Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sharapova goes to Stanford final

Tonight in Stanford, 5th seed Maria Sharapova defeated 3rd seed Agnieszka Radwanska 1-6, 6-2, 6-2. As always, Radwanska was like a gnat that Sharapova kept swatting, but that would not go away.

It always frustrates me to watch the Polish number 1 because she has a clever, top-level game--one of my very favorites to watch--that is neutralized by her almost total lack of a second serve. In tonight's match, Radwanska stayed steady and let Sharapova make a number of errors. But the 5th seed slowly found her groove, and--though it took her five match points--won the match after a two-hour fight. Sharapova hit 40 winners and made 40 unforced errors, which pretty much says it all.

In tomorrow's final, Sharapova will play Victoria Azarenka (whom she has suddenly begun emulating by screaming when she misses a shot), the tournament's 8th seed, who is playing with a wild card.

Top qualifying seed Date Krumm out of San Diego qualifying

Kimiko Date Krumm, the top seed in the San Diego qualifying draw, was defeated today in the first round of qualifying. Jamie Hampton beat Date Krumm 6-2, 7-6. Also going out in the first round were Alison Riske, who lost to 2nd seed Alla Kudryattseva, 3rd seed Ayumi Morita, who lost to Olga Savchuk, and Michelle Larcher De Brito, who was defeated by Madison Brengle.

Stanford semifinals a piece of cake for the birthday girl

"I think I just have long arms and long legs," Victoria Azarenka told ESPN today, when asked how she is able to so routinely and successfully return the serve of Sam Stosur. Azarenka, who turns 21 today, gave herself the gift of a straight sets win against Stosur in today's Stanford semifinals. Her 6-2, 6-3 victory over the tournament's top seed makes her 4-0 against Stosur, against whom she has yet to drop a set.

Yesterday, Azarenka defeated defending champion Marion Bartoli, and is now 4-0 against her, too. Azarenka has yet to lose a set to the Frenchwoman.

Azarenka has struggled for much of the season with injuries to both her leg and her hamstring muscle, but she has looked wonderful in Stanford this week. Though Stosur's heavy topsin and high-kicking balls do damage to the majority of players, Azarenka handles them with ease. Stosur, unfortunately, has now established a pattern in which she waits too long to increase her aggression in a match. That happened today against Azarenka, whose momentum was hard to stop.

Azarenka, seeded 8th in Stanford, has not won a title this year, but she has played in two finals. In tomorrow's final, she will play either Maria Sharapova or Agnieszka Radwanska.

Pavlyuchenkova to play Vesnina in Istanbul final

3rd seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova defeated Jarmila Groth 7-6, 2-6, 7-5 in the Istanbul semifinals today, setting up a final against Elena Vesnina. Groth served for the match at 5-4 in the third set, but was broken.

The other semifinal, between Vesnina and Andrea Petkovic, has one of those strange scorelines you see from time to time: 1-6, 6-0, 7-6. Petkovic led 3-0 in the third set, but Vesnina caught up, and served for the match at 5-3. Petkovic broke her, and the match wound up in a tiebreak, which seemed just right, considering the odd course it had taken. Vesnina went up 5-0 before Petkovic even scored in the tiebreak, and eventually won it, 7-2.

The talented Vesnina has never won a tour title; Pavlyuchenkova has won one title.

Sharapova defeats Dementieva in Stanford

In the all-Russian quarterfinal played last night in Stanford, 2nd seed Elena Dementieva and 5th seed Maria Sharapova engaged in a baseline challenge that had both of them playing inconsistently and making quite a few errors. Dementieva's service motion looked like something she picked up from the Bartoli school, though, at times--when it looked the most awkward--it worked for her. Sharapova demonstrated improved movement throughout the match, and she and Dementieva did provide fans with some dramatic rallies. Even on their not-so-good days, these two display talent.

It took them 2 hours and 47 minutes to play the match, and when it was over, the 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 victory belonged to Sharapova. The 5th seed double-faulted 15 times, however, so there is still an issue with her serve.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Top seed Stosur advances to Stanford semifinals

There were dramatic reversals of fortune in the Stanford quarterfinals today. In defending champion Marion Bartoli's match against Victoria Azarenka, Bartoli could do almost nothing wrong for a set and a half. Serving well and hitting the laser-like returns of serve for which she is known, the 4th seed dominated Azarenka for some time. With Bartoli, though, you never know whether one of two things is going to occur--she could become injured, or her serve could go to pieces. Today, it was the latter. Even so, Bartoli was up 3-1 in the final set, but she had so much difficulty with her serve that 8th-seeded Azarenka was able to overcome her and win the match 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. Azarenka is now 4-0 against Bartoli.

Azarenka's opponent in the semifinals will be top seed Sam Stosur, who faced a tough challenge from 7th seed Yanina Wickmayer. Both players served at a very high level during the first two sets. Stosur took the first one, 7-5, and Wickmayer won the second, 6-3. Wickmayer got off to an early lead in the third set. In fact, she led 2-0, 40-15, and then--in the course of four breaks of serve--Stosur edged ahead, taking the final set 6-3.

3rd seed Agnieszka Radwanska and Maria Kirilenko played a tight first set, which Radwanska won, 7-5. In the second set, though, Kirilenko served poorly and did not win one game.

Semifinal draw set in Istanbul

3rd seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova defeated Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 6-2 today in Istanbul, setting up a semifinal contest against Jarmila Groth. Groth defeated Vera Dushevina 7-5, 6-2.

The other semifinal will be played between 6th seed Andrea Petkovic and Elena Vesnina. Petkovic defeated Elena Baltacha 6-4, 6-0, and Vesnina defeated Anastasia Rodionova 7-5, 6-1.

Quote of the week

"Andrea Petkovic's father seems like a father type that we need to see more often on the tour. He's helping his daughter on and off court without forgetting that he should be there as a father first. I do like when parents are able to back off at times and let their 'little princesses' grow up by their own mistakes. So as a result, we see someone like Andrea Petkovic, who is not only a great tennis player but is also very intelligent and funny, and interested in different parts of life other than just tennis."
Ipek Senoglu

Friday cat blogging--fleece hideaway edition

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Baltacha defeats Schiavone in Istanbul

Elena Baltacha defeated top seed Francesca Schiavone 6-4, 6-2 today in the second round of the Istanbul Cup. Also going out was Johanna Larsson, who has made a bit of a splash on the tour lately. Larsson was defeated 6-4, 6-4 by Sorana Cirstea. 3rd seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Jarmila Groth also advanced to the next round.

In Stanford, defending champion and 4th seed Marion Bartoli won her second round match against wild card Ana Ivanovic in straight sets. 5th seed Maria Sharapova defeated Olga Govortsova, 8th seed (and wild card) Victoria Azarenka defeated Melanie Oudin, and Maria Kirilenko upset Shahar Peer twice. In singles, she defeated 6th seed Peer, and in doubles, she and partner Azarenka defeated 3rd seeds Peer and Alisa Kleybanova.

Kuznetsova hires Courteau

World number Svetlana Kuznetsova has retained Loic Courteau to be her coach. For many years, Courteau coached Kuznetsova's friend and doubles partner, Amelie Mauresmo. Under his guidance, Mauresmo won the Sony Ericsson Championships, the Australian Open and Wimbledon.


The Kansas City Explorers are the 2010 World Team Tennis champions. It is the first championship for the team. Jarmila Groth was named the final's Most Valuable Player. Groth, who won all three of her sets, played doubles with Kveta Peschke.

Charleston, South Carolina, Atlanta, Georgia and Richmond, Virginia are the three finalists of the ten cities nominated by the USTA as the 2010 Best Tennis Town. The winning city, to be announced next month, will get $100,000 worth of tennis equipment to be used in its tennis community. 2010 Family Circle Cup champion Sam Stosur said: "Charleston certainly felt like the Best Tennis Town in America when I won the title in April, and it's definitely one of my favorite events on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour because the city is so beautiful, and the fans are very knowledgeable and supportive of the sport."

Ana Ivanovic says she is "a little hurt and disappointed" that she did not receive a wild card into Rogers Cup competition. Ivanovic will have to qualify to get into the main draw.

Sarah Unke writes about the struggles of Anna Chakvetadze.

Vera Zvonareva withdrew from the Bank of the West Classic because of a minor leg injury, but she plans to play in San Diego.

Here is an interview with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pironkova out of Istanbul in 2nd round

Those of us who were hoping Tsvetana Pironkova's great Wimbledon run might help her turn a corner may have to wait. The 5th seed was defeated 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 in Istanbul today by Anastasia Rodionnova.

Also advancing were 6th seed Andrea Petkovic (def. Ekaterina Makarova), Elena Vesnina (def. Stephanie Voegele) and Vera Dushevina (def. Anastasija Sevastova).

Meanwhile, in Stanford, top seed Samantha Stosur defeated qualifier Christina McHale 6-1, 7-5, and advanced to the third round.

Raymond and Stubbs upset in Stanford

The top-seeded doubles team in Stanford, Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs, were upset yesterday in the first round by Raquel Kops-Jones and Sarah Borwell. Kops-Jones and Borwell defeated the 1st seeds 6-0, 4-6, 12-10.

5th seed Maria Sharapova won a close (6-4, 7-5) match against Zheng Jie, and Melanie Oudin defeated 2008 Stanford champion Aleksandria Wozniak 6-7, 7-5, 6-3. Oudin was down 1-5 in the second set, and saved a match point, and she was also down 1-3 in the third.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Date Krumm defeats Safina in first round of Stanford play

The situation wasn't as dramatic this time: It wasn't the French Open, and Kimiko Date Krumm wasn't wincing in pain and forced to move on one leg. The outcome was the same, however. Last night, in the first round of the Bank of the West Classic, Date Krumm defeated the former world number 1 4-6, 7-6 (0), 6-2.

Safina led 5-4 in the second set, and appeared to be on her way to winning the match. Neither player was serving especially well, but Kimiko Date broke through to force a third set, in which Safina did not hold serve one time.

Safina, who has had serious problems with her back for months, is currently ranked number 35 in the world.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Quote of the day

"I didn't watch because I was too disappointed I wasn't there. I didn't want to know who won."
Elena Dementieva, referring to Wimbledon

Rain delays play in Istanbul

It rained in Istanbul today, but not before 4th seed Yaroslava Shvedova was defeated 6-4, 7-6 by Stephanie Voegele. Also advancing to the second round were 6th seed Andrea Petkovic and Vera Dushevina.

In Stanford, Jamie Hampton--who knocked Bethanie Mattek-Sands out of qualifying--got knocked out herself by countrywoman Christina McHale. 3rd seed Agnieszka Radwanska advanced to the second round, as did Dominika Cibulkova and Olga Govortsova. wild card Ana Ivanovic also moved to the second round, after defeating Alisa Kleybanova 6-3, 6-2.

In Stanford doubles, Victoria Azarenka and Maria Kirilenko defeated Yanina Wickmayer and Daniela Hantuchova 6-1, 7-5.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hampton takes Mattek-Sands out of Stanford qualifying

Jamie Hampton, who has been a dominant player on the ITF circuit this year, made it through the second round of Bank of the West qualifying today by defeating second qualifying seed Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-4, 6-3.

Michelle Larcher De Brito and Alison Riske also lost in the second round. Larcher De Brito lost to the top seed, Chang Kai-Chen.

Also this weekend, Heather Watson won her second ITF title, a $25k tournament in Wrexham, Wales. Watson defeated Sania Mirza 6-2, 6-4.

Chakvetadze wins Slovenia Open

It's been a long time since we've seen Anna Chakvetadze's name next to the word "champion," but today in Portoroz, she won her eighth Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title. The former world number 6 defeated Johanna Larsson 6-1, 6-2.

Chakvetadze is currently ranked number 103 in the world, but that will change this week.

Goerges wins Gastein Ladies

Today in Bad Gastein, Julia Goerges played her delayed semifinal match against Alize Cornet, and won it, 6-1, 6-4. She then defeated Timea Bacsinszky 6-1, 6-4 in the final. This is Goerges' first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles title.

2nd seeds Lucie Hradecka and Anabel Medina Garrigues won the doubles title, defeating 4th seeds Bacsinszky and Tathiana Garbin 6-7, 6-1, 10-5.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

1st rounds of interest in Stanford

The Bank of the West Classic, the first tournament in the U.S. Open Series, begins Monday, and there are a few first rounds of interest; indeed, there may be more once the qualifiers are placed. For now, here are some matches to watch:

Alisa Kleybanova vs. Ana Ivanovic: Ivanovic has a wild card for this event, and she didn't exactly get lucky, drawing Kleybanova in the first round. I have wondered before: How far could the Russian go if she were in a bit better shape and exercised more control over her shots? That question stands, but even at her current level, she can be a formidable opponent.

Melanie Oudin vs. Aleksandra Wozniak: They have played each other only once, in Charleston, and Oudin won decisively. Wozniack, a former Stanford champion, has regained some of her form, however, and this match could be close.

Shahar Peer (6)  vs. Daniela Hantuchova: This could be the "popcorn match" of the first round.

Kimiko Date Krumm vs. Dinara Safina: This is a match of interest because Date Krumm, in pain and with one functioning leg, took Safina out in the first round of the French Open.

Chakvetadze and Larsson to play in Portoroz final

Anna Chakvetadze defeated 7th seed Palona Hercog 0-6, 6-2, 6-2 today in Portoroz, putting her into a final against Johanna Larsson. Larsson won her semifinal match by retirement when her opponent, Ksenia Pervak, sustained an injury to her wrist.

2nd seeds Maria Kondratieva and Vladamira Uhlirova won the doubles championship. They defeated Chakvetadze and Marina Erakovic 6-4, 2-6, 10-7.

Lisicki not able to return to the tour right now

Sabine Lisicki had announced, some time ago, that she would resume playing in Portoroz. Obviously, she did not do so. She was packed and ready to go, she says, but a last-minute visit to the doctor ended her plans to play in the Slovenia Open. Lisicki's physician told her that if she played, she would be doing so at risk, so now she is waiting for a medical go-ahead to return to the tour.

Rain delays completion of semifinals in Bad Gastein

2nd seed Timea Bacsinszky won her semifinal match, 1-6, 6-4, 6-3, against Yvonne Meusburger today in Bad Gastein, but the second singles match, between Alize Cornet and Julia Goerges, could not be played because of rain.

One doubles semifinal was played: Bacsinszky and Tathiana Garbin, the 4th seeds, defeated top seeds Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 7-5, 2-6, 10-8. The other semifinal match will feature 2nd seeds Lucie Hradecka and Anabel Medina Garrigues against the 3rd seeds, Julia Goerges and Anna-Lena Groenefeld.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Chakvetadze in Slovenia Open semifinals

Anna Chakvetadze continued creating good results today in Slovenia when she upset 6th seed Vera Dushevina and thereby secured a spot in the semifinals. 3rd seed Anna Pavlyuchenkova, however, was defeated in straight sets by Johanna Larsson.

In doubles, Chakvetadze and Marina Erakovic upset 3rd seeds Pavlyuchenkova and Anastasia Rodionova.

In Bad Gastein, Alize Cornet moved to the semifinals with a win over Patricia Mayr.

Update on Jankovic injury

Jelena Jankovic says that the ankle injury she sustained at the Slovenia Open does not appear to be serious. She is undergoing some rehab, and expects to be in San Diego in early August.

Friday cat blogging--afternoon nap edition

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Petkovic upset in Bad Gastein

Top seed and defending champion Andrea Petkovic lost in the second round in Bad Gastein today. Petkovic was defeated 6-2, 7-5 by Alize Cornet, who was down 3-5 in the second set and saved three set points.

Also advancing were wild card Patricia May--who defeated 7th seed Tathiana Garbin--Julia Goerges, and Yvonne Meusburger.

The player party was held in Casino Bad Gastein; the photos are worth checking out.

Jankovic injured in Portoroz

Top seed Jelena Jankovic turned her ankle today at the Slovenia Open, during her second round match against Anastasiya Yakimova. Jankovic retired during the third set.

Ksenia Pervak defeated her friend, Alexandra Panova, and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Johanna Larsson also advanced.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Chakvetadze advances to quarterfinals in Slovenia

Anna Chakvetadze upset 4th seed Sara Errani today in the second round of the Slovenia Open, after defeating Ekaterina Makarova in the first round. Palona Hercog defeated wild card Katarina Srebotnik, and Stephanie Voegele defeated wild card Tamira Paszek.

In Bad Gastein, Simona Halep retired toward the end of her second round match because of a right shoulder injury.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Ana Ivanovic, who won the Rogers Cup in 2006, will have to qualify to get into the main draw this year.

Former world number 10 Nicole Vaidisova has married ATP star Radek Stepanek. Vaidisova retired from professional tennis earlier this year.

Serena Williams' agent describes her client as "a fast healer," and says that Williams is hoping to play in the U.S. Open.

Martina Navratilova will receive the Eugene L. Scott Award during the 2010 U.S. Open. The award, sponsored by the International Tennis Hall of Fame, "honors an individual who consistently embodies Gene’s commitment to communicating honestly and critically about the game, and who has had a significant impact on the world of tennis." Scott was the founder and publisher of Tennis Week.

Steve Flink did an interview with Nancy Richey that is well worth reading.

Seeds upset in first round in both Slovenia and Bad Gastein

Top seed and defending champion Andrea Petkovic won her first round in Bad Gastein today, defeating Iveta Benesova 6-4, 6-0, but 3rd seed Anabel Medina Garrigues, 4th seed Klara Zakopalova, 5th seed Sybille Bammer, and 6th seed Barbora Zahlavova Strycova were all upset.

Yesterday, in Bad Gastein, Mariya Koryttseva saved eight match points and defeated Tatjana Malek in a match that lasted almost three hours.

In Slovenia, hometown star Katarina Srebotnik got off to a good start by defeating Petra Martic 6-3, 6-1. Top seed Jelena Jankovic defeated countrywoman Bojana Jovanovski, but 2nd seed Petra Kvitova was upset by Stepanie Voegele. Also upset in the first round were 5th seed Dominika Cibulkova and 8th seed Sophia Arvidssson. Cibulkova lost in straight sets to Ksenia Pervak.

In first round play yesterday, Virginie Razzano made her post-injury return by defeating Zuzana Kucova.

Williams not certain for U.S. Open

According to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, world number 1 Serena Williams may not play in the 2010 U.S. Open. Williams cut her foot in a restaurant in Miami, and the injury required surgery. She has already withdrawn from the World Team Tennis season, and from three tournaments leading up to the Open.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Kanepi wins Palermo, Szavay wins Prague

Kaia Kanepi, seeded 5th at the Internazionali Femminili di Tennis di Palermo, won the championship today. Kanepi defeated top seed and defending champion (and wild card) Flavia Pennetta 6-4, 6-3. Kanepi is now 3-3 against Pennetta. This is Kanepi's first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title.

Agnes Szavay, who won the Budapest title last week, won the Prague title today, defeating Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-2, 1-6, 6-2. Szavay and Zahlavova Strycova were seeded 7th and 8th, respectively. This was Zahlavova Strycova's first tour final.

Also repeating were the unseeded Timea Bacsinszy and Tathiana Garbin. They won the Budapest doubles title last week, and today, they won the Prague title, defeating Monica Niculescu and Szavay 7-5, 7-6.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Serena Williams withdraws from Istanbul, Cincinnati and Montreal

Because of the injury she sustained when she cut her right foot on a piece of broken glass, Serena Williams will have surgery and will consequently miss all tour events leading up to the 2010 U.S. Open. Williams was scheduled to play in Istanbul, and in U.S. Open Series tournaments in Cincinnati and Montreal.

Pennetta & Kanepi to meet in Palermo final

Palermo top seed and defending champion Flavia Pennetta defeated 8th seed Julia Goerges 6-0, 6-4 in the semifinals today, and will play 5th seed Kaia Kanepi in the final. Kanepi defeated wild card Romina Oprandi 6-3, 6-2.

Alberta Brianti and Sara Errani won the doubles title today, defeating Jill Craybas and Julia Goerges 6-4, 6-1. Both teams were unseeded, as were all of the semifinalists.

Zahlavova Strycova & Szavay to play in Prague final

Barbora Zahlavova Strycova and Agnes Szavay have reached the final of the Prague Open. 8th seed Zahlavova Strycova defeated Patty Schnyder 6-2, 6-0 in the semifinals, and 7th seed Szavay defeated Lucie Hradecka 6-3, 6-4.

In the doubles final, the unseeded team of Timea Bacsinszky and Tathiana Garbin will play 3rd seeds Monica Niculescu and Szavay.

Friday, July 16, 2010


It generally takes a while (well, a long time) for researchers to get around to studying females instead of extrapolating onto us the results of studies using male subjects. Here is a very interesting, and useful, study about female athletes, carbohydrates and proteins.

This is from the New York Times Wimbledon Straight Sets blog, and is a nice tribute to Julie Ditty from her former coach, Geoff MacDonald.

Here is a new profile of Alison Riske (via Zoo Tennis).

Who would play Bethanie Mattek-Sands in a biopic of the Fed Cup star?

Maria Sharapova and Yanina Wickmayer will be doubles partners in Stanford.

Friday cat blogging--ringtails edition

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Clijsters & Williams win ESPY awards

2009 U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters won the 2010 ESPY for Best Comeback tonight at the annual ESPN awards ceremony. Clijsters was the first unseeded woman to win the Open, and the second unranked player to win a major since the 1975 inception of computer rankings.

For the second year in a row, Serena Williams won the Best Female Tennis Player ESPY.

Safarova injured, out of Prague

Top seed Lucie Safarova gave her second round opponent, Johanna Larsson, a walkover today at the Prague Open. Safarova has sustained a left hamstring muscle injury.

Meanwhile, in Palermo, Jill Craybas upset 4th seed Tsvetana Pironkova 2-6, 6-2, 6-2.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Injuries and illness

Serena Williams has to have stitches because of a cut on the bottom of one of her feet, and--as a result--will miss the entire 2010 season of World Team Tennis. Williams plays for the Washington Kastles.

Peng Shuai, who has missed a lot of this season because of an extended illness, withdrew from Palermo today because of a sprained right ankle.

Finally, Tamira Paszek retired in her final qualifying round in Prague today because of heat illness.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Top seed upset in Prague qualifying

Anastasia Rodionova, the top qualifying seed at the ECM Prague Open, lost today in the second round of qualifying to Tamira Paszek. Paszek defeated Rodionova 6-2, 6-2.

After having hip surgery in 2008 and then sustaining an ankle injury and torn leg muscle in 2009, the Russian-turned-Australian had to work hard to get back into the top 100. Her upset performances in the 2009 U.S. Open, the 2010 French Open, and the 2010 Wimbledon tournament took her to the third round in all three of those majors. Rodionova is currently ranked number 71 in the world.

Things haven't gone as well for Paszek, who was once hailed as a prodigy, but who has had significantly more downs than ups in her career. Paszek is currently ranked number 225 in the world.

Szavay defends Budapest title

Agnes Szavay defended her title in Budapest today by defeating Patty Schnyder 6-2, 6-4 in the final. Szavay was the 7th seed. Szavay defeated Schnyder in last year's final, also.

Timea Bacsinszky and Tathiana Garbin won the doubles title, defeating top seeds Sorana Cirstea and Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-3, 6-3. Bacsinszky and Garbin were seeded 2nd.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

"She was fire, and I was ice"

Congratulations to Gigi Fernandez and Natasha Zvereva, who were inducted, as a pair, into the International Tennis Hall of Fame today. Fernandez and Zvereva won fourteen major titles, and numerous other titles and honors--almost too many to count. They also hold the second-longest major tournament doubles title streak in Open Era history.


Kim Clijsters defeated Serena Williams 6-3, 6-2 in the Brussels exhbition match that was supposed to have featured the "Best of Belgium," but was changed when Justine Henin had to withdraw because of an injury. I expected Yanina Wickmayer to be asked to step in, but instead, orgnanizers chose Williams. 35,681 spectators attended the match, the biggest crowd ever to attend a tennis event.

Dinara Safina is back on the court. She and Victoria Azarenka have been given wild cards into the Bank of the West Classic.

Not surprisingly, Maria Sharapova--who has long had a say in her own Nike dress designs--has decided to design tennis clothes for the rest of us.

Tennis Channel will broadcast the men's and women's finals of the U.S. Open National Playoffs. The men's final will be held on July 25, and the women's final will be held on August 1. The winners receive wild cards into U.S. Open qualifying.

The World Team Tennis finals will also take place on July 25.

Melanie Oudin will play in Stanford, San Diego and Cincinatti.

Alona Bondarenko married her coach, Nikolay Dyachok, on Thursday. The wedding reception was held today, and the couple is then off to a honeymoon in Crete.

Szavay and Schnyder return to Budapest final

Last year's Budapest final will be repeated tomorrow, at least in terms of the participants. Defending champion and 7th seed Agnes Szavay defeated 2nd seed Alexandra Dulgheru 6-1, 5-7, 7-5 today in the semifinals. Patty Schnyder defeated qualifier Zuzana Ondraskova 6-2, 4-6, 6-3. Schnyder is last year's runner-up; Szavay defeated her 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the 2009 final. Schnyder was last year's top seed.

In doubles, 2nd seeds Timea Bacsinszky and Tathiana Garbin will compete for the title against top seeds Sorana Cirstea and Anabel Medina Garrigues.

Rezai wins Bastad

Aravane Rezai won her fourth Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title today in Bastad. 2nd seed Rezai defeated 4th seed Gisela Dulko 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in the final. There were fourteen breaks of serve in the match.

Dulko and her partner, Flavia Pennetta, won the doubles title, defeating Renata Voracova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 7-6 (0), 6-0.

Who let the GOAT out?

I had planned to talk about this topic some time in the future, but it has popped up on its own on the blog, so I'm talking about it now: Who is the greatest player of all time?

The answer: No one.

There are two reasons that there can be no legitimate "best":

1. How could people--even experts--agree on the criteria, and the heirarchy of importance of those criteria? Who won the most majors? Who had the most talent? Who had the best winning average? Who won the most majors and titles? Who won the most majors of all kinds? Names that fit those categories include--but are not limited to--Margaret Court, Steffi Graf, Maureen Connolly, Suzanne Lenglen, Chris Evert, and Martina Navratilova.

2. Generations cannot be compared. Players who played three majors on grass cannot be compared with players who play only one major on (slower) grass. Players who used wooden racquets are a universe away from players who use today's racquets. The training techniques are different, the shots themselves are different. Even the rules are different.

And then there is the matter of the importance given to the majors. Back when the Australian Open was played during the Christmas holidays, it was considered legitimate to skip it. Players who skipped it, of course, did not wind up with the winnning records they could have had. "Could've, would've, should've" doesn't count, a commenter on another blog said to me when I brought this up.

But it does in cases like this--because the culture of tennis was different then. Skipping the Australian Open was a common expectation. If a player skips a major today, of course we can say "She made a choice and she'll pay for it." But years ago, skipping a major was not unusual and not unexpected because majors didn't have the type of value they have now. Chris Evert, at the prime of her clay court powers, skipped three French Opens in order to play World Team Tennis. There is every reason to believe she would have won all three of them. But at that time, the value of the majors just wasn't the same as it is now (obviously, WTT play was permitted while the French Open was in progress.)

Comparing tennis cultures across time isn't so much a matter as comparing apples with oranges as it is comparing apples with tablecloths. It makes no logical sense.

I also don't understand the current obsession with determining who is the greatest of all time. This seems to go on more regarding the ATP because both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are playing in the same generation. But the same arguments apply: Who can determine which criteria matter and what their order of importance is? And how can one possibly compare the tennis culture of 1950 with the tennis culture of 1970 with the tennis culture of today?

Finally, why does there have to be a "greatest of all time"? Even if we suddenly all agreed on one (and we never would, which is as it should be), someone else would come along later and contend for that title. Nothing in life stays the same--why should tennis?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Dulgheru advances to Budapest semifinals

2nd seed Alexandra Dulgheru defeated Anastasja Savastova 6-7, 6-2, 7-6  in the Budapest semifinals today in a match that lasted two hours and 41 minutes. Also advancing were Agnes Szavay, who defeated wild card Alize Cornet, and Zuzana Ondraskova, who defeated 4th seed Anabel  Medina Garrigues in a mactch that lasted almost two hours and 58 minutes.

Patty Schnyder took advantage of a shaky Polona Hercog, and defated her 7-5, 1-6, 6-4.

Dulko upsets Pennetta and advances to Bastad final

4th seed Gisela Dulko defeated her friend and doubles partner, 1st seed Flavia Pennetta 6-3, 6-1, today in the semifinals of the Swedish Open. Dulko's opponent in the final will be 2nd seed Aravane Rezai, who defeated 3rd seed Lucie Safarova 6-3, 6-3.

Dulko and Pennetta are the top seeds in doubles, and they will play in the final against 2nd seeds Renata Voracova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.

Friday cat blogging--morning nap edition

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Dulko & Pennetta to play in Bastad semifinals

Friends and doubles partners Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta will oppose one another in the semifinals in Bastad tomorrow. 4th seed Dulko won her quarterfinal match today when her opponent, Ana Vrljik, retired with a hamstring muscle strain. Top seed Pennetta defeated Jill Craybas 6-4, 6-4 in a match that lasted two hours.

The other semifinal will feature two of the most prominent players of the clay court season--3rd seed Lucie Safarova and 2nd seed Aravane Rezai.

Meanwhile, in Budapest, there were two upsets today in the second round. Wild card Alize Cornet defeated 3rd seed Timea Bacsinszky 6-0, 6-4, and Zuzana Ondraskova defeated 6th seed Roberta Vinci 6-4, 6-0.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Top seed out of Budapest

Number 1 seed Alisa Kleybanova was upset in the second round of the GDF Suez Grand Prix in Budapest today. Patty Schnyder defeated Kleybanova 6-4, 6-3.

Meanwhile, in Bastad, 4th seed Gisela Dulko saved five match points and defeated Tatjana Malek 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (1). Top seed Flavia Pennetta advanced to the third round with a 6-1, 6-1 win over wild card Sloane Stephens.

Top players helping children around the world

I recently wrote that Maria Sharapova is making another trip to the area affected by the Chernobyl disaster. Sharapova has donated a quarter of a million dollars to expand a United Nations Development Programme that provides sports and other physical activities to the children in the area. The Maria Sharapova Foundation already supports health and education for children in the region affected by the Chernobyl event. Sharapova's parents fled their home in Gomel a year before she was born because of concerns about radiation.

Liezel Huber is helping children through the Locks of Love, an organization that collects hair to make wigs for children who experience hair loss because of medical conditions. Huber has cut off much of her own hair, and has also recruited several Sony Ericsson WTA Tour players, who have donated their hair.

Yesterday, Li Na visited Xining, the capital of Qinghai province in China, where the April earthquake caused extensive damage and loss of life. Li was a guest of the Huang Nan Zhou Orphanage in Xining, which has taken in many children from the Yushu community; the Yushu orphange was destroyed by the earthquake.

Li donated her Madrid prize money to the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation, and has also pledged her China Open prize money. She is providing living expenses for three years for the children in the orphanage, and will also provide sports equipment and facilities to ten schools in the Yushu area. The remainder of Li's donation will train teachers in using sport to help students develop basic life skills.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A note about some problems with Blogger

In the past, Blogger users have occasionally had to deal with a comment count bug that is usually easy to fix. That bug has returned, the fix no longer works, and there are other bugs that have arrived that are related to comments. If you have a Blogger account and sign in to Blogger before you post a comment, you may find that the comment does not appear until much later, or you may find that it posts right away, but disappears later. If one of those things happens, you can comment without signing into your account--until the Blogger staff fixes these problems. You also may find that you can sign into your account and post comments without any problems at all. Some are affected by these bugs, and some are not.

If you have a Blogger blog that allows comments from people with Blogger accounts only, some of us may not  be able to post comments on your blog until these bugs are removed.

For  now, if you post a comment and the comment count on the post does not change, don't assume that someone hasn't posted a reply.

The Blogger staff is aware of these problems and is collecting data so that Blogger can be repaired.


Ravi Ubha comments briefly on all of the Wimbledon seeds.

Serena Williams' Wimbledon Ball dress beautifully matched the gold and silver of the Venus Rosewater dish.

Vera Zvonareva is back in the top 10; the Wimbledon runner-up is now number 9 in the world. 

Peng Shuai, out for a considerable time with illness, has returned to the tour.

Over the weekend, Martina Hingis played doubles with Sarah Borwell in World Team Tennis competition. Hingis plays for the New York Buzz.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Kanepi out in 1st round of Swedish Open

Wimbledon quarterfinalist Kaia Kanepi was defeated 7-5, 6-4 today by 5th seed Arantxa Parra Santonja in Bastad, Sweden. The tournament is played on red clay. Also losing was Anastasia Rodionova, who was defeated by Tatjana Malek.

Meanwhile, in Budapest, 5th seed Peng Shuai--who has been out a lot with illness lately--won her first round. The GDF Suez Grand Prix is also played on red clay.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

My Wimbledon top 10

Here are my top 10 Wimbledon occurrences, in ascending order:

10. Close, but not there: Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams met in the round of 16, and 2005 Wimbledon champion Sharapova held three set points in the first set, but Williams prevailed--again--7-6, 6-4.

9. Clay, grass--who cares?: Not Jarmila Groth. Out of almost nowhere, the big-hitting Australian advanced to the round of 16 at the French Open, then repeated the feat at Wimbledon, where she played a quite respectable fourth round against Venus Williams.

8. Down and out: One of the most highly anticipated matches of this year's Wimbledon tournament was the round of 16 contest between Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters. Though Henin has been calling 2010 a "year of transition," there is no doubt that she had her eye on the Venus Rosewater dish. In the past, Henin has prevailed against Clijsters in big-time matches, but in this one, a slip on the grass was very costly. Henin fell on her right arm, and wasn't the same after she pulled herself up from the grass. Clijsters won, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3, and Henin is out for two months with a partial ligament fracture in her elbow.

7. Russians stop Williams Grand Slam run: Serena and Venus Williams won the doubles championship at both the Australian Open and the French Open, and their chances to achieve the 2010 Grand Slam looked good. But then along came Elena Vesnina and Vera Zvonareva, who put a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 end to the sisters' success. Elena Vesnina, in particular, played at an extremely high level, both on serve and otherwise, to defeat the top seeds.

6. Thriller!: Petra Kvitova saved five match points in what turned out to be my favorite match of the tournament. Playing against big-serving Kaia Kanepi, Kvitova--who was just about almost coming from behind--fought and scrapped for three hours until she wore Kanepi down.

5. Notable run finally halted "in the Serena": Petra Kvitova had a really tough draw at Wimbledon. She had to take out Sorana Cirstea, 2008 semifinalist Zheng Jie, 14th seed Victoria Azarenka, 3rd seed Caroline Wozniacki, and the resurgent Kaia Kanepi. That put her into the semifinals against Serena Williams, which was more than she could handle, but she made a good match of it. She talked the day before the semifinals about her chances "in the Serena," which she didn't seem to think were too good. They weren't, but Kvitova's Wimbledon run was outstanding.

4. Remember me?: For some time now, Tsvetana Pironkova has been known for her upsets, the most famous of which was the first round defeat of Venus Williams in the 2006 Australian Open. But Pironkova, despite having a clever and beautiful game, has always had trouble dealing with her nerves, and with recovering from errors. At Wimbledon, however, she used her considerable skills to get to the semifinals, and on the way, she took out Williams again, this time in the quarterfinals. The five-time Wimbledon champion was having an off day, but Pironkova made things even harder for her with her inventive shot-making. She lost to Vera Zvonareva in the semifinals, but one hopes that the talented Bulgarian will turn a corner after this experience.

3. We cannot be serious!: Who knew that competing in the Wimbledon doubles championship match could be so much fun? Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova had the time of their lives competing against Elena Vesnina and Vera Zvonareva in the final. They won, too, and Shvedova became an instant doubles star during the match. It was just their third time to play together, and their smiles and consistently good humor were a sharp contrast to the somber proceedings on the other side of the net.

2. Russian tennis, see "Zvonareva": Dinara Safina and Elena Dementieva weren't there. Svetlana Kuznetsova lost in the second round, Nadia Petrova and Maria Kirilenko both lost in the third round, and Maria Sharapova went out in the round of 16. No worries--21st seed Vera Zvonareva went all the way to the final in both singles and doubles, and in doubles, Russian Elena Vesnina went with her. After working hard to come back after an especially bad 2009 ankle injury, Zvonareva defeated 15th seed Yanina Wickmayer, she  emerged the victor when 4th seed Jelena Jankovic retired, and then she upset 8th seed Kim Clijsters. She lost in straight sets to Serena Williams in the final, and she and Vesnina lost the doubles final, too; it didn't help that Zvonareva was in a major funk after losing the singles championship. But it was still an outstanding run on grass, and the best run of all the Russians.

1. Fly Me to the Moon: Asked to describe the little dance she did while holding the Venus Rosewater dish, 2010 Wimbledon champion Serena Williams said " I was really feeling Frank Sinatra‑ish, 'Come Fly With Me', ''Fly Me to the Moon'." She could probably win a championship played on the moon's surface, too, if it came to that. Williams won her fourth Wimbledon championship, and her thirteenth major, without dropping a set. She hit a total of 80 aces during the tournament, and she defended expertly. To the moon, indeed.

Navratilova & Novotna win Wimbledon Ladies Invitation doubles competition

For the first time, there was a Ladies Invitation Doubles tournament at Wimbledon this year. And the premiere winners of the event are Martina Navratilova and Jana Novotna, who, today, defeated Tracy Austin and Kathy Rinaldi-Stunkel 7-5, 6-0.

During their careers, Navratilova won the Wimbledon doubles championship seven times, and Novotna won it four times. Combining doubles, singles and mixed doubles, this makes a total of six Wimbledon trophies for Novotna, and twenty for Navratilova.

Black & Paes win Wimbledon mixed doubles championship

The number 2 seeds, Cara Black and Leander Paes, won the Wimbledon mixed doubles championship today, defeating 11th seeds Lisa Raymond and Wesley Moodie 6-4, 7-6.

Black won the mixed doubles championship with in 2004 with her brother, Wayne.

Vergeer & Walraven win Wimbledon women's wheelchair doubles

Esther Vergeer and Sharon Walraven won the women's wheelchair championship at Wimbledon today. The top seeds defeated Daniela De Toro and Lucy Shuker 6-2, 6-3.

Vegeer, who acknowledged that playing on grass is a challenge, says she hopes Wimbledon will add a wheelchair singles division: "I think they should give it a chance. If you don't try with a serious match, you will never know."

Babos & Stephens win Wimbledon junior girls doubles championship

The 4th-seeded team of Timea Babos and Sloane Stephens won the junior girls Wimbledon doubles championship today. They defeated top seeds Irina Khromacheva and Elina Svitolina 6-7, 6-2, 6-2. Babos is from Hungary, and Stephens is from the USA. They also won the junior girls French Open doubles championship.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

3 more Wimbledon doubles championships to be decided on Sunday

The mixed doubles final will be held at Wimbledon on Sunday, July 4. 11th seeds Lisa Raymond and Wesley Moodie will compete against 2nd seeds Cara Black and Leander Paes.

In wheelchair doubles, top seeds Esther Vergeer and Sharon Walraven will play Daniela Di Toro and Lucy Shuker. There is no wheelchair singles event at Wimbledon. Korie Homan, by the way was missing from both the French Open and Wimbledon. My understanding is that she injured her wrist in January. If anyone has more information, please pass it on.

Finally, the junior girls championship match will feature top seeds Irina Khromacheva and Elina Svitlovina (who was also the top seed in singles) competing against 4th seeds Timea Babos and Sloane Stephens.

Evert aside, Billie Jean's "Homecoming" is a good one

"I came in on the cusp of this women's liberation thing. All I saw on TV were angry women burning their bras."

Speaking via video on ESPN's "Homecoming" show, which honored Billie Jean King today, the best Evert could come up with was a dismissive "women's liberation thing" and the repetition of one of the biggest cultural myths ever: There was no bra-burning during the Second Wave; the news media invented the phenomenon, and people who couldn't be bothered to know what was really happening (we still have hundreds of thousands of those)--people like Evert--are still spreading the false word (not, by the way, that there's anything wrong with burning bras).

Evert is probably my favorite player of all time, but every year, it becomes harder for me to separate my admiration for her as a player from my disappointment in her as a publisher and spokeswoman.

The rest of the show was pretty enjoyable. Maria Sharapova, Zina Garrison and Tracy Austin were in the audience, and during a segment on wooden racquets, King demonstrated what she thought Sharapova would look and sound like if she had to hit with one. She revealed that Muhammad Ali used to whisper in her ear "Billie Jean, you're the queen!" And when she did the "lightning round" of questions with host Rick Reilly, and was asked  "What would you most like to steal from Maria Sharapova?" she immediately answered "Money."

Wimbledon--what they said

I didn't play my best tennis today, but Serena didn't allow me to play my best tennis.
Vera Zvonareva

I was thinking because we decide to play three tournaments. Birmingham we did semifinal, 's‑Hertogenbosch we did final. After the final, I said, Now we have to win Wimbledon.
Yaroslava Shvedova

I've never really cared what people said, how they said whether I should be playing tennis and hitting balls or whatever. It never really bothered or mattered to me.
Serena Williams 

When you won, most people throw their racquets in the air and jump up and down. You just walked to the net.
I'm not like this. I don't know. I was happy, of course, but I don't need to do something like this.
Kristyna Pliskova

Just to return is not enough; you've got to be able to put it somewhere so you don't get killed on the second shot.
Vera Zvonareva

I wonder what she's like, chopping a pile of bricks, Vesnina. She could do a good job with that.
Jo Durie

Is there a chance you'll still be playing at 38, do you think?
If I am, I want you to personally take me off and escort me off the court. There's no way I need to be out here at 38.
Serena Williams

I was like, it's so nice, like, Billie Jean watching Vania King. It's a big honor like she was watching us. I was like feel also like more kind of confidence and very nice. I was like wanted to show, we can show the great tennis and show fun more.
Yaroslava Shvedova

Maybe sometimes I went for too much and sometimes I didn't attack enough.
Vera Zvonareva

I think maybe they were more nervous than we were. Her coach had a beer before the match to relax, which is funny because he's the more calm one.
Vania King

I think I made a mistake today. I stepped back, and I should have been more aggressive on her second serve. But, you know, it's something that I will keep in my mind for the future.
Vera Zvonareva

Every time we go on the court, that's one of the reasons we have such a good time on the court is because we're such good friends. Every time we go on the court, we enjoy spending time together. Our games come together so well. It's the best to have this title with her.
Vania King

King & Shvedova win Wimbledon doubles championship

A casual observer who had just turned on the television could never have guessed that Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova were playing doubles with the 2010 Wimbledon championship at stake. They were having so much fun, smiling so much, it looked more like two friends were just out to have a good time on a Sunday evening.

Those two friends defeated Elena Vesnina and Vera Zvonareva 7-6, 6-2 to become the first unseeded team to win Wimbledon since 1977, when Helen Gourlay Cawley and JoAnne Russell won the trophy. Both of the teams in today's final were unseeded, in fact, and both played very impressively throughout the tournament. To get to the final, the champions defeated Alberta Brianti & Alexandra Dulgheru, 14th seeds Monica Niculescu & Shahar Peer, 3rd seeds Nadia Petrova & Sam Stosur, 6th seeds Kveta Peschke & Katarina Srebotnik, and 5th seeds Liezel Huber & Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

The Russian team also pulled some big upsets, including the defeat of top seeds Serena and Venus Williams, in a match that featured a consistently stunning performance from Vesnina. Today, however, was not the team's brightest day. Zvonareva lost the singles championship to Serena Williams, and the mood on the Russian side of the net was a decided contrast to the good cheer emanating from the other side.

The first set was so close that it went to a tiebreak, which King and Shvedova won 8-6 after saving a set point. Zvonareva was never quite the same after that, and--set up by the steady baseline play of King, Shvedova proceeded to become a one-woman attack force, repeatedly slamming unreturnable volleys from the net. She didn't look too shabby in other parts of the court, either, serving forcefully, and hitting winners down the line. She and King got better as the match wore on, and won the second set 6-2, which gave them the match.

The champions' interview was as entertaining as their performance on the court. Apparently, Shvedova and King invited practically everyone they met recently--at the French Open, in an English pub, etc.--to come to Wimbledon. They came, too, and were part of a huge cheering section for the two women. I was quite disappointed that neither the champions nor the runners-up were invited to speak at the trophy ceremony, and cannot imagine why such a slight would be permitted to occur.

No matter whom you wanted to win the doubles title, it was almost impossible to be anything but excited for King and Shvedova, whose expert play and on-court charm made this a special championship.

Pliskova wins junior Wimbledon championship

When Sachie Ishizu went up 4-2 in the third set in today's junior girls Wimbledon championship, her chances to win looked good. She was broken back, however, then Krystina Pliskova broke her again and served successfully for the championship 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. Pliskova was seeded 9th at the tournament, and Ishizu was seeded 10th.

Kriystina's twin, Karolina, won the junior girls Australian Open championship. Krystina, who plays left-handed, won the Wimbledon warmup tournament in Roehampton, and is now on an eleven-match winning streak on grass.

13 and counting: Serena wins Wimbledon championship

After Serena Williams returned from showing the crowd her latest Venus Rosewater dish, she re-entered the Wimbledon clubhouse, which was lined with a regiment of serious-looking people in uniforms. Halfway through the formation, she lifted the dish, did a complete twirl, then executed a funky little kick. It was a great--and charming--moment for the now four-time Wimbledon champion. Nothing says "Serena" like a straight-sets win, a brilliant smile, and a spontaneous twirl for the offiicials.

Williams who won 6-3, 6-2, performed with clinical precision against Vera Zvonareva, who played some of her best tennis to get to the final. And while Zvonareva had some opportunities in the final, they were few and far between, and Zvonareva was unable to execute most of them because of the constant pressure she was under. Williams, who added nine more aces to her Wimbledon tally, giving her a total of 89, sustained a first serve win percentage of 94 throughout the match. She was 100% successful at the net (14 of 14), and hit 29 winners. Zvonareva never saw a break opportunity, and was dominated by Williams throughout.

Williams, who didn't drop a set at the tournament, has now won thirteen majors, and she shows no signs of letting up. She has had more than her share of injuries, and has vulnerable knees, yet--time after time--she overcomes her physical issues and plays seven successful matches at a major.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Wimbledon--what they said

What about when you're not practicing or you're not playing matches and you're eating dinner or watching TV? Is it, I'm happy, this is where I want to be?
No, I'm just really always just happy to be competing and to be healthy to be here. Like I always say, to have this opportunity is really unbelievable.
Serena Williams

I will just have to try to play the game that's bothering her the most.
Vera Zvonareva, referring to Serena Williams

In some ways is it easier not playing your sister in the final? That must affect your emotions a little bit.
Well, honestly I would feel like I would almost rather play her because at least I know for certain one of us is gonna win something and take something home. But now it's a 50/50 chance. So in a way, I didn't realize how good a feeling that was.
Serena Williams

I got a picture with him. That brightened up my day so much.
Laura Robson, referring to David Beckham

Do you remember learning how to serve and who taught that to you?
Yeah, I remember my dad taught us how to serve. Always at the end of practice, we would just serve. Venus and I would serve on either side, but with each other. We always talked a lot. I don't remember serving; I just remember talking. Lord knows what we were talking about, but we never stopped talking, unless my dad was looking at us, then we would serve. Then when he wasn't looking, we would just talk, talk, talk, talk, talk...
Serena Williams

It was a lot of fun playing on Centre Court, even if I didn't get the result I wanted.
Laura Robson

If there is something inside of you that's stopping you from bringing the best out of the yourself, you need to scream at yourself, pump yourself up, break that racquet, I will do it if I know it will help me to perform better. Why not?
Vera Zvonareva

Rotten fruit

For several reasons, I'm not a member of the John McEnroe Fan Club, but I do like to give credit when it's due. That won't happen today, though, because McEnroe--just when he was doing the right thing--reversed himself and took a bite from a rather bitter apple of temptation.

Today, a man called the BBC to talk with McEnroe, and began his conversation with "We all know that the women's game is a bit of a joke." McEnroe tried to stop him, but the caller ignored him, and went on to ask where in the ATP rankings the top WTA player would be. "You're comparing apples with oranges," McEnroe replied, also telling the caller "You're trying to start trouble."

McEnroe was right. The men's and women's games are two completely different entities, and those who insist on comparing them are attempting to "prove" a point that is simply not relevant. McEnroe had Andy Murray on the phone, and decided to set him up instead, which was, of course, just a different way to start trouble. Murray suggested that the top woman would be ranked around 1000, and McEnroe then suggested she would be ranked  around 600 (last year, John Isner said that the 800th-ranked ATP player could be the WTA number 1, just to get some perspective on the numbers).

Both McEnroe (in his post-tennis career only) and Murray have shown support for the women's game, yet--with encouragement from host Tim Henman-- both got sucked into the caller's intention to insult the WTA.

If (most) men and (most) women were about physically equal, there would be only one tour. The fact that a great number of people believe that the group who is physically stronger and can hit the ball harder is the superior group is a product of a cultural bias toward males. One might as well say that the WTA is "superior" to the junior tour, since most 14-year-old girls cannot run as fast, hit as hard, or balance their footing as well as most 24-year-olds. There is a reason that the tour is separated into juniors and seniors, but the physical characteristics of a particular group does not make that group "inferior."

Women can't win, anyway. Even though physical strength is  prized as superior in our male-oriented culture, a woman with unusual physical strength doesn't get any respect, either. She is automatically labeled "masculine" or "ugly," or is thought to be using steroids.

Robson defeated in semifinals

8th seed Laura Robson lost her semifinal match in Wimbledon junor competition today. She was defeated 7-5, 7-6by 10th seed Sachie Ishizu. Ishizu's opponent in the final will be 9th seed Krystina Pliskova, who defeated Yulia Putintseva 6-1, 6-4. Robson won the event in 2008.

In the doubles quarterfinals, the 2nd-seeded Pliskova sisters were upset by 5th seeds Veronica Cepede Royg and Cristina Dinu.

Vesnina & Zvonareva advance to Wimbledon doubles final

The unseeded team of Elena Vesnina and Vera Zvonareva advanced to the Wimbledon final today, with a 6-3, 6-1 defeat of 4th seeds Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta. That means that Zvonareva will play in both the singles and doubles final. She has one major title; in 2006, she and Nathalie Dechy won the U.S. Open.

The Russians' opponents in the final will be the unseeded team of Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova, who upset the 5th seeds, Liezel Huber and Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

In the mixed doubles semifinals, 2nd seeds Cara Black and Leander Paes defeated 9th seeds Iveta Benesova, and Lukas Dlouhy, and 11th seeds Lisa Raymond and Wesley Moodie defeated 10th seeds Rennae Stubbs and Marcelo Melo. Raymond and Stubbs are women's doubles partners (Dlouhy and Paes are partners in men's doubles, also).

Friday cat blogging--laundry basket edition

Thursday, July 1, 2010


The BNP Paribas Showdown for the Billie Jean King Cup, held in Madison Square Garden in 2009 and 2010, will be replaced in 2011 by a match between Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. Prior to the match, there will be a one-set exhibition match played by John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl.

Venus and Serena Williams were each fined $4,000 for failure to appear at a post-doubles match press conference at Wimbledon. Serena said today she was not aware there was a press conference--that generally, the team is simply asked to deliver a statement to the press.

The Fed Cup final between the USA and Italy will be held November 6 and 7 at the San Diego Sport Arena.

Sabine Lisicki has returned to the court to practice after a long injury layoff.

World Team Tennis competition begins on July 5. Martina Hingis will be playing for the New York Buzz, whose first match will be played against the Philadelphia Freedoms.

Wimbledon--what they said

How pleased are you with the way you've coped with the physical demands of the last ten, twelve days, playing both the juniors and on the senior tournament as well?
I lost first round in everything in seniors, so it wasn't that physically demanding.
Laura Robson

What's the biggest danger for you going into the final?
Just putting too much pressure on myself, I think. On paper it looks like I should win. But Vera, I've played her several times; she's beaten some good people. Her last two matches she's been down a set, so she's obviously a fighter. She never gives up.
Serena Williams

I believe that next time it will be better for me.
Petra Kvitova

There are many things that I should work, and I will do it with pleasure. Now I have lots of motivation, so I'll be happy to work.
Tsvetana Pironkova

Do you tend to sleep well before a final like this? Do you just ease into it or do you really feel it churning inside?
No, I'm an excellent sleeper. That's something I do really well.
Serena Williams

...Do you have any off‑court talents you can tell us about?

...Yeah, I used to play the saxophone. I guess that's an okay talent to have. But I kind of stopped that, as it's hard to travel with a big saxophone.
Like Lisa Simpson?
Well, I would ideally like to be able to play like her, but I wasn't quite that good.
Laura Robson

Did you think you were in the final after the first set maybe?
No. No. Not even close. One set is like an eternity, you know.
Tsvetana Pironkova

...I can break the racquet, but it doesn't mean I'm not there in the match. I'm trying all the time.
Vera Zvonareva

Henin out until September

Justine Henin, who fell onto her arm at Wimbledon during her match against Kim Clijsters, revealed today that she has a partial ligament fracture in her right elbow. Henin has withdrawn from the "Best of Belgium" exhibition, and does not expect to be at the U.S. Open.

Zvonareva to play Williams in Wimbledon final

Contrary to rumor, Mother Russia is alive and well, in the form of Vera Zvonareva. The 21st seed advanced  to the Wimbledon final today with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over Tsvetana Pironkova.

This is the first time that Zvonareva has reached the final of a major, and she achieves this pinnacle in her career after working hard to return from a serious injury. On two occasions, Zvonareva has sustained serious injuries while playing in Charleston (Obviously free of superstition, she continues to play at the Family Circle Cup, where she has twice been a finalist). The last one occurred in 2009, when she rolled her ankle and was out for months. To make matters worse, the ankle injury occurred just when Zvonareva was playing the best tennis of her career.

During the match, the commentators on ESPN talked repeatedly about Zvonareva's fragile mentality, but if they had known anything about her opponent, they would have realized that she is the one who suffers more with fragility of the mind. However, they know almost nothing about players who are not in the top 10 or from the U.S. Not to pick on ESPN, though--I didn't come across any commentators or writers who gave evidence of knowing about Pironkova's strengths and weaknesses. At any rate, Pironkova has a really fine game which I hope the juniors are watching so they can emulate it. But it is difficult for her to string victories together, and indeed, I found it amazing that she held herself together to get to the semifinals.

Playing with the guile she has shown throughout the tournament, the Bulgarian took the first set. In the second set, however, she became shaky. Zvonareva's form had something to do with that, I should hasten to add, but it wasn't surprising, under any circumstances, that Pironkova's level went down. After the first set, she never broke Zvonareva again, and the 21st seed became more confident as the match went on.

In the other semifinal, top seed Serena Williams faced Petra Kvitova, who put on quite a show in coming down from 0-4 in the third to defeat Kaia Kanepi in the quarterfinals. Kvitova kept up with Williams through the first set, and even pulled herself up from 0-4 to 3-4 in the tiebreak, but was unable to withstand the damage done by the Williams serve and by Williams' consistency. Kvitova is quite a shot-maker, but in this match, she made too many errors, most of which appeared to come out of sheer anxiety and rushing her shots. In fact, she controlled many of the rallies, only to make silly mistakes and lose the points.

Ever the showwoman--at 2-4, 30-40--Kivotova won the point of the match, a highly entertaining affair in which both players were forced to hit far out of their comfort zones. Williams, using her serve and her experience, won the match 7-6, 6-2.

Both Pironkova and Kvitova had great runs in this tournament and provided fans with some exciting tennis--Pironkova with her very tricky style, and Kvitova with her big shot-making. Both were undone not only by their opponents, but by their own nerves.