Thursday, July 28, 2011

Lazing On a Sunny Afternoon...

by Savannah

"And I love to live so pleasantly,
Live this life of luxury, lazing on a sunny afternoon
In the summertime..."

Ray Davies of the Kinks wrote those lyrics eons ago in today's time measurement to describe ennui in the face of semi tragic goings on.
The time after Wimbledon for me is one of rest, of mentally getting away from tennis and rejoining the real world. You know, that one where tennis isn't the be all and end all of existence?

Needless to say I'm never totally successful. After a brief interruption the European summer clay court swing continues while the United States prepares for its Lollapalooza, the US Open Series.
Since the big boys and girls stay in Europe until forced to come to the States - the women by Stanford and San Diego/Carlsbad, the men by the Rogers Cup, the US Open series becomes a showcase for American players like Mardy Fish who won Atlanta last week.
The doubles at Atlanta were won by the team of Alex Bogomolov Jr. and Matt Ebden, an American/Aussie team.
Meanwhile in Europe the players were slipping and sliding on red clay to their hearts content.
Gilles Simon won the singles crown in Hamburg.
The team of Marach and Peya won the doubles crown.
The WTA was playing on hard courts in the newly minted tournament at Baku in Azerbaijan.
Vera Zvonareva who was coming back from injury is the initial champion at Baku.
The team of Koryttseva and Poutchek took the doubles honors.

Creative Tennis Journalism

I mean absolutely no disrespect to last weeks winners when I say that it was a slow week for tennis news. That still doesn't excuse certain "journalists" making shit up to try and generate some excitement.

I started seeing posts on Twitter and elsewhere saying that Maria Sharapova wanted a piece of Serena Williams. The two will potentially face each other at Stanford, a WTA Premier event, and you can't call yourself a tennis fan if you're not at least mildly interested in seeing that match. You don't have to be a fan of either player to want to see how Serena, who has played some WTT matches on her way back to the main tour, will play and how Maria, who did well at Wimbledon, will rise to the challenge. Maria throwing shade at Serena is news though and while I wasn't aware of Sharapova ever doing this before I said to myself that a little hype for the women's tour isn't a bad thing.

But I had my doubts so I went looking for the transcript of the interview where Sharapova took off the gloves and laid into Serena.
This is what I found via ASAP Sports.

Q. Now, you've come back from injury a couple years ago, and Serena is now making her attempt at a comeback. What do you see in her game right now? If you were to give her any advice about how to play this summer, what would you say?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I don't think I'm the one to give advice to her. (Laughter.) She's an incredible champion and she's been through injuries before and has gotten herself back. Been a few more injuries than I have in my career, so I think she has it already figured out.

Q. Talking about Serena reminded me, if she comes into the Open unseeded, is that fair for the other players? If you drew her in the first round, how tough would that be?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I guess I went through that. I got some tough draws in the beginning of not being seeded and ranked very high. It's just something you have to go through. It's almost the luck of the draw as well.

Q. Is it unfair to the seeded player, for example, that if you're seed fourth or fifth and she unseeded and you got her in the first round...

Q. It would be tough for you, wouldn't it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, but I've always had a philosophy: If you can't beat them in the first round, why do you think you can beat them later on.

Q. But a lot of the top player kind of like to play your way into the tournament, I guess. I guess that will be the luck of the draw.

Q. Ideally though, you wouldn't want to see her name across from yours in the first round, would you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: To be honest, I love playing against her. We've had very, very tough matches against each other. You know, I don't have a great record against her, and I would love to change that. There is no doubt I would love to play her this summer at some point.

Maybe it's me. All I hear Maria saying is that it's technically unfair for Serena to be unseeded and playing top players early rather than later. I hear her saying that she would like to improve her record against Serena and is not at all going to try and duck out on whatever the draw gods mete out this summer. If that's throwing shade tennis writers need to get out more. I bet more smack is talked on "Toddlers & Tiaras".
Then again I guess it's easier to make shit up than talk about why the man ranked #1 in the ATP is posing for pictures like this. I guess you could argue that the weight should fall on Janko Tipsarevic for pouring fuel on the fire by implying that Rafael Nadal would pay big bucks for someone to do this to Novak Djokovic. The man who until recently represented both Rafa and Djokovic demanded that the picture be removed from Tipsarevic's Facebook page and it was but not before it had gone viral in the tennis world.

Is this what we have to look forward to after the class acts that preceded the new man at the top? No matter how Roger Federer felt publicly he never did anything like this. I don't know who is representing Djokovic now but if something like this was allowed to get out he or she is asleep at the wheel.
Djokovic's fans are saying people are overreacting, that this is just two guys playing around. Playing around with guns is not "playing around" for many people, me included.

The picture has also ignited a virtual war between fans of Rafa and fans of Djokovic. Rafa fans are highly upset about him being dragged into something that is strictly between the two Serbians. To my knowledge Rafa has had no public response. Ironically neither have the tennis journalists who will go to any lengths to make sure new media practitioners have limited or no access to their turf. They'd rather make up a feud out of whole cloth than deal with why the top ranked player in the world is publicly seen playing with guns.

End Note

The WTA players at Stanford took time to pose for this picture. Great move ladies.


Yolita said...

I think you don't need to tell two guys who grew up in a country ravaged by war how serious guns are. People cope in different ways and Novak's way of coping is through humour, he's always fooling around: from his impersonations, his eye-patch, his showing up as 007, his posting a video pretending to be a kung-fu fighter, hanging from a tree, etc, etc.
You may find his humour not funny, in this case, definitely not in the best of tastes, but let's not make more of it than it is: a tasteless joke that backfired.
It takes all sorts, to each his own. Personally, I find it refreshing when I get a glimpse of the real person behind the player, instead of a carefully prepared public persona.
And I'm not alone, as evidenced by the love Gulbis got after his interview with James LaRosa: wonderful to see a guy speaking his mind, and not reciting innocuous platitudes that will go down well with sponsors and a certain portion of the public.
Novak tried for a while to fit that stuffy mould of how people believe a champion should behave. It destroyed his game because it destroyed his enjoyment of the game. Then he decided to be himself, have fun and be irreverent, always true to his warm, nice, playful nature. The results are here for all to see.

TennisAce said...

As someone who is also from a country where gun crimes have destroyed whole communities I find the "joke" in exceptionally poor taste. FWIW you can be a serious pro but also fun loving. You only have to read how fellow pros talk abt Fed and Rafa. Novak has a huge chip on his shoulder and feels the need to go over the top at all times. I bet you any money that if Fed had done that the cries from all over would go on into infinity. You only have to look at the Forstmann case to see what I mean.

TennisAce said...

As for the comments from Pova, I don't know what people expected her to say. I actually wanted a knock down drag out match, but for that to happen you actually need both people to come prepared. It was not to be. The Lisicki match was even worse. Serena is just on another level and she has not even reached Grand Slam performance form yet.