Monday, September 2, 2013

Veterans--3, Upstarts--0

I went to work today. I know, in the U.S., it's Labor Day, but I went to work. And just when I thought I would miss watching matches, the rain came. Unfortunately, it kept coming--hard--during my long break. In the end, I didn't get to see that much. The match I saw the most of, however, was the one I most wanted to see--Simona Halep vs. Flavia Pennetta. What I saw was Halep minus the confidence, rushing through points and making errors. It didn't help that the rain delay began right when Halep was at set point in the second set.

As for Pennetta, well--seems like old times. The Italian veteran likes the U.S. Open and has a good U.S. Open history. Now she's again into the quarterfinals, and will play countrywoman (but of course) Roberta Vinci.

Pennetta beat Halep 6-2, 7-6. Vinci beat (countrywoman) Camila Giorgi 6-4, 6-2. The match between Victoria Azarenka and Ana Ivanovic, scheduled for tonight, has been postponed until tomorrow. In the meantime, Alison Riske took Daniela Hantuchova to three sets, but Hantuchova prevailed, 6-3, 5-7, 6-2. She also hit 15 aces.

Here is the quarterfinal draw:

Serena Williams (1) vs. Carla Suarez Navarro (18)
Ekaterina Makarova (24) vs. Li Na (5)
Roberta Vinci (10) vs. Flavia Pennetta
Daniela Hantuchova vs. either Ana Ivanovic (13) or Victoria Azarenka (2)

I'll watch them all, but I'm looking especially forward to the Makarova-Li match and the all-Italian match. So many Italians, so few rounds left!

For several weeks now, the commentators on ESPN have been irritating me beyond tolerance with their re-invention of tennis's markers of highest achievement, in their attempt to give the Bryan Brothers glory. They are now referring to the Grand Slam as the "Calendar Slam," implying that there's more than one way to win really big. And while I'm glad to recognize what we call a Career Slam (winning all four majors at some point in one's career), a Grand Slam is a Grand Slam, and that's it. You have to win all four majors in the same year.

This nonsense started when Serena Williams dubbed her four-in-a-row the Serena Slam. It had a nice ring to it, yes, but it was the beginning of the chiseling away at what is a truly outstanding accomplishment--winning the Grand Slam. If the Bryan brothers do win the Grand Slam, that would be very big indeed, but anything else is just number of majors-in-a-row. A very great accomplishment, but not a Grand Slam.

Over at the LPGA, they have an interesting problem because a fifth major has been added to the calendar. So there is discussion about whether the Grand Slam should remain the way it is--winning four majors in a calendar year (with winning all five to be called the Super Slam), or whether it should be winning all five.

That's a legitimate argument, and a tricky one. But calling a Grand Slam a Calendar Slam to make winning consecutive majors in different years "Another Slam" is an insult to those few players who did win the Grand Slam. ESPN has even gone so far as to say that the Bryans have won the Golden Slam, which they have not. They have won a Career Slam, plus an Olympic gold medal, and they even held all four major titles at once. That is a really big accomplishment. However, the only tennis entity to ever actually win the Golden Slam was Steffi Graf.


svente said...

You're right.

There is no more I should say, but I will! Ha!

I 100% agree with you - a grand slam and/or a golden slam is A Thing. A Thing that cannot be another thing. The "Serena Slam" was cute. But even she does not say it's in any way the same as a Grand Slam. Much less a Golden Slam.

Winning one major, multiples of one major(s) or a career slam(s) is such a huge accomplishment! Let's distinguish the truly remarkable (didn't know that about Graf! Thanks for the info!) while we recognize the magnificent.

I think it actually takes away rather than adds to the legacy of a player or a team when media try to make something bigger out of something pretty darned big in and of itself.

Todd.Spiker said...

Actually, I think what started all this was the "Tiger Slam" in men's golf in 2000-01 when Woods won four straight over two seasons. But everyone wanted to give it significance, so that moniker was born and popularized through the internet, ESPN and the like. So, when Serena started off on her similar four-in-a-row streak it was an easy jumping-off point.

Now people are sort of addicted to doing it, I think. Sort of how people still like to attach "-gate" to every American scandal since Watergate, even though it really makes no sense.

Of course, one big culprit here is that when people actually talk (out loud) about the sport it's sort of difficult for them to imply capitalization of letters, so confusion is sort of inherent. ;)

As for me, I'm partial to the MartinaOneAndAHalf Slam" when Navratilova won six straight. :D

Diane said...

Yes, Tiger W., of course. I just meant Serena, with regard to tennis. But you're right, Todd. But I'm not letting the commentators off the hook; they know better than to say Golden Slam when there is no Golden Slam under consideration. This has been going on repeatedly for weeks, and let's just say I can't imagine their making the same mistake if they were talking about Paya and Soares or Granollers and Lopez.

Svente, another Graf fact: The year after she won the Golden Slam, she had to withdraw from the French Open because of injury. Had she played in it and won (a very likely probability), she would have won the Grand Slam yet again.

Eric said...

i agree and disagree with you Diane.

I agree with you in that the definition of a Grand Slam is to win all four majors in a calendar year.

however, where i disagree with you is that i think that winning four in a row is an equal accomplishment whether it's in the same calendar year or not since technically it is still an athlete's performance during a 365 day span. it's just that the year starts at a different time. it's definitely neater to win four in the same calendar year...but to me, if someone wins four in a row in a 365 day span, it's the same accomplishment...

and using that definition, I don't think that the Bryan's have won a Golden Slam because they didn't win Olympic gold and 4 slams in 365 days. They won Gold...and then won 4 Slams.

(Thinking about it...they may have won all five events in 365 days...i would have to check the calendar to be sure...)

am I banned from the blog now?



btw, I'm glad that tennis isn't considering adding another grand slam. call me a traditionalist, but i feel like it would skew the records and "greatness" of an athlete's accomplishment by adding another opportunity to "win big"

weird how i'm traditionlist about some things and so lax on others (like grand slams lol)


also, i liked how you said "tennis entity"

Diane said...

I totally respect your opinion, Eric--always. And maybe some day the definition of Grand Slam will be changed to mean winning 4 in a row. Personally, I hope that doesn't happen.

Ha! I'm the same way--totally insisting on tradition in some areas and not caring in others.

"Entity" was all I could think of--glad it worked.

Penny said...

Small correction - Graf was runner-up to Sanchez Vicario at the French Open in 1989. Graf won the other 1989 slam events.

I'm a bit ambivalent about the calendar versus non-calendar year grand slam.

Navratilova's 6 in a row tends to be considered inferior to (say) Graf's achievement of 5 in a row. From memory Navratilova was winning consecutive doubles slam tournaments as well.

In the 1970s and 1980s the Australian Open got shunted around the calendar as it flip flopped between January, December, and back to January. In calendar year 1986 there was no Australian Open at all!

Using a date to determine the height of excellence just seems so arbitrary.

Diane said...

Thanks for the correction Penny. And sorry, Svente--that's what I get for relying on my memory.

You bring up a good point about the non-existence of the Australian Open in certain years. That was a long time ago, though, and the calendar year schedule has been stable ever since.

However, going back in history to determine who and who didn't win a Grand Slam has certainly been messed up by the Australian date shifts during those times.

That's why I don't like all the talk about "X won more majors than Y." USA players didn't even go tot he AO when it was held during Christmas (it wasn't considered important enough). And Chris Evert played WTT for three years during the French Open, of all places! Then there's the Rod Laver story.

So point taken :)

Diane said...

Regarding the Bryan Brothers--Tennis Channel is doing it, too. No surprise.

Karen said...

Diane, it all started when they decided to induct Michael Chang into the Hall of Fame. I don't think Serena calling her achievement in 2003 the Serena Slam has anything to do with this whole thing about Slams etc. FWIW I still call them Majors and when you win all 4 in a calendar year, it is called a Grand Slam. That is how I think of it and will forever think of it and I agree the only person with a true Slam is Graf with her Golden Slam

Diane said...

To clarify, do you mean that the lowering of standards began when Michael C. was inducted into the hof? I think that's what you mean, yes?

Are there any viable criteria for grtting into the hof? I don't think I've ever seen any.

sunny nine said...

We have considered the use of the phrase "straight slam" to use for 4 majors in a row, NOT in the calendar year.

Like you Diane, I think that the term Grand Slam should NOT have to be explained but mean 4 majors in the calendar year.

To that end, I don't even think an individual event (eg. us open) should be called a grand slam, such as "so-so won her first grand slam". The four events are Majors. Again, a grand slam is just the 4 Majors in a year combined. It came from baseball where you "slam" one ball and get 4 runs.

I am not letting ESPN or whatever off the hook but I think they are explaining the idea of a calendar grand slam to people who don't know about the difference. Of course they could explain the proper use of the word just as easily. They didn't use to say it about Rod Laver or Steffi Graff.

Also, often people say that a person "holds all 4 titles" rather than say anything about a grand slam that is not in the calendar year.

Diane said...

Yes, the four tournaments are indeed majors. And thanks for bringing up the baseball origin, Sunny. I knew a slam in baseball before I ever watched. tennis match!

Eric said...

I like "straight slam" provides a distinction...but then grand slam should be "calendar slam"...

i didn't understand the point about michael chang...i mean i understand...but now how it relates to the grand slam vs. straight slam discussion...

Karen - good to hear from you!! both on backspin and here :)