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.


TennisAce said...

What I found infuriating about yesterday's Houston match was apart from commentary (cannot stand Arias) the style of play left a lot to be desired. I am no clay afficionado, but I like to see the sliding being done by the players to get in position. I enjoyed the Marbella match just because of this, but the 2 green clay matches played in the States left me wanting more. I have seen players slide on the green stuff (Serena does it and JJ when she is playing well but not anyone else I can think of).

FYI Sweeting is now an American citizen.

Savannah said...

Oh I know Sweeting is now a citizen of the United States. It's just that he introduces himself in the biographical clip they showed on Tennis Channel as being from the Bahamas and says that he moved here when he was 12. I was just doing what he does.

They were playing hard court tennis on a clay court. That's why it was so hard to watch the match.