Thursday, June 18, 2015

The grass is green--and filled with surprises

The players move from clay to grass, and before you can say "Nobody serves and volleys anymore," all manner of interesting things happen.

This, for example:

That can hardly be a coincidence, though why it occurred probably involves a complex conversation about court surface, young players' early experiences in their respective countries, and what appears to be a new emphasis on serving (finally) in the women's game.

And speaking of serving, Sabine Lisicki cracked the WTA record yesterday by hitting 27 aces in one match. Even more remarkable, it was a two-set affair. Big serving is becoming more common, as is smart, tricky serving. Some players with clever serves (Tsvetana Pironkova and Ekaterina Makarova are good example) cannot always access those serves, so serving helps them only some of the time. And some players with big and tricky serves (like Lisicki and Petra Kvitova) tend to go through periods of double-faulting.

And speaking of double-faulting--Camila Giorgi finally won a title. The talented but wildly inconsistent Italian defeated Belinda Bencic in the Topshelf Open final earlier this week.

Perhaps the most talked about event of recent days, however, is the 6-3, 4-6 6-0  defeat of Genie Bouchard by Kiki Mladenovic in the second round (Bouchard had a bye in the first round) of the Aegon Classic in Birmingham. It was Mladenovic who took Bouchard out of the French Open in the first round. The Canadian star has a 7-11 win-loss record for 2015, though it's worth noting that she reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.

Bouchard hasn't been the same since she lost the 2014 Wimbledon final to a terrifyingly efficient Petra Kvitova. Injuries have bothered her, but there's obviously something else going on. I don't think Bouchard (or any player) is obligated to talk about all of her ongoing issues with the press. Having said that, I'm stunned--yet again--that the sports press describes Bouchard's explanations as "candid" and "honest." They're actually vague and repetitive. Again--I support a player's right to be vague. This isn't a criticism of Bouchard, just one more observation that you can tell the tennis press anything at all and they will instantly turn it into either a virtue or a crime.

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