Tag Archive | Fernando Gonzalez

Picket Fence Newsreel: Waiting for Godot.

1. It happens every Masters – punters predict a Fedal showdown, before Rafa and/or Federer crash out early in the “upset” of the tournament. Waiting for Federer v Nadal is like waiting for Godot these days.

And why do we want Federer v Nadal anyway? After all, Rafa might be my second favourite player on the men’s tour, but when he plays Fed, all bets are off. Perfectly jolly fangirls turn into shrieking banshees during a Fedal match, and not in the most harmless way either.

And yet because no matter how many times we proclaim the end of the Fedal era to be a good thing for the sport, no matter how commentators insist that tennis isn’t all about Federer and Nadal (umm … there is also the WTA?), you’d be hard pressed to find a few actual spectators who bought tickets to the final hoping to see Ivan Ljubicic in action.

We all want a piece of that history, even if the thought of that history makes us sharpen knives in fear.

By the way, ‘expert picks’ here and here. ‘Cause, you know, they worked out so splendidly at the Australian Open and Indian Wells.

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2. Laugh in the Face of Haterade, Edition 1 2010.

I don’t like to take swipes at other bloggers. It’s impolite and after all, to each his/her own right? But if I started a paragraph with that sentence, you bet I’m about to do exactly that.

Those are my five reasons why Federer can win in Miami, but there are more. And to take the contrarian viewpoint, there are several arguments that can be made against Federer. Among them: he doesn’t care about these events anymore; his only title in the last seven months came courtesy of a Davydenko choke; he has a tough draw and guys like Berdych, Murray, etc, will beat him in best-of-3; he’s still not 100% in playing form; he can’t handle the Miami wind.; and of course the popular fact that I have now pick him so…; etc. And those are all fair points, but I’m sticking with Rog here.

Source: the fine intelligentsia of tennis-x

It actually took me a minute to work out what the person was referring to. Oh-Of-course, Roger Federer only wins titles (major titles) these days because Nikolay Dayvdenko allows him to. Poor, poor Roger.

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3. The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Awards for 2009 were given out in Miami today. Congratulations to the recipients.

There were no real surprises, though I have no idea what the “Player Service” Award is all about.

  1. Player of the Year: Serena Williams
  2. Comeback Player of the Year: Kim Clijsters
  3. Doubles Team of the Year: Venus and Serena Williams
  4. Newcomer of the Year: Yanina Wickmayer
  5. Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award: Kim Clijsters
  6. Player Service: Elena Dementieva
  7. Humanitarian: Liezel Huber*

* Lizel Huber’s charity – Liezel’s Cause – helps victims of Hurricane Katrina. (clickey)

I thought Venus looked great…

Until I saw the Ugg boots.

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4. OH MY GOD YOU GUYS: SODDYBUMS. SMILEY. DIMPLES. DOLPHIN.

I could put that into an actual sentence, but it would require to much thinking.

Who’s cuter? Bobby Sod or Flipper?

Ferrer was there too. Next!

Gonzo and Belluci joined the fun. Oh happy, flippity days!

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5. I dare say Rafael Nadal will probably give you permission to punch his teeth out now. His wisdom teeth that is. He revealed during his pre-tournament press conference that he’s suffering from inflammation to his wisdom teeth. It won’t affect his participation in the tournament, but he was in visible pain during the press conference.

The pain started two days ago and Rafa will receive treatment during his stay in Miami. I sympathise, I really do. I should be getting mine out soon, it’s making a move.

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6. In Miami results, Bandy had a much easier time than expected against Lukasz Kubot winning 6-3, 6-2. I wish I could say the same about Reeshie, who blew a close match against Belgium pocket-rocket Oliver Rochus, 7-6 (2), 1-6, 6-4 for his second consecutive first round exit.

So much for having points to gain.

As I write this, Fed’s latest hitting partner and the star of NBTA – Filip Krajinovic has split sets with Jimmy Blake.

On the women’s side, Justine Henin has no troubles dispatching Jill Craybas, while Kimiko battled past a flubbering AChak 75 36 64.

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7. Federer fans, don’t ever change.

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xx doots

Picket Fence Newsreel: Deserting the desert.

1. The withdrawal bug has hit Indian Wells: Del Potro and Gonzalez are officially out.

The former is still struggling with wristy business and the latter needs the time to raise money for the earthquake relief effort in his home country. I don’t know what Gonzo’s planning, but why couldn’t he have done what Zheng Jie did for the Szechuan earthquakes and donated his tournament winnings?  EDIT: WORD JUST OUT – Gonzo will be playing either Fed or Rafa in Miami to raise funds for Chile.

Davydenko and Federer are “technically” still on the entry list, although I wouldn’t be surprised if  we see a last-minute withdrawal from Dayvo.

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2. We’ve all been touched by the tragedies in Haiti and Chile. The same rings true for many tennis players. The Hit for Haiti program in Indian Wells announced today that it will feature Steffi Graf, Lindsay Davenport, Justine Henin and Martina Navratilova in addition to Federer/Sampras v Nadal/Agassi. That’s 94 grand slams over 3 decades of arse-kickery. Smelling salts anyone? 

But as I tweeted earlier, what I’d really love to see is Roger and Steffi in mixed doubles. They remind me a lot of each other.

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3. Mentioning Haiti, can you find a tennis player in this video?

 

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4. The dramas within Tennis Australia make the snooty private girl school I went to look like a community of Buddhist monks. Stop the factionalism and get your shit together, TA.

 

McNamee, the former Australian Open CEO and a current Tennis Australia presidential candidate, has been credited with helping to smooth the rift between Hewitt and his talented heir apparent. The players recently shared a telephone conversation that both have said helped resolve differences, notably a practice-session snub at Wimbledon that Tomic has described as a ”misunderstanding”.

McNamee confirmed yesterday that he had played a role in the bridge-building, while refusing to divulge specifics on the basis that ”it’s just so good for the sport that it’s been sorted out”. Yet he was clearly bemused by Fitzgerald’s claim that Tomic had heard only from Hewitt and that no third parties had been involved.

”He hasn’t heard from Paul [McNamee] or anyone and I don’t know whether there’s any self-promotion around from any corners of the tennis community,” cup captain Fitzgerald said on Saturday. ”But all I know is that Paul hasn’t had anything to do with this Davis Cup team, not for the last 10 years and not now. I want to make that very clear.”

McNamee’s response: ”I was there, so that’s all I can say. If I’m there, I’m there. It’s extraordinary.”

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5. It’s Oscar season and Serena Williams looks ready to hit the parties during her Indian Wells absence. She made a shimmery appearance at the Global Green pre-Oscar party. As the name suggests, eco-friendly is the new Avatar.

 

 

 

 

6. Since we’re talking flicks, Paradon Srichaphan’s been busy promoting his new movie, the historical thriller “Bang Rajan 2”.

 

 

 

A man of many talents, apparently.

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7. Shock! Horror! Outrage!

No Federporn Friday this week. As you can see, I am Macbookless and stuck with a desktop PC 😦

xx doots

Picket Fence Newsreel: the Alchemist.

1. Fire! Water! Air! Earth!

No, it’s not some weird Captain Planet cult invented by Gen-Y Federer fans, just the new Wilson BLX racket.

You know you’re suffering from Federer withdrawal if you watched the entire thing despite the annoying voice and the background that looks like it was stolen from a TV promo for ‘Charmed‘.

Advertising fail, Wilson.

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2. More on the earthquake in Chile: Gonzo has told the Chilean press that he might pull out of Indian Wells to raise money for Chile’s earthquake victims.

“What I want is to help, and I’m looking at the possibility of not going to play at Indian Wells and to stay in Chile to help.

“I have several ideas and in a couple of weeks I’ll try to do something to generate resources. I want to send a message of hope to all of Chile. What does not kill strengthens. I have received many messages from my colleagues, including Roger Federer, who is very concerned about what happened in Chile. I hope that we pull through this.”

Gonzo also asked his countrymen to stop the looting. “There are more important things than to go looting, we should all be united,” said Gonzalez, adding that he will try to raise Chilean spirits by leading them to a Davis Cup victory. “I hope to win and so give a little joy to our country is suffering so much.” [Chile’s DC tie against Israel has be rescheduled to start on Saturday]


He might act like an asshole on court at times, but Fernando Gonzalez is a decent guy who’ll do anything for his country. If you didn’t know that already from his performances at the Olympics.

You know who else is a decent guy? The Swissy who messaged his colleague out of concern.

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3. Talk about earthquakes, the tectonic plates need to calm down.

After Haiti and Chile, Taiwan has also been hit by a 6.4-magnitude earthquake in the South. There is widespread damage and disruptions to communications around the island. Local news reports said several people were injured.

The Chinese Taipei Davis Cup team is in Melbourne, preparing for their tie against Australia this weekend.

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4. Will he or won’t he?

First, Nalby tells the press that he’ll play Davis Cup on a wheelchair if he has to. Then he pulls out. Now, it seems that Bandy will be making an appearance after all in Argentina’s tie against Sweden. He’s down for doubles, but may play a singles rubber if things get close.

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5. Indian Wells wild cards have been issued to Henin, Moya, Nalbandian, Ginepri, McHale, Glatch, Mattek-Sands, Molik, Daniilidou, Paszek, Ryan Harrison and Alja Tomljanovic.

Perfect. All need we – apart from a picket fence – is for TMF to make an appearance too.

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6. Mentioning Indian Wells, casualties so far: Vesnina, Mirza and – I believe – the newly Americanised Tommy Haas. Haas recently underwent surgery on his right hip and is expected to be sidelined for up to 6 weeks, or – as retirement gossip has it -forever.

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7. More pictures from Ethiopia, courtesy of SI.

A little medicine for all your withdrawal symptoms. ‘Cause I’m thoughtful like that. 😉

xx doots

Down Under Day 7: Halfway Hurricanes.

Day 7. The official half way point of a slam when the big names are starting to either hit their strides or hit the nadir of their nosedive.

Justine Henin came dangerously close, once again, to a nosedive. While Kim’s fairy tale run to the US Open title was impressive in its suddenness, Henin’s comeback has been, in many ways, even more enjoyable. There’s a quality in her that’s inspired better tennis in all her opponents since Brisbane.

Yesterday, I witnessed Yanina Wickmayer play the match of her career. For 3 whole sets, Wickmayer blasted whatever ball that came her way, and took strides forward whenever a shot from Henin fell a fraction short of the baseline. It was thrilling, powerful and creative tennis from both women in what I believe to be the best match of the tournament.

And yet, we seemed to be using the phrase “best match of the [insert period]” on Justine Henin more and more these days.

If there’s one thing that sets Justine apart, it’s that she finds a way to win. We saw that against Kleybanova, and we saw that yesterday against Wicky. Yanina had 3 set points at 6-5 in the first set, did absolutely nothing wrong on any of them, and lost all 3. And 5 points later, when the set progressed into a tiebreak, Henin didn’t miss another shot.

While Yanina stayed positive through the second set, completely overpowering Henin with her aggressive groundstrokes, Justine just took it to a whole new level in the third set, breaking Wicky in the first game with the most ridiculous all-court rally. From then on, she delivered, time and time again on serve to maintain her lead. And admirably, Wickmayer went down swinging til the very end, with just a shadow of something reminiscent of Maria Sharapova in her.

Top 10 by Roland Garros.

Magda Szubanski was there to add to the awesomeness.

Also hitting their strides were Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal, as I watched both progress safely through to set up a thunderous quarterfinal.

As much as I hate to admit it, if I had to give out grades for Week 1 performances at the Australian Open, Andy Murray would be top of the class. Isner had his chances in the first set, but the shot selection and execution under pressure just isn’t there, as exhibited by his pathetic excuse for a drop shot in the first set tiebreak. Of course, life was made that much harder by Andy Murray making a grand total of 5 unforced errors in the match.

Photos my own.

Didn’t see the rest of the match – a particular “someone” was practicing out on Court 17 with hot hair.

You see, I’ve got my priorities right.

[Friend: “Look look look! It’s Ro- OOOOHH HAAAIR.” *cross-eyed*]

Yes, Mr Hair has hypnotic powers, y’all!

Excuse the lack of 200 pictures to spam you with, I didn’t managed to get any autographs or photos other than the ones here. It’s not a hyperbole when I say that the girl next to me fainted when she saw Roger, and she stayed fainted.

I thought I was hardcore.

After an intense internal debate with self, I decided that human life was more important than Federporn.

After his practice, Roger signed a few autographs quickly on his way out. The Federer gang had a laugh with Sven Groeneveld, who came in with Caroline Wozniacki.

Meanwhile Doots and her slightly hypnotized friend headed back to Rod Laver Arena, just in time for Rafa v Karlovic.

The crowd, as expected, was predominant pro-Rafa, known affectionately as “Raf”. That’s Aussies and our lazy tongues for ya – by the middle of the first set, the “c’mon Karlovic” cheers from the Croatian fans had turned into a murky “caarrrrn Karlo”.

One little thing about Ivo Karlovic: he’s 10 times more impressive live than on TV. I may roll my eyes whenever I see him in a televised match, but it is only from the court side that you begin to fully appreciating the speed, placement, trajectory, and pop on his serve.

And will we ever give him enough credit for having more to his game than just the serve? Dude’s a pretty nifty volleyer, and did well yesterday to smell an opportunity at the end of the second set and convert it for a set of his own.

As for Rafa, the loss of a set was hardly a reflection of his form, but rather a combination of luck, momentarily loss of focus and the pressure put on by Karlovic at the right time.

During the fourth set of Raf’s match, we headed back to the cooler practice courts to escape the searing sun on Rod Laver Arena, and happened to catch Mr Casa Nova practicing ahead of his match against Davydenko yesterday.

In the thriller match of the day, Marin Cilic defeated Del Potro in 5 sets in 4 and a half hours for his first ever quarterfinal showing. Can’t say I was surprised, since I predicted Cilic to take down Del Potro in 4 sets. The stats were against del Potro – name the last male player to win back-to-back slams off his first slam?

Yeah, keep thinking…

Q. There would have been a lot of extra pressure on you, being a reigning Grand Slam champion. Do you think that weight will be lifted before your next major?

JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: No, I really enjoyed that pression. The crowd is unbelievable with me. They support me every match, every point. I was down in every match, and they help me to keep fighting, like today. I really like it, that pression.

I get that players don’t always speak perfect English. What I don’t get is why the Australian Open transcribers feel the need to transcribe a mispronunciation.

To add to the ‘pression‘ of being a slam champ, del Potro has had an array of physical niggles all week, very nearly falling to a resilient Blake. Meanwhile, Cilic had been gather steam with his wins against Santoro, Tomic and Wawrinka.

Cilic next faces Andy Roddick, who came through his own 5 set epic against a blazing Fernando Gonzalez. If Andy Roddick needed to fire a warning shot for the tournament, this match did it.

The majority of the second and third sets left me wonder how it’s the laws of physics could allow Fernando Gonzalez to hit the ball with this much gusto and pace and miss so rarely.

Perhaps the only thing more impressive than a firey Gonzo is a Randy on the other side of the court who simply refused to fold. In his maturity, Andy Roddick achieved something that I never saw in him in his earlier years – fight, resilience, heart, guts, or whatever you choose to call a core of steel.

And ain’t he glad he weathered Hurricane Gonzo? Once Roddick squeaked out the fourth set, Gonzo was, in so many ways, Gonzo.

Some people, they never change.

xx doots

Down Under: Kooyong shenanigans.

Oh yeth, it’s Kooyong time, the invitational tournament that pompously calls itself “the spiritual home of Australian tennis“.

I was fortunate enough to catch Day 1’s actions court side and as usual, it was a day of fun, light-hearted tennis, mingled with sunburns, peri-peri, and little boys demanding to know “but Daddy, where’s Federer?”

 


Del Potro, whom the guy sitting behind me knowledgeably referred to as “Martin Porto“, kicked off the day, overpowering Ivan Ljubicic with a 6-3, 6-3 victory. 

 

“I feel good with my tennis, I feel confident.

“Of course, to beat Roger in the (US Open) final gave to me a lot of motivation and confidence to keep trying, keep working.

“When I go to the court with Roger, Rafa, I don’t feel too much different. That’s important for the career for the future, and of course if I want to fight for the number one ranking.”

 

Djokovic followed suit, as he put a 2 match losing streak against Tommy Haas to a halt, winning 62 63 in just under 57-minute.

 

 

 

 

 

The message Nole has right now for his competitors seems to be that he has done all the preparations to ensure the Australian heat will not affect him this year, after his fiasco in 2009 against Roddick.

I doubt it will either, since the weatherman’s telling us we’re in for a surprisingly cool 2 weeks

For Tommy Haas, it was a bad showing as he struggled with an erratic forehand and spent half the match yelling at himself in German.

 

 

After snacking on some peri-peri chicken midday, the crowd got ready for the battle of the Nandos between Gonzo and Verdasco. The tight first set featured some fabulous forehand rallies, with Verdasco finally able to break for the set at 7-5.

The second set was mostly one way traffic, as Gonzo sank deeper into the sludge of unforced errors and Verdasco began to hit his stride, taking it 6-1. 

 

 

It seemed that Spaniard had put his late season injuries from 2009 behind him, after spending a fortnight in Vegas during the off-season training with “Team Agassi” – also known as Darren Cahill and Gil Reyes. 

And I’ve gotta say, no matter how much of a playboy Verdasco comes off as, whenever I’ve seen him interact with fans off-court, particularly children, he’s always been incredibly polite and sweet.

 

 

 

The last match of the day featured two of my favourite players – Jo-Willy and Bobby Sod. The first set was a close contest, as the Sod and Jo continued to slam the snot out of the ball, eliciting many a gasp from the crowd. 

 

 

Which made Soderling’s subsequent implosion slightly inexplicable – the Swede failed to win a single point during the tiebreak, and could only scrape a game in the second set. But for Tsonga, it was good news all-round as Jo-Willy looked fit and focused, showing no signs of being bothered by his recent wrist niggle.

 

 

More photos here.

xx doots

Picspam: Faces of elation.

 

 

The invitational tournament in Kooyong starts tomorrow (weather permitting) and features a rather intriguing field of Djokovic, del Potro, Haas, Soderling, Ljubicic, Tsonga Verdasco and Gonzalez. 

Murray, Roddick and Federer haven’t exactly ruled out the possibility of playing a one-off match as a sweetener for the fans on Thursday or Friday. 

 

 

Oh Jo-Willy, what happened to the fuzzy hair? 😦

Fish eyes v blue eyes. 

 

 

At the press conference, players took turns to bitch about the ATP tournament schedule.

Verdasco, who allowed himself only 10 days rest after the Davis Cup before resuming training again, called for a longer off-season. 

 

“I think every player would like to have at least two weeks off and then have more time also to prepare, you know. Not to be in a rush.”

“I didn’t play Abu Dhabi, I didn’t play Doha that I was supposed to play because, you know, to finish in the Davis Cup on the 7th (of December) is impossible.”

 

Djoko, who did have a 2 week break, still agreed, citing the short off-season as a hindrance to his acting ambitions.

No, I wasn’t being sarcastic. 

 

“I got offered to be a part of this show which … is about the king who is one of the biggest names in our (Serbian) history,” he said.

“He was assassinated in France — I hate that part.

“But for now I’m going to skip it because the scheduling is too busy for me.”

 

 

Nole further went on to reveal that the Players Council will meet with the ATP this month to discuss the possibility of a longer off-season, ideally 2 months. Good for you. 

No, I wasn’t being sarcastic there either.

 

“We are trying to fight for the players rights and I think it is very important that people understand how we feel,” the Serbian world number three told reporters.

“Listening to the top players, you get the fair point … (The season) is just too long. And definitely, having five weeks, four weeks … before the start of the new season is so, so little.

“We have to have at least two months and that’s the minimum, I mean, considering the season that we are playing and the amount of matches and the level we are playing.”

 

While Nole’s not exactly the picture-perfect advocate for players’ health, he believes that he’s in better shape this year for the Australian Open than last year.

 

“I was in the role of defending champion at a grand slam for the first time in my life so I was going through a lot of tough periods at the start of 2009.”

“I didn’t feel 100% physically ready for the tournament, then I changed my racquet and I think it all reflected on my game and on court, and I was going through a lot of stress periods.

“Unfortunately, I finished the way I did, but this year is quite different and I just hope it won’t finish that way.”

 

The difference in 2010, according to Djoko, is that he spent two weeks in high-altitude training in the Italian Alps before some more intensive training in Dubai. The contrasting conditions is believed to equip him better for the Melbourne heatwaves.

Easier said at a press conference than when you’re down 2 sets and the mercury hits 40C.

We’ll see. 

xx doots

Beijing/Tokyo: WHY?!

It is said that for every match Marat Safin plays to his potential, one case of cancer is miraculously cured in the world.

Pity he doesn’t do that more often. 

 

 

I just watched in shock as the Hippo serve out his match against Gonzo for a place in the Beijing quarterfinals.

Why?!

The dude served up 12 aces and out played Gonzo from the baseline. Complete cruise control.

Safin. On cruise control. I refused to believe my eyes.

WHY?!!  

 

 

Next up, Rafael Nadal. OH-EM-GEE. I don’t think I can take it

Mentioning Rafa, you’d be forgiven for thinking that his second round clash with Blake was a WTA match. 8 breaks of serve throughout the match: some shiny conversion rate by the Rafanator (5/6), and a positively Federer-esque effort by Blake (3/11?!!). 

I’m not sure if Rafa’s playing it safe because of his recent injuries, or perhaps this is too minor a tournament for him to be exerting much effort, but spinning in powderpuff serves against James Blake is just asking for them to be spanked back.

Thankfully, JB can always be counted on to lose precisely when he has no business losing. With a double fault, Blake surrendered serve at 3-4 in the third, and Rafa lived to fight another match. 

And boy, wasn’t he happy about it?

 

 

With Murray and Federer both out of Shanghai, you know what? I think I’ll hop myself on the comfy bandwagon of Mr. Chequeredpants for the time being.

Yer go Minty! 

 

 

Over in Tokyo, it appears that Stan has stolen Verdasco’s old ‘do.

MAKE IT STOP.


 

It’s been a good couple of weeks so far by Ernests Gulbis, who has made the most out of an easy draw and broken his second round curse with wins over Stepanek and Pico.

That’s more like it!

 

 

Ernie is due to face Jo-Willy next in a rematch of their Thai thriller last week, after Tsonga survived a streaky Gasquet and typhoon winds in Tokyo. At one point, the winds were so wild they caused advertising boards to blow across the court. 

 

“It was dangerous. I saw the (advertising) board start to move and thought ‘Woah!’ You never know what can happen,” said Tsonga after the match.

Source: Skysports

 

With the roof open after 3 days of rain, Jo-Willy settled down, and Reeshie unsettled and lost all confidence. Perhaps it was for the best, as a good run could secure Jo-Willy’s Masters Cup qualification bid.

But even so, why must all my favourites play each other?

Why must Reeshie possess the talent of Federer and the mind of Dinara? Why must Safin continue to taunt us all with his tortured awesomeness? Why isn’t Roger playing?!

WHY?

Picspam: Truly Aaaaaasia.

The tournament in KL is underway as the PMO organisers arranged a players party at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. 

Go back to your room Reeshie, you’re GROUNDED.

 

 

One of the great things about having tournaments in non-Western countries is that the organisers always feel obliged to dress the players up in traditional costumes.

Can you imagine tournaments in the US trying to coax Rafa into cowboy clothes? Or Australian Open organisers persuading Federer that floral boardshorts with “thongs” are the way to go?

 

 

Not to be outdone by Uzbekistan last week, Malaysia (truly Aaaaasia!) brought out the batik shirts for their guests. No surprises – Davo wore it with the most number of buttons done up, and Of course, FeVer left as many open as possible.

But dare I say it? Le Sod looks hot. Here’s to hoping he has a great Asian swing and indoor season to qualify for the YEC. He deserves to be there. 

 

Also, there are too many jokes to be made about 4 men standing in front of the Petronas Twin Towers with their schticks.

But you know me – I’m just a prude. 

 

 

USO Day 13: Back to Bedlam.

It rained cats and dogs over Flushing Meadows today as the tennis world waited around for some actual tennis action and complained about the lack of a roof. And when we finally got to see some tennis, it was blissful bedlam

 

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

 

Conscious of the fact that the way the match ended overshadowed the rest of the contest, I’m going to try to talk about the actual match: 

It was gripping. It was tense. It was filled with well-struck, well-constructed points. Serena and Clijsters played like the polar opposites that they are – one was full of passionate intensity, the other – an aura of maternal zen. One attacked with ferocious pace while the other absorbed that pace like water. Bruce Lee would’ve been proud. 

I must admit Kim Clijsters was never a player I was crazy about back in the day. I had the same sort of problems with her back then as I have with the Dementievas and Safinas of this world now – too neurotic, slightly bland, no fire in her belly…

Don’t look so shocked – I’m as surprised as anyone to find myself seated first class on her comeback train. It might be the fairy tale nature of it all. Perhaps it’s the fact that a mum who’s out there still creating a career for herself, especially in the field of professional sport, is deserving of admiration just on that merit alone. Or maybe it’s because the field has weakened since Clijsters last played, highlighting the quality of her tennis. 

 

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

 

Or maybe, Clijsters has come back a different player. She’s calmer, almost Federeresque in her zen demeanor on court. Even her defensive shots had more pace, greater depth than what we’ve become accustomed to seeing from JJ or Wozniacki. And they were hit with more conviction and commitment.

After watching Dinara and Vera implode in the last few weeks, it’s refreshing to see Clijsters with her head held up high, calmly constructing points against Serena. No inferiority complexes, just positive body language emanating out of her

The Kimpossible did more than just to wait for Serena to self-destruct. She took it to Serena, mixed up her shots with the slice, moved Serena around. She caused Serena to feel tense from the very start

As a result, Clijsters became the first person (I believe) since … Justine Henin at the 2007 US Open to beat both Venus and Serena en route to a title – as a mother, a “former retiree”. As someone who’s been away from the game and the public eye for the last two years. 

I ain’t giving it to her just yet, but barring a total implosion, I don’t see Hot Woz winning. Everything that Caroline can do on a tennis court, Kim can do with more zing. 

 

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

 

Perhaps fitting to the overall vibe of the WTA, the gripping match ended with even more gripping drama. We’ve all seen what happened – a controversial foot fault, and an even more controversial reaction to the foot fault. 

To state the obvious:

– The call was dubious.

– It was made at a bad time.

– The lines woman did nothing wrong.

Was it the best choice to call a foot fault? Nope. It was totally inappropriate given the moment and occasion. Do we really believe in the myth that lines persons can be robots who just call what they see? Do we honestly think that there is no discretionary decision-making involved in a call – however momentary and fleeting that decision-making process may be?

But from a purely positivist perspective, rules are rules. And there’s not a whole lot you can hold against the lines person. 

Even so, Serena should’ve never reacted the way she did. It came off as a petulant, muscular diva threatening a small Asian lines person. ‘Might’ against ‘right’. Reading some of the reactions to the drama on fan forums and youtube, it’s disappointing to see cultural stereotypes seeping into popular perceptions of the event. 

 

STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images

 

I’d cut her some slack though, as overboard as her reactions were, she wouldn’t be Serena Williams if she didn’t explode into expletives. That’s part and parcel of the way she functions. I’m hoping for Serena to change her tune and issue a formal apology. Most likely, the ITF will give her a cursory slap on the wrist for it too: 

 

…Williams will be asked to explain her actions and comments toward a female line judge at the end of her semifinal defeat to Kim Clijsters on Saturday night. A source revealed that representatives from tennis’ governing body – the International Tennis Federation – plus members of the Grand Slam Committee, which oversees the four major tournaments – will convene along with U.S. Open referee Brian Earley on Sunday

The group is expected to review video footage of the incident, seek clarification from the line judge and most likely hand down a heavy fine to Williams. A representative from the WTA Tour is also expected to be included, although the Tour does not have jurisdiction over Grand Slam events.

 

Let’s hope they don’t treat Serena’s overreaction with an overreaction of their own. 

 

In other matches, CWoz finished off Wickmayer as expected. I only watched the last game after the Clijsters match ended, so I can’t say much. From the single game I saw, it looked as uninspiring as it promised to be. 

 

EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

 

For the men’s side, Gonzo turned up braindead for the last set against Rafa, who pounded his topspin forehand high to Gonzo’s singlehanded backhand for a quick 76 76 60 victory. Well … that’s good practice for playing a certain Swiss.  

Ahem ahem. Who was the person who thought Rafa would do well at this US Open against a chorus of “hahaha..ummm..noooo…kthxbye”? That would be Yours Truly. Thank you very much. 

As for tomorrow’s semis: should Roger lose to Djokovic, you’ll find me in bed … with Vodka.

Should both Federer and Nadal get through their respective semis, I’ll be preparing myself for nuclear armament as every heathen descends on tennis world to launch full-scale internet haterade

 

 

Help! 

Dootsie

USO Day 11: I care.

Del Poopoo is through to the semifinal of the US Open after coming back from a set and break deficit to defeat Marin in 4 sets. 

Bad execution and shot-selection for Marin on some key points meant that he couldn’t keep the momentum going despite a fairly strong start to the match. That, and also the fact that del Poop probably had a tad more fire in the belly than some of Marin’s previous opponents. Dude just kept bangin’ away and taking it to Marin.

Good fight by Poop, kid’s got a lotta heart and class. It’s hard to dislike him. 

 

 

Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

 

That said, it’s hard to feel inspired by the future of men’s tennis either. 

Blaaah.

 

The other quarterfinal between Rafa and Gonzo was called off after rain interrupted proceedings twice. Rafa was up a set, and leading in the tiebreak 3-2 (Gonzo to serve). Unless Gonzo comes out firing tomorrow, I think Rafa’s got it under control.

 

Before the tournament started, the players were asked about whether the US Open needed a roof. Most answered no. Roger said yes. 

 

“Is it necessary? Maybe not. I don’t know. With a roof you can make it more predictable for fans, sponsors, TV, players. That’s why it’s a good thing to have. That’s why I’m obviously for it.”

 

Clearly, the Weather Gods agree.

To say, as many have done, that the US Open shouldn’t get a roof because 1) “hey, we survived for so long without one”, 2) “God forbid we should somehow change the atmosphere of the stadium” is just conservative sentimentalism in an age that demands predictable television coverage and ticket sales. 

If Wimbledon can get over its own traditionalist nostalgia and acquire a roof for the sake of schedule-efficiency, then I think the folks in New York will survive the change too. Colour me surprised if they manage to hold out long after Roland Garros organisers succumb to the demands of a roof themselves.  

With rain forecasted in the next few days and the tournament running behind schedule for the second year in a row, it’s time for the US Open to keep up with the times.