Monday, July 29, 2013

There Was Tennis Played Last Week...

by Savannah

Despite all the drama surrounding Marin Cilic's undisclosed positive drug test and three month suspension (It should be noted that baseball player Alex Rodriguez was reportedly offered a deal by Major League Baseball to sit out 2013 and 2014 and return in 2015 instead of being banned for life) and Viktor Troicki's attempts to drag everyone into the mess he created there was actual tennis played during the week. The US Open Series got underway with the ATP in Atlanta and the WTA in Stanford while the Europeans played in Gstaad, Umag and Baku (If they weren't busy withdrawing from parts of the US Open Series).

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The biggest, and maybe the most exciting win of the day saw Dominika Cibulkova avenge her loss to Agniezska Radwanska earlier this year in Sydney by pulling off a three set win in Stanford. No one expected her to win. Aga, who will make you crazy when she is on, was outplayed and visibly frustrated by the end of the match because Dominika simply would not go away. Not only was the woman some call "Queen Vulture" outplayed she was worn out. Dominika beat her at her own game. Wherever Aga hit the ball Dominika was there. Dominika also did what Jamie Hampton couldn't the day before and stopped herself from rushing her play.It was a long and exciting match. Exciting because Dominika, who as one wag on Twitter said, is about an inch tall, shouldn't have won. But she did.

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How do you define dull? Here's my opinion. Put two very tall men who have very little game outside of their serve on a hard court and let them go at it. If you see Kevin Anderson is going to play John Isner during the US Open Series or the US Open set yourself a reminder to tidy up your sock drawer. Or do the laundry. Or take a nice long soak. Or take a walk. I guarantee you whether it's a best of three or best of five there will be at least three tiebreak sets involved. Look at it this way. You can dust, vacuum or cook dinner and come back and see the end of the match. I really don't like serve only tennis. Apparently a lot of people agreed with me on Tennis Twitter today. I didn't like it when I saw Andy Roddick do it against Fabrice Santoro at the US Open a few years back and I didn't like it sitting in my living room watching one of the most boring matches I've ever seen in my life. It was right up there with the infamous Gilles Simon vs Gaël Monfils match that still makes people groan in agony while trying to claw their eyes out. Someone had to win and Isner managed to do so.

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Congratulations to Elina Svitolina on winning her first WTA title. It's a shame no one saw her do it. I tend to wake up early and I put on a stream of Baku just to see some of the players I rarely if ever see play.I think I was one of the ten people world wide who did so. It's not even funny to snark about the WTA playing to empty stadiums in Asia anymore. There were literally no more than 50 people in the stadium during the two matches I watched and I'm including the tournament staff. I felt sorry for the players. They come out and do their best but how hard must it be to play in an empty stadium where the only cheers are from your family and staff? It's incomprehensible to me that the WTA is going to stage its YEC in China when the same situation that existed in Baku exists there. Unless they're going to pay for a lot of seat warmers the top women in the world will play before the same number of people that showed up in Baku. Sad.

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I guess it's true that 30 is the new 20. It's also true that all good things must come to an end. Tommy Robredo, whom many thought would be out of the game by now due to the severity of the injury that kept him out most of last year, won the tournament in Umag. He defeated Fabio Fognini who had won back to back tournaments in Germany and was trying to win his third straight. Fognini ran right into the wall that he managed to dodge last week after getting a tough win over Gaël Monfils the day before. Robredo has Fognini's number and with nothing left in the tank Fognini saw his streak come to an end. Robredo was tired as well but he had more left than Fabio.

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Mikhail Youzhny won the tournament in Gstaad over Robin Haase of the Netherlands becoming the first Russian to ever win the event. He said the following during his winners speech at Gstaad:

"First and foremost I would like to thank Federer for coming here and for losing in the first round."

It was a joke. Oh. Ha!


Maria Sharapova has pulled out of The Rogers Cup in Toronto because of a hip injury she sustained in Wimbledon. Uh huh.

There are rumors floating around that Rafael Nadal will not play in Cincinnati where he's never done well.

Ryan Harrison showed what a great guy he is during his match against John Isner. Isner wanted a ball back so he could use it for his next serve. Harrison threw the ball into the stands. Stay classy Ryan. You'll never be half the man Andy Roddick still is.

Andy Murray, or whoever runs his Twitter account, said that Baku should become a joint event. I think whoever typed those 140 characters wasn't using joint to mean an ATP/WTA event.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The ITF Report on the Viktor Troicki Situation

posted by Savannah

The ITF thought better of that terse non comment issued earlier in the day and has released the full transcript of its hearing.

The PDF includes the timeline of what happened leading up to Troicki not giving the sample when asked.

Among the highlights are the following:

Troicki was told that refusal to give the sample after being chosen would be construed as a violation of the doping protocol

At no time did Troicki seek medical attention for the symptoms he reported (dizzyness, etc.)

The report then goes into what is in dispute(quoting):

(C) Matters in dispute

25. While there are a number of points of detail upon which the witnesses who
gave evidence before the Tribunal were not in agreement, it appears to us that
there is only one matter in dispute between the parties that it is necessary for
us to resolve in order to be able to reach our decision in these proceedings.
That matter is what the answer was that was given by Dr Gorodilova to the
question posed by Mr Troicki when he asked her whether there was any
possibility that he might not have to give blood despite having been notified
of an obligation to do so on 15 April 2013 (see paragraph 15(b) above).

26. Dr Gorodilova was clear in her evidence to us: her response was that this was
not a matter upon which she could advise the player. Whether or not Mr
Troicki’s reason for not giving a sample would be regarded as valid by the
ITF was not her decision; the ITF would decide this. It was in this context, she
told us, that she suggested that Mr Troicki write to the ITF explaining his
reasons for not giving blood. He had made a decision that he would not
provide a sample; he needed to explain to the ITF why that was so.

27. Mr Troicki denies that this was Dr Gorodilova’s response to his question. On
the contrary, he was adamant in his evidence to us that Dr Gorodilova had
assured him “100%” on four or even five occasions that if he set out his
reasons in a letter to the ITF, all would be well. This was in the context of his
having stated to the DCO that he did not want to suffer any sanctions as a
result of not giving blood. Dr Gorodilova denies that she gave Mr Troicki any
such assurance.

28. Before turning to our conclusions on this issue, we should say something
about the witnesses who appeared to give evidence before us. Both parties
called evidence from witnesses who were said to be able to corroborate the
accounts on this key issue of Dr Gorodilova and Mr Troicki, respectively:

a. The ITF called Mr Gan, who was present in the room in the DCS when
the relevant exchanges took place between Dr Gorodilova and Mr
Troicki. While we are sure that Mr Gan was doing his best to assist the
Tribunal, we do not consider that his evidence should be given any
weight on this key point, for two principal reasons. First, although he
signed a witness statement in English, he was joined at the hearing by
an interpreter whose role was to translate questions put to him in
English into his native language, French, and it became increasingly
clear as he was giving his evidence that his command of spoken
English was not that great. Since the exchanges in the DCS on 15 April
2013 between Dr Gorodilova and Mr Troicki took place in English, we
are not satisfied that he would sufficiently have understood what was
being said in his presence to be able to assist us as to any points of
disagreement. Secondly, on several occasions during the course of his
oral evidence of what occurred, he gave answers which differed
materially from his evidence as contained within his written witness
statement (the contents of which he had confirmed to us as being

b. Mr Troicki called Mr Reader to give evidence. Mr Reader was present
during the latter part of the period during which Mr Troicki was in the
DCS on 15 April 2013 (see paragraph 15(f) above). In his written
evidence, Mr Reader recounted how Mr Troicki asked Dr Gorodilova
twice in his presence whether “there would be any problem in proceeding
as they were doing” to which Dr Gorodilova is said to have replied that
“there should not be”. He repeated that evidence when he appeared
before us. In his oral evidence, Mr Reader also stated that he thought at
the time that Mr Troicki’s request to speak to Dr Miller was because
“something was not quite sitting with [Mr Troicki]…he was not quite sure,
not convinced that everything was going to be ok”. He also made clear that
he had not been present when Mr Troicki had asked Dr Gorodilova whether he could avoid giving blood on that occasion, or when she
had given her response. We make the following observations about Mr
Reader and his evidence:

i. The passages in his evidence set out above do not support the
position adopted by Mr Troicki before us, namely that he had
received 100% assurances from Dr Gorodilova that there would
be no problem so long as he explained himself in writing to the

ii. We were in any event not persuaded by Mr Reader that we
should confidently accept his evidence on this central issue. We
were unimpressed by him as a witness. Despite having been a
professional tennis coach since at least 1985, he affected not to
know the detail of the ITF’s anti-doping rules. Further, he did
not at any time while in the DCS question the DCO about
whether it was satisfactory for his player not to give blood,
despite apparently perceiving that Mr Troicki himself was not
sure that all would be well unless he did so; nor did he have any
conversation with Mr Troicki after leaving the DCS about how
he was feeling or what advice (if any) the DCO had given him
about his condition or what he ought to do in order to treat it.
Finally, and tellingly, he gave evidence that he spoke with Mr
Bratoev shortly after leaving the DCS and confirmed to Mr
Bratoev that Dr Gorodilova had told Mr Troicki that it was ok
not to do the blood test. Not only was this not Mr Bratoev’s
evidence (see paragraph 17 above), but it is not what Mr Reader
stated in evidence had in fact been said by her. Accordingly, on
matters of important detail, we feel unable to place any reliance
upon Mr Reader’s evidence in the absence of third party
corroboration. We consider that Mr Reader without having given any proper
thought to the matter, was prepared to say
whatever he felt would be likely to assist his player in avoiding
a sanction for an Anti-Doping Rule Violation.

c. Mr Troicki also called Mr Bratoev to give evidence. In contrast to Mr
Reader, Mr Bratoev came across as an assured witness, who had a
good recollection of the relevant events on 15 and 16 April 2013.
Moreover, as a tour manager of the ATP, he was independent of the
parties to these proceedings. We are able to accept the thrust of his
evidence, including his important evidence (heavily relied upon by Mr
Troicki) which is summarised in paragraph 16 above. Indeed, the ITF
was not disposed to challenge that evidence (thus its inclusion within
Section (B) of this Decision).

The ITF then considered Dr Gorodilova's testimony citing her fifteen year experience as a DCO.

As such she is well aware of
her responsibilities and the limits of her powers. In particular, she was
well aware on 15 April 2013 that it was indeed not her decision (but
rather that of the ITF) whether it was open to Mr Troicki to avoid
giving blood on that day or whether that avoidance would result in
sanctions for an Anti-Doping Rule Violation.

They then discuss Troicki's testimony.

Mr Troicki is a confident and determined man, who was very keen to
impress upon the Tribunal his conviction that he had not done
anything wrong. We are content to accept that by and large he had
genuine belief in the accuracy of his account to us of the relevant
events. However, that does not mean that this account was in fact
accurate. It is very frequently the case that witnesses have persuaded
themselves of the truth of what they purport to recall, despite the fact
that the truth in reality lies elsewhere.

The report them lays out the situation from the view of the ITF.

Therefore where, as here, there are conflicting accounts it is necessary to test
each account against all other available material and against any inherent
probabilities and inherent improbabilities in order to be able to reach a
confident conclusion as to what in fact occurred. Having done this, and as
explained below, we have concluded that we should accept Dr Gorodilova’s
account of what occurred in preference to that of Mr Troicki. In particular, it is
our conclusion that:

30a. She informed Mr Troicki that she could not advise him as to whether
his reason for not giving blood was a valid reason, as it was not her
decision, but would be a matter for the ITF to decide.
b. She did not assure Mr Troicki that, if he wrote his reasons in a letter to
the ITF, all would be well.

31. Our principal reasons for these conclusions are as follows:
a. They accord both with what the IDTM training materials would
require a DCO to say and not to say in these circumstances and with
what we would expect an experienced DCO such as Dr Gorodilova to
say and not to say in such circumstances, given the scope of her
responsibilities and the limits of her authority. b. They accord with Dr Gorodilova’s email and report to Mr Soderstrom shortly after the events in question had occurred (see paragraphs 18 and 20 above). Had Dr Gorodilova given any assurance to Mr Troicki
as suggested, that is something that she would have included in those
documents, in which she described all the material events that had
occurred (as required on her in the IDTM training materials).

c. They are consistent with Dr Gorodilova’s behaviour on 16 April 2013
(her negative reaction to the absence of a medical certificate and
enthusiasm at the offer by Mr Troicki to give blood voluntarily: see
paragraphs 20 and 22 above) – if she had given an unequivocal evidence before us (see also paragraph 15(d) above), he had
appreciated at the time that Dr Miller was the one who had to make the
decision – i.e. to decide whether Mr Troicki’s conduct and his
explanation for that conduct would or would not be regarded as

d. They accord with our perception of Dr Gorodilova as a conscientious
and cautious individual. There is no evidence which compels us to the
conclusion that, despite this, she failed to follow the relevant guidance
given to her by IDTM as to how to proceed in the circumstances she
faced with Mr Troicki.

e. Mr Troicki’s own recollection, as recorded in his written statement
given four days after the event, was not consistent with an unequivocal
assurance having been given to him on 15 April 2013 by Dr
Gorodilova. According to that statement, she had merely stated that “it
should be all right” if he wrote as suggested to the ITF. That statement
also included the words “I wanted to be 100% sure” (see the last sentence
of paragraph 15(d) above). Moreover, as Mr Troicki accepted in evidence before us (see also paragraph 15(d) above), he had
appreciated at the time that Dr Miller was the one who had to make the
decision – i.e. to decide whether Mr Troicki’s conduct and his
explanation for that conduct would or would not be regarded as

f. For what it is worth, Mr Troicki’s own stated lack of certainty on 15
April 2013 that all would be well is reflected in the evidence of Mr
Reader referred to in paragraph 28(b) above.

There is more detail about who said what when including the statements of the Tournament Director before the conclusions of the ITF are presented.

(E) Our Overall Conclusions

(1) Failure or Refusal

43. We find that Mr Troicki both failed and refused to submit to giving blood on
15 April 2013, having been duly notified of his obligation to do so. His failure
to give blood is obvious, given that it did not occur. However, we consider
that Mr Troicki also by his conduct and his actions evidenced a refusal to give
blood as well. Dr Gorodilova was adamant in her evidence that she took the
steps that she did (starting with the request for a letter of explanation)
because Mr Troicki had made it clear that his mind was made up - he was not
prepared to give blood despite her efforts to encourage him to do so.

(2) Compelling Justification

44. We have concluded that Mr Troicki’s attempt to defend the Charge on the
basis that he had compelling justification for not giving blood must fail. We
refer to paragraphs 38 and 39 above. The only circumstances in which we
would have been prepared to accept such a defence would have been if we
had accepted that Dr Gorodilova’s statements and conduct would have led a
reasonable person in the position of Mr Troicki on 15 April 2013 to conclude
that he definitely would not be sanctioned if he did not give blood on that
occasion. It is a question that we do not have to address whether that
reasonable person was one having the characteristics and condition of Mr
Troicki at the time. We do not need to address this because, as set out in
paragraph 33 above, we do not accept that Mr Troicki in fact understood at
the time that Dr Gorodilova was giving him any unqualified or categorical
assurance. Short of such an understanding, there can have been no
compelling justification for Mr Troicki’s actions.

(3) Mitigation under Article 10.5.1

45. We do not see how it is open to Mr Troicki to argue that he was guilty of No
Fault or Negligence, given our findings set out above and our conclusion that
he is unable sufficiently to justify his actions to escape liability under the

(4) Mitigation under Article 10.5.2

46. On the other hand, we are prepared to treat Article 10.5.2 as engaged on the
facts of this case. Like the footballers in the CONI case and the tennis player
in the case of Kendrick, Mr Troicki acted in the way that he did in
consequence of the stress that he was under - in this case, as a result of a
combination of his physical condition and his panic at the prospect of giving
blood. On all other occasions when he was in good health (including on 16
April 2013 – see paragraph 23 above), he gave blood, despite his phobia. On
the other hand, we agree with the ITF that his circumstances only warrant
affording Mr Troicki limited mitigation, given our finding that he was
nonetheless aware at the time that there was a risk (however small) that his
actions might result in a sanction. We have concluded in all the circumstances
that the right course for us is to accept that Mr Troicki has established that he
was not guilty of Significant Fault or Negligence and reduce the otherwise
applicable period of Ineligibility by six months.


49. Article 10.8 of the Programme provides that “all other competitive results
obtained from the date the Sample in question was collected…or other Anti-Doping
Rule Violation occurred through to the start of the Ineligibility period shall be
Disqualified (with all of the resulting consequences, including forfeiture of any
medals, titles, ranking points and Prize Money), unless the Independent tribunal
determines that fairness requires otherwise”. The ITF submits that the burden is
on Mr Troicki to establish why fairness requires otherwise in the
circumstances of his case. Accepting that burden, Mr Troicki argues that it
would be unfair to Disqualify him in respect of subsequent events because he
was truly convinced that he had not broken the Rules.

50. While we have not accepted that as a fair summary of the player’s state of
mind at the time, we are nonetheless of the view that fairness dictates that Mr
Troicki should not suffer any Disqualification beyond the event in question.
In reaching that conclusion, we have borne in mind the helpful analysis of the
relevant authorities on this point in the case of Bogomolov (an ITF Anti-
Doping Tribunal Decision of 18 January 2005). It seems to us that, in
circumstances where the Anti-Doping Rule Violation is constituted by a
failure or refusal to submit to giving a sample, where there is no suggestion
that this failure or refusal was in fact prompted by the player’s desire to evade
the detection of a banned substance in his system, where there have been
subsequent negative tests (including on the following day) and where the
facts of the case warrant some mitigation of sanction under Article 10.5.2 of
the Programme, it would be disproportionate to penalise Mr Troicki in
respect of his subsequent playing activities. We accept that there is something
to be said for the view (advanced by the ITF in argument in Bogomolov) that
the Programme is designed to encourage players voluntarily to abstain from
competing pending the decision on their case and that Article 10.8 should be
read against that background. However, we do not consider that, on the facts
of this case, Mr Troicki should be penalised in effect because he chose not to
take that voluntary course.

(6) The Tribunal’s Ruling

51. Accordingly,for the reasons given above, the Tribunal:

a. Confirms the commission of the Anti-Doping Rule Violation under
Article 2.3 of the Programme specified in the Charge;

b. Orders that Mr Troicki’s individual result must be disqualified in
respect of the Monte Carlo Masters 2013, and in consequence rules that
the 45 ATP ranking points and €9,305 in prize money obtained by him
from his participation in that event must be forfeited;

c. Orders further that Mr Troicki be permitted to retain the prize money
and ranking points obtained by him from his participation in all
subsequent competitions in which he has participated;

d. Finds that Mr Troicki has established that the circumstances of his
Anti-Doping Rule Violation bring him within the provisions of Article
10.5.2 of the Programme;

e. Declares Mr Troicki ineligible for a period of 18 months, commencing
on 15 July 2013, from participating in any capacity in (i) any Covered
Event; (ii) any other Event or Competition or activity (other than
authorised anti-doping education or rehabilitation programmes)
authorised, organised or sanctioned by the ITF, the ATP, any National
Association or member of a National Association, or any Signatory,
Signatory’s member organisation, or club or member organisation of
that Signatory’s member organisation; or (iii) any Event or
Competition authorised or organised by any professional league or any
international or national-level Event or Competition organisation.
Ian Mill QC, Chairman Dr Jose A Pascual Dr Barry O’Driscoll
25 July 2013.

The entire report is here:

Marin Cilic Tested Positive for a Banned Substance in Munich


Leading Croatian newspapers are reporting that Marin Cilic tested positive for a banned substance in April during the Munich tournament. Cilic is said to have totally cooperated with the ITF and an agreement was reached that he would not play for three months. The match he "lost" at Wimbledon was actually a tank since he learned of the positive test at that time.

For updates please follow @radosko on Twitter. He's translating the Croatian.


Amy Fetheroff posted a full translation of the Croatian report. Thanks Amy!

The following report appeared on, a credible Croatian news source. This has been translated by Mateja Vidakovic:

Marin Cilic tested positive in a drug test during the ATP tournament in Munich this year. Though no information is yet disclosed by the ITF, Marin’s manager Vincent Stavaux claimed, “There will be no comment until we are able to comment,” indirectly confirming there was a problem.

According to the information available, Marin Cilic failed the drug test during the tournament in April, only two weeks after passing a doping check with flying colors, during the Monte Carlo Masters 1000. When he lost to Ivan Dodig in Munich, he was tested again and confirmed to have an illegal substance in his body.

Reports claim that careless consumption of glucose was to blame for the test coming up positive. Marin was left with no glucose during the Munich tournament, and one of his confidants bought some in a pharmacy. The glucose supposedly had a warning labeled on it for sportsmen. According to sources close to Marin, he failed to read the warning and then subsequently tested positive.

Further supporting this theory is what transpired after Munich. Croatia’s top player agreed to cooperate with the ITF anti-doping agency as soon as he was informed about testing positive. Cilic found out during Wimbledon and therefore forfeited his second round match against Kenny De Schepper. Therefore, his knee injury was a ruse as Marin awaited for the situation to unfold after Wimbledon.

According to Marin’s statement for the Jutarnji list paper, he hopes to be able to play in Montreal. Considering the tournament begins on the 5th of August, there is a theory stating the ITF will suspend Marin for three months, but retroactively. Considering he lost against Dodig on the 2nd of May, the three month suspension could fit from then on up until the beginning of Montreal. Its assumed that the penalty is so lenient due to Marins co-operation with the ITF.

If this retroactive suspension would be the case, then Cilic would be stripped of all the points and prize money he won in the last three months. In this case, Canada would be a new start. The worst case scenario for the Croat would be that his statement about Montreal, and the matching dates, would only be a coincidence. In this case, Cilic has hard times ahead of him as we await for the ITF to issue a statement.

Tennis, Baseball and Doping

by Savannah

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Non Americans may not be familiar with one Ryan Braun. Braun, who tested positive for PED's (Performance Enhancing Drugs) in 2011. He vigorously protested his innocence to the authorities and said that his sample had been contaminated because the drug tester kept it over night in his home. The drug tester ended up losing his job and Braun continued to pitch for his team and end up with a contract running into the next decade.

Fast forward to 2013. The head of the Major League Baseball union, seriously ill himself, released a statement in early July which basically said that drug cheats would not get the automatic union protection they'd become accustomed to and that if confronted with proof of their cheating it would be best for them to negotiate a deal. The reason for the statement became clear when Braun was suspended for the rest of the 2013 season and would lose $3 million. Of course that's like you or I being fined $30 but that's not the point. Braun is considered a small fish though and it remains to see if the big one ends up being permanently banned.

But what happens to Alex Rodriguez isn't the subject of this post. It's Braun's blatant lie about the drug tester that's relevant to tennis right now.

Victor Troicki, as many know by now, was tested in Monte Carlo in April of this year. Ho-hum except that they wanted a blood sample in addition to the urine sample. In a statement Troicki says he refused the blood sample because he wasn't feeling well and offered to give the sample the next day. He claims the drug tester said okay. Reports are he was stunned to be told his suspension would be eighteen months and said that the drug tester deceived him into believing it was okay not to give the sample. Outraged, he's taking his case to the CAS in hopes of getting the suspension reversed. It went into effect July 15 which means if upheld, Troicki wouldn't be back on a court until January 2015.

Some quotes are needed here.

Troicki said the following:

"The doctor in charge of the testing told me that I looked very pale and ill, and that I could skip the test if I wrote an explanation letter to ITF about it," Troicki said, in a question and answer session released to USA TODAY Sports by Troicki's agent. "She dictated the letter to me and let me go without giving blood. She was very helpful and understanding.

"Now I am being charged for refusing to undergo a blood test without justification. This is a real nightmare."

Troicki continued: "I had a blood test from the same doping control officer the next morning. ... Both negative, totally clean."

Quoting the same source cited above the ITF said this:

The tribunal, however, ruled that the officer had told Troicki "she could not advise him as to whether his reason for not providing a blood sample was valid, and that no such assurances were given by her."

The tribunal said Troicki's "actions constituted a failure and a refusal to provide a blood sample, and that his explanation for not doing so did not constitute compelling justification."

More important for the player
...the ITF said Troicki's results at the Monte Carlo Masters would be erased and he would forfeit both ATP ranking points and prize money from the tournament.

Troicki is 27.

I'm sorry if I'm skeptical. I didn't believe Richard Gasquet's "I kissed a girl" cocaine defense and I don't believe Troicki. Why would a drug tester put her job on the line by letting him skate? Why has Troicki, in trying to defend himself, dragged his country's and ATP top ranked player into this? Why is he saying his coach will back his version of events? Will his Federation get behind him like the FFT did with Gasquet? That remains to be seen.

If everyday people know how to pass a drug test despite their personal behavior why wouldn't a professional athlete? Faced with a blood test that could find something asking for an over night reprieve leaves the door wide open for something to get out of his system. It happens all the time.

Of course my disbelief doesn't translate into proof that Troicki did anything wrong. He could be perfectly innocent. But after Ryan Braun's behavior I can't help but be suspicious when someone throws the drug tester under the bus.

Again this is my belief. The appeal process will be followed by Troicki and his team and only when that is finished will tennis fans know if Troicki will serve the full 18 month suspension.

The entire statement released by the ITF is quoted below, also from the above source.

"The International Tennis Federation announced today that Viktor Troicki has been found to have committed an Anti-Doping Rule Violation under Article 2.3 of the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme (refusing or failing without compelling justification to submit to sample collection).

"Mr Troicki, a 27-year-old player from Serbia, was notified on 15 April 2013 that he had been selected to provide a urine sample and a blood sample in association with his participation at the Rolex Monte Carlo Masters event.

"Mr Troicki provided a urine sample, but did not provide a blood sample. He asserted to an independent tribunal that he was assured by the Doping Control Officer (DCO) that it would be acceptable not to provide a sample on account of him feeling unwell that day. However, the tribunal concluded that the DCO told Mr Troicki that she could not advise him as to whether his reason for not providing a blood sample was valid, and that no such assurances were given by her.

"Accordingly, the tribunal determined that Mr Troicki's actions constituted a failure and a refusal to provide a blood sample, and that his explanation for not doing so did not constitute compelling justification under Article 2.3. However, the tribunal accepted that the stress that Mr Troicki was under at the time entitled him to mitigation under Article 10.5.2.

"Mr Troicki's commission of an Anti-Doping Rule Violation under Article 2.3 of the Programme was, therefore, confirmed, and the tribunal determined that he is suspended from participation for a period of 18 months, and so ending at midnight on 24 January 2015. It was also determined that Mr Troicki's results at the 2013 Monte Carlo Rolex Masters event should be disqualified, with resulting forfeiture of the ranking points and prize money that he won at that event.

The picture is via

Monday, July 22, 2013

The US Open Effect and A Look Back at The Championships 2013

by Savannah

I actually started my Wimbledon post. I was going to have all these wise and pithy things to say about what happened but sometimes life gets in the way. Two people very close to me told me they were ill, one very seriously. One has been a tennis friend for quite some time and I'm sending best wishes to her during this difficult time.

Then Florida happened, or should I say "Floriduh" happened and while I wasn't totally surprised it was still depressing.

So here I am some weeks after the British made sure their man won Wimbledon - I mean he was the only one who knew how to play the grass that wasn't new or different this year - and just like the United States customizes it's Davis Cup surfaces the extra time Mr. Murray had to play on the not new or different grass paid off.

But Wimbledon will be the second part of this post.

Let's talk about the continuation of the European tennis season or Clay Part Deux. There's no other way to say it. Some weird and totally unexpected shit has been going down during afterWimbledon. That's what I'm going to call it. Some hard court aficionados think the grass season should be extended and that clay court play after The Championships is some kind of sacrilege.

Fortunately cooler heads prevail and the Europeans keep right on doing what they have been and playing on clay. You all remember how the ATP, under the "guidance" of the USTA and it's subsidiaries, the LTA, TA and to a lesser extent the FFT tried to get rid of Monte Carlo and downgraded Hamburg moving it to what was hoped would be an after thought time of the year so that everyone would have to come to the US earlier and play on the concrete right? Well it ain't exactly working out the way they thought it would. More on that later.

Fabio Fognini Hamburg Champion 2013 photo 69773467-6f24-48a9-8ecc-76ad1bee7307_zpsaf9ebf2a.jpg

First of all this player named Fabio Fognini won not one but two ATP crowns in Germany - Stuttgart and Hamburg. Yes, the Hamburg just mentioned above. Fabio isn't new to the game. He's been around. He struts like a bantam rooster on court and while he's had moderate success has never really been thought of as a contender. Lets just ignore all the geopolitical stuff going on between Italy and Germany for now. The last thing German fans expected was this peacock of a man to come into their house and destroy their nascent hopes of rejoining the Big Boy's Club. Surely Tommy Haas, obviously a graduate of Professor Xavier's school, was going to win one if not both events right? Haas has kept his German passport but is also an American citizen. He's been playing very well and hell I expected him to win at least one event.

I think what Fognini does is bug the shit out of Haas. He struts and mugs and generally drives him nuts. Gaël Monfils needs to study what Fognini does. He's Monfils with discipline. He's not making it up as he goes along. He knows what he's doing when he goes into his act. The proof is that he's got back to back trophies he's taking home to Italy while Haas didn't even get a plate from Stuttgart. Philipp Kohlschreiber got that bad boy.

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You may recognize the man in the hat as one Ivo Karlovic. Dr Ivo as he's known to tennisheads was diagnosed with viral meningitis a few months back and no one expected him to seriously contend this year. Well he's the champion of the inaugural Bogota tournament. You know, the one that replaced the tournament in Los Angeles that used to be part of the US Open series, the one that the Americans let go to Colombia so that that heretic Larry Ellison couldn't get his hands on it. Some guys from the United States went there but they came home rather quickly despite the lightening fast surface some compared to glass.

In fact there's a danger of there being no American men in the ATP Top 20 for the first time since 1973 when the modern ranking system began. Sam Querrey - you remember him right? - is ranked #20 right now but his 250 points from winning Los Angeles last year- the tournament that's now Bogota - will drop off and he'll be ranked lower than 20.

But I digress.

Yvonne Meusberger Bad Gastein Champion 2013 photo aa09f6e5-c8b5-461a-ab93-554724534329_zpsad88801f.jpg

You have to be a hard core tennis fan to know who Yvonne Meusberger is. She's a staple on the ITF circuit but she always does well at Bad Gastein. This year she did really well and won the whole damn thing to win her first main tour title. Don't worry though. She's not someone ESPN will be talking about. She doesn't have that certain "je ne sais quoi" does she?

Serena Williams B photo 82892088-4be9-4c7c-bdfd-5b65b637068b_zpsfb763d07.jpg

Then there was the WTA International tournament in Båstad, Sweden. Venus Williams was scheduled to play but due to medical issues she had to pull out. Her sister Serena Williams was set to play too. And play she did.

Until this week Serena had never won an International level tournament. She's played them. She just never stuck around to pick up a trophy. Serena however has a new attitude, one that's been visible for those who have no preconceived notions of her can easily see. She's more focused. She concentrates. She uses her intellect to overcome her opponents and she's learned how to slide. The sliding is new. The other things aren't. It's just that her level of intensity has risen and it doesn't matter if a bansidhe is screaming across the net from her or if she's playing someone ranked way below her. She accepts their challenges and instead of getting flustered as she would sometimes do when playing someone for the first time she absorbs their attacks and adjusts her game so that she can eventually win.

Congratulations to all the winners this week.

The 2013 Championships: A Look Back

Murray Wimbledon Ball 2013 photo 8cf3f458-01f0-421e-8cfd-32b7cda34ea8_zps3f3a81c3.jpg

I'm happy for Andy Murray. He got the monkey off his back and can go on with the rest of his life. There is talk that he will soon be Sir Andrew Baron Murray and that Judy is already practicing being Dame Murray. Will Kim Sears get to wear a tiara if she manages to get Andrew down the aisle? And lets not forget Scotland is holding a referendum next year to decide if it wants to split from the United Kingdom, a referendum most think will lead to secession and Scotland standing on its own. If that happens will Sir Andrew, uh, Andy, keep a title bestowed by what would become a foreign country? Decisions, decisions.

Marion Wimbledon Ball 2013 photo 5d341d6a-b837-4706-976c-6e33edfa5c1b_zps4765bdcf.jpg

While the American and British press go bonkers over someone from the tennis Axis nations winning the biggest tournament in tennis there has been another, far uglier story sitting like a period bump in the center of the forehead of tennis commentary and that is the horrid way announcers, mostly British by the way, have reacted to Marion Bartoli winning the Ladies Championship. "How dare she have beaten Fraulein Lisicki!" they rage. Fraulein Lisicki wears cute short skirts, she's easy on the eyes, SHE'S BLONDE and has big doe like eyes. How dare this French woman, who is none of those things, beat the Fraulein!!!

Truth be told the British media acted like assholes the entire Fortnight. It started with Annabel Croft's insults directed towards WTA #1 Serena Williams. Croft made several comments about Serena's derriere and how her kits were so much bigger than the other players. Croft, who has one title to her name and whose highest ranking was #126 (12/21/1986) thought that her comments wouldn't get out. They did.

In case you missed it this is what Croft said:

One of the LTA invitees said: 'Annabel made many personal asides about Serena, saying that she was huge. She said all Serena's dresses were very carefully designed to hide her bulk.

'She then moved on to concentrate on what she termed as Serena's huge backside. She said she was in the ladies' changing room and wondering who was going to wear what looked like a wedding dress.

'She then saw Serena getting into this dress and that the train had been carefully designed to wrap around Serena's huge backside. It was quite offensive.

Did she apologize? This is what she's quoted as saying:

I apologise to anyone who might have taken offence, but it was meant as a harmless piece of banter. Serena has a magnificent bottom that every woman should aspire to.

Yeah that's an apology to Serena alright.

Everyone focused on the comments made by John Inverdale about Marion but the worst column of them all was written by one Mr. Greg Couch, an American. His magnum opus is entitled Women's Final Terrible For Tennis . Did he write about the merits of Marion's game vs that of Serena or Maria Sharapova or Victoria Azarenka, the women who sit at the top of the women's game? Did he talk about Marion's approach vs that of Li Na or Aga Radwanska? Nope. How's this gem?

Women’s tennis is desperate for stars. And this is the sport’s greatest stage, greatest opportunity. Yet with so little depth, two underdogs got here. Lisicki had a small chance to catch on in the US. Small, because I have a feeling no one was watching. But she did beat Williams, and could have been the Wimbledon champ. She is super-powerful. She is comfortable and personable in front of a camera.

And in terms of growing interest in the game, she could appeal to the average testosterone-defined fan sitting on his couch in front of the TV: She’s an attractive, powerful blonde woman in a short skirt.

Bartoli – more hard truth – is not going to sell in the US. She doesn’t have magazine looks, and plays in an ugly way.

Or this:

On top of that, there is no way Bartoli should be able to win Wimbledon.

Someone should have been able to take advantage of her lack of moment and reach, with those two-handed strokes. But all the top players kept losing before her, so she never played anyone in the top 10.

And this:

“You felt like you achieved something you dreamed about for maybe a million hours,’’ Bartoli said. “You went through pain, you went through tears, you went through low moments, and actually, it happened.’’

Nah, we can’t sell that.

Now if I had summarized and said that Couch said that Bartoli is too fug to win and that the cute German girl should've won for the betterment of women's tennis you would've thought I was hating wouldn't you? The kicker is unlike me, Couch is PAID to analyze tennis for the masses. Instead the "attractive, powerful blonde woman in a short skirt" got taken apart by this woman he can't/won't fantasize about and so she didn't deserve to win.

There have been two embarrassing cries on tennis courts within the last five years. One happened after the mens final in Melbourne when the winner had to console the runner up. The other was Sabine Lisicki in tears DURING her match. I don't even want to think about what was going through Couch's fevered brain while that was going on.

You see, and this is between me and you, once Maria Sharapova lost early they looked for someone, anyone, who could beat Serena Williams. Did their sub rosa harassment of Serena take it's toll on the Great One? We'll never know but when Lisicki came from behind to beat Serena you could hear the "Hallelujahs" as the tennis establishment fell to its knees. The mistake Lisicki made was believing the smoke being blown up her ass. She thought that Marion was going to roll over, eat a Twix on the sidelines, and that she'd walk over her prone body to accept the Venus Rosewater trophy. When Marion made it clear she was not having it things rapidly fell apart.

Now I have nothing against Lisicki. Her comeback is nothing short of miraculous, but come on people. Marion had been to a final before. She'd lost to none other than the Queen of Wimbledon Venus Williams. She learned from that. But no one that I heard commentating made that connection until the match was over and Marion was holding up the trophy. Too bad. Marion won Wimbledon playing like her idol, Monica Seles. Look up some old video of Monica. People like Couch, Croft and Inverdale would've deemed her unfit to win too.

The other match that made an impression on me was the Girls Final between Taylor Townsend and Belinda Bencic. There was a game in the first set that lasted twenty minutes. This was of course a day match and was played under the broiling sun. Taylor won the game and the set but after that she had nothing. Nothing mentally and nothing physically. Her coach(es) need to sit her down and go over that match with her. There is no way Bencic should've won that match. All Bencic did was wait for Townsend to fade physically and then she went about her business and took her apart.

I know we all gave Patrick McEnroe grief when he publicly shamed Taylor but I'm going to say it now. Girl you have got to get fit. You put aside the bows and cute hair. Now it's time to push away from the table and get in the gym. You will never attain your potential if you don't.

There are larger women playing tennis but look at the top ten. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that when we see Marion again she's going to have slimmed down. She's hungry now and wants more. She doesn't want to be a one slam wonder. And that is going to mean no more candy bars on the sidelines. Yes Taylor moves well IN THE EARLY STAGES OF A MATCH. She visibly slows down when things get physically demanding.

One of the critiques I read about United States tennis is that no one has that killer instinct. No one wants to sacrifice going to Chipotle in order to ensure that they're the best they can be on the court. This has been a problem in the States for a few years now. And don't hand me that crap about Taylor being built like Serena. Serena never had a paunch.

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She's heavier here but she's not overweight. I doubt any of her people will read this but Taylor you are on the way to being another United States could've been if you don't work on yourself. No one on the main tour is going to be quaking in their sneakers to face you unless you give them a reason to. Right now everyone is looking at Belinda Bencic. I think you want everyone looking at you.

The US Open Series

This is getting boring. Every year the USTA dangles the promise of a huge paycheck in front of the top players hoping to lure them to the States to play the series of hard court tournaments dubbed the US Open Series. Breaking News: They aren't coming.

Look at the Stanford Main Draw. Look at Atlanta. They'll be here when the have to, for the Rogers Cup and Cincinnati, the back to back summer M1000/WTA Premiere events. And they're coming kicking and screaming. Once proud tournaments have main draws that are barely above Challenger or ITF circuit tournaments.

And let's face it there are no Americans who will draw a crowd unless their surname is Williams. I mean are you going to swelter in high heat and humidity to see Jack Sock?

Will things get better for the US Open series? Are there any up and coming Americans who will put butts in the seats like Serena Williams did in Båstad?

Name someone. I'm waiting.


So Jimmy Connors is now Maria Sharapova's coach. While you're thinking of a young US player who will put buns in the seats tell me what Connors will bring to Pova's game that she doesn't already have? Isn't it ironic that after Thomas Högstedt told Li Na via the internet that he was no longer her coach that there are stories floating around that he dumped Pova? Isn't it kind of funny that there was talk that he was going to be Caroline Wozniacki's new coach until she issued a statement saying no? I wonder if they were smart enough to put a clause in his contract forbidding him to work with top ten or twenty players?

All I know is that this is a deal made in IMG heaven. Connors gets the big payday he wanted and Pova is not in the embarrassing position of not having a coach. See? Was that hard to figure out?

Oh. So Roger Federer changed the size of his racquet. He's playing in Gstaad this week. He played Hamburg too.

Agniezska Radwanska got in a bit of trouble at home in Poland. She posed au naturel for the ESPN body issue. I'm surprised no one talked to her about the ramifications of doing that. Her hair is still its natural color in the ESPN pictures. Maybe blonde Aga is the new honey badger of the WTA.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Marion Bartoli Wins Wimbledon Ladies Championship

by Savannah

Sarah Day ‏@geowriter
WOW. John Inverdale on 5 live: 'd'you think Bartoli's dad told her when she was little 'you're never going to be a looker?'

Marion Bartoli Wimbledon Champion photo ff3406bd-7fe0-4669-94f8-cb666d6a3e8a_zpsa4f89575.jpg

Marion Bartoli. Maid Marion. Out of shape. Unpopular with tennis journalists who take their cue from the Tours and former superstars of the game who have gone into the coaching business. Marion Bartoli who was unpopular with her own tennis federation because she wanted to be coached by her father and not by one of the hacks - yes I'll call them hacks - who had never won a major in their career - Marion Bartoli is the 2013 Wimbledon Champion.

For all the women and girls who were called ugly, fat, awkward. For all the girls who suffered at the hands of twits like John Inverdale quoted above Marion Bartoli is the women's champion. A Frenchwoman in the land of strawberries and cream. A woman who no one ever considered as possible champion except for those in her circle, those who knew Walter Bartoli understood enough to step aside, that he could not take her where she wanted to go. Especially for Amélie Mauresmo who took the time to know her and to fight her battles for her, who gave her the confidence to stand on Centre Court at Wimbledon and dismantle the fan and media favorite, for all of us who have been declared "other" Marion won this for us.

Congratulations Mlle Bartoli. Congratulations.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Ladie's Final - #15 vs #23

by Savannah

Maid Marion 7/4/2013 photo 09d1275f-da37-4be5-8b9b-cfeba53c442e_zps092ec3b4.jpg

A few years ago Marion Bartoli played Venus Williams in a Wimbledon Final. It was the story of two women who, if you were writing a tennis novel, wouldn't be your first choices to face off in the Final. Venus Williams, daughter of a bus driver from Louisiana, and Marion Bartoli, daughter of a physician from the south of France, should have had different paths woven for them in the carpet. Yet both women played on what was left of the green carpet of the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world and the bus driver and the doctor embraced understanding that their daughters had overcome improbable odds to play each other that day.

Marion Bartoli is that girl who everyone teased, the awkward one who was often seen doing weird things with hair that needed a good cut and a little to thick around the waist. Her father didn't try to make her into something or someone she was not. Instead he sought to build her strength letting her stay the woman she was. His methods were unorthodox but his daughter always ended up surprising people in the sport she chose for herself. Her quirks would sometimes leaver her exhausted towards the end of a long match but Marion has always won or lost matches her way. I don't think eating a Twix bar on the sidelines did anything to help her image and may have reinforced the stereotypes some have about women's tennis but when the dust settled today she was waiting to see who she would play in the Ladie's Final at Wimbledon.

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The one thing I'll always remember about Sabine Lisicki was when she tore up her ankles so badly she had to be carried off court and practically learn how to walk again once her body had healed. Four years later she will walk on Centre Court at Wimbledon to play Marion Bartoli for the women's title.

When Sabine was injured she was on a lot of peoples radar and there was a lot of buzz around her. After the horrible injuries no one expected her to come back and play high level tennis.
She's been quietly plugging away out of the limelight, overshadowed by other German women in terms of popularity if not results. She's ranked #24 at the moment and was seeded #23 at Wimbledon. She made it to the second week and no one thought she'd get past her opponent, the top woman player in the world.

But there is a reason you play the matche. On paper she should be on her way to another tournament or resting from the Roland Garros/Wimbledon cycle. Instead she caught the top woman on a bad day and is now in the spotlight.

I have nothing against Sabine. She's overcome adversity and right now the sky could be the limit as far as tennis goes. I just wish that commentators wouldn't pick favorites and instead of calling the match as it's being played focus on the one they've anointed "favorite" and not what is happening on the court.

I've been saying for years now that the tours, especially the WTA, promote names, individuals and not the sport. It's why ESPN, despite it's excellent coverage during the second week when both ESPN and ESPN2 were used to cover Centre Court and Court 1, was scrambling to find out anything about the women who had reached the semifinals. Tennis is not promoted during Slams in the States. Americans playing tennis are promoted. But that's a story for another day.

I still think the Tournament Director is working his way through a case of gin. Wimbledon is where the anointed ones are supposed to face off in semifinals and finals not #15 and #23.

May the best player win on Saturday.


Aga Sabine Handshake 7/4/2013 photo a95dc0dc-9dbf-450c-83a1-f3095df50c78_zps02f9cb7f.jpg

I'm not a big fan of Agniezska Radwanska. I admit that she brings an artistry to the court and that her style of play runs counter to Big Babe Tennis is interesting for some, but when I watch her play I end up sound asleep. I didn't sleep during the third set of her match against Sabine Lisicki though. It was a great set of tennis and despite the fact that Aga was visibly struggling, that she could no longer ignore the pain she played in the entire match Aga fought and almost pulled it off. When the match was over she quickly exited ignoring the Wimbledon custom of both players walking off the court together. Some fans thought she had been, well, disrespectful to her opponent and to Wimbledon. What did Agnes have to say about her "bitchy" behavior.

I found a fan translation of an interview Aga did with Polish media where she delivers a line that ranks as one of the best of the year.

When asked about the "handshake" between her and Sabine after the match Aga replied

Why was I cold during the handshake and leave the court so quickly? Well was I supposed to stay there and dance? I had no desire for a chit chat with Sabine, I was mad that I lost.

Good going Aga. Good for saying exactly how your felt and good that you won't get grief for it from the US media. If you read Polish the link is above.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Four Of These Do Not Belong

by Savannah

Well maybe three.

Aga Radwanska Wimbledon 2013 photo 1b5044a2-bcb3-4756-ae34-ff214967787f_zps75e824f4.jpg
Agniezska Radwanska has been here before. She was a finalist last year.

Marion Bartoli Wimby 2013 photo 78ab4e17-34b0-414d-b1cc-0274ca8854a5_zps0f88ab7e.jpg
Marion Bartoli played a memorable Wimbledon final against Venus Williams a few years ago.

But neither woman was given much of a chance of making the final. There were other better known players who were seeded ahead of them and were favored to make the semifinals. They're gone. They were seeded however and therefore it was always possible they'd go deep into the tournament.

Lisicki Wimbledon 2013 photo 3f687156-cf4b-4059-b369-4281e9074e59_zpsedc41ec8.jpg
Sabine Lisick was also seeded so also had a chance to make it to week two and serve as warmups for the big girls. Her inconsistency was seen as proof she wasn't ready for prime time.

Kirsten Flipkens Wimbledon 2013 photo f5821923-4764-4462-a7e9-d646a0e5310c_zps9827394e.jpg
The only woman in the semifinals who wasn't seeded is Kirsten Flipkens. Injuries, including a scary bout of blood clots in both legs kept her off the tour most of her career and she was supposed to be back home in Belgium by now.

So why am I saying four of these women don't belong instead of just Flipkens? Did anyone really envision the Women's Semifinals without one or all of the Big Three? Is the tournament director sitting in a heap cradling a bottle of gin and mumbling incoherently? Probably. Is ESPN scrambling to find some way to build up Lisicki as the second coming to try and drum up interest in semifinals that feature not one American by birth or PR adoption, women who have been mostly ignored or made fun of by the US broadcast media? You bet they are.

In my opinion Kirsten Flipkens played the best match of the day. Who knew she owned the head to head between herself and Petra Kvitova? Who knew that after Kvitova, still overweight and obviously over heated in the closed stadium won the first set Flipkens would hold it together and calmly grind Kvitova into the grass?

I never thought that Sloane Stephens would beat Marion Bartoli. Aga vs Na was always dependent on which Li Na showed up to play. I thought that Lisicki might suffer from nerves after her big win but she's still obviously pumped and that confidence carried her through against Kaia Kanepi who really never had a chance.

So now it's time for the WTA to put its money where it's mouth is. The hype has been that the women's tour has depth and that what looks like weakness isn't that at all. Flipkens played great today but she's never played Bartoli who confounds with her play despite being out of shape for a female athlete.

Lisicki and Radwanska are even at one all in their head to head.

It's going to be an interesting day for women's tennis, one that will put it on display in a way I don't think it wanted to be, especially at this time.

Who will make the finals? I have no idea. I don't think anyone does.