Sunday, October 28, 2012

WTA Player of the Year

by Savannah


I love this picture. Oh sure there's another picture that will probably be used by bloggers and journals around the world but this says it all. With the help of her team Serena Williams has accomplished the following in 2012: Wimbledon Champion in both singles and doubles. Olympic Champion in both singles and doubles. US Open Champion. I should mention that Serena defeated Victoria Azarenka in the US Open Final. And didn't Maria Sharapova manage to win only 1 game against Serena in the above mentioned Olympic Final?

While today wasn't a 6-0, 6-1 blow out Serena dominated the YEC Final from beginning to end without facing a break point. She finished the tournament without dropping a set.

It would me easy for Serena to pose with the trophy and leave it to fans to speculate about the why of her year but she chose to give credit where credit is due and pose with her team, even her little dog, to show everyone how she did it.

There are some who are arguing that the Year End number one should be player of the year. They'd all better put the pipe down and step back from the mic. There can be only one Player of the Year this year and her name is Serena Williams.

While the women were playing in Istanbul the men were playing in Basel and Valencia. I didn't watch either of these events.
From the "A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words" files this is all you, and I, need to know about it.


I think that just about says it all don't you? The picture is from L'Equipe.

David Ferrer has a lock on his hometown tournament. He won his third title there Sunday.

Congratulations to David and Juan Martin.

End Note

Juan Carlos Ferrero said goodbye to tennis at the Valencia ATP Tournament. Juanqui was never the same after he came down with adult chicken pox. By the time he came back the game had passed him by. There were flashes of his old brilliance but he couldn't adjust.

Don't cry for Juanqui though. Maria Sharapova credits him with giving her the confidence to win the French Open this year. I think he will find life after the Main Tour.

Still he will be missed.

WTA Player of the Year

Friday, October 26, 2012

And Then There Were Four

by Savannah


The Final Four of the WTA have been decided. The women ranked from #1 to #4 have made the semi finals. Agnieszka Radwanska took three hours to defeat a game Sara Errani.


With her win against Li Na in the last match of Round Robin play Victoria Azarenka clinched the year end Top Ranking and everything that goes with it.

Like Azarenka Maria Sharapova disposed of Samantha Stosur in straight sets.

Serena Williams, the only woman to play three straight days clinched her group and had Friday off. She made it through without dropping a set.

The semi final matchups will feature Serena Williams vs. Agnieszka Radwanska followed by Maria Sharapova vs. Victoria Azarenka.

There are some arguing that because these four women made it to the semi's the WTA product is validated and vindicated. Others argue that a field that there were players in the Final 8 that left you shaking your head.

I'll leave that discussion for a post championship evaluation.

The best thing about this YEC is the crowd. For the second year in a row the fans of Istanbul have shown that they are ready, willing and very able to support major tennis events. They are much more informed than the highly touted and much courted Asian fans who at times seem to not have a clue.

I mention this because there is talk of the WTA taking the YEC back to Doha. As one wag said on Twitter Doha is where matches are attended by a couple of guys and their camels. Shanghai is also being talked about but again the fan support is just not there.

I understand that the bottom line is what TPTB in tennis go by but with the WTA under attack for riding the coat tails of the WTA when it comes to paying players while fielding a product that few fans support I hope that someone decides that the fan support in Istanbul accounts for something. So far they're the most enthusiastic WTA fans on the planet.

Monday, October 22, 2012

And So It Begins...

by Savannah

The Final 8. The women who have made it to Istanbul Turkey to fight it out for top dog, the best woman tennis player of 2012.
As usual, they have been divided into two groups.

Red Group:

Victoria Azarenka
Serena Williams
Angelique Kerber
Li Na

White Group:

Maria Sharapova
Agnieszka Radwanska
Petra Kvitova
Sara Errani

I think it's safe to say the Red Group is where the battles will be. Of the four women in that group Li Na is the weakest. She's been listless all year and seems hard pressed to show that she can hold her concentration for an entire match.

Serena hasn't played since the US Open. This can cut two ways. She's had time to rest herself mentally and physically after a grueling summer. A totally rested and focused Serena is a scary proposition. Then again she could be a little rusty from lack of match play so it's also possible her matches could be closer than anticipated.

Victoria Azarenka has to keep her emotions in check. She's going to be in a war. No one is going to give her anything. Her H2H is even at 4 with Li and 1-10 vs Serena. She has a winning H2H, 2-0 against Kerber.

Angelique Kerber is going to have to up her game. She's been found lacking in a lot of her matches towards the end of the year and could crash out of contention early unless Li totally implodes. Their head to head is 5-1 in favor of Li.

As for the White Group there's going to be a two woman race there unless Petra Kvitova beats the demons in her head and Sara Errani manages to play fearlessly.

Maria Sharapova owns the head to head against Aga 7-2 and there's no reason to think that pownage will change. Pova should blow Errani off the court - they've only played once and Pova won.

The biggest wild card in the group is Petra Kvitova who, as I said earlier this year, doesn't care for the limelight and tends to lose her way mentally during a match.

As regular readers know this is not the blog to rely on if you can legally wager on tennis. My opinions are just that, opinions. Anything can happen during a round robin tournament. I'm hoping for competitive play from both groups.

Play starts tommorrow with the following line up:

Order of Play Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Stadium (from 17.00hrs)

1. Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Petra Kvitova
2. Serena Williams vs. Angelique Kerber
3. Maria Sharapova vs. Sara Errani

End Of Year Tournaments

Venus Williams won her first title in a while in Luxembourg despite problems with her back.

Juan Martin del Potro won in Vienna.

Andreas Seppi won Moscow for the ATP

Caroline Wozniacki won the WTA Moscow crown

Tomas Berdych won Stockholm

I saw absolutely none of the above tournaments. I'm not proud to say that but after the US Open it takes a lot to get me to watch tennis. Of all the wins the biggest, in my opinion, is Berdych defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Stockholm.

Caroline Wozniacki defeated Samantha Stosur in Moscow. I think it's safe to say that Stosur's US Open win was a fluke.

Venus is supposed to beat Monica Niculescu no matter what her physical condition.

Delpo played Qualifier Grega Žemlja in his final.

Seppi beat the erratic Thomaz Belluci in his final.

Silly season? I wouldn't say that since it's insulting to the men and women who fight and claw their way to finals when to top players have other things to think about at the end of the year.

The men are playing in Basel and Valencia this week, and Paris next week. I hope to get to see Juan Carlos Ferrero play his final tournament in Valencia.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Grand Slams and Equal Pay

by Savannah


There are bloggers whose thoughts I read and have forgotten as soon as I've finished. Most of the stuff they write is what the tours and top agencies want them to write. You know the ish. "Great new player" who in six weeks everyone is asking "whatever happened to player x"?

But there is a topic that won't go away and that is the equal pay for the WTA issue.

I wrote a few weeks ago that I thought Gilles Simon had a valid point - that the ATP was doing all of the heavy lifting while the women sat back and reaped the benefits of their work.

I'm a minor player in the tennis blogging business and a known crank so I didn't get too much flak for my views. One of the original tennis bloggers has come out with the same perspective I did, and all hell has broken loose.

What did this guy say that has WTA fans and apologists apoplectic? I'll quote from his column. The link will be at the end of this post. tennis, the men of the ATP have stepped up in a big way for their female peers in the WTA. That’s one of the more interesting if less obvious takeaways from the recent announcement by Tennis Australia that prize money for the 2013 Australian Open will be increased by $4.15 million to $31.1 million.

Under the equal prize money agreement, that means two million and change for the players from each organization.

The curious thing is that the WTA has been almost invisible in this entire process, from the time the ATP decided to make a concerted push to secure a greater slice of Grand Slam tournament revenues right through the obligatory post-bump comments and press releases.

Could the WTA really have been as unengaged in the process as it appears? It seems so. (A WTA source is refuting a Tweet from ATP player Sergiy Stahovsky that the WTA recommended its players not to support the ATP.) And that inevitably suggests that equal prize money is essentially an entitlement. Why should the WTA have to negotiate or lobby or threaten job actions when they can let the ATP do all that and then simply rake in the benefits because paying equal prize money is the “right” thing to do?

This brings us right to the heart of the “equal prize-money” issue. The reason this topic has been controversial is because you can look at it through different lenses that give different views. One lens might be called the “social justice” lens, through which the details are viewed in terms of an ongoing struggle for gender equality.


Let’s call the other lens the “competitive market” lens (you could also designate these “idealist” and “realist” lenses). Viewed through this lens, the picture isn’t quite so sharp, and the history of the recent Australian bump illustrates it.


The Australian bump was the result of a dialogue that began at Indian Wells, when ATP executive chairman and president Brad Drewett invited representatives from each of the four majors to a meeting with the top four ATP players to discuss future compensation. By then, as we all knew, the ATP natives were restless and some were even tossing around the “b” word (boycott).

The WTA was not a party to that meeting, nor to any of the further discussions the ATP had with Grand Slam representatives. Stacey Allaster was too busy this week to give me a few minutes on the phone, but agreed to give me a statement about the Australian bump.

I specifically requested that she address the degree to which the women felt militant about the prize-money levels at the Australian Open, what they did about it, and the degree to which they engaged with the ATP on the subject. But this was the only reply I received:

“We continue to work with our partners to ensure prize money across all events on the calendar—both WTA and Grand Slams—increases at a level to fairly compensate our players for what they bring to the sport. We applaud Tennis Australia’s commitment to equal prize money and vision to continually raise the bar for the athletes and fans of the game. We continue working with each Slam, maintaining a consistent dialogue and updating the players accordingly.”

But the reality is that while equal prize money has long been the goal of the WTA, and understandably so, there was no indication whatsoever that the women players were, like the men, disgruntled (other than the informal public relations campaign to press for equal pay), and prepared to do something about it.

And there certainly was/is no united ATP/WTA front for negotiations, no joint committee. In the aftermath of the Australian bump, a number of players, including Roger Federer, were quoted expressing their satisfaction with the deal and declaring their ongoing determination to continue down the negotiating path. The only player who publicly said anything about the increased compensation from the women was Maria Sharapova (and that came in a canned quote, via the WTA):

“The Australian Open has always taken great care of both players and fans, and been dedicated to making the event a fantastic experience for everyone. Today’s announcement is another example of Tennis Australia’s vision to lead and look after the players. I greatly appreciate this very significant investment in us as athletes and their continued commitment to equality. I can’t wait to be in Melbourne to play the Australian Open this coming year.”

That’s a pleasant, gracious comment. But contrast it with the words of the guy who did the hard bargaining, Drewett:

The ATP has had encouraging and positive discussions with Tennis Australia regarding the long term plans for player compensation at the Australian Open. Tennis Australia deserves credit for the way they have recognized the significant input the players have in the success of the tournament.

I’m delighted the players have given their full support to the ATP leadership during this process with the Australian Open, as well as backing our decision to pursue this issue through constructive dialogue. I am confident that the ATP and our players will remain committed to the ongoing discussions with the other Grand Slam tournaments."


The ATP got its message across at Indian Wells—and not least because the top four men, setting naked self-interest aside, agreed that their priority was raising prize-money across the board, not just for the top performers (and that’s an enormous break with the traditional lack of solidarity between the top players and journeymen).


The question that’s going to simmer among the ATP men, even if most of them know better than to go all Gilles Simon and talk about it, will be: “Why should we negotiate for the WTA, and immediately give up half of what we can bargain for?”

That’s a relevant question for a very practical reason: Tennis has separate male and female player organizations and it doesn’t seem likely that they will be merged any time soon.

Being against the WTA's bargaining position on this matter doesn't mean that you're anti gender equal pay or women's tennis. If you've worked for a living you understand clearly what's at stake here. Say a widget plant's workers decide to strike for better pay and working conditions. Some of the workers decide not to honor the strike and cross the picket line for personal reasons. The plant, realizing that it can't work with just management and a few of its workers comes to it's senses and grants most if not all of the workers demands. Is it fair for the workers who didn't strike to reap the benefits gotten by the sacrifice of those who did? I don't blame the ATP players for being upset. And it's blatantly dishonest for the WTA to act as if anyone attacking their passive stance is against gender equality and pay.

I'm glad that this blogger has come down on my side of the argument. I've been arguing against a lot of the positions the WTA takes, or hasn't taken, for as long as I've been writing this blog. I've criticized their lack of marketing, their apparent business plan, their inability to capitalize on their TOUR and not just specific players. Their inability to do adequate marketing of their tour results in the sad visual of friends and family sometimes being the only people watching a match that should be drawing a huge crowd.

For the complete blog post please go HERE.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Asian Swing Part 2

by Savannah


I don't mind staying up late if it's to witness history.

I intended to watch only one set of the Tokyo final and thought that I might be able to watch the entire match when Japan's Nishikori Kei raced to a 3-0 lead in the first set.

Then came the visit from the trainer and suddenly it seemed that Kei had forgotten what he'd been doing at the start of the match. He managed to hang in and force a tiebreak to decide the set and won a tense breaker 7-6(5).

But in the second set the man who had been scampering all over the court and creating some of the most amazing angles in recent memory disappeared. Milos Raonic was able to assert himself and use his serve effectively and take the second set 6-3.

So there I was looking at the clock and saying to myself that I'd be kicking myself if Nishikori became the first Japanese man in 40 years to win Tokyo. I wanted the chance to see the historic moment for myself.

I was rewarded with seeing the Nishikori who started the match come back. He feasted on Raonic's second serve and kept Milos pinned back unless he wanted him to come in, at which point he would unleash one of the many amazing shots he got off during the match. You could make the argument that Raonic wasn't thinking as clearly as he had been when he defeated Andy Murray the day before but that really wasn't the case. Nishikori wasn't allowing him to do what he wanted and a frustrated, emotional Milos was caught with no Plan B. Nishikori won the third set 6-0, an amazing feat against a big server like Raonic.

It was a stunning performance and one that I'm sure will get Asian fans buzzing. It followed on the heels of China's Zhang Ze making the quarterfinals in Beijing. Zhang has been given a wild card into Shanghai and it will be very interesting to see how deep he goes into the draw. I wonder if more Asian men begin to do well on the tour if fan interest will increase. It was interesting to see the array of important men sitting courtside last night. The stands were also packed to the rafters. It was a great match for Asian tennis and a great , innovative match for tennis in general. It was nice to see a mental AND physical match for a change.


I went on a bathroom break this morning and had just enough time to Victoria Azarenka defeat Maria Sharapova 6-3, 6-1. When I turned on the match Sharapova was down 5-0 in the second set. I expected a much closer match. Since all I saw was the very end of the second set I can't comment on the match. The comm was saying that Sharapova's game wasn't working against Azarenka. With the score line that's the only assumption that can be made.

I wonder if the tennis media will be as upset about this loss by Pova as it was when she lost in spectacular fashion to Serena Williams this summer? No? I don't think so either. Although Azarenka isn't one of their faves she's not Serena.


I never had any intention of watching the men's final in Beijing because there was no doubt in my mind who would win. I only watch him play when I have no choice. I wasn't breaking night to watch him this morning even if he was playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The final score was 7-6(4), 6-2.

This and That


This is a picture of Roger Federer surrounded by security in Shanghai. The tight security was necessary because some nut job made threats against tennis in general and Federer in particular. Here is the story from
USA Today

11:40PM EST October 4. 2012 - Security was tightened around Roger Federer after the world No. 1 received an online death threat prior to a tournament in Shanghai, according to various reports.

Tournament director Yang Yibin confirmed the threat to the Shanghai Youth Daily. An anonymous poster using the name "Blue Cat Polytheistic Religion Founder 07" posted the threat on the popular Chinese website, "On October 6, I plan to assassinate Federer for the purpose of tennis extermination," the posting read.

The threat was accompanied by a doctored photo of a axe-wielding executioner standing next to a decapitated Federer. The posting was taken seriously enough for the tournament to increase security around Federer and other players, but Yang told the newspaper he hopes it "was an oral threat only."

I hope the idjut is captured soon.

Shanghai Masters

Obviously Federer is in Shanghai. There was no way he wasn't going to be there to defend his ranking no matter how "wounded, tired and exhausted" he is. As usual he has a cakewalk to at least the quarters. If you haven't seen the draw I've posted it below.

[1] Roger Federer/BYE
[WC] Ze Zhang vs Qualifier
Denis Istomin vs Carlos Berlocq
[13] Stanislas Wawrinka vs Albert Ramos

[10] Marin Cilic vs Qualifier
Martin Klizan vs Thomaz Bellucci
Fernando Verdasco vs Go Soeda
[7] Juan Monaco/Bye

[3] Andy Murray/Bye
Florian Mayer vs Bernard Tomic
Alexandr Dolgopolov vs Jeremy Chardy
[15] Gilles Simon vs Jurgen Melzer

[11] Richard Gasquet vs Qualifier
[WC] Lleyton Hewitt vs Radek Stepanek
Kevin Anderson vs Jarkko Nieminen
[8] John Isner/Bye

[5] Jo-Wilfried Tsonga/Bye
Benoit Paire vs Qualifier
Marcos Baghdatis vs Fabio Fognini
[12] Milos Raonic vs Qualifier

[14] Kei Nishikori vs [WC] Wu Di
Sam Querrey vs [WC] Zhe Li
Andreas Seppi vs Qualifier
[4] Tomas Berdych/Bye

[6] Janko Tipsarevic/Bye
Mikhail Youzhny vs Victor Troicki
Tommy Robredo vs Qualifier
[9] Nicolas Almagro vs Tommy Haas

[16] Philipp Kohlschreiber vs Ryan Harrison
Feliciano Lopez vs Alejandro Falla
Grigor Dimitrov vs Pablo Andujar
[2] Novak Djokovic/Bye

I'm sure Stan Wawrinka is tired of always being the foil. I know I'm tired of him playing that role. Keep in mind almost everyone in this draw has played the last two weeks. Some made the quarter finals, semis and finals. No mercy from this tournament though.

End Note


This is one of my favorite pictures. Rafael Nadal takes us inside his trophy room to show off his new kicks.
Have fun figuring out what trophies we can see on the shelf there.