Friday, February 20, 2009

Tennis Talk

by Savannah

Veteran coach Nigel Sears, speaking to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, on the WTA on-court coaching rule:

"What if a coach is doing something properly? He will expose the weaknesses of the opponent, not just to your own player but to the locker room, the whole of the tournament. That cannot be popular with the players. Yes, it sorts out the monkeys from the good coaches. And there are plenty of monkeys out here, OK? But I think it's purely a commercial exercise.

"When they're under stress and start being irrational or whatever, you've got an inflammable situation. When players get their games dissected by coaches in front of everybody, they're not going to like it. It'll become more and more cutthroat: 'So-and-so's coach said my forehand was crap, so-and-so said I was a choke, so-and-so said I had no talent at all.' You'll get to that stage.
Some coaches don't turn on their mikes while counseling their player which is a violation of the rules regarding on court coaching. I think the whole thing should be scrubbed. It's idiocy and takes away from the sport.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Tennis Channel was widely applauded for deciding not to broadcast any coverage of the WTA Dubai Open due to the Shahar Pe'er situation. In doing so however unless you paid for TennisTV you missed three great women's matches, all involving Venus Williams and Serena Williams.

In yesterdays quarter final match against Elena Dementieva Venus Williams showed why her rank really doesn't matter. Venus, totally dialed in dominated Elena who has been playing very well of late. There was no second set walkabout, no spraying the ball all over the court. Instead there was just an awesome display of Big Babe Tennis by the older of the sisters Williams. A distraught Elena left the court and the arena so quickly her mother couldn't even find her after the match. Along the way Elena cursed out someone or everyone in her box but not speaking Russian I can't tell you what she said. It was a pretty long jag she went on too.

Not to be outdone Serena Williams took the court against media favorite Ana Ivanovic. These days you never know which Ana will be taking the court but the version that showed up yesterday came to play. It was unfortunate that she ran into a determined World Number 1 who was not going to miss the chance to play her sister in the next days semi final. Ana's work with her new coach is already paying dividends. She played confidently and refused to let Serena intimidate her. In the end it didn't matter.

The semi-final match was a roller coaster affair. Venus rode Serena's unforced errors to a 6-1 first set lead in twenty one minutes. Serena returned the favor and powered her way to a 6-2 second set victory. I came in on the middle of the second set with Serena up 3-2 and a murderous look on her face. Two sets had been played in 51 minutes. There was no clear favorite going into the third set.

Serena's left knee was giving her problems but she refused to give into the pain or complain about it. Venus meanwhile decided she wanted to win the match and proceeded to impose her will on the set. Staying focused and making her sister run Venus was hitting winners seemingly at will. Not that Serena was standing there letting her do this. The shot making at one point was vicious and beautiful. It was fitting that the match be decided by a tiebreak which Venus won.

Tomorrow Venus will play Virginie Razzano for the title.
I'm not downplaying Razzano's chances. You never know which Venus will show up.

Venus will be ranked number five in the world after this tournament, her highest ranking since 2003.

ATP Dubai

Rafael Nadal is out.
Roger Federer is out.
Nikolay Davydenko is out.
Fernando Verdasco is out.
Andy Roddick is out.

Replacing them are Ivan Ljubicic, Fabrice Santoro, Teimuraz Gabashviil, Jan Hernych and Sergiy Stakhovsky. Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic are the top players remaining. Murray is already in Dubai. Djokovic is playing a 250 at Marseille.

Did the ATP really think that schedule would hold? I mean Roddick pulled out for what amounts to general principles and is taking the "0" against his ranking. I mean he won this last year. There are back to back Master's 1,000 events coming up in the States. On hardcourts. Davis Cup is next week.
Verdasco has pulled out of Davis Cup and Rafael says he's playing. Roddick, who is now playing in Memphis, would've had to play in Birmingham Alabama, fly to Dubai and then fly back to California for what is now the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells. Federer has pulled out of Davis Cup as well.
What was that line about shortening the season and making things easier for the players?

Speaking of ranking points part of Brave New World requires a player ranked in the top 30 to play a total of four "500 Series" tournaments, three before the US Open. Roger Federer isn't playing any before the US Open and is scheduled to play Tokyo and Basel after the US Open. He seems to be relying on doing well at "1,000 Series" events and Slams which give winning points of 2,000.

End Notes

Anne Keothavong (above) is quietly having a pretty successful first part of the season for Britain. She plays Caroline Wozniacki for a spot in the Memphis final.

Victoria Azarenka is in the Final at Memphis.

Venus strikes a pose for her sister before a photo shoot for Marie Claire magazine.


rabbit said...

There are rumors of Roger planning to play in Barcelona...

Savannah said...

After his statements about only playing when he is completely healthy that is indeed interesting Rabbit.

oddman said...

I highly doubt that, rabbit. I just cannot see Roger coming to Barcelona. I'd be very surprised.