Saturday, May 24, 2008

Idle Chit Chat

by Savannah

It's time to put up or shut up. The eyes of the tennis world are fixed on Paris, France, the City of Light. Some interesting men and women made it through qualifying. The draws, in some cases twice, have been made. The players have done their publicity work. Tomorrow morning this time my eyes will be glued to both television and internet coverage of play from Roland Garros.

Sooo about that two draw thing. On Friday May 22 I dragged my butt out of bed to log and and watch the interactive draw from Paris along with some online friends via chat. If you ever get a chance to do so it's worth watching. It's exciting to see a draw put together.
Enough of that. It finished, the seeds were placed, and I ran around to get out in time to catch my preferred express bus to work. Imagine my surprise when I logged in and saw the draw. I know I'm getting old and have lost a few brain cells but the draw that was posted was not the draw that had been made while I was watching. This was what was made while people around the world watched.

Due to space constraints you may not be able to read the names. A clearer version is HERE
The official explanation is that Tommy Haas and Sebastian Grosjean withdrew just before the draw ceremony and that the computer still had their names. I'm easy. Everybody has to take the okey doke at some point in their lives so I'll go for that explanation. I still find it odd that when the draw was redone the seeds stayed in the same place. One and two are fixed but everyone? Just sayin'.
There are, as one person put it, a few "challenger draws" inside the main draw. When your top seed doesn't face a top ten player until the quarters, or the top half of your draw seems to have every qualifier known to God and man in it eyebrows should be raised.
Oh yeah, and for those who say draws can't be fixed, please re read what I posted above.

This is an idle chit chat post, the first in awhile, and the last for awhile unless something major happens so here it goes.

Novak Djokovic's father, Srdjan is reported by The Serbian Press to have attacked a broadcast journalist in Serbia for not supporting his son enough on the air. Thanks to a tennishead who goes by the name of "Kitinov Rules" there is this translation.
Srdjan Djokovic, the father of the best Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic , has used a force to enter (inroad) in TV studio of RTS last Saturday , unhappy with the way the commentator broadcasted Novak’s match against Nadal at the Hamburg Masters.

During the second set of the aforementioned match , Srdjan Djokovic unexpectedly came inroad into the TV Studio , and started to yell and verbally attack the commentator Nebojsa Viskovic.

The reason for Srdjan’s verbal attack was that the commentator didn’t cheered enough for his beloved son and being a Serb he must cheer more for Novak . Also nervous Srdjan told the journalist that “ he is not doing his work in a proper manner”

Novak’s uncle (brother of Srdjan) went even further ,and after the match called Viskovic and started to curse and threat personally the commentator.

I don't know how things work in Serbia but I hope Srdjan doesn't think this will win his son fans elsewhere in the world or in the press for that matter.

The drama of the Spanish Davis Cup Team vs Pedro Munoz continues. Four players, Carlos Moya, Nicolas Almagro, Rafael Nadal and Tommy Robredo met with Jaime Lissavetzky, the Spanish sports minister on Thursday. Nicolas Almagro confirms that they were told Munoz will not run for reelection when his term expires in December but that they have no way of knowing if this is true.
For those of you who speak Spanish here is the quote.
Almagro ha confirmado también que el compromiso de Muñoz de no presentarse a la reelección "está escrito", pero agrega que "no se sabe si será verdad o no"
And here is the SOURCE

Serena Williams made her usual pre major stir by stating the obvious.
PARIS (Reuters) - Former world number one Serena Williams said on Friday that Justine Henin's retirement made it the right time for the American to win a second French Open title.

Williams, who was victorious at Roland-Garros in 2002, is the only former winner in the draw for the second grand slam of the year which starts on Sunday.

"It's definitely the right time to win, obviously. It's always the right time but it's unfortunate one of the best players on clay won't be here," Williams, who starts her campaign against compatriot Ashley Harkleroad, told a news conference.

Henin, who won four French Open four titles in the past five years, retired from tennis last week as the world number one, leaving Paris hopefuls with greater expectations than last year.

I really don't understand why people have such a problem with Serena when she says things like this. She's getting more static from fans about her comments than Maria Sharapova did for telling Larry Scott, and the Tour, where to go and what to do when they get there.
The Full Article

The French have proven that it isn't only the USTA that can create cupcake draws. The women's draw for Roland Garros resembles the women's draw from the 2007 US Open. The real action is in the bottom half of the draw which features Serena, Venus, Jelena and Ana. Meanwhile Justine Henin has made the following comments. I'll post in French and then an English translation.

Justine HENIN : «Il est très difficile de prédire qui va remporter le trophée dans deux semaines. Personne ne domine à 100% aujourd'hui. Ma favorite de coeur est Svetlana Kuznetsova. Je l'apprécie énormément. Maria Sharapova ? Elle le peut le faire, évidemment. Elle a les capacités, surtout une grande force de caractère. Elle croit beaucoup en elle, ne baisse jamais les bras. Mais la terre battue est beaucoup moins sa surface. Quinze jours sur terre battue, c'est long, c'est dur, il faut s'accrocher. Elle a moins de maîtrise, moins de contrôle sur cette surface. Cela dépend beaucoup de la forme du moment et elle n'a pas beaucoup joué ces dernières semaines. Je ne miserais pas sur elle à l'heure actuelle.»

She is saying that it is hard to predict who will win. She would like to see Svetlana win it all. As for Maria she says it's not her best surface, she doesn't have the control she needs on it, and that fifteen days is very long and hard. She also says she would not bet on Maria to win it.
From L'Equipe
It should be mentioned in passing that Justine never, ever, got a cakewalk draw in any event she played while ranked number one.

I want to take a minute here and give a shout out to all the fan boards that provide tennisheads information day in and day out, 365 days a year. It is not easy to keep track of Main Tour events for both the WTA and ATP as well as Challenger events, Futures and Exhibitions. Davis Cup and Fed Cup play are also covered.Many fan boards also provide up to date ranking information. This is why so many fanboards have become the go to place for fans needing to know something quick, fast and in a hurry. There are usually small teams of people who cooperate in getting this information to notoriously finicky tennis fans. Good work to everyone involved.

End Notes

Marcos Baghdatis is returning to play at Roland Garros after an almost season long break from match play.
Richard Gasquet is playing in Paris after threatening not to do so. I always thought that he would play his home slam.
Andy Roddick is missing his first Grand Slam in many years due to injury. Make all the jokes you want about Americans and clay but Andy always shows up for Slams no matter what. He is expected to be fit for play by Queens. And keep that snark to yourself!
Nicole Vaidisova is looking to turn her so far disastrous season around on the terre battue. She doesn't have a bad draw but methinks her favorite position right now is prone. Until she gets over that she can't be fully focused on tennis.
I don't expect Marion Bartoli to do well here at all. It would be nice, but I don't think it's going to happen.
Venus Williams is another player I don't think will go far. She's just coming back after a self described hiatus. European clay is not the best place for her but she's there. In the bottom half along with her sister and everyone else who comes to play. All the qualifiers seem to have made it into the top half of the draw. I know I'm back to the draw thing. I'm just sayin'.
Will any American man make it past the second round this year? To their credit James Blake, Sam Querrey, John Isner and other American men have been in Europe for quite some time. Blake has been doing well in doubles play going very deep in some events. Too bad they didn't do this three or four years ago. Donald Young is conceding he has no chance by arriving so late. Of all the Americans I think he has the best chance to become a force on clay.

For a look at both the Men's and Women's draws Craig has posted them both.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Masters Series Hamburg - A Look Back

by Savannah

So a picture is worth a thousand words huh? If that is the case the picture above sums up what Rafael Nadal did to Roger Federer on May 18, 2008 on the heavy red clay of Hamburg, a place that until that date could be said to be Roger's home clay court. The only blemish on Rafa's 2007 clay season was Hamburg where he came in after completing three peats at Monte Carlo, Barcelona, and Roma. Many Rafa fans thought he shouldn't play but he did and made it to the Final where he lost to Roger.

I guess Rafa wasn't tired today. Funny thing about being tired. I read some posts where Roger's fans said he was mentally tired coming into today's match. Really? Let's see, who did he play coming into todays final? No need to post their names, lets just give their ranks as of May 12, 2008. After the first round bye he played Number 27, followed by Number 48. Then there was Number 28. In the semi final, which took just over an hour, he played a man ranked Number 43.

What was Rafa's road to the Final? Again, just giving rankings after the first round bye he played Number 47. After that he played Numbers 14, 12 and 3. Rafa came in rusty after blistered feet kept him from picking up a racquet until the Sunday before the tournament started and it showed. Number 47 pushed hard but Rafa got through.

Now about the man ranked Number 3, Novak Djokovic. He was coming into Hamburg on the heels of some of the worst publicity I've seen dog a tennis player. He quit during his match against Roger at Monte Carlo with a sore throat. His path to the Rome final included a couple of walk overs. In the Final he met someone he had no trouble with. His people did a good job of redirecting the pressure though and not too much was said about his path to the semi final. He played men ranked 39, 24 and 56 respectively. Two things were sure about the semi final match. He could not quit. And he was facing someone who was not going away.

Some of Djokovic's fans are calling the semi final the best match of the year. Uh, no. There have been some good matches this year but top of my list is still Carlos Moya vs Rafael Nadal in India at Chennai. Right behind it would be today's match between Rafa and Roger. Why? It was fought on two levels, the mental and the physical. Except for what seemed to be a cramp that had an agitated and worried Toni Nadal up telling Rafa to quit both men were physically sound. I've seen Rafa come back in matches before. But when he took the court and calmly took the first set from Roger after being down 5-1 at 7-5 I could only shake my head. Roger is Roger and the second set was decided by a tiebreaker 7-6(3). The third set? Stepping up a level mentally Rafa dismantled Roger 6-3 and it really wasn't that close. Credit Roger's skill getting him those three games. The picture above says it all. Roger was beaten soundly. Mirka couldn't even look. There was no fault with his game play. It will be used again against Rafa. But as they say in the streets you'd better be prepared to bring it for as long as it takes.

The commentators on Masters Series Television talked about how subdued Rafa was on court today. There were no leaps and shouts of "vamos", the fist pumps were at a minimum. It was a serious beat down and Rafa's mood on court seemed to reflect that that was his intention. The only glimpse of the Rafa we're familiar with was at the end of the match.

It was a great match, one to sit down and watch again and again.

End Notes

  • Harvey Araton of The New York Times reported the following.

Henin was not, by design, a tour runway model, no Williams sister or Maria Sharapova on the marketing side. For that reason, Scott stepped off a plane Wednesday from Rome to say, of Henin’s stunning exit as it relates to the sport a large, “We won’t lose any sleep over it.”

I have never been a fan of Justine Henin. I have given her the respect her accomplishments deserve over the last year or so, nothing more. But she was number one in her sport when she retired for what seem to be personal reasons. As a CEO Scott is expected to have enough savoir-faire to know how to handle questions from the press. I find the above statement absolutely stunning in it's coldness and dismissive attitude. Some fans wanted to believe that Scott was misquoted. Araton has covered sports for the Times for a long time. I haven't seen any denials.
  • There is a brawl going on in Spanish tennis right now that is jaw dropping in it's vitriol. It has to do with the Davis Cup and where the tie will be played. The choice, Madrid, was made due to financial and political consideration. So why have the players gone ballistic and appear on the verge of getting Pedro Munoz thrown out the door head first? Lies they say. It all goes back to the sacking of popular Davis Cup coaches a couple of years ago. Munoz has hit back with personal, and petty, attacks on the top players in public while sending them nasty SMS emails. All of this, including the emails,is in the Spanish press. Great reading. Reports are Munoz will be asked to resign on Tuesday.
  • After publicly dragging the above mentioned Larry Scott through the mud over what she was and wasn't going to do for the tour Maria Sharapova withdrew from her semi final match against Jelena Jankovic in Rome with a sore calf. Serena Williams had also withdrawn with a back injury.Guess that's something else Larry didn't lose any sleep over. His golden girl will be ranked number one on Monday. All is right with the world.
  • Who cares that the Rome Tournament issued a public apology to the fans for what was a troubling Masters Series/Tier I event? Guess that clay court season schedule worked out well huh? One of the tournaments had to suffer. It was Rome. That suit by the people who run Hamburg is still pending.

...And Still Champion!!!

by Savannah

He was supposed to be washed up and ready to step aside so that someone else could take his place in the rankings. Instead he's pulled further away from the pretender and closer to the reigning champion winning 7-5, 6-7(3), 6-3.
Vamos Rafa!

Returning champion Jelena Jankovic played up and coming French teenager Alize Cornet who came through qualifying to make the Italian Open Final taking out Anna Chakvetadze in her semi final. Jelena made it after Maria Sharapova withdrew with a calf injury. Jelena won easily 6-2, 6-2. Congratulations Jelena.

Nenad Zimonjic and Daniel Nestor 2008 Mens Doubles Champions Hamburg Masters

Congratulations as well to Chan Yung-Jan and Chuang Chia-Jung for winning the Doubles Championship in Roma.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Roma 2008

by Savannah

It started with a bad foot.

Rafael Nadal went out in his first match to Juan Carlos Ferrero after playing a schedule that raised eyebrows. After that it was as if someone spiked the Gatorade. With Rafa out all eyes turned to Roger Federer who was widely expected to finally win Rome. Instead fans, and more than likely the Tournament Director, looked on in horror as Federer went down to defeat at the hands of Radek Stepanek while Americans James Blake and Andy Roddick, playing hard court tennis on the sun hardened European clay, moved on. Blake fell in the quarter finals but he can say he had a good run in Rome.

The mens semi finals featured as unlikely a scenario as one could find in a Masters Series Event. Andy Roddick was to play against Stanislas Wawrinka in what was expected to be a very interesting match, and Novak Djokovic was to play against Radek Stepanek who was playing the best tennis anyone had seen him play in quite some time coming into the match. It should be mentioned in passing that Djokovic reached the semi final via the retirement of
Nicolas Almagro in the quarter finals.

Semi final day at a Masters Series event is one to look forward to. I didn’t have any favorites but I was looking forward to good tennis. So were the fans in the stadium who had paid good money to have their butts in the seats. So was the Tournament Director. Instead the follies continued. Andy Roddick, who had led everyone to believe a man of his wealth and ego actually carried boxes up stairs during the move into the new midtown Manhattan apartment he and his fiancee will share, retired with back spasms and a shoulder issue giving Stan a free pass into the final. Okay, that can happen. There was another match no? No. Radek, looking as if he’d celebrated his win over Roger just a bit too much retired during his match as well giving Djokovic another get out of jail free card ride into the Final. Fans rightly booed. This being Italy I’m sure the security people were glad that’s all they did. The tournament director, probably aware that the last time Wawrinka had faced Djokovic Wawrinka won because – come on guess – Djokovic retired was probably climbing stairs to the top of the nearest tall building. When they finally got the poor guy off that ledge I’m sure he made it clear to both players that the “r” word would not be tolerated for the Final.

So the match went on and Stan, after winning the first set lost the next two to the much fresher Djokovic. Three set wins by Djokovic are always suspect in my eyes. The only difference today was that he lost the first set instead of the second. Usually if he loses the first set he gets ill in the second but I guess the image of the TD teetering on the ledge of that building – and all those ranking points - kept him in the match. Wawrinka seemed mentally fatigued after the first set and went away rather quietly.

Thanks to the inept, some would say sadistic, scheduling of the clay season by the ATP, one of the tournaments had to suffer. I had thought it would be Hamburg coming as it does after Roma, but that was not the case. I always look forward to Rome because for the last three years it has featured matches that many tennisheads consider among the best ever played. In 2005 there was Nadal vs Coria. In 2006 it was Nadal vs Federer. In 2007 it was Nadal vs Davydenko. Nothing epic or memorable happened during 2008. The last man standing – the man who had played the least tennis – won and will add a Master’s Shield to his collection. In my mind there will always be an asterisk for Roma 2008. Next year, unless something drastic happens, Etienne de Villiers “Brave New World” goes into effect and there will be only two clay Master’s Series events, Rome and Madrid. Everything else will be downgraded or no longer mandatory. Shame.

It should be noted that play in Hamburg started today instead of Monday as is usually the case.

She Did It the Old Fashioned Way

by Savannah

Dinara Safina won Berlin in a three set match over her countrywoman Elena Dementieva. On her way to hoisting the trophy she beat Justine Henin and Serena Williams. When you beat those two women back to back nothing but the winners trophy will do.

It's no secret that Dinara can play. She just hasn't done it in quite some time. Maybe because her mother was there all week supporting her she resurrected the form that saw her take down Maria Sharapova after being down 5-0 a few years back.

Congratulations Dinara!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Rafa Loses in Rome

by Savannah

Exhibit A

I think that trumps a sore throat no? We fans know he won't use it as an excuse but seeing how badly blistered his foot was and knowing he still took the court just increases my admiration for him. This will allow him, and us, to criticize that ridiculous schedule ET and his posse came up with for the clay season.


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

TMS Roma 5/6/08 - A Four Match Summary

by Savannah

I was home and got to watch tennis all day. It wasn't a planned day, it just happened. The day started with Andy Roddick facing Mardy Fish. On Monday Fish beat Michael Llodra of France. I didn't see the match but Llodra is no slouch on clay so the match today was highly anticipated. When a news article appeared in which Andy said he had spent a lot of time moving into the new apartment in New York City he'll share with his fiancee many tennis heads took that as Andy sending up the white flag and admitting he was set for a second round exit. Instead of a competitive match Mardy seemed to revert to the role of good friend and played nothing like he had the day before against Llodra. Andy played in his usual style and won easily in straight sets.

Andy's match was followed by another highly anticipated match between Roger Federer and Guillermo Canas. This would be their first meeting on clay. I'm sure Canas and his team watched the tape later to make sure he was really on court against Federer. Roger had no intention of letting Guillermo even think he had a chance. It's not that Willy didn't try. Roger made sure to crush every idea Willy had. Another fairly easy straight set victory and a pretty dull match unless you're a Roger Federer fan.

Then came the match that for tennisheads was interesting but probably got a ho-hum from mainstream media. Fernando Gonzalez was coming off victory in Munich and it can be said he should've been a tad tired. Janko Tipsarevic is the thinking person's Serbian player. Breathing issues? He wears a tape over his nose to assist him in that area just like football players do. Obnoxious family? Never in sight. Oddly timed medical time outs? Not Janko. Drama? Jelena must be playing somewhere this week. Check that tournament out.

Janko took the court with what can only be described as supreme confidence. Not arrogance, just confidence in his game and that he had a good chance of beating his opponent. Janko's confidence had to soar when he took the first set 6-3 over a seemingly befuddled Gonzalez. It looked as if Janko was on his way to a straight set victory when Fernando woke up. He stopped missing and he stopped himself from reverting to his old hit hard and harder style. When the dust settled the set had been leveled at 6 all. Janko still didn't seem rattled. About three minutes later he was. Fernando won the tiebreak 7-0.
The third set turned into a exhibition of clay court tennis at it's best. Great shots. Waiting out your opponent, pushing him into making a mistake by going for too much. Once again after twelve games the score stood at six games apiece and another tiebreaker had to be played. This was no seven zip beat down. Both men played well but Gonzalez, the one who has played big matches before, used all of his experience and pulled out the tiebreak 8-6. Experience won that match for him.

The other great match of the day took place under the stars. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was playing his first tournament after an injury kept him out of competition for a few weeks. He was playing Gilles Simon someone this fan had never seen play before. Simon won the first set over an obviously rusty Tsonga 6-2. When Tsonga fell behind in the second set I went and took care of some personal business thinking Simon would win easily. Wrong. Tsonga had managed to win the second set 6-4 and the two men were preparing to start the third set. Once again Gilles took the lead 5-2 and it looked as if he were on his way to the next round. But Jo had other plans. Patiently, his feet now firmly under him on the slippery red clay he fought his way back, pulling even at five all. Once again at the end of twelve games two players found themselves tied at six games apiece.

As I said above when all else is equal the player who has the most experience to call upon will win. It looked as if Tsonga was going to win when he tightened up and missed both match points he had on his serve. It should be mentioned that Gilles was serving for the match at 5-2 when Tsonga made his run. Simon knowing he'd dodged a bullet with Tsonga missing those two match points calmly closed out the match taking the tiebreaker 8-6.

Both Janko and Jo-Wilfried learned valuable lessons today. When they get over the bitterness and watch the tapes they'll see where they lost their matches and understand why. For me as a fan I enjoyed a day of clay court tennis.

Sunday, May 4, 2008


For the second time in as many weeks Rafael Nadal has completed a four peat. This week it was Barcelona. Felicitacions Rafa!
After the win Rafa went for a swim in the club pool. Nice no?

There were other winners as well this weekend.
The Bryan Twins won doubles on European clay at Barcelona. Americans can win on clay - if they want to.

Continuing with the men Fernando Gonzalez beat back a determined Simone Bolelli of Italy to win Munich.

Munich doubles champions Michael Berrer and Rainer Schuettler

Moving on to the women, Vera Zvonareva of Russia won Prague. She's been playing very well so far this year.

In doubles play the following pairs won.

Hlavakova and Hradecka won in Prague

A. Pavlyunchenkova and S. Cirstea won in Fes.
To round out the women's champions Gisela Dulko won the ladies singles championship in Fes.

Have fun helping Fernando break in that car Gisela!

Friday, May 2, 2008

News From the Royal Courts

by Savannah

There's something about the age fifteen. It's the age when indulgent parents suddenly wake up and realize the monster their child rearing has created. Now aware that the warnings family and friends were giving while the Little Darling went on his or her way were not caused by jealousy mom and dad decide it's time to make Little Darling into a better citizen. No more feet on the table. Parental controls suddenly appear on Little Darling's computer. A curfew is instituted. And when Little Darling talks to his parents as if they're servants he is actually punished for it.

How does Little Darling take this change in his flow? Most Little Darlings I know go from "you can't be serious" to telling his parents where to go and what to do when they get there. There are threats about running away from home. Family secrets are blurted out in public at inopportune moments - the larger the crowd the better. The resolve of the parents is tested. They are in a no man's land. If they back down Little Darling continues to fly out of control. If they stick to their decision Little Darling gets more out of control. It's lose lose until Little Darling realizes their behavior will not be tolerated. The time Little Darling takes to go from "A" to "B," however, may make the parents suicidal.

Why talk about the Little Darlings of the world? I guess because that is what came to mind when I read Maria Sharapova's shots across the bow of the good ship WTA this morning.

Maria took on the WTA over being fined for pulling out of Berlin and for actually demanding that she show up for a photo shoot to promote the WTA!!! The Bastards! How dare they fine Tsarina Maria the way they fine other players!!! And how dare the WTA tour ask Tsarina Maria to participate in a FOUR HOUR photo shoot with those commoners that populate the WTA? Poor dear will have just made a twelve hour flight from Los Angeles and must prepare for her appearance in the Tier 1 event in the Eternal City. Here are the posts from the Tsarina's own official site.

Statement May 1 2008
"As many of you know, the WTA tour makes many players enter tournaments that they know the players will not be playing. I informed the WTA several months ago that if I played Charleston, I would have to pull out of Berlin. Now they are forcing me to give an injury for the reason why I am pulling out or they will give me an additional fine on top of the 125,000 fine already given to me. I am a very giving person, but I refuse to give anymore of my money to the WTA tour.So I want everyone to know that besides getting sick the past few days, I am healthy and I am looking forward to playing Rome. The good news is that the new road map for next year should solve all these problems."

Maria Needs Your Help May 2 2008
I want all my fans to know that the WTA Tour is forcing me and several of the other top players to do a 4 hour commercial shoot for WTA Tour marketing materials. They want me to do this shoot on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday of the Rome tournament after flying 12 hours from LA. I have set my own personal rules when it comes to doing shoots and I never do shoots before tournaments bcause it's mentally draining and I want to just focus on my tennis. Now the WTA is telling me if I don't do this shoot they will fine me over $300,000. As you can see the WTA Tour loves to fine players. To be honest, I would love to do this and help promote the tour as much as possible, but to force me to do this shoot the day before a tier 1 tournament is just not right. I am interested in what my fans think I should do?

1) Should I just do the shoot?

2) Should I NOT do the shoot and take the fine?

3) Should I NOT do the shoot and take legal action against the WTA?

4) Should I contact the other top players and try to boycott the shoot?

5) Other
Needless to say I'm only providing the LINK to the Tsarina's site. If you want to vote go right ahead.

A few things come to mind re reading these.
  • Maria could not be conversant with "Roadkill" otherwise she would not say it will make things better. Mandatories Maria, uh, Tsarina. My bad your majesty.
  • This is an attempt by IMG to try and paint the Tsarina in a more fan friendly light. She is aggrieved I tell you! She's not taking it anymore! They're picking on the poor Tsarina by asking her to live by the rules the rest of the tour lives by. Don't you, her subjects, agree? Of course you do.
  • The Tsarina has gotten away with shit like this before and someone has finally decided they've had enough. I agree with one fan who posted that there must have been some hellified fights behind the scenes for something like this, which is rightly internal WTA business, to see the light of day.
  • Did the Tsarina and her court really think Sony Ericsson was paying her all that money for nothing? Did they never hear the quaint comment "he who pays the piper calls the tune?" or do crude statements like that not make it past the royal gates?

What surprised me to be honest was the outpouring of support for the Tsarina. I don't know if all those supporting her are just enjoying her seeming rage against the system or if they're just of the her shit don't stink school when it comes to the Tsarina. There were a few miscreants who pointed out that Lindsay Davenport had made the same point about the bait and switch tactics used to get fans to come to tournaments a couple of years ago. As thanks for her action Lindsay was then denied wild card entries into events that would normally have granted them to her. Some fans were even bold enough to ask what fan reaction would be if either of the Ladies Williams had aired dirty laundry like this.

What is going to be interesting to watch is the WTA's reaction. Larry Scott, beloved by his family and a few close friends, is like the parents of Little Darling. He created this "golden girl" of tennis. Somehow when she played in the States she always seemed to get cupcake draws. Last years US Open draw was an embarrassment to the tour and a slap in the face to the women who worked hard to get there and deserved nothing more than as fair a chance as a "random" draw could provide. The Tsarina has traditionally had tougher - read balanced - draws in Continental Europe and no one really expects her to do well on the clay. The real test will be the Wimbledon and the US Open Series draws.

I'm sure the last thing Scott expected was for his golden girl to turn on him. But just like the parents of Little Darling he's now got a monster on his hands, one who seems to think she is above the rules of the WTA. I thought that both items, the poll and the statement, would be gone by this evening as cooler heads tried to convince the Tsarina she'd just committed career suicide by biting the hands that have fed her and her court so well the last few years. They've told the Tsarina that she is women's tennis for so long she now seemingly believes it. Like a spoiled and indulged child she's going to need a dose of reality. Let's see if her enablers decide they're not going to take it anymore.

From the Royal Swiss Court
(Oh No He Di'int!)

Roger's been talking up a storm lately. In this
he was questioned by reporter Paul Newman and gave his thoughts on mono, clay courts, his rivals, and whether he would ever coach.

Could Federer ever see himself coaching? "I don't think it would be a problem, though I've realised over the years that it's sometimes not so easy. I can't just tell a guy: 'Do that, do this. It's very simple for me'. For the other guy it might be impossible. I've found this when I'm at a Davis Cup tie and I'm trying to help someone like Stan [Stanislav Wawrinka] or someone ranked maybe 150 in the world. You obviously have to have a different approach.
Note: Stan Wawrinka is a semi finalist at Barcelona this week.

End Notes

  • The Royal Court of Serbia hasn't been quiet. One of the advisors to the Prince is said to have publicly questioned whether King Roger of Switzerland really had mono. The Prince, who recently forfeited a match against King Roger is apparently still suffering from a sore throat that rendered his right arm, legs and the rest of his body useless. The Court Jester, uh, spokesman, Amit Naor, speaking as a broadcaster at Barcelona,went on to say of the Prince of Serbia "Roger is the guy on top, Rafa is the man to beat on clay, and Djokovic is the person to do it".
As soon as he clears his throat I presume.

  • Not all is lost. In the feel good story of the week thirty six year old Younes El-Aynaoui beat Juan Martin del Potro today in Munich to enter the semifinals of that tournament. Glad to see you back, Younes!