This and That

The Weekend That Was

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2017 Savannahs World All Rights Reserved

The Rear View Mirror: 2017 US Open

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2017 Savannah World All Rights Reserved

It’s Happened

by Savannah

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

Short answer: No.

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

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

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

©2017 Savannahs World Tennis All rights reserved

This And That: 2017 US Open

by Savannah

For shame.

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

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

For shame USTA. For shame.

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

There’s nothing more to say about it.

The Future Is Now

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

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

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

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

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

The US Open Series

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

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

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

The Draws

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

ATP Singles Main Draw

TOP HALF

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Half

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WTA Singles Main Draw

Top Half

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Half

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Rear View Mirror: Wimbledon 2017

by Savannah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Champions

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

©2017 Savannah’s World All Rights Reserved

Pausing For Breath – Middle Sunday

by Savannah

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

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

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

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

End Notes

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

Yeah, keep the sound down.

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

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

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

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

©2017 Savannahs World All Rights Reserved

The View From Here: Wimbledon 2017

by Savannah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2017 Savannahs World Tennis All Rights Reserved