I mean, can any of us blame her?
After a fantastic performance by Believe to completely destroy Fran (who let's face it, played like absolute shit), the pressure was on Flavi to pull out the win for Italy. Because as much as I think Sara and Roberta are badass and might cut you in a back alley, I fully believe that if you leave the tie in Liezel's hands, you will get cut. On court. Repeatedly.
So all credit to Flavia who faltered yesterday but was tough as nails today, playing with calmness and purpose to make Coco (who subbed in for an ailing BMS) look like a junior. Sure, you can hit the ball harder than me, kid, but can you do it consitently? Yeah, I didn't think so. 61 62, bitch. GIVE ME MY TROPHY.
Congrats, ladies. That's defending your title.
Please tell me Franny eats a box full of Wheaties out of that Cup in nothing but her boxers.
(Pics: Getty, Fed Cup Site)
Congrats to Daveed! He came out on top in his own tourney in Valencia over fellow Spaniard, Granola Bars, to take the title and ascend to #7 in the race to London. Awesome.
And then there's this guy, who had to go three sets against Nole but eventually took his home town tournament, too.
Ok, fine, this picture is adorable.
I'm sure Satan has squee-worthy pictures of him eating pizza, too.
Ana took out Kleybs in a tense, highly competitive final, 62 76. Tremendous hitting (check those balls for bruises), spectacular shotmaking, and championship intensity from both sides. It was a solid match to end the year on.
Primarily because it gave us that picture.
And so, congratulations to Ana, who finishes the year with 2 titles in her last three tournaments, 10 wins out of 11 matches, and finishes the year at #17, ahead of the likes of Masha and Kuz.
It's a good thing she skipped Bali, huh?
(Pics: Tourney Site, WTA Tour site)
All went according to plan for Team Italia today, as Fran dusted an inexperienced and outmatched Coco and Flavia overcame some inspired play by Bethanie and her own brainfarting. Flavia blew a 5-1 lead in the first before taking it in a tiebreak. In the second set, Bethanie, who was reportedly suffering from a virus, started cramping in her legs. Flavia responded by cramping in her brain, gifting a break back to Bethanie when she clearly wasn't moving well. But Flavi stopped cramping, Bethanie kept cramping, and it was 2-0 at the end of the day.
Sadz. I just really feel for her.
And so we'll flip it and do it all over again on Sunday. No clue who MJ will throw out there for the US, but I can't think it will matter too much.
Get the Peroni on ice, people. The party's about to go down in San Diego.
It'll be Ana vs. Kleybs in the Bali final. The two have met three times per tournament this year. Or, if you prefer "facts", they've met four times this year, with Kleybs winning the first two and Ana winning the last two.
Ana had an intense and highly entertaining match against Kimiko today and, as expected, Kimiko came to play. Ana's rhythm on her serve was off in the beginning of the match, but she was eventually able to find her form to claw back from two sets down and save a couple of set points to take the first set 75. The second set was a bit of the opposite, with Ana leading for much of the set before Kimiko got a late break to force a tiebreak, which she won after coming back from 2-5. By the time the third set rolled around Ana was able to hold her form while fatigue began to set in with Kimiko, which allowed Ana to take the set 62. There were some awesome rallies in the match, which saw Ana defending like a mofo, trying her hardest to force Kimiko to hit that one extra shot. Really high quality tennis from both.
As for Kleybs, she completely outclassed Dani, who just didn't have the firepower to compete with Kleybs, who fired a barrage of shots all over the court to completely confuddle Dani. She won quickly so you'd think she'd be the fresher player going into tomorrow. Then again, she will have played three straight days, whereas Ana had a day off between her quarterfinal and semifinal matches.
This one should be a cracker. If Ana wins she'll end the year at #17.
Yeah, you read that right.
HOLY MOTHER FUCKING CRAP, YOU GUYS.
(Pics: Tournament Site)
Daveed bounced Potito Head and Sod took Gael by the scruff of the neck and tossed him out of Valencia to set up a juicy semifinal. Daveed is still playing for a spot in London and this is his home tournament, in which he has a monetary interest. So methinks he'll take the court pretty motivated.
The other semi features Gilles and Granola Bars.
So the Fed Cup final is this weekend in San Diego and everywhere I turn in my Google Reader feed all I see are references to this being a David vs. Goliath clash between the US and Italy, which...I kinda understand from an underdog vs. heavy favorite angle, but not so much from a litte guy vs. big guy angle. And forgive me if I'm wrong, but doesn't size have a huge impact in the analogy?
Uh...but I digress.
So yeah. San Diego. Insert obligatory "whales vagina" joke. If I wasn't dazed on painkillers at the moment I could craft a pretty amazing Liezel/Whales Vagina joke that would blow your whale pants off. Oh well.
Ooh! Look! Mark Wahlberg riding a unicorn!
Teams have been in San Diego practicing and the draw finally rolled around today. Everybody's shocked that MJ tapped Coco as the #2 singles player instead of Believe, but really, why should anyone be shocked. I think sblily said it best on the Twitter gadget:
It was a well-run campaign. Stayed on message and backed up her argument with facts. Bravo, Mels.
So after they gave the seal a gag ball, which is apparently a thing in conservative San Diego, the draw was made.
Fran and the Seal will take on Coco...
...and Flavi will take on Bethanie in a match that will require me to keep my mouth shut. I really like them both and I really do want Bethanie to get something positive out of this year.
That said, there's no reason to think Team Forza won't take this. I don't think Coco can deal wtih Fran's variety and the Italians are solid in away ties.
Goliath looks really tense. And...not so Goliath-y.
Amazing photobomb, Shamu. I want to high five your tail.
Play starts tomorrow at 1pm PST.
(Pics: Fed Cup site)
Things are looking good for Nole to get into the Basel final. He's got an in-form Viktor to get past in the semis but it's obviously doable. The other semi sees the first meeting between Roger and A-Rod since *that* match.
Nice win for Andy over Nalby today, 64 64. He's still right in the mix for London.
I *think* I want Roger to win. Just because I'd love to see Nole and Roger go at it again. Then again, fuck it, what do I care at this point in the season. GO RODDICKULOUS!
So it'll be Ana vs. Kimiko and Dani vs. Kleybs for a spot in the finals in Bali. Ana dropped only one game on her way to a 60 61 rout of Pavs, Kimiko fought back from 1-3 down in the third to oust top seeded Nails, Kleybs dusted an "I'm over it" Aravane, and Dani scored a nice win over a feisty Wicky (is there any other kind?).
Awesome fact of the day: Ana was one years old when Kimiko turned pro.
Go Ana! Go Dani!
And no, that picture has nothing to do with anything. Except that it is awesome.
"I am very unhappy for not playing this year at the Paris-Bercy event. Due to a small tendinitis on my left arm caused by forcing a bit too much on my practice this week back at home I have to stay 6/7 days resting. It is nothing to be worried about but the doctor told me I have to be those days doing intensive treatment and functional rehabilitation with physiotherapy. I am very sorry for the tournament organizers who always treated me in a very special way and specially sorry for all my fans in France and in Paris that won't be able to be with them in one of my favorite cities in the World. I will be on Monday at the event working with the media and meeting some fans."
Take a breather, dude. We all already thought you were insane to play so many tournaments in Asia so quickly after the USO. If it were up to me I'd ask you to skip London, too. But whatevs. Have fun signing autographs! Maybe you'll be able to pull out London with carpal tunnel!
Just kidding. But maybe.
These two are mathmatically still in the running for the WTFs. Tomas is currently in the 5th spot and Fernando is at #9. But who knows what they'll be able to put together if they get there.
Tomas lost in the first round in Basel to German Thomas Kamke in straight sets, 64 61. He's now 7-11 since making the Wimby final. I mean, geez, dude. At least Fernando's lost to an in-form Gilles. Then again, he lost 61 63 to the Chicken Legged One and he's 1-4 since losing to Rafa in the quarters at the USO. So...really a toss-up as to which was worse.
Just kidding. Tomas is way worse.
Daveed and A-Rod, who are right behind Tomas in the WTF rankings won their first round matches.
You spend enough time with someone and you're bound to start dressingl like them, right?
Moose took out Feli in straight sets, then teamed up with big bro Jamie to take out Team Deliciasco in straights.
Can't wait for those tweets.
(Pics: Getty, Reuters)
"Are you seriously saying you didn't?"
"That's ridiculous. Also, have you seen my manhands?"
"Ok, yeah. Those are pretty hilarious."
(Pics: Official Tournament Site)
One thing that's always fun to observe with respect to tennis tournaments is how each individual tournament takes on the personality of its locale. Last week, we saw the over the top luxury of Doha, which saw the players glammed up and, let's face it, kind of awkward. This week, the WTA season winds down the beautiful beach resort of Bali, and since Mayleen Ramey isn't there doing an episode of Destination Tennis, the WTA ladies are doing their best to fill in.
First up, Pavs, Kleybs and Wicky went on a surfing lesson, which they all seemed to enjoy.
And take very very seriously. As Pavs is wont to do.
From there it was on to WTA Arts & Crafts, with Aravane, Kleybs, and Ana.
Shit's intense, y'all.
Recognizing the intensity of the day's events, the ladies stop for some manicures.
And in a stroke of organizational genius, instead of having local (or "natives" as Kathleen Chloe Cahoon would say) manicurists do the work, they had AO08 semifinalists and former BFFs, Dani and Ana, give each other hand massages.
(Pics: Official Tournament Site)
The Bali draw is out and it seems that they've dropped the Round Robin structure from last year (it was RR last year, right?). This will be a straight up single elimination tournament with play starting on Thursday.
Nails, Kimiko, Pavs, and Ana are in the top half, with Yanina, Aravane, Kleybs, and Dani in the other.
Sure, Ana may be the in-form player but I've been burned too many times by Kimiko this year. She's coming off a good amount of rest after the Asian swing and she only has to win three matches to take the title. With Ana reporting tha the courts are playing very fast and Kimikos unorthodox hard flat shots, I don't know. It's just really hard to bet against her here.
But, you know, ajde and whatnot.
Thursday and Friday's OOP:
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Centre Court (from 17.30hrs)
1. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. Ana Ivanovic
2. Li Na vs. Kimiko Date Krumm (NB 20.00hrs)
Friday, November 5, 2010
Centre Court (from 17.30hrs)
1. Alisa Kleybanova vs. Aravane Rezai
2. Daniela Hantuchova vs. Yanina Wickmayer (NB 20.00hrs)
Winners advance to Saturday's semifinals.
(PIcs: Official Tournament Site)
Christophe Rochus, one half of the Flying Rochus Brothers, is retiring. But before he does has something he has to say. Or at least he thinks he does. Because really, if you read what he said you quickly realize he is saying absolutely nothing.
If you're going to make doping allegations then make them. Show us some facts. Canseco the shit out of people. Otherwise, stop your passive-aggressive, vague, unsubstantiated speculating and just ride off into the sunset. These statements don't help you, they don't help the game, they don't do anything.
And let's not even get into the idea that someone can lose a set 6-1, run to the bathroom, inject or ingest somthing, and then, because of that substance, immediately come out and blitz the competition. That's not how that shit works, Chrissy.
Sadz. Ana and Heinz are no more. She wants a full-time coach and Heinz was a part-time gig. Sounds like a totally amicable split. No word yet on who gets custody of Leather.
I'm going to miss Heinz for sure, primarily because he got Ana to get back to basics. See the ball, hit the ball, and try not to toss the ball over the fence. All good things. But hopefully she knows that now and can carry it forward. I'm just worried about someone new coming in and wanting to reshape her game. That would not be good. But if Ana needs a new coach, I have a suggestion. Not really.
Meanwhile, Ana is coachless in Bali, which she says is totally cool because she was coachless in Linz, too, and that went alright. The fact that she points out that she's played everyone in Bali except for Kimiko is an awesome fact that we'll point to and laugh at after she inevitably loses to Kimiko.
Because you so know that's going to happen.
(Pic: Forty Deuce)
The big boys, sans Rafa, are back in action this week in Valencia and Basel. If that wasn't enough to get you interested then may I add that the boys are still scrapping for those last three spots for London.
Moose, Sod, Fer, and Daveed lead the field in Valencia and there are some awesome matches right off the bat. Moose vs. Feli with the winner playing Pico, Gilles vs. Staks, GGL vs. Daveed, and Sod vs. Montanes. And in purely "Whee for C Note!" news, Andy and Jamie are playing doubles. Their first round opponents? Fer and Feli. That's a lot of sexy-ugly on one court. You have to think Judy will tune in for this one. Which...actually...that's kinda creepy now that I think about it.
Over at the Roger Federer Classic, Nole will try and defend his title with Roger, Tomas, and A-Rod in the field. And how's this for juicy: Nole vs. Ernie in the 1st round. Other 1st rounders of note: A-Rod vs. SamQ and Isner vs. Llodra.
Is that a microchip?
Gael takes his third title, beating Lubey, to give Montpellier a French champ in its inaugural year.
Over in St. Pete's, Mikhail Kukushkin threw a wrench in Misha's attempts to qualify for London by taking his first title of his career. And by that picture you can tell that this is basically the first trophy he has ever held in his hands.
And Jurgen defends his title in Vienna to keep him in the running for London.
Which...is kinda weird, actually.
What's not to love?
Congrats to Flavia and Gisela for taking the doubles title in Doha, beating Vania/Shveddy in the semis and Kata/Kveta in the finals. They'll finish as the #1 and #2 doubles players, with Gisela at #1.
On a selfish note, as much as I'm happy for them, please, Flavia, don't become a doubles specialist. I prefer you single.
And so it ends much as we all predicted.
Kim and Caro played a high quality match that saw Kim seemingly crusing to victory before Caro was able to rally back from 1-4 down in the second set to force a third. Kim was finally able to stave off the charge and take the final set 63.
All in all, a satisfying YEC in my opinion. JJ's play and Elena's first match notwitstahnding, I thought the round robins yielded some quality tennis. And while the semifinals were disappointing (seriously, what happened there, Vera? And Sam? Talk about a match turning on milimeters) the final was a nice showcase for women's tennis. And of course, there was this, which ensures that this YEC won't be quickly forgotten.
So Kim will finish the year at #3, and with nothing to defend in Melbourne she has a very good shot at being #1 after the Australian swing.
And with that, we say goodbye to Doha and hello to Istanbul in 2011.