Tag Archive | Ernests Gulbis

(A)Head Games

The psychology of sports forms the basis for a brief commentary on the evolving Roland Garros tournament, currently lodged between the second and third rounds at the end of Wednesday’s play in Paris. The events of the past two days have enabled tennis observers to appreciate the inner game of the sport, the test between the ears that gives rise to such engrossing drama even when the raw level of play leaves something to be desired.

Plenty of coaches and sports psychologists have drawn from Timothy Gallwey’s seminal 1974 book, The Inner Game of Tennis, to impart to athletes the importance of acquiring the right frame of mind. It is obvious that the mind matters so much in tennis, a solo-flyer sport that demands the ability to handle a lot of loneliness. At the majors, the women don’t receive coaching during changeovers; every match at a major – for the men and the women – is a true test of the individual’s ability to solve problems on the fly. 

Yet, for all the ways in which the primacy of mental toughness is so evident at a major, there’s one specific way in which the mind can get overlooked.

Yes, it’s important to be able to fight back when trailing, to persevere when things aren’t going your way. Yes, it’s important to be able to hit a clutch serve when facing a break-and-set point at 30-40, 4-5, in the third set of a match that is tied at one set apiece. Yes, it is important to deliver the goods at 5-all in a tiebreaker or at deuce in the 12th game of a set. However, those situations – as important as they are – don’t quite fit into the one situation that trips up so many players: Arriving at a midpoint in a set or tiebreaker when everything is going right and a once-unlikely victory becomes possible.

If you study a major tennis tournament closely enough, you’ll quickly realize how often this specific problem ambushes so many talented tennis professionals. Ernests Gulbis led Gael Monfils 3-2 in the second set in Wednesday’s featured second-round match at Court Philippe Chatrier. Gulbis busted out his best and most untouchable heaven-kissed tennis to break for a 3-2 lead, having already taken the first set in a tiebreaker. The flow of the match was headed in Gulbis’s direction.

Gulbis promptly lost serve for 3-all, and then donated a bunch of errors when serving at 4-5 to hand Monfils the second set, 6-4. The third set was glorious, but when Monfils got a lucky get-out-of-jail net cord to survive a break point at 5-all, he rode that bit of fortune to a tiebreaker win and a four-set triumph a short time later.

Understand this about Gulbis: He loses so many matches not merely in exasperating fashion, but after taking the first set. Gulbis can oh-so-easily find an exalted level of tennis, but his career has been such a study in underachievement precisely because Gulbis can’t stay on the mountain very long. It is a mental skill, not just a physical one, to remain locked in — no, not to the point where you hit ridiculous winners again and again, but to the point that consistency becomes built into performance so that the muscle memory becomes reliable.

Gulbis is perhaps the most prominent example on the ATP side of a gifted tennis player who allows himself to think about how well he’s doing… which opens the gateway for doubt to creep in as soon as a bad shot flies off the racquet. Svetlana Kuznetsova is the prime example of this dynamic on the WTA Tour. When a player should be relishing the ability to play well, the Gulbises and Kuznetsovas worry when it’s all going to fall apart — not consciously, but subconsciously, and certainly enough to hijack peak performance.

Another example of this counterintuitive dynamic — playing well until leading, when the prospect of victory becomes too much to bear — was in evidence in Wednesday’s second-round match between Roger Federer’s next Roland Garros opponent, Julien Benneteau, and Tobias Kamke. Benneteau, who – remember – has not won an ATP singles title in his career, led by two sets against an inferior opponent. The thought of winning (not losing) paralyzed the Frenchman, who proceeded to drop 10 straight games and fall behind 2-0 in the fifth. The fear of success, not the fear of failure, is the overlooked dimension of frailty in professional tennis, and Benneteau succumbed to it.

Fortunately for him, so did Kamke.

The German had little reason to believe for most of the match that victory was likely his. After his third-set escape, he had a right to expect a fifth set, but it was only at 2-0 in the fifth that the finish line appeared.

Naturally, that’s when Kamke disappeared. 

It’s not as though the end of this match was dramatic. Benneteau held at love when serving for the match at 5-4. The end came not with a bang, but a whimper. It was at 2-0 in the fifth when Kamke lost hold of the proceedings. He lost this match in the early and middle stages of a set, not its endpoint. Gulbis, when blowing the 3-2 break lead in the second set – following one of his best stretches of performance in the match – gave Monfils the opening the Frenchman needed.

Head games are such a central part of tennis. “Ahead games” — at 3-2 or 2-0 in a set — show why those head games matter so much. Life seems too good to be true for a great number of tennis players only because they fear success too much.

US Open 2012 Day 5 Recap: It’s not exactly over yet.

Another one of the Grandpa Generation is off to the sunset after US Open – for Andy Roddick is hanging up his racquets after US Open.

There’s no way any decent tennis fan would have missed the announcement that one of the most colourful (if not exactly the most agreeable) personalities of the tour is retiring. With him meeting one of the stars of the Generation After Nadal-Djokovic-Murray, Bernie Tomic – it was supposed to be the marquee match of the US Open thus far. Fair to say some expected Bratomic to end the career of A-Rod. After all, he’s 11 years younger (on paper anyway ;)), supposedly stronger and faster, nearing the peak of his game whilst Roddick is on his swan song.

Arthur Ashe was packed to the capacity for that match, nearing the crowds of a final even. If Roddick was to go out, he would go out with a bang and in front of thousands of Americans.

But Roddick was not done yet. Read More…

Minding Your Ps, Your Queues, and Your Wimbledon Haikus

Those who braved the Wimbledon queue on Tuesday night received precious ducats to the All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club for Wednesday’s session of play on the most hallowed grounds in tennis. Spectators who gained entry to this sport’s most prestigious event were fittingly reminded of the enduring reason why matches are won and lost.

Why did Ernests Gulbis… pull an Ernests Gulbis against Jerzy Janowicz? Why did Caroline Wozniacki (now known to this writer as “Bus Driver” — she wants to know if chair umpires attended school, after all…) continue her downward spiral with a first-round exit against Tamira Paszek?

Why did Tsvetana Pironkova – to the immense relief of Ye Olde Picket Fence Blog’s Owner And Publisher – not win a single one of her five set points against Maria Sharapova? Read More…

US Open 2011 (by LJ): Day 2 Wrap

I decidedly didn’t watch any matches other than the 10min of Fat Dave during breakfast today. This whole time difference thing kinda sucks and everything has been pulled off Youtube so no match highlights other than the 30 secs that the US Open website offers us. Seriously it’s 2011 and we’re still fighting against media totalitarianism, its bloody ridiculous…but anyway, enough about my plight, here’s my wrap of the day that I just made up from tweets and whatnot. I could be completely wrong, but it’ll hopefully be entertainingly wrong.

ATP

Let’s start with Rafa…W…T…f? really?  I believe Rafa is just trolling us with this inability to play like the Rafa of old, these days. I always think Rafa is gonna unveil himself at the end of some tournament and go...”Aha, I was playing you all for fools, no? I can actually play as Rafa but I was getting tired of steamrolling punks so I thought I’d just play shit for the lols.” =]

Que pasa?

Golubev was up 7 set points in the 2nd and had a break in the 3rd but still came out a loser in 3 sets.  I think Rafa just likes dangling the cheese in front of mice and pulling the string at the last minute.  And Golubev helped him by fucking up shot selection on every important point.

Yeah Golubev, your random Kazakhstani cuteness couldn’t even help your braincramps.

Rafa’s next foe will be Nico Mahut who dished a yummy bagel in the 5th set today.

A spate of retirements also hit the mens side today with Djokovic, Ilhan and Chela benifiting.

James Blake made it in 4, so did Fat Dave, who was spraying errors left right and center until about the 3rd set but managed to hold out his Fat Daveness enough to win. Similarly Ferrer, Nando and Stan the Man all overcame sluggish starts to move into the 2nd round in 4 sets also.

Donald Young sets up a 2nd round encounter with Stan the Man after a straight sets win over Lukas Lacko. His first at the USO since 2007. Much has been written about Young, about his uber-awesomeness in the juniors, his parental coachfails and his lack of propensity to win 1st round matches in anything despite the number of wildcards he’s been given.

Now it’s easy to hate his cockiness but if any of you have managed to catch the very good Jim Courier funded doco called Unstrung about the journey of tennis juniors in the US, you’d realise how frustrating it must have been for Young. He was regularly beating 18 yr olds at 15, and having long been touted as the next big thing in American tennis, he has fallen short at every step, but the kid has game, and I hope he gets his breakthrough one day.

Gulbis created the biggest upset on the men’s side, taking out Youzhny in 3. Billed as the battle of the headcases, I guess Gulbis was just way less headcasey today.

WTA

2nd major upset in the womens side in as many days with 6th seed  Li Na falling in straights to Simona Halep. *sigh*, WTA….*sigh*.

Like COME ON, Steffi won like 20+ slams, I don’t expect that kind of consistency but I expect my top 10, reigning slam champs to at least make the 2nd round of a slam…FFS!!!!

Li’s compatriot Zheng Jie thankfully battled it through in 3, likewise with Franny “I always take 3 sets to find my range” Schiavone.

Everyone else (Serena etc),  took it hunky dory and a special mention goes to Jelena Dokic for making it to a 2nd round of a slam, you’re doing better than some others, dudette.

That’s it from me, for those peeps in timezones actually able to watch the Open please feel free to tweet match reactions at me.

 

LJ

The Federcone: now comes in strawberry or chocolate.

Oh Nike, WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME?

As if Federer – with his potato nose and chocolate curls, his 11-secret-herbs-and-spices legs – wasn’t delicious enough, you’ve now gone and coated him in strawberry icing too!

You don’t play fair, Nike. I’m not having your Swooshy babies anymore! 😦

Feddy

What do you want me to say about the match? Was it so squeaky clean that you could eat off it, lick it clean and use it as a mirror? Of course not. Who could forget the Furdlike way in which he shanked away a 5-2 lead in the first set?

But then again, I didn’t really notice – I was too busy stuffing my face with a strawberry milkshake after taking one look at that outfit.

Had it been a 62 63 match, you would’ve seen a very happy Doots and a crowd slightly cheated out of their bang for buck. As it turns out, the first set provided a good workout for Fed and those fans who are a little out practice with their frazzling.

The second set, on the other hand, made me realise that I’ve missed his tennis.

… So there’s that.

The numbers, for anyone who wants to crunch them.

zsv1uw

The porn, for anyone who wants a strawberry milkshake with chocolate swirls …

Roger 4

Roger 3

… and a Federcone, made with crunchy wafer biscuit. Om nom nom.

In other matches of the day, Maria Sharapova overcame a hotmess of a serve and a hotmess of an opponent to prevail over Sveta, 64 16 62. The serve – as long as the scoreline ain’t close, it doesn’t bother her any more than it bothers every other WTA player out there. But bring out the deuces and breakpoints and watch it become such a foreign part of her game that even her immune system wants to repel it.

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As for Sveta – she showed up. Not only did she show up, she took a set off a tough, mentally predatory opponent. Given the emotional and physical exhaustion she just went through in San Diego last week, that’s more than I expected from her. See you in Montreal.

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In other matches of the day, Soderling continued his ominous march to No 4 today with a 3 set win over the Importance, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. Only saw the last set: one giant shiftest of unreturned serves, wild groundies sailing past the baseline, Gulbis collected 36 winners and 38 unforced errors, to Soderling’s 34-33. Hardly shiny by anyone’s standards. But the reason Sodderkins has transformed himself from a top 30 player into a top 5 player in 18 months is precisely his ability to win matches on a bad day. In other words – bad match, solid win.

On a slight more off-topic note, whatever pact Ernie made with the Devil with regards to the hair? Unmake it. Scalp, face, or elsewhere.

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In the battle of the Daveeds, it was the Argentine that triumphed – barely – winning 75 36 63. In stark contrast to Soderling v Gulbis, the Daveeds lived and died by their return games as they traded 11 breaks of serve. Nalbandian won the day as Ferru fell apart completely on serve in the final set, but watching him wobble over the finish line today, one wonders if he’ll have enough gas left in the tank for Robredo.

I hope so. Because Nalbandian v Soderling sounds almost as tasty as a Federcone.

By the way, what is this? And why do people find it him smokin’/endearing/anything other than downright creepy?

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Tennis fandom. It makes no sense.

xx doots

Quotable Quotes: Fame fame baby the fame fame.

In the last 6 months, Gulbis has gone from my good books to probation, and now to the trash. Never mind that he forgot to turn up to a tournament late last year, his recent interview with the Daily Telegraph and the Times induced a steady flow of bile from me.

“The fire in me is that I want to prove to myself that I can do it, that I can be at the top. I don’t care about money, I don’t care about fame. I don’t like money and fame, I don’t need them and I’m not living for them. I don’t know if I like or love the game so much.

“I enjoy competing. I don’t like practising. When I’m on court and it’s a competition, I enjoy it. I enjoy having a goal. When you reach a goal, it’s OK, but also an empty feeling. When I won my first ATP tournament this year, I was happy for maybe 10 minutes, and that was it. Then I had an empty feeling,” he said.

“My career from then has been up and down all the time — a good experience, a bad experience, an interesting experience; I’ve played good, I’ve played terrible, I’ve played incredible, again terrible, but it’s my lifestyle because I am not a big fan of practising. I cannot stay on court more than two hours. I got totally pissed off today during practice because I had to be there more than one hour. I was frustrated because I couldn’t do any more. I like to compete, I like to play matches, that’s what I’m about. I don’t like to practise at all and that’s the reason why I wasn’t consistent during these years.”

“Now I’m happy, it’s more stable. I’m still doing a lot of stuff which isn’t good for a tennis player. I stay up late, I go out.”

But is that not what 21-year-olds do? “Yes, but maybe not so hardcore,” he says, the mischievous grin resurfacing. “I know I have a lot of talent and what else am I going to do with my life right now? I can go study, I could go help my father [Ainars, one of Latvia’s richest men]. I have a lot of interests except tennis, but at the moment this is the best thing I can do with my life. Even if I don’t always like the life on the tour, I still love to compete and I think sports overall makes you a better person.

On his supposed similarity with Safin:

“He is Russian and I’m a quarterRussian. I’m into Russian culture and when I came to the tour, we became friends,” Gulbis says. “I’m going to Moscow to visit him and he is going to come to Latvia for the summertime and I’m going to show him around. It’s better I am similar to him than some other boring persons.

“If you are bored with life, you are too stupid to think of something to do. If I’m alone in a room, I have at least four stable things I can do. I can read, [go on the] internet, listen to music, watch a movie. You have a choice. Boring is not a problem for me. I can have fun with myself. I don’t need thousands of people around to entertain me.”

And then, there was this subtle dig at “boring people”.

For the most part, Gulbis has the sense that his fellow professionals are unexciting or that that is what we have allowed them to become.

“One of my small hobbies is to watch a lot of interviews on YouTube,” he says. “Unfortunately, the sportsmen interviews, they are so boring because they are asked the same questions, all the time. ‘How do you feel after winning?’ ‘Well, I feel great, thank you.’ It’s a joke. To read this in a newspaper is a joke, you spend your time for nothing.”

It could be that I am wonderfully immune to rogues – looking at my taste in male players, I do seem to go for the good (and totally corruptible) boys rather than the ones that were corrupt to begin with.

I liked Safin, but I was never his bitch. And I’m not sure that I even buy into the Gulbis/Safin parallels. Marat’s problem was never that he hated practicing, or that he lacked commitment, or just didn’t care. His problem was that he cared too much, and became the harshest critic of himself as a result. But what would I know, right?

What I do know is that I have no time for womanizing brats without a trace of commitment or focus, viewing the world with a sense of overwhelming entitlement.

Why should I care when you don’t? I was brought up to follow the “3 Steps to Head Bitching“: setting goals, working hard, and kicking ass, and I have little respect for those wishing to skip the first two steps.

I’m sure I’ll have a lovely flux of Gulbis fangirls here shaking their indignant fists at me. But you heard me – tennis is not so desperate for the next Marat or Goran that they’ll settle for any pretender, and a world so ready to treat laziness and disrespect as ‘different’ and ‘interest qualities’ in a person is equally deserving of my trash.

xx doots

Newsreel: the Agate-stone Queen.

1. Excuse the lack of bloggage. Not only are work and my Bachelorette degrees owning my ass right now, it’s the clay season, and my mind wanders (mind you, not to snooker), but it wanders nonetheless.

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2. She may be diminutive in height, but Justine Henin was a colossus in Stuttgart, winning her first title since returning from her ‘retirement’. It also puts her at No 1 in the Sony Ericsson Championships race ahead of Venus and Serena and raises the million dollar question: can Henin end the year as No 1?

“I thought about a comeback when I saw Roger Federer win the French Open (for the first time last year). This brought back the fire,” she said.

Shocker of a second set aside, it was vintage Henin on all the big points, as she ended Stosur’s winning streak 6-4, 2-6, 6-1. I see no reason to nitpick her tennis, not when she’s just taken out Yanina Wickmayer, Jelena Jankovic and Sam Stosur back-to-back in a tournament that featured 7 of the world’s top 10 player.

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3. As for Sammy, to be honest, a slight let-down at this point was exactly what she needed. Winning Stuttgart might’ve actually sent her quiet, introverted self into freak-out mode over the possibility of something grand. Grand and slammin’, that is.

And we wouldn’t want that.

With a title and a final to start her clay season, Stosur has pulled out of Rome to rest her sore arms. Good girl.

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4. Rafa won Rome. Yay!

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3. Oh wait …  Were you looking for “commentary”? Umm, were you?

Didn’t watch a single point of the Rome final.

As far as the tournament was concerned, Ernie was the wild card, Wawrinka might’ve, could’ve but ultimately wouldn’t have. But you’d have to be delusional to think anyone from the so-called Armada is capable of pushing and then closing out a match against Rafa. Not unless Rafa was going into the match on one leg.

So the narrative of yesteryear ensues – Rafa and Justine reign supreme on clay. And frankly, after the frightening tennis plots of last two years, we could all use a little stability.

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4. Notable mentions of the week: Iveta Benesova won her second career title in Fes, defeating French junior champ/breast reduction girl Simona Halep 6-4, 6-2. I say ‘notable’, because it was only Halep’s third tournament in the WTA main draw and her first ever WTA tour final at the age of 18. Someone’s star is rising.

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5. Not to be lost in the fine print: Iveta’s 63 46 75 semifinal win against Alize Cornet was a welcomed sight. For these two “could’ve beens” of the WTA, good weeks are now few and far between.

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6. While I’ve barely had time to review last week’s actions, the WTA tournament in Rome has realdy kicked off, with Sveta Kuznetsova becoming the first major casualty in her 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 loss to MariKiri.

With this loss, Sveta descends onto a shiny 7-7 win/loss record in 2010, and has yet to win 3 matches in a row since the Australian Open. But then again, neither has Fed. The Roland Garros voodoo has struck.

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7. In other first-round action, local hopes Flavs and Franny both progressed into the second round – Schiavone with a bit of a struggle against Daniela Hantuchova, eventually wining 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.

Ana Ivanovic made news by actually winning a match, and winning it easy -sailing past E.Vesnina 6-1, 6-3. She faces Vika next.

With injuries stalking Azarenka these days, I say Miss Muffin is overdue for a much needed scalp.

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8. Things not to do while drunk: watch Roger Federer play tennis in 3D.

MEO, the cable channel from Portugal Telecom, will broadcast for the first time a national event live in 3D.

It will also be the first 3D broadcast from an ATP World Tour event. Roger Federer’s first singles match is to be broadcast in 3D on Wednesday, in what will be a historic day for Portuguese television and tennis broadcasting.

Homes with 3D television sets and spectators on-site at the Estadio Nacional, will be able to also watch the semi-finals and final.

Source: Estoril website

Right … that’s exactly what delusional monkey-loving Fedophiles need: Roger Federer sashaying around in their living rooms with his moobies and swirly hair.

It’s not so much an assault on the senses as a cold-hearted murder. Oh my poor ovaries. 😦

xx doots

Coaching, Dootsie-styled.

Oh hai Roger.

It’s a tough life, huh? Another tournament, another journeyman turned hero courtesy of donations from Roger Federer Foundation. You’re a good man. But you go home and the babies are crying, Mirka’s giving you the evil eye, Nana and Pop are too busy cooing over the little ones to pay attention to you.

It’s tough. I know. But even so, in the immortal words of Svetlana Kuznetsova: “R U CRAYYYYY?!!”

DO YOU ENJOY DRAGGING YOUR FAMILY AROUND THE WORLD FOR  NOTHING? DO YOU THINK PETE SAMPRAS’ RECORD IS GOING TO BREAK ITSELF OUT OF FEAR?! WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CAN’T FIND THE COURT?! IT’S RIGHT UNDER YOUR FUCKING FEET, GOAT-BRAIN!

I know, I know, Ernie’s a toughie.

Back in the day, I used to see him as a future slam winner. These days, I have trouble seeing him as the next Tomas Berdych. And I have no time for the Berdyches of this world. Tennis players are like caviar, once you taste the real thing, you don’t ever want to go back to that fake shit again.

YOU ARE SUPPOSED EXPENSIVE CAVIAR DUDE. YOU KNOW HOW MUCH MONEY I PAID TO SEE YOU AT THE AUS OPEN?!! (Granted, you were orgasmically good under the Aussie sun) BUT HOW CAN YOU DO THIS TO THE GOOD PEOPLE OF ROME?! HOW CAN YOU DO THIS TO FEDERBEAR, WHO AS I WRITE THIS, IS HIDING OUT IN MY CLOSET-NO-PUN-INTENDED?!!

Okay, I know I know. I’ll keep my voice down.

I’m really quite a calm person most of the time you know? You just get the worst out of me. It’s your fault, not mine.

And I know – I really do! – that you want to spend time with your daughters. When you were looking listless in the second set, you were probably recalling the good times you spent with the Mighty Babes. “Oh haha! Myla pooped on me this morning, and it was in the shape of John McEnroe’s head! Harharhar!”

It’s fun for you, you don’t wanna miss a thing. I geddit.

BUT YOUR FAMILY NEEDS YOU TO BRING HOME THE BACON DUDE. WHAT DID YOU THINK?!! THAT BACON IS GOING TO SUDDENLY GROW A SMILEY FACE, KNOCK ON YOUR DOOR AND ASK YOU TO SPONSOR A CHILD IN ETHIOPIA?!

FUCK YOU! IF YOU’VE ONLY MADE AS MUCH AS 10 TIMES MY MEAGRE STUDENT WAGE IN 3 TOURNAMENTS, THERE IS PROBABLY SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOUR TENNIS. THE SERVE, THE FOREHAND, THE NERVY THIRD SETS: DEAL WITH IT ALL, ‘CAUSE IT AIN’T GOING TO DEAL WITH ITSELF.

Meanwhile, I’m putting in interim measures and canceling Federporn Friday this week. I’m sorry. OH MY GAWD DON’T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT … I WON’T BUDGE. NO I WON’T! A FAT LOT OF HELP THE EPSN COVER WAS TO YOU WHEN YOU WERE DOWN MATCH POINT.

YOU REALISE THAT YOU CAN NO LONGER WIN MATCHES BY DAZZLING YOUR OPPONENTS WITH YOUR SEX HAIR?! YOU KNOW MY LOL-KITTIES CAN’T ATTACK LATVIAN KIDS FOR YOU?!

Sometimes, I’m not sure that you do.

Here, here’s a button.

– DON’T FIDDLE WITH IT! – when you press it, Swedish hookers will fly out of my basement towards the general direction of Latvia – THEY ONLY FLY TO LATVIA, DON’T GET ANY IDEAS – NO THEY DO NOT “DO” AMERICAN PRO GOLFERS SHUT UP –

I want you to use this next time you’re in trouble, okay?

And here’s a second button.

Only press this in cases of real emergency, because when you do, I will pole-vault myself out of my house, cross the Indian Ocean, over Asia and Europe and onto Centre Court at Wimbledon (let’s hope they’ve got the roof open).

DON’T YOU WORRY ROGIE, I WILL BE THERE.

So what are you going to do? Practice practice practice? NO SHIT. Stop being ‘CRAYYY’? Naturally.

What else are you going to do?

YES. WIN ESTORIL.

Myla and Charlene will each need a makeup brush holder in a year or two if they’re anything like Suri Cruise. YOU ONLY HAVE ONE ESTORIL TROPHY. GO GET ANOTHER ONE BABY BOY.

Until then, I’m not talking to you. In fact, I’m not even going to talk about you.

xx doots

Picket Fence Newsreel: The Monte Pythons.

1. Notable victories overnight in the Monaco principality of Monte Carlo – Ernie whipped Chiudy into submission with a 63 62 win.

Nalby and Birdy had it even easier, with the identical score line of 63 61 over Beck and Feli respectively, while JCF baked Granola bars, 60 63.

Perhaps more intriguing than the matches – WHAT’S WITH THE HAIR DUDE? YOU LOOK 50.

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2. As Monte Carlo got under way over the last two days, the biggest news so far is that Novak Djokovic has split with Todd Martin after 7 month collaboration. The pair teamed up before the US Open last year, but Nole’s serving woes and some communication issues between long-time coach Marion Vajda and Martin saw the tenure come to an end.

“You’re always going to have problems like that when you work with two coaches. They did not understand each other very well.”

“Todd is a fantastic person. He has so much experience and was willing to share everything with me. There are no hard feelings but we just decided it was not working. It was probably a question of understanding what kind of person I am.

In other words, Martin didn’t click with the Djokovic team.

The problem was probably exacerbated by Djokovic’s serve problems over the past few months. Martin reportedly attempted to tinker with Djoko’s serve to protect his shoulders, but if the woes of Ivanovic and JJ at the Australian Open were anything to go by, messing with the serve at this stage of a player’s career is just asking for misery.

“Todd has specific ideas on some issues of work. There were no major problems, but changes in my service did not work out. It was a good experience and I’m not sorry for it.”

“At the ATP Finals in London my shoulder was tired and the body automatically started to make adjustments because of that,” Djokovic explained. “Then we tried a slightly different action and it all got very complicated. So now I am just going back to my original action.”

Source: Foxnews

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3. You didn’t think I was going to skip this did ya? Over the last weekend, Stanislas Wawrinka took home his second title in almost 4 years, defeating Victor Hanescu in the final 63 62. It was his first victory over the Romanian in 3 attempts.

While competing there, Stan took some time off to visit the local mosque with his coach.

The tournament, one of the few on the ATP tour schedule played in Africa, was declared to be a success.

“It was fun to watch, and even though there weren’t a lot of Moroccans at the tournament, it is growing in popularity here, especially as we have had our share of good players recently,” said Said Chobkar, an avid tennis watcher who has documented the rise of the sports popularity in local media. He said that this year, more and more young Moroccans “are picking up a racket and started to hit some balls. Hopefully this will mean more success for us on the international stage.

[Omitted]

Majed Ibrahim, a young tour operator based in Casablanca, said he made more money during the tennis tournament that he had in the previous three months combined.

“These kind of events are really great for the country, because it brings in a lot of money from foreigners who want to see the place and not just watch sports,” he said.

Source: Bikya Masr

How awesome is this sport of ours?

As for the Swiss, the title – coming a week after his 25th birthday – was a resounding statement that he still has the drive to win at smaller tournaments, despite recently becoming oldie and a daddy. Oh wait –

Wrong Swiss.

Even so, it was important for Stan to get the monkey off his back after losing 5 consecutive finals. He’ll be looking to build on his victory in Monte Carlo, where Ilham and baby Alexia will be joining him for the first time.

FUCK YOU, ROGER FEDERER. We could’ve had a Mighty Swiss Babes play date.

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4. The ATP has a new video: DIMPLES AND DOLPHINS. My heart almost ruptured.

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5. Leon Smith, former coach of Andy Murray, has been officially named Britain’s Davis Cup captain and the head of men’s tennis at the LTA. While the rest of us took a moment to wonder out loud – “Leon WHO?” – Mark Petchey was first to jump the gun and bitch to the media.

“When Roger Draper came into the LTA it was all about a world-class leadership team, world-class people and this is it; four years down the track we are putting someone in charge of the men’s game and the Davis Cup who has none of these qualities.”

“So are we saying the strategy before was wrong and now we’re on the right one, or are we actually saying we don’t have a clue and are sticking somebody in the job who we think might persuade Andy Murray to play Davis Cup? Andy will make his own decision and I know Andy, he was happy to go with the majority view of what the players wanted in terms of a Davis Cup captain – and the majority of those players wanted Greg Rusedski.”

After the dramas surrounding Tennis Australia and now with the LTA, it seems that the politics of tennis federations aren’t so different from the politics of girlworld.

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6. Lastly, congratulations to Sania Mirza, who married Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik on Monday. There was no end to the drama as the April 15th wedding had to be brought forward by 3 days, after Muslim clerics in Hyderabad criticised the fact that Malik was living in his future bride’s house.

The ceremony was held in the presence of family and friends at a hotel in Hyderabad, attended by a delegation from the Pakistani parliament, including Pakistan’s minister for population welfare, who has asked Sania and Shoaib to become ambassadors for the country’s program to curb population growth.

So … I guess we know what that “family planning kit” is all about now.

But enough of all that. Wedding photos! Hurrah!

xx doots

Woohoo!