Gotta love JJ's answer.
It wouldn't be the end of the WTA season without one more chance to laugh at people for being completely incapable of dressing themselves. Some of them are getting distressingly (read: boringly) good at it, but you know there'll always be one WTFer in the group. Or two, or three.
WTAers tell you about their love (in Vania's case) or not (Jesus, calm the fuck down, Liezel) of video games:
Ana Ivanovic: "I never did until I was introduced to Guitar Hero, and I love it."
Vania King: "YES. I love video games. I play mostly RPGs, MMORPGs and action/adventure games."
Aleksandra Wozniak: "When I was little, my sister Dorota and I would play Nintendo for hours. Now I just travel around the world with a PSP!"
Katarina Srebotnik: "No, not at all. When I was younger I used to love them and I have to say I was pretty good because I couldn't stand the words GAME OVER on the screen! I played the games over and over again until I would go all the way or at least reach a very high score."
Dominika Cibulkova: "I do - I play tennis video games! I'm not very good at them though, everyone is always beating me..."
Caroline Wozniacki: "I do, with my brother. Race car games, singing star... it's a lot of fun!"
Cara Black: "I don't play video games."
Liezel Huber: "NO!"
Vera Zvonareva: "Not really. I used to play Super Mario and Tetris on Gameboy. I would play Tetris for such a long time..."
Elena Dementieva: "I don't play video games. My brother is a big fan of them though. I could never understand his passion for them!"
- We get it, Ana. You LOVE Guitar Hero. That answer is getting as canned as her pool story, through no fault of her own, really.
- I can totally see Bepa dominating on Tetris. I can also see her banging her head into the controller when she realized she flipped the "S" piece one too many times.
- I love that A-Woz's sister shares the same name as this piece of awesome.
- Domi was so that girl who pretended to suck at video games so guys would think she was cute. Or, you know. She would just suck. Dick.
- I would totally pull a Domi if I ever played video games with Caro's brother.
- Vania King rules. Even I had to look up MMORPGs.
I mean, at least she's now 3-12 for her career in YECs. So, yay!
But seriously, did she have to win today? Her win catapulted Venus into the semis, whereas a loss would have put countrywoman Lena D into the semis. Did Sveta take sides? Yeah, based on this quote, I'm thinking no:
“I asked Venus before the game, ‘Will you give me something if I win?”’ Kuznetsova said. “She was like, ‘If you win, it’s good for yourself.’ I say, ‘OK, whatever.”’
Come on, Venus. At least give her an Eleven sponsorship or something.
Good on Serena for proving me wrong and playing like the world #1 that she is. I wouldn't have faulted her for bailing on this match mentally, but she stayed quietly focused and deliberate with her play. I was intense and methodical. And when Serena is calm, intense, and methodical, she's scary good.
So Serena is the first to confirm her place in the semis. Elena, at 1-1, is still in the running. Serena also remains undefeated which might help her earn some extra cash (there's bonus money if you go undefeated).
I mean, I can't possibly think what she might need some cash for...
But Lena's win, coming back from a set down, wasn't as big a shock as Elena and the TTC commentators make it out to be. How many times this year have we seen Venus dominate an opening set, only to lose the next two? She did it against CSN at AO, Dina in Rome, K-Bond in Toronto, and Pavs in Beijing.
So Lena notches a big win for her in the tough Maroon group. She'll play Kuz next. Venus on the other hand will have to take out Serena, who just beat Sveta, to give her any shot of moving into the semis and defending her Championship points.
That's a lie. It's the latter.
You know, or not.
Second, I will punch you in the face.
Third, wear a push up bra if you want to get some heft in your chest, not a crooked bow.
First look at the mirror today, ReRe?
Looks like the girls did a number on you in your sleep during WTA Sleepover 09.
Word of advice? Never go to sleep before Sveta. Never.
So this pic pretty much sums up my impression of the Wimbledon Museum.
It was unintentionally hilarious.
Another gem, which, when you pull back, reveals a third bunny:
Random? Yes. Awesome? Absolutely.
The Champions display is right when you get to the bottom of the stairs. I saw this. I laughed quite hard. I may have said, "They have the fuckin' Sergeant Pepper jacket???" a little too loud. I really shouldn't drink before noon.
Not gonna lie. Wanted to smell them.
Yes, dude. That guy. To quote Brodie, "I would."
In a rather impossible feat, it looks even cheaper in person.
Billy Jean King and Rod Laver's racquets. Seemed like something I should geek out at.
Ashamed to admit I did not.
There was actually quite a bit of historical stuff about the evolution of lawn tennis. Here's my problem though: I actually kind of hate grass court tennis. So it was difficult to actually care. Also, the whole grass thing seems elitist and Victorian. As you all know, I am a woman of the people. It was hard not to roll my eyes at some of the displays.
I was very confused by this.
Donkeygrooming found this one. Shirtless Marat? Wimbly knows what's up.
And in the most random pairing of players on the wall....
All in all it was a fun to see the museum but I wouldn't pay separately to see the stuff that was there. If you book a tour then the museum admission is included. One thing that surprised me: How little was made of the GMOAT. I hope that's because they're trying to figure out how to best commemorate the match. It would have been really cool to see the grass/dirt stained shirt Rafa wore when he fell to the ground. Or even some video with commentary.
Then again, maybe that's not Wimbledon's style. It's clear from the tour and the museum that they want to focus on the full narrative of Wimbledon and not just singular moments.
I was in D.C. all weekend without any internet access. And let's just say I'm not entirely sad about that. Glad to see I missed the carnage:
Also, Rybarakova just beat Nads and Maria's on her way to bagel and 'sticking Sam. And we know how Sam feels about 'sticking. Not a fan, methinks.
So it's absolute Bedlam in Tokyo as the top seeds are falling left and right in the first two rounds (as of this post, JJ, A-Rad, and Caro still have to play their 2R matches).
[UPDATE: Caro retires down 05 to CanWoz. So the top 6 seeds are out after their first matches.]
I don't have much to say quite yet. I need some time to process it all. But I have a feeling Billy Shakes was a WTA fan back in the day:
She should have died hereafter ;
There would have been a time for such a word.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time ;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Ok, someone needs to ask that Competition kit to pee into a cup.
And get that thigh wrap tested, too. Apparently it has special upset powers.
Congrats to young Melanie Oudin for pulling off the upset of the tournament by coming back from a set down to take out USO Series champ and tourney semi-favorite Elena D, 57 64 63.
I mean, holy crap, you guys? Can we stick a nail through the "Elena will win a Slam eventually" idea once and for all? Credit to Oudin. Kid gritted her teeth through a thigh injury that brought her to tears on court. But Elena? Oudin has NO WEAPONS. She can't hit you off the court. Sure, she can kind of run things down, but she's not that mobile.
What the hell happened here? Can't wait to watch it when I get home.
Just a reminder. Sam and Elena are the US Open series champs. On the men's side, Muzz and DelPo finished second and third, respectively, and for the ladies Flavs and JJ finished second and third. All six are now in the running for bonus money depending on how well they do in NYC.
Let's see if they can cash in.
I've made my feelings for Lena known so I won't go through it all again. But congrats to her for seizing the opportunity to bag her third title of the year in Toronto by beating Masha. A serveless Masha is a breakable Masha, which will be her downfall at the USO. But not before she wreaks some havoc through the quarters. If she gets a favorable draw and the top seed fall early, she has a legitimate shot at the USO title.
And congrats to TMF, who withstood a challenge from Nole in the second set to take his first Masters title of the season in straight sets. I think Nole comes out of this tournament with some momentum, as he has to believe that he can beat Rafa in NYC and he can give Fed a run for his money. The question for me is whether he believes he can beat either of the Andys, which is going to be more of an issue considering he can't be in Rafa's half at the Open. But a run to the semis would do the kid some good.
As for Fed, he won, he was phenomenal, and in his two matches against Andy and Nole he didn't collapse when the pressure was on late in the second set. He looks confident and and calm and is playing with clarity. So that's AWESOME.
Ha. I had a conversation with a friend this morning and predicted Lena would win. As I am omniscient, Lena beat Serena in straight sets, 76 61.
Lena played a quality match. Served well on the big points, ran down a crap load of balls, and painted the lines when she needed to. She absolutely deserved the win. Serena was simply outplayed.
But I had to snicker when Cliffy said that his favorites for the Open are Serena, Venus, and Lena. Uh, first of all, no on Venus. That's just a stupid pick. Second, the knock of Lena isn't that she sucks. We all know she's a solid tennis player who has the technical skill to win a Slam. But she's a headcase. Sure she can outperform Serena at a non-Slam event. Serena didn't look like she cared at all.
But put both of these ladies back on center court in a Slam? Yeah, the only way Lena's winning a Slam is if someone even headcasier than she is is across the net. And considering she lost in at the USO to Kuz, I venture to say that there is no one more headcasey than Lena D.
Well, except for Dinara. But I digress.
That's not to say that Lena doesn't have a good chance in NYC. But in my opinion, she has no better a chance than Dinara or JJ. I guess if I had to give my "most likely to win" picks, I'd say Serena, Dina, Lena, and JJ. But I certainly wouldn't single out Lena as the best of the non-Williamses.
I don't know what happened this week but I have completely turned on Lena. I started the week calling her the Kolya of the WTA, a player who sneaks through, who I don't mind, and who I generally don't root against or for. They're just there. But now? I'm so over it. Her matches are hell to watch/follow and I don't even like her game that much. So yeah, you won. Feh.
You know what my problem with her is? She wins but it's never convincing. Very rarely do I ever say "wow, Elena was just the better player today." Her game just reeks of "whoa, you escaped one there" or the other player choked (which is saying something). But I very rarely think she wins because she simply took the match.
But we do have a potentially interesting set of matches for the weekend. We'll get a rematch tomorrow of the Wimbledon semi between Serena and Elena, and then a possible USO 08 final rematch between Serena and JJ. And to be honest, I'm pretty stoked for that.
So yeah, don't be stupid ladies. Bring your game and duke it out.
Ok, actually, once the rallies got going the quality of the tennis, for the most part, wasn't horrible. Some impressive shotmaking from Elena and some pretty awesome counterpunching from JJ.
Thankfully you followed Mama Vera's advice and brought a jacket. Because seriously, y'all, it was fucking COLD on Friday. And that's coming from someone who normally brags about a balmy 68 degrees.
If squint your eyes you can see San Francisco's penis in the background, a.k.a., Coit Tower. However, as Carrie and I recently learned, Coit Tower was actually erected (heh) for a chick.
Lena had a match point and, had she just gone up the line as opposed to cross court, she would have booked herself into the final. But she went for the easier cross-court shot, despite her post-match protestations that she prefers to go down the line:
Q. I don't know if you discussed the match point, but were you thinking about going down the line on the passing shot?
ELENA DEMENTIEVA: You know, I'm disappointed with the shot because I'm very surprised I didn't go down the line. Because, I mean, passing shot, this is my favorite shot to make. And, I mean, maybe it was too quick, so I didn't see she was moving to cover cross‑court, you know.
She was very close to the net. I mean, down the line or even lob would work. But, I mean, it's a game, you know. It was too quick.
That's what you call a choke, people. When the pressure's on you fall back on what you do well and you execute, not try and be cute and tricky.
But to Lena's credit she kept on fighting and she didn't go away. She made Serena earn this one. So all credit to her. And I think this was a great match for women's tennis. For all the people (including me) who didn't give Lena a chance in hell to make this a match, she did and scared the shit out of Serena and all the American commentators wetting themselves over WWII.
So a tip of the Yonex cap to you, Lena. Much respect.
Agi will play Venus next. Lena on the other hand looks well on her way to making her second straight Wimbly semis. She'll play the winner of Tranny/Gypsy.
Apparently this dress got Alla Kudrywhatever's stamp of approval because she folded like a lawn chair for Lena D. Which basically means that our favorite shit-talking-fashion correspondent is smoking crack.
Seriously, does Yonex even have designers? Do they even bother? Or did they just run to Victoria Secret and find the only nightie they could find a whiteish color and slap that on Lena? Yeesh.
Both of them. Out. Just like that. Freaky. Lena D's been riding a wave of mediocrity ever since she lost the Gaz de France final to Amelie; Novak seemed to have been picking up his pace of late. Never mind, the end result was the same:
Posted by C Note on May 29, 2009 in Agnes Szavay, Ana Ivanovic, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Andy Murray, David Ferrer, Dinara Safina, Elena Dementieva, Fernando Verdasco, Gilles Simon, Jelena Dokic, Maria Sharapova, Novak Djokovic, Pic This!, Roland Garros, Sorana Cirstea, The Mighty Fed, Victoria Azarenka | Permalink | Comments (18) | TrackBack (0)
That's Serena's new record against Klara Zakopalova for the '09 clay court season. So... there's that. I can't really say anything about anyone's level of play since I didn't watch very much of it, but I can say that Serena's knee wrap looked oddly high tech. Although I could be making that up in my head.
Posted by Carrie on May 26, 2009 in Aleksandra Wozniak, Caroline Wozniacki, Daniela Hantuchova, Elena Dementieva, Gael Monfils, Guest Blogger, James Blake, Jelena Dokic, Jelena Jankovic, Juan Martin del Potro, Marcos Baghdatis, Nicole Vaidisova, Novak Djokovic, Phillip Kohlschreiber, Roland Garros, Sania Mirza, Serena Williams, Svetlana Kuznetsova | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
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
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.
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.
Well Momo, you brought a lot of joie and smiles to the hearts and faces of many a tennis fan today. I dare say even Lena fans can't be all that mad at you. You fought it out, you weathered the storms, and in the end your talent overtook your headcasiness. Much deserved, woman. Welcome back to the top 20. This is her first title since 2007 and what a way to win it. Wins over JJ (#3), Lena (#4), and A-Rad (#10) on her way.
As for Lena, what was up with her weirdness today? She was acting way more exasperated and emotional than compare to her entire stint in Australia. Was the it the presence of Mama Vera? Was it her frustration because she thought this was an easily winnable match? I mean, you blew a 4-2 lead in the first set, had match set point in the tie-breaker, and after battling Amelie back in the second set, you still couldn't close it out. Lena just could not deal with the variety off Amelie's racquet. Heck, this might not have been as close a match if Momo didn't muff a bunch of easy backhand volleys.
Anyway, Lena will look for redemption in Dubai. Momo on the other hand has withdrawn. She would have had to hop on a plane and be prepared to play tomorrow.
It brings a smile to my face to see her into the semis of a Premier tournament. And she's not really scrapping her way through. By all accounts she's been fairly spectacular and the beautiful all court game is back. I mean, she just beat A-Rad 2 and 0. Jigga what?
But does she have enough to beat a semi-struggling JJ? Yet another three setter, this time against The Cone, who seriously should be considering some seppuku with the way her year has gone so far. She took the first set off JJ 75 and went on to drop the next two 64 64. That is rough. But maybe she took just enough out of JJ to even up the match with Momo tomorrow. Those Frenchies. Loyal to no one but each other. And even then, not so much.
Just a quick thought on JJ. Wasn't all that strength and conditioning work she did over the off-season supposed to amp up her game so that she wasn't playing these ridiculous three setters? Much like Rafa, she's such a grinder that she really needs to get off the court in the early rounds to save her body over the long haul. Tourneys like this one aren't good for her. Not that she cares. It's not like this is a European tournament.
The other semifinal will see BFFs together again. These two just can't get enough of each other. They've both been rolling through their draws but I'm going to give the edge to Lena. Why? Because she has the game to frustrate Serena and this isn't a Slam so she won't get all nervy and wuss out.
But we gonna see.
(1) Serena Williams (USA) d. (Q) Emilie Loit (FRA) 64 61
(2/WC) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) d. (5) Alizé Cornet (FRA) 57 64 64
(3) Elena Dementieva (RUS) d. (WC) Nathalie Dechy (FRA) 63 62
(8) Amélie Mauresmo (FRA) d. (4) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 62 60
It was a little touch and go there and Ana's still serving like crap, but she somehow came away with a 64 64 win over Ai to kick off Team Serbia's 2009 campaign to get into World Group I. JJ had a much easier go, beating Morumi 61 60. So Serbia is 2-0 and they'll kick off the reverse singles with JJ/Ai (rematch of AO) and then, if necessary, Ana/Morumi. At this point it wouldn't surprise me if Ana took the match just for the court time. Let's also hope that the girls stick it out for doubles in front of the home crowd.
The drama tie so far has to be Italy/France. Even though Italy has a 2-0 lead, it didn't come easily. Flavia came back from a set down to beat Momo 26 76(7) 64. Great win for Flavs. Maybe this will kick start her season. But sad face for Momo. She really should have taken this in straights.
SuperGirl returned and took her match in straights over Wickmayer, 76(2) 63. And Domi took out The Flipper, 76(4) 61. Looks like they're well on their way in advancing to play the winner of Germany/Switzerland. Dur. Nevermind.
The two split Day 1 but Day 2 should be the interesting one. Lisicki will play Patty and ALG will play Timea. You have to think ALG has the game to beat Timea easily, which means the Swiss hopes are all on Patty to beat Sabine. That should be a fun match, actually.
Petra Kvitova had a nice win over CSN, holding off a late comeback charge, 64 64. But perrenial midriff flaunter Iveta couldn't keep her lead, eventually losing to Llagostera Vives 16 61 64. Still, you have to think Spain has this one given their doubles prowess.
Shahar Peer is one of those players that always scares me in Fed Cup. Like she kicks it into a whole different gear when you slap that flag on her back. Must be the military training. Anyway, she kept Israel in the hunt by beating K Bond 63 67(6) 63. The winner of this tie will play Serbia (if Serbia wins).
From Pete Bodo's write-up of the Serena/Lena semifinal:
It's hard not to feel for 'Lena, but then it's legitimate to ask whether someone with such a glaring flaw really ought to win a Grand Slam event. Given Dementieva's results since last summer, we had reason to think that she'd hurdled that final, hitherto omnipresent obstacle to ultimate success - the conquest of her nerves, the state of which has always been telegraphed to us by her service proficiency. The message she tapped out yesterday told us that we were wrong. It just took a player of Williamses stature to tease out the message.
After the match, Serena was asked what she "did better" today than in her previous and sometimes uninspired performances. She replied: "Well, I definitely served better. It's so important to serve well against her. She's a really good returner. I moved better and I was definitely more consistent and I kept my cool. . ."
While all of that is true, Serena's greatest virtue may have been the last quality she cited. She kept her cool. It was apparent from the start that Dementieva was jacked-up and jumpy, probably convinced that she had to do too much, too quickly, in order to beat Serena. It was a predictable dynamic, and one that Serena routinely relies on in her matches. To a greater extent than any woman player in recent memory, Serena has imposed herself on the game. Great players of the past - Martina Navratilova immediately comes to mind - have been no less intimidating to play, but it's always been the direct result of their form and recent results. The girls knew they would get waxed, because Martina has waxed the last 123 player's she's met - why should today be any different?
But it's different with Serena. Her opponents quake in their tennis boots simply because of who she is, and the extent to which she's shown that each day is a new day. That's usually good news for the aspiring upset-maker, but Serena has turned the cliche upside down: On any day, there a good chance that Serena will just get a notion to go out and. . . destroy you. The WTA exists in a state of this perpetual fear.
On each new day you face a sum total of experience, talent, determination, and skill that is as absolute as it is unpredictable, and unrelated to the previous day. This can be, as they say, stress-inducing. Sit back to sniff the wind and try to get a read on how she's playing that day and you may quickly find yourself running for cover. Attack too eagerly and you get shot to rags. I wonder how many women players have been taught, or told: Now, it's really important to get a good start against Serena. Keep her off balance. She hasn't been playing that great, so if you can get a good jump you can take control of the match. . .
What really pleased me tonight was the quality of play in both matches. Let's start with the first semifinal. Serena and Lena came out a little nervy in the first few games, but by 4-all in their shoulders opened up and they really started hitting the ball and moving well. In the end the match was decided at the service line. Lena doublefaulted at key points in the match, and Serena was Serena, blasting serves and playing very contained tennis. It was a really mature match from Serena. This is her third straight Grand Slam final (and this woman's not #1 yet?).
It's a tough loss for Lena. She came in with a three match win streak against Serena (including the absolute spanking in Sydney just two week ago), undefeated for the year, and the in form player of the tournament. She had a really great chance to pick up her first major here. But high pressure situations reveal a player's strengths and flaws, and Lena's serve just sputtered a bit when she needed it most, allowing Serena to get offensive from the first strike and run Lena ragged.
All that being said, this was a great showcase for Serena. It wasn't impressive in a "holy crap she killed that ball" kind of way, but it was scary composed. And you get the feeling that she still has at least 2 more gears she could kick it in if needed. She's looking really good to make this odd year a Serena year.
And then there's Baby Sister, who finally stepped up her game and played a dominating match. All credit to Bepa, she somehow stayed in the match, aided by 41 UFEs off Dina's racquet. But those errors were more indicative of Dina's aggressiveness than Bepa's play. Dina was absolutely crushing the ball with purpose, moving poor Bepa around the court at will. Her shots were deep, heavy, and just punishing. Bepa couldn't handle the pace and left balls shorter and shorter, and Dina kept cracking. It was impressive.
BTW -- I'm just throwing this out there. Dina's having an awfully Ana 2007-08 run, no? Wins Berlin, loses the RG final, loses a bunch of weight in the off-season, and now into the AO final. Hopefully for her it ends better than Ana's AO.
So the winner will be the new #1. Could it be that order is slowly being restored in the WTA? I don't know what I'm going to do with myself if that's the case.
As expected, Lena continued her fine form, destroying CSN, 62 62 in the ridiculous Australian heat. It was apparently the hottest day in Australian Open history, and the ladies had to take the stage under the sun.
As for Lena, she's arguably the most in form player. Then again, she hasn't had a quality test yet. Her semifinal match against Serena will be something.
After the match, Lena was none too pleased about having to play in the record heat:
Q. They're closing the roof now. Do you think they should have closed it before your match?
ELENA DEMENTIEVA: Yes, for sure. I'm really surprised, you know, 'cause when you see the forecast, like it's going to be 41 today, 43 tomorrow, the hottest week in a month, why not to close the roof? Not only for the players, but for the spectators, as well.
Q. Is that the hottest you've ever played in?
ELENA DEMENTIEVA: I had some pretty hot days in Sydney playing last week, you know, last tournament.
But, I mean, I think if you have a roof, why not use it?
Q. Did anyone give you any explanation why it wasn't being closed?
ELENA DEMENTIEVA: Actually, I didn't want to go any discussion or arguing before the match. I was trying to get ready and focus. I mean, but, uhm, yeah, I don't know why.
Q. Do you or any of the other players you know understand the heat policy here, how it works?
ELENA DEMENTIEVA: Well, it looks like nobody really knows how it works here. I think when it's 40 and over you have to close the roof.
But saying that in our match was like 39 and a half, well, I don't know, when you're on the court it feels like 45 inside in the center court.
I don't really know how it works here.
Q. While it's difficult conditions, does it make you feel good that you've shown your hard work and physical condition has coped with these difficult weather conditions?
ELENA DEMENTIEVA: I think you can get ‑‑ you know, you can work so hard trying to get ready for the weather condition, but when you have to face 40 or 41, there is no way you can get used to it.
The best way is to play as quick as possible and just get away from the court. I mean, there is no way to adjust with the heat here.
Looks like the only person who'll be sending Craig Tiley a gift basket is A-Rod.