Wednesday, February 20, 2013



Indian Wells finally has its windfall.

On Wednesday, the ATP Tour cleared the way for the BNP Paribas Open to award an across-the-board prize money increase that had been hanging in the balance since late last year.

The ATP announced the decision on its website: "Prize money at the 2013 BNP Paribas Open will increase to $5,030,402 following the ATP Board of Directors' approval of Indian Wells' proposed prize money distribution for 2013, the ATP announced on Wednesday. The approval of the prize money distribution leads to more than $860,000 of additional prize money on offer across the men's singles and doubles events for 2013. By virtue of the approval, every player in the men's singles and doubles events will earn above the minimum prize money levels per round established for the tournament."

The decision settles an issue that has been simmering since last fall, when Larry Ellison, the billionaire co-founder of Oracle Corp. and owner of the Indian Wells, Calif., event, offered to boost the purse by $800,000 for this year's tournament, which begins March 4.

But in November the ATP board — made up of three player representatives and three tournament representatives — reached a 3-3 deadlock. ATP executive chairman and president Brad Drewett could have cast the deciding vote but abstained.

According to the ATP, the increase would have violated its prize money distribution formula.

The move infuriated past and present players. It also exposed the convoluted management structure and conflicts of interest that have long vexed the sport.

"To me, this underlines what is completely wrong with the system," former pro and ESPN commentator Brad Gilbert said Wednesday.

"I'm not going to call it broken," American Ryan Harrison said last week of the ATP. "There is room for improvement."

The prize money issue has reignited debate about the deep divisions within the sport.

The ATP, co-controlled by the players and the tournaments, does not want to set prize money precedents that veer from its model — and could irk other tournaments that would feel diminished in Indian Wells' wake.

At the same time, turning down Ellison, who has poured money into Indian Wells since acquiring it in 2010, fueled player discontent and rapidly became a PR fiasco.

At the SAP Open in San Jose, Calif., last week, several players expressed dismay.

"I think people from other sports reading it are like, 'Wow, that's kinda weird,' " said No. 16 John Isner, the top-ranked American man.

Earlier this month, BNP Paribas Open CEO Raymond Moore told The Desert Sun that he was frustrated by politics blocking the vote. If not passed, he said the tournament would revert to 2011 prize money allocations of about $4.5 million, a sizable cut for players.

The total purse would have been about $5.3 million this year if the board had failed to approve the increase.

"I hope they'll approve it, but I'm not optimistic," Moore said. "There's an inherent conflict of interest with the tournament directors. It's the tournament directors who are blocking it. Why would they want to block it? They want to put the muzzle or the bridle on Indian Wells or the BNP Paribas Open, so we don't outdistance the tournaments around the world. I can't think of another reason to block it."

The BNP Paribas Open also increased prize money last year, then described as a one-time situation. The money, however, was distributed only from the quarterfinals on.

In the months since, the distribution of prize money, mostly for the lower rounds, has been a rallying point for male players. In response, big tournaments such as the U.S. Open and Australian Open have directed a larger percentage of money at earlier rounds in announcing their purses.

Gilbert said Wednesday the Indian Wells situation was a "joke" and "travesty."

He called for tennis to hire a commissioner to oversee the sport and its various governing bodies, which includes International Tennis Federation. The ITF governs the four majors and the Davis Cup and Fed Cup.

He also said players should form a union.

"The system needs to be blown up and changed," Gilbert added. "Maybe then we can rewrite the bylaws because they are antiquated."

Via @dougrobson

Crocodile Tears and Other Tennis Oddities

by Savannah

From Wikipedia:
Crocodile tears (or superficial sympathy) are a false or insincere display of emotion such as a hypocrite crying fake tears of grief.
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The tennis tournament at San Jose, California, is no more. It's last champion is Milos Raonic of Canada. The owners of the tournament sold it to people in Rio di Janeiro, Brazil.

This wasn't something that was announced at the end of the tournament. It's been known for weeks. But this is the week the tennis establishment chose to whine about it, to express its collective grief at the loss of not only this tournament but the one in Los Angeles as well.

I found this article about it written by one of the big shots of tennis journalism.

...When the United States was dominating men's tennis and former major champions such as Sampras and Agassi were happy to play at one of their national tournaments, spectator attendances were good.

However, after Agassi retired in 2006 and Europeans began to dominate the tour, the event was unable to draw the very best players to the West Coast in early February when they knew they would have to travel to California for the mandatory Indian Wells tournament in March.

As well as the San Jose Open, California lost another of its events last year when the Los Angeles Open was sold and relocated to Bogota, Colombia.
"I look at France - they hang on to their events. If one city's event is not working they find another place for it to work and it's a wonderful way to keep their players plugging into the highest levels of game.

"In terms of player development and exposure to highest levels of game, I think it's worst possible scenario for the U.S."

I found these comments, one by Justin Gimelstob and the last by Leif Shiras, both former American players, amusing in view of the fact that the USTA set out a few years ago to destroy the Spring European clay court season to protect it's players who had no idea how to play on the slow red dirt of Europe and to try and force the top Europeans to come to the States. The Europeans took a firm stand and while some events got screwed and Monte Carlo was downgraded from a mandatory the Spring, outside of the two back to back hard court Masters in the United States, has remained a clay court extravaganza.

But before I get deeper into San Jose lets look at the farce surrounding Indian Wells. I know it's the BNP Paribas Open but for many tennis fans it's simply Indian Wells.

As you will recall Larry Ellis, the extremely wealthy owner of the tournament and avid tennis fan has worked very hard to make his event world class in coverage and players. It was reported that he was trying to convince WTA #1 Serena Williams and her sister Venus Williams to play the event again. It's obvious that hasn't happened but at least he made the effort.

That isn't what got him in trouble with the tournament director's on the ATP board though. What had them pulling their hair out by the roots was his plan to meet player demands and increase prize money. Feeling that Ellis would open the gates to the pitchfork and fire wielding peasants (read players) making increased demands his request was voted down.

So of course the apologists for the tour are now penning columns taking the position that voting down the pay increase for Indian Wells was the right thing to do.

It’s great that Indian Wells has this money and wants to share it with the players, but there’s a reason the Masters events are set up as as equals—similar prize money (some adjustments for length and currency), the same points, and mandatory entry. That means they don’t have to pay guarantees, which is huge, because it means the cash that would otherwise be thrown at the top players can instead go to prize money and tour payments. On top of that, it creates a series of identifiable events with consistent fields between the Grand Slams.

Generally, the feeling seems to be that this has worked out well. Do we really want to start messing with the Masters? Because if each tournament starts setting its own amounts, there’s going to be competition to see who can provide the most and they might no longer be equal. That might get the players’ prize-money increases to begin with, but could also lead to guarantees returning at this level, and tournaments folding or dropping back to a lower level. And that would mean less money for the average player.

Let's break this argument down.

The first point is that all of the Masters events are organized along the same lines

Secondly there are no guarantees for the top players. That money will continue to go toward prize money and payments to the tour.

The standardization of Masters events ensures that the top players will appear.

Lastly, it seems that competition among Masters level tournaments would increase competition between them and that the dreaded guarantees would become part of the equation.

Now, if you recall Jerzy Janowicz said that it made him feel better that the top players, except for Roger Federer, put themselves out acting for monetary distributions that would HELP lower ranked players not harm them. This article actually misrepresents the players position but it's easy to do that if your sources are middling former players and sources tightly linked to the ATP Board.

An article on ESPN about the legacy of current ATP CEO Brad Drewett who is stepping down due to illness says the following:

Interesting to read that the next stage of his(Drewett's) plan was to boost prize money at the Masters tournaments, yet he abstained from being the deciding vote in approving the Indian Wells prize money increase in November.

Lets be very clear. The USTA, through it's influence on the ATP Board of Directors, did all it could to try and force the top players to come play hard court tournaments by destroying the European clay court season. Instead it is the North American tournaments that are packing their bags and leaving for foreign shores. I dare any tennis fan to look at the Main Draws in Memphis and not wonder if you are looking at Challenger event line ups.

There's an old saying about what happens when you dig a grave for someone. I think the USTA has put itself in that situation.


Quote of the Week via Sloane Stephens
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"Obviously it's really tough week in and week out playing perfect tennis and just really being able to execute," Stephens quoted as saying. I sincerely hope that the United States tennis establishment doesn't ruin Sloane's career before it even starts.
Melanie Oudin Sloane. Think about what the pressure and premature glory did to her.

If a tree falls in the all know that expression. If no one hears it does it make noise is how the expression ends. Both WTA #1 Serena Williams and WTA #2 Victoria Azarenka quietly withdrew from the Premier event in Dubai with injury. The sky hasn't fallen, the earth is still spinning on its axis, and I haven't seen anyone losing their shit over the withdrawals. Both were expected and its understood that both women want to rest. Serena will get a nice long break before she plays Miami and Azarenka will rest before playing Indian Wells.

By the way Azarenka did nothing to improve her cheater reputation in the Doha final when she continually held up her racquet when Serena was ready to serve and the chair, Eva Asderaki, did nothing about it. The crowd was firmly behind Serena the entire tournament and I'm sure it was a welcome change from American crowds for Serena.

Speaking of negligent chair umpires if you didn't see Caroline Wozniacki's father going H.A.M. on the chair here's the video of the incident.

Keep in mind no one suffered any consequences. The father refused to leave and the daughter was being a brat, her frequent on court persona these days. Now imagine if Richard Williams had been present at the Doha final when Azarenka was getting away with murder and jawed like this at the chair. If they have SWAT teams in Qatar they would've been brought in to drag Mr. Williams out by the hair. Instead the TD simply laughs it off and amazingly the chair umpire does what Caroline wanted and orders the point be replayed.

I need someone, anyone, to explain to me why fines weren't levied. Oh, wait, my bad. It was the WTA CEO who nicknamed Caroline "Sunshine". I guess she can do no wrong even when she embarrasses the sport and herself with this display. The only thing I can conclude is that if you're a blonde and a favorite of the WTA establishment you can do whatever you want on court and nothing will happen to you. Not that I think Azarenka is a big favorite but if any other player did what she did during the Doha final she would've been called for hindrance. Both of these women represent the WTA in the wider world of sports. That blatant cheating and intimidation is tolerated when some players do it is a disgrace to not just women's tennis but all of tennis.

To show what happens when cheating is tolerated Sara Errani was playing Sorana Cirstea in Dubai today. Cirstea got herself on a roll and Errani called for the trainer. Nine to ten minutes later she resumed play and that was all she wrote for Ms Cirstea. What can the WTA do to Errani when they did nothing to Ms Azarenka? I'd be willing to bet the only players who won't pull crap like this are surnamed Williams. They respect the game too much to disgrace it in this manner.

I do have a question though: When is the last time Andy Murray played a tournament?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Queen of Tennis - And The WTA Top 4

by Savannah

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She's 31 years old. The last time we saw her one of her ankles was the size of a grapefruit. And still with an ankle swollen so badly her foot was distorted and a back that was giving her grief she tried to play and of course thought she should have won. But she came away close to number one and showed up in Doha needing two wins to take the crown Victoria Azarenka did everything in her power to hold on to. It wasn't a walk in the park for Serena Williams - you knew that was who I was talking about right? Petra Kvitova roused herself from her recent slumber and had Serena down 2-0 and 4-1. But Serena was not going to lose. And thanks to her grit and determination an American sits on top of the WTA.

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No more "real number one" talk. No more "considered to be" number one. She is number one. She's survived blood clots and surgery to repair tendons torn by glass. There's a scar on her knee, a souvenir of arthroscopic surgery. And these are just some of the injuries we are aware of. She's survived bad calls, heavy fines and disrespect to take her place in the history of women's tennis. Congratulations Serena Williams.

The Top Four

Let's look at the Quarterfinal Results of the WTA event in Doha, Qatar.


Singles - Quarterfinals

(1) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) d. (6) Sara Errani (ITA) 62 62
(2) Serena Williams (USA) d. (7) Petra Kvitova (CZE) 36 63 75
(3) Maria Sharapova (RUS) d. (8) Samantha Stosur (AUS) 62 64
(4) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) d. (10) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) 62 75

Notice anything? Seeds 1-4 made it through to the semi finals defeating seeds 6-8 and 10. Marion Bartoli, seeded #9, lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova in the second round.

I've seen some talk about the four women who sit on top of the WTA rankings and some not so subtle references to the Big Four of the ATP. I think it's time to give credit where credit is due. These four women manage to make it to the late rounds - quarter and semi final rounds - in almost every tournament they enter. Each woman has her own distinct style and her own rabid fans. Consistency is no longer a word used solely to defend slamless number one ranked players in the WTA. The top three women have all won Slams so that story can be set aside for now. There are many reasons to bash the WTA but for now I think it's fair to take a minute and celebrate the fact that for once the WTA has four players it can compare to the Big Four of the ATP without anyone snickering in the background. Good work ladies!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Boy Has Become A Man

by Savannah

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The entire tennis world, professionals and fandom, knows Rafael Nadal returned to the courts this week in Chile. His practices were streamed live on Chilean television crashing their feed several times.

Today an interview with L'Equip, the French sports online journal, was released. It's Rafa talking about himself and letting his personality show.

My thanks go to "Moondancer" who translated the interview for Vamos Brigade .

Enjoy. Or not.

L’Equipe, 7 February 2013
By Frédéric Bernès

So, there is a post-Lukas Rosol. But, we had to wait almost 8 months before Rafael Nadal could turn the page on that nightmare of a defeat in the second round of Wimbledon on the 28th of June 2012. He’s suffering from Hoffa’s syndrome on his left knee, infiltrated since Roland Garros and it still hurts him today. But, according to the doctors, the healing is right around the corner, very close.

The idea for this interview in Chili was discussed and sealed with his PR agent during the Australian Open. When we arrived here, we were suddenly stopped. He was said to be stressed, worried, not wanting to open up and not very eager to have an interview before his first round. And since Monday morning…ring, ring…the telephone sounds. If we could meet in his hotel. Arriving there, we witness him undergoing a weird event organised by the sponsor of the tournament. A room, teenage music and whole collection of guests from reality tv shows. All in mini-skirts and revealing shirts, the jet-set of Viña del Mar has its time in the spotlights with Nadal. The women ask him questions he can’t hear because of the music, cameras light up and then, it stops. Done. So, we go upstairs to his room with his press agent Benito Perez-Barbadillo and his manager Carlos Costa.

As usual, Nadal doesn’t look at his watch. At the end of his last answer, after a 50-minute conversation, the tape recorder is stopped. But Nadal kept on talking. He went downstairs to the lobby to join his uncle Toni and his physio Rafael Maymo after which the discussion continues. Since two or three lolitas are still in the vicinity, he had to pose for more pictures. Which he did, calmly.

Q: What’s the predominant feeling today? Relieved to have been able to put an end to the forced stop, joy to be able to play again, stressed out of fear of not going to do well or fear of still hurting…?

Rafa: Fear? No. Stress, yes. That’s normal. I feel relieved and joyful, that’s certain. In fact, the theme of the moment is patience. I need to take it step by step and accept that I’m not going to be at my maximum level right away. I haven’t played in seven months. If I’m not humble, it’s not going to work. I’m not afraid because I know in what state my knee is in. Since three weeks, all the tests I have undergone have shown perfect results. The truth is that my left knee is in fantastic shape compared with the other one (laughs). I know now that if I run, I won’t risk torn tendons. That’s “importantissime”. The doctors have promised me that. So, it’s alright, no anxiety. Even if the tendon still gives me pain...

Q: Is that pain normal. Did the doctors warn you about it beforehand?

Rafa: Yes, they told me that it would disappear gradually. Normally, it should be gone by the end of February. I will regain my normal mobility on court. I just need to give my patellar tendon time to get used to intense efforts.

Q: How would you describe that pain?

Rafa: It’s a settled pain. I could feel it in the morning while getting up and in the afternoon while I’m eating or while hitting a backhand. My first two days in Chili were difficult: I was feeling a lot of pain and I didn’t have one good training session. On Sunday and Monday, it went well. So, I was very pleased by that. I need to accept it. Before, I had pain 9 days out of 10, then 8 out of 10 and it’s getting less and less….But, well, pain or not, the overwhelming feeling is the joy of being here, to train with the pros, to have a match, to play, to feel the competition…

Q: You have never had to stop for such a long time. Starting again now must be more stressful than in 2006 when you had a foot injury which forced you to stop for three months.

Rafa: Honestly? No. Remember that my foot injury was bad. Doctors painted me a picture of the end of my career. With my knee, that was never the case. What was different is that in 2006, I was just starting out. Today, I’m still only 26 years old. I still have time and I want to continue playing for years. What both injuries have in common is that nobody found the formula to get rid of the pain.

Q: Being sidelined for nearly eight months, what was the toughest moment?

Rafa: The worst was when I realised that I could not compete in the Olympic Games. At the start, I thought that I would heal quickly. What was difficult is that my knee let go at the best moment of my career.

Q: The best? You’ve won more in 2008, 2009 or 2010…
Rafa: Yes, but in 2012, I really played better. The Australian Open final against Djokovic, even if I lost it, was great. I continued to win Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome, Roland Garros. I exploded on court.

Q: If you had lost against Delbonis, would that have been bad?

Rafa: No.

Q: How about having high expectation? And ambitions?

Rafa: I haven’t lost them. That, never! But here, the result is the least important of all things. Same with the ranking. If all goes well, my goals will change obviously within two months. I aim to be at 100% to attack in Monte Carlo and in the following events on clay. To lose here, pffft, that’s no problem. Seven months of rest, seven months of never being able to practice at full tilt: the logical thing would be for me to lose here. It would only be a drama if my knee would hurt too much.

Q: If those knee tests are perfect since four weeks, that means that even without that stomach virus in December, you wouldn’t be ready to compete in the Australian Open.

Rafa: That’s correct. The question was: can I win in Melbourne? The answer was no. I don’t see myself going to a grand slam with that answer is no. Here, in Viña, it would not affect me as much as if I would have lost early in Melbourne.

Q: A lot of people are talking about your return as if you’re starting a second career. Is this correct?

Rafa: My career is already quite full as it is. I don’t feel like beginning another one. (laughs). I will continue with this one if that’s alright with you (laughs). I’m still the same. I still feel passionate about the game. I still have the same demands with every shot I hit. I’m still as motivated as before to train. If my knee allows me to train for longer than three hours per day at full tilt and if I can run without thinking about my knee or the pain, why wouldn’t I be able to do what I did before? The fact that I was playing excellently when I was forced to stop, is helping me right now. The memory (of those good sensations) is really fresh.

Q: With what’s happening with your knee, are we going to get back to the Nadal of before? Very strong on clay, capable of winning Wimbledon but in difficulty on hardcourts?

Rafa: Everything depends on the knee. If it holds up, I don’t have the intention of changing my schedule by playing more on clay than before. Why? Because if you want to become the first, second or third in the world ranking, you have to play and win on hardcourts. Honestly, I think it’s possible.

Q: If we tell you that you will win the US Open next year, do you think that this would be possible?

Rafa: I will tell you that I don’t know. And I’m telling you that I didn’t know it in 2010 before winning it. But if my knee is well, give me a reason to prevent me from believing in it. Just one. I spent the previous eight years being the world number one or two, so I dare to hope that I haven’t forgotten how to play tennis within seven months. I don’t want to appear arrogant but I just want to say think that I can go back to that level.

Q: And if we tell you that you’re going to win Roland Garros in four months, does that seem possible to you?

Rafa: I’m telling you that I don’t know (laughs). Nobody knows. If I can play Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome the way I want it, I will have a chance. And I will try it.

Q: In Australia, Mats Wilander said that you won’t have enough time and that even if your name is Nadal, you will be an outsider in Paris this year…

Rafa: Good. Alright. We’ll see. It’s true that I won’t be the favourite in Paris but I don’t need to be in order to win.

Q: Agreed, but do you need this here in order to get back to the top 4 in order to prevent a quarter final against Djokovic, Federer or Murray?

Rafa: First of all, I still need to get to the quarter finals and given all the points that I have to defend in the coming months, it will be difficult from here to the end of May. After that, do I need it to win Roland Garros? No. I can get back to the level needed for the top 4 without being in the top 4. After all, what’s more difficult: to get back to the top 4 from now until Roland Garros or to win Roland Garros? In my opinion, the first is harder.

Q: After the recent finals in New York, Melbourne, some – among which Marian Vajda, the trainer of Djokovic – have said that this is the start of the Djokovic-Murray era. You have an ego. How does it take this?

Rafa: My ego is calm. (laughs). It doesn’t bother me to hear that. It’s not wrong. It’s correct at the moment, isn’t it? These are two superb players who have played the last two grand slam finals. It would imply and end to the Federer-Nadal rivalry one but who knows. I’m only one year older than Djokovic and Murray so perhaps now is not the time to bury me. Eight months ago, I was in an excellent position to become world number one again. Let’s not forget to quickly. Now, I will try to nudge myself in that Djokovic-Murray era (smiles).

Q: Did you watch the Australian Open?

Rafa: No, I didn’t have access to Eurosport.

Q: Excuse me?

Rafa: Our satellite tv channels have changed in January so that’s why. Well, I did see images of it. What can I say about it? First of all, Djokovic has proven once again that he’s a great competitor he is. Secondly, that he’s a superb tennis player. And thirdly, that he is a player who doesn’t get injured. That’s lucky. He can do what he wants and it all works well for him. Give me two years without an injury and….

Q: Have you undergone anti-doping tests during your time off?

Rafa: Nine. Three blood tests and six urine tests. That’s a lot for somebody who is stuck at home without being able to play. The last two weeks, I was tested four times, two of which close together.

Q: At the end of the previous season, Murray and Federer regretted the fact that they had less doping tests in recent months, esp. out-of-competition tests. Do you agree?

Rafa: If they decide tomorrow that I’ll need to be tested weekly, that’s no problem at all. Great. Life is beautiful, perfect. I need to know that those I’m playing against are as clean as I am. So, if you say that more testing needs to be done, that’s easy. When you say a thing like that, everybody applauds and everybody would sign for it.

Q: Don’t you think that the results of the doping tests need to be made public?

Rafa: That would be the best. That’s the thing! If all tests would be made public, it would calm down the rumours surrounding the sport. I’m all for it.

Q: What do you think of the possibility of introducing a biological passport in tennis?

Rafa: I don’t know what it is (laughs). Biological passport, the Puerto trial, that’s far from my world. What’s happening right now in Spain in a court of law, is something that I don’t understand. I don’t understand why doctor Fuentes doesn’t give names. I don’t understand why the judge doesn’t ask him to name them. That has disappointed me…It would be best if the doctor just tells them and those who are caught, suffer the consequences. I don’t know why they don’t go right down to the bottom of it all. We need to cleanse it properly. I have heard that this doctor has worked with foreign athletes but because the doctor is Spanish, the prejudice is mainly aimed at Spanish sports people. As a Spanish sports person, this affects me badly. Because of people like Armstrong, all our reputations are in doubt.

Q: Do you know that some people think that your 7-month absence is due to a silent doping ban?

Rafa: Yes and those rumours exist because those doping tests are not made public. The ITF needs to be transparent. Same with WADA. If not, it will continue and I will be forced to have to hear the stupid comments Christophe Rochus (*) utters without any evidence. It’s incredible to me that something like that gets published without any evidence. Give me evidence and I’ll be okay with it.

Q: The ITF says that the blood tests are too expensive and that…

Rafa: (interrupts). You know what is costly? The bad image of the sport. That’s what has a high price.

Q: Viña del Mar is your first tournament since the umpires were asked to be more strict with the 25 seconds of time between two points. This change could be called the “Nadal-Djokovic” change since you two are particularly slow and particularly targeted. Did you train in respecting that time?

Rafa: I’m slow, I recognise that. But for me, to apply those 25 seconds in all circumstances will affect the quality of the game. If you strictly apply 25 seconds, my US Open final in 2011, especially the third set, and the Australian Open final in 2012 would not have the same level. It’s impossible to keep on playing incredible points one after the other if you don’t have time to take a breath. It happens that I’m slow after a normal point. When the umpires sanctions me then or gives me a warning, no problem. But if you’ve just played a crazy point, no. Otherwise, what will happen after an enormous point is that your serve or the shot after that will miss the line by 3 meters. That’s not tennis, that. They tell me that those changes are made for the tv public, but don’t you think that those people watching tennis on tv would prefer beautiful points being disputed? No?

Frédéric Bérnes

(*) Mid-January, the Walloon who was the world number 38 in 2006 and now retired, has uttered suspicions on Belgian radio on the true reason behind the long absences of Rafael Nadal and Robin Söderling, both sidelined for months, the first because of a knee injury and the second because of mono. About Nadal: “How can you be so strong in Roland Garros and a month later, supposedly, you can’t play any more? That’s what is suspicious, but there is no proof. It could be that he really is injured.”

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Return to Form, A Surprise, And Davis Cup

by Savannah

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Maria Kirilenko is one of those players who, when she is on, you ask yourself how she hasn't won more titles. It's part of what makes tennis such a fascinating sport to watch in my opinion. You need grit and guts in order to get the glory. It's never good when a tennis player becomes known for being a "babe" and not for her game.

Kirilenko always fights though. She doesn't scream and yell, yowl or go through the histrionics some players use to get on fans radar. It's good to see her back in the winners circle.

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A couple of years ago Mona Barthel of Germany was being talked about as the woman who would help resurrect women's tennis in Germany. Maybe it was too much too soon for her and she seemed lost on court.

Leave it to the WTA to hold a Premier event after a Slam. Did anyone seriously expect Venus Williams to play? Francesca Schiavone was given a wild card into Qualifying and crashed out in the first round. As for Petra Kvitova I think it's time for concern. She also needed a wild card and was seeded second in the Main Draw. She lost to Stefanie Voegele in her first match. She's holding onto the Top Ten at #8 but is she circling the bowl? It's hard being the hunted instead of the hunter as the French Wise Woman Marion Bartoli said.

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Back in Thailand the ageless one Kimiko Date-Krumm teamed up with Casey Dellacqua to take the doubles title.

In Paris the team of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci romped to a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Andrea Hlavackova and Liezel Huber.

Davis Cup

Despite the US Davis Cup team's installation of the tennis equivalent of an ice skating rink it took dogged play by Sam Querrey to defeat Tiago Alves of Brazil in the fifth rubber of their tie played in Jacksonville, Florida.

Usually there is some drama over where the next tie will be played but the decision had already been made. The US Team will face Serbia in Boise, Idaho.
There was already some grumbling about the sparse crowds in Jacksonville. I hope the ITF knows that the spring thaw comes late to the Rocky Mountains. I'm just saying. Oh, and that the Serbian team will not be bothered by a super fast court.

With no real drama coming out of Jacksonville there was a lot of interest in the tie between Canada and defending champions Spain. None of Spain's top players would be there and yet there was still a chance that the Spanish team would find a way to win. The Canadians were determined to prove that against the C team from Spain they could pull off what would still be an upset. When the smoke cleared they had.

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Canada will face Italy in the next round.

Davis Cup Results


CANADA defeated SPAIN 3-2
Venue: Thunderbird Sports Centre, Vancouver, CAN (hard – indoor)

Milos Raonic (CAN) d. Albert Ramos (ESP) 67(5) 64 64 64
Frank Dancevic (CAN) d. Marcel Granollers (ESP) 61 62 62
Marcel Granollers/Marc Lopez (ESP) d. Daniel Nestor/Vasek Pospisil (CAN) 46 64 67(4) 63 62
Milos Raonic (CAN) d. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) 63 64 62
Albert Ramos (ESP) d. Frank Dancevic (CAN) 75 64

ITALY defeated CROATIA 3-2
Venue: Palavela, Turin, ITA (clay – indoor)

Marin Cilic (CRO) d. Paolo Lorenzi (ITA) 61 67(6) 46 63 62
Andreas Seppi (ITA) d. Ivan Dodig (CRO) 62 67(2) 64 64
Simone Bolelli/Fabio Fognini (ITA) d. Marin Cilic/Ivan Dodig (CRO) 36 61 63 76(11)
Marin Cilic (CRO) d. Andreas Seppi (ITA) 63 63 75
Fabio Fognini (ITA) d. Ivan Dodig (CRO) 46 64 64 64

SERBIA defeated BELGIUM 3-2
Venue: Spiroudome de Charleroi, Charleroi, BEL (clay – indoor)

Viktor Troicki (SRB) d. David Goffin (BEL) 16 36 76(5) 64 64
Novak Djokovic (SRB) d. Olivier Rochus (BEL) 63 62 62
Viktor Troicki/Nenad Zimonjic (SRB) d. Ruben Bemelmans/Steve Darcis (BEL) 64 64 57 64
David Goffin (BEL) d. Boris Pashanski (SRB) 64 26 62
Steve Darcis (BEL) d. Nenad Zimonjic (SRB) 62 64

USA defeated BRAZIL 3-2
Venue: Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville, FL, USA (hard – indoor)

Sam Querrey (USA) d. Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) 63 64 64
John Isner (USA) d. Thiago Alves (BRA) 63 76(4) 63
Marcelo Melo/Bruno Soares (BRA) d. Mike Bryan/Bob Bryan (USA) 76(6) 67(7) 64 36 63
Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) d. John Isner (USA) 26 64 67(7) 64 63
Sam Querrey (USA) d. Thiago Alves (BRA) 46 63 64 76(3)

FRANCE defeated ISRAEL 5-0
Venue: Kindarena, Rouen, FRA (hard – indoor)

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) d. Amir Weintraub (ISR) 63 63 46 75
Richard Gasquet (FRA) d. Dudi Sela (ISR) 63 62 62
Julien Benneteau/Michael Llodra (FRA) d. Jonathan Erlich/Dudi Sela (ISR) 76(3) 61 60
Michael Llodra (FRA) d. Noam Okun (ISR) 63 76(5)
Richard Gasquet (FRA) d. Amir Weintraub (ISR) 64 63

Venue: Parque Roca, Buenos Aires, ARG (clay – outdoor)

Carlos Berlocq (ARG) d. Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) 36 75 62 46 4-5 ret. (left hamstring)
Juan Monaco (ARG) d. Florian Mayer (GER) 67(4) 63 63 64
David Nalbandian/Horacio Zeballos (ARG) d. Tobias Kamke/Christopher Kas (GER) 61 64 57 62
Juan Monaco (ARG) d. Tobias Kamke (GER) 64 76(2)
Carlos Berlocq (ARG) d. Christopher Kas (GER) 62 64

Venue: National Tennis Centre, Astana, KAZ (clay – indoor)

Andrey Golubev (KAZ) d. Andreas Haider-Maurer (AUT) 76(2) 63 76(5)
Evgeny Korolev (KAZ) d. Jurgen Melzer (AUT) 76(4) 63 62
Julian Knowle/Alexander Peya (AUT) d. Andrey Golubev/Yuriy Schukin (KAZ) 76(5) 63 76(3)
Andrey Golubev (KAZ) d. Jurgen Melzer (AUT) 46 63 64 62
Evgeny Korolev (KAZ) v Andreas Haider-Maurer (AUT) not played

Venue: Palexpo, Geneva, SUI (hard – indoor)

Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) d. Lukas Rosol (CZE) 64 63 64
Tomas Berdych (CZE) d. Henri Laaksonen (SUI) 63 62 67(5) 61
Tomas Berdych/ Lukas Rosol (CZE) d. Marco Chiudinelli/Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) 64 57 64 67(3) 2422
Tomas Berdych (CZE) d. Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) 63 64 36 76(5)
Henri Laaksonen (SUI) d. Jiri Vesely (CZE) 06 63 61


Venue: Carrasco Lawn Tennis Club, Montevideo, URU (clay – outdoor)

Marcel Felder (URU) d. Roberto Cid (DOM) 63 63 62
Jose Hernandez (DOM) d. Martin Cuevas (URU) 64 61 63
Ariel Behar/Marcel Felder (URU) d. Henry Estrella/Jose Hernandez (DOM) 62 64 63
Marcel Felder (URU) d. Jose Hernandez (DOM) 63 36 63 57 62
Martin Cuevas (URU) v Roberto Cid (DOM)


Venue: Palmas Athletic Club, Humacao, PUR (hard – outdoor)

Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela (MEX) d. Alex Llompart (PUR) 76(7) 63 76(4)
Daniel Garza (MEX) d. Christian Garay (PUR) 62 60 63
Daniel Garza/Santiago Gonzalez (MEX) d. Gilberto Alvarez/Alex Llompart (PUR) 64 67(4) 61 36 86
Daniel Garza (MEX) d. Alex Llompart (PUR) 75 63
Christian Garay (PUR) d. Lucas Gomez (MEX) 63 64

Venue: Maya Country Club, Santa Tecla, ESA (clay – outdoor)

Rafael Arevalo (ESA) d. Darian King (BAR) 63 67(1) 62 64
Marcelo Arevalo (ESA) d. Anthony Marshall (BAR) 61 61 61
Marcelo Arevalo/Rafael Arevalo (ESA) d. Darian King/Russell Moseley (BAR) 26 63 64 62
Darian King (BAR) d. Alejandro Gonzalez (ESA) 61 62
Rafael Arevalo (ESA) d. Seanon Williams (BAR) 62 62

Venue: Centro Nacional de Tenis, Caracas, VEN (hard – outdoor)

David Souto (VEN) d. Sebastien Vidal (GUA) 62 61 76(5)
Ricardo Rodriguez (VEN) d. Christopher Diaz-Figueroa (GUA) 63 75 36 61
Luis David Martinez/David Souto (VEN) d. Christopher Diaz-Figueroa/Sebastien Vidal (GUA) 75 75 64
Christopher Diaz-Figueroa (GUA) d. Piero Luisi (VEN) 63 76(6)
Ricardo Rodriguez (VEN) v Andres Bucaro (GUA)

PERU defeated HAITI 5-0
Venue: Club Lawn Tennis de la Exposicion, Lima, PER (clay – outdoor)

Duilio Beretta (PER) d. Hillel Rousseau (HAI) 62 62 60
Mauricio Echazu (PER) d. Olivier Sajous (HAI) 64 63 75
Duilio Beretta/Sergio Galdos (PER) d. Joel Allen/Olivier Sajous (HAI) 76(5) 64 64
Sergio Galdos (PER) d. Olivier Sajous (HAI) 62 36 63
Brian Panta (PER) d. Hillel Rousseau (HAI) 61 60


Venue: Kaohsiung Yangming Tennis Courts, Kaohsiung City, TPE (hard – outdoor)

Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) d. Yang Tsung-Hua (TPE) 64 64 64
Matthew Ebden (AUS) d. Chen Ti (TPE) 63 64 75
Chris Guccione/Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) d. Lee Hsin-Han/Peng Hsien-Yin (TPE) 76(6) 64 62
Marinko Matosevic (AUS) d. Chen Ti (TPE) 76(5) 63
Matthew Ebden (AUS) d. Yang Tsung-Hua (TPE) 61 62

UZBEKISTAN defeated CHINA, P.R. 4-1
Venue: Sport Complex Pahlavon, Namangan, UZB (clay – indoor)

Denis Istomin (UZB) d. Wu Di (CHN) 46 46 76(4) 75 62
Farrukh Dustov (UZB) d. Zhang Ze (CHN) 46 76(8) 64 36 64
Farrukh Dustov/Denis Istomin (UZB) d. Gong Mao-Xin/Zhang Ze (CHN) 63 76(4) 63
Sarvar Ikramov (UZB) d. Zhang Ze (CHN) 63 75
Wu Di (CHN) d. Temur Ismailov (UZB) 60 62

Venue: R.K. Khanna Tennis Stadium, New Delhi, IND (hard – outdoor)

Cho Min Hyeok (KOR) d. Ranjeet Virali-Murugesan (IND) 61 60 61
Jeong Suk-Young (KOR) d. Vijayant Malik (IND) 64 75 30 ret. (cramping)
Leander Paes/Purav Raja (IND) d. Lim Yong-Kyu/Nam Ji Sung (KOR) 64 76(5) 62
Jeong Suk-Young (KOR) d. Ranjeet Virali-Murugesan (IND) 64 64 62
Nam Ji Sung (KOR) d. Vijayant Malik (IND) 62 64

JAPAN defeated INDONESIA 5-0
Venue: Ariake Coliseum, Tokyo, JPN (hard – indoor)

Tatsuma Ito (JPN) d. Christopher Rungkat (INA) 62 62 64
Go Soeda (JPN) d. Wisnu Adi Nugroho (INA) 60 60 61
Tatsuma Ito/Yasutaka Uchiyama (JPN) d. Christopher Rungkat/Elbert Sie (INA) 64 57 26 75 62
Yuichi Sugita (JPN) d. Christopher Rungkat (INA) 61 63
Yasutaka Uchiyama (JPN) d. Wisnu Adi Nugroho (INA) 61 63


Venue: Albany Tennis Park, Auckland, NZL (hard – indoor)

Daniel King-Turner (NZL) d. Michael Massih (LIB) 61 61 60
Artem Sitak (NZL) d. Karim Alayli (LIB) 62 61 60
Marcus Daniell/Daniel King-Turner (NZL) d. Ibrahim Abou Chahine/Karim Alayli (LIB) 61 61 61
Daniel King-Turner (NZL) d. Ibrahim Abou Chahine (LIB) 60 61
Artem Sitak (NZL) d. Michael Massih (LIB) 60 60

Venue: Sri Lanka Tennis Association, Colombo, SRI (clay – outdoor)

Aqeel Khan (PAK) d. Dineshkanthan Thangarajah (SRI) 46 61 42 ret. (cramping)
Harshana Godamanna (SRI) d. Aisam Qureshi (PAK) 76(3) 75 76(3)
Aqeel Khan/Aisam Qureshi (PAK) d. Harshana Godamanna/Rajeev Rajapakse (SRI) 62 67(0) 26 63 62
Harshana Godamanna (SRI) d. Aqeel Khan (PAK) 64 63 64
Aisam Qureshi (PAK) d. Dineshkanthan Thangarajah (SRI) 62 36 63 63

THAILAND defeated KUWAIT 4-1
Venue: Kuwait Tennis Federation Centre, Meshref, KUW (hard – outdoor)

Danai Udomchoke (THA) d. Mohammad Ghareeb (KUW) 61 61 46 46 64
Abdullah Maqdas (KUW) d. Kittiphong Wachiramanowong (THA) 64 76(7) 36 36 61
Pruchya Isarow/Nuttanon Kadchapanan (THA) d. Mohammad Ghareeb/Abdullah Maqdas (KUW) 36 63 76(6) 76(4)
Danai Udomchoke (THA) d. Abdullah Maqdas (KUW) 26 30 ret. (left foot)
Pruchya Isaro (THA) d. Nasser Al Obaidly (KUW) 62 61

Venue: Plantation Bay Resort & Spa, Lapu-Lapu, PHI (clay – outdoor)

Johnny Arcilla (PHI) d. Issam Haitham Taweel (SYR) 64 57 61 62
Ruben Gonzales (PHI) d. Marc Abdelnour (SYR) 64 76(1) 62
Ruben Gonzales/Treat Conrad Huey (PHI) d. Marc Abdelnour/Issam Haitham Taweel (SYR) 60 63 26 62
Issam Haitham Taweel (SYR) d. Vicente Elberto Anasta (PHI) 67(8) 61 64
Marc Abdelnour (SYR) d. Treat Huey (PHI) 76(2) 62


POLAND defeated SLOVENIA 3-2
Venue: Centennial Hall, Wroclaw, POL (hard – indoor)

Jerzy Janowicz (POL) d. Blaz Kavcic (SLO) 63 63 75
Lukasz Kubot (POL) d. Grega Zemlja (SLO) 63 63 60
Blaz Kavcic/Grega Zemlja (SLO) d. Mariusz Fyrstenberg/Marcin Matkowski (POL) 63 26 62 46 1311
Jerzy Janowicz (POL) d. Grega Zemlja (SLO) 76(4) 63 63
Tomislav Ternar (SLO) d. Mariusz Fyrstenberg (POL) 46 75 75

ROMANIA defeated DENMARK 5-0
Venue: Sala Sporturilor "Horia Demian", Cluj Napoca, ROU (hard – indoor)

Marius Copil (ROU) d. Frederik Nielsen (DEN) 63 76(7) 64
Adrian Ungur (ROU) d. Martin Pedersen (DEN) 62 76(3) 46 46 62
Florin Mergea/Horia Tecau (ROU) d. Thomas Kromann/Frederik Nielsen (DEN) 76(3) 62 64
Adrian Ungur (ROU) d. Thomas Kromann (DEN) 63 64
Marius Copil (ROU) d. Christoffer Konigsfeldt (DEN) 64 63

Venue: TC Premier, Kremenchug, UKR (hard – indoor)

Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR) d. Andrej Martin (SVK) 62 62 75
Lukas Lacko (SVK) d. Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) 62 57 76(5) 64
Filip Polasek/Igor Zelenay (SVK) d. Alexandr Dolgopolov/Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) 76(4) 76(3) 63
Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR) d. Lukas Lacko (SVK) 36 63 62 61
Illya Marchenko (UKR) d. Andrej Martin (SVK) 75 76(5) 64


Venue: Tennis Hall "Sofia'', Sofia, BUL (hard – indoor)

Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) d. Juho Paukku (FIN) 61 61 60
Micke Kontinen (FIN) d. Alexander Lazov (BUL) 76(4) 63 64
Harri Heliovaara/Henri Kontinen (FIN) d. Grigor Dimitrov/Dimitar Kuzmanov (BUL) 75 61 46 26 64
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) d. Micke Kontinen (FIN) 60 63 61
Harri Heliovaara (FIN) d. Alexander Lazov (BUL) 46 76(4) 64 63

IRELAND defeated ESTONIA 3-2
Venue: David Lloyd Riverview, Dublin, IRL (hard – indoor)

James McGee (IRL) d. Jaan Kononov (EST) 60 61 63
Vladimir Ivanov (EST) d. Sam Barry (IRL) 36 62 63 76(3)
Sam Barry/James McGee (IRL) d. Vladimir Ivanov/Marek Marksoo (EST) 64 63 36 36 97
Vladimir Ivanov (EST) d. James McGee (IRL) 64 63 16 46 61
Sam Barry (IRL) d. Marek Marksoo (EST) 62 61 63

LATVIA defeated TUNISIA 3-0
Venue: Cité Nationale Sportive, El Menzah, TUN (hard – outdoor)

Andis Juska (LAT) d. Mohamed Haythem Abid (TUN) 76(7) 63 60
Ernests Gulbis (LAT) d. Slim Hamza (TUN) 61 62 60
Ernests Gulbis/Andis Juska (LAT) d. Slim Hamza/Mohamed Haythem Abid (TUN) 76(6) 26 63 64
Mohamed Haythem Abid (TUN) v Ernests Gulbis (LAT) not played (rain)
Slim Hamza (TUN) v Andis Juska (LAT) not played (rain)

MONACO defeated BELARUS 3-1
Venue: Monte Carlo Country Club, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, MON (clay – outdoor)

Benjamin Balleret (MON) d. Dzmitry Zhyrmont (BLR) 67(6) 61 63 63
Uladzimir Ignatik (BLR) d. Jean-Rene Lisnard (MON) 64 64 60
Benjamin Balleret/Guillaume Couillard (MON) d. Max Mirnyi/Andrei Vasilevski (BLR) 76(3) 46 46 76(5) 62
Benjamin Balleret (MON) d. Uladzimir Ignatik (BLR) 63 36 76(9) 64
Jean-Rene Lisnard (MON) v Dzmitry Zhyrmont (BLR) not played

MOLDOVA defeated HUNGARY 3-2
Venue: Manejul de Atletica Usoara, Chisinau, MDA (hard – indoor)

Maxim Dubarenco (MDA) d. Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 36 63 64 64
Radu Albot (MDA) d. Viktor Filipenko (HUN) 61 63 63
Marton Fucsovics/Levente Godry (HUN) d. Radu Albot/Andrei Ciumac (MDA) 63 62 62
Marton Fucsovics (HUN) d. Radu Albot (MDA) 16 64 61 61
Maxim Dubarenco (MDA) d. Viktor Filipenko (HUN) 46 63 64 76(4)

Venue: Mojmilo Sports Hall, Sarajevo, BIH (hard – indoor)

Damir Dzumhur (BIH) d. Mike Scheidweiler (LUX) 64 64 60
Aldin Setkic (BIH) d. Ugo Nastasi (LUX) 64 60 63
Tomislav Brkic/Damir Dzumhur (BIH) d. Laurent Bram/Mike Scheidweiler (LUX) 61 63 63
Ugo Nastasi (LUX) d. Nerman Fatic (BIH) 46 64 61
Aldin Setkic (BIH) d. Laurent Bram (LUX) 63 61

Venue: Siauliu Arena, Siauliai, LTU (hard – indoor)

Dovydas Sakinis (LTU) d. Rares Cuzdriorean (CYP) 62 62 16 63
Ricardas Berankis (LTU) d. Petros Chrysochos (CYP) 61 64 60
Petros Chrysochos/Rares Cuzdriorean (CYP) d. Ricardas Berankis/ Lukas Mugevicius (LTU) 75 36 36 64 64
Ricardas Berankis (LTU) d. Soteris Hadjistyllis (CYP) 63 62 61
Lukas Mugevicius (LTU) d. Christos Hadjigeorgiou (CYP) 63 63

PORTUGAL defeated BENIN 5-0
Venue: Club Internacional de Football, Lisbon, POR (clay – indoor)

Joao Sousa (POR) d. Loic Didavi (BEN) 61 63 60
Pedro Sousa (POR) d. Alexis Klegou (BEN) 46 61 64 62
Joao Sousa/Pedro Sousa (POR) d. Loic Didavi/Alexis Klegou (BEN) 62 61 61
Rui Machado (POR) d. Alexis Klegou (BEN) 26 62 60
Andre Gaspar Murta (POR) d. Tunde Segodo (BEN) 61 62

End Notes

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This is Jerzy Janowicz. He's the latest sensation on the ATP tour. He made some interesting comments to an Italian magazine.

"Djokovic is fake, he is showing off, acting"
"Federer wants to be above everything. In this context there might be something unnatural in him, hard to feel he is one of us (players)"

Thanks to @Rob_pal for the human translation especially of his comments about Federer. For the original please go HERE

It's going to be interesting to see his draws going forward.

An Update on Janowicz and his comments

There were a lot of issues regarding JJ's comments on the ATP tour and it's stars. It was thought that the the original interview was in Italian. It was actually in Polish so the translation from that language to Italian to English led to the "wtf" moments for many of us.

Fortunately @emmilkaa translated from Polish and sent it to @juanjo_sports.
Here is that translation.

Slightly different no?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Just So We're Clear

by Savannah

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The picture of the gif shown above is the only visible proof of what fans felt about the actions of WTA #1 Victoria Azarenka. I watched the match and that banner never appeared once on the feed I was watching. Of course the picture on the side is obviously a photo manipulation. I found it on a WTA fan site.

It seems I wasn't clear enough about reactions to Azarenka's taking advantage of the rules to calm herself down after blowing five match points to close out her match against American Sloane Stephens. I'm going to go a bit off topic here to mention that Stephens should beware of taking victory tours when she hasn't really won a "victory" yet. The USTA is desperate to have someone, especially an African American woman, to point to with pride and say "we did that". The American tennis establishment has never accepted Venus Williams or Serena Williams as one of their own since their parents had the sense to keep them out of the clutches of the people who wanted to claim the Williams success as their own. And let's not forget the media riot surrounding the USTA's treatment of Taylor Townsend this past summer. That the USTA wants to celebrate Stephens victory over an injured Serena Williams speaks volumes about how they feel about Serena.

It's interesting how Azarenka's fans have reacted to the furor. Their defense of their favorite boils down to the following:

1. Victoria misunderstood the question.
2. She was really injured.
3. Sloane wasn't going to win anyway.
4. Everybody does it.

Three and four can be dismissed out of hand. No one expected Stephens to win - she'd played a long hard match against a player who even while injured was playing to win and still had a chance to do so. A day's rest would've made a hell of a lot of difference in Stephens ability to play toe to toe with Azarenka who had struggled all tournament. I'm not saying she would've won but it would've been a more competitive match.

I think this is said to divert attention from Azarenka blowing those five match points which led to the MTO and the controversy.

Everybody does it is pure bull. Usually people drag out references to Rafael Nadal's alleged sketchy MTO's. There is one that I remember and Toni told him to cut the shit. If you want to go into phony MTO's the person who should be cited is Novak Djokovic but ironically the people using this argument never do so. I wonder why.

The first point, the one that was used AFTER the furor arose, is also fiction. Azarenka has lived in the United States for years and speaks English quite well, well enough to understand nuance.

The second point, that she was really injured, is wishful thinking. As Randy Burgess points out in his response to someone making that argument Azarenka herself said that she almost committed the "choke of the century" and that she felt "overwhelmed" and that she "had to win". She understood the question and answered truthfully.

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By the time she was interviewed after leaving the court there's no doubt that her PR people had been hard at work. Unfortunately there were lots of people in RLA and millions watching. And lets not forget social media. The bought and paid for tennis media couldn't hide what had happened as they would've done in the past. That is why the four points of view have been floating around trying to explain the unexplainable and indefensible.

Finally I want to address the issue of sexism in both fan and press reaction to Victoria Azarenka as a player.

I watched tennis during the era of John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. Their antics were met with a wink and nod from the then mostly male sports writers and used to prove how masculine tennis was. They routinely exploded on court causing both cringing and cheering among tennis fans. Even today everyone knows McEnroe's "you can not be serious" line whether you're a tennis fan or not.

It should be pointed out that

Such behavior has never been condoned in a female tennis player. This article in Yahoo Eurosport mentions the long standing antipathy to Azarenka down under.

I guess it gets down to whether the behavior of McEnroe and Connors would be tolerated in any player, male or female, today. I don't think it would. Today's fans want good competition and eruptions of emotion or bad sportsmanship don't sit go over well today. Celebrate a well crafted point, a good rally, argue with the chair but throwing things at on court officials (See THIS ) is not a way to get the fans behind you.

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After a run of Slamless #1's women's tennis has a #1 who can win Slams. This doesn't mean that everything she does is protected by The Almighty. Azarenka is deserving of the top ranking at this point. She plays a relatively full schedule and makes Grand Slam semi finals and finals. Her behavior is not what she, or the WTA want for the sport at this time. The era of prim ladies in long white skirts has gone the way of the dinosaur. The fans accept women who play in your face tennis with a side order of grace, and good sportsmanship.

End Notes

Davis Cup play starts today. The only member of the Top 4 playing is Novak Djokovic.

Bernard Tomic was caught going 78 KM/H in a 60 KM/H zone. Driving a bright yellow Ferrari with 'SINCITY' plates. The police officer didn't want his autograph. His license has been suspended. Good thing young Aussies made a good showing in Melbourne.

WTA players are out and about - in pictures

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Daniela Hantuchova and Maria Kirilenko

 photo bd6b27e0-9107-4a95-a566-4eec4f2c26ab_zps2eda4569.jpg
Berry Gordy, Victoria Azarenka and Stefan Gordy

 photo fbcb2f94-fd86-4b31-9f5f-708b33debd0b_zps75f1e912.jpg
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Serena Williams and Patrick Mouratoglou out and about in Melbourne. Loving the Air Jordan trainers and the short red dress.

But for some of us all of the legs shown above don't make us as happy as the sight of these legs do.

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Welcome back Rafa!