Here's the thing about doing predictions. I don't have a problem making predictions. I talk out of my ass all the time. What I do have a problem with is doing a shitload of work for nothing. I've been staring at this bracket for the past two days and while I've scribbled names in a crossed names out only to scribble them back in, it finally dawned on me: What's the point of doing an entire bracket prediction when it could all go to shit after Monday? I am many things, but above all, I am lazy. I don't like doing shit that doesn't matter.
So I'm not going do a bracket prediction. Everyone else has done one and they're all a hell of a lot smarter than me (and harder working, I might add). Besides, if you read this site I'm going to assume that you're a tennis fan who has his or her own opinions on matter. I'm not sure why you would care what I think. So I'm going to take it a day at a time, which is what I do anyway as both a tennis fan and non-recovering maybe-alcoholic, and just note the matches I'll be keeping my eye on and why.
So here's Monday's OOP:
The Rally For Relief was a huge success both on and off the court, much the surprise of no-one. On their way to ensuring that Ana will require testing for STDs, the exhibition raised $1.8 million dollars thanks to some very generous and very necessary corporate matching programs. That number will continue to rise over the fortnight, as players will be auctioning off gear, collections will be taken all over the grounds, and more events are surely planned.
People look at my quizzically whenever I tell them I'm a tennis fan. Apparently it seems like a really weird sport to follow with such passion and fervor. Whenever they ask me why I love it, I never say "Oh, I love the game, it's beautiful to watch" or "Rafa Nadal's forehand" or "I just really like the one-on-one competition." That's not to say those statements aren't true, it's just that they aren't the reasons that pop up immediately in my mind.
Nope, I love tennis because of the personalities. I have genuine love and respect for these people as human beings (yes, even Roger). Is that really creepy to say? They're just good people. Is there any other sport that can take the top players in the game, throw them onto a court with mics and a can of tennis balls, and have them, rather spontaneously, put on the tennis equivalent of a Harlem Globetotters show? Sure, basketball exos can be fun, but aren't those more about "Oh, shit, look at what sick skill Kobe has!" as opposed, "Look at Andy Roddick being stupid just because he knows it'll make us laugh."
All the things that I personally love about this sport were on full display on Laver today. It was an absolute pleasure.
The players were in full exhibition mode (well, most of them) and so long as you have Nole and A-Rod around, you know you're in for a good time.
The event started with a team competition with Rafter, Moose, A-Rod, Vika, and Bepa on one team, and Lleyton, Justine, Caro, Ana, and Nole on the other. Caro was a bit of a dud, as evidenced by the fact that Lleyton's kid cried the second she picked him up. Also her dress looked crap. Don't believe me? Ask Judy.
While Nole and A-Rod were the exo stalwarts, pulling out all their usual tricks (A-Rod mocking line judges, Nole doing everything except playing tennis) I think the emerging exo stars of the show were Moose and Ana.
Ana stole the show for the ladies, chatting and giggling into her mic and seemed totally game for all the flirting and innuendo jokes. Her "Novak, get behind me. Well, you know what I mean..." got the biggest guffaw from me. She's come a long way from being the dead silent one at exos (see her appearances at USO Kids Day if you don't know what I'm talking about).
But the point of the match basically involved Moose and Ana hitting to each and making sexy grunts for what felt like a good 5 minutes, and seriously, if you closed your eyes the only conclusion you could come to is that Ana should, in a few weeks, pee on a stick. Because girl, you pregnant with a vampire baby. Everyone needed a moist towelette after that one.
JUST GET NAKED AND DO IT!
Is that a true and genuine smile from my boyfriend?
It must be love.
Next up was Fed and Sam vs. Rafa and Kim. This one was a bit of a letdown after the laughs a minute riot of the first match. There were no antics, just some light, competitive hitting. The players weren't even mic'd up and no one really knows why. But the match was worth it for this and this alone:
If you could please allow me to clear my throat before I add any commentary...*cough*...
You a do your part and donate here.
(Pics: Getty, Reuters)
It took me about an hour to get to the site today, primarily because I had to wait for a tram that never came. I've been reassured that tram service will get better once the Open starts. Here's hoping.
But just as I dropped my stuff off in the media center an announcement came that Sam was doing press somewhere. That's an easy sell. So I grabbed my stuff and headed out, but instead of being escorted to the main press room, we were led outside to Grand Slam Oval, a virtual village full of entertainment stages, food halls, and general "I need to take a break from the tennis" goodness. At least it *will* be that. Today it just looked a deserted Smurf village. They sure do love that AO True Blue.
Sam was on-hand to "open" the ANZ 40 degree tent and do a short presser. In case you're not in Australia, you can thank ANZ for every single one of the gazillion Sam Stosur posters that are hanging all over Melbourne. The other night I was in Flinders Street Station and looked up to see 100 Sam Stosur banners. Heaven? Yes. Sympathy Stress? Absolutely.
Sam came out and "opened" the tent by smacking her racquet through a block of ice. I'm pretty sure she was just as amused about the relative absurdity of it all as me. Unfortunately it happened so fast and before I knew what she was doing she had done it [/thatswhatshesaid]. I'm sure there's video of it, though.
The ANZ tent is actually pretty dope. Not only is it CRAZY air conditioned to 17 degrees (let's see if that holds up over the course of the week), but there's a photo booth where you can get your picture taken to look like you're on court with Sam, and an interactive 3D Wall where you can serve against Sam and have a chance to win tickets to the Women's. Don't worry. I'm totally on that picture business. SOUVENIR.
Sam took some time to demonstrate the 3D wall and it was hilarity. Basically her 3D avatar kept telling her either she sucked ("My Nan can serve harder than that!") or that she had potential ("Keep that up and you might get a wildcard next year.") You can imagine how hard I was laughing while trying to maintain journalistic integritous composure.
Tried and failed.
(Pics: Forty Deuce)
Ana practiced this morning and then had another hit with someone who looked an awful lot like Bryden Klein. But after her practice, Dinara took the court with Dani, Petra, and Aga. But not before the Besties shared a hello.
Awwwww....Beluga and Elephant. No need to go to the zoo.
(Pics: Forty Deuce)
Q. Do you ever hang out with Anna Kournikova?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You're the guy from New Zealand, huh?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, God, you're stalking me (laughter).
Q. It's not stalking if you love someone.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It can be slightly, trust me.
This is why I don't ask questions in most press conferences. Because you know it would TOTALLY happen.
(Pic: Getty, Source: AO Site)
Ana debuted her new Adidas practice kit this afternoon and I'm a big fan. Love the white, green, pink, and black. Clean, crisp, and a bit future-punky. Also, it makes her look even thinner, if that's possible.
Yup. The abs are taped at the moment. Luckily she's not due to play until Tuesday, so she'll have an extra day to get that sucker into shape. I don't know, maybe Dragana can just kiss it and make it better. Something tells me she's got some crazy-ass Mr. Miyagi powers. Heal, woman, HEAL.
She was definitely hitting out on her shots and clocking the ball on both wings. But it seemed like the abs were most affecting her serve. If she went for it the ball was 5 feet long. If she pulled back it was a really attackable serve. Seems lack confidence in that shot at the moment.
I have to say though, after watching her with Greasy, I loved his positivity and encouragement (and yes, that's Leather sitting and taking pictures. Heh.) They talked quite a bit, every few points, and he's really smiley and encouraging. My favorite moment was after Ana missed a swing volley and stood there with her hands on hips in disbelief, smiling. Greasy: "I would rather you smile than get frustrated." I'm down with that advice.
Not sure Ana was though. She proceeded to miss another one and started doing shit like that. Much to my amusement.
Lots of net work, which was nice to see. Um...I won't tell you how successful it was.
Anyway, it was fun. That said, I have absolutely no idea how she'll come against Makarova.
Dragana matched the kit, though. That was my favorite thing, I think.
(Pics: Forty Deuce)
The only thing that could redeem the fact that I missed Heather Watson's awesome beatdown of the Impaler, which seriously I was super pissed about, was getting to talk one-on-one with my fave player numero uno (Sorry, Sam, but it's true), the one and only Baby Elephant, who is looking way more Adult Gazelle this year but I like my nickname better.
The event was supposed to have Jo and Fernando as well (adiAWKWARD), but the rain delays over the past few days in Melbourne meant that they were going to be playing at Kooyong that afternoon. So it was just Ana and the ADPD crew, which was A-OK with me. The event was the culmination of this week long promotion here Melbourne, asking fans to help find Ana's missing adizero shoes. The winner got to hand Ana the shoes and in a hilariously awkward moment, we all stood around as Ana put her new shoes on.
Ana legs! Oh, and the shoes.
Pics with the kids, who got to hit with Killer and Ana.
Once she got her shoes tied, it was on to media. Things I learned while waiting for my interview with AI. She and I hae the same camera. How do I know this? Leather was there (!) taking pictures of the whole thing like a fan (totally cute), and we were standing next to each other. So I casually (read: not casually at all), turned to her and said "Nice camera" and held up mine. "Oh, thanks. It's not mine, it's Ana's." I think it's super cute that after all these years, Ana insists on documenting all these little moments for herself.
Another hilarious moment: The WTA Tour video team was on hand and while Ana was interviewed, the camera guy stood about 3 feet from Leather and zoomed in on her. "Nooooo....don't do that," she said, laughing and smiling. I was probably laughing way more than I should have been, but Leather's JJ-like voice was just killing me. I am a LeatherKAD.
More media. I was at the event with tennis tweeter and blogger, Rishe, who was a recent Ana convert. She tried to call me out on the man-hands thing, saying that she just wasn't convinced I was on to anything. Let's just say Rishe is also a man-hands convert. That shit is real, yo.
Ok, so my interview.
I got about 3 minutes with Ana and we talked about Hopman Cup, her fitness, and her favorite tournaments. The interview was pretty much as expected. Ana was thoughtful, never broke eye contact, really listened to the questions, and was just lovely. She absolutely agreed with my very technical and savvy theory that she hurt her stomach because she was laughing too much with Nole.
On fitness, she said she did a lot of off-court work, pulling back on volume and working more on specific movements and exercises. Jumps and long-distance running. She feels faster and fitter (stomach notwithstanding) than she has in the past. They want to work on her upper body strength, but that will come later and she's really focusing on strengthening her base for now.
As I've had opportunities to have greater access to the players over the past year, I can say that it's always disappointing when you actually meet them and they kind of suck. There have definitely been players in the past who I wish I had never met, as it was so much easier to be a fan from a distance without seeing them be pricks and idiots in person.
But I can honestly say, I picked I good egg, with Ana. That is just a genuinely nice, grounded, pleasant human being. And really, it sucks to say this, that's a rare thing.
(Pics: Forty Deuce)
Nole and Rafa took to an open-roofed Laver to giggle their way through a light hit. Rafa had been practicing for quite some time before, I believe. I got lost trying to get back to the media center and I thought I saw him practicing on an indoor court an hour before this. Either it was him or there's some other player who likes to wear his bull hats.
Both were in a jolly mood. You could hear Novak and his team guffawing from outside the Arena. He was catching lobs in his pocket, hitting no-look backhands, and otherwise getting chatty with Rafa. Rafa meanwhile was taking volleys off the head and chest. Intentionally, I should probably add.
I can't wait to see what these two bring on Sunday. The Rally For Relief has already sold out. That crowd is in for a treat.
(Pics: Forty Deuce)
Would blog more but I have to run for the night to, once again, get my housing sitch sorted out. But just wanted to point out the really interesting finals on tap for tomorrow:
As for AO Qualie matches to watch:
Go get 'em, kids.
Holy hell. Haven't seen you in a while. Still cute, if not slightly chunkier than when I saw you last.
With the sun out, all the boys were hitting the practice courts. Why were they wearing shirts? I DO NOT KNOW. Even Mikey was wearing a shirt. MIKEY. But it was happening and there was nothing I could do about it.
Andy took to the courts for his second hit of the day. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure he played a match over at Kooyong later. Either that or he just REALLY loves his argyle kit.
From there it was over to see Rendy hitting with...
Even his thighs are emo.
But the highlight of my afternoon sausage tour was finally getting to see Grigor in person. Watch him for five minutes and you can just see the talent oozing out of him. He's also way taller than I thought he was. That is one big, tall, strong boy.
It was a pleasure, boys.
(Pics: Forty Deuce)
Right around noon today the Tennis Gods finally got the plumbing over Melbourne fixed and that famous Aussie sun broke through, transforming Melbourne Park from the dreary and grey slab of the last few days into the vibrantly blue tennis heaven that I had previously only seen on television. Let me tell you, this place sparkles when it isn't being cried on. It's enough to put the pep into any tennis fan's step.
So with the courts dried and players finally able to take the court, I grabbed my camera and did the requisite rounds.
First stop, Sabine! She won her first round qualifying match over Michaela Kraijcek 76 63, hitting 8 aces and 24 winners on the way. She can still clock that serve and forehand, though her movement is still (and may always be) an issue.
But it was a nice win for her and she was really pleased with herself after the match, throwing a jolly and heartfelt thank you to a few fans and congratulated her. I really like this kid. Super sweet.
Of course, while I was watching Sabine, I couldn't have but be distracted by a very familiar figure off in the distance...
Nice to see Aga back on court again after that stress fracture in her foot. She was practicing with Gisela.
It was just a light hit but hopefully Gisela (who does not wear a sports bra and I cannot understand why) was able to pick up some tips for her match against Caro. Probably not, but we can hope.
While Aga was practicing I couldn't help but giggle as a familiar figure sidled up beside me waiting to take the court. That's right, Mlad the Impaler was set to take the court next. She put her bag down and walked away for a few seconds, but unfortunately I was distracted by Bojangles and I missed my window of opportunity to fuck up her bag. Or at least give it a light kick or something.
When Mlad walked onto the court Aga asked her if she had the court next. Mlad said yes and Aga told her that she and Gisela would just play across if it was ok (hitting to each other cross court). Mlad hesitated, Aga just started serving, and Mlad finally said it was fine, though she didn't look happy about it. All this is to say, Aga RULEZ. You know who also rules? Heather Watson. She took out Mlad in the first round of qualifying in straight sets. Get it, Hev.
No sleep for the weary, huh Bojo? One day after losing in the Sydney semis, Bojo was back out on court hitting with Mlad. I would see her 3 hours later hitting with someone else on another practice court. Oh to have the energy of 19 year old legs.
Now, on to the boys...
Stage 1: Joy
HOLY SHIT, IT'S DRAW DAY! Time to settle in with a cup of coffee (possibly spiked, if you're me), flip on the computer, and soak in the awesomeness of yet another Slam.
Stage 2: Heartbreak
It's all fun and games until Dinara draws Kim in the first round, or Masha lands in Venus' quarter, or A-Rod draws Fed's quarter, or Moose gets plopped in Rafa's half. No matter what, draw day is fun until you realize that shit just got real and one of your favorite players is absolutely doomed.
Stage 3: Anger
Why would the Tennis Gods do this? Why would they, once again, strike down upon our favorite players a wrath of vengeance that makes you wonder if your cadre of favorites spends their evenings burning off the ears of blind puppies. That is the only logical explanation for their consistent bad luck. We're sure these draws are based on luck and probability, right? They're not rigged?
Fuck you, they're TOTALLY RIGGED, GODDAMIT.
Stage 4: Confusion
Wait...while I was freaking out about Masha it seems that I have lost all semblance of the draw. Who's playing who now? Who landed where? WHY AREN'T THESE THINGS ONLINE??? Twitter says one thing and then two seconds later it says another thing. Contradiction Capital of THE WORLD. I don't understand what's going on!!!! Fed's playing who now? Tomic? JJ? Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez in the final? WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!
Stage 5: Futility
Fuck it. I'll wait for the draw to come out.
Stage 6: Disappointment
Oh, the draw's out (men, women)!!! Wait...I STILL CAN'T READ THIS FUCKING THING. If they can release fuckin' "Decision Points" in large print editions, there's certainly no reason they need to use 9-point-.2-inch-spaced-magnifiying-glass-and-a-ruler-required-print. I need to find a printer.
Stafe 7: Acceptance
Ok, fine. I guess all that really did happen. Whatever. Is it Monday yet?
Jay-Z is officially out of the Australian Open, which means she'll probably plummet down to somewhere in the 50s rankings-wise.
On behalf of all overachieving short Asians around the globe: FUCK!
(Pic: Forty Deuce)
Doesn't this seem like so long ago?
On to February, the month of love...
Oh, you want more "news"? Um...she really likes Green Day. She's been tweeting about them all night. Oddly, Tennis Australia announced her withdrawal 9 minutes after her last Green Day tweet.
Of course, me being the idiot, my immediate thought was "Shit! Who's going to be the top seed???"
Sorry for the dis, Caro.
I'm going to Australia in January.
Hopman Cup, Sydney, Melbourne, Fed Cup.
I am excited.
I'm trying to do it on the cheap. So if you're in Australia and want someone to hang out for whom you can buy alchohol and food, let me know. I ain't getting paid for this. Just doing it because I have the time and, well, what's money for other than to do the things you want to do with your life. You don't get to keep it when you die.
Oh, what's that? It's for providing a roof over your head?
But seriously. HALP.
Aga's out for the next three months with foot surgery and will miss AO.
Put your Zippos in the air and wave 'em like you just don't care.
You don't know where that koala's been.
You did that for two and a half hours, Andy. You can stop now. Match is over.
Seriously, these guys come up with moves that make Bel Ami blush.
Sadness, Part I.
Sadness, Part II.
Sweet. Where's Mama?
I think it's adorable that Muzz gave Fed's a head's up that he was going to cry.
Perhaps it's because of the increased presence of social networking sites in tennis, or because my posts were particularly depressing, but I got a lot of questions from FD readers asking why/how I could be a fan of players who, at the moment, in a relative sense, suck. How can you stay a fan of Ana? Dina's never going to be good again, you shouldn't torture yourself. Or, the more surprising question that I got from a number of people: "Isn't it just easier to root for Fed/Serena/Justine? Why do you put yourself through it?"
I suppose these questions struck a chord because they simply made no sense to me. I couldn't really understand why someone would ask that. To me, being a sports fan isn't about just celebrating the wins. It's not about what's "easiest". Isn't that the definition of being a fair-weather fan? And aren't fair-weather fans...just repugnant? It's, like, the easiest type of sports fan to be. You didn't suffer through the shit-times like I did. How dare you stand next to me and celebrate as fervently as I am? You didn't earn that right and you can't appreciate what this means.
For me (and I don't mean this is how it should be for everyone) the joy in being a sports fan *is* the suffering. It is the heartbreak you experience over and over again, every season, every tournament, and yet *choose* to endure, and inexplicably come back for more. You want to know why I do it? Why, despite any rational reason to do so, I still wake up at odd hours to search for a stream of a first round Ana match knowing that odds are she will lose (and lose badly)?
Hope that it won't happen. Hope that maybe this year or this week, things will change. For all my jokes about being a cynical misanthrope, I'm actually, at my core, hopeful. My cynicism keeps me grounded, but hope is what gets me out of bed to watch Andy Murray disappoint a nation at 4am. And my hope reminds me, as I lie crumpled on the floor in the middle of my living room after Andy muffed that backhand volley for the break (true story), that this lowest of lows will be the highest of highs when he finally breaks through.
I mean, does anyone doubt that if Ana wins another Slam that Curtis will be the #1 most happiest person in the world? And would anyone argue that he would deserve it? I think back to when Elfie won the USO. Literally, my first thought after he won was of Gauloises of New Balls, Please, who was an Elf fan when it wasn't cool and who endured a lot of ribbing and disappointment for her die-hard love for that guy. When he finally won I could not have been happier for her. She deserved it.
All this is to say, keep the faith, tennis fans. There are so many questions about 99% of the field right now. And it would be very easy to abandon ship. I actually don't begrudge anyone who, in the interest of self-preservation, chooses to do so. That sounds pretty fucking rational, actually. But sticking it out has its privileges.
Q. How do you keep doing it year after year, Grand Slam after Grand Slam? You make it look so easy, and obviously it isn't.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, look, there's no secret behind it. You know, I mean, definitely a very talented player (laughter). I always knew I had something special, but I didn't know it was like, you know, that crazy.
63 64 76(11)
What to say, really, other than the fact that Roger was simply better in all aspects today. I prayed and hoped that Andy would come out with the aggressive, attacking game that he showed Rafa. Alas, we saw counterpunching Muzz. I guess he didn't learn the first time that you can't counterpunch Roger in a Slam. Hopefully he learns his lesson for the next time. Because, oh yes, there will be many many "next times".
This is not to say that Andy didn't haven't his chances. He had some chances to break in the first but Fed's serve was clutch today, getting him out of a lot of jams. Andy disappeared a bit in the second set but the third set was drama-filled. Andy actually served for it at 5-3 but he couldn't do it. He held on to force an awesomely tense tie-break that Fed won 13-11. Andy had 5 set points that he just couldn't convert. Bottom line, he just couldn't step up and take it when he needed to. I hate to say it, but he choked on a small handful of points that could have secured him the set. And I don't mean that as a slight to Fed. It's not like Fed won those points because Andy choked. He won them because he *didn't* choke. So, you know, congratulations and fuck you for that.
But what I will take away from this match is the hope that the Muzzard gained a few fans during this fortnight. If he didn't do it through his pretty spectacular play throughout these two weeks, he surely gained a few in his surprisngly heartfelt and emotional "loser" speech. The dude cried. Not blubbered. Just shed a few tears when he talked about being thankful for the support he's received. More importantly to me, he seemed to get really choked up when he started apologizing to the "people back home" for not being able to secure the title.
Then he threw down this gem:
"I can cry like Roger - it's just a shame I can't play like him."
It was a tremendously humanizing moment for Andy. A reluctant and very public acknowledgment that he *does* want to do this for Britain. That he feels the pressure to do this for the country. I always got the sense that Andy walled that off, that he didn't care really whether Britain had a drought or not. He was just doing this for him and his team. Clearly that's not the case and it makes his story a bit more tragic.
This article is hilarious. For all the right and wrong reasons:
Tennis is the only sport that is really all about sex. There is nothing new or controversial in this. As a popular sport tennis has its roots in hair-oiled country house flirtation, its rhythms perfectly suited to the honeyed repartee of romantic pursuit. You can tell it's all about sex because the English spend most of Wimbledon tittering and giggling. Plus it's the only professional sport where men's and women's competitions are unquestioningly bonded at the hip. A solely male grand slam would be deathly and, like an unrelentingly men-only Friday night in the pub, oddly pointless.
For Murray, this conjoinedness has expressed itself most recently in his winching into place alongside Laura Robson as a furnished and burnished and excessively giggly boy-girl public relations figurehead for the labouring juggernaut of British tennis. It has become standard at this point to say that Robson is "good for" Murray, a scenario that paints Murray as a seductively stifled all-court Mr Darcy, raw with unrelieved tension. There is something vaguely Jane Austen-ish about the pair of them together, jousting their way through another press conference, the courtly Mr Murray suddenly boyish beside free-spirited Ms Robson. And let's just say it right now. If you don't, on some level, want to see Murray and Robson one day get married and live in a big house in the country where they keep horses, then you're barely human.
Although, if this were ever going to work as an Austen-style narrative Murray would have to unsmilingly evade Robson's initial earnest advances, causing her to veer off tearfully and become infatuated with some mustachioed brute, perhaps the Bosnian world No 33, who would then string her along in dishonourable fashion while a narrow-eyed Murray hoovered up grand slams – but never, crucially, Wimbledon – before seeing the folly of his haughty ways, rescuing her from the brute, winning in SW19 after learning to love again/express his truest feelings and maybe appearing on celebrity Mr and Mrs with Vernon Kay.
Q. Have you got a thought on tomorrow night's match at all?
JUSTINE HENIN: I'll be flying at that time, so... Well, I'm sure it's going to be a great match. For me, maybe the two best players of the world at the moment. I don't know, Andy Murray is such a smart player. What he's doing on the court is just fantastic.
Roger, what can we say more than what he's doing? I mean, I have so much respect. I still think he's gonna win. But I hope and I'm sure it's going to be a great battle.
Q. Who's your winner [of the Men's final]?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Hmm? I always go for the underdog. But at the same time, I always root for the champion. But I like Andy 'cause he's really sweet. But I like Roger 'cause he's really nice. So I don't know.
Q. Perfectly clear now.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Exactly (laughter).
Q. You seemed so emotional at the end of the night. Did you consider climbing into the box?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, I did. If you saw me, I did a pull‑up, but my muscles freezed because there's no chance I could lift my weight in a pull‑up. There was no chance I would have made it up. I was like, Okay, that's a hopeless cause.
Q. Difference between Kim and Justine?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, hmm. I'm going to keep that to myself.
Q. Have you got any spare Super Bowl tickets?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, I do, but they're for sale. Hello. They're like $10,000. They're nice suite seats.
5th Australian Open Title (most in Open history), ties BJK for 12 Grand Slams, doubles and singles titles defended, ends at #1. Not a bad two weeks for the Queen of Scream.
Weird but entertaining match. The match started quite nervously for both. Serena faced break points on what seemed like every single serving game, but her clutch serving was able to get her out of trouble. In fact, it was her big serving that was able to stem the tide after Justine somewhat inexplicably ran off 5 straight games and 15 STRAIGHT POINTS to take the second set and the first game of the third. Once Serena was able to stop the bleeding she dialed in and Justine started missing again. The rest, as they say is history.
People will argue about Justine's, I mean, Carlos' game plan for a while (contemplating "Carline"). She seems hell bent on trying to stand toe to toe with the big hitters and play big babe tennis. She was so aggressive. Too aggressive if you ask me. She was gunning for winners when she had no business doing so. There was none of the finessed point construction that built her legacy. Because of that, this match didn't have that much rhythm. In fact, the streak that she went on was *because* she stopped missing and started grooving winners. All of a sudden they started going in. And they didn't. And so she lost.
But she seems hell-bent on sticking with it. She definitely never reverted to a Plan B. It was redline from start to finish. But it sure makes her less fun to watch. To the extent I ever had fun watching her in the first place. I guess Carlos has convinced her that this is the game she needs to play to win Wimbledon, so they might as well work on it now. We'll see.
A genuine congrats to Serena. As everyone knows, I'm not a fan, but she really flipped the switch in this match. Beware when Serena starts yelling at her fist. It's like Over The Top. Switch, flipped. After this pic was taken, Justine didn't win another game. So thanks, Serena for not letting my two hours of rooting for you go to waste. But that's over. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.
Here's her "G" moment. Yes, she mentioned Gatorade in her speech.
Robbie fought back in the second set to force a tiebreak, only to double fault on match point to lose 61 76(5) to Karolina Pliskova from the Czech Republic.
The fantastic Australian run by Robbie was halted by a girl with a leg tattoo. Not an ankle tat, mind you. A huge tat on the outside of her thigh.
Come on. You're not gonna beat that. But good on the kid. She's played a ridiculous number of matches in a span of a month (Hopman Cup singles and doubles, AO qualifying, Senior doubles, and junior singles) and she really made a name for herself. Ain't no shame in losing to a girl who's two years older. And has a leg tat. Did I mention that?
Unfortunately she won't be staying for the men's final tomorrow. I could have really done with some Robbie in Muzz's box shots. But she'll be back for the French and Wimbledon. Good Lord, Wimbledon. Good luck with that, Robbie.
For some reason, I loved this:
Q. Send [Andy] a little message before you leave?
LAURA ROBSON: No. Depends if I'm in a good mood or not.
In the interest of being fair and balanced, here we go:
1. Because he wears shoes.
2. Because his fans are awesome.
3. Because he destroyed the spirits of Igor Andreev, Nikolai Davydenko, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. And as we all know, those guys totally deserved it. What assholes.
4. Because he's such a nice guy that he doesn't even bother asking the ball kids to throw things away for him. He just throws them on the ground.
5. Because you don't mess with The Roger.
6. Because he always wears interesting clothes.
7. Because he's Swiss. And we know how much the Swiss need this to erase their really difficult past.
8. Because last time he lost he managed to make the entire ceremony about him. So maybe if he wins he'll let the other person have the spotlight.
9. Because whenever he wins he looks like he's been shot. I mean, that's pretty amusing for that split second before you actually realize what's happened.
10. Because if he wins there will be even more articles written about his greatness, and those are always really fun to read.
Look, I get it. Not many people like the kid. But for one day, you should put that aside and actively root for him. And if you won't do it for me, your loyal blogger who has stayed up until 7am to bring you the funnies, then you should do it for the following ten reasons:
1. Because if Muzz wins a Slam the British press WILL FINALLY SHUT UP about their stupid-ass drought.
2. Because he's ugly as fuck. I mean, seriously, he looks like a weasel with a bad toupee who's been hit in the mouth with a hockey puck. You can't hate on ugly people. It's not cool. Besides, ugly need love, too.
3. Because this sign exists.
4. Because according to Roger, this means more to Andy than it does to him. Shit, if Roger doesn't want it, why should we root for him to have it?
5. Because with Rafa out for four weeks, Nole puking all over the place, and Elf limp-wristed, we need someone to prevent the Fed cakewalk.
6. Because Muzzard still owes L-Rob a diamond and he clearly is trying to save up the money to do it. A winner's check would go a long way.
7. Because if Fed loses he won't cry. Not this time. Instead he'll stand there and seethe and pout like a little boy who didn't get what he wanted for Christmas as Muzzard raises the trophy. You know, like the classy sportsman that he is. And really, wouldn't that be more entertaining?
8. Because this guy is a Fed fan.
10. Because Jesus Christ! He has 15 fucking Slams already. What joy could you possibly gain from seeing him win one more. I mean, did I mention this guy?
Come on, y'all. For all the nerdy, awkward, shy, socially retarded kids in the world who get their one chance at glory against the smug, rich, nice head of hair'd assholes, root for Muzz. It'll make you a better person.
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.
I pretty much love this picture.
Much love to Venus and Serena for defending their doubles title by beating Bluber in straight sets. I'm not Serena's #1 fan but it always brings me joy when the Sisters win doubles titles, mainly because I must imagine it's an awesome feeling to do something like that with your sister.
The match was not without drama. Venus lost track of the score and actually didn't realize they had won:
Q. Venus, talk us through the last point or so, because it seemed that it was done and dusted and you were ready to go again.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I actually didn't know the score. I thought that it was 5‑2.
I really don't know how I lost track. So I was confused, but I guess that's just focus.
Q. What was going through your mind? Serena was happy...
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, yeah, I thought, She's really happy about this break. (Laughter.) I thought, Wow, I've never seen her this happy. But I'll go with it.
Q. Serena, were you stunned by the sort of lack of response you were getting back?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I thought, Okay, this is exciting. You know, we defended our title and she was like, What's going on? I'm like, The match is over. We're done now. It was funny.
Q. So you had no time to get nervous? What was your feeling?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. That's what I said. I was like, Serena, I guess it's easier to hold at 3‑2 instead of 4‑3. I thought it was breakpoint. I didn't know it was match ‑‑ I mean, I need to play all my matches like this without knowing the score. I think it would help.
COME ON ROBBIE!
Honestly, I'm not gonna spend more time or energy in crafting this post than Jo did in that match. Fed was en fuego, Jo was dumb (drop shots, dude?), couldn't find the court, and possibly a bit injured. It was a sad semifinal performance. The kid just couldn't even muster up the energy to care.
I'm over it. On to the final that I've been waiting two weeks for: Muzz vs. Fed. Based on form and experience, I definitely give Fed the edge. He's looking awfully comfortable out there and I still think his offense is better than Muzz's defense. That said, I won't be shocked if Andy wins. But I'll be surprised. And ELATED.