Dinara Safina: OUT.
Venus Williams: OUT.
Elena Dementieva: OUT.
Svetlana Kuznetsova: OUT.
Caroline Wozniacki: OUT.
Vera Zvonareva: OUT.
Flavia Pennetta: OUT.
Nadia Petrova: OUT.
Ana Ivanovic: OUT.
Hardly excusable for any of these players. With the exception of CWoz and Flavia, none of them made it beyond 4th round at the US Open. Even with an extended break, none of them came to Tokyo with any sort of mindset to win either.
So who actually wants to play tennis?
Maria Sharapova does. With a performance so awesome I had to do a shrieky rendition of “SEE YOU SOOOOON/ON THE MOOOOON” to celebrate.
Stung by her own fault-fest against Oudin at the US Open, Masha Fierce has reverted back to her old serve in Tokyo. I sure hope she’s is doing it with the approval of her doctors, and not just out of frustration with the changed service motion.
On the plus side, so far the old serve is working for her. Only one double fault (7 aces, 71% first serves) in her 6-0 6-1 thumping of Sam Stosur. Never mind that Stosur couldn’t make a first serve to save her puppy’s life, Masha Fierce played the sort of scintillating, “allez-up-your-f$cking-ass” tennis that saw her win 3 slams by the age of 21.
Knowing that Shazza is only capable of wining slams in even-numbered years, I’d say things are looking good for 2010. Just goes to show – don’t tinker with your serve, gals, even if it was for perfectly legitimate, shoulder-related reasons.
ARE YOU LISTENING Justine?!
A less shinier performance by Lena D, who had ONE miracle serving day at Wimbledon this year, missed her chance there, and has since gone back to serve purgatory.
With 10 DFs, Horseface completed an embarrassing performance against KBond, brainfarting through the third set to lose 26 76 16. Color me unimpressed.
Don’t call on JJ to ‘save the tour’, but hell, she’s one of the few seeds who actually came to play tennis, taking a 3 set victory over Sabine Licky. Ironically, unlike some of the duds that took out the other slamless wonders, Sabine would’ve been a perfectly legitimate giant-killer for JJ to lose to.
Not the cleanest match, but the level was certainly within expectations. Barring her US Open performance, JJ seemed to be on her way back from the ‘Inferno of Lost Souls’ during the summer hard court season.
It seems like she’s continuing exactly where she left off, regaining her movement, strengthening those powderpuff serves and working on her forehand.
Now gimme more body glitter and happy splits, biatch. Who wants to play tennis?
As much as I like to complain about all the big names dropping out of the tournament like horse shit, one of the benefits of having some of the lesser known players hang around is that you get to find out a little more about them. Turns out that the old truism ‘everybody has a story‘ still rings … true.
Yanina Wickmayer survived a close one today against Dina-slayer Petra Kvitova, prevailing 46 64 75 to reach her first ever grand slam quarterfinal. As a result, I found myself reading the transcripts of her press conference for the first time.
It seems that for many members of the press, it was their first time interviewing the Belgian too. When asked about why her English was so good, Yanina revealed that she had spent 3 years in Tampa after her mother died of cancer when she was nine.
“I went there when I was nine. I lost my mom when I was nine. I wanted to get away from home. I loved playing tennis.
“I was actually only playing for half a year. So I really enjoyed it, but just wanted to get away from home and do other stuff, be around other people. That’s why we left.”
Wickmayer admitted that it was a mature decision for her age at the time, but it was a decision made easier by the reaction of her father.
“I have to admire him for giving up everything he had. He gave up his job. He gave up his friends. Yeah, he gave up the house, his cars, and we just left.
Yeah, he put his whole life, yeah, in point of me, so I respect him for that. Everything I have now is a little bit because of him just because, yeah, he trusted me. He wanted to make me happy no matter what.
I guess he always believed in me. He always supported me. Even when I had some few tough years, I didn’t get through well, but he always been there next to me and supported me.
Yeah, he’s a great guy.”
He certainly sounds like a great guy. Tennis dads take note! Papa Wickmayer’s decision to leave Belgium had nothing to do with a gamble on his daughter’s career.
“…he didn’t leave everything because he expected me to be a champion. Actually he just left everything to make me happy. I guess that’s a whole lot of difference.
When I was nine, I wasn’t even I loved playing tennis, but I never thought I was going to be a professional and do this every day. I still went to school when I was nine. I was just a little girl enjoying playing.
I guess every year I kept on playing. I loved it a little more and I got a little better. That’s how the story goes.
But he gave up everything just to make his little girl happy, not to make her a tennis champion.”
Tennis isn’t all about the Serenas and the Sharapovas of this world. Sometimes, it’s just as heartwarming to get to know a little more about that Belgian girl who’s neither the one, nor the other.
A tissue for you softies?
[Wickmayer plays Kateryna Bondarenko next for a spot in the semis, after the KBond destroyed Gisela Dulko with a double bagel.]
The Russian Roulette keeps firing, as Melanie completes another Oudini escape from the jaws of defeat, outlasting Petrova 1-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3.
So here’s the deal with this kid – she’s no Justine Henin. Just because someone doesn’t play big babe tennis, doesn’t mean that she’s an Henin or a Hingis. Melanie Oudin is neither, a better comparison is probably Lleyton Hewitt. Like Lleyton, she’s a little babe trying to play big babe tennis, and in doing so, outlasting her bigger, stronger opponents with sheer belief and a terrier-like mentality.
Because there’s already been enough Oudin-worshipping going on, for the sake of being a contrarian, I’ll point out that to a large extent, her last 3 opponents gifted her the match with their neuroses.
Essentially that’s one of the many problems with women’s tennis these days – too often, it’s about outlasting the other player rather than outclassing her. Each player seems to have a ‘dark place’ with a tendency to go there when they’re moments away from victory.
Still, I won’t pretend that there isn’t something oddly inspiring, and oddly “American” about seeing a teenager defy all odds against her (frankly) more talented, more experienced opponents. This is a kid that speaks with exclamation marks, plays through tears and with gusto, writes the word “Believe” on her sorbet coloured shoes and talks about having a dream.
Gimmicky? Yes. Endearing? Hell yes. Once upon a time, I too spoke in exclamation marks, and had a preference for sorbet colours and corny mantras. Didn’t we all? She may not be the most talented youngster out there, but something about Melanie Oudin resonates with the country, and indeed the tennis world.
Not sure that I’m on the bandwagon just yet, but we just might get there one day.
Melanie Oudin faces Caroline Wozniacki next match, who pushed past Sveta Kuznetsova. And I mean pushed. Caroline is a sweet girl and a fabulous personality to have in women’s tennis, but watching her tennis is only marginally more interesting than watching paint dry. At least in this match.
Kuzzy spent the first set and a half blowing Carol off the court with massive serves, blistering forehands and deft volleys. There’s a reason why this girl happens to be Roger Federer’s favourite WTA player – some talents don’t need gimmicks.
But Sveta being Sveta, she imploded bizarrely with a string of unforced errors in the second set. At the end of the day, all CWoz had to do was to keep sending the balls back and watch Kuzzy self-destruct.
How can we keep Marat Safin away from this gal?
On the men’s side of things, Roger Federer had a smashing time against Tommy Robredo, breezing past 7-5 6-2 6-2. The first set was a little tight, but once Roger got that one in the bag, he unleashed the funhouse for the next two sets.
Unlike most other players out there, RFed makes a beating look beautiful.
Unsurprisingly, it was fun for Roger as it was for us. He claims that despite scoring so many victories over his opponents, it’s not just about winning.
“It’s not like even trying to beat him again; it’s just about having fun out there, playing a good match, playing good tennis, enjoying the moment, playing in packed stadiums. It’s something not many people get an opportunity to do.
I think everybody would love to be in my shoes. Why should I give away my spot really because I enjoy too much and people love to come see me play? So this is motivation alone for me. I mean, it’s plenty. I have plenty of reasons for me to keep on playing.”
It goes without saying, which is precisely why I should really say it with a little salut and all: RESPECT!
Roger faces the Sod next, who was up 2 sets to 1 against Davo when the Russian retired with an injury. Robin celebrated his impending meeting with the Fed by … eating jellybeans.
That’s just 100% adorkability. Robin Soderling, the most misunderstood man in tennis? Quite possibly.
My worst enemy for the next two days? Definitely.
In other men’s matches, Djokovic had a straightforward squashing of the Worm, but the real highlight was his reconciliation with the American crowd. I thought it was nice for Darren Cahill to offer him an olive branch, a chance for Nole to redeem himself with something that made him popular in the first place – imitations.
It might seem like all fun and games, but with Roddick out of the draw and the crowd seemingly warming towards the Djoker again, how will it play out for Nole’s confidence?
He seems to be a player desperate for acceptance and particularly bothered by the dialectics between popularity and notoriety. Would being portrayed in a more positive light put some wind under his wings?
Who knows. Just don’t tell me you didn’t see him comin’.
BACK TO FRAZZLING,