Sabine was up 5-2 in the third set over Bepa. She was absolutely crushing the ball, showing everyone why I call her Boom Boom. Back in 2009, Sabine was always my favorite of the Caro, Vika, Sorana, Aga crew of new talent. She was super nice, German, and had the big serve and forehand that I love. She made her great run at Wimbledon (bumping Caro along the way) and it looked like things were on the up and up for young German. Then she sustained that horrible ankle injury at the US Open and she's been fighting to get herself back ever since. It's been a tough process to watch but her attitude throughtout has been admirable. The kid was plugging away and this year we started to see the results.
So at 5-2 up, it looked like Sabine was ready to score her first big scalp since coming back. Remember this is a kid who beat Venus, Kuz, and Caro before she had injury problems. A win over Bepa would be huge.
And then her body gave out on her. She started cramping and from there, despite her fight, Bepa reeled off five straight games to take the match. Sabine had to be carried off the court in a stretcher and rushed to the infirmary. Word is that she's fine now. Just physically and emotionally exhausted from the match. But man, when is this kid going to catch a break. She's one of those players who, when on, seems unbeatable. The forehand and serve are just that good.
Get a saline drip and rest up, Sabine. It's so nice to have you back in the mix (she's back into the top 100). On to Wimbledon!
Crazy haps, you guys. Crazy haps.
First off, SportExpress is reporting that Vera and Sergey broke up. MOMMY AND DADDY DON'T LOVE EACH OTHER ANYMORE! She'll be coached by Karen Krotov, the guy that we have come to know as "Not-Sergey". And believe me, he is "Not-Sergey" in every way shape and not-so-hot form.
Thanks to Christina, here's a translation of Sergey's quotage on the split:
It was Vera’s idea to work with Karen. Apparently, she decided she needed something new in her training. But I didn’t agree with this. I have my own ideas about her game. When a new person came into the team, I didn’t want to take responsibility for his approach. You have to cover yourself with a blanket before a fall [note: some Russian idiom I’ve never heard before]. So, I decided to step aside, most of all because I didn’t want to hurt Vera.
Sadness. But she's still got Hot-Physio, right? RIGHT???
So that's me going all metaphorical on the concept of break ups. But the tennis community does have another actual, legitimately bummertown, legal-papers-are-involved break up to mourn.
The Fucking Groths are neither Groths nor...well...the other thing anymore.
If you follow Jarka on Twitter then you, like me, have pretty much known this was coming before the official announcement was made this week (she's back to Jarmila Gajdosova on the WTA site). But it is in fact official. And Jarka has some thoughts on it. And she's been tweeting them. To the public. A lot.
Anyway. Sad for Jarka and Sam. And sad for Bepa and my cooch. Sadz all around, you guys.
(Pics: Forty Deuce)
It's not clay. It's magic dust.
And omigosh that kit looks like a hospital gown.
Sam came back from a set down to beat a string-breaking Bepa 26 63 76(3), to score her biggest win of the year, first win over a top 10 player of the year, and first semifinal of the year. It also just happened to be the best match she played all year.
What is it about the combination of clay and Bepa that brings out the best in Sam? I don't know, but let's just say I won't be freaking out if they land in the same part of the draw in Paris. Is Sam back? HAIL NAW. It was one fucking match. But it was one fucking match that saw her come back from being a set down and win in a third set tiebreak. She's been dropping the close ones left and right this year. This was a huge step forward. Methinks DT gave her a nice pat on the back when she got back to the locker room.
As for Bepa, gurl, I don't know how much Prince and Gamma are paying you, but you've been busting strings for the past year. Today you went through 9 freshly strung racquet and had to play with a replacement racquet while you were waiting for your racquets to get restrung. Figure this out quickly, because it's been happening for a while now.
Sam will take on Julia Goolia in Saturday's semis (no play on Friday b/c it's...Good Friday). Julia turned in a remarkable performance against Sabine. Sabine wasn't playing poorly, but what ball striking for Julia! Hands down the best match I've ever seen from her.
So it'll be another ball-crunching match on Saturday. I have to think that if Sam can get the ball kick on her serve and forehand, she should be able to negate Goolia's power. But then again, isn't that always the book on Sam? The gameplan isn't a mystery. Her ability to execute is.
(Pics: AP, Getty)
Tough luck for the Waffle Nation. What looked to be a relatively straight-forward tie against the Czech Republic for a spot in the Fed Cup finals turned into an evenly matched battle once Kim injured her shoulder/foot/head/heart/whatever. After Wicky fell to Petra, fading in three sets, Flipper came through HUGE by beating BZS in straights.
BZS got the last cackle though, teaming up with Iveta to beat WickyFlips (feel free to use that as a product name, Belgian waffle spatula-making company!) 64 64 in the deciding dubs. I'm not a big fan of Team Czech but props to them. It took a team to get it done today, with all three team members responsible for a point.
And props to Petra Chihuatova. I didn't know how she would do this weekend against Wicky given her weird losses since Australia. Way to bounce back, girl.
So the first-time Fed Cup finalists will meet the seasoned pros of Mother Russia for the Cup. Bepa, Sveta, Pavs, and Maks took care of business against an Awesomeless Italian team, rolling to a 5-0 win after Italy was forced to field a team anchored by Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci. In singles. Yeah.
There was a bit of hubbabloo made (by the press) about some quotes from Roberta Vinci regarding Frank and Flav's absence. According to Uncle Jamie, Reuters claims Vinci "blasted" them, but the AP says she didn't. I have a really hard time thinking that Vinci would say anything bad about them at all and my official opinion is that something was lost in translation. Besides, if Vinci did slag them, wouldn't the Italian press have picked up on it? According to my sources (random fans on Twitter who speak Italian) the quotes haven't made any waves at all. So let's not, huh?
I am sooooooooo interested to see the team Shamil puts together for the final. Could we see Masha? Could we? COULD WE????
(Pics: Getty, AP)
Every once in a while, Vika has one of those matches against a quality opponent where she reminds why she matters. Last night's straight set destruction of Bepa was one of those matches. On her way to dropping a first set bagel on Bepa, she was absolutely untouchable. Her ball striking, tactical decision-making, and most importantly, her footwork, was at times, jaw-dropping.
"How could anyone, and yes, I mean anyone on tour beat her when she's playing like that?" Those short backhands cross-court were surgical and devastating. I wasn't expecting much from her here in Miami, after she was forced to retire to Caroline in Indian Wells due to a groin injury she sustained in the match. Even before the tournament started here she said she was just going to see how this week went.
Well after strugging through three straight three-setters last week, she toppled an uninspired Kim, 63 63, and then tore through Bepa, 60 63, who just seemed overwhelmed by Vika's power and precision.
So we get a rematch of the Stanford 2010 final between Vika and Masha, which Vika won convincingly, 64 61. I often think back to that match and Masha's loss to Kim in the Cincy finals and wonder how differently her summer would have been if she was able to bag either of those titles. She really was playing quite well but kept getting nipped in the end. Here's hoping it's a reversal of fortune on Saturday.
PS -- See? That's how you write about a Vika and Masha rematch without referencing bleeding eardrums, noise pollution, and ear plugs. It really wasn't that hard.
(Pics: Forty Deuce)
I enjoy the WTA's All-Access Hour and if I'm ever lucky enough to get to a tournament early enough to attend them, I do. For the most part they give you an opportunity to actually talk to a player, as opposed to shout questions at them, and you can ask some of the more off-beat questions that may not be appropriate for a press conference.
The hour started with JJ, who still sounds like she's been out smoking and partying. The low, gravelly, raspy voice makes it borderline impossible to understand her sometimes. But the one you can never misread is JJ's face. At one point, a journo asked her what she thought of Nole's amazing run and whether she had any thoughts as to why he was so inspired. As she started to answer, a male journo, with a smart-alecky tone, exclaimed "Maybe's it's Ana!" and started laughing at his own joke. I stifled a gasp and literally stepped back five steps. Sure enough, JJ stopped her answer, silently shot him a deathglare for a good 5 seconds, and then kept answering.
JJ, 1, Ignorant and Rude Journo, death. Seriously. So rude.
Next up, after turning to see Bepa in a spectacular Ed Hardy hoodie chatting with a journo in Russian, I decided to lady up and chill by Sam's table. After wiping the beads of sweat from my brow, I finally asked her a question that I've had for her since Indian Wells: What's your take on your year so far?
I haven't had the season that I wanted to yet, that's for sure. I played some pretty good tennis and feel like I'm playing quite well on the practice court. Haven't been able to put it together in a tournament yet unfortunately. But at least I feel like I'm playing well, I'm feeling fit and doing the things I need to do. Hopefully for me it's not too far away and it's just around the corner, getting good results. You gotta go through these times, it hasn't been horrible but it hasn't been what I wanted.
Way to get it all emo, Court! Quite the talent you have.
Next up, Vika. Yes, I know I've been papped repeatedly while talking with Vika. If you read FD enough you might be wondering, "What the hell were you talking to Vika for?" Well the one awkward thing that can happen at AAH is that some players end up not getting talked to, or they get 5 questions and all the journos leave to go talk to Kim or Caro or something. That almost happened to Vika and I just kind of felt bad. So I stuck around with her and chatted about the friendships on tour, the cameraderie, why she thought that was, etc. It was actually kind of nice. I suspect she's a perfectly nice person when she's not talking tennis.
"I think more [cameraderie]. I don't want to sound cocky or anything but I think a lot of us young players brought it. Because we came from juniors and we have the competitors between us but we also have our friendship. We have our rivalries on the court but we're normal people off the court. We see each other at every tournament. I think we brought a lot of that into the game, also from the men's tour. I think it's great. I think for the fans it's exciting to see how we have relationships between all of us, not just the lower ranked players.
It's very exciting. It makes it easier for us to joke around. It's part of the tennis life and it's part of being a tennis family."
And on her groin injury:
"I'm trying get back. Practiced a little bit yesterday, just easy. And it was not a tear but it was still a strain. Trying to recover and hopefully I'll be fine."
From there it was over to Fran's table, where those who were smart enough to ignore Kim and take in the Schiavone Experience were literally on the edge of their seat, leaning forward, listening intently. That's what Fran does. She draws you in, whether she's hooha-ing on court, or dropping truth-bombs in what I can only describe as her bedroom voice. It's a well-articulated raspy drawl that hovers just above a whisper. It's bomb, is what I'm saying.
One thing I love about watching AAH or press conferences is that moment when a player gets asked tricky question, you're silently screaming the right answer in your head, and then they totally nail it. It's like prepping a witness for the stand and seeing your witness totally nail their cross-examination. I had one of those moments during Fran's presser. One of the journos spent most of his/her time asking every single player about Serena and Venus. This was part of his exchange with Fran:
Q: Do you miss them? Do you feel like "this thing is wide open without Serena." More fair for everybody? A better chance to win any tournament you're in?
A: "Well yeah. When I win the French Open, there was Venus and Serena. For sure they are tremendous athletes but at the same time, we are other great competitors. For sure we are gonna miss them."
YES. FISTPUMP. NAILED IT. The minute he asked the question all I could think was "Wait, she won a Slam and Serena and Venus were there. To her *any* tournament is wide open regardless." You go on, Frank.
Also, your hipster glasses are awesome:
(Pics: Forty Deuce)
Posted by C Note on March 16, 2011 in Agi Radwanska, Andrea Petkovic, Andy Murray, Daniela Hantuchova, Dinara Safina, Ernests Gulbis, Feliciano Lopez, Fernando Verdasco, Francesca Schiavone, Gilles Simon, Igor Andreev, Indian Wells, Janko Tipsarevic, Jelena Jankovic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Kei Nishikori, Maria Kirilenko, Milos Raonic, Pic This!, Sam Stosur, Sania Mirza, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Vera Zvonereva | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
It's about midnight and I'm packing up my stuff but I would be remiss if I didn't leave a note to let you know that Bepa just lost to Domi in three sets.
Yes it happened. I was there.
Domi needed six match points and got a case of the chokes the likes of which I have literally never seen before. Serving for the match she had triple match point at 40-love and literally froze. Two horrible swings at the ball got Bepa back to 40-30. Domi walked up to the line to serve and just stood there frozen in her pre-serve stance staring at the ground for a good 10 seconds and finally backed off the line, much to Bepa's annoyance. She got back to the line, stood frozen for a while longer and threw up an errant toss, which she had to catch. It was nutty.
But whatever. She finally converted her sixth match point and she's now chalked up wins over Caro and Vera in 2011. Get into the semis, Fran.
In other news, Zeljko's still fat.
With pleasure, Bepa. With absolute pleasure.
What a weekend! Nole trounces Fed in Dubai and Bepa steps it up and holds her nerve to take out the streaking Caro (who, to be fair, was struggling with a cold or something all week) to finally bag a title and shake that "Titleless #3" that I gingerly placed around her neck on Friday.
She was, understandably, stoked:
Caro was a bit out of sorts all match, missing balls that she really had no business missing. But credit to Vera for keeping her level up and capitalizing.
Crazy happy eyes AND she put a bird on it.
If there's anyone who's ok with all the attention being forced on Caro as the Slamless #1, ruiner of women's tennis and sport in general, it's Bepa. She's now gone a full 52 weeks without a title. As the #3 player in the world, that's actually kind of crazy. She's a title-less #3.
So let's get off the schnide, Bepa.
The top two seeds in Doha will have at it tomorrow. Caro's been absolutely dominant all week, dusting aside Mono, 61 61. Bepa on the other hand, has had to wiggle out of some tough jams all week. She had triple break point against her at 4-4 in the third set against JJ today, and somehow slinked out of it to take the final set 64. She definitely isn't at her best, but her ability to win despite that fact has to give her confidence.
I'm going to give the #1 some respect and tip her for the win. She's moving really well and seeing the ball so big right now.
But, you know, go Blue Eyes.
(Pic: Getty, Reuters)
The real star of this video? Bepa's eyes. And her skin. Suck it, Proactiv.
And I have to vouch for Nails' choice of ice cream. Coming from California, particularly San Francisco, I had no idea that Green Tea ice cream wasn't, like, a thing. We have it everywhere and no one thinks twice about ordering it. It's light and subtle, and since I'm not huge on chocolate, it's always the perfect cap to a meal. But when I was in Australia I can't count the number of times where I saw someone blanch at the idea of it. So yeah, green tea flavored ice cream. Get on the train. You know Nails wouldn't lead you astray.
Look. I get it. In these technologically advanced times life moves really fast, if you don't stop, blah blah blah, Bueller. But that is no excuse to not Google words whenever you're not sure you're using them correctly. I mean, isn't that the whole point of the "life moving so fast" thing? We now have the means to look up and process information that would have taken 5000 times longer in the past.
So. Unless Bepa's striking some sort of Biblical pose that I'm unaware of (and trust me, I have been known to dabble in that dusty book every once in a while) then I really don't understand the aggressive description of what is going on in this picture by Mr. Naamani.
Bonus Value-Added Observation: Bepa in blue. Awesome. Her eyes are poppin'.
"I am not like Serena Williams as I can't serve aces," she said. "I am not like Maria Sharapova, as I can't hit a winner on every single ball. I don't have all these things and I am still among the top three players out there. So if you think I am not mentally tough or something, well how can I win the tennis matches then?
There is a big difference between being mentally tough and being emotional. It's a huge difference. I will always be emotional. As long as I use those emotions to my advantage, that's only a plus to me. If I need to break the racket to pump myself up, then I will break the racket. I don't care."
-- Bepa, telling people to just get over the fucking "emotional" angle already.
The news out of Pattaya was Dani beating Vera on the way to her first title since Linz 2007. I mean, really, who thought Dani had it in her to go through a top 5 player to win a title?
But the hilarity came from Vera's slow-burn indignation in the semifinal after the umpire followed up a disputed line call with a conduct warning to Bepa right before Dani's match point. She claimed she heard Bepa cuss, which, Bepa was all "Say what?"
"She's reading my lips?!?!" is my new "We're talkin' about practice???"
Anyone watch the match live? What's the real story here?
I've never understood this whole "dinner on the beach" business. Why do you want (a) sand in your food, (b) wind turning your hair into a Bride of Frankenstein fro, (c) having to scream over the sound of crashing waves and wind to have a conversation, and (d) sand up your butt?
Have I mentioned that I'm not fond of the beach generally? Or Valentine's Day? (High five, Petko. Concert and beer. Word).
But side-ponytailed Bepa asking for a surprise? I just heard a lot of men and women squee their pants.
"I've heard a great deal about you, Fa Mulan. You stole your father's armor, ran away from home, impersonated a soldier, deceived your commanding officer, dishonored the Chinese Army, destroyed my palace, and... you have saved us all."
What? It was either that or a Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon quote.
It happened. It really really happened. Nails was looking down and out after a really sorry first set that saw her pressing way too much, clearly concerned about Caro's ability to get the ball back. She settled herself in the second set but found herself down match point when Caro served for the match at 5-4. She was able to save it and take the set, but from there the third set was a bit of a toss-up. We all know that Caro can't really terminate a rally (she would hit ZERO winners in the third set) so it was up to Nails to work the points, maintain her composure, and execute her shots when she had an opening.
It's a broken record with Caroline but once again she waited for her opponent to give her the match (via UFEs) instead of trying to take it herself. She would drop the final set 63 and leave the court in tears, her team of Dad and ADPD hunkering down in the player area trying to figure out what went wrong. I mean...it wasn't a mystery. She waited for Nails to make enough errors to play herself out of the match and Nails, because she's badass and stuff, didn't.
And so we have our first Chinese-born person, man or woman into the final of a Grand Slam. This is huge and Nails knows it. But what's so refreshing about Nails is the fact that you know she's not doing this for country or government. She's doing this for herself and for her team. If it helps China, then...ok. So I really feel like that's the only pressure she feels, the pressure from herself, not the weight of 1.3 billion people. That's pretty huge.
Of course, it wouldn't be a day of Nails awesomeness without some post-match hilarity. And boy did she bring it.
And some presser gems:
Q. Last year you were in semifinals. Now you are in final. What are you going to do next year? NA LI: If I win this year, maybe next year I will retire. (Smiling.)
Q. They call her the great Danish wall, but you have the great Chinese wall. So it was easy, no?
NA LI: I think Chinese wall more famous.
Q. Getting back to the match, was your game plan just to be very aggressive? Did you think you could outpower her?
NA LI: No, I never think about what I should do on the court. If you are focus on the court, you don't need to think about too much. Just focus. I mean, of course like between the point, only 20 second. What you can think? It's so short the time.
Q. You said after the match you didn't get much sleep last night.
NA LI: Yeah. I mean, I was wake up every hour, so I say, Stop. I couldn't sleep. My husband just like say, Relax. I say, How? Tell me how can relax because I couldn't sleep. So he was like, Okay, he just totally forget me. This morning, he was asking, How you sleep? I was like, Stop.
Q. Is he going to go into another room now?
NA LI: I think today he can stay in the bathroom.
Q. Was it your wedding anniversary today, or is it Saturday?
NA LI: I will think about two days later, but he was think about today. (Smiling.) So I don't know if I was thinking about two days later. Yeah, maybe I should ask my mom. (Laughter.)
She's like the Asian version of Franny. Totally entertaining, pragmatic, and endearingly honest to a fault. Personally, I loved her answer to the question as to why she was not "a typical Chinese" because she was funny and talkative:
Oh, yeah, maybe they couldn't speak English so they didn't know how to talk. Yeah, if you guys can't speak Chinese, of course they can make a lot of joke.
That was just such an insulting question. Come on. We're fucking hilarious.
She'll take on Kim in the final on Saturday after Kimmy pretty much steamrolled Bepa, who really didn't bring her A-game. It was, without a doubt, the best match Kim's played here in Melbourne and if she brings that form to the final then I doubt we'll be seeing our first Chinese Slam champion.
Then again, it's Kim. You just never know, you know?
Wait...I thought the WTA side of things was supposed to be wide open. But so far, the only thing that's been surprising around these parts has been the uncommonly cool temperatures. After a week and a half of mild insanity, namely the early departures of Sam and Justine, we're now left with the world #1 Caro, #2 Vera, #3 Kim, and the only player to be undefeated this year, world #9 Na Li.
From a story standpoint, I think Nails would be the biggest, then Caro, then Vera, then Kim, but I'm really really rooting for a Nails/Vera final. That's a pair that I can get behind.
The ladies turn it around and will play their semis tomorrow. Vera and Nails have looked the strongest to be honest, but Kim's always going to be the favorite on hard courts and Caro...plays tennis and has a kangaroo. So who knows how it will all shake out.
Regardless, it's been a fantastic tournament for the WTA. The ladies have played the better matches, have been more entertaining off-court, and showed the heart and guts that only comes from the half of the population that has to push basketballs out of their vaginas and pretend that it's the greatest thing in all the world.
(Pics: Getty, Reuters)
Muzz and Bepa aren't favorites here in Melbourne and without that burden they seem to be rolling comfortably along. Other than her tricky match against Bojangles, Bepa has looked solid. Despite my concerns that she's carrying a bit more weight in Australia, she seems to be moving well and playing smart, tactical tennis. After dropping an early break against Iveta today, she fought back and cruised to a 64 61 victory, booking her place into the quarterfinals. She'll face a tough test against Petra in the next round. Better stretch those legs out, Bepa, cuz you gon' be runnin'.
Then there's Andy, who, just like Vera, came into the tournament with a few question marks, namely, where was his form and would he be able to avoid another quizzical early round exit. He's passed that test and then some, playing some of the finest tennis of the tournament. He's averaging over two breaks per set, hasn't dropped a set, and hasn't spent more than two hours on court for any match. He put an exclamation point on his first week with an absolute dismantling of Hand Lotion this afternoon, playing the brand of Andy Murray tennis that leaves opponents in absolute screaming, racquet throwing rage.
It was dope.
He even gave a totally adorkable on-court interview afterwards. When asked why Judy wasn't in his box during his previous match, "My brother was playing doubles at the same time and obviously I'm not the favourite son." Hee.
Don't worry, Andy. You're my favourite so-- wait...does that work?
In other news, Kim is looking FANTASTIC:
Today was a weird day. Walk with me.
First off, it was Heineken Day at the Australian Open which basically means, if I understand it correctly, cheap beer. If you had a grounds pass you could get in and drink pretty cheaply on site. So things were already kicking by the time I arrived at noon.
The sun was out and the Ozone-less Aussie sky was beating down pretty good for much of the day. The heat only contributed to the odd happenings around the grounds. I'm sure the crowd over at Court 6 was settled in just to watch some hot Pico on Feli doubles action with a side of thigh porn. But you knew it wasn't going to be that straightforward when Pico came out with his hair tied back like Baggy.
So of course we didn't get much hot Pico on Feli action. Instead, we got gross Pico/Feli on Mahesh action. DID NOT WANT.
I was watching the match and my take on the haps is this: Pico and Feli took exception to Leander and Manesh yelling "Vamos" after points, taking cheap shots at them, and there are some reports that Leander kept trying to body check Pico on the changeovers. After Mahesh "Vamosed" loudly after Pico missed an easy volley late in the second set, all hell broke loose.
Feli jumped in and all four started barking at each other at the net, getting into each other's faces. Pico tried to pull Leander aside to discuss the sitch and Pascal jumped down off his chair like Batman and tournament officials got into it and started to separate the four. Pico got mad that the officials were physically pushing and pulling him away when all he was trying to do was talk it out with Mahesh.
Of course the cuties would lose and Feli refused to shake hands and words were had. I guess I'll let the boys explain themselves:
I mean, we were playing, match was quiet, and one of the players, he was trying to provoke us all the time. At one point, we were a little bit tired of the style he was using on the court, and that's all what happened. But at the end, I was talking to Mahesh and everything was fine. Nothing else to comment.
He was trying to provoke us all the time. I know it's the style he been using the past 20 years. But that's okay. Nothing else.
What say ye, Mahesh?
We always do play a very aggressive style of doubles. That's what's given us all our good results. They, being two singles players, they've probably never seen it before. They probably were taken aback a little bit. They were probably not happy that we used the word 'vamos'. I don't think they have a patent on that one. Small things like that added up. Kept adding to their frustration that we were playing good tennis as well.
Unfortunately, believe it or not, this is not the first time it's happened to me. When Leander and me were playing Orsanic and Oncins in Dubai 95, they got upset because we used 'vamos'. This was in 2000. Two years ago when I was playing González and Acasuso at the French Open, I used 'vamos' and they got upset. I've been using it for a long time. If these guys are going to get upset, I'm going to continue to use it.
LEANDER PAES: At the end of the day, whether it's 'vamos' or 'allez', we're Indian, nobody has patent, we're saying it to each other.
I would probably side with Leander and Mahesh if they didn't come off as so damn smug in their presser. I suppose being on the winning side earns you the right to be smug. They're right, the Spaniards/Argies don't "own" the language, just like the Serbs don't own "ajde". But don't pretend that you don't know what you're doing and that you're all innocent and taking the high road. I saw the match, dudes. You, Mahesh, were being an intentional prick.
From there I tuned in to see Vera cruising over Lucie, having pocketed the first set and up 4-2 in the second, only to double fault to give Lucie the break back. From there Lucie found a whole 'nother gear and would force a tiebreak that was tight and involved a lot of fantastic rallies. Finally, Vera would hit an incredible lob winner reminiscent of the one Kim hit against Venus at the USO10 that got her match point and she was able to close it out. But it was very close to calamity on Laver.
So there I am, reclining in my chair, when I tune over to watch Moose vs. GGL, and this is what I see on the second point:
As Andy would say after he cruised to victory in an hour and 20ish minutes, "It's a bit embarrassing."
Of course, while Andy was plastering GGL, Jo was running out of gas against Dolgopolov. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! But yes. He seems to have picked up a lower back issue and after fighting as best he could for three sets, he dropped the last two 1 and 1. So super cutie Jo is out and Dolgo lives on to take on The Sodness Monster. Barf.
Oh, but it would get weirder.
Big John was locked in a dogfight with Marin "The last 10 months never happened" Cilic and he looked well on his way to winning when he battled back and eeked out the third-set tiebreaker to go up 2-1. But as is the case with most of John's matches, it came down to a few points and with the sun beating down, John looked gassed. Instead of just blasting and trying to put pressure on Marin, he sat back, content to rally and hoped for Marin to miss.
Marin didn't and the match went into extra innings, the first five setter that Big John would play since Wimbledon. Marin would finally win 9-7 in the fifth. John was absolutely gutted in press. He would have played Rafa.
To round out the day's weirdness, The Cone actually made a match of it with Kim (though it was more Kim being wonky than Cone doing anything other than monologue in French and slam her racquet a bunch), Marcos retired in his match with Melzer with a PINKY INJURY, and Makarova and IVETA BENESOVA are in the fourth round after they each bounced seeds, Nadia and Pavs, respectively.
Did I mention Robbie decided to screw with me and dropped into the Live Blog?
And this all happened before the sun went down...
Has it really only been four days? It feels like a week already, to be honest. But it's been pretty great so far, even if I feel as loopy as that girl looks.
You know how there are some guys you look at and you're like "Oooh. I bet you he'd be total gentle and kind in the sex."
Yeah, Lleyton is not that guy.
You can always count on some good MaKiri Grit Face when she comes through in a tight three-setter. Always. Couldn't follow it up though, and she's out to Iveta today.
The Petko Dance has gone interpretive, guys.
WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM???
Hisense Arena claimed the tennis lives of two more Serbs this afternoon, as JJ and Bojangles went down to Peng and Bepa, respectively. That's another early-round loss for JJ, who's gotta be concerned about the state of her game and her ranking. She's got Indian Wells, Rome and RG SF points to defend over the next 6 months and it wouldn't be a shock to see her ranking plumet into the 20s if she can't get it together. She just doesn't look like she knows what she wants to do out there tactically and the frustration sets in quite quick.
JJ was up 4-1 in the first set and seemingly cruising before she lost her way and let Peng back into the set. JJ began to back off a bit and Peng stepped up, hitting low and flat and keeping the ball out of JJ's strike zone. Once Peng got into the match JJ retreated, playing more passively and either refusing to step in to attack when she needed to, or pulling the trigger too early and missing the shot. It's the same old story for her really. I feel like I've written up that match analysis at least five times by now.
With JJ and Ana out, Bojangles was the last Serb standing. Stand she did for 45 minutes, as she quickly showed her solid game of finding angles and hitting near the lines. I was feeling pleased as punch (as much as I could as she was beating up Bepa) that Bojangles was proving me clairvoyant. She took the first set easily, 6-2.
But then Bepa, being the nerd that she is, got figured Bojangles' game and started to add a bit more variety to her shots. She also used her legs, running down everything she could to put pressure on Bojangles to hit harder and closer to the lines. The legs worked, and Bepa was able to come back and virtually cruise to a three set win.
A really solid win for Bepa and a lot to be positive about for Bojangles after her Australian swing. She's going to bag her first title this year. I just know it.
But back to Hisense. Nole and Viktor are the only two Serbs left in the singles main draw and WOULDN'T YOU KNOW IT, they're playing each other tomorrow and they're scheduled for Hisense. My prediction? The building collapses and they're both out of the tournament.
Do NOT go near Hisense tomorrow. You've been warned.
Up until the last hour or so, if you bought tickets to Rod Laver Arena today you definitely weren't getting much bang for your buck. Sure, it's great to see the best players in the world play awesome, dominating tennis that reminds you that for all the idiotic criticism of the rankings systems, they are pretty dead on. Top players are top players for a reason: they're better. I mean, duh.
But after three matches on Laver, it was 35 games to 5 games dropped for the top dogs of the day, Vera, Rafa and Sam. And really, it wasn't even *that* close. Rafa won 11 straight games over Marcos Daniel before he retired at 60 50 with an injury. Sam had the courtesy not to double bagel the 17 year-old upstart, Lauren Davis, and sent her home from her first WTA schooling with a couple of packs of string cheese for her troubles. Vera? Come on, it was Sybille Bammer, who only seems capable of beat Serena, oddly.
Speaking of Lauren Davis, that seriously was a schooling. Prior to the match she had been interviewed by every American news outlet that mattered, and she was giving some pretty good copy. Playing in her first Grand Slam and riding a four month undefeated streak, the kid drew the worst possible opponent possible. This wasn't an instance of playing someone like Kim or Justine, who simply play the game she's used to but at a ridiculously higher level. This was against Sam, a player with shots (two in particular, her kick and her forehand) that can't just don't exist in the pro game, let alone the junior ranks.
So you'll have to excuse me if I chuckled and scoffed at this: "I know I can compete with these girls in Australia and beat a lot of them, and I think I have a good shot against Stosur. She has a really strong forehand and good kick serve, but my friend Madison Keys has a really good kick-serve to the backhand, and I'm used to that."
My immediate reaction upon reading the quote? "Oh, honey. Have fun." Credit to her, though. The kid was brimming with confidence. That's a pretty easy thing when you're 17 years-old.
Sure enough, Madison Keys' "really good kick-serve to the backhand" has nothing on Sammy's and from the first game you could see how difficult it was for Davis to get on the ball. You may be able to get away with just popping the ball back and getting the rally started at the Orange Bowl, but pop it back with no pace to the middle of the court on Laver against Sam Stosur? See ya. The kid must be icing her neck for whiplash. It was fun to watch for a while. But then it just felt like the poor kid had no business being there. She's definitely got a quality backhand that she can hit for winners, but past that, it was all Sammy all the time. You know that sound of a stadium full of people shifting uncomfortably in their chairs? Yeah, I think Lauren Davis knows that sound now, too.
It was a professional and mature performance from Sam and it was exactly what she needed to prove to fans and media that she's here to play and the nerves of a full crowd on Laver against an unknown opponent wasn't going to phase her.
At least yet.
As for Bepa, I maintain that she's not as fit as last year. But a quality start nonetheless. And Rafa? What can you say. Moose has just wrapped up his match in straights over Beck and I think it's safe to say that Fed, Rafa, Nole, and Andy have given no cause for concern. They all look focused and sharp.
Off to settle in to Hisense for Ana vs. Makarova. My stable has had a good day so far. One more to go.
The Rally For Relief was a huge success both on and off the court, much the surprise of no-one. On their way to ensuring that Ana will require testing for STDs, the exhibition raised $1.8 million dollars thanks to some very generous and very necessary corporate matching programs. That number will continue to rise over the fortnight, as players will be auctioning off gear, collections will be taken all over the grounds, and more events are surely planned.
People look at my quizzically whenever I tell them I'm a tennis fan. Apparently it seems like a really weird sport to follow with such passion and fervor. Whenever they ask me why I love it, I never say "Oh, I love the game, it's beautiful to watch" or "Rafa Nadal's forehand" or "I just really like the one-on-one competition." That's not to say those statements aren't true, it's just that they aren't the reasons that pop up immediately in my mind.
Nope, I love tennis because of the personalities. I have genuine love and respect for these people as human beings (yes, even Roger). Is that really creepy to say? They're just good people. Is there any other sport that can take the top players in the game, throw them onto a court with mics and a can of tennis balls, and have them, rather spontaneously, put on the tennis equivalent of a Harlem Globetotters show? Sure, basketball exos can be fun, but aren't those more about "Oh, shit, look at what sick skill Kobe has!" as opposed, "Look at Andy Roddick being stupid just because he knows it'll make us laugh."
All the things that I personally love about this sport were on full display on Laver today. It was an absolute pleasure.
The players were in full exhibition mode (well, most of them) and so long as you have Nole and A-Rod around, you know you're in for a good time.
The event started with a team competition with Rafter, Moose, A-Rod, Vika, and Bepa on one team, and Lleyton, Justine, Caro, Ana, and Nole on the other. Caro was a bit of a dud, as evidenced by the fact that Lleyton's kid cried the second she picked him up. Also her dress looked crap. Don't believe me? Ask Judy.
While Nole and A-Rod were the exo stalwarts, pulling out all their usual tricks (A-Rod mocking line judges, Nole doing everything except playing tennis) I think the emerging exo stars of the show were Moose and Ana.
Ana stole the show for the ladies, chatting and giggling into her mic and seemed totally game for all the flirting and innuendo jokes. Her "Novak, get behind me. Well, you know what I mean..." got the biggest guffaw from me. She's come a long way from being the dead silent one at exos (see her appearances at USO Kids Day if you don't know what I'm talking about).
But the point of the match basically involved Moose and Ana hitting to each and making sexy grunts for what felt like a good 5 minutes, and seriously, if you closed your eyes the only conclusion you could come to is that Ana should, in a few weeks, pee on a stick. Because girl, you pregnant with a vampire baby. Everyone needed a moist towelette after that one.
JUST GET NAKED AND DO IT!
Is that a true and genuine smile from my boyfriend?
It must be love.
Next up was Fed and Sam vs. Rafa and Kim. This one was a bit of a letdown after the laughs a minute riot of the first match. There were no antics, just some light, competitive hitting. The players weren't even mic'd up and no one really knows why. But the match was worth it for this and this alone:
If you could please allow me to clear my throat before I add any commentary...*cough*...
You a do your part and donate here.
(Pics: Getty, Reuters)
Caro loses to Domi 3 and 3, Vera loses to Flavia, 5 and 5, and in the best match of the tournament so far, Sveta takes out Sam, 36 63 64. That's #1, #2, and #4 out in one day. Ouch.
Caro was predictably delusional in her presser. More on that later.
As for Vera, she acknowledged, as she should, that Flavia is no slouch, but it was her inconsistency that was her undoing. "There were some good points, good shots, and there were some bad points and bad shots. I think overall the consistency wasn't there, but I tried to, you know know, keep doing what I had to do. There were moments where I was thinking too much about technical stuff, sometimes too much about tactical stuff, and I was not able to find that good balance between playing technically good and tactically good. That imbalance gave me a lot of inconsistency."
The kid has a way with words. More:
"I came here from Hong Kong, and I didn't really get the chance to really play points and some practice sets, so of course I had to try to find my rhythm in the match. Different conditions from what I've been training in and what I played in Hong Kong. The courts are different, balls are different, windy. So taking all this in consideration, it was very difficult for me to produce very good tennis today. but I tried my best, and I definitely can see some moments where I can improve. That's why I'm pretty conident and positive that next few days, if I train well and if I play those practice sets, I will be able to put it together. Then i can really raise the level of my game for the Australian Open."
So there you go. It was actually a really positive presser from Vera. She was smiley, had good perspective, and as always, thoughtful. But watching a bit of her match all I could think was that she didn't look as fit as she did in New York or Doha. She seems to be carrying a bit of extra weight and I honestly couldn't tell if it was "unfit" weight or "hit the gym and bulked up JJ-style" weight. But it worried me.
And then there's this girl, who I must say, I'm the least worried about. There's no shame in losing to Sveta when she's playing well. And by golly she played great today. As she acknowledged afterwards, it was for sure the best she'd played since San Diego. I mean, Sveta was hitting the ball into the court, you guys. That's a victory in and of itself. She did a good job of moving Sam around the court, but also holding her own in their brutally crushing forehand rallies. You want to see some hitting? Watch a Sam and Sveta match when they bring their B+ games. Holy crapola.
Sam played well. She served at 75% and was 2/2 on her break point chances. But her forehand let her down on the big points, missing by less than a centimeter a few times. She's feeling confident going into Melbourne, though. She'll stick around Sydney to practice given the weather issues in Melbourne making practice courts scarce. Then again, I'm writing this as the skies have opened up to cancel matches, so I'm not too sure the weather here is that great either.
And for those who are wondering, her family hasn't been affected by the horrible flooding in Queensland. Knock on wood.
I still have to do a double take when I see Ana ahead of Masha. It seemed as Masha was actually part of the conversation at every Slam, while Ana had an eight month pity party. Solid years from Nails and Shahar (though really, how did that happen?) and nice to see Lil' Mash and Pavs finish the year with the highest year-end rankings of their careers. Hell, that can be said of a lot of the ladies: Caro, Bepa, Sam, Fran, Nails and Shahar, to name a few.
As for the guys, it's still weird to see Mischa in the top 10 and I'm shocked that Marin's first six weeks basically carried him to a top 15 ranking. But what's really surprising is the Tournaments Played stat.
Muzz played the fewest number of tournaments in the top 25, only 19, which is two fewer than the three big boys ahead of him. Sod played 24 tourneys and Tomas played 26(!), and I don't think this includes Davis Cup ties.
Marcos played 29 tournaments? That just makes his participation in New Haven either Herculean or Dumb and Dumber, depending on your take. Speaking of Dumb and Dumber, Sam Q really needs to take a look at his schedule next year. 27 tournaments? No wonder the guy was gassed through the second half of the year.
I'm still blown away that Andy only played 19 tournaments. That explains my state of constant longing.
Posted by C Note on November 29, 2010 in Ana Ivanovic, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Andy Murray, ATP, Caroline Wozniacki, Francesca Schiavone, Marcos Baghdatis, Maria Kirilenko, Maria Sharapova, Marin Cilic, Na Li, Robin Soderling, Sam Querrey, Sam Stosur, Shahar Peer, Vera Zvonereva, WTA | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
No, that's not my locker combination. It's the ages of our semifinalists.
Alright. With Vera's surprise win over Kim, in straight sets nonetheless, the semifinals are finally set. Thanks for nothing, Vera. You better fucking beat Caro, that's all I'll say about that.
Kim's 4-0 against Sam. BUT Sam did finally take a set off her at the USO and, really, should have won that match. So...ah, who am I kidding? Just get a set off her, Sam. That would be nice.
Despite their 3-3 H2H, based on form you gotta go with Bepa.
Let's do this, ladies.
Here's your OOP, which now includes the doubles championship:
1. Raymond/Stubbs vs. Peschke/Srebotnik (15.00hrs)
2. Kim Clijsters vs. Samantha Stosur (NB 17.30hrs)
3. Caroline Wozniacki vs. Vera Zvonareva
4. Dulko/Pennetta vs. King/Shvedova (NB 20.30hrs)
(Pics: WTA Site, Getty, AP)
Some cool (or not cool, depending on your fandom) facts and figures out of Doha:
Wasn't that fun?
The semifinalists are set for Doha and if you look at that group it's hard to argue, as Brodie said, that of the eight players in Doha these aren't the four impact players of 2010. You've got the world #1 who was virtually unbeatable for the second half of the year, the world #2 who found her stride and made two back to back Slam finals, a defending Grand Slam champ who will likely end the year at least #3 in the world despite having to skip a Slam, and a new giant killer who proved this year that she has the game to beat anyone on any day (yes, even people named Serena) and will finish the year as the only player to beat both Serena and Woz while they were reigning #1s, aka, the chick who turned this blogger's stone heart into melty goo.
If that alone doesn't qualify as "huge impact" then you need to go read a dictionary for a bit.
While you do that I'll be in the corner with my Strunk & White trying to learn how to not write a sentence that goes on for seven lines.
But congrats to all four. Sam clinched her spot after she took the first set over Elena. Clearly she knew this and decided, as I did, to take a celebratory nap after that. Elena would take the next two sets, 64 76(4).
Just kidding. It was nice to see Elena pick up her game and play well. After that dismal performance against Caro on Tuesday it wasn't looking good for her. But she gets her revenge on Sam. Good on her.
Speaking of Caro, it was looking dicey has hell for the wannabe #1 after that first set, which Fran took 63. But the Kid righted the ship and took the next two 61 61 to clinch her spot in the semis and the year-end #1 ranking.
I haven't seen this match yet but I can't wait. Despite the scoreline I hear there were some tremendous rallies. You get on with your bad self, Fran. Now go win tomorrow to get yourself a $200k paycheck (well-deserved given the amount of on-court entertainment she's brought all week) and get thee to San Diego, where I will be rooting for you to raise that Fed Cup.
Sigh. What are we supposed to do with you, Vika? Look, everyone knows your potential is HUGE. I'm pretty sure we all thought you were going to be the first kid from your generation to hit #1, not that Danish Muppet. But it seemed as though every time you were under the radar you'd come out of nowhere with a quality run (Stanford) and when you were over the radar (I don't know...that works, right?) you would collapse, sometimes literally. The talent is there. But you gotta get fitter in the body and the head. It's just really frustrating to watch.
And mind you, I'M NOT EVEN A FAN! I actively root for you to lose. In fact, if I were to be blatantly honest, I pretty much root for you to literally collapse on the court (caveat: so long as you don't actually hurt yourself). When you walk by me at tournaments I have to hug the wall for fear that I might spontaneously kick you in the kidney. But I don't hate you as much as I love tennis and for the good of the game you need to be good. Besides, I can't hate on you when you're losing all the time. It just seems cruel.
Oh. She lost to Kim, 64 57 61. Yet another third set collapse (figuratively). Kim's win meant both she and Bepa clinched the group.
But don't go anywhere! There's still stuff to play for tomorrow! I'm really looking forward to Lena vs. Fran and Kim vs. Vera. Kim and Vera are the only undefeated players left and whoever wins will play Caro (loser gets Sam, as is life) and be eligible for bonus money for going undefeated in RR play if they win the title. Plus, and maybe I'm naive here, but I don't think any of those four will be tanking their matches. There's a lot of pride on the line.
Totes cute video of Fran, Kim, Nails, and Bepa doing a kids clinic in Doha. I just love this combination of players. What a great group to present to aspiring tennis players.
Also, if Sam's ok with it, I want to have your babies, Bepa. Now, I know at least one of you out there in FD land is going to object to this and tell me to get in line. But I'm bigger than you and I'm pretty sure I could beat you up.
So...end of the line, shorty.
It's a shame they're not both wearing flannel. Opportunity lost.
Thanks to the hard working folks at the WTA, here are the Doha scenarios going into tomorrow:
Gotta love all the ink that Bepa's been getting lately. Much deserved, even if it means doing photoshoots that force you to almost roll an ankle.
Um...hi, BOOB I'VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE.
Hey, remember when they had to stuff Bepa's bra that one time? Yeah, nice to see they've never had to do *that* again.
Props to Lexi for emailing me the pics.
BONUS: Bepa did a shoot with Harper's Bazaar (Russian edition, we presume), too. Cari Champion of Tennis Channel tweeted a preview:
To quote P-Mac: "HELLO!"
Sergey says "Quiet, please."
In what was probably the best match of the tournament so far (and most dramatic, I'd say), Bepa was able to keep clawing back from being a break down to overtake a frustrated Vika, 76 64. I tuned in towards the end of the first set and all know is that Vika looked on the verge of tears, her grunt has somehow gotten even longer than it used to be, and Vera was monologuing like a champ, muttering and gesticulating like she had the lead in Hamlet.
Yeah, it was awesome, guys.
So Vera moves to 2-0 in the white group and still has a mathematical chance to catch the year-end #1. She basically has to run the table and win the championship and Caro has to lose her next two.
Oh, what's that? You say there's absolutely no way Vera can do it?
Sergey say "Quiet Please."
(Pics: Getty, AP, Reuters)
Day two should see more competitive matches, primarily because there are more healthy players on the slate. That's always a plus.
First up, Vera vs. Vika. This one's juicy and Vika's coming off a win in Moscow, but I'm going with Bepa, who leads the H2H 5-2. Vika doesn't have a great history of performing well at back-to-back tournaments. Then again, they've met three times this year with Vika winning two and retiring in one. So...shit, I don't know.
Yup. That's some quality tennis analysis right there.
Next up, Kim vs. JJ. Something tells me I will be napping during this one. JJ only took 3 games off Bepa and had to be put on an IV drip after the match. So...how many do we give her off Kim?
Yeah...that's what I thought.
Kim leads the H2H 6-1, with JJ winning their last match in Toronto in 2009.
Rounding out the night, Sam vs. Caro for supremacy in the Maroon Group. Their H2H is 2-2, though they haven't played since Osaka in 2009. Based on recent form I'll go with Caro, though if Sam can go a full match serving the way she did in the second set against Fran, this could go Sam's way.
Doubt it, though. Sorry, Sammy.
Oh, also, if Caro wins she secures the year-end #1 over Bepa.
Play starts at 5pm local time, 10am EST.
Caro and Bepa cruised in their first round matches, with Caro beating a hobbled Elena 1 and 1, and Bepa beating a ailing (is that vague enough?) JJ, 3 and 0. Everybody was all like "ZOMG, this purple vagina tour is such a LOLZ! How can anyone take it seriously?"
Well, we all know that JJ and Lena are hobbled, right? And we know their results in the last few months haven't been great, no? And we know that Caro and Bepa are, according to the rankings, the top two players in the world who actually play tennis full-time. I mean, even if you can't accept that fact you have to agree that they have both had waaaaaaaay better years than Lena and JJ. And we know that Caro and Bepa have been in good to fantastic form over the past few months.
So...how are these results surprising? Disappointing? Sure, I mean, everyone *hopes* for competitive matches but I don't think we had any reason to believe these were actually going to be close ones. And if anything, wouldn't it have been more pathetic if the top two players couldn't blitz a player with one leg and another with no nose?
Calm down. I'm referring to JJ's respirtatory issues, knee jerks. She skipped her post-match presser, by the way. You just keep on keepin' on, JJ.
So I'm going to be the one to say great job Caro and Bepa. You're the top seeds in your groups and you played like it today, playing smart and contained tennis to get on and off the court quickly.
And you did it while still being you. Well done.
Oh, and PS, I can't wait for the handwringing and rending of garments when Rafa and Roger dole out some breadsticks and bagels in London. Because you know there's absolutely no double standard here. Not at all.
Play begins tomorrow at 5pm local time.
Here's hoping JJ wears clothes.
First up is new world #2 Bepa vs. an already whining about injury and fatigue JJ. JJ's just going to go out there and try her best, you guys. The two have a 6-6 H2H but you have to like Vera in this one. Reports from the ground say Vera is looking great in practice, JJ not so much.
Also, is she breaking out in hives or something in that picture? That's a distracting amount of splotch all along her neck and upper chest.
Next up, very nice blond ladies who haven't won shit. Or so the narrative would read if I weren't me and I were someone else. Elena is coming off an ankle injury that forced her to withdraw from Luxembourg so who knows what her form is. Caro is coming off -- what's this? -- a two-week break since she won in Beijing. That's like a three-month break for most people.
Caro leads the H2H 4-3, but she's beaten Elena both times they've met in 2010, most recently in the Tokyo finals. Gotta tap the kid here. She kinda really needs to win this title.
I don't even want to talk about it.
I'm still smarting.
Though, Sam, if I may, can I just as you one teensy-weensy little favor? Please get that nail polish off. Otherwise I'm going to spend the entirety of your match laughing my ass off, and that's not the type of support or intensity I want to be bringing to this match.
(Pics: Getty, AP)
The ladies are finally in Doha (doesn't it seem like we've been talking about the YECs for forever now?) and kicked off the festivities by glamming up for the sole purpose of showing off their amazing sock tans. Which is kind of the only thing they really can show off given that it's, you know, Doha.
This is actually the last year Doha will host the YECs, which is kind of a shame because it looks like the ladies finally figured out how the hell they're supposed to do their hair and makeup. I hope they take everything they've learned with them to Istanbul next year.
Yes, Vera, I said Istanbul. Try to act enthused, Kim.
But really, they all looked great.
Most "Yeah, What Up Now, Tracy? Say It To My Face"-iest.
Most--wait, is that FRAN???
Most "I Really Don't Want To Be Here-iest."
Uh...JJ? Yeah, hi, sorry. I'm gonna need that award back.
Here you go, Kim.
Most--wait, is that SAM???
(Pics: Getty, AP)
The Caro Train keeps on trucking. That's six titles on the year after she bested Bepa in three sets to take Beijing. She's now won six straight finals since losing the final at Indian Wells, while Bepa's lost five straight finals since Pattaya City.
Too bad those stuffed animals aren't convinced. They're still angry about this whole #1 business.
Aga was forced to retire down 0-5 to Caro due to a leg injury. There were tears from both but Caro was pretty amazing in her genuine condolensces to her bestie and sometimes tanning partner.
Nice to see. She'll be up against her mindless ball-bashing buddy, Vika, in the semis, and has a pretty damn good chance of capturing that #1 ranking if she does well here and in Beijing. Hold on to your hats.
The other semi will feature Lena vs. Fran. Lena was on the verge of dropping the first set before Bepa failed to serve it out and pretty much went wonky for the rest of the match, throwing in UFE after UFE. It was bummersauce.
As for Fran, she had herself a 3+ hour battle with Kaia and needed two chances to serve out the third set after choking away the first chance pretty badly. Nice to see her back up her late summer results though. Somehow, the better Fran does, the easier RG is for me to take.
(Pic: AP; Getty)