I love Andy's "WOT?"
We all were, A-Rod.
The decision to go handle was money, Ana.
Boob bump fail at 9:07. Some topspin porn after that, too.
I love Andy's "WOT?"
We all were, A-Rod.
The decision to go handle was money, Ana.
Ana cannonballs. And is utterly charming as opposed to uncomfortably shy.
WHO IS THIS SKINNY CONFIDENT GIRL AND WHAT DID SHE DO TO MY FAT AWKWARD ANA???
Not that anyone's complaining. I'm just wondering.
Here's the thing about doing predictions. I don't have a problem making predictions. I talk out of my ass all the time. What I do have a problem with is doing a shitload of work for nothing. I've been staring at this bracket for the past two days and while I've scribbled names in a crossed names out only to scribble them back in, it finally dawned on me: What's the point of doing an entire bracket prediction when it could all go to shit after Monday? I am many things, but above all, I am lazy. I don't like doing shit that doesn't matter.
So I'm not going do a bracket prediction. Everyone else has done one and they're all a hell of a lot smarter than me (and harder working, I might add). Besides, if you read this site I'm going to assume that you're a tennis fan who has his or her own opinions on matter. I'm not sure why you would care what I think. So I'm going to take it a day at a time, which is what I do anyway as both a tennis fan and non-recovering maybe-alcoholic, and just note the matches I'll be keeping my eye on and why.
So here's Monday's OOP:
The Rally For Relief was a huge success both on and off the court, much the surprise of no-one. On their way to ensuring that Ana will require testing for STDs, the exhibition raised $1.8 million dollars thanks to some very generous and very necessary corporate matching programs. That number will continue to rise over the fortnight, as players will be auctioning off gear, collections will be taken all over the grounds, and more events are surely planned.
People look at my quizzically whenever I tell them I'm a tennis fan. Apparently it seems like a really weird sport to follow with such passion and fervor. Whenever they ask me why I love it, I never say "Oh, I love the game, it's beautiful to watch" or "Rafa Nadal's forehand" or "I just really like the one-on-one competition." That's not to say those statements aren't true, it's just that they aren't the reasons that pop up immediately in my mind.
Nope, I love tennis because of the personalities. I have genuine love and respect for these people as human beings (yes, even Roger). Is that really creepy to say? They're just good people. Is there any other sport that can take the top players in the game, throw them onto a court with mics and a can of tennis balls, and have them, rather spontaneously, put on the tennis equivalent of a Harlem Globetotters show? Sure, basketball exos can be fun, but aren't those more about "Oh, shit, look at what sick skill Kobe has!" as opposed, "Look at Andy Roddick being stupid just because he knows it'll make us laugh."
All the things that I personally love about this sport were on full display on Laver today. It was an absolute pleasure.
The players were in full exhibition mode (well, most of them) and so long as you have Nole and A-Rod around, you know you're in for a good time.
The event started with a team competition with Rafter, Moose, A-Rod, Vika, and Bepa on one team, and Lleyton, Justine, Caro, Ana, and Nole on the other. Caro was a bit of a dud, as evidenced by the fact that Lleyton's kid cried the second she picked him up. Also her dress looked crap. Don't believe me? Ask Judy.
While Nole and A-Rod were the exo stalwarts, pulling out all their usual tricks (A-Rod mocking line judges, Nole doing everything except playing tennis) I think the emerging exo stars of the show were Moose and Ana.
Ana stole the show for the ladies, chatting and giggling into her mic and seemed totally game for all the flirting and innuendo jokes. Her "Novak, get behind me. Well, you know what I mean..." got the biggest guffaw from me. She's come a long way from being the dead silent one at exos (see her appearances at USO Kids Day if you don't know what I'm talking about).
But the point of the match basically involved Moose and Ana hitting to each and making sexy grunts for what felt like a good 5 minutes, and seriously, if you closed your eyes the only conclusion you could come to is that Ana should, in a few weeks, pee on a stick. Because girl, you pregnant with a vampire baby. Everyone needed a moist towelette after that one.
JUST GET NAKED AND DO IT!
Is that a true and genuine smile from my boyfriend?
It must be love.
Next up was Fed and Sam vs. Rafa and Kim. This one was a bit of a letdown after the laughs a minute riot of the first match. There were no antics, just some light, competitive hitting. The players weren't even mic'd up and no one really knows why. But the match was worth it for this and this alone:
If you could please allow me to clear my throat before I add any commentary...*cough*...
You a do your part and donate here.
(Pics: Getty, Reuters)
It took me about an hour to get to the site today, primarily because I had to wait for a tram that never came. I've been reassured that tram service will get better once the Open starts. Here's hoping.
But just as I dropped my stuff off in the media center an announcement came that Sam was doing press somewhere. That's an easy sell. So I grabbed my stuff and headed out, but instead of being escorted to the main press room, we were led outside to Grand Slam Oval, a virtual village full of entertainment stages, food halls, and general "I need to take a break from the tennis" goodness. At least it *will* be that. Today it just looked a deserted Smurf village. They sure do love that AO True Blue.
Sam was on-hand to "open" the ANZ 40 degree tent and do a short presser. In case you're not in Australia, you can thank ANZ for every single one of the gazillion Sam Stosur posters that are hanging all over Melbourne. The other night I was in Flinders Street Station and looked up to see 100 Sam Stosur banners. Heaven? Yes. Sympathy Stress? Absolutely.
Sam came out and "opened" the tent by smacking her racquet through a block of ice. I'm pretty sure she was just as amused about the relative absurdity of it all as me. Unfortunately it happened so fast and before I knew what she was doing she had done it [/thatswhatshesaid]. I'm sure there's video of it, though.
The ANZ tent is actually pretty dope. Not only is it CRAZY air conditioned to 17 degrees (let's see if that holds up over the course of the week), but there's a photo booth where you can get your picture taken to look like you're on court with Sam, and an interactive 3D Wall where you can serve against Sam and have a chance to win tickets to the Women's. Don't worry. I'm totally on that picture business. SOUVENIR.
Sam took some time to demonstrate the 3D wall and it was hilarity. Basically her 3D avatar kept telling her either she sucked ("My Nan can serve harder than that!") or that she had potential ("Keep that up and you might get a wildcard next year.") You can imagine how hard I was laughing while trying to maintain journalistic integritous composure.
Tried and failed.
(Pics: Forty Deuce)
Ana practiced this morning and then had another hit with someone who looked an awful lot like Bryden Klein. But after her practice, Dinara took the court with Dani, Petra, and Aga. But not before the Besties shared a hello.
Awwwww....Beluga and Elephant. No need to go to the zoo.
(Pics: Forty Deuce)
Q. Do you ever hang out with Anna Kournikova?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You're the guy from New Zealand, huh?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, God, you're stalking me (laughter).
Q. It's not stalking if you love someone.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It can be slightly, trust me.
This is why I don't ask questions in most press conferences. Because you know it would TOTALLY happen.
(Pic: Getty, Source: AO Site)
Ana debuted her new Adidas practice kit this afternoon and I'm a big fan. Love the white, green, pink, and black. Clean, crisp, and a bit future-punky. Also, it makes her look even thinner, if that's possible.
Yup. The abs are taped at the moment. Luckily she's not due to play until Tuesday, so she'll have an extra day to get that sucker into shape. I don't know, maybe Dragana can just kiss it and make it better. Something tells me she's got some crazy-ass Mr. Miyagi powers. Heal, woman, HEAL.
She was definitely hitting out on her shots and clocking the ball on both wings. But it seemed like the abs were most affecting her serve. If she went for it the ball was 5 feet long. If she pulled back it was a really attackable serve. Seems lack confidence in that shot at the moment.
I have to say though, after watching her with Greasy, I loved his positivity and encouragement (and yes, that's Leather sitting and taking pictures. Heh.) They talked quite a bit, every few points, and he's really smiley and encouraging. My favorite moment was after Ana missed a swing volley and stood there with her hands on hips in disbelief, smiling. Greasy: "I would rather you smile than get frustrated." I'm down with that advice.
Not sure Ana was though. She proceeded to miss another one and started doing shit like that. Much to my amusement.
Lots of net work, which was nice to see. Um...I won't tell you how successful it was.
Anyway, it was fun. That said, I have absolutely no idea how she'll come against Makarova.
Dragana matched the kit, though. That was my favorite thing, I think.
(Pics: Forty Deuce)
The only thing that could redeem the fact that I missed Heather Watson's awesome beatdown of the Impaler, which seriously I was super pissed about, was getting to talk one-on-one with my fave player numero uno (Sorry, Sam, but it's true), the one and only Baby Elephant, who is looking way more Adult Gazelle this year but I like my nickname better.
The event was supposed to have Jo and Fernando as well (adiAWKWARD), but the rain delays over the past few days in Melbourne meant that they were going to be playing at Kooyong that afternoon. So it was just Ana and the ADPD crew, which was A-OK with me. The event was the culmination of this week long promotion here Melbourne, asking fans to help find Ana's missing adizero shoes. The winner got to hand Ana the shoes and in a hilariously awkward moment, we all stood around as Ana put her new shoes on.
Ana legs! Oh, and the shoes.
Pics with the kids, who got to hit with Killer and Ana.
Once she got her shoes tied, it was on to media. Things I learned while waiting for my interview with AI. She and I hae the same camera. How do I know this? Leather was there (!) taking pictures of the whole thing like a fan (totally cute), and we were standing next to each other. So I casually (read: not casually at all), turned to her and said "Nice camera" and held up mine. "Oh, thanks. It's not mine, it's Ana's." I think it's super cute that after all these years, Ana insists on documenting all these little moments for herself.
Another hilarious moment: The WTA Tour video team was on hand and while Ana was interviewed, the camera guy stood about 3 feet from Leather and zoomed in on her. "Nooooo....don't do that," she said, laughing and smiling. I was probably laughing way more than I should have been, but Leather's JJ-like voice was just killing me. I am a LeatherKAD.
More media. I was at the event with tennis tweeter and blogger, Rishe, who was a recent Ana convert. She tried to call me out on the man-hands thing, saying that she just wasn't convinced I was on to anything. Let's just say Rishe is also a man-hands convert. That shit is real, yo.
Ok, so my interview.
I got about 3 minutes with Ana and we talked about Hopman Cup, her fitness, and her favorite tournaments. The interview was pretty much as expected. Ana was thoughtful, never broke eye contact, really listened to the questions, and was just lovely. She absolutely agreed with my very technical and savvy theory that she hurt her stomach because she was laughing too much with Nole.
On fitness, she said she did a lot of off-court work, pulling back on volume and working more on specific movements and exercises. Jumps and long-distance running. She feels faster and fitter (stomach notwithstanding) than she has in the past. They want to work on her upper body strength, but that will come later and she's really focusing on strengthening her base for now.
As I've had opportunities to have greater access to the players over the past year, I can say that it's always disappointing when you actually meet them and they kind of suck. There have definitely been players in the past who I wish I had never met, as it was so much easier to be a fan from a distance without seeing them be pricks and idiots in person.
But I can honestly say, I picked I good egg, with Ana. That is just a genuinely nice, grounded, pleasant human being. And really, it sucks to say this, that's a rare thing.
(Pics: Forty Deuce)
Nole and Rafa took to an open-roofed Laver to giggle their way through a light hit. Rafa had been practicing for quite some time before, I believe. I got lost trying to get back to the media center and I thought I saw him practicing on an indoor court an hour before this. Either it was him or there's some other player who likes to wear his bull hats.
Both were in a jolly mood. You could hear Novak and his team guffawing from outside the Arena. He was catching lobs in his pocket, hitting no-look backhands, and otherwise getting chatty with Rafa. Rafa meanwhile was taking volleys off the head and chest. Intentionally, I should probably add.
I can't wait to see what these two bring on Sunday. The Rally For Relief has already sold out. That crowd is in for a treat.
(Pics: Forty Deuce)
Would blog more but I have to run for the night to, once again, get my housing sitch sorted out. But just wanted to point out the really interesting finals on tap for tomorrow:
As for AO Qualie matches to watch:
Go get 'em, kids.
"I WILL USE MY CRAZY DRAGON CLAW ON YOU."
In what was apparently an insane match, Nails came back from a 0-5 first set tally to beat Kim 76 63 to take her first Premier title in Sydney. I mean, really.
I didn't get to see the match but it sounds like Kim went completely wonkballs after 0-5, DFing and UFEing as though she were playing Nadia. "I think instead of donating $100 or how much it is for aces, they should do it with me for the double faults. Might bring some more money to the victims in Queensland. Yeah, wasn't feeling it today."
As for Nails, that's a big win that should raise some eyebrows in Melbourne. She's in Vika's quarter, Masha/Venus' half. With semifinal points to defend, she's gotta come in riding high.
My favorite quote from Nails' post-match presser:
Q. Did you genuinely think you could come back from 5‑Love down?
NA LI: No, I didn't believe. Yeah, but after ‑‑ I mean, I do it.
Best Nike spokesperson ever.
Holy hell. Haven't seen you in a while. Still cute, if not slightly chunkier than when I saw you last.
With the sun out, all the boys were hitting the practice courts. Why were they wearing shirts? I DO NOT KNOW. Even Mikey was wearing a shirt. MIKEY. But it was happening and there was nothing I could do about it.
Andy took to the courts for his second hit of the day. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure he played a match over at Kooyong later. Either that or he just REALLY loves his argyle kit.
From there it was over to see Rendy hitting with...
Even his thighs are emo.
But the highlight of my afternoon sausage tour was finally getting to see Grigor in person. Watch him for five minutes and you can just see the talent oozing out of him. He's also way taller than I thought he was. That is one big, tall, strong boy.
It was a pleasure, boys.
(Pics: Forty Deuce)
Right around noon today the Tennis Gods finally got the plumbing over Melbourne fixed and that famous Aussie sun broke through, transforming Melbourne Park from the dreary and grey slab of the last few days into the vibrantly blue tennis heaven that I had previously only seen on television. Let me tell you, this place sparkles when it isn't being cried on. It's enough to put the pep into any tennis fan's step.
So with the courts dried and players finally able to take the court, I grabbed my camera and did the requisite rounds.
First stop, Sabine! She won her first round qualifying match over Michaela Kraijcek 76 63, hitting 8 aces and 24 winners on the way. She can still clock that serve and forehand, though her movement is still (and may always be) an issue.
But it was a nice win for her and she was really pleased with herself after the match, throwing a jolly and heartfelt thank you to a few fans and congratulated her. I really like this kid. Super sweet.
Of course, while I was watching Sabine, I couldn't have but be distracted by a very familiar figure off in the distance...
Nice to see Aga back on court again after that stress fracture in her foot. She was practicing with Gisela.
It was just a light hit but hopefully Gisela (who does not wear a sports bra and I cannot understand why) was able to pick up some tips for her match against Caro. Probably not, but we can hope.
While Aga was practicing I couldn't help but giggle as a familiar figure sidled up beside me waiting to take the court. That's right, Mlad the Impaler was set to take the court next. She put her bag down and walked away for a few seconds, but unfortunately I was distracted by Bojangles and I missed my window of opportunity to fuck up her bag. Or at least give it a light kick or something.
When Mlad walked onto the court Aga asked her if she had the court next. Mlad said yes and Aga told her that she and Gisela would just play across if it was ok (hitting to each other cross court). Mlad hesitated, Aga just started serving, and Mlad finally said it was fine, though she didn't look happy about it. All this is to say, Aga RULEZ. You know who also rules? Heather Watson. She took out Mlad in the first round of qualifying in straight sets. Get it, Hev.
No sleep for the weary, huh Bojo? One day after losing in the Sydney semis, Bojo was back out on court hitting with Mlad. I would see her 3 hours later hitting with someone else on another practice court. Oh to have the energy of 19 year old legs.
Now, on to the boys...
Stage 1: Joy
HOLY SHIT, IT'S DRAW DAY! Time to settle in with a cup of coffee (possibly spiked, if you're me), flip on the computer, and soak in the awesomeness of yet another Slam.
Stage 2: Heartbreak
It's all fun and games until Dinara draws Kim in the first round, or Masha lands in Venus' quarter, or A-Rod draws Fed's quarter, or Moose gets plopped in Rafa's half. No matter what, draw day is fun until you realize that shit just got real and one of your favorite players is absolutely doomed.
Stage 3: Anger
Why would the Tennis Gods do this? Why would they, once again, strike down upon our favorite players a wrath of vengeance that makes you wonder if your cadre of favorites spends their evenings burning off the ears of blind puppies. That is the only logical explanation for their consistent bad luck. We're sure these draws are based on luck and probability, right? They're not rigged?
Fuck you, they're TOTALLY RIGGED, GODDAMIT.
Stage 4: Confusion
Wait...while I was freaking out about Masha it seems that I have lost all semblance of the draw. Who's playing who now? Who landed where? WHY AREN'T THESE THINGS ONLINE??? Twitter says one thing and then two seconds later it says another thing. Contradiction Capital of THE WORLD. I don't understand what's going on!!!! Fed's playing who now? Tomic? JJ? Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez in the final? WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!
Stage 5: Futility
Fuck it. I'll wait for the draw to come out.
Stage 6: Disappointment
Oh, the draw's out (men, women)!!! Wait...I STILL CAN'T READ THIS FUCKING THING. If they can release fuckin' "Decision Points" in large print editions, there's certainly no reason they need to use 9-point-.2-inch-spaced-magnifiying-glass-and-a-ruler-required-print. I need to find a printer.
Stafe 7: Acceptance
Ok, fine. I guess all that really did happen. Whatever. Is it Monday yet?
Sam and Pat Rafter had a light hit this morning and then held a presser today in Sydney to announce The Rally For Relief, a two-week long series of festivities to benefit the victims of the devastating flooding in Queensland. The event will kick off on Sunday afternoon at Rod Laver Arena and so far, Fed, Rafa, Nole, Sam, Pat, Kim and Lleyton have confirmed with more players expected as the event gets closer.
So basically we're guaranteed some Sam forehand target practice on Nole's balls and, Getty photogs willing, a bunch of awesome shots of Kim and Lleyton.
I can't wait to see how this event evolves over the next two weeks. Pat said he'd love to raise $1M after all is said and done, and it sounds like the player response has already been fantastic:
But to see pictures of places that you go to, I mean, last week I think the tennis community, everyone from overseas, all the players, they actually really know what it's all about now having seen pictures of Patrick Rafter Arena where we were all playing last week.
To see that underwater, kind of everyone who is not from here realizes how bad it is. It's an enormous disaster. Even where the hotel was, the South Bank area, you've got that beautiful little beach there that now doesn't exist. Again, we were all staying in those hotels and now they're gone.
So I think because it has hit where we all were, that's why, yeah, the players that don't know the area can really relate to it now as well. Yeah, they're all concerned and asking. They know that I'm from the area. Are you okay? Your family is okay? Everyone wants to do whatever they can.
Best of luck and yay tennis. Our sport and our players rule.
You can also donate yourself here.
As promised, Sam practiced in Sydney today, taking some time mid-practice to sign autographs and take pictures. First time I've ever seen a player take the time mid-practice. Awfully nice of her.
Nothing of note to report, really, other than that they were working on her shitty backhand for a good 45 minutes (not that this picture backs me up). I can't be sure but it seemed like they were working on, tactically, when to hit the slice and when to hit the two-hander.
(Pics: Forty Deuce)
It was a weird match, really, but Mayer's slicing and dicing in the wind won out. Delpo said he wasn't tired from Monday but his footwork was definitely off (though that could have been a result of Mayer keeping him off balance with slices and droppers). He unleashed a handful of solid forehands but he just didn't have it today. Mayer's game prevented him from getting into a good rhythm on his shots.
Still loveable though.
(Pics: Forty Deuce)
Bojangles, the Troicki of the WTA Serbs has not dropped a set in her Sydney campaign, which sees her in the semifinals after taking out Kaia, Aravane, and Flavia. That's on top of beating Sorana to qualify. She's done something that neither Ana or JJ could do here in Sydney: Give the Serb fans something to cheer about.
Last night's epic match against Rezza was, well, an epic match against Rezza. I was actually on my way out for the day, having assumed that play on all the outer courts had been called off for rain. But I followed the always familiar Serbian chants and found Bojangles and Rezza locked in a super tight match, with Bojana taking the first set in a tiebreak. In front of a crowd of 50 partisan fans, these two ladies played a really great match.
Of course, the stress would come to a boil. Towards the end of the second set, Rezza hit a winner that was called out. As there's no Hawkeye on Court 1, Rezza went completely ballistic. She walked up to the umpire, complained forever, and threatened to pack her bags. "If she wants to win like this than I will just pack my bags." I kept expecting Bojana to turn her back on the antics, but being the newbie that she is, she kind of just stood there, so she could see Aravane's dagger glares and finger pointing. I was sure the kid would get rattled.
As she kept going on and on and on with the ref the crowd started to get into it, yelling at her that the ball was out and just to keep playing. She stepped to the line and a woman shouted "JUST PLAY TENNIS!" to which Aravane turned, nodded her head and said "Thank You." Of course one woman couldn't let it go and yelled "But the ball was out." At this point, Rezza started crying and had to collect herself to get her serve off. She would lose the game and sit in her chair crying.
With a chance to serve it out, Bojangles couldn't capitalize. She had three match points but Aravane would collect herself and play those points solidly, breaking back and eventually forcing another tiebreak. I was sure that Bojangles would drop it, as the momentum seemed to switch to Rezza's side after Bojana couldn't convert the MPs. But she didn't! She closed it out in the tiebreak, much to Rezza's annoyance. Their handshake was, let's just say, what you'd expect. Bojana went in for the shake, Rezza put her hand out but refused to shake hands until she had some words with the kid.
I mean really, what else would you expect from Aravane? Heaping on her for being a total bitch is like constantly calling an ugly girl "ugly". That's just her face. As with Aravane, that's just her way.
So after that tense, physical match that saw numerous starts and stops because of rain, you had to wonder how Bojangles would do today against Flavia. Surely she didn't get to sleep before 2am and her match was set to start around 2pm. Well, never doubt the spring in the step of young legs. The 18 year-old came out and beat an out-of-whack Flavia fairly easily. Who's to say she doesn't have a shot against Nails tomorrow?
But I have to say, I have been thoroughly impressed by Bojana all week. I was asked today to describe her game. I actually had a hard time. The only words that came out of my mouth were "She's just a solid tennis player." Good movement for her height, and solid groundstrokes from both sides. She beat a ball basher and a spin/angle clay-courter easily. I think that speaks to the stability of her game. And getting through that tight match with Aravane speaks to her mental fortitude. She seemed quite even-keeled emotionally, quietly firing herself up here and there, but nothing like her Serb counterparts. She just seemed like a good, quiet, quality kid.
I'm really looking forward to what she does this year. There's no reason to think she won't be hoisting her first trophy in 2011.
(Pics: Forty Deuce)
A day after playing some fantastic tennis to take out Sam, Sveta went down in three to an in-form Nails. Nails hasn't lost a match this year, beating Venus in Hong Kong and Rodionova, Razzano, and Sveta to make the Sydney semis, where she'll face new Serb star Bojangles for a spot in the final.
Still, some positives for Sveta as she leaves Sydney. With her low ranking, she could break a bracket pretty easily if she can build on her Sam match.
Also, here's her presser from yesterday, which was hilarious in its own little Sveta way. The second and third questions were mine:
Cibulkova d. Wozniacki, 63 63, Sydney Rd 1.
Q. What did you think of today?
CW: Well, it's always -- at the start of the new season you always need to get into the match play. I didn't feel that I was playing great tennis out there. So definitely now I just need to get some sets going and some training matches, head to Melbourne and get ready for Melbourne. You know, last year I had the same start, so hopefully slow start, good finish.
[But...if you wanted match play, why the exos? Oh, yeah, money. Right. Well I hope it was worth it. "Slow start, good finish." Did you read that on a wine bottle?]
Q. Does it knock your confidence around at all, a loss like this?
CW: No, I mean it happens. Sometimes you win; sometimes you lose. You need to learn from the losses. Again, it's the first tournament of the year. I just want to get the match playing going. You know, there were a few positive things in there that I can take out of it, and then I just need to work on the rest. But I'm confident that for Melbourne I'll be okay.
[Ah, the "shit happens" explanation. Insightful. But again, if you knew you wanted match play before the Open (and all signs point to you being a player that plays better with matches under her belt) why the exos? Why not play Brisbane and have Sydney on back-up? Oh yeah, money. Ok.]
Q. What were the positives?
CW: Well there were different things, like in some situations where I pulled it off pretty good. But, you know, there are a lot of things I need to talk to my dad and my coach about, and also I just need to get some points going and get to play some matches against some of the other girls. That's what I'm going to do now.
[VAGUE MUCH??? "There were positives!" "What were the positives?" "You know, the things I did well!" "Which were?" "The positives!" "RIGHT-O!"]
Q. You said the other day you were comfortable with the new racquet. Is there anything that you're struggling with to make that adjustment?
CW: No, I mean, it's a very good racquet. There is nothing with the racquet, so...
[You're goddamned right there's nothing with the racquet. You sure they didn't just paint Ana's old blue one and hand you a stack? Cuz that piece of shit was a piece of shit.]
You know, last year I had the same start. You know, I'm going into Melbourne and having my head high. I'm playing good; I'm playing well. Just need to get that going in the matches.
[Oh, you're playing good? You're playing well? ZOK. And what is this metric based on? The "practice match" that you lost in Hong Kong 0 and 1? The real match yesterday, which you lost 3 and 3 and didn't play well? Oh, and by the way, you lost first round here last year, were seeded fourth at the Open, and lost in the round of 16 in straight sets to Nails. I don't think looking to last year's result as proof that you have nothing to worry about is really the way to go here, Crazy.
Also, I saw three of your practice sessions. You're a fucking liar. You weren't hitting the ball well at all.]
Q. The way she was able to attack your second serve, was that worrying at all?
CW. No, I mean, you know -- no.
Prove me wrong, Caro. Dare you to prove me wrong. But there is absolutely no one out there that has confidence in what you're bringing to the Open next week. Your dad was screaming his head off at you during your post-match hit. Everyone is FREAKING THE SHIT OUT.
Well, everyone except the other 127 ladies in the draw. And a chick boredly painting her nails in Los Angeles. She's got that Cheshire Cat grin goin', I'm sure.
(Transcript: ASAP Sports)
Mum and Son hit the courts in Melbourne with some kids to teach them the finer points of jaw-stretching, how to be the best tweeter ever, and how to balance a ball on your head while your mom is trying to be serious.
Dude. That kid has some form, no? Andy looks worried.
Aw...look at my boyfriend pretending to be happy. A for effort, Moose.
Look at them! They're so smiley!
And Gael was there, too.
Play starts Wednesday at 11am:
Gael vs. Fer
Lleyton vs. Misha
Berd vs. Kolya
Jurgen vs. Jo.
Keep up with the happenings at Kooyong here.
Caro loses to Domi 3 and 3, Vera loses to Flavia, 5 and 5, and in the best match of the tournament so far, Sveta takes out Sam, 36 63 64. That's #1, #2, and #4 out in one day. Ouch.
Caro was predictably delusional in her presser. More on that later.
As for Vera, she acknowledged, as she should, that Flavia is no slouch, but it was her inconsistency that was her undoing. "There were some good points, good shots, and there were some bad points and bad shots. I think overall the consistency wasn't there, but I tried to, you know know, keep doing what I had to do. There were moments where I was thinking too much about technical stuff, sometimes too much about tactical stuff, and I was not able to find that good balance between playing technically good and tactically good. That imbalance gave me a lot of inconsistency."
The kid has a way with words. More:
"I came here from Hong Kong, and I didn't really get the chance to really play points and some practice sets, so of course I had to try to find my rhythm in the match. Different conditions from what I've been training in and what I played in Hong Kong. The courts are different, balls are different, windy. So taking all this in consideration, it was very difficult for me to produce very good tennis today. but I tried my best, and I definitely can see some moments where I can improve. That's why I'm pretty conident and positive that next few days, if I train well and if I play those practice sets, I will be able to put it together. Then i can really raise the level of my game for the Australian Open."
So there you go. It was actually a really positive presser from Vera. She was smiley, had good perspective, and as always, thoughtful. But watching a bit of her match all I could think was that she didn't look as fit as she did in New York or Doha. She seems to be carrying a bit of extra weight and I honestly couldn't tell if it was "unfit" weight or "hit the gym and bulked up JJ-style" weight. But it worried me.
And then there's this girl, who I must say, I'm the least worried about. There's no shame in losing to Sveta when she's playing well. And by golly she played great today. As she acknowledged afterwards, it was for sure the best she'd played since San Diego. I mean, Sveta was hitting the ball into the court, you guys. That's a victory in and of itself. She did a good job of moving Sam around the court, but also holding her own in their brutally crushing forehand rallies. You want to see some hitting? Watch a Sam and Sveta match when they bring their B+ games. Holy crapola.
Sam played well. She served at 75% and was 2/2 on her break point chances. But her forehand let her down on the big points, missing by less than a centimeter a few times. She's feeling confident going into Melbourne, though. She'll stick around Sydney to practice given the weather issues in Melbourne making practice courts scarce. Then again, I'm writing this as the skies have opened up to cancel matches, so I'm not too sure the weather here is that great either.
And for those who are wondering, her family hasn't been affected by the horrible flooding in Queensland. Knock on wood.
Fine, don't look at me. It's cool.
Looking lighter and leaner (she's reportedly dropped 4.5 kilos in the off-season) Samdog Millionaire (wow, where'd that one come from?) played a solid match against the always tough Yanina. Sam couldn't seem to find her range early on and Wicks was serving well and getting her out of position in the rallies, but at 4-5 she seemed to step it up, lock down her shots, and play with aggression. She'd take the match 75 64, fighting off not only Wicky, but the ball kids, who kept tossing the balls right at her feet as she was walking towards them. Yes, let's break the ankles of Australia's only hope at a Grand Slam trophy. Good idea, kids.
Hey, wanna see something cool? These two pics were taken at two separate times:
Pros: They're not at all like us.