Sunday, November 11, 2007

Saving the best for last.

Wow, just wow. I know I'm not a huge Sharapova fan, but after that final...she gets props. Major props. Both players put everything out there on the court, and both showed moments of brilliance as well as nervous humanity.

In the end, the #1 came through, with Justine winning 5-7, 7-5, 6-3 in the longest three set YEC final ever.



While the rest that Sharapova took before this tournament allowed her to come in fresh and play at her best, it also seemed to be her undoing as far as match fitness for the final. At 3-all in the third, Maria's fatigue was visible, and the doubles faults, while not a huge problem, starting to creep in at really bad times - such as break point. But, she is to be commended...I mean, seriously, I don't think there are many players who, match fit or not, wouldn't have gotten tired during that battle. In the end, Justine just had a bit more in the tank, and more control on her strokes.

I am so happy to see the women's season end this way, especially with the criticism that it sometimes very richly deserves. These two women were both winners today!

**************

The men have gotten underway, but because they are in Shanghai, and VS is not covering this event, I have trouble even keeping up with the scores. So far, Nadal has beaten Gasquet (not a surprise), and Ferrer defeated Djoko (this IS a surprise, at least to me).

TTC is at least showing us the doubles, which, unlike the women's double YEC, follows the same round robin format. I knew that Knowles/Nestor were breaking up, but Mark Knowles revealed even more break-ups during his commentary. Among the carnage is Bjorkman/Mirnyi, Hanley/Ullyett, Vizner/Dlouhy, Paes/Damm...hmm, I think that is all of them. Basically, the only ones staying together are the Bryan Brothers, the Israelis, and Aspelin/Knowle. The Bryans must love seeing all the shake-up...it gives them even more of an advantage over the other teams!

**************

My own tennis is going well. I may be looking at a racquet change. Whether or not this is done in time for Florida remains a financial issue, and honestly, I'm a little wary at changing my stick less than a month before the tourny. Even if it isn't the best for me, it is what I've been using for over a year now.

The Final.

As expected, it will come down to Henin vs. Sharapova.

I actually got a chance to watch some of the semis from yesterday. My thoughts:

Henin vs. AnaIvo - As expected, Henin won, but this time, AnaIvo made her work a bit harder for it. This was a far cry from the beatdown Justine put on Ana in the French final. The marathon game in the first set when Ana had five break point opportunities, yet Henin still came through spoke volumes. Justine finds a way. However, she needs to also find her first serve, or Maria will feed off of it just like Ana did. On a hard court, I think it may only be a matter of time before AnaIvo starts to dominate...though I felt she had a few too many UE yesterday, but at least she was going for her shots and not holding back. A great effort from the youngster, and not a bad way to end the year.

Chakie vs. Sharapova - This was almost embarrassing. Well, for Chakie, it *was* embarrassing. She had never beaten Masha going into this, so I guess we shouldn't have expected anything different yesterday. Masha smacked her down pretty hard. During the match, the commentators mentioned that Maria hadn't started serving again until a week before the tournament. Maybe that is all she needed...a good long rest to heal the shoulder, as well as the mind.

This, of course, gives us the expected final (well, not expected at the beginning, but expected once everyone saw how well Maria was playing) of Henin vs. Sharapova. Will Justine once again find a way? Or will Maria's serve, return, and firepower be too much for the smaller (but not weaker) Belgium?

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The doubles final was decided today, with #1 seeds Black/Huber taking on the team of Ai Sugiyama and Katerina Srebotnik. Black/Huber had to take out Pestchke/Stubbs to get this far, and that was quite the match. As to be expected, it featured a long argument by Rennae Stubbs with the chair, who finally put Stubbsy in her place. That semi, as well as today's final, was decided by the 10 point super tiebreak, and Black/Huber showed why they have been one of the dominate teams this year...in a tiebreak, every point counts, and they stayed steady to win both and take home the title. It was especially sweet for Cara Black, who had many times been a runner-up at YEC, but never won until today.

Samantha Stosur is recovering from Lyme disease, so that is why we were missing Raymond/Stosur. Here's to hoping she makes a full recovery and is back in the *swing* of things in time for the events in her home country!

Friday, November 9, 2007

The final four!

Hmmm. So, Sharapova demolished AnaIvo today. That didn't make me happy. They were both already into the semis, but this determined who they would play.

So, tomorrow, the semis are:

Henin vs. AnaIvo - Ummm, I love AnaIvo, but Justine will win. The only question will be by how much.

Shriekapova vs. Chakie - If Sharapova continues the form she has had in this tournament, which has been surprising to say the least, she will win. You can never count Chakie completely out though.

But the bets are that our final will be Henin vs. Sharapova. And Henin will win.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Enough!

Enough! I've had enough! No more! No more having to listen to Serena Williams TRASH TALK her opponents, declare herself fit and ready and the winner, and then watch her pathetically limp through a set to retire because of HER KNEES!! That's right, her perfectly fit and ready KNEES were taped up like a mummy! Ridiculous. How can she even dare utter the words she did leading up to this tournament?!? What kind of delusional world is she living in? She is becoming a laughing stock and a joke of women's tennis.



Enough. I'm done with her. I don't care if she wins every major from here until the end of time. She had me, then she lost me, then she slowly won me back, and now I'm done.

*deep breath*

So, let's recap some other news from today, shall we?

Well, the matchup between Jelena and Justine didn't live up to most of their previous matches. Henin goes through 6-2, 6-2. Honestly, there is nobody who is going to threaten this woman. When Serena retired, Justine qualified for the semis.

Next up was Chakie and Serena. I had actually picked Serena. Chakie took the first set 6-4, then Serena retired. She will be replaced in the draw by Marion Bartoli, who unfortunately has to assume Serena's record.

AnaIvo and Dani battled it out next. After rolling through the first set, AnaIvo took the second in a thrilling tiebreak (11-9 I think?). Dani has lost two matches now, and will not advance. Still, she played well, and hopefully will take some momentum into next year.

****************

Tomorrow's matchups:

The Kuz vs. Masha - I pick the Kuz. 'Nuff said.
Henin vs. Maid Marion - Haha! Justine is *totally* going to be after revenge for Wimby. Lookout Marion!
Jankovic vs. Chakie - Hmmmm. Gut instinct says to pick Jankovic. However, will another loss to Henin take the wind out of her sails? Or, will she look at it as 'Ok, I got that out of the way, now it is time to steamroll?' Should be interesting!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

2 out of 3 isn't bad!

I got two of the my three picks for today correct.

The first one was the easiest:



Henin blasted through Chakie in the first set, and though the Chakster gave a mighty effort in the second, Henin won in a second set tiebreak.

For me, the next result was actually a surprise, as I didn't see Masha match-fit enough to come through:



Sharapova came through two tight sets over Hanuchova. And, by her outfit, planned to celebrate with an afternoon of either golf or sailing...I'm not sure which.

Beame me up! AnaIvo won a tightly contested match with the Kuz (*just* like I had predicted!) 7-5 in the third set. She is sporting the new Star Trek line from Adidas:



Seriously, what are they thinking over there?!? I know they can't use the three strips thing all down the side anymore, but this is getting ridiculous!

Oh, and happy birthday to AnaIvo! She celebrated her 20th on court after her win!

****************

Next up tomorrow:

Henin vs. Jankovic - Oh dear. Of course, it promises to be a great match, but this is starting to look like Fed vs. Roddick. I see Henin pulling through with a very tight score.
Serena vs. Chakie - Hmm. This is a toughie. I fear that Serena's power may be just too much for the Chakster, and I'm not sure how she will react after losing that tiebreak with Henin today. I hate to say it, but I see Serena winning here (and if I'm wrong, I'll be happy!).
Ivanovic vs. Hantuchova - AnaIvo will win.

***************

The word on the street is that Nalby will NOT go to Shanghai just to sit around as the alternate. So, he is staying put, and moles say that Robredo is on the plane heading to the far east. Too bad.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Oh! And...

Lindsay won another tournament this weekend, the Bell Challenge in Quebec City. A tier III I believe, but still...it would be great to have her permanently back in the mix!

I'm Baaaaack! (WTA YEC)

Hey, everyone needs a hiatus sometime, right?

I knew this may happen, school plus tennis plus a new-found addiction (I'm in therapy, it's ok!) to msn chat have resulted in my poor tennis blog being left behind. But with the YEC right around the corner, I thought this would be as good a time as any to pop back on the scene.

This week kicks off the WTA's YEC in Madrid (ahhh, Madrid!). The eight qualifiers are (not in order, by the way):

Justine Henin - duh
Svetlana Kuznetsova - strong season, but still lacking that breakout win
Jelena Jankovic - great season, but Henin owns her
Ana Ivanovic - another great season, Henin owns her as well
Serena Williams - pretty shaky going into this YEC, but is already trash talking. Oh, and Henin owns her, too!
Maria Sharapova - even more shaky going into YEC than Williams. I'm wondering why she is even bothering to show up. Ivanovic, Williams, Henin all own her. Maria only got in when Venus withdrew, so she needs to send the sister a thank card, in my opinion.
Anna Chakvetadze - if she can control her emotions on court, she just may pull of a surprise or two.
Daniela Hanutchova - Dani played some of her best tennis to squeeze into the 8th spot, and if she can keep that going, she's got a shot. An outside one, but still...it is there.

They are divided into the following groups:
Yellow Group
Henin
Jankovic
Williams
Chakvetadze

Red Group
Kuznetsova
Ivanovic
Sharapova
Hantuchova

Horrendously lopsided. The yellow group is screwed, really. The only question that remains to be answered is who will advance other than Henin. I'm hoping Jelena. The red group would favor Sharapova, if she had actually played a match sometime in the recent past. I'm picking Kuz and Ivanovic, but I would love to see Dani come out of there, too. Really, I'm ok with anyone either than Serena or Maria going through to the semis. For some reason, I've had it with both of them.

Play kicks off tomorrow with the yellow group:
Henin vs. Chakie (Henin)
Sharapova vs. Hantuchova (go Dani!)
Kuz vs. Ivanovic (hmmm, I see AnaIvo coming through this one, but I think it will be the most tightly contested of the three matches).

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The men's YEC had a lot of last minute drama, with the final spot being decided in the later rounds of Paris.

The eight:
Roger Federer - duh
Rafael Nadal - duh, but he fell off during the end of the season again. If he ever wants to overtake Roger than he needs to figure out a way to have a consistently strong season.
Novak Djokovic - the Djoker will make things interesting and fun!
Nikolay Davydenko - certainly not in form, mentally or physically. First, the gambling speculations, and now he has been fined *twice* for not trying? This will be a tough tournament for him.
Andy Roddick - Didn't show up for the last two Masters Series, and qualified while sitting at home. We all know all that Andy really cares about is Davis Cup right now, so why not withdrawal so that someone else (NALBANDIAN!!) can have the spot? Some speculate that he doesn't deserve the spot, and while my knee-jerk reaction is to agree, you can't argue with the race. Nalby didn't show up until a bit too late, and Andy had consistent results. Still, if his heart isn't in it, then I hope he does withdrawal.
David Ferrer - depending on which group he is in, Ferrer can definitely cause some damage.
Fernando Gonzalez - oh Gonzo. Still searching for that form that saw him threw to the Aussie final. I love him, but I don't see him getting out of his group.
Richard Gasquet - Reeeechard squeaked in at the last minute in Paris when Baggy lost. Such a beautiful game, I would love to him put together some wins.

Missing, of course, is last year's finalist James Blake. Unfortunately, we may have already seen the best he has to offer...and I do say this with regret.

************

Doubles will come later. Suffice to say, Sam Stosur is sick, so the current champs will not be able to defend their title.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

First 4.0 match

Only it wasn't. Haha. Everyone plays up in fall/winter league, and while it may say 4.0, most of the players are 3.5s. Except for me, I'm a 3.0.

I started the night off by going to what I thought was my clinic. Turned out two people didn't show, so I had to play some singles with Diana. I knew she'd be looking for revenge after I finally beat her on my third try, but it wasn't going to happen tonight. Only one set, but I took it 7-5...same score as last time.

Then I high-tailed it up to Herndon for Under the Radar's first match. Robin and I were teamed up again, on court #3. Our opponents were both 3.5s, and they blew us away the first set, 6-0. Robin and I were a bit shocked and confused, but upped our net game, and I served out the second set at love for 6-3. In lieu of a third set tiebreak, we play a 10 point super tiebreaker. Robin and I came out strong, but had some kind of let down, and ended up losing the tiebreak and the match 10-5. It was almost like we had to remember how this whole doubles thing goes again...it has been awhile!

Funny...Robin was telling me about a tournament in Reston that she won a few weeks back...and how she got a silver plate and will have her name inscribed on a silver bowl. Yup, turns out she won the women's doubles Simon Cup. Evidently, one of our opponents tonight is also a RA member. Jeesh, they're everywhere!!!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Just because you couldn't see it...

Doesn't mean it didn't happen.

There was actually a lot of tennis action this week, though you only got to see a sliver of it, and that was only if you are one of the lucky ones with TTC.

First up, the ladies.

Maria Kirilenko followed up last week's title run with another final appearance, and kudos to her for testing Venus and taking her to three sets, but in the end Venus prevailed 6-3, 1-6, 6-4. According to media reports, it was an ugly match with a lot of double faults. Oh, and this was in Korea...the Korean Open, where if you win, they like to dress you up.



I just have...no words.

In China, the Guangzhou International Women's final pitted Tzipi Obziler (the 'old' Israeli) against Virginie Razzano. Razzano took this easily, 6-0, 6-3. Too bad...I kind of wanted to see Tzipi win it. I'll never forget watching some of her matches at Legg Mason a few years ago...she was fun to watch, especially when she got mad!

Zipping over to the Fortis Championships gave us a final that featured some more well known ladies. #2 seed Ana Ivanovic took on #4 seed Daniela Hantuchova. I got to see a bit of Hantu's semi against Marion Bartoli...she was very dominant. At least, that's what I could see when I wasn't cringing away from the screen because I can NOT stand watching Bartoli serve. It would have been nice to see Dani win something other than Indian Wells, but not today. AnaIvo captured the title 3-6, 6-4, 6-4. I have this recorded, but haven't watched it yet. But here are some fun pics:

AnaIvo's magic!



Ana with the trophy...which is interesting, to say the least.



Ana also sewed up a trip to Madrid for the year end championships when she advanced to the semis here...this puts her in with Justine, Jankovic, and Kuznetsova. Four more spots are still up for grabs.

The boys played, too!

Richie (Reeeeechard!) Gasquet was able to hold off any mental breakdowns long enough to capture the Kingfisher Airlines Open (whaaaa?) over Ollie Rochus, 6-3, 6-4.



Over in Thailand (aka the tournament where nobody showed up...proving that the boys are just as capable of ruining a tournament as the women are) Dmitry Tursunov easily defeated Benjamin Becker 6-2, 6-1.

This is important...because this was a hard court. With a Russian. A Russian who took the US out of the Davis Cup last year, and a Russian that will be on the team traveling to the US this year for the final. Look for Tursunov to play a pivotal part in this final.

Dima:



By the way, I will take a moment to exhibit my profound disappointment that the final will be Portland. PORTLAND??? I could have *driven* to Winston-Salem, but I guess now I can just save my tennis monies for something else...like maybe the Open next year!

HMPH!!!

Oh, and looks like Sunday will be update here on the good old blog. Extra posts may pop in if need be, but I will always try to update on Sundays.

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Not much going on with my own game right now...it was a quiet week. I didn't have a lesson because my court time was given away to a HS. I'm a bit perturbed by that. Carol wants to move me to Wednesday nights, but that is the *only* night I'm not already playing at Skyline...I want a night off to run, especially with some races coming up. I'd honestly rather double tennis on some other night, doing a lesson and then clinic. My singles flight starts this week as well, so it will be good to get some regular singles practice going.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

WTA: Off in Asia...

The women were in action again, too, with comeback mum Lindsay Davenport leading the way. This week she wasn't destined for the final, but made a deep run at the China Open before falling to Jelena Jankovic in the semis. Jelena got a bit of revenge for Bali, but needs to learn not to hit balls at her opponents between points, or Lindsay just might take her down out in the parking lot after the match!

Jelena followed that win up by choking the final away against....Agnes Szavay! She hasn't gone away! Jelena won the first set, and was up 5-1 in the second, which she eventually lost 7-5, and then went on to lose the final set. Hey, at least I feel better about my game when I see the pros do this.

Szavay was once again well dressed in that halter top that I love:



I tried like mad to make an avatar out of this, but just couldn't get the size right, and ended up making a nice one of Momo holding the Venus Rosewater dish. By the way, Momo played this week in China as well...but was defeated by Peng Shuai if I remember correctly (too lazy to go back and check now).

Also winning this week was Maria Kirilenko in India:



She had the easiest time this weekend, winning 6-0, 6-2. Nice to see her playing well finally! The doubles winners in India were Vania King and Alla Kudrysomethingorother (aka the girl who almost beat Venus in the first round of Wimby). Nice result for Vania, and that will help with Fed Cup doubles duty.

Tatiana Golovin also won this week, defeating Srebotnik in three sets in the Slovenia Open.

Davis Cup semis



The blazing Roddick serve carried US hopes this weekend, as the US beat Sweden 4-1 in the Davis Cup semi. Predictably, Roddick opened during the first rubber and won, surviving three tight sets against Joachim Johannsen. Thomas Johannson was up next, against perennial Davis Cup choker, James Blake. I love James, but not in Davis Cup. Blake went down in four sets. This pattern has repeated itself just too many times, and with a bench made up of talent such as Querry and Isner, if I were Pmac, I'd start thinking real hard about some substitutions.

Luckily, it didn't come down to that as the Bryan Bros. played an outstanding doubles match to win the second point for the US. They faced Jonas (Jonas!!!) and Simon Aspelin, who was part of the team that took out the Bryans in the US Open this year. This could have been trouble for the US, but the Bryans exhibited some just unbelievable tennis. Jonas and Simon didn't play badly at all...but they were just no match for the twins.

So, again, everything going according to script. US up 2-1 heading into the final day, and Roddick is once again in the position of 'closer'. The tie was on his racquet, and even a Swedish substitution couldn't throw him off. Jonas again put up a good fight, and I think it was a good choice to put him in instead of TJ (who got throttled by ARod at the Open...not a good matchup for TJ). Jonas is one of the best returners in tennis...but after three sets, it was the US team that was celebrating.

Finally! A Davis Cup final IN THE UNITED STATES!!! Russia helped us out here by winning 3-2 over Germany. I was *sorely* disappointed by Germany's decision to not play Haas in the fourth rubber after the Germans pulled off a stunning doubles victory to pull ahead 2-1. With Andreev on clay lurking in the fifth rubber, that was a *bad* decision. And it cost them. Youhzny and Andreev pulled through...especially Andreev, who won both of his singles rubbers this weekend.

The site for the final will be announced later this week, with Winston-Salem and Portland supposedly the two citites left in the running. There are some rumors that San Diego is still being considered as well, but some places are reporting that SD is out. If WS is chosen, I'm going to try my damnest to go...not too far away!!! And seriously, when would I get another chance to go to a DC final?!?

It won't be easy, even though it is going to be in the US. Roddick is not sure bet to win, depending on who he faces...though I like his chances against most Russians, but Tursunov, Youhzny, even Andreev could sneak by him. And Blake...oh, we can't count on Blake against ANYONE!!! I wish we could, but he just isn't a DC player...he gets way too nervous, and nothing he has tried is working. Depending on who Russia brings, I think Querry could do some damage, especially on a fast surface. So, Blake is not favored, Andy is pretty well favored, and the Bryans heavily favored...unfortunately, the doubles only counts for one point.

***********

Other notable news in DC...

*Even the mighty Fed could not save the Swiss, as they fell 2-3 to Radek Stepanek and the Czechs. Unfortunately, Stan was *not* the man this weekend...he lost both of his singles rubbers, and Fed and his buddy Yves lost in doubles.

*Serbia advanced to the World Group with a win over Australia. Serbia has a deep team, led by Nole, filled out by Janko, and includes a doubles specialist in Nenad. Look for them to make a run next year!

*Tim Henman played his final match on the grass as he helped Britain defeat Croatia (who was without Luby). Good-bye Tim, we'll miss you!

Henman and daughter Rosie:



*Israel, led by Dudi Sela and Erlich and Ram, are back into the World Group as well, with a stunning victory over Chile. Gonzo and Massu must be crushed!

*Hyung-Taik Lee led Korea back into the World Group...yay!

*Other victories included Romania over Japan, Peru over Belarus (and the Beast), and Austria over Brazil (and Guga).

So, I wonder how much tickets are going to be? *smile* That's what they made credit cards for, right?!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Big Fat Update...

Not quite yet! I'm working on it! Too much going on right now...more Lindsay news, and Davis Cup galore.

But this post shall be about me. *smile*

I just had a kickass lesson. One of those lessons where you feel yourself make a breakthrough, the lightbulb goes off, and you think to yourself...oh yes, I can go far with this, yes I can.

Unfortunately, my tournament schedule got shot to pieces. I *thought* I was playing a mixed tourny this weekend, and a women's tourny (doubles and singles) in two weeks. The club tournament got nixed because of a conflict with Nationals, and the Reston Association won't let me play in their little tourny because they are incapable of proofreading and may just be a bit snobby.

But there will be other tournaments.

The most exciting point of my lesson, though, probably came when Carol mentioned to me that she wants to teach me to teach...tennis!!! Could Topaz the tennis blogger someday become Topaz the Tennis Pro?! Who knows? We shall see how serious she is about this, and whether I can swing whatever she has in mind. It would be, of course, to work with beginners and kids, but still...I think it would be pretty neat!

So, let's see what all I've got going on here...my new 3.0 team, Barracudas, is not playing fall league, but I will continue to clinic with them on Saturdays once and a while. I will be playing fall league with Spinmasters, who are playing up at 4.0. It sounds like a big leap, but it really isn't, since they will be considered a 3.5 team once they get back from Nationals. In fall league, everyone plays up anyway, so all the other 3.5 teams will be up at 4.0 as well. The 4.0 teams...play 4.5. Yes, it is whacked, but the coordinator never seems to care. I told my old indoor team, Breakpoint, that I would sub for them at 3.0, but I'm not committed to that team. I have clinic for my outdoor team, still subbing in a 3.0/3.5 clinic, and private lessons with Carol...*whew*!!! I'm tired just typing all of this! I also keep going back and forth on whether or not to play mixed, but since I WILL NOT play 6.0 mixed, and I haven't really tried too hard to find a 7.0 team...I may just pass until January.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Lindsay wins! What does it mean?



It took three sets, and it wasn't the best tennis in the world, but Lindsay dominated the third set to claim the title in Bali (her second) in her first singles tournament on the tour since leaving to have little Jagger.

Now, the question is...what does this mean for the WTA tour?

This is my speculation. Lindsay beat two strong and active players in Jankovic and Hantuchova. I believe that she will be a factor in anything that she enters, but I remain skeptical that she will be able to hang with the top group.

But then again, what is the top group?

The rankings here are misleading, in my opinion. Henin is in a tier all by herself right now. #2 is Sveta. Huge difference there...one that was obvious for the whole world to see in the US Open final. I do not believe Sveta is the second best player in the world.

My top group would be Henin, Venus, and *maybe* Jankovic. I see Jelena as more of the top of the second tier, but she has had great, competitive matches with Venus and Justine this year. She needs a break through, though, much like her compatriot AnaIvo.

Second tier would be occupied by Sharapova (until she fixes that shoulder and serve, she will not be top tier...period), Serena, AnaIvo, Sveta.

I think Lindsay can hang with that second tier. I do not think she will threaten the top. But I do sincerely hope that she is enjoying herself and tennis again. She just didn't look happy that last year, and it was painful to watch.

Lindsay will be playing the China Open this week, and has a nice draw. She will face a qualifier in the first round. Another player making her return this week in China is Amelie Mauresmo. Yay! We need her back...nerves and all. Again...it will remain to be seen if she returns to the top tier, or hangs out in the second tier...my guess is second tier. But to me, she has nothing left to prove.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Quick Bali update...

Lindsay and Daniela both won their semis, and will meet in the final.

FedCup update...Franny and AnnaWiththeBraid are duking it out in a third set. Franny is dangerous in Fed Cup.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Lindsay marches on...



Unbelievably, Lindsay advanced to a meet-up with Jelena Jankovic in Bali...and won. It took three sets, but she just defeated the number 3 player in the world.

She had some help. Evidently, Jankovic came unglued in the third set. She was quite upset at the chair umpire, and it once again affected her game. She *must* find a way to stop letting this happen. You're the number one seed, at a tier III in Bali (dodging earthquakes and tsunami)...you need to find a way to keep it together.

Credit to Lindsay for not letting her opponent's self destruction derail her...she stayed cool, played high percentage tennis, and got the job done. I'm not ready to say 'She's back' just quite yet. When Hingis came back she enjoyed a lot of wins over top players...mostly because they hadn't seen her before and didn't know her game. Now they pretty much own her. It won't be the same pattern for Lindsay, but while I'm very happy with this result, I'm just being cautious. I'd love to see her have some good success on the tour, though.

Her next opponent is Sara Errani. On the other side lurks Hantuchova, with whom she has a good H2H record. Similar games, with Davenport with the technique edge, and Hantuchova with the movement edge.

They withdrew from the doubles draw, however. Too bad, I think it would have been neat to see them meet each other in the final, and also be in the final as a team in doubles.

**************




This weekend also features the Fed Cup final between Russia and Italy in Moscow. The Italians are huge underdogs, but don't underestimate them! They were huge underdogs last year to Belgium, and came through...albeit with a bit of help from Justine. The Italians will fight, and they have heart and passion. Francesca Schiavone leads the way as the highest ranked Italian, backed up by Mara Santangelo and Flavia Pennetta. If they were on clay, I'd think they would have a better chance with both Pennetta and Schiavone on their team, but the tie will take place on an indoor hard court. The Russians are leading with Kuznetsova, Chakie, and Petrova. One of their practice partners - Maria Sharapova. I *love* the fact that Tarpishev is making her earn her spot...especially after she's let them down so many times before. Furthermore, I think she is about as Russian as my pinkie. But if Tursunov can play, I guess she can, too.

**************

I had a good playing week...beating someone in singles on Thursday night that I had never defeated before...with a very painful foot to boot. I thought I had two tournies coming up, but I'm now down to one, as the club director turned the women's tournament into a men's tournament. Which really sucks. They have men's tournament all through the summer...I think it is the gals' turn!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Lindsay watch...



Lindsay Davenport is very carefully dipping her toe back into the competitive waters this week in Bali, a tier III event. She is playing doubles with Daniela Hantuchova (that's a tall team!) and is playing singles for the first time since Shangai last year. She won her first match against Eleni Daniilidou convincingly at 6-2, 6-2, at one point reeling off 20 points in a row. Daniilidou is no slouch, either. Next up for her is Julie Ditty, an American that she should destroy pretty easily. That would set up a likely showdown with the #1 seed, Jelena Jankovic.

And what I wouldn't give to be able to see that match! It will be Lindsay's first true test and a good indicator of how far this 'comeback' will go. She is 31, after all, and fitness and movement were never her strong points. But the technique is flawless. It at least gives the WTA tour a shot in the arm after all the criticism leveled during and after the Open.

Interestingly enough, Jon Wertheim countered that criticism by pointing out that there were plenty of close and competitive women's matches...they just weren't the matches scheduled and shown on primetime. He raises a good point...often the best matches of any tournament are those players relegated to the outer courts. Yet another reason to visit the Open in person next year...I won't be at the mercy of any producer who thinks they know what I want to see.

Lindsay and Daniela are also still alive in the doubles draw after winning their first two matches.

Lindsay has also come under some scrutiny because she is returning so fast after the birth of her son. Many people have accused her of 'abandoning' her child. Those people should do a bit of research...all accounts have reported Jagger courtside while she practices and trains, and it isn't just her job to raise her child, she is married after all. It really surprised me to see so many people assume that she was being selfish and irresponsible. She isn't dead...she had a kid! And she's fulfilling all the roles in her life with the help and support of the other person responsible for the kid. If you ask me, that is how is should work all the time!

Monday, September 10, 2007

To my dear readers...

All three of you! Hi! *waving*

No, I'm not leaving.

Sorry.

Daily posts will probably not happen anymore though, especially on nights when I don't get home until 9pm (like tonight!), but at least I get home so late because I'm playing tennis!

I'm not sure if I'm going to stick to some schedule, or just post when I feel the need. We do have two ATP and one WTA event happening this week, highlighted by Lindsay Davenport's return to singles (and she's teamed up with Hantuchova to play doubles...they already won their first match over a wilcard Turkish team). So, there is stuff to talk about, I'm just not sure how to fit the blogging into the schedule yet.

Or, feel free to leave suggestions in the comments if you like...

Thanks!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

US Open: The finale.

It is over. One more Grand Slam wrapped up and put away to bed. But while the GS season is over, we do still have some exciting Davis and Fed come play coming up, as well as a few Masters tournies and of course, the year end championships.

The man in black came through once more. Nole had his chances, over and over again, he had leads, he had breaks, he had break chances...and every time he was denied by our champion. It was a good match to watch though, and even though it finished in straight sets, you can't get too much tighter than 7-6, 7-6, 6-4. Nole served notice, though, that he belongs in the same breath as Roger and Rafa. Maybe even inching ahead of Rafa? Maybe so, especially since, for the second straight year, Rafa has kind of disappeared during the summer hard court season. Nobody questions his dominance on clay, but that is only one of three surfaces.

Our champion, Roger Federer, the man in black, Darth Roger:



Rog and Nole before the match...I really liked this picture:



And our runner-up, in what is arguably his break-out year:



Some other thoughts:
*Sharapova was in the Djoker's box. Hmmm. However, she was not donning the Adidas YOC shirt that the rest of the box decided to sport today...which I thought was totally cool by the way.



And yes, the rumors have already started.

*The first time they showed Mirka she was chewing...oh great, more ammunition for the people who pick on her weight. Then the next time, she was checking her watch...maybe hoping Rog would wrap it up soon? Then, finally, she was cheering him on. One thing though...with all the money she and Rog have, and with how much they 'hang out' with all these top designers...I can't stand the clothes she wears. Really strange stuff, and the top she had on today was not good at all.

*Mary Carillo sounded like she was sick and/or congested. She sounded like a man!

*We all know about the Djoker's habit of bouncing the ball a bazillion times before serving, especially under pressure. But against Roger he seemed to rein it in...do you think he was afraid of ticking off his opponent and then suffering the wrath?

There was other tennis and champions crowned today:

Women's doubles winners Dinara Safina and Natalie Dechy with runner-ups Yung-Jan Chan and Chia-Jung Chuang:



The juniors wrapped up today as well. From left to right we have girl's runner-up Urszula Radwanska, girl's champion Kristina Kurcova, boy's champion Ricardis Berankis, and boy's runner-up Jerzy Janowicz. The countries they represent are Poland, Slovakia, Lithuania, and Poland, respectively. Think the Bloc is catching up? I think so.



And that's a wrap.

************************

Only it is not a wrap. Because this blog is also about *my* tennis game, and well, there is no off season for me! Though if there were, the next few months might be considered one, just because I'm not playing the fall women's season. I do, however, have two tournaments coming up in the next month, and the MCM10k at the end of October. My foot has been feeling much better...it still hurts from time to time, but I ran four miles today with nary a hint of pain, and very little afterward. I just wish I knew what it was that was making it better, so I'd make sure I keep doing it. Buying new shoes for school may have helped, plus all the various inserts I've been experimenting with. Who knows?

Carol has struck the same deal with me that Greg did, that if I organize and run an evening singles flight I will get another year of free membership dues. That would take care of me up through April of 2009! Sweet!

And I took my first clinic with my new women's indoor team on Saturday morning. It was a long morning of tennis, as I had my lesson with Carol at 9am, then I stuck around and hit serves for a while, then buzzed down to Springfield for the clinic at 11am. The women were all quite a bit older than me, except for Susan (who I knew and met during outdoor season), who is maybe only a few years older. So yeah, youngest on the team again. But that is fine, because I'm there to play singles, and while these ladies definitely have skills (some wicked slice from this one woman, it was insane!) they aren't about to run back and forth a lot. Me and Susan are the new singles players.

Now, my plan will be fine as long as I don't get moved up. Two months ago I was dying to get moved up to 3.5, but since I play up anyway, the master plan is to play 3.0 singles and 3.5 doubles. If I do get moved up, I could appeal down, but I'd be eating crow, as I was very vocal about my displeasure regarding some players who did that last season. Oh well, it would be the first time I ate it!

US Open: Women's final

Yup, still no surprises. Henin routed Kuznetsova 6-1, 6-3. *yawn* Now, on one hand, JH has been pretty amazing the whole tournament. She did not lose a set in two weeks, and went through two Williams sisters (although only tested to the limit by one of them). But she has admitted to not being a huge fan of playing in NY, where it is loud and raucous. While serving for the match, some jerk in the audience shouted out during her toss. She caught it, with an annoyed look on her face, and then was so unnerved that she threw in two double faults in a row. To the crowd's credit, they were so silent for the next few points that is was eerie. And I'm sure the idiot who called out was probably hung and quartered by his fellow fans nearby (or at least he should have been). I'm all for cheering and stuff, but like I said, this was loud, disruptive, and during her toss. Not cool.

I actually think the players are a bit too uptight about the fans...they are, after all, the ones who paid the money to watch. The players should be good enough to serve if a few people are moving around. Sometimes 90 seconds isn't enough time to find your seat along with a few hundred other people.

But I digress.

Yes, all credit to Henin for staying focused when she very well could have come unglued. Speaking of unglued...Sveta pretty much played like crap. I think, by the end of the first set, she had something like five times the UE on her FH than winners. That is poor. She just didn't have anything to hurt Justine with, and then couldn't stop the Henin ball from steamrolling her. Everything Kuztie does, Justine does better. Kind of like Roddick and Federer. Roddick is good, but just not on the same level. Sveta was not on the same level as JH. You could see the visible disappointment on her face afterward...she looked crushed. Well, she had been crushed. She will rise to #2 in the rankings on Monday, but last night the gulf between #1 and the future #2 looked like way more than just one spot in the rankings.

Our champion:



Today we will see Fed and Nole square off. I think anyone with half a brain is picking Fed, though hopefully Nole will make it a match. Yeah, Nole beat him in Montreal, but that was not a GS and not a best of five. Plus, Nole has been a bit twitchy in his last few matches. I think he will do well, but for now, he will still be relegated to runner-up. But hey, if you're Roger's runner-up, things aren't that bad, are they?

A cool picture of Fed that I found, just as a teaser:

Saturday, September 8, 2007

US Open: Men's semis

Yeah, no surprises here. Djoko and Fed both advanced in straight sets over Ferrer and Davydenko, respectively.

Djoko had a slow start, called the trainer when he was up a set and a break (he was feeling sick and/or not breathing well?), he was bothered by the crowd that normally he so loves to entertain, but still won in three. He did his normal strip tease after the match, and now we know where he gets it...his dad also stripped off his shirt and threw it into the crowd. Those crazy Serbs!!!

The Fed/Davy match had more breaks than a women's match! But since Davy couldn't hold his own serve, you bet you could count on Fed to hold his when it really mattered, and he did. He just has that extra gear he kicks into when he needs it.

I expect Fed to come out on top tomorrow, especially since Djoko was so twitchy today, but I do hope for a good quality match.

Because I fear we won't see one tonight in the women's final. They are probably already etching JH's name on the trophy. No offense to Sveta, but I just don't see her suddenly getting it together mentally enough to beat the queen.

Friday, September 7, 2007

US Open: Women's semis, Men's doubles final

Again, I missed most of today's action, but I've skimmed through what I had recorded. First up, men's doubles.

The final was contested betwen Dlouhy/Vizner anad Aspelin/Knowle. Aspelin and Knowle, who took out the Bryan Brothers and Ram/Erlich, were teaming up for the very first time at the Open. I find that utterly amazing! How can this 'hodge-podge' team beat such established partnerships? I wish we could have seen some of the earlier matches, but you've heard me comment on the upsets as they happened...they just kept falling until the final was played between two teams that were never under consideration or even on the radar. This, as they say, is why they actually play the matches!

Some of the commentators mentioned the current break ups and shifting around of teams during this match. It was reported during the French Open that Knowles/Nestor were breaking up...a change initiated by Nestor so he could team up with Nenad Zimonjic, who was partnering with Fabrice Santoro at the time. But then, they won the French! They stayed together for Wimby, and then I never heard anything again. I even wrote into Jon Wertheim to ask what he knew, but he never answered. As a matter of fact, he's never answered any of the questions I've written in! *hmph* Ok, anyway, it turns out they will stay together for the end-of-year championships, but then they are done. I'm not sure if Nestor is still going with Zimonjic or not. But I did like how one of commentators compared all the moving around to an episode of Desparate Housewives. Though, for Knowles and Nestor to break up...man, that's big. They were in each others' weddings for crying out loud?!? I think they mentioned Hanley and Ullyett to break up, too, but I'm not sure if I'm remembering correctly, and I didn't write it down, so don't go to the bank on that one.

Did I mention that Aspelin/Knowle won?



The first women's semi pitted youngster Anna Chakvetadze against 2004 US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova. I had picked Chakie to win. I was wrong. I was also forewarned that this was an ugly, ugly match. And it was indeed. Chakie took the first set and then seemed to suddenly remember where she was and that if she kept playing well (and Kutzie kept donating points) that she would be in the final. That was it, she was undone. Kutzie won the next two sets at 6-1. Hopefully, the next time we see a youngster in a big moment, they will rise to the occasion, instead of folding like we saw from Chakie today, and from AnaIvo at the French final. I do not put Marion Bartoli's Wimby final in that category, because I think she did fight back the nerves and believed that she could win it right up until she didn't.

This match was widely regarded as a stinker, and Peter Bodo even posted about it here. He took offense at not only the tennis, but also Sveta's visible struggles with fitness in her appearance. One wonders, with how well she moves now, how much better she would move if she could lean out a bit. But again, not everyone is 'blessed' with the lankiness of Sharapova or Hantuchova, a body type that is aesthically more pleasing to many people, but not without drawbacks in the movement department as well.

Mary Carillo and Mary Jo Fernandez were commentating in the booth for this match, which I thought was interesting since they rarely put them together. I guess because the women were playing the put the girls in the booth. Whatever. I like each one individually, especially MC, but I don't think they play against each other very well. MC had a slight gaffe when she said A-Rad was still alive in the girl's singles. I gasped, as I knew that she wasn't even entered!!! MC quickly realized her mistake and corrected herself...it is U-Rad, the little sister and #2 seed, who is still alive in the juniors. I knew that already, and I'm not paid anything to know it and I don't have a research department. *sigh* Some people get all the best jobs!

MJF ticked me off a bit when, after it became clear that both girls were choking something fierce, she said that there isn't anything to be done in that situation. Bullshit. It is a freakin' Grand Slam semi-final!!! You pull yourself together and start remembering all the time, practice, blood, sweat, and tears you have put in to get where you are and start playing some tennis! I don't care if it is easier said than done, but I'm willing to get Chakie got more money to lose today than I make in a year, and at that level, you *have* to be able to pull it together. Unless, of course, the entire tour is riddled with headcases and chokers. Oh...wait a minute...

Some days it is real hard to defend the WTA tour, as much as I am a fan.

The 'winner':



The second semi, Venus Williams and Justine Henin, was being touted as the 'de-facto' final. Which is kind of funny, because until JH beat Serena, *that* match was being called the 'de-facto' final. Did they not think the reigning Wimby champ would make it this far? They should have, especially after seeing how she started the tournament. But hey, understandably, Venus's wheels can come off anytime, but JH can also be stricken with 'fatigue' and 'tummy-ache' at any time as well.

At least this appears to have been a quality match. I've watched a bit, but I already know JH won 7-6, 6-4. When I got home I had turned on the TV and saw that they were still playing (well after my DVR had quit) and it was 5-3 in the second. I don't know what the difference was that made the match for JH, but regardless, Venus had a great tournament and set a good example for little sis to follow, though I doubt Serena would make the effort or even see the need for her to do so. Rumor has it she is pregnant (Serena). God help us...I hope it is just a rumor. The thought of her being a parent is completely frightening.

I think, when she smiles, that JH is actually pretty:



She is to meet Kuznetsova in the final tomorrow. She is going to win.

While all this was going on, Djokovic decided to take a visit into the city and get some culture. A trip to a rehearsal at the Met apparently ended up with him trying out a few notes on stage. Evidently, he shouldn't give up tennis anytime soon.



How can anyone not love this guy? He is a great player, will probably still get much better, and such a great personality. Let's hope he sticks around for a good, long time.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Update...

Djoko in, Moya out. Still a good showing from Moya, the 'old man' of the draw. Wonder how long he'll stick around? Interesting to note that the last Spaniard standing is Ferrer, and then Moya. Not Nadal!

US Open: Day 5,308....

I have no idea what day we're on...11, 12? Somewhere around there.

The further a tournament progresses, I always end up with a difficult paradox. On one hand, it is getting more exciting because only the best are left. On the other hand, there aren't as many matches to watch or read up on or follow. And that is kind of sad.

The Open crowned its first champions today in mixed doubles. The Belarussian team of The Beast (Max Mirnyi) and Victoria Azarenka took the mixed doubles crown over Leander Paes and Megan Shaugnessey. Hey, if nothing else, there was at least one American in a final! I wonder if Belarus will be a force at the Hopman Cup early next year?

Here they are, today's champions:



The earlier men's quarter saw David Ferrer continue his recent hot streak by eliminating Argentinean Juan Ignacio Chela. It was apparently a pretty routine, straight sets affair...didn't hear much about the match, and I couldn't watch it because of that whole job thing.

Ferrer, who can *almost* get away with the white socks and black shoes combo:



The last spot is still being decided between the Djoker and Carlos Moya. So far Moya is putting up a valiant fight, but he is falling just short...down two sets and a break. I think everyone is pretty much penciling in a Nole/Ferrer semi. And maybe even a Fed/Nole final, which will be interesting to see after Montreal. I don't think the result will be the same, what with this being a GS and Fed being...Fed.

Moya



Nole



And, of course, the women will square off in their respective semis tomorrow. I still don't know who to pick in the Venus/Justine semi, but I'm going to go ahead with Chakie of Kutzie in the other one...with Anna making her first GS final.

While I was sleeping...

Actually, I did manage to stay awake for what seemed to be the best parts of this match...the first two sets. Give credit to Andy, I think he gave it his all. I don't understand his strategy against Fed though...it seems he always wants to take him to a tiebreak, but Fed always wins the tiebreaks. Andy doesn't have the ground game to outrally Fed or even break him, so why always go for the tiebreak? Granted, it might be his best (and only?) shot, but Fed demonstrated just how good he is at those tiebreaks in the first two sets. Third set looked more like what we're used to seeing, with Fed wrapping it up with a bow at 6-2. Andy, no matter how much heart he puts into it, just doesn't have the variety to beat Fed. I don't think he ever will at this point, either.

But again, hats off to Andy for once again relishing a match-up with the best of the best, and giving it his all:



Fed was quoted afterward as saying, "It was a tough match and he was serving out of a tree," said Federer. "But I came through in the end. It was a beautiful night." A beautiful night of only 18 unforced errors...this guy is just unbelieveable.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

US Open: Day 10 - I hate my job.

Ok, actually I don't hate my job, but I do hate that I can't tell you anything about the men's matches that happened today, other than who won, and really, you probably already knew that, right?

Davydenko defeated my boy Tommy in three. Oh Tommy...what happened? You needed me there, didn't you, and I let you down? Actually, from what my TTW peeps have posted, it wasn't that great of a match to watch. I didn't record it (getting short on space on the DVR), so again, Google might be a better friend than me right now.

Instead I offer you...the winner:



Two women's quarters took place today, and the upsets were nowhere to be seen. Sveta took control over Szavay (who is still to be commended for her great play of the recent weeks as well as her fabulous fashion sense) and Chakvetadze took out Peer, which was a bit of a surprise for me. I like both players, but it would have been nice to see Peer make a breakthrough here...instead, the 'breakthrough' will go to Chakie, who needs one, as well.

Our winners:





Sveta and Chakie will meet each other, and Henin will meet the winner of the Venus and Jelena, which is happening right now. To make up for my earlier absence, I give you my play by play thoughts on this match! (Whether you want it, or not!)

Our valiant warriors:





1st set
*J breaks V to open, very unexpected
*J being aggressive, coming to net, very good game plan
*V has lots of FH errors already, maybe getting a real coach and some better technique would help?
*V not attacking and being out rallied by J
*J breaks V again to bring it to 4-1
*V breaks back and holds, J up 4-3
*J keeps the ball deep and in the corners, good patience, however using a slice FH not a good idea against V, holds for 5-3
*V holds, 4-5
*J serving for set, V starts rocketing back returns and showing us great athleticism, at 40-30 J sends V line to line, draws the error
Jelena wins first set 6-3

Second Set
*J again breaks V in first game
*V turns on the aggression, comes into net A LOT! Starts smoking second serve returns, cleaning the lines, and even some great saves by J can't old off V
*What V is doing now is what Serena couldn't manage last night, adjusting and raising her game. Maybe big sis needs to hold a clinic for little sis?
*V serves for set at 5-1, J looking dejected.
*V's FH is finally working again, and though J brings it back to deuce, V holds on for second set, 6-1.

Third Set
*After all those breaks, they both manage to hold serve for the whole set! Unbelievable!
*V has some GREAT net play, and it is making a big difference. Great adjustment to get herself back in this match.
*J has hit some great lobs in this match, and the fourth one happens in the third set. Not a surprise that they came from her BH side.
*V showing great footwork, you can hear the tiny adjustment steps (are you watching Serena?)
*Some great smiles after points from J, so nice to see!
*God, love J's down the line BH! She's a drama queen, but a fun one, love it!
*V saves a BP with a big FH save!
*Another FH error from V helps J hold
*at 4-5 V is serving to stay in match and delivers 4 huge serves to give her easy put aways and a 40-0 game. That is what you call stepping up! 5-all!
*V has the FH swinging volley down, again, please teach Serena
*V still has some huge, ugly FH errors, but she is going for it!
*J holds!
*V holds! J does a split!
*V serving on her AD, great pass by J
*V serving again on her AD, J's BH just barely out
*Third set tiebreak!

Third set tiebreak
*J sends a BH long, V 1-0
*missed the point, I was typing, J won it, so 1-1
*V firing deep FHs, J's FH goes long, V up 2-1
*J sends another FH long, V up 3-1
*J sends yet another FH long, V up 4-1 (is J tired? She doesn't usually hit so many UFE?)
*long point, J's FH goes into net, V up 5-1!
*V hits a deep FH, up 5-2
*V hits FH long, up 5-3
*great swinging FH volley by V, up 6-3
*bad BH miss by V, up 6-4
*V serving for match, first serve in net!
*second serve in, another swinging FH volley and it is game, set, match, Venus Williams! Her first time into the semis in five years!

Great post match interviews by both ladies. Jelena disappointed, but still smiling...great to see a player with some perspective on the whole thing (are you listening Serena?), maybe because she still knows that even though she lost the match, she doesn't have bombs dropping on her head anymore, and that is a very, very good thing.

Next up for Venus...Justine. This should be another great match, but unless V cleans up that FH, I think Justine will take it. The de-facto final? Might be.

Much has already been written about Serena's disgusting behavior after her loss to Justine yesterday. I don't have anything to add that hasn't already been said, other than add my belief (to many others) that if Justine had been in Australia, Serena wouldn't have won. And did she show up for her sister tonight? Nope. What a brat. And she has the nerve to bring up the fine for missing the presser? Whatever...kids are starving and living in poverty all over the world, and here is this brat who has MILLIONS acting like a complete baby. I'm pretty sure I won't be able to conjure up any kind of support for Serena ever again.

Fed and Rod up next. I'm not planning on staying up and watching it. Sorry, but I'm exhausted from these late nights, and I'm pretty sure I know what is going to happen. Maybe I'll wake up and be surprised...who knows.

Other tidbits...
*Szavay is still alive in doubles! She plays tomorrow morning against the #5 seeds.
*Speaking of #5 seeds, we lost them in the men's doubles draw...Hanley/Ullyett out. Who the hell is going to be left to win this thing?
*Peschke/Stubbs are still in, and looking real good at this point. Dechy/Safina take out #3 seeds Sugiyama/Srebotnik. Umm, who the hell is going to be left to win this thing???? I'm rooting for Szavay (watch, now she'll lose tomorrow!)
*U-Rad, A-Rad's little sis, won her second round girl's singles match!
*Tomorrow's mixed doubles final features Shaugnessey/Paes against Azarenka/Mirnyi. Go Leander!
*Jimmy Arias played Todd Martin in the Men's Champions singles today...he lost, but I still love Jimmy! I would love to see and hear him commentating more, though...he is much better than some of the yahoos we've got now.

All for now my fellow tennis freaks! Tomorrow will be tough, I won't be home until 9pm...guess I will set the DVR for Djoko/Moya...definitely don't want to miss that one!

While I was sleeping...

Ferrer did what many knew he was capable of doing, and knocked out Nadal in four sets last night. I didn't see much of it at all...too bad. The score line indicates at least three sets of good tennis. In checking the scores this morning, I saw a picture of Nadal sitting on the court, and thought that was a bad sign...I was right. How much did knee-gate factor in? I'm not sure...going to have to read up a bit.

I did read a few post match comments from Serena, and she predictably refused to give Henin credit for raising her game and plowing through the second set of their highly anticipated match. When is she going to learn that doing that makes her look like a sullen little baby?

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Check Serena for a pulse...

She's about to go down...hard. And it seems like she doesn't care all that much. Does Justine own her? Is she in Serena's head?

Oh man, triple match point for Justine.

Now, THAT was a return. Still double match point.

That return went into the net. *shaking head*

Justine takes it, 7-6, 6-1. Serena...pwned.

That was kind of ugly in the end. I'm no Serena fan, but that match sucked. And it begs the question, if Justine had been in Melbourne, would Serena have won? Right now, I think not.

Nadal is up next, against Ferrer. It isn't going to be easy, especially if his knees really are sore. The next chapter in Nadal Knee-gate.

US Open: Day 9 - Doubles Troubles

Alright, what the H*LL is going on with the doubles teams? Today we lost not just the Bryan brothers, but also Knowles and Nestor! What in the world is going on? I throw my hands up in disbelief and confusion!!!

Some more quality five setters occured today, not that I actually got see any of them. My county frowns upon teachers live streaming tennis matches while they are supposed to be teaching, and rightfully so. Just, the timing kind of sucks, can't we start school *after* the Open? I mean really, is that too much to ask?

Anyway, back to the five setters. Chela today said "No Stan, you are not the man. I am the man." by eliminating Wawrinka (not just Fed's practice partner anymore). I was hoping Stan would come through and holding on to the slim chance of an all-Swiss final, 'cause they make good cheese and watches. Ok, actually, I'm not even sure that would be possible, I'd have to check the draw, but I was still hoping Stan would pull it out. Not this time.

Moya and Gulbis (who is the singular representation of Latvian tennis) duked it out in five sets as well. Moya, the veteran, came through, and I'm sad to say that I haven't had a chance to actually see Gulbis play. They either haven't shown his matches while I've been watching, or they've shown him while I haven't been watching. I've heard fabulous, great things...maybe he'll come to Legg Mason next year? I mean, c'mon, Latvia isn't *that* far away? If what I've been hearing is true, we will all get many more chances to see this youngster play. And once again, I have to give a shout out to Starlite for bringing Gulbis to my attention way before he started making any headlines. The girl knows her tennis!

Nole took to the court today, along with Juan Monaco and a whole entourage of trainers. This is was a GREAT match! We pretty much knew it was going to be close, and Monaco did push it to four sets. They were all close but Nole took it in the end. This kid is really mentally making great strides, not to mention his tennis!

One interesting thing happened, though, that you don't regularly see...during the third set tiebreak Monaco lost a point because a ball fell out of his shorts pocket. Because it was the second time it happened, he did lose a point (first time is just a warning, and according to the commentators, happened earlier in the match). He was wearing the YOC Adidas shorts, so guys...beware if you chose these shorts. Don't lose your balls. *smile*

Szavay is also playing women's doubles, and is into the semis! What with everyone else being eliminated, someone has to be left to play! If she doesn't make the single's final, we might see her in doubles! (Well, 'see' depends on the damn networks.)

Boy, I'm grouchy tonight.

Right now, Justine is a set and a break up on Serena. I found myself, during the first set, rooting for Serena. It is hard to believe, but I think she is freezing up. She looks tight. She doesn't look like she actually believes that she can beat Justine. She isn't stepping into returns and ripping them. She isn't serving all that great either. She did get back a break in the first set, but then lost in the tiebreak. I don't know...something about her is just off. I'm hoping, just for the sake of the match and the hype and the people poured into the stadium to watch her, that Serena decides to turn it on. Soon.

And, she needs to work on her footwork. Next to Justine, it is really obvious that she isn't moving her feet enough. One of the reasons Justine can hit so big, even though being so small, is that great footwork.

There was a 'C'mon'...is she waking up? Is it too little too late?

Meanwhile, today's heroes:



Monday, September 3, 2007

So much for the hair gel...

Feli gave it a good go, but Fed takes it in four.

Next up, Roddick. Vamos Feli! Good effort!

Day 8: The day James, Tommy, and my pro almost kill me.

Match of the tournament. James Blake vs. Tommy Haas. Un-freaking-believable. It is this match that made me decide that next year, come hell or high water, I will be at the US Open, at least for the holiday weekend. I don't care if I have to go alone. I will be there!

Anyway, back to the match.

Two shot makers, who, thanks to some mental fragility on both parts, saw massive momentum shifts. But Tommy was the one who, after losing the first set, really woke up, found some energy, and just raised his game to an unbelievable level. It gives you a glimpse of what might have been if Tommy hadn't of been so plagued with injuries throughout his career. He was just playing on a whole different level for the fourth set during which he handed Blake a bagel (just in case he was getting hungry!).

The fifth set was classic. Serving at 4-5 Haas saved TWO match points. That means Blake lost TWO match points. Ugh!!! Once in the tiebreak, just looking at James' face...I felt like he was in trouble. The ending was anti-climatic, with the last two points both being challenged. Haas wrapped it up with an ace that just clipped the line. His smile was as wide as James' disappointment. You could tell during his on court interview with Mary Joe that he really wanted to tell her to leave him alone...but he is way too nice for that. Oh, my heart ached for him. It sucks that someone had to lose this match, but Haas was the better player today.

Today's warriors:





On the women's side, things got back to normal a bit, with many of the 'upset' teenagers bowing out. The notable exception was Agnes Szavay, who took out Kimmie Killer Julia Vakulenko (Mary Joe confirmed for me today that Vakulenko was indeed the last player to beat Kimmie, speculating that the lose finally sealed the deal on the early retirement). Szavay also wins best dressed for the tourny:



Classy, yet unique, yet totally appropriate. Last week it had a ring in the middle of the twist, but I think I like it better without the hardware.

Shahar Peer is taking full advantage of being in the 'weaker' half of the draw...first by taking care of Vaidisova, and today dispatching A-Rad, who did everyone the courtesy of beating Shriekapova. A-Rad's Adidas dress confirmed that she does not have a clothing sponsor, since she was in Nike yesterday. Hopefully she's gotten someone's attention, and that will be taken care of after her run through this tournament.

Chakvetadze easily took care of the last Austrian standing, Tamira Paszek, and Sveta dispatched Victoria Azarenka, who really did seem overwhelmed during this match. Who will be the one in the final? Sveta? Anna? Aggie? Peer? I would say Chakie right now, if pressed, but I think they all have a chance.

The women's doubles draw is an absolute mess now, as Raymond and Stosur LOST today...to Mirza/Mattek. Yes...Mattek. Of the horrible outfits. Maybe all the lame distracted Raymond and Stosur...but man, this was their's for the taking!!!! Umm, go Sugiyama? Who's left at this point? I have to go check...all the serious contenders are gone.

Roddick got an easy pass to his quarterfinal when Tomas Berdych retired in the second set. It was reported that Andy then went out and practiced for another hour, since he didn't really get a lot of play in today. It remains to be seen if that will help him (keep him fresher) or hurt (lack of competitive match play). Everyone is assuming that Fed will come through, and I think he is just going to spank Andy one more time. Andy hasn't really had any wins over any top players in a loooooong time, and knocking off Fed is going to be too much to ask.

Assuming Fed wins. Unbelievably, he lost the first set to Feliciano Lopez, who must have put on his super strength hair gel tonight for this match. Right now he is playing out of his mind...let's see if he can keep it up, because we all know that Rog is not going to panic or choke.

Davydenko also advanced today, taking out the Korean Lee. He will face Haas, and I hope Haas mops up the court with him! Gooo Tommmy!

Tomorrow night...Serena vs. Justine, round 3. The other women's matches aren't being played tomorrow...odd scheduling decision, but whatever. I may have to get some special beverages for this match.

*****************

As for my game, the forehand was reallyl grooving nicely tonight in clinic. My pro decided he was going to try to kill me and the other girl tonight...and I'm exhausted. Just beat! This is usually my 'easier' clinic, but not tonight. But hey, a good workout never hurt, and now I will be ready to get a good night's sleep for the first day of school tomorrow. But I can't decide what to wear!!! :)

Day 7: A good day to have a grounds pass.

The action at Ashe today was pretty straightforward, but it was on the outer courts where you would have found a couple of five-setters and a few upsets yesterday.

Starting with this guy:



This is Ernests Gulbis. Never heard of him? That's ok, I hadn't either until TTW member Starlite requested some pictures of him from people actually going to the open. He is from Latvia. He just turned 19 on August 30. He is currently ranked 88, but has been as high as 79. And last night, he took out #8 seed Tommy Robredo. In straight sets. Now, Disco Tommy has been struggling of late, but this is still a pretty big upset. These guys also provided entertainment well into the night as they didn't even take the court until around 11pm. And they were scheduled as part of the day session!

The delay was in part to the many five set matches that took place on the men's side yesterday. David Ferrer took five to defeat David Nalbandian; Chela won in five over Ljubicic (who still can't find GS success), and Stan the Man Wawrinka took five sets to dismiss American Robby Ginepri, who, despite the loss, seems to have finally found his tennis again. And I don't know what they have in the water in Switzerland, but Wawrinka's backhand, just like Roger's, is a thing of absolute beauty.

There are a lot of Spanish and Latin American players still in the men's draw...proving that those players have made the adjustments needed to play on hardcourts as well as they do on clay. Now, if the Americans could only do the same thing and transfer their hardcourt knowledge to clay! Anyway, two countrymen battled over what was Hewitt's spot in the draw, with Juan Monaco edging out Augustin Calleri. Nadal's knees looked pretty good as he took out Tsonga, who just seemed content to have made it to the third round. Djokovic defeatead Juan Martin del Potro in a night match that was...kinda dull. Both night matches on Ashe, featuring Henin and Djoko, held no surprises.

Oh, and there is one more five setter I'm forgetting! Carlos Moya continues his stellar season and play with a five set win over Philip Kohlschreiber of Germany. The old man can still play!

The highly anticipated match-ups of V. Williams/AnaIvo and S. Williams/Maid Marion ended up being a cake-walk for the sisters. I was surprised, and more than a little disappointed. We had the French Open runner-up and the Wimbledon runner-up fold like day old sandwiches. They didn't believe, so they lost and lost pretty quickly.

The seeds in men's doubles are falling as fast as they did on Saturday in the women's draw. Melo/Sa defeated Bjorkman/Mirnyi (what is up with them this year?), and Aspelin/Knowle took out the last team to beat the Bryans, Erlich/Ram. I would pencil in a Bryan/Bryan and Knowles/Nestor final, but I'm almost afraid to!

The women's doubles were not completely without upsets either. Molik/Santangelo are out. Stubbs/Peschke are hanging on, though, and took three sets to defeat Hantuchova/Hingis. With the #1 seeds out, I would say it is for Raymond/Stosur to win or lose, but there are still a few teams lurking about that could give them trouble.

The juniors also got underway yesterday, and A-Rad's little sister, Urszula, is the #2 seed in the girl's singles draw. Look out Williams...there may be a new sister act in town!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Day 6: A good day to be a teenager.



Alright, got to start with the big news. Defending champion and #2 seed Maria Sharapova was ousted in three sets by Polish teenager Aggie (yeah, I'm not even going to try how to remember spelling her first name) Radwanska. Radwanska, interestingly enough, doesn't appear to have a clothing sponser. She was all decked out in Nike, but the top was last year's and her visor said 'US Open'. It just goes to show that all the endorsements in the world don't matter a lick when you're out on the court (got that Maria? Now, go practice that serve and find a real coach.) Maria threw in 12 double faults, and Radwanska caught a bit of fired for moving in really close to the service line for Maria's second serves. I'm not sure why some people (Jim Courier) had such a problem with that...it is perfectly legal, you can stand as far in as you want. Most pros don't because their opponents are bombing away with their serves, but Maria was clearly not doing that yesterday. And, AnaIvo did the same thing to her in their French Open semi, and it worked really well there too (though AnaIvo wasn't criticized for it like Aggie). If Maria gets so unnerved by her opponents moving so far in for her second serve she needs to do one of either two things...#1 - Stop playing professional tennis or #2 - Get her head and serve together once and for all. To Maria's credit, in her post match interview, she said that she had no excuses for her performance and was very gracious to her opponent.

It is almost like the 'next generation' of teenagers got together and made a pact to take out a whole bunch of seeds yesterday. Schnyder was taken out in a third set tiebreaker by Tamira Paszek. Petrova received so much on court treatment that they should have relocated the match to an ER, and lost to New Haven's Hungarian darling, Agnes Szavay. After winning the first set, Martina Hingis won only ONE game in the last two sets and got obliterated by Viktoria Azarenka. Maria Kirilenko, a cute youngster herself, found herself on the short end against Kimmie Killer Julia Vakulenko. So who did win who was seeded? Kuznetsova and Chatvetadze, both strong bets to make it out of that bottom half of the draw now. But wouldn't it be cool to see someone else, like Szavay, come through? Like I mentioned before, Jon Wertheim picked Szavay all the way through to the semis...doesn't look so crazy now, does it?

But there was still one more match from that half of the draw to be decided last night: Peer vs. Vaidisova. Two seeded players going at it to keep their hopes alive in a very open draw.



This was the best women's match of the evening session so far. Highly competitive and some really good tennis. In the first set Vaidisova, in her first tourny since collapsing mentally against AnaIvo at Wimbledon, came out really strong, winning three straight games before Peer could blink. But Peer is scrappy, and never gives up. Down 1-4, she won the next 6 games to take the first set. Nicole hit way too many errors in that first set, and her FH, when she gets it in, is great. But too often, she sprays it all over the place. Are these young ball bashing women never taught any control? Anyway, it was clear from the get go who was the aggressor (Vaidisova) and who was defending (Peer). The thing is, Peer is a really good defender, and from the commentators discussions, it became clear that Peer and her camp are working on turning her into a more aggressive player.

The second set started out exactly like the first...with Vaidisova up 3-0 really quickly. But again, Peer climbed back in, but this time, Nicole cleaned up her errors and hung on to win the set 6-3. Peer was effectively using a low backhand slice against Nicole, but may have started using it too much and spending too much time playing defense.

The third set was not as streaky. Peer got a break and was serving for the match when she went back to defense, and let Nicole break her right back. Peer needs to learn to go out and take the match, don't wait for someone to hand it to you. They evened it all the way up to a third set tiebreak, in which Vaidisova just donated a few too many points, and Peer took it 7-5. Vaidisova has a beautiful forehand, but she's got to learn to control it. That and her mental game, which is pretty widely known as immensely fragile by now. Temper, temper!

One the guy's side, today was the day of the widely anticipated Federer/Isner match up. True to form the first set went to a tiebreak, and unbelievable, Isner won it! Roger pulled out his champion's play, though, and pressed down ever so slightly on the accelerator and that was it for the rest of the match. Roger wins in four. But Isner acquitted himself well...somehow, this guy just doesn't get nervous! Yes, yes, he still has things to work on, but he took a set, something that other players either have never done, or haven't done in a real long time. When Isner gets more solid on the rest of his game to back up that serve and can last five sets, look out.

This was a fun picture:



The men's night match featured Stefan Koubek (who?) and James Blake. You want to know a bit about Koubek? Well, he is Austrian. I think he is 30 or 31, so in tennisland, an 'old' guy. He is short. He is....a lefty, caucasian, really blonde version of...James Blake!!! Only on speed. This guy came out ready to play. He is as fast as James, and the match up pitted his FH against James' BH. Not good for James. They split the first two sets, and I drifted off to sleep somewhere in the third. This morning I find out that James won in four sets, and it looked like Koubek faded a bit in that fourth set. But man...this was entertaining to watch.

And, there were lots of service breaks. Both of these guys were good returners. But when there are lots of service breaks in a women's match, they get called mentally weak. *sigh* The double standards, they drive me crazy, yes they do. There is, and always has been, just as many mental head cases and chokers on the men's tour as there are on the women's tour. Got it? GOOD!

But a great day of tennis was had, and today looks to be just as fun, only maybe with less upsets on the women's side. But today, either AnaIvo or Venus will be dismissed from the tournament, which is a tragic shame, because both should be going futher and not meeting so early in a GS. So Venus, get your damn ranking up already, would you? Ok, thanks!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Mourning update...

Pun intended.

One of my dark horse picks to go deep in the tournament, Lleyton Hewitt, was outsted by Calleri (WTF?) last night. I hope Hewitt doesn't let this disappointing loss keep him from a working on a late career mini-comeback. Would love to see him cause some damage at the Aussie Open and the resulting fan craziness that would surely follow.

Friday, August 31, 2007

US Open: Day 5 - Good-bye Tim.



For me, an even bigger story today than Nadal's Knee-gate was the conclusion of Tiger Tim's fabulous tennis career. As he played his second round match against Tsonga, you could often see a bit of a smile, a smirk almost, on Tim's mouth. Almost as if he knew a big secret that he wasn't letting the rest of us in on. And maybe he did. In his on court interview after the match, he expressed no regret (he shouldn't) and spoke with the conviction of a man who knew he was making the right decision at the right time. Plus, he sounded very excited about playing his final Davis Cup in a few weeks, on none other than the Wimbledon grass. We'll miss you Tim.

Nadal is playing as I write this (as is Hewitt), so I will save him and his knees for last.

The women's draw is finally starting to get a bit more interesting...I may start to salivate soon. Serena and Jelena were both pushed today (Jelena to three), but both came through, relying heavily on their experience. Ahsha Rolle's fairy tale came to an end today at the hands of Dinara Safina. Also leaving us today were Safarova (Beaten by Bartoli, hmm, what happened to her? She was beating Henin earlier this year! Lucie, I mean here, not Bartoli) and Dementieva (who got obliterated by Moms Sybille Bammer). Now that a few rounds are out of the way, the match-ups are getting good. Serena and Maid Marion. Venus and AnaIvo! Oh My! <---insert Dick Enberg voice

Some doubles news real quick...the #1 seeds on the women's side (Black/Huber) are OUT! They were beaten today by Maria Elena Camerin and Gisela Dulko! What?!? Hingis and Hantuchova are continuing their successful (so far) partnership, and teenage boys everywhere are rejoicing. Men's Wimby champs, Clement and Llodra, were beaten by Americans Kuznetsov/Levine. Jesse Levine was the kid that Fed flew out to Dubai to practice with him. I guess some of it rubbed off...either that, or maybe the US should start focusing on churning out doubles teams. Another American team, Justin Gimelstob/Amer Delic took out Booty and Stretch, as well! What's going on?!? One interesting pairing I just noticed today in mixed is that of Sania Mirza and Mahesh Bhupathi. They beat a formidable team in Elena Likhotseva and Daniel Nestor. I think they have a good shot at the title.

Ok, back to the men.

It is with much sorry that I announce that Wayne Odesnik's train has finally pulled into the station. He went down to #20 seed, Juan Ignacio Chela, in straight sets. Still! A good showing for Wayne, and let's hope he doesn't have to stay in Isner's shadow much longer.

A pretty big upset occurred when Philip Kohlshreiber took out #11 seed and last year's semifinalist, Mikhail Youzhzny. Poop. That sucks. Mardy Fish lost a tough five setter to Disco Tommy, and Nole just barely survived his five setter against Radek Stepanek. I wish this had been a night match so I could have seen it...I bet it was great. This match also receives today's Insane Score Award. Nole won 6-7, 7-6, 5-7, 7-5, 7-6. WHAT?!? That's sick!

Hey, guess who else is out? That's right! Everyone's favorite basketcase...Marat Safin. He lost to the suddenly hot Swiss (who isn't named Federer) Wawrinka. Whatever. Safin is done. Maybe he should have had the surgery instead of rehabbing the knee the old fasioned way. He has never been the same, and he never will be. A shame.

A nice surprise win for American Robbie Ginepri! He beat Gabasvili convincingly in three sets. Other winners today include Gulbis (the Latvian wonder!), Ljubicic (remember him?), Nalbandian (remember him?), del Potro (looking very strong and dominant), and Moya (awwww!).

Now, as I wrote this, both Tipsarevic and Nadal took treatment. (I think Nadal did, Tipsy is still in his chair.) The condition of Nadal's knees has been the focus of much discussion and a more than a few arguments (TTW) today. This is my take:

*Nadal played right after Wimby. On clay. Stupid.
*Nadal has made the necessary adjustments to his game to suit a surface not familiar to him...that being grass. He's been quite successful. Why won't he make those same adjustments so that he can play on hard courts without so much wear and tear? Is it that it will be too much of a change? Flatten out the strokes a bit? Finish at the net? I know hard courts are harder on the body. But if a player refuses to change a game that also contributes to tearing up his body, who is more to blame? The surface? Or the player? Here's a hint for the answer...which one of those two has a brain?
*Yes, JohnnyMac, the tape does help. I had tendinitis in my left knee from running. Taping helps. So does...rest.
*In the argument of surfaces...yes, clay is easier on the joints. It isn't necessarily easier on the body as a whole, because the points are longer. It balances out, and again, in the end run, it is up to the player to make the adjustments necessary for each particular surface. If Nadal does not, he will go the way of Guga. Remember him?

Anyway...Nadal is going to win this match. Tipsy, as much as I like him, is being outplayed, and also struggling with knee problems.

EDIT: I love it when I'm right! *smile* Nadal won, Tipsy retired. And it was his ribs he was getting treatment for, not his knee. Nadal marches on, and Knee-gate continues!

Tomorrow is the big-matchup! Federer vs. Isner! I won't be home, so I'm setting the DVR, and I better get it on there! I might have to erase some other matches to make room...but I will do my best. I may be home by then...I have a 'back to school' shopping date! More than likely, I will run out of money before the match begins!