Hello, Picket-Fencers! Thought I’ll help upkeep the Fence with wrapping up the week’s tournaments as it happens. As you all know, Roger is skipping Shanghai, and he won’t be seen on a tennis court hitting yellow fuzzy balls until Basel, which is like 5 weeks from now…
HOW DO I LIVEEEEEE WITHOUT YOOOU?? BUT I WILL SURVIVEEEEEEEE!!!! (even my song choices reflect my schizophrenia/bi-polar/split personality disorder)
Anyway. I’ve watched next to zilch tennis so I’m just writing quick wrap-ups based on news articles/tweets/my own random observations.
Florian Mayer finally struck jackpot on his fifth try, beating Pablo Andujar (also known as The One who Farted 8 SPs against Nadal in RG) in the Bucharest clay court tournament, becoming the 9th first-time winner on the ATP tour for the year. He didn’t have to face a seeded player until the final though, with Disco Tommy Robredo and Granola Bar all bombing out early. I have to admit I paid very little attention to this tournament as I’m not a huge fan of clay and the field didn’t hold my attention…so congrats to Florian Mayer, hip-hip hooray.
Now the Moselle Open in Metz, this I paid more attention to, because Crazy Ponytail Dolgopolov was playing, as well as Jo Tsonga and Papa Ljubs. Those three managed to reach the semi-finals as per their seedings (with 2nd seed Reeshie Gasquet losing rather tamely to Gilles Muller in the quarter-finals) – and Crazy faced off against Tsonga in one semi.
I was really really REALLY hoping for Crazy to win this, because
1) I harbour Wimbledon angst and rage against Tsonga (don’t care if I am being unreasonable, nyaaar)
2) I actually like Crazy more than Tsonga. I thought Dolgo had a realistic chance seeing he beat Tsonga the last two times they met.
3) How awesome would it be for Dolgo to grab another title!??! Awesome for me anyway 😛
But alas, it was not meant to be. All it took was a bit of crazy gone wrong and a bit of Tsonga brilliance at the end of both sets, and that was enough for Tsonga to seal the win 6-4, 6-4.
Boo hoo hoo.
Jo then faced-off against Papa Ljubs in the final and laboured to beat the old guy in three sets, winning his first tour title since 2009. This takes him to number 7 in the race for the WTF and he’s looking quite good to make it.
Over in Guangzhou, and on the more feminine side of things, Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa snatched her first WTA title, beating Magdalena Rybarikova in the final (and beating no.1 seed Maria Kirilenko en-route to the final). Previously she has never been past the quarter-fiinals of a WTA tournament (and if I can be honest, I’ve vaguely heard of Scheepers and never heard of Rybarikova…either this is really a Minnie Mouse tournament or I need to watch more women’s non-Slam/non-Masters tennis).
Hopping across to Seoul, a favourite of Fence Owner Dootsiez, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez won her first hard-court title, beating Galina Voskoboeva in straight sets and two tiebreakers. MJMS is back and making some noise on-court again, hopefully, after a period of time where she had been relatively quiet.
That’s all from me for now. See y’all in the interim if there’s any
Federpants tennis news to blog about. I’ll be hoping to update more about the Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur simply because it’s my home tournament – but with Headsmashy Youzhny pulling out, I’ve admittedly lost a huge chunk of interest, so we’ll see. I hope Kolya turns in a good performance and I can blog about him winning a week from now. 😉
Till next blog,
P.S. Y’all want Federporn? Go bug LJ 😀
You and me. Could write a rad bromance.
It seems just yesterday that Miami wrapped up with Randy and Kim feeling the good vibrations, suddenly, we’re entering the hustle and bustle part of the clay season as the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters kick off this week.
Much like the principality itself, the tournament threw a lavish players’ party, attended by Rafa, Nole, Jo, the Nandopez (Felicinando?) and the Ljubs.
Raise an eyebrow, if you must, at Rafa’s choice of shoes.
Dapper Jo can do no wrong. He’s bringing out the shoulder-fetish in me these days.
Nole needed his better half present to upstage the competition.
Unfortunately, the security was a tad lax and a couple of hobos managed to crash the party.
Since Rogie and Mirka are going to adopt me, these guys can be my godparents. Have you ever seen anything sweeter?
Mrs Ljubs totally channelling the Mirka vibe there. You go Boss.
1. I completely ignored JJ’s Indian Wells win in my previous post because I didn’t want to disrupt the integrity of the piece, but it was exactly the kind of result I needed for the tournament to end on a good note.
That JJ should win the tournament need hardly to come as a surprise – after all, she’s a former World No 1, US Open finalist and a damn good player on hard court. Why shouldn’t she win?
And yet, I continue to marvel at how fast things turn in tennis. In her loss to Alona Bondarenko at the Australian Open, Lady Jaja looks clueless, powerless and weaponless. Her game, built on her speed, and backhand and its ability to change directions, looked outdated by newer and better models of herself. Models like … Caroline Wozniacki, for instance. Anyone watching her back then would’ve wondered if Lady Jaja had missed her window of opportunity to make a real splash on the WTA tour.
But watching JJ against CWoz yesterday, I was struck by how their two games seem to resemble and yet so fundamentally differ. Both are known for their defensive abilities. They certainly take their time to construct points from the baseline and out-rally their opponents.
But Lady Jaja, despite all the credit she gets for her defensive skills, still knew when and how to pull the trigger.
Carol? Not so much, and turning up to the final with no forehand didn’t help her cause either. There’s a fine line between maneuvering an opponent to get the right shot and running an opponent ragged to force them to miss.
For JJ, there was just more of the former while Carol stuck to the latter, and I was reminded then that not all new models come with better quality.
2. Indian Wells fall-out: Rafa drops to No 4 by 35 points, but he’s only defending a quarterfinal in Miami while Mandy’s defending the title.
Victors JJ and Ljubo move to No 8 and No 13 respectively, while Carol becomes the Real No 2, gunning to be a fake No 1.
“Of course I’m always hungry to get that first spot, No. 1 spot,” said Woznaicki. “That’s what everyone is dreaming about. And also winning Grand Slams, that’s what everybody wants. Hopefully that will happen one day. I have one spot left. Serena is a great player, and everyone else, also. There are a lot of tough players out there.”
After what happened to Dina and JJ, I don’t know why anyone not named Serena Williams would want the top spot. But hey, whatever floats yer boat Carol.
3. Pat Cash is set to work with Tennis Australia on some top local juniors this year.
Umm … When you’re an organisation plagued by internal divisions, isn’t Pat Cash the last person you want to join the smacktalk?
4. Mentioning Australian tennis, Lleyton Hewitt is set to return at the clay tournament in Houston in two weeks. This is way ahead of his expected recovery date (May). Hopefully this means he’ll be onboard for Australia’s Davis Cup tie against Japan.
All a part of my grand plan for Australia to make it to the World Group play-offs and draw Switzerland. You in, Tennis Gods?
5. Mentioning Swiss tennis, as new ‘honorary member’ of the Swiss Tennis Association (clickey), Feddykins has been merrily practicing away in Miami.
Anyone understand German? I’m assuming that’s what he’s speaking in.
Please don’t tell me that that’s him singing.
6. Still on the topic of Fed, the ATP is at it again.
I’m not going to say no to a little Fed worship, but I suspect Mats Wilander feels otherwise. Would it kill the guy to say that Roger’s GOAT? “He’s certainly the most … important tennis player of our … of any time”?
Douche. I hope Roger takes a photo of his wilander and send it to Mats.
7. We need a campaign to free Roger from the Curse of Gwen. It doesn’t help that Feddypoop has been playing practice matches with her hubby.
8. I’m stealing a video from Tennis is served, but this was just mind-boggling from Bobby Sod.
Opportunity for a rematch in Miami. You’re excited, I know.
Congratulations to Kim Clijsters and Andy Roddick. Miami Champs for 2010.
The history of tennis is constantly evolving. Back in ‘medieval’ times, men like Willy Renshaw rocked up once a year to the sacred grounds of Wimbledon and defended their crown by merrily defeating their opponent, before heading home for a cigar and the latest developments of the East Indian Company.
Or so I’d like to imagine.
Willy Renshaw on the left, his twin brother Ernest on the right.
Fast forward 60 odd years, we arrive at the age of classics, filled with the romanticism of Laver, Rosewall and Emerson. To a Gen-Y like myself, the world lived in black and white back then, and tennis players always seemed to play with such ease and style that they could’ve walked straight off court and onto the set of Mad Men.
By the time our tennis history rolled around to late Sampragassi and the beginning of Fedal, modernity had dawned on tenniskind. We had epic rivalries, intense competition, clothing juggernauts generating such incredible wealth from the sport that they were turning it into a misery machine with a massive marketing campaign.
So what now? Are we entering tennis postmodernity?
The Sovereign (Roger? Serena?) is alive and well, but the sovereignty of our tennis realm is fragmenting. The overriding theme before the Australian Open – that the men’s field is wider than ever, that the women’s field has too many contenders – may have been suspended since Roger and Serena stormed Dootsie’s backyard, but the fragmentation of power continues. Contenders are emerging from outside the top 10 and converging towards the top 5.
For sure – sovereignty ain’t what it used to be in our tennis world.
But even so, no one saw this coming: Ivan Ljubicic, champion of Indian Wells 2010. My initial response was somewhat identical to my reaction to Andy Warhol.
“B-b-but, they’re soup cans!”
“…THEY’RE FUCKING SOUP CANS.”
Seeing Ivan Ljubicic holding the Indian Wells trophy reminded me of the Campbell’s soup cans.
Unlike Monet’s garden (Roger) or Van Gogh’s starry night (Rafa), Ivan Ljubicic presents a mundane kind of promotional material for the tournament. He’s no established contender, and certainly not an up-and-coming talent, having spent the tournament celebrating his use by date 31st birthday.
Surely, this is not the guy who would become the last man standing?
But let’s not underestimate the skill it takes to draw soup cans. It wasn’t as if the draw opened up for Ljubicic and he found himself in the final without having to play a top-30 player.
En route to the title, Ljubicic took out Djokovic, Nadal and Roddick, losing only one set to 3 top 10 players, at a time when most people have long forgotten his relevance.
Yes, he has a good serve, or more accurately a clutch serve (perhaps the best kind), but make no mistake, the guy’s no Ivanisevic or Roddick. His backhand is lethal at times, but it doesn’t exactly have the flair and fame of an ‘Henin’ or a ‘Reeshie’. His forehand is a meat-and-potatoes kinda shot, but it’s not definitive of his game, hardly a shot to end all shots.
And his movement? Let’s not go there.
Yet Ivan Ljubicic navigated himself through a tricky draw that not many top players, including the famous Fedal, could’ve won themselves.
He served big when he needed to. He battled nerves, higher ranked opponents and himself (51 unforced errors against Nadal anyone?). In the end, it took all his years of experience to be able to win against Djokovic, Nadal and Roddick back-to-back, without succumbing to a fear of success.
And when match point has been played and won, who’s to say that it wasn’t art?
At least, it’s not a fucking soup can.
Of course I knew that Rafa would lose to Ljubicic but win doubles in Indian Wells. Papa Ljubs has barely lost sets this week, and let’s face it, Rafa hasn’t exactly been high on confidence lately. And Soddercakes was always going to have a huge letdown and lose to Randy. The guy’s not quite ready to win an ATP 1000 tournament yet.
No Belgian would make it into the quarterfinals? So what? Did you expect them to win all the time now or something? Sheesh!
And the women’s title to be decided between two of the most defensive players on the WTA? Err … hello? Where the hell have you been for the last decade? Aggression is so passé.
Dootsie, of course, knew all of this would happen in Indian Wells. ‘Cause she’s smart, and a forward-thinker. Evidently.
She’s also referring to herself in third person, because she has an ego too big for Roger Federer and despite various references over the history of this blog to female reproductive organs with a tendency to melt, many members of cyberspace continue to assume she also has a penis. Or they’re too lazy to put an ‘s’ in front of third person pronouns.
So … Indian Wells, what’s going on? Explain yourself! ‘Cause otherwise, you are dead to me. DEAD.
With Soderling and Nadal heading into their respective semifinals toting a 2-0 H2H against Randy and 3-1 against Papa Ljubs, you and I can both forgive ourselves for prematurely salivating over a ‘Naderling’ final.
But who woulda thunk it? By the end of the day, Ivan Ljubcic and Andy Roddick would be the last men left standing in the desert. Remember those good old days when top 4 players won the tournament? Those were good times…minus Farty Dish.
Not only were the upsets stunning in all senses of that word, both semifinals went the distance, filled with tight spots, see-sawing momentum, tentative shot-making and serves sent down not with authority, but self-doubt.
Rafa should’ve won his match, but played probably the worst tiebreak of his career. Soderling could’ve won it, but had neither the intensity, nor the energy that he brought against Mandy the day before.
So we’re left with Randy v Ljubs. Both men played somewhat scrappy tennis – Ljubicic overcame 51 unforced errors while Roddick let Soderling back into a match he had no business winning in the second set.
But kudos to both for toughing it out, especially Ljubcic. The guy didn’t reach No 3 in the world for nothing, a less experienced player would’ve never had the presence of mind to take it to Rafa in a third set tiebreak.
For Rafa, it must’ve been disappointing for his fans to see a perfect opportunity to break a title drought slip by. The draw opened up for him and for a few days, I really thought this was the ‘break’ he was going to get from the Tennis Gods.
“That was an accident today. That’s my feeling, because I was playing enough well to win the tournament. It was important accident, and I have to learn to try to play more aggressive next time and try to convert the opportunities.”
But as they too often say, tomorrow’s another day. And next week? It’s a whole new tournament, and doesn’t Rafael Nadal know that.
Q. What happened in the tiebreak? It seemed like you were a little passive almost in the tiebreak.
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I wasn’t passive. That’s for sure, no? I was more nervous than passive, no? Because I never had to arrive to this tiebreak. That’s my feeling, no?
You know, when you arrive at that tiebreak of the first set with a serve like Ivan, he was serving really well, no? I know that it’s gonna be very dangerous. The second point of the tiebreak was very important.
You know, it was tough for me be in that situation, because I was playing amazing all the week, playing really, really good, and an important match for me, semifinals.
Anyway, the result is good. But after coming an injury and, well, everything, everything is positive, because I probably played at my best level another the time, but today I played bad. I played bad match.
Anyway, I had lot of chances, break points in the second with one passing shot with backhand on one of the breakpoints with Love 40. But he serve well, and he played good forehands. First shot winner, so difficult to do something there.
I played unbelievable terrible game the first of the third set with my serve. I had more mistakes with my forehand in that game than all the week.
Yeah, after that, you know, in the third, I fighted it all the time, but I only had the breakpoint in the third. He had amazing serve, so nothing to do there.
Yeah. That’s tennis. I played bad. I gonna try to win in Miami.
As for the victors, they’ll both need a win tomorrow.
For Randy, he needs it to reestablish his presence in the men’s game, which has been negligible since Wimbledon last year. I can’t even remember the last time he won a Masters Series title, but I’ll take a stab and say it would’ve been at least back in 06. One of the ones the Swiss Potatohead didn’t win that year.
As for Ljubicic, back in the day, before all the injuries, personal distractions and the loss of foot speed set in, he was way too good not to have won a Masters Series.
Anyone remember the Miami final a few years back featuring 3 tiebreaks against Roger? Good times, before Farty Dish came and ruined everything.
So … does Ivan Ljubicic have a chance? Or is this in the bag for Randy? Who’s team are we on? Team Randy? Or Team Papa? Or perhaps Team I’m-a-tennis-fan-get-me-outta-here?
Dead, Indian Wells. That’s what you are to me. Hmmph!
Hello my lovelies! How time flies!
It’s been two weeks since we last had Federporn Friday, so this week’s edition is a steaming hot amalgamation of two different themes – Indian Wells and Roger’s new look.
All images were made possible by fans from RF.com and the twitterazzis who were quick to post up their lovely snaps!
Roger’s choppy boy-cut is coming along nicely, no?
Credit to Krist over at the Mothership for this double whammy of finger and hair porn.
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.
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.
Happy Thursdays, tout le monde!
There was plenty of Swiss Nationalism in the air over in Basel, as 4 locals made it through their respective first matches – Lammer, Chiudi, the Concubine (who had a toughy over Ljuby), and … whatshisface.
Being the “Epitome of Awesome”, Roger is through to the quarterfinal with a 63 63 win over Seppi. What is there to say? He played as well as he needed to and threw in a few fun points for our Fedgasm needs.
Huzzah! Onwards we roll, and we look damn fine rollin’.
Damn fine I tell ya, Getty Images!
I can’t say much about Fed’s idea of “practice” though.
Lastly, a teeny pre-tournament interview published in le Matin.
Q: You’re training with Stanislas Wawrinka. How do you feel?
RF: Honestly, I feel well. Since Thursday, I’ve been training here with all the Swiss players. I think my footwork is great. My body feels fine and mentally I really want to play too. This is normal after six weeks without a tournament. After two, three weeks already, I felt a great desire to play. Moreover, after this break I start playing right here in Basel, for me it is amazing!
Q: Did you spend all your “vacation” in Basel?
RF: Almost, I spent four weeks here.
Q: You never get to stay home for this long …
RF: Usually no, that’s right. But after Wimbledon I came here some time for the birth of my kids. So it was nice this season. I spent more time in Switzerland than in the past. And it makes me feel good.
Q: Mirka and your daughters must be be happy to have you home with them!
RF: Yes. (He smiles.) Even though we were also together in America. Since they were born, I have not missed a single day with them. It’s going really well. But what was an advantage during the break was that I had no specific plans to follow, no schedules.
During tournaments, I have to play on Monday, Wednesday, etc.. so I could decide the schedule. Of course I am very serious when I go to training. But with Pierre [Paganini], it’s very flexible. If I wanted to shift the hours of training to spend more time with family, I would do that. It’s really nice. In fact, this is nice when you have no tournament on.
Q: What was the menu for these six weeks “off”?
RF: First, three weeks without tennis.
Q: You didn’t touch a racket?
RF: No racket. I like to do that from time to time. Even if afterwards, when I go back to playing, I have a lot of stiff aches …
So three quiet weeks. I used the opportunity to take some walks with my family – I also noticed that when I go out with girls, people tend to approach me less. There’s a lot of respect for the family.
Then I resumed physical training. And when the small problems in the leg and back were gone, I worked with Severin [Lüthi]. I am very happy with my current form.
Q: So you’re ready to get your 4th title at the Swiss Indoors?
RF: Yes. I am well prepared for sure, I’m missing some match practice, but it’s not a problem. I’ve won more majors after a long break so it doesn’t bother me. Still, the draw is always hard here in Basel, there are many very good players. There is never easy draw. I am delighted that the tournament is starting.
Source: Le Matin
Nice to know that Roger had a good rest, ’cause now he has no excuse to play badly. Watch out dude, you will have my boundless wrath to answer to.
Too early to frazzle?