion but if your aim is to have a tennis star, a female tennis star, consult for your show then why pick a Russian national? I do remember a few very good female players residing in the United States. Chris Evert is still alive and breathing last I checked. So is naturalized American Martina Navratilova. Zina Garrison anyone? Our Fed Cup captain? Chrissie may be in the cougar category age wise but she was on the tour from a young age. Why do we need a Russian citizen to tell an American audience of any demographic what it’s like for women on the tour? I know, Maria is considered American by her Russian peers but she still makes noise about playing Fed Cup for Mother Russia. I’ll get off my soapbox now.
The semi annual Jelena Dokic is back in Australia bulletins have been posted. So much potential seemingly going to waste.
Alexandra Stevenson and Angela Haynes both played qualies for the Bell Challenger in Quebec City. Both women went out in the first round. Unheralded Racquel Kops-Jones along with Abigail Spears and Mary Gambale made the second round of qualifying playing for the United States.
What a strange, strange week this was. There were three events for the men with the Paris Bercy Masters event starting on Sunday. To their credit the level of tennis was pretty good despite some guys obviously deciding that it was time to hit the road to Paris from Lyon, Basel or St Petersburg and bowing out of their events gracefully.
There was that incident in St Petersburg that got a lot of attention though. You know, the one where Nikolay Davydenko was given a code violation and then fined by the ATP for being a slacker and not putting out enough effort during his match against Marin Cilic who turned around and lost to
Fernando Verdasco. Davy won the first set easily then seemed to forget what to do on a tennis court in losing the second set. After the chair ump, a new guy from Belgium, asked him if he needed medical attention and then said Davy was tanking the third set an obviously upset Davydenko lost the third set 6-1. It’s easy to dog Nikolay out for what happened in Poland but when this match was over he cried. We fans love to think we know everything about the men, and women who play tennis. We never can and we don’t. We are looking on from afar and assuming what pressures or lack thereof they play with. Last I checked there were two men playing that match, not one. I think we all need to back off and let the ATP come up with a good story – sorry I mean finish its investigation.
Guillermo Coria attempted a return at a Challenger event in Brazil. It hurts to see someone want to play so badly and be unable to do so.
The top half of the Bercy draw looks like murderers row to some fans. They’re saying the bottom half is a cake walk. I don’t think so. Guys like Wawrinka have been playing very well of late. The Bercy organizers have offered beaucoup bucks for the top dogs to show up. Let’s see if there are any last minute withdrawals.
Andy Roddick got mucho static for withdrawing from Bercy for no apparent reason other than that he didn’t want to play. No injury report (serious tennis fans know a lot of these are fake but humor us dude. Knee? Ankle? Groin? Mal de tete? Don’t just give us the “because I can” excuse.
The ATP has launched a new ad campaign called “Feel It”. I felt it. The doctor prescribed Maalox.
By the way that is Roger's back. This is the car he had at his disposal this week.
Two positions remain open. This is how it looks so far.
1. Federer, Roger SUI
2. Nadal, Rafael ESP
3. Djokovic, Novak SRB
4. Davydenko, Nikolay RUS
5. Roddick, Andy USA
1. Bryan, Bob/Bryan, Mike USA
2. Knowles, Mark BAH/Nestor, Daniel CAN
3. Paul Hanley AUS/Kevin Ullyett ZIM
(WC) Simon Aspelin SWE/Julian Knowle AUT
As mentioned above Andy Roddick has pulled out of Bercy which means he will be coming into Shanghai cold. Unless he plans to withdraw. He does have the yeoman’s task of probably having to win all of his Davis Cup singles matches for the US to win. We’ll see.
Pictures of the Week
Ernests Gulbis during his match agains Nico Massu at St Petersburg
Guillermo Coria after retiring from his match at Belo Horizonte in Brazil
Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi at their exo 10/27/2007 in Mannheim Germany
Goran Ivanesivic, Justine Henin, Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi at the same exho
Rafael Nadal and Sergio Garcia of Spain at the Pro-Am round of the Mallorca Classic golf tournament in Son Servera October 24, 2007.
From the ATP Feel It Campaign
Sunday, October 21, 2007
I used to say pretty much whatever I wanted when I wanted on tennis boards. What did it matter? I was hiding behind a screen name so no wild eyed fan of a particular player was going to show up at my door and try to bash my head in with a Babolat racquet or send hate mail. I was anonymous.
When I started blogging my attitude changed somewhat. Not that I use my real name but I look at what I do here as a form of journalism. I report to no one but myself but I do feel that a reader coming to these posts should find an objective discussion on the sport of tennis. I have opinions and I state them but I try not to call players low life bottom feeding point whores and try to put their decisions about where and when they play in perspective so that when I discuss how they play no one can say she's ripping Player A a new one because she hates his/her guts. I have one player that I reach fangirl levels on and I'm upfront with that. It's why I tend to do reviews of WTA events and rankings since I my objectivity can fly right out of the window.
So it was with interest and then surprise that I read about an Open Letter to Marat Safin written by James Martin, editor in chief of Tennis magazine. As most tennis heads know Chris Evert wrote an Open Letter to Serena Williams asking her to cut the crap and play tennis. I remember thinking that Chris, as a former player, a former champion, had every right to address what she sees as Serena's short comings. Whether she should have done it so publicly is another matter. Billie Jean King talks to both Venus and Serena all the time but I haven't seen any Billie Jean King Open letters gracing tennis magazines.
The issues I have with Mr. Martin's letter are that one, he is the editor of a widely read tennis magazine and two, he got personal. When you drag someone's mother into your argument comparing her to the old Soviet political regime I think you've stepped over the line.
The letter has not had the publicity that Chris's Open Letter got and you have to wonder why when Mr. Martin states the following:
What's with the ’tude, dude? You’re like a teenager who’s way too self-absorbed for his own good. When you were recently asked about the gambling investigation in men’s tennis, which strikes at the very core of the sport’s integrity and deserves an informed response from all of the top players, your response was weaker than an Elena Dementieva second serve. “To be honest,” you said, “I don’t really care. Whatever people do and whatever they want to do, I don’t care. If the world collapses, I don’t really care. I have enough problems myself. I can’t worry about other people’s problems.”
...it shows a lack of respect for the sport that made you a millionaire in the first place. Even John McEnroe, Mr. Ego himself, cares (or at least pretends to care) about tennis.
Look, Marat, I know you’re hard on yourself—self-criticism is in your blood, ingrained over many formative childhood years by your mother and the severe Soviet system. Positive reinforcement? It didn’t exist in your universe. You’ve even said, “I didn’t care to play tennis, didn’t really like it.”
...We’re talking only slightly better than Marcelo Rios here.
Don’t laugh. He won 18 career titles; you’re at 15. Granted, you’ve got 2 majors, while Rios never won a Slam. But you both share that absurd, petulant attitude, which undermines everything you do on court.
Hey, man, it’s your career. But you’re 27, and if you can get healthy you might want to dig in for a year or two before your body, or mind, or both, totally conk out. No regrets, right? Otherwise, spare your fans the heartache and join Yevgeny at the poker table.
James Martin on Marat
The webmaster of Marat's site posted the following:
Recently an article was published on the Internet by the editor of tennis.com under his "Viewpoint" which was trying to put a smear on Marat's situation plus making recommendations re things he should do for the future.This "article" was written by someone who pretends to be a fan of Marat Safin.
Neither Marat nor his website has ever in the past made a point of commenting on things that appear in the media because throughout his career Marat has always maintained a great relationship with all channels of the media - be it written, TV or radio - always been available when asked for interviews etc, respected their work and treated them with dignity.
Now for the first time an article is written on a "respected" website and this article was full of hate - really patronizing and vicious in its comments and aimed at hurting Marat, his reputation, his past contribution and achievements in the field of tennis.
Marat himself was very insulted by this article that was brought to his attention for the very reasons stated above.
Safin Web Site
The hullabaloo over Chris's Open Letter still hasn't died down. I wonder if this letter will cause the same stir. Marat is second only to Guga in fan popularity and I think once this gets around his fans will raise the same sort of fuss Serena's fans did. Marat had knee surgery he just seems to be getting over mentally(those of you who have had knee surgery know what I'm talking about), and he has a wrist injury.
Chris Evert's Open Letter was an Op-Ed piece. This Open Letter is more of an editorial. Should tennis players be called on their shit? Absolutely. I'm waiting to see Open Letters toMaria Sharapova for her gamesmanship and Justine Henin for Carlos Rodriguez antics during her matches. I don't think those are forth coming though.
There is a good editorial in this article. Everyone can't pull off sarcasm and/or humor. Every culture has it's definiton of what those two words represent. I just hope that this Open Letter, like Chris's gets wide circulation and discussion.
Lisa Raymond on Women’s Tennis in the United States
Lisa has written a thought provoking article about why the United States isn’t producing female players able to compete at the highest levels in her sport. I think that between us Craig and I have talked about every issue she raises. It’s just nice to see your opinion validated by someone on the “inside”. The article is excerpted below.
Trouble on the home front
Where are all the young American women prospects?
So what's going on? Why is it that the biggest, most powerful, most affluent country of them all can't seem to produce the champions that these other smaller, much poorer countries can? Russia, Serbia and the Czech Republic are just a few of the countries producing young players at a rapid rate.
Sure, we could sit back and point fingers at the decision-makers at the USTA and the hierarchy of tennis in America. We could toss around questions such as, are they hiring the right people? The right coaches? Is it a sound structure? Is their system the blueprint for success or more along the lines of disaster? Maybe they can be held accountable to a degree. But where this issue begins is with the young player and the environment in which she is brought up.
Junior players in Russia or Serbia are willing to sacrifice everything in order to taste success, to get out and find a better life for themselves and their families. They don't know any differently. American juniors lose a match or have a bad practice and they can jump into their BMWs and head home to finish playing Halo 3 on their brand-new Xbox 360.
So what's the solution? Can hunger and desire be something that is taught? From my experience, the answer is no. Sure, everyone wants to be the next Justine Henin, but are you really willing to do the work, make the sacrifices and give up some of life's guilty pleasures in order to achieve such greatness?
When I posted about two very young up and coming American girls from the Florida area a few months back one of the mothers commented on the BMW approach to American tennis and how she had to fight to make sure her daughter understood that she belonged in that environment whether her parents drove a C class or a Honda.
I think Lisa lets the USTA off the hook here. She does talk in the article about the USTA programs in the inner cities and how much it costs to play the sport of tennis but what she doesn’t talk about are the unique problems faced by a player not to the manor born. Donald Young was pushed into playing on the pro level way before he was ready mentally because of financial reasons. He’s backtracked and seems to be doing just fine on the Challenger level building up ranking points and skill. It just makes me appreciate what Richard Williams and Oracene Price did with their daughters keeping them off the pro circuit despite whatever hardships they faced for as long as they could.
But the problem is not just racial; it is, as Lisa says class more than anything else in the States. When Sam Querrey can state on the record that he loves driving his mother’s Porsche more than anything I think he makes Lisa’s argument for her. He is talented. He could be a hope for American tennis. But hey, lose, and I drive Mom’s Porsche and have fun. No big deal.
But the “manor” attitude is not limited to the players. It’s part of the mindset of the USTA. And that is where the problem really is. When you read about how the decision was made to make the United States a hard court nation simply to stop the progress of players from South America you have to wonder what other decisions are made based on class/ethnic/racial bias. These are not easy issues to discuss but they need to be raised in a public forum like Sports Illustrated.
Some tennis heads talked about this situation at least three years ago but no one wanted to hear it and called us “racists” for raising it. With Lisa Raymond talking about a five to ten year drought before another American woman will be able to make a big splash the pressure will be on juniors like Asia Muhammad and Madison Brengle both of whom seem 3-4 years away.
Lisa Raymond on Tennis
Ion Tiriac and the Fifth Slam
Why a Fifth Slam?
(We’ll forget for now that the term “Grand Slam” refers to a home run hit when the bases are full in baseball and gives the home run hitters team four runs.)
To argue why Madrid could host a Grand Slam, the Romanian, 68, lists three points.
The first is that tennis should allow free competition.
"What I am still not satisfied about is the fact that they do not let tournaments compete. I want to compete. Tomorrow I go and ask how much are prizes at Roland Garros. Fifteen million? I go and put down 15 million, but I want to be at the points level of Roland Garros, not at the level of a '1,000.' Let me compete! But the Grand Slams will not let me compete. And neither will the ATP."
The second point of this former tennis player, former coach, former manager, former Romanian Olympic Committee chairman, businessman and banker is that Grand Slam tournaments have reached their limits.
"Unfortunately I don't think that (French President Nicolas)Sarkozy is going to let them build in the Bois de Boulogne to expand, because they already took a lot from the woods. And also they no longer have the (Olympic) Games, that the English took," Tiriac describes the challenges for Roland Garros.
London too faces obstacles.
"You cannot allow that, when you have 200 countries watching on television, the explanation is 'this is London when it rains.' Sport is no longer what is was, it is different from 20 years ago."
And Madrid is the city that according to Tiriac, incarnates more than any other this "new sport," the city that can go beyond the limits of Paris and London. The Magic Box, the fantastic tennis complex that French architect Dominique Perrault designed in the Spanish capital, is his third point.
"Madrid has a very great future, and it is going to have facilities like no other tournament. There is no other which can close three courts in five minutes and keep playing despite the rain," Tiriac stresses.
He notes he has ruled out the Asian option that he contemplated a couple of years ago.
A Fifth Slam?
Wimbledon is the Crown Jewel of tennis isn’t it? How dare Tiriac suggest that any other city, especially Madrid, supplant it? Please note that my tongue is very much in my cheek right now. After the fiasco that was Wimbledon 2007 I’m glad someone has decided to challenge the Grand Poobah’s in London. Not much may come of it but Tiriac has tons of money. Let’s see what happens.
Donald Young will face Robert Kendrick in the Final at Calabasas in the United States Sunday.
Guillermo Coria is rumored to be taking a wild card into Belo Horizonte in Brazil. Gasto Gaudio withdrew.
Not enough players to have a qualifying round in the Rimouski, Canada Challenger. John Isner will be the top seed.
Madrid Masters Television
Good coverage all week except for doubles. It can be expensive to purchase the season pass but it is possible to buy day passes. A day pass might be what a fan would want once you hit the quarters semi's and final for any TMS event. The best on line subscription is still provided by Wimbledon though.
A lot of sports fans will be watching the Formula 1 event in Brazil today where Louis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso's year long soap opera will play it's final act. No lesser racing legend than Jackie Steward commented on it this week. Rafa has commented on it. It's a shame these two greats couldn't find some middle ground. Alonso is said to be going back to Renault next year while Hamilton stays with McLaren.
Pictures of the Week
Elena channeling her inner Bond Girl
The Nadal Men
Uncle Rafael, Father Sebastian, Rafa, Uncle Toni, Uncle Miguel Angel
Serena's World View
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Before yesterday, all we could do was imagine what the matchup would look like. How would one of the tour's best tacticians, armed with clean ball striking, fare against the tour's toughest warrior with the strongest will?
It was no contest. David Nalbandian beat Rafael Nadal 6-1, 6-2 in just over an hour to a crowd so stunned, it hissed at the Argentine during the match for playing so well. Nalbandian struck me as a man who had the game to cause Rafa all sorts of trouble, but the scoreline was a surprise, as was David's mental fortitude through the completion of the match.
"I took advantage of all of Rafa's bad shots," David said. "I think Rafa never felt comfortable out there."
Rafa, back in action after a layoff to allow his knees to heal was seen limping after his tough match against Andy Murray the night before. But the Spaniard didn't blame his knees for his poor play.
"I don't want to come up with an excuse," Rafa said. "When you lose, you lose. I think the result reflects enough. It wasn't my day. I never felt good at any point."
That's a wrap.
In the semifinals, Nalbandian will play Novak Djokovic who dismissed Mario Ancic 7-6(3), 6-4. David will try to avenge the straight-set drubbing he received at the hands of the Serb in Montreal this summer.
In a more competitive encounter, Nicolas Kiefer positioned himself for the ATP Comeback Player of the Year award with a 7-6(5), 6-2 victory of a tiring Fernando Gonzalez.
Kiwi, as some of his fans call him, came back this year after a long absence due to a career-threatening left wrist injury. One of the bad boys of tennis, the break from action and his work with sick children mellowed the German, turning him into a player I can actually see myself rooting for.
I'll certainly be rooting for him in the semifinals against Roger Federer who beat a deflated Feliciano Lopez 7-6(4), 6-4 in a match that never seemed as close as the score suggests. After a marathon eighth game in the first set that went to deuce more times than I remember with Lopez finally holding serve, the Spaniard threw the tiebreak away with more forehands over the baselines than I remember. Raja was never pressured on his serve throughout the match and moved a step closer to defending his title in Madrid.
Kiwi usually plays Raja tough. In the third round of Wimbledon 2005, he served for a fifth set against defending champion, only to lose his way and lose in four tough sets. If he doesn't expect much from himself and plays with nothing to lose, he'll hope to win at least another set off the man he hasn't defeated since 2002.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
by Craig Hickman
No, he hasn't won the tournament. But in his effort against Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal delivered a regal performance in his 7-5, 6-4 victory. In the best (televised) match since the US Open, Rafa and Andy the Younger covered more real estate than a broker and came up with shot after shot of scintillating madness.
After a career-threatening wrist injury, Murray seems to be back to his retrieving best and pushed Nadal to the limit. When the Scot fought his way to a 4-2 lead in the second set, the match seemed sure to go the distance. But Rafa would have none of it. He battled back to regain the break and reeled off the last four games of the set to seal the match on his second match point.
Afterwards, Feliciano Lopez advanced to his second quarterfinal in Madrid when he withstood the angled attack of Stefan Koubek 7-6(9), 6-4. It's not often we get to see two lefties craft their way through match at the same time, but the artistry on display today was topnotch. Koubek is a throwback player. No, he doesn't serve and volley, but he can run down just about every shot and send it back at such an acute angle you have to blink to make sure you saw it correctly.
Rafa's win means that we will finally get to see him play David Nalbandian, who toughed out a tight win over compatriot Juan Martin del Potro. Lopez will face Roger Federer, who was in full Ninja mode when he cut up Guillermo Cañas, exacting a bit of revenge on the Argentinean for sending him packing in two back-to-back Masters events this past spring.
Mario Ancic and Nicolas Kiefer, both recently back from illness and injury, dispatched of Paul Henri Mathieu and Ivo Karlovic, respectively. The Croat, who suffered from mono, will play Novak Djokovic, who tanked yet another set against Juan Carlos Ferrero. I can't keep from finding Djoke's tactics bush league. Kiefer, who seems to have fully recovered from a wrist injury (and mellowed in the process) will face a resurgent Fernando González , who fought off an inspired Juan Monaco in two tight sets.
The event has awakened. What a difference a day makes.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Nikolay Davydenko Winner 2007 Men's Kremlin Cup
Elena Dementieva Winner 2007 Ladies Kremlin Cup
Novak Djokovic Winner 2007 Ba/Ca Championship Vienna Austria
Flavia Pennetta Winner 2007 PTT Bangkok
Ivo Karlovic Winner 2007 Stockholm
Jonas Bjorkman and Max Mirnyi
Mariusz Fyrstenberg(POL)/Marcin Matkowski(POL)
Yan Zi and Sun Tian-tian
Marat Safin and Dmitry Tursunov 2007 Mens Doubles
Cara Black and Liezel Huber 2007 Womens Doubles
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Tennis This Week
Lots of tennis got played this past week despite the impression the casual fan in the United States might have that the tennis season ended when the US Open did. There was the Kremlin Cup played in Moscow for example which featured all but the top three men and most of the women. There was the Stockholm Open where James Blake unsuccessfully defended his championship. Men were also playing in Vienna Austria where the number three in the world Novak Djokovic led the list of players.
Despite the Kremlin Cup being a Tier I event for the women there was a Tier III in Bangkok which is where Jelena Jankovic opted to play. There was lively debate about whether a Tier III should be played at the same time as a Tier I but there was enough tennis for everyone and the arguments died down once the tournaments started.
The one thing that struck me about the women this week was that both Williams Sisters were playing. Serena was in Europe and Venus was in Asia. Serena has made the Final in Moscow and Venus lost in the semi's to Flavia Pennetta. These are the only women carrying the torch for American women's tennis. Lindsay Davenport is on her way back but probably won't be fully ready physically until next year. After that the prospects are bleak.
Andy Roddick who pulled out of Thailand with an ankle injury but managed to play charity events in the States has done it again. This time he pulled out of the TMS event in Madrid citing a knee injury. Fans have noted that he is scheduled to play for charity again while the TMS event is taking place. Tennisheads remember the withering criticism leveled at the European men for skipping most of the US Open series and not coming across the pond until the back to back TMS events in Canada and Ohio. Andy's fans are saying it's not hypocritical for him to pull out of a TMS event in the fall after his comments during the summer. I think it is. I don't think you'll hear the European's doing the same thing though. American players are unpopular overseas as it is.
I do give Blake credit for playing in Madrid though.
By the way the Madrid field is quite deep. So is the Zurich WTA event next week. Glad to see that.
Method to the Madness
I found this on my Google home page after I made the original post. It's a nice little article about why the TMS events at the end of the year are going to be so well attended by the top players. An excerpt and the link follow.
In a season where we've witnessed de Villiers and the rest of his gang at the Mickey Mouse Club try to turn the ATP into a circus, it's reassuring to see some sensible steps now being taken towards hopefully, and at long last, having a fitting and exciting final chapter to the race to Shanghai.
This year however, the organisers are doing all they can to make sure the top 5 are there, barring any serious injury. And the players seem to have caught on. Roger Federer skipped Tokyo so that he is only scheduled to play two events in the indoor season before Paris rather than his usual 3. Rafael Nadal has been on a prolonged rest period since the USO, withdrawing from the Thailand Open to stay in Spain and heal his knee injury in time to play both Madrid and Paris. The top players should be keener to make a final pit stop before Shanghai this year, and here are some of the reasons why.
Okay so it may not be what they all play for, but an extra financial motivation sure doesn't hurt. The ATP ruled from the start of this year that a bonus of $750,000 would be handed to each of the top 4 players in the race if they had played at least 8 out of the 9 TMS events, including imperatively Madrid and Paris. So as the race stands right now, any the top four can cash in on the bonus prize money as long as they play both Madrid and Paris.
Incentives to Play
Lists of the Week
The WTA 2009 Roadkill schedule including player obligations was posted this week on
2009 Calendar with Top-10 players restrictions:
Jan 05 - Brisbane (no Top-10 players)
-------- Auckland (no Top-10 players)
Jan 12 - Sydney (no restrictions on the number of Top-10 players)
-------- Hobart (no Top-10 players)
Jan 19 - AUSTRALIAN OPEN
Feb 02 - Fed Cup
Feb 09 - Paris Indoors (one Top-6 and two Top-13 players OR two Top-6 players)
-------- Bangkok (no Top-10 players)
Feb 16 - Dubai (seven Top-10 players)
-------- Memphis (no Top-10 players)
-------- Bogota (no Top-10 players)
Feb 23 - TBD (one Top-6 and two Top-13 players OR two Top-6 players)
-------- Acapulco (no Top-10 players)
Mar 02 - Bangalore (no Top-10 players)
Mar 09 - Indian Wells (MANDATORY)
Mar 23 - Miami (MANDATORY)
Apr 06 - Amelia Island (no Top-10 players)
-------- Estoril (no Top-10 players)
Apr 13 - Charleston (one Top-6 and two Top-13 players OR two Top-6 players)
-------- Barcelona (no Top-10 players)
Apr 20 - Fed Cup
Apr 27 - Stuttgart (one Top-6 and two Top-13 players OR two Top-6 players)
-------- Fes (no Top-10 players)
May 04 - Rome (seven Top-10 players)
May 11 - Madrid (MANDATORY)
May 18 - Berlin (no restrictions on the number of Top-10 players)
-------- Strasbourg (no Top-10 players)
May 25 - ROLAND GARROS
Jun 08 - Birmingham (no Top-10 players)
Jun 15 - Eastbourne (no restrictions on the number of Top-10 players)
-------- s'Hertogenbosch (no Top-10 players)
Jun 22 - WIMBLEDON
Jul 06 - Budapest (no Top-10 players)
-------- Palermo (no Top-10 players)
Jul 13 - Prague (no Top-10 players)
-------- Istanbul (no Top-10 players)
Jul 20 - Portoroz (no Top-10 players)
Jul 27 - Stanford (one Top-6 and two Top-13 players OR two Top-6 players)
-------- Stockholm (no Top-10 players)
Aug 03 - Los Angeles (one Top-6 and two Top-13 players OR two Top-6 players)
Aug 10 - Canadian Open (seven Top-10 players)
Aug 17 - Cincinnati (seven Top-10 players)
Aug 24 - New Haven (no restrictions on the number of Top-10 players)
Aug 31 - US OPEN
Sep 14 - Guangzhou (no Top-10 players)
-------- Quebec City (no Top-10 players)
-------- Tashkent (no Top-10 players)
Sep 21 - Seoul (no Top-10 players)
-------- Calcutta (no Top-10 players)
Sep 28 - Tokyo Indoors (one Top-6 and two Top-13 players OR two Top-6 players)
Oct 05 - Beijing (MANDATORY)
Oct 12 - Linz (no Top-10 players)
-------- Japan Open (no Top-10 players)
-------- Singapore (no Top-10 players)
Oct 19 - Moscow (seven Top-10 players)
-------- Luxembourg (no Top-10 players)
-------- Bali (no Top-10 players)
Oct 26 - WTA Tour Championships
One legitimate question that arises is this. Rankings change. Players move in and out of the top ten not to mention the rankings from eleven to twenty or thirty. How does Roadkill handle that basic fact of tennis life? Tennisheads will be watching.
Another list circulating this week was a report on the ATP matches deemed suspect by tennis and betting authorities. Andy Murray threw fuel on the fire and said that everyone knew what was going on. He's being hauled before ATP officials to explain his comments. Guess something of Brad Gilbert has rubbed off on him huh? Next time he'll keep his mouth shut. To see the list please go
Makeover of the Week
The ESPN tennis board has been totally revamped. It's now like a combination tennis board and mySpace. Blogs are allowed. Pictures are allowed as long as they're not pictures of celebrities or athletes which makes not an ounce of sense to me since it is a tennis board and most fans would put avatars of their faves as they do on most tennis boards. At least now tennisheads will get to find out if that board is kept going by one guy with twenty aliases or not.
I'll end with what I call the Picture of the Week. A lot of people would pick this one of Roger and Mirka.
But for me this was the picture of the week.
The other one is the picture at the beginning of this post.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Mr. Etienne de Villiers has let us all in on the reasons behind his changing the ATP tour into the WWE. I keep expecting Vince McMahon to step out from behind the curtain.
We should all work just for one person and he's a 45-year-old living in Bedfordshire called John Smith.
He is our tennis fan and he is the only person we should be working for. Ultimately, that informs the decisions of all of us who work in entertainment.
"You have to decide which market you're in. If it's a tennis market you do certain things. If you're in the entertainment business you have to compete for discretionary time and income. We clearly are in the latter. Tennis over the past 15 years has not really done anything to change how it is presented or marketed to the general public."
Well since John in Bedfordshire England is the typical tennis fan I guess the rest of us – Asian, African, South American and maybe even Southern European had better get out of the way. I think a person of average intelligence has no problem following the tennis calendar as it exists now. With a little more work the average person can decipher rankings of players and tournaments, and with a little more work will know that the tour comes to a place near them at some point in time. The tournament can be what we now call Tier I, II, II or IV. It can be a Challenger. A future. The local playground courts. A Grand Slam. But tennis is played world wide.
I wonder how John from Bedfordshire reacted to his national tennis organization, which spent millions of pounds over the last year recruiting top coaches having to suspend some of what he’s been told are the best and brightest of the Lawn Tennis Association. With Tim Henman’s retirement and Andy Murray struggling with injuries I wonder who John from Bedfordshire is going to root for? An American maybe? Let’s see. After Andy Roddick and James Blake(by golly that guy has British blood in his veins doesn’t he) there’s…who exactly? John Isner? Still adapting to the rigors of the pro game. Mardy Fish? Uh-huh. Well maybe John likes the women’s game. Venus and Serena Williams? Not if the powers that be in the USA have their say. Wouldn’t John rather root for Maria Sharapova the stereotypical blond American bombshell…oh wait she’s Russian. She just likes the Yankee dollar (well maybe she’s asking to be paid in Euro’s now but that metaphor doesn’t work well does it?) I mean those pesky Williams sisters may have the best records of American women in recent memory but they’re well, you know, they pull out of tournaments at the last minute. They beat up poor Maria and her now it is now it isn't bad shoulder. They’re just not what tennis is all about. Fan support? Well if Maria’s shoulder wasn’t bothering her (and there hadn’t been those incidents where she turned her back on an injured opponent or took advantage of a player everyone knows has a psyche as fragile as fine crystal, the potty breaks)…uh, enough of that. The fans really like Maria. So what if they boo her or if she only wins when she’s got a draw made in heaven by the random angels and ducks out twenty minutes before a semi final match against an opponent who beat her to a pulp earlier in the year? She’s the Golden One, the future of tennis. John from Bedfordshire will rally around her for sure.
The French? We’re talking John from Bedfordshire here. Brits root for the French? Seen any pigs take flight lately? Spaniards? Italians? Argentines? Asians? Indians and Pakistani’s? Surely you jest. John from Bedfordshire wants hard court tennis. He doesn’t want to watch two guys, or gals, play long rallies requiring both physical and mental endurance. He wants slam, bang tennis. 150 mile per hour serves. Not too much thinking. Just react. That’s what John wants right? And what John wants he gets hand delivered on a silver platter. That bloke from Switzerland, the one who rarely shows emotion on court anymore with the pleasingly plump girl friend? That’s what John wants. No one shouting “vamos” or “allez”. A nice fist pump every now and then is all right with John. Like him, the people in Switzerland still use their own money not that Euro thing. John from Bedfordshire is giving a gentlemanly fist pump.
More ATP News
The ATP announced the tournaments that will have “500” status under the Brave New World plan. The lucky tournaments are as follows.
Each player will have to commit to playing four per year including one after the US Open. Funny but there is a lot of tennis being played right now no? Vienna, Moscow and Stockholm are on for the men this week. The women are playing in Moscow and Bangkok. A joint event just finished in Tokyo. Oh, my bad. There is no tennis after the US Open is there? For more on this here is the link.
Brave New World The 500
Just keep in mind these are the same marketing geniuses who change the Men’s championship playoff from the Tennis Masters Cup to something that, when you reduce it to an acronym becomes WTF. Enjoy yourselves with that one tennisheads.
More ATP Brave New World
Just in case you don’t know what the current ranking system is a fan over on MTF posted it and compared it with the new one going into effect in 2009.
*The current ranking point allocation
Grand Slam winner = 1000 points
Masters Series winner = 500 points (50% of Slam winner)
IS Gold winner = 250/300 points (25-30% of Slam winner, 50-60% of MS winner)
IS winner = 175/200/225/250 points (17,5-25% of Slam winner, 35-50% of MS winner, 60-100% of IS Gold winner)
*The 2009 ranking point allocation
GS winner = 2000 points
Masters 1000 winner = 1000 points (50% of Slam winner)
"500" winner = 500 points (25% of Slam winner, 50% of Masters winner)
"250" winner = 250 points (12,5% of Slam winner, 25% of Masters winner, 50% of "500" winner)
for example, in 2009 winning Queen's will give 250 points while winning Wimbledon gives 2000 points
winning Moscow will give 250 points, winning Paris gives 1000 points
Yep those point whores will be rushing to those 250 events. No wonder Queens locked Rafael Nadal in with huge appearance fees for the next few years.
Yes they have a women’s tour quiet as it’s kept. Someone named Justine Henin keeps winning every time she plays which is not that often since her health is delicate. Without her faithful coach what would she do?
There is speculation that Venus Williams, who lost out to Marion Jones in 2000 as Female Athlete of the Year may now get that award. That would be great for tennis and recognition of the break out year Venus had back then when she was truly tennis Golden Girl…oh wait.
Tennisheads are asking why, when there is a Tier I event on Moscow for the women there is also a Tier III in Bangkok. The ATP has a Masters Series tournament in Madrid next week and there is no other game in town for the main tour. Just asking you know? Oh, and you get exactly one guess as to who the top seed is in Bangkok. If you need more than one guess here's a hint. She's Serbian. Dark hair. Exotic looks. Under six feet tall. What, you need a road map? Okay here she is.
No more hints okay?
Speaking of Venus, after seeing this while playing the Tokyo final against Virginie Razzano
the very last thing we V-nuts wanted to see was Venus Arriving in Bangkok.
We love you girl. We want you in the YEC. But not at the expense of your health. You've got some obvious injury issues. You remember what happened the last time you played with that groin problem? Your fans do. A week off may be just what you need.
Idle Chit Chat
In lighter news former tennis golden girl Anna Kournikova was photographed with long time beau Enrique Iglesias. The pics squash any rumors Anna has a bun in the oven but she appears to now be eating two lettuce leaves a day, up from one. She was also photographed with a beverage in her hand. Product placement for the former endorsement queen?
There was also a pic of Dominika Cibulkova which was obviously intended to announce to the world that she's of age. Of age for what is my question. And if this isn't a promo for CSI why is she in a bathtub?
Here is a pic of Ms Cibulkova sans the plaster and paint. You decide.
No I'm not talking about the female or male kind. I'm talking about tennis trophies. There's been a trend lately of giving paintings by some local artist as trophies. A real trophy can be put in a trophy case. A picture will just sit in your attic and gather dust. Unless you are a member of the local culture these paintings mean nothing.
Then there are the trophies that have come to be known as Alien Baby Trophies. Metz, which Tommy Robredo won this past weekend, has the penultimate Alien Child as it's trophy.
Now if you want to give a non standard trophy the picture below shows what can be done along those lines.
Now that'll work.
Note: By calling the Metz trophy an Alien Baby no offense was meant to the millions of aliens living among us. We know you all have different ways of reproducing. Handing your spawn over to tennis players is not one of your child rearing practices. Next thing you know Paris Hilton will traveling to your planet to adopt one of your children.
David Ferrer Mens's Champion Tokyo 2007
Virginie Razzano Women's Champion 2007 Tokyo
Justine Henin Champion Stuttgart 2007
Tommy Robredo Champion Open de Moselle 2007
(1) Peschke/Stubbs (CZE/AUS) d. (2) Chan/Safina (TPE/RUS) 67(5) 76(4) 10-2
Doubles - Final
(2) T.Sun/Yan (CHN/CHN) d. (1) Chuang/King (TPE/USA) 16 62 10-6
Singles - Final
Pauline Parmentier (FRA) d. (1) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 75 62
Doubles - Final (played Saturday)
Dzehalevich/Yakimova (BLR/BLR) d. (1) Poutchek/Rodionova (BLR/RUS) 26 64 10-7
ATP Challenger - Mons Belgium
Ernests Gulbis who played flawless tennis all week and beat Kristof Vliegen in the final.We may be hearing a lot more from this young man.