Sunday, November 28, 2010

WTF 2010 Final - A Resounding Meh

by Savannah

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

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

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

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A WTF Semi For Posterity - And One Not So Much

by Savannah

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

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010

It's Wide Open

by Savannah
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Tennis Australia has issued the following statement:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Week In Review

by Savannah

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

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

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

WTF 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The O2 - Groups and Orders of Play

by Savannah

The draw for the ATP WTF was done today.

Singles Round Robin

Group A

Rafael Nadal
Novak Djokokic
Tomas Berdych
Andy Roddick

Group B

Roger Federer
Robin Soderling
Andy Murray
David Ferrer

Doubles Round Robin

Group A

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

Group B

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

ORDER OF PLAY

Sunday, 21 November 2010

CENTRE COURT Start At 12:15 PM

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

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

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

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


Monday, 22 November 2010

CENTRE COURT Start At 12:15 PM

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

Monday, November 15, 2010

Of Paris Masters and WTF

by Savannah

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

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

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

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

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

The ATP World Team Finals

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Tennis Talk

by Savannah

IMG Mess Update

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

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

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

Harrison said Forstmann "understands and accepts this."


So 2007 is in play no?

WTF Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tennis Talk

by Savannah

IMG Mess Update

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

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

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

Harrison said Forstmann "understands and accepts this."

SOURCE

So 2007 is in play no?

WTF Notes

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

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

The Doubles teams are as follows:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Miscellany
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Jelena Jankovic had what she called "a small eye surgery" this week. Speedy recovery JJ.
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A healthier looking Anna Kournikova poses with Venus Williams at an event.
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Elena Dementieva at a recent event.

The player pictures from Bali are stunning. Here is a sample.
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Daniela Hantuchova
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Kimiko Date-Krumm
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Ana Ivanovic in traditional Balinese attire
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Aravane Rezai







Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tennis Talk

by Savannah

The IMG Mess

This is the latest denial of involvement from Roger Federer.

PARIS -- Roger Federer has denied any involvement in alleged high-stakes gambling by an executive from his management company in a story published by the New York Times.

The tennis star said in a story posted Wednesday that he contacted IMG executive Ted Forstmann after learning of a lawsuit in which Forstmann is accused of betting millions on sporting events, including the 2007 French Open final that Federer lost to Rafael Nadal.


Federer
"I reached out to him and told him I want to know everything about it, how this came about," Federer told the newspaper. "And he's been, you know, nice enough obviously to tell me from his side and has been very open in the press already. So that's OK."

Forstmann does not represent Federer; Tony Godsick of IMG is his agent.

"Tony is my guy, but still, it's a firm that does a lot in sports," Federer said. "So it's just something that for me is important to know what is going on from their side, too."


Forstmann is being sued in Los Angeles County Superior Court by Agate Printing Inc. for fraud, interference with contract and breach of contract. In the complaint, which seeks extensive damages for lost business Forstmann allegedly promised, Agate Printing executive Jim Agate claims to have served as a conduit for Forstmann's gambling.

Forstmann acknowledged betting on Federer and gambling on sports in general, but rejected Agate's claim that he increased bets on Federer after consulting with him.

"I might have called Roger before the match in 2007," Forstmann told the website The Daily Beast. "But Roger is a buddy of mine, and all I would be doing is wishing him luck."


Does anyone but me find the wording of the bolded part interesting to say the least? The issue has always been that the head of the largest publicity agency in sports gambled big time. IMG runs tennis tournaments.

Once again I'm not saying any player is involved in illegal gambling. I just don't understand why the attempt to distance Federer from Forstmann is being made at this time. The article is being retweeted like mad by the establishment tennis press. I just think the wording is odd.

The Weekend's Winners
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David Ferrer won the ATP tournament at Valencia. Ferrer is part owner of the event.
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Andy and Jamie Murray won the doubles in Valencia
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No surprise about who won in Basel this year.
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Bob and Mike Bryan won the doubles crown in Basel.

The Fed Cup and Italy
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For the second year in a row the Italian Fed Cup team has defeated the United States. This time it was in the States on a hard court. The final tally was 3-1 Italy.
Due to a family event I didn't see any tennis this weekend. All I can say is that if Italy had lost to the team fielded by Mary Jo Fernandez heads would've rolled. Literlly.

Monday, November 1, 2010

This and That

by Savannah

Thank goodness for people like FootFault who while saying he/she is not out to change the WTA ranking system still manages to throw more fuel on the fire of the WTA ranking system. Keep In mind that the rankings were once based on points scored per tournament.

Rank – Name – Average Points Per Tournament

1. Serena Williams 893
2. Venus Williams 554
3. Kim Clijsters 553
4. Justine Henin 379
5. Caroline Wozniacki 365
6. Vera Zvonareva 357
7. Sam Stosur 262
8. Francesca Schiavone 224

I'm just saying.

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Team Glamour Girls, Flavia Pennetta and Gisela Dulko, proved they are more than that by winning the Doubles crown in Doha. The Smiling Assassins - Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova, winners of two Grand Slams, did not make the final. The Glamour Girls defeated the team of Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik to win.

Christophe Rochus Slings Mud

Career record 109–186
Career titles 0
Highest ranking No. 38 (May 1, 2006)
Current ranking No. 158 (June 14, 2010)

When you Google Christophe Rochus name you get two results, his name, and another reference to match fixing. Being the person I am I read the match fixing stuff first. It makes for pretty interesting reading. Here's a sample from a 2009 article.

Exclusive: Wimbledon on high alert over suspected match-fixing rings

Up to 12 players feature on official 'watch list' following betting irregularities

By Nick Harris

The Independent has...learnt that...there was also irregular betting on at least one match at the Monte Carlo Masters in April. France's Jean-René Lisnard's first-round win, 6-2, 6-2, over Belgium's Christophe Rochus led to non-payment of bets by some bookies.


From this year there's this

Newport Match Under Investigation for Match Fixing
July 9, 2010

Richard Bloomfield and Christophe Rochus’ first-round match at the Newport event in R.I. this week attracted a great deal of suspicion after $1.5 million was waged on the contest.
Bloomfield won in straight sets, even though he was ranked No. 552 in the world, and Rochus was ranked No. 160. Bloomfield became the 1-8 favorite shortly after capturing the first set.
With match fixing becoming an evident problem in men’s tennis, further inquiry by the ATP and Tennis officials will continue to take place.


So of course as Rochus exits stage left he talks about - doping - and how it's rampant in mens tennis. In the interview he talks about the suspicion around Justine Henin's bizarre exit but of course says nothing libelous. "You've heard the talk," seems to be his proof.

As long as there are sports competitions there will be those who try to cheat - either by doping in the hope of enhancing their performance, or when they think they can't falling prey to those who care only about making money off of sport not about sport itself.

Then there are those who just become bitter that their talent wasn't enough, or that they turned pro at the wrong time. Christophe is the shorter of the two Rochus brothers and maybe he never got over not being a foot taller. I'm no shrink so I don't know. It's interesting that he seems to be dropping hints about who the nosebleed player could be so that fans will obsess about solving that riddle instead of looking at the man who is casting aspersions.

I have no idea if Rochus is guilty of anything. It's just that people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. We are all raised with that maxim. At least we should be.

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Daniele Bracciali and Potito Starace won the doubles crown in St Petersburg.
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Ross Hutchins and Stephen Huss won the doubles title in Montpellier.

In Wien the team of Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic won the doubles title.

The Future Of the WTA

WTA CEO Stacey Allaster delivered her State of the WTA speech at Doha this past week. A few things stood out and are excerpted below. It's a long excerpt but well worth reading.

...On the business perspective, I highlighted the digital international growth, circuit structure, and financial stability would be our priorities. We kicked it off with the renewal of our major partnership with Sony Ericsson, and that gave us all the wind in our sails.

To have Sony Ericsson renew, such a terrific brand, perfect to help us communicate and promote an energetic product. We couldn't be more thrilled to have Sony Ericsson as our lead global partner in 2011 and 2012.

There's no doubt, a new leader at Sony Ericsson, Bert Nordberg, who is incredibly committed, very energized, participating in our global advisory council. He has restaffed and reprioritized our partnership. It will be reenergized, and I think in 2011 you'll see some exciting now marketing programs specifically targeted on the young players who are in that 30 to 50 category, the next group of stars. That's fantastic for us, because we need that energy to help market and promote those future stars.

But obviously there has been a change. They are no longer our title sponsor, but they remain or No. 1 partner. We will unlock our two brands, but our two brands will live together, wherever possible, side by side.
(...)
We decided to go back to exactly who we are: The Women's Tennis Association. In had 1973, Billie Jean King and approximately 50 players were in the Gloucester Hotel in London, and they formed the Women's Tennis Association. We decided first and foremost to be the WTA.

That would be our hero brand, and then we would create a subportfolio of brands: WTA Tour, WTA Championships, WTA news, rankings, scores, WTA Premier event. I think in doing so, we wanted to keep our communication simple, and also create a model for commercialization so we could have revenue growth.
(...)
In 2010, not only did we renew Sony Ericsson, we secured three new sponsors. We had not secured a new sponsor in six years. I think that had everything to do with the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. Because when you have such a dominant brand, it is much harder to attract other brands to want to partner.
(...)
So we kicked it off with a new relationship with Oriflame, a Swedish‑based cosmetics company.
(...)
The WTA clothing line will launch in 6,000 retail outlets in 2011 in China, with our new partnership with Peak. Peak is a Chinese‑based apparel company with global aspirations, performance, and style. They're(sic) focus at first will be on China. They work with NBA China, so it's a great brand to now partner with the WTA.

Our third partnership, I really would like to tell you, but I can't. It is signed, and it will be announced in the next couple of weeks.
(...)
We go to our international growth strategy. Asia‑Pacific is the priority, and specifically China. You know that in 2009 we put one of our four mandatory events in Beijing. There is the incredible Olympic stadium that was built, and now is the home of the China Open. Next year when I'm here, I'm going to be able to show you a new 15,000-seat, retractable roof stadium. Laura Ceccarelli is smiling, a supervisor.

It is absolutely amazing what the Beijing government and the China Open are doing for our sport. At the press conference there in Beijing, Chairman Yabin said to me, Stacey, what took tournaments 20 or 30 years to build, we're going to to build it in four or five years. They are incredibly ambitious. They have made women's tennis a priority sport, and that is just simply fantastic for the WTA.

We have an office in Beijing. We're two and a half years into it. It has been led by David Shoemaker, our president. I don't know where Dave is. He's done an incredible job. He's now back in St. Pete with me, thank goodness, but he's still overseeing this very important strategic growth project for us.

We have taken a play right out of David Stern's playbook from the NBA. We need to excite kids about our sport. We need to get racquets in their hands and show them our sport is fun through tennis festivals throughout the country. That's created an opportunity for our brand, and also assets for our partners, like Peak.

We have a lot education to do. We're going to work with the Chinese Tennis Association to educate the Chinese people on our sport. Even a simple thing as how to score the game. And being on the ground and in the market is a great advantage to us.

And then we have the local heroes. Where our team week in, week out is promoting back to the Chinese fans their stars. And what a year the Chinese players had, making the semifinals in Australia, Li Na being the first Chinese woman to crack the top 10. As David has said, it's not a matter of if there will be a No. 1 female Chinese player in the world, it's just a matter of when.

The circuit structure really has been a beacon of focus for me. You know, in 2009 we launched the new circuit structure. We call it the Roadmap. It was the most extensive set of reforms in the history of the WTA. It was about streamlining our calendar and shortening the season. Together with the players and the management team and our board, we are all thrilled that tonight at about 10:30 the 2010 season will be over and we end with two months off. That is great for the athletes.

Better geographical flow around the Grand Slams with the surface and the climates. Very important for the overall health and well‑being of the athlete, and giving them some breaks in between. Is it working? Absolutely. Compared to where we were in 2008, withdrawals are down 35%, and our top 10 players are committing at 84% to our top events.

We never said the Roadmap would be without injury. There is going to be injury in sport, particularly when you have 40 weeks on a very demanding and grueling calendar.

But if we look at I think the injuries that are on everyone's mind ‑ Serena, Venus, Justine ‑ those injuries are not from overplay. They are not because of the demands on the circuit where we've asked now the top 10 players to play ten, they have each of their own individual reasons for why they're not with us here in Doha.


Miscellany

Tennis players are getting more exposure via fashion oriented photo shoots. Here are examples of players doing the supermodel thing.
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Vera Zvonareva in Russian Harpers Bazaar
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Jelena Jankovic