The day started off with 2 unfortunate retirements… Feli (Pulled muscle) and Dancevic (Lower back)…and with that the Roland Garros 2012 casualty list was off to a great start.
Our wonder boy Wogie McFudd was second out on Suzanne Lenglen…up against German Tobias Kamke. I missed the first half of the match due to mandatory nommage of birthday cake bought for Dad, but the last half which I did see consisted of:
yes kitteh…it was kinda horribleh
1. How do you solve a problem like Maria?
Okay. I geddit. It’s the W-friggin-TA. If I freaked out every time a top seed got booted out of a tournament by a nobody, life would be like a neverending reenactment of the Ring.
But you just could not have watched Maria Sharapova lose to Greta Arn mid-week and not fumbled for an asthma inhaler. All credit to Greta Arn, who survived a match point in the second round before booting 4 seeded opponents in a row and winning the biggest tournament of her career: her run this week has been a display of tenacity and inspiration. Even my cold, bleak, calcified heart softened a little at the sight of her kneeling in victory after the biggest win of her career today.
But even if we were to take this “giving the giant-slayer their due” thing to the utmost limit, we cannot deny the worrying signs here for Sharapova, in straight sets to a 31 year old journey-woman more than 7 years her senior, with a career high ranking of 81.
This is her third defeat to a player outside the top 50 … in a row.
The Cow On Ice may not be the smoothest mover out there, but she was sluggish all week even by her humble standards.
What befuzzles me beyond anything is why Sharapova asked for a wild card to Sydney only to turn it down last minute. If she seriously considered playing a second tournament before the Open in Sydney, she obviously wanted to be match-fit for the Australian Open. Why change your mind just when you’ve suffered an early defeat?
Unless there is some unpublicised injury, I cannot fathom Sharapova’s logic here.
2. Roger Federer has made 8 straight semifinals in a row since Wimbledon. In his last 10 tournaments, he has only failed to make the final twice.
INCONSIDERATE DOUCHEBAG. I had just gotten into the habit of abusing Federbear whenever he lost early in tournaments.
Not much to say about McFed’s play this week: he played 8 sets, won 8 of them. 3 tiebreaks, won all 3 of them. He’s been broken once since Abu Dhabi and hasn’t faced a break point in 2 matches (granted, he hasn’t played a returner like Kolya). In other words, he’s done enough to sail on smoothly each match.
Bizarrely, the more competitive and high quality matches were the two played against players ranked outside the top 100 – Schoorel and Chiudinelli. I get sick of hearing about the “depth” on the men’s tour as much as anyone, but you know where I’m going with this.
Onto more delicious topics … here’s a picture of a banana milkshake.
Here is another.
3. Justine Henin went to great lengths to talk down her chances at the Australian Open during the off-season, to the extent that at the start of last week, I was just hoping for a few tough wins from her in Perth.
A week later, she has won all 4 of her matches in straight sets. In the last two matches of hers I’ve watched against Ivanovic and Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Juju has been nothing short of pants-jizzingly turned on. Ivanovic and BMSocks played some of the best tennis I’ve ever seen from them. But like the pint-sized vixen she is, not only had Henin deflected every attack thrown at her with interest, she did it with such style and calmness.
Down 2 set points in the first set tiebreak to BMSocks? Here’s a drop shot. There you go, a smash. And all of a sudden, Henin had turned a 6-4 tiebreak into a 8-6 win. BMSocks regrouped in the second set, hit hard, ran harder. Her black socks turning into a wheel-shaped blur as she zoomed across the baseline, blasting her way to a 3-1 lead.
For a second, you allow yourself to imagine this match going to 3 sets, before you issue a formal apology to the entire nation of Belgium, because from 3-2 in the second set, seemingly out of nowhere, Henin soared into her “happy place”. Every point from then on was constructed; every shot had a purpose; every forehand felt entitled to its own angle, and 9 out of 10 points finished with a winner or a forced error.
Pleasure to behold.
4. BMSocks grows on you.
Tennisticaly inconsistent. Fashion sinner. Tattoos. Socks. Nothing about her fits in my perfect tennis vision, which is inevitably why I like her. BMSocks is about 87.5% heart, and the fact that some of her most memorable wins have come while representing her country says a lot about where that heart lies.
And you won’t find a more happy-go-lucky gal anyway on the vaginal part of the tennis tour. This one goes straight into the Bethanie Mattek Socks’ Hall of Fame.
Well? Rock on, Soxies.
5. The Herald Sun headline read: “Ill Rafael Nadal’s shock defeat at Doha delays his trip to Australia”
And hence, I have a problem.
a) Nadal has lost to Kolya the last 4 times they’ve played. Upset? Yes. Shock defeat? Well … you know how the Herald Sun caters to a delicate and easily startled readership.
b) You would think that Nikolay at least deserved a mention somewhere.
c) Tough luck for Rafa, who should be given credit for trying to finish the match and doing justice to the spectators and to his opponent. But in all honesty, I can’t say I didn’t think his decision crossed the line between “honourable” and “masochist”. The earlier you pull out of a tournament, the more rest you give yourself to recover, the less burden on the tournament you place, and the less likely you are to pass the illness onto someone else in the locker room.
To play through a match while visibly ill may have been the principled thing to do, but for the spectators, there was little pleasure to be derived; for the media, there was little credit to be given to Kolya (who in fact did deserve much credit); and for Kolya, he was placed in an awkward position of not being able to truly celebrate something worth celebrating.
Much respect to Rafa for principle, but I’m just not sure his decision to play through the week and in particular – the match yesterday was the product of rational thinking.
6. One of the Australian Open “Changing Ends” film festival entry. I LAUGHED SO HARD I transfigured myself into a squirrel.
And a happy weekend to you too, my DAAAHlings.
As the American media will no doubt cover USA’s inspired victory over Russia, I’d like to congratulate the Australian Fed Cup team on thrashing Ukraine 5-0 to put our country back in the World Group, on ANZAC Day to boot! Our girls are real troopers, yes they are! Skippy the kangaroo for y’all!
Italy, USA, Belgium, yer all going down-wown-wown-wown-wown next year. Just you wait til Dootsie starts the smacktalk and the irritatingly bogan ‘oi oi oi’ thing. JUST YOU WAIT.
Over in Rome, Italy is the ‘Spain’ of Fed Cup, as Flavia Pennetta closed out the third match against Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic to put her team through to its 4th Fed Cup final in 5 years.
Meanwhile, Bethany Mattek-Sands became the unlikely hero of the weekend in Birmingham Ala, finding just enough tenacity and just enough determination in her to win both the singles rubber to save US from defeat, then the doubles match, executed with a look of determination.
Of course determination is a lot easier to muster up when you have Lizel Huber to fall back on as your partner.
There you have it – the Fed Cup final will once again be decided between Italy and the USA. One, a team of seasoned and stylish veterans, known for their maturity and creativity on-court. The other, a somewhat mismatched team of fashion gurus, pit bull terriers and the Queen of doubles, united by a common inspiration.
Who else is a little intrigued this year?
In other world group play-offs: France and the Slovak Republic will be joining Australia in the World Group next year, as they defeated Germany and Serbia by a slim 3-2 advantage yesterday.
In Belgium, victory was assured but the mood was gloomy. The so-called “dream team” came down in a flash as injuries plagued Henin and Clijsters. The one-pinkied Justine was shocked by Kaia Kanepi in 3 sets, while Kim pulled out of her singles rubber with a foot muscle tear which could see her sidelined for 6 weeks.
Yup. You read it right – 6 weeks, French Open included. Clijsters however isn’t giving up hope.
“When the doctor tells you six weeks, then you start panicking. [But] I am someone who heals reasonably fast.”
But as far as the Fed Cup was concerned, Wicky could always be counted on to uplift the team in a time of trouble.
On the penis side of things, Fernando Verdasco defeated Robin Soderling 63 46 63 to clinch the title in Barcelona.
The optimists amongst you might think he’s headed on a road of good form leading – as all roads do – to Rome. Not sure that I buy that yet.
Dasco’s wins this week have been the result of tenacity more so than authority, lethargy more than energy, and the constant reminder of injuries creeping up on him rather than a happy concoction of health, form and state of mind that some players (read: Nadal) need to go on a tear.
In other words, I’m not convinced about Nando’s chances in Rome, Madrid and Paris yet. But for now? There is still time to enjoy the champagne.
As for the unfortunate loser, Abu Dhabi 2010, Indian Wells, Miami, Barcelona: all respectable results, some close matches, a lot of expectations raised and dashed.
I can’t explain how Bobby Sod, the man who pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the last decade, can’t seem to find the ‘go-getter’ in him in key matches, but I still am expecting another wow-moment from him at some point this year.
Don’t let me down, Soddybums.
Fact: the WTA is my fashion hell.
Please tell me this was not made from her wedding dress?
Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Bethanie Mattek-Sands lost to Nadia Petrova, 63 36 63, though her victor was just as fashionistically-challenged as her. Whoever’s designing Nad’s dress clearly wasn’t fired after Wimbledon.
It’s Sharapova v Petrova next round: will Maria score another inspired victory? Or will Nadia find her marbles in lost property and pull off a win?
AP Photo/Paul Sakuma
Things aren’t going much better ftennis-wise over at the Istanbul 😛 players party, where it became clear that foot-tan was much needed, along with a comb for poor old Patty.
And yeah that’s right, organisers, put the ones who didn’t read the dress code in the middle.
This came from the Wimbledon blog, thought I might give them a crack just for fun. What say you?
So here we go… Five Wimbledon Questions
Earliest Wimbledon memory? Oh dear, don’t actually remember … I have a series of vague impressions from 2001 onwards of Wimbledon finals, but can’t tell you much apart from those vague impressions. Ah – those moody teenage days…
The earliest match I could actually recall would be the 2004 Wimbledon women’s final between Serena and Maria.
Favourite match? These questions are deceivingly hard. In all three of my favourite Wimbledon men’s matches, I was on the losing side of the fence – 2001 Wimbledon final between Rafter and Ivanisevic, 2008 R16 between Murray and Gasquet, and of course the 2008 final between Fed and Rafa.
So I’m going to pick a women’s match – the 2005 final between Venus and Lindsay, the one a decade earlier – the 1995 final between Steffi and ASV ain’t bad either, though I only watched it in hindsight.
Best dressed player? Bethanie Mattek! Okay I kid, I kid… must I answer?
The infinitely dashing Sire Jacket, Mr RFed. Although Andre Agassi would give him a run for his money in the attitude department.
Dream doubles partner? Martina Hingis. There was a time when the best doubles team in the world was Martina Hingis and whoever she was playing with. Pat Rafter for men’s, because he’s Pat Rafter.
Secret Wimbledon crush? Roger doesn’t count – there’s nothing ‘secret’ about it. That takes Marat out too. So … Goran Ivanisevic? Zheng Jie for the girls.