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
*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!

The Morning Update: Blake vs. Santoro

I tried my best to stay awake, but drifted off somewhere around 4-3 in the last set. I have to say, when that fifth set started, I thought Blake looked like he believed...that he believed that this time, he would be the one to prevail in five sets. A few games later, the conviction was not as strong, but it still seemed like he had an edge over Santoro, especially when the Frenchman started playing the 'trainer trick'.

And, I want it never, ever to be said, that only the women play these games. The men are just as practiced at gamesmanship as say, Mary Pierce. And, if you're not breaking the rules, then all is fair. If a rule needs to be changed, then the players can work on that. If the rules aren't being enforced, who is at greater fault...the player or the chair ump who is not doing their job?

But again, props to James for pulling this through, 6-4, in the fifth. This should be a huge confidence builder.

Will this be Santoro's last open? The game of tennis would mourn his retirement, as there is nobody else who plays like him.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Go Wayne...

Keep the train going...Wayne is facing off against Juan Ignacio Chela tomorrow morning at 11am on court 11.

*sending good tennis vibes*

Atatu/Old School sent along this great article:

Weston's Odesnik Enjoying His Summer

US Open: Day 4 - Wonder Woman?

Is it better to be known for your bizarre fashion sense on the court rather than your game? I wonder if she puts as much effort into her game that she does her...outfits. One on hand, I'm all for it, it is a free country and you can wear what you want. On the other hand, it makes me cringe, mostly because it draws the wrong type of attention to the women's side of the sport. How can women players be taken seriously when they look like this? And, still, on one more hand, I cringe because IT LOOKS BAD!!! Most women try to draw attention away from that chub on the hip...but many tennis players (not just Mattek) sit their skirts just below that bit of chub, making it look so much worse than it actually is.

Another busy day at the Open! Mattek lost, by the way, and the only reason it is of any notice is because we won't get to see what other horrendous outfit she'll pull on next. (Oh, and if you are going to say it is 'Wonder Woman' inspired, then it better have a gold bustier and a blue skirt with stars on it. Don't insult us Wonder Woman fans!)

Donald Young's good play got a bit of luck today as well, when his second round opponent, Richard Gasquet, withdrew and handed Donald a free pass to the third round. Gasquet, yet another French headcase (and I love them all, by the way), evidently had a fever and was ill. Along the same lines, Andy Roddick got a 'get out of jail free' card when his opponent, Jose Acasuso, retired after snatching the first set from Roddick. To be fair, Roddick won the next two sets handily, and was more than in control of the match.

One of the hardest working guys on the court, Korean Hyung-Taik Lee, took out #14 seed Guillermo Canas (guess he won't be facing down Federer again anytime soon). A great win for Lee! Feliciano Lopez, always dangerous on hard courts, battled Igor Andreev for five sets before prevailing. Winning in four sets, and today's winner of the Insane Score Award, was former Grand Slam champ Thomas Johanssen over Arnaud Clement, 6-4, 7-6, 6-7, 7-6.

Andrew Murray answered a few more questions today by outlasting Jonas Bjorkman (Jonas!!! I love Jonas!) in five sets. Murray's fitness has always been in doubt, along with his ability to win a tough five set match. Well, it may not have been that was five sets, but the fifth was 6-1. Maybe a better indicator will be how he plays his next match.

As for the Germans, Tommy Haas has been quietly making his way through the draw, like he normally does, while Nicholas Kiefer's comeback was brought to a halt today.

There's some big news on the doubles side. Damm/Paes are OUT!!! Oh, Leander...NOOOOO! They lost in three sets (guess the US Open decided best in five in doubles was stupid...good call) to Benneteau/Mahut! WHAT?!? BAD LOSS!!!

John Isner played dubs with Scott Oudsema, but they were taken out by another all American team...some guys by the name of Bryan brothers? Maybe you've heard of them?

And Justine Gimelstob's US Open isn't quite done yet...he is playing mixed with Ashley Harkelroad, and they won their first match. I imagine he is probably playing men's dubs, too, but I'm too lazy to look it up right now. ----> Yes, he is...playing with Amer Delic.

Jelena Jankovic turned down Jamie Murray's request to play mixed because she said she wanted to conentrate on singles. Which is fine. But she had time to team up with Severine Bremond to play women's dubs. Interesting. They got killed on the court though, so Jelena will have plenty more time for singles.

Lots of youngsters made their way through the women's draw today...Radwanska ended Razzano's strong playing streak, Azarenka advanced, as did Szavay and Vakulenko. Remember these names...they are, IMO, the future of women's tennis.

The women did lose two seeds today when #22 Schiavone lost to Tamira Paszek (another youngster with solid results) and #22 Srebotnik lost to none other than Maria Kirilenko, who is finally proving that she does more than look pretty on court.

Right now, the 'Magician' Fabrice Santoro is taking on the J-Block. Oh, and he's playing against James Blake. Blake won the first set, but Santoro is up 5-2 in the second. Santoro is just the kind of player that can give Blake lots and lots of problems. Blake's 'A' game will more than likely not be too effective against the crafty Frenchman. The problem is that Blake has no 'B' game. Santoro has enough game to run through the whole alphabet! I'm recording this one, because we may not see Santoro again at the Open, and he is just too much fun to watch. Honestly, I believe that Blake will pull this out, but he is going to have to work really hard for it. I do think there is a chance that Blake will fall apart though, giving Santoro the huge upset. A big question mark surrounding this match is fitness...mental and physical. Santoro can last five sets mentally, but can he physically? Blake can last physically, but he has NEVER won a five it is in his best interests not to let it go that far. Oh, JMac just got done saying...Blake is 0-9 in five setters. It will be fun to see how this pans out!


Just a bit about me...I played GREAT in clinic tonight!!! What must I do to play that way in a match? Looks like the Frenchies aren't the only mental cases on the block, hunh?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Nadal's Knees

Whoa...Jim Courier just reported that Nadal almost didn't play his match today because he had laser surgery on his knees! But, because he had so much family coming, that he went ahead and played.

Smart? I don't think so. Why would he chance an even more serious injury? His ranking is not in jeopardy. He'll have other chances...but not if he blows out his knees.

US Open: Day 3

Hats off to Tiger Tim Henman today, as he pulled through his first round match, one in which he was a pretty big underdog, against the Californian Russian Dmitry Tursunov. This is a good win for Henman.

Another big match on the men's side today was the highly anticipated first round match-up of mental case Marat Safin and up and comer Frank Dancevic. This match also gets my Insane Score Award, with Safin coming through in three sets at 7-5, 7-6, 7-6. I was wishing I had TV today, so I could have watched this match.

Also winning today, but also raising some doubts, was Rafael Nadal. He won his match against WC Alun Jones, but he dropped a set in doing so. He also received treatment on court for his knees. This is not a problem you want during a hard court event. Johnny Mac reported on USA that Nadal looked 'wobbily' and had trouble stopping. I think Nadal must be waiting to slide, and the slide doesn't come on a hard court. He is going to have a tough road ahead of him.

That brings us to Fernando Gonzalez. Amazing at the Aussi, and pretty much absent since. He dropped his first two sets to Gabashvili before fighting back, only to lose in the fith and final set. *shaking head* What is going on in his camp?!?

A mini-upset - Korolev is out, losing in five sets to none other than Stanislaw Wawrinka, who continues his strong recent hard court play. Other winners on the men's side today include Disco Tommy, Youzhny, Moya (whoot!), Ginepri (who handed out a bagel), Tsonga (hopefully we'll get a glimpse), Tipsarevic (hopefully we'll get much more than a glimpse!), Fish (looking strong), and none other than Latvian Ernests Gulbis, who took out a seeded player in Italian Potito Starace.

Federer is yet to play, and Isner is up a set and a break. A third round match-up between the two is looming, and will be much anticipated by most hard core tennis fans. We don't expect Isner to win, but it will be interesting to see how he handles The Serve.

No major upsets occurred (so far) on the women's side. Serena is currently on court, having a tough first set with Maria Elena Camerin (a fiesty Italian, I like her), but is now up a break in the second set. Something of note, though..Asha Rolle made good on her first round upset of Golovin by defeated Knapp in three sets to go into the third round. Definitely the best results we've seen from her...ever.

Some of the double are finally taking to the court today, and I noticed some interesting match-ups while perusing the schedule. In mixed, Wimbledon champ Jamie Murray is teaming with Leizel Huber, one of the best doubles players on the women side. No offense to Jelena, but this is a step up for Jamie. I expect them to go far. Natalie Dechy and Andy Ram are teaming up again, and they thrashed the team of Maria Kirilenko and Igor Andreev, 6-1, 6-0.

Women's doubles includes, of course, the top teams (Black/Huber, Raymond/Stosur) but also winning today was the team of Daniela Hantuchova and Martina Hingis. Since Daniela is out, and Martina will probably not get too deep...maybe these guys could pull a doubles upset? They are both strong doubles players with quite a few doubles GS titles between them. They will be a team to keep an eye on.


My own play continues to slump. The change of grip on my forehand is making a difference, but it isn't there in match play yet. It could also be that for this league, which doesn't count toward ratings, is just not a priority for me right now. I goof off in matches, and don't concentrate or focus. I almost feel like I'd rather forego the matches for now to work on improving/changing things in my game. I'm giving serious thought to skipping the next short season (the fall season that will go October to December and includes some mixed play) and doing just that...working on the game and the technique problems that I know I have.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

US Open: Day 2 - The train is pulling into the station!!!

Yup, that's right, Wayne 'the train' Odesnik advanced to the second round of the US Open with a FIVE set win over Danai Udomchoke and a score of 7-6 in the fifth set (what with the US Open being the only grand slame that allows a fifth set tiebreak). Odesnik's next opponent will be Juan Ignacio Chela, and again, I think he's got a chance. Go Wayne!

Today's Insane Score Award also goes to a men's match, that of Arnaud Clement and Ivo Karlovic. This is the match that I, along with many others, dubbed David vs. Goliath. You know what happens in that story, right? David wins. And he did today, as well, but it took a lot of hard work. Clement wins 7-6(5), 6-4, 4-6, 6-7(6), 7-6(2).

Amer Delic lost in straights to Lleyton Hewitt. This was not unexpected, but Peter Bodo has a nice article up on his site about the 'fall' of Delic. Good reading - Should I Stay or Should I Go".

Other winners today included Djokovic, Xavier Malisse (hey, where's he been?), qualifier Pavel, and the 'magician' Fabrice Santoro. James Blake advanced, but not without being tested 7-6, 6-3, 7-6 by American grinder Michael Russell. Stepanek is in a tough match as I type this.

Who didn't win today? Well, Sam Querry. A disappointing loss in straights to Koubek. Somewhat unexpected after a strong hardcourt summer, but this may point to possible improvements that need to be made on his mental game.

The ladies side suffered its loss of a high seed today when #9 Daniela Hantuchova lost in three sets to Julia Vakulenko (who was one of the last people to beat Kim Clijsters before her retirement). Daniela...well, see above comment about mental improvements.

Some question marks surrounded Nicole Vaidisova's return after a lengthy absence from the tour with mono. She had an easy win today, but the questions will remain until she faces stiffer competition. A possible quarter with Sharapova may loom in the future.

Sania Mirza backed up some solid summer hard court play with a tough three set win ove Kai Kanepi. Also winning today were Virginie Razzano (continuing to play some of her best tennis this summer), Victoria Azarenka (the promising junior is slowly but surely making progress in both singles and doubles), and Pauline Parmentier (a qualifier who is now into the second round).

I know there's plenty of matches still going on or yet to be played tonight, but I have a late match, and then must be off to bed. School night!

Monday, August 27, 2007

US Open: Day 1

So, this is going to be a bit tricky, because I can't stay up and watch the later matches. I'm not ignoring them, but if something big goes down while I'm sleeping, I won't know until the morning. Hey, what can I say? It is a school night!

But there is plenty to talk about so far today. As I type this, Serena is dusting off her game and polishing off the first set against Angelique Kerber. The match followed a pretty routine win by Venus.

I'll stick with the women first, because there isn't as much to talk about right now. The opening rounds tend to be...uh...boring? Lots of roadkill, with the occasional good match.

One score that did surprise me was Marion Bartoli's easy victory over young American Alexa Glatch...6-1, 6-1. I thought Alexa would be more of a battle, but it wasn't to be. The Most Insane Score award goes to moody Russian Vera Zvonareva. She beat Jidkova 6-0, 6-7, 6-0. Uh, what happened in the second set Vera? I hope there weren't tears involved!

There was one big upset on the women's side. Asha Rolle, a 22 year old American, defeated #17 seed Tatiana Golovin in three sets. Good for American tennis? Yes. Good for women's tennis? No. Rolle's visibly not in shape, and almost makes Bartoli look svelte. What does this say about the WTA tour? How can these women, who are obviously not in athlete's shape, get so far? Is it just that they are in shape, and just not blessed with the right type of body? Is it luck? Who knows...but I don't see Rolle getting too much further in the draw, especially since she is in the loaded up half of the draw. Golovin is prone to mental lapses...maybe this match was one of them.

Now for the men. Andy Murray came out strong today, winning his first match in three routine sets. I correctly predicted a good match between Lee and Hrbaty, and they battled it out for five sets before Lee prevailed (yay!). Benjamin Becker was dismissed from the tournament in five sets as well.

The battle of the sneaky Spaniards did not go how I expected. JCFerrero, the #21 seed, was taken out by Lopez. Another Spaniard, Verdasco, dismissed the #22 seed, Mathieu. Maybe Mathieu was still 'hung over' from New Haven and his tough loss to Blake? The young Belgian, Steve Darcis, did manage a set over my boy Tommy, but was sent off in four sets by the veteran. Rapping Vince Spadea will have more time to work on his rhyming since he is out as well.

Three really big things on the men's side. First, John Isner, after dropping the first to #26 seed Jarkko Nieminen, came back to win in four sets. His first grand slam match, and he pulls through. Gotta love the mental game of this guy. Next up for his is qualifier Rik deVoest of South Africa. I like Izzy's chances, and if he gets through that one, he will more than likely meet the man, Roger himself, in the third round. Second big thing...Donald Young got another ATP tour win, and his first grand slam win in four sets. He will meet Richard Gasquet next. Logic would say to go with Gasquet, but Gasquet rarely follows logic. That will be interesting to see. And finally, a big upset occured when The Beast, Max Mirnyi, serve-and-volleyed his way past #18 Marcos Baghdatis. Oh Marcos! He's got way too good of a game to let this happen, but if he's isn't going to put in the work, then he better get used to going home while the party is just getting started.

Serena up a break in the second...I think I can go to bed and not worry about missing anything groundbreaking. But seriously, Serena, for the love of all that is good and holy...TAKE THE DAMN BOW OFF OF YOUR DRESS!!! Great dress...stupid, dippy bow. We know you have thunder thighs, we love you anyway.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Roddick gets no love in an article in the Washington Post.

Yesterday's Hope is Today's Has-Been

US Open: First Round Matches to Watch

I approached this post by looking at the draw and saying to myself "If I were at the Open, which matches would interest me? Which ones would I try to go see?"

Here they are, in no particular order:

Federer vs. Jenkins - Any chance to see Fed live would be cool, plus I'm an armchair fan of Scoville Jenkins. At least the kid will end up laying on Ashe for his only match, right?
Ferrero vs. Lopez - A battle of sneaky Spaniards...that particular breed that can play well on hardcourts as well as clay.
Karolovic vs. Clement - David and Goliath...worth mentioning just for the size discrepancy.
Gimelstob vs. Roddick - Just like at Wimbledon, Gimel will play his last US Open match against Roddick. Roddick doesn't seem to like him much, and Justin doesn't seem to care. I think this will be entertaining, though, and both of them should be diving onto the hardcourt at least a few times.
Kiefer vs. Spadea - If Spadea plays well, this will be a good match. Kiefer has played well since coming back on tour. The Rapper vs. The Racquet Thrower.
Murray vs. Cuevas - Notable only because it will be a chance to see if Murray's wrist is in shape or not. Cuevas is a qualifier.
Hrbaty vs. Lee - Should be a good quality match, a baseline throwdown.
Haas vs. Darcis - The veteran vs. the new kid. My money is on the veteran, but Darcis has a chance.
Mirnyi vs. Baghdatis - Marcos should win, but may be an interesting match anyway.
Ancic vs. Djokovic - Oh Mario. What a horrible draw!!! Nole should win, but hopefully Mario can make it hard for him.
Wawrinka vs. Korolev - Wawrinka played well in New Haven, but nobody else was really there. A good match.
Tursunov vs. Henman - Bad draw for Henman. This will more than likely be his last US Open match, but Tursunov is capable of giving it away as well. I saw them play each other at Legg Mason in '06, and Tursunov won in straight sets.
Dancevic vs. Safin - Duh.
Tipsarevic vs. Sweeting - The forgotten Serb vs. the American brat. But my real reason? Janko is hot.
Odesnik vs. Udomchoke - DUH!!! GO WAYNE!!!

Schiavone vs. Dechy - Equal to a Tier II or III final.
Vaidisova vs. Kudryavtseva - Notable to see how Vaidisova is playing. Kudryavtseva almost took out Venus in the early rounds of Wimby, so this could be a potential upset. One to keep an eye on.
Mattek vs. Brengle - A battle of Americans, and I would want to at least pop in to see what Bethany is wearing.
Loit vs. Razzano - A battle of Frenchies, plus Loit has a tricky game, and Razzano has played well as of late.
Srebotnik vs. Molik - It sucks that we'll have to lose one of these players in the first round.
King vs. Shaughnessy - More Americans, this time the youngster vs. the veteran.
Dulko vs. A. Bondarenko - Two players that have had close to break out years. Should be a decent match. Dulko just won the tourny at Forest Hills.
Bartoli vs. Glatch - What shape, mentally and physically, will the Wimby finalist be in? Glatch could take advantage here, if she doesn't get overwhelmed (and I don't think she will).

Lots to watch!!! Unfortunately, it will be my first day back at school and I'll more than likely be stuck in meetings all day. *insert frowny face*

US Open: The Qualifiers

Qualifiers are tough. They come into a tournament having already played a tournament just for the honor of playing in...the tournament! The are match tough in the first round, when other, more highly ranked players are sometimes scratchy. They can be looked at as an easy opponent, but many have made that mistake and fallen.

I will be looking at a few notable names (to me, anyway) in each draw. If you want a complete list, the US Open web page will provide it.

The Men:
Alexander Waske - I saw this German play doubles last year. I liked his game and try to follow his name whenever I see it pop up in draws
Steve Darcis - Like Dancevic in Indy, Darcis made a name for himself by going through qualifying all the way to the final of a tournament. From Belgium, he left most people going...'who'? EDIT: My bad...Dancevic was the last main draw acceptance into Indy, he didn't have to go through qualifying. Still, an impressive run and some strong, entertaining tennis. Good catch, Atown!
Scoville Jenkins - One of those American hopefuls, but we haven't heard much from him lately. He tends to be outshadowed by the Donald Young hype and game. Unfortunately, he opens against Federer.
Paul Capdeville
Andrei Pavel
Rainer Schuettler - Hey! That was a surprise...a blast from the past.
Rik DeVoest
Dudi Sela
Bjorn Phau - Opens against a strong opponent in Moya.
Frank Dancevic - Saved him for last...he got stuck in qualifying because his ranking was too low at the time everything is decided. It is good to see him get through, since his current ranking probably would have been enough to get him direct acceptance into the main draw. He has Safin first. I can't decide who this is worse for...Safin or Dancevic. Honestly, I pick the youngster to go through, relegating Safin to yet another disappointing loss.

The Ladies:
Kira Nagy - Notable only because she will be Venus' first round opponent.
Emmanuelle Gagliardi - Hanging around.
Tsvetana Pironkova - When I saw VW would be playing a qualifier, and I saw Pironkova had made it through, I really hoped they would be drawn against each other in a re-match of the Aussie first round that saw Venus' early exit. Not to be, though, as Pironkova will be playing Olga Poutchkova.
Sandra Kloesel - Veteran German will face the newest sensation, Agnes Szavay, in the first round. There are question marks surrounding Szavay...will she be rested enough after New Haven? How is the back?
Alina Jidkova
Tatiana Perebiynis
Zi Yan - Again makes it through qualifying...could cause some minor waves if she keeps playing the way she did earlier this summer. She opens against Bychkova, and I pick Yan to make it through.

Writing off Pilot Pen...

Let's just get this out of the way first, shall we?

Everything went almost as expected. Blake over Fish. Bhupathi/Zimonjic over those other guys. Kuznetsova over Szavay...but with an asterisk! Szavay WON the first set, and retired in the second set trailing 0-3. She had been saying for the last few matches that she was exhausted having come through qualifying all the way to the final. Let's hope she has something left for NY. Kuznetsova finally wins a final that she makes an appearance in, but it came with the retirements of her quarter, semi and final round opponents. It says that she is fit, yes, but that was never in doubt. It is her mental fitness that was the question, and I don't think she has been tested or proven anything in this tournament, regardless of 'winning' it.

The big upset came in women's doubles...#1 seeds Black/Huber were defeated by Mirza/Santangelo. Very surprising!

Pilot Pen...a cute little tourny placed in the worst possible place EVER in the schedule.

Now, on to bigger and better things!

Friday, August 24, 2007

New Haven Update

Most of the finals are set, with Blake and Mathieu battling it out right now for a place in the men's final.

EDIT: Blake just prevailed over Mathieu in a third set tie-break, setting up an All-American men's final. US Open series organizers are probably drooling over this, but the timing, and maybe legitimacy, is still in question.

The women's final will feature Kuznetsova, who won after Dementieva retired in the third set after a grueling first two sets. She will play a new face...qualifier Agnes Szavay. I don't know much about her, so I looked up a bit of info: She is Hungarian, currently ranked #41 in the world, owns WTA and ITF singles and doubles titles, but has never been past the second round of a grand slam. As I mentioned in a previous post, Jon Wertheim picked her to come out of the bottom half of the US Open draw, so evidently people are liking what they see in her play. I won't be able to watch the match tomorrow, but will be recording it for later.

The men's doubles pits one of my favorites, Bhupathi, who is partnering Zimonjic for this tournament (hmmm, that could be a strong team!) against Fyrstenberg/Matkowski. Women's doubles is Black/Huber vs. Mirza/Santangelo.


My personal losing streak continued tonight, with a 6-1, 6-3 loss in 6.5 combo play. I just don't know what is going forehand has completely left me, and while I'm playing strong at the net, I'm not putting the volleys away, which is just giving my opponents another chance. All topspin on my forehand side was non-existent tonight...things were sailing waaaay long. *sigh* Maybe all the lessons aren't worth it...everyone has their own way of teaching, and now I'm just all mixed up and confused because I've taken from so many different pros. Not by choice, by the way...they all have a nasty habit of getting fired.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

And, oh!

Today was my first day back on the courts, at Carol's clinic, in a week! I have never, ever gone that long without playing. Well, not since I got back into it a few years ago.

And, man, I know Carol and I are working on my forehand, but it was almost like I didn't know how to hold the racquet tonight! So I went back to my old way of slapping forehands and way too much wrist stuff going on, and she got mad!!! Aiy! At least my backhands were still good. We did a down the line backhand drill that is my favorite.

I stayed afterward to play a set of singles with Diana. Diana is hopeless in clinc, but put her in a singles match, and she is a whole new player. She beat me previously 6-3. Tonight she got me 6-2, but the games were closer. But, I had a lot of trouble keeping that stupid ball in the court! Argh! But I like playing her, she is a smart player, and it is good practice.

I had hoped that the week off would help the plantar fasciitis in my foot, but oddly enough, it hurt the entire week, even though I didn't run or play tennis spent a whole lot of time on my butt. So, if rest doesn't help it, I don't know what will. After playing tonight, it is very sore, but I haven't iced it like I usually do. *sigh* I guess I will just keep trying different types of shoes and inserts, and maybe finally go to the doctor. It has been 10 months of pain in my left foot now, and nothing I've done seems to help.

I have three matches in the next two days...back into the fire I go!

Double duty in New Haven.

Because of the backlog of matches caused by rain, the men of the Pilot Pen had to pull double duty today.

James Blake started off his day with Calleri, and was triple match point down when he seemed to wake up and think "Hey, that's right, I'm playing tennis!" He came back and won the match 6-1 in the third set! Unbelievable come-back, but if he starts off his matches that flat, he will run into an opponent that won't melt like Calleri did under the pressure of the J-Block.

At one point of the match, Blake seemed to believe that Calleri's coaching camp was doing more than the usual amount of coaching from the stands. He mentioned something to the chair ump (Fergus Murphy, I believe), at which point Calleri took offense, and for the rest of the match there were barbs going back and forth between Blake and Calleri. Blake's habit of calling out 'Too good' at some of Calleri's winners only seemed to infuriate the Argentine even more. After the match, Calleri walked off to boos while Blake was still trying to talk to him. Made for an unusual match, especially since it was involving Blake, who is widely considered one of the nicest guys on tour.

Blake then set up an evening match with Verdasco, and I had thought this might be a tough test, but he was through in two easy straight sets.

One has to wonder, though, if he is going to be able to keep up this play through the Open. Is it better to play a tournament the week before, or to be in NY adjusting to the courts and preparing for the big one? Time will tell.

Stan the Man continued his solid play by dispatching #2 seed Disco Tommy Robredo. This may not seem as great of a result as it does on paper...Disco Tommy has been slumping pretty hard lately. I bet if he cut his hair...

Anyway, Stan then later went down to none other than Mardy Fish! Fish joins Blake and Dr. Ivo in the semis. The last semi berth is being decided as I write this.

Today also saw #1 Davydenko go out to Gilles Simon. He confessed to feeling tired. Tired? Did Donald Young actually wear him out? This is another player that I believe would have been better served to skip this week before the Open. But Davydenko is the Jankovic of the men's tour...playing tourny after tourny after tourny. He could use a bit of her personality, though.

The insane score of the day today goes to Mardy Fish's defeat of Jose Acasuso - 6-7, 6-3, 6-0. He went from losing the first set, to delivering a bagel. I didn't see it though, so I don't know if it was result of Fish's great play, or Acasuso melting down. Or both.

I did get to watch Bartoli vs. Dementieva today, and wow. What a bizarre match. Maid Marion came storming out 4-0. But Elena often plays her best tennis when she is behind, and slowly but surely she worked her way back, winning the next 6 games and the first set. The score was much closer than it should have been. Bartoli was visibly winded and taking very long breaks between every single point. I have two big problems with this...#1 - Um, hello chair ump? Time violations happening all over the about enforcing a rule here or there? That is, presumably, what they are paid to do, right? #2 - Dementieva very graciously allowed her the time, instead of stepping up on her service games and making her play. Too nice to win the big ones, Elena!!!

Between sets Elena left the court to change clothes (as she very often does, this is not a new habit), so Dr. Bartoli, Marion's dad and coach, came down and talked to her. Or, at her, I should say. We heard it all on TV, and while it was all in French, I now know how to say backhand in French. He talked, and talked, and talked...Marion sat there with her face in her towel not even looking at her dady/coach. She didn't say a word, but I'm not sure she would have been able to get a word in if she tried! When Dr. Dad/Coach was done, he left...still without her saying a word. Fearless Pam Shriver (I love this woman, by the way) later caught him in the stands and Dr. Dad did say that Marion was very tired and still feeling the effects of the bug that caused her to retire in Toronto last week (she caught the bug that was going around the WTA tour).

As all this was happnening, and they kept showing Marion with her face half covered in her towel...I felt really sorry for her. She is the butt of so many jokes because of her weight, but is obviously so talented. I don't know...she just seemed really young there for a moment, and so, so tired.

Dementieva did go on to win the match, but I don't remember the score of the second set. Here's to hoping that Bartoli gets some much needed rest in the next few days.

Now, the only serve that drives me more crazy thatn Elena's is...Marion's!!! Oh. My. God. Would someone PLEASE give her a service motion??? I couldn't watch it after the first set, it was giving me fits!

Elena's win sets up a Russian semi between her and Sveta, while the other semi will feature young upstart Agnes Szavay against tour veteran and tricky Greek Eleni Daniilidou. Szavay has been turning heads, and Jon Wertheim picked her as an Open semi-finalist based on the draw in his women's seed report!!! Now, that is going out on a limb!!!

Other big news on the tennis scenes today included the not too surprising news that, after the upcoming Davis Cup tie, Brit Tim Henman will be hanging up the racquet. Awww Tim...even knowing it was coming doesn't mean it still isn't sad news. I'm glad that I've been able to see him play three different times at Legg Mason.

Oh, and Shriekapova unveiled her US Open dress today. *yawn* No wonder so many people don't take the women's games seriously...they are playing in rinestones! With huge earrings! What. Ever. I like the dress, but I wouldn't play tennis in it!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Rain, went away.

And was played.

Winner of the Insane Score award today goes to the men's singles match of Juan Martin del Potro (jeez, he needs a shorter name if I'm going to talk about him so much) and Gilles Simon. Simon won the match 7-6, 6-7, 7-5! Now, that was either a really boring or really great match to watch.

Men's singles action also saw the exit of our favorite rapper, Vince Spadea, in three sets, and Gael Monfils continued to be consistently inconsistent...losing to Fed's buddy Stan Wawrinka.

Women's singles saw some upsets, though, because of the waterdowned draw, is anything really going to be shocking? Losers today included #2 seed Hantuchova, #7 Bammer, and Mirza.

Lindsay and Lisa gave it a good effort, but ultimately lost in their first round doubles match to #1 seeds Black/Huber. They did take them to a third set tiebreak, so it wasn't a blow out, but it is a shame that Lindsay only gets one match in her comeback tourny.

There was an odd result on the men's doubles today. #2 seeds and Cincy winners Erlich and Ramm WC Alex Kuznetsov and Ryan Sweeting? What? Think they decided they wanted a break? It really looks like that...because that is a team that Erlich/Ramm should have beaten asleep with one hand tied behind their backs.

The USOpen singles draws came out today. The biggest news? Well, the top draw of the women's singles features Henin, both Williams, Jankovic, and Ivanovic. Sharapova pretty much has the entire bottom half of the draw to herself. I was going to have a Super-Saturday party, but now I'm thinking I won't bother, as the women's final has a good chance of being a snoozer (unless, of course, Shriekapova is in it, which is not a given considering her continuing shoulder problems). If Serena Williams and Henin meet in the quarters (and they might), then that may be a de-facto final right there, depending on what the Serbs are up to. Very disappointing!!!

The men's makes more sense, and there is a chance that Fed and John Isner may meet up in the third round. Wayne Odesnik has Thai player Danai Udomchoke...I think he's got a chance to get to the second round!!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

New Haven, we have a problem.

That problem would be one that not much can be done about...that of Mother Nature. Rain washed out play today at New Haven, possibly causing a pickle for organizers since Pilot Pen backs right up against the US Open. Players are NOT going to want to play more than one match in a day, and if that happens (and I think it will have to, but I'm not sure) it will be interesting to track the pattern of withdrawals. No offense against New Haven, but the big party is in New York. Some matches are finally getting played as I type this, but still, not a good day.

The one match that is finished is the rematch of America's answer to Ivo Karlovic, John Isner, against German Benjamin Becker. Isner took out Becker in a third set tiebreak (what else) in Legg Mason this summer, but figured him out much easier this time around, wrapping up a 6-3, 6-4 win. James Black is up a set and a break against Arnaud Clement as I type this.

Today was also supposed to be the first day of men's and women's qualifying play, but it appears that was rained out as well. Some interesting (at least to me) names in the men's draw include #1 seed Frank Dancevic (who was one of the many youngsters making a name for himself on the hardcourts this summer), #2 seed Robin Haase (he's gotten some quality wins this summer as well), Scoville Jenkins, Kevin Kim, Paul Capdeville, and Wesley Moodie among many, many others. The women's side includes the Chinese player Zi Yan (who made a nice singles breakthrough last week in Toronto), and Kristina Brandi (whose play I really enjoyed watching in DC). Let's hope at least a few, if not all, of those names make it through to the main draw. For these players, the tournament is the week before the tournament, and to make it to the big party is success in and of itself. Thinking of that helps to keep the whole show in perspective.

Notice how I keep referring to the US Open as the party or the show? I didn't plan it that way, just came out that way. I think it is appropriate. Each of the grand slams has its own personality, and if any of them are 'the big show' or 'the big party' it is definitely New York.

Someday, I will go. Someday, I want to go to all of them, but I will start with NY, as it is closest. This year, unfortunately, is not that year.

Swelling is almost completely gone...yay!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Status update: Pilot Pen and my face

Face = still swollen. No update.

But the Pilot Pen...hmmm, some interesting early results already.

Probably the first notable thing to come out of New Haven so far is that Donald Young has finally, at last, won an ATP match, winning in three against American journeyman Amer Delic. Next up...Davydenko! I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Mario Ancic went through qualifying, perhaps saving a 'protected ranking' for some other tournament. He made it into the main draw, but lost in the first round to Fed's buddy, Wawrinka. Still, nice to see him out playing again, and I hope his form rebounds soon (and he doesn't suffer the same fate of Aussie Alicia Molik, who never regained her level of play after being off of the tour with an extended illness.)

My man Vince!!! He came through the first round, beating Evegeny Korolev in three sets. Knowing Vince's playing style and seeing the scoreline, that was probably a really good match. Good win for Spadea!

Mardy Fish won a match, actually taking out the tournament's #7 seed, Volandri, with a bagel in the third set. Interesting...but I wouldn't get too excited. Fish just never has seemed willing to put in the work to really take advantage of his talents and also seems to be content just kind of floating around the middle tier of players.

No real big news on the women's side, no big upsets. I did take a look at the doubles draw, though, since this is Lindsay Davenport's comeback tournament. She and Lisa Raymond received a WC into the doubles draw, and will face #1 seeds Black/Huber in their first match. That sucks. There is a chance they could pull off the upset, but not much of one...Black and Huber are just too strong. It is a shame Lindsay won't get more time on court, but we'll see her in Bali, and, according to Raymond's WTA blog, Lindsay will be coming back full time next year. She's always been one of my favorite players, but I couldn't stand seeing her mope around on court and defeat herself. Maybe motherhood will give her more joy in her playing, and help change her on court attitude into one of a much more positive nature? Let's hope so! Either way...welcome back Lindsay!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Cincy/Toronto mini-wrap ups

Mini-wrap ups...sounds more like a snack than a post.

I'm finally starting to get back in the saddle here again. I have to say, whoever came up with this 'you need to get your wisdom teeth removed' thing...I'd like to smack them...hard! Friday and Saturday were very painful days indeed, and I'm still swollen up like you wouldn't believe. I have, however, mastered chewing with my front teeth...making me feel like a rabbit. It also slightly worries me, as I know that isn't what your front teeth are for! Oh well...someday, maybe my face will feel the same again.

Enough about me...I did rouse myself from the vapors of Vicodin to catch some tennis.

Not unexpectedly, Federer came out on top in Cincy. It really did seem to be his title one most of the other seeds fell away. But, while it goes without saying that some of his earlier round play was scratchy, Fed knows when it is time to gear up, clean up the UE, and close down a match. Still, Hewitt just about snuck that semi-final out. And I have to admit it, I was totally rooting for the upset. After 10 straight losses, seeing Hewitt come out on top would have been an incredible moment in tennis. And he just about did it...after finally getting to that final set tie-break, though, it seemed like the Aussie just ran out of gas, and Fed went into gear. Still, a very good week for Hewitt, and chances are good, draw permitting, for him to get far in the Open.

James Blake also deserves some recognition. You have to figure, just making the final would be a great accomplishment after his scratchy play so far this year. Against Querry and Davydenko, Blake had moments of pure brilliance. As always, though, with his game, the line between brilliance and confusion is a very fine one. Great to watch when he is on, but almost painful when he isn't. I was very impressed, particularly, with his second set shut-down of Davydenko.

Now to the ladies...we had the final we wanted. Yet another drag 'em down shoot-out between Jelena Jankovic and Justin Henin. With the exception of their meeting in this year's French Open, all of their other matches (I believe) have all gone to three sets. Two of them that I can recall right now, featured a huge lead by Jankovic in the final set only to be put down by a Henin comeback. Was today that day that Jankovic would finally prevail?

Well, no, but what a match! Great shotmaking, long rallies, and just some real great, gutsy tennis. It featured the WTA's best 1HBH against it's best 2HBH. And while Jankovic once again came out on the short end, I don't think anyone can doubt that she gave it everything she had, heart, head, and soul. The glaring weakness is Jankovic's serve!!! Oh, I would hate to see her go down the path of Dementieva! With such hard hitting groundstrokes, it makes no sense that her serve would be so weak.

Speaking of weak serves...Davydenko was serving like an old lady in his match against Blake! Some of his first serves were in the 80s. WHAT?!? Did he always serve like this?

Or is this just another 'flavor' of player...the Dementieva, Jankovic, Daydenko...the great groundstrokes and movement, but the weak serve that they start off having to compensate for? You can't beat the Federers and Henins if you are behind before you've even hit the first shot!

I will not be returning to the court for my own tennis endeavors for a few days...I need the fluid to leave my face! I can't imagine running around and hitting things right now...just thinking about it hurts!

Now we have just that little Pilot Penn tournament, and then finally! The Big One! The Open will be here!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Snoring through Cincy...

Is it just me, or is anyone else losing interest? That's what happens, I guess, when all the young guns go out early.

Andy Roddick was added to the body count today, losing to Spaniard David Ferrer. (Those sneaky Spaniards!) Again, I can't feel all that surprised. What are Roddick's two weapons? Serve and forehand. Well, you know what? He isn't the only one out there with a big serve and forehand, and the rest of his game is still...STILL!...lacking. That leaves the door open for a sneaky Spaniard to grind out a tiebreak, get a break, and then before you know it, it is game, set, match. Until (if?) Roddick ever develops other parts of his game, to the level of the other players, then he will continue losing matches to top 10, sometimes top 20, players.

There is good news, though. Same Querry is through, actually making it further through the draw than Roddick, with a victory over Juan Monaco. Hewitt defeated a sullen Melzer who faded in the extreme conditions, and just kind of seemed a bit whiny in the bit of the match that ESPN deemed to show us. Other winners today were Moya (three tough sets over JMdPotro), Federer (pushed by Baghdatis), Blake (in an impressive straight sets win over JCFerrero), and a surprise in the doubles...the Serbian team of Djokovic/Zimonjic beat #2 sees Bjorkman/Mirnyi in a third set tiebreak. Veerrrrryy interesting!

Oh, and Davydenko won, too.

Only possibly unexpected result for the women would be Razzano's win over Peer, though Peer has been kind of in a slump lately. I hope she shakes it off by the Open.

I will more than likely not be posting again until Sunday. Tomorrow morning the wisdom teeth come out, and my mom is visiting. I will try to catch some matches and jot down some thoughts for a nice, big post Sunday evening. Provided I'm not still on painkillers. Though, posting while on painkillers just may be more entertaining!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Scintillating Cincy!

Wow, what a day. If I was a seeded player and my name wasn't Roger Federer, I would have been afraid to step on the courts today.

Probably the most shocking upset of the day was Carlos Moya's straight set defeat of last week's champion Novak Djokovic. Hey, that's part of the beauty of tennis, right? Last week's champion can be this week's chump. Not that Nole is a chump, he's not. Anyway, I didn't think this was that huge of a surprise. Last week Nole did what no man has done before...beat Roddick, Rafa, and Roger. In consecutive days. He is also still a youngster. I think he may have been more mentally spent than physically spent, but I think both things were a factor today. And, it wasn't as if he was playing Donald Young (*zing*). Carlos Moya, even at his 'advanced' age, can still play, and has been playing well this whole season. He is a Spaniard who knows his way around hard courts, especially at Cincy where he has previously captured the title. A surprise, yes...but not a huge one.

Next up on the shock-o-meter (I'm feeling flippant tonight, can you tell?) was Juan Monaco's defeat of Rafael Nadal. Well, defeat is pushing it. Nadal retired in the second set with dizziness and pain in the forearm (TE?). Obviously, with the US Open on the near horizon, he isn't going to chance anything. This is the time of year where Nadal has traditionally struggled, and we are seeing something similar again this go 'round. Hard courts are not his best surface, though he has proven, more than once, than he is a threat on every surface.

A greater curiosity to me is this...Nadal's game is a physical one. He throws his body around those courts, literally sacrificing his body at times. He is obviously fit, nobody would question that. But how long can he go on playing such a physical game before the body breaks down? And it will break down. I have no doubt of that. Nadal is smart, though, and has surrounded himself with smart people. He has shown he can make adjustments to his game, especially for grass. Will he make those adjustments when he starts having more injuries? Maybe I am a naysayer, but regardless of how big his 'guns' are, I just don't think he can go on like this for years and years.

Young Sam Querry provided one of our upsets today, with a three set win over #13 seed Russian Mikhail Youzhny. I was disappointed, I like Youzhny, and I wanted a chance to see him play. But definitely a good result for Sam. And it will help keep all those 'American tennis is up the river without a paddle' media stories at bay.

James Blake joined him in that effort with a straight set win over Nicholas 'I like to throw raquets' Keifer. This was a good win for James, as Keifer plays well on hardcourts and can be dangerous in the draw. And when he doesn't play well, he'll just throw something at you. (Obviously, I have never forgiven his trangression against Grosjean last year. Total lack of class.)

Mario Ancic departed the tournament today as well. Maybe not an upset, but it is sad to see him go after finally getting him back on the tour. Logically of course, it will take him some time to get back into form after being gone for so long. He lost to Jurgen Melzer. Melzer is dating Nicole Vaidisova, who is out with mono, which is what Mario had! Oh what tangled webs we weave!

Not an upset in my mind, but he was a seed...Ivan Ljubicic continues to play poorly, and lost to Nicholas Almagro. This made me happy...I don't like Ivan, and I really like Almagro. I don't expect him to get too far unless the spectators start throwing red clay on the courts, but a good win nonetheless.

And finally, JCFerrero took out a lackluster Fernando Gonzalez. Oh Gonzo!?! What happened to the guy we saw in Australia, who just would not make a mistake? Such a great start to the has to wonder if there is something going on that we are just not privy to? Of course, JCF is not a bad hard court player at all. He pushed Federer to three sets here last year, and has shown up in the USOpen finals. He's another one of those sneaky Spaniards!

The carnage was not limited to the men today, as the already depleted WTA field in Toronto took more hits when defending champion and LA winner Ana Ivanovic lost in straight sets to Zi Yan. See above, what I wrote about Nole, but take out the part where you defeated the #3, #2, and #1. Hmmm, a troubling result, but a sign that she is probably not quite ready, mentally, to win a slam. Though, I would love to proven wrong...I love her! You can't not love her. Have you seen her smile?!? She's just too cute!

The women also lost Dementieva, Safarova (Man, what happened to her? Earlier in the year she defeated Henin, and now she's going out in the second round?), and Chakvatedze, who retired with the illness that started sweeping the WTA tour last week in LA. I haven't seen the draw, but I know Henin and Bartoli are still in there...maybe we'll get a rematch of the Wimbledon semi-final?

TTC just got done showing Zi Yan defeated Ana. Yan uses a double handed forehand, a la Monica Seles, and that is always fun to watch. She is also...IN SHAPE! Look out for the Chinese players in the Olympics! They are going to be a force to reckon with!

But there is good news!!! The men's US Open Wild Cards were announced today, and the committee very smartly awarded one to Wayne 'the Train' Odesnik!!! Yay! (Thanks to all the TTW posters who gave me the heads up!) Let's hope he gets a good draw and can advance a few rounds and pick up some ranking points! As expected, a WC was also given to Legg Mason golden boy John Isner. Scoville Jenkins got a WC into qualifying...I hope he makes it through. I still remember seeing him play Nadal at the Open two years ago (I think?)...I liked watching him, and think he deserves more of a 'buzz' than Donald Young.

And, I can think of no better way to wrap up this post than to provide a link to a fellow fanatic's page. Much was made of the men's fashion show in Montreal last week, in particular Novak Djokovic's channeling of John Travolta. Evidently, after the show was over, Nole challenged James Blake to bet him (Nole) to go back out in just his briefs. He wanted some company, though, and Italian player Adriano Biasella was accomodating. And here they are...the pictures.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Cincy update

I think I jinxed Andy Murray. He went down without much of a fight to Marcos Baghdatis. I'm happy to see Baghdatis through, though, he is always a fun player to watch.

As for the Americans, Andy Roddick and James Blake were through pretty easily, as well as newcomer Sam Querry, who is also teaming up in doubles with Jamie Murray's discarded partner, Eric Butorac. They've already lost, but I thought it was an interesting pairing.

Another interesting doubles pairing is that of John Isner and American journeyman, Amer Delic. It is good to see the young player get as much experience on the 'big' court as possible. There were playing, but it appears that rain has halted play for now, and probably until tomorrow. [Edited to add: They did resume play, and the Americans won in two tight sets.]

Tomorrow, however, we are at the mercy of ESPN, and won't get to see as many matches as we do with the international feed on TTC. I'm going to miss Doug Adler and his fury at the players when they don't play smart! It makes me giggle!

Other notable upsets today were Disco Tommy Robredo (bowing out to Jarkko Nieminen) and Guillermo Canas. I guess Canas hasn't been able to find that 'magic' that saw him defeat Roger Federer not once, but twice, on hardcourts earlier this year. He lost to another up and comer, Juan Martin del Potro, who had to go through qualifying to get into the main draw. I'm not sure if this is an 'upset' per say, but we also lost Tommy Haas today. He had a tough opponent in Mario Ancic, who looks to be finally regaining his form after being out with mono for so many months. That matched kind of sucked, because I like both players and wanted them both to win, but that isn't how it works.

And, no, no Wayne this week. I don't think he is ranked high enough to get into the qualies for this one, though he did last week. Let's hope he is off somewhere, winning matches and gaining ranking points!

Cincy: Early Rounds

Another Masters Series kicked off this week for the ATP tour. After Novak Djokovic's tremendous run last week, all eyes are on him to see if he can do it...again.

Roger Federer got knocked out here last year by the brooding Scot, Andy Murray, but that is unlikely to happen again this year. Murray's current form, what will his multitude of injuries, is pretty...bad.

I read an interesting interview with Marat Safin earlier today. Basically, he stated the him and his new coach have zeroed in on what they want to fix, and that he (Safin) is not worried by of late, as he is looking much further into the future for results, I guess after him and his coach 'fix' certain elements of his game. It is a shame to see him in this shape, as he is so capable of so much more. Or is he? Maybe his time, like that of Roddick, Henman, Hewitt, and others, is just over.

This tournament also sees the return of 6'9" John Isner to the tour, as he received a WC into Cincy. Unfortunately, his fairy tale run of DC will not be repeated, as he has already lost in the first round to Spaniard David Ferrer. It was a straight sets win, with the first set...yup, you guessed, a tiebreak!

Also of note, Indy champion Dmitry Tursunov is already out in the first round, same as last week. He has such a monster game, it would be great to see him work on some consistency week to week. Like Safin, you never know what to expect. Maybe it is a Russian thing.

And one of my favorites, Jonas Bjorkman, is also out of the singles in the first round. Actually, this is good, because when he does well in singles, the doubles suffers, and let's face it, that is where he belongs. We haven't seen much out of him and Max so far this year, so maybe they'll make some noise this week.

All for now...I need to go check the order of play to see what juicy matches are coming up!

Clinic + Combo match = Pain

Really, just simple arithmetic.

Before my plantar fasciitis problems started, I would have thought nothing of playing clinic and then heading out to a late match. The most I ever played in one day was nine sets of tennis. I can usually just go and go and go. And the only thing that keeps me from currently doing this is my foot, but I tend to 'ignore' it and try to keep going anyway. Not. Smart.

Since Greg 'left' (read, got fired) we have been able to keep our clinic with Randy, but moved it to Mondays to accomodate his schedule. He's really starting to get in the groove, and I appreciate the fact that I'm also getting a good workout while I'm working on my tennis. Some pros in the past would talk to much that I wouldn't break a sweat, and that made me feel like I was wasting my few precious dollars. Backboards are free!

Anyway, after 90 minutes in Randy's clinic my foot was throbbing a bit. I considered pulling out my sandals, but figured that staying in my shoes might be the best thing, since I had a combo match at 9:30. There was one drill we did that aggravated it, where we were practicing passing shots on the dead run, and the running and stopping to the left (BH) was what did it in.

I popped a few Advil and hoped for the best. I headed out to the match, which I was also captaining. And, I'm not doing that anymore. Not my team, so Sherry and Blanca are going to have to take the reins. I did my duty, above and beyond, the past four months, and I no longer want it to be my problem when someone isn't there on time and/or doesn't have money. I want to be able to just show up and play.

I was put on court #1 with Vivian, a 3.5 player. She was very nice, and a relaxing partner, but she wanted the ad side, and that is usually my side. I'm okay on deuce, but just better on ad. And I was worried, what with the adjustments Carol and I are making with my forehand, that all my FHs would be wonky. Vivian may be a 3.5 player, but she doesn't have 3.5 volleys. I dropped my serve immediately, despite hitting an ace, because she netted three easy volleys. Yikes! Not a good start!

I couldn't figure out which one of our opponents was the 3.0 and which one was the 3.5. That's bad news, too. One of the hit with lots of topsin, so I sliced to her, and the other one hit with the most ugly strokes you have ever seen, but it was so flat and you could never tell where it was going.

Vivian and I were facing a bagel in the first set at 0-5, but managed to squeak out two games before our opponents closed out the first set. We started off breaking them twice in the second set, but again fell behind, and lost the match 6-2, 6-2. It was one of those matches where to get even one measily little point, I had to do something spectacular. I'm just not that consistent with those 'spectacular' shots yet.

Our opponents, despite wiping us all over the court, were very nice, and I stayed and talked to both of them for a while afterward. And I got drafted! If I don't get moved up, I will have a singles spot on a 3.0 team next season, which is just what I wanted. Funny how this stuff happens.

Anyway, my foot was horrible when I finished. I know I need to go to the doctor, but I don't want them to tell me to stop playing, 'cause I won't. I am going to be out of commission for a bit when I get my wisdom teeth out on Friday, and at least the foot will get a rest then, but I'm still convinced that there is something else I can do, new shoes or inserts or something, that will make this go away. It came on so suddenly last year, that I'm still convinced that some kind of adjustment will do the trick. I just haven't found which adjustment works yet.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Nationals, here they come!

My friends team did indeed win their final match today, and will be advancing to Nationals.

Did I mention how jealous I am? I feel like a bad friend.

A good day for Serbian tennis.

'Serbian tennis'. Now that's a phrase that, until this year, didn't come up a lot. But with the trio of Ana Ivanovic (a winner today in LA), Jelena Jankovic (Ana's semi-final victim), and Novak Djokovic the phrase is becoming more and more common.

Djokovic followed up his semi-final upset of Nadal with another, even bigger upset over world #1 and contender for Greatest Tennis Player of All Time, Roger Federer. It didn't come easy. Nole stormed out to a 2-0 lead in the first set, but to nobody's surprise Roger broke back. The impossible happened when Roger was serving for the first set 6-5, 40-0; and got broken by the Djoker! The mental fortitude to do that against Federer speaks volumes to how Nole has matured as a player. He then stormed through the first set tie-break 7-2.

The second set was vintage Roger Federer. He took two breaks to beat Nole back down 6-2 and to force a third and deciding third set.

The third set started exactly the same as the first, with the Djoker taking an early break from Roger. At this point, I fell asleep. I don't know, I guess I was tired, and my couch sure is comfy. Would you believe I woke up with the players in a third set tiebreak? That's right, I woke up in time to see the last two points of the match, with Djokovic once again prevailing in a tiebreak to win the title.

This is huge. This is massive. Somebody other than Federer or Nadal won a Masters Series Title!!! And he didn't get any help from anyone else...Djokovic beat Roddick, Rafa, and Roger on the way to the title. Nobody has done that, beating #3, #2, and #1, since the days of Boris Becker. And now, Nole is #3.

With his sights on #1. Look out Roger, you and Rafa have some company!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Montreal semis

Yeah, we all pretty much knew Federer would get past Stepanek, but at least he got a test in the first set.

But the match I was waiting for, Nadal/Djokovic, did not disappoint. What a GREAT match! I didn't think it was possible, but Djokovic out-Nadaled...Nadal! Plus, he was able to exploit Nadal's relatively weak serve (for hardcourts), and a break in each set got him the win and a date with Federer tomorrow. Nadal also had 8 break points, and he couldn't convert any of them. That is VERY unusual.

But, this is very good for men's tennis. We need another face in the mix, someone who can step up and threaten the stranglehold that Federer and Nadal have on the rest of the entire men's tour.

Combo 7.5 match

Today was my first 7.5 combo match. 7.5 means a 3.5 should be paired with a 4.0. Since I'm a 3.0, this had me shaking in my shoes a bit, but I was asked to be on the team. I'm capable of playing on a 3.5 level, and even had a few 3.5 wins this past season. And I also had a few butt kickings at 3.5 too. It is starting to get to the point that, at any level, you just never know what you're going to get.

And, in fact, I didn't face a 4.0. Our oponents were both 3.5s, so they had only a slight advantage, supposedly, over me and my 3.5 partner. Unfortunately, my partner hadn't played in a few weeks, and lost her timing on her serve. She threw in quite a few double faults, which didn't help us. She was also having a hard time returning, but our opponents both had great serves. I got more returns in just by coming in for the serve and taking it early, which is really my only defense against a lot of spin and pace. I must get to the ball before the spin really takes hold, or I'm dead meat!

We lost 6-4, 6-3. Not a bad score, and we had quite a few tight games. I can only wonder what it might have been if my partner was in her usual groove. But it was a fun match, and our opponents were really very nice ladies.

I also had a lesson this morning, my first post-Districts lesson. I was right. Carol and I spent the whole time on my forehand. She trying to undo what my last pro had me doing, mostly out of fear that I was going to eventually cause damage to my wrist. We worked on stepping into the ball, shoulder turn, and finish, and by the end of the lesson, I was finally getting it. I really wanted to go work on it on a backboard, but I had to save something for my match, and not overdo it on my left foot (which is still hurting with plantar fasciitis).

My friends' team is doing well at sectionals. They've won their first two matches, have one more tomorrow, and are a good bet to represent the Mid-Atlantic section at Nationals. I'm happy for them, but even more, I AM SO JEALOUS!!!! We all started out in leagues at the same time, and a trip to Nationals means they will get moved up to 3.5, and I will more than likely be stuck at 3.0. I really don't think my scores are good enough to get me moved up. But I'm the one who has already played and won at 3.5. And, I just don't get it! I played with one of them the other day, and she was netting almost every volley!!!

Eh, I'm just GREEN with envy. I really am. I want to go to Nationals SO BAD!!! That would be so cool. But I guess, if it can't be me, than I'd rather it be them than some of the other teams I know.

I'm being stupid...really, if I don't get moved up, I'll get to play more since I'll play 3.0 and 3.5. I have two 3.5 teams that want me. Ugh. I just need to RELAX!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Montreal Quarterfinals

As expected, Federer advanced, beating Hewitt, but at least not beating him to death with bagels. Hewitt played well, just not as good as Federer.

Later we got to watch Roddick play Djokovic for their first meeting ever. As expected, it was a tight contest, with Djokovic coming out on top 7-6, 6-4. Roddick played well, just not as good as Djokovic.

I can't imagine how frustrating it must be for those play well, to know that they played well, and to still be losing.(For them, bowing out in the quarters is losing. For others, that would be winning.) Federer has owned Roddick for the past few years, and now these younger players are coming out of the woodwork, and passing him (as well as Hewitt). And they both work hard, but maybe they have just 'topped out' as far as they can go? What do you do in that situation?

Me? I would keep playing...keep collecting my quarter-final checks and keep playing the game I love. And you never now, you might sneak in the back door someday when the Federers, Nadals, and Djokovics are having a bad day. Of course, that is easy to say from my might be different if I were in their shoes.

I'm staying up to watch Sharapova play Dementieva in the last LA quarterfinal. I'm pulling for Elena to come out with the upset. I'm so, so tired of Sharapova and her shrieking, and her ugly game.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Thursday clinic 8/9

I subbed into Carol's clinic again tonight, for a player who is recovering from knee surgery. I really enjoy this clinic, and I'm trying to figure out a way to get a permanent spot. There were only three of us tonight, and one woman was just so weak during the clinic, it was almost embarrassing. After our hour is up, we get the next hour on the court to play. Strong girl had to leave, so I played a set of singles with the weak woman.

And she whupped up on me 6-3. Once again, I'm left scratching my head. I mean, this woman can barely move, and she was dinking the ball a lot, but also hitting the lines left, right, left, and then right again. I can run them down to a point, but after a while I'm going to miss one! Her serve was all of a sudden better, too. In the clinic we did a serve and volley drill, and I beat both of the other two girls. *scratching head* I just don't get it sometimes, but I guess that is the beauty of tennis (haha). Maybe she is just better at singles? At any rate, it was good practice...I need singles practice anyplace I can get it. Unfortunately, with the workout I did this morning, plus the clinic, my foot really starting hurting by the middle of the set. I've been ignoring it, but I think I'm going to have to break down and call the doctor tomorrow. I know what it is, plantar fasciitis, and I know what they are going to say (take time off), and I know I won't do it.

And my loss last night ended up not went down as a default in our favor.

Next up, a 7.5 combo match on Saturday. I'll probably play great in this one, since I'm not 'supposed' to win.

Combo league

Tonight was my first night back on the match court since Districts last month. I had a lot of confidence coming off my district wins, but I was a bit nervous considering I hadn't played an actual match since July 20, nor have I had a lesson since before then.

And my winning over. Or is it? It may be redeemed through a technicality, but I lost the match.

This was a combo league match at the 6.5 level. A team match consists of three individual doubles matches. Each doubles team should be made up of one 3.0 and one 3.5 player, thus the 6.5 'combination'. However, since most 3.5s want to play 7.5, most of these teams are just a bunch of 3.0s.

I was actually supposed to play on court #1 with a 3.5, but her car broke down on the Beltway. We also had a missing person, so our captain did a quick redo of the line-up, and I ended up on court #2 playing with a friend of mine who I've known a long time, but we've never actually played together as a team. We both partner the same person though, and we soon realized we both are ad court players. We had some communication problems, but that is usually to be expected when you haven't played with someone before.

We just couldn't get it together though. We got handed a couple of breadsticks by our opponents, who were just outplaying us. Me and my partner weren't bad, the other team was just better.

Now, for the technicality. Because this league does have a state playoff, all teams and players are supposed to be registered on Tennislink before playing a match. On a whim, I checked the other team's roster, and on of our opponents was not on there. I called the captain and sent a few emails right away, because I know this opposing captain, and I know she is fully capable of pulling a fast one. Why is this so important? Well, an unregistered player causes a default, which would be an automatic win for us on that court. Since our #1 team also won, that would reverse the team score for a win for us!

But I still really lost a match, bringing my fabulous end of season winning streak to an end. I suppose it had to happen sometime. I consoling myself by browsing ebay for tennis dresses.

The train has come to a stop.

But hopefully, only temporarily. Wayne Odesnik's run at the Montreal Masters ended to today with a three set loss to Canada's own Frank Dancevic. Still, a strong showing from him, especially since he had to fight it out through qualifying first. It would be nice to see him gain enough points so that he can gain direct entry into events.

A lot of young players are making their names known this summer...Isner, Dancevic, Odesnik (at least in my mind), Querry, is nice to see some fresh faces out there that shake up the draws from time to time. That is one of the things that can make tennis so exciting, when the unexpected happens, when the person who is supposed to win loses to a relative unknown.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Nadal and Harry Potter

Just found this on another tennis fan's site. Check it out...turns out that Quidditch may have been inspired not just by tennis, but by Nadal!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Montreal: Wayne 'the train' Odesnik

One of the players that caught my attention this past week at Legg Mason was Wayne Odesnik. I first watched him in a second round match against Argentinean Juan Martin del Potro. I like del Potro, and was excited about seeing him play in person. I was actually watching a different match (Isner vs. Becker) when the scoreboard flashed the scores on a changeover and I saw del Potro was in trouble. I scooted over to the court to watch, and was instantly won over by Odesnik.

In the world of tennis, he is considered a small guy - 5'11". He is a lefty. But what impressed me the most was how hard he worked for every single point and how never gave up. After losing the first set to del Potro, Odesnik won the second in a tiebreak (I think it was something like 12-10, but not sure). He just kept on going, not getting down if he missed shot, and just looked like he was having the time of his life. He got a break of serve in the third set, and on his first match point he running for a drop shot and ended up doing a perfect slide almost into the bleachers. There are baseball players who can't slide that well, and he was doing this on a hard court! He missed the shott, but he bounced right back up, walked it off, and closed out the match.

He eventually became one of John Isner's victims, and is the one opponent that nobody talks about. When they talk about Isner, they talk about how he beat Henman, Haas, Becker, and Monfils...all these top players! And, oh yeah, Odesnik. But of all those players, Odesnik gave him the hardest test in three tiebreak sets with NO breaks of serve!!! He is almost a foot shorter, but he held his serve every time against the 6'9" Isner. He had the crowd against him (except for me and a few other people) but just kept going and would not give up. Above all else, I admire that in a tennis player. It is easier for people like Isner, who has such a physcial advantage, to develop big serves and weapons on the court. But I would rather root for the Michael Changs, the Andre Agassis, the Wayne Odesniks...who have to work so much harder to get the same results. It shows just how much more they want it and how much work they are willing to put in to get the results.

Odesnik turned pro a few years ago, and is still young at 21. He has had success on the challenger level, but usually has to go through qualifying to get into the bigger events. He was the #1 seed in qualifying at Legg Mason, and didn't lose a match until the three set thriller with Isner in the third round.

At Montreal this week, he also had to fight through qualifying. His reward? A first round date with #11 seed Ivan Ljubicic, the Croat with the big serve and big game, but an underachiever at bigger events, most notably grand slams. And tonight, David and Goliath played out once again, just like in DC, and this time, David wore the giant down. Odesnik just defeated Ljubicic 6-3, 4-6, 7-6. The fighter makes it through another round.

His opponent in the second round is being decided as I type this. Canadian Frank Dancevic, who got some attention by beating Andy Roddick two weeks ago, is serving for the first set guessed it...Juan Martin del Potro. Dancevic and Odesnik have met once, with Dancevic winning. With his win last week, Odesnik pulled the head to head with del Potro even at 1-1. Either way, I think Odesnik will have a battle in front of him.

But that is what he does best.

Legg Mason: Men's Singles Final

If you're reading this, by now you probably already know what happened, as I'm posting this a day after the final. A quick wrap-up of the match:

*It went pretty much as expected. One break of serve by Roddick in the first set was all he needed to take it 6-4.
*Second set saw a few break points, but not any breaks, so it was decided in yet another tiebreak. Isner got robbed a bit here in my opinion, as a great return he hit off of Roddick's serve was called long. Isner challenged, and the return, which had handcuffed Roddick at the baseline, was good. Instead of awarding Isner the point and mini-break (which is what I think should have happened), the point was replayed with Roddick winning it. Personally, I believe that if Isner was more well known and had a bit of stink about it, it would have been his point. Roddick had no play on the ball. Instead, Roddick got the mini-break and won the tiebreak and match. Final score 6-4, 7-6.

More thoughts from me on the match:

*Isner was not as sharp as I'd seen him earlier this week. The best was against Haas and Monfils. Of course, with how much he played this week (and the week before, winning a challenger event in Lexington), can you blame the guy? Still, a respectable score against a top player for his first final.
*I'm not an Andy fan, but I think he did exactly what he had to do today. He played smart. There aren't many players that Andy can control from the baseline, but today Isner was one of them.
*I was reminded of how Federer netted an easy overhead earlier this year when Isner did the same thing.
*I wonder if Sam Querry is out there going...'Guys? Guys? Remember me?'
*I believe that his education is partly resposible for how well Isner has carried himself and competed this week. He has a maturity and experience gained from college that other players lack.
*It will be interesting to see how Isner develops from here. Will the new kid eventually be figured out?
*In the time between the doubles and singles, when the lines for water were insane, I ran into my ballkid friend, Sharon. 'Kid' is used quite liberally here! Anyway, she said Roddick is continually talking to himself on court, and is pretty much cursing the whole time. I sit in the second tier, and I could hear him clearly myself up there. Why the potty mouth? Lindsay was the same way! I wonder if, now that she's a mom, she'll still be a potty mouth? Anyway, I still can't get 100% behind Roddick because of his on court behavior. He's too much like spoiled brat out there.
*The ballkids are pretty much in agreement, however, that Safin was the 'quirkiest' player of the tournament as far as how particular he was regarding the balls and the towel.

The players enter the court:

The coin toss:


The infamous Isner box, which earned a few warnings during the Monfils semi-final:


The hand shake:

Isner is interviewd on court after the match:

Isner and his trophy:

Roddick speaks:

Roddick and his trophy:

And that's a wrap on Legg Mason for me, folks. Same time, next year? Maybe...there is a possibility I may be in Europe this time next year. Also, the Bryan's said something in their speech about how the Olympics are this time next year, so it will be interesting to see how that impacts the tournament. Most likely, we would get to see players that we don't normally see, which I really like!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Legg Mason: Men's Doubles Final

Part II of the trilogy!

The doubles final got off a bit late, but that didn't bother me a bit since I was over at the grandstand watching the women a bit. When I got to the stadium, the Bryan Bros. and Ehrlich/Ram were on serve, as to be expected.

Every time I watch the Bryans play on TV, whoever is the commentator always mentions how Mike's serve is the more vulnerable of the two. And it showed today, as the Israeli's got up a break in the first set. Ehrlick/Ram have beaten the twins several times, so I was really hoping to see a good, tight match today. However, with Ehrlich/Ram to serve for the first set, it was as if the ghost of Monfils had entered the stadium, and the Bryan Bros. broke back to stay in the match. A first set tiebreak went to the Bryan Brothers.

The second set saw Mike again get broken, and this time the Israelis held on to win the second set. They also seemed to get the best of the twins at the net...just a bit sharper, a bit faster.

So the championship came down to a match tiebreak. The Bryan Bros. got a few mini-breaks, and served for it at that point we saw the best point of the match. A long point filled with volleys, that Ehrlich/Ram eventually won. It was a thrilling point! But the Bryan's had one more matchpoint on their serve, and they closed it out 10-7.

Very classy speeches, and whoever it was from Ehrlich/Ram (I think it was Ram) said (jokingly) "I hate you guys." to the brothers. It was a deep field of doubles this week, and the twins did well to get through and claim what I think is their third Legg Mason title.

The Bryan Brothers:


Legg Mason: Women's singles final.

Today featured only three matches, so I'm going to post a trilogy of wrap-ups. As I mentioned earlier, I was very unhappy to see that the women's final was scheduled on the grandstand at the same time that the men's doubles final was occuring on center court. First of all, I think the women deserve better. Secondly, I can't be in two places at once! I much prefer how it was scheduled last year, with everything on center court starting with the doubles, then the men, then the women. People who didn't want to see the women could leave, and the rest of us stayed, and the women got to play on center court for the only time that week.

The final featured Melinda Czink (pronounced 'sink' by the chair) and Olga Savchuk. I had the opportunity to see Savchuk play earlier in the week, but this was my first look at Czink. A lefty from Hungary, she was a pretty even match for Savchuk. However, I found myself rooting for Savchuk when Czink had a few pouty moments, one of which resulted in her booting a ball at a ballkid's head. No apology. So not cool. When I left the match (to go see doubles) Czink was up a break. That was all she needed in either set as she took the title with a 7-5, 7-5 score.