Thursday, March 17, 2011

Two things you can count on

Caroline Wozniacki will get at least one walkover or retirement during a tournament.

Victoria Azarenka will wind up lying on the court, limping off of it, or both.

In today's BNP Paribas Open quarterfinal, we got it all. Top seed Wozniacki played her friend Azarenka, and after only three games, Azarenka sustained a left hip flexor strain, and--after being advised by her coach--retired from the match.

Azarenka has struggled repeatedly with hip and thigh injuries. She went through a famous food poisoning (still wrongly labeled "heat illness" by the press) incident, and an even more famous incident in which she passed out on the court after getting a concussion before the match. As for Wozniacki, she is so often the recipient of retirements and walkovers, I've come to expect one every tournament.

In the last of the quarterfinal matches, Maria Sharapova and Peng Shuai went three sets, and Sharapova prevailed, 6-2, 5-7, 6-3. And though it still sounds odd to say it, Sharapova is seeded 16th.


Overhead Spin said...

Diane, why does it sound odd to say that Sharapova is ranked 16? As far as I am concerned, her play is more like that of someone ranked in the top 50 and not in the top half of the top 50 right now. She has hit so many DFs I have lost count. Her forehand and backhand are abysmal right now, and unfortunately if Peng had a better serve, or could stay in the moments more, we would be singing a different tune.

Sharapova is ranked where she is because her performance at tournaments, combined with her various illnesses are what is keeping her from moving up in the rankings.

Diane said...

I just mean that for so long, she was ranked very, very high, so it still sounds a bit strange to think of her as a top 20 player and nothing more. I don't mean to imply that she should have a different ranking--just that it still seems strange to me that she has tumbled like this.

Peng's serve did her no favors; she also needed to be more aggressive in the earlier parts of the match. She let Sharapova push her around.

I wonder what the future holds for Sharapova. She has moments when she looks pretty good, but then her serve goes to pieces and she can't dictate play like she used to.

Overhead Spin said...

Point taken. I have no idea what the situation is with Sharapova these days. Flashes of brilliance followed by moments of mediocrity. Maybe that is what we will expect from her as her career winds down.

What is annoying me more than anything and seems to be annoying quite a few fans is Davenport's commentary during matches.

I know that Wozniacki is not a favourite of those who think she should have a major and be No. 1 etc., but it galls me that Davenport of all people describes Woz as having no weapons. Really, how about mental toughness? How about the fact that she never beats herself? How about the fact that for all intents and purposes she is a competitor.

People talk about Sharapova and her competitiveness, but FWIW I think right now Wozniacki is one of the biggest competitors out there. She may not shriek and fist pump like others, but she competes, and does it fiercely, something Davenport can never claim.

Diane said...

I have all kinds of issues with Davenport as a commentator (and otherwise). During this tournament, she has managed to mispronounce the name of every player, consistently refer to the players as "girls," aim a thinly veiled insult at Kournikova, and engage in endless "cute" banter. which is neither amusing nor relevant. When I can, I watch the matches on Tennis TV. One commentator, as a rule. And he actually calls the match.

BS said...

It's interesting that you mention Azarenka's food poisoning incident, because I will admit that up until reading this article I was still mistaken about Azarenka's retirement in that match. I had thought it was due to the effects of 'the heat'. The inability of the tennis media to report the truth in some cases is still startling to me. Thanks for setting the record straight for me Diane!

Overhead Spin said...

Thanks Diane for the heads up on Azarenka because like BS, I had no idea that she was suffering from food poisoning. There is a certain group of tennis writers and bloggers out there who are going all out to push a certain agenda. The commentators are also lining up and trying to push down the throat of fans, stories that belie what we are seeing on court.

I don't care how much money a player makes. I don't care how much contracts they have. What I want to see is a player out there doing what she is supposed to be doing and that is competing. I want to see her sit in her chair on the changeovers and figure it out. I want to see her put her head down and think to herself, what do I need to do to win this match. I do not wish to see some old guy coming out and laughing it up with a player and telling her that she needs to own the court and all that other psycho BS.

I used to be a big fan of Ivanovic. After that performance against Jankovic where her coach was laughing on the changeovers etc., I had already stopped being a fan, now I know I will never go back to being a fan of someone who employs such unsportsmanlike people to be a part of her entourage. In addition to all of that, listening to Davenport basically trash the No. 1 player in the world on national tv just irks the bejeebers out of me. That put with the fact that she seems to think that it is so hard to raise children and play tennis just annoys the heck out of me

Diane said...

Azarenka was up vomiting the night before and was diagnosed with food poisoning. She decided to go ahead and play, and who can blame her? She was feeling better. There's no doubt that the conditions made things worse for her, but she was already sick. The commentators generally don't have a clue about what's going on. Where I come from, we call it lazy.

SarahDee said...

Thankfully we are not at the mercy of commentators such as Lindsay Davenport over here in Aus (although trying to find the womens matches on TV is another matter - constant streaming of mens matches on ESPN2 and you'd be lucky if you get two hours worth of the womens tour a day on Eurosport!)

The Caroline Wozniacki not deserving world number one thing is really bugging me at the moment and unfortunately our commentators here are all in the same mind. Todd Woodbridge, who I usually don't mind, went on about it so much during the Aus Open that I had to put the TV on mute half the time. Why do people not think she's a deserving number one? She has shown incredible strength, talent and mental toughness at such a young age. She hasn't peaked too young then not been able to deal with it and fallen in a big black hole like some we won't mention ... She has consistently improved over time and just gets stronger. She is an incredible player (granted not as exciting to watch as some others) and gets out there and wins on a consistent basis. She deserves to be number one. I also have no doubt that she will win a grand slam one day.

Just had to get that vent out. Its driving me crazy and I just hope that all the relentless commentary about her needing a grand slam doesn't start having a negative effect on her.

Marlena said...

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