Saturday Six.


1. How do you solve a problem like Maria?

Okay. I geddit. It’s the W-friggin-TA. If I freaked out every time a top seed got booted out of a tournament by a nobody, life would be like a neverending reenactment of the Ring.

But you just could not have watched Maria Sharapova lose to Greta Arn mid-week and not fumbled for an asthma inhaler. All credit to Greta Arn, who survived a match point in the second round before booting 4 seeded opponents in a row and winning the biggest tournament of her career: her run this week has been a display of tenacity and inspiration. Even my cold, bleak, calcified heart softened a little at the sight of her kneeling in victory after the biggest win of her career today.

GretaArn

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But even if we were to take this “giving the giant-slayer their due” thing to the utmost limit, we cannot deny the worrying signs here for Sharapova, in straight sets to a 31 year old journey-woman more than 7 years her senior, with a career high ranking of 81.

This is her third defeat to a player outside the top 50 … in a row.

The Cow On Ice may not be the smoothest mover out there, but she was sluggish all week even by her humble standards.

What befuzzles me beyond anything is why Sharapova asked for a wild card to Sydney only to turn it down last minute. If she seriously considered playing a second tournament before the Open in Sydney, she obviously wanted to be match-fit for the Australian Open. Why change your mind just when you’ve suffered an early defeat?

Unless there is some unpublicised injury, I cannot fathom Sharapova’s logic here.

2. Roger Federer has made 8 straight semifinals in a row since Wimbledon. In his last 10 tournaments, he has only failed to make the final twice.

INCONSIDERATE DOUCHEBAG. I had just gotten into the habit of abusing Federbear whenever he lost early in tournaments.

Not much to say about McFed’s play this week: he played 8 sets, won 8 of them. 3 tiebreaks, won all 3 of them. He’s been broken once since Abu Dhabi and hasn’t faced a break point in 2 matches (granted, he hasn’t played a returner like Kolya). In other words, he’s done enough to sail on smoothly each match.

Bizarrely, the more competitive and high quality matches were the two played against players ranked outside the top 100 – Schoorel and Chiudinelli. I get sick of hearing about the “depth” on the men’s tour as much as anyone, but you know where I’m going with this.

Onto more delicious topics … here’s a picture of a banana milkshake.

banana shake.jpg_effected

Here is another.

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3. Justine Henin went to great lengths to talk down her chances at the Australian Open during the off-season, to the extent that at the start of last week, I was just hoping for a few tough wins from her in Perth.

A week later, she has won all 4 of her matches in straight sets. In the last two matches of hers I’ve watched against Ivanovic and Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Juju has been nothing short of pants-jizzingly turned on. Ivanovic and BMSocks played some of the best tennis I’ve ever seen from them. But like the pint-sized vixen she is, not only had Henin deflected every attack thrown at her with interest, she did it with such style and calmness.

Down 2 set points in the first set tiebreak to BMSocks? Here’s a drop shot. There you go, a smash. And all of a sudden, Henin had turned a 6-4 tiebreak into a 8-6 win. BMSocks regrouped in the second set, hit hard, ran harder. Her black socks turning into a wheel-shaped blur as she zoomed across the baseline, blasting her way to a 3-1 lead.

For a second, you allow yourself to imagine this match going to 3 sets, before you issue a formal apology to the entire nation of Belgium, because from 3-2 in the second set, seemingly out of nowhere, Henin soared into her “happy place”. Every point from then on was constructed; every shot had a purpose; every forehand felt entitled to its own angle, and 9 out of 10 points finished with a winner or a forced error.

Pleasure to behold.

4. BMSocks grows on you.

Tennisticaly inconsistent. Fashion sinner. Tattoos. Socks. Nothing about her fits in my perfect tennis vision, which is inevitably why I like her. BMSocks is about 87.5% heart, and the fact that some of her most memorable wins have come while representing her country says a lot about where that heart lies.

And you won’t find a more happy-go-lucky gal anyway on the vaginal part of the tennis tour. This one goes straight into the Bethanie Mattek Socks’ Hall of Fame.

BMSocks


Former entries into the Bethanie Mattek Socks’ Hall of Fame …

BMSocks2


BMSocks


Bethanie-Mattek

Well? Rock on, Soxies.

5. The Herald Sun headline read: “Ill Rafael Nadal’s shock defeat at Doha delays his trip to Australia”

And hence, I have a problem.

a) Nadal has lost to Kolya the last 4 times they’ve played. Upset? Yes. Shock defeat? Well … you know how the Herald Sun caters to a delicate and easily startled readership.

b) You would think that Nikolay at least deserved a mention somewhere.

c) Tough luck for Rafa, who should be given credit for trying to finish the match and doing justice to the spectators and to his opponent. But in all honesty, I can’t say I didn’t think his decision crossed the line between “honourable” and “masochist”. The earlier you pull out of a tournament, the more rest you give yourself to recover, the less burden on the tournament you place, and the less likely you are to pass the illness onto someone else in the locker room.

To play through a match while visibly ill may have been the principled thing to do, but for the spectators, there was little pleasure to be derived; for the media, there was little credit to be given to Kolya (who in fact did deserve much credit); and for Kolya, he was placed in an awkward position of not being able to truly celebrate something worth celebrating.

Dayvo

Much respect to Rafa for principle, but I’m just not sure his decision to play through the week and in particular – the match yesterday was the product of rational thinking.

6. One of the Australian Open “Changing Ends” film festival entry. I LAUGHED SO HARD I transfigured myself into a squirrel.

And a happy weekend to you too, my DAAAHlings.

xx doots

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17 responses to “Saturday Six.”

  1. Matt Zemek says :

    “Every point from then on was constructed; every shot had a purpose; every forehand felt entitled to its own angle, and 9 out of 10 points finished with a winner or a forced error.”

    That, world, is an elite sentence of tennis writing.

    GIVE DOOTS A WILD-CARD INTO THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN. SHE’LL TAKE THE (roughly) $17,000 U.S. cheque, methinks.

    I’M IN CAHOOTS WITH DOOTS (and NICKY MA-HOOTS).

    • dootsiez says :

      Nawww fanks! Damn right I would.

      But for now, I’d be happy with Nicky Ma-Hoots not having to suffer the indignity of qualifying (or worse, NOT qualifying).

  2. TGIF says :

    Excellent write-up doots and thank you for bringing up a point which I have been thinking this week about Rafa’s illness; it’s just not considerate to the other players for him to be wandering around w/ this nasty bug. If it were a grand slam I would excuse the selfishness, but for Doha? As the radio public service announcements say, if you’re sick please stay home from work. Your co-workers will thank you.

  3. jo says :

    wonderful writing! very witty.

    i am impressed with ju’s return this week. so calm and classy. the lovely fighting spirit is shown from beginning to end.

    mattek is quite impressive too, wonder if she can keep her form. not as impressed with her dress code though….

  4. virgilou says :

    Any of you noticed how Fed’s shorts fit him pretty well in all the right places!! Menum!!

  5. virgilou says :

    I’m watching Fed’s final against Davy and I did not know where to share this previous girly comment…

  6. jfK says :

    Bravo Rog on title #67
    banana milkshakes for everyone 😀

  7. dAri says :

    Roger just won the title today in doha. Yay!
    Doots wins the title today in tennis posts. Great writing, great feeling. EXACTLY what I want to turn to after a good tennis morning! Yay!

    BTW, how the hell did BMSands make me not hate her anymore?! I used to think she was… despicable. Sure, many have had their fashion mistakes, but unlike Venus, for example, hers aren’t flattering. BMS would look out of place, over the top, and not even be sexy doing it.
    BUT, the Socks grew on me this week. Not the actual socks, but HER. She played some good tennis, I saw her and john have lots of fun, and if I just pretended I was watching volleyball every now and then the socks didn’t KILL me.
    Still unsightly, but I stopped turning the channel when I saw her.

    • dootsiez says :

      Likewise. Once you look past the fashion horrors, which incidentally doesn’t annoy me because she wears it with such attitude, BMSocks just plays like she enjoys it. That translates well to the audience too.

      • jandemom says :

        I have enjoyed watching Bethanie for a while now. She works so hard, is always smiling & seems to love playing tennis – what’s not to like about that? She has been a great asset for the US Fed Cup team & clearly enjoyed representing the US at the Hopman Cup. I hope she keeps playing well & has a great year. And keep wearing those socks, Bethanie, even if they are a fashion “don’t” 🙂

        Congratulations to everyone’s favorite banana milkshake for his fine, fine week in Doha. Great way to get ready for the AO; may he stay healthy & continue to play at least as well as he has been the past few months. Looking forward to frazzling with everyone, but let’s just be happy today!

  8. dAri says :

    AND bartoli’s whole service motion isn’t making me vomit as I watch this petkovic/ bartoli rerun. I’m really softening, must be all the federcone ice cream and banana milkshakes.

  9. Jack says :

    I always persumed Maria asked for that wildcard for Sydney incase she did crap in Auckland….which as it turns out, she kinda did!

    But I’m glad she isn’t playing Sydney because I don’t think match play is the problem. After all, it was Greta Arn she was playing….not Justine Henin. She was fairly capable of beating her.

    I think the problem is all mental. I mean, when I watch Maria now, she always looks so tense and rigid when she playing and it really inhibits her. And I don’t know whether its down to pressure or lack of confidence but these losses are not helping at all.

    And as a fan of Maria, its really horrible to see her that way because she used to walk on court like she could beat anyone but now when I look at her, I can see she her confidence has been knocked.

  10. steve says :

    Yay Roger! Beats Davydenko without being broken, no mean feat, even if Davydenko might not quite be at his best. Looks like the more aggressive gameplan worked to keep Davydenko off-balance. Hope Davydenko can continue his comeback from injury.

    Regarding the defense of his AO title: if Roger’s ready, he’s ready, if he’s not, he’s not, and that’s alls there is to it. You can’t rush genius. You can only wait patiently for the slow ripening.

    As for Nadal’s illness: I have to say that it is highly, HIGHLY unlikely that Nadal got to #1 and won 9 majors, including the career Slam, by making “irrational” decisions. Therefore I’m forced to believe that the Nadal team’s response to this illness is perfectly rational–which means that this illness is not what it seems. One could make speculations, but they’re far too dark for this family-friendly blog. I’ll only say that I’m sure that by the time AO rolls around, Nadal will be back to full power and speed, and there will be no hint that he was sick.

  11. A_Gallivant says :

    Great write up Doots! I gotta say I’m still a hold out on BMS. Although I appreciate her adventurous dress code, she really does nothing for me. Maybe I have to see her live.

    I’ve been pretty vocal about the Nadal sickness thing on twitter. My main concern is whether he was contagious. It’s all well and good to decide that you want to play through illness, more power to you, but a week before a slam it is not okay to infect other players. Like Steve above, I think this is all for nothing though because I expect Nadal to appear in Oz healthy as a horse and serving bombs. Since Cincy & Toronto, I don’t buy the press out of that camp about anything that goes on with Nadal.

    It was lovely watching a focused, aggressive, and engaged Fed take on Davy this morning, even though I lost the rest of the day to a nap! Here’s hoping he continues his impressive form in yellow down in OZ!

    Fingers crossed for a great year!

  12. pban says :

    personally don’t like bananas but if Feddy decides to look like a banana milkshake i wouldn’t mind me some

  13. Katarina_YYZ says :

    Yummy milkshake 😛 Someone on RF.com also noted that his colour scheme was like daisies (http://www.flower-society.com/images/flowers/daisy-white.jpg). I hope Rog keeps playing like this.

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