Four notable matches that have me very excited.
Play starts at 4am ET/1am PT. Bring it.
Well this is getting boring. And by that I mean EXCITING!!! All the journalists should send the tennis players a $5 Starbucks card to thank them for keeping all the compelling storylines going.
All the top seeds came through yesterday without too much struggle, particularly on the men's side. The Wimbly rematch everyone wants is still on track as Roger avenged is 2004 Athens loss to Big Bird Berdych, Igor "The Zabka" Andreev failed to sweep Rafa's leg and was downed in fairly easy fasion, and Nole played well to dispatch of the Youzh. The only "upset" came from La Monf, who downed David Headbandian 4 and 4. I was sad that Blake downed Simon though. Simon is infuriating to watch but he's also really cute.
As for the Ladies, you have to tip your cap to the veterans, all of whom put their upstart opponents in their place. Venus summarily dismissed Vika Azarenka and though Serena dropped the first set to Feivel Cornet (seriously, she looks like Feivel Mouskevitz) she came back to win 3 and 4 after destroying yet another Wilson [K]Blade Tour. The always injured, always complaining world #1 also avenged her Montreal loss to Mighty Mouse Cibulkova, who had trouble dealing with the conditions and faded after the first set.
And it was a good day for the Russians. Lena D put an end to Ski Boots' solid Olympic run, and Bepa took care of business, beating Tranny Schiavone. And, as if I needed any more proof that my blog is a hit among the tour, Ana's Avenger came down for the smoggy polluted sky to deliver a message to Zheng Jie: "Don't fuck with Baby Panda." It's really too bad that Zheng was put in that tough quarter. I would have liked to see her get through to the semis.
Leave it to the French to force athletes to act like complete fools for laughs. They do love Jerry Lewis, after all.
Last year at Roland Garros they had the athletes to karaoke. Embarrassing and in most cases, cringe worthy. This year they had the athletes take pictures in a photo booth. The following ensued:
Nole the Djoker
Pova the Diva
Rafa the Rafa
Ana the Shy Girl
In my crazy Olympic fever I've neglected to acknowledge that there are other non-Olympic happenings that are providing some interesting storylines as the US Open nears. So here's a quick recap.
Dudes. From a
Serbian Croatian press report (rough translation from AI's Forum):
That she was right say the tears that came down her face when we turned off our cameras, after she announced she withdraws from the Olympic tennis event. It was in vain to turn on the cameras again – a silent and childish sigh, which represented a way to relieve the pain, because she wouldn’t be able to fulfill her biggest wish in life, paralyzed our wish to take advantage of the situation and take photos of Ana Ivanovic. With a lot of shame, wiping off her tears, she waved her hand when she was leaving, a way of showing gratitude for our comprehension. The thumb injury forced the most popular and beautiful inhabitant of the Olympic village to wait for another chance. “See you in London,” she said in front of the cameras, trying to find little consolation.
OOP for Day 4. Lots of fun stuff, particularly on the Ladies' side.
Unfortunately, matches start at 4am ET. What to do, what to do?
Roger, Nole, and Rafa all went through with ease. Rafa disposed of an exhausted Lleyton Hewitt, who had been up past midnight finishing a marathon doubles match that ended 18-16 in the third. Thankfully, Rafa's form was much better today. Maybe he got a call from Ana telling him not to worry and that her hand was ok.
As for "upsets", my boy Paul Henri Mattieu (so cute!!!) ousted Kolya and Juergen Melzer knocked out weary Stan The Man Wawrinka. Too bad for Stan. The heat and humidity got to him. In other bad news, Janko had to withdraw with an ankle injury against Olivier Rochus. Poor Janko. He needed a wheelchair to get to his presser:
As for the ladies, the Sisters Williams, JJ, Dinara, and Lena D. all went through with ease. The big news was Agi Radwanska getting ousted by Frannie Schiavone. Tough loss for A-Rad. I she going through a bit of slump? She got dusted by Caro last week in the semis of the Nordic Light Open. That being said, Schiavone was a tough match-up. She always has that little extra something when she plays for her country.
As for other "upsets", SKI BOOTS IN DA HOUSE!!! Caro dismissed Dani H. 1 and 3 and Mama Bammer ditched Peppermint Patty, 4 and 4. Seriously, who is going to come out of that top quarter? I have to put my money on Bepa, but since everyone else I've picked has lost so far I fear I may have just jinxed the crying Russian.
Finally, in the only match I actually watched from start to finish, Zheng Jie had to dig down and fight hard to come back and beat Lloggostera Vives, 67 61 64. That first set was a tough one and Zheng looked absolutely wiped out. She was leaning against the back wall, doubling over for air, etc. But she kept fighting and as it turned out, it was Vives who had nothing left in the tank. Mondo Kudos (yes, that's an official term) to Zheng, who I find myself rooting for more each and every day.
"Usually when you expect the best, and when you expect something extraordinary, usually you get disappointed with something bad going on. But this was more than extraordinary."
-- Nole on opening ceremonies
"Well, for me, my whole life as an athlete, I've been working to win Grand Slams. As a tennis player, you never work to win a gold medal. But my gold medal is the only trophy that I really, like, want to show to people. It's my favorite thing that I have. So it's hard to say."
-- ReRe on whether she'd rather have a Grand Slam or a Gold Medal
"The problem is the humid, no? I don't know. The true, I didn't feel nothing, the pollution. That didn't affect nothing on me, no? The problem is the humid are very, very hard. I had to change the shirt every 10 minutes. So it's difficult. All the time, I have to put some product to the hands, try to change the towel all the time. So is extra work."
-- Rafa on the pollution and humidity
"I'm excited to be surrounded by, you know, the best athletes in the world. But also I'm here to play my tournament. So when it comes to, you know, my matches, I'm only focused on that. I'm here to play; I'm not here to be a tourist."
-- JJ on focusing on the tournament
"It's definitely different. Just the whole preparation, being in the village. Just, like I said, the inspiration I've gotten from meeting so many other athletes, being around so many great athletes from other sports. It's definitely different because you want to do something special. Instead of just proving yourself for your own sake, you want to prove yourself as a member of a team, as a member of the Olympic team, that you deserve to be here, and you deserve to be among all these other great athletes, because there are some out here that I'm so impressed by."
-- James Blake on the differences between the Olympics and Davis Cup
I stumbled upon these shots of what Nike describes as the Nike Sharapova US Open Day Dress.
And here is the Nike Sharapova US Open Night Dress.
The day dresses? Kinda plain. But how cute are the night dresses?!? They look so flirty. Though only Masha could have pulled them off. Anyone else would look pregnant with that empire waist. But on her I suspect they would have looked a little lingerie-ish.
OOP for Tuesday. Some fun matches lined up:
Now that I'm back on the Pacific Coast I'm looking forward to a night chock full of Tennis. Let's hope the rain stays away! Tennis starts at 10:30 ET.
Well that was a full day of tennis. Fed, Nole, and Rafa are through, as are the Sisters Williams, JJ, Lena D., and Dinara. Nicole Vaidisova, though she looked fitter, was still dumped out Alize Cornet and Dani H. had a typical Dani H. stumble but was still able to beat good buddy Ai Sugiyama.
But though the day went mostly according to form it wasn't without surprises.
Who didn't have high hopes for Muzza to make a run here? The story was just too perfect. A streaking player who would have to get past a player he has recently dominated and a player who he has never beaten. I really thought it was going to be a storybook ending for Muzza. Didn't know it was a Stephen King book though. Different kind of ending.
And what to make of Kuzzie's loss to hometown girl Na Li? Not much really. I thought Kuzzie would have a good showing here simply because it seemed that she had finally gotten her form back in Montreal. But let's face it, her US Open title aside, Kuzzie has consistently shown that she cannot perform in big matches. Her early loss at the AO, semifinal no show at RG, another early round loss at Wimbly, and now a first round dump at the Olympics. The girl simply overthinks on the court and crumbles under the weight of the moment. It's really unfortunate because she has all the talent and game to be a true #1. If only she could win a damn final!
And what of David Ferrer? Currently ranked a career high #4, he got dumped out by a solid Janko. This was a tough first round draw as Janko has been playing relatively well lately. But I don't know if it's his movement or his head, but Ferrer is just not looking like the same player. He's going for big shots at the wrong time and he's getting beaten off the ground.
Rafa, to put it nicely, did not look good. He was missing (which he never does) and he was missing BADLY. Distracted by the prospect of Ana leaving Beijing? Who else will he have long walks with in the Village to talk about...whatever those two would talk about? Luckily he refocused and closed out the match in three sets. Let's hope he plays himself into form.
And new medal favorite Agi Radwanska struggled to put away the pesty Yung-Jan Chan, 61 76(6). That was close. I was getting worried.
Let's give a hand to Zheng Jie, Na Li, and Shuai Peng, all of whom had to dig deep and fight to get through to the second round. No doubt the hometown crowd was the difference in each very close match.
Congratulations to JJ, who begins her reign at #1 today. JJ becomes the 18th #1 in WTA history and the second woman from Serbia to hold that ranking. I know I've given JJ a lot of crap over the past few weeks about this, but in all seriousness, this is a great accomplishment. Regardless of how this goes down in the record books, she should be extremely proud of the 52 weeks she has been able to put together.
All that being said, I hope she printed out this ranking sheet because it's unlikely she'll be sitting on top for more than a week. Next week, on August 18, points earned from last year's Toronto tournament drop off. JJ made the final there last year (300 points) and Ana lost in the first round (1 point).
JJ currently has a 112 point advantage over Ana. So in order to stay ahead she has to gain at least 188 points at the Olympics.
Here's the point breakdown for the Olympics:
Gold Medal - 353
Silver Medal - 245
Bronze Medal - 175
Loser 3rd/4th - 135
Quarterfinals - 90
Round of 16 - 48
Round of 32 - 28
1st Round - 1
What does it all mean? It means JJ has to play in the final in order to stay #1. Given her form and her draw, I highly doubt that's going to happen. So come August 18th, Ana will get back her #1 ranking and go into the US Open as the top seed. Coincidentally, August 18th is also when Rafa will become the new #1 on the men's side.
They are SO MFEO.
Notably, Kuzzie had a shot at the #1 ranking too but she lost today. If Serena wins the gold (which I would put money on) she will become the new #2 and less than 5 points behind Ana. That would be nice as it would guarantee that ReRe and Ana would be in opposite draws for the Open.
Phew. Too much math. C Note tired now.
Overall the Ladies are looking good. My favorites are ReRe and Dani, though I have yet to see a nice clean shot of JJ's.
Jelena "Who's #1 Now?" Jankovic
Venus "But it goes to eleven" Williams
Dinara "I let my play do the talking" Safina
Elena "I'm Russian!!!" Dementieva
It all started at Queens. Nole was unhappy with his Adidas shoes on grass. Adidas couldn't get a proper grass court shoe to him in time for Wimbledon, so Nole wore blacked out Nike's. A bit of a blow to Mr. Dassler's company, don't you think?
Well now it looks like Nole might not wear the boring black and white Adidas Olympic collection at the Olympics. According to these practice pictures, he looks like he wants to keep the Serbian flag close to his heart and wear the official Serbian Kappa top:
But don't worry, Adidas. At least he's back to wearing your shoes!
UPDATED: While you were sleeping (and by "you" I mean "I"), Nole made his Olympic debut in the boring black and white Adidas wear. But maybe he'll rock the Serbia gear for doubles?
Here's the OOP for Monday. With only nine matches completed from Sunday, we've got ourselves a very full plate. For the most part, EVERYONE is in action.
One quick note: With Ana's withdrawal, the top quarter is completely open for Agi Radwanska. She's got a great opportunity to medal which would be great.
Play begins at 10:30pm ET. Let's get it on!
I don't think I've ever seen her this disconsolate in any other presser. The more I think about it, the more I realize how much the Olympics meant to Ana. She played Fed Cup matches while ill in order to qualify, she altered her US Open Series schedule to focus on the Olympics, and even when she could have participated in LA to protect her #1 ranking, she still sat out. And opposed to some players, she has publicly said that a gold medal would would mean just as much to her as a Grand Slam.
So yeah. Sad.
(Pics courtesy of Lana105 @
Tennis Forums Ana's Forums)
Rain washed out most of Sunday's schedule, with only a handful of matches finishing. No surprises in the results, though Kolya's easy win over Ernests did surprise me a little. The only result close to an upset was Tsvetana Pironkova's win over Marta Domachowska. In "News Only C-Note Cares About", Ski Boots Wozniaki won her first round match.
As for notable matches that were suspended, Serena is a set up and on serve in the second against Govortsova. Nikki V and Alize Cornet have split sets and are going into the third, and Dani Hantuchova is a up a set and a break on good buddy Ai Sugiyama. On the men's side, Disco Tommy is down 5-2 to Seppi.
The entire evening session was rained out so Fed,Kuz, and JJ didn't get to their matches.
Ana has withdrawn from Beijing due to that darn thumb and it's sounding much more serious than originally thought. She may have to completely immobilize the hand with a cast, which will obviously affect her preparation and participation in the US Open.
One issue of concern has been the fact that her camp has no idea what's wrong with her thumb. They thought it was soft tissue related, but the thumb hasn't been responding to treatment and they started to think it might be a bone issue. So this could have factored into the decision too. It's hard to compete with all your effort when you don't know what the injury is.
Here's hoping they can figure it out and treat it before the US Open. Is this another argument for tennis not being in the Olympics? Look at how many players are choosing not to threaten their US Open participation by withdrawing. The bottom line is that to tennis players, the Olympics aren't as big of a deal as Grand Slams. They try to convince themselves it is, but when all is said it done, it isn't. There's no way that Ana withdraws from a Grand Slam with pain in her thumb. She would play as many rounds as possible, at a minimum to earn rankings points. You don't think about tomorrow with Grand Slams. But with all other events, you do.
Anyway, I'm bummed. Not sure who to root for now.
UPDATED: Ok, so this picture? Kind of heartbreaking:
"It's one of the hardest moments in my career," she said. "I'm very, very disappointed." This should put to rest anyone's doubts (including mine) that (1) the decision to withdraw was extremely difficult and (2) the injury is serious. Baby Panda looks absolutely gutted.
UPDATED: From Ana's site:
Ana has been forced to withdraw from the Olympic Tennis Event due to the inflammation in her right thumb that has afflicted her for the past few weeks.
"This is the most disappointing moment in my career," said Ana. "A whole team of doctors have been helping me over the last 15 days or so but the improvement came too late. Yesterday I was able to hold my racket properly for the first time but I still have a lot of pain in my thumb. There's no way I can hit the ball.
"We did everything we could but we ran out of time. I will continue to have treatment from an osteopath and hopefully I will be ready for the U.S. Open.
"I would like to thank the medical team for their efforts, and for the many people who sent me messages of support. I'm sorry to all the people who were hoping to see me play at the Olympics, and represent my country there for the first time. It's so disappointing.
"The best way for me to get over this disappointment is to do well in New York."
UPDATED: According to her presser, the doctors have advised that she immobilize her hand. So Baby Panda is going to be rocking a cast? Sure, Ana will make the cast look sexy, but however will she hold Rafa's hand?
While we're waiting on JJ to make up her mind, more top players have withdrawn from the Olympics. Tatiana Golovin is still experience pain in her back and withdrew from both singles and doubles and Ivan Ljubicic has also withdrawn.
Golovin's withdrawal should make life a little bit easier for Baby Panda. Tati was a potential round 2 opponent.
Isn't it amazing? Two kids from a small war torn country, who randomly met when they were five years old, and who independently took up a totally random sport, now marching together at the Olympics as medal favorites. If you want to hear the story of how they met, watch this. It's remarkable.
And an awesome excuse to post adorable pictures of Ana and Nole through the years.
UPDATED: Video from Italian TV from their Adidas Olympic photo shoot. I have no idea what they're saying but it's still cute. If anyone speaks Italian, feel free to offer a translation in the comments!
Jelena Jankovic may have to pull out of the Olympics with a calf injury she sustained on Friday.
The Serbian said a sore right calf may prevent her from taking the court Sunday against Cara Black of Zimbabwe.
Regardless of whether Jankovic plays, she's assured of climbing from No. 2 to No. 1 in the new rankings Monday. She'll move ahead of another Serb, Ana Ivanovic, who has led the rankings since winning the French Open in June.
"Hopefully I will somehow be healthy and ready to play my best tennis," Jankovic said Saturday. "I don't know. I will see Sunday how everything will go. If I will not be able to do my best on the court, I will not go. I will not risk that."
Jankovic said the sore calf has forced her to curtail her practice routine. She said the injury stemmed from a torn meniscus in her left knee that bothered her at Wimbledon, where she lost in the fourth round.
"Because I had an injury on my left knee, my right leg was working so much harder," she said. "It was compensating. I was forcing the other muscles to work harder.
"I'm not in the best shape in the moment."
Let's make sure I understand this. When #1 was on the line, she played both LA and Montreal with a relatively severe knee injury. Now, she's assured of the #1 ranking on Sunday but she's thinking about withdrawing from the Olympics?
This is BS. I don't know what's going on in JJ's head. If she wants to stop the sound of screaming lambs, she needs to stop doing this crap and make rational, logical, sound decisions.
Here's the OOP for the first day of competition on Sunday. Fed, JJ, Blake, and ReRe are on the slate. Looks like Rafa, Ana, and Nole are scheduled for Monday. Which of course means I will get zero work done.
“We bother with the Olympics for the same reason that we continue to bother with life. We bother in the hope that they will get better and truer and not quite so relentlessly at odds with what we still like to think is the true meaning of sport. We go or tune in to the Olympics because — and curiously enough, on this occasion with the blessing of the spiritual leader of the oppressed Tibetans, the Dalai Lama — we know that we will see something that we will probably never forget and this is true even in the waiting and hoping that on some subsequent day or year it is not revealed to be a fraud.”
-- Journalist James Lawton, in response to the question, "Why do we bother with the Olympics"
Remember that special Olympics outfit Ana was super worried about? Yeah, here it is. She needs to stop reading my blog. She's taking this Baby Panda thing too far.
Really Adidas? Really? You have two of the premier tennis players in the world and you put them in that garb? I suppose they had to make neutral colors for their Olympic collection so that anyone could wear them, but why did they even bother asking Nole and Ana to wear them? I'd so rather see Nole look like a creamsicle than a Storm Trooper.
(Pics from Ana's Forums)
Whatever. She's still planning to play doubles though.
I randomly stumbled upon this blog, which from what I can gather, is put together by a number of athletes and coaches from a US swim club that are competing in Beijing. From one of the entries:
"We were eating yesterday (of course free McDonald's) and the entire DREAM TEAM walked in. I got too meet Lebron, Jason Kidd, Melo and Kobe. One hour later, I see Ana Ivanovic and Nadal just walking around the village!!!!!"
Dudes. Count it. That's FIVE exclamation points. That means it's for serious. That's in addition to this AFP report discussing their observations of Roger and Rafa in Beijing:
"The contrast between the two camps could not be more striking as Nadal joked with Ana Ivanovic and Tommy Robredo at Olympic Green while Federer stalked off to the showers."
It is still the official position of Forty Deuce that this is a totally innocent, yet rare, friendship between a WTA player and an ATP player. But it is curious...
Because it wouldn't be JJ without some added drama. It's being reported in the Serbian press that JJ has decided not to participate in tonight's opening ceremonies because of an injury she sustained during Friday morning's practice. Arm and shoulder injuries wouldn't keep you from marching. Leg and back injuries would. No word yet on what the injury is.
This is too bad. I was hoping to see her march and then, midway through, call for the trainer.
(Thanks to the posters at Tennis Forums for the sources.)
UPDATE: Apparently JJ did walk in the opening ceremonies. So she must have felt better.
JJ in wedding dresses. Just when you think you've seen it all and can't even imagine a more ridiculous photo spread concept, she comes up with this.
I'm sitting here shaking my head, shrugging, speechless. I'm tired of dumping on her but she just keeps doing crazy crap.
(Pics courtesy of TennisForums)
Pam Shriver has filed for divorce in Los Angeles Superior Court from her husband, George Lazenby. Yes, George Lazenby of 007 fame.
No funny jokes here. I don't laugh at divorce unless Britney is involved. But I had no idea that she was married to 007.
So Adidas released a "Special Edition" Barricade V for the Olympics. They look like this:
Yes, that's "Special Edition" Black and White. BBBBOOOOORRRRRIIIINNNNGGGG. Much like their Olympic collection.
But there's a catch. Apparently the soles look like this:
Thanks to Tennis Served Fresh for the head's up.
More player practice pics from Great Tennis Photos:
Pictures have been released of JJ's ads for Aqua Viva. Ana used to be Aqua Viva's spokesperson before that contract ended and she chose not to renew. So they picked up JJ.
And forced her to do these cheesy promo shots.
Seriously? In what situation do you agree to do the splits while holding your tennis racquet in order to schill some water?
Did the Aqua Viva marketing department run out of ideas? Here's Ana's commercial from a couple of years ago.
Baby Panda can shoot some hoops!
This competition is tough one to predict because there are just too many questions for both sides right now.
Questions on the Men: What will Fed's form be? Is Rafa out of steam? Will Rafa's limitations on hard courts finally knock him down? How will Nole deal with last week's loss in Cincy? How will Nole deal with the conditions? Can Andy continue his run?
Questions on the Women: Who's injury free and who isn't? How is Ana's thumb? How's Serena's knee? Can JJ deal with the added pressure of having to perform under the scrutiny of #1? How much is left in Dinara's tank?
Fed's Quarter: He's got a tricky draw that should see him come through, but then again, who knows with his form these days. First round sees him up against the solid-on-hard-court Tursonov and he's got a potential second round rematch with either big serving Dr. Ivo. or Athens nightmare Tomas Berdych. On the other side of his quarter are James Blake and Gilles Simon. Like I said, he should make it through, but who knows? I'll pick Fed to get through, but my dark horse is Simon.
Ferrer's Quarter: David Ferrer and Kolya are both in this draw but Kolya will get dumped early, very likely in his first round match with Ernests Gulbis. Gonzo and Janko are also in this quarter. This draw in particular is a crapshoot. I really want to see Ernests make a run here and he has the game to do it. Whether he has the focus is another issue. I'm going to go with Ernests to get out of this quarter.
Rafa's Quarter: The draw isn't doing the future #1 any favors and he has the toughest road of all the top seeds. Not only is the surging Andy Murray there, but also Igor Andreev, Lleyton Hewitt, and Radek Stepanek. Andy Murray should have an easy go until he potentially meets Rafa in the quarters. Either way, I pick Murray.
Nole's Quarter: If Nole can endure the heat and smog, he should come through to meet either Rafa or Muzza in the semis. The other top seed is David Headbandian, who is coming off injury and I doubt he will be on form. He could have a tricky matchup with Kei Nishikori in the second round. I'm really worried about his fitness in these conditions, but I'll go with my boy Nole.
Semifinals: Fed vs.Gulbis, Andy vs. Nole
Gold Medal Match: Fed vs. Andy
Gold Medal: Andy
Bronze Medal: Nole
Ana's Quarter: Who knows how Ana's thumb will hold up. That's the big question mark for this quarter. If it's feeling even 80% she should be able to breeze to the semis. There's a potentially tricky matchup with Tati Golovin in the second round, but she's coming off injury and I doubt that she'll be match fit. The biggest obstacle will be Agi Radwanska, who could run Ana all over the court and force her to go for winners in order to shorten the rallies. One of those two will come out of this quarter, but since I'm an Ana fan, I'm going with her.
Serena's Quarter: This is a potentially a tough quarter for Serena, who is coming off the knee injury that forced her out of Stanford. Who knows where she's at. In addition, she'll have to deal with Nicole Vaidisova, but no one ever knows which Nikki will show up. Athens silver medalist Lena D. waits on the otherside. She got dumped out of Montreal in the first round by eventual runner-up Domi Cibulkova.
JJ's Quarter: Just like Rafa, the draw is not kind to the future #1. She has by far the toughest draw. Dinara waits on the other side and you'd be stupid to bet against her to make it through her section easily, though Lindsay could meet her in the second round, and hometown favorite Zheng Zie could meet her in the quarterfinals. As for JJ, she should have some easy matches until the third round rematch with Cibulkova. It doesn't matter though. I put my money on Dinara to get out of this quarter.
Kuzzie's Quarter: Other than a tricky first round match with Li Na (never underestimate the Chinese on home soil), Kuzzie should make it through to the quarters easily. She showed good form in Montreal and it seems that her knee injury wasn't bothering her. On the other side of the quarter is Venus, who hasn't played a match (other than World Team Tennis) since Wimbledon. I put my money on Kuzzie beating Venus in the quarters.
Semifinals: Ana vs. Serena, Dinara vs. Kuzzie
Gold Medal Match: Serena vs. Dinara
Gold Medal: Serena
Bronze Medal: Ana
All this being said, with so many unknown factors this really is a crapshoot. Given the conditions, it would not shock me if a Gilles Simon or an Agi Radwanska won the whole thing.
From Ana's Diary entry posted on her site today:
"The humidity here is incredible, it's like 100%! It creates a haze that makes it hard to even see! I had practice at 10am this morning and they had to turn the lights on because it’s so foggy you can’t see across the court! It’s going to be very tough conditions during the matches.
Unfortunately my thumb is still painful and I cannot practice. I am still having laser treatment on it, but it’s very frustrating, not being able to prepare as I would like. I just hope it heals very soon.
My bags got lost again! It was a bit of a worry because I have a special Olympics outfit to wear, but luckily they arrived today. Security here is very high so there was a delay in receiving them after they had been located."
I hope it's a special Olympics outfit and not a Special Olympics outfit.
Too easy? Sorry.
"It's hot here, so I really don't need my pajamas."
-- Rafa Nadal, in response to questions regarding his lost luggage. Rafa is sharing a room at the Athlete's Village with Tommy Robredo.
ReRe does not look pleased. See Ana, THAT's how normal people look when they get off 15+ hour plane trips.
And did I just catch a litle Kung Fu Fighting from Venus? Awkward....
Lindsay D. has also touched down. Team USA flew in together out of San Jose.
Giant Killer Tamira Pazcek seems a little bitter she wasn't chosen for the Austrian National Team, even though he ranking qualified her under ITF rules. In an interview, she said that she's considering becoming a Brasilian national. Pazsek has long trained in Brasil and her coach, Larry Passos, is Brasilian.
What's that I hear? Is it the sound of the LTA helicopters descending on Lil Ms. Pascek's home for an immediate extraction?
(Pics courtesy of GreatTennisPhotos.com -- Follow the link for more pics!)
Girl, it's 100 degrees and humid. Why in the world are you wearing your boyfriend's XL t-shirt to practice.
Speaking of the weather (and in further validation of what I've been saying all along) here's a report on how the weather and pollution are affecting the tennis players:
TOP tennis stars are lining up to complain about the soaring heat, humidity and the pollution in Beijing.
With big-name players sweating through practices in sauna conditions, the temperature -- and overhanging smog -- have been the main talking points at the open-air Olympic Green Tennis Centre.
Incoming world number one Rafael Nadal, dripping with sweat during a practice match with Fernando Gonzalez, accidentally broke a racquet when it slipped out of his hand on serve.
Women's number two Ana Ivanovic appeared exhausted during a work-out, doubling up on court to catch her breath.
And players beaded with perspiration have been towelling off and drinking gallons of liquid as they go through their routines in the oppressive heat.
Gonzalez, who is bidding to defend his doubles title with Nicolas Massu, admitted conditions were extremely difficult with temperatures of up to 34 deg C (93 deg F) and unpalatable smog.
"The conditions are really tough with the pollution and it's really hot. We don't have too many days to adapt so I hope to be much better than today,'' he said.
Slovakian beauty Daniela Hantuchova said she had never experienced such heat.
"It's tough. It's maybe the hottest weather I've experienced,'' she said. "Hopefully it can cool down.''
Meanwhile Australia's Samantha Stosur said conditions were "pretty rough'' and among the most difficult all season.
"It is very hot and very humid and the sun isn't even out yet so I'm sure it will probably only get worse from here,'' Stosur said.
"It is unpredictable and probably the hottest conditions we are going to play in all year.''
The heat and humidity of a Beijing summer, along with chronic pollution, have been major concerns for participants in the Beijing Games, which open on Friday.
Many athletes arriving in the Chinese capital have expressed concern about air quality, including four members of the US cycling team who wore masks as they emerged from the city's airport.
On Wednesday, much of the Games complex was just a blur from Olympic Green, just over two kilometres (a mile and a half) away.
Not good to hear veteran players complain about the heat and Baby Panda already wheezing. Does anyone ever remember seeing a match where Ana seemed like she couldn't catch her breath? Disconcerting to say the least.
UPDATED: I'm thinking Ana's borrowing Scott's shirt. Which makes my prior "boyfriend" comment kinda weird. Unlike the Serbian media, I don't think there's anything going on with those two.
Lastly, I just wanted to post this picture because doesn't it look like she was just sitting there and someone (maybe Rafa) sarcastically/jokingly said "Hey, nice shirt."
Following in Maria's footsteps, Mario Ancic has withdrawn from the US Open. But that's not the bad news. The bad news is that he is suffering from a recurrence of the mono that knocked him out last year.
After much discussion with loyal Forty Deuce commenter chuppachup, for the next two weeks Baby Elephant will be taking a backseat to Baby Panda, in honor of the Olympics. Admittedly, this change is primarily for comedic purposes, as I can get a heck of a lot more mileage out of panda jokes in Beijing.
Well she'll be the most entertaining #1, that's for sure.
Poor Jelena. It's not her fault the WTA's ranking system is set up the way it is. It's not her fault that Justine Henin retired. And it's not her fault that Ana, Maria, and Serena keep losing early in tournaments.
Now, Tennis.com did a fantastic job crunching the numbers to actually prove, quantitatively, that JJ truly is the weakest #1 in history. Identifying the trend of recent #1s capturing the spot with so few points, the article, instead of simply falling into the slew of WTA bashing articles that have been popping up lately, looks to explain the trend. And the explanation is absolutely, 100%, dead on:
REASONS BEHIND THE TREND
Clearly, it’s taking less and less to outpace the field on the women’s tour these days. Why?
1. Justine Henin’s retirement
It’s a short-term aberration, but the sudden retirement of the world’s top player in April has had a very real and direct impact on the rankings. Even if Henin hadn’t played between her shock announcement in April and now, she would have stayed No. 1 till the week after next.
Ironically, that's also when Jankovic is likely to drop back down to No. 2 or 3. So it's unequivocally true that all else being equal, the Serb would not be No. 1 next week had Henin not retired. Ana Ivanovic would also still be waiting for a chance at the top spot.
2. Increased depth (yes, it’s real)
Ten years ago, a player who could hit solidly off both wings from the baseline could be assured of a reasonable future on the tour. Now, there are scores of young Eastern Europeans and a smattering of canny veterans all capable of doing that and more, and top players are no longer blowing others off the court in match after match. As the Williams sisters demonstrated at the French Open and Ivanovic and Sharapova at Wimbledon, even the early rounds of Grand Slams now bring players capable of knocking off a rusty top seed.
As a result, it’s hard for a single competitor to dominate the way the likes of Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles and even Martina Hingis did. Now, someone like Jankovic, who keeps piling up semifinals and quarterfinals, can keep pace with the scattered up-and-down results of the big-time winners.
3. Injuries and retirements
Injuries have prevented most of the top players from playing a full schedule over the last few years, giving someone like the tireless Jankovic an even bigger edge in piling up ranking points. And a spate of retirements – Clijsters, Hingis, Henin, Myskina – have helped clear the way for younger players to move up.
4. The ranking system itself
In an effort to encourage players to play more, the WTA ranking system has increasingly rewarded quantity over quality.
Points are now are calculated not by averaging a player’s total results but adding together her best results. As a result, there’s no cost to playing extra events – losing in the first round would bring down your average under the old system, but under the new system and you can simply drop your lowest score as long as you play more than 18 events. Jankovic, who has played 23 events over the past year compared to 14 for Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, has much more padding in her points total than either of the two past Australian Open champions.
The benchmark for an average schedule has also increased from 12 events in 1995 to 14 in 1996 to 17 today. It is scheduled to drop back to 16 under next year’s Roadmap changes. Finally, the decision two years ago to stop awarding extra points for defeating top players has shifted the emphasis away from quality and towards the sheer ability to notch wins (against anyone). The Roadmap will next year severely restrict where top players can play and should result in more match-ups between them, but it doesn’t offer any extra boost for rising youngsters or the tour’s giant-killers.
I highly recommend you read the entire article. They really did their homework and did the story justice. Props to them!