The One That Got Away

by Savannah

A few years ago someone at the USTA, most likely someone in their Player Development sector, made a decision about a young player named Naomi Osaka. Ms Osaka, her family was told, was not eligible (worthy) of their strong support. Ms Osaka’s father, Leonard François, had a Plan B. His wife, and the mother of his two daughters, was born in Japan. Naomi had an option to play for the Japanese Tennis Federation and took full advantage of that option. The Japanese Association was more than happy to have her. That is why after her huge win – mark my word it’s huge – at the BNPParibas Open (Indian Wells) Ms Osaka posed with the flag of Japan instead of the stars and strips of the United States.

via Instagram

In hindsight the USTA passing on Naomi was probably the best thing that happened to her. I’m sure it didn’t feel that way at the time. After all Ms Osaka has lived in the United States most of her life despite being born in Japan. She still lives mainly in Florida. However, the USTA hasn’t produced a dominant player in many years. Venus Williams and Serena Williams also came up outside of the USTA’s clutches for many years. Andy Roddick, the last US male player to achieve anything, retired several years ago. Away from the USTA Ms Osaka learned the craft of tennis. How to think. How to play using the entire court. Instead of being a serve bot she has a good serve that her coach, Aleksandar (Sascha) Bajin, will make even better.

Last year Mary Jo Fernandez was saying that Ms Osaka has until she turns 21 to make a firm decision about what country to play for, hinting that the USTA was now interested in having her play for the country she was raised in. I will be very surprised if that happens. The USTA made its decision years ago. Now they will have to live with it.

©Savannahs World Tennis 2018 All Rights Reserved except where indicated

Tennis “Tennys” Problem

by Savannah

How would you handle this situation?

You have a player, lets call him “Ryan Harrison” who has a history of getting into verbal altercations with his opponents all instigated by “Ryan” himself. The list is long: Doubles players Juan Sebastian Cabal & Robert Farah were first, then came Thanasi Kokkinakis, Dudi Sela and his fans were cursed at in January and last night he was at it again starting in on the chair umpire as well as his opponent, lets call him “Donald Young” a veteran US tennis player. He’s not going to win any Slams but he has done what the USTA has asked of him over the years. “Donald” says that after he said “c’mon” “Ryan” said words to the effect of that’s what all black people say. Understandably “Donald” took offense and for the first time ever in his career did not really shake his opponents hand.

A commentator for Tennis Channel, the official channel of the USTA, mewled that “no one really knows what was said”.

Prim Siripipat
‏Verified account
46m46 minutes ago
More Prim Siripipat Retweeted Andrew Jerell Jones
Good interview w/ Ryan Harrison on altercation w/ Donald Young. It’s true, if this happened on the fball field, no 1 would blink an eye. Tennis still seen as a prim n proper sport. Still no word yet on what exactly was said between the 2

Note the deflection that is attempted here. “Mouthing Off” during an NFL game is normal within that context and no one would argue that fact. This reminds me of the deflection that was used during the 2016 election when vulgar comments were brushed aside as representative of “locker room talk” and the media went along with it.

Meanwhile, as has been the case for some time now, tennis fans are doing the best reporting. For instance this was posted by a fan who was there.

Valentina Lee‏
Replying to @atkinsonfasho @_Zennifer_ @CCSMOOTH13
Ryan Harrison told DY “That’s what all you black people do” after he was upset that DY cheered C’mon to pump himself up. So who’s the real loser?

(It seems that this Tweet has been deleted)

Odd isn’t it that not one media person who was there heard this exchange isn’t it? and of course “Ryan” denied he said or did anything wrong. “Ryan” is also the player who endeavored to explain racism to James Blake.

With Ms Lee’s tweet deleted the only eyewitness account of what happened is gone so the powers that be can say no one knows what was said. The only video left seems to be one where “Ryan” implies that comments attributed to him are lies.

The USTA and the ATP meanwhile are promoting Tennys Sandgren’s foray into South America as if his racist views hadn’t come to light. Is this his “apology tour”?

I’m pretty sure nothing will be done to “Ryan” and the USTA will continue on its way ignoring the outrage among many long term fans. Ignoring it will only make it worse but in the end they don’t care until you get the spectacle of US fans cheering for a Frenchman against a US player. Then you see the angry columns from tennis “journalists” blossom. Think about that the next time you read a column lamenting that fans in the US don’t cheer for US players.

This and That

I’m waiting for the day to come when female athletes don’t have to turn themselves into soft porn actresses to get men to pay attention to their sport.
That’s all I’m going to say.

An up and coming US player, Patrick Kypson, after losing a college level match, was recorded spitting in his hand before offering it to shake the winners hand.
There is video at the link. I guess he will be the USTA’s next big star.

© 2018 Savannah’s World Tennis All rights reserved

The Rear View Mirror – AO 2018

by Savannah

I’m not sure what Craig Tiley was thinking. Then again when a pattern of favoritism has been established it’s hard not to continue the practice. They could not anticipate injury but that is the only concession I’m giving the folks who organized this years Australian Open (AO). When every player but one had to play in temperatures well over one hundred degrees Fahrenheit (somewhere in the 40’s Celsius) under the sun because per the tournament to close the roof would disadvantage players who were toiling on the outer courts, teeth were gritted but there was reluctant agreement. When a player doing commentary for the US market suggested delaying the start of play on the outer courts to help minimize the effects of the heat she was ignored.

The match between Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka was moved because of the chance it would go long and the Pampered One would have to start late.

The AO has said in it’s statement that the Wet Bulb reading was 32.6, .1 over the critical level of 32.5. The tournament’s extreme heat rule has two parts though. To quote: “the ambient temperature exceeds 40C and the WBGT index reading exceeds 32.5.” The ambient temperature did not exceed 40c (104F). If they wanted to be consistent they should’ve closed the roof when the ambient temperature was 43C(109.4F) There were many questions raised about the health risk players faced under such extreme temperatures especially when the on court temperature was several degrees above the air/ambient temperature. Tennis writer Carole Bouchard said that the on court temperature was about 69c(156.2F). The tournament says that the WBGT did not exceed the 32.5 level.

I’m sorry. I was born at night, not last night.

When such blatant favoritism exists there’s no wonder that fans, and many of the people who cover tennis are outraged. Some are trying to gloss over the fact that the winner of the men’s final said he was kept in the loop all day and practiced indoors, while the runner up was not told the roof would be closed until minutes before he stepped on court.

To quote one fan who goes by “Sam L”:

We’re not talking about playing in parking lots. We’re talking about officials INCONSISTENTLY applying the rules they’ve set themselves. They said that only if the wet ball temperature and ambient temperatures exceed a certain mark they will close the roof, that’s why they didn’t close it before but why then did they close it on Sunday night when the ambient temperature didn’t exceed the mark????

When you INCONSISTENTLY apply rules and laws, it’s called hypocrisy…

The people in charge of the AO thought they could get away with this. I guess they forgot that there are fans who, while they can’t stay up due to the time difference will watch replays. I guess they forgot that there was live commentary, on Twitter, about the inhumane conditions players had to endure. And I guess the tennis establishment thought no one was paying attention when a player got a favorable draw, a nice starting time, or other little perks that make it easy to continue to play past the age when many have had to retire in the past. People notice things. People talk about things. Tennis Twitter exists to make sure fans know what is going on. It seems that with its actions during the men’s final the tournament crossed a line and there is no way the AO, and the ITF, can PR it’s way out of the mess it created.

End Notes

Congratulations to Caroline Wozniacki for winning her first Grand Slam title.I said before the match that Wozniacki had better on court mechanics than Simona Halep. Halep looked to her team after every point in her semi final. She got very emotional and her coaches had to figuratively talk her down from the ceiling throughout the match.

The other thing I noticed during the Final was that while Wozniacki used the ice towel after every changeover Halep didn’t use it until I believe the middle of the second set. It was not pleasant for either woman but in the end Wozniacki managed the heat much better than Halep did during the match. I was not surprised that Halep had to be treated for dehydration in a local hospital.

The Winners
via Wikipedia


Men’s Singles
Switzerland Roger Federer
Women’s Singles
Denmark Caroline Wozniacki
Men’s Doubles
Austria Oliver Marach / Croatia Mate Pavić
Women’s Doubles
Hungary Tímea Babos / France Kristina Mladenovic
Mixed Doubles
Croatia Mate Pavić / Canada Gabriela Dabrowski
Boys’ Singles
United States Sebastian Korda
Girls’ Singles
Chinese Taipei Liang En-shuo
Boys’ Doubles
France Hugo Gaston / France Clément Tabur
Girls’ Doubles
Chinese Taipei Liang En-shuo / China Wang Xinyu
Wheelchair Men’s Singles
Japan Shingo Kunieda
Wheelchair Women’s Singles
Netherlands Diede de Groot
Wheelchair Quad Singles
Australia Dylan Alcott
Wheelchair Men’s Doubles
France Stéphane Houdet / France Nicolas Peifer
Wheelchair Women’s Doubles
Netherlands Marjolein Buis / Japan Yui Kamiji
Wheelchair Quad Doubles
Australia Dylan Alcott / Australia Heath Davidson

Final Thoughts

The end of a Grand Slam is always bittersweet. You watch the orders of play shrink from multi page documents to single page documents reflecting the clearing out of the locker rooms as players scatter to the winds.

Still, there will be tournaments in the Middle East, the South American Golden Swing will start soon, and the spring US hardcourt swing begins in March. There’s a lot of tennis to come.

©2018 Savannahs Tennis World All Rights Reserved

This and That

by Savannah

Just a short post about developments in tennis that might fly under the radar because tennis “journalism” is not what “journalism” is supposed to be.

Sachia Vickery has decided to play for Guyana, the country where her mother was born, instead of the United States. Don’t start yawning yet. Vickery is just outside of the top 100 in the world, and is a product of the USTA’s development program. Back when I first started this blog I wrote about Vickery and Victoria Duval and the struggles they faced as young women of color in a system where their peers families were well off while their parents struggled.

When I read the news I have to say I was surprised, and then not so surprised. Certainly the USTA has more clout in terms of getting WC’s and such but if she can play herself into the top 100 the importance of that fades.

My second thought was that this is the second female player of color who has opted to play for another country. Don’t forget that Naomi Osaka was going to play for the US but her father, citing lack of support from the USTA, opted to have his daughter play for Japan. I wonder if that is the reason- lack of support -behind Ms Vickery’s choice? She’s a bit older than Ms Osaka was when the choice was made for her so she knows what the implications are.

I wish Ms Vickery the best and hope that she does well at the Olympics, the reason given for her making this move at this time.

Then there’s Bernard Tomic. Tennis Australia finally grew a pair and began treating him like the low level player he is so anyone who has been paying attention knew that there would be a reaction from the party boy.

This is the headline that greeted tennis fans today: Embattled Bernard Tomic threatens to expose ‘the many things that are corrupt’ in Tennis Australia – as he reveals he still wants to win matches for the nation

No one should be surprised about this. That a player publicly threatens to expose FIFA like corruption in his own Federation would normally give one pause but not in his situation. Tomic has been coddled by Tennis Australia for years now and as usually happens in this kind of situation petulance and threats ensue when the adults in the room finally start acting like adults. The ball is definitely in Tennis Australia’s court now.

End Note

The Tennys Sandgren situation has not gone away. The USTA wishes it would because it wants to promote him. Good luck with that.

Pam Shriver, an ESPN commentator, has still not apologized to Chung Hyeon for implying his retirement was Punking out” so to speak. Not content with that questionable comment she said the following about Caroline Wozniacki‘s win last night:
Jonathan Newman@Tennis_Jon
Pam Shriver making the verrry generous leap that she “wouldn’t be surprised” if David Lee’s height and power hasn’t helped Caroline’s added velocity on serve. This is some next level mess.

Uh huh. I think she was out in the sun too long.

Alizé Cornet missed three anti doping tests but she says she has valid reasons.

©2018 Savannahs World Tennis All Rights Reserved

AO 2018 Women’s Final: Halep vs Wozniacki

by Savannah

Number one Simona Halep vs Number 2 Caroline Wozniacki. Not only is the top ranking on the line; whoever wins will have scored her First Slam Win ever. This a critical match not only for the players but for the Women’s Tennis Association. It’s bad enough that women’s tennis is treated like a red headed step child. Its history of crowning Slamless number one players, combined with athletes who played their way into the top spot (remember the jokes about Jelena Jankovic playing $25k events in Nigeria?) the credibility of women’s tennis is at stake here as well.

Both women are known qualities to serious tennis fans so there’s not much left to say about either. Woz has worked hard to up both her physical and mental game. She’s embracing aggression a bit more and it worked for her this tournament. A lot of that improvement took place last year and she’s learned her lessons well.

As for Simona Halep she had no where to go but up at this event after her dismal French Open performance and quick exit thanks to unfortunate scheduling at the US Open. She has far exceeded what was thought of her ability to play Grand Slam level tennis. And yet…

If you watched the match she was constantly looking at her box, specifically her lead coach Darren Cahill, for reassurance, to bitch at, for coaching tips. Her reliance on her team reminded me of Justine Henin’s reliance on Carlos Rodriguez. After every point Halep’s eyes went right to her coaches. She also kept up a running dialogue with her team. To my knowledge Cahill doesn’t speak Romanian and Halep isn’t that fluent in English so I’m guessing a relay system of some kind was being used in addition to the usual hand signals. The chair didn’t have a problem with what was going on so I guess everything was on the up and up. Maria Cicak can’t chair every match.

Despite all of the excitement of last nights match between Halep and Angelique Kerber I saw a Halep unable to close out a visibly fatigued opponent. Kerber had nothing, no legs, and her arms were heavy but it took a third set going to 9-7 for Halep to finally prevail.

Before I go further it’s interesting that Kerber collapsed physically. I wonder what would’ve happened if Madison Keys knew how to play something other than grip and rip tennis? Giving Kerber exactly what she needed – a 51 minute match after her grueling match against Hsieh Su-Wei it looked as if everything caught up with Kerber last night.

But that, as they say, is water under the bridge. For the WTA it’s the top two seeds are facing each other and on paper that is a good thing. Woz leads the Head to head 4-2. From what I’ve seen this tournament she’s the tougher mentally. That could count for something.

End Note

The USTA has really handled the Tennys Sandgren situation well hasn’t it? They’ve had his friends on tour come out in support. He’s read a prepared statement and apologized to anyone he may have offended. All standard PR moves. Except that his apologies were not really apologies and the support he got from his friends dug the hole deeper.

As for how ESPN and Tennis Channel have handled things I can only rely on what I’ve seen on tennis twitter. Long story short: they had no idea what to say. I’ll try and do some listening on my own so I can speak with more credibility.

Naomi Osaka proved that she is no Madison Keys. During her on court interview after her third round win the comm went on and on about her Japanese heritage. Osaka’s personality is a joy to behold. You could see that she didn’t hear the rest of the question after he mentioned, incorrectly, that she was living in New York, and focused on the Japanese part of her heritage. She waited until he was done, told him that she lives in Florida and that her father is Haitian making it clear she is not pushing one part of her heritage over another. Then she said she forgot the rest of his question. Good for her.

And shame on the on air talent for not having done their homework.

© 2018 Savannahs World Tennis All Rights Reserved

2018 AO This and That Part 3

by Savannah

There were remarks made by the men and women ESPN employs to do commentary on tennis that should not be lost in the discussions of who made it through and who didn’t.

Let’s start with the match between Hsieh Su-Wei and Angelique Kerber. First they (Chris Evert) said that Hsieh had come on court with no strategy implying that she was just out there to have a hit with Kerber, who the ESPN team loves. Forget that for a set and a half Hsieh was unplayable, creating angles on the court not seen in many years. Kerber was screaming and “almost” throwing her racquet. None of this mattered though. I guess it didn’t occur to them to point out that Hsieh had been playing both singles and doubles up to last night. She’d upset two top ranked players but naw, she was “winging it” per ESPN. If they’d spoken about how much she’d played up until last night her beginning to miss more mid second set would’ve been noted as the point where Hsieh started to tire. By the third set you could see Hsieh had nothing left in her arms and legs. Despite the moronic commentary if you want to see beautiful tennis try and watch the first set of that match. If you watch more you’ll know where Hsieh faltered.

They also seemed to think that Hsieh played a style often seen in country clubs.
Funny, no one ever said that about Martina Hingis, who played a very similar style.

Then there’s John McEnroe. He’s made some ridiculous comments throughout his broadcast career but there he sits. His lack of knowledge about the sport he talks about would’ve put him in trouble if he were working any other sport but in the incestuous world of tennis no one has a problem with what he says on the air.

For example, he made a comment about a male American player, Tennys Sandgren (more about his shortly) being “our last hope”. Funny, the first match of the evening featured a woman named Madison Keys who, last I checked, was born in the US Mid West. She’d also, playing US style grip and rip tennis, blew a pretty good player, Caroline Garcia, off the court and will face the above mentioned Angelique Kerber next. I assume he was on the grounds when she played but yet Sandgren is “our last hope”. I’m sure they’ll explain it away by saying that he meant in terms of male US players but he said what he meant and he meant what he said. McEnroe always has to be reminded that women’s tennis exists but he’s the top dog at ESPN. Go figure.

I was asleep when Chung Hyeon won his match so I missed any live commentary or comments from Tennis Twitter. I did notice that the banner headline on the Australian Open web site talks about injury and not play. It’s interesting that Chung and not Alexander Zverev is the Young Gun stepping up here.

The Sandgren Problem

When an outfit like Deadspin headlines an article about a US player that asks “What Does Pizzagate Truther Tennys Sandgren Find “Interesting” About The Alt-Right?” you’ve got an image problem.

The other day a member of Tennis Twitter posted a tweet from Sandgren after the US election last year that made it perfectly clear how he felt about the man eventually declared the winner. The person who posted it is not someone I would’ve expected it from either. He’s a staunch fan of Colleen Vandeweghe for example, but it turns out Sandgren has made no secret of his views. That means the US tennis establishment knows exactly who he is. And they’re still trying to rally US tennis fans, a pretty diverse bunch outside of the exclusive clubs and what have you, around him.

Long story short” it ain’t happening.

The USTA is always whining about the lack of support US players receive from fans. There’s a reason for that. Sandgren has a right to make a living playing tennis. I have the right to studiously ignore him and his ilk.

The WTA RAce for Number One

A fan calling himself “suliso” laid out the scenarios of who wins what among the four women still in contention.


RU; Wozniacki doesn’t win the title
SF; Wozniacki no final, Svitolina no title
QF; Wozniacki and Svitolina doesn’t reach a final, Pliskova doesn’t win
R16; Wozniacki doesn’t reach SF’s, Svitolina doesn’t reach finals and Pliskova doesn’t win the title


RU; Halep doesn’t reach the final
SF; Halep loses to Osaka in R16, Svitolina doesn’t reach the final and Pliskova doesn’t win the title


W; Halep doesn’t reach the final
RU; Halep doesn’t reach SF, Pliskova doesn’t win


W; Wozniacki doesn’t reach the final

I’m excited. Aren’t you?

© 2018 Savannash Tennis World All Rights Reserved

2018 AO This and That

by Savannah

Day 3 of the Australian Open ended mid morning in the Eastern United States. There’s been some interesting play no?

Belinda Bencic was finally playing up to her potential they said. She played Hopman Cup and managed not to fall flat on her face so she was going to make at least the quarters if not the semi’s they were saying. When Venus Williams played a sub par match and Bencic won there was figurative dancing in the aisles and there were whispers about her hoisting the trophy. Whoever her next opponent was didn’t matter. Bencic is the real deal and she’ll just roll over anyone else in her path they said.

I think it’s safe to say that Luksika Kumkhum from Thailand didn’t get the message that she was supposed to lose. She came out and played the best she could on that day and guess what? Aw, you all know already. Bencic is on her way to her next tournament. Tennis journalists are upset about the drubbing Bencic took – 6-1, 6-3 from Ms Kumkhum and seemed at a loss to explain her inability to find the court. Long time tennis fans weren’t. There’s a price you pay both mentally and physically when you beat some players. Even with a days rest Bencic wasn’t ready to play the Qualifier from Thailand.

You have to be a real tennishead to know who Jana Fett is. Her name is usually found on entry lists for ITF events or WTA International tournaments. If the crowd on RLA is anything like the folks who populate Arthur Ashe Stadium during the US Open I’m sure most of them figured Caroline Wozniacki would routine Ms Fett off the court and back to tennis oblivion. Instead Wozniacki had to mount a Herculean effort and take advantage of an epic mental melt down by Fett to come back and win their match after having been down 1-5 to her. Fett came apart after a shot went just wide and the veteran took full advantage.

It was very important for Wozniacki and her father that she win that match. Eyebrows were raised when at the end of last season they let Sascha Bajin go. Yes it was/is standard operating procedure for Victor and his daughter but you’d think they would want to continue their move on Number 1. If Caroline goes out first round the “I told you so” dance would’ve been performed in the stands. Instead Ms Fett’s inability to perform once it hit her where she was cost her the match. That inability to perform by an opponent can’t be counted on as Wozniacki moves forward.

That brings us to what for me was the most important match of Simona Halep‘s career. She faced Australian phenom Destanee Aiava in the first round and Ms Aiava was, like Ms Fett, poised to win the match up 5-2 and serving for it. Then things got really weird. Aiava pointed at her chest and called for the trainer during the changeover. The doctor arrived on the physio’s heels and Aiava was checked for problems with the heat. The comms began talking about Aiava’s lack of fitness and citing her age – 17 – as contributing to her lack of physical preparedness to play at the highest level. It is true that teenagers, who are still growing, can’t be put on the diet of an adult athlete. It’s true that Ms Aiava can, and will, shed a few pounds as she matures. But I’m sorry that MTO was just weird. She ended up leaving the court and Halep, who had been reeling, had time to be talked down by her team and to think about tactics when the match resumed. To her credit she had already started to force Aiava into long rallies that could have contributed to Ms Aiava’s physical issues. There was also a Tweet that Ms Aiava thought the score was 6-2 not 5-2.

At any rate that MTO was the turning point of the match. Halep came back to take the set and the match. It’s bad enough she’s wearing a mail order kit. If the WTA #1 lost in the first round there are people who would’ve literally gotten the vapors.

The other WTA match that is worth mentioning featured Alizé Cornet playing Julia Goerges . I didn’t see any of this match so there isn’t much to say except I’m shocked that Goerges has been playing so well of late, and that she was the #12 seed. Cornet acts nuts on court but she’s crazy like a fox when she’s on.

The other big match for me last night was Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs Denis Shapovalov . The Canadian had defeated Tsonga in New York in straight sets and it seems as if the much fitter Tsonga was out for blood. It didn’t look as if he’d have his revenge though as Shapovalov looked ready to win the match in four sets. Let me correct myself. Shapovalov looked desperate to win in four. When he started arguing a call with the chair I thought to myself that a veteran player, seeing that, would know he had his opponent on the ropes mentally and take advantage of the situation. Tsonga won the fourth set and cruised in the fifth.

I said after seeing Shapovalov live in New York that there were several things he needed to work on if he wants to be counted among the tennis greats. One is his balls to the wall style of play. He is not that big physically at six feet (I don’t think he’s that tall but he can still grow and may have since I saw him last summer) and being only 18 he can’t be put on a rigorous diet yet but if they don’t start correcting his mental approach to match play nothing will matter. He fell apart the same way Fett and Aiava did. He and Aiava are still young enough to gain the discipline needed to compete at the top levels of the sport. If you remember Alexander Zverev used to throw tantrums on court when things didn’t go his way. He still does but not the way he used to. All the talent in the world means nothing if you have no discipline.

End Notes

I was glad to see the article by Deadspin where the horrid online presence of the Australian Open was discussed. If you’ve had an IT giant like IBM doing your back office work and decide, for whatever reason, that you don’t require their services anymore you’d better have a replacement lined up that can do the job properly. I can’t imagine they thought IBM would leave it’s work in place when they left. I can’t imagine that a firm was hired that rendered the App worthless. It reminds me of the WTA kicking TennisTV to the curb and then being unable to provide a quality product for fans of women’s tennis. The folks in charge can’t be that myopic can they?

Then again, there’s talk that the WTA has chosen Shenzen for its YEC starting in 2019. What can you say?

© 2018 Savannahs World Tennis All Rights Reserved

Well That Was Awkward

by Savannah

Maybe the Monday Night Massacre at the 2018 Australian Openwill finally make the USTA take a critical look at the players it’s developing and placing before the tennis viewing audience. Let’s take a look at who lost. Thanks to @BenRothenberg for the list you see below.

#5 Venus❌
#8 Sock❌
#10 Vandeweghe❌
#13 Stephens❌
#16 Isner❌

McDonald ✅

I admit that John Isner and Jack Sock losing didn’t bother me all that much. Don’t forget that the Tournament Director at Auckland wanted to take back Sock’s appearance fee of $100,000 because of lack of effort aka tanking. In the age of Bernard Tomic to have a TD threaten to take away your appearance fee is eyebrow raising news.

A lot of people were surprised that Sloane Stephens lost and I don’t know why. There were a few of us – very few – talking about her lack of fitness during and after the US Open where she was the women’s champion. Add to that her attitude which is said to be horrible, and you’ve got a vile mixture. I guess people have forgotten how she coasted on beating an injured Serena Williams for years before finally realizing no one wanted to coach her because she is lazy and is not easy to work with.

When she won the US Open I said here that we’ll know how seriously she’s taking her potential by what she does in Asia. A knee injury was said to be the cause of her lack of results after the post US Open Asian swing.

Yet there she was yesterday with not a wrap in sight not running after balls. She’s actually in better shape now than she was in New York but there’s no cure for laziness is there? You’d think with a newly minted contract with Nike and as a Slam champion she’d want to prove people like me wrong. As long as they keep covering for her she’s got no reason to change. That’s why she could come into Melbourne out of shape and with little or no match play and think that her opponents would fold simply because she took the court. It’s a personality flaw that no coach has been able to fix.

That brings us to Colleen Vandeweghe. Anyone who has seen her live comes away with a bad taste in their mouths. Anyone who had not seen her live felt that those who disliked her were simply haters. It’s amazing what you see when the USTA is not controlling the stream isn’t it? It was late but not late enough for fans in the Americas to all be asleep. Many were simply amazed at how she carried on. As far as I’m concerned it’s about time tennis fans got past all the “softer side of Vandeweghe” crap and saw her for the entitled brat she is. How sad was it that the WTA Insider posted something about Colleen having the flu when everyone had seen her have a long, match delaying discussion about when she should eat her banana and cursing out her opponent with gusto and had been talking about it for over an hour?

And then there was Ryan Harrison in a “hold my beer” moment, curing out fans supporting his opponent. He’d actually been better behaved recently but then again so had Colleen.

As for Venus Williams she had a fantastic 2017. She looked flat and never was able to psych herself up. It’s a long season and at this point in her career she’s got nothing to prove to anyone anywhere.

I’m not that familiar with many of the other US players who lost yesterday with the exception of Taylor Townsend of course and Alison Riske. Frances Tiafoe, Donald Young, Madison Brengle , Tennys Sandgren, Kristie Ahn , Lauren Davis, Tim Smyczek, Sam Querrey, Steve Johnson,Christina McHale and Madison Keys play tonight. On paper Keys has the easiest match but one never knows do one?

End Notes

It takes a team to build a website and an APP. The backend, the folks who provide the nuts and bolts of modern day sports sites, are the ones who make recommendations as to how the site works. They’re the ones that determine how much capacity is built into the servers. They recommend where traffic goes in case of demand exceeding capacity. What happened last night to the new Australian Open site was a backend failure. Why the back end failed we don’t know. Did they make recommendations that were ignored? Did some muckety muck make last minute changes? Were corners cut? Was someone’s relative put in charge instead of a bona fide IT professional? We may never know. The site worked until opening night when thousands of fans visited and the site was unable to manage the load. It makes me wonder if there was a stress test performed before Opening Night? It makes me wonder what corners were cut to put out an inferior product? As of now the web site is working. I’m not sure about the App.

Because the AO web site and App weren’t working and the ESPN App on AppleTV didn’t show who was playing on what court it was a bit difficult to keep track of who was playing where. I hope that is not the case tonight.

©2018 Savannahs World Tennis All rights reserved except where indicated

The Rear View Mirror – The 2017 WTA

by Savannah

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Caroline Wozniacki finally won a big one. At the WTA YEC she was in the group of counterpunchers. None of the women in her group have what you would call big serves. None of them play “Big Babe Tennis”, even the watered down version that passes for power tennis these days. None of them were expected to win, least of all the woman known to tennis fans as “Woz”. She’s been around for years. She’s been ranked Number 1. And yet when it comes down to respect most wrote her off as “slamless”, a woman who couldn’t win a big title. Like it or not the YEC is one of the “big ones” and when the dust settled Woz was the one holding up the trophy.

Now comes the really hard part for Ms Wozniacki and her team. Will she finally break through at the Australian Open and drop the sobriquet “slamless” from her cv? With today’s WTA who knows? Right now Caroline is playing with confidence and sometimes that is what you need to pull yourself up and roll through draws. If she feels that she can stand toe to toe with the best of the current pack she has a chance.


Ah Ms Stephens. Where to start? I guess the best place to start is where we are. After an impressive win over Madison Keys at the 2017 US Open I said that the Asian swing would prove whether or not Ms Stephens was ready for prime time. She promptly lost every match she played including an embarrassing 0-5 retirement. Her ranking wasn’t high enough for Singapore although there was a lot of push to get her a WC into the event. Fortunately that didn’t happen, so she played at ZhuHai for the Elite Cup. Julia Goerges, who has seen some hard times, won that one. I will discuss Fed Cup separately but I will say for now she didn’t win any fans with her performance there.

I’m not sure why anyone in tennis expected anything different from her. She made a semi final in Australia and coasted on that win for a few years. Now she’s won a Slam. I don’t think we’ll see top level tennis from her again. She’ll always be a US Open winner, a Slam winner, and if past performance is any indication she will expect players to grovel at her feet in awe of her, they won’t, and she won’t care. I’m waiting to see what her coach Kamau Murray does. Murray got her to focus, to stay interested, through seven matches and I’m sure folks are banging down his door. He’s made it clear he’s not hanging around if “old Sloane” with the sucky attitude and horrible work ethic shows up. She was horribly unfit when she won the US Open and that’s not a good thing for someone like Sloane. Needless to say if she performs the way she has after the US Open in Australia she won’t be “slamless” but her win will be considered a “fluke”. And she won’t care.

WTA Tour Finals
REUTERS/Jeremy Lee

Simona Halep is now the top ranked WTA player for 2017. Let that sink in. Simona Halep, whose highest achievement in 2017 was reaching the finals of the French Open. Halep, who during that Final, hung her head and slumped her shoulders in defeat before the match was over. Halep who lost in the first round at the US Open. She is the woman girls are supposed to want to be, the epitome of the best of women’s tennis.

Of course she isn’t. And that is a problem. Like many of her peers Halep repeated over and over that she wanted to be Number One. Not win a Slam mind you. All she wanted to do was be the top ranked player. And she has achieved her goal with the lowest point total in recent memory.

The year end top ten rankings are as follows:

1 Romania Simona Halep 6,175
2 Spain Garbiñe Muguruza 6,135
3 Denmark Caroline Wozniacki 6,015
4 Czech Republic Karolína Plíšková 5,730
5 United States Venus Williams 5,597
6 Ukraine Elina Svitolina 5,500
7 Latvia Jeļena Ostapenko 5,010
8 France Caroline Garcia 4,420
9 United Kingdom Johanna Konta 3,610
10 United States Coco Vandeweghe 3,258

We now live in a world where players like Jelena Ostapenko, Johanna Konta and Colleen Vandeweghe are top ten players. Sad isn’t it?

We’re mere weeks away from play beginning in Australia. Pressure will be on Halep and Stephens(ranked #13). All of the top ten players will be under pressure of course but I think those two, more than any others, will be under the microscope. With Halep the draw is everything. At the US Open she was pretty much thrown under the bus. Since the Australians, Americans and Brits often walk in lock step it’ll be interesting to see if the same thing happens to her in Australia. Stephens will need a good draw too if she’s to make the second week at the very least.

Garbiñe Muguruza is ranked Number 2 in the world and just missed out on being year end Number One. Is she a great player? No. She’s just a more successful version of Sloane in terms of her attitude. Most players try and put their best foot forward for fans and media when they’re on court. Not our Garbiñe. If her opponent dares to pull her out of her comfort zone she pouts, curses and caves.

Karolína Plíšková wants it bad. She wants Number One. She wants Slams. She wants to be a superstar. More than any of the others she’s shown how much she does care and how far she’s willing to go to get what she wants. The sad thing about Plíšková is that with her physical limitations she’ll need a lot to break her way to achieve what she wants. She still can’t/doesn’t bend her knees. Her movement is horrendous. She has that huge serve and hits very good groundstrokes but if she’s taken out of her spot on the baseline she’s toast. She’s fired her old coach with an eye to making changes that will make take her to the next level. She is almost there. I just think that with her physical limitations she’s always going to be almost there. Then again…


So you’re Kathy Rinaldi. Somehow your team has made it to the Fed Cup Final. You bring four women with you to Minsk where a team from Belarus will challenge for the 2017 Federation Cup. You have two players who must be on the team: Colleen Vandeweghe and Sloane Stephens. Who will your other two players be because, let’s be blunt, your USO champion is in terrible form mentally and physically and you may have to replace her. If you have to replace her who would you use? Alison Riske, who is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, or Shelby Rogers who is a USTA favorite. A battered Venus Williams</strong is not available. Madison Keys, the USO runner up is resting her wrist in preparation for Australia. When the USO champion shows her current form is holding what do you do? Sit her and take a chance with Rogers or Riske or play your US Open champion and hope for the best knowing you’ll have to gut out the doubles if Team Belarus forces the doubles rubber to matter.

Some have commented that in the above celebratory picture it looks as if Vandeweghe is holding the Cup so no one else can touch it. She has every right to be doing just that. Without her team Belarus would be holding that Cup. She won that cup for her country. Shelby Rogers did her best but Vandeweghe was pulling her along. Riske didn’t play and Sloane stunk up the joint.

Being Fed Cup captain is a thankless job no matter how you look at it. It’s going to be interesting to see if the women from the Czech Republic can stop feuding long enough to win another Fed Cup in 2018. Will Rinaldi be able to build a stronger team around Vandeweghe? Will there be another team like Team Belarus in the Final next year? Again, this is the WTA so who knows?

End Notes

For all intents and purposes this year is over for women’s tennis. There are a couple of $125k tournaments coming up but for the main tour players this is a time for beaches, mountains, and reflection.

For me this year ends with more questions than answers. There is no dominant player. The tour itself has become more invisible instead of more visible. What was supposed to provide more visibility, WTA TV, has, from what I’ve been reading, been a flukey mess.

Is the WTA relying more on joint tournaments with the ATP than it should since that seems to be the only way they get good TV coverage? It’s sad in this day and age that the largest sport for women athletes launched a web only streaming service when every other major sport has an APP that works on several devices?
How embarrassing that when WTA TV launched many credit card companies identified it as a phishing scam and would not authorize payment? Shouldn’t an agreement been worked out with PayPal?
And lets not talk about a top player streaming the Fed Cup final using an illegal stream.
Did it make sense to invest so much time and effort (including bending its own rules) to bring back a convicted doper who as of now seems unable to compete without the crutch she’s used for most of her career?
Why is it that fans of women’s tennis rely on Wikipedia for information on the WTA because there is almost no information on the official WTA site?
Why is it that the official site had no information on the year end tournaments and fans had to scramble to find entry lists and draws? It’s true that many fans won’t go on sites based in certain countries but shouldn’t that make it more important for the official site to have that information?
Fans are using Live Ranking sites that have nothing to do with the WTA to get up to date information.
Will there be a women’s version of the successful Laver Cup?
Will the WTA do a better job at marketing ALL of its players and not just a chosen few? Doesn’t it matter that no one outside of tennis knows who any of the top ten players are excepting Venus Williams? I guess for the current leadership it doesn’t.

While all these questions remain the CEO did a “State of the WTA” year end presentation that addressed none of the above. Instead we got a mind numbingly boring presentation about – damned if I know. I’m really tired of writing depressing year end columns on the WTA but unless something changes I think I’ll be writing the same kind of post next year. These women work hard and play to the best of their abilities during a long, grueling season. They deserve better than the half steps being put forth by the WTA.

©2017 Savannah’s World Tennis All rights reserved except where indicated






Somewhat Idle Chit Chat

by Savannah

The WTA will crown a new #1 player on Monday, the fifth top player of this year. Let’s look at the previous four women before we talk about the newest number one.

Serena Williams started out the year ranked in her customary number one position. She of course hasn’t played since the Australian Open due to one Little Miss Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.

Angelique Kerber found herself ranked number one on May 15 after Serena went on maternity leave. She won two Slams in 2016 but had not shown much this year.

Karolina Pliskova took the top spot from Kerber on July 17 and held on to the top spot until September 10.

Garbiñe Muguruza‘s reign began September 11 and ends today, October 8.

Simona Halep‘s time as WTA #1 begins Monday, October 9.

To be fair to Halep the grumbling about Slamless WTA Number One’s began when Pliskova reached the top spot. Was she the best player? Not by a long shot. Did she bring excitement to the sport? That depends on how you feel about laid back personalities and since that is a matter of taste there is no need to dwell on her on court persona. It is fair to look at her game though. She can hit powerful ground strokes and if given the chance she can overpower an opponent especially when she can move around on her own terms. To say that she is not a good mover is putting it mildly. She also seems unable to bend her knees. If an opponent keeps the ball low and places it where she has to run to get it she stands a good chance of frustrating her and beating her. Fans argued about whether she deserved to be number one as fans will do these days. She won three titles in 2017: Brisbane, Qatar, and Eastbourne. The argument raged about her less than stellar game and lack of big wins at majors.

Muguruza was hailed as the best player of them all. She is a decent mover and won a Slam this year. Essays were being written about how she would dominate women’s tennis for years to come. And yet there were the inevitable “issues”. Her temperament on court when she was put under pressure left a lot to be desired. Winning matches isn’t about your opponent letting you win because you’re you. She’s there to win and in order to do that she’s going to do everything she can to stop you from winning. When this would happen Mugu seemed to be taken by surprise and in the end she was just as likely to raise the level of her game as to pout her way to a loss. Not exactly the behavior you expect from a number one ranked player.

While Muguruza and Pliskova were going through their changes Simona Halep was waiting in the wings. She had more than one chance to take over the top spot but always seemed to fall just short. The problem with Halep, as I’ve said here before, is that she simply doesn’t handle pressure well. Her French Open loss is embedded in my mind. She literally slumped her shoulders and hung her head while meekly surrendering to her opponent, Aljona (Jelena) Ostapenko. Yet somehow she was still in the running for the top spot. As of tomorrow she will be the WTA #1. As of tomorrow she has won exactly one title this year. It has to be mentioned that she got enough points to become number one during her semifinal match at Beijing. She promptly lost the Final.

I’ve been arguing for years that the WTA has to find a way to use some version of quality points again. Simona is a good player. She’s not a great player. You can argue that she’s not a number one player and wouldn’t be except for the fact that the WTA’s ranking system allows a player to get to the top spot by accumulating enough points.. I’m aware of the problems with using quality points but a player shouldn’t be able to simply pile up  points over a season and become number one.

To make matters worse there is an outside chance Elina Svitolina can become the top player without even getting near a Slam final.

I don’t dislike any of the women who are competing for the top spot. It’s obvious they’re doing the best they can and being rewarded very well for it. Is it too much to ask that a top player be able to play top level tennis both mentally and physically? That a top player doesn’t need her hand held by a coach or family member to make it through a match? That skill, and not attitude, is the measure of a top player?

I said a few years ago that when the older generation (not just Serena Williams and Venus Williams) leave the stage the WTA would be in trouble. I just didn’t hink it would happen so soon. It’s no accident that older players are coming out of retirement now. If I can see the drop in the level of tennis being played surely ex pros can see it and say “why not?”

The ATP is going to be facing the same problem in two or three years. It doesn’t look like it yet because the older players are still able to compete at a high level and their fandoms still dominate the conversation. When they leave the stage the generation right behind them is not going to play the same high quality tennis ATP fans have become used to. The generation behind those men, barring injury or off court issues, seems poised to step into the large footprints the current leaders are leaving and right over the players who should be next in line. The only hindrance will be how quickly they mature mentally.

End Notes

The WTA has gone out of its way to pretend that a player returning from a doping suspension was away on a break. I think that those chickens are going to come home to roost soon. If a player admits to doping for ten years prior to her suspension how are her records against players valid? Some fans are already raising the issue in regards to Simona Halep’s record against her. Yes it would’ve been messy to take all her titles away. Yes it would’ve been messy to take her winnings away. But would you rather that or the situation that exists now where those impressive H2H’s are going to be questioned and believed to be invalid?

The fall out from the Laver Cup continues. Was it a “real tournament” and not simply an “exhibition”? Since it’s second installment will take place in Chicago in 2018 who will the players be?

It’s not too soon to ask how has the Laver Cup affected the Davis Cup is it? If the top players can make time in their schedules for the Laver Cup why can’t they play for their countries during Davis Cup?

The WTA hasn’t said a word about whether it will or won’t stage its own event or piggy back on the Laver Cup’s already established drawing power. I don’t think any of the current to WTA players has the drawing power of the top ATP players so any similar event would be problematic in terms of sponsorships if it’s not paired with a men’s event. If the WTA did a better job of promoting the SPORT of women’s tennis and not individual personalities there’s a chance the WTA would be able to pull off it’s own version of the highly successful concept.

Speaking of Davis Cup and Fed Cup Spain’s RFET fired Conchita Martinez who was acting as captain of both teams. Sergei Brugera and Anabel Medina Garrigues were announced as her replacements.

Things are going to be very interesting in Sloane Stephens camp the next few weeks. I didn’t see her play in Asia but fans were visibly surprised at her physical condition. I’m not sure why they weren’t surprised at her physical condition at the US Open but since she managed to win I guess the discussion was deferred. With her reputation of being lazy and undisciplined the US Open comms made it clear that coach Kamau Murray would not stay around if she reverted to her old habits. She’s arrogant enough to think that she doesn’t have to do any more because she’ll always be a Slam winner. That’s what I mean about being a tennis great and being great for tennis has more to do with pride in yourself and the sport that is paying you than having an attitude.

We’ll see about Ms Stephens won’t we?

I haven’t done a year end summary of the two players I picked as up and comers for this year. Sadly, I barely remember who I picked. I know the young woman was Louisa Chirico. I’ve seen her name around but she has had an off year.

I think I picked one of the young US men, probably Taylor Fritz. He’s doing okay for a US player his Federation is pushing.

As for next year I haven’t seen anyone tennis hasn’t already seized on as an up and comer to watch. As a result I’m thinking of changing my criteria a bit and picking someone who has already gotten themselves on everyone’s radar and seeing how they perform next year, how they handle the pressure. If that is my final decision I I’ll let you know just before play begins in Australia at the end of December.

©2017 Savannahs World All rights reserved

This and That

The Weekend That Was

I only saw enough of the Laver Cup to know that the broadcast was in true HD, crystal clear and the viewer felt as though they were right there in the arena.

The black court looked gray but it had the desired effect. The players kits – Team Europe in blue and Team World in red – popped on the neutral background. The camera angles were out of this world. Maybe it’s time for the Slams, M1000, WTA PM and P5 events to look at installing netcams? It added a completely new dimension for the fans watching from home.

Usually exhibitions like this are tightly choreographed ahead of time and I didn’t think this would be any different but some tennisheads have pointed out to me that if that was the case why didn’t Tomas Berdych, playing in front of his home crowd, win anything? Some also talked about Nick Kyrgios being close to tears after his loss in the final match. There was no way Roger Federer was not going to win that final match and if Kyrgios had won, perhaps I’d back off my opinion about exhibitions.

What seems to have impressed many viewers was the camaraderie between the teams and that Team World (essentially team USA) despite being the obvious underdogs still supported each other emotionally. I wasn’t surprised about Rafael Nadal‘s reactions the way some seem to have been. He’s always there for team mates. That people were surprised may be a reflection of his not having played Davis Cup in awhile.

That said the Laver Cup creates some interesting challenges for professional tennis. I’m hearing the ATP had little to do with the event and that the exo a vanity project of Roger Federer’s. I don’t know since I wasn’t paying attention because of how I feel about exhibitions. In my opinion, the netcam is only one thing both the WTA and ATP have to look at. The ATP is in perfect position to adopt the broadcast standards of Laver Cup. I wouldn’t be surprised if at the Masters 1000 events we see netcams. The issue will be cost but the ATP is all for innovation.

Fans are also asking if the WTA will create it’s own version of the Laver Cup. At the same time they’re also talking about the things that could make that difficult. Let’s start with the disastrous roll out of WTATV, something I still won’t subscribe to because there is no guarantee my information is secure. There is no reason to think the WTA will be able to pull something like this together even if the roll out was scheduled for 2019.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks would be who the event would be named for? Rod Laver is an icon for most of the ATP but among the women you have Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Stefanie Graf, Monica Seles, Kim Clijsters to name just some of the past stars.

Where the event would be held is the next issue. Laver Cup 2018 has already been announced for Chicago, Illinois. Where would you hold the WTA event? Hopefully it wouldn’t be in an out of the way place difficult for fans to see or go to. Manchester in England? South Africa? Buenos Aires? Denver, Colorado? Austin, Texas?

Who would the sponsor be? We’ve seen what type of product the sponsors of Laver Cup were able to roll out. You don’t want to roll out a product that doesn’t at least equal what we just saw.

All of that has to be settled before you can even start choosing teams and captains. I would hope that team world for the WTA would be more representative of the world of tennis and not just a United States and Canada all star team.

It can be done. I don’t think the WTA could get it together for 2018. I’d like to be proven wrong.

End Notes

It’s interesting to me that all of a sudden people are noticing Sloane Stephens is not fit. It’s been obvious since her return that she was carrying a few extra pounds around the waist. Sloane has always liked the skin tight fit of Under Armour kits and all of a sudden she was wearing house coats.

The Asian swing is very important for both Stephens and Madison Keys to prove they’re ready to take their place as permanent threats at the top of women’s tennis. All of the PR in the world won’t matter if you’re losing first round. They’re not at the level of the Williams sisters where they can pick and chose where to show up. There’s talk of them both taking the rest of the year off. That would mean that they would show up for the YEC if they qualify and then the run up to the Australian Open. Not a good strategy in my opinion.

Bernard Tomic is playing qualies now. Maybe Tennis Australia has finally washed their hands of him.

Alexander Zverev is leading the charge of the Next Gen players. I don’t think he’ll play in Milan but that event looks like it’s going to be an exhibition featuring some experimental technology more than a true competition anyway.

Karolina Pliskova says she fired her long time coach because their visions of her game differed too much. As I type this she still hasn’t named a new coach. Ii hope she doesn’t think that someone can turn her into a great mover.

It’s good to see Vera Zvonareva making her way back to the main tour.

©2017 Savannahs World All Rights Reserved

The Rear View Mirror: 2017 US Open

by Savannah
Lots to say about this Slam. I think it set a precedent for starting the most misleading narratives about players ever. These misleading narratives started when the USTA, as was expected by me anyway, gave a returning doper pride of place. It was bad enough that they gave her a Wild Card. The USTA, never knowing when enough is enough, went on to schedule her return from doping for Opening Night knowing that there are fans who have a tradition of attending opening night ceremonies and that Ashe would be pretty full no matter what. Of course this was spun as fans dying to see her return by tennis media. If you have never attended the US Open you’d probably fall for the spin. Far more telling were the subsequent matches where fans behaved as they usually do during Week 1 and spend their time on the “outer courts” instead of in the cavernous and unfriendly confines of Ashe.

That leads me to the Women’s Singles Champion Sloane Stephens. Like her or not she does have talent. By the time she went out with injury she’d had a parade of coaches and you didn’t have to be an inside tennis person to realize that coaches didn’t want to work with her. During one of her matches the comms talked about her having the reputation of being “lazy”. The woman who was told as a child she’d never play top level tennis is the one holding the winners trophy. Did she achieve this in a vacuum? Nope. All credit is due Kamau Murray who told her point blank he was not there for her bullshit. Either she behaved as a professional or he was gone. That was why she hugged him so hard after the match. I wonder how Taylor Townsend felt at that moment? And I wonder if Sloane will decide that she’s good enough not to need him. I’m sure he’ll make sure the door doesn’t hit her on the way out if she does. People will be flocking to him now. I hope someone in her circle tells her that all top players have coaches, that no one goes it alone. You can have all the talent in the world but if it’s not being used properly it’s as if you don’t have any.

Of course Sloane was not the one the USTA was geared up to celebrate. They felt that Madison Keys would be the one holding up the trophy. I guess they haven’t been paying attention to Ms Keys and her ways. Whenever Madison gets broken she falls apart. She has absolutely no Plan B and she begins to hit harder and as a result sprays errors all over the place. Also remember while Sloane was out injured she was in the commentary booth and got a chance to observe a lot of players. Her dismantling of Keys showed that under the right supervision she can follow a game plan and defeat an opponent. Still, let’s not call her the new queen of women’s tennis just yet. A lot depends on whether she stays with Mr. Murray and follows his rules. The Asian Swing is also going to be telling. She needs, no must, do well there to be taken seriously as a top player.

Then there was the kerfuffle about Andy Murray‘s withdrawal due to a chronic hip injury that may keep him out the rest of the year. People assumed that with the withdrawal of the man seeded second in the draw all of the seeds would move up a place with the number three seed becoming the number two seed, number four becoming three, etc. Instead they decided to use a formula that shuffled the seeds but left the top half of the draw intact. Sturm und drang ensued. I can say I have never seen such an outpouring of anger about a draw in all the years I’ve been seriously following tennis. To say fans of the number three seeded player were up in arms is an understatement. They accused Andy Murray of waiting until the last minute on purpose to help his friend who was seeded number one. They accused the tennis powers that be of conspiring against their favorite. Fortunately none of that worked. Unfortunately they began talking about the top seed not facing any member of the top four on his way to the Championship. Of course they conveniently forgot the “Murderer’s Row” their favorite faced in London earlier this year where he didn’t face a member of the “Big Four” or any player who could hurt him. They also forgot that they argued vehemently that their favorite should inherit the draw that once belonged to Andy Murray. If they had had their way and number three became number two I think the argument about not facing a top player wouldn’t even be being made. That members of the “impartial” media are making this argument tells you all there is to know about the incestuous nature of tennis journalism.

Was there good news from the final Grand Slam of 2017? Why yes there was. It looks as if tennis greatness is going to skip a generation. Alexander Zverev (20). Andrey Rublev (19). Denis Shapovalov (18). Frances Tiafoe (19). These are the young men fans wanted to see at Flushing Meadows. And let’s not forget thirteen year old Cori Gauff. Or Junior Boys champion Wu Yibing. What about boys runner up Axel Geller who plays a very free wheeling loose style similar to Shapovolov? Gauff is the only girl I saw who is playing a different style from all the pony tailed blondes. Naomi Osaka (19) is also a Next Gen prospect. Osaka has what I call “quiet power”.

All of these young people need work especially on the mental aspect of the game. There is no excuse for sloppy or non existent foot work. There is no excuse for not being able to adjust to what your opponent is throwing at you. You shouldn’t get broken and have as your only option to hit harder and harder.

Is there going to be a lull? I think so. The rankings on the women’s side are like a merry-go-round and are not based on results but on number of points a player has attained. When your top ranked player doesn’t make it to the second week of a Slam after having won one earlier in the summer something is wrong. But that’s another post for another day.

I give this tournament an A- . Yes they stood up to an irate fandom but they get points taken away for reaching the level of track and field where a twice suspended doper is being praised. I was going with a B+ but that would distract from what the men and women, boys and girls, achieved over the last two weeks.

End Notes

I didn’t make it to the Qualifying Tournament this year but I was on the grounds Opening Day and the following Wednesday.

There were the usual snafu’s getting in this year. I think they were compounded by the use of E-ticketing. On Day One if you had a paper ticket you could breeze on through.

The biggest shock was the absence of the Nike kiosk. It was replaced by a Mercedes Benz set up that allowed people to sit behind the wheel and enter a contest I presume. I don’t drive so I could care less. I did care that the only merchandise for sale was for the USTA/US Open. Frankly it sucked. Usually I treat myself to some obscenely priced Nike shirt and one less expensive US Open shirt for the current year. I don’t know what issues caused Nike not to be given the center space it usually occupies but I hope they’re back next year. There are lots of us willing to pay $35 for a hit featuring our fave. There was an Adidas store but I didn’t get a chance to check their merchandise out.

By next year the new BJK NTC footprint should be ready. That would mean the temporary Armstrong Stadium, which was really the old Grandstand, will be gone. The bad part about the temporary stadium was that it was right next to the East Gate. There were good matches scheduled there but if I’m on Court 7 I’m not going to walk all the way to Armstrong and then back to the other courts for more action. If I’m in Armstrong my next stop is the LIRR.

The grounds were much more crowded this year than last year. Keep in mind people bought their tickets in the spring so the surge in attendance had nothing to do with any particular player. The outer courts were jam packed while the bigger courts – the new Grandstand, and the horrific Court 17, were mostly empty. The match where Johanna Konta lost to Aleksandra Krunic was on the Grandstand. Where I was sitting in Court 7 watching Denis Shapovolov you could see into the Grandstand. It as virtually empty. Tiny Court 7 was full. People were willing to stand to watch the kid play. That scheduling shows how out of touch some in the establishment are.

Food? It was as per usual. Expensive. I got my double cheeseburger from David Chang’s “Momofuku” and totally enjoyed it. I also had a steak sandwich from Pat LaFrieda. Delish.

The biggest hit with me was the Chase Center. You got a baseball hat, light refreshments including beer and wine and large screen televisions in a comfortably air conditioned environment. Chase also offered a “charge and watch” thingy which didn’t work.

The American Express center was a huge disappointment. Other than a wrist band and a small gift there was nothing there for fans.

There were also lots of “Fan Pass” centers around the grounds which if you collected enough you got prizes.

If i had to grade the BJK NTC itself in terms of scheduling, crowd control, and amenities I have to give it a B.

I hope to be back next year to see the completed site.

© 2017 Savannah World All Rights Reserved

It’s Happened

by Savannah

The US tennis establishment is crowing about four US women making it to the quarter finals of the 2017 US Open. Venus Williams, Madison Keys, Colleen Vandeweghe and Sloane Stephens will be facing four women from Europe. It’s a wonderful moment right? Does it vindicate the approach the USTA has made regarding it’s women players? Have US women finally proved themselves deserving of the respect that has eluded them (with two exceptions) for years now?

Short answer: No.

The level of play among the women has been steadily falling over the last five years or so. There is no variety. Achieving the top ranking has become a matter of point counting and not level of tennis. Being number one used to mean you were the best at that moment in time. Not today. The women who have won Slams (Venus Williams and Petra Kvitova) are not contending for the top spot.

As is often said you can only play whoever is across the net from you. When that becomes the rationale for not only Slamless number one’s but for asserting a resurgence in your tennis program that is nothing to celebrate.

By all means celebrate the fact that four US women are contending for the Final. Just don’t make it seem as if it’s a renaissance.

©2017 Savannahs World Tennis All rights reserved

This And That: 2017 US Open

by Savannah

For shame.

It’s bad enough the US Open, already considered by many fans deserving of the title of Worst Slam gave a wild card into the Main Draw for a returning Doper. Not satisfied with that they decided to insert her cheating butt right into the race for Number One. If I’m Simona Halep or Darren Cahill I’m under sedation right now. Why? Simona does not do well against the woman she’ll play in Round One. Their head to head is six to nothing in her opponents favor. It’s not just that Halep can’t figure her out. She seems intimidated and plays like an ITF player against her feeding her balls she can easily return for winners. It’s just not fair. But then again the US Open isn’t known for playing fair. Just ask Juan Carlos Ferrero about how he was screwed out of a chance to compete fairly for the US Open title back in the day. Don’t believe the bull that’s being circulated about Halep having a chance because now the doper is off her meds and she probably can’t outlast her. Did I say it loud enough? Bull. Shit.

What’s worse is that if Halep loses, and there’s no reason to think she won’t, she’ll be taken right out of the Race for the Top. If you had to give her a wild card don’t insert her into the race for Number One. The casual fan will only know that she beat the Number Two player in the world no matter what happens after that.

For shame USTA. For shame.

On the men’s side we’ve got one half of the draw that’s pretty tough while the other half of the draw is pretty soft. Again the USTA is being blatant in it’s preferences.

There’s nothing more to say about it.

The Future Is Now

I saw a poll on a fan site asking if the WTA should introduce a Next Gen end of year tournament similar to what the ATP is doing with its Milan event later this year.

It sounds like a great idea until you realize that the WTA is the tour that put out a half done and poorly designed web site that got rid of all the things fans come to sports websites for. Want to know what Chris Evert’s head to head vs Evonne Goolagong was? Better check Wikipedia. They then followed up with a launch of WTA TV. Keep in mind they were supposed to introduce their streaming service last year. Regular readers know what’s coming. I’m always dragging the WTA some will say. Well what should I say about launching a site that credit card companies flagged as a phishing site? A site that can only archive matches for three days? A site that has no presence on devices like AppleTV, Roku or Chromecast? A site that won’t offer fans the option of using PayPal when subscribing? After at least a year?

The WTA notified the ATP that it was leaving their shared platform in the spring of last year but fans knew nothing about that until the ATP announced it was relaunching the site as ATP TennisTV instead of TennisTV. It took the WTA a year to introduce it’s less than state of the art site. And some fans want it to start a new tournament for the top players of the next generation? The ATP started talking about Milan at least a year and a half ago. The introductory ad campaign was slick and professional. The men who are considered the best of the up and comers have had many chances to introduce themselves to fans and if you watch tennis on television the ad campaign has started up again. By this time fans know the players personalities and know what to expect when seeing them play.

If you want to know how bad the WTA is at promoting it’s own product one knowledgeable fan when plugging the names of the Lucky Losers/Qualifers into the WTA draw lamented that he had no idea who any of them are. And this is someone who follows the sport fairly closely. That isn’t the players fault. It’s the fault of their association.

The other thing about next generation in the WTA. I hate to say this but they all look alike and play alike (with some exceptions). They also all need their hands held to make it through a match. The other day I watched a match where the coach of a fairly established moderately successful player was screaming her to look at him while he was talking to her just like a parent does with a recalcitrant child. I don’t think that’s the look women’s professional tennis wants to project. Then again there’s the situation with that returning doper…

The US Open Series

I’ve always defended the concept of the Series. Hard court tournaments for men and women that begin at the end of grass season and take you right up to the beginning of the US Open. The idea was to offer large enough purses to make the tournaments attractive enough to the Europeans and cause them to cross the pond earlier than they usually would so fans and potential fans would get to see the best players. It hasn’t worked out that way.

After the USTA worked hard to diminish the European red clay season and even to eliminate one of the most treasured tournaments any chance of luring the big names was gone. The top men and women come for the events in Canada and Cincinnati. After that they head to New York to prepare for the Slam that closes out the US hardcourt season. Fans in the US are then left watching the best the US has to offer. That’s okay if you’re fiending for tennis and it’s all you can get but many of these tournaments struggle to make a profit.

On top of that there is no longer a sponsor for the Series. Should it still be called the US Open Series if there is no longer a fat paycheck awaiting the winner when it ends? Why not? At least fans in the US are getting a chance to see US talent and measure their potential. Have I seen enough of some players? Yes. But I also got to see a young college player named Christopher Eubanks who was given a Wild Card into the US Open Main Draw. That’s what this Series should be sold as in my opinion.

The Draws

I’m sure by now everyone who wants to has seen the draws. In case you haven’t here they are. I hope to check back in with a progress report after Week One. I didn’t get to the Qualification Tournament for the first time in a long time so I don’t any thing to report.

ATP Singles Main Draw


R. Nadal (ESP) [1] vs D. Lajovic (SRB)
T. Daniel (JPN) vs WC T. Paul (USA)
Y. Sugita (JPN) vs WC G. Blancaneaux (FRA)
Qualifier vs R. Gasquet (FRA) [26]

F. Fognini (ITA) [22] vs Qualifier
V. Troicki (SRB) vs N. Gombos (SVK)
J. Struff (GER) vs A. Dolgopolov (UKR)
R. Harrison (USA) vs T. Berdych (CZE) [15]

D. Goffin (BEL) [9] vs J. Benneteau (FRA)
S. Darcis (BEL) vs G. Pella (ARG)
Qualifier vs D. Young (USA)
J. Chardy (FRA) vs G. Monfils (FRA) [18]

P. Cuevas (URU) [27] vs D. Dzumhur (BIH)
Qualifier vs N. Kicker (ARG)
A. Bedene (GBR) vs A. Rublev (RUS)
Qualifier vs G. Dimitrov (BUL) [7]

R. Federer (SUI) [3] vs F. Tiafoe (USA)
B. Kavcic (SLO) vs M. Youzhny (RUS)
F. Verdasco (ESP) vs V. Pospisil (CAN)
A. Kuznetsov (RUS) vs F. Lopez (ESP) [31]

S. Querrey (USA) [17] vs Qualifier
Qualifier vs S. Giraldo (COL)
M. Jaziri (TUN) vs T. Monteiro (BRA)
J. Millman (AUS) vs N. Kyrgios (AUS) [14]

R. Bautista Agut (ESP) [11] vs A. Seppi (ITA)
D. Brown (GER) vs T. Bellucci (BRA)
WC P. Kypson (USA) vs Qualifier
H. Laaksonen (SUI) vs J. del Potro (ARG) [24]

A. Mannarino (FRA) [30] vs R. Berankis (LTU)
WC B. Fratangelo (USA) vs I. Karlovic (CRO)
M. Baghdatis (CYP) vs WC T. Fritz (USA)
WC A. de Minaur (AUS) vs D. Thiem (AUT) [6]

Bottom Half

M. Cilic (CRO) [5] vs G. Simon (FRA)
WC C. Eubanks (USA) vs D. Sela (ISR)
Qualifier vs E. Escobedo (USA)
Y. Lu (TPE) vs K. Khachanov (RUS) [25]

M. Zverev (GER) [23] vs WC T. Kwiatkowski (USA)
P. Kohlschreiber (GER) vs B. Paire (FRA)
H. Zeballos (ARG) vs H. Chung (KOR)
P. Herbert (FRA) vs J. Isner (USA) [10]

J. Sock (USA) [13] vs J. Thompson (AUS)
Qualifier vs T. Fabbiano (ITA)
J. Sousa (POR) vs P. Lorenzi (ITA)
B. Tomic (AUS) vs G. Muller (LUX) [19]

K. Anderson (RSA) [28] vs Qualifier
A. Giannessi (ITA) vs E. Gulbis (LAT)
J. Vesely (CZE) vs B. Coric (CRO)
Qualifier vs A. Zverev (GER) [4]

J. Tsonga (FRA) [8] vs M. Copil (ROU)
Qualifier vs D. Medvedev (RUS)
N. Almagro (ESP) vs S. Johnson (USA)
K. Edmund (GBR) vs R. Haase (NED) [32]

A. Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) [20] vs D. Istomin (UZB)
M. Fucsovics (HUN) vs Qualifier
D. Tursunov (RUS) vs Qualifier
Qualifier vs P. Carreno Busta (ESP) [12]

L. Pouille (FRA) [16] vs R. Bemelmans (BEL)
J. Donaldson (USA) vs N. Basilashvili (GEO)
A. Haider-Maurer (AUT) vs E. Donskoy (RUS)
Qualifier vs D. Ferrer (ESP) [21]

D. Schwartzman (ARG) [29] vs C. Berlocq (ARG)
T. Kokkinakis (AUS) vs J. Tipsarevic (SRB)
R. Dutra Silva (BRA) vs F. Mayer (GER)
T. Sandgren (USA) vs A. Murray (GBR) [2]

WTA Singles Main Draw

Top Half

Ka. Pliskova (CZE) [1] vs M. Linette (POL)
V. Cepede Royg (PAR) vs Qualifier
R. Ozaki (JPN) vs Qualifier
S. Lisicki (GER) vs S. Zhang (CHN) [27]

B. Strycova (CZE) [23] vs M. Doi (JPN)
J. Brady (USA) vs A. Petkovic (GER)
WC T. Townsend (USA) vs A. Bogdan (ROU)
M. Niculescu (ROU) vs K. Mladenovic (FRA) [14]

A. Radwanska (POL) [10] vs P. Martic (CRO)
Qualifier vs Y. Putintseva (KAZ)
O. Jabeur (TUN) vs WC B. Minor (USA)
A. Riske (USA) vs C. Vandeweghe (USA) [20]

A. Kontaveit (EST) [26] vs L. Safarova (CZE)
N. Hibino (JPN) vs C. Bellis (USA)
K. Nara (JPN) vs S. Sorribes Tormo (ESP)
M. Vondrousova (CZE) vs S. Kuznetsova (RUS) [8]

E. Svitolina (UKR) [4] vs K. Siniakova (CZE)
E. Rodina (RUS) vs E. Bouchard (CAN)
S. Rogers (USA) vs WC K. Day (USA)
Qualifier vs D. Gavrilova (AUS) [25]

E. Vesnina (RUS) [17] vs Qualifier
M. Brengle (USA) vs K. Flipkens (BEL)
T. Maria (GER) vs WC A. Kratzer (USA)
E. Mertens (BEL) vs M. Keys (USA) [15]

J. Ostapenko (LAT) [12] vs L. Arruabarrena (ESP)
Qualifier vs S. Cirstea (ROU)
D. Kasatkina (RUS) vs Q. Wang (CHN)
C. McHale (USA) vs A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) [19]

L. Tsurenko (UKR) [28] vs Y. Wickmayer (BEL)
Qualifier vs F. Schiavone (ITA)
D. Allertova (CZE) vs Qualifier
N. Osaka (JPN) vs A. Kerber (GER) [6]

Bottom Half

C. Wozniacki (DEN) [5] vs Qualifier
M. Barthel (GER) vs E. Makarova (RUS)
Qualifier vs C. Suárez Navarro (ESP)
M. Puig (PUR) vs M. Lucic-Baroni (CRO) [29]

K. Bertens (NED) [24] vs M. Sakkari (GRE)
R. Hogenkamp (NED) vs WC Ar. Rodionova (AUS)
P. Parmentier (FRA) vs O. Dodin (FRA)
Qualifier vs V. Williams (USA) [9]

P. Kvitova (CZE) [13] vs J. Jankovic (SRB)
H. Watson (GBR) vs A. Cornet (FRA)
Qualifier vs E. Alexandrova (RUS)
Qualifier vs C. Garcia (FRA) [18]

M. Rybarikova (SVK) [31] vs C. Giorgi (ITA)
Kr. Pliskova (CZE) vs M. Eguchi (JPN)
Qualifier vs Y. Duan (CHN)
V. Lepchenko (USA) vs G. Muguruza (ESP) [3]

J. Konta (GBR) [7] vs A. Krunic (SRB)
A. Tomljanovic (CRO) vs J. Larsson (SWE)
S. Zheng (CHN) vs A. Van Uytvanck (BEL)
A. Beck (GER) vs J. Goerges (GER) [30]

A. Konjuh (CRO) [21] vs A. Barty (AUS)
A. Sasnovich (BLR) vs J. Boserup (USA)
S. Stephens (USA) vs R. Vinci (ITA)
J. Cepelova (SVK) vs D. Cibulkova (SVK) [11]

A. Sevastova (LAT) [16] vs C. Witthoeft (GER)
I. Begu (ROU) vs Qualifier
D. Vekic (CRO) vs B. Haddad Maia (BRA)
WC A. Hesse (FRA) vs S. Peng (CHN) [22]

L. Davis (USA) [32] vs S. Kenin (USA)
N. Vikhlyantseva (RUS) vs Qualifier
V. Golubic (SUI) vs T. Babos (HUN)
WC M. Sharapova (RUS) vs S. Halep (ROU) [2]

The Rear View Mirror: Wimbledon 2017

by Savannah

There’s no getting around it. This Wimbledon sucked. There was no “must see” singles match although some are arguing that Gilles Muller vs Rafael Nadal was one I get the feeling those people were rooting for Nadal to be beaten before the semi finals anyway. When Muller lost next round there was no great outpouring of sympathy towards him from those who had been cheering him during his last match. The one riveting match was a men’s doubles match.

Andy Murray‘s refusal to retire even though he was visibly struggling is to be commended. It showed that he respects the sport and his place in it. Still, his remarks defending women’s tennis – read Serena Williams and Venus Williams – drew more comment from the tennis writers who think tennis is the ATP and that the WTA is a side show. That new WTA CEO Steve Simon is working hard to make women’s tennis invisible it is still a major part of tennis with millions of fans, fans who are upset that the only way to see women’s tennis on an ongoing basis is at a Slam. Mixed events don’t count since the WTA has it’s own contract with Premier/BeIn sports which makes it impossible to see female athletes playing on a regular basis.

But enough of that. Why was this Wimbledon disappointing? There was just nothing to hold a casual fans attention. How many casual fans have heard of Garbiñe Muguruza? If you don’t know why see the above paragraph. As I predicted someone out of left field won the tournament. Muguruza has done squat since winning the French Open but as usual, when a Williams is across the net the mentally dead suddenly remember how to play tennis. Venus did not claim injury, fatigue, or age, as a reason for her loss despite the “journalists” trying to get her to do so. Minus that they had to fall back on praising the winner although there isn’t much there to praise. They tried to create some drama around her coach Sam Sumyk not being there but it leaked out that his wife was going into labor and he stayed home to be with her. Some even went so far as to say Conchita Martinez should take over as her coach forgetting Martinez already had Fed Cup and Davis Cup on her plate. To her credit Muguruza said she spoke with her coach every day so the Conchita boomlet faded away. I don’t think anyone would be surprised if she fades back into the pack. Hey remember Aljona Ostapenko?

As for the men’s winner I really, truly, have no words. Let’s look at what he’s done so far this year. He got an extra day’s rest in Melbourne that no other player got. Along the way he admitted to taking an unneeded medical time out. For no reason whatsoever other than that he knew he wouldn’t win the Slam he skipped clay season. After losing to Haas in a Wimbledon warm up he then strolled into Wimbledon as #4 in ranking but seeded third ahead of the #2 player. His draw? I think Cilic was the highest seed he faced and he, unfortunately, couldn’t compete in the Final due to an injury that had him in excruciating pain through most of it. The tennis media reacted as if he’d faced murderer’s row and the paeans rolled off the presses. No mention that of all the players he was the one who had the freshest legs and the cup cake draw.

The one good thing that happened is that other fandoms have had enough and are pushing back against the people who think if you admire someone else somehow you’re a lesser being and don’t recognize someone they see as royalty. I saw less of the usual gloating from fans who react like prepubescent girls in front of the latest hot movie star when it comes to their faves.

The rankings? Numbers 3 & 4 on the ATP side switched places. Karolína Plíšková became the WTA’s newest slamless number one with fewer points and fewer accomplishments than any of the previous slamless #1’s for the WTA. I will throw in a worse game as well. Some have tried but there is no way this woman can be considered among the greats of the game. She’s in the top spot due to the number of points she has now. Simona Halep, who I once thought had Slam potential is a few points behind Plíšková and it’s likely the two will alternate at the top of the rankings for the summer. I don’t think either one has Slam potential. To be hones I think Kristina Mladenovic has a better chance than either Halep or Plíšková.

Where do we go from here? With both Murray and Novak Djokovic injured some interesting things can happen on the men’s side. We may not see either man before Cincinnati. The women will continue to toil in virtual anonymity and before small crowds until the US Open when they’ll be visible again for many fans. Halep and Plíšková rotating as number one is not all that interesting to me. Still I think it’ll be Plíšková who will hold the number one ranking come US Open time and dshe still won’t win it. Someone else will come out of the blue and take that title. And no it won’t be that doper who will get a WC into the main draw.


Men’s Singles
Switzerland Roger Federer
Women’s Singles
Spain Garbiñe Muguruza
Men’s Doubles
Poland Łukasz Kubot / Brazil Marcelo Melo
Women’s Doubles
Russia Ekaterina Makarova / Russia Elena Vesnina
Mixed Doubles
United Kingdom Jamie Murray / Switzerland Martina Hingis
Boys’ Singles
Spain Alejandro Davidovich Fokina
Girls’ Singles
United States Claire Liu
Boys’ Doubles
Argentina Axel Geller / Chinese Taipei Hsu Yu-hsiou
Girls’ Doubles
Serbia Olga Danilović / Slovenia Kaja Juvan
Gentlemen’s Invitation Doubles
Australia Lleyton Hewitt / Australia Mark Philippoussis
Ladies’ Invitation Doubles
Zimbabwe Cara Black / United States Martina Navratilova
Senior Gentlemen’s Invitation Doubles
Netherlands Jacco Eltingh / Netherlands Paul Haarhuis
Wheelchair Men’s Singles
Sweden Stefan Olsson
Wheelchair Women’s Singles
Netherlands Diede de Groot
Wheelchair Men’s Doubles
United Kingdom Alfie Hewett / United Kingdom Gordon Reid
Wheelchair Women’s Doubles
Japan Yui Kamiji / United Kingdom Jordanne Whiley

©2017 Savannah’s World All Rights Reserved

Pausing For Breath – Middle Sunday

by Savannah

For some esoteric reason known only to the AELTC elite, there is a break in play on this day, Middle Sunday, during Wimbedon. Is it time to let it go as an anachronism? Player’s today are fitter than they were in the past when exertion was a man or woman lumbering to the net for a return volley after sipping a Pimms. Most of today’s players spend the day practicing anyway so it’s only the fans who claw at the walls and experience existential angst (not to be confused with teenage angst) while waiting for play to resume on what’s billed as Manic Monday. Everyone plays. It’s a fun day. But that doesn’t make up for today where tennis fans have to find mental and physical busy work until play resumes.

Speaking of anachronisms let’s talk about grass courts and their place in the world of modern tennis. Yes it’s traditional, the first surface, but with today’s highly physical game it’s becoming something of a liability. Players have been slipping and falling regularly during the first week, enough so that even tennis commentators who are usually spouting inanities have begun to talk about it. Many players could look at what happened to Bethanie Mattek Sands and think “There but for the grace of God…” Yes she’s injured and had surgery on that knee before but what will it take for the AELTC to try and do something about it?

Ironically some are calling for a return to the faster courts of the past. I mean really? The racquets used today, not to mention the style of tennis, would be insane if played on a faster grass court. People keep whining about the courts being slow but they don’t talk about the matches where you could barely see the ball and scoring was serve serve serve, forehand return, serve. It was dull. The modern era has brought athleticism to a sport where it wasn’t always a requirement. For fans to enjoy the modern game they need to be able to see the way the ball reacts to the player’s style. To do that you need slower surfaces.

Not that I think grass is going anywhere. It’s here to stay and players have to try to escape intact. Part of the reason the adjustment is so difficult was mentioned by Tracy Austin-Holt during one of Tennis Channels gab fests. She talked about the adjustment the body has to make to play well on grass and called it “tush burn” if I recall correctly. Your glutes and thighs are used differently on grass and it results in some soreness. Of course no one followed up on her comment then and haven’t now. I like knowing these things. It helps me appreciate grass court play more.

End Notes

ESPN’s coverage has been very good. The broadcast quality has been excellent, and when I got to watch a top US junior play on Court 5 yesterday I was in heaven. There is the matter of the 30s – 40s delay. Maybe next year. It also helps if you keep the sound level low enough to avoid some of the commentators. There was one who said during a discussion of all the falls this year that until her favorite fell there is no problem.

Yeah, keep the sound down.

I don’t understand how anyone coming off of an injury would think it was smart to play no warm up events and use her Protected Ranking to get into the Main Draw not match fit and think she was going to do well. Talking to you Sloane Stephens.
And the comm who said Petra Kvitova was fit needs to visit their eye doctor stat. She predictably ran out of gas after improbable wins in her run up events. At least she played them although I wonder if it was a wise choice. She can’t make a fist with that hand yet.

John McEnroe continues to prove he is the worst commentator of all. He always shows up uninformed, speaks almost entirely about the past, and has no idea who is who.

Is it time to discuss the domination of the WTA by Eastern European women and why that is? Why have women from Western Europe and the United States not been able to step up to the plate? On the mens side there is European domination but mostly Western European. Maybe that’s an end of year post.

I wonder what time baseball starts today? Maybe there’s a track meet?

©2017 Savannahs World All Rights Reserved

The View From Here: Wimbledon 2017

by Savannah

Aren’t you sick of predictions based on the draw by now? I mean everyone picked Alona Ostapenko to win Roland Garros right? It’s time to stop looking at draws solely through the lens of ranking and popularity with the press and look at what could really happen in London over the next two weeks – sorry fort night.

Let me back up a bit. Rankings for the top players matter because where they’re ranked determines where they’re seeded and who they face in the early rounds. Then there’s Wimbledon where they tell you up front they can do whatever they want with the men’s seeding but basically leave the women’s seeding’s alone. That’s why the man ranked #2 in the world is seeded #4 and that’s all right because the man seeded #3 is worshipped as a god by some in the media.

Be that as it may I think all of the volatility will be on the women’s side. I read an article today where the WTA #1 Angelique Kerber is pretty much saying don’t expect her to do well. If she does, well all right then but if not, hey, it is what it is.

I still don’t get why people keep picking Simona Halep to do well at a Slam. She doesn’t do pressure people. And Darren won’t be able to come down and give her a pep talk when she’s at the business end of a match as the saying goes. She folds mentally and all her opponent has to do is keep her out there. Still depending on how things break, Slamless or not she has a chance to become ranked #1. Cue the articles praising her “consistency” and talking about how Darren Cahill has done a great job getting her the ranking. Keep in mind she may not win Wimbledon or any other Slam. This kudo would be more for her coach than her.

And that leads to Karolina Pliskova who despite all the shortcomings of her game also has a chance to become number one if Kerber falters. The hype would be a bit different for her though. Halep can move well (as long as it’s not to the net) where KaPlis can’t. As I’ve said before she is an updated version of Daniela Hantuchova. She needs to plant herself firmly on the baseline and come in on her terms. Force her out of her comfort zone, make her have to bend to get a return, and she’s toast. Again, she doesn’t have to win Wimbledon to become Number one but if she and Halep win one match at Wimbledon Kerber will need to make the Final to hold on to the top ranking. Since Pliskova the elder won Eastbourne she’s gained an advantage over Halep in this particular race to the top.

I’d be remiss in not emphasizing the fact that there is no on court coaching here. Some have criticized Ostapenko for constantly looking to her coach. These same people were okay when Justine Henin used to do the same thing. They also ignore Halep’s dependency on Cahill. I guess if the woman’s coach is a man it’s all right for her to look at her coach after every shot. Tennis journalism is so, weird. I use that word. Weird.

Still I don’t think any of the women mentioned above will hold the Venus Rosewater trophy. I think with the WTA the “top” players will do well at lesser tournaments (P5’s and Premier Mandatories) but that at Slams “unknown” will have the advantage, someone like Ostapenko who will put it together for two weeks while the others succumb to the pressure and fall by the wayside. I just don’t think any of the “top” players, regardless of ranking, have the mental or physical toughness needed to hold themselves together for the duration of a Slam.

So welcome back to the era of Slamless Number one’s people. Enjoy Wimbledon. I’ll check back in on Middle Sunday. By that time everything I’ve predicted will probably have fallen apart.

©2017 Savannahs World Tennis All Rights Reserved

RG 2017 – The Rear View Mirror

by Savannah

The ATP and the WTA finish the European spring clay court season in different places. I’ll get to that in a moment. Right now let’s look at what they have in common.

The respective top ranked players for both tours are struggling. Despite her apparent fitness Angelique Kerber has gone back to the player she was before what looks increasingly like her fluke year where she won two Slams. It’s an uneasy place for her to be mentally when so much is wanted from her by the tennis world, especially the world of women’s tennis. As it stands she is not even being talked about except in terms of her not being number one after Wimbledon. Her problems appear to be mental and that is not surprising. The game is changing in front of her eyes and right now she doesn’t seem to have the ability to adjust. This could simply be her annus horribilis.

As for the ATP Number One Andy Murray  I really think he’s feeling the effects of his bout with shingles. Fatigue is one of the side effects of the disease which can last for years (see page two of the link). Watching him play his semi final you could see after that marathon fourth set that he had nothing left.

At the end of the day the ATP presented two of its top players in the Final. The FFT and the ATP were ready with celebrations centered around Rafael Nadal winning his tenth Roland Garros. There were good showings by their highly touted Next Gen players but as is fitting none of them were able to handle the physical and mental pressure of a Slam. I give them another five years to step out of the shadow of the players that are still dominating their sport into their thirties. It speaks well of the professionalism of not only the players but their teams that are more than mere entourages. The families are part of the protective cocoon around a champion and comport themselves accordingly. It’s a testament to these high level teams that a champion player in an individual sport has the ability to focus on nothing more than his or her career.

The story on the WTA side is a bit different. Without a dominant player (and I’m not talking about a doper) a free for all is taking place. I talked about Kerber’s problems but I think the WTA, when it comes to Slams, has a huge issue hanging over it, one the men’s tour doesn’t have. That is on court coaching. I’ve been beating this drum ad nauseam for years but if you watched the WTA Final you saw what happens when a player has become so reliant on it that she has lost the ability to think her way out of problems on court. You could literally see when Simona Halep panicked. She was broken to love and her opponent held to love after Halep had been up 3-1 in the third set. You can even argue that the match was over when she lost the second set. She NEEDED her coach to come console her and give her a pep talk. She didn’t want him to come down she needed him to come down and that, in the end, is what lost her the match and the Number One ranking. Kristina Mladenovic had the same issues. She overcame them in one match staging a miraculous come back but the the need to have her coach tell her what to do led to her downfall.

Everyone is talking about how the level of tennis will rise when Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka return to the tour. Azarenka looks very fit right now. You would never know she’d recently given birth. But match play is an entirely different situation. Both Vika and Serena are strong willed and despite the layoffs want to/will want to hit the ground running so to speak. The body changes during pregnancy and I’m sure both will work on their core but I think both will see that the tour has changed. Will it help them? I can honestly say I don’t know.
I do know that of all the players Serena alone has never relied on OCC. In my opinion this is why she is so mentally tough.

And what about Alona (Jelena) Ostapenko? She’s not a kid. She’s twenty. She’s been around a long time, long enough to develop a not so good reputation behavior wise. She working with Anabel Medina Garrigues (yes, the one who was caught on camera trying to fluff up the balls during a match versus Serena Williams) and it looks as if she’s worked on toning down some of Ostapenko’s bad behavior but we’re going to have to wait and see what Ostapenko does going forward. It’s my understanding that Medina Garrigues was with her only for Roland Garros. If that is the case her first order of business is to get her to stay. Still I don’t think she should be expected to wipe the court with her opponents though. This is a great achievement but I don’t know if she’ll ever have this perfect storm again. There are several women who have won Roland Garros and were never able to win a major, or much of anything, again. That said she will always be able to say she is a Grand Slam winner.

As per usual the WTA was caught flat footed in terms of promotion. They’re now overcompensating (of course) but the over the top reaction proves that they’ve got no clue how to promote the sport of women’s tennis. No matter what happens to the ATP going forward they have a clear marketing strategy not only for their current stars but for their up and comers. The whole situation with Ostapenko’s name for example should’ve been cleared up a long time ago. That way you don’t have the spectacle of her fans berating journalists for not knowing her proper name.

I should mention in passing that a commentator was talking about the Eastern European style of tennis as it relates to the women’s game. I’m sure he wasn’t an American and if he was (I really didn’t get his name) he needs to be calling more matches.

And what about the state of US tennis? It’s still the mess it’s been for some time. It was nice seeing two up and coming US Junior girls, Whitney Osuigwe (her father is an IMG coach) and Claire Liu play for the Junior girls title. It was good seeing Donald Young in a Championship match at a Slam. But Madison Keys is said to have injured herself again. The other players, male and female, continue to be useless on clay although Young and Ryan Harrison should be given props for spending so much time in Europe during the clay season and managing to not publicly whine about being unable to find mass produced, salty and many times fake food in the acknowledged capital of cuisine in the world. Of course all the US players are focused on grass court play hoping to do well there.

What will happen at Wimbledon? Who knows. Many tennis pundits had Halep winning the title which lets me know they have no idea about tennis. No way Halep was going to win in such a high pressure situation.  Still if the draw breaks nicely for her she could find herself in a Final again but that is speculation. Grass court play starts Monday June 12.

Champions List

Men’s Singles
Spain Rafael Nadal
Women’s Singles
Latvia Jeļena Ostapenko
Men’s Doubles
United States Ryan Harrison / New Zealand Michael Venus
Women’s Doubles
United States Bethanie Mattek-Sands / Czech Republic Lucie Šafářová
Mixed Doubles
Canada Gabriela Dabrowski / India Rohan Bopanna
Boys’ Singles
Australia Alexei Popyrin
Girls’ Singles
United States Whitney Osuigwe
Boys’ Doubles
Spain Nicola Kuhn / Hungary Zsombor Piros
Girls’ Doubles
Canada Bianca Andreescu / Canada Carson Branstine
Legends Under 45 Doubles
France Sébastien Grosjean / France Michaël Llodra
Women’s Legends Doubles
United States Tracy Austin / Belgium Kim Clijsters
Legends Over 45 Doubles
France Mansour Bahrami / France Fabrice Santoro
Wheelchair Men’s Singles
United Kingdom Alfie Hewett
Wheelchair Women’s Singles
Japan Yui Kamiji
Wheelchair Men’s Doubles
France Stéphane Houdet / France Nicolas Peifer
Wheelchair Women’s Doubles
Netherlands Marjolein Buis / Japan Yui Kamiji

Who Will It Be?

by Savannah

Jelena Ostapenko
Caroline Wozniacki
Kristina Mladenovic
Timea Bacsinszky
Elina Svitolina
Petra Martic
Carla Suarez Navarro
Simona Halep
Alizé Cornet
Caroline Garcia
Veronica Cepede-Royg
Karolina Pliskova

Prepare yourselves hard core tennis fans. Memorize the names listed above. Bone up on their head to heads and past achievements. Their quirks. Their looks. Their games. The burden rests on our shoulders. No one outside of tennis cognoscenti will have a clue as to who any of these women are. If they’re golf fans they may have heard of Caroline Wozniacki but that’s it. The WTA has done such a fine job of promoting women’s tennis that whoever makes it to the Final is guaranteed the lowest US TV ratings ever. The good people at NBC must be seething that Venus Williams couldn’t do it today. There was a chance she’s make the Final but clay is her worst surface. Still she did very well in Paris. I’m a big fan but I always thought it was a long shot for her to go deep in the second week.

Wozniacki vs Ostapenko and Mladenovic vs Bacsinsky are already set for the Quarter Finals. The remaining women’s matches remain to be played. If the seeding holds it’ll be Svitolina vs Halep and Pliskova playing the winner of Garcia vs Cornet, a match either woman can win.

People  talked alot about there being no previous Slam winner in the bottom half of the draw. Now there is no previous Slam winner in either half. And since the WTA has done such a great job of promoting women’s tennis (Yes I’m saying it again)  people will be tuned in to watch and hang on every shot. I know I will. But then again I’m one of those people who know who most of these women are because I spend a lot of time following tennis. The casual fan will probably pass. And that is sad.

All of these women, household names or not, played their asses off on the most demanding of surfaces. They defeated whoever was across the net from them, household name or not (You can argue that the only real household name left was Venus but this column isn’t totally about that). They don’t deserve their matches going forward being called a “Scrub Bowl”. Whoever wins will have her efforts diminished because “quirky” results often come from Roland Garros.

The players are not to blame for this happening. They belong to the Women’s Tennis Association. It’s the WTA’s  job to make sure their members names are front and center. Women’s tennis is the most successful of women’s sports and yet few outside of hard core fans can discuss any of the women listed above with any knowledge. Add to that the fact the the WTA is virtually invisible on television in any shape form or fashion and you leave sports fans with the impression that women’s tennis is a side show, a lesser part of the tennis world while hey, what about those Next Gen guys huh?

We’ll know more soon. Best of luck ladies.

©2017 Savannahs World All Rights Reserved

Will Lack of Fitness & “Courtsense” Finish Off the WTA?

by Savannah

We’re barely through the first week of the French Open at Roland Garros and already some things are standing out for me as a result of watching both ATP and WTA matches. As you can tell by the title of this post the most blatant things are related to the WTA and it’s crop of new players.

In what was arguably the worst match of the event so far Kristina Mladenovic, as thirsty a player as exists in competition today, played Jennifer Brady on Court Philippe Chatrier that by the end had me screaming “I don’t care who wins get off the damn court! Close it out!” Mladenovic was playing with back issues per the comms and you could see her grimace in pain from time to time. You could also see her desperately looking to the stands for help. She very much wanted to call her coach down but of course the ITF doesn’t allow on court coaching (OCC) so she had to figure it out for herself. It was not pretty.

It also made me appreciate the older generation of players more. They didn’t cry and ask for someone to come down from the stands to hold their hands. They had to think their way through, adjust to what their opponent was doing, and soldier on.

Garbiñe Muguruza was also desperate to call down her coach during her match against Anett Kontaveit but she may have surprised herself by buckling down and eventually winning without her having to not listen to what her coach says while disrespecting him. I’ve railed against OCC for quite sometime now but with the current crop of players, many of whom began playing the main tour when OCC was in full effect the amount of whining and tears and temper tantrums seems to have increased. With it has come a huge drop in the level of tennis, one that will only get worse unless OCC is seen as the detriment to the sport it is and is discontinued.

Fitness? Most of the women are thin so they’re fit right? Wrong. You can be thin without being fit. The rash of injuries are coming about because, in my opinion, they’re dieting but still trying to look “feminine”. Remember Aga Radwanska‘s coach going on a rant about that a few years ago? That’s a nice collection of Slam trophies Aga has isn’t it? If you don’t build up strength – and muscle tone – the exertion of a three set match on clay, or any surface really, will bring you down. When your lungs are burning, your arms are heavy and your legs are jelly it’s hard to focus on what’s happening across the net if you can barely hold it together physically.

Some are nostalgic, and have been for a long time, for a return to the style of play exhibited by Martina Hingis in her day and it seems they’re going to get it if trends hold. I guess it’s been long enough for people to forget how boring that style of play is. It was also a time when women’s tennis was ridiculed for not being “real tennis” and led to the idea that it was “less” than men’s tennis, an idea that is still alive and widespread in the world of tennis.

There’s nothing wrong with strength of mind and body. There’s nothing wrong with being physically able to play a sport that makes so many demands on your body and mind. There’s nothing wrong with being able to adjust what you’re doing without someone dashing down from the stands and holding your hand. Both Muguruza and Mladenovic showed that they can do it. Sadly I don’t think their exhibition of mental toughness will be evident past Roland Garros when it’ll be back to hand holding and tears from athletes who are much better than that.

© 2017 Savannahs World All rights Reserved

The 2017 Roland Garros Draws

by Savannah

Every tennis head as seen the draws but I’ll post them in case you haven’t starting with the ATP Singles Draw.

A. Murray [1] vs A. Kuznetsov
WC L. Lokoli vs M. Klizan
M. Baghdatis vs N. Almagro
Qualifier vs Jm. Del Potro [29]

J. Isner [21] vs J. Thompson
P. Lorenzi vs R. Berankis
K. Khachanov vs Qualifier
Jl. Struff vs T. Berdych [13]

A. Zverev [9] vs F. Verdasco
Ph. Herbert vs J. Donaldson
D. Dzumhur vs N. Kicker
Qualifier vs P. Cuevas [22]

S. Querrey [27] vs H. Chung
E. Escobedo vs D. Istomin
R. Albot vs J. Chardy
T. Kokkinakis vs K. Nishikori [8]

S. Wawrinka [3] vs Qualifier
A. Dolgopolov vs C. Berlocq
Qualifier vs A. Seppi
F. Tiafoe vs F. Fognini [28]

R. Gasquet [24] vs Qualifier
Qualifier vs V. Estrella Burgos
T. Monteiro vs WC A. Muller
D. Brown vs G. Monfils [15]

Jw. Tsonga [12] vs R. Olivo
K. Edmund vs G. Elias
K. Anderson vs M. Jaziri
P. Kohlschreiber vs N. Kyrgios [18]

D. Ferrer [30] vs D. Young
F. Lopez vs Qualifier
K. Kravchuk vs F. Delbonis
E. Gulbis vs M. Cilic [7]

M. Raonic [5] vs S. Darcis
R. Dutra Silva vs M. Youzhny
Qualifier vs WC Q. Halys
G. Garcia-Lopez vs G. Muller [26]

P. Carreno Busta [20] vs F. Mayer
Qualifier vs J. Janowicz
T. Robredo vs D. Evans
S. Robert vs G. Dimitrov [11]

J. Sock [14] vs J. Vesely
A. Bedene vs R. Harrison
M. Kukushkin vs WC T. Sandgren
J. Millman vs R. Bautista Agut [17]

G. Simon [31] vs N. Basilashvili
V. Troicki vs E. Donskoy
R. Haase vs WC A. De Minaur
B. Paire vs R. Nadal [4]

D. Thiem [6] vs B. Tomic
Qualifier vs N. Mahut
WC M. Bourgue vs B. Coric
Y. Sugita vs S. Johnson [25]

I. Karlovic [23] vs Qualifier
H. Zeballos vs A. Mannarino
Yh. Lu vs Qualifier
Qualifier vs D. Goffin [10]

L. Pouille [16] vs WC J. Benneteau
T. Bellucci vs D. Lajovic
WC B. Bonzi vs D. Medvedev
Qualifier vs A. Ramos-Vinolas [19]

M. Zverev [32] vs Qualifier
Qualifier vs D. Schwartzman
J. Sousa vs J. Tipsarevic
M. Granollers vs N. Djokovic [2]

Here is the WTA Singles Draw.

A. Kerber [1] vs E. Makarova
L. Tsurenko vs Qualifier
L. Chirico vs J. Ostapenko
M. Puig vs R. Vinci [31]

S. Stosur [23] vs K. Kucova
K. Flipkens vs M. Minella
Qualifier vsE. Rodina
J. Boserup vs P. Kvitova [15]

C. Wozniacki [11] vs WC J. Fourlis
Qualifier vs WC T. Andrianjafitrimo
C. Bellis vs Qualifier
A. Tomljanovic vs K. Bertens [18]

S. Zhang [32] vs D. Vekic
V. Golubic vs A. Sasnovich
C. Giorgi vs O. Dodin
C. McHale vs S. Kuznetsova [8]

G. Muguruza [4] vs F. Schiavone
A. Kontaveit vs M. Niculescu
J. Larsson vs N. Vikhlyantseva
WC M. Georges vs Y. Putintseva [27]

M. Lucic-Baroni [22] vs C. Buyukakcay
M. Erakovic vs S. Rogers
Qualifier vs M. Doi
J. Brady vs K. Mladenovic [13]

V. Williams [10] vs Q. Wang
WC A. Anisimova vs K. Nara
J. Jankovic vs Qualifier
E. Mertens vs D. Gavrilova [24]

T. Bacsinszky [30] vs S. Sorribes Tormo
M. Brengle vs J. Goerges
Qualifier vs Qualifier
L. Arruabarrena vs D. Cibulkova [6]

E. Svitolina [5] vs Y. Shvedova
M. Barthel vs T. Pironkova
WC A. Lim vs M. Linette
D. Kovinic vs A. Konjuh [29]

A. Sevastova [17] vs A. Beck
R. Ozaki vs E. Bouchard
K. Bondarenko vs Qualifier
A. Barty vs M. Keys [12]

E. Vesnina [14] vs Qualifier
V. Lepchenko vs A. Petkovic
S. Cirstea vs S. Peng
M. Sakkari vs C. Suarez Navarro [21]

D. Kasatkina [26] vs Y. Wickmayer
Qualifier vs WC A. Hesse
Yy. Duan vs T. Maria
J. Cepelova vs S. Halep [3]

J. Konta [7] vs Sw. Hsieh
Qualifier vs T. Townsend
WC C. Paquet vs K. Pliskova
N. Hibino vs C. Garcia [28]

B. Strycova [20] vs A. Riske
A. Cornet vs T. Babos
N. Osaka vs Qualifier
WC F. Ferro vs A. Radwanska [9]

A. Pavlyuchenkova [16] vs Pm. Tig
V. Cepede Royg vs L. Safarova
M. Duque-Marino vs I. Begu
M. Rybarikova vs C. Vandeweghe [19]

L. Davis [25] vs C. Witthoeft
I. Khromacheva vs P. Parmentier
E. Alexandrova vs K. Siniakova
S. Zheng vs K. Pliskova [2]

 I’m beginning to think more and more of Grand Slam draws as snapshots, a rendering not only of ranking but of what has been happening in tennis in the months leading up to these events that are called “majors” in tennis.

Both tours are coming to this event in states of flux. At the present time neither tour has a dominant number one, someone that everyone wants to beat even if it means they’ve expended so much energy that they lose badly in the next round.

Tennis commentators are always talking about the element of fear in the locker room and how that affects on court play. That player everyone fears and loathes is usually ranked number one. Going by that standard both the mens and women’s tours are afraid but for different reasons. On the ATP side the British finally has a male player ranked number one. Unfortunately talk of illness has dogged him of late and it’s a legitimate question as to whether he’s physically up to a grueling seven match march to the final of the tournament held on his least favorite surface.

Then there’s the somewhat astounding mental and physical collapse of the man who had been dominating the tour before Andrew Murray took over the top spot. It’s as if we’re watching the previous incarnation of the man when he would begin to falter and fade physically during a match. It’s all happened rather suddenly and there is no easy explanation for why it happened. Some are pointing to a self declared guru who now travels with him especially since he fired not only his long time coach but his trainer and everyone else he’s been working with for years. Personally I don’t see what someone like Andre Agassi can do to help him. I know some will argue that people said that about Ivan Ljubicic and Roger Federer. Everyone loves a good story though and in the final analysis this work with Agassi seems to be more about Agassi and his family getting an all expenses paid trip to Paris than him seriously going back to the grind of traveling. It also gives the USTA the chance to brag that’s it’s former champions, who never played the modern game for more than a short period of time, do have something to contribute. We’ll see.

There are some young players who could surprise, among them Alexander Zverev. He’s in the top of the top half of the draw and his immediate section, aside from the tricky Pablo Cuevas, shouldn’t present too many problems for him. If he ends up facing Nishikori Kei that will be his first really big test.

It should be mentioned in passing that the ATP has done a good job promoting the young “Next Gen” players. I don’t think any of them is ready to do major damage at this, the most demanding of the Slams, but they could do enough to ruin some players day.

And now to the WTA.

The only player they’ve been promoting will not be playing at Roland Garros, and rightly so. When she and her agent couldn’t strong arm the FFT or the AELTC for that matter the WTA was left scrambling to get a good PR push going for its other players, you know, the ones who haven’t doped. They could’ve promoted their number one but she’s gone back to being the player she was before winning two Slams in a year. It’s almost by default that they’re now pushing Petra Kvitova who is coming back, I hope not prematurely, from an injury sustained during a home invasion.

So who has a chance? Top of my list would be Elina Svitolina. She’s got the game and if she can hold up has a good chance of going deep. Keep in mind the French Open is about endurance and sometimes those with good games can’t physically hold up.

Garbiñe Muguruza? As I’ve said before I saw her play live a couple of years ago now and she almost lost to Carina Witthöft. Since her French Open win she’s done nothing to write home about. Her opening match against Francesca Schiavone, a previous French Open champion as well, should give her a good work out and give us an idea what her chances are of repeating her title run. I think if she could get it through her head that no one is really afraid of her she would be able to raise her level of play and commit to what she needs to change. She must like having a celebrity coach though. If I were Sam Sumyk I would’ve told her long ago to kiss where the sun don’t shine and gone away although after the crappy way he treated Victoria Azarenka his stock may have gone down a bit. He needs her to do well as much as she needs to do well.

I’m not ready to get on the Kristina Mldenovic bandwagon just yet. The woman wants it and wants it bad. I’m not sure that will be enough to get her through though. She still has those little mental lapses that you can’t afford to have in best of three matches on the premier clay court in the world. You can make corrections in a best of five match. A mental lapse in best of three can break you in more ways than one.

Karolina Pliskova? She may end up in the top spot by default but she has too many problems with her game to be a favorite to win in my mind. She doesn’t bend her legs. She doesn’t like the low ball. Her movement is shit and that’s after she says she’s been working on it. With the weakness of the WTA tour right now she could still find herself in the semi’s or even the Final though. To me she’s a younger version of Daniela Hantuchova, another player who needed to dominate using her serve to control the center of the court.

By the way I read a fan comment saying that Karolina’s legs are too long for clay. The world wide web has room for every body.

The only other name I want to mention is Johanna Konta. I don’t get it. I don’t see it. I can never get past that horrible service motion of hers which for some reason always goes unmentioned by the tennis comms I’m used to hearing. I think that her heart is set on Wimbledon but again, the weakness of the WTA could see her wind up playing in the second week.

I’m starting my French Open with a breakfast of croissants with butter and honey. Or maybe thick cut English marmalade. The sleep deprivation won’t be as bad as it is during the Australian Open but it will be real.

End Note

There’s been a lot of controversy about the latest homophobic comments by Margaret Court, a relic of a bygone era and a fundamentalist preacher of some kind. Ever since her importance to tennis was raised by some who wanted the current GOAT to have another hurdle to overcome she’s been opening her mouth and breathing sulfur all over the tennis landscape. You lay down with dogs you get up with fleas. The tennis world gave her this platform and like any preacher she’s going to shout her message from the rooftops. It’s the height of hypocrisy to act as if you’re shocked and appalled by what she says especially if you’re part of the contingent that opened the door of her cave and let her out. People are calling for the arena named after her to be renamed. They’re asking that she stop being invited to Slams outside of Australia. I doubt if any of this will happen.


Positive Changes Are Coming

by Savannah

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) made announcements on March 30 that will affect tennis in two ways: how it’s governed and how the tours will be organized.

Let’s look at organization first.

One of the problems often cited by those who are deeply into the sport is the fact that many people play at a “pro” level but rarely, if ever, make any money doing so. Some say it’s because of this that match fixing is rampant at the Challenger and Futures levels. Yes those are terms usually used to refer to the lower levels of mens tennis. In women’s tennis you have various levels based on the amount of prize money an event pays out. The ITF, in a press release, said the following:

In order to address..issues, the Board has approved the implementation in 2019 of a new ITF Transition Tour, featuring a new category of interim tournament at entry-level that will better aid the transition from junior to professional tennis and ensure a continued opportunity for players from any nation to join the player pathway. These tournaments will be held within a localised circuit structure that reduces costs and increases opportunity for players, and reduces staging costs for organisers.

Transition Tour tournaments will be created through the repositioning of the existing $15,000 (Level I) tournaments on the ITF Pro Circuit that will no longer be held as part of the Pro Circuit in 2019.

Transition Tour tournaments will offer ITF Entry Points instead of ATP/WTA ranking points, with the two systems linked to ensure that the more successful players are able to use their ITF Entry Points to gain acceptance into ITF Pro Circuit tournaments.

The ITF’s proposed restructuring will radically reduce the number of professional players competing for ATP and WTA ranking points. The ITF’s extensive modeling work has led to a recommended professional player group of no more than 750 men and 750 women players. This new approach will
introduce a clearer and more effective professional pathway and ensure that prize money levels at ITF Pro Circuit events are better targeted to ensure that more players can make a living from the professional game.

Some say this is just shuffling deck chairs while others say it’ll make a somewhat chaotic process better. It’s hard to say. The ITF is giving itself, and the tours, two years to implement this new system. I think it’s a good idea. The tours have been unable to regulate themselves around the issue of Challenger/ITF events so it fell to the ITF to try and impose order. All people can offer now is opinions. 2019 will be here soon enough.

Another issue the ITF chose to address at it’s upcoming meeting has to do with the granting of Wild Cards (WC’s) when a player comes back from a drug suspension.

You have to be naïve to think current events have nothing to do with them deciding to look at putting in writing what would in any other sport be common sense. A WC is a reward for a job well done. A player can be given one if they’ve worked hard and achieved certain milestones in his or her career in terms of wins. It’s also given to a player who had achieved a high rank and due to injury or pregnancy had to take time off from the tour. It perverts the meaning of a WC when it’s given to a player coming off of a drug suspension no matter how long the suspension was for.

Needless to say the news didn’t break in the US. It was reported in Danish sports media and quoted Thomas Kønigsfeldt, one of the sixteen members of the ITF Board of Directors who is quoted as saying the following:

He said that current rules allow wildcards to be decided by tournaments without consideration to what caused the players’ absence or loss of ranking. Instead, a period of one year without wildcards should be enforced for players returning from bans for anti-doping rule violations, so that they are not viewed as being treated favorably by the tennis system.

“We need clear rules, and it is clear that this is not the case here. I have a clear sense that the ITF Board of Directors has agreed that we must do everything possible to combat doping.”

He goes on to say players and other board members feel the same way he does.
Good. I don’t understand how tennis can say it’s anti doping then turn around and reward dopers. It’s really not a good look.

At any rate the ITF seems to be stepping up and taking the sport in needed directions. Let’s see what happens going forward.

© 2017 Savannahs World All Rights Reserved

2018 AO This and That Part 2

by Savannah

Things got a bit hectic so I’m just now getting to post Part 2 of my 2018 Australian Open observations.

Am I from a bizarro world? Why do I feel that that long match between Simona Halep and Lauren Davis was more about Halep not being able to close it out than Davis playing the match of her life? Don’t get me wrong Davis played well above her weight class and if it wasn’t for the injury – which I questioned at first – she might’ve pulled off the upset. Instead she got the top ranked WTA player to play an almost four hour match. That’s why Cahill was beating his head against his fist. US players seem to like to play these types of matches. I’ll have to think more about why that might be.

Despite all of the sturm und drang from a certain players stans and PR people (are they one and the same?) it seems that without her special drug cocktail she’s unable to keep her strength up. Or to play thinking tennis. I’m not a fan of Angelique Kerber but to paraphrase a statement she played with the gods on her side.

Who are these women playing on RLA for the WTA these days? I’m kidding of course. I know many of their names from ITF’s and WTA International tournaments but really. I know, I know, it’s the depth of the tour. Right. I’ve never accepted that “depth” argument. The WTA tour is weak right now. Why do I say that? Elina Svitolina (!) has a chance to be WTA #1.

Why is everyone hating on Caroline Wozniacki and trying to compare her “discussion” with the chair to Colleen Vandeweghe‘s cursing out her opponent? There is no comparison. What is comparable is Aljona Ostapenko‘s cursing out of her opponent. I guess because she did it in Russian they’re going to let her slide? As they say film at eleven.

Anyone know what spell Chung Hyeon weaves that traps Alexander Zverev so easily? Then again Zverev may learn how to play five set matches and the rivalry will even up. It’s not that Chung has been playing nothing but five setters either. Watching him calmly wait Zverev the younger out and finishing off the match with a love set was something to behold. There was that bit of drama from Sasha about a light though wasn’t it? Tantrums always lead to no good.

It looks like Agnieszka Radwańska‘s days as a top ten player may be over. I think two things happened to her. One is that players got hip to her “ninja” style of play. I said a couple of years ago that she was starting to only be able to beat newbies, players who hadn’t dealt with her tricks before. Now even they’re beating her. That leads to the question of her fitness. We all know she wanted to maintain a “feminine” look that precluded sculpted thighs and upper body. She is even carrying a bit of a tummy but that could be because she just came off her honeymoon. She’s not fooling anyone anymore and there is really nothing she can do about that.

US tennis is busily hyping Madison Keys after Sloane Stephens predictable crash and burn. Wait until Madison meets someone who won’t let her establish herself on the baseline à la Karolina Pliskova and fire away. There are more similarities between the two players than people care to admit.

Oh yeah. The AO did finally fix their App so at least you can kinda sorta follow the scores in matches you’re interested in but can’t watch for one reason or another. I just don’t get what was wrong with the old style live score format. It takes an extra few seconds to adjust to the new format they’re using and it’s rather tedious.

Cori Gauff, a promising US junior who at the most is 14 years old is in Melbourne. Why? They’re rushing this young woman and we’ve seen the results of that too many times. I feel the same way about fifteen year old Marta Kostyuk. It’s too soon.

As I usually do with ESPN I make sure the sound is off so I don’t hear the shit the comms say. This is a good thing.

End Notes

The WTA is touting it’s multi million dollar deal to bring its YEC to Shenzen, China, a city that fans who self identify as Chinese call dull and boring. The main talking point seems to be that the prize money will total $14 million US dollars, double what the ATP WTF makes available. Big whoop.

As one fan asked where is this money coming from? No one is buying tickets. There will be little to no TV viewership from countries with a strong tennis tradition. Will Western journalists be able to get Visa’s? Yes they’re building a new stadium but won’t it sit empty like all the other’s that already exist? This will be an outdoor stadium so there will be no ability to use lighting to hide the empty seats. Steve Simon has done nothing but continue to make women’s tennis disappear.

Anyway the business end of the tournament, Week Two starts tonight on the east coast of the United States.

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