Picket Fence Newsreel: Weekend Warriors, belated.


1. Excuse the total lack of coverage for the Monte Carlo final. In truth, I ran out of things to say about it.

Rafa was dominant, he was dynamic, he was ferocious. He was everything we expected the Clay Monster to be, and if I know my Rafa fans, they’d be avidly reading up on every single media report on the fallout from the tournament – it’s a little something I call “the Monday Problem”. I fell victim to it when Roger won Madrid last year after a title drought too.

Enjoy it guys. The media conglomerate’s a fickle lot.

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2. There was a time when Nando used to be one of my favourite players inside the top 30. In the end, what killed the love was ironically his breakthrough into the top 10.

With breakthrough comes expectations, with expectations – pressure. And we can safely say that there is no better test of character and ambition than pressure.

Hey Nando, I don’t care if you lose to Rafa. In fact, I expect you to. But go down swingin’ dude. Go down with your head held high.

Don’t just look happy to be there.

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3. The picture says it all.

For a long time, Sam Stosur reminded me of … well, a female righty Verdasco.

She always had the talent, the all-court abilities, her fearsome serve-and-forehand combo … but injuries and illness got in the way. Her own shyness, her seeming lack of competitive fire further presented roadblocks.

Better health, coaching changes and some mental guidance from Aussie pro-surfer Layne Beachley seemed to have helped, as she soared up the rankings and made her first slam semi last year.

Still, there were times when Stosur turned inwards. Shot for shot, her abilities are undeniable, but compared to some of the ‘slam contenders’ on the WTA tour (haha), Stosur lacks a certain inherent sense of the court position. To win matches, she depends control, not on improvisation. Take the ability to dictate away from her, force her to improvise or defend and her game unravels very quickly.

I’m not sure if any of that’s changed. What has changed though, is her mentality to accept weakness, to put more effort into her singles career, and to continue doing what she does best – serve, aggression, topspin forehands and sharper slices, netplay. Even with her short comings, she’s a player with a lot going for her.

Apart from a culture of expectations on her shoulders.

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4. The mandatory “injuries update”:

  • Sabine Lisicki out of Fed Cup and Stuttgart, still with her ankle injury
  • Serena is out of Fed Cup, but expected to return to the WTA tour in Rome, having just accepted a wild card there. (Rome is now officially my favourite tournament. EVER.)
  • Nalby simply can’t go for 2 weeks without getting injured. But how long will his persist? And will his persistence pay off?
  • Still MIA: Dina Safina, Del Potro. The former announced on her website that she has “two stress fractures on L5S1 and a rupture on the muscle”. While her recovery has been slow, she’s resumed practice in Croatia.
  • Don’t know what’s the deal with Anna Chakvetadze. Russian tabloids are reporting that she’s ill and injured. Father denies retirement plans.

Last but not least, here’s something new – Rafa withdraws from Barcelona out of prevention.

“If I had lost in Monte Carlo on Wednesday, I would have been [in Barcelona].

“We plan our calendar by matches, not by tournaments. I had a bad year, then I returned to my level and my goal now is to stay healthy. I’m in perfect shape. I feel very good, but I don’t want a repeat of what happened last year. For my tennis to be at the right level, I have to be physically well and that’s my principal objective. I’m being as cautious as possible so that I can play the maximum amount possible. Playing three weeks straight is not the best for me.”

Wow, sometimes you do learn the hard way.

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5. Off-court:

  • Looks like Prince hasn’t got all their eggs in Sharapova’s basket. Vera Zvoom has signed a new racquet deal with the company.
  • Meanwhile, Sorana Cirstea was signed by IMG. She sure is marketable as a player, I’ll give her that. Here’s to hoping they don’t “Vaidisovize” her before she ever makes a mark.
  • Wimbledon prize money rises to 1 million this year for the winner. I’m totally biased, but I sure hope that’s going into Swiss pockets.
  • Nastya Myskina expecting bébé numero 2. Congrats.

Finally – Maria Sharapova turned 23 on the 19th of April. Masha’s a big girl now (not that you would’ve ever used the word “little” to describe her), but remember this?

Here’s to more of that.

xx doots

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6 responses to “Picket Fence Newsreel: Weekend Warriors, belated.”

  1. Jack says :

    Poor Sammy! She’s just won the biggest title of her career and now she’s been jinxed by Simon Reed.

    He’s just wrote that he thinks she is a likely winner for the French Open, just after Kim and Justine.

    If she crashes out first round, we know who to blame!!!

    Plus he said she hits like a man!….Way with words, that guy 😀

  2. jfk says :

    Hey don’t forget Davydenko..he may not play Rome either!
    And Happy Belated to Shazam. We miss you girl, come back soon!

  3. Beata says :

    Also, Polish media are reporting, that Ula Radwanska will be out until July with her prolonged back injury. I think she was jinxed by comparision (with her sister) to next Williams sisters!

  4. Anjali says :

    I just think Samantha Stosur is a perfect follow-up to Mauresmo, and not just because she’s a dyke! I think, like Mauresmo, Stosur does have it in her to win a couple of grand slams if she can wish her nerves away. Now, only if she would just come out of the closet so those of us wanting someone to carry on Navratilova’s legacy can remain hopeful! Go Sammy!

    And all this grandness being attributed to Nadal is too hasty—he had to just pick his ass a few times to win Monte Carlo–no real competition with Nalby, Djoker et al out. Let’s see if he can pull it off with a tougher draw at Rome.

  5. Fernanda says :

    I just visited GTT, and in the comments section I found this link to such a great article, that I simply had to share it! 🙂
    Here it is:

    Rafa poised to reclaim kingdom
    by Pete Bodo

    It was well past midnight in Monaco, but one light burned brightly behind the leaded glass window of Prince von Poopenstein’s chateau high on a cliff overlooking the Monte Carlo Country Club and the dark expanse of the Mediterranean.

    Inside the candlelit room, a number of men were seated around a massive oak table upon, which sit the remnants of a feast and open bottles of red wine, Pernod and Armagnac; others lounged around on sofas behind, which hung ancient tapestries depicting yew trees, minstrels and unicorns. The mood was somber, the silences long.

    The first man to speak was a dark-haired, broad-shouldered youth: “I am filled with dread,” he said in hushed tones. “I fear my arm will again turn to jelly; my breathing difficulties and dizziness will return to plague me. The truth is burned into my mind. We were wrong to consider him finished.”

    The ensuing silence was broken by the one called, simply, Verdasco: “I believe Novak the Dark speaks for all of us. I would not believe this until today. But I saw — I saw what he did to Berrer, the same as de Bakker two days ago. He destroyed him, giving but one game for mere sport — or pity.”

    The men all started at the sound of a fist crashing heavily the table. “Madness! Sheer madness! Berrer and de Bakker. They are not men,” cried Roger, Son of Nike. “They are as mere children compared to you. Have you no faith? Have you no courage?”

    The eyes of the assembled company all fell in shame. Perhaps Roger, Son of Nike, was right — perhaps these men, the best in all the kingdom of Luxilon, had lost their nerve.

    Roger continued: “I did not don the jacket of 16 on the fair lawn of Wimbledon so little time ago to surrender like a craven rabbit. It has been 11 months since the renegade Rafa has proven himself on the field of battle. Eleven months spent in the wilderness, exiled. Are we to allow him to reclaim his ill-gotten kingdom, here on the very red clay where he first slashed and felled some of our finest? Was his banishment in Madrid not sufficient proof that he is unworthy, a savage whose time has come and gone?”

    A restless murmur ran through the room. The breeze whistling through the window caused the candles in the sconces to flicker, revealing frowns of deep concern on the faces of the men.

    “Valiant you were that day in Madrid,” the one they called Nalbandian observed, reaching for another leg of lamb. “And well you deserve the 16 jacket, and the man purse, too. But that was then — and this is now. I fear that the knees of the renegade Rafa are strong and he is up to his old tricks. He lies in wait for us, as the wolf lies in wait for the lamb.”

    The look shot his way by Son of Nike sent a chill right through Nalbandian and penetrated to his very soul. “You cur,” Roger snarled. “Have you no pride? Have you no sense of honor? Sooner die than yield to this Rafa once again, I say.”

    “Easy for you to say,” Kohlschreiber of the Rhine remarked under his breath, his eyes fixed on the cream-colored 16 jacket lying on the back of Roger’s chair.

    Nalbandian methodically licked the grease off his fingers and threw the bone over his shoulder. “Son of Nike, have you forgotten the year 2009, or the ones before, the years of Rafa at Roland Garros? Why do you speak of him with such contempt?”

    They were interrupted by the sound of a child, wailing.

    “Mirka! Shut that child up,” cried Roger, Son of Nike, sweeping an arm across the table, sending bottles crashing to the floor. “I’ll have no more of this talk!”

    “Have it your way,” said Ferrer the Small. “But if I were you — if I were any of you, I would be afraid. Very afraid.”

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