Monday, May 18, 2009

Seen and Heard Around

by Savannah

The Big Come Back

Wearing an egg yolk yellow skirt with a white top featuring an unfortunate ruffle around the waist Maria Sharapova shrieked her way back onto the WTA tour eking out a 6-1, (6)6-7, 6-3 win over Tathiana Garbin at the Warsaw Open. Sharapova had match points at 5-3 in the second set before Garbin, given confidence by double faults and errors off of Maria's racquet forced and won the second set tiebreak. After a visit from MIchael Joyce Maria took control of the third set and won going away.

I don't think anyone expected perfection in her first match back after a nine month layoff. Her luck just got better though since Caroline Wozniacki did the expected and pulled out of the tournament with a sore back. Maria's shoulder was taped. I'm assuming it was a precautionary move.

Meanwhile there is drama concerning the withdrawal of Agnieszka Radwanska from the tournament. Here is the report, in English, from the Polish Press

The official line from her trainer, the tennis star’s father Robert Radwanski, is that she will not play due to back injury.

“Agnieszka will not play because of her [back] injury, but there is another issue – that the organizers of the event are not treating us properly,” claims Radwanski. The coach claims that a sponsoring dispute has strained relations between the player and organizers of the event.

“We wanted to enter the parking lot with our car [on Saturday] but we were told that we could not,” maintains Radwanski adding that Agnieszka’s friend found out that one could only enter the car park with passes for those participating in the tournament.

Tournament director, Stefan Makarczyk, stated that because the Radwanski family drives a Mercedes, they were not allowed into that particular car park because only Suzuki vehicles the official sponsor of the Warsaw Cup, were allowed to park there.

“Maybe Agnieszka is injured, but from the fact that she highlighted her desire to play in matches in Warsaw so strongly in interviews, why would she not realize her dream,” added Makarczyk.

Neither side have bothered to hide the evident dislike between Radwanski and Makarczyk who have allegedly been arguing over financial compensation for appearing on Warsaw’s red clay courts – several tens of thousands of dollars are supposedly at stake.

“I do not know anything about financial negotiations. I came, I wanted to play, but I am injured and that’s all,” maintains the 20-year-old tennis star from Krakow. In 2008, Radwanska became the first female Polish tennis player to make over 1 million USD in career prize money.

I think this speaks for itself no?

Meanwhile Sabine Lisicki also withdrew from Warsaw. First reports stated it was because she was suffering from appendicitis which would throw her French Open participation out the window but that was later revised. The official cause is now a very bad stomach ache.

Wimbledon Center Court Ceremony and Matches

I tried to watch this last night. I really did. But from the ceremonial closing of the roof to the strains of "Amazing Grace" "sung" by Farel Smith and Katherine Jenkins where the tape went kablooey to the singles match between Kim Clijsters and Steffi Graf which Clijsters won I found myself, like Virginia Wade, dozing off.

I found it odd that Boris Becker, the epitome of the past Wimbledon champion, was sitting in the stands with his fiancee (who made sure all the bitches in the stadium and watching knew she was ENGAGED to Mr. Becker and to back off) while a nearly geriatric Andre Agassi was on the court. Boris let the LTA/AELTC know how he felt when he was invited down on court and made it plain he had not been invited to participate. That could account for the sardonic looks on both his and his fiancee's faces.

Andy Murray was there as well and while not a Murray fan wouldn't an exho between Murray and Becker have been kind of exciting? Where was five time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams? If you had to have Clijsters wouldn't a show match between those two been interesting? I doubt Virgina would've dozed off if those two had been on the court.

Still it was a great spectacle. The translucent roof is awesome and I'm glad that play on Centre Court will no longer be subject to the whims of British weather and no top player will have five days off while another has to play day after day after day.

Australian Open Financial Problems
Australian online newspaper The Age reports the world wide financial crisis has hit the Australian Open hard.

THE financial crisis has cost the Australian Open nearly $10 million in vital sponsorship after Garnier decided to abandon its deal with the grand slam tennis event.

As the sponsorship market continues to tighten locally and internationally, Garnier, part of the L'Oreal Group, yesterday became the second major backer to pull out.

The tournament's other associate sponsor, GE Money, recently decided against extending its three-year arrangement...

The Open's much smaller arrangement with MasterCard is also over, while a multi-faceted deal with Optus that extends to Australian national teams is under review.

The Australian Open's 2009 sponsorship portfolio was worth an estimated $35 million. It has been headed since 2001 by Korean car manufacturer Kia, which remains committed until at least 2013. Lacoste and Rolex both signed lucrative multi-year contracts last year.

A couple of years ago there was concern in Australian tennis circles about the Chinese purchasing the rights to the event and moving it to Shanghai. There is symbolism involved here as well.
The Grand Slam concept was conceived by the countries that dominated tennis back in the day - The United States, Britain, France and Australia. If the Australian Open is moved to another country that would make many traditionalists very upset to put it mildly.

End Note

I'm going to be scarce this week. With the French Open coming up fast and the start of the grass court season hard on it's heels it's going to be a busy few weeks. If something comes up that's deserves an airing I'll post.

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