via The Guardian
Lets start with Samantha Stousur's win over nemesis Victoria Azarenka in Carlsbad Sunday afternoon.
Better yet lets go to Victoria Azarenka's victory over Ana Ivanovic on Saturday. Azarenka needed three sets to win that match, a win that leap frogged her over Maria Sharapova and into the #2 ranking behind Serena Williams. Victoria had already been seeded #2 in Toronto but after losing to Stosur she withdrew citing a bad back. You don't have to be a match whiz to know why Azarenka would, uh, find her back giving her a problem after that three set win and err on the side of caution. I get it. If Sharapova sits out Cincinnati as well I'd like to be the second seed at Flushing Meadows too.
Sorry for that long aside Samantha. You played well despite your opponent being injured. In fact no one has seen you play that well in ages. Playing to win not playing scared is a good thing.
via ATP World Tour
Way across the sea Marcel Granollers defeated the King of Kitzbühel Robin Haase of the Netherlands on his way to winning the title there. He faced Juan Monaco in the final.
Washington DC in the summer has all the charm and personality of the swamp it sits on. It's nasty hot and humid. During the Citiopen they love to show images of a cool stream flowing through nearby Rock Creek Park but those in the know aren't fooled.
There are players who seem to thrive there though. One of them is Magdalena Rybarikova. She won the title last year and repeated this year, defeating Andrea Petkovic in the final.
The other player who thrives here is Juan Martin del Potro. He defeated American favorite John Isner in three sets after playing his semi final against Tommy Haas into the wee hours of the morning thanks to a rain delay. Isner finished his match before the rains came and got a good rest but you wouldn't have known it by the way he crumbled from the end of the first set to the end of the third set. Delpo blew Isner off the court rendering his aces a footnote to the match. Delpo's forehands coupled with his movement left Isner rooted in place, unable to react quickly. Then again the way Delpo was hitting the ball his racquet would've been knocked out of his hands. Congratulations Juan on your third Citiopen title.
There is something that I heard one of the ESPN2 comms say that has to be mentioned. They were all gushing on how well Isner is doing of late and one said that he seemed to be doing something different the last few weeks asking out loud if it was better fitness and possibly scouting players that was behind the change. POSSIBLY scouting players? Why would scouting players be a new thing for Isner? What he just walks on court thinking he'll blow them away so there's no need to look at an opponent to see what tactics should be used? If that is how he rolls that's not even arrogance. It's stupidity.
Rogers Cup 2013
The Europeans are on North American soil! Play begins Monday April 5 in Montréal, Quebec and Toronto, Ontario. Both are of course part of the country of Canada and not a part of the United States.
I should like this event but it's always been "meh" for me. Maybe it has to do with the strong arm tactics the USTA and Tennis Canada used to try and strong arm the top players into coming by messing with the European spring clay court calendar or maybe it's the way they've split the venues so that on a good day you'll need your computer, tablet and television to watch matches.
The tournament(s) are a huge part of the US Open series with the distinction of having the top players in the world on their courts. It's going to be interesting to see who makes the trip from Canada to the normally hot and humid Mid West of the United States.
Still it's tennis, in my time zone, no waking up at some obscene hour of the morning and falling asleep in the middle of the first game of the first set. I'll be sitting at home having a leisurely day of it watching what I hope is high quality tennis.
Idle Chit Chat
Remember when Serena caught hell from the tennis media and some fans for skipping out on a tournament while legitimately injured and showing up at a wedding? Remember that? Well guess what? Maria Sharapova begged off Toronto due to injury sustained at Wimbledon. She was supposed to do P.R. work in Toronto as is the norm when you pull out of a major. It helps fulfill your commitment and avoid a fine. Guess where she was this weekend?
Dancing at a wedding. In some kind of get up with the bride's head dress on. Or something.
Meanwhile all I hear are screams of delight from fans because her image will be in Toronto next to the booth featuring her candy. Rolling eyes. Hard. Oh, I didn't see any pictures of her with her fiancé at the wedding.
If you follow Twitter you know Patrick Mouratoglou is quite chatty. He promotes his players and drops in little personal asides from time to time. I'm trying to picture Ivan Lendl on Twitter. I'd better stop doing that or I'll end up like BMO and fry my circuits.
An interesting interview with Li Na's husband Jiang Shan popped up on a fan site:
Author: Chinese women’s tennis, as a whole, is quite strong nowadays, but what about men’s tennis? What’s holding them back?
JS: The knowledge of how to be successful is there. What’s lacking is someone with enough courage and conviction to go ahead and do those things. Starting young, training abroad, taking losses and grinding out wins in tournaments all around the world – it just takes someone committed enough to take that risk and not give up. I think it’s a cultural issue.
Author: What do you mean ‘a cultural issue’?
If a young Chinese player tried to break through internationally for 2 years, without getting the right results, he will come to the conclusion that he does not have the talent, and give up. A young North American in the same situation will instead think that it is because he is not working hard enough. The North American was brought up in a culture which has always taught him that he can do anything if he sets his mind to it. Not so in China. My generation (on the ATP tour, Jiang Shan topped off at #987 in the world back in 2001) was brought up with a “weak country” mindset. Everything was “beat the US,” or “beat England,” but when they showed up, we might as well have called them uncle. We just didn’t think we were good enough to compete. Nowadays, it’s better. China’s GDP has gone up and there’s more belief in us being on the same level as other global powers. I have a feeling that Chinese kids born after 1995 will not have the same negative mentality as we did growing up. After that, success will just be a matter of time.
Author: What about table tennis or badminton? Is there more success for Chinese players in those sports because the mindset is different?
JS: No. The reason why China does so well in those sports is simply because North Americans and Europeans generally don’t care for them. Outside of China, sports are market-driven. If there is no interest, there is no money. If there’s no money, then there will be less high-level players; the best athletes will go to other sports. If Americans or Europeans decided that they want to be a global power in table tennis, they could do it within a few years. Look at Old Wa (Jan-Ove Waldner http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan-Ove_Waldner). He’s been playing at the highest level for 30 years, and beaten all the best Chinese players. But it’s just him. Everyone else in Sweden is playing hockey.
Author: Do you think Li Na winning a Grand Slam title would’ve been possible without the “Fly Alone” strategy (Note: in 2008, Li Na partially broke away from the traditional centralized Chinese tennis program in order to set her own tournament schedule as well as manage her commercial interests and training routines)
JS: You need to take risks and get away from a culture which promotes mediocrity and “just getting by.” The French Open victory would never have happened has we stayed with the Chinese federation. Tennis is an individual sport and you have to do things differently if you want to have an uncommon level of success.
I've been tempted to talk about Chinese tennis but due to lack of familiarity I haven't. Jiang's comments are honest and open, the way he appears to be. I wonder why he wasn't asked if height affects the Chinese men? Nishikori Kei isn't a big guy and he's doing okay but he trained in the States. David Ferrer isn't a giant but it took him years to get where he is today. Until or unless more is known about the Chinese tennis scene Jiang's comments stand as the best analysis to date.