Oh hullo, lovelies! How’s Zombie Jesus weekend treating you all?
It’s been a while since I’ve properly had time to check in on tennis and within that time, Rafa has taken his 70-billionth Monte Carlo title; Ferrer has firmly established himself as the second best clay courter of the season thus far; and Wogie has gone McDodgie on us all again, as another semifinals-or-better streak bit the dust on the terre battue.
Which leads me to my point:
SEVEN BREAK POINTS? SEVEN FUCKING BREAK POINTS?! DID YOU THINK I WAS NOT CAPABLE OF DELAYED RAGE? DID YOU THINK THAT I WOULD JUST – oh I dunno – “LET IT GO”?
WELL YOU THOUGHT WRONG! *tosses a Federbear into a clowder of feral cats*
Phewww! Don’t mind me. Just had to get my acidic, corrosive RAAGE out there. Now that I feel much better, please let us continue:
There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know. – the eloquent wisdom of Donald Rumsfeld, Our Great Teacher of What-Not-To-Be-In-Life.
What do Volandri, Stepanek, Wawrinka, Montanes and Melzer have in common? It seems that in every clay season since 2007, Roger Federer has given us one of those unknown-unknowns of tennis losses – unpredictable, random, dispirited, and in all sense of that word – a genuine upset.
But while the opponent in these losses may be an unknown-unknown each season, the pattern of loss is known-known:
- tightly contested sets, often featuring tiebreaks or multiple breakpoints on both sides, all of which Federer would inevitably lose with the kind of frustrating calm that makes you want to PUNCH HIM where the future of Swiss tennis is stored;
- a spirited opponent, looking comfortable, if not confident for the majority of the match
- B-level game, nothing to warrant total doom or direness (Montanes notwithstanding) but nonetheless, the kind of tennis Federer brings to these occasions always seems to stand in stark contrast to the energy and gusto of his opponents
The match against Melzer had all of these elements. It was disappointing because Monte Carlo would’ve been the perfect place for Federer to gather some steam, with its moderate-to-high level of competition and strange status as a “near-Masters”. But at the end of the day, it was a fair loss to a better (and very likeable) opponent, on a day where rough winds did shake the darling curls of his head.
Didn’t see much of the match between Murray and Nadal, but judging from the score line and post-match buzz, it was a bit of a thriller. Once again, I was reminded of how much the tennis landscape is filled with the known-unknowns. One minute, you could be the Australian Open finalist, jetsetting around the world with an unhinged jaw and 125% more teeth than the average human being. The next, you’re getting your ass whupped by Bogomolosomething and the esteemed members of the British press. Two weeks later, you’re on your worst surface, sailing through routine wins over solid opponents, and taking the ONLY set off Rafael Nadal on clay for just under a year. Things change, often with unexpected speed – that much we know we don’t know. Or something.
By the way, just how many sets do we think Nadal is going to lose on clay this year? I’m going with 4 in total.
Don’t mind my cynicism, I love Nadal. What I don’t love is the clay surface, compounded by the utter sheer lack of unknown-unknowns during this part of the season. It’s one of the reasons why I love watching Federer on clay and Nadal on a fast hard court (if they still existed). We never quite know which version of them we’ll get.
But cynicism aside, Monte Carlo was a strange kind of win for Rafa. There were moments when he looked vulnerable, error prone, off in
Mirkaland Xiscaland. But the next thing you know, he’s up a double break and about to close out the set with a love service game. And all of it went by so quickly that you wonder if you’d imagined it all, simply because it’s you wanted to see, just to break up the monotony of the known-knowns.
What else is there to say? This week, over at the Rafael Nadal Open in Barcelona, Dodig became the only non-Spanish player to progress beyond the quarterfinals. He’s joined by Almagro and Ferrer, but SPOILER ALERT: someone called Rafael Nadal wins.
On the vaginal side of things, Sam Stosur scores what seems like her first solid win of the year, taking out Vera Zvoom 26 63 76(3), while Dinara looked inches away from death at some point during her 64 26 64 quarterfinal win (over Pivovarova) – two women trying to stop themselves from slipping into the Wild Moor of Lost Souls and never returning. Elsewhere, Caroline Wozniacki exacts revenge on Petko, and Maria Sharapova collects a handsome appearance fees in the Bahamas. Good times for the Weird Sisters Tennis Tour.
That’s it from me. Hopefully, this is a return to what I hope to be more regular bloggage, after a spate of virus, assignments and work took over my life. Enjoy your long weekend (5 days for us Aussies this time, hee!), I must be off to take care of some Lindt bunnies.
Miami Monday Preview
- Stosur, probably the least fierce member of the WTA top 10, take on Masha Epitome-of-Fierce. You won’t want to miss this train wreck of shrieky implosions.
- Wogie takes on Baby Jesus, one of the few guys on the ATP who seems to root against Fed in a partisan way. All the more reason to SMASH HIM LIKE A GUITAR.
- Rafa plays Flopez, the last man to beat Rafael Nadal on grass; but the Universal Law of Paella says Nadal makes a quick meal out of him.
- Jo-Willy seeks revenge against his Aussie Open spoiler Dolgolurve, preferably shirtlessand moob-ful.
- I’ve seen Kim play some fairly atrocious tennis just in 2011 alone, but in 9 out of 10 cases, she’ll come through, playing like a hot mess and looking like a total winner. Expect more of the same against Fistpumpovic tomorrow. Prove me wrong?
STADIUM start 11:00 am
 S Stosur (AUS) vs  M Sharapova (RUS) – WTA
 C Wozniacki (DEN) vs  A Petkovic (GER) – WTA
Not Before 2:00 PM
 R Federer (SUI) vs  J Monaco (ARG) – ATP
 R Nadal (ESP) vs F Lopez (ESP) – ATP
Not Before 7:30 PM
 A Dolgopolov (UKR) vs  J Tsonga (FRA) – ATP
Not Before 9:00 PM
 A Ivanovic (SRB) vs  K Clijsters (BEL) – WTA
GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
C Berlocq (ARG) vs  T Berdych (CZE) – ATP
[Q] O Rochus (BEL) vs  M Youzhny (RUS) – ATP
A Medina Garrigues (ESP) vs  J Jankovic (SRB) – WTA
Not Before 4:30 PM
 F Schiavone (ITA) vs  A Radwanska (POL) – WTA
 G Simon (FRA) vs P Cuevas (URU) – ATP
COURT 2 start 11:00 am
S Peng (CHN) vs  A Dulgheru (ROU) – WTA
P Petzschner (GER) vs J Tipsarevic (SRB) – ATP
 N Almagro (ESP) vs F Mayer (GER) – ATP
 M Bartoli (FRA) vs  V Zvonareva (RUS) – WTA
My face, upon witnessing Andy Murray’s straight sets loss to Donald Young …
I mean, really, Ahndee. To his credit, Donald Young played a spirited match, but it’s that much easier to be spirited against a mopey, moody opponent with the EQ of a prepubescent boy. And there is nothing, I repeat – nothing, less entertaining than watching Murray suck himself into a whirlpool of misery and self-loathing.
Nonetheless, it’s a fantastic result for Donald Duck, who has yet to score a Top 10 win until today. No doubt this will make his case for USTA wild cards much easier in the year ahead.
It was a tough day at the office for some of the other top seeds in tennis too, as Sexlana was unceremoniously tossed out of the tournament by Christina McHale 76 76, making this her third early exit from Indian Wells in the last 5 years. Li Na soon followed, losing to Peng Pong 64 36 36 to join Muzz in the Post-Aus Open Losers Club.
Masha Fierce almost suffered the same fate, coming from behind to squeak past Anabel Medina Garrigues 74 67 61. It wasn’t the most auspicious of starts to the tournament, but having pulled out of Paris, Doha and Dubai because of a viral illness, I’ll take a win over a Muzzerable exit any day, especially one that involves Masha looking like a giant tangerine dream.
Two time champion Daniel Hantuchova was technically “upset” by a player who had fallen outside the Top 100 and struggled to win any matches at all for the last year and a half. But that player happens to be former World No 1 Dina Safina, on the rebound from the absolute nadir of her career.
“After Australia, there was a moment I came to Moscow for the Fed Cup. I said to my mom, ‘I’m retiring.’ I said, ‘I don’t want any more of this.’”
But there’s nothing like a ickle pep talk from Momma to put some sprint back in your step. Safina steered clear of early retirement, and after winning just one match all year, she has now won TWO MATCHES IN A ROW this week at Indian Wells. Like – woah! Stop the presses!
“I played two tournaments, and then I injured my back before Wimbledon. So at that moment, I think I should have really stopped and, you know, take time to recover full and to come back maybe end of the season, but not rushing it. I was rushing. I wanted to play, and then end up in the worst situation. So this was my worst mistake.”
Anyone who reads this blog would know how I feel about Dinara Safina in general, but at the end of the day, a young girl working her ass off to come back from the wild moors of tennis wasteland doesn’t deserve any of my snark and sarcasm.
So … yer know … well done, good luck, and all that … *shifts awkwardly*
MOVING ON before I get all soft and hormonal …
I saw very little of the match, but it was good to see Dr Ivo reopen his clinic after slumping to 239th in the world after an Archilles tendon surgery last year. Archilles no more, Ivo accomplished his first ever victory over Aus Open semifinalist and Acapulco winner Lord Farquaad, 76 63, winning 86% of his first-serves and serving 9 aces.
Obviously talking to balls didn’t help …
The OOP for tomorrow has been updated in the Frazzle Post.
Happy Sunday, bitches!
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
I planned to blog this before Fed’s match tonight, but as Jelena Dokic is looking at exiting Rod Laver Arena in two seconds, this will be up in the midst of Roger’s match, in which I hope we’ll be all zen, sipping tea and nibbling cookies instead of tearing our hair our over…you know.
I started off Day 2 bright and early, with a Ground Pass for day session and RLA tickets for the night session. My player stalking session began with spotting Venus Williams practising with her Mumsy. I have to admit I am not an enthusiastic autograph seeker so I moved on after that.
I then settled in for two sets of tennis featuring Youzhny v Ilhan, in which the Colonel prevailed 6-2, 6-3, 7-6(5). It was pretty decent tennis – I have a thing for Youzhny and his backhand. But whoa, those Turkish fans were rowdy. The umpire had to tell them to shut it a few times and they didn’t necessarily listened either. As much as the yelling annoyed Youzhny, I gotta admit it added to the atmosphere.
I then hopped over to the Hisense side of show courts, for word on the street is that Roger will be practising at about 4PM. While making my way to the other side, I ran into Andy Toothface just finishing his practice. I didn’t have anything for him to sign, but because the crowd was kinda sparse (what a contrast to Roger/Rafa/Djokovic, really), I snapped a photo when he was in front of me, and I swear he stared at my yellow RF cap for a second longer than necessary.
Than I found out I used the wrong focus so he’s all blurry and not worth posting.
On the Hisense practice courts, I chanced upon Djokovic, and then Reeshie Gasquet.
I didn’t hang around for long, snapped the obligatory photo and moved on for one of my bookmarked matches, Dolgopolov v Kukushkin. I’ve been watching Dolgopolov ever since he gave Rafa a workout in the Madrid Masters last year.
Watching him play, the guy has got something. He has a really sharp serve. It’s not necessarily huge or booming, but it’s fast and crisp. I had like a premium seat as there were not a lot of people at his match, and it was a solid performance from Dolgo Guy. He played well to put Kukushkin away comfortably, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.
And then it was trooping over to Court 16, wrestled for a spot, sat through half hour of Mardy Fish on court before Roger came on. When I got there – 1.5 hours before Roger was due to appear – space was decent, and I grabbed a spot at the railing, and reserved two other spots with my bag and a very unlady-like legs apart stance for LJ and Jodi. After a while, people started crowding me and this old lady with an ice-cream cone literally shoved me over. Fine, you’re old and you had an ice-cream that I do not want on my head, so I let her. Nevertheless, I got LJ over to help me hold fort, and Jodi arrived just in time before the crowds got crazy.
Roger arrived to cheers and whoops and a random call from one guy trying to be funny.
Guy: Roger, will you marry me?
Roger: *bounces ball*
Guy: You can pay for the wedding.
Needless to say, Roger did not agree to that suggestion. He hit for an hour with a junior German(?) player. I gotta say, guy keeps his concentration well with like over a hundred people all gaping at him from the sidelines, cameras going off and possibly half the females drooling. But then, he’s gotta be used to it by now.
As he was packing up, Clijsters arrived for her session. So I thought we wouldn’t get an autograph because he usually moves on if someone else has arrived. But to my surprise, he walked over, obliging and smiling and began doing his thing with the Sharpie.
I got my RF cap signed. I only snapped like two close-ups because I was too busy geting shoved. The wave of people (about 8-wall?) was just crushing all of us in the front. I gotta say that was an autograph-seeking experience of near-death proportions. People were CRAZY and HYSTERICAL. I know Roger is the bees’ knees and more, but there’s no need to be trampling and crushing people to death.
Oh, I also uploaded a few more of Roger’s practice photos HERE if anyone wants to peek at some.
I’m also kinda crazy, I think. I missed Delpo v Sela – a match that I really wanted to see – to hang around the practice court getting burned.
The two RLA night sessions, both highly hyped, are complete opposite scenarios. First, Safina v Clijsters. Safina came out – served poorly, returned poorly, played poorly, and her shots were not finding the court. It didn’t help that Clijsters was actually playing quite well, hitting winners all over the court. Safina came alive in the final game to put up a measure of fight, but when you’re behind 6-0, 5-0, that is kind of moot. And moot it was, as Clijsters broke again to win 6-0, 6-0.
Never has been a Safina fan, but watching her on court was excruciating. From the moment the first ball was struck, she didn’t believe in herself at all. She didn’t believe that she could win this, or play her game, and that made the match the way it was. I think the girl needs to regroup herself with the help of a sports psychologist.
As for that night match, I’ve said my piece on it here, so click to read if you wanna. All I can say now is that I am still feeling the heartbreak, and am still bemoaning the fact that the Hewitt/Nalbandian match-up was a first round. One good thing is that Hewitt will be joining the Channel 7 commentating team and I’m looking forward to that. After hearing him during the Hopman Cup, I have decided that he is actually a very good commentator, fair, unbiased and insightful. Yes, wonders will never cease.
Other tidbits of matches that I didn’t manage to catch:
1) Delpo v Sela. A tight first set, it looked like, and then Delpo managed the win in straights. This has got to boost the confidence of the big man. He will get better as he plays more, and I’m definitely intrigued to see his next match with Baghdatis.
2) Speaking of Baghdatis, he went five sets against Zemlja when he really shouldn’t have needed to. I’ll say it’s looking good for Delpo, but with Baggy, you can never tell whether he is going to be brilliant or be a complete bozo.
3) Petzschner v Jo-Willy. Up two sets to love, but Petzy just couldn’t do it, and Tsonga romped away for a 5-set victory. I like Jo, and I am most definitely waiting to see whether he could meet Rafa eventually. That could be an interesting match. Although in all honesty, I doubt Jo will get that far. He can be very head-casey at times.
4) Bobby Sod matched his best result ever at AO when he beat Potatoes, avoiding last year’s embarrassing exit (to Granola Bar). He plays Gilles Muller next – whom I remembered as the guy I was TOTALLY FREAKING OUT OVER because he played Feddy after his nightmare Andreev thing at USO08.
So let’s see how it all goes.
Post edited in this bit here, by the way. If you’d read it before, you know why. If you haven’t, nothing worth bothering about.
P.S. Photos are my own.
Edit: So we didn’t sip tea and nibble cookies. We were instead tearing our hair out and hyperventilating (I was, anyway). But our man lives to fight another day.
Coulda seen it coming. A certain tiredness has crept into ‘Dasco’s game in the last year. An inevitable tiredness that comes with making so-many fourth rounds and quarterfinals and never finding the breakthrough. He was up in his first match of the season against a player he lost to the last time they played in Bangkok – Benjamin Becker.
At the age of 29, Becker’s lame claims to fame include being mistaken for a relative of Boris Becker, and getting stuck with the dirty job of finishing off Agassi’s career. Luckily for Becker, a few fans in Australia will remember his name today, as he took out Verdasco 61 67 63. The only thing that prevented him from winning the match in straight sets was his own insecurity – Becker tried to serve for the match at 5-4, only to commit 4 unforced errors in a row to give away the break.
As for Verdasco, when a player’s career starts to go South, speculations arise as to why this is happening (apart from the natural cycles of ‘what goes up, but eventually come down’). Everything from his movement, change of racquet to the shockingly animalistic faux-hawk he sported on court was blamed for his misfortunes. To me, it was mostly rust. Nando took a set to find his range against an opponent who was cracking some incredible forehands and defending well. By the time he looked settled in the match, it was too late. Becker may have wobbled a little in the second set, but he is too seasoned a competitor to just fade away in the third set.
As for that hair … Christ on a paella dude, Ana is never coming back, Feli would never to cheat on you with Rafa, so STOP TRYING SO HARD.
Talking about trying hard, Dinara “Twitties” Safina is now blond and sponsorless. How the minions have fallen. (Yes, I’m a monster. And possibly the only person on the interwebs who thinks Safina is simply crap. Deal with it.)
Don’t get me wrong, I think Safina is horrendously uninspiring on her best days, so on a scale of 1 to Ana Fistfuckovic, I didn’t think she was ulta-horrendous against Wickmayer in her 63 67 61 loss to the defending champion.
In fact, it was slightly unfortunate for that Safina that she should draw Wicky (surely my pick for Biggest Disappointment of 2010) on one of her better days. When she’s on, she reminds me of Maria Shazza in power and demeanour.
Can’t wait to see them play each other in Auckland.
What a difference a year makes for those too myopic to see true class. One year, it’s “the end of Fedal”, the next their rivalry is said to last FOR YEARS TO COME. One second Nadal’s knees were predicted to be a cause for his potential “early retirement”, the next Federer is suddenly “so-last-season”, over the hill, an old man headed for a good nursing home in Dubai. Meanwhile, tennis experts have been forecasting that we’ll get 4 different slam winners a year since 2007.
The latest forecast, however, was a little contrarian. Hardly surprising after the way 2010 finished:
John McEnroe says he expects the rivalry between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to last at least a few more years before a new face breaks through the top ranks of men’s tennis …
“There’s no reason to believe … that these guys aren’t going to be around for the next couple of years,” retired American tennis great McEnroe said Tuesday on the sideline of an exhibition tournament in Hong Kong …
“We have an incredible rivalry that hopefully will last another couple of years, a year or two more, and we can take advantage of that,” he said.
I’m all for MOAR FEDAL, but as a general principle, I despise all interviews with ATP Legends, who have nothing better to do with their time than to provide the tennis media with the next headline bearing zero impact or actual consequence.
Read it with a shipload of salt, and MOVE ON with tennis players not nearing mid-life crisis. Such as Venus Williams, who – thanks to Grilled Cheesus – is back in action this week in Hong Kong. Guess I’ll actually have to pay some attention to the Cashcow Invitational now.
As Day 1 of the US Open draws to a close, we’re all still reeling from the disgusting talent of Roger Federer. But let us spare a moment to remember those taken from us too soon.
Goodbye, Evgeny Korolev (ret v Nishikori 67 25). This world needs more Baby Marats.
Au revoir, Dimitry (lost v Melzer, 46 26 63 63 64 26). This world needs more Tursunov tales.
And Gonzo, for whom years of grind, wear and tear has resulted in some bodily payback.
James Blake. Technically not out of the tournament. Not yet. But as I watched him being honored during Monday night’s opening ceremonies for overcoming scoliosis, I felt a pang of sadness. Not just because he looked like a bald Obama. But for his fall from relevance. You wish that every tale of resilience and will came with a Hollywood ending.
And at the end of the day, even Hewitt can’t keep winning grueling 5 setters forever. He lost to Mathieu 6-3 6-4 5-7 4-6 6-1. This was – after all – no real surprise. Even in health and good form, PHM would be a tough first round draw for Rusty, but he made a match of it. In typical Lleyton fashion, he took it to five sets when he had no business losing it in any way other than straight sets. What more can you ask for from a veteran you’ve grown used to, or even like, in the past few years?
But with this loss, very sombre questions are being raised in the Australian media surrounding Hewitt’s future (example). No one enjoys watching a player with 41 wins at Flushing Meadows (bettered only by Fed’s 51 among current players) humbled in the first round. Especially not his home country, for whom Hewitt still represents our best hope at men’s slam glory, which equates to no hope at all.
No. If there is that one last hurrah left in Lleyton, it lies not in an Ivanisevic-like miracle, but in something completely different: in a tournament more prone to upsets, more uplifting at times, though mostly insignificant these days. The Davis Cup.
They say history has a funny way of repeating itself. What they don’t mention is that most of the time, we are absolutely powerless to stop past mistakes from unfolding.
Dinara Safina is taking the same miserable, self-tortuous path that her brother Marat took not so long ago. The only difference is that Marat got over himself long enough to win a slam or two before he headed for the wild moors of tennis exile.
For Safina fans, her results last week in New Haven sparked some hope, when she beat Dani Hantuchova – her conqueror today. But today, there was no such magic. Even Hantochova’s attempts to implode in both sets couldn’t aid Safina in her quest to reestablish a presence in women’s tennis.
I think we’re done with her for the rest of the year. Possibly the next too. Or even …
Alas. Against the dying of the light, in nostalgia or in the futility of rage, we will remember you.
SPECIAL EDITION FRAZZLES – Served by yours truly.
On the menu: cupcakes, muffins, bricks, perhaps a few asterisks too?
Which one would you like to take? Because folks: Andy Murray is gone, GONE. And NO ONE CARETH. *Sally Draper lisp* In related news, Ahndee Mooray apparently 62% Scottish as I write this, whadaya know.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR OUR FRAZZLE-FILLED LIVES?
Why I’m glad you asked!
- It means that the top half of the draw is smashed into James Frey. In a Roland-Garros-09-parting-of-the-seas kinda way, only swap Roger Federer for Rafael Nadal, Paris for New York.
- It means that there are too many of Rafa’s playstation mates left in the draw. Some of you share my boredom. Others don’t. That’s okay, since none of it will change the outcome.
- It means that it is very unlike that Murray, a “pre-tournament favourite”, will ever be a “pre-tournament favourite” again. That’s what you get for rocking the US Open Series, then flaming out early at what should’ve been your best tournament, TWO FUCKING YEARS in a row. Am I complaining? Why yes. But more on that later.
- It means that there are two Swiss in the second week of a slam. Coulda been three if Nutty Patty had survived Wicky. They make ’em good in Switzerlandia. They make ’em real good.
- What does this mean for the bottom half of the draw? ABSOFUCKINGLUTELY NOTHING. The 3rd seed? Still in. The fifth seed? Lurking just around the corner. Second seed? FRAZZLE. Only perceptions of loadedness has gone up.
- How unfair! How cupcakey! Now Roger has the bitchiest draw of all time – Melzer, 5th, 3rd, and top seed – if he wants to win. OH SHUT IT. When the draws came out, Rafa had the tougher half. It’s beyond the control of everyone except for Murray how that pans out. Besides, I’m a firm believer in Dootsie’s Principle of Cupcake Equal Opportunity: eventually, everything evens up. So cut the crap.
- Jurgen Melzer is the bane of my existence right now. NOTHING ELSE. We all need to put our tunnel vision goggles on. *hands out tunnel vision goggles*
THAT IS ALL UNTIL LATERS ALLIGATORS. Frazzle away!
ARTHUR ASHE – 11:00 am
If you break your opponent 4 times and still can’t win a single set, then you’re probably mildly deficient in this critical little organ we call the brain.
Yes, that’s you, Julien Benneteau. It must’ve taken some serious skills to lose to a man who looked like he was about to kneel over any second and start frothing at the mouth. A man who looked like there was no way on earth he could finish the match if it had gone another set, as it was threatening to do for most of the match.
“It was obvious that on the court I wasn’t feeling the best, but I overcomed it. It was nothing unusual, just little heat issues that I have, but, you know, the life goes on.” – Novak Djokovic
I don’t know about calling it “little heat issues” when some of my friends who only follow tennis 2 weeks a year during the Australian Open make jokes about it. Either we’re faced with the anomaly of a young, lean professional athlete who is barely fit enough to finish matches (especially when he’s losing), or Novak Djokovic is a hypochondriac. There, I said it. And I wouldn’t be the only one. Some kinds of dramatic flair I can really do without.
The Dramarama for Serbia doesn’t stop there.
Since she missed the rankings cutoff for Montreal a few weeks ago, Ana Ivanovic has requested a wild card from the Montreal tournament organisers. Her request was denied.
Officially, the tournament wanted to give its 3 wild cards to local players like Dubois. Unofficially, the tournament organiser Lapierre was quoted in the Montreal Gazette as saying “the fact is that she hasn’t demonstrated that she deserves a wild card“.
If we’re talking about a player who makes the news by sheer virtue of stringing 2 wins together, yes the comment was harsh, but – as harsh comments generally are – it was also true.
But not to be ditched without a protest, Ivanovic released a statement on her website:
“I was quite hurt by the comments of Mr. Lapierre that I was shown in The Montreal Gazette recently. I don’t think his comments were necessary, and they contradicted everything he had told my management previously: that I was not getting a wild card, because I am not Canadian.”
Since the statement was made, the tournament has extended a wild card to Ivanovic. Dubois has secured her place in the main draw without the need for a wild card, and Lapierre felt sure that Ivanovic would accept. Wrong. Ana promptly rejected the wild card, citing that she felt “they kind of stepped over the line with this interview,” and “misrepresented” the correspondence between the two parties.
“It’s very tough, you know. When you’re not playing well and when you’re low, you need friends who can help you, you know, not remind you of your poor form in the press as well.”
As far as Miss Muffin goes, this is her way of saying “you hwurty my feelings? I hwurty yours.” I can see where the hurt comes from – for Ana, it must’ve been a rude awakening to suddenly find yourself faced with the option of either qualifying for a major tournament or be at mercy of the organisers for a wild card. She doesn’t need to be reminded of her own misery … or does she?
Miss Muffin wanted to be treated like an old friend of the tournament, a former No 1 perhaps, a slam winner. But ultimately, the Rogers Cup is a business. To quote the horrible slogan of Tennis Canada, “Love means nothing”. You’re only as good as your latest results, and your latest results ain’t good. Welcome to the other side of victory and glory.
Over on the men’s side of things, Toronto abounds with “upsets” as the top quarter of the draw went kaput. Verdasco, Querrey, Almagro, Robredo were among the day’s casualties.
Rafa, on the other hand, amped up his imitation-as-flattery signals towards Roger, struggling a little in the first set to put a resistant Stan away before prevailing in straight sets. The Fedal even went matchy-matchy with their outfits.
Just don’t call it pink.
In Cincinnati results, Maria Sharapova’s serve was on better behavior in her straight sets dispatching of Andrea Petko, while Clijsters defeated physically ailing Safina in a 75 62 match over an extended rain delay. Vera Zvonareva fell over the finish line against MariKiri in a third set tiebreaker while poor Sybille Bammer could do no more than win 2 games against Carol Pushniacki.
Fabulous men’s line up in Toronto tomorrow. Federbear’s life hangs in balance.
EDIT// I HATE BEING RIGHT.
Federer v Murray – 3:30AM AEST
Clijsters v Sharapova – 5:00AM AEST
Why Murray and Clijsters will win, probably in straight sets:
- It’s a matter of form. They both came through their matches in straight sets. Both most comfortable on this surface. Murray in particular showed a lot of aggression in his quarterfinal and semifinal matches, beating quality opponents with ease.
- Fatigue – Both had the earlier day match with plenty of rest, both will face opponents in the night session who were taken to 3 sets before prevailing in over 2 hours.
- Pressure – Federer’s priority is the US Open, and as far as preparation goes, he’s gotten the most out of this week already. On the other hand, Murray is the only player in the top 5 without a title in 2010. He needs this more. The assumption being that need translates to want.
Reasons to rebut the presumption
- The rabbit – Murray can’t play much better than he has played this tournament. Roger Federer can, but he’ll need to pull a rabbit out of his hat – forget the brain cramps, the fatigue, serve well and play the kind of tennis he played for half a match against Berdych. At the end of the day, aggression comes more naturally to Federer than it does to Murray.
- Mentality – if anything, Clijsters has been just as messy as Sharapova this week, but I have a feeling that she may carry more of an aura for other players than Sharapova these days. Aura, as we’ve found out in the past, doesn’t really bother Maria. When it comes to mental strength, I still give Sharapova an edge.
- Pressure – pressure works in both ways. The fact that Fed has done better than expected this week, the fact that he knows what it feels like to win matches back to back against the top 10 again – taking this pressure off his mind might do just the opposite: loosen him up. (Though the narrative of today’s match prove the contrary.)
The fate awaiting Federbear, tomorrow (last minute clemency still on the cards).
Go Pinky. Go Maria. That is all.