Monday, February 23, 2009

Monday Tennis Talk

by Savannah

Blame "Slumdog Millionaire". Oh I know! Blame Brangelina! Mickey Rourke? You can blame him for just about anything. I was kind of pulling for him to win but after his nasty remarks about Sean Penn after the nominations were announced I knew he was out of the running.
See? There's a reason I didn't post on Sunday. I have to see the Red Carpet at the big award shows and this time I stuck around to actually watch the award show. Sound plausible? Good.

Tommy Robredo 2009 Champion Buenos Aires

The Controversy Part II
So after all the drama surrounding the UAE and Shahar Pe'er not to mention fines and all that imagine my surprise when I read this on The Ticker this morning.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says he feels Andy Ram should boycott this week's tournament in Dubai. "I was a bit surprised to discover that Andy Ram did intend to go there," Olmert was quoted as saying by Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz. "It would be highly worthwhile for someone to advise him to demonstrate patriotism and solidarity and boycott the tournament."

The UAE government granted Ram a visa in the face of international pressure following its decision to deny one to Shahar Peer for the women's event last week.

If this is how the Israeli government feels why didn't it comment last week before everything went down the way it did?

In other Middle East related tennis news The Ticker also reports that the city of Stockholm has offered to replace Malmo as the host city of the Sweden-Israel Davis Cup tie next week, which would allow the matches to be open to the public.

The city council of Malmo had decided not allow spectators into the arena during the tie, citing security concerns over planned protests against Israel's actions in Gaza.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 2009 Champion Marseilles

This and That
With the changes in how ranking points are doled out it seems paying attention to who is playing where and when is going to be very important this year. Exhibit A is what happened to the ATP 500 event scheduled in Dubai this week. The original draw looked like a who's who of the top ten men. The tournament that is actually being played features a field minus Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Nikolay Davydenko,
Andy Roddick and Fernando Verdasco. As I mentioned before Roger Federer will not play a 500 event before the US Open and will receive "0" points for each event not played. Clarification is needed. All of the men who withdrew will receive a "0" for the missed event with no chance of making it up. If they had come and all lost in the first round they'd still get a "0" but that could be erased by playing in another event. Clear? Here's a look at how the men stand this week.

D = Dallas
DE= Delray Beach
A= Acapulco

Thanks to ""Judio" for putting this information together and updating it every week.

New Old This Project Low
Rank Rank Player Week Points Opt
1 1 Nadal 0 14360
2 2 Federer 0 10910
3 3 Djokovic 0 8920 D
4 4 Murray 0 7310 D

5 5 Davydenko 0 4715
6 6 Roddick 0 4440
7 7 Del Potro 0 4290 220
8 8 Simon 0 3745 D
9 9 Verdasco 0 3330
10 11 Tsonga 0 3300 200
11 10 Monfils 0 3250 A
12 13 Blake 0 2990 150
13 12 Nalbandian 0 2895 A
14 14 Ferrer 0 2725 D
15 17 Wawrinka 0 2660 0
16 18 Gonzalez 0 2650 120
17 15 Robredo 0 2620 A
18 16 Stepanek 0 2530 50
19 19 Cilic 0 2420 D
20 20 Fish 0 2305 50 De

21 23 Berdych 0 2230 100
22 24 Andreev 0 2060 D
23 25 Safin 0 2040 D

24 22 Soderling 0 2015 90
25 27 Lopez F 0 1995 45
26 26 Gasquet 0 1920 D
27 29 Karlovic 0 1880 D
28 28 Tursunov 0 1875 D

29 30 Ancic 0 1795 45
30 21 Almagro 0 1780 A

Mark Knowles and son Graham celebrate Mark and Mardy Fish' Doubles Victory in Memphis

What makes a match must see? Well Marat Safin faces Richard Gasquet tomorrow in Dubai. Train wreck or instant classic? Won't you kick yourself if you miss it?

Victoria Azarenka 2009 Women's Champion Memphis

Andy Roddick overcame the challenge that is Radek Stepanek and eked out a victory over the man known in some circles as Mack Daddy. I saw the Roddick temperament - I mean what's a Roddick match without a racquet throw or two - but I didn't see the maniacal panicked back and forth, the groin picking (well maybe once or twice) and the arguing for arguments sake from Andy. What I did see was a game plan, stuck to and well executed. He obviously still wants it because he's listening to what new coach Larry Stefanki is telling him and seems to have incorporated what his prior coaches were trying to teach him as well. It is true that the field at Memphis didn't feature any of the big boys - they're over in Europe but will be here for the BNP Paribas Indian Wells and Miami - but it was still a good out of town tryout for Andy. The proof of the pudding will be during those back to back Masters events.

Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra 2009 Doubles Champions Marseille

Maria Sharapova is hitting at Nicky B's place in Florida. There's video on YouTube to prove it. Will she come back for Indian Wells? Maybe. She's not a big fan favorite in Florida - many still remember the incident with Tatiana Golovin a few years back - but her fans are beating the bushes everywhere you turn for her to come back and "stop" Venus and Serena Williams.
Why does someone have to "stop" Venus and Serena when they're the biggest draws on the tour? A lot of these screeds are written by American "fans" of women's tennis. Wonder why the Russian's aren't baying for Maria's return since she carries Russian, not American citizenship? Maybe it's because the Russian women - minus Maria - seem to be doing very well on the tour thank you very much? I claim no inside knowledge as to what Maria will do and make no predictions as to when she will come back. I just wish some of these "fans" would get behind the top American women as vociferously as they do a Russian woman.

Marcel Granollers and Albert Martin 2009 Doubles Champions Buenos Aires

By the way they're still writing essays on how Roger can beat Rafael just in case you thought that cottage industry had gone away. Roger has now stated that he will only play when he's totally fit.

Liezel Huber and Cara Black with Princess Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein 2009 Doubles Champions Dubai

Yet another tennis player is making the pilgrimage to Las Vegas. The Times of India" is reporting that Sania Mirza will spend a week with Gil Reyes at his training center. She will also get to work with Sven Groeneveld who has made working for Adidas famous. Sania is hoping for wild cards into both Indian Wells and Miami.

Andy Roddick 2009 Men's Champion Memphis

There was a women's event in Bogota Colombia last week that seemed to be the tournament that time forgot. I'm sure the winner, María José Martínez Sánchez (seen below) will remember it. There was also a women's event in Memphis. If you're a casual fan you can be excused for not being aware of it. Two of the top new generation women, Caroline Woznicaki and Victoria Azarenka duked it out for the championship. Ms Wozniacki also had a go at this years feel good story star Jelena Dokic at the beginning of the tournament. There was a lot of interest in the women's side of the event but I guess the wiz kids of the WTA missed that memo. There was absolutely no coverage of the women's event to be found. Zero. Zip. Nada. The entire world, except for the United States, could see the men's event via TennisTV for a fee. Great marketing there too kids. You could, if you looked hard enough, find coverage of the men's event, including the final, if you looked hard enough.

Some tennis heads reported that the camera's were turned off during the women's events in Memphis. The only reason I didn't think this was a joke was because there was really a media blackout for the women. One would think with the WTA only holding on to die hard fans right now they'd look for every chance to put their product out there not hide it. It's not like people were going to descend on Memphis in droves to see the new kids but the tennisheads really wanted to see the play here. Instead they were reduced to scoreboard watching and wild guesses as to what was taking place on court. For a tour that consistently ignores it's top players in favor of one, for a tour that is more the butt of jokes among tennisheads instead of being known as a bastion of good play I find it amazing that every chance isn't taken to push the new generation. I know they're looking for a "savior" but in the meantime push the good product you've got. For every final where one contestant has thirteen double faults(that's you Gisela) there is play like that seen in the Dubai quarters, semis and Final. I'm just sayin' guys. Come on already.

Serena Williams was in the stands for her sister's win at Dubai but wild horses (and several time zones) wouldn't keep her from an Oscar's event. She may be bleary eyed. She may be dog tired but here she is attending Elton John's party. I remember those days when mere mention of the word "party" revived the spirit and sleep could be made up tomorrow. Good times.

Meanwhile, in the "Caption This" photographs of the week Venus was seen working out with her (unidentified) coach.

End Note
I leave you with this question. Why do people laugh when Richard Williams is mentioned as a potential Davis Cup coach for the United States? To steal a phrase enquiring minds want to know.


Karen said...

Dang, Serena looks downright anorexic in that photo. As to tennis, there was absolutely no women's tennis to be seen all day Sunday. I am thinking that it is about time that we tennisheads draw up a petition to Tennis Channel regarding when we will actually see tennis on our tv. You would think that with the FO about to start, it would have been nice of them to start showing some of the matches of previous years. Also, it would have been nice for fans to see the finals of the recent AO (regardless of who won). Whenever I turn to the Golf Channel you always seem to see some form of golf tournament going on. Right now, all I am seeing is Murphy Jensen and frankly speaking I am sick and tired of him.

Savannah said...

I don't have Tennis Channel but your complaint is valid.
It's why sports fans in the States who are interested in tennis only know Venus, Serena and Sharapova. This weekend was a disgrace for the WTA as far as I'm concerned.
And you are right about the Golf Channel. They're always showing something to lure the channel surfer in.

Helen W said...

Wow, I can't believe how disappointing it is for the Israeli government to injudiciously weigh in on the subject of whether or not Andy Ram should play in Dubai.

I'm glad that Sweden will move the DC tourney. But their initial decision about keeping the stands empty made absolutely no sense to me.

I thought Serena looked great at the Oscars -- sorry Karen, but she looks in fantastic shape to me.