Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Well That Was One Hell of a Week...

by Savannah

Dear Serena

Please let your cook know that I would like my crow oven fried please. And I'd like a rather large serving of it.



At some point during the semifinal of the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, South Carolina Brad Gilbert Tweeted the line of the year. Paraphrasing he wanted to let Samantha Stosur know that the keys to the woodshed were being held for her. Serena Williams let it be known that while she is not in the Golden Circle she is still a tennis force to be reckoned with. I don't think Samantha knew what hit her. Harnessing her power and playing with the precision of a surgeon Serena cut her to shreds, beat her like she stole something. As long time tennis fans know the danger of a dominant first set is that the player can lose focus and let their opponent into the match in the second set. That most certainly did not happen to Serena.

But there was more to it than that. Sascha Baijin, Serena's hitting partner, persuaded Serena to mix Luxillon strings with gut to help cut down on the errors off her racquet. She listened to him and it looks as if the new stringing arrangement is working well.

But it doesn't stop there. Serena played a mature game, a thinking person's game. The woman who used to blow her opponents off the court with raw power still blows them away. But the power is now tempered with nuance and subtlety, a deftness and lightness of touch that has developed in her game over the last few years. She and her coach, father Richard Williams, have tinkered with her approach to her matches from what I can see, and Serena, unlike some of her peers, has listened to the suggestions of those around her and done what has to be done to continue building her legend.

After Polona Hercog embarrassed herself and women's tennis by going ass up to Lucie Safarova in the other semi final (I don't know how she wasn't fined for malingering. She made absolutely no effort to play Lucie) I had to stop myself from saying they should just hand the trophy to Serena. You never know what is going to happen in a tennis match so it's never a good idea to assume an outcome.
It was apparent by five minutes into the final that Serena's concentration was not broken. I do hope that Samantha left the keys for Lucie.

I don't want to get carried away. Some of the American announcers started raving about Serena's prospects during the spring clay court season in Europe. The surface they played on in Charleston didn't allow for sliding. It's not the same as the red clay of Europe. Serena has won the French before. Can she win it again? Serena can do anything she puts her mind to.


The Power of the Suit

France overreached.

I said as soon as I heard itthat France would play it's Davis Cup tie against the United States at the Monte Carlo country club. The French players are not good clay courters. Their stars, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon are much better on hard courts. The United States reputation and record on dirt is abysmal. No American even bothers to come to play Monte Carlo.

But Jim Courier called bullshit on all that and once again his team of big serving hard courters stunned France walking away with a 3-2 win.
Are people quaking in their boots now about American's on clay? Should John Isner have stayed in France and played Monte Carlo with fresh legs or was it wise to have him fly back to Houston, Texas for the US Clay Court Championships? Time will tell. I can say that Courier is getting something out of this Davis Cup team that no one in their right mind would've thought possible.

Maybe it's the suit.

This and That

I'm still waiting to see what Victoria Azarenka gets from adding Amelie Mauresmo to her team. Tactics on clay? I don't think so. Strength of mind? Let's not go there. The French crowd on her side so that there are no more embarrassing moments like in Miami? ::Shrug:: This is one I really don't get.


Svetlana Kuznetsova has fired coach Olga Morozova and hired Israeli Amos Mansdorf. This move I understand. Sveta's game seems to have gone backwards. When Sveta is on she can play with the best of them. I hope Mansdorf gets her back on track.

The USTA is looking for officials. If you think you're up for it click HERE for details on how to apply and educational information.

Sergiy Stakhovsky gave an interview in Russian that was posted on a Ukrainian site. I think that interview was the most read interview ever given by a tennis player. The Russian was translated by a tennishead with the Twitter handle @Anna_TennisFan. I'm going to quote from her translation picking up where Stakhovsky is talking about Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal and Player Council politics.

About Nadal’s offense with Federer…
He wasn’t offended by Federer, exactly. He was disappointed that his ideas – useful for the tour, as he thinks – aren’t heard. It concerns the 2-year ranking, among others. But if you start that, then every player needs to vote, and that’s not entirely correct. Look: in today’s pay for tennis players’ efforts, I personally support this new change. It protects my ranking. The earnings of most players are, really, laughable.
Going back to Nadal: the Grand Slam tournaments, as we know, pay the players an abnormally low percent of their earnings. For instance, the US Open spends 4-6% of their profit on prize money. The ATP tournaments – around 30%. Since 2004, the prizes in the big tournaments rose less than the inflation.

You lose the reason to enter the top-100. If you travel with a coach – you’ll be in a small “plus”, $20-30 thousand per year. And those are the 100 best people in this sport all over the world. If you take the 100th soccer player, the 100th golfer, any sport that’s on TV – their salaries will be immeasurably greater. Even the 100th soccer player in Ukraine earns more.

The Slams are holding everything, and if they start sharing their profits, it’ll make sense to make it to the top-100. Yes, it will look vulgar if a player who lost in the first round, makes $50-100 thousand, but how much he invested in himself to even play there. To fly to Australia – that’s already a feat. It’s 24 hours. I’m not risking flying economy there, it’s just unrealistic.
If the Slams make concessions, I’m against a 2-year ranking. Because many players will need two years to make it in the top-100. And now people are really working on it. Now, the 70- or the 200-ranked player – are the same.
Do you often communicate with Federer?
I do it constantly.

And what’s he like?
He’s a good person, but too neutral for my taste. He’s too Swiss. He wants to keep out of any bad stories too much. When players want to change something, he looks at it too passively, because it can harm his image.

I respect Nadal more in that context, because he openly supports the players’ interests.

Needless to say that last part has Federer fans up in arms. But what is surprising is that Nikolay Davydenko said the same things back in January with little or no fanfare.

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP)—Roger Federer’s reticence to join other players in voicing complaints about issues affecting the men’s game came under fire again at the Australian Open on Monday.

Former No. 3-ranked Nikolay Davydenko said he didn’t understand why the 16-time Grand Slam champion wasn’t supporting the push to address player grievances, including the schedule and the distribution of prize money.

Davydenko’s remarks came a day after Rafael Nadal criticized his Swiss rival for sitting back while others speak out and “burn themselves.”

“I don’t know why Roger is not supporting the players,” Davydenko said. “Because he don’t want … any problems. He’s nice guy. He’s winning Grand Slams. He’s from Switzerland. He’s perfect.

“He don’t want to do anything, he just try to be an outsider from this one.”

For the second time in six months, rumors of a possible strike emerged following Saturday’s player meeting in Melbourne. Davydenko said a strike was still a distant prospect, but that the players would meet again at the Indian Wells Masters tournament in March.

“The ATP should try to do something between now and Indian Wells,” he said. “For sure, all the top 100 players will go there and just see what will be changed.”

The Russian said he did not support the idea of a shorter season, a change that is backed by Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, but he agrees that prize money has not increased in line with growing profits at Grand Slam tournaments.

Am I surprised? Not at all. Rafa's resignation from his position on the Council makes more sense now but that's all I can see that is "new". It looks as if the tennis press did all it could to ignore the story. Enrico Mariariva began tweeting Google translations of the interview and they were retweeted and retweeted until fans began to ask to read the original in both Russian and in an English translation. The time is gone when any so called media can ignore a story. News will out and if/when it hits Twitter it's game over. This is both a good and bad thing - some false rumors have gone viral on Twitter - but information on these matters is vital to tennis fans who plan months in advance to attend a tournament especially a major. Journalists aren't supposed to be mouthpieces for the powers that be alone. They are supposed to report the goings on on their beats. This is not done by those covering tennis.

For the entire Stakhovsky interview click HERE

For the full Davydenko remarks here is the LINK

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