The best part might be how fucking scared everyone looks when JJ has that sword. Well, that and trying to pick out all the faces in the crowd. What up, Eva!
Say it with me. Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww....
Gilles beats Zverev in Metz to cap off a fantastic week for him. That's going to make an amaaaaazing pacifier.
Over in Seoul, Kleybs pics up her second title of the season on Asian hard courts, dusting surprise finalist K-Zak in straight sets. Congrats, Kleybs. No please be tired and lose to Ana in Tokyo.
Alla Kudrywhatever picks up the first title of her career in Tashkent, beating Vezzie. Sad for Vez.
And Chela wrapped up the clay season by winning in Bucharest.
Kleybs, Agnes, Nadia, and K-Zak are into the semis of Seoul, with Klara ousting Dinara yesterday in straight sets. If you're an Ana fan, you'll be watching Kleybs' progress over the weekend in hopes that she's exhausted by the time she gets to Tokyo. Yes, it's come to this. Over in Tashkent it'll be Vezzie vs. Alla, each of whom are trying to win their first career titles. Go Vez!
As for the guys, Richard, Gilles, Techno, and Zverev are in the semifinals in Metz. The result of note? Techno reeling off 10 of the last 11 games to beat Marin in the quarterfinals. Seriously, what the french is going with that guy?
In Romania, Montanes, Granollers, Chela, and Andujar will duke it out for the last dirt title of the season.
Lastly, if you're interested at all, the qualie draw in Tokyo is pretty interesting. L-Rob is there and she won her first round match over #57 Sevastova (not an easy feat -- Sevastova won a title and beat Ana and JJ earlier this year), and she'll play the winner of Halep/Flipkens for a spot in the main draw. Whoever wins that Halep/Flipper match will have to turn around play Robbie later in the day. Good luck, Laura!
And as a random aside, I was totally shocked to see MGMT in the qualie draw. Didn't realize she'd fallen that far.
Forty years ago this week, nine women, fed up with the inequality in treatment and prize money offered to female tennis players by the USTA (then known as the USLTA) and other tournament organizing bodies, bailed on the USTA and signed $1 contracts to form what would eventually become the WTA, currently the largest and most successful professional women's sports organization in the world. They were suspended by the USTA, a rival circuit was started in an attempt to squash them, and they were branded a bunch of "crazies".
Flash forward 40 years and the WTA is the world's leading professional sport for women with over 2,200 players representing 96 nations competing for over $86 million in prize money at 53 events and four Grand Slams in 33 countries. Just last week, Kim Clijsters took home $2.2 million in prize money.
How do you like dem apples?
The first stop on the newly formed Virginia Slims tour (which would eventually become the WTA in 1973) was Stanford. Billie Jean was at the Stanford tournament in July and did a short press conference. It was absolutely awesome to be able to sit and listen to her talk about the formation of the tour and what it must have been like back in the early 70s, to risk your career and your on-court legacy, to stand up for yourself and forge what would become an incomparable legacy not only as a champion of women in sport, but of women's rights in general:
Some choice quotes:
You have to remember in 71, a lot of people weren't real happy with us when we started. A lot of players were afraid to join us. And we had two tours, two circuits, because the USTA started one against us which was very difficult at the time. I wanted everyone to be together. That was the whole intention when we started. We lost $3000 the first year. I guess that's where my prize money went. So I made zero or minus money that year. But we were very excited and very scared and we weren't sure what was going to happen to us. But it was the first tournament of the Virginia Slims series in 71.
All we wanted to do was to get professional tennis going, we weren't worried about winning majors. In fact, I must say, the tour was probably more important to us than the majors at that period of our lives. But we knew that we were taking tennis to the people and you could think about the kids who were going to come watch and could dream about playing the tournament and then going on to the majors. We knew eventually we wanted it to be international, but we had to start someplace and the opportunity was in the United States.
This was for me personally, if I had to weigh them at the time it was more important to me than just winning matches. Because I always think about things that are lasting and not just temporary. When you perform it's very temporary. When you win you get a trophy. But this is lasting. This could be passed down to future generations. And I thought that was much more important, that we could make a better life for more people this way.
When people ask me about the 70s and they ask me what's the one word that comes mind, I go "tired". I was going on about 4 hours of sleep a night. We had a lot of meetings in 71 and 72 to try and get the WTA started. A lot of things were happening. And a lot of people were happy with us, a lot of people were unhappy with us. The media was being tough, they labeled us as "crazy" because we were women. I used to say "if I were Jimmy Connors doing this you'd just say he's just trying to create opportunities as a business guy." No one ever perceives me as a business person. It's very interesting. Yet if I were a guy, they would. It's just all these things you have to deal with. But it's fun.
I wanted to start matching up the hearts and minds of people with Title IX. That was 72 and I played Bobby in 73. And tennis exploded after we played, participation wise. It became the 8th most popular sport in the country. And, the men's tour by the way, which people always forget about, got their first big television contract and the women's tour got their first big contract, in 1974 and that's because of that match. So that was a great springboard to helping our sport not only here but worldwide. People have no idea. The men never talk about it because they don't like to. It really helped the men's tour a lot, the tennis went way up and women's tennis went way up right after that match. So I'm glad I played him. I didn't want to play him. He followed me around for three years and then he beat Margaret Court so then I had to play him. So I always thanked him. Men who are in their 40s and 50s now come up to me and tell me that match changed their whole philosophy, the way they brought up their daughters.
Muchos gracias to Billie and the OG9. Without them, what ever would I spend my time snarking about?
The besties are back in action in Seoul. Here's the draw, which is headlined by Nads. Vania and Shveddy are also in the doubles draw. Tashkent is also a thing and, not that Lexi doesn't already know this, Chakky's there.
I was too busy in New York to sit down and write about J-Mac's "controversial" comments that women should play less because their minds and bodies are too weak for the game. I suppose I could have just linked to Johnette Howard's great response piece, but I actually had some thoughts on the issue so I shelved it.
To put it in J-Mac's terms, my frail little fingers just couldn't blog after my grueling tennis journey to adequately put my thoughts into words. Don't worry, John. I learned my lesson. I'll just avoid the road next time and blog from the kitchen.
But getting back to his comments, I suppose I could summarize my thoughts thusly: Huh?
So women just can't take the physicality and emotional tax of the current game. They're just injured all the time and that's because they're weak. Let's not even get into the fact that this is John McEnroe, king of emotional meltdowns, saying that women having an emotional breakdown of the court signals some mental weakness and inability to cope with the stress of the game. Not that we should be shocked. Who couldn't roll their eyes when he kept bringing up Vera's penchant for emotional meltdowns as being a signal of weakness in her game throughout her USO run.
Look, I don't disagree that the current schedule is pretty rough on players. Has it led to more injuries? Probably. But that's not the point J-Mac's making. If it was then this would have been a non-story. The point he went out of his way to make is that women, as opposed to men, can't take it. Our bodies are just too frail, our minds just so full of...nothing. We just aren't strong enough to handle the rigors of this game.
Everyone's entitled to their opinion. But let's look at some facts, shall we? Serena cut her foot in a bar brawl, Justine is out for the year because she fell down on the court, Vika bonked her head in a freak sprinting accident and had to retire from the USO. None of these players were injured due to a physical breakdown over the course of a long and grueling season. The same can't be said about the top men's players who had to skip the Open due to injuries (Delpo, Jo, Gonzo, to name a few).
Do I think the season is too long? Duh. The game is absolutely more physical today than it was 5, 10, 15 or 20 years ago. It's obvious that players' bodies are breaking down at a rate that probably wasn't happening in the past. But it's more physical for both tours and J-Mac's singling out of the women was not only insulting, it was just plain wrong. Are we really going to ignore Rafa's knees, Nole's lungs, Delpo's wrist, Jo's knees, Lleyton's hip, or Gonzo's knee when we talk about how the women can't seem to take the grind?
For every Dinara's back we have a Delpo wrist. For every Masha's shoulder we have Rafa's knees. It's equal on both sides. The game is indeed more physical, more grueling, and more punishing. And it affects everyone equally. I don't think I'm making any huge logical leaps here.
I mean, how could I? My brain is just not strong enough.
The onus is on the players to craft their schedule. Obviously the top players have more freedom to do so. They can focus on the big tournaments and not play day in and day out because they're not playing to put food on the table. The lower ranked you are the more you have to be concerned about playing to pick up paychecks.
So if Caroline wants to play 25 tournaments a year and she can handle it (which, by all metrics so far, she can), then let her. It's not the WTA's responsibility to say "No, no, no, honey. Your cute little 20 year old body can't take that. We know better than you. We're going to force you to scale it back." In the same vein, if Sam hurts her arm, realizes she's already played more matches in 2010 than she had in 2009, and wants to skip two mandatory tournaments to take a nap in Tampa, let her. If JJ sprains her ankle and chooses to play on it despite the fact that it's still hampering her, that's her perogative.
The point is that all players are different. They are individuals with different concerns, different needs, different physiologies, and different approaches to their career. Painting them all as "weak women" seems a bit on the wrong side of things. If you want to say "X" player should scale down their schedule because their body doesn't seem to be handling that amount of match play, then I suppose I wouldn't have a problem with that (assuming you had some facts to back it up). But lumping them all in a bucket? Generalize and stereotype at your peril.
I'm not naive. I know there are lots of behind the scenes considerations that drive a player's schedule. I know the top players can get a lot of pressure to play tournaments they wouldn't typically play because the tour needs to deliver a marquee player to an event. But as far as I know, the players can still say no. If I'm wrong on that then whoops.
All this is to say that I have a healthy dose of skepticism whenever some dude comes in, no matter what his name is, and advocates some sort of ceiling on their productivity or capabilities, based on his own personal biases that are not grounded in fact. Let the women play. And if they're too weak to deal with it the data will show that. But it hasn't.
Many congrats to Jarmila Groth, who clinched her first title in Guangzhou and will crack the Top 50 for the first time of her career. She's had a great summer, reaching the round of 16 at both RG and Wimbledon (whichismorethanIcansayforSambutwhateverI'moverit) and had a pretty dominant tournament, dropping only 10 games on the way to the final and firing 11 aces against Alla to win.
Her reward? A vase for her flowers and a first round match against Nadia in Seoul. Ouch.
And Tamira beat Bethanie to capture her second title in Quebec City. I'm really bummed for Bethanie. She's just such a tour stalwart and she had a heartbreaking USO. Would have loved to see her pick up a title here.
Man, I thought after the JJ/Dinara at #1 debacles of 2009 everyone would understand how tennis rankings work. But I guess with the Slam season over and ensuing tennis lull beginning, it's that time of the year for beating up on easy targets in order to bolster your big name favorites.
My Google Reader is inundated with stories with headlines that can only be summarized as follows:
"ZOMG, YOU GUYYYYYZZZ! KIM WON AND DROPPED IN THE RANKINGS BUT TEARSY CRYERSOVA JUMPED UP AND IS NOW RANKED HIGHER?!?!?! WTF!!!!!!"
Even Tennis Channel's Court Report, which could have reported on anything in its 30 second spot, decided to ZOMG Vera's ranking.
I can sit silent on the couch in my pajamas eating cold dim sum delivery watching Bones reruns no longer.
365 days. That's what the rankings measure. Your performance over the past 365 days. Not your 2010, not your last 10 years, and certainly not the public's perception of your tennis prowess. Now I'm sure that last point is really what gets into people's pants. "BUT THE RANKINGS DON'T REFLECT HOW I RANK THESE PLAYERS IN MY HEAD!!!" Well, I don't know what to tell you there, fair-weather fan. But if you actually paid attention to these players and to this sport on a weekly or daily basis, you'd see that the rankings are precisely right.
Has Kim had a better 2010 than Vera? Yes. How do we know that? Because the Race points say so. The Race points, which measure performance FOR THE SEASON, put Kim one spot ahead of Vera.
Has Kim had a better last 365 days than Vera? Not based on points. Kim won the 2009 USO and didn't play again. Vera kept playing through the fall season and picked up some points. Not a whole lot of points, but enough to put her ahead of Kim.
How does this confuse people? How does it cause hand wringing and hair pulling? I seriously don't get it. If Kim takes the rest of the year off and Vera fails to defend her points and falls behind Kim, are we going to see a bevy of "KIM IS SITTING ON THE COUCH EATING BON BONS YET SOMEHOW JUMPED A SPOT IN THE RANKINGS!!!!" articles? Doubtful.
If anything, given Kim's year, it's impressive she's as high as she is. She won Brisbane, Miami, Cincy, and the USO, sure, all fantastic and amazing performances in big tourneys. But she also got dumped from AO, IW, and Wimby, and she completely skipped the clay season, including RG. She's quickly falling into that Serena category: A player who can dominate any time she shows up, but you don't know (1) if she'll show up and (2) whether she'll bring her A game or F game.
So here's my question for everyone: Everyone likes to take a piss at the rankings system. But it's way easier to tear something down rather than offer solutions. So what's the alternative? Give more point weight to the Slams? Stop rewarding the tour stalwarts who clock in and out each and every week so that a tour even exists? Force the Serena and Kims to play more so that their rankings are more "true"? Add a qualitative element like the college football polling system? Or will the rankings system, no matter what, always be the source of easy jokes?
Weigh in in the comments. I'm genuinely curious to hear some proposals. And if you can't think of a viable proposal, maybe it's time to put down the haterade.
Lost in all the shuffle with the men's final, the ladies dubs final had to be suspended with Vania King serving in the third set at 4-5, 0-15. In other words, King/Shvedova are 3 points from losing. That's a tough spot. The match will resume at 4pm EST on Armstrong.
Nice to see Nadia anticipated the rain and brought her wetsuit, though. Always prepared, that one. Except...not really.
[whispers]Because she's crazy![/whispers]
If you missed it, check out this set of photos from Vanity Fair with our favorite "under the radar" ATP and WTAers. I think they did a great job, Sveta's Ed Hardy shirt notwithstanding. And boy, Sam, talk about a corgi-in-the-headlights look.
Oh hai. *waves*
Well, that was crazy stressful. After demolishing Errani in the first set 61, Sam got all wonky in the second set, though Errani's improved play definitely played a part in that. She was taking her returns early to try and mitigate the kick serve and it was working. Errani wasn't doing anything particularly impressive other that, but she was running down balls and making Sam hit that extra ball, which she was. Into the net. It was a thoroughly frustrating set to watch and it even elicited a loud "HIT THE BALLLLL!!!" from Sam after she sent a poorly executed (and unnecessary) forehand slice long.
And so it was on to the third set, where for whatever reason, Sara was holding easily and Sam was finding herself needing to dig out of deuce games and break points. Sara was finally able to break and served for the match at 5-4. And boy, did she feel it.
Up 40-15, she started sending in 65mph puffball first serves into Sam's forehand and Sam stepped up, hitting out on some returns and taking immediate control of the points. She ended up saving 4 match points in that game (with Sara DFing on one of them) and finally broke to even the match, eventually pulling it out, 7-4 in the tiebreaker. After the match she said that she thought Sara played really well and made her work but agreed that she may have been a bit rusty from her break.
The good news? Well in addition to living to fight on another day against the winner of Nads/Bethanie, she says her arm feels perfect. She hadn't hit more than 30 serves in any of her practices leading up to today and given the cold conditions she didn't know how it would turn out.
But it's all good. So let us breathe.
Play in both New Haven and Montreal has been rained out today. They will attempt to play the semis simultaneously tomorrow at 10am and then the final at 1pm. That's a damn rough schedule. Oh, and Pavs has withdrawn from New Haven citing hydrophobia, or as the WTA calls it, a right hip injury. So no Believe vs. Pavs match. Boo face. Mardy Fish has also withdrawn from New Haven. Not so much boo face for me, but boo face for the tournament.
I'm going to head home for the day, primarily because there are probably more tennis players at my hotel than are on the grounds right now. Also, my bed is significantly warmer than this media room.
I was warned to bring a parka. I should have listened. I never listen.
So I was chilling in the hotel lobby last night when the valet wheeled in a cart full of luggage. Typically not a big deal, right? Well this cart just happen to have a large red Babolat bag and a red Lacoste bag.
Sam's on to my game, guys. She's got decoys everywhere. It's like the Thomas Crown Affair up in this bitch.
But I remember thinking it was rather odd that Elena was just checking in her bags. Earlier that day she had played not one but two qualifying matches in her attempt to get entry into the main draw of a tournament at which she was a finalist last year. In fact, her week at New Haven last year was the week of her career. She beat Gisela, Sam, Chakky, and Momes on her way to the final where she lost to Caro. Rough that she couldn't get a wild card.
Blame Ana. Or Dinara. Or Sam. Or Nads. Someone.
So here's the explanation from her presser: Vezzie took the week off of singles last week to rest a slight injury she picked up in Cincy and decided to just play doubles in Montreal. Well, they lost in the semifinals on Friday. With qualies in New Haven on Saturday, here's what she did: She woke up at the buttcrack of dawn, took the first flight out of Montreal to New York, drove from New York straight to the New Haven grounds (about 1.5 hours) in order to get to her NOON qualifying match against Carly Gullickson. She played that three setter and won, fighting off two match points in the process. The tournament gave her two hours to rest before she was up against for a SECOND qualifying match against Bojangles, which she won in straight sets. She got an ice massage, checked into the hotel, got some rest, and then played her third qualifying match today, which was moved indoors, against Roberta Vinci. She won 64 36 63 in over two hours.
She's now in the main draw. Such is the life of a journeyman.
Oh, what's that? You want to see what the players wore to the party? Click here.
And bring some popcorn. And a sweater. Because apparently it's cold. Or so Sveta's attire tells me.
New Haven, Connecticut. I had never been and I always wanted to check out the Yale campus. So sure, why not? Especially when my favorite tennis players were scheduled to show up at the last USO warm-up tournament, the James Blake Open. Well, they try to maintain a veneer of impartiality so they call it the Pilot Pen Tennis at Yale. Doesn't exactly roll off the tongue but I can't snark too hard. Pilot G-2s have been my pen of choice for the past 15 years. No really. I still have a ziplock bag of all the stuff I took with me into the California Bar Examination. It includes 2 completely empty Pilot G-2 .05s in blue.
I'm a bit particular about my writing instruments.
Where was I? Oh yes. New Haven.
So how does one get from Mason, Ohio to New Haven, Connecticut? Well, if one is trying to do it on the cheap, one takes a cab from Mason to Dayton, takes a flight to Detroit, gets lost in conversation with a friend, sprints 20 gates to barely make a connecting flight, stew in one's own sweat for an hour and a half, lands at JFK in New York, takes the subway to Grand Central Station while watching a fellow subway rider do pull-ups between stations, races onto a crowded train to New Haven, stands for an hour and 40 minutes while desperately trying to track Rafa's match via Twitter, gets off at New Haven Union Station, waits for a trolley that never comes, and finally hops into a cab that charges $10 for a .9 mile ride to downtown New Haven.
It was a long day. I dropped my shit off in my room and headed straight for the hotel bar. But 2 hours and three drinks later, I was good as new.
The town of New Haven is, to put it kindly, rather sketch. Lots of loitering, lots of police cars and sirens, and lots of darkness at night. I get a bit nervous when there isn't ample street lighting. But I'm not here to go all Rick Steves on New Haven. I'm here to watch some tennis. And that's what I did yesterday.
After a tournament shuttle ride with the Sisters Bondarenko and Shuai Peng (K-Bond likes her Sudoku, btw), I made it to the grounds just in time to see Pico pull out a win in his first qualie match. The side courts here are fantastic. The bleachers are close to the court and which makes it very easy to take pictures and hear the players and the coaches.
I also watched Sorana destroy Alla in the first set, only to blow three match points and lose the match in an 8-6 tiebreak. She's a frustrating one to watch these days. She has the weapons but lacks the consistency, and I'm not entirely sold on her tactics at the moment. In addition, she wasn't serving particularly well, making it very difficult to hold her serve. I stood right next to her coach, who had an amazing Burberry popped collar and was Vamosing like a motherfucker. the kid was pretty sad after the match.
Oh, and Alla's on court demeanor blows. But whatever floats her boat, I guess.
Unfortunately, the practice courts are tarped off, making practice court viewing (my favorite tourney pastime) really difficult. It's better than San Diego, where they had double tarps making it impossible to watch unless you literally smushed your face up against the fence, but still not ideal. Kind of a bummer but I'm sure I'll find a way to get my Sam practice fix as the week goes on.
The grounds themselves are great. Small enough to get around fairly easily, though the main stadium is fairly large, so it's a pain to walk around. Obviously yesterday was qualies only so the crowd was pretty small. I'll be interested to see how things progress as the week goes on.
Blah is a huge part of this tournament, like it or not. He gave a pre-tourney presser today, his mom is signing autographs, there are J-Block shirts for sale, he's at every promotional event, and I heard more people were watching him practice than were watching any of the qualie matches. He's the hometown boy so it's expected. But that doesn't mean I don't scratch my head.
I mean, he's Blah.
Sunday is All Access Hour for the WTA, but because Caro is still playing in Montreal and Elena has her first round match, it will just be Sam and Fran. Fine by me. I love them both and can't wait to talk to them. Assuming that I sack up and actually say words out loud. Which...is a 50/50 proposition.
So there you go. An unnecessarily long, rambling post about New Haven. It goes best with tequila.
You'll have to excuse my indignant and astonished Californian self. See, for us, there simply is no concept of rain during the summer. It's weird. So here we are in August and it seems like rain is consistently wreaking havoc on tennis. The Canadian and Cincy championship weekends have all been wet affairs leading to a number of "what if" results. What if it hadn't rained? Would A-Rod be in the Cincy final? Would Masha have hoisted the trophy in Cincy? Would Fed have solidified himself as the front runner by winning Toronto? I know weather delays are part of the sport but sometimes they run against the notion of a "pure" result.
And so it continues in Montreal. Saturday's semifinals were essentially rained out so the ladies will have to (or try, as it may be) to play both the semis and finals on Sunday. And it looks like we're going to get some rain up here in New Haven this week.
I didn't bring my galoshes. Because I thought I was going to a tennis tournament. Not Glastonbury.
(pics: Found Shit, Daylife)
Best JJ pic ever.
So let's just run this down, for posterity's sake:
The court conditions were tough today folks, with on-court thermometers hitting the 120F mark. But you know what they say, the conditions are the same for everyone and everyone's gotta deal. JJ, the top seed at her second straight tournament, got bounced in straight sets by Akgul, denying us a JJ/Ana quarterfinal. I know that Akgul's big server, but this is a match that you expect JJ to win, using her movement and strokes to grind down her slower opponent in the blazing heat. But I guess Cincy is to Akgul as California is to Dani. She just seems to find some mojo there. The last time a qualifier made the quarters in Cincy? 2007. And yes, it was Akgul. Which means she's building quite the fan base:
A more respectable loss for Caro, losing to Mono in straights in her first tournament in the US after her run to the title in Copenhagen last week. Word on the street is that Caro's beefed up her serve. That's nice to hear, but once again she plays a match that shows that she, just like JJ and Aga, can be hit through. If the field wasn't quivering in their shoes at the thought of playing these counterpunchers before, they definitely aren't quivering now.
It'll be interesting to see how these two rebound in Montreal. Oh, and in a stroke of comedy, they'll swap places heading into to Montreal. That's right, Caro's back to #2.
FeVer and Sam Q were the surprise losers of the day. Fer had to get some medical attention on his ass in the third set. You think I'm making a joke, but I'm really not. There was a whole lot of ass massaging going on.
Totally clinical, of course. Totally.
Singles - Second Round R Nadal (ESP) d S Wawrinka (SUI) 76(12) 63
F Cermak (CZE) / M Mertinak (SVK) d R Bopanna (IND) / E Butorac (USA) 36 63 10-5
Bepa somehow survived MaKiri, who was 5-2 up in the third set before a rain delay. And Kim returned just in time to send Dinara plummeting in the rankings with her back somehow intact. She'll head into Montreal no highter than #70. Le sigh.
Singles - Second Round
(2) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) d. Sybille Bammer (AUT) 60 62
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) d. (3) Elena Dementieva (RUS) 61 63
(4) Kim Clijsters (BEL) d. Dinara Safina (RUS) 75 62
Elena Vesnina (RUS) d. (5) Francesca Schiavone (ITA) 64 64
(6) Vera Zvonareva (RUS) d. Maria Kirilenko (RUS) 75 26 76(2)
(7) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) d. Alisa Kleybanova (RUS) 64 62
(8) Li Na (CHN) d. Sara Errani (ITA) 62 62
(10) Maria Sharapova (RUS) d. Andrea Petkovic (GER) 63 61
(11) Flavia Pennetta (ITA) d. (Q) Monica Niculescu (ROU) 60 61
(12) Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) d. Gisela Dulko (ARG) 76(3) 62
(13) Shahar Peer (ISR) d. (Q) Nuria Llagostera Vives (ESP) 63 62
Ana Ivanovic (SRB) d. Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) 61 75
(WC) Christina McHale (USA) d. (Q) Ayumi Morita (JPN) 62 64
Doubles - Second Round
(4) Raymond/Stubbs (USA/AUS) d. Grandin/Spears (RSA/USA) 63 62
Mirza/Niculescu (IND/ROU) d. (5) King/Shvedova (USA/KAZ) 63 16 106
(WC) Gullickson/Gullickson (USA/USA) d. Coin/Hradecka (FRA/CZE) 62 46 105
Doubles - First Round
(7) Chan/Zheng (TPE/CHN) d. Kondratieva/Uhlirova (RUS/CZE) 63 62
Azarenka/Kirilenko (BLR/RUS) d. Kops-Jones/Rosolska (USA/POL) 75 61
Shaughnessy/Vesnina (USA/RUS) d. Amanmuradova/Dushevina (UZB/RUS) 46 64 107
Or maybe God's a gay man. You know what? Let's go with that.
Singles - First Round
[WC] P Polansky (CAN) d  J Melzer (AUT) 76(6) 64
 N Almagro (ESP) d [Q] I Marchenko (UKR) 75 57 64
 M Youzhny (RUS) d G Simon (FRA) 64 64
[Q] M Russell (USA) vs  S Querrey (USA) - postponed to Tuesday
S Stakhovsky (UKR) d R Gasquet (FRA) 75 61
V Hanescu (ROU) d [WC] M Raonic (CAN) 64 64
T Robredo (ESP) d [Q] J Nieminen (FIN) 61 64
T de Bakker (NED) d F Lopez (ESP) 76(2) 63
E Gulbis (LAT) d T Bellucci (BRA) 61 64
J Chela (ARG) d A Falla (COL) 60 63
J Benneteau (FRA) d [Q] D Istomin (UZB) 64 64
[Q] K Anderson (RSA) d L Mayer (ARG) 76(2) 64
A Dolgopolov (UKR) vs P Petzschner (GER) - postponed to Tuesday
Doubles - First Round
[WC] V Pospisil (CAN) / M Raonic (CAN) d N Djokovic (SRB) / R Nadal (ESP) 57 63 10-8
P Kohlschreiber (GER) / G Monfils (FRA) d R Hutchins (GBR) / A Murray (GBR) 63 62
S Aspelin (SWE) / P Hanley (AUS) d [WC] F Dancevic (CAN) / A Shamasdin (CAN) 75 76(3)
J Benneteau (FRA) / M Llodra (FRA) d J Nieminen (FIN) / R Soderling (SWE) 63 75
As for the ladies, the Bestie success overshadowed some unfortunate results. Bojangles upset WeatherVane, which theoretically opens up JJ's quarter even more than it already was. And in not surprising but kinda bummer news, Sabine and Kimiko-Tan are out.
Singles - First Round
Ana Ivanovic (SRB) d. (9) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 26 76(6) 62
(13) Shahar Peer (ISR) d. Olga Govortsova (BLR) 63 41 ret. (heat illness)
(Q) Bojana Jovanovski (SRB) d. (14) Aravane Rezai (FRA) 46 63 64
(16) Marion Bartoli (FRA) d. Anabel Medina Garrigues (ESP) 64 60
Alisa Kleybanova (RUS) d. Alexandra Dulgheru (ROU) 64 64
Alona Bondarenko (UKR) d. Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) 36 62 63
Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) d. (Q) Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS) 75 64
Dinara Safina (RUS) d. Roberta Vinci (ITA) 75 64
Sara Errani (ITA) d. (WC) Jamie Hampton (USA) 64 62
(Q) Vera Dushevina (RUS) d. (Q) Anastasia Rodionova (AUS) 62 76(7)
(Q) Ayumi Morita (JPN) d. Arantxa Parra Santonja (ESP) 76(7) 62
(Q) Monica Niculescu (ROU) d. Sabine Lisicki (GER) 63 60
(Q) Akgul Amanmuradova (UZB) d. (Q) Kimiko Date Krumm (JPN) 61 62
(Q) Nuria Llagostera Vives (ESP) d. (Q) Vania King (USA) 36 63 61
Doubles - First Round
(WC) Gullickson/Gullickson (USA/USA) d. (6) Kleybanova/Makarova (RUS/RUS) 36 61 108
Mirza/Niculescu (IND/ROU) d. (WC) Hampton/Oudin (USA/USA) 64 76(5)
Coin/Hradecka (USA/CZE) d. Craybas/Gallovits (USA/ROU) 64 76(5)
My good buddy Bobby Chintapalli (we're giving DinAna a run for the Besties Crown) is in Cincy this week walking the grounds for Tennis.com. You can follow her on Twitter (@bobbychin) and be sure to check out her dispatches from the grounds. It's like being perched atop that pathetic Cubs hat she insists on sporting.
Seriously, and you wonder why she's Elena Dementieva's #1 fan. Talk about a masochist.
The shit gets real this week as the USO Series gets two top level mandatory events for the men and women. The top ladies, sans Serena (foot), Venus (knee), and Sam (forecep) are in Cincy and my big question is whether Vika and Masha can back up their form and results from Stanford. They both took last week off.
As for JJ, THE NUMBER TWO PLAYER IN THE WORLD (it's on her business cards), she'll get a chance to rebound from her loss to Kleybs in the second round of San Diego. She blamed the loss on her injured ankle, which she said she couldn't practice on at SD, but she's been on the courts in Cincy. So...I'm assuming it's better? I guess we'll get the definitive answer if she loses, which she shouldn't, seeing as how she's got two qualifiers in the first two rounds. Then again, if I'm one of those qualifiers, I'm smelling blood.
Cincy also sees Kim returning to action. I mean, who knows how that's going to turn out. And Aga will be playing her third tourney in three weeks. I get that she's fit now and everything, but she was fiddling with her foot throughout yesterday's final.
Early round jaw droppers: Sveta vs. Masha, Ana vs. Vika, Flavia vs. Zheng. Other fun ones: Dani vs. Pavs, Petko vs. Coq au Vin. If only because I get to keep using that nickname.
Here's a fun game: Who will get dumped out first: Aga or Franny. Discuss.
Cincy draw and OOP.
Center Court (from 11.00hrs)
1. Vania King vs. Nuria Llagostera Vives
2. Dinara Safina vs. Roberta Vinci
3. Marion Bartoli vs. Anabel Medina Garrigues
4. Victoria Azarenka vs. Ana Ivanovic (NB 19.20hrs)
5. Gullickson/Gullickson vs. Kleybanova/Makarova
Grandstand (from 11.00hrs)
1. Monica Niculescu vs. Sabine Lisicki
2. Jamie Hampton vs. Sara Errani
3. Shahar Peer vs. Olga Govortsova
4. Mirza/Niculescu vs. Hampton/Oudin
5. Craybas/Gallovits vs. Coin/Hradecka (NB 19.00hrs)
Court 3 (from 11.00hrs)
1. Bojana Jovanovski vs. Aravane Rezai
2. Dominika Cibulkova vs. Alona Bondarenko
3. Alisa Kleybanova vs. Alexandra Dulgheru
4. Ayumi Morita vs. Arantxa Parra Santonja
Court 4 (from 11.00hrs)
1. Kimiko Date Krumm vs. Akgul Amanmuradova
2. Vera Dushevina vs. Anastasia Rodionova
3. Yaroslava Shvedova vs. Alla Kudryavtseva
As for the dudes, we've got a sausage smorgasbord in Toronto, as all the top guys are in action. So far, the story has been Rafa and Nole playing dubs together, starting tonight, but apart from that piece of marketing genius it feels like a whole lot of "wait and see". Rafa and Roger are on opposite sides of the draw and can't meet until the finals but each of the top four will have some work to do to get there. Ok, maybe not Nole. His draw is pretty cake. He just has to survive himself.
Rafa's got A-Rod is his quarter (and Sam Q in his 1/8), Moose has Sodz (who, incidentally, could move up to #4 depending on how those two do here), Fed has Big Berd, and Nole has the Broken Playstation.
Match I want to see: Nalby vs. Sod (R3). Hell, how about Ernie vs. Sod (R2)?
Match you couldn't pay me to watch: Fabio vs. Radek (R1). Barf.
Toronto draw and OOP:
Despite the fact that my stable of Ana, Dinara, and Sam kind of crashed and burned, this tournament is shaping up nicely as we hit Championship weekend. Sure, it's not so much a "casual fan" tourney so much as a "tennis nerd" tourney, but hey, I'm a tennis nerd. This will do.
Along with Flavia we have Dani (whee!), who's beaten Mono and Kleybs to make it, Sveta, who, while shaky, still managed to come through and make her first semi of the year (crazy!), and Aga, who has clearly been zoning for the past two weeks, demolishing Shahar under the lights last night.
This isn't a horrible group of four. I'm genuinely ok with any of them winning.
But really, go Flavi and Dani!
Since I skipped tonight's night session, which saw Bepa get upset by Coco Vandeweghe (or "Coq au Vin", as Katie was calling her), I finally have time to sit down, somewhat sober, and give you the deets on the last three days in San Diego. It's been a blast.
MaKiri had herself quite the day, kicking off the morning with some practice with Kimiko, then spending almost three hours on court to win her singles match over a qualifier, and capping it all off with a super-tiebreak win in doubles, teaming up with Jay-Z to form what is hands-down the most adorable doubles team ever.
Pics after the jump:
It's 2pm, I'm on the couch in my pajamas staring at a pile of toasty laundry trying decide what I need to pack for my week-long sojourn to San Diego. It's stressing me out already.
But then I remembered I can keep procrastinating by summarizing my last three days covering Stanford. It was a blast.
And that's all she wrote for now. It was a really fun week and it was privilege to be there. I did my best to stay out of everyone's way and I think I succeeded. I hope that everyone enjoyed the coverage and I did the tennis fan/blogosphere proud. Hopefully tournaments will come to see the value that we add and come to a better understanding of what this new breed of tennis fans want.
The ball kids here at Stanford really take their jobs seriously. But that doesn't mean they don't notice what goes on on-court. Chris Oddo interviewed some ball kids this week. His results kind of surprised me.
I guess Ana wasn't here long enough to make an impression. She *always* wins these things.
MaKiri and Aga are taking the court as Quarterfinal Friday kicks off here in sunny ol' Stanford. The weather here, barring that first super chilly night, has been perfect. I haven't even needed a heavy sweatshirt at night. Then again, I run warm. Some might say "I'm hotter than you."
Fuck! Did I just make a Jacob joke?
So now we get the quarterfinals. Aga has just bageled MaKiri to book her spot in the semis. So much for my darkhorse pick. She'll play the winner of Masha/Elena. Mono and Vika will be taking the court soon. Thankfully I was able to catch Sam during practice today. She looked great.
But what do I know.
Everyone knows Wednesday's are the worst. They're right in the middle of the week and the one day that's furthest from the weekend. Today was no different at Stanford. It was a fairly straightforward day, with a little added drama thanks to Lena and Kimiko. But really, it was a quiet one. All the seeds came through without too much trouble and as the field gets smaller, the practice courts aren't the buzzing hotbed of activity they were over the weekend.
That's the report from Wednesday. Excited Ana tonight. Ana's got a 3-0 H2H against Marion but they haven't played since her title run in Linz in 2008. It'll be another tough flat hitter. Her newfound agility is going to get tested. No result out of this match would surprise me.
But the match that everyone in the media center is buzzing about is Vika vs. Believe. Vika's got a .702 winning percentage on hard courts, which is 6th best among active players. I think that's stat is a little misleading. It has to have been accumulated during the first half of the season, from Australia through Miami. Vika's shown a clear tendency to peter off towards the end of the season. And Believe? Well...she believes. So look out for that one.
Ok, MaKiri's just taken the first set over Shahar 6-4. Going to go roam the grounds.
I had the pleasure of meeting up with Nick McCarvel of Tennis Served Fresh today. TSF was one of the first tennis blogs I started reading so I was happy to find that the people behind it are as advertised: hilarious, witty, and super knowledgable about this little yellow fuzzy ball sport we all know and love.
I will forever be in his debt for finding this. We bonded over our love of Lynn:
For when you can't afford to be comfortably numb, Comfortably Lynn.
It was clear after the four straight breaks to start the match that this one wasn't going to be all that predictable. By the middle of the first set Kimiko was in the zone, hitting flat and hard with her "ping pong" shots (Elena's words, not mine) and getting to the net when she could. It was inspired stuff. By the second set Lena had made the necessary adjustments. This was the first time the two had met and it Elena some time to implement a game plan that involved getting the ball deep. Kimiko was getting quite a bit of pop on any ball that she could lean into. Kimiko raced out to a 2-0 lead before Elena reeled off four straight games and eventually took the set.
The third set would see two players go on streaks of good and bad, with Elena building a 3-0 lead and Kimiko clawing back to 2-3. From there it was a battle of grit and will, as each had chances to break. But they would trade holds until Elena served it out.
The match ended on a bit of a sour note. Elena hit a ball that looked out, no call was made, Kimiko hit it, looked at the line judge, and Elena hit a winner. Kimiko looked up and pleaded to the umpire for a challenge, but to no avail. GSM, ED. In her post-match presser with Japanese media she looked gutted. She had clearly had a good cry in the locker room. She fought like a champ until the end. Her technique let her down but her intensity and competitive fire was there. The new generation of WTAers could learn a lot of her.
As for Elena, it wasn't a bad match considering it was her first match since Roland Garros. She was strong off the baseline, the serve looked ok (not great, but ok) and her movement was good. She'll probably play Shazza in the quarterfinals if Shaz beats Govortsova tomorrow. That match will be a good test for both, though I tap Maria to come on top. She's going to feast on on Lena's serve.
A bit late with my Tuesday recap. This week, I've somehow developed the same bad habit I had as a lawyer: I forget to eat. So I stopped at a neighborhood 24 hour diner (Sparky's!), wolfed down a patty melt and two Newcastles in, like, 30 minutes, and crashed out for the night. The rest was *much* needed after going off 2-3 hours of sleep for the prior three days. I've just powered down two slices of pizza and I'm watching the shambolic break-fest that is Kimiko vs. Lena. Oh wait...hold... on...Kimiko gets the first hold of the night at 3-2.
But enough about me. Let's talk about me.
Well look at that. Kimiko just took the first set 63. I guess I should check this out. I don't know. I really want to see a Masha/Lena quarterfinal.
Talk back soon,
Another great day at Stanford, even if the temps did dip when the sun went down. It's really hard to tweet on an iPhone when your hands are shaking uncontrollably.
AUUUUUUUUUGH. You're awesome, but AUUUUUUUUUUUUGH.
Hmmm...how to sum up this match? Kimiko was up 2-0 in the first set but Dinara was able to win it 64. When Kimiko served for the second set, Dinara broke her to force a tiebreak. Which she lost. 7-0. The third set was tight early on before Kimiko went on an absolute tear, painting lines, firing aces, and basically breaking Dinara's spirit. There would be no crying out to the heavens, cracking of racquets, or screaming into hands.
There was, however, when appropriate, a hell of a lot of vamosing. Which was pretty funny and thoroughly confusing to the crowd.
Call it zen, call it resigned. From perspective it was more uncertainty than anything else. Uncertainty about her game and uncertainty regarding how to do with Kimiko's game. Dinara's serve was pretty atrocious. But apart from that, this was a good quality tennis match. Extremely entertaining rallies and fight from both players. Mucho credit to Kimiko, obvs. She didn't wilt and she brought the fight to Dinara.
But don't worry about our little Coconut. She seemed ok after the match:
"It was my first match back from injury, so I am pretty positive and will keep working hard and try to improve day by day. My back feels fine and that is the most important thing for me and I will continue working hard."
Honestly, between all the positive third-party reports (from Elena and Ana) about Dinara's current state of mental health and that quote, I think Dinara fans should be on the positive tip.
Onwards to San Diego, where her cardboard twin awaits.
Video clips of the match after the jump.
It's 3:25am so I'm going to have to make this a bit short. Some notables from today:
Confession: I love Stanford. I'm not talking about the tournament. I'm talking about the university. See, when I was a kid my parents didn't have a lot of money. So they had to come up with cheap ways to entertain my kid sister and I on the weekends. This mainly involved the four of us piling into our green Volkswagon bus and going on road trips. When I was nine years old we visited Stanford for the first time. It was the first university or college I had ever visited and I thought it was the absolute coolest thing. We biked around the campus, visited the Rodin Sculpture Garden, went into Memorial Church, and I absolutely fell in love. I ended up doing a California history report on the school in fifth grade, would go to sports camps here in middle school and high school, and drive an hour and fifteen minutes on a school night to see a Stanford Women's Volleyball game or basketball game. Hell, in high school I would drive to Stanford and study at the library.
It's pathetic, I know.
All his is to say, given my love for the school, I'm kind of predisposed to absolutely blow sunshine up this tournament's ass. The minute I hopped out of my car and smelled the eucalyptus in the air, I had a stupid grin on my face.
So with that in mind, here's my report after Day 1 of Qualies:
So Day 1 is in the books and it was a huge success. Mainly because I didn't make a fool of myself. Well, except for that whole Ana/Kleybs business.
Can't wait for tomorrow. More qualies, more practice, a Dinara/Jay-Z photo op on the Stanford Campus, and All-Access Hour.
Just a reminder, you can get my random musings in real time by following me on Twitter.
See, this is why you can't have nice things, Bad Gastein.
Kudos for all the ladies for being game.
You are so not in the trust tree right now, Cone. I can't even look at you.
These are tennis players. I think.
See the full gallery here.
Alright guys, here's your chance. I want to try to give you what you want. So here we go.
What questions do you want me to ask the players at Stanford. And I'm actually being serious here.
No, Curtis, I won't be asking Ana if she'll marry you.
I'll be attending the All-Access hour with Sam, Lena, Bepa, and A-Rad on Sunday. I'll also be around for pressers and may get a chance to request one-on-one interviews with some of the players. I'll also put some calls out on Twitter as the tournament progresses.
Let's use our powers for good, this time. Leave your suggestions in the comments or feel free to email them to me.
Interesting article on J-Cap with lots of quotage from Chrissie, Pam, and Gimeldouche. I'm not even going attempt to both psychoanalyze her or sketch out what I think she needs to do get back on track. That would be completely uncalled for and atrociously arrogant. All I will say is this: It would be a tremendous act of luck if she had endured the career that she had and came out "normal". I mean, it's nice that Chris Evert acknowledges that she let her down, but that apology and $.25 will get you a gumball.
J-Cap has always been a fighter. I hope she's able to channel that tenacity positively. Because from personal experience I know that life pretty much blows when you spend all your energy fighting yourself and everyone else. Best of luck to her. It ain't easy and it ain't an overnight process.
According to a poll, five of the USA's top 10 favorite female athletes is a tennis player. Man, Americans still really love Anna K? And I call BS on Danica Patrick. I have never heard ANYONE say they liked her.
But yay Mia! Before there was Sam Stosur, or my dog Chase, there was Mia Hamm, the most reluctant sports superstar ever.
Oh, and thanks YouTube. I haven't seen this in, well, 11 years.
One of my favorite sports marketing commercials of all time.
While the rest of us are taking a much needed break from the intense first half of the season, the journeymen and women of the ATP and WTA keep plugging away with success. How do you define a journeyman? To me it's someone who literally plays tennis for a living. They probably don't have coffers of cash to fall back on from prior Slam/Masters/Premier wins, or an easy payday from sponsors that allow them to play tennis without too much stress over how they're going to afford their apartment at home. These are the men and women who plug away week in and week out, picking up paychecks wherever they can. Glory may come every once in a while, but really, they're playing to win matches so that they pay to get to their next tournament. You have to tip your cap to them.
So big ups to Albie, for taking the title in Stuttgart. Sure, Gael had to retire due to an ankle injury he sustained in the first set. But Albie plugged away all week, played some quality tennis, and walks away with a pretty swanky Merc. Maybe it's just the lawyer in me but all I can think whenever I see prizes like that is "Shit, the taxes are gonna suck."
And how about the month Kaia's had? She's someone that has to play with confidence to win and she seems to be putting it together. People seem to forget that just over a year ago she was ranked #18 in the world and she was a legitimate upset threat at any tournament she entered. Nice to see her back-up her win over Sam at Wimbly with a solid run in London and now a tournament title in Palermo.
And Agnes! You keep giving me false hope that you're on your way back, but I'll take it, even if you insist on wearing the samurai headband.
And then there was Nico, who beat Sod in his own backyard in Bastaad. Sod wasn't all too happy about it.
I get being pissed at the umpire, but come on. At least congratulate your opponent.
Aravane picked up her second title of the season, beating Gisela in three sets. How's this for a stat: WeatherVane is 4-0 when she makes the final of a tournament. If I were a betting man, I'd keep that stat in mind in the future.
The dubs final offered a bit of redemption for both Olivia and Flavs (Flavs lost 3 and 1 to her in the semis) as they picked up their fourth title of the year. It's starting to look like we're going to see them in Doha. That should be fun. I hope they get to go shopping again.
Guess who's gonna be firing hard-hitting questions at the likes of Masha, Dinara, Ana, and Sam?
That's right. The Tennis Gods, for whom I have slaved away for over two years, have finally seen fit to reward my efforts. I've been granted a press credential for the Bank of the West Classic, held right in my backyard at the school I always dreamed of attending, at the end of the month. I have no idea what FD coverage is going to look like but it sure will be fun. The entry list is already stacked with a stable of FD faves.
I just wanted to thank all of you FD readers who have been extremely kind and supportive. You're the reason I got the pass. I mean, I have to report page views and whatnot in the media application. No doubt that you all "clicked" me through the door. I'll do my best to represent the FD Nation well.
Now, if you'll pardon me, I have to find a pinstripe suit, a hat, and rogueshly handsome foil who talks a mile a minute. It's time to unleash my inner Rosalind Russell.