2017 Indian Wells This and That

by Savannah

The big guns will begin play over the weekend at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, California. Women’s Main Draw play began March 8th and the men began play March 9th. Despite this being early in the tournament there’s been enough news to keep tennis fans not only busy but scratching their heads.

Let’s start with the Wild Card situation. The following players all received WC’s into the Main Draw:

Frances Tiafoe
Stefan Kozlov
Taylor Fritz
Reilly Opelka
Bjorn Fratangelo
Bethanie Mattek-Sands
Nicole Gibbs
Taylor Townsend
Danielle Collins
Irina Falconi
Kayla Day
Jennifer Brady
Donna Vekic

The only two who made it through are Bjorn Fratangelo who played a very disinterested  Bernard Tomic, and Donna Vekic, the only non American to receive a WC and the only one to make it to round two in what I assume was a competitive match. By that I mean her opponent was trying her best to win.

And yes it does seem as if she and her boyfriend are a package deal at majors these days. There were signs of relief from some tennis professionals when she made it through to the next round. I guess they were sick of the word “undeserved” being thrown around when she was mentioned.

I’ve been a tennis fan a long time, longer than I’ve been blogging. I’ve also been in the corporate world where a lot of underhanded shady shit goes on. That said I’m well aware that a Federation can grant WC’s to whomever it wants. We saw the same thing in Australia in January where only local talent got Main Draw Wild Cards (MDWC’S). That’s fine. Just don’t bitch and moan when your players are shut out at events in Europe. Sadly, most US players right now are cannon fodder for the top players. Their one dimensional games just don’t cut it against players who can actually strategize and construct points during a match. Let me take a minute to discuss one WC, Danielle Collins.

I’m sure she’s a nice person. She’s easy on the eyes and wears a kit that puts all of her assets on display. She’s been a NCAA champion two times. Sorry USTA, she’s not ready for prime time. Monica Puig made her look like a ball kid getting a hit with a pro player. She had no business in the MD of a tournament this big.

To be fair I did see some of Reilly Opelka’s match. He’s got a hell of a serve.

Random Thoughts

Usually it’s the WTA that’s getting dragged for it’s horrible draws. It seems that like everything else these days the WTA has been out done in that department by the ATP. By now you’ve all seen the mens singles draw. Speaking as someone who’s seen some cakewalks given to Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic the one Andy Murray just got beats all of them. Federer must be green with envy. What the hell were they thinking? I know, I know they want Murray to win here. Shouldn’t he have to play some tennis on the way to the Final though? Whoever comes out of the bottom part of the draw will be match tough. Sometimes that’s better than la-de-dahing your way to a Final. We’ll see.

What is the ATP to do about Tomic? Some commentators hinted that ATP brass was court side observing his effort, or lack thereof, against Fratangelo Thursday. I don’t think he gave a fuck. He roused himself to look as if he were trying in what turned out to be the last game of the match and made Fratangelo need five match points to win it. He gave himself away when a shot he made was called out and he challenged just for the hell of it. When it was called in he was visibly annoyed and put his hands on his hips and hung his head. That was the only part of the match I saw. Two things have to happen: Tennis Australia has to stop giving him money and the ATP needs to heavily fine him and start denying him appearance fees if he gets them. The only language he understands is money. He can live large all he wants as long as he does the work that his job requires. Will anything be done? I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Thanks to Alizé Cornet the WTA had to remove it’s horrible Tweet regarding an article that supposedly showcased how happy WTA players are to see a convicted doper descend from the heavens back onto the Main Tour. It’s bad enough that the headline bore no resemblane to what was really being said in the article. The WTA was forced to take the tweet, and the article down. Ms Cornet, who is out injured, also deleted her tweet. Of course nothing ever dies in cyberspace so if you didn’t see the exchange here’s a screen shot:

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Right now the doper and her team, along with WTA head Steve Simon, are trying to strong arm the FFT (French Tennis Federation) into granting her a WC into the French Open main draw. More WTA players are ignoring the gag order the WTA imposed and speaking out. Even Angelique Kerber said something against the doper being shoehorned into Stuttgart. ATP players have joined in the fray. They may get what they want but it’s not going to be pretty.

By the way Steve where’s that WTA streaming platform we were promised? Maybe less time should be spent trying to rehab the image of a doper and more time spent making sure your product is visible to the fans you still have? Fans shouldn’t have to resort to low quality betting sites to see women’s tennis. Fans shouldn’t have to miss almost all of women’s play except for one match featuring one of the Blonde Brigade from Canada. What a joke.

Also, don’t think we’ve forgotten that post congratulating Kerber on regaining the number one ranking while Serena Williams is still in place at the top. It was unseemly. Uncalled for. Disrespectful. But hey, keep pushing that doper!

End Note

Francesa Schiavone was never considered marketable by the WTA. She’s not blonde. She’s got an aggressive on court demeanor. Her on court noise was not considered that of a competitor like another players. Until recently, she’s been one of the top ranked players. Age has seen her performance level drop. But fans, including this one, watch her matches. After all the nonsense yesterday this was the saddest thing I read, and a testimony to how low the WTA has fallen and how badly it treats it’s players.

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Many of us tweeted our support to Franny. Let’s see what her tour does.

The Week That Was: ’17 AO Week 1

by Savannah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©SavannahsWorld 2017. All Rights Reserved

Bored Now

by Savannah

Andy Murray will face Novak Djokovic for what the ATP is billing as it’s Battle Royale, the match to determine who will close out the year as its top ranked player as the recently crowned #1 Murray will face #2 Djokovic. There was supposed to be some tennis played by both men on the way to this final. Sadly only one man had to play tennis. He also played two matches that went over three hours in a matter of days while the other player , because his group played first in the Round Robin phase of the tournament, got a full day of rest.

I know, I know. It’s all luck of the draw. I guess it’s also luck of the draw that Djokovic didn’t face one player who had the remotest chance of beating him. When Gaël Monfils had to withdraw due to a lingering injury he faced another player, David Goffin, who has never beaten him either.  While his practice sessions were taking place Andy Murray had to face players who made him have to play top level tennis in order to beat them. One mental slip and Murray could’ve lost his group. Instead the ATP got the match up it wanted. Except that one player could be running on fumes.

Some expected Nishikori Kei to put up a fight in his semifinal vs Djokovic. Instead he went ass up and managed to win only two games in a match that lasted a bit over an hour. He didn’t even bother to take a shower, uh, potty break to slow things down.

It should be mentioned that Murray’s run to the top didn’t see him face top ten players. Whatever. Both players should get equal rest before they play the final. Otherwise it looks as if there’s some kind of favoritism going on.  But that is not something that would happen in the ATP right?

Anyway there should be some good NFL games on tomorrow.

 

© 2016 Savannah’s World All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

The 2016 ATP WTF: WTF?!

by Savannah

When you obsessively follow a sport you’re exposed to all kinds of wacky theories about it. When I first discovered tennis fan boards back in the day it was the ESPN board that took up most of my time. To say that board was the best and the worst of what a tennis fan board could be is putting it mildly. When it became unbearable many of the people who really wanted to discuss tennis went elsewhere. I not only went elsewhere I started this blog so that I could laugh at some of the insanity so called fans were spouting about their faves, and those who weren’t their faves.

One of the things I took a lot of grief for was saying that the draws for tennis events weren’t random. You wouldn’t believe, or maybe you would believe, the grief I got. I was stupid. Some kind of nut. Of course the draws were random.
You don’t hear that so much now do you?

For example, how is it that Andy Murray has yet to face a top ten player on his way to taking over the top ranking? Odd isn’t it? The same thing used to happen to someone named Roger Federer up until he reached the quarter finals of a tournament. With Murray it continues right up to the final. I don’t have to prove anything. If you feel that’s not true prove me wrong.

Then there’s the case of the draw for this years ATP WTF in London. Anyone who knows the slightest bit about tennis, and many who know more, were shocked at how things are set up. I say set up because there is no way both sections are competitive. Just to remind you let’s look at the two groups.

McEnroe Group

Andy Murray
Stan Wawrinka
Nishikori Kei
Marin Cilic

Lendl Group

Novak Djokovic
Milos Raonic
Gaël Monfils
Dominic Thiem

As an aside some made fun of the names of the groups in the WTA YEC. When I saw the names of the groups here I rolled my eyes so hard my eye sockets still hurt. Really? Red and Blue. Blue and White. Suckers vs Saps. Anything but what they’ve done.

But back to the composition of the groups.

The now ATP #2 has never, ever lost a match to anyone in his group. Not Raonic (7-0), Monfils (13-0). Thiem (3-0). So that group is competitive right? Some tried to spin it saying he’s got a winning record against the men in the ATP #1’s group too. Please. To make the #2’s group even more absurd Raonic is said to have a muscle tear and it’s possible that he’ll withdraw. That would allow alternate Tomas Berdych to become part of that group. Yeah. That head to head is 25 – 2.

If you think this isn’t a set up for the now #2 I’m sure you know by now that he plays Sunday. That means he gets an extra day off when the elimination tournament begins. Some are saying that the ATP really wants to set up a horse race between #1 and #2. Yeah, that’s why #1 may not make it out of his group.

I don’t know who’s got what on who but this is the most absurd draw (grouping) I’ve ever seen. One man gets a romp while the other is going to have to fight his way out of the ring.

This year the ATP year end tournament truly deserves to be called WTF.

End Note

I’m very glad that Andy Murray is giving full credit to his coach, Jamie Delgado, for seeing him through to the top of the heap. It’s kind of a raised middle finger to those who insisted he needed Ivan Lendl to be kept in check and achieve greatness. There has been some mewling about where Lendl has been but I haven’t seen anyone ask the question that needs to be asked. Instead they’re falling over themselves to say he’ll be in London. So what? He did none of the heavy lifting, got all the credit from US and British tennis writers and comms, then ghosted when it was time to work hard again. Delgado was an afterthought to these people.

Congratulations to Mr. Murray and his (real) team.

©Savannahs World 2016 All Rights Reserved

It Was a Great Week For Tennis

by Savannah

For the most part. As a self confessed tennis nerd my view of things is going to be radically different from that of a casual viewer.

Sure the ITF created a schedule that no human could possibly play and the rain didn’t help..

Then there was the incredibly soft draw the eventual Gold Medal winner Andy Murray had to navigate.

Let’s not forget the incompetence of the lines people and the ball people (I can’t say ball kids because many of them were obviously adults)

The fact that no points were offered is something that was new in 2016. If the quality of tennis hadn’t been what it was I think that decision would be revisited for 2020. The men and women who showed up played at such a high level I don’t see why points would be offered going forward.

And that is what this post is about.

The Slams, Masters 1000 and Premier Mandatory tournaments are supposed to be the pinnacle of tennis. The best in the world come to play and show off their best. Except that hasn’t happened much lately. When the top players are given cakewalk draws while their competition has to battle through tough draws you end up with predictable semi finals and finals that draw mostly yawns from fans. The semifinals and finals in Rio were interesting and dramatic although the drama came in an odd way for some.

People are always whining about the need to grow the sport while at the same time doing everything possible to ensure that doesn’t happen except within a very small demographic. During the Olympic women’s final I noticed people who never, ever mention tennis when it comes to sports were cheering for Mónica Puig. Did they totally understand what was happening? Maybe not but they were sure excited and I’m willing to bet they’ll be looking for her name going forward. I’ll get back to what Puig did on the tennis court shortly.

Chair umpires aren’t supposed to insert themselves into a match and for the most part they don’t. It’s ironic that Carlos Ramos and Carlos Bernardes found themselves in the middle of controversy. Ramos gave Andy Murray a code violation for words that, by Murray’s standards, were exceedingly mild. His rebuke didn’t affect the outcome of the match though.

Bernardes on the other hand should be called before whoever the powers that be are in officiating to explain why he did nothing about a twelve minute potty break that did affect the outcome of the match especially since he had chastised one of the participants in the match for taking too long earlier in the year. I’m sure we won’t know if he was or wasn’t but in reading a paragraph from the Rule Book it’s a monument to vagueness that leaves everything up to the discretion of the chair.

@VRCsports posted the relevant passage

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Like I said a monument to vagueness. I would like to know in what world a twelve minute break in tennis would be okay outside of major injury. <strong>Venus Williams</strong> was called out during these same Olympics for taking an eight minute break during her match but people backed off when it was revealed she was emptying the contents of her stomach during the break. No one knows why it took an in form athlete twelve minutes off court without a wardrobe change.  It saddens me to see Bernardes, who was one of the best for so long, seemingly unable to be fair to both players during a match.

But enough of that. Let’s talk about the WTA. I’ve said it before and I’ll undoubtedly say it again; The WTA should know better than to plan a coronation before a tournament is completed. They’ve been doing it a lot lately especially with <strong> Serena Williams </a> about to cement her place in tennis history. According to the tennis press it was a foregone conclusion that <strong> Angelique Kerber </strong> would not only win the Gold Medal in Rio but that she would take the number one ranking from Serena Williams during the Western & Southern Open this week.

The US press was ready to anoint <strong> Madison Keys</strong> as the heir apparent to Serena in US tennis. She bashed her was to the semi finals in Rio and then a funny thing happened. The above mentioned Kerber forced Keys to have to play tennis. You know, the kind of play where you construct points and pay attention to what your opponent is doing, the kind of tennis Keys seems to be less and less able to play. When forced to have to play “real” tennis Keys falls apart mentally.

Ironically Kerber, who had beaten Keys so easily, was beaten in the Final by a woman who plays “real” tennis. Puig beat Kerber with patience and excellent court sense. She was very aware of what Kerber was trying to do and did her best to counter Kerber’s every move. Of course Puig was breathing rarefied air and faltered a time or two but in the end she won the game on the court and between the ears, something the young US trained players seem unable to do. It was a magnificent display from Puig and it’ll be interesting to see what she does at the US Open. No one in his or her right mind would predict her going as deep as she did in Rio but if she wants to be taken seriously going forward she should be aiming for the Round of 16. She showed how well she can play in Rio. Let’s see if she can be in or near the top 30 by the end of the year.

Despite the issues, despite the lack of points, the players who came to Rio showcased their love of the sport of tennis, a love that came through to anyone who took the time to watch.  Favorites won and favorites lost but at the end of the nine days I would rate the Olympic Tennis Event as the best tournament of the year. At times it was like a football (soccer) match and the fans didn’t all know tennis etiquette but that chaos enhanced the experience of this viewer. I miss it already.

 

 

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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via podtepeto.bg

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.

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This and That

by Savannah

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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.

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