Sunday, June 30, 2013

Wimbledon Week In Review

by Savannah

Patrick McEnroe ‏@PatrickMcEnroe 19h
Grass playing so good now. Memo to @Wimbledon committee. Start tourney with more wear and tear on courts. Safer and better tennis

Delpo After Fall photo delpofallSaturday6292013_zps81ab82b4.jpg

Soon after Patrick McEnroe tweeted the above, about noon Eastern time Saturday, fans who were watching saw Juan Martin del Potro go sliding after attempting to make a return that took him to the sidelines. Delpo had to throw himself awkwardly over his bags to avoid going knee first into the chairs there. Del Potro later said that he had pain in his knee and ankle and would consult a physician. Let's hope he's able to continue without further injury to himself.

The grass has rightly been the story of the first week of Wimbledon. The tournament, and many journalists floated several explanations for all the slipping. The first one was the one I blogged about earlier this week, that the players don't know how to play on grass. Yesterday brought the PMac tweet. It'll be interesting to see court conditions going into the second week.

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For some reason the AELTC has only been assigning three matches on Centre Court. One day this week scheduled play finished early and while matches were being played in near darkness on the outer courts Centre Court was dark. When the court assignments came out for Saturday there was a lot of head shaking and expressions of surprise. Serena Williams was assigned to be last up on Court 1 after the match between David Ferrer, who was playing with an ankle so bad they had to infiltrate it so that he could play, and Alexandr Dolgopolov. Even on paper that match had five setter written all over it but the people who set up the schedule felt otherwise I guess.

There was an expression I used to keep on my desk that said never "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity". I kept that in mind as it became clear "early doors" as the Brits say that the fourth match of the day on Court 1 would not be completed if started there due to darkness. Look I get it. I understand that it's good for the top players to play on the outer courts so that other fans get a chance to see them but really what was the point? It took the committee an hour too long to announce that Serena's match would indeed be played on Centre Court where it should've been scheduled in the first place. Honestly it seems as if people are going out of their way to try and distract Serena from her mission. It didn't work, Serena won 6-1, 6-0 but why did there have to be drama in the first place? Was the intent to make Serena have to finish a match on Monday and play again while British darling Laura Robson rested? I don't know. They don't let people like me in on the gory details. I'm willing to bet Serena dug in her heels and refused to go on Court 2, the Court of Carnage. But why did she have to be put through that at all? Every year Wimbledon does something to insult Serena and/or Venus Williams if she's playing. Haters of course blame Serena for being high handed and difficult when all she is asking for is the respect due the World #1. Apparently having to give that respect is more than some folks can do.

The other ongoing problem is John McEnroe. He is becoming more of an embarrassment each year no matter the network he's working for because he clearly does not watch tennis. I've been watching ESPN3 and streaming it via AppleTV so I've been hearing more of the British comms than the ESPN crew. I decided to give them a shot Saturday and of course ended up streaming again. Chris Evert has actually gotten better making fewer pull it out of her ass statements. Mary Jo Fernandez has always been competent. It's always been a question of her conflict of interest. Most fans know that Dolgopolov suffers from Gilbert's Syndrome. Here is what Wiki says about his health:

Dolgopolov suffers from a hereditary disorder known as Gilbert's Syndrome, which affects his liver, blood and often causes fatigue. His condition worsens when he has to cross continents in extensive travel, requiring intravenous drug treatments and monitored diets to get himself back on track.

It also affects his skin. That's why assholes who drag him about it really piss me off but tennis and assholes seem to have an affinity of late.

This was revealed several years ago. It would be different if this was his only WTF moment but last year he was actually shocked to find out that Venus suffers with Sjogren's Syndrome, an autoimmune disease. This was after it had been widely reported in sports and main stream press outlets. I'll never forget that one. If he's unfamiliar with the modern game and it's players what is going on at his Academy that he fought so hard to get started? I'm guessing his instructors are more aware of what's going on than JMac. They'd better be.

And of course there was Cliff Drysdale stepping up to accept the Paula Deen Award. He's still in the "they all look alike" aisle. Anyone who would mistake Sloane Stephens for a Williams has probably been invited to one of Paula's affairs. I mean it took him years to tell Venus from Serena so I guess now he's having trouble telling Serena from Sloane. I mean this is what 2013? Come on man!

The New Jacks

There are a lot of names heading into the second week of Wimbledon that just don't usually make second weeks of Slams. Andreas Seppi. Lukasz Kubot. Adrian Mannarino.Kenny De Schepper (who?). Monica Puig. Karin Knapp. Kirsten Flipkens. And yes I'm leaving Bernard Tomic and Laura Robson out.

Someone from the pack is going to make the semi's. Some would say this is a good thing.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Slipping and Sliding Into, Well, Controversy

by Savannah

I'll be honest. I lost hang on every shot interest in Wimbledon after Day 1. There's a reason I rarely talk about men's tennis. I'm a fan girl. I've admitted that more than once. I had two appointments yesterday afternoon and blithely went about my business figuring that the status quo would hold when it came to both the men's and women's draws.

So imagine my surprise when I saw the lead Michelle Larcher de Brito had over Maria Sharapova. Let's not forget that as usual Sharapova had a "nice, safe, easy" draw that would lead her to the Final. Dilated eyes and all I was glued to my smart phone squinting at scores.

I was still squinting when I saw that Sergiy Stakhovsky defeated the other perennial recipient of soft draws Roger Federer.

Ana Ivanovic lost? Not really a surprise. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga retired? He didn't look injured but with all the slipping and sliding on the wet back court grass by "grass court specialists" and others was he smart to err on the side of caution? After all he just recently got back to full speed after a bout with injury.

What I am surprised about is the press playing stupid about the slippery grass. Eastbourne? Anyone see all the falling there? Queens Club? The grass has been awful this spring/summer and yet all the beat reporters are acting as if this just started this week. It didn't. That the LTA felt the need to issue a special statement on the state of it's grass courts tells you that the players complaints behind the scene are loud and strong.

Didn't see the statement? I found it on fan site TalkAboutTennis . All emphasis is mine.


London, UK, Wednesday 26 June 2013:

“There has been a high number of withdrawals at The Championships today and we sympathise with all the players affected. The withdrawals have occurred for a variety of reasons, but there has been some suggestion that the court surface is to blame. We have no reason to think this is the case . Indeed, many players have complimented us on the very good condition of the courts.

“The court preparation has been to exactly the same meticulous standard as in previous years and it is well known that grass surfaces tend to be more lush at the start of an event. The factual evidence, which is independently checked, is that the courts are almost identical to last year, as dry and firm as they should be, and we expect them to continue to play to their usual high quality.”

So what exactly is Mr. Richard Lewis saying? Fifty cent words can't hide the visual evidence presented so nicely by Romi Cvitovic on Twitter today.

Slip Sliding Away photo 1661346e-59b1-49ac-a776-9a696b5a5e36_zpsd1cd9930.jpg

I've been watching Wimbledon a long, long time. I have never, ever, seen so many slips and falls during a tournament. In fact I'm going to say there haven't been so many slips before. I don't care what Mr. Richard Lewis says. The grass is wonky this year and the Groundskeeper needs to reveal just what it is that was done differently. Was it the weather? Did the type of grass change? Was planting delayed due to the weather? Something happened and it's obvious to anyone with eyes let alone a player who finds himself or herself flat on their ass after going for a shot that last year wouldn't have ended with them in that predicament.

Maria Sharapova said to the chair umpire after one of her three falls that it wasn't safe out there. In her post match presser she said she'd never fallen three times during her entire career but wouldn't say anything more.

It's going to be very interesting to see how David Ferrer plays tomorrow. He limped through his match and limped off the court.

It's also ironic that the bottom half of the men's draw is almost devoid of seeds at this point. The only top seed is Andy Murray. If you remember the bottom half had all of the top five save one, who was in the top half of the draw. He had to say he didn't think he had a cakewalk but no one had any illusions about the gift he'd been given.

Draw stacking didn't work here and I doubt if we'll see anything similar again. Oh wait the US Open isn't until August...

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Why They Play

by Savannah

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Until yesterday Nicolas Mahut of France was known for a long assed never should've been allowed to go that long match. Then there was the match where the Bryan Twins picked on him throughout the match and Mahut was in tears feeling that any chance he had of ever winning a title was gone.

If there were any tears Saturday they were tears of joy as Mahut, at 31, won his first ever main tour title. Look at the expression on his face. There is nothing there but joy and excitement. I think tennisheads all around the world exulted with him.

It's going to be fun hearing the US announcers who probably don't know that there were tournaments last week try and call him a "journeyman" and laugh about that long assed match until TennisTwitter pulls them up short.

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Simona Halep of Romania has quietly won back to back tournaments, one on (real) clay and one on grass. For a certain segment of tennis fandom she will always be the girl who got a breast reduction and objectified. For the serious fan it's time to sit up and take notice of her. She's not the Romanian player everyone talks about but she's the one who hoisted trophies in the last few weeks while her countrywoman wasn't. I have nothing against her countrywoman but it's funny how the ones everyone goes nuts over aren't the ones who've hoisted trophies of late.

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There are beautiful Russian women. Maria Kirilenko is one. The woman pictured above, Elena Vesnina, is another. They get pushed aside in US coverage of the women from Russia who play tennis because of course there can be only one.

I'm guilty of never taking Vesnina seriously though. I thought of her as more of a doubles player not as a singles player and never paid attention to her game. I got to see just how well she can play yesterday at Eastbourne where she faced American Jamie Hampton in the final. I'm hoping by the end of the summer that I'll have more to write about Jamie. Yesterday was Elena's day to shine though and shine she did. A strong wind blew throughout the match and while it seemed to bother her opponent it didn't bother Elena. She stayed focused and played according to her gameplan and in the end she got to pose with the trophy after winning her second main tour title.

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The joy on Nicolas Mahut's face is nothing compared to the joy on Feliciano Lopez's face when he won the men's title at Eastbourne. It's been a long time between titles for a man considered to be among the best looking in tennis. It wasn't his looks that got him that win in the chilly wind of Eastbourne. It was literally, to use a cliché a matter of him holding his nerve and his serve and staying focused when the going got tough. He was so excited he went out and snatched the trophy from the presenters hands and was gently told that that's not how it's done.

The common denominator for all of the above players is their joy. These are not the players who make headlines around the world when they play a Final. The casual fan will only know them as random names on a draw playing against their better known peers.

There are times during the year when I ask myself how hard it must be to play year round and not even come close to a title. In a week where the big boys and girls are off playing in exhibitions players like Mahut, Vesnina, Halep and Lopez played for the average fan. They did it for love of the game, the excitement of competition, and for the chance to be the one glowing and kissing the trophy.

Congratulations to them all.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Championships Wimbledon: The Singles Draws

Ladies Singles

Serena Williams (USA) [1] v Mandy Minella (LUX)
Q Caroline Garcia (FRA) v Jie Zheng (CHN)
Kimiko Date-Krumm (JPN) v Q Carina Witthoeft (GER)
Alexandra Cadantu (ROU) v Tamira Paszek (AUT) [28]

Sabine Lisicki (GER) [23] v Francesca Schiavone (ITA)
Elena Vesnina (RUS) v Andrea Hlavackova (CZE)
Olga Puchkova (RUS) v Arantxa Rus (NED)
LL Anna Schmiedlova (SVK) v Samantha Stosur (AUS) [14]

Maria Kirilenko (RUS) [10] v Laura Robson (GBR)
Q Mariana Duque-Marino (COL) v Julia Goerges (GER)
Ayumi Morita (JPN) v Marina Erakovic (NZL)
A.Medina Garrigues (ESP) v Shuai Peng (CHN) [24]

Romina Oprandi (SUI) [31] v WC Alison Riske (USA)
Mallory Burdette (USA) v Urszula Radwanska (POL)
Kaia Kanepi (EST) v WC Tara Moore (GBR)
Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) v Angelique Kerber (GER) [7]

Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) [4] v Q Yvonne Meusburger (AUT)
Timea Babos (HUN) v Mathilde Johansson (FRA)
Heather Watson (GBR) v Madison Keys (USA)
Monica Niculescu (ROU) v Mona Barthel (GER) [30]

A.Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) [21] v Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL)
Q B.Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) v Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK)
Anna Tatishvili (GEO) v Petra Martic (CRO)
Karolina Pliskova (CZE) v Nadia Petrova (RUS) [13]

Roberta Vinci (ITA) [11] v Chanelle Scheepers (RSA)
Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) v Jana Cepelova (SVK)
M.Torro-Flor (ESP) v Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU)
Q Maria Elena Camerin (ITA) v Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) [18]

Klara Zakopalova (CZE) [32] v Daniela Hantuchova (SVK)
Nina Bratchikova (RUS) v Annika Beck (GER)
Olga Govortsova (BLR) v Simona Halep (ROU)
Michaella Krajicek (NED) v Na Li (CHN) [6]

Sara Errani (ITA) [5] v Monica Puig (PUR)
Silvia Soler-Espinosa (ESP) v Misaki Doi (JPN)
Lara Arruabarrena (ESP) v Lesia Tsurenko (UKR)
Q Eva Birnerova (CZE) v Varvara Lepchenko (USA) [26]

Sloane Stephens (USA) [17] v Jamie Hampton (USA)
Pauline Parmentier (FRA) v WC Andrea Petkovic (GER)
Q Petra Cetkovska (CZE) v Donna Vekic (CRO)
E.Cabeza Candela (ESP) v Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) [9]

Marion Bartoli (FRA) [15] v Elina Svitolina (UKR)
Christina McHale (USA) v Alexa Glatch (USA)
Camila Giorgi (ITA) v WC Samantha Murray (GBR)
Stefanie Voegele (SUI) v Sorana Cirstea (ROU) [22]

Lucie Safarova (CZE) [27] v Lauren Davis (USA)
WC Lucie Hradecka (CZE) v Karin Knapp (ITA)
Q M.Larcher De Brito (POR) v Melanie Oudin (USA)
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) v Maria Sharapova (RUS) [3]

Petra Kvitova (CZE) [8] v Coco Vandeweghe (USA)
Kiki Bertens (NED) v Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ)
Garbine Muguruza (ESP) v WC Anne Keothavong (GBR)
Johanna Larsson (SWE) v Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) [25]

Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) [19] v Lourdes Dominguez Lino (ESP)
Sofia Arvidsson (SWE) v Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO)
Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) v Q Galina Voskoboeva (KAZ)
Q Virginie Razzano (FRA) v Ana Ivanovic (SRB) [12]

Jelena Jankovic (SRB) [16] v WC Johanna Konta (GBR)
Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) v Vesna Dolonc (SRB)
Q Ajla Tomljanovic (CRO) v Bojana Jovanovski (SRB)
Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) v Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) [20]

Alize Cornet (FRA) [29] v LL Vania King (USA)
Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE) v Tatjana Maria (GER)
WC Elena Baltacha (GBR) v Flavia Pennetta (ITA)
Maria Joao Koehler (POR) v Victoria Azarenka (BLR) [2]

Nothing much to see here. Maria Sharapova is, as usual, hidden with a cakewalk draw. I don't think Victoria Azarenka will complain too much either.

With all the rumors flying about her I'm not sure if Petra Kvitova would do well against a group of under 10 players. She is out of shape physically and mentally.

I'm really sorry that Sloane Stephens and Jamie Hampton have to play each other. Jamie has had a great spring and I was hoping she'd get to the third round at SW19. However she's in the final at Eastbourne and will come to London tired. Then again Sloane could mentally collapse and tired or not Jamie could sneak by. Heather Watson is playing Madison Keys early. Heather is just getting over mono and is a bit out of shape so Madison could do well against her. Bethanie Mattek-Sands is wearing Google Glass and it's going to be interesting to see if she's allowed to wear them during match play. Her hair glows in the dark so who knows?

Marion Bartoli will probably continue to eat Twix and exit early.

Gentlemen's Singles

Novak Djokovic (SRB) [1] v Florian Mayer (GER)
Q Bobby Reynolds (USA) v WC Steve Johnson (USA)
Blaz Kavcic (SLO) v Q Jan-Lennard Struff (GER)
Ryan Harrison (USA) v Jeremy Chardy (FRA) [28]

Gilles Simon (FRA) [19] v Feliciano Lopez (ESP)
Ricardas Berankis (LTU) v Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA)
Q Wayne Odesnik (USA) v Q Jimmy Wang (TPE)
Dmitry Tursunov (RUS) v Tommy Haas (GER) [13]

Richard Gasquet (FRA) [9] v Marcel Granollers (ESP)
Andreas Haider-Maurer (AUT) v Q Go Soeda (JPN)
James Blake (USA) v Thiemo De Bakker (NED)
Bernard Tomic (AUS) v Sam Querrey (USA) [21]

Kevin Anderson (RSA) [27] v LL Olivier Rochus (BEL)
Philipp Petzschner (GER) v Q Michal Przysiezny (POL)
Daniel Brands (GER) v Daniel Gimeno-Traver (ESP)
Martin Klizan (SVK) v Tomas Berdych (CZE) [7]

David Ferrer (ESP) [4] v Martin Alund (ARG)
Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) v Q Teymuraz Gabashvili (RUS)
Horacio Zeballos (ARG) v Santiago Giraldo (COL)
Gastao Elias (POR) v Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR) [26]

Milos Raonic (CAN) [17] v Carlos Berlocq (ARG)
Q Alex Kuznetsov (USA) v Igor Sijsling (NED)
Q James Duckworth (AUS) v Q Denis Kudla (USA)
Ivan Dodig (CRO) v Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) [16]

Kei Nishikori (JPN) [12] v WC Matthew Ebden (AUS)
Leonardo Mayer (ARG) v Aljaz Bedene (SLO)
Michael Llodra (FRA) v Jarkko Nieminen (FIN)
Denis Istomin (UZB) v Andreas Seppi (ITA) [23]

Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) [29] v Simone Bolelli (ITA)
Grega Zemlja (SLO) v Michael Russell (USA)
Guido Pella (ARG) v Jesse Levine (CAN)
Albert Ramos (ESP) v Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) [8]

Rafael Nadal (ESP) [5] v Steve Darcis (BEL)
Lukasz Kubot (POL) v Igor Andreev (RUS)
Q Stephane Robert (FRA) v Alejandro Falla (COL)
Adrian Ungur (ROU) v Benoit Paire (FRA) [25]

John Isner (USA) [18] v Evgeny Donskoy (RUS)
Pablo Andujar (ESP) v Adrian Mannarino (FRA)
Q Dustin Brown (GER) v Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP)
Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) v Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) [11]

Nicolas Almagro (ESP) [15] v Jurgen Zopp (EST)
Marinko Matosevic (AUS) v Guillaume Rufin (FRA)
Radek Stepanek (CZE) v Q Matt Reid (AUS)
WC Kyle Edmund (GBR) v Jerzy Janowicz (POL) [24]

Fabio Fognini (ITA) [30] v Jurgen Melzer (AUT)
Q Julian Reister (GER) v Lukas Rosol (CZE)
Rogerio Dutra Silva (BRA) v Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR)
Victor Hanescu (ROU) v Roger Federer (SUI) [3]

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) [6] v David Goffin (BEL)
Edouard Roger-Vasselin (FRA) v Ernests Gulbis (LAT)
Fernando Verdasco (ESP) v Xavier Malisse (BEL)
Tobias Kamke (GER) v Julien Benneteau (FRA) [31]

Juan Monaco (ARG) [22] v Q Bastian Knittel (GER)
Lukas Lacko (SVK) v Rajeev Ram (USA)
Kenny De Schepper (FRA) v Paolo Lorenzi (ITA)
Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) v Marin Cilic (CRO) [10]

Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) [14] v Viktor Troicki (SRB)
Andrey Kuznetsov (RUS) v Albert Montanes (ESP)
Q Marc Gicquel (FRA) v Vasek Pospisil (CAN)
Robin Haase (NED) v Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) [20]

Tommy Robredo (ESP) [32] v Alex Bogomolov Jr. (RUS)
WC Nicolas Mahut (FRA) v Jan Hajek (CZE)
WC James Ward (GBR) v Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE)
Benjamin Becker (GER) v Andy Murray (GBR) [2]

The happiest man in London right now must be the ATP top seed. The angriest man in London right now must be the ATP #2.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Condemnation, Blame, and Serena Williams

by Savannah

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I don't know who Stephen Rodrick is, the man who was tasked with doing an in depth interview with Serena Williams that appears in the current issue of "Rolling Stone" magazine, the one that published just before the start of Wimbledon.

This is the comment that is causing all kinds of drama.

We watch the news for a while, and the infamous Steubenville rape case flashes on the TV – two high school football players raped a drunk 16-year-old, while other students watched and texted details of the crime. Serena just shakes her head. “Do you think it was fair, what they got? They did something stupid, but I don’t know. I’m not blaming the girl, but if you’re a 16-year-old and you’re drunk like that, your parents should teach you: Don’t take drinks from other people. She’s 16, why was she that drunk where she doesn’t remember? It could have been much worse. She’s lucky. Obviously, I don’t know, maybe she wasn’t a virgin, but she shouldn’t have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that’s different.”

Serena has issued the following statement:

“What happened in Steubenville was a real shock for me. I was deeply saddened. For someone to be raped, and at only sixteen, is such a horrible tragedy! For both families involved – that of the rape victim and of the accused. I am currently reaching out to the girl’s family to let her know that I am deeply sorry for what was written in the Rolling Stone article. What was written – what I supposedly said – is insensitive and hurtful, and I by no means would say or insinuate that she was at all to blame.

I have fought all of my career for women’s equality, women’s equal rights, respect in their fields – anything I could do to support women I have done. My prayers and support always goes out to the rape victim. In this case, most especially, to an innocent sixteen year old child.”

There are a number of problems with Rodrick's interview, chief among them quoting from what appears to be a private conversation Serena had with an unnamed person about people who are never identified. Fans of a certain player quickly decided who Serena "must have" been talking about and accused her of throwing shade against one of the women ranked second or third in the WTA. When the beat reporters who usually print whatever the Tours want them to question the ethics of what was done regarding the private conversation and regular tennis heads ask why that wasn't edited out you know you have a perfect storm.

The other question is why, if an advance copy was presented to Serena's PR people there weren't protests about the content? Why wasn't a PR person present at the interview to stop Serena from making what is obviously a personal observation about the Steubenville situation?

The glee with which some fandoms have seized on the statements to attack Serena tells me this is being used to try and break her focus in the hope that she will lose in an early round to a lower ranked player or a Qualifier and allow their favorite to win a Slam without having to go through The Great One.

I don't want to get feed the trolls so this is all I will say on this matter.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Roland Garros 2013 Champions

by Savannah

Women's Champion

FO 2013 Womens Champion photo cdef58bd-d668-4b67-a830-7f7c0d8d0ae1_zpsc776ce44.jpg

Men's Champion

French Open 2013 photo 09837564-d0dd-47c5-8c3f-4e4cdd4fed97_zpsc4e73517.jpg

Men's Doubles Champions

FO Dbles Champs 2013 photo 94be87f6-459d-4c5d-a14a-5426fb57be5f_zps2fea81ee.jpg

Women's Doubles Champions

womens doubles champions photo 7712e18c-0444-45b7-a901-ea92da114368_zpsacdd9f48.jpg

Mixed Doubles Champions

mixed doubles champions photo fe251035-1846-4e67-bab5-6418dbbc5812_zps85845dee.jpg

Junior Boys Champion

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Junior Girls Champion

junior girls champion photo f6ce926c-7243-4524-af0d-87828b7f5a78_zps4c6ea2eb.jpg

Wheelchair Singles Champions

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Stephane Houdet and Sabine Ellerbrock

Thursday, June 6, 2013

There Should Be Questions Asked

by Savannah

Nick Bollettieri ‏@NickBollettieri
@MariaSharapova only knows one way to play- hit the ball as hard as you can.

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Maria Sharapova defeated Victoria Azarenka in three sets. Along the way she committed about twelve double faults and went through a period of not being able to find the court. But in the end she defeated Azarenka who looked painfully out of place on the terre battue.

As I mentioned before Sharapova went to Spain and worked on her clay movement. That was the difference between her and Azarenka today. How long will it be before Victoria Azarenka takes some time to go to Spain and work on her movement? And how long will players trained in the United States have to go elsewhere to learn how to play on the dirt? Sloane Stephens has already done it. The USTA Player Development people can try and make the coaches at its facilities see the light but unless things have changed radically that continues to be an uphill battle. Any second now a Time Lord will take tennis back to the glory days of wooden racquets and the domination of the Tennis Axis countries. Or will it be the Wayback machine that will do the trick?

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As for the other finalist Serena Williams came as close as humanly possible to playing a perfect match. She wasn't playing a Qualifier or someone granted a Wild Card into the main draw. She was playing the WTA #5, Sara Errani. Every player has a bad day but Errani played like someone who had just wandered in off the street and was handed a racquet and told to play the top woman in the world.

There was a lot of talk about what it meant for Errani, who has never won a major, and until this week had never defeated anyone in the top five, to now be a member of the top five. There will be more discussion after today's match. When a top five player tosses in a serve of 49mph everyone is entitled to ask what the hell is going on in the WTA. I mean I could probably throw in a 49mph serve.

Don't get me wrong Errani has worked hard and made the best of what she has. No one expects her to be a flame thrower especially since she is diminutive but come on. Some are trying to say she's the David Ferrer of women's tennis. I don't agree with that at all. When pundits and people who are paid to have opinions start making that kind of reach you know shit is raggedy.

At any rate the Number One seed will play the Number Two seed Saturday. It should be an interesting match.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

There Can Only Be Two...

by Savannah

We're down to the Final Four - the four women who will compete to make the Roland Garros Women's Final.

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All eyes will be on defending women's champion Maria Sharapova. I don't think she had the most difficult draw on her way to the semi finals but Jelena Jankovic took the first set 6-0, a score that had to shock Sharapova and her fans. One commentator said he couldn't remember the last time Sharapova had been bageled. That's funny I can and I don't get paid to know things like that.
I'm sure she's going to come out swinging and screaming. It's funny how sometimes you can barely hear her and at other times it's like the hounds of hell are on her tail.

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Sharapova will play Victoria Azarenka, a woman who's blood curdling war cry bothers me more that Sharapova's. Azarenka played Maria Kirilenko to make the semi finals. Kirilenko had a nice run in Paris but at this stage in a tournament the cream is rising to the top and while Kirilenko will step into the top ten she's not at the top, in the top four or five however you want to look at the top women players. Who will win? Don't ask me. I'm always wrong about things like that.

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What can you say about Serena Williams that hasn't already been said? Sure we could remind that guy in Germany that she was the last one to serve a bagel to Sharapova but I'm sure someone has already told him that. Serena caught a lot of grief for saying the only person who can beat her is herself but more and more comms from varying nations are echoing those words.

That she is vulnerable was proven by her match against a resurgent Svetlana Kuznetsova who seemed to go back to the future and play the kind of tennis that led to her winning two Grand Slams. Serena literally stopped moving her feet, hell stopped moving period, and lost the second set in spectacular style. It looked as if Sveta was going to take her out but Serena, as only she can, twisted up her hair and got to work winning the third set and the match going away.

Serena will not be able to have such a lapse against Sara Errani. I watched Sara beat Aga Radwanska at her own game with a tenacity and focus worthy of her top five ranking. Most people think this match is a gimme. I won't go that far. Serena will have to win it.

Roland Garros Miscellany

There have been two huge complaints about this years Roland Garros, neither of which fans can affect.

One was the broadcast schedule. I'm in the United States and coverage was spread between Tennis Channel, ESPN2/ESPN3 and NBC. If you live in the States and were happy with the coverage I'd have my medication levels rebalanced. To say it has been horrid is putting it mildly.

I don't have Tennis Channel but I did download the APP and attempt to watch the streaming it provided on its website. For some reason Tennis Channel online or mobile and I don't get along. The service worked well for many people BUT when it was time to go it was time to go.

The same with ESPN's coverage. They have their format and they stick to it but I have to say I heard much more analysis this year. I think that comes from hashtags that expressed frustration about the gossipy chit chat that used to pass for analysis. I didn't see any of those hashtags on Twitter this go around. Good work guys.

Unfortunately NBC's coverage doesn't seem to be aware it's analysts have a problem. It's painfully obvious that John McEnroe watches very little tennis and has no use for the modern game. He, along with Mats Wilander, want to go back to their halcyon days and pretend the bigger more physically fit players haven't changed the game permanently. Mary Carillo is a parody of herself. And yet NBC is the network that will carry the Finals. I plan to do what I've been doing for the last week and a half. And that is watch live streams from British Eurosport. I can avoid Wilander easily. And NBC can't stop them from providing their coverage to whoever can get access to it.

The other issue was the court assignments. During the rainy first week it seemed that WTA matches, always scheduled to occur fourth/last, were the ones being cancelled and rescheduled. Television courts? They were the provenance of the ATP unless your name was Williams, Sharapova or Azarenka. Oh yeah, and that other top player Ana Ivanovic. Or you were French. While fan pressure seems to have set EXPN2 on a better course when it comes to commentary the FFT has signed a long term contract with NBC which means we'll be subjected to the inanity and outright stupidity of NBC commentators no matter how we fans feel.

I should mention in passing the the Roland Garros APP for non French fans was awful. It seems that if you were in France you got a better product.