A different world.

It’s occurred to me that I’ve just taken my longest break from tennis in 3 years. I left amidst the Wimbledon hype, with Roger Federer given the top seed and barely No 2 by a few hundred points, with Serena Williams performing her usual disappearing act between Roland Garros and Wimbledon, oddly under the radar while filling the role of the defending champion for the first time in almost 6 years.

I returned. To a country in the midst of an election campaign, a prime minister I’m not used to seeing as prime minister. A world where ranking orders are reshuffled, and those with – ahem – no slams but busy schedules sit pretty at No 2.

A world in which Justine Henin’s in doubt for the US Open, as is Serena Williams, triumphant, reigning supreme, yet hobbled and dressed as if she was auditioning for the 4th season of Gossip Girl.

A world that hits me with the headline “Fish may have surpassed Roddick as America’s best tennis player” (clickey). Miami was 4 months and a lifetime ago. So, Andy? What have you done for me lately?

A world that puts forward Farty Dish and Anna Chak as weekend winners (what is this? 2006?).

A world where Marion was booted out of Masterchef over the consistency of her Satay sauce and Roger Federer is described in the media as “ailing”, rotting away at a “mere” No 3 in the world. I can’t quite decide which one is more of a travesty. Probably the satay sauce.

By the way, in this brave new world, Roger Federer has a “coach” and Andy Murray doesn’t, and no one is quite sure whether Juan Martin del Potro actually exists or was he merely a figure of our collective imagination. A magical realism, of sorts.

And yes, I’m still waiting for the part where it all makes sense.

Here’s what does make sense.

  1. Hobbled she may be, Serena Williams was spotted in LA with Christina Milan, walking without crutches.
  2. Over in Stanford, Ana Ivanovic has stooped to the point of needing wild cards to enter tournaments, but she showed she’s capable of winning matches, snapping a 7 tournament losing streak to take out Kleybs in straight sets. Post-match, Miss Muffin expressed a desire to bulk up, Serena-styled. Riiiiiightbecause clearly her problems were physical.
  3. While Ivanovic at last scored a much needed win, Dinara Safina fared less fortunately, bowing out to Kimiko in 3 sets. This time last year, she was No 1 in the world and rocking the Slovenia Open. But that is yet another world away. This plunge into tennis oblivion is all too Marat-like.
  4. Better news for the WTA Gen-Y: Maria Sharapova defeated Zheng Jie (No 23) in a dominant 64 75 win, marking her first top 40 victory since Beijing 2009. With 2 fourth round losses to Henin and Serena at the last 2 slams, things are looking up for Masha. Even if you wouldn’t know it on paper.

And what of the rest of the US Open series? With the exception of 2009 when Elena Dementieva and Sam Querrey took home the money, the USOS has always been a good indicator of US Open performance. Will Sharapova stay en-slammed in even numbered years and bring home the last major of the season? Will Ana Ivanovic win more than 2 matches in a row once in a while? Is Dinara Safina headed down the same meteoric path of her brother Marat? Will Justine Henin get her supposed comeback fairy tale back on track in New York? And where the hell is Kim Clijsters?

Stay tuned, ’cause the post-Wimbledon slumberers are slowly awaking.

xx doots

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9 responses to “A different world.”

  1. TennisAce says :

    Fantastic write up Doots. You know what amazes me about the Federer Death March? It is the fact that he is ranked No. 3 and considered on the way out. When Murray and Djokovic held that ranking it was a signal that they were threats. Now that Federer has it, he is on his way out the door. Who knew.

    If Ivanovic thinks that getting fit and staying fit will aid her, more power to her. Similar to Safina thinking that if she can have her fellow players cowering in fear when they see her across the net that will help to show them just how she is. Then she needs to stop drinking whatever it is she has been drinking. She had 3 chances to win a major. 3 chances to show us what she is truly made of. And she did. Next.

    Media Narrative: Sharapova reaches the 4th round of the French Open and Wimbledon and loses. Sharapova beat Jheng Jie, a player ranked inside the top 20 making it her first top 20 win for the season. Sharapova has set points against Serena at Wimbledon. The narrative that is being written, Sharapova is back. She is a contender. She will win the US Open.

    Media Narrative: Venus reaches the quarters of the AO, the 4th round of the French, the quarters of Wimbledon. Routinely beats top 10 players and even top 5 ones. Venus should retire. What is Venus thinking. Venus will not win another major. Venus is done.

    Yeah, we all know the media loves and appreciates Sharapova but it would be nice if we could get some perspective here.

    The same thing goes for the whole Roddick/Fish debate. Is the media really of the view that Mardy Fish can be a contender at the Open just because his wife was tired of him walking around looking like a slob? Give me a break already. That was the same thing that was said about Roddick when he went and lost 30 pds of excess hamburger helper. The fellow has even gone and shaved his head. I think the media needs to give these guys and gals a break already.

    And can Matt Cronin please stop masquerading as a journalist and just let us know that he is on Sharapova’s PR team. Jeebers

    • dootsiez says :

      Hehehe TennisAce, I *do* think Maria Sharapova is on her way back. It’s not down to whatever round she reached and whoever she beat, it’s down to her tidying up her game significantly in these past few tournaments. Good things to come, I’m sure.

      As for Venus, she’s in the top 10, and you’ve just listed her good results this year. Needless to say, I’ve *always* considered the talk over her supposed retirement complete nonsense. She’s more engaged in tennis these days than she was 2 years ago. Also higher ranked, with room to go even higher, me thinks. She’ll be fine. I am crossing my fingers for another slam though. 8 is such a pretty number 🙂

      • TennisAce says :

        Doots as an ardent Venus fan the one title that I would really like her to win before she hangs it up is actually the French Open. There is just something about her game that I think translates well to the clay and it is so unfortunate that this year I felt was her best chance to actually win it. She had very good preparation coming in and was playing patient aggressive tennis. That match against Petrova was one of the worst matches I have ever seen Venus play. The fact that she indicated that the weather had a lot to do with it, as well as Petrova playing the match of her life, only to fall in the next round (big surprise there) just cements in my mind that this year would have perhaps been Venus’ year, but I can continue to hope.

        I agree that Sharapova’s game seems to be back on track but frankly speaking I have seen this before. Earlier this year in Memphis when she won that title the papers were all aflutter that she was back seeing as she was hardly losing points on her serve. Then came IW and Jie and it was back to square one with the double faults. In last night’s match, if she was facing a player with a bigger game than Jie’s she would have lost. She double faulted on match point, got broken and then had to break back again.

        It would seem as if the shoulder cannot stand up to constant pressure. Sharapova has to win matches quickly in order for her shoulder to stand up. I wish her all the best because when she is on her game is a joy to watch. I just do not like the hype that persists around her to the detriment of others.

        • Jack says :

          I’m a big Maria fan so I may be biasd towards her but I think its a bit harsh to say she would have lost to a big hitter yesterday. I mean, Zheng is no pushover plus one double fault on match point is no indicative of the entire match. Also, its a bit hard to make judgements on someone when there is no livestreams available.

          As for the hype, I don’t really listen to it, or like it, regardless of whether its for my favourite players. I just think the more they hype someone, the more they are setting them up for a fall….thats why I prefer it if Maria flys under the radar a bit.

          I do agree with you about the shoulder though. I think its always going to be an issue for the rest of her career. I just hope its never going to be a serious problem again as it never fun to see your favourtie player out so long with injury.

          And Matt C does love Maria!! Shame he talks crap most of the time!! 😀

        • Jack says :

          I’ve always been a fan of Venus….she was the reason I really followed tennis in the first place. I mean, my earliest memory of anything tennis related is Venus at Wimbledon with the beads in her hair 😀

          I hope she wins another Slam but I’m not so sure. It just that her losses this year in Slams have been on her hands. I always believe she’ll be a contender at Wimbledon regardless.I’m actually suprised she’s never won the AO before.

          And I actually think her loss to Pironkova at Wimby was one of the worst matches she’s played.

  2. Thoreau says :

    Looking forward to see your article for a long long time.
    Nice to see you back.

  3. pban says :

    the world has stopped making sense after wimby,not because Feddy lost but because of the viciousness with which tennis media attacked him….somehow whatever they write now just doesn’t matter anymore.As for the world order, Rafa was 4 after AO but we all knew better,sometimes all it takes is a good old fashioned kick in the butt.Hope it works for Feddy….I can deliver it personally if it will help.Hiring Annacone is an admission that he realizes something is wrong,for our beloved arrogant potato nose that in itself is huge….so i really hope it works out between the 2 of them.

  4. Jack says :

    Doots, I heard that Justine Henin is out of the US Open because of the elbow injury she got during her match with Kim at Wimby.

  5. jfK says :

    So happy Maria won! 😀
    I hope she can win the US Open too. Please don’t call me delusional.

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