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.

Doha 2010- The Finalists

by Savannah

Haters to the left.

From Serena Williams on the retirement of Elena Dementieva.

You will be missed!
Elena you will be missed. The matches we competed in were always so intense. You helped make me better both on and off the court...

All the best to you Love, and to all your endeavors.

I think this closes the book on all the chit chat don't you?


It'll be Kim Clijsters against Caroline Wozniacki for the WTA YEC crown.

Should we start calling this the Blonde Ambition Final?

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Fond Farewell

by Savannah

With Elena Dementieva's retirement after her match against Francesca Schiavone at the end of round robin play in Doha it seems as if that clock is ticking louder than ever. No she never won a Grand Slam. No she never got higher than number three in the rankings. Heaven knows she had no serve. And yes she was different. A truly beautiful woman she was never the one hyped by the tennis establishment let alone the media. Yet for twelve years she was a mainstay in her sport and spent years ranked within the top echelon of tennis. I became a fan late in her career but admired her ability to fight, to try and be the best she could be whenever she took the court.

To be honest she did look a little distracted in the second half of the year. Rumor is she had told a select few that this was going to be her last year. It was hinted that she wanted what life has to offer away from the court, away from airports and practice and training. Maybe she'll be seen at NHL games watching her boyfriend. Will their engagement make the news cycle around the world? I doubt it. Elena is not that person.

Some are saying her retirement is the beginning of the end of the Golden Age of women's tennis. Was there such a thing? Let's look at active players who have been at or near the top of the sport in singles and when they turned pro.

Patty Schnyder turned Pro in August 1994
Venus Williams turned Pro October 31, 1994
Serena Williams turned Pro September 1995
Kim Clijsters turned Pro in 1997
Francesca Schiavone turned Pro in 1998
Elena Dementieva turned Pro August 25, 1998
Justine Henin turned Pro January 1, 1999
Daniela Hantuchova turned Pro May 1999
Svetlana Kuznetsova turned Pro 2000
Maria Sharapova turned Pro April 19, 2001
How do you define a "Golden Age"? I think what people mean is that before all the up and comers began to play the same generic game there were players who brought a unique style and personality to the game and to the court. These women are innovative and can think their way out of a paper bag. You very rarely see any of the women above (with the notable exception of Maria Sharapova) resort to on court coaching. They take pride in what makes tennis great - the ability to go mind to mind with the person across the net figuring out their game and developing a way to beat them. Does that mean that a "Golden Age" is about to end?

There's been a lot of talk in the broadcast booth about the recent spate of slamless number one players, women who play almost every week in order to amass the points that will put their name at the top of the heap. There's also been a lot of talk about the toll that takes on the body.
But that's an end of year discussion and not one that needs to be had now.

Elena Dementieva is going to be missed. I'm not sure if she asked that her name be taken off of the rankings list or if she wants it to fall off naturally. 2011 is going to start out strangely without her name on the entry list for the Australian Open.

For those who haven't seen it here is the tape of Elena's farewell speech.
Best wishes and much success with the rest of your life Elena.

Elena Dementieva Has Retired

by Savannah

Elena Dementieva of Russia announced her retirement after her match at Doha today. The news broke on Twitter via Russian journalist Vladas Lasitskas minutes before the end of Elena's match but Lindsay and Corinna both said they'd known since yesterday and all of the players at Doha were in the stands.
Elena's retirement comes as a surprise. More reaction later.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Doha 2010 - Day 3

by Savannah

It's still jarring to hear a tennis commentator refer to the woman ranked as the World #1 as having a "junior game". It's just as jarring to hear another commentator talk about her inability to dominate a match and say that that is something she will have to learn.
Still I'm sure there were massive sighs of relief and the Code Red was cancelled when Caroline Wozniacki won her match against Francesca Schiavonethus avoiding elimination from the semi finals. How would it look for the number one player not to make the semi finals of the year end championships? Is there any amount of spin that could've made that palatable?
As it stands the win assures Wozniacki the year end number one ranking which is all you're hearing about. Somewhere there is a champagne party being hosted.
I didn't think I'd be back in time to see any of the women's matches but I walked in the door in time to see Elena Dementieva defeat Samantha Stosur in three sets. I was glad to see Elena so happy when the match was over. Stosur, by winning the first set, will play in the semi finals this weekend.
Kim Clijsters defeated a spent Victoria Azarenka in three sets to join Vera Zvonareva, Samantha Stosur and Caroline Wozniacki in the semi finals. Semi final play will begin on Saturday. It was obvious that Azarenka had nothing left in the third set.

Oh, and Mr. Mad Professah, I got something right. Weird but don't worry. I'm not predicting anything for Saturday.

The IMG Mess

It's not going away. Greg Couch is still reporting the latest information.

The smear campaign is working and Jim Agate appears to be scum, financially desperate and baselessly suing one of the richest men in the world. After all, Teddy Forstmann, CEO of IMG, is a billionaire and one of the most powerful men in the sports world. Agate, who filed a lawsuit claiming he was the go-between for Forstmann with Costa Rican gambling houses, is not.

IMG has aggressively said that Agate tried this lawsuit once before and it was "thrown out,'' and that Agate later sent a letter to Forstmann apologizing for "falsely attacking'' him. IMG even sent me a copy of that letter.

But documents FanHouse obtained this week from sources close to the situation show Forstmann apparently paid Agate $575,000 in hush money over the past 18 months as part of a legal settlement to make that first case disappear.

And the apology? Term No. 6 in the settlement says this: "Agate will deliver a letter to Forstmann in which Agate apologizes for his conduct directed at Mr. Forstmann ...''

Did Agate's apology show a mentally unstable man, as IMG portrayed, or one cutting a deal with a rich guy who wants his problems to go away?

"Bought and paid for,'' a source said about the apology.

FanHouse called IMG for comment and company officials said they would respond later Thursday.

Sources also played me a scratchy voice mail message of what sounds like Forstmann asking Agate to place a $2,000 bet on Vijay Singh, an IMG client, to win the British Open. Forstmann has said he has bet on sporting events but hasn't acknowledged betting through Agate. Agate and his attorneys declined to comment, but the lawsuit lists a copy of that tape for evidence.

In court documents from the current lawsuit, Agate lists nearly 600 bets he claims to have placed for Forstmann, including more than $150,000 on the 2007 NCAA Basketball Tournament alone.
And this sports gambling scandal is about to start mushrooming, a disaster for tennis -- as Agate claims Forstmann got inside information from his client, Roger Federer – but also for golf, NCAA basketball and possibly other sports, too. In court documents from the current lawsuit, Agate lists nearly 600 bets he claims to have placed for Forstmann, including more than $150,000 on the 2007 NCAA Basketball Tournament alone.

IMG is huge in the sports world, and its CEO has power and access. He compromises the world's most famous athletes, and their sports, by placing bets.

An IMG vice president told FanHouse that Forstmann did, as Agate claimed, bet $40,000 on Federer to beat Rafael Nadal in the 2007 French Open final. IMG seems to say that betting for Federer, instead of against, makes it OK.

Agate's suit also claims that Forstmann bet on Singh in a head-to-head bet over Tiger Woods, another IMG client. IMG denies that.
A sport depends on its credibility, that games are played fairly and that players are playing by the rules. Forstmann is a big player, whether on the court , and isn't playing by the rules. He is putting suspicion in the minds of fans, and once that suspicion is there, it's hard to get past it.

But Nadal is also an IMG client. More importantly, the Tennis Integrity Unit said it is a violation of tennis rules for a tournament owner -- IMG owns and operates several tournaments -- to bet on the game at all.
Federer has said he had nothing to do with Forstmann's bet. It's hard to believe Federer would be involved, as he has taken seriously his responsibility to the game. But Forstmann has now put Federer in a position to have to defend himself.

In fact, Forstmann said he might have called Federer the night before the match. What was said? Did Federer know that Forstmann was planning to bet?

Forstmann has given one interview since Agate filed a lawsuit again. He told the Daily Beast that he did lose $40,000 on that match, but that it's a small sum for someone as rich as he is. He also referred to Agate as a "scumbag lowlife'' and "shakedown artist.'' The VP, Jim Gallagher, called Agate a "whackjob.''

But here's a question: If Agate is scum, then why did Forstmann hang around with him for at least 10 years, traveling him around the world on his private plane, placing him in his Huggy Bear charity tennis tournament in the Hamptons, golfing with him in some of the world's most prestigious courses and putting him together with some of the world's beautiful people?
As for whether the first lawsuit was thrown out or settled, it might have been both. First, it was discharged, and then, apparently, Agate was about to file again. Forstmann's attorneys, in the current suit, have filed a motion saying that the first case was dismissed from court over two years ago and then "subsequently settled pursuant to a settlement agreement between James Agate, the principal of Agate Printing, and Theodore Forstmann.'' The attorneys are calling for that settlement to be sealed.

For the complete article click on Greg's name.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Doha 2010 - Day 2

by Savannah

Day 2 was a much better day tennis wise than Day 1 in Doha. With the temperature at 5p Doha time about 50 degrees Celsius/108 degrees Fahrenheit the day could've featured slow, sluggishly played break fests, something the WTA has become known for. Indeed the first match started out just like that.
Victoria Azarenka, seeded 8th, took the court to play Vera Zvonareva, the number two seed, to begin play. The first set saw break after break after break but also featured actual play. I mean tennis where strategy and skill was on display. It also featured the full WAG-ification of Bepa's coach, Sergey Demekhne. It was reported that during the post match presser photographers were taking tons of pictures of Sergey.

Ahem. Back to the match.

The first set was decided by a tiebreaker that Bepa won 7-6(4). The second set saw a mentally tired Victoria Azarenka trying to hold on but in the end not having enough left after winning Moscow last week. Vera won that set 6-4. Bepa is now the leader of the White Group with a match record of 2-0 and sets won at 4-0.
I don't think there was any doubt as to who would win the second match between Jelena Jankovic and Kim Clijsters. Clijsters hasn't played a match since the US Open and came into Doha the freshest of everyone there. Jelena, while she has cut back on her schedule, had played in Asia before coming to Doha.
Jelena couldn't play as poorly as she did on Day 1 and she didn't but she was never in the match. She tried to make a better showing but in the end she lost 6-2, 6-3. I think Lindsay Davenport, in her usual blase blase style said it best when discussing why Jelena's recent play. She said that in 2008 Jelena played almost constantly and that while she does work out and keep herself fit the body can only take so much and that she is paying the cost for her schedule two years ago. Yes she finished the year at #1 but has never been the same since. Clisters, also in the White Group, is up 1-0 in matches and 2 sets to none lost behind Bepa.

The third match featured WTA #1 Caroline Wozniacki playing Samantha Stosur.The tennis press was breathlessly reporting that if Bepa lost or Wozniacki won Caroline would secure the year end #1 ranking.
doha 2010
The Coronation was delayed by Stosur who did what I don't understand her peers don't do more often and force Wozniacki to play tennis. The end result was Sam winning in straight, routine fashion 6-4, 6-3. She is now 2-0 in terms of matches won and 4-0 in total sets won in the Maroon Group.

The Order of Play for tomorrow at 5p Doha time, 10a Eastern US time is as follows:

Thursday, October 28, 2010
Khalifa Tennis Complex (from 17.00hrs)

1. Samantha Stosur vs. Elena Dementieva
2. Caroline Wozniacki vs. Francesca Schiavone
3. Kim Clijsters vs. Victoria Azarenka

End Note: I'm going to be out all morning tomorrow so I won't post a Day 3 review. I should pick things up again on Friday.

Jim Courier New U.S. Davis Cup Captain

by Savannah

Doug Robson reports the following:

Jim Courier will be named Wednesday to lead the U.S. Davis Cup team in the post-Patrick McEnroe era.
Courier, 40, a former No. 1 and four-time Grand Slam champion known for his competitive fire and dogged fitness, takes over the American captaincy from McEnroe, who announced his resignation last month.

Courier, who served as a Davis Cup coach in the early part of McEnroe's 10-year tenure, will lead the U.S. team for the first time in March against Chile in a first-round away match likely to be contested on clay.

"As a player, Davis Cup was very important to me, and I certainly thought it would be something I would be interested in if I were given the opportunity," Courier said by phone Tuesday. "I think it's a great honor first and foremost. And I think it's a great challenge. And I think it's going to be a lot of fun."

Courier certainly has the playing pedigree.

The two-time French Open and Australian Open champ was a reliable and clutch player for the USA during his 12-year professional career. He was a member of winning teams in 1992 and 1995, and was 5-1 in clinching matches, including a U.S.-best 3-0 in fifth-and-decisive singles matches.

Such was the Florida native's winning presence that U.S. Davis Cup teams went 13-1 when he played, his sole loss coming in his final tie against Australia in 1999.

"Jim will continue to bring class and character to the role of U.S. Davis Cup captain along with an outstanding pedigree in Davis Cup competition," USTA Chairman and President Lucy Garvin said in a statement.

Courier signed a multiyear contract and beat out a host of top American coaches and former players, among them Brad Gilbert, Todd Martin, Michael Chang, Ken Flach, Larry Stefanki and MaliVai Washington, according to those involved the selection process.

Courier, who spoke from his home in Manhattan, said he hopes to build on the camaraderie fostered by McEnroe, whose close-knit teams were known for their loyalty, friendship and togetherness.

"I'd really like to emulate what he's done as far as the team fellowship he built the past decade," he said. "He really brought that team atmosphere to the United States that wasn't there during my era."

He said he would have to learn what "makes each player tick" but would be a quick study from his own playing experience and years around the game since retiring in 2000.

"When it comes to match time, I certainly have walked those steps," Courier said.

A press conference will be held in New York City this afternoon to formally announce the appointment.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Doha 2010 - Day 1

by Savannah

Billie Jean King on the state of her baby the WTA,.

Billie Jean King, who co-founded the Women's Tennis Association and remains among the sport's more forceful advocates, concedes that women's tennis "is not in a great place right now." But King argues that the sport always goes in cycles; this particular down cycle, she said, is due more to freak injuries and bad luck. She also suspects it's exaggerated by media, whom she believes delight in pointing out injury or frailty (real or perceived) among female athletes.

"I just want everybody to be healthy at the same time because we really have depth if we can get them all playing," King said. "We've had a very bad year. But it's not going to be like that forever."


Doha - A Dismal Start

Jelena Jankovic did not have a great second half of the year. Still most people, well me, expected her to suck it up and bring her "A" game to Doha. The opening match between JJ and Vera Zvonareva should have been competitive. Instead JJ dropped the first set 6-3 and disappeared for the second set losing it 6-0. She is still saying she is ill.
Doha 2010

For some reason I didn't expect much from the Caroline Wozniacki/Elena Dementieva match and I got even less. The final score was 6-1, 6-1 Wozniacki and it wasn't even that close. Elena is obviously injured but she did play the entire match.
Doha 2010

There was one match worthy of the name and that was not between two new school WTA'ers. Francesca Schiavone and Samantha Stosur, neither of whom have official WTA sanctioned nick names both came to play.
Doha 2010
I'm sure Franny will be talking to herself after blowing a 4-0 second set lead and losing the set and the match 6-4.
Doha 2010
The win has to be a confidence booster for Stosur who tightened up her game winning six games in a row.

There is a lot of speculation that both Elena Dementieva and Jelena Jankovic will withdraw from the tournament. Li Na and Shahar Peer are the alternates. It was announced today that Li is a confirmed player in Bali, an event she said she didn't want to play. We should know more tomorrow.

Wednesday Order of Play - Doha

Khalifa Tennis Complex (from 17.00hrs - 10a Eastern US Time)

1. Vera Zvonareva vs. Victoria Azarenka
2. Kim Clijsters vs. Jelena Jankovic
3. Caroline Wozniacki vs. Samantha Stosur

Monday, October 25, 2010

How About A Hug?

by Savannah

Jon Wertheim gives an interesting look at the gambling scandal involving Teddy Forstmann, head of IMG. Thanks to "Moose" for bringing this to my attention.

The involvement of IMG's Teddy Forstmann in tennis' latest betting scandal has risked tainting his prized asset: Roger Federer.


Reckless gamble: I was talking to a prominent men's doubles player recently about pressure. Playing for the Wimbledon final, he asserted, was nothing compared to the stress of playing a pro-am match in the Huggy Bear tournament. Come again? The Huggy Bear is the Skull and Bones of tennis events, a private affair held before the U.S. Open on private courts in the Hamptons. No TV, no sponsors, a small handful of fans. But some of the most intense matches of the year.
The Huggy Bear paired Wall Street royalty with tennis pros. And while the event raised tens of millions for charity, it also featured gambling. Heroic gambling. There are stories of six-figure wagers on single points, of hedge fund and LBO titans screaming at the accomplished pros over botched volleys. (How much money are we talking? Consider this: Ray Charles and Faith Hill have allegedly performed as musical guests.) My friend the doubles player claims that a few years ago his partner asked to confer between points. The partner leaned in and then said: "How about making a f$#!@&* first serve before I lose another 100 grand? Think you could do that for me?"

Oh, yeah. The de facto tournament director: Teddy Forstmann. "Huggy Bear" supposedly is a nod to one of Forstmann's brothers, known for his fondness for hugging.

I kept thinking of this story last week. If you know about the Huggy Bear (or, for that matter, read Barbarians at the Gate), Forstmann's admission that he placed a sizable wager on a sporting event is something other than shocking. What is shocking is that he was foolish enough to bet a) on tennis and b) on a player he represents. As the figure who essentially owns IMG -- the powerful marketing giant -- this shows an alarming absence of judgment. IMG doesn't merely represent players but runs tournaments, handles the branding of Wimbledon and packages television rights. The conflicts are disconcerting enough without the head of the company placing bets on specific players.

What's more, betting scandals have rocked in recent years. So much so, that there is a specific anti-corruption, pro-integrity task force in place. So much so, that credentialed personnel at most tournaments have to sign a form like this, promising not to gamble. So much so, that a WTA player was recently fined and suspended, simply for failing to report having been approached by a potential match-fixer. When the head of IMG so openly flouts the rules, it does terrible damage to the credibility of these anti-corruption policies. Every tournament volunteer has to sign a blood oath that he or she won't wager -- but the head of IMG can plunk down $40,000, as Forstmann acknowledged doing?

Maybe most disconcerting is the collateral damage. Forstmann's wager involved Roger Federer and, according to reports, was placed after Forstmann had conferred with Federer and received a status update. Let's be unequivocally clear: At least as the facts now stand, Federer did nothing wrong. He's entitled to tell a friend how he's feeling. There is no indication or suggestion he knew that Forstmann would be wagering on his performance. Still, that Federer's name has even come up in this context is disgraceful. Federer has spent his career as the consummate ambassador for the sport, a champion in every sense of the word, with an unimpeachable record. The one time he gets "TMZ'd," the one time there is a whiff of scandal, it's because of his own management firm? You'd think a businessman smart enough to make billions would know that you don't risk tainting your prized asset like this.

To his credit, Federer has taken questions on this unpleasant episode. And absent more information, we ought to divorce him from Forstmann's colossally bad judgment. But he deserves better. Not bettor.

I would like to add that the threat is not only to a top tennis player but, giving IMG's prominence, the entire sport of tennis.

The Weekend's Winners - and The WTA in the Desert

by Savannah

The WTA wound up it's season with a Premier event in Moscow and an International event in Luxembourg. The only women who got a break were the ones who took one.
Roberta Vinci won the singles title in Luxembourg.
Timea Bacsinszky and Tathiana Garbin were the Luxembourg doubles champions.
Meanwhile in Moscow there was a Victor/Victoria moment.
Victoria Azarenka fought like hell to come back from being down 0-4 in the second set to defeat Maria Kirilenko in straight sets 6-3, 6-4. Kirilenko will have nightmares about that second set.
Meanwhile the Glam Girls team of Flavia Pennetta and Gisela Dulko won the doubles championship.
The ATP staged 250 events in Moscow and Stockholm.
To no one's surprise Roger Federer won easily in Stockholm. It seems Jonas Bjorkman managed to detach himself from Roger's anus.
Sweden Dbles 2010
Eric Butorac and Jean-Julien Rojer won the doubles championship.
In Moscow the team of Dmitry Tursunov and Igor Kunitsyn took the doubles championship.
Viktor Troicki won his first ATP title in Moscow defeating Marcos Baghdatis in three sets.
Congratulations to them all.

Women in the Desert

The WTA Year End Championships begin tomorrow in Doha. The WTA is also introducing it's new logo, featured above with seven of the eight competitor at this event. The group breakdown is as follows:


Caroline Wozniacki
Francesca Schiavone
Samantha Stosur
Elena Dementieva


Vera Zvonareva
Kim Clijsters
Jelena Jankovic
Victoria Azarenka

The White Group is quite competitive while the Maroon Group is pretty, well, WTAish. May the best woman win.

Idle Chit Chat

As everyone in the world knows Maria Sharapova's engagement to Los Angeles Laker Sasha Vujacic was the big news last week. They look very happy in this picture and I'm glad to see that. Of course, being me, I wanted to see the ring.
Looks like he stepped up to the plate and did right by her. I don't think a date has been set. The NBA season is about to start and her season will start in January. Best wishes to both of them.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I Have Nothing To Hide

by Savannah

Tennis superstar Roger Federer is lashing out at allegations that he gave inside information about his matches so the president of his management company could place bets ... saying the whole thing is "100% not true."

TMZ broke the story ... Agate Printing, Inc. filed a lawsuit against IMG and its owner, Ted Forstmann, claiming Federer gave Forstmann information about a match he played in at the 2007 French Open ... and Forstmann later used the information to make a $40,000 wager on Roger.

But... at a press conference during an event in China -- Federer said, "It’s disappointing that someone’s throwing my name around. I would never do such a thing."

Federer continued, "My fans know that, the people who know me ... I have nothing to hide. I’m sorry for those who think there is something to the story. But there’s nothing."


The Weekend's Stars

by Savannah

In what can only be described as a dominant performance Andy Murray brought his "A" game to the singles final of the Shanghai Masters and destroyed Roger Federer 6-3, 6-2. Murray was asking questions that Federer, who reclaimed the number two ranking on his way to the final, couldn't answer reducing Federer to a racquet throwing, cursing, nit picking mess. I mean when Federer called on the chair to make sure the line judges calls were louder you knew things were going badly for him. The win gives Murray his sixth Master's shield.
Jurgen Melzer and Leander Paes won the doubles championship in Shanghai defeating the team of M. Fyrstenberg and M. Matkowski 7-5, 4-6, 10-5.
Meanwhile the ladies produced some interesting and unexpected results.
Ana Ivanovic got pissed off after being penalized for taking too long a potty break in Linz and rode that anger right to the trophy ceremony defeating Patty Schnyder 6-1, 6-2. The win gave Ana her first title since, well, Linz in 2008.
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova and Renata Voracova won the doubles 7-5, 7-6(6) over the team of Peschke and Srebotnik.
The final in Osaka pitted forty year old Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan against thirty three year old Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand. Tamarine won a hard fought battle 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-1.
Chang Kai-chen and Lilia Osterloh won the doubles title in Osaka.
Congratulations to all the winners!


The WTA continues with it's two year ending events. There is Doha, where the women who have won Premier and Premier Mandatory events as well as Slams will play and Bali, where the winners of International events will play. The field for Doha is just about set. Caroline Wozniacki leads the field and is joined by Vera Zvonareva, Kim Clijsters, Francesca Schiavone, Samantha Stosur, Jelena Jankovic and Elena Dementieva.
Li Na and Victoria Azarenka are battling for the last spot. Alternates are still to be determined, while who will play in Bali is still to be determined.

As for the ATP there is only one year ending event, The W.T.F. to be held in London. I know they want you to use the full name, World Team Finals and not the acronym but if that's the case why make it so fun to use just the initials.
Anyway so far there are only four men who have qualified, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Federer Named in Lawsuit Against IMG

by Savannah

The gossip site TMZ has reported the following:


A blockbuster lawsuit was just filed against the company that manages Roger Federer and Tiger Woods, alleging the owner of the company bet millions of dollars on sporting events, used inside information to wager on a Federer match and bet against his own client, Tiger Woods.

IMG -- one of the biggest sports management companies in the world -- is being sued by a printing company, which allegedly served as a gambling go-between and even provided escorts for the owner of IMG, Theodore Forstmann.

According to the suit, filed in L.A. County Superior Court and obtained by TMZ, Agate Printing, Inc. claims it made millions of dollars in bets on Forstmann's behalf, and that Forstmann covered some of his losses on IMG accounts.

The suit claims Forstmann actually bet against some of his own clients -- in particular Tiger Woods. In one case Forstmann allegedly bet against Tiger when he was competing against Vijay Singh, a "so-called close personal friend" of Forstmann and client of IMG at the time.

The suit alleges Forstmann loathed Tiger, often referring to him and other African Americans as "schwartzas" -- and allegedly making other derogatory comments about "blacks, Jewish people, and other minorities." The suit alleges Forstmann also criticized Woods' lifestyle decisions.

And the suit goes on, alleging tennis star Roger Federer gave Forstmann inside information about a tennis match in which Federer competed. The suit claims in one case Forstmann raised his bet from $10,000 to $40,000 after receiving the inside info from Federer. We're told the match in question was the 2006 French Open final. Ironically, Federer lost to Rafael Nadal.

The reason Agate filed suit -- because Forstmann allegedly breached an agreement to give his company printing business. Agate also claims Forstmann left his company holding the bag on tax liabilities for the gambling losses.

Forstmann's rep, Michael Sitrick, tells TMZ, "The allegations in James Agate's complaint are beyond false, they are preposterous." Sitrick also says in an April, 2009 letter, Agate admitted concocting lies and spreading false information about Forstmann.

Sitrick says Agate filed a similar lawsuit against Forstmann in 2008 which was dismissed. And Sitrick says, "Unfortunately, people like Agate look at people like Forstmann as the lottery."

No immediate comment from Federer's rep.

This story broke on Wednesday evening. Nothing has been added to the information above.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday, Monday

by Savannah

"...can't trust that day..."

One of the great songs given to us by the short lived supergroup known as the Mama's and Papa's.

The Beijing tournament ended today since both of it's singles finals matches were rained out on Sunday. Of course I have no idea what time it is with these twelve hour time differences so if I'm wrong be kind.
Novak Djokovic won his second title of the year defeating Spain's David Ferrer in the men's final.
Bob and Mike Bryan continued their strong second half of the year winning the men's doubles crown.
Newly minted WTA #1 Caroline Wozniacki defeated seemingly perennial brides maid Vera Zvonareva in the women's final.
Olga Govortsova and Chuang Chia-Jung played together for the first time and came away with the title in Beijing.
Meanwhile in Japan the men's tournament had an exciting conclusion.
Rafael Nadal won his seventh tournament of the year defeating Frenchman Gael Monfils.
Eric Butorac and Jean-Julian Rojer won the doubles crown in Tokyo.
Congratulations to all the winners.

Despite photographic evidence of a pretty good sized scar there are those who insist that Serena Williams is faking the seriousness of her injury and are using her attempt to try and play Linz as proof of her, what I don't know. Personally I thought all the ballyhoo about her playing in Linz was just so much hype, an attempt to sell tickets by the WTA. I never expected her to play there and the release saying her attempt to come back to soon aggravated the injury which is still not healed inside rings true. In a tennis world where people believe players have mono because they say so it amazes me that a legitimately injured player gets such a hard time from so called "purists" who think she shouldn't be on track to fulfilling the prophecy her father made about her years ago. I guess haters are going to hate and there's nothing to be done about that. I'm hoping that Serena takes the rest of the year off and comes back strong in January.
I wish the WTA would get rid of on court coaching. I've said this before but I'm more convinced of it's damaging effects after watching the women's final from Beijing. There was Vera Zvonareva playing on her own with quiet support from her coach while everytime Little Miss Sunshine got in trouble you saw her father Piotr chomping at the bit like a horse in the gate waiting for the race to start. It seemed as if he was at her chair before she could finish walking off the court. His first visit resulted in Caroline suddenly able to reel off five straight games and win the first set. His second visit wasn't so productive (or so it would seem), since Vera won the second set. During the third set a suddenly revitalized Caroline was able to break at the beginning and coasted. Does Vera need to be more confident when playing a final? Yes she does. She did better here than in New York but more people saw her in New York and came away with a dismal impression of her.
As for Little Miss Sunshine the hard sell is on. It was as if she were on court by herself since all the commentator could talk about was how much tennis she'd played and all the commitments she has and how at a young age she seems to be balancing her career quite well. There were no graphics of her record against top ten players to mar the event this time and the trips by her father were called "pep talks".
It occurred to me that all that coaching, er, sorry, those pep talks, is why she can't win a major. She needs them. Without them well, just remember Justine Henin when Carlos Rodriguez had no answers for her against Marion Bartoli a couple of years ago at Wimbledon and you get the picture. Some are saying she will not play so many tournaments next year but to me she has to. How else will she stay at the top? There's no way in hell she wins a major if all the Big Babes come back healthy next year. They will out think her on court just like they do now.
I was proud of Bepa today. She lost but she didn't call her coach down to assist her one time. She was trying to work things out for herself and not waiting for Big Daddy to come to her rescue.

End Notes
Tennis Channel made sure all of the tennisheads had to rely on live streams to see the Beijing finals live. I guess they couldn't get the rights for the Monday play. Pity because their coverage has been pretty good for the Asian swing. They are showing the early rounds in Shanghai, something American tennis fans usually never get to see. I got to see Fernando Verdasco lose to Thiemo de Bakker and Juan Monaco play Florent Serra as well as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's return to the tour.
Thank goodness both tours will be returning to Europe. The time difference is much more manageable.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Question of Ranking and Rumors

by Savannah

Rumors are swirling about Venus Williams possibly announcing her retirement today. At this time nothing is confirmed. According to a Russian friend of mine there is an article in the Italian newspaper Il Corriere dello Sport that was referenced on a Russian sports website. The article does not appear on the Il Corriere's website. Venus was photographed this week on crutches and finally released a statement saying that she has been ordered to keep weight off of her knee and that therefore she will not be playing anymore in 2010. Does this mean she has had knee surgery? We won't know unless we see post op proof - a scar of some kind - on her knee. Venus has said more than once this year that she is not retiring. If the situation changes I'll update.
Meanwhile Serena Williams, seen on the beach in Miami, was reported early this morning to have been spotted in Linz, Austria. Soon after that the tournament organizers announced that she will indeed begin her come back at their event. People are saying that Serena decided to come back after losing her number one ranking but the official website for Linz posted a players list with the number one seed blank. Never ever seen that before.
I don't think Serena is foolish enough to jeopardize her career by coming back too soon. I'm sure all eyes will be on her play but I don't expect much. Practicing is not playing.

Simply the Best?
As I'm sure everyone and their brother knows by now Caroline Wozniacki will be ranked number one on Monday. Due to the way ranking is determined in the WTA (see below) she is indeed the number one player at this time. In an age where being consistent trumps being the best I don't think Ms Wozniacki will be the last slamless wonder to sit atop the WTA rankings.
An enterprising fan posted the above screen cap showing the stats from today's match. Yes Petra Kvitova had a high UFE count but the new World #1 could only manage to hit three winners. Three.
The American tennis establishment is especially happy about this turn of events since Wozniacki trains at the fabled Adidas center run by Gil Reyes, former fitness coach/trainer for Andre Agassi in Las Vegas. Brad Gilbert, on Twitter, said that tennis is about winning and that is what Wozniacki has been doing. He admits that her record against the top players is poor but as the saying goes you can only play who's in front of you. It helps when you play every tournament known to the Gods and man too I'd say. I believe her win/loss record against the top players is 13/24 admitting I could be off a little either way. But oh yeah, she's consistent. She's made one Grand Slam semi and one final.
Gilbert also said that he's sure that Wozniacki will win a Slam "soon". I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict it'll be the U.S. Open with the Australian coming in second.

It's going to be interesting to see how the press handles Sunshine's ascension to the throne. The same Russian friend cited above feels that Dinara Safina was broken by the constant pressure from the press, and fans, to win a major to justify her ranking. I don't see it that way - if you're ranked number one you have to deal with the close scrutiny the ranking brings. I do hope that Wozniacki gets the same treatment Dinara and Jelena Jankovic got but somehow I don't think she will. Why? She has close ties to the Axis as I call it here (The USTA, The Australian Tennis establisment and the LTA) through the above mentioned Las Vegas facility. Darren Cahill, ESPN announcer and one of the Grand Poobah's of Australian Tennis, is associated with the facility. Stacy Allaster, head of the WTA, is known to be a big fan of Caroline. I think we're going to have consistency rammed down our throats, the same way it was when Dinara was on top of the heap.

Someone posted that the debate about who got the worse of the Federer/Nadal era may now be clear and that it was the WTA. I couldn't agree more.

Meanwhile read the following and see how you feel and why the Tweeter who posted the above may have hit the nail on the head.

The WTA Ranking System - Can It Be Fixed?

The WTA ranking system is once again being called into question. Is this, the solution?


Although we’re probably beyond the point of hoping that quality points and an averaging system will be reintroduced to the rankings, the WTA system could definitely do with a little tweaking and streamlining to better represent player performance and make it easier for fans to follow. A wise step would be to rank the women according to the ATP World Tour system.

Men’s rankings throughout the ages have not always been so well respected. The old “Best 14 system”, which counted the players’ best 14 results from various events in the past 12 months regardless of the level of tournament, allowed Chilean Marcelo Rios to reach No. 1 in March 1998 having never won a major title. In May 1999, Russian Yevgeny Kafelnikov ascended to the top spot after six consecutive first-round losses. But since the ATP Tour debuted its current system in the early 2000s (it has been altered in minor ways since then but remains essentially the same), there have been few arguments. The current Top 4—Nadal, Djokovic, Federer and Murray—are indeed the best four players on the planet in the past year.

Using the ATP system as a guide for ranking female players, two things improve. One is points distribution. Male and female Grand Slam winners each receive 2000 points. But the WTA Tour awards finalists 1400 points, while the ATP Tour gives the equivalent player only 1200. Female semifinalists are awarded 900 points, but male semifinalists receive 720. And down the line it goes. The same applies for Masters events—the points are halved, but the same difference in point ratio and structure exists. Dinara Safina was able to reach No. 1 after reaching two Grand Slam finals in 2009. Under the men’s system she would have had 400 points less in her total, and may not have hit top spot without actually clinching a major title.

The second improvement is the type of tournaments counted in the rankings. To yield a points total under the ATP system, players must include their results from Grand Slams, the year-end Tour Championships, the nine Masters 1000 tournaments (except Monte Carlo) and a small handful of their best results from lesser 500 and 250 events. The significant majority of events being included are majors and Masters—the most prestigious events. Chasing points at smaller events becomes a less effective strategy, and players are rewarded for good performances on the biggest stages.


I ranked the Top 16 female players according to this system. Players ranking points were accumulated over the past 12 months through their results at the four Grand Slams, Tour Championships in Doha and the top nine Premier events—a combination of the “Mandatory” and “Five” events—in Dubai, Indian Wells, Miami, Rome, Madrid, Cincinnati, Canada, Tokyo and Beijing. This equated to the group of nine “Masters” events on the men’s tour. The rankings also included their best five results at other events—the smaller Premier level events were given ATP 500 status, and International events were treated as ATP 250s.

Although there was surprisingly little change to the order of the top 16, there were enough differences to justify railing against the current system:

Serena Williams remained atop the rankings, but increased her lead over Wozniacki to 1500 points (compared with the 1,000 that separates them now). There would be far less chance for Wozniacki to overtake Williams until at least after next year’s Australian Open. And that’s only if Williams doesn’t play. Under the WTA system, the Dane could reach No. 1 by year’s end.

Clijsters moved from No. 5 to No. 3, ahead of both Venus Williams and Zvonareva. She sits just 200 points behind Wozniacki, and unlike the Dane, has no points to defend between now and year’s end. Being ranked No. 2 or 3 paints a more realistic picture of Clijsters’ stellar season.

Francesca Schiavone swapped places with Sam Stosur, ranking No. 7 ahead of the Aussie’s No. 8. Most people would agree that Stosur has had the better year, but this is a great example of how the ATP system rewards winning major titles. And that’s what has separated Schiavone from Stosur in 2010.

Maria Sharapova rose three places to No. 12, her superior performances in several Masters-level events helping her leapfrog several players.

You be the judge.

Joan Rivers, who is still pee your pants funny, has coined a new expression she uses on her weekly "Fashion Police" show on E!. I'm going use it and say to Gael Monfils. Make it stop.