Wednesday, June 30, 2010

While you wait for the semifinals

Some Spice Girls memories...

Wimbledon miscellany

Semifinalists Vera Zvonareva and Tsvetana Pironkova have met only once, in Moscow last year in the round of 16. Pironkova won the match 6-0, 6-2. Serena Williams and Petra Kvitova have also met only once--at this year's Australian Open, where Williams defeated Kvitova 6-2, 6-1.

Here is a brief history of surprise semifinalists at Wimbledon.

Retiring women's master of ceremonies Jane Poynder says that Maria Sharapova is always ready ahead of time and "wonderfully prepared," that Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters are "very organized," but that her blood pressure can "rise very slightly" when it's time for the Spanish players to head for the courts.

Doubles semifinalist Yaroslava Shvedova's business affairs are managed by doubles player and friend Ipek Senoglu.

Today, in Wimbledon Village, a 15-minute preview of Unmatched was shown, with Martina Navratilova in the audience. The film, a documentary about the friendship/rivalry of Navratilova and Chris Evert, premieres September 15 on ESPN.

Williams sisters upset in Wimbledon doubles

The William sisters' attempt to win the Grand Slam in 2010 was derailed in the Wimbledon quarterfinals today by the unseeded team of Elena Vesnina and Vera Zvonareva, who defeated them 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. The Russian pair had not played together since 2008, but they quickly found their groove this month at the All England Club, and Vesnina's serve was not broken once by the Williams sisters. Zvonareva has now reached the semifinals in both singles and doubles.

Also on quite a roll are Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova, who upset the 6th-seeded team of Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik today. In the third round, they upset 3rd seeds Nadia Petrova and Samantha Stosur. Also winning in the quarterfinals were 4th seeds Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta, who defeated Julia Goerges and Agnes Szavay, and 5th seeds Liezel Huber and Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who defeated 7th seeds Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs.

In mixed doubles, Kim Clijsters and Xavier Malisse upset top seeds Stosur and Nenad Zimonjic in straight sets. Also advancing were the teams of Iveta Benesova and Lukas Dlouhy, Chan Jung-Jan and Paul Hanley, and 2nd seeds Cara Black and Leander Paes.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Wimbledon junior competition 2nd round news

Grace Min, the U.S. player who took out the top junior seed in the first round, advanced to the third round today at Wimbledon. Min defeated Polina Pekhova 7-5, 7-5. 8th seed Laura Robson also advanced, as did Sloane Stephens, who defeated the 16th seed. 4th seed Karolina Pliskova was upset by Nigina Abduraimova.

Wimbledon doubles update

Today was the big day at Wimbledon in singles, and--unlike some of the tournament's mythology--it lived up to its reputation. Women Who Serve like to keep everyone updated about doubles, too, however. There was only one doubles match played today, and it was an upset. Elena Vesnina and Vera Zvonareva (that's Wimbledon semifinalist, Vera Zvonareva) defeated 12th seeds Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-3, 6-2.

In mixed doubles, 10th seeds Marcelo Melo and Rennae Stubbs defeated 6th seeds Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Daniel Nestor, and 11th seeds Lisa Raymond and Wesley Moodie defeated 7th seeds Alisa Kleybanova and Max Mirnyi. Also winning in the third round were the teams of Yaroslava Shvedova and Julian Knowle, Vera Dushevina and Dmitry Tursonov, and Chan Yung-Jan and Paul Hanley.

Anna and Martina meet the press

Here is an excerpt from the wonderful joint interview done by Anna Kournikova and Martina Hingis. It's the best joint interview I've seen since Chris and Martina did their hilarious--and touching--interview in Charleston in 2008.

Anna: Even to prepare for the specific tournament, the last two months, I've had to have therapy, like real therapy, every day for an hour, hour and a half. This is just for kind of the fun matches. I would have to live in the trainer's room for three hours every day. I have five different things wrong with my back from two herniated discs.
Martina: It's a good day off tomorrow.
Anna: From two herniated discs to four cracks that I have. The right side is smaller than the left side.
Martina: I don't want to hear it.
Anna: All kinds of weird stuff.

You can read the entire interview here.

Wimbledon--what they said

Will a win in the doubles help you get over what happened today?
I have to get over it. I have to play another match. I want to win that match. I don't want to lose that match. I have to move on rather quickly.
Venus Williams

...her backhand is her stronger shot. I mean, it's very hard to read the shot. Especially when she goes down the line, it's like a last‑second. You can't even read it.
Kim Clijsters, referring to Vera Zvonareva

I had one win over her, and I thought I could win, and I was going for it.
Tsvetana Pironkova

A lot of players are intimidated by Serena Williams. You don't seem to be. You go out and seem to like to play her aggressive game against her. You come to the court. You not need be afraid about opponent. You have to think about yourself, yeah.
Li Na

With Fed Cup coming to San Diego next, have you thought at all ‑‑ are you thinking about playing? Is it a possibility, not a possibility?
Yeah, I'm always thinking about playing. You know, it's just always so tough. Usually I can't walk in November. 
Serena Williams

Obviously right now I feel disappointed, but I think it's going away in a few hours.
Kaia Kanepi

I think I have the habit of probably not finishing my service motion to a full end because as soon as I land with my first foot, I'm already pushing back to be ready for that next shot. So you have to make a choice. You want to be ready, you know, maybe a little bit later for the next shot because you want to have a higher percentage of serve. I'm really trying to work on that. Obviously, you know, in practice it's going well. In matches, it's your habits that come back at the most important moments in the match.
Kim Clijsters

How many grass courts do you have in Bulgaria?
We have none actually.
Tsvetana Pironkova

...I didn't bring my best tennis today. And sometimes, like I said, you really have to live in the moment. I got too caught up in the mistakes I was making instead of just letting it go and moving on.
Venus Williams

At the beginning of the third set, I was so tired like in the head and also the physical. I was really down.
Petra Kvitova

I'm just so proud of the girls. They worked their asses off. Tennis is a grind. I think women in general don't get enough credit. It's a full‑time job, it's 24/7. You're week in, week out on the road for 10, 11 months out of the year. You have no personal life. You have no home life. It's very difficult.
Anna Kournikova, discussing the Russian players

We just had different style. Everyone had [her] own style. That made it unique. Pretty much now it looks very much the same, like the hard hitting, yeah. I think they just don't teach it anymore.
Martina Hingis

Was it the forehand that let you down the most today?
I think I missed all shots today--forehand, volley, backhand. You know, if there was a shot to miss, I think I missed it.
Venus Williams

With players like Hingis and Kournikova in the senior division today, does that make you think you must be getting old, or...
I could ask you the same question.
Serena Williams

Petra Kvitova--always down but never out--fights her way to Wimbledon semifinals

Generally speaking, when a person is under stress, she regresses to former, undesirable behaviors. Petra Kvitova, in her semifinal match against Kaia Kanepi, was under a great deal of stress, running a step--or many steps--behind her opponent throughout the match. To make things worse, Kvitova's prior behaviors included a lot of wild hitting, executed by a player who was not willing to slow down, be more precise, and ultimately turn less into more.

But that regression never occurred. Oh, perhaps on a point here and there, and there was an almost chronic serving problem--but, in general, Kvitova did not go to pieces and revert to her hit-or-miss style of play. Instead, she fought. She fought ad points, she fought match points--five of them--and she fought most fiercely when she was down 0-4 in the third set.

There was a lot of big news at Wimbledon today. Five-time champion Venus Williams went out in straight sets. Vera Zvonareva finally beat Kim Clijsters. That was the news. But the story of the day, at least for me, was that Petra Kivitova had nerves of steel almost every moment, even though, over and over, she appeared to be losing the match.

Kanepi got one break in the first set, and won it 6-4. The second set became even more competitive, with Kanepi serving well consistently and both women hitting well. There were no opportunities to break, so the set went to a tiebreak. At 6-5, Kanepi had a match point, but Kvitova saved it. Kanepi had another match point at 7-6, and a third one at 8-7, and those disappeared, too. At this point, given Kanepi's frustration, it wasn't much of a stretch to believe that Kvitova would take the set--and she did just that, winning the tiebreak 10-8.

Whatever negativity Kanepi experienced during the tiebreak, she shook it off, and immediately went up 2-0 in the third set. Then she went up 3-0, and then 4-0. The end seemed quite near, but if you looked at Kvitova's face and body language, you sensed that--for her--the end might not be so near, after all. Maybe she was thinking about the fact that qualifier Kanepi was playing the third set of her eighth match. Or maybe--after taking out Zheng Jie, Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki--Kvitova just wasn't ready to go home.

Kanepi went up 5-2, served for the match at 5-3, and faced a break point. Technically, Kvitova broke her, but the point had to be replayed. Kvitova was happy to break her again for the sake of the electronic system, and she then held at love. They kept playing, and by this time, Kanepi was making more errors and not serving really big like she had been. Nevertheless, at 5-6, Kvitova double-faulted, giving Kanepi her fourth match point. Kvitova saved that match point with a stunning second serve, but then double-faulted again, setting up Kanepi's fifth match point.

Kvitova served out wide to the ad court, saving yet another match point, then hit another really good serve to get to game point. She held, then broke Kanepi at 6-all. At this point, after almost three hours, the end really was near: Kvitova won the third set 8-6.

Kanepi's meltdown was probably more mental than it was physical; she had played a lot of tennis in a short period of time. It was also the end of a great story: A qualifier--seeking to get back to her rightful place in the rankings after suffering injuries and a loss of confidence--almost made it to the semifinals at Wimbledon. But there was more to the story than that meltdown: Kvitova put up the kind of fight that can make tennis almost indescribably exciting. There was hardly a moment when she wasn't fighting to keep up, or fighting to stay in the match. It was a really gutsy performance.

As for Kanepi, getting to the quarterfinals was quite an accomplishment, and it's nice to have her back.

Williams defeats Li and advances to Wimbledon semifinals

Top-seeded Serena Williams faced one of her better opponents today in the Wimbledon quarterfinals. Li Na, whom Williams beat 7-6, 7-6 in a thrilling Australian Open semifinal earlier this year, gave Williams a good fight during the first set, which Williams won 7-5. But--despite breaking Williams when she served for the match at 5-2--Li's serving level dropped in the second set, and Williams was able to attain a 7-5, 6-3 win. Williams hit "only" eleven aces in this match, bringing her Wimbledon total to 73. The defending champion committed only six unforced errors in two sets.

Venus Williams & Kim Clijsters both upset in Wimbledon quarterfinals

Four years ago, Tsvetana Pironkova beat Venus Williams in the first round of the Australian Open. Pironkova  became known for upsetting big players, but she also became known for her inability to close matches; hence, her skills have attained her little other than some occasional tournament publicity.

Pironkova, in 18 tries, had never gone beyond the second round of Wimbledon, yet today, once again facing Venus Williams, she pulled out a 6-2, 6-3 victory and is now in the semifinals. Williams was definitely having an "off" day, spraying balls all over the place and missing more first serves than usual. But it would be unfair to attribute Pironkova's victory entirely to Williams' bad day: Lower-ranked players often lose against poorly-playing top players, but Pironkova held herself together, and made only six unforced errors in the match. The world number 82 stayed calm, and used her slice forehand effectively against Williams in a number of rallies; she also repeatedly changed both the speed and the height of the ball.

We've all seen Williams lose big matches, but generally not before the final at this tournament. Her 29 unforced errors took away her chance--for now--to win a sixth Wimbledon championship.

Not as shocking, but nevertheless significant, was Vera Zvonareva's upset of Kim Clijsters. It isn't that Zvonareva doesn't have the game to beat Clijsters--she is a good mover with a sometimes-blistering backhand. But as a tournament moves into its final stages, the Russian tends to wilt, and she has a history of losing to Clijsters, though the matches have often been close. Today, it was the other way around. Zvonareva lost the first set, but then came back to achieve her first win over the 8th seed.

Clijsters' serve and forehand began to fail her in the second set, as Zvonareva's backhand became only more deadly. By the third set, Zvonareva had become dominant, and won the match 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. The 21st seed goes to the Wimbledon semifinals for the first time in her career.

Monday, June 28, 2010


Serena Williams is the winner of the BET Sportswoman of the Year award.

Note to some members of the Wimbledon crowd at Court 2: Imitating the crowd at the French Open is not a positive step. If five-time champion Venus Williams is late for her arrival on court, there's a good reason for it--and you know it.

Jamie Hampton of the USA won the $50k ITF tournament in Boston last week.

Kaia Kanepi is probably the only tour player whose website main page features an illustration of her rather than a photo.

ESPN's "Homecoming with Rick Reilly" will feature Billie Jean King on the July 3 show at 7 p.m. Eastern time. The show will air again on July 9 at 7:30 p.m. The program tells the life stories of famous athletes in front of family members and friends they have known throughout their lives. Tracy Austin and Maria Sharapova will be featured, with Chris Evert making an appearance via satellite.

Wimbledon quarterfinal draw

With the exception of a few top players, the Wimbledon quarterfinal draw is probably not what a lot of fans expected. The Williams sisters are there, a Belgian is there, and--no surprise to some of us--Li Na is there. A Russian is there--but probably not the one people were expecting to see:

Serena Williams (1) vs. Li Na (9)
They met in the semifinals of the Australian Open, and Williams won a 7-6, 7-6 thriller. Now they meet on grass, where Williams' serve is deadlier. Li won Birmingham, displaying her comfort with grass, and should be a good opponent for Williams. When Li gets into a groove, she can find the lines with ease.

Petra Kvitova vs. Kaia Kanepi (Q)
These two are big hitters, and this match has the potential to be very entertaining--even thrilling. Kanepi has a winning record against Kvitova, but this is a Kvitova we haven't seen before, so anything goes. Kanepi, a qualifier (though she has been ranked as high as 18) has already played seven matches, which could be a factor.

Kim Clijsters (8) vs. Vera Zvonareva (21)
Who knew that Zvonareva would be the last Russian standing? Getting into the quarterfinals at Wimbledon must feel really good for Zvonareva, who had to take such a long road back after her terrible accident in Charleston in 2009. On paper, this is Clijsters' match, but it could wind up closer than "paper" indicates.

Tsvetana Pironkova vs. Venus Williams (2)
In 2006, Pironkova upset Williams in the first round of the Australian Open. It's an interesting fact, but it won't bother the 2nd seed in the least.

Wimbledon--what they said

I don't even think about win or lose. So, yeah, just play tennis, like easy. I don't need thinking too much, yeah.
Li Na

Is there an element of your game that you've been particularly pleased with over the last week?

...I think I should be pleased with my movement on the court 'cause I had so much trouble last year. And I think finally I'm getting back. I'm confident about, yeah, the way I move on the court I think.
Vera Zvonareva

Has the heat been a factor at all for you?

I'm from Florida. Anyone who knows Florida knows this heat is not the same.
Venus Williams

How close do you think you came to beating her today?
Well, I lost, so I don't think I was close enough.
Jarmila Groth

Where were you in the first set?

I was out there somewhere, but I'm not quite sure.
Kim Clijsters

I think, on this service you can't pretend; you have to really be a good player. You have to be athletic. You have to be able to play the tough points. The points are quicker, so you can't just kind of keep balls in play and maybe outlast your opponent. You really have to be able to play.
Venus Williams

Kim did a lot of mistakes, that's for sure, in the first set, and I was really into it. Slowly but surely, she started to be more intense in the second, putting me under more pressure. I've never been after that really able to come more into the court, you know, and just be in the control of the release. I was running after the ball. That wasn't that easy.
Justine Henin

What do you need to do to your game to take it to the next level of these other players?
That's a good question. I'm not sure right now actually.
Jarmila Groth

Especially those first two steps forward I think on grass are extremely important, especially against Justine, because she has that slice that kind of drops dead a little bit. Also, with the return, she can really chip it. It kind of drops dead in the middle of the court. Those are tough shots to play. But I really felt that on grass now I can really, yeah, just step up. Those first few steps are really important.
Kim Clijsters

How would you rate the way you played today both mentally and physically?

I mean, I was right there. I felt really good. You know, I gave her a run for her money. I'm feeling really good. I'm in a much better spot than I was last year. I'm playing a lot better, feeling really great physically.
Maria Sharapova

I think she gives everyone a run for her money. She's such a tough player. She never gives up. Right when you think you have her, she comes back. She's a player you cannot count out.
Serena Williams, referring to Li Na

Did you expect to be so good at this tournament? Did you improve your practice specially for this tournament?
I did just practicing my serve. But, yeah, I practiced a lot. Now it's good.
Petra Kvitova

I don't think it's easy to go out and perform every day. I think you have to have some sort of either real mental toughness or have some tic loose in your brain.
Serena Williams

Also in our country we're having a major disaster. Can you in any way relate the two disasters?
You know, it's funny, most importantly it's the fear that's in people's minds and the fear that no one really understands what's going on, and that leads to a poor quality of life for them and for the regions around them. You know, my goal is really to restore that and to send the message that we're all very aware of the situation, what has happened many years ago, and that people on a daily basis are still affected by it, are getting sick, and are living in those regions.
Maria Sharapova, discussing the Chernobyl disaster

After I win in Birmingham, I was feeling more confident, more positive thinking on the grass court. But because my coach didn't come to Birmingham, so after I meet him, he was like, "Just forget Birmingham. This much different tournament." So every time, he always talk like--every time he talk like, "Forget, forget, forget that one." I was like, "Okay." I couldn't forget. I played five rounds of match, win tournament. How I can forget that?
Li Na

Petrova & Stosur upset in 3rd round of Wimbledon

Today at Wimbledon, the unseeded team of Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova upset 3rd seeds Nadia Petrova and Sam Stosur, 6-4, 6-4.

There were no other upsets. However, of interest is the 6-2, 6-2 defeat of 11th seeds Cara Black and Daniela Hantuchova by the 7th-seeded team of Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs.

In mixed doubles, the top-seeded team of Sam Stosur and Nenad Zimonjic advanced, as did the team of Kim Clijsters and Xavier Malisse, who defeated 15th seeds Elena Vesnina and Andy Ram. 2nd seeds Cara Black and  Leander Paes also won their second round match today.

Kvitova blasts Wozniacki out of Wimbledon in round of 16

Petra Kvitova has always been a good hitter, but has tended to be careless. She has steadied herself at Wimbledon, however, and today added another impressive win to her string of Wimbledon upsets (which includes Zheng Jie and Victoria Azarenka) by upsetting 3rd seed Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 6-0. Kvitova had first and second service win percentages of 86 and 77, she hit 23 winners, and was successful at the net 88% of the time.

In contrast, Wozniacki--though she got 79% of her first serves in--won points on only 30% of them. She hit four winners in the entire match, and never saw a break opportunity.

Kvitova, by the way, has finally put on some weight; for a while, she loked like she might blow away.

Top seed Serena Williams faced a determined Maria Sharapova, but she prevailed, 7-6, 6-4. Sharapova held three set points in the first set tiebreak, but could not convert any of them. Williams hit 19 aces, bringing her total at this tournament to 62.

2nd seed Venus Williams, as I predicted, got her most serious challenge today, in the form of Jarmila Groth. It was an enjoyable match, but did not go to three sets, as I thought it might, because Groth eventually had trouble handling the occasion. Williams broke Groth at 4-all in the first set, and then held to win the set. Groth served for the second set at 5-4 and was broken. She served for the again at 6-5 and was broken again. Williams rushed to a quick 4-0 lead in the tiebreak, but Groth caught up with her, only to double-fault at 5-all, giving her opponent a match point. Williams won the match when Groth threw a forehand into the net.

Williams hit 26 winners and made 15 unforced errors. Groth hit 25 winners and made 16 unforced errors. Williams used her experience to win this match, which left Groth looking understandably disappointed. The Australian player has a lot to be proud of, however--coming from out of almost nowhere to reach the round of 16 at both the French Open and Wimbledon. She had a most impressive Wimbledon run.

Clijsters wins all-Belgian match at Wimbledon

The much-anticipated Wimbledon round of 16 match between Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin took place today, and Clisters advanced to the quarterfinals with a 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory. The match, however, did not live up to the expectations of some fans.

Clijsters struggled with her serve in the first set, was error-prone, and was easily broken. During that set, Henin fell and hurt her elbow, and received treatment for the injury at the first opportunity. After losing the first set, the 8th-seeded Clijsters adjusted her game and her serve, and reversed the score to take the second set.

At 4-all in the third, Clijsters broke the 17th seed and then successfully served for the match. She is now 3-0 against Henin since both returned to the tour.

4th seed Jelena Jankovic appeared on the court today with strapping on her thigh. She was having obvious trouble pushing off, and with opponent and 21st seed Vera Zvonareva leading 6-1, 3-0, Jankovic, after checking with a trainer, retired because her lower back had locked. She and partner Chanelle Scheepers gave their opponents, Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta, a walkover in doubles.

Li Na defeated 7th seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3, 6-2, marking the first time the 9th seed has beaten Radwanska on a grass court. Tsvetana Pironkova upset 11th seed Marion Bartoli, 6-4, 6-4. This is the first time that Pironkova has beaten Bartoli; Bartoli has three wins against her, all on hard courts.

Qualifier Kai Kanepi advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Klara Zakopalova.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Two highly anticipated match-ups in Wimbledon round of 16

Today we all take a rest from Wimbledon, and tomorrow we get the entire round of 16. Included in those contests is a match between Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin. This will be the third time they have met since Henin returned to the tour. Both of their other matches this year were played on hard courts, both were decided by tiebreaks, and both were won by Clijsters. Throughout their careers, Henin has won three of their four matches on grass, including the last two, in 2006. One of those was a Wimbledon semifinal.

The Belgians have played each other a total of 24 times, and each has won twelve matches. Eleven of those matches were finals, of which Henin won seven. And four of those finals were played at majors, where Henin won them all.

Few, if any, would argue that--during their first careers, when the stakes were high--Henin had a mental edge over her countrywoman. Does she still have it, or have Clijsters close 2010 victories gotten into Henin's head? Is one of them a better grass player, and will it matter?

If the much-anticipated match between Henin and Clijsters doesn't interest you much, take heart: Another round of 16 match features Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. They haven't played one another since Williams defeated Sharapova in the 2008 Charleston quarterfinals, and their head-to-head is a lopsided one: Williams has won five or their seven matches. Still, there is interest because one of Sharapova's wins was in the Wimbledon final of 2004. Her other win was also big: She defeated Williams in the final of the 2004 tour Championships. Williams has beaten Sharapova twice at the Australian Open, and one of those times occurred during a final.

Clearly, given their history--and given how much Sharapova has struggled in recent months because of injury, incompetent medical care, and resulting problems with her serve--top seed Williams is the favorite to win this match. A win by Sharapova, at this point, would be quite an upset.

As interesting as these two matches are sure to be, however, there are other round of 16 matches that are well worth watching:

Jelena Jankovic has never played beyond the round of 16 at Wimbledon. Her opponent this year is Vera Zvonareva, who says she is not quite in form yet, but who looked plenty in-form against 15th seed Yanina Wickmayer in the third round. The "something extra" that Jankovic has added  is hitting down-the-line winners with her forehand, as opposed to just using her famous backhand for the shot.

Agnieszka Radwanska and Li Na have played each other three times, and Radwanska has won both matches that were played on grass. She is obviously favored in this match, but both women are quietly and skillfully moving through the draw, and Li has obviously lost some of her discomfort with grass play.

Petra Kvitova played some of her best tennis against Victoria Azarenka in the third round, and she also defeated 2008 semifinalist Zheng Jie. Kvitova is a hit-or-miss player, but if she stays calm and swings with some authority against Caroline Wozniacki, she could move Wozniacki out of her comfort zone.

2007 finalist Marion Bartoli plays Tsvetana Pironkova, who is known for pulling big upsets, but who is equally known for displaying mental fragility at big moments. Klara Zakopalova plays qualifier (and former top 20 player) Kaia Kanepi. Both women are playing very good tennis at Wimbledon, and this is most likely going to be a match worth watching.

Finally, Venus Williams plays Jarmilla Groth, who may or may not handle the occasion. If she handles it, she may provide Williams with her best match so far. Groth looks comfortable on the grass. So far, in six sets, she has hit 81 winners, made 55 unforced errors, and been sucessful at the net 70% of the time. She also has an average first serve win percentage of 75. This will be the first meeting between Groth and Williams.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Wimbledon--what they said

How do you compare your form at the end of the first week to last year when you won?
I thought I was playing a little better last year, so hopefully I can pick it up. I'm going to have to, obviously, in the next match or next couple.
Serena Williams

You made it look easy.
Yeah, but we played, I think, almost two hours, or almost two hours. I think she's a great player on the clay court and a little bit worse, I think, on the grass. So I think that's why it was three and one.
Agnieszka Radwanska

She needs to have a middle gear...
Virginia Wade, referring to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

We had an incident last night (when) a player lost his cool with the crowd. Generally speaking, for a player, how hard is it to keep cool if the match is going badly and the crowd is on your back?
I didn't hear about that, so I don't know. You know, sometimes you lose your cool. I have experience with that.
Serena Williams

I played with a new partner today, Marcelo Melo. I mean if there was ever a player I should have played with, it's a guy named Melo??
Rennae Stubbs

Could you talk about a big rivalry match like this and how it compares to a standard or regular match? When you know you're going up against a big rival, do you like it? Do you find yourself more engaged? Does it change your preparation in any way?
Yeah, you know, I'd call it a rivalry when I win a few more against her.
Maria Sharapova, referring to Serena Williams

Wimbledon miscellany

Here is a fine piece from the New York Times on Martina Navratilova.

And here is more on the 9-time Wimbledon champion.

After Wimbledon, 2004 champion Maria Sharapova is going to Belarus to visit an area affected by the Chernobyl nuclear incident. Sharapova, a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme--through her foundation--supports a number of Chernobyl-affected areas in Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

I've already mentioned how much I like Jelena Jankovic's Wimbledon dress; my other favorite is Serena Williams' "strawberries and cream" creation.

1969 Wimbledon champion Ann Jones showed up in high heels for the on-court event with the Queen Elizabeth II, resulting in some spiked turf.

Mattek-Sands & Nestor win 2nd round thriller

Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Daniel Nestor defeated Lindsay Davenport and Bob Bryan 6-4, 3-6, 11-9 today in the second round of mixed doubles at Wimbledon. The 6th-seeded Mattek-Sands and Nestor held three match points when their opponents served at 9-10, but they had to save a game point and wait for Davenport to double-fault in order to win on their fourth match point.

Also in the second round, 3rd seeds Liezel Huber and Mahesh Bhupati were upset by Vera Dushevina and Dmitry Tursonov, and 4th seeds Nuria Llagostera Vives and Oliver Marach were upset by Yaroslava Shvedova and Julian Knowle.

In women's doubles, Dushevina did not do as well. She and partner Ekaterina Makarova, seeded 13th, were defeated 7-6, 6-4 by Jelena Jankovic and Chanelle Scheepers. Serena Williams beat Dominika Cibulkova twice today--once in singles, and again in doubles. Williams and her partner, Venus Williams, defeated Cibulkova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 6-2.

The 14th seeds, Monica Niculescu and Shahar Peer, were upset, as were the 17th seeds, Chuang Chia-Jung and Olga Govortsova.

Pennetta & Azarenka out of Wimbledon

Klara Zakopalova, a gifted player who has trouble stringing together victories, has strung together two huge ones at Wimbledon this week. In the second round, she upset 18th seed Aravane Rezai, and today, she upset 10th seed Flavia Pennetta. Pennetta, whose weakest surface is grass, was overwhelmed 6-2, 6-3 by her opponent. Zakopalova hit 25 winners to Pennetta's six, and had a noteworthy second serve win percentage of 70. She is currently ranked 66th in the world.

Things didn't go any better for 18th seed Victoria Azarenka, who was defeated 7-5, 6-0 by world number 62 Petra Kvitova. Kvitova is one of the many players on the tour who has hitting talent but who tends to lose control of her aggression. That was not the case today, however, when she won ten straight games to knock Azarenka out of the third round.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova squandered multiple opportunities in her match against 3rd seed Caroline Wozniacki. The 29th seed repeatedly followed brilliant shots with thoughtless errors. This was a typical Wozniacki match in that the 3rd seed hit half as many winners as her opponent, but also made half as many unforced errors. She defeated Pavlyuchenkova 7-5, 6-4.

Dominika Cibulkova, like Michelle Larcher De Brito before her, staged a gutsy second set against top seed Serena Williams, who won the first set 6-0. Williams won, however, 6-0, 7-5, hitting 19 aces (Cibulkova hit 13) along the way. Also winning was 16th seed Maria Sharapova, who defeated Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 7-5, 6-3.

Qualifier (and former top 20 player) Kaia Kanepi easily defeated Alexandra Dulgheru, 6-1, 6-2, and 7th and 9th seeds Agnieszka Radwanska and Li Na continued to move quietly through the draw. Radwanska defeated Sara Errani 6-3, 6-1, and Li defeated Anastasia Rodionova 6-1, 6-3.

6-0, 6-0, 6-0

That looks like an impossible tennis score, but it's something else--the results of each of Serena Williams' first sets in the three matches she has played. She defeated Michelle Larcher De Brito, Anna Chakvetadze and Dominika Cibulkova in straight sets, and none of her opponents won a game in the first set.

Next for Williams is Maria Sharapova, and one assumes that the round of 16 will put an end to the pattern. Sharapova defeated Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 7-5, 6-3 today in the third round.

Top seed upset in 1st round of junior girls Wimbledon

Elina Svitolina, the top seed in the Wimbledon junior girls draw, was upset in the first round today by Grace Min of the USA. Min defeated Svitolina 2-6, 7-5, 6-3.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Robson to play in Wimbledon junior competition

Britain's Laura Robson, who went out in the first round in Wimbledon singles, doubles and mixed doubles, is using a wild card to play in the junior Wimbledon Championships. Robson won the event in 2008, when she defeated Noppowan Lertcheewakarn in the final.

Robson, who is seeded 8th, will play Risa Ozaki of Japan in the first round. The top seed this year is Elina Svitolina of Ukraine. Seeded fourth is Karolina Pliskova, who defeated Robson in the Australian Open junior girls final.

Wimbledon doubles update

There were a couple of upsets in doubles today at Wimbledon. Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci defeated 10th seeds Maria Kirilenko and Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 6-1. Also, Dominika Cibulkova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova defeated 15th seeds Alicja Rosolska and Yan Zi 7-5, 6-1.

Top seeds Serena and Venus Williams defeated Timea Bacsinszky and Tathiana Garbin 6-1, 7-6; the second set was quite entertaining.

In mixed doubles, Laura Robson and Jamie Murray went out today in the first round. Vera Zvonareva and Andre Sa defeated the Brits 6-3, 6-3.

Complaint central

One of my parents was British, and I developed a lifelong interest in tennis because of a Wimbledon tournament I saw when I was young, but over the years, the tournament has become my least favorite of the majors. Here is what's bothering me this year (not all of which has to do with the Wimbledon itself):

Linespeople wearing long sleeves, and linesmen having to wear ties
How dreadfully uncomfortable and hot is that?! I think putting the lineswomen in skirts is ridiculous, too, but at least there (probably) isn't a comfort factor there.

Putting twice as many men's matches as women's matches on the show courts
That could change next week, but for now, it's bothering me.

An absence of longer rallies
But without Martinez Sanchez-type flare

Announcers saying "Wim-bl-DEN" (accent theirs, not mine)

Reading and hearing analyses of the evolving relationship between Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters
Does anyone care?

The non-stop chattering of John McEnroe

The outrageous sexism of the British press, which is even worse than the press in my country

The ongoing sexism of the tournament, though--after getting caught putting the "more attractive" women (excuse me--"girls") on the better courts last year, tournament officials have, at least ostensibly, toned it down a bit (however, the honorifics are not only sexist, but ridiculously inaccurate)

The decision to not schedule Serena Williams on Centre Court the day the Queen visited
I know Serena got to  meet the Queen (and vice versa), and I know that the Queen didn't stay for the women's match, anyway, but these facts really have nothing to do with the decision made by tournament officials. And with Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal both scheduled, there is little room for misinterpretation.

Is there anything I like about Wimbledon?, you may be asking. Yes. I enjoy seeing the players in their whites one time a year (but where is the clay?!). I also very much enjoy listening to Virginia Wade and Simon Reed. And I actually like seeing the linespeople dressed up a bit, but not in clothing that is obviously not appropriate for their jobs.

What I like best about Wimbledon is seeing certain players who really shine on fast courts. Wimbledon gives them an opportunity to play at their best. The grass season, however, is undoubtedly too short.

Wimbledon--what they said

I think I was a little bit surprised because I thought she would hit the ball harder. I felt she was hitting the ball hard on faster shots of mine if I was getting out wider to her backhand. I felt she was really playing very aggressively from when she had to, when it was kind of all or nothing.
Kim Clijsters, speaking of Maria Kirilenko

Grass is a very tough surface. You have to be so focused all the time. The scoreboard can change very quickly. So I think you have to be really focused and it's in the head.
Marion Bartoli

...I DO NOT REGRET about not shaking the hand.
Svetlana Kuznetsova

That's something that, you know, I was working for a while: trying to play more aggressively, serving well, and playing go very well in the returning games and coming to the net. So I think I did overall pretty well today. I hope I can continue like that.
 Jelena Jankovic

If you were to describe your style of play and Justine's for somebody who had never seen either of you play, how would you describe them?
It's like school exams here.
Kim Clijsters

...I'm not here really to win Wimbledon; I'm here to give my best and I'm here to go as far as possible in the tournament.
Justine Henin

Are you healthy enough now and motivated enough and strong enough to get back to the level where you were before you had the injury?
Yeah, you know, finally I think I feel good. Couple of minor things, but every single tennis player experiences those. But I can say finally I'm healthy and finally I can put up a good work. You know, I'm looking forward to improve my game and get back to that level where I was before.
Vera Zvonareva

...people are playing longer these days. They don't give it up too quickly anymore. If they do give it up, they come back and keep winning.
Venus Williams

And finally, the power of the unconscious mind...
I haven't done great at the Grand Slams. I didn't play the Australian Open....
Kim Clijsters

Jankovic makes easy trip to Wimbledon round of 16

It took 4th seed Jelena Jankovic just fourteen minutes to win her first set against 28th seed Alona Bondarenko in today's Wimbledon third round play. It took her under an hour to win the whole thing, 6-0, 6-3. Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters, Marion Bartoli, and Venus Williams won their matches in straight sets, and Tsvetana Pironkova won her by retirement when Regina Kulikova's back once again went out on her.

Looking very good today was 21st seed Vera Zvonareva, who--despite double-faulting a few too many times--was simply stunning in the service department, posting a 94 first serve win percentage. She also looked very sharp at the net. Zvonareva was never broken by opponent Yanina Wickmayer, the 15th seed, and came away with a 6-4, 6-2 victory.

Finally, there was Jarmilla Groth, who has looked good in this tournament so far. She became careless in her second set against Angelique Kerber, and was broken the first time she served for the match. She had to wait a while to serve for it again, but she did so successfully. Groth defeated Kerber 6-3, 7-5, and--in the course of the match--hit some truly lovely winners.

Friday cat blogging--hideaway edition

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Chan and Zheng upset in Wimbledon doubles

Zheng Jie had a bad day at Wimbledon today. The 2008 semifinalist was defeated not only in singles, but also in doubles. She and partner Chan Jung-Jan, seeded 9th, were defeated 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 by the team of Akgul Amanmuradova and Kristina Barrois.

5th seeds Liezel Huber and Bethanie Mattek-Sands won a close contest against Sarah Borwell and Raquel Kops-Jones. Huber and Mattek-Sands defeated their opponents 6-7, 6-3, 7-5.

Mixed doubles competition began today, with Gisela Dulko and Juan Ignacio Chela defeating Julia Goerges and Michael Kohlmann 6-7, 6-1, 6-4.

Wimbledon--what they said

I don't really understand grass yet. Everyone is saying that my game is perfect for the grass, but we'll see. I don't know.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

Do you feel the courts are playing fairly fast because of the weather?
The weather's certainly helping them. When I played on the championship courts a few days ago just as practice before the tournament started, they were playing pretty slow. But it was kind of cloudy, not as warm. So that's helping, for sure.
Maria Sharapova

She's not the sort of person you'd want to get into a road rage with. She would stop and get out, wouldn't she?
BBC commentator, referring to Anastasia Rodionova

On the women's side Serena had a comfortable win on Court 2, but I have to say, I was a little disgusted that she was on Court 2 today. I cannot imagine the Wimbledon  Committee putting Roger on 2 or Rafa on 2??? can you?? Serena has earned the right to not play on Court 2. She is the world number1 and defending champion here at Wimbledon  and to me it was an insult to see her out there. Okay, those are my feelings about it anyway, especially on the day the Queen came. It's just a little ridiculous that here at Wimbledon, they put two men on Centre and Court 1 and only one women's match, every day!
Rennae Stubbs

When you're at home, do you get questions about is it time for you now to be one of the top players, especially with Svetlana hasn't been playing that well this year and Dinara has been hurt and now Dementieva is hurt. Do you hear a little bit of that?
Well, no, not really, because I'm never at home...
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

Your bow had a lot of rhythm to it, tremendous depth. Some critics thought it might be a tad overproduced. Can you analyze it?
My bow didn't go the way I wanted. I didn't get my wrist action that I thought I would have, and then I got nervous. So my knee kind of got tight, and I felt a lot of pain in my left knee, so I couldn't get as low as I wanted to.
So you're blaming your injuries?
I'm going to blame my injury.
Serena Williams

Kuznetsova and Rezai both upset in Wimbledon 2nd round

18th seed Aravane Rezai was shown the Wimbledon exit today by Klara Zakopalova, who defeated her 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 today in the second round. When Zakopalova is switched on, she does this sort of thing, and creates a great result.

The 19th seed didn't fare any better. Svetlana Kuznetsova was upset 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 by former countrywoman Anastasia Rodionova. Rodionova has been suffering with hip problems for a while, and I'm a little suprised she has lasted this long. She did receive treatment during the match, which apparently helped. She also questioned so many line calls, in her own special way, that Kuznetsova finally let her feelings out by refusing to shake hands with her. Note to Sveta: There are more productive ways of letting your feelings out on the court.

23rd seed Zheng Jie, who was a semifinalist at Wimbledon a couple of years ago, was taken out by Petra Kvitova, who defeated her 6-4, 2-6, 6-2. Zheng--who greatly improved her first serve after hiring a service coach when Justine Henin blew her off the court in the semifinals of the Australian Open--had serious problems with her second serve.

Daniela Hantuchova, seeded 24th, is also gone. She was upset 1-6, 6-2, 6-4 by Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.

Dominika Cibulkova and Ayumi Morita spent 2 hours and 48 minutes on the court today. Cibulkova won, 6-7, 7-6, 7-5.

All of the other seeds won their matches, with the top seed, Serena Williams, defeating Anna Chakvetadze 6-0, 6-1.

On their knees, begging the question

For years, many of us have written about the sports media's refusal to promote women's sports, an act made worse by their then turning around and saying "But no one wants to watch women's sports." Obviously, if the sports media promoted women's sports the way they do men's sports, women's sports would be more popular. In some cases, people would learn for the first time that women even play certain sports.

The latest member of the media (albeit one who does promote women's tennis) to parrot this argument is Jon Wertheim, writing in the July/August issue of Tennis. Says Wertheim: "'s the reason women tennis players should be paid less than their male counterparts: simple economics. That is, the market has spoken and it says, unmistakably, that the product simply isn't worth as much."

I agree with that, on its face. But the market has been manipulated by a strong cultural bias toward males. Shouldn't we fix the market before declaring the sanctity of its results?


Anna Chakvetadze's Tennis Channel "Bag Check" is hilarious.

I especially like Jelena Jankovic's Wimbledon dress.

Queen Elizabeth II visited Wimbledon today and chatted with Anne Keothavong about her injuries.

This blog is about women's tennis, but I don't think anyone will object if I step outside that realm for a moment and express total awe over what John Isner and Nicolas Mahut have given us at this Wimbledon. Congratulations to John! (And maybe some day, U.S. and British commentators and announcers will really "respect" Nicolas and stop mangling his name.)

You can learn a little about Alison Riske here. She decided against attending Vanderbilt University (and playing for its tennis team) two weeks before classes began.

Check out the second from the top link. (But with Tatiana Golovin not there, does anyone really care?)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wimbledon--what they said

Is playing on grass the most fun just because it's soft?
It is. It is. But then I also like those intense rallies where you push off, you know. It's more physical, but I like that. But yet again, yeah, it's a completely different game. There's so much more thinking involved. I like that part about it, as well.
Kim Clijsters

Serena and Venus I think brought a lot to the game because they really pushed us to physically and mentally get better. And I think they did an amazing job for women's tennis, as we really had to get better after them.
Justine Henin

...I don't think we'll see a lot of youngers anymore coming up and doing well, I think it's because of the physical part. I think it's become so much more physical these days.
Kim Clijsters

It happens too much, especially when she's not comfortable, when she's scared a little bit or under a bit of pressure. It's very difficult because during the years before we teamed up, she needed approval from somebody, good or not good. I've talked to different professionals and they say, "You don't have to put her in a situation where you don't permit her to look at you because it might disturb her a lot." It's like an anchor. She needs this anchor, and now to try to break it after too many years, I don't think this is a good way to do it, especially because outside the court it's not really like this.
Carlos Rodriguez, discussing Justine Henin's continuous glances to him during matches

What's the state of your game right now?
Yeah, the state of my game is really living in the moment for each point. So regardless of what happened good or bad on the last point whatever it was, I'm just in that moment to win that point that I'm in. So that's my state.
How do you think you're playing?
I mean, I always think I'm playing well. I'm always giving myself a good grade.
Venus Williams

...there's not one tip or advice or difference that Belgium has compared to England. You know, you probably took most of our coaches already. So that didn't work.
Kim Clijsters

Jankovic through to 3rd round at Wimbledon

4th seed Jelena Jankovic had trouble today with her second serve--and with Aleksandra Wozniak, her opponent. She dropped the first set, but wound up with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory. She also hit 50 winners. In the third round, Jankovic will play Alona Bondarenko--again. They played each other in the third round of the Australian Open (Bondarenko won), and in the third round of the French Open (Jankovic won).

13th seed Shahar Peer was upset 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 by Angelique Kerber. Jarmila Groth defeated Melanie Oudin 6-4, 6-3. And Regina Kulikova upset Yaroslava Shvedova, 6-2, 6-4.

Yanina Wickmayer defeated Kirsten Flipkens 7-6, 6-4. Flipkens had several set points in the first set, and couldn't convert them for one reason or another. She also had some bad line calls, none of which was overruled by the umpire (no surprise, considering it was Kramer).

Kim Clijsters, Justine Henin and Venus Willliams won their matches. Williams defeated Eastbourne champion Ekaterina Makarova, who failed to win a single game in the first set. She did win four games in the second, but her serve failed her in the end. Williams, on the other hand, did a great job of serving throughout the match.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

In praise of Serena--and Michelle

Serena Williams was nothing short of spectacular in her Wimbledon first round match against Michelle Larcher De Brito today. Williams had a first serve win percentage of 100, and what can you say about that?--it speaks for itself. She also hit 15 aces, double-faulted only once, hit 47 winners, and won 75% of the times she went to the net. She won the first set 6-0 against a totally frustrated Larcher De Brito, and one wonders if any player could have won many games against her.

But I also want to commend Larcher De Brito for not giving up, for having a very admirable attitude, and for finding a way to win games in the second set. The second set, in fact, was quite entertaining, with the crowd doing everything possible to bolster the 17-year-old. Larcher De Brito hits hard, and can find some really good angles. Known for double-faulting, she did so only three times in this match. She ran, she dove, she fell onto the grass, and her effort made for a good second set.

Next for defending champion Williams is Anna Chakvetadze, a former top 10 player who has had a hard time of it for the last couple of years. Chakvetadze defeated up-and-comer Andrea Petkovic in the first round.

Wimbledon--what they said

Your nails look good today.
If I would have thought about it, I would have put a strawberry instead of a heart. They're hearts. I don't know why I didn't think of it sooner. I could have had a strawberry.
Serena Williams

...before when I was younger, a few years ago, if I wouldn't play for a few days, I would come out, the third, fourth serve I could hit pretty much as hard as I can. Now it's like ten, fifteen, twenty serves by the time it warms up.
Maria Sharapova, discussing her shoulder

Was the grass actually a problem today or was it just that your game wasn't on?
Well, I don't know. I don't know. Yeah, I didn't play that well. Maybe it was the grass. Maybe it wasn't. But you can't change what surface you're on at Wimbledon. I knew that I was going out to play on that surface.
Samantha Stosur

You're going to watch the USA football game. What's the tension like for you when you're watching the USA team?
Let me tell you, I'm jumping, I'm screaming, I'm punching the air. Just really into it. I mean, I'm really, really into it.
Serena Williams

Elena was in a similar situation yesterday, serving for the match in the second set. She went on to lose. Do you think British players have a temperament problem?
A temperament problem?
No, not at all. You know, there's so much pressure on all of us here. All of us, there's nothing more we'd love to do than play good tennis and win here. It just didn't happen. It's unfortunate. But, you know, life goes on. Nobody's died.
Anne Keothavong

You have to forget everything that happened in the past, no matter if you won this tournament, if you lost a few times, if you had bad results, unlucky times. Everything, when you go out on the line, it all starts from scratch.
Maria Sharapova

I really think that age doesn't matter. I think you can be 30 and be on the top of the ranking, and you can be 17. It really doesn't matter.
Caroline Wozniacki

Now, I don't particularly enjoy pointing this out, but there's compelling evidence that female tennis players choke more often than men. But I also think this choking makes women's tennis more fun to watch. Seriously.
Peter Keating

It's obviously been another emotional defeat. Is it the sort of thing that will make you shed a tear in private, in the locker room, or when you go home tonight?
Yeah, you know, it's been emotionally hard, obviously. But, you know, there are 64 other players in the same boat as me. I don't think I'll be the only one shedding a few tears.
Anne Keothavong

No Brits left after 2nd day of Wimbledon

Serena Williams made it look easy. Sam Stosur made it look frustrating. And the remaining British players made it look like not much fun.

On the second day of Wimbledon, the French Open finalist went out in the first round, the defending champion looked like a champion, and Elena Baltacha and Anne Keothavong lost the battle of nerves. Baltacha served for the match in her second set against Petra Martic (who, by the way, has an abdominal strain, and has given her second round opponent, Marion Bartoli, a walkover), but was defeated in the third set. Keothavong was up 4-0 in the third, but lost to Anastasia Rodionova. Wild card Heather Watson, who hit 34 winners, played a good first-ever match in a major, but lost in three sets to Romina Oprandi.

Oprandi was off of the tour for a long time--the rumor was that she had retired--because of an injury to her right forearem. She returned in 2008, however. Today, she arrived on the court with multiple bandages on her leg, and even had a group consult about her injury (as well as a fast medical check) when she called for the trainer. She showed no sign of injury or weakness during the match, however, and--as usual--she exhibited no affect (not the Chris Evert impenetrable affect, but no affect at all) at any point during the match. Oprandi won the first set 6-4, Watson totally dominated the second set, winning it 6-1, but the Italian successfully used her drop shot-passing shot combination to win the third 6-3. This was Oprandi's first victory in a major.

Williams, making her 2010 Wimbledon debut in her new strawberries and cream outfit, defeated Michelle Larcher De Brito 6-0, 6-4. A good-humored Tathiana Garbin made the final moments of her match against 3rd seed Caroline Wozniacki a funny affair; Wozniacki won it 6-1, 6-1. Gisela Dulko and Andrea Petkovic both went out, to Monica Niculescu and Anna Chakvetadze, respectively. And Tammy Tanasugarn, who has always had her best major results at Wimbledon, was defeated in the first round by Ayumi Morita.

Stosur out of Wimbledon in straight sets

Big-hitting Kaia Kanepi--who has yet to regain her pre-injury top 20 ranking, and who has had trouble closing big matches on her best days--held her nerve easily today in the first round of Wimbledon. Kanepi, who had to qualify to get into the main draw, upset 6th seed Sam Stosur 6-4, 6-4 with very little fuss. Kanepi maintained an 87 first serve win percentage, and competently went about breaking Stosur's serve three of the nine times she saw a break point.

Stosur saved three match points on her own serve and held for 5-3 in the second set, but the thrill was momentary; Kanepi held serve and--after an hour and 22 minutes--pulled off a considerable upset. Stosur has said all along that grass is a difficult surface for her, yet there were many who thought she would make a deep run at Wimbledon. Stosur's game sometimes lacks aggression when it is needed, and it is especially needed on grass.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Wimbledon miscellany

Rennae Stubbs is blogging from Wimbledon.

Serena Williams working on her curtsy.

Venus Williams is working on her shimmy; her Wimbledon dress was inspired by Tina Turner.

The chief groundsman at Wimbledon says the height of the bounce has changed, but not the speed of the ball.

For the first time in history, Wimbledon has a female chief umpire (via Forty Deuce)

Lindsay Davenport is working as a commentator for the BBC during Wimbledon.

Wimbledon--what they said

...she hits the ball really flat, low over the net and really deep. I think that's something that she really probably--probably flatter than any player out there. Serena hits the ball really hard and can be very explosive. But I think Maria, it's at a constant, constant rhythm.
Kim Clijsters, speaking of Maria Sharapova don't have to judge all the time. Everyone said, "Oh, this is not the thing to do or this is bad, this is right to do." I think I'm just saying that everyone sometime can just blow away. It just can happen.
Marion Bartoli, discussing the French football team

It'll be very, very difficult to beat Serena. Blimey, I mean, Serena's going to be the favourite to take the title again. But the one person who could potentially trouble her is Justine Henin, but I think that's the only person really.
Elena Baltacha

Here you cannot, you know, slide. You got to stop. Especially I find it quite hard sometimes changing direction.
Jelena Jankovic

What, in your mind, do you think was the key to that third set, because you absolutely dominated in the third set?
So when I did the break in the second set and I won it, it was 6-5 for me, and I start really well, first break in third set, and I felt that I'm going to win this match.
Vera Dushevina

...I was, you know, nervous but also excited to be out here, to be on the new Court Number 2, I had to find my way to get there a little bit. Luckily the security guard knew where we were going, because I actually had no idea.
Kim Clijsters

I remember the whole family would argue when we were playing cards. It was unbelievable, we're all so competitive and we'd end up calling each other cheats. I even remember playing football together and that would usually break out into an argument, because no one wanted to lose.
Elena Baltacha

French Open champion out in 1st round of Wimbledon

Last year, Francesca Schiavone suprised everyone by reaching the quarterfinals of Wimbledon. This year, she suprised a lot of people by winning the French Open. But her 2010 Wimbledon run did not even go for one match, though it did go for 2 hours and 54 minutes. Schiavone and former junior Wimbledon champion Vera Dushevina played a hard-fought match that ended with a 6-7 (all 7 points to Schiavone), 7-5, 6-1 victory for Dushevina.

4th seed Jelena Jankovic had to deal with the big-serving Laura Robson and a crowd of Robson supporters. Robson hit 13 aces, but could not overcome the deft movement of Jankovic (who, by the way hit ten forehand down-the-line winners). Eastbourne champion Ekaterina Makarova was down 2-5 in her second set against Agnes Szavay, but won the match 6-4, 7-6. And Alison Riske--though she played quite well--was not able to defeat Yanina Wickmayer twice in a row. Wickmayer, the 15th seed, won their match 6-4, 5-7, 6-3, but one could not help but be impressed with both the game and the poise of Riske.

It took her four match points but 13th seed Shahar Peer defeated Ana Ivanovic 6-3, 6-4. 2nd seed Venus Williams, 8th seed Kim Clijsters, and 17th seed Justine Henin all won in straight sets, as did Melanie Oudin. Alona Bondarenko served for the match in the second set, and was broken; opponent Katie O'Brien then won that set in a 12-10 tiebreak. When Bondarenko served for the match a second time, she won (6-3, 6-7, 6-4) on her fourth match point, after facing a break point.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Jankovic and Robson first on Centre Court

The first round match between 4th seed Jelena Jankovic and wild card Laura Robson will take place on Wimbledon's Centre Court tomorrow, following defending champion Roger Federer's first round match. Robson, who won the Wimbledon junior championship in 2008, is currently ranked number 234 in the world. She received a wild card last year, also, and lost in the first round to Daniela Hantuchova.

The winner will play either Eleni Daniilidou or Aleksandra Wozniak, who lost in Birmingham to Robson's peer, Heather Watson. Watson also has a wild card for the Wimbledon main draw.

Now that the draw has been changed to reflect the withdrawals of Dinara Safina and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, Melanie Oudin--who replaced Safina in the draw--will face Anna Lena Groenefeld in the first round. She was originally scheduled to play Kirsten Flipkens. Kateryna Bondarenko, who was to have played Maria Sharapova in the first round, will now play Greta Arn.

Quote of the day

"There's a lot of pressure to look good, get noticed. Everyone talks about it, but you have to deal with it in your own way. I'm just trying to play tennis."

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Pre-Wimbledon miscellany

Chris Oddo asks ten very good questions about Wimbledon.

Tennis Channel is showing Wimbledon classics this week. Today, both the 2004 and 2005 women's finals were featured. Unfortunately, I was not able to watch them, but I did see the last parts of both of them. So many memories...a 17-year-old Maria Sharapova taking it to Serena Williams, and the thriller Venus Williams won against Lindsay Davenport. Those are both unforgettable matches.

Venus Williams and co-author Kelly E. Carter will release their book, Come to Win: Business Leaders, Artists, Doctors, and Other Visionaries On How Sports Can Help You Top Your Profession, on June 29.

Daniela Hantuchova says that the grass court season is her favorite time of the year.

Before traveling to England, Jelena Jankovic spent her post-French Open time practicing on indoor carpet.

And finally, just in time for Wimbledon, here is Clive James' "Bring Me the Sweat of Gabriela Sabatini."

Quote of the day

"Working with Amelie for two weeks has been nice, we discuss my game a lot and outside the court I feel more comfortable. I know the job I have to do, I feel very relaxed, so I have to say thank you to Amelie."
Eastbourne champion Michael Llodra, who hired Amelie Mauresmo as a grass court consultant

Martinez Sanchez withdraws from Wimbledon

Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez has withdrawn from Wimbledon because of a knee injury. This news comes right after it was announced that Dinara Safina had withdrawn.

The 34th seed spot has been taken by Kateryna Bondarenko. Lucky loser Anastasia Pivovarova moves to the main draw.

Here is an updated list of withdrawals:

Peng Shuai (illness)
Sabine Lisicki (ankle injury)
Elena Dementieva (calf injury)
Virginie Razzano (hip injury)
Carla Suarez Navarro (ankle injury)
Dinara Safina (lower back injury)
Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (knee injury)

Safina withdraws from Wimbledon

Only ten days ago, Dinara Safina's coach said of her, "...physically, she's perfect. She's got no pain...." 

Something changed. Today, the former world number 1 withdrew from Wimbledon, citing a return of her lower back pain.

Her place in the draw has been taken by Melanie Oudin, who is now the 33rd seed. Lucky loser Stephanie Dubois has moved into the main draw.

Raymond and Stubbs win Eastbourne championship

Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs, seeded 4th at the AEGON International, won the championship today in Eastbourne. Raymond and Stubbs defeated 2nd seeds Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik 6-2, 2-6, 13-11. Peschke and Srebotnik held two match points in the super-tiebreak.

Henin wins Unicef Open

On a windy day in 's-Hertogenbosch, 7th seed Andrea Petkovic was up 6-3, 3-6, 3-0 against wild card and top seed Justine Henin in the Unicef Open. Petkovic has some problems closing big matches, and of course, those problems are going to be magnified when Henin is on the other side of the net. The Belgian walked away with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory, and she and Petkovic took home two of the more unusual trophies given on the tour.

Makarova wins Eastbourne--the good stories keep coming

Prior to coming to Eastbourne, Ekaterina Makarova had not gotten past the second round of a tournament this season. At the AEGON International, players faced the toughest draw imaginable, and Makarova was no exception. Only first she had to qualify. In qualifying, she defeated Evigeniya Rodina and Sania Mirza. Then the world 100 defeated 6th seed Flavia Pennetta, Nadia Petrova, Svetlana Kuznetsova, 3rd seed Sam Stosur, and--today--Victoria Azarenka. And throughout the tournament, she didn't drop a set. Makarova is the first qualifier to ever win in Eastbourne.

Unfortunately, Azarenka's knees gave her some trouble in the final--just when we thought her injury problems were a thing of the past. This condition does not bode well for Azarenka as she prepares for Wimbledon.

As for Makarova, she has her Wimbledon work cut out for her, too. She plays Agnes Szavay in the first round; then, if things go as expected, she meets Venus Williams in the second round.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Experts' predictions

Here are some predictions of who will win Wimbledon:

Darren Cahill--Serena Williams
Mary Joe Fernandez--Venus Williams
Steve Tignor--Serena Williams
Greg Garber--Venus Williams
Cliff Drysdale--Serena Williams
Peter Bodo--Venus Williams
Kamakshi Tandon--Serena Williams
Simon Reed--Serena Williams
Sarah Unke--Venus Williams
Bonnie D. Ford--Kim Clijsters
Tom Perrotta--Venus Williams
Ravi Ubha--Venus Williams
Jon Wertheim--Serena Williams

Kudryattseva & Rodionova win Unicef Open championship

3rd seeds Alla Kudryattseva and Anastasia Rodionova won the Unicef Open doubles championship in 's-Hertogenbosch today. Kudryattseva and Rodionova defeated 4th seeds Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova 3-6, 6-3, 10-6. They also eliminated the number 1 seeds in the semifinals.

In singles semifinal action, top seed and wild card Justine Henin defeated 5th seed Alexandra Dulgheru 6-2, 6-2, and 7th seed Andrea Petkovic defeated Kirsten Flipkens 6-7, 7-6, 6-4.

Makarova and Azarenka to meet in Eastbourne final

Ekaterina Makarova has an excellent record at the AEGON International. In 2008 and 2009, she had to go through qualifying, but she has reached the quarterfinals. This year, she had to qualify again, and now she has reached the final.

If Makarova isn't a player fans expected to see in this year's final, neither is her opponent. Victoria Azarenka is, of course, a very fine player, but she has had to withdraw and retire so much lately because of knee and thigh injuries, it seemed improbable that she would wind up in the AEGON International final.

To get to the final, Azarenka defeated 4th seed Agnieszka Radwanska, qualifier Heather Watson, 5th seed Kim Clijsters, and 8th seed Marion Bartoli. Makarova defeated 6th seed Flavia Pennetta, Nadia Petrova, wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova, and 3rd seed Sam Stosur.

This tournament featured an especially difficult draw, so both women had to knock out really good players to get to the final.

Friday cat blogging--wicker trunk edition

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Top seeds defeated in 's-Hertogenbosch doubles semifinals

Top seeds Hsieh Su-wei and Anabel Medina Garrigues were defeated 7-6, 6-7, 10-8 today in the Unicef Open semifinals by 3rd seeds Alla Kudryattseva and Anastasia Rodionova. In the other semifinal, 4th seeds Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova defeated Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci 6-3, 6-3.

In singles, top seed and wild card Justine Henin defeated Kristina Barrois, 5th seed Alexandra Dulgheru defeated Yaroslava Shvedova, Kirsten Flipkens defeated Dominika Cibulkova, and 7th seed Andrea Petkovic was victorious over qualifier Sandra Zahlavova. In the semifinals, Henin will play Dulgheru, and Flipkens will play Petkovic.

Wimbledon draw to be made tomorrow

Venus and Serena Williams--the Queen of Grass and the defending champion, repectively--will be on opposite sides of the draw that is produced tomorrow at the All England Club. The possibility of our seeing another all-Williams final is high, though there are a few players not named "Williams" who could break through to the final.

Missing from the draw will be the following players:
Peng Shuai (illness)
Sabine Lisicki (ankle injury)
Elena Dementieva (calf injury)
Virginie Razzano (hip injury)
Carla Suarez Navarro (ankle injury)

Lisicki was a quarterfinalist last year, and Dementieva was a semifinalist. Razzano was in the round of 16.

Qualifying has concluded, and these are the twelve qualifiers:

Kaia Kanepi
Nuria Llagostera Vives
Romina Sarina Oprandi
Bethanie Mattek-Sands
Shenay Perry
Anastaiya Yakimova
Greta Arn
Mirjana Lucic
Kurumi Nara
Monica Niculescu
Andrea Hlavackova
Eleni Daniilidou

Makarova knocks out Kuznetsova, advances to Eastbourne semifinals

Qualifier Ekaterina Makarova, having already taken out 6th seed Flavia Pennetta and Nadia Petrova in Eastbourne, continued her surprise run today by defeating wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 7-5. Makarova is ranked number 100 in the world.

8th seed Marion Bartoli and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez played for over two hours and 50 minutes, producing only four breaks of serve. Martinez Sanchez hit an impressive fifteen aces, but the 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 victory went to Bartoli.

Wild card Elena Baltacha took 3rd seed Sam Stosur to three sets, with Stosur winning, 6-7, 6-1, 6-0. Stosur also hit fifteen aces.

Finally, Victoria Azarenka upset 5th seed Kim Clijsters, 7-6, 6-4. Azarenka played with tape beneath both of her knees, and appeared to experience some pain during one point in the match. Azarenka has struggled for some time with problems with her knees and her thigh.

In the semifinals, Makarova will play Stosur, and Bartoli will play Azarenka.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Here is an interview with Heather Watson, who won her first main draw match this week.

Sabine Lisicki says that she will return to the tour in Portoroz in July.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands is helping the Nashville flood relief effort.

Martina Hingis says she is undecided about returning to the tour as a doubles player.

Paul Vergara analyzes the on-going debate about Caroline Wozniacki.

Here are the Nike dresses that Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams and Li Na will wear at Wimbledon.

Kuznetsova sqeaks into Eastbourne quarterfinals

Wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova had to save a match point in her 2 and a 1/2-hour contest against Sorana Cirstea today in Eastbourne. She emerged victorious, with a 4-6, 7-6, 7-6 score.

Not so lucky was Aravane Rezai, who had to retire against Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez; Rezai sustained an injury to her right wrist.

Qualifier Ekaterina Makarova, who upset Flavia Pennetta in the first round, took out Nadia Petrova, 6-2, 6-0, today. And wild card Elena Baltacha defeated Zheng Jie 6-2, 1-6, 6-3.

The draw in Eastburne is an especially tough one. Daniela Hantuchova went out today in the second round, defeated by Sam Stosur, and Lucie Safarova won one game against Kim Clijsters. Also, Heather Watson's run came to and end; she won only two games against Victoria Azarenka.

Quote of the day

...what has your typical day at Bolletieri's been like?
"I'd wake up at 7.30. My mum and I live right next to the Academy, so I'd just jump over the wall."
Heather Watson

Wimbledon qualifying--day 2

After day 2 of qualifying at Wimbledon, those advancing to the next round include Michaella Krajicek, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Nuria Llagostera Vives, and top qualifying seed Kaia Kanepi.

There were some significant defeats today, too. 6th seed Simona Halep lost to Anastasiya Yakimova, 5th seed Zhang Shuai lost to Severine Beltrame, and Tamira Paszek lost to Kurumi Nara. Also, Julie Ditty defeated Jelena Dokic 5-7, 7-5, 6-2.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dokic survives 1st day of Wimbledon qualifying

Jelena Dokic won her first round of qualifying for the main draw of Wimbledon today, defeating Melanie Klaffner. Others who advanced in qualifying include Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Michaella Krajicek, Simona Halep, Zhang Shuai, and Tamira Paszek. 2nd qualifying seed Johanna Jenny Larsson was defeated by Sesil Karatantcheva.

Kirilenko retires in 's-Hertogenbosch

3rd seed Maria Kirilenko sustained an abdominal injury today at the Unicef Open, forcing her to retire against Kirsten Flipkens in the second set of their second round match.

7th seed Andrea Petkovic defeated Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 6-7, 6-1, and qualifier Sandra Zahlavova (aren't we seeing her name a lot these days?) defeated Magdalena Rybarikova 7-6, 4-6, 6-2.

Defending champion Wozniacki out of Eastbourne in 1st round

No one has spoiled more good times lately than Aravane Rezai, and today, she took away defending champion Caroline Wozniacki's hope of defending her title in Eastbourne.

A contest between top seed Wozniacki and Rezai is a study of contrasts: The former is considered by many to have too defensive a game, without a plan B; the latter is considered by many to have too aggressive a game, without a plan B. Today, the aggression overpowered, and Rezai walked away with a 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 victory. Playing in very windy condtions, she also hit ten aces, a feat which does not win a match (ask Lucie Hradecka)--but it doesn't hurt, either.

Rezai is a very high-risk player--too high-risk, to be exact--but to call her a "ball basher," as some fans do, is to fail to take into account the Frenchwoman's ability to establish and control the rhythm of a match. Even I like watching her, and I'm the kind of fan who prefers to sit for hours and watch the likes of Evonne Goolagong or Martina Hingis. Of course, part of Rezai's attraction is her huge on-court personality, which helps her maintain notable intensity for long periods of time.

Of interest: 2010 French Open champion and surprise 2009 Wimbledon quarterfinalist Francesca Schiavone was also eliminated in the first round today. Sorana Cirstea defeated the 2nd seed 7-5, 6-3.

4th seed Agnieszka Radwanska went out, too, defeated 7-6, 6-1 by Victoria Azarenka. And qualifier Ekaterina Makarova upset 6th seed Flavia Pennetta 7-5, 6-1.

Speaking of qualifiers, Heather Watson defeated Aleksandra Wozniak--also a qualifier--6-3, 6-2. This was Watson's first main draw victory.

7th seed and Birmingham champion Li Na retired today with a left thigh injury; one hopes this isn't a sign of bad things to come.

Wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova won her first round match against Alisa Kleybanova, seed 5th Kim Clijsters ran over Yanina Wickmayer, 6-1, 6-1, and Zheng Jie defeated Shahar Peer.

Dementieva withdraws from Wimbledon

The rumor was swirlling yesterday, but I wanted to wait until I had absolute confirmation to announce it: Elena Dementieva, because of her calf injury, has withdrawn from the Wimbledon Championships. Dementieva, a semifinalist last year, had been seeded 5th for the 2010 tournament.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Defending champion out in 1st round of Unicef Open

Tammy Tanasugarn, the two-time defending champion in 's-Hertogenbosch, was defeated 1-6, 7-6, 6-3 in the first round today by qualifier Anastasia Rodionova. The brief grass season is generally the time when Tanasugarn has her best results.

6th seed Sara Errani and 8th seed Anabel Medina Garrigues were both upset in the first round, and top seed and wild card Justine Henin advanced to the second round with a win over Angelique Kerber.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Billie Jean King says that Martina Hingis may return to the tour as a doubles player next year. Hingis is playing a full World Team Tennis season this summer.

Virginie Razzano has withdrawn from Wimbledon, citing an injured left foot, as well as a right thigh tear brought about by the foot injury. Razzano says that all the trouble started with a massage given to her by a tour trainer. The massage, which she said was painful, led to edema, and then matters became worse. Razzano has begun proceedings against the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, and is reportedly seeking damages.

Not to be missed: WTA Backspin's 2010 Clay Court Awards

Dinara Safina has lost her fifth match in row, going out in the first round in s'Hertogenbosch to Magdalena Rybarikova. Rybarikova won the match 6-7, 6-4, 6-4  on her sixth match point. Safina was seeded 2nd.

Eastbourne defending champion Caroline Wozniacki plays Aravane Rezai in the first round of the tournament this week.

Li defeats Sharapova to win Birmingham

Maria Sharapova's pre-Wimbledon run was stopped short today in the AEGON Classic final by top seed Li Na, who defeated Sharapova 7-5, 6-1. Sharapova was trying for a fourth Birmingham championship.

The doubles final has been delayed by rain, with the team of Cara Black and Lisa Raymond leading Liezel Huber and Bethanie Mattek-Sands by a set.

Update: There appears to have been a retirement because of the left knee injury of either Huber or Mattek-Sands, so 2nd-seeded Black and Raymond are the champions, defeating the top seeds 6-3, 3-2.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Li and Sharapova to meet in Birmingham final

Alison Riske's great Birmingham run came to an end today when she was defeated 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 by 2nd seed Maria Sharapova. Top seed (and wild card) Li Na defeated Aravane Rezai 6-1, 3-6, 6-3. Sharapova has won the tournament three times; Li was a finalist last year, losing to Magdalena Rybarikova.

In her semifinal match, Sharapova had service win percentages of 84 and 58, and she hit 12 aces.

Riske, playing in her first main draw, defeated 3rd seed Yanina Wickmayer in the quarterfinals.

In doubles, the team of Cara Black and Lisa Raymond defeated Nathalie Grandin and Abigail Spears 6-4, 6-4. Black and Raymond are seeded second. The other semifnal was won by Liezel Huber and Bethanie Mattek-Sands. They defeated Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova 6-4, 6-0.

Friday, June 11, 2010

3 more Wimbledon wild cards announced

Another three main draw Wimbledon wild cards were announced today. In addition to already-announced British players Katie O'Brien, Melanie South, Laura Robson, and Heather Watson, the latest players to get wild  cards are Chenelle Scheepers, Alison Riske and Noppowan Lertcheewakarn. There is one more wild card to be announced.

Here are the players who have received wild cards for the qualifying competition:

Anna Smith
Naomi Broady
Tamira Paszek
Lisa Whybourn
Emily Webley-Smith
Jocelyn Rae
Marina Erakovic
Lucy Brown

Friday cat blogging--rug-posing edition

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Riske advances to quarterfinals in Birmingham

Before she came to Birmingham, Alison Riske had never won a match in a Sony Ericsson WTA Tour main draw. As of today, with her defeat of Anna Chakvetadze, Riske has advanced into the quarterfinals of the AEGON Classic in Birmingham. Riske, a qualifier, upset 9th seed Aleksandra Wozniak yesterday, and today, she defeated Chakvetadze 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 in the third round.

Riske's next opponent will be 3rd seed Yanina Wickmayer, who defeated Tammy Tanasugarn today.

Defending champion Magdalena Rybarikova, seeded 10th at the tournament, was upset today in the third round by qualifier Sesil Karatantcheva. Karatantcheva's 6-2, 6-7, 6-2 victory books her a spot against three-time Birmingham champion Maria Sharapova in the quarterfinals.

Quote of the week

"She showed desire, passion, heart, and class....And I also liked what she had to say afterward--that she had limitless energy and that she exceeded even her own limits. From now on, she's going to be the image of our World Cup."
Italian coach Marcell Lippi, speaking of Francesca Schiavone


Longines Future Tennis Aces Tournament, which featured 16 12-and-under players, was held at Roland Garros during the French Open. The winner of the girls' competition was Aleksandra Pospelova of Russia. The USA's Lauren Fishbein made it to the semifinals (and is shown in the photo with her tennnis idol, Serena Williams). Pospelova also played in a mixed doubles match with partner Gustavo Kuerten. Longines is the official timekeeper of the French Open.

Amelie Mauresmo has been added to Michael Llodra's team as an advisor during the grass court season.

Chris Evert will be inducted into the Rogers Cup Hall of Fame on August 16.

Anastasia Rodionova recently did a fashion shoot for Muze. (And I don't usually pass on this type of information, but it's being talked about, and--considering the players--I thought it was too funny not to mention that Rodionova and Aravane Rezai, who played each other in Birmingham, may be the first pair of players on the tour to get into it with each other--and with the umpire--during the warmup.)

Sania Mirza says she never said she would retire in two years. She says her remarks were misinterpreted by the press. Imagine that.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Shvedova upset in Birmingham

6th seed Yaroslava Shvedova lost her second round match today at the AEGON Classic in Birmingham. She was defeated 6-4, 6-4 by qualifier Sesil Karatantcheva. Also going out in the second round were 8th seed Andrea Petkovic and 16th seed Vania King.

In the first round, 12th seed Elena Baltacha retired with a g.i. illness. Baltacha suffered heat illness last week in Nottingham, where she won the tournament and had to play her quarterfinal and semifinal matches on the same day; she has been feeling a bit weak ever since.

It rained again today in Birmingham, and several matches had to be suspended.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Wimbledon is less than 2 weeks away

The transition from clay to grass always feels so abrupt to me, possibly because I am so attached to the French Open and enjoying savoring everything about it. But Wimbledon activities are already underway:

The wild card playoffs at the All England Lawn Tennis Club were completed yesterday, and today, the four British wild cards were named. Qualifying begins on Monday, June 14, and ends on Thursday, June 17. The seeds is announced on Wednesday, June 16, and the draw takes place on Friday, June 18. Play begins on Monday, June 21.

An addition to the mixed doubles draw this year will be the team of Lindsay Davenport and Bob Bryan (via On the Baseline).

Rain delays most of Birmingham 2nd day play

It rained on and off in Birmingham today--mostly on--so few matches were completed. Ayumi Morita, 9th seed Aleksandra Wozniak and 16th seed Vania King defeated Maria Elena Camerin, Alicia Molik and Kirsten Flipkens, respectively. King defeated Flipkens 6-4, 6-0.

Wozniak's next opponent will be Alison Riske, who won her first-ever main draw match in the first round.

A (mostly) good read about Schiavone

I rarely read anything on Sports Illustrated's website because I'm not too interested in a sports publication that runs a swimsuit issue. However, a search engine took me to an interesting editorial by Bruce Jenkins, who talks about both the artistry and emotion of our new French Open champion, Francesca Schiavone. Jenkins makes a case (and I couldn't agree more) that Schiavone's victory should be remembered as a great moment in women's tennis.

There is an odd quotation in the editorial, from Ted Robinson, who said "I had always watched Schiavone, but I'd never met her, and I thought her kind of a dour presence." Which Francesca Schiavone has he been watching all these years? Certainly not the one I've been watching.

A better quotation is one that comes directly from Jenkins: "The WTA's marketing people may have been visiting the shrimp tray, but a lot of important people noticed."

He goes on to say: "Maybe I'm well past the corner of Reasonable and Cash Cow, but I would market the hell out of Francesca Schiavone. You hear so much talk about how young girls had better make it big in tennis by the time they're 16, or it's all over, and it's complete nonsense. This was a victory for maturity, reaching the heights of glory at your physical peak"

Well said.

Not so well said, however, was Jenkins' use of that tired noun "tomboy" to describe Schiavone as a child, not to mention the use of "mannish" to describe her game. An athletic female child is not "like a boy"--she's just an active, athletic girl. And a game of strength and variety is not the game of a man--it's the game of someone like Schiavone.


Sania Mirza says she will retire in two years so that she can concentrate on family life. Stay tuned because--you know--it's Sania Mirza.

Anne Keothavong has had to give up rock climbing and bouldering because of her knee injuries.

I became so involved in blogging about the French Open that I didn't get around to blogging about the University of Southern California's Center for Feminist Research report on media coverage of women's sports. The news is even worse than it was five years ago, except that there has been a decline in blatantly sexist remarks made by the sports media. The study also confrims somthing we already knew--that women athletes tend to get decent coverage when something "controversial" occurs in an athletic event (the controversial behavior or action, of course, is often something that would get no attention at all if men did it).

As of this week, Francesca Schiavone, the 2010 French Open champion, is ranked number 6 in the world. This is the highest ranking ever achieved by an Italian woman. Flavia Pennetta, the first Italian woman to ever rank in the top 10, has returned to that list, with a current ranking of 10. There is now only one Russian, Elena Dementieva, in the top 10.

Elena Baltacha is blogging from Birmingham.

Peng Shuai withdrew from the French Open because of illness; she has now withdrawn from Wimbledon.