Hopping on a flight to Madrid in, oh, three hours. I'll only be hitting the Madrid tournament for a day or two and then off to Barcelona for some vacationing. All that is to say, blogging/tweeting will be light until I can figure out connectivity issues.
But don't you fret you weirdo FD addicts. I'll be in Europe for two months. So...you do the math.
If you want to hear me complain incessantly about my inability to speak Spanish, Italian, and French, you can follow me on Twitter at @fortydeucetwits and/or @pandaxprs.
See you on the flip.
Venus! And Serena! On or near a tennis court!
There is a large subset of people who find this to be exciting. Therefore, I am posting pictures.
I'm a little disappointed she's not rocking the pink. Don't lie. You are too.
"YOU like 311??? I LIKE 311!!!"
"One day. Maybe. Hopefully."*
*For the record, I don't consider Venus and Serena withdrawal speculation as news. Hell, I don't consider Venus and Serena withdrawals in fact as news at all. All that is to say, if Serena and Venus confirm, in fact, that they will play a tournment, you'll see it on FD. Until then, all the handwringing is pointless.
Don't worry, you guys. I totally handled this professionally.
Suddenly, the clicking and clacking is sounding a lot like wedding bells.
Belgrade Zoo. Gonzo. Baby Lions. Done.
I know everyone's all about the puppy cams and the Panda cams and whatnot, but what I wouldn't do for a Gonzo-Plays-With-Baby-Lions Cam. Get on it, TennisTV!
"Yo Baby Lions. Look! There's your daddy! Aw, I'm just kidding. I'M YOUR DADDY."
See? This show would be so awesome!
You can see more cute-as-hell pics of Gonzo's day at the zoo at the Serbia Open Facebook page, which is, hands down, the best tournament Facebook page yet. Seriously. They are making every other tournament FB page look like balls.
Had to post these hilarious quotes from JJ and Ana, as translated for me by a buddy. They're talking about the Orthodox tradition of dying eggs and then kids go one-on-one, knocking their eggs together with the one coming out uncracked being the winner.
How have you been in beating others with eggs, remember any particular victories?
Jelena: Before I start, I always try to pick a smaller or a harder egg from the basket, and to cheat a little when it comes to that. I remember even that I took some wooden eggs, "planted" them as ordinary, and so I managed to defeat them all. But when it all ends, I leave to others to eat. I do not like to eat eggs, and if I have to, then I eat only the egg whites. Eggyolk I'll throw out, I don't like it. But I really like beating eggs.
Ana: I've never good at it from what I remember. I always come in last. Brother, Milos has always been better at choosing the egg that's strongest and will hold on to it until the very end. I'm not sure how he did it, but he'd be the most successful.
JJ cheats. Ana sucks. Tale as old as time.
Crazy haps, you guys. Crazy haps.
First off, SportExpress is reporting that Vera and Sergey broke up. MOMMY AND DADDY DON'T LOVE EACH OTHER ANYMORE! She'll be coached by Karen Krotov, the guy that we have come to know as "Not-Sergey". And believe me, he is "Not-Sergey" in every way shape and not-so-hot form.
Thanks to Christina, here's a translation of Sergey's quotage on the split:
It was Vera’s idea to work with Karen. Apparently, she decided she needed something new in her training. But I didn’t agree with this. I have my own ideas about her game. When a new person came into the team, I didn’t want to take responsibility for his approach. You have to cover yourself with a blanket before a fall [note: some Russian idiom I’ve never heard before]. So, I decided to step aside, most of all because I didn’t want to hurt Vera.
Sadness. But she's still got Hot-Physio, right? RIGHT???
So that's me going all metaphorical on the concept of break ups. But the tennis community does have another actual, legitimately bummertown, legal-papers-are-involved break up to mourn.
The Fucking Groths are neither Groths nor...well...the other thing anymore.
If you follow Jarka on Twitter then you, like me, have pretty much known this was coming before the official announcement was made this week (she's back to Jarmila Gajdosova on the WTA site). But it is in fact official. And Jarka has some thoughts on it. And she's been tweeting them. To the public. A lot.
Anyway. Sad for Jarka and Sam. And sad for Bepa and my cooch. Sadz all around, you guys.
(Pics: Forty Deuce)
Today marks the 25th anniversary of the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl. Masha has a heartfelt message on her website and she's launched a page on her site specifically dedicated to the tragedy and relief efforts. Good on her for doing what she can to raise awareness and educate a generation of fans, especially in light of what is going on at the Fukushima plant in Japan.
Here's her message on the anniversary.
And a look back at the moving E:60 documentary on her visit back to the area last year. Well worth watching if you haven't seen it before, or even if you have.
(Pic: Forty Deuce)
WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN WILLIAMSBURG??? YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE IN BELGRADE!!!
More hilarious "Nole, The People's Champion" pics here.
Lots of notables back on court this week in Belgrade, Munich, and Estoril. Delpo took to the clay for the first time this year and was pushed to three sets by Pedro Sousa, inventor of the sousaphone. Stick to the tuba, dude. We don't need that kind of drama in Delpoland.
LOOK AT THIS GUY!!!!
Gonzo took to the court for the first time in six months in Belgrade and won a match! No word on how many racquets were broken but I have no doubt they were broken spectacularly.
And in Munich, Tommy Haas took to the court in doubles with Steps but they lost. He thinks he can play two more seasons. Whatever he's smoking it better be medical grade. You's needs to heal, boy.
Oh, and he's back to playing for Germany again. Germany's way hip these days.
(Pics: Getty, Serbia Open Site)
P Mac takes the opportunity to set the record straight on DYoung. Which...I still think is weird. I mean, other than using this as an opportunity to send a message to all the USTA youngsters, what's the point? Why throw this kid (ok, he's not a kid, he's 21 years old) under the bus and air out his dirty laundry? You won't withdraw USTA support so the only stick you have is public shaming?
Sure, I guess he kind of asked for it when he went stupid on Friday, but still. Why not be the adults here? Organizing a conference call because Donald Young, someone no one outside of the tennis world knows exists, said "Fuck you"?
Anyway, apparently DYoung has apologized to the relevant parties.
That said, there defintely came a point today while my Twitter stream was lighting up with presser quotes when a lightbulb flicked on in my head: Why do I care? I have already spent more time thinking about Donald Young and the USTA in the last four days than I have in the last four years.
So yeah. I'm done. This whole thing made me feel icky.
WHY ARE YOUR PANTS ON???
Oh, yeah. There's an article attached to that picture. Feel free to read it. Lord knows I haven't gotten that far yet.
So last week this pterodactyl was walking across the Atlantic to go visit his best friend, a chickpea named Bob. Bob was crazy annoyed that Pterry was late (I mean, it only takes, what, 38 minutes to walk across the Atlantic?) so he called up his book club buddy, Larry the Lorax, to meet him at the Joe's Diner to go lingerie shopping. Larry was very excited and rushed over to the diner. In his haste, he drove his Hummer through a McDonald's, smushed a pill bug, took a shortcut over the Andes, made a quick pitstop in Hades, and was lucky enough to find a parking spot right in front of Joe's. As he stepped out of the car, Larry didn't see the puddle of radioactive waste oozing from the nuclear power plant that was built inside the diner's bathroom. Larry stepped into the waste, grew elephant tusks, and exploded into four pints of grape Jello.
And that's how a bill becomes a law.
That story I just told you? Let's just say it makes a hell of a lot more sense than what DYoung tried to pull on the USTA.
If, IF I understand it correctly, the USTA had one RG wildcard left. DYoung wanted it. So he asked for it. The USTA was like "uh...we have a tournament scheduled with players coming in to, you know, earn that last wildcard. So no." And then DYoung told them to fuck themselves, made some comment about their shit, and somehow tried to play the victim.
Of course, as is the thing with Twitter these days, he popped on again to say "Sorry I used the F word, but the sentiment remains", which...isn't an apology at all, and then, like the big boy that he is, he deleted his Twitter page. And we all know that people who say stupid things on Twitter thinking there won't be consequences, who subsequently deal with said consequences by deleting their Twitter pages, are all really classy pieces of work. We all know this.
And then, to add insult to idiocy, Ryan Harrison, who also didn't get a RG wildcard, comes out and says he wants to go through qualies and earn his main draw spot. I mean, OC ain't the poster boy for model behavior, but I couldn't help but laugh when I read that one. Tip of the cap to you, Harry. At a minimum that was a shrewd move.
Grow up, Donald. This is why you can't have nice things. Beating a slumping Andy Murray doesn't make you special. I mean, look at how many people are on that list! Being a grown-up means recognizing that the world ain't fair and you aren't always going to get what you think you deserve. Work your ass off and win matches, dude. That's how the big boys (and girls) do it.
UPDATED: RUH ROH. PMac is giving an interivew right now blasting DY.
Poor move, USTA. DY did a perfectly fine job turning the world against him with a single tweet. You guys getting together and organizing a blasting-by-conference-call response was totally unnecessary. DYoung has no power. The USTA has all the power. Let him dig his own grave. Responding just makes you look bad. Enjoy the backlash.
(Screencap: Down The Line)
Whatever. I'll take it. Looks like Sam and Sabine hit it off as doubles partners. They'll look to team up again in the future.
"She's always laughing and smiling, there's no chance to be down."
So I guess playing with Sabine is pretty much like watching Sabine. Good to know.
(Pics: Getty, AP)
Not so much ecstasy as pure unadulterated joy. Same same, but different.
It's easy to forget that Julia Goerges shouldn't even be here. She had dropped the first set to Vika in their second round match before Vika immediately retired with a shoulder injury, sending Jules into the quarterfinals. So once again, for like, the thirdish or so straight week, you've done me a solid, Vika. It's like you read Sun Tzu or something. I have no moves to play.
What a week and a half for Goolia and her German mates. To come out and beat Sam and Caro, on clay, on successive days, in front of your family and friends in your home tournament? That's nothing short of a glory run. Gools will make her Top 30 debut this week and she stopped Caro grabbing her 16th career title, which, get this, would tie her with ELENA DEMENTIEVA. That's a crazy effing stat.
In other words, ALL HAIL JULIA GOOLIA, aka Jaye Tyler. My talking lion salutes you and thanks you for listening and doing his bidding.
Rafa played Daveed in the final. Redux. Rafa beat Daveed in straight sets. Redux. Rafa further solidified that he is a hoss on clay. Redux.
I wish I could say it was all entertaining but inevitability just isn't my brand of entertainment. But, you know, carry on, Rafa. It's not like I'm rooting against you. I'm just kinda not so much paying attention to you right now.
Worst tennis fan ever. I know this.
I can't stop laughing at how humblebraggy this pic is.
Petko always says she's like a diesel engine. She needs some time to get warmed up. But against Caro she raced to a 4-1 40-love lead and it quickly looked like we had an IW redux on our hands. With a chance to pull away and put the set to bed, she stalled, and Caro ran away with it from there.
Sigh. Bummer. Tumaini Cariol, who blogs for FootFault and is at Stuttgart on behalf Tennis Panorama, said that because no matches were scheduled on Good Friday, the tournament organizers had put together a breakfast for the journalists with the semifinalists. So while I was rooting for Petko for normal reasons, I was rooting for her extra hard because of the possibility of Tumaini getting to have breakfast with Sam, Julia, Aga, and Petko. IMAGINE!!!
But no. It's Caro. Not that it matters. Apparently not enough journalists were interested in the breakfast so they cancelled it. Ahem.
So it'll be Caro vs. Aga in the other semifinal. Their H2H is 3-1 to Caro, with Caro winning the last three easily. This will be their first meeting on clay. But perhaps more importantly, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
It's not clay. It's magic dust.
And omigosh that kit looks like a hospital gown.
Sam came back from a set down to beat a string-breaking Bepa 26 63 76(3), to score her biggest win of the year, first win over a top 10 player of the year, and first semifinal of the year. It also just happened to be the best match she played all year.
What is it about the combination of clay and Bepa that brings out the best in Sam? I don't know, but let's just say I won't be freaking out if they land in the same part of the draw in Paris. Is Sam back? HAIL NAW. It was one fucking match. But it was one fucking match that saw her come back from being a set down and win in a third set tiebreak. She's been dropping the close ones left and right this year. This was a huge step forward. Methinks DT gave her a nice pat on the back when she got back to the locker room.
As for Bepa, gurl, I don't know how much Prince and Gamma are paying you, but you've been busting strings for the past year. Today you went through 9 freshly strung racquet and had to play with a replacement racquet while you were waiting for your racquets to get restrung. Figure this out quickly, because it's been happening for a while now.
Sam will take on Julia Goolia in Saturday's semis (no play on Friday b/c it's...Good Friday). Julia turned in a remarkable performance against Sabine. Sabine wasn't playing poorly, but what ball striking for Julia! Hands down the best match I've ever seen from her.
So it'll be another ball-crunching match on Saturday. I have to think that if Sam can get the ball kick on her serve and forehand, she should be able to negate Goolia's power. But then again, isn't that always the book on Sam? The gameplan isn't a mystery. Her ability to execute is.
(Pics: AP, Getty)
That's Nadia Lalami. She's 20 years old. She was born in Casablanca, Morocco. She's currently ranked #497. Prior to this week she had played four WTA matches in her career, all first round losses in Monaco.
But that's pretty badass. She deserves a Forty Deuce blog post. This is that post.
After a blistering start to the year, Sod picked up a flat tire (foot injury) before Indian Wells and things haven't been the same since. He lost to PEHK at IW, JMDP at Miami, withdrew from Monte Carlo, and crashed out to Dodig today in Barcelona, 62 64.
Here's what he said after his third round loss to JMDP in Miami:
I'm not playing well. I'm not feeling well. I'm not moving well. I'm not serving well. You know, my serve is normally my biggest weapon. I'm not serving well. My backhand is not good. There are a lot of things I need to work on.
Keep on working. Or not. I don't really care either way.
During an interview with a writer for the Sony Ericsson Open website (which was never posted, unfortunately, though I have the audio) Petko said that her favorite tournament outside of the Slams was Stuttgart. She cited the fact that it's the only tournament in Germany these days (which blows) and she loves any excuse to get home.
So it must have been quite the boon for Team Germany when they all got to fly home early for Fed Cup (which was held in the same arena this past weekend) and now get to show their stuff to their countrypeople.
Petko fought off the nerves and a pesky JJ to advance, 36 61 63. Sabine took out a struggling-but-still-very-good-at-tennis Nails, 64 75. Kristina Barrois upset Mono, 64 62. And the in a shocking turn of events, the day ended with Vika taking the first set over Julia Goolia, only to *abruptly* retire seconds later without calling a trainer. The official word is that she retired with a right shoulder injury. Puzzling, no doubt.
Regardless, it's been a dazzling five days for the German Ladies of Wrestling and it's not over. Sabine and Julia will face off in one quarterfinal, Petko gets another chance at a big forehead scalp against Caro, and Barrois will try not to lose her head against Aga. All that AND Petko and Julia will face off against Sam and Sabine in doubles.
All aboard the GLOW revival. You know you missed it.
Look, Russia. We need to talk.
Is that guy your team doctor? I thought I already told you to fire him. He should have seen the door years ago. But between some doctor telling Dinara her back is fine and some other doctor (same doctor?) telling Chakky that she's fit to play (she's retired from three straight matches now), I'm gonna go ahead and say you still have Dr. Spaceman on your payroll.
And while he can be adorably charming and dependably hilarious, we can all agree that he is literally the worst doctor in the world. But totally hilarious. Just to be clear.
"Nothing can be for Serbia to achieve one without the other. This victory is very much Ana, just like all the other girls. Because of my condition I could not sit on the bench all the time and cheer for her first day, but I was watching the Sunday when they played against Cibulkova. it is ridiculous to talk about that I have something against her and that I do not care that she wins and is looking forward to. I was thrilled when she got Hantuchova, this victory meant a lot to us. I'm sorry that it hurt, was it is a real setback for her, but I want her to recover as soon as possible and again begins to infrequent triumphs."
Translation error WIN.
Happy 24th Birthday, Masha. You may try and play all cool and icy, but I know you's a big dork.
Some of my favorite Masha moments:
Moose is out of Barcelona after getting an MRI on his right elbow and being advised to take 4-5 days rest.
You know what that means: VIDEO GAMES!!!!
That's a ridiculous Wednesday OOP. We get a Petko/JJ rematch, Pavs/Vera, Fran/Aga, Nails/Sabine, Sam/Dani, and HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS, Woz/Kucova!!!!
Center Court (from 10.30hrs)
1. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. Vera Zvonareva
2. Francesca Schiavone vs. Agnieszka Radwanska
3. Li Na vs. Sabine Lisicki
4. Caroline Wozniacki vs. Zuzana Kucova
5. Andrea Petkovic vs. Jelena Jankovic (NB 18.30hrs)
6. Julia Goerges vs. Victoria Azarenka
7. Jans/Rosolska vs. Marosi/Woerle
Court 1 (from 12.00hrs)
1. Kristina Barrois vs. Marion Bartoli
2. Samantha Stosur vs. Daniela Hantuchova
3. Huber/Martínez Sánchez vs. Barrois/Woehr (after suitable rest)
4. Laine/Siegemund vs. Diatchenko/Koryttseva
(Pic: Official Tournament Site)
Much debate in the haps regarding the US Davis Cup team's choice of "Indoor Hard Premier" for the upcoming tie against Spain. Spain has objected and brought the matter to the ITF's attention. Apparently the surface isn't on the ITF's approved list but, according to a source who spoke to Joe Fleming at USA Today, the US isn't too worried about getting the ITF's sign-off.
Here's what the Davis Cup rules say about approved court surfaces:
The key provision is this:
"For all Ties in the World Group...the court surface must be of a type used a in Grand Slam Tournament or in a minimum of three Tournaments in the Men's Professional Tour held in the year previous to the Tie."
This "Indoor Hard Premier" definitely isn't used at the US Open or Australian Open, so the issue is whether it has been used in at least three ATP tournaments in the last year. From what I can tell, it hasn't.
There's more information in this Ticker post, which pretty much lays out the USTA's stance on the issue. Curiously, they seem to put a lot of weight in the fact that the surfaces has been used in the past. But again, rules are rules, and I haven't seen anything that indicates that it's been used sufficiently in the past year so as to satisfy the ITF's rule. It seems to me the USTA is going to have to show that it's just a semantics issue, and that the surface has been used in the last year, just under a different name.
I can't help but imagine this argument if it were held in court before a judge:
Espana Esquire: Your honor, the rule clearly states that the surface has to be used at least three times in the past year. Defendants have produced no evidence to show that the use of this surface satisfies that rule.
American Attorney: Your honor, there is no problem with the surface. It has been used in major competition in the past, most notably in the 2007 Davis Cup final. The ITF has approved the surface before, it should have no problem with it now.
Judge Judy: Counselor, has the surface been used in any ATP tournaments in the past year?
American Attorney: Well, Judge, it has been used in the Davis Cup final and there are similar acrylic courts listed on the ITF approved list.
Judge Judy: So it hasn't been used in the last year?
American Attorney: Similar courts have been used extensiv--
Judge Judy: Has it been used in the last year?
American Attorney: Um...[shuffles papers]...your honor, similar acrylic courts have been used and this is really just an issue of semantics.
Judge Judy: Counselor, where did you go to law school?
American Attorney: Uh...your honor?
Judge Judy: Sir, I asked you where to go to law school. I ask because I need to contact your alma mater to ask them why they're not teaching their students that when a judge asks them a direct question, their responsibility is to answer the question placed before them.
American Attorney: [Shitting. The. Pants.]
Don't laugh. I saw this happen. But...like...not about tennis.
I would be inclined to think the USTA stepped in something here, but I could be wrong. They don't seem all that worried about it. Maybe this is just gamesmanship from Costa? Always possible.
The ITF said it would make a decision on the suraface on Thursday. I'm sure everyone is waiting with baited breath.
The more interesting thing I learned while trying to figure out this story is that during the USTA presale of Davis Cup tickets, which was presumably supposed to be an offer for USTA members only, people who bought tickets didn't even have to enter their USTA membership number. They just had to have the code. Well given the way the whole ticketing process went down (read: disaster), it appears that scalpers got their hands on that code and bought up a crapload of tickets, leaving paying USTA members either SOL or stuck up high in the rafters.
Way to show paying USTA members that you value them and their membership fees, guys.
Last week, I had a conversation with a friend who was surprised that I was a big Sabine fan. "Oh yeah, I've always liked her. There just...hasn't been much to write about her lately :("
Remember the early days of FD? Boom Boom Sabine firing down double-digit aces, making deep runs at Slams, body-checking a pissy Caro, and winning Premier tournaments, all the while rocking the most ridiculous eye makeup this side of Gaga? Those were good times.
Then injury struck. Horrible injury after horrible injury. She got dropped by Adidas (FUCK YOU, ADIDAS! You're a German company for Chrissakes!) and she was stuck in the qualifying doldrums, getting her ass kicked every which way while she struggled to hit the ball over the net and into the court.
But dare as I ask? Is Boom Boom back? She scored a nice win over Christina McHale over the weekend and came out today to beat Domi in straights, easily her best win in over a year. She'll take on Nails tomorrow after Nails broke her five match losing skid with a win over Sevastova.
Did you hear Sabine has teamed up with Sam for doubles this week? That's a big-serving team right there. Sam looked preeeeeeetty horrible for most of the first set. She raced out to a 3-0 lead behind some heavy serving and hitting, and then MGMT's wily dropshotting ways seemed to get into the kid's head. But at 5-5 Sam buckled down, won the next two games with some crazy shot-making, and then reeled off a 5-0 lead in the second, eventually taking it 75 61.
PHEW. She gets Dani.
You realize your avatar is you with a ball in your mouth, right? Just checking.
So...Domi was kind of excited securing a point when Ana was forced to retire in tears due to her abdominal injury on Sunday. Eyewitness accounts describe her as celebrating like a fucktard while Ana was busy crying into her racquet bag (paraphrasing, mine). I wish I could show you what happened but the YouTubes are empty.
What I do know is that if she did what everyone says she did (again, assumption) then it was, inarguably, a pretty classless move. If Amelie Mauresmo can hold her shit together and show some compassion when she WON A GRAND SLAM off a retirement, then surely you can keep your shit together when you secure a non-decisive point in a Fed Cup relegation tie. Am I being controversial here?
But let's give Midge the benefit of the doubt and say she got caught up in the moment (and yes, I'm ignoring my Ally McBeal instincts to yell "But it's an excited utterance and thus admissible hearsay!" Trying to be mature here). But they she took to the Twitter and tweeted her excitement. I gotta say, this short-sightedness sure does make me appreciate Caro's boring but classy post-match tweets.
Whoops. Got distracted. The point of this post was actually just to post up tweets at her that cracked me up:
“The one thing that Rafa does very well is move. When he is behind the baseline, he moves diagonally back to the ball so he takes it at the highest point. If you move across the baseline too much, that’s when the bad bounces can make you mishit the ball. You need to make sure that you always take the ball at the highest point. You can get away with half-volleys on hard courts and on grass, but it doesn’t work on clay.”
-- Andy, on what he picks up from watching Rafa play on clay.
Two words: Radwanskas. Dancehall.
No really, those are the only two words I understood on that page. But they were only two words I needed.
UPDATED: Whoops! Link fixed!
They may not be best friends, they may not be great tennis players all of the time, and they may have disagreements from time to time. But after this weekend they both share one unbreakable bond:
Daniela Hantuchova hates them both equally.*
In what was hands-down the most ridiculously dramatic tie of the weekend, Team Serbia overcame every fucking obstacle thrown in their way to stage in improbable comeback to take the tie over Slovakia 3-2, thus avoiding relegation to World Group II.
I'm going to guess that the only person who is happier than JJ, Ana, Bojana, and Alexandra about Serbia surviving this dicey tie is Dejan. When he announced on Friday that he wasn't putting in JJ to play a singles match on Saturday, people (read: me) were like "THE FUUUUUUUUUUCK????" You're *not* going to play the Serbia #1 and player who's been making quarterfinal and semifinal runs for the past month and a half? Watchu smokin' and can I have NONE OF IT.
No one was providing any clarification other than "I just think it's the right move." We would find out after the tie that JJ wasn't feeling well so she essentially tapped herself out of Saturday's action. I totally get why Dejan wouldn't say that in the first place. But seriously, it would have saved everyone a lot of heavy drinking.
Shit could have been baaaad after Saturday. Bojangles couldn't hold on to a one-set lead over Domi and collapsed in three, shifting the pressure on Ana. AND WE KNOW HOW MUCH ANA LUUUUUUUURVES PRESSHA!
Actually, she lurved it quite fine. She threw down the best Fed Cup performance of her career, beating Dani easily, and no there was no squeaking so don't even start with me, Dani. WHEEE!!! 1-1 after day one. Surely Dehan would put JJ in on Sunday and Ana and JJ would win their rubbers, hop on a plane, and go broker some peace in the Middle East.
After dropping the first set 63 to Domi, Ana was up 3-0 when she went for a backhand and felt a twinge in her abs. Yup, the same abs that forced her to retire from Hopman Cup earlier in the year. After dropping three straight games after that, she pulled the ripcord and retired from the match. Oh, and when Ana retired in tears, Domi danced around and celebrated like she won a Slam.
And that's when the Tennis Gods were like, "HAIL NAWWWWW, MIDGET."
Help us JJ-Wan Kenobi. You're our only hope.
And so, like death and taxes (which are due today, btw #PSA), JJ summoned Falkor (anyone?) and rode in to save the, what turned out to be, very very very long day. First she needed over two hours and 45 minutes to beat Dani, 7-5 in the third. Then she powdered her nose, took some time to explain to AK-47 what it means when Aunt Flo comes for a visit (mentoring!), and took the court for the decisive doubles match. Which turned out to be nuts.
Clearly the fact that it was a decisive doubles match wasn't dramatic *enough* for Team Serbia so they decided to make it interesting: by going down a set and 5-1, 30-0 to Dani and Rybarikova. Just for shits and giggs.
Final score? 26 75 97. Serbia advances, Slovakia relegated.
I honestly had no idea whether those guys were Serbian coaches who were celebrating via dog pile, or Slovak fans who bumrushed the court to tear JJ's head off. Either way, that looked kinda scary. But also very very awesome.
A gutsy Sunday for JJ who should totally get a Heart Award for spending over six hours on court, and a wonderful win by TEAM Serbia. Ana secured a point, JJ secured a point, and AK-47 comes through YET AGAIN in a decisive doubles rubber. And before people even try to slag off Bojana, let us not forget that much like Tipsy's DC heroics from last year, Serbia wouldn't have even been in a position to get back into World Group if not for Bojangles' Heart-Award-Worthy performance in the first round against Canada.
As for all the stuff on the Twitter about pitting JJ fans against Ana fans and all that nonsense (if you don't know what I'm talking about don't worry about) all I have to say is this: Whatever. This is a great accomplishment and result for these four ladies and I would personally rather spend my energy celebrating that than trying to turn shit all negative. It just seems so unnecessary. For now, let's pop some champagne, link arms, and sing made up songs that involve words like "ajde", "idemo", and "swimming pools". We can all return to throwing poo at each other tomorrow.
That's Fed Cup, people. It brings people together for a united cause. Crazy shit happens when you stich that flag on your kit. Sorry, did I say "crazy"? I meant AWESOME.
(Pics: AP, Fed Cup Site)
*No, I do not know why JJ was dressed like the Hamburglar.
Tough luck for the Waffle Nation. What looked to be a relatively straight-forward tie against the Czech Republic for a spot in the Fed Cup finals turned into an evenly matched battle once Kim injured her shoulder/foot/head/heart/whatever. After Wicky fell to Petra, fading in three sets, Flipper came through HUGE by beating BZS in straights.
BZS got the last cackle though, teaming up with Iveta to beat WickyFlips (feel free to use that as a product name, Belgian waffle spatula-making company!) 64 64 in the deciding dubs. I'm not a big fan of Team Czech but props to them. It took a team to get it done today, with all three team members responsible for a point.
And props to Petra Chihuatova. I didn't know how she would do this weekend against Wicky given her weird losses since Australia. Way to bounce back, girl.
So the first-time Fed Cup finalists will meet the seasoned pros of Mother Russia for the Cup. Bepa, Sveta, Pavs, and Maks took care of business against an Awesomeless Italian team, rolling to a 5-0 win after Italy was forced to field a team anchored by Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci. In singles. Yeah.
There was a bit of hubbabloo made (by the press) about some quotes from Roberta Vinci regarding Frank and Flav's absence. According to Uncle Jamie, Reuters claims Vinci "blasted" them, but the AP says she didn't. I have a really hard time thinking that Vinci would say anything bad about them at all and my official opinion is that something was lost in translation. Besides, if Vinci did slag them, wouldn't the Italian press have picked up on it? According to my sources (random fans on Twitter who speak Italian) the quotes haven't made any waves at all. So let's not, huh?
I am sooooooooo interested to see the team Shamil puts together for the final. Could we see Masha? Could we? COULD WE????
(Pics: Getty, AP)
Axis Alliance 2, Allies 0.
Waiting on you, Fran. Feel free to jump on in there too, Kimiko.
Welcome to the new world order. It just got a little more "Axis-y".
As Venus watched on, the super teamy and adorable Germans completely overwhelmed the American teenyboppers with a 5-0 schpanking (that' s how they'd pronounce it). Oh, and Liezel. She was there, too. More on that later.
With that, the Americans get relegated to World Group II for the first time in Fed Cup history. If you ask me it was a miracle that they were in World Group I for as long as they were, and even more of a miracle (miracler?) that they made back to back Fed Cup finals. This day was inevitable.
But don't worry, America. You're not alone! You'll have some company with two other former tennis superpowers. France has been relegated after failing to come through against the protestin' Spaniards, losing 4-1. On the current state of the French team, to quote Alec Baldwin *and* captain Escude: "It's complicated".
“It was difficult for me to choose the four women I was going to put on team. Alize beat Kuznetsova against Russia but it was her first win for her and she didn’t win a match after. I put Pauline in because she played well this week and Alize did. Aravane had tough beginning of the year in her mind and Virginie had problems in her personal life too. It’s complicated."
Bullshit, Nick. You how you uncomplicate things? YOU PLAY ALIZE EVERY CHANCE YOU GET. If you're going to get relegated you might as well get relegated *and* have a significant presence in my Fed Cup "Pic This" compilations. That only happens if you play Alize.
So we have America and France. Who else should we throw in the mix? Sure, why not Australia! This was the shock of the weekend. Even without Sam and Jelena Dokic, Australia were huge favorites going into Melbourne against a Bonderenko-less Ukraine. Jarka's had a great 2011 and surely, SURELY Rodio can get ONE POINT in singles against two players ranked outside of the top 100.
Jarka held up her side of the deal. She played like a team #1, besting Savchuk and Tsurenko with no problems, dropping only six games in two very quick matches. But Rodio? She lost to Tsurenko 1 and 4 on Saturday and dropped a tight one to Savchuk, 76 76, going to 12-10 in the second set breaker. Australia had one more chance to salvage the tie in the doubles and had two match points on Rodio's serve to clinch. They failed to convert and Team Ukraine came through with the decisive point.
Would it have been different if Sam had played? DUH. But you can't blame Sam and Dave for believing that Jarka and Rodio could take this one home without her services.
So back to World Group II for you, Australia. I hope you enjoyed your one-tie-stint in The Show. As for the Nonderenkos, well done you! Hell of an effort from two players ranked in the hundos.
(Pics: AP, Getty)
It's kind of like being the Count of Monte Cristo. But with fewer sandwiches.
Something tells me that with Rafa, the seventh one feels just as good as the first one. A day after dropping a set to a cortisoned Andy Murray (the first set he's dropped on clay in over a year, I believe), Rafa clinched his seventh straight Monte Carlo title in straight sets (64 75) over Daveed. And so the streak continues.
The last time Rafa lost in Monte Carlo he was 16 years old and Roger hadn't won a Slam. Ridiculous.
As of right now, Rafa's planning to play Barcelona, a place where he has a 25-match win streak with five straight titles until he opted to skip it last year. Do we think this is a good idea? I'm just wondering aloud here. Rafa's been complaining about being tired since Miami and he was noting his increased fatigue level this week as well. The good news is that he's still, like, winning without being at his best. The bad news is, well...he hasn't been at his best.
Thoughts? Sit the bull or let him ride the wave?
(Pics: Getty, AP)