We have a blockbuster Saturday coming up in Woop Woop. Wafa faces off first match against a resurgent del Potro. Normally, I would not worry, but given Rafa’s performance in his last two matches, del Potro seems to be in with a chance to win.
In a dystopian world, my anticipation of a Fedal final would be completely derailed by both delPo and Satan.
BUT IT IS OKAY.
Unlike every other tournament, this time in Woop Woop, we get a second chance to reach Dootsie’s ovarian happiness. FEDRINKA plays Dolgopolove and Xman in some kinduva alternative dream doubles final.
Either way, the firelog routine – IT HAS TO HAPPEN. I WILL DIE OF A THOUSAND SQUISHY PENGUINS IF IT HAPPENS.
OOP – STADIUM 1 start 11:00 am
 R Nadal (ESP) vs J Del Potro (ARG) – ATP
 N Djokovic (SRB) vs  R Federer (SUI) – ATP
Not Before 3:00 PM
 B Mattek-Sands (USA) / M Shaughnessy (USA) vs S Mirza (IND) / E Vesnina (RUS) – WTA – DOUBLES FINAL
Not Before 4:00 PM
A Dolgopolov (UKR) / X Malisse (BEL) vs R Federer (SUI) / S Wawrinka (SUI) – ATP – DOUBLES FINAL
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?
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.
Congratulations to Kim Clijsters and Andy Roddick. Miami Champs for 2010.
1. Ancic’s comeback lasted only two matches before he was crushed by Nadal, 62 62.
Oh Rafa. So mean to Super Mario. 😦
I’ll forgive you though, because you’re wearing those awful ‘grilled steak’ pants and need all the compassion you can get.
Surely Rafa has some input into Nike’s designs for him? If yes, then we need to convert Anna Wintour to Rafaelism, ASAP. If not, the Nadal team needs threaten that unless Nike comes up with better designs, Rafa will play pantless.
I’m sure many of us won’t mind.
2. Talk about crushings, two Aussie women are through to the fourth round of Indian Wells after Sammy brushed past Pavsies, 63 60 in just over an hour. It’ll be a fun one next against a newly coachless Vera Zvonareva, who also sailed past Serbian-killer Ana Sevastova, 62 63.
3. As some players sailed, others suffered crushing defeats. I don’t remember the last time I saw Fernando Verdasco bagelled. He looked listless and miserable as he flubbed his way to a 60 63.
All credit to Birdy, le Beautiful. Sometimes, when he gets on a roll, the only person who can stop him is himself.
4. I missed the match completely: MJMS old-schooled Vika for a 76 62 win.
In related news, she is still my girl-crush. Flavs, who fizzled out in the third set against Shahar Peer, has been demoted.
5. Match of the day between one of the most underrated players of the WTA – Sara Errani and one of the most overrated, Lady Jaja.
It was error-prone and exhausting. The momentum swung like a pendulum in a grandfather clock, yet somehow, it managed to stay entertaining.
JJ remained incapable of putting away a short ball to save her own arse, but the girl managed to run Errani ragged in the end. I’d love to see Sara E do some damage during the clay season.
6. Talk about drama and pendulum swings, Alisa Kleybanova sweat-squeezed Mama Barbie right out of Indian Wells in a see-saw 64 16 76(4) win. Kim led 3-0 in the final set, and 4-0 in the tiebreak before Kleybs rallied back to play the match on her terms.
IT’S BALLBASHING YOU CAN BELIEVE IN FOLKS.
TYPE IN CAPS LOCK.
7. Nikki Vee retires from tennis at the age of 20. She is set to marry Wormy in July. Hands up if you thought she was the real deal at the age of 17?
Don’t be hard on yourselves/me.
Just realised for the first time that Nicole Vaidisova’s younger than me. The fact that she’s about to retire and get married just a year out of her teens both depresses and scares me shitless.
Any bets there’ll be a comeback within 3 years?
Ljubicic is in the Indian Wells final. Good for Papa Ivan, but golly-gee, I hate Indian Wells.
BRING ON MIAMI ALREADY.
1. As any player without a claim to history will tell you – tennis isn’t all about the slams.
And they might be right – judging from the reactions of last week’s victors.
For Nole and Venus, it was the satisfaction of defending their territory. Winning a tournament once says you had a great week, defending it the second time round turns it into surrogate home turf.
For Ernie and Kleybs on the other hand, they’ll look back on last week with some nostalgia in the years to come. A maiden title is always an important milestone, no matter where you go from there.
2. If only I knew where Ernie will go from here. I used to like Gulbiscuit. I want to like Gulbiscuit again. He had me on the bandwagon in 08 before he pushed me off.
Well, I ain’t rushing back this time – it’s going to take a lot more than “Delray Beach” to bring me back onboard.
How do I know that in 5 years time, I won’t be sitting here wondering what happened to Ernests Gulbis the same way I wonder about what happened to “that other guy from Wham”?
What did happen to the other guy from “Wham!” anyway?
3. While we’re on the topic of Delray Beach winners, what’s going on these days with Kei Nishikori? Apart from a big fat nothing that is.
4. Not the best 31st birthday for Dr Ivo, but a final ain’t so bad. He’ll live with that.
5. It ain’t a maiden title, but Nole defended a title for the first time in his career in Dubai and he did it, as Brad Gilbert would say, by “winning ugly” – edging out his opponents in a series of tiresome 3-setters.
But can you begrudge him the victory? Would you like that with an asterisk too?
Of course not.
There was a time, back in 06-07, when I found Novak Djokovic overwhelming.
First I loved him and found him fun. Then I despise him and thought he was foul. I admired his tennis, which was fearsome and exhilarating. Mostly, I just didn’t know what to do with his “in-your-faceness”.
These days, I can barely summon any emotions either way for Djoko. He learned to be correct and diplomatic in the media. He learnt to play like a pusher and unlearned how to serve. Outside the slams, he plays more tournaments than anyone else in the top 4 and is the most consistent player.
The problem, for me, is that he’s too consistently underwhelming. Be it semis or finals, or the opportunistic title runs in Beijing, Bercy or Dubai against a depleted field, Djokovic sits like a big pile of blah in my tennis peripheral vision, and I can neither love him nor hate him.
What say you on Djoko?
6. As the Winter Olympics came to an end today, I wondered how Tennis Nation would deal with someone like Plushenko. I wondered what would happen if a Wimbledon finalist came out and said: “you can’t win Wimbledon if you don’t serve and volley. All the baseline rallies, it’s not grass court tennis, it’s like squash.”
Yes, Plushenko’s a complete tool. But he’s good and he knows it.
Not only does he know it, he’s so convinced of his own superiority that he won’t have anyone tell him otherwise.
I’m twisted enough to find that refreshing.
7. I’m also twisted enough to find Andy Murray’s brutal candour this week refreshing, after he managed to piss off a second tournament organiser in a row this week in Dubai. (Full story)
I personally don’t mind what he said, given that Mandy doesn’t exactly have high EQ. Perhaps more revealing is his constant reference to “what would Roger do“. Don’t deny it dude, you secretly care more about him than you do anyone else.
8. Am I the only person in Tennis Nation who loves Alisa Kleybanova?
She’s everything opposite of an elegant player: she hits her groundstrokes as if she’s playing tennis with a fry-pan. She looks off-balance 90% of the time on court. The remaining 10%, when she’s serving. She’s not built like a tennis player, which is a gentle way of putting it, nor does she move like one.
These are precisely the reasons why I enjoy watching her. Her crap is inexplicably good, as she demonstrated yesterday with her complete dominance over Dementieva.
Really. She’s just sweet and totally squishable.
9. Since the first week of 2010, Elena Dementieva has played the Hopman Cup, Sydney, Australian Open, Paris and Kuala Lumpur. I say this for her benefit: get out of my face.
10. Venus defends her second title in a row, winning Acapulco and mirroring her results this time last year. She now has the second highest number of clay court titles on tour (behind Henin). Not what you’d expect from the Queen of Grass, but it’s what you’d expect from a player who’s good enough to play “BYO tennis” on her worst surface and still perform respectably.
Nothing makes me happier than seeing Venus on a good run. Retirement my arse.
FINALS SUNDAY LINE-UP
Youzhny vs. Djokovic
The Headclobber is not the kind of player I’d expect to do well in a final. But then again, this is Dubai, a tournament he’s typically played well in.
His opponent is in a bit of unchartered waters himself, as Nole is oh-so-close to defending a title for the first time in his career. If his last 3 matches were anything to go by, he really, really, really wants to screw it up.
Ferrero vs. Ferrer
Wanting Ferrero to win. Picking Ferrer. Simply because logically, it just doesn’t make sense for JCF to be on such a Nadalesque run without losing a match.
Venus vs. Hercog
Err. Whut? Venus is on track to defend her second title in a row. This hasn’t been a bad start to her year by any stretch of the imagination.
Dementieva v Kleybanova
For every pound that Alisa Kleybanova loses, she takes one step closer to the top echelon of the game. I’m not having a go at her weight, I’m having a go at her physical conditioning. She’ll never be the fastest or the smoothest mover out there, but she can do something about the most exploitable weakness in her game.
That aside, I actually kinda love Kleybs. Her ball-bashing ways are strangely cathartic.
Meanwhile, Elena Dementieva has had 3 weeks off since Jan 1st. That’s taking into account that she crashed out of the Australian Open early.
Can someone knock some sense into that girl?
How can you be expected to “peak” at the slams when you play day in day out, often at the most mundane of tournaments. It’s no surprise she hasn’t managed to win a slam.
I’m in no hurry to get over the Australian Open, and since my last two posts were heavily focused on Fed-related trophy porn, I thought I’d wrap up the tournament with some thoughts on other players.
What say you?
Hot: No 1s reign supreme.
Undoubtedly the two best players of the noughties win the first slam of the new decade. What more can you say about them that hasn’t been said already? They walk the walk, and they talk the talk. They’re inimitable, insatiable. They’re the players we’ll be talking about in the next 30 years the way people talk about Laver, Sampras, Graf or Navratilova these days.
We can point to the Davydenkos and the Dementievas of the tour, who scored recent wins over Roger and Serena. But in the end, there’s a good reason why Roger and Serena have a combined total of 28 slams between them, while Davydenko and Dementieva share a shiny l’oeuf.
Not: Grandest of all slams.
Two weeks ago, many ‘experts’ were betting their house money on having 4 different male slam winners for 2010. Now the same ‘experts’ claim that Federer could win all 4 slams this year.
Remind me: didn’t we say the same thing about every Australian Open winner for the last 4 years? How did that work out?
Logically, the feat is possible, but realistically, the diversity, depth and athleticism of modern tennis make this possibility slim to the point of being negligible.
All I asked for at the start of 2010 was for Roger to win one slam. As he said in previous years, any year with a slam is a good year. Now that he’s got one, I’ll a bit greedy and hope that he stays healthy all year to break Sampras’ record of weeks at No 1, keep the semifinals streak going and win Wimbledon.
But honestly, keep the moronic expectations to yourself.
Hot: Chinese onslaught.
Empty stands at the Shanghai Masters last year should tell you how much the Chinese fans care about tennis sans Roger Federer. And are we really surprised?
Only countries with a history of tennis and good players feel a sense of “ownership” over the sport. Zheng and Li may not be future slam winners, but they’re trail-blazers. They pave the way for the seemingly inevitable Chinese onslaught in the near future. And why do we want a Chinese onslaught?
For one simple reason: more people watched the Australian Open semifinals featuring Zheng and Li than the entire population of Australia.
China redefines “mass appeal”.
Not: talk about redefinition, are we redefining ‘greatness’ here?
Don’t get me wrong. I like Kim Clijsters. Yet I couldn’t help but cringe every time she was mentioned as a ‘great champion’ in the same breath as Henin and Serena over the past fortnight.
Since when did Kim Clijsters become a tennis great?
Let’s not forget that until last year, Clijsters was a one slam wonder known for her inability to convert a victory on the big stage. Her win in New York last year was a truly inspiring story. And no doubt, she is currently one of the best players on tour.
But don’t kid yourselves here – this wasn’t some sort of a “champion’s return” to reclaim her rightful spot at the top of the game. Clijsters is a step above Svetlana Kuznetsova in anyone’s books, but she ain’t a Serena or Justine.
And by the same token, since when did Venus get completely left out of the “current greats” list?
Sure, her form isn’t fantastic right now, but the woman reached the quarterfinals without playing her best tennis and outperformed most of the other top WTA players right now.
As the winner of 7 slams and at least the third best female player of the last decade, Venus Williams deserves more respect in the media rather than this “what have you done for me lately” attitude from commentators this tournament.
Hot: Red Hot Cilic Peppers
If every slam had an “it” player, then the “it” player of the Australian Open would be Marin Cilic. Welcome to the top 10.
We saw a bit of everything – aggression from the baseline, at the net, solid movement, calmness and some nerves too. Not to mention- surprising eloquence.
Count me in on the bandwagon. I have a feeling this guy’s going to have Mandy’s number someday.
But next time Marin, perhaps you’ll learn to pace yourself more in the first week of a slam?
Not: The player that no one’s talking about.
Sorry Nole fans, I laughed when some commentators picked him to win the Australian Open pre-tournament. Based on what?
Sure, the guy cleaned up the indoor season, good for him. But who cares about the indoor season? Not when the likes of Federer, Nadal and even del Potro spent the post-US Open circuit looking burnt out, lethargic and completely lacking in intensity.
But that’s not the part about Nole that left me cold. When Rafa crashed out of the tournament at the hands of Mandy, Nole could’ve earned his No 2 spot with a win over Tsonga, his first credible opponent in the tournament after a string of cupcakes.
Instead, he cockblocked himself one last time and left his ranking up to Federer and Murray to decide. As Mandy lost, Djoko became the new World No 2 through the backdoor. Color me unimpressed.
Yes, I’m aware he had some health issues. But once upon a time, a boy also had wolf issues.
Hot: Step up.
My revelations of the tournament:
- Yanina Wickmayer (move over, Masha);
- Alisa Kleybanova (there is no better anger management than watching Kleybs club the bile out of a tennis ball),
- Nestor/Zimonjic (like I would ever pay attention to the men’s doubles semifinal if I wasn’t stuck ushering it. But boy, was I glad I watched it);
- and of course, John Isner, who continued to impress with his baby fat and sheer desire to step up.
He leaves this half of the globe with his first tour title in Auckland and his second consecutive slam fourth round. It seems that American journalists aren’t the only ones taking note of his entry into the top 20:
AMERICAN John Isner is shooting up the rankings – he’ll move into the top 20 after January’s ranking points are counted. The 22-year-old clinched his first tour title the week before the Open in Auckland, and some very important people took note. ”That was pretty cool,” said Isner, explaining how Roger Federer had stopped him in a Melbourne Park corridor to congratulate him. ”I didn’t really think he would even know, but he did. Any time Roger talks to you, let alone congratulates you, it’s pretty neat.”
Not: Step down.
15 months ago, Safina, Lady Jaja and Ana were on top of the rankings. They were the “right now” and future of women’s tennis. Today, they are three girls struggling to live with their serve, approaching their mid-20s with a total of 1 slam amongst them. With Serena looking ever so motivated and Henin back in the action, the window of opportunities has just about closed.
Kudos to all of them for going away every offseason to train and broaden their games, but the lack of game is hardly the reason they can’t win slams. At their best, JJ, Ana and Dina all have slam winning arsenals. What’s lacking is a correct balance between hot desire and a cool head.
What this says about them is that none of them know who the hell they are as a player just yet. Will they ever?
Hot: Happy Slam
I had the pleasure of chatting with some European tennis fans over the course of the last two weeks. Their comparisons made me realise just how affordable and accessible grand slam tennis is down under.
I give a lot of flak to our politicians for … being politicians, but thumbs up for continuing to invest in the sports precinct of this city. In a few years, there’ll be 3 roofs at the Australian Open, new indoor courts, a greater use of the space at Melbourne Park, and 500 more seats at a renovated Rod Laver Arena.
Not too shabby, I say.
Not: Cause and means
On the most part, Australia is a fairly multicultural society, but for some reason, tennis brings out the racial tensions each year. Croatian neo-Nazis were arrested on Day 2 with one person out of the gang found to be facing two murder charges. Chilean fans were ejected for lighting flares. The nephew of the Australian prime minister protested with a group in KKK costume against Australia’s racist treatment of refugees.
It’s another matter of cause and means. I believe that Australia’s treatment of refugees is an utter disgrace. Meet me on the Parliament steps. Meet me on university lawns. Meet me at Federation Square to protest the injustice.
But if I see you at the tennis ruining other people’s good times, I’m calling the security.
Hot: Records left standing.
With his Australian Open win this year, Roger Federer is more than 3000 points ahead of Nole, making it almost impossible to topple him before Rome. Roger needs to remain No 1 at the end of Roland Garros to break the Sampras record. It’s up to him right now to take care of his opportunities in the next 3 months and stretch that rankings lead. You go, Poopie!
Not: imbalance in our tennis universe.
I knew it was coming, but it still hurts a little to see Rafa at No 4.
We could have a Fedal semi at Indian Wells. We could have a Fedal quarter at Roland Garros if Rafa doesn’t manage to defend his points in the first half of the year.
To quote myself narcissistically, DYSTOPIA.
That’s it from the Australian Open guys. I’m taking this week as a “honeymoon week” to enjoy the Swiss 16, so don’t expect any coverage of the ‘Movistar Open’ or Zagreb.
Day 5, the temperatures soared to 37C before a late night cool change took over. And much like everything down under, the tennis yesterday mimicked the weather, with shades of hot and cold, and its fair share of ups and downs.
ONE is your magic number. Randy and Rafa both lost one set. ‘Martin Porto’ ate one bagel. Justine Henin came back from one set down to level, and eventually – win the match against Kleybanova. Monfils could do no more than win one set against a cracking John Izzy, while Wicky and Sveta gave away one set to their respective opponents, but ultimately no harm was done.
And in the upset of the tournament, Kimmie won one game to concede the match to Nadia Petrova 6-0 6-1. To top it all off, Nadia Petrova was wearing a beautiful dress.
IS THIS REAL LIFE?
But first, it was a match that had nothing to do with ‘one’. Unless you count Jelena Jankovic as one big loser.
I have a real soft spot for JJ. She’s a ridiculous human being. She’s emotional, she’s stereotypical, she acts like a petty little school girl, and I mean that in a good way – she’s a real hoot to have around. And when she’s on, she plays tennis in a flowy, crafty and strangely feminine way.
Flowy, crafty and feminine she was not yesterday in her 6-2 6-3 loss to Alone Bondarenko, who was a shiny 0-9 against her prior to the match. Youch.
Every off-season, JJ goes off, picks a part of her game to “improve” and comes back with that part of her game regressed. This time last year, ranked No 1 in the world, JJ decided to bulk up. The price she paid for it, supposedly, was the loss of her mobility on court and that mobility she never got back until the summer hard court season rolled around.
This off-season, it seems that Lady Jaja took a look at the serving woes of Ivanovic & Co and decided she wanted to join the club. She went off, complete revamped the serve, and came back not only with no marked improvements but quite the opposite.
She gained no extra power, no better placement or higher first serve percentage. In fact, there was so much going on with the toss and ridiculous knee bend that she lost the timing on her serve.
Which brings me to my point – why fix something that wasn’t broken? Her serve was never a thing of wonder, but it was slightly better than “functional”. Now it’s barely rolling into the box.
I understand the desire to continuously improve as a player, but girl, you’re 24. The salient features of your game are there for better or worse. It’s time you start working with the strengths you’ve got rather than trying to fashion new weapons out of thin air. How much time do you think you have left before the new generation of bright young things come along and usurp your place in the top 10 OH WAIT …
The word ‘shocker’ doesn’t quite describe this next upset. Didn’t see a single point of Clijsters v Petrova because I was watching Cilic v Wawrinka on Margaret Court Arena at the time. From what I gather, it seemed that Nadia Petrova turned up prepared to play the Kimpossible, but the Kimpossible didn’t turn up to play at all.
Clijsters’ press conference offered no explanations for this bizarre loss, the worst in her career spanning 555 matches.
…she was good. But, you know, I let her ‑‑ you know, I made all the mistakes and she didn’t really have to do much. She served really well and was aggressive in the rallies, but that’s because I let her play into the courts. Just because I wasn’t feeling the ball well. It sucks.
It’s something you don’t want to happen too often. You just want to keep working hard. But, yeah, like I said, it sucks that it has to happen at this stage of this tournament at least. If it happens in another tournament, then you can say, Okay, you know, it’s not a big deal, just keep working hard.
You know, matches like this, maybe it happens once a year where you feel like this. But, yeah, like I said, you don’t want it to happen more than this because then, you know, it’s not a coincidence.
I think I haven’t changed anything in my whole preparations before every match. Everything was the same, same routine, then something like this happens. That’s probably the most frustrating thing about it, is not knowing. That’s sports. You know, it can happen.
That – ladies and gents – is the difference between Kim Clijsters and Ana Ivanovic. Both lost early at the Australian Open. It “sucks”, of course it does. But unlike Ana, Kim isn’t going to go away, sign up for therapy, dump her coach, revamp her service motion, and get a new husband. She’ll wave her hand and call it “sports”. It happens, and I’ll make damn sure it ain’t gonna happen again.
Life wasn’t much easier either for the other Belgians still in the draw. For a set and a half against Kleybs, Justine looked lethargic and a step too slow. Meanwhile, Kleybanova was serving and clubbing the ball with so much pace and accuracy that it didn’t seem possible to stop her momentum.
But momentum, like Lady Luck, is a fickle customer. Justine finally woke up half way through the second set, and all it took for was a few second serves from Kleybanova for Henin to weasel herself into the match.
She’s not the HBIC for nothing.
With the second set under her belt, the lethargy wore off and Henin began to exhibit her full array of shots with better execution and court coverage, neither of which she had at the start of the match.
The real question now is whether she can recover in time for her all-Belgian clash against Yanina Wickmayer, who is yet to lose a match in 2010 but has probably had more dog fights than any other player this Australian Open.
In two of the more exciting matches of the day, John “Chubbysex” Isner and Marin Cilic defeated some tough opponents in Monfils and Stan on the infamously rowdy Margaret Court Arena.
Not a fan of big servers in general, but there’s something about John Isner that gets me … it’s not the forehand, nor his abilities at the net, both of which are respectable though not world-class. The kid’s got spunk, that’s all.
And he’s also got Andy Murray next round. It’s Toothface v Tongueface, can Mandy break finally his Australian Open voodoo? Or will John Isner achieve his best ever slam result?
If there’s one thing about Margaret Court Arena that I love, it’s the atmosphere of the place. It’s rowdy, it’s gleeful, and players like Monfils milk it for all its worth. Every roar from the crowd seemed to be magnified by ten-fold, and fans of a particular player tend to congregate like sardines into a single section of the crowd.
I had the misfortune of having the entire Croatian contingent sitting in my section yesterday. Luckily, they were mostly well-behaved after the security team stationed themselves outside. And apart from cheering like a bunch of drunk energizer bunnies through the night, and trying to convincing me that Roger Federer was “Norwegian”, they became a welcomed distraction from what was otherwise a very long match and a heat-exhausted crowd.
Stan started the match with full focus, striking the ball cleaning, and drawing gasps from the crowd with his backhand. But Stan being Stan, he couldn’t harbor the momentum, nor could he handle Marin’s risque forehand once the Croat found his range there. Every time, Cilic pushed Stan wide on the forehand, he won the point. And the momentum in the last 3 sets largely went the way of the youngster.
By the third set, Stan was physically exhausted in the heat, and the sounds coming from his racket had lost the sort of crispness they had in the first set. There was only one way for this to go and it wasn’t in the direction of the Swiss.
It was an important win for Cilic, whose tennis followed the theme of the day through phases of hot and cold. He’ll have an interest match against “Martin Porto” next round, as the Argentinean himself has been having complete blackout periods during matches. Delpo needed 4 sets to get past Mayer after losing a bagel set.
We’re in for one helluva Round 16 I tell ya.
What the –
Serena, you … actually wanna win this? I thought we had an understanding!
Rena progressed to the quarterfinals with a 63 62 win over Lucie Safarova, a kill so clean I could use it as a mirror.
I don’t understand Serena. One day she’s getting her ass kicked by a journeywoman from the Land of Lost Souls, the next she’s winning 100% of her second serves and baring her teeth at poor ickle Lucie Safarova.
I don’t know what to do with you, ReeRee. For superstition’s sake, can you at least lose your next match, or in the final?
Elena Dementieva scored a three set win over Sam Stosur, 6-7(3) 6-1 6-3. Stosur’s two major weapons – the serve and the forehand – still have the tendency to get up and walk out on her in the middle of a match.
I don’t think she’ll be too devastated about it though. The girl’s had a wonderful summer and will no doubt be one of the dark horses for the US Open.
Don’t know how I feel about Elena Dementieva. Actually I do know – I don’t feel anything about her. Utter indifference. Don’t love her, don’t hate her, just… meh.
I am however, totally excited about the Wimbledon rematch between her and Serena. Elena’s game has been known to trouble Serena in the past, but Elena’s also developed a tendency to play horrendously at the tail end of a tournament lately. Only the Tennis Gods know which version of Elena and Serena they’re going to send along to the match tomorrow.
One thing is for certain though – I would love to see a Sharapova v Williams final. It’s been too long.
Mentioning Masha Fierce, her performance at Toronto this week has been the best I’ve seen from her since her return.
For the most part of her 6-2 7-6(5) win over ARad, Masha Fierce was exploding off the ball and whipping Radwandska’s cupcake serves into puddings. The double faults are a little disconcerting still, but the rust is definitely wearing off.
Now, let’s get this semifinal monkey off our back.
Unfortunately, our hopes of a Glittergal v Glamourgal showdown between Shaz and JJ were dashed by Kleybanova, who took out JJ in a 3 hour marathon 6-7 (6), 7-6 (7), 6-2. Credit to Kleybs, who was deceivingly athletic, and went for her shots, amassing over 50 winners for the match.
I haven’t seen her match against Ana Ivanovic at the Australian Open this year, but it’s not hard to see why this girl’s a bit of a giant killer. Gutsy.
JJ faded physically in the third set. Understandably so, she’s played a lot of tennis with some huge match wins over the past few weeks. Getting miffed about line calls certainly made her night even more draining than it had to be.