Thursday, October 30, 2008

This and That

by Savannah

The Race to Shanghai
Congratulations to Andy Roddick on his qualifying for Shanghai. Let's hope all those rumors about him not going even if qualified are put to rest. I have to say Andy played very well today against the guy who has been the hottest player of the indoor season.
Here are the latest standings after this mornings play in Paris. It was morning for us on the East Coast of the United States.

01 (01) Rafael Nadal (ESP) 1325 (15) PAR R3
02 (02) Roger Federer (SUI) 1031 (--) PAR R3
03 (03) Novak Djokovic (SRB) 929 (03)
04 (04) Andy Murray (GBR) 674 (15)* PAR R3
05 (05) Nikolay Davydenko (RUS) 433 (22) PAR R3
06 (06) Andy Roddick (USA) 394 (22) PAR QF
07 (07) Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) 369 (08)*
08 (08) Gilles Simon (FRA) 356 (20)

09 (09) David Ferrer (ESP) 339 (15)
10 (10) James Blake (USA) 335 (15) PAR QF

11 (12) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 315 (05) PAR QF
12 (11) Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) 302 (03)
13 (14) David Nalbandian (ARG) 300 (20) PAR QF
14 (13) Fernando Gonzalez (CHI) 284 (12)
15 (15) Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 283 (15) PAR R3
16 (16) Gael Monfils (FRA) 279 (--) PAR R3
17 (17) Robin Soderling (SWE) 265 (11)
18 (18) Nicolas Almagro (ESP) 254 (08)
19 (19) Igor Andreev (RUS) 249 (10)
20 (23) Tomas Berdych (CZE) 243 (08) PAR R3
Ironic that both Gilles Simon and
Juan Martin del Potro went out on the same day. Looks like David Nalbandian isn't ready to reliquish his status as top dog in Argentina doesn't it?

It occurred to me while watching the day session matches that France all of a sudden has a lot of guys making a lot of noise on the tour. The Anointed One is not among them. Many of the players making noise now have suffered from injury over the past couple of years and are now healthy. Maybe the Anointed will take the rest of the year to think seriously about what he wants and what it's going to take to get it. No one is handing anyone anything on a silver platter in the ATP. Guys are out there biting and clawing each other in their race to become the best. The Anointed One is going to have to do the same thing.

The Gift That May Keep On Giving

No I'm not talking about that special itch you can only get in Paris. I'm talking about Brave New World, the gift Etienne de Villiers and the ATP board are leaving for the men's tour. I've been blogging against what is now called Brave New World and the WTA Roadmap for a long time now. I'd stopped because it seemed as if I was the only call calling bullshit about the proposed changes. Now that the season is winding down it seems fans are starting to pay attention and ask questions. On just about every tennis fan site questions are being asked about the feasibility of both plans.

Over on Talk About Tennis a long time fan who goes by the name of "Moose" started a thread called
The RADICAL Change Coming to ATP Rankings based on an article from the online paper Globe and Mail with the same headline. Many fans have done analyses of just what the changes will mean especially for that player on the verge of the top 100 who has used the traditional route of playing Challengers to boost his ranking. It appears that those players are going to get screwed and banished to a second tier tour with a point distribution and ranking structure that will make it virtually impossible for them to advance into the upper echelons of the mens tour.
But wait, Justin Gimelstob has taken it on himself to explain it all. You heard me. The same man who said that his brother should take care of
Anna Kournikova and not in a nice way responded to the article.

Tom, I appreciate your desire to gain understanding of the new points system. I see the points you emphasized in your article but this was our thinking in implementing the new system.

1. Our main goal was to simplify the points system so people could understand it better; the old system had too many layers that few but tennis insiders could comprehend. The new system has a clear differentiation between tournament categories, obviously each lower category has half of its higher category.

2. We wanted to put a premium on winning tournaments and reward the winner more significantly. Therefore the finalist went from getting 70% of the winner's points to 60%.

3. After that we went to work to try and find similar values in point distribution. Obviously it wasn't possible to accomplish that exactly but we did the best we could. Thus getting to the finals of a 500 is equivalent to getting to the semis of a 1000 (similar to what we have right now). Same is true with other rounds.

4. There is no doubt that players that win events at any level will be rewarded generously and have a chance to make significant gains in the rankings but that could be offset by high-ranked players being required to use four 500-level events in their ranking and thus needed to maintain a ratio of success/accomplishment to prevent adversely effecting their ranking.

I see your points, I hope you can see our logic and intention as well. As I am sure you know making changes in a tradition-based sport is always challenging, but our intent was to help fans relate and follow our sport while rewarding players that win tournaments, the ultimate goal of any player."

Regards, Justin

Don't you feel all better now? I know I don't. Under this system we'll always see the same guys at the top events. No one will be able to break through and make a surprising run deep into a major since they won't have the ranking that will let them.

I'm sure there are people in the ATP hierarchy who think they can act as if the reaction to what Gimselstob said was much ado about nothing. In my opinion anyone who thinks the way to retaliate against a woman he doesn't like is to perpetuate sexual violence against her should not be on the board of any organization and should definitely not be trotted out as a spokesman for it's actions.

Late Breaking News



Nine year run marked by unparalleled growth of the US Open, launch of the US Open Series, new innovations for the sport, and acquisition of pro tournaments
Kantarian to work with USTA on succession plan…..planning to step down at year-end

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., October 30, 2008 – Arlen Kantarian, CEO of Professional Tennis, announced today that he is moving on from his role after nine years of record growth for the USTA and the US Open. Kantarian has agreed to work closely with USTA on a succession plan, and is planning to step down at year-end.

Kantarian, a former NFL and Radio City executive, joined the USTA in March, 2000, in the newly created position of Chief Executive, Professional Tennis. During that time, Kantarian spearheaded a new generation of unparalleled growth for the USTA, building the US Open into the highest attended annual event in the world, while increasing its revenues over 80%. This year’s US Open was the most successful in its 40 year history, breaking all previous records for revenues and attendance. In addition, Kantarian developed and launched the highly successful Olympus US Open Series, creating a ‘regular season’ of tennis in North America, linked to the US Open. The Series has doubled viewership and has redefined the television and sponsorship model for the sport.

Kantarian has brought several other innovations to the sport, including the introduction of instant replay with player challenges, the prime-time US Open Finals, live entertainment, and the transformation from green to blue courts – now being embraced by schools and parks across the country. Under Kantarian’s leadership, the USTA secured new television deals with CBS, ESPN, and Tennis Channel which will provide an unprecedented 400 hours of live television coverage in the U.S. next summer.
"I have enjoyed one of the finest rides in sports and entertainment for the last 25 years – with the NFL, Radio City, and the USTA,” said Kantarian. “We have now accomplished all that we set out to do at the USTA, and I attribute that to one of the finest staffs in the business. The best time to move on is when the business is at an all-time high, and a solid foundation has been built for the future. I have no doubt the US Open, Olympus US Open Series, and the sport of tennis will continue to prosper and grow. Meanwhile, I am committed to working with the USTA to ensure a successful transition. And then, some time off with family before taking on the next challenge.”

“Arlen’s leadership and vision have led to the tremendous growth of the US Open and the sport over these last nine years,” said Jane Brown Grimes, Chairman and President of the USTA. “His unique talents have made the US Open the highest attended annual sporting event in the world, and the Olympus US Open Series one of the most exciting breakthroughs for the sport. More importantly, Arlen has helped spark a resurgence in the growth and popularity of professional tennis, and has provided the momentum to continue our growth in future years. His contributions will be missed by players, tournaments, business partners, staff, the Board of Directors, and all those who have worked beside him these past nine years.”

Kantarian has also led the expansion of the USTA’s footprint in the sport through successful acquisitions and investments in several ATP and WTA tournaments and Tennis Channel. The USTA is now viewed as a significant player in the professional sport throughout the country. More recently, Kantarian oversaw the launch of the USTA’s new Elite Player Development program, hiring Patrick McEnroe to lead the organization’s development of the next generation of American champions. In 2008, the US Open was attended by a record 720,000 fans, seen by over 80 million television viewers, and broadcast in over 180 countries worldwide.

Kantarian will continue with the USTA through the end of the year, and will work closely with the USTA leadership on a succession plan.

Official Press Release from the USTA at 3:31p Thursday October 30, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tennis Talk Sunday

by Savannah

The winners get the top of the column this week starting with Roger Federer. Facing his nemesis from last year's indoor season Roger beat David Nalbandian like he stole something. He never let Nalby into the match and delivered a beat down that had Nalbandian cursing to himself at the end.

In what has become the post Final tradition Roger is seen feeding the ball kids. Nice gesture.

In what was an obvious relief for her Ana Ivanovic played domineering tennis and like Roger, never let her opponent Vera Zvonareva, into the match.

With the announcers talking about her still alleged relationship with Fernando Verdasco Ana obviously put all distractions out of her head in winning Linz. She should have a postitive mind set going into Doha.

Like him or not I guess we're going to have to get used to seeing Andy Murray. He's been the hottest player of the indoor season winning three of the last four events he's played.

This week he added the St Petersburg trophy to his collection. I didn't see the match so I can't say how his opponent played. The scoreline indicates Murray didn't have any problems.

Another man who is not on my list of favorites, Robin Soderling, won Lyon this week.

In what appeared to be the match of the day Elena Dementieva overcame Caroline Wozniacki in Luxembourg. I was watching on my new laptop and for some reason I couldn't get the download I needed to watch from the official site.

Elena has had a pretty good year and I look forward to seeing how she competes at Doha.

Tennis News
It's official. The WTA announced that Jelena Jankovic has secured the year end number one ranking. To quote from the release:

ST. PETERSBURG, FL (USA) – Following an intense and unprecedented year-long battle for the No. 1 ranking that witnessed five different players holding the top position, Jelena Jankovic will conclude the 2008 season as the No.1 player in the world, the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour announced today. Jankovic, who will lead the singles competition at the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships – Doha 2008, will emerge as the year-end No.1 regardless of the results at the Championships. Currently holding 4,555 points in the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Rankings, Jankovic holds a commanding lead over Dinara Safina (3,782) and Serena Williams (3716), clinching the season-ending top ranking with mathematic certainty.

The 23-year old secured the year-end No.1 ranking by winning 12-straight matches en route to three consecutive titles – the China Open in Beijing, the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart and the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. As a result, Jankovic increased her 2008 singles title count to four, having also won the Tier I 2008 Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome.

“It has been a truly amazing year for me,” Jankovic said. “Winning four Sony Ericsson WTA Tour titles, over 60 matches and to make it to two semifinals and a final in the Grand Slams of 2008 is a dream come true. I worked really hard this year and to finish No.1 is where I want to be and where I hope to stay.”

“Jelena has had an incredible 2008 season and earned the year-end No. 1 ranking,” said Larry Scott, CEO of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. “Jelena’s entertaining all-court game and off-court charisma have attracted millions of fans around the globe, and helped make this season one of the most memorable in recent memory. The battle for the No. 1 ranking is sure to remain fiercely competitive in 2009, and no doubt Jelena will be among those players vying for the top spot again.”

Congratulations to Jelena and her fans.
The WTA also announced that Venus Williams and Vera Zvonareva will round out the field at Doha. I don't think they'll be asking anyone to fall on their sword so someone else can make the final eight do you?
Of course that's not to say that someone won't withdraw. Hey, I'm just sayin'...
On a Sad Note

My condolences to the family of Federico Luzzi who passed away suddenly this week. Federico took ill last week and was diagnosed with an extremely acute and aggressive form of leukemia. He was twenty eight years old.
Antoni Nadal Interview

The out takes - the part of an interview that will not appear in the official version, were published by Peter Bodo. Here are some excerpts of the excerpts.

Toni Nadal is a mentor...When El Jon Wertheim and I sat down with him at the US Open to plumb his coaching philosophy and background, neither of us knew exactly what to expect. Even to us as journalists, Toni has been a somewhat enigmatic figure - was he support team, family member, minder, tactician, strategist, emotional anchor? Although he's been a bona fide tennis coach for decades (he once coached the no. 2 junior in Spain), it's almost impossible to get Toni to focus on the X's and O's - so much so that neither El Jon nor I even thought to ask him about strategic or technical issues, except in terms of Nadal's development (Did anybody ever try to change his radical style, we asked?).

When we opened the conversation with a broad question about his strengths and assets as a coach, it opened the floodgates on philosophy of life, rather than philosophy of tennis. And the two most striking words in Toni's first answer were "normal" and "discipline."
I feel safe saying that you'll be nothing less than astonished at the degree to which Rafael's (Toni never calls his nephew and protege "Rafa") development was more like basic training in life than an advanced education in tennis, with an emphasis on all the bells and whistles currently attached to our views of fitness, technique, nutrition and even equipment. Hail, Toni actually chose to practice on lousy courts with bad balls, just to teach young Rafael that winning or losing isn't about good balls or courts or strings or lights. It's about attitude, discipline, and perhaps most importantly, perspective.

Q: Are you concerned, as a human being, that Rafael is just being driven and pushed like a racehorse, and suffering in other aspects of his life, or education?

A: I was in university, but to me it’s not very important. For me, the important thing in life is to have an interest in things. I come here to learn something about American people. I like to see the television, what people are watching. To me, the thing is to be interested, maybe read newspapers. At the moment, young people not too interested in things. Is a pity. But when you spend so much time to be a good tennis player, journalist, business manager, you cannot do much else.
Q: Are a man like you and a youngster like Rafael comfortable, culturally, at a place like Wimbledon?

A: Well, I have a different concept of life. I believe that all these formalities are just because of where it is, and I understand it. But I like a more normal life, and I think Rafael is a more normal person.

For example, (Carlos) Moya is a very kind person, a good person, but he was here and when he need a car I see that he told his coach, “Phone for the driver.” When you get used to doing nothing for yourself, it’s too easy. With Rafael, I say in that situation, do it yourself. It’s better. This was my work with him.

For me, at the moment it seem that young people have not too much interest in things, because everything is too easy for them. When I have a mobile phone, is easy, all the things. You want meeting with friend, boom-boom, it's done. When I was young, studying in Barcelona, when I came home I didn't know where my friends were. I had to go look for them. Today, it's easier, but people have no great interest in learning and knowing things. This is normal, but maybe not so good.

The full interview will be published in the January/February issue of Tennis. Please go Here for more details.

Rafael Nadal
was awarded the Prince of Asturias award for sports this past week in Oviedo Spain.

From Wikipedia:
The Prince of Asturias Awards (Spanish: Premios Príncipe de Asturias, Asturian: Premios Príncipe d'Asturies) is a series of prestigious annual prizes given in Spain by the Fundación Príncipe de Asturias to individuals, entities, organizations or others from around the world who make notable achievements in the sciences, humanities, or public affairs. The awards are presented in Oviedo, the capital of the Principality of Asturias at a ceremony presided by Felipe, Prince of Asturias. The Prince of Asturias Awards were established in 1981. A sculpture expressly created by Spanish sculptor Joan Miró is presented to the yearly recipients.
Congratulations Rafael.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday Tennis Talk

by Savannah

Yes, again. I took a break again this week. This time I was watching the Masters Series event in Madrid as well as the women's event in Zurich once a live feed was up. Like Flavia Pennetta I wasn't aware that this was the final Zurich tournament. I guess the event is being kicked to the curb to make way for the new joint ATP/WTA event that will take place in Madrid. Sometimes you get so much information the little details pass you buy. Sorry to see the event go to be honest with you. It's reported that Beat Ritschard, the long time Tournament Director, cried during the closing ceremony. It's still amazing to me that other than the fairly weak protest by the Russian women last week nothing has been done publicly among the players to fight for events like this one and Amelia Island, both of which have history for the women.

I posted this a few days ago but for those of us who suffer from CRS (Can't remember shit) here is what the end of the year will look like for the WTA.

Oct 05 - Beijing (MANDATORY)

Oct 12 - Linz (no Top-10 players)
-------- Japan Open (TBC) (no Top-10 players)
-------- Singapore (no Top-10 players)

Oct 19 - Moscow (seven Top-10 players)
-------- Luxembourg (no Top-10 players)

Oct 26 - WTA Tour Sony Ericsson Championships - Doha

Nov 02 - Fed Cup Final
--------- Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions - Bali***

Some fans like the splitting of the WTA tour into two. I don't.

Seen and Heard Around Last Week

From Serena's Blog

Can u guys believe?!!! I'm back!!!

I've been so busy! But I wanted to write something real quick.

I'm in Hawaii surfing, and practicing and having fun!

What do u think of my technique?

Will I come back tonight! I promise to keep u updated!

Why do people always take pictures of my A$$??? Ughhh

Serena is obviously objecting to some pictures taken of her on the beach with her good friend who goes by the name of Common. I won't publish the pictures she objects to here. I happen to like the one I did.

Novak's Big Adventure
Apparently the Djokovic family wants to make sure their progeny has a place to play for quite some time. Maybe Srdjan got tired of berating the Serbian press for not fawning over his eldest son enough. Whatever the motivation they're buying a tournament. Amersfoort has now been purchased by the family and will be moved to Serbia according to and other sources. If the ATP approves the transaction the tournament will be held in May.
In other news the current family star Novak Djokovic is saying in this Yahoo Article
that he needs more physical strength.
“Physical strength is something I’ve been trying to focus on lately,” the 21-year-old Serb told The Associated Press in an interview at the Madrid Masters. “I’m aware that this has been one of my issues in that I haven’t been recovering well from long matches and long tournaments.”
“My game is based on the base line, so I’m running all over the court, stretching, with quick moves, putting a lot of pressure on the body,” he said.

With Federer, in contrast, “it’s just beautiful to watch the way he plays, the way everything goes with ease.”

Djokovic, who was eliminated from the Madrid tournament by Ivo Karlovic on Thursday, said his energy-draining style is one of the reasons he has struggled with injuries lately.

“I don’t like how I have got a reputation as a guy who asked for medical timeouts to intimidate opponents,” he said. “It’s not me trying to provoke my opponent. It’s me trying to win.”

Ask Gael Monfils about how you try to win next time you see him Novak okay?

The Winners Circle

Andy Murray won his second straight Masters Shield in Madrid.

Venus Williams won the last Zurich tournament over nemesis Flavia Pennetta in straight sets. Since this is the end of Zurich here's a picture from the closing ceremony showing Flavia, Venus, the mayor of Zurich and the Tournament Director.
Thanks for all the great tennis.

Doubles Winners
Cara Black and Liezel Huber defeated Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Patty Schnyder.

The Polish team of Marcin Matkoswki and Mariusz Fyrstenberg overcame the team of Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles

End Notes
It should be mentioned in passing that Venus had to win her match twice. A ball that looked like it clipped the line - no Hawkeye - was called out by the chair Mariana Alves. A second ball that looked clearly out was called in. The woman is incompetent. It's nice to know that chair umps like Lynn Welch are around. Some give props to Alison Lang but I'm yet to be convinced. As for the male chair umpires somehow you know when you see
Carlos Bernardes, Mohammad Lahyani, or Pascal Maria you know the chair will only be involved in an extreme emergency. Thanks for the good work.

Year End #1

Jelena Jankovic and Rafael Nadal have clinched the coveted ranking. They are the first from their respective countries to do so. There's no argument about Rafa this year is there and despite some misgivings there really shouldn't be one about Jelena. She played by the rules and is ranked number one. Congratulations.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday Tennis Talk

by Savannah

Usually Sunday's post is easy. I gather pictures of the winners of the past weeks tournaments and post them with short comments. I am going to do that but the last few days have been so full of tennis news I'm taking the unusual step of demoting the weeks stars to a position later in the post.

So where to start?
Well how about Roger Federer? After that announcement on his official site last week making it sound as if he was not going to play the rest of the year he shows up in Madrid ready to play.

Ironically that isn't the biggest talk out of Madrid. Juan-Carlos Ferrero, formerly the top Spaniard, was totally dissed by the Spanish tennis establishment and not given a wild card into the Main Draw at the Madrid Masters, the biggest ATP event to be held in Spain. That Wild Card, due to some deal Ion Tiriac made with the Italians rumor has it, went to Marat Safin. Marat as most fans know is not a stranger to the Spanish tennis powers that be. The other wild card went to another Spanish player Albert Montanes. The third spot went to Fabio Fognini of Italy. Spanish tennis fans didn't let this pass without comment. Juanqui was quoted as saying Manolo Santana didn't call him directly and publicly stated he would not accept an invitation after the fact. Of course this wasn't the end of it. Marat withdrew this afternoon citing a shoulder injury and was replaced by another Italian, Lucky Loser Simone Bolelli.

The Davis Cup Final

The ITF has spoken. Last week I posted pictures of the construction that had begun on the Orfeo arena in Cordoba so that additional seating would be available to meet the ITF's stated requirement that a minimum of 12,000 seats be provided. I'm sure you know by now that the ITF has chosen Mar del Plata. Rumors of pay back by the highest level elected officials in Argentian swirl. All that was missing was comment from David Nalbandian who was acting as spokesman for the DC team. Here is a much edited translation from the original Spanish. I used Google to translate from the Spanish and then edited the machine translation. I hope I stayed true to the meaning of the Spanish.

STOCKHOLM - The Argentine tennis star David Nalbandian has threatened not to play Davis Cup expressing his annoyance at the choice of Mar del Plata over his home city of Cordoba. "I hope that the Argentine Tennis Association (AAT) continues to support the players as they said at first. If not, we'll see if I play," Nalbandian said in an interview published by the daily Clarin. The player confessed to being very upset by the decision of the International Tennis Federation (FIT) to choose to host the final in Mar del Plata and not Cordoba, the capital of the eponymous province in which he was born on winning today's Stockholm Open. Both Nalbandian as well as the rest of the Argentine team had expressed their intention of playing the final in that city to take advantage of its location, 600 meters above sea level. It seemed a done deal that Cordoba would host the final until Friday when the ITF chose Mar del Plata which had been proposed by the AAT as a second option and provoking the anger of Nalbandian. The Cordoban has even sent a letter asking for explanations to the AAT. "The AAT said that they were going do what the players wanted. Therefore we ask the reasons. It was all very strange," said Nalbandian, who in his first reaction was of the view Friday that there had been "something under the table "for this decision. Nalbandian told Clarin that the request for explanations involves the entire team and said that the AAT "not telling the truth of things." The governor of the province of Cordoba, Juan Schiaretti, considered that the election of Mar del Plata to host the final, which will be held in November, has been to "give advantage to Spain" over Argentina.

Is David going to play? My initial reaction is "of course". Stay tuned.

WTA Player Boycott?
The women of the WTA are finally beginning to speak out. Not all of them of course. Leave it to those feisty Russian women, Dinara Safina and Svetlana Kuznetsova both spoke out about the glaring problems with Roadkill in this BBC Article

"They said the leading players would have to play in designated tournaments while lower-ranked players would be able to enter any event they like," said Safina after losing to fellow Russian Vera Zvonareva at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow on Saturday.

"There's no logic in that at all. What if all the top players choose to enter the same tournament? What will the WTA do then? We want to know. There are a lot of grey areas."

Former US Open champion and world number two, Svetlana Kuznetsova, agreed with her compatriot.

"I was told only two players from the top 10 could enter a smaller tournament like the Kremlin Cup next year," said the current world number seven.

"What if Jelena Jankovic and Serena or Venus (Williams) want to play here?

"Then all the top Russian players, and there are five of us in the top 10, will not be able to play in their home tournament. That's nonsense."

Larry, it's your serve.

Sunday's Winners

David Nalbandian picks up where he left off last year winning the Men's Singles Championship in Stockholm, Sweden.
Philipp Petzschner of Germany holds the BA-CA trophy as the 2008 Mens Singles Champion.

Jelena Jankovic just keeps on going. She won the Ladies's Kremlin Cup.

In what was the biggest surprise for this fan Igor Kunitsyn
played what some say was the match of his life against fan favorite Marat Safin in Moscow. I got up in time to see the end of the match, the last shot in fact.

Doubles Champions

Nadia Petrova and Katerina Srebotnik Women's Doubles Champions - Kremlin Cup

Max Mirnyi and Andy Ram Men's Doubles Champions Wien 2008

Jonas Bjorkman and Kevin Ullyet Men's Doubles Champions Stockholm 2008
Congratulations also go to Sergei Stakhovsky and Potito Starace the Mens Doubles Champions in Moscow.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tennis Talk

by Savannah

Jelena Jankovic
is the number one ranked player on the WTA Tour and once again the argument rages as to whether she is a worthy number one. To define the sides in this debate. Does the number one player mean that said player has racked up the most points and is by that measure number one? Or does being number one mean that said player has played the best tennis, won at least a major during the last fifty two week period, and shown the mental and physical skills in their matches to make them worthy of being called best in the world?

To quote "Oswald56" from Tennis Forum

Of the current top ten only Serena, Sharapova, Venus, Ivanovic and Safina (just) have winning records against the rest of the top ten, Jankovic doesn't (25-31). Whether she wins a slam or not she's certainly not a great player. Her high ranking is due to her racking up a lot of victories against lower ranked players.

Jankovic is not the first player to inspire this debate. Kim Clijsters ascension to number one was also widely questioned. She was called by some tennisheads "Cupcake Kim" for the soft draws she received. Those draws allowed her to rack up a lot of points and propel her to number one. She did eventually win a Slam - The US Open - but soon after retired to marry and start a family.
Lindsay Davenport was also number one without benefit of a Slam victory for quite some time.

On the ATP side I remember when Marcelo Rios became number one and the firestorm it caused. He is still considered one of the best never to have won a Slam.
I don't think Jankovic will ever be put into that category. And that is where the problem lies.

As the poster above says she is not a great player. The deficiencies in her game are many. But over the last couple of years she has played a lot of tennis and piled up the points. It's why when the better players lose, as happens in tennis, she was poised to take over the number one spot. No one can doubt that Serena Williams and
Dinara Safina (for the second part of the year) have been the dominant players. Ana Ivanovic is in a slump right now. Maria Sharapova pulled out with injury for the rest of the year. Venus Williams is playing indoors this year which says to me she wants it too. With the exception of Sharapova I would say all of these women have better all around games than Jelena. They just don't play as many tournaments. For example Jelena is now on her third tournament in a row, the Tier I in Moscow. Win or lose she's going to pad her point total.

As long as ranking is determined by a point system, with no weighting of wins in terms of the tournament's importance, there will be number one players who are there strictly on points. Several fans are advocating a return to some sort of "quality point" system where it's not only that you won but who you beat getting there. There are problems with that system as well since it was scrapped in favor of the present one.

Fans don't like Jelena's on court behavior, the "medical" time outs, the whining, the gamesmanship. You don't see the best act that way on court. Despite that I don't think all the noise is about her on court behavior it's about her level of play. With the WTA switching to a two tiered tour, something I've been against from the beginning, we are likely to see more of this kind of number one. Unless the fans, and players, rise up against the point system I don't think Larry Scott and his minions will change things from the way they are now.

The Roadmap

I mentioned the Roadmap above. Just so we're clear about why it's called "RoadKill" in many circles here is the WTA 2009 schedule. Thanks to tennishead "Missinandre" for the information.

The # in parentheses indicates how many top 10 players that tourney is allowed to have

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)


Feb 02 - Fed Cup I

Feb 09 - Paris Indoors (one Top-6 and two Top-13 players OR two Top-6 players)
--------- Pattaya City (no Top-10 players)
--------- Vina del Mar (no top-10 players)

Feb 16 - Dubai (seven Top-10 players)

--------- Memphis (no Top-10 players)
--------- Bogota¡ (no Top-10 players)

Feb 23 - Bangalore (no top-10 players)
--------- Acapulco (no Top-10 players)

Mar 02 - Antwerp (no Top-10 players)
--------- TBC (no Top-10 players)

Mar 09 - Indian Wells (MANDATORY)

Mar 23 - Miami (MANDATORY)

Apr 06 - Amelia Island (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 II

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)
--------- Estoril (no Top-10 players)

May 11 - Madrid (MANDATORY)

May 18 - Berlin (no restrictions on the number of Top-10 players)
--------- Strasbourg (no Top-10 players)


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)


Jul 06 - Budapest (no Top-10 players)
-------- Stockholm (no Top-10 players)

Jul 13 - Prague (no Top-10 players)
-------- Palermo (no Top-10 players)

Jul 20 - Portoroz (no Top-10 players)
-------- Warsaw (no Top-10 players)

Jul 27 - Stanford (one Top-6 and two Top-13 players OR two Top-6 players)
-------- Istanbul (no Top-10 players)

Aug 03 - Los Angeles (one Top-6 and two Top-13 players OR two Top-6 players)

Aug 10 - Cincinatti (seven Top-10 players)

Aug 17 - Toronto (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)
--------- Kolkata (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 (TBC) (no Top-10 players)
-------- Singapore (no Top-10 players)

Oct 19 - Moscow (seven Top-10 players)
-------- Luxembourg (no Top-10 players)

Oct 26 - WTA Tour Sony Ericsson Championships - Doha

Nov 02 - Fed Cup Final
--------- Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions - Bali***

***Best seven performers in the international level tournaments (who have not otherwise qualified for the Sony Ericsson Championships), along with one wildcard will participate in a Round Robin format.

Note the pattern here? Some venerable tournaments will die. Newer tournaments, which should have to compete for players and fan loyalty like the others did in the past, will thrive because they've been made mandatory. I was taken back by the Pilot Pen now having no restrictions on the number of top ten players since it comes right before the US Open and at the end of the grueling US Open series.

I don't like it. There should be one tour and every woman should have her choice of where to play. You will have a Second Tier tour champion and a Main Tour champion. Let's hope this schedule goes the way of Round Robin in the ATP and quickly.

Sony Ericsson Race to the YEC
Top Ten Only


ATP News

To absolutely no one's surprise Carlos Moya was voted by fans to receive the first wild card for the Madrid Masters.The poll is conducted every year by a Spanish newspaper. Here are the vote totals.

Poll Results:

Moyá - 73.39%
Gulbis - 8.74%
Baghdatis - 8.07%
Ljubicic - 7.11%
Dancevic - 2.69%

The Race to Shanghai Rankings

Top Ten only

01 (01) Rafael Nadal (ESP) 1265 (15)
02 (02) Roger Federer (SUI) 921 (--)
03 (03) Novak Djokovic (SRB) 899 (03)
04 (04) Andy Murray (GBR) 520 (11)* * 0 pointer included as one of optionals.
05 (05) Nikolay Davydenko (RUS) 417 (22)
06 (06) Andy Roddick (USA) 354 (22)
07 (07) David Ferrer (ESP) 337 (15)
08 (08) James Blake (USA) 309 (15)

09 (10) Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) 307 (--)
10 (09) Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) 286 (03)

Idle Chit Chat
Some pics from Moscow.

Svetlana Kuznetsova

Flavia Pennetta and Potito Starace

Alize Cornet

Marat and his latest.

Late News
Hamburg isn't finished with the ATP. Here is a translation of the original German:

The German Tennis Federation will appeal together with the Qatari Federation the verdict in the lawsuit with the ATP. This announced the president of the German Tennis Federation, Georg von Waldenfels on Tuesday at a press conference at Hamburg Rothenbaum.

The objective of the appeal is beside the preservation of the Masters Series status the assertion of amends. "We want to save the value of the tournament and that's why we appeal together with the Qatari Federation", says von Waldenfels, who can't comprehend the verdict.

The court in the US-state Delaware entitled the ATP to downgrade the Hamburg tournament. The traditional event at the Rothenbaum will be downgraded from 2009 into the second category. Now it is planned to play a 1.2 million$ 500-points-tournament from July 20th until July 26th.

I think they want to be monetarily compensated.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Some Unfamiliar Sunday Faces

by Savannah

Eighteen year old Sorana Cirstea of Romania won her first WTA tour title at Tashkent, the most ignored tournament of the week.

Looks like 1990 was a good year for women tennis players. Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark came into Tokyo as the top seed and won.
I'm sure some will argue that these are not top tournaments - Tashkent was a Tier IV and Tokyo a Tier III but you have to start somewhere. Congratulations to both young women.

Dmitry Tursunov had a very good week and ended up winning the Moselle Open. That trophy, nicknamed the Alien Baby trophy, will make a unique addition to his trophy room. Congratulations Dmitry.

Jelena Jankovic won her second straight title in two weeks at Stuttgart. From all accounts it wasn't the prettiest match to watch but a win is a win. She should hand that Porsche over to her coach no?

In the upset of the day Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic beat Juan Martin Del Potro in straight sets, neither of which was even close.

Doubles Winners

Jill Craybas/USA and Marina Erakovic/NZL won the women's doubles.

The team of Mikhail Youzhny of Russia and Mischa Zverev of GER defeated top seeds Leander Paes and Lukas Dlouhy.


Olga Savchuk of Ukraine and Raluca Olaru of Romania took home the trophy.

The Wild Card team of Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany and Patty Schnyder of Switzerland took out top seeds Kveta Peschke of the Czech Republic and Renae Stubbs of Australia in straight sets.

Frenchmen Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra retained their championship. They defeated the top seeded Polish team of Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski 5-7, 6-3, 10-8, a repeat of the 2007 doubles championship match.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Seen and Heard Around 10/04/2008

by Savannah

Davis Cup 2008

From the ITF as of 10/01/2008

2008 Davis Cup Final - venue update
Two venues, the Orfeo Superdomo in Cordoba and Estadio Polideportivo in Mar del Plata, have been proposed by the Argentine Tennis Association to host the 2008 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Final between Argentina and Spain scheduled 21-23 November.

The ITF, through the Davis Cup Committee, makes the final decision about the selection of venues for the competition especially the final. This decision will be made after the completion of site visits to both venues and is likely to be announced by the end of next week.

According to the rules of the competition, there must be a minimum of 12,000 seats for the Final. In the case of both proposed venues, the capacity will have to be increased to meet the ITF’s minimum standards and an assessment of the written plans and proposed timetable for this reconfiguration will be taken into consideration as part of the evaluation process before a final decision is made.

The ITF will have no further comment regarding the location of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Final until a final decision is announced.

Meanwhile in Cordoba Argentina:

You got it. Work has begun to add the seats that will bring the Orfeo Arena's capacity to 12,000.
The ITF's inspector was photographed in Mar del Plata. She's in the green sweater.

I didn't know that alcohol is not sold in stadiums in Argentina. That doesn't stop the selling of what has been labeled the national drink, fernet and cola, outside of the sporting arenas. What is fernet you ask? According to Wiki:

Fernet Branca is a popular brand of amaro produced in Milan, Italy. It is a bitter, aromatic spirit made from over 40 herbs and spices, including myrrh, rhubarb, chamomile, cardamom, aloe, and saffron, with a base of grape distilled spirits, and colored with caramel coloring.
Because of its mysterious list of ingredients, there are a number of home remedies that call for Fernet-Branca, including treatment of menstrual and gastro-intestinal discomfort, hangovers, baby colic, and (formerly) cholera.
Wildly popular in Argentina, it is often taken as a national beverage. The most common preparation is with Coca-Cola...

Fernet has recently gained popularity the Czech Republic where it is served as a shot, or with tonic in a tall glass.[citation needed]

The drink has been popular in San Francisco since before prohibition...

Fernet Branca and coke, Argentine style.
Alrighty now. Read tennis blogs and learn all kinds of good stuff. No wonder they're all fired up when the matches start.

Many fans looked at the Juan Martin Del Potro vs
David Ferrer match in Tokyo as a Davis Cup preview. Long story short, Ferrer will not play JMDP unless it's a dead rubber and I can't imagine Argentina playing JMDP in a dead rubber.

Got the picture binky? Good. In my humble opinion David Nalbandian is going to play the first singles and Del Potro the second. I don't think it's going to matter what Delpo does in Europe during the indoor season, Nalby will play the first rubber. David has been very vocal and been the players spokesman since Argentina beat Russia and it's obvious he considers himself the top Argie. If rumors are true and he's having hip surgery at the end of the season - read after Davis Cup - then he wants to do very well here. Captains Mancini and Sanchez have some interesting decisions ahead of them.

Sportsmanship and Tennis

In a move tennis dads like Srdjan Djokovic and
Yuri Sharapov surely envy Ricardo Sanchez, coach of the women's number one Jelena Jankovic pulled the stunt of the year. Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. The stunt of the year goes to Mr. and Mrs. Djokovic for siccing security on French fans during the Oz open. Second stunt of the year happened with the same pair having to be told to shut up by none other than mister cool, calm and collected Roger Federer. Still Sanchez' actions during Jankovic's match against Venus Williams in Stuttgart today has to rank in the top three for the year.
What did he do? Well aside from not even trying to hide that he was coaching his charge during the match he actually pulled out a stopwatch and from reports I've read waved it around to protest how long Venus was taking between serves. I didn't see it so if anyone did please let me know exactly what he did. I haven't been able to find any pictures of the incidents either.

I do know that among those who did see it there is nothing but contempt being piled on Jankovic, and in a surprise, her sainted mother as well. Some are blaming the chair umpire for not taking control of the match. Others say Jelena's whining about too much time while on her serve she wandered around behind the baseline, wiped her face, blew her nose and otherwise dawdled is in pot meet kettle territory. Tennisheads also disliked her calling a medical time out up 5-2 in the third set.

Regular readers know I started out as a fan of Jelena because of her tennis. She has improved her game and is playing very good tennis right now. But all the bullshit has turned me against her. I can't appreciate a player's game when they're limping one minute and running like a gazelle the next. Longtime tennis fan "Foxylicious Khat" posted the following on the women's tennis site Tennis Forum in response to a fan saying that Richard Williams has probably done something similar in the past.

Tell us about these questionable things. And please let then relate to tennis on court because, nobody is talking about what Richard has done away from tennis matches so please spare us. We are talking about JJ on going antics on court, her injury timeouts at times that benefits her, her whining for the most insignificant things. This we all saw and that's why we can talk. I will never forget her something's in my eye tirade at Wimby last year against Marion, pulling out her compact etc. And then add her coach's behaviour today to this is beyond ridiculous.

It is true that no one is perfect but until Richard pulls out a stopwatch, shout at Venus and or Serena's opponents, etc DURING A MATCH then anything else is out of the question, as it relates to tennis and what happens on the court.


Not much more to say is there? Jelena has the most points and will take over the Number One ranking as of Monday. Funny isn't it that her ascension has caused tennis fans to start questioning how rankings are determined in the WTA.

The Sick Bay

Former Number One Justine Henin is having knee surgery next week according to this Belgian site. I say she'll be back next year. Just a hunch. (Insert that winking smiley here.)

Love or hate his style of play I don't think any fan of tennis wanted to see this. Whatever chance Jo Tsonga had of making it to Shanghai may be gone now. If Delpo wins against Tomas Berdych in Tokyo he will be number eight in ATP rankings.

Tennis Talk

Nadia Petrova has quietly moved back up in the rankings. She doesn't make a lot of noise as she goes about her business but the woman has fought her way back and deserves a shout out for her tenacity. A win in Stuttgart will be a nice way to say to the tennis world that she's back.

The final in Tashkent(WTA IV) will feature Sabine Lisicki of Germany against Sorana Cirstea of Romania. In Tokyo
(WTA III) Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki will play Kaia Kanepi of Estonia. It'll be nice when an up and coming junior from the States will be making finals like these.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

An Indefinite Break?

by Savannah

"2008 has been a tough year for me as I was always playing catch up after being diagnosed with mononucleosis at the beginning of the year. I feel fortunate to be healthy again, but I want to remain at the top of the game for many more years to come and go after the #1 ranking again. In order to do that, I need to get a proper rest and get strong again so that I am 100% fit for the remainder of the year or next year. At this point, I am not sure when I will be ready to play again, but I hope to be back at some point before the end of the year..."

Roger Federer
announces he is not playing Stockholm and sounds as if he's not sure when he will play again. The next Masters Event is in Madrid beginning October 13.

For the complete quote see Craig Hickman on Tennis

A lot of fans are saying they knew Roger was not going to play this event. It's been done before and I don't blame them for being suspicious of the timing of the announcement. Stockhholm is the event James Blake has won in the past and plays well at. If David Nalbandian decides to conserve his energy and not come will Blake come in and salvage the draw?

And about the statement itself. It is very somber in tone and while some say the wording is a ploy, a salve to the tournament organizers in Sweden, why the phrase about not knowing if he'll play again this year?

I'm not a Roger fan so I don't know his quirks. The way the announcement is phrased it sounds as if he'll be back for Australia. Some fans say there is no way Roger will skip Basel, Paris and Shanghai. At this point only time will tell.