Monday, February 3, 2014

Catching Our Collective Breath

by Savannah

Stan Wawrinka 2014 AO Champion Aaron Favila/AP photo 8d71c4a3-cdb2-4981-84a1-c26e346329f1_zpse335d859.jpg
Aaron Favila AP

I've been a lazy woman. Well, not exactly. I was a little under the weather and then, well, needed a minute to get over what happened at the Australian Open. It wasn't the result as much as it was the so called "fan" reaction to it.
There are issues with an internet that is open to all regardless of maturity or state of haterdom if that's a word. Some are so blinded by hate of a particular player that they're unwilling to see what's in front of their eyes. Instead, through their blinders they project their insecurities and ethnic or racial biases onto a player, a man or woman they don't know personally. The player is vilified for breathing by some of these people.

And let's be clear these ethnic and/or racial biases are found in players too. Sometimes it's amazing to read comments by players implying that since they can't beat Player A they must be doping or cheating in some way.

Li Na 2014 Aus Open Champion AFP photo 133456d2-9c21-40fe-acc9-f1c77ed69ac9_zps3170210b.jpg

It's a nasty fact of tennis that is really pretty out in the open but rarely ever commented on by those media giants of the tennis world. It goes without saying that commentators often betray their biases and make viewers who enjoy the sport and root for players based on ability angry enough to turn the sound off when their viewing options are limited but when Federations betray their bias it's really disheartening.

But enough of that. My mother always said "empty barrels make the most noise" and nothing in my life experience has proven that statement wrong.

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Xinhua/Li Jundong

This past week there were two women's events, one in Thailand and the other indoors in Paris. Having just finished getting my sleep pattern back to normal I didn't even try to see any of the Pattaya City tournament.

kubot lindstedt aus open 2014 champs photo ea0e48d0-c639-4576-8102-9a89a1c00cf9_zps77838ba5.jpg

That is going to be a problem for Stacey Allaster's Asian focus but I don't think she cares about little things like that. I guess viewers will come from the Asian continent.

I did watch the GDF Suez event despite the time difference. I would wake up early, put on TennisTV and yes, I would fall asleep again. I did see the semifinals and finals though since they started a bit later in the morning for me.

Mladenovic Nestor Mixed Dbles Champs 2014 aus open Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty photo 6aae5756-638f-4ade-9ab3-0aca7c70214a_zpsa2796ca8.jpg
Saeed Khan AFP/Getty

Alizé Cornet fought hard but in the end back to back three set matches did her in. Her match against Andrea Petkovic was, lets call it interesting. If you love on court drama and histrionics that was the match for you. I have to say Petko's meltdown and tirade against chair umpire Mariana Alves was justified. She's a horror and has always been but she's a Gold Badge. If you don't believe it Wiki is your friend. I'm sure Petko will be fined for throwing her racquet (not smashing it) and tearing at her clothes while raging but a Gold Badge chair umpire should be invisible. Alves never is.

Alexander Zverev 2014 Aus Open Jr Boy Champ Quinn Rooney/Getty photo 18bb93ff-2dfe-4773-8477-3beb90efc2bb_zps2b3d70ec.jpg
Quinn Rooney Getty

Of course the big news out of that tournament is that the top seed, Maria Sharapova, was defeated by fellow Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who went on to win the event. While not denying Pavs will and determination she is not the best advertisement for women's tennis. Ranked #21 she is visibly unfit and no one would say she scampers around the court like a gazelle. That she's more fit that she was last year isn't saying much. Right now she reminds me of Lindsay Davenport before she got fit.

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Pavs also has issues of focus and concentration that need to be addressed. If she is willing to work at getting more fit she could easily push her way into the top ten. Slimness is not guarantor of ease of movement on the court but the focus and determination it takes to improve your fitness could lead to better focus and concentration on the court.

Speaking of WTA rankings a fan calling themselves "shevedbarilescu" made the following point about the top sixteen WTA players.
The top 16 is currently represented by 14 Europeans, 1 American and 1 Chinese. Of those the American and the Chinese are the only active players to have won a Grand Slam title in the last 12 months. Coincidentally Serena and Na are also the two oldest players in the top 16. Worrying times for Stacey.

I had never looked at the top sixteen that way. Let's look at the women ranked 1-10.

3 LI, NA CHINA 6570

Serena Williams won two Slams last year. Victoria Azarenka won one. Li Na won the French in 2011 so technically the fan is wrong but I assume they're including the Australian Open from this year. I started this post last week but there was no movement in the top ten rankings.

Let's look at the ATP Top Ten.

1 Nadal, Rafael (ESP) 14,330
2 Djokovic, Novak (SRB) 10,620
3 Wawrinka, Stanislas (SUI) 5,710
4 Del Potro, Juan Martin (ARG) 5,370
5 Ferrer, David (ESP) 5,280
6 Murray, Andy (GBR) 4,720
7 Berdych, Tomas (CZE) 4,540
8 Federer, Roger (SUI) 4,355
9 Gasquet, Richard (FRA) 3,050
10 Tsonga, Jo-Wilfried (FRA) 2,885

Keeping to the criteria I set, highlighting the players who won a Slam last year there are three men in the top ten who won a Slam with one man winning two. Including the Australian Open for this year Stan Wawrinka is highlighted.

Will Aga Radwanska ever win a Slam? Things would have to really break her way for that to happen in my opinion.

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Chris Hyde Getty Images Asia/Pac

In fact all of the women in the top ten outside of the top two will have problems winning a Slam. If Serena Williams does play Indian Wells this year she will have a lot to prove to the tournament and the fans who will welcome her as a conquering heroine as well as to herself. It can't be an easy situation for her after so long but if she was inspired by "Mandela" then she may be able to overcome the hoopla. We'll see.

I'm sure some feel I'm slighting Li Na but once Serena and Victoria Azarenka were out she was the logical choice to win the event. She'll also need the right chair umpires to avoid paying hefty fines for coaching won't she?

 photo AnhelinaKalinina2014AustralianOpenJunior7d9qEpwIyq-l_zpsd3544db9.jpg
Matt King Getty Images AsiaPac

Davis Cup

The big winners on court this weekend were Great Britain and Japan. The Czech Republic won their tie 3-2 against The Netherlands and will play Japan who defeated Canada 4-1. Canada was missing it's big threats Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil to injury didn't stand a chance to be honest. Japan will be up against the Czechs next round and with Nishikori Kei their strongest player I'm not sure if they'll prevail. This far ahead of the next tie it's hard to make positive statements because anything can happen between now and then.

Great Britain will face Italy next round and with it's leader Andy Murray having to be taken off court Sunday in a golf cart Britain has more immediate worries than the next Davis Cup tie. Indian Wells and Miami are coming up not to mention the French Open and it's run up tournaments. I wonder if Murray will pass up the French again?

As for the United States its gamble that clay would neutralize Murray (quick name someone else on the British DC team) backfired. We don't have anyone who can challenge an ATP top ten right now and on our worse surface we didn't stand a chance. There are some junior boys with a bit of hype around them but they're a good three to four years away mentally and physically.

As for the top ten men David Ferrer and Juan Martin del Potro are on the bubble. Both need good South American clay court swings and United States spring hard court swings to stay in the top ten.

Ekaterina Makarova 2014 Pattaya City Champion photo 0f753b2c-d5f2-4892-98d9-510c3ac13daf_zps36064836.jpg

Ekaterina Makarova was the winner in Pattaya City.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova GDF Suez 2014 Kenzo Tribouillard. AFP photo 7a4acd17-fa0f-4b32-bd0c-8ee84cb5cc17_zps22d19095.jpg
Kenzo Tribouillard AFP

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova triumphant in Paris.

Fed Cup

The US Fed Cup team will be led by Madison Keys. Her teammates are Alison Riske, Christina McHale and Lauren Davis.

We'll be facing an Italian team minus Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci. Karin Knapp will lead the Italians. Her teammates are Camila Giorgi, Nastassja Burnett, and Alice Matteucci.

I think we stand a chance on a hard court. Go Team!


vw said...

Murray having to be taken off court Sunday in a golf cart Britain has more immediate worries than the next Davis Cup tie.

Is he OK? I didnt read about this.

Savannah said...

Found it. He's the only one who reported it.

Mike Dickson ‏@Mike_Dickson_DM Feb 2
A very stiff and sore Andy Murray driven away on a golf cart from on court celebrations. A hard earned massage beckons.