There were a lot of people doubting whether Ana could pull off the win against an in-form Bepa. Ana struggled mightily yesterday against Agi, while Bepa bageled and breadsticked Mono. A poll over on Tennis Forums showed the vast majority of folks believing Vera would win, probably in 2 sets. And given AI's form over the past few months, you couldn't blame them.
But if there is one weird quirk about Ana, it's that she gets up to play top players. Sure, she may lose to qualifiers and lower ranked players, but if you're in the top 10, a switch gets flicked and she dials in. It's like clockwork. She destroyed Bepa 62 61.
Ana was just solid today. She played just as aggressively as she needed to without taking stupid chances. The forehand was clicking, the backhand was solid, she came to the net when necessary, and her serve was clicking, notably because she was taking something off the first serve and just making sure it went it. Bet the game plan worked.
Poor Bepa. As well as Ana played, Bepa didn't make her work for it. 30+ unforced errors is embarassing in a final. That said, I do think Bepa's sub-par performance is due to Ana. Someone over at TennisWorld was saying that Ana didn't so much win this match as Bepa handed it to her. I always get annoyed when people do this, take away from one player's accomplishments by saying the other player didn't show up. In this case, Bepa's failure to execute is obviously linked to Ana's early form. The way Baby E shot out of the gate, Bepa had to realize that she had to go for more than what she was used to. It's the same mentality as when you play JJ, or Serena, or Venus. The crap you're hitting keeps coming back and with interest, so you go for too much and bang an UFE. For lot of the top players, they're already in your head before you step on the court.
But enough with the negative. Ana won!!!
As for Roger this was a solid tournament for him. He was tested early in the tourney by a few no-names, but when push came to shove (just like Ana) he stepped it up with some quality wins. Today he beat an in-form Nalby, 64 63, in a very high quality match wherein The Mighty Fed reared his head and showed his hometown why he is (to me inarguably) the GOAT. Absolutely beautful tennis.
The Muzzah train just keeps on going, as he successfully defended his St. Pete's title and wins back to back titles. Can he three peat in Paris? That would be impressive and to be honest, I wouldn't rule it out.
And Lena had a pretty epic struggle against Ski Boots, finally winning the third set 76(6). I'm bummed Ski Boots couldn't pull it out, but this type of match is just what Lena needed to tune up for the YECs. But did she know she would be winning a trophy that looked like a vagina? Probably best if they didn't tell her that.
The Luxembourg semis mirrored the Linz semis, with one player having a easy run, and the other grinding it out. Lena D had no problems taking care of Sorana Cirstea, winning 62 62. Ski Boots had to fight off the always pesky Na Li, but finally came through, 76(1) 36 62. This is Caro's second final of the month.
Sandra Harwitt pretty much sums up everyone's thoughts on Kuzzie and the status of her game and her career. She lacks confidence and conviction and she has a power game but tries to play a clay court game. Hopefully the change in coach and her move back to Russia will give her a more offensive style of play.
But did Sandra really need to call her ugly?
Flava Flav and Goth Bols will be teaming up for The Hopman Cup in January. They'll join The Cone and Commodus, Fosters Dellaqua and Lleyton, Dinara and Marat, Lisicki and Colin Farrell Kiefer, and Hrbaty and Domi. One more team will be announced at the draw on October 28, and it's expected to be from the US. The last spot will go to the winner of the Asian Hopman Cup, which will take place in Khazakstan in early November.
What, no representation from England, Argentina, Switzerland, Spain, and Serbia? Bummer.
Apparently the French crowd was going nuts during Gilly's match, whistling, screaming, throwing crap on the court. I wonder if that gets into your head as the home player, like, you get kind of embarrassed and feel bad.
*Quick Explanation: Tennis Channel did a Bag Check with Julien Bennetaeu last year and he pulled out these French apricot energy bars and was like "Sometimes I can eat two or three during a match, sometimes I eat one, sometimes I eat none." That always cracked me up for some reason.
Two very different roads to the finals, but hey, a final it is. Bepa manhandled a very exhausted Mono, 60 62. Bepa is playing with such confidence and conviction, it's really great to see. For whatever reason, I've always had a soft spot for her, so I'm psyched she's officially qualified for Doha.
As for Ana, it was a typical Ana. Absolutely on fire in the first set, let down in the second set, and a grind out third set. She served horribly throughout the match (37% in the first set!) but when it counted in the third set and she absolutely had to hold, she didn't miss a first serve. No doubt she's going to need to pick it up against Bepa. Agi also deserves some props. This is the best I've seen her play since Eastbourne. Hopefully she uses the off season to work on her fitness. She needs to get stronger.
One more note about the Ana/Agi match. Why, oh why, can Ana not play aggressively ALL THE TIME. There were flashes of that killer/angry instinct and then something would go wrong and she'd get distracted and have a let down. Also, Ana had some great net play in the first and second set, but then she got tenative and stayed on the baseline in the third. I have a feeling that of all the top players, Ana will benefit the most from on-court coaching next year.
Too bad, James, but your chances for Shanghai aren't looking great. Then again, I'm not losing sleep over that because if anyone were to ask me who the top 8 players have been this year, I'm not sure you even crack the top 12. So as Virgania Hortson would say, "See ya later, sucker."
Blah Blah's chances were dashed by the serve and volleying FeLo, who upset the #4 seed, 64 76(7).
Other than that upset, the top three seeds, Fed, Nalby, and JMDP are all through.
Tomorrow's Semfinal Lineup and OOP:
JMDP vs. Nalby (NB 14.45 hrs)
FeLo vs. Fed
Man, I really thought it was going to be more competitive than that. Lena D. handed Momo a bagel in Luxembourg, beating her easily in straight sets, 64 60. Lena will face Cirstea (yay!) who beat SuperGirl (boo!), 76(2) 62. Tough loss for Dani, as it would have been nice to see her in a semifinal again. But congrats to my girl Sorana!
Speaking of my favorite young guns, Ski Boots is into the semifinals, bucking up and closing out Garrigues 61 76(7). She'll face JJ's BFF, Na Li, who beat Benesova 64 46 62. Na Li has so much talent, but her scorelines always scream "HEADCASE".
Here's your OOP for the semis:
1. Lena vs. Cirstea (14.30hrs)
2. Ski Boots vs. Na Li
Kidding about the headline, though I do think Agi wins if that's the metric.
Two very nice wins for Ana and Agi today. Ana beat Flava Flav in straight sets, 64 64, and she played some quality tennis on the way. She was moving very well, moving to the net, and both wings were clicking (did you see those BH DTLs in the set?). That toss though. Oof. Girl, you really need to invest in the Toss Assist. That being said, Baby E is looking pretty good heading into Doha.
As for Agi, she had a pretty routine over Nads, 63 62. This sets up a fun semifinal matchup between these two, who met for the first time here in Linz two years ago. Ana came out on top 62 62.
Here are some highlights from that match. Tremendous shot making from Ana:
Ana and Agi will be the second semifinal tomorrow. First up, Mono vs. Bepa. Play begins at 14.00hrs local time.
Here's a quick Shanghai update based on yesterday's results. JMDP jumped to #7, pushing Daveed down to #8. If Gilly wins today, he'll move to #8 and Daveed will move to #9.
Heartbreakers, both of you! Both Marat and Ernie lost in St. Petersberg yesterday. But it's not even about them losing. It's about how they played. Their quality just wasn't there and it's so frustrating because we all know they're better than this. But to get repeatedly dumped out early at these tournaments is just getting so exasperating.
Of course, Ernie had a bit of an excuse as he was playing the pasty white hot Muzzah, losing 4 and 2. I totally agree with the commenters who have said that he needs to play challenger tournaments to get his ranking up so that he's not facing the top seeds in the early rounds. Something tells me Ernie's not that driven though.
As for Marat. Really? Losing 4 and 2 to a qualifier I've never heard of (Gobulev)?
Nice abs though. Yum!
Remaining scores from St. Petes:
J Tipsarevic (SRB) d J Chardy (FRA) 64 76(3)
V Hanescu (ROU) d [Q] M Kukushkin (KAZ) 63 76(7)
[Q] M Zverev (GER) d  M Youzhny (RUS) 75 64
Quarterfinal lineup and OOP:
Tabasco v. Old Man Rainer
Golubev v. Zverev
Tipsy v. Murray
Hanescu v. Elgin (17.00 hrs on Court 1)
Play starts at 15.00hrs.
Can Tipsy get himself up for a showdown with Muzzah? Let's hope so. I just want to see a good match.
 A Roddick (USA)d R Ginepri (USA) 76(5) 76(3)
S Darcis (BEL) d  R Gasquet (FRA) 64 36 76(5)
 J Tsonga (FRA) d F Santoro (FRA) 62 57 63
 G Simon (FRA) d A Seppi (ITA) 76(5) 57 64
 R Soderling (SWE) d [Q] C Rochus (BEL) 61 62
J Ferrero (ESP) d  P Mathieu (FRA) 64 61
Quarterfinal lineup and OOP:
A Rod v. The Evil One
Simon v. Ouanna
Ferrero v. Tsonga
Benneteau v. Darcis
Play starts at 14.00hrs
During Tennis Channel's broadcast of the Pennetta/Garrigues semi in Zurich, Corina Morariu said that Lindsay would be joining them in Doha to help with the commentating duties.
This could get interesting. Lindsay's never hidden her lack of fondness for our current #1 and she obviously loves the Williamses and Baby E. I would love to hear her do the color commentary for her one of JJ's matches. Colorful, indeed.
So Momo is blogging from Luxembourg. I have always considered her to be a pretty contemplative, serious, person. But this had me rolling:
Lena and Momo will duke it out tomorrow in the quarterfinals of Luxembourg after both had easy wins over Dulko and Groenefeld, respectively. Momo seems to be trying to figure out whether she wants to put the work in to continue to compete at the top level or whether to just retire. Tomorrow's match could be quite the barometer for her.
Quarterfinal lineup and order of play:
Li Na vs. Benesova
Dani H vs. Cirstea
Garrigues vs. Ski Boots
Lena vs. Momo
Play starts at 13.00 local time.
It was a good day be a seed in Basel, as the top four seeds emerged scathed but victorious. Fed needed two tiebreak sets to beat Jarkko, JMDP steamrolled Bohli in straight sets, and Nalby and Blah both needed three tight sets to notch their wins.
Quarterfinal lineup and tomorrow's OOP:
Becker v. Nalby
Andreev v. JMDP
Blake vs. FeLo
Fed vs. Bolleli
Matches start at 13.00 local time.
This is clearly the marquee matchup in Linz tomorrow, as both Ana and Flavs won their matches in straight sets. Flavs dispatched of Domi pretty quickly, 63 61, and Ana struggled a little in the first set of her match against Bammer, but pulled it all together for a very solid 64 62 win. A loss to Flavs wouldn't shock me, but a win would so so so encouraging.
It would have been a perfect day for the seeds but Peppermint Patty was upset by A-Bond in three sets. So tomorrow's quarterfinal lineup (and order of play) is as follows:
1. A.Radwanska vs. Petrova
2. Cornet vs. Zvonareva
3. Ivanovic vs. Pennetta
4. Bartoli vs. A.Bondarenko
First match starts at 14.00 local time.
UPDATED: FYI, if you click on the videos and watch them on YouTube as opposed to embedded here, you have the option of watching it in "high quality", which isn't really high quality, but it's definitely better than watching it here.
So I FINALLY figured out a way to get my videos from Indian Wells onto my computer. Sorry about the poor quality. It's ironic because the videos were actually shot in HD, but the combination of my camcorder and my laptop won't let me upload it in any better quality. It's a shame, I know. But better something rather than nothing.
Baby E checks out Tsonga:
Baby E practicing:
Apparently the WTA isn't done fiddling with the tour schedule, and if they think the top ladies are pissed now, wait until they see the reaction if these plans come to pass. According to Matt Cronin at TennisReporters.net:
I don't really understand the logic here. If you want to increase sponsorship money then you have to guarantee that top players play, right? Ok, that's all fine and good, but what if the top players are getting dumped out early at tourneys because you're giving them no recover? No byes? That's pretty stupid, especially when you line up back to back tournaments.
If you want a tournament to be successful and make money you have to not only ensure that the top players play but also that they stick around and get deep in tournaments. It's great if Masha, Ana, Serena, and Dinara are the top four seeds at the tourney. But if the final is between Srebotnik and Azarenka, I guarantee you you're going to have problems selling tickets
Blah is still in the hunt for a ticket to Shanghai and his comeback win against Colin Farrell Kiefer was a good start. It wasn't easy, he had to come back from a set down, but a win is a win. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for The Sockless Wonder, who lost in two tight sets to FeLo, 76(9) 64.
Other Basel scores:
 I Andreev (RUS) d P Kohlschreiber (GER) 76(6) 67(0) 75
[Q] B Becker (GER) d [LL] A Beck (GER) 36 63 64
[Q] K Vliegen (BEL) d [WC] P Petzschner (GER) 62 63
J Nieminen (FIN) d E Schwank (ARG) 62 64
M Granollers (ESP) d M Baghdatis (CYP) 62 46 62
Vliegen v. Nalby (13.00hrs)
Blake v. Hernadez
Bohli v JMDP
Federer v Niemenen
Granollers v. Bolleli (14.00hrs on Court 1)
Over in Russia, Marat and Muzzah were victorious in straight sets, and with Kolya's withdrawal because of injury, Marat's chances of making another Russian final are quite good. But who ever knows with CrazySexyLosesHisCool.
Other St. Pete's scores:
 F Verdasco (ESP) d [WC] K Lejnieks (LAT) 61 63
R Schuettler (GER) d D Hrbaty (SVK) 63 63
[Q] A Golubev (KAZ) d O Rochus (BEL) 61 64
Safin v. Gobulev (17.00hrs)
Murray v. Gulbis
Zverev v. Youzhny
Tipsy v. Chardy (17.00hrs on Court 1)
Kukushkin v. Hanescu (Court 1)
Finally, over in Lyon, I am going to have to start calling Gilly "The Cardiac Kid." Dude just cannot win a first set to save his life. Once again, it was an unnecessarily drawn out affair, but Gilly came out on top over Juan Monaco, 26 64 61. Again, a win is a win, but dude? Your wee little body cannot take this for much longer.
Other Lyon scores:
J Benneteau (FRA) d  T Robredo (ESP) 62 62
[WC] J Ouanna (FRA) d N Lapentti (ECU) 63 16 63
 R Soderling (SWE) d [Q] T Ascione (FRA) 64 61
 P Mathieu (FRA) d G Canas (ARG) 63 64
[Q] C Rochus (BEL) d G Muller (LUX) 62 64
Roddick v. Ginepri (12.00hrs)
Darcis v. Gasquet
Simon v. Seppi
Santoro v. Tsonga
Mattieu v. Ferrero
Rochus v. Soderling (12.00hrs on Court 1)
Maria Kirilenko is quite the conundrum. Well, I guess the Cone is kinda nutso too. But seriously, Lil Masha, winning the first set 61 and then losing the match 16 62 61? That's not right. I'm so curious to know what the hail happened.
Otherwise, a pretty uneventful day in Linz. A-Rad beat Kanepi in straight sets, Flava Flav beat Agnes in straights, and in the two marginally surprising results, Mama Bammer beat Tranny and Kvitova dusted homegirl Tamira Paszek.
Over in Luxembourg, Chakky failed to even match Baby Ana's result from yesterday, failing to take a set off Benesova and losing listlessly in straight sets, 62 64. And thus ends Chakky's horrible year. Here's again hoping she gets it together. Other than Chakky, all the seeds came through, with Dani scoring a nice win over Lisiki 60 62, and Ski Boots, Na Li, Cirstea, and Momo also winning.
So, OOP for Thursday, where the top seeds in both tourneys will be in action (Ana and Lena):
Centre Court (from 14.00hrs)
1. Llagostera Vives vs. Zvonareva
2. Cibulkova vs. Pennetta
3. Ivanovic vs. Bammer (NB 16.00hrs)
4. Srebotnik vs. Petrova
5. A.Bondarenko vs. Schnyder (NB 20.15hrs)
Show Court (from 14.00hrs)
1. Bartoli vs. Kvitova
1. Medina Guerrigues vs. Castano (12.30hrs)
2. Dementieva vs. Dulko
3. Groenefeld vs. Mauresmo
I'm not shy about my general apathy towards The Might Fed (Crazy Eyez Fed, now THAT's another story). But I also admit that what started as actually dislike of him has somehow morphed into a begrudging rooting for him, as he's had to endure a lot this year and he's shown his character as an athlete time after time. No doubt, he's shown such courage and guts and I've been more impressed by that than by his 23494 Grand Slam trophies and what not.
Seems that I'm not alone in this. Kamashi Tandon writes a nice piece about a very similar phenomenon that has happened in Fed's own backyard.
In the past, it had been puzzling to see the national lack of response to Federer, who was rapidly establishing himself as one of the world's biggest and most beloved sporting celebrities.
In 2005, after winning this third Wimbledon and defending his U.S. Open title, Federer was named European Sportsman of the Year and Laureus World Sportsman of the Year, but was passed over for Swiss Sportsman of the Year in favor of 19-year-old motorcyclist Tom Luthi.
In 2006, two weeks after he won his ninth Grand Slam at the U.S. Open, Federer's Davis Cup appearance in a home tie against Serbia failed to sell out, and organizers had to reduce the capacity of the 5,780-seat stadium in Geneva.
But there is no more taking him for granted. "I think people in Switzerland have realized that nothing is forever," Stauffer said. "When you're 27, you can stop playing like [Bjorn] Borg did or you can stop winning Grand Slams like [John] McEnroe did.
"Federer is human. He's not just a winning machine. That's really I think the big realization this year."
As Daft Punk would say, "Human after all."
Steve Tignor weighs in on the surprisingly inevitable case of Rafa's year end #1 ranking and the curious case of JJ's clinching of the year end #1.
Now is the time for Jankovic to change her approach and pressure herself to beat the best players at the biggest tournaments. Will she? Watching her win three events over the past month, I've begun to think that earning the top ranking has both helped Jankovic's confidence and made her more ambitious. She hasn't seemed satisfied reaching semis and finals. For the first time, she's been willing to leave her defensive, ultra-consistent comfort zone to win those matches. Becoming No. 1, oddly enough, might just be a stepping-stone in Jankovic's career. Let's hope so, because the WTA needs hungry young stars.
Nadal's year-end No. 1 status, on the other hand, is the summit of a four-year journey full of grinding and grunting, brutally bashed ground strokes and nonstop running. If Jankovic has, for now, slightly diminished the significance of the WTA's top spot, Nadal has elevated the men's version. In his four-year reign at No. 1, Federer made being the best player in the world look effortless. Nadal -- with his tenacity, clay-court dominance and mental fortitude that allowed him to beat Federer in a heart-wrenching fifth set at Wimbledon -- has shown how much effort it really does take to be the best in tennis today. As Federer himself said when Nadal took over at No.1, "Look what he had to achieve to get it. … That's what I like to see."
I couldn't agree more with Steve's assessment of JJ and perhaps it goes to my general annoyance with JJ. As I've written in the past, JJ just seemed happy to be there, happy to finally be achieving a level of success that she never thought she could. After all, she was on the brink of retirement in 2006. But now there is a seriousness of intent in JJ's attitude and demeanor, and I don't see as much "Well, I tried the best I could, I'm happy with the result" contentment that she's had in years past. She's becoming more ambitious, and if she continues with that, you might be able to chalk me up as a bona fide fan.
Might, people. I said MIGHT.
Apparently out due to a wrist injury. I'll be honest, I wouldn't mind if he was out of Shanghai, too. That sure would help Commodus' chances of making it.
UPDATED: More from the Linz Player Party
I love tournament Wednesdays. That's when all hell breaks loose and you have fun matchups. Today is no exception. A-Rad, SuperGirl, Ski Boots, Commodus, Marat, and Muzzah are all in action. Matches I'll be paying attention to: Szavay/Pennetta, Cornet/Kirilenko, Andreev/ PEHM, and FeLo/Fish.
1. A.Radwanska vs. Kanepi (14.00hrs)
2. Szavay vs. Pennetta
3. Bammer vs. Schiavone
4. Paszek vs. Kvitova
5. Cornet vs. Kirilenko (NB 20.15hrs)
Center Court (12.30hrs)
1. Groenefeld v. Wickmayer
2. Benesova v. Chakvetadze
3. Peng v. Wozniaki
4. Hantuchova v. Lisiki
5. Gehrlein v. Mauresmo
Court 1 (12.30hrs)
1. Na Li v. Koryttseva
2. Medina Guerigues v. Ruano Pascal
3. Errani v. Cirstea
Center Court (13.30hrs)
1. Andreev vs Kohlschreiber
2. Granollers vs Baghdatis
3. J Blake vs Kiefer
4. F Lopez vs Fish
Court 1 (13.00hrs)
1. Vliegen vs Petzschner
2. Becker vs Beck
3. Schwank vs Nieminen
Center Court (15.00hrs)
1. Verdasco vs Lejnieks
2. Murray vs Troicki
3. Safin vs Stakhovsky
Court 1 (15.00hrs)
1. Golubev vs O Rochus
2. Schuettler vs D Hrbaty
Center Court (12.00hrs)
1. Ascione vs Soderling
2. Mathieu vs Canas
3. Robredo vs Benneteau
4. Simon vs Monaco
5. Ouanna vs Lapentti
Court 1 (12.00 hrs)
1. Rochus vs Muller
No major upsets today, though the top seeds in each tourney had a pretty tough go. Fed needed three sets to dispatch Bobby Reynolds, Nads and Mono needed three sets in Linz, Lena had to endure a tiebreaker in the first set in Luxembourg, and Reeshie and Jo needed three sets in Lyon.
Petrova d. K. Bondarenko 36 63 61
Bartoli d. Sugiyama 64 26 76(8)
Cibulkova d. Meusburger 64 62
Kirilenko d. Savchuk 62 75
Bondarenko d. Makarova 63 63
Llagostera Vives d. Stosur 26 64 62
Dementieva d. Malek 76(5) 62
Cirstea d. Fedak 46 62 62
Benesova d. Robson 16 62 63
Wozniaki d. Bacsinszky 62 63
Koryttseva d. Pironkova 36 63 63
Dulko d. Garbin 64 62
Castano d. Domachowska 60 62
 R Federer (SUI) d B Reynolds (USA) 63 67(6) 63
 D Nalbandian (ARG) d A Montanes (ESP) 64 62
 J Del Potro (ARG) d [Q] G Bastl (SUI) 62 64
S Bolelli (ITA) d  T Berdych (CZE) 64 75
[LL] A Beck (GER) d N Devilder (FRA) 64 64
P Kohlschreiber (GER) d D Gremelmayr (GER) 64 76(5)
O Hernandez (ESP) d [Q] L Dlouhy (CZE) 76(6) 67(5) 61
[WC] S Bohli (SUI) d J Acasuso (ARG) 63 62
 N Davydenko (RUS) d C Guccione (AUS) 64 64
 F Verdasco (ESP) d [Q] T Gabashvili (RUS) 16 64 63
 M Youzhny (RUS) d I Navarro (ESP) 62 61
[Q] M Kukushkin (KAZ) d  M Cilic (CRO) 76(4) 46 76(6)
J Chardy (FRA) d  M Ancic (CRO) 64 36 64
E Gulbis (LAT) d G Garcia-Lopez (ESP) 60 62
J Tipsarevic (SRB) d P Starace (ITA) 63 76(4)
[WC] M Elgin (RUS) d F Volandri (ITA) 64 64
[WC] K Lejnieks (LAT) d [WC] A Kudryavtsev (RUS) 36 76(1) 63
[Q] M Zverev (GER) d F Serra (FRA) 64 62
 A Roddick (USA) d N Mahut (FRA) 76(5) 64
 R Gasquet (FRA) d [Q] S Giraldo (COL) 57 63 76(3)
 J Tsonga (FRA) d M Gicquel (FRA) 75 46 63
N Lapentti (ECU) d  I Karlovic (CRO) 76(4) 63
F Santoro (FRA) d F Fognini (ITA) 64 61
A Seppi (ITA) d [Q] D Guez (FRA) 62 75
R Ginepri (USA) d [WC] S Grosjean (FRA) 67(4) 64 64
"I think she's great, she has so much potential and she's only 14 and hits the ball really, really hard. She won Wimbledon juniors and has also played against some WTA players before and is obviously getting more experience. I think she's definitely one to look for. I think she just needs to be determined and motivated to keep improving and not get satisfied with what she has, but I had a chance to meet her and she seems very professional for her age, very determined and a very nice girl, so I think she's going the right way."
Apparently this is Baby E's new dress. It's not from the Edge line but from the Adilibria line, which Ana has been endorsing more and more lately (that's the training stuff she wears during her Adidas workout videos).
This is a hot mess. First, there's no color contrast. At all. Second, let's face it, our Baby E has no boobs. So the asymetrical single-boob showcase? Yeah, that's not going to look great. The only thing I like about this dress is the bottom and the color, though I'm not convinced that shade will look good on her. But the dress will also come in Cyan, which was the color of her AO dress.
And thanks to Ratazana for the head's up.
UPDATED: Added the Blue one, which actually doesn't look as bad for some reason. But the asymetrical thing still sucks.
So it looks like Baby E is being diplomatic and simply saying she's not sold on it. As for Agi the Artist, don't worry honey, if you keep playing the way you've been playing you have nothing to worry about.
According to this article (my 4 years of German finally pays off), Juergen Melzer and Domi Cibulkova are now an item. I guess they hooked up when they played mixed doubles at the US Open. I didn't even know she broke up with LaMonf. That's a shame. Because they made a visually hilarious couple:
I love Uncle Toni. Correction. I FLOVE Uncle Toni. He looks like he'd give a good hug. And if you were totally down in the dumps he seems like he would have that perfect philosophical gem that would get you out of it. And he seems so calm all the time. And more importantly, he helped raise Rafa and sculpted him into the awesomely down to earth and humble #1 that we have today.
So here's a pretty great posting by Peter Bodo previewing a longer interview he and Wertheim had with Uncle Toni that will be published in the next Tennis magazine. Some choice excerts:
In a sneaky way, Rafael Nadal is an outsider, and Toni is partly responsible for his nephew's ability to resist becoming just another guy content to go to work to take his cut, or getting all tangled up in conflicting feelings of respect, envy and resentment toward his great nemesis. And Toni seemingly achieved that without ever once resorting to platitudes about winning being "everything", or the value of being the no. 1 player in the world.
Toni simply doesn't talk in those terms. He talks about discipline, self-sufficiency (Toni refuses to take his nephews rackets for stringing, on the grounds that Rafael's the one who has to play with the danged things. Besides, Rafael has all the time in the world when he's at tournament, so why shouldn't he be the one dealing with that kind of thing?), hard work and respect for everyone, regardless of his or her station in life. That may sound hokey, or carefully orchestrated to project a certain image for Toni or Rafael. All I can say is that we spent well over hour talking with Toni, and I've yet to meet someone whose true colors aren't revealed, in or between the lines, over a period of that length.
Q: Are you concerned, as a human being, that Rafael is just being driven and pushed like a racehorse, and suffering in other aspects of his life, or education?
A: I was in university, but to me it’s not very important. For me, the important thing in life is to have an interest in things. I come here to learn something about American people. I like to see the television, what people are watching. To me, the thing is to be interested, maybe read newspapers. At the moment, young people not too interested in things. Is a pity. But when you spend so much time to be a good tennis player, journalist, business manager, you cannot do much else.
You always give up some things to have other things. When I go with girlfriend, I cannot be here. When Rafael is here, he loses chance to be at the beach with his friends. But when he’s at beach, he loses chance to be here. You cannot have everything. In this life, you have this - or that. So for Rafael, he has a good life at the moment, like me, no? I am very happy to be sitting at my house at home in front of the beach and my garden, but if I am there all the time I am bored. When I speak with one of my kids (Toni has three) I think it better to be there, with them. But then I cannot be here, at US Open. it is always a choice: this – or that.
So a few of you have noticed in the comments that my "coverage" of tennis is weighed towards the ladies. Guilty as charged. There are a few conscious reasons for this:
But I do try to provide balanced coverage so imagine me smacking my forehead after I wrote that long post about the ladies' YEC and then realized I would probably have to do the same for the boys. The problem is, and this is confession time, I have NO IDEA how the guys do their rankings. I know the concepts are the same, but in terms of how points break out between mandatory and non-mandatory events, the increased number of tournaments on the men side, etc., I've been too lazy to actually sit down and go through the ATP rule book to figure it out. I hereby make a vow to you, my unjustifiably loyal Forty Deuce audience, that I will do my homework during the off-season and head into 2009 as an encyclopedia of rankings knowledge.
But until then I'm going to cheat and rely on Tennis.com's awesome Shanghai tracker:
So right now, A-Rod, Daveed, and Crazy Train are holding the remaning spots. But Commodus, Blah Blah, and Stan have a good shot. All the bubble guys are in action this week (though Simon is thinking of withdrawing from Lyon) and the guys they're chasing are in action too, except for Daveed. Stan has already lost so he will stay at 301 pts, I believe.
Regardless of how this week shakes out, next week's Paris Masters tournament will be exciting, as the last Shanghai spots will still be up for grabs.
A nice win for The Cone today, who beat Zheng Jie 3 and 2 in a little over an hour. Matches like this are a great reminder of who important matchups are. Zheng loves pace, which is why she gives a lot of the ball bashers like Ana fits. But Cornet won't give you pace, and Zheng simply isn't strong enough to generate her own pace without playing outside of herself. Hence, against players like Cornet (and let's face it, most of the players not in the top 5) Zheng doesn't stand much of a chance. She loses patience, hits big, and misses. The Cone's win stops a three tourney slide of losing in the first round.
And in Luxembourg, it was a good day for slumping seeds as Chakky, Dani, and Na Li all won in straight sets.
Well, Stan pretty much guaranteed he'll be watching the Year End Championships from his comfy home in Switzerland. No Shanghai Stan this year. He failed to capitalize on two match points, eventually losing in three sets to Benji Becker. Stanley's countryman, Chiudinelli, pushed FeLo hard, but in the end he wasn't able to get the job done, with FeLo winning 76(5) 76(7).
Over in Russia, St. Petersburg was not kind to its Russian Sons today, as the three Russians in play didn't just lose, they lost big. Tursonov, Koralev, and Moscow champ and Cholera sufferer Kunytsyn all lost, none of them winning more than 2 games in any set.
Here are the rest of the scores for the day (seriously you guys? Three tournaments is just too much to cover in a week. I'm already tired).
[Q] B Becker (GER) d  S Wawrinka (SUI) 36 76(5) 76(5)
 I Andreev (RUS) d J Melzer (AUT) 76(5) 75
 M Fish (USA) d A Calleri (ARG) 76(5) 62
F Lopez (ESP) d [WC] M Chiudinelli (SUI) 76(5) 76(7)
D Hrbaty (SVK) d  D Tursunov (RUS) 61 61
V Hanescu (ROU) d E Korolev (RUS) 61 62
R Schuettler (GER) d I Kunitsyn (RUS) 62 63
 T Robredo (ESP) d M Llodra (FRA) 64 63
J Ferrero (ESP) d S Querrey (USA) 63 75
J Benneteau (FRA) d A Clement (FRA) 63 62
S Darcis (BEL) d [WC] R Stepanek (CZE) 64 36 63
[WC] J Ouanna (FRA) d I Ljubicic (CRO) 67(2) 76(5) 64
And here's your OOP for Tuesday:
Apparently, Joshy Josh has a little crush on our Baby E. In an interview with some magazine, Josh went out of his way to single out Ana:
Wha? Totally random. He knows he's going to have to go through the Spanish Armada to get to her, right? Ballsy, Josh. Ballsy.
At least that's what Fed diehards would say. Fed comes home from an encouraging but disappointing result in Madrid to play host to a bunch of boys who want to slay the king. Luckily for Fed his hometown is looking out for him, as he's got a pretty easy walk to the final, with only a potentially tricky, undoubtedly overhyped semi encounter with Big Berd.
The hot Argentines are left to duke it out in the other half. JMDP beat Nalby last week easily and then got his ass handed to him by Fed. Will we see the same result here?
The Muzzard is going to have to celebrate his Madrid win in St. Petersburg, which would actually be pretty awesome except for the fact that the kid doesn't drink. No vodka for you! As expected, Russia wasn't kind to Mr. Andy, as they stacked his quarter of the draw with Ernie Linguine as a possible second round matchup, and Janko as a potential third rounder, and Not So Super Mario as a fourth rounder. Not easy, but you have to think the young kid has more than enough in his tank to capture a back to back title. Good luck to him!
Meanwhile, over in Lyon, American Andy will try to disrupt the French homecoming of Reeshie, Jo, and Gilly. A tough task I think to be an American going into France to dispatch a bunch of Frenchmen, but hey, like we care. That's what makes us American. In addition to Andy, the other non-pastries in the field include The Evil One, Dr. Ivo, Disco Tommy, Querrey California, and Radek. Will Commodus have enough left in the tank to contend here? He's stilly fighting for a spot in Shanghai and with good results over the next few weeks he could make it.
There shouldn't be too much mystery in Luxembourg, but then again, who knows given the recent form of some of these players. The way the draw worked out, it looks like a pretty easy warm up tournament for Lena D, who will be looking to regain her sharpness for Doha. Standing in her way to the finals: Momo and Dani.
Yeah, I wouldn't exactly be shaking in my Yonex boots either.
On the other half of the draw it's a complete crapshoot. A-Chak and Ski Boots will be contesting that half, but again, given their recent form who knows? I'd actually put my money on bracket buster and FOJJ (friend of JJ) Na Li to possibly get through this half. Cuz it's kinda crap.
Nonetheless I will be tuning into this tournament to see the progress of two Forty Deuce baby faves: Sorana Cirstea and Laura Robson. Cirstea won her first title a few weeks ago in Tashkent and Robson was granted a wildcard for this tourney. Hope they do well.
Considering the quality that Baby E displayed in Zurich, you have to think this is her tournament to win. If she plays the way she played against Venus, it's in the bag. But the good people of Linz haven't made it easy for her, as the draw is surprisingly unbalanced.
In Ana's half of the draw: Mama Bammer, Tranny, Domi, Agnes, Flav, A-Rad, Kanepi, Srebotnik, and Nads. In Bepa's half: Stosur, MaKiri, Zheng, Cornet, Schnyder, Paszek, Airon Woman, and Mono. But hey, like I always say, you want to be considered the best? Then you gotta beat whoever is in your way. Go Ana?
As for A-Rad, it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that she's not going to qualify for the YEC, which is suprising in many ways. But she hasn't had the greatest season in light of the promise she displayed last year. Here's hoping it's just a matter of growing up, maturing, and getting into the physical shape she needs to compete with the big girls. There's no reason she can't be the next JJ.
Even though Bepa and Venus will almost assuredly qualify, this week's results could still affect the YECs, particulary in how the pools will set up. The way the YECs work is that the eight players get divided into two groups and those groups engage in round robin play, with the top two players in each group continuing to the semifinals. The pools are determined not by random draw (which would be interesting) but by your actual ranking (not your Race ranking).
So as of right now, the pools break up like this:
Group A: JJ, Serena, Elena, and the #7 player (currently Venus)
Group B: Dinara, Ana, Sveta, and the #8 player (currently Bepa)
UPDATE: Thanks to Kiki for her awesome research skills. The groups are actually determined by random draw after the first two seeds are placed in opposite groups:
So since the seeds are already decided, this means while we don't know how the groups will shake out, we do know that certain players won't be in the same group: JJ and Dinara, Serena and Ana, Lena and Sveta, and Vera and Venus.
If Bepa makes it into the final at Linz, she will overtake Venus and become the #7 player. Now, if Bepa's coach wanted to get cheeky, he'd tell her not to get past the semis. I mean, come on, do you really want to be in the group with JJ and Serena?
Boy, the YECs are gonna be FUN.