Wednesday, January 23, 2013

And Then There Were Four...

by Savannah

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There are four women left standing. We started with 128 and are now down to four. Each woman has her own story.
One seems to delight in the companionship of her friend. To make the Final Four of her draw she has had to play women who were determined to beat her but who in the end didn't have the skill set to get past her. Soft draw? She hasn't played anyone in the top 30. Being ranked #1 has its perks.

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You think our first semifinalist had it easy? You haven't seen the biggest cakewalk of them all. This woman has played no one who could threaten her. There was a lot of hype about her third round match but it was just that, hype. Seasoned tennis observers knew her opponent isn't what she was and after that it's been smooth sailing. She hasn't really been tested either.

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Our next semifinalist had a different road. She was cruising right along but it was clear her biggest obstacle would be her round of 16 match with the Sorceress, the player who weaves a spell of deflection and passivity while ensnaring you in her web. When you look up balls are whizzing past you and you're on your way back to the locker room having no idea what just happened. That didn't happen to this woman. She let her opponent know that she was on to her and that she wasn't falling for her tricks.

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And then there's the Kid. She entered the tournament as an up and comer, someone of whom good things were expected further down the road. She was passed over for an award that by rights should've been hers but as they say revenge is a dish best served cold. She stared down the most powerful, and the best female player of them all and didn't blink or wonder what to do when her opponent began to break down physically. She did what she had to do and won. Oh and the one who got the Newcomer award? Long gone.

So the Kid will play the woman ranked Number 1 after beating the woman considered Number 1. The Siberian Bansidhe will play the Realist. Who do I think will win? The only one who has really been tested is the Kid. Readers here know my motto: A soft draw does not a champion make. I don't know who will play the Final let alone who will win. There are two semifinalists who were hardly tested. One made her life difficult but the other one was content to beat up on lesser beings. Maybe I'll be proven wrong this time no?

End Note

Andy Murray just keeps right on making friends and influencing people doesn't he? Anyone who has been paying attention knows that one male player gets soft draws, whatever schedule he wants, and dictates who the next head of his tennis association will be. He routinely skips Davis Cup but is praised for doing so. I'm tired of the whole thing really and wouldn't even mention the fact that he's played exactly one match in the heat of the Australian sun except that Mr. Murray's "camp" has made it an issue.

As many know this special player has never liked playing at night but suddenly he's playing night matches without a word of protest.

So it was with a wry grin that I read in the Daily Mail , a British newspaper, that Murray's "camp" complained about the situation.

Maybe I should say that they brought attention to the fact that one player was being favored over all the others in terms of scheduling and court assignment. It's always amusing to read the excuses the man's Worshippers come up with to explain away these things. Of course they're saying he's the biggest draw and that's why he's playing at night. Every match at night. No broiling summer sun. It's just like that "tough" draw the Worshippers keep talking about. When their deity plays someone he has a 17 and 2 won/loss record against that's tough? Maybe they're hyperventilating or breathing in too much of their own hot air.

The thing is this has been going on for a few years now. I'm glad Andy's team pointed out how unfair the favoritism is to other players. But it's not going to change anything. What is it they say about revenge again?


Fred66 said...

Savannah, I was SO looking forward to watching Serena make Sharapova pay in the final for her over the top and low-class celebration after beating Venus. Maybe we all jinxed Serena by assuming she was going to win this no matter what. What did you make of that fist-pumping by Shazza by the way? On a more serious note, why do you think Serena decided to play doubles, having a nagging back injury? Did she feel obligated to big sis?

Savannah said...

I thought it was tacky since the Venus she was playing isn't the Venus of old. That said beating her is still a big deal.

I was actually surprised that they played doubles. Then when Venus crashed out of singles and Serena hurt her ankle I figured all concerned would do the right thing and withdraw from doubles.

In hind sight I'm sure that's part of the discussion. I would've liked to see Serena dismantle Pova too by the way. Let's see how Li, who is 8-4 in her H2H against Pova, does.

Fred66 said...

Seriously, Savannah, you complain again about players like Vika, Shazza, and Federer getting soft draws, but the reality is that the Big 4 on the men's side, and the Big 3 on the women's side are so strong, and so superior to the rest of their respective fields, that any draw they get nowadays would be considered soft. You can't blame Vika for not playing anyone in the Top 30, if her prospective opponents just don't live up to their seeding.(I bet she would have prefered to play Wozniacki than Kuznetsova in the quarters). Davydenko might be in decline, just like Venus, but he is a former Top 3 player, so facing him in the 2nd round was no walk-over. I honestly tought Raonic would give Federer much more trouble in the 4th round, considering how close their matches have been.
All things considered, I think Djokovic is going to beat Murray for the title.( Murray denies complaining about the scheduling by the way. It came from people in his camp, not himself). On the women's side, I don't have a clue. My gut is saying Shazza, but seeing Na Li take this would not shock me.

TennisAce said...

The final will be between Vika and Pova and I am hoping that Vika decides that last year was not a fluke and delivers another beatdown ... Istanbul notwithstanding.

As for your comments regarding Fed, come on, even Murray has acknowledged that Fed matches make for better television than Murray's. In addition, why would anyone want to put a Murray match on during prime time? The fellow only draws ratings in Scotland. No one else cares about him or his tennis.

Tennis memories are short. Fed has played more Davis Cup matches than Roddick, yet he is being villified for skipping Davis Cup? OK then. He is 31 years old. At some point in time he has to look to his future and that of his family and put aside the interests of those who would want to dictate how he should deal with his career.

Now that Stan is The Man, maybe he can become the Swiss No. 1 and take up the mantle of Davis Cup.

Finally, I am a bit apprehensive as to all the Sloane love. Is it because they do see her as a bright prospect, or is it because she is media friendly and they can sell her?

One last thing ... tennis is a business. You need people who are business oriented to run this sport. Makes no sense to get someone who is just used to tournament play to deal with sponsors etc.

Savannah said...

TennisAce I hope that Sloane doesn't get caught up in the USTA hype and thinks she's on her way to being top dog in the WTA. I have two words for her: Melanie Oudin. Melanie should be a cautionary tale for all young up and coming tennis players.

Don't forget Sloane is also working with USTA's David Nainkin. ESPN showed him almost as much as they showed the match. Don't forget the WS and how Richard and Oracene didn't let them get caught up early in their careers.

As for my complaints about soft draws Rafael Nadal never ever got a draw that he would be able to cakewalk through. Pova is routinely "hidden" in the draw and Federer gets to play matches against people who walk on court afraid and in awe and don't play him hard letting him dictate the matches. Azarenka is not a favorite of TPTB and does occasionally face players that give her a problem.

As for tennis being a business all sports is a business. I am very sorry about Mr. Drewett's illness but he wasn't going to do anything the TD's didn't want. They don't like Ellison who owns IW and preferred letting a tournament go to South America than letting him buy it and keep it in the US. My biggest fear is that someone like Gimelstob will be appointed and that would be a disaster.

Karen said...

FWIW I doubt that Fed would allow Gimelstob to ever be appointed head of the ATP.

As for the draws, there are no tough draws for the Big 4 (Nadal included) in a Grand Slam. There are players who can play spoiler, and frankly the only player that every top player really feared was Soderling. He really did not care who you were. He came to play to win.

Case in point, every time I listen to Ferrer, a player who I really admire, speak so deferentially about his place in men's tennis makes me cringe.

If you check head to heads of the top 4 and the rest of the Tour it is really a shameful statistic.

The same thing now obtains on the women's side. The top 3 in women's tennis have taken their games to another level. I have never seen 3 women play with such focus and determination. It is like we are in the era of the early 2000s when you had Davenport, the WS, Capriati, Henin, and Clijsters. These 3 at the top are as tough as it gets and the rest of the field knows it.

Fred66 said...

Savannah, would you at least give us a rational and viable explanation of why you think The Powers That Be would have it in for Nadal? He's an inmensely popular player who delivers when it comes to ratings and attendance; why would anyone want to sabotage him, they would only be hurting their own interest if he loses early in a tourney. If you're going to make these allegations, at least back them up properly.