It was a given that Marion Bartoli would fight back. Some complained that quarterfinalist Maria Sharapova didn't, that she was intimidated and tight. Semi finalist Sabine Lisicki, the flame thrower of the new generation put up a bit of a fight but in the end she went down with a bit of a whimper. The newly slim - not yet svelte-Bartoli was a horse of a different color. With all her twists and turns and jumping up and down it's easy to overlook her ability to play with power. All the moving around is a disguise, a way for Marion to distract and confuse while she blows you off the court. She defeated a just returning to play Serena at Wimbledon and if you think both players didn't have that match in mind I don't know what to tell you.
The match was played at noon California time, a time probably dictated by broadcast requirements, and Serena, who was playing her first day match came out a little slow. The sun was obviously bothering her from one side and Marion looked as if she was going to run away with the first set. If she had been playing anyone else, one of the new jacks perhaps, that would've been the case.
Instead Serena worked herself into that first set. Ignoring the scoreline she used a service motion she's never used in public before and while it didn't quite work showed that she was thinking, in the match and looking for her chance. Her Dad was there but she didn't call him down to discuss strategy or bitch. This is the Williams way.
Marion on the other hand asked to talk to her coach/father Walter when she was up 5-4. He seemed to give her a pep talk and she seemed satisfied. When she looked up again she had lost five straight games.
Marion is not of the old or new generation. She is a player unto herself. But reflexively she asked for a consult she didn't need. And that tightened her up mentally and physically. There was some discussion about her hand and she kept shaking her right arm out but when she finally won a game she was striking the ball without any problem. For many that is the problem with Maid Marion. Again her goal is to obfuscate, to distract. Serena didn't go for it.
There is talk about Serena being a favorite for the US Open. There are some who say you'll have to pry the trophy out of Kim Clijsters cold hands. Clijsters had not played since she showed up for the French Open and was quickly dispatched. This is her strategy. She comes into the US Open fresh as a daisy while everyone else has been playing as full a schedule as they can entering Flushing Meadows. Toronto and Cincinnati are Mandatory for WTA players. So was San Diego. It's a given in my book that Clijsters will have a very nice draw in New York just like she always has. Look for Serena, who will be unseeded, to have to face murderers row.
I'm not making Serena my favorite for the US Open. She is playing much better than she was in Paris and London but her father says she's only 60% back. You ignore Richard Williams comments about his daughters at your peril.
I didn't see the final at Umag in Croatia but I did see the semifinal between Juan Carlos Ferrero and Aleksandr Dolgopolov the day before. Dolgopolov shut down any and every idea Juanqui had defeating the defending champion. It seems the man with the best hair in the ATP had relaxed and was playing a style he hadn't played before. He made Ferrero look and maybe feel old. It was no surprise to me to hear that he defeated local favorite Marin Cilic. And yeah, that is one hell of a trophy. And no I ain't goin' there.
Nadia Petrova wore a kit by Ellesse and found her way to a trophy ceremony for the first time since 2008 at the inaugural CitiOpen held in a suburb of Washington DC. In the middle of the US Open series the WTA stages an inaugural event that is not part of that series allowing Tennis Channel to totally diss their product during an intriguing semi final match between Shahar Pe'er and Tamira Paszek and switch without an announcement that they were going to do so, to the semifinal between Ryan Harrison and Mardy Fish in Los Angeles.I finished watching the match online and decided that that was the last time I would invest in a woman's match on TC. Even though Harrison made it interesting there was no way Fish wasn't going to win that match. It was unclear who would win the women's semifinal. Add to that the heat and the length of the match and it was a better match to watch. Then again, who cares if two non Americans were playing a match that some suit decided should have been over in about two hours right? Much more exciting to see the "Alpha Male" of American tennis playing the up and comer, the future of American tennis right?
But I digress. I'm glad Nadia, retro kit and all, won a tournament. Sure Pe'er, after a three hour match was fried, but a win is a win even if US television decides your match is unimportant.
Marcel Granollers won the all Spanish final at Gstaad defeating the newly shorn Fernando Verdasco. Once again the PR firm representing the Alien Babies protested the use of one of their species gestation device. And once again their protests fell on deaf ears.
Ernests Gulbis doesn't fit the US tennis establishments view of a player from Eastern Europe. As tennis heads know all players from Eastern Europe have crawled out of their hovels and play tennis to the best of their abilities because they don't want to go back to their shacks with dirt floors and outdoor toilet facilities. Like many American players Ernests comes from a "very wealthy family" and his fits and starts on the court have been attributed to his "not needing to play" tennis. After all he flies to and from events in a private plane they always say.
None of this gets mentioned when someone like Sam Querrey, who also comes from a very wealthy family, plays. Last I checked Andy Roddick's family isn't destitute and neither is Mardy Fish's family but again I digress. They were blathering on about Ernests father and how he made his money and only Darren Cahill was able to shut them up and insert some talk about the tennis into his commentary. He couldn't do anything about Pam Shriver making up injuries for Mardy Fish when it became clear he wasn't going to pound Ernests into the pavement and win the match. The biggest question was whether Ernests would hold his nerve and defeat the visibly fatigued Fish.
The only thing Gulbis did wrong, and I'm sure his coach Guillermo Canas ripped him a new one about it, was when serving to close out his service game up 40-0 in the second set Gulbis served and before the ball landed was walking off the court. Gulbis hasn't earned the right to do shit like that and even if he did think he has swagger you don't do that. It's a bush league move and all it did was piss Fish off and force Gulbis to have to serve twice for the match. He closed it out the second time but he's going to have to check his ego at the gate going forward.
Xavier Malisse and Mark Knowles won the doubles crown in Los Angeles.
Sania Mirza and Yaroslava Shevedova took the doubles crown at the CitiOpen.
Maria Kirilenko and Victoria Azarenka were the doubles queens at Stanford.
The team of Cermak and Polasek were the doubles winners at Gstaad.
Bolelli and Fognini were the champions at Umag.