So I'm unfortunately slammed for at least the next week, which is awesome timing seeing as how my favoritest tournament is starting. So Carrie has graciously agreed to help out during RG. I'll still be posting sporadically, but I have a feeling my posts will mainly focus on Ana and Masha, seeing as how Carrie won't touch either of them with a ten foot pole.
I can't promise you awesome drunken twittering, but I can promise spectacular tennis analysis with more snark than your snark bellies can handle.
So, you know. No pressure, Carrie.
Yes. You would look like a total douche on the tennis court. But really. Would you care? This bag is all kinds of awesome. But you know what would make it awesomer? If you drew some tears onto that silhouette. 92%.
It's the Wilson Grand Slam Limited Edition Super 6 bag. Pay an inordinate amount of money to carry your one racquet, can of balls, and bottle of water here.
The only insight we get from this article by Christopher Clarey is into Ion Tiriac's crazy crazy mind:
You can hear his incredulity. "*I* am an internationally renowned big game hunter, but EVEN WITH that COMPLETELY relevant experience and insight, NOT EVEN *I* can explain what Rafa can do."
What? No mention of the Williamses? Not even an "out on a limb" pick of Serena heading home early? All this talk of her being the Real #1 but no one picks her over the two most recent Faux #1s?
And on the men's side. Ok, I don't think it counts when you pick people to go out early who SUCK on clay. Jo and A-Rod? Really? I'm surprised no one picked Muzz to go out early. I think that would be gutsy but understandable pick.
All in all I have to give Kamakshi props on her pics. I unfortunately have zero confidence in Gilles on home soil.
The Comeback Kid lost to A-Blond today 62 62. And afterwards, Alona laid it all out there:
"I played her twice before, and I thought it was going to be a harder match. She played (in the past) without mistakes, and right now with lots of mistakes ... her serve isn't as powerful as before either."
See? This is why it's awesome that Maria's back. Other players' reactions to her. Bummed she lost though. Had she won she would have played AKO in the semis. And that would have been Tay. Stay.
And no kidding about the weak serve. Masha served at 78% for the match and only won 48% of her first serve points.
So what do we think Pova's chances are at RG? Second round? Third? Who gets further, Masha or Ana?
Why am I feeling so inquisitive today? Weird.
Full Serbian contingent
2008 winner Ana Ivanovic had her first practice on Thursday on court No1, while fellow Serbian Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic was out on Philippe Chatrier court late in the afternoon. Scotland's Andy Murray, who recently overtook Djokovic in the rankings to rise to No3 in the world, had a hit-out away from the cameras on court No4, while French veteran Fabrice Santoro practised twice – on centre court in the morning and No1 in the afternoon. This is the 20th French Open for "The Magician" and also his last, as he prepares for retirement. King of Clay Rafael Nadal has still yet to be sighted in Paris, however…
Monfils still uncertain
Gaël Monfils is still hopeful of overcoming the inflamed patella tendons which have kept him off court for the entire European clay season. He came through a light training session on Thursday afternoon on Suzanne Lenglen court accompanied by his coach, Roger Rasheed. The world No11 was moving around very gingerly however, and has yet to decide whether he will be able to defend the points he won here last year when reaching the semi-final. He has asked the tournament organisers for the latest possible start – next Tuesday, therefore – to give himself every chance of being able to play.
Fuuuuuuuuuuck. Love Team Ivanovic's attempt at spin though:
Phew! Concerns go bye bye!
Looks like Baby E didn't sign an endorsement deal so much she just decided to buy some NetJet time.
Does this mean that A-Rad just bought a watch?
Thanks again for posting, Curtis.
Nice article from ESPN The Magazine on Rafa. No shock that they love him. He's precisely the type of athlete they like to put on their cover.
It's always fun to read different writers' take on Rafa. There's never anything substantively new and the essence is always the same, but the way they choose to articulate it is almost always different.
And still Nadal is something of a mystery. He is an international heartthrob in clam diggers. He does everything righthanded -- except play tennis. Asked to describe the moment of winning Wimbledon, Nadal says, "I only remember this." And here he does something unexpected: He closes his eyes and opens his mouth wide in a silent scream of exhilaration, then tosses his head and arms back against the cushions of the couch, re-creating the moment in which he lay on the court, victorious and exhausted.
The reenactment was surprising, but not the economy of the description. He has a savant's ability to distill a problem into its purest elements. Along with warlike intensity and supreme athletic ability, clarity of purpose is one of his defining attributes.
A rain delay before the fifth set sent the players to the locker room. There, Nadal's uncle and coach, Toni Nadal, was met with a burst of his nephew's clarity. "I won the first two sets, so why can't I win another?" Rafa asked. In his mind, he faced the same situation he had faced from the third set on. "What has changed from two sets ago? Every time I am one set away from winning. This is the same: One more set, and I win."
So armed with inarguable logic, he took the court with one goal: make Federer beat him. "My feeling was, Roger can beat me, but I'm not going to have a mistake," Nadal says. "If he beats me, it's because he is playing well, not because I made a mistake." (True to his word, Nadal committed seven unforced errors to Federer's 16 in the fifth set.) He shrugs and adds, "And so I won," as if it's the most obvious thing in the world.
And perhaps my favorite part:
"This is why I don't change," he says. "In my humble opinion, change is stupid. Now people want to know me. But in five or six years, I'll be a regular person. That's the business. If you can't accept that, you're going to have a problem."
Sure, but what about a new house or his own island? He shakes his head and dismisses the idea with a wave of his hypertrophic left arm.
"Why change if you have perfect?"
Inarguable logic, indeed.
Nice to see Masha get a quick and easy win. Let's not rack up the miles on that shoulder, kid. She'll get her first real test against A-Bond tomorrow.
Unfortunately Jay Z got bageled by Zakopalova and Sara Errani was ousted by a Romanian qualifier. I guess she didn't get the memo that Balkan Girls like to party like nobody like nobody. Tough luck.
But in happy news, Dani win over U-Rad in straights and AKO battled for a three set win over Jill Craybas.
Klara Zakopalova (CZE) d. (3) Zheng Jie (CHN) 60 64
(Q) Alexandra Dulgheru (ROU) d. (5) Sara Errani (ITA) 64 63
(6/WC) Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) d. Urszula Radwanska (POL) 63 61
(8) Alona Bondarenko (UKR) d. Marta Domachowska (POL) 63 61
Anne Keothavong (GBR) d. Jill Craybas (USA) 36 63 61
Galina Voskoboeva (KAZ) d. Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR) 64 76(5)
(Q) Ioana Raluca Olaru (ROU) d. Julia Goerges (GER) 63 06 76(3)
(WC) Maria Sharapova (RUS) d. (LL) Darya Kustova (BLR) 62 60
Interesting article by Kamakshi Tandon on what would happen if RG adjusted seedings based on clay performance.
Something tells me Ricardo's going to spearhead any futile lobbying efforts.
Does this mean she'll have to do those pompous commercials where she goes off about how her time is *so* important that it is absolutely necessary for her to take private jets everywhere so that she can stay refreshed?
Though...I guess now she can return Rafa the favor and give him a ride sometime. Heh.
Say it with me, folks: IT ALWAYS COMES BACK TO RAFA.
Beware mothers who post and monitor their sons' profiles on JDate. All this could be yours.
So Serena, devout Jehovah's Witness that she is, who refuses to vote due to her religion and whatnot, is on JDate?
Wikipedia said it, so it must be true.
Also, if she's dating her tennis racquet...ew.
Of all the tennis "journos" Matty C is the only one who knows what he's talking about when he writes about Ana. Clearly he's an AnaKAD, but his level of insight into her current game in the context of her entire career is spot on. To wit:
What separates him from the rest? Oh, I don't know, maybe it's because HE'S ACTUALLY WATCHED HER MATCHES OVER THE COURSE OF HER CAREER. Research can be fun, journos. Go with it.
Anyway, my fave parts:
The image of Mamavic busting out in laughter and calling her kid on her shit is dead money. She must have been really caffeinated that day.
And this pretty much sums it up:
She’s simply not establishing her game like she did in the first part of ‘08, when she would skip around inside the baseline and launch killer, unreachable forehands to the corners. She has the most effective inside-out forehand in WTA history and arguably the best forehand in the game along with Serena and Sania Mirza. “Its one of the best shots in tennis,” Kardon said. “It’s natural, powerful and she has the right feel. She knows which spins to use, can produce short angles, go corner to corner and it really doesn’t matter if the other player knows it’s coming because it’s such a great shot.”
I'm glad Matty C is well-onboard the "GET TO THE FUCKING NET!!!" train.
Sigh. RG is going to be an Ivanovic clusterfuck. That said, it'll be nice to see her on Chartrier and Lenglen again. Or at least, worse comes to worst, one of them.
Thanks to Curtis for posting the link.
Am I the only one that though Fed had Sunday's match in the bag before they even took the court?
Or is Pete setting up a straw man:
Granted, I haven't been over to TW in a while but was this result really *that* surprising and unpredictable? And did Fed's win really tilt the balance of their "rivalry" at all? I mean, I think it does some good for his confidence and says something about his form going into RG. But as between those two I don't think a darn thing's changed.
UPDATED: Jesus. This dude makes Pete look like Bertrand Russell. I mean, really? Fed made a baseball analogy because he said he played a "perfect game"? Not "pitched", "played". Ok, dude. Sure.
I cannot believe that Roland Garros starts in less than a week. I mean, I know the tennis players are already exhausted and whatnot, but seriously, I only get one week to recover from the Monte Carlo/Rome/Stuttgart/Madrid swing?
The 2009 Blogger Roadmap sucks! I call for a mutiny.*
But here's what I am looking forward to:
1. New Towels!
ESPN2 will be airing 56 hours of live tennis. TTC will also be carrying matches and of course NBC has the finals. ESPN 360 will also air matches from 3 other courts not covered by ESPN2. But since I can't get ESPN 360, I don't really care. Bring on the streams.
Sun., May 24 Noon – 6 p.m. Early Round Action Live & Same-day action
Tue., May 26 Noon – 6:30 p.m. Early Round Action Live & Same-day action
Wed., May 27 Noon – 6:30 p.m. Early Round Action Live & Same-day action
Thur., May 28 Noon – 6:30 p.m. Early Round Action Live & Same-day action
Fri., May 29 Noon – 6:30 p.m. Early Round Action Live & Same-day action
Mon, June 1 Noon – 6:30 p.m. Round of 16 Live & Same-day action
Tue., June 2 Noon – 6:30 p.m. Quarterfinals Live & Same-day action
Wed., June 3 Noon – 6:30 p.m. Men’s Quarterfinals Live & Same-day action
Thurs., June 4 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. Women’s Semifinals Live
If it's an excuse to get these two into a non-photoshopped picture together, I'm all for it. The draw will take place on Friday. Please, Ana, help a brother out and put Rafa and Nole in opposite halfs. In otherwords, just keep up with your trend of doing the opposite of what you did last year. That seems to be working out for you.
No other tourney is prone to more surprises than RG. It keeps things interesting for the entire two weeks, as opposed to being able to just slot through the faves in the early rounds. I mean, 2008 RG finalist Dinara Safina? 2007 RG finalist Ana Ivanovic? 2008 RG semifinalist Gael Monfils? Shit happens on clay. I like it that way.
6. Dinara's thoughts on Eurovision.
Always illustrative, insightful, and true. Can't wait to hear her thoughts on Team Norway's momentous victory.
Ok, putting together that post got me a little more excited. What non-tennis-analysis thing are you looking forward to?
* Speaking of mutiny, have you guys listened to this Fresh Air piece on Kathy Marks' book "Lost Paradise"? I found it fascinating.
Grafassi are taking their show to the red dirt of Roland Garros. They're scheduled to play an exo on June 6 at 11am on Court 7.
Aw. So poetic.
Center Court (from 11.00hrs)
1. Olaru vs. Ozegovic (Singles Q Final)
2. Domachowska vs. Amanmuradova (NB 13.00hrs)
3. Garbin vs. Sharapova
4. Piter vs. A.Bondarenko
Court 1 (from 11.00hrs)
1. Kustova vs. Arn (Singles Q Final)
2. Dulgheru vs. Rosolska (Singles Q Final)
3. Govortsova vs. Zheng
4. Wozniak vs. Goerges
Court 2 (from 11.00hrs)
1. Szatmari vs. Tvaroskova (Singles Q Final)
2. Keothavong vs. Mattek-Sands
3. Pironkova vs. K.Bondarenko
4. Frankova/Henke vs. Czink/Grandin (NB 15.00hrs)
WSJ article on match-fixing in the WTA. It's amazing how open and unabashed this Avilov dude is. About his creepyness.
Two bettors said they have paid Mr. Avilov to place tennis bets for them and have been pleased with the returns, although they didn't offer specifics or any proof of payment. Last month, one investor -- an American from Houston -- flew in to meet Mr. Avilov at the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, S.C. The investor said he'd come to pay for Mr. Avilov's hotel room and handed him $3,000 in cash. Mr. Avilov placed online bets for the investor before heading to the tournament each morning. While placing online bets is illegal under U.S. law, the authorities rarely prosecute individual bettors.
This winter, Mr. Avilov discovered Ms. Bychkova, another Russian player coached by her mother, kept a diary on Livejournal.com. He thought she might be interested in making some extra money -- in one blog entry she waxed poetic about a Louis Vuitton purse. In February, after registering for the site, he sent her a match-fixing proposal through a private message.
Both Mr. Avilov and Ms. Bychkova say Ms. Bychkova declined the proposal. She says she didn't tell anyone, including tennis officials, because she thought it would "sound really funny" to report someone she'd never met who contacted her through her blog. "I don't want to fix matches and will never do it," says Ms. Bychkova.
Mr. Avilov says he "definitely" intends to contact other players through online social-networking sites and if the opportunity presents itself, to ask them to fix matches. "My job is to understand these girls and to think like them," he says.