Sunday, August 3, 2014

Shenanigans Tennis Style

by Savannah

All eyes are on that huge country that spans the northern border of the United States. Canada, home of Stacey Allaster, CEO of the WTA, hosts the Rogers Cup every August. It marks the real beginning of the run up to the US Open because the European players come across the pond to begin their preparations for the final Slam of the year. It's still bizarre to me that the tournament is split between Toronto and Montréal and that the WTA and ATP switch cities every year but somehow it works. If you're a tennis fan you have to get used to weird things otherwise you'll end up confused and maybe lose interest in the sport.

When it comes to tennis many fans turn to the rulebooks for guidance. That doesn't always work though because in tennis some tournaments are more important than others. Look at what happened in Nan Chang, one of the $125k tournaments the WTA invented that take place mostly but not always in Asia. Player's like Peng Shuai and Zheng Jie are supposedly ineligible for this kind of event but the rule was waved to allow their participation in this specific tournament. And don't forget how Angelique Kerber was allowed to play an event she technically shouldn't have to make sure she had enough points to make the YEC last year. Apparently when it comes to desired results the rules don't apply.

But back to the Rogers Cup. I usually only post the draws for the Slams but I was struck by the type of comments surrounding both draws.

Let's start with the ATP Draw.

[1] SRB Djokovic, Novak/BYE
CZE Stepanek, Radek vs FRA Monfils, Gael
FRA Chardy, Jeremy vs ARG Delbonis, Federico
[13] FRA Tsonga, Jo-Wilfried vs FRA Roger-Vasselin, Edouard

[12] FRA Gasquet, Richard vs CAN Pospisil, Vasek
COL Giraldo, Santiago vs. WC AUS Kyrgios, Nick
[8] GBR Murray, Andy/BYE

[3] SUI Wawrinka, Stan/BYE
COL Falla, Alejandro vs QUALIFIER
RSA Anderson, Kevin vs QUALIFIER
[16] ITA Fognini, Fabio vs RUS Youzhny, Mikhail

Robredo, Tommy vs GER Kohlschreiber, Philipp
FRA Simon, Gilles vs AUT Thiem, Dominic
WC CAN Dancevic, Frank vs QUALIFIER
[7] BUL Dimitrov, Grigor/BYE

[6] CAN Raonic, Milos/BYE
WC USA Sock, Jack vs AUT Melzer, Jurgen
AUS Hewitt, Lleyton vs FRA Benneteau, Julien
[11] LAT Gulbis, Ernests vs POR Sousa, Joao

[14] ESP Bautista Agut, Roberto vs. ESP Lopez, Feliciano
ESP Robredo, Tommy vs QUALIFIER
TPE Lu, Yen-Hsun vs ESP Granollers, Marcel
[4] Berdych, Tomas/BYE

[5] Ferrer, David/BYE
FRA Mahut, Nicolas vs QUALIFIER
ITA Seppi, Andreas vs QUALIFIER
[10] USA Isner, John vs. CRO Dodig, Ivan

[15] CRO Cilic, Marin vs. UZB Istomin, Denis
ESP Garcia-Lopez, Guillermo vs QUALIFIER
WC CAN Polansky, Peter vs POL Janowicz, Jerzy
[2] SUI Federer, Roger/BYE

I took a second look when I started reading comments on Twitter by his fans that Roger Federer should be very happy with his draw. So I took a second look at the H2H between Federer and Marin Cilic. What do you think I found? Right. Cilic is 0 and 4 against Federer. Tomas Berdych? Federer dominates the H2H 12 to 6. At least there is the potential for Berdych to win right? David Ferrer? HA! Federer is 14 and 0 vs David. John Isner has won once. Forget Milos Raonic. He's 0 and 5. The only one with an even head to head is Ernests Gulbis at 2 all and we know Ernests can be very very good or simply awful in a match depending on what alternate universe he's in when the match starts. So unless something drastic happens Federer has a clear route to the Final. Of course it's just the randomness of the draw right? Rafael Nadal would've been the second seed. I wonder if he'd have been given such a cakewalk? That never happens to him though.

Then there is the WTA Draw. Li Na withdrew from everything and won't play until Wuhan. As a side note if you think I'm avoiding the whole discussion about the WTA in China specifically and Asia in general I am. No matter what you say the word "racism" becomes a valid part of the discussion. I've done several drafts and ended up not posting them because I sounded like a tea bagger and that's pretty hard for me to do.

So back to the WTA draw.

RISKE, Alison USA vs RYBARIKOVA, Magdalena SVK
CIRSTEA, Sorana ROU vs [15] SAFAROVA, Lucie CZE

[11] WOZNIACKI, Caroline DEN vs HANTUCHOVA, Daniela SVK

MUGURUZA, Garbiñe ESP vs Qualifier
Qualifier vs NARA, Kurumi JPN

[12] PENNETTA, Flavia ITA vs Qualifier
GARCIA, Caroline FRA vs Qualifier
BYE/[6] KERBER, Angelique GER

[8] AZARENKA, Victoria BLR/BYE
WC ABANDA, Francoise CAN vs [10] CIBULKOVA, Dominika SVK

[13] ERRANI, Sara ITA vs LISICKI, Sabine GER
KUZNETSOVA, Svetlana RUS vs KEYS, Madison USA
BYE/[3] RADWANSKA, Agnieszka POL

WC WOZNIAK, Aleksandra CAN vs STEPHENS, Sloane USA

[16] PETKOVIC, Andrea GER vs GIORGI, Camila ITA
MAKAROVA, Ekaterina RUS vs OPRANDI, Romina SUI

WTA darling Eugenie Bouchard has Caroline Wozniacki in her section. The two have never faced each other so if they face each other they both have something to fight for. Meanwhile Maria Sharapova will potentially face Carla Suárez Navarro.
Victoria Azarenka is safely in the bottom half of the draw and should face Dominika Cibulkova to get out of her section. The potential of the two Serbian women facing each other will probably excite some fans. That's all I got re the ladies. The top half is a bit more competitive and some have said either Sharapova or Bouchard will make the semi final from that half. I'm just reporting what I read folks. I don't do predictions.

The Viktor Troicki Mess

After being shoe horned into Gstaad last week Troicki was back where he should have started, playing a Challenger event. Troicki himself was talking about how the ITF tried to destroy his career with the ban. Many of his fans feel the same way and one of them penned a blog post laying out what she feels is the most pertinent part of the case - Troicki's alleged needle phobia. You can read the entire post HERE . The only question I have is if he is phobic - I have my own so I get it - why was he not going to be afraid the next day? How would he know he was not going to pass out the next day when he did take the test? I get it, his fans feel strongly about what happened, but in the end he was responsible for what happened to him and blaming the person who was trying to do her job is disingenuous at best.

Plagiarism by Any Other Name is Plagiarism

Maybe it's the pompous accents. Maybe it the pompous ego's that go with the accents. Whatever it is the British always act "shocked and appalled" when one of their own is caught red handed doing something he or she shouldn't have been doing. That was the general reaction from British "journalists" to the news that Neil Harman, President of the International Tennis Writers Association or ITWA, was exposed as being a man who it seems had never read a fellow journalists work he didn't want to copy. Mind you the good men and women of the AELTC knew about the charges in January. Not June, January, and did nothing. He remained the lead tennis writer for the Times of London, and his books on Wimbledon were still being sold. I don't know what happened but I'm guessing one of the plagiarised writers had had enough and threw a shit fit. Harman resigned from the ITWA but posted supporting Tweets until someone must have said resigning and still defending himself was a bit unseemly and he closed his Twitter account. Will those plagiarised sue for royalties? What will happen to the books themselves? Will someone else be hired to write the books who didn't steal other people's work? Who knows? Wimbledon itself has been busy posting about resodding the courts and things like that. To my knowledge they haven't said a thing.

This however was posted today by a man named Norman Gillers in defense of Neil Harman. He's writing as a member of the Sports Journalist Association in Great Britain.

AS THE TIMES continues to consider the future of suspended tennis correspondent Neil Harman, my thoughts and sympathies are with a sportswriter I’ve always admired and respected in the 30-plus years I’ve followed his career.

Neil agrees he was guilty of extreme stupidity in lifting great lumps of tennis match reports from the works of other writers to pad out his Wimbledon annuals. It was at best lazy and, at worst, a theft of sorts.
But those of us who know Neil well will confirm that it’s completely out of character for him to sink to such depths. He clearly lost judgement when chasing tight deadlines. I cannot believe that anybody who has worked with Neil wants him kicked off the tennis circuit for his moments of madness. Let he who is without sin serve the first ball.
The young American journalist who has gone into depth with his research revealing the unpardonable plagiarism seems to think he is in the Woodward and Bernstein class as an investigative reporter.

He has made his point and should now get on with trying to build a career half as successful as that enjoyed by Neil Harman.

It’s been a hard day’s night. New balls please.

Poor Neil. He was just pressed and did what anyone would do, copy from others without attribution. If I can take the time to source quotes and sources of pictures I'd think a professional would do the same. He was getting paid.

The Best WTA Matches of 2014 photo bdafea30-3a66-4bcd-95ab-97702e87fe64_zps1809ae47.jpg

So Venus Williams played Victoria Azarenka the other night. It was always going to be a tight match since both women had a lot to prove. What I didn't expect was a match featuring strategy, out of this world shot making, and all court play, things you usually don't talk about when it comes to the WTA. Those in attendance were on the edge of their seats. Those of us at home were on the edge of our seats. I've been a bit rough on Victoria Azarenka in this space but it was a joy to watch her play against Venus who was channeling her self from years past.
If you get a chance to watch it do so. You will love it.

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