Will Lack of Fitness & “Courtsense” Finish Off the WTA?

by Savannah

We’re barely through the first week of the French Open at Roland Garros and already some things are standing out for me as a result of watching both ATP and WTA matches. As you can tell by the title of this post the most blatant things are related to the WTA and it’s crop of new players.

In what was arguably the worst match of the event so far Kristina Mladenovic, as thirsty a player as exists in competition today, played Jennifer Brady on Court Philippe Chatrier that by the end had me screaming “I don’t care who wins get off the damn court! Close it out!” Mladenovic was playing with back issues per the comms and you could see her grimace in pain from time to time. You could also see her desperately looking to the stands for help. She very much wanted to call her coach down but of course the ITF doesn’t allow on court coaching (OCC) so she had to figure it out for herself. It was not pretty.

It also made me appreciate the older generation of players more. They didn’t cry and ask for someone to come down from the stands to hold their hands. They had to think their way through, adjust to what their opponent was doing, and soldier on.

Garbiñe Muguruza was also desperate to call down her coach during her match against Anett Kontaveit but she may have surprised herself by buckling down and eventually winning without her having to not listen to what her coach says while disrespecting him. I’ve railed against OCC for quite sometime now but with the current crop of players, many of whom began playing the main tour when OCC was in full effect the amount of whining and tears and temper tantrums seems to have increased. With it has come a huge drop in the level of tennis, one that will only get worse unless OCC is seen as the detriment to the sport it is and is discontinued.

Fitness? Most of the women are thin so they’re fit right? Wrong. You can be thin without being fit. The rash of injuries are coming about because, in my opinion, they’re dieting but still trying to look “feminine”. Remember Aga Radwanska‘s coach going on a rant about that a few years ago? That’s a nice collection of Slam trophies Aga has isn’t it? If you don’t build up strength – and muscle tone – the exertion of a three set match on clay, or any surface really, will bring you down. When your lungs are burning, your arms are heavy and your legs are jelly it’s hard to focus on what’s happening across the net if you can barely hold it together physically.

Some are nostalgic, and have been for a long time, for a return to the style of play exhibited by Martina Hingis in her day and it seems they’re going to get it if trends hold. I guess it’s been long enough for people to forget how boring that style of play is. It was also a time when women’s tennis was ridiculed for not being “real tennis” and led to the idea that it was “less” than men’s tennis, an idea that is still alive and widespread in the world of tennis.

There’s nothing wrong with strength of mind and body. There’s nothing wrong with being physically able to play a sport that makes so many demands on your body and mind. There’s nothing wrong with being able to adjust what you’re doing without someone dashing down from the stands and holding your hand. Both Muguruza and Mladenovic showed that they can do it. Sadly I don’t think their exhibition of mental toughness will be evident past Roland Garros when it’ll be back to hand holding and tears from athletes who are much better than that.

© 2017 Savannahs World All rights Reserved

The Rear View Mirror: The 2016 US Open

by Savannah

us-open
via http://www.sportslivenews.com/

 

2016 Champions
Men’s Singles
Switzerland Stan Wawrinka
Women’s Singles
Germany Angelique Kerber
Men’s Doubles
Brazil Bruno Soares / United Kingdom Jamie Murray
Women’s Doubles
United States Bethanie Mattek-Sands / Czech Republic Lucie Šafářová
Mixed Doubles
Germany Laura Siegemund / Croatia Mate Pavić
Boys’ Singles
Canada Félix Auger-Aliassime
Girls’ Singles
United States Kayla Day
Boys’ Doubles
Bolivia Juan Carlos Aguilar / Brazil Felipe Meligeni Alves
Girls’ Doubles
United States Jada Hart / United States Ena Shibahara
Men’s Champions Invitational
Australia Pat Cash / Australia Mark Philippoussis
Women’s Champions Invitational
United States Lindsay Davenport / United States Mary Joe Fernández

Some thoughts:

Not one main tour US singles player made it to the Finals. Serena Williams made it to the semi finals and was barely able to move in that match. Steve Johnson , the man who said former champion Juan Martin del Potro shouldn’t get a Wild Card over what I assume he felt would be a more deserving US player didn’t survive his match vs del Potro. US Wildcards? Pfft. Gone. If you blinked you missed seeing them crash and burn. New US men’s #1 Jack Sock ? he was exposed as being nothing more than a forehand. He was almost the least fit man I saw play.

Despite all of the US juniors getting so much hype in the press it was Canada’s Félix Auger-Aliassime who took home the boy’s trophy. Kayla Day of the US who doesn’t look a day over twelve, was the only singles player to win a title.

The stadium for the Women’s Final was reported to be about 85% full. Tickets prices for the women’s final fell through the floor going for about $31 each. If there’s a compelling match fans usually storm the gates and grab up any available ticket. That didn’t happen. It’s widely reported that the men’s final was a sell out.

Does that mean the men’s tour is stronger? Let’s look at how the two finalists got there. The ATP #1 spent less than 10 hours on court.

Novak Djokovic

1st rd: bt Jerzy Janowicz (POL) 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1
2nd rd: bt Jiri Vesely (CZE) walkover
3rd rd: bt Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) 4-2 retired
4th rd: bt Kyle Edmund (GBR) 6-2, 6-1, 6-4
QF: bt Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA x9) 6-3, 6-2 retired
SF: bt Gael Monfils (FRA x10) 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2

Stan Wawrinka

1st rd: bt Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 7-6 (7/4), 6-4, 6-4
2nd rd: bt Alessandro Giannessi (ITA) 6-1, 7-6 (7/4), 7-5
3rd rd: bt Dan Evans (GBR) 4-6, 6-3, 6-7 (6/8), 7-6 (10/8), 6-2
4th rd: bt Illya Marchenko (UKR) 6-4, 6-1, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3
QF: bt Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
SF: bt Kei Nishikori (JPN x6) 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-2

There was a lot of talk about the cake walk Djokovic had in Paris. This draw made that one look competitive and he still only played two full matches. In my opinion he didn’t deserve to win and fortunately he didn’t. I’m not a great fan of Wawrinka but at least he had to play tennis to reach the final. Apologists are saying it wasn’t Djokovic’s fault he played a total of four matches including the semi final and final. If any other player, with one exception, had that happen there would be question marks and asterisks next to his name if he had somehow managed to win.

As for the women the Final proved that there is only one draw in women’s tennis and that is Serena Williams. Some want to sneak Maria Sharapova‘s name in there but to be honest that is just not true. Tennis media loves her and she does have stans but when it comes to putting butts in the seats outside of semi finals and finals where people have bought tickets so they can say they were there I’ve never seen a stadium packed to overflowing just to see her. Tennis media of course buys into the hype around her because they need access. Fans don’t have to suck up.

It’s hardly been mentioned that Angelique Kerber played her way into the number one spot. Once again when discussing the WTA we’re talking more about ranking than proficiency. Keep in mind how Kerber was dismantled in the Olympic Final by Monica Puig and how she did almost nothing coming into the US Open. The best that can be said is that she’s not a Slamless number one.

Her opponent, Karolina Pliskova will always be able to say she beat Serena in the semi final of a major. The part about Serena being injured will always be left to fans to point out just like it was with Sloane Stephens who still thinks she’s a super star. Pliskova is one of the worst movers in tennis. It’ll be interesting to see how she does in 2017.

Overall I think tennis came out of the US Open in a holding pattern. The Asian swing will feature heavily in who does and doesn’t make the year end finals of both tours. Will players enter events they normally wouldn’t so that they can stumble into the finals of their respective tours? We’re already seeing some changes in where top players will begin play in 2017. Does anyone think Kerber, without a lot of assistance from her draws will hold on to the top spot especially if she cuts back on the amount of tennis she plays? Will the ATP top player continue to deserve his nickanme of “Fakervic” especially after yesterday’s shenanigans? Will some continue to make excuses for him?

It’s a shame most of the play in Asia will go unwatched by the majority of tennis fans in the West due to the time difference. There should be some exciting results with so much at stake.

© SavannahsWorld 2016 All Rights Reserved except where indicated

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

by Savannah

It’s no secret. For those of you who have been reading me for a long time you know that I love, no, that I’m fanatical about clay court tennis. A player has to be able to pose questions and if he or she doesn’t like the answer rephrase it and throw it back at his or her opponent. Conversations can be long with a lot of different tangents and changes of subject. It requires patience and constant vigilance. A slight break of concentration can cause not only a game but a match.

Not every player, or every fan for that matter, is temperamentally suited to clay court tennis and that’s fine. While my favorite surface is clay I can appreciate the aesthetics of hard court and grass court tennis. It’s a different way of thinking and each surface demands a different skill set from a player.

But on Sunday the Grand Slam event dedicated to perfection on the terre battue as it’s called in France begins so enough of my blathering. Below are the mens singles main draw and the women’s singles main draw.

 

ATP Main Draw

DJOKOVIC, Novak SRB [1] vs LU, Yen-Hsun TPE
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs QUALIFIER, (Q)
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs BEDENE, Aljaz GBR
CARRENO BUSTA, Pablo ESP vs DELBONIS, Federico ARG [31]

TOMIC, Bernard AUS [20] vs BAKER, Brian USA
CORIC, Borna CRO vs FRITZ, Taylor USA
MATHIEU, Paul-Henri FRA vs GIRALDO, Santiago COL
TURSUNOV, Dmitry RUS vs BAUTISTA AGUT, Roberto ESP [14]

FERRER, David ESP [11] vs DONSKOY, Evgeny RUS
ISTOMIN, Denis UZB vs MONACO, Juan ARG
ESTRELLA BURGOS, Victor DOM vs MARCHENKO, Illya UKR
JOHNSON, Steve USA vs LOPEZ, Feliciano ESP [21]

CUEVAS, Pablo URU [25] vs QUALIFIER, (Q)
CHUNG, Hyeon KOR vs HALYS, Quentin FRA (W)
JAZIRI, Malek TUN vs MAYER, Florian GER
POSPISIL, Vasek CAN vs BERDYCH, Tomas CZE [7]

NADAL, Rafael ESP [4] vs GROTH, Sam AUS
BAGNIS, Facundo ARG vs QUALIFIER, (Q)
MAHUT, Nicolas FRA vs BERANKIS, Ricardas LTU
GRANOLLERS, Marcel ESP vs FOGNINI, Fabio ITA [32]

ANDERSON, Kevin RSA [18] vs ROBERT, Stephane FRA (W)
ZVEREV, Alexander GER vs HERBERT, Pierre-Hugues FRA
DE BAKKER, Thiemo NED vs GARCIA-LOPEZ, Guillermo ESP
CERVANTES, Inigo ESP vs THIEM, Dominic AUT [13]

GOFFIN, David BEL [12] vs BARRERE, Gregoire FRA (W)
LORENZI, Paolo ITA vs QUALIFIER, (Q)
RAM, Rajeev USA vs VESELY, Jiri CZE
ALMAGRO, Nicolas ESP vs KOHLSCHREIBER, Philipp GER [24]

SOUSA, Joao POR [26] vs DZUMHUR, Damir BIH
SEPPI, Andreas ITA vs GULBIS, Ernests LAT
MULLER, Gilles LUX vs BAGHDATIS, Marcos CYP
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs TSONGA, Jo-Wilfried FRA [6]

RAONIC, Milos CAN [8] vs TIPSAREVIC, Janko SRB
KUKUSHKIN, Mikhail KAZ vs MANNARINO, Adrian FRA
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs MUNOZ DE LA NAVA, Daniel ESP
BENNETEAU, Julien FRA (W) vs POUILLE, Lucas FRA [29]

SOCK, Jack USA [23] vs HAASE, Robin NED
SELA, Dudi ISR vs QUALIFIER, (Q)
RAMOS-VINOLAS, Albert ESP vs ZEBALLOS, Horacio ARG
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs CILIC, Marin CRO [10]

SIMON, Gilles FRA [16] vs DUTRA SILVA, Rogerio BRA
SCHWARTZMAN, Diego ARG vs PELLA, Guido ARG
LAJOVIC, Dusan SRB vs KUDLA, Denis USA
DIMITROV, Grigor BUL vs TROICKI, Viktor SRB [22]

CHARDY, Jeremy FRA [30] vs MAYER, Leonardo ARG
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs QUALIFIER, (Q)
KLIZAN, Martin SVK vs DANIEL, Taro JPN
ROSOL, Lukas CZE vs WAWRINKA, Stan SUI [3]

NISHIKORI, Kei JPN [5] vs BOLELLI, Simone ITA
KUZNETSOV, Andrey RUS vs BECKER, Benjamin GER
DODIG, Ivan CRO vs YOUZHNY, Mikhail RUS
VERDASCO, Fernando ESP vs DOLGOPOLOV, Alexandr UKR [28]

KYRGIOS, Nick AUS [17] vs CECCHINATO, Marco ITA
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs QUALIFIER, (Q)
QUERREY, Sam USA vs FRATANGELO, Bjorn USA (W)
BELLUCCI, Thomaz BRA vs GASQUET, Richard FRA [9]

ISNER, John USA [15] vs MILLMAN, John AUS
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs EDMUND, Kyle GBR
GABASHVILI, Teymuraz RUS vs YOUNG, Donald USA
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs PAIRE, Benoit FRA [19]

KARLOVIC, Ivo CRO [27] vs MONTANES, Albert ESP
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs THOMPSON, Jordan AUS (W)
BOURGUE, Mathias FRA (W) vs QUALIFIER, (Q)
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs MURRAY, Andy GBR [2]

I think this draw speaks for itself so there isn’t much to say about it that it doesn’t say.

WTA Main Draw

WILLIAMS, Serena USA [1] vs RYBARIKOVA, Magdalena SVK
PEREIRA, Teliana BRA vs PLISKOVA, Kristyna CZE
CRAWFORD, Samantha USA vs BABOS, Timea HUN
SCHIAVONE, Francesca ITA vs MLADENOVIC, Kristina FRA [26]

SVITOLINA, Elina UKR [18] vs QUALIFIER, (Q)
TOWNSEND, Taylor USA (W) vs HESSE, Amandine FRA (W)
NARA, Kurumi JPN vs ALLERTOVA, Denisa CZE
DODIN, Oceane FRA (W) vs IVANOVIC, Ana SRB [14]

SUAREZ NAVARRO, Carla ESP [12] vs QUALIFIER, (Q)
WANG, Qiang CHN vs ANDRIANJAFITRIMO, Tessah FRA (W)
RODIONOVA, Arina AUS (W) vs KONJUH, Ana CRO
ZHENG, Saisai CHN vs CIBULKOVA, Dominika SVK [22]

PETKOVIC, Andrea GER [28] vs ROBSON, Laura GBR
PUTINTSEVA, Yulia KAZ vs WOZNIAK, Aleksandra CAN
SEVASTOVA, Anastasija LAT vs QUALIFIER, (Q)
KNAPP, Karin ITA vs AZARENKA, Victoria BLR [5]

KERBER, Angelique GER [3] vs BERTENS, Kiki NED
LIM, Alize FRA (W) vs GIORGI, Camila ITA
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs RAZZANO, Virginie FRA (W)
FRIEDSAM, Anna-Lena GER vs KASATKINA, Daria RUS [29]

KONTA, Johanna GBR [20] vs GOERGES, Julia GER
PUIG, Monica PUR vs GOVORTSOVA, Olga BLR
GAVRILOVA, Daria AUS vs DUQUE-MARINO, Mariana COL
VEKIC, Donna CRO vs KEYS, Madison USA [15]

WILLIAMS, Venus USA [9] vs KONTAVEIT, Anett EST
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs DAVIS, Lauren USA
CORNET, Alize FRA vs FLIPKENS, Kirsten BEL
MARIA, Tatjana GER vs JANKOVIC, Jelena SRB [23]

NICULESCU, Monica ROU [31] vs PARMENTIER, Pauline FRA
FALCONI, Irina USA vs BARTHEL, Mona GER
SIEGEMUND, Laura GER vs BOUCHARD, Eugenie CAN
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs BACSINSZKY, Timea SUI [8]

VINCI, Roberta ITA [7] vs BONDARENKO, Kateryna UKR
BECK, Annika GER vs QUALIFIER, (Q)
VANDEWEGHE, Coco USA vs BROADY, Naomi GBR
MATTEK-SANDS, Bethanie USA vs BEGU, Irina-Camelia ROU [25]

PLISKOVA, Karolina CZE [17] vs ROGERS, Shelby USA
VESNINA, Elena RUS vs BRENGLE, Madison USA
ARRUABARRENA, Lara ESP vs HSIEH, Su-Wei TPE
KOVINIC, Danka MNE vs KVITOVA, Petra CZE [10]

KUZNETSOVA, Svetlana RUS [13] vs SHVEDOVA, Yaroslava KAZ
GIBBS, Nicole USA vs WATSON, Heather GBR
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs SASNOVICH, Aliaksandra BLR
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs PAVLYUCHENKOVA, Anastasia RUS [24]

MAKAROVA, Ekaterina RUS [27] vs LEPCHENKO, Varvara USA
WICKMAYER, Yanina BEL vs DULGHERU, Alexandra ROU
GEORGES, Myrtille FRA (W) vs MCHALE, Christina USA
SCHMIEDLOVA, Anna Karolina SVK vs MUGURUZA, Garbine ESP [4]

HALEP, Simona ROU [6] vs HIBINO, Nao JPN
DIYAS, Zarina KAZ vs WITTHOEFT, Carina GER
LUCIC-BARONI, Mirjana CRO vs QUALIFIER, (Q)
OSAKA, Naomi JPN vs OSTAPENKO, Jelena LAT [32]

STOSUR, Samantha AUS [21] vs DOI, Misaki JPN
ZHANG, Shuai CHN vs VOSKOBOEVA, Galina KAZ
RISKE, Alison USA vs QUALIFIER, (Q)
DIATCHENKO, Vitalia RUS vs SAFAROVA, Lucie CZE [11]

ERRANI, Sara ITA [16] vs PIRONKOVA, Tsvetana BUL
LARSSON, Johanna SWE vs LINETTE, Magda POL
QUALIFIER, (Q) vs LISICKI, Sabine GER
GASPARYAN, Margarita RUS vs STEPHENS, Sloane USA [19]

STRYCOVA, Barbora CZE [30] vs QUALIFIER, (Q)
HERCOG, Polona SLO vs DOMINGUEZ LINO, Lourdes ESP
TSURENKO, Lesia UKR vs GARCIA, Caroline FRA
JOVANOVSKI, Bojana SRB vs RADWANSKA, Agnieszka POL [2]

In both draws the seeds are pretty well protected with an exception or two.
Once again we see a wide open bottom half of the women’s draw while the top half is truly a war.

I’m that person who has said for years that draws weren’t as random as we’d like to think they are. I’ve also been severely criticized for saying that. Imagine my laughter when someone on Tennis Twitter said this morning that it’s time for the ATP and WTA to find a new seeding mechanism when he saw the ATP draw. Ironic isn’t it?

There’s no nonsensical Middle Sunday break in Paris but the weather forecast is not good. Play will start with the bottom half of both draws on Sunday. Sit back, relax and enjoy the tennis. I’ll check back in as needed before the first week is completed. Otherwise I’ll be back on Middle Sunday.

© 2016 Savannahs World All rights reserved