Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Week That Was

by Savannah

Now that Andre Agassi has admitted his use of meth went on for "a year or so" the ball is now firmly back in the ATP's court. When all is said and done it is the ATP that has to explain why it accepted the now admitted lie of drinking the wrong glass of soda or whatever and allowed Agassi to avoid drug testing that caused other - dare I say lesser - players to lose their source of income.

I really don't care about the hair or his jealousy because his then wife was doing her job. I refuse to be sidetracked by bullshit. What I do care about is the information given by players while this was all going on. I care what Nicolas Escude and Marcelo Rios said. I care what the ATP didn't say or do. I care about titles that may have been won while a player was "under the influence". I care that the "tennis press" (an oxymoron at this point) seems to have been an active participant in the cover up.

In the final analysis the sport of tennis has been damaged not because of a hair piece. It's been damaged because fans now know that anti drug testing was done on every Spanish player at some ungodly hour of the morning. We know that Belgian players were recently hauled before the anti drug administrators for missing drug tests. We know about Guillermo Canas and Guillermo Coria. We know about Volandri. And heaven knows we know about Richard Gasquet kissing the wrong girl and Mariano Puerta ingesting his wife's meds. And now we know that TPTB may have actively participated in covering up drug use by a man who was at that time one of it's star players. It was a secret only to the fans since players knew what was going on and spoke about it. Because the allegations were in the foreign press the US press could ignore it.

The last thing the ATP wants is for a completely independent look at just what was going on in men's tennis, specifically United States tennis, at that time. Who are the seven players who had positive tests that were ignored? At this time the only two players I'm willing to give a pass to are Pete Sampras and Michael Chang. Everyone else, Borg, Agassi, John McEnroe, is fair game.


It's been a strange week. The White Group, which consisted of "the future of women's tennis" has shown that they are really not ready for prime time. Between the tears, playacting, inability to handle the heat of the desert not to mention "fractured" backs that became "unfractured" and you have a soap opera. Meanwhile the "old biddies" of the Maroon Group seem to be doing just fine, nagging injuries and all. Almost all of the women in the Maroon group are pushing thirty and yet we've seen better tennis from them. If the future of women's tennis consists of drama taking the place physical and mental toughness we're in the deep end of the pool kiddies.


Anil John posted the following in the online edition of the Gulf Times.

Dinara Safina may be missing out on a large fan base because many in this part of the world are unaware she is a Muslim or simply don’t care. Both attitudes are based on some serious fault lines.
Now, I know all about keeping religion away from sport and that sports stars should be appreciated for what they do on the court and not on the basis of what faith they belong to. But in Safina’s case I don’t mind sticking my head out and ask some tough questions.

The lack of adulation for Safina is strange and incomprehensible for the simple reason that the Muslim world is so desperately short of women role models.

When Moroccan male tennis players such as Younes el-Aynaoui – a winner in Doha – and Hicham Arazi were regulars at the Qatar Open, fans packed the stands to cheer their every shot. But when Safina plays there’s hardly a ripple of excitement. It’s a question that demands serious answers. Is this because Safina is a woman, one is tempted to ask.

I find this a very odd time for an article like this to appear regarding Dinara Safina and tangentially her brother Marat Safin. With all the other pressure on Dinara right now does she really need a controversial issue like this on her shoulders? It's never really been a secret, their profiles on Wiki clearly state their religion, so my question is why now?

Anne Keothavong gets my "Heroine of the Week" award for asking why everyone is so surprised about Agassi. Once again those pesky foreigners seem to be much more informed than those of us on this side of the Atlantic.

There are actually three men's events taking place this week in Lyon, Wien, and St Petersburg. The results have been interesting to say the least. Add Horatio Zeballos to the top fifty after his performance this week after his breakthrough performance in St Petersburg.

Cara Black and Liezel Huber have secured the number one ranking in women's doubles for the third consecutive year. Congratulations ladies!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Marcelo Rios on Agassi

by Savannah

Thanks to Craig for finding a translation of comments the Chilean former number one made regarding drug testing and Andre Agassi. It's little wonder that Chino was hated by the American tennis establishment.

Scandal in Tennis

Rios thinks that the ATP protects Agassi of doping "I know that if nandrolona were found on Agassi, they would not disclose it. He is a very prominent, very popular player and if he were to fall, the world of tennis would fall with him. The ATP would not say it. They are such a large dependent organization that it would be a problem if Agassi or Sampras tested positive", attacked the Chilean, ex- Nº1 of the world. The Marcelo Chilean Rios, ex- Nº1 of the world, accused the organization of the ATP of never openly disclosing certified drug tests on Andre Agassi. When commenting on the situation of dopajes of the Argentinean Mariano Puerta and, specifically, of the Englishman Greg Rusedski, whom respectively tested positive of clenbuterol and nandrolona, the Chilean not only lamented the incidents but accused the ATP of favortism. In his third radial commentary since the 2 of January on the microphones of Chilean Radio, Rios directly blamed the Association of Professional Tennis players (ATP) of not wanting to surface similar cases of doping of the more famous players, focusing instead on the "lesser" players of the tour. "[We]the South Americans have discussed it repeatedly. It is a complicated subject. I do not have problem in saying it: we always said (we asked ourselves) who publicly certifies the doping tests of Agassi or Sampras ?". The Chilean left-handed person remembered a case in Australia 2002 "where there was a control and Agassi disappeared, saying that they were going to kidnap his son..."

"I would love to be able to see and certify Agassi's doping tests because now I currently have no idea who is doing the test, and who decides who gets it and who doesn't."

"I know that if they were to find nandrolona on Agassi, they wouldnt say it to anybody. It would taint his reputation and bring tennis down dramatically. ATP would not say it. It is such a large organization that it would be a problem if Agassi tested positive ", he charged. The newspaper La Tercera consulted the ATP, in Pontevedra, Florida, and obtained an answer by them stating that "the procedures are very basic and clearly are specified for everybody on our website ( and it publicly states how many times controls to the players have been performed". "We do not have favorites nor do we hold something against the South Americans", said Greg Sharko, director of Communications of the ATP. In the offices of Agassi Enterprises, in Las Vegas, they avoided making any commentary until Perry Rogers, representative of the tennis player, returns from a business trip in Los Angeles.

According to the statistics of the ATP, during 2002 1,428 controls were made and amongst the most frequently tested players of that year, the Russian Marat Safin, the Argentinean Juan Ignacio Chela, the Czech Jim Novak, the Swiss Roger Federer and the Swedish Jonas Bjorkman, appeared with ten controls each.

The translation was posted by tennis head undomiele HERE

I highlighted the Perry Rogers factoid because there has been speculation that Agassi revealing the meth information has to do with his split from his long time friend and confidant.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Not So Idle Chit Chat

by Savannah

A lot has come out since I last posted about the Agassi situation. It seems that a lot people spoke out in 2003/2004 about the drug situation in men's tennis. You have to give it to tennis fans. They know how to find the dirt.

7 Players Exonerated in 2004

ATP trainers provided electrolyte supplements

Seven top male tennis players who tested positive for nandrolone were exonerated by the ATP on "clearly unsustainable grounds", the World Anti-Doping Agency said on Friday.

WADA said in a statement that more positives had come to light despite the ruling body of men's tennis (ATP) withdrawing contaminated electrolyte supplements which it believed were the source of the banned anabolic steroid.

Testing of the suspect electrolytes failed to show up traces of nandrolone-related products, WADA said.

The ATP announced last July that players might have taken banned substances in supplements handed out by ATP trainers. It asked WADA to set up an investigation of the seven positive dope tests involving players between August 2002 and May 2003.

In its report WADA was scornful of the ATP's inconsistent disciplinary process covering the seven cases.

The allegation that an ATP-supplied electrolyte might be responsible for the positive test was made by just one of the players, the fifth charged, WADA said.

An ATP investigation "found through questioning ... that most of the 43 players with positive or elevated tests claimed (in retrospect) that they had used the electrolyte replacement product provided by trainers," WADA said.

WADA said the independent tribunals which exonerated the players made an "extraordinary series of findings" founded on two principles - shifting the onus of proof to the ATP to show it was not the source of the positive tests, and precluding the ATP from sanctioning players based on positive tests because it might have been responsible for those positives.

Briton Greg Rusedski was cleared of doping offences in March after an ATP-appointed tribunal found the ATP could have been responsible for his positive nandrolone test.

Rusedski admitted in January he had tested positive in a test taken in July 2003. The WADA review did not cover his case.

It should be noted that Guillermo Canas was banned for the same thing Rusedski was given a pass on.

Circling the Wagons - It Wasn't Me

Charles Bricker posts this in defense of the ATP.

If you're upset about the way the ATP handled the Andre Agassi drug case back in 1997, don't even try to hang this one on former CEO Mark Miles.

I just got off the phone with Mark and he explained that all decisions about drug violations is the 100 percent province of an independent, ITF-appointed panel of certified experts who have no direct connection whatever with the ATP, and that neither Miles nor any other ranking ATP executive has the power to override or amend that panel's decision. In any way.

That is a fact and it was reinforced today by a statement from the ATP, which reads:

“It has always been ATP policy not to comment on anti-doping test results unless and until an anti-doping violation has occurred. Under the tennis anti-doping program it is, and has always been, an independent panel that makes a decision on whether a doping violation has been found. The ATP has always followed this rule and no executive at the ATP has therefore had the authority or ability to decide the outcome of an anti-doping matter.”
Miles, who left the ATP in 2005 after 15 years as its No. 1 official, was as candid as he felt he could be, but he is honoring retroactive commitments not to comment on specific drug cases that came up during his tenure at the men's tour.

"I can't comment on any case. I can't even confirm that there was a case involving Andre. And I'm not going to comment on Andre's book. But I can amplify. I've seen the ATP statement and the statement is true. The ATP program was set up to ensure that any decision on any case was decided by a panel, a tribunal. And there were no exceptions to that.

"I don't know if Andre says anything in his book that is incongruous with that," he said, and then made what I thought was a very interesting remark. "Panels have made decisions that have left some people scratching their heads," said Miles.

Agassi in 2003...

World number two Andre Agassi has rejected claims by Australia's Andrew Ilie that illegal drug use is rife in professional tennis.
Ilie's claims cut little ice with Agassi, a strong supporter of drug testing.

"The one thing that I'd like to stick to is what we do know," said Agassi after his victory over South Korean Lee Hyung-Taik.

"What we know is, while there's been a minimal amount of players caught over the last 10 years, we are probably the leading sport in reference to how often we test, how professional our tests are and how strict our penalties are.

"The talk of who might be or might not be taking drugs is irresponsible," said Agassi.

The Gag Rule

Bill Simon and the Agassi book.

I had no choice. Word was out. Andre Agassi had a new autobiography that was about to hit and it promised to be a barnburner. After all, if any athlete could write a riveting, what’s-it-all-about volume, it was Andre.

But just to get an advance copy, I had to (for the first time in 29 years) sign a non-divulgence (”squeal and you die”) contract; a seven-clause gag rule saying I would not reveal the contents of the curiously titled book, “Open,” until early November. I agreed, and on Aug. 17, Andre’s four-pound 437-page baby arrived.

For weeks I devoured every detail. Then I waited and waited some more.

Certainly, the book’s explosive details would be leaked in the media. After all, deep within the book, Andre offers up the most explosive confession in sports history, candidly detailing his first experience with crystal meth.

Note: There are also Spanish language sources that provide more information. When I have the translations I'll post them.

In Other News...

L'Equipe reports that Richard Gasquet has withdrawn from Bercy to focus on his upcoming hearing before the CAS on November 10.

Serena Williams will be the year end WTA Number 1. Dinara Safina's withdrawal from Doha guarantees Serena will be ranked Number 1 until the end of December.

It is never easy to watch someone unravel in front of the world. Once again I'm writing about the system and how it affects players. If anyone needs a time out it's Dinara. I can only imagine the pressure put on this young woman by the powers that be. She looked absolutely terrified to take the court the last time I saw her. There are a lot of people calling on her to fire her coach. Dinara said in the past that he is the coach she needs, the one who understands her temperament. I'm just saying.

I finally have Tennis Channel. And I can finally hear Lindsay Davenport commentate. She raked the players over the coals for playing so much this year before someone reminded her that Roadkill is the reason players like Safina made the Asian swing regardless of their physical condition. When the players have no control over their schedules bad things happen. She is honest and straight forward in her commentary. Good times.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Agassi - The Fallout

by Savannah

From the BBC

The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) said it could not comment because it withdrew a doping case against him.
An ATP spokesman said it commented on the results of drugs tests only when a violation had occurred.

"Under the tennis anti-doping programme it is, and has always been, an independent panel that makes a decision on whether a doping violation has been found," he stated.

"The ATP has always followed this rule and no executive at the ATP has therefore had the authority or ability to decide the outcome of an anti-doping matter."

BBC Radio 5 live's tennis correspondent Jonathan Overend feels Agassi's legacy could be ruined by the revelations and will also damage tennis's reputation.
"This is sure to severely tarnish the reputation of one of the great champions," said Overend.
"I think it will have underlying implications for the sport in terms of the suspicion about some of the athletes and whether or not they are on drugs.

"The fact that Agassi lied and the authorities believed him has enormous repercussions. How many other cases may there have been like this?"

From ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti

Please find below a statement from ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti concerning the statements made by Andre Agassi:

“The ITF is surprised and disappointed by the remarks made by Andre Agassi in his biography admitting substance abuse in 1997. Such comments in no way reflect the fact that the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme is currently regarded as one of the most rigorous and comprehensive anti-doping programmes in sport. The events in question occurred before the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was founded in 1999 and during the formative years of anti-doping in tennis when the programme was managed by individual governing bodies. The ITF first signed the WADA Code in 2004, and the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme undergoes constant review and improvement. In 2006, the ITF assumed responsibility for administration of the anti-doping programme on behalf of the ATP and then, in 2007, also on behalf of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. The ITF, Grand Slams, ATP and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour are now unified in their efforts to keep tennis free of drug use, and this should not be overshadowed by an incident that took place over 12 years ago. The statements by Mr. Agassi do, however, provide confirmation that a tough Anti-Doping Programme is needed.”


Following Andre Agassi's revelation that he was let off by the ATP after testing positive for crystal meth in 1997, WADA chief John Fahey says he expects the ATP "to shed light on this allegation"

So far nothing from the Grand Poobah's of American tennis journalism.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Andre Agassi and Crystal Meth

by Savannah

This has been breaking tennis news all day. It sounds self serving to say that Agassi's change in physical appearance has made me suspect him of drug use for some time but it did. It also makes me wonder about that rage filled episode in 2001 that he got away with. I just didn't suspect meth. Meth is not a drug that is used casually under any circumstances.

There was supposedly an embargo on this story. It wasn't supposed to break until early November. But it's out now. It seems that the old canard applies here about people in glass houses.

The 1992 Wimbledon champion, the winner of eight grand-slam titles, also says that he has always secretly hated playing tennis and lived in fear of his bad-tempered and violent father.

Agassi, now 39, relates how he took crystal meth - possession of which carries a maximum five-year jail sentence in the US - in 1997, when his form was falling and he was having doubts about his impending marriage to the actress, Brooke Shields.

Had the positive drugs test become public, the repercussions for Agassi could have been catastrophic. It remains to be seen whether repercussions will follow his confession.

In his book, Agassi recounts sitting at home with his assistant, referred to only as Slim, and being introduced to the drug. "Slim is stressed too ... He says, You want to get high with me? On what? Gack. What the hell's gack? Crystal meth. Why do they call it gack? Because that's the sound you make when you're high ... Make you feel like Superman, dude.

"As if they're coming out of someone else's mouth, I hear these words: You know what? F*** it. Yeah. Let's get high.

"Slim dumps a small pile of powder on the coffee table. He cuts it, snorts it. He cuts it again. I snort some. I ease back on the couch and consider the Rubicon I've just crossed.

"There is a moment of regret, followed by vast sadness. Then comes a tidal wave of euphoria that sweeps away every negative thought in my head. I've never felt so alive, so hopeful - and I've never felt such energy.

"I'm seized by a desperate desire to clean. I go tearing around my house, cleaning it from top to bottom. I dust the furniture. I scour the tub. I make the beds."

In the autumn of a year in which he pulled out of the French Open and did not bother to practise for Wimbledon, Agassi is walking through New York's LaGuardia airport when he gets a phone call from a doctor working with the ATP.

"There is doom in his voice, as if he's going to tell me I'm dying," Agassi writes. "And that's exactly what he tells me."

Agassi learns that he has failed a drugs test. "He reminds me that tennis has three classes of drug violation," Agassi writes. "Performance-enhancing drugs ... would constitute a Class 1, he says, which would carry a suspension of two years. However, he adds, crystal meth would seem to be a clear case of Class 2. Recreational drugs." That would mean a three-month suspension.

"My name, my career, everything is now on the line. Whatever I've achieved, whatever I've worked for, might soon mean nothing. Days later I sit in a hard-backed chair, a legal pad in my lap, and write a letter to the ATP. It's filled with lies interwoven with bits of truth.

"I say Slim, whom I've since fired, is a known drug user, and that he often spikes his sodas with meth - which is true. Then I come to the central lie of the letter. I say that recently I drank accidentally from one of Slim's spiked sodas, unwittingly ingesting his drugs. I ask for understanding and leniency and hastily sign it: Sincerely.

"I feel ashamed, of course. I promise myself that this lie is the end of it." The ATP reviewed the case - and threw it out.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Weekend Winners

by Savannah

Francesca Schiavone WTA Kremlin Cup Champion 2009

Mikhail Youzhny ATP Kremlin Cup Champion 2009

Marcel Granollers left, and Pablo Cuevas 2009 ATP Kremlin Cup Doubles Champions

Nadia Petrova and Maria Kirilenko 2009 WTA Kremlin Cup Doubles Champions

The New York Times published the following interview with Stacy Allaster today.

Special Report: W.T.A. Tour Championships, Doha
Tour’s New Chief Aims to Keep Shoring Up Women’s Game

Published: October 25, 2009

Stacey Allaster, the new chairman and chief executive officer of the Women’s Tennis Association Tour, is well aware that she has a tough act to follow. Larry Scott, her predecessor and former boss, is the tennis administrator who helped convince Wimbledon to offer equal prize money for men and women. Scott also shored up the once-vulnerable W.T.A.’s finances. He signed a lucrative $88 million deal with Sony Ericsson to sponsor the circuit for six years and secured $84 million more from the Doha and Istanbul tournaments over six years to stage the Tour’s year-end championships. Most important to the players, he generated a significant increase in prize money.

In exchange, Scott got the players’ permission to make real changes in the Tour structure this season. He shuffled the calendar and the Tour’s top events, decreased playing requirements and increased the penalties for those who do not respect the new, more reasonable minimums.

The reassuring news for Allaster is that she was part of the act. She had served under Scott as Tour president since 2006. After Scott, 44, left in July to become commissioner of an American college athletics conference, the Pacific-10, Allaster, an articulate 46-year-old Canadian, was named his successor.

Like Kim Clijsters, she is a working mother. Like Scott, who was captain of the tennis team at Harvard and had a brief career as a professional player before joining the sport’s administrative ranks, Allaster has spent a lifetime in the game, first as an amateur player and later as vice president of Tennis Canada and tournament director of the Canadian Open in Toronto.

But in the midst of an economic slump, Allaster must now find a way (and fast) to keep the revenue and the player support flowing. She is in the process of negotiating an extension with Sony Ericsson and is still doing a poor job of containing her delight that she now has the former world No. 1 Justine Henin on the comeback trail along with Clijsters, her fellow Belgian.

Allaster spoke last week with the International Herald Tribune:

Q. How do you view the first year of your restructured calendar, the so-called road map?

A. I really couldn’t be more pleased. I think overall what we tried to achieve was for our players to deliver to fans and sponsors, and they did that. We made player commitment at 80 percent of our events. If we dial it back to 2007, we didn’t make player commitment at one of our commitment events. That was a big part of what we were trying to reform — bringing credibility to the Sony Ericsson W.T.A. Tour — and our players have stepped up and delivered.

I think some of the other metrics relate to the business aspect of the road map. In this economy, there was a 34 percent increase in prize money, which was incredible.

For the first time in many years, all top-10 players who were part of the bonus pool in 2009 will all receive a bonus pool payout. That hasn’t happened since 2004, and that’s all tied to their delivery of commitment. And Jelena Jankovic will receive a million-dollar bonus-pool payout.

Q. Do you have injury numbers for the season?

A. Withdrawals as a whole are down 30 percent. To give you context, the number of first-round retirements in 2009 is 17, compared with 36 in 2008. And total retirements and walkovers are at 58 in 2009, compared to 71 in 2008.

Q. Tennis Magazine in France recently conducted a poll asking women’s players to rank the most important tournaments in the world. The year-end championships came in a distant 10th, after the four Grand Slams, Miami, Indian Wells, Fed Cup, Rome and Dubai. It’s interesting that the Doha event is ranked that low despite the prize money and number of points at stake. Is there work to be done?

We are only 10 months into the most comprehensive set of reforms in the history of the Tour, so it is an ongoing process to educate the players about what are the important events on our Tour. And why are they the important events? Because they really are the financial drivers of the business.

A. I liken where we are right now on the Sony Ericsson Tour to where we were back in 2001 on the men’s tour, when we brought the Masters Series in. It was about making those nine events important in the minds of the athletes after the Grand Slams. And when we look now to the generation of male players competing, you often hear them refer to winning Slams and winning Masters Series and, in many respects, that’s now where we need to get to with our athletes.

Q. Are your players aware of doing more for the business in a tough economy?

A. Many of them talk to me in those terms, even the younger ones. They understand it. Obviously they live in a world where they’re not affected by the economy, but they’re in touch enough to know what is happening around them.

Players like Venus Williams — you could not ask for a better player leader. She’s been incredibly supportive inside the Player Council, and I can tell you she’s been actively engaged with helping with the Sony Ericsson renewal. She recently participated in a meeting in New York with me with Sony Ericsson along with Billie Jean King and Melanie Oudin. I think we know the story there: the past, present and future all understand the importance of our sponsorship partners.

It took literally a nanosecond for all three of them to say, “If my schedule is clear, I’ll be there.”

Q. The situation around Serena Williams’s incident at the U.S. Open is ongoing. It’s still being investigated by the International Tennis Federation, but do you believe a potential one-Slam suspension is too draconian?

A. I don’t want to comment on what decision they might make.

But what I will say is: Look, Serena Williams is a great champion, and she’s been a terrific ambassador and role model for the sport of women’s tennis for her entire career. And the U.S. Open situation is an isolated incident, for which Serena has acknowledged that it was a mistake and she has apologized for it.

I get the following from this:
Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters were recruited, pressed to come back by the tour. Henin's "retirement" was over any way and Clijsters, who had very personal reasons for stepping away from the tour when she did, always seemed that she would come back.

Melanie Oudin as the future of tennis? Really? Let's see where she is this time next year before we start throwing swag and crowns at her.

Why no question about splitting the tour into two parts?

I still say the woman's public statements make her seem delusional.

Marcos Baghdatis 2009 Stockholm Champion

Bruno Soares and Kevin Ullyett 2009 Doubles Champions Stockholm

Timea Bacsinszky 2009 Luxembourg Champion

Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova won the doubles at Luxembourg.

The official portrait for Doha 2009 as released by the WTA this morning.

The WTA YEC Draw...Some Thoughts

by Savannah

A tennishead who uses the name "Volcana" posted the following about the WTA YEC singles draw:


There are only two all-time greats among those players.
There are only three multi-slam winners among those eight players.
There are only three slam winners among those eight players.
There are only three Olympic Gold medalists among those eight players.

And they're in the same group.

Stacey Allaster

The WTA has presented fans of women's tennis with a draw that makes you laugh and shake your head in disbelief. As I replied to Matt the more I think about it the angrier I get. First there was the use of a 50 week ranking period as opposed to the normal 52 week ranking period for seeding at the YEC making sure Serena Williams points came off a week earlier and assuring Dinara Safina would be ranked number one for seeding purposes. Then comes the draw. Talk about adding insult to injury. You have Safina, Jelena Jankovic, Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki who was last seen being told by her father to throw a match, something that is illegal in any sport. The WTA seems unconcerned about the bonanza online bettors who spoke Polish got. I wonder if Richard Williams had been caught telling his daughters the exact same thing what would have happened. I really don't wonder but double standards seem to be the norm for the WTA.

There is no doubt in my mind that the draw was done this way to try and assure Dinara Safina reaching the elimination round. Sad thing is she may still go 0-3 in the Round Robin phase of the tournament. Then what? The strongest player in the White Group is Jelena Jankovic.

There is the promise of great matches in the Maroon Group but in the final analysis whoever comes out of that group will have been through Murderer's Row and will be beat up both mentally and physically as none of those women, when they are on, are known to back down from a fight.

There is already a lot of talk on fanboards about not even bothering to watch the tournament the fix is so obvious. Is this really what the powers that be at the WTA want after a year that saw a woman who couldn't even win a major sit on top of the heap for most of the year because she was "consistent"? Really? Let's not even get into the fact that the stands were hardly full earlier this year when the women played Dubai.

Just in case you think the WTA is going to own up to the disaster that 2009 was and acknowledge that it's credibility is shot here are some quotes that were made by those in charge when the 2010 WTA Calendar was unveiled in September. These quotes appear on the SEWTA official site.

  • "The Roadmap, featuring the most sweeping reforms in Tour history, has delivered to fans and sponsors a more fan-friendly and healthier structure that to date has more consistently delivered stars to top events and significantly reduced player withdrawals."

  • "With the Roadmap reforms implemented in 2009, fans have had the opportunity to watch more stars and rivalries on the game’s biggest stages, and follow a shortened and streamlined season that has been successful in unlocking the full value of women’s tennis."

  • Stacey Allaster: “I am very proud of the fact that despite a worldwide recession, we have been able to achieve modest growth."


The Road to Bali

I still have no idea why this tournament even exists but here are the women who have qualified to play.

1. Marion Bartoli
2. Samantha Stosur
3. Yanina Wickmayer
4. Anabel Medina Garrigues
5. Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez
6. Shahar Pe'er
7. Melinda Czink
8. Agnes Szavay
9. Aravane Rezai
10. Magdalena Rybarikova

Two WC's have yet to be officially granted.

End Note

I'll post the winners of last weeks tournaments later today.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


by Savannah

I double dare anyone to say this is balanced or that an agenda isn't being pursued here.

Doha Draw


Dinara Safina
Caroline Wozniacki
Victoria Azarenka
Jelena Jankovic


Dinara Safina (RUS) vs Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)
Dinara Safina (RUS) vs Victoria Azarenka (BLR)
Dinara Safina (RUS) vs Jelena Jankovic (SRB)
Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) vs Victoria Azarenka (BLR)
Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) vs Jelena Jankovic (SRB)
Victoria Azarenka (BLR) vs Jelena Jankovic (SRB)


Serena Williams
Svetlana Kuznetsova
Elena Dementieva
Venus Williams


Serena Williams (USA) vs Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS)
Serena Williams (USA) vs Elena Dementieva (RUS)
Serena Williams (USA) vs Venus Williams (USA)
Elena Dementieva (RUS) vs Venus Williams (USA)
Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) vs Elena Dementieva (RUS)
Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) vs Venus Williams (USA)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tennis Talk

by Savannah

I first heard about TPTB investigating Caroline Wozniacki's retirement during her match yesterday. She was up 7-5, 5-0 and had had medical treatment during the match. I thought that it was just Caro's way of saying she needed to rest up for Doha.

Thanks to Karen, a frequent poster here, for setting me straight. This article appeared in the Canadian Press and is excerpted below.

Who retires when they're leading 7-5, 5-0?

Caroline Wozniacki did that Tuesday in Luxembourg, against Anne Kremer of, you guessed it, Luxembourg.

And the circumstances behind it could potentially lead to a whole lot of interesting drama.

We we watching much of this on a livestream. And after running her hooves off retrieving in the first set with no apparent problem (other than the fact that she had to work so hard to come back from a break down against a lucky loser nearly 15 years her senior), Wozniacki had the trainer come out at 5-5, and she got a massive wrap put on her upper left leg.

We warn you that at this point, it's all hearsay. It really could be absolutely nothing, a misunderstanding. But it's a pretty major topic of debate on all the tennis chat boards.

Wozniacki won five straight games from 5-5, even if it was obvious she was in some distress.

Her coach/father, Piotr, came out when she was leading 3-0 in the second set for a coaching consult.

The coaches are miked for these things by the WTA. But since so many of the players and coaches speak languages we don't speak, it's typically not too productive to listen in.

But someone who understands Polish was apparently listening, a bettor on the Betfair web site.

At 3-0, the Betfair wagerer posted that Wozniacki had told his daughter to play two more games, call the trainer again, then retire. "Let them have some joy," Papa Wozniacki allegedly said – meaning that, since he clearly had already decided his daughter wouldn't play her next match in Luxembourg anyway, because of the injury (preferring to save herself for the year-end championships next week), might as let the crowd enjoy the local go one more round.

We assume his intentions were honorable, even if he wanted to make sure his daughter got it to 5-0 – just so there would be no "doubt" in anyone's mind that she would have won anyway, and that they were doing an honourable thing. And, in the process, humiliate Kremer a little, since she failed to even win a game after the injury to her opponent first came to light.

It's something that is done sometimes at the amateur level, if you're injured, or if for some reason (travel) you can't stay for the next match. But not always. And this isn't amateur hour.

With all the money being wagered online, and tennis's ongoing battle against match-fixing and all the rest – prohibiting laptops in arenas (like people can't do it on their smart phones), posting signs all around the players' areas, frowning on players tweeting ANY kind of information about health or other issues –- the implications are major.

If someone who understands Polish hears that, given the odds at the time, and places a big bet on Kremer, they could get a serious windfall when it's paid out (which it was, on Betfair at least, to my understanding). Several posters on the forum are boasting about the cash they hauled in.

Stacey Allaster has a lot on her plate right now doesn't she? Caro and her father always speak Polish when she receives on court coaching. In today's world you always have to assume that while most would not understand what you're saying someone, somewhere will and if the facts are born out here this is a serious issue for the WTA.

Federer and London

The other big news is that Roger Federer (see I can type out his name) may skip the ATP WTF in November. Yahoo reports the following:

The world No. 1 took time off after his defeat to Juan Martin del Potro at Flushing Meadows to rest up and spend time with his young family, yet was expected to return for the Paris Masters and the year-ending ATP Tour finals in London.
However, rumors out of Switzerland have suggested that Federer is considering keeping a low profile until January in order to be fully fresh and ready for 2010.
It would be a controversial move if Federer decided to skip the Tour finals, and one that would likely bring sanctions from the ATP unless he could prove he was injured. Rafael Nadal, then atop the rankings, pulled out last year.
Federer's year has been outstanding but it is understood he has made regaining the Australian Open crown his first priority for next year.

We'll just have to see won't we?

WTA YEC Update

Jelena Jankovic has qualified for Doha. The completed field is as follows:


[1] Dinara Safina
[2] Serena Williams
[3] Svetlana Kuznetsova
[4] Caroline Wozniacki
[5] Elena Dementieva
[6] Victoria Azarenka
[7] Venus Williams
[8] Jelena Jankovic
[ALT] Vera Zvonareva
[ALT] Agnieszka Radwanska


[1] Cara Black/Liezel Huber
[2] Venus Williams/Serena Williams
[3] Nuria Llagostera Vives/Maria José Martínez Sánchez
[4] Rennae Stubbs/Samantha Stosur

Dinara Safina will be ranked Number 1.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

This and That

by Savannah

Craig politely pointed out that I haven't posted in a few days. Hate when life slips up on you just for shits and giggles but it happens. I have been posting things on Twitter from time to time but I slighted last weekends winners by not giving them any recognition. Their pictures will be interspersed throughout this post.

Sex and the ATP

Every sport needs a sex scandal I suppose. When the news broke that two non Swedish players were busted for soliciting in Stockholm suspicion immediately fell on the Spanish surnamed players but that didn't prove out. There was a lot of talk about an Italian player who had pulled out of the event but he had never travelled to Stockholm so that boomlet died.

By the end of the day speculation was focused on Ernests Gulbis, whom it actually turned out to be. Gulbis and his unnamed friend were given a small fine and allowed to continue playing. In Sweden they arrest the johns not the ladies (or men) providing the services. Apparently they were busted in a hotel. I'm sure the ATP will be updating it's players manuals next year.

Yanina Wickmayer 2009 Linz Champion
Tennis Through American Eyes

Last week it was Andre Agassi. This week it's Pete Sampras. The men who formerly dominated tennis seem to be speaking out about their sport and where they see it going every time a microphone is shoved in their direction. Are we supposed to treat each of their pronouncements as coming from Mount Olympus or as pronouncements from the Oracle at Delphi?

The American tennis establishment has a very unique view of the tennis world. It's no secret that they are not happy with the European domination of tennis (except for the Monogram. Some of them have to be pulled away by the hair from his shrine) and are dreaming about the day a Brit, an American or an Aussie "restores order" to the tennis world.

But since opinions are like anal apertures and everyone has one they're entitled to theirs. It's when you see articles like the following one on James Blake that you wonder if the Americans have taken leave of their senses.

Franklin L. Johnson gives the following analysis of James Blake.

Here's why James Blake can return to the top five:

1. He has a top five forehand. There are few with a bigger stroke in the game. He has to learn how to use this massive shot more selectively. Coach Jones can help him graduate from a shot maker to a match taker.

2. JB possesses blue streak speed, quickness and agility. Only a handful of players can match this dazzling combination.

3. Blake's first serve is underrated. With a little work and a little more consistency, it could become fearsome.

These three gifts alone are sufficient to boost Blake into the top five and don't need much improvement. Here are parts of his game where Kelly Jones can make a big difference in turning James into a champion:

4. JB's backhand needs work. He allows his weight to fall to his left when he runs left, which makes it hard to recover to the center of the court. He tends to play the shot more to his back foot which results in floaters beyond the baseline. And he catches the shot a bit late which reduces his power and control. Consistently transferring his weight forward and playing the ball out front would solve all these problems.

5. Blake is a poor strategic thinker. It appears he rarely enters a match with a solid game plan nor does he consistently appear to recognize his opponent's strengths and weaknesses. He seems to rely completely on his shot making skills to win. While this approach pleases the fans with the occasional super shot, it's not enough to win with on a regular basis. Coach Jones can help him "see" the match from start to finish. Better match management and learning to make mid-match adjustments is the key to regaining a place in the top five.

6. James is a lover, not a fighter. He loves the fan adulation and star status. If he wants to get serious about his tennis, he has to forget the adulation when he steps to the baseline. He has to want it more than the guy on the other side of the net. For this, he needs to read chapters from Rafa's biography every day. If it doesn't exist, he should help Rafa write it.

7. Blake sometimes has trouble letting go of a poor shot or game. He lets the negativity linger at times — you can see it on his face as he stares up at the sky after an error. The top players press the delete key and do not carry one poor point over into the next nor do many of them show the negative body language he does. Blake must channel his emotion and energy in more positive and productive ways. Coach Jones will help him become more efficient in winning points on his serve so he can use most of his energy to attack his opponent.

8. James doesn't mind losing. He's a happy-go-lucky sort of fellow who likes to keep his life simple and uncomplicated. If he really wants to become a champion, he has to change his attitude both on and off the court. Champions hate to lose. This is what drives them to improve their great games. For the best, winning and losing matters. Coach Jones takes his job seriously. Maybe, some of his desire for excellence will inspire Blake.

You see what I mean? I could swear I heard Grace Slick singing "White Rabbit" while I read this.

Nikolay Davydenko 2009 Shanghai Masters

A big shout out goes to Andy Roddick for reaching the ATP year end final for the seventh straight year. People (including me) have dogged him about some of his play in the past and said that he has underachieved but once again he's proven that he belongs in a discussion of modern tennis. He's done great work with Larry Stefanki and has even played doubles this year making it to a final on the Asian swing. Congratulations Andy. Keep showing that Americans can play the modern game so that the players who come after you are not wed to the mindless ball bashing school of tennis.

Shahar Pe'er and Bali

Drama once again surrounds Shahar Pe'er. The Israeli's visa has not yet arrived and there are reports of concern in her camp. The island of Bali is populated by a majority Hindu population but Indonesia is one of if not the largest Muslim country in the world. In 2006 they pulled out of Fed Cup rather than play an Israeli team.
By winning two tournaments in South East Asia Shahar qualified for Bali. New WTA CEO Stacey Allaster faces a huge problem if the visa is not granted. Does the WTA pull out of Bali so late in the game and play the event elsewhere? Does it stick to its guns and make the authorities there grant the visa? Once a country agrees to host a WTA event doesn't it have to abide by the rules of the WTA?
It's reported that Shahar's agent Amit Naor (who is also Novak Djokovic's agent) and who usually deals with all of those issues for the Israeli players said he was promised the tournament would be canceled if Shahar won't get the visa.

End Notes
I can't believe the crappy coverage of the Kremlin Cup. There is almost a total blackout. I know, I should reup my subscription to Russian Television but it's amazing that this once great tournament has been reduced to what would have been a Tier III for the women. The men have a few big names but it's nothing like it used to be.

As I type this there is still one spot open for next week's YEC in Doha. The following women have qualified.

Dinara Safina 7652 1**
Serena Williams 7437 2**
Caroline Wozniacki 5570 3**
Elena Dementieva 5365 4**
Svetlana Kuznetsova 4773 5**
Victoria Azarenka 4371 6**
Venus Williams 4317 7**
Jelena Jankovic 3660 8
Vera Zvonareva 3301 9
Flavia Pennetta 3060 10
Marion Bartoli 2715 11
Samantha Stosur 2691 12
Agnieszka Radwanska 2690 13
Maria Sharapova 2680 14
Na Li 2402 15

Samantha Stosur 2009 Champion Osaka
I'm glad to read that Martina Hingis has decided not to come back to the Main Tour. She's had a chance to live life and see that there is indeed life after tennis. In this time of "retirements" that look oddly like suspensions for one reason or another it's nice to see her stick to her guns.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"I Had No Life"

by Craig Hickman

FILE - In this  Aug. 28, 2007 file photo, Martina Hingis of Switzerland returns a volley to Mathilde Johansson of France at the US Open tennis tournament in New York.

In this Aug. 28, 2007 file photo, Martina Hingis of Switzerland returns a volley to Mathilde Johansson of France at the US Open tennis tournament in New York.


How time flies.

PARIS — Martina Hingis won't make a comeback to competitive tennis.

The 29-year old Hingis, who retired after getting a two-year ban in 2007 for testing positive for cocaine, said Tuesday in an interview with L'Equipe that she is happy with her new life.

"I've got a nice house, my four horses," Hingis said. "On the tour, I had no life."

Hingis added that even without being tested positive, she likely would have retired.

"If I had won the four Grand Slam tournaments, maybe I would have continued," she said. "But I was on downslope. And I was suspended for two years, and that was it."

Hingis, who spent 209 weeks at No. 1 in the women's rankings and won five Grand Slam singles titles, said she went through hard times during her suspension.

"I didn't have the right to play any competition, even in another Olympic sport," she said. "I didn't have the right to feature in equestrian competition, even at an amateur level. ... I'm not sure I have completely recovered."

Hingis tested positive for cocaine after a third-round exit at Wimbledon in 2007. She denied using the drug.

Hingis said she learned that her suspension was over on Sept. 30 — her birthday — a few days after undergoing a doping test at her home.

"They thought maybe, like you, that I was planning a second comeback," she said.

Hingis quit tennis for the first time in 2002 because of foot and leg injuries. When she returned to the circuit in 2006, Hingis reached two Grand Slam quarterfinals, won two smaller tournaments and finished the year at No. 7.

For so long it seemed she had no life without tennis. Then she came back and discovered she had no life with it.

I'm not sure any of this surprises anyone, but there it is.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Idle Chit Chat

by Savannah
Neil Harman posted this on October 5 2009

Speaking in his home country this weekend, Federer said: “People like it still that I am the No 1 or the No 1 again so I have to make a hard decision, the one or the other [either the tour or the Davis Cup] because both together is not working, I feel it myself, it is consuming. If I hadn’t played the Davis Cup I maybe would have gone to Asia, so you see how much energy the Davis Cup takes [out of you]”.

Marat Safin is reported to have said the following about the length of the ATP calandar and those who are now complaining.

"In 2004 we had this discussion in Olympic Games with Roddick about it and they were blaming me that I'm playing too much," said former world number one Safin And I was saying that the season is too long. We should make it shorter. And the guys, they jumped on me, like I was the one who was wrong. So look at all of them -- everybody is falling apart. Everybody is getting injured left and right, and everybody is complaining the season is long. It takes six years to realize that something is wrong? They just have to deal with that, not when they are 21 and ambitious and want to make money. They have to think a little bit with their brains and to make the career a little bit longer."

Tatiana Golovin has hinted that her chances of returning to tennis are slim to none. She is suffering from spondylitis of the back. The L'Equipe article is here.

The Chinese have made no secret about wanting to host a Slam. They'd like to expand the number of Slams from four to five or wrestle the Australian Open from Melbourne and hold an Asian Open in either Beijing or Shanghai. That's why it's amazing to see the lack of butts in the seats especially in Shanghai. I have never seen so many empty seats at an ATP event where all of the top men are playing. It was better today but not by much. If it wasn't for the fangirls and cute kids that are all over the place center court would be dead. I saw some of Ivan Ljubicic's match this morning and that stadium was empty. What gives? I'd think it would be to the Chinese advantage to have as many "seat fillers" as possible.

Czech player Ivo Minar has been suspended eight months for a doping offense. The suspension ends on March 10, 2010. Minar will not protest the sentence.

Andre Agassi on the future of men's tennis.

Agassi said the 22-year-old Murray is the man most likely to be the dominant figure over the next few years. The world No. 3 is still seeking his first Grand Slam title.

“From a talent standpoint, Murray is a person who should win multiple Slams,” Agassi said.

“When I look at his game compared to the other players, he has what it takes to win and to win against anybody on any surface.”

So who was the genius who decided that the Kremlin Cup, one of the WTA's most prestigious end of year events, would be held the week before the YEC at Doha making sure that none of the top Russian women would play? Some of the players mentioned this at the beginning of the year but it's now, when the players list is posted on the official site, that you see how this event has been downgraded. Meanwhile there are two International Series events playing in Linz, Austria and Osaka Japan. I finally saw some pics of the women today so I know this is not a figment of my imagination. I'm still trying to get my head around why the YEC at Doha isn't closing out the year. I'm slow like that.

Stan Wawrinka and Gael Monfils retired with injury today in Shanghai. Fernando Verdasco, who has put off needed foot surgery to play Davis Cup for Spain, lost his match.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Weekend Winners

by Savannah

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga won the Rakuten Japanese Open putting on a serving clinic on his way to the trophy. Congratulations Jo!

Wearing a black armband in memory of her friend Slava who passed away a couple of days ago Svetlana Kuznetsova won the WTA Beijing tournament.

Novak Djokovic used a long rain delay to gather himself and win the ATP Beijing tournament.

(L-R) Hsieh Su-Wei of Taiwan and Peng Shuai of China WTA Doubles Champions Beijing

Andy Roddick and Mark Knowles pose with Beijing Doubles Champions Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan.

The Austrian team of Julian Knowle and Jurgen Melzer won the Doubles crown in Tokyo. They are seen here with R Hutchins and J Kerr.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Tennis Talk

by Savannah

It's old news now but James Blake seems to have split from his long time coach Brian Barker. Kelly Jones, who has worked with Mardy Fish in the past, was in his box at Beijing. In a statement made to ESPN Blake seems to leave the door slightly ajar.
Going into the Open, we had both had come to the understanding that we were going to stop, but we didn't want to change anything during or before the Open...

"Kelly's been close to both of us for a long time, and he's a perfect fit for now. If things go well with him, everyone's happy. Brian wants nothing but the best for me. If they don't, then I go back to Brian and we know there's a reason I'm back."

Barker has been Blake's coach since he was about twelve. It would've been nice if he'd gone way outside the box the way Gael Monfils reached outside of the FFT and hired Roger Rasheed and Andy Roddick strong armed Larry Stefanki into being his coach. Still it's a step. I know Blake's fans hope this stops his free fall.

Nice of the ATP and WTA to schedule back to back to back tournaments in Japan and China wasn't it? I'm glad both tours are looking out for the health and well being of their property, uh, players.

While I'm at it can someone explain to me why Bali is taking place after Doha? Shouldn't your marquee tournament be the one fans are left thinking about? Most of you know I've been against this two tier situation since it was first mentioned. Just in case you thought that a top ten player could wander into Bali apparently Top Ten players can only play 2 international tournaments a year. They are 30 international level tournaments available for the Miss Congenialities of tennis. I need someone to explain the logic of this to me. I'm a little slow.

As you all know I've been without TC for as long as it's been around. I now have it. Along with the Golf Channel, GOLTV, an NBA channel and a bunch of Fox channels dedicated to college sports. I'm just thrilled. One of my new channels is dedicated to men who love the outdoors. Guess I can finally learn to field dress a moose.

Andy Roddick and Mark Knowles are in the Men's Doubles Final in Beijing. I'm just saying...

Since my time has been turned around anyway and I now have TC I watched Lleyton Hewitt vs Mikhail Youzhny in their semifinal match from Tokyo. I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the match. Hewitt looked to be bothered by a knee problem in the first set and it appeared Youzhny would run away with the match but Hewitt fought back and forced a third set. Along the way there was a very good tennis match with each man pushing his opponent to do just that little bit more, to find that difficult angle in order to win a point. I am not a fan of Hewitt and Youzhny usually leaves me cold but I came away from the match - Youzhny eventually won - with a smile. There was no mindless ball bashing but good court sense and game knowledge on display. Thanks Lleyton and Mikhail for making me fall in love with tennis again.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Not So Idle Chit Chat

by Savannah

Ana Ivanovic posted the following on her site.

I guess having to withdraw from Beijing is an appropriate ending to a very disappointing season. This trip to Asia has been a big disappointment and I have struggled with my health pretty much since I arrived. I am sorry to my supporters who were hoping to see me play here in Beijing. It's very disappointing for me as well, to come here, see the amazing facility they have and not have the energy to be able to step onto court. I can only look forward to coming back here next year.

It's especially disappointing because I was hoping to be able to see some improvements before the season ended. I have gone through a lot of training and physical changes over the past few months, which have mostly remained private until now... My body is quite fragile at the moment, because I over-trained during the first part of the year. This was, I think, what caused me to have many small injuries this season.

Instead of being patient and accepting that my best form was almost impossible due to physical limitations, I was always over-thinking things, and I never dealt with it very well. The season was a continuation of going from one disappointment to another. If I had dealt better with these setbacks, I would have had a lot more success.

I also found it very tough to switch off and have a proper break over the past year or so, partly because of these physical problems. Actually, I don't think I can remember the last time I had a proper holiday: I was always doing some kind of fitness or recovery work during my holidays, and that meant that I wasn't able to switch off from tennis. I guess I just want it so badly.

As you may have noticed, I completely changed my serve after Wimbledon. This was because of my shoulder: if I continued serving and training the way I was, I would have almost certainly picked up a serious injury. My team and I are confident that I will be able to go back to my old service motion when I start practising again in November.

On the positive side, I am still No.11 in the world. I have no clue how I am ranked so highly, but to look on the bright side, I can't play any worse than I did this year and I'm still in the top 20!

I've learnt so much this year. It's a bit little bit like a few years ago, when I was ranked around No.14 for almost an entire year, and everyone was asking me, "when are you going to reach the top 10?" Within a year I was there, and within two years I was No.1. Sometimes you have to go through these experiences in order to become a better player.

Despite my disappointments there is nog a single doubt in my mind that I will reach the top again and win Grand Slams.

One other positive to come out of all this is that I realised what a great team I have around me: they never doubted me, they supported me so well and did everything they could to assist me. I am very grateful to them all: my family, coaches and management.

I have appointed a new fitness coach, whom I will tell you more about later. Over the next month or so I can have a great break. I can rest without thinking about any future tournaments, then train and practise hard for the new season.

I have a lot to look forward to. Now is the time to rest, recharge, and come back stronger.


P.S. I'd like to thank my loyal supporters for their encouragement this year. The journey is never easy!

The BBC reports the following:

Guernsey's US Junior Open winner Heather Watson will turn professional by the end of the year.
The 17-year-old's father said she had planned to play college tennis in the United States but changed her mind after advice, including from the LTA.
Ian Watson said: "It seems the obvious thing to do now, she's got a belief she can get to the top."
Ian Watson said: "After Barnstaple she'll probably be signing the pro forms and being pro from then on in.
"There is a big mindset change from wanting to go to a US college and play tennis to being a professional.
"You need a team, you need coaches, you need fitness people, you need advice, you need people putting a schedule together... you need people to open doors for you.
Nick Bollettieri has got a network unsurpassed, especially in America but worldwide in tennis, and IMG are the biggest management agents. They can open tournament doors for Heather because some tournaments are not easy to get in and if you can't get into them you can't win them.
"Lots of doors will be opened as soon as she signs with IMG and of course in Europe and the UK given her standing now the LTA are opening those doors. The LTA have given her a wildcard into Barnstaple."

Mr Watson is very excited for his daughter isn't he?

There is an American player named Donald Young and he actually won a couple of matches in Asia last week. Will wonders never cease. Amazing what a threat of cutting off your funding will do to motivate someone isn't it? He even beat Feliciano Lopez who is now playing qualies.

Dmitry Tursunov is out for the rest of the year. He had surgery in early September.

Has the Anna Kournikova era of women's tennis come to an end? Big girls like Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Alisa Kleybanova are having nice runs right now and neither one of them could be called thin, or fit, by any stretch of the imagination. Somehow I don't think IMG will be banging down their doors with endorsement deals. Hell they'll never make it onto a show court at Wimbledon either will they?

All joking aside Pavlyuchenkova was taken apart by Marion Bartoli after her previous win against Venus Williams. Marion messed with her head and the girl fell apart. When she shows me she can do more than she has, in other words not let a player mess with her mentally, I'll be more interested. Same goes for Kleybanova. I still can't watch her because of that hair thing she did in Australia. Gives me the creeps.

There's already talk of Elena Dementieva moving up to number three in the WTA rankings. Pressure much?
Does anyone have a clue what's going on with Igor Andreev? He's losing matches he usually wins.

Who does Marco Chiudinelli think he is anyway? He's doing his best to make himself the other Swiss man in the conversation.

Fernando Verdasco has put off needed foot surgery so that he is available to play Davis Cup for Spain.

Am I the only one who was surprised about Andy Roddick playing doubles in Beijing? It is just me huh? Okay, moving on.

There is a men's tournament taking place in Tokyo this week. All eyes will be on Juan Martin del Potro, US Open Champion who takes the court for the first time since that win tomorrow.

Diva's On Parade
It's fun to see how the women of tennis comport themselves off of the tennis court isn't it? Hope you enjoyed the pictures scattered through this post of them arriving in Beijing.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Weekend Winners

by Savannah

Maria Sharapova was handed the Championship trophy of the Pan Pacific Open by Jelena Jankovic who retired during their final with a wrist injury.

Gilles Simon proudly hoists the winners trophy he earned by winning the Thailand Open over Victor Troicki.

Nikolay Davydenko (right) holds the winners trophy for the first Malaysian Open Tournament that was held in Kuala Lumpur. Fernando Verdasco was the runner up.

Rajeev Ram and Eric Butorac won the doubles crown in Bangkok

Alisa Kleybanova and Francesca Schiavone are the PPO doubles champions for 2009

Mariusz Fyrstenberg (L) and Marcin Matkowski (R) took home the doubles championship at the Malaysian Open

Thursday, October 1, 2009

This and That

by Savannah

John Dolan, a former WTA Tour communications director is now Kim Clijsters' public relations manager. Speaking of Clijsters I saw a poll on a fan site saying that she should be given a WC into Doha. The reasoning is based on the following:

According to the rules for the Year Ending Championship the 7 best ranked players in YEC race and 1 Wild Card player are allowed. In practice it's always been the top eight with one exception having been made I believe for Monica Seles. The fan then goes on to say that Clijsters should take the place of the #8 ranked player since she won the US Open this year.

Here are the current Race standings.

#1, 7652 pts - Safina (16)
#2, 7437 pts - S.Williams (16)
#3, 5570 pts - Wozniacki (21)
#4, 5365 pts - Dementieva (17)
#5, 4773 pts - Kuznetsova (16)
#6, 4316 pts - V.Williams (14)
#7, 4171 pts - Azarenka (14)
#8, 3301 pts - Zvonareva (17)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
#9, 3111 pts - Jankovic (16)
#10, 3060 pts - Pennetta (21)

I guess Vera Zvonareva, who came back from serious injury, Jelena Jankovic who is fighting like hell to make the cut, and Flavia Pennetta who fought her way into the Top Ten should all just bow at the altar of Clijsters and slink off to Bali? It's my understanding that in the ATP if you win a Slam you're in. That's not so in the WTA.

Normally I would ignore stuff like this. After all it's just a random fan off on a pipe dream right? I just found it odd that this would come up now. I also remember seeing fan sites used to "test the waters" regarding Pete Sampras for example. Let's see what happens.

From @samquerrey
just got back from the doctor, i should be able to hit balls in a month and hopefully ill be back to 100% in 2 months.
Sam as you know injured his right arm falling through a glass table he was sitting on.

Just in case you were wondering what is going on in Tokyo here are the four semi finalists.

Na Li vs Jelena Jankovic
Maria Sharapova vs Agnieszka Radwanska

I wonder what Maria Sharapova has against Samantha Stosur? I haven't seen Maria play the way she did in that match before or since. She so totally dominated Stosur I thought to myself that she will win if she keeps playing with that level of intensity. She hasn't but she's won.

Belgian tennis players Xavier Malisse and Yanina Wickmayer are being called before the Belgian Anti Doping Tribunal. Wickmayer failed to register her whereabouts three times with the ADAMS people and Malisse missed a test. Here is a LINK to the WTA Regulations.
And no I'm not going there.

Martina Hingis drug suspension is over. She didn't fight it. Now she's blaming the "system" for not doing so. I have a few words for you Martina: Guillermo Canas. Guillermo Coria. Richard Gasquet.

And I'm still not going there because she didn't fight it either.