Solid results all around for the ladies today, though not without drama. Dina bageled Lucie in the first only to have to come from a break down in the third to get through. Agnes held her nerve against a gimpy Vika to come back and eventually convert one of the many match points she had in the third (she was up 5-0). Joining Agnes as a surprise quarterfinalist is A-Bond, who served up a bagel, weathered the Chakky storm in the second, and closed it out in the third, 63.
Singles - Third Round
(1) Dinara Safina (RUS) d. Lucie Safarova (CZE) 60 46 63
(4) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) d. (Q) Elena Vesnina (RUS) 62 62
Agnes Szavay (HUN) d. (7) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 46 62 62
(9) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) d. Alisa Kleybanova (RUS) 62 62
Alona Bondarenko (UKR) d. Anna Chakvetadze (RUS) 60 26 63
Doubles - Quarterfinals
(1) Black/Huber (ZIM/USA) d. (5) Llagostera Vives/Martinez Sanchez (ESP/ESP) 64 64
(3) Peschke/Raymond (CZE/USA) d. Hsieh/Husarova (TPE/SVK) 63 60
(4) Stosur/Stubbs (AUS/AUS) d. (7) Hantuchova/Sugiyama (SVK/JPN) 75 64
Chuang/Mirza (TPE/IND) d. Azarenka/Vesnina (BLR/RUS) 20 ret. (Azarenka: left knee injury)
Lena, Kuz, and Nads, 3 of 4 Russians in the top 10, go crashing out of Madrid today. Lena took the first set 61 from Amelie, then proceeded to "Pull a Lena" and lose the next two 64 62. Kuz meanwhile ran out of steam both physically and mentally, losing in straights to A Bond. I guess a letdown was inevitable, but come on. Alona? Bondarenko? She's not even the *good* Bondarenko.
Singles - Third Round
Amelie Mauresmo (FRA) d. (3) Elena Dementieva (RUS) 16 64 62
Patty Schnyder (SUI) d. (8) Nadia Petrova (RUS) 64 67(2) 76(5)
(Q) Vera Dushevina (RUS) d. Francesca Schiavone (ITA) 63 46 62
Singles - Second Round
(1) Dinara Safina (RUS) d. Li Na (CHN) 63 76(2)
Alona Bondarenko (UKR) d. (6) Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 63 62
(7) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) d. Peng Shuai (CHN) 64 61
Doubles - Second Round
Chuang/Mirza (TPE/IND) d. (2) Medina Garrigues/Ruano Pascual (ESP/ESP)
76(4) 46 107
(4) Stosur/Stubbs (AUS/AUS) d. King/Niculescu (USA/ROU) 60 62
(5) Llagostera Vives/Martinez Sanchez (ESP/ESP) d. (WC) Safina/Szavay (RUS/HUN) w/o (Safina: right knee injury)
(7) Hantuchova/Sugiyama (SVK/JPN) d. Bondarenko/Bondarenko (UKR/UKR)
06 62 101
I'm looking outside my window and I see pigs flying, hell has frozen over, Jesus is riding down from heaven on a pink unicorn, and Pete Bodo wrote this:
So that's what I got to thinking about, but let's make one of the most awkward transitions of all time and say that if you were looking for a role model today, and you were a girl, Dinara Safina wouldn't be a bad place to start. Seriously, let's stop for a moment to acknowledge that Safina has pulled off something that may represent more of an accomplishment than actually winning a Grand Slam event: she lifted her game right around this time last year, and she's kept it at that high level long enough to make it seem a quirk of fate that she hasn't won a major.
This is an especially relevant fact to ponder on a day when three of Safina's countrywomen (Svetlana Kuznetsova, Nadia Petrova, and Elena Dementieva) lost in Madrid, while Safina once again advanced, She beat Li Na, who went into the match with 13 wins over Top 10 players and a 2-1 edge in matches with Safina. In other words, with all kinds of excuses in place for Safina if she felt like mailing one in, or if she was feeling the pressure of her station.
I'll be the first to admit that I've been as critical as anyone of Safina emerging as the official no. 1 on the WTA Tour, and I still have a problem embracing a no. 1 who hasn't won a Grand Slam event. It doesn't help that I don't much like Safina's game. But let's face it: Safina has taken that mantle of no. 1 and worn it like she deserves it, like she's earned it. And here's something else: given a choice of ways to earn the no. 1 ranking, Safina herself might not have wanted to get it quite the way she did, because of the skepticism it would engender in people like me. But that's how it worked out.
So there's been significant, distracting pressure on Safina these past few weeks to prove that she's a worthy no. 1, and she might have crumbled under it in any number of ways (including just plain trying too hard). But Safina's responded to the call with great character and maturity. Her attitude has really made Jelena Jankovic's defense of her year-end no. 1 ranking look that much more feeble, although I'm open to the idea that Jelena's biggest sin as the new no.1 was training too hard - that is, wanting too much to be fit to defend her place in the new year. Can you say, "irony?"
Whatever the case, it's pretty clear that the level of play Safina first hit last year in Berlin has become her default level. Meanwhile, Jankovic must rebuild her game, one split and one insane running get at a time. But this spring probably belongs to Safina. Her standard of play over the past few months is such that she'll have every reason going into a Grand Slam even with all the confidence that consistently winning tournaments can give you. And in the end, even a Grand Slam is just a tournament.
I don't know what I dropped this morning, but it was some good fucking shit.
Dear Bryan Armen Graham:
I do not know who you are or what you do. But I am sending you a bushel full of awesomeness.
Even if you believe Serena Williams is "the real No. 1" on the women's tour, which she probably is, you've got to question the timing of her cocksure, matter-of-fact declaration on the eve of last week's Italian Open.
One week after Dinara Safina usurped an out-of-form Williams atop the WTA's computer rankings, the 10-time Grand Slam winner -- whose body of work should speak for itself -- made a tacky assertion of her dominance.
"We all know who the real No. 1 is," Williams told reporters in a not-so-thinly-veiled swipe at Safina. "Quite frankly, I'm the best in the world."
The comeuppance was swift. Serena lost her opening match to Patty Schnyder the very next day, while Safina worked through the draw and beat Svetlana Kuznetsova for her first title of 2009.
The plot thickened Monday at the Madrid Open when Williams retired from her first-round match against Francesca Schiavone after dropping the first set, citing a nagging knee injury.
Fans have always admired Serena for her defiance and competitiveness. She's not in the business of making friends nor should she be. But the language of tennis is performance, an area where she's been compromised by her fitness in recent weeks. Monday's retirement marked her fourth straight loss and ensured she'll enter the French Open winless this year on clay, a demanding surface conducive to longer points.
On the flip side of the spat is Safina, the younger sister of two-time major champion Marat Safin, whose career took flight a year ago with her victory over Elena Dementieva in the German Open final. That victory capped a magical week for the young Russian, who'd knocked off top-ranked and top-seeded Justine Henin in the third round (in the last match of her career) and snapped Serena's 17-match winning streak in the quarterfinals.
Safina has flourished since that Berlin breakthrough, finishing second at the French and Australian Opens and bagging Olympic silver in between. A four-time finalist this year, Safina is in the best shape of her life thanks to her work with fitness trainer Dejan Vojnovic. And while Safina's Grand Slam tally (zero) remains light years behind Serena's all-time haul -- the crux of her tormenter's argument -- the rankings simply don't take into account a player's accomplishments from several years ago.
Serena only adds to her pressures by taking swipes at a competitor like Safina, who handled the entire episode with grace and reaped the deserved rewards. If Williams can manage the burden of No. 2 as adroitly as Safina handled her first week at No. 1, Serena will be back atop the rankings in no time.
And Bingo was his name-o.
So the kid makes #1 and proceeds to make the finals of her first tourney as #1 and wins her second one, beating Venus on the way. Why does she even bother playing tennis? She sucks so hard. I mean, she's not even 1/10th the player that the real #1 is. I'm so amazingly embarrassed for her.
Stop smiling, Dinara. You shouldn't be wasting that champy. You should be sitting in a dark corner guzzling it straight from a bottle, cutting yourself and reminding yourself that you're a complete waste of space and an embarassment to not only women's tennis, but sports in general. Hell, you're a shitty human being, too.
Fuck. I can't even look at you. Go away.
Meanwhile, while Dina's competely embarssing herself by pretending to play like a #1 (seriously, stop trying, it makes it way more pathetic), how about some love for the Kuzzie resurgence? It's so awesome to see her playing well over the past few weeks. Second straight final of a Premier event, not to mention the semis of Miami. She was throughly outplayed today, but then again, she whooped Dina last week. She has to be considered in the mix for RG. Go Kuz!
Congrats to Sveta for her 64 63 win over Dina. Condolences to Dina, though she does have the locker room bragging rights of being the first #1 since Justine to make the final of her first tournament at #1 (thanks to FD statistician Carrie for that). So...glass have full!
Dina survived an awesome challenge from Flavia to make her first final as the world #1. Flavia looked like she had Dina, taking the first and leading 40-15 at 5-5 in the second set. She would miss an easy backhand and double fault to go to deuce, and Dina never looked back. She would reel off the next 8 games to take it, 36 75 60. Good on Dina for showing the grit and comeback spirit that started her whole resurgence a year ago in Berlin. Tough luck for Flavia.
In the other semi, Kuz absolutely blitzed Lena D. in a match that wasn't as close as the scoreline indicates. Kuz won 64 62 in a little over an hour.
While I would love to see Kuz breakthrough to FINALLY win a final, I have to root for Dina to back up her #1 ranking and take the title.
What the fuck-ever.
Dina gives some hilarious quote at her All Access interview in Stuttgart:
Oh, and to make matters awesome, the tournament presented her with a pink cake. So much win, tourney directors.
Stuttgart draw. This has the potential to be a cracker from the get go, depending on whether or not the ladies suffer from a Fed Cup hangover. That said, three of the four top seeds didn't play Fed Cup this weekend so they should be fine and rested. Almost everyone else in the draw did have Fed Cup duties so a lot of these matches will be tough to call.
I'm going to go out on a limb and put my money on Dina to take the title. She's rested, she's seemingly in a good mood, and she's back on the dirt that she loves so much.
In order to make sure the Fed Cuppers can get to Stuttgart and get a bit of rest, play won't start in earnest until Tuesday. But Viko and CSN are up tomorrow, and that could be a fun one.
And by that I mean, GO CSN!!!
Center Court (from 14.00hrs)
1. Parra Santonja vs. Sprem (Singles Q Final)
2. Pironkova vs. Marosi (Singles Q Final)
3. Petkovic vs. Schruff (Singles Q Final)
4. Suárez Navarro vs. Azarenka (NB 20.00hrs)
Court 1 (from 13.00hrs)
1. Dushevina vs. Brianti (Singles Q Final)
2. Borwell/Kops-Jones vs. Hsieh/Scheepers (NB 18.00hrs)
Let me check my watch. Ah yes, it took Petey 14 hours to reignite the WTA bashing. Awesome.
At first I thought Pete just did a "Find and Replace All" on an old JJ article. But I guess something about Dina taking over *really* chops his hide. This is what he said about then #1 JJ in October:
Given the way the fall has gone these past few years, it's refreshing to see that Jankovic is still kicking butt and taking names after having spent so much of 2008 in the first-class transit lounges of this world. You can be a cynic about this and put it down to greed (for prize money as well as ranking points), but as someone on Wall Street once said, "greed is good." It certainly is in tennis.
So let's give Jankovic a ton of credit as a model WTA citizen who gets it when it comes to the idea behind a world tour and an 11-month game culminating in a year-end playoffs. And you know what? Judging by her scheduling, you could easily conclude that the WTA is dominated by a chorus of "No we can't" divas who just may be pampered, highly paid, borderline lazy beneficiaries of a sport that's become an entitlement program for elite stars. Jankovic simply embarrasses the rest of the tour with her work ethic and willingness to seize opportunities to play -- isn't that what pro tennis players have always wanted?
And how about this in January:
And this again back in October:
By contrast, the WTA pros have been less faithful to the game. Even the otherwise exemplary Justine Henin at times chose to play hide-and-seek in the commitment department. I don't want to second guess anyone's reasons for taking a break, or start pointing a finger, but the bottom line is that Jelena has shown an enormous - and singular - amount of desire, drive, physical fitness, mental and emotional stamina, and heart. As a result, she's doing something that few WTA women in recent years have: pushing through a long, exhausting, difficult period with the simple intention of finishing no. 1 for the year.
I wrote recently that I didn't like a system that enabled a player who hasn't won a major in any given year to bag the YE no. 1 ranking (I did, however, stipulate that the system should not be designed specifically to prevent that from happening, on the odd occasion). Nobody in his right mind would blame a player for "playing too much" and reaping what rewards he or she could in the process. The irony is that some of those very same people who trashed Jankovic for playing so frequently are the first to protest when someone appears not to play enough.
Now maybe Pete deserves a free pass because he's giving credit to JJ for finishing the year at #1 and capping on Dina because she's playing like crap right now but still got to #1 mid-season. But do we really forget that there was a 3 month stretch there where it was pretty well acknowledged that Dina was playing #1 level tennis? That while Dina was busy making the finals of RG, finals of Olympics, and winning Tier 1 tournaments, Serena was either crashing out early or simply refusing to play at all?
I'm not saying the criticisms of the system are unwarranted. I'm a Dina fan and I'm still hiding under a towel today. But I just don't think you get to defend JJ yet pile on Dina and the WTA for the exact same issues. At least have the integrity to just say (as I do) that you just like one more than the other and that colors how you feel about each situation. But without any acknowlegement of that truth, any differential analysis is completely disingenuous and weak.
Pete Bodo's write up on the WTA storylines going into the clay season.
Apart from his need to remind everyone what a joke the WTA is compared to the ATP, it's hard to argue with his take on the players' prospects:
Madrid may be just the inducement Serena Williams needs to boost her interest clay, thereby protecting her chances to remain no. 1 and perhaps even open a little distance between herself and an odd crew that features not one but two women who have yet to win a Grand Slam events - Dinara Safina and Jelena Jankovic.But can Serena still be a force on clay? That's an interesting question that was raised in Melbourne and Miami, where she often looked both more powerful - and less mobile - than in the past.
It's hard to see Serena gettting "better" on clay, but remember that she's won Roland Garros, and took the Charleston title last year before shipping out to Europe - where she lost a very tight quarterfinal to Safina in Berlin, withdrew from Rome with an injury, and lost in the third round in Paris to Katarina Srebotnik. Discount her at your peril.
No. 2 Safina began her personal makeover last year at Berlin, where she beat three of the women who have remained major hurdles to her Grand Slam ambitions - Serena, Elena Dementieva and Victoria Azarenka. Safina will have many ranking points to defend starting in Berlin, and there's no telling how she'll react to the pressure. Last year, she frequently spoke about the way she's re-invented herself, but the failure to break through in a big way - with a major title - suggests that the makeover wasn't quite finished. Will it ever be?
Elena Dementieva is coming off a good year, and capable of doing a lot of damage on clay. She was a Roland Garros finalist in 2004, and could easily make a similar run there again. But she may be the most unpredictable player on either tour. It's funny, though, I never really get the feeling that Dementieva is choker (except, of course, when it comes to that serve - but that's a slightly different issue), or that she's an imposter at the top of the game. She doesn't really collapse. If anything, she seems to have a way of bringing out the best in her opponents - a talent I'm sure she'd rather not possess. I've always felt that she's sufficiently athletic and powerful to win a major. Maybe this will be her year.
Vera Zvonareva is in good shape to make a move, fueled by her recent victory at Indian Wells. She started like a house on fire on clay last year; she lost to Serena in the Charleston final and snatched the Prague title from Victoria Azarenka before she lost momentum. Zvonareva lost to Venus at Rome and Dementieva in Paris, but who's going to describe either of those as a bad loss?
My own feeling is that Ivanovic must find a way to, well, loosen up - in every sense of the word. She needs to re-discover the hard--hitting, free-swinging Ivanovic of a few years ago. It just seems to me that somewhere along the line Ivanovic came to believe that she needs to be Miss Perfect (at any number of levels), and maybe that stifled her game.
“It’s a great honor to reach the No. 1 ranking and it is a dream that every girl who has ever wanted to play professional tennis shares. It is even extra special for me since my brother Marat was able to reach the No. 1 ranking and I am happy to share this achievement with him. There’s no question that while I am very proud of my results over the past year, I would have liked to reach this achievement in a different manner. I hope to prove to everyone over the coming months that I merit the honor of being World No. 1.”
-- Dinara Safina, on becoming the new #1 on April 20th. It's just sad. I hope she's genuinely excited for herself and recognizes the achievement. But it was a good PR move to preempt all the haterade that's going to be thrown her way. Lessons learned from JJ, perhaps?
Thanks, Serena. Thanks for hobbling on a plane to Spain to play in a totally unnecessary tournament. Thanks for getting our hopes up that maybe your leg wasn't that bad and you could pick up some points here to retain your #1 ranking for a while.
And thanks for completely gutting us by losing in the first ground to Klara Zakopalova, 64 36 61, thus virtually guaranteeing that Dina will get the #1 ranking on April 20th, seven days before her 23rd birthday.
Yeah, that's some good shit.
Somewhere in Croatia, a 22 year old woman is is pretty much feeling like this:
Carrie, Forty Deuce's resident DinaraKAD, had the unfortunate privilege of watching Dina crash and burn in Miami this weekend. As a form of therapy she's put her thoughts on all things Dina into this piece, which she has so kindly agreed to share with you all. I've spent a few late nights drunkenly chatting with Carrie about our favorite Beluga and this State of Dinara address pretty much sums it up.
I would recommend you keep any sharp objects away from you while you read this. It may drive you into a deep depression (there's a reason why I usually end up drunk during these Dinara chats).
But chin up. You're definitely not as depresssed as Dina is.
When I was 22—just out of college and back in skating full-time—I had a day when I caught myself standing on the rink, hour 5 of an 8 hour training day, thinking, “Ohhhh my God. We are all reasonably intelligent people. Why do we spend all our time in this huge room with ice on the floor pretending to ourselves that Lutzes and twizzles actually matter??” I was shocked at myself, for the previous 15 years nothing else had mattered, and suddenly I realized that I’d spent my life doing this sport I no longer cared about and had nothing to show for it other than ugly feet and a lingering eating disorder. Even though I didn’t want to skate anymore, I didn’t know how to get out; it was my job, it was where most of my personal relationships were based, and the thought of the outside world was terrifying. Through school, I’d been in it enough to realize that I didn’t understand anything about it; the simplest things, even, for years people had taken care of life’s little details for me so as to free up as much time as possible for school and skating. The idea of cutting out skating and walking into a world I hadn’t lived in full-time since I was 7 was so frightening that it took me three years of slow baby steps to get there, and I only just now feel like I understand enough about the “real world” to actually operate in it.
When I look at Dinara Safina now, this is what I see, with the complicating factors of real fame, a family legend to live up to, and far less experience outside her sport than I had. Watching her play Sam Stosur on Sunday was like watching someone process exactly how much she dislikes her life and begin to understand how trapped she feels. When she came out for the match, she looked determined to do business. For the first game, returning against Sam, she looked ready to fight and play. For her first service game, she started out focused and ready; after 2-3 points, though, the quick decline started, she looked like she didn’t want to be there but couldn’t let herself tank. By 1-3 or 1-4 in the first, she was casting desperately miserable looks at her team and tears were pooling in her eyes; she repeatedly blinked and flicked them away, but she couldn’t stop them. It didn’t look like disappointment in poor play, it looked like sheer misery. By the first changeover in the second set, when she walked by her team and mouthed, “I fucking hate this,” the truth of that statement could not have been more obvious.
There have been many suggestions that Dinara Safina didn’t choose tennis for herself: a quote from her that “I had no choice but to become a tennis player, but I don’t mind being a tennis player”, a story from her mother about how Dinara wasn’t interested in playing tournaments as a child so they bribed her with toys. As a complete outsider, I’ve never gotten the sense that the Safins were crazy tennis parents of the ilk that can be found ‘round any corner at a junior tournament, only that they attempted to engage their children in the family business. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and when that road involves immersing your children in a sport to the exclusion of all other things (Dinara, at least, has never actually attended school, the ‘rents opting for private tutoring all her life instead), those children are going to have to be extraordinarily open-minded and resilient people to find their way in the outside world later in life. Combine the complete immersion with Dinara’s own drive to be the best at anything she does, and the legend of her brother to live up to, it’s only natural that she accepted the status quo in her life and worked as hard as she could to be the best she could be. When it started working last year, it must have seemed like finally, finally, everything she’d given up might have been worth it.
Since I don’t know Dinara, I can’t say for sure, but it definitely seems like since then something has snapped. Did she wake up one day, as I did, and realize that this isn’t what she wants anymore? Did something happen in her personal life that’s distracting her from being able to give her all to tennis like she used to? Her interviews have become increasingly reflective in a way that suggests she fully realizes the impact of the sacrifices she’s made, her demeanor has become increasingly unhappy, and her mood on court smacks not so much of frustration as desperation. Her statements that making friends is hard, that she had none growing up, that she’s increasingly aware that life will be difficult for her when she gets out of tennis, that she just wants to be “healthy and happy”, point to a young woman who’s become lost in her own life, wants something different but doesn’t know how to get it. Watching her on Sunday was achingly difficult, not just for me—a dedicated fan—but for the entire crowd who could read her mood as clear as day: unhappy, unsatisfied, lost, confused. By the end of the match, this crowd of strangers had given up on calling her “Dinara” or “Safina”, and started instead trying to encourage her with more familiar terms (“Dina”), terms of endearment (“It’s okay, honey.” “Come on, sweetie, you can do it.”).
To me, Dinara’s situation seems not unlike Justine Henin’s, despite the obvious differences in the two’s relationships with their families. But at some point in 2008, Justine came to the realization that winning more wasn’t going to make her happier, that she needed to make a big change in her life to be the person she wanted to be, and it led to her leaving tennis for good. After Dinara’s press conference on Sunday, in which she repeatedly said that she wanted to find the “will” to practice, to be “hungry” for tennis again, to be in the same place for two weeks just once, it seems to me that she may be facing the same dilemma. I would not be in the least surprised if Dinara discovered, in the four weeks between now and her next tournament, that being in the same place for two weeks is rather nice, that her will to practice can’t be what it was because as she’s grown older, tennis has grown less satisfying—not through lack of success, but because she craves a kind of life that simply isn't possible on tour, wants to know more about how the world works than how to get from the airport to the hotel to the courts.
Going through the motions in any job you don’t care about is painful, but for a professional athlete it’s different, and this is a point that gets overlooked repeatedly by the sports media. To have an office job you hate can be horrible (and I know, because after my foray into the “real world”, now I have one), but at some point you leave the office and go home, surrounded by familiar things and stability. To be a professional athlete is different; when you start to hate playing, you start to hate your whole life—the constant travel, the endless training, the neverending pains in your body, the restrictions on your lifestyle, the control exacted over your life by others, the lack of stable relationships, the never being in one place for more than 10 days, the suitcases, the media that accuse you of being undeserving of your place in the world. But it’s not so easy to just quit, especially when you’re as close to your life’s goals as Dinara Safina is, especially when you don’t know anything else in the world and aren’t prepared to do anything but be a professional athlete.
It’s not so hard to extrapolate that this is a rough patch for Dinara Safina, not just in terms of her tennis (a la Jelena Jankovic), but in terms of life in general. She seems down on herself, which is not so hard to believe when you look at how unhappy she is with her tennis, how unhappy she seems to be with her life. Added to that is the willful blindness being exercised by the sports media, whom she cannot possibly avoid, who are pointing to her as an example of Everything That’s Wrong with Women’s Tennis when in reality she’s more an example of Kids Stuck in Sports or even just Being 22. The crowd at her match on Sunday seemed intent not so much on willing her to win the match as willing her to be happy with herself, to realize that she has value as a person outside of her tennis talent, that she deserves to live a life that she enjoys. I may be reading too much into it, but right now Dinara Safina seems completely dissatisfied not just with her tennis, but with her life. And as her fan I’m pulling for her to find a way to be happy, inside or outside of tennis.
Top seeds went a tumbling today, and you know, it was actually more than that. Players that I like went a tumbling today. Seriously, no one was safe: Dinara, Ana, Vera, Flavia, and Nads. That's no fun.
But of course, the story of the day was the crash out of the BFFs which occurred within 30 seconds of each other. They were color coordinated, they were supposedly focused, and they're both booking flights to Europe and looking forward to the comforting smell and feel of the good ol red dirt.
So how to explain the somewhat surprising losses? Well if you believe the players, and in this case I don't see any reason not to given both of their habits of uncomfortable candor and honesty, it was all about burnout and lack of focus.
You know. Because if there's one thing Dinara needs its more punishment and additional reminders that she's stupid. Yup, that'll help. I hope the kid gets the R&R that she deserves. Some shopping and a spa day are in order. Preferably without Zeljko or Dejan in tow.
As for Baby E, it sounds like she got a little ahead of herself:
I didn't think I could love the kid more than I already do but if she really said "Jesus" she just went up a notch. That cracks me up.
Well the day wasn't a complete and total watch. I'm actually pretty stoked that Nails and Jay Z made it through, beting Bepa and The Cone, respectively. Other than Dina, Ana, and JJ, is there anyone else that's looking forward more to the return of clay that The Cone. Maybe the change in surface will reset her crap season. She got bageled by Jay Z in the second.
And how about the weird Domi Cibulkova, who's becomeing the Nole of the WTA? Last year she retires from cramping against Ai while down triple match point and today she retires at 5-5 in the third. I know it was a 3+ hour match but drink some liquids, woman.
 S Williams (USA) d  S Peng (CHN) 75 62
S Stosur (AUS) d  D Safina (RUS) 61 64
 E Dementieva (RUS) d  C Suarez Navarro (ESP) 62 62
 V Williams (USA) d A Groenefeld (GER) 75 63
N Li (CHN) d  V Zvonareva (RUS) 64 36 62
 A Szavay (HUN) d  A Ivanovic (SRB) 64 46 61
 S Kuznetsova (RUS) d N Vaidisova (CZE) 61 64
E Makarova (RUS) d  N Petrova (RUS) 75 61
 A Radwanska (POL) d  K Kanepi (EST) 64 63
 V Azarenka (BLR) d  A Chakvetadze (RUS) 61 64
 C Wozniacki (DEN) d  P Schnyder (SUI) 64 64
 A Medina Garrigues (ESP) d  D Cibulkova (SVK) 76(4) 16 55 - ret. (cramping)
 A Mauresmo (FRA) d  F Pennetta (ITA) 67(5) 62 62
 J Zheng (CHN) d  A Cornet (FRA) 64 60
 A Kleybanova (RUS) d [Q] A Yakimova (BLR) 63 36 64
 I Benesova (CZE) d G Dulko (ARG) 63 62
But no. Ana had to frickin' pull out her Sacrificial Virgin dress and Dina shoehorned herself into one of the dresses IMG told JJ not to wear last night, and this is what we have. Come on, BFFs. Get it together! Though, I do like the symbolic yin-yang thing they have going on.
Oh yeah, the awards:
Williams also received the award for 2002. She won the U.S. Open in September and ended last year ranked No. 1.
Dinara Safina was selected most improved player for 2008, and Zheng Jie was chosen comeback player of the year. Top-ranked Cara Black and Liezel Huber were chosen doubles team of the year for the second time.
Caroline Wozniacki was selected newcomer of the year. Ana Ivanovic was chosen humanitarian of the year for her work and contributions to UNICEF, and Elena Dementieva was honored with the Karen Krantzcke sportsmanship award.
Nothing too surprising, though the Lena as Sportswoman kinda raised my brow. I doubt she carried the American vote. Luckily for her, there aren't that many Americans. Would have still rather seen it go to Sveta though.
Yay for Zheng Jie! That's a rad win for her. Glad the Asian didn't go unnoticed. There's a first time for everything.
I bet you Dina and Ana are kind of in a tiff right now because Ana found out Dina voted for Elena. It's blood, man.
"But she beat you at the Olympics!"
"You beat me at French."
"Yeah, ok. Can I have your cookie?"
Oh, and before I forget, WTF is going on with Caro's boobs?
Girl needs to quit shopping in Vegas. Stop it. Also, stop listenting to Fernando when he tells you something would look good on you (also, I wouldn't leave my drink unattended around him, if you know what I mean). He's gross. You're a teenager. Be appropriate. Maybe that's why Dina's totally giving you the stinkeye.
Or maybe there's a piece of chocolate cake behind the camera. Who knows with her.
Nice, Z. Why don't you just thrust your balls into her face. Poor kid. Again, I'm really sad that she and Ana aren't actually BFF. This would be great slumber party fodder:
Also? Homegirl needs to start practicing in her sports bra. Baby Beluga belly needs some sun, yo.
Two awesome tidbits from On The Baseline:
Tennis and Basketball
A source in the Russian press told me on Friday that Dinara Safina has her sights set on a different kind of court next week. The Beijing silver medalist is looking forward to attending a NBA game during her stay in Miami. Safina won’t be the first Russian star to enjoy a Miami Heat game—other fans have included Anna Kournikova and Maria Sharapova.
A Need for Speed
If you think Ana Ivanovic is fast on court, try listening to her press conferences. The delightful Serbian is just as energetic off the court and can talk a mile a minute without pausing for breath.
I checked with Julie and Linda, the ladies who handle the interview transcribing for ASAP Sports, and they said their computers estimate that Ivanovic averages around 250-260 words per minute. I can’t even think that fast, let alone speak.
Can these two be BFF yet? Ana would be an amazing wingman for Dina's basketball adventures and Dina can teach Ana how to breathe. Win, win.
It's been discussed at length in the comments, but I'm posting it here because it's just too heartbreaking for words:
Q. You've play tennis all your life. You've been around tennis all
your life with your mom and all that and the club. Do you think you
missed out on anything outside of tennis?
DINARA SAFINA: I think so. You know, it's because we have no other life, you know. We don't know anything. You know, basically when we stop tennis we have to learn so many new things. It's not easy to learn by age 30 or what to do in your life. I think that's why many players keep playing, because they try to stop but they cannot find themself.
Because like this, you know, you're playing tennis, you have to go to practice, and suddenly you stop and you have so much time. You need to occupy that. I mean, it's great for some people who has a family then. You know, they take care of their kids.
But some of them, they don't have family. I think it's not an easy to finish the tennis and to decide what you want to do in your life.
Q. Have you found some other things outside of the court that really interest you that maybe some day you'll pursue more?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, in my case, you know, I have I would like to have a family, you know. This would be the first thing, you know. Because I really love kids, you know. This, in my case, I would try to find husband. (laughter.)
Q. That's the first thing, yeah.
DINARA SAFINA: Yeah, to have babies. So this is going to be the main thing. Well, and just grow them up and give all the love that I have to them. Beside tennis, I don't know. It also depends where I'm going to live, you know. I mean, for sure it's going to be something with tennis or with sport. Manager, I have to learn many things about this. But I would like to experiment myself.
You say you feel like you missed out on things, some things growing up.
What do you think you missed out on, and would you change it?
DINARA SAFINA: Basically, this, you know, to have like kids, you know, they go to school and they have so many friends, you know. I come to Moscow it's good now. I have two, three friends, but there was a moment there was nobody. You come home and you just you sit at home, and there's nothing else to do. So now I start to create friends, you know. It's not easy, because you can meet many fake people, and especially now when you're higher ranked, you know, so many friends are going to be there. Like friends, you know. So this kind of because when you grow up from school, then you know they're really friends. So I think this, just hang around and just play the games. These things I think I missed.
Q. Do you think you can have real friendships on the tennis tour? Do you find that some of them are also fake?
DINARA SAFINA: There is no friendship, you know. As I always say, we're colleagues. Of course we talk to each other, but for sure you cannot say to the girl how you feel, you know, that something is bothering you. Maybe today you woke up on the wrong foot. I don't know, maybe somebody maybe a phone call. I mean, I had in Australia before the match and they told me my grandfather died. To whom can I go and cry except my team? My brother I can go, but if I tell to one of the players, what's she going to go and talk to the opponent, you know, she's feeling bad. Her grandfather just died. So these things are tough, you know. But like this you always can call on the phone, call and to say like and to cry on your calls.
Q. That was your mother's father or father's father?
DINARA SAFINA: My father's father.
Q. Were you close to him?
DINARA SAFINA: I mean, yeah, very close, you know. It's it was they didn't told me, actually, and it was strange. I was sitting at the table, and suddenly my manager comes and says, you know, I'm sorry, your grandfather died. It was already like two weeks ago and I had no idea because my parents didn't want me because I was playing the tournament. I really was shocked. Then I called my parents and I was like, Is it true? Because it was like in the relaxing way. And they said, Yeah, it happened, you know. I was glad that I just saw him before I left Australia.
Because when I came from off season, I was like, Well, I want to see my grandfather. And it's like I guess at least I saw him, and...
Q. So your manager said that just before the final or...
DINARA SAFINA: No, it was before my match against Kanepi.
Q. That must have been difficult to bring that all the way through, huh? You still managed to win?
DINARA SAFINA: But then you just I mean, he was 90 years old, so it was already you start to feel like, okay, one day it can come, you know. You always wish they can live forever, everybody.
Then I just said, Okay, I try to win this match for him. Actually, I wanted to win the tournament for him. Pity I lost in the final.
Q. What did he do for a job, your grandfather?
DINARA SAFINA: He was in the World War, actually. And after that, I mean, it's when I started to grow up, he was already retired. So he didn't do anything, you know. But he was just so much into the tennis, you know. My grandmother, his wife, passed away, and he was really down. My mom said like once, Just live for the grandkids, you know. They still need you. It was in the great moment that my brother started to play good. Suddenly he went so much into the tennis, and whenever I would go, he was like, Work hard, come on everything. It was like it was really amazing support that he was giving. I mean, by the age 90, he would still like be so much. He would call my father and ask, What's going on? Why's he losing? My mom is like, No problem. Everything okay. He was really like so into it.
Because your brother was so popular and famous as you were growing up,
was that added pressure for you to succeed, or was it an asset for you
that you had that brother, or can you comment on that?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, let's say in my case, you know, I was I always wanted to become something myself. So for me, of course, it was a pressure, you know. Brother is playing great. You know, I walk around and the people like, Oh, you're little sister of Marat, and I didn't have the result. It was some kind of pressure. I always feel like I want to do something better, and I feel like I can be better than I am at that time, you know, than I was. And for me, I would say it was pressure, because I was really pushing myself to do every time better.
How much stronger do you think you became growing up by the fact that
everything was on tennis, you had to work for tennis, you had to get up
and practice, and there wasn't the friends growing up and regular
school and all that? Has that in one sense made you very strong, very
DINARA SAFINA: Strong? From other hand, you know, when you enjoy more life, it gets easier. Maybe if I had friends, I would hang around more, and I would not be so disappointing every time I would lose a match, because like this you give 100%. I mean, I was giving everything what I have, and I'm still giving everything what I have into the tennis. So like this is more disappointing. You lose, and you're like, God, like I give everything and I'm losing, and this was like hurting me. I don't know. It's two points. From other hand if I had other life, I would enjoy more and maybe I would take the loses easier. But this always keeping me, pushing always harder. So I don't know.