Sunday, January 23, 2011

No Doubt

by Savannah


There is no doubt. None whatsoever. It's cliche to talk about the train wreck you can't turn away from. Last night Francesca Schiavone and Svetlana Kuznetsova played a match that will go down in the history of women's tennis not only for it's length but for the QUALITY of the tennis that was played right up until the end. I mean when is the last time you heard, let alone saw, women playing serve and volley and throwing up slice backhands? Certainly you haven't if all you know of women's tennis is, to steal Stephanie Myles phrase from a Twitter post last night, the "WTA's legion of identical ball-bashing 'bots" or top ranked players who simply push the ball over the net and hope their opponent self destructs. Last night tennis fans were treated to a real tennis match, a match with strategy, use of the entire court and shot making to put a 'bot to shame.

Neither Sveta or Fran are at the top of the WTA's must see list. Both women are veterans. Both could be described as underachievers based on their God given talent. But as another veteran, Venus Williams, showed the other night what they know about tennis and how they approach the game is more than any ephemeral number one will ever know.


Someone had to lose. My daughter went down for the count around the three hour mark. The old bag stayed up until it was over. I hate to critique the match it was such a high quality affair but when you've had six match points and fail to convert one you rarely go on to win a match. Not that it was for lack of trying. There is a point when the brain begins to focus on something, anything, to avoid dealing with the pain it's in. Let's not forget the first two sets lasted 51' and 53' respectively. Sveta's feet were so heavily taped that I wondered if the shoe had been made that would fit over them.
Then there were the massages Fran was receiving. Since everyone Stateside was already sleep deprived can we be forgiven for wondering if ESPN2 usually turned into an adult channel during the early morning hours? But there was no whining, no racquet tossing, none of the shit that comes with a 'bot match. (I told Stephanie last night I was going to use her phrase and will continue to use it during the year when necessary. I may be using it a lot people.) There was Sveta's ongoing side conversation in Spanish with chair ump Enric Molina and Fran did protest a little about his enforcing the rule about not touching the net until the ball bounced twice but that was it for drama.
I hate that Sveta lost. I was happy that Fran won. I was glad that there was no dead fish hand shake at the net, that the two women embraced and that the celebration by the winner was understandably subdued.

A lot of people will say the beneficiary of this is Caroline Wozniacki who will face Fran next. The body needs at least forty eight hours to get rid of all the lactic acid build up in the muscles. I'm sure that the match will be a night match but will that be long enough for Fran to recover? We'll find out soon enough. The big winner in all of this however is the WTA. Sure they would've wanted one of their flaxen haired darlings to have played an historic match but let's be real. The only thing the new jacks know about serve and volley is what they've heard about from the old bags of tennis. They act as if their sense of entitlement is all it takes to be a tennis player. The WTA needed this match to show that there are women who can play tennis. They needed to show that mindless ball bashing or what is politely called "defensive tennis" is not the only way women can play. Last year I couldn't think of one women's match that grabbed me by the throat and wouldn't let go. I'm guessing that at the end of this year this match, Round 4 of the Australian Open, will still be the match everyone will have at the top of their year end list.

Congratulations to both Sveta and Fran for showing that tennis is more than a long blonde braid.

The Best of the Rest

There were other matches last night. After Venus Williams was forced by injury to retire from competition Maria Sharapova found herself facing Andrea Petkovic of Germany. Andrea is best known for her acerbic Twitter posts and the little dance she does after she wins a match. While the instant classic was taking place this match started. Of course people were reporting the scores and saw that Petkovic was ahead in the first set. No biggie. Maria would probably fight her way back and win in the third set. Not.
Instead it was Petkovic dancing her little jig after winning in straight sets over a remarkably subdued Sharapova. I don't mean she wasn't doing her Bansidhe routine and that she didn't put up a fight in the second set but it wasn't to be for her last night as she was defeated 6-2, 6-3.
Meanwhile Li Na defeated Victoria Azarenka (I don't have to say it do I?) 6-3, 6-3 and moved onto the next round. Karma is a bitch ain't it?
Fernando Verdasco played horribly against Tomas Berdych last night. He had his reasons. It turns out he's been fighting with a broken bone in either his foot or in his ankle and was trying to avoid having to have surgery to repair it. After watching him limp off the court last night I don't see how he can avoid it. I hope he's better soon.
This is Peter Lundgren. He is Stanislas Wawrinka's new coach. Since he's started working with Stan it seems he's cut his hair. Stan has kicked his wife and child to the curb. I guess sacrifice is relative huh?
Oh, by the way Stan defeated Andy Roddick. By doing so the last American standing is gone from the tournament. The Bryan twins are still playing doubles but that's it.

Of Kangaroos and the Hype Beast

So why did the Danish press understand that WTA #1 Caroline Wozniacki was joking when she spun her tale of being attacked by a killer 'roo? Maybe because Danish is her native tongue and they knew she was pulling their leg? Meanwhile the non Danish press posted the tale to Twitter as if it were gospel truth and it went viral so fast Ms Wozniacki had to do a second presser to explain that it was all a joke and that she was sorry she didn't yell "Psyche" before leaving the room. It's much ado about nothing actually except that the non Danish press is a little peeved at being the butt of a joke. Kind of like those commercials where lousy cell phone service causes you to be the last to know what's going on.

The thing is Caroline has been wearing that bandage on her right shin for at least a couple of days. You mean to tell me no one in the press corps got around to asking her about it until yesterday (it was last night here. I have no idea what day it is at this point so forgive me)? I was wondering what had happened to her leg but it looked as if she had gashed her leg and I forgot about it until the killer 'roo story surfaced. As Caroline tells it the real story is that she lost her focus on a treadmill and ended up with a deep gash on her leg. No stitches she said. They glued it together. I'm not a doctor and I don't play one in this space. Since I've been forced to have intimate knowledge of stitches and not stitches I wonder what type of glue they used to close a wound that deep? If someone out there does have medical knowledge please post it here.

And press corps the next time a player tells you about killer 'roos or any other marauding marsupials please remember the Monty Python skit about the killer rabbit and do some fact checking? I'm just sayin'.

End Note

I'm going to miss part of the football playoffs tonight. That's tonight east coast of United States tonight. I know I have to get some sleep and that the tennis starts in Melbourne at 7p my time. The second playoff game starts at 6:30p. Tennis or football?
What do you guys think?


lynney62 said...

Savannah, that surgical glue is called Dermabond. It's a little like the Superglue we have for home use. It's not recommended for very deep lacerations, they should be stitched. But for superficial lacerations it's great, and used most frequently in children so they can avoid the pain of a needle for local anesthesia. As an ER nurse, I used it a lot on many patients.

bambam said...

What's the back story between Li and Azaranka?

Savannah said...

Thank you lynney62. Live and learn.

bambam the backstory is between Li and Sharapova. Sharapova's new coach was coaching Li until she found out online that he had ditched her for Pova. He ended up sending her an e-mail confirming his change of employment.

Azarenka is one of the "WTA's legion of 'bot's".

Zafar said...

Great write up. Love it.

The fact that two impossibly talented, humble vets - a two-time slam champion and the current RG titleholder - were shafted on to Hisense in favour of "long blonde braids" is, sadly, no surprise but still hugely irritating.

The fact that all those RL matches turned out to be blowouts whilst this one redefined history is not.

Privileged to have watched it.

oddman said...

'They act as if their sense of entitlement is all it takes to be a tennis player. '

Absolutely love this sentence, Savannah. Clear bell of truth.

I don't watch WTA matches as a rule, but had to check this one out on tape. Fantastic. Oh, btw, thought I heard they gave Fran a day match after that. Unbelievable, no?

Savannah said...

Oddman they did give Fran a day match. A tennishead pointed on that Wozniacki has yet to play a night match. I have no idea why and haven't seen any explanation for it.