Saturday, April 30, 2011

This & That

by Savannah

First tennis Tweet of the morning for me:

just counted 64 people in the stands watching women's final in #estoril..not healthy...

Next time you hear the WTA touting the amazing numbers of people watching their product keep this in mind. Yes the weather is bad and all in Estoril right now but 64 people?

The Donald Young Incident

Donald Young has apologized to the hand that feeds him known to others as the USTA. He singled out the coaches who have worked tirelessly with him in his apology as well as the head of player developement Patrick McEnroe. So where do we go from here?

Nowhere. Donald has to make a decision regarding his parents and what he wants from tennis. It's been reported that Donald Young Sr sent the email that ended up putting his son between a rock and a hard place. I don't know anyone in Young's family so anything I write about them is pure speculation on my part but it seems it's time Donald's parents step out of their son's tennis career. Donald Junior is now twenty one years old. He has been playing very well so far this year and as we all know managed to get a win over Andy Murray as well as win a Challenger at Tallahassee, Florida. Somehow I don't think his parents were the ones who coached him to those victories. I do know that they seem to think this spate of success entitles their son to the same treatment someone ranked in the top five would be afforded.

It's time the Young's realize that they are not Richard Williams and Oracene Price and that for their son to have the success they crave he will need coaching from other people, something he seems to thrive under. Then they will be able to sit in the stands on a Sunday and show stoic resolve for the camera's. Holding Donald's career hostage to his love of family is not good for him, or them.

Bepa Bids Sergei Goodbye

In a move that sent legions of his fans into paroxyms of despair Vera Zvonareva sent Sergei Demekhin packing. Someone named Karen Krotov (below) will now be her full time coach.
The Russian press has been all over this story and there have been reports from Sergei saying that Bepa wanted a situation where he would share coaching duties with someone else. Bepa has been quoted as saying it was Sergei's lapse of judgement regarding Fed Cup preparation that forced her hand. She says that she wanted him to come with her during her Fed Cup training so that he could see Shamil Tarpishev in action. Sergei apparently had other plans and Vera felt that she had no choice but to make a coaching change. For Vera's statement (in Russian) please go HERE. If you use Google's translator you'll see her name translated as "faith" or "The Faith", the meaning of her name in Russian.

If you ask my opinion (no one has but I'm giving it anyway) you don't change a good thing. Bepa has been playing very well since the debacle of the 2010 US Open final. You don't kick someone to the curb who has gotten you ranked in the top five and no one debates your right to be there. Let's hope Vera continues to play top level women's tennis.

Arantxa Explains It All

Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario made a statement this week that seems to have sent apologists for the state of the women's game over the edge.

In an interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais Sanchez Vicario said the following(emphasis mine):

We had eight or 10 players who always had an extreme rivalry," she said. "And to be number one, or winning a Grand Slam or two, that just didn't come. Now everything is much more open. You can be number one without being a great champion. There is a lot more power in the game, but it lacks variety. If you ask people, they know names of the Williams sisters or Clijsters and Henin, but don't ask them to tell you the name of the number one." Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki is the current No. 1.

Sanchez Vicario also said that she enjoyed 1990s tennis than she does today's version. "There was more variety, players with different games, stronger minds, more character,” she said." I played with three generations and they evolved. I had to adapt. It's the same now. If you want to compete in today's game you have to play a much more physical and more power than before.”

For the entire article, in Spanish, please go HERE.

Ironic isn't it that the original article seems to focus more on the fact that today no one knows who the current WTA #1 is outside of tennis professionals and die hard fans not the 1990's thing. That is part of Arantxa's argument not the entire scope of it.

What did she say that isn't true? She does give a backhand complement to the current game at the end there but it's damning with faint praise. You can debate who had the most intense rivalries in the 90's but the bottom line is that the tennis was better then. The women knew how to think on court, how to construct a point and did not have someone barreling out of the stands to tell them what to do the minute their opponent showed signs of figuring out their strategy. Ah, the good old days.

My apologies to the old children's show "Clarissa Explains It All".


Juan Carlos Ferrero has returned to the men's tour.
Fernando Gonzalez has returned as well.

I'm totally pissed off at tennis coverage in the States again. TennisTV is not showing any of the events this week in the United States. I would've let it go except that I got an email from them giving me a price increase. What the hell am I paying for when as a subscriber I don't get to see anything different from what non subscribers get to see? During the spring hard court swing if the cameras were off they were off for TennisTV too. When televised coverage began so did TennisTV coverage. The whole point of paying for a subscription is to see tennis not available anywhere else. This week I've been attached to live streams. They're free.

A rare picture surfaced showing Maria Sharapova with her mother.
Fernando Verdasco and Elena Vesnina visited a restaurant in Estoril for a photo op.
Sisters Venus Williams and Serena Williams appeared at a charity event in Florida. Sigh.

Monday, April 25, 2011

by Savannah

"This is the only week I'm not going to drop points. If I lose in the first round, I'll stay exactly the same, but it's a big mistake to think of defending points. You have to think of earning points. This is a 500 pointer, there are only three in the whole year, and Barcelona is the one that has most history and is of most importance."
Translated from by nou.amic
On the way to his champagne bath Rafael Nadal won the 500th match of his career making him number two to Bjorn Borg as the youngest man to attain this. By winning Barcelona Rafa, who did not play here last year won his sixth title at the historic site.
Julia Goerges win over top ranked Caroline Wozniacki on the fast indoor clay at Stuttgart wasn't that big a surprise if you had the chance to watch Goerges play during the week. She was one of four German women who made it to the quarterfinals and the only one left standing when final's day rolled around. Goerges doesn't have as high a profile as her countrywoman Andrea Petkovic but her solid aggressive play has put her on the list of the hunted for the time being. Wozniacki was the one missing and rushing shots as Goerges never let up on her. Goerges was not only firing away she was accurate and used the court to her advantage exposing the weakness of the Wozniacki forehand and net play. After the match Wozniacki's camp announced that they are pursuing Martina Navratilova to work with Caroline on a consulting basis.
This was one of the weeks where a fan had to choose which women's tournament to follow. TennisTV was featuring Stuttgart but Fes was not available in the States except via live stream. I didn't see any of it. Apparently Dinara Safina fought her way to a quarterfinal win only to come down with the flu and give Alberta Brianti of Italy a walkover into the final. The extra day of rest did Brianti well as she routined Simona Halep to win her first ever WTA main tour title.

Double Winners

There were surprise winners in the doubles at Barcelona. The new team of Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico and Scott Lipsky of the United States defeated Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan 5-7, 6-2, 12-10.
Samantha Stosur and Sabine Lisicki paired to win the doubles crown at Stuttgart.
The Czech team of Andrea Hlavackova and Renata Voracova are the doubles champions at Fes.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Through A Glass Darkly

by Savannah


Found this interview posted on Twitter by @fortydeucetwits where Ana Ivanovic discusses her coaching situation in between the interviewer fawning all over her.

"I know that us girls aren't the easiest to coach," Ivanovic said. "It's a strange situation. A coach is in charge of a lot of things, but on the other hand we're the boss. On the men's tour it's a bit different because I think for a coach it's easier if the guy is the boss. All of a sudden they have a girl who is the boss. It takes a certain ego to be able to accept that. I don't think there are many coaches who are willing to do it. There are a lot of them who try to control a lot.

"You want a coach who is going to push you and be strong and be in your corner when it's tough, but sometimes you have coaches who think they are more important than the players. That's where the conflicts come."

Had she thought of employing a female coach? "There aren't many woman coaches in general and I actually think it's good to have a male coach," Ivanovic said. "Guys and girls have different mentalities. Girls are so stressed about everything. Guys take everything much more lightly. That's great and it's something we have to learn from. I think one woman on a team is enough!"

Gee Ana I don't know. A coach is supposed to point out what you're doing wrong and suggest changes he/she feels you should make in your game to improve your play. If all you want is a "yes man" you don't really want a coach do you?

The Era of the Brat

Mention the names Bernard Tomic or Grigor Dimitrov and what is the first thing that comes to mind about the players? Phenom? Future of tennis? Pain in the ass?

Both young men have been hyped by their respective tennis organizations as the next big thing, the ones who will take over when the old guard rides into the sunset. Let's see what they've accomplished so far. I've lost count of how many times Tomic has been suspended by Tennis Australia. Dimitrov, incensed by the calls of a chair umpire, physically attacked the umpire. When they've managed to find the time to appear on court their performances have been underwhelming to say the least. I'm not sure how Dimitrov relates to the Bulgarian federation but Tomic seems to think he runs Tennis Australia and acts accordingly. Recently he withdrew from an event citing illness or something and showed up on the practice courts the next day as if nothing was wrong. Some want to blame his father for his bad attitude but in my opinion that is a cop out. More on why in a minute.

This week one Donald Young Jr posted a tweet that left most tennisheads slack jawed.

A little background.

The USTA holds a playoff every year to determine which of it's up and comers will get the one wild card the FFT grants for the French Open. It's fair and usually passes without incident. This year was the exception.

Donald Young, who has been on the brink for years now didn't like that he had to play to get into the FO main draw. He lost and decided it wasn't his fault but the fault of the USTA for making him go through the playoff. Seething he tweeted the following:

Fuck USTA!! Their full of shit! They have screwed me for the last time!

Needless to say the tweet went viral. First there was an attempt to delete it but it had been retweeted so much that that didn't work. Then came an apology along the lines of "I don't usually do that but I meant what I said". Keep in mind this is the second tirade in a year by Donald on Twitter.


I'm sure we don't know everything that has transpired between the USTA and the Young family and probably shouldn't. What I do know is that the USTA has paid Young beaucoup bucks and seen little to no return on its investment. When threatened with withdrawal of funding Young all of a sudden found a way to win a few matches including defeating Andy Murray. Maybe that win is why he thinks he should be given direct entry into the French Open main draw without participating in the playoff? I don't know.

The common denominator with these three young men is that they were/are the darlings of their tennis federations player development organizations. They've been told that they're legends and act accordingly. The sun rises and sets on their heads and it's not their fault that the world doesn't recognize that fact.

So what should the USTA do with Mr. Young? Should they suspend him for a certain amount of time like Tennis Australia does with Tomic? It doesn't seem to have worked with Tomic so what can a tennis association do?

A minor league baseball player knows he's in the minor leagues and works his ass off to get to the majors where salaries, good hotels and other perks await. In tennis those in the minor leagues (Juniors to be specific)are treated as if they've already arrived. Look over the rosters of any level of Challenger event and you will see that the draws are littered with juniors who are having trouble transitioning to their respective main tours. This is not only true for young men. Michelle Larcher de Brito, Coco Vandeweghe, and yes, Lauren Davis have not been able to get a toehold in the big league. Victoria Azarenka seems to have learned her lesson and no longer thinks her mere walking on court means divine right applies to her.

The British Lawn Tennis Association threatened it's darlings with a cut off of funds if they didn't start to act as professionals. It doesn't seem to be working too well right now and I haven't heard of anyone being cut off from the LTA dole.

Don't get me wrong. A tennis federation needs to provide financial support to players exhibiting promise. Tennis is an expensive sport and every family isn't wealthy enough to support a child until he or she makes the big time. I think that support should come with caveats and levels of achievement that, if not reached, result in being cut off from the trough. If a player does not make the change from the junior game to the pro game by a certain time cut the cord. If a player doesn't want to practice or work on their mental and physical stamina it shouldn't matter how big a serve he or she has. Like my mother always said doing otherwise is throwing good money after bad.

It's time for tennis associations to make the hard choices that need to be made. It will ensure that those left in their programs will be the ones who want it bad. They may not come from the best neighborhoods or be the offspring of friends from the country club but they will be hungry and willing to do what it takes to win at the pro level. Right now all I see are young people with a sense of entitlement unsupported by their achievements. Until that happens tennis could be turned over to brats with no ability to elevate and advance the sport.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

ITF Decision on Austin Davis Cup Surface

ITF Davis Cup Committee decision regarding RFET (Spanish Tennis Federation) appeal

The ITF’s Davis Cup Committee unanimously agreed that the surface, “Premier Court”, chosen by the United States for their quarterfinal tie against Spain, 8-10 July 2011 in Austin, Texas, complies with Rule 38 (a) of the Davis Cup Regulations for the Competition, “Surface of Courts.”

The Davis Cup Committee determined that the court surface chosen by the Americans is of the type, “Acrylic”, which is used in over 30 tour events and two Grand Slam tournaments. In the Davis Cup Regulations, Rule 38 (a) does not specify or imply a requirement for specific brands.

The Davis Cup Committee also confirmed that the ITF Classification of surfaces does not constitute any form of ITF Approval and is not a mandatory requirement of the court surface selection process for any ITF tournaments including Davis Cup.

The Davis Cup Committee also stated that the court must comply with rule 38 (b), “Court Pace Rating (CPR),” in order to ensure that the pace of the court is neither too fast nor too slow. CPR testing will be carried out by the ITF Science and Technical Department with the tie ball once the match court is laid and available for play.

The Davis Cup Committee is comprised of five members: Chairman Juan Margets of Spain, Armando Cervone of Argentina, Tom Gullikson of the United States, Geoff Pollard of Australia and Charles Trippe of Great Britain. Both Chairman Juan Margets and Tom Gullikson recused themselves from voting in this matter because of their national affiliations.

- ENDS -

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Rise of the Frauleins?

by Savannah

At some point during the TennisTV broadcast of Andrea Petkovic's match against Jelena Jankovic the commentators started talking about the state of German tennis. They were focusing on the women's game and with good reason.
Last weekend the German Fed Cup team wiped the floor with the United States team winning every rubber and shaming the once powerful Unites States team into relegation. One of the underlying assumptions was that the US team with it's reliance on teenagers with little pro tour experience was just not ready for the German fans. Throw in the traditional clay allergy of American players and you had the recipe for a perfect storm. Not much was made of the German women however. The only "star", and she is a star among tennisheads for now, is Andrea Petkovic and she was known more for doing a jig after winning a match than for her play. Well the jig is history and after this week the attention has begun to turn to the women who play tennis as Germans.

The first thing I noticed today was that there was a full house in Stuttgart. That's right. There were fans in the seats cheering and applauding women's tennis. Usually you can fire a bazooka in a stadium featuring women's tennis and not harm a soul. That's not what was going on today.
blog Julia Goerges
The other thing I noticed is that the level of the tennis was very good. There was fight as well as skill being exhibited by the players as they took out some of the big names in women's tennis.
Li Na, Jelena Jankovic, Victoria Azarenka and Marion Bartoli all found themselves losing to women who have been overlooked by publicists for the tour.
blog Kristina Barrois
And that brings me back to what the commentators were saying.
German tournaments have been the ones taking major hits when either tour decides retrenchment is needed. They ended up agreeing that those decisions may have been made too soon. It's not like the German tennis authorities haven't tried to fight it's just hard when you're not part of what I've been calling the Axis and your last great players are both married with children and making lives for themselves that don't revolve totally around tennis.
blog Sabine Lisicki
Do I think a new golden age of tennis is about to bloom? I say we'll know better at the end of the season. As it stands now four German players are into the quarterfinals at Stuttgart. And they're beating players the average tennis fan would say they should be losing too. I don't know when an American tennis fan could say four American women made the quarters of any tournament no matter the level. To paraphrase Marion Bartoli it's much easier being the hunter than the hunted. The guns are now trained on Andrea, Sabine Lisicki, Kristina Barrois and Julia Goerges.

Davis Cup Follow Up

According to some tennis writers the ITF is now saying there aren't 91 surfaces for the USTA to choose from. The organization in charge of both Fed Cup and Davis Cup is now saying that there are four manufacturers from which to choose. I think that the ITF will let the US Davis Cup team use the surface it's chosen.



Ever heard of Nadia Lalami? I think I've seen her name on some ITF player lists but I never saw her play. Since TennisTV is not showing Fes in the States I watched her play Aravane Rezai via live stream. Rezai, who had a terrible start to the year due to personal issues, needed a win and I thought that this was a match Rezai would easily win. I was wrong. Should I start touting Ms Lalami who is from Morocco? I've only seen her play once. What I saw looked good. She's made history as the first Moroccan to make the quarters of a main tour event. The jury is still out of course.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tennis Talk

by Savannah

So Eurosport posts the following article re the Spain vs United States Davis Cup tie that will take place in Austin, Texas this July.

The Spanish tennis federation has appealed to Davis Cup organisers over the surface chosen by the United States for their World Group quarter-final in July.

The surface, known as Indoor Hard Premiere, was not on the list approved by the International Tennis Federation, the sport's world governing body which runs the Davis Cup, the RFET said in a statement on its website.

The company that made the court, which the RFET named as Premier Concepts Inc., was not one of 91 ITF-approved manufacturers, it added.
"It's a court that we are not familiar with because it doesn't meet the criteria," Spain Davis Cup captain Albert Costa said in Barcelona.

"So the problem I have right now is to explain to the players what kind of court they will encounter, because even if we wanted to train on a similar one we could not install it because it is not approved."

The ITF said it had received the RFET's appeal, adding that its Davis Cup committee had been asked to consider whether the Austin surface complied with competition rules.

"The committee is in the process of considering this appeal with a decision expected later this week," the ruling body said. Tim Curry, a spokesman for the United States Tennis Association (USTA), said all questions should be referred to the ITF given that it was their rules at issue.

The article goes on to say that the surface was used this year at the SAP Open in San Jose and notes that Fernando Verdasco lost the match he played on it to Milos Raonic.

There is no disputing that fact, or the fact that the surface has been used before in Davis Cup and Fed Cup play.

The thing is the ITF has a list of 91 surfaces that are eligible to be used for DC competition. This surface is not on the list.

The rule book also states that to be eligible a surface has to have been used a total of three times on the ATP tour in the prior year. The prior year is 2010. Not 2007. Not 2009. Not 2011. 2010. At least in my universe that's what last year was.

We all know the surface a Davis Cup tie is played on is the opening salvo of the competition. Does Spain slow it's clay down if it has to play the United States? Do the South Americans? I'd wager that any country playing the United States in Davis Cup will find a clay court to play us on, the slower the better.

When the United States played Spain in North Carolina the surface was so fast it was compared to an ice skating rink. I'm sure they still make that stuff so why propose a surface that is blatantly illegal? After all there are 91 (yes I'm repeating myself) surfaces to choose from.

The arguments in favor of the choice have ranged from "Jim Courier is an honest guy" to "it's been used before". None address the rule book. The USTA is saying "talk to the ITF".

What's my beef? What's fair is fair. Either throw out the list of accepted surfaces and let the United States play on glass or deny this surface based on the rules governing Davis Cup play. The Europeans already hate the USTA so if an exemption is granted this will only add more fuel to the fire.

The decision will come down on Thursday.

An Expression of Gratitude and Friendship

I was in a really bad situation and I was very happy they supported me. That was really important for my head. If Nadal and Santoro have a bad problem in their lives, they know that they can come to me and I will do my best to help them. They were calling me, sending me messages, telling me that they believed in me 100 per cent. In difficult times, you find out who your good friends are.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Sweet Taste of Victory

by Savannah
One of the commentators said that spring arrives in Monaco when Prince Albert hands Rafael Nadal the winners trophy at Monte Carlo.
Well spring arrived. It wasn't great clay court tennis - all week everyone was playing some version of hard court - but in the final Rafa started sliding more and you could almost see his mind accepting the fact that he was back on clay.

David Ferrer, who won his last meeting with Rafa in Australia, gave it all he was worth but in the end Rafa hoisted the winners trophy for the seventh straight time.
The men's tour leaves Monte Carlo and heads to the capital city of Catalonia, Barcelona as it heads toward the jewel in the crown, Roland Garros. I'm looking forward to seeing real clay court tennis going forward since by now all of the tour, as Rafa put it, will have it's clay legs.
By the way American's did win on the red dirt. Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan won the doubles. I wonder why it's often overlooked that the Bryan twins are all court players. Maybe they have something to teach those who hate playing in the dirt.

The Agony of Defeat
While the men were playing in Monte Carlo the women's tour paused to play Fed Cup. If you want to know how the United States did the above picture of Venus Williams, who traveled with the team, tells you how it went. We lost to Germany 5-0 and for the first time in Fed Cup history are relegated. We had company. France, Australia and Canada joined us at Pity Party Central. Interesting isn't it that all of the Axis members are now out of the World Group. Great Britain of course hasn't been in the World Group for quite some time.
Meanwhile the Savior of Serbia came off the bench to win a singles match her country desperately needed. With the pressure on Ana Ivanovic, who had been tapped along with up and comer Bojana Jovanovski to play singles retired during her match against the Slovak Republic's Dominika Cibulkova putting Serbia in a 1-2 hole Jelena Jankovic was called on to play the must win singles match and came through with flying colors. She then turned around and played doubles with Aleksandra Krunic giving Serbia the win it needed to win the tie.
I know there is supposed to be drama between Ana and JJ but even I was surprised that Bojana was penciled in to play two singles matches. I know that Bojana was the hero of Serbia's earlier tie but I questioned the wisdom of not relying on a top ten player. I guess Serbia's captain came to his senses and played JJ.
Meanwhile it will be the Czech Republic vs Russia in the Fed Cup final. Russia will host.
Vera Zvonareva led Russia to victory over an Italian squad missing it's star players. Both Francesca Schiavone and Flavia Pennetta stayed home but Russia's victory is still impressive. In her post match interview Vera said
"I haven't played for my country for two years and I really wanted to give this match to my team."

Congratulations to all the winners!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Welcome to the Club...

by Savannah

There were some first timers among the winners on Sunday.
Pablo Andujar of Spain won his first title playing on the African continent. He defeated veteran Potito Starace in straight sets 6-1, 6-2. Starace is now 0-4 in finals.
Bahamian born United States resident Ryan Sweeting overcame nerves and outplayed Nishikori Kei to win the United States Mens Clay Court Championship in Houston Texas. At 23 Sweeting may just now be living down his past, a past that includes a DUI and possession of Adderal without a prescription. This isn't to say the United States has a legitimate clay court player. Sweeting has the impatience of a born and bred hard courter and got in trouble during the match trying to use hard court tactics to end points early.
In the end it was Nishikori who looked as if he were new to finals though and Sweeting was the one lifting the trophy.
Staying stateside Caroline Wozniacki won at Charleston for the first time. She defeated Elena Vesnina to win the Family Circle Cup. In a bizarre bit of scheduling FCC officials had to rush Caroline through her presser - she only answered two questions - in order to catch a flight that would take her to Monte Carlo where she'll play an exhibition with Francesca Schiavone later today. Some press hounds were a tad upset.
The doubles team of Sania Mirza and Elena Vesnina won the Family Circle Cup doubles crown. Vesnina played two matches today.
Heading back to Europe Victoria Azarenka defeated 18 year old qualifier Irina-Camelia Begu at Marbella to win her second championship in a row.
The doubles crown at Marbella was won by the team of Nuria Llagostera Vives and Arantxa Parra Santonja
Lastly the doubles crown in Houston was won by Americans Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan. It's fitting to end with them since they will be the only Americans playing Monte Carlo.

Americans will go wherever and whenever the better players aren't regardless of surface

I read this quote on a fanboard and it gave me pause. The fan was talking about the lack of American singles players in Monte Carlo following up the fact that for the third year in a row American men, except for the Bryan twins, are sitting at home for the start of the European clay season. I've also noted lots of fans citing the fact that the Europeans come to the States and play the spring hard court swing but Americans don't play on European clay unless they have to.

It shouldn't be forgotten that the American tennis establishment tried very hard to get rid of Monte Carlo altogether and that the Europeans fought back and saved it. The compromise was that it would keep its status as a Masters 1000 event but no longer be mandatory. That gives Americans the cover they want and need.
I posted this picture back in 2008 showing Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer walking together into Monte Carlo, an image that startled the press at the time. Both men were campaigning for the ATP to leave Monte Carlo alone. Up until this picture was taken it had seemed that Rafael and Nikolay Davydenko were the only ones who were up front about how they felt about the tournament. Click the above link to read what was going on back then.

And just in case you think that the Americans are getting over their clay phobia all you had to do was listen to the commentary during the Houston final. Every chance he got Jimmy Arias was praising "American style tennis" against the more patient style required to play on clay. This went on throughout the match.

It's sad that those who see the need for the United States to get off it's high horse about clay court play have to fight such a hard battle.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Breaking Tennis News

by Savannah


Belgian press is reporting that Kim Clijsters is doubtful for Roland Garros. It seems that Clijsters was dancing at her nephews wedding and severely sprained her ankle. It's reported that she has a hematoma on the ankle, her right ankle, and that there are torn ligaments. She is expected to be out 4-6 weeks.

So Clijsters, who doesn't want to play Roland Garros anyway, is injured and will not be able to prepare for the French Open. Does she really want to play on clay anyway? Is Wimbledon something she wants to do? Let's be real here. Clijsters plays almost nothing coming into the US Open and when you look at the ankle injury and combine it with the reported shoulder injury she may not step on a court until the summer hardcourt season is underway. If you remember this is how she was so rested coming into the US Open when she returned a couple of years ago and won.

Will her injury be questioned like Serena Williams much more serious injury has been? Don't count on it. St Kim is above reproach. She's a mother after all. And we all know all of Kim's motives are above board. Right? I'm just saying.

The original article, in French, can be found HERE
There is also more information on her website

Friday, April 8, 2011

Andy Murray Speaks...and other tennis news

by Savannah

After I posted yesterday's column I found this interview Andy Murray gave to the BBC. It does reveal more about what's going on in his head and is the kind of thing I said that Murray needs to do.

"After Australia, the night I lost in the final, I had a really long conversation with my mum and with Jez [Green, physical trainer] about what I felt I needed to work on," reveals Murray.
"Last year, there was no chance I was going to speak to anyone, whereas this year I felt like I was playing well, I was really disappointed with the final, but I knew the little things I wanted to improve on.

"Then it wasn't until maybe four or five weeks afterwards that I actually spent any time on court working on any of these things and, all of a sudden, it becomes a bit of a rush. You have like a week or 10 days to get ready for Indian Wells.

"It seemed like I was trying to do so many things - work on coming to the net, play a bit closer to the baseline, use the forehand down the line a bit more, step in on my backhand a bit more. All of these things I was thinking, going into the match, and you really need to go into a match with a clear mindset but it didn't really feel that way.
"It probably showed in my body language and my mental state. In Miami, I was getting more angry. In Indian Wells, I was just kind of lost. I wasn't really doing a whole lot on court. I need to get back to the basics of my game and I think I'll start playing well again soon."

Guidance is required and it will come in the form of a new coach, following the parting of the ways with Alex Corretja in March, but finding the right person could prove the biggest decision of his career to date.
In the meantime, Murray will call on coaches such as Darren Cahill and Sven Groeneveld, who are part of his sponsor Adidas's player development programme, until a permanent appointment is made.

Illustrious names like Ivan Lendl and Jimmy Connors have thrown their hat into the ring in recent days but the Scot is not the type to be star-struck.
"I'm looking for someone who can come to the big events with me, who isn't restricted in terms of the weeks they can do," explains Murray. "If they can't come to the French Open, for example, then for me that's quite a big negative. I'd like them to be around at the big events.

"For a lot of ex-players, it's easy to say, 'Yeah, I'd like to coach him,' but it's a big commitment and you can't just dip in and out of big events and spend two weeks with the player and not see them for six weeks. To me, communicating over the phone in sport doesn't really work. You need to spend quality time on the practice courts."
"I've heard people say that I don't listen," he states. "I spoke to Darren Cahill a lot in Miami and I was saying to him that I think questioning stuff is the way to improve things.
"He was saying that as a coach you can't have a good relationship with a player if you aren't able to ask the thorough questions, and he doesn't bother to ask you questions."
Having long since proved he can beat the very best - but with a Grand Slam title still eluding him - Murray should be the biggest prize out there for any top coach, but the job spec suggests the next appointment will need a thick skin.

"It shouldn't be a problem to disagree, it happens all the time," he says. "I'm sure many people have disagreed with me and I've disagreed with people. I think it's good to talk about it calmly. You should be able to discuss it and it's important the person has the confidence to explain to you why.

"I want to have someone I can have that good communication with so that, when you ask 'why', you get an explanation and can be shown - whether it's on video or on the court - why you might be doing something and how it's going to work. I think it's important you can see things visually. It can help a lot and it's something I haven't really done over the last couple of years.
"Once I started watching 10, 15, 20 minutes of video of myself over the last month, there are things I could pick up within minutes and think, 'I can't believe I was doing that.'"

"When it's necessary," he stresses. "It's important to have someone you have respect for and someone that doesn't take any crap. If you're getting away with mediocre sessions, it doesn't have to be screaming at you but it can be taking you to one side and explaining to you things aren't good.

"But if it takes screaming to get the best out of a player, you have to accept that."
And when the work stops, Murray will not expect his new coach to be thinking up pranks or keeping him entertained over dinner.

"The coach-player relationship is important off the court," he says. "I'm not saying they have to be comedians. You just need to get on well with them, but they don't have to be incredibly funny.
"That's definitely not one of the things I'm too worried about. It's about getting the best out of them when they're on the court."

If Fernando Verdasco's intention was to make it seem as if he were being kicked to the curb by the organizers of the Barcelona tournament I guess he succeeded. The tournament organizers have placed the following statement on the tournament's website.
The Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell organization explains that the name Fernando Verdasco does not appear on the players list of the tournament. The list was published a couple of weeks ago due to ATP regulations and defending champion Verdasco did not sign in. He still has the chance to participate in Barcelona if he accepts a wild card.

The tournament organization will reserve one invitation for the Spaniard and hope that he will defend his title in the Catalan capital. “We would be grateful if Fernando Verdasco came to play in Barcelona”, explained Real Club Tenis Barcelona president Albert Agustí, who has been surprised about the recent statement of the World No. 8.

Tournament director Albert Costa shares the same opinion and considers that all players who will participate at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell have been treated equally: “It’s a pity that Fernando is considering not to compete in Barcelona, but the only thing we can add is that we have treated the defending champion correctly at all times”.

LawnTennis is reporting that Venus Williams will attempt to rejoin the tour May 14. She is entered to play in Brussels.

A few years ago Marion Bartoli was ridiculed for saying it was difficult for her to go from being the hunter to the hunted. When I watch Samantha Stosur's match play of late Marion's words come to mind. I've said that her play has been underwhelming but she could not make a clear tennis decision during her match against Elena Vesnina. Stosur raced to a break lead and then disappeared from the match. She is ranked in the WTA top five. It's true that green "clay" is not European or South American red clay but there were high expectations for her in Charleston.

I couldn't find a stream but Sania Mirza is into the quarterfinals at Charleston defeating Sabine Lisicki in straight sets.

And don't get me started about Charleston's lack of television coverage. At least the cameras were on today so there were live streams available. I can watch the ATP Challenger at Monza from day one but I can't see a tournament a mere 6 hour drive away in the States.

There's been a lot of grumbling about Melanie Oudin's selection to the US Fed Cup team. With her recent play a good case can be made for Christina McHale's inclusion on the team.
Christina defeated veteran Daniela Hantuchova in Charleston 7-6(3), 6-1. As they say, film at eleven. That's a lot of pressure Maria Jose.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

This and That

by Savannah


Andy Murray features large in the tennis press these days. Talk has gone from Ivan Lendl being poised to join team Murray to articles about why Murray doesn't need a coach at all.

Simon Reed thinks Murray is too intelligent for a mere mortal to try and coach him.
Andy Murray is one of the most intelligent sportsmen I've ever come across, and he is not far off being a great player. He does not need a coach.

There has been a lot of talk recently about who Murray should have in his corner, but when you are as switched on as he is, it is pretty academic.

The key thing for Murray is to be enjoying his tennis, relishing his work off the court and generally flourishing with the people around him.

There is no need for someone else to be telling him what to do tactically, because he is incredibly astute and he thinks on his feet.

Murray is not one of the many players on Tour who need a coach to be spoon feeding them ahead of each match or motivating them to get on the practice court each day.

The Brit is a very intelligent man, and he does most of his thinking for himself.

Murray works things out very well, and he analyses his opponents and knows when to attack, and when to defend on the most part.

However, he does seem to have a proficiency to endure rather long droughts and that makes people describe him as rudderless without a coach.

As if that isn't, well, interesting, there is this article from ESPN UK written by their staff, that says almost the the same thing.
Andy Murray has changed his approach to his recruitment for a new coach and is no longer on the hunt for a high-profile name.

The British No. 1 has been without a full-time trainer since last summer, and is on the lookout for a new coach after splitting with part-time consultant Alex Corretja last week.

Murray revealed on Wednesday that he will work with Andre Agassi's former trainer Darren Cahill and Sven Groeneveld, who has worked with Ana Ivanovic and Greg Rusedski, in his build-up to the French Open.

He had been linked with former world No. 1 Ivan Lendl, but after spending time at heavyweight David Haye's gym in Florida, Murray has now hinted that he feels a big-name coach may not be the best solution.

Murray feels the dynamic between him and a coach both on and off-court is more important than coaching credentials.
What do I think? I think his mother Judy Murray looms large in the shadows. I think that Mrs. Murray wants desperately for her son to stay part of the conversation but knows that while male coaches dominate women's tennis Jimmy Connors late mother, Gloria, is the only woman who had coaching cred in the ATP.

I also wonder what whammy the Adidas team works on players. And how soon is it before someone calls Darren Cahill on his growing conflict of interest. He's being paid by ESPN to be a commentator and at the same time he's involved in coaching several players on the main tour. Every other pro sport that I'm aware of makes sure their on air personalities are not involved in their sport anymore. From retired coaches to retired jocks on air talent is no longer active in any way with their former sport. Except for tennis. Brad Gilbert works with Kei Nishikori. Cahill works with Ana Ivanovic, Fernando Verdasco and now Andy Murray. I've talked so much about Mary Joe Fernandez I'm sick of writing about it. Patrick McEnroe is head of player development for the USTA. Keep that in mind when you're watching some up and coming American instead of the match between two top ten players. Add to this incestuous brew the seeming inability of the tennis "press" to write critically and you've got a steaming hot mess.

What should Murray do? In the end that is for Murray to decide. If he feels he's strong enough to go without a formal coach so be it. He should come out and say that so that his fans know where he's coming from and not rely on friendly press to explain his thought processes. It's situations like this that make the lack of a true tennis press disheartening to put it mildly.

Speaking of Fernando Verdasco I'm still not sure why his beef with the Barcelona officials had to be aired in El Pais. Sure the paper seems to have an on the ball sport staff and tennis is big in Spain but should Fernando have aired his dirty laundry in the press? I guess his tantrum shows that we as fans have an image of a player, one that is cultivated by the sport and an individual player's publicity arm but that the real man or woman is not put on public display. So far Estoril tournament officials have not said that Verdasco will be playing there. I also wonder if it's wise for Verdasco to hit out at Albert Costa, Spain's Davis Cup captain. Costa has said that Fernando is still welcome to participate at Barcelona.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
The European clay court season kicks off next week with the Masters 1000 event at Monte Carlo. Every year I wax poetic about the beauties of this tennis club and I'm doing the same thing this year. You could not ask for a more beautiful setting. It's not glitzy and human being's latest big thing. It's designed to fit in with the natural location and does so beautifully.

It's not only Monte Carlo's beauty that makes me swoon. It's the fact that real tennis, tennis that demands a player be at peak physical and mental condition, will take center stage. For the next few weeks players will have dirty socks and sneakers, red dirt in their nostrils and on their clothing, and put patience, shot creation and thinking on court center stage. Monster serves will not rule and if you don't come to play don't come.

The pendulum will swing back to concrete courts soon enough. For now I get to enjoy the sights and sounds of clay court tennis, the best tennis in the world.

End Note

I said above that the real men and women of tennis are hidden behind layers of security and image making. There are times that the players are shown as real people that don't involve temper tantrums. I'll end with this video of Dominika Cibulkova making her red carpet debut as interviewer. Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Idle Chit Chat

by Savannah

Nadia Petrova cops a plea when it comes to her questionable on court attire. Thanks to this blogpost you can almost hear her frustration.

Q. Recently you’ve made some pretty bold fash­ion choices on court. How much input…

A. Oh my god. That has noth­ing to do with me. Those are not my choices.

Q. That’s what I was won­der­ing, how much input do you have in your outfits?

A. This is what Ellesse sends me.

Q. So you don’t say, ‘this is what I want,’ you don’t meet with them? They just send them to you?

A. I don’t have a say. Um, I did actu­ally pro­vide them with some of my sketches because I know what really flat­ters my physique, my figure.

Q. Do you think they’ll take them into account?

A. Well they haven’t done it yet…and actu­ally this is my last year with them. So I don’t see why they would com­pro­mise. They do what they think are sell­ing in Japan and they are just send­ing it to me.


From the "I'm picking up my toys and going home" files comes this from Fernando Verdasco.
"Rafa comes back to play the Godó, and there was a person; I don't know if it's good or not to say his name, who did not seem to have much interest in me playing"
He's talking about Barcelona and why he has opted to play Estoril instead. Barca is a 500 event. Estoril is a 250 event.
In it's defense the tournament has said it's holding a Wild Card for Verdasco who is the defending champion. Rumor is the player(s) Verdasco feels the tournament is catering to are Robin Soderling and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The entire article in El Pais is HERE

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sunday's Winners

by Savannah

Victoria Azarenka won the women's championship and holds her second Sony Ericsson Open trophy.

Novak Djokovic continued his undefeated 2011 by winning in Miami.

Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi are the men's doubles champions.

The team of Daniela Hantuchova and Agnieszka Radwanska won the women's doubles crown.

The Patty Schnyder Story

Patty Schnyder has played professional tennis for a number of years. Her winnings total about $10 million. But reports surfaced this week that Swiss authorities are looking for the player and her husband because of outstanding debts totaling CHF 379'260 .86. The creditors include banks, credit card companies, debt collection company, a trust company and tax authorities - even the Billag wants money according to the Swiss tabloid Blick. It's rumored that the police investigation began when Schnyder's husband was unable to come up with eight Porsche's he'd promised to a group of investors. How this will affect her at Charleston this week remains to be seen. As many know Rainer Hofmann, Patty's husband, has been implicated in fraud before. No charges were pressed.

For details of Hofmann's past this article gives the details.

Patty had been talking about retiring from tennis.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

2011 Sony Ericsson Open - The Ladies Final

by Savannah


I've been pretty quiet about the tournament formerly known as the Fifth Slam. I have been watching, and tweeting, so if you follow me there you know pretty much how I've viewed the tournamanet, in 140 characters or less. The title of Fifth Slam has been given to the tournament in the California desert and Miami is now being marketed as the South American Slam. Forget that it takes place in North America. Miami is Latino enough, at least in the eyes of the pro tours, to be considered part of South America and the Spanish speaking Caribbean. Besides, the improvements made by Larry Ellison at Indian Wells have made that tournament deserving of the faux slam title. IMG has a long way to go to bring its tournament up to the standards set at Indian Wells. So does the US Open but that's another tale for another day.


But I digress. The women's final will take place today and will be broadcast on CBS. Will Mary Carillo, the High Priestess of Big Babe Tennis, be in the broadcast booth or will the conflicted Mary Jo Fernandez preside over the festivities? How should I know? I'm just a fan with a keyboard so my thoughts on this don't matter. Rather I should be home spamming other fans with typewriters, er, keyboards and creating phony Twitter accounts in my spare time huh? I'm not that person though and I'll continue to put my thoughts into cyberspace as long as I'm able to.

Damn. I digressed again. Silly me. The final today will be between Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka. If both women play the way they've been playing it should be an interesting match. Of course some of us may end up with our ears bleeding but them's the breaks I suppose.

I've never been a fan of Maria Sharapova. I have to say that for those who may be new to this blog. Her game has always been a copy of early Venus Williams and has not progressed much beyond that. The commentators still go on ad nauseam about her injuries and what they see as the resultant service issues but that is not what has made me gain respect for her as a player.

You see in this incarnation of the WTA she is one of the few who can put butts in the seats. People want to see her play for whatever reason. Miami is where she was booed a few years back for turning her back on an injured Tatiana Golovin and she's never been a fan favorite. Still they come out to see her. And she's decided to embrace Miami and let bygones be bygones.

She also seems to be listening to her new coach. When he makes a courtside visit she sips from her little brown bottle and doesn't argue or bitch at him. She listens. She also fights like hell on the court. Her match against Alexandra Dulgheru showed what she's made of. There were times it looked as if she would go under during that match but she refused to. When she messes up there are no on court tantrums and racquet smashing. All a fan gets to see is the raptor like spirit in her eyes as she picks herself up and forges ahead. That is all a fan can ask of a player.

There may come a time I will learn to respect Victoria Azarenka as a player. Hell, I've come to respect Sharapova right? But as I indicated above Sharapova has never disrespected the game of tennis on court. She hasn't cursed out chair umpires or let herself be overtaken by angry outbursts or gone on cursing jags like Azarenka has. Again it speaks volumes about the state of the WTA that Azarenka has reached today's final playing what passes for pretty good women's tennis these days. I read a fansite where one tennishead called Azarenka "Sharapova Lite". I can't disagree with that assessment. There are fans of what I guess can be called her "fighting" spirit. I see her as a spoiled brat and will continue to do so whether she wins today or not.

But once again what I think doesn't matter. I said to myself after Sharapova won her semi that the folks at CBS could stop doing their rosaries. Do you think they wanted a final that included fan favorite Andrea Petkovic? Purists would've been interested but the casual tennis viewer would have been scratching their head wondering who she was. That network and media favorite Sharapova will be facing another blonde across the net is icing on the cake. The WTA will be happy because their image of the WTA would be perpetuated. If you like mindless ball bashing you'll be happy.

Still, with all that said, I hope it goes three sets.


Melanie Oudin, perhaps in preparation for her Fed Cup turn, took a wild card into a $25k in Alabama. She was taken out in the first round by one Ashley Weinhold. Some are questioning her choice for the United States Fed Cup team and saying that Coco Vandeweghe should've been the choice. Melanie got overtaken by the hype beast. Her game has not progressed past the junior level. A woman her size, unless she's a badass like Dominika Cibulkova, is going to have a very hard time at the pro level with a game like hers these days. I think Coco Vandeweghe's game is, just like Melanie's, still a junior game so putting her on the team wouldn't do much for the US's chances.

Still it is Fed Cup and someone can catch patriotic fever and get through. If the United States loses it will be the first time we've ever been out of the World Group. On Mary Jo Fernandez' watch no less. She was the great savior of the US Fed Cup team remember?