JJ's blogging for The Age while in Melbourne. I wonder if she's sick of those "#1 without a Slam questions":
I am a positive person who laughs a lot and am always happy, but deep down on the inside, I am also a very sensitive person. Believe it or not I am a bit of a crier! I do tend to be quite emotional and cry easily.
It is not something that I particularly like about myself, but that is how I am as a person.
I am not as cold as a rock. But I don't pay too much attention to what others say about me. Everybody has the right to think what they want and speak their mind if they want to. But I don't really focus on that, and when you are successful there are always going to be critics, as well as people who compliment you. That's just the way it is.
If I was ranked 1000th in the world or if I wasn't doing well, no one would talk about me. Nobody would say anything, so I guess this is the way it has to be and I have to accept that.
I have my own team and I have the people who believe in me and wish me the best.
I just try to get my results and don't feel that I have to prove anything to anybody. I'm No. 1 in the world and everybody wants to be in my shoes, so I don't have anything to worry about. I'm just a girl who enjoys tennis. I go to the court with a smile on my face, and that's what matters … I enjoy what I do and I'm happy. I love my sport. I love running after balls.
That's what matters to me and that's what counts.
Seriously, you guys. Don't make JJ cry. She's very sensitive. Especially on the soles of her feet.
On The Baseline does a nice breakdown of the rankings race during the AO:
Entering the Australian Open, four players have a chance of being ranked No.1 at the conclusion of Melbourne.
Points defending at Melbourne: Jelena Jankovic (900, reached 2008 SF), Serena Williams (500, reached 2008 QF), Dinara Safina (4, fell 2008 1r) and Elena Dementieva (280, reached 2008 4r).
With the winner receiving 2000 ranking points, and the top four ranking positions being so close, here are some scenarios:
• If Jelena Jankovic wins, she will remain No.1 regardless.
• If Dinara Safina wins, she will become No.1, regardless.
• If Serena Williams wins, she will become No.1 IF… she does not play Jankovic in the finals.
• If Elena Dementieva wins, she will become No.1 IF … she does not play Jankovic in the finals.
Additionally, with Jankovic winning her first round match at the Australian Open, Safina would need to reach AT LEAST the semifinals, while S.Williams and Dementieva would need to reach the finals to have a chance to become the World No.1.
My gut tells me JJ leaves Melbourne still as the #1 player. But still slamless. Let the catfighting continue.
The cut is obviously more consdervative but the colors keep it young and fun. Yup, Nike will be selling a lot of these.
In the other night matches, stupid Blah just gets blaher in his powder blue Fila gear. Doesn't it look like Fila gave him the most generic Fila gear possible? And four sizes too big to boot.
Anyway, he won, as did Flava Flav, Julie !@#$ing Coin, and Sam Stosur.
Rod Laver Arena 11:00am
1. Alberta Brianti (ITA) v. Ana Ivanovic (SRB)* (every match is a test at this point)
2. Jeremy Chardy (FRA) v. Novak Djokovic (SRB)* (ditto)
3. Evgeny Korolev (RUS) v. Roger Federer (SUI)* (Davai, Baby Marat!)
4. Jelena Dokic (AUS) v. Anna Chakvetadze (RUS) (NB 7:30pm)* (rooting for Dokic)
5. Bernard Tomic (AUS) v. Gilles Muller (LUX)
Hisense Arena 11:00
1. Dinara Safina (RUS) v. Ekaterina Makarova (RUS)* (still concerned over Dina's form)
2. Jelena Jankovic (SRB) v. Kirsten Flipkens (BEL)
3. Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) v. David Nalbandian (ARG)
4. Andy Roddick (USA) v. Xavier Malisse (BEL)* (nice test for Andy)
Margaret Court Arena 11:00
1. Nadia Petrova (RUS) v. Sania Mirza (IND)* (hoping Sania makes it to the third round)
2. Marat Safin (RUS) v. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP)* (if Marat wins, he'll play Fed next)
3. Vera Zvonareva(RUS) vs. Edina Gallovits(ROU)
4. Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) v. Virginia Ruano Pascual (ESP)
5. Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) v. Florian Mayer (GER) (NB 7:30pm)
Show Court 2 11:00
1. Marin Cilic (CRO) v. Janko Tipsarevic (SRB)* (Croats and Serbs? Game on)
2. Andrea Petkovic (GER) v. Alize Cornet (FRA)
3. Women's Doubles - 1st Round (FYI -- this is Kuz/Nads vs. Vee/Ree)
4. Robin Soderling (SWE) v. Marcos Baghdatis (CYP)* (come on, Baggy, put him out of his misery)
Show Court 3 11:00
1. Dominik Hrbaty (SVK) v. David Ferrer (ESP)* (Hrbaty's playing well. I worry for Daveed)
2. Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) v. Mathilde Johansson (FRA)
3. Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) v. Brydan Klein (AUS)
Court 6 11:00
1. Nathalie Dechy (FRA) v. Ai Sugiyama (JPN)
2. Alisa Kleybanova (RUS) v. Stephanie Cohen-Aloro (FRA)
3. Men’s Doubles - 1st Round
4. Fabrice Santoro (FRA) v. Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER)
Court 7 11:00
1. Women’s Doubles - 1st Round
2. Women’s Doubles - 1st Round
3. Men’s Doubles - 1st Round
4. Simone Bolelli (ITA) v. Mardy Fish (USA)* (Goth Bols FTW)
Court 8 11:00
1. Men’s Doubles - 1st Round
2. Brian Dabul (ARG) v. Tomas Berdych (CZE)
3. Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) v. Marion Bartoli (FRA)
Court 10 11:00
1. Men’s Doubles - 1st Round
2. Women’s Doubles - 1st Round
3. Lucie Safarova (CZE) v. Marina Erakovic (NZL)
Court 13 11:00
1. Patricia Mayr (AUT) v. Kaia Kanepi (EST)
2. Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA) v. Amer Delic (USA)
Court 18 11:00
1. Karin Knapp (ITA) v. Galina Voskoboeva (KAZ)
2. Women’s Doubles - 1st Round
3. Tommy Robredo (ESP) v. Viktor Troicki (SRB)* (what did Tommy do that he's constantly banished to the outer outer courts?)
Stosur and Flava Flav are still playing. Flavia's stuck in a third set, though she's up a break. And Stosur is on serve in the first.
Gonzo edged out a semi-resurgent Lleyton in five sets, 57 62 62 36 63. Lleyton looked to have the momentum going into the fifth set when Gonzo called for the trainer for cramping. That break in the action changed everything and Gonzo took control of the match and closed out the win.
It started out as a rough day for Team Asia, as we saw Project 45 go down listlessly to the douchestamped Melzer. The kid just didn't look right all match and I wonder how much of it had to do in the drop in confidence because of the arm injury that forced him out of Auckland last week. He lost 75 62 61.
Too bad Na Li isn't here.
Boy, yellow is clearly the color of the season. Venus looked fantastic in her yellow Eleven frock. And she played well, too, beating Kerber, 3 and 3. A small hiccup here and there with a loss of concentration, but the woman served well and got to the net. If she keeps that up, there's no reason to think she doesn't take this. I thought she looked better than Serena.
Both fashion wise and game wise. Someone alert the Go Fug Yourself girls because this is a hot tranny mess. The sillouette is fine but the weird pattern? I seriously had no words to describe what exactly I was seeing. It looks like a horrible 80's reject. Luckily it didn't effect ReRe's play, as she won in straight sets at 3 and 2.
Q. Are there any superstitions you have in Australia?
SERENA WILLIAMS: There's just one shower I always use here. You know, I always want the same locker, but I can't remember for the life of me what locker I use, so... I guess it doesn't necessarily work.
Q. What I'm trying to say is you seem much more slender than we've seen you at other times. Did that help you to bear up with all that heat?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I mean, maybe with the fat I would be able to, like, absorb more of the heat (laughter). It wouldn't necessarily bother me, so I don't know (smiling).
Q. Are you superstitious at all? Do you think there's anything to the odd‑year theory of you winning here?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I am superstitious. But is there anything to the odd theory? No. One year I wasn't able to come back and defend my title. One year I went crazy. A couple years I went completely crazy. So hopefully I'll be able to stay focused this year.
Q. How would you define "completely crazy"?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Just making errors for no reason, acting up out there. I don't know. Playing like a loser, I guess.
Q. Is it inspiring for you and your sister? Do you feel in some ways yourself and Venus have done in a sporting sense what Obama has done in a political sense?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I definitely think myself and Venus has opened up a lot of doors, being the first African Americans to do so much in tennis. But I never really look at that. I just look at trying to stay focused.
At the end of my career, I always thought I would go back and kind of dwell on that, because I don't want to get complacent and be like, Oh, I did this, I did that. It can become easy to become complacent with nine Grand Slams and counting (laughter).
Q. If you were to take another Australian Open, that would be 10. Would you prefer to be doing that at home, be taking the US Open to make it the 10th Grand Slam?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Absolutely not. I probably should already have had 10. Wherever it comes, I'll be ready and willing and able to accept it.
A reluctant congrats to France who are so far having a solid tournament after two rounds. Cornet, Dechy, Mono, and Mathieu won yesterday and the big names took care of business today and Julie Coin is on court against Vesnina, leading 4-1 in the first set. A plate of Freedom Fries to you all!
Momo and Gilles had easy straight set wins today. Momo took out Olga Govortsova, 64 63, and Gilles had a quick day, winning 64 61 61. Monfils had a bit of tough go in the third, but he came back to take it in straights, 61 63 75.
But the story of the day was Reeshie, who's balls finally dropped in the sweltering heat of Australia. The kid looked like absolute crap in the first set, losing to a Ron Jeremy look-alike, 76(5). But then he finally got pissed at himself and at the world, threw a racquet, and refocused to take the next three sets, 76(3) 63 64.
Well that was kind a bummer. Andy basically got a free pass into the second round after Pavel retired after losing the first set. But for those who are on the MAndy bandwagon (not me, I'm all about Fed winning the tournament) this bodes well only because it'll keep him fresh.
So congrats, MAndy fans. Too bad your boy is going to lose spectacularly to the All Might Fed in the finals.
Lena D had a tense first round match too and the way she played she should be out of the tournament. She pulled out a tense one 76 26 61 over Barrois. She was sluggish in her movement and just seemed all discombobulated on the court. Barrois actually had a 5-3 lead in the first set before Lena came back. Hopefully this scares the crap out of her and she wakes up for her second match.
Rod Laver Arena 11:00
1. Andy Murray (GBR) v. Andrei Pavel (ROU) (just want to see Muzz's form)
2. Meng Yuan (CHN) v. Serena Williams (USA) (ditto on Serena)
3. Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) v. Fernando Gonzalez (CHI) (don't like either of these guys but I love good tennis)
4. Samantha Stosur (AUS) v. Klara Zakopalova (CZE) (NB 7:30pm)
5. Rafael Nadal (ESP) v. Christophe Rochus (BEL) (want to see Rafa's hard court form)
Hisense Arena 11:00
1. Kristina Barrois (GER) v. Elena Dementieva (RUS)
2. Pablo Andujar (ESP) v. Gilles Simon (FRA) (how's GIlles doing?)
3. Venus Williams (USA) v. Angelique Kerber (GER) (will Venus make a statement here?)
4. Juan Monaco (ARG) v. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) (how's Jo's back?)
MARGARET Court ARENA 11:00
1. Jarmila Gajdosova (AUS) v. Virginie Razzano (FRA) (Go Jarkka!)
2. Chris Guccione (AUS) v. Nicolas Devilder (FRA)
3. Anabel Medina Garrigues (ESP) v. Isabella Holland (AUS)
4. Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) v. Anastasia Rodionova (AUS) (Oh, Kuz. I just can't quit you)
5. James Blake (USA) v. Frank Dancevic (CAN)
Show Court 2 11:00
1. Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR) v. Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)
2. Olga Govortsova (BLR) v. Amelie Mauresmo (FRA) (Magic Momo or Average Amelie?)
3. Gael Monfils (FRA) v. Martin Vassallo Arguello (ARG)
4. Eduardo Schwank (ARG) v. Tommy Haas (GER)
Show Court 3 11:00
1. Richard Gasquet (FRA) v. Diego Junqueira (ARG)
2. Patty Schnyder (SUI) v. Kristina Mladenovic (FRA)
3. Adrian Mannarino (FRA) v. Fernando Verdasco (ESP) (Still a Tabasco fan)
4. Mara Santangelo (ITA) v. Flavia Pennetta (ITA)
Court 5 11:00
1. Vincent Spadea (USA) v. Denis Istomin (UZB)
2. Olivia Rogowska (AUS) v. Alona Bondarenko (UKR)
3. Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) v. Stefan Koubek (AUT)
Court 6 11:00
1. Kei Nishikori (JPN) v. Jurgen Melzer (AUT) (If Kei's arm is ok this should be great)
2. Jie Zheng (CHN) v. Camille Pin (FRA) (Go wee one!)
3. Jessica Moore (AUS) v. Christina McHale (USA)
4. Michael Berrer (GER) v. Carsten Ball (AUS)
Court 7 11:00
1. Francesca Schiavone (ITA) v. Shuai Peng (CHN)
2. Andreas Beck (GER) v. Colin Ebelthite (AUS)
3. Peter Polansky (CAN) v. Igor Andreev (RUS)
4. Melanie Oudin (USA) v. Akgul Amanmuradova (UZB)
Court 8 11:00
1. Nicolas Massu (CHI) v. Nicolas Almagro (ESP)
2. Nicole Vaidisova (CZE) v. Severine Bremond (FRA) (Nikki is like a train that you know is going to crash spectacularly, but you don't know if it'll happen after it leaves this station or the next. So you just track it.)
3. Tatjana Malek (GER) v. Ayumi Morita (JPN)
4. Elena Vesnina (RUS) v. Julie Coin (FRA) (Can Ves keep her form? Is Coin the real deal?)
Court 10 11:00
1. Teimuraz Gabashvili (RUS) v. Marcel Granollers (ESP)
2. Elena Baltacha (GBR) v. Anna-Lena Groenefeld (GER)
3. Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) v. Roberta Vinci (ITA)
4. Flavio Cipolla (ITA) v. Dmitry Tursunov (RUS)
Court 11 11:00
1. Nuria Llagostera Vives (ESP) v. Sesil Karatantcheva (BUL)
2. Ekaterina Bychkova (RUS) v. Lourdes Dominguez Lino (ESP)
3. Albert Montanes (ESP) v. Ernests Gulbis (LAT) (Come on Ernie. Tennis is rooting for you)
4. Sebastien De Chaunac (FRA) v. Steve Darcis (BEL)
Court 13 11:00
1. Victoria Azarenka (BLR) v. Petra Kvitova (CZE) (this could be an intense first rounder, with Vika winning Brisbane and Kvitoava winning Hobart. All I know is that it'll be hard hitting)
2. Ivo Karlovic (CRO) v. Daniel Gimeno-Traver (ESP)
3. Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (ESP) v. Tamarine Tanasugarn (THA)
4. Ivan Ljubicic (CRO) v. Igor Kunitsyn (RUS)
Court 14 11:00
1. Andrey Golubev (KAZ) v. Fabio Fognini (ITA)
2. Vera Dushevina (RUS) v. Iveta Benesova (CZE)
3. Chanelle Scheepers (RSA) v. Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) (how's Domi doing? She crashed out early in Sydney but played well at HC)
4. Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) v. Arnaud Clement (FRA)
Court 18 11:00
1. Tathiana Garbin (ITA) v. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS)
2. Rainer Schuettler (GER) v. Dudi Sela (ISR)
3. Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE) v. Yung-Jan Chan (TPE)
4. Radek Stepanek (CZE) v. Nicolas Lapentti (ECU)
Court 19 11:00
1. Wayne Odesnik (USA) v. Mario Ancic (CRO) (those soulful Ancic eyes beckon me)
2. Anastasiya Yakimova (BLR) v. Gisela Dulko (ARG)
3. Aleksandra Wozniak (CAN) v. Sabine Lisicki (GER) (an intriguing match. My DMs are on Lisicki)
4. Florent Serra (FRA) v. Roko Karanusic (CRO)
Court 21 11:00
1. Victor Hanescu (ROU) v. Jan Hernych (CZE)
2. Sorana Cirstea (ROU) v. Melinda Czink (HUN) (Gotta track my girl Sorana)
3. Guillermo Canas (ARG) v. Dieter Kindlmann (GER)
Really disappointing loss for Sammy, who fell in straight sets to PEHK. But you know, you really shouldn't be playing a tournament the week before a Grand Slam. Jarkko Niemenen is also out, having to retire in his match. Sam says he just got to Melbourne on Sunday and only had a 30 minute hit before taking the court. He couldn't get used to the court speed. Tough luck.
But in happier news, DB Chuck is out, losing to one of Sven's charges, Evgeny Koralev. Nice win for Koralev who I've always had a soft spot for because I think he's adorable. And I always felt bad for him seeing as how he's Anna K's cousin. If you think life was hard for Dinara in the locker room, imagine what it must be like for him.
Welcome back, Jelena Dokic. The former #4 scored a hard fought first round win over Pazcek, 62 36 64. Matt Cronin rewards her with a nice write-up:
I just caught a clip of her very emotional presser. She teared up quite a bit throughout. This really was a very emotional win for her.
Flashes of brilliance in a sea of poo. That's the only way to describe the 2+ hour match between Dani and Fosters Dellaqua. It was a battle of nerves as both ladies were broken over and over again. Fosters had every right to win this match, but she just couldn't shut the door on Dani. The key was the first set tiebreak, which Dani eventually won 13-11. She would go on to win the match 76(11) 64.
On the fashion front, I love the blue on Dani. Also love that she's left her ponytail loose instead of that uptight braid she was rocking last year (it made her look like an insane control freak for some reason). But please, Dani, invest in some Low Beams. It's so damn awkward watching you play sometimes.
Nice win for Chakky over AKO, but my heart goes out to Anne. Tough draw for her. She played well in Auckland and deserved to make it to the second round here. But she showed a lot of heart coming back from a set down. Unfortunately, in today's heat, she just ran out of gas.
One thing that stood out to me watching today's matches was the gulf in fitness levels between the top players and the second tier players. It's mindboggling to me to see players completely tank in second and third sets because their fitness prevents them from dealing with the conditions. I totally agree with Brad Gilbert (reluctantly) that it's inexcusable. This is the first Slam of the year and you've had two months to get into proper shape.
Nice article by Matt Cronin on Baby K. Here's an excerpt:
That would be great news for the sport, because with Maria Sharapova still sidelined, Ivanovic has the most engaging personality of any of the meaningful young players. When she's on, she also owns an extremely attractive game, which offers a lot more variety than she given credit for, with nifty volleys, a one-handed backhand slice and soft drop shots.
In order to reach her peak, however, Ivanovic will have to temper some of her off-court activities when preparing for the majors, especially during a period when she's been pressing.
Today, she's no longer the cute brunette who learned to play tennis in a swimming pool. She's a worldwide sex symbol who has been on the cover of dozens of magazines and whose recent romance with Spanish player Fernando Verdasco made the celebrity columns. According to one of her friends, Ivanovic broke up with Verdasco a few weeks ago, but that has not stopped the paparazzi from stalking the practice courts trying to get a shot of "Anando" together.
But the cold white lines of the tennis court have no room for such fanfare, and if Ivanovic is going to challenge for the Australian Open title or any other major in 2009, she's going to have to develop a bit of a harder shell. Instead of merely saying that her biggest desire is to give it her all, taking Olympic champion Elena Dementieva's tact might be better.
After winning her second straight Australian summer title in Sydney last week, the Russian Dementieva spoke of how she invited the pressure of going to the Australian Open as a talked-about player, one who could legitimately be called a tournament favorite. Dementieva wants to be the hunted one.
When told of Dementieva's comments, Ivanovic saw her point.
"I think it's important to have a pressure coming into the Grand Slam, because if you feel pressure it means that you're in a position to do something well," Ivanovic said. "That's what you work for. It definitely gives you confidence."
Currently, the talk in the Australian Open hallways is that Ivanovic is ripe for an early upset and that once she is forced to confront a talented player — say, 11th seed Caroline Wozniacki in the fourth round — she'll become unraveled. She is thought to lack back-up plans, ways to win matches when she is not outright dominating with her forehand.
But that's a bit of a stretch. If you look closely at Ivanovic's history, there are plenty of matches that she has gutted out when she hasn't been clicking. Those types of wins haven't been as frequent recently, but she wasn't kissing the lines against Georges and still came away with the win by changing up the speed and locations of her groundstrokes.
I love Cronin's writeups on Ana because he is one of the few tennis journalists that actually recognizes her variety of shot. He also does a great job of taking a player's pressers and putting them into a narrative and giving them context. And he lives in the East Bay, which mean's he's automatically awesome.
Er, sorry. Hella awesome.
Dinara had a solid straight set win over Alla Kudrywhatever. Alla was cracking the ball but as expected just couldn't keep that level up over the course of the match. She had chances to put pressure on Dina and couldn't do it. Still though, Dina's not looking as sharp as she needs to right now. Hope a little "pep talk" from Zeljko will do the trick.
Oh, and in case you haven't gotten the memo, Dinara wants to go as Safin-a as opposed to SaFEEna. So noted.
FoxSports is confirming that Ana broke up with Fernando during the Brisbane tournament. It's coming from Matt Cronin so I believe it.
Sad face. But she seems ok with it, so whatever.
Q. When is the last time you felt like you hit the ball great for two weeks in a row and you were in complete confidence?
ANA IVANOVIC: Well, obviously, you know, I didn't perform best at the two tournaments back to back since probably French Open. But, you know, I feel it's a new year and I feel I'm in a great physical shape. You know, it's a fresh start for me basically.
I just want to get the experience I took from last year. I'm just enjoy my tennis again and enjoy competing. I think this might be the two weeks (laughter).
Q. Are you waiting for that moment where you're going to wake up in the morning, get on the court, everything is going to be great again?
ANA IVANOVIC: I don't think it comes overnight, to be honest. I put lot of hard work in off‑season. Obviously, you know, worked hard off the court as well.
But, you know, I just need some matches to get in that competition spirit again, obviously get some confidence.
But, you know, I can fall back on things I've done in off‑season. That's something that can get me through my first rounds.
Q. What would satisfy you at this tournament? How could you walk away a happy person, be happy with your game?
ANA IVANOVIC: First of all, I'm happy no matter what happens (smiling). Second of all, you know, I just want to have feeling that, you know, I gave hundred percent.
If that was not good enough today, that I lost, or if it was good enough to win, that's perfect. I just want to be honest to myself that I gave the best chance I can possibly give.
Q. How much does playing well, playing your best, mean to you?
ANA IVANOVIC: Obviously, you know, you want to perform the best you can every match. But it only happens maybe few times a year that you play perfect tennis, and other days you have to work yourself and stay tough and be mentally stronger maybe than other players.
So I don't want to, you know, expect myself to play perfect match, because, like I say, it doesn't happen that often. You just have to sort of get through the tough days.
Well, Australia has something to be excited about. Controversial youngster Bernard Tomic bounced Mr. Potito Head in four sets, 76 16 76 76. Not bad for a 16 year old kid, no? He'll play an exhausted Gilles Muller in the second round. If he takes that match, Australia's going to forget all about one purple clad 'ic, and focus in this one.
A fairly straighforward morning for the boys. A-Rod waxed Rehnquist, 60 62 62. I have to say, A-Rod looks great. He's lost some weight, is moving well, and whacking that forehand when he gets the chance. He's still no match for the big four, but good for him.
Nole's also through, not without having to come back from 4-0 down in the third. But he came back and got off the court in under two hours. Nice show of sportsmanship at the end with the soccer-style shirt swap.
Of course, it's not the first day of a Slam without some drama. Daveed was all over the place in his match, a match that should never have gone 5 sets. Someone get that kid a pack of smokes for game days. I think it would help. Luckily, he pulled through in the end, 61 67 61 67 64,
And then we had the longest match in AO history between FeLo and Muller. I got heat stroke just from watching. Muller eventually won this war of attrition, winning 16-14 in the 5th. Poor FeLo.
It wasn't pretty but a win's a win at this point. Baby K struggled with her serve and left the ball way to short on for Goerges, who went for broke and was really crushing the ball. All power to the German. She had her chances, especially with a chance to get a double break on AI in the first set. But Baby K fought and battled her way through to win a set she had no business winning. The second set was a bit better, but in the end Goerges wilted in the heat and succumbed to the pressure and BK won, 75 63.
She'll play Alberta Brianti in the second round.
JJ debuted her green ANTA gear (yes, with shoes) and she's stolen some of Ana's mojo by adopting the wristbands. Love the Oakland A's colors, kinda don't love the dress. It's a full on Monet. Looks good on screen but it looks SO cheap up close.
But back to the match. JJ's definitely got some more pop on the serve and on her groundstrokes. She's hitting clean angles and moving. She really shouldn't have any problems getting to the quarters. No cause for concern. She'll play Flipkens in the round 2.
Interesting thoughts by Matt Cronin on JJ:
This is an interesting time for JJ. For so long she's flown under the radar with people always commenting on how amiable she is and a joy to watch. But now that the expectations have been raised I'm seeing more and more articles that take a deeper look into her head and her psychology. The same thing happened to Ana. She went from being the nice girl next door to "too nice to compete and deal with the pressure." I'm curious to see how JJ will deal with all these whispers if they persist after the AO.
There was a Superbowl commercial a few years ago asking us why we cheer so hard for our teams. It cuts between shots of a guy preparing to kick a field goal and fans all over the country holding their breaths, engaging in superstitions, standing up, etc. And the basic premise of the commercial is that we cheer hard and do stupid shit because in the back of our minds, no matter how rational we are, maybe, just maybe, our actions will influence the flight of the ball. Thus the mind of the SuperFan.
Peter Bodo has a great piece on what it means to be a SuperFan in the context of professional tennis. And I don't know about you, but it really does capture my POV perfectly:
Sitting here at the farm, with a green piece of ash hissing as the wood stove boils out the moisture inside the log, I'm thinking about fans (as many of you know, I loathe what is commonly known as "bracketology") and the exquisite torture they'll be putting themselves through over these next two weeks.Two-hundred and fifty-six players will sally forth in quest of the men's and womens' singles titles, and only one man and one woman's mission will be a complete success. That gives you a rough idea of how perilous it is to be a fan.
I've often written that, to my mind, there are two kinds of fans out there: general tennis fans, for whom the game overshadows the transient individuals who play it (even though those fans have their heroes and villains), and those who sometimes seem more enamored of specific individuals than of the game in general.
I suppose that's true in all sports, but in tennis the pool of fans who attach their devotion to a single player (or players) is much greater - this is why you still find the occasional outlier who bangs his fist on the virtual table in a place like this and says something like: tennis ain't been the same since the days of McEnroe and Connors! He has a point, of course, but it's the self-evident one: nothing is ever the same as it was 10, 20 or 100 years ago. That's what happens when your interest is rooted in individuals, not the enterprise itself.
Team sports are in many ways much easier on the fan. Every day, I see guys wearing nylon New York Giants red, white and blue windbreakers, or OSHA-certified hard hats modeled on the Giants' helmet, complete with the logo. These guys are willing to sit in Giants' stadium in freezing rain in December, so you know they're committed. Yet very few of them are first and foremost Eli Manning fans - what they are is Giants fans, and if Manning happens to wreck their dreams, they're more than happy to throw him under the bus. Oh, they like some players more than others, but their allegiance is to the institution (the Giants), not to one or another of the people who, at any given time, happen to play on the team. This is a liberating and generous mandate for the fan, because it allows him to be a fan as well as a critic. Nobody questions the Giant blue blood of a fan who boos a missed tackle by Antonio Pierce. How often does your typical Novak Djokovic fan boo when Nole blows a passing shot?
But tennis isn't a team sport (even Davis Cup in certain ways fails the smell test). Only those who are fans of the game in general are given latitude for dissent when it comes to the players, but they also are denied the heart-wrenching agony and the spiraling, concentrated joy experienced by fans of specific players. In some ways, those who resist - or keep in perspective - the siren song of personality issuing from each player are realists; those who do not, the diehard fans and KADs, are romantics.
I've often wondered, why would someone live and die by how Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal did on a given day? What's in it for them? Why make that investment?
Not to get too heavy about it - okay, I'll get all heavy about it - I think having a specific, overwhelming favorite, while a narrow and in many ways unforgiving undertaking, gives the fan a way to express and perhaps experience unconditional love. And that's something most of us have spent at least portions of lives hunting. The born-again Christian will understand what I mean; the secular parent will also know -all he has to do is think about how he feels about his kid. We feel good about ourselves when we love unconditionally; we also long to be loved unconditionally, at least partly because it allows us to, well, get away with stuff. But by entering into this kind of relationship with a hero, we stake a partial claim to his or her conquests. When Ana Ivanovic wins, I win too, because I love Ana and this win is my reward for it - unconditionality be damned.
At some level, it's risky to transfer powerful emotions and loyalties to someone you don't know, or know only in his or her limited context as a tennis pro (that is, at some level, a machine. Because anyone who does anything "professionally" is just that, and the lengths to which players go - think Venus or Serena Williams - to try to demonstrate that they aren't "just" tennis players shows it.) How do you know that Janko Tipsarevic really is a "good" person - because he has a Dostoyevsky quote tattooed on his arm? Hey, maybe at heart he's more like Raskolnikov, an axe murderer!
We'll never really know how justified our love is, but isn't that moot, when the love we're trying to give is unconditional? Besides, expending unconditional love on a tennis player is only risky in theory - unlike, say, expending unconditional love on a girlfriend, or spouse. It isn't like any of you guys are going to have to run out for milk because Jelena forgot to pick it up on the way home. The problem with being a uber-fan is that there's only one way to express that unconditional love (or to even show if it really exists, which really means that you have the capacity for giving it), and that's by loyalty.The fan who doesn't understand or accept that is on his or her way to becoming a stalker. And while loyalty to an institution, like a team, leaves you free to criticize anyone who appears to be an impediment to the success of that organism, you can't really do that with an individual. You're in for a penny, you're in for a dollar. Every tennis player out there is an institution unto himself, and his wins and losses are an open and shut case in which the glory or blame is undistributed.
The down-side of unconditional love is also the true test of the effort: It's easy to give when you get something in return, but what do you do when you get nothing in return? That almost never happens in tennis, where everyone lives to fight another day, and those upon whom we're most likely to shower our unconditional love tend to be the ones who pay us back in spades. There's a reason the world is crawling with Federer and Nadal fans, while a Vince Spadea or Igor Andreev manages only a bemused "well done!" now and then. We are, after all, human, and our urge to express and/or experience unconditional love is neatly offset by a considerably more rational desire to see a return on our investment. This explains the gallows humor and wry resignation exhibited by so many fans of Marat Safin. Being his fan is like giving money to that irascible but adorable con man, cousin Charley. It's just the toll you pay for being in his good graces.
Interesting stuff from the IHT roundtable discussion on women's tennis (for the record, I find the L'Equipe guy tremendously hypocritical and annoying):
CHRISTOPHER CLAREY, IHT: The draw is done in Melbourne. The season begins in earnest on Monday with the Australian Open, but I'd like to stick to the big picture here and look at the women's season to come. Let's start with Jelena Jankovic, number one in the rankings but hardly a classic number one without a Grand Slam singles title to her credit. Can she make the leap? Or not?
JON WERTHEIM, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: I think JJ has proven herself to some extent. Be nice if she had a Slam to her name, but she's won (and played) enough to be more than the accidental number one. With the women's field is disarray -- three of the top four have never won a Slam -- I think she ought to break through in 2009.
CLAREY: I don't agree on proving herself. No Slam. No true credibility.
TOM TEBBUTT, THE GLOBE AND MAIL: Now we hear Jelena has an Achilles problem. Talked to coach Sven Groeneveld last week and he said something about Ana Ivanovic that applies to Jankovic too: He said that the other players are waiting for them now and it will be difficult. Tough to see Jankovic already having injury trouble after that vaunted off-season training.
CLAREY: I saw her in the players' restaurant in Melbourne, and she was laughing it up with some friends, so she didn't look too worried. Clearly, she's in better shape her than she was last year, when she seemed to be taped up in a full body wrap.
LINDA PEARCE, THE AGE: Jelena should win a Slam this year and maybe the Australian Open. She's so steady that her time will come.
JUAN JOSÉ MATEO, EL PAIS: Just to spice things up, I'll throw this out there. Sometimes I think that today's women's game is a sport in which the Williams sisters win when, where and how they want. That speaks for the quality of the game, the quantity of good players and the depth of the circuit.
CLAREY: I think Serena really wanted to win the French Open last year and bombed out against Katarina Srebotnik, so it' s not quite on demand.
TEBBUTT: I think it's the same old story - if Serena is healthy, she's the best with Venus close behind. But who would bet on their track record of staying healthy - or on any of the women? Do you think the famous Roadmap cutting one week from the schedule and one tournament from the rankings calculation - will greatly help that?
WERTHEIM: If the ranking were configured differently the Williams sisters would be 1-2. A decade ago, who would have predicted they'd still be driving the train for all intents?
MATEO: Someone please tell Justine Henin to come back!
PHILIPPE BOUIN, L'EQUIPE: Women's tennis needs one or two inspiring figures who would show all these young Blondovas that sport is not only a good way to make big money. The problem is that the Williamses did play in the first stage of their careers for that precise reason: make millions. Now they have a chance to become inspiring because now they play for glory. But do they realize it?
WERTHEIM: Blondovas? Quick, hit the "trademark" key, Philippe
BOUIN: I want to see real women tennis players and not shopping princesses.
MATEO: Most of the players do play without imagination, looking to force errors, just putting the opponent under pressure and throwing tons of force in the ball, but no angles, no magic, no fun. That's a generalization, of course. There are interesting players out there, but not that many.
PEARCE: Philippe, who is most real to you?
BOUIN: Believe it or not, the most real for me was......Maria Sharapova. Because she would die for a win and because she is a gracious loser.
CLAREY: I've got to say that I think Jankovic is great fun to watch (and not in the shopping mall). She's a great mover. Her game translates well to an audience (if only she can keep cutting back on the medical time outs) and her technique is spectacular if not entirely sound.
BOUIN: Yes Jankovic is a good tennis player, but not yet a champion.
CLAREY: Nope she's not, and Sharapova is a champion but not lately a tennis player. How much does the game need her and her shriek?
WERTHEIM: Desperately. And Sharapova looked like a dominating champion at this point last year....
CLAREY: I vote for desperately, too. But chronic shoulder injuries too often spell doom for tennis stars.
PEARCE: Sharapova is really important. But the shriek, ugh.
CLAREY: What of Dinara Safina, no longer just Marat's little sister. She improved a ton last season: finished at number three. Can she continue to rise? Or does the mechanical quality of her game and her combustibility work too much against her?
TEBBUTT: Anyone who saw the Hopman Cup final will be convinced that Dinara and Marat are ready for the little white house on the hill. Mentally crushing losses for both - but Dinara did rally from 1-5 down in the fifth to salvage a bit of confidence after he forehand totally collapsed - but I still see her with an Australian Open chance.
CLAREY: Reaching the final in Sydney can't hurt her confidence coming in.
TEBBUTT: Sometimes in tennis, payback comes long after the fact. Dinara should have won the Olympic gold if she hadn't had to play 3:30 a.m. the day before. Maybe the Gods will smile on her either in Melbourne or Paris?
CLAREY: Jon, your second point about their sparse schedules makes sense to a degree, but the general public only tunes into the big tournaments, and the Williamses are still there playing those and wining them, so why can't they carry their sport? It's not like they aren't good copy, particularly Serena.
MATEO: I think they can carry their sport, but the WTA should think about why the same two women who were doing so in 2000 are still carrying the sport in 2009.
BOUIN: And carrying also means caring? Do they really care for their sport?
CLAREY: Juan, I think you can see that two ways. Longevity, in theory, should promote interest. You have established champions trying to handle each new wave of players. It's like Federer with his chase pack. I guess I'm still mystified that there's not more of a connect with the sisters around the globe. I personally am no big fan of their style of play. Too hit or miss for me: more impressive than attractive. But I thought Serena's level of tennis in the US Open final last year against Jankovic was the best I've seen her play. And as for Philippe's point about caring about their sport, Venus, for one, has been very involved in the internal poltiics, and not just Wimbledon prize money
PEARCE: Billie Jean King sees Venus as the current Billie Jean King, relatively, anyway.
WERTHEIM: Agree, there are ways to care other than playing 30 weeks a year. But we owe it to them to acknowledge that their scheduling method - filled as it was with maddening withdrawals - has proven superior to the Kim/Justine/Jankovic school...
MATEO: At the same time, that scheduling reflects a lack of hunger. Some would say that players with their talent should try to win as many tournaments as possible. They don't seem to agree with the idea.
TEBBUTT: I truly believe, since the knee surgery in 2003, Serena is touch and go - I'd be curious to know how many times pain killers have saved her at events.
CLAREY: I think they both realized early that neither their minds nor their bodies could handle the grind...but I do see both of them, as Tom says, coming to love the game that was imposed on them as kids. It could be a bit like the Andre Agassi dynamic. Ball above the cradle and eventually you come to love the sport despite your parent's obsession and learn to savor the gift
WERTHEIM: They're interested (intensely) eight weeks a year. It's Montreal (sorry tom) and Berlin they can do without....
CLAREY: The Berlin tournament just got canceled, so they aren't the only ones who could do without it.
MATEO: I think that both sisters are great champions with unique personalities, but I still think that Justine or Amelie Mauresmo play a different, more varied game, and I personally enjoy that one more.
CLAREY: I'm not trying to be their apologist here, but I remain surprised they don't generate more buzz and that women's tennis is viewed as being in a bit of a vacuum with them both still around and still big factors.
BOUIN: The way the Williams sisters seem to ignore all the other players, all the other people involve in tennis, the whole sport in fact, does not give a good impression of anything else other than themselves. They never speak about tennis. They never accept to share their view on the sport: on the technique, on the tactics. They do not seem to care about tennis. So why should we?
TEBBUTT: I think Venus and Serena see the end now - and care more than ever. How that translates will be interesting to follow.
BOUIN: And what of Ana Ivanovic?
WERTHEIM: Rather have a weapon than fire on today's WTA. And yes, what of Ivanovic? she's so pleasant you hate to sling. But what a disappointment post-Roland Garros.....
PEARCE: Ivanovic is still playing dreadfully. Right now, it's hard to see her reaching the final again in Australia. She's unwell, but she said that in Doha. Where she lost, too. Not a good pattern.
TEBBUTT: The thumb was a huge problem post-Wimbledon - and she maybe wasn't right vs. Amelie Mauresmo in Brisbane - let's cut her some slack.
BOUIN: Speaking of having only one game, poor Ana seems to be the prototype.
PEARCE: Mauresmo completely outwitted her. Ana couldn't handle the variety. Needs to be more patient.
CLAREY: Which is surprising because she has a lot of variety in her shot-making abilities. Volleys quite well, can do several things with the backhand and can vary the serve. But she still tends to over hit under pressure and if her movement is not quite right, it can go awry badly. She's also not a truly gifted mover naturally. I still like Ivanovic's chances of winning another French, even this year. Don't see her as a one-Slam wonder.
BOUIN: I do not like the idea of her winning again, not because I do not like her, but because I hope to see a more complete tennis be successful.
CLAREY: I think she has the more complete tennis in her but lacks the lucidity and confidence to execute it. The biggest disappointment to me, other than Sharapova's injury, is Svetlana Kuznetsova.
WERTHEIM: Right on. All the athleticism in the world and no self confidence whatsoever. She is the embodiment of how mental a sport this is.
TEBBUTT: Kuznetsova messed up more draws last year - so many were out of balance with her on that side
MATEO: Svetlana is a great mover, has a complete game, but lacks concentration in the important moments. She is messy when the time comes to decide to take or not to take risks.
CLAREY: Do we think her moving back to Moscow full time -- whatever that means? -- will help Kuznetsova?
BOUIN: To what? To party better or to play better?
TEBBUTT: Saw her practicing last week with Olga Morozova as coach - not sure any one can help that head.
MATEO: Sveta will miss Emilio Sanchez's help as a coach. That's a downer. He revealed himself as a master tactician in the Davis Cup.
CLAREY: So, to finish up, anybody else we should toast on the women's side?
CLAREY: Good point and great start to the year. Number four in the world, but something tells me last year was a high-water mark. Now watch her end up number one after the Australian Open, which could be the case for a lot of women.
Reaction around the interwebs seems to be pretty "meh". Lots of questions about the product quality and reputation and what not, but I guess we'll just wait and see. It's just so odd to me that the world #1 is signing with a brand that is unknown in the western world.
The disconcerting thing is that she's been practicing all week with her Reebok shoes. Shouldn't be she breaking these ANTA shoes in? They look awfully cheap and inflexible. If she gets plantar fasciitis it's all on her.