Tag Archive | Gisela Dulko

Roland Garros Day 1: Play.

There’s a Paris that exists in popular imagination as romantic, delicious and artistic. Symbol of good taste.

Unfortunately (or perhaps, fortunately), that is not the Paris that Roland Garros brings out. The sole slam on clay tends to show the other side of this lovely city – the side that stormed the Bastille and chopped off the king’s head.

So it was with trepidation that I turned on my live stream to watch a few WTA first round clashes. The women’s side has been prone to early top seed wipeouts lately, and Sveta and Venus both had potentially tricky first round opponents. Surprisingly, they both made it through with relative ease, taking out Cirstea 63 61 and Nutty Patty 63 63.

For Sveta, the cloud of defending champ voodoo hung over her head as she quickly got down 0-3 with a string of errors. But as she stepped up to the baseline to serve at 0-3, three of her forehands suddenly found themselves within the lines. She held, gave herself a couple of fist pumps and went on to win 12 of the next 13 games.

Probably the most convincing match I’ve seen Sexlana play since the Australian Open, and didn’t she play it just in time?

(Pity about Sori, with a quarterfinal to defend, looks like she’ll be taking a dive down the rankings.)

As for Venus, the good news is her problem lately hasn’t been the early rounds. The bad news is that it tends to be in the semis or the finals where she completely no-shows.

We’ll see what happens in Paris. Do check out her ‘Lady Marmalade’ inspired outfit though. “Voulez vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?”

While Sveta and Venus dodged the upset bug, there was no such luck for Vika, who was thoroughly outclassed by Gisela Dulko, 61 62. That Vika should fall to a well-known giant-killer was not surprising. But the score, and the contrast between the hot mess that was Azarenka and the cool cola kid in Dulko didn’t make it pretty for the 10th seed. Dulko played an intelligent match, with just the right mix of guile and consistency to flummox Vika. It was a good time to step up – she’s in a cushy part of the draw.

On the men’s side of things, if Mandy was the Nole of 07, and Delpo was the Mandy of 08, then Cilic is the Delpo of 09 and Ernie is the Cilic of … umm, never mind. Tsonga was supposed to be somebody, I’m just not sure who. In any case, it’s just another ascending scale of non-performance, with a caveat on Del Potro’s injury. And with Roger and Serena winning the Aus Open, and Rafa and Justine in fine form for Roland Garros, 2010 feels a little … well, 2007.

I can live with that.

Day 1 of Roland Garros saw Tsonga taken to 5 sets by Daniel Brands, eventually winning 46 63 62 67 75. An erratic Marin Cilic, at one stage, split sets and went down a break in the third set to Ricardo Mello – a guy who has only won back-to-back tour-level matches once in his career. Cilic eventually prevailed 61 36 63 61, and yet I couldn’t help but remember the Australian Open, where Cilic Peppers persisted erratically, winning tough round after round until bodily fatigue finally wore down an eager heart. Think we’re headed for a repeat? Or worse – an early exit?

With his results lately, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Last week, Rafa and Roger respectably disagreed on whether how much of a player’s clay season performance depends on their performance in the tournaments leading up to Roland Garros, and how much of it depends on what happens in Paris. Gulbis and MJMS rode into Paris on a wave of good publicity after their successes during the European clay circuit. They came looking to cause bangs, but left with nothing but whimpers of pain, as MJ crashed out to Amanmuradova 62 64 and Ernie retired when down to Julien Benneteau 46 26 01 with a hamstring injury.

It’s a shame not to live up to expectations and form, because 3 years from now, I’m not sure how many of us will remember the clay season either of them had.

xx doots

Indian Wells: Rocky road.

1. 2nd major tournament of 2010, second early exit by Maria Sharapova. This follows her round 2 loss at Wimbledon and round 3 at the US Open. At least she sounded a lot optimistic than I do right now.

“It’s just the mystery of the unknown.We can only do so much and work as much as we can. It’s a combination of both physically and mentally just getting stronger and little steps.

I think I’m doing a lot better than other people that have had shoulder surgery in their careers.  Some people have never come back. What, I’m 13 in the world or something?  That’s a lot better than some of the girls I’ve lost to in the last year.”

It’s a long long road back from injury and it’s a rocky one. Not of the confectionary kind.

The common feature in her losses to Zheng Jie, Oudin and Kiriklenko over the past 6 month has been that she’s hit more winners, unforced errors and double faults than her opponents. It’s not that these victors were counterpunching pushers waiting for her to ‘give away the match’. It’s about her game having too much black-and-white, hits-and-misses and not enough grey.

Yes, grey is neither her style nor her personality. But it wouldn’t hurt to see some minor tweaks in her game. Especially with a whole new generation of Baby Sharapovas coming up with more consistency albeit less mental fortitude than Sharapova.

Still. Hard to be mad at Zheng Jie when she’s such a cute little rubber duck.

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2. Non-upsets of the day: Gisela Dulko tells the story of a typical journeywoman – beating Justine Henin one day, winning a grand total of one game against Aga the next.

Comebacks are all the rage on the WTA tour – Alicia Molik crushes Lena Balt 60 62 to advance to the third round of Indian Wells.

Greul grilled Monfils 16 62 63, Blake blitzed Ferrer 61 64. Melzer melted Nalbandian by the inverse scoreline of 64 61.

No Fedbandian quarterfinal then? Le sad.

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3. Of course, we were almost denied of a Federer quarterfinal of any kind altogether as Victor Hanescu took a set in his 36 76 16 loss to a chili-red Roger.

The first set was over a flash as Roger got up an early break and lost only one point on serve. You can be forgiven for expecting the second set to be just as straight forward. After his hawk-eye successes at the Australian Open, the Fed reverted back to his love/hate relationship with our favourite birdy.

Hey genius, two things you can’t argue against in tennis – hawkeye for a bad call, and a wall for outhitting you.

But it seems that taking a set off Hot Papa was all that Hanescu could manage before a third set burn-out. Roger upped his service percentage and closed out the deal with a breadstick, and took a few more vases home for Mirka.

Baghdatis next. Fear for your knickers.

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4. Ana Ivanovic fell to Sevastova in her first match at Indian Wells. With this loss, she’s set to tumble out of the top 50 for the first time since 2004. It’s depressing. It’s humiliating. It’s well-publicised … or perhaps more appropriately – badly-publicised.

It’s just a awful story.

So I’m going to stop talking about it.

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5. Wisdom from Bodo.

Sure, players have bad days, and women players often have bad days for biologically-related reasons that are never discussed (it goes against the grain of both good manners and our general social philosophy) but loom at the proverbial 800-pound gorilla in the room.

Okay then.

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6. I’m a little late on this thanks to the internet fiasco at home, but Hit for Haiti 2 turned out to be the unfortunate clash of personalities it promised to be.

Rafa looked overawed at times and wasn’t nearly as relaxed and quippy as he was in Australia with Nole. Fed was goofy and McDreamy, and really tried to make things about as pleasant as he could.

Andre and Pete? Fire and ice.

From the outset, it felt like Andre was trying to overcompensate the humor of the night. Depending on your view of AA, either he got too relaxed and loose-lipped, or he set out to bait Pete in the first place. It didn’t help that Pete not only took the bait but took it badly. It was shocking, inappropriate, embarrassing. It was the walking-in-on-nasty-Christmas-fights kind of awkward. It made me want to rewind back to the part of the night that was still cheery and playful.

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Andre Agassi. The little kinks in his personality are what makes him one of the most intriguing characters in tennis. But this was no brainer – he said the wrong thing at the wrong time. He embarrassed Pete, who he knew wasn’t quick or sharp enough to tease back with the same sort of dark, edgy humor.

Not to mention: he did so at a charity match in front of 16,000 people. It killed the atmosphere and shifted the focus of the night from altruism to scandal.

When asked about the incident, Rafa said he didn’t understand it. Whether he was being genuine or just refusing to get involved we’ll never know.

Fed also downplayed the incident with a line I wish he used on the night to break the ice: “Now being a father I thought we had to give both guys a time out.

Cracking dad jokes already are we?

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7. To end on a positive note: bullying Roger? Bad idea.


Picket Fence Newsreel: the Giant Wobble.

1. WTA tennis sans Williams usually involves top seeds falling like dominoes. The upset bug is highly contagious, and it spreads fast amongst self-doubters and mental midgets. Justine Henin is neither of those things. This wasn’t supposed to happen to her.

But it did, as she fell victim to Gisela Dulko and the Pink Curse, 62 16 64.

Didn’t see a single game of the match, but the serve and general overplaying were to blame for the travesty. Can’t say I’m surprised about either. The third set of the Australian Open could’ve gone Henin’s way had she decided not to hit the snot out of the ball on every service return.

When Justine Henin came back from her 18 month sabbatical, the key difference is the aggressive mindset with which she returned. Yet at times, Justine seems to be unable to find the balance between aggression and doing enough to win.

Is it a matter of tactic or execution? Where will she fall on that fine line between aggression and self-destruction, kamikaze-styled?

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2. Justine was not the only person affected by the tennis wobbles. CWoz had her fair share of scares, going down 1-4 against Vania King in the third set before pulling out a victory, 5-7 6-2 6-4. Meanwhile, Stella McCartney continues to be a plague on the Adidas House with this awful design.

Masha Fierce was two points away from double-faulting out of tournament in the second round against Vera Dush, before she found some semblance of consistency to level the match at one set a piece. She eventually closed out the third set convincingly, 46 75 62. Good fight back, I just wish we had seen that first round at the Australian Open.

Masha

Olga Govortsova might’ve lost to Demmy in 3 sets, but she scored with her cute little K-Swiss gear. I’ve never liked a pink outfit more.

Olga

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3. On the men’s side of things, it was a quiet day as Blake and Nalbandian, the only noteworthy names scheduled today, both came away with straight-set wins.

A Federbandian quarterfinal is still on the cards, folks. Save your frazzles and keep your fingers glued crossed that Roger – oh hai Squishy Pie – doesn’t fuck this up.

And I don’t know who thought it would be a good idea to put James Blake in wash-out pink, but stop it. Just … stop.

Blake

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4. It happens so often: a player like Federer or Nadal loses in a slam to a major challenger and questions of “is this the end” are raised.

In the case of Rafa, these questions take a specific angle – can his body handle it? Is he capable of playing a full season without injury? Will his dominance ever only come in spurts, rather than eras?

Well … a cutie-patootie picture for y’all while you contemplate those question.

Unlike the media, Rafael Nadal doesn’t ask himself those questions. At least if he does, we’ll never know about it.

“My feeling was I ready to win,” Nadal said. “I was believing I can win the tournament there. I had the chance against Andy, had break in the first, break in the second, and I was playing at very good level. Both players played really well, and I feel like I was at the top the whole time.”

I don’t know about being “at the top the whole time”. To me, it sounded like a few years back, when Djoko lost to Rafa in straight sets at Roland Garros and rocked up at the press conference saying “I felt like I was in control“.

In a way, I get Rafa’s pointIt’s easy to get carried away with all this doom and gloom. If there’s one thing I learnt from Fed’s year in 2009, it’s that form is only temporary, but class is forever. A few good tournaments could be all it takes for Rafa to rampage through the clay and grass seasons.

“I think my feeling the level is much better now,” he said. “If I am healthy, just play the tournaments that I have on the schedule, I have good chances.”

Yet despite his injuries, Rafa stated that he does not intend to cut back on his clay season schedule (down for Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome, Madrid and Roland Garros).

“The only thing what I did, what I changed two times, I didn’t play in Hamburg [now the week of Madrid]. But I really don’t want to change if it’s possible.”

Source: tennis.com

Can’t say that I think it’s a good idea. But Rafa’s the best judge, I’m sure. As long as you’re not injured by August dude.

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5. Alicia Molik and Elena Baltacha through to the third round with wins over seeded players. The latter became the first British woman to beat a top 10 player in 12 years. Nice things are happening to nice people at last, after a string of injuries and health issues.

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6. It seems that Lady Jaja is no longer pissed at Roger. Pfft, that’s called ‘Girl World’ for ya.

I just turned 25, and I’ve been on the tour so many years and played so many matches, Our season is so long that even in our offseason, which is short, you are training and your body wears out. It’s not how old you are, but how many miles you have put on your body and how many hours you’ve been out there. Many days, you wake up and everything hurts. You feel slow and heavy. A couple of years ago, I never got tired, I could run around the court and travel all over the place, and now I’m really feeling it.

You have to find ways to stay motivated, and that’s why I admire Roger Federer, because he never gets injured or tired or lacks motivation. It’s amazing. People think you are at the top of the game and you can be there for 10 years and it’s really hard. Even if you really love the sport, your body can’t do it. And then your game starts breaking down, you’re getting injured and your mind isn’t there either. It’s tough.

Source: MSN/Fox Sports

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Squishy.

xx doots

Down Under Day 4: Karolina’s Sprem.

 

Meet Marcos Baghdatis. Every usher’s nightmare. Incapable of finishing a match “on time”, but utterly capable of bringing in mobs of rowdy, excitable fans armed with flare canisters. 

For two sets, Baghdatis struggled on the “business points”. Whilst there was very little between Marcos and Ferrer during the first two sets, Ferrer – with his sheer doggedness and consistency – always played a fraction better towards the tail end of the set.

Had it been any other crowd, the vocalists would’ve been silenced at this point.

But this wasn’t any other crowd. Fun fact – Melbourne is the second largest Greek speaking city in the world after Athens. On a day like this, it comes in handy. 

Groups of Cypriots and expat Greeks in the stadium cheered like energizer bunnies as Baghdatis clung onto the third set. Before we knew it, Baghdatis smelled a drop in level in Ferrer and clinched the fourth set. By then, the elderly and corporate ticket holders were leaving in droves to escape the “OLE OLE OLE MARCOS” chants booming through Hisense Arena. 

Was anyone surprised? Who would Marco Baghdatis be without Australia?

Be it his inspiring 2006 run or his 2008 dusk to dawn epic against Lleyton, no matter how further down the rankings Baghdatis slipped, he’s always been treated like a superstar down under. And today, it took some superstar treatment for Baggy to finish the duel. But he did it the hard way – cramping, smashing rackets, shanking shots, missing opportunities … He did it. 4-6, 3-6, 7-6, 6-3, 6-1. 

By the way, Sprembag = an item or not?

 

 

In the non-upset of the day, Gisela Dulko claimed her second glamour scalp in the last 12 months, downing Ana Ivanovic in 3 sets, 67 75 64.

I did not see it, nor do I wish to see it, with both players leaking a total of 146 unforced errors in the match.

I do not even wish to talk about Ana Ivanovic. why kick a player when she’s down and fading into irrelevance?

Her press conferences of late have filled with therapeutic “bingo words” like “balance”, “just enjoy”, “relax”, “the positives”. Exhibit A: 

 

I think every athlete goes through it. You know, you just have to sort of, yeah, be positive and stay positive. Sometimes it’s hard.

But, you know, it’s like you have families that support us a lot and you can go through it together. And then, you know, I’m sure, you know, we learn from it. We’re not going to let it happen again.

 Q. What do you do this year to give yourself a break when you’re away from tennis? How do you unwind and relax? Is there something different in your routine this year?

ANA IVANOVIC: Yeah, you know, I still have to find things that’s gonna make me relax. I really like reading and watching movies. Sometimes I spend too much time in the room; it’s not good either.

Just find something, go for a walk just to keep your mind off of tennis, you know, surround yourself with positive people.

 

At some point, you just say “whatever makes you happy dear” and look the other way.

 


While 2010 hasn’t brought about a change in fortunes with Ana Ivanovic, Venus Williams seems to be regaining her form. Against a potentially tricky Sybille Bammer, Venus was back to her “hard, flat and fast” best. While the first set went in a flash, she stayed aggressive throughout the second set, despite suffering a slight drop in form half-way through the set. 

Although truth be told, Sybille Bammer managed a total of 4 winners in the match, and not for the effort of trying either. There is only so much you can do against Venus when you have zero offence game.

Venus plays her third lefty in a row – Casey Dellacqua next round, who enjoyed a 3-set victory over Karoline Sprem, while lil sis Serena enjoyed an equally sharp victory against ex Safina-conqueror Petra Kvitova.

The Williamses liked their lefty cupcakes, it seems.

 

 

Later on in the night, the Federer Funhouse resumed business as Roger sealed an easy win over Victor Hanescu, 62 63 62. 52 winners to 17 unforced errors. So shiny I’d like to wear it on a chain around my neck.

On a good day, mere mortals run, the all-time greats fly. Our man, he soars

And even Jim Courrier couldn’t keep his hands off him.

 

 

 

Oh by the way, Prince Whatever walked in during the middle of the match. Apparently, it was a big deal. 

 

 

 

 

Yes folks, feel the love I have for the royal family of Bri- err “Australia”.

xx doots

Picspam: Girl World.

You know, I’d take Hong Kong more seriously even as an exhibition tournament if they didn’t bother inviting a bunch of retired male players. Seriously, MICHAEL CHANG?

Never mind. Life is picture perfect in girl world over in the jewel of the Orient, as Maria Sharapova paused to have a Herbal Essence moment. 

 

 

 

It seems that good hair, like double faults on the WTA tour, is infectious.

 

 

Spotted at Constance Billard, S & B vandalising a tennis court.

 

 

 

When they were not busy playing Blair to each other’s Serena, Vika and Carol attended photo-ops and entertained some local children. 

 

 

 

 

Ultimately, that’s what the Hong Kong exhos are all about – cash cows, and photo-op days for the “I’m Popular in Asia Club”.

 

 

 

Gisela Dulko, I just don’t get it. 

 

 

The Hong Kong Classic kicks today with Vera Zvonareva facing Ayumi Morita and Sharapova v Zheng first up. 

Offseason Newsreel: Crime and Punishment

The competition may have stopped, but the news certainly haven’t. 

Here I was thinking that I can just sit back with a stack of trashy romance novels and enjoy my summer, apparently, relaxation isn’t in my dictionary. And I much prefer lowbrow tennis writing to Mills & Boon. Who knew?  

So let’s cut the crap shall we?

Read More…

It wasn’t just me.

Glad I’m not the only one baffled by the scheduling at Wimbledon.

  • Women on centre court in week 1: Sharapova, Dulko, Wozniacki, Kirilenko, Azarenka, Cirstea
  • Top seeds placed on court 1, 2, 4, and 18: Serena, Venus, Kuznetsova, Ivanovic

I hope the organisers eat Serena’s fist for this, since mine are rather small. 

 

‘It’s the Wimbledon play committee, not us who decides on the order of play.
‘But obviously it’s advantageous to us if there are good-looking women players on Centre Court. 
‘Our preference would always be a Brit or a babe as this always delivers high viewing figures.’ – BBC source

 

SourceBabe, set and match: Why looks count for more than talent when Wimbledon decides which girls will play on Centre Court

R-E-S-P-E-C-T Reloaded

Am I being too hypersensitive here? Just in the last week, I feel like I’ve posted a lot about sexism in tennis and in sport in general. I know it has always existed, but it just seems to be getting out of hand lately with Michael Stich’s comments, some of the stuff written in British tabloids, and the Wimbledon scheduling itself. 

 

And then, I heard this (audio). It was an interview conducted by WFAN with Jennifer Capriati. Capriati apparently thought she was on air to promote the Wimbledon event in Rockefeller Centre, but Craig Carton had other ideas, calling Jim Courier “half a woman”, questioning Capriati about her sexusality and asking her outright whether she would have a threesome with him and another woman.

 

Thanks to the Sporting Blog for providing a snippet of the interview, for those who don’t want to listen to Carton’s sleazy voice. 

 

Carton: “Not that you’re not hot, but you’re no Joanna Krupa. How hot was she?” 
Capriati: [Uncomfortable laugh] Uhhh, you know, not bad, not bad. 
Carton: Would you ever get it on with a gal like that, or no? 
Capriati: [Uncomfortable laugh] What kind of questions are these, man? 
Carton: I only ask because she’s a beautiful woman. 
Capriati: [Uncomfortable laugh] 
Carton: And I don’t know about your sexuality, it’s irrelevant to me, whether you like women or men or both … 
Boomer: Now come on … 
Carton: But as a single woman, you appreciate that Joanna Krupa’s gorgeous, right? 
Capriati: I appreciate beauty. Yes. Her personality was great too. 
Carton: Great, so I don’t know if you drink beer or if you’re totally on the wagon with everything, but is there any moment where you could see you and Joanna maybe getting it on, or no way? 
Capriati: No, no way. 
Carton: You like men, yes? 
Capriati: Yes. 
Carton: Dammit. 
Capriati: These are, yeah, these are … 

 

And thanks to Carton’s cohost, Esiason Boomer for doing absofuckinglutely nothing while his colleague went on a misogynist frolic with a three-time grand slam champion. 

 

Equally outrageous was the initial match report of Sharapova v Dulko written up on the official Wimbledon website by a female writer. 

 

“As Sharapova and Dulko ran and stretched and lunged, most of the male spectators could not have cared less about their topspin forehands and would no more have recognised a western grip from a western movie — this match was about hormones, pure and simple.”

 

According to Greg Couch, the article was taken down hours later and replaced with a different match report. This kind of stuff got on the official tournament website? By a female writer? Are you serious?

Sex sells, but women’s tennis isn’t just there to sell sex.

Sharapova and Dulko both looked stunning, but they weren’t just there for hormones. They were there for tennis. 

You can read more on the shenanigans here

 

This is just too much. Urgh.

Wimbledon Day 3 Tidbits: Uninspired.

So uninspired by yesterday’s tennis. 

 

1) I missed the Cilic and Querrey match. Fell asleep during Verdasco v Vliegen, which was so boring it made me want to punch someone. 

I do feel for Sam Querrey. He’s reasonably talented but just can’t seem to be able to catch a break. That said, I’m extremely happy to see Marin Cilic through to the next round. It’s time for him to start making his mark at the slam level, and given his section of the draw, I say go for it dude, just not all the way. 

 

GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images

 

2) Being uninspired by Roger Federer is a good thing. I’ve had more than my fair share of thrills this year from him. Can he just get in there, win, and get outta there? Boom boom bang, like that? Much appreciated Fed. At least until the next time you get yourself into a two set deficit.

Anyway, I thought he played well yesterday, moved like a cheetah and and showed off his full repertoire in the baseline rallies. My only beef with his game at the moment is that he really could’ve bothered to bend a little more for his volleys. Every time he approached the net, he looked so careless and half-hearted, although you did get a feeling that he was practicing a bit out there, particularly in the second and third set.

In any case, it was a very safe match for the Fed, entirely different to his second round match against Acasuso at Roland Garros. Next up: Kohlfreaksmeoutschreiber. Given Federer’s near death experiences in the third and fourth rounds of the last few majors, and Djokovic’s freak loss to Kohlie at Roland Garros, I am gluing my fingers crossed for that one. 

 

 

3) So unspired by Maria Sharapova’s game. I said in my ladies preview that it was a tad ridiculous for so many people to pick her as one of the favourites for Wimbledon, especially when Maria herself sounded so uncertain about her game in her press conferences before Wimbledon. Gisela Dulko played a very contained match, chipping a lot of balls back to Sharapova, who just seemed to lack the conviction to hang in there and pull the trigger at the right time.

I know it’s only her fourth tournament back, but it’s hard not to feel a little disheartened by her “deja vu” styled second round exit. I think she should consider playing some doubles in the lead-up to the US Open. Hope to see her well-rested and recharged at Stanford. 

That said, I’ve been very impressed by her maturity since coming back on tour. It saddens me that no crowd in any country can see past Sharapova’s blond millionaire princess looks to realise what an amazing human being she actually is. She deserved to be treated better by the Wimbledon crowd.

 

 Q. Every athlete is governed by his or her body. As we know, whatever the sport, you’re like one injury away from a major problem. You were rolling along so well, and all of a sudden your shoulder goes bad. Do you ever wonder, Why me? Do you just say, That’s just the way it is?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, well, first of all, those injuries ‑‑ you think of those injuries as basically preventing you from playing your sport. But if you look at the bigger picture, there are many things that can happen that can limit you to doing things in life or even having a life.
So at the end of the day, if you put things into perspective, when you get injured, yes. My career is a huge part of my life, and that’s what I do on a daily basis. So is it frustrating when that goes away for a while? Absolutely.
But if you have a good head on your shoulders, you also know that there’s a life to live. And if you stay positive, everything’s gonna be all right, no matter what ‑‑ no matter how bad the injury is.

 

Golly, I’m touched. 

 

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

 

4) My only “inspired moment” in tennis yesterday came as Serena Williams hit a backhand slice winner in her match against Jarmilla Groth. This isn’t the lethargic, injured Serena of the clay season. I like her chances a lot, even over her sister’s. 

But then my thrill dissipated with Jelena Dokic’s dull, state-the-obvious mumbling on TV. Yes, Dokic was commentating for Ch 9 in Australia, and no, she wasn’t even close to being good. Can we get Alicia Molik back in the commentary booth? Stolle and Woodforde know jackshit about women’s tennis. 

 

 

5) Tommy Haas stayed on court to play with the ball kids after his opponent Llodra retired with a rather spectacular injury. 

Sheesh, Haas is growing on me. But it’s almost 10 years too late for that. 

 

 

 

6) There’s been a conspicuous attempt to make grunting an issue. It started with a backlash against Larcher de Brito, but really culminated when Martina Navratilova spoke out so publicly against it.  

I’m not sure what I think on that. Personally, I’ve stopped noticing Maria Sharapova’s grunts. Her metaphysical presence on court is so strong that it just draws me into the match and overrides everything else. But Michelle “Louder de Better” is a different story. There just seems to be a whole new level of bloodcurdlingness with her scream. No one likes it, and it’s hard to ignore. From a big picture perspective, it does much damage to the reputation of women’s tennis.

Yet on the other hand, recent media coverage of this issue is starting to look more and more like a personal attack on the 16-year old, or worse, on women’s tennis itself. Reading the recent headlines on the issue:

“Wimbledon 2009: Ladies’ game may damage your health” – The Telegraph

“I won’t stop screeching, says teenager” – The Guardian

“Turn the volume down! Who was the biggest grunter on the opening day of Wimbledon?” – the Daily Mail, accusations on Sharapova, Larcher de Brito and Azarenka. 

“Silence in court? No, I’m going to be a big noise here, says Larcher de Brito” – the Daily Mail. Again. 

The Daily Express was much more straight forward, titling the issue – “MICHELLE HAS A SCREAMING FIT”.

 

And how about this: 

 

In the lead up to this year’s tournament there was much talk of the grunt. Critics reckoned such has been the prodigious increase in volume since Monica Seles first shrieked to prominence, women’s tennis now sounded like a pornographic movie. Witnessing it at close quarters, however, this seems the wrong filmic allusion. The favoured yelp is angry, aggressive, making the peaceful environs of Wimbledon sound like the climax to one of those slasher movies, when the heroine in peril finally exacts noisome revenge on her demonic persecutor; more Drag Me To Hell than Debbie Does Dallas.

 

Har. Har. Oh now you’re just getting creative. Smart ass

 

But Michelle has actually handled this entire manufactured scandal quite endearingly for her age, saying to the vultures at her press conference, “I’m just here for myself. I’m not here really to be quiet for anybody. I’m here to play. I’m here to win. That’s it. If people don’t like my grunting, they can always leave.”

Ah, as much as I dislike her grunt, thinking back to when I was 16, I probably would’ve crumbled under the notoriety. The girl’s got feist, and a backbone apparently.

Yup, seems like I’m destined to love grunters. I feel sorry for my ears, but that’s just the way it is. 

 

7) Wimbledon put Dulko and Sharapova on Centre Court on Day 3. And the OOP for Day 4 shows that Caroline Woz and MariKiri have been placed on Centre too. Over Serena and Venus? What is this? A pageant?

Larceny Alert.

Thief! Who stole Roger Federer’s forehand? It was YOU Juan Monaco. Oh yeth … feel the death glares of my Federeralist jury. We hereby find you guilty as charged, now give it back to Roger! 

 

Seriously though, I tuned in during the third set of Murray v Monaco, and floved every minute of Juan’s fearless play. But a short note on Andy Murray – I’m eating my slice of humble pie this week after backing him to win Rome in tennis tipping. Now we just need Novak Djokovic to fall before the finals for all my freaktastic predictions to go awry. In my defence, the style of play Andy brought to the second set against Rafa in Monte Carlo showed me at least that he could potentially do well on this surface – playing aggressively, attacking more and cracking the ball the way he does on a hard court. Living up to this potential, however, is another matter. The mind is a tricky thing, and the Andy Murray of yesterday slightly resembled the moody prepubescent teenage boy he used to be prior to last year. 

 

Other thoughts for the day

Ernests Gulbis is starting to disappoint me. A string of first round exists of late has made him rather forgettable. But thumbs up for making it past Almagro before losing to Reeshie in 3. 

 

Richard Gasquet has won 2 matches in a row, on the same day no less. I believe it’s best that I continue ignoring him.

 

Also ‘ignoring’ Roger Federer who scored a victory over Dr Ivo sans tiebreaks. As boring as you like.  

 

The big news on the WTA side of things is that Victoria Azarenka went out to Gisela Dulko. But actually there’s not much to it – Vika was just coming back from an injury, and Dulko on clay is no pushover, quite the opposite in fact – as a member of Team Dootsie’s dark horses for the WTA clay season. 

 

In other news: Alize Cornet, has lost back to back matches against Daniela Hantuchova on clay. Meanwhile Lisicki continues to her funky ways, infecting the tennis world with her happy fist pumps and a 64 63 win over Patty Schnyder.

 

JJ destroyed Dominika Cibulkova 61 61, how much of it was because JJ played good tennis and how much was because Dominika’s on a slippery slope down is debatable. Nevertheless, I take this as a good sign that she’s on the up again. After her disastrous winter/Australian hard court season, I was tempted to drop JJ from my Clay Season All Stars, but she’s tentatively raising her form again, and I wish her the best of luck in defending her Rome title for the zillionth time next week. So long as she gets her movement back before Roland Garros, I like her chances of winning her first slam.

 

What’s going on with Anna Chakvetadze? Like Cornet, she suffered back-to-back pwnage by her Fed Cup conquerer – Flavia Pennetta. Back in the day, I used to be quite fond of Anna, before she turned into an insecure, emotional powderpuff on me.