Thursday, July 31, 2008

Who will win the Rogers Cup?

With the demise of the Acura Classic in San Diego (I know--I hate it, too), the Rogers Cup has taken on even more significance, since it is now the only Tier I tournament in the 2008 U.S. Open Series. One of eight women will win it on Sunday.

Jelena Jankovic: Will she win the title like we know she can, or will her knee (or her back, or her stomach...) betray her and cause her to limp around the court again?

Dinara Safina: Will she seal her spot as the "it" player of the season by winning another U.S. Open Series contest?

Svetlana Kuznetsova: Will the eternal Russian head case be able to forget where she is and just play her superb, athletically dazzling game?

Marion Bartoli: If her serve is on and her body is healthy (see "Jankovic"), she could regain some respect.

Ai Sugiyama: The former top 10 standout has suddenly returned--if not to the top--to the elite section of draws. Can she win another one?

Victoria Azarenka: She gets into finals but doesn't win them. Will her fortunes change in Montreal?

Dominika Cibulkova: We knew she was good on clay, and now she's showing us she is just as good on hard courts. She has to get past Jankovic first, though.

Tamira Paszek: She has had a very disappointing season, but the breakthrough seems to be in progress.

Paszek takes Ivanovic out of Montreal

Tamira Paszek has not had a good season, and has plummeted in the rankings, but this week, she has reminded us of her potential. She began her Rogers Cup competition by defeating 14th seed Francesca Schiavone, and tonight, she defeated world number 1 Ana Ivanovic, who played with an injured thumb. The relentless young baseline player, unlike many players her age, sticks it out to the bitter end, as she dramatically demonstrated in the first round of the Australian Open, when she lost to Jelena Jankovic after over three hours of play. Paszek def. Ivanovic, 6-2, 1-6, 6-2

The contest that really dragged on--for just over three hours--was one of contrasting styles, when 10th seeded Marion Bartoli, played number 6 seed Anna Chakvetadze. I did not get to see this match (in which Bartoli saved three match points), but I saw their last one, and it was fun to watch such a wide variety of shots and strategies being executed in one match. Bartoli def. Chakvetadze, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6

Michelle Larcher de Brito is gone, but not after putting up a big fight against Svetlana Kuznetsova. In yet another close match, Kuznetsova prevailed, 7-5, 2-6, 6-4. Larcher de Brito, however, appears to have finally made her mark in a meaningful way.

There was also a third upset: Dominika Cibulkova defeated number 12 seed Nadia Petrova, 7-6, 6-2.

In other Rogers Cup news, Jelena Jankovic defeated Stephanie Dubois, Dinara Safina defeated Patty Schnyder, and Virginie Razzano retired against Victoria Azarenka; I don't know the reason for the retirement.

(Friday update: Razzano retired because of a thigh injury.)

Sharapova out of Olympics

Maria Sharapova's doctors have found two small tears in the tendons of her shoulders. She sounds somewhat relieved to learn that it isn't a nerve problem, and she is on her way to New York for a second opinion. However, she has definitely ruled out playing in the Olympics.

Here's hoping Maria gets better soon, and that she finds a way to avoid all this shoulder damage.

Sharapova withdraws from Rogers Cup

This is, sadly, no surprise. Her third round opponent, Ai Sugiyama, gets a walkover.

Jankovic and Ivanovic qualify for Sony Ericsson Championships

Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic, the leaders in the Sony Ericsson WTA Race for the Championships, have both secured spots in that event, which will be held in November in Doha (it would be a good idea if the tour site got rid of its ticket promotion page for the 2006 championsips in Madrid). Six more players will get invitations to play in the round-robin event, and the top four doubles teams of the year will also compete.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Not her fault

In her Rogers Cup match against Maria Sharapova tonight, Marta Domachowska served 13 double faults. But wait--Sharapova served 17. The match was not on television here, so I have no idea what was wrong with Domachowska, but Sharapova's problem is no puzzle--it is her now chronically bad shoulder. In addition to having problems with her serve because of the injury, Sharapova also suffers from bouts of bursitis.

The world number 3 always sounds positive when she talks about her shoulder problem, but it is obvious that something is quite wrong. I hope she does whatever she needs to do to make things better; I hope there is something that can be done.

Shvedova wins WTT Rookie of the Year award

Yaroslava Shvedova has been named the 2008 World Team Tennis female Rookie of the Year. Shvedova plays for the New York Buzz, who won the 2008 season championship over the weekend. Shvedova, who is ranked number 132 in the world in singles and number 55 in doubles, won the Canara Bank Bangalore Open in 2007.

New York Buzz win World Team Tennis championship, Stubbs is named MVP

Rennae Stubbs was named WTT Championship Weekend's Most Valuable Player

The New York Buzz has won its first World Team Tennis championship, defeating the Kansas City Explorers, 21-18 in the weekend's season championship event. The Buzz is a 14-year-old team that has reached the championship final three other times.

Rennae Stubbs, Kveta Peschke and Yaroslava Shvedova play for the New York Buzz. Stubbs was chosen as Championship Weekend's Most Valuable Player. Stubbs had the highest winning percentage of any player in the semifinals and finals.

Dubois takes out 13th seed Kirilenko in Montreal

Anyone who watched Stephanie Dubois play at the Rogers Cup today had to be asking "Why is this woman ranked only 122 in the world?" The short answer is that she chokes. But not today. I saw the first two sets of this very fine match, then had to go to work just as the third set began. At that point, I really had no idea who would win, but history favored Dubois's opponent, Maria Kirilenko.

First, a few words about Kirilenko: She is having a very good season, which pleases me because I thoroughly enjoy watching her play tennis. Kirilenko employs the court the same way Martina Hingis and Anna Chakvetadze and other more cerebral players do. She works it, angle by angle, and watches, and waits. Her first set against Dubois was far better than the scoreline indicates, just as Dubois's second set was far better than the scoreline indicates. The games were long and drawn-out; the chair umpire must have grown weary of saying "deuce."

What happened after that is probably not what was expected. Not only is Dubois prone to choking, but how many times have we seen lower-ranked hometown players clean up in the first set and then fade away against more experienced opponents? Today, though (if only I had seen it!), Dubois prevailed, in a third set tiebreak, no less, which she won 7-4. This could be the breakthrough that Dubois needs for building her confidence. Her highest-ever ranking was 95, but she can do better.

Dubois def. Kirilenko, 6-2, 2-6, 7-6

Larcher de Brito reaches the third round

Michelle Larcher de Brito has reached her second Tier I quarterfinal round, after defeating Flavia Pennetta, 6-3, 0-6, 6-3 in Montreal today. I could not watch the match, so I don't know whether Pennetta's blister played a role, but regardless, the real news is that Larcher de Brito has advanced to a third round in another big event.

The Portuguese player has a 9-9 win-loss record for this season, and is ranked number 169 in the world. If that doesn't impress you, please bear in mind that she is 15 years old, and did not enter the rankings until the end of September last year. Earlier this year, she defeated Agnieszka Radwanska in the second round of the Sony Ericsson Open, and she took Serena Williams to three sets in Stanford earlier this month.

Szavay defeated in Stockholm

Agnes Szavay's shaky season just got shakier, as Vera Dushevina defeated her, 6-4, 7-6 at the Nordea Nordic Light Open. Szavay was the tournament's number 2 seed.

Collins recovering from foot surgery

Bud Collins, who worked both the French Open and Wimbledon while he was in considerable pain, has had successful surgery to close an ulcer on his right ankle. Best wishes to Bud!

New tour rules explained

For those who are late in digesting the so-called "road map" (I know--its so original) for the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, which begins next year, here is a capsule explanation.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Add Kudryavtseva to the injury list

Alla Kudryavtseva had to retire in Montreal today during her match with Svetlana Kuznetsova. She has some type of shoulder injury, which I hope is not serious. More Alla!

Dementieva upset in Montreal

Dominika Cibulkova signs autographs

5th seed Elena Dementieva lost her second round Rogers Cup match tonight to Dominika Cibulkova. Cibulkova defeated Dementieva 6-4, 6-2.

Cibulkova, who had already proven herself a worth clay court competitor, is doing well on hard courts this season. Apparently, she has not gotten the message that she is too short to play professional tennis.

Vaidisova falls to Sugiyama, and Domachowska has one of her good days

Number 16 seed Nicole Vaidisova, who is definitely not having a good season, became yet another victim of resurgent veteran Ai Sugiyama in Montreal today. The former top 10 player defeated Vaidisova, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.

Los Angeles semifinalist Bethanie Mattek lost to one of the most inconsistent players on the tour--Marta Domachowska. Domachowska has a lot of talent, but she can't seem to bring it to the court very often. She did today, though, defeating Mattek, 7-5, 6-2. Domachowska's next opponent will be none other than Maria Sharapova.

Vera Zvonareva, who had an excellent early season and looked as though she might make a big mark this year, has had problems lately. Today in Montreal, she was defeated by a player who appears to be on the upswing again--Virginie Razzano. Razzano had a great late 2007, but has not looked as good this year. Lately, however, she has shown signs of gaining momentum again. She won the match, 6-3, 1-6, 7-6.

Date-Krumm continues her campaign

Kimiko Date-Krumm, as I have written before, has no current plans to return to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, but instead, is playing small tournaments in Japan. She just won another one--a #25K challenger--in which she defeated talented junior Noppawan Lertcheewakarn, 6-1, 6-1.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Oudin wins her first ITF event

It's a good thing I read other tennis blogs or I wouldn't know what was going on. I just learned from reading Todd Spiker's WTA Backspin that former junior world number 1 (now number 3) Melanie Oudin just won her first ITF tournament. Oudin defeated Carly Gullickson in the final of a $50K event in Lexington, Kentucky.

In the same post, Todd pretty much sums up the riddle that is Jelena Jankovic. I quietly banged my head against the wall as I read it.

A fairly routine day in Montreal

If you don't count the rain, that is. It rained and it rained and it rained. Tamira Paszek and Francesca Schiavone are still engaged in a match that involved multiple rain delays. Schiavone was down 1-5 in the first set, but won a series of games and forced a tiebreak, which Paszek won. Schiavone won the second set, 6-1, and the final rain delay stopped the match in the third set, at 1-all. Schiavone, you will remember, took Paszek out of the first round at Wimbledon.

Paszek's current season has not been great like 2007 was. Last year, she reached the round of 16 at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, This year, she has made a lot of first round exits, but--in fairness--she has had some really tough draws. The Paszek highlight this year, of course, was her first round against Jelena Jankovic at the Australian Open, which lasted three hours and consisted of numerous breaks of serve and breaks of body.

In other news, Michelle Larcher de Brito won her first round match against Vania King, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Kanepi injured, then has non-related surgery

I miss Kaia Kanepi. She had to withdraw from some tournaments because of shin splints, and then she had to have her appendix removed, so she is recovering from that now. I hope she is back on the tour soon; she really adds something with her fighting spirit and her positive attitude on court. Kanepi is gifted, and it is a shame to see her undergo this type of interruption.

Karin Knapp is still out sick, also, and Edina Gallovits continues to suffer with an injured foot. Casey Dellacqua has something wrong with her shoulder, and Tatiana Golovin, of course, is still out because of her back.

Then there are the knee injuries: Alona Bondarenko, Michaella Krajicek, Jelena Jankovic, Sofia Arvidsson, Meghann Shaughnessy, and both Williams sisters have had recent or not-so-recent knee injuries. Shaugnessy was told she would be out for months, and the prognosis for both Bondarenko and Krajicek may not be so good, either. As for Jankovic--as people have pointed out on this blog--she is vulnerable to developing an injury because of compensating for her bad knee.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Safina victorious in Los Angeles

It was frustrating to watch Flavia Pennetta not be able to put pressure on her left foot because of her blister. Her serve, as one would expect, went to hell. I felt bad for her--it was her first Tier II final, and she had to play it injured.

On the other hand, it was delightful to watch Dinara Safina take calm control of the match and do almost everything right. I am a believer in this new Safina, who will soon be number 8 in the world. I just wish that she had played a healthy Pennetta, and--as much as I like Safina--I would have enjoyed an upset, too.

Safina is physically and mentally fit. I'm no longer worried about the mental part; if she remains physically healthy, she has nowhere to go but up.

Safina def. Pennetta, 6-4, 6-2

Chan and Chuang win East West Bank Classic

They were 2-6, 0-3 down, but Chan Yung-Jan and Chuang Chia-Jung rallied back to win this year's Los Angeles doubles title. They defeated Eva Hrdinova and Vladimira Uhlirova, 2-6, 7-5, 10-4.

This is the team's third title for 2008.

Larcher de Brito watch--into Rogers Cup main draw

Michelle Larcher de Brito had better luck in Montreal than she did in Los Angeles. Seeded 15th among qualifiers, she has made it into the main draw, defeating both wild card Katarena Paliivets and number 6 seed Olga Savchuk.

Errani wins Slovenian Open

It's a good week for Italy--Sara Errani just defeated Anabel Medina Garrigues, 6-3, 6-3, to win the Slovenian Open, and Flavia Pennetta has reached her first Tier II final.

Errani had a 76 first serve percentage, a 57 first serve win percentage, a 60 second serve win percentage, and no double faults. Wow.

The 8th seeded Errani, who is ranked number 56 in the world, won the Palermo title earlier this month, defeating Mariya Koryttseva in the final.

Sharapova trying to overcome problem with her arm

In her latest "Weekley Doodle" entry on her website, Maria Sharapova says she has been doing something she usually reserves for the off-season: tinkering for several hours a day with different racquet weights and string tensions. She says that ever since Indian Wells, "I haven't been able to get my arm up and close to my head without some sort of impingement and grinding...."

Sharapova reports that for the last week, she has been playing with a new Prince frame.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Safina to play in Los Angeles final

I expected top seed Jelena Jankovic's knee injury to prevent her from winning the East West Bank Classic, or perhaps from even getting to the final. I was right. This is not to say that a healthy Jankovic would have definitely defeated 4th seed Dinara Safina--only that there would have been an even playing field, so to speak. Jankovic's doctors told her to take six weeks off; she took ten days. When she felt no pain, she decided--against all wisdom--to go ahead and play.

Last year, we went through Jankovic's over-scheduling herself and wearing herself out. This year, we are going through the consequences of that. She is playing fewer tournaments, but she is not heeding medical advice. I am a really big Jankovic fan, and I am angry because I think she has let her fans down. If she had skipped the U.S. Open Series, her ranking would have gone down, and she would not have been that well-prepared for the U.S. Open, but she would probably be healthy. Now she may have really wrecked her knee, and who knows what the consequences will be?

Fortunately, I am also a Safina fan, and I am very pleased to see her go to the Los Angeles final, if JJ cannot. To complicate matters more, I am also a fan of Flavia Pennetta's. Obviously, Safina is favored to win, but if Pennetta keeps her head together, it could be a very good final.

Safina def. Jankovic, 7-6, 6-3

Medina Garrigues and Ruano Pascual win Slovenian Open

Top seeds Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual have won the Slovenian Open by defeating Vera Dushevina and Ekaterina Makarova, 6-4, 6-1. Ruano Pascual is a former world number 1 doubles player. Medina Garrigues is not finished: She plays Sara Errani tomorow for the singles title.

Pennetta reaches her first Tier II final

I really enjoy watching both Flavia Pennetta and Bethanie Mattek play, and I wasn't disappointed when I watched their East West Bank Classic semifinal today. Though both women had significant problems with their serve, they provided a very tasty buffet of tennis, with plenty of slices, lobs, down-the-lines, and sneaky drop shots. Pennetta had some trouble with a foot blister, but fought through it. It was a superb match, with a lot of momentum changes, but in the end, Pennetta figured out a way to win.

Pennetta, who is seeded number 10 in Los Angeles, has come close so many times, but has never before a reached a final at this level. She will face the winner of the Jelena Jankovic-Dinara Safina semifinal. Bravo!

Portoroz semifinals set

Anabel Medina Garrigues and Sara Errani will meet tomorrow for the Slovenian Open title. Medina Garrigues, the 4th seed, defeated Julia Goerges, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 in a tightly contested match. Number 8 seed Errani defeated Caroline Wozniacki, 6-4, 6-4. Wozniacki was seeded third.

Both Medina Garrigues and Errani are known as clay players. Medina Garrigues probably has more variety in her game, largely beause of her doubles experience; Errani tends to grind.

It's good to know...

That I can stop blogging about Jelena Jankovic's multiple injuries and illnesses. Corina Morariu just informed us all that Jankovic has stayed healthy every week of the season.

Los Angeles---not that much fun for me

Bethanie Mattek and Flavia Pennetta--two players I like a lot.

Dinara Safina and Jelena Jankovic--two players I like a lot.

The upside is that--no matter who wins what, I'll be glad.

Who is Julia Goerges, and why does she keep beating Katarina Srebotnik?

When Kararina Srebotnik lost in the first round at Wimbledon, I was surprised and disappointed, but not completely shocked. Grass is not exactly Srebotnik's surface, and her opponent was Julia Goerges, who has made a bit of a dent in the tour. Ranked 99 in the world (she has been ranked as high as 93), Goerges played only five tour events last year. She reached the semifinals at Stockholm, beating Maria Elena Camerin, Klara Zakopalova and Emelie Loit. She also beat Agnes Szavay in the first round in Doha, and won two ITS singles titles and two doubles titles.

This year, Goerges reached the quarterfinals in Memphis, defeating Bethanie Mattek along the way, and, of course, defeated Srebotnik in a 3-hour, 40-minute affair at Wimbledon. She has also failed to qualify on several occasions, and had some first round losses when she did qualify. The 19-year-old German is part of a triad of young German players--Sabine Lisicki and Angelique Kerber are the others--who are worth watching.

Just the other day, Goerges defeated Srebotnik again, this time at the Slovenian Open, her home tournament. In her Portoroz blog, Srebotnik said that--the day before their match--she ran into Goerges and joked that, at least in Portoroz, they would have a tiebreak in the third set. In her post-match blog entry, Srebotnik wrote that after she went up an early break at 3-0 in her match against Goerges, she felt confident, but from then on, Goerges played so well in every aspect that there was nothing she could do to stop her. Goerges won the match, 6-4, 6-2.

Goerges will have her work cut out for her in today's semifinal. She plays clay specialist Anabel Medina Garrigues, but Medina Garrigues can handle a hard court, and is generally a good strategist and willing to last a long time.

L.A. quarterfinals completed--Jankovic prevails

When it comes to off-court matters, agreeing with Pam Shriver is not something I do very often, but I completely agree with her that Jelena Jankovic is a fool to play in Los Angeles if her knee injury has not healed. But that is the story of Jankovic's recent career--get injured, but keep on playing, no matter the consequences. Her stunt at the Hopman Cup last year should have taught her something, but I don't know if it did.

Jankovic did take ten days off after she tore her meniscus, however, and that--plus her superb athleticism and court sense--was enough to gain her a spot in the semifinals. She defeated Nadia Petrova, 7-5, 6-4, and will now face a tough opponent in Dinara Safina. Here's hoping the knee is healed.

It was nice to see Jankovic in coral and scarlet--someone needs to tell both Shriver and Cliff Drysdale that her dress is not pink. (During the French Open, commentators from several countries held discussions about Roger Federer's black outfit, despite the fact that he did not wear black one day at Roland Garros.)

And as for accessories, is there anyone on the tour who isn't wearing a knee bandage of some kind?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Kirilenko out of Slovenian Open

Top seed Maria Kirilenko was eliminated from Slovenian Open competition today by Sara Errani. Errani, who is seeded 8th, won the match, 6-1, 7-5. She will play 3rd seed Caroline Wozniacki in the seminfinals, and number 4 seed Anabel Medina Garrigues will play Julia Goerges. Medina Garrigues defeated former world number 14 Elena Bovina.

Los Angeles quarterfinals feature a bit of everything

It wasn't pretty, but Flavia Pennetta found a way to win her quarterfinal match against Sybille Bammer. A clay specialist, Pennetta must have thought she was on clay during the first set--Bammer, too--they continually broke each other until a tiebreak was forced. At that point, Pennetta became aggressive and took control. But Bammer pulled herself together and took the second set. The heat was intense, and both players appeared to suffer from its effects. The third set was Pennetta's, however, as she again became aggressive and set the pace. Pennetta'a serve was broken seven times; Bammer's was broken eight times.

Dinara Safina had an easier time of it, practicing her new-found patience with Victoria Azarenka, and keeping a cool head, even after she double-faulted four times in a row in the second set. Azarenka took a medical time-out because of an abdominal strain, and it was hard to tell to what extent the injury hampered her because--throughout the match--it was quite obvious that her opponent's savvy hampered her.

Bethanie Mattek took her first set against Yuan Meng fairly easily, but was down 1-5 in the second. I did not get to see this match, but obviously, some switch turned on in Mattek, and the next thing I knew, it was 5-all, and then Mattek won the match.

Pennetta def. Bammer, 7-6, 3-6, 6-1
Safina def. Azarenka, 6-3, 6-1
Mattek def. Yuan, 6-2, 7-5

Road trip!

It can't be easy, coming up with something fresh every year to promote the U.S. Open Series. In fact, the presenters have, for the most part, given up producing something fresh, and--for the last couple of years--have gone with the same theme: A group of WTA and ATP players are on a bus, or outside a bus, talking about the "greatest road trip in sports." One of the promotional spots always includes some outtakes--you can't go wrong using outtakes. And this year's outtake version is one of my very favorites since the series began five years ago.

The spot begins with a flub by Maria Sharapova, and that is amusing, but the reason I watch it as much as I can is to see Anna Chakvetadze. This is Chakvetadze's only appearance in any of the ads, and it is hardly a conventional outtake. She is standing in front of the bus, looking deadly serious, and in that wonderful gutteral voice that belongs in a Josef von Sternberg film, she tells us, "I am on the grreat...rroad...trips..." It cracks me up every time I see it.

Friday cat blogging--night vigil edition

Roxie, Tarzan and Ziggy Stardust observe a dead insect under the refrigerator; Velma was part of the project, but got bored with it and left.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

More upsets in Los Angeles

Number 3 seed Anna Chakvetadze and number 5 seed Vera Zvonareva were defeated today in the third round of the East West Bank Classic in Los Angeles. 14th seed Sybille Bammer upset Chakvetadze, 6-4, 5-7, 6-2, and number 9 seed Nadia Petrova defeated Zvonareva, 6-4, 7-5.

4th seed Dinara Safina was taken to the edge by qualifier Alla Kudryavtseva. Safina had a major problem with her second serve, and did not win a single game in the second set. She also committed 12 double faults; Kudryavtseva committed 10. Safina saved a match point with an ace at 4-5, and won the tiebreak easily, 7-3 (she won the first tiebreak, 7-1).

The German Open and the French Open gave Safina a reputation for living on the edge, and tonight's win over Kudryavtseva does nothing to dispel that image. I did not get to see the match, but it appears that Safina was a just a complete mess--but figured out how to win the match under pressure. That is what really good players do, and though it is clear that Safina needs to clean things up and not turn every contest into a cliffhanger, she is nevertheless impressive. And so is Kudryavtseva.

Safina def. Kudryavtseva, 7-6, 0-6, 7-6

Srebotnik out of Slovenian Open

Katarina Srebotnik, number 2 seed and home favorite, was defeated today in the second round of the Slovenian Open by Julia Georges, 6-4, 6-2. Top seed Maria Kirilenko fared better, defeating Roberta Vinci, 6-1, 6-2.

Last year, Srebotnik reached the final, but was defeated by Tatiana Golovin.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

If you're going to cheat at tennis...

It's best to start at a young age.

I sometimes think I've heard all the stupid tennis ideas there are...

Like composite racquets and no-ad scoring--and then I hear this.

Schnyder and Vaidisova both out of L.A.

Yesterday, it was Daniela Hantuchova who was upset, by Olga Govortsova, in the second round of the East West Bank Classic. Today, Patty Schnyder and Nicole Vaidisova were also upset in the second round, by Ai Sugiyama and wild card Bethanie Mattek, respectively.

Meanwhile, the lucky losers have been more than lucky. Melinda Czink defeated Olga Savchuk (who defeated Gisela Dulko) in the second round, and Melanie South defeated the talented young Czech player, Petra Kvitova.

Flavia Pennetta has defeated Tamira Paszek, 2-6, 6-1, 6-4.

Sugiyama def. Schnyder, 6-4, 7-5
Mattek def. Vaidisova, 6-4, 6-0
Czink def. Savchuk, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4
South def. Kvitova, 6-4, 6-2

Golovin withdraws from Rogers Cup

This is not an unexpected occurrence. The question is: When will Tatiana Golovin be able to play again? She and Li Na and Meghann Shaughnessy have all had long injury layoffs, and poor Li's began not long after she returned from an extremely long injury layoff.

Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Svetalana Kuznetsova, and Lindsay Davenport all had to withdraw from the East West Bank Classic. Marion Bartoli injured her wrist in June and wasn't sure she would be at Wimbledon; now something is wrong with her hip. Jelena Jankovic has a knee injury.

Here we go again...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Safina and Safin to be teammates at Hopman Cup

Dinara Safina and her brother, ATP player Marat Safin, will comprise the Russian team at this year's Hopman Cup in Perth. They have never before competed together at the event. According to tournament director Paul McNamee, Safina had not considered herself good enough to play with her brother in years past, but with her enormous breakthrough this year, she now believes she will be a good partner for him.

Safin, who has won both the U.S. Open and the Australian Open, had his own breakthrough this summer, getting to the semifinals at Wimbledon after many had counted him out, career-wise. A huge talent on the court, Safin--like his sister--possesses just the right amount of madness. "You can destroy one racquet," he once said. "You can destroy a chair. But you can't destroy a racquet and a chair in the same match. There has to be a limit. Otherwise this is the tennis of a sick person."

Hopman Cup should be fun this year.

Serena Williams withdraws from Los Angeles

Because of her left knee injury, Serena Williams has withdrawn from the East West Bank Classic. She was replaced in the draw by Melanie South.

Meanwhile, Flavia Pennetta defeated Stanford champion Aleksandra Wozniak, 6-1, 6-0.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mauresmo confirms she will not play in Olympics

With Mary Pierce withdrawing from the French Olympic team, Amelie Mauresmo was expected to take the open slot, but she has refused, so Pauline Parmentier will be the new team member. Parmentier just won the Gastein Ladies in Bad Gastein.

Kuznetsova out of Los Angeles

Svetlana Kuznetsova has joined Lindsay Davenport and Venus Williams in withdrawing from the East West Bank Classic. Kuznetsova has a leg injury. Melina Czink has taken her place in the draw.

Thanks to On the Baseline for the news.

Slovenia qualifying: good news, bad news

The bad news is that top qualifying seed, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, has been knocked out in the final round of qualifying. The good news is that she was defeated by Elena Bovina.

It has been so long since we have seen Bovina where she belongs--in the top 20. Perhaps this will be a good tournament for her.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Note to Pam Shriver

Beige, brown and orange coordinate nicely together. Wozniak does not need to do her laundry, but you might consider stuffing a tennis sock in your mouth.

Black and Huber win Stanford

Cara Black and Liezel Huber, the world's number 1 doubles team, won the Bank of the West Classic today by defeating Elena Vesnina and Vera Zvonareva, 6-4, 6-3.

Wozniak wins Stanford

First, let me get all my disappointment out of the way: I was certain Marion Bartoli was going to win this tournament. She has been playing splendidly with really good serving. I was really excited for Bartoli, and then...another injury, this time her hip. When, oh when, will she stop this insane training regimen that has her on the court for two hours right before a match? I think that Bartoli's father/coach has helped her a lot, but I think that he has also harmed her. There is fitness and there is fitness, and what Bartoli has done in the fitness training area seems to have harmed her more than helped her.

It was hard for me to take a lot of pleasure in Wozniak's win, I was so disappointed, but objectively speaking, she had a wonderful, if somewhat strange, tournament. In qualifying, she defeated Angela Haynes, Ayumi Morita and Samantha Stosur. Once she got into the main draw, she defeated Francesca Schiavone, Sybille Bammer, Stosur (who, by this time, had become a lucky loser), Serena Williams, and Marion Bartoli. The last two wins involved injured opponents; Williams' injury was so bad, in fact, that she had to retire (as opposed to her "slightly injured" state described by Cliff Drysdale).

But, injured opponents or not, Wozniak played beautifully, hitting stinging groundstrokes and keeping her cool throughout. It would have been a nicer win for her if both Williams and Bartoli had been healthlier, but fitness is part of tennis, too.

So, on July 20, your 2008 U.S. Open Series leader is number 85 in the world (but not for long), Aleksandra Wozniak. Well done.

This and that

Jelena Dokic has won a $25,000 challenger in Darmstadt, Germany, by defeating her opponent 6-0, 6-0. (I will never get used to saying the words "Dokic" and "challenger" in the same sentence.)

Kimiko Date-Krumm has won another $25,000 challenger in Japan. Date-Krumm's comeback plan is to play (and win!) challengers and enjoy herself. As of this time, she has no plans to return to the tour.

According to Ana Ivanovic, Gael Monfils is the best dancer among all pro tennis players.

Martina Navratilova's new website design is a definite improvement--very nice.

Citizen Eco-Drive is no longer airing its Nicole Vaidisova commercial spot.

Those who deal in betting give good odds that Laura Robson will win Wimbledon before she is 20, but 2/3 of those voting in the Eurosport poll say she will not ever win it.

Steve Murray gets it right in Tennis Week

At least this part:

Is it possible that everyone is a little uncomfortable with admitting to the idea of tennis as showbusiness and the way that glamour is being used to sell the sport? Did it just make more sense to accept Gimelstob’s hasty apology and let sleeping dogs lie than to draw more attention to what is going on.

From his article, "Sexist Secret?"

Parmentier wins in Bad Gastein

Pauline Parmentier has defeated Lucie Hradecka, 6-4, 6-4 to win the 2008 Gastein Ladies. This is Parmentier's second Tour title.

Of interest: Sesil Karatantcheva and partner Natasa Zoric were the doubles runners-up at the tournament. The doubles title went to Hradecka and partner Andrea Hlavackova. Here's hoping we see a lot more of Karatantcheva.

Bartoli and Wozniak to play in Stanford final

What can you say about Serena Williams' knee, other than "there it goes again"? Williams was obviously hampered by her bad knee when she played her semifinal match against Aleksandra Wozniak. Credit to Wozniak, however, who looked as though she was ready for a totally healthy Williams, and who hit with accuracy and self-assurance. Wozniak took the match, 6-2, 3-1 when Williams retired.

More interesting was the match between Marion Bartoli and Ai Sugiyama. In five tries, Bartoli had never beaten Sugiyama, a former top 10 player who can still show why she was ranked so high for so long. Sugiyama went up an early break in the opening set, but after that, Bartoli turned on that switch I wish she could turn on more often. With penetrating double-handed groundstrokes, beautiful volleying, and some solid serving, she dictated play for most of the match, winning 6-3, 6-3.

As I recently wrote, Bartoli has changed her service motion yet again, after having significantly changed it earlier in the season. It's still odd-looking, however. Of course, commentators love to deconstruct Bartoli more than any other player because everything about her is so unorthodox. Last night, Pam Shriver and Mary Joe Fernandez were concerned that Bartoli--who had very serious wrist tendonitis a few months ago and almost missed Wimbledon--kept executing a wrist action with her racquet while she was waiting to return serve, or even waiting to return a ball in the air. In the post-match interview, they asked her about it, and she said that her two-handed play can cause her wrists to lock, so she does that to keep them loose. So there.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Meet Arantxa Rus

Here is a tour profile of the new junior world number 1.

Larcher de Brito watch--no Los Angeles main draw

Michelle Larcher de Brito was defeated in straights sets today by Ahsha Rolle in the first round of qualifying for the East West Bank Classic in Los Angeles. Larcher de Brito hit ten aces, to her credit, but she was unable to stave off break points.

Larcher de Brito took Serena Williams to three sets in Stanford this week.

Parmentier and Hradecka to play in Bad Gastein final

Because of the rain in Bad Gastein, players had to do catch-up today and play both quarterfinal and semifinal rounds. Number 1 seed Agnes Szavay, who defeated Iveta Benesova in the quarterfinals, was then defeated in the semifinals by Pauline Parmentier, 6-4, 6-2. And Lucie Hradecka defeated Mariya Koryttseva, 6-3, 6-2 in the semifinals.

Last year, Hradecka--with partner Renata Voracova--won the Bad Gastein doubles title.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Defending champion out--Stanford semifinals set

Marion Bartoli took out defending champion Anna Chakvetadze in Stanford tonight

When they are playing well, is there anyone more fun to watch (Patty Schnyder excepted!) than Anna Chakvetadze and Marion Bartoli? They met tonight at the Bank of the West Classic, and put on a great show. I reported in April that Bartoli was not only serving well, but had changed her peculiar service motion; she has now changed it again, and is again serving well. It was nice to see defending champion Chakvetadze--who has struggled so much since her world was seriously altered last December--do some of the things that make her such a good player. But she was not focused enough to undo a clever and--at times--deadly-accurate Bartoli. Bartoli won, 6-3, 6-4. It was a very entertaining match. I like both of these players a lot and would have been pleased to see either of them win.

Then there is the matter of Sam Stosur, who--having been defeated by Aleksandra Wozniak in qualifying--became a lucky loser (via Lindsay Davenport's withdrawal), and had to play Wozniak again. And she lost again. I don't know what's going on with Wozniak, but she's suddenly having her best season.

Dominika Cibulkova perhaps gained some type of record-keeping fame by retiring at match point. She held three match points herself in the second set.

And Patty Schnyder, once again, was unable to overcome Serena Williams, who defeated her, 6-4, 6-1.

Bartoli will play Ai Sugiyama in the semifinals, and Williams will play Wozniak.

A gender mistake has been made

Jimmy Arias and Ted Robinson, the Tennis Channel commentators for the Capdeville-Tursonov match in Indianapolis, showed a photo of Rafael Nadal's arms in a sleeveless shirt, compared with Capdeville's, for the purpose of demeaning Capdeville's physique. Then they said that Capdeville looked like "the guy who didn't get chosen for pick-up basketball." Wow. That is really "bitchy" and "catty." I guess Arias and Robinson must be women.

Cibulkova retires on match point

It was a thrilling match in Stanford, from all that I could tell by watching the electronic scoreboard. Dominika Cibulkova won the first set, 7-6, and was up 5-2 in the second. Then her opponent, Ai Sugiyama, held, and proceeded to break Cibulkova when she served for the match at 5-3. Cibulkova had three match points on Sugiyama's next serve, but Sugiyama saved them all, the set went to a tiebreak, and Sugiyama won it. Cibulkova went up a break in the third set, but was broken back. Then Sugiyama broke again.

What I was unable to see by looking at the scoreboard was that Cibulkova began cramping at some point in the third. The cramping became so terrible that she actually had to retire when Sugiyama was up 5-3, 40-0 in the third set. That is some bad cramping.

I like both of these players a lot, and would have been glad for either of them to win (though it's always nice to see the veteran Sugiyama show her stuff), but it's sad to know that someone lost because of terrible pain. She did have her chance, though, in the second set.

Sugiyama def. Cibulkova, 6-7, 7-6, 6-3

Sony Ericsson suffers big 2nd quarter loss

Sony Ericsson, in light of its second quarter $3.1 million operating loss, has cut 2,000 jobs. The company is also expecting a bad third quarter. Sony Ericsson has fallen to fifth place worldwide among handset phone markets, following Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, and LG Electronics.

It is unknown what this situation might mean for the relationship between Sony Ericsson and the WTA Tour.

Williams withdraws from Los Angeles

Venus Williams has withdrawn from the East West Bank Classic. Who is surprised?

Wozniacki upset in Bad Gastein

Mariya Koryttseva defeated number 3 seed Caroline Wozniacki, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 today in the second round of the Gastein Ladies in Austria. The match lasted almost three hours and appears to have been very close.

Szavay survives major scare

Melanie Klaffner must have heard that everyone else has been kicking Agnes Szavay around, so she thought she'd have a shot at it, too. She almost succeeded. In what appears to have been a three hours-plus thriller, top seed Szavay eeked out a 3-6, 7-6, 7-6 win over the Austrian qualifier in the second round of the Gastein Ladies in Austria.

What is going on with Szavay? Her year has not been a total bust: She reached the final in Paris (indoors), the quarterfinals in Amelia Island, Charleston and Berlin, the third round at the French Open, and the round of 16 at Wimbledon. But look at the rest of her season so far:

Gold Coast, lost 1st round to Fedak
Australian Open, lost 1st round to Makarova
Antwerp, lost 1st round to Kleybanova
Doha, lost 1st round to Sugiyama
Dubai, lost 1st round to Morigami
Bangalore, lost 2nd round to Amanmuradova
Miami (1st round bye), lost 2nd round to Vesnina
Rome, lost 2nd round to Errani
Budapest (1st round bye), lost 2nd round to Klepac

Friday cat blogging--sleepy face edition

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Stosur upsets Zvonareva in Stanford

Lucky loser Sam Stosur defeated third seed Vera Zvonareva, 6-3, 6-2 in Stanford tonight. Stosur hit ten aces in her winning match.

Meanwhile, Sybille Bammer, whose fortunes have not been too good this season, became the latest victim of the suddenly successful Alexsandra Wozniak,who defeated her 6-4, 7-5.

Number 5 seed Patty Schnyder had to work to defeat Alisa Kleybanova, 7-6, 6-4, and number 6 seed Marion Bartoli had her work cut out, too. She defeated Anne Keothavong, 6-3, 1-6, 7-5.

Sharapova wins ESPY

Maria Sharapova has won the 2008 ESPY Award for Best Female Tennis Player.

Quote of the day

"When her play doesn't match her bravado, she twists her own psyche into a pretzel."
Matt Cronin on Serena Williams

A long, white mile

"A mile can be very long, especially if it is a white one," Patty Schnyder explains on her website dedicated to the book, The White Mile, which she has written with her husband and coach, Reiner Hoffman. The problem is that the book, which was to have been released in Europe in March--has not been written--at least, it has not been completed. Schnyder reports that what with struggling a bit with her tennis and both she and Hoffman being busy, and just not quite knowing how to tie it all together--publication is now delayed.

Williams goes 3 sets with Larcher de Brito

From what I heard, it was an entertaining, if frustrating, match to watch. Williams hit fourteen aces, and smacked match point so hard, Larcher de Brito fell down. Williams def. Larcher de Brito, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

In other Stanford news from July 17, Dominika Cibulkova defeated Kateryna Bondarenko, and Ai Sugiyama upset Daniela Hantuchova.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Former ATP player joins Sony Ericsson WTA Tour administration

Former Australian ATP player Peter Johnston has been named Senior Vice President of Competition and Member Relations for the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. Four the last several years, Johnston has served as Deputy Tournament Director of the Australian Open, General Manager of the Australian Open Series events and Co-Tournament Director of the ATP’s Adelaide tournament.

Pot, meet kettle

"Anna is stunning to look at, but she’s probably a bit damaged from what she’s been through. That’s how she acts--a bit damaged."
Ashley Harkleroad on Kournikova, in her Playboy interview

Davenport withdraws from Los Angeles

Lindsay Davenport has withdrawn from the East West Bank Classic. No surprise.

Krajicek injured again--her knee this time

Add Michaella Krajicek to the 2008 list of extremely unlucky players, along with Li Na and Tatiana Golovin. Krajicek's wrist finally healed, she was working her way back in, and now she has been diagnosed with a meniscus injury and will have to have surgery.

Pierce withdraws from Olympics

Mary Pierce, who was named to the French Olympic team toward the end of last month, has withdrawn because of continuing troubles with her knee. It is unknown whether Amelie Mauresmo will take her place.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Quote of the day

"I think he recovered better than me because I was down for three days afterward."
Marion Bartoli on Federer's Wimbledon title loss

Suddenly, Stanford is interesting

First, Michelle Larcher de Brito has advanced to the second round by defeating Gisela Dulko, 7-5, 7-6. I'm really sorry to see Dulko, a player I enjoy, go out so soon, but it is nice for Larcher de Brito to move on.

Next, qualifier Aleksandra Wozniack defeated number 8 seed Francesca Schiavone, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2. But there's more: Dominika Cibulkova defeated number 7 seed Nadia Petrova, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

Sam Stosur, who failed to get through qualifying, became a lucky loser when Lindsay Davenport pulled out, and she won her first round against Anastasia Rodionova.

Monday, July 14, 2008

As if being ill for months wasn't enough...

Sam Stosur's official website has been hacked.

Davenport withdraws from Stanford

Lindsay Davenport's bad knee has caused her to withdraw from the Bank of the West Classic. Since this is a chronic injury, Davenport's hard court season looks a bit shaky.

Larcher de Brito watch--into Stanford main draw

Michelle Larcher de Brito has made it through qualifying for the Bank of the West Classic, and is into the main draw. She defeated (wildly inconsistent) veteran Marta Domachowska, Natalie Grandin and Georgie Stoop in qualifying.

U.S. Open Series begins today in Stanford

Today is the first day of the fifth anniversary of the U.S. Open Series, promoted as the "Greatest Road Trip in Sports." The series is a bit different this year for the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, however, because of the demise of the Acura Classic in San Diego. Now that that tournament does not exist, the only Tier I event in the series is the Rogers Cup, which will be played this year in Montreal. (There has, by the way, been talk of reviving the Acura Classic, but so far, it is only talk.)

The U.S. Open Series was conceived as a way to put a spotlight on the North American tournaments that immediately precede the U.S. Open. In addition to giving these tournaments more publicity than they had received in the past, the series also provides bonuses to the women who finish in the top three. In 2005, Kim Clijsters won both the U.S. Open Series and the U.S. Open, and collected an extra $1,000,000 in her U.S. Open prize.

Here is a video preview of this year's U.S. Open Series for the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour players.

It's down to Azarenka

Alize Cornet's win in Budapest leaves Victoria Azarenka as the only player in the top 20 not to have won a tournament. Azarenka, however, has been a finalist four times--twice this year, and twice in 2007.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Errani wins everything in Palermo

Sara Errani defeated Mariya Koryttseva 6-2, 6-3 today to win the Internazionali Femminili di Palermo. Errani, with partner Nuria Llagostera Vives, also won the doubles title, defeating Alla Kudryavtseva and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 2-6, 7-6, 10-4.

With this win, Errani moves from the number 60 spot to number 51 in the world.

Cornet wins everything in Budapest

Alize Cornet has won the Gaz de France Grand Prix by defeating Andreja Klepac, 7-6, 6-3. Cornet was the tournament's second seed.

She and partner Janette Husarova also won the doubles title, defeating Vanessa Henke and Ioana Olaru, 6-7, 6-1, 10-6.

You can watch a "Getting to Know Alize Cornet" video here.

Golovin withdraws from Los Angeles

The recovering Tatiana Golovin has withdrawn from the East West Bank Classic in Los Angeles this month. She is on the entry list for the Rogers Cup tournament in Montreal, but her participation there appears doubtful.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Top seeds out in Palermo

Number 1 seed Flavia Pennetta was defeated today, 7-5, 6-3, by 5th seed Sara Errani. Also, the number 2 seed, Anabel Medina Garrigues, was also defeated--6-2, 6-2, by 7th seed Mariya Koryttseva.

Klepac and Cornet to meet in Budapest final

I saw Andreja Klepac play only once, but I was impressed with her that one time. Now, having removed top seed Agnes Szavay from the Gaz de France Grand Prix, the unseeded Klepac is into the final. Her opponent will be number 2 seed Alize Cornet. Klepac defeated Karolina Sprem, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4; Cornet defeated Greta Arn, 6-1, 6-1. Klepac and Cornet will also play against each other today in doubles competition.

The red clay of Budapest is, of course, an excellent surface for Cornet. I look forward to seeing how she does on the hard courts this year.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Cornet the only surviving seed in Budapest

Top seed Agnes Szavay is out of the Gaz de France Grand Prix. Number 3 seed Tavetana Pironkova is out. And next in line Iveta Benesova, Lucie Safarova and Pauline Parmentier are out. Even seeds 7 and 8--Klara Zakopalova and Sorana Cirstea--are out. That leaves number 2 seed Alize Cornet, who will play Greta Arn in the semifinals. I was a bit surprised that Arn beat Zakopalova. The other semifinal match will be between Andreja Klepac and Karolina Sprem (of the multiple and never-ending injuries).

We'll have to wait to see Sharapova

She is not hitting the hard courts until July 28, when she plays in the Rogers Cup in Montreal. The last time she played in the Rogers Cup was in 2004, when she was a late entrant.

Mattek talks about the advantages of not having a coach

And about how her mental game has changed, her experiences at Wimbledon, and playing doubles. Nice interview, as we would expect--on Tennis Live Radio. Click on "Listen" for the Bethanie Mattek interview, left side of the page, about two-thirds of the way down.

Friday cat blogging--extra pillow edition

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

AIPS names Ivanovic Women's Tennis Player of the Year

The International Sports Press Association has named world number 1 Ana Ivanovic its Women's Tennis Player of the Year. Rafael Nadal was named Men's Tennis Player of the Year.

Quote of the day

What is the diagnois exactly?
"The diagnosis is just an old knee that's played too many tennis hours."
Lindsay Davenport, in an interview with World Team Tennis

USTA drops Gimelstob ads from U.S. Open Series campaign

The United States Tennis Association has scrapped all of its U.S. Open Series ads that featured Justin Gimelstob, former ATP player, Tennis Channel commentator and well-known misogynist. The USTA issued a statement which included these remarks:

Justin Gimelstob's recent comments on a Washington, D.C., radio program were derogatory and demeaning to female tennis players and to women in general. The USTA has long championed integrity, inclusiveness, diversity, and equality, and cannot ignore such harmful remarks. More than any other sport, tennis has benefited from the pioneering role and achievements of so many women.

ESPY Award nominations announced

Best championship performance--Venus Williams (for 2007 Wimbledon), Justine Henin
Best female tennis player--Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic
Breakthrough athlete--Ana Ivanovic
Best female international athlete (whatever that means)--Justine Henin

Voting information is here.

I won't be watching this show. I watched the one in which Jamie Fox sexually assaulted Serena Williams on the stage, and that was it for me. (Williams did nothing, but she looked very uncomfortable; I later heard they became friends, which creeped me out even more.)

Szavay out in Budapest

Top seed Agnes Szavay was defeated today in the second round of the Gaz de France Grand Prix in Budapest. Szavay lost to Andreja Klepac, 6-2, 6-3. The Tier III tournament is played on red clay.

Monday, July 7, 2008

ATP female put-down Hall of Fame adds a new member

Richard Krajicek, Justin Gimelstob and Noam Okun can move over and make room for a new member in their exclusive WTA-hating society: Welcome Janko Tipsarevic. It makes me sad to add Tipsarevic's name to this list because he is one of the ATP players I most enjoy watching. Or at least, he was until a few days ago when statements to Playboy were reprinted on B92 (kindly translated for me by a reader of this blog, who asks us to bear in mind that some nuances may be lost in the Serbian-to-English translation):

Women's thinking on the court cannot be compared with men's thinking. Women's tactic is: Just hit your ball to the place where your opponent doesn't stand at! And nothing more! There's no "now give some spin, now is an important point, rise it a little, switch to the backhand." No way! It's only close your eyes and and storm-blast with all force to the opponent's side.

Some of Tipsarevic's criticism in this rant has validity--that the women's power game has overtaken what some of us would refer to as real tennis, but then--I could say the same for the men's game. I, for one, think that doing away with wooden racquets was a major assault on the beauty and cerebral excitement of the game. Martina Hingis herself said that some of the younger players know power much more than they know strategy.

Tipsarevic, however, puts no value at all on women's tennis, and claims that most ATP players feel the same way. His suggestion for what WTA players should earn when they play the Grand Slam tournaments? "...the plane ticket, and nothing more." He also says that Ivanovic "hits like a truck on steroids." And to see Sharapova and Ivanovic lose only a few games in a match, he says, "makes me sick!"

Had Tipsarevic stuck to the valid (in my opinion) criticism that more women in the WTA need to learn to be tacticians and not just hitters, I would not have found his statements offensive at all. But he asserts that no women in the WTA use meaningful tactics or understand the cerebral part of the game. That is pure nonsense. His own countrywoman, Jelena Jankovic, has one of the most well-rounded games on the tour, and is a great court thinker. Has he never watched Amelie Mauresmo, Anna Chakvetadze, Patty Schnyder, Tatiana Golovin, Flavia Pennetta, Daniela Hantuchova, or Anabel Medina Garrigues? And if he thinks that power hitters are limited to power hitting, has he never watched Venus and Serena Williams?

The type of thinking that manifests itself in statements like Tipsarevic's goes like this: You have contempt for someone. You pay attention to the incompetent and undesirable things that person (or group of persons) does, then conclude--because of your prejudice--that all members of that group do the same thing. Your conclusion, in other words, fits your preconceived notion. Sadly, that is the only explanation for Tipsarevic's thinking, because a more objective observer would have seen both the weaknesses and the strengths in the women's game.

Welcome to the creepy little club, Tipsy. You just lost a fan.

Paszek takes a dive in the rankings

The new rankings are out, and Tamira Paszek is lucky to be in the top 100. She has dropped 30 ranking points, from 64 to 94. The talented young baseliner is not having a good season, to say the least. Last year, she reached the round of 16 at Wimbledon, but this year, she was taken out in the first round by Francesca Schiavone, 6-3, 5-7, 10-8.

All England Club staff picks best matches

The staff of the All England Club chose what they thought were the best matches of Wimbledon 2008. Six of them were women's matches:

Venus Williams def. Serena Williams, final
Ana Ivanovic def. Nathalie Dechy, 2nd round
Zheng Jie def. Nicole Vaidisova, quarterfinal
Laura Robson def. Noppawan Lertcheewakarn, junior girls' final
Tamarine Tanasugarn def. Vera Zvonareva, 2nd round
Nadia Petrova def. Victoria Azarenka, 3rd round

I regret that I did not get to see the last two matches on the list, but I may still watch at least parts of them. I also did not see all of the Zheng-Vaidisova match.

Of the matches I did see, my favorites (although not necessarily my favorite outcomes) were, in no particular order:

Shahar Peer def. Dinara Safina
Ana Ivanovic def. Nathalie Dechy
Tamarine Tanasugarn def. Marina Makarova
Laura Robson def. Noppawan Lertcheewakarn
Serena Williams def. Zheng Jie (second set)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

My Wimbledon top10

Here are the occurrences, in ascending order, that were--for me--the most significant things (good or bad) about Wimbledon 2008:

10. I can't hear you with those propellers whirring: Jelena Jankovic, the number 2 seed, said she needed a helicopter to get to her round of 16 match. Both she and defending champion Venus Williams were shunted off to outer courts, an act for which there was simply no excuse.

9. Even more mod than tube socks: Bethanie Mattek, already a hit in London because of her socks, has spent the last year re-tooling her game and getting much fitter. At Wimbledon, she showed us all a greatly improved player (and she promised not to get too dignified to put away her wild clothes forever).

8. Help! I think I'm winning...: The talented but oh-so-fragile Anna Chakvetadze had another of her major meltdowns, this time against Nicole Vaidisova, whom she should have beaten.

7. This clay doesn't look right to me: French Open winner Ana Ivanovic became one of Zheng Jie's many victims, as the grass expert befuddled the world number 1 at every turn.

6. Champagne and strawberries in order: For the first time in ages, Brits looked pretty good at Wimbledon. Naomi Cavaday and Anne Keothavong were both taken out in early rounds by Venus Williams, but they played well against her and had every reason to feel proud. Elena Baltacha, likewise, had the misfortune to to play Zheng Jie, but she, too, performed admirably. The big winner, however was 14-year-old Laura Robson, who came into the junior championships unseeded, and won the whole thing. Robson has a mature game, is mentally tough, and is so cheeky, I can't wait to hear more interviews with her.

5. Tanasugarn makes her biggest Wimbledon run of all: Tammy Tanasugarn had made it to the Wimbledon round of 16 six times in her career, though not since 2004. Then, last month, she won the Ordina Open, a Wimbledon warmup tournament. Tanasugarn entered that tournament as a qualifier and defeated Dinara Safina in the final. I felt then that she was getting ready to impress at Wimbledon, and--sure enough--for the first time, she made it to the quarterfinals. It was at that point that nerves finally took her over, and what should have been a very competitive match against Venus Williams wound up otherwise. Tanasugarn's third round match against Marina Erakovic, by the way, was one of the top two or three matches I saw.

4. You're supposed to make every shot a power shot: Some commentators like to tell us that Maria Sharapova has no nerves, that she always displays great tennis, that she can rise to any occasion. Not so. I have a lot of regard for Sharapova, but she is prone to having these odd occurrences of going to pieces. Unfortunately, she had one in the second round of Wimbledon, when she was taken out by her countrywoman, the skilled (and equally droll) Alla Kudryavtseva. Sharapova kept double-faulting and making errors, and Kudryavtseva cleaned up. It has now been four years since Sharapova won Wimbledon, and that must be scary for her.

3. An exciting--but maybe not recommended--way to make history: For the first time in the Open Era, the top four seeds failed to make it to the quarterfinals.

2. The incredible run of Zheng Jie: Last spring, Zheng injured her left ankle and was out of the picture for months. Both her singles and her impressive doubles rankings tumbled, and she had a terrible time even qualifying for tournaments early this year. But she did fairly well at the French Open, then showed up and took Wimbledon by storm. Her draw was very difficult. In order to get to the semifinals, she beat Dominika Cibulkova, Elena Baltacha, Ana Ivanovic, Agnes Szavay, and Nicole Vaidisova. How many players could have survived that draw? She looked a bit lost in her first semifinal set against Serena Williams, but the second round was one of the best sets of tennis I saw in two weeks. Zheng is a born grass player, with her fast uptake, low balls and laser-like backhand. I have always thought she had a lot of potential, and this Wimbledon tournament gave us all a chance to see how talented she is.

1. Sister Act 2: Back on Centre Court: The people who said that the Williams sisters should retire, that they are injured too much to continue on the tour, that they are not focused on tennis--can now please shut up, yes? It had been a long time since we had an all-Williams final at a major--I didn't think we would have one at Wimbledon, but as I said a few days ago, what do I know? It wasn't a great final, but it was better than any other Williams vs. Williams major tournament finals we've seen. Venus won her fifth title, Serena was the finalist; they had a little rest, then won the women's doubles championship, too.

What they said--day 13

"From point one, it was a dogfight."
Venus Williams

"No tennis player is sorry when the netcord goes over, so I don't apologize for that."
Venus Williams

"Serena thinks everything is supposed to go her way, that's the bottom line. She thinks that's the way it's supposed to go in life. But this is life."
Oracene Price

"That whole match, I didn't think about winning, or losing...Of course, I thought about winning...I did
think about losing...."
Venus Williams

Sharapova breaks Michael Joyce's finger

According to Jon Wertheim.

Stosur wins Wimbledon mixed doubles title

The unseeded team of Samantha Stosur and Bob Bryan defeated number 1 seeds Katarina Srebotnik and Mike Bryan today--7-5, 6-4--to win the 2008 Wimbledon mixed doubles championship. There was no defending team, since last year's winners, Jamie Murray and Jelena Jankovic did not enter as a team. Murray did enter, and he and his partner, Liezel Huber, were defeated in the semifinals by Bryan and Stosur.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

What they said--day 12

If someone had told you before this tournament started when you were still playing at Roehampton that you'd go and win junior Wimbledon, what would you have said?
"I would have told them that they were being stupid."
Laura Robson mention your mom there. They cut to her a few times during the match and I felt so sorry for her because she obviously didn't know how to react, happy for one, sad for the other.
"I know. It's hard for all of 'em.......I like to think that they want me to win."
Venus Williams

"In the second set today, I went a bit mad..."
Laura Robson

What have you discovered about yourself in this week which has surprised you?
"Nothing really new. I mean, it's weird seeing yourself on the front page of every newspaper, and seeing yourself on TV as well making quite stupid comments."
Laura Robson

You don't look happy at all.
"I don't? I wonder why."
Serena Williams

A suggestion for the Williams sisters

The next time you play each other, make sure you take some cream pies into the press room. When someone asks you "What does it feel like to play your sister?"--well, you know what to do.

Williams sisters win Wimbledon doubles

It was an unexpected accomplishment for former world number 1 doubles players Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur to get to the final of Wimbledon, given Stosur's very long illness layoff. They took out the top seeds, Cara Black and Liezel Huber, but there were not able to do much damage to Venus and Serena Williams. When there are four people on the court and three of them are superior servers, it stands to the reason that the team with two of those servers is going to win, and that is exactly what happened. The Williams sisters took the championship, 6-2, 6-2.

Venus and Serena played a total of only 6 hours and 25 minutes in doubles, never dropping a set throughout the tournament. This was their third Wimbledon doubles title.

After the trophy ceremony, there was a repeat of the junior girls championship trophy presentation, so that more Brits could go into a frenzy over Laura Robson. I can't blame them; she looks like the real thing.

May the year get better...

Brits gone wild--Robson wins junior girls' Wimbledon title

Fourteen years old and unseeded, Laura Robson of Great Britain has won the 2008 junior girls Wimbledon championship in a match that I enjoyed as much as any I saw in the last two weeks, and more than many I saw. Robson defeated the talented third seed, Noppawan Lertcheewakarn, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. A shot-maker with great confidence, Robson showed off just about every aspect of her aggressive game today. For a set and a half, she was just a bit better than her opponent, but then she had an obvious mental lapse and began to make errors. Lertcheewakarn took advantage of this vulnerability, became more aggressive, and took the second set. But from the beginning of the third set, Robson was in charge (though the scoreline does not reflect the fight put up by Lertcheewakarn).

When Robson won her division of the Eddie Herr International Junior Championships, she also had a second set slump, after winning the first set, 6-0. She then came back to win the third set, 6-0. So she has already learned how to change gears when she needs to, which is the mark of a champion.

Robson is already getting telephone calls from concerned people in her camp, advising her what not to say in interviews. Fortunately, she doesn't seem to be paying much attention to them. Robson is cheeky and amusing, and I hope we hear much more from her--and from Lertcheewakarn.

Hail the Queen! Venus wins 5th Wimbledon title

Those who thought there could never be a good Williams sisters final in a major tournament were proven wrong today. Those who thought that Serena Williams' usually superior second serve would take her to the championship were wrong, too. Today, that second serve--which did so much damage in the Williams-Zheng semifinal--was just not there. Serena had a 67 first serve percentage, and a 75 first serve win percentage. But her second serve win percentage was only 23.

Serena found it difficult to break Venus; she was successful only twice (once in the very first game) in thirteen tries. And, as always, Venus put on her best show at the net. For fans, it was a good match, though, unfortunately, it did not go to three sets. However, it was the first time it three attempts that Venus defeated her sister at Wimbledon, 7-5, 6-4.

The match was also proof that--no matter how many injuries they sustain, how many months they go off the tour, how many other activities they pursue--the Williams sisters can still be finalists in major tournaments, even after all these years. Venus's path was made easier by her draw, though she was given a bit of a workout by each of her competitors. Serena, for her part, has been having a very good season, winning in Bangalore, Miami and Charleston.

A few years ago, an interviewer spoke with Venus about the Williams sisters' book, How to Play Tennis, whose jacket also reads Learn how to play the Williams sisters' way. "What way is that?" the interviewer asked. "You win," Venus quickly replied.

25 years old today

What a wonderful run Zheng Jie had at Wimbledon. She was out for so long with an injury that one could hardly expect her to perform well at a major, but she took out the likes of Dominika Cibulkova, top seed Ana Ivanovic, Agnes Szavay, and Nicole Vaidisova. Serena Williams was too much for Zheng to handle, but their second semifinal set was one of the best sets of the entire tournament.

Zheng--who is donating her entire portion of her Wimbledon prize money to China earthquake relief--turns 25 today. One of the best doubles players on the tour, she has now shown the world that she is also one of the tour's outstanding grass court players. Happy Birthday, Jie!

Friday, July 4, 2008

What a comeback!

For someone who has been off the tour for such a long time, Sam Stosur has certainly made a big comeback at Wimbledon. While I'm sure she would like to have had better singles results, getting into both doubles finals is rather impressive. Must be a big relief for Lisa Raymond, too.

What she said--Day 11 with Laura Robson

Did you have an idea in your head how to sign an autograph?
"Yeah, kind of. You just put your little signature there."

On choosing a dress for the Champions' Ball:

How would you describe your dress sense, your style?
"I'm looking for something a bit simple. I remember last year Jankovic wore a bright pink dress. I don't think I'll be going down that route."

Who will you be going to the ball with?
"I don't know."
You haven't got your eye on anybody?
"No. Apart from Safin."

Bryan brothers in the final, after all--in mixed doubles

Bob and Mike Bryan were upset in Wimbledon men's doubles, but they will be opposing each other in the mixed doubles final. The team of Mike Bryan and Katarina Srebotnik, seeded number 1, defeated Igor Andreev and Maria Kirlenko yesterday to reach the final. Today, Bob Bryan and Samantha Stosur defeated number 12 seeds Jamie Murray and Liezel Huber, 2-6, 7-6, 6-4, in their semifinal match.

Friday cat blogging--nostalgia edition

Robson and Lertcheewakarn go to girls' final

14-year-old British junior Laura Robson defeated Romana Tabakova today, 6-2, 7-5, to advance to the Wimbledon junior girls' final. Her opponent will be Noppawan Lertcheewakarn, who defeated Tamaryn Hendler, 7-6, 6-3 in their semifinal match.


Lisa Raymond and Sam Stosur, the former world number 1 doubles team, defeated the current world number 1 team today to get to the Wimbledon final. They won 6-3, 6-3 over top seeds Cara Black and Leizel Huber. Raymond and Stosur were seeded 16th because they did not play for several months; Stosur was out for a long time because of serious illness.

Raymond and Stosur will play Venus and Serena Williams in the final. The 11th-seeded Williams team defeated the unseeded team of Nathalie Dechy and Casey Dellacqua, 6-3, 6-3.

Venus and Serena Williams will play each other in the singles final. Seems like old times.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Stupid-ass commentator--a redundant phrase

If you think it's somehow amusing to call Tamarine Tanasugarn "Tammy Sue Garden," or if you think it's appropriate to yell "Is that a Russian aria?" when Elena Dementieva screams in frustration, you are a hopeless boor. Unfortunately, ESPN and NBC are paying you a ton of money to give in to these urges, when what you need to do is shut the hell up.

What they said--day 10

How are you feeling?
"A bit nervous being in here again."
Laura Robson (in the press room)

Who is your most frequent practice partner? Here at Wimbledon, who have you been practicing with the most?
"My husband. He's gives me the warm-up every time. I really thanks for him. Is good hitting partner. Maybe he need more practice serve, like the serving. I hope so."
Zheng Jie

Did you know that Virginia Wade was also watching you yesterday?
"I didn't, actually. I think if someone would have told me about that that I would have got slightly more nervous. It's probably good that no one told me."
Laura Robson

"...I don't fist pump a lot because I expect to win the point."
Venus Williams

What do I know?

Less than a week ago, I said I did not think we would have an all-Williams final. I expected one of the sisters (I really didn't know which, but I was leaning toward Serena) to make it to the final, but not both. Silly me.

Though Tamarine Tanasugarn had a good shot at defeating Venus, she choked and blew it away. Elena Dementieva got off to a disastrous start in her semifinal, and while she picked up her game considerably in the second set, it was not good enough to take Venus to a third set. Serena's opponent, Zheng Jie, also got off to a bad start. At 5-1 in the first set, Williams leading, the rain came. I suspected the rain delay to be a real boost for Zheng. and she came back in a much improved state. But again--she didn't have enough (though she held a set point) to take a big-serving Serena to a third set (perhaps she should have taken one of those rain delay naps that appeared to help Marion Bartoli come back after several rainstorms and kick everyone's ass).

Williams hit fourteen aces and--how strange is this for Serena?--only twelve unforced errors for the match. She had a first serve percentage of 65 (so did Zheng), a first serve win percentage of 87, and a second serve win percentage of 52. She serves like that tomorrow, and she wins the championship.

Excuse me now while I hit myself on the head and say repeatedly, "Never count out a Williams sister, never count out a Williams sister..."

Kirilenko and Stosur perform upsets in mixed doubles

The unseeded team of Igor Andreev and Maria Kirilenko took out the Wimbledon mixed doubles third seeds today. Andreev and Kirilenko defeated Pavel Vizner and Kveta Peschke, 6-3, 6-4.

Meanwhile, the unseeded team of Bob Bryan and Samantha Stosur defeated number 9 seeds Andy Ram and Nathalie Dechy, 6-4, 6-2.

Those were the upsets. And on court 11, Katarina Srebotnik, playing with Mike Bryan, defeated her doubles partner, Ai Sugiyama and her partner, Kevin Ullyett. Bryan and Srebotnik, the top seeds, won with a score of 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Rus defeated in quarterfinals

Australian Open junior champion Arantxa Rus was defeated today in the Wimbledon quarterfinals by Romana Tabakova, 6-4, 6-1. Rus was the number 2 seed. The top seed, Melanie Oudin, lost in the second round.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

What they said--day 9

Do you feel like you were kind of the spoiled baby of the family?
"Totally, for sure. It's perfect. I love it."
Serena Williams

"It has a great tradition, I love it but my game wasn’t quite good enough and I probably wasn’t confident enough to win on grass."
Justine Henin on Wimbledon

"Let's get real, folks, Venus is a four-time champion here, defending a title, and just kicking buttski left and right with one of the greatest grass-court games any woman has ever brought to Wimbledon. What about that, exactly, screams out, Seed her 7!"
Peter Bodo

"Vaidisova and Zheng met on Court 1 at Wimbledon yesterday, and if you had just dropped into the match, via Jelena Jankovic’s helicopter, without knowing anything of their histories, opportunities, and past performances, you would have thought that Vaidisova had hired Zheng, an experienced professional, to teach her a lesson."
Tom Perrotta

Speaking of doubles, when it comes to that all important area of love life, who gives the best advice?
"I'm a certified relationship expert."
Serena Williams

Larry Scott to to meet with Wimbledon chairman

Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Chairman and CEO Larry Scott plans to talk to the chairman Wimbledon about the scheduling of both defending champion Venus Williams and number 2 seed Jelena Jankovic on out-of-the way courts.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

An upset I failed to mention

Yesterday, I wrote about some Wimbledon doubles upsets, and I forgot to mention a significant one: Number 16 seeds Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur defeated third-seeded Kveta Peschke and Rennae Stubbs, 6-2, 7-6. Of course, Raymond and Stosur comprise the former world number 1 team, but Stosur was out for a long, long time with an illness and just recently returned to the tour.

What they said--day 8

"I'm not sure what that girl in 2000 was thinking. I think she was reading like a Harry Potter book. You know, the 27-year-old Venus also read the Harry Potter book, so not much has changed."
Venus Williams

"...probably next life I want to be tall as her, please, or something like that."
Tamarine Tanasugarn, on Venus Williams' service game

Do you think you missed an opportunity when you pulled it back?
"Well, this match has been an opportunity, and I missed a big one."
Nadia Petrova

Why do you think there are no Chinese men strong in tennis?
"Yeah, is tough question. We want to know also."
Zheng Jie

Do you see your sister as the favorite for this tournament now?
"I would never sit here and say she's the favorite when I'm still in the draw. What are you on?"
Serena Williams

"I'm being tennis for like how many years, and now want to do something different like a normal people also."
Tamarine Tanasugarn

On TV you said when you were getting into trouble in the second set you thought about the French Open. What was that like?
"I was like, Oops, I did it again...."
Elena Dementieva

"Serena, with no doubt, is outstanding player, and so far I haven't found any weak link about her."
Zheng Jie

If you and Venus advance to the final, sharing a flat, what is that breakfast like on Saturday morning?
"I'm going to sabotage her and eat all the breakfast."
Serena Williams

Where do we go from here?
"Straight to the psychiatric unit, I think."
Commentator Samantha Smith, at the end of the Dementieva-Petrova 2nd set

"I think just in the end of the set or in the end of the match we were both disaster."
Elena Dementieva

Paths to the semifinals

Here are the players' paths to the Wimbledon semifinals:

Wild card Zheng Jie def. Dominika Cibulkova (30), Elena Baltacha (WC), Ana Ivanovic (1), Agnes Szavay (15), Nicole Vaidisova (18)

No. 6 seed Serena Williams def. Kaia Kanepi, Urzula Radwanska (WC), Amelie Mauresmo (29), Bethanie Mattek, Agnieszka Radwanska (14)

No. 5 seed Elena Dementieva def. Maria Elena Camerin, Timea Bacsinzky (Q), Gisela Dulko, Shahar Peer (24), Nadia Petrova (21)

No. 7 seed (and defending champion) Venus Williams def. Naomi Cavaday (WC), Anne Keothavong (WC), Martinez Sanchez, Alisa Kleybanova, Tamarine Tanasugarn