Sunday, March 30, 2008

Vintage Davenport Dismantles Ivanovic



In a display of clean, powerful ball striking - the stuff of Lindsay Davenport's A-game - the American comeback mother crushed Indian Wells champion Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 6-2.

And it wasn't as close as the scoreline.

Since her rise to the top echelon of women's tennis, Ivanovic has had trouble with the Big Babes of tennis. She's also been compared to Davenport in ball striking and style of play, but after yesterday's rout, that's questionable.

Before the match, Lindsay said she looked forward to playing a current top player that she hadn't played before. When I saw the glint in her eye, I knew it would be trouble for the Serbian princess.

Lindsay overcame sluggishness in her first match and moved as well as she needed in her second. Her returns were so deep and accurate, that Ana started almost every point on her back foot. Had Lindsay not lost her focus, the score might have been 6-1, 6-2. At no point in the match did it look as though Ana could win and that is a testament to the Tower of Power's precise power game.



Serena Williams had to overcome tentativeness, unforced errors, three blown set points in the first set, a second-set break deficit, a rain delay and a feisty Flavia Pennetta to advance 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-2 to the third round.

The Italian had sistergirl cringing after almost every error. Flavia also seemed to have more crowd support. Because Serena was playing so poorly, Flavia didn't have to do much in the way of ball striking to get a set and a break lead. She served well on a few big points, but really just had to keep the ball in play until the defending champion self destructed. But Serena's legendary fight allowed her to hang around until Flavia lost her way and Serena pounced. After the match, the feisty women had a good laugh.



On the men's side, I watched some of James Blake's defeat of Fabrice Santoro. It was hot and Blake had stomach issues, but he refused to be bamboozled by Santoro's unconvential and artistic game. Blake won 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-4. It was another good fight from Blake, something that's become more common in him of late.



In the night match, Guillermo Cañas took out Fernando González in two tight, exquisite sets 7-6(6), 7-5. There was some drama at the end of the first set tiebrak when a fan yelled out on Gonzo's serve. But it reflected the Davis Cup atmosphere that characterizes matches in Key Biscayne that feature South American stars.

What's Up With Vaidisova?



In the last two events, the future champion, as Nicole Vaidisova's been called, as lost in her first two matches, including eating a second-set bagel at the Sony Ericsson Open yesterday.

NikkiV has yet to make a final this year. In fact, she has yet to make a final in a Tier II event or above in her entire career. Does that sound like a future champion to you?

What do her fans think?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Qualifier Beats Djokovic

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South African qualifier Kevin Anderson beat Novak Djokovic 7-6(1), 3-6, 6-4 in the defending champion's first match. If you recall, Anderson was the runner up at the Tennis Channel Open earlier this year.

Djoke is off to a great start this year, but the first big title he has to defend he bombs in his first match. To a qualifier.

Interesting.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Davydenko Expects To Be Cleared



Nikolay Davydenko will be cleared of all match-fixing charges imminently, according to the Russian's lawyer.

Irregular betting patterns surrounding Davydenko's defeat by Martin Vassallo Arguello at last August's Sopot Open prompted the ATP to launch an inquiry.

But Frank Immenga told BBC Sport: "They should clear him any moment now."

And that may prompt retributive action from the 27-year-old, with Immenga saying: "We're certainly looking at it. The whole inquiry has been a farce."

BBC SPORT

Thursday, March 27, 2008

2007 WTA Tour Player Awards



Player of the Year – Justine Henin (Fine)

Doubles Team of the Year – Cara Black and Liezel Huber (Of Course)

Most Improved Player – Ana Ivanovic (Understandable)

Comeback Player of the Year – Lindsay Davenport (I Like Lindsay But That's Just Wrong)

Newcomer of the Year
– Agnes Szavay (Yup)

Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award – Ana Ivanovic (Spread The Wealth, Will Ya?)

Player Service Award – Liezel Huber (See Above)

What's Up With Marat Safin?



No offense to American Bobby Reynolds, but the journeyman qualifier had no business ousting Marat Safin in the first round of the Sony Ericsson Open in a third set breaker.

Marat is beloved by virtually everybody. But I think it's time he become a bona fide celebrity and give up tennis. If he wants to have a decent legacy, that is.

Some say he's the most naturally gifted tennis player in the game. But he hasn't won a title since.... um.... well.... hmmmmm.... the 2005 Australian Open.

He needs a new day job. Or another mountain adventure.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Sony Ericsson Open



It started today and I barely noticed. I know I'm knee-deep in politics and all that, but this is the Fifth Slam, and this is my tennis blog.

Woah.

Am I losing interest in the sport I so love? Am I slacking? I can't say that I know the answer.

I just peeped at the draws. Meh. Andy Roddick is again, as in Indian Wells, in Roger Federer's quarter. Will either of them be dismissed before that matchup this time? Novak Djokovic is on Rafael Nadal's side of the draw again, and Rafa may have to play his mentor Carlos Moya in an early round. That didn't bode well for Rafa two years ago at this event. And how is he feeling physically?

Serena Williams is in Justine Henin's quarter, so there will be no rematch of last year's stunning final. Will Serena break Justine's winning streak against her if they get there? Venus Williams is also in the top of the draw and if she can keep her serve together, she ought to make the semifinals. Unless Svetlana Kuznetsova continues her desert form. I haven't a clue who will make the finals from the bottom half of the women's draw. I can't bring myself to care either.

Maybe I'm upset because I thought I could go and see the event live but that it didn't work out. Maybe I'm just jaded because it looks as though the player I call the Serpent is actually going to ratify his stature as the Next Big Thing and ascend the throne.

At least it was good to see Gustavo Kuerten's name on the scoreboard. I already miss him.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

2007 ATP Award Winners

Player of the Year - Roger Federer (Fine)

Doubles Team of the Year Presented by Stanford - Mike and Bob Bryan (Yup)

Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Presented by Stanford - Roger Federer (Um. Okay)

Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year - Ivan Ljubicic (Yeah. Right)

ATPtennis.com Fans’ Favorite (Singles) Presented by RICOH - Roger Federer (Fine)

ATPtennis.com Fans’ Favorite (Doubles) - Mike and Bob Bryan (Of Course)

Most Improved Player of the Year - Novak Djokovic (Whatever)

Newcomer of the Year - Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Absolutely)

Comeback Player of the Year - Igor Andreev (Bullshit)

Ron Bookman Media Excellence - Bud Collins (If You Say So)

ATP Masters Series Tournament of the Year - Masters Series Monte-Carlo (I'll Buy That)

International Series Gold Tournament of the Year - Abierto Mexicano Telcel (Acapulco) (Sure)

International Series Tournament of the Year - Catella Swedish Open (Bastad) (Um. Okay.)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Meet Andy Roddick Tonight In New York


(Getty Images)

New Yorkers can start next week celebrating an anniversary with Andy Roddick and contributing to his cause in the process.

The former U.S. Open champion will celebrate Lacoste's 75th anniversary with an in-store appearance at Bloomingdale's on 59th Street in Manhattan on Monday night. Roddick will appear in the men's store on the first floor of Bloomingdale's from 6-8 p.m. on Monday, March 24.

Ten percent of the day's Lacoste sales will be donated to the Andy Roddick Foundation, benefitting abused, at-risk and terminally ill children.

Roddick received the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian award in 2005 for his charitable efforts and contributions including the Andy Roddick Foundation. For more information on his foundation, please visit www.andyroddick.com.

[via Savannah and tennisweek.com]

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Serbian Spring



Ana Ivanovic and Novak Djokovic
2008 Pacific Life Open champions


I can't say I've ever seen Ana play so well. I didn't recognize the deft ball striker in the reddish dress who's matured into an athlete. Svetlana Kuznetsova couldn't stand the heat.


Ana has been in the finals of the two biggest events on the calendar this year, and she won this one.

Djoke ended Mardy Fish's improbable run through three top 10 players, including Roger Federer, into the Pacific Life Open final.

After rallying to steal the second set from the world No. 3, Fish had a 40-0 lead on Djoke's serve in the first game of the third set. Three consecutive aces and two service winners later, Djoke quelled the excitement rising in the crowd.

He knocked the wind out of opponent, too. Fish dropped serve in the next game. He never recovered.

Djoke has now won the two biggest events on the calendar this year, defeating the world No. 1 in Melbourne and and No. 2 in Indian Wells.

Neither Raja or Rafa have won titles in 2008. Raja hasn't even been to a final.

A tennishead said that the claycourt season just got more interesting.

I agree.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Mardy Fish Routs Roger Federer



If somebody had told me that Mardy Fish would be the next American to defeat Roger Federer anywhere in the world since Andy Roddick nearly 5 years ago, I'd have told them they were out of their frickin mind.

But that's exactly what the record books will record. 6-3, 6-2. Woah. The fewest games Raja has won in defeat since he became No. 1 just over five years ago. And Mardy did it on home soil.

Congratulations on the biggest win of your career, Mr. Fish.

I just don't have anything else to say right now.

Last American Standing



Mardy Fish upset David Nalbandian 6-3, 6-7(5), 7-6(4) to advance to his first Masters semifinal since 2003, where in his quarterfinal match he happened to beat none other than David Nalbandian.

He gets a shot at the well-rested Roger Federer, who got yet another walkover at a big event from Tommy Haas. Wonder what's going on between those two...

It's a great result for Mardy who has struggled with injury after injury after injury over the past few years but has never given up the fight.

In the other semifinal, I'm picking Rafael Nadal to overcome Novak Djokovic in three sets.

In the women's final, Svetlana Kuznetsova will beat Ana Ivanovic in three sets.

Heard Around Indian Wells

by Savannah

(Pic by Roger fan Krist for RF.com)

Rumor hot line was buzzing this past week. Sure an ATP Masters Series and a WTA Tier 1 event were taking place but who could resist wondering if Miroslava Vavrinec is pregnant? Tennis.com published it online about 3:00p eastern United States time. It was gone after 5:00p, again eastern United States time. By that time of course tennisheads around the world were speculating what this would do the the man still looked on as the FedGod by some. Mr Federer denied that his constant companion is pregnant. That should settle that, no?


The other hot rumor involves Maria Sharapova. No she's not rumored to be pregnant. There is speculation that she may skip Miami though. She made statements after losing to Svetlana Kuznetsova regarding fatigue and the need for rest that would lead one to believe she may just skip the event known as the Fifth Slam. Of course it has nothing to do with Justine, Serena, and Venus, well rested and fit, will be there. Maria isn't the Tommy Haas of the WTA. And even if it wasn't that, Sony Ericsson would have a cow. She just signed a mega deal with them as their spokesperson. Somehow I don't believe they will react kindly to a non show by their star. If this is her way to try and get a cakewalk to the semi's though it just may work. Source

UPDATE
The Miami Herald is reporting that Maria has officially withdrawn from Miami.

What Makes A Champion
Speaking of Herr Haas I think those poisoning rumors can be put to rest. Tommy boy may have been suffering from gastric distress during the tie with Russia but it was probably of his own making. Talk was the Russian's always said they wouldn't bother to poison Haas. I believe them now that a stuffy nose has caused Tommy to pull out of his quarter final meeting with Mirka's baby daddy. Another German player, Philipp Kohlschreiber had a horrible cold and managed to play three sets of competitive tennis. If I were Herr Kohlschreiber I'd avoid macchiatta's for the foreseeable future.

Good Planning
So they held a "Challenger" event this week in Florida. Called "Sunrise" it had a line up that looked like a main tour ATP event. Nice idea though. Sandwiched in between the Pacific Life Open and Sony Ericsson this event is either a consolation tournament or a warm-up for ATP players. Nice move guys.

Tennis and Race
While Senator Barack Obama was challenging the United States to talk seriously about race, Richard Williams was doing his part to start a dialogue. The entire article is HERE. I leave it up to you to read the interview. It's not that long. I think anyone reading the article should keep in mind that Richard Williams was born and raised in the Deep South. Nooses hanging from trees during his youth more than likely featured a body hanging from them. The Jim Crow system was in full force. Black men don't always talk about racism candidly with those perceived as outsiders. As a black woman I've known my share of racism but I can only imagine what it takes for a Black man to navigate through a society that at times seems intent on denying the very fact that he is a man. As a rule I think the majority society would be stunned to know what most Black men think. Hey, Larry Scott even stopped ruminating on his Golden Child to make a statement. For those who think Richard just ran off at the mouth keep in mind he steered completely clear of Jennifer Capriati's situation when discussing his daughters off court activities and why they're healthy for them as athletes. He knew exactly what he was doing and saying. Just my humble opinion.

Drugs
You can imagine my surprise when a player named Mark Nielsen from New Zealand was suspended for two years after testing positive for a banned substance. The ATP was making it seem all the druggies were from one country. Who knew?
Source

From the "What Took So Long" Files...
There will now be uniformity regarding challenges on court.

Each player will get a maximum of three unsuccessful challenges per set, plus one wrong challenge in a tiebreaker, the International Tennis Federation said Wednesday in a joint statement with the ATP, WTA Tour and Grand Slam committee.

Players can still make an unlimited number of correct challenges.

Challenge System Revised

End Notes
It's almost time for clay court tennis! No more 140+ mile an hour serves masquerading as tennis. Thought, point construction and physical fitness will be seen once again.
I have to say that the hard court season has surprised with actual tennis managing to sneak it's way in. After Miami I'll give a summary of what I think were the best hard court matches so far.

FSN has ventured into tennis. With ESPN more interested in bass fishing I was holding out hope for better coverage from the people at Fox. Hope is a fragile thing. Yesterday being Good Friday I was home stretched out on the couch watching Mardy Fish versus David Nalbandian. Well kinda sorta watching in between cat naps. I did know they split the first two sets and that a third was in the offing so it's not like I was dead asleep okay?

Now fully awake I saw what I thought was a commercial for upcoming National Hockey League coverage. "Long commercial," I thought to myself checking the time to see if I'd really lost an hour and missed the televising of the third set (which turned out to be a tie break but I digress). I hadn't. FSN just switched coverage. No announcement, no warning. One minute tennis was on. The next it was hockey. They did stick with coverage during some crucial men's matches but overall I have to say the switch they pulled yesterday, and other days, is what I'm taking away from their coverage. There are like a gazillion FSN channels. A simple announcement to hockey or tennis fans saying that coverage would continue on FSN channel 6000 would suffice. Tennis fans are literate and I'm sure most NHL fans are too. I felt like the person who left a spouse for someone else only to find out the new person was worse than the first one. At least ESPN let you know they were switching to bass fishing. It can only get better right?

I also came to the realization this week that there is "homerism" and then there's Justin Gimelstob. I missed the ESPN team. Even Patrick McEnroe. The only sisters there were the Radwanska's and the Bondarenko's so Cliffy wouldn't have been confused. Patrick would have had to call the matches without channeling his inner fanboy. The only way to watch tennis from home is with the sound on so that you can hear the sound of the ball on the racquet and hitting the court. When you have to turn the sound off in order to avoid destroying your television it's bad. I don't have Tennis Channel so I was not prepared for Justin's style of analysis. I should have known what to expect though since he is the man who screamed at Federer from the sidelines of a match he was covering to challenge a call. What happened to objective reporting and commentary? I understand Justin is friendly with most of the players. But he should check his friendship at the door. It made for very uncomfortable viewing for this fan. For match calling the BBC is still tops.

ATP Masters Series Television had a lot of technical difficulties this go around for some reason. A lot of buffering occurred which is not normal for the site. I am glad that for featured matches the subscriber had the option to listen or not listen to commentary. Most of the time I chose the without commentary option. Made it feel like I was there live.

Pictures of the Week
I don't know who Harry How is. I do know he has a fantastic eye and managed to take pictures of tennis players that approached high art. His use of color and shade in this age of digital photography is stunning. Here is a sample of his work.

Richard Gasquet


Aggie Radwanska



Svetlana Kuznetsova



Guillermo Canas

Friday, March 21, 2008

Nadal Finally Beats Blake



Defending champion Rafael Nadal got a step closer to another Indian Wells title with a 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 victory over James Blake at the Pacific Life Open.

I didn't see the first two and a half sets of the quarterfinal slugfest. I was watching the scoreboard and then I bit the bullet and purchased another subscription to ATP Masters Series TV. Even though oil is $3.69 USD up from $2.59 USD from a few weeks ago. Even though we burn 100 gallons of oil every two weeks. But I digress.

If the final games of the match were any indication, it must've been a great match. I'd like to have seen how Blake lost his break lead in the first set to love. But he was outplayed during what I saw. Rafa simply had an answer for all of Blake's power today and refused to be pushed behind the baseline.

That's the key to Rafa's success on hardcourts. Sure, Indian Wells is slower than, say, the US Open, but Blake beat Rafa when they played in the desert two years ago. If Rafa can play this kind of ball on hardcourts post Wimbledon, I'd imagine his late-season woes would subside.

In the semifinals, he'll get another chance at Novak Djokovic in a rematch of last year's final.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I'm Back And Missing Tennis

I arrived home yesterday after driving 1,200 miles. Weather was foggy and rainy. By Maine, it had turned to snow and ice, and I almost wrapped myself around a tree five times. It's a good thing I grew up in Wisconsin and learned how to drive on snowy, winding, hilly roads. I saw no less than four cars disabled in snow banks off the side of the road. I needed every bit of experience and calm to get home safely. Sitting on the side of the road and waiting for the storm to pass wasn't an option. That's the easiest way to get crushed by another driver who can't navigate the conditions.

Oh, yeah. This is my tennis blog, isn't it?



Haven't seen a bit of tennis since Dubai and Bangalore. I see Mardy Fish has defeated some quality opponents including Lleyton Hewitt and world No. 5 Nikolay Davydenko, to make his first Masters quarterfinal since Cincinnati back in 2003. I see James Blake, who finally beat Richard Gasquet in a Davis Cup preview, will get another chance to dismiss Rafael Nadal in another quarterfinal. I see that Roger Federer has recovered in breathtaking time from his convenient delayed mono diagnosis and has stormed through the draw to face Tommy Haas, who extended his winning head-to-head over Andy Roddick in the second round, giving folks reason to speak of the curse of Dubai. But remember, Andy has been to exactly two semifinals at Indian Wells, having to win tough matches along the way, and never a final in the desert. When I saw the draw, I didn't expect him to get past Tommy whether or not Andy had won, or even played, Dubai. Not on a hardcourt as slow as this, not in a place where Andy has lost to the likes of Igor Andreev, whose record on hardcourts is worse than Andy's on clay.

Nothing particularly surprising or exciting happening in the women's draw, unless you're in love with any of the six women who remain. Lindsay Davenport is doing quite well in her local event, the resurgence of Vera Zvonareva continues, Maria Sharapova remains undefeated in 2008, Svetlana Kuznetsova appears to remember how to play tennis, and the Serbian Vitches can face-off in the semifinals if each win their matches today.

My challenge is finding a free livestream to watch what's left of this event. And getting Mother Nature to stop sending us all this snow.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Seen Around The Pacific Life Open 3/17/08

by Savannah


When you've watched a player a long time you get to know his or her quirks, fan or not. You can tell from how the player sets up to serve whether he or she is nervous, prepared, or scared shitless. You can tell from how the player hits their shots if this is going to be a walk in the park or on the wild side. The fan picture above is from Dubai. I think her facial expression indicates the current state of American tennis especially when it comes to the ATP.

As soon as I saw Andy Roddick take the court yesterday I knew he was in for a rough day. The Roddick who took the court in Dubai was calm, collected, confident. The man who took the court yesterday was as jumpy as the proverbial cat on a hot tin roof. Jumpy is not a good place for Andy Roddick to be. I remembered that Andy and Feliciano Lopez played one of the better hard court matches I've seen in some time in contesting the Dubai Final. As soon as the first jet powered serve cleared the net yesterday I figured Tommy Haas had the match in the bag. I wasn't aware of the head to head between the two men - I found that out after the match. I was just going by style of play. Tennisheads were saying that the surface worked against Andy. They say he couldn't get any help from the slower Indian Wells court which is why he played the way he did. Not untrue. But Andy Roddick is a professional tennis player. During one incarnation he actually played well on red dirt. In my opinion Andy came in not to play tennis but to blow his opponent - Tommy "Macchiata" Haas - off the court. Tommy was having none of it and waited for the implosion that would occur when Andy realized a lot of his balls were coming back. Rallies were not his friend yesterday. Roddick doesn't have the patience unless everything is going his way. And unfortunately as Mick Jagger opined, "you can't always get what you want". The challenge a player faces in being considered one of the top dogs is how he does on surfaces not to his or her liking. It may be too late for Andy to change his ways. He needs a coach. I'm not sure his brother is the one to deliver a punch to the gut when one is needed.

The other major hit American tennis took yesterday was delivered by Lleyton Hewitt. He systematically destroyed Sam "Kid Porsche" Querrey who coming into Indian Wells was once again being talked up as the future of American tennis. Not so fast there Bunky.

Cheering squad or not it was obvious that the guy who said he'd rather be driving his mother's Porsche was not going to beat a determined Lleyton Hewitt. Size definitely didn't matter in this match as Hewitt showed the Kid how it's done. The only question was how bad the beat down was going to be. As shown here the Kid was probably already on the Pacific Coast Highway.

There are three Americans left.

So what were the women up to while all of this was going on? I have to say the saddest match I saw was Amelie Mauresmo vs Alona Bondarenko. I'm giving away my age when I say I remember when Mauresmo burst on the scene way back when. I remember her drive, the raw talent and thinking that she was going to be a player to reckon with. Her career shows that it takes more than talent to stay at the top of the heap even in the WTA. I saw a player yesterday who could barely keep the ball between the lines. Shots she used to make in her sleep were ending up way beyond baseline or sideline boundaries. Alona didn't have to do much more than keep the ball in play. I've read that Amelie might hang it up soon. Maybe she needs a sabbatical that doesn't involve sickness or injury so that she can decide just what she wants from her life and from tennis. As it stands right now she is a whisper of her former self.


Thanks to the two hours or so of live tennis provided in the States by FSN I spent most of my day in front of my computer watching coverage on ATP Masters Series Television. They're also showing the women's matches of note which is great since the WTA doesn't seem to grasp the concept behind online viewing as of yet. I do have to mention in passing that for once it was the WTA that had it's draws up for fans before the ATP this go around. Stunning development. Maybe they'll find a way to get into that new fangled on line thing.

Sorry for the digression. So I'm sitting in front of my computer screen and watching Maria Sharapova's match against Eleni Daniilidou of Greece. I should say trying to watch. I've usually watched Ms Sharapova on my television. It doesn't have surround sound which apparently is a good thing since the sound coming from my speakers during Maria's match was threatening to deafen me. I know, I know. I'm a fan of Venus and Serena. I am a Monica Seles fan. But is it really necessary for her to make that much noise?! Sheesh. I had to turn the volume all the way down just to be able to watch. To her credit Eleni did not roll over and play dead. She fought. But Sharapova used her big serve and power game very effectively and Eleni, not the fittest of players, didn't stand a chance. The surface didn't seem to affect Maria's game at all.

Haruka was anxious to see Shahar Pe'er vs Sania Mirza. Personally I wasn't keen on watching it. I figured Shahar was the one who would prevail over a mentally fragile Sania. I was wrong. Sania plays well in California. She is said to be setting up shop outside of India so maybe she will end up living in Cali. When she lost the first set by donating a tie break to her doubles partner I figured the match was over. Again I was wrong. Sania raced to a lead in the second set and looked ready to wrap it up when she mentally imploded. Then she did a smart thing. The WTA allows on court coaching at this event and she asked for her coach. Not only did she hold on and win the second set but she won the third. She won it playing tennis not ball bashing and used her big forehand well. That this was a big win for Sania goes without saying. It'll be interesting to see how she does going forward.


The other match I have to mention is the one between Mario Ancic and Fernando Gonzalez. Fernando has been struggling of late and Mario is just making it back from a bout with mono that kept him off the tour for several months. They split the first two sets with Ancic winning the first and Fernando showing why he's a threat in convincingly winning the second set. It looked as if he would go on and win the match from Ancic who was giving a crash course in Croatian curses. I was learning the words to the Chilean fight song thanks to the very enthusiastic fans who support Chilean players world wide.

It sounds odd when you say it but tennis is funny. Ancic came out of the gate in the third set like a bat out of hell. Before Fena knew what was happening he was down 5-0. It was just like that watching it. "What the hell" was all this viewer could say as Ancic grabbed the third set by the throat and didn't let go. Gonzo did wake up and managed not to be served a bagel or a breadstick but it was too little too late. He could not make up the double break lead his opponent had at that point.


One final note. It gets cold in the desert at night. I poked fun at the women who came out to play in Hong Kong earlier this year in leggings and long sleeves. But Daniella Hantuchova came out dressed for play in Canada last night. She was looking good but I expected her to have to make her exit via dog sled.


Tennishead Doings
I hang out on a lot of sites to find out what's going on among fans, superfans, and tennisheads. I supposed you could call them tennis geeks but I like tennisheads. There are enough fan sites, fan blogs and professional blogs to sustain any tennishead's obsession. One fan board however has gone the extra mile.

"Kirkus" and his merry band over at Talk About Tennis apparently have a team of fans on site at the Pacific Life Open aka Indian Wells. Their day to day experiences are posted HERE. Photo Galleries are also available. There are also good quality audio clips from some of the pressers available.

A Final Note

Along with great fan doings there are bizarre fan doings as well. I'm sure most have heard or read about the "fan girl gone wild" at Andy Roddick's pre match press conference. If not here is the
Link
I think the young lady was nervous and like many fans when faced with their idol she went overboard. Andy handled it well despite his obvious dislike of the line of questioning. I guess this is 101 in what not to do at a press conference.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Open Thread

I am in Milwaukee until next week with family to memorialize my father's death last year and don't know how much Internet access I will have. I won't be able to watch much of Indian Wells either. Please use this thread to talk amongst yourselves about all the action and the Pacific Life Open and other tennis news. Sorry I wasn't able to do my usual previews for this big event.

I appreciate your continued readership and will check in whenever I can. Things should be back to normal soon.

Peace and blessings.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Monday, March 10, 2008

Querrey Wins First ATP Title



I'm a day late and a dollar short. You can thank my ISP for that. Anyway, Sam Querrey rallied from behind to defeated South African wildcard Kevin Anderson 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to win the Tennis Channel Open, his first ATP title in his first ATP final.

It took 40 tries, but the smiling American whom Andy Roddick called an after-school player has final realized some of his potential to hoist a trophy.

He save a match point in his opening match against veteran Sebastien Grosjean, and had an impressive win in a bizarre match over counterpuncher extraordinaire Guillermo Canas in the semifinals. Querrey showed patience and mental toughness as he squandered game point after game point. It was ironic that in the end, he ground down Canas. He also beat Nicolas Kiefer and Julien Benneteau. Not a bad week at all for the 20-year-old.



Serena Williams won her first title in 11 months with a 7-5. 6-3 victory over Patty Schnyder at the Bangalore Open. It was her 29th career title.

So, let's see. We've got Andy winning his second title in three weeks, Sam winning his first, and Serena ending a title drought. I should also note that 16-year-old Asia Muhammed reached the finals of the ITF Hilton Cup where she fell to veteran Frenchwoman Camille Pin.

I guess American tennis isn't in dire straights afterall.

Tonight, Pete Sampras will play Roger Federer in their much-anticipated final exhibiton at Madison Square Garden. If one believes that Roger has mono, then I guess he has a built in excuse should he lose to the American legend. It ought to be interesting.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Roddick Reigns In Dubai



Andy Roddick stepped out of his comfort zone. He ditched the American hardcourt scene where he tends to beat up on “nobodies” and headed to the Middle East where the big boys play. And he came out on top. In the best match of the event, he rallied from behind and took out an inspired Feliciano Lopez 6-7(8), 6-4, 6-2 to earn the Dubai Championships crown in his debut appearance.

Lindsay Davenport was the only other American to win this title until today. On the men’s side, no American has even made a final in the events 16-year history. Andy did it on his first try. And never even lost his serve.

Not two months ago, Roddick lost a five-setter to a future journeyman in the third round of the Australian Open. Today he makes tennis history. Sounds lofty, doesn't it? But it's true.

Eleven unforced errors. That’s all there were between the two combatants. Just eleven. But they struck 46 aces (24 for Lopez) and a total of 78 winners. It was the best tennis of the season that I’ve seen. From both sides of the net.

Feliciano’s serve is a thing of beauty. His slice backhand, a knife. His forehand, a spinning behemoth. Andy’s serve is a bomb infinite; his forehand, a bullet recovered. His backhand was so brilliant today that a commentator suggested he should have them all framed and hung in his house.

He never even faced a break point.



Is this the career resurgence tennis has been waiting for? I say tennis because Andy at his best (and sometimes at his not-so-best; see above) has been involved in some of the greatest battles the sport has seen dating back to the 2003 Australian Open.

As TheTruth wrote a few days ago:

You really have to give it to Andy, though, for his mental strength. He is in one of the worst positions of anyone on the tour. All American hopes have been pinned on him for the last seven years. He has been celebrated, overhyped, appeared to be making the hype a reality, then cut down to a stump, ostracized, ridiculed, and discarded. He had led the brigade, then been relegated to a spectator, and in all that, he has never given up the ghost, allowed anyone to define him, write his epitaph, or crumble under man-made pressure. He has slipped at times, but in every match he plays, he remains a warrior. All he needs is to regain the defiance, the passion, and the bravado, because one thing Andy Roddick has shown us all is...he's not going anywhere, and he won't be denied. Andy will write his own epitaph, and in the end, hopefully others will see his strength and tenacity and he will be lauded for the champion that he is. A true champion, who goes to war, may take some hits, but stays in the war until the battle is over.



Meantime, across the globe in a place called Bangalore, Serena Williams, my other favorite player, beat big sister Venus Williams 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(4) in a semifinal match that lasted more than two hours. Serena won 117 points; Venus 115. They both won 58% of their serve points, which means they both won 42% of their return points. Both players held a match point. Serena closed it out on her third.

It doesn’t get any closer than that.

And yet, we couldn’t see it in the States. Not on the tube, not on the Internet.

I would say that I could spit bullets, but Andy’s biggest victory since the 2006 Cincinnati Masters keeps me smiling.

Battle on, warriors, battle on.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Roddick Jacks Up Djokovic



Andy Roddick put on another gutsy performance to knock out world No. 3 and Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic 7-6(5), 6-3 in an electric semifinal in Dubai.

With his victory over Rafael Nadal yesterday, this becomes the first time in Andy's career that he's defeated the No. 2 and No. 3 players in the same event. And neither of them could break Andy's serve.

I guess Jimmy Connors' resignation from Andy's camp has proven to be a positive thing. After the 2006 US Open final, I thought Connors' mere presence put too much pressure on Roddick.

Clearly, I'm over the moon. But the tennis from both sides of the net was outstanding. And I'll give credit where credit is due: the sportsmanship from both of them was top notch, especially with the political strain between America and Serbia over Kosovo's independence.

When sports figures can rise above politics, it's a beautiful thing.



(Yeah, this victory deserves another picture.)