Friday, November 30, 2012

The WTA 2012 Awards and Other Tennis Stuff

by Savannah

The WTA has finished releasing it's best of list for 2012.

Player of the Year - Serena Williams
Newcomer of the Year - Laura Robson
Comeback Player of the Year - Yaroslava Shvedova
Doubles Team of the Year - Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani
Most Improved Player of the Year - Sara Errani

The above list comes to us courtesy of the professional Tennis Writers.

Then there are the awards voted on by the players:

Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award - Kim Clijsters
Player Service Award - Venus Williams

Fans voted too.

FAN FAVORITE DOUBLES TEAM - Serena Williams & Venus Williams
FAN FAVORITE TWITTER - Caroline Wozniacki
FAN FAVORITE FACEBOOK - Agnieszka Radwanska
FAN FAVORITE VIDEO - Agnieszka Radwanska & The Bee

So, Laura Robson, who finished the year ranked #53 gets "Newcomer of the Year". Sloane Stephens finished the year ranked #38. Heather Watson finished the year ranked #49. Who the hell voted for Robson? Was the ballot stuffed or weighted by British tennis writers who see Laura, not Heather Watson, as the second coming for British women's tennis even though Heather ended the year ranked four places ahead of her? And what about those slackers in the American tennis hierarchy? Sloane finished at #38, 11 places ahead of Watson and 15 places ahead of Robson. Right now I have nothing against Ms Robson but she's been the darling of the Brits since forever.

I wonder if the voting went like this: The Yanks got the top spot so we deserve the next most prestigious place. Sure Laura was born is Australia but we gave her British citizenship and the Aussies are part of the Tennis Axis Powers so it's all good. Heather? Where is her mother from again? Papua New Guinea? We don't even know where that is. Laura is our girl. You say it didn't go that way? I'm still trying to figure out how she got the award over two newcomers who finished higher in the rankings.

I'm skipping over the awards Clijsters and Venus won. If their peers voted for them there's nothing else to say.

And whoa to the Aga Radwanska Fan Club. You guys did your player proud.

ATP This and That

Grigor Dimitrov is no longer being coached by Patrick Mouratoglou.

John Isner has parted with long time coach Craig Boynton and will now be coached by Michael Sell. Sell, who once coached Monica Seles has worked with the USTA since 2003.

Sergei Bubka who sustained multiple fractures after a three story fall in Paris is standing and taking hesitant steps. He underwent 9 hours of surgery to repair his injuries. I wish him the best of luck in his recovery.

Speaking of recovery Mardy Fish has withdrawn from the Australian summer swing due to issues related to his heart problems that were diagnosed last year. He's looking to come back for the US spring hard court swing.

End Notes

I'm tennis'd out. I've been tennis'd out since late spring. Yes it has a lot to do with my favorite player being out but it goes deeper than that.

I'm a blogger, not a journalist, and I've been doing this for awhile now. I've never wanted to be part of the in crowd. I want, and continue to want, to be someone who can speak free encumbrances to a press organization or professional organization.

My interest picked up at the big events - the tennis season is hardwired in my brain - but I remember staying up to see the fall Asian swing. Not this year. Coming to my senses? Perhaps.

But when you look at the decision made by the WTA re it's television rights, the fact that my cable company hasn't made Tennis Channel available since September 2011 (or was it 2010? It's a blur) and Tennis TV, something I pay for, is blacked out more often than not forcing me to rely on sometimes shady live streams out of Europe it's become very difficult for a fan like me to actually watch live tennis. The ultimate frustration for a tennis fan is watching a stream and the person decides he or she is bored and changes the channel. If you're lucky you'll get a Eurosport stream that is clear and has decent announcers.

If I want I can watch UEFA, Serie A, Spanish or British football any time I want. How many of us here in the States saw Ibrahimovic's fantastic goal from a couple of weeks ago? Yet to see a tennis match I have to jump through hoops no other fandom does. Maybe the tennis establishment wants it like this. They want to control the commentary, fan attitudes towards players, and deem which players are worthy of fans adulation.

That is the only conclusion I can reach based on the antics of the tennis establishment this past year.

Will I stop watching tennis? Of course not. Come the end of December I'll be watching whatever I can online however I can. I like American football, baseball and basketball but I love tennis. I think it's time that tennis stop pretending it wants to be a sport everyone can relate to since it continues to make it difficult for a fan to be a fan. If tennis is serious about becoming a big deal, especially in the States, it's time for it to stop behaving like the niche sport it presently is.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Year is Over...Kind Of

by Savannah

The ATP has crowned it's King of 2012. Novak Djokovic, who showed remarkable restraint when faced with an opponent at the ATP WTF final who usurped the top ranked players seat to the left of the Chair surgically took the would be usurper apart. Anger saw him go down 0-3 in the opening set but then he pulled himself together and won in straight sets.

Apologists for the Usurper have tried to say that it's not a given that the higher ranked player in a match, who comes in last, always sits to the left of the Chair. They've even denied that Djokovic gave his opponent a look as he took the lower ranked players chair. True he didn't stand hand on hip, right leg thrust out and ask "Really?" but he did give a quick look to an opponent who avoided eye contact. They were on an indoor tennis court not a playground and Djokovic decided to take the high ground.

I am not, and will never be a fan of Novak Djokovic but I was pleased with how this match played out. The would be Usurper claims to respect and love the game of tennis. I would've preferred it if he had gotten up after realizing his mistake and moved to the proper position on the sidelines. Tennis is already living with the results of his backing new ATP head honcho Brad Drewitt and costing lower ranked players a bigger piece of the pie. Now he's spit in the face of tennis tradition publicly. And his fans still pretend he is a god and can do no wrong.

Marc Lopez and Marcel Granollers won the doubles crown at the ATP WTF. A nice ending to what was a good, if not great year in men's doubles. I hope that doubles gets more coverage going forward not just when a top player is playing the doubles tournament.

Davis Cup Champions


The Czech Republic put its Davis Cup hopes on the racquet of one Radek Stepanek who stood across the net from Spain's Nicolas Almagro to play the decisive fifth rubber in the 2012 Davis Cup Final. It wasn't Radek, who is more known for his, uh, let's say colorful on court attire and his celebratory worm dance these days than winning tournaments, who had thrown shade on Almagro though. It was Tomas Berdych who did that, saying that Almagro was the weakest link on the Spanish team and implying that he would be the way to victory for the Czechs. There was a lot of drama about those statements but in the end he was proven right.

It wasn't that long ago that Almagro was complaining bitterly about being left off of Spain's Davis Cup teams because he wasn't part of the "in crowd". In the deciding rubber he was playing the most pressure packed match of his career. Maybe he'll do better next time.

Captain Alex Corretja strongly defended his choices including not playing Feliciano Lopez in the final rubber in an interview after the tie ended in an interview with Reuters.

Corretja was unrepentant.

"As captain I try to cope with the situation as best I can and in the end we fought as hard as we could to win a final that eluded us by a tiny, tiny margin," he told Cadena Ser.

"If we played Czech Republic again tomorrow I would choose the same four players."

The failure of Spain's bid for a fourth title in five years left a bitter taste for Corretja and his players and the absence of the injured Nadal, who has only lost once in 21 Davis Cup singles rubbers, proved decisive.

The victory by the Czechs ended a year in which their players won The Hopman Cup, The Fed Cup and the Davis Cup. Congratulations to their players.

Gisela Dulko Retires


Gisela Dulko of Argentina retired from the women's tour at the age of 27. Playing with Flavia Pennetta of Italy she was part of one of the most popular women's doubles teams. Good luck and best wishes for your future Gise!

Does Anyone Know This Man?

Reputed to be a big time tennis player he's rumored to have been practicing in private for awhile now to test out a bad knee. He's also been posting pictures of himself online with a totally different look.
Fans of this man are reportedly waiting patiently for his return in 2013. Being realistic he won't be match tough and will have to play his way into top competitive form. He is also rumored to be playing a clay court swing in the Spring.
Let's wish him well.


There is a lot of drama surrounding top Czech players Petra Kvitova and Tomas Berdych, most of it centered on Miroslav Cernosek (seen to the left in the picture below)
Apparently Cernosek, described as a "sports manager" with a long time association with Czech tennis is quite a controversial figure. Unfortunately all of the articles related to the controversy are in Czech. If you think Google translations make a hash of French and Spanish you haven't tried to translate an article from Czech. Hash doesn't begin to describe what you get. Gibberish is closer to it.

If anyone can translate this article please do. There are summaries around that have one time player Pavel Složil stating the following about Kvitova and more about the situation in Czech tennis in general:

- in late 2011 he predicted that Petra wont dominate in 2012 for sure, maybe win few tourneys
- she isn't good enough (yet) to be on par with in form Serena/Masha (brain, fitness, ...)
- he didn't know for quite a time that she had asthma problems
- he recommends her to eventually contact Marian Vajda (to change few things in health/fitness/food - Djoko like)
- he openly said that she is fat a and that is a a big reason (often with ashma) that she cannot compete at 100%
- her overweight is cause of lack of fitness and that is big factor to her confidence in matches
- he suspect that she isn't traning hard enough in fitness area
- he said that she is for sure better than 8th in the world, but

Thanks to "Lufa" on fan board Tennis Forum for the above. There are also supposed to be comments about Berdych in the same article.

ATP Challenger Tour Finals

The ATP Challenger Tour Finals will be played in Sao Paulo, Brazil from November 27 to December 1. The tournament will feature the top seven Challenger tour players based on their top ten results of 2012 and must have played in a minimum of 8 ATP Challenger Tour events.

The top ten players are listed below.

1 Lacko, Lukas (SVK) 165
2 Becker, Benjamin (GER) 135
3 Viola, Matteo (ITA) 113
4 Rosol, Lukas (CZE) 110
5 Smyczek, Tim (USA) 109
6 Russell, Michael (USA) 95
7 Struff, Jan-Lennard (GER) 93
8 Mayer, Leonardo (ARG) 90
9 Donskoy, Evgeny (RUS) 90
10 Montanes, Albert (ESP) 80

Defending champion Cedrik-Marcel Stebe is not in this years top 100

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Who Is Really Running Tennis?

by Savannah


A right nasty little war has broken out between the very rich Indian Wells Tournament Director Larry Ellison and the rest of his TD peers over prize money.

You may recall that Ellison proposed, and the Players Council accepted, Ellison's offer of an additional $800,000 in prize money to be distributed in a way that would see lower ranked players receive more money. It's that simple. A guy who fights his way through qualifying rounds only to lose in the first round would receive enough money to justify his competing in the tournament.

Unfortunately nothing is simple in tennis. Want to create a surface that is virtually untested for one of tennis major tournaments? No problem. Want to pay lower ranked players more money to ease their financial hardships (and maybe make it less likely for them to be tempted by wicked people to do illegal things) you may as well be proposing to outlaw off shore accounts.

As you know the ATP WTF's (I simply refuse to spare them and use the words those letters symbolize) are taking place so I guess the ATP Board - not the Player's Council - thought they'd be able to slip their action against their members by without the tennis public - read fans - finding out about it.

But like so many powerful they forgot about a social media thingy called Twitter. The Board split 3-3, with head honcho Brad Drewett doing the administrative version of "sudden fatigue" abstaining from casting the deciding vote thus shelving the proposal. There will be no $800,000 increase in prize money at Indian Wells this year.

There was such a hue and cry on Twitter that the ATP released the following statement justifying their vote.

"We welcome tournaments increasing prize money. However, in this case, a tournament is proposing a distribution that is not in line with the ATP rules that players and tournaments themselves have agreed to, and which every other tournament on tour follows. The ATP distribution model is designed in part to protect the middle-ranked players' share of prize money, and more evenly distribute prize money throughout every round in a tournament. We would be happy to approve a prize money increase if it complies with ATP rules on distribution."

Dissect the statement and what are they saying? Nothing. Well that's not quite true. They are saying we would make less money if we do this so we ain't doin' it. Who was against the proposal? Sports Illustrated's Jon Wertheim is reporting that IMG, the outfit that just happens to run the next event on the tour calendar that takes place in Miami, has a seat on the board.

I've written about the influence of IMG on tennis before and have always felt that it had too much power over what takes place on court.

I should also mention that while all of this drama about prize money is taking place with the ATP not a peep has been heard from the WTA. I know people get bent out of shape when it's pointed out that the women's tour is freeloading off the men's tour when it comes to prize money but I don't blame the men for being pissed off about equal pay. The top players of the men's tour talked boycott. The top players of the men's tour held out for better conditions at the majors. The top players of the men's tour took a stance against that blue stuff in Madrid. What they fight for the women get without doing a damn thing.

But that issue hasn't been raised yet so I'll move on.

Wertheim has separated himself from the herd when it comes to tennis reporting of late. I expect that somehow he'll be reined in too, especially after penning a paragraph like this:

This, after all, is tennis, the sport that can't get out of its own way. If Ellison boosted the Indian Wells prize money, how would that make other events -- most obviously the IMG-owned Miami event the following week -- look? And ... well, actually, there are no other logical reasons why an organization tasked with growing and improving the sport would turn down a volunteer increase in money. Yet, that's what happened. With IMG's representative allegedly leading the charge, the three tournament representatives on the board rejected the prize money increase. The ATP's CEO, Brad Drewett, invertebrately declined to take action. And the measure died.

So who is on the ATP Board? A quick Google search provides the answers.

Brad Drewett - Chairman
Gavin Forbes - Senior Vice President of IMG Tennis for Cleveland
Mark Webster - Chief Executive Officer of ATP Media and also serves as Vice President of Business Development of MediaPro
Charles Smith - New to the ATP Board in 2011, Charles Smith is the Managing Director/International of Juss Event, China's largest sports/events management company

To read Wertheim's entire post please go HERE

This story isn't over. It may die down but the issue isn't dead.
I'm not in the habit of siding with billionaires but in this situation the man is trying to do the right thing for the sport he loves by making the life of it's journeymen easier. That's not a selfish act.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

It's All Over But The Shouting...

by Savannah

It was his to win. The last ATP Masters 1000 of the year took place in Bercy, France as it has for the past few years. One by one the superstars of men's tennis put in an appearance, and one by one they lost matches that at any other time of the year they would've fought tooth and nail to win. London England was singing it's siren song with the ATP WTF beginning on Monday November 5 no one seemed to want to play until the end.

It's easy to say that the tournament was left to the second tier but that is really what happened. Still there was some excitement as a 21 year old from Lodz, Poland, Jerzy Jancowicz, went from the Qualifying rounds to the final showing that big men - he's 6'8" tall - don't have to be serving machines with limited movement. Don't get me wrong he has the monster serve but he can also move like a gazelle around the court. He has all the shots and showed he can hang with the big boys.
His biggest scalp of the week? That's Olympic and US Open Champion Andy Murray you see slinking off to the right in that picture.

This was young Jancowicz's best performance on a big stage. Commentators duly reported how his family had had to sell almost everything to be able to afford to keep their son on the pro tour. There were solemn pronouncements about players like Milos Raonic, John Isner and other big men were seeing their approach to the sport rendered obsolete by this youngsters mobility.

It remains to be seen how Jancowicz will perform now that he has gone from the hunter to the hunted. Last year he couldn't afford to travel to Melbourne. 2013 will see him not only travel there but be a seed.

While all of this was going on, and one player developed "sudden fatigue" to deny Jancowicz his deserved semi final victory David Ferrer, the man who at 30 was finally being noticed not just as part of the Spanish Armada but as a player with a distinct personality and attitude. With the others in the chunnel Ferrer was still flying under the radar playing hard and winning matches. He was going to make the semi's and probably the final. When he took the court on Sunday afternoon in Paris the only question was would he be able to stop the young fireball from Lodz.

The first set was a nail biter. Ferrer showed himself to be a wily opponent. By mid set he'd figured out Jancowicz's deadly drop shot and was anticipating his opponents use of it. He absorbed all of his foe's tricks while making him move, using the movement to wear the youngster down mentally and in the end physically. Jancowicz was pressing in the second set and finally hit the wall that was already looming in the later stages of the first set.

It's hard to believe that this was David's first M1000 crown but it was and it's long overdue. His confidence is going to be sky high going into Melbourne and that will make him a factor where ever he lands in the draw.

Congratulations David Ferrer. You're no longer just another Spaniard.

Fed Cup 2012

The Fed Cup Final had a little something for everyone. Lucie Šafářová played the best tennis of her career. Ana Ivanovic redeemed herself by defeating Petra Kvitova who seemed to have her mojo back on day one but had lost it again on day two. Jelena Jankovic left the court on day two in tears and said she as finished with Fed Cup.

In the end the Czechs lifted the trophy aloft for the second year in a row. Lets see if Šafářová will carry her great play into 2013. We can also ask if Petra Kvitova's time is over before it really began.

I was never a fan of Jelena Jankovic - all the drama on court was just too much - but she's never been the same after having Ricardo Sanchez as her coach.


Speaking of Sanchez he's coaching Nadia Petrova now. Earlier this year he tried coaching Caroline Wozniacki. It didn't work out well and if there was any bitterness he let his player do the talking today. It was Wozniacki who ended up taking a medical time out for a calf injury to cover up the loss she knew was coming. The "I'll pretend I have an injury cause I'm gonna lose" thing is becoming a regular feature of the WTA. It needs to stop.

WTA $125's and ATP WTF

The WTA is premiering this level of challenger in Asia. The first tournament was held in Taipei and saw promising French player Kristina Mladenovic win the title. There will be another $125k tournament in Pune, India this week. Of course no one will be paying much attention with the ATP WTF taking place in London.

So let's see. How did the Top 8 of the ATP get assigned for the Round Robin?


[1] N Djokovic (SRB)
[3] A Murray (GBR)
[5] T Berdych (CZE)
[7} J-W Tsonga (FRA)


[2} R Federer (SUI)
[4] D Ferrer (ESP)
[6] J. M. del Potro (ARG)
[8] J Tipsarevic (SRB)

I guess they gave the Monogram carte blanche in deciding the groups. Group A is Murderer's Row. Group B is the Cakewalk Division.

This picture seems to indicate that he's Number One. I'm guessing that's how he wants to be seen and what he expects the outcome to be.

I'm already pissed off and not a set has been played yet.