Sunday, October 31, 2010

The WTA Crowns Its 2010 Queen...and Other Things

by Savannah
Doha 2010
Kim Clijsters scored a big win for women's tennis by defeating the current WTA number one player Caroline Wozniacki in three sets 6-3, 5-7, 6-3. She did it on her own. There were looks to her box and yes, there was probably some coaching but at no time did someone come flying down to the court to scream instructions at her. She came back from walkabout pretty much on her own in the third set. You can argue there shouldn't have been a third set since Kim had a 4-1 lead in the second set but I think she saw herself on the flight home a little too soon. Let's be real here. Wozniacki is talented. At some point she could become worthy of the top ranking. Right now her play is as someone on Twitter said, that of a glorified junior player.

I think what has shaken WTA fans about Elena Dementieva's retirement is that she was made of the same stuff Clijsters is. She won or lost on her own. Her mother Vera sat in the stands and you could read how her daughter was doing on her face. Vera never made a trip to the court. Piotr Wozniacki is there every time you turn around.

That raises the question as to why on court coaching is allowed during the YEC. It's not allowed during Slams and since there were some making the argument that if Wozniacki won it was the equivalent of winning a Slam the question is a valid one. If the YEC is going to be treated as a major then on court coaching should not be allowed. Unfortunately once the Old Guard retires, mostly after the 2012 Olympics, the quality of tennis in the WTA is going to go down drastically. Of course there could be some youngster out there who will be able to step into the very large shoes of those who have gone before them, someone we haven't heard of yet. In the meantime congratulations to Kim Clijsters for her victory.

Christophe Rochus did not go quietly. The older and some would say lesser of the Rochus brothers delivered some body blows to the sport he and his brother played. Some excerpts.

Q: You were the first to denounce doping in tennis. Did it come back to haunt you?

A: "Oh yes! Notably, I received a threatening letter from the ATP that caused me problems later on, but that's not a concern. It's just proof that the system is rotten..."

Q: You saw some "dirty" things regarding that during your career?

A: "Like everyone, I saw some things. For me, it is inconceivable to be able to play five hours in the blazing sun one day, and run like a rabbit the next day."

Q: Do you remember a particular example?

A: "Yes, I remember a match against a guy whose name I won't mention. I won the first set 6-1, very easily. He went to the bathroom and came back to the court completely changed, almost. He led 5-3 in the second set and when I got it back to 5-5, his nose started to bleed. I said at the time that this was pretty weird."
Q: There were even rumours about Justine Henin when she retired. Do you think they were unfounded?

A: "I heard them just like you did. All I can say is that I was surprised by the fact that she suddenly stopped competing, without apparent reason. A great champion, generally, announces it several months in advance and does a sort of farewell tour..."

Q: We've felt, in the past, that you were irritated by the media aura cast by Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters.

A: "No. Understand me: I have a lot of admiration for the performances of these two players. What bothers me is that people compare the men's and women's circuits, which have nothing to do with each other. Justine wouldn't beat the No. 500 player on the ATP. It's as if we were comparing men's and women's soccer ..."

Q: To that extent?

A: "With the men, the level is very high from the first round. Even Nadal and Federer can be pushed. With the girls, before the quarterfinals, it's a joke. The level is distressingly weak and the difference between the top 10 and top 100 is enormous."

Q: Yes, at Grand Slams, the prize money is identical..."

A: "Yes, and I'm sorry, but that's not normal. The majority of the players think the way I do, even if they don't say it out loud. In all objectivity, you can't compare the amount of effort necessary to reach the second week of a Grand Slam for the men and the women. And I'm not talking just about the matches that are five sets for the men and three sets for the women. Everything is different. All you have to do is look at how easily some players come back after a long break ..."

Q: You're thinking of Kim and Justine?

A: "Not necessarily. Look at the recent performances of Kimiko Date. She stopped for 10 years and she returned to the top at age 40. As if it were nothing. It's a disgrace. That type of story would never happen on the ATP Tour. The failed comeback of Thomas Muster is the best proof."

Enjoy your retirement Christophe.

The Others
There were three ATP tournaments taking place while the women played in Doha.
Mikhail Kukushin made his first main tour final and proceeded to win it. Much was made of his coach being his girlfriend. From the looks of things he could care less. He won.
Gael Monfils won the title at Montpellier.
Jurgen Melzer hoists what has to be the most phallic trophy I've ever seen after his win in the city of Wien, known in the West as Vienna.
Next week the ATP has the stage to itself with tournaments in Valencia and Basel.
I'm not quite sure why these pictures are surfacing now but they're nice. The picture shown above is one of Venus, her sister Lyandrea (sp) and a twelve year old Caroline Wozniacki. The accompanying article says that the picture decorated Caroline's bedroom walls for some time. Proof?
And there you have it folks. I don't really want to get into the why of these pictures. I think most of you who read this blog understand the workings of the various PR machines in tennis.

I'll feature the Doubles winners at Doha and the other tournaments tomorrow.


TennisAce said...

Savannah, man I wish I had your phone number because the stuff that happened today deserves a phone call to chat about it. I hope that some enterprising journalist starts looking into the smudgy side of tennis. Leave gambling out of it. Doping is the big old elephant in the room that needs to be investigated.

The first family of tennis loves Wozniacki. They also love Rezai and quite a few other players. Venus is revered by most of the younger players on Tour and the best moment of this year's 2010 season was reading an interview given by Shahar Peer about the talks she had with Venus. She became so emotional during that interview.

There are a lot of things that Venus and Serena do behind the scenes, especially when it comes to mentoring young players. It is done away from the spotlight and in private. People wondered why Richard Williams was at every Rezai match in Madrid. Turns out that he had had history with Rezai's coach but felt that Rezai had potential.

That is the reason why I cannot like Clijsters. Everything that she does is done to achieve maximum benefit to herself. She comes across as a nice girl, but she is not. She has done and said things that leave a really bad taste in my mouth. People tend not to see how manipulative she can be. I was upset that Wozniacki lost today. She fought hard and still lost.

I agree with you. Enough of the on-court coaching. It belittles her.

Yolita said...

So Christophe Rochus is not only a mediocre player. He's also a mediocre person.

Savannah said...

Christophe Rochus is a piece of work. More on him and his accusations tomorrow

TennisAce said...

Savannah, if you look up sour grapes in the dictionary, I think we would see Christophe Rochus' face right there. However, that should not take away from the fact that there is doping in tennis and it needs to be weeded out.

kraa said...

It's already written above, but I'll repeat it anyway:

1) Yes, tennis just like all other pro sports is not devoid of doping problems
2) Cristophe Rochus is still a tool

For the record I like both Clijsters and Wozniacki. It was a very good match, more of that and WTA would be in a lot better shape...

Actually the whole YEC was better than usual. Other than Jankovic who was disinterested everyone tried hard, no one got injured and the overall quality of matches was quite good.

I was not a fan of Venus in her early days and I'm still not a die-hard fan, but I have grown to like her and wish her well in the twilight of her career.

vw said...

Savannah, you are right about the golden PR machines that some people have. It's what makes photos appear like magic!