Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Same as it ever was

Letting the days go by (same as it ever was)
Letting the days go by (same as it ever was)
Once in a lifetime
Letting the days go by
Letting the days go by
From Once in a Lifetime
Byrne, Eno, Frantz, Harrison, & Weymouth

It's been seventeen months since Maria Sharapova announced that ITF had given her a two-year ban. It's been at least eighteen months since the ITF tried to give her a four-year ban. It's been seventeen months since WADA president Craig Reedie made extremely prejudicial remarks about the Sharapova case--remarks that were never investigated. It's been at least eighteen months since all other athletes who took Meldonium were let off the hook. And it's been ten months since the Court for Arbitration of Sport reduced Sharapova's suspension, citing "no significant fault or negligence."

And, to this day, no legitimate scientific evidence has surfaced to prove that Meldonium is a performance-enhancing drug. 

In most of the free world (the U.S. is questionable, for sure), evidence is required to convict someone of a crime. But in the tennis world, hatred of a person one has never met seems to be sufficient. The attributes that have been projected onto Sharapova would make a giant movie screen explode. 

But, to borrow from Adrienne Rich, we now have "the thing itself and not the myth," and the thing itself is alive and well, thank you very much. Just ask 2nd seed Simona Halep, who lost to Sharapova for the seventh time last night on Arthur Ashe Stadium at the U.S. Open. It was a great match, very well played by both competitors. It could have been a final. Halep has nothing to be ashamed of, though it has to hurt to leave Flushing Meadows so soon. I called Sharapova the wild card from hell, and last night, she was just that. 

Dressed in crystals and lace (love the crystals, hate the lace), the five-time major champion and holder of a Career Slam appeared to have overcome her forearm disability. She looked, in fact, like the 2006 Sharapova who won the event. Next for Sharapova is Timea Babos, who isn't usually an easy opponent. It will be interesting to see how far the Russian star goes during her stay in Flushing Meadows. But regardless--she's back.

The other big news regarding the draw is that defending champion Angie Kerber is also out in the first round, the victim of big-hitting Naomi Osaka. It wasn't a surprise. Kerber hasn't been herself in ages (except for that extraordinary match against Ekaterina Makarova in Cincinnati, which the German lost). 

And though not quite as big, there was also bad news yesterday for 7th seed Jo Konta, a contender for the title, who was shown a first round exit by Aleksandra Krunic, the relentless Serb who knocked Alona Ostapenko out of Cincinnati a couple of weeks ago.

The U.S. Open takes place during hurricane season, so there's frequently an issue of rain, and the second day was almost completely rained out. Top seed Karolina Pliskova made it to the second round, as did French Open champion Ostapenko, and Madison Keys.

Now it's all about catch-up because of the rain. Yet to play their first round matches are Aga Radwanska, CoCo Vandeweghe, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Elina Svitolina, and Dasha Gavrilova.


jwr said...

I had to watch the Maria/Simona match on ESPN3 (no television at present). I thought the play-by-play guy had surely set the tournament's nitwit standard when he said the weather forecast was excellent "as far as we can reasonably project" (to which, I thought NOW YOU'VE DONE IT...though even I didn't assume the rain-outs would start the very next day).

But then, of course, Chanda Rubin went him one better when she analyzed a big serve Maria hit in a key spot with "She just took her time and put it right where she wanted!" as though "Maria Sharapova's Serve Time" is normally a euphemism for The Roadrunner.

At least it was worth a laugh in the middle of a matchup that I always watch with something like the angst you must feel when Petra and Aga are playing. The one good thing is, there is now complete moral and spiritual clarity.

Go Maria!

Nondisposable Johnny

Diane said...

I'm a Simona fan, too, so it wasn't the most comfortable thing for me to watch, either (though after that Cincinnati final, I'm just shaking my head). I was in a coffee shop during today's match, yelling at Maria, which apparently helped 😄