Sunday, June 28, 2009

Wimbledon 2009 Middle Sunday

Melanie Oudin of the U.S. celebrates defeating Jelena Jankovic of Serbia at the Wimbledon tennis championships, in London June 27, 2009.
Reuters

First, a gigantic shoutout to the diminutive American Melanie Oudin. The 17-year-old ball of fire dismissed the Drama Queen of all tennis drama queens in three sets. I had hoped she had the belief to put that poor excuse for a tennis player out of her misery and my wish came true.

Some posted the Drama Queen's ungracious post-match interview in the Day 6 Open Thread. I won't repeat any of it here except to say she's the pot calling the kettle black. I simply won't waste much ink on her.

Oudin becomes the first qualifier to make the second week of Wimledon in a decade. She's feisty, tenacious, and I'd say that her forehand is her insidious weapon. She doesn't hit it that hard, but the angles she creates out of nowhere remind me of the ones Anastasia Myskina used to create.

And she's so cute, isn't she?

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Jesse Levine of the US plays against Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka in a Men's Singles match in the third round match on the sixth day of the 2009 Wimbledon Tennis Championships at the All England Tennis Club, in southwest London, on June 27, 2009.
Getty

Jesse Levine gets kudos as well. He was up a set and a break before he finally got tight and surrendered the match to Stanislas Wawrinka. But like Oudin, he was also a qualifier, and before this week, hadn't won a single main draw match on the ATP tour this year.

Some of you may remember that Roger Federer flew Levine to Dubai a few years back to practice with the up-and-coming lefty.

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France's Amelie Mauresmo plays against Italy's Flavia Pennetta in a Women's Singles match in the third round match on the sixth day of the 2009 Wimbledon Tennis Championships at the All England Tennis Club, in southwest London, on June 27, 2009.
Getty

Former champion Amélie Mauresmo has returned to the second week of Wimbledon. How cool is that? I know I've called for her retirement. But so has she. It's wonderful to see a veteran player at the twilight of her career dig deep and remind the world who she is. Perhaps she's this Wimbledon's Marat Safin and will make it all the way to the semifinals. Or even go one better. I'd love to see it.

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Tommy Haas of Germany serves to Marin Cilic of Croatia during their match at the Wimbledon tennis championships, in London June 27, 2009.
Reuters

Tommy Haas made a fool out of me, and I couldn't be more pleased. I thought for sure he would find a way to lose to Marin Cilic, but he persevered and took the epic match 10-8 in the fifth.

Along with Radek Stepanek over David Ferrer, Sabine Lisicki over Svetlana Kutznetsova, Tomas Berdych of Nikolay Davydenko, Haas provided one of the "at least" four upsets I foresaw in yesterday's order of play. Juan Carlos Ferrero over Fernando Gonzalez was on my radar, but I thought the Chilean would still pull it out. Ferrero's resurgence continues. I also thought Samantha Stosur would topple Ana Ivanovic and Li Na would take down Agnieszka Radwanska, but it wasn't to be. Oudin and Mauresmo's victories more than made up for them.

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Tennis fans show their support for the absent to injury  World No. 1 Rafael Nadal prior to the match between  Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain and  Roger Federer of Switzerland in a second round singles match at Wimbledon, Wednesday, June 24, 2009.
AP

All in all, the first week of this Wimbledon was a bore. Most of it had to do with Rafael Nadal's absence. Like him or not, when the world No. 1 and defending champion can't even attempt to defend his title, it's a big cloud hanging over the event, unless, of course, you're the kind of Raja fanatic who couldn't be more pleased. The year Justine Henin couldn't contend to defend her Melbourne title because of her impending divorce, I missed her presence, despite my dislike of her. Slams need their defending champions. Period.

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ESPN should return all of its rights to air Slams in perpetuity. Too much in-studio bliovating, too little live tennis. Could you imagine NFL or NBA coverage where the talking heads are hosting "The View" of the sport instead of showing live action on the field or the court? If you must bore us with narcissistic commentators musing about nothing, then at least use the split screen to show on-court action. And save the player interviews, in-studio or otherwise, for after live tennis ends.

Brad Gilbert must be fired. He flatout refuses to pronounce players' names correctly simply because he's American (his excuse); refuses to call Dinara Safina the No. 1 seed even though she is; and doesn't know enough about players results to proclaim shock that someone like Ferrero is into yet another second week at SW19.

Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain falls to the ground after defeating Fernando Gonzalez of Chile at the Wimbledon tennis championships, in London June 27, 2009.
Reuters

And if Gilbert doesn't crawl out from deep up in Murray's ass, I'm fully expecting to see Murray's stomach tissue all over Gilbert's entire body in the coming days. Can't he find somebody, anybody, to coach?

And why does it always seem that Patrick McEnroe actually wants the American players to lose their matches? I don't need patriotic cheer leading from the commentary booth. But one would think on a network full of American commentators who make no attempt whatsoever to hide their fandoms for so many of the non-American players that McEnroe could at least talk a bit more about how good it would be for American tennis, both for the players and the casual fans, to have players other than Andy Roddick and Venus and Serena Williams advance to the second week of a major. McEnroe would rather talk about the lack in the games of the American players and seems to take delicious joy in watching them flame out to their "superior" non-American competitors.

WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27:  Andy Roddick of USA celebrates after victory during the men's singles third round match against Jurgen Melzer of Austria on Day Six of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 27, 2009 in London, England.
Getty

Speaking of Roddick and ESPN. I've become increasingly perturbed by the lack of coverage of his Slam matches in the past few years on the American network. It's as though the more he has tried to improve his game and the better his resurgence has advanced, the less ESPN shows his tennis. For the record, all of his matches have been aired in their entirety on ESPN Deportes and I was able to catch them on free live stream. Go figure. It's almost as if the the "Worldwide Leader in Sports" doesn't want US television viewers to know that its top American male player is more than a big serve and loopy forehand, more than Federer's whipping boy, more than the failure he became when he didn't become Pete Sampras. Since 2002, Roddick's been ranked outside of the Top 10 for an entire 4 weeks. I'm going to say it again: Since 2002, Roddick's been ranked outside of the Top 10 for an entire 4 weeks. One would think ESPN would show a little more respect for his longevity in the top rung of the sport, his commitment to Davis Cup, his commitment to his improvement in the changing landscape of men's tennis. But no. He didn't become Sampras after they said he would. Build them up. Tear them down. The American way.

I'll preview tomorrow's matches in the forthcoming Day 7 Open Thread.

11 comments:

Karen said...

Morning All. Great write up and really looking forward to Week 2. I cannot comment too much on the Andy Roddick situation as have never actually paid much attention to his matches (sorry Craig), but what I can agree with is the media's penchant for building up sports stars and standing on the sidelines ready to tear them up. As to Gilbert's thing of dissing players, for my money it reflects more on him than on the players. He is supposed to be a celebrity coach, one of the best there is, and yet he is now without a charge. What does he do these days apart from yapping away on ESPN, or any other network that will have him. These days everyone is up in AndyM's ass (literally and figuratively speaking). The guy has yet to win a major and every single major since he got to the USO has been his major to win. Now they are complaining that Roger is not complimenting Andy enough. Roger is an egotistical maniac who will never give credit to an opponent unless it is backhanded, and even if Andy beats 10 times in a row Roger will never say Andy is better than him. To this day Roger still has an asterisk next to Rafa, even though that asterisk is going away slowly these days. As to Oudin she was very much in JJ's face yesterday. What I cannot understand is that in her previous match, JJ made Benesova look ordinary (something that is not very hard to do actually) and she (JJ) commented that her game was feeling good etc. How then can your game disappear over the space of less than 24 hours? Ridiculous.

vw said...

Brad Gilbert must be fired.

Yes he and Slob. All of them are up AM's ass, even Mac and Cahill. It's sickening.

Savannah said...

You guys made me laugh out loud just now.

Nothing to add to Craig's write up really. PMac should simply declare his undying love for the Monogram and move on.

And frankly I'm surprised Murray can move what with all the people hanging out in his ass these days. I mean one of the talking heads on ESPN is a rare moment of clarity said Murray is a bad match up for Troicki. Why didn't they switch to the Ferrero vs Gonzo match which was great tennis? How I miss the days of the USA network doing the early rounds. Yes we'd be stuck with Ted and his inability to pronounce anyone's name if they were born outside of the US but they did provide all court coverage and took you to the best matches.

And let's not let NBC escape censure for their "commitment" to tennis. They did show Andy's match Craig. So what if it had finished hours ago? I'm surprised NBC didn't make Deportes drop their live coverage. They've done that in the past.

Karen said...

And now NBC is doing the recap show and what do we get to start off the women's side - Sharapova and her ailments. Oh how about that Sharapova coming back from shoulder surgery, having to travel all the way to Arizona - poor Maria. So Mary is now discussing the difference between Maria and Serena and how Serena when she comes back from injury, she can play her way back into tournament form. The real reason - Serena has talent, Maria does not.dis

Savannah said...

I wish I could be surprised Karen. The biggest stories are the upsets by the teenagers but of course everyone needs to know about the Golden Girl.

Craig Hickman said...

Isn't Maria out of the tournament?

tangerine said...

Oudin's win over Jankovic is overrated, Jankovic can lose to anybody nowadays that's how far she's fallen. I'll be impressed with Oudin when she wins her next match, and maybe the match after that. History shows that these girls can't string together more than 1 or 2 good performances before they fade away back into oblivion. I'll be thrilled if Oudin proves me wrong.

Week one Wimbledon was definitely a snorefest, no doubt due in part to Nadal's absence, but the first week of a slam is almost always boring as the top ranked players mow down non-challengers. The second week is where the action will be. Hope to see some good matches and maybe some upsets.

ESPN has not only abandoned Roddick but they appear to have jumped on the Murray bandwagon as well. The megahype this kid is getting is nothing compared to the stuff Roddick got in 2003. This is overkill. For Murray to play well under this kind of enormous pressure is admirable. Still, I do not want him to win.

Anyone else notice that Roger dumped the pants and military jacket after his first match? I think he heard the tut-tut's, loud and clear.

Savannah said...

Anyone else notice that Roger dumped the pants and military jacket after his first match? I think he heard the tut-tut's, loud and clear.
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That picture of him strutting on court looking like a courtier from Versailles probably did the trick. ;)

Craig Hickman said...

tangerine, I thought I was tough.

Oudin is a 17-year-old qualifier. She's in the second week of Wimbledon. I don't care who she beat to get there, but she's a 17-year-old qualifier in the second week of Wimbledon.

If that's overrated, I'm blind.

kraa said...

It has been a great week for Oudin. I see no reason to diss her now...

For top 20 players beating Jankovic right now might not be a big deal, but it was huge for her.

Craig Hickman said...

Goodbye, John B.