Archive for January, 2007

In case you care, they figured out who Serena’s watch guy is…

Sunday, January 28th, 2007

THE watch-wielding mystery man in Serena Williams’ camp has been revealed as Australian Zane Haupt, a tennis fan and friend of the former world No.1.
Haupt found himself at the centre of a storm on Thursday when Channel Seven cameras spotted him in Williams’ courtside box reflecting light from his watch on to opponent Nicole Vaidisova during their semi-final match.
Yesterday Williams was adamant that Haupt’s actions were not deliberate. The Australian

Yay, mystery solved! Now I can finally go to sleep!

Do players cheat when using Hawk Eye challenges?

Sunday, January 28th, 2007
HAWK-EYE has led to the most blatant abuse of tennis’s “no coaching” rule during matches but players and officials have declared its introduction to the Australian Open a success.
Several players have clearly looked to their entourage for advice as to whether they should challenge line calls, particularly those at the far end of the court, but tournament director Craig Tiley said he had no concerns about this becoming a trend.
“It’s obviously a fine line because you’ve always got to be alert on a player taking some kind of unfair advantage,” Tiley said.

“But the umpire is still in charge of things out there and has to ensure the player code rules are upheld.”

So far no code violations have been issued. The simple fact is both sets of supporters help their player so any advantage is evenly spread.

Tiley said opinions from player camps on good or bad lines calls had always been expressed in days before Hawk-Eye. The difference is now a player can act on them. The Australian

Bryans win AO men’s doubles title

Sunday, January 28th, 2007

Here’s a bit from the post-match interview:

Q. You’ve won all four Grand Slam doubles titles. Have you any ambitions left?

BOB BRYAN: We always want to play well at these tournaments, these Grand Slams. I think it’s where you’re remembered in this game. We want to stack up against some of the great teams.

By winning all four, that put us in the history books. Davis Cup’s big for us. We always want to play well at Davis Cup. We lost in the finals to Spain that one year. I know James Blake and Andy Roddick are really ambitious about the Davis Cup. We want to help them win that.

Q. What makes you a great doubles team?

MIKE BRYAN: We’re twins. We’ve been playing together since we were five years old. We’re a lefty‑righty combination. Bob is a huge server; I’m a pretty good returner. If you play thousands of matches together, you’re going to flow well out there on the court.

We don’t use too many signals. We just wing it now. We’ve played so many matches that we kind of read each other’s minds out there. Australian Open Interviews

Photo: Serena with trophy

Sunday, January 28th, 2007

This AP photo is from Tracy Austin’s MSNBC article:

To take out Sharapova, who is about to be crowned World No. 1, in just an hour and three minutes and to lose only three games is extraordinary. It was simply an awesome display of tennis, and I stand amazed at what Williams has done.

I think it is easy to overlook the fact that Williams is coming out of a rough time personally.

She dedicated her victory in Melbourne to her half-sister Yetunde, who was killed in 2001, and though she has been reluctant to talk about the impact her half-sister’s murder has had on her, the two were very close, and it must have affected her a great deal.

She has had lot to contend with, which is why it was such an emotional win. MSNBC

That’s a little bit different than her last article:

There’s no question Serena has exceeded expectations, but she is going to have her work cut out for her when she takes on top-seeded Maria Sharapova in the women’s singles final.

Sharapova is going to be a huge step up in class for Williams — too big a step in my opinion as I see the Russian taking the title. MSNBC

Serena dedicates win to her murdered half-sister

Saturday, January 27th, 2007

Q. You talked about your focus. How much of that focus came from the memory of your sister?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, you know, she was ‑‑ every day I write notes, you know, from my match. Not every day, but every match I wrote notes. Today my note was just Yetunde. That was all my notes. That’s it.

Usually I write, Look at the ball, move forward, do this, do that. Today I just had one word. You know, every changeover I looked at it and I just thought about how happy she would have been, you know, how much she always supported me.

I just thought about what an amazing sister she was to me. I just said, Serena, this has to be motivating. This has to be more than enough to motivate me, and I think it was.

Q. How long can you carry that through your career?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I mean, I just think it’s obviously long‑term. She’s gone forever. I just ‑‑ that’s not the only thing I get power from. Like I said, I prayed ‑ not to win. I never pray to win; I just pray to be strong, just help me there. I just think I derive a lot of power just from my heart.

I don’t know.

Q. You mentioned before you used to speak after matches. There was a nice line about when you spoke to her after the French Open, when you had beaten somebody.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I beat this girl. I don’t remember, it was a long time ago at the French Open. She said, Wow, Serena, you played so well. You beat her like she stole something. I was just laughing because I had never heard that expression before. I was just laughing so hard.

I have so many good memories of my sister. Obviously, she was ‑‑ I remember just so many, so many things from her. That’s just one of the things that stick out. She was always so happy for me and Venus. She would come travel with us with her kids sometimes. You know, we had so many unbelievable memories. I take solace in those memories.

Q. Do you remember who you beat so heavily that time?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don’t remember that. I just remember calling her. She was so happy. She was obviously proud. You know, she was an awesome sister. She’s the best. Australian Open

Now, who owes Serena an apology?

Saturday, January 27th, 2007

Well, I finally got done with travel and caught the women’s final shortly after I got off my final flight. I can’t believe how quickly Maria fell apart - she just had no chance! Even her body language got really negative, and in the second set, she looked to be on the verge of tears. And what was up with Yuri? No Motorola hat, hair all askew…

I was disappointed in Maria’s post -match speech. She made a comment along the lines that the roof of Laver was closed today even though it was 20 degrees out and not during her first match so “figure that out”. Boo! She should have given up on being bitter about that now - she made it through that match and I’m certain it didn’t cost her this final. Oh well, lame, but she was probably really embarassed and upset.

Well, anyway, Serena wins, 6-2 6-1. Tracy Austin and Justin Gimelstob are among the many that owe Serena an apology. And maybe Chris Evert won’t feel the need to write an “open letter” to the sisters this year.

Gonzo promises to give it his all

Friday, January 26th, 2007

I hope this is true - it would be great to finally see someone so hungry for a Slam win that they just sweat blood on the court - okay, not literally, but a huge effort would be amazing. Baghdatis almost had it last year - maybe the crowd could help Gonzo out and not give Roger so many freaking standing ovations?

Q. You’re going to play Federer in the final. What do you think about this?

FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: It’s a tough match. He’s the No. 1 player in the world by far. He’s the favorite. I lost many times with him.

But now I’m in a better ‑‑ I mean, I’m playing much better now than the last time that we play. And it’s only one match, you know. I’m going to give everything that I have to try to win my first Slam.

Q. Do you think you can maintain the ability to come up with the creative shot‑making that you had in this match against Roger and in a Grand Slam final?

FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: I mean, I’m going to try to do the same thing that I’ve been doing: playing good tennis, don’t do it too much, because my forehand side I feel I can do whatever I want.

I’m going to have Roger on Sunday. Is going to be a tough, but I’m playing a great level. I didn’t play long matches the last three matches. I mean, I’m almost a hundred percent. Australian Open Interview

Serena answers more watch questions

Friday, January 26th, 2007

Damn, the press really wants to know who this guy was! At least it wasn’t some rude American, right? Crazy Australians.

Q. Have you looked any more into the allegations that someone in your camp was flashing sunlight off their watch into your opponent’s face yesterday?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, yeah. I don’t know why there were so many stories about that. I found it quite funny. My whole career I’ve been a professional player. The young man is a close friend of mine. He’s a fan of tennis. He plays himself. He’s been wearing that watch every day. I think everyone in the stands wears a watch.

It’s just crazy. I don’t know why there’s even stories about it.

Q. It wasn’t deliberate on his part?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I mean, why would it be? There’s absolutely no reason for that to happen. I just think it’s another story for people to fabricate and run off on. There’s always something like that.

Q. Who is he?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Just a good friend of mine. I’ve known him for several years, since he’s been like 12 years old. He’s Aussie.

Q. He travels with you quite a bit?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No. He just always comes to the Australian Open because he’s Aussie. He came. He visited America for the first time a couple years ago. We had a lot of fun.

Q. What is his name?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don’t think all that is necessary. I just think it’s crazy that this was even brought up. There’s so many watches. There’s so many people in the stands that wear watches and things like that. It’s just completely outrageous. It’s silly. Come on. It’s always something. This is just another thing.

Q. If we accept the allegations are pretty stupid, would you have a chat to him and say take the watch off just to avoid the nonsense?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don’t see why he should take it off. No one saw the glare. I never saw the glare. If anything, it would have affected me. I never saw the glare. Vaidisova said she never saw the glare. What more is there to say?

As of now, I’m not answering any more questions about a god‑dang watch. This is stupid. Is there any more questions you want to ask me?

Tracy Austin comments on the pressure put on young players

Friday, January 26th, 2007

The most important factor in ensuring that a promising player develops in the right way is that the people around him or her are consistently supportive and that they don’t focus too much on victories and defeats.

At such a young age, there is no reason to put pressure on a junior which is primarily based around his or her match results. The focus should be on overall improvement in practice and in matches.

That’s where you can best measure how a junior is going to develop: whether he or she is bringing what has been learned in practice into matches and trying to execute it.

Nothing spectacular happens overnight, or in a week, a month or sometimes in a year.

Long-term success is built on putting the key building blocks of a player’s game properly together. If a player is constantly admonished for failing to win then they may end up resenting what they have been taught and, consequently, fail.

My parents never put pressure on me to win titles, even when I was considered the hottest thing in US tennis.

At the age of 13, I was put on the cover of Sports Illustrated and was touted as the next big thing. At the time, I didn’t even realise how significant that was and when I was asked to do the photo shoot for the cover, I went straight over from practice. I didn’t stop to put on make-up, and I couldn’t care less about how my hair looked or what was written about me.

All-time great Jack Kramer once told my mother to make sure to tell me not to read was written or said about me, positive or negative. If you read an article and the writer is fawning over you, you can develop a big head. If it’s negative, it can stay with you for a long time. Even after I beat Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert to become the youngest player to win the US Open title at 16 years and nine months in 1979, I didn’t read my press. I knew I was a great player and could prove that on court, but I didn’t need to hear that I was the best thing to happen to tennis since sliced bread.

My parents treated my brothers and sister and I the same: all of our victories were treated with applause and a slap on the back, whether it was my brother John winning a collegiate match for UCLA, or me winning the US Open.

Even though I was winning nearly every match in sight, my parents kept it normal. They kept me in school and expected me to behave like every other responsible and well brought up teenager. I wanted to stay in school so that I could at least have my balance. Because I was still in school, I didn’t compete in the Australian or French Opens until after I graduated high school.

This rarely happens today, as most good juniors are home-schooled and almost have to be to keep up with their peers. It’s a different era now. The Australian

Gonzalez makes the final

Friday, January 26th, 2007

Can anyone stop Federer? The only man left standing is now Fernando Gonzalez, who easily took care of Tommy Haas in straight sets. I’m still hoping he can take a set off of Federer…he only had three, count them, three unforced errors in his whole match against Haas. That is pretty amazing! He’s had a well-deserved run to the final.