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

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 Week That Was: ’17 AO Week 1

by Savannah

I was a bit upset with myself for not writing a post about the first week of the 2017 Australian Open Saturday (or was it Sunday? I get so confused about what day it is this time of the year). After the matches last night and early this morning here on the east coast of the United States I’m glad I didn’t.

Up to last night the big story was the ATP #2 losing early, racist comments by an ESPN commentator re Venus Williams who is gleefully introducing herself to a new generation (what was that you said Duan Yingying?) and a three hour plus WTA match between Svetlana Kuznetsova and Jelena Jankovic (JJ will be working with Guillermo Canas for a bit), and Agnieszka Radwanska  being escorted to the exit by Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. Going into last night’s matches I had two wishes: That Jo-Wilfried Tsonga would beat Dan Evans and that Angelique Kerber would find a way to beat Coco Vandeweghe. One out of two ain’t bad. I had no idea that Mikhail “Mischa” Zverev would decide that last night was the time to remind the tennis world that there are two Zverev brothers on the tour. I should’ve known that when Kerber needed three sets to see off the brainless Carina Witthoef (I’ve seen Witthoef play live and will stand by my judgement of her tennis brain) that Kerber would be vulnerable to the obnoxious Vandeweghe.

I thought that this year would be tough for Kerber. Her game is not the strongest and despite her obvious attempt to be even fitter than she was last year it was always going to be a battle for her to hold onto the number one ranking. She mostly played her way into number one if you remember her 2016 schedule. She got a ton of points winning Australia and the US Open last year but in between those wins she played a lot and lost a lot. All of the PR surrounding her ascent was more the WTA wanting (needing?) someone not Serena Williams as its number one. I mentioned their unseemly haste in kicking Serena to the curb to elevate and promote Kerber. I have nothing against Kerber. She seems like a very nice person. But the WTA betrayed its anti Venus Williams and Serena Williams bias once again by insinuating that Kerber was somehow “saving” women’s tennis. Don’t forget they’ve been trying to give the savior title to Eugenie Bouchard for awhile now.

But enough of that. Kerber was vulnerable as the hunted and she lost badly to Vandeweghe who was, from what I saw of the video, her usual obnoxious self at the end. The USTA is going to try and push her as the heir apparent to the Williams but they’re going to have a hard time doing it. Vandeweghe is known and hated by many, many fans and changing that view of her will be hard. Her attempted intimidation a chair ump the other night was only the latest in a list of horrid things she’s done on court. Garbiñe Muguruza we’re counting on you.

Andy Murray‘s loss is a bit harder to understand. He had a fairly easy draw and Mischa Zverev was supposed to be roadkill not a bump in the road. There is a huge difference between modern tennis and old school serve and volley tennis and to this viewer Murray was not able to force Mischa out of his game plan. I’m calling the older Zverev by his first name to differentiate him from his younger brother Alexander (Sascha) Zverev. Add to that Mischa’s forehand was on fire and you had a recipe for disaster. It was Murray who, when confronted by a man playing like it was 1989 had his brain freeze. His vaunted (by US and British tennis media) Ivan Lendl had nothing to contribute. For most of the tournament he seemed to be asleep in his front row seat. He played when serve and volley was still fairly common and should’ve been able to give his player some guidance as to what to do. You knew Murray was in trouble when ESPN stopped showing him and began showing Murray’s real, full time coach Jamie Delgado.

One of the things I’ve said over my years of doing this blog is that a soft draw does not a champion make. Murray has had a lot of soft draws lately and this one was no different. When you’ve been phoning it in for your early round matches it’s hard to kick it up a notch when facing someone you’ve rarely seen play and who was not considered a threat by you or your team. Sometimes it’s better to have to face the players who are going to give you a hard time early instead of tennis version of the “bum of the week” from the world of boxing.

Both number one’s are out now and it’s interesting seeing the mental gymnastics the so called tennis pundits are putting themselves through. The US spring hard court swing is looming large now. Will it confirm 2017 as the “Year of Living Dangerously” for top players? Will older fan favorites be able to reassert themselves? Will new jacks, sorry, Next Gen players be able to step up? Did Nishikork Kei take a shower during his match last night? Enquiring minds want to know you know.

©SavannahsWorld 2017. All Rights Reserved

The Championships 2016

by Savannah

The Yawn, I mean Lawn Tennis season such as it is is drawing to a close. The Championships- Wimbledon begin on Monday June 27. The draws have been released and those who play suicide pools and racquet brackets have made their choices. So it’s okay to look at the draws from a slightly different perspective.

The draw for any tennis tournament is predictive. It tells you that based on prior performance the players are ranked in terms of how they should perform at the event. It’s a simplistic view but that is what a draw is. The implications of a draw are something else again. Bottom line it’s a snapshot not only of where players are at a fixed point in time but also their value to their respective tour(s). Your top player is your most valuable player, the face of your sport. He or she is the person who comes to mind when fans, casual or obsessed, think of the sport. Ironically for both current number one’s, for different reasons, are problematic for their tours.

Now that the woman who has been the face of the tour for several years is suspended for doping you can almost see the flailing in the executive suite trying to find a new face, someone who it can sell to sponsors as the embodiment of women’s tennis. Stung by the all blond all the time critique from many fans it seems as if Garbiñe Muguruza is leading the pack.The woman who was leading for “next” is suing the WTA and has not been playing well at all. Not much has been said about the suit by tennis journalists (of course I could’ve missed it)since when I see some journalists handles on Twitter I relexively move on, but it’s hard to push someone to the front of the line who hasn’t even bothered to hide her sense of entitlement from fans.

Not that Muguruza is any better. She does seem to have become adept at hiding behind a smiling girly public persona and is now being talked about as the next WTA #1 by none other than Chris Evert. By next year her former coaches comments about her ego will only be mentioned in the context of sour grapes from a man who was shoved aside as a player made moves to get the best coaching available.

So what’s the matter with the current WTA #1? She has dominated the tour, is the top earning female athlete on the planet, has been a great ambassador for her sport, and aside from one outburst that caused a lot of folks to over react has maintained an excellent public persona. But “she doesn’t look like a tennis player”. What does that mean? It means she’s not lithe, rail thin, white and blonde so for some that means she can never be the official face of tennis. I think in the face of current politics both in Europe and the United States it’s necessary to speak clearly. Even if she makes history there will always be a mental asterisk next to her name for some. That tennis is willing to help promote a woman who doped for ten years tells you how much the image of a female tennis player is based on nothing more complex than race.

Having said all that let’s look at the WTA draw.

WILLIAMS, Serena USA [1] vs SADIKOVIC, Amra SUI (Q)
MCHALE, Christina USA vs HANTUCHOVA, Daniela SVK (W)
WATSON, Heather GBR vs BECK, Annika GER
SASNOVICH, Aliaksandra BLR vs MLADENOVIC, Kristina FRA [31]

STEPHENS, Sloane USA [18] vs PENG, Shuai CHN
MINELLA, Mandy LUX (Q) vs TATISHVILI, Anna USA
MOORE, Tara GBR (W) vs VAN UYTVANCK, Alison BEL
WOZNIACKI, Caroline DEN vs KUZNETSOVA, Svetlana RUS [13]

BACSINSZKY, Timea SUI [11] vs KUMKHUM, Luksika THA (Q)
NICULESCU, Monica ROU vs KRUNIC, Aleksandra SRB (Q)
PUTINTSEVA, Yulia KAZ vs MELNIKOVA, Marina RUS (W)
HSIEH, Su-Wei TPE vs PAVLYUCHENKOVA, Anastasia RUS [21]

VANDEWEGHE, Coco USA [27] vs BONDARENKO, Kateryna UKR
SWAN, Katie GBR (W) vs BABOS, Timea HUN
PLISKOVA, Kristyna CZE vs DUAN, Ying-Ying CHN (L)
RISKE, Alison USA vs VINCI, Roberta ITA [6]

RADWANSKA, Agnieszka POL [3] vs KOZLOVA, Kateryna UKR
KNAPP, Karin ITA vs KONJUH, Ana CRO
PARMENTIER, Pauline FRA vs SINIAKOVA, Katerina CZE
BUYUKAKCAY, Cagla TUR vs GARCIA, Caroline FRA [30]

CIBULKOVA, Dominika SVK [19] vs LUCIC-BARONI, Mirjana CRO
GAVRILOVA, Daria AUS vs WANG, Qiang CHN
BOUCHARD, Eugenie CAN vs RYBARIKOVA, Magdalena SVK
PUIG, Monica PUR vs KONTA, Johanna GBR [16]

KVITOVA, Petra CZE [10] vs CIRSTEA, Sorana ROU
MAKAROVA, Ekaterina RUS vs LARSSON, Johanna SWE
RODINA, Evgeniya RUS (W) vs TSURENKO, Lesia UKR
KONTAVEIT, Anett EST vs STRYCOVA, Barbora CZE [24]

PETKOVIC, Andrea GER [32] vs HIBINO, Nao JPN
VESNINA, Elena RUS vs PASZEK, Tamira AUT (Q)
BOSERUP, Julia USA (Q) vs MARIA, Tatjana GER (Q)
PIRONKOVA, Tsvetana BUL vs BENCIC, Belinda SUI [7]

To get through to the quarters Serena will potentially face several players who have given her trouble either recently or in the past. Those who have not troubled her in the past(Watson, McHale, Mladenovic) are very thirsty (Beck, Sasnovich). Hantuchova is the odd one out here (her head to head with Serena is 9-1 in Serena’s favor).

Sloane Stephens (Did she play a warm up event? I don’t think so) got a walking Bye facing Peng Shuai in her first round match. Peng is coming bac from injury and while she played a warm up looked rusty. Still the H2H between the two is 2-1 in Peng’s favor.

Wozniacki vs Kuznetova is potentially a good match. The head to head is close (6-5 in Woz’s favor) and both have a lot to prove. Sveta, when she wants to play, is dangerous and has the potential to go deep in the draw. Woz just hasn’t looked ready to me. She’s coming off of injury too and Sveta can either romp or limp off the court.

Bacsinszky runs hot and cold to me. She faces another walking Bye first round in Kumkhun. In fact on paper there is no one in her section that can pose a problem for her until she meets Pavs, who is having a lackluster year.

Coco Vandeweghe has been the big story for US tennis this spring/summer. She’s only shown her butt once during grass court season which is a miracle for her. Timea Babos will be a tough out for her and if she passes that test she could face Roberta Vinci, another tough out.

Aga Radwanska’s section should see her facing either Garcia or Buyukakcay. Should she make it through? Some will say yes. She can beat everyone in that section but someone can also push her hard.

Continuing with the bottom half of the top half of the draw there is Johanna Konta’s section with Domi Cibulkova as the other seed. Bouchard, Gavrilova (I’m not impressed) and Puig (I could be impressed) are in that part of the draw with Lucic-Baroni having the potential to wreak some havoc if she’s focused and keeps her wits about her. Cibulkova just won Eastbourne so her performance will depend on when she has to play.

Will Kvitova face her countrywoman Strycova? Petra has to win her matches in two sets. She’s looked worn out when a match has gone three. Tsurenko and Makarova are the women who could crash the party.

In the Petko/Bencic section anyone can win. Bencic has been struggling with injury and Petkovic just doesn’t seem ready to me. That’s the only section I’d call a toss up from the top half.

HALEP, Simona ROU [5] vs SCHMIEDLOVA, Anna Karolina SVK
SEVASTOVA, Anastasija LAT vs SCHIAVONE, Francesca ITA
KOVINIC, Danka MNE vs BARTHEL, Mona GER
OSTAPENKO, Jelena LAT vs BERTENS, Kiki NED [26]

ERRANI, Sara ITA [20] vs TIG, Patricia Maria ROU
CORNET, Alize FRA vs HERCOG, Polona SLO
GIBBS, Nicole USA vs FLIPKENS, Kirsten BEL
SIEGEMUND, Laura GER vs KEYS, Madison USA [9]

PLISKOVA, Karolina CZE [15] vs WICKMAYER, Yanina BEL
DOI, Misaki JPN vs CHIRICO, Louisa USA
DIYAS, Zarina KAZ vs FRIEDSAM, Anna-Lena GER
ALEXANDROVA, Ekaterina RUS (Q) vs IVANOVIC, Ana SRB [23]

BEGU, Irina-Camelia ROU [25] vs WITTHOEFT, Carina GER
NARA, Kurumi JPN vs BRENGLE, Madison USA
PEREIRA, Teliana BRA vs LEPCHENKO, Varvara USA
ROBSON, Laura GBR (W) vs KERBER, Angelique GER [4]

WILLIAMS, Venus USA [8] vs VEKIC, Donna CRO
ZHENG, Saisai CHN vs SAKKARI, Maria GRE (Q)
ARRUABARRENA, Lara ESP vs GOVORTSOVA, Olga BLR
DUVAL, Victoria USA vs KASATKINA, Daria RUS [29]

JANKOVIC, Jelena SRB [22] vs VOEGELE, Stefanie SUI
FALCONI, Irina USA vs ERAKOVIC, Marina NZL (Q)
GASPARYAN, Margarita RUS vs ALLERTOVA, Denisa CZE
ZHANG, Shuai CHN vs SUAREZ NAVARRO, Carla ESP [12]

STOSUR, Samantha AUS [14] vs LINETTE, Magda POL
LISICKI, Sabine GER vs ROGERS, Shelby USA
SHVEDOVA, Yaroslava KAZ vs GOERGES, Julia GER
BROADY, Naomi GBR vs SVITOLINA, Elina UKR [17]

SAFAROVA, Lucie CZE [28] vs MATTEK-SANDS, Bethanie USA
CRAWFORD, Samantha USA vs KANIA, Paula POL (Q)
CEPELOVA, Jana SVK (Q) vs DUQUE-MARINO, Mariana COL
GIORGI, Camila ITA vs MUGURUZA, Garbine ESP [2]

Halep. Bertens. Barthel(?) AKS was looked at as being one of the next big things but has played like anything but recently. Ostapenko vs Bertens should be a barn burner. Bertens just won a title and Ostapenko, no matter how you feel about her, has shown she can if she wants to and stays focused. Halep should have to face either her or Bertens to make it out of that section but Halep isn’t a sure thing anymore.

I’m looking forward to Keys vs Siegemund. We know the potential Keys has. We also know that if her opponent oesn’t let her do what she wants she falls apart. Siegemund will not let her have her way without a fight.

Angelique Kerber should have no problems making it out of her section.

I always want Venus to do well but she’s not a sure thing anymore. On paper Vekic has nothing to beat her with but Venus health trumps everything else. A loss to Vekic would be devastating but any and everything is in the realm of possibility.

I’d really like to see Duval get a first round win but Kasatkina is a tough out.

JJ/CSN section = tossup

Stosur/Svitolina? Shelby Rogers?

And finally Mugu’s section. She should win her first round and romp over anyone else. If Venus loses early there is no one who can stop her getting to the quarters. If she makes another final here the PR machine will go into overdrive.

I didn’t forget the ATP draw.

DJOKOVIC, Novak SRB [1] vs WARD, James GBR (W)
EDMUND, Kyle GBR vs MANNARINO, Adrian FRA
BELLUCCI, Thomaz BRA vs BEMELMANS, Ruben BEL (Q)
ROSOL, Lukas CZE vs QUERREY, Sam USA [28]

KOHLSCHREIBER, Philipp GER [21] vs HERBERT, Pierre-Hugues FRA
DZUMHUR, Damir BIH vs KUDLA, Denis USA
KLEIN, Brydan GBR (W) vs MAHUT, Nicolas FRA
SELA, Dudi ISR vs FERRER, David ESP [13]

GOFFIN, David BEL [11] vs WARD, Alexander GBR (W)
ROGER-VASSELIN, Edouard FRA (Q) vs GABASHVILI, Teymuraz RUS
ALMAGRO, Nicolas ESP vs DUTRA SILVA, Rogerio BRA
ISTOMIN, Denis UZB vs ANDERSON, Kevin RSA [20]

SOCK, Jack USA [27] vs GULBIS, Ernests LAT
SCHWARTZMAN, Diego ARG vs HAASE, Robin NED
SEPPI, Andreas ITA vs GARCIA-LOPEZ, Guillermo ESP
CARRENO BUSTA, Pablo ESP vs RAONIC, Milos CAN [6]

FEDERER, Roger SUI [3] vs PELLA, Guido ARG
BERANKIS, Ricardas LTU vs WILLIS, Marcus GBR (Q)
EVANS, Daniel GBR vs STRUFF, Jan-Lennard GER
DONSKOY, Evgeny RUS vs DOLGOPOLOV, Alexandr UKR [30]

MONFILS, Gael FRA [17] vs CHARDY, Jeremy FRA
JAZIRI, Malek TUN vs JOHNSON, Steve USA
FRATANGELO, Bjorn USA (Q) vs DIMITROV, Grigor BUL
TIPSAREVIC, Janko SRB vs SIMON, Gilles FRA [16]

CILIC, Marin CRO [9] vs BAKER, Brian USA
STAKHOVSKY, Sergiy UKR vs NISHIOKA, Yoshihito JPN (Q)
LORENZI, Paolo ITA vs LACKO, Lukas SVK (Q)
CORIC, Borna CRO vs KARLOVIC, Ivo CRO [23]

CUEVAS, Pablo URU [29] vs KUZNETSOV, Andrey RUS
GIRALDO, Santiago COL vs MULLER, Gilles LUX
BENNETEAU, Julien FRA vs MARCHENKO, Illya UKR
GROTH, Sam AUS vs NISHIKORI, Kei JPN [5]

Bottom Half

THIEM, Dominic AUT [8] vs MAYER, Florian GER
VESELY, Jiri CZE vs SIJSLING, Igor NED (Q)
SAVILLE, Luke AUS (Q) vs NOVIKOV, Dennis USA (Q)
TURSUNOV, Dmitry RUS vs SOUSA, Joao POR [31]

ZVEREV, Alexander GER [24] vs MATHIEU, Paul-Henri FRA
ZEBALLOS, Horacio ARG vs YOUZHNY, Mikhail RUS
BECKER, Benjamin GER vs BAGNIS, Facundo ARG
DODIG, Ivan CRO vs BERDYCH, Tomas CZE [10]

BAUTISTA AGUT, Roberto ESP [14] vs THOMPSON, Jordan AUS
KUKUSHKIN, Mikhail KAZ vs KLIZAN, Martin SVK
ELIAS, Gastao POR vs ALBOT, Radu MDA (Q)
VERDASCO, Fernando ESP vs TOMIC, Bernard AUS [19]

POUILLE, Lucas FRA [32] vs COPIL, Marius ROU (Q)
YOUNG, Donald USA vs MAYER, Leonardo ARG
ROBERT, Stephane FRA vs DEL POTRO, Juan Martin ARG
FRITZ, Taylor USA vs WAWRINKA, Stan SUI [4]

GASQUET, Richard FRA [7] vs BEDENE, Aljaz GBR
GRANOLLERS, Marcel ESP vs ESTRELLA BURGOS, Victor DOM
POSPISIL, Vasek CAN vs RAMOS-VINOLAS, Albert ESP
LAMASINE, Tristan FRA (Q) vs TROICKI, Viktor SRB [25]

ISNER, John USA [18] vs BAGHDATIS, Marcos CYP
OLIVETTI, Albano FRA (Q) vs BARTON, Matthew AUS (Q)
DANIEL, Taro JPN vs MONACO, Juan ARG
CERVANTES, Inigo ESP vs TSONGA, Jo-Wilfried FRA [12]

KYRGIOS, Nick AUS [15] vs STEPANEK, Radek CZE (W)
LAJOVIC, Dusan SRB vs BROWN, Dustin GER (W)
DELBONIS, Federico ARG vs FOGNINI, Fabio ITA
RAM, Rajeev USA vs LOPEZ, Feliciano ESP [22]

PAIRE, Benoit FRA [26] vs SKUGOR, Franko CRO (Q)
MILLMAN, John AUS vs MONTANES, Albert ESP
LU, Yen-Hsun TPE vs KUDRYAVTSEV, Alexander RUS (Q)
BROADY, Liam GBR (W) vs MURRAY, Andy GBR [2]

The top half of the draw, while not as ridiculous as the Roland Garros draw, is still set up for one result. There are some interesting players in the bottom half of the draw though.

Thiem. Alexander Zverev. RBA. All of these players are in the top part of the bottom half of the draw. So are Berdych and Wawrinka. The bottom part of the bottom half with one exception is pretty soft. Will Murray have to play Kyrgios? We’ll see. Those pics of Kyrgios drinking out of a hip flask don’t instill confidence.

Still this is Wimbledon. The US and English tennis journalists make this, along with the US Open, and a lesser extent Melbourne their raison d’être so every result will be looked at as oracle’s of the future. The US will be looking for decent results from Sock (vs Gulbis first round), Fritz (vs Wawrinka first round), and Isner (vs Baghdatis first round).

Sadly, or some would say purposely, Roger Federer, who is more of a danger to Murray than he is to Djokovic, is in the bottom half of the top half of the draw. The other seed in his section is Dolgopolov. Federer usually gets a cake walk to the quarters but once out of his section there are some men who could potentially do some harm if they weren’t coming off of injury.

The men’s draw is set up for one specific purpose and unless something drastic happens there’s no reason the people who set up the draw not to get what they want.

©SavannahsTennis 2016 All Rights Reserved

2016 Roland Garros: The Worst Ever

by Savannah

AP Christophe Ena photo 04a6034f-ec25-459f-9807-d53eb1e019a3_zpssjdkzrkj.jpg
via AP/Christophe Ena

Let me be clear. I’m only going to touch on the players if what happened to them bears on the general management of the tournament. Which, as the title of this post says, was abysmal.

There is nothing anyone can do about the weather. Anyone who cared to check knew that the rain that ended up flooding Paris and its environs, was going to affect play. How the Tournament Director, Guy Forget, handled the problem would show his ability, and biases, to the tennis world. It’s bad enough that Roland Garros has the worst website of any Slam. It doesn’t matter if you use a PC, MAC, or a mobile device the web site sucks. But in the long run that’s an issue that can easily be corrected if more than cursory attention is given to the site.

Roland Garros website is also the only one where player interviews are not easily accessible. The big shots of tennis journalism saw to that. They felt that with the proliferation of bloggers and information on line their jobs were in danger so interviews are hidden away somewhere on that site that I frankly don’t have the inclination to search for. I shouldn’t have to. I’ll be back to the ITWA later.

But back to the rain and Forget’s management of it.

Kudo’s to the tournament for canceling play early and putting ticket holders who bought their tickets from RG at the head of the line for next years ticket sale.

As for the players it was obvious from Forget’s comments that he didn’t give a rat’s ass about the WTA. His entire focus was on the ATP. When asked how the washout would affect play he responded “If players need to play two matches in two days,” Forget said, “I guess the guy who is more fit will win.” He also said that no ATP player would have to play more than two days in a row. Meanwhile the top half of the WTA draw had to play four straight days up to and including the Final. The option of moving the Women’s final to Sunday was never publicly considered. Still, when it came to scheduling the women were scheduled after the men, who would have an extra day, Saturday, to rest and prepare for a Sunday Final. I’m nit picking? Don’t the women only play best of three? It shouldn’t matter if they have to play four days straight right? It’s the men who play best of five and would suffer the most right?

The ATP seems to look for ways to diminish the woman’s game. The only male who was having issues with his early rounds was Andy Murray who had a draw that while not as much of a cakewalk as the ATP #1’s draw on paper was not that difficult. But the argument about the best of five men’s format always wins at Slams.

Anyway there was a significant delay on Tuesday, May 31 (Day 10) which saw the Order of Play changed twice. The first revision showed the women scheduled up first. Then it was changed and the men, including the ATP #1, saw their matches scheduled ahead of the women again before all matches were cancelled. On Day 11 the women were up first again. And the top half of the draw began it’s long march towards the Final that completed about an hour before I started this post. While all of this was going on there wasn’t one word from WTA management. It’s new head, Steve Simon, has only stirred himself to comment on how he feels about admitted doper Maria Sharapova. His players being treated like second class citizens didn’t appear to bother him in the least.

Bad Behavior

Try as they might TPTB of men’s tennis can’t cover up the true personality of their current top player. The two incidents that occurred during his match against his pigeon Tomas Berdych were eye opening and could’ve resulted in serious injury to a linesperson. The official line became that the blind racquet toss made by the #1 was a slip, that the racquet slipped out of his hand and without the agility of the linesman involved would’ve meant he’d have to be disqualified. I’m not sure you can still find the video online since the person who originally posted it got upset at fan reaction to what looked to be an intentional throw of the racquet.

I wonder what David Nalbandian and Guillermo Coria thought about the non action taken against the ATP #1? We know what would’ve happened if say Nick Kyrgios had done the same thing.

The other incident was during the same match. The ATP #1 was actually being pressed by Berdych and slipped on the court. He immediately asked for the match to be suspended. The chair, Eva Moore, didn’t do what he wanted as he went to his seat and began to pack up his things. Berdych took up the argument with Moore and as the tournament official walked on court the ATP #1 walked off court. The official told Berdych to step inside the tunnel for about five minutes until the shower passed. The other men’s match, between David Goffin and Dominic Thiem, continued on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

 

End Notes

There’s been a lot of criticism of Marion Bartoli for revealing that Serena Williams was suffering from an adductor injury. “Betrayal of the locker room” seems to be the going reason for condemning Bartoli’s “faux pas”. Serena is the WTA #1. An adductor injury is going to affect her movement and ability to put some heft behind her shots as well as how she serves. Yet Marion is being raked over the coals for revealing the injury. If the ATP #1 was carrying a comparable injury wouldn’t it be made public?

Those of us who have followed Venus Williams and Serena Williams over the years know they are very reluctant to reveal injuries. They’ve gotten better in recent years but Venus has been wearing a wrap on her thigh for quite some time. Serena’s wrap was hidden under the leggings she wore against the chill in Paris.

It seems to me that the criticism of Bartoli is coming from the ITWA members who want to keep a stranglehold on access to and information about tennis players. Don’t get me wrong I get it. You can’t have fanboys and girls running rampant in the locker room. By the same token you can’t have a stranglehold on information that fans want to read. Tennis is the only sport that gives the reporters who ask questions at pressers complete anonymity. No other sport does that. It’s time for tennis to get away from the country club mentality and find a way to open the flow of information to fans. David Goffin had a press conference after a win this week where only one question – one – was asked in English. As a fan I want to know more about him but the US press is content to continue to write about him as if he is an international man of mystery.

Not all bloggers are fanboys and girls. It’s time to stop punishing those who are working hard to get information to fans without compromising professionalism.

©SavannahsWorld 2016 All Rights Reserved

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

by Savannah

It’s no secret. For those of you who have been reading me for a long time you know that I love, no, that I’m fanatical about clay court tennis. A player has to be able to pose questions and if he or she doesn’t like the answer rephrase it and throw it back at his or her opponent. Conversations can be long with a lot of different tangents and changes of subject. It requires patience and constant vigilance. A slight break of concentration can cause not only a game but a match.

Not every player, or every fan for that matter, is temperamentally suited to clay court tennis and that’s fine. While my favorite surface is clay I can appreciate the aesthetics of hard court and grass court tennis. It’s a different way of thinking and each surface demands a different skill set from a player.

But on Sunday the Grand Slam event dedicated to perfection on the terre battue as it’s called in France begins so enough of my blathering. Below are the mens singles main draw and the women’s singles main draw.

 

ATP Main Draw

DJOKOVIC, Novak SRB [1] vs LU, Yen-Hsun TPE
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs QUALIFIER, (Q)
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs BEDENE, Aljaz GBR
CARRENO BUSTA, Pablo ESP vs DELBONIS, Federico ARG [31]

TOMIC, Bernard AUS [20] vs BAKER, Brian USA
CORIC, Borna CRO vs FRITZ, Taylor USA
MATHIEU, Paul-Henri FRA vs GIRALDO, Santiago COL
TURSUNOV, Dmitry RUS vs BAUTISTA AGUT, Roberto ESP [14]

FERRER, David ESP [11] vs DONSKOY, Evgeny RUS
ISTOMIN, Denis UZB vs MONACO, Juan ARG
ESTRELLA BURGOS, Victor DOM vs MARCHENKO, Illya UKR
JOHNSON, Steve USA vs LOPEZ, Feliciano ESP [21]

CUEVAS, Pablo URU [25] vs QUALIFIER, (Q)
CHUNG, Hyeon KOR vs HALYS, Quentin FRA (W)
JAZIRI, Malek TUN vs MAYER, Florian GER
POSPISIL, Vasek CAN vs BERDYCH, Tomas CZE [7]

NADAL, Rafael ESP [4] vs GROTH, Sam AUS
BAGNIS, Facundo ARG vs QUALIFIER, (Q)
MAHUT, Nicolas FRA vs BERANKIS, Ricardas LTU
GRANOLLERS, Marcel ESP vs FOGNINI, Fabio ITA [32]

ANDERSON, Kevin RSA [18] vs ROBERT, Stephane FRA (W)
ZVEREV, Alexander GER vs HERBERT, Pierre-Hugues FRA
DE BAKKER, Thiemo NED vs GARCIA-LOPEZ, Guillermo ESP
CERVANTES, Inigo ESP vs THIEM, Dominic AUT [13]

GOFFIN, David BEL [12] vs BARRERE, Gregoire FRA (W)
LORENZI, Paolo ITA vs QUALIFIER, (Q)
RAM, Rajeev USA vs VESELY, Jiri CZE
ALMAGRO, Nicolas ESP vs KOHLSCHREIBER, Philipp GER [24]

SOUSA, Joao POR [26] vs DZUMHUR, Damir BIH
SEPPI, Andreas ITA vs GULBIS, Ernests LAT
MULLER, Gilles LUX vs BAGHDATIS, Marcos CYP
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs TSONGA, Jo-Wilfried FRA [6]

RAONIC, Milos CAN [8] vs TIPSAREVIC, Janko SRB
KUKUSHKIN, Mikhail KAZ vs MANNARINO, Adrian FRA
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs MUNOZ DE LA NAVA, Daniel ESP
BENNETEAU, Julien FRA (W) vs POUILLE, Lucas FRA [29]

SOCK, Jack USA [23] vs HAASE, Robin NED
SELA, Dudi ISR vs QUALIFIER, (Q)
RAMOS-VINOLAS, Albert ESP vs ZEBALLOS, Horacio ARG
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs CILIC, Marin CRO [10]

SIMON, Gilles FRA [16] vs DUTRA SILVA, Rogerio BRA
SCHWARTZMAN, Diego ARG vs PELLA, Guido ARG
LAJOVIC, Dusan SRB vs KUDLA, Denis USA
DIMITROV, Grigor BUL vs TROICKI, Viktor SRB [22]

CHARDY, Jeremy FRA [30] vs MAYER, Leonardo ARG
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs QUALIFIER, (Q)
KLIZAN, Martin SVK vs DANIEL, Taro JPN
ROSOL, Lukas CZE vs WAWRINKA, Stan SUI [3]

NISHIKORI, Kei JPN [5] vs BOLELLI, Simone ITA
KUZNETSOV, Andrey RUS vs BECKER, Benjamin GER
DODIG, Ivan CRO vs YOUZHNY, Mikhail RUS
VERDASCO, Fernando ESP vs DOLGOPOLOV, Alexandr UKR [28]

KYRGIOS, Nick AUS [17] vs CECCHINATO, Marco ITA
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs QUALIFIER, (Q)
QUERREY, Sam USA vs FRATANGELO, Bjorn USA (W)
BELLUCCI, Thomaz BRA vs GASQUET, Richard FRA [9]

ISNER, John USA [15] vs MILLMAN, John AUS
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs EDMUND, Kyle GBR
GABASHVILI, Teymuraz RUS vs YOUNG, Donald USA
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs PAIRE, Benoit FRA [19]

KARLOVIC, Ivo CRO [27] vs MONTANES, Albert ESP
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs THOMPSON, Jordan AUS (W)
BOURGUE, Mathias FRA (W) vs QUALIFIER, (Q)
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs MURRAY, Andy GBR [2]

I think this draw speaks for itself so there isn’t much to say about it that it doesn’t say.

WTA Main Draw

WILLIAMS, Serena USA [1] vs RYBARIKOVA, Magdalena SVK
PEREIRA, Teliana BRA vs PLISKOVA, Kristyna CZE
CRAWFORD, Samantha USA vs BABOS, Timea HUN
SCHIAVONE, Francesca ITA vs MLADENOVIC, Kristina FRA [26]

SVITOLINA, Elina UKR [18] vs QUALIFIER, (Q)
TOWNSEND, Taylor USA (W) vs HESSE, Amandine FRA (W)
NARA, Kurumi JPN vs ALLERTOVA, Denisa CZE
DODIN, Oceane FRA (W) vs IVANOVIC, Ana SRB [14]

SUAREZ NAVARRO, Carla ESP [12] vs QUALIFIER, (Q)
WANG, Qiang CHN vs ANDRIANJAFITRIMO, Tessah FRA (W)
RODIONOVA, Arina AUS (W) vs KONJUH, Ana CRO
ZHENG, Saisai CHN vs CIBULKOVA, Dominika SVK [22]

PETKOVIC, Andrea GER [28] vs ROBSON, Laura GBR
PUTINTSEVA, Yulia KAZ vs WOZNIAK, Aleksandra CAN
SEVASTOVA, Anastasija LAT vs QUALIFIER, (Q)
KNAPP, Karin ITA vs AZARENKA, Victoria BLR [5]

KERBER, Angelique GER [3] vs BERTENS, Kiki NED
LIM, Alize FRA (W) vs GIORGI, Camila ITA
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs RAZZANO, Virginie FRA (W)
FRIEDSAM, Anna-Lena GER vs KASATKINA, Daria RUS [29]

KONTA, Johanna GBR [20] vs GOERGES, Julia GER
PUIG, Monica PUR vs GOVORTSOVA, Olga BLR
GAVRILOVA, Daria AUS vs DUQUE-MARINO, Mariana COL
VEKIC, Donna CRO vs KEYS, Madison USA [15]

WILLIAMS, Venus USA [9] vs KONTAVEIT, Anett EST
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs DAVIS, Lauren USA
CORNET, Alize FRA vs FLIPKENS, Kirsten BEL
MARIA, Tatjana GER vs JANKOVIC, Jelena SRB [23]

NICULESCU, Monica ROU [31] vs PARMENTIER, Pauline FRA
FALCONI, Irina USA vs BARTHEL, Mona GER
SIEGEMUND, Laura GER vs BOUCHARD, Eugenie CAN
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs BACSINSZKY, Timea SUI [8]

VINCI, Roberta ITA [7] vs BONDARENKO, Kateryna UKR
BECK, Annika GER vs QUALIFIER, (Q)
VANDEWEGHE, Coco USA vs BROADY, Naomi GBR
MATTEK-SANDS, Bethanie USA vs BEGU, Irina-Camelia ROU [25]

PLISKOVA, Karolina CZE [17] vs ROGERS, Shelby USA
VESNINA, Elena RUS vs BRENGLE, Madison USA
ARRUABARRENA, Lara ESP vs HSIEH, Su-Wei TPE
KOVINIC, Danka MNE vs KVITOVA, Petra CZE [10]

KUZNETSOVA, Svetlana RUS [13] vs SHVEDOVA, Yaroslava KAZ
GIBBS, Nicole USA vs WATSON, Heather GBR
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs SASNOVICH, Aliaksandra BLR
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs PAVLYUCHENKOVA, Anastasia RUS [24]

MAKAROVA, Ekaterina RUS [27] vs LEPCHENKO, Varvara USA
WICKMAYER, Yanina BEL vs DULGHERU, Alexandra ROU
GEORGES, Myrtille FRA (W) vs MCHALE, Christina USA
SCHMIEDLOVA, Anna Karolina SVK vs MUGURUZA, Garbine ESP [4]

HALEP, Simona ROU [6] vs HIBINO, Nao JPN
DIYAS, Zarina KAZ vs WITTHOEFT, Carina GER
LUCIC-BARONI, Mirjana CRO vs QUALIFIER, (Q)
OSAKA, Naomi JPN vs OSTAPENKO, Jelena LAT [32]

STOSUR, Samantha AUS [21] vs DOI, Misaki JPN
ZHANG, Shuai CHN vs VOSKOBOEVA, Galina KAZ
RISKE, Alison USA vs QUALIFIER, (Q)
DIATCHENKO, Vitalia RUS vs SAFAROVA, Lucie CZE [11]

ERRANI, Sara ITA [16] vs PIRONKOVA, Tsvetana BUL
LARSSON, Johanna SWE vs LINETTE, Magda POL
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs LISICKI, Sabine GER
GASPARYAN, Margarita RUS vs STEPHENS, Sloane USA [19]

STRYCOVA, Barbora CZE [30] vs QUALIFIER, (Q)
HERCOG, Polona SLO vs DOMINGUEZ LINO, Lourdes ESP
TSURENKO, Lesia UKR vs GARCIA, Caroline FRA
JOVANOVSKI, Bojana SRB vs RADWANSKA, Agnieszka POL [2]

In both draws the seeds are pretty well protected with an exception or two.
Once again we see a wide open bottom half of the women’s draw while the top half is truly a war.

I’m that person who has said for years that draws weren’t as random as we’d like to think they are. I’ve also been severely criticized for saying that. Imagine my laughter when someone on Tennis Twitter said this morning that it’s time for the ATP and WTA to find a new seeding mechanism when he saw the ATP draw. Ironic isn’t it?

There’s no nonsensical Middle Sunday break in Paris but the weather forecast is not good. Play will start with the bottom half of both draws on Sunday. Sit back, relax and enjoy the tennis. I’ll check back in as needed before the first week is completed. Otherwise I’ll be back on Middle Sunday.

© 2016 Savannahs World All rights reserved