Sunday, July 5, 2015

Taking A Deep Breath, and a Break: Middle Sunday

by Savannah

So lets see. We had a player call one of the best chair umpires in the business "dirty scum".
The spoiled brat of Australian tennis once again bit the hand that's been feeding him for a very long time (remember the story Marius Copil told about Tomic having an American Express black card and that he'd run up over a million dollars on it at the age of 17? The link is in Romanian I believe but most translation services can handle that problem for you).
The RFET in Spain is in complete meltdown mode with the head of the organization under investigation for financial shenanigans and the attempt to shame it's top players gone up in flames. (via @Genny_SS on Twitter it seems Conchita Martinez might step in temporarily. Yesterday it was a lock that either Juan Carlos Ferrero or Albert Berasetegui would be named to the position) so keep your popcorn handy on both these situations.

Oh you want to know about Wimbledon? The biggest news so far is that defending champion Petra Kvitova, who showed up at SW19 with little to no match prep and out of shape lost to one time world #1 with an asterisk Jelena Jankovic, fading so badly in the third set it was a wonder she could get the ball over the net. Serena Williams, who won a tough battle with Heather Watson, is the only current player, well maybe Sharapova too, who has the luxury of coming in cold to a major. Petra is not Serena. Petra is not Maria.

Simona Halep also found her way to an early exit. With her requirement that her coaching staff be Romanian born and bred she seems to be hampering her own career. To be the best you have to hire the best. That goes for Kvitova too. Since Petra declared that getting physically fit was too much work and that she was aiming to play well only at Slams I wonder what her coaching staff does other than pose for pictures with her in restaurants seated at tables loaded with beer and food? Her own fans think she needs a better coach. Sadly, like Halep, I think she wants things exactly the way they are. Maybe this loss will be a wake up call for her. Somehow I don't think it will be.

While we're talking the WTA lets talk about the draw as play gets set to resume on "Manic Monday".

A fan calling himself "Julian" posted the following on the main WTA fan site:

Wimbledon 2015 2nd Week (Round of 16)

Top Half showing number of Slams each player has won:

Serena Williams (20 slams) (5 Wimbledon)
Venus Williams (7 slams) (5 Wimbledon)
Maria Sharapova (5 slams) (1 Wimbledon)
Victoria Azarenka (2 slams) (0 Wimbledon)

The Draw - Top Half

(1)Serena Williams vs (16)Venus Williams
(23)Victoria Azarenka vs (30)Belinda Bencic
(4)Maria Sharapova vs Zarina Diyas
Coco Vandeweghe vs (6)Lucie Safarova

The Draw - Bottom Half

(5)Caroline Wozniacki vs (20)Garbine Muguruza
(15)Timea Bacsinszky vs Monica Niculescu
(Q)Olga Govortsova vs (21)Madison Keys
(13)Agnieszka Radwanska vs (28)Jelena Jankovic

I don't even want to hear about that "depth" thing and the WTA. This does nothing but show the weakness hidden in the women's tour. There are two players who, like them or not, have become the superstars of the WTA and play accordingly. Yeah I know Wozniacki will be back in the top three (smh).

Ignoring the top half for a minute Wozniacki, so dependent on on court coaching, is not a lock to come out of her part of the draw despite being the highest seed left. I've never seen Govortsova play but reports of her lumbering around the court abound and could make life easy for Madison Keys who wouldn't have to face a seed until the next round. With her US style of play if Govortsova is really that poor a mover Keys will romp. Aga vs JJ is a toss up. Will JJ be able to bring it two matches in a row? No one expected her to beat Kvitova but as I said in my May 11 post discussing weight/health and the WTA Kvitova was shaky. Hell right now Serena is shaky. But she gets an edge because of who she is and what she brings to the table. Caro vs Garbiñe is a toss up as well in my opinion but back to the bottome half. Watch Bacsinszky. Niculescu can give you fits if she's on but Timea is playing with no pressure, an always dangerous situation.

As for the top half with it's multiple Grand Slam winners the match I most want to see is Azarenka vs Bencic. Both are emotional players. Both have a win at all costs attitude. Both have a lot they want to prove. Pova vs Diyas should be a rout for Pova. I've yet to see Diyas play the "amazing" tennis she's said to be able to play. As for Vandeweghe, one of four US women in the round of 16 (as opposed to one US man and not the one you think) makes her current coach look like a genius. Lucie "I'm not that nice" Safarova, showed in the last round that she can fight back. That whould be an itneresting match but not a stand in line to get one and not because of Lucie. I'll leave it at that.

I don't like Venus vs Serena matches and don't like that the good folks at Wimbledon conspirted to force this match.
If Venus manages to win I think that opens thngs up for Sharapova. Which of course is the plan. If Serena makes the final she will win the tournament. And that is not a narrative the WTA wants right now. Me? I'd love for Serena to get the Career Year Grand Slam and shut the biddies up.

I should mention a Chinese woman, Duan Ying-Ying, did well making it to the third round. The play of the Chinese women is still at ITF level but let's hope they play more events outside of Asia to improve their skills.

On the men's side there isn't much to say. The men at the top and bottom of the draw got romps to the second week. It's hard for even hard core fans of Roger Federer to say he had a tough draw when no one he played has done well at a major. You can say the same thing about the ATP #1's draw. A romp.
In fact the top half of the ATP draw is like the bottom half of the WTA draw with the difference being the #1 player got this cake walk.

That said I think the seeds will hold for the ATP. Unless they don't. I mean look what happened at RG. They'd practically engraved the presumed winner's name on the trophy when, well, as far as they're concerned shit happened.

I hope everyone has enjoyed their day off. It should be an interesting week of tennis.


Karen Williams said...

I have to disagree with you about the WTA not wanting Serena to win. They could not create this narrative if they tried. The focus right now on the women's game is absolutely amazing. You know what gets me, its the fact that all of a sudden so many tennis writers, including bloggers are paying so much attention to the women. While I welcome everyone to the WTA table, I find that people are spewing the same nonsense over and over because they don't watch a lot of WTA matches and they don't pay attention to the rank and file players. Many of us who watch the women's game knew that Diyas would give Pova trouble. Would she win, of course not, but she had a chance. Same thing for Coco, Keys and many others who got to this stage of the tournament.

As regards the draw, as I have said elsewhere, I wish they could do a reshuffle of the draw when it gets to the round of 16 just to take account of all the upsets that no doubt will happen in the early stages of a Slam.

Savannah said...

I think there is so much focus on the WTA now because some of the top players are so unlikeable. There are highly paid PR agencies trying to change the fans minds about the current #1 as well as trying to change the image of another one from being a wife and child leaving sack of manure. It's telling that the top four male seeds were playing today and none of them ended up making the trending list on Twitter. There have been Tweets about the effect of an unpopular #1 on the ATP

The WTA doesn't have those issues. It's not that the quality of tennis is better in the WTA. You have a strong, popular #1 player and she is carrying the tour on her back. You also have very strong nationalistic backing for the women from Eastern Europe on the tour so even if some are antagonistic to the #1 there are enough people who support her to make up for whatever dislike there is.

Colleen Vandeweghe is not a very nice person. People who have seen her play live come away with a bad taste in their mouths because of her sense of enttilement and basic all around nastiness. She's not much different than Kyrgios but has had less attention because she hasn't done much on the tour. It's going to be interesting to see how she handles the press scrutiny and how they handle her.

Woz breakup with Rory, and the ugliness of it, got her a lot of sympathy. Most of the male press corps still dreams of Ana, and Muguruza is an attractive woman. Halep may be shooting herself in the foot but she does have a vocal fan base.

The problem with the WTA is that instead of building upon it's fan base in Europe and the US it's trying to sell everyone on China thus mamking it almost impossible to see WTA matches.

I take exception with Diyas though. I've yet to see her play a decent match. :)

Fred66 said...

I don't mean to nit-pick Savannah, but Federer did not play Kohlschreiber at Wimbledon, they played in the first round in Halle. Djokovic played Kohlschreiber in the 1rst round at W'don.
And speaking of easy draws, unless they get Karlovic in the first round ALL draws are easy for the Big Three at Grand Slams. They are just too strong for the rest of the field. And even so they can slip up. Did you or anyone expect Federer to lose to Seppi in the 3rd round at the Australian Open? I'm leaving Nadal's troubles out off this discussion for the time being.
I'm not so sure Djokovic is unpopular with tennis fans. He's respected and liked enough, but he doesn't inspire the kind of devotion and admiration Federer and Nadal did and still do, because his game is just not that appealing. I'm not really a Djokovic fan, but come on, let's give the guy a break, Savannah. He had VERY big shoes to fill, coming up after Federer and Nadal, and he's doing his best.

Savannah said...

Thanks for correcting my details.

I stick by my point though. The top and bottom of the Men's Draw were soft, very soft. The draw was set up to have the seeds in the middle part of the draw knock each other off. Still the way the draw broke Murray's highest seed before the semi final was Dr Ivo then ranked #27.

Writing now after the men's final Murray played a tactically ridiculous semi and we end up with the two top seeds facing each other.

Djokovic chose to use gamesmanship against his opponents and as I've often said tennis fans have very long memories. He's paying the price now.