Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Something To Think About

by Savannah


While the tennis media and other apologists for the state of affairs at the WTA say things are better than ever let's take a look at the ratings for the WTA US Open semi finals and final this year.

U.S. Open women's final no ratings hit

Relegated to cable and lacking any recognizable stars beyond tennis circles, the women's final of the U.S. Open was a bust in the ratings.

The Clijsters/Wozniacki U.S. Open women's final drew a mere 1.1 U.S. rating and 1.8 million viewers on ESPN2 Sunday night, down 67% in ratings and 62% in viewers from a 3.3 and 4.9 million for last year's S. Williams/Jankovic final, which aired on CBS.

This marks the lowest rated U.S. Open women's final since at least 1996 -- 50% below the previous 13-year low of 2.2 for Kuznetsova/Dementieva in '04.

Sunday's women's final was far less of a draw than the Clijsters/S. Williams semifinal the previous night. That match, which aired on CBS, drew a 2.1/4 final rating and 3.2 million viewers.

Source: ESPN


If you want more proof of who the fans, casual and fanatic, want to watch scroll down and look at the chart featured in this article. US Open Ratings 1996-2009"

Monday, September 28, 2009

Let's Talk About Roadkill

by Savannah

Let's see. The WTA in it's infinite wisdom moved Tokyo from earlier in the year to after the US Open to strengthen and boost the Fall Asian Swing. Tokyo became a Premier 5 Mandatory and except for Serena Williams all the top women arrived in Tokyo talking shit and taking names. Nothing wrong with that except that another Premier event starts qualifying play on October 3, 2009 in Beijing. All of the top players are entered there as well. What is a girl to do?

I'm not going to say that Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Chang Kai-Chen of Taiwan and Andrea Petkovic of Germany didn't deserve their wins today. It's just that a fan has to wonder if the top women just came for the cheese offered at Tokyo (appearance fees, that sort of thing) and are now on their way to Beijing.

One would think that of the three top seeds that lost today Dinara Safina had the most incentive to win even though she wasn't originally entered here despite being the defending champion. I didn't see the match but I understand the warm and cuddly relationship between Dinara and her coach was once again on display. I also see that uncomfortable questions are now being asked about the WTA's most consistent player, questions that get to the heart of what is wrong with the WTA.
I mean when articles appear asking if your standard bearer is the worst Number One Ever? it can't be good. For the record the author reserved that distinction for Jelena Jankovic but it doesn't change anything about what is going on in the WTA. Many fan sites already feature threads by concerned fans of women's tennis asking what the hell is going on and what can be done about it. Those of us who asked those questions a few years ago were flamed and said to be haters.

Those of you who read this space regularly know I've gone on ad nauseam about the subject for the last two years. My mother, rest her soul, always told me that you reap what you sow. When the changes were made a few years ago to reward "consistency" instead of quality many said then that what we see today was what would happen. The new regime seems to be a continuation of the old one and unless things get worse - they can - no changes will be made any time soon.

Let's be clear here. Ana Ivanovic already crashed and burned as did newly minted top ten player Flavia Pennetta. Rumors are swirling that Caroline Wozniacki is sick with the flu and may withdraw. She is still listed on the Order of Play for tomorrow and I think if Caroline can breathe she'll be on the court. Unless of course she takes her sick time and a lucky loser steps in for her. There was talk that the LL would be Melanie Oudin but how can you know who a LL is in advance? I mean isn't that stuff random?

So now with Venus out, number one ranked Dinara out and Svetlana Kuznetsova out are we looking at a Premier event or an International event? I liked the Tier I, II and III designations better but I don't work for the WTA. I guess under the old designations this would now be a Tier II.
Jelena Jankovic, defending champion at Beijing, is set to play Sabine Lisicki tomorrow. Sabine is coming back from injury. Elena Dementieva, Vera Zvonareva, Maria Sharapova, Nadia Petrova, Victoria Azarenka and Aggie Radwanska are still in Tokyo as well. It's going to be a very interesting day tomorrow.

Weekend Round Up

by Savannah

What a surprising weekend of results.


She hasn't gotten all the hype. No one was writing columns about her return to competitive tennis but Kimiko Date-Krumm, by winning Seoul, is the big story of the weekend. She will soon be 39 years old. Congratulations on your achievement Kimiko.

Congratulations also go to Gael Monfils who won at Metz, his first title since 2005. It was good to see him hold himself together mentally and win.

If Shahar Pe'er were a team they'd be screaming to break her up. Shahar, who has had a disastrous 2009 won her second title in a row at Tashkent.

I'm sure most tennisheads had penciled in Juan Monaco to win at Bucharest. Instead Albert Montanes of Spain hoisted the trophy and got a confetti shower. Congratulations to Albert.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tennis Talk

by Savannah

I've taken a few days off. I haven't watched any tennis or been on Twitter for a few days now because I felt so "tennised out". Rumors about the Monogram got me to start poking around and seeing what the hell is going on in the wonderful world of tennis. Some of the news may be old but it's worth repeating in case some of you, like me, needed a mental health break.

From James H Martin on Twitter:

Federer out of Shanghai Masters with back injury. His back does tend to act up outside of the majors, huh?


Can't vouch for the man but thought you all would like to know the latest chit chat...

And it goes on...

Nice commentary and a bit of truth from New York Magazine

Because we like baseball more than other sports, we're going to make a baseball analogy to what happened to Serena Williams in the U.S. Open semifinals on Saturday. The Yankees are up one run in the bottom of the ninth inning of a deciding playoff game, with a runner on first base and no one out. Bobby Abreu hits a ground ball to Robinson Cano, who flips to Derek Jeter, and on to first for the double play. But it turns out that Jeter didn't actually touch the bag on the turn — applying the "phantom" tag, which is generally acceptable and never, ever called — and the umps decide, today, for whatever reason, to call the runner safe. When Jeter and Joe Girardi argue, the umpires decide to give the Angels the run, and then another, costing the Yankees the game. If that happened, one doubts Girardi would be all that calm either.

Serena Williams, in the wake of her expletive-laden outburst on Saturday, has been fined $10,500, and there is some talk of a suspension. This is insane. Five facts:

1. There was no foot fault. Continued replays have shown that Williams's foot was not over the line on the serve, which caused a double fault, and the outburst.

2. Even if she did foot fault, you can't make that call. Like the phantom tag in baseball, that's not a call you ever make on a second serve — obviously, Williams had no real advantage with her foot near the line on a serve she's just trying to get in play — and that's definitely a call you don't make when someone's serving for their life in the semifinals of the U.S. Open.

3. The line judge is oversensitive. As if it weren't bad enough that the line judge — whose name, strangely, has not been released by the USTA — made the ridiculous call, she then, after being yelled at by Serena, scampered over to the head judge to make sure Serena was penalized another point. This happened to be match point. Now, let's be clear: Contrary to the headlines, Serena did not tell the line judge she would kill her. She said she wanted to take the ball and shove it down her fucking throat. Not exactly charming, no, but not fatal! More to the point: Is this the first time the line judge has ever been yelled at in a match? Did she really feel so "threatened" that she had to end the match? Shouldn't a line judge have a thicker skin that that?

4. Serena did not have a meltdown. She said a few "fucking"s and pointed a few times with her racket. Has no one ever seen Jimmy Connors or John McEnroe before? Serena, in the heat of a massively important match, lost her cool for a second, and said some things she surely regrets. But for crying out loud, what did she do that was so horrible? John McEnroe once sacrificed a goat at center court of Wimbledon after a bad call. (Note: This anecdote might be made up, but you get the point.) We're worried about Serena screaming after a wretched call? They're talking about suspending her? When did we become such wimps?

5. The role of a referee/umpire/judge is not to be noticed, and to let the players decide the match themselves. The line judge put herself at the middle of the action and let her own inability to handle an angry player decide who won the semifinal at the U.S. Open. We cannot fathom why she's not taking more heat. Because if we were Serena Williams ... we would have wanted to shove that ball down her throat, too.

Oh, and Kim Clijsters ended up winning the women's singles title last night. No one will remember that, though.


Cablevision and Tennis Channel

Tennis Channel has, at least for the moment, lost its battle with Cablevision. The channel has agreed to release its signal to Cablevision, even though Cablevision customers will have to pay an additional monthly fee for a sports package to view it. Tennis Channel had repeatedly said Cablevision’s terms were unacceptable and that Cablevision customers ought to receive the station with their standard cable packages. While Tennis Channel’s move to release its signal will please tennis fans who are Cablevision customers, it might well leave many of them wondering why Tennis Channel did not give in to Cablevision’s demands prior to the U.S. Open. Cablevision customers could not watch Tennis Channel during the U.S. Open because of the dispute. In a statement, Tennis Channel described the decision as a temporary move under its contract with the National Cable Television Cooperative, a group that negotiates programming deals. Cablevision had claimed that Tennis Channel was required to release its signal under the NCTC contract. —Tom Perrotta

Justine Henin news:

Justine Henin, on what prompted her comeback: "The victory of Roger Federer at Roland Garros really spoke to me... That brought back emotions in me and I felt something was missing."

On the scope of her comeback: "If I'm coming back, it's not for one year. It will be for three or four years, and then there is an important occasion, the London Olympics in 2012, the year I'll be 30."

Carlos Rodriguez, who will resume coaching Justine Henin on tour, says one of the driving forces behind her comeback is the desire to win Wimbledon and complete the career Slam. "Wimbledon, the fourth major, one wants to have it," he said. "It's one of the reasons for the return."

When Henin told him she wanted to play again, said Rodriguez, "It truly surprised me." But, he added, "Tennis, it's what she loves. I'm happy for her."


Uh huh.

Update on Gasquet

Richard Gasquet is searching for a new coach for next year, reports L'Equipe.

The paper added that Yannick Noah has advised Gasquet to pick a foreign coach who speaks French and specifically mentioned Brad Stine, the former coach of Jim Courier and Sebastien Grosjean.

Gasquet will play the third ATP event of his comeback this week in Metz, having won a French league event last week by beating Fabrice Santoro in the final.


I thought Gasquet was tied to Lagardere. By the way "Pamela" has been ordered into rehab.

Damir Dokic's 15 month sentence has been upheld by a Serbian court. Hope that he gets the help he obviously needs.

Andy Murray has released a calendar featuring his physique. Just the Christmas gift for someone you feel close to.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

We Told You So...And Double Standards

by Savannah

From the New York Times

September 22, 2009
Henin to Return to Competitive Tennis

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 1:44 p.m. ET

BRUSSELS (AP) -- Former world No. 1 Justine Henin is returning to competitive tennis, making the announcement barely a week after Kim Clijsters capped her comeback from retirement with a second U.S. Open title.

Henin had been retired for just over a year, but at 27 says she has the fire and physical strength to compete for an eighth Grand Slam title. Her announcement on VTM television capped an about-face that went from her ''definitive decision'' to retire last year, to weeks of no comment to a smiling admission Tuesday that she truly missed the game too much.

She wants to play two exhibition tournaments, in Charleroi, Belgium, and Dubai, to hone her skills ahead of a competitive return next year with plans to compete in the next Grand Slam, the Australian Open.

''The fire within burns again,'' Henin said. ''I want to come back in January.''

Henin officially retired on May 14, 2008, initially rejecting any thought of a comeback with a dogged determination that had come to mark her play throughout a decade-long career that yielded seven Grand Slam titles and one Olympic gold medal.

At 27, it certainly is not too late for a comeback. As Clijsters proved, breaking back into the top tier at short notice is far from impossible. She won the U.S. Open in her third tournament since announcing her return.

''Subconsciously, it might have had an impact,'' Henin said of Clijster's successful comeback. ''But it certainly was not the most important reason.''

Like Clijsters, Henin is still in her prime and has been able to rest her body for over a year. Throughout her retirement, during which she became a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, Henin looked fit enough to immediately step back onto a court.

As recently as May, she complained about the old injuries that still gave her pain in the mornings and the dreaded life of living in a bubble as she was shuttled around the world chasing victories.

''The last 15 months I've been able to recharge the batteries, emotionally as well,'' Henin said.

Henin said coming face to face with the world's misery on UNICEF trips to places like eastern Congo widened her horizons like tennis never could.

Henin has won nearly $20 million in prize money and had been ranked No. 1 for all but seven weeks since Nov. 13, 2006, until her retirement. When she retired after a string of early tournament exits just ahead of Roland Garros, she felt the fire no longer within and gave in.

It was the first time in a life totally centered around her prodigious talent for whipping backhands past hapless competitors. She became the first woman player to retire as No. 1.

Then, suddenly, this summer the craving came back.


Craig and I said from the beginning that Henin's sudden "retirement" was related to something other than "burn out" in the traditional sense. We both always said that she would be back after a certain period of time. And now she's back.

The WTA issued the following statement.

STATEMENT FROM STACEY ALLASTER, CHAIRMAN & CEO, SONY ERICSSON WTA TOUR, IN RE JUSTINE HENIN ANNOUNCEMENT

Justine is one of the great champions in the history of women's tennis, and we, along with millions of her fans around the globe, are thrilled with her announcement today. Justine is that rare athlete who decided to step away from the game at the height of her powers, and no doubt she will be a force to be reckoned with from the get go. Her career was marked by so many amazing moments, and a new chapter begins today.


I could go on a rant about why the returns of both Clijsters and Henin have certain elements in tennis overjoyed but I won't because it would just mean rehashing everything that's been said about how TPTB really feel about having those Williams Women universally recognized as the best in the business. Henin has proven herself over the years to be a liar, a cheat and a person who exhibits unsportsmanlike conduct on a consistent basis. She is no different from Dinara Safina in her need for her coach to choreograph her every move on court.

The only thing I will give her is that she never had a cupcake draw handed to her. That is all I concede.

So now they've got what they want. Will Justine cherry pick her tournaments the way Kim has? Will she wait until the end of the year to enter a major or two? All this remains to be seen.

Now excuse me while I go do the "I told you so dance" in the corner.



The Agassi Incident

Just in case you were wondering what it is and why it's caused most of those calling for Serena Williams head to suddenly mute their calls here is an article from 2001 that describes what happened.

...it was flawed by moments when Agassi, who may never have another good chance of winning the title, could not contain his frustration and resentment.

The former champion complained so sulkily about one line decision that a section of the crowd booed him. On another occasion he swore loudly enough to upset a line judge, who came trotting dramatically all the way from her position at the back of the court to tell the umpire, which resulted in Agassi receiving a code violation warning. At the end he launched a ball into the back stop, nearly hitting the line judge who had made the tough call. He was lucky not to suffer further censure for that.

In the press conference the one-time king of glitz was caustic, embittered and almost unable to answer. Was the warning a little unfair? "Yeah, big time. I blame her husband for that," Agassi spat. What did he think about the quality of tennis? "I thought it sucked - really did."


For the entire article please go HERE

And lest we forget the new Belgian sensation Yanina Wickmayer sent a lineswoman to the hospital after throwing a ball at her in anger.

"Yanina displayed "Brat-Like" behavior throughout the tournament. Yanini had 5 code violations. She came close to hitting ball boys on 2 occasions. She launched balls over fences. For her final Code Violation and Disqualification Yanini hit a hard forehand to the back fence striking a defense-less 60 year old woman directly in the face causing a huge bruise. Yanini is dangerous and should seek anger management help."

I hope the ITF comes out with an official statement regarding the default. As Wickmayer was also in the doubles final, she voided the whole final day of play.


This is an eyewitness account that was posted on the fanboard Tennis Forum. Please take time to read the defenders of Wickmayer's actions and note that the ITF did absolutely nothing towards censuring her.

So the next time you hear some sanctimonious bullshit artist talking about "the image the kids will have of tennis" just hand them a nice steaming cup of my favorite joe.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Weekend Wrap Up

by Savannah

Shahar Pe'er is the Guangzhou 2009 Champion

Olga Govortsova and Tatiana Poutchek won the Doubles Championship at Guangzhou

Vania King and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova

Melinda Czink 2009 Quebec City Champion

Davis Cup Results


It will be defending champions Spain against the Czech Republic December 4-6 in Spain.
Complete results are listed below.

WORLD GROUP SEMIFINALS

CZECH REPUBLIC defeated CROATIA 4-1
Venue: Sportska Dvorana “Zatika”, Porec, CRO (clay - indoors)

Radek Stepanek (CZE) d. Ivo Karlovic (CRO) 67(5) 76(5) 76(6) 67(2) 1614
Tomas Berdych (CZE) d. Marin Cilic (CRO) 63 63 36 46 63
Tomas Berdych/Radek Stepanek (CZE) d. Marin Cilic/Lovro Zovko (CRO) 61 63 64
Jan Hajek (CZE) d. Roko Karanusic (CRO) 76(4) 64
Lovro Zovko (CRO) d. Lukas Dlouhy (CZE) 63 64

SPAIN defeated ISRAEL 4-1
Venue: Polaris World la Torre Golf Resort, Torre Pacheco, Murcia, ESP (clay - outdoors)

David Ferrer (ESP) d. Harel Levy (ISR) 61 64 63
Juan Carlos Ferrero (ESP) d. Dudi Sela (ISR) 64 62 60
Tommy Robredo/Feliciano Lopez (ESP) d. Jonathan Erlich/Andy Ram (ISR) 76(6) 67(7) 64 62
David Ferrer (ESP) d. Andy Ram (ISR) 63 61
Harel Levy (ISR) d. Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 75 62

Spain to host Czech Republic in 2009 World Group Final in Spain on 4-6 December.

WORLD GROUP PLAY-OFFS

CHILE defeated AUSTRIA 3-2
Venue: Medialuna Monumental of Rancagua, Rancagua, CHI (clay – outdoors)

Nicolas Massu
Nicolas Massu (CHI) d. Jurgen Melzer (AUT) 46 64 64 63
Paul Capdeville (CHI) d. Stefan Koubek (AUT) 64 64 36 16 64
Julian Knowle/Jurgen Melzer (AUT) d. Paul Capdeville/Nicolas Massu (CHI) 62 64 63
Jurgen Melzer (AUT) d. Paul Capdeville (CHI) 76(2) 46 62 57 64
Nicolas Massu (CHI) d. Stefan Koubek (AUT) 64 46 64 76(6)

BELGIUM defeated UKRAINE 3-2
Venue: Spiroudome de Charleroi, Charleroi, BEL (clay – indoors)

Christophe Rochus (BEL) d. Illya Marchenko (UKR) 63 64 36 62
Steve Darcis (BEL) d. Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) 62 63 64
Sergei Bubka/Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) d. Xavier Malisse/Olivier Rochus (BEL) 76(5) 36 64 76(4)
Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) d. Xavier Malisse (BEL) 63 36 06 61 63
Steve Darcis (BEL) d. Sergei Bubka (UKR) 62 61 60

ECUADOR defeated BRAZIL 3-2
Venue: Ginasio Gigantinho, Porto Alegre, BRA (clay – indoors)

Marcos Daniel (BRA) d. Giovanni Lapentti (ECU) 76(3) 36 76(4) 62
Nicolas Lapentti (ECU) d. Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) 76(2) 64 75
Giovanni Lapentti/Nicolas Lapentti (ECU) d. Marcelo Melo/Andre Sa (BRA) 36 63 64 46 64
Nicolas Lapentti (ECU) d. Marcos Daniel (BRA) 64 64 16 26 86
Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) d. Julio-Cesar Campazano (ECU) 62 64

FRANCE defeated NETHERLANDS 4-1
Venue: MECC Maastricht, Maastricht, NED (clay – indoors)

Thiemo de Bakker (NED) d. Gael Monfils (FRA) 63 57 63 64
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) d. Jesse Huta Galung (NED) 76(2) 62 76(3)
Michael Llodra/Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) d. Thiemo de Bakker/Igor Sijsling (NED) 63 36 76(2) 64
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) d, Thiemo de Bakker (NED) 76(5) 62 36 76(4)
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) d. Jesse Huta Galung (NED) 63 62

INDIA defeated SOUTH AFRICA 4-1
Venue: Ellis Park Indoor Arena, Johannesburg, RSA (hard – indoors)

Somdev Devvarman (IND) d. Izak van der Merwe (RSA) 76(5) 63 64
Rohan Bopanna (IND) d. Rik de Voest (RSA) 26 64 62 64
Jeff Coetzee/Wesley Moodie (RSA) d. Mahesh Bhupathi/Rohan Bopanna (IND) 63 36 40 ret. (Bhupathi right groin injury)
Somdev Devvarman (IND) d. Rik de Voest (RSA) 36 67(3) 76(5) 62 64
Yuki Bhambri (IND) d. Izak van der Merwe (RSA) 36 63 64

SERBIA defeated UZBEKISTAN 5-0
Venue: Belgrade Arena, Belgrade, SRB (hard – indoors)

Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) d. Denis Istomin (UZB) 62 57 61 64
Viktor Troicki (SRB) d. Farrukh Dustov (UZB) 64 36 63 46 62
Janko Tipsarevic/Nenad Zimonjic (SRB) d. Farrukh Dustov/ Denis Istomin (UZB) 62 63 62
Viktor Troicki (SRB) d. Murad Inoyatov (UZB) 46 64 63
Ilia Bozoljac (SRB) d. Vaja Uzakov (UZB) 61 64

SWEDEN defeated ROMANIA 3-2
Venue: Idrottens Hus, Helsingborg, SWE (hard – indoors)

Victor Hanescu (ROU) d. Andreas Vinciguerra (SWE) 76(5) 76(10) ret. (sprained ankle)
Robin Soderling (SWE) d. Victor Crivoi (ROU) 62 61 75
Robert Lindstedt/Robin Soderling (SWE) d. Victor Hanescu/Horia Tecau (ROU) 61 76(7) 76(5)
Robin Soderling (SWE) d. Victor Hanescu (ROU) 75 61 60
Marius Copil (ROU) d. Andreas Vinciguerra (SWE) 46 ret. (ankle injury)

SWITZERLAND defeated ITALY 3-2
Venue: Centro Sportivo "Valletta Cambiaso", Genoa, ITA (clay – outdoors)

Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) d. Andreas Seppi (ITA) 64 61 62
Roger Federer (SUI) d. Simone Bolelli (ITA) 63 64 61
Simone Bolelli/Potito Starace (ITA) d. Marco Chiudinelli/Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) 62 64 76(3)
Roger Federer (SUI) d. Potito Starace (ITA) 63 60 64
Fabio Fognini (ITA) d. Michael Lammer (SUI) 75 76(4)

Belgium, Chile, Ecuador, France, India, Serbia, Sweden and Switzerland qualify for 2010 World Group.

EUROPE/AFRICA ZONE GROUP I SECOND ROUND PLAY-OFFS

POLAND defeated GREAT BRITAIN 3-2
Venue: Echo Arena, Liverpool, GBR (hard – indoors)

Andy Murray (GBR) d. Michal Przsiezny (POL) 64 62 64
Jerzy Janowicz (POL) d. Dan Evans (GBR) 63 63 76(5)
Marius Fyrstenberg/Marcin Matkowski (POL) d. Ross Hutchins/Andy Murray (GBR) 75 36 63 62
Andy Murray (GBR) d. Jerzy Janowicz (POL) 63 64 63
Michal Przsiezny (POL) d. Dan Evans (GBR) 62 61 75

SLOVAK REPUBLIC defeated F.Y.R. MACEDONIA 5-0
Venue: Sibamac Arena, Bratislava, SVK (hard – indoors)

Dominik Hrbaty (SVK) d. Dimitar Grabuloski (MKD) 62 64 64
Lukas Lacko (SVK) d. Lazar Magdincev (MKD) 61 61 63
Martin Klizan/Filip Polasek (SVK) d. Dimitar Grabuloski/Lazar Magdincev (MKD) 63 63 63
Lukas Lacko (SVK) d. Shendrit Deari (MKD) 63 60
Dominik Hrbaty (SVK) d. Tomislav Jotovski (MKD) 60 60

Great Britain and FYR Macedonia relegated to Europe/Africa Group II in 2010.

AMERICAS ZONE GROUP I SECOND ROUND PLAY-OFFS

URUGUAY defeated PERU 4-1
Venue: Club Tennis Las Terrazas De Miralores, Lima, PER (clay – outdoors)

Marcel Felder (URU) d. Luis Horna (PER) 62 63 61
Pablo Cuevas (URU) d. Mauricio Echazu (PER) 64 63 62
Pablo Cuevas/Marcel Felder (URU) d. Luis Horna/Ivan Miranda (PER) 76(2) 36 63 62
Federico Sansonetti (URU) d. Ivan Miranda (PER) 75 76(2)
Mauricio Echazu (PER) d. Ariel Behar (URU) 62 63

Peru relegated to Americas Group II in 2010.

ASIA/OCEANIA ZONE GROUP I THIRD ROUND PLAY-OFFS

CHINA, P.R. defeated THAILAND 4-1
Venue: Jiaxing International Tennis Center, Jiaxing, CHN (hard – indoors)

Shao-Xuan Zeng (CHN) d. Kittiphong Wachiramanowong (THA) 57 61 62 64
Danai Udomchoke (THA) d. Ze Zhang (CHN) 63 63 62
Shao-Xuan Zeng/Ze Zhang (CHN) d. Sanchai Ratiwatana/Sonchat Ratiwatana (THA) 26 46 64 75 62
Shao-Xuan Zeng (CHN) d. Danai Udomchoke (THA) 26 64 36 61 64
Mao-Xin Gong (CHN) d. Kittiphong Wachiramanowong (THA) 75 36 63

Thailand relegated to Asia/Oceania Group II in 2010.

EUROPE/AFRICA ZONE GROUP II FINAL ROUND

LATVIA defeated SLOVENIA 3-2
Venue: Tennis Centre "Lielupe", Jurmala, LAT (carpet - indoors)

Grega Zemlja (SLO) d. Andis Juska (LAT) 61 61 64
Ernests Gulbis (LAT) d. Luka Gregorc (SLO) 46 67(3) 64 64 86
Luka Gregorc/Grega Zemlja (SLO) d. Ernests Gulbis/Deniss Pavlovs (LAT) 67(5) 64 62 26 64
Ernests Gulbis (LAT) d. Grega Zemlja (SLO) 62 36 63 75
Andis Juska (LAT) d. Blaz Kavcic (SLO) 63 64 62

FINLAND defeated CYPRUS 3-2
Venue: Salohalli, Salo, FIN (hard – indoors)

Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) d. Photos Kallias (CYP) 62 61 60
Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) d. Henri Kontinen (FIN) 63 63 62
Henri Kontinen/Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) d. Marcos Baghdatis/Photos Kallias (CYP) 67(4) 16 62 63 75
Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) d. Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) 75 63 36 64
Henri Kontinen (FIN) d. Photos Kallias (CYP) 60 75 60

Latvia and Finland promoted to Europe/Africa Group I in 2010.

AMERICAS ZONE GROUP II FINAL

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC defeated VENEZUELA 3-2
Venue: Santo Domingo Tennis Club, Santo Domingo, DOM (clay – outdoors)

Jhonson Garcias of the Dominican Republic
Victor Estrella (DOM) d. Daniel Vallverdu (VEN) 64 63 46 75
Jose de Armas (VEN) d. Jose Hernandez (DOM) 63 61 36 61
Jose de Armas/Daniel Vallverdu (VEN) d. Victor Estrella/Jhonson Garcia (DOM) 64 76(6) 61
Victor Estrella (DOM) d. Jose de Armas (VEN) 63 26 76(6) 36 61
Jhonson Garcia (DOM) d. Daniel Vallverdu (VEN) 63 63 75

Dominican Republic promoted to Americas Group I in 2010

ASIA/OCEANIA ZONE GROUP II FINAL

PHILIPPINES defeated NEW ZEALAND 4-1
Venue: Philippine Columbian Association, Manila, PHI (clay – indoors)

Treat Conrad Huey (PHI) d. Daniel King-Turner (NZL) 64 67(5) 60 ret. (cramping)
Cecil Mamiit (PHI) d. Jose Statham (NZL) 64 75 62
Treat Conrad Huey/Cecil Mamiit (PHI) d GD Jones/Mikal Statham (NZL) 76(4) 63 75
Johnny Arcilla (PHI) v Mikal Statham (NZL) 63 26 64
Jose Statham (NZL) d. Vicente Elberto Anasta (PHI) 61 75

Philippines promoted to Asia/Oceania Group I in 2010.

Miscellany

The hype about Justine Henin coming back is reaching fever pitch. Do we really need this lying, cheating player back on the tour? Do we really? You don't get to be the head of the WTA by being Mr. Nice Guy but you do get there knowing how to do public relations work and how to schmooze the press. When Larry Scott basically said "don't let the door hit you on the way out" after Henin's sudden "retirement" you know something stunk to high heaven.

It's going to be interesting to see how Kim Clijsters cherry picks her way through next year. Roadkill doesn't affect her unless she's top ten. Let's see where she chooses to play before we start seeing angels dancing on the head of her racquet.

Liezel Huber, after she and Cara Black lost to Venus Williams and Serena Williams at the US Open said they won because "they're bigger and stronger than us". I turned it off after that since she could've gone on to say that they are a better doubles team than we are. Don't think she did though.

It's amazing to me how all of a sudden there is no good angle to prove or disprove that Serena foot faulted. I clearly remember that CBS showed conclusively that there was no foot fault. They had the angle. Now everyone says there's no conclusive proof. Right. Just remember people Mariana Alves is still working as a chair umpire in professional tennis. I know if I were playing and I saw that lines person I'd be just a wee bit wary of her calls. I'm being honest. The other thing that was funny about that incident was that the chair was totally oblivious to what was going on until someone said something to her. Can you imagine Lars Graf, Mohammad Lahyani, Carlos Bernardes or any of the top chair umpires not noticing the commotion? Again, I'm just saying.

Caroline Wozniacki is now a top five player.

WTA Top-10

1.Dinara Safina, Russia, 8,340 points

2.Serena Williams, United States, 7,807

3.Venus Williams, United States, 6,645

4.Elena Dementieva, Russia, 6,015

5.Caroline Wozniacki, Denmark, 5,850

6.Svetlana Kuznetsova, Russia, 5,580

7.Vera Zvonareva, Russia, 5,330

8.Jelena Jankovic, Serbia, 5,300

9.Victoria Azarenka, Belarus, 4,592

10.Flavia Pennetta, Italy, 3,490


So CBS had to issue a statement about the cavalier treatment given Juan Martin del Potro by Dick Enberg. Again it has to be said the the anger should be directed at the producer who was telling Enberg to speed it up so that the sponsors could get their say. Tennis fans unite! Do you think they would've said jack if tennisheads hadn't flooded their email accounts in protest? Yay us!

Thanks to Tennis Grandstand for posting the following information.

Apparently apparel company Fila has deep pockets. According to reports, Kim Clijsters was given a significant bonus by her shoe and clothing sponsor for her surprising US Open singles championship. And where companies usually insure these bonuses, CNBC says Fila did not. The bonus is reported to be in the range of USD $300,000, which could buy a lot of shoes for Clijsters’ young daughter. Darren Rovell of SportsBiz says that while it’s standard practice for companies to insure their big incentive bonuses to minimize the risk, Fila didn’t do it with Clijsters since she had played just two tournaments following a two-year retirement. The odds on Clijsters winning were as high as 40-to-1.


Zina Garrison has settled the racial discrimination suit she brought against the United States Tennis Association (USTA). A deal was signed on August 27, although its terms were not disclosed. A former Fed Cup captain, Garrison filed her lawsuit in February, saying she was unfairly treated, paid a lower salary than Davis Cup coach Patrick McEnroe while being held to higher standards. As a player, Garrison was the 1990 Wimbledon runner-up, at the time becoming the first black woman since Althea Gibson to play in a Grand Slam tournament singles final. She became the first black captain of the US Fed Cup team when she replaced Billie Jean King in 2004. Spokesman Chris Widmaier said the USTA is happy the case was resolved and looks forward to working with Garrison in the future.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The 2009 US Open - A Final Look

by Savannah


Juan Martin del Potro from Tandil, Argentina, is the 2009 United States Open Men's Champion. He is twenty years old.

Early in yesterdays match, when it looked as if the man I call The Monogram was going to run away with the win there was some light hearted banter among the talking heads of CBS about what was happening on court. Mary Carillo said, when asked what del Potro was good at, said that he was good at being tall. One of her peers asked her to clarify and she said it again just to make sure she was understood. Hilarity ensued. By the end of the evening they were all singing a different tune.

Young Mr. del Potro is the second Argentine to win the US Open. The first was Guillermo Vilas who won in 1977 when the event was still played on clay. It was an historic victory in many ways but it was what happened afterwards that shaped the face of American tennis. The men behind the curtain didn't like the fact that a South American had won and the decision was made to change the surface the US Open was played on, in fact to change most of the training for up and coming American tennis players, from clay which was the dominant surface, to hard courts. This was to stop "others" from winning what was thought to be an American championship. And yet thirty two years later another South American born man hoisted the trophy, this time in Arthur Ashe Stadium after winning the American Slam.

So what happened to the Americans this year? The only American player to make it to the semi finals was Serena Williams. Every other American was out early. Not one American man made it past the round of sixteen. Why was that? I mean we've got some guys who are "good at being tall" playing now don't we? Haven't we got men like John Isner? Sam Querrey? Why are countries that were said to only produce, to use the pejorative "dirtballers" suddenly producing kids who thrive on hard courts while American young people are falling by the wayside unable to compete internationally?

To stick with South America for a few more minutes let's look at Fernando Gonzalez, David Nalbandian, Guillermo Canas and Gustavo Kuerten. All are excellent hard court players but again, due to where they were born, they were looked down on by the tennis establishment. Canas had his career stolen from him just when he was coming into his own. Nalbandian is known for his hard partying ways in the American press and Gonzalez for years only had that forehand. Of the four Kuerten was known for his wins at Roland Garros and can be said to be the only true clay courter among the four.

Gonzalez made the decision to hire Larry Stefanki, an American, and suddenly he was competitive, going deeper in tournaments than he ever had before. He accepted that his game worked better on hard courts and embraced what Stefanki was teaching him. It was a major turning point for the South American men because it gave players like del Potro the freedom to develop and play the game the way they wanted to.

I want to take a minute and say that Stefanki, now working with American Andy Roddick, has once again pioneered a change. Roddick is now playing what I call "modern tennis". His serve is now part of his game not his entire game. This will bear fruit down the line since American youngsters will now have the freedom to embrace their inner player and not be forced to be mindless ball bashers with no idea how to construct a point and with no knowledge of strategy beyond hitting the ball hard.

I've been hitting the men pretty hard but the women are not exempt from this. While watching Serena Williams vs Kim Clijsters it occurred to me that the reason Serena was having so many problems is because she is not used to playing someone like Kim anymore. The current crop of women need their hands held through every point and can barely think for themselves. They aren't able to hit hard but with accuracy to any part of the court and adjust their games when need be. No matter how great a player you are if you've been getting by with using only 3/4 of your skills it's hard to reverse and start using tactics you haven't needed to use in a couple of years. Serena said as much when she said that now that she knew how Kim played she'd be ready for her next time.

The United States tennis establishment can no longer sit on the sidelines looking down their noses while arrogantly declaring that the only real tennis is played on either a hard or grass court. It's obvious that thirty years from Vilas victory that the American attitude towards the rest of the tennis world not located in Great Britain or Australia is archaic and that the rest of the world has caught up and surpassed us. When someone like James Blake could state without irony that American players don't care about the European clay court swing because they prefer Wimbledon and the hardcourts something is wrong. When your players have no idea how to counter the rise of players skilled in tactics and strategy something is wrong. When one of the young men you tout as the next big thing goes to a casino the night before a big match instead of preparing himself mentally and physically for the next day something is wrong. When a young South American player who came on the scene a couple of years ago and who will turn 21 on September 23 already has a Grand Slam trophy on his mantlepiece while the American hopes win smaller tournaments and serve as filler for European ones something is wrong. When an American man hasn't been a serious Grand Slam contender since 2003 something is wrong. When a tennis establishment is more interested in tearing down it's best player instead of, like the FFT supporting it's player come hell or high water something is wrong.

There are already new names on many tennisheads radar. Gianni Mina of France, Heather Watson of Great Britain, Noppawan Lertcheewakarn of Thailand, Kristina Mladinovic of France and Yuki Bhambri of India come to mind. How ironic is it that the two young Americans who did well during the US Open, Chase Buchanan who almost won the Junior Boy's Tournament and Melanie Oudin both come from outside of USTA Player Development?

Efforts are being made to change the culture of Player Development. "More clay, less ball bashing," seems to be the mantra yet the people being hired are wed to the system as it was, have been part of it all of their professional lives. As I see it change on that side of the street will be glacial. The innovation and more complete players are coming from outside of the tennis factories in Florida.

So while to many Juan Martin del Potro's victory is a clarion call to become the best player you can be and to use your skills to your advantage to others it's their worst nightmare come true. It took thirty years to get into this mess. It's going to take some time to get out of it. Is the narrow minded and provincial attitude that got us to this point going to once again win out or will it be acknowledged by more than words that something is wrong and the fix needs to be found sooner rather than later? We've come full circle people. It's 1977 again for United States tennis.


End Note:

Taking a couple of days off. I hope to be back for Davis Cup.

Monday, September 14, 2009

US Open Final Impressions

by Savannah

US Open 2009 Champions

Travis Parrot and Carly Gullickson Mixed Doubles Champions

Girls Champion Heather Watson (left) and runner up Yana Buchina

Boy's Champion Bernard Tomic (right) and runner up Chase Buchanan

Men's Doubles Champions Dlouhy and Paes (right) with runner ups Bhupathi and Knowles

Women's Singles Champion Kim Clijsters

Women's Doubles Champions Venus Williams and Serena Williams

Mens Singles Champion Juan Martin DelPotro

I have said it before and I'll say it again. A soft draw does not a champion make. The USTA did everything it could to give Roger Federer a "bye" to the Final while making sure the guys on the other side of the draw would have to fight it out for the chance to take the court against him.

There's an old saying that goes when you dig a grave for someone dig two holes. There were rain delays but this time the Monogram didn't get five days off while everyone else played. The rain mess - starting the second men's quarterfinal knowing that bad weather was coming didn't work out either.

In the end it was injury that prevented the marquee matchup in men's tennis from taking place and an unlikely, gangly twenty year old stood across the net from the man the talking heads were already handing his sixth straight US Open title.

At one point early in the match Mary Carillo made the statement that Del Potro was good "at being tall". When asked to clarify what she meant she said it again. I guess Juan Martin proved he's good at more than being tall.

Congratulations to all the winners. I've listed them in winning order. Many complained that this Open was just "meh" because it seemed as if the ending was preordained. We tennisheads should know better. They play the matches for a reason.

Miscellany

The Wall Street Journal" reports the following:

Look for foot-faults to be included among the calls in tennis that will be reviewable by the Hawk-Eye system at next year's U.S. Open.

Serena Williams was called for a foot-fault just two points from losing her semifinal match with Kim Clijsters on Saturday, and after the call she cursed at the lineswoman, resulting in a point penalty that ended the match. The play is not reviewable under USTA rules, but officials discussed changing that at a meeting Sunday morning, and they plan to revisit the issue in the coming months, said USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier.

Paul Hawkins, head of Hawk-Eye Innovations Ltd., the United Kingdom firm behind the computerized line-calling system, said its digital cameras only track and make animated images of the ball for close line calls. They aren't set up to rule on foot-faults, though he said adding that would be fairly simple. As of Sunday, CBS said it had not found a better angle to show the call than an inconclusive shot from behind the baseline. However, Steve Gorsuch, director of broadcast operations for the USTA, said there is a camera positioned along the baseline of the north side of the court for most prominent matches. Unfortunately, Ms. Clijsters was standing on that side during Ms. Williams's service game.

—Matthew Futterman and Carl Bialik


Everyone is all in Serena's shit but the entire situation arose from a bad call. There is even a post on YouTube with subtitles alleging Serena used an anti Asian racial slur which did not happen.
John McEnroe, who's been threatening and cursing out lines people for about twenty years by the way, said when it happened and repeated on Sunday that you do not make that call at that point of the match. We'd seen Serena come back from being down already in that match so the call, on a match point, was bush league to say the least. Guess that lines person will be doing Futures and satellites although Mariana Alves, the most incompetent chair on the planet is still working majors so one never knows.

With all this carrying on let's look back to earlier this year when Victoria Azarenka had a stunning meltdown at Brisbane. She cursed and carried on something fierce at the chair umpire demanding that the chair agree with her. The chair refused. And let's not forget Yanina Wickmayer's ball toss during a fit of pique that sent a lines person to the hospital. I don't remember anyone screaming "off with their heads".

And just now the Monogram cursed out chair umpire Jake Garner. Dick Enberg says that the Monogram wasn't being "venomous". Mary Carillo reminded him that he still cursed the chair. CBS cut off the diatribe mid way so we really won't know what really got said.

It always amazes me that angry African Americans seem to scare the crap out of people and that the "fullest extent of the law" is always brought against them.

The brothers McEnroe mentioned that the kind folks who run the US Open are now seriously thinking about doing what all the other Slams do and put a day between the semi finals and final so that everyone gets the same treatment. The mentioned that this has been under discussion for thirty years. Guess the roof thing is simply a gleam in their collective eyes...

End Note

Why did Dick Enberg try so hard to stop Juan Martin from speaking in Spanish to his family and supporters?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

US Open Day 13 Impressions

by Savannah


When they dragged out the Jimmy Connors vs Aaron Krickstein match you know the jig was up. There would be no women's semi final aired on the Eye this afternoon.

Just before this "Classic" was aired for the gazillioneth time reports surfaced on Twitter that said the TD of the US Open, Michael Curley, and the executive director of the USTA Gordon Smith were holding a press conference. Do I have to say what Topic A was? Some of the more amazing statements that were tweeted include the following:

  • Why should they spend $100m for a roof that will only be used once or twice a year?

  • Rain is more of a problem in London than in New York.


I guess there's a reason so many are excluded from the ranks of the press at the US Open because my first question after the cost thing would have been "How much did it cost the AELTC? The FFT? Is the USTA content to put on the only Slam that has nothing to protect the players, and the tournament, from the elements?" As for the "Rain is more of a problem in London" quip I would've simply asked if they'd taken a look outside lately. Last year was a hurricane. Today it was a persistant drizzle.

That fecal matter apparently didn't stick to the wall so the message became that they are just beginning to contemplate a roof for Ashe. I talked about this earlier this year if you recall. They said that they wouldn't do it. Now with the second embarrassing weather related situation in as many years they're saying "maybe". Some fans are saying they will have to build a new stadium. Let's wait and see if the subject even comes up again in what passes for tennis media once the tournament is completed.

As I've said this system was known to be on it's way. Why is the USTA always caught flat footed when weather intervenes in their glorious plans? Is their first thought the players or one player? All major sports events have the best weather intelligence available. Only one player got protected during this interval. The fact that a couple of others got to come along for the ride doesn't make it any different than it was last year.

And while I'm on the subject once again I question having Mary Joe Fernandez anywhere near the Monogram with a microphone. I thought she and her husband's client were going to start dishing about where to eat dinner during her "interview". I swear I could count every one of her teeth she was smiling so broadly. Pammy may be a loose cannon, PMac wouldn't be able to get up off his knees, and Cahill would have the sense to recuse himself from that farce today. I'd rather Pammy ask to see the Monogram's Speedo than have that conflict of interest thrown in my face as "journalism". There was no way they were going to let the experienced sports journalist Mike Tirico near him was there? Oh, my bad, he works for ESPN. When the Monogram came out with he was home taking care of the twins I lost it.

The Women's Semi Finals

So why, when there was a short window, didn't the geniuses start either the men's doubles final or the first women's semi final? Only certain players get to play stop/start tennis? Did Dinara's little tantrum traumatize them that much? Did Serena's representatives go "Nuh-uh?" Seriously no way Serena and Saint Kim play on Armstrong so the only choice was to move the men's doubles or the teens. Guess who loses in that scenario?

Miscellany

Some were concerned about my proposal that both men's quarterfinals could have been played on Thursday. They seemed concerned that ticket holders would somehow be jobbed. I will say it again. This is the age of the computer. You can make the computer do whatever you want it to do with a few keystrokes. Take a look at the message now posted on the official web site, USOpen.Org. No more silly concerns okay people?

The Junior Tournament

Heather Watson
The junior tournament was moved indoors so there was no live scoring available. Once again Colette Lewis came through and tweeted results all through the day. There were some really surprising results to say the least.

Young Heather Watson of Great Britain defeated Noppawan Lertcheewakarn to making it to the final after beating Ms Gavrilova.

Laura Robson lost to Ms Buchina 7-5 in the third set.

Chase Buchanan who like Melanie Oudin is somewhat of an outsider defeated top ranked Yuki Bhambri in straight sets 6-3, 7-6(4). He then went on to defeat Gianni Mina of France making it to the final.

Enfant terrible Bernard Tomic got through to the final by winning his second match in straight sets.

As a side note this is Colette's latest Tweet.
Back at the Media Center--lots of frustration here. At least the juniors got to play some tennis today!


End Note

The BBC posted an article about today's presser. Most of it is just blather from TPTB but the article ends with this little gem.

The 'Super Saturday' format of playing both men's singles semi-finals and the women's final on the same day, before the men return 24 hours later for their final, has also come in for criticism.
"We have a particular finals scenario that we've had in place for several decades, and we're comfortable that it is, in fact, fair," said tournament director Jim Curley.
"If you were to ask a player, would they say it's ideal? No, they would not say it's ideal. A player would like to get a day in between the semis and the finals. We all know that.
"It's important from our USTA perspective to promote and develop the growth of the game.
"It gets to a much larger audience, and that's one of the reasons why we do it."


Translation: Mo' money, mo' money. It's absurd to continue the format when it can be so easily manipulated. But I've said that already.

Right now play is suspended. I'm sorry, I wasn't aware that any play was taking place.

Friday, September 11, 2009

We Must Never Forget

Tennis Talk US Open Day 12

by Savannah


All I have to say is this.

They knew that this weather system was coming. It's not like some freak storm that just appeared out of the blue. Would it not have made better sense to move the Women's Doubles semi and the Mixed Doubles final to Armstrong yesterday, cancel the night session, and allow fans with tickets for the night session to attend an extended Day Session getting both men's matches in? They had enough time to get the word out so that fans would know what to do.

I'm sure ESPN wanted that night match but at some point someone has to tell these network people to fuck off, we're doing what's best for our players and fans.

It's been announced that Serena and Kim will play on Ashe, Rafa and Gonzo on Armstrong, and Yanina and Caroline on the Grandstand. All matches will start at 2:30p Eastern weather permitting.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

US Open Day 10 Impressions

by Savannah

It ended as it had to. The stage was huge, the hype was out of control, and the junior who had been overlooked for so long played her age and experience. Melanie Oudin never really relaxed last night. With so many people talking at her, including Fed Cup Captain Mary Jo Fernandez about what to do against Caroline Wozniacki it seems as if the voice of her coach got drowned out.
He said as much in his brief talk with Pam Shriver.
What happens now? Will she continue to play juniors with occasional forays onto the main tour or will her team encourage her stick to the main tour. As we saw last night she is really not ready to play the big dogs. She needs to work on her game if she's going to compete with the top seeds. It would be nice if she continues to do what she's been doing but the hypebeast is merciless and needs to be fed. Let's see what happens to young Ms Oudin over the next year. Oh, and look out for the Russian Fed Cup team. You, Melanie, are on their radar.

As for Caroline Wozniacki she played a beautifully focused match. She did not let the moment get to her. She was the seed and she played like it. Anyone who has raised children knows the two years from seventeen to nineteen are crucial for emotional and physical growth. Caroline has been playing the main tour for some time now. She's had her share of spectacular failures and glorious wins. She won the Pilot Pen tournament, the warm up for the US Open after taking some much needed time off. There was never a doubt as to who would win the match, all the quips about starting the match in the second set aside.

Caroline will face Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium in her semi final match. I'd never seen Wickmayer play before and unfortunately all I knew about her was from an incident earlier this year where she had a spectacular meltdown and threw a ball that hit a lines person causing the person to have to go to the hospital. I had no idea how she would play Kateryna Bondarenko who is also a fiery character.

The match was not bad. I've seen worse played by higher ranked players. The major disappointment was K-Bond who showed none of the fire that got her a love and love victory in the prior round. She was playing cautiously and never let herself relax enough to get into the match. She picked up a little in the second set but it wasn't enough. Wickmayer flared up but quickly calmed down and stifled any hope Kateryna had of forcing a third set. Yanina showed sound fundamentals and a good tennis brain. Her match against Caroline will test her new found calm, and her skills.

Hype, the US Open, and Privilege

It was the above mentioned Pam Shriver who got booed last night but long before that bizarre on court interview with the loser of the match while the winner stood by the people who run the tournament showed the worst judgement of the event so far.

Anyone who goes to the night session knows that if the day session on Ashe runs long there can be a substantial wait while the cavernous stadium is cleaned - believe me it needs to be cleaned - and prepared for the evening.

Anyone who has been to a tennis match knows that once play starts fans are allowed in only at changeovers. With last nights highly anticipated women's match the lower tier seats were going to be full early because people wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

If normal protocol had been followed the women's match would've started about 8p Eastern time. Not bad right? I mean if push came to shove one of the matches could simply be moved to Armstrong. That's what happened the other night right?

As it turned out the cleaning people were told to scram and the women took the court about seven thirty, plus or minus fifteen minutes. The seats were empty and ESPN did show the fans still trying to enter Ashe even as the women were playing the first set. Needless to say there were delays on the first couple of changeovers until the fans were seated.

Now why would that happen? Was ESPN anxious to get tennis off the air and so pushed for the match to start no matter what or was something else at work here?

Let's get real. There was no way the women's match was going to be moved. There was absolutely no way the mens match was going to be moved. I don't think Caroline or Melanie have enough juice to dig in their heels and say "we ain't moving" but someone else playing last night did. Could it be that someone was anxious to get back to his Carlyle apartment at a "decent" hour so he could rest his sacred head on his silk monogrammed pillow cases and contemplate his glory? I don't have a clue. I just found it odd that they literally threw the women on the court the way they did. Since no one in the main stream tennis media will ask the question I just thought I would.

As for Pam Shriver's behavior I give her a pass. She is told where to go and who to talk to. She doesn't have control over her actions in and around the court. Some asshole told her to grab Melanie right after the match ended. Melanie could clearly be heard asking Pam "Right now?" in total shock. She asked Pam if she was sure more than once before the interview started. I'd love to see what would happen if they tried to interview any other player, male or female, in that situation. I don't blame Pam, I blame the idiot produceer. There are those who will say she should have just said no. She has children.

This and That

Fernando Verdasco played through pain and finished his match against Novak Djokovic yesterday afternoon. Novak will face the Monogram next.

Lots of chatter among the talking heads about the Marin Cilic vs Juan Martin del Potro match, most of it having to do with their height. They're very tall. We know that. How do their games match up guys? Does either one have that one shot or element in their game that will neutralize the other? Oh wait, they're tall. My bad.

I've been trying to figure out why all the hate towards Yanina Wickmayer. Could it be because she went to Florida to train and then went back to Belgium? I don't know. It's just bizarre. I mean people train in Florida all the time and then play for their home country.

Rumors started flying last night about Justine Henin coming back to the tour. Soon. Guess that involuntary vacation must be over soon.

It should be mentioned that the McEnroe family has always had rather close ties with Novak Djokovic. Was the other night staged? Maybe. Did Novak's people want to rehab his image with American tennis fans? Probably. Did it work? Cute is good the first couple of times. After a couple of times it gives you cavities. Oh and John, now there really is only one American left.

Reports are that none of the top Russian women will play the Kremlin Cup. With the Roadkill schedule the way it is it makes perfect sense for them not to play. Rumors are that Elena Dementieva will be added to the draw via a WC so that if she does withdraw she doesn't end up with a zero pointer. As of now I'm reading Dinara Safina, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Maria Sharapova will also skip the event.

The WTA corrected itself regarding the number one ranking. Serena Williams has to win the Open in order to regain the top spot. Film at eleven.

End Note


There are people who don't like Andy Roddick. That is their perogative. I'm not a big fan but sometimes he shows flashes of the person he was when he first came on tour. In a startlingly frank online piece The Guardian did a pre US Open assessment of the American tennis scene. Andy's fans may read it and weep but the end of the article is what made me sit up and take notice. I have to thank tennis head "Special600" for posting this article.


Aficionados have long known about the talents of the 17-year-old Melanie Oudin, who beat the former world No1 Jelena Jankovic at Wimbledon this year, but casual observers – and there are always plenty of those in the stands at Flushing Meadows – embraced her second-round victory over the No4 seed, Elena Dementieva, early on Thursday as the second coming of Billie Jean King. Likewise, the local media heralded Oudin's progress into the third round, where she will meet Maria Sharapova, as a landmark moment for US women's tennis.

"Everyone keeps waiting for the American girl. You went through that being a boy," was the questioned posed to Roddick after his victory over Gicquel. There is one major flaw with that question and it is that no one is "waiting for the American girl", at least not if they acknowledge that in Venus and Serena Williams the host country has the two most dominant players in the women's game.


Indeed, while America's male players have floundered since Roddick's victory here in 2003, the Williams sisters have won eight grand slam titles between them. Serena currently holds three of the major trophies. It is hardly Oudin's fault that in the rush to diminish the Williams sisters her achievement has been elevated beyond its true status, but it doesn't diminish the ugliness of the sentiment.

Perhaps if the question had been "everyone keeps waiting for the 'white' American girl" there would have been no ambiguity.

As it was, Roddick, who is a close friend of Serena Williams, did not let the moment pass without kicking back.

"From what I have been looking at and reading, it doesn't seem like Venus and Serena are in any hurry to go anywhere,'' he said, with noticeable sarcasm. "Everyone is always looking for the next big thing. Well, the present, as far as the women's game goes, is pretty good. It feels like [people] will only really appreciate that once they are gone."

Don't count on it.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

US Open Day 9 Impressions

by Savannah

That was a hell of a men's match last night. Props to Gael Monfils for playing his ass off especially since he had no legs after the second set. The drunks, I mean crowd, tried to buoy him but there was not much he could do.

Speaking of fans how the hell did this happen? I know the woman security official is well trained but she was literally standing by herself when this particular fan made his way on court from the high priced seats. She was eventually helped but the lapse is startling. I've seen security run the kids with the big yellow balls off when it was perceived they were too close to the court or too rowdy. To its credit ESPN2 brought the man who runs security for the Open on live this morning to ask what happened. He blathered on about increased security, etc and said that it won't happen again. If your forces can behave like the gestapo towards kids why was no one guarding the sidelines against an incident like this? Fortunately this clown was only armed with a camera. It's a time honored US Open thing that after a certain time you can sit where you want. I hope one fool doesn't cause that tradition to be suspended.


I missed the Marin Cilic vs Andy Murray match yesterday. Kind of. I mean it was on the television but I had the sound down because I was watching Juan Martin del Potro vs Juan Carlos Ferrero online. I figured that would be the better match. I glanced at the television and saw that Cilic had won the first set. I shrugged and went back to the match I was watching. When I looked up again Cilic was waving to the crowd. Knowing how heavily invested some of the talking heads were in Murray I put the sound back on. The common refrain seemed to be "it's not that he lost but how he lost". That has continued into today. I don't know what happened so if anyone was watching please reply with details. Thanks.
The Fashion Disasters

Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Nadia Petrova during their match yesterday. Just in case you wanted to know why Bethanie has her own little place in the annals of tennis fashion. If you haven't seen the dress Craig has described as a garbage bag with ruffles it'll be on display tonight when Caroline Wozniacki plays Melanie Oudin. Let's hope Melanie and Usain Bolt never get together on shoe designs. I mean really. Who will win tonight? Who the hell knows.

End Notes

Brad Gilbert was having a ball making fun of Yanina Wickmayer's last name. He also keeps calling Kateryna Bondarenko "The Flying Bondarenko Sister". One would think that any discussion of the Tier III section of the women's draw would focus on why Caroline Wozniacki and Serena Williams are the last seeds standing not on what you perceive is a funny name. I find it amusing that when the subject of the WTA situation is broached it's in terms of the "depth" of the women's game. Kind of reminds me of that old joke about the degrees of education one can obtain. You start with the Bachelor of Science = BS = Bull Shit. You move on to the Master of Science = MS = More Shit, and finally you get the PhD = Piled Higher and Deeper. We're at the PhD stage with the WTA now.

It can't be said often enough that Kim Clijsters was crazy like a fox coming back in the second part of the year after the FO and Wimbledon. She's got fresh legs, a clear mind, and a nanny to help her focus. That said Li Na seemed beaten before she took the court yesterday. She said she never plays well on Ashe and that she was just going out there and, well, play.
The key to Clijsters is her quick style of play. If you take that away from her she has to think too much and she gets flustered. If she controls the pace of the match her opponent is in trouble.

You live and learn. I never knew it was the brothers Luke and Murphy Jensen who started the chest bumping that has been made famous by the Bryan twins. I'm enjoying the commentary this morning. A lot. Jensen wants to talk about the match and is pointing out the strategy involved and what each team is doing. Cliff is letting him talk. Good work.

Think the Australians are a tad upset about Lleyton Hewitt moving his family from his native Australia to the Bahamas? Yahoo reports the following:

NASSAU, Bahamas (AP)—Lleyton Hewitt is defending his adopted Bahamas home.

Hewitt called a Bahamian newspaper to angrily reject an Australian media report that he and his wife are living in fear amid crime and poverty on the island.

The former No. 1 player told The Tribune in an interview published Wednesday that the Australian magazine report was “absolute rubbish.” He told the paper he and his family have had nothing but “fantastic experiences” in the nearly nine months they have lived in a gated community on New Providence island.

“We’ve made great friends over here, everyone’s been so friendly and we feel so safe,” he told the Nassau-based Tribune. “For us it’s a fantastic place to raise a young family.”



Sugiyama Ai is pondering retirement.

The 34-year-old Sugiyama has indicated the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo this month likely will be her last in a 17-year career in which her singles ranking rose to a high of No. 8.

“I am normally the type that can picture what the near future holds, but to be honest at this moment in time, I can’t see myself competing next season,” Sugiyama told Kyodo news on Wednesday.

At the U.S. Open on Monday, Sugiyama and Daniela Hantuchova lost to Yan Zi and Zheng Jie 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. She lost in singles to Samantha Stosur 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in the first round.

“I knew that the moment I realized I could play well in fits and starts but not over the course of a season, then it would be time to retire,” she said. “Now I would like to give something back to tennis.”

Sugiyama won six WTA tour singles titles and doubles titles at all the Grand Slam events except the Australian Open. She reached the final there this year.

SOURCE

Rain is predicted for tomorrow in New York.









Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Novel Idea...

by Savannah

I have no idea how I missed William C. Rhoden's New York Times piece on Richard Williams and Oracene Price and their future in tennis.



When Venus Williams broke through more than a decade ago, tennis officials predicted a far-reaching impact: a deluge of young African-American players from places like Compton, Calif., and Harlem would be playing world-class tennis.

More than a decade later, Venus and her sister Serena continue to dominate a sport that is still waiting for young African-American women to make the journey from urban areas to the world stage. Why hasn’t there been another Venus or Serena? The question is asked during every United States Open, and there never seems to be a plausible answer.

“I’ve been actually thinking about that, too, and wondering why and looking for them,” Oracene Price, their mother, said Monday during a telephone interview. “I was hoping that there would be one following them, but it seems like that hope is kind of fading. It’s a disappointment.”



Price and her former husband, Richard Williams, have presided over one of the great stories in tennis history: the rise of Venus and Serena Williams. Coached by their father, the sisters first played on public courts in Compton, and have grown to dominate women’s tennis. But why hasn’t their success been duplicated?

Studies have shown that more African-American girls were attracted to the game when the Williamses did well. Few, however, have stuck with the sport — fewer still in places where high unemployment and a lack of resources and exposure put the pursuit of a tennis career out of reach.

“You hear a name and they never come through,” Price said.

Kevin Clayton was hired this year as the United States Tennis Association’s chief diversity officer. His mission was to begin an aggressive initiative to attract a larger pool of players that more closely resembles the United States’ changing demographics.

“Our image as an industry has not really connected to that community,” Clayton said Monday. “It hasn’t been a focused effort where we’ve said, ‘Tennis is for everybody.’ ”

Clayton said that the U.S.T.A., with the best intentions, would show up in places like Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant, put a few rackets in kids’ hands and call that diversity.

The U.S.T.A. realized that there must be a deeper investment in the communities, targeting potential athletes and forging business relationships. Clayton is reaching out to historically black colleges and universities; African-American fraternities and sororities; and prominent social and service organizations to spread the word about tennis.

Beyond that, the U.S.T.A. could use the guidance and counsel of two people who broke the mold and created two champions. The organization should formalize its relationship with Oracene Price and Richard Williams. There is not a title broad enough to encompass what they could do, but let’s call them Ministers of Tennis, in charge of giving the sport its long-sought-after traction in underserved areas.

Price and Williams are divorced, but they have the answers to many questions that have puzzled the U.S.T.A. about bringing large numbers of African-American players — especially young girls — to tennis and turning them into champions.

Williams is more of a training guru, a scout who recognizes talent. Price, as she did with her daughters, could prepare talented young women emotionally for the rigors of world-class tennis. Their greatest challenges would have nothing to do with what takes place on the court. The players Price and Williams find and mentor would enter a world that is largely unfamiliar, often uncomfortable, initially intimidating and hostile — often without intending to be.

Price and Williams have helped Venus and Serena negotiate this world and they have done it largely on their own terms.

“It’s a totally different world,” Price said. “And if they don’t know how to cope in it and deal with the things they have to deal with, they won’t make it.

“If they can’t stand on their own as women, not reading all their own press, they can’t make it.” They could do the same for an untapped population of players the U.S.T.A. says it wants to target.



U.S.T.A. programs are commendable and tennis academies are often crucial, but if the Williams sisters have demonstrated anything it is that the major battles are fought and won in the mind.

“It’s not just programs,” Price said. “They have to be trained in their heads. It takes a lot of mental ability. They have to be prepared for the ups the downs — everything. If they’re not willing or able to do that and they’re not committed to doing that, then it’s going to be difficult.”

People often talk about the economic realities that make tennis seem unattainable for many. Money can be overstated.

“There’s a way around that,” Price said. “You don’t have to have the academy that’s just a bunch of people hitting balls. Anyone can learn to hit a ball; what’s important is what you have behind the ball, and what kind of mind you have when you hit it.”

Where are the next Venus and Serena?

Their parents could be pretty good judges of where and how to look.


I'll take it a step further. Why can't they work with our Fed Cup team as well? I'm just saying...