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.
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)
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)
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)
On that note Novak in the Davis Cup or the Hopman Cup, which match do you have the best team-mate?
(Ivanovic) Well you can’t ask that question with me sitting here.
(Djokovic) Honestly. What do you think?
(Ivanovic) You’ll have to ask that when I’m not here.
(Djokovic) I mean I like my colleagues from the Davis Cup team, but you know I’d rather chose Ana.
(Ivanovic) Thank you.
Serbia had to withdraw from the Hopman Cup final (Belgium will take their spot) because Ana's got an abdominal tear, suffered during her match against Justine, which has also forced her out of Sydney next week. Fran had to retire from her match with a groin injury. Robbie had to fight a right glute injury in her loss to Bethanie, which forced her to withdraw from mixed doubles and puts her qualifying campaign for AO, which starts next week, in jeopardy.
All this and Shveddy wound up in the OR after her first match with a torn meniscus that required surgery.
Anyone got a spare liver? Mine is shot.
With Nole clinching a spot for Team Serbia in the Hopman Cup finals, our lovely duo went into the mixed doubles in full exhibition mode. The Djoker was in full effect, dropping to the fetal position at the net, trying trick shots, and Ana was a smiling, giggly schoolgirl throughout. It was absolutely glorious.
But the exchange of the match was when Nole, with Ana serving, started deliberately wiggling his ass at Ana while she readied to serve. She hit a huge fault and stood with her hands on her hips staring him down (I mean, "staring down" in an Ana way, which is to say "giggling embarrassingly"). She would drop her serve and make a move to literally kick Nole's ass.
And Nole didn't let her forget it in the post-match interview.
Overall, a good day for the Serbs. Ana lost her highly anticipated match against Justine 64 63, but she didn't play horribly, had her break chances, and the Justine was just steadier. I think the scoreline and the match was a good reflection of the gap between them at the moment.
YOU GUYS. STOP IT. YOU'RE KILLING ME.
It's like they're reading FD and doing this just to toy with me. Which I'm totally ok with.
Oh, Antonio. You had no idea what you were getting yourself into, huh?
Adorable. All of it. But you're still my fave, Leather.
(Pics: Hopman Cup site)
He knew you when you wore braces. He still wanted to be friends.
And when you could clearly beat him in an arm wrestling competition, he was man enough not to be intimidated.
He liked you even though you wore ridiculous accessories.
Your families are tight.
And he just...keeps...asking.
You two are adorable. Thanks for making Hopman Cup so fun.
You're more than welcome to use this as your wedding slideshow.
Pics from the New Year's Eve Hopman Cup Ball have been posted and, as expected, they are glorious.
Laura, her family, and what looks to be a diamond encrusted Snitch.
Lleyton having a good time.
Slava rocking the shit out of her dress. Love the hair, too.
Justine. I think.
LiveStrong bracelet? Check. Skate shoes? Check. No tie? Check.
LET'S GO PARTY!
Nole with the $8000 autographed guitar (by Queen) that he bought as a gift.
Nole rocking some pretty amazing "Stare-Off-Into-The-Distance-Can't-Focus-My-Eyes-ZOMG-Gotta-Pretend-I'm-Not-Shithoused" Face. Cheers to you, Falcon. Well-earned.
(Pics: Hopman Cup site)
I shelled out the good stuff for a solid courtside ticket to last night's Serbia/Australia tie and boy, it did not disappoint. My seat was about 45 feet from the Serbia box, which meant I spent little time watching the tennis and most of the time monitoring the happenings in the box.
Ana tweaked her knee toward the end of her singles match and after visiting the trainer she reunited with Mom and Pops. Papa Ivanovic, the big teddy bear, gave her a big hug and squeezed her shoulder and Dragana gave her a hug and a big smile (yes, Dragana is capable of smiling), and then literally looked like she was pulling her onto lap. Instead, she put her arm around Ana as Ana told her what happened and what the physio said. The she patted her on the butt. Which, I don't know, all of it just seemed so MOM. I've never really seen Dragana pull the "Mom card". It was really sweet.
From there it was box time. Ana ordered everyone an ice cream (heh) and a coffee for herself.
Check that. She got some ice cream for herself, too. I sat there watching her patiently eat her ice cream, cursing the fact that I was by myself and had no one to laugh with. For the record, she bit off all the chocolate first, let it land in her lap, picked up the chocolate, ate it, then ate the ice cream.
I will give her the benefit of the doubt that the second and third steps were unintentionally. Otherwise, that's a really convoluted way to eat ice cream.
From there it was edge of the seat Nole-watching. Lleyton would double fault to give Nole match point. After the first serve fault, Ana leaned forward, tapped Leather on the shoulder and whispered something. Lleyton double faulted and Ana got a gleaming smile as Marija whirled around and laughed and told Marian and they all laughed as Ana kept nodding.
THEN, on match point, Lleyton hits another first serve fault. The whole box turns to look at Ana who smiles and nods her head. Lleyton serves, hits the double fault to end the match, which led to this:
And she ran off to warm up for doubles.
Best seat in the house, people.
Team Serbia already clinched the tie (generally solid fist-pumpy match from Ana, unbeatable stuff from Nole) but a clean sweep over Australia would mean they only had to win one match in their next tie against Belgium to make the finals. With that Justine chick lurking, getting two wins wouldn't be a Slam dunk. So in the grand scheme of things (as grand as exos can be, really) the mixed rubber against Australia was kind of huge.
Things started out fine, as Ana and Nole were pretty laid back and giggly. But Australia was taking this all seriously and shit and the sitch got real pretty quick. After dropping the first set in a tiebreak, the Serbs looked pretty much done. Nole couldn't hit a return in to save his lif and the only way they kept it close was...wait for it...BECAUSE ANA WAS NAILS. Yes, Serbian Barbie was pretty much carrying this team through much of the match (uh...which was why they were losing, frankly) with some absolute pwnage of Lleyton's serve. Even I felt embarassed for him. She was killing the ball.
But late in the second set fatigue seemed to set in for both Serbs and it looked like Australia was going to be able to close out the match fairly easily. Ana wasn't moving for balls and Nole couldn't execute for shit. But then, all of a sudden, the two played some pretty impeccable tennis for 20 minutes and were able to come back from a break down to win the second set and then take the super tie-break.
They were, deservedly, pleased.
(Pics: Forty Deuce)
No idea why, but at one point during the mixed rubber Ana went to her chair and, instead of utilizing her generally impeccable posture, just slumped into it as though she were a blogger in front of the TV or something. I couldn't get my camera out fast enough (because I was laughing too hard) but about 5 seconds before this picture was taken she had her head back and was just sitting there, slumped, staring at the ceiling.
This goes down as the funniest goddamn thing I have ever personally witnessed from Ana Ivanovic. Hopman Cup rules.
What I lack in photography skill I make up for with recognition and quick hands.
Papa Ivanovic, making a quick run to the car 30 minutes before Ana took the court.
Pretty damn near impossible to take pictures at an Ana match and not get a load of fistpumps and ball toss catches.
I totally "awwwwwwwwed" when I saw Papa Ivanovic put his arm around Dragana. When do you ever see that from tennis parents? I can't think of one instance, honestly. At one point, Dragana had her arm around him, too.
Or they were airing out their pits. It was hot in there.
Ana smiling and chatting with the 'rents.
THIS was the shot I was waiting for all night and I was bummed that the photoagencies didn't get a good shot of it. Happy times.
Speaking of happy times...
I'm going to pretend Nole's kissing her hand.
Man hands, 12 o'clock.
Just a couple of kids. Playing Ken and Barbie.
Well I know he’s a good friend because you have known one another since you were five years old.
(Ivanovic) I think four.
(Djokovic) Yeah basically we started playing tennis together – we also played with Barbie and Ken as well. So we have been through a lot, you can say.
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! They were so cute!
It was all smiles for Serbia as they started their HC campaign with a 3-0 win over Kazakhstan. So many great moments. Ana's raised arm celebration at her box after a particularly nifty pick-up volley. Nole's stunned reaction at said pick-up volley. Ana's vibration dampner somehow flying across the court. The smiley changeovers. The totally fake discussion of tactics. It was all groovy.
But my favorite moment was when Nole hit a winner in his singles match and turned to fistpump at Ana, who was sitting in the box. It wasn't just *any* fistpump. It was *the* fistpump. It was adorable.
Speaking of *the* fistpump, it didn't take the off-season lightly. It's back on a mission:
Someone's been using the Shake Weight.
Welcome to Team Baby Elephant, Van Greasy!
That's right. Ana has taken on Vika's ex (weird) coach (better) on a trial basis and they'll be working together through Australia. Greasy's also worked with Bepa (remember the famous Sam/Greasy swap of early 2010?) and Sorana (uh...a small blip on his resume). From everything I hear on the Twitter it sounds like he's actually a really nice guy, greasy nickname and douchey sunglasses notwithstanding. And in from a distance personal interactions with him I can report that he doesn't smell horrible and he seems like a soft spoken, quiet guy. In fact, I can't really think of anything negative about him other than that whole making-Vika-into-a-good-player thing. But even that shows his amazing level of patience.
But, you know, the proof is in the pudding. Hope he integrates well with the team.
Dragana's got her eye on you, boy. And believe me, Leather will hold while she cuts. Watch yourself.
I still have to do a double take when I see Ana ahead of Masha. It seemed as Masha was actually part of the conversation at every Slam, while Ana had an eight month pity party. Solid years from Nails and Shahar (though really, how did that happen?) and nice to see Lil' Mash and Pavs finish the year with the highest year-end rankings of their careers. Hell, that can be said of a lot of the ladies: Caro, Bepa, Sam, Fran, Nails and Shahar, to name a few.
As for the guys, it's still weird to see Mischa in the top 10 and I'm shocked that Marin's first six weeks basically carried him to a top 15 ranking. But what's really surprising is the Tournaments Played stat.
Muzz played the fewest number of tournaments in the top 25, only 19, which is two fewer than the three big boys ahead of him. Sod played 24 tourneys and Tomas played 26(!), and I don't think this includes Davis Cup ties.
Marcos played 29 tournaments? That just makes his participation in New Haven either Herculean or Dumb and Dumber, depending on your take. Speaking of Dumb and Dumber, Sam Q really needs to take a look at his schedule next year. 27 tournaments? No wonder the guy was gassed through the second half of the year.
I'm still blown away that Andy only played 19 tournaments. That explains my state of constant longing.
Posted by C Note on November 29, 2010 in Ana Ivanovic, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Andy Murray, ATP, Caroline Wozniacki, Francesca Schiavone, Marcos Baghdatis, Maria Kirilenko, Maria Sharapova, Marin Cilic, Na Li, Robin Soderling, Sam Querrey, Sam Stosur, Shahar Peer, Vera Zvonereva, WTA | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
Ah, Thanksgiving. A day where TSA agents will "Pope" thousands of reluctant travelers, mothers and grandmothers will fist a headless bird with breadcrumbs and chestnuts (kinky!), and dysfunctional families will avoid awkward personal conversations by talking about Brett Favre's cock and eating their feelings in the form of a small feast that could feed a bustling African village.
God Bless America, I say.
It is also a time to stop and be thankful. At least that's what I was told in second grade when I was tracing my hand to make a turkey out of construction paper. Those were innocent times.
Things I Am Thankful For:
Now go eat your fucking turkeys, turkeys. The shrill voice of Liezel compels you.
My Serbian sources tell me that this is how crazy Belgrade Arena could get for Davis Cup. At least, it's how crazy Belgrade Arena *should* get for Davis Cup. But from what I understand, people who actually want to go and cheer on their boys are having trouble getting tickets, and fancy bougies who just want to go to be seen are buying up all the tickets. They'll probably sit courtside and look bored and shit.
Huh. That sounds a hell of a lot like the U.S. Open.
But hey, if I can incite a near-riot* by cheering on Janko from the last row in the upper decks at Ashe, the hardcore fans, even if few in number, should be deafening in Belgrade.
Hell, give Ana and Petko some thundersticks and let them go at it.
Wait...that might have come out wrong...
Thanks to Miljan and Noleksa for the links.
I'm going to Hopman Cup, Ana's going to Hopman Cup. I'm going to the Medibank International in Sydney, Ana's going to the Medibank International in Sydney. I'm going to the Australian Open, ANA'S GOING TO THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN.
This is really creepy.
Ana took out Kleybs in a tense, highly competitive final, 62 76. Tremendous hitting (check those balls for bruises), spectacular shotmaking, and championship intensity from both sides. It was a solid match to end the year on.
Primarily because it gave us that picture.
And so, congratulations to Ana, who finishes the year with 2 titles in her last three tournaments, 10 wins out of 11 matches, and finishes the year at #17, ahead of the likes of Masha and Kuz.
It's a good thing she skipped Bali, huh?
(Pics: Tourney Site, WTA Tour site)
It'll be Ana vs. Kleybs in the Bali final. The two have met three times per tournament this year. Or, if you prefer "facts", they've met four times this year, with Kleybs winning the first two and Ana winning the last two.
Ana had an intense and highly entertaining match against Kimiko today and, as expected, Kimiko came to play. Ana's rhythm on her serve was off in the beginning of the match, but she was eventually able to find her form to claw back from two sets down and save a couple of set points to take the first set 75. The second set was a bit of the opposite, with Ana leading for much of the set before Kimiko got a late break to force a tiebreak, which she won after coming back from 2-5. By the time the third set rolled around Ana was able to hold her form while fatigue began to set in with Kimiko, which allowed Ana to take the set 62. There were some awesome rallies in the match, which saw Ana defending like a mofo, trying her hardest to force Kimiko to hit that one extra shot. Really high quality tennis from both.
As for Kleybs, she completely outclassed Dani, who just didn't have the firepower to compete with Kleybs, who fired a barrage of shots all over the court to completely confuddle Dani. She won quickly so you'd think she'd be the fresher player going into tomorrow. Then again, she will have played three straight days, whereas Ana had a day off between her quarterfinal and semifinal matches.
This one should be a cracker. If Ana wins she'll end the year at #17.
Yeah, you read that right.
HOLY MOTHER FUCKING CRAP, YOU GUYS.
(Pics: Tournament Site)
So it'll be Ana vs. Kimiko and Dani vs. Kleybs for a spot in the finals in Bali. Ana dropped only one game on her way to a 60 61 rout of Pavs, Kimiko fought back from 1-3 down in the third to oust top seeded Nails, Kleybs dusted an "I'm over it" Aravane, and Dani scored a nice win over a feisty Wicky (is there any other kind?).
Awesome fact of the day: Ana was one years old when Kimiko turned pro.
Go Ana! Go Dani!
And no, that picture has nothing to do with anything. Except that it is awesome.
"Are you seriously saying you didn't?"
"That's ridiculous. Also, have you seen my manhands?"
"Ok, yeah. Those are pretty hilarious."
(Pics: Official Tournament Site)
One thing that's always fun to observe with respect to tennis tournaments is how each individual tournament takes on the personality of its locale. Last week, we saw the over the top luxury of Doha, which saw the players glammed up and, let's face it, kind of awkward. This week, the WTA season winds down the beautiful beach resort of Bali, and since Mayleen Ramey isn't there doing an episode of Destination Tennis, the WTA ladies are doing their best to fill in.
First up, Pavs, Kleybs and Wicky went on a surfing lesson, which they all seemed to enjoy.
And take very very seriously. As Pavs is wont to do.
From there it was on to WTA Arts & Crafts, with Aravane, Kleybs, and Ana.
Shit's intense, y'all.
Recognizing the intensity of the day's events, the ladies stop for some manicures.
And in a stroke of organizational genius, instead of having local (or "natives" as Kathleen Chloe Cahoon would say) manicurists do the work, they had AO08 semifinalists and former BFFs, Dani and Ana, give each other hand massages.
(Pics: Official Tournament Site)
The Bali draw is out and it seems that they've dropped the Round Robin structure from last year (it was RR last year, right?). This will be a straight up single elimination tournament with play starting on Thursday.
Nails, Kimiko, Pavs, and Ana are in the top half, with Yanina, Aravane, Kleybs, and Dani in the other.
Sure, Ana may be the in-form player but I've been burned too many times by Kimiko this year. She's coming off a good amount of rest after the Asian swing and she only has to win three matches to take the title. With Ana reporting tha the courts are playing very fast and Kimikos unorthodox hard flat shots, I don't know. It's just really hard to bet against her here.
But, you know, ajde and whatnot.
Thursday and Friday's OOP:
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Centre Court (from 17.30hrs)
1. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. Ana Ivanovic
2. Li Na vs. Kimiko Date Krumm (NB 20.00hrs)
Friday, November 5, 2010
Centre Court (from 17.30hrs)
1. Alisa Kleybanova vs. Aravane Rezai
2. Daniela Hantuchova vs. Yanina Wickmayer (NB 20.00hrs)
Winners advance to Saturday's semifinals.
(PIcs: Official Tournament Site)
Sadz. Ana and Heinz are no more. She wants a full-time coach and Heinz was a part-time gig. Sounds like a totally amicable split. No word yet on who gets custody of Leather.
I'm going to miss Heinz for sure, primarily because he got Ana to get back to basics. See the ball, hit the ball, and try not to toss the ball over the fence. All good things. But hopefully she knows that now and can carry it forward. I'm just worried about someone new coming in and wanting to reshape her game. That would not be good. But if Ana needs a new coach, I have a suggestion. Not really.
Meanwhile, Ana is coachless in Bali, which she says is totally cool because she was coachless in Linz, too, and that went alright. The fact that she points out that she's played everyone in Bali except for Kimiko is an awesome fact that we'll point to and laugh at after she inevitably loses to Kimiko.
Because you so know that's going to happen.
(Pic: Forty Deuce)
The Bali field has been in flux for quite some time, as a number of top players have suffered injuries or called it a season (see e.g., Justine, Masha, Kaia). But it's finally set:
I know what you're thinking. Mariana Duque Marino got shafted.
Based on current form you have to like Ana and Kimiko's chances but all around this is a solid field. If all eight ladies can bring their A/B game, we should be in for a highly competitive week.
(Pics: Getty, AP)
So it's come to this. Ana, the #4 seed, wins her first round match over Larsson (with a second set bagel) and will play Santonja next. Meanwhile, four other seeds lost, including Rezai and Wicky.
So...Ana's now a seed you can count on? Do things really change that quickly in tennis?
(Yes, yes they do.)
I know I've already ranted about this on Twitter but I really do wish the seedings for the US and Serbia were swapped so that the US got Belgium in Group A and Serbia got Great Britain in Group B. That would have given us a guaranteed Serena vs. Justine match, which I would actually pay to watch, and Ana vs. Robbie, which would have been fun for no one but me. As it were, the seeding committee, through some "interesting" rationale, put Serbia first, then the US, GB, and Belgium.
And while I'm getting my complain on, I'm still bummed that Sam's playing Brisbane instead. And that it's not Shveddy and Evgeny. Or Gael and Aravane. Or Jo. Or even The Cone!
Oh, Cone. I miss you. Team France really could have done better here.
Overall, those are pretty balaned groups, I'd say. In terms of AO preparation, Andy's got a solid slate of matches lined up with Halpert and Gael, whereas Nole should cruise through his group play. The ladies draw sets up some interesting matches, with Ana vs. Justine, Serena vs. Fran, and Robbie's first bite of the big apple vs. Serena.
Mixed doubles is always the wildcard and more often than not, the decider. And really, can you bet against these two geniuses?
ANYWAY, is it January yet?
Sing it, Damon.
Let's start with this pasty weirdo, who played one of the best matches of his career to beat Fed rather 3 and 2 in under an hour and a half to pick up his second Masters shield of the year. Even if you don't like either of these guys, be sure to catch a replay of the match if you can. Some of the rallies were insane and Andy came through with some huge serving in the clutch. Fed definitely didn't play his best, but a lot of that was due to Andy's incredible defense. As Fed said after the match, Andy made the court seem smaller.
So, congrats, Pasty. You done good.
Also doing good? The Anti-Pasty.
She demolished Patty 1 and 2 in 47 minutes (shortest final of the year), ending the match with her 25th ace of the tournament to pick up her first title in TWO YEARS. She didn't drop a set all week and was broken only 5 times. Say what? Yeah, that's right. It was consistently big serving and hitting all week. Awesome stuff and it's fun to see all the support the kid is getting within the media. With the win Ana outright qualifies for Bali and will rise to #26 on Monday.
Don't worry, Serena. Your muffin basket is in the mail.
Wow. I didn't mean for that to sound dirty.
Anyway, WHOO HOO!
Ana takes a late wildcard into Linz and she now finds herself in her first final since IW09 without having dropped a set all week. She'll take on Crazy McGee, who denied us all a Petko/Ana final, tomorrow.
An excuse to post a VMars clip? Duh.
Ana's into the quarterfinals in Linz after beating a rather testy Barbara Zahlova Strycova 3 and 2. Oh, and Ana ate yogurt, which she immediately regreted because she literally had to run off court to puke. And when she returned she was docked four points. And there was confusion.
Things we learned: If you're going to puke, puke on your own time. Also, don't eat yogurt right before you're about to play.
The More You Know.
"Wait, you're coming to Perth?"
"FUCK YEAH, I'M COMING TO PERTH! (or will at least try)"
Ok, so obviouly the Hopman Cup lineup was already awesome. Nole and Ana, Serena/Isner, um... Fran...Shveddy...other people. But my super happy fun times pairing was finally confirmed today. That's right, Robbo and Muzz will team up once again, with Andy trying not to fuck up again and lose Laura's diamonds.
Because they're hers, Andy. They're hers. You owe her and we all fucking know it.
I actually missed their awesomeness last year because I was on vacation in Vietnam and, well, I know this is shocking, but they weren't exactly airing Hopman Cup in Saigon. So I'm really hoping I get to experience this dreaminess (Nole, Andy, Ana, Robbie, oh my!) live or in person.
COME ON! [/GOB]
Serena's pulled out of Linz and Moscow, and likely the YECs and Fed Cup due to reaggravating her foot in practice. Per a statement, her season is likely done.
Despite all the confirmations that she was going to be in Linz and Moscow, which made sense considering she was practicing and really, why the hell would she be practicing if she had no intention to play for the rest of the year, the withdrawals and season shut-down can't be too surprising. But the news does have a pretty interesting effect on things.
Serena could drop as low as #5 for the year, possibly more depending on what happens in Doha (hell, Bepa could end up #1 if things fall the right way). If that were to hold up through the Aussie warm-up tourneys, that means she wouldn't be one of the four top seeds in Melbourne. Nutty.
In addition, her withdrawal gave a wildcard to Ana for Linz, which gives her another opportunity to collect some points to get he ranking up. She'll be #29 going into the tournament, I believe, and who knows. If she has a strong end of the season and a solid pre-AO, she could be a top 16 seed at the Open. Ok, I'm totally making that up. I haven't sat down with my trusty abacus or anything. But the goal, I would guess, is to be seeded (top 32) for Melbourne. Keep on climbing, you fat elephant.
Finally, Serena' withdrawal from Doha opens up one more spot. It looks to be a battle between Vika, Nails, an Shahar for that last spot.
This result absolutely shocked me. Ana not only beats Lena D but does so in straight sets via two TIEBREAKS. I mean, talk about a mental victory. I just never though Ana would win a match like this over a quality opponent like Lena.
She'll play Sunshine next.
Can we just have a smile-off and give Ana the win?
Kimiko-Tan, you are out of con-fucking-trol. A day after she bounces Masha she celebrates her 40th birthday by advancing to the third round after Dani refused seconds on another bagel and retired, 26 60 40, with a right shoulder injury. That was one hell of a birthday present, Dani. Did Ai put you up to it? Kimiko plays Franny next.
Meanwhile, Ana took one look at Mono's get up and promptly threw in the towel, losing 62 61. The kid is wildly inconsistent right now but that's way better than being consistently stank. So that's the silver lining there, folks.
Except for the minor upsets of Petko over Sveta (dance, bitches!) and Coq Au Vin over Aravane (she's really gotta be hating American teenagers at this point) the remaining seeds pretty much cruised into their next matches. Vika, in her first match since kissing the ground in New York, posted a solid performance against Lucie and Caro does what Caro do: win matches at tournaments no one is watching.
Oh, what's that? You're saying that Sam, the number four seed, lost in straight sets to JULIA FUCKING GOERGES?
Bullshit. No stream, no livescore, and no pictures. It never happened.