This and That

by Savannah

It’s no secret Taylor Fritz is the current fair haired boy in US tennis circles. He’s tall, with dark good looks, rich and his mother once played at the pro level which automatically gives him an in. Being the chosen one he’s gotten every opportunity to hone his game and develop a following. You can tell by the reverent tones of the comms when talking about him he’s the person the US is tapping for future stardom.

Fritz is playing the CitiOpen in Washington, DC and is scheduled to face Alexander Zverev next round. The match will be a good barometer of where Fritz is at the moment. He won his first round match against Dudi Sela by playing the big points well. It’s a cliché statement but that is what happened. Zverev didn’t look good at all when I last saw him but I’m sure he’ll be up for this match.

Meanwhile Francis Tiafoe, another up and comer,seems to have developed his grown man’s body but he’s still playing Junior level tennis. To say his match against Adrian Mannarino of France was disappointing was an understatement. Tiafoe was up at least a break in both sets and yet managed to lose in straight sets. Every time Tiafoe got a lead he seemed to think his work was done and checked out of the match. Mental lapses like that and his inability to push through to close out sets/matches shows that he needs to play more tennis. He was in the Main Draw via a Wild Card. As someone said a Qualifying Wild Card would’ve been better for him. Of course it’s easy for me to say what he should and shouldn’t be doing. Without the total support of his Federation it would be hard for Tiafoe to travel and play events that would help his game mature. As I said above Taylor Fritz is inhaling all the air and there might not be enough left over for a promising player like Tiafoe. I don’t know. I do know that if Tiafoe isn’t able to lift the level of his play he’s going to join the scrap heap of US mens tennis.

A couple more things about the Citi Open. It seems the women are playing in the hottest part of the day while the men’s featured matches begin after 4p in the afternoon. Does the WTA have no clout at all? Ther were late night women’s matches yesterday because of the weather.

Venus Williams is playing Stanford along with some women who can also be placed in the generation next category.

I watched a match last night between newly minted pro Carol Zhao of Canada and Nicole Gibbs who is popular with the US tennis establishment. I think the phrase du jour is “dumpster fire” to describe a match like this one last night. Early in the first set Zhao had a point she’d set up nicely and came to the net after her shot. The entire court to the right was open. So of course she tried one of those thread the needle passing sots that are so beautiful when they work and horrible when they don’t. It didn’t and despite Gibbs less than stellar efforts it was clear that she would go on and win the match which she did. I know I’m hard on North American players but they lack the one thing European trained players have and that is court sense. They truly don’t know how to construct points (still) or think clearly and consistently on court. It seems adjusting their game if the other player is doing something that stops you from doing what you want doesn’t occur to them. Eugenie Bouchard  inexplicably lost a match to Camila Giorgi this afternoon mainly because she couldn’t adjust to Giorgi’s aggression. It’s really weird to see and makes you wonder if instead of older coaches working with players who have already made names for themselves they’d work with up and coming US/Canadian players. Something is wrong with the level of coaching they’re getting now and no one seems to have a clue what to do about it.

Accountability and Tennis Media

The match presser after a loss has to be one of the worst experiences ever. How would you feel if you were Eugenie Bouchard and someone asked you this question:

“Are you surprised Vika is pregnant? And are you surprised she found someone to be pregnant with?” Actual question to Genie Bouchard in D.C.

Tumaini Carayol posted the question on Twitter without identifying who asked it. The question is insulting on so many levels in my very humble opinion the person who asked the question should be made known. No one ever asked a male player how they managed to romance a woman who looks like a model. Fans may have snarked about how a particular player pulled a particular woman but no one has ever been asked a question with all the assumptions underlying the question about Ms Azarenka.

Tennis is the only sport where there are either no transcripts or transcripts omit the name of the journalist asking the question. Yet tennis wants to be taken seriously. As I type this the “journalist” has not been identified.

©SavannahsTennis 2016 All Rights Reserved

A Look Back and A Glance Forward

by Savannah

A Look Back

Serena Williams won the Ladies crown at Wimbledon. Andy Murray won the gentlemen’s title. One was never in doubt. One was expected but not a sure thing. It wasn’t until after the dust settled that we found out that Serena and her sister Venus Williams were playing through pain and with added determination.

Lakeisha Williams, their father’s wife, announced to the press that her husband had suffered a stroke while his famous daughters were in London. She made it clear that he wanted to be home and that while he had some issues including memory problems he was determined to live as if he were fine and that nothing serious had happened.

Keep in mind it was Lakeisha, not either of his tennis champion daughters, who made the announcement. Left to their own devices the public wouldn’t know Mr. Williams, arguably the best tennis coach of the modern era, had fallen ill. The closest Serena came to saying anything was a Snapchat showing her and chip sitting with her father.

If it had been publicly known that Mr. Williams was ill the women’s title would’ve never been in doubt. Serena dressed and played like the champion she is playing glorious tennis from beginning to end.

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It’s rare to see someone play with little to no physical let down during a Slam, especially when playing both singles and doubles. There were some sketchy moments during doubles – don’t get me wrong – but watching it was clear the sisters were on a mission, Serena saying at one point that she wanted to win the (doubles) title for Venus.

It seems both women went directly from London to their father. I wish them and their family the best and respect the privacy they’ve always surrounded themselves with.

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The winner of the men’s crown was never in doubt especially after the ATP #1 crashed and burned early despite the soft draw he was given. The second softest draw was given to Andy Murray and beating himself would be the only way he was going to lose. He didn’t. The only drama would’ve been if somehow Roger Federer was on his side of the draw and he wasn’t. The US/Canada hype machine wants Milos Raonic to happen but right now he’s not an elite player. He’s not just a serve bot anymore but he’s not a good mover either and he’s not very creative on the court. Can he be? Maybe. He’ll never be as mobile as Alexander Zverev and that could stop he from being truly elite.

It’s for those reasons I didn’t think Murray would lose the final no matter who was coaching him from the booth or court side. In fact one can argue if Murray himself is an elite player or if he would be considered one if he wasn’t a Brit.

Still the Wimbledon 2016 Gentleman’s Final is the first major final I’ve watched in a long time. It was okay. It wasn’t great tennis but Murray didn’t need to be great he just needed to be very good. And he was

A Glance Forward

So where is tennis now? Are there rising stars on both tours?

There is a lot of hype around Dominic Thiem right now. He’s young, photogenic and plays within the parameters that many in the tennis hierarchy find acceptable. I find him incredibly dull but that’s me. I guess I’m missing something especially since when I saw him at the US Open last year he was even duller. I guess that’s an improvement but I don’t think he’s going to set the world on fire although he may play often enough to get close to number one.

Alexander Zverev is also on a lot of people’s radar now. Readers will know that I picked him as one to watch last year. As I mentioned above he’s got movement most big men envy and he’s developed not only court smarts but the ability to innovate that by the numbers players never develop. He’s gotten better if not total control over his emotions on court and that can only be a plus.

Borna Coric seems to be running in place at the moment. To say he’s been unimpressive the last few times I’ve seen him is putting it mildly. He doesn’t seem to have moved his game up a level and at the moment doesn’t seem to know how to. I never advocate coaching changes but it may be time for him to think outside the box and look for another individual who will provide new eyes and thinking for him.

Grigor Dimitrov has become a cautionary tale. If anyone was badly affected by hype it’s him. In my opinion all the “Baby Fed” blather has hindered his development and he’s boxed into a corner that he has no idea how to get out of at the moment. Should he get new a new coaching team? Maybe? I think that he needs to rethink his entire approach to the game and where he fits in as Grigor Dimitrov not as a newer version of Federer.

As for the WTA there is Serena Williams and the rest of ’em. To look at the WTA you have to look below the the top ranked player because as was said during the Ladies Final Serena at her best beats everyone else at their best.

There was a lot of cheering for Angelique Kerber to repeat her Australian Open feat but as we now know Serena was not having it. The last time I saw Kerber live was during a practice session two years ago at the US Open (Qualie Week y’all! It’s FREE!!!) I didn’t like this hitch she had in her serve and to be honest I haven’t paid enough attention to her to see if it’s still there. Also being honest she’s been quiet since the Australian Open.

Agnieszka Radwanska has made no secret that she not only wants but feels she should be number one in the world. She’s dropped to Number Four behind Kerber and Garbiñe Muguruza but there point difference between the three of them is small. Aga needs a draw heavy on wannabe’s to go deep in a tournament. The more experienced players know all about her tricks and how to frustrate her. That doesn’t stop her from trying though and while her matches have featured more offense from her side of the net she still doesn’t have the stamina to get through a long physically demanding match. We all know what she and her coach have said about that. It’s their choice and it will continue to be an issue for her.

Muguruza is a different story. She already thinks she’s an elite player and acts accordingly. The thing is she’s come very close (Roland Garros 2016 champion) but hasn’t grabbed the brass ring yet. In terms of marketing she’s attractive, her name is fun and catchy enough to make a casual fan stop and ask themselves who this woman with the odd name is. But thinking you’re the shit and being the shit are two different things. Being publicly nasty to your coach (thank you WTA for micing on court visits) and as I said carrying yourself as if you’re the top of the heap doesn’t make you the one. Despite what she thinks she’s not that mentally strong. She can look awesome in a given situation but as we saw during Wimbledon Bad Garbiñe is still lurking inside of her. Every player has a “Bad” side. Some know how to work themselves out of her grip and others can’t. (this applies to the men too).
I need to see more consistency, more fight not only at majors but at the titles you think don’t mean much. A win is a win. Winning makes you stronger and the more of it you do the better you play.

Then there are Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova.

I watched a Simona Halep practice session last year and came away thinking that Halep is allergic to the net. Coach Darren Cahill tried to work in about five mintues of net play and to say it was disastrous is putting it mildly. You could see that Halep couldn’t wait to get back to the baseline. But today she bagelled her opponent in Bucharest Anastasija Sevastova who was seeded seventh there. I don’t think there’s any secret about why she’s able to play so well in Romania and meh everywhere else. She’s comfortable at home. She’s never made a secret of that. I get the feeling if it was left to her she’d never leave her country. I don’t think there’s much any coach can do about that. She also has a problem with stamina especially in the heat.

Petra? Or “P3tra” as some of her fans call her? I don’t think she gives a shit. I really don’t. She plays well when she wants to and if she doesn’t so what? I really feel sorry for her fans because I think under the veneer of looking fit she’s really not. The gut is gone but the wandering brain isn’t. We all know she can but doesn’t so the only thing this observer can conclude is that she doesn’t care. Shame.

Wedding Season

Congratulations to Ana Ivanovic and Bastian Schweinsteiger on their wedding.
Congratulations to Flavia Pennetta and Fabio Fognini on their wedding.
Congratulations to Tsvetana Pironkova and former soccer player Mihail Mirchev. PIronkova looked beautiful.

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End Notes

It’s amazing how ignorant of female anatomy some tennis fans are. When Victoria Azarenka announced her pregnancy and that she would be giving birth the end of the year (no month given) there was a lot of talk of an unplanned pregnancy. In the 21st century? Really people? I guess it never occurred to these folks that what was announced as injury could’ve been precautionary due to the early weeks of her pregnancy. As it is it seems she played pregnant if the due date is sometime around December as has been speculated.
The person who loses the most in the scenario is Sascha Bajin who left his previous employer because of the chance he could become a coach and not just a hitting partner. He gambled and lost. I’m sure he’ll find employment somewhere.

A lot of the folks whining about how Azarenka’s pregnancy wreaks havoc with the WTA top ten comes from those who want someone, anyone, to dethrone Serena.

Congratulations to Victoria. I wish her a healthy pregnancy and safe birth.

The summer US hard court season is underway with several big tournaments leading up to the US Open. There’s also a little competition known as the Olympics coming in the middle of what is called the US Open Series. Many mid level players have opted out of the Olympics citing health concerns that have mainly to do with the fact the Olympics isn’t offering points. Fans have pointed out that some of the players who are terrified of an insect born disease in the middle of what is winter in South America played there in the summer (February).
Still, it’s their right to decide what’s best for them and their careers and I don’t think anyone has the right to criticize them. Will there be surprise winners at the Open? I think there will be surprise winners in Canada and Cincy. Everyone should be rested up for the US Open.

©2016 SavannahsWorld All rights reserved except where indicated

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.

©SavannahsTennis 2016 All Rights Reserved


by Savannah

Two years ago I started choosing two up and coming players, one male, one female, to look out for. The first two players were Madison Keys and Alexander Zverev.  Today both of them achieved milestones in their careers and I’m happy to say I picked both of them as potential stars.

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Sky Sports

Two years ago Sascha Zverev was a gangly seventeen year old whose arms and legs seemed to have minds of their own. I had the opportunity to see him live at the US Open and was impressed with his fight as well as his movement. His court sense was that of a seventeen year old – a very talented but raw seventeen year old. He was a far cry from the player I saw today who was able to hold onto his emotions – he is still an emotional player – and keep his focus on the man across the net from him –Roger Federer. Zverev was not intimidated and was able to win a tough first set tiebreak, drop an equally tight second set and come back to win rather easily 6-3 in the third.

Zverev is not only working hard on court. He is visibly bigger than he was two years ago. His quads, while not Berdychian are much stronger. When he goes after a shot out wide he is much more physically co-ordinated; the awkwardness is just about gone.

Watching him today I thought to myself how dangerous he’s going to be when he really gets himself together. I also thanked the powers above that Zverev was trained in Europe and that the USTA didn’t get its hands on him. He is tall and I’m sure they would’ve turned him into a servebot. Instead tennis is going to have a big, mobile player who can construct a point and stay in a rally. And yes he has a good serve. Some will not know how to handle that.

Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe photo b4f04fb5-c49c-4458-9de7-c8f9f95d7087_zpsumcibtuf.jpg
Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe

As of Monday Madison Keys will join Venus Williams and Serena Williams in the WTA top ten, debuting at the number ten slot, the first American woman to debut in the top ten for many years. I just wish I could be happier about her ascension.

To say Keys in inconsistent is putting it mildly. A lot of her inconsistency has been blamed on nagging injuries. A lot of it has, in my opinion, been based on an inflated view of herself and a revolving door of coaches. I’m not even sure who her coach is now and don’t want to look it up because I’m willing to bet that she’ll be getting rid of him shortly.

From what I’ve seen of her this week Keys has been serving well and played with confidence. Most US trained players play better on grass because they’re trained to think that outside of a hard court grass best suits their game. Madison has also won a pre Wimbledon warmup before, (Eastbourne 2014) something that would surely have added to her confidence. She also made the semi finals at Rome on European red clay.

So why am I lukewarm to her? I don’t see that she’s progressed in her approach tennis. Her game is the same as it was two years ago. Her win at Birmingham against Carla Suarez-Navarro shouldn’t have been a big deal. CSN won a set off her her before she woke up and realized she could handle her opponent’s game. Like Zverev Keys is an emotional player. When her ball bashing first strike approach to tennis doesn’t work she loses it. Zverev seems to be working on keeping himself in check during the big points of a match. I’ve yet to see Madison play under pressure and not need to have her hand held to try and get herself together.

Still congratulations tare due o both Sascha and Maddy. Here’s hoping the best is yet to come.

©SavannahsWorld 2016 All Rights Reserved

This and That

by Savannah


The law of unintended consequences is a weird thing. It comes into play when the person who falls victim to it least expects it. When David Law of @DavidLawTennis posted the above picture on his Twitter feed I’m sure he wasn’t intending on making a commentary about what is wrong with tennis journalism. After all this was just a snapshot of his colleagues, his fellow tennis journalists. Whether he intended to or not he did end up making a very profound statement about his peers and why tennis is covered the way it is.

Look closely. Or not. You really don’t have to look too closely to see that all of the men in the picture are white men. Some have gray hair and some don’t but that is the extent of the diversity shown. No women. No people of color. No younger men. Back in the days when print journalism ruled there was the expression S”a picture is worth a thousand words”. In this case I think the expression is all that’s needed.

Ivan Lendl

I’m probably the only person who is disappointed in Andy Murray‘s decision to work with Ivan Lendl again. Lendl, you’ll remember, walked away from his coaching gig with Murray because he didn’t want to travel. Murray, to the consternation of the crew pictured above, chose Amélie Mauresmo as his coach. The two did well together but I think they both underestimated the demands of parenthood and parted on speaking terms. Almost immediately the old boy network began calling for him to go back to Lendl. Was it because the partnership with Mauresmo was bad? No one said that. It had to do with who Mauresmo is and the fact that she didn’t fit into the OBN’s view of the world.

So why is Lendl back? Why didn’t he work with fellow Czech Tomas Berdych? Who knows? It’s been reported that Berdych really wanted Lendl in his camp and that he is extremely disappointed that Lendl decided to work with Murray again.

I have no idea why Lendl does what he does. The entire situation reminds me of a romantic one where your lover/partner walks out on you saying “It’s not you it’s me” and then shows up again a bit later saying that they made a mistake. Yeah. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

So why am I talking about the Murray/Lendl situation and not the Milos Raonic/John McEnroe situation? Is it better for Raonic who has shown he will hire former players as coaches that he feels will help him master a particular surface (Carlos Moya).

Keep in mind that United States and Canadian tennis federations are very close. Also keep in mind that John McEnroe has been begging for anyone in the current crop to players to hire him. Forget the fact that he knows as much about playing modern tennis as I do. But he’s been a commentator for years you say? Yes he has – one of the least informed and ignorant ones to sully the airwaves. He makes it up as he goes along, painfully so, but he is still a force in US tennis circles where it’s an open secret that they wondered why one of their own hasn’t been selected to rub shoulders with the current tennis elite. During a recent broadcast on Tennis Channel the camera went to McEnroe on the sidelines after almost every point. Don’t ask me why. As for JMac he looked as if he were having a grand old time and why shouldn’t he? He got what he wanted and so did the US tennis establishment. Next they’ll be pushing for drug cheat Agassi to work with someone.

Frankly I don’t see what these older players bring to the modern top player. The modern players are physically fit, play a physical game and for the most part are quick mentally and physically. That was not the case when Jmac and the others played. To me the hiring of these older players is a type of welfare system for them. They made nowhere near the kind of money players make today and if they can get on the gravy train they will. That is all I see when I see these older men (it’s all men except for Mauresmo’s brief time in the sun) sitting in players boxes and being gloated over by US comms and the tennis press (see above)as some kind of demigod(s).

It’s funny that on the women’s side the only foray into hiring an older player was made by Agnieszka Radwanska when she hired, and quickly fired, Martina Navratilova. Navratilova has shown she’s kept herself better informed than John McEnroe has and yet no one is willing to take her on as a coach. Why? Why aren’t there more women coaches in the WTA? Why are the same names recycled between the women when there is need for a change in their teams? Are the women being sexist when it comes to who coaches them? It could go back to the Academy for them where men pretty much rule the roost. Ironically it’s Australian women – Daria Gavrilova comes to mind – who have hired female coaches. I should mention that Madison Keys worked with Lindsay Davenport for a minute. We were told that the demands of parenthood made Lindsay staying with the emotional Keys untenable.

The Olympics

Countries are announcing their Olympic rosters over the next few days. I find it ironic that players like John “God’s Country” Isner don’t feel it’s in their best interest to play for the United States and would rather take the opportunity to gain points playing smaller tournaments. It’s their choice and in the end a player has to do what he or she thinks is best. It’s ironic that the oft criticized Venus Williams and Serena Williams talk openly about their excitement in playing for the country that made them rich. There are priorities and there are priorities in life as well as sports.

End Notes

It’s grass court tennis time. It goes without saying that it’s not really my favorite surface. The modern game is too fast, to physical, to make play on the surface fun to watch or totally safe for the players. Add to it the damp of the British summer and you’ve got a disaster waiting to happen.

In case you haven’t noticed Dominic Thiem is the new boy wonder in men’s tennis. Maybe new isn’t the right word. He’s been talked about as the next big thing for some time now but he’s played a lot and played well recently. Coming into Wimbledon where he’ll have to play and win seven matches I wonder if Thiem will be able to hold up for the two weeks. It’s rare to see a male player use the tactic many female players have used to reach the top. I’m surprised none of the tennis journalists have talked about the analogy.

Anastasija Sevastova said after a recent win that women’s tennis is better than men’s tennis at the moment because anyone can win at any time. I still call it weakness.

Petra Kvitova lost to Jelena Ostapenko today. Not the best thing for Petra going into Wimbledon. She’s got a former Czech player, František Čermák coaching her now after ending a long term relationship with her former coach. Petra still looks fit to play. It doesn’t seem that she has the endurance to play her style of tennis over the length of a three set match.

The above mentioned John Isner threw down 17 aces against Juan Martin del Potro during their match yesterday. At one point Delpo turned to the crowd and said “It’s so boring”. He is so right. It’s that style of play that caused me to stop watching tennis for awhile. Tennis is about the mental challenges one player gives to another. Ace after ace after ace is not, in my opinion, tennis. Thank you Juan Martin for expressing what some of us feel.

©SavannahsWorld 2016 All Rights Reserved

Maria Sharapova Files an Appeal To CAS

by Savannah

During the press conference where she shocked to tennis world saying said she’d “made a mistake” Maria Sharapova indicated she would go along with whatever punishment was meted out.

As with everything else about Ms Sharapova that was a lie too. The world had barely begun reading the report when Ms Sharapova angrily announced that she would appeal the reduced sentence of two years for being unjustly harsh. This morning the Media Release below appeared from the CAS:


In her appeal Ms Sharapova is asking that the entire ruling be set aside and that she face no ban or one of less than two years. Talk about big brass ones.

Publicly her team is saying much of the same thing they said before: Sharapova is disliked and envied for her fame and fortune and that the tribunal therefore biased against her. A lot of criticism has been directed against the tribunal for delving into her past by those still in her corner as if Ms Sharapova didn’t open that particular door herself. The pattern of lies and deceit is laid out clearly in the report and shows that everything done by her and her father led to her not being aware that her drug of choice was now a banned substance.

I’m not a legal expert and I don’t pretend to understand all the fancy Latin phrases used by that discipline but I can state the following:

  • Sharapova’s lawyer(s) are pinning their hopes on being able to appoint one member of the tribunal. What they don’t say is that they must choose from a list of about 353 people authorized to act in that capacity. These people are also closely monitored so that any attempted hanky panky shouldn’t happen. That said we’ve all read about what’s gone on with FIFA so what shouldn’t happen often does.
  • The “they’re all haters” argument seems to be in play again.
  • If either of Ms Sharapova’s requests in the appeal is granted it would mean the entire anti doping movement would have to start over from square one not only for her but for every athlete on the planet.
  • If she brings up new evidence the panel has the ability to exclude it if it can be shown that it could have been brought up to the initial tribunal before the judgement was rendered.
  • It’s unknown at this time if WADA, the ITF, and the IOC will appeal. They have until the June 27th to do so if they wish.
  • If Ms Sharapova is the only party to appeal the CAS can’t make the suspension longer. The ITF and/or WADA would have to ask for that.

Some are already talking about the breathtaking arrogance in the wording of and the request(s) contained in the media release. Added to the picture you get reading the initial report this is not adding to Ms Sharapova’s image.

Did she have to appeal? Of course she did. The sponsors that began paying her again cited her intent to appeal while touting the panels very narrow finding that her drugging was “unintentional”.

We’ll know the answers to all of our questions by July 18, 2016.

©SavannahsWorld 2016 All Rights reserved

The Fallout Continues

by Savannah

I hope that by now you’ve read the full report on Maria Sharapova‘s failed drug test. It’s a damning document and well worth the time it takes to read. If you haven’t read it there’s no need to read this post because you’re either an intern working for Max Eisenbud, a hopeless stan of Ms Sharapova, or a tennis “journalist”. I feel sorry for some in the later category because they have to curry access to the players and their entourages. To tell the truth about what the report revealed could cost them and make it difficult for them to do their job. I said some, not all. Some are willfully deceived and continue to try and deceive tennis fans.

I say that because the entire defense that’s been mounted in Sharapova’s defense since the report was released assumes that fans have not taken the time to read the report. That is the only explanation as to why they’re continuing to push the meme that she had a serious heart condition that required meldonium although nothing was presented to the tribunal to show that that is the case. We do know that the prescribing Russian doctor had her taking up to 30 pills at one point and that when she and her father stopped doing business with him she kept taking three of them in secret, one of which was meldonium. We know that on match days she gobbled down meldonium, told no one, and even when the drug was legal did not declare that she’d taken the medication. For the argument to stand that she needed the medication it would’ve helped if she’d told her coaches and outside medical personnel that she was using this drug. Instead it remained a secret between her and her father, Yuri Sharapov, who stopped coaching his daughter in 2008. There was one other person who allegedly knew, Dr Sergei Yasnitsky, the national team doctor,who is now, according to former player Yevgeny Kafelnikov,  denying that he knew about her use of meldonium.

The only other outsider alleged to have known is her agent Max Eisenbud. His explanation of how he reviewed the annual WADA list is so absurd no one, not even stans, believe it. I don’t want to speculate on why he was allowed to go before the tribunal since I obviously have no inside information on what the decision making by the Sharapova legal team was. I can say that his testimony was the only comic relief in the entire report.

It’s been two days since the report was released and as I type this I haven’t seen any tennis journalist floating new reasons as to why Sharapova doped and hid it from everyone who would’ve been able to advise her to stop taking meldonium in 2014 when it went on the WADA watch list. I did see someone post an excerpt from a Wall Street Journal article putting forth her lawyer’s point of view but that was not posted on Twitter by a journalist who covers tennis.

The facts around the report haven’t changed. Dismissing Eisenbud’s efforts on his client’s behalf the only two people who knew what was going on from 2006 were Maria Sharapova and her father Yuri Sharapov.

Ms Sharapova plans to appeal, a pro forma move in these cases. To this non legal mind the report lays out the case for a four year ban. WADA has extended the length of bans in the past.  As the Daily Mail (of all outlets) said in it’s piece Sharapova has to appeal in order to try and salvage what’s left of her reputation. The AELTC is already looking to drop her as a member of the Wimbledon Club based on the ITF report. Sharapova is finding out what’s done in the dark will come to light. It was her and her father’s secret, one they thought would never be revealed. It’s precisely because it was their secret that she has been banned from playing tennis.  As the report concluded “She is the sole author of her own misfortune.”