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?