Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ho!Ho!Ho!

by Savannah

Don't start. I am not calling anyone a "ho". Some people still believe in Santa Claus. I'm not one of them. Wayne Odesnik may be though. In one of the most bizarre drug case rulings in sports the ITF issued the following statement yesterday.

ITF Press Release
Decision in the case of Wayne Odesnik
London, England, 22 Dec 2010 - The International Tennis Federation announced today that Wayne Odesnik, who has been serving a period of ineligibility for committing an Anti-Doping Rule Violation under Article C.6 of the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme (Possession of a Prohibited Substance), has had the remaining twelve months of his ineligibility suspended pursuant to Article M.5.3 of the Programme, on account of ongoing Substantial Assistance provided by Mr Odesnik in relation to the enforcement of professional rules of conduct. As a result, Mr Odesnik will be eligible to compete again as from 29 December 2010.

The Tennis Anti-Doping Programme is a comprehensive and internationally recognised drug-testing programme that applies to all players competing at tournaments sanctioned by the ITF, ATP, and WTA. Players are tested for substances prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency and upon a finding that an Anti-Doping Rule Violation has been committed, sanctions are imposed in accordance with the requirements of the World Anti-Doping Code.


What did Odesnik do to get such a nice holiday gift? Tennis.com reports the following:

Odesnik ban reduced in return for HGH info December 22, 2010

Wayne Odesnik, who was banned from the tour after being discovered with HGH at Brisbane airport in January, has had his suspension reduced after providing the ITF with information and assistance, presumably related to revelations about his doping activity and others who may have been involved.

Odesnik will be free to return on December 29.

Under the anti-doping code, players may received reduced sanctions for providing "substantial assistance" to anti-doping authorities. A reduction of one year indicates the information was likely sustantial.

The ITF did not release details of what Odesnik disclosed.


Odesnik released the following statement through his lawyer:

"I am thrilled that I can return to the game and compete in the sport about which I am truly passionate. I have learned a lot during my time away from competitive tennis and I know have even a greater appreciation for what a privilege it is to be a professional athlete. I want to take this opportunity to thank my family, true close friends and fans who have stood by me during this difficult time; I am deeply grateful and humbled by your support."


I bet he gets a nice warm welcome in the locker room.

The Matches For Africa

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Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer played to sold out arena's in Zurich, Switzerland and Madrid, Spain Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. The exhibitions were for their related charities and raised $5 million dollars, about $2.5 million per event.
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In Zurich the players entered from the mists of time.
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In Madrid the players were escorted in by children echoing the team entrances from the World Cup.

It was absolutely no surprise who won where. In the States Patrick McEnroe and Chris Fowler focused on what the players were showing for the 2011 season, a good tactic. They did seem to expect saucy banter but both men were pretty serious on court. There was some levity but it wasn't comic in any shape form or fashion.
There was the unique photo op presented when Roger picked Rafa up at the airport. There was also a picture posted on Roger's site showing the flight from Zurich to Madrid.
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It looks like someone missed their nap.
Wedding Bells
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Martina HIngis married fellow equestrian Thibault Hutin. He's not some gold digger though. His mother gifted them the Bridal Suite at the Georges V hotel in Paris. The wedding ceremony will be next year. Some people made a big deal about Martina being 30 and Thibault being 24. She's not into cougar territory yet people. All we can do is wish them well.

Cheap is Expensive
Tennis legend Pete Sampras, in the process of moving, stored his trophies in a storage locker. Someone liked the way they shone and made off with most of them. Pete is taking a lot of heat for using such a pedestrian method to store his trophies. There's a reason he's rich people. There is no truth to the rumor that Andre Agassi was being sought for questioning.

The Brat Squad aka Juniors
Bernard Tomic continues his charm offensive down under, offensive being the operative word. Australia recently held it's Wild Card playoffs. Tomic told Tennis Australia that he was too ill to compete and they gave him a pass. Trouble is two days later he was spotted practicing. TA was not amused. Some say Tomic assumed he was getting a WC anyway and that there was no reason for him to sweat with the masses in the playoffs. It was announced this morning that Jelena Dokic, runner up in the women's playoff, and Peter Luczak, also a runner up in the Playoffs, have been granted WC's into the Main Draw.

The ITF released it's year end top ten junior rankings this week.
Boys Ranking (20 Dec 2010)

1 Juan Sebastian GOMEZ COL 1171.25
2 Marton FUCSOVICS HUN 962.5
3 Jiri VESELY CZE 922.5
4 Damir DZUMHUR BIH 913.75
5 Dominic THIEM AUT 896.25
6 Tiago FERNANDES BRA 862.5
7 Roberto QUIROZ ECU 840
8 Duilio BERETTA PER 813.75
9 Agustin VELOTTI ARG 782.5
10 Mate PAVIC CRO 771.25

Girls Ranking (20 Dec 2010)

1 Daria GAVRILOVA RUS 1395
2 Elina SVITOLINA UKR 1010
3 Lauren DAVIS USA 972.5
4 Monica PUIG PUR 962.5
5 Irina KHROMACHEVA RUS 926.25
6 Kristyna PLISKOVA CZE 913.75
7 Timea BABOS HUN 910
8 Karolina PLISKOVA CZE 903.75
9 Saisai ZHENG CHN 827.5
10 An-Sophie MESTACH BEL 795

Lauren Davis is the only player from the United States ranked in the top ten. Not very good news for the USTA.

Rumor Control

A gossip site reported that Serena Williams has an infection in her foot and that she will not be back until April. There was some disbelief since the site is, well, a gossip site. There haven't, to my knowledge, been any denials.


End Note



Seasons Greetings to everyone.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

2010 - The Year in Review

by Savannah

ATP Player of the Year
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What did Rafael Nadal do to deserve being named ATP Player of the Year? After withdrawing from the Australian Open last January things looked bleak as Rafa had a horrid spring hard court season. Then came his return to the European clay. Once Rafa got his feet planted in the dirt he never looked back. Winning every tournament he played Rafa swept into Roland Garros like a Category 5 hurricane. Like those storms he swept up and flattened everyone in his path.
Usually a storm loses strength once it hits land but Rafa proved once again to be a rule unto himself. Once he landed in SW19 he again swept away everyone in his path.
As we all know hurricanes need warm water to build up strength. The North Atlantic isn't exactly warm and the pundits said the storm that had swept through Europe would lose strength and that it's power would be absorbed by the unforgiving concrete courts of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The result as we know is history.
I don't think there can be any debate about this. Enhorabuena Rafa!

WTA Player of the Year
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There will be debate about this. Kim Clijsters won the popularity contest based on her one Slam win in 2010. Why wasn't the two slam winner named WTA player of the year? She didn't play after Wimbledon. That seems to be the only reason. Were people tired of seeing Serena Williams at the top and wanted to reward a member of the Blond Ambition crew? Was it because everyone knew that to name the slamless number one Player of the Year would make the WTA more of a laughing stock than it already is? I mean when major tennis magazines are calling your number one a work in progress your tour has issues.
I don't suffer from any delusions or illusions. Serena Williams is the WTA Player of the Year.


ATP Match of the Year
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The torture that was John Isner vs Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon was not the match of the year. That honorific belongs to the semi final match played between Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray at the O2 Arena in London. It was a three set exhibition of high quality hard court tennis, a battle of wills, strategy and shotmaking that lifted fans out of their seats. You all know I'm not a fan of hard court hit hard and harder tennis. If all hard court matches were played at this level I'd become a fan. This is a must see match. Fans should use whatever means are at their disposal to see it. It would make someone a great holiday gift.

Coaches of the Year
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Antoni Nadal has a lot to be happy about. His nephew sits on top of mens tennis. He has done what some said couldn't happen and made his student into a threat on all the surfaces tennis is played on. If you listen to some American commentators you hear that Toni is a very strict coach and that when he's not around Rafa must breathe a sigh of relief. Next time you see Andy Roddick ask him about working with a disciplinarian as opposed to doing what you want when you want. This is truly a "Family Affair" and Toni Nadal deserves our respect and admiration for a job very well done.
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I usually choose Oracene Price and Richard Williams for WTA Coaches of the Year and they deserve honorable mention for the job they did with their injured daughters during 2010. The award this year goes to Sergey Demekhine who is now coaching Vera Zvonareva. There are lots of pictures around of him fully clothed but hey, you can Google him and see those. Vera has always had potential but always seemed to fall apart at critical times during her matches. This would result in the emotional outbursts she is famous for. With Sergey the emotions are still there but there haven't been any picking apart the bandages and wraps scenes. Even during the US Open final while suffering from brain freeze Vera played tennis. Making Bepa a legitimate, not just a statistical top five player in 2011 is the challenge facing Sergey.

WTA Match of the Year

What does it mean when I look back over the entire WTA season not one match leaps out at me? I was ready to publish this yesterday but thought that maybe I was mistaken and that there actually was a match that had slipped my mind. There were some good matches - Samantha Stosur vs Elena Dementieva at the US Open, and some inspiring matches - Francesca Schiavone vs Elena Demetieva at the French Open - but that's it. Neither of these matches could be called great.

I have read some excellent fan musings on the WTA and it's current situation. What it all boils down to is that the women who came on the scene ten or more years ago arrived with skills and mental toughness that the current crop of up and comers don't seem to have a clue about. The top player in the world can't make it through a match without her father racing down from his aerie to tell her what to do. Most of them have no idea what the word "strategy" means. They have no shots, no court presence, and other than bad attitude and a sense of entitlement bring nothing to the court. Watching them ball bash is the cure for insomnia. It's appalling that the top player is called a work in progress.

When did being cute start to matter more than having a solid game? Look no further than Anna Kournikova. She was the first with the long blond hair and cute outfits. Now it seems that every young woman coming on the court has to look as if she squeezed herself into a kit one size too small and have flowing tresses, preferably blond. Stefanie Graf and Monica Seles were the players of their generation but only purists remember them. Everyone knows Anna Kournikova. I'm laying off of Maria Sharapova because she is trying to do more with her game. 2011 will be crucial for her.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Until the WTA works harder at promoting mental ability instead of cuteness and marketability it will continue to put out a mediocre product and forgettable, cookie cutter players.


And while we all appreciate the effort put forth by Kimiko Date-Krumm what does it say about your sport that a forty year old woman can come back and be competitive? A lot has been made of her comeback and not all of it has been positive. Again it comes down to the skill set that women of her generation came to the pro level possessing not trying to learn.

Let's be real here. Serena is badly injured. Venus Williams played with pain most of the year. Love them or hate them the glimpse we've had of the WTA without either of them is pretty grim.

The ATP in 2011

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The man pictured above will be the story for 2011 in the ATP. The picture has engendered a lot of criticism and speculation about it's meaning. It's simple. Almost every establishment tennis blogger, commentator and many fans see this man as the embodiment of men's tennis. Everyone else is seen as somehow unworthy (except for Andy Murray). Look for a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth as well as grown men and women clothed in sack cloth and ashes. It is truly going to be a bumpy ride.

US Tennis in 2011

Dire. When our Fed Cup team's hopes rest on the shoulders of Melanie Oudin and Coco Vandeweghe we're in trouble. As for the men there are some bright if obnoxious lights. Sam Querrey comes to mind. John Isner wasn't allowed to completely heal from that horror of a match in London. Querrey showed that he needs a lot of coddling and Isner, while willing, wasn't physically or mentally able to recoup at the end of the season.
That leaves Andy Roddick as the American standard bearer. He's made the attempt to undo years of damage and had mixed results. Has he recovered from that Wimbledon final he should have won? That was in 2009. 2011 will mark a fresh start for him. Will he ever win a major again? The stars will have to perfectly align for that to happen. Roddick has also said he will play Davis Cup in 2011. That gives us a chance.
Frankly I don't see Isner and Querrey being ranked much higher than they are now. There is a lot of hope being placed on the shoulders of Ryan Harrison who made a good showing at the US Open. Once again our players are hampered by their inability to play on any surface other than outdoor hard court or super fast indoor courts.

The older players, Venus, Serena and Andy Roddick are going to be called on to do a hell of a lot for their country in 2011. Let's see how they hold up.

Monday, December 6, 2010

2010 - An Historic End

by Savannah

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The victory of the Serbian Davis Cup team over nine time Davis Cup champions France 3-2 closed out the ATP 2010 season. As the exhibition season gets under way the rich will get richer and everyone else will rest up for the beginning of the 2011 season in Australia.
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Serbia's President was an enthusiastic fan as Novak Djokovic and Viktor Troicki led their team to victory after a crushing doubles loss the day before.

French Captain Guy Forget will have to live with the questions regarding his choice of 30 year old Michael Llodra to play the live fifth rubber. Llodra had played a hour doubles match the day before and struggled at times during that victory. It was obvious from the beginning that Llodra had no legs and his struggles with the surface became blatant.

Viktor Troicki, who had been considered a sacrificial lamb showed why you can't call a match until it's played. Troicki, buoyed by the crowd played the match of his career and as had been previously agreed, got his head shorn with the rest of the team and its Captain.

Congratulations to the Serbians for their first Davis Cup victory.

Miscellany

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Both Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic were seen at the Davis Cup tie in Belgrade, Serbia

Confirming a rumor that surfaced during the WTF in London Robin Soderling has parted ways with Magnus Norman. His new coach will be Italian Claudio Pistolesi.

Year End Rankings - Top 20

ATP Singles

1 Nadal 12450
2 Federer 9145
3 Djokovic 6240
4 Murray 5760
5 Soderling 5580
6 Berdych 3955
7 Ferrer 3735
8 Roddick 3665
9 Verdasco 3240
10 Youzhny 2920
11 Melzer 2785
12 Monfils 2560
13 Tsonga 2345
14 Cilic 2300
15 Almagro 2160
16 Fish 1991
17 Ljubicic 1965
18 Querrey 1860
19 Isner 1850
20 Baghdatis 1785

WTA - Singles

1 Wozniacki, Caroline DEN 8035
2 Zvonareva, Vera RUS 6785
3 Clijsters, Kim BEL 6635
4 Williams, Serena USA 5355
5 Williams, Venus USA 4985
6 Stosur, Samantha AUS 4982
7 Schiavone, Francesca ITA 4935
8 Jankovic, Jelena SRB 4445
9 Dementieva, Elena RUS 4335
10 Azarenka, Victoria BLR 4235
11 Li, Na CHN 3555
12 Henin, Justine BEL 3415
13 Peer, Shahar ISR 3365
14 Radwanska, Agnieszka POL 3000
15 Petrova, Nadia RUS 2702
16 Bartoli, Marion FRA 2645
17 Ivanovic, Ana SRB 2600
18 Sharapova, Maria RUS 2591
19 Rezai, Aravane FRA 2575
20 Kirilenko, Maria RUS 2550

The Dimitrov Incident

Nothing new to report on Grigor Dimitrov's physical assault on chair umpire Daniel Infanger in Helsinki. As you know Dimitrov has been fined two thousand Euros and is waiting to find out if he will be assessed further fines, be suspended.or both. The incident happened at a Challenger event and is therefore under the jurisdiction of the ITF. As the Serena Williams case showed the final dispensation can come weeks after the initial incident.

Speaking of Serena I find it amazing that there is so much sentiment for Dimitrov to get away with just a slap on the wrist. No suspension they say. The fine was great based on his current level of compensation from professional tennis. Serena's fine was justified because she's the bigger star. In one word, bullshit. If a verbal assault resulted in a $90,000 fine a physical assault should result in a verbal spanking and nothing else? If you recall people wanted Serena heavily fined and suspended for a very long time. In the real world Dimitrov would be charged with assault. Nothing would've been done to Serena.

Is there something else at work here? Why so much sympathy for Dimitrov? Reminds me of how no one talks about the
Yanina Wickmayer incident. Double standard is the least of what is going on here.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Kim Clijsters WTA Player of the Year

by Savannah

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To absolutely no one's surprise Kim Clijsters of Belgium was chosen as WTA Player of the Year. The WTA site posted the following:

Kim Clijsters was voted Player of the Year for the second time in her career, having first earned the accolade in 2005. The Belgian, 27, had a terrific 2010 season, highlighted by winning her third US Open. Additionally, Clijsters won four other titles, at Brisbane, Miami, Cincinnati and the WTA Championships - Doha 2010. For her off-court achievements, she was also given the Player Service award, which recognizes the player who has done the most to support her fellow players through the WTA Players' Council or other initiatives.

"It's really nice to win the Player of the Year award just one year after making a comeback and while I didn't think it would come so quickly, I am thrilled with the news," Clijsters commented. "To be honored by your fellow players with the Player Service award means so much to me because I believe the social contact with the rest of the players is very important. This year I met a lot of new girls and it was very nice that so many of them had positive reactions to my daughter Jada as well. I want to thank my fellow players and the media who voted for me and I look forward to seeing everyone again in Australia."


How do I feel about it? Kim won the US Open. That was her major. I guess the good news is that she at least has one this year. I guess everyone knew they couldn't sneak Sunshine in with no major despite her top ranking. Still it kind of surprises me that the woman who won two majors this year and was only unable to compete due to injury at the end of the year wasn't chosen.
As someone posted here Kim plays ugly tennis and forces opponents to her level which of course is pushing in a way but I'll save that for my end of year write up. Congratulations to Kim and her fans. It could've been worse.

The other winners, and an explanation of how Kim was chosen can be found on the official WTA site by clicking the above link.

The Pressure of Hype
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Grigor Dimitrov is a name many tennisheads are familiar with. He's not so quietly been moving up the ATP rankings and ends the year ranked # 106. Which makes what happened after the Helsinki Finland challenger a bit disturbing.


Grigor Dimitrov has been charged €2000 and could face further punishment as a result of attacking an umpire at the Challenger event in Helsinki last month.

...after his final four loss to Ricardas Berankis at the Helsinki Challenger is reported to have attacked umpire Daniel Infanger away from the court before pushing the official in the chest using both of his hands.

According to one of the Finnish newspapers, an irate Dimitrov also swore at Daniel until an Italian colleague of the umpire separated the two of them.

The newspaper also reports the director of the competition saying that the Association of Tennis Professional could yet impose a more severe punishment on the contender once the incident has been further examined.

Antti Aine who is the President of the Finnish umpire's association, was extremely critical of Grigor after witnessing the argument himself.

"The immunity of the umpire is a sacred thing in sports. You can disagree with calls but this was way out of line,” said Aine.

A suspension could possibly endanger Dimitrov’s place in next month’s Australian Open with the contender’s current ranking of world number 106 enough to secure him straight entry.

The article doesn't make clear what set Dimitrov off but there is no excuse for his behavior. That's what walls, and locker rooms are for Grigor. It seems that young Mr. Dimitrov may have the talent to be the next big thing in men's tennis. It remains to be seen if he's got the temperament for it.

Miscellany

I'm doing my civic duty and may be a juror in the near future. My first day was today. I read the entire NY Times today. I'm so informed it's disgusting.

I'll post as I can in the evenings if it's necessary.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

WTF 2010 Final - A Resounding Meh

by Savannah

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Patrick McEnroe and Cliff Drysdale said that winning the WTF final was more important for Roger Federer than Rafael Nadal. It showed. The first two sets, split between the two men by the identical 6-3 score, were exciting. The third set saw Rafa staying back while Federer came in more often. There can only be one result when that happens, especially on an indoor court.
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In their last match as a team Nenad Zimonjic and Daniel Nestor defeated another team making their final appearance, Mahesh Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi.

At long last the 2010 ATP season is over. The Exhibition season begins now and Abu Dhabi is a few weeks away.

I'm not going to be posting much. There is always tennis news and if something big happens of course I'll be posting it. See you all soon.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A WTF Semi For Posterity - And One Not So Much

by Savannah

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It's already being called one of if not the match of the year. Andy Murray faced off against Rafael Nadal in the packed O2 stadium. Scottish flags and signs asking Rafa to marry the woman holding them were dispersed among the 17,500 people who had come to see two of the top four men in the world facing off against each other. Three hours later they had seen a match that will be talked about for a very long time.
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The first set was decided by a tiebreak won by Nadal 7-6(4) and it looked as if it would be a quick ho-hum straight set win for him. Instead Rafa began to show his nerves and the next thing you knew Murray had won the second set 6-3.
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If you like indoor tennis and great shot making the third set was your trip to Nirvana. The two battled with Nadal up a break and serving for the match at 5-4. Murray managed a break to level things at 5 all and then both men, fighting their nerves as well as each other kicked it up a notch. Murray, struggling to make a return fell and visibly pulled his groin. He had been hitting his left thigh with his racquet for some time but after he pulled his groin I know I was hoping he would have it in him to continue. He did.
Anyone who is a Rafa fan knows about his will and desire to win. I think that after today all of the doubters, those who belittled his style of play and ability to play on surfaces other than clay will no longer sing that song.
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When Murray missed a forehand at six all in the tiebreak that was all she wrote. Rafa gathered his nerve and ended the match with the fans standing and cheering.
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ESPN is airing one of the semi's tomorrow morning. The first semi lasted three hours. One can only assume they will highlight this match especially the third set..
Great matches deserve to be seen by all sports fans. Congratulations to both men.
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Novak Djokovic's reaction in this picture just about sums up what his match against Roger Federer was like. The second semifinal of the day was as dull and predictable as the first semi final was exciting and down to the wire. Djokovic didn't show up at all and lost in straight sets. He seemed unable to gather his thoughts and was jerked around the court like a marionette. Novak said before the tournament began that the upcoming Davis Cup tie against France was at the top of his to do list and that playing the WTF was something he expects to be able to do again. He played like it today.
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If the TD was weeping for joy yesterday he's probably having wet dreams tonight. As I've said before I don't predict ATP matches.
"Mad Professah", who posts on Craig's blog, called both matches correctly today. Start time for the singles final is 12:30p Eastern. ESPN will be carrying the match live.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010

It's Wide Open

by Savannah
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Tennis Australia has issued the following statement:

Serena Williams today confirmed she has withdrawn from Australian Open 2011.

“As I continue to rehabilitate my foot after the second surgery last month, it is with the utmost regret that I am withdrawing from the Hopman Cup and the 2011 Australian Open Championships,” Serena Williams said today.

“As I recently learned, pushing myself back into my intense training too early only caused me further injury and damage.

“While I desperately want to be back on the court and competing in the first Grand Slam tournament of the year, it is imperative for my health that I continue to work with my doctors to ensure my foot heals properly.

“This decision, though heavy on my heart, is the right one. I am praying for a healthy recovery and I promise my Aussie fans and my fans around the world that I will be back better than ever as soon as I can be.”

Williams has been in regular contact with Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley and made her decision after receiving further medical advice.

“I know how disappointing it will be for Serena that she’s unable to come back and defend her title at Australian Open 2011. We all know how much she enjoys playing here, and how much she loves her Aussie fans,” Tiley said.

“Serena is a great champion and we will miss her in January. We send her our very best wishes for a speedy recovery and look forward to welcoming her back to Australia soon.”


With Serena out of Melbourne the WTA field is wide open. Will someone win their first major or will the winner of the Australian Open be an established player? Will Serena drop out of the top ten by missing Australia.
While all of this will be debated over the next few days I want to go on record now as saying I think this is the right decision for Serena. Rushing her return to competition is what caused this to begin with.
Serena 11/17/2010
Rest and take care of yourself Serena. Come back when you're healed.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Week In Review

by Savannah

Carlos Moya 11/17/2010
There was Albert Costa, Alex Corretja, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Carlos Moya. These four men were the original Spanish Armada. As of this week there is only one man still active. Carlos Moya was forced by a nagging foot injury to retire from tennis. The move had been expected but it still signifies the passing of an era. Moya was the first to wear the sleeveless tennis shirts made popular by the man from Mallorca, also the island of Moya's birth.

Moya was the first man from Spain to reach the number one ranking back in 1999. He remained one of the top players in the world for years. Now, at the age of 33, he his hanging up his racquets. He is scheduled to play in Seville this December.

Carlos will be missed. There are many who hope he will play on the senior circuit after awhile. For now all we can do is wish Carlos and his family good luck.

WTF 2010

Christopher Clarey of the New York Times kicked off the papers coverage with an interview of Roger Federer who discusses his coaching situation and why he feels confident going into the O2 year ending tournament.

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“Sure it took some managing, just in the beginning, getting everybody happy and comfortable with the situation,” Federer said in an interview last week in Paris. “But I look at the long run. We all do, so it’s all cool. If you look at the short term I think that’s when it gets a bit hectic and a bit pressured.”
(...)
“When we first started talking, and I was starting to get to know him a little more in-depth, his level of excitement and desire to keep playing and to do it in a way that’s positive, optimistic, energetic and open-minded, really kind of floored me,” said Annacone, who has spoken little publicly since joining Federer’s team.

“I felt like I was with a 23-year-old or 22-year-old again,” he added. “He loves the life. He loves the tennis matches. He loves the travel. He has all the ingredients, including and most importantly good health in mind and body to keep going for a number of years. I think in retrospect Pete at this age was a lot more tired — a lot more tired mostly emotionally, not physically.”
(...)
Determining the precise state of Federer’s game remains difficult, however. The final phase of this season has been both reaffirming and disquieting. Reaffirming because he has won three of his seven tournaments and reached two finals after putting in that solid training block in July. Disquieting because he has continued to let matches slip away after holding multiple match points. He failed to convert either of his two match points against Novak Djokovic in the U.S. Open semifinals or any of his five match points against Gaël Monfils in the semifinals in Paris last week.
(...)
Earlier this year, Federer lost two other matches after holding match point: against Marcos Baghdatis in Indian Wells and against Tomas Berdych in Miami. In the Halle final against Lleyton Hewitt in June, he was up by one set and 0-40 on Hewitt’s serve at 4-4 and also lost.

“I think this was for me the worst part, that I missed quite a few big opportunities, which then make my season look somewhat fragile but which it wasn’t,” said Federer, whose biggest victory came at the Australian Open in January. “I think it was a good season after all, but for me maybe the worst part is all those really close matches.”

The question is whether this is a hint of the decline to come — and both Federer and Annacone are weary of the legions of decline spotters — or simply an anomaly. What is clear is that Federer has never been through any stretch quite like this, even as Annacone points out that it was only last year that Federer coolly held off Andy Roddick, 16-14, in the fifth set of the Wimbledon final.

“I’ve always tried to play each point as tough as I can and sometimes it just happens that way,” Federer said. “It’s not the first time I lose a big match with match point. I lost to Marat Safin at the Australian Open once with match point and it was a great match from the beginning to the end. Sometimes you get unlucky with those kind of runs, and you just want to make sure they stop.”

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Everyone and his or her brother is predicting how the tournament will end. Defending champion Nikolay Davydenko did not make the cut this year so someone new will hoist the trophy.
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As regular readers know I don't like to do ATP predictions because I know I'm a STAN and that I could stray into talking about what I want to happen as opposed to what could happen. I can usually avoid predictions because there is so much else going on.
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With the ATP insuring that their year end is the only thing on the calendar at this time I can't really avoid talking about the World Team Finals can I? I mean I could but that would be kind of silly wouldn't it?
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The thing is the draw doesn't lend itself to easy analysis this year. Some are arguing one group is more difficult than the other and that one man has, if not a cakewalk, an easier time to the semi finals than the others.
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At first glance that would appear to be the case. Everyone who on paper could give Roger Federer a hard time appears to be in his group. I'm sure Andy Roddick breathed a sigh of relief at not having to face Federer in the Round Robin. I'm guessing he's as sick of reminders of his loss to Roger in the Wimbledon final in 2009.
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By the same token Federer's group is full of guys who don't grovel at his altar. Every one of them has given Federer a very hard row to hoe at some point. I have to say that Soderling seems to have become a bit gun shy, or star struck, of late but he will be formidable foe and has to be flagged as a favorite to come out of his group near the top.
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David Ferrer's head to head with Federer is dismal with Federer owning a 10-0 record against him.
Against Andy Murray though Ferrer is 3-0. Against Soderling Ferrer is 4-8.
Do I think Ferrer has a chance? Yes. Who do I think will come out of this group? I think it's a toss up. None of the men in this group have been at top form of late except for Robin Soderling. He did very well in Bercy coming out strong in the final to defeat a mentally and physically whipped Gael Monfils. Will he be able to win the Round Robin portion of the tournament? He could. Will he be able to overcome his aversion to winning against Federer? We'll see.
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As for Group A the situation is quite different. The prevalent opinion is that Rafael Nadal will have a cake walk to the semifinals.
What do I think? I think conventional wisdom is wrong.
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I think this group will be a dogfight from the first ball toss. Andy Roddick has to feel good about not having to face Federer and has a lot to prove. The surface here is said to not be as fast as the one at Bercy that would've favored his style of play. We all know Roddick didn't factor into the semi finals there. With a slower surface Roddick will have to play more tennis and if he's forced to come forward, something he doesn't do well, he could be in trouble.
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Novak Djokovic comes into this tournament playing some of the best tennis he's ever played. He has a winning head to head against Tomas Berdych, a losing record against Roddick, and a losing record against Rafael Nadal.
The wild card here is Berdych, who when he's on is almost unstoppable but is prone to go on walkabout at any point in a match.
He has a losing head to head against everyone in his group but I can see him forcing his opponents to have to play hard to beat him and could pull off a surprise win.
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Am I hedging my bets? Yes I am. I think that this is anyone's tournament and that someone could pull off a surpise win. All I want is good tennis. I don't think that's too much to ask.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The O2 - Groups and Orders of Play

by Savannah

The draw for the ATP WTF was done today.

Singles Round Robin

Group A

Rafael Nadal
Novak Djokokic
Tomas Berdych
Andy Roddick

Group B

Roger Federer
Robin Soderling
Andy Murray
David Ferrer

Doubles Round Robin

Group A

Bob Bryan-Mike Bryan
Lukas Dlouhy-Leander Paes
Mariusz Fyrstenberg-Marcin Matkowski
Jurgen Melzer-Philipp Petzschner

Group B

Daniel Nestor-Nenad Zimonjic
Lukasz Kubot-Oliver Marach
Mahesh Bhupathi-Max Mirnyi
Wesley Moodie-Dick Norman

ORDER OF PLAY

Sunday, 21 November 2010

CENTRE COURT Start At 12:15 PM

[1] B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) vs [8] J Melzer (AUT) / P Petzschner (GER)

Not Before 2:00 PM
[4] R Soderling (SWE) vs [5] A Murray (GBR)

Start At 6:15 PM
[4] L DLouhy (CZE) / L Paes (IND) vs [6] M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL)

Not Before 8:00 PM
[2] R Federer (SUI) vs [7] D Ferrer (ESP)


Monday, 22 November 2010

CENTRE COURT Start At 12:15 PM

[3] M Bhupathi (IND) / M Mirnyi (BLR) vs [5] L Kubot (POL) / O Marach (AUT)
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Not Before 8:00 PM
[1] R Nadal (ESP) vs [8] A Roddick (USA)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Of Paris Masters and WTF

by Savannah

I hope you all got a chance to see the semi final matches in Paris this past weekend. As you know I am not a fan of hard court tennis especially when it's played on super fast courts as Bercy was. Still Gael Monfils vs Roger Federer and Robin Soderling vs Michael Llodra were two of the best men's matches of the year. Both went three sets and both were edge of your seat exciting.
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It was stunning to see Gael suck it up and play mature, focused tennis. He left the clowning at home and did not go away mentally when he dropped the second set. Roger Rasheed deserves to be praised for getting his pupil to this point. If this Gael shows up more now we're going to see him winning events instead of going out in the quarters. The match score was 7-6(7), 6-7(1), 7-6(4) for Monfils.

Michael Llodra, his wife and young son in the stands, showed that he is more than a doubles player. His match against Soderling was a war. He had an answer for everything that was being thrown at him faltering only in the home stretch. Still the match score was 6-7(0), 7-5, 7-6(6) for Soderling and that doesn't begin to convey the level of tennis both men played. In fact both matches showed that real tennis can be played on fast hard courts. Of course serving was key but there were some great points played by all four men. When the matches were over Patrick McEnroe tweeted that there should be more matches played on fast hard courts. I think PMac needs to slow his roll. I sat through an Andy Roddick match at the US Open - he was playing Fabrice Santoro - and bored to tears doesn't begin to describe what that match was like for me. There was no such boredom on Saturday.

It's a no brainer why PMac would take such a stance but remember these were four Europeans playing. Andy Roddick crashed and burned early in the event. Hard and grass court tennis can be enjoyable if the participants know how to construct points and engage in strategic play instead of the hit hard and harder play many Americans engage in.

It's unfortunate that Gael came into the Final flat while Soderling continued the level of play he exhibited on Saturday. Monfils was never in the Final but this time it was okay. Tennisheads now know what he can do and look forward to seeing more of it next year.

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I didn't see any of the doubles play but still congratulations to the team of Mahesh Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi on their victory.

The ATP World Team Finals

Yes I totally resisted the urge to use the abbreviation for World Team Finals. If they're brash enough to use those words they're brash enough to accept that people will call their year end tournament WTF. I'm just sayin'.

Anywho the field was set during the Paris Masters and will include the following players:

1 Rafael Nadal 11,450
2 Roger Federer 7,645
3 Novak Djokovic 5,635
4 Robin Soderling 5,380
5 Andy Murray 5,360
6 Tomas Berdych 3,755
7 David Ferrer 3,735
Qualifies for first time since 2007.
8 Andy Roddick 3,665
Qualifies for eighth straight year

With Andy Murray now ranked #5 the set up for the groups is going to be extremely interesting. The draw will take place on Wednesday November 17.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Tennis Talk

by Savannah

IMG Mess Update

LONDON -- The head of management company IMG has told tennis' anti-corruption group that he hasn't bet on the sport since current rules barring gambling were enacted nearly two years ago.

IMG executive Ted Forstmann was accused in a lawsuit of gambling millions of dollars on sports events, including the 2007 French Open final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Forstmann has acknowledged betting on Federer, who is represented by an IMG agent.

Tennis Integrity Unit spokesman Mark Harrison said Thursday the group contacted Forstmann and "made it clear that since January 2009, he has been covered by the provisions of the game's anti-corruption code."

Harrison said Forstmann "understands and accepts this."


So 2007 is in play no?

WTF Notes

The Elite Eight that will appear in London has been settled.

1 Rafael Nadal 11,450
2 Roger Federer 7,645
3 Novak Djokovic 5,635
4 Andy Murray 5,360
5 Robin Soderling 4,740
6 Tomas Berdych 3,755
7 David Ferrer 3,735
8 Andy Roddick 3,665
The Doubles teams are as follows:

Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan 11,370
Daniel Nestor/Nenad Zimonjic 8,370
Lukas Dlouhy/Leander Paes 4,015
Lukasz Kubot/Oliver Marach 3,735
Mahesh Bhupathi/Max Mirnyi 3,630
Mariusz Fyrstenberg/Marcin Matkowski 3,520
(WC) Jurgen Melzer/Philipp Petzschner 2,745

Andy Roddick is complaining about the week between the end of Bercy and the beginning of the World Tour Finals.

"Considering the ATP sent out an email saying we have to be in London for Wednesday, it doesn't leave much time for me to get home and back now, does it?" said Roddick when asked by journalists about his post-tournament plans.

"So not only do we have a week in between where we're kind of hanging out, apparently we're available for you people for five days."

The American believes bringing the Paris Masters and World Tour Finals closer together would help to have a longer off-season.

"It's tough to change things overnight, but change is happening," he said.

"We moved it (the World Tour Finals) to Europe, so that's good, but it's the same amount of time. There's still no off-season. The point would be to make it cohesive so you run through into the other one.

"You guys (the press) could make it happen. I don't think you need a week to prep your stories. I think it would add 25-30 percent to the off-season."

"It's tough to be objective about yourself, but I know I've had some of my best moments in London," he said.

"I've spent about five weeks there every summer for the last 10 years, so it's hard to believe I've not developed some kind of relationship (with the fans). I certainly reciprocate a lot of the positive feelings." Source: AP/Yahoo Sports

Really Andy? You got in by the skin of your teeth. If you want to go back to the States and then fly back to London that is your choice. It's this sense of entitlement that turns people off to Roddick.

Miscellany
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Jelena Jankovic had what she called "a small eye surgery" this week. Speedy recovery JJ.
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A healthier looking Anna Kournikova poses with Venus Williams at an event.
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Elena Dementieva at a recent event.
The player pictures from Bali are stunning. Here is a sample.
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Daniela Hantuchova
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Kimiko Date-Krumm
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Ana Ivanovic in traditional Balinese attire
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Aravane Rezai