2012 post US Open happened in a blur. Full time work, training, admissions and life in general caught up with me and through it all, I lost the apetite for tennis. But there’s nothing like an Aussie heatwave to bring back happy memories of getting sunburnt on a tennis court.
And just in the first week of tennis for 2013, Toothface monotoned his way into the hearts of Brisbanites after defending his title there; Serena showed why it’s just too easy when you are the Queen S of the WTA; Vika suddenly found it quite convenient to be a woman; Ashley Barty, who I saw for the first time last week, proved to be a totally different player to the stereotypical young hype that I imagined (she could, however, do with a post-pubescent growth spurt). Monica Puig popped onto my radar for the first time in her 3 set loss to Angelic Carebear to remind me why I should (as always) watch more women’s tennis. And instead of actual match analysis, Channel 7 told me for the 573926th time that Grigor Dimitrov “modelled his game on Federer’s” for an entire week.
The real hype of the week Down Under though, was Bernard Tomic, who has managed to make the good people of Oz pee-pee themselves with excitement by winning an inconsequential match against B-grade Djokovic. But even the most inconsequential wins go some way towards redemption, especially when backed by a week of solid tennis in a nation starved for a modicum of talent.
Aaaand then … there is the anti-hype. Surely Sam Stosur is on some sort of quest to break the record for most number of consecutive matches lost on Australian soil? Watching Stosur’s 3 set loss Zheng Jie today, I am forced to come to one of those cliché conclusion that “God is fair”. He gave Stosur the power and weaponry to beat any player on the WTA tour, but none of the instincts and court-savvy. Zheng Jie on the other hand …
In amidst the hype and anti-hype, there are the notable voids. Where is WOGER? Where is WAFA? As much as I refuse to be yet another person to proclaim the end of the “Fedal era” (oh honey, that ended 3 years ago), what’s clear is that the Fedal party clearly ain’t gonna be on for the early hardcourt season this year.
But don’t despair, Woger has plenty of worthy frenemies to party with Down Under. And he’s even brought out the Pink Panther for Melbourne Park!
6 days til the Aus Open!
Can you believe it’s the last slam of the year already? Day 1 of the US Open was uncharacteristically free of drama, as the top seeds progressed through the most boring OOP known to grand slams with little trouble. Even the rainy weather was predictably uncooperative, delaying matches for just over 2 hours.
Despite having never been a fan of Roddick at any point during his career, there is still something thoroughly depressing about watching him lose first round at a grand slam. Even if he did lose to a Frenchman … in France … on clay – by far his least relevant surface. (It may be of relevance to mention here that the Frenchman in question had a win/loss record of 1-9 at Roland Garros coming into the match, so clearly, the said Frenchman is not your typical, dreaded clay machine). Read More…
Well, well, well. Who said old men can’t boogie? Because Roger Federer, aged 30 years, 6 months and 11 days, just ran, slid, skipped, hopped, danced and boogied his way into his 71st career title. Not to mention a 12th straight year with at least one title to his name.
So, let’s have a quick wrap on day 2 before we proceed to the 64 men and women still alive in the singles’ draw. I was not at Melbourne Park today, due to the fact that I have to earn a living and such (although I manage to grovel for a day off tomorrow…tsk tsk I have no dignity when it comes to tennis) and I was really overwhelmed by the heat yesterday, so it was right that I took leave from tennis.
Being in Australia…the biggest news of the day, even bigger that Bratomic’s defeat of Verdasco yesterday – would be Sam Stosur’s straight-sets defeat to Sorana Cirstea.
Is it surprising? Kind of. Is it unexpected? Not really. Is it sad? Well, yes.
I didn’t see the match, not one bit of it, but Twitter told me that Cirstea was playing brilliant and Sam was playing mediocre, and that made all the difference. Let’s face it, Australia is desperate for an Australian to win Australian Open. The best bet, all things considered, is Samantha Stosur. She was never known for being mentally strong – although I had hoped that the US Open win last year signified a positive change – and I do believe in the end, the pressure got to be a bit too much for her.
Well, at least this will make people look the other way when the next tournament rolls around. And then I certainly hope for Sam to power back, because girl’s got the game, and she has the heart. Remember RG2010 and USO2011? No one even gave her half a chance and she somehow steadily sneaked her way into the finals. I hope for that to happen again, sooner rather than later.
The other Australians fared better – Jelena Dokic, James Duckworth and Matt Ebden recording victories to progress to the next round. Huge moment for Duckworth in his AO debut – I saw him play (and lost) the wildcard playoffs last year, and I think he actually has potential. He’s only nineteen, so if he works hard and does not lose the passion…he may be a name to be known in the future. But Jarka Gadjosova joined Sam on the losers roll, losing to Maria Kirilenko.
The old man Lleyton Hewitt also pulled through – in four sets – in his typical fashion. Played some solid tennis to get to a 2-sets-to-love lead, and then opponent (German Cedrik-Marcel Stebe) suddenly gained momentum as Hewitt lost the will to land first serves…therefore leading to Hewitt losing the third set. The momentum continued and soon Mr.Famous Five Sets find himself facing yet another 5-setter as he trailed 1-5 in the fourth.
(By this time, I was all ready to cliff myself. Serious.)
But what they say about Lleyton Hewitt is true…don’t ever count him out, whatever you do, and never let him back into a match, because chances are he will then hang on like a barnacle and never let go. That was precisely what happened. Stebe got nervous, lost serve once, lost serve twice, and soon Hewitt was up 6-5…but up against Gramps Hewitt (as well as the whole parochial arena), he buckled, dumped a forehand into the net, and Lleyton celebrated like he just won the final.
He earns himself a second-round match with his pal in the Gramps club, Gramps Andy Roddick (who beat Robin Haase in straight sets, avoiding the drama of last year). I will be there for that match (I hope) and I will cry like I did during Hewitt/Nalbandian last year, because it will not end well for me. Even more so when I think it may possibly be Hewitt’s last AO and Roddick’s second last or third last or even last.
As for other matches…
1) Bad day for the male Russians as Mikhail Youzhny headsmashed himself out of the tournament against Andrey Golubev, in a hysterical match with 17 breaks of serve. Igor Kunitsyn lost to Pablo Andujar in straights, and Dmitry Tursunov lost to Janko Tipsarevic after losing a long tie-break in the second set (he was one set up). New Russian Alex Bogomolov Jr survived though. I know I keep saying I want to kick the Colonel off my bandwagon…to be honest I’m not completely sure why he’s still there.
2) Andy Murray got taken to four sets by Ryan “The Ego” Harrison. As I’ve heard, MAndy started dismally, not serving well and basically just playing like his ass was hurting him. However, when he got a grip of himself in the second set, he was never really threatened, wrapping up the match in four sets. Interesting observation: some people seem to think he was toning down on the swearing and yelling and muttering because of Mr.Lendl. Mr.Lendl may be good for that attitude yet, hey?
3) Juan Carlos Ferrero – couldn’t keep up his strong performance for the first two sets and ended up losing to Viktor Troicki in 5 sets. So close to pulling off a great win.
4) Ernest Gulbis provided the bipolar match of the day, whipping Micheal Llodra in the first set and then got whipped in the next three. Dude’s never going to sort himself out, is he?
5) Other notable Frenchmen – Simon, Tsonga, Benny, Monfils etc – all got through, in contrasting fashions – straight sets, four sets, five sets, retirements. Special mention to Nicolas Mahut, who oust Rad Steps in straights.
6) The other big-named women – Serena Williams, Petra Kvitova and Shrieky Sharapova all breezed through the matches. My worry about Gisela Dulko proved to be utterly in vain as Shrieky dismantled her completely, only giving her a game.
7) Uber sad that Sammy was the only seed to fall from the women’s side – although Vera Zvonareva and Svetlana Kuznetsova needed three sets to beat their opponents.
That’s the wrap post in short for the day. And of course, there will be more to come.
P.S. oh, Djokovic won as well. I nearly forgot about him because…well, I don’t care enough? LOL.
If you didn’t catch the live broadcast of the 2011 United States Open women’s singles championship match on Sunday evening (or Monday morning in Dootsland, aka Australia), you surely have heard about the latest incident involving Serena Jameka Williams and a member of the officiating crew, two years removed from her unfortunate default against Kim Clijsters in the 2009 U.S. Open semifinals.
American television networks – sadly but predictably – are giving almost all of their airtime and “punditry” (such as it is) to the flap between Serena and chair umpire Eva Asderaki. American news outlets treat tennis as a sideshow (despite the presence of The Tennis Channel) and are hopelessly imprisoned by the view that biographical memes and longstanding narratives are what bring viewers to the sport. U.S. Open broadcaster CBS – just like former Wimbledon broadcaster NBC (with ESPN playing a lesser but still real role in perpetuating the problem) – thinks that running with familiar narratives makes for more compelling television than layered analysis of the Xs and Os of a tennis match. Anything American-centric only adds to what is perceived as ratings-generating television. None of this is surprising, but it remains unfortunate, because the real story from Sunday afternoon in a cloudy New York City was the woman who brushed aside Serena, 2 and 3 (not 7-6, 5-7, 6-4), to win her first major singles title.
I will say, straight up, that I predicted a 2 and 3 rout… for the 13-time major champion who was in search of a fourth U.S. Open crown and the completion of her remarkable recovery from an injury and recent (severe) health complications. Yes, there were reasons to think a close match was possible, but there was certainly no indication that Sam Stosur was ready to deliver an upset blowout of the best women’s tennis player since Steffi Graf.
Given that this blog is powered by indomitable Australian women who are going to kick ass over the next eight decades, it’s necessary to focus on the freshest story of the women’s tournament in the 2011 U.S. Open, one Samantha Jane Stosur.
One hastens to say that it’s necessary to celebrate this Summer Of Sam with a specific mindset – not in the way that household chores are necessary, but in the sense that giving full and honest expression to the soul is the fullest aim of human persons. This task of singing tennis psalms about Samantha – this redhead with a classically feminine name but a powerfully masculine game – is no burden, but a deeply joyful undertaking.
I can say this without too much hyperbole because I am a fan of Sam. (No, not as much as Svetlana Kuznetsova, but hey, since when does the Kooze remain on the radar screen anymore these days?) Stosur won my eternal gratitude and commanded my respect by staring down and stopping Serena Williams in the 2010 French Open quarterfinals. Yes, I can’t claim Stosur fandom as a lifelong badge of honor; I’m new to the Samantha Mantra and cannot say that I’ve known her since she began her professional career in 1999. I am a convert to the Church of Sam, and I freely acknowledge that religious converts can be obnoxious. Again, I don’t know the tennis life of Stosur from alpha to omega in the intimate way of a decades-long partisan. I freely acknowledge that my lack of long-term support is something I must own up to; I’m not the ideal Fan of Sam. What I can offer, however, is an appreciation of the values and virtues she brings to the sporting rectangle known as a tennis court.
The Fence is flooded with blog posts today! Be sure to check out Matt’s posts just below this one, where he wrote a USO week 2 preview and looking back at Wogie’s rather defining (also known as heart-attack inducing and hair-tearing) Slam matches over his career.
I’m just going to do a quick point-form recap of the day’s happenings, just to keep the wrap posts together.
1) As expected, Dave was able to give Rafa some trouble early in the match – securing a break with some dazzling play involving the rather effective Nalbandian backhand. But Rafa always do as Rafa always does, as he broke Dave while he was serving for the first set, and from then on, it was Rafa all the way, rolling through for a straight sets victory.
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.
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.
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.
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.
P.S. photos from daylife.com