Thursday, March 26, 2009

Heard Around

by Savannah

Kim Clijsters Returns

BREE, Belgium (AP)—Kim Clijsters will return to professional tennis after two years in retirement, saying she has regained the competitive hunger that led to the No. 1 ranking.

“I still have that craving,” the 25-year-old Belgian said Thursday. “I look forward to the challenge.”

Clijsters, who retired in May 2007 to get married and start a family, announced her comeback at the tennis facility where she has been practicing. She plans to enter the U.S. Open, which begins Aug. 31—her first competition at Flushing Meadows since winning her only Grand Slam singles championship there in 2005.

She asked for a wild card into the U.S. Open, along with WTA hard-court tournaments in Cincinnati and Toronto earlier in August.

“I want to be back at my peak as soon as possible, but I know that is not logical to ask that,” Clijsters said. “I will have to take it match by match.”

I have to admit I was never a big fan of Clijsters. For some reason she always got the softest draws possible and ended up in a disproportionate amount of quarter's and semi's. When she did get to a final she usually lost. She did win that US Open though and that made fans like me have to give her some credit. In my mind though she will always be "Cupcake Kim".
What are her chances? Here is another quote from her press conference.
“I am not coming back to lose in the first rounds,” she said. “Otherwise, I might as well go on holiday.”

People are looking at how far Martina Hingis got when she returned to the tour after a long layoff getting as high as number six in the WTA rankings. No offense but Hingis was a better player than Clijsters. I know the WTA is weak right now but I can see Victoria Azarenka wiping up the floor with Cupcake Kim. With Larry Scott gone I'm not sure Kim will have a sympathetic ear at the top.
I know her fans are ecstatic and I don't begrudge them their joy. I just don't see her beating Elena Demntieva in her present form let alone Venus Williams or Serena Williams.
Time, and match play, will tell.

Where My Girls At?

Serena Williams (seen above at the Miami player's party) wants to spearhead a revival of women's tennis in the United States.

MIAMI, March 25 (Reuters) - Serena Williams believes the United States needs to get more tour events if it is to address the lack of American women in the top 100 -- and she could be willing to play a role in bringing about that change.

The world number one is followed by her sister Venus, number six in the rankings, but the only other American women in the top 100 are Bethanie Mattek (37) and Jill Craybas (85).

The anticipated flood of talent following the emergence of the high-profile Williams sisters has no happened with the rankings dominated by East Europeans -- or as Serena puts it: "It seems like there are 12 Russians in the top 10".
The 27-year-old Williams said she could be interested in a role, after her playing days are over, trying to entice tournaments back to the U.S and developing young talent.

"That could be interesting it would be fun to get a lot of support back -- that is the only way we will get the players," she said.

Williams though has not completely given up hope on the next generation of players making the breakthrough.

"There are a few American players coming up, they are really, really young and haven't got attention yet and you never know.

This is an expansion of comments Serena has made in the past about the state of women's tennis in the United States and with all due respect I think she needs to look through different lens at the issue.

There may seem to be "twelve Russians in the top ten" but that is the result of their system. I don't see new tournaments being played in Russia. The new tournaments are in China and Spain not St Petersburg or Moscow. I don't pretend to be an expert on Russian tennis but I do know that none other than Elena Dementieva was turned down by one of the top clubs and went on to play for another one. If there is no "farm system" to use a baseball term the options are limited for a girl who is not to the manor born.

If Serena means what she says she will have to widen the net and look for girls not only in the cities but in the rural areas of this country, girls who would be more than willing and able to make the sacrifices necessary to play professional level tennis. Instead of worrying about what Russia, Spain or China is doing the United States tennis establishment needs to look high and low for girls who want to play tennis. It does the United States no good to complain about the number of women coming out of Eastern Europe and Russia when the more dire emergency, who will step into the shoes of Venus, Serena and Lindsay? Right now there is no one on the horizon.

End Notes

Australian Davis Cup Officials want to move the upcoming tie between their country and India moved to safer environs. Indian tennis officials say Chennai is perfectly safe. The ITF says it will make a decision soon.

Why are so many of Maria Sharapova's fans convinced she's had work done on her face? The lighting in this picture is horrible but she just looks glammed up here. Her face looks the same as it did in those other pictures where she looked like a rock star coming off an all nighter. As for the outfit? Meh. I don't like the necklace or whatever that is around her neck. I'm sure it's visible from the Space Station.

Seventeen year old Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova can't blame the lighting for this horror. Lack of mirrors maybe?

And if this is what the mack daddy's are wearing this year I have nothing to say. Not that I miss the wide brimmed hats with ostrich feather trim or the crushed velvet leisure suits but is this what it's come to? No wonder Radek Stepanek is taking the court wearing a table cloth for a shirt.

I would like to address those who think it's funny to throw Justin Gimelstob's name into contention for Larry Scott's vacated position. It's not funny. Don't forget the Slob has support in the upper echelons of American tennis. They just might take you seriously.

And finally why are some of Roger Federer's fans floating the idea of his working with Antoni Nadal? Has it come to this?

I'll end with this great picture of Venus Williams from a photo shoot she did for Marie Claire. Love it.


Wayne said...

As much as I respect you I totally disagree with your thoughts on Kimmy. Martina might have been a better player but she didn't have the power, she had to work so bloody hard for everthing that she was never going to be able to do anything great again. I think Kim will surprise a hell of a lot of people and I have everything crossed that 'Aussie Kim' will make the trip back to Australia next year. Now we just need Maria and Anna Kournikova back and all be right in the world.

T said...

Kim's husband is quitting basketball. They need some money. That's all this is.

Savannah said...

Hi Wayne.
I know mine is a minority opinion re Kim. I just couldn't stand the St Kim thing especially when she got so much help from the Draw Gods.

T, welcome as well. I'm going to check that link out right now.

Savannah said...

Interesting about Brian Lynch. Thanks for the link T.

Wayne said...

After reading your words again Savannah I can understand where you are coming from a little better. I totally feel the same way about JJ and the fact she gets all of the soft draws before getting her arse kicked when she finally faces someone good.

As for T saying they need the money mate you are kidding yourself. It looks like he is doing so they can be together as a family on the road.

rabbit said...

Who is speculating seriously about Roger getting together with Toni Nadal? Whenever I have read this, it is just a joke, based on that Roger needs to beat Rafa and there is nobody who knows Rafa better than Toni. Is there anything more serious?

Savannah said...

Why would it be said even as a joke?
I understand what you're saying Rabbit but sometimes things said in jest...

Craig Hickman said...

If Victoria Azarenka doesn't win big before Clijsters gets her groove back, she won't win big.

And of course, if they draw one another in an early round at a big event, advantage Azarenka. But if Clijsters is playing well enough to get her in a quarterfinal or later, Azarenka is toast.

I know I'm speaking from the bias of one who feels like he lost his father yesterday, but with her husband retiring from b-ball and joining her on tour, I fully believe Clijsters is now on a mission.

And since she's a Gemini, you know I'll probably never be a fan, so... (wink)

I'm simply not impressed with Azarenka. But she's fast and has big shots, so in this wasteland of a WTA she should at least make the final of a Tier 1.

Or she could become Nicole Vaidisova.