I only watched the tiebreak, so no, I do not know how Fed blew a 5-1 lead in the third set. Hell, even if I did watch the match I still probably wouldn't be able to explain it. But it happened, and to be frank, I'm a bit sad. I was *really* looking forward to a Fed/Muzz showdown tomorrow. See? Even when I root for you, you still fuck me, Fed. Feh.
But many huge ups to Jo. He really held his nerve in the tiebreak after blowing a few match points on Fed's serve in the 12th game. I really didn't think he'd be able to cojoney up and play aggressive but controlled tennis in the breaker. But he did. He'll meet Muzzard tomorrow.
Ok, so with this whole Kim Clijsters comeback thing I've felt like a bit of bitch. I'm just not as excited as a lot of people are and one some level, I kind of don't care. Great, she's back. But let's see her play.
But then I read stuff like this and I'm reminded that I'm not that bad. Because I don't come up with stuff like this:
Is it a mere coincidence that Clijsters is making her return exactly when it's obvious that Sharapova is beat up, the Williams sisters are increasingly erratic, Amelie Mauresmo is working her way out of the picture, and Henin is presently no factor in the game? Perhaps. But I suggest that there might have been some shrewd calculation involved here, too. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, either. All is fair in love, war and tennis. But let's not get carried away and pretend that Clijsters is like one of those old, punch-drunk tomato cans, climbing back into the ring one more time in some doomed, hopeless underdog's Quixotic quest. She did what she had to do - that is, quit - for reasons of her own, and she's coming back for reasons of her own.
So that's my rant, Part II, and it plays into my long-time feeling that Clijsters is not exactly the happy-go-lucky girl next door, upon whom most everyone has bestowed that most anodyne of accolades "She's so. .. nice." My feeling is that she always traded heavily on her niceness, and has expertly done so with this retirement narrative. She's a clever girl, that Kimmy, which is different from being merely nice, even if the two do intersect here and there.
Kim Clijsters is a conniving little Eve, y'all. You heard it here first.
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: How far is the flight? You ask me questions, can I ask you questions? How far is the flight, two hours?
Q. Hour and a half.
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Maybe I go after tomorrow. I was looking to this water park and this adventure, so maybe I go to check it out so I can have a little bit of a distraction.
Dani scored a hard fought and solid win over Bepa, 76(6) 06 76(5). If there was ever a tennis match that proved that naps increase productivity, this was the one. That's the only explanation for Dani's second set disappearance.
Also, as further evidence of the craziness of this sport we call tennis, Bepa won 18 games and Dani won 12. Talk about a match that was decided by a few points.
Center Court (from 12.00hrs)
1. Caroline Wozniacki vs. Elena Dementieva
2. Dinara Safina vs. Kim Clijsters (NB 14.15hrs)
3. Flavia Pennetta vs. Daniela Hantuchova
4. Jelena Jankovic vs. Sybille Bammer (NB 19.00hrs)
5. Llagostera Vives/Martínez Sánchez vs. Kleybanova/Makarova
Grandstand (from 13.00hrs)
1. Dushevina/Rodionova vs. Amanmuradova/Niculescu
"I definitely wasn't as fit as I normally was. I never played worse in my life. It was really a bad match. I think I had about 50 unforced errors. I just did not play well at all. I hit balls in the bottom of the net and made so many unforced errors. Anyone could have beaten me today."
-- Serena, on her third round loss to Sybille Bammer.
So who would have guessed that Kim would be in the tournament longer than Serena and Venus? Her draw sure has helped, as she's faced a bunch of headcasey, beat up ladies (Kuz is coming off a bum foot that forced her out of LA). But having now been able to see her form, I will say that I'm getting closer to the bandwagon. I'm not on the Brad Gilbert "She'll be in the top 5 in 9 months" bandwagon, but more in the "Oh boy, I really don't want her playing any of my favorites any time soon" bandwagon.
Oh shit. That's gonna happen. Kimmy will play Dina tomorrow, in what I believe, is her first true test. Kim leads their H2H 6-1, though Dina won their last meeting in Rome in 2006. Dina has experience ending storybook runs though. She took out Snot Rocket at the AO. Here's hoping that Coconut brings her game and we get a fun match. I'll be interested to see how Kim handles the pace and whether Dina will get rattled by her fine retrieving.
Oh god. I think I'm gonna vomit.
Rafa made his triumphant return and actually played a full match, beating Petzscher 63 62. He looked much better than yesterday, particularly his serve, but every time he lunged for a ball or I heard his shoes squeak to a stop, I cringed. He take on next, who needed three sets and two calls to the trainer (bum right shoulder, apparently) to get past Hanescu.
Oh and Kolya beat Gonzo 76(2) 75. Not that you'd know this seeing as how there are no pictures of that match anywhere.
Huge win for JJ, taking out Vika in straight sets, 75 76(4). She raced out to a 3-0 lead on Vika in the first before Vika clawed her way back in. The second set saw the opposite, as JJ had to fight her way back in to break late and force the tiebreak, no doubt aided by Vika's 11 double faults.
Maybe Vika was distracted by the fug that is that ANTA dress. Couldn't blame her, really.
Because here's the thing. You're playing Sybille Bammer. And yes, while you may be totally intimidated by her 80 foot ball toss, 70 mph serves, and accurate though fluff groundstrokes, you shouldn't be so discombobulated as to completely forget your purpose. Yes, Serena, there was a reason you were in Cincinnati standing on a hot a humid court on a Thursday afternoon. And no, that reason was not to just stand around and see all the different ways you could *not* get the ball over the net and in bounds.
You'd never know who won this match based on the picture.
But it was Andy, who weathered a strong charge by Fer. It was obviously a tight match but at 5-5 in the third, Andy broke Fernando (who basically choked that game away) to serve for the match.
But Fer manned up, saved two match points, and broke back to force a tiebreak (aided by a broken string on match point). He would go on to completely outmuscle Andy on the first two points of the tiebreak and he seemed to have the momentum. But Andy was able to right the ship and Fernando calmed down, which meant that Andy took the tiebreak 75.
Which brings us to everyone's favorite rematch of rematches:
Congrats to Flavia, for playing steady tennis and beating Venus in straight sets, 76 64. Her reward? On Monday she'll become the first Italian woman to ever crack the top 10. She does this at the ripe old age of 27, no less. Much deserved!
Absolutely insane OOPs in Cincy and Montreal today. Couldn't ask for more.
Center Court (from 10.00hrs)
1. Llagostera Vives/Martínez Sánchez vs. Kirilenko/Vesnina
2. Venus Williams vs. Flavia Pennetta (NB 12.00hrs)
3. Kim Clijsters vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova
4. Sybille Bammer vs. Serena Williams
5. Dinara Safina vs. Peng Shuai (NB 19.00hrs)
6. Black/Huber vs. Mattek-Sands/Petrova
Grandstand (from 12.00hrs)
1. Daniela Hantuchova vs. Vera Zvonareva
2. Sorana Cirstea vs. Elena Dementieva
3. Jelena Jankovic vs. Victoria Azarenka
4. Amanmuradova/Niculescu vs. Bondarenko/Bondarenko (NB 19.00hrs)
Court 3 (from 14.00 hrs)
1. Caroline Wozniacki vs. Melinda Czink
2. Ruano Pascual/Zheng vs. Hantuchova/Sugiyama
Matches to watch: Roddick/Verdasco, Muzz/JCF, Petzchner/Rafa, Gonzo Kolya, Fed/Stan, Gilles/Jo.
Rafa's return resulted in a bout half a set of play before Daveed was forced to retire due to a knee injury. I haven't been able to watch the match yet but from what I understand, Rafa looked pretty rusty, particularly his serve. I wonder if he went out to practice after the match or whether he decided to rest the knees.
Best of luck, Daveed. Hope this doesn't affect his US Open.
And Mischa The Giant Killer (literally) followed up his big upset of Marin to take down Halpert 67(8) 61 63. Impressive stuff from the forgotten Russian. Well, not really "the" forgotten Russian. There are lots of them, I guess.
Singles - Second Round
 A Roddick (USA) d I Andreev (RUS) 61 76(3)
 J Del Potro (ARG) d [Q] J Hernych (CZE) 62 75
 J Tsonga (FRA) d R Schuettler (GER) 46 63 64
 G Simon (FRA) d [Q] A Falla (COL) 46 62 62
 F Verdasco (ESP) d L Mayer (ARG) 61 61
[Q] J Ferrero (ESP) d  G Monfils (FRA) 63 76(7)
P Petzschner (GER) d  T Robredo (ESP) 76(3) 76(4)
M Youzhny (RUS) d J Isner (USA) 67(8) 61 63
V Hanescu (ROU) d P Kohlschreiber (GER) 63 46 75
S Wawrinka (SUI) d [LL] A Golubev (KAZ) 75 64
Doubles - Second Round
L Dlouhy (CZE) / P Petzschner (GER) d  B Soares (BRA) / K Ullyett (ZIM) 64 63
Doubles - First Round
[WC] F Dancevic (CAN) / P Duclos (CAN) d N Davydenko (RUS) / I Kunitsyn (RUS) 75 57 14-12
F Lopez (ESP) / F Verdasco (ESP) d S Aspelin (SWE) / P Hanley (AUS) 63 67(1) 10-6
R Lindstedt (SWE) / M Melo (BRA) d T Parrott (USA) / F Polasek (SVK) 63 76(4)
It was a day of strong challenges that fell just short as, for the most part (*cough*AnaAga*cough*) the seeds came through. MaKiri stuck with JJ for much of the first set before she dropped the tiebreak 8-6. From there, JJ took the second set 63 for the win. But don't worry MaKiri, you still double bageled her and spat in her face at the net in the fashion department.
In the now-more-frequent-then-we'd-expect Woz/Woz match, Caro survived a scare from Aleks, dropping the first 46 before coming back to take the next two tight ones, 64 64. Maybe Aleks is saving herself for Canadaland.
As for my favorite racquet smasher with a vagina (an important distinction so long as Marat is still playing), Bepa got 'sticked in the second by Kleybs and had to battle out the third to a 75 win. Survive and move on, Casper.
As for A-Rad, how do you get bageled by Mama Bammer? I think her new Babolat skirt distracted her. She's never seen a logo before.
Singles - Second Round
(4) Elena Dementieva (RUS) d. (Q) Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) 63 64
(5) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) d. (WC) Maria Kirilenko (RUS) 76(6) 63
(7) Vera Zvonareva (RUS) d. Alisa Kleybanova (RUS) 64 16 75
(8) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) d. Aleksandra Wozniak (CAN) 46 64 64
(9) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) d. Anna Chakvetadze (RUS) 64 62
Melinda Czink (HUN) d. (11) Ana Ivanovic (SRB) 76(6) 75
Sybille Bammer (AUT) d. (13) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 60 75
(14) Flavia Pennetta (ITA) d. Agnes Szavay (HUN) 62 64
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) d. Anna-Lena Groenefeld (GER) 63 62
Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) d. Alona Bondarenko (UKR) 75 16 64
Peng Shuai (CHN) d. María José Martínez Sánchez (ESP) 57 62 61
(WC) Kim Clijsters (BEL) d. Patty Schnyder (SUI) 62 75
Doubles - First Round
Kirilenko/Vesnina (RUS/RUS) d. Chuang/Yan (TPE/CHN) 64 60
Here's all you need to know about Ana's current form: In 2004 she won her first WTA title in Canberra. Know who she beat in the final?
In other words, its back to square one for Baby Elephant. Not entirely sure she realizes that yet, which is why losses like this one will keep piling up until she realizes she has to stop and completely regroup. Unfortunately, the tennis season doesn't really allow for that. It's a treadmill you can't hop off, especially when you're a top player (and yes, I'm using "top player" loosely here).
Kimmy put another notch on her belt, beating perrenial WTA punching bag Peppermint Patty, 62 75. Looks like a solid match from Kim, serving at 65% with 4 aces and 2 DFs. Yes, that is the extent of my match analysis. What more can you really glean from livescore?
Here's Boyfriend's take on the Clijster Comeback, among other things.
Thanks to Rhian for sending this along and thanks to the Academy (aka the UK's Ace Magazine) for the shout out. Between this and last year's Sports Business Journal mention, my head is getting *pretty* damn big.
But "very American"? COME ON. How much love do I have for Muzz, AKO, and L-Rob? Oh, you guys don't say "dude" in the UK? Well then yeah...I have no idea how you can understand this site.
Well, shoot, if I'm going to be accused of being "very American," what better way to celebrate than with a clip from one of my favorite movies of all time, Wet Hot American Summer:
Andy Murray on the Wimbledon final:
And on Marat's comments:
Again with the math fail. 180, people. 180!
Center Court (from 11.00hrs)
1. Jelena Jankovic vs. Maria Kirilenko
2. Kim Clijsters vs. Patty Schnyder (NB 12.30hrs)
3. Yanina Wickmayer vs. Elena Dementieva
4. Kirilenko/Vesnina vs. Chuang/Yan
5. Kateryna Bondarenko vs. Serena Williams (NB. 19.00hrs)
6. Black/Huber vs. Mirza/Schiavone
Grandstand (from 11.00hrs)
1. Alisa Kleybanova vs. Vera Zvonareva
2. Caroline Wozniacki vs. Aleksandra Wozniak
3. Melinda Czink vs. Ana Ivanovic
4. Kleybanova/Makarova vs. Pennetta/Raymond
5. Senoglu/Shvedova vs. Mattek-Sands/Petrova
Court 3 (from 11.00 hrs)
1. Anna Chakvetadze vs. Victoria Azarenka
2. Alona Bondarenko vs. Daniela Hantuchova (NB 12.30hrs)
3. Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Sybille Bammer
4. Oudin/Perry vs. Hantuchova/Sugiyama (after suitable rest)
5. Ruano Pascual/Zheng vs. Dulko/Peer
Court 4 (from 11.00 hrs)
1. Agnes Szavay vs. Flavia Pennetta
2. María José Martínez Sánchez vs. Peng Shuai (NB 12.30 hrs)
3. Anna-Lena Groenefeld vs. Sorana Cirstea
4. Hsieh/Peng vs. Dushevina/Rodionova (after suitable rest)
Matches to watch: Schuettler vs. Tsonga, JCF vs. Monfils, Roddick vs. Igor, Daveed vs. Rafa, and Gonzo vs. Tommy.
But at least he won, taking a tight match over Polanksy the Canuck, 64 76(6). Nole was an error machine so there's still some rust to shake off. But survive and move on, I always say.
Muzz returned with a fairly easy win over Jeremy, 4 and 2, and JCF scored a solid win over Lleyton, 1 and 4. And in the marathon matches of the day, Haasi, Fer and PEHK all notched wins over Ivo, FeLo, and Big Byrd, respectively. Really nice wins for Tommy and Techno.
From yesterday's presser:
More from yesterday's post match presser from Ana. Interesting to hear her say that the service motion changed because her toss went off the rails, that she's enjoying her new-found independence, and that she does intend to hire a new team.
That is a true fan. She's wearing the Olympic kit and showing off her belly and everything. Good on you, Papa. He's even rockin the Krajan hair.
Dina needed all the help she could get to scrape by Roberta Vinci today. She dropped the first 26 and then had to battle back from breaks down in the second and third set, before breaking for the win, 26 75 64. Looks like the serve was pretty wonktastic, as she threw in 10 double faults.
Dina's not the only one who had to grind out a win. It took Sorana 75 75 to beat Meghan Shaughnnessy (she's still playing?), Dani had to come back from a set down to beat Errani, And Agnes needed 5 and 5 to take out the always riveting Ula.
Bethanie's blogging from Cincinnati. Love that her warmup with Nads consisted of getting a latte and powerwalking through the mall:
I wonder if she ran into Mono at the Waffle House. It's food not feelings, Marion.
Despite the LA tournament organizers trying their best to make this the most annoying tourney ever, I had a blast attending the tournament. It really could have sucked. The night before I was set to take off, both Dina and Ana lost, the latter being unsurprising and the former being, well, possibly a game changer. I mean, I was shelling out $500 to *not* see Dinara? What the fuck?
But it all proved to be worth it. Despite the 8 dollar beers, prohibition on bringing in outside food or drink (though that didn't stop *some* people), and getting yelled at for bringing in a camera with a lens longer than 3 inches, it was so great to be in the sun and watch tennis. But what made it awesome was the great company of Victoria, Katie, and Tracy, and the great matchups and high quality tennis (uh...let's ignore the hell that was the two hour Masha/Ula clusterfuck).
Highlights after the jump.
From Marat's post-match presser:
Q. Because after years when she wasn’t playing so well, are you enjoying it now?
MARAT SAFIN: I’m enjoying it, but she ?? she’s a hard worker. So for her, everything is like a battle. She wants it. She wants it badly. She spends so much time on court. I think she is more professional than all the players together.
So when she’s trying and she’s ?? nobody believed that she’s going to be No. 1 in the world. Nobody believed that she going to be top 10 even two, three years ago.
So look where she is right now. A lot of people they giving her trouble, okay, she’s No. 1 in the world but she never won a Grand Slam.
So it’s a little bit ?? it gets tough on her. But she’s there. She’s fighting. She’s trying. I’m really proud of her that she can stand, and I tell everybody to fuck off basically in every press conference. I would do this way, but unfortunately she’s very polite to you guys.
But I’m really proud that she’s holding up herself even though that’s somebody can be really rough on her. She’s there. I hope she can be No. 1 for a long time so she can prove to everybody that they can go fuck themselves.
Q. When she became No. 1 and joined you as the only brother/sister as No. 1, did you have a celebration together?
MARAT SAFIN: We will. I’m really proud. I’m not proud of myself so much as I’m proud of my sister because she’s ?? everybody spoke about me. I know she’s the younger one. I was No. 1 in the world, and everybody expected from her, well, we’ll see where she can get to. And she made it. She pulled through and became No. 1 in the world.
Well, she’s in ?? in every Grand Slam she’s in the semifinal. She’s getting to the finals. So it really makes me proud to have such a great sister, and I’m going to leave something, or our family will leave something in tennis.
Q. Now that you stopped, what about coaching her?
MARAT SAFIN: Oh, you want me to hang myself? (laughter.)
Ana's tinkering with her serve.
"I started changing it and I started making a big issue out of it," she said. "The more I thought about it, the more pressure I put on myself trying to hit the perfect serve.
"Instead of just relaxing... it went down the pipe pretty far."
Ivanovic joked: "I'm so confused right now it doesn't matter. In the past two months, I changed it five or six times, trying to figure out what feels most natural.
The Serb believes she is close to fixing the problem with the shorter swing.
"Hopefully I found what is going to give me the most power and most consistency," she said. "I just tried it in practice the other day and it felt pretty good straightaway, so hopefully it will stay that way."
An oddly refreshing quote, though let's face it, it's a bit disconcerting that she's tinkering with her serve while she's got no coach and no fitness trainer. We'll see.
"I'm realistic. I know I am not going to win (another title). There is no way. It's getting tougher and tougher with each tournament. It really gets into you and it's not easy to play. Every match is a battle. It's tough not to choke in the important moments. But I want to finish up in a right note. I should enjoy it more. I just want to finish up nice."
-- Marat, on how much fun his retirement tour has been. More interesting quotes in the link.
Interesting quotage from James LaRosa's blog on friendships on tour. Much like James, I too am obsessed with wanting these girls to (a) be buddies on tour and (b) be buddies with me (well not all of them, just the awesome ones, cuz that's how I roll). It's cute to see CanWoz down on court and congratulating Caro in her semifinal win in that fake clay tournament that I can't think of right now, or Caro coming standing courtside cheering on Sorana, despite the fact that she was already out of the tournament. And I like to think that, especially among the veteran players, that as crazy as I make these women out to be, they're actually way awesome people that I just want to drink beers with and watch get into bar fights (I'm looking at you, Flavs).
Unfortunately, it looks like the stakes are just too high these days, for both the men and the women. Per Marat:
So what you're saying is that *after* tennis you and Dina will be BFFs? Sigh. Fine, I'll take it.
Oh, and just because I can and should, y'all should follow James on Twitter. You'll thank me later: http://www.twitter.com/JamesLaRosa
Center Court (from 11.00hrs)
1. Errani vs. Hantuchova
2. Safina vs. Vinci
3. Safarova vs. Kuznetsova
4. Clijsters/Wickmayer vs. Oudin/Perry
5. V.Williams vs. Govortsova (NB 19.00hrs)
6. Granville/Gullickson vs. Amanmuradova/Niculescu
Grandstand (from 11.00hrs)
1. Peng vs. Cibulkova
2. Shaughnessy vs. Cirstea
3. Petrova vs. A.Bondarenko
4. A.Radwanska vs. Sugiyama
5. Bondarenko/Bondarenko vs. Groenefeld/Schnyder
6. Dulko/Peer vs. Shaughnessy/Wozniacki (NB 19.00hrs)
Court 3 (from 11.00hrs)
1. Wickmayer vs. Schiavone
2. Kirilenko vs. Shvedova
3. Morita vs. Pennetta
4. Bammer vs. Zheng
Court 4 (from 11.00hrs)
1. U.Radwanska vs. Szavay
2. Kleybanova vs. Rezai
3. Martínez Sánchez vs. Dushevina
4. Mirza/Schiavone vs. Koryttseva/Poutchek
Matches to watch: Hewitt vs. JCF, FeLo vs. Fer, Muzz vs. Jeremy, Haas vs. Ivo