Jurgen Melzer Memphis 2012
You know blogging tennis gives a person some side splitting moments. As they say not funny "ha-ha" but funny "ho-ho".
A couple of years ago there were reports about young Marko Djokovic being miraculously granted a WC into the tournament his older brother was playing in Thailand. None of the Grand Poobah's of tennis reporting/writing/blogging made a big deal. I know I mentioned it along with the fact that Marko plays little if at all in the tennis minor leagues -Futures, Challengers - and relies on his brother's ability to get him into singles main draws. If big brother doesn't convince the Tournament Director that his brother is invaluable to their tournament you don't see Marko. Don't believe me? Check the fan sites. Most of them have threads devoted to Challengers - some even have threads on futures - and find his name.
Sofia Arvidsson Memphis 2012
Of course all of the big shots got caught with their pants down when the ATP 500 tournament in Dubai, after announcing that they had granted a Wild Card to #104 Malek Jaziri released a Main Draw showing a Wild Card having been granted to none other than the man ranked #867 in the world Marko Djokovic. To add insult to injury the tournament withdrew its fourth Wild Card leaving Jaziri out in the cold.
Makes perfect sense right? Don't you want to see #867 playing in an ATP 500 event? If I'd been on the African continent I would've busted my ass to get to Dubai to see this young phenom.
The outcry grew so loud that the Tournament Director released the following statement (emphasis mine):
“We had four wild cards, one of them wasn’t used because it’s only for top-20 players, so we had three left. So we gave the wild cards to Sergei Bubka Jr. who took it last year and did great so we gave it to him again. And then we have of course the Emirati Omar,” said Tahlak.
“Marko Djokovic is important to us because he is the brother of the No.1 player in the world. So that helps us, automatically. As a tournament we have other things to take into consideration.”
Tahlak added: “Novak only recommended that we include his brother in our tournament. We studied that request and we ultimately made the decision that serves the tournament’s best interests and therefore the interests of the players participating in it. We will never accept for anyone to interfere in our work.”
David Ferrer Buenos Aires 2012
I can understand the TD giving into big brother's demands but why rescind the fourth WC? Jaziri is the top ranked player in the Arab world. Hasn't he earned the right to test his mettle against the best in the business? Apparenty Mr. Tahlak felt otherwise.
Timea Babos Monterrey 2012
The bigger issue in all this is will we see #867 (down from #628 in 2010) in the MD of Masters 1000 tournaments? Grand Slams? What guy who's been slogging away in 250's and the Challengers be denied a WC because big brother wants his little brother to gain experience against the best without working to improve his game? Is that far fetched? Is it? Imagine if Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer had champion by shared uterus siblings and twisted arms to get him into the big tournaments? Would the tennis press murmur into their necks, turn their heads and pretend they had no idea this was happening? I think not. So why now?
Juan Martin del Potro Marseille 2012
Everything is sports is political. In tennis this is sometimes farcically so. With the precedent set in Dubai will other TD's feel pressured to cave into the demands of the current ATP #1? Bullies never concede ground gained do they? Instead they increase their demands until someone steps to them and makes them back down. Also do not forget that big brother has tremendous support in the United States tennis establishment and we know they have no qualms about bullying other Federations. You won't hear a peep about the incident or the implications from the tennis main stream media in the States. This is a situation where bloggers have to step up and make sure ALL tennis news is reported.
In case you don't know little brother was easily swept aside by Andrey Golubev 6-3, 6-2 in his first round match.
David Marrero and Fernando Verdasco won the Doubles crown in Buenos Aires.
Top seeds Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor were the ATP champs in Memphis.
Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka took the women's crown there.
Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci won in Monterrey.
I find it amusing that the FFT has chosen to play its Davis Cup tie versus the United States at the Monte Carlo Country Club, the stadium that hosts the clay tournament the USTA fought to get rid of because US players don't like playing in the dirt. The thing is the French players are best on hard courts, especially Jo-Wilfrid Tsonga. My guess is the French are thinking that on a slow, outdoor court the United States will suck worse and they'll escape with a win. The team Jim Courier brought into Switzerland was ready for the challenge. The pressure has now been increased.
Some are suggesting that the top four or five of the WTA is beginning to equal the top four of the ATP.
1 Azarenka, Victoria 31/07/89 BLR 8980
2 Sharapova, Maria 19/04/87 RUS 7680
3 Kvitova, Petra 08/03/90 CZE 7095
4 Wozniacki, Caroline 11/07/90 DEN 6270
5 Radwanska, Agnieszka 06/03/89 POL 5850
6 Stosur, Samantha 30/03/84 AUS 5825
7 Bartoli, Marion 02/10/84 FRA 5160
8 Li, Na 26/02/82 CHN 4390
9 Zvonareva, Vera 07/09/84 RUS 4340
10 Petkovic, Andrea 09/09/87 GER 3810
The argument is based on Caroline Wozniacki being passed by Agnieszka Radwanska and thus creating a highly competitive top four. I think it's too soon to assume that the top five will stay about the same through the entire year. I know she has her fans but Petra Kvitova is the weakest link of the five. I don't care for Aggie's neo Hingis style of play but she has shown she can be as tough minded as the Swiss Miss was.
And guess what?! There's already drama between Aggie and Victoria Azarenka. As all women know we're not like men. I don't think you'll see a Fedal type situation in the WTA. Radwanska has already accused her "good friend" of gamesmanship in Doha.
During the semifinal match Azarenka looked mortally wounded and there was doubt cast on her ability to play the final. i saw the match and thought it was nothing short of miraculous that Azarenka finished the semifinal. When she came out and played the final the next day there were no signs of injury. Unfortunately I didn't get to see the match - time difference and the need to sleep - but I did see the picture that set a million tongues wagging.
What a "talk to the hand" moment at the net.
Be that as it may it's going to be interesting to see if Radwanska moves up to be in the top three by the end of the year. Will Azarenka be able to hold onto the top spot? Will Petra Kvitova overcome her problems and live up to her potential? To continue about Kvitova does the WTA want a number one who is barely able to move? And that leads to Maria Sharapova who while better at moving is still awkward as all get out when forced out of her comfort zone.
I hope the WTA, in desperation, doesn't let it's rhetoric get ahead of it's players. Victoria Azarenka, by virtue of winning one Slam, is getting the full on star treatment now. Will she be able to handle the pressure emotionally? It's one thing to play before half empty stands in the Middle East. It's another to walk onto Roland Garros, Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows, let alone Miami and La Jolla (Indian Wells), full of howling fans carrying the weight of the top ranking on your shoulders. And lets not forget the Olympics. Don't forget that in Australia, ahead in the final, she started a pointless argument with the chair.
It's going to be an interesting year in women's tennis.