Tag Archive | Richard Gasquet

Report from Abroad: All of the lights.

There comes a moment in every girl’s life when a teeny little voice in her head says: “hey Doots, go to friggin Paris this weekend.

It was this little voice I followed last Thursday, as I headed to the City of Lights where Bercy – the last Masters tournament of the year – just “happened” to be playing. Oh what a coincidence … right?

As a tournament, Bercy has always been considered the least of the Masters. Being the second last ATP tournament of the year, it is the one most plagued by pull outs, retirements and walkovers, populated by a partisan and often hostile crowd, and not to mention being played in quite possibly the most hideous stadium I have ever seen.

The POBP complex was built to resemble mossy molehill with grass growing out of its sides. Grass that could not be sat on, walked on or played on and thus serves no apparent purpose other than to scream “LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME!” and perpetuate Paris’s unfortunate relationship with modern architecture.

Oh man, it all went downhill fast after the Eiffel Tower …

But architecture was not what I came to Paris to see, and luckily for me, the inside of the Bercy stadium had the energy and buzz of a heavyweight boxing contest: the dimmed lights, the club-like intro to every match, the excitable crowd and MC … everything about it was perfectly primed for hardcore tennistical showdown. After months of travelling, the atmosphere had me salivating for some live tennis action – namely Federer v Gasquet.

Despite booking tickets separately, Picket Fence readers Whynotme, jfK and myself managed to beat the slim odds and be allocated seats randomly next to each other. Didn’t take long for us to whip out the Roger merchandise …

Even though he was playing a Frenchman, a sizeable contingent in the crowd stood vocally behind Roger. This was somewhat an anomaly for this part of the world – the Parisian crowd has always had notorious reputation for partisanship. Normally I would disapprove of their eagerness to boo players at every opportunity, but as a spectator in and amongst them, it was fabulous.

Every emotion you felt from the stands was shared and heightened by those around you. Matches became far more interactive than they normally are. And despite my uneasiness about some of their behaviours, I’ll say this in defence of the Bercy crowd: they either treat a player like a slug or like their prodigal son, and they are just as likely to boo someone until his neck sinks back into his torso as they are to weep tears of joy at his triumphs like a horde of proud mamas.

Woger clearly fell within the “prodigal son” and “non-slug” categories as far as the French crowd was concerned. It was evident to all his opponents that Federer more or less enjoyed a “home crowd advantage” whenever he played in Paris, even against the Frenchies.

While at the tournament, I saw 3 of McFed’s matches – against Gasquet, Monaco and Berdych, and in all three, he was simply divine.

You forget about it during the year, but every indoor season, I am reminded of the reason why some of my favourite Federer wins have come at the year-end tournaments: there is something about Federer on an indoor hard court that is simultaneously devastating and stunning. It’s almost as if he does away from much of the subtleties in his game during the indoor season, and just decides to whip out a hammer and start bludgeoning his opponents off the court with scorching aggression. Never has violence been so entertaining.

Compared to the relative ease with which Federer wrapped up his first Bercy title, the other quarterfinals and semifinal I saw were more representative of the overarching themes of the indoor season – physical struggle. They were more about stamina, service games, tiebreaks, about keeping your head above water and your body injury free:

Berdych and Murray was a marathon of see-saw momentum, long rallies, never-ending games and a crowd cheering, groaning, throwing their arms about at every point being won or lost.

Tsonga v Isner was about French nationalism on full display – flags flying, feet stomping, chants echoing through the stadium, 10,000 people inhaling in unison – before erupting with revolutionary fervour when Tsonga danced around the court in victory … I arrived everyday nervous and pumped, and left each night with my ears ringing with the sounds of live sport.

Mahuteau. JUST BECAUSE.

To top off my days of perfection spent at the tennis, there is something about being in a foreign country that makes you do things you wouldn’t normally do, or more precisely – make requests you wouldn’t normally make …

Get your barfbags ready aaaaaand cue music.

In case you were wondering, I was totally shitting myself … MULTIPLE TIMES cool about it, told him I was from Australia and wished I didn’t have toilet bowl hair wished him luck, then considered fainting into his open arms moved back to admire from afar.

Ahem. So yeah. One piece of advice – don’t look like such a complete retard if you ever meet someone you have a mild crush on.

Roger was so sweet with all his fans.

I never made it to the Bercy final. It seemed like a shame to come to Paris without seeing the city away from the grassy slopes of POPB, so on the advice of Paris local Whynotme, I headed out on finals Sunday for some serial ice-cream eating culture at the Centre Pompidou, which instantly overtook the Bercy Stadium’s status as the Greatest Showoff of a Monstrosity in Paris. Oh Pareee, why?

Urgh. 

“Modern art”. Apparently.
(Just kidding, the permanent collection was actually wonderful.)

Me: I LOVE *slurp* ICE CREAM! *slurp* IT’S MY FAVOURITE *slurp* THING IN THE WORLD. *slurp slurp slurp burp*

Whynotme: … Really?

Me: *slurp* OF COURSE!

Whynotme: You like ice cream more than you like Roger?

Me: …. okaynoidont.

This was before I had FLOWER SHAPED ICE CREAM though. Maybe I like FLOWER SHAPED ICE CREAM a little bit more than I like Roger. Just a little.

After a long day of grappling with “modern art” and ice cream, I finally got the call I was waiting for from Whynotme, who watched the final live.

Wogie won!!” she screamed over the phone.

UARRGGGHHHOMIGOSH! HE WON?!” I shrieked back in English, causing nearby French pedestrians to glare at me like I just farted into their sofa.

We met up later for food, celebration and an evening stroll along the Seine. Everything was so endlessly charming and quaint.

Perhaps it was because of Roger’s win, perhaps it was simply that Paris is so glitteringly handsome at night, but at that moment, I felt so completely sated with happiness.

xx doots

P.S. Many thanks to all those I met up with in Paris for making my trip so perfect! You know who you are.

Weekly Wrap: There’s still some tennis going on.

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.

(On an off note, I cannot believe The Berd is still in the running at 8th place. Seriously?)

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,
PJ

P.S. Y’all want Federporn? Go bug LJ 😀

RG2011 Day 8 (by PJ): Lookin’ good

Remember how I said in the OOP preview post that I was worried about Stanley because, y’know, something’s gotta give SOMETIME?

Well, that “sometime” did not turn out to be yesterday, as Wogie McFogie again proved to be much too good for the guy across the net. Try as he might, Stanley had no answers to his Friend Roge’s game. When your opponent’s weakest shot is as good as your strongest shot – that’s when you know that you’re kinda screwed.

Federer was on song from point 1, his backhand out-dazzling Stan’s backhand, and his shots  kept singing and zinging for two sets, until a lapse in the third set allowed Stan to seize the advantage of a break-up. It was short lived as Roger broke back, and then broke again to comfortably avoid a tiebreak and seal the match.

It’s okay, Stanley. You will always have Campfire Times.


 Federer’s quarterfinal opponent – however – is yet to be decided, as the Lord F and Monfees match was suspended due to darkness. As I write this, they’re still lock in a battle of “who-is-brain-cramping more” in the fifth set, as Monfils very Monfils-ly farted two match points and then the usually steady Lord F farted three game points. Ah well.

(Edit: A further 3 MPs on Lord F’s serve not farted, and Monfils is through to face Fed.)

Novak Djokovic, however, rolled over Reeshie Gasquet, who simply couldn’t keep up with, losing quite tamely in three sets. Sooo…Satan hasn’t lost in half a year, is on a 41-match streak and in very close proximity of wrestling the number 1 ranking from an out-of-sorts Rafa Nadal.

The proximity of only one friggin’ match in fact – because his quarter-final opponent, Fab Fog announced that he was pulling out from the tournament due to a left-thigh injury sustained in his marathon with Albert Montanes the day before.

After all that drama of a 5th set  which includes:

1)       Fab Fog receiving treatment mid-game when serving to stay in the match at 4-5 down, amidst fans’ booing;

2)      Montanes blowing FOUR MATCH POINTS;

3)      95-minute set with the final score-line of 11-9.

It was a complete GIVEN that Fab Fog was going to get sporked by Satan’s pitchfork, especially since he was limping to the net after the match – but the retirement sees Djokovic getting a whooping four days’ rest before his semi-final match.

Somewhere out there, Montanes is sending hitmen to Fab Fog’s door, and Djokovic is sending lots of flowers, chocolates, and attractive female massage therapists.

For the ladies:

Marion Bartoli reached her first RG quarterfinal after Gisela Dulko retired with an ankle injury. Excuse me while I angst in a corner again – SAM, IT COULD’VE BEEN YOU.

And another top seed in the form of Vera Zvonareva took a tumble, losing to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (first time I typed her name right without looking! And then I found out I got it WRONG so it’s right again now) in three sets. So none of the top 3 seeds made it to the quarterfinals. This has not happened in a very long time.

Franny Schiavone is on the right track to her title defense, beating Glitter Gal JJ in three competitive sets. Daniela Hantuchova’s gallant run ended with Svetlana Kuznetsova – the latter prevailed over the sometimes Battle of the Brain.

I may be looking waaay ahead but I’m already looking forward to the Franny/Sveta semi-final. Please not to implode against Bartoli, Sveta. Keep yourself together and win your next match to give ME my wanted semi! I WANTS IT.

– PJ

RG2011 Day 6 (by PJ): Spectacular, Spectacular

You know that Roger Federer is playing his own special brand of Jesus!Fed tennis when a non-tennis watcher – one who has constantly and continually mocked me for my obsession with yellow fuzzy balls and Federer’s non fuzzy nor frizzy chocolate brown curls – proclaimed that she would join me on my future tennis outings for a chance to stalk his pants.

To summarise my own thoughts about the match: ROGER FEDERER, I AM ETERNALLY INSTALLED IN YOUR PANTS.

My earlier frazzling/worrying about the match proved to be in vain as Rog came out firing from point one – ripping beautiful backhands, fantastic forehands and put on a show of spectacular serving. When he is in this sort of mood, the person across the net could pretty much do nothing but try to survive the walloping, which was what happened to Janko Tipsarevic.


The first set was over in less than 20 minutes, as Tipsarevic was broken twice due to his own errors and Federer’s genius. In the next two sets, Tipsarevic tried his best to keep up, even managing to earn himself a break point when Roger developed an obsession with failed drop-shots but TMF pretty much just served himself out of trouble. He secured one break in the second set, and broke the Other Serbian twice in the final set to clinch victory in slight over 90 minutes.

Federer is looking very very good, after three matches. I have to admit, it has been very lovely and refreshing to see him play so freely and prettily. If he keeps up this level of play…I won’t say it, but I know all of us are THINKING IT (ANTIJINX).

To the Tennis Gods, my offer of first born and blood still stands if…you know.

Anyway, have some pretty.

A couple of days ago, I wished I was a towel. Now I wish I’m a drink bottle. Roger Federer, he makes you wish that you are an inanimate object.

In other matches – the blockbuster match-up of the day between Del Potro and Djokovic was halted after two sets due to darkness. I actually stayed up until the ungodly hour of 330AM to catch the match, and although I was half dead throughout, I can see that there wasn’t much separating the two. It wasn’t a cracking, breathtakingly exciting match, but it was competitive throughout the two sets. Djokovic’s first set victory didn’t come easy, and neither did Delpo’s second set victory.

The two will continue to battle today on Lenglen, in what turns out to be a best-of-3 affair. It’s anyone’s guess, as to who will triumph, although I know I want WHO to triumph.

As for the other guys in the field:

1)      Good day for the Frenchies, as they make it two out of three, with Gael Monfils dumping Steve Darcis, ending his giant-killing run – and Reeshie Gasquet finally overcoming a determined Thomaz Belluci in four sets.

2)      It was nearly a perfect 3 out of 3 for France though – if Jo-Wills Tsonga had not blown a two-set lead against Ewok the Other Swiss. He was even up a break in the 3rd, but allowed Stan to fight back spectacularly. For the final two sets, it was all about Stan being the Man as he breezed through against the tiring Tsonga, showing that McFed not the only Swiss that can put on a spectacular show. Great comeback by Stanley, and he earned himself a chance to play His Friend Roge in the 4th round.

3)      Is anyone frazzling about Lord F yet? Initially I was quite okay with having him in Roger’s quarter, brick wall and all. But he’s been sweeping through his matches with deadly ease – destroying Sergiy Stakhovsky in only allowing 5 games – and certainly enjoying the flight under the radar. Coupled with a great run in Melbourne and a solid clay season…urm, I’m starting to wish he stayed out of Roger’s quarter.

4)       Mikhail Youzhny lost tamely to Albert Montanes – eating two breadsticks. He staged a great comeback in the second set to take it to a tiebreaker after being down a break, but totally brain-farted in the tiebreak, only taking one point. I need to get off the Headsmashy Bandwagon – but I really did think he’ll have another career surge after making the semis of USO last year. Ah well.

5)      Fab Fog beat Garcia-Lopez to earn himself a spot in the fourth round. One quarterfinal this year WILL feature Fog OR Montanes…that made my brain stopped working for two seconds.

On the ladies’ side – the Aussie flag took a HUGE tumble, with Sammy Stosur crashing out to Gisela Dulko, who had her giant-killing pants on yesterday. It’s really disappointing for Sammy – for I think as far as Slams go, her best bet is the French because she’s got a better game on clay. The thing with Sam is, I felt like she’s just not at a place where she is 100% confident with her game, and with herself. She was up a break in the third set after a solid performance in the second set, but couldn’t keep that break, and was broken again with Dulko triumphing.

Good news is, she moves onto the grass to start training for Wimbledon. Bad news is, I don’t think she’ll get very far there.

Oh Sammy – you make my heart and my head hurt.

The shocker of the day though – or perhaps not so shocking when you consider the innate shot-making ability of Daniela Hantuchova – saw top seed Kangaroo Woz tumbling out of the tournament in straights. She was no match for Dani yesterday, who just came out like a woman on a mission, butchering Woz in the first set.

There was a slight wobble in the second that saw Caro break her serve – where I was afraid she might actually lose it, because of the manner she was broken. It looked like a double-bounce on Woz’s side of the court, which would give the point to Hantuchova, but umpire called it good and Woz was like “whut no it didn’t double –bounce” so that was that. But since she was double-break up, she managed to hold on to eventually win the match.

As for Woz – the relevant question was “do you feel the pressure of being a Slamless no.1?” and her relevant quote was “blah blah blah no” and my response was “oh, that’s so relevant.” Honestly? I don’t like the girl, neither do I like her game, but journos have to come up with better questions. If you want to ask the same thing a thousand times over, at least come up with a NEW way of asking it.

This is the first time since 1971 that the top two women’s seeds did not survive the first week of a Slam, and questions were raised again about the depth of the field. To which I say…BRING BACK SERENA WILLIAMS!!! Surely she is the epitome of consistency that the WTA Tour really needs.

Other than that, it was uneventful for the women as all the other seeds got through their matches safely. Marion “high IQ” Bartoli provided some cheer for the French crowd as she overcame Julia Goerges in three sets.

And that’s the wrap, folks.

– PJ

P.S. photos from daylife.com

Indian Wells: You are the Campfire to My Hot Hands. Truly.

A night session featuring BOTH Nadal and Federer seems like some kind of too-good-to-be-true deal. Clearly, this had to be the reason for the randomly shaky, mirroring straight set victories both Rafa and Wogie managed against their spirited low-ranked opponents today. But “spirited” as Ryan Harrison and Somdev Devvarman may have been, it was the experience of Wogie and Raf that saw them both claw through the match in straight sets despite some visibly subpar play.

Nadal had to contend with being down an early break in the first set, and saving break points in the 11th game before gutting it out against Millionaire 75 64, while Wogie served for the first set, NOT just once, but TWICE, and was broken by Man-Bangs each time, committing a total of 19 unforced errors in the first set alone.

What. The. ACTUAL FUCK. Dude.

If I could set things ON FIRE with sheer mental rage, Federbear would be a pile of ashes on my Wogie-shrine right now.

2

In other news, oh spank me, Nole. Spank me UH-GAIN. I lurve it. Oh Nole … (Yup. Starts with M, rhymes with “opinion”.)

3

Satan faces Reeshie next round, with Gasquet scoring two consecutive, straights-sets top 10 victories over ARod and Melzer.

NOBODY LOOK.

1

It’s been a good week for the single handed backhanders, as My-Friend-Stanley slugged his way through the draw against quality opponents Davo and Berdshit. He’ll have a tougher time next round, with his doubles partner Roger Federer waiting. You might’ve heard of him before, ya know … decent player, great hair.

I have a lot of conflicting feelings about Fedrunka meetings – on the one hand, I’d love nothing more than to see Stan rise to the challenge and walk out of Federer’s shadows, on the other, I want Wogie to ROCK THE COURT (and myself to ROCK WOGIE … where was I?). Oh yes. Unfortunately, as my Nana once told me, you can’t have your dim sums and eat them too.

Either Wogie accidentally splinched himself apparating from one end of the court to the other, or the Indian Wells sports photographers think it’s all a bit hip and happenin’.

Par6143628

On the topic of Fedrunka, how is it possible that they’ve played two matches together and Stanley hasn’t pretended he was the campfire to Wogie’s hot hands yet? I DEMAND A REPEAT OF THE CAMPFIRE ROUTINE NAOOO!

That is ALL.

Happy Slytherin Day to all you Irish (or otherwise) folks.

xx doots

AO2011 Day Two: A bit of this and that (by PJ)

I planned to blog this before Fed’s match tonight, but as Jelena Dokic is looking at exiting Rod Laver Arena in two seconds, this will be up in the midst of Roger’s match, in which I hope we’ll be all zen, sipping tea and nibbling cookies instead of tearing our hair our over…you know.

I started off Day 2 bright and early, with a Ground Pass for day session and RLA tickets for the night session. My player stalking session began with spotting Venus Williams practising with her Mumsy. I have to admit I am not an enthusiastic autograph seeker so I moved on after that.


I then wandered around for a bit, and chanced upon Shrieky Sharapova on the practice court. She certainly is very pretty.


I then settled in for two sets of tennis featuring Youzhny v Ilhan, in which the Colonel prevailed 6-2, 6-3, 7-6(5). It was pretty decent tennis – I have a thing for Youzhny and his backhand. But whoa, those Turkish fans were rowdy. The umpire had to tell them to shut it a few times and they didn’t necessarily listened either. As much as the yelling annoyed Youzhny, I gotta admit it added to the atmosphere.


I then hopped over to the Hisense side of show courts, for word on the street is that Roger will be practising at about 4PM. While making my way to the other side, I ran into Andy Toothface just finishing his practice. I didn’t have anything for him to sign, but because the crowd was kinda sparse (what a contrast to Roger/Rafa/Djokovic, really), I snapped a photo when he was in front of me, and I swear he stared at my yellow RF cap for a second longer than necessary.

Than I found out I used the wrong focus so he’s all blurry and not worth posting.

On the Hisense practice courts, I chanced upon Djokovic, and then Reeshie Gasquet.


I didn’t hang around for long, snapped the obligatory photo and moved on for one of my bookmarked matches, Dolgopolov v Kukushkin. I’ve been watching Dolgopolov ever since he gave Rafa a workout in the Madrid Masters last year.


Watching him play, the guy has got something. He has a really sharp serve. It’s not necessarily huge or booming, but it’s fast and crisp. I had like a premium seat as there were not a lot of people at his match, and it was a solid performance from Dolgo Guy. He played well to put Kukushkin away comfortably, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

And then it was trooping over to Court 16, wrestled for a spot, sat through half hour of Mardy Fish on court before Roger came on. When I got there – 1.5 hours before Roger was due to appear – space was decent, and I grabbed a spot at the railing, and reserved two other spots with my bag and a very unlady-like legs apart stance for LJ and Jodi. After a while, people started crowding me and this old lady with an ice-cream cone literally shoved me over. Fine, you’re old and you had an ice-cream that I do not want on my head, so I let her. Nevertheless, I got LJ over to help me hold fort, and Jodi arrived just in time before the crowds got crazy.

Roger arrived to cheers and whoops and a random call from one guy trying to be funny.

Guy: Roger, will you marry me?

Roger: *bounces ball*

Guy: You can pay for the wedding.

Needless to say, Roger did not agree to that suggestion. He hit for an hour with a junior German(?) player. I gotta say, guy keeps his concentration well with like over a hundred people all gaping at him from the sidelines, cameras going off and possibly half the females drooling. But then, he’s gotta be used to it by now.


As he was packing up, Clijsters arrived for her session. So I thought we wouldn’t get an autograph because he usually moves on if someone else has arrived. But to my surprise, he walked over, obliging and smiling and began doing his thing with the Sharpie.


I got my RF cap signed. I only snapped like two close-ups because I was too busy geting shoved. The wave of people (about 8-wall?) was just crushing all of us in the front. I gotta say that was an autograph-seeking experience of near-death proportions. People were CRAZY and HYSTERICAL. I know Roger is the bees’ knees and more, but there’s no need to be trampling and crushing people to death.

Oh, I also uploaded a few more of Roger’s practice photos HERE if anyone wants to peek at some.

I’m also kinda crazy, I think. I missed Delpo v Sela – a match that I really wanted to see – to hang around the practice court getting burned.

The two RLA night sessions, both highly hyped, are complete opposite scenarios. First, Safina v Clijsters. Safina came out – served poorly, returned poorly, played poorly, and her shots were not finding the court. It didn’t help that Clijsters was actually playing quite well, hitting winners all over the court. Safina came alive in the final game to put up a measure of fight, but when you’re behind 6-0, 5-0, that is kind of moot. And moot it was, as Clijsters broke again to win 6-0, 6-0.

Never has been a Safina fan, but watching her on court was excruciating. From the moment the first ball was struck, she didn’t believe in herself at all. She didn’t believe that she could win this, or play her game, and that made the match the way it was. I think the girl needs to regroup herself with the help of a sports psychologist.

As for that night match, I’ve said my piece on it here, so click to read if you wanna. All I can say now is that I am still feeling the heartbreak, and am still bemoaning the fact that the Hewitt/Nalbandian match-up was a first round. One good thing is that Hewitt will be joining the Channel 7 commentating team and I’m looking forward to that. After hearing him during the Hopman Cup, I have decided that he is actually a very good commentator, fair, unbiased and insightful. Yes, wonders will never cease.

Other tidbits of matches that I didn’t manage to catch:

1) Delpo v Sela. A tight first set, it looked like, and then Delpo managed the win in straights. This has got to boost the confidence of the big man. He will get better as he plays more, and I’m definitely intrigued to see his next match with Baghdatis.

2) Speaking of Baghdatis, he went five sets against Zemlja when he really shouldn’t have needed to. I’ll say it’s looking good for Delpo, but with Baggy, you can never tell whether he is going to be brilliant or be a complete bozo.

3) Petzschner v Jo-Willy. Up two sets to love, but Petzy just couldn’t do it, and Tsonga romped away for a 5-set victory. I like Jo, and I am most definitely waiting to see whether he could meet Rafa eventually. That could be an interesting match. Although in all honesty, I doubt Jo will get that far. He can be very head-casey at times.

4) Bobby Sod matched his best result ever at AO when he beat Potatoes, avoiding last year’s embarrassing exit (to Granola Bar). He plays Gilles Muller next – whom I remembered as the guy I was TOTALLY FREAKING OUT OVER because he played Feddy after his nightmare Andreev thing at USO08.

So let’s see how it all goes.

Post edited in this bit here, by the way. If you’d read it before, you know why. If you haven’t, nothing worth bothering about.

– PJ

P.S. Photos are my own.

Edit: So we didn’t sip tea and nibble cookies. We were instead tearing our hair out and hyperventilating (I was, anyway). But our man lives to fight another day.

 

Newsreel: MOO-RIA!

Excuse the bad pun. I had convinced myself that I would not follow any tennis tournaments on this week, but the ‘Cow on Ice’ winning on clay was a sight of such unprecedented rarity that I had to see it for myself.

And wasn’t it something to behold? She shrieked, she stomped, she blasted balls around the court like a cannon and even slid a few times. See for yourself!

Barrois did well to keep up in the first set and even had a chance to serve for it at 5-4, but Sharapova being Sharapova, she rattled off the next 3 games to win the set, and broke a discouraged Barrois 3 times in the second set for her first title on red clay (she won on green clay on Amelia Island in 2008).

For what it’s worth, I’m not sure that a win in Strasbourg does much for Sharapova’s Roland Garros chances – had she landed herself in the bottom half of the draw, it would’ve been a different story.

But what it does do is kick off her year properly, after the disastrous loss at the Australian Open and the subsequent injury post-Indian Wells. At this stage, a third round loss to Henin would do nicely for Masha at Roland Garros.

After all, grass is the preferred stomping ground for cows.

While we’re at it, Sharapova’s Roland Garros earrings, courtesy of Tiffany’s.

In other tournament news, Gasquet ended a streak of six consecutive losses against the top 10, defeating Verdasco 64 57 76.

Gasquet sends warning to Murray“, read the Times Online headline. If by ‘warning’, they meant ‘I’m warning you now, Andy boy, I’m a mental midget who can’t serve out a match, so you gotta give me a few errors if I’m ever up 2 sets and a break‘.

Forgive me, my once-love for Reeshie has turned into a bucketload of bitter contempt after years of emotional abuse at his hands.

I mean, what happened to him? When did he turn into such a horse face?

Shame on you if you fool me once, shame on me if you fool me twice, Reeshie.

xx doots

How do you say “bullshit” in French?

Thanks to whynotme for translating and posting this in the comments section below. Your English puts me to shame. Here’s a cute picture for ya. 

 

 

Full interview of Roger’s quotes on Tiger. 

 

Tuesday January 5th, 21h30, Roger Federer is chatting on the backseat of the car that drives him back from the stadium to the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Doha. The interview has been suggested to him unexpectedly and he said : “No problem, just get in the car”.

When this kind of things happen, you don’t ask the driver if he’s got his driving license; you just jump in the car. Here we go. Federer is beginning his 12th year on the tour. But this one is different: ‘It’s the 2nd half-time of my career’ he says. Grand Slam titles record? Done. Roland-Garros? Done. So what’s left?

Q: For the first time since a long time, you start the season not having to answer those 2 questions: ‘Are you going to break Sampras’ record any time soon?’ and ‘Are you finally going to win Roland-Garros?’ Do you miss them?

RF: (he laughs) Now I’m done with unpleasant questions! Frankly, it’s relaxing. A year ago, I was No 2 in the world, I was about to lose the final in Melbourne and people were relentlessly questionning me.

Q: Now that you’ve won at least once each of the Grand Slams, now that you hold the Grand Slams titles record, don’t you feel a sense of emptiness?

RF: It’s the end of a period. Within one month last year, between RG and Wimbledon, I reached those 2 great goals. I think it changed my life, but I never felt ‘empty’ afterwards. I’ve never woken up one morning asking myself: ‘What do I do now?’ We’re lucky because tennis is a very dense sport. There’s the rankings, Grand Slams, Masters 1000, head-to-heads… Sometimes I motivate myself just by thinking about the history I have with one player. [Hrmmmmm…]

Q: You haven’t felt the need to think about what happens next, about your goals?

RF: No. The desire to play comes naturally. What I often do is that I go back to the beginning: why did I chose tennis as a kid? Why did I work so hard during all those years? What do I like so much when I play tennis? And the answers come easily. It’s simple: I don’t really think there is someone who loves tennis more than I do.

Q: But don’t you feel like a burden has disappeared?

RF: Yes and no. Personally I think the pressure is always there, and it’s a good thing. It’s a different pressure, but it has not disappeared. Anyway, if one day ther’s nobody to put pressure on me anymore, I’ll still be there to put it on myself. I don’t even remember having played a match without feeling any pressure.

Q: You like challenges, so here are some. Tell us if you’re motivated by them.
 

RF: OK, here we go.

Q: You need 2 more Mesters 1000 to beat Agassi’s record of 17.

RF: Mmmmmh. I’m not really excited by that. Masters 1000 have been existing only for 20 years, and I don’t know how many of them great players from the past could have won. So this record does not mean much.

Q: Another challenge. If you stay world no1 after RG, you’ll beat Sampras’ all-time record of 286 weeks.
RF: This, is an important record to me. When I beat Connors’ record (consecutive weeks as world no1) I already thought it was really great. Staying in the front that long when you know who is behind you, it’s not easy. By the way, my main goal this year is to finish the year no1 in the world. It has been so hard to get that ranking back.

Q: So you want to stay No 1. What else?

RF: To win more tournaments. Last year, I won 4 of them. They were big ones, but I have to be able to do better. I lacked titles in smaller tournaments. True, I had to withdraw several times, because of an injury or because I needed some rest (Dubai, Halle, Tokyo). So I focused entirely on big tournaments, and I don’t really like it. Before I withdraw from Tokyo last year, I had told Seve (Luthi): ‘I’m going there to serve-and-volley on 1st and 2nd serves’. Because I thought it could help me later. [Abu Dhabi, anyone?]

Q: Speaking of later, when do you think you’ll end your career?

RF: To calm down everybody, I said I’ll play until the 2012 Olympic Games in London. But it’s a minimum. I don’t think I’ll stop there. I see myself playing after, but differently. I’ll try to play some new tournaments, to do some exhibitions in South America, where I’ve nearly never been to.

Q: You’re in the top10 since you’ve entered it in October, 2002. Do you think today’s top10 is stronger than back in 2002, with Safin, Hewitt, Novak, Henman, Grosjean, Ferrero?

RF: Tough suestion. I’m not so sure. Nowadays, the guys have less weaknesses but maybe also less main strengths. Before, players were more suprising, with more varied games. It was harder to dominate on a specific surface. Nowadays playing conditions are been standardized and the payers as well. Often, when I watch players like Davydenko, Del Potro or Djokovic, I wonder what their best shot is…[you and I both, Roger]

Q: If you had to chose one player that is going to reach a new milestone in 2010, who would it be?

RF: If I had to chose only one, it would be Murray. He has built himself cleverly, he won a lot of Masters 1000, he already has a lot of experience. That being said, Del Potro never won a Masters 1000 but still won the US Open. A year ago, I would never have said predicted that. He was not really using the strength of his serve, unlike now. He’s improved so much.

Q: And what about the winner of the World Tour Finals, who just beat you 2 times in a row?

RF: Oh, Davydenko! I can tell you I’m going to follow him very closely in Melbourne. The Australien Open is going to show us if he can keep up with this rythm, and if he can beat us in best-of-five matches. This is so much interesting!

Q: Monfils, Tsonga, Simon, Gasquet, you’re interested?

RF: A lot. We all know they have a big potential. Let’s say they confirmed it last year. Now, they need to make a breakthrough and therefore to be less injured. Richard is going to go up quite fast. The big question is how far?

Q: Nadal has not won a tournament since Rome last year, in May. Some think he’ll never be what he once were.

RF: This is bullshit. It reminds me what people said about me last year. I’ve seen Rafa play in Abu Dhabi and in Doha: he lacks absolutely nothing. Granted, he’s not won in a long time. But look at those who beat him: Del Potro, Murray, Davydenko, Djokovic, Soderling… They’re not bad! Think about it: had he played Wimbledon last year and not lost 2,000 points from his victory in 2008, where would he be right now? He came back from injury, so it’s normal that he lacked confidence. But to me, the really great Rafa is still to come.

Q: You never had any serious injuries. The Australian Open is your 41th GS tournament in a row. Is it hard work or luck?

RF: Both. I’m expecting myself to be fit in big tournaments. You cannot just come at Grand Slams with a small injury. Ladies can handle the 3 first rounds while healing, men just can’t. My style of play helps me to last longer. Most of the time, I decide how the point is played, I make the other one run. When Rafa takes 45 minutes to win a set, I can take 30. I worked really hard when I was a junior to build myself an efficient armour. Now, I work less hard, but more precisely.

Q: You’re 28 and you can’t recover as fast as before. Is it why you hired Stephane Vivier, a French physio?

RF: He’s from Marseille on top of that! (he laughs) It’s true that your age matters. Until this season, I always had masseurs, and I wanted to work with a physio. He had worked a long time with the ATP and I didn’t want people to think that I was stealing him, like ‘Sorry guys, but I’m Federer. Now he’s mine’. I think everybody took it well.

Q: What do you mean by ‘working more precisely’?

RF: When you’re young, you don’t warm up. You play on your PlayStation and when you’re called to play the match, you leave. Now, I consistently take a 10-minutes muscle warm-up right before the match. I strengthen my back nearly everyday because I’ve had problems in the past. I’ve always felt my back wasn’t strong enough.

Q: And what about your sleep? Word is that you sleep like a log.

RF: True! If I don’t sleep 11 or 12 hours a day, it’s not right. If I don’t have that amount of sleep, I hurt myself. When the twins cry and that I’m in a tournament, I put my earplugs and I go back to sleep.

Q: You withdrew from the Davis Cup 1st round. Is it because it’s against Spain, in Spain, and on clay?

RF: Not because it’s Spain. Just because it’s on clay. Between Dubai and Indian Wells, it just doesn’t fit. It saddens me, but I know why I took that decision.

Q: Some said it was self-centred and unpatriotic. People thought that after having beaten Sampras’ record you would be able to play the Davis Cup…

RF: People have to understand that it’s just not possible to do everything. Had I made another choice, maybe I wouldn’t have won RG last year. Do people prefer me to play the Davis Cup or to hold the GS record? Don’t Swiss people prefer having me as the world No 1? If I play it and then it costs me in the rankings, people will always be there to tell me: ‘Ho, hum, you’re not No 1 anymore!’ 

Q: Is it really impossible to do both?

RF: I consider that a Davis Cup round amounts to take out one Masters 1000. And I’m not ready to do that. I still favour my individual choices; time will come when this changes. You also have to understand that I do not have a team as abundant as Rafa’s with Spain. I’m not complaining. It’s just a fact. Rafa hasn’t played the quarterfinals and the semifinals last year. But people saw him as the star in the finals. They just forgot he wasn’t there before.

Q: Have you spoken to Tiger Woods since his problems were revealed?

RF: Yes, he is my friend and I told him I was there to support him. It’s really tough for him and his family to see their intimate problems flaunted everywhere.

Q: Have you learned something from the magnitude of this story?

RF: This is instructive. The tabloids are going crazy, sponsor contracts are falling apart… I’ve always been aware that the image you patiently construct for an entire career can be ruined in a minute. It scares you a bit, but that’s the way things are. Tiger needs calm. And soon he’ll become the wonderful golfer that we know again.

 

The folks at l’equipe, please accept my general worship. In a simple car interview, they managed to extract more out of the Fed than anything we’ve seen in the English-speak press for a long time.

FACT: the Federer/Tiger friendship ain’t just a Nike marketing ploy. 

ALSO FACT: In a single interview, Roger defended Rafa to his naysayers, picked Mandy as someone ripe for success, complimented del Potro on his improvements and concluded Gasquet will be back. You go Fed. So much,

Final FACT: the word for bullshit in French is “conneries”. You learn something new everyday. 

But more importantly, we learnt about the changes we may see in Roger’s game, his team and his schedule in the coming years.

Who’s excited? 

xx doots

Down Under: Back to bedlam.

I was just about to praise the WTA last week for their incredible consistency, with Henin and Clijsters reaching the epic final in Brisbane, while Flavs and Wickmayer battled it out for the Auckland title. 

But take a few key figures out of the picture, and suddenly, we’re back to bedlam on the WTA tour. 

Lady JaJa led the way first with a straight sets loss to Agnes Szavay. Seriously JJ, I’m not talking to you.

Unless you lemme try on this dress. 

 

 

As for Agnes, like any dark horse, she has the ability on any given day to upset a top 10 player, but it’s the top 50 that’ll have her number come the Australian Open

Despite her loss, JJ tried to remain upbeat in her presser: 

 

“It was my first match of the season. I hadn’t played her in a long time. I also hadn’t competed in two months,” Jankovic said. “I have to clean up some things in my game. I need to stay positive. I hope I’ll be ready for Melbourne.”

 

Things didn’t get better for the tournament top seeds as the day went on. Vera had to retire at 3-all first set against ‘Lena Vesnina due to her lingering ankle problems.

It bodes ill for the towel-head, as she appears to be in no shape to defend her semifinal at the Australian Open and title in Indian Wells.

Vera is now in a recovery race for the Australian Open next week, and admits that she’s not feeling too confident about the early hard court swing. 

 

“I will try to recover for Melbourne, but the inflammation is still there because of the surgery.”

“Last year I had an impressive start and they are impressive statistics. If I look back it was very impressive and I am very proud of what I achieved,” she added.

“This year is going to be a very tough challenge for me to repeat that, but I am going to try my best. The most important thing for me is to compete 100 per cent without thinking about my ankle as the last six months were very tough for me never being able to compete at 100 per cent.

“I was always having to push myself to the limit and I had to take a week off after nearly every tournament to recover. That was difficult so I am looking forward to the day when I can play injury free.”

 

 

It was a bad day for the Aussies too, as both Stosur and Dellacqua lost in convincing fashion to Flavs and Vera Dushevina. With such frustratingly high expectations on our players, Australia’s becoming Great Britain 2.0 OH WAIT – 

And can someone explain why Flavia Pennetta was dropped by Tacchini? Was Nole that expensive?

 

 

The real theme of the day was “Asian Assault”, as Li Na came back from a set down to beat CWoz.

Well done, you Golden Flower you. Clearly it was a piece of cake, seeing that you only needed 67 unforced errors to beat the No 4 player in the world

 

 

On the other hand, Carol – while being the sweetest thing to come out of Denmark since raspberry danishes – appears to be still allergic to the concept of hitting a winner.

Different year, same shit. 

 

 

Dear Kimiko,

God bless our youthful Asian genes. 

If you thought Kimi was good back in Seoul last year, wait til you see her in 2010. After making the quarterfinals in Auckland last week, Date Krumm scored another important victory today as she beat Nadia Petrova 63 57 64.

It could’ve been an even easier victory, as Kimi squandered two match points at 5-3 in the second set. Nadia broke back, and was up an early break in the third set before Date Krumm regained the form she had through the first and second sets and sealed the victory.

On the one hand, Petrova just can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to drawing the most dangerous players first round. On the other – girl, you were outplayed, outrun, and out-thought by a 39 year old.

No wonder Fabrice Santoro can’t make up his mind.

On the men’s side of things in Sydney, Igor Andreev was upset first round by Leonardo Mayer in a third set tiebreak, 67 63 76, while Reeshie defeated Feli 61 64 and harkened back to the good times with Pamela.