This picture makes me sad.
An outstanding performance by MaKiri today meant that Agi won't be playing in Doha (unless she makes it as an alternate). The fucked up thing is that because of the Bali qualification rules (discussed at length in our last podcast), she might not even get to play Bali. So we'll have a player, who will likely finish in the top 10, who will play neither YEC. Nice job, WTA. Seriously, can you do *anything* right?
Flava Flav was forced to retire while up a set to Agnes due to a left knee injury, thus ending her campaign for Doha. And since Bali is scheduled during the same weekend as the Fed Cup final, she won't be playing Bali either, even though she's qualified.
So...well done, WTA.
The biggie for this week is Kremlin Cup; an ATP 250 for the men and a Premier for the women. Since it's the week before Doha, most of the top women are giving Moscow a miss. Never mind that, though, because the four women still in contention for the last spot/alternate status at YEC are all playing. Davai!
Is this for some WTA late-nite ad campaign? Because otherwise I can't figure out what the hell is going on. And if anyone has a clue why Barbara Schett is involved, I'd be extremely interested in some clarification. (I'm not so sure of some of the IDs, either, so feel free to correct.)
So... that work thing happened. And now I am determined to at least get a results post out. It's not gonna be much, but I submit it humbly for your consumption, dear reader.
Okay, not really, I guess. But come on, Radwanska/Cornet? That's a solid match. On paper. Maybe. And Anna-Lena Groenfeld somehow took Flavia to three sets. They're trying. Halfheartedly.
Dinara, Serena, Caro, Sveta, Venus, Elena and Vika are already in. That means there's one spot left for the Year End Championships in Doha...
Only one of these, right? Thank God.
Nice to see you're so excited about making your second straight semifinal by beating Lena, Agi. Don't ever change. Kuz cruised over Pavs in straight sets, setting up a fantastically headcasey semifinal against...
The Serena Slayer. Big ups to Nads, who followed up her win over Serena with a three set win over Bollitieri Beater Shuai Peng. Peng took the first set in a tiebreaker and was playing really well until she hurt her left leg. From there is was just a matter of time before Nads ran away with it, though seriously, she was still Nadsy about it. Headcases forever!
And in the "Wha happen???" story of the day, Mono somehow rallied from 63 51 down to win over Bepa. What. The. Fuck. Vera. She only won 7 points in the second set after leading 5-1.
A-Rad came back from a set and 0-4 down to reel off the next six games and win 46 64 62. Good on her. I went to sleep thinking she was about to get bageled.
And Bepa avenged her rather dramatic loss to Flavs at the USO with a rather dramatic three set win in Beijing. Apparently there was a lot of sniping from both of them because of some questionable line calls. And as the China Open site describes:
Early in the match, Pennetta was berating herself for mistakes, but by the end of the second set, Zvonareva took her turn. She met with her coach twice during the match.
Five times in the match the chair judge corrected the line judges. On the fifth, Zvonareva argued to keep the original call. She then loudly and aggressively scored the next point, but lost the game.
In the third set, when Zvonareva was up 3-2, Pennetta took a break after a back injury. After examination on and off court, she returned to win two more games.
Pennetta fought until the last point, arguing with the chair judge over shots missing the sideline. Finally, Zvonareva won the 2 1/2 hour match with a close 7-5 set.
Heh. Sounds like a doozy.
After a mild bit of scouring I couldn't find any pictures from these two matches. Apparently Marion Bartoli is more of a press score than A-Rad, Flavs, or Bepa. But these pics are great.
Perhaps the best thing about that Bepa picture? The caption: "Vera Zvonareva happily met and signed autographs for some of her fans during some time off from matches."
Yeah, she looks ecstatic, WTA.
Day 1 is on its way into the books.
And except for a few moments of stress, it was pretty snoozy.
Fed won easily, though Devon Britton, the young American, showed some stuff to be excited about.
Makiri won easily in her new Adidas Competition gear.
Hmm...maybe it *was* the clothes.
Don't tell Aga, but that ain't a checkmark on her kit.
In what was one of Masha's better matches in her comeback, she was able to exact revenge on poor Agi, who beat her at the USO two years ago. The serve is still wonky but Maria was able to tee off on Agi's puff serves and take advantage of anything short. Really nice performance from Maria, who got the 62 76 win. Maria actually came back from 2-5 down in the second set and 0-2 in the tiebreak.
So the semis will be Pova vs. Kleybs and Lena vs. ReRe. Uh...Davai! If Maria can make the final then it's likely she'll be seeded for the USO. So yes, there is something riding on this tournament.
As a side note: Dear Toronto fans -- Cheering between first and second serves and applauding double faults? Come on.
Aga and Caroline are playing doubles together in Toronto, which means some good old-fashioned fun on practice. I will give Papa Wozniacki some credit for trying (although failing) to get Caroline to pick up the mess of balls behind her. Oh well, Coconut and her man harem took care of it later.
It was a day of strong challenges that fell just short as, for the most part (*cough*AnaAga*cough*) the seeds came through. MaKiri stuck with JJ for much of the first set before she dropped the tiebreak 8-6. From there, JJ took the second set 63 for the win. But don't worry MaKiri, you still double bageled her and spat in her face at the net in the fashion department.
In the now-more-frequent-then-we'd-expect Woz/Woz match, Caro survived a scare from Aleks, dropping the first 46 before coming back to take the next two tight ones, 64 64. Maybe Aleks is saving herself for Canadaland.
As for my favorite racquet smasher with a vagina (an important distinction so long as Marat is still playing), Bepa got 'sticked in the second by Kleybs and had to battle out the third to a 75 win. Survive and move on, Casper.
As for A-Rad, how do you get bageled by Mama Bammer? I think her new Babolat skirt distracted her. She's never seen a logo before.
Singles - Second Round
(4) Elena Dementieva (RUS) d. (Q) Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) 63 64
(5) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) d. (WC) Maria Kirilenko (RUS) 76(6) 63
(7) Vera Zvonareva (RUS) d. Alisa Kleybanova (RUS) 64 16 75
(8) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) d. Aleksandra Wozniak (CAN) 46 64 64
(9) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) d. Anna Chakvetadze (RUS) 64 62
Melinda Czink (HUN) d. (11) Ana Ivanovic (SRB) 76(6) 75
Sybille Bammer (AUT) d. (13) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 60 75
(14) Flavia Pennetta (ITA) d. Agnes Szavay (HUN) 62 64
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) d. Anna-Lena Groenefeld (GER) 63 62
Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) d. Alona Bondarenko (UKR) 75 16 64
Peng Shuai (CHN) d. María José Martínez Sánchez (ESP) 57 62 61
(WC) Kim Clijsters (BEL) d. Patty Schnyder (SUI) 62 75
Doubles - First Round
Kirilenko/Vesnina (RUS/RUS) d. Chuang/Yan (TPE/CHN) 64 60
Despite the LA tournament organizers trying their best to make this the most annoying tourney ever, I had a blast attending the tournament. It really could have sucked. The night before I was set to take off, both Dina and Ana lost, the latter being unsurprising and the former being, well, possibly a game changer. I mean, I was shelling out $500 to *not* see Dinara? What the fuck?
But it all proved to be worth it. Despite the 8 dollar beers, prohibition on bringing in outside food or drink (though that didn't stop *some* people), and getting yelled at for bringing in a camera with a lens longer than 3 inches, it was so great to be in the sun and watch tennis. But what made it awesome was the great company of Victoria, Katie, and Tracy, and the great matchups and high quality tennis (uh...let's ignore the hell that was the two hour Masha/Ula clusterfuck).
Highlights after the jump.
Interesting quotage from James LaRosa's blog on friendships on tour. Much like James, I too am obsessed with wanting these girls to (a) be buddies on tour and (b) be buddies with me (well not all of them, just the awesome ones, cuz that's how I roll). It's cute to see CanWoz down on court and congratulating Caro in her semifinal win in that fake clay tournament that I can't think of right now, or Caro coming standing courtside cheering on Sorana, despite the fact that she was already out of the tournament. And I like to think that, especially among the veteran players, that as crazy as I make these women out to be, they're actually way awesome people that I just want to drink beers with and watch get into bar fights (I'm looking at you, Flavs).
Unfortunately, it looks like the stakes are just too high these days, for both the men and the women. Per Marat:
So what you're saying is that *after* tennis you and Dina will be BFFs? Sigh. Fine, I'll take it.
Oh, and just because I can and should, y'all should follow James on Twitter. You'll thank me later: http://www.twitter.com/JamesLaRosa
Congrats to them because they totally deserved it, bageling MaKiri and Agi in the first set and them taking the super-tiebreak.
These two somehow win doubles matches despite the fact that Aga insists on trying to be the "better doubles player" but kinda sucks. MaKiri on the other hand is just a quintessential doubles player. She just has such great court sense. But then Aga decides that she'd like to run across the net to poach a ball she has no business poaching and leaving the cross court wide open.
But they're still hilarious to watch. It's weird to think what the hell these two have to talk about but they're actually quite talkative with each other. And MaKiri smiles quite a bit when she's playing with Agi. I think they're planning to play together in Cincy. MaKiri said that since they've been playing together they keep making finals so they'll just keep on going.
A few of you have written inquiring as to when the next installment of the Forty Deuce podcast would be up. Here's the deal: It is SUPER awkward to do a podcast by yourself. And with my partner in crime (heh), Love All, off at an undisclosed location for much of this year, I've had to shelve the podcasts. Unfortunately my dog has very little to say about tennis.
But you can't say that I don't listen so here's the next installment, wherein I've roped in Forty Deuce regulars Sodapop, Carrie, and Victoria, to talk about everything from my general apathy towards Ana's losses, illegal immigration, and Stan's second fiddle, to how badly the WTA marketing department has failed, our love for tennis umpires, and the intimate details contained in Sodapop's diary. You'll have to excuse any technical issues. I'm still trying to master it all. But I'll get it all worked out and I can promise your tech savvy and topically focused p-casts in the future.
I'm warning you, it's a long one and very WTA heavy. Perfect for sitting in traffic while you're on your way to wherever you don't want to be.
Posted by C Note on August 07, 2009 in Agi Radwanska, Ana Ivanovic, Ashley Harkleroad, ATP, Dinara Safina, Jelena Jankovic, Maria Sharapova, Marion Bartoli, Michelle Larcher de Brito, Podcasts, Rafa Nadal, Sam Stosur, Serena Williams, Sorana Cirstea, Stanislas Wawrinka, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Vera Zvonereva, Victoria Azarenka, WTA | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)
Question: When is the last time you remember Agi taking down a major scalp? And I don't mean a slumping Ana from a couple of months ago. I mean a legit, sit up and take notice, she's so wily and crafty, win? I can't remember any significant takedown since Masha two years ago. Sometimes I feel like she's still trading on that win.
But anyway, once again, Agi was completely outclassed by Venus at a major. Maybe this is just a pure matchup problem, but I'm definitely on the "SELL" side of A-Rad. I'm just not feeling it anymore. I like you for your off-court artistic skills and your propensity to stink-eye, neither of which require you to hold a racquet.
As for Venus, that's 30 straight sets on grass. She hasn't lost here since 2006 when she lost to JJ (or Ana, if you believe the LA Times). I don't generally like watching either Williams Sister on any surface, but I do like watching Venus on grass.
Agi will play Venus next. Lena on the other hand looks well on her way to making her second straight Wimbly semis. She'll play the winner of Tranny/Gypsy.
Nice profile by the NY Times on the Polish surge in the WTA.
Dear Adidas: Just give the Rads and CanWoz a contract already. Then you'd have all 5, which would be like grabbing the entire side of a Monopoly board (I'll leave it to you guys to decide whether it's the "Park Place" side or the "St. James Place" side).
Fantastic run for my favorite Canuck. There's just something so damn likeable about her. The French-Canadian-Polish accent, the perpetual smile, the little extra chub, the completely mismatched and out of season Adidas gear. What's not to love? So good on her for this impressive run. Just goes to show that on fast(ish) surfaces, she's a dangerous lurker. Remember what happened last year in Stanford?
So we get yet another Woz-Woz matchup. I wonder if CanWoz was waiting courtside to give Caro a high five this time. Yeah, probably not. We all know how that worked out last time.
As for the other semi it'll be an all French affair (seriously, why can't you girls play on CLAY?). I guess I'll go with the Gypsy on this one, mainly because she dumped A-Rad out today. Can't wait to see Agi's artistic rendering of that one.
(6) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) d. (Q) Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) 63 62
Virginie Razzano (FRA) d. (8) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 76(5) 75
Marion Bartoli (FRA) d. Anabel Medina Garrigues (ESP) 61 64
Aleksandra Wozniak (CAN) d. (Q) Vera Dushevina (RUS) 61 60
Wow, you get really close to the action at the Eastbourne practice courts. I want to go to there. Here's Momo and Nads practicing.
Nads and Bethanie
AI practicing with Cahill.
Sveta and CSN.
Cones, Snot Rocket, and the Rads.
Rad, Stosur, and I can only assume Stubbsy there in the background.
JJ with, and I know I'm going out on a limb here, *not* Ricardo Sanchez.
He looks retarded. I laughed. Not proud of it.
Just do it, Wilson.
Jo just really likes biting balls.
I just want to tackle and lick him. Or lick his...wait, what were we talking about?
So, yeah yeah yeah, there was a match between Kuzzy and Aga today, and it was really important because they'd both been playing well coming in and Aga's won 3 of their last 4 matches, and if either of them were going to move on, they both needed a good challenge from a strong player to really test where they are in their games.
Q. Can you talk about the coaching relationship, how that's going and what you're learning?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: It's going great. I enjoy working with Larisa, because she's not only my coach, she's my friend. This is great. For me, atmosphere in the team, it's means alot.
Now I have my hitting partner, which is 22, my massagist [sic] which is 24. So it's funny, you know. In some way I just start to think about it right now, and it's very funny. But I enjoy it so much. I cannot explain it.
Q. Why is that funny?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Because everybody is so young. We're like in school almost. A little bit grown school.
Q. Are you the school teacher or are you the student?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I'm medium. I'm in between. Larisa is the mama of us, kind of. No, she's not definitely mama. She's like my sister, but older sister which tells me what to do sometimes.
Looks like Baby E didn't sign an endorsement deal so much she just decided to buy some NetJet time.
Does this mean that A-Rad just bought a watch?
Thanks again for posting, Curtis.
(Pics for Forty Deuce by Love All and C Note)
Lena D had a tense first round match too and the way she played she should be out of the tournament. She pulled out a tense one 76 26 61 over Barrois. She was sluggish in her movement and just seemed all discombobulated on the court. Barrois actually had a 5-3 lead in the first set before Lena came back. Hopefully this scares the crap out of her and she wakes up for her second match.
Here's a link to a rough translation of the extensive interview Agi gave to a Polish newspaper. My highlights:
Which question don't you like most?
- Absolutely number 1 is: "What happened in the second game of the third set when you played THIS forehand. Or: "Why you didn't shoot ball at line in third game". I hate such questions because tennis match is a composed thing. Right, single actions decide but you must see the wholeness and not one action. One of tv channels asked: "Who would you never loose to?". My dad stood near and he said that to Jadwiga Jędrzejowska. They didn't get a hanging that she's dead. (!!!) I am also irritated that sometimes there are journalists who don't know tennis at all! I appreciate that they are interested in me but it would be right to know what's WTA Tour or Grand Slam. One lady didn't know who's Justine Henin (!!!). I thrilled.
- I hate it. I'm annoyed that it's so terribly overrated.
So such matches like defeat in II round of Miami to 15-year-old Portugal Larcher de Brito are not in your mind?
- Weak matches happen to everyone. When you don't have a forehand you'll manage nothing. I don't know why it happened in Miami. A week before in Indian Wells I play great, I was in QF. Additionally, de Brito is not 15! She and her coach claims so but noone believes it. (!!!)
In which smaller tournaments will you play?
- Surely in Warsaw because it's the only tournament where I can show my game to polish people. I wanted to go to Pattaya where I won last year but I couldn't. Vera Zvonareva wanted to play there. She's ranked higher than me so she has a priority.
I meaned rather sport issues eg. serve. I know it's irritable topic...
You know what? You're right, Agi. People NEVER ask Lena D. about her weak ass serve. Good observation. And yeah, Roger NEVER had a sponsor before he became #1. Good call. And yeah, you probably shouldn't hit the gym or the track too much. Good plan.
I get that she wants to be rebel and do things differently. But when you look around and see everyone else putting together teams, hiring fitness coaches, getting leaner and stronger and fitter, don't you think that maybe that shit is important for elite success? It's like in law school. Everyone was in study groups, so I joined a study group. Then I quickly realized that I hated studying in a group and it was a complete waste of time, so I quit the study group and just studied on my own, which was rare. So I did it my own way, but it didn't mean I didn't study. What I am I rambling about? I have no clue.
I do love that she has a chronic case of verbal diarrhea. Keeps it fun.
Matt Cronin previews 2009 for the ladies:
Nice balanced highlights. It even has the F-Bomb moment. Hah. And that slice backhand slice passing shot at 43 30-15 was ridonkykong.
Two very different roads to the finals, but hey, a final it is. Bepa manhandled a very exhausted Mono, 60 62. Bepa is playing with such confidence and conviction, it's really great to see. For whatever reason, I've always had a soft spot for her, so I'm psyched she's officially qualified for Doha.
As for Ana, it was a typical Ana. Absolutely on fire in the first set, let down in the second set, and a grind out third set. She served horribly throughout the match (37% in the first set!) but when it counted in the third set and she absolutely had to hold, she didn't miss a first serve. No doubt she's going to need to pick it up against Bepa. Agi also deserves some props. This is the best I've seen her play since Eastbourne. Hopefully she uses the off season to work on her fitness. She needs to get stronger.
One more note about the Ana/Agi match. Why, oh why, can Ana not play aggressively ALL THE TIME. There were flashes of that killer/angry instinct and then something would go wrong and she'd get distracted and have a let down. Also, Ana had some great net play in the first and second set, but then she got tenative and stayed on the baseline in the third. I have a feeling that of all the top players, Ana will benefit the most from on-court coaching next year.
Kidding about the headline, though I do think Agi wins if that's the metric.
Two very nice wins for Ana and Agi today. Ana beat Flava Flav in straight sets, 64 64, and she played some quality tennis on the way. She was moving very well, moving to the net, and both wings were clicking (did you see those BH DTLs in the set?). That toss though. Oof. Girl, you really need to invest in the Toss Assist. That being said, Baby E is looking pretty good heading into Doha.
As for Agi, she had a pretty routine over Nads, 63 62. This sets up a fun semifinal matchup between these two, who met for the first time here in Linz two years ago. Ana came out on top 62 62.
Here are some highlights from that match. Tremendous shot making from Ana:
Ana and Agi will be the second semifinal tomorrow. First up, Mono vs. Bepa. Play begins at 14.00hrs local time.
UPDATED: More from the Linz Player Party