Friday, February 18, 2011

This and That

by Savannah

Won my match against Shahar Peer 6-2 6-4, playing the semis tomorrow and got my number 1 ranking back

It's amusing to listen to commentators go on and on about the computer ranked WTA #1 Caroline Wozniacki's need to cut back on the number of tournaments she plays. I mean do they say this with a straight face? If she were to play a sensible schedule would she be ranked Number One?

Another thing needs to be said. I don't really have anything against Ms Wozniacki personally. How could I since I don't know her personally? I don't like her game and question how the WTA feels about a girl who, when she plays, the commentators spend more time talking about what she needs to improve instead of what she's doing right. I suspect an edict has come down to reverse that though since I heard commentators today talking about the pressure she puts on her opponents and how she is such a great defensive player. No one will say upfront that she is still playing Junior level tennis and is learning on her feet how to play the pro game, something she may never really do if her Tweets reflect her world view. I mean most players would have said I got THE top ranking back not MY top ranking. One of the things I notice about all the younger players is their inflated sense of entitlement. It's amazing when their games are so limited in scope and complexity.

However, as the saying goes "don't hate the playa hate the game". Caroline will go on playing the brutal schedule she does until or unless the ranking system is changed. Will it be? As soon as a certain two sisters retire I'd bet a lot of virtual money that the system will be revisited and revised to look more like the ATP system. I'm just sayin'.
Meanwhile the tennis media continues to foam at the mouth about young Milos Raonic of Canada. The young man is playing in Memphis this week and is into the semi finals. If you like the serve and nothing but the serve young Milos is your man. He does come in and exhibits speed in tracking down shots but his game is built around the serve. I am worried that the people around him may be asking too much of him.

It was reported on Twitter today by Greg Sharko of the ATP that Milos has accepted a Special Entry into Acapulco, something he had previously said he wouldn't do. The young man has played a hell of a lot of tennis from Australia to now and while sitting on the sidelines during a break today he looked exhausted. I can understand them wanting him to get some clay court play in but right now I think what he needs most is rest, especially with Indian Wells and Miami coming up, tournaments which suit his game and where he will be expected to do well.

Svetlana Kuznetsova, a two time Slam winner, is still in contention in Dubai. Is she a headcase? Yes. Can she play extraordinary tennis? Yes. Is anyone talking about her? No. She will face Flavia Pennetta in the semi finals tomorrow while two Slamless #1's, the above mentioned Wozniacki, and Jelena Jankovic, will play each other. Wonder which match will have the better quality of tennis? It's hard to predict these things especially since Bad Sveta can show up at any given moment.

As for the other semi, the one that will grab all the attention, I have no idea.


TennisAce said...

Thank goodness someone else sees Raonic as a big serve and not much else. I watched his match against Verdasco and am still trying to figure out how he won that match. We all know that Verdasco is a head case, but come on. Play to the guy's backhand all day long and you have him beat.

I am actually looking forward to the JJ/Woz match. I really enjoyed the JJ/Stosur match and while neither woman is a fave of mine and there were some WTF moments, we saw some brilliant rallies from both women. Awesome match.

Not a big fan of Pennetta so hopes that Sveta takes her out tomorrow.

Woz is playing the game that is now being pursued by all and sundry. Long gruelling rallies intended to break down your opponent. There seems to be 2 aspects to tennis. Serve and nothing else or the long gruelling types. The courts are being slowed because people were tired of the serve and nothing game. Now we are complaining because someone has decided to take control of that and make it her own. For years this is what Nadal did until he developed an offensive game. Woz will get one in due course as well. Her forehand will always be a liability just as Fed's backhand will always let him down. There is no perfect player out there.

I saw Cronin tweet today that Woz will have held the NO. 1 ranking for more weeks than a whole host of players like Sharapova, Venus, Capriati and I think Clijsters. Just goes to show No. 1 is not everything.

vw said...

Regarding Slamless #1's

In defense of JJ, I will say that at least Jankovic has won a few tier ones. What has sunshine won?

aandalib90 said...

vw: Wozniacki has won many tier I titles as well. It's easy if you just looked it up instead of making yourself look ignorant.


aandalib90 said...

Wow, so a "junior level" player has reached number one in the world? What an asinine comment.

Second: Maybe you didn't realize that English is her second language. So there may not be a difference between 'my' and 'the' for her.

Another thing: since when does Twitter represent one's world views?

lynney62 said...

I'm definitely not a fan of Raonic's game either. He reminds me of Ivo, Isner, and Sampras....I find their games so boring.....I gave up watching tennis thru all the Sampras years....returned to loving my favorite sport when I first saw Rafa play in 2005. Rafa's game has spoiled me now for any player who only has a big serve and not much else. Who knows tho....Raonic is young and maybe will develop his game a lot more as time goes by....I hope so because I'm not ready for another 10 yrs. of boring tennis.

TennisAce said...

lynney there is no hope of tennis going back to the days of Sampras, except during the indoor season. FWIW, while I am not a big fan of the serve and nothing else, I am also not a big fan of the long gruelling rallies, especially on hard courts. I don't mind the rallies, but when I see players on a hard court running for 20-30 rallies, that is not entertainment for me.

In addition, I am tired of reading about the injury tally of players. Almost every season we hear or read about some player getting injured and being out of the game for a time. They need to stop slowing the courts surfaces down, call a halt to the string technology and make all surfaces medium pace.

When the Tours hits IW and Miami, you will see what I am talking about, especially IW. So slow

Fred66 said...

Well, I think we are all going to have to accept that Wozniacki is going to be the no.1 player for a long while. Clijsters is not really interested in the top spot(at least not if she has to get out of her kitchen and actually PLAY to get there or stay there), no one knows if Serena will ever be the player she used to be again, Venus is way over the hill, and well the rest are a bunch of flakes, also-rans, and never-really were's. The only woman driven and ambitious enough to challenge Wozniacki has retired again, unfortunately(yes, I mean Henin). So folks, better get used to a lot of "pushing" at the Top!!!

kraa said...

Different people, different opinions... I would prefer Sampras over Nadal every day of the week. I personally find Rafa's game boring... Still I don't pretend what he is not a great player. Others would do well to show some respect to players whose style they are not so fond off...

Savannah said...

Raonic's coach, Galo Blanco, is from Spain so there is a good chance he will develop more of an all court game and not fall into the hit hard and harder trap that plagues American tennis.

I hate tennis played on extremely fast courts. It's boring to me. Give me the red clay of Europe that forces a player to have to think, react and strategize as well as be physically fit.

I've seen Roddick live before he started making the changes he needs to to stay in the top ten. BORING.

People are dogging Fernando Verdasco for saying he wants to play "real tennis" with young Raonic. For a clay court fanatic like me I understand what he means.

And yes Wozniacki plays the tennis a good junior should play. All of the commentators spend most of their time talking about what she needs to do to up her game and make it more #1 worthy. Until that changes she may have the points but will never get respect for her game.

aandalib90 said...

She doesn't need your or anyone else's respect. Just put on the blinders, keep whining, and she'll keep winning.

TennisAce said...

You see that is the thing I am not really getting on Wozniacki. Yes, she does play a defensive game, but she uses tactics and strategies to defeat her opponents. She may not have the power of her other opponents, and she really needs to put the moonball away, but what is so different about her moonball and say players using a slice to get a rally to neutral?

Personally, I dislike her game style. It does nothing for me. I don't know whether it is her personality, which I find a bit too bland, but while I like the young woman, her game does nothing for me. She is atop the rankings because she has played a full schedule, won tournaments and beat who is in front of her. We cannot blame her for doing what she is doing.

I read Sveta's presser where she describes Woz' game as basic. That is indeed the correct term for it. There is no flair or anything to it. If you compare Woz' game to say Radwanska, you will see the difference. ARad plays with a lot of nuances. Woz' game is just basic. Keep the ball in play until your opponent misses. She has now added power to it and that makes her a little more dangerous. I don't think the women of the Tour have quite figured her out just yet on a consistent basis but when they do, I suspect that we will start seeing a lot more variation in how the women play tennis.

Craig Hickman said...

What I find interesting about the Raonic hype is its sheer force in context. Yes, he possesses two big weapons. Huge, in fact. His is a game I like, but I still find the hype interesting in the context of the "modern game" of defense and running and variety and such. How is it that the "Next Great Thing" has a throwback game in the middle of all these great defensive baseliners at the top of the game? Is it because Robin Soderling has finally found some good health and stormed into the Top 4, knocking off the most passive of the defensive baseliners? Is it because Juan Martin del Potro, before his debilitating wrist injury, knocked off the Great Two back-to-back to win his first Slam?

Andy Roddick benefitted from/was destroyed by the hype of his big game when he burst onto the scene years ago. But he almost always responded in public to criticism of his game as follows: "There are a lot of guys out there with big serves and big forehands who can't win anything. Clearly, if I'm winning big titles, I've got something more, even if no one is able to say what it is."

And then he was told his game was inept because he couldn't get past Federer so he went about changing it to keep up with the "modern game" and all of its defense and defense and defense and running and running and running, and still fell short. And yet, the last big title he won, he won by returning to the big serve, big forehand aggression that took him to the top of the sport in the first place.

I don't like the hype at all, but I see more in Raonic than a big serve. It takes more to win the kinds of matches he's won with only a big serve. It takes something folks don't really seem able to identify.

The more things change, the more they remain the same.

Savannah said...

Keep in mind the hype is coming from the US and Canada so far. As I think Verdasco was trying to say we'll know more about young Mr. Raonic at the end of the European clay season. Right now he's playing on a surface that is very good for his game. Raonic is going to Acapulco so we'll get a hint at how he plays on the dirt. I think what he does at IW and Miami will tell us a lot too.

The US especially sees Raonic's success as a vindication of their tennis philosophy more than anything else in my opinion. It's obvious that Isner and Querrey won't be top ten material and it's my guess that Raonic, who according to US media worships at the throne of Pete Sampras, is a good substitute for an American player.

Time will tell.

Craig Hickman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Craig Hickman said...

I think you're right about the source of the hype and reasons for it, but as far as I know, Soderling didn't worship at Sampras altar (and you know I don't) and we all know he can at least move on clay, though he plays his game no matter the surface. Two Roland Garros finals back-to-back hitting through his opponents is no fluke.

For me, movement on clay is the key, not so much the construction of a point catered to the attrition of the opponent. I don't even believe Rafa has ever played that kind of game on clay. Till recently, it was the surface he felt most comfortable playing relentlessly aggressive tennis.

If Roanic can move on clay, which we'll see soon enough, I think his game will work on the surface just fine. That kick serve of his will be virtually unreturnable.

As for Verdasco, I find his comment hypocritical remembering his insistence that he wasn't the typical Spaniard "dirt baller" and people needed to respect his fluency on hard courts. Not to mention he lost a set and Raonic from 6-2 up in a tiebreak. You simply can't blame that on "faux" tennis.

vw said...

Raonic is a Canadian who is the next best thing to an American. Brits, Australians are also in the good guy tennis axis.

It's pretty funny, just before the AO Gimelstob said this about Brit Murray --- I think Murray can win this. I expect Djokovic to be unable to really be competitive at the Australian due to his win at Davis Cup and no rest. Look for Nadal, Fed and Murray to be 1,2,3, and Soderling 4, with Novak falling to number 5.
It's all about the axis and Novak is a Russian-type nogoodnik.

Savannah said...

Aggression on clay is not quite the same as aggression on a hard court. Hard court aggression requires almost instantaneous reaction while clay court aggression combines stealth, movement and a large dose of patience.

vw what I don't get is why the Axis hates on Djokovic so much now. He was once a real favorite. All of his on court antics and imitations of his peers were applauded while his "acting" ability went unmentioned. It's the "acting" that stops me from being a fan.

Do you think they changed because of his imitation of Roddick?

vw said...

Savannah I think the Djokovic win against Roddick at the US Open and Djok's comments after the win made him very unpopular with the US talking heads for a long time. PMac disliked him and only before this last AO predicted him to win the whole thing. I think he was the only one. JMac tried to restore Djok's reputation a bit at NY when he went down and hit with him. I know that Doug Adler used every opportunity to put him down for a long time using words like "mentally unstable" while commentating. I even heard Pam Shriver ask Cahill on changeover during livestream, who do you think will have the most GS's in their careers, Djok or Murray? Cahill said- Murray, no question about it. Pam said, well, Novak already has one, so there, and Cahill kept quiet. Now it seems like they are not so much hating anymore but lifting up whoever his opponent is. No one picked him to win. It was Nadal, Fed, Murray. I think his win at AO was a huge private FU to all of them and especially to Gimbelslob with his ranking predictions. It'll be interesting to hear their comments in the coming season.