Monday, January 16, 2012

Melbourne Mash-Up

by Savannah

Calm down kiddies. The bromance isn't over. Fans of "FedAl" - the name given to the Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal friendship, were apparently heartbroken at press reports that a difference of opinion between the two men had led to an irreparable rift. Federer himself called bullshit on the reports as did Rafa.


Nikolay Davydenko picked up where Rafa left off however and rhetorically questioned why Federer was not with the players on this one.

This REPORT covers all bases.

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A day after a rare show of discord, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal quickly closed ranks.
Nadal had criticized Federer for his unwillingness to speak out on issues affecting the men's game, allowing others to "burn themselves" as they seek improved conditions for players.

After joining Nadal in the second round of the Australian Open with a win on Monday, Federer said "things are fine" between the two longtime rivals, although he concedes that they disagree on a way to resolve a list of player grievances that includes the length of the season and the distribution of prize money.

"We can't always agree on everything," Federer said. "So far it's always been no problem really. Back in the day he (Nadal) used to say, 'Whatever Roger decides, I'm fine with.'
"Today he's much more grown up. He has a strong opinion himself, which I think is great."

For his part, Nadal apologized for airing his disagreement with Federer in public — although he didn't back down on the views he expressed.
"Probably I am wrong telling that to (the media), especially because these things can stay, must stay in the locker room," Nadal said.
"I always had fantastic relationship with Roger. I still have fantastic relationship with Roger. Just I said we can have different views about how the tour needs to work. That's all."

The rift emerged following a player meeting on Saturday that sparked talk of a possible strike for the second time in six months.
Nadal wasn't alone in questioning Federer's stance. Former No. 3-ranked Nikolay Davydenko said Monday he didn't understand why the 16-time Grand Slam champion wasn't supporting his fellow players.

The Russian said that while Nadal and No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic had been leading the push for changes, Federer had been reluctant to get involved.

"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."

However, Federer said his reluctance to speak out shouldn't be construed as a lack of support.
"I was in the meeting. I completely understand and support the players' opinions," Federer said. "I just have a different way of going at it. I'm not discussing it with you guys in the press room. It creates unfortunately sometimes negative stories."
The players plan to meet again at the Indian Wells Masters tournament in March when they will assess how much progress has been made before deciding on a course of action.

Davydenko said a strike remained a remote prospect, but that "the ATP should try to do something between now and Indian Wells." Federer wants to avoid such drastic action if possible.

"(Strike) is such a dangerous word to use," Federer said. "It's not good for anyone really. We've seen it in other sports happening in the States. That's why I'm always very careful about it.

"If there's no avoiding it, I'll support the rest of the players. But I just think we have to think it through how we do it, if we do it, can we do it, whatever it is, instead of just going out and screaming about it."

Federer said there are "two or three" big issues that the players have been discussing. They include the length of the season and prize money at Grand Slam tournaments, which some players believe has not increased proportionately with growing profits.
American John Isner said he had been to the meeting and felt the players had a "legitimate beef" over prize money, which is also an issue at the Indian Wells tournament, where Davydenko said those players who lose in the first round can sometimes lose money after paying tax and travel costs to compete.

Federer said he was confident "a good solution" would be reached and he welcomed the healthy debate. Nadal, meanwhile, vowed that he wouldn't be speaking about it in public again.

"I do not talk anymore," he said. "Yesterday (Sunday), I started, and I say I don't want to talk anymore about this. Finally I talked too much as usual. That's not going to happen again. You can try hard, but I'm going to talk about tennis."


I read a lot about this situation yesterday and I agree with the tennishead who pointed out that those who feel nothing is wrong with the present schedule are living in the past. The game has become much more physical than it was thirty or even twenty years ago. Racquet technology allows for levels of play not dreamed of when the schedule was formatted.

As expected a lot of criticism is directed at the Rogers Cup/Cincinnati swing in the summer. I also point to the spring hardcourt swing where Indian Wells and Miami are pretty much back to back. If you've been reading this space a long time you know that a lot of the current discontent came about when the USTA made a push to shorten the clay season by getting rid of Monte Carlo and Hamburg in an attempt to give it's mostly hardcourt players a chance to move up in the rankings. Both Monte Carlo and Hamburg are still there and the rankings thing, well, it hasn't happened. The people behind the move didn't seem to be aware that the rest of the world they hold in such disdain was learning how to play on concrete while their players were aging and sagging under the weight of expectations.

Water under the bridge? Maybe. Maybe some of the Axis based press has been looking for a chink in the armor of European solidarity and were hoping this was their dream come true. I don't know. I remember both Federer and Nadal coming together over Monte Carlo and Hamburg and while as in any adult relationship, friendship or otherwise, there are disagreements. I for one still maintain that the real anger against Federer comes from his not supporting Richard Krajicek. No one in the tennis press is talking about that so a casual observer can be forgiven for thinking this came about all of a sudden.

There are many fans who think there will be some kind of action taken in 2013. 2012 has barely begun. There is still time for negotiation.
Let's hope so.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Week That Was

by Savannah

Ever wonder why the run up tournaments to the Australian Open get such high profile players on their entry lists? I bet the USTA does too. Also wonder why it's rare for those big names to actually go on and win those tournaments? That's pretty easy to explain isn't it? No one wants to limp into the Australian Open battered and bruised by pushing through to a final.

In Australia even the exhibitions get big coverage both on television and in tennis media. Both Hopman Cup and Kooyong are familiar to tennisheads and their results are tracked as closely as regular tournaments.

In the end the big show is still the Australian Open. You don't need to take out a second mortgage to afford to attend. The atmosphere is boozy and fun. Ethnic riots can break out at the drop of a hat, or toss of a serve. Still the folks of Tennis Australia have been innovative and forward thinking in terms of upgrading their facility and making sure play can continue on it's main courts regardless of extreme heat or rain. Maybe the folks at the US Open should give Tennis Australia a call. Maybe they can help the USTA figure out a way to complete their Slam within the two weeks instead of always ending up playing the men's final on a Monday afternoon. I'm just saying.

Anyway the players who won the tournaments last week deserve recognition for playing what was a pretty high level of tennis despite high winds and rain delays.


In Sydney Jarkko Nieminen won the mens tournament and his second ATP title.


Victoria Azarenka's obvious joy at winning the women's event at Sydney finds her tightly clutching the winning trophy. She defeated defending champion Li Na.


The Bryan twins won the men's doubles at Sydney while the team of Peschke and Srebotnik took the women's crown.


The ATP tournament at Auckland had some of the same weather troubles the women's tournament had but David Ferrer outlasted the field.


The doubles pairing of Marach and Peya took the doubles title.


The surprise winner of the week was Mona Barthel who came through qualifying to take the crown at Hobart for her first main tour win defeating Yanina Wickmayer. It will be hard for her to win seven matches in Melbourne but eyes will be on her to see just what is going on with her game and if she is indeed ready for prime time.

The team of Begu and Niculescu won the doubles.

The Kooyong exhibition was won by controversial Australian Bernard Tomic.

End Notes

What's a Grand Slam without some drama? If it's drama between the men still referred to as the top two it's even better drama no?
During a presser Rafael Nadal said that he was not going to be out front regarding player grievances against the tour. No big deal right? He's learned what so many others before him had to learn about being the face of protest. It's what he said after that that has some in the tennis media salivating.

Responding to the suggestion that Federer disliked players complaining openly about problems on the tour because it tarnished the image of tennis, Nadal said he took another view.

For him it's good to say nothing. Everything positive. 'It's all well and good for me, I look like a gentleman,' and the rest can burn themselves. Everyone is entitled to have their own opinions.

It's no secret that Roger Federer led the charge against Richard Krajicek becoming ATP CEO and that Rafa was leading the contingent pushing hard for him. It's my opinion that Federer more than any other player didn't need someone to be a players advocate. He's been working the system to his advantage for several years now so why change things to give a more level playing field? Add that to the fact that even American golden boy Andy Roddick stood with the players in New York last year while nary a word was heard from Federer the only surprise is that it took so long for someone to call him out even in this roundabout way.

Source of the above quote is here

Friday, January 13, 2012

Cakewalks and Trench Warfare - The 2012 Australian Open Singles Draws

by Savannah

The draws came out yesterday evening US east coast time. I wanted to let them marinate a bit, sink into my consciousness before I turned a critical eye to both the men's and women's draw. This morning I looked again and keep saying either "really"? or "seriously" as I read them over. Read them for yourself and see if you don't walk away shaking your head in amazement.

I'm not going into the usual spiel I give when Grand Slam draws are released. I don't have to.

WTA Draw - Top Half

Caroline Wozniacki DEN (1) v Anastasia Rodionova AUS
Ashleigh Barty AUS v Anna Tatishvili GEO
Pauline Parmentier FRA v Alla Kudryavtseva RUS
Alize Cornet FRA v Monica Niculescu ROU (31)

Lucie Safarova CZE (24) v Christina McHale USA
Qualifier v Marina Erakovic NZL
Qualifier vPetra Martic CRO
Qualifier v Jelena Jankovic SRB (13)

Kim Clijsters BEL (11) v Qualifier
Stephanie Foretz Gacon FRA v Elena Baltacha GBR
Arantxa Rus NED v Lesia Tsurenko UKR
Qualifier v Daniela Hantuchova SVK (20)

Anabel Medina Garrigues ESP (26) v Eva Birnerova CZE
Patricia Mayr-Achleitner AUT v Olga Govortsova BLR
Sofia Arvidsson SWE v Olivia Rogowska AUS
Ksenia Pervak KAZ v Na Li CHN (5)

Victoria Azarenka BLR(3) v Heather Watson GBR
Casey Dellacqua AUS v Bojana Jovanovski SRB
Anne Keothavong GBR v Mona Barthel GER
Ayumi Morita JPN v (32)Petra Cetkovska CZE

Flavia Pennetta ITA (19) v Qualifier
Alberta Brianti ITA v Irina Falconi USA
Iveta Benesova CZE v Mathilde Johansson FRA
Aravane Rezai FRA v Shuai Peng CHN (16)

Francesca Schiavone ITA (10) v Laura Pous-Tio ESP
Anastasiya Yakimova BLR v Romina Oprandi ITA
Kimiko Date-Krumm JPN v Eleni Daniilidou GRE
Polona Hercog SLO v Julia Goerges GER (22)

Yanina Wickmayer BEL (28) v Galina Voskoboeva KAZ
Tsvetana Pironkova BUL v Sania Mirza IND
Qualifier v Simona Halep ROU
Bethanie Mattek-Sands USA v Agnieszka Radwanska POL (8)

WTA Draw - Bottom Half

Vera Zvonareva RUS (7) v Alexandra Dulgheru ROU
Evgeniya Rodina RUS v Lucie Hradecka CZE
Ekaterina Makarova RUS v Tamarine Tanasugarn THA
Johanna Larsson SWE v Kaia Kanepi EST (25)

Dominika Cibulkova SVK (17) v Magdalena Rybarikova SVK
Rebecca Marino CAN v Greta Arn HUN
Iryna Bremond FRA v Barbora Zahlavova Strycova CZE
Tamira Paszek AUT v Serena Williams USA (12)

Sabine Lisicki GER (14) v Qualifier
Shahar Peer ISR v Isabella Holland AUS
Sloane Stephens USA v Silvia Soler-Espinosa ESP
Chanelle Scheepers RSA v Svetlana Kuznetsova RUS (18)

Angelique Kerber GER (30) v Bojana Bobusic AUS
Stephanie Dubois CAN v Elena Vesnina RUS
Mandy Minella LUX v Qualifier
Gisela Dulko ARG v Maria Sharapova RUS (4)

Samantha Stosur AUS (6) v Sorana Cirstea ROU
Qualifier v Urszula Radwanska POL
Qualifier v Sara Errani ITA
Qualifier v Nadia Petrova RUS (29)

Roberta Vinci ITA (23) v Alexandra Cadantu ROU
Madison Keys USA v Jie Zheng CHN
Jelena Dokic AUS v Anna Chakvetadze RUS
Virginie Razzano FRA v Marion Bartoli FRA (9)

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova RUS (15) v Klara Zakopalova CZE
Kateryna Bondarenko UKR v Vania King USA
Kristina Barrois GER v Michaella Krajicek NED
Lourdes Dominguez Lino ESP v Ana Ivanovic SRB (21)

Maria Kirilenko RUS (27) v Jarmila Gajdosova AUS
Shuai Zhang CHN v Aleksandra Wozniak CAN
Irina-Camelia Begu ROU v Carla Suarez Navarro ESP
Vera Dushevina RUS v Petra Kvitova CZE (2)

ATP Draw - Top Half

Novak Djokovic SRB (1) v Paolo Lorenzi ITA
Santiago Giraldo COL v Qualifier
Tatsuma Ito JPN v Potito Starace ITA
Nicolas Mahut FRA v Radek Stepanek CZE (29)

Milos Raonic CAN (23) v Filippo Volandri ITA
Lukas Rosol CZE v Philipp Petzschner GER
Cedrik-Marcel Stebe GER v Lleyton Hewitt AUS
Robin Haase NED v Andy Roddick USA (15)

Janko Tipsarevic SRB (9) v Dmitry Tursunov RUS
Qualifier v James Duckworth AUS
Mikhail Youzhny RUS v Qualifier
Andreas Seppi ITA v Richard Gasquet FRA (17)

Juan Ignacio Chela ARG (27) v Michael Russell USA
Igor Kunitsyn RUS v Pablo Andujar ESP
Matthias Bachinger GER v Ryan Sweeting USA
Rui Machado POR v David Ferrer ESP (5)

Andy Murray GBR (4) v Ryan Harrison USA
Xavier Malisse BEL v Edouard Roger-Vasselin FRA
Michael Llodra FRA v Ernests Gulbis LAT
Daniel Gimeno-Traver ESP v Alex Bogomolov Jr. RUS (32)

Viktor Troicki SRB (19) v Juan Carlos Ferrero ESP
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez ESP v Mikhail Kukushkin KAZ
Thomaz Bellucci BRA v Dudi Sela ISR
Marinko Matosevic AUS v Gael Monfils FRA (14)

Gilles Simon FRA (12) v Qualifier
Julien Benneteau FRA v Karol Beck SVK
Joao Souza BRA v Matthew Ebden AUS
Stephane Robert FRA v Kei Nishikori JPN (24)

Marcel Granollers ESP (26) v Jesse Levine USA
Frederico Gil POR v Ivan Dodig CRO
Qualifier v Ricardo Mello BRA
Denis Istomin UZB v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga FRA (6)

ATP Draw - Bottom Half

Mardy Fish USA (8) v Gilles Muller LUX
Alejandro Falla COL v Fabio Fognini ITA
Albert Montanes ESP v Pere Riba ESP
Philipp Kohlschreiber GER v Juan Monaco ARG (25)

Florian Mayer GER (20) v Yen-Hsun Lu TPE
Qualifier v Steve Darcis BEL
Qualifier v Blaz Kavcic SLO
Adrian Mannarino FRA v Juan Martin Del Potro ARG (11)

Alexandr Dolgopolov UKR (13) v Greg Jones AUS
Tobias Kamke GER v Victor Hanescu ROU
Kenny De Schepper FRA v Sam Querrey USA
Bernard Tomic AUS v Fernando Verdasco ESP (22)

Jurgen Melzer AUT (31) v Ivo Karlovic CRO
Carlos Berlocq ARG v Qualifier
Eric Prodon FRA v Andreas Beck GER
Qualifier v Roger Federer SUI (3)

Tomas Berdych CZE (7) v Albert Ramos ESP
Olivier Rochus BEL v Qualifier
Sergiy Stakhovsky UKR v Qualifier
Qualifier v Kevin Anderson RSA (30)

Stanislas Wawrinka SUI (21) v Benoit Paire FRA
Marcos Baghdatis CYP v Benjamin Becker GER
Jeremy Chardy FRA v Grigor Dimitrov BUL
Lukasz Kubot POL v Nicolas Almagro ESP (10)

John Isner USA (16) v Benjamin Mitchell AUS
Jarkko Nieminen FIN v David Nalbandian ARG
Flavio Cipolla ITA v Nikolay Davydenko RUS
Leonardo Mayer ARG v Feliciano Lopez ESP (18)

Ivan Ljubicic CRO (28) v Qualifier
Qualifier v Donald Young USA
Tommy Haas GER v Qualifier
Qualifier v Rafael Nadal ESP (2)

There should be champagne and flowers being sent by some while others put their creativity to the test by shaping tableware into the pointy and sharp objects known collectively as shivs.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Fun In the Sand and Sun

by Savannah

I have to admit that I saw little to no tennis this past week. If it wasn't for Twitter I wouldn't have a clue about who won what or how they did it. Yes I'm resisting going on Australian time which is probably not a good idea but with me decluttering and painting my apartment I really won't have a chance to until the end of the week. It's gonna be fun ain't it?

Anyway there were a couple of significant wins this past week.

Kaia Kanepi won the WTA Premier title at Brisbane and added her name to the contenders list for 2012. She's been on the verge for awhile now.
Andy Murray pleased new coach Ivan Lendl and took the mens trophy.
Daniel Nestor continued his superb doubles play winning the men's doubles at Brisbane with Max Mirnyi.
Nuria Llagostera Vives paired with Arantxa Parra Santonja to take the women's doubles crown.

Milos Raonic fought his way to a victory over Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic at Chennai.
Tipsarevic smartly paired up with Leander Paes and got to take home the doubles trophy.

Zheng Jie rain plagued Auckland after Flavia Pennetta retired due to injury.
The Czech team of Hlavackova and Hradecka won the doubles.
Speaking of Czech teams Tomas Berdych and Petra Kvitova won the Hopman Cup for their country. They're seen here with Lucy Hopman who is 90 years young.

Despite it's being an ATP 250 event all eyes were on Doha. The last man standing was Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who faced countryman Gael Monfils for the championship. The subtexts to this match were huge. Not only were there two men of African descent playing for a main tour title but they were two French men. As everyone knows there was a lot of trash talked by French players during the "off" season about alleged doping by other countries. I guess that was a way to take some of the pressure off of their top players, Tsonga and Monfils. I don't think all the wishful thinking in the world would put Richard Gasquet in that category at this point.

Anyway the match needed to be a high quality one and it looked like it was off to a flying start when Monfils broke Tsonga to open the match. Tsonga had been complaining about the mist and fog that made the lines slippery and after that first game he got his way and play was suspended. I had running around to do so I left home at that point. On the way back I checked the scores and found out that Tsonga won in straight sets. I can't say anything because all I saw was one game.

Apparently some couldn't restrain themselves and posted comments online that were insulting to Gael. I was also too through with one of the commentators who couldn't refrain from making "jokes" about Gael's return to locks. I mean this is the 21st century. If you don't like locks and you work in sports I think you should know enough to keep your ignorance to yourself. I'm thinking it was the same commentator who kept referring to Roger Federer as the "greatest player ever" and no matter what was happening in the match constantly referred to his "beauty of movement" and "superior" play. I'm sorry but that's not commentary that's fanboyism. It has no place in the booth.

As for the other comments made by a member of the tennis media elite I'm not going to say a word. He's probably bringing enough hits to his site without me adding to the total.

Sigh. And the year is just beginning.