Monday, September 29, 2008

Andy Roddick, the Generous Nice Guy

by Neil Harmon, Times Online - It is about time that Andy Roddick's contribution to men's tennis in the past nine years on the ATP Tour received full and unequivocal respect and the Net Post does not mean it should happen now just because of the gesture, when he lifted the China Open yesterday - the 26th title of his career - to donate $25,000 of his prize money to those still suffering after May's catastrophic earthquake in the country's Sichuan Province. He has deserved his panegyric for a long time.

"I would really like to contribute a part of my money to those families affected, to those who lost everything they had, suffered painful injuries or lost loved ones in the earthquake," said Roddick, who defeated Dudi Sela of Israel, 6-4, 6-7, 6-3. "It is my great honour to be in Beijing to work with Chinese Tennis Association to assist those kids who are in need. It is an athlete's privilege and responsibility to give back."

One would expect nothing more from Roddick who is 26 now, has been a grand slam champion, the world No1, has inspired his country to win the Davis Cup, has withstood the slings and arrows of being, at various times, the "Next Big Thing", the "It Man" and the "When Is He Going To Win Another Major?" guy of American tennis, and done it all with a sense of duty and humour that often goes either ignored or misinterpreted.

He has ridden the good times and the not so good and maintained a view of the life he enjoys with more wise sense than people twice his age. No-one has had more reason to take at face value Kipling's words about triumph and disaster that look down upon him every time he enters Wimbledon's Centre Court. His record at the All England championships is played 36, won 28, he has lost in two finals (both to Roger Federer) and one semi final (also to Federer). He wants to win it very badly indeed.

This year, Roddick was beaten in the second round on Centre Court by an inspired Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia, to which his response was profound. The Net Post quotes him verbatim: "I literally, you know, any chance I got I pretty much choked it. That's tough to deal with, and that's not something that you really want to do. It's not an easy thing to say, but it's pretty much what happened. I could sit here and try to dance around it all night but you guys watched it. It was what it was. It's like you want something so bad you almost squeeze too tight."

Continue to read...

[h/t to rabbit for the article.]

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Roddick Wins 26th Title in China Open Debut

Perhaps Andy Roddick ought to only play events he's never played before. This is the second title this year, Dubai the first, that he's won on the first go around, both of them at events far, far, away.

He used to play his best tennis on American soil. Now, he's working his mojo best in Asia.

Go figure.

He defeated Israel's Dudi Sela, 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-4 to earn his third title of the year and 26th of his career.

Jelena Jankovic beat Svetlana Kuznetsova for the women's title.

Tsonga Downs Djokovic for First Title

Sweet revenge. Welcome back Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and stay healthy.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Japanese Star Kimiko Date Returns

TOKYO, Japan - This decade there has been another Japanese woman making the headlines back home, but in the 1990s it was Kimiko Date who led her nation in the tennis world, winning seven singles titles on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour and making it all the way up to No.4 in the rankings. She retired aged 26 at the end of the 1996 season, but now - nearly a dozen years later - she has come back for a piece of the action, and is enjoying every minute of it.

No other Japanese player has achieved the same level of success - at least in singles - as Date did in the first phase of her career. In addition to her seven titles she had 18 wins over Top 10 players (including one over a reigning world No.1, beating Steffi Graf in Fed Cup play in 1996) and spent 153 non-consecutive weeks in that elite herself. She reached the semifinals at three of the four Grand Slams and was a two-time quarterfinalist at the other. The only other Japanese player near the same level of success is Ai Sugiyama, who has been as high as No.8 in singles (although she has made it to No.1 in the world in doubles).

Continue Reading...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Heard Around

by Savannah

Srdjan Djokovic, father of the three Djokovic brothers, is upset with the 2009 Davis Cup draw. According to Mr. Djokovic the draw was rigged against Serbia in 2008 when Serbia drew Russia in the first round, and again in 2009 where Serbia has to play Spain in Spain.

He criticizes the Serbian Tennis federation for not pushing harder for an "easier" draw.

Savannah's World

Ali in Thailand

Jo-Wifried Tsonga kickboxes in Bangkok. He'll try to knockout compatriot Gael Monfils in the Thailand Open semifinals.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

2009 Davis Cup World Group Draw

by Savannah

Looks like all the hopes and dreams of tennisheads got answered.

2009 World Group Draw
The full draw for the 2009 World Group is as follows:

Argentina (s)(c)(*) v Netherlands
France (s) v Czech Republic (c)
(s)(c) v Switzerland
Croatia(s)(c)(*) v Chile

Israel v Sweden (s)(c)
Romania (c) v Russia (s)
Austria v Germany (s)(c)
Serbia v Spain(s)(c)

(s) = seeded nation
(c) = choice of ground
(*) = choice of ground decided by lot

Seeded nations according to ITF Davis Cup Nations Ranking: 1. Argentina, 2. Spain, 3. Russia, 4. USA, 5. Croatia, 6. Sweden, 7. Germany, 8. France

Unseeded nations: Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Chile, Israel, Romania, Austria, Serbia.

First round ties to be played on 6-8 March '09.

Looks like the ITF wants to follow up it's blockbuster 2008 final by starting 2009 with a bang.

Will the US team go back to James Blake, Andy Roddick, Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan or have Sam Querrey and Mardy Fish worked their way onto the squad? Will the Swiss team still be anchored by Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka? The tie will be played in the United States. Both teams play well on the concrete so the only question will be how fast the court is.

Will France field Gael Monfils and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga? Who will Shamil Tarpishev pick for his team? Will we see a Russian team featuring Marat Safin, Dmitry Tursunov, Igor Andreev and Igor Kunitsyn?

Will Serbia come into Spain with enough mental toughness to give Spain a run for their money? I don't see either country changing their current line ups and I don't think much guessing has to be done as to what the surface will be.

Juan Martin Del Potro
will anchor the Argentine team along with David Nalbandian who is still a top Davis Cup player. It'll be interesting who will play doubles for them.

March suddenly seems like a long way off doesn't it?

End Note
Speculation as to the surface for the Davis Cup 2008 Final continues to run wild. Argentine fans seem to think Cordoba will be the location and that indoor carpet will be the surface.

The formal announcement is set for September 29. Yahoo is reporting that the tie will be held at the Orfeo Arena in David Nalbandian's home town of Cordoba.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Savannah: It's On!

There was no dead rubber in cloudy, chilly Buenos Aires. Team Argentina needed five rubbers to defeat Team Russia and clinch a berth in the Final which will be held in December. Argentina will play host to Spain, winners over defending Davis Cup champions the United States. Details will follow but as usual tennisheads are speculating over what could be the deciding factor - the surface the tie will be played on. Team Argentina's Captain Mancini has apparently indicated the preferred surface will be indoor carpet, the surface favored by David Nalbandian. Juan Martin del Potro, the rising star of Argentine tennis, will have to prove how well he can play on the stuff during the European Indoor Season.

Read the rest...

Hot Ticket

Dinara Safina wins another Tier 1 title in Tokyo. Don't touch her. You might get burned.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Spain Bloodies USA 4-1

All the optimists come down from your highs yet?

Andy Roddick will always be my guy. That's the way fandom works. But I remain as objective as I can be about what's going on with him. He can't win big matches anymore. And that's all there is to it.

Rafael Nadal on the other hand was nothing short of sublime today.

Juan Martin del Potro is trying to save Argentina from David Nalbandian's predictable meltdown.

Talk amongst yourselves.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


I'm watching the replay now, even though we all already know the result. The hip-bumping team of Mardy Fish and Mike Bryan gave the US hope as they battled through five sets to defeat the lefty team of Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco.

Folks here are optimistic about Andy Roddick's chances against Rafael Nadal tomorrow. Look, I saw Andy's first match against Rafa on clay in Seville, Spain in the Davis Cup finals back in 2004. That was an entirely winnable match. And even though it was post-Wimbledon final 2004, Andy had to have more confidence than now and Rafa was still a relative newbie who had the same drive and fight and determination he has now, but far less confidence. It was the best claycourt match I've ever seen Andy play and he still lost.

Rafa may be playing poorly, but he's playing for his country. Andy can't win big five-set matches anymore, at home or abroad. And suddenly, out of nowhere, you all think Andy is going to beat Rafa on clay in Spain?

What are y'all smoking and can I have some?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Spain Leads USA 2-0

Sam Querrey did the best he could. Even got up a set and a break against world No. 1 Rafael Nadal. But we all knew how it would end. Props to Sam for putting up a fight.

Andy Roddick loses another grueling five-setter in overtime to David Ferrer. At this point, I'm so numb to such things, I can't even feign upset.

No one gave the USA much of a chance, even though they teased us with an upset and got close to a victory, which, in itself, was a surprise to most.

I'm sure Sam is eating up the atmosphere, playing for his country for the first time in Davis Cup. I'm sure Andy is gutted yet again.

Behind David Nalbandian and Juan Martin del Potro, Argentina is up 2-0 on Russia. They haven't even dropped a set.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Davis Cup Semifinals: USA vs. Spain

Russia plays Argentina and we take on Spain. NetHead Kourtin' Karen is with the group in Madrid this week. You can see her extensive live Davis Cup coverage on her new blog Global Village Tennis News.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fed Cup Champions Once More

For a summary of the final day, click here.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

New Kid on the Block

by Savannah

Q. What do you take out of your experience at the Open, particularly your match against Rafa?

SAM QUERREY: You know, just got to play with that confidence. I was doing a great job that week of taking care of my body with stretching, massages, plenty of water and good food. I'm definitely going to have to keep that up to play through five-set matches on clay.

I played well against Rafa. I played him twice now. I've taken sets off him in both matches. I've got some confidence. I mean, both those matches were on hard court. Clay might be a different story. I definitely got the confidence I can play with him and possibly beat him.

Read the rest...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Fed Cup Final

Fed Cup Final Draw

Venue: Club de Campo, Madrid, Spain
(clay – outdoors)

Anabel Medina Garrigues (ESP) v Vera Zvonareva (RUS)
Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) v Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS)
Anabel Medina Garrigues (ESP) v Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS)
Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) v Vera Zvonareva (RUS)
Nuria Llagostera Vives/Virginia Ruano Pascual (ESP) v Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina (RUS)

Raise your hand if you care.

Teen Phenom Wins US Open Junior Title

When Coco Vandeweghe turned professional last spring she said she was going to take a nice-and-easy approach to getting herself some notice in women's tennis. The plan was not to rush and enter every ITF tournament, grab all the points she could for a high ranking and try and become an overnight sensation.

The problem is Vandeweghe's talent got in the way of her plan. She is an overnight sensation.

The 16-year-old from Carlsbad, Calif., has made a quick jump, in just five months, becoming the first U.S. junior player in 13 years to win the U.S. Open junior title. Vandeweghe also became the first player to win the tournament as a wild card when she beat Venezuela's Gabriela Paz, 7-6, 6-1, in the final last Sunday in New York.

Read the rest...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11, 2001

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May the dead rest in peace. May the living find justice.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Lucky No. 13 (UPDATED)

Back to the good old days. Roger Federer got a boost of confidence in Beijing, a workable draw in New York, and a virtual walkover in the final.

Everyone has an opinion about Raja's draw. All I can say is that he fought off a tough unseeded foe in five sets in the round of 16 and a qualifier in the quarterfinals. He played as well as he needed to play, but it wasn't until the practice-session-passing-as-a-final did Raja display the magic his fans have been calling for all year.

2005 Wimbledon final redux.

For those who recall, Raja finished his semifinal just before the rains fell. Andy Roddick had completed one very long tiebreak set against Thomas Johansson in what turned into the best match of the forthnight.

But Andy and Thomas had to finish their match on Saturday while Raja rested, mentally, physically, emotionally.

The final was a joke. Andy had no energy, no fight, no shots, and Raja ran through him like a freight train.

Fastforward three years and two months, change the surface and the tournament, but keep the same first names and you get the same result.

You see, the scheduling, the luck of the draw, if that's what you want to call it, means that Raja was virtually spotted a set in the finals. I say that because the player coming in with no rest to contest a best-of-five affair feels enormous pressure to win the first set.

Both players know this.

So Raja blasts out of the blocks, plays a flawless first set, faces little resistance, and the match is over. The rest is a formality.

No one can blame Andy Murray for not being able to fight. Unless you argue that he was genuflecting. I say it was his first Slam final, and just a day before, he managed to beat the world No. 1 for the first time in his career. For him to even have had a chance to make the final competitive, he would have needed a day to digest it all. At the very least, he would have needed a similar turnaround between matches as his opponent. He didn't get it.

Which is why the US Open scheduling, with or without rain, pisses me off. It's all about television ratings. They need to air the semifinals and finals on Saturday and Sunday in order to maximize advertising revenue.

The USTA doesn't give a damn about the players or the fans who come to see the event in person.

Unless there's a fluke finalist or one player is comprehensively overmatched, the fresher player is going to win the men's final nine times out of ten.

Which means as soon as the second men's semifinal was suspended till Sunday, it was game, set, match for Raja, no matter his opponent.

Lucky number thirteen.

That Andy would say something to effect of, "Don't ever let anyone tell you you can't win again," during the handshake at the net had to be music to Raja's ears. Can't wait to see the dynamic between them the next time they play.

Federer is now the only player in history to win two Slams five consecutive times. And he adds to his record-shattering 18 consecutive Slam semifinals. Like I said in the comments a few days ago, he hasn't gone anywhere.

It's too bad the feeding frenzy also known as the media has been tempted to overreact to his wavering confidence this year. But when making three consecutive Slam finals is marketed by the pundits and bemoaned by so many of his fans as the sky is falling on Raja's career, Raja is washed up, blah, blah, blah, perhaps folks need to step back and put things in perspective.

Something tells me that somewhere, right now, as I type this, Raja is again being extolled as the greatest player of all time and the media frenzy to declare him such will begin anew.

Monday, September 08, 2008

US OPEN 2008: Men's Final Preview

Roger Federer (SUI) [2]

Andy Murray (GBR) [6]

The 4-time defending champion Roger Federer has not lost here since the fourth round in 2002 (to his former arch-nemesis David Nalbandian) and has been in 16 previous finals (12-4) while the 21-year-old Scot Andy Murray is in his first major final, one day after winning his first major semi-final against the World #1. Almost no one wins their first major final, except the truly great (Federer, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams) but Murray may just be able to break that jinx.

As Matt Cronin puts it, today's rain-delayed men's final (at 2pm PDT, streamed live at and on CBS) will come down to "Federer's wile versus Murray's guile." On paper, you would have to give the edge to Murray. He loves hard-courts, all of his titles coming on that surface and he has won three titles this year on that surface while Federer has none. He is even one of the three players on the ATP tour who own a career advantage over Federer, having beaten him two of the three times they played, including in January this year when Federer was coming off a shocking (at the time) straight set loss to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open.

However, I really think the correct lens to view this match is as a rematch of last year's final: the skillful experienced defending champion facing a challenge from a very talented youg upstart with an all-court game. Federer won that showdown by escaping with the first two sets in two tiebreak sets despite being set point down repeatedly in the first two sets. Djokovic folded soon afterwards and Federer celebrated with his 12th title. This year I believe, will be similar, but I do believe that Murray will be able to convert at least one of those set points, but Federer will still prevail in four sets.

I have previously correctly predicted the results of five of the seven final matches on the women's side at this year's open, and five of six final matches on the men's side.

PREDICTION: Federer in 4 sets.

Queen of the Night

Dear Tennisgods,

Thank you for such an extraordinary tennis match last night. It was easily the best US Open women's final I've ever seen live. For a change, not one was cowed by the moment. Just to win most of the points, Serena and Jelena had to travel coast to coast, north and south, just to come back to the middle to put a ball away. I was getting tired just watching the match. So much running. 6-4, 7-5. Two sets. Over two hours. Felt like the match went to a third-set tiebreak, didn't it?

Thank you for giving the divas the energy to keep it up. Jelena surprised me with how well she played and fought and wouldn't let Serena run away with it. Perhaps she might consider focusing on the match more than her own image on the jumbo tron, but whatever works.

Thank you most of all for allowing my girl to prevail. Her focus, even when her legs froze toward the end of the second set and she couldn't keep the ball in the court, was laser sharp. She almost looked like she had a flashback to that horrible night in 2004 when that chair umpire who shall not be named lost her that quarterfinal against Jennifer Capriati. Who just happened to be there last night.

It's been a long time between drinks, and I was beginning to think you had forsaken me. But it was worth the wait. Six years since Serena won her last US Open. That's the longest stretch in the Open Era between singles titles won by a woman player at the same Slam. Five years since Serena was ranked No. 1 in the world. The longest stretch since the ranking systems began for a player to fall from and return to the top of the charts.

And she did it all without dropping a set. She saved at least 11 set points in the final two matches, no?

I've never seen her so happy after winning a Slam. She looked like she was going to jump right out of the stadium. Reminded me of her big sister after winning Wimbledon in 2005 in a great, great final. And Venus was right there channeling her energy down to the court and rooting her little sister on to victory. Her father was dancing in the aisles. Her mother wore that 1,000 watt smile from ear to ear. It was a beautiful thing.

More of this, please. I don't want to be greedy, but I wouldn't mind if Serena played well enough to end the year at No. 1, which would throw all sorts of pie in the faces of her detractors. Already Chris Evert is trying to act as though she's always supported how Serena has handled herself in her career. We know better.

Whatever happens from here on out, thanks again for such a memorable match and I look forward to more.



Related Article
Greg Garber: BACK WITH A VENGEANCE - Serena ends magical U.S. Open with championship and No. 1 ranking

Sunday, September 07, 2008

US OPEN 2008: Women's Final Preview

Serena Williams USA (4)
Jelena Jankovic SRB (2)

by Mad Professah

The World No. 1 ranking is on the line. The 2008 US Open title is on the line. Bragging rights are on the line. 8-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams is facing first-time Grand Slam finalist Jelena Jankovic in a weather-postponed Women's Final at 6pm PDT (9pm EDT) on CBS.

Interestingly, the two have played each other six times head-to-head in their careers, splitting the matches 3-3 (all on hard courts). They have even played twice this year, with Jankovic winning at the Australian Open in straight sets when Serena was strangely flat while Williams won in Miami in three sets after blowing a large second set lead.

However, here in New York Serena has not lost more than three games in a set to anyone except her sister Venus and has also refused to lose a set, despite facing (count 'em!) ten set points in that magical quarterfinal. Jankovic is very hungry for a title, she wants to match her Serbian countrywoman's French Open title with one of her own, to confirm her No. 1 ranking with the concomitant major title. Serena has won this title twice before and has been working extremely hard all year long. She has been No. 1 before for 57 weeks in a row from 2002-2003 and by returning to the No. 1 spot she would complete a historical achievement by winning her 9th major championship and bring her one step closer to the extreme heights of tennis greatness of holding a double digit number of major titles.

PREDICTION: Williams in 2 sets.

US Open 9/7/08 Day 14

by Savannah


I usually put on an all news station when I wake up so that I can hear all the news, sports and weather. I was about to doze off when the 10:15a sports report led off blasting the USTA for it's "inexplicable", "indefensible" and in the end "unfair" decision to start the second semi - why was it the second semi anyway - a full hour and a half after the start of the Federer/Djokovic match. The sportscaster went on to say that the USTA is not commenting.

Read the rest...

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Roger Slams Djoke

Defending champion Roger Federer advanced to his fifth consecutive US Open final with a 6-3, 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 drubbing of Novak Djokovic in today's only completed semifinal.

May as well give him the trophy, his 13th Slam title, now. He gets a day of rest while Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray have to come back tomorrow to finish their match, weather permitting. (Andy is up two sets, but down a break in the third.)

I've seen this movie before (Wimbledon 2005) and I know how it ends.

Of course, if Andy comes out and wins 4 games in a row...

US OPEN 2008: Men's Semifinals Preview

The 2008 US Open Men' s semifinals are now set. Mad Professah correctly predicted the results of three of the four quarterfinals in both the Men's and Women's draws. Here are my predictions for the semis.

Rafael Nadal ESP (1) vs. Andy Murray GBR (6). At Wimbledon the match-up between Nadal and Murray was much hyped and did not live up to the buzz, with Nadal winning their quarterfinal in straight sets. In fact, Nadal has never lost to the Scotsman in 5 matches on multiple surfaces. The current World No. 1 has beaten the soon-to-be World No. 4 three times this year. However, I feel that this will cause Murray to be extra motivated to at least make this match competitive--he has nothing to lose and could gain his first major final if he wins. However, Nadal is in the middle of one of the all-time great tennis years and has only lost one match (to Djokovic) since early May. The wild card is the New York weather, if the wind gets as bad as it was for yesterday's women's semis I think that Nadal will be able to handle the conditions better and will make it to his third consecutive major final. PREDICTION: Murray in 5 sets.

Novak Djokovic SRB (3) vs. Roger Federer SUI (2). This match is a replay of last year's US Open final, won by the Swiss former No. 1. Then, the Serbian youngster was the up and coming potential challenger to the Federer-Nadal duopoly at the top of men's tennis. Now he is the reigning Australian Open champion where he defeated the defending champion (Federer) in the semifinal. Will history repeat itself? I doubt it. Head-to-head Federer still leads Djokovic 6-2, although those two losses have come in the last 15 months. Federer has now made it to an incredible eighteen consecutive Grand Slam semifinals, a record unlikely to be reached by anyone else anytime soon. Federer is the 4-time defending champion but it is clear that he is not playing as well in 2008 as he did in 2007. He seems somewhat energized by his Olympic doubles Gold medal while Djokovic has had a series of tough matches to get to this point and has a history of succumbing to fatigue in big matches. PREDICTION: Federer in 4 sets.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Final Two

One will contest her 12th Slam final. The other, her first. The winds from the tropical storms that are bombarding the east coast wrecked havoc on today's semifinals. The rains may postpone the final Slam final of the season.

But if the match happens as scheduled, expect some on-court hurricanes.

These are the WTA's two most dramatic Drama Queens. And the No. 1 ranking is on the line.

Serena's been to the pinnacle before, back in 2003, but no player has fallen and returned with more time in between.

Serena is playing for history.

Jelena was at the top for a week, a few weeks ago, but her ascension was decried by many, including yours truly, because she hadn't even contested a Slam final.

Jelena is playing for legitimacy.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy the drama.

No matter what happens, a tropical storm will prevail.

The Bryans are USO Champions Again

Commentary US Open 9/4/08 Day 11

by Savannah

Once again real life decided to intrude on my tennis. With tomorrow expected to feature rain, rain and more rain I thought it might be prudent to get out and put some vittles in the freezer. I'm not the type of woman who goes out and shoots something to feed my family so I went to Whole Foods and purchased beef, lamb, chicken and seafood. It's now in the freezer. I live in New York. If I was to walk into Central Park, Van Cortlandt Park or the New York Botanical Gardens with a hunting rifle I think you all know where I'd end up. Now that the food situation is pretty much taken care of I can focus on the verbal throw down between Andy Roddick and Novak Djokovic that has pretty much been the topic of discussion since Novak decided to get back into Andy's face over the comments Andy made at his presser re Djokovic's penchant for falling ill during matches.

If you want the bare cold facts Craig has posted them including the video from last night. His entry leaves me free to speak my mind about this latest brouhaha involving Novak and/or his family.

Allow me to ramble a bit. The first reason I turned off Novak was his behavior during his match against Gael Monfils where he gave the impression he was drawing his last breath before being miraculously resurrected and going on to win that match. I'm not a Monfils uber fan but poor sportsmanship is poor sportsmanship.

Novak's next appearance on the stage, I mean court, that bothered me was his performance against Richard Gasquet in Estoril. Once again he appeared to be near death, gasping for air and unable to compete. And once again he seemed to be the recipient of a miraculous cure as he ran and leapt like a gazelle in closing out the match against Gasquet.

I guess the family got jealous because they really put on a full scale production at this years Australian Open. Mr. and Mrs. Djokovic created a distraction in the stands because some French tennis fans were being very vocal in their support of FrenchmanJo-Wilfried Tsonga. The Djokovic's called security and tried to have the miscreants thrown out. They weren't, but security remained nearby just in case the wild eyed French tennis fans took out their frustration on the poor innocent Djokovic family.

After that we didn't see the parents for awhile. They were of course at the Slams but remained oddly quiet. As for their offspring he had become quite selective about his performances. I mean he would pull shit against people he felt were lesser beings but your rarely if ever saw him pull it against the top players or in the top tennis venues.

I say all of this to put Andy Roddick's comments in context. During Djokovic's match against Tommy Robredo many fans were cheering for Tommy and telling him not to fall for the okey doke. I guess Novak considered Tommy worthy to see his full repertoire. He had problems with both ankles, breathing and i forget what else but there were at least four medical timeouts for various and sundry problems. Robredo, rightly outraged, called him on it. Naturally in Andy's post match presser the subject of how he planned to handle the Thespian Serb came up.

I've seen the video clip. When he's not behaving like a Neanderthal on the court Roddick can be pretty funny. I thought his comments in the context of the presser, were made in a joking manner. It's a long established American habit to exaggerate the number of things that happened or didn't happen to or around someone. I mean when someone says there were at least fifty million people in the street we know that there weren't literally that many people in the street but that it seemed like it. It's just like saying everyone and their brother attended an event. There were a lot of people there not literally everyone and their brother. This is what Andy was doing when he said Novak had at least sixteen injuries by now. It was a funny.
(I hope I don't offend any Neanderthal's out there. It might be better to say that sometimes on court Andy behaves like a first class jerk.)

I guess the Djokovic clan didn't get Andy's joke. With all the help the McEnroe family gives to Novak you'd think someone would have explained to them that Andy was just kidding about sixteen injuries. That Novak has now been booed in Melbourne and New York, two places where you would think he'd have a large fan base, is serious business. Not like you can plaster his face all over New York now is it? It's often been said that Novak would be ideal as the face of men's tennis especially since he speaks English well.

As someone who can speak another language I can tell you that idioms are the hardest thing to translate from one language to another. The cultural references that go into an idiom are often not learned by the non native speaker for a number of years. I think this is what happened here. At least I hope it is since I can't believe Novak seriously wants tennis fans to think that he is really all that fragile at times. I mean he did admit to the Monfils chicanery didn't he? Or does he really think his "people" will get his ass out of this current sling?

Some fans have said his parents could counsel him on how to work and play better with others. Really? The two people who were leading chants of "Nole" from their box as the crowd rightly booed their child? The ones who called security on fans in Melbourne? I don't think so. I think "Nole" has learned his behavior patterns from them and that it's too late to change them. As we say here, fruit don't fall far from the tree. I mean when Srjdan Djokovic physically challenged Serbian broadcasters for not being supportive enough of his son what do you expect his son to do? And just think, there are two more Djokovic sons coming up.

Read the rest...

US OPEN 2008: Women's Semifinals Preview

BY MadProfessah

The 2008 US Open Women's semifinals are now set. Mad Professah correctly predicted 3 of the 4 women's quarterfinal match results.

Elena Dementieva
RUS (5) vs. Jelena Jankovic SRB (2). Dementieva has always had her best Grand Slam sucess at the US Open, having reached the finals once (2004) and the semifinals four times (2000, 2004, 2005 and 2008). Jankovic was the #1 player in the World for one week during the Beijing Olympics while Dementieva was winning her second Olympic singles medal, a Gold eight years after winning the Silver in Sydney. The two have played each other seven times, with Jankovic holding the edge 4-3 overall, and 3-2 on hardcourts. They have split the matches they played this year, with Dementieva retiring hurt in Miami and Jankovic losing on her best surface of clay in Berlin. Dementieva's problematic serve has been surprisingly solid, and is currently a more effective weapon than Jankovic's. She has long had some of the best groundstrokes of any woman on the tour AND she moves well--her central weakness had been mental fortitude and a cringe-inducing service toss and motion. Jankovic is incredibly consistent and probably a slightly better mover, but I believe that Dementieva is on a roll that will get her to her third Grand Slam final, where, if she wins she will become the second Russian player to reach the top of the WTA rankings. PREDICTION: Dementieva in 3 sets.

Dinara Safina RUS (6) vs. Serena Williams USA (4). Although many people feel that Wednesday night's amazing quarterfinal match between Venus and Serena was the deciding showdown for who would win the 2008 US Open title, there are at least two other people who will try their best to not let that happen. The hottest player on tour, Dinara Safina, has made it to the final of the 6 of the last 7 tournaments she entered. Safina easily won the USTA's gimmicky US Open series of warm-up tournaments to the year's final major tournament in New York for the chance to win an extra $1 million dollars if she wins this title. In addition, if the Russian will become the #1 player in the world if she wins the 2008 US Open title. Unfortunately, she is playing 8-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, who is playing some of her best tennis and is in better shape than she has been in nearly 5 years when she dominated women's tennis completely. Head-to-head Safina has only beaten Serena once in four tries, but that victory came from the last time they played, on clay in Berlin in May. There Safina had an amazing run of beating World #1 Justine Henin in her final professional match, Serena in a 3rd set tiebreak, and then Elena Dementieva to win her first Tier 1 title. In fact, Safina is the first player to beat three WTA Tour #1 players in one calendar year (Henin in Berlin, Sharapova in Paris and Jankovic in Beijing) this summer.

Although prior to the start of the tournament I predicted Venus Williams would be in this semifinal and lose to Safina who would then defeat Dementieva for the title, after Wednesday's match I can not see how any of the three players remaining in the tournament can deny Serena Williams her 9th Grand Slam title if she continues to play at that level. If anyone can do it, it will be Safina playing at her best, and it will be because Serena has a letdown after beating her sister. However, I believe that Serena will try and honor her sister by finding a way to get to the final, where she will be the heavy favorite against Dementieva or Jankovic.

PREDICTION: Williams in 3 sets.

VIDEO: Oh No He Di'int! Djokovic Trashes Roddick, the Crowd, Gets Booed

Oh, how the tide turns. Say hello to the new villain of tennis, Darth Djoker.

The link to Roddick's complete presser is here.

Q. You've clearly ticked him off with comments about SARS and bird flu and everything. He took himself to bring it up in front of a stadium that booed him loudly and even Michael tried to steer it and he just kept it going. Is that a bad call on his part?

ANDY RODDICK: Well, I mean, listen, here's the deal: I mean, if you guys haven't ever seen me joke in a press conference, I'd be shocked, okay?

I think you guys know it was completely meant in jest. Listen, I had four questions from each one, I had eight questions about all the other ones. Finally after 12 questions I decided to make light of the situation and it actually stopped after that. Or it screwed me up and you guys got me out of it.

I'm willing to talk about it. I don't know if, you know ‑‑ he took it as seriously. I figure if you're going to joke and imitate other people and do the whole deal, then you should take it. Listen, if someone makes fun of me I'm most likely going to laugh. If I'm over the line I'm going to come in here and say I was ridiculous. And I was wrong. I've been the worst of it in the past. By no means am I sitting here trying to be holier than thou or anything like that. But I promise you that if somebody makes a joke about it I'll probably laugh.

I'm sorry he took it that way. There's nothing else to say. I don't think I was over the line. It wasn't my intention, and, you know, I'm sorry he felt that way. Maybe I did him a favor tonight.

Q. It was our comments back and forth, and to be honest with you, today I heard from five or six or seven people, I heard it on ESPN, I heard it on USA, those types of things have legs, whether you like it...

ANDY RODDICK: I should know better, but listen, I joke all the time. I don't think anybody in their right mind takes me serious. I think it's very clear when I give a serious answer and when I don't give a serious answer.

Maybe that part ‑‑ maybe I should know better, you know, but in my eyes it's an innocent comment. I felt that most people found it funny and I tried to build it up ‑‑ if you look at the transcript, I'm saying, I'm 3, he's 8. It's straightforward. I'm trying to build it up as like I'm the favorite. I said listen, if you want to go last 10 days or go the last 10 months, he's been the best hardcourt player. I'm throwing truthful things the whole time. If someone wants to focus in on that and use it, then by all means, but especially in Novak's case, if you're going to dish out all the stuff, then be able to take it with a smile, is the only part that I don't quite agree with.

Q. Have you had an opportunity to talk to him afterward?

ANDY RODDICK: Anything that's going to be said between Novak and I is going to stay between Novak and I because I'm not going to air out private conversations in front of you guys, because I just don't feel like that's necessary.

The link to Djokovic's complete presser is here.

Q. Andy, I mean, based on the comments on the court, Andy clearly upset you, angered you with some of the comments that became public. Was that a factor? How much were you angered by those comments?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Now, look, I had a very, very tough day yesterday. Physically I was feeling very exhausted and very empty.

I wasn't able to practice. One of the reasons was physically that, you know, I was exhausted and the other reason was that I just mentally had a lot of pressure.

Unfortunately, Andy made a statement ‑‑ I don't think it was intentional, okay. He made a joke and it was a misunderstanding, so I don't blame it on him. Okay. I did react on the court. Maybe I reacted. Maybe I exaggerated and reacted bad in that moment. No, I apologize if I reacted like that. But this was just impulsive, you know.

I had a lot of emotions in last two days. It's not nice when you get that from media all around the world and from players, and I never needed to make any excuses in the press. I just didn't need ‑‑ because I know that what I'm doing is right, that I have all the rights to take the medical timeout, that I'm doing it just for the purpose to make my physical condition better and just that I continue playing better.

I never made medical timeout because I wanted to distract the player, the opponent, or, you know, make the result look worse, you know.

And I just never did it. I didn't pay attention when I took the medical timeout. I just didn't care about it. Medical timeout is there because physiotherapist are there and doctors are there to help you out. This is what I did. I just took the medicals to help me out.

Maybe the people think that I'm exaggerating with these things, but it's just ‑‑ it's nothing bad, nothing negative, because I just ‑‑ I twist my ankle, I feel bad, you know. I get the pain in the back.

I just want to make it right, you know. Andy was always nice to me when I got to the tour, so this was just a clear misunderstanding.

Q. Have you spoken to Andy in the locker room already?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, but this is just between us.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Commentary US Open 9/3/2008 Day 10

by Savannah

(...)lets talk about the Womens Championship Match that was played last night. My bad. It was the womens quarterfinal between Venus Williams and Serena Williams that was played last night on Ashe. You know it was a big deal because the A-list was in the stands last night. No guys from USA or HBO shows that are beginning their new seasons. Local station NY1 said the atmosphere was that of a final not a quarter final. Not much I can add to that.
Savannah's World

US OPEN 2008: Venus Loses To Serena

By Mad Professah

Serena Williams defeated her sister Venus Williams in the quarterfinals of the 2008 U.S. Open 7-6(6) 7-6(7) despite being down 3-5 in both sets as well as down 4-6 in both tiebreaks!
All in all, Venus squandered 10 set points, 2 in the first set tiebreak and 8 in the second set (she was up 5-3, 40-0 in the second set when she made a number of unforced errors and attempted winners to lose that game.) Notably, Serena had only two set points and she won both of them.

It just seemed to me that when she had a set point Venus got more tentative and sloppy with her technique. A number of those set points were on her own serve, and she should have been able to figure out a way to win. With that being said, when Serena was down she never ever gave up and started hitting the ball harder and moving incredibly. She made some "gets" that no other player on the tour (probably not even Venus) could have gotten their racquet on, numerous times.

All in all, it was a (relatively) high-quality, exciting match that took nearly two and a half hours. I would rank it in the top 3 the two have ever played (with the 2003 Australian Open final still being on top.)

Serena will face Dinara Safina in a semifinal match on Friday night for a chance to play in the US Open final for the fourth time. The other semifinal features Elena Dementieva and Jelena Jankovic.

I'm Back... And Sick as a Dog

by Craig Hickman

First of all, a standing ovation for Savannah and MadProfessah who have done a great job covering the US Open.

I've been back from Denver since Friday night, but came down with a whopping cold on Sunday and it's not getting better.

I'm sure it's because I didn't get any sleep in Denver.

I've watched a bit of tennis here and there when the drugs wear off. Last night, I caught most of Serena and Venus Williams, a good portion of Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro and a bit of Mardy Fish and Rafeal Nadal. I simply couldn't stay awake for the end of it.

All I can say about the sister slugfest was that it was the most intense match I've ever seen them play. Both of them wanted it. The tennis was jaw-dropping. They are the best in the world right now, no matter what the rankings say and I was just happy to catch such a great match.

I'm too drowsy for further analysis, but stay tuned because I'm sure Savannah will hit another post out of the park.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

US OPEN 2008: Men's Quarterfinals Preview


Here are my predictions for the last major's men's quarterfinals of the year.

Rafael Nadal ESP (1) vs. Mardy Fish USA. Mardy Fish is replacing fellow American James Blake who went out to his "good friend" with nary a whimper in the third round 6-3 6-3 7-6(4). Fish has had some surprising results, beating former World #1 Roger Federer earlier this year at the Indian Wells semifinals in straight sets, but no result would be more surpising than beating the current World #1 (who happens to have lost one match since early May!). However, it is definitely possible, since Fish has the game to beat anyone when he is "in the zone" and Nadal has never made it past the quarterfinals in New York, where he has lost in this very round in the last two years. However, I think the third time will be the charm for the Spaniard, despite the New York crowd. PREDICTION: Nadal in 4 sets.

Juan Martin Del Potro ARG (17) vs.
Andy Murray GBR (6). What happens when an immovable object meets an irresistible force? The 19-year old Del Potro has been the second hottest player all summer, having won the last four (relatively small) tournaments he entered while most of the world's elite players were at the Olympics. Murray is at his career high, having won his first ATP Masters shield over Djokovic in Cincinatti and will be ranked #4 in the world (thanks to Davydenko's upset) on Monday for the first time. The two have only played once, with Murray winning on clay in Rome earlier this year. I actually would be interested to see Del Potro win because I want to see what would happen when the two hottest players meet in the semis, but I really think this is Murray's time, and he is itching for revenge for his loss to Nadal at Wimbledon. PREDICTION: Murray in 4 sets.

Andy Roddick USA (8) vs. Novak Djokovic SRB (3).This will probably be the best match of the four men's quarterfinals. The two have only played twice before, both times on hard courts in the last year or so and they have exchanged wins. Djokovic has been having a difficult time in the last few rounds, barely winning 4-6 6-2 6-3 5-7 6-3 against the pulchritudinous Tommy Robredo in the fourth round as well as a very tough 4-setter against the young, hard-hitting, very tall Maran Cilic 6-7(7) 7-5 6-4 7-6(0) in the third round. Roddick on the other hand swept past the very talented Fernando Gonzalez 6-4 6-2 6-1 to get to this quarterfinal and really only had a difficult match against the young, hard-hitting, very tall Ernest Gulbis 6-3 5-7 6-2 7-5. I had initially predicted that Djokovic would win this quarter but I have seen a lot of Roddick matches and I believe if he is the fresher, with a New York crowd behind him late at night, he may just come through. However, Djokovic loves playing against a hostile crowd and he will have nearly two days to recover from his near death experience against Robredo. PREDICTION: Roddick in 5 sets.

Nikolay Davydenko RUS (5) Gilles Muller LUX vs. Roger Federer SUI (2). This might have been the journeyman quarterfinal if Igor Andreev had kept on playing the way he did for the first two sets the entire match. Even so, Federer was pushed to the brink, only winning 6-7(5) 7-6(5) 6-3 3-6 6-3. Andreez had 54 winners to 42 errors compared to Federer's 66 winners to 60 errors(!). In the round before, Federer had 9 unforced errors in 3 sets of flawless tennis against the decidedly un-pulchritudinous Radek Stepanek. Muller is a hard-hitting lefty who gave Davydenko fits in the fourth round, pulling out a 4-set win 6-4 4-6 6-3 7-6(10), saving a handful of set points in the 4th. Federer would probably have preferred to play Davydenko who he has beaten 12 times in a row (and never lost to) since Muller is someone he has only beaten twice (and never lost to). However, he hasn't faced the player from Luxembourg since 2005 and probably has no idea how Muller plays. Howeve, having lost to another Gilles earlier in the summer, I believe he will take this match seriously. Federer is on an incredible record-setting streak of 17 consecutive Grand Slam semifinals and I doubt the 130-ranked player in the world will prevent the World #2 from extending that streak to 18 no matter what his first name is. PREDICTION: Federer in 3 sets.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Commentary US Open 9/1/08 Day 8

by Savannah

On paper Andy Murray playing Stan Wawrinka should have been a competitive match. Both had been playing well coming into the match. Too bad only AndyM showed up. The final score was 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 Murray and it wasn't that close.
Savannah's World

US OPEN 2008: Women's Quarterfinals Preview

By Mad Professah

The 2008 US Women's Quarterfinals are now set. After correctly predicting all four of the 2008 French Open Women's quarterfinals but only two of the four 2008 Wimbledon Ladies quarterfinals here are my predictions for the last major women's quarterfinals of the year.

Amelie Mauresmo FRA (32) Flavia Pennetta ITA (16) vs. Dinara Safina RUS (6). This should have been an opportunity for former #1 Frenchwomanto show that she could still be a force to be reckoned with at a major but instead she committed 40 unforced errors (including 14 double faults) as she lost 6-3 6-0 to the Italian player who clinched her first major quarterfinal. Safina, who has made it to the final in six of the last seven events that she entered, has been the hottest player on the WTA Tour all summer long but has recently been complaining of extreme exhaustion.Pennetta is playing the best tennis of her long career but so is Safina. There's nothing that the Italian does that the Russian does better and that should be enough to get "Marat's little sister" to her second major semifinal of the year. PREDICTION: Safina in 2 sets.

Serena Williams USA (4) vs.
Venus Williams USA (7). This should be the best match of the tournament. Even though I predicted before the tournament that it was unlikely to occur, I'm thrilled that it has. Hopefully, the match will be a reprise of their intense Wimbledon Ladies' final this summer won by Venus(or the still unseen third-set tiebreak thriller in the Banagalore semis never shown on American won by Serena). However, it should be remembered that their first several matches were very ugly affairs. It should also be remembered that the sisters are currently tied 8-8 in their career head-to-head, although Serena beat Venus in 5 consecutive meetings at Grand Slams, she has not been able to do so since. I'm not sure if these statistics are known by either of the players but it does give us insight into how closely matched the two sisters are. Regardless, I do think that Venus will have a slight mental edge, although Serena is probably playing slightly better. In the end I think that tennis is at least fifty percent mental, and tennis between siblings must be even more so. I'm just happy to see a Williams in a major semifinal for more than a single time in a calendar year. PREDICTION: (Venus) Williams in 3 sets.

Elena Dementieva RUS (5) vs. Patty Schnyder SUI (15). This will probably be the ugliest quarterfinal of the four. Patty Schnyder has the game to drive anyone crazy, but Dementieva is coming off winning the Gold Medal in Singles at the Beijing Olympics and has already beaten the Swiss player twice already in 2008. Unless someone tells her that Jankovic has already lost and that she has an open path to her second US Open final in five years, Dementieva should be able to advance to her fourth career US Open semifinal surprisingly easily. PREDICTION: Dementieva in 2 sets.

Jelena Jankovic SRB (2) vs. Sybille Bammer AUT (29). Despite having the #1 ranking almost within her grasp thanks to the disturbing collapse of her countrywoman Ana Ivanovic, Jankovic barely got past the hard-hitting young Dane Caroline Wozniacki in the fourth round, advancing 3-6 6-2 6-1. Sybille Bammer is one of the few mothers on the tour and has a rare serve and volley game. However, Jankovic has only lost to Bammer in 7 matches, including a tough 3-set match at last year's US Open in the 4th round. This year, Jankovic will be prepared to get the job done in two. PREDICTION: Jankovic in 2 sets.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Commentary US Open 8/31/08 Day 7

by Savannah

Asia Muhammad, talented US Junior who tried her hand in the main draw and is now playing the Junior US Open.

The USTA put it's juniors in the spotlight this year. Almost every young American who could swing a racquet was given a WC or entered the qualies whether they were ready to compete on the main tour our not. Some, like Kristie Ahn, showed potential despite size limitations. Others, like Christian Harrison are being declared the next best thing for America by the John McEnroe's of the world despite having not even gone through puberty yet. I cringed when I heard JMac say that Chris Harrison is going to grow into his American style hit hard and harder game. A few years ago those in the know said the same thing about one Donald Young. You remember him right? The young man who at nineteen is already being considered a disappointment by some because he has not lived up to the hype.
Savannah's World