Idle Chit Chat

By Savannah

I’ve been writing this blog for quite some time. I was encouraged to do so by Craig Hickman who thought I had a unique perspective on the sport.

The blog started out as a sarcastic (snarky) view of the world of tennis but has evolved into something else. I like to think that a critical when necessary, and a celebration when deserved is what a reader will find here. I used to post weekly, but I don’t anymore mainly because the things I brought up when I posted on “BlogSpot” are still going on and while what I say here may be new to some the topics are not new for me. I’m not the best writer on the planet, far from it, but it’s no fun going over topics you’ve been writing about for years.

I’ve been doing this long enough to remember how opposed many “journalists” were to the rise of bloggers covering the sport. They felt that we bloggers were an uncouth lot who showed no respect to players and would drag the level of tennis journalism down. Attitudes like this, influenced Roland Garros’s decision to stop posting post-match interviews on its site.

And yet here we are. Unlike every other major sport tennis, the WTA and the ATP, have not only restricted access to information they’ve stopped posting vital information on their respective websites. Try finding any current information about players on the WTA site. The ATP site, which at one point was vastly superior, has now become almost as bad as the WTA site. It is possible to find the stats of ATP, but good luck. Sadly, if you want WTA stats you have to visit fan sites. Basic info like head to heads or recaps of matches send the average fan to a search engine where more than likely he or she will end up on a fan site.

For example, I was looking for draw information on the Los Cabos tournament. Checking the ATP web site, I got the impression nothing had been released by the tournament. On a hunch I did a search. Of course, there was information out. Where did I find it? On a site that is run by a fan. It’s the same thing if you want to know who will be playing a tournament. For some reason tennis thinks its entry lists and draws are state secrets. The Slams do a better job? Did you try and get any information on the Australian Open and Roland Garros sites this year? Both websites were works in progress with updates being made while the tournaments were taking place. So far only Wimbledon, in many ways the stodgiest of the Slams presented itself on its website as a tournament. There were entry lists. There were draws. There was tournament information that went beyond where and how to buy tickets. They did have to adjust, but the corrections were done quickly as soon as fans began to vent about the problems.

To make a comparison that almost every sports fan will get: the World Cup of Football (soccer in the US) was taking place at the same time Wimbledon was. I usually compare tennis web sites to the websites of sports I’m familiar with like basketball, football, and baseball. It doesn’t matter. The thing is whatever you wanted to know about not only the team from a particular country but the players from those countries was there for the fan who follows everything to every four year fans like me. The NBA, NFL and MLB would be embarrassed to put their names on websites as inferior as the tennis tour web sites. The fans of those sports wouldn’t have it.

Tennis is a great sport with players and fans who want to spread the word about it and get away from the perception of it as a bastion of elitism. It seems that the people who run tennis don’t have the same opinion.

Thank goodness tennis fans have stepped up to the plate (a baseball analogy) and are filling in the gaps left by those whose business it should be to make the sport accessible to all. It shouldn’t be so hard to be a tennis fan.

Conspiracy Theories

Yes, they exist in tennis. It seems that TUE’s (Therapeutic Use Exemptions) are the latest things to be considered controversial. Why? Who knows? Who knows why a player would allow pictures of herself to be published showing a male friend (allegedly) tossing her salad? If you don’t know what that is Google is your friend.

I mean don’t we all wake up in the morning and decide we’re going to be plagued by blood clots and the health issues they cause? And of course, we all plan to go out and step on a piece of glass that goes clear through your foot. Doesn’t everyone? The issue seems to be that the TUE’s were retroactive. I mean if you knew you were going to suffer life threatening medical issues wouldn’t you apply for a course of treatment for something that hasn’t happened to you yet?

Idiots. A TUE has to be granted to an athlete retroactively. The athlete has to be injured or suffer a medical emergency before a treatment plan is decided on, a plan that may include painkillers or other drugs that make the healing process easier.

It’s no secret, and it’s very obvious who is behind this nonsense. It’s not a stretch to compare what’s going on to the “scandal” of those emails. No doctor will prescribe a heavy-duty drug for a disease, or medical condition you don’t have. The people who run WADA were not born last night. It’s not doping if a real accredited doctor prescribes a course of treatment to address proven medical issues. It is doping when you claim that your third cousin twice removed suffers from diabetes, so you should take a heart drug because hey, you never know. Any so-called journalist who promotes this nonsense deserves to be ignored by fans.

This and That

The US Open series is officially under way. Monday July 30 will feature play from San Jose, California. I’ve always liked the US Open Series even though it means having to listen to the nonsense spouted by US tennis commentators, many of whom do not watch any tennis until they step into the broadcast booth or watch a match from a broadcast studio near their homes.

There are strong fields in Washington DC (which is not part of the US Open Series) and in San Jose. With the Roger’s Cup taking place next week expect inexplicable losses.

By the way if you want to see any of San Jose you have to subscribe to WTA TV or check to see if you can watch ESPN3.

I took my own advice and have been watching the tournaments that are being contested this week. There are a lot of complaints about lower ranked players turning up in Finals just before the tour moves to the US. and Canada. Everyone has to start somewhere, and I’ve been seeing some interesting prospects. It’s really not fair to put these men and women down. Five years from now some US comm will be asking who Player X or Player Y is and ask about their road to the top twenty. Or the top ten. Or the top five. And no, I’m not going to talk about the level of tennis we’ll be seeing in another five years. I talked about that five years ago.

©2018 Savannah’s World Tennis. All Rights Reserved Unless Otherwise Indicated

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This & That: Wimbledon Days 1&2

by Savannah

It’s kind of appropriate that Day 2 ended with a double fault by the woman who has perhaps benefitted the most from what passes for the WTA hype machine. Even after she admitted – she had no choice- that she’d been doping for ten years and that while every single athlete on the planet got the email and stopped taking that PED she alone missed it and according to some of her stans, was being persecuted by people out to get her for various and sundry reasons. The WTA broke its own rules to shoe horn her into a tournament a week before she should’ve been eligible and then proceeded to vilify events that wouldn’t give her a WC into the Main Draw. The subtext of all the hype was that she didn’t need meldonium, and that she was going to rise quickly through the ranks of a weak tour taking her “rightful” position in the top five. Things have not gone quite as planned though. Her days of bullying and screaming at people while not gone are not having the effect they once did. No one cares anymore.

Except they should. The women’s tour has long been seen as the poor cousin of the men’s tour. Many male players openly mock the women who sacrifice just as much as they do to play a sport many see as “effete” and “niche”. For the WTA to sacrifice it’s reputation for one player is pathetic. In any other sport – ANY OTHER SPORT – titles won while doping would’ve been stripped. Instead she was allowed to return as if she had been out for an injury. The hypocrisy surrounding her return and the return of a player who has won 23 Grand Slams after suffering major postpartum medical complications is there for all to see. All of the people “outraged” that Serena Williams was seeded sat on their hands while the women’s tour made itself into a laughing stock. When so called journalists can’t see the difference between the return of a doper and the return of a true champion the word “journalist” shouldn’t be applied to them.

From a US perspective the other big news on the women’s side was Sloane Stephens going down to defeat in Round 1 after making the Final at Roland Garros. It was only news to those who willfully ignore Stephens history and want to make her into someone she’s not.

Stephens showed up in London on the Friday before play began. Keep in mind most players had already been in town for at least a week: some had been there longer.I have no idea why Stephens showed up late, didn’t play a warm up event, and thought she was going to breeze into the second week of Wimbledon. She was woefully unprepared both mentally and physically and it showed.

Sloane is lazy (as attested to by former coaches) and arrogant. I guess it’s a good thing that she slinked out of London without going the route of fellow US player Jack Sock who is lazy, arrogant, crude and rude. Then again that seems to be a requirement for US men so maybe singling out his behavior isn’t warranted.

But back to Stephens. She will continue to get a free ride from the US media because her surname isn’t Williams. They want to show her off as that woman of color who didn’t have to come from outside of the US tennis system. Good luck with that. I wonder how long Kamau Murray is going to stick around?

There are two Petra Kvitova’s. One is a big, clean hitter of the ball, who can be a bit of a serve bot due to her lack of good movement and yet can come to the net if it’s on her own terms. Then there is the woman her fans call “P3tra”. You can always tell when P3tra is on court because she’s incapable of hitting winners or taking control of the court. Petra came to Wimbledon as fit as I’ve ever seen her and even I thought that she’d make a deep run and possibly win it all, especially since she’s won five tournaments this year on multiple surfaces. The evil twin made her appearance though and Petra will be able to rest and prepare for her next event.

In all fairness I did see about three minutes of the match and Petra seemed to be grabbing at her right hip.

It’s also a thing that being as fit (thin) as she is she just might not be used to playing at that weight. The paunch is gone, she’s mostly muscle now, and should’ve been able to wage war on her opponents. Instead she’s gone. Somewhere P3tra is laughing.

Then there is the weird case of Caroline Garcia. I know she’s the top ranked woman in France but every time I sit down to try and watch her my mind wanders. I wish I could say she works my nerves or has irritating on court habits but as far as I can see she doesn’t. She seems to be a very nice young woman. You don’t play professional tennis if you’re not hyper competitive but when she takes the court I wake up when her match is over. My feeling is that she doesn’t do anything “special” and yet I can’t say that with authority because, well, she bores me. At least Johanna Konta repels me. I don’t watch her matches but that’s because she just makes me want to scream. Or throw things. Or something.

I watched some of Vera Zvonareva vs Angelique Kerber earlier today. Vera showed flashes of the player she used to be but it was pretty obvious that Kerber would win. If Vera is playing this time next year her results could be better.

I expect that there will be a renewal of the Eugenie Bouchard hype. She made it through Qualies and won her first round match. Look out world!

I’ve been watching mostly women’s tennis so far. I plan to do so for the rest of the week.  This way when I talk about all of the women playing the same and looking alike I’ll have a frame of reference.

End Notes

I absolutely love the Adidas shorts kit. it looks cool without the player being half naked and allows freedom of movement.

Serena isn’t in a full body compression suit but she is wearing compression hose. Once again the same people who criticized the cat suit are hot and bothered by compression hose. They need to focus on her tennis and the fact that after going through what she did she’s back on court and playing competitively.

There is no easy answer at the present time re seeding of players coming back from maternity leave. I stick to my proposal that a panel of tennis players who have given birth, assisted by medical professionals, be consulted. The player’s on the panel should have given birth within the last five to ten years or so. If, like Kim Clijsters and Victoria Azarenka a player has had a complication free vaginal delivery there should be nothing special done re ranking. On the other hand if there were life threatening complications that force a player to need special care and attention well after her baby has been delivered the special panel should consult with the ITF and the WTA about her return and how it should be handled, especially if the player was top ten when she went on maternity leave.

And please, miss me with that noise about paternity leave.

©2018 Savanahs Tennis World. All rights reserved

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rear View Mirror: 2018 Roland Garros

by Savannah

The winners have been crowned and tennis is moving on to it’s next season played on a natural surface. Of course there is quite a bit of red clay play after Wimbledon but the powers that be want you to ignore all of that and focus on the US hard court season. The fact that many players opt to stay in Durope and preserve their bodies angers many but it is what it is.

Before leaving Paris lets look back at some of what happened and what it says about the relative state of both tours.

Simona Halep Women’s Champion

via WTA/Roland GarrosaAkFlzj

There was no guarantee that Ms Halep would reach the final. The last time we saw her play on Chatrier she was losing to a member of the WTA Brat Pack, Aljona Ostapenko.

Her head was down and she cut a forlorn and lonely figure on the huge court. Would that all change in 2018? Would Halep, who had come so close, once again hold on to the top ranking in the WTA but be hounded as “slamless”?

There were no big announcements from her camp. Additions to her tam were done in a low key way without the position of her head coach ever being challenged. Everything was quiet when she entered Paris as far as the public was concerned. If you looked at her yes she was fitter than I’ve ever seen her. Yes there seemed an air of determination in how she carried herself but none of that erased what for me was her worst moment last year.

And yet she won it all. There are some who will argue that the French Open is “quirky”, that many win it who never lift a trophy again. I don’t think that will be the case with Halep. The way she wore her opponent down in the Final (more on that in a bit) was impressive. She couldn’t have played worse than she did in that first set and she was on her way to losing the second set when she saw an opportunity and took it. She didn’t need on court coaching. I’m not naive enough to think there was no coaching going on but head coach Darren Cahill did not have to rush down from the stands to tell her to cut the shit and play. It’s going to be interesting to see how she carries herself at Wimbledon. She doesn’t need the crutch. Maybe she’ll be the first of the new generation to put it aside and use her brain.

There was no Ostapenko across the net this year. Ostapenko had done nothing of note after her big win last year and went out quietly in the first round. Instead United States player Sloane Stephens found herself in the Roland Garros Women’s Final. To her credit she played flawless tennis for a set and two games into the second set. It was then that her lack of fitness caught up with her. Of course she denied it later but anyone who watched the match knows exactly when her legs went away. Right after that she began to suck air for all she was worth but Halep, seeing what her physical condition was, began to run her ragged. To Stephens credit she put up a good fight but she had nothing left.

During the NBC broadcast Mary Carillo went on a riff about how Sloane doesn’t practice hard in order to leave it all for her matches. I’ve seen a Stephens practice live and in person and I laughed to myself hearing her compare Stephens practices to those of Pete Sampras. I thought it was a nice way of saying that Sloane is lazy. Not once did her physical condition get mentioned by any of the US comms. I said last year that the worst thing that could’ve happened to Stephens was winning the US Open as out of shape as she was. What can be done on a hard court can’t be done on a European red clay court. You have to be physically and mentally at the top of your game. The terre battue takes it all out of you and if you haven’t worked until your legs are jelly and your arms are about to fall off, if you haven’t changed your diet so that the portions served at a five star restaurant look like a feast to you you can’t win playing modern tennis at Roland Garros. There was not an ounce of fat to be seen anywhere on Simona Halep’s body. Stephens is lugging around at least ten pounds too many.  Comparing her regimen to Sampras’ is not a complement. Sampras wouldn’t stand a chance against today’s top players unless he decided to play the post US Open Asian hard court and European indoor swings when everyone is beat up and resting up for the WTF in London.

I was glad to see Simona win. To be honest I was disappointed to see Stephens in the Final. Then again maybe this will be her wake up call. Kamau Murray has his work cut out for him.

Rafel Nadal Parera Men’s Champion

via ATP/Roland GarrosRafael Nadal, Roland Garros 2018, Photocall, Photo : Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Dominic Thiem must be wondering what more he could’ve done. He was extraordinarily fit. He’d played almost every week of the clay season preparing himself for the rigors of Roland Garros. He was mentally ready as well. And yet for a large portion of the match he was reduced to standing with his hands on his hips wondering how the hell he’d done everything right and his opponent still won the point. What must’ve gone through his mind when Rafa’s serving hand cramped horribly (nerves) and he barely missed a beat, accepting the time violation and working through his pain until the muscles of his hand relaxed. Instead of being able to maybe steal a set Thiem accepted the runner up trophy with grace.

Don’t let the official picture above fool you. Rafa was a bundle of nerves most of this tournament. For long time Rafa fans Toni not only being there but sitting with his coaches was acknowledgement that Rafa needed that calming influence. US tennis media has often criticized Toni Nadal for being too tough on his nephew saying that he should be allowed to relax and have some fun. The Nadal family ignored that noise and went about their business. When Rafa was coming apart at the seams it was Toni he got to come in and calm the waters.

I’m a jinx so I rarely watch or talk about Rafa’s matches but I’m making an exception in this case because the man I saw playing today is a far cry from the teenager I started watching so many years ago. As he matured so did his game. He is a top player because he’s not wedded to one style of play. Injury led to better care of body, and mind. If he was still playing today the way he played in 2005 something would be wrong. It’s a lesson a lot of players have to learn and why I’m so against young players having success early in their careers. Children become adults and that maturation process should be reflected in how they conduct their lives whether they are pro athletes or not. The maturity, the subtlety, the ability to take the best of your opponent and turn it to your advantage that I saw yesterday was awe inspiring. I felt Thiem’s frustration. Against anyone else he’d have won that match.

The US tennis establishment is still stuck on Sampras and Andre Agassi. We know what secrets were hidden about Agassi so they focus on Sampras because he isn’t perceived to have been “dirty”. If, as Carillo hinted, Sampras was lazy he wouldn’t be doing much in the ATP of today. The fact that he hated the clay created a mind set in US tennis that has still not been overcome.

But that’s a discussion for another day. Rafa wanted to win that match in three sets and despite his opponent’s excellent play he imposed his will on the match and won. He’s been imposing his will for a long time now. It’s how he did it not that he did it that has changed. It is wonderful to see how this boy has become a man.

End Notes

There is a lot of excitement around fourteen year old Cori Gauff and there should be. She is playing with a maturity not usually seen in a player her age and if she stays healthy and grows her game she could turn out to be the young star the WTA needs. She’s working with the folks at Mouratoglou Academy and it shows. She was comfortable on the clay, can already slide, and most importantly has rudimentary knowledge of how to construct points. She’s also not finished growing yet – she still has her baby face – and it looks as if she will be at least as tall as Venus Williams. She also wants it badly and that’s not a problem. My issue is that she’s fourteen. I want to see what she’s doing when she’s in her adult body at eighteen and again at about twenty two. I sincerely hope that they don’t rush her no matter what she wants.

Speaking of height there is a sub rosa debate going on in men’s tennis about big men. It seems as if there are big men and small men with few in between, especially in the United States. When I saw Denis Shapovalov in person both on and off court at last years US Open I was surprised that he is not that big. According to Wiki he is six feet tall (1.83 meters) but he looks to be at least an inch or two shorter. Chung Hyeon is listed at six feet two inches (1.88 meters) and I think that’s about right having seen him play up close on an outer court at the US Open. Lucas Pouille is listed at six feet one inch (1.85 meters). Alexander Zverev is tall at  six feet six inches (1.98 meters). All of these men can move well. They’re not gazelles but they move well enough. There are other big men like Zverev whose movement can best be described as glacial.

I don’t know what the end results will be. The US is looking to push players like Taylor Fritz and Riley Opelka betting that the cycle will turn and serve dominated tennis will come back. Their competition is going to be smaller and faster. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

As for the WTA up and coming it’s sad but most of them have no on court personality. Add to that the fact that they all play alike and you’ve got a bit of a recipe for disaster marketing wise. When you say the names Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Caroline Wozniacki, Victoria Azarenka, Aga Radwanska, a personality type leaps to mind. They play different styles and present themselves differently on and off court. Mention some of the up and comers and I dare you to have an impression other than “blonde” come to mind. Even Simona doesn’t have a riveting on court personality. Sadly those that do are mostly brats. Yes there’s Madison Keys, Garbiñe Muguruza, Caroline Garcia and Sloane Stephens but are they poised to be the superstar mega earners their predecessors are? Time will tell. Arrogance is a personality trait but you can be arrogant as all get out and not be able to sell your sport.

The Complete Winners List

Men’s Singles

Rafael Nadal

Women’s Singles

 Simona Halep

Men’s Doubles

 Pierre-Hugues Herbert /  Nicolas Mahut

Women’s Doubles

 Barbora Krejčíková /  Kateřina Siniaková

Mixed Doubles

 Latisha Chan /  Ivan Dodig

Boys’ Singles

 Tseng Chun-hsin

Girls’ Singles

 Cori Gauff

Boys’ Doubles

 Ondřej Štyler /  Naoki Tajima

Girls’ Doubles

Caty McNally / Poland Iga Świątek

Legends Under 45 Doubles

Spain Àlex Corretja / Spain Juan Carlos Ferrero

Women’s Legends Doubles

France Nathalie Dechy / France Amélie Mauresmo

Legends Over 45 Doubles

France Mansour Bahrami / France Fabrice Santoro

Wheelchair Men’s Singles

Japan Shingo Kunieda

Wheelchair Women’s Singles

Japan Yui Kamiji

Wheelchair Men’s Doubles

France Stéphane Houdet / France Nicolas Peifer

Wheelchair Women’s Doubles

Netherlands Diede de Groot / Netherlands Aniek van Koot

©2018 Savannahs World Tennis All Rights Reserved except where indicated

 

All Roads Lead to Paris

by Savannah

I haven’t blogged in a long time. I felt that I had run out of things to say about the sport of tennis, the sport I love, that I haven’t said before. I was going to post something during, then after, the US spring hard court swing but when I looked up again it was European Red Clay Season and what happened in March was now the past.

Long time readers know that clay is my favorite surface. I have several reasons for that. It requires full commitment of body, mind and intellect. For the most part you can’t just ball bash your way to a title. Nuance, skill, and the ability to create points, to innovate, are required of a good clay court player. I’ve said this before. It’s not a requirement that a point end in three shots but many young players, yes from the United States, grow frustrated and can’t function in a long rally. That is not their fault it is the fault of their training, nothing more.

Still stuff has been happening and as usual not all of it reflects well on the sport.

Most recently one of the top female players, Karolina Pliskova, lost it over a blown call by the chair umpire. At the end of the match the on court zen of the player many call “robotic” on court went by the wayside as she first refused to shake the hand of the chair umpire and then proceeded to destroy the chair the woman was sitting on. Thank goodness the chair is seated very high or else the chair umpire would’ve been badly injured. This occurred at a WTA sanctioned tournament so in view of incidents that happened in the recent past of course the question was what the penalty would be and how long a suspension would be imposed. There was never an official announcement from the WTA so it was the Czech press that reported the fine was $4,500 USD and that there would be no suspension of the player. I guess this means going forward that any player can lose their shit at a WTA tournament, bust up the joint, and that the WTA will meekly look the other way or apply a fine barely over the minimum stated in its rule book. Of course it still depends on who you are and how the tennis powers that be perceive you doesn’t it?

The ATP has it’s own little contretemps going on as well. One of the men who has been steadily moving up the ranks of late is Nicolás Kicker of Argentina. As the NY Times reports he was accused of match fixing. He refused to cooperate with the Tennis Integrity Unit that opened an investigation after bettors questioned his actions in two Challenger Level matches in 2015 when he was a much lower ranked player. As of now he can’t play tour sanctioned matches until his punishment is decided.

Match fixing is wrong and should be strongly punished. It still makes you wonder why there are ATP tournaments sponsored by betting houses if they want to clamp down on nefarious activities at the Challenger level and lower. The easy solution would be to increase prize money but if I recall correctly the Players Association is against that.

Pregnancy and the Female Athlete

To be honest I wanted Serena Williams to be seeded at this years Roland Garros but I’m not surprised that she wasn’t. Some things that have been said as a result of her not being seeded are surprising and show how ignorant many are about what pregnancy is and what a high risk pregnancy can mean to any woman but particularly an athlete.

Have there been pregnant tennis players before? The easy and obvious answer is yes. Kim Clijsters gave birth and was back playing well about a year afterwards. Ms Clijsters had, from what we know, a perfectly normal pregnancy and delivery. Ms Williams did not. Li Na retired from tennis after becoming pregnant. Anne Keothavong retired from active play as well.

When Serena came back it was obvious that she was still breast feeding and that her core wasn’t ready for the stress of playing tennis. When this was given as a cause for her obviously poor play some said “But Clijsters!” I’m assuming now that more people understand what Serena went through giving birth and afterwards.

The contrast between the two situations highlights the problems around pregnancy and specifically tennis. With a normal delivery and post-partum period it’s understandable that a female tennis player will want to, and can, return to competition. When a high risk pregnancy results in a C-section more is involved than just “getting back to normal” and being able to play tennis. Muscles have to heal. Blood vessels have to get back to their previous level of operation.

It’s my opinion that rules have to be crafted that take into account the differences between “normal” and “high risk”pregnancy. It would help if women like Anne Keothavong, Kim Clijsters, and yes Serena Williams, Li Na and Victoria Azarenka, have input into what the WTA and ITF decide the regulations should be regarding a player returning from pregnancy. I’m not including women like Chris Evert or Lindsay Davenport because things have changed so much since they had their children it’s almost impossible to discuss what pre natal care is today.

All the factors surrounding an individual player have to be looked at before a decision is rendered regarding how her return to tournament play is handled. Men don’t have babies. I don’t think it’s unfair to ask that the people crafting any new guidelines should be women who have given birth. Knowing how tennis works though I doubt that approach will be taken.

Roland Garros 2018

The draws are out. Almost everyone is in Paris preparing for the most exciting and grueling two weeks in tennis. Some players are still involved in tournaments that will end just before the start of the French Open.

It has to be noted that the Roland Garros site, when initially unveiled, was horrible. Whoever designed the site responded quickly though and added a visible link for fans to access the Draws and Schedule of Play. Personally I’ve found it better to access the schedule of play via the Twitter feed of the tournament. Someone has gone to the trouble to create a very pretty layout for the OoP and this person for one likes that the effort was made.

That said the ITF should make up with IBM in time for next year’s Slams.

You really didn’t think I was going to wade into the muck with the draws did you?

ALLEZ!

©2018 Savannah’s World 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

Champions

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

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.

Halep

W
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

Wozniacki

W
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

Svitolina

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

Pliskova

W; Wozniacki doesn’t reach the final

I’m excited. Aren’t you?

© 2018 Savannash Tennis World All Rights Reserved