Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Money, Money, Money Money...Money

by Savannah

The writing team of Gamble and Huff penned the O'Jay's classic used as the headling for this post. Greg Couch has given insight into what the USTA has been up to in terms of "developing new talent" that is easily summed up by the headline. Please take your time and read the entire article. I've excerpted large parts of it below.

Picture from eltenisquenovemos.wordpress.com

... working through the minors now is an 18-year-old American left-hander, a clay court specialist who has been called "the chosen one.''

That's right, Andrea Collarini ... reached the final of the junior French Open in May on the slow, red clay. He'll play juniors at the U.S. Open next week.

So how do you explain him?

"I have to use the expression,'' a spokesperson for the Argentine tennis federation, AAT, told me, "they are stealing a player.''

No, the U.S. didn't steal Collarini. It bought him, bought his loyalty, paid for his nationalism.

Did I forget to mention that Collarini grew up in Argentina? He was born in New York and left for Argentina when he was 3. That's where he learned the game.

That's the country that was calling him the chosen one. But early this year, thanks to a fantastic financial offer from the United States Tennis Association, Collarini left Argentina, moved to the national training center in Florida and became an American.

He is apple pie now.

"As far as stealing a player, that's the farthest thing from what we're trying to do,'' said U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe, who's also in charge of the USTA's player development program. "We are America, right? This is what our country is built on.''

This is the story of the building of an American tennis star. And it gets to the heart of the American Way in sports.

Do we applaud going after every avenue to make us the best, or look down on the USTA for trying to buy something it can't develop on its own?

Which is it?

The law of capitalism is winning out here. The U.S. is simply big enough to squash the Argentine federation, to gobble up its best player and make him ours.

To me, this is bullying, and I'm not sure what it will prove to have Collarini winning majors in a few years for the U.S.
"You think we go around the world trying to find a kid who could play for the U.S.?" McEnroe asked. "We don't do that. We don't go after kids.''

The truth has been a moving target in the Collarini story. I've tried to move with it, talking with Collarini at the French, and then clarifying more details at a small pro tournament in Peoria, Ill., in July. The Argentine Davis Cup captain made allegations at Wimbledon. McEnroe has responded several times from several places, though his story seems to change a little each time.

This is a messy story, as accusations fly between the Argentines and the U.S. To hear McEnroe, it was an American-born kid who knocked on the USTA's door to see if he could play for his country. "What would you say if we turned him down?'' McEnroe asked.

To hear Argentina, Collarini was a great hope that the U.S. muscled away. "We were shocked,'' said Modesto Vazquez, Argentina's Davis Cup captain and head of that country's junior development program. "It's unfair.
For me, one word keeps coming to mind:

Pathetic. That's how this makes U.S. tennis look. To go out and buy a kid so we can say we have a tennis prospect?

McEnroe has been in charge of the USTA's player development program since 2008. He's not responsible for the mess of U.S. tennis, but has been charged with cleaning it up. Maybe the biggest hole in American tennis, though McEnroe won't say it, is the amazing lack of good U.S. coaches.

So McEnroe hired Jose Higueras, a top coach from Spain, to be the USTA's head of elite player development. Higueras suggested that the USTA hire Diego Moyano, a coach in Argentina, as a clay court coaching specialist. He has since been hired.
And this is where Collarini gets into the picture.

"Diego Moyano said he had been working with a player in Argentina who has a U.S. passport and wants to play for the U.S.'' McEnroe said. "Why wouldn't we have him in our program?''

The USTA offered Collarini coaching, residence, use of a training facility, wild-card entries into tournaments, but no cash, McEnroe said.

Collarini jumped.

"Last year, when I was here at this tournament,'' Collarini said at the French Open, "they offered me to go to the USTA, and they'd pay me everything: wild cards, tournaments every week with my same coach. So it was far better. It was best for me.''

They came to you or you came to them?

"No, no, no,'' he said. "They offered me.''

Were you surprised they called?


The confusion starts here. McEnroe had said that Collarini came to the USTA, which wasn't going to pass up an American-born kid wanting to come to America. He brought up Martina Navratilova, a Czech who eventually became an American. It's what America is all about.

He said that the USTA did not go after kids, remember?

So it was back to McEnroe to ask if maybe the USTA had initiated things.

"Not true at all,'' McEnroe said. "He came to us and said he'd like to play for us.''

But Collarini said the U.S. came to him.

"All I can tell you is what Jose (Higueras) and my coaches told me. And they are beyond reproach.''

Diego Gomez, spokesperson for the federation, said they couldn't stop Collarini from leaving, and that the USTA wanted a note saying he was in good stead. What was their choice but to write it? The letter, he said, was not meant to show that the Argentines were OK with this.

They are outraged.

"Our budget is $1 million annually,'' Gomez said. "And we can never compete with a good offer of players that we produce, we protect, we invest in, and then someone has the money to buy the player.''

Gomez said his federation made a "huge economic effort'' with Collarini. He then sent me a copy of another letter the Argentine federation wrote to the USTA asking for compensation. Gomez said the federation knew it wouldn't get any money, that this was sent only in protest.

"This is why we are calling upon your good judgment for the USTA to consider, on the basis of these facts, a goodwill economic compensation that allows us, within our budget limitations, to continue the development of young players in a country with a situation that is on the opposite side regarding the facilities on which relies your federation.''

McEnroe said the USTA had no intention of sending money to Argentina.

"It's not like a World Cup soccer player,'' he said, "like there's a transfer fee.''
The Argentine federation spokesperson said it didn't have good records, but "maybe it is not that much money for the USTA or any rich federation, but to us, it is.''

Moyano would know better than anyone how the USTA hooked up with Collarini in the first place. What did you tell the USTA about him? Was it that he wanted to play in the U.S.?

"No, no,'' Moyano said. "I said I thought we could take him.''

Monday, August 30, 2010

L'il Wayne Gives His US Open Picks

by Savannah

Yes I'm talking about THAT L'il Wayne, the one presently a guest of New York State at its Riker's Island prison. He's serving an eight month sentence for weapons possession. Well thanks to Sports Illustrated we find out that he's not only articulate and a good speller but knowledgeable about tennis. Who knew?


As Dwayne Michael Carter Jr proves image is not everything.

Please click on the image or the link if you can't see the entire handwritten letter.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Winners and Idle Chit Chat

by Savannah

There's been a lot going on in the happy world of professional tennis consisting mostly of pre US Open events. The traditional Pilot Pen tournament was also held. With Pilot Pen out as the sponsor it'll be interesting to see what happens to this event.

First to the winning players.
Sergiy Stakhovsky won the mens championship at the Pilot Pen tournament. He played Dennis Istomin in the final. Tennis nerds know about both men and that they've been sniffing around trophies for awhile now. It was a very interesting match between, as one commentator put it, guile and power. Guile won.
The commentators were making a big deal about Istomin's mother being his coach. As I recall Gloria Connors coached her son and he had a pretty decent career no? And we won't talk about Judy Murray will we?
R Lindstedt of Sweden and H Tecau of Romania are the men's doubles champions.
K Peschke of the Czech Republic and K Srebotnik of Slovakia are the Pilot Pen women's doubles champions.
Caroline Wozniacki won her third consecutive Pilot Pen women's crown. She won after winning Montreal on Monday in a rain delayed final. In New Haven. She defeated Nadia Petrova.
Congratulations to all the winners.

Now to the chit chat.

Well I guess it's not chit chat that Roger Federer has hired Paul Annacone as his full time coach. Annacone had worked with Federer on a trial basis up until now.

As you can see Serena Williams was out and about and knockin' em dead in the NYC area this week. Mary Carillo reported that Serena was at a bar in Germany where the folks were cheering their national team on during the WC when she cut her foot on a broken beer bottle that had found it's way to the floor of the establishment. She still went ahead with the exho she played with Kim Clijsters, something the haters fail to mention in their rush to malign the world number one. Obviously she shouldn't have played.
But that is not what the noise has been about. The British press, as mentioned by vw, is obsessing about Serena and the possibility that she's had a nose job. I'm not good at this sort of thing. The young woman who shares my living space told me it's just makeup and lighting. I trust her opinion since she has often said she admires how Beyonce handled shaving her nose down.
Not to be outdone Venus Williams was looking good in her pre event work.
Justine Henin, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Ana Ivanovic and Andy Murray appeared at the big Adidas event.
Laura Robson of Great Britain out and about on the grounds of the US Open.
Two dudes just kickin' back.
The two teams from the Nike hit and giggle held at Pier 54 in Manhattan. John McEnroe and Serena Williams were chair and MC respectively. The guy with the big grin next to Maria Sharapova is a random fan. He had a ball.

The New York Times Magazine has a great feature on women's tennis. The best thing about it are the photos of the top players accompanying the article. The cover of the magazine features Kim Clijsters as seen below. The link to the other pictures follows it.

New York Times Photo Essay

End Note

I took a mini break this week. With the Open beginning Monday two weeks of pretty intensive blogging will begin. I'm not planning to post every day. I'd like to do a first round synopsis, second round, etc. but of course will post as news warrants.

I also did my fangirl duty and now own a black version of the shirt Rafael Nadal is wearing in the above picture. I'm just saying.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

US Open 2010 Men's Draw

by Savannah

Rafael Nadal ESP (1) v Teymuraz Gabashvili RUS
Maximo Gonzalez ARG v Denis Istomin UZB
Gilles Simon FRA v Donald Young USA
Tobias Kamke GER v Philipp Kohlschreiber GER (29)

Feliciano Lopez ESP (23) v Santiago Giraldo COL
Rainer Schuettler GER v Qualifier
Sergiy Stakhovsky UKR v Peter Luczak AUS
Qualifier v Ivan Ljubicic CRO (15)

David Ferrer ESP (10) v Alexandr Dolgopolov UKR
Benjamin Becker GER v Daniel Brands GER
Jarkko Nieminen FIN v Daniel Gimeno-Traver ESP
Jeremy Chardy FRA v Ernests Gulbis LAT (24)

David Nalbandian ARG (31) v Qualifier
Florent Serra FRA v Florian Mayer GER
Pere Riba ESP v Qualifier
Fabio Fognini ITA v Fernando Verdasco ESP (8)

Andy Murray GBR (4) v Lukas Lacko SVK
Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo ESP v Dustin Brown JAM
Juan Ignacio Chela ARG v Yen-Hsun Lu TPE
Mikhail Kukushkin KAZ v Stanislas Wawrinka SUI (25)

Sam Querrey USA (20) v Bradley Klahn USA
Marcel Granollers ESP v Andreas Seppi ITA
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez ESP v Lukasz Kubot POL
Potito Starace ITA v Nicolas Almagro ESP (14)

Mikhail Youzhny RUS (12) v Andrey Golubev KAZ
Dudi Sela ISR v Xavier Malisse BEL
Jack Sock USA v Marco Chiudinelli SUI
Frederico Gil POR v John Isner USA (18)

Radek Stepanek CZE (28) v Julien Benneteau FRA
Tommy Robredo ESP v Qualifier
Victor Hanescu ROU v Carlos Berlocq ARG
Michael Llodra FRA v Tomas Berdych CZE (7)

Nikolay Davydenko RUS (6) v Michael Russell USA
Simon Greul GER v Richard Gasquet FRA
Kevin Anderson RSA v Somdev Devvarman IND
Tim Smyczek USA v Thomaz Bellucci BRA (26)

Gael Monfils FRA (17) v Qualifier
Igor Andreev RUS v Horacio Zeballos ARG
Janko Tipsarevic SRB v Olivier Rochus BEL
Stephane Robert FRA v Andy Roddick USA (9)

Marcos Baghdatis CYP (16) v Arnaud Clement FRA
Eduardo Schwank ARG v Robby Ginepri USA
Pablo Cuevas URU v Qualifier
Jan Hajek CZE v Mardy Fish USA (19)

Juan Monaco ARG (30) v Qualifier
Kristof Vliegen BEL v James Blake USA
Philipp Petzschner GER v Qualifier
Viktor Troicki SRB v Novak Djokovic SRB (3)

Robin Soderling SWE (5) v Qualifier
Taylor Dent USA v Alejandro Falla COL
Thiemo de Bakker NED v Qualifier
Qualifier v Fernando Gonzalez CHI (27)

Albert Montanes ESP (21) v Michal Przysiezny POL
Carsten Ball AUS v Qualifier
Qualifier v Evgeny Korolev KAZ
Illya Marchenko UKR v Marin Cilic CRO (11)

Jurgen Melzer AUT (13) v Dmitry Tursunov RUS
Qualifier v Ryan Sweeting USA
Bjorn Phau GER v Ricardo Mello BRA
Qualifier v Juan Carlos Ferrero ESP (22)

Lleyton Hewitt AUS (32) v Paul-Henri Mathieu FRA
Leonardo Mayer ARG v Guillaume Rufin FRA
Michael Berrer GER v Andreas Beck GER
Brian Dabul ARG v Roger Federer SUI (2)

US Open 2010 Women's Draw

by Savannah

Caroline Wozniacki DEN (1) v Chelsey Gullickson USA
Kai-Chen Chang TPE v Carla Suarez Navarro ESP
Anne Keothavong GBR v Yung-Jan Chan TPE
Qualifier v Lucie Safarova CZE (26)

Aravane Rezai FRA (18) v Magdalena Rybarikova SVK
Beatrice Capra USA v Karolina Sprem CRO
Qualifier v Iveta Benesova CZE
Jarmila Groth AUS v Maria Sharapova RUS (14)

Svetlana Kuznetsova RUS (11) v Kimiko Date Krumm JPN
Regina Kulikova RUS v Anastasija Sevastova LAT
Yvonne Meusburger AUT v Jill Craybas USA
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova CZE v Maria Kirilenko RUS (23)

Yaroslava Shvedova KAZ (30) v Qualifier
Anna Chakvetadze RUS v Urszula Radwanska POL
Dominika Cibulkova SVK v Stefanie Voegele SUI
Kateryna Bondarenko UKR v Na Li CHN (8)

Jelena Jankovic SRB (4) v Simona Halep ROU
Alicia Molik AUS v Qualifier
Chanelle Scheepers RSA v Qualifier
Alize Cornet FRA v Kaia Kanepi EST (31)

Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez ESP (22) v Jamie Hampton USA
Kirsten Flipkens BEL v Patty Schnyder SUI
Romina Oprandi ITA v Julia Goerges GER
Alla Kudryavtseva RUS v Yanina Wickmayer BEL (15)

Agnieszka Radwanska POL (9) v Arantxa Parra Santonja ESP
Shuai Peng CHN vShelby Rogers USA
Bethanie Mattek-Sands USA v Anabel Medina Garrigues ESP
Andrea Petkovic GER v Nadia Petrova RUS (17)

Alexandra Dulgheru ROU (25) v Julie Coin FRA
Sofia Arvidsson SWE v Sorana Cirstea ROU
Coco Vandeweghe USA v Sabine Lisicki GER
Qualifier v Vera Zvonareva RUS (7)

Francesca Schiavone ITA (6) v Ayumi Morita JPN
Qualifier v Sophie Ferguson AUS
Melanie Oudin USA v Qualifier
Vera Dushevina RUS v Alona Bondarenko UKR (29)

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova RUS (20) v Kristina Barrois GER
Qualifier v Qualifier
Gisela Dulko ARG v Angelique Kerber GER
Qualifier v Victoria Azarenka BLR (10)

Shahar Peer ISR (16) v Jelena Kostanic Tosic CRO
Pauline Parmentier FRA v Alberta Brianti ITA
Agnes Szavay HUN v Sandra Zahlavova CZE
Qualifier v Flavia Pennetta ITA (19)

Tsvetana Pironkova BUL (32) v Renata Voracova CZE
Polona Hercog SLO v Qualifier
Qualifier v Ksenia Pervak RUS
Roberta Vinci ITA v Venus Williams USA (3)

Samantha Stosur AUS (5) v Elena Vesnina RUS
Bojana Jovanovski SRB v Anastasia Rodionova AUS
Sara Errani ITA v Tathiana Garbin ITA
Johanna Larsson SWE v Alisa Kleybanova RUS (28)

Daniela Hantuchova SVK (24) v Dinara Safina RUS
Vania King USA v Christina McHale USA
Qualifier v Sybille Bammer AUT
Olga Govortsova BLR v Elena Dementieva RUS (12)

Marion Bartoli FRA (13) v Edina Gallovits ROU
Virginie Razzano FRA v Klara Zakopalova CZE
Ana Ivanovic SRB v Ekaterina Makarova RUS
Timea Bacsinszky SUI v Jie Zheng CHN (21)

Petra Kvitova CZE (27) v Lucie Hradecka CZE
Elena Baltacha GBR v Petra Martic CRO
Qualifier v Aleksandra Wozniak CAN
Greta Arn HUN v Kim Clijsters BEL (2)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Rainy Days and Mondays

by Savannah

The late Karen Carpenter's voice was one of the best pop voices ever. She left us too soon.

Roger Federer, thanks to two retirements was the fresher player on Sunday afternoon in the heat and humidity of the American Midwest. There was only one break of serve and he got it and went on to defeat Mardy Fish. Fish can't complain. He's had a great summer. Now let's see if The Monogram gets his wish and Mardy is on the opposite side of the draw from him in New York. Federer will be the number two seed.
There is no million dollar bonus for doubles teams that win the US Open Series. Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan took home the prize at Mason, Ohio.
Flavia Pennetta and Gisela Dulko were forced indoors by rain in Montreal but they weren't fazed and walked away the winners.
The woman who will be the top seed in New York romped her way to victory in the rain delayed Rogers Cup Montreal final. Her opponent Vera Zvonereva never got going today. All Caroline had to do was keep the ball in play to get the easy victory. Surprisingly, or maybe not, there was absolutely no analysis of her game by the commentator. Instead all we got was straightforward reporting of the score and misses. Of course everyone was holding their breath for a Vera meltdown but she did not live up to the high standard she's set in that area.

The television schedule for the US Open has been released and it's going to be interesting to see who will commentate Caroline's matches and if there will be any analysis beyond "She kept it in play" or "she hit it out." There was a big announcement that if she won Montreal, defended her title in New Haven and went deep in New York that she could be number one. Heaven help us all.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Idle Chit Chat

by Savannah

For you aspiring television stars and tennis fans here's a clip you'll surely enjoy.

What Not To Wear
Men have worn some real doozies over the years. I'm sure many of us remember Dominic Hrbaty's backless gem, but Novak Djokovic has entered the realm of what the fuck was he thinking with his yellow and black kit he's worn during Toronto and Cincinnati.
The sheer awfulness of this outfit is only hinted at above. When you see the back view just make sure your jaw isn't fractured by hitting the top of a table or something.
Djokovic, seen above with Jeremy Chardy of France, totally distracted me with this kit. Of course I have been said to have the attention span of a gnat but I have watched very long tennis matches and paid attention thank you very much. I'm guessing the wings have symbolic meaning in Serbia but I don't know. Maybe it's the yellow and black paired with the white and black cap? In my book it's awful and would be awful in any color and deserving of being trash canned by Stacy London and Clinton Kelly.

Pilot Pen In Trouble

YAHOO is reporting that the tournament taking place in New Haven, Connecticut this week may be on its last legs. Citing the poor economy the Pilot Pen company is not renewing its sponsorship. Tournament Director Ann Worcester will be conducting tours for several companies during the tournament.
...The tournament must let the owners, the United States Tennis Association, know whether it will continue leasing both sanctions or “hand back the keys by the end of September,” Worcester said.
Worcester said her ideal candidate would be an international company based in Connecticut. She said that she is confident someone will step up in the next month, but that she’s also working on a couple of backup plans.

If New Haven can’t get a full commitment, it might settle for a sponsorship that will allow it to keep just a men’s or a woman’s tournament, she said.

It’s also possible that Yale and local corporations could put together a “bridge” sponsorship that would give the tournament another year or two to find a single title sponsor.

Making It Official
The USTA officially announced that Juan Martin del Potro would not be able to defend his title at the US Open which starts on August 30. Del Potro is reported to have just started hitting and is in no shape to compete in a Grand Slam event. This news was totally expected and makes me wonder what the heck was going on when reports of his making the trip to New York were rampant earlier this summer.

Sunshine Supergirl
I apologize to Donovan for paraphrasing the title of his hit song from a few years back. Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark will be the women's top seed at this years US Open now that world number one Serena Williams has withdrawn. Is she just a pusher, someone who has no strategy other than to keep the ball in play? There will be extra focus on her style of play today since she has the potential to play two matches in Montreal due to rain that kept the semi finals from being played yesterday. It's going to be interesting to see how Svetlana Kuznetsova plays today as well. She is a US Open champion and now one of the women being mentioned as capable of winning the event this year. Of course good Sveta is capable of winning any tournament. It's bad Sveta that I'm concerned about.
The winner of their match will face either Victoria Azarenka or Vera Zvonareva in the final that will be played later today.

Why was so much cyberspace ink wasted on what was obviously a fake video of Roger Federer hitting a can off the head of a production assistant? The man flinched after the can was heard rattling to the floor not before as most human beings would do with a tennis ball flying at them. Just proves all the fanboys and girls are not sitting at home obsessing over their favorite doesn't it?

When Brad Gilbert says on national television that he never, ever, expected to see a player wearing a certain color again you have to wonder what the hell was going on in said players camp. I know the player has been raised not to be superstitious but someone has to insert reason when it comes to certain things. I'm just saying.

The Russian women are back in the conversation. There was a lot of talk about the lack of Russian women in the top ten but it seems that a new generation is trying to step into the spotlight. The problem they're facing is fitness. Dinara Safina changed coaches and said her back problems were over but she is still having trouble returning to form. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has played very well of late but she needs to lose a few pounds. The same can be said for Alisa Kleybanova. I still can't watch her matches for fear of her repeating that hair thing but she has the potential to do very well on the tour if she works on her fitness. That's a nice euphemism isn't it?
With Elena Dementieva struggling with her game, Maria Sharapova still struggling mentally, Anna Chakvetadze having never recovered her previous form and Svetlana Kuznetsova still searching for consistency the Russians are going to be the big mystery for the rest of the year. Why didn't I mention Bepa in the above litany? She deserves her own separate mention no?
When people are watching your tennis more for seeing how spectacular your melt down will be this time and not because of how you're playing you've got image problems. Ranked number eleven now Vera is the highest ranked Russian woman.

End Note
I guess all that snarking about whether Serena Williams injury was real or not can be put to rest. There is no way in hell Serena would miss playing the US Open unless she is too injured to play. No one wears that "boot" unless they have to. Yes Serena has been out and about but that is the reason the boot is designed the way it is.
There were hints of course. If you follow her hitting partner Sasha (Big Sascha) on Twitter you know he has not been talking about practices or anything tennis related. It's been all about Serena and her team keeping busy. Serena has also been photographed a lot while she was out and always with the boot on.
Injuries and illnesses of other players, male and female, are reported with the seriousness they deserve but mention that Serena, or her sister Venus Williams, are injured and the haters come out of the wood work. It seems to me that the idea that African Americans don't feel pain or get injured the way others do is still alive and well in these United States.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Breaking News

by Savannah
Serena Williams is out of the US Open. I'm assuming her foot injury has not healed enough for her to play. More details, and official announcement will be posted later.

With Serena's withdrawal Caroline Wozniacki will be the top seed at the US Open. A Grand Slam. WTA you will have a lot of 'splaining to do.

Serena Williams withdraws from 2010 US Open
Friday, August 20, 2010
Top-ranked Serena Williams has officially withdrawn from the 2010 US Open as she continues to recover from a cut to her right foot.

Williams cut her foot on a piece of broken glass in July, which required surgery, and has not competed on the WTA Tour since winning her 13th career Grand Slam title at Wimbledon. She is a three-time US Open champion.

"It is with much frustration and deep sadness that I am having to pull out of the US Open," Williams said in a statement released by her publicist. "My doctors have advised against my playing so that my foot can heal."

She called missing the tournament "one of the most devastating moments of my career."

US Open Tournament Director Jim Curley released the following statement regarding Williams' withdrawal:

"We regret that Serena Williams is unable to play the US Open and wish her a speedy recovery. She will be missed, but the tournament is about the competition and the players on the court. This year's US Open will be a memorable event, as it has been every year."

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bring on the Vuvuzelas

by Savannah
Andy Murray, coachless(if you don't count his mother who was doing a great job imitating a coach), finally showed what he is capable of by winning the ATP Masters 1000/Rogers Cup in Toronto, Ontario, Canada despite the howling of a hostile crowd. They weren't as bad as they were when their fave played Tomas Berdych but the Scottish fans in the audience were no match for the mob determined to "will" their man to victory as the commentators said over and over. Once again Lars Graf was in the chair and if I recall correctly he did mewl out a warning or two to the crowd. Murray kept his personality under wraps and his focus on the match and didn't let the rain delays bother him. Murray, less rusty than the other Europeans who were coming off of long post Wimbledon vacations, played the best tennis this week.
Kim Clijsters managed to pull out a win over a hobbled Maria Sharapova in Cincinnati. From what a frequent contributor here posted there was another mob in Mason, Ohio cheering her on while doing everything to break the spirit of Sharapova. If Maria had not suffered from a foot injury requiring heavy taping she may have done better in the third set. The rain delay didn't help her focus either.
Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan won the doubles crown in Toronto. The top seeds Nenad Zimonjic and Daniel Nestor were defeated in an early round. Nenad Zimonjic, not known as a hot head complained about the scheduling of his teams matches. They played a night match and were first on the next day. I could go into the whole muscle/lactic acid thing but I'm sure you all know about it.
This is my favorite picture from this weekend. Maria Kirilenko and Victoria Azarenka won the doubles at Mason and just looking at this picture I'm thrilled for them. Congratulations ladies!

About the vuvuzela's...

There is a reason I don't go to night matches at the US Open. After this week I may never attend one ever again. It was at a night match that I felt sympathy for Roger Federer who was taunted relentlessly by the J-Block. It was at a night match that I was disgusted by the drunken court level yuppies who shouted obscenities at Rafael Nadal, Venus Williams and Serena Williams. True this wasn't all in the same year but it's disgusting when drunks who know nothing about the sport are the ones within camera range while the real fans are relegated due to ticket prices to the upper reaches of Ashe stadium.

There have been two incidents this summer involving mob think and tennis matches. One was the incident involving Victor Hanescu at Wimbledon and the other one was the match Tomas Berdych played against Roger Federer this past week. In both cases the players who could barely hear themselves think complained to the chair umpires. In both cases the chair umpires ignored them.

Anyone who watched the World Cup knows the controversy that surrounded the use of vuvuzela's by the fans. Wimbledon issued an announcement saying the instruments would be confiscated if brought onto the grounds of the AELTC. If drunken sots are going to affect the outcome of matches why can't vuvuzela's be used by the same fans? I really don't see the difference in some drunk blowing a vuvuzela incessantly and one shouting obscenities and insults at a player trying to serve.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Great Expectations

by Savannah


I refuse to get into the would, coulda, shoulda of last nights men's quarterfinal match between Roger Federer and Tomas Berdych. The match speaks for itself. Sure Berdych has to learn to deal with a hostile crowd - all of the top players do - but has the crowd moved beyond being simply hostile when a player is serving and a "fan" of his opponent screams "Are you nervous Berdych?" What is wrong with an official when a player says the crowd is interfering with his play
By the way that also applies to the commentators who are paid to call a match for those of us not in attendance (although you can get those headphones that allow you to listen to the commentary. I find that totally insane since I go to live tennis to see the match through my own eyes not someone else's but that's me). The ESPN announcers almost never give you commentary that improves your knowledge of the game but last night Plan B was also in full fanboy mode(That's you Robbie) so there was no escaping crappy announcers, It was amazing to hear the change in the tone of the commentary when it looked as if Berdych was going to pull the match out. Forced to talk about Berdych the commentators had to scramble to explain why he'd taken control of the match, especially since their fave was the architect of his own destruction. I won't say he orchestrated his comeback because an increasingly frustrated Berdych lost his concentration and the match.
When it was over the commentators heaved a collective sigh of relief and promptly forgot what they'd just seen. As for Lars Graff I used to respect him as an official. Not so much now.
By the way Novak Djokovic won his quarterfinal last night creating the rare semifinal line up where the top four players are competing for a chance to make the Final. And yes there was a medical time out. Shoulder or something.
Marion Bartoli played some of the worst tennis I've ever seen her play last evening against media darling Maria Sharapova. Once again Cliff Drysdale was calling the match and once again I hope he had something over his lap. Marion seemed to expect Sharapova to self destruct but Sharapova, who has been playing very aggressive tennis didn't until the very end and almost gave a set to the struggling Bartoli. Did Maria tire mentally? Lose her concentration? Who knows? Viewers were left to make their own decisions since the post match interview consisted of Cliffy staring at Maria like a love sick school boy while his booth mate asking the questions threw soft balls Maria's way.

Oh well. I guess the WTA is happy since the other darlings Kim Clijsters and Ana Ivanovic are also in the semifinals. Anastasia Pavlychenkova is the woman crashing the private party.

Tweet of the Day

Miguel Seabra was Tweeting live from the Championship event's players party last night. Someone calling themselves "Exposbabe" asked him if the groupies were all age appropriate for the senior tour or if groupies of all ages were in the mix.
He said that sluts, uh, groupies of all ages were in attendance. Hope that made her happy.

End Note
There was a lot of talk about Venus Williams late withdrawal from the upcoming WTA Rogers Cup in Montreal. I have to say I wasn't that surprised. A few weeks ago Venus was doing a publicity thing for the event and those who attened said Venus arrived late, ate throughout the presser, and left. With all the power Tennis Canada has now I guess people want to forget that Canada is one of the least favorite stops on both the WTA and ATP tours. I think one year every top player in the WTA was injured or withdrew leaving a depleted field. Memories are short when it comes to tennis aren't they?

The WTA can't be happy about all the empty seats in the stadium. I'm going to give them a pass for the day matches since no one in their right mind is going to sit in 100+ degrees Fahrenheit to watch tennis but the attendance at night matches doesn't seem to be much better. I'm anxious to see how many show up for today's matches.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

This and That

by Savannah

Ana Ivanovic has officially withdrawn from Montreal citing the article below as part of the reason. Personally I don't have any problem with the premise of the article but that could be because being female she does nothing for me.
Should Tennis Canada have been so blunt? Maybe not. But is there anything in the article that isn't true? An excerpt.

The vast majority of media and fans seem squarely on the Serbian cutie's side.

Ana Ivanovic, in the qualifying? How disrespectful, given her track record, the fact she won here four years ago -and mostly, how cute she is.

Ivanovic is cute, and really nice, and everyone wants her to get back on track.

But in the particular context of the Rogers Cup in Montreal, she's not necessarily added value. And that made the decision a little easier for tournament director Eugene Lapierre.
But unlike the three U.S. tournaments (San Diego, Stanford, Cincinnati) that did give her wild cards, Lapierre did not consider Ivanovic an "incontournable" -a player you couldn't pass up like, say, if Steffi Graf decided she wanted to play.
Beyond all that, you have to wonder if they're really helping Ivanovic, long term.

When you're struggling with your confidence as much as she is, the best cure is to win tennis matches. Unseeded, the 22-year-old Serb could very easily run into a top player in the first round, lose, and be no further ahead.

"If I were her coach, I'd force her to play qualies," Lapierre said.

Ivanovic seems to be running her career as if she were still on top, or as if all it's going to take is one good win -and she'll be right back there. During a training week last week, she wrote on Facebook that she had her entire family with her.

How can that be anything but pressure, a group of well-meaning people Ivanovic -who is a people-pleaser above all -has bearing down on her at all times as a reminder of what she no longer is?

The entire article is HERE

What gets me is that no one is clamoring for Dinara Safina to be given wild cards and she was ranked number one for more weeks that Ivanovic. Double standard much?
Both women are where they are because of the decline in their level of play. Dinara does have a back problem she says she is free from now but Ana has never to my knowledge cited injury as her problem.

I guess the boys want to be able to continue their visual masturbation and they're going to keep the pressure on. Will the US Open grant her a Wild Card into the Main Draw? I guess we'll know soon enough.

Tennis Channel Commentators

Robbie Koenig, Doug Adler and Jason Goodall are fonts of knowledge when the commentate a match and I mean that in a good way. During Andy Murray's match yesterday the subject of his not having a coach naturally came up. It started calmly enough and the obligatory picture of Judy Murray flashed on screen. Then the comment was passed that Murray is a very head strong individual and that if a person is hired as a coach he needs to be in charge of the players professional life and the player must listen to him. Hmmm Andy. I guess you know best what's good for you huh?

But back to the announcers mentioned above. During last night's match there were times when they knew to keep their mouths shut and let the tennis speak for itself. That doubled the enjoyment of one of the best tiebreaks played in a long time. It ended with a 14-12 score. It was so nice not to have to hear a discussion of Isner/Mahut while it took place. Or the Monogram. I wish the ESPN announcers would learn that sometimes silence is indeed golden

I should mention in passing that Jamie Murray comes across as much more likeable than his brother in his bag check spot on Tennis TV. I'm just saying.

The WTA Follies

The WTA never ceases to amaze. The Premier event in Cincinnati had some dynamite first round and potential second round matches lined up. As @olerafa put it on Twitter here were the big matches. Emphasis is by @olerafa.


Azarenka - Ivanovic first round

Clijsters-Safina potential second round.

Jankovic's section is Rezai and 5 qualifiers

Unless you were on site you didn't see any of the first round matches because the WTA, in its infinite wisdom, made sure the cameras were off so that fans and potential fans of its product were unable to see how play went.
Coverage starts today on TennisTV.com where a paid subscription is required. That means there will be live streams since the cameras will now be turned on.

Meanwhile a shout out has to be given to the men and women who got press credentials or who attended as civilians for keeping the tennis public updated on Cincinnati via Twitter. The tournament's official Tweeter has also done a magnificent job at keeping the public updated and informed during rain delays and reporting play by play. Thanks people!

The Rogers Cup official Tweeter has also done a great job but we the public have been able to see the men play.

End Notes

Is it time to start worrying about Elena Dementieva?

Note to fans of Novak Djokovic: When a commentator asks on air if your fave is playing possum there is no need to get upset. The commentator is not the one who looks ready to be carried off on a stretcher one minute and is running like a gazelle the next.
I was reluctant to follow the Spanish speaking players on Twitter because I don't speak a lick of Spanish that can be repeated in public but it's a great idea to have them comment and then have the comment translated by persons unknown into English. Feliciano Lopez has really been great. So has Fernando Verdasco. They're reaching Andy Roddick and Serena Williams levels in terms of personality and tid bits about what they're up to. Without Feli's tweets how would we know he and David Ferrer visited Niagara Falls? Now if someone would just provide translations of Gustavo Kuerten's Tweets...

It also seems that some former players are upset about Paul Annacone's new gig with Roger Federer. Greg Rusedski was named on Twitter yesterday as being among those who ridicule the choice saying that Annacone was not much more than a water boy for Pete Sampras. That makes him a perfect fit for Federer if you ask me. Towards the end of his tenure with The Monogram Tony Roche(?) was reduced to picking up the balls that had been used in practice by the Monogram and his hitting partner. Not much difference in temperament between him and Murray is there?

A well known online tennis source hinted that Andy Roddick's medical issues may be chronic. I haven't seen this repeated anywhere else and I'm sure something would've been said by Andy's publicists if there was any firm information ready to be released to the public. I won't repeat what they said here because it hasn't been confirmed. And it's not Tennis.com. Hey I did my first blind, well semi blind item! I'm so happy. Cheap thrills.

Has David Nalbandian stopped with the cerveza and gotten himself ready to do battle during the outdoor season? He's looking fit and ready to go. Ask any of his recent opponents.
As someone who suffers in heat and humidity I feel for Dinara. This is how I would look just walking a few feet in Cincinnati.

Andrea Petkovic of Germany has also become a Twitter favorite.

Best comeback of the day was made by Vera Zvonareva. She was down and seemingly out in her match against Maria Kirilenko but after a long rain delay she sucked it up and won.
Nicolas Almagro won the Fernando Gonzalez Award for best racquet destruction in Toronto. Didn't get to see this melt down but from what I hear it was spectacular.
Yanina Wickmayer continues her charm offensive, emphasis on offensive. She spent most of her match yesterday berating a ball kid. Way to go hon.

Monday, August 9, 2010

They're Back

by Savannah

David Nalbandian can count himself among the few who have returned to the Main Tour after hip surgery. Showing the form he usually reserves for the indoor season Nalbandian came out like a house on fire and weathered the inevitable challenge from Marcos Baghdatis to win the singels title at Legg Mason in hot and steamy Washington DC. It was a great week of tennis for David.
Mardy Fish and Mark Knowles won the men's doubles crown in Washington. Fish somewhat redeemed himself in my eyes by staying and playing doubles.
Everyone knows that Svetlana Kuznetsova, when on, is one of the best players in women's tennis. It's the when on and brain is fully engaged part that is important. This week Sveta was all systems go and found herself in the San Diego final against Aggie Radwanska, the modern day Martina Hingis. There was that blip in the second set where Sveta lost focus and found herself on the losing end of a 7-6(7) tiebreak but she came back in third set and won it decisively 6-3. Women's tennis is always more fun with Sveta in the mix.
The fairly new doubles team of Maria Kirilenko and Zheng Jie pose with the trophies they received for winning the doubles crown in San Diego.
Caroline Wozniacki, aka Sunshine (Cliff Drysdale and Pam Shriver were affectionately using her nickname yesterday while broadcasting the San Diego final but I digress) won the inaugural Copenhagen event where she was - gasp - the top seed. She defeated Klara Zakopalova in straight sets. She also debuted her new summer do while proudly holding up the tureen, uh, trophy.
The doubles winners in Copenhagen, Julia Goerges and Anna-Lena Gronefeld posed proudly with their trophies. Goerges has had a pretty good summer so far. It's going to be interesting to see her in the States.

The Week Ahead

The women are in the MidWestern United States playing in Cincinnati while the men's tour is north of the border in Toronto, Canada. I haven't checked to see if the cameras are on so that tennis fans will get to see the early round action. It does the reputation of the American tennis authorities no good to make fans in the States have to scramble to see tournaments where the best players are featured. Then again - oh never mind.

An American Free Zone

1 Rafael Nadal 10,745
2 Novak Djokovic 6,905
3 Roger Federer 6,795
4 Andy Murray 5,305
5 Robin Soderling 4,740
6 Nikolay Davydenko 4,285
7 Tomas Berdych 3,780
8 Juan Martin Del Potro 3,770
9 Fernando Verdasco 3,475
10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 3,455

This is the first time since the modern ranking system went into effect that there is not one American man in the Top Ten. Andy Roddick, who has been American men's tennis is now ranked #11.
11 Roddick, Andy (USA) 3,235

We all knew this day was coming. Andy Roddick should not be blamed for what has happened. He has done all he could to try and get himself into shape mentally and physically to play the modern game. Was it a few years too late? Maybe. Will he be back in the Top Ten? Good runs leading into the US Open can ensure that especially with Tsonga being injured. I'm not going to write one of those posts going into the whys and wherefores of how we got to this place. I've written about it a lot and don't really feel the need to now. Let's just say that we're up that proverbial thick brown creek without a paddle.

1 1 Williams, Serena 26/09/81 USA 8355
2 2 Jankovic, Jelena 28/02/85 SRB 5900
3 3 Wozniacki, Caroline 11/07/90 DEN 5710
4 4 Williams, Venus 17/06/80 USA 5287
5 5 Stosur, Samantha 30/03/84 AUS 4690
6 6 Dementieva, Elena 15/10/81 RUS 4590
7 7 Clijsters, Kim 08/06/83 BEL 4510
8 8 Schiavone, Francesca 23/06/80 ITA 4285
9 10 Radwanska, Agnieszka 06/03/89 POL 4070
10 9 Zvonareva, Vera 07/09/84 RUS 3905

I don't get why the WTA always prints the players birthdays and usually remove them but I left them in now because we need to take a really good look at the women's Top Ten. Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieszka Radwanska are the only babies in the group. Everyone else is "middle aged" when it comes to tennis years. There are Americans, two in fact, in the top ten of women's tennis but of course the establishment spends more time snarking about them than praising them for their accomplishments. We're headed up that same dark brown creek we're mired in on the men's side. We can believe all we want.

Fashion Statement of the Week
A closer look at Caroline Wozniacki's hair. This is a variation on traditional African corn rows where twists are used instead of tightly braiding the hair. The style puts less stress on both the hair and the hair line. Nice summer do for the young woman.

Friday, August 6, 2010

To Everything There Is A Season

by Savannah

13] G Simon (FRA) d [2] A Roddick (USA) 63 63
[3] [WC] F Verdasco (ESP) d [Q] R Sweeting (USA) 64 75
[4] M Cilic (CRO) d [15] M Fish (USA) 64 46 62
X Malisse (BEL) d [5] J Isner (USA) 64 36 76(5)

There will not be any Americans taking the court to play singles in Washington DC later this afternoon. As you can see by the above results Andy Roddick, Ryan Sweeting, Mardy Fish and John Isner all lost to European players. For Roddick this is especially hard since the loss will see him ranked #11, the first time he's been out of the top ten since August of 2006.

Is it time for weeping and gnashing of teeth? It's been that time for American tennis for quite some time. The bigger culprit in my very humble opinion, aside from the fact that we don't have players who can compete against the best Europe has to offer on a regular basis, is the schedule.

In case you didn't know there is a Masters 1000 event being played in Toronto, Ontario, Canada next week. Legg Mason is a Masters 500. All of the big boys, like it or not, will be in Toronto with their eyes on the prize.

I don't know how many of you remember this but when the ATP under Etienne de Villiers was revamping the schedule many players wanted the events in Canada moved to a different part of the year. The Canadians refused. The ATP and WTA backed their stance. So while venerable tournaments like Hamburg were downgraded the Canadian events were made as sacrosanct as the Slams. Meanwhile the US Open series becomes a glorified Challenger event where the best we have to offer is put on display with the hopes someone will catch fire going into the US Open.

Are the players making choices? I doubt it. But look at what they're facing. For the men there is Toronto followed by Cincinnati, also a Masters 1000. For the women after Stanford and San Diego, both Premier events come Cincinnati, Montreal and Pilot Pen, all Premier events.
On the men's side the Europeans don't bother to come over until Toronto. The American men are expected to play the US Open series as well as those back to back Masters 1000 events.

So before we start bemoaning the state of American tennis we should bemoan the schedule that would have the last Slam of the calendar year see the sports top players limping into Flushing Meadows instead of coming in rested and ready to compete at the highest levels.

A few years ago a promising young American girl was served up as cannon fodder on opening night at the US Open. She was hyped as the next best thing and after her loss faded into oblivion. Only tennis junkies noticed her name on Challenger entry lists and figured her to be another victim of the system.
Well that little girl has grown up and Coco Vandeweghe is suddenly winning on the main tour. Her win over Vera Zvonareva in San Diego is huge. Let's hope that she is not "oudinized" and that she is able to set her own pace and terms for her career.

Pictures of the Week
Note to WTA: Feminine does not mean slutty. I'm just sayin'.

Daniela Hantuchova and Sorana Cirstea
Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki
Dominika Cibulkova
Zheng Jie (Actually the best of the bunch)
Jelena Jankovic

All but the pic of JJ were taken in Dubai. JJ's picture appears to be from a Serbian magazine shoot.

Alls I know is that someone needs to be dragged out and shot over this one.
Why Elena? Why?