Happy Wimbledon, my lovelies!
This is Doots checking in my epic adventures post-Roland Garros. And time sure does fly when you’re having fun: it’s our favourite time of the year again. Although this year, Wimbledon comes with a sense of foreboding doom, as Federer drew Nadal in his quarter and Murray in his half, while Djokovic prepares to inhale his way to the final through a plate of gluten free cupcakes.
Diabolical draw aside, Wimbledon is still a good place to be Roger Federer.
There is nothing quite like the first day of Wimbledon. The grass is greener, the whites are crisp, and the world is a pristine bubble full of those sweep pops of tennis balls on tightly strung strings. There’s not much to say about Federer’s first round match against Victor Hanescu. The Romanian never looked like he possessed any weapons to threaten Federer. Even the typically big serve was castrated against Federer’s excellent returning.
The stats do tell a story: Federer faced no breakpoints and converted 6 of 8 on Hanescu’s serve. He won 90% of points on his first serve, and hit 32 winners to only 6 unforced errors (14 to 13 for Hanescu).
But of course, there is more to tennis than statistics. There was that reflex volley in the first set, when Federer almost casually stuck his racquet out in front of the ball, as if to say “keep calm and carry on. I do this in my sleep.” There’s Federer chasing a drop shot, skipping past the winner like a school girl in a field of tulips. And then there’s that backhand lob in the third set followed by a cheeky grin. The satisfaction of soaring higher than a giant.
Given the draw, I may not feel great about Federer’s chances at Wimbledon this year (it’s not a lack of faith, folks. Beating 2 of the Big Four is doable. Taking out three of three is a near impossibility), but I do feel a lot better about his form coming into the tournament than I did back at Roland Garros after the match.
Elsewhere, things were less poetic as Victoria Azarenka found herself sobbing uncontrollably in pain after landing awkwardly on her knees while serving.
Warning: this may be hard to watch for some.
Fortunately, Azarenka was able to play on, defeating Koehler 61 62 despite appearing to be quite shaken for the rest of the match. Koehler paid the price for not taking advantage of her opponent’s condition and making her run. Opportunities don’t come knocking too often for the lower ranked players on tour, and it’s a shame that when it does, so few players take their chances against the top dogs.
One player who did take her chances was Monica Puig, who claimed the first “upset” of the tournament by taking out the fifth seed Sara Errani 63 62. Not that Errani is a titan on grass, if you recall her being on the losing end of a golden set to Shvedova last year. But en route to victory, Puig hit 38 winners with her brand of feisty, aggressive, flat hitting tennis that Errani had no answer to on this surface.
Not bad for a 19 year old playing her first grass tournament as a pro.
Puig has been overtly confident about her talent in the media recently, but given my predisposition to her game, I’m inclined to feel that overt confidence is not so awful a trait in a teenage professional athlete.
Play continues for Day 1, but it’s a wrap from Down Under. Work does have this annoying habit of getting in the way of tennis. Good night and morning, wherever you are.
This time 3 years ago, Maria Sharapova had spent a year off tour, dealt with a career threatening shoulder injury, dropped out of the top 100, and came back to play on clay with her game in tatters but her spirit ever the more steely.
If someone had told me then that she would one day climb her way back to No 1 and complete her career slam at Roland Garros, I would’ve probably recommended them a good psych.
But hey, what would I know?
With a title at each of the 4 slams by the age of 24, Sharapova officially becomes “history books” material, and on track to become the greatest of her generation (as distinct from the Williams’ and Henin generation, although that distinction is hazy at best). But more on that and the final later.
Right now, as a fan, I am simply proud of the resilience and dedication of a young woman in reaching the ultimate milestone on her comeback from injury.
1. Ancic’s comeback lasted only two matches before he was crushed by Nadal, 62 62.
Oh Rafa. So mean to Super Mario. 😦
I’ll forgive you though, because you’re wearing those awful ‘grilled steak’ pants and need all the compassion you can get.
Surely Rafa has some input into Nike’s designs for him? If yes, then we need to convert Anna Wintour to Rafaelism, ASAP. If not, the Nadal team needs threaten that unless Nike comes up with better designs, Rafa will play pantless.
I’m sure many of us won’t mind.
2. Talk about crushings, two Aussie women are through to the fourth round of Indian Wells after Sammy brushed past Pavsies, 63 60 in just over an hour. It’ll be a fun one next against a newly coachless Vera Zvonareva, who also sailed past Serbian-killer Ana Sevastova, 62 63.
3. As some players sailed, others suffered crushing defeats. I don’t remember the last time I saw Fernando Verdasco bagelled. He looked listless and miserable as he flubbed his way to a 60 63.
All credit to Birdy, le Beautiful. Sometimes, when he gets on a roll, the only person who can stop him is himself.
4. I missed the match completely: MJMS old-schooled Vika for a 76 62 win.
In related news, she is still my girl-crush. Flavs, who fizzled out in the third set against Shahar Peer, has been demoted.
5. Match of the day between one of the most underrated players of the WTA – Sara Errani and one of the most overrated, Lady Jaja.
It was error-prone and exhausting. The momentum swung like a pendulum in a grandfather clock, yet somehow, it managed to stay entertaining.
JJ remained incapable of putting away a short ball to save her own arse, but the girl managed to run Errani ragged in the end. I’d love to see Sara E do some damage during the clay season.
6. Talk about drama and pendulum swings, Alisa Kleybanova sweat-squeezed Mama Barbie right out of Indian Wells in a see-saw 64 16 76(4) win. Kim led 3-0 in the final set, and 4-0 in the tiebreak before Kleybs rallied back to play the match on her terms.
IT’S BALLBASHING YOU CAN BELIEVE IN FOLKS.
TYPE IN CAPS LOCK.
7. Nikki Vee retires from tennis at the age of 20. She is set to marry Wormy in July. Hands up if you thought she was the real deal at the age of 17?
Don’t be hard on yourselves/me.
Just realised for the first time that Nicole Vaidisova’s younger than me. The fact that she’s about to retire and get married just a year out of her teens both depresses and scares me shitless.
Any bets there’ll be a comeback within 3 years?
Ljubicic is in the Indian Wells final. Good for Papa Ivan, but golly-gee, I hate Indian Wells.
BRING ON MIAMI ALREADY.
No, not really. It’s just JJ being … well … JJ.
“This morning, when I woke up I felt, oh God I cannot move, but it’s a special occasion, I am playing for my country and we are in a position where for the first time in the history of Fed Cup, we are able to get in the World Group and next year play for the title, so this is a big opportunity for us. In my head, with my mental strength, I pushed myself and at the end especially I wanted to win that second set because I didn’t want to play the third.”
But JJ’s back in my good books this week. Look how fantabulous she looks in her blue dress! Since I’m in the mood for some fashion, I must say I approve of JJ’s decision to sign up with the Chinese label Anta, which is seeking to establish itself as internationally.
Well their designers have clearly been working their butts off at the Anta HQs, because while Ana Ivanovic has been sporting the same saggy asymmetrical horror from Adidas since Doha last year, JJ has had 7 different dresses in 2009. That’s right, SEVEN. At this rate, expect 20 by the end of the year. I ain’t complainin’, not when the stuff they come up with looks like this. A girl knows she’s loved when she gets 7 dresses in 3 months.
And while we’re at it, the other 6 outfits she’s worn this year:
Fed Cup dress in white
Billie Jean Exho
Keep those awesome dresses coming, Anta!
Other Fed Cup Happenings
What’s going on with the Russians? Hope is fading for the Mighty Russians as they trail 0-2 to Italy after Day 1 of the Fed Cup semifinals. It came as no surprise to me that Pennetta beat Chakvetadze. Anna has been out of form for a while now, and looking like a miserable, moody teenager whenever she’s on court. Take a break, get away from the Dad, and comeback a woman, Anna. The girl’s got talent, she’s just mentally prepubescent, but I digress… The real surprise was that Kuznetsova lost to Schiavone, which actually isn’t much of a surprise considering it’s Kuzzy. I think the Italians should wrap things up nicely, they’ve got Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci for the doubles, and both have been in awesome form on clay of late.
France and the Slovak Republic all square after Alize Cornet lost to Daniela Hantuchova, but Amelie came through. China is down 0-2 in a very winnable tie for them against Germany. Bummer. On the plus side, our Stosur/Dokic Fed Cup team is only one match away from securing its place in World Group II. Rock on girls.
And I am still staying true to my promise to follow more WTA tennis during the clay season. Amazing huh? Meanwhile, for the ATP, Rome draws are out, and I’m doing the ATP World Tour Draw Challenge. Clearly I’ve gone nuts, because I’ve just picked Andy Murray to win it (over Novak Djokovic). Rafa, I love you, but you have to leave some for the other guys right?
Clearly I’m trying to ignore Roger for the time being. I might feel less fangry if he buys me coffee the next time he’s in town, dream on dootsiez …
Sorry for the rant my loverlies
- Roger Federer (24 points: 10 for the win, 2 for straight sets, double as team captain)
- Lucie Safarova: (16 points: 10 for the win, 2 for straight sets, 2 for beating a higher ranked player, 2 for taking down a seed – Bammer)
- Sara Errani (16 points: as above, took down Kirilenko)
- Dinara Safina (12 points: 10 for the win, 2 for straight sets)
- Jelena Dokic (12 points: 10 for the win, 2 for beating a higher ranked opponent)
- Victor Troicki: (10 points for the win)
- Feliciano Lopez (1 point for losing but winning at least a set)
- Agnes Szavay (1 point, as above)
Looks like my gamble on Errani, Dokic and Safarova paid off. Turns out I do know something about the 25+ bracket of the WTA after all.