So there's this tournament coming up in a few days. As we're getting ready for our podcast session I've come to find that the FD Podcast team is pretty split as to the level of excitement for RG. Everyone has their totally justifiable reasons, which I have no doubt will come out on the podcast.
Personally, I love the Slams, so I'm really excited. But that doesn't mean I won't be watching most of the tournament peeking out from behind my hands. My feelings are pretty much represented by my Tune pics for the day: Some sad melancholy for those who won't be there, blustery excitement for the chaos that's about to reign down on us, preparation for disappointment and anger, but I'm ready to watch it with a good dose of humor and, as Jen Knapp sings, I'm ready to dive in.
But I wanted to open this up to you guys. What's the deal? Are people excited? Why? Are you dreading it? Why come? Are you completely disinterested? Why do read this blog then?
Chat it up in the comments. I'm really curious.
You know how all the talk at the beginning of the season was how 2010 was going to be awesome for the WTA because two of its big stars were coming back and they would add depth and intrigue to the game?
Yeah, fuck that shit.
Kim injured her foot over the weekend being all patriotic and shit. She's possibly out for six weeks, which makes her French Open campaign questionable. Justine broke her finger...uh...doing something. Let's just say it was tennis related and leave it at that. Because I rocked, what I thought was, a pretty hilarious fingering joke on Twitter and it went over like sand on ham. Though, it did elicit a "LOL" from Matt Cronin. What can I say? The Bay Area loves a good fingering joke. San Francisco values and whatnot.
Where was I?
Oh, right. Yeah, Kim and Justine are injured. At a minimum they'll both go into RG not 100%. It sucks. But Kim's taking it well.
Reactions from around the globe on Fed's GOATness.
Rafael Nadal, in a telephone interview with Spanish journalists: "Federer is the one who deserves it the most." Nadal said he did not watch the final -- "when I'm at home I don't
often watch matches" -- but said he planned to text his congratulations
to Federer. "Not now because he'll have 300 waiting for him."
Pete Sampras (now tied with Federer at 14 majors), speaking to ATPWorldTour.com: "I didn't think it would only take seven years to tie it. It feels like I'm in good company with Roger. If there was someone I would want to be tied with and maybe one day my record to be broken, I hoped it would be someone like Roger... now, I know it's a different sport, he might have his eyes on (Jack) Nicklaus' 18 Grand Slam record."
From The Onion:
I was at a BBQ on Saturday night and I was repeatedly asked "So, who won the French Open today?" To which, in my head I immediately responded "Seriously? That happened like 12 hours ago. If you're so curious, how have you not checked?" and "Oh god. You're asking to be polite. But do you really care that Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Dinara Safina 4 and 2?"
Answer: No. No they did not.
My other favorite exchange:
BBQ Eater: The French Open's right now?
Me: Yup. Finishing up. Wimbledon's in a couple of weeks.
BBQ Eater: Really?
BBQ Eater: That's really soon.
BBQ Eater: For whatever reason I thought Wimbledon was in September.
Me: Nope. The US Open is in September.
BBQ Eater: Really?
BBQ Eater: I thought that was in December.
Me: Have you ever watched the US Open?
BBQ Eater: A few times.
Me: Have you ever seen snow?
BBQ Eater: No.
BBQ Eater: Still, I could have sworn it was December.
Me: I think you're thinking of the Australian Open.
BBQ Eater: What's the Australian Open?
Me: I'm gonna get a cupcake. You want a cupcake?
And yes, I am that socially retarded at large events.
Interesting stuff from Pete Bodo on Sveta's rising from the ashes with a little help of the Jekyll and Hydes of tennis: Roger and Marat.
One of the people she said that to was her friend and confidant, Marat Safin. "I said, 'Marat,' I don't know, maybe I should not play. He said, 'Okay, are you crazy or what? You have unbelievable opportunities. You just have to play.'"
Kuznetsova says that was the worst period for her, and it lasted for most of last year. She really felt the urge to move back to Russia, to Moscow, a longing that panicked some of her acquaintances and advisers. "I had so many people telling me, you won't be able to play here (Moscow), you won't be able to train here, because it's too much information; it's too much destruction, too much night life, or whatever."
Kuznetsova lost in the first round at the Olympic Games in Beijing; given her deeply-felt and oft-expressed patriotism, it was a devastating blow. She lingered at the Olympics, and one day took a gaggle of Russian female basketball players to see the tennis. At the facility, they saw Roger Federer and appealed to Sveta to get Federer to pose for a picture with them.
Sveta rolled her eyes, just remembering the incident. "You know how I love Roger," she said, "and I never came to him myself to ask for a picture. But it's easier to do something like that for other people so I did go to him. And I was looking at him and he was looking at me and he said, 'What do you want?' "
When Sveta told him, he said, 'Sure, no problem,' and posed with the girls. He also had a 10-minute talk with Kuznetsova - the first conversation she'd ever had with the icon. She told him about the terrible time she was having making a decision about where to live, and she says he told her: "Look, it's up to you. You can only depend on yourself. You can control it. If you can live in Moscow and concentrate, do this. If you cannot. . . only you can judge, you know."
Kuznetsova's friendship with Marat introduces a strange element in this saga, and one that may seem not entirely fair to Dinara. But Kuznetsova sees no reason for Safina to feel threatened or uncomfortable about her closeness with Marat. "There are many, many more tournaments, and she (Dinara) works very hard, she will win it one day. But it's true, me and Marat, we're similar - we hang out a lot, we talk about serious stuff. We go to places - I don't even want to get into what kind of places. . .
"So maybe I am more like him than is Dinara, yet she looks unbelievable like him. She walks like him, her backhand is like Marat's, her hands. . . I don't think she has pressure because of him. She is No. 1 now and anyway I always say pressure is something that just you can put on yourself. So Marat and I, we still friends. He help me a lot last year, with agents and stuff. And he texted me after the match, 'Congratulations.'"
Sigh. I wonder what he texted to Dina. If anything at all. Speculative Sad Face.
Of course, it wouldn't be a Pete article if it didn't veer towards the uncomfortable:
But it was about her own downside that the new Roland Garros champion was most articulate when she sat before the world press, wearing a white sports jacket with some sort of sparkles embedded in the fabric, her streaked blonde hair still pulled back in that pony tail that may be the perfect symbol of her makeover. And that's a transformation that may be deep-reaching.
We don't like to put too much stock in appearances, but sometimes they tell us a great deal. And for long periods in the interim since Sveta won that first major in New York, she seemed oblivious to how she looked, to the point that she sometimes seemed disheveled, unprepared, unprofessional. This mattered because the carelessness and the lack of self-respect that it implied showed in her patchy, undisciplined game - and her results. And while the implications of all this may be discomfiting, it's undeniable that tennis players, especially top players, are generally very fastidious about their appearance and, if anything, overly conscious of style, grooming, and fashion. Their workplace, after all, is in the public eye.
This isn't the most comfortable issue for anyone, including Kuznetsova. When she was asked if it was true that she had no contract with Fila (whose garment she wears), she just replied, "No comment." How can you blame her? Wouldn't you feel a little hurt if you were, like Kuznetsova, a perennial Top 5 player, and nobody thought enough of your overall talent and appeal to offer you a contract
So Sveta took a shower, bought herself an Armani suit, put a little rouge on, and she won a Slam. I had no idea it was *that* easy. I guess the reason Dina lost is because she's been wearing the same ugly pink t-shirt everyday for the past year. If only Z knew that. That thing would have been burned a long time ago.
Also, Sveta doesn't have a sponsor? How'd I miss that one?
Since I haven't had my say yet, heartfelt congrats to Fed. I mean, I know I talk a lot of shit and whatever but really, if you actually pushed me on it, I mean about 1% of it. It's just tennis for goodness sakes.
And this was a great storyline. For Fed to capture his 14th Slam with the trophy that has eluded him so, yeah, good stuff. I personally don't like his game and I think he's put on this pedestal by fans and journos as being the epitomy of a sportsman, which I totes disagree with, and for the record I do think it matters that he didn't beat Rafa to do it (wasn't the knock on Fed always that he couldn't be GOAT if Rafa dominated him? Not that he didn't have the career Slam), but I know he's a nice dude and if there's one theme from this RG it's that Nice Dudes/Dudettes can come out on top. So cheers to Fed. I raise a cup of fair-trade organic coffee in a compostable cup to you. Because that's how I roll.
Oh, but while I'm at it? FUCK YOU ROBIN SODERLING! And I 99% mean that one.
On to grass!
Are you kidding me with this shit? Of all sports, tennis should have the most locked down courtside security and yet this is the second straight slam where we have an incident of some fucking idiot running out to the court and getting right up close to a top players. What the fuck? I say from now on all tournaments should have snipers on the roofs. Shoot to kill, I say.
Dude needs to have a talk with Marcellus Wallace:
Annnnnnd... it all ends here.
It says a lot about how much I like and respect The Kuz that seeing her not choke and eventually raise that trophy almost completely mitigates my absolute depression that Dina had to be the one to lose. Obviously the story will be about Dina and how crushing this loss was. More on that later.
But suffice it to say that Sveta deserved this. She put pressure on Dina from the first point and signaled that she was there to play. She yanked her all over the place and as the pressure of the moment mounted it was Sveta who remained calm and Dina who choked. God that hurts to write.
But I want to make sure that we all spend some time tipping our cap to the oft-forgotten Russian. She really has had to battle back from mental demons to get here. As much shit as I feel like Ana's had to endure over the past year for being a head casey one Slam wonder who has the talent but can't seem to get out of her own way, Kuz has been dealing with it for five years now, and her headcasey failures seem to have been even more high profile (at least to us tennis fans).
This one just felt sweet. It felt right. Even if it was at the expense of Dina.
So congrats to Sveta, 2009 Roland Garros Champion. May the sound of the hip hop you blare while nakedly running down the Champs Elysees be the rhythmic signal to all of your deserved return to the upper echelons of the WTA. I wonder if they'll let her drink a 2-Liter of Pepsi out of that thing.
Q. Just you and Dinara go back a long way. Can you just talk about when you first met her? You're the same age. SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Oh, yeah. This story goes way back. I was like 12 or 13, and Dinara was unbelievable girl. She's one year younger than me. I had no chance playing against her. I remember I lose to her 6‑1, 6‑Love or something, but it was no chance. I used to be girl from St. Petersburg, she was Moscow and her mom is huge coach who been coaching her. I mean, she was No. 1, No. 2, always great. I don't even know what number I had. But then I talk to her. I said, Dinara, do you remember something? She goes ‑‑ or whatever. We talk about it. She says, Yeah, I remember you coming with rock shirt, because I was big fan of the rock band, and with big bottle of Coke to the match. It's fun, you know. She tells me back then this is what she remembers.
Q. Just you and Dinara go back a long way. Can you just talk about when you first met her? You're the same age.
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Oh, yeah. This story goes way back. I was like 12 or 13, and Dinara was unbelievable girl. She's one year younger than me. I had no chance playing against her. I remember I lose to her 6‑1, 6‑Love or something, but it was no chance.
I used to be girl from St. Petersburg, she was Moscow and her mom is huge coach who been coaching her. I mean, she was No. 1, No. 2, always great. I don't even know what number I had.
But then I talk to her. I said, Dinara, do you remember something? She goes ‑‑ or whatever. We talk about it. She says, Yeah, I remember you coming with rock shirt, because I was big fan of the rock band, and with big bottle of Coke to the match.
It's fun, you know. She tells me back then this is what she remembers.
Oh yeah, there was a final today. Liezel Huber and Bob Bryan beat Vania King (?????) and Marcelo Melo to take the mixed doubles title.
Is there any more perfect way to end the clay season than with a French Open final between the two players who've shared the major clay titles?
Both of them have had amazing tournaments, dominating their first four rounds and coming through tough matches with harder opponents. I know a lot of people wanted the Serena/Dinara ultimate showdown, and that would have been a just finale in its own way, but for this part of the tennis season, this really has to be the best ending-- the year's two best clay court players battling it out for the biggest clay title of the year.
Q. It looks as if Gaël Monfils had some very warm words for you at the end of the match. Do you get the sense a lot of people are pulling for you this week, that they'd love to see you finally do it on Sunday?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I feel it since a few years now, to be honest with you. But this year even more extreme. When I walk on the streets or drive in the transportation or I go for dinner, everybody is like, This is your year. You've got todo it.
They're screaming from their scooters and out of the car. They even get out at the red lights and want me to sign an autograph or take a picture. It's quite incredible this last couple of weeks.I'm torn. On some level I want Roger to take it so that EVERYONE CAN STOP TALKING ABOUT IT. But something tells me even if he takes it EVERYONE WILL KEEP TALKING ABOUT IT.
Congrats to Elfie, who beat Tommy Boredo (sorry, I just can't watch the dude play) on his way to his first Slam semifinal. Quite an achievement for a dude who I still do a double take for whenever I see the #5 next to his name.
Q. What worries you with Federer? His game or what he represents?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Well, a bit of everything. With his game he does everything perfectly. His game is much of a problem to me, and this is why I never won when I played him.
Believe in yourself, goddammit!
Or don't. Whatever. You're pretty.
I seriously could not be happier for Sam Stosur. I've never thought of her as a clay court player, but like Maria, if there's a person out there who can't find something to admire in Sam's comeback from Lyme disease, I don't want to know about it.
Sveta, what? What?? How unexpected was that? I mean, obviously, Sveta has had the far superior clay season and is-- these days-- the superior clay player, but I always assume that once she's into the quarters of a Slam (assuming her opponent is not named V. Williams, J. Henin, or J. Jankovic), Serena has pretty much an automatic pass to the final. And since Sveta is such a nutcase, there didn't seem to be any reason to think today would be different.
Seriously. Much love for Andy and how classy he was in his presser. Kid just plain got beat by the better player that day. It's refreshing to see someone so candid and giving honest and heartfelt credit where credit is due.
Gonzo was just ridonk today.
Who’s your ideal mixed doubles partner?
Gael Monfils because I really enjoyed playing with him in last year’s Roland Garros.
-- Up Close and Personal with Dominika Cibulkova
See, this is why RG needs lights. Because, due to a lack of lights at Roland Garros, one of Kolya's matches got held over last week, which meant he missed his appointment at the British embassy to get a visa, which means maybe now he can't play Queen's.
Q. Maybe you need to play on grass. Are you looking forward to that?
NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: Yes, because first I need to make visit to England. I don't know if I reach there, you know, coming to the Wimbledon (laughing.)
But should be, yes, next week Queen's. We'll see if I can get visa.
Q. Talk about your visa. What's the problem?
NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: Problem what?
Q. The visa, were you serious about that, getting a visa for England?
NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: Yeah, just ‑‑ no, it's no problem. I try and make last week. I should be have appointment, but I played three days in a row. If you remember, I didn't finish my match and should have been next day play and I have appointment.
Yeah, I pass my time, and now the holiday in England Monday, and then, you know, try to do tomorrow. I know some players say I wait already 10 days hear about visa. And for me now I be in trouble.
If I go tomorrow, I should be receive my visa end of next week. I don't know what I can do. I should be play already Monday Queen's.
And for us, like Russian, it's really, you know, important to try to do faster. I don't know if I can do this week to do something.
Tsk. Why you gotta be hatin' like that, France? Still holding a grudge for that whole "Napoleonic Wars" thing?
Seriously, Maria, it has to be said. Well done. Well done. Would anyone ever have guessed that she'd make her comeback at a Slam on her least favourite surface after 10 months out and actually improve on her performance from last year? That's pretty fucking amazing, actually.
Court Philippe Chatrier 14:00
1. Women’s Singles – Qtr. Finals
Dinara Safina (RUS) v. Victoria Azarenka (BLR)
2. Men’s Singles – Qtr. Finals
Andy Murray (GBR) v. Fernando Gonzalez (CHI)
3. Mixed Doubles
Nathalie Dechy (FRA) v. Nadia Petrova (RUS)
Andy Ram (ISR) Max Mirnyi (BLR)
Court Suzanne Lenglen 14:00
1. Men’s Singles – Qtr. Finals
Robin Soderling (SWE) v. Nikolay Davydenko (RUS)
2. Women’s Singles – Qtr. Finals
Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) v. Maria Sharapova (RUS)
3. Women’s Doubles – Qtr. Finals
Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE) v. Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)
Shuai Peng (CHN) Urszula Radwanska (POL)
Court 1 11:00
1. Men’s Doubles – Qtr. Finals
Daniel Nestor (CAN) v. Igor Kunitsyn (RUS)
Nenad Zimonjic (SRB) Dmitry Tursunov (RUS)
2. Women’s Doubles – Qtr. Finals
Cara Black (ZIM) v. Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA)
Liezel Huber (USA) Nadia Petrova (RUS)
3. Men’s Doubles – Qtr. Finals
Marc Lopez (ESP) v. Bob Bryan (USA)
Tommy Robredo (ESP) Mike Bryan (USA)
4. Mixed Doubles
Anna-Lena Groenefeld (GER) v. Alisa Kleybanova (RUS)
Mark Knowles (BAH) Bruno Soares (BRA)
... that I totally stole this from gauloises. But it was so funny, and my crush so unexplained.
Q. You wrote something on the camera. Can you tell us what you wrote? It was pretty long and it was written with a doctor's writing, so we couldn't read what you said. We never know what you write because it's written upside down.
TOMMY ROBREDO: Well, I started writing a poem instead of signing, just to write something and to do something different. But nothing. Nothing special really. I wrote something like, One day I was a kid, or something like that. And at the end, I wrote, Ahahaha. I just wanted to write something different.
Hmmm. My crush doesn't exactly seem more rational after that. Nevertheless. Oh well. I'll just sit over here by myself.
How did Elf being a more than competent clay courter sneak up on me like this? Or was I just not paying attention? Of course, it doesn't hurt that he's 7 feet tall and, no matter what the surface, can just send shots down like bombs. Including serves. Maybe especially serves. During the bit of the match that was actually on TV, the broadcasters whipped out the "game clock" and timed JMDP winning a service game in under a minute. Uh, what? (And no, before you ask, it was not four aces. But it was at least two.)
What's that? Tommy Haas was up 2 sets to love on Roger Federer, with a break point to serve for the match in the third set?
So, yeah yeah yeah, there was a match between Kuzzy and Aga today, and it was really important because they'd both been playing well coming in and Aga's won 3 of their last 4 matches, and if either of them were going to move on, they both needed a good challenge from a strong player to really test where they are in their games.
Q. Can you talk about the coaching relationship, how that's going and what you're learning?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: It's going great. I enjoy working with Larisa, because she's not only my coach, she's my friend. This is great. For me, atmosphere in the team, it's means alot.
Now I have my hitting partner, which is 22, my massagist [sic] which is 24. So it's funny, you know. In some way I just start to think about it right now, and it's very funny. But I enjoy it so much. I cannot explain it.
Q. Why is that funny?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Because everybody is so young. We're like in school almost. A little bit grown school.
Q. Are you the school teacher or are you the student?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I'm medium. I'm in between. Larisa is the mama of us, kind of. No, she's not definitely mama. She's like my sister, but older sister which tells me what to do sometimes.
You know, fans can have goals for tournaments, too. It's not just for the athletes! So, my goal for this tournament, which came over me very suddenly this morning, is acceptance. That's right. No more will I allow the gloating fans, the crazy smack talk, or the turning up at Slams out of nowhere and destroying my favourites to bother me. Dude, I got other shit to do. I got books to read. So, feel the Serena love. I even watched the match! Well... as much of it as TTC showed. I guess a blowout is no fun no matter who's playing.