Friday, July 27, 2012

Olympics on the Grass

by Savannah

I've taken a loooonnnnngggg break from blogging, a break that was not motivated by illness but malaise. I don't think the tennis world will fall off it's axis if one lone fan, me, is totally disgusted with it. In the end I'm still a fan and as a fan I feel my opinion, never forget that this is an opinion blog, deserves to be heard. So whether you like it or not I'm back bitches. Deal with it.

I didn't get to talk about Wimbledon but with the release of the draws yesterday I think the same issues are relevant.

On the men's side Wimbledon was meant to be a coronation and it was. With the Monogram not having to face any serious competition on his cakewalk to the final where he knew his nemesis would not be waiting my opinion that a soft draw doesn't make a champion was disproved. I think it's about to be disproved again unless something drastic happens. Here is the men's singles Olympic Draw.

Switzerland FEDERER R vs Colombia FALLA A
France BENNETEAU J vs Russian Federation YOUZHNY M
Romania UNGUR A vs Luxembourg MULLER G
Uzbekistan ISTOMIN D vs Spain VERDASCO F

United States of America ISNER J vs Belgium ROCHUS O
Taipei (Chinese Taipei) LU YH vs Tunisia JAZIRI M
Slovakia LACKO L vs Croatia KARLOVIC I

Czech Republic STEPANEK R vs Russian Federation DAVYDENKO N
Australia TOMIC B vs Japan NISHIKORI K

France SIMON G vs Kazakhstan KUKUSHKIN M
Poland KUBOT L vs Bulgaria DIMITROV G
Italy SEPPI A vs United States of America YOUNG D
Croatia DODIG I vs Argentina DEL POTRO JM

Czech Republic BERDYCH T vs Belgium DARCIS S
Colombia GIRALDO S vs United States of America HARRISON R
Russian Federation BOGOMOLOV JR A vs Argentina BERLOCQ C

France GASQUET R vs Netherlands HAASE R
Switzerland WAWRINKA S vs Great Britain MURRAY A

Japan ITO T vs Canada RAONIC M
Russian Federation TURSUNOV D vs Spain LOPEZ F
Belgium GOFFIN D vs Argentina MONACO J

Croatia CILIC M vs Austria MELZER J
Australia HEWITT L vs Ukraine STAKHOVSKY S
United States of America RODDICK A vs Slovakia KLIZAN M

Notice that Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Andy Murray and Andy Roddick are all in the bottom half. What's that? You say David Ferrer is in the top half? Yeah and? Ferrer's head to head versus Federer is 0-13. Yes you read that right. Ferrer has never beaten the Monogram in 13 meetings. Don't believe it?
Here's where I got the information. So I repeat there is absolutely no one in the top half who, on paper, can stop Monogram from reaching the final. They'll all be in the bottom half knocking each other off. With no Rafael Nadal looming Monogram can high step his way to the final.

Yes I saw that Julian Benneteau played him tough during Wimbledon and in a best of three format until the final there won't be a three set comeback. Can Benneteau do it again? Who knows?

As for the women there are some interesting matches. Then again it's always a crap shoot with the ladies isn't it?

Belarus AZARENKA V vs Romania BEGU IC
Georgia TATISHVILI A vs Liechtenstein VOGT S
People's Republic of China ZHENG J vs Russian Federation PETROVA N

Italy ERRANI S vs United States of America WILLIAMS V
New Zealand ERAKOVIC M vs Canada WOZNIAK A
Kazakhstan VOSKOBOEVA G vs Hungary BABOS T
Czech Republic CETKOVSKA P vs Germany KERBER A

United States of America WILLIAMS S vs Serbia JANKOVIC J
Italy SCHIAVONE F vs Czech Republic ZAKOPALOVA K
Sweden ARVIDSSON S vs Russian Federation ZVONAREVA V

People's Republic of China LI N vs Slovakia HANTUCHOVA D v
France CORNET A vs Austria PASZEK T
Great Britain KEOTHAVONG A vs Denmark WOZNIACKI C

Belgium CLIJSTERS K vs Italy VINCI R
Hungary SZAVAY A vs Great Britain BALTACHA E
United States of America MCHALE C vs Serbia IVANOVIC A

Germany LISICKI S vs Tunisia JABEUR O
Romania HALEP S vs Kazakhstan SHVEDOVA Y
Croatia MARTIC P vs Czech Republic SAFAROVA L
Israel PEER S vs Russian Federation SHARAPOVA M

Czech Republic KVITOVA P vs Ukraine BONDARENKO K
Taipei (Chinese Taipei) HSIEH SW vs People's Republic of China PENG S
Bulgaria PIRONKOVA T vs Slovakia CIBULKOVA D

Russian Federation KIRILENKO M vs Colombia DUQUE-MARINO M
Spain SOLER ESPINOSA S vs Great Britain WATSON H
United States of America LEPCHENKO V vs Paraguay CEPEDE ROYG V

It was just announced this morning that Petra Martic has withdrawn and will be replaced with Laura Robson of Great Britain. She'll be in the bottom half of the draw and play Lucie Safarova in the first round. If Lucie shows up that will make for an interesting section of the draw since Sabine Lisicki, and Maria Sharapova along with a hungry Yaroslava Shvedova will all be fighting and clawing to get out of that section.

Serena Williams vs Jelena Jankovic isn't the gimme it may seem to be. Their head to head is 4 -4. JJ has been miserable for awhile now but everyone rouses themselves to play Serena and I think the same thing will happen here. I hope Serena leaves her inner Glamazon in the hotel and comes to play.Venus Williams is also in the top half and while she's been playing very well in World Team Tennis and looks strong I still don't want to say she'll be fine here. Of course I'll be happy if she is especially since she's psyched for the Olympics going as far to have red, white and blue braided into her hair. I hope her body cooperates with her.

On the women's side I feel I have to say Maria Sharapova will reach the semi's. I'm hesitant to pick Victoria Azarenka again because of her temperament. Petra Kvitova may rise to the occasion playing for her country not that that is less pressure on her. To be honest I won't be surprised if Shvedova does very well. Except for the American women some of whom were playing World Team Tennis everyone is coming in rested.

When all is said and done though it's still the Olympics and it's Olympic tennis. Shit's gonna be real y'all.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Ladies Day

by Savannah

Agnieszka Radwanska began working towards her first Grand Slam final when she told her father his services were no longer needed. Her first coaching selection was Borna Vikic who had coached Jelena Dokic. That association didn't last long though and she went on to hire Tomasz Wiktorowski, the Polish Fed Cup coach. The rest as they say is history.

I'll say upfront that watching Aga play is akin to watching paint dry for me. Like Martina Hingis before her. an analogy many don't like but that I feel is the only player of the modern era to employ a similar style, is based on "gotcha" tennis. Is she a Caroline Wozniacki style pusher? Yes and no. At her worst she's dull as grass growing. What she's done is add some offense to her game. It's not Big Babe "in your face" smash mouth tennis but it's effective. Her touch is delicate although she can hit with some power. From what I saw of her match against Angelique Kerber, sorry I fell asleep, she quietly turned the tables on her. When Kerber came to she was out of the match.

Aga is sharp enough to not want the be added to the list of "Slamless Wonders" and I'm sure she'll fight as hard as she can in the Final on Saturday.

The thing is she'll be playing the best woman of her generation.

Serena Williams started Wimbledon off on shaky ground. Her devastating first round loss in Paris, while not on everyone's lips, was in everyone's mind. Serena left the Glamazon shit at home in London. She had that glorious hair but she came on court to play tennis. Little or no makeup - she had heavy liner on today - and no candelabra hanging from her ears. In other words she came to play. And play she did.

She hit a bit of a wall in the second set. Serena and her sister Venus Williams, who looked much better playing doubles, had to play two matches yesterday, something that could have hurt her if her match against Victoria Azarenka went three sets. Serena saw to it that it didn't.

As you all know I'm not a big fan of Victoria. People are talking about how her id seems to be in better check these days, but she does play one of the better games among the new jacks coming up. Like most of them though she is most comfortable with hit hard and harder tennis and when faced with an opponent who can throw some variety at her she has trouble. She has won a Slam though, and came into London with the #2 seeding.

It's no secret that Victoria and Aga had a big falling out and some were hoping that they would be the last ones standing anticipating a bitch fest of epic proportions.

But that was not to be.

Who do I think will win? The last time Serena met Aga was in 2008. Serena won 4 & 0.
Aga has changed her game a lot since then. So has Serena. Is it a toss up? I would say no but then I'd have to pick a winner wouldn't I? And I don't do that.

End Notes

It would be wrong of me not to mention the men's semifinals wouldn't it? For some there is one matchup that is highly anticipated. For me the undercard is the one I'm looking forward to. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs Andy Murray in London, in a semi final, is a tennis lovers dream match. Tsonga, coachless, has gotten himself to the 2012 Wimbledon semifinals. He's going to have the crowd against him, and no one to consult but himself. There's no need to go into the Murray situation except to say right now he's British. Will he go back to being a Scotsman? Will Ivan Lendl keep him calm enough to play his best tennis? If both men show up that should be a hell of a match.

Finally I want to praise ESPN. The USA network, when it covered tennis, was the gold standard in my opinion. ESPN has taken it's place. It was sheer genius to have Centre Court coverage on ESPN, and all court coverage on ESPN2. The commentators, except for John McEnroe and in some instances Chris Evert, were informed and focused on the match not on inside jokes and giggling at people's names. I would suggest that JMac and Chrissie look at some tape and use briefing sheets next year. There's no excuse for JMac not knowing Venus had Sjogren's or Chris Evert admitting she'd never seen one of the women players, who's been burning up the courts before. A baseball announcer would be run out of town for less.

And no, I'm not mentioning Hanna. She's a disaster of epic proportions.

I think Mike Tirico, who uses notes and is a keen observer, along with Darren Cahill are the standouts. As for the women we have Pam Shriver and Mary Joe Fernandez. There's no hashtag for shit Pammy or Mary Joe says so that means their job is adequate. Chris has one though. Make of it what you will.