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

AO 2018 Women’s Final: Halep vs Wozniacki

by Savannah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End Note

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

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

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

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

© 2018 Savannahs World Tennis All Rights Reserved

2018 AO This and That Part 3

by Savannah

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Sandgren Problem

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

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

Long story short” it ain’t happening.

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

The WTA RAce for Number One

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


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


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


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


W; Wozniacki doesn’t reach the final

I’m excited. Aren’t you?

© 2018 Savannash Tennis World All Rights Reserved

2018 AO This and That Part 2

by Savannah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End Notes

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

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

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

©2018 Savannah’s World Tennis All Rights Reserved

2018 AO This and That

by Savannah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End Notes

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

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

© 2018 Savannahs World Tennis All Rights Reserved

Well That Was Awkward

by Savannah

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

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

McDonald ✅

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End Notes

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

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

©2018 Savannahs World Tennis All rights reserved except where indicated

The Rear View Mirror – The 2017 WTA

by Savannah

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

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


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

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

WTA Tour Finals
REUTERS/Jeremy Lee

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

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

The year end top ten rankings are as follows:

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

End Notes

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

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

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

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

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