Tag Archive | Agniewszka Radwanska

Wimbledon Ladies’ Final: Peerless

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…

Wimbledon Women’s Preview: A Conference of Anti-Experts.

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.

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Roland Garros Preview: A Conference of Anti-Experts. Pt 2

Doots: Interesting thing when I mentioned the women’s draw, PJ said the field is “wide open”. I feel as if we’ve gotten used to saying this in the past few years, but actually this is the least wide open slam I’ve seen in the past few years.

PJ: Really? How so?

Doots: The women’s tour has been dominated this year by Sharapova and Azarenka. We’re literally looking at a Big 2 situation – with Serena occasionally popping up on the radar because she’s that awesome.

LJ: but it’s clay, I think therein lies the problem.

PJ: I guess for me, I feel like it’s “open” in the sense that there are no sure favourites despite domination from Azarenka and Shrieky. Not like how Rafa is for the men’s.

Doots: Well, I still don’t know. Sharapova has had her best results this year on clay: Rome, Stuttgart, and lost to Serena by the same scoreline as Vika in Madrid. She comes into Roland Garros with by far the best clay season record of the women, which is incredible considering how bad she was on this surface a few years ago.

PJ: That is true. I was rather impressed with Sharapova’s clay showing this year. I know clay isn’t her forte but going by recent form and results, I’ll peg her as one of the favourites. Historical showing otherwise.

LJ: I think Shrieky, Azarenka and Serena for me, but hey if previous results are to be followed, it’ll be a crapshoot for the win.

Doots: They do tend to be the “Big 3” these days, which was precisely my previous point – it’s not as open as in previous years where you just knew that Wozniacki or Jankovic or whoever was up at the top couldn’t do it. But looking at the draw quarters again –

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Destroyer Mode.

So this happened …

Masha Fierrrrce

I was actually bracing myself for a train wreck going into this match, but what’s been getting increasingly evident over the past few weeks is that Sharapova is starting to play better. There are days and moments when she steps out on court that I see the Destroyer in her, a mode of Masha Fierrrrce I haven’t seen for over 2 years.

But all that comes, of course, with a qualified note on Stosur:

Look, I like Sammy. Love her game, love her personality (isn’t it nice to have a quiet and shy Aussie for a change? We’re not all boisterous bogans, ya know?)

But the truth of the matter is that the girl is headed for a massive plummet down the rankings once the clay season comes around. Mentally unhinged, committing routine errors, unable to rely on her serve: the Stosur of pre-2009 is back – the player who spent most of her career outside the WTA top 20 because she couldn’t quite hold the pieces of her talent together.

Stosur

I’m really hoping she finds some semblance of form for the clay season, because “weak” isn’t an adjective I enjoy using to describe one of the most physically fit and athletic players in tennis.

Mentioning destroyer mode: it’s not often that you see a player come back from injury stronger and in better form than she was before, but in the case of Aga, this seems to be precisely the case. She battered an out-of-sorts Franny 60 62, winning almost 65% points on return. It was ARad’s first win over Skivvy in 5 attempts.

The real upset of the day though went to the Petkorazzi, who snapped CWoz’s premier level winning streak with a slugfest victory, 75 36 63. Anyone making this sound like some sort of hyped up breakthrough needs to be whacked out of their delusion. The pair amassed a ratio of 100+ unforced errors to 30+ winners, and more than anything, it underscored how difficult it is to win the Indian Wells/Miami double.

More unfortunately, the immediate reaction post match seemed to be focused on the Petkorazzi’s last dance, as Petko announced she was going go retire her post match squiggle from now on.

Good call. I have no issue with a young woman enjoying life, but there is a fine line between celebration and gimmick, no?

Q.  Do you have a name for the dance that you do after you win?
ANDREA PETKOVIC:  It’s the Petko Dance.  (Laughter.)

Q.  Where did it come from?
ANDREA PETKOVIC:  It was a bet with my coach at the US Open.  I was playing really bad beforehand and I got Nadia Petrova in first round, so was obviously tough round for me first round US Open.  He said, If you win you have to do something special.
That was the first thing that came to my mind.  Actually, I wanted to get rid of it after the US Open, but the fans just    they said like, Hey, we are just coming to see the dance and you’re not doing it anymore.
So I brought it back in, but this is definitely the last tournament where it’s gonna happen, and then I’m moving on to something else.  (Laughter.)

Q.  Must have been nice to do it one more time today.
ANDREA PETKOVIC:  Yeah, definitely.  I tried to do it as much as I can here in the tournament, because then it’s gone.  I’m a little sad, but it was    it was a nice phase and it was nice fun, but now I’m getting a little tired of it.  Time to move on.

Not much going on for the men as rain disrupted proceedings for the evening. But VIP GOATS Rafa and Fed were fast-tracked to the next round courtesy of some decent humid weather.

Nadal honoured the Universal Law of Paella by dispatching Feliciano “I-flick-my-hair-back-and-forth” Lopez, 63 63, before treating the crowd to a quick strip tease.

Rafa strip tease

No such luck for Wogie, who had to work a little harder to overcome a pesky little problem named Juan “Baby Jesus” Monaco – 76 64 – while giving away breakpoints like a girl scout with cookies. WHAT A GENEROUS BOY.

At least the humidity made his hair look like a lush amazonian rainforest.

A rainforest FULL OF WONDERS.

WONDERS MY ADVENTUROUS FINGERS WOULD LIKE TO EXPLORE.

Moving on…

Roger Federer

One for all you Canadians. You know who you are.

xx doots

Q. I’m from Canada and we have a rising star. He was knocked out in the first round. Milos Raonic. Have you seen his game? Do you have an opinion on it?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I almost played him in the second or third round in Indian Wells last week when he lost to Ryan Harrison.

I didn’t see him play that much in the summer when he did, you know, the whole, you know, rise in the rankings, sort of when he won the tournament, lost in the finals against Roddick in the next one, because I was all the way on the other side of the planet.

So I didn’t see that much of him, but I’m sure I’ll see plenty of him in the next six months because he will be in all the main draws where I will be around. It will be interesting to see him play, and most likely I will also play against him, you know, if we sort of play each other in that draw.

But he seems like he’s very talented. He’s obviously very big and strong already at a young age, and that allows him to have great potential for the future. It’s nice to see so many up and coming guys at the moment like we have in the game right now.

San Diego: Sometime foods.

Apologies for the shithouse ignorance of WTA tennis these days. I’m slowly picking up the pieces where I left off almost 2 months ago. (And clearly, until I get the rest of the blog under control, consider it an offseason for Federporn Fridays.)

So what’s going on the world of WTA these days? Wozniacki seems to be dodging bullets over at the Wozniacki Open in Copenhagen with a few close calls. A few players I had left for dead are showing signs of life again. Jelena Dokic is on a 17 match winning streak – albeit at the challenger level – after hiring new coach Glen Schapp (former coach of Nadia Petrova). Her wins put her back in the top 100, although she missed the cut off date for direct entry into the US Open. Anna Chakvetadze also appears to be capable of winning matches in a row again. She’s into the semifinal over at the Wozniacki Open after an easy win over Hercoq, and has yet to lose a set this tournament. The real question for these two players, however, is whether the signs of life they’re showing are symptoms of a resurrection or are they merely the last run of a headless chook?

The real WTA action of the week of course is in San Diego, where the Serbs sisters flailed, and Safina couldn’t start a run; where Oudin no longer BELIEVED and Wimbledon seemed so far away for Vera Zvonareva. But all that aside, the quarterfinals provided for some interesting action.

What is it about Flavia Pennetta that seems to bother Stosur? In their 3 meetings, Stosur has failed to take a set off Flavia, or even lose a set closer than 4-6. And like in their previous 2 meetings, Pennetta cruised to an easy 64 63 win with some solid serving.

Well, solid serving aided by some truly atrocious returning from Sam Stosur, who won a grand total of 2 points on Flavia’s serve in the second set. Pennetta on the other hand, made it look easy from the baseline, breaking Stosur twice in the first set, twice in the second.

Flavia is due to play Sveta for a spot in the final after Sveta fought through some gutsy resistance from teenager Coco Vandeblahblah, eventually winning the match 75 62. It’s been a good week for the 205-ranked American, who won back-to-back WTA Tour matches for the first time in her career, including an upset over Vera Zvonareva.

For the majority of the first set against Sveta, Coco dictated play with a rare combination of pace and accuracy. She led 5-2, had a set point on Sveta’s serve, and could neither break nor serve it out at 5-3 in the next game. Instead, Coco dished up a shiny 4 double faults (Wobbly Ana styled), including the final two points, to give the break advantage back. Once Sveta got back on serve, she cruised through the rest of the match with ease, but she still remembered her close call with defeat during the first set.

“Bombs were coming at me the first few games. I felt I was flying around the baseline like the ball. She was hitting and hitting and hitting.” – Sveta.

“Hitting and hitting and hitting” is an apt description. But as is often the case with overhyped teenagers hailing from slam-hosting nations, I am hesitant to jump on the bandwagon. But I am keeping an eye on this one.

In the third quarterfinal of the day, Hantuchova fought back from a 26 03 deficit to eventually outlast Alisa Kleybanova, 26 64 63. Uncharacteristically, this was the second time this tournament that Dani has managed to comeback from a losing position – she was down match points against Marion Bartoli.

“It came down to fitness again. I felt like I needed to get into longer rallies and make her tired. I worked hard before coming here. I think it’s going to pay off.” – Hantuchova.

While Dani could rely on her fitness to win the day, the opposite could be said of Kleybs. It has become increasingly pronounced these days that Alisa places herself at a distinct disadvantage if a match goes the distance because of her physical conditioning. But can we really have a serious discussion about weight and body types in women’s tennis without descending into political incorrectness? And does Kleybanova herself consider her physical conditioning a liability? Is she doing anything about it?

I wonder.

In the last match of the day, ARad took exactly an hour to destroy No.7 seed Shahar Peer, 62 60, winning 9 straight games from 3-2 in the first set to make her second semifinal in a row. It was one of those matches where the stats do tell a good story: Radwanska dispatched 19 winners to 9 unforced errors in 14 games (Peer: 15-19), providing entertainment in the form of a mixture of groundstrokes, lobs, drop shots and just generally superb shotmaking.

She can do it all, minus the raw power. The Martina Hingis analogies are overdone, but they emerged for a good reason. Much like the Swiss Miss, ARad is too prone to be blown off court, too easily dictated around like a puppet if her tennis is anything less than consistent and flawless.

And complain as I may about the same old baseline power tennis, I wonder if it is a really bad thing that the likes of Aga are considered a relative rarity in women’s tennis these days. Power tennis, for all its monotonous homogeneity, still provides for more riveting viewing to the “general public”, while the likes of Hingis and Radwanska may appeal to tennis connoiseurs with … let’s say a more purist taste.

Or, Hoots would tell the Cookie Monster, Aga works better as a “sometime food”.


Who are you sometime foods in tennis? And who are your cookies? Do tell.

xx doots

Picspam: No amount of money can buy you taste, but at least it should buy you a stylist.

You’d expect Miami to know how to throw a party, and it didn’t disappoint. Unfortunately, when it comes to style, the players did.

How can someone so sweet and gorgeous get it so wrong, all of the time? And the worst thing is …

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Miami: The Frazzle Post

Congratulations to Kim Clijsters and Andy Roddick. Miami Champs for 2010.

Indian Wells: Pusherama.

1. Apologies for the lack of Indian Wells coverage. If blogging while doing a double degree, working and having the pretense of a life was tough, try taking away home internet.

But praise Roger Federer, my internet is back and faster than ever. Now what have I missed?

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2. After his quarterfinal exit at the Australia Open that saw the media hailing the end of Rafael Nadal’s career, Rafa spent the week in Indian Wells serving up humble pies to the obituary writers.

Want one? I hear he runs a good bakery.

But the real test for Rafa will come on Sunday, when he’ll face either Soderling or Roddick in the final (yes, he’s going to beat Ljuby. Are you kidding me?).

Should he walk away with the title in hand, it’ll be his first top 10 victory since “the World According to Rafa” came crashing down last June. Incidentally, it’ll also be his first ATP title in almost 10 months.

While there’s no need for us to get ahead of ourselves, you bet he’s ready for it. I can practically feel his energy through my screen.

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3. I hate pushers.

Yes, it’s a somewhat disrespectful and often misused term to brand someone, but there is a certain brand of scavenging, defensive, uncreative tennis that deserves all the disrespect it can get. Brad Gilbert tried to make it hip, in a “self-help tennis” kinda way, but I haven’t got a problem with beauty. Let those who can’t win settle for ugliness, we all need something eye-pleasing to appreciate and aspire to, even if most of us can’t emulate the same kind of aesthetics ourselves.

Which is an awfully convoluted way of bringing me to the bizarre conundrum that is my love affair with Lady Jaja, the only “pusher” I’ve ever really liked.

It isn’t about the drama, the smile or the glitter. Liking a player because you appreciate their personality is a bit like eating ice cream because you like hundreds-and-thousands. The reason I love Lady Jaja and keep my fingers crossed for her win tomorrow comes down to this: she plays like a girl. She moves like a girl. Hell, she talks, dresses, acts, bitches, fights, laughs and cries like a girl.

I once I heard a tennis commentator compliment Serena by saying “she plays like a man”. With JJ (as with Martina Hingis I might add), it’s the exact opposite. And isn’t it just as pretty?

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4. All this ‘philosophisationing” aside, Lady Jaja dismissed Sam Stosur in straight sets in the semifinal of Indian Wells to book a place in the final. She’ll be facing CWoz in the final, who also had an easy day against Aga.

Talk about pusherama. In JJ and Carol’s perfect world, points die from natural causes in their sleep. Get yourselves some coffee, ’cause we’re in for a long day.

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5. Talk about pushers, scavenger tennis might bring you the type of consistency undreamed of by players like James Blake, but it also has a tendency to make you look utterly powerless when your opponent happens to be painting the lines with gusto.

We saw it at the US Open when Murray nursed some wristy problems and looked listless against Cilic. We saw almost two sets of it during the Australian Open men’s final and we saw it again today, as Muzz was booted out of the tournament by Dimples Sod, 61 76.

Talk about a ‘Soderporn Saturday’, when he wasn’t serving bombs and abusing yellow fuzzy things, Soderling found enough mental presence to dig himself out of a few early and late break points to race away to an insurmountable lead and close out the match in straight sets.

Regardless of your opinion of Sod, be it that he’s a douche or perhaps just a grossly misunderstood guy, the man’s certainly a straight-talker. Dootsie approves.

Q. How do you feel the way you’re playing in this tournament?

ROBIN SODERLING: I don’t care. [laughter.]

Never change, Dimplecakes. Don’t you dare get all smooth-talking on me.

6. I haven’t made any dramas out of what Federer said at the press conference after his loss to Marcos Baghdatis. In truth, I’m with Soddy on this, I don’t care.

People who think Roger Federer’s hair turned him from a tennis god into an actual god won’t care if he was brutally honest after a bad loss. The fact that Roger’s a tremendously sore loser is almost never relevant. (And it isn’t, not to me anyway. I like sore loser Fed.)

By the same token, people who claim to hate Federer, yet spend every minute of their day talking about him are going to spin it the same way they spin everything. So why bother?

What I will say is this: Roger Federer was pissy, annoyed and angry at himself after he lost to Baghdatis. And if you’re a Federer fan, that’s a good thing.

Who said he stopped caring about Masters? Off with their heads!

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7. Serena, del Potro, and Maria Sharapova out of Miami. Roll on the 2010 casualty train.

xx doots

Indian Wells: Rocky road.

1. 2nd major tournament of 2010, second early exit by Maria Sharapova. This follows her round 2 loss at Wimbledon and round 3 at the US Open. At least she sounded a lot optimistic than I do right now.

“It’s just the mystery of the unknown.We can only do so much and work as much as we can. It’s a combination of both physically and mentally just getting stronger and little steps.

I think I’m doing a lot better than other people that have had shoulder surgery in their careers.  Some people have never come back. What, I’m 13 in the world or something?  That’s a lot better than some of the girls I’ve lost to in the last year.”

It’s a long long road back from injury and it’s a rocky one. Not of the confectionary kind.

The common feature in her losses to Zheng Jie, Oudin and Kiriklenko over the past 6 month has been that she’s hit more winners, unforced errors and double faults than her opponents. It’s not that these victors were counterpunching pushers waiting for her to ‘give away the match’. It’s about her game having too much black-and-white, hits-and-misses and not enough grey.

Yes, grey is neither her style nor her personality. But it wouldn’t hurt to see some minor tweaks in her game. Especially with a whole new generation of Baby Sharapovas coming up with more consistency albeit less mental fortitude than Sharapova.

Still. Hard to be mad at Zheng Jie when she’s such a cute little rubber duck.

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2. Non-upsets of the day: Gisela Dulko tells the story of a typical journeywoman – beating Justine Henin one day, winning a grand total of one game against Aga the next.

Comebacks are all the rage on the WTA tour – Alicia Molik crushes Lena Balt 60 62 to advance to the third round of Indian Wells.

Greul grilled Monfils 16 62 63, Blake blitzed Ferrer 61 64. Melzer melted Nalbandian by the inverse scoreline of 64 61.

No Fedbandian quarterfinal then? Le sad.

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3. Of course, we were almost denied of a Federer quarterfinal of any kind altogether as Victor Hanescu took a set in his 36 76 16 loss to a chili-red Roger.

The first set was over a flash as Roger got up an early break and lost only one point on serve. You can be forgiven for expecting the second set to be just as straight forward. After his hawk-eye successes at the Australian Open, the Fed reverted back to his love/hate relationship with our favourite birdy.

Hey genius, two things you can’t argue against in tennis – hawkeye for a bad call, and a wall for outhitting you.

But it seems that taking a set off Hot Papa was all that Hanescu could manage before a third set burn-out. Roger upped his service percentage and closed out the deal with a breadstick, and took a few more vases home for Mirka.

Baghdatis next. Fear for your knickers.

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4. Ana Ivanovic fell to Sevastova in her first match at Indian Wells. With this loss, she’s set to tumble out of the top 50 for the first time since 2004. It’s depressing. It’s humiliating. It’s well-publicised … or perhaps more appropriately – badly-publicised.

It’s just a awful story.

So I’m going to stop talking about it.

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5. Wisdom from Bodo.

Sure, players have bad days, and women players often have bad days for biologically-related reasons that are never discussed (it goes against the grain of both good manners and our general social philosophy) but loom at the proverbial 800-pound gorilla in the room.

Okay then.

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6. I’m a little late on this thanks to the internet fiasco at home, but Hit for Haiti 2 turned out to be the unfortunate clash of personalities it promised to be.

Rafa looked overawed at times and wasn’t nearly as relaxed and quippy as he was in Australia with Nole. Fed was goofy and McDreamy, and really tried to make things about as pleasant as he could.

Andre and Pete? Fire and ice.

From the outset, it felt like Andre was trying to overcompensate the humor of the night. Depending on your view of AA, either he got too relaxed and loose-lipped, or he set out to bait Pete in the first place. It didn’t help that Pete not only took the bait but took it badly. It was shocking, inappropriate, embarrassing. It was the walking-in-on-nasty-Christmas-fights kind of awkward. It made me want to rewind back to the part of the night that was still cheery and playful.

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Andre Agassi. The little kinks in his personality are what makes him one of the most intriguing characters in tennis. But this was no brainer – he said the wrong thing at the wrong time. He embarrassed Pete, who he knew wasn’t quick or sharp enough to tease back with the same sort of dark, edgy humor.

Not to mention: he did so at a charity match in front of 16,000 people. It killed the atmosphere and shifted the focus of the night from altruism to scandal.

When asked about the incident, Rafa said he didn’t understand it. Whether he was being genuine or just refusing to get involved we’ll never know.

Fed also downplayed the incident with a line I wish he used on the night to break the ice: “Now being a father I thought we had to give both guys a time out.

Cracking dad jokes already are we?

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7. To end on a positive note: bullying Roger? Bad idea.


Picket Fence Newsreel: Groundhog Day.

Another tournament, another withdrawal, another injury to sideline him for a little while. The Tennis Gods just won’t give David Nalbandian a break.

At least this one doesn’t sound too serious: Nalby’s suffered from a 3 millimeter tear in the adductor muscle of his right leg, according to the tournament doctor. He’ll need at least 10 days off, which means that the Argentinian Davis Cup team is what one would call – a tad screwed.

But the news of this injury came after Nalbandian’s initial comeback plans were derailed by a stomach muscle injury earlier this year.

I wonder if it’s a matter of his body getting used to the rhythm of playing tennis again, or is he about to become more Rafa than Rafa?

In Memphis, Maria Sharapova has been busy gobbling up cupcakes on her run to the semifinals, she took out Elena Baltacha 62 75 with a less-than-impressive serving display.

A more interesting phenomenon is the fact that Lena B has a win/loss record of 16-4 in 2010 so far.  The fine peeps of Great Britain, get ready to welcome a female player into the top 40 in a few tournaments’ time.

In Dubai, Venus was underwhelmingly solid against Shahar Peer, progressing to the final with a 61 64 win. Shahar’s self-assured run on the outside courts of Dubai have earned her not only the admiration of many for the composure she showed, but a spot in the top 20.

In the other semi of the day, Vika defeated Aga for a chance to face the other Williams in the final.

Despite the “upsets” of the week, the Dubai tournament ended up delivering the goods after all.

Make it good, girls

xx doots