Emerald green may have been decreed by Pantone as the colour of the year, but the colour of the Happy Slam is clearly yellow, as both Nike, Adidas, and “the Others” all brought out cheery, yellow coloured gear as a homage to one of the national colours of the host nation.
If only the tennis was bright and cheery. Day 1 of the Aus Open brought with it a drama free procession of the top players, starting with Sugapova’s double bagelling of Puchkova, who more than lived up to the tired puns on her name. Read More…
2012 post US Open happened in a blur. Full time work, training, admissions and life in general caught up with me and through it all, I lost the apetite for tennis. But there’s nothing like an Aussie heatwave to bring back happy memories of getting sunburnt on a tennis court.
And just in the first week of tennis for 2013, Toothface monotoned his way into the hearts of Brisbanites after defending his title there; Serena showed why it’s just too easy when you are the Queen S of the WTA; Vika suddenly found it quite convenient to be a woman; Ashley Barty, who I saw for the first time last week, proved to be a totally different player to the stereotypical young hype that I imagined (she could, however, do with a post-pubescent growth spurt). Monica Puig popped onto my radar for the first time in her 3 set loss to Angelic Carebear to remind me why I should (as always) watch more women’s tennis. And instead of actual match analysis, Channel 7 told me for the 573926th time that Grigor Dimitrov “modelled his game on Federer’s” for an entire week.
The real hype of the week Down Under though, was Bernard Tomic, who has managed to make the good people of Oz pee-pee themselves with excitement by winning an inconsequential match against B-grade Djokovic. But even the most inconsequential wins go some way towards redemption, especially when backed by a week of solid tennis in a nation starved for a modicum of talent.
Aaaand then … there is the anti-hype. Surely Sam Stosur is on some sort of quest to break the record for most number of consecutive matches lost on Australian soil? Watching Stosur’s 3 set loss Zheng Jie today, I am forced to come to one of those cliché conclusion that “God is fair”. He gave Stosur the power and weaponry to beat any player on the WTA tour, but none of the instincts and court-savvy. Zheng Jie on the other hand …
In amidst the hype and anti-hype, there are the notable voids. Where is WOGER? Where is WAFA? As much as I refuse to be yet another person to proclaim the end of the “Fedal era” (oh honey, that ended 3 years ago), what’s clear is that the Fedal party clearly ain’t gonna be on for the early hardcourt season this year.
But don’t despair, Woger has plenty of worthy frenemies to party with Down Under. And he’s even brought out the Pink Panther for Melbourne Park!
6 days til the Aus Open!
Another one of the Grandpa Generation is off to the sunset after US Open – for Andy Roddick is hanging up his racquets after US Open.
There’s no way any decent tennis fan would have missed the announcement that one of the most colourful (if not exactly the most agreeable) personalities of the tour is retiring. With him meeting one of the stars of the Generation After Nadal-Djokovic-Murray, Bernie Tomic – it was supposed to be the marquee match of the US Open thus far. Fair to say some expected Bratomic to end the career of A-Rod. After all, he’s 11 years younger (on paper anyway ;)), supposedly stronger and faster, nearing the peak of his game whilst Roddick is on his swan song.
Arthur Ashe was packed to the capacity for that match, nearing the crowds of a final even. If Roddick was to go out, he would go out with a bang and in front of thousands of Americans.
But Roddick was not done yet. Read More…
I’ll spare Kim fans the cringe worthy wordplay. When your name is just one syllable, the temptation is too much, TOO MUCH I TELL YA.
It was just over 3 years ago when Kim Clijsters began her confident, self-assured procession to a US Open title, culminating in a 75 63 win over Caroline Wozniacki for the second slam of her career, in the second stage of her career.
A lot happens in 3 years – rankings change, careers bloom and wilt, injuries and desires get in the way. Day 2 and 3 of the US Open saw the exit of both Wozniacki (now title-less for over a year and struggling to stay in the top 10) and Mama Kim, who punctuated a full stop on her grand slam career with a characteristic smile and a wave.
We like to talk about the changing of the guard whenever an older player loses to a young’un, and perhaps it is. In her 67 67 loss to Laura Robson today, Clijsters was the one who looked increasingly more tentative, lingering well behind the baseline, unwilling to move out of her comfort zone. Robson on the other hand put her much underrated lefty serve to good use, and played a brand of brave, attacking tennis that might in fact benefit Murray one day in his neverending attempt to score high on the Murrayometer.
And so the tide advances. Exit Clijsters, enter Robson on the stage where the former shone the most. Or so we hope. It’s a neater, more poetic narrative for Clijsters to finish her career to a ‘Federer‘ and not a ‘Becker‘.
Yet none of it was surprising in the end. Clijsters had been plagued by injuries and planning her retirement for some time now. There was ultimately always something half-hearted and ‘gravy-on-top’ about Clijsters’ second career. Although she won more grand slams than in her first, and had gone through a more intense period of domination in her short 3 year return than she ever did in the first career, Clijsters’ second career always served to enhance the legacy of the first. As if to say: ‘look, I’ve always had it in me.‘
And so she did. That easy power, the movement and flexibility. The sense of calm and ease she brings to a sport that often inspires the very antithesis of calm and ease. During the first part of Clijsters’ career, I was in the camp that thought Clijsters had all the talent in the world, but minus the killer instinct to truly realise her talent. In her second career, Mama Kim proved me wrong and showed that maturity and self-assurance can equally be a vessel for success. Not all champions are created twisted and scarred.
So without making this sound any more like an obituary than it does: bye bye Kim. Mother, champion, and an all round nice gal.
Before London 2012, and perhaps Beijing 2008, tennis at the Olympics was a blip on the radar. Although taking part as an original sport from 1896 to 1924, it didn’t make it’s modern comeback till Seoul in 1988. But compared to the slams, or even the masters, no one gave a flying rats ass what happened in the Olympics, until now (although seemingly Philipp Kohlschreiber still didn’t manage to get the memo)
It is still hard, after all these years, to come to terms with the fact that tennis goes on the week after, or even the day after a grand slam. But tennis doesn’t stop for one victor or one tournament, and here we are, the-Monday-after-the-Monday-after Wimbledon, with 4 brand new trophy shots to savour.
But oh how I lie! We didn’t quite get the 4 ‘brand new’ winners I alleged this Sunday, as Serena Williams saved a set point to take out lucky loser Coco Vandewhuuuut 7-5, 6-3 for her second straight Stanford title. It’s Serena’s 43rd title, which ties her with Venus for the most among active players, and she did it just 8 days after winning Wimbledon, while playing her B game, jetlagged and binging on Desperate Housewives til 6 am in the morning.
So we have that last point in common at least. Though I might have to work on the whole B-game-and-winning-at-life thing. Read More…
There isn’t a lot about Serena Williams that has not been said yet at this point in her career. She’s strong, she’s powerful, she serves with an air of unshakable, unthinking belief and authority. Above all, Serena Williams is one of the most resilient athletes in the history of sport, coming back time and time again from injuries, personal tragedies and media freakouts to dominate simply because domination is the natural essence of her character. Read More…
It’s a shame that she stumbled over Virginie Razzano in Paris, because we missed that process in every grand slam tournaments where Serena Williams gradually plays herself into form and self-confidence. She might’ve been messy, disengaged, and left fumbling for her game in the early rounds, but as many champions do, Serena has this ability to rise to the occasion as the tournament enters the quarterfinal and semifinal stage.
Coming into the match, Kvitova was the logical favourite. Despite her mediocre performance in 2012 so far, Petra has sailed through the Wimbledon draw looking fit, focussed and sharp. Serena, on the other hand, was coming off her worst ever grand slam result at Roland Garros, struggled in the early rounds against Zheng Jie and Shvedova. Read More…
With the men’s draw out of the way, PJ, LJ et moi got together for a chat about the ladies’ draw. Pictures from the pre-Wimbledon party.
Doots: Alrighty. Let’s get started. First thoughts on women’s draw? I feel like every year for the past few years, Wimbledon has always been about what the Willians Sisters will or won’t do, and this year, it’s been the least about them in a long while.
PJ: I have to admit I am in camp “wanting a Williams to win”. Especially Venus where Wimbledon is concerned.
Doots: I think it might be too much of a long shot for Venus.
PJ: Hey, I live in Delusion Land, no?
LJ: I think she’ll be dangerous in the early rounds, but I’m not too positive on current form.
Doots: What do we think about Kvitova? I thought she was royally screwed for Roland Garros given her form going into it, but she actually acquitted herself respectably.
LJ: Her game is just so funky, I don’t know what to think. I feel like she has the potential to really beat anyone, but … but …
Doots: Funky’s one way to describe her game: when she’s on, she is shotmaking genius, when she’s off, she is an unthinking idiot. Her game doesn’t leave much room for grey.
PJ: the Female Dolgopolov, but maybe a lot less crazy.
LJ: Yes, I definitely agree with the Female Dolgo characterization, but she managed to hold it together for a slam.
PJ: Speaking of danger in early rounds, Pironkova to meet Shrieky in the second round. Now that I have mixed thoughts about: [Pironkova is a] two-time semifinalist, [but] she has the equal potential to beat herself into submission. It’s like she does nothing for the whole season and is just waiting for WImbledon to attack or something.
LJ: I thought Shreiky had an okay draw until I realised she has both Pironkova AND Lisicki in the 4th round.
Doots: Well why don’t we get onto Shrieky’s draw then. She has the Aussie ARod for her first round; most likely – Pironkova second round.
This time 3 years ago, Maria Sharapova had spent a year off tour, dealt with a career threatening shoulder injury, dropped out of the top 100, and came back to play on clay with her game in tatters but her spirit ever the more steely.
If someone had told me then that she would one day climb her way back to No 1 and complete her career slam at Roland Garros, I would’ve probably recommended them a good psych.
But hey, what would I know?
With a title at each of the 4 slams by the age of 24, Sharapova officially becomes “history books” material, and on track to become the greatest of her generation (as distinct from the Williams’ and Henin generation, although that distinction is hazy at best). But more on that and the final later.
Right now, as a fan, I am simply proud of the resilience and dedication of a young woman in reaching the ultimate milestone on her comeback from injury.