Thursday, June 30, 2011

Two Are Left Standing - I Think

by Savannah


It's hard out there for a blogger. Especially one who isn't one of the cool kids and has to scrounge around for stuff like information and pictures. I've been at this awhile now so I'm used to having to fend for myself. Until the tennis community on Twitter blew up information was hoarded and doled out by powerful gatekeepers for reasons best known to them. I mean it's not Game of Thrones where ravens are what passes for air mail. (Just an aside - I've never understood how a bird, with a piece of parchment strapped to it's leg knew the message was for Joe Blow or Susie Smith and flew right there. From my far from professional observations they've got minds of their own.) AHEM.

Why an i talking about carrier ravens instead of Petra Kvitova (Pictured above)? Well unless you hit the photo sites accessible to all including the non cool kids you had a hell of a time finding any pictures of Petra. If you weren't in on the 411 you'd be hard pressed to know there were actually two matches played today. One involved Petra Kvitova playing against someone named Victoria Azarenka.

As you know I like pictures. I think a good picture is worth a thousand or so words at least. Facial expressions tell you what a person has been through in life, or in tennis. Of course some of us feel tennis is life but that would necessitate another much longer aside.

Petra looks elated. Excited. Slightly unbelieving. That's because she made it to the 2011 Wimbledone Ladies Final. She made said final despite going on a walkabout that lasted the entire second set. As you all know walkabouts are associated with another tennis player, one who owns SW19, but her triumphal march was interrupted by a pretender to the throne so in this post nothing more will be said about her. This was Petra's moment and she thoroughly enjoyed it.

If you were looking for picture though you were shit outta luck. There were tons of pictures of this woman though.
And I mean tons. Did you want to see her pensive? There are pictures. Did you want to see her in full flight? Again, tons of pictures. Did you want to see her returning? Look anywhere. Serving? Again just log in. Maybe you want to see her significant other? Easy.

Or maybe you wanted to see her opponent? Unlike Petra's opponent who seems to have vanished into thin air - she doesn't give post match pressers I recently found out. Seems groups of reporters don't want to talk to her in a room with voice recorders and shit. Mostly they want to talk to her one on one and she can refuse those. I find that odd since when players don't make themselves available to the cool kids words like fines and arrogant are bandied about. Dag another aside.

As I was saying if you want to see Sabine Lisicki distraught, asking herself what the hell she should do, on the verge of tears, there are a lot of those too. But not nearly the amount devoted to Maria Sharapova. As I understand it the coronation is planned for Saturday.

Seriously though if Sabine Lisicki had managed to play like she had coming into the semifinal and -gasp- won the men who run sports at NBC would've been hurling themselves off the roof of 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Thanks to the crack (head) marketing of the WTA no one outside of tennis nerds would tune in to see Sabine vs Petra. Hell most of them think Petra is from Czechoslovakia. Tennis nerds don't give NBC decent ratings. Someone who has been rammed down our throats, uh, well marketed the way Maria has will draw casual viewers to the match. After all isn't she the face women's tennis wants to represent it? Sure Petra is blonde but she's not MARIA, the blonde of blondes in the WTA.

All this does for me is annoy me. Maria, a veteran at 24, has been playing very good tennis. She made herself competitive on the terre battue and was one of the players I picked to be a contender. (Another aside - we won't talk about who I picked to win it all here. She's vanished into thin air and thank goodness the cool kids don't talk to her.)

But there is a reason there is so much dislike of the Siberian Bansidhe. Do I really have to use the tennis fans as cats analogy again? It's my blog so I will. But you get the point. Just because a bunch of suits were saved from certain death doesn't mean I have to treat the Savior of the WTA as the Second Coming.

What she should quietly do is send bouquets to Marion Bartoli and Tsvetana Pironkova for their role in eliminating the main competition. Sure both women were exhausted after long injury lay offs and may have gone out the next round but no one underestimates their will and maybe, just maybe, the outcome would've been different. The asides just keep on coming don't they?

Despite the beatific expression in the above picture somehow I don't think that's gonna happen.

Maria should also be glad her opponent this year had no idea what to do with the gift of 13 double faults she was given not to mention the 3-0 lead she gave herself before going on her own walkabout. A thank you card should suffice.

Maria Sharapova of Russia will play Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic for the Ladies Championship. No picks this time. May the best woman win.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

And Then There Were Four...

by Savannah

Carnage. That's the word that comes to mind when taking a look at the results of round of 16 play for the women at SW19.

It started with Marion Bartoli's defeat of Serena Williams. Serena's ragged breathing was audible and even her tremendous will could not get her past Maid Marion who played the match of her life to defeat her.

Then there was the Tsvetana Pironkova Grand Slam Tour wherein she gets to play Venus Williams and leave The Great One shaking her head while she moves on to the next round.

Lost in the shuffle was Dominika Cibulkova, the self proclaimed party girl, sending the computer ranked WTA #1 Caroline Wozniacki home.

So how did the perpetrators do in the quarterfinals?
Maria Sharapova made quick work of Domi who was not allowed to get into the match at all. By defeating her so definitively - 1 and 1 - Sharapova got a measure of revenge against the diminutive one and put herself firmly in the favorite's role heading into the semi finals.
Sabine Lisicki faced Marion Bartoli who at the end of their match had absolutely nothing left mentally or physically. To her credit Marion, who has made herself much more fit than she was even a year ago finished the match without any of the injury timeouts she's become famous for.
Petra Kvitova showed Tsvetana that her bag of tricks was not going to deter her from her goal.
Victoria Azarenka took advantage of Tamira Paszek's inexperience (despite Paszek's dramatic defeat of Francesca Schiavone) at the highest levels of play. It wasn't the beat down Sharapova delivered to Cibulkova but there was never any doubt who was going to win their match.

So what is there to say about the all blonde semifinals? Surprisingly the quality of tennis should be quite high. All of the women who made the semifinals showed that they know how to play the game of tennis. The winners were aggressive, used a variety of shots and were able to prove they were at the top of their games.

Sharapova had the only blow out. Kvitova had mental lapses that against a stronger player could've cost her the match. Azarenka was determined to show she could get past the quarters and try to erase her most recent efforts this year that saw her unable to complete her matches.

The best match of the day was the one between Marion and Sabine. Marion lost because she had used everything she had to defeat Serena. Would the result have been different if the matches had not been back to back? Maybe. But Sabine, who was in the tournament via the granting of a WC - she is now ranked in the 60's - had to be stung by the criticism she received for getting the wild card and she is playing the tennis of her life right now. Maybe we'll get to see these two later in the year and see if they can produce the same quality of tennis we saw in the first two sets.

So we have Maria Sharapova vs Sabine Lisicki and Victoria Azarenka vs Petra Kvitova as the semifinal matchups. Who will be playing on Saturday?

I don't know. I think the contrast in styles makes it difficult to pick a favorite for each match. Sure Maria can come out throwing bombs and Kvitova could have a mental collapse she won't recover from. Sabine can't let herself be intimidated and Azarenka will have to keep her cool.

I said Azarenka didn't have the temperament to win a Slam. She just may prove me wrong.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Tennis Talk - Wimbledon 2011 Week 1

by Savannah

This is why access to transcripts is vital to reporting tennis. The following was obtained from the website of ASAP Sports

Q. What do you make of being put on Court No. 2 today?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, uhm, you know, I don't know. They like to put us on Court 2, me and Venus, for whatever reason. I haven't figured it out yet. Maybe one day we'll figure it out. I don't know.

Q. I remember the last couple years you've said, Okay, it's Court 2, I'll play.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't necessarily think I should -- I try to play my match and take that first and foremost, deal with, you know, whatever later. 'Cause today, if I was thinking about that, then that would be a different issue.
But, you know, obviously they're not gonna change, so, you know, it's like...

Q. In the first set, you seemed to have a hard time reading her serve or making any impression on her serve. What was bothering you about it in the first set and what did you figure out about it after that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, well, I just thought that she serves well to be her height. Usually players that height don't serve as well. She has so much power on her serve. That's actually really awesome.
So, uhm, that was definitely -- it's always hard to play with such power on grass court maybe.

Q. Was it frustrating to not even get a breakpoint chance in that first set?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I had chances and I kind of blew them. Like 30-15, I probably had a couple times. But she just really served well. Uhm, so, yeah.

Q. Can you just explain what it is about Court No. 2 that makes playing difficult? Is it noise? Is it atmosphere?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, I don't know. I pretty much won all my matches so far on Court 2, so...

Q. You have to go through the crowds, don't you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I never have too much time to warm up. I look at that as kind of a warmup, trying to walk out there. I'm like, Okay, well, this gets my legs moving.

Q. This was only your fourth match total since you came back. Are you playing your way into shape, feeling better each match? Or does the first set in each match drive you crazy?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, no, I feel like I'm in shape. But I'm just playing my way into match condition. And, uhm, you know, just doing things that I did before. That's all. That's all I can do right now.

Q. You and Venus almost look at it as an insult that you're not automatically put on Centre, 1, like Djokovic, Nadal.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, they're never moved across. Actually, Venus and I have won more Wimbledons together than a lot of the players or by ourselves in doubles even. So, you know, at the end of the day, I don't know. Like I said, they're not going to change, doesn't look like. So I don't know.

Q. Do you think in any way it could relate to you and Venus, you're bigger than life, you speak your mind, you're big personalities? Do you think that relates to it at all in any way?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. Like I said, I don't really think about it. I don't make it a big issue.
I think at some point maybe I should. I don't know. I just really try to focus on not going down on Court 2. At least now they have a review out there, so I do like that. It was much better than the old one that was actually closer. I really hated that court, but...

Q. What is your reaction when you find out the next day's play? Do you say, Oh, no, that you're going to be out there?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I just say, What court am I playing? I just say, What time am I playing? Like 12:00. Oh, I have to wake up early.

The full transcript is HERE

The digital voice recorders had barely been turned off when Tweets started appearing about Serena practically foaming at the mouth about being assigned to Court 2. If there was no transcript those stories would have been taken as gospel and all the good press that's surrounded Serena and Venus return to the fray would've been overshadowed by Serena allegedly trying to tell the AELTC what to do.
To her credit one of the female comm's made it clear that the press, the people in the interview room were trying to goad Serena into making a controversial statement. When she didn't they went ahead with their hatchet jobs. Fortunately a small cabal wasn't able to hog access to transcripts and the lies, for that's what they were, didn't take hold. ESPN2 also showed tape of the post match interview to emphasize that Serena was as calm as the words of the interview indicate.

We should all keep that in mind when we read some of the insane stuff the press reports about tennis players. The Main Stream Tennis Press (MSTP) has it's own agenda. Who sets it I don't know. Apparently presenting the players fairly and honestly isn't part of it.

Circling The Wagons

I've laid off The Slob for awhile now. I try and play nice and not make this a place of negativity but sometimes shit just searches you out and hits you in the face.

As you know Feliciano Lopez defeated Andy Roddick for the first time in seven tries. In straight sets. On Centre Court. Keep in mind the defending men's champion was relegated to Court 1 so that this match could take place on Centre Court. I'm just saying.

Anyway Lopez had this look on his face the entire match that I found odd. There were no smiles, and after he closed it out there was no big celebration. Just a quiet sense of accomplishment. I was a little surprised since I've seen Feli celebrate a victory. I figured he wanted to be different.
A little while later I found out that maybe Feli was on a bit of a mission. Seems the Slob was in the VIP section of Wimbledon having lunch when he got a severe case of verbal diarrhea. Long story short he said that Feli would be a better tennis player if he didn't look at himself in the mirror so much. The Spanish press, a much more free wheeling lot than their counterparts in the States, had a field day reporting verbatim what the Slob had said and where.

Yours truly tried to use Google to translate the Spanish which was totally useless since it doesn't recognize idioms. The best translation I found was done by a tennishead who goes by MJ2004 who hangs out on

Mid-day, minutes before the match, an ex-player, American Justin Gimelstob, ridiculed the spaniard at a lunch in the VIP zone of Wimbledon: if he would look at himself less in the mirror he would be a better player, he said.

And Gimelstob, close friend of Andy Roddick, the man beat today by Lopez, searched for an elegant way to pedal backwards.
"I believe Feliciano is a great player, but it's true that he loves to look at himself in the mirror. And it's find for him to do it, he is a very attractive man" the American told DPA.
"People always talk about women, but he is tall, good appearance with a good body. Yes, very metrosexual. But not just him, his tennis is also attractive, stylized."
"Yes, it seems that today for a couple hours he stopped watching himself in the mirror".

The original Spanish is here.

What did Feliciano have to say? Keep in mind when he Tweets he usually Tweets in Spanish.

Its funny when people like justin gimelstob talks bullshit without knowing me at all.he did not learn what respect means as a kid..

Let's look at this situation. This man, Justin Gimelstob, is on the ATP Board of Directors. He decides to make what he probably saw as a quip, in public mind you, a statement insulting a player. I've said it before and I can't emphasize it more - he felt safe saying what he said because he thought he was in the company of people who would find his statement hilarious. It's the same with the statement's he made about sexually assaulting Anna Kournikova.

In the States what he said would never have been reported. In Europe, where the VIP section doesn't only include the type of people Justin is accustomed to associating with, the comments were reported by the Spanish language section of a German media outlet.

I worked in management for many years and was always aware that when I was at a business function - and lunch at Wimbledon for a member of the media is a business function - you kept your thoughts to yourself. As a member of the media - he is a broadcast announcer too - you are always "on" when in public. As a member of the ATP Board this is doubly true.

Defenders have taken the position that he didn't say it to Feli's face and that he did try to explain that he wasn't being malicious but the damage was done. As the translation shows the reporters made the direct connection between the Slob and his bff Andy Roddick.

I often talk about the tensions between the ATP and the rest of the world. With Adam Helfant stepping down at the end of the year personally insulting a player from the dominant tennis nation right now is not a good idea. Oh, did I mention this player has a good friend on the ATP Players Association board? And that said board will consult on Helfant's replacement? Way to go Slob.

This and That

Just an aside. As a parent you are also always on the job. I'm a woman. If I see a good looking man certain hormones make their appearance. But I don't talk about it in front of my adult daughter. It's just not something I'm comfortable doing. I understand the player who reacted negatively in public to his mother making no secret about her feelings towards a certain player's delectability. Mothers don't do that in front of their children no matter the child's age. I'm just saying. Then again I'm old.

Once again the tennis gods smiled on Wimbledon. It appears as if they can get their Middle Sunday day of rest in without any problems.

Those of you who read this space know my feelings about what I call the Axis, the countries who dominated tennis for many years. In fact Mary Carillo just alluded to that on NBC when she said that Wimbledon was usually won by Brits, Americans and Aussies. Her comment was met with deafening silence and they moved on. Earlier this week ESPN put up a graphic showing how long it's been since Axis members - Britain, The United States, Australia and French - had won a Grand Slam. Just use a graphic next time Mary.

There are some interesting names in Round of 16 play that starts Monday. Focusing on the women Ksenia Pervak and Tamira Paszek
are joining the festivities. I consider myself well versed in tennis on both the main and challenger level. I have never heard of Ksenia Pervak until now. I have heard of Ms Paszek. Not that I expected either woman to make the second week of play.

They'll be joined by Sabine Lisicki of Germany who is on a bit of tear in SW 19 but her countrywoman Andrea Petkovic didn't make it.

By the way the women's matches have been played at a very high level this week. That's right. The matches I saw did not feature ball bashing (I avoided Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova is trying to move around more. I did say trying.) to the exclusion of any other form of play.

But there will be no Li Na, no Francesca Schiavone, no Svetlana Kuznetsova in play next week. Sabine Lisicki had to play all court tennis to defeat Madame Li. And the way both Williams Women bossed their way around the court the last few days makes it seem as if they're making progress by the proverbial leaps and bounds.

Before I go the AELTC has instituted a program of having the parents of champions sit in the Royal Box. So far the parents of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have been seated. I'm waiting for Richard Williams and Oracene Price to take their seats. And no, I ain't touching whether Richard's new wife will accompany him. My mother would get up from her grave and smack me in the head.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

One For the Ages

by Savannah

Or should I say ageless? How about the throw down in Londontown? No? Oh well.
Most tennisheads know the story of Date Kimiko. She left tennis for 13 years seemingly content to play exhibitions and get on with her life.

But as we all know tennis is an addiction, an itch you can never quite scratch. Still I think most of us expected good but not spectacular play from her nostalgia tour figuring that her best tennis was behind her. Besides she was a throwback, someone who wouldn't stand a chance in the world of big babe baseline power tennis or survive the rise of the pusherocracy. At 40, as those of us who have left that age in the rearview mirror know, your body has started to exact it's revenge for all the shit you did up to that time.

Still the woman known now as Kimiko Date-Krumm kept plugging away on the sidelines while another woman from Asia began to hog all the limelight.

When she walked on court this morning I noticed she was cut but thought nothing of it. She'd annoy her opponent and that would be that.
Oh yeah. Kimiko Date-Krumm was playing someone named Venus Williams. Another ancient warrior, at 31 Venus has become the Grande Dame of women's tennis. She is the undisputed Queen of Wimbledon and for the last decade if she hasn't won the tournament her little sister has stepped up and maintained the family honor.

But Venus is 31. Many of us saw her severely injure (or reinjure or aggravate a healing injury depending on what you believe) herself back in January and after a four month layoff it was debateable what she could will her battered body to do.

It's now about 12 hours later give or take a few minutes and I'm doing something I rarely do - rewatch a tennis match. Why? Because it's been a long time since I've seen tennis played at such a high level by two women who many think should be home with a baby in one arm and a couple more pulling on the hem of her dress.

Instead I will say that I have never seen a set of tennis as spectacular as the first set of their match today.
The innovation shown by Date-Krumm was jaw dropping. She was playing all court tennis for sure, but she was creating angles where none should have been. She was absorbing the power of Venus and giving it back to her in a way the Queen of Wimbledon, I think it is safe to say, has not seen before. Kimiko was taking the ball early and with almost no back swing. Venus was forced out of her comfort zone and it showed. She fought back to force a tiebreak in the first set but lost it. Date-Krumm deserved that set. What remained to be seen was if she would be able to survive what was coming. She was threatening to throw Venus out of her house. No one abandons their house without a fight and she was in for one.
I won't say Venus calmly won the match. The older of the Williams Women is not given to emotional displays in public but she opened the door and let anyone who was looking see the emotion, the heart, the desire to win that fuels her, that makes her return to the sport that seems not to know how to embrace her.

The replays they'e showing here focus on the two sets Venus won ignoring the brilliant tennis that was featured in the first set. If the women of the WTA played the kind of tennis we were treated to this morning there wouldn't be any talk of no one wanting to watch a women's match. Date-Krumm and Venus Williams showed all their intelligence, court knowledge, skill and creativity as well as the ability to think for themselves in one amazing set of tennis.
Throw the rankings in the toilet. We're seeing Grand Slam tennis from the likes of Francesca Schiavone, Venus Williams, Li Na and Serena Williams. They're not, and never have, played every week so that they can accumulate enough points to be ranked #1 by the computer. They do their talking on the court. And oh, what conversations they have!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Rewriting History and Updating Fashion

by Savannah

Some observations from Day 1...

Chris Evert is being paid to be a commentator. Sure the standards to be a tennis commentator are pretty low but when you botch something as basic to modern tennis as who got shafted by bad calls at the US Open resulting in the institution of HawkEye I'm sure the suits gave you a good talking to. Pammy corrected her as an aside and did the moving on thing. Really Chris?

So what to do about her? Put her in the studio? I don't think so since Hannah Storm called Michael Russell Michael Young and obviously wasn't listening to Darren Cahill who called Russell by his correct name because she promptly called him out of his name again. The mind boggles at the shenanigans Chrissie and Hannah could get up to in the studio.

Leave it to Venus Williams to make a huge fashion statement. Most people found fault with her modern day romper. I liked it. The legs are full and allow movement. The top is draped and also allows the arms to move freely. The fabric, white on white, is great. Of course Venus had to leave a little skin showing and the cut out in the back caps off the modern look.

There were also complaints about the zipper in the front but as any woman knows rompers and jump suits are not that popular because at some point you have to go to the ladies room. The zipper placed like it is allows for an easier time when you have to go. Besides it looks better there than in the back of what are supposed to be cocktail dresses or evening gowns where it just looks like the seamstress doesn't have a clue about sewing.

Due to the rain the majority of matches will be completed tomorrow. Unless Chrissie rewrites history again or Hannah continues to call people out of their name I won't post until all of the first round matches have been played.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Random Thoughts on the 2011 Wimbledon Draw

by Savannah

Two things about the men's draw.
Note to Andy Murray: The AELTC doesn't like you as much as the French. I'm just saying. Maybe they look at you and see blue face paint and a tattered tartan?

If the biggest thing people are taking from the men's draw is John Isner vs Nicolas Mahut Part Deux the draw is pretty balanced.
As for the women's draw it takes some studying to see the traps that have been laid.

No one is talking much about a Final scenario involving WTA #1 Caroline Wozniacki. She hasn't played on grass coming into the tournament and some of the players she's facing are coming in on fire. Dominika Cibulkova got a big win over Svetlana Kuznetsova at Rosmalen. Julia Goerges has been playing well but will be relatively rested compared to others.
Samantha Stosur overcame her demons and got a huge win over Vera Zvonareva at Eastbourne Thursday. Maria Sharapova has won it all before and it's possible she will do it again. She wants it. Her fiance wants it. She's got to get something from new coach Thomas Hogstedt who didn't have the decency to send Li Na an email saying he was leaving her employ. There's a lot at stake for both Maria and Li but more on Li shortly.

The weakest of the seeds are Goerges, Peng Shuai and Lucie Safarova but Peng, of the three, has the biggest chance of doing some early round damage. Will Wozniacki surprise and run through her section of the draw? One never knows do one? Anything is possible. I think she has to at least make the quarterfinals to be able to say she made a good showing? Did I hear someone say round of 16 is the best she'll do? Meanie.
The good news is that Serena Williams and Venus Williams are in different halves of the draw. Maybe that's the only good news?
Serena finds herself in the bottom of the top half of the draw with Li Na, Ana Ivanovic, Agnieszka Radwanska, Bethanie Mattek Sands, Maria Kirilenko, Flavia Pennetta and Marion Bartoli. I'm saying again that I don't expect miracles from Serena. A healthy Serena wouldn't have a problem. The Serena from Eastbourne who had trouble breathing and her quads giving her problems will have to struggle a bit. The wild card here is Marion Bartoli. If she stays focused and plays up to her great potential she could find herself deep in the second week. Li Na is the other player who could find herself playing in week two. Of course I'd be very happy if Serena finds a way to steady her breathing and minimize her other physical issues resulting from her recent health concerns and finds herself in the semis. I'd like that a lot. But I'm not getting my hopes up.
The seeds in the top of the bottom half are Francesca Schiavone, Ekaterina Makarova, Shahar Peer, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Andrea Petkovic, Daniela Hantuchova, Kaia Kanepi and Victoria Azarenka.
I'm sorry Vika fans but I see Pavs coming out of this section. I think Dani Hantuchova who has been on fire of late will run out of steam and not make it to the second week. Vika retired from her last match, again, and I wonder about her being mentally and physically ready for the grind that is a Grand Slam. Of course Kaia could go on one of her tears and prove me wrong but that's tennis.
And now to the bottom of the bottom half of the draw. Who might be lurking here? Petra Kvitova for one. Looking around I see Roberta Vinci, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Tsvetana Pironkova, Yanina Wickmayer, Jelena Jankovic, Vera Zvonareva and...drumroll please...Venus Williams.
Will we see the Venus Williams we saw playing her opening match at Eastbourne or the Venus who lost for the first time in ten years to Daniela Hantuchova? That Venus was spraying errors all over the place and while she did win a second set failed to close the deal in the third. If Venus #1 shows up there is no need to even debate who is going to win the tournament. If she goes on one of her walkabouts it's an entirely different situation.
Petra has had a rather "meh" grass season and it's going to be interesting to see if she can hold her nerve and her focus for two weeks. When she's on she can hold her own with the best of them but when she's's bad.
Wickmayer doesn't have the temperament to survive a two week test of brain and heart in my opinion. She and Azarenka are hindered by the same things - lack of patience and a one note style of play. Both will do well but in the end disappoint their fans.
JJ, Sveta, and Tsvetana are the sleepers here. JJ can do it but will she? She's playing in such an insecure fashion of late I wonder if she'll be able to gather her will and fight the way she used to. I never count Sveta out until she takes herself out. I've seen Sveta play her best tennis and when she does she's almost unbeatable. I don't know if she gets distracted or she overthinks things but the only way Sveta loses is when Sveta takes herself out of her match.

Tsvetana really enjoys the hunt. The bigger the name across the net from her the bigger she plays. We know she can go deep and seeing her in the second week wouldn't be that big a surprise. If she plays with confidence she can surprise a few big names and that is just how she likes to roll.

All of that verbage leads up to me saying that the draw is wide open. Unless someone breaks her legs I think Sharapova will make the semifinals. If Venus stays healthy she can as well. I have no idea who else will be there. The tour is too weak to make any solid predictions and even when making one like I am here I can argue myself into a different scenario. It's gonna be fun y'all.

End Notes

I hope you've enjoyed seeing some of the more interesting looks from the WTA player party that took place Thursday evening. The WTA worked with British designers so that each woman would have her own unique look.
I've come to the conclusion Stella McCartney really hates Caroline Wozniacki. That or Caroline needs to hire a stylist who will hone her fashion sensibilities so that she doesn't come out in public dressed like a woman twice her age or a slut out for a stroll.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands outfit was designed by the man who does Lady GaGa's costumes. I think Stefanie would've said "no". I'm just saying.

Young Heather Watson looks great. So does Maria Sharapova. Serena looks awesome. The dress fits her from top to bottom and makes her look classy. Not a fan of the makeup but she otherwise looks fabulous.

I don't like Ana's dress. I'm sorry people. She's small busted and that dress actually makes the girls look like they're in pain. The dress itself also appears to be too small for her and that's saying something since she's extremely thin right now.

JJ's dress is a little matronly for my tastes. A well preserved fifty year old would look great in that dress. Petko gets a nod towards best dressed too. Her makeup is also great.

All of us were told by our mothers if you can't say anything good don't say anything. That's why I'm not talking about Li Na from the neck down. From the neck up the woman is flawless.

The AELTC has announced that live streaming will not be done this year pending a reevaluation of it's options. Here is a list, from the official site, of the carriers who will be featuring Wimbledon coverage.


ADMC Middle East
ARQ Czech Republic
B92 Serbia
Canal+ France
Canwest Canada (Men's And Ladies' finals only)
C More Sweden, Finland, Norway
Ctv(Tsn) Canada (preliminary rounds only)
ESS Asia
ESPN United States
ESPNSur South America
Fiji Tv
Fox Australia
Gaora Japan
Go Multiplus Malta
Globosat Brazil
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2011 Wimbledon Main Draws - Singles

Ladies Main Draw


Caroline Wozniacki DEN (1) v Arantxa Parra Santonja ESP
Sania Mirza IND v Virginie Razzano FRA
Anastasia Rodionova AUS v Andrea Hlavackova CZE
Alona Bondarenko UKR v Jarmila Gajdosova AUS (27)

Dominika Cibulkova SVK (24) v Mirjana Lucic CRO
Polona Hercog SLO v Johanna Larsson SWE
Mathilde Johansson FRA v Heather Watson GBR
Anabel Medina Garrigues ESP v Julia Goerges GER (16)

Samantha Stosur AUS (10) v Melinda Czink HUN
Anastasiya Yakimova BLR v Sofia Arvidsson SWE
Elena Baltacha GBR v Qualifier
Kirsten Flipkens BEL v Shuai Peng CHN (20)

Lucie Safarova CZE (31) v Lucie Hradecka CZE
Klara Zakopalova CZE v Emily Webley-Smith GBR
Angelique Kerber GER v Laura Robson GBR
Anna Chakvetadze RUS v Maria Sharapova RUS (5)

Na Li CHN (3) v Alla Kudryavtseva RUS
Sabine Lisicki GER v Anastasija Sevastova LAT
Jie Zheng CHN v Zuzana Ondraskova CZE
Qualifier v Bethanie Mattek-Sands USA (30)

Ana Ivanovic SRB (18) v Melanie Oudin USA
Coco Vandeweghe USA v Eleni Daniilidou GRE
Kristina Barrois GER v Petra Cetkovska CZE
Olga Govortsova BLR v Agnieszka Radwanska POL (13)

Marion Bartoli FRA (9) v Qualifier
Lourdes Dominguez Lino ESP v Romina Oprandi ITA
Evgeniya Rodina RUS v Chanelle Scheepers RSA
Irina-Camelia Begu ROU v Flavia Pennetta ITA (21)

Maria Kirilenko RUS (26) v Alberta Brianti ITA
Qualifier v Yaroslava Shvedova KAZ
Simona Halep ROU v Bojana Jovanovski SRB
Aravane Rezai FRA v Serena Williams USA (7)


Francesca Schiavone ITA (6) v Jelena Dokic AUS
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova CZE v Qualifier
Ayumi Morita JPN v Tamira Paszek AUT
Christina McHale USA v Ekaterina Makarova RUS (28)

Shahar Peer ISR (22) v Ksenia Pervak RUS
Sorana Cirstea ROU v Pauline Parmentier FRA
Qualifier v Qualifier
Greta Arn HUN v Andrea Petkovic GER (11)

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova RUS (14) v Qualifier
Vesna Dolonts RUS v Nadia Petrova RUS
Kateryna Bondarenko UKR v Alize Cornet FRA
Sara Errani ITA v Kaia Kanepi EST (17)

Daniela Hantuchova SVK (25) v Qualifier
Qualifier v Qualifier
Sandra Zahlavova CZE v Iveta Benesova CZE
Magdalena Rybarikova SVK v Victoria Azarenka BLR (4)

Petra Kvitova CZE (8) v Qualifier
Naomi Broady GBR v Anne Keothavong GBR
Rebecca Marino CAN v Patricia Mayr-Achleitner AUT
Vera Dushevina RUS v Roberta Vinci ITA (29)

Yanina Wickmayer BEL (19) v Varvara Lepchenko USA
Anastasia Pivovarova RUS v Anna Tatishvili GEO
Jill Craybas USA v Alexandra Dulgheru ROU
Shuai Zhang CHN v Svetlana Kuznetsova RUS (12)

Jelena Jankovic SRB (15) v Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez ESP
Monica Niculescu ROU v Sybille Bammer AUT
Katie O'Brien GBR v Kimiko Date-Krumm JPN
Akgul Amanmuradova UZB v Venus Williams USA (23)

Tsvetana Pironkova BUL (32) v Qualifier
Vania King USA v Petra Martic CRO
Elena Vesnina RUS v Laura Pous-Tio ESP
Alison Riske USA v Vera Zvonareva RUS (2)

Gentlemen's Main Draw


Rafael Nadal ESP (1) v Michael Russell USA
Pablo Andujar ESP v Ryan Sweeting USA
Gilles Muller LUX v Tommy Haas GER
Fabio Fognini ITA v Milos Raonic CAN (31)

Juan Martin Del Potro ARG (24) v Qualifier
Olivier Rochus BEL v Qualifier
Frederico Gil POR v Dudi Sela ISR
Qualifier v Gilles Simon FRA (15)

Mardy Fish USA (10) v Marcel Granollers ESP
Philipp Kohlschreiber GER v Denis Istomin UZB
Robin Haase NED v Pere Riba ESP
Radek Stepanek CZE v Fernando Verdasco ESP (21)

Juan Ignacio Chela ARG (25) v Qualifier
Donald Young USA v Alex Bogomolov Jr. USA
Qualifier v Julien Benneteau FRA
Filippo Volandri ITA v Tomas Berdych CZE (6)

Andy Murray GBR (4) v Daniel Gimeno-Traver ESP
Tobias Kamke GER v Blaz Kavcic SLO
Sergiy Stakhovsky UKR v Daniel Cox GBR
Ivan Ljubicic CRO v Marin Cilic CRO (27)

Richard Gasquet FRA (17) v Santiago Giraldo COL
Igor Kunitsyn RUS v Qualifier
Qualifier v Qualifier
Potito Starace ITA v Stanislas Wawrinka SUI (14)

Gael Monfils FRA (9) v Matthias Bachinger GER
Qualifier v Robert Kendrick USA
Arnaud Clement FRA v Qualifier
Ivo Karlovic CRO v Janko Tipsarevic SRB (23)

Thomaz Bellucci BRA (30) v Rainer Schuettler GER
Feliciano Lopez ESP v Michael Berrer GER
Jaroslav Pospisil CZE v Victor Hanescu ROU
Qualifier v Andy Roddick USA (8)


David Ferrer ESP (7) v Benoit Paire FRA
Ivan Dodig CRO v Qualifier
Carlos Berlocq ARG v Qualifier
Andrey Golubev KAZ v Guillermo Garcia-Lopez ESP (26)

Alexandr Dolgopolov UKR (22) v Fernando Gonzalez CHI
Qqualifier v Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo ESP
Grigor Dimitrov BUL v Qualifier
Qualifier v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga FRA (12)

Nicolas Almagro ESP (16) v Jarkko Nieminen FIN
John Isner USA v Nicolas Mahut FRA
Somdev Devvarman IND v Denis Gremelmayr GER
Juan Monaco ARG v Mikhail Youzhny RUS (18)

David Nalbandian ARG (28) v Julian Reister GER
Florent Serra FRA v Andreas Haider-Maurer AUT
Adrian Mannarino FRA v Qualifier
Mikhail Kukushkin KAZ v Roger Federer SUI (3)

Robin Soderling SWE (5) v Philipp Petzschner GER
Kei Nishikori JPN v Lleyton Hewitt AUS
Igor Andreev RUS v Teymuraz Gabashvili RUS
Qualifier v Nikolay Davydenko RUS (29)

Florian Mayer GER (20) v Daniel Evans GBR
Xavier Malisse BEL v Mischa Zverev GER
Ernests Gulbis LAT v Dmitry Tursunov RUS
Alejandro Falla COL v Jurgen Melzer AUT (11)

Viktor Troicki SRB (13) v Maximo Gonzalez ARG
Yen-Hsun Lu TPE v Tommy Robredo ESP
Ricardo Mello BRA v Qualifier
James Ward GBR v Michael Llodra FRA (19)

Marcos Baghdatis CYP (32) v James Blake USA
Andreas Seppi ITA v Albert Montanes ESP
Kevin Anderson RSA v Illya Marchenko UKR
Jeremy Chardy FRA v Novak Djokovic SRB (2)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What Do The Seeds Mean?

by Savannah

My reaction to the seeding done by Wimbledon was "meh". I mean when all is said and done the AELTC did what it usually does - stir the pot.

The two seeds I was looking for were Venus Williams and Serena Williams. A quick glance at Wikipedia gives you a list of winners going back to the dawn of time but I was interested in the last ten years.

2000 USA Venus Williams USA Lindsay Davenport 6–3, 7–6(7–3)
2001 USA Venus Williams BEL Justine Henin 6–2, 3–6, 6–0
2002 USA Serena Williams USA Venus Williams 7–6(7–4), 6–3
2003 USA Serena Williams USA Venus Williams 4–6, 6–4, 6–2
2004 RUS Maria Sharapova USA Serena Williams 6–1, 6–4
2005 USA Venus Williams USA Lindsay Davenport 4–6, 7–6(7–4), 9–7
2006 FRA Amélie Mauresmo BEL Justine Henin 2–6, 6–3, 6–4
2007 USA Venus Williams FRA Marion Bartoli 6–4, 6–1
2008 USA Venus Williams USA Serena Williams 7–5, 6–4
2009 USA Serena Williams USA Venus Williams 7–6(7–3), 6–2
2010 USA Serena Williams RUS Vera Zvonareva 6–3, 6–2

There seems to be a trend here no? In the last ten years there have been only two years that someone with the surname Williams has not won Wimbledon. One of those winners is retired and the other one is poised to make a deep run this year.

Is the AELTC trying to ensure an anyone but a Williams winner? Maybe. I just don't think it's smart to wave a red flag in front of either of the Williams Women. I'm just saying.

Still after today where after her gutsy win yesterday Serena showed the aftereffects of her recent health issues I wonder if she'll be physically ready for the rigors of a Grand Slam. She visibly hit a wall today and while she fought hard to try and make the outcome respectable in the end her mighty will couldn't get her over the finish line. That may turn out to be a good thing for her. She was really hyped up/nervous yesterday and she came out on the same high today. But the adrenaline wore off and she got to experience the limits of what her body can do now. Depending on her draw she could make it to the second week. I don't want to look much past that.

As for Venus she cc'd everyone on the email she sent out today. The bitch is back. I almost felt sorry for Ana Ivanovic today because it was obvious she had no recourse but to guess what Venus was going to do next. And she kept guessing wrong.
I'm sure Venus will face a murderer's row of opponents but if she plays like she did today it won't matter. Should she have been seeded higher? I think so. The AELTC has carte blanche when it comes to the women's draw and I have to say I was surprised to see Venus seeded #24. I saw some griping on Twitter today about the Williams Women being the only players to get moved around by the AELTC. I wonder who they wanted moved? Certainly not Kim Clijsters who as expected withdrew from the event today after the draw was released. Her ankle injury is said to be unrelated to the original one.

I have no reason not to take all of this at face value. As I said before and repeated yesterday I didn't think Clijsters would play a match before the United States hard court season and was stunned she played the French. I'll be shocked again if she plays anywhere before the US Open where she'll be guaranteed a cakewalk.

As for the men there's a lot of talk about the #2 and #3 seedings.
I have to say that I was surprised to see Roger Federer seeded according to his rank. I know the AELTC published some blather about the seeding for Venus and Serena that included paying homage to their history on grass. Following that same logic Federer should've been the number two seed. Once again I went to Wiki and here are the results for the last ten years.

2000 USA Pete Sampras AUS Patrick Rafter 6–7(10–12), 7–6(7–5), 6–4, 6–2
2001 HRV Goran Ivanišević AUS Patrick Rafter 6–3, 3–6, 6–3, 2–6, 9–7
2002 AUS Lleyton Hewitt ARG David Nalbandian 6–1, 6–3, 6–2
2003 SUI Roger Federer AUS Mark Philippoussis 7–6(7–5), 6–2, 7–6(7–3)
2004 SUI Roger Federer USA Andy Roddick 4–6, 7–5, 7–6(7–3), 6–4
2005 SUI Roger Federer USA Andy Roddick 6–2, 7–6(7–2), 6–4
2006 SUI Roger Federer ESP Rafael Nadal 6–0, 7–6(7–5), 6–7(2–7), 6–3
2007 SUI Roger Federer ESP Rafael Nadal 7–6(9–7), 4–6, 7–6(7–3), 2–6, 6–2
2008 ESP Rafael Nadal SUI Roger Federer 6–4, 6–4, 6–7(5–7), 6–7(8–10),9–7
2009 SUI Roger Federer USA Andy Roddick 5–7, 7–6(8–6),7–6(7–5),3–6,16–14
2010 ESP Rafael Nadal CZE Tomáš Berdych 6–3, 7–5, 6–4

Just for shits and giggles I looked up the #2 seed's Wimbledon results.
Tournament 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 Career SR Career W-L Win %
Wimbledon A A 3R 4R SF 2R QF SF 0 / 6 20–6 76.92

Of course none of this matters except that a guy who has won the event six times is seeded behind a man who has never made a final. Oh well. Once again I'm just a lowly blogger so what do I know? I'm not even entitled to see transcripts from Grand Slam pressers according to the ITWA.

All I can say is that there are a lot of red being waved in front of some pretty irritable people. It's going to be an interesting tournament.

The 2011 Wimbledon Seedings

 EVENT 3 : Ladies' Singles

 1 Caroline WOZNIACKI (DEN) [1]
3 Vera ZVONAREVA (RUS) [3]
4 Na LI (CHN) [4]
5 Victoria AZARENKA (BLR) [5]
6 Maria SHARAPOVA (RUS) [6]
7 Francesca SCHIAVONE (ITA) [7]

8 Serena WILLIAMS (USA) [8]
9 Petra KVITOVA (CZE) [9]
10 Marion BARTOLI (FRA) [10]
11 Samantha STOSUR (AUS) [11]
12 Andrea PETKOVIC (GER) [12]
13 Svetlana KUZNETSOVA (RUS) [13]
14 Agnieszka RADWANSKA (POL) [14]
15 Anastasia PAVLYUCHENKOVA (RUS) [15]
16 Jelena JANKOVIC (SRB) [16]
17 Julia GOERGES (GER) [17]
18 Kaia KANEPI (EST) [18]
19 Ana IVANOVIC (SRB) [19]
20 Yanina WICKMAYER (BEL) [20]
21 Shuai PENG (CHN) [21]
22 Flavia PENNETTA (ITA) [22]
23 Shahar PEER (ISR) [23]

24 Venus WILLIAMS (USA) [24]
25 Dominika CIBULKOVA (SVK) [25]
26 Daniela HANTUCHOVA (SVK) [26]
27 Maria KIRILENKO (RUS) [27]
28 Jarmila GAJDOSOVA (AUS) [28]
29 Ekaterina MAKAROVA (RUS) [29]
30 Roberta VINCI (ITA) [30]
31 Bethanie MATTEK-SANDS (USA) [31]
32 Lucie SAFAROVA (CZE) [32]

EVENT 1 : Gentlemen's Singles

1 Rafael NADAL (ESP) [1]
2 Novak DJOKOVIC (SRB) [2]
3 Roger FEDERER (SUI) [3]
4 Andy MURRAY (GBR) [4]
5 Robin SODERLING (SWE) [5]
6 Tomas BERDYCH (CZE) [6]
7 David FERRER (ESP) [7]
8 Andy RODDICK (USA) [8]
9 Gael MONFILS (FRA) [9]
10 Mardy FISH (USA) [10]
11 Jurgen MELZER (AUT) [11]
12 Jo-Wilfried TSONGA (FRA) [12]
13 Viktor TROICKI (SRB) [13]
14 Stanislas WAWRINKA (SUI) [14]
15 Gilles SIMON (FRA) [15]
16 Nicolas ALMAGRO (ESP) [16]
17 Richard GASQUET (FRA) [17]
18 Mikhail YOUZHNY (RUS) [18]
19 Michael LLODRA (FRA) [19]
20 Florian MAYER (GER) [20]
21 Fernando VERDASCO (ESP) [21]
22 Alexandr DOLGOPOLOV (UKR) [22]
23 Janko TIPSAREVIC (SRB) [23]
24 Juan Martin DEL POTRO (ARG) [24]
25 Juan Ignacio CHELA (ARG) [25]
26 Guillermo GARCIA-LOPEZ (ESP) [26]
27 Marin CILIC (CRO) [27]
28 David NALBANDIAN (ARG) [28]
29 Nikolay DAVYDENKO (RUS) [29]
30 Thomaz BELLUCCI (BRA) [30]
31 Milos RAONIC (CAN) [31]
32 Marcos BAGHDATIS (CYP) [32]

Doubles Seeding Gentlemen

1 Bob BRYAN (USA) & Mike BRYAN (USA) [1]
2 Max MIRNYI (BLR) & Daniel NESTOR (CAN) [2]
3 Mahesh BHUPATHI (IND) & Leander PAES (IND) [3]
4 Rohan BOPANNA (IND) & Aisam-Ul-Haq QURESHI (PAK) [4]
5 Jurgen MELZER (AUT) & Philipp PETZSCHNER (GER) [5]
6 Michael LLODRA (FRA) & Nenad ZIMONJIC (SRB) [6]
7 Mariusz FYRSTENBERG (POL) & Marcin MATKOWSKI (POL) [7]
8 Robert LINDSTEDT (SWE) & Horia TECAU (ROU) [8]
9 Eric BUTORAC (USA) & Jean-Julien ROJER (AHO) [9]
10 Mark KNOWLES (BAH) & Lukasz KUBOT (POL) [10]
11 Wesley MOODIE (RSA) & Dick NORMAN (BEL) [11]
12 Juan Ignacio CHELA (ARG) & Eduardo SCHWANK (ARG) [12]
13 Marcelo MELO (BRA) & Bruno SOARES (BRA) [13]
14 Marcel GRANOLLERS (ESP) & Tommy ROBREDO (ESP) [14]
15 Marc LOPEZ (ESP) & David MARRERO (ESP) [15]
16 Daniele BRACCIALI (ITA) & Frantisek CERMAK (CZE) [16]

Doubles Seeding Ladies

1 Vania KING (USA) & Yaroslava SHVEDOVA (KAZ) [1]
2 Kveta PESCHKE (CZE) & Katarina SREBOTNIK (SLO) [2]
3 Liezel HUBER (USA) & Lisa RAYMOND (USA) [3]
4 Sania MIRZA (IND) & Elena VESNINA (RUS) [4]
5 Bethanie MATTEK-SANDS (USA) & Meghann SHAUGHNESSY (USA) [5]
6 Nadia PETROVA (RUS) & Anastasia RODIONOVA (AUS) [6]
7 Andrea HLAVACKOVA (CZE) & Lucie HRADECKA (CZE) [7]
8 Shuai PENG (CHN) & Jie ZHENG (CHN) [8]
9 Julia GOERGES (GER) & Maria KIRILENKO (RUS) [9]
12 Yung-Jan CHAN (TPE) & Monica NICULESCU (ROU) [12]
13 Daniela HANTUCHOVA (SVK) & Agnieszka RADWANSKA (POL) [13]
14 Cara BLACK (ZIM) & Shahar PEER (ISR) [14]
15 Chia-Jung CHUANG (TPE) & Su-Wei HSIEH (TPE) [15]

The Seeding Process


The seeds are the top 32 players on the ATP Entry System Position (ESP), BUT then rearranged on a surface-based system. Since 2002 a seeding committee has not been required for the Gentlemen’s Singles following an agreement made with the ATP. The seeding order is determined using an objective and transparent system to reflect more accurately an individual player’s grass court achievements: The formula is:
·      Take ESP points at 13 June 2011
·      Add 100% points earned for all grass court tournaments in the past 12 months
·      Add 75% points earned for the best grass court tournament in the 12 months before that.


The seeding order follows the WTA ranking list, except where in the opinion of the committee, a change is necessary to produce a balanced draw.
The only changes this year are Serena Williams and Venus Williams moving to 8 and 24 respectively.  This reflects the balance between their proven records and also their lack of competitive play in the past 12 months.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

How'm I Doing?

by Savannah

It doesn't matter who you are. If you've been away from your line of work for an extended period of time the rust will show when you come back.
It was the same thing with Venus Williams and
Serena Williams. Although both won their matches neither woman had an easy time and anyone who thought they shouldn't play Eastbourne and should just show up and take names at the AELTC next week had to come away with a distinctly different view.
Venus opted to play in traditional whites. No French maid get ups or illusion filled wonders for her return. Facing the woman she had to retire against in Melbourne, Andrea Petkovic Venus needed three sets and all of her guile to defeat Petko 5-7, 7-5, 6-3. For a minute it looked as if Venus would be unable to close out the match but experience and intelligence prevailed and Venus was able to win it.
It was Serena's task to face the one player who loves taking Williams sister's scalps in the form of Tsvetana Pironkova. Things looked bleak as Serena, the rust almost visibly falling from her body, dropped the first set 1-6 to the suddenly very thin Bulgarian woman. It is always a mistake to underestimate a champion though and Serena pulled herself together and while she still missed a lot of finesse shots got the serve and groundies working and won the last two sets 6-3, 6-4.

The Wimbledon seedings will be announced tomorrow and to say it's going to be interesting is putting it mildly. Hopefully I'll be able to post them here and be able to say something mildly coherent about them.

I should mention that there were very few empty seats for Serena's match. In fact the attendance for today was the highest in many a year for Eastbourne.

It should be mentioned here that Kim Clijsters lost to WTA #82
Romina Oprandi in straight sets today 7-6(5), 6-3. The commentator was implying that Kim was not interested in the match when she made no effort to return at least one drop shot I saw where she had an easy play at the net. For me the hint that Kim was out of it was when Oprandi casually lobbed Kim in the open court.

At her presser a tearful Clijsters said there was pain in the ankle she injured at a wedding a few weeks ago and that she was awaiting a medical evaluation before making any decisions. I don't doubt her ankle is bothering her which is why I am still surprised she played the French Open. All that slippery clay underfoot could only aggravate an ankle problem. Grass isn't any easier. I don't know what compelled her to play on a natural surface after a severe sprain but again we'll have to wait until tomorrow to see what Ms Clijsters will decide about her immediate future.

Tennis News

Adam Helfant announced that he will be stepping down from the helm of the ATP at the end of the year. His tenure will be remembered for it's uneventful nature, something that was needed after the slash and burn approach of his predecessor. I guess that means he did all right. After all the ATP secured it's brand remaining the better of the two tours in terms of information, technology and promotion and boasts the players that put buns in the seats.

I haven't heard any rumors about who wants to step into his shoes. I'm hoping that the person will not try to restart the wars between the United States and the rest of the world that marred and in the end caused the exit of his predecessor.

Weekend Winners

Sabine Lisicki won at Birmingham. She also got a WC, a much discussed WC, into the Wimbledon Main Draw. I'd say she had the best week on the WTA tour.
The Doubles crown at Birmingham went to Olga Govortsova and
Alla Kudryavtseva. It was played indoors due to inclement weather.
Caroline Wozniacki won her oddly timed hard court tourmament in Copenhagen. She even got her hair did up all purty for the final.
The doubles team of Johanna Larsson and Jasmin Woehr won the doubles in Copenhagen.
Please don't ask me what the trophy represents. The Alien Babies put out a press release saying it's not one of them.
Andy Murray won the title at Queens Club this year. Once again the folks at Men Overcompensating for Shortcomings issued a release saying no one affiliated with their organization, past or present, had anything to do with the size of the trophy.
There was no press release of any kind regarding the Doubles trophy held up by Bob and Mike Bryan.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

They're Back People

by Savannah


Wimbledon Qualifying begins this week but there will be only one story everyone associated with tennis will be following. Both
Venus Williams and Serena Williams will be playing the Wimbledon warmup at Eastbourne. No one is phrasing it this way but I will. Will their return save the WTA? Will quality tennis be brought back or will the one technique wonders continue to dominate the women’s tour?

I’ve already said that I don’t think they’re going to come back and tear up the courts beating any and everyone in sight. I think they’ll play well but will their will to win be enough to overcome months of non tournament play?

We last saw Venus trying to play through pain in Melbourne at the beginning of the year. Serena tried to come back too soon and now after a second surgery and rehab for her foot seems ready and she looks fit enough to play.

Keep in mind it's been four years since Serena, then ranked #81, stormed through the draw to win the Australian Open. Four years is a long time for an athlete.
Will Venus be able to once again impose her will on the lawns of SW19 and hold up the dish that bears her first name?

We'll know by this time next week won't we?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

News From The Top

by Savannah

It's not often that The Monogram, aka Roger Federer, gets called out for his shit but apparently his last minute withdrawal from Halle- I think his people notified the tournament director at 8p Monday June 6 - has totally pissed the TD off.
Ralph Weber leaves no doubt about how he feels.

The world No. 3 traditionally uses the grass-court event in Halle, Germany, as his warm-up tournament for Wimbledon, and last year signed a lifetime deal with the event.

However, Federer withdrew late on Monday, citing a groin strain. The five-time winner is a big draw for crowds in Halle and Ralph Weber is unhappy with Federer's conduct

"For me this is a personal disappointment that I cannot describe at the moment. I am stunned," Weber said. "Our plans for the past year have been nearly exclusively with Roger appearing.

"And he never gave us any indication that he had health problems. I clearly expressed my disappointment to his management. We expect that this lifetime contract will be fulfilled in person - and not just a declaration of intent."

I was taught by my mother that "Your Word is your bond". Is the TD calling bullshit to Federer's reason for withdrawal? Did the Monogram go to Halle and do some publicity as the tours ask top players to do when they withdraw from a tournament? It's just interesting to see someone call the hypebeast out.
Then there's the nasty and rather mean spirited "interview" by one Ms Lynn Barber of Rafael Nadal for the Times of London. Ms Barber is known for her acerbic approach and it may appeal to some. I don't mind a hard hitting interview. An interview is supposed to let the interviewee reveal his or herself by answering a series of questions aimed to solicit the worldview or opinions of the person being interviewed. Ms Barber seems to have been in "gotcha" mode from the start.

If anyone else tells me what a lovely lad Rafael Nadal is, I shall scream. He is not a lad, he has just turned 25, which is admittedly young, but he is in his ninth year on the professional tennis circuit, has won nine Grand Slam titles and is worth at least £68m. And I didn’t find him lovely at all. When I finally met him in his hotel suite in Rome (he was playing the Rome Masters), he was lying on a massage table with his flies undone affording me a good view of his Armani underpants — Armani being one of his many sponsors, natch.

No doubt at this point all his millions of fans will start screaming with jealousy and resolving to kill me, but honestly, kiddos, it was a bit rude. He just lay there glowering at me while I perched awkwardly on a nearby table until eventually his PR, Benito Perez-Barbadillo, fetched me a chair. Benito remained in the background and whenever Nadal didn’t like a question (which was pretty much every time I asked one) he asked Benito to “translate”, which meant they conferred in Spanish till the PR delivered some smooth PR-y answer. Nadal’s command of English seemed highly variable but never great.

Everyone kept telling me that Rafa was so tired and had had a bad day. But then I was so tired and had had a bad day too, traipsing round the boiling Foro Italico stadium, surviving on bottled water, watching his boring match, waiting for his press conference, then hanging about with mobs of screaming fans waiting for him to emerge from the players’ entrance.

He eventually came out with a posse of security men, signed a few autographs, and was whisked off in his car. I was told to follow and meet him at his hotel, which turned out to be some characterless sports/conference complex miles outside Rome — it could have been in Croydon. His bad day only consisted of playing one short tennis match and signing a few autographs, which I thought was what tennis players were paid to do.


Anyway, back to the interview. Since I had such an unfettered view of his underpants, I decided to ask about them. Frankly, I’m amazed any underwear company should want to sponsor Nadal, given that his on-court behaviour always screams “My pants are killing me!” He can’t go five minutes without fiddling with them; they seem to get sucked into his buttocks and then he has to pull them out. I remember the first time I saw him at Wimbledon thinking: “Gosh, he’s supposed to earn millions… you’d think he could afford some decent underwear by now.”

Why is he always fiddling with his underwear? ‘That is something I am doing all my career, something that I cannot control’

I asked whether his contract stipulated that he should wear Armani underwear on court and he said: “I don’t have to but I am very happy to wear Armani because their underwear is fantastic.”

Then why is he always fiddling with it? “That is something I am doing all my career, something that I cannot control.” Has he ever tried to stop? “It is difficult for me because it bothers me all the time, and I play with different underwears — long, short — but it is impossible to stop.”

Perhaps it’s just another of those Rafa rituals that all his fans adore. Every time he comes on court, he waves at the crowd, sits down, gets his water bottles out of his bag, takes a sip from each, then carefully lines them up so that their labels all face precisely the same way.

It takes a long time and his opponent is meanwhile standing by the net, waiting for the coin toss, getting quite irritated, I imagine. Eventually, when Rafa has faffed and fiddled enough, he leaps to his feet and does a sort of Superman swoop across the court and starts jumping up and down in his opponent’s face while the umpire tosses his coin. Then he races to the baseline as if he’s dying to start the match and his opponent has been unfairly delaying things. The fans love it. What can I say?
I asked if he suffered from OCD, but of course this required translation and much conferring with his PR and produced the eventual answer: “It is something you start to do that is like a routine. When I do these things it means I am focused, I am competing — it’s something I don’t need to do but when I do it, it means I’m focused.” Does he have other rituals, perhaps in the locker room, before the match? “I always have a cold shower.” Any particular rituals before he goes to sleep? “No. I have to have the TV or computer on, but I turn it off if I wake up. What I normally do is have dinner, do some work with Rafael, my physio, then sleep.” Gripping stuff.
I asked if his history of knee injuries meant he would be more crippled when he is 50 than someone who had never played tennis. He said: “For sure. When you play 11 months of the year, mostly on hard courts, that’s what happens, yes.” So, it’s a hard life, and a very, very unnatural one. The players live inside a bubble surrounded by these great phalanxes of middle-aged minders, big-bellied habitués of the hospitality tent who don’t seem to have anything much to do except talk on their mobiles. If required to do so by a journalist like me, they will effuse about their “boy” and what a lovely lad he is, and how he loves his football and his fishing and is so close to his family, etc, etc, wheeling out their tired old stereotype of what a lovely lad consists of, and you think, hang on, your “boy” could eat 10 of you for breakfast — why do you talk so patronisingly about him?

And why do you find it so remarkable that he is still close to his family and still sees his old friends? Presumably because you’re the sort of sleazeball who dropped your old friends and family the minute you moved up in the world.

One journalist found it incredible that Rafa still had the same mobile phone a year after winning Wimbledon that he had the year before. Rafa (good man) said it was a perfectly good phone, it worked, why change it? But the journalist seemed to take this as evidence of an almost saintly degree of unworldliness, right up there with the Dalai Lama.
Anyway, I asked if he was going to marry The Girlfriend and he said flatly, No.

Me: “No??!!??!!”

Rafa: “Not now, no. I don’t have any plans in that way.”

Me: “Do you mean you’ve split up?”

Rafa: “No. I don’t talk about the girlfriend in public, but I have the same girlfriend since many years.”

Me: “When do you meet?”

Rafa: “Her house is very close to my house, so when I am in Majorca I see her, and when she has holidays sometimes she comes to the tournaments, but she cannot follow the tour around because she has to do her work. [She works for a big insurance company.] She has her life and I have my life.”

Me: “Do you think she’ll wait for you? To get married when you finish tennis?”

Rafa: “I didn’t ask her to.”

Me: “But if you only see her — what? — 30 days a year, it can’t be a very fulfilling relationship?”

Nadal, for the first time in our interview, turns his full attention on me, a laser stare, and for a second I can imagine what it must be like to stand on the baseline waiting to receive his serve.

“But do you care about my relationship?”

Well, no, I have to admit, as the ace whizzes past me, of course I don’t give a toss about his relationship, I’m just trying to interview him. Somehow this breaks the tension, and we both laugh.

Rafa: “I understand your point, but I never talk about my girlfriend. I have a fantastic relationship with her, we understand each other. It is not a problem for her if I travel every week, and for me not a problem if, when I am in Majorca, she has to work all day.”

Me: “Do you talk on the phone though?”

Rafa: “No. When I am in a tournament I have to concentrate. Sure, I talk every day with her.”

Me: “I’m confused now.”

Rafa: “Forget about my girlfriend.”

Me: “Do you call your mother every day?”

Rafa: “Yes. My mother, my sister, my father, everybody.”

I am confused.

I can only record that there was a big difference in the enthusiasm with which he said he phoned his mother and sister every day, and whatever he was saying, or not saying, about his girlfriend. I’ll be pretty amazed if he ever marries her, though.

I think you get the idea. The good people at NadalNews posted the entire interview on their site. To read it at the source you need to be a paid subscriber

As I read it I knew that the woman doing the "interview" was "of a certain age". Sure enough she was born in 1944. She has also had a "difficult" life which is detailed in her Wikipedia profile. I'm sure sports figures will be lining up to have a sit down with her.

I think most of my readers are intelligent enough to draw their own conclusions about the tone and point of view of this piece and don't need me to spell it out.
Then there is Jarmila "Jarka" Gajdosova formerly Jarmila Groth. Jarmila suffered what was apparently a painful split from her husband Australian player Sam Groth and at 24 finds herself back in the game.
Some are calling her out for posting pictures like the ones above on her Twitter account. They also imply that she's out to get Thomaz Bellucci, the player from Brazil. Did I mention she's 24? Did I mention Bellucci is 24? Are they both adults? I don't see why some got their drawers tight about this. Then again maybe I do. Both Jarka and Thomaz are free to follow their libido's wherever they go. It's really none of our business.

There is one thing I should mention. The ATP issued a lifetime ban for match fixing to Austria's Daniel Koellerer. This happened during the first week of the French Open. Three instances were cited. Koellerer who was known as "Crazy Dani" was a fixture on the Challenger circuit. Knowing how the ATP rolls for them to issue a lifetime ban and a fine means Crazy Dani was caught red handed so to speak. Good work.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

2011 French Open - A Look Back

by Savannah

I am a clay court tennis junkie. I was like this before a man grounded in clay court knowledge and technique became my favorite player. I like the long rallies, the physical endurance required to survive them, the mental acuity needed to stay sharp and focused during a match that will last at least an hour and the sense in this viewer that something has been accomplished at the end of a match played on the dirt. Grass and hard court tennis have their virtues but it's clay that requires the whole player be involved.

So it was with joy I woke up at 5a on the first day of the French Open looking forward to heavy balls, flying clay, and dirty players. Five minutes into the first match I was asking myself what the hell was wrong with the balls? They were flying like a golden snitch in a game of Quidditch. It wasn't long before the commentators were talking about the change of balls this year and how it would affect the tournament. I was asking myself how could Babolat whose equipment is used by the top players in the sport sabotage said players by introducing a ball more suited to a hard court than clay?

During the early rounds the commentators reported that players were complaining about how the balls played and you could see how they affected play when shots a player normally made in his/her sleep went flying off the court. But these men and women are professionals and while the balls were still playing crazy the players got used to them and moved on.
Li and Schiavo FO 2011
In many ways this was a historic French Open. When it got underway there was the chance that there would be a ranking change at the top of the men's tour and that a self professed "cow on ice" could possibly win it all on the women's side.

The courts were playing more like hard courts than traditional clay courts in the dry warm weather and the hard courters made the best of it. In the end though all of the finalists could be classified as all court players with two having a preference for clay.

In the women's final you had a thiry year old playing a twenty nine year old. There wasn't a blonde ponytail in sight either. The one thing I felt going in was that the final would feature tennis. There would be no screeching, no nearly hundred mile an hour serves, just tennis.
blog Li Na FO Chamipion 2011
Francesca Schiavone gave it her best but Li Na, who had come so close in Melbourne had decided she was not going to lose. She was not going to let the moment overtake her and cause doubts. She'd been in the final of a Grand Slam and wasn't going to waste her second opportunity. She is 29 after all.

So will the WTA do going forward? How will it market it's best players or will it do that at all? Will they finally begin to market the sport of tennis as played by women or will it continue it's tits and ass promotion of women's tennis? You can say that they don't use tits and ass to push Kim Clijsters but she may be the exception to the rule and that "only woman in the world ever to give birth" schtick is getting old. Ana Ivanovicstill features prominently in WTA ads (I know she's not a blonde) but where is she in terms of her tennis? With Wimbledon coming up its going to be interesting to see and hear what the WTA does. Serena Williams will return at Eastbourne next week but I don't expect much from her there or at Wimbledon. The same goes for Venus Williams. You can practice all you want but lack of match play shows no matter who you are. They may both prove me wrong. If they do then the WTA is in worse shape than I thought.
What about the ATP? What about it? Can you say the level of tennis is high? Yes. Can you say every man in the top ten brings a different style and personality to the court? Yes. Does the ATP market the athleticism of it's top athletes not their hotness? Yes. Just imagine how much hype Feliciano Lopez would get at the hands of the WTA promotional people?
Do the rivalries at the top need to be hyped? Not too much. The ATP is more available not only on television but on the net. The players at the top play a much more highly developed game than the women do. There are ball bashers in the ATP - they're everywhere. But not so much in the ATP top ten any more.
Look at the state of American tennis, home of the ball bashers. There was a lot of talk about the young American Bjorn Fratangelo who won the Boys title in Paris but I haven't heard the hype around him (yet) that has hampered Melanie Oudin who may have moved into the main tour much too soon.
Unless you follow the Junior Circuit you probably have never heard of Ons Jabeur, a teenager from Tunisia. Imagine that. A young woman from the African continent won the Junior girls crown. Is that historic or what? Not much hype around her right now either. Lets hope that she's allowed to develop as a player and is not held back by outside influences. Everyone is screaming "The Chinese are coming" but what if it's "The Africans are coming" too? Axis members will have to have their dosages increased.
FO 2011
Special mention has to go to Puerto Rico's Monica Puig. She's been tearing up the junior circuit and as you can see she does not like losing. It should be noted that legally Puerto Rican's are American citizens but compete as Puerto Rican's. If you need background on this Google will be a big help. I'm not here to talk about the politics of that situation.
The United States ended up shut out in doubles as well. Daniel Nestor and Max Mirnyi won that title after the Bryan Twins were defeated.
Australia had something to cheer about as Casey Dellacqua and Scott Lipsky won the Mixed Doubles competition.
The women's doubles pairing of Czech players Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka unseeded in Paris, walked away with the women's doubles crown.
Esther Vergeer continued her winning streak in singles and teamed up with countrywoman Sharon Walraven to win doubles but there was a new men's champion.
Maikel Scheffers, another player from the Netherlands, won a Grand Slam for the first time.
Irina Khromacheva of Russia and Maryna Zanevsa of Ukraine were the girls doubles queens.
Andres Artunedo Martinavarr and Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain took the Junior boys doubles title.

So again where do the tours stand looking towards Wimbledon and the US Open? The women's tour looks the same to me. You have younger less mature players dominating the lesser tournaments (non Grand Slam events) and the more mature players competing for Grand Slam titles. Nothing will change until and unless the ranking system is changed.
Shingo Kunieda of Japan and Nicolas Peifer of France won the men's doubles wheelchair competition.

As for the ATP the competition at the top rages on. Unfortunately American men will be left out of that conversation as they fight to maintain a toehold in the top ten.

Still at the end of the day a Grand Slam is remembered for its finals. In that respect I think we have a winner. There were no blow outs. No one went ass up and everyone who made a final played to the best of their ability overcoming wind, some rain and golden snitches. There's already grumbling about the grass at Wimbledon being slower than the courts at Roland Garros. We'll see in a little less than two weeks won't we?