Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best (Men's) Matches of 2009

Earlier this week I posted the list of the Best Women's Matches of 2009, here now are the best men's matches of 2009. Generally, there were far more memorable matches on the ATP tour than the WTA tour this year.

Here are the most memorable tennis matches by men in 2009:

1. R. Federer SUI d. A. Roddick USA, 5-7 7-6(8) 7-6(3) 3-6 16-14,Wimbledon Championships final, London.

Roger Federer must have been pleased to see Andy Roddick was the opponent he had to beat in order to win his 6th career Wimbledon title and record 15th major title--after all he had beaten him three times before at Wimbledon and had only lost to the American twice in twenty-one matches and never in a Grand Slam. However, this was a new and improved Andy Roddick, someone who could play 5 sets of tennis and only get his service broken once. Roddick played like someone who recognized this rare opportunity and played his very best. Unfortunately, it was not enough to win the match, though he did get very, very close. I'm sure that Roddick will have nightmares about the shanked volley in the second set tiebreak which would have given him set point. Instead, at the end of that 2nd set tiebreaker the match was all tied up and with Federer again winning the 3rd set in a tiebreak things looked bleak for the American. But, then, somehow, miraculously Roddick was able to break in the fourth set and serve out the set to even the match again. And the most amazing part of the match was about to begin: a 95-minute, 30 game deciding set. In the end, the entire match came down to a few points played over a few minutes, with Federer winning a mere 10 more points out of more than 400 points over nearly 5 hours. A classic tennis match for the ages, almost as venerable as the 2008 classic between Nadal and Federer from the year before.

2. R. Nadal ESP d. F. Verdasco ESP, 6-7(4) 6-4 7-6(2) 6-7(1) 6-4, Australian Open semifinal, Melbourne.

Amazingly, the second most memorable match of 2009 is not one of the four Grand Slam finals. The showdown between two Spaniards in Australia under the stars and full moon was electric. During the match everyone who watched it knew it was an instant classic, one of those matches destined to be replayed and discussed for years. The match featured incredible athleticism and shotmaking from both players. The two talented lefties battled each other for more than five hours and ended up at practically a draw. After five sets, the stats say it all: Nadal 193 points, Verdasco 192. The 193rd point that Nadal won was due to a double fault by Verdasco on match point. Heartbreaking for both players that in these sporting contests of will and spirit there must be a loser and a winner, because sometimes that competition itself elevates all those who participate.

3. J. del Potro ARG d. R. Federer USA, 3-6 7-6(5) 4-6 7-6(4) 6-2, U.S. Open final, New York City.

For the fourth time of the year, the seventh consecutive Grand Slam tournament in a row and a record 21st time in his career, Roger Federer was in a major final. However, this time he was facing a genetically gifted nightmare: a 6-foot 5-inch, 21-year-old Argentine who grew up dreaming of glory on hard courts; Juan Martín del Potro. Federer was already the universally regarded Greatest of all Time, a newly married man and father of twin baby girls who had won his record 15th major title a mere 8 weeks before while del Potro was someone Federer had never lost to in 6 matches. In fact, earlier in the year at the Australian Open del Potro won a mere 3 games in a 3-set match in a quarterfinal humiliation featuring two consecutive 6-0 bagel sets versus Federer. An indication of the rapid rate of his improvement through the year was that by May in Paris, del Potro was able to extend Federer to a 5-set thriller in the French Open semifinals. So, it was not surprising that del Potro was in his first major final in New York City. Federer started off well and del Potro did not, and quickly found himself down a set and a break. But then something happened and Federer faltered, allowing del Potro to sneak away with the second set in a tie-break. Federer again won the all-important middle set, but again del Potro was able to take the 4th set to a tiebreak. This was Federer's chance, but he blinked. He played a horrible tie-break and del Potro kept on hitting 135+ mph serves and 100+ mph forehand winners. The final deciding set was a letdown, with del Potro building up a huge lead and holding it to savor his first win over the World #1 and his first major title. The King was dead, long live the King.

4. R. Soderling SWE d. R. Nadal ESP, 6-2 6-7(2) 6-4 7-6(2), Roland Garros 4th Round, Paris.

The upset of the decade? The biggest upset ever? Prior to this fourth round meeting between the agile, indomitable Spanish World #1 and the tall, powerful Swede, Rafael Nadal had never lost a match at Roland Garros, and was the 4-time defending champion who had won 3 of the last 4 major championships played in the last year. But Robin Soderling didn't care. He simply doesn't care what anyone thinks. He knew he had worked hard to be in the best shape of his life and knew that his game could cause anyone difficulty. It is true that Nadal did not play his best tennis, but it is also true that Soderling did, and it was enough so that the result, no matter how shocking was never in doubt: a Soderling victory over Nadal on clay in Paris.

5. R. Nadal ESP d. R. Federer SUI, 7-5 3-6 7-6(3) 3-6 6-2, Australian Open final, Melbourne.

After the incredible semifinal Nadal played to get past Verdasco while Federer had a relatively routine straight-set dismissal of Andy Roddick, most observers felt that Federer would have an edge in this first meeting between the two great rivals on hard courts, since Federer already owned 3 Australian Open titles and 5 U.S. Opens. However, Federer again started off a major final against Nadal playing badly and by failing to win the middle set tie-break he lost the match not with a whimper but in a drizzle of tears. Several people felt that Federer's outburst during the trophy ceremony was disrespectful to Nadal but it is important to note that it was his great rival himself who did the most comforting, allowing the Swiss star to bury his face in the Spaniards shoulder.

6. R. Nadal ESP d. N. Djokovic SRB, 3-6 7-6(5) 7-6(9), Madrid Masters semifinal, Madrid.

The most exciting clay court match of the year was this 3-set, 4-hour showdown between the King of Clay Rafael Nadal and the heir-apparent Novak Djokovic. Djokovic was the better player on the day and deserved to win this match, but Nadal just refused to lose. Despite losing the first set relatively easily in a 3-set match and being behind in both of the remaining sets, somehow Nadal was able to claw both sets back to tie-breaks and somehow win both of them. The points were agonizingly long, with ridiculous saves and amazing retrievals from both players, but in the end the Nadal (again!) proved why he is the Greatest Clay Court Player of all Time. After battling Djokovic for nearly four hours it is not surprising that Nadal lost one of his rare clay court finals against Federer the next day, 6-4 6-4.

7. R. Stepanek CZE USA d. I. Karlovic CRO, 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 7-6(6), 6-7(2), 16-14, Davis Cup semifinal tie, Croatia.

Absolutely insane. Davis Cup matches are usually intense due to the national prestige on the line, but this was insane. Everyone knows that Ivo Karlovic is a freak of nature: a 6-foot, 10-inch behemoth who has a serve like a lightning bolt that leaves his opponents constantly leaning the wrong way and shaking their head in disbelief having completely missed touching the ball. In this match "Dr. Evil" hit 78 aces. That's 23 more than his previous record of 55! There were exactly three breaks of serve in the 5 hour, 59 minute contest. Unfortunately, I was not able to see this match, but after reading about it, it clearly belongs in the most memorable matches of the year.

8. T. Dent USA d. I. Navarro ESP, 6-4 5-7 6-7(1) 7-5 7-6(9), U.S. Open 2nd Round, New York City.

Taylor Dent had been told repeatedly that his tennis career was over after two back surgeries in 2007 and 2008. The American serve-and-volleyer met his match in the form of Spaniard Ivan Nvarro who was also a rare serve-and-volleyer. This match was not expected to be anything special, it was just an early round match at the US Open played on the intimate Grandstand Court. However, it turned into a scorcher: a 5-set, knock-down, drag-out street brawl between two punch-drunk prize fighters. Both players had the same game plan: serve and rush the net. In the end, Dent had more control over the result than his opponent, hitting a garish 121 winners (mostly volleys) compared to 50 errors (+71!) as opposed to Navarro's 70 winners to a mere 22 unforced errors. Tennis like it used to be played and will most likely not be played in the future.

9. F. Gonzalez CHI d. R. Gasquet FRA, 3-6 3-6 7-6(10) 6-2 12-10, Australian Open 3rd Round, Melbourne.

Fernando Gonzalez and Richard Gasquet are two of the flashiest players on the ATP Tour and it was expected that this early-round showdown would be a non-stop highlight reel. The two did not disappoint. Both players hit far more winners than errors, with Gasquet at +22 (80 winners, 58 errors) and Gonzalez at +34 (85 winners, 51 errors). Gasquet has one of the most beautiful one-handed backhands on the tour and Gonzalez has a hugely powerful forehand. The battle was intense but even though each competitor won the same number of points, Gonzalez won more games and the match. This showdown would have been more widely celebrated if the Nadal-Verdasco semifinal had not cleared the decks of superlatives used to describe matches at the 2009 Austraian Open.

10. N. Davydenko RUS d. R. Federer SUI 6-2 4-6 7-5, Barclays ATP World Tour Finals semifinal, London.

Nikolay Davydenko was nearly run out of tennis at the end of a stick in 2008 after being caught up in a betting scandal. He professed his innocence but tennis fans have looked at him with a jaundiced eye ever since. Davydenko is often viewed as the invisible man, because although he has been in the Top 5 since 2005 he has racked up a slew of losses to both Federer and Nadal and was widely regarded as being unable to breakthrough in a major tournament. This win over Federer was his very first and followed a week in which he demolished a weakened Nadal, outlasted the powerful Robin Soderling and ended the year by dismissing the new wunderkind Juan Martín del Potro to win the ATP year end championships, the biggest title of his career. However, he ended the year at #6, out of the top 5 for the first time in 5 years. Perhaps 2010 will be the year that Davydenko is able to make through at a major title, now that he has shown that he can beat Mr. Major, Roger Federer.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Here are some honorable mentions for memorable matches of the year by men

N. Djokovic SRB d. R. Federer, 6-4 4-6 6-2, Swiss Open final.
R. Federer SUI d. N. Djokovic SRB, 6-1 7-5, Cincinnati Masters final.
R. Federer SUI d. N. Djokovic SRB, 7-6(3) 7-5 7-5, U.S. Open semifinal.
J-M. del Potro ARG d. R. Nadal ESP, 6-2 6-2 6-2, U.S. Open semifinal.
R. Federer SUI d. R. Soderling SWE, 6-1 7-6(1) 6-4, Roland Garros final.
R. Federer SUI d. T. Haas GER, 6-7(4) 5-7 6-4 6-0 6-2, Roland Garros 4th Round.
R. Federer SUI d. J-M. del Potro ARG, 3-6 7-6(2) 2-6 6-1 6-4, Roland Garros semifinal.
R. Soderling SWE d. F. Gonzalez CHI, 6-3 7-5 5-7 4-6 6-4, Roland Garros semifinal.
N. Djokovic SRB d. G. Monfils FRA, 6-2 5-7 7-6(3), Paris Masters final.
A. Roddick USA d. L. Hewitt AUS, 6-3 6-7(10) 7-6(1) 4-6 6-4, Wimbledon quarterfinal.
A. Roddick USA d. A. Murray GBR, 6-4 4-6 7-6(7) 7-6(5), Wimbledon semifinal.
F. Verdasco ESP d. A. Murray GBR, 2-6 6-1 1-6 6-3 6-4, Australian Open 4th Round.
J-W. Tsonga FRA d. R. Federer SUI, 7-6(5) 1-6 7-6(3), Montreal Masters quarterfinal.
J-M. del Potro ARG d. R. Soderling SWE, 6-7(1) 6-3 7-6(3), Barclays ATP World Tour Final semifinal.
J-M. del Potro ARG d. R. Federer SUI, 6-2 6-7(5) 6-3, Barclays ATP World Tour Finals round-robin.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Best (Women's) Matches of 2009

After a year's hiatus in 2008, MadProfessah's list of the Best Tennis Matches of the Year has returned, this time, twice as long! You can still see that inaugural post, the Best Women's Matches of 2007.

Here are the most memorable tennis matches by women in 2009:

1. S. Williams USA d. E. Dementieva RUS, 6-7(4) 7-5 8-6,Wimbledon Championships semifinal, London.

Unanimously recognized as the best match of 2009 by competitors, fans and commentators, the semifinal showdown between Elena Dementieva and Serena Williams was the pivotal moment in the most important tournament of the year. The Russian was popularly regarded as having the most powerful ground strokes of any player on tour but also one of the weakest serves. Serena, of course, is well-known for having the best serve of any player on the WTA Tour and is also very powerful on both wings. Even so, few expected the battle royale which resulted with Dementieva holding a match point at 7-6(4), 5-4 which Serena saved after an extended rally ending with an error by the Russian. Despite the disappointment of not winning the match in the second set, Dementieva was able to exhibit incredible mental fortitude by extending the match to a record 2 hours and 49 minutes, the longest women's semifinal in Open tennis history. But Serena was able to prevail and it was this match which demonstrated that no one was going to be able to stop her from winning her 3rd career Wimbledon title, not even her sister, the best grass court player of her generation.

2. S. Williams USA d. D. Safina RUS, 6-0 6-3, Australian Open final, Melbourne.

None of the 2009 Grand Slam finals were stellar matches, but Serena Williams' dismantling of the World #1 player in the final of the Australian Open was still noteworthy. Although not as devastating as the incredible beatdown of Maria Sharapova Serena displayed in the 2007 final (in that match Sharapova was not playing badly but there's absolutely no one who could have beaten Serena the way she was playing that day), the 2009 final still ended up with a similar result: the humiliating defeat of the Russian player in the final of the Australian Open. It was Serena's 10th major title and her second consecutive Grand Slam title in a row.

3. S. Kuznetsova RUS d. S. Williams USA, 7-6(3) 5-7 7-5, Roland Garros quarterfinal, Paris.

It was clear at the outset that the person who won this match would go on to win the French Open title. The surprising aspect of this match was that the person who exhibited the superior mental toughness was Svetlana Kuznetsova, not 10-time major champion Serena Williams. Kuznetsova faced a set point in the first set but won that point and ended up winning the first set in a tiebreak. In the second set Kuznetsova held a significant lead at 5-3 and was 3 points from victory but ended up losing 4 consecutive games to lose the second set. Serena was up a break and had a lead of 3-1 in the decisive set when things fell apart and she never held a lead again. As Serena said, "It was like, 'Here, do you want to go to the semis? Because I don't.' She was like, 'OK.'" The win was a huge boost for the Russian, who Serena had beaten to win the first major of the year, and Kuznetsova went on to win the second major of the year and her second career major title.

4. C. Wozniacki DEN d. S. Kuznetsova RUS, 2-6 7-6(5) 7-6(3), U.S. Open 4th Round, New York City.

The teenaged sensation had made a name for herself on the tour all year long but it was only at the final major of the year that the Danish player made her major breakthrough to defeat 2-time major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova. The Russian was dominating in the first set, firing on all cylinders and simply overwhelming the youngster with her forehand and backhand. However, in the second set Kuznetsova started to make more errors and Wozniacki improved her retrieving abilities, often making the Russian hit two or three attempted winners to try to win the point, eventually leading to an overhit error. Eventually the second set was won by Wozniacki due to at most two points that could have gone either way. In the third set both players held and consolidated breaks of service but, surprisingly, it was the more inexperienced player who ended the match the victor. Wozniacki would go on to reach her first career Grand Slam final and end the year ensconced in the Top 5.

5. V. Williams USA d. D. Safina RUS, 6-1 6-0, Wimbledon semifinal, London.

Venus Williams humiliated the world #1 by delivering the worst thrashing in a Grand Slam to a top-seeded player ever and one of the most lopsided scores in a grand slam semifinal in the Open era. For the third time in the third major of the year, Safina's mental infirmities overwhelmed her not insubstantial strengths as a player but this time the meltdown occurred in a semifinal and not a final. Strangely, none of the supreme confidence and expert shotmaking Venus displayed in this match were apparent in the final against her sister the next day. Then again, it's easier to look good when your opponent is busy trying to look so awful.

6. M. Oudin USA d. M. Sharapova RUS, 1-6 7-6(3) 6-3, U.S. Open 3rd Round, New York.

Melanie Oudin is the third highest-ranked American player after the Williams sister who made a name for herself by dismissing former World #1 Jelena Jankovic in the fourth round of Wimbledon. She is nearly a full foot shorter than the statuesque 3-time major champion Maria Sharapova. However, despite losing the first set easily, Oudin never seemed to panic or feel that she was unable to win the match despite the stark difference not only between the two player's heights but the difference in their levels of success on the WTA tour. Oudin was aided by Sharapova's wobbly serve--the Russian former #1 double-faulted 21 times, the most of any player in a WTA tour match all year. The American also had a very partisan and rowdy New York City crowd behind her who never gave up on the diminutive American despite Sharapova's service-break lead in the final set. The 17-year-old became the youngest American semifinalist at the U.S. Open since Serena Williams nearly 10 years before on her way to winning the first of her 11 major titles.

7. S. Williams USA d. V. Williams USA, 7-6(2) 6-2, Wimbledon Championships final, London.

It's not often the Wimbledon final doesn't make into the Top 5 Best Matches of the Year but 2009 was that kind of year (on the Women's side). For the fifth time of the decade (and second consecutive year) the Williams sisters would face each other in the Wimbledon final. At the time, Venus was widely regarded as the finest grass court player of her generation with 5 titles and Serena was the current defending champion of two of the four majors and is clearly the best player of the decade. Unfortunately (as usual) the showdown did not live up to its potential. Venus demolished her semifinal opponent without breaking a sweat the round before and was never seriously challenged in London until the final. Serena got through the match of the year by defeating Elena Dementieva in an incredible match that lasted nearly 3 hours. However, in the final it was Venus who seemed the less physically present, and Serena was definitely the more mentally focused, thus leading to the relatively lopsided score after the relatively close first set, which was filled with deep powerful hitting and incredible ball retrieval by both players.

8. C. Wozniacki DEN d. V. Azarenka BLR, 1-6 6-4 7-5, Sony Ericsson Championships round-robin, Doha.

In the last tournament of the year, the young Caroline Wozniacki met the young Victoria Azarenka for the third time in 2009, having lost both matches played against the feisty Belorussian . After losing the first game of the match, Azarenka won 6 games in a row to take the first set. The second set featured an amazing 14-deuce fifth game and lasted almost 80 minutes, nearly half the duration of the entire match. Despite losing the second set, Azarenka served for the match at 5-3 in the deciding set but only had a match point on Wozniacki's serve at 4-5 but made an error to even the match at 5-all in the third. Eventually Wozniacki broke to go up 6-5 and won the match on a service winner. Azarenka and Wozniacki will most likely be rivals for many major titles well into the future.

9. K. Clijsters BEL d.V. Williams USA, 6-0 0-6 6-4, U.S Open 4th Round, New York City.

The first two sets of this highly anticipated match-up between the beloved mother of Jada and the 7-time Grand Slam champion were the two most lopsided sets of tennis of the year, with Clijsters starting off hot and Venus Williams committing error after error followed by a set where Williams settled down and started painting the lines with successive winners despite the Belgian's legendary flexibility. This match was a canonical example of "Big Babe Tennis" with both players banging away from the baseline, impressing the audience with huge serves, blistering groundstrokes and powerful athleticism. In the end, Clijsters' superior control was the edge that gave her the victory.

10. F. Pennetta ITA d. V. Zvonareva RUS, 3-6 7-6(8) 6-0, U.S. Open 4th Round, New York City.

Flavia Pennetta became the first Italian women to reach the Top 10 in August 2009 a few weeks before this classic showdown with the always combustible Russian Vera Zvonareva in the 4th Round of the U.S. Open. In the second set, Pennetta saved no less than SIX match points, several with winners on her racquet and ended up winning the middle set. Zvonareva was so mentally frazzled by this result that she failed to win a single game and lost the deciding set 6-0. An incredibly memorable result for the popular Italian.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Here are some honorable mentions for memorable matches of the year by women

D. Safina RUS d. A. Mauresmo, 4-6 6-3 6-4, Wimbledon 3rd Round.
S. Williams USA d. S. Kuznetsova RUS, 5-7 7-5 6-1, Australian Open quarterfinal.
J. Dokic AUS d. A. Kleybanova USA, 7-5 5-7 8-6, Australian Open 4th Round.
M. Oudin USA d. J. Jankovic SRB, 6-7(8) 7-5 6-2, Wimbledon 3rd Round.
C. Suarez Navarro ESP d. V. Williams USA, 2-6 6-3 7-5, Australian Open 2nd Round
K. Clijsters BEL d. S. Williams USA, 6-4 7-5, U.S. Open semifinal.
K. Clijsters BEL d. C. Wozniacki DEN, 7-5 6-3, U.S. Open final.
M. Oudin USA d. N. Petrova RUS, 1-6 7-6(2) 6-3, U.S. Open 4th Round.
V. Williams USA d. S. Williams USA, 6-1 2-6 7-6(3), Dubai Championships semifinal.
V. Azarena BLR d. S. Williams USA, 6-3 6-1, Sony Ericsson Open final.
S. Williams USA d. V. Williams USA, 6-2 7-6(4), Sony Ericsson Championship semifinal.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Djokovic, Thespian

We know he likes to mimic, but can he act? A director surely thinks so:

AFP - BELGRADE — The Serbian world number three tennis player Novak Djokovic is to play Yugoslavia's first king in a television series to be shot next year, local media reported Thursday.

The 10-part series will retrace the life and reign of king Aleksandar Karadjordjevic, first monarch of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, who unified the kingdoms of Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia after World War I.

The tennis champion and first-time actor will play Aleksandar during his reign, which came to a brutal end in 1934 when he was assassinated in the port of Marseilles while trying to set up an alliance with France against Germany.

Djokovic's younger brother Djordje will play the king as a young man.

Filmed on a budget of almost three million euros (4.2 million dollars), the show is set to air in 2011, its director Stojan Stojcic said.

The 22-year old Serb player finished 2009 as world number three for the second straight year.

Djokovic won his first Grand Slam singles title at the 2008 Australian Open. He had been runner-up at the 2007 US Open and won a bronze for Serbia in the singles at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

CHENGDU, CHINA - DECEMBER 24:  Performers dances in a pub to celebrate Christmas on December 24, 2009 in Chengdu of Sichuan Province, China. Christmas is not a public holiday in China, but it is celebrated across the country as more and more western traditions have become increasingly popular with Chinese people.
Getty

Performers dance in a pub to celebrate Christmas on December 24, 2009 in Chengdu of Sichuan Province, China. Christmas is not a public holiday in China, but it is celebrated across the country as more and more western traditions have become increasingly popular with Chinese people.

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Or, as Karen said:

Just driving by to wish everyone here a Happy Christmas, Kwanzaa, Holidays, Hanukkah (though that is long gone) or any other holiday that you celebrate during this Winter Solstice. May all your dreams come true for 2010 and beyond.

Take care of your blessings.

Face Of The Day

Belgium's tennis player Kim Clijsters answers questions during a news conference promoting her new sponsor, Belgian cable operator Telenet, in Mechelen, December 22, 2009.
Reuters

Belgium's tennis player Kim Clijsters answers questions during a news conference promoting her new sponsor, Belgian cable operator Telenet, in Mechelen, December 22, 2009.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Serena Is SI Athlete Of The Decade

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 09:  Honoree/tennis player Serena Williams speaks onstage at the The 2009 Women of the Year hosted by Glamour Magazine at Carnegie Hall on November 9, 2009 in       * Next »  NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 09: Honoree/tennis player Serena Williams speaks onstage at the The 2009 Women of the Year hosted by Glamour Magazine at Carnegie Hall on November 9, 2009 in New York City.New York City.
Getty

Honoree/tennis player Serena Williams speaks onstage at the The 2009 Women of the Year hosted by Glamour Magazine at Carnegie Hall on November 9, 2009 in New York City.

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An embarrassment of riches, really. This one from Sports Illustrated:

Some might argue that Williams, 28, is the best story in sports (notwithstanding her temper tantrum at the 2009 U.S. Open). Consider her accomplishments this decade: She won nine of her 10 Grand Slam singles titles and two Olympic gold medals in doubles (with her sister Venus), and she recently reclaimed the No. 1 ranking. She boasts the most powerful game in modern tennis, and she is best when the stakes are highest. Throw in the nearly $29 million in prize money -- most of it earned in the aughts -- and it's an improbable haul for a woman who was schooled in the game along with Venus by their father, the self-taught Richard, on pockmarked public courts in Compton, Calif.

(Thanks, Pamela)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Faces Of The Day


Robbie Federer

(Thanks, Karen)

Serena & Roger: ITF World Champions

The ITF announced today that Roger Federer (SUI) and Serena Williams (USA) are the 2009 ITF World Champions.

This is the fifth time Federer has been honoured, while Williams receives the award for the second time.

Serena and Venus Williams (USA) are named Women’s Doubles World Champions for the first time, with Serena becoming the first player since Martina Hingis in 1999 to receive singles and doubles honours.

Bob and Mike Bryan (USA) are Men’s Doubles World Champions for a record sixth time.

Serena Is AP Athlete Of The Year

RNPS IMAGES OF THE YEAR 2009 - Serena Williams of the U.S. holds her trophy after defeating Venus Williams of the U.S. in their Ladies' Singles finals match at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, July 4, 2009.
Reuters

RNPS IMAGES OF THE YEAR 2009 - Serena Williams of the U.S. holds her trophy after defeating Venus Williams of the U.S. in their Ladies' Singles finals match at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, July 4, 2009.

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Which is exactly as it should be:

(CBS/AP) - Playing her best at the most important events, Serena Williams re-established herself as the top player in women's tennis in 2009 and was a landslide choice as Female Athlete of the Year by members of The Associated Press.

Williams received 66 of 158 votes cast by editors at U.S. newspapers that are members of the AP. No other candidate got more than 18 votes in the tally, which was announced Tuesday.

Clearly, Williams' most infamous on-court episode - a tirade directed at a line judge after a foot-fault call near the end of her U.S. Open semifinal loss in September - didn't hurt her standing in the eyes of the voters.

"People realize that I'm a great player, and one moment doesn't define a person's career," Williams told the AP. "And I was right, for the most part: It wasn't right the way I reacted - I never said it was - but I was right about the call."

She also noted that the outburst, which resulted in a record fine and two-year probationary period at Grand Slam tournaments, "got a lot more people excited about tennis."

The 28-year-old American tends to do that, thanks to her powerful, athletic play and her outgoing personality.

"We can attribute the strength and the growth of women's tennis a great deal to her," WTA chairman and CEO Stacey Allaster said in a telephone interview. "She is a superstar."

Williams, who is based in Florida, also won the AP award in 2002, a seven-year gap that is the longest between AP Female Athlete of the Year honors since golf's Patty Berg won in 1943 and 1955.

"I'm just happy and blessed to even be playing seven years later. All this is a bonus, really," Williams said. "In 2002, I just was really dominant, and I think in 2009, I just brought that back. I kind of became that player again."

Runner-up in the AP voting was Zenyatta, who capped a 14-0 career by becoming the first female horse to win the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Tennis' Kim Clijsters finished third with 16 votes.

Read the rest...

(Thanks, b & Moose)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Checking In

Whew.

That's about all I can say right now.

I'll have the Gonads up before year's end.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tax Haven Not So For Sanchez-Vicario

Members of Madrid 2016 delegation Raul Gonzalez (L) and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario react after Rio de Janiero was awarded the 2016 Olympic Games during the 121st IOC session in Copenhagen October 2, 2009.

Members of Madrid 2016 delegation Raul Gonzalez and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario react after Rio de Janiero was awarded the 2016 Olympic Games during the 121st IOC session in Copenhagen October 2, 2009.

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MADRID (AP)—The Spanish Supreme Court has ordered former top-ranked women’s player Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario to pay back approximately $5.1 million in unpaid income tax.

The court rejected Sanchez-Vicario’s assertion that she was a resident of Andorra and not Spain from 1989 to 1993.

The court said in its ruling Thursday that the three-time French Open champion “never effectively lived in Andorra and never had the intention of doing it in any moment, either.”

The 37-year-old Barcelona native, who also won the U.S. Open in 1994, was appealing the decision from a high court ruling in July 2003.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Wickmayer and Malisse Can Play Again?

According to this article in French. Apparently nothing will be resolved until 2010.

Yanina Wickmayer will need a wildcard to get into the Australian Open according to this article in English.

As the World Turns.

Faces Of The Day

U.S. Army CW3 Patrick Green poses with former tennis star Anna Kournikova during her visit to NATO forces at Kabul airport on December 14, 2009.
Reuters

U.S. Army CW3 Patrick Green poses with former tennis star Anna Kournikova during her visit to NATO forces at Kabul airport on December 14, 2009.

On Savannah

Many of you have asked about Savannah in recent weeks. Life has thrown her some curve balls and until further notice, she has asked that I let you all know she's putting her blog on hiatus. She appreciates your readership but mostly your concerns about her well being. Keep her in your thoughts.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Face Of The Day


Getty

Russia's 20th ranked Nadia Petrova returns the ball to Belgium's former world No. 1 Justine Henin during their tennis exhibition tournament match at Cairo's Al-Gezira club on December 12, 2009. Henin won 7-6, 6-2.

Screenshot: Five Minutes With Serena



From the BBC:

Celebrities and news-makers are grilled by Matthew Stadlen in precisely five minutes in a series for the BBC News website.

This week, tennis champion Serena Williams talks to Matt about fashion, superstitions, the killing of her sister Yetunde, her relationship with Venus and treats him to a little song.


(Thanks, kgjerstad)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Face Of The Day

Swiss tennis player Roger Federer makes a live broadcast appearance on a giant electronic display during the Swiss Sports Awards gala in Basel December 12, 2009.
Reuters

Swiss tennis player Roger Federer makes a live broadcast appearance on a giant electronic display during the Swiss Sports Awards gala in Basel December 12, 2009.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Faces Of The Day

BATON ROUGE, LA - DECEMBER 08: Teammate Serena Williams and Sir Elton John share a laugh at the press conference prior to the 17th Annual World Team Tennis Smash Hits benefiting the Elton John AIDS Foundation and Baton Rouge area AIDS charities at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on December 8, 2009 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Getty

Teammate Serena Williams and Sir Elton John share a laugh at the press conference prior to the 17th Annual World Team Tennis Smash Hits benefiting the Elton John AIDS Foundation and Baton Rouge area AIDS charities at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on December 8, 2009 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Quote For The Day

“Because I didn’t have enough confidence in myself as a grass-court player. Because I am always scared of playing the Williams sisters on grass, especially Venus. Part of the reason I lost to [Marion] Bartoli in the [2007] semi-final was because I was scared to face Venus in the final.” --Justine Henin

(Thanks, Karen)

Monday, December 07, 2009

Faces Of The Day


Getty

The winners of the 2009 Davis Cup tennis tournament Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer sign a shirt for Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero (not pictured) on December 7, 2009 at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Final Score

Spain d. Czech Republic 5-0



Rafael Nadal (ESP) d. Tomas Berdych (CZE) 75 60 62
David Ferrer (ESP) d. Radek Stepanek (CZE) 16 26 64 64 86
Feliciano Lopez/Fernando Verdasco (ESP) d. Tomas Berdych/Radek Stepanek (CZE) 76(7) 75 62
Rafael Nadal (ESP) d. Jan Hajek (CZE) 63 64
David Ferrer (ESP) d. Lukas Dlouhy (CZE) 64 62

Face Of The Day

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 06:  Pat Rafter of Australia poses with the trophy after winning the Singles Final against Stefan Edberg of Sweden during day six of the AEGON Masters Tennis at the Royal Albert Hall on December 6, 2009 in London, England.
Getty

Pat Rafter of Australia poses with the trophy after winning the Singles Final against Stefan Edberg of Sweden during day six of the AEGON Masters Tennis at the Royal Albert Hall on December 6, 2009 in London, England.


Saturday, December 05, 2009

Davis Cup Champions

Spain's captian Albert Costa, center, celebrates with the rest of the Spanish team after beating Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych from Czech Republic in the doubles match of the Davis Cup tennis Final at Sant Jordi stadium in Barcelona, Spain, on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2009. Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez won 7-6, 7-5, 6-2 winning the third point to win the Davis Cup against Czech Republic.
AP

Spain's captian Albert Costa, center, celebrates with the rest of the Spanish team after beating Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych from Czech Republic in the doubles match of the Davis Cup tennis Final at Sant Jordi stadium in Barcelona, Spain, on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2009. Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez won 7-6, 7-5, 6-2 winning the third point to win the Davis Cup against Czech Republic.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 05: Feliciano Lopez (L), David Ferrer (C) and Rafael Nadal (R) of Spain celebrate with their team mates after Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco of Spain beat Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic during the Davis Cup World Group Final doubles match at Palau Sant Jordi stadium on December 5, 2009 in Barcelona, Spain. Spain won the Davis Cup after leading Czech Republic 3-0.
Getty

Friday, December 04, 2009

Faces Of The Day

David Ferrer of Spain, left, reacts whith his coach Albert Costa after winning the match against Radek Stepanek of Czech Republic during the second single match of the Davis Cup tennis Final match at Sant Jordi stadium in Barcelona, Spain, on Friday, Dec. 4, 2009. Ferrer won 1-6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, 7-6.
AP

David Ferrer of Spain, left, reacts whith his coach Albert Costa after winning the match against Radek Stepanek of Czech Republic during the second single match of the Davis Cup tennis Final match at Sant Jordi stadium in Barcelona, Spain, on Friday, Dec. 4, 2009. Ferrer won 1-6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, 7-6.

::

I missed all tennis today. My last grandmother died last night.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Face Of The Day

Spain's Rafael Nadal attends the draw for the Davis Cup tennis final at Sant Jordi stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Dec. 3, 2009. Spain and the Czech Republic will play their Davis Cup final from Dec. 4 to Dec. 6 in Barcelona.
AP

Spain's Rafael Nadal attends the draw for the Davis Cup tennis final at Sant Jordi stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Dec. 3, 2009. Spain and the Czech Republic will play their Davis Cup final from Dec. 4 to Dec. 6 in Barcelona.

Amélie Mauresmo Says Adieu

Twice grand slam winner and former world number one Amelie Mauresmo speaks during a news conference where she announced her retirement, in Issy-Les-Moulineaux, near Paris, December 3, 2009.
Reuters

The two-time grand slam winner and former world number one speaks during a news conference where she announced her retirement, in Issy-Les-Moulineaux, near Paris, December 3, 2009.

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Amélie Mauresmo, France's best female player since Suzanne Lenglen has decided to call it quits. This surely surprises no one. As a long time fan of hers, I'll miss the kind of tennis she produced but certainly not her on-court battles with herself, especially at her home Slam. Still, in a sport where controversy, real and manufactured, drives more and more of the narrative, Mauresmo stood tall as a woman of integrity and grace. From the WTA:

France's Amélie Mauresmo has brought the curtain down on a highly successful and memorable 17-year career, officially retiring from the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. Winner of 25 Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles titles, three doubles titles and a two-time Grand Slam champion, Mauresmo marks the end of a career that saw her become one of the very best and most popular players in the history of women's tennis.

"I don't want to train anymore," Mauresmo explained. "I had to make a decision, which became evident in the last few months and weeks. When you grow older, it's more difficult to stay at the top. It's a bit sad, but this is the right decision. I was lucky enough to have an exceptional career and to experience very strong feelings on the court."

The 30-year-old exits the game having been one of only 19 players to have ever held the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour world No.1 ranking. Mauresmo ascended to the No.1 spot for the first time on September 13, 2004 and held it for five weeks. She recaptured the top ranking on March 20, 2006 and held it for the majority of that year, until November 12, bringing her total weeks at No.1 to 39, amassing the ninth most weeks at No.1 on the Tour.

Mauresmo posted her best season in 2006, winning her first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open (leading 61 20 in the final when Justine Henin was forced to retire) and winning her second just a few months later at Wimbledon (defeating Henin 26 63 64 in the final), where she became the first French Wimbledon champion in the Open Era.

"Amélie will go down in history as one of the best players of her generation and a terrific ambassador for women's tennis," said Stacey Allaster, Chairman and CEO of the Tour. "Amélie's accomplishments not only include winning two Grand Slam titles and becoming the first French player to reach the world No.1 ranking, but leading France to a Fed Cup victory, and generously donating her time to various social causes. Amélie is an extraordinary player, one of the nicest and friendliest personalities on Tour, and a true champion both in tennis and in life."

FILE - In this Jan. 28, 2006 file photo, France's Amelie Mauresmo holds her trophy aloft after winning the women's singles final against Belgium's Justine Henin-Hardenne at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia. Former top-ranked player Mauresmo has retired from tennis. The 30-year-old Frenchwoman, who finished the season ranked No. 21, said Thursday Dec.3, 2009 she was quitting the sport for good.
AP

In this Jan. 28, 2006 file photo, France's Amelie Mauresmo holds her trophy aloft after winning the women's singles final against Belgium's Justine Henin-Hardenne at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia. Former top-ranked player Mauresmo has retired from tennis. The 30-year-old Frenchwoman, who finished the season ranked No. 21, said Thursday Dec.3, 2009 she was quitting the sport for good.

FILE - In this July 8 2006 file photo France's Amelie Mauresmo holds the Championship plate, after defeating Belgium's Justine Henin-Hardenne in the Women's Singles final on the Centre Court at Wimbledon. Mauresmo announced Thursday Dec.3, 2009 she retires from tennis. The 30-year-old Frenchwoman, who finished the season ranked No. 21, said Thursday she was quitting the sport for good.
AP

In this July 8 2006 file photo France's Amelie Mauresmo holds the Championship plate, after defeating Belgium's Justine Henin-Hardenne in the Women's Singles final on the Centre Court at Wimbledon. Mauresmo announced Thursday Dec.3, 2009 she retires from tennis. The 30-year-old Frenchwoman, who finished the season ranked No. 21, said Thursday she was quitting the sport for good.

Twice grand slam winner and former world number one Amelie Mauresmo wipes a tear from her eye during a news conference where she announced her retirement, in Issy-Les-Moulineaux, near Paris, December 3, 2009.
Reuters

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Quote For The Day

"We're going to appeal because we still don't have all the elements which will allow us to decide whether a sanction of one year is appropriate. The scale of sanctions (under the world anti-doping Code) is between one and two years. To drop down from two to one year there have to be justifiable elements. We're going to meet the Flemish authorities Friday to see how we can coordinate our actions, and to be consistent in how we approach this case because the athletes seem to want to make it an affair of principles on different levels."

--Olivier Niggli, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) legal director, on why WADA is seeking a tougher penalty against Yanina Wickmayer and Xavier Malisse

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Faces Of The Day

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 01:  Goran Ivanisevic of Croatia and Pat Rafter of Australia pose for a photo during day one of the AEGON Masters Tennis at the Royal Albert Hall on December 1, 2009 in London, England. They will compete again for the first time since their Wimbledon 2001 final match.
Getty

Goran Ivanisevic of Croatia and Pat Rafter of Australia pose for a photo during day one of the AEGON Masters Tennis at the Royal Albert Hall on December 1, 2009 in London, England. They will compete again for the first time since their Wimbledon 2001 final match.

Tuesday Tirade: All About Control

Serena Williams of the U.S. holds her trophy after defeating Venus Williams of the U.S. in their Ladies' Singles finals match at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, July 4, 2009.
Reuters

Serena Williams of the U.S. holds her trophy after defeating Venus Williams of the U.S. in their Ladies' Singles finals match at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, July 4, 2009.

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It's been a mighty long time, but I'm feeling the need to rant this Tuesday. MadProsseah brought us the news and I posted the ITF press release about Serena's penalty in his entry.

The release itself is a fraud, the perfect representation of the fraudulent organization that released it.

As an astute commenter on another forum asked, "If she's not suspended....what does this one mean?"

3. Ms. Williams is hereby suspended from participation in either the 2010, 2011 or 2012 US Open, as the case may be, except that any such suspension will not be imposed if no further Grand Slam Major Offence conviction occurs through and including 2011.

It means that the ITF is trying to control her.

Who is the ITF trying to appease? Mary Carillo? Andre Agassi? Lindsay Davenport? The rest of the field? Make a clear-cut decision. Suspend her or don't suspend her. Fine her $175,000 or fine her $82,500. But whatever you decide, don't try to split the difference with some Draconian bullshit.

Serena Williams is not an animal who belongs on a leash, short or long. She's a human being who lost her mind and had a reprehensible and inexcusable outburst. Given her history of high-profile, on-court injustices, a lesser person would have lost her mind years ago.

Serena has been fined the maximum. She apologized. She's never done anything like it before; it's highly unlikely she'll ever do anything like it again. She's proven throughout her career that she learns from her mistakes, big and small.

Adults would move along.

But the adults are asleep at the wheel over at the International Tennis Federation and the infants are running wild.

Fine Serena excessively, but if she behaves she'll get half of it back? Suspend Serena from the US Open for three years, but if she behaves her suspension won't be enforced? And since that clearly isn't enough, let's put her on probation and treat her like a common criminal. Oh, yes. And let's not define our terms (what the fuck constitutes a major offense anyway?) so we can muddy the water with ambiguity.

What kind of mind games are these idiots playing? I'm not one for shaming, but the whole thing is beyond ridiculous and the ITF and its representatives ought to be ashamed of themselves.

The ITF's action here is even more reprehensible and inexcusable than Serena's because the ITF, despite its cowardice, actually has power over her and they're abusing it to try to control her.

If this is how the ITF governs, then it should be put out of its misery post haste.

And I hope Serena, her spirit willing, her body strong, is inspired to win every Slam she enters throughout her entire probation.