Yes Dina, I’m a terrible person:
Cheers erupted on Centre Court in Beijing as Zhang Shuai (not to be confused with Peng Shuai) took out the “Real World No 1” Dinara Safina 75 76.
Zhang, ranked 226 in the world, has never won a match in the second round of a main draw before. She appeared to have no conceivable weapon other than her ability to absorb pace, which happened to exactly what Dina was sending her.
To be fair, it’s not like Dina knows how to play any other way. Much better players would’ve had trouble winning a match with 51 unforced errors and 13 double faults. But I guess that’s precisely the trouble with women’s tennis right now, you wish the No 1 player was “the better player”, or “the best player”. Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot of correlation between quality and ranking when it comes to Dinara.
Also out of the tournament is Venus Williams, who lost to Pavs for the second time in two weeks 36 61 64.
Shockingly for Venus, she committed 14 double faults with no aces over the course of the 3 sets. Colour me surprised if that knee is properly healed. I’m almost in favour of Venus just calling it a year rather than flailing physically and making matters worse.
This is, however, a damn good picture.
On the men’s side of things in Beijing, Cilic, Ferrero, and Robredo all came through in straight sets, while Kohlschreiber took out Dr Ivo in 3, breadsticking him along the way. Anyone who breadsticks Ivo Karlovic deserves a multitude of my love and affection.
And we had 3 Novak Djokovics. Basically my worst nightmare.
In Tokyo, the Swiss are showing the tennis world that they can be awesome without some potato-nosed hubby-of-Vavrinec.
Well, no they can’t. Nice try anyway.
Marco Chiudinelli “upset” Dudi Sela 46 61 64 to secure his own career high ranking in the top 100, while Stan had a good 64 64 victory over John Isner. A good word for Marco, he’s been playing a lot better than his ranking would indicate ever since the Us Open.
Not to mention, they both looked oh-so-pretty, who needs the other Swiss with these two around?
Who am I convincing?
Here’s looking at you, Radek Stepanek, in all your mutant sexbomb glory. (Czech def Argentina 3-2)
Oh yeth, it’s the Davis Cup again. Whose smart idea was it to play Davis Cup the week after Wimbledon? 3 best of five set tournaments in 7 weeks, talk about an overkill.
Spain def Germany 3-2.
Fact # 1: Feliciano Lopez is a bromantic.
Fact #2: It is my lifelong ambition to be jammed in the middle of Spanish bromantics.
Fact #3: In case you missed it, Spain won their fifth live rubber because Mosquito was awesome.
Fact #5: Nando doesn’t have a monkey face. *sad*
What’s a monkey face you ask? Stare at it long enough and it might wink back!
Croatia def USA 3-2.
Fact #5: Marin Cilic wore a picnic blanket, and made a wonderful team leader.
Fact #6: Nice guys can play crap tennis. Here’s looking at you, James Blake. Two sets to love up against Karlovic and still managed to lose the match, REALLY?
Israel def Russia 4-1
Fact #7: the Safin Heartbreak Train rolls on. Of course he couldn’t just lose in straight sets in the doubles rubber, he had to come back from 2 sets to love to take it to a fifth set, and then lose. That’s Marat Safin for ya.
Fact #8: The Israeli Davis Cup team played such inspired tennis that a Hollywood biopic needs to be made about it.
Fact #9: They’re NOT going to beat Spain at home in the semifinal.
Fact #10: Contrary to popular belief, these are not Federer fans.
All images via Dailylife
Wait – there are tennis tournaments going on this week?
Sometimes I just want to stop the world for a bit and savor the moment, but that can’t be done, so it’s bye bye, Wimbly. You’re not my favourite slam. Actually, I hate you like an unloved child. And just because I’m a Federer fan, doesn’t mean I buy into your pomp and stickupyerassness the way TMF does.
But hey, you’ve delivered, yet again. You can go away now, with my parting thoughts…
1) If Brooklyn is okay with it, ARod and Dementieva should get together for a drink and some serious commiserations. They both had hugely improved their games. Both conquered some demons and played the match of their lives. Both knew that their chances to win another slam (a slam in Dementieva’s case) were running out – it was now or never for the pair of them. Both had points in their matches that will haunt them forever – Roddick in the second set tiebreak, and of course Dementieva and her dramatic match point.
Both faced opponents heavily favoured to win, but nevertheless didn’t play their best tennis on the day. But both their opponents served near-record numbers of aces to save their asses. Both Fed and Serena dug themselves out of deficits, and practiced the art of survivorship – being the last man/woman standing, which takes slightly more than just day form. Roger and Serena didn’t end up with set points or match points that would haunt them forever. They survived long enough to put themselves in a position where just one flinch from their opponents would give them a lifeline. In the end, they both earned their victories thoroughly.
And thus the difference between Fed/Serena v Roddick/Dementieva? 25 slams. My deepest respect for the losing pair aside, my faith in Fed and Serena was reaffirmed by those two matches, not that it needed anymore reaffirming. But Roger, Andy, Serena and Elena will remain the four heros of the tournament for me.
2) Wimbledon as a tournament irks me, and the trophy presentation irked me too. You had Borg, Laver and Sampras sitting there in the Royal Box – why couldn’t any of them have presented the trophy instead of the Duke of Whatever? They were the real royalties on Centre Court.
And how did the photographer manage to make the four GOAT contenders of men’s tennis look this fugly?
Other Wimbledon stuff-ups that irked me: the girls-on-centre-court issue, the not-so-subtle ignorance of Novak Djokovic issue, the trying-to-call-Henman-Hill-Murray-Mound issue…
Redemption points for their tweeting and Facebook page. Best use of social network sites ever.
3) This question was posed to Lleyton Hewitt after his third round defeat at Roland Garros:
Q. If you look to this tournament you see some former No. 1 players like Safin, Ferrero, you. You’re not still in the 30s, but it seems like your generation cannot pick on anymore. How do you see that?
No need to hang on to Roger. With the exception of Safin, the rest of the ‘old balls’ – Ferrero, Hewitt, Haas and Roddick – all came roaring back during Wimbledon. And Ivo Karlovic too: in his 30s and making his first grand slam quarterfinal. Maybe it’s because of these guys, but we saw some fairly old-school tennis during the fortnight – massive serves, tactical S&V, there was a few singlehanded backhands hanging around that did not belong to Roger Federer too. Meh.
4) I’m a bit stuck on Venus Williams – I keep rooting for her to win a slam this year, and keep feeling disappointed whenever she loses. At least she played divinely to get to the final, but Serena wasn’t to be denied.
Oh well, I’m already on the bandwagon, so how about … I’ll support her like crazy again for the US Open? Can’t be that far-fetched, can it? *sigh*
5) Still ignoring Dinara Safina, and obviously failing at it. Actually why don’t we ignore Jelena Jankovic too. When your opponent hit double the number of winners as you, it’s a case of sour grapes to say that she has no weapons.
While we’re at it, Caroline Wozniacki is dangerously close to being in the Ignore Club. I’m still waiting for her to step it up at a grand slam. When you’re announcing yourself as the next, next big thing, it’s probably not good enough to lose to Dokic, Cirstea or Lisicki before the quarterfinals of slams. I did enjoy “Bumpgate” though.
6) Random-assortment-of-forgettable-players-worthy-of-a-mention: Dudi Sela, Philippe Kohlschreiber, Francesca Schiavone, Virginie Razzano (yay top 20), Amelie Mauresmo (come on she’s pretty forgetable these days), Radek Stepanek, Melanie Oudin, Sorana Cirstea …
Just because you fell before the finish line doensn’t mean you didn’t have a fantastic tournament.
And a better draw for poor old Rendy Lu next time, please?
7) And the almost-heroes:
Sabine Lisicki – any girl who can serve that well deserves to be in my Bandwagon Park.
Stanislas Wawrinka – Stan decided to step it up in a major way, and flaunt his backhand now that Reeshard is no longer around. He still fell valiantly short, but showed that he deserves to be back in the top 10. Keep it up: onwards and upwards to the Masters Cup!
Lleyton Hewitt – a round of applause for Rusty for taking out del Potro, surviving dangerous opponents like Petzschner and Stepanek, then taking Andy Roddick to a thrilling five sets. Didn’t like him a few years ago, but it was good to see him hanging around again. Let’s hope the hip holds up.
8.) Regardless of your opinion on the so-called ‘Big Babe tennis’, the WTA needs its Big Babes to do well right now. Not a fan of either of them, but I was glad to see Daniela Hantuchova and Ana Ivanovic pull reasonable performances at Wimbledon.
Slightly freaked out about Maria though – I’m still keeping my fingers crossed that the rust will eventually wear off. She’s young, she’s still got time, right? RIGHT?
9) Who wants to sign my “Roger Federer needs a coach ASAP” petition?
Here’s what the stubborn Roger had to say about his team during the French part of the post-Wimbly presser:
Pouvez-vous nous parler de votre équipe ?
J’ai cru dans mon équipe. Cela a payé. Je suis très fier car je n’ai pas fait les changements drastiques que tout le monde attendait. J’ai eu raison, vous avez eu tort (sourires). »
Can you talk about your team?
“I believed in my team. That paid off. I am very proud because I didn’t make any drastic changes as everyone expected. I was right, you were wrong.” (Laughter)
No we’re not wrong. I still think Federer should get a coach, but let me just hide that petition somewhere for a rainy day.
10) Like Serena, Federer now hold 3 out of the 4 grand slams. Unlike Serena, Federer is No 1 in the world. I’d like to shut up about the WTA rankings, but it’s so goddam hard.
Mentioning rankings, I’m feasting my eyes on this …
Potential to rise for Andy Roddick. Potential to crash and burn for Gilles Simon.
11) Rafa to return in Montreal. My guess is that Roger’s pulling out.
12) I thought Andy Murray dealt well with the pressure and expectations at Wimbledon, but his smacktalk pre-Wimbledon appears a little silly in hindsight. Truth be told, whether or not Federer should’ve chosen to comment on Murray’s game after their match in Dubai last year, he was pretty spot-on with his assessment. Larry Stefanki said almost the same thing about Murray on Wimbledon Radio after the semifinals:
“Besides Roger Federer he is the best mover in the game. He has the best footwork and he is technically very sound. He has to change his mentality of the way he wants to play this game at the very top level.”
“He is going to have a great future if he gets to the point of recognising balls to attack and to come into the forecourt and play there rather than 15 feet behind the baseline.”
“I like Andy Murray a lot and I respect his game. He plays it very smart but I still believe the game is played in the forecourt and at the net in order to win some big titles.
That’s one area that Nadal has hugely improved on in the last year: choosing when to come forward proactively and attack, and when to defend. No reason to suppose Andy Murray can’t improve on the same front.
13) And onwards we roll: what are Andy Murray’s chances at the US Open? Good? Very good? Sure bet?
After Roger’s wins in Paris and London, I don’t even care if he wins the US Open anymore, if he does – cherry on top, any slam’s a bonus. If he doesn’t, I’d like to see him at least keep the semifinals streak alive.
I haven’t done the calculations, but is there any chance of Rafael Nadal dropping to No 3 in the rankings before the US Open? Hell, I do NOT want a Federer/Nadal semifinal.
14) I miss/hate Richard Gasquet.
15) 15th tidbit for 15 slams: HURRAH! YAY! WOOHOO! Still basking in the afterglow of Federer and Serena’s victories.
Having said that, the GOAT debate is now slightly more annoying than the grunt debate, which is slightly more annoying than grunting itself … which is saying a lot.
Time to take that “GFC” icon off my sidebar, me thinks. The irony of it all is that Federer said at the end of Miami “thank God the hard court season’s over”. I wonder what he thinks about this upcoming hard court season.
I can’t be bothered reposting everything from the old blog, so here’s the final repost – from last Sunday, some thoughts on a week in tennis.
What appeared to be seemingly uneventful week in tennis turned out to be a little more dramatic than usual. So here are a few thoughts on the week, since I am totally procrastinating on an essay I’m supposed to be writing.
Players of the Week
Jo-Willy Tsonga, Mr. Float-like-a-butterfly-sting-like-a-bee, wins his first career title in Thailand. Sounds pretty obscure? Yet he pulls off an absolute thrashing of Gael Monfils and then a straight sets win (though much closer) over Novak Djokovic, avenging his loss in the Australian Open. To top it all off, a serve and volley off a second serve on match point en route to his first title. Gotta love his play, big serve, beautiful forehand, the occasional jaw-dropping volley. The guy takes risks, and deals with its consequences beautifully. Allez! (finds yet another bandwagon)
Dudi Sela from Israel, one of the biggest surprises of the week, played some groovy tennis to make it into the finals of the China Open, and did not make it easy for Roddick in their 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 final. The match stats actually showed he had more winners, but just failed to come through at the right moments. Love this photo of him, very ernest face. We celebrate our Federers and Nadals, but sometimes we also celebrate our Selas.
Yes, and Andy Roddick wins his second (?) title of the year. Not a smooth run for him, but considering the fate of other top seeds, namely Ferrer and Gasquet, he’s got plenty to smile about. And thumbs up for his generosity to the Szechuan Earthquake victims. Roddick is a better sportsman than most people give him credit for.
Very sad to see Sam Stosur lose in 3 setter (2-6, 6-1, 6-4), the match was much closer than the scoreline would indicate, but she’s done a very good job of recovering from her illness, and had some success in doubles tennis.
On a lighter note, how good does MariKiri look in her Stella McCartney (Adidas) dress? She’d give Sharapova a run for her money in the fashion department.
Mentioning Sharapova, she’s officially out for the season. I miss her grunts. Women’s tennis is not the same without those high pitched vocal chords.
Jelena Jankovic takes a step towards righting her 2-4 H2H with Kuznetsova, with a well-deserved and convincing victory also in Beijing. She’s been playing her best tennis ever since the US Open, and has put herself within 21 points of Serena Williams, which makes Stuttgart (where they’ll both be playing) very intriguing. Thumbs up from me for the good tennis, and general funkiness of this girl.
And some quick mentions to finish off a post that’s getting a little long:
I wouldn’t mind seeing a bit more of Zheng Jie in some upcoming tournaments. This girl’s headed for the top 20, mark my words. Cool, calm and collected.
Richard Gasquet makes me want to pull out my hair. But that’s the fun in rooting for him.
Novak Djokovic hasn’t won a title since Rome, lost the last 3 finals he’s been in, what’s up with him? Maybe just losing it a little?
I’ve heard the gossip, I’ve had pictures shoved in front of me, but if you haven’t seen it already, Rafael Nadal’s naked butt is the hottest thing since Paris Hilton’s porn tape. I wouldn’t mind seeing Roger do a bit of skinny dipping himself, but hey, that’s just me.
Cibulkova’s growing on me, Ivanovic is not.
Mentioning Ivanovic, what’s going on with her and Verdasco. Something’s brewing.