Archive for June, 2007

Updates coming soon, I promise…

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

It has been crazy month for me, but luckily I finished the big items just this week. I’ve been doing a ton of travel - India, the Dominican Republic - and have just fallen behind. That means I should have more time to devote to tennis - and I am wrapping up on gloating about Nadal’s French Open final win. ;)

I also caught an episode or two of that Age of Love show, so I’ll have some commentary on that.

Boldest Play contest by Jim Courier and Wolf Blass Wines

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

The “Boldest Play” contest is being hosted by tennis great Jim Courier and Wolf Blass Wines. Whether it is a wicked serve or powerful backhand - tennis lovers of all skill levels have the chance to get out on the court with a camera to submit their most awe-inspiring tennis move to be judged by four-time Grand Slam winner Jim Courier. One winner will receive the ultimate tennis vacation: a trip for two and accommodations to the final US Open Series match in New Haven, CT and a prize package valued at $500.

Participants can enter by uploading a video or photo of their boldest move on the court at http://www.tennis.com/wolfblass

Ivanovic destroys Sharapova

Thursday, June 7th, 2007

Nice going, Ana! She got the win, 6-2 6-1. I’m still traveling, so I didn’t get to see the match, but I will be interested to see what is said in the interview transcript.

Now, what are the chances that Jankovic can take out Henin? :)

Sharapova says she can’t be Mother Theresa

Monday, June 4th, 2007
The Russian had just produced one of the gutsiest performances of the tournament, saving two match points on her way to victory in two hours and 37 minutes. Still, the fans saw only a villain.

Their ire stemmed from some perceived gamesmanship in the last set. As Sharapova was serving at 30-0 and 7-7, a fan shouted. Rattled, Schnyder had lifted her hand to indicate she was not ready - but the serve had already landed on her side of the net. When the umpire refused to replay the point, and Sharapova did not offer to do so, the crowd erupted.

Sharapova served out the game to take an 8-7 advantage but, with jeers ringing round court Suzanne Lenglen, she fell to 15-40 in the crucial next game. Then, she decided it was time to switch racquets.

The unscheduled break interrupted Schnyder’s momentum and earned her a time violation from the chair umpire, but Sharapova was unfazed and won the next four points to seal a controversial victory.

The second seed advances to the quarter-finals where she will meet countrywoman Anna Chakvetadze, who defeated Lucie Safarova in three sets on Sunday. By then, the fans may just have settled down.

Sharapova said she never considered offering to replay the point, considering how close the match was at that stage. Later, Schnyder did not complain.

“I was distracted, and it was the public’s choice to do it; I didn’t boo,” Schnyder said. “I think we should appreciate the champion she is. At the end, she was the big champion. I’m the little one who could not win.”

As Sharapova watched a Schnyder forehand drift wide on match point, handing her victory, she held her fist to her chest and looked around the stands, seemingly deaf to the crowd’s roars. Though she looked on the verge of tears, she said later she was simply grateful to have won.

“It’s tough playing tennis and being Mother Teresa at the same time and making everyone happy,” Sharapova said. “You’re fighting for every single point out there.”
SMH



Roddick and Ginepri to play doubles this week

Monday, June 4th, 2007
World number three Andy Roddick and doubles partner Robby Ginepri will take part in the Surbiton Trophy event, which began at the weekend.

Roddick will play doubles only as he starts his serious preparations for Wimbledon under the watchful eye of coach Jimmy Connors.

“Players who favour playing on grass courts traditionally come to London as soon as they lose in the French Open and the Surbiton tournament is ideally placed to accommodate them,” explains tournament director Peter Greatorex.
Sporting Life



Chakvetadze’s issues affect her on court

Monday, June 4th, 2007

Now just one match away from her second quarter final in as many Grand Slam tournaments, the 20-year-old Muscovite rates as one of the most emergent talents on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. Yet ask her what she would most like to accomplish in the forthcoming months and the answer is one of honesty rather than the bravado that suggests a major title. “More than anything I would like to find the way of becoming calm,” she admits with more than a tinge of embarrassment.

Perhaps it has something to do with studying for a psychology degree, partly by correspondence and occasionally in the classroom or lecture theatre at Moscow University, but Chakvetadze is highly analytical about her moods on court.

Moving through to the last 16 with her 6-4, 6-4 win over the infinitely more experienced Japanese Ai Sugiyama, she played with confidence and authority at the beginning of each set only to tighten with nerves and lose the ability to propel a first serve into play.

However, such clear demonstrations of anxiety is not totally unknown in women’s tennis. What was infinitely more unique was the ninth seed’s behaviour during her previous win against Hungary’s Agnes Szavay. At the beginning of the second set she was clearly so elated by her performance at winning the first that she walked back to the baseline struggling to contain her laughter.

Yet when she faltered in sight of victory and then, after a lengthy rain delay, allowed her opponent to take the match into a decisive third set, Chakvetadze was in such distress that tears were trickling down her face and she repeatedly looked courtside to Rainer Hoffman, the husband and coach of top 20 rival Patty Schnyder, with the expression of somebody who had lost all hope.

“He is just helping me out when he can,” explained Chakvetadze. “It is not easy to find the right coach that I can talk to and feel right with. I am a player that needs to be more calm on the court but I find it very difficult.”

Chakvetadze bears distinct similarities to two far more recognisable competitors. She plays in a way very similar to Martina Hingis in that she has no discernible big shots but instead plays the percentage game. But there are also parallels with Anastasia Myskina, the French champion of 2004 who trains at the same Vita Sport club in Moscow and is excited by the potential of her young compatriot.

“She’s a really smart girl on the court, in terms of the way she plays the game and moves, and she’s doing really a lot of good things,” said Myskina, who has spent more time analysing players in her assumed role of television commentator since experiencing a foot injury which continues to jeopardise her career.
Times Online



Mauresmo out; preps for Wimby

Monday, June 4th, 2007

Amelie Mauresmo was left seeking some consolation from the wreckage of another French Open campaign on Saturday and once again her focus switched to the green, green grass of Wimbledon.

The 27-year-old from the Paris suburbs looked a pale shadow of her best in losing to Czech youngster Lucie Safarova in a third round tie.

A year ago it was a similar story as she was was sent packing from her home Grand Slam tournament by another Czech teenager Nicole Vaidisova.

Only on that occasion, Mauresmo rebounded magnificently and a month later she had won her first Wimbledon crown.

Could she do it again? Mauresmo did not rule it out, but first, she said, she had to get fully match fit after two months on the sidelines to recover from an operation to remove her appendix.

“I hope so,” she replied if she would be back to full fitness in time to defend her Wimbledon title.

“I think the clay is physically very difficult, especially coming back from surgery. It makes it even more difficult than any other surface.

“Especially on my weak points which are my adductors.

“I’ll do my best, do what I have to do, I guess to get ready to play in a few weeks.”

Looking back on her latest pounding in Paris, Mauresmo was fatalistic.

“I’ve been struggling for weeks now and I didn’t really know what to expect,” she said.

“I was really taking it match after match so it showed today that when you’re not prepared the way you should be, then it makes it difficult.”

That was small consolation for her long-suffering fans who have followed her fortunes through 13 failed campaigns at Roland Garros.

Only twice has she made it as far as the quarter-finals, losing to Serena Williams in 2003 and to Elena Dementieva the following year.

She has tried all kind of strategies to conquer the nerves and lack of confidence that engulfs her in Paris, once even turning to former men’s champion turned reggae singer Yannick Noah.

But nothing seems to work, and with a big-hitting new wave coming through, time is fast running out on her.
Sunday Times



Ivanovic prefers men’s tennis

Monday, June 4th, 2007
“I prefer to watch men’s tennis. I think we can learn a lot from it,” the Serbian told reporters after reaching the fourth round with a 6-2 6-0 rout of Romanian qualifier Ioana Raluca Olaru.

Until this season organisers at the claycourt grand slam and at Wimbledon had dragged their feet on equal pay, arguing the men’s game attracted more fans.

But the two slams ended the discrepancy this year, bringing them in line with the pay policy of the Australian and US Opens, who have long offered the same prize pot to the two sexes.

Ivanovic’s admission will probably not go down too well in the women’s dressing room.

“Men play really good and we can learn a lot, especially on clay,” she said.

“They play so many rallies and they play with a lot of speed. Tactics wise we can learn more from men.”
Stuff



A dream rematch for me - Serena vs. Henin

Sunday, June 3rd, 2007

This is one of those matches that most bothers me about Henin - granted, if she plays a clean game, she won’t likely win me over, but it does seem important if she cares to rehab her image. Anyway, looking forward to seeing the outcome since I won’t be seeing it on TV here in India. I wonder if the crowd may go Henin’s way no matter what…

One of the more controversial matches in women’s tennis, the 2003 French Open semi-final between Belgium’s Justine Henin and Serena Williams, will be reprised tomorrow in the quarter-finals, a match that seems likely to test the composure and nerve of both players. Four years ago, after Henin had won 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 ,Williams, crying openly, accused the Belgian of “lying and fabricating” while the crowd on the Philippe Chatrier main court were accused of being overtly racist.

The French crowds are never slow to take sides and on the nearby Suzanne Lenglen court yesterday they frequently sided with Switzerland’s Patty Schnyder after she had taken the opening set against Maria Sharapova, the No2 seed, subjecting the US-based Russian to some relatively mild barracking by Roland Garros standards. More than anything it was Sharapova’s constant wailing and moaning as she hit her shots that got under Parisian skins, although they could not help but admire her indomitable fighting spirit.

Sharapova, who this year has been suffering from shoulder problems which have clearly affected her serve, saved two match points before winning 3-6, 6-4, 9-7. She will now play her fellow Russian Anna Chakvetadze.

Williams was quick to play down any animosity towards Henin. “I don’t want to reflect on that anymore. I let it go, and obviously she did. Or whether she didn’t or not, it doesn’t matter anymore. We’re both different people now,” said Williams after reaching the last eight with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Dinara Safina of Russia yesterday.

“It’s totally different circumstances. But at the same time, I think we have the same amount of desire to come out on top. I’ve definitely matured and if the crowd gets involved, I’m just going to zone out and just focus on me.”

Serena’s outburst after that semi-final came after an incident in the third set when Henin raised her hand as if she was not ready to receive a serve. Williams served anyway but claimed she was distracted and asked the Portuguese umpire, Jorge Dias, for two serves. Dias said he had not seen the incident and Henin remained silent, which clearly upset Williams. Previously the crowd had barracked the American world No1, who had just completed four successive slam victories, when she had called two of her opponent’s shots out. “They showed a lack of class and total ignorance,” said Oracene Price, the mother of Venus and Serena.

Since then the two have met only once, Williams saving two match points in the Miami final this year to win 0-6, 7-5, 6-3, although Henin holds an overall 3-1 advantage on clay where she has been the dominant woman of her generation, winning the title at Roland Garros three times, including the last two years. Yesterday the current world No1 reached the quarter-finals with 6-2, 6-4 win over Sybille Bammer of Austria.
The Guardian



Myskina out; plans retirement

Saturday, June 2nd, 2007

Hey all, I’m in India right now, so I may miss a lot of news…but this one wasn’t a big surprise…

Former champion Anastasia Myskina’s French Open challenge lasted just 38 forgettable minutes after she was embarrassed 6-1 6-0 in the first round by American Meghann Shaughnessy on Wednesday.
Myskina, the first Russian woman to lift a grand slam title when she triumphed in 2004, almost skipped the tournament due to injuries and a wretched run of form.
Making her comeback after undergoing foot surgery in January, the Russian probably wished she had not shown up after her painful experience on court 16.
“I have to be a realist. I knew I was not going to win but I just wanted to see how my foot would feel,” Myskina told reporters. “You can see I’m moving like a big cow now.”
Myskina, once ranked as high as second in the world, is now floundering at 51 and has not won a match since reaching the final in Stockholm last August.
She stubbed her big toe during her run in Sweden and feared the injury could mean the end of her career.
“The doctor basically told me that he’s not sure if I would get back on court after the surgery, because it’s the foot, it’s difficult,” said the Muscovite.
“In my mind, I’m still scared to run… and this is a line I have to cross.”
Should the injury force her into premature retirement, the 25-year-old has already mapped out her future plans.
“I had the great life these five months in Moscow, so I know how it’s going to be after tennis,” she said.
“I was working on TV. I had a soccer show on TV. I have no idea about soccer but now I’m kind of into that. I was also commentating on tennis. I had a great life. I don’t know why I’m here.”