Tag Archive | Alize Cornet

Frazzle Post: Countdown.

The last week before the Australian Open. 

Overnight, Roger Federer has pulled out of the Kooyong Classic, sparking rumours that his wrist is bothering him more than he’s letting on. Fed’s manager dismissed the claims. Make of that what you will.

Meanwhile, here’s a pic I took last year. *sigh* 

 

 

Nole and del Potro now headline the field in Kooyong, while Jo-Willy Tsonga‘s participation is a little uncertain given his injury.  

It’s a bad week for France all-round. Over in Sydney, Monfils has pulled out of the tournament after being plagued by what appears to be a shoulder inflammation. Birdy, Hewitt, Stan and Samurai will still be there to hold up a less-than-stellar field.

Never mind, Sydney’s all about the girls. Serena, Safina, Sveta, CWoz and Vika will be getting their last minute practice before the Oz Open next week. 

Somehow, it’s just not that exciting without the Belgians.

Over in the tennis wasteland of Hobart, Anabel Medina Garrigues and Shahar Peer are the top two seeds, but Zheng Jie, Lucie Safarova, Alize Cornet and Sori Cirstea should make things interesting.

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USO Day 4: BELIEVE.

Good day at the office for Americans, a day of bloodbaths for the WTA, as its own headlines read: “who let the underdogs out?”

 

 

For all her comforting results this summer, Jelena Jankovic fell second round to Yaroslava Shvedova 6-3 6-7(4) 7-6(6) after holding two match points. During the match, JJ lacked her usual vibrancy and sprint.

And how could she not? She was playing with a heavy heart after learning that her grandmother had passed away the night before.

 

“For my part, I wasn’t really on the court. My grandmother died and I was very close to her. I was very sad and emotionally, I was not really on the court. I was really suffering. I tried to think about my tennis, but, you know, I felt like I was so late and so slow. I couldn’t even watch the ball. That was my problem.”

 

It’s sad to see JJ’s slam season finish on a low point like that, just when she seems to be getting her game back on track. Take a break Cherry, and cut yourself some slack. 

 

Call it double standards, call it whatever you want. But I’m less inclined to cut Dementieva any slack.

As a self-proclaimed non-fan of Dementieva, I must admit I was fairly cynical of her grand slam chances, even after her victory in Toronto. If slam results could be inferred from warm-up tournaments, then Dinara Safina should be sitting on a few slams right now. I stuck a fork in the idea that Lena D would eventually win a slam a while back, and I’m not about to resurrect her now.

 

 

Even so, it’s just not good enough for the World No 4 and a veteran of the tour to be out-gutsed by an injured 17 year old.

Credit to Melanie Oudin though, if you thought she was impressive against JJ at Wimbledon, then her performance in her 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 win over Demmy was something else to behold.

The petite 17 year-old was 90% guts today as she fought back tears, ignored the pain in her injured leg, and played fearless tennis for three sets against one of the more established names currently in women’s tennis.

Oudin certainly lived up to the inscription on her shoe – BELIEVE. If only a few more of the WTA contenders could do the same.

 

 

Q. Talk about the shoes. They say “believe” on them. 
MELANIE OUDIN: Yes.

Q. Is that your saying or somebody’s…
MELANIE OUDIN: Actually, my boyfriend gave me that idea to put on it, and I really liked it. So I put that on my shoe. It seems to fit me well.

 

And fit her, it sure as hell did.

 

Someone who never had any troubles with self-belief: Masha Fierce, who came through a cruising win over another American 17 year old, Christina McHale 6-2 6-1.

The serve is still coming in ebbs and flows, the toss tends to get higher as the match goes on. But Maria had it under control for most of the match except for one service game in the second set. Not that it mattered much, Masha Fierce was just awe-inspiring in her omnipresence on court. 

Thank god the Pova’s back, showing the other clowns how to do it with a stamp of authority.

 

 

Desperately needing a stamp of authority was Dinara Safina, whose 6-7 6-2 6-3 win over the 67th-ranked Kristina Barrois of Germany was just about as laborious as her first round match. 

You really don’t need to hear me say for the gazillionth time how over Safina I am. Contrary to Maratski’s insistence, I’m clearly not the one who needs to go fug herself

 

Tough day for Alize Cornet, whose season has turned from promising to dismal after losing to Zheng Zheng Jie Jie in 3 sets. She does however take the prize for my favourite dress of the Open so far. Very impressed with Lacoste’s gears for the girls this year. 

 

 

More tough luck to Sabine Lisicki, who served for the match against Rodionova at 5-3 in the third, only to lose it 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 and spraining her ankle on match point. For your information, Rodionova is Australian this month, although there’s no telling which flag she’ll play under in her next tournament. And I thought I was indecisive.

 

On the men’s side of things, James Blake won two matches in a row, since … ever. Me likey.

The rest of the top 20 also came safely through. RFed’s childhood friend, Marco Chiudinelli, equalled his best ever slam result by making the third round of the US Open over Youzhny. Swiss tennis’s two-men effort lives on, despite Concubine’s shambolic loss.


crushed bricks, smashed hopes.

Trivia: who in the WTA has the highest winning/loss ratio this year? (answer at the bottom of the post) 

 

Not much I can say about the men’s draw – take a wild guess as to who I think is going to win.

 

The only thing I might add is that the Draw Gods have not been kind – not only is Rafael Nadal the only real contender for the Roland Garros trophy, but he’ll be able to do it without having to face the double hurdle of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. Roger, on the other hand, would have to really earn his spot in the finals if he wants to defend his points there. Either way, I’m not putting anyone straight through to the semifinals at this stage except for Nadal, so I’m not even going to think about Djokovic v Federer until the middle of week 2. 

 

 

 

 

On the other hand, the women’s draw is as open as the men’s draw is closed. Picks are useless, but also damn fun, so here are mine: 

 

 

  1. Dinara Safina: the clear favourite, Safina’s got all the momentum with her, and the determination to prove her worth as the world no 1. Plus I’ve got a new theory: Safina 08-09 = Ivanovic 07-08. Berlin –> Roland Garros finalist –> Australian Open finalist –> Roland Garros winner. See how history works in perfectly repetitive narratives? One slight complication – she has by far the hardest draw out of all the contenders with Azarenka and Ivanovic in her quarter. 
  2. Venus Williams: results will show that Venus hasn’t had the ideal lead-up to Roland Garros, but history will tell you that if your surname was Williams, you don’t need no stinkin’ lead up. Unfortunately, Lisicki second round could complicate things a la Aussie Open.
  3. Svetlana Kuznetsova: you say no, the draw says yes, given that I don’t see Serena getting far with one good leg. 
  4. Caroline Wozniacki: I don’t really see it happening for Caroline to be honest, but it’s a choice of her, JJ and Elena D in that section of the draw, and recent form dictates that I pick her over the other two.

 

 

So not happenin’ for…

 

  • Ana Ivanovic: Ana’s becoming more and more forgettable these days. Get ready to say bye-bye to ranking points. 
  • Jelena Jankovic: if you had asked me who would win Roland Garros 3 months ago, I would’ve picked JJ. She has actually shown signs of improvement in the last few tournaments she’s played, but not enough. I do have a slice of humble pie waiting just in case though. 
  • Victoria Azarenka: she’s hungry, she’s been playing well, but at the end of the day, this is not her surface, not her slam and not the best draw for her. 
  • Vera Zvonareva: I actually wouldn’t be surprised if Vera decided to pull out last minute or retire mid-match along the way. Straight back from injury with no matches under her belt: it’s the kind of thing that Venus Williams does on grass, and Vera Zvonareva is clearly not Venus Williams. 
  • Maria Sharapova: goes without saying. But (and it’s a big ‘but’) – if, in the unlikely event, she managed to get past Nadia Petrova, fourth round would be doable.  

 

 

Grooming the Dark Horses

 

  • Carla Suarez-Navarro
  • Sabine Lisicki
  • Alize Cornet
  • Amelie Mauresmo
  • Anna Chakvetadze
  • Nicole Vaidisova

 

 

***

 

Australian tennis is no longer worth analysing these days, simply because … well, Australian tennis doesn’t quite exist. But if anyone’s interested in the Aussies: bad news all round – Hewitt against old nemesis Karlovic first round (I believe Lleyton is 0-3 against the Croat). Should he get past Karlovic, he’s got the Spanish Terminator himself in the third round waiting. Wild card Bernard Tomic is up against Kohlschreiber first round. Dead meat.

Jarmila Groth (formerly Gajdosova) facing Kinnie Laisne of France and most likely Chakvedatze second round. Dokic v Sprem (and should she get past first round, which she most likely won’t – Elena Dementieva awaits) and Sam Stosur up against Francesca Schiavone

 

Trivia answer: Vera Zvonareva (.833). Half a mark if you answered Victoria Azarenka.

 

 

Larceny Alert.

Thief! Who stole Roger Federer’s forehand? It was YOU Juan Monaco. Oh yeth … feel the death glares of my Federeralist jury. We hereby find you guilty as charged, now give it back to Roger! 

 

Seriously though, I tuned in during the third set of Murray v Monaco, and floved every minute of Juan’s fearless play. But a short note on Andy Murray – I’m eating my slice of humble pie this week after backing him to win Rome in tennis tipping. Now we just need Novak Djokovic to fall before the finals for all my freaktastic predictions to go awry. In my defence, the style of play Andy brought to the second set against Rafa in Monte Carlo showed me at least that he could potentially do well on this surface – playing aggressively, attacking more and cracking the ball the way he does on a hard court. Living up to this potential, however, is another matter. The mind is a tricky thing, and the Andy Murray of yesterday slightly resembled the moody prepubescent teenage boy he used to be prior to last year. 

 

Other thoughts for the day

Ernests Gulbis is starting to disappoint me. A string of first round exists of late has made him rather forgettable. But thumbs up for making it past Almagro before losing to Reeshie in 3. 

 

Richard Gasquet has won 2 matches in a row, on the same day no less. I believe it’s best that I continue ignoring him.

 

Also ‘ignoring’ Roger Federer who scored a victory over Dr Ivo sans tiebreaks. As boring as you like.  

 

The big news on the WTA side of things is that Victoria Azarenka went out to Gisela Dulko. But actually there’s not much to it – Vika was just coming back from an injury, and Dulko on clay is no pushover, quite the opposite in fact – as a member of Team Dootsie’s dark horses for the WTA clay season. 

 

In other news: Alize Cornet, has lost back to back matches against Daniela Hantuchova on clay. Meanwhile Lisicki continues to her funky ways, infecting the tennis world with her happy fist pumps and a 64 63 win over Patty Schnyder.

 

JJ destroyed Dominika Cibulkova 61 61, how much of it was because JJ played good tennis and how much was because Dominika’s on a slippery slope down is debatable. Nevertheless, I take this as a good sign that she’s on the up again. After her disastrous winter/Australian hard court season, I was tempted to drop JJ from my Clay Season All Stars, but she’s tentatively raising her form again, and I wish her the best of luck in defending her Rome title for the zillionth time next week. So long as she gets her movement back before Roland Garros, I like her chances of winning her first slam.

 

What’s going on with Anna Chakvetadze? Like Cornet, she suffered back-to-back pwnage by her Fed Cup conquerer – Flavia Pennetta. Back in the day, I used to be quite fond of Anna, before she turned into an insecure, emotional powderpuff on me.

Beating the Clay-Monster Crunch.

Proof that TNSMF reads this blog – he got a wild card to Monte Carlo. And his website now has a retro 70s orange background. I feel rejuvenated already. 

 

That is however not the topic of this post. As much as I love TMF and on occasion TNSMF too, watching Roger on clay, or any other player on clay for that matter, just doesn’t get me excited these days. 

 

A clay-loathing Federer fan? Surely not! To be fair, my lack of love for the clay has nothing to do with Federer’s utter inability to win a certain clay court slam. I just don’t have the patience for the style of play the surface brings out in players, nor do I (or the rest of the English speaking world) give a damn about the group of players that traditionally emerge around this time of the year before fading into obscurity by July. These days however, no player could be properly referred to as a ‘clay courter’ in light of what Rafael Nadal has managed to achieve on this surface, and depending on what he goes on to accomplish from here – perhaps no player could ever be (though I’d give Chris Evert a pass on that one for the girls’ side of things). 

 

Karma’s a bitch isn’t it. For years I’ve scoffed at people who claimed tennis was “boring” because some potato-nose from Switzerland was winning every single title under the sun. Now that the coin’s flipped, it ain’t nearly as funny. Sorry Rafa, Mr. too-nice-a-guy-for-me-not-to-like, I’m opting to turn a half a blind eye to the ATP clay season this year. Actually would you mind if we mailed the trophies out to you and move on?

 

 

The Clay Monster's coming...

The Clay Monster's coming...

 

 

So instead of agonising over the predictability of ATP tennis, I’m going to channel all my frustrated tennis angst into the only other option available – the WTA. Oh yeth… I fear for my mental fortitude too. Can someone explain to me how on earth Dinara Safina got to the No 1 spot? Gee Roger wishes he was born a girl right now. 

 

But it could actually be fun: I started doing a list of possible contenders and breakouts, before realising that anyone, and I mean ANYONE could manage to scrape a few titles during the clay season this year, and this include the priziest title of them all.

 

Picket Fence WTA Clay Season League

  • Venus Williams: so I keep picking Venus this year. As a fan of the House of Williams, I tend to swing between Venus and Serena in terms of which of the sisters I love more. Right now, I am feeling this vibe of calm focus from Venus which I find incredibly endearing. She’s not known for her clay court prowess, but she’s known for brilliant tennis in general. Fingers crossed I’m right about her. 
  • Serena Williams: sans injury – the strongest contender. Less than 100% fitness – expect early upset. 
  • Elena Dementieva: not sure about Dementieva’s latest performances at Indian Wells and Miami. But given her results in the first few months of the season, take the Williamses out of the equation and I’d have her down as the big contender. Particularly on clay since she’s clearly confident on the surface, and one of the best players along the baseline.
  • Dinara Safina: I have so much suppressed rage right now about the No 1 spot I don’t even want to comment. Except to say that it’s harder staying there than getting there. Not sure that I see it happening for her this season. Would love to be wrong though.  
  • JJ: a few months ago, ask me who I would pick to win Roland Garros this year, and I probably would’ve gone with JJ. But since then, JJ’s movement seems to have lost that fluidity and lightness. And for someone who depends so much on her movement around the court, this is worrying. And then there’s the slight problem of the AWOL happy splits, you don’t need to read self-help books to figure that happy things happen to happy people, and Jelena is just a bag of misery right now…   (I do however wish her luck in Marbella this week now that Serena is out.) 
  • Ana: okay, so I’m going to contradict what I just said and state once and for all that I can’t handle this much psychedelic happiness from Ana Ivanovic. Sorry Ana fans, but someone hand her a lemon. I like my female tennis players fierce and bold, or just inappropriately bitchy. This girl-next-door thing doesn’t fit well within my Tennis Universe. Pride and prejudice aside, in Dubai and Indian Wells, Ana Ivanovic has shown signs of coming back from whatever Wonderland she wandered off to after Roland Garros 2008, but do I think she’s back for good? Hardly.   
  • Caroline Wozniacki: she’s definitely due for a breakthrough. Technically, there is no reason why Woz can’t do well this clay season, but mentally (and strategically), can she pull it off? I’m not convinced. But I am starting to warm to her, “Danish Delight” indeed.  
  • Victoria Azarenka: Vika is going to win a grand slam someone day, mental implosions aside, but Roland Garros ain’t the place where it’s going to happen. She moves better than Sharapova, but that’s not to say she’s as athletic or quick as some of her contemporaries. And her ground strokes are probably a little too flat for the clay, although these days, it’s BYO game for all surfaces.  You never know. 
  • Agniewska Radwanska: I have the same concern with Radwanska as many did with Hingis (though I do think the comparison between them is overdone and premature), and that is power. Clay however has a rather equalizing effect. I have nothing substantial to prove that Agniewska has the ability to do well on clay – her best results have come on grass and hard court – but it’s just a hunch. She’s speedy, she’s fairly solid along the baseline. She clearly thinks on court, which is more than I can say about some of the players on this list.  
  • Amelie Mauresmo: Amelie Mauresmo is one of my role models on the WTA tour – she’s a grand slam champion, she’s a big-hearted person, she’s clearly intelligent for anyone who knows about the French current affairs show she attended last year, she lives life to the full – playing tennis, skiing, wine tasting. So her inclusion on the list is more of a desire on my part to wish good things on her in the latter stages of her career. I know we’d all like to see Momo play her “A tennis” again, because her “A tennis” is simply a thing of beauty. Having said all that, how about a Roland Garros doubles title with Kuzzy? 
  • Alize Cornet: I have the strangest girl crush on Alize. She is just this feisty, delightful doll that I want to fold up and pop into my pocket. Like I said, with its equalising effect, clay is one of those surfaces that could make Alize dangerous, and it’s also a surface that she’s clearly very confident on, given her run to the finals in Rome last year. Fingers crossed.  
  • Someone from Spain: Oh not again. 
  • I feel terrible, it took me past “someone from Spain” before I remembered a top seed, and certainly a contender, that I have yet to mention – Vera Zvonareva. In my mind, I still haven’t quite taken her out of the “Tier II” category I had originally assigned her. But knowing Vera, she’ll come out firing and kick me in the ass for that.
  • Flavia Pennetta: she sure can play on clay. I don’t see a grand slam in her, but a semifinal? A few more clay court titles? Or perhaps taking down a few top seeds along the way? Absolutely. 
  • Gisela Dulko? Agnes Szavay? Sara Errani? 

 

Image Credit: I haven no idea actually, a tennis loving friend of mine posted it on my facebook wall, so credit to her. Though it did have a rather unpleasant side effect of scaring off my non-tennis loving friends.

Week 1 Wrap Up – Part 1: Ready? Setty? Go!

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Congratulations to the ATP on this fabulous concept, let the race begin!

 

I’m starting my weekly wrap-up early this week, mainly because I’ve watched a lot of tennis over the last few days. With so much tennis played over different time zones from Qatar to New Zealand this week, according to my calculations, on Tuesday, Planet Earth clocked about 21 hours of non-stop tennis. Personally, the TV in my room’s being left on for about 6-10 hours a day while I’m on holidays, eating watermelons and watching tennis. Forget about easing your way into a new year – let’s start it with a bang. 

 

So what’s Week 1 of 2009 tennis bringing to the table? 

 

For starters – 3 dominant themes of this week (hopefully not of 2009 as a whole)

1. France, France, France – Viva la France!

A commentator (Fred Stolle I think) pointed out this week that France has almost 30 men and women inside their respective Top 100s this year, the most out of any country in the world. But if you were watching tennis week, it probably felt like more than that. At the Brisbane International, out of the 16 men’s and women’s quarterfinalists, 6 of them were from France alone. Over in Perth, Alize Cornet and Gilles Simon are treated like rock stars as the No 3 seeds at the Hopman Cup. And in Qatar, Monfils makes headlines as he upsets Nadal, while Santoro makes them for just hanging around to win a game. Needless to say, the French must be doing something right with their juniors, because it’s the Golden Age of French Tennis, folks. America and Australia, take note. 

 

2. The Welcome Back Party

The great thing about Week 1 is that no matter what happened in 2008, 2009 is at least full of optimism and hope. That hope, of course, can be quickly dashed as voices of doubt arise and things quickly settle (or unsettle), but for at least a few brief days, 2009 lives up to its promise of being better than the one before. 

 

Another great thing about this week is that all the players who went out early last year because of injuries, mental implosions or just sheer tennis irrelevance are back in action. Want names? Rusty, Casey D, Gasquet, Safin, Safarova (remember her?), Baghdatis, Hrbaty, Jelena Dokic, oh, and did I mention – Rafael Nadal? With the exception of Rafa, I have just one question for the rest of those I mentioned – are you back? or are you back

 

3. And the top seeds go tumbling out….

Remember the good old days when the top seeds stuck around for the semifinals and the final? But not this week. Rust, injuries, bad form, new racquets, problems adjusting back to life on tour were all cited as causes of their subpar performance, but really, I don’t hear their conquerors complainin’. It’s not like the top seeds were the only ones who went for an 8 week break. The highest seeds still left in the draws on this beautiful Saturday morning – Hot Sauce (Verdasco), No 3 seed at the Brisbane International, Marin Cilic, No 3 in Chennai, Murray and Roddick, respectively No 3 and 4 in Doha.

A few honourable exceptions – Victoria Azarenka (Baby Sharapova) , and Elena D, no 2 in Brisbane and no 1 in Auckland respectively – did hold up under pressure and make it all the way to the finals.  More on the top seeds later, but it was a disappointing effort from the group of them. Go hang your heads in shame.

 

The Hot-or-Nots of this week

 

Hot: the Hopman Cup 

I have a confession to make: I’m in love with the Hopman Cup.

A little OTT perhaps, but I’ve always thought of the Hopman Cup as a bit of a useless tournament. The only reason I started following it this week was because of the extended tennis drought in the offseason. But in time, I grew to love this unique tournament and everything about it – the format, the mixed doubles (where else can you find almost 10,000 people watching a mixed doubles match?), the way it brings out some of the less noted players and give them a chance to play in front of a big crowd. I love the Hopman Cup ball, the off court goss; I love its underdogs (read: Slovakia, Chinese Taipei); Lucy Hopman, the widow of Harry Hopman, who flew from the US to London, London to Singapore and Singapore to Perth just to come to the tournament, I even that little old lady who apparently turns up to tennis each year with her knitting needles. Oh, and did I mention those gorgeous diamond encrusted trophies? There’s such an amazing atmosphere at the tournament and I can’t believe I only gave it a chance this year. I’ve never been to Perth, but I might just go for a holiday there towards the end of 2009 and catch a bit of action after all the sightseeing. 

 

A little disappointed that Russia did not get its fairy tale ending, but who would’ve thought Slovakia would be such a great competitor. They thoroughly deserved their win.

 

Not Hot: the US of A joins the top seed hit list

Seriously, sif getting cleansweeped by Slovakia first tie. Just goes to show the strength of American tennis without the Sisters. As for James Blake, he did look like he was getting back into the rhythm of things by the end of the week. Do I think he’ll be able to defend his quarterfinal at the Australian? Yeahhhummmmmn…no. 

 

Hot: Don’t knock on the Dok

Uhuh, Jelena Dokic, she’s back… kinda, okay, not quite. 

Those who watched her match against Mauresmo this week probably thought she deserved to win that day. The familiar pattern of the match was that Jelena dominated most of the baseline rallies, at times even overpowering Mauresmo. But the problem was that Dokic was still the same neurotic player that she was back in her teens. As soon as she got into a lead, she started double faulting, going for too much, and making a ton of unforced errors to give back the break. Whether that’s matter of match fitness or mental fitness remains to be seen. 

Going back to my previous question? Is she back or is she back? Let’s just say that I do expect her to pull an upset sometime this year, but beyond that is really up to her. 

 

Not Hot: “Aussie” Ana Mania

On with the top seed casualties…

Branding Ana Ivanovic as “not hot” is always a little strange, especially after we’ve been inundated with her Rolex ads, magazine covers and Anando paparazzi photos this summer (winter if you’re reading in the Northern Hemisphere). It might be a little hypocritical of me to criticise Ana here, after all, I’ve always defended Sharapova when it came to similar criticisms, but Sharapova’s always competed at the highest level, hardly ever exiting before the semifinals of a tournament when she’s healthy. Ivanovic on the other hand, has made one semifinal after her Roland Garros win last year. She’s still ranked No 5, but if she doesn’t pull herself together right about now, she’s going to drop even further down the rankings. 

Oh, and seriously get over it! She’s not Australian. 

 

Hot (or maybe just lukewarm): the Importance gets a win

I hesitate to put Ernie Gulbis in here. Sure he got his first big win over the Big … Four, and careeerwise, it’s gotta give him a lot of confidence, but like he said so accurately himself, he’s had a lot more “beautiful losses”. So while this was his biggest win to date, it was by no means his best tennis. Still, a win’s a win, and this was probably the biggest story of the week, and that’s hot. 

The strange thing about Gulbis is that while he’s relatively unknown outside the Tennis World, he’s practically achieved boyband lead singer status within. I guess having a baby face helps. He’s due to play Auckland next week, after pulling out of Kooyong (boohoo Ernie).

 

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“It’s not the end of the world, it’s the first match, so I’m still trying not to be very pessimistic.” Sure Djoker, but you’re not trying very hard.  

 

Not Hot: rust, dangerous opponent, new racquets, jetlag…not my problem

Above are the reasons Novak Djokovic cited for his loss – it couldn’t possibly be because he just sucked.  Okay, let me rephrase – I’m aware that I can be a little harsh on the Djoker – it couldn’t possibly be because Novak Djokovic did not look like he wanted to win the match that day, nor did he look like he was ever prepared to fight for it. In short, Djokovic behaved like he didn’t give a damn. Disappointing to say the least. Many players who are lower ranked, more injured or physically tired this week put in epic efforts to try and win their matches (Julie Coin for example).

My adversity towards Djokovic isn’t due to all his talks, his impersonations or even his family, it’s because of his tendency to just give up when things aren’t going his way. Monte Carlo last year was an example, US Open was another. Perhaps he’s feeling the pressure of having the most points out of the top 3 to defend up to the clay season this year, who knows? I certainly hope he starts to look like he cared sometime soon. 

 

Hot: Rusty back in action

Yup yup, he won 2 out of 3 singles matches at the Hopman Cup, in the third match which he lost to Blake, there seemed to be some sort of ear problem affecting his balance, which reminded me eerily of Alicia Molik. But overall, I think it was a great week for Rusty considering he’s been out of action since August last year. 

There was a time when I used to hate Lleyton Hewitt for all his antics, but I must say, the guy’s really mellowed out with the whole “family man” thing, and there’s something endearing about a player who’s completely focused on really making the last leg of his career count. 

 

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Not Hot: Nadal in sleeves

See Nike? Give Rafa back his sleeveless shirts and piratas, he’s no longer scaring people! 

Frankly, even though Nadal lost to Monfils, there was very little to it. Not that Monfils didn’t play brilliantly, but to put it in perspective, Rafa hasn’t played since Paris (Abu Dhabi not withstanding), his first two rounds were both easy beatdowns, which I think actually hurt him. Those first two matches didn’t take him out of his comfort zone, nor did they help build up his match fitness, so when he came up against Monfils, he was ill prepared for the level of play that Monfils brought with him that day.

On a different note – Federer and Nadal entered 5 tournaments together from Monte Carlo to Wimbledon last year, and played each other 4 times in the finals, but since Wimbledon, they’ve entered 8 tournaments (the exho included) together, and haven’t played each other once. It’s almost painful.

 

 

Not Scary

Not scary in sleeves, and yes, that is a cat on a tennis court

 

 

Hot: the MaraNara

Marat and Dinara are just gorgeous together. As I said, it’s a pity they couldn’t win. Safin actually looked like he was in relatively good form until I commented on his two straight-set wins. From then on, he lost two matches in a row, relatively close both times, but that’s Safin for ya. 

In any case, I don’t know where I got the idea that Safin and Safina didn’t get along, they looked great together at the Hopman. Dinara clearly adores her older brother, and she’s growing on me, that girl. 

 

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Not Hot: Roger Federer who?

Go away.

I don’t want to talk about you. Mr Let-me-win-the-first-set-Mandy-then-you-can-have-the-rest. You played like crap. 

Feel my contempt. 

(the only thing more worthy of my contempt is the reaction of some of the fans, it’s either utter denial or doomsday prophesies, feel my contempt there too.)

 

 

Hot: Flavia la Flabulous

I thought Flavia Pennetta really shone this week in the mixed doubles at Hopman, the girl took on Safin during the mixed tie against Russia and won the majority of points with a wry smile. Take that Marat!

 

Not Hot: Jo-Willy Tsonga

Tsonga’s fast becoming my second favourite player after that Imploder who lost to Murray for the fifth time overnight, but his form this week was just not hot. He should’ve had easy wins against Calleri and Nieminen, but he didn’t. And last night, he lost to an ex-fave of mine, a guy who I’m secretly observing but openly ignoring this year (can you blame me? I lost too much hair over him last year). And in case anyone cared, his conqueror is still in the draws, so I’m refraining from commenting. Fingers crossed I didn’t just jinx him.

But back to Tsonga, he’s due to play Sydney next week with the Djoker. Are they both wilting a little bit under the pressure of last year’s success? To quote Rafa,  “we gonna see.” 

 

 

I still love the hair and the smile though.

I love the new hair though.

 

 

Other hots or nots of the week

  • Hot: Lisicki’s fiest
  • Not: Davyenko’s injury
  • Hot: Nishikori’s second big win
  • Not: Kiefer’s freak accident 
  • Hot: Alize Cornet, period. 
  • Not: Gilles Simon’s hair, but he’s dealt with that already.
  • Hot: Hrbaty changing retirement plans, says he’s prepared to play til 2012, oh, and run a few marathons along the way
  • Not: uncertainty over Masha. 😦  

 

Part Two coming re the guys and gals still left in the draws. On with my rant!

Fashion: Pssst… what are they wearing?

With the Australian Open just around the corner, I thought I’d take a moment to investigate what the players are wearing for the Australian Open and US winter hard courts – the hits, the misses and the downright fugly.

 

Honourable Mentions

Roger Federer

Starting with the posterboy for tennis fashion, Federer and Nike got it right again for the Australian Open this year by going with purple for the day outfit, and Darth Federer Take 2 for night. I said before that I’m quite sick of Federer in navy blue, so purple is a welcomed change, and something that he hasn’t done before. I also have a thing for white shorts, so I think the whole ensemble looks fantastic. And the purple details down the side of the shorts prevent them from looking too simple. 

 

Unlike Nadal, Federer has kept his AO outfit relatively mysterious by wearing his Masters Cup outfit to Abu Dhabi, but the photoshopped pictures look promising.

 

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Somewhat less enthusiastic about the night outfit. While I liked the all black Darth Federer US Open outfit in 2007, I’m not too sure about the fabrics used for this one, especially for the shorts. The whole thing looks a little mismatched. 

 

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Maria Sharapova

Like Federer, Maria Sharapova almost always gets it right with her outfits, especially at the slams. Assuming that she plays the Australian Open, this is the outfit she’ll be wearing – not a fan of this particular shade of yellow, but the design is gorgeous, especially the dark coloured frills. 

 

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Adidas gets it right, at last

Just when I thought Adidas is incapable of making an outfit that I like, they come up with something quite special for their boys. This is what the likes of Simon and Tsonga will be wearing for the Australian Open. I love the contrast between black and yellow. Adidas has come up with some quite funky colours for the men’s shorts – yellow this year, as well as the fluro green shorts last season. Good stuff. 

 

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Caroline Wozniacki

Depending on her performance this year, Woz could easily become the new It-girl for Adidas, and it seems that Adidas has already realised that. I have a feeling Wozniacki would look good in a plastic bag, but this is actually quite a good outfit, the design suits her body, and the colours suit her skin tone without being too boring.

 

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The Lacoste Girls

Lacoste probably takes out the Best Skirt award for the girls. The picture doesn’t do it justice, but I just love the colour. 

 

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What were they thinking? 

But what fun is fashion when people just get it right all the time? Here as the fashion misses of Australian Open (so far).

 

Shock? Horror? Disgust? Or just strategically wrong wrong wrong? Rafa does sleeves. 

What was Nike thinking? Seriously? This is actually worse than the sleeved polo Rafa wore to Arthur Ashe Kids Day. For starters, the colours are just revolting, it’s like Nike couldn’t decide which particular colour scheme to go with Nadal, so they opted for bright blue, white, pink, and fluro green (wristband, bandana and shoes) all at the same time. The design isn’t too bad, as I said, it’s just not Nadal. The equivalent crime would be if John McEnroe of the 80s started straightening his hair, or if Federer went sleeveless, and Pete Sampras got dreadlocks.

 

Both the night version and the version Nadal wore to Abu Dhabi looked slightly better colour-wise, but all in all, Nike tried to do too much. 

 

 

Serena the Pink Panther?

Serena Williams is not a “pink person”. Red? Yes. Black? Yes. Fluro? Purple? Deep striking colours? Yes! But pink? And this particular “strawberry lollipop” pink? God save Serena Williams.

And the colour is not the only thing wrong with this dress, afterall, there is a yellow version of the dress which looks much better. But the design itself is doomed to fail. It looks alright on the model, but on Serena Williams?  With her broad shoulders, big biceps, bust, hips … she would just burst through the dress. This is a dress made more for a smaller build, the Alize Cornets and MariKiris of this world. 

 

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Ana Ivanovic

I personally don’t know what do say about this dress. On the catalogue pictures, it didn’t look too bad. The asymmetrical cut certainly looked interesting. But this is another case of something looking better in theory than in practice, because when Ana turned up to Doha last year in this, the biggest flaw of the dress was revealed – it had no shape. It didn’t hug Ana’s body, it just sagged around it. 

 

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Novak Djokovic

I have mixed feelings about what Novak Djokovic is wearing. The top is fine, though I have my theory of Novak Djokovic’s form when he’s wearing white. But the shorts are about the same colour as my mum’s dead pot plants. Horrible colour matched by equally saggy looking fabric. The night outfit looks the same, but it’s all black, with yellow lining around the v-neck collar, much safer option.

 

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Dinara Safina: Get Yer Own Clothes

This is the picture that Adidas released for Safina for the AO season, looks familiar? 

 

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Give us some creativity Adidas.