1. Some things are worth waiting 77 years for. In case you’ve been living in a ditch free from the British press, Andy Murray finally ended his slow, teasing torture of the entire nation of Great Britain, beating Novak Djokovic 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 to clinch the Wimbledon trophy.
In 2012, when Murray won the gold medal at the Olympics, I mused whether this would in fact provide the mental breakthrough he needed to win a grand slam, any grand slam. The Olympics had the unique status of being a major title but not a major. The winner is both the centre of attention and yet one of many to share that lime light. And in truth, it seemed to take a huge load off Murray’s shoulders.
Within a year, Murray has won the US Open (with a major wobble in the final) and Wimbledon (with a minor wobble in the final game), and as much as I’ve disliked him as a player, it has been somewhat gratifying to watch him take advantage of the fate and opportunity provided by the Olympics and use it to strengthen a once fragile psyche.
2. All hail Marion, who – in two weeks – had morphed from the Maid to the Matron of the French tennistical hierarchy. Those reading this blog from way back may remember that I have never been a fan of Bart. Her game is at best quirky, at worst weirdly ungraceful and blunt. Her personality carries the same bluntness as her game. Marion loves and hates with so much transparency, at times making no attempt at being diplomatic in press conferences when her opinion is asked.
In short, on a tour dominated by Big Babe tennis, Bartoli is the oddball.
But in the same way that Schiavone’s win at Roland Garros a few years ago re-energised my love for women’s tennis, Bartoli’s victory at Wimbledon was a victory for variety on the WTA tour. Look past the Serenas and Marias on tour and you’ll find an underbelly of interesting players with quirky personalities who do not get enough (or any) attention.
Perhaps the biggest take-away from this Wimbledon is the mere fact that for a week at least, the spotlight was on them for a change: Bartoli, Lisicki, Flipkens .. even the doubles champs Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai. When was the last time we saw both singles and doubles winners with double handed forehands at a grand slam?
Seems to me that the level of variety on the WTA tour could in fact be something to be celebrated, rather than bemoaned after all. Read More…
It was insanely hot yesterday and not just because Federer was playing tennis and generating insane hotness.
It was the kind of hot that made you feel like you were being slow roasted live, thinly veiled in a blanket of sweat, and every breath felt like you were breathing the steam out of a boiling kettle. How players managed to play any tennis at all was beyond me. I for one was melting into the seat just watching them.
And through the heat, I watched most of Berankis’ decisive win over Florian Mayer. After a year of injuries in 2012 that stunted his rise in the rankings, it’s nice to see Berankis in such good form. For a small player by modern tennis standards, when he’s on, Berankis plays like a much bigger guy, with easy power and an attacking, all court game. If he stays in form, he should give Toothface more of a work out next round after coming through two cakewalk rounds. Read More…
You brought something very special to tennis, whether it was those early hair beads flung across the courts every swing, or your gangly but poised frame gliding across the Wimbledon grass there was tennis before the Williams sisters and tennis after the Williams sisters.
As the oldest Williams sister, you’ve endured so many generations of players but yet you still come back, time and time again, pulled back by your love of the game.
To have your career stopped, so cruelly by an illness which has no certain remission rate and no cure is just….UGH.
Get better soon Vee, you deserve to come back and receive a proper send off.
Venus Williams withdrew from the US Open 2011, citing Sjogren’s Syndrome and probably taking her out from tennis indefinitely. The diagonsis was long coming, Vee only having played 4 tournies this year has been looking out of sorts for a while. Sabine Lisicki goes through to the 3rd round.
A Slew of seeds fell by the wayside today including Cibulkova, Radwanska, Bartoli and Wickmayer. And it’s only the 2nd fucking round. I mean is the season just too long? Or is it the WTA points system? cause someone needs to sort this shit out.
Robson and Dulgheru underperformed compared to their first rounds earning themselves a boot from the tournament.
On the Men’s side, Soderling joined the list of US Open wounded, withdrawing just before his match with a virus, another statistic for the “Season is too bloody long argument”.
Roddick continues to struggle, needing 4 sets to get past Michael Russell, as Murray and Del Pony do it easy in 3.
Also doing it easy was Julien Benneteau taking out 10th seeded Almagro….Almagro was ranked 10????? WTfuckery?
3 matches went the distance including Gilles Simon who needed 5 to get past Brazilian Ricardo Mello, which shouldn’t bother him too much considering what he did at the Australian Open this year after winning Sydney , (almost burst an artery sitting through that match.)
And that’s it from me folks, the next few days will be brought to you by PJ but I may drop in sometime next week.
I have seen the FUTURE, bitches, and holy hell, the future looks exactly the same.
Excuse the appearance based over-generalisation. Anyone with a decent knowledge of women’s tennis would understand that the randomized shotmaking of Kvitova, the mobility and precision of Vika, the pitbull presence of Sharapova and the simple formula of BOOM-BOOM make these 4 ladies all different and individual in their on-court presence.
Well … kinda.
Whereas the French Open in the last few years has served up a kaleidoscope of players in its latter stages, Wimbledon continues to be the slam dominated by a single narrative. Wimbledon 2011 post-Williams dynasty has left women’s tennis with a quartet of grunting, walloping, fist-pumping, big babe, blond ladyballers between whom 90% of the general public cannot differentiate. Read More…
He doesn’t care about Masters anymore.
He doesn’t know how to handle big hitters.
He’s no longer motivated after winning 16 slams.
The crowd is bored of a guy who has dominated tennis for the last 7 years.
Roger Federer’s brain has turned into baby poop.
With the exception of the last, Roger Federer proved all of the above statements to be false as he roared his way to a 63 57 76(5) win over Berdy.
To my fellow Fedophiles: take this rare chance to relish our smugness, repeat after me (resort to fist pumps and neck movements if necessary) FUCK YEAH FUCK YEAH FUCK YEAH FUCK YEAH.
And to those experts who called it otherwise: UP YOURS UP YOURS UP YOURS UP YOURS.
How do I sum up the match? Fed floated, he fell. He flailed, he fought. And boy, did he fight like the junkyard dog he used to be! Before the lung infection, before Indian Wells and Miami morphed Federer into a scrappy, slightly timid player, unable to claim the chances gifted to him. He dug deep, changed his body language after getting down 1-4 in the final set and found the emotional energy to stay strong in the match.
The first set wasn’t as close as a 63. The second set should’ve ended in a tiebreak. The third set should’ve been lost at 3-6. But it matters not.
What matters is that I saw deliberate wrong-footing tactics, instead of his usual go-with-the-flow approach. I saw an incredible 24 out of 29 points won at the net for a guy who normally looks too lazy to bend down for a volley. I saw improved movement around the court. I saw a set and a half of sublime backhands NOT dunked into the net. I saw some spectacular clutch serving at 5-6 in the third set when he needed the tiebreak. And best of all? I saw a crowd who treated him as one of their own and carried him to victory.
It wasn’t always pretty, but it was the sort of mental wobble he needed to battle past to become competitive mentally again, and regardless of what happens tomorrow or (should he win) on Sunday, Toronto has provided him with enough of an upward momentum for the US Open series.
That’s what matters.
As for Berdych – dude made a stand. He fought any breakpoints Federer had after the first set with positive, aggressive tennis – key to his ability to push this match to a third set tiebreak.
… and that’s as nice as I’ll be to a guy who fist-pumps and death-stares after his opponent’s errors. Mental games? You ain’t no Lleyton Hewitt bitch.
Numbers for you to crunch on.
Meanwhile, Rafa seemed to have contracted Roger’s breakpointivitis for a while during his match against Kohlismylover, eventually toughing it out 36 63 64 despite having numerous opportunities to break earlier in the third set. Kohlschreiber played an electric first set but made the error of letting Rafa into the match too early in the second set. From then on, Rafa started to loosen up and Kohly unknowingly fell into a more passive pattern of play, particularly on his returns.
Rafa will have to perk up for his next opponent, as Toothface had no trouble dismissing an out-of-sorts Nalbandian 62 62. Meanwhile Djoko breathed easily against Jeremy Chardy in the last match of the night session – 62 63.
We have a great weekend of tennis excellence lined up: in Canada, the men’s top 4 are through to the semis for the first time in tournament history, while in Cincinnati, 3 former World No 1s are due for some semifinal action.
Maria Sharapova prevailed in a dominant win over Marion Bartoli – 61 64 – despite a slight wobble when trying to close out the match in the second set. Not that I saw any of it – I was too busy eating Neapolitan ice cream with my eyes. She’ll meet Nastya Pavs for the first time tomorrow for a place in the final.
By the way, Nike? This double-helix thing isn’t working for me.
Ivanovic, on the other hand, defeated the 114th ranked Uzbek, Akgul Amanmuradova, in tongue twister 6-1 6-3. Woah, she’s back! Er … if by back you mean beating players outside the top 100, instead of losing to Julie Coin. Grand slam success surely just around the corner now bitches. You watch!
Kim Clijsters had a tougher time than I expected against Flavs, eventually coming through 7-6 (6), 6-4 despite making 39 unforced errors. You’d think she’ll make it past Ivanovic, you’d think, wouldn’t ya? Judging by form this week, I doubt it’ll be a walk in the park.
Enjoy the frazzles folks. We get to keep up the smugness for at least another day.
We’ve only completed 4 days of play at Roland Garros and already, drama abounds, tempers are flaring … and the crowd? Just as vocal as ever.
All these elements came to an unfortunate mix during the match between Gael Monfils and the freaktastically named Fabio Fognini.
LaMonf took the first two sets 6-2, 6-4 and seemed to be cruising his way to victory when FabFog staged a furious comeback, winning the third and fourth sets 7-5 6-4. He quickly took at a 3-0 lead, but LaMonf found his brain in time, rallying to level the final set at 4 all.
Then the clock struck 9:30pm, and all hell broke loose.
Fabfog requested that umpire Carlos Bernardes stop play because of poor lighting on Phillipe Chatrier. Monfils resisted, and Stefan Fransson – Mr Head Bitch – came onto the court to hear out both sides of the case to no avail. Players argued, fans jeered, and the elder Fognini in the stands made time-out signs, signaling to his son that it’s time to bring out the stall tactics.
Stall he did, and understandably so. Soon, FabFog found himself climbing up the umpire’s chair to plead his case. But Bernardes have having none of Fognini’s eyebrow magic and awarded the Italian a point penalty for time violation. By this stage, the small but raucous crowd was hurling abuses at Fabfog.
Dude, these people stormed the Bastille and chop off their king’s head, yer just don’t cross them.
Fognini eventually reconciled to his fate and held on to a difficult service game for 5-4. Monfils quickly got behind 15-40, giving FabFog two match points. But with both players cramping into the darkness, Monfils saved match points and play was suspended due to what was charitably termed as “poor light”.
Time on the clock? 9:56pm.
Post-match, the senior Fognini, who goes by an equally imaginative name of Fulvio, accused the tournament officials of favoritism.
Indeed, what kind of favoritism allows an umpire to be bullied into submission by a partisan crowd, yet won’t allow Free Shirt Gasquet an extra day of rest after a grueling couple of weeks, or listen to the request of their local No 1.
Q. So you didn’t want to play on Sunday? So you’re surprised, I suppose. You’re French No. 1, we’re in France, this is a French tournament and an important one. Were you surprised? Did it get on your nerves to be imposed to play on a Sunday?
JO WILFRIED TSONGA: I expected this question, to tell you what I think about this. Frankly, I was a bit disappointed because I was playing on a Sunday. I had asked not to play on a Sunday, absolutely, because I had practiced in such a way that I thought I wanted to play on a Monday or Tuesday, to be totally fit.
But they imposed it on me. I had to play on a Sunday. I have to accept the rules. This is the game and this is it.
Now, if you’re world No. 80 and you’re not that important in the hierarchy, if I can say, loads of things are imposed on you in this case. What really bothered me is that, you know, if you look at Murray, if he decides on a day or hour at Wimbledon, nobody’s going to impose anything on him.
For Federer in his country it’s the same. In the U.S. I suppose it’s the tame thing for the best American players. I think that Lleyton probably plays in the sun during the Australian Open because he loves the sun and other opponents don’t like the sun. He wants to play in the sun.
Today we’re in France. I’m French. I’m French No. 1. I would have thought it was legitimate for me to be listened to, that I would be given a choice. They should listen to me when I wanted to play or start.
But I accepted the rules, and that’s all. I’m disappointed. That’s true, because I expected a bit more from the organization and the rest, but this is the way it is. I mean, had I lost on Sunday because I was not feeling good, then many people would have been disappointed. This would have been a bit silly, I think.
But it wasn’t the case, so I’m here, and I’m fit. I’m ready to play. This story will continue, and that’s the end of the story.
Some kind of demented favouritism that is.
Not to be outdone by the controversies of the men’s tour, the women of tennis staged their favourite kinda show – cat fight. This is war bitches.
When asked about the media attention on Rezai despite Bartoli being the higher ranked player, Marion replied:
“I don’t give a damn,” she said. “I don’t need this to be motivated, frankly. I’m not jealous about anybody else’s results. I don’t envy anybody. I do my job every day.”
When asked about her ambitions, Bartoli made an apparent reference to Rezai when she said, “There is no ambition, you know. The player who had ambition is the player you mentioned before.”
Rezai zinged back.
“Marion is a difficult girl. She already attacked me two years ago when I reached the final in Istanbul,” said Rezai after reaching the French Open third round on Wednesday.
“If she has a problem with me, I don’t know, because I did nothing. That’s a bit of a shame, but that’s her education. She has attacked me many times in the press. I don’t have the same education as the one she has.
“I think I have respect for players. I get on with many people. But with Marion, it’s very difficult. She has difficulties getting included with the other girls.”
“That’s her education”? Oh Aravene, paraphrasing the Head Bitch now, are we?
Of course, all this feuding just serves to remind us all of one thing: WE ARE IN THE MIDDLE OF WAR BITCHES.
It’s time to stock up on popcorn, sit back and watch mayhem unfold.
There are two extremes of matches. On one end of the spectrum: arthouse displays in which nothing dramatic ever happens. It doesn’t sizzle, it doesn’t explode into fireworks, yet it leaves you with a feeling of infinite wonder and satisfaction. In Federerarian terms, we’d call it a “TMF sighting”.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are the blockbusters. The script is cheesier than macaroni, the acting is close to parody, but despite everything, the sheer drama of it all grips you by the hormones and drags you to the edge of your seat.
By that criteria, the Clijsters v Henin match was your typical trashy, yet strangely addictive blockbuster.
It was error-prone. It was neurotic. It was filled of confusion and anarchy. The best lacked all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.
From 2-6 0-3 in the second set, it was as if neither of the players wanted to win the match. Kim had a breakpoint to go up a set and a double break. As far as her tennis was concerned, Clijsters was in tennis nirvana – crushing the ball with authority from all corners of the court.
Justine on the other hand, couldn’t stay in a rally past 5 shots without trying to hit a winner on the back foot. When she wasn’t banging the cover off the ball, Jujubear was spraying routine forehands like her name was Fe – … oh fine! I’ll cut him some slack.
Down 2-6, 0-3, Justine saved a breakpoint to hold. From this seemingly innocuous moment onwards, the match took a turn for the bizarre – all of a sudden, Kim seemed to lose all conviction in herself. Double faults flowed. Mid court putaways found themselves at the bottom of the net.
Mama Kim, the confident, mature player constructing points with so much power and instinct sudden looked like the Clijsters of old. The one-slam wonder of yesteryear that I could never bring myself to like, despite Kimmy being so goddamn likable.
In the end, like in Brisbane, it came down to a tiebreak. One point at 6-all, Kim found herself at the net with a reflex volley and for a split second, you could hear the crowd gasp – it’s going out.
The second passes and the ball lands in. Match point Clijsters. And much like in Brisbane, Justine Henin had used up her chance.
Close, but as the saying goes, no cigar.
Plenty of cigars for Venus Williams, who bested a serve-troubled Marion Bartoli, 63 64. Perhaps Marion needed to concentrate more on what’s happening on court than off.
“I saw Serena before the match. I said to her, ‘It’s not fair you’re dressing up so nicely. I’m going to watch more what you’re wearing than the ball.’
I think she had a red dress and some really, really, really high heel shoes. Maybe something like 14 inches of heels. It was pretty high.”
Like Venus, Boby Sod also clobbered his way to a routine win against the Headclobber himself, Mikhail Youzhny. He’s due to face T.Bird, who came through by virtue of Fernando Verdasco’s sheer retardedness that saw him lose a set and break advantage.
Go away Birdy. Spoiler of my Citrus Final. Now that Bobby Sod and Rafa are still in the draw, no one is spoiling my “V is for Vendetta” Sunday blockbuster.
1. There were two Roger Federers on court today in Miami. Citrus Fed – fresh, tangy, reeling off backhand winners and serving smoothly.
And then there was Federpumpkin, framing balls high into the air and setting up points beautifully before netting the final blow. Oh Ferd, turd is still turd, dressed in orange or not.
Luckily for us, there was more citrus and less pumpkin at the end of the day, and Fed came through smoothly against Lapanties, 6-3 6-3.
I thought the ball was flying quite a bit actually, which I was sort of surprised about, because in the practices I thought it was always very sort of humid and it was hard to get something out of the ball.
All of a sudden I was trying to generate pace on the ball and the thing would fly off my racquet like I couldn’t believe. So I had to play a bit more safe and not go for at lines as much.
All of a sudden the court becomes this big, you know. It’s tricky, but tried a few different things on the return as well. But when you start doing that, that also makes you a bit unsure.
And I think today I came through because I served very well. I had a good start into basically all my service games. I always knew I was gonna have a couple of chances at least on the return games.
I was able to have a good record on breakpoint conversions, and I think that’s what won me the match today.
2. While Roger was able to rely – ironically – on his breakpoint conversion and citrus backhands to come through, there was no such luck for Mandy.
After claiming Roger’s scalp in Indian Wells a couple of years back, Farty Dish struck again – this time, dispatching Murray in straight sets, 6-4 6-4.
From what I saw of the match with hindsight, Mandy looked rather subdued, sending loopy balls over the net which Farty punished with aggression.
Farty’s win ensured Rafa a No 3 spot post-Miami, within striking distance of Nole. But for Murray, he finds himself back at No 4 and in a rough patch.
Last week was poor, too. You know, it’s not been great since Australia.
You know, I need to needed to find a way to get round it, and I’m sure I will. I’ve gone through bad patches before, and I just need to practice hard, work hard, and get stronger. I’m sure I’ll start playing better again.
But the last few weeks haven’t been the best.
Q. Do you think a change of surface, especially on the clay, might actually be what you need now, a switch of direction?
No. I think it’s just I need to get my mind right; I need to get focused again. You know, when I do that, my game will get better again. That’s for sure.
Q. Any reason why it goes away? I mean, is it frustrating?
No, I don’t know. That’s something I need to sort out myself. It’s purely down to me, what goes on inside my head. No one else can, you know, make that better or change it, you know. You need to do that yourself.
Doesn’t matter how well you practice. You know, you need to be tough in the matches. I need to get better, you know, mentally, because since Australia where I was great in all of the matches, I’ve been poor.
For Roger, Nole and Mandy’s loss provided him reasons to be happy. Not only has he secured the No 1 spot until Roland Garros, he’s also found some satisfaction in the success of an old pal.
“Mardy Fish, he beat me at Indian Wells once handily. He’s a dangerous player. You always know he can create an upset.
But at the same time, Murray is defending champion here. I didn’t expect any upsets from, you know, Fish or Rochus, but both been able to do it.
Rochus I’m obviously extremely happy. I won junior Wimbledon doubles with him, so we go way back.“
For those secretly hoping that Fed will take a last-minute wild card into Monte Carlo, it doesn’t seem very likely.
Q. You don’t play Monte Carlo, but you will play Estoril. It will be three tournaments a row Rome, Estoril, and Madrid. Any special reason for that?
ROGER FEDERER: I always look at the schedule, what’s the best preparation for the French Open? What am I in the mood to do? What am I in the mood to play?
Monaco is not a mandatory event anymore. It gives us a bit of an option. Of course, there’s a lot of points there to go get, but it’s really early in the season.
It’s too early for me, and I also want to have some vacation, you know, after a long trip here in the States so I’m really fresh for the long trip really from Rome until Wimbledon.
It’s a long one, and I want to be refreshed till the very end of Wimbledon, you know, not that I get tired midway or something, so I need to plan clever and healthy. I believe that this is the right schedule this year.
Tis a pity. Apart from being a points-bonanza, Monte Carlos also happens to be my favourite clay court tournament, now most likely unattended by my favourite player.
On the women’s side of things, Kuzzy sailed past Agi Szavay with surprising ease, while Ana Ivano could do no more than push Aga in a 57 57 loss. Other seeds, Wickmayer (def Martic), Bartoli (def Dulko) and Hantuchova (def Petrova) all came through in straight sets, while Venus – sporting a corset inspired bodycon dress – dispatched Roberta Vinci with vehemence – 61 64 – despite struggling a little with her serve.
With Serena out of the picture, is it too early to start looking at the other Williams?
Congratulations to Kim Clijsters and Andy Roddick. Miami Champs for 2010.
It goes without saying, but there’s a difference between knowing you can win and hoping you can win.
Masha Fierce is a player who knows that she can win. Iveta Benesova merely hopes to win.
Down a break in each set, Sharapova pulls herself together, takes the freebies she gets and whams the snot of the ball to earn the rest.
8 double faults and 6 aces from Sharapova – it’s a sign of the times that I consider anything under 10 double-faults to be relatively clean. No matter what the score line or how many DFs she serves up, Masha Fierce struts that court like a HBIC, waiting for her opponent to blink. Daring them to hope, as opposed to know that they can win.
Real belief doesn’t need to be written on shoes.
Iveta on the other hand is … ummm, disturbingly lipless. But quite apart from her lack of labium flesh, she never looked to be in charge at any point during the match, even when she was leading. Against a real competitor like Sharapova, “hoping to win” just doesn’t quite cut it.
Indeed it’s a pity that Benesova turned out to be a ‘hoper’, because aesthetically her ball-striking is just stunning to watch.
As another beautiful “hoper”, Li Na has gotten in the way of her own talent too many times in her career, so her match against Azarenka was just another typical day at the office.
For a set and a half, Li showed the sort of tremendous shot-making that makes you wonder why she never made it into the top 10. She created insane angles from the back of the court, running Azarenka around like a high-pitched steam train, breaking down Vika’s defence.
But even then, I expected nothing less than for Vika to call out her coach, regroup, and come screeching back to take the second set. Unlike Li Na, Vika doesn’t just hope. She knows.
Down a double break in the second set? No problems. A few good returns put some doubt in Li Na’s mind. She started to play tentatively, no longer going for the angles that put her in the lead to start with.
Such is the state of human nature, even the best of us are more scared of success than failure. And Li Na, despite all her tattooed radness, is hardly the best.
But in the end, unlike Benesova, Li Na had more talent and a less tenacious opponent. She managed to wobble over the finish line. Just.
Here’s to playing pretty then winning ugly.
In other matches, THE HAMSTER HAS BEEN SLAIN 64 63. Haw haw!
And JJ DID THE SLAYING. Yeehaw!
She’s regained her movement, found her happy splits again…
… not to mention her Colgate smile!
Life is a party when JJ’s rocking it. Oh yeth …
In her victory, JJ credited the relative stability in her personal life for her returning form.
“It makes a big difference when my mind is on tennis,” she said after beating Bartoli for the first time in their last five meetings.
“I play at another level.”
“So many things happened this year. My mum got sick and had surgery. Before my US Open second round (defeat last month) my grandmother died and tennis became secondary. Other things were more important in my life.”
Dazzle on Glittergal!