Monday, January 28, 2008

After A Slam and Other Random Thoughts

by Savannah

There is something about the end of a Grand Slam. The players have scattered to the four winds, some to play, others to work on improving their games for the next event in their future, others to contemplate their futures in the sport.

There is also a post Slam let down for those of us who follow the tennis calendar. There is the build up to the Slam itself – the pre Slam tournaments where both players and results are scrutinized by tennisheads so that predictions can be made, wagers, both virtual and monetary placed, and a fan can hardly wait for the fortnight tennis orgy to begin.

The Australian Open is particularly hard for fans in the States. I live on the East Coast of the United States and Melbourne Australia is sixteen hours ahead of my time zone. This meant living in a twilight zone where I was following matches taking place the next day while continuing at my full time job. Normal sleep patterns went out the window while I watched ESPN’s great coverage either on line or on television. Sometimes a nights viewing entailed doing both. Bed at or after 11p, normal rising at 4:30a, and sneaking peeks at matches that began at the quite normal time of 7:30p in Melbourne but at 3:30a where I live. For the Mens Final I took a long nap starting about 9p and woke up in time to see it at 3:30a. Once it finished I was wide awake and made it to 10:30a before throwing in the towel and going to bed. Habits of a madwoman? Probably. But I know I wasn’t alone in my insanity and that somehow makes it better.

What’s next for a tennishead? Tennis of course.

Guillermo Coria is starting his formal comeback at Vina del Mar in Chile. The women will be playing Fed Cup this weekend and the men will play Davis Cup the following weekend.

The French have had their tennis landscape remade. Their anointed one had to sit by and watch the after thought play his way into a Grand Slam Final. The French have to be salivating at their Davis Cup prospects now. Will Jo-Wilfried Tsonga pull French tennis out of the world of the beautiful and into the world of guts and glory again? Is he ready for that weight to be placed on his shoulders? Will Richard Gasquet, relieved of the weight, relax and play up to his potential?
Will the squabbling French women put their differences aside and simply play tennis to the tune of the Marseillaise for Fed Cup?

Has the duopoly indeed become a troika? Have we moved from the age of class to the age of crass?

Will the dismal play of the WTA be addressed by the powers that be or will all the focus continue to be on the Golden Girl? When will shrieking, squeaking, and hitting the ball into the net or spraying it wide be deemed unacceptable? When will women players emerge who capture the collective imagination of tennis fans and lead to the debates of the past? The only two genuine stars, Venus Williams and Serena Williams, are aged by tennis standards. The Golden Child is a superstar in the eyes of her sponsor but the decidedly under whelmed response of the Aussie’s after her win speaks volumes about hype and true super stardom. Chrissie, Martina, Monica, Gabriella, Steffi,
Billie Jean – these were tennis superstars. Fans still argue about them today. And they’re arguing about their tennis, not how beautiful they are/were. Will women emerge who really want it, who are willing to play their way into the fans hearts? Time again will tell.

The ATP product on the other hand rescued the event. The quality of play, intriguing and new match ups, and the possible return of serve and volley on the racquet of a young Frenchman makes the upcoming year exciting. There is no hype needed here. The play speaks for itself.

Surface wars? Traditionalists decried the change but Tennis Australia finally did what everyone else has done and adapt to the technology being used by the players today not twenty years ago. Scream all you want about Wimbledon being slowed down. You can't turn back time. The age of wooden racquets has passed.

Will the Chinese buy the Open from Tennis Australia and move it to Shanghai as has been reported with some alarm? Will business beat out tradition? Tennis Australia is addressing player concerns re the locker rooms and other facilities that said to be out dated. They’re spending a lot of money to do so. They are also looking at a Sunday start in 2009. Nothing like a fire being lit under one’s ass to get one moving is there?

Do the results of the Australian Open, where no number one or two seeds made it through to the semi’s except for the men who make up the duopoly, mean that there is a changing of the guard? Did the stars align in a pattern never to be seen again? Was the event a fluke, a one off that will not happen again? Who knows? I certainly don’t and I don’t care to give an opinion at this time. Let’s see where things are for the women and men who play tennis when Madrid and Beijing come around in the fall.

For this tennishead the Australian Open has done what it usually does and started the conversation for the upcoming year. The players, from top to bottom have been served. There is no Grand Slam event until Roland Garros begins. That should give us all time to rest, and contemplate the year that is to come.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Australian Open – Looking Back

by Savannah

Novak Djokovic won his first Slam. There are friends of mine who are big Novak fans so congratulations to them. When you beat Number 1 you should win it all. As a long time tennis observer and fan I wish I could say I’ve seen a family complain about fans cheering against their pride and joy but I guess there’s a first time for everything. Tacky of Novak to make a complaint. Tacky of his family to call security. Tacky of Novak to ask Ramos to quiet the fans. Tackier of Ramos to do it. I’m stopping short of saying Ramos was biased towards Djokovic but this is the same man who had Sharapova fined for coaching. The same man who doesn’t think twice about calling out Rafa for taking too much time. I swear you could get through half of “War and Peace” while Novak is preparing to serve.

But in the end the moment caught up with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. He was never the same after three all in the second set. The kid can be excused for having a bit of nerves though. It’s not often you contend for your first main tour title in a Grand Slam final. He got revenge on Rafa for that drubbing he took at last years US Open. It was doubtful that he could sustain that high throughout the Final against someone he’d never played before.

The Jinx Factor?

Haruka made the point that Carlos Costa’s coming in for Rafa’s semi final match was a jinx. Craig made the point that when people who have not been there all along come in for the semi final or final it throws things off. I was happy to see Didier and Evelyne Tsonga in Australia. I'm sorry it turned out the way it did after they made such a long trip but being a parent I know wild horses wouldn't have kept them away.

Speaking of tennis parents can anyone imagine Lynette Federer or Ana-Maria Parera making the following statement about their son after a victory?

As you say, the king is dead. Long live the (new) king," Djokovic's mother, Dijana, told

Unfortunately it's true.
Dijana Djokovic

Through the Rear View Mirror

This was one strange Open wasn’t it? It went from ho-hum to riveting to must see in both singles and doubles play for both the men and the women.

  • Maria Sharapova pushed her humiliating defeat in 2007 aside and was clearly the woman to beat. No one managed to do that. In the battle of The Shriek vs The Squeak the Shriek, while not playing her best tennis – that had been played against Justine Henin – still easily disposed of Ana Ivanovic who, instead of gaining more fans seemed to make more enemies. Yuri Sharapov – aka The Notorious YuriS – sunk to new lows making a throat slashing motion while dressed in Nike camouflage and dark glasses. If Richard Williams had shown up dressed like that and done that, well, we know what would have happened.

  • Ana Ivanovic’s teary reaction left me a bit cold. Until she shows she can show up mentally in a Slam final number 2 or no she’s still got a lot to prove.

  • There was more action in the first set of the Men’s Final than in the entire Women’s Final. The WTA has to address the quality of it’s product. So many fans either fell asleep or found themselves otherwise occupied during the Golden Girl’s victory you have to wonder what will get fans back on the WTA bandwagon.

  • Can I say that watching the mens final gave me more of an appreciation for what Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have given us over the last few years? It wasn’t only the level of play it was another factor – professionalism – that was missing from the match this morning EST in the United States. Rafa has faced down hostile French crowds. Did he ask for security for his family or that the chair silence fans who were rooting for their faves? Would Roger have? People have been complaining about the duopoly for quite some time. Without either Rafa or Roger things were not quite right. They have both brought a very high level of play and set the standard high for on court behavior. They were missed.

Heard Around

It’s being reported that Roger Federer was much more ill than he let on coming into Melbourne.

In an Interview to the Swiss Newspaper "le Matin" Federers Fitness Coach Pierre Paganini admitted that Federer suffered from heavy diarrhea for 6 days in the preparation for the AO loosing 7 pounds( three kilos) of weight!

After his impression this affected Federers power and movement on court

The media construed that the Fed Clan didn't talk about that as they didn't want to give the impression that Fed is not 100 % to the competition. Fed loosing early at the AO would have cost him the NO. 1 spot therefore the goal was to go as far a possible.

Fed will now go through a serious recovery training in Dubai.


SonntagsBlick research show: Roger Federer was before the Australian Open far more ill than he admitted. He was in hospital, was six days with fever and diarrhea flat. With this history is his Halbfinalvorstoss no disappointment, but a willingness outstanding performance.

As Federer before the start to the Australian Open two weeks ago about his food poisoning said, which sounded like this: "I woke on Saturday with a fever, and the hospital was a slight food poisoning diagnosed. It was, however, I soon got better, and now I feel 100 percent fit. "

Even after the semi-final defeat on Friday against Novak Djokovic wanted disturbed his preparation as an excuse not apply. "Maybe it has played a role, but I do not know." However, he admitted that he is on the square quickly and less bubbly than usual felt. No wonder!

It pays tribute to Roger Federer that he is not looking after excuses, but the truth is another. A short hospital visit was the matter is far from fixed. According to reliable sources of Sunday gaze was Rogers disease deliberately kleingeredet tactical reasons. Man wanted over the opponents show no weakness. They were very pleased that it had succeeded, the real health problems of the Swiss to hide.
Under this aspect receives Federer's semi-final qualification a much higher value. Had Roger namely because of his illness Forfait declared it could Rafael Nadal in the coming weeks as the number 1 to replace. Now, however, the Basel area of opportunity, the body back into shape.

I don’t speak a word of Swiss German so I have to accept the translations. I guess they knew mentioning gastric distress would lead to a bunch of crappy jokes huh? If this was the case why were all references to an alleged ankle injury erased from the message board on his official site? Oh well. At least he didn’t blame the Russians. And he was determined to keep Rafa from getting that number one wasn’t he?

Roger is scheduled to play Estoril as a clay warm up. Novak is the defending champion. Should be interesting no?

Serena Williams is the only active woman player with a career slam. Both Maria Sharapova and Justine Henin are one away. Will Maria win the French? Will Justine win Wimbledon? Film at eleven folks.

Fed Cup News

The United States Fed Cup team will not feature either Venus Williams or Serena Williams. Lindsay Davenport will be leading the squad, which will include Laura Granville, Ashley Harkleroad and Lisa Raymond. The German squad will feature up and comer Sabine Lisicki who has appeared on a lot of tennishead’s radar.

The drama continues with the French ladies. When last checked Marion Bartoli was not going to play unless her father and coach Dr. Walter Bartoli was allowed to coach her. The French team now consists of The Maiden along with Amelie Mauresmo, Virginie Razzano and Nathalie Dechy. The P.R. of China team features Li Na, Peng Shuai, Zheng Zie and Yan Zi. Let’s see who deplanes from France later this week.

Fed Cup play begins February 2.

Idle Chit Chat

I think that's enough of that no?

A Final Look
Some of my favorite photographs from the 2008 Australian Open

Friday, January 25, 2008

Australian Open 2008 Womens Champion

Maria Sharapova after winning the 2008 Australian Open Women's Championship. She beat Ana Ivanovic 7-5, 6-3.
Maria was the best player during this fortnight and the win is deserved. Congratulations Maria.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Idle Chit Chat Australian Open Day 10

by Savannah

I've been trying to catch up with my sleep so I'm sorry I haven't posted anything new the last couple of days.
"Mad Professah" on Craig Hickman On Tennis
has posted his predictions on the semi finals so yes I'm aware they're happening.

But a lot of stuff is happening. First of all that new MC YuriS was caught making a throat cutting gesture after his meal ticket, I mean child, beat the current number one. Maybe I should rephrase that. MariaS didn't just win her match against
Justine Henin she served up a hot steamy bagel, something almost unheard of. Anyone who knows me knows I am not a fan of MariaS or Justine Henin but right now MariaS is playing lights out tennis. Big ups to her.
It just vexes me that if Richard Williams showed up on court looking like this

and did this after one of his daughters won a match

There would be calls for him to be banned from tournaments where his children were playing. As it is no lesser being than Larry Scott has declared that the throat slashing movement made by YuriS was just a joke and is not something the WTA will investigate further. Of course he's right. Sony just made MariaS their worldwide spokesperson. Short of YuriS or members of his posse machine gunning someone on court Maria is free to swig from bottles, brown or otherwise, and take bathroom breaks to her hearts content.

As for Richard Williams daughters the less said the better. They both had off days. It feels weird not having one of them in the semi finals. As it is we have the first all Eastern European semi final. Congratulations to the four women left standing.
Dani Hantuchova

Ana Ivanovic

Maria Sharapova

Jelena Jankovic

The Tennis World Beyond Melbourne

  • Donald Young has left IMG and signed with the Octagon Agency. I like it. The last thing Donald needs right now is the pressure of being repped by IMG.

  • The Fed Cup team nominations are out and surprise, surprise Marion Bartoli is nominated for the French team. Really.

  • Serena Williams has committed to playing Bangalore.

  • Li Na made comments to the effect that she'd like to see what is now called the Australian Open move to Shanghai. The Chinese are working very hard behind the scenes to make this a reality. We all know money talks and what walks. Australia is sure to fight this tooth and nail. Remember what walks.

  • Lindsay Davenport will head the American Fed Cup team. Neither Venus nor Serena will be playing.

Non Tennis News

Rest in Peace Heath Ledger, an actor who was just coming into his own.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Heard Around Australian Open 1/21/08

by Savannah

The quarter finalists from the top half of the mens draw and the bottom half of the women's draw are set. Good luck to everyone!


Roger Federer

James Blake

Novak Djokovic

David Ferrer


Ana Ivanovic

Venus Williams

Daniela Hantuchova

Aggie Radwanska

The Great Debate
So Venus and Sania are the cause of poor Lleyton and Marcos having to play so late and by implication the reason Lleyton couldn't beat Novak and progress to the quarter finals. Really? Well if Roger Federer says it's true then it must be right? I mean in this article he manages to bring up how humble he is while at the same time saying that if he requests something the tour asks how high it needs to jump and back to the fact that the women should have capitulated and moved.

Roger Federer says a women's match should have been moved on centre court to prevent the farcical circumstances that led to the latest finish in Grand Slam history at the Australian Open.

Ramifications continued Monday over the organisers' decision to schedule a midnight start to a third round match between former finalists Lleyton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis that ended at 4:33am (1733 GMT) Sunday.

Hewitt won in five sets in four and three-quarter hours, giving his fourth round opponent, third seed Novak Djokovic, the benefit of an extra night's rest.

Tournament director Craig Tiley said he had consulted with Venus Williams and Sania Mirza on the possibility of moving their preceding match off centre court to allow for an earlier start to the men's match, but they refused.

The Herald Sun newspaper claimed Williams and Mirza were involved in an 25-minute "running row" with Tiley over the issue.
"I'm a pretty relaxed guy. Look, I don't ask for much in tournaments. If I ask for something they (organisers) know it's for real and they trust me, whatever," he said.

"But if they would come and tell me, 'You've got to move'. Honestly, I think the players shouldn't have too much of a say.
Hewitt's match was running so late on Saturday because Federer was unexpectedly taken to five sets in an earlier match on centre court that ran to over four hours.

Roger Explains It All

When Mary Carillo of all people manages to get hot and bothered in defending Venus and Sania for holding to the schedule you know something big is going on here. Couldn't they have asked Hewitt to start on Vodaphone? I mean since it was soooo "unexpected" that Roger was taken to five sets by Janko Tipsarevic couldn't both matches that were scheduled afterwards have been started - one on Vodaphone and the other on MCA? I'm just sayin' you know? Maybe the women remember what happened during Wimbledon 2007 (and no I'm not letting that one go folks) and how one player got not one night but five full days of "scheduling issues" rest and decided to stand up for themselves. Maybe the Slams have a history of disrespecting women players. I don't know and none of us do. The Aussie media, the same folks who perpetrated the "light in the eyes" fraud last year when Serena played Nicole, is not to be trusted to tell the truth in my very humble opinion especially when it comes to sacred cow and de facto tournament director Lleyton Hewitt. Either both matches were moved or neither one was moved. Case closed. Moving on.

In a side note mmmm8 over on TAT captioned this picture perfectly saying Tomas Berdych, who went out like the proverbial biyatch to Roger Federer in their round of sixteen match appears to be asking Roger if there is anything else he can do for him? That, Mr. Berdych, would have to be done behind closed doors thank you very much.

Melt Downs and Other Perplexing Occurrences

Maria Kirilenko played Daniela Hantuchova in what was dubbed the match of the cutey pies. Ahead and apparently cruising towards the quarter finals Ms Kirilenko took a walkabout and completely left the stadium. Back issues that appeared when her mind was on, oh I don't know, Pluto perhaps? As a Venus fan I've seen my share of these things. Venus name is on the list of quarterfinalists.
Makiri's isn't.

As for Nadia Petrova I don't know what to say. Way back when I said I saw her crashing out of the top ten. She's still in free fall. Her collapse was not totally unexpected I'm sorry to say. Nadia we're as frustrated and perplexed as you are.


Rumors are still swirling about Matchgate. Bonnie D. Ford in her ESPN blog says one involved Venus leaving the grounds if her match was moved. I think the following sums up what was really going on.

Postponing the Hewitt-Baghdatis match until Sunday could have resulted in some crowd-control issues, the last thing organizers wanted following an ugly incident early last week in which fans were pepper-sprayed. As it was, officials are lucky the crowd was so well-behaved, given all the extra hours fans had to consume alcohol.

Hewitt and Baghdatis were told at one point that the women's match would be moved, at which point they warmed up for 10 minutes to get ready to play. McKewen and tournament director Craig Tiley called the gaffe a "miscommunication." They eventually decided they would postpone the men's match to Sunday only if the women went three sets. For better or worse, it didn't turn out that way.

Hmmm. Wonder if Venus and Sania saw the boys warming up before they were "asked" and put 2+2 together resulting in their stance?

Story of the Week
The quiet story this week has been the showing by the Asian women, particularly the Chinese.
Hsieh Su-Wei, who plays double handed from both sides and Yuan Meng, who lacked the experience to make good on really giving Serena a hard time, both showed that it's not only Li Na and Peng Shuai and Yan Zi making noise on the womens tour.
Look to hear more from these ladies as we approach Beijing.

Hsieh Su-wei

Humorous Photos Oz Open Edition

David Ferrer

Maria Kirilenko

Commentary or just one too many?

I'm too sexy for my clothes...
David Nalbandian

James Blake

Rafael Nadal

Juan Carlos Ferrero

Feel free to caption...