Monday, September 7, 2009

Seen and Heard Around - US Open Day 7

by Savannah

Player Talk

Before all the hoopla of the day starts I'd like to post some statements made by players that may have gotten lost in the sauce over the last couple of days.

Let's start with Kim Clijsters interview after defeating Venus Williams. It should be noted that Kim, during her on court interview with Mary Jo Fernandez, when asked how it was juggling a child and a career said flat out that she has help so it's not so bad. Mary Jo didn't follow up on that. Wonder why?

Anywho here's what she said at the end of the interview posted on the official US Open Site

Q. You needed to measure yourself against some of the bigger names in tennis. Today you defeated Venus. How does this affect your confidence?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, you know, I know today that Venus wasn't playing her best tennis. In that sense it's hard to kind of compare anything in today's match. But there's a lot of other things personally that I'm taking out of this match. That's just the mental strength that I kept focusing on and just trying to although in that second set I wasn't hitting the ball, I was just trying to regroup.
Those kinds of things. Reading the game a little bit, adjusting my game a little bit to a couple of weaknesses that I had out there. That's a very positive thing for myself, where in the past I maybe could have just let it slip away a little bit.
Now I really felt comfortable at just getting back and just fighting through that match.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Nikolay Davydenko, you remember him don't you, was interviewed by the Russian press and made the following statement. Thanks to "Oddman" and "HelenW" for the quotes that were originally posted on

Kolya Davydenko has just finished his interview to Russian TV. He wasn't exactly complaining, because he smiled nicely all the time, so let's call it "he described some problems". He said that regardless of what organizers stated, all the courts in the US Open played differently. And a player who is placed in one and the same court has an advantage. Kolya played three rounds in 3 courts: Nos.4, 7 and 11. So he played 3 matches on 3 different surfaces, and every match was like the 1st one for him in terms of feeling the surface.

When asked whether he preferred playing against Soderling or Querrey, he said that he'd rather play against Soderling whom he hated, than vs Querrey, because there's a very good chance that Sod's match will be placed in Court 11, while Querrey's match will be definitely placed in one of the bigger courts.

Then his smile broadened to its extremity, and he said: "You want somebody to lose? Relocate him to a different court. From Ashe to Armstrong, for example". The next question was: "Are you speaking about Dinara?". The answer was: "Is that what they did to her? No, I was thinking about last year semifinals".

No wonder the American press avoids him like the plague. By the way he'll be playing on Armstrong today.

The last statement is from Dinara Safina. I have to say that watching Dinara take the court the other night the look I saw on her face was one of sheer terror. At least I thought it was. Maybe she was just past pissed.

At any rate this is a verbatim report by Diane Pucin that was posted to the LA Times.

Safina said she wasn't asked. She was told by tournament officials. "They came to us at 9:10 p.m. and just told us to switch to Armstrong," she said. "Basically, that's it. It was very unfair. The best player in the world to put on Armstrong. Their answer was that they prefer a five-set match to a three-set woman match."

Turned out the men's match was three sets too, Blake went out without much fight and the men's match ended up 10 minutes after Safina's upset.

"That's it, they don't want to listen, just move to Armstrong," Safina said. "I keep asking why we're playing on Armstrong at 10. They tell us just play, go on, go on 10 on Armstrong."

After speaking about the match and about how she had a game plan to go on the court and make Kvitova move all around, she instead came on the court, stood still and let Kvitova dictate play. "It's my brain," she said.

But then she went back to the other subject.

"I'm No. 1 player in the world," she said. "Why move me? American Blake because they want five sets instead of three. I always look forward to play night session on Arthur Ashe, it's best thing in the U.S. Open."

Kvitova didn't complain at all. "Yeah, doesn't matter to me," the 20-year-old from the Czech Republic said. "I'm not a star."

The problem was that thousands of night session ticket holders had to stand outside until the Roddick match ended after nine.

Tournament officials said they didn't want to delay the Robredo-Blake match because the winner was slated to meet Roger Federer next. Federer had finished his match about 2 on Saturday.

U.S. Open spokesman Chris Widmaier said, "You've got to balance safety issues, a big crowd, but the No. 1 factor is competitive integrity," he said. "If we had not split matches, the women's match would have been started at about 10:30 and who knows what time Blake and Robredo would have finished?"

European players have had beef with the US Open since about 2003 when an exhausted Juan Carlos Ferrero played the final after playing several days straight while his opponent got favorable treatment. Look it up folks.

Bizzaro Tennis World

This is a shot of Vera Zvonareva's knees at some point during her match against Flavia Pennetta last night. I have to say at some point because the wrapping ended up in quite a different state later in the match as can be seen below.

There are good matches tennisheads talk about for years where the players play sublimely, the on court intensity is fierce, and the eventual winner looks like he or she has been through a war.
Then there are the matches that go into the "What the fuck was that" category. Unfortunately for Vera her match last evening will forever be in that category.

Vera was once known only for her emotional outbursts on court not her tennis. She had turned that image around recently playing very well and containing her emotion. Last night she played great for a set and a half. Then Flavia woke up and began to play tennis the way she had been coming into the Open. Forcing and then winning a second set tiebreak despite Vera having had multiple match points Flavia stood by watching as her opponent literally came apart at the seams.

It was not a pretty sight folks but like the proverbial train wreck you're horrified but can't look away. All Flavia did in the third set was keep the ball between the lines while Vera flailed around unable to let go of that second set melt down. Flavia served her a bagel.

My main criticism goes to the commentators though. Cathy Rinaldi had impressed me a couple of days ago with her work but last night I think she let her partner, not sure who he was, have run of things. I'm not a broadcast journalist let alone a commentator so I don't know the etiquette involved in who does what in the booth. I do know that Cathy was the professional last night and that at some point she should've done a Virginia Wade and just cut the idiot off. Most fans know about Vera and her towel. If you've never seen it before it's striking and a little off putting but you're being paid to commentate. Move on. It's not a running gag, especially when the player is in the middle of a complete meltdown. Is it too much to ask that the people commentating on tennis have some familiarity with the sport and its players? Like him or not Chris Fowler has come a long way from when he first started and he did it by asking questions. Mike Tirico came to work prepared and can talk with the egomaniacs of the ESPN booth as an equal. It seems that the people who are working the live streams aren't held to such a high standard. Shame since for those of us without Tennis Channel the online streams were all that was available.

Thoroughly Modern Tennis

I get it. I really do. Serve and volley tennis is the preferred style of play for Australians and Americans. Maybe the Brits get thrown in there too. Nothing makes me roll my eyes more than when a commentator, seeing the style used as a tactic by modern era players goes on for twenty minutes about how wonderful it is to see it and if only more players would use it the game could be what it was in their youth.
Newsflash folks. It ain't coming back as the only way to play. It can be part of a players arsenal and should be, but no one is going to take the court and only play serve and volley. That's why it was painful to watch Taylor Dent last night. His story is compelling and you can't help but pull for him knowing that he didn't have a snowballs chance in hell with his anachronistic playing style.
Whichever Jensen that was doing commentary last night was flogging that dead horse to no end however and in the end I turned the sound off because of his cheerleading. Once again his partner let him run with it. The commentary was less about the match and all about Taylor, his parents, who he came on the scene with and serve and volley.
If Dent is going to try and make a go of it in the modern world of tennis he's going to have to learn to use serve and volley as a tactic. This is what some of the old warhorses don't want to discuss. They want to ignore the technology that has changed the game, some even started a push to go back to wooden racquets awhile back, but time waits for no one. Taylor has talent. He's going to have to do what Andy Roddick has done and embrace the modern.

Order of Play Day 8 (Singles Only)

Arthur Ashe Stadium 11:00 Start Time
1. Women's Singles - 4th Round
Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR) v. Gisela Dulko (ARG)
2. Women's Singles - 4th Round
Melanie Oudin (USA) v. Nadia Petrova (RUS)[13]
Not Before:14:30
3. Men's Singles - 4th Round
Roger Federer (SUI)[1] v. Tommy Robredo (ESP)[14]
Arthur Ashe Stadium 19:00 Start Time
1. Women's Singles - 4th Round
Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)[9] v. Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS)[6]
2. Men's Singles - 4th Round
Novak Djokovic (SRB)[4] v. Radek Stepanek (CZE)[15]

Louis Armstrong Stadium 11:00 Start Time
1. Men's Singles - 4th Round
Robin Soderling (SWE)[12] v. Nikolay Davydenko (RUS)[8]
2. Women's Singles - 4th Round
Petra Kvitova (CZE) v. Yanina Wickmayer (BEL)
Not Before:15:00
3. Men's Singles - 4th Round
Fernando Verdasco (ESP)[10] v. John Isner (USA)

End Notes

American juniorAsia Muhammad wiped up the court with French number one Kristina Mladenovic yesterday. Major surprise.

Sloane Stephens also won her opening round match. Heather Watson of Great Britain and Noppawan Lertcheewakarn also won on the girls side.

As for the boys number one Yuki Bhambri won easily while Chase Buchanan needed three sets to move to the next round. Bernard Tomic won in straight sets.


Craig Hickman said...

I think moving Safina is much ado about nothing.

Especially since no one mentions that tribute to Pancho Gonzalez that also had to be performed because the family and the celebrities were there for it and it couldn't be postponed to a different day.

Safina has been struggling through three-setters all week. The officials were right to split their matches and it would make no sense to give her Ashe when Blake is also on the schedule. Almost all the Slam events favor their homegrown (and Raja) regarding scheduling. But you think night-sesion holders would have preferred Safina to Blake if they had to chose? Hell no.

Yes, Safina is ranked No. 1 in the world, but she has shown time and again at Slams that she can't deliver the goods. I saw terror on her face and quite frankly I'm glad she's out. Her matches are excruciating.

Now, what Davydenko said is far more enlightening to me.

Jo Ann said...

I don't get what Davy is trying to say. Murray got an advantage over Rafa, or Fed got an advantage over Murray when play returned to Ashe?

If anyone got the better of last year's rain delays and re-scheduling, it was Roger. As always.

Karen said...

Hmm, that Davydenko quote is priceless. However, I have a question, as a professional dont you rise to the expectations? Is it really true that the courts play differently? Did the USTA really want Rafa to lose last year, or was it Murray? Conspiracy theories abound. Is the USTA and for that matter most of the tennis associations a bunch of elite racists? Somehow it would seem that the only tournament at which people of colour get good treatment is at Wimbledon. Nope, wrong there too Karen as the WS got shafted this year at Wimbledon because of the looks factor. I have no idea what to believe anymore. There are so many theories out there about who people in tennis want to win tournaments. The bottom line is this: as a professional athlete you have to go out there and win matches. Some are saying that Australia sped up the courts to allow for Aussies to win. Some say that this year's French Open had little or no clay (maybe the weather had a little bit to do with that). It has been said that Wimbledon has slowed down the grass to accommodate Spanish players (but only 1 Spanish guy has won since whenever). Now the USO has courts with varying speeds, surface texture, bigger balls, smaller balls, more light, less light. My head is spinning. I too am glad that Safina is out. She sounded like she was in the midst of a three way porn movie and she was getting it from both ends. Sorry for the crudness

oddman said...

You are so right about some of the commies, Savannah. It's beyond annoying. And bless his heart, but JMac can be so awful some days. Yesterday I could have cheerfully strangled him.

I'd have to say Jimmy Arias has been the guy I've enjoyed the most. And agree that Chris Fowler has come a long long way, is a much better commentator than before. Obviously he's done homework - gets an A+ for that from me.

Davai, Kolya!

oddman said...

And about the 'serve and volley' crap - I am SO sick of hearing these old gits on telly going on and on, practically orgasmic, about S&V players. GET. OVER. IT.

JMac, PMac, and others - it is so dead, the S&V game. Tactic, yes. Base your whole game on it? No. Not unless you're on fire and not missing anything *every* single time you play it.

Bleah. Annoying commies.... (goes off to mutter in beard...)

oddman said...

Karen said:'Is it really true that the courts play differently?'

I don't know, but why would Davydenko say it then? Just for fun? I'd tend to trust what he says, he's been pretty honest and also pretty forthcoming and not toe-ing the party line with his comments in the past. And he's played on those courts.

Karen said: 'Now the USO has courts with varying speeds, surface texture,...'

I think that was the point, no?

Savannah said...

I dunno Craig. The to do about moving the match is of course partially diversionary - I think Dinara was counting on Kvitova to be intimidated on the large show court and that she could pull of another great escape - but in light of Davydenko's comments I kinda sorta take it seriously, especially since Venus had to fight that fight a couple of years ago as well.

I think the WTA would rather the lead story be about the unfairness of moving the match than about it's "consistent" number one's result in that match.

It's a shame that the Gonzalez tribute got lost in all this though. It was long overdue.

Savannah said...

I believe Davydenko.

Helen W said...

Actually, this point was made by Rafa himself last year -- how hard it was to suddenly be moved to Armstrong, where he had not even had a chance to practice --not hit even one ball -- because every court plays differently. For a semi-final match, no less.

Which is *exactly* the point that Kolya was making.

So the losers -- as always -- were whoever were not in Mr. Monogram's side of the draw.

Lest we forget, Rafa was the No 1 player when this travesty was visited upon him -- I thought when such exigencies arise, it is the No 1 seed that is supposed to get the preference? Apparently only if His Monogram is not in the draw.

Of course the media ignored all this in their rush to fawn all over His Monogram.

oddman said...

Not only that, Helen W, but Rafa had quite a winning streak over His Monogram going at the time. Not that I'm implying anything by that, wink wink.

vw said...

Davydenko may be right. Look, even Djokovic has been on Armstrong twice and hasn't had a night match yet where Murray (golden boy) and Fed had two night matches already.

Savannah This year all talking heads are saying Murray will win this. They are discounting everyone else. Fed's gotta be perturbed. I don't know about this but could Murray's PR team be paying off Courier, Slob, McEnroe, Cahill, etc etc.?

Savannah said...

Murray has the second softest draw after the Monogram.

I would never imply that money exchanged hands. Not my style. I will say that the relationship between the British, American and Australian tennis establishments borders on the incestuous though...

Helen W said...

Karen says:

The bottom line is this: as a professional athlete you have to go out there and win matches.

So this somehow makes it OK if tournaments and TPTB play favourites? How, exactly?

Or is it only OK when His Monogram is the beneficiary of their largesse?

Speaking of Wimbledon, wasn't Rafa the target of yet another scheduling travesty in 2007?

Karen said...

And I was so enjoying the discussion until the name calling started. Oh well. Time to bow out gracefully, but not before saying this. I was under the impression that after last year's fiasco scheduling that the reason posited for Nadal's loss was rain, his knees, he does not like change, he likes order. I dont know. What is it with some players who can play just about anywhere and have the same result, yet others dont seem to be able to do that. Boggles my mind. Everyone talks about the graveyard court at Wimbledon, yet Venus and Serena play on it all the time. Matter of fact they seem to like it as according to them the fans get to see them play as they are so close to the court. In addition, whether you put them on in a day match, night match, back to back days, rain delays etc., they always seem to perform. Perhaps other players should learn to rise above their circumstances and not have everything put on a platter for them. In addition, I have heard folks here who have visited the USO say that the better courts are Armstrong and the Grandstand. Also, the wind factor in Ashe has always been a problem for every player and so you would think that most players would not want to play there, but then what do I know, I am just an idiot at a computer typing away.

Savannah said...

The Grandstand and Ashe are fan friendly much more initimate venues than the horrid Ashe stadium.

That said if going in a player knows he/she is going to be playing on more than Ashe he/she will schedule practice on one of the other courts. That is all Davy is saying. It makes sense that all the courts play differently.

Lets not even talk about how that reschedule was done in NYC and you have to wonder how The Monogram got those five days off in 2007...

Karen said...

HelenW, this is a discussion that will never be resolved. Neither you nor I have any basis upon which we can state that tournament directors and/or officials have conspired to give certain players an unfair advantage. While I like Davydenko, sometimes he does have the ability to be infuriatingly divisive in his comments. This is the same person who stated that Wimbledon, the mother of all tournaments should be played on clay. Whatever Kolya, wish that he had remained hidden as he seemed to do well in that role. If I were to believe every conspiracy theory that was posited in my lifetime as it has to do with sports, I am sure that I could come up with a whole lot of scenarios that could benefit my favourite players etc. As it is, it is just one of those unfortunate things that happen to athletes the world over. I am sure at some point in time people will be blaming Roger for Nadal's knees, Murray's lack of charm and Roddick's loss of spirit (oh wait, he is already being blamed for Roddick's loss at the USO). All I am saying is that as athletes one of the issues that they have to deal with is unforseen circumstances. For my money these athletes should see it as a privilege that they get to play a sport in which they are paid huge sums of money. Stop the griping and the sniping and go out there and swing your racquet and shut up. Everybody and their mother is complaining. What happens when there are no more sponsors, no more fans buying tickets, no more networks who are willing to put up money in order to watch you swing a racquet. I am tired of the constant complaints and conspiracy theories. It is only just a freaking game. What these men and women earn for playing one or 2 rounds of tennis is what some of us earn for the whole year. Quit complaining about court assignments and do your job.

Karen said...

Helen, the point I am trying to make is this. You are a professional athlete. You go out there with a mind set to win a match. If a scheduling issue arises then you as the athlete rise to the occassion. I think fans who nitpick about scheduling issues are doing a disservice to their favourites. If you are of the view that your player is a mental giant then it does not matter what they do. I am a huge fan of Venus and Serena and I lift my hat to those ladies every single time at the way in which they conduct themselves on and off the court. If they have an issue it will be raised in the appropriate forum. I cannot say that I have ever heard of fans of the WS moaning about their draws, the courts they have to play on etc. Maybe we think that whatever the circumstances their players will just meet the challenge. One of the things that people do not seem to realise or are just trying to be difficult and ignoring it is that when TDs make the schedule they take a lot into consideration, foremost of which is this - are you able to fill a stadium. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on the men's side and Serena Williams on the women's side are the only 3 athletes who are able to fill a stadium without even trying. On the first occassion where the men went before the women, Serena's match was the last match of the evening. The stadium was still full after Roger's match. The same thing happened with Nadal. These people are drawing cards. It is unfortunate what happened last year and that was just plain stupidity on the part of the tournament officials when they scheduled the men's semis knowing that a storm was on the horizon. How long though are we going to continue to beat that dead horse? As for Kolya, I guess it did not matter what court he was playing on as he lost to Soderling.

Helen W said...

Karen the issue of how a professional player should conduct himself in the face of adversity is completely separate -- orthogonal from the issue of whether TPTB routinely hand out favours to certain players.

Wimbledon organizers have already publicly admitted that they assign courts in the women's tournament based on their perceived attractiveness of the players. So we already know that they are not above such manipulation.

If you think it unfair to suggest that Mr. Monogram recieves a disproportionate number of these favours, then how about some examples to counter the obvious advantages he got in the scheduling of Wimbledon 2007 and USO 2008? Not to mention the time he got 7 qualifiers in his initial section of the draw at the USO, the probability of which happening at random is less than 1 in 10,000?

Karen said...

HelenW, while your question deserves a response, I am unfortunately unable to engage in dialogue with someone who repeatedly refers to an individual whom I admire with a derogatory name.

oddman said...

Didn't you recently call Elena Dementieva, a person *I* admire, the Demented One, Karen?

Karen said...

You know what I have had a chance to consider my previous response and it was a low blow and clearly uncalled for. I have been trying really hard to find my spiritual centre as I have had a lot of tragedy in my life very recently, what with my father dying, my sister dying, and my mother now knocking at death's door. As a result I have tried my best not to become embroiled in discussions in which there can be no winners. In the past Oddman I have been guilty of the name calling and I have tried my best to stop this behaviour as it is infantile at best and derogatory at worst. I am learning very hard how easy it is to get caught up in discussions with people who have very strongly held views as I am also someone who has very strong views as well. Maybe I take things too personally and I sometimes wish that we as fans would take the time to discuss tennis rather than conspiracy theories because all they do is divide us. That being said as of today, 7 September 2009 I will refrain from commenting on message boards in defence of any player or indeed in defence of any view point that I may, or may not have. It may sound like I will never have an opinion again or jump into the fray, but for now I am tired mentally and physically. Dont get me wrong I love coming her and having these discussions with you guys but sometimes I think I may take things a bit too personally and on that note I will just leave things alone for a bit when I can put up an even tougher fight. Enjoy the tennis all and my hope is that the Monogram continues to kick ass and take names on his onward march to tennis immortality. LOL

Savannah said...

Karen your voice is always welcome here. Yes we all work each other's nerves sometimes in trying to defend our individual favorites but in the end we all come together over tennis.

That said I am speechless about the personal challenges you are facing right now. There are no words to convey how I feel.

I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say be strong and take it one day, one minute, one hour at a time.

Helen W said...

Dear Karen I am of an age where I have had my share of losses, but nothing like what you describe is now happening in your life. We will all be thinking of you & holding you in our hearts. And should watching your favourite tennis players give you a moment's ease I wish you that small comfort.

oddman said...

Karen said: 'Enjoy the tennis all and my hope is that the Monogram continues to kick ass and take names on his onward march to tennis immortality. LOL'

That's a great hope! Hold on to it. I'm pretty sure he's gonna do some ass-whupping next Sunday, at least. Not what I'm hoping for, but I'm realistic. :D

As for your family and your losses, I'm very sorry to hear about it, and wish you nothing but goodwill and peace, and the strength to deal with this.

We can disagree, Karen, and have strong opinions that may be in opposition at times, but we're all human, with many of the same hopes and dreams. Be well.

Karen said...

Savannah and HelenW, many thanks for the kind words. I will probably not be around much this weekend as heading off to Jamaica on Thursday evening and coming back to Cayman perhaps Sunday night. Heres hoping that Serena does what she does best. I am leaving the guys alone - LOL