Augh. I still love you, you bastard. I could listen to him talk all day.
"My first thought [on being diagnosed] was ’oh shit, why me.’ But two minutes later it was: ’what do I do now? How do I get out of this?’ Then you get into the solution. That’s when you start fighting. When I had to go through the treatment, failure never occurred to me. When you play tennis, you never think about the possibility of losing until the moment you have lost the match.
That was the approach I took to the cancer: I will win. After all, what else are you going to do? Let it win?”
How can you not love Martina Navritalova. Some people are quitting Twitter, some people are running marathons, some people are playing exos. I'm not belittling any of that (though I do have problems with the notion that (1) "sacrificing" social media constitutes a sacrifice of anything and (2) multimillion-dollar celebrities are asking regular folks to donate money when it's unclear the celebs are donating any money themselves). Charity is charity and it's a credit to anyone who uses their name and celebrity for a good cause.
But let's be real. Martina pwns them all.
"Hopefully it will represent a positive, finishing touch to a year that pretty much sucked."
"I'm still here. I had a birthday last month. And when people ask me, 'How are you doing?' I say, 'I have 10 toes, 10 fingers and two boobs!' "
And the heart. Don't forget the heart.
Good luck, Martina! Next stop, THE MOON.
A gazillion thanks to @annie_121 for sending this along.
“It was difficult at the beginning but, after a tough time, probably because I had this difficult time, I was able to play with ambition all season. All the time I was trying to keep winning and keep playing well because when you spend 11 months without a victory, you really know how difficult it is to win tournaments.”
I still have to do a double take when I see Ana ahead of Masha. It seemed as Masha was actually part of the conversation at every Slam, while Ana had an eight month pity party. Solid years from Nails and Shahar (though really, how did that happen?) and nice to see Lil' Mash and Pavs finish the year with the highest year-end rankings of their careers. Hell, that can be said of a lot of the ladies: Caro, Bepa, Sam, Fran, Nails and Shahar, to name a few.
As for the guys, it's still weird to see Mischa in the top 10 and I'm shocked that Marin's first six weeks basically carried him to a top 15 ranking. But what's really surprising is the Tournaments Played stat.
Muzz played the fewest number of tournaments in the top 25, only 19, which is two fewer than the three big boys ahead of him. Sod played 24 tourneys and Tomas played 26(!), and I don't think this includes Davis Cup ties.
Marcos played 29 tournaments? That just makes his participation in New Haven either Herculean or Dumb and Dumber, depending on your take. Speaking of Dumb and Dumber, Sam Q really needs to take a look at his schedule next year. 27 tournaments? No wonder the guy was gassed through the second half of the year.
I'm still blown away that Andy only played 19 tournaments. That explains my state of constant longing.
Posted by C Note on November 29, 2010 in Ana Ivanovic, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Andy Murray, ATP, Caroline Wozniacki, Francesca Schiavone, Marcos Baghdatis, Maria Kirilenko, Maria Sharapova, Marin Cilic, Na Li, Robin Soderling, Sam Querrey, Sam Stosur, Shahar Peer, Vera Zvonereva, WTA | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
Masha glams up for Russian InStyle and as is her wont, she alternates between looking glamourous and looking Emily Gilmour. It's weird. You're 23 years old. Stop dressing like you're going to a PTA meeting in Beverly Hills.
(Pic: WTA Tour Site)
Some choice quotes from the WTFs to round out the ATP year:
Q. To jump to the No. 1 position in the world, will you have to attack more?
ANDY MURRAY: I think against certain guys. When I played Roger and Rafa the last few times I played them, I played very aggressive tennis. That's what you need to do against them. Against some guys you need to defend more.
You know, if you play against a guy that serves 140 miles an hour on the first serve, you can't attack. So you need to balance it depending on the opponent, depending on the match, the stage of the match.
I think I've improved that side of my game. I've worked on serve-volleying, you know, in some matches the last few weeks. I think I've attacked a lot better towards the end of this year than I was at the beginning.
Q. So if you weren't obligated to be on the other side of the net, fair to say [Rafa's] your kind of an athlete, your kind of guy?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, as far as what? Do I think he's cute?
Q. Today the French team is starting to prepare for the finals. Do you know where are Troicki and Tipsarevic are? Are they preparing for the finals?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I'm not saying anything. It's a big secret (smiling).
No, they're starting to prepare, as well. They're getting very serious. I think they never played better in their lives. Just for the French team, one notice.
Q. You keep in touch?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Of course. It's unbelievable. They're feeling the ball incredible. Seeing it like a watermelon. I'm kidding (laughter).
(Pic: Novak's Official Site)
Q. I'm just asking you if you feel confident, because even if you're not in great shape, you were still capable to fight for three sets versus Nadal, who won three matches in a row, and you won all the others in two sets.
ANDY RODDICK: I appreciate your optimism. You can have a future in coaching with that synopsis.
Q. He's tried it.
ANDY RODDICK: I would ask how it went, but you're here (laughter).
Q. You're still an active player. Have you ever thought what you will be doing at the end of your career? Would you like more to be a tennis coach or a TV commentator and a journalist?
ANDY RODDICK: You only gave me two options. I don't want an either/or question (laughter).
I don't know. I don't think I would coach. I have a feeling I would last about six months commentating before I said something inappropriate - maybe less. So I'm not sure. Plus I'm not very opinionated, so might not go well for me (laughter).
Q. Is [Maradona] just here on holiday, just watching?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: He's actually doing coaching, you didn't know that, for me (smiling)? We're working on some specifics, like how to play with hands, high balls (laughter).
Q. I'm intrigued with you saying you don't think you have much chance to beat Rafa. You beat him the last time on hard courts. Why don't you think you'll have a good chance this time?
ANDY MURRAY: Well, I mean, he's obviously the best player in the world. I've watched his matches here. He's been playing unbelievably well. You know, I don't seem to beat those guys in the big matches. So, you know, I'm going to have to play my best tennis against him to win. I need to do it in a big match, in the semis. I have to see whether I can do that or not.
Q. So you're not confident?
ANDY MURRAY: No, not really. But I'll try and win against him.
Source: ASAP Sports.
Rafa broke Fed's streak of six straight years as the players' choice for the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award. So can Rafa fans use the same "Oh yeah? If he's such a bad sportsman how come the players voted for him? Surely they know better than we do" argument to defend their boy? Yeah, probably not.
Oh, and please tell me it came down to Tomas' vote:
“I was trying to just decide between two names, him and Roger. I just decide to go for Rafa. I think he really deserves it. Just was a little bit disappointing after what I read in London, when I play against Roger and beat him. He was a little bit complaining about how he was injured and stuff like that. It was just kind of surprise for me. So maybe that was just the reason I vote for Rafa.”
*ear piercing hawk cry* Berdy grew claws.
The comment is particularly apropos given Rafa's post-match comments on whether fatigue affected his play against Fed:
"I'm not going to say I lost the match because I was tired. I feel I lost because I played against a very good Roger Federer on one of his favorite surfaces. And when he's playing like this, it's very difficult to stop him, no?"
It's never too early to start campaigning.
I didn't watch the match. Part of it was tennis fatigue, part of it was Moose-related depression, but most of it was the fact that I find Fed/Rafa matches played outside of a Slam to be the opposite of riveting. I'll tune into their matches on clay because I just love clay-court tennis, but otherwise, meh. The hype is always deafening, the hyperbole mind-blowing, and the quality tends to be rather disappointing.
I don't mean this to be a knock on Rafa and Fed. I actually think that if I could watch the match on mute and not read or hear any journo or fan commentary in the days and hours leading up to the match I actually might enjoy it. I mean, they're both very good tennis players. Two of the greatest. Simple science would indicate that a match between the two of them should be riveting stuff.
But I'm a hater. I'm a contrarian. And if I have to listen to hundreds of people tell me that "IT DOESN'T GET BETTER THAN THIS!" then I'll pretty much throw up a middle finger and tell them to shut the fuck up. I won't tolerate any "IF YOU DON'T LIKE THIS, YOU DON'T LIKE TENNIS" proclamations. I will not stand for any insinuation that just because these two guys are on the court, it is the best match of the week, let alone the last six months.
I'm not saying I'm right and I'm not saying it's mature. I'm just saying this is how I feel. Please don't shove this rivalry down my throat. Please don't hype one storyline (FED HAS TO WIN THIS MATCH TO REMAIN RELEVANT) only so your story pitch works either way (FED'S STILL RELEVANT! FED'S TOAST!).
It was a match, played at a tournament that is not a Grand Slam, at the end of the year, after Fed had gone 21-2 since the USO and picked up two indoor trophies. Fed hadn't dropped a set all week and looked sharp. Rafa was forced to scrap through two three-set matches, one of which was the best three setter of the year just yesterday.
The result? Not surprising. Fed never went anywhere. He's the #2 player in the world for a reason. He won a Slam this year and he is *always* part of the conversation. He hasn't gone anywhere and this rivalry will be relevant until Fed retires.
So congrats to Fed. He bookends his 2010 season with a couple of significant titles and reminds all the idiots who have forgotten -- seriously, who are these people, where are they, and why do journos and fans keep referencing them? -- that he should be feared in 2011.
(Pics: Getty, AFP)
36 hours later and I'm still a bit numb about it all. It was the best best-of-three match of 2010 against two guys who brought their A-games. It was one of those matches where you just didn't want either player to lose, not because of rooting interests, but because you knew how gutted that player would be if they lost a match like this. It was wall-to-wall shot-making, "gets" that made you throw up your hands in disbelief, and clutch hitting and serving in the moments that mattered. It made you love tennis players, tennis fans, the game of tennis itself.
And once again, Andy's best wasn't good enough. Let's face it, that's the upshot.
He had every shot in his arsenal working. He served well (22 aces!). And his movement was impeccable. Aside from that idiotic back-to-back drop shot game early in the third that virtually gifted Rafa the break -- a break Andy would get back later -- he played a perfect match. 22 aces, 85% first serve points won, he was broken only once in the match, and he won 114 points to Rafa's 109. Hell, he was up 4-1 in the third set tiebreak.
But despite all that he just couldn't come through in either of the two tiebreaks. When the stakes were high and the pressure so oppressive as to render Twitter silent, Rafa was better at "being better". Andy didn't crumble in those breakers. He made Rafa play and he still lost. Put simply, Andy played his best and Rafa was still better.
I always wonder what's more disheartening for an athlete: playing like crap and losing, or playing well and losing. Personally, when I played sports, the former would piss me off more but the latter made me all emo and cause me to do some soul-searching. There's no shorter road to Bummertown than realizing that your best isn't good enough. It's kind of soul-crushing, actually.
But it sounds like Andy is taking well. At least as well as one could expect him to.
"It was a great match to finish the year. But I need to improve because I’m competing with the two best players of all time. So if I want to win these tournaments, I want to win the Grand Slams, I need to get better."
Here's hoping that this loss lights a white-hot flame under his ass as he heads to Florida for his off-season preparations. Keep on working, Moose.
Because first things first, you owe someone some diamonds.
Match highlights for those who missed it, after the jump.
Sod, Muzz, and Nole own this video. But really, it's all about Nole's smug charm and Muzz's dry wit.
"Death." *long pause* "Understandable."
Random fact: This line was totally improvised.
Caroline Wozniacki is the new face of ProActiv. Her ProActiv story is full of hilares. First of all, you weren't really in the public eye at 15, kid. Let's be real. Second, her dad pointed it out? RUDE! Third, you know she's totally referring to JJ in the fifth paragraph. Heh. Last, I totally know ProActiv works but maybe it would a better sell if they didn't post clearly photoshopped pictures of her.
Oh, also, she's recorded a song for charity called "Oxygen", which, incidentally, is also good for the skin. According to Piotr, the song is about how a woman needs a man like she needs oxygen. Which...is not how I was brought up.
I'm going to need those Coronas.
All of them.
Go Andy. Go Nole.
And no, I don't mean go home.
CENTRE COURT start 12:15 pm
 B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) vs  D Nestor (CAN) / N Zimonjic (SRB)
Not Before 2:00 PM
 R Nadal (ESP) vs  A Murray (GBR)
Match Starts at 6:15 PM
 M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) vs  M Bhupathi (IND) / M Mirnyi (BLR)
Not Before 8:00 PM
 R Federer (SUI) vs  N Djokovic (SRB)
Ok, so as best I can understand it, here's what happened. At 15-all with Rafa serving to force a first set tiebreak, Tomas hits a ball that the linesman calls good. Rafa hits the ball back into the court but puts his finger up as if to signal that he's stopping play to issue a challenge. But a second after Rafa does this (and his body language totally indicated he was planning to stop play) Carlos Bernardes overules and audibly calls the ball out. Tomas complains and Carlos tells him he can challenge. Tomas does and Hawkeye reveals the ball is in.
Here's where shit gets "wha?"
Carlos awards the point to Tomas. Carlos is totally wrong. Irrespective of Rafa's body language, Carlos is the one who called the ball out. Rafa hit the ball back into play. The fact that Hawkeye proved him to be wrong means the point should have been replayed because Rafa was there to get the ball back into play.
Am I wrong here? I mean, yes, Rafa was going to challenge the ball anyway, and if he had he would have lost the point for stopping play. But he didn't. Carlos made the call. Carlos was wrong. Replay the point.
I'm pretty sure Tomas regrets ever calling the challenge. After Rafa went off on Carlos and the tournament referee he went off on the tennis ball. All fired up he would go on to one of those "Ruh roh. Now I know why they call him 'The Bull'" runs to clinch the first set and cruise to victory.
You mess with the bull, you get the horns.
(Pics: Getty, AP)
Ah, Thanksgiving. A day where TSA agents will "Pope" thousands of reluctant travelers, mothers and grandmothers will fist a headless bird with breadcrumbs and chestnuts (kinky!), and dysfunctional families will avoid awkward personal conversations by talking about Brett Favre's cock and eating their feelings in the form of a small feast that could feed a bustling African village.
God Bless America, I say.
It is also a time to stop and be thankful. At least that's what I was told in second grade when I was tracing my hand to make a turkey out of construction paper. Those were innocent times.
Things I Am Thankful For:
Now go eat your fucking turkeys, turkeys. The shrill voice of Liezel compels you.
I play tennis, I wear a hat, *and* I have a full head of hair. AND WHUT.
Andy came into this match having beaten Tomas in all three of their 2010 meetings. He lost in straight sets despite having a set point in the first and goes 0-2, virtually assuring his elimination. Oh, and he yelled at Mo. Not ok.
And so once again, Andy gets all excited and then runs full force into the glass window. Actually, that's probably why he's lost so much hair.
Seriously though. Cute.
(Pics: AP, Getty)
HOW DO YOU NOT HAVE LASIK???
I have horrible eyesight. I've worn glasses since the 6th grade. I was a regular contact wearer through college. After my first year of law school I went to the optometrist and he informed me that my eyesight had gotten 100% worse. "Are you a law student?" "Yep. How'd you know?" "You guys read a lot and are in front of the computer all the time. It makes your eyes go bad quick. Wear your glasses, instead of contacts. Glasses put less strain on your eyes." So I did. And my eyesight has remained stable for 10 years.
Meanwhile, particularly in the past five years, all my friends are getting Lasik. Seriously, it's, like, the thing to do. At first I was like "NOOOOOOOO!!! Don't get Lasik! Your glasses are part of your look!!!" But, it turns out that no, their glasses weren't a part of their look and actually, they look awesome and couldn't be happier.
Me? I still fall asleep with my glasses on, wake up with them off, and pray every morning that I haven't broken them somehow in my heavy slumber.
But you know what? I AM NOT A PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE.
A wonky contact lens turned what was a scintillating match between, for my money, the best rivalry in tennis (yes, I would rather pay money to watch Rafa/Nole than Fed/Rafa), into a confusing anti-climactic straigth set win for Rafa. I mean, yay for Rafa, but damn this had the makings of another classic clash between these two.
Novak belly is a small consolation. But I'll take it.
Oh, you want more "news"? Um...she really likes Green Day. She's been tweeting about them all night. Oddly, Tennis Australia announced her withdrawal 9 minutes after her last Green Day tweet.
Of course, me being the idiot, my immediate thought was "Shit! Who's going to be the top seed???"
Sorry for the dis, Caro.
Nole hit the practice court with an ungelled Fer.
And Marian did a handstand:
Impressive, actually. Nice to have him back.
(Pics: Novak's website)
ORDER OF PLAY - WEDNESDAY, 24 NOVEMBER, 2010
CENTRE COURT start 12:15 pm
 L Kubot (POL) / O Marach (AUT) vs  W Moodie (RSA) / D Norman (BEL)
Not Before 2:00 PM
 T Berdych (CZE) vs  A Roddick (USA)
Not Before 6:15 PM
 D Nestor (CAN) / N Zimonjic (SRB) vs  M Bhupathi (IND) / M Mirnyi (BLR)
Not Before 8:00 PM
 R Nadal (ESP) vs  N Djokovic (SRB)
New kit, old habits.
My man Moose has been described as many things: clever, miserable, pasty as a vampire. But perhaps above all those entirely accurate descriptions one thing has remained true throughout the 2009-10 seasons: He is consistently inconsistent. You never know which Andy will show up on any given day and that is the stress that Moose Heads must deal with on a weekly basis. One day he's making Rafa look a step slow and predictable, the next he looks like he has no business being in a Grand Slam final. One week he's making Fed look one step away from calling it a career, the next he looks like he doesn't even belong in the same league.
Andy can't be counted on. Even he knows this. He's said that his goal in 2011 is to become more consistent. Unfortunately it's still 2010.
Fed was sharp today, no doubt. Andy would have needed his A-game make this a competitive match. But for whatever reason, in front of his friends and family, on a court that suits his game perhaps more than anyone else, against an opponent he has had past and recent success against, he just plain didn't have it. He was flat, he played with no conviction, no passion, and he slinked away from this match lucky not to have been sent home with a bag full of pastries.
So it goes. It's no surprise or shock that he lost yesterday to Fed. Had this been a competitive three-setter no one would have flinched if Fed had come out on top. But Andy was flat out crap. For a guy who is one of the most competitive players on the tour the trend is utterly perplexing. Even more disconcerting is the fact that he has no idea why this keeps happening.
He'll have a must win match against Daveed on Thursday, who lost to Sod in straights today.
Damn you, Moose, for making me root for Fed.
The London WTFs have, at least so far, been a rousing success, a packed house for every session and a some nice celebrity spotting, as well. Who knew Betty Draper was such a tennis fan? I know that expressionless look anywhere.
He was however, very sad to learn that those white lines were actually painted on the court.
"Haha. If I could have used this hand I would have, too. Suck it, England!"
Alway class, that Diego. Always class.
You know he's way better than you at wearing a suit and looking otherwise dapper? Well this is me hoping that you're way better than him at hitting a tennis ball tomorrow.
Sweep the leg, Ginger.
CENTRE COURT start 12:15 PM
 L Dlouhy (CZE) / L Paes (IND) vs  J Melzer (AUT) / P Petzschner (GER)
Not Before 2:00 PM
 R Federer (SUI) vs  A Murray (GBR)
Not before 6:15 PM
 B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) vs  M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL)
Not before 8:00 PM
 R Soderling (SWE) vs  D Ferrer (ESP)
As expected, Nole took care of business against Tomas. So the story of the day was Rafa's three-set come from behind win over a valiant RAndy. Taking the court for the first time in five weeks, it sounds like Rafa was about as sharp as his oddly-muddled technicolor kit. I haven't seen the match yet, but A-Rod said that once Rafa found his range on his forehand in the second set, the match completely changed.
The win should give Rafa quite a bit of confidence going into his Wednesday night clash with Novak. This is his first win at the O2 arena:
“I can play with a little bit more calm the next match. But even if I lose the next match, I’m still going to have chances to be in the semis. So that's relaxing me a little bit more. Is very positive victory for me and very, very important.”
Rafa's now 69-9 for the year. Pathetic excuse for a tennis player.
Q. The new schedule was announced today. I would like to know your thoughts about it. There won’t be a break between Paris and London.
ROGER FEDERER: You mean Paris and London, the indoor stretch, not the summer one?
ROGER FEDERER: But there is a Paris and London kind of stretch in the summer that is somewhat important (smiling).
Was it something I said?
Here's a funny stat. I have attended eight WTA tournaments over the past three years. Serena's been at one of them (Stanford, 2009).
No word on who will replace her but a formal announcement will be made tomorrow. But from a selfish perspective I'll just say that Andy and Laura's group has gotten a tick easier, no?
Day 1 went by with little fanfare or drama. Day 2 brings the return of Rafa, who's been sidelined since losing to Jurgen in Shanghai in the beginning of October. He'll take on A-Rod. They last met during Andy's white hot run through the Spring hardcourt season when Andy bounced Rafa in three sets on his way to the Miami title.
It's hard to know how Rafa's feeling physically but the year-end championships are one of the few empty checkmarks on his career card. He won't like this low-bouncing court but I'll take a well-rested Rafa any day of the week and twice on Sundays.
But the first singles match of the day will see Nole take on his Wimby dream-ruiner, Tomas. Nole's already exacted revenge during Davis Cup, but let's go ahead and double up, shall we? Given their current form it'll be a shock if Tomas can pull off the upset here.
CENTRE COURT Start At 12:15 PM
 M Bhupathi (IND) / M Mirnyi (BLR) vs  L Kubot (POL) / O Marach (AUT)
Not Before 2:00 PM
 N Djokovic (SRB) vs  T Berdych (CZE)
Start At 6:15 PM
 D Nestor (CAN) / N Zimonjic (SRB) vs  W Moodie (RSA) / D Norman (BEL)
Not Before 8:00 PM
 R Nadal (ESP) vs  A Roddick (USA)
Awww...he tries so hard.
But that'll be 0-11 against Fed. Daveed didn't hold serve until the second set and fought valiantly. He even had three game points when Fed was serving for the match. But Fed was able to summon some big serves when he needed them and finally closed out the match. He'll face Moose on Tuesday (!!!).
But whatever. DAVEED BELLY.
So here's the thing. I went to see Harry Potter last night at a theater that allows you to drink. This theater has basically revolutionized the way I watch movies, insofar as now I watch movies in the theater while drunk.
All this is to say that 1 Fruli, 1 sidecar, two "Gryffindors", and 1 Trumer means that (1) Um...I'm going to need to rewatch Harry Potter and (2) I'm staring at this incredibly awesome picture of Fed and I just can't come up with the perfect caption. It's infuriating. Also infuriating? The slow burning hangover I've been nursing all day.
So anyway, this is what I got.
"Hey! Look at that asshole!"
Even Andy will admit that you never know which Andy will show up on any given day. Today, the one that is very good at this little game called "tennis" showed up. Freshly argyled (Really? NOW you finally get a new kit?) Moose Boy looked in control and hit the court ready to run. He was serving well, running everything down, and made it clear early that if Sod wanted to win a point, he was going to have to either get to the net or win 15+ shot rallies.
Sod didn't have the legs for the rallies (he said after the match that he was fatigued) and Andy made him look a fool every time he came to the net. All in all, a clinical takedown by the Green Goblin.
Oh, come on. Those Murray women are hared to please.
This "dead week" in between Paris and the WTFs is such a waste. You know the players want to get this over with, the fans want to get this over with, everyone wants to get this over with except for the Paris tourney director, who surely knows that if the WTFs were held immediately after his tournament, everybody be losin' in the first round of Bercy.
But seriously, how dumb has this been? We don't need two days of suited photo-ops. I don't need to see pictures of Andy Murray trying to remember if he zipped his fly while in deep conversation with David Cameron. Eliminate the dead week! All the teasing is all fine and dandy at other parts of the season, but right now it's just making me impatient, annoyed, and really, I would just rather roll over and go to sleep.
All this is to say, thank the Lawd that play finally begins tomorrow. Group B, a.k.a. "Group Love/Hate", kicks off play at 7 a.m. EST.
The Moose will take on the man who supplanted him at #4. Swede vs. Scot. Paris vs. Shanghai. Hitter vs. Homeboy. Viking vs. Ginger. I could go on. But I'll stop.
For no other reason than the fact that Moose is more well-rested, and because I love him unconditionally, I'll tap Andy.
I also think he'll win.
Second up are Fed vs. Daveed.