Tag Archive | Yanina Wickmayer

US Open 2011 (by LJ): Day 3 Wrap – An Ode to Venus

Dear Venus,

You brought something very special to tennis, whether it was those early hair beads flung across the courts every swing, or your gangly but poised frame gliding across the Wimbledon grass there was tennis before the Williams sisters and tennis after the Williams sisters.

As the oldest Williams sister, you’ve endured so many generations of players but yet you still come back, time and time again, pulled back by your love of the game.

To have your career stopped, so cruelly by an illness which has no certain remission rate and no cure is just….UGH.

Get better soon Vee, you deserve to come back and receive a proper send off.

WTA

Venus Williams withdrew from the US Open 2011, citing Sjogren’s Syndrome and probably taking her out from tennis indefinitely. The diagonsis was long coming, Vee only having played 4 tournies this year has been looking out of sorts for a while. Sabine Lisicki goes through to the 3rd round.

A Slew of seeds fell by the wayside today including Cibulkova, Radwanska, Bartoli and Wickmayer. And it’s only the 2nd fucking round. I mean is the season just too long? Or is it the WTA points system? cause someone needs to sort this shit out.

Robson and Dulgheru underperformed compared to their first rounds earning themselves a boot from the tournament.

ATP

On the Men’s side, Soderling joined the list of US Open wounded, withdrawing just before his match with a virus, another statistic for the “Season is too bloody long argument”.

Roddick continues to struggle, needing 4 sets to get past Michael Russell, as Murray and Del Pony do it easy in 3.

Also doing it easy was Julien Benneteau taking out 10th seeded Almagro….Almagro was ranked 10????? WTfuckery?

3 matches went the distance including Gilles Simon who needed 5 to get past Brazilian Ricardo Mello, which shouldn’t bother him too much considering what he did at the Australian Open this year after winning Sydney , (almost burst an artery sitting through that match.)

And that’s it from me folks, the next few days will be brought to you by PJ but I may drop in sometime next week.

Happy USOing

LJ

Monday Musings: Well-socked inspiration.

As the American media will no doubt cover USA’s inspired victory over Russia, I’d like to congratulate the Australian Fed Cup team on thrashing Ukraine 5-0 to put our country back in the World Group, on ANZAC Day to boot! Our girls are real troopers, yes they are! Skippy the kangaroo for y’all!

Italy, USA, Belgium, yer all going down-wown-wown-wown-wown next year. Just you wait til Dootsie starts the smacktalk and the irritatingly bogan ‘oi oi oi’ thing. JUST YOU WAIT.

Whew!

Over in Rome, Italy is the ‘Spain’ of Fed Cup, as Flavia Pennetta closed out the third match against Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic to put her team through to its 4th Fed Cup final in 5 years.

Meanwhile, Bethany Mattek-Sands became the unlikely hero of the weekend in Birmingham Ala, finding just enough tenacity and just enough determination in her to win both the singles rubber to save US from defeat, then the doubles match, executed with a look of determination.

Of course determination is a lot easier to muster up when you have Lizel Huber to fall back on as your partner.

There you have it – the Fed Cup final will once again be decided between Italy and the USA. One, a team of seasoned and stylish veterans, known for their maturity and creativity on-court. The other, a somewhat mismatched team of fashion gurus, pit bull terriers and the Queen of doubles, united by a common inspiration.

Who else is a little intrigued this year?

In other world group play-offs: France and the Slovak Republic will be joining Australia in the World Group next year, as they defeated Germany and Serbia by a slim 3-2 advantage yesterday.

In Belgium, victory was assured but the mood was gloomy. The so-called “dream team” came down in a flash as injuries plagued Henin and Clijsters. The one-pinkied Justine was shocked by Kaia Kanepi in 3 sets, while Kim pulled out of her singles rubber with a foot muscle tear which could see her sidelined for 6 weeks.

Yup. You read it right – 6 weeks, French Open included. Clijsters however isn’t giving up hope.

“When the doctor tells you six weeks, then you start panicking. [But] I am someone who heals reasonably fast.”

But as far as the Fed Cup was concerned, Wicky could always be counted on to uplift the team in a time of trouble.

On the penis side of things, Fernando Verdasco defeated Robin Soderling 63 46 63 to clinch the title in Barcelona.

The optimists amongst you might think he’s headed on a road of good form leading – as all roads do – to Rome. Not sure that I buy that yet.

Dasco’s wins this week have been the result of tenacity more so than authority, lethargy more than energy, and the constant reminder of injuries creeping up on him rather than a happy concoction of health, form and state of mind that some players (read: Nadal) need to go on a tear.

In other words, I’m not convinced about Nando’s chances in Rome, Madrid and Paris yet. But for now? There is still time to enjoy the champagne.

As for the unfortunate loser, Abu Dhabi 2010, Indian Wells, Miami, Barcelona: all respectable results, some close matches, a lot of expectations raised and dashed.

I can’t explain how Bobby Sod, the man who pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the last decade, can’t seem to find the ‘go-getter’ in him in key matches, but I still am expecting another wow-moment from him at some point this year.

Don’t let me down, Soddybums.

xx doots

Miami: It’s like comparing oranges and some fruit from Ecuador.

1. There were two Roger Federers on court today in Miami. Citrus Fed – fresh, tangy, reeling off backhand winners and serving smoothly.

And then there was Federpumpkin, framing balls high into the air and setting up points beautifully before netting the final blow. Oh Ferd, turd is still turd, dressed in orange or not.

Luckily for us, there was more citrus and less pumpkin at the end of the day, and Fed came through smoothly against Lapanties, 6-3 6-3.

I thought the ball was flying quite a bit actually, which I was sort of surprised about, because in the practices I thought it was always very sort of humid and it was hard to get something out of the ball.

All of a sudden I was trying to generate pace on the ball and the thing would fly off my racquet like I couldn’t believe. So I had to play a bit more safe and not go for at lines as much.

All of a sudden the court becomes this big, you know. It’s tricky, but tried a few different things on the return as well. But when you start doing that, that also makes you a bit unsure.

And I think today I came through because I served very well. I had a good start into basically all my service games. I always knew I was gonna have a couple of chances at least on the return games.

I was able to have a good record on breakpoint conversions, and I think that’s what won me the match today.

2. While Roger was able to rely – ironically – on his breakpoint conversion and citrus backhands to come through, there was no such luck for Mandy.

After claiming Roger’s scalp in Indian Wells a couple of years back, Farty Dish struck again – this time, dispatching Murray in straight sets, 6-4 6-4.

From what I saw of the match with hindsight, Mandy looked rather subdued, sending loopy balls over the net which Farty punished with aggression.

Farty’s win ensured Rafa a No 3 spot post-Miami, within striking distance of Nole. But for Murray, he finds himself back at No 4 and in a rough patch.

Last week was poor, too. You know, it’s not been great since Australia.

You know, I need to needed to find a way to get round it, and I’m sure I will. I’ve gone through bad patches before, and I just need to practice hard, work hard, and get stronger. I’m sure I’ll start playing better again.

But the last few weeks haven’t been the best.

Q. Do you think a change of surface, especially on the clay, might actually be what you need now, a switch of direction?

No. I think it’s just I need to get my mind right; I need to get focused again. You know, when I do that, my game will get better again. That’s for sure.

Q. Any reason why it goes away? I mean, is it frustrating?

No, I don’t know. That’s something I need to sort out myself. It’s purely down to me, what goes on inside my head. No one else can, you know, make that better or change it, you know. You need to do that yourself.

Doesn’t matter how well you practice. You know, you need to be tough in the matches. I need to get better, you know, mentally, because since Australia where I was great in all of the matches, I’ve been poor.

For Roger, Nole and Mandy’s loss provided him reasons to be happy. Not only has he secured the No 1 spot until Roland Garros, he’s also found some satisfaction in the success of an old pal.

“Mardy Fish, he beat me at Indian Wells once handily. He’s a dangerous player. You always know he can create an upset.

But at the same time, Murray is defending champion here. I didn’t expect any upsets from, you know, Fish or Rochus, but both been able to do it.

Rochus I’m obviously extremely happy. I won junior Wimbledon doubles with him, so we go way back.

For those secretly hoping that Fed will take a last-minute wild card into Monte Carlo, it doesn’t seem very likely.

Q. You don’t play Monte Carlo, but you will play Estoril. It will be three tournaments a row Rome, Estoril, and Madrid. Any special reason for that?

ROGER FEDERER: I always look at the schedule, what’s the best preparation for the French Open? What am I in the mood to do? What am I in the mood to play?

Monaco is not a mandatory event anymore. It gives us a bit of an option. Of course, there’s a lot of points there to go get, but it’s really early in the season.

It’s too early for me, and I also want to have some vacation, you know, after a long trip here in the States so I’m really fresh for the long trip really from Rome until Wimbledon.

It’s a long one, and I want to be refreshed till the very end of Wimbledon, you know, not that I get tired midway or something, so I need to plan clever and healthy. I believe that this is the right schedule this year.

Tis a pity. Apart from being a points-bonanza, Monte Carlos also happens to be my favourite clay court tournament, now most likely unattended by my favourite player.

On the women’s side of things, Kuzzy sailed past Agi Szavay with surprising ease, while Ana Ivano could do no more than push Aga in a 57 57 loss. Other seeds, Wickmayer (def Martic), Bartoli (def Dulko) and Hantuchova (def Petrova) all came through in straight sets, while Venus – sporting a corset inspired bodycon dress – dispatched Roberta Vinci with vehemence – 61 64 – despite struggling a little with her serve.

With Serena out of the picture, is it too early to start looking at the other Williams?

xx doots

Picket Fence Newsreel: Waiting for Godot.

1. It happens every Masters – punters predict a Fedal showdown, before Rafa and/or Federer crash out early in the “upset” of the tournament. Waiting for Federer v Nadal is like waiting for Godot these days.

And why do we want Federer v Nadal anyway? After all, Rafa might be my second favourite player on the men’s tour, but when he plays Fed, all bets are off. Perfectly jolly fangirls turn into shrieking banshees during a Fedal match, and not in the most harmless way either.

And yet because no matter how many times we proclaim the end of the Fedal era to be a good thing for the sport, no matter how commentators insist that tennis isn’t all about Federer and Nadal (umm … there is also the WTA?), you’d be hard pressed to find a few actual spectators who bought tickets to the final hoping to see Ivan Ljubicic in action.

We all want a piece of that history, even if the thought of that history makes us sharpen knives in fear.

By the way, ‘expert picks’ here and here. ‘Cause, you know, they worked out so splendidly at the Australian Open and Indian Wells.

*

*

2. Laugh in the Face of Haterade, Edition 1 2010.

I don’t like to take swipes at other bloggers. It’s impolite and after all, to each his/her own right? But if I started a paragraph with that sentence, you bet I’m about to do exactly that.

Those are my five reasons why Federer can win in Miami, but there are more. And to take the contrarian viewpoint, there are several arguments that can be made against Federer. Among them: he doesn’t care about these events anymore; his only title in the last seven months came courtesy of a Davydenko choke; he has a tough draw and guys like Berdych, Murray, etc, will beat him in best-of-3; he’s still not 100% in playing form; he can’t handle the Miami wind.; and of course the popular fact that I have now pick him so…; etc. And those are all fair points, but I’m sticking with Rog here.

Source: the fine intelligentsia of tennis-x

It actually took me a minute to work out what the person was referring to. Oh-Of-course, Roger Federer only wins titles (major titles) these days because Nikolay Dayvdenko allows him to. Poor, poor Roger.

*

*

3. The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Awards for 2009 were given out in Miami today. Congratulations to the recipients.

There were no real surprises, though I have no idea what the “Player Service” Award is all about.

  1. Player of the Year: Serena Williams
  2. Comeback Player of the Year: Kim Clijsters
  3. Doubles Team of the Year: Venus and Serena Williams
  4. Newcomer of the Year: Yanina Wickmayer
  5. Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award: Kim Clijsters
  6. Player Service: Elena Dementieva
  7. Humanitarian: Liezel Huber*

* Lizel Huber’s charity – Liezel’s Cause – helps victims of Hurricane Katrina. (clickey)

I thought Venus looked great…

Until I saw the Ugg boots.

*

*

4. OH MY GOD YOU GUYS: SODDYBUMS. SMILEY. DIMPLES. DOLPHIN.

I could put that into an actual sentence, but it would require to much thinking.

Who’s cuter? Bobby Sod or Flipper?

Ferrer was there too. Next!

Gonzo and Belluci joined the fun. Oh happy, flippity days!

*

*

5. I dare say Rafael Nadal will probably give you permission to punch his teeth out now. His wisdom teeth that is. He revealed during his pre-tournament press conference that he’s suffering from inflammation to his wisdom teeth. It won’t affect his participation in the tournament, but he was in visible pain during the press conference.

The pain started two days ago and Rafa will receive treatment during his stay in Miami. I sympathise, I really do. I should be getting mine out soon, it’s making a move.

*

*

6. In Miami results, Bandy had a much easier time than expected against Lukasz Kubot winning 6-3, 6-2. I wish I could say the same about Reeshie, who blew a close match against Belgium pocket-rocket Oliver Rochus, 7-6 (2), 1-6, 6-4 for his second consecutive first round exit.

So much for having points to gain.

As I write this, Fed’s latest hitting partner and the star of NBTA – Filip Krajinovic has split sets with Jimmy Blake.

On the women’s side, Justine Henin has no troubles dispatching Jill Craybas, while Kimiko battled past a flubbering AChak 75 36 64.

*

*

7. Federer fans, don’t ever change.

*

*

xx doots

Miami: The Frazzle Post

Congratulations to Kim Clijsters and Andy Roddick. Miami Champs for 2010.

Down Under Fall Out: Hot or Not?

I’m in no hurry to get over the Australian Open, and since my last two posts were heavily focused on Fed-related trophy porn, I thought I’d wrap up the tournament with some thoughts on other players.

What say you?

Hot: No 1s reign supreme.

Undoubtedly the two best players of the noughties win the first slam of the new decade. What more can you say about them that hasn’t been said already? They walk the walk, and they talk the talk. They’re inimitable, insatiable. They’re the players we’ll be talking about in the next 30 years the way people talk about Laver, Sampras, Graf or Navratilova these days.

We can point to the Davydenkos and the Dementievas of the tour, who scored recent wins over Roger and Serena. But in the end, there’s a good reason why Roger and Serena have a combined total of 28 slams between them, while Davydenko and Dementieva share a shiny l’oeuf.

Not: Grandest of all slams.

Two weeks ago, many ‘experts’ were betting their house money on having 4 different male slam winners for 2010. Now the same ‘experts’ claim that Federer could win all 4 slams this year.

Remind me: didn’t we say the same thing about every Australian Open winner for the last 4 years? How did that work out?

Logically, the feat is possible, but realistically, the diversity, depth and athleticism of modern tennis make this possibility slim to the point of being negligible.

All I asked for at the start of 2010 was for Roger to win one slam. As he said in previous years, any year with a slam is a good year. Now that he’s got one, I’ll a bit greedy and hope that he stays healthy all year to break Sampras’ record of weeks at No 1, keep the semifinals streak going and win Wimbledon.

But honestly, keep the moronic expectations to yourself.

Hot: Chinese onslaught.

Empty stands at the Shanghai Masters last year should tell you how much the Chinese fans care about tennis sans Roger Federer. And are we really surprised?

Only countries with a history of tennis and good players feel a sense of “ownership” over the sport. Zheng and Li may not be future slam winners, but they’re trail-blazers. They pave the way for the seemingly inevitable Chinese onslaught in the near future. And why do we want a Chinese onslaught?

For one simple reason: more people watched the Australian Open semifinals featuring Zheng and Li than the entire population of Australia.

China redefines “mass appeal”.

Not: talk about redefinition, are we redefining ‘greatness’ here?

Don’t get me wrong. I like Kim Clijsters. Yet I couldn’t help but cringe every time she was mentioned as a ‘great champion’ in the same breath as Henin and Serena over the past fortnight.

Since when did Kim Clijsters become a tennis great?

Let’s not forget that until last year, Clijsters was a one slam wonder known for her inability to convert a victory on the big stage. Her win in New York last year was a truly inspiring story. And no doubt, she is currently one of the best players on tour.

But don’t kid yourselves here – this wasn’t some sort of a “champion’s return” to reclaim her rightful spot at the top of the game. Clijsters is a step above Svetlana Kuznetsova in anyone’s books, but she ain’t a Serena or Justine.

And by the same token, since when did Venus get completely left out of the “current greats” list?

Sure, her form isn’t fantastic right now, but the woman reached the quarterfinals without playing her best tennis and outperformed most of the other top WTA players right now.

As the winner of 7 slams and at least the third best female player of the last decade, Venus Williams deserves more respect in the media rather than this “what have you done for me lately” attitude from commentators this tournament.

Hot: Red Hot Cilic Peppers

If every slam had an “it” player, then the “it” player of the Australian Open would be Marin Cilic. Welcome to the top 10.

We saw a bit of everything – aggression from the baseline, at the net, solid movement, calmness and some nerves too. Not to mention- surprising eloquence.

Count me in on the bandwagon. I have a feeling this guy’s going to have Mandy’s number someday.

But next time Marin, perhaps you’ll learn to pace yourself more in the first week of a slam?

Not: The player that no one’s talking about.

Sorry Nole fans, I laughed when some commentators picked him to win the Australian Open pre-tournament. Based on what?

Sure, the guy cleaned up the indoor season, good for him. But who cares about the indoor season? Not when the likes of Federer, Nadal and even del Potro spent the post-US Open circuit looking burnt out, lethargic and completely lacking in intensity.

But that’s not the part about Nole that left me cold. When Rafa crashed out of the tournament at the hands of Mandy, Nole could’ve earned his No 2 spot with a win over Tsonga, his first credible opponent in the tournament after a string of cupcakes.

Instead, he cockblocked himself one last time and left his ranking up to Federer and Murray to decide. As Mandy lost, Djoko became the new World No 2 through the backdoor. Color me unimpressed.

Yes, I’m aware he had some health issues. But once upon a time, a boy also had wolf issues.

Hot: Step up.

My revelations of the tournament:

  • Yanina Wickmayer (move over, Masha);
  • Alisa Kleybanova (there is no better anger management than watching Kleybs club the bile out of a tennis ball),
  • Nestor/Zimonjic (like I would ever pay attention to the men’s doubles semifinal if I wasn’t stuck ushering it. But boy, was I glad I watched it);
  • and of course, John Isner, who continued to impress with his baby fat and sheer desire to step up.

He leaves this half of the globe with his first tour title in Auckland and his second consecutive slam fourth round. It seems that American journalists aren’t the only ones taking note of his entry into the top 20:

AMERICAN John Isner is shooting up the rankings – he’ll move into the top 20 after January’s ranking points are counted. The 22-year-old clinched his first tour title the week before the Open in Auckland, and some very important people took note. ”That was pretty cool,” said Isner, explaining how Roger Federer had stopped him in a Melbourne Park corridor to congratulate him. ”I didn’t really think he would even know, but he did. Any time Roger talks to you, let alone congratulates you, it’s pretty neat.”

Source: theage.com.au

Not: Step down.

15 months ago, Safina, Lady Jaja and Ana were on top of the rankings. They were the “right now” and future of women’s tennis. Today, they are three girls struggling to live with their serve, approaching their mid-20s with a total of 1 slam amongst them. With Serena looking ever so motivated and Henin back in the action, the window of opportunities has just about closed.

Kudos to all of them for going away every offseason to train and broaden their games, but the lack of game is hardly the reason they can’t win slams. At their best, JJ, Ana and Dina all have slam winning arsenals. What’s lacking is a correct balance between hot desire and a cool head.

What this says about them is that none of them know who the hell they are as a player just yet. Will they ever?

Hot: Happy Slam

I had the pleasure of chatting with some European tennis fans over the course of the last two weeks. Their comparisons made me realise just how affordable and accessible grand slam tennis is down under.

I give a lot of flak to our politicians for … being politicians, but thumbs up for continuing to invest in the sports precinct of this city. In a few years, there’ll be 3 roofs at the Australian Open, new indoor courts, a greater use of the space at Melbourne Park, and 500 more seats at a renovated Rod Laver Arena.

Not too shabby, I say.

Not: Cause and means

On the most part, Australia is a fairly multicultural society, but for some reason, tennis brings out the racial tensions each year. Croatian neo-Nazis were arrested on Day 2 with one person out of the gang found to be facing two murder charges. Chilean fans were ejected for lighting flares. The nephew of the Australian prime minister protested with a group in KKK costume against Australia’s racist treatment of refugees.

It’s another matter of cause and means. I believe that Australia’s treatment of refugees is an utter disgrace. Meet me on the Parliament steps. Meet me on university lawns. Meet me at Federation Square to protest the injustice.

But if I see you at the tennis ruining other people’s good times, I’m calling the security.

Hot: Records left standing.

With his Australian Open win this year, Roger Federer is more than 3000 points ahead of Nole, making it almost impossible to topple him before Rome. Roger needs to remain No 1 at the end of Roland Garros to break the Sampras record. It’s up to him right now to take care of his opportunities in the next 3 months and stretch that rankings lead. You go, Poopie!

Not: imbalance in our tennis universe.

I knew it was coming, but it still hurts a little to see Rafa at No 4.

We could have a Fedal semi at Indian Wells. We could have a Fedal quarter at Roland Garros if Rafa doesn’t manage to defend his points in the first half of the year.

To quote myself narcissistically, DYSTOPIA.

That’s it from the Australian Open guys. I’m taking this week as a “honeymoon week” to enjoy the Swiss 16, so don’t expect any coverage of the ‘Movistar Open’ or Zagreb.

xx doots

Down Under Day 7: Halfway Hurricanes.

Day 7. The official half way point of a slam when the big names are starting to either hit their strides or hit the nadir of their nosedive.

Justine Henin came dangerously close, once again, to a nosedive. While Kim’s fairy tale run to the US Open title was impressive in its suddenness, Henin’s comeback has been, in many ways, even more enjoyable. There’s a quality in her that’s inspired better tennis in all her opponents since Brisbane.

Yesterday, I witnessed Yanina Wickmayer play the match of her career. For 3 whole sets, Wickmayer blasted whatever ball that came her way, and took strides forward whenever a shot from Henin fell a fraction short of the baseline. It was thrilling, powerful and creative tennis from both women in what I believe to be the best match of the tournament.

And yet, we seemed to be using the phrase “best match of the [insert period]” on Justine Henin more and more these days.

If there’s one thing that sets Justine apart, it’s that she finds a way to win. We saw that against Kleybanova, and we saw that yesterday against Wicky. Yanina had 3 set points at 6-5 in the first set, did absolutely nothing wrong on any of them, and lost all 3. And 5 points later, when the set progressed into a tiebreak, Henin didn’t miss another shot.

While Yanina stayed positive through the second set, completely overpowering Henin with her aggressive groundstrokes, Justine just took it to a whole new level in the third set, breaking Wicky in the first game with the most ridiculous all-court rally. From then on, she delivered, time and time again on serve to maintain her lead. And admirably, Wickmayer went down swinging til the very end, with just a shadow of something reminiscent of Maria Sharapova in her.

Top 10 by Roland Garros.

Magda Szubanski was there to add to the awesomeness.

Also hitting their strides were Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal, as I watched both progress safely through to set up a thunderous quarterfinal.

As much as I hate to admit it, if I had to give out grades for Week 1 performances at the Australian Open, Andy Murray would be top of the class. Isner had his chances in the first set, but the shot selection and execution under pressure just isn’t there, as exhibited by his pathetic excuse for a drop shot in the first set tiebreak. Of course, life was made that much harder by Andy Murray making a grand total of 5 unforced errors in the match.

Photos my own.

Didn’t see the rest of the match – a particular “someone” was practicing out on Court 17 with hot hair.

You see, I’ve got my priorities right.

[Friend: “Look look look! It’s Ro- OOOOHH HAAAIR.” *cross-eyed*]

Yes, Mr Hair has hypnotic powers, y’all!

Excuse the lack of 200 pictures to spam you with, I didn’t managed to get any autographs or photos other than the ones here. It’s not a hyperbole when I say that the girl next to me fainted when she saw Roger, and she stayed fainted.

I thought I was hardcore.

After an intense internal debate with self, I decided that human life was more important than Federporn.

After his practice, Roger signed a few autographs quickly on his way out. The Federer gang had a laugh with Sven Groeneveld, who came in with Caroline Wozniacki.

Meanwhile Doots and her slightly hypnotized friend headed back to Rod Laver Arena, just in time for Rafa v Karlovic.

The crowd, as expected, was predominant pro-Rafa, known affectionately as “Raf”. That’s Aussies and our lazy tongues for ya – by the middle of the first set, the “c’mon Karlovic” cheers from the Croatian fans had turned into a murky “caarrrrn Karlo”.

One little thing about Ivo Karlovic: he’s 10 times more impressive live than on TV. I may roll my eyes whenever I see him in a televised match, but it is only from the court side that you begin to fully appreciating the speed, placement, trajectory, and pop on his serve.

And will we ever give him enough credit for having more to his game than just the serve? Dude’s a pretty nifty volleyer, and did well yesterday to smell an opportunity at the end of the second set and convert it for a set of his own.

As for Rafa, the loss of a set was hardly a reflection of his form, but rather a combination of luck, momentarily loss of focus and the pressure put on by Karlovic at the right time.

During the fourth set of Raf’s match, we headed back to the cooler practice courts to escape the searing sun on Rod Laver Arena, and happened to catch Mr Casa Nova practicing ahead of his match against Davydenko yesterday.

In the thriller match of the day, Marin Cilic defeated Del Potro in 5 sets in 4 and a half hours for his first ever quarterfinal showing. Can’t say I was surprised, since I predicted Cilic to take down Del Potro in 4 sets. The stats were against del Potro – name the last male player to win back-to-back slams off his first slam?

Yeah, keep thinking…

Q. There would have been a lot of extra pressure on you, being a reigning Grand Slam champion. Do you think that weight will be lifted before your next major?

JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: No, I really enjoyed that pression. The crowd is unbelievable with me. They support me every match, every point. I was down in every match, and they help me to keep fighting, like today. I really like it, that pression.

I get that players don’t always speak perfect English. What I don’t get is why the Australian Open transcribers feel the need to transcribe a mispronunciation.

To add to the ‘pression‘ of being a slam champ, del Potro has had an array of physical niggles all week, very nearly falling to a resilient Blake. Meanwhile, Cilic had been gather steam with his wins against Santoro, Tomic and Wawrinka.

Cilic next faces Andy Roddick, who came through his own 5 set epic against a blazing Fernando Gonzalez. If Andy Roddick needed to fire a warning shot for the tournament, this match did it.

The majority of the second and third sets left me wonder how it’s the laws of physics could allow Fernando Gonzalez to hit the ball with this much gusto and pace and miss so rarely.

Perhaps the only thing more impressive than a firey Gonzo is a Randy on the other side of the court who simply refused to fold. In his maturity, Andy Roddick achieved something that I never saw in him in his earlier years – fight, resilience, heart, guts, or whatever you choose to call a core of steel.

And ain’t he glad he weathered Hurricane Gonzo? Once Roddick squeaked out the fourth set, Gonzo was, in so many ways, Gonzo.

Some people, they never change.

xx doots

Offseason Newsreels: Open trials. Secret Weddings.

UPDATE: Yanina Wickmayer and Xavier Malisse have been removed from the list of suspended players and are now eligible to play tournaments. Will Craig Tiley give a wildcard to Wicky, who is obviously grossly over-qualified for the qualification rounds?

 

1. Despite having her one year ban suspended, the ITF claims that Yanina Wickmayer is still not eligible to play.

ITF spokesman Nick Imison said Tuesday that both players are still banned “until such point that we receive any further communication to suggest otherwise”.

Imison said the ITF is waiting to hear from the Belgian national anti-doping agency before it can make a formal ruling of their eligibility.

“Basically, it’s up to (them) to liaise with the Belgian court and make its decision based on that and inform us. As of last night, we hadn’t received any official correspondence at all.”

 

 

Since the Belgian ruling, Wicky was offered a wildcard to play at Auckland. She is also hoping for a wildcard to the Australian Open.

But the ITF maintains that the ban is still in force. “At this precise moment, she is ineligible to play,” Imison said.

“From our point of view, procedures are clear, and that if a decision is made by a national anti-doping authority, then these are sent though to us and then the ITF needs to make sure proper procedure has been followed,” Imison said. “At this stage, all we can say is that we await to receive the kind of relevant documentation and ruling from Belgium.”

Questions left unanswered:

  1. Does the Belgian court actually have jurisdiction for this or is it purely advisory?
  2. If the Belgian court does have jurisdiction over the matter, then surely its decision voids the bans? 
  3. On what authority then does the ITF or the Belgian national anti-doping authority propose to ‘liaise’ with a Court or to even consider the ban to be still in place after a court ruling declaring otherwise? The last time I checked, being assholes isn’t a legitimate ground.
  4. In addition to domestic courts, Wickmayer and Malisse have also appealed to the Court of Arbitration and the European Human Rights Commission. So whose decision counts here? Is the ITF bound to listen to any of these so-called courts, commissions or tribunals? 

One thing is for certain, you won’t find the answer to any of these in the media coverage on the matter. Most reports seem to accept that the ITF is free to just ignore a court ruling and Wickmayer can appeal to whoever the hell she wants. But what are the implications?

Does anyone – the ITF, WADA, the tournaments, Wickmayer and Malisse themselves included – actually know what’s going on? 

 

2. Nicole Vaidisova has won her first match in 6 months, defeating Katalin Marosi 26 64 64 round 1 at the ITF Dubai 75k tournament.

Yes. It has come to that. 

Word is that her current coach is Eric van Harpen, who used to work with MariKiri. 

 

3. The Swiss have a thing for marrying pregnant girlfriends in uber-secret weddings.

 Stanislas Wawrinka wedded his heavily pregnant concubine Ilham Vuilloud in a private civil ceremony on December 12. (Thanks FortuneCookie, HCFoo

 

 

Dude, couldn’t you have shaved for your own wedding? 

 

 

The couple is expected to have another wedding next year, after the birth of their child (children?!) in February. 

“We shall celebrate our union in a church ceremony with lots of guests when our child is able to carry our rings,” she said. (Swissinfo)

I can’t wait. Baby Stan will cause ovaries all around the world to flutter with excitement. Err, that is if ovaries are capable of fluttering. 

 

4. I hate agreeing with Pat Cash, but I do. The former Wimbledon champ had some sombre things to say about the state of tennis in this country.

 

”To be perfectly honest, it would be good to see greater depth in the Australian Open play-offs. 

”The reality is, even if they [the Aussies] dominate, to win a round in the Australian Open is still a big ask. If any of them get through and win a round or two, that’s a great achievement.

”In many ways Australia is behind the rest of the world, unfortunately.”

 

Cash is also reserving judgement on Bernard Tomic.

 

”I’m reluctant to say that he’s going to be a superstar, it’s not possible to judge that.

”He’s got work to do on his game, he’s got a lot of improvement and that’s a good thing.

”I wouldn’t expect him to set the world on fire in the next couple of years but in time, if he keeps working on his game, in two or three years he might be able to knock on some doors, the top 100 or top 50.

”He’s got a lot of potential but I’d be reluctant to say this is the kid to watch, it just adds too much pressure.”

”Bernard Tomic and some of those young guys should be getting through events and winning a round or two if they’re going to be world champions,” Cash said. ”I don’t think people realise how tough it is, particularly in the men’s game. It’s brutal.

”It’s a big difference to 20 years ago when I first started, there were some guys who weren’t very good.

”The girls, if they have a good run, can win a couple of matches if they’re lucky.”

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

 

It’s a sad state of affairs folks, and like Cash, I ain’t jumping on the Tomic bandwagon yet.

I’m not even sure that I want a seat on that bandwagon after Tomic’s snubbing of Hewitt at Wimbledon this year. I may not be the biggest fan of Hewitt, but the guy deserves more respect and less jealousy from the little twat.

 

5. Marat Safin has been elected vice president of Russian Olympic Committee.

What when how WHY?!

Oh, and he’s due to play in Buenos Aires this week, along with Moya and Nalbandian. 

 

6. I have no idea what the hell they’re even talking about, but this was way below the belt. 

 

 

 

Ouch. Who the hell is Skip Bayless and who is he to trash talk Andy Roddick for being one of the top 5 players of this decade?

 

Rrrrrrude.

xx doots

Offseason Newsreel: Crime and Punishment

The competition may have stopped, but the news certainly haven’t. 

Here I was thinking that I can just sit back with a stack of trashy romance novels and enjoy my summer, apparently, relaxation isn’t in my dictionary. And I much prefer lowbrow tennis writing to Mills & Boon. Who knew?  

So let’s cut the crap shall we?

Read More…

Tell me this is a joke?

 

There’s a difference between strict enforcement of anti-doping regulations and draconian enforcement.

A one year suspension, not for doping, not for missing 3 tests, but for failing to submit her whereabouts 3 times, colour me surprised if the Agassi revelations didn’t play a part in this. 

Please stop being retarded, Belgian doping tribunals.

 

A Belgian anti-doping tribunal has suspended U.S. Open semifinalist Yanina Wickmayer for one year for allegedly failing to report her whereabouts to anti-doping officials three times.

The Flemish regional tribunal said in a statement issued Thursday that the minimum one-year sanction is “reasonable.” Tribunal spokesman Koen Uman says the suspension takes immediate effect, but can be appealed by Wickmayer.

The 18th-ranked Belgian has denied any wrongdoing and said on her Web site she planned to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The suspension came as a surprise as the prosecutor at the tribunal in October recommended Wickmayer receive only a warning for missing three tests over 18 months.

But the tribunal said in a statement that Wickmayer’s failure to live up to anti-doping rules required the minimum one-year suspension.

Wickmayer said last month she has had trouble with her password in the computerized system overseen by the World Anti-Doping Agency. She also said registered mail at her home could not be signed off on because she was traveling to WTA tournaments.

She has insisted she never missed an anti-doping test and her samples were always negative.

Source: AP

 

I should add that Xavier Malisse has also been suspended for a year. 

Does the Belgian anti-doping tribunal even have jurisdiction over WTA and ITF events?