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.
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.
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.
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.