Nikki V and Alize lose in straight sets in the first round of Prague and Palermo, disrespectfully. Granted Nikki lost to Alla, who occasionally has game, and Cone lost to Cheater, who is riding a wave of Cheat-tastic momentum. But still. Can we stick a fork in those two yet?
And FYI, despite reports from the Czech media that they broke up, Steps was in Prague watching Nikki crash and burn. You know, it's just like The Sex to be there in a young ingenue's desperate time of need. He's thoughtful that way.
Also, ALG upset Olivia in Palermo. Forza Flavia!
Singles - First Round
(3) Iveta Benesova (CZE) d. (WC) Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 67(5) 61 63
Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR) d. (5) Alona Bondarenko (UKR) 61 63
(Q) Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) d. (6) Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) 62 76(5)
(7) Lucie Hradecka (CZE) d. (Q) Ksenia Pervak (RUS) 63 62
(8) Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. Anna Lapushchenkova (RUS) 61 60
Kristina Barrois (GER) d. Ioana Raluca Olaru (ROU) 57 61 75
Monica Niculescu (ROU) d. Katie O'Brien (GBR) 63 62
Polona Hercog (SLO) d. Klara Zakopalova (CZE) 75 64
Stefanie Voegele (SUI) d. (Q) Petra Martic (CRO) 36 64 63
Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS) d. Nicole Vaidisova (CZE) 75 62
Karolina Sprem (CRO) d. Tatjana Malek (GER) 63 62
(WC) Zarina Diyas (KAZ) d. (Q) Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 64 61
Doubles - First Round
(1) Benesova/Zahlavova Strycova (CZE/CZE) d. Daniilidou/Woehr (GRE/GER)
(2) Bondarenko/Bondarenko (UKR/UKR) d. Kapshay/Pironkova (UKR/BUL)
Rybarikova/Voracova (SVK/CZE) d. O'Brien/Tatishvili (GBR/GEO) 64 64
Singles - First Round
(1) Flavia Pennetta (ITA) d. (Q) Arantxa Parra Santonja (ESP) 62 63
María José Martínez Sánchez (ESP) d. (3) Alizé Cornet (FRA) 62 62
(5) Sara Errani (ITA) d. Mariya Koryttseva (UKR) 64 64
(6) Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) d. Jill Craybas (USA) 63 61
Anna-Lena Groenefeld (GER) d. (8) Gisela Dulko (ARG) 64 61
Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) d. (WC) Nathalie Vierin (ITA) 63 62
Tathiana Garbin (ITA) d. Edina Gallovits (ROU) 64 75
Patricia Mayr (AUT) d. (Q) Olga Savchuk (UKR) 64 64
Nuria Llagostera Vives (ESP) d. Masa Zec Peskiric (SLO) 36 64 62
(Q) Arantxa Rus (NED) d. (WC) Anna Floris (ITA) 76(3) 64
Doubles - First Round
Begu/Marrero (ROU/ESP) d. (1) Groenefeld/Schnyder (GER/SUI) 64 46 119
Well, Nicole Vaidisova found some way to lose to clay court specialist Rossana de Los Rios, who, Ana fans will recall, Ana demolished in the first round last year. But more interesting than Nikki's loss are these tidbits from Kamakshi's Wimbly Live Blog:
Vaidisova lost in three sets to Rossana de Los Rios, who prefers clay and is one of the rare moms on the circuit.
Vaidisova was in the interview room for more than 15 minutes, but the Czechs said they couldn't get anything substantive from Vaidisova on her slump. Everyone is mystified by the talented 20-year-old's swoon during the past couple of seasons -- her only notable result has been the quarterfinals here last year.
I went out to Court 11 in the middle of the third set, and the match came down largely to whether Vaidisova was hitting her serves and forehands in.
She hit some beautiful forehands to save match points down 5-4 in the third set but missed two in a row to finally give De Los Rios the match. Clearly, she's struggling with rhythm and confidence, but the shots are still there.
Vaidisova will drop to about No. 130 in the rankings, which means she'll have to contend in wild cards and qualifying very soon.
Nikki in qualifying? Doesn't that presume that she even plays non-Slam tournaments anymore? When's the last time any of us even saw her on a drawsheet?
Thanks to Mrs. Saifn for the link.
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)
Let's start with Nikki. She won! But I cannot tell you how ridiculously infuriating this match was. Neither player was able to close out sets and in the third, Nikki went up 4-0 before letting Alla back into the match. Nikki would eventually take the third, 7-5. But her lack of game plan and Plan B was evident throughout the match. The girl simply cannot construct a point to save her life. She is a true ball-basher, crushing the third or fourth ball for either a winner or an error. But she's through and hopefully the rust is starting to fade.
Here are your scores:
5) Shahar Peer (ISR) d. Petra Cetkovska (CZE) 76(4) 62
(6) Nicole Vaidisova (CZE) d. Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS) 76(3) 46 75
Jill Craybas (USA) d. (WC) Kimiko Date Krumm (JPN) 64 63
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) d. Virginie Razzano (FRA) 16 62 63
Edina Gallovits (ROU) d. Klara Zakopalova (CZE) 36 62 75
Aravane Rezai (FRA) d. (WC) Eleni Daniilidou (GRE) 63 36 63
Here's the OOP for Day 2:
Centre Court - 11am start
Alberta Brianti(ITA) v Caroline Wozniacki(DEN)
Elena Dementieva(RUS) v Yung-Jan Chan(TPE)
Nuria Llagostera Vives(ESP) v Marina Erakovic(NZL)
Anne Keothavong(GBR) v Mirjana Lucic(CRO)
Not before 7:30pm
Kristina Barrois(GER) v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova(RUS)
Court 4 – 11am start
Carla Suarez Navarro(ESP) v Nathalie Dechy(FRA)
Ayumi Morita(JPN) v Marta Domachowska(POL)
Court 6 - 11am start
Elena Vesnina(RUS) v Aiko Nakamura(JPN)
The ASB Classic draws the ladies to Auckland on Monday with Lena and Ski Boots leading the field. Here's the draw.
Remember Nicole Vaidisova? Remember when she used to not be the disappointing result-less joke of a player that she is now? Yeah, I don't remember that either. Which is why it was nice to be reminded.
I'm pretty hard to Nikki V, I admit it. And a lot of it stems from the perception that she doesn't care about her drop in quality. Players would kill for a tenth of her firepower. But I liked the compare and contrast the Tennis.com article did with Nikki and JJ. The same could be said of Nikki and Ana, both 20 years old, both big hitters, both showing a lot of promise in the 2006 season. But ever since Ana beat Nikki in the Wimbly quarters in 2007, their careers have gone in opposite directions. The comforting thing to keep in mind is that they're both still young.
I'm not ready to write Nikki off yet. Let's' see what she does in 2009.
I agree with Diane over at Women Who Serve that Na Li might be the most dangerous floater these days. Her ranking just doesn't do her justice so she just goes into every tournament upsetting players for at least two rounds. In fact, I think you have to say that about both Na Li and Zheng Jie. The Chinese women just wreak havoc on the draw.
Na Li dispatched of the greatest young talent in all the world, Nikki V., 61 62. Not great for Nikki in her first tourney since the US Open. I just don't know what her deal is. Is she just content being a "journeywoman" tennis player and watching Radek all the time? She's strikes me as someone who gained such success without really "trying" early, and now, when things are hard, doesn't know how to deal or get out of it. That sucks because as much as I was giving Carlos Rodriguez crap, she really is a great talent. She's still young and maybe 2009 will be a fresh start for her. But for now, she's just a sorry player to follow.
Matt Cronin, has a nice article up over at Fox Sports on the possibility that JJ will finish the year as the World #1 having not won a slam. I know, put the baseball bat down and back away from the dead horse. The guy clearly is not a JJ fan.
But Cronin's article is great because he gets some choice quotage from Carlos Rodriguez, Justine Henin's coach. Dude has got some opinions and he ain't shy to share em.
It's not like the Argentine doesn't like the potential of some of the kids — it's just that they are so wildly inconsistent. Take Roland Garros champion Ana Ivanovic, who is just 5-5 since winning her first Slam crown in Paris. Sven Groenefeld, whom Rodriguez considers the best coach on tour today, coaches the Serbian, but the 20-year-old is struggling mightily.
"I think Ana can do big things, but she needs more maturity," Rodriguez said. "It's very difficult for a player to learn what to do when she's in trouble. Ivanovic is not able to have a Plan B or C to solve the situations, and she loses complete control. The coach can help with this, but in the end, it's up to the player to find for herself what possibilities will work. The coach can only help you to a certain point."
Rodriguez spent a little time this past summer working with former world No. 4 Anna Chakvetadze but couldn't make it work with the Russian, who has spiraled downward to No. 12. On the outside, Chakvetadze appears to have all the ingredients that Rodriguez would like: foot speed, soft hands, the ability to take the ball on the rise and smarts. But he couldn't get through to the 21-year-old.
"Anna seems like she wants to work, but I told her, at the end of the day, deep inside of you, you don't want to try to go further and to push yourself more to succeed," he said. "I cannot help you if you don't have the will to do something, even if I'm the best or worst coach in the world. She has the talent. But she's really confused as to what she needs to do to succeed to do to become a No. 1 or No. 2 player in the world. She's not ready to make the sacrifices it takes to go to the top, there's not question about it. A champion is one inside and outside the court, and when you take Anna outside the court, she's really a disaster."
So far so good. Can't argue with him any thing here. How long have Ana fans been complaining about her lack of a B game? Crash the net, Baby E. CRASH THE NET!
But then Carlos starts running his mouth and all of a sudden he starts losing credibility with me:
"That's the face of tennis today, with a player who is reaching No.1 without winning a Grand Slam," Henin's coach Carlos Rodriguez told FOXsports.com of Jankovic, who was 0-9 against Henin. "It's a sign. She's a good player, but when you see Maria Sharapova and the Williams sisters, they not only win Grand Slams, but they have the charisma. They give something extra, not only hitting balls. There's more behind them."
What are you smoking? Uh, JJ lacks many things (a serve for example) but charisma is SO. NOT. ONE OF THEM. The woman does the splits on court, smiles all the time, chats with the crowd, and wears BODY GLITTER for goodness sakes.
And then, he inexplicably picks Nicole Vaidisova as the young player with the most potential:
"She's amazing," Rodriguez said. "It comes back to the entourage she has around her. It's so important. When you are talking mental, these girls are very strong, but when you are talking emotional, it's very hard. The emotional takes over the mental and she completely loses the way. It's a pity. I hope someone can take care of her because she's charismatic and is a really good player, but her emotional (state) and the intelligence is not that good."
I'm starting to get the feeling that Carlos doesn't know what "charismatic" means.
UPDATED: Apparently I wasn't the only one who was perplexed by Carlos' use of "charismatic". Matt Cronin posted this over at Tennis Forums:
From the author:
Allow me to weigh on a few things:
1: Carlos only responded to questions about the players I asked him about, hence the admission of Dementieva, Safina and Kim. I only had a certain amount of time and we also discussed coaching philosophy for a magazine piece I’m doing so I couldn’t fit those folks in.
2: What he essentially means by charisma is that “extra special something” that player takes on court, not charm, which JJ obviously has loads of. JJ still needs to prove that she’s a big time player and she knows that.
3: Chakvetadze publicly spoke about Carlos plenty during the summer, not it’s not out of hand for him to be discussing her. As much as I like her game and think she is smart, thoughtful person, she is struggling emotionally, hence her poor results.
4. I don’t agree with his comments about Maria, but he’s said much the same in the past about players who do a fair amount of modeling, photo shoots, etc.
5. He likes Ivanovic’s potential a lot, but said she’s needs to mature and I’m sure that AI would say much the same.
6. He does not want to coach Nicole and I was stunned as some of you that he thought that she still has such great potential and I told him so. He wants to coach juniors now, not pros.
7: He never said Justine was certain to come back.
7. He admits that he is a tough coach and says that only resilient players like Henin can put up with him.
Got to go but will be back on Tuesday if you want to discuss more...
Another solid day for the top seeds with only a few surprises.
For the men, holy cow where did that come from? Querrey California destroyed Tomas Berdych, 63 61 62. Querrey served huge and crushed some wicked winners. Can we officially stop hoping that Tomas finds his form? This is getting ridiculous.
And in one of the most anticipated first round matches, Tommy Haas did what he does and took a seed to five sets in a Grand Slam. But this time, he won! To be fair to Reeshard, this was a horribly unfair first round matchup. Players of this caliber shouldn't meet until late in the first week or early second week. But seriously, what is up with him? Nicknamed "Baby Fed" when he first burst onto the scene early last year, he's now just become an absolute headcase. Too many tough losses this year, Murray at Wimbly, Rafa at
Cincy Toronto, you get the sense that it's all in his head now. It's a shame because he's such a beauty to watch when he plays well.
Other than Berdych and Reeshard, the men's side held true to form. Fed, Disco Tommy, Dr. Ivo, Andreev, PHM, Gonzo, and Tabasco are all through. Oddly, Nicholas Kiefer retired in down in the fourth set.
As for the ladies, the biggest shocker of the day probably was the fact that Nikki V. won. Easily. She beat Petra Cetkovska 61 62. But other than Dani H.'s straight set loss to former top 20er Anna Lena Groenefeld, the seeds held to form, with a minor upset of Fosters Dellaqua by Frenchie Julie Coin. So the notables into round two: Ana, Venus, Serena, Dinara, Agi, Momo, Szavay, Petrova, Cibulkova, and Cornet.
Overall the Ladies are looking good. My favorites are ReRe and Dani, though I have yet to see a nice clean shot of JJ's.
Jelena "Who's #1 Now?" Jankovic
Venus "But it goes to eleven" Williams
Dinara "I let my play do the talking" Safina
Elena "I'm Russian!!!" Dementieva
ESPN has done four features in this "Signature Shot" series, which analyzes different players' signature shots. I enjoyed all the features except for Nikki V's. She didn't tell me anything I didn't know. Blake, JJ, and Venus' features were all so interesting from a technical standpoint.
James Blake's Forehand
Jelena Jankovic's Backhand Down The Line
Venus Williams' Return of Serve
Nicole Vaidisova's Serve
I would love to see ESPN do features on Fed's one-handed backhand, Nadal's two-handed backhand, Nole's serve, Ana's inside-out forehand, and Maria's two-handed cross-court backhand, of course, Marat's racquet slams.
Let the US Open Series begin. Anyone want to set the line for how many top 20 withdrawals we'll see this year?
Here's the new commercial for 2008:
From Rafa's improved-but-still-broken-English and Ana's weird jazz hands, to Masha and Nole's curious absences (hmm...), it's pretty entertaining. Though I do have one question: In what way, shape, or form is Nicole Vaidisova still relevant?
Speaking of Rafa's broken English, here are the outtakes from last year's commercial:
My favorite part is Justine's snarky "That's my name. I remember that."