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

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

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

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.

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
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)

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
BUYUKAKCAY, Cagla TUR vs GARCIA, Caroline FRA [30]

CIBULKOVA, Dominika SVK [19] vs LUCIC-BARONI, Mirjana CRO
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

ERRANI, Sara ITA [20] vs TIG, Patricia Maria ROU
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
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)
DUVAL, Victoria USA vs KASATKINA, Daria RUS [29]

JANKOVIC, Jelena SRB [22] vs VOEGELE, Stefanie SUI

STOSUR, Samantha AUS [14] vs LINETTE, Magda POL
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)
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)
ROSOL, Lukas CZE vs QUERREY, Sam USA [28]

KOHLSCHREIBER, Philipp GER [21] vs HERBERT, Pierre-Hugues FRA
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)
ISTOMIN, Denis UZB vs ANDERSON, Kevin RSA [20]

SOCK, Jack USA [27] vs GULBIS, Ernests LAT
SEPPI, Andreas ITA vs GARCIA-LOPEZ, Guillermo ESP

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
TIPSAREVIC, Janko SRB vs SIMON, Gilles FRA [16]

CILIC, Marin CRO [9] vs BAKER, Brian USA
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

Bottom Half

THIEM, Dominic AUT [8] vs MAYER, Florian GER
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
BECKER, Benjamin GER vs BAGNIS, Facundo ARG
DODIG, Ivan CRO vs BERDYCH, Tomas CZE [10]

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
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)
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)
RAM, Rajeev USA vs LOPEZ, Feliciano ESP [22]

PAIRE, Benoit FRA [26] vs SKUGOR, Franko CRO (Q)
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.

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