It's not so much that Feli likes to show leg, it's that his legs refused to be contained.
I'm flattered by the offer, but no.
More after the jump.
It's not so much that Feli likes to show leg, it's that his legs refused to be contained.
I'm flattered by the offer, but no.
More after the jump.
Posted by C Note on May 24, 2010 in Alisa Kleybanova, Ana Ivanovic, ATP, Caroline Wozniacki, Feliciano Lopez, Fernando Gonzalez, Gael Monfils, Jelena Jankovic, Kei Nishikori, Marcos Baghdatis, Novak Djokovic, Pic This!, Richard Gasquet, Roland Garros, Serena Williams, WTA | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Q. Obviously we've seen the rise and sort of the fall of your game. In Rome you put together some good wins. I'm wondering if you started to feel something click and change in your game now, or if it's just, you know did you?
ANA IVANOVIC: Yeah, a lot of things changed. I think I'm completely different player than I was, you know, a couple years ago. And also, there are more aspects in my game that I actually added. Still, you know, some days, you know, it's a little bit harder for it to fall all together into place. And other days it's much, much easier. I mean, the improvements are immense. And since I started working with Heinz, it's really been, you know, every day I could see improvement. We worked a lot on my serve and just also on my groundstrokes to be more free and actually swing through the ball better. It's just making me feel more comfortable in the court, and I do. I feel also I'm becoming more and more consistent, which was the thing that I always tried to do. So finally I feel things are coming into place. I get excited, you know, because I want results, as well, straightaway. But sometimes, you know, you have to wait, because it's been a long, long time since I played a lot of matches in a row. So it's a lot of emotions, so it becomes not so much anymore about this game in particular. It becomes also my mindset and some doubts that I still have. It's gonna be a process, but I really feel good about my game at the moment.
Q. Do you find yourself fighting with the doubts that you can be an elite player again?
ANA IVANOVIC: I have no doubt about it. I really feel I belong to the top and I can get back to the top. It's just the little steps and trusting myself when I'm out there, when I'm hitting the ball, you know, just trusting the movement and that stroke, you know, rather than pulling back and, you know, and in my serve, actually committing, because I'm serving you know, I was serving great past few weeks. It's been a huge improvement. Then sometimes I still doubt it. So I think it's also a process of just doing it over and over again until it becomes a habit.
Q. Is it fair to say that the last maybe year or year and a half has not been very much fun for you on the tennis court?
ANA IVANOVIC: Not fun at all. You know, it was and also lots of tears and lots of hard times and lots of doubts and fears, everything, but, you know, it's something that you learn. And if you overcome it, it's you learn from it and it makes you better player and person after that. I have really good people around me now, and I trust them a lot. They're very supportive, and they believe in me when I didn't believe in myself. So that's great to see.
Q. You said that your game was much different than it was two years ago. What was the reason why you felt it needed the change?
ANA IVANOVIC: Well, at first with my coach, we thought, or yeah, he thought that maybe we need to improve in order to stay at No. 1 position, which now, looking back, it's really silly, because I had kind of good game and it was just matter of, you know, getting more consistent in the way I was playing and not trying to get better and try to be more technically perfect. Because, you know, everyone has a zone they need to feel good about. That kind of created a lot of doubt, because I started doing different things.
So all of a sudden, I went away from what I was doing and trying to play more close, play more open. So it was kind of a circle of everything and you don't feel so comfortable. You have doubts on the court. You lose some matches. Then confidence goes. So it's kind of circle.
JJ finally beat Ana on clay. And you know what? This match was just horrible. JJ wouldn't hold her own serve until the second set. Ana definitely had her chance to take it in two. But neither player could really get into a rhythm. It was just...bad on both sides.
Also, I got drunk during the match and passed out in the third set. So...I don't know, maybe there was good tennis in the third set. Somehow I doubt it.
Oh, and then there was this:
The Daily Mail summarizes all the JJ quotage on Ana's lack of participation in the last Fed Cup tie.
I wonder if Ana's camp will respond. I mean, other than the icy stares from Dragana, which really, is all the response needed.
Bring it, ladies! As Liezel would say, "WHO'S MORE PATRIOTIC?!?!?"
Oh, man. Tignor nails it.
I can relate to del Potro, and, as I’ve written here before, I can also relate to Ivanovic, both in her inability to hit a specific stroke, and the total loss of confidence that comes with it. When I competed for real, I went through periods where it felt like I was finding a way to lose, that even if I played well for a few games, or a set, in the back of my mind I was waiting for the truth to come out. The truth being that I couldn’t win a tennis match. Are you surprised that I didn’t win a whole lot of matches with this mindset?
Watching Ivanovic this year, I recognized similar signs in her attitude. If something went wrong in the first game, she was quick to pull her visor down over her eyes in embarrassment and anxiety, as if to say, “I knew this was going to happen,” or “I know what’s coming, and I can’t look.” It’s a terrible feeling to believe that you can’t win. When I’m in that state, the beginning of a match can feel like I'm standing at the bottom of a mountain, with no clue where to start climbing. Errors confirm the truth about yourself, good shots seem like pathetic mirages, delays before the inevitable.
Does this sound overly dramatic, or a little depressing? I’d say it’s the nature of tennis. If your basketball team or baseball team or soccer team is losing, there’s some distance between that failure and yourself. It’s not fun, and it will get to you, but it’s a little like your company not doing well. You may not be good at your job, but it’s still a job, it’s not you. That distance doesn’t exist in tennis. The sport is you.
Today Ivanovic’s run of strong play in Rome ended in the semifinals. Over the course of the week, she’d gone from giddy in victory to quietly satisfied, as if she was beginning to expect to win again. The upside of the personal nature of tennis is that it doesn’t take long for you to start thinking good things about yourself, just like it doesn’t take long to believe the worst. It’s an intensified and compacted version of the swings—from joy to despair and every irrational point in between—that we all go through in our heads each day.
Near the end of her match, Ivanovic did a brief visor clutch after a lost point. The despair had, for the moment, returned. That’s what you get when you’re brave enough to play a sport where you’re never more than two points from changing your entire opinion about yourself. In tennis, you're always poised, hanging, dangling—two points from hope, two points from doom. You never know which way you're going to go.
Great article. There's stuff on DelPo as well.
That's all I can think whenever I see MGMT, who beat Ana 64 62.
The junkballer played some very effective junkyard tennis to completely throw Ana off her game and bring out the pissy frustrated Ana that we haven't seen all week. Drop shotting second serves, drop shotting three strokes into the point, dinking, doinking, putzing, flipping, IT WAS FUCKING ANNOYING. Put it this way, it makes me long for Caroline Wozniacki. There. I said it.
You know how when you watch most tennis players and you're like "man, it would be pretty cool to be able to play tennis like him/her?" I have none of that reaction to MGMT. I mean, good for her that she's able to and she's having a bit of a career resurgence and a really great season with that lame-o game-o. I mean, what is she, 38? Kidding. Congratulations, Oracular Spectacular.
Anyway, it's annoying that Ana had to lose to her but it still doesn't impact my high from this week. This week was more of a success than I could have imagined for her. Everything after Vika was gravy for me. Ana showed some positive signs of improvement and she has a lot to be encouraged about going into Madrid.
Where she will most likely lose in straight sets to JJ in the second round. But, you know, baby elephant steps.
"I think every player in one way or another goes through a tough time, and I think it is not how many times you fall but how many times you get back up. This tournament and these victories that I have had this week mean a lot to me because I have put in so much work, not only in the last months but also the last year and it was just not happening. Now I am just so happy to be back on track."
“Honestly, I’ve been feeling really good on court for a couple of weeks now and I really felt it could happen any week. I just needed to get some more momentum and start playing matches because that is what I’ve been lacking for so long. To have these wins here means a lot.”
“(Coach Heinz Gunthardt and I) have been working a lot on my serve and honestly, it needed a lot of improving and it is still work in progress. I still think I can serve a lot better and I am getting to a point where it is great to get some free points and it gives me a lot of confidence. Today, at a certain moment I served really well and also last night, and so it is good to get good feedback from all of the work that I put in. It is an important part of the game and today, you know Nadia was serving really, really well and it was great for me to be able to hold my serve because it was very difficult for me to return hers. My serve has been a big issue for me for over the past year-and-a-half, two years and now obviously it helps me in my game and puts less stress on other parts of my game because I feel more confident than I can hold my serves.”
Another day, another heady straight set win over a nutty Russian.
I scrambled to get yesterday's FD Podcast posted because I was anticipating an Ana loss today. Call it being a bad fan, call it self-preservation, call it someone having to learn to steel oneself against constant disappointment. But I honestly didn't think her head would come through for the fourth straight day.
But it did! After another dominant first set (is it just me or do you get the feeling other players just don't know what to expect when they take a court against "New Ana") that saw her serving well and cracking forehands, Ana again had to face a service let down and better quality of play from her opponent in the second set. Again it looked like this one would go three sets, as Nadia eventually worked herself into a one break lead. But instead of getting discouraged or panicking, Ana soldiered on, eventually getting her serve back in order to hold at love and eventually breaking back twice to seal the set.
I'm so trilled! This is the Ana that I love! The fighter from 2006-2008 who mounted impossible comeback after impossible comeback (vs. JJ in LA? vs. Dani at AO?).
But what impressed me more than the win was her reaction after the match. After she secured match point there was no squealing. There was no goofy grin as she clutched her racquet and looked to the heavens as if to thank "OHTHANKGOD". There was no look of relief. She simply clenched her fist as she walked slowly to the net and looked over to her box with a determined and non-chalant glare as if to say "Here we go."
In other words, this didn't seem to come as a shock, surprise, or long exhale. She's starting to believe. Instead of hoping for wins, which is what she's been doing for the better part of a year and a half, she's expecting them. Not because other people are telling her she's supposed to be winning but because she truly believes it. It's business time.
It's an amazing thing to see. She'll play the always tricky, occasionally cheatey MJMS tomorrow. No matter what happens, this week has been awesome.
You're looking at a Grand Slam Champion. A former #1 player on the WTA tour. The poster child for the future of the WTA after Justine and Kim voluntarily left the game and Serena's commitment was unclear. She was supposed to be the cheery brunette face to contrast with the stone cold icy blond that was the Sharapova marketing machine. She was a humble kid, with a dramatic backstory, who was best buds with another ATP rising star.
All was on the up and up. She gained fans for a variety of reasons. Some for how she looked, some for her game, some for her personality. She also alienated many. Because when you win and you beat other people's faves, you become a target. That's just part of being relevant. Oh, and she has some annoying quirks. That's just part of being a professional tennis player.
She busted her ass to reach the pinnacle of the game. And she got it. She was the toast of a small, much maligned country. Journalists loved her. Sponsors came running to her begging. And she managed it all, this complete world change, as best she could. As best as any normal person could.
Which is to say she didn't manage it well at all.
Beset with what seemed like a minor injury, everything changed. She suffered unexpected losses after that Slam win. She flew to Beijing to wear her national pride on her back and was forced to withdraw. She suffered the biggest upset by a #1 player in a Slam. She would continue to just flat out lose for 18 months. And she handled it all as best as she could. As best as any normal person could.
Which is to say she didn't handle it well at all.
Perhaps it would have been better if she could just be ignored. But she couldn't. No matter what, the spotlight was always there. All those who once cheered her now laughed. They wrote her off. Instead of softball questions at pressers breaking down what was going on with her game, journalists felt compelled to treat every presser as if it were a therapy session. Her love life became the home of invasive paparazzi who documented her every move. While some begged her to take a break, others vilified her for having a life outside of tennis and criticized her perceived lack of focus on tennis. She was under a microscope where she could do no right. The only way to fix it was to win matches. She couldn't. And so it went week after week as outsiders quickly attached to her the narrative that no one wants: A pretty face. An underachiever. A flash in the pan. A...wait for it...incurable headcase.
So you will have to forgive us Ana fans for feeling a primal surge of elation today as we watched our much maligned 22 year-old woman banish her demons, even if only for two hours, to overcome her limping opponent and, more importantly, herself, to notch her biggest win in over a year. You will have to forgive us if we give some, but not much, weight to the fact that Vika was not at 100%. You will have to forgive us if we consciously ignore the fact that Ana did not play her best match to win today.
Because it has never been about the opponent across the net. It has never been about the technical purity or flaws of her game. It has never been about any of these externalities or even about her tennis.
It has been about Ana. It has been about her head. And it has been about waiting for the day when she would put aside that ruminating, self-aware, Freud involved brain of hers and simply play. Simply fight. Fight herself. And believe, truly, that she could and should win.
That happened today. And for those of us who root for Ana not just for her forehand, or her smile, or her nationality, but because we genuinely believe her to be a nice and quality human being who is just doing her best to deal with the craziness around her, today gave us hope. Not that she's going to beat Elena Dementieva tomorrow, win Roland Garros, and reclaim her Top 10 ranking.
Just...hope. And sometimes, as both a player and a fan after almost 2 years of absolute shit, that's all you can ask for.
More on this later. I want some time to soak this in and backstroke through my thoughts.
But let me just say what I said via Twitter: Look, I know a lot of people don't like Ana. Therefore it would be really hard to understand what die-hard Ana fans have had to endure for the past two years. I'm sure that this being the internet and everything, everyone has an opinion and feels like they have a right to put it out there. And you're right. You do. But one of my mottos in life is "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should."
So I beseech you. We Ana fans (as opposed to "Wee Ana fans") are having a pretty good couple of days. We're on cloud nine. As ridiculous as that might seem to you, it's true. So let us have our ridiculous moment of happiness. We'll go back to sulking in a couple of days. I promise. But right now we just want to give each other hugs, high fives, and play "Sex on Fire" on loop and do the Snoopy dance. It would be nice if the internet didn't ruin that.
Ana won a match. She wasn't broken once. She served up a breadstick. She beat Vezzie, who curiously (or not) is ranked 26 spots higher than her. This is Ana's biggest win of the season.
So...that's some commentary right there.
But by all accounts, it sounds like she played really really well. What a relief.
I have often noted to friends that I think I live my life in a constant state of heartbreak. I listen to sad, depressing music a lot. I'm generally a melancholy person. And I often wonder why that is.
And then I catch myself honestly believing that Ana's totally going to beat Vika in the next round.
Clearly I do this to myself.
But whatever. AJDE!!!
IT WAS ICE CREAM!!!
So you're at a party, right? And one of your friends is like, "Hey, I want you meet a friend of mine. We go way back." So you meet her. She seems fun. You chat with her, just making small talk really, and the conversation is actually enjoyable. She's regaling you with crazy stories and she's a great storyteller. You're kind of envious of that.
As the months pass you see her around more often. In fact, she's slowly being integrated into your circle of friends. And if you were to be honest with yourself, you like having her around. Sure, she's kind of an attention hog and she says stuff sometimes that make you pause and scratch your head ("Did you know that spaghetti was actually invented by the Ethiopians in 84 B.C.?" or "You can *totally* tell if a guy is packing by the size of his left knee cap. Trust me.") but she's a good time. You can tolerate her brand of crazy because, well, you're usually too drunk to notice. All you really remember is that she was there and you laughed a lot. That's enough for you.
You had debated with your friends over dinner which bar to head to for a nightcap. You pushed for that casual wine bar down the street, knowing that you could probably get a nice large table, split some moderately priced wine, and sit and talk with your friends as Johnny Cash played in the background. A nice quiet night with friends, you thought. Adult.
She wasn't on board. She got her way. She always got her way. Annoyed, you caved.
That twinge of annoyance would open the floodgates in your mind as to how horrible a person she actually was. She dragged the group to the cheesiest club in town where the boys wore tight black v-neck Armani t-shirts (you know, because if it's Armani than it's not *just* a t-shirt) or pressed, untucked, striped button-up shirts (as if untucking the shirt would hide the fact that they no longer had the metabolism to burn off all those beer calories), and the girls wore what can only be described as a one-piece bandana. Despite your crinkled nose and roll of the eyes, you went in to the deafening sounds of bass and Fergie. Remixing does not a Black Eyed Pea save.
She's a complete mess. She's barking at the bartender to the point that you feel compelled to make eye contact with him to offer your silent shrugging apologies. As she tumbles away from the bar with some neon concoction, you sheepishly slip the bartender another $20, hoping that your small offering will clear your conscience and make amends with the cosmos.
A song comes on. She screams a blood-curling scream. She throws her purse in your direction because she's accurately identified you as that girl. You're the one who will patiently wait this out and hold her shit. She's right. And you curse her under your breath for that.
Hours pass. You're back at the bar, scream-talking with the bartender, reveling in the fact that you are the only two sane and sober people in the club. You pat yourself on the back for your earlier tithe. A small price to pay for the safety net being offered by your new tattooed friend. You scan the room to try and find her.
You check the bathroom, pushing your way past all the drunk girls, some leaning, some sobbing, all reeking of pathetic desperation, and call her name. Nothing. You walk outside. Nothing. You circle the club, peering into every dark and seedy corner, hoping (and not) that you find her. You shoot a confused look back to your tattooed bar minder. He shrugs and shakes his head.
You're over it. You're going home.
You rest your head against the bolster of the cab, chiding yourself for even being worried. She's an adult. Whatever. But you're worried. You're still worried as you slowly walk up your stairs and unlock the door. And you're still worried as you climb into bed to put an end to a pathetic night.
You wake up on your own accord in the morning and attempt to piece together your night. As it slowly comes together you hear a faint buzzing. You ignore it, thinking it's just the hum in your ears from being subjected to that godawful excuse for dance music from the night before. You hear it again.
Oh, fuck. Her phone.
You burst from your bed and scramble to find her purse. You curse it because it is her only real connection to you right now and it's the reason you stayed at that damn club until closing time.
Hello? Hey. Where are...uh huh. Ok. No, I was there. I stayed until closing time. I looked for you. Yes, all your stuff is still here. Well I'm supposed to meet someone for brunch and I can drop it off lat--... um, ok. Well I guess I can drop it off now. Ok.
You cancel your plans and head out the door. As rude as she was and as inconvenienced as you are, you're just anxious and excited to do the exchange and get her out of your life. You pull up to her apartment and head to her front door. With each step you wonder how someone can be this inconsiderate? This selfish? This impossible? This tactless? This unreasonable? This...dumb?
And that's when you meet her mother. And after she chides you for abandoning her daughter alone at a bar on a Saturday night, calls you irresponsible and unfeeling, tells you her daughter could have been raped or killed because of you, demands you hand over the purse so she can count the money left in the wallet, and slams the door in your face, you stand there stunned into silence.
And then you smile a wry grin.
The apple don't fall far from the tree.
She even went lefty for a few throws.
Rather adorably, at one point she told her throwing partners to go to the end of the court. She backed herself up on her side and chucked it as hard a she could. It went over the fence and about 40 feet out. As you can guess, she giggled uncontrollably.
There was a lot of giggling generally.
More after the jump.
Q. Last question for the new me: Your goals. I mean, once you reach No. 1, is it automatic, I have to be No. 1 again, or do you have other goals?
ANA IVANOVIC: No, my goals are actually to win a Slam. I was very fortunate I won a Grand Slam and became No. 1. I mean, it's great to be No. 1 because that's been my dream since I was a kid. But winning Grand Slam is something special. I think it's something people remember even more than just the position you have. So that's definitely my goal, and I know I have a potential to do it again. I just need to, yeah, to keep working hard.
If you play and exhibition and no one watches, was anything actually ever exhibited?
This is the existential question I am left with after watching this video of the exhibition in Miami involving Scary Spice, Jay Sean, Nole, and Ana. Congratulations, Miami organizers. You found, in Mel B, someone who is currently less relevant to tennis than Ana Ivanovic.
The kid just loves Indian Wells. There is no other tournament that brings out her smile as much as the desert. Of course, these pics were obviously taken before she became a Top 60 player. So, you know, grain of salt. In the wound.
Sigh. The things I do for Curtis. I could literally hear him spooging in my ear.
Wait, that came out wrong. Wait, so did that.
Pics of Ana at her Tennis Warehouse autograph signing.
I love how Kim always look like she just took a major bong rip. She's so boho.
Nice article from Pete on Ana. I thought it had some great quotes from both Ana and Heinz and I particularly loved this:
One morning, Gunthardt surprised Ana by asking her to start practice by hitting 40 serves. He stood by, watching and counting, as she slowly unlimbered and served ball after ball. After the 40th ball, he remarked, "Your ball toss, it's perfect every time."
The very next toss, Gunthardt said, went astray. He smiled at her. Point made.
So the primary mission for Gunthardt is teaching or showing Ivanovic how to un-think. That's a somewhat delicate assignment, but both coach and player are well-designed for it. Gunthardt has a logical, keen, perceptive mind; he knows how to challenge a player, intellectually, by playing devil's advocate. He knows as much about mental as physical stretching. Ivanovic has surprised him with her intellect. "She's much more well-rounded and astute than the other women I've dealt with recently," he told me. "She's certainly the first player who's quoted (Sigmund) Freud to me."
Of course, being smart won't get it done for Ivanovic, nor will being well-read. She faces a tough, obstacle-strewn road, but she's shown an impressive degree of patience with herself. That's not to be underestimated - a player at war with herself is useless.
Ivanovic says she's "very determined" to get back to the top; she smiled as she said that, but I was long past questioning her resolve or sincerity. "I still love the game," she added, "But the way I've been playing - well, it didn't make it very enjoyable."
It isn't exactly crying clown territory, but it's as close as someone with as sanguine a disposition as Ivanovic is apt to come.
I'm just happy to hear that she's still positive after the Fed Cup debacle. You go, girl.
Also, if you haven't yet, be sure to listen to the full audio of her press conference here.
The Billie Jean King Cup exo took place last night at Madison Square Garden in New York City. To be honest, this exo kind of snuck up on me. First of all, the promotion of the event paled in comparison to last year, where the ladies brought the laughs and tears. Granted I've been busy, but I literally had no idea the event was last night until it had started.
Now, admittedly, I only watched the last half of the final between Venus and Kim. You can't berate me for this because ESPN didn't bother to show the two "semifinal" matches. If anyone actually saw Ana or Sveta play, please fill us in on what you saw. Otherwise I will assume Sveta took Ana for some lunch and shopping, convinced her to grab a "quick bite" at Nobu, and they are, at this moment, still drunkenly rumbling through Manhattan.
To Venus and Kim's credit, they seemed to take the final seriously, just like Venus and Serena did last year. Despite having both legs heavily strapped, Venus eventually took it in 3 sets (pocketing $400,000 for a night's work (!!)), though it could have gone either way. Both players were tremendously streaky and I never got the sense that they were ever both playing well at the same time. So quite a few weeks for Venus, who won Dubai, Acapulco, and now this exo-thingamajig. Actually, if you think about it, that's over half a million bucks for 2 weeks and a day's work. Someone's going on an HSN shopping spree!
Unfortunately, to add insult to injury, JMac was in the commentary booth making a complete ass of himself, you know, as he's prone to do. With Nancy Kerrigan sitting courtside he decided to make a Tonya Harding joke, belittled Ana's participation ("there wasn't anyone else they could ask?", and talked about college basketball for most of the night.
Yeah, it was pretty awesome.
So did anyone in New York get a chance to go? Please tell me you saw things differently. I like to think I'm a hopeful person.
Ana finally hired a coach: Thank GOD.
Ana hired Heinz Gunthardt, former coach of one Ms. Stefanie Graf:
THANK THE GOD OF GODS!!!
I am excited. As anyone who has asked me for my thoughts on Ana's suckitude knows, I blame a lot of it on her forehand. In fact, I blame her forehand more than her serve sometimes. I haven't seen her hit through that shot in quite some time. Here's hoping Heinz can, at a minimum, get that shot back. Without it, kid as ZERO weapons.
The World Group Playoff draw is out:
WORLD GROUP I
Belgium vs. Estonia
Ukraine vs. Australia
Germany vs. France
Serbia vs. Slovak Republic
WORLD GROUP II
Spain vs. Poland
China vs. Sweden
Argentina vs. Canada
Japan vs. Slovenia
Those are some interesting ties in World Group I. The Bondos play host to Sam and Rennae, the Germans will host Cone & Co., and good Lord, Team JJ will host Dani and Domi.
I'm already nauseous.
She. Looks. Awesome. Even if she has no boobs or ass.
I'm drunk. How drunk, you ask? Let's just say I fell down putting on my pajamas and I put my shirt on backwards and I just ate a powdered donut.
With that...here we go....
Alona cares not for your "tactics", creepy dude.
No you have to enter her password. No seriously, this has to get done TODAY.
Ruh Roh. Someone raided the Bunny Ranch eyeliner stash.
Didn't she just have a kid, like 4 days from now?
Oh, Casey. Go buy some tissues from Target.
Uh...I don't know. That's a kangaroo. Seemed funny. Probably funnier if I was sober. Or less. I don't know. Huh?
ALIZE, GET THE FUCK OUT OF PEOPLE'S WAY!!! JESUS!
Someone got a new Toyota....
Kata! I haz a happee.
Whereabout is she???
Oh, Alex. Yelling only scares her more.
You'd think that was Cones. It's not. Hence the current state of Team France.
The first round of Fed Cup is over and after all the dust and thundersticks have settled we have the four teams we pretty much expected to advance.
Kudos to Team America for their surprisingly (at least to me) decisive win over France. Mels Bells clinched it in her opening match today over Julie Coin. Their reward?
Hosting Team Russia in the semifinals. On the, uh, broad shoulders of Sveta and Kleybs, Russia advanced after trouncing the dream (or nightmare, depending on your perspective) pairing of JJ and Ana in the decisive doubles match.
The day started with JJ engineering yet another three set come from behind victory over Sveta, only to see Ana crumble under the pressure of being a clincher. The kid came out nervous again, dropping to 0-4 in the first, before dropping the match 62 63.
Rough luck for Serbia, even rougher luck for Ana, who will surely have to endure some fun questions and commentary. But kudos to the Glitter Queen of Serbia, who put her money where her mouth was and pulled of a solid Fed Cup weekend. And her win over Sveta should give her some confidence.
If only that darned back would heal....
On the other side of the draw will be the Czech Republic at Italy. The Italians sealed their tie after both Flavia and Franny won their reverse singles to clinch 3-1. As for the Czechs, they had a surprise hero in Lucie Hradcka, who subbed in for a sick Lucie Safarova and beat Petkovic in singles, then teamed up with Kveta Peschke to win the decisive doubles match. It'll be a tough task to beat Italy in Italy on, I presume, clay.
"You see? *That* is how awesome I am."
After Ana somewhat expectedly lost in straights to Kuz 61 64, it was up to JJ to salvage some hope for the home team.
And as an aside, can we just talk a minute about the hilarious symbolism of the color of their respective kits? JJ's in mensal blood red with the Serbian shield emblazoned proudly across her Wonderbra boobs. Ana's in...white. Hee.
Ok, some people love the spotlight. And then there are some people who *love* the spotlight. And then there's JJ.
She dropped the first set 46 (after 7 straight breaks of serve apparently), then, down 1-4 in the second, she would not lose another game. She ran the table to win 46 64 60. I mean, all I can do right now is snicker.
So the teams go into the second day tied at 1-1. If one of the Serbs can pull out a win tomorrow we'll get Ana/JJ dubs!!! Which should be awesome regardless of the result. Here's hoping Ana gets some redemption tomorrow.
So here we go.
Notably absent: Uh...all of Russia, The "real" Belgians, The Williamses, The Golden Flowers, Sabine, and Gisela Dulko. And it still cracks me up that Mono isn't on France's team.
World Group I
Saturday - Play starts at 16:00 (15:00 GMT)
Ana Ivanovic (SRB) v Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS)
Jelena Jankovic (SRB) v Alisa Kleybanova (RUS)
Sunday - Play starts at 14:00 (13:00 GMT)
Jelena Jankovic (SRB) v Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS)
Ana Ivanovic (SRB) v Alisa Kleybanova (RUS)
Ana Ivanovic / Jelena Jankovic (SRB) v Vera Dushevina / Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS)
Ukraine vs. Italy
aka "Aw, hell no! I did *not* leave the South Side for this!"
Saturday - Play starts at 13:30 (11:30 GMT)
Alona Bondarenko (UKR) v Francesca Schiavone (ITA)
Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR) v Flavia Pennetta (ITA)
Sunday - Play starts at 13:00 (11:00 GMT)
Alona Bondarenko (UKR) v Flavia Pennetta (ITA)
Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR) v Francesca Schiavone (ITA)
Mariya Koryttseva / Viktoria Kutuzova (UKR) v Sara Errani / Roberta Vinci (ITA)
aka "Yeah, have fun, Cones..."
Saturday - Play starts at 13:30 (12:30 GMT)
Alize Cornet (FRA) v Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA)
Pauline Parmentier (FRA) v Melanie Oudin (USA)
Sunday - Play starts at 13:00 (12:00 GMT)
Alize Cornet (FRA) v Melanie Oudin (USA)
Pauline Parmentier (FRA) v Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA)
Stephanie Cohen-Aloro / Julie Coin (FRA) v Liezel Huber / Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA)
Saturday - Play starts at 13:00 (12:00 GMT)
Lucie Safarova (CZE) v Anna-Lena Groenefeld (GER)
Petra Kvitova (CZE) v Andrea Petkovic (GER)
Sunday - Play starts at 12:00 (11:00 GMT)
Lucie Safarova (CZE) v Andrea Petkovic (GER)
Petra Kvitova (CZE) v Anna-Lena Groenefeld (GER)
Lucie Hradecka/Kveta Peschke (CZE) v Kristina Barrois/Tatjana Malek (GER)
Marta Domachowska (POL) v Yanina Wickmayer (BEL)
Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) v Kirsten Flipkens (BEL)
Sunday - Play starts at 12:00 (11:00 GMT)
Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) v Yanina Wickmayer (BEL)
Marta Domachowska (POL) v Kirsten Flipkens (BEL)
Klaudia Jans / Alicja Rosolska (POL) v An-Sophie Mestach / Sofie Oyen (BEL)
Slovak Republic vs. China
aka "Why does Domi have to ruin everything?"
Saturday - Play starts at 14:00 (13:00 GMT)
Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) v Xinyun Han (CHN)
Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) v Shuai Zhang (CHN)
Sunday - Play starts at 13:00 (12:00 GMT)
Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) v Shuai Zhang (CHN)
Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) v Xinyun Han (CHN)
Dominika Cibulkova / Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) v Xinyun Han / Shuai Zhang (CHN)
Saturday - Play starts at 18:00 (07:30 GMT)
Samantha Stosur (AUS) v Maria-Jose Martinez Sanchez (ESP)
Casey Dellacqua (AUS) v Anabel Medina Garrigues (ESP)
Sunday - Play starts at 16:00 (05:30 GMT)
Samantha Stosur (AUS) v Anabel Medina Garrigues (ESP)
Casey Dellacqua (AUS) v Maria-Jose Martinez Sanchez (ESP)
Alicia Molik / Rennae Stubbs (AUS) v Nuria Llagostera Vives / Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP)
Saturday - Play starts at 12:00 (10:00 GMT)
Maret Ani (EST) v Maria Irigoyen (ARG)
Kaia Kanepi (EST) v Paula Ormachea (ARG)
Sunday - Play starts at 11:00 (09:00 GMT)
Kaia Kanepi (EST) v Maria Irigoyen (ARG)
Maret Ani (EST) v Paula Ormachea (ARG)
Maret Ani / Kaia Kanepi (EST) v Mailen Auroux / Aranza Salut (ARG)
From Neil Harman's Net Post:
Ana Ivanovic's second-round defeat to Gisella Dulko was greeted with the predictable moans, groans and worries about the Serbian's state of game and mind. What was not known - probably because she didn't want to make it seem like an excuse - was that she had torn a glute muscle and had only been able to practise properly for four hours in the ten days before the event. The next time, perhaps, the 22-year-old will decide that letting people know that she is not properly fit is not a sign of weakness and could help prevent far less harsh headlines than those she was forced to endure.
Sigh. Kid can't catch a break. It is remarkable to think she endured that horrible presser without revealing the injury. This sure does make Fed Cup more frazzletastic if you're a Serbia fan.
They've done a pretty good job with the Adilibria line. It's like wearable Stella McCartney stuff.
I tried doing this at the gym a few years ago.
I fell and banged my head on some nearby equipment.
So, you know, leave it to the pros, kids.
Another great piece on Ana by Matt Cronin. And I 100% agree with this:
However, we need to get one thing clear here: anyone who thinks that Ivanovic’s runs to the French Open title, or the Aussie Open final, or to the Wimbledon semis were a fluke, does not pay attention to women’s tennis. Yes, it can be argued that she might not have achieved No. 1 had Justine Henin not retired back in May of 2008, but the mentally toasted Henin wasn’t going to win that Roland Garros anyway, otherwise she would have played. The youthful and carefree Ivanovic that won the crown came back from a break down in third set in the semifinals to best her ultimate in-country rival Jelena Jankovic for the No. 1 ranking, and then beat the skirt off Dinara Safina in the final. Both those foes were playing standout ball at the time. Ivanovic could have folded at the tournament, but she didn’t, because deep down inside, she’s a tigress and she does the weapons to play with anyone when she’s in a good headspace.
However, she hasn’t been right since the 2008 US Open, which is two years and four months ago. She’s a smart and delightful person to be around, perhaps one of the most naturally intelligent players I’ve ever met, which is saying something given what great minds Steffi Graf, Martina Hingis and Sveta Kuznetsova have. Thinking is not her problem, playing without fear and trusting her shots is.
She needs to relax more and find a peaceful place she can go to when chaos rains down on court. I’m not convinced she’ll get there before she retires, but I’m not counting her out either.
For better and for worse, WORD.