It’s a shame that she stumbled over Virginie Razzano in Paris, because we missed that process in every grand slam tournaments where Serena Williams gradually plays herself into form and self-confidence. She might’ve been messy, disengaged, and left fumbling for her game in the early rounds, but as many champions do, Serena has this ability to rise to the occasion as the tournament enters the quarterfinal and semifinal stage.
Coming into the match, Kvitova was the logical favourite. Despite her mediocre performance in 2012 so far, Petra has sailed through the Wimbledon draw looking fit, focussed and sharp. Serena, on the other hand, was coming off her worst ever grand slam result at Roland Garros, struggled in the early rounds against Zheng Jie and Shvedova. Read More…
With the men’s draw out of the way, PJ, LJ et moi got together for a chat about the ladies’ draw. Pictures from the pre-Wimbledon party.
Doots: Alrighty. Let’s get started. First thoughts on women’s draw? I feel like every year for the past few years, Wimbledon has always been about what the Willians Sisters will or won’t do, and this year, it’s been the least about them in a long while.
PJ: I have to admit I am in camp “wanting a Williams to win”. Especially Venus where Wimbledon is concerned.
Doots: I think it might be too much of a long shot for Venus.
PJ: Hey, I live in Delusion Land, no?
LJ: I think she’ll be dangerous in the early rounds, but I’m not too positive on current form.
Doots: What do we think about Kvitova? I thought she was royally screwed for Roland Garros given her form going into it, but she actually acquitted herself respectably.
LJ: Her game is just so funky, I don’t know what to think. I feel like she has the potential to really beat anyone, but … but …
Doots: Funky’s one way to describe her game: when she’s on, she is shotmaking genius, when she’s off, she is an unthinking idiot. Her game doesn’t leave much room for grey.
PJ: the Female Dolgopolov, but maybe a lot less crazy.
LJ: Yes, I definitely agree with the Female Dolgo characterization, but she managed to hold it together for a slam.
PJ: Speaking of danger in early rounds, Pironkova to meet Shrieky in the second round. Now that I have mixed thoughts about: [Pironkova is a] two-time semifinalist, [but] she has the equal potential to beat herself into submission. It’s like she does nothing for the whole season and is just waiting for WImbledon to attack or something.
LJ: I thought Shreiky had an okay draw until I realised she has both Pironkova AND Lisicki in the 4th round.
Doots: Well why don’t we get onto Shrieky’s draw then. She has the Aussie ARod for her first round; most likely – Pironkova second round.
Doots: Interesting thing when I mentioned the women’s draw, PJ said the field is “wide open”. I feel as if we’ve gotten used to saying this in the past few years, but actually this is the least wide open slam I’ve seen in the past few years.
PJ: Really? How so?
Doots: The women’s tour has been dominated this year by Sharapova and Azarenka. We’re literally looking at a Big 2 situation – with Serena occasionally popping up on the radar because she’s that awesome.
LJ: but it’s clay, I think therein lies the problem.
PJ: I guess for me, I feel like it’s “open” in the sense that there are no sure favourites despite domination from Azarenka and Shrieky. Not like how Rafa is for the men’s.
Doots: Well, I still don’t know. Sharapova has had her best results this year on clay: Rome, Stuttgart, and lost to Serena by the same scoreline as Vika in Madrid. She comes into Roland Garros with by far the best clay season record of the women, which is incredible considering how bad she was on this surface a few years ago.
PJ: That is true. I was rather impressed with Sharapova’s clay showing this year. I know clay isn’t her forte but going by recent form and results, I’ll peg her as one of the favourites. Historical showing otherwise.
LJ: I think Shrieky, Azarenka and Serena for me, but hey if previous results are to be followed, it’ll be a crapshoot for the win.
Doots: They do tend to be the “Big 3” these days, which was precisely my previous point – it’s not as open as in previous years where you just knew that Wozniacki or Jankovic or whoever was up at the top couldn’t do it. But looking at the draw quarters again –
Semi-final stage has been set, and we all know what’s going to be on the menu. Before I go into dissecting the fine dishes for tonight and tomorrow night…some random thoughts to wrap up the events of the last few days.
1) Federer-Delpony. A match that I was excruciatingly nervous about, just because of USO09 angst. Yes, Delpony isn’t the player he was – but still, I couldn’t discount the damage he can potentially do, with that forehand. From the start, I thought this would be the quarter-final match up – helped that Mardy Fish got hooked and grilled by Falla. At first, seemed like my worry was displaced as Federer started brilliantly in the first three games to break Del Potro (recording something insane like 8 winners and 1 UE in those games). All cool if he keeps up, right? But noooo…dude got broken and I was sitting in a meeting at work feeling my stomach curling up in ulcers. But as Delpony was serving to stay in the set, a couple of great returns from the Old Man seemed to rattle him, and he tossed in a double-fault to give Fed the first set. Set 2 seemed to roll around like the first – early break for Fed but a tough service game as he was attempting to serve out the set. I was so worried that it’ll be a repeat of USO09 (NIGHTMARE! NIGHTMARE!) but Fed hung tough and served it out. Third set was pretty much kinda smooth-sailing and straightforward with Fed taking a double break and serving out the match prettily, much to my relief.
2) Nadal-Berd. Berd will be kicking himself in the head FOREVER on that flubbed volley on the second set tie-breaker…which would’ve given him the second set and a two-sets-to-none lead against Rafa. As it goes – if you let Rafa back into a match, it will most probably be curtains for you, and that was what happened with Berd…went bye bye Berdy in 4 sets. He had his chances – the second set, and early break in the third set – but just couldn’t capitalise on them. I’ll refrain on commenting on the so-call controversies though, because in the end, it is what it is. Doesn’t make a difference either way.
3) Muzz-Nishikori. Nishikori had nothing left in the tank after his 5-setter against Tsonga (which was quite brilliant, by the way. He really showed a lot of steel to outhit and outlast Jo) AND baking two hours in the sun for mixed-doubles before his match with Muzz. I expected an easy straight-sets win, and that was what happened. The general consensus was that he didn’t play that well (apparently served kind of horribly) but Kei-chan had no energy/legs left to really pose a huge challenge. Still, a fantastic run for Nishikori and top 20 is beckoning. He’s a good kid with quite a solid game, definitely one of the potential ones to break out in his career. Hope he continues to do well, and inspire more tennis players in the Asian region.
4) Djokovic-Ferrer. Oh, Lord F. I cannot believe you were straight-setted by Djokovic. You were supposed to be able to run faster and longer than gimpy old man Hewitt (who had one leg for half the match)! But as it is, Ferrer CAN run faster and harder but Hewitt had the edge over him in arsenal and shots, as well as guts and heart and spleen. Lord F had his chances in the second-set tiebreaker, but suffered mental lapses to allow Djokovic to take control and take the set. Might have been different if he had been able to take a set…but he didn’t and went down tamely in the 3rd.
So for the third time in the last 4 Slams – the Top 4 is in the semis. I honestly think the depth in the men’s game – when it comes to the Top 4 – is probably the best it has been in recent years. Of course, I still think #3 is the tops. 🙂
5) The unlikely quarter-finals between Shrieky Sharapova/Ekaterina Makarova and Petra Kvitova/Sara Errani yielded the likely results. I thought Makarova had half a chance seeing she was spectacular against Vera (I didn’t see the Serena match) but Shrieky was simply too good for her. Kvitova, however, didn’t play well, but it was enough to beat Errani in straights. But if she doesn’t pick up her game today against Shrieky…I think she’s goners for sure.
6) Azarenka outhit and outshriek Radwanska to make the second semi-final and Kimmie beat Wozniacki as expected. I know Woz was number 1, but her game just isn’t good enough to combat Kim’s power hitting and aggressiveness. In losing to Kim, she loses the number 1 ranking, thus ending the complaining and discussion of a Slamless #1…for now. When AO is over, the WTA #1 will be a Slammy one – because it would either be Kvitova, Sharapova or Azarenka. And Azarenka will have to win AO to assume that spot. Hip hip hooray – no more mocking the WTA for a while at least!
And on we roll to Semis Day 1. (Get your frazzlepants on)
Australian Open is a mere 36 hours away, and whilst it may seem late to report breaking news…I’m going to caption it as such, anyway.
BREAKING NEWS: FEDERER AND DJOKOVIC ON OPPOSITE SIDES OF THE DRAW.
For the first time since RG2005, apparently!
Seems like le Tennis Gods decided to prove me wrong and plop these two on the opposite side of the draw. Best thing ever to happen? Errr…rightio, let’s get on with the usual Open preview…
I know I said I will spork myself if Federer lands in Djoko’s half of the draw again, so I was quite happy when I saw that he was in Rafa’s half. A decision that I may truly truly regret in the event both of ‘em lives up to their seeding, so…
Anyway, Federer’s draw looks fairly manageable…a qualifier first round, probably Andreas Beck second round, Jurgen Melzer/Ivo Karlovic third round…then it gets tricky. He will potentially plays my other favourite Crazy Dolgopolov…who, on one of his genius days, can prove to be very difficult (as Bobby Sod Soderling will readily tell you). As of now, crazyass days happen more often than genius days so we shall see. His other possible R4 opponent is Bratface Tomic (ugh). His QF opponent by ranking will be Mardy Fish, or perhaps more realistically, Juan Martin del Potro. I still have US Open angst/fear/blah blah but hey, I will have faith in the Old Man, definitely.
And then. Rafa. *twiddles thumbs and frazzles like a madwoman*
The lolcat on the fence. It clearly has deep, vested meanings.
On paper, it sorta looks like a joke because Rafa could potentially play 3 qualifiers in the first three rounds. Upon closer scrutiny…well, it’s still somewhat a sweet bakery treat draw. He plays a qualifier, and then maybe Tommy Haas, and then Ivan Ljubicic. Haasi and Papa Ljubs are no longer the players they were, and much as I like to live in Delusion Land, they will not even remotely trouble Rafa. R4 sees Rafa potentially playing
minion Feli Lopez or John Isner. If anyone thinks Isner can maybe take out Rafa based on RG last year…come join me in Delusion Land. His QF opponent is Big Berd…which is…uh…urmm…Berd (draw your own conclusions).
And then. Fed. *twiddles thumbs and frazzles like a madwoman*
Easy first round, easy second round, and then possibly Steps the Worm (easy third round), and then probably Milos Raonic, the Serve It Kid. Do I think Raonic will beat Djokovic? No. Will Raonic trouble him? Perhaps. And then for QFs it’ll be
minion Tipsarevic or basketcase Reeshie (easy QFs in that case) but by seeding, it’ll be Lord F Ferrer…
Not discounting or asterisking Lord F’s amazing win last year…but let’s face it, it’ll be a rather different Djokovic this time round, especially mentally. Honestly I don’t think this is a draw he will be unhappy with.
And then he will bro it up with his man Muzzface in the semis.
May they kill each other.
Special mention: Andy Roddick is a potential 4th round opponent…although the days of Djokovic being Roddick’s bunny were long gone. But Roddick will have to battle through Lleyton Hewitt in a second-round match (should they both get there) – where I will be put through emotional torture, not unlike Hewitt/Nalbandian from last year. Sobs.
Talk about not easy. Okay, it’s kinda tough. First up he faces Ryan Harrison – who may or may not be troublesome, depending on his fire. But certainly not the easiest of first rounds. And then it’ll be Xavier Malisse, followed by Michael Llodra/talented headcase Gulbis/Bogomolov Jr. R4 sees him taking on Gael Monfils…which on a good day can beat anyone, and on a bad day (which happens 65.78% of the time) just ends up beating himself, and then some.
Possibly Muzz has the toughest QF opponent in Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. He’s coming off a strong indoor season and has not lost to anyone not named Roger Federer since Paris. Will be tough for MAndy, but with Mr.Lendl in his corner, let’s see they can come up with.
And then he will bro it up with his man Djoko in the semis.
May they murder each other.
You all know who I want to win. Realistically who do I think will win? In the spirit of anti-jinxing and the such, I’m not saying anything.
For the laydees:
If Woz wants her first Slam, she gotta tough it out…with Lucie Sarafova in the third round, Glitter Gal JJ in the fourth round, defending champ Mama Kim or Li Na in the QFs. All equally capable of taking her out on a good day…or even on a not-so-good day (hahha déjà vu).
Semis? Shrieky Sharapova.
Let’s hope she stays away from kangaroos this year…their bites/kicks can be mean.
Scarily in form in Sydney – even if she lost to Li Na in the semis – so Petra comes in as a smokin’ hot favourite. Although she has Maria Kirilenko and Ana Ivanovic lurking around, they shouldn’t be any trouble at all, and her first test should come in the QFs, either against Sammy Stosur or Hamster Bartoli. If she plays the way she did in Sydney – barring any mental implosion – she’ll get through.
Semis? Screechy Vika.
Coming off a win in Sydney, she’s also considered a favourite. Seeds in the early rounds are Flavia Pennetta (whose form is still dubious due to a back injury in Auckland) and Peng Shuai, before running into the likes of Frannny Schiavone/Julia Goerges or more realistically, Agnieszka Radwanska. If everything of Vika’s is on song – her game, her brain and her screeches – she should be fine.
Semis? Barky Petra.
Boy oh boy, poor Shrieky. She opens against Gisela Dulko, who is very very fond of that whole creating upsets thing in Slams (and subsequently losing tamely in the next round). If she gets through Dulko, she should be okay for R2/R3 and then she’ll run into Sabine Liscki or Svetlana Kuznetsova. We need no reminding of what Kuznetsova could do when her brain’s on the right dial. Should Shrieky survive Sveta…Serena Williams looms in the QFs, or Vera Zvonareva according to seeing. Tough, tough road indeed.
Semis? Kangaroo Woz.
Full speed ahead, y’all! As usual, we’re riding and dying with the Grandpa Express!!
Day 1 of the US Open 2011, and there was something palpably missing in the air. The OOMPH of Slam excitement carried away by Hurricane Irene perhaps. The crowd was subdued and the players mostly went about their business, the seeds not finding much rhythm but then the unseeded found even less. Basically everyone was a bit mopey having walked out of their caves for the first time in a few days.
Wogie Mcfedpants made short work of Santiago Giraldo, 6-4 6-4 6-2, so says the scoreline but those who watched felt the uneasy moments as Mcfedtastic lost momentum and started showing poop for brains at crucial moments. Leading 5-1 in the first, he was broken serving for the set and then got broken to love in the next service game. Worrisome? Probably not but there was enough frazzling on my twitter timeline to suggest that peeps were a little agitated. Save the agitation for later folks, we’re in for a tough road ahead.
Fed’s next round will be up against Dudi Sela whom dispatched a clearly hobbling Thomas Belluci in 5 sets.
Red- perhaps-not-so-hot-Cilic-Pepper took out Ryan Harrison in ugly fashion. Harrison could have easily taken the match to a 4th and squandered it with his padawan youth. Back to Bollitieri academy m’dear. Cilic will play Tomic in one of the best matchups in the 2nd round on paper. Hope it won’t turn into the Aus Open 2010 meeting, where I stayed for 2 sets and decided to leg it back to the hotel before I fell comatose to boredom.
Tomic showing clear signs of his talent and form, downed US journeyman Michael Yani in comfortable straights. Like it or not, IMO the kid has the goods and his style is good for tennis and Australian tennis in particular.
Don’t-Call-My-Name-Falla defeated Troicki in 5, in a match that Troicki should have won. But Troicki is an ass so whatevs. Llodra and Petzschner also came through in 5.
Kei Nishikori retired injured once again. I wonder when the kid will catch a break. He was 1 of 3 Japanese players to retire hurt today.
I’ll leave you with my favourite picture of the day from the men’s side. My BB Greegor forgot to face the net and thus lost in straights to Le Monf.
Biggest upset of the day was earned by Petra Kvitova, going down in straights to Alexandra Dulgheru of The Ukraine. Kvitova is clearly going through her post-slam slump but Dulgheru, ranked top 50, is no easy opponent for a 1st round and Kvitova was clearly sluggish and her timing was completely off.
Shreiky needed 3 sets to get past GB up and comer, Heather Watson. I like Watson, like Laura Robson I think she’s got a good head on her shoulders but experience took over as she faded in the 3rd.
Speaking of Robson she was leading Ayumi Morita before the latter folded to shoulder injury. Bad day for Japanese players.
Nadia Petrova struggled through in 3 and the rest of the women’s matches played out according to script.
So that’s that, first day down, 13 to go.
To leave, I’d like to address this fashion faux pas of the day:
WHAT IN THE FUCK IS THIS????
They look like those Korean tube socks people used to turn up in in high school…like…WHUT???? PLS EXPLAIN!!!!!
Till tomorrow, adios amigos
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…
That is the combined title win/loss record for Stosur and Schiavone, who happen to be our two finalists in Osaka this week.
So who wants to win?
I’ve got my fingers crossed for Sam, who “deserves” a title at least to validate what’s been a breakthrough year for her, not to mention a semifinal well-played against Caroline Wozniacki.
Stosur “should’ve” won in straight sets after going up 60 31, but it wouldn’t be WTA tennis without some form of mental AWOL. Sure enough, Sam got complacent and CWoz took the second set 64, before my compatriot found her serve again, closing out the last set 64 to bring her total ace count to 12.
Carol dear, I love you and your babychin, but this schedule farce has to stop. You’re one of the big girls now.
Wozniacki has played a whopping 82 singles matches this year (and another 23 doubles) across 25 tournaments. What’s more – she’s down for Luxembourg and Doha.
It may not be a big deal when you’re 19, but if she continues at this rate, there’ll be a price to pay in 3 or 4 years time.
Over in Linz, racquet-smashing is so passe. Real ladies chew their schticks instead.
Nina took down Flavs 76 63 to progress through to the final, where she’ll be facing Petra Kvitova in their US Open rematch.
Unfortunately for Flavs, this means that she’s eliminated from the race for the last spot in Doha.
Fortunately for Wicky, she has a chance to take her second title of the year, after winning her first WTA title in Estoril back in May.
Serious kudos to the Chinese clothing manufacturer Erke, who has been showing quite a bit of interest in tennis in the last few years. It’s only a matter of time before they sign a big name in tennis. Before then, they have Yanina Wiiiiickmayer.
There was something wild and burning in NYC today, leaving many of the top seeds singed, scorched or flat-out cremated.
Black Saturday got off to an ominous start as Roger Federer, seemingly in control of the first set serving at 4-2 40-0, lost serve with a string of forehand errors and a double fault.
From then on, as Roger put it himself, “the wheels came off“. Federer couldn’t make a single winner to save his life for the next 15 minutes, and conceded the first set 6-4 with 24 unforced errors.
After all my efforts in pretending that the early hard court season never happened, the suppress memories Key Biscayne came rushing back. Roger cleaned up his game slightly in the next 3 sets, but it was B+ stuff, resulting in a relatively close 4-set win.
Credit to Rusty though. Give the guy so much as a half-chance and he’ll take it from you in a blink and scream “C’MAWN” in your face.
I don’t know how I feel about Hewitt these days. On the one hand, it’s hard not to hold his foul behavior as a youngster against him. On the other, could it really be that I’m finally feeling something for Hewitt that I never felt during the first part of his career: respect?
I mean, the guy’s accumulated a fortune over the years. He’s won two slams, spent a decent number of weeks as the No 1, been there and done that. He’s gotten himself a soapy wife, two kids and a tax-haven nest. He shouldn’t feel like he has anything left to prove.
Lleyton doesn’t have to be out here grinding away against younger and flashier prototypes. As Wertheim pointed out this week, Rusty could’ve easily “done a Safin” and rode off into the sunset, broken hips and all.
But Lleyton Hewitt is still out there, battling away for – oh I don’t know – the sheer love of competition? How do you not respect a guy like that?
While Feduruh dueled with Hewitt on Ashe, over on Armstrong, Djokovic hardly resembled the World No 4 that he is, battling past Jesse Witten, ranked 267 in the world 6-7 (2) 6-3 7-6 (2) 6-4.
You gotta give it up to these journeymen, people like Greul and Witten, for taking it to the top guys and relishing their prime time moment. At the sam time, Djokovic was just far too passive during the match, with only 31 winners to Witten’s 42, 53 unforced errors to Witten’s 62, and 8 double faults to Witten’s 11. It wasn’t exactly world class stuff.
It’s the end of a feel-good story for Jesse Witten, whose third round performance revived his passion for tennis.
“This makes me want to keep playing. It gives me some money to keep playing. The biggest thing usually is I feel like I don’t belong . . . I never said it or tell people that. Just in my mind, I don’t know how good I am, so it’s good to see I can play with these guys.“
Cinderella or Uncle Toni’s lovechild? You decide:
As Djokovic wrapped up his marathon against Witten, Maria Sharapova was being bundled out by the new American sweetheart Melanie ‘Oudini’.
Given all the upsets on the women’s side of things, I’m thrilled that we at least have a feisty little teen battling her way into everyone’s heart.
But I won’t pretend it wasn’t painful to watch Masha Fierce double fault 21 times and committ 63 unforced errors and lose the match. The serve, which had been fine during her first two matches, unravelled so spectacularly that it began to corrupt the rest of her game.
Q. When you’re having trouble like you were serving, how hard is it to hold onto your groundstrokes?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: With the amount of errors I made from both my groundstrokes and my serve, to be able to get it to three sets is not bad. So if I didn’t make those errors, those double faults, I certainly would have won the match.
So that gives me some confidence.
Saddened, but not crushed.
Just when you thought the Tennis Gods were done with the upsets, lo and behold – John Isner and Andy Roddick locked themselves into an epic ace-fest.
Must admit I was gunning for Izzy to pull off an upset – he won me over a few weeks ago in Washington where he took ARod to 3 sets. Apparently, dude has more than just a serve. He committed himself to volleying the entire match, forcing Andy to come up with passing shots, which he couldn’t.
Even so, when ARod came back from a 2-set deficit to level for a fifth, I thought he had it in the bag. Isner was supposed to have run out of extra gears. He was supposed to be physically ailing, nervous, and floundering in self-doubt. Except he wasn’t.
Q. Were you as calm on the inside as you appeared on the outside throughout that match?
JOHN ISNER: Yeah, I really was. Never panicked. If I lose that match, I have nothing to hang my head about. Played well. Maybe a little bit more the pressure’s on him. He’s expected to do so well here. Nobody expected me to win. Kind of looked at it that way. Just went out there and, you know, just played free. Didn’t think too much.
Q. Did you expect to win?
JOHN ISNER: I did. Yeah, I knew I had a shot. Once I got that first set, I definitely knew I had a shot. I played really well in the second set. Obviously, when you’re up two sets to love, you’ve only got one more to go, so…
Q. Can you articulate what this win means to you?
JOHN ISNER: Yeah, I don’t really know how to describe it just yet. It’s obviously, hands down, the biggest win of my career. Nothing even compares. To do it at the stage I did it on is pretty spectacular. Maybe it will sink in a little bit more tomorrow.
But I know I can really do some damage here. So I’m not satisfied just yet.
I like this kid. He can join my bandwagon. I’ll save him a mono-infested seat right next to Fed and Mario.
Tough for Andy to lose such a close match, even tougher that he should end his fantastic slam year with a third round showing.
So … who picked Dent and Isner as the last two American men standing?
The freaktastic day of upsets was then topped off by Dinara Safina, who lost to the World No 72, Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, 6-4 2-6 7-6 (7-5).
And watching the match, you would’ve never known who was the top seed. Petra was gutsy from the start, firing 47 winners and 59 unforced errors. Dinara made 12 winners over a 3 set match, and never looked like she wanted to dictate proceedings.
TWELVE winners, that’s about 4 per set. Are you fucking kidding me?!
Never mind, I’ve vented enough during the match. Thanks Petra for putting us out of our misery.
Blackened and burnt,