Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thoughts from (watching) Indian Wells

Good to know that ATP officials are cracking down on racist chatter from players. Michael Llodra was fined -- now, wait for it -- $2,500 for calling a spectator either a "Chinese whore" or a "f***king Chinese," depending on the translator. Llodra didn't like that the, um, Korean woman was cheering for his opponent, Ernests Gulbis (dude, would you play to your potential already?) He doesn't deny it -- he said it was said in the heat of competition. And that he's not racist. According to the Los Angeles Times, he said later: "I love Chinese – I can totally make love with a Chinese girl."
Well. On behalf of women everywhere, Chinese or no, let me say "no thank you." It's one thing to say something you don't mean in the heat of the moment. It happens to all of us. But to initially refuse to apologize for it shows that he's not really any kind of man, and certainly not the kind of man any woman would want to "make love with." Li Na, who had nothing to do with this at all, is even woman enough to apologize on behalf of all players for his language. For the record, he finally did apologize three days later, which tells me it finally occurred to him that this could go badly for him if he didn't.
Oh, and to the ATP: Really? $2,500? Really? I have a question: If Llodra had busted out the 'N' word, would you think that fine was enough? Here's a sport that doles out warnings for slamming down an inanimate object on the court and yet you basically say in the face of a racist comment, "Don't let that happen again, OK? Now here's a slap on the wrist." You ought to be ashamed of yourselves for being accessories after the fact, you pansy-assed punks.
Note to Aggie Radwanska: Next time, you might want to keep your criticisms of Victoria Azarenka faking an injury (which turned out to be real) to yourself. Then, she might give you a few games in the first set next time you play. Seriously, think Azarenka was a little motivated to stick it her good friend after that comment in Dubai.
Every time I watch Andy Roddick play, I think: "He sure wasted a lot of time when he was being coached by Tarik Benhabiles." Nothing against Benhabiles, but obviously Roddick's backhand wasn't a focus when he was starting out. If it had – if he had a more rounded game as he does now, maybe he would have more than one Slam to his name. Now, he's playing OK, but it's too late. I'll eat my cell phone if Andy Roddick wins another major.
I am not Caroline Wozniacki, but I get deeply embarrassed for her when she gets overpowered on the court by players ranked outside of the top 30. Sofia Arvidsson? Really?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Lost in translation? Ri-ight.

So the biggest tennis news of the weekend is the U.S. rout of Switzerland (read: Roger Federer) in Davis Cup action. This one's surprising for a couple reasons, mainly that it was played on clay. That's some clay when Americans can play on it. That's a strategy fail right there.
And then there's this tidbit. After their doubles loss, Federer said all the right things about how they fought the good fight, the Americans were better that day, blah, blah, blah. But apparently, the French version of the presser was much more interesting. According to the Associated Press, Federer said he played well in dubs, but that partner Stan Wawrinka didn't. That's a nice thing to say about the guy you won the OLYMPICS with. Guess he's some sort of hack. Fed also faulted Stan for not winning his match against Mardy Fish in singles, because the loss failed to put pressure on the U.S. Interesting theory, but last I checked, the tie score was 5-0. One might deduce that Federer's loss to John Isner might also have failed to put pressure on the U.S. What, it's Wawrinka's fault that Federer lost, too?
Actually, I like seeing Federer like this. He's a sore loser, and that's what makes a great champion, not all that business about losing gracefully. The man hates to lose, and as long as he reacts so adversely to loss, his head's in the game, and as long as his head's in the game, he'll be around contesting for majors and the like. Still, though, Fed, that was cold blooded.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

If you're snoozing, you're watching Fed Cup ...

Watching the Serena Williams-Anastasiya Yakimova match now. Asking myself why. Well, I have already picked all the lint out of my belly button. And the paint in the living room is dry, although it was fun watching that. So here I sit.
Did anyone else know the U.S. wasn't in the World Group anymore? I guess I should be ashamed of myself, not being able to (or having the interest to) keep up with this "format" they insist upon. Sure, I could go into my specific issues about the Fed and Davis format again. Or I could just point you here and here. Does anyone else have another idea about the world competition formats?
Here's another issue I don't believe I've addressed. The Fed Cup needs to get with the times. The doubles should not be the fifth rubber. It should be the third, just like in Davis Cup. It needs to be in the mix. Now it's great when you actually play a tie that goes to 2-2 and it comes down to doubles. But how often does that happen? Doubles should count for something in every tie. The International Tennis Federation is also ignoring that tennis viewers want to see doubles because most of them play doubles. Duh! And we don't want to see Sloane Stephens playing doubles after the match has been decided and everyone else doesn't care. We want to the best possible doubles match on the court. That rarely happens when it's the fifth match.
My goodness, is this match ugly. I think it's fair to say that Serena is no longer in her heyday. Now it's just "Hey!" As in, hey, what they hey was that?!" Now, I'm starting to ask myself if Serena deserves a spot on the Olympic team. Which begs the question: If you take the Williams sisters out of the picture, what's the best Olympic team the U.S. can send, rankings be damned? I suppose I will accept sentimental answers such as Melanie Oudin, but keep in mind, I'm looking for the team that could do some damage.
OK, so a few games back, Serena comes to the changeover chair and smashes her racquet. You could literally see Mary Joe Fernandez jump a foot off the bench. So after Serena lost the first set, Fernandez, wisely, is not sitting there. Now, who says she's not a good and smart captain? Oh, I did? Kidding!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Closing thoughts

There's a Bible verse that's a favorite of mine. It goes something like this: "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling."
There is no tennis player that embodies this more than Rafael Nadal. The man plays every point as though it is his last, as though he is terrified of defeat. But as hard as he worked at the Australian Open men's final, he came up short against Novak Djokovic. Again.
No one would doubt Nadal's status as a champion, not even after that loss. He carried himself impeccably, although his disappointment was obvious. Still, at some point, he and his team will go to the tape. They will observe that at the end of the match, Rafa spent an awful amount of time watching deep balls land before he even prepared himself to hit them. He was hoping they would go out. He was too careful with some shots, waiting for Djokovic to mess up. They'll find that Nadal didn't take that match and so he lost it.
Now, about Djokovic. He is a champion. He will probably go down as one of the best of his generation, and if he keeps it up, one of the best ever. But he is not Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal. Sorry, he's not. Would Federer or Nadal have collapsed to the court -- during a match -- acting for all the world as though he couldn't take it anymore, only to jump back up and run like a deer and hit winners all over the place? No. There's no doubt Djokovic was struggling physically, but he purposely made a show of making sure his opponent saw his antics in an attempt to throw him off. There's nothing illegal about it -- he's got every right. But it's why he's not Federer or Nadal.
Meanwhile, Victoria Azarenka won her first Grand Slam title by beating Maria Sharapova like she stole something. I once had a phone interview with Azarenka, when she played in a tournament here in the Pittsburgh area. It took about 12 minutes longer than the final. This, incidentally, is why I don't get up at 3 a.m. to watch a women's tennis match. There is no matchup today on the women's side (not one -- I defy you to give me one!) that is guaranteed the same quality competition as Nadal-Djokovic, or Nadal-Federer or Murray-Djokovic or Djokovic-Federer. Not to take anything from Azarenka or Petra Kvitova or Sharapova or Samantha Stosur, but women's tennis is weak right now. And I think we can all stop saying, "Wait until Serena gets back." She's back and it makes no difference.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

AO: More ramblings from my couch

... Tomas Berdych is a pu--, er, pansy (for the family readers. See what I do for people who might not exist?). What is he, 6 foot 8, and a little tennis ball to his arm hurts his feelings? Geez. Here's hoping he never plays the doubles.
... Victoria Azarenka should stop doing the No. 1 symbol after her matches until she can serve out a match in a game with fewer than 12 deuces.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

AO: Observations from my couch

1. Marcos Baghdatis was fined $600 for smashing four racquets during his match against Stan Wawrinka. Good. It's about time the powers that be paid more attention to racquet rights.
2. I had David Nalbandian beating Sam Querrey in my bracket, and if it weren't for that umpire pulling rank on a suspect overrule (and subsequent refusal to let Nalbandian challenge the call), it might have been right. He got screwed! Two questions arise here: (a) Do you think that umpires sometimes just don't like certain players and it affects the decisions they make? (b) If one of the Big Four had waited that long to make a challenge -- which, by the way, was, what, a few seconds? -- would the same thing have happened? Heck, I've seen players walk up to a line, walk over to their posse, consult, stop at their chair for a drink of water, stretch, then ask for a challenge. What we need is a specific amount of time to challenge a call, and it would need to be different for singles and doubles. That's it!
3. Sam Stosur. *face palm*

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Who's in?

Here are my Racquet Bracket picks. We all know I'm right, but I wouldn't discourage anyone from trying to top me ...
Preview coming soon.


I submitted my picks into the Naf's Racquet Bracket :: Australian Open ATP contest.

Check out my picks here:

You should get in this contest. Submit your picks here: The deadline to enter is 1/15/2012 7:00 PM Eastern Standard Time.

Naf V


I submitted my picks into the Racquet Bracket :: Australian Open WTA contest.

Check out my picks here:

You should get in this contest. Submit your picks here: The deadline to enter is 1/15/2012 7:00 PM Eastern Standard Time.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Another TWA bright idea!

Hey, who wants to take me on in a Racquet Bracket faceoff on the Tennis Channel's website? Any ideas for a prize for the winner? That won't cost me a lot of money?? Anyone interested??? Any reason I keep adding question marks????
Details coming ...

Monday, January 09, 2012

It's a (tournament) wrap!

The first week of 2012 promised great talent at big warmup tournaments. Let's check in on a couple of tournaments to see how that went:

Brisbane International top seeds
1. Sam Stosur: Er, injured. Diagnosed Tuesday with Grand Slam Letdown Disorder, or better known as Na Li Syndrome
2. Andrea Petkovic: Quarterfinals, and nursing a "minor" back injury ***BREAKING NEWS*** Petkovic is out of the Australian Open with a back injury and bitterness over having to put the kibosh on her victory dance.
3. Francesca Schiavone: Semifinals
4. Serena Williams: Left ankle sprain
5. Kim Clijsters: Left hip injury
Oh, and BREAKING NEWS! Venus Williams is out of the Australian Open, still recovering from an autoimmune disease.

Well. Women are the weaker sex, are they not? Surely, the top men must be faring better, right, Roger Federer? What, now? He's at the chiropractor having his back looked at? Weird. But how Rafa "Muscles" Nadal? Sore shoulder. Andy Murray? Knee. Robin Soderling. Mono.
Could it be that these injuries are springing up from not having enough of an offseason? Nah.
More on the seeds and draws this week ...

Monday, January 02, 2012

Why I'm back ... and other thoughts

1. I worked very damned hard on that logo.
2. I am tired of junk responses on old postings coming to my email account.
3. When Serena Williams asks an umpire, "Aren't you the one who screwed me over last time?" AND SHE'S NOT, I want to be able to immediately write, "Wait a second. Is Serena Williams saying that all white people look alike??" There. That felt better.

All of the above is true. Mostly, I miss writing about tennis, even if hardly anyone read it. Life's not gotten less busy -- in fact, I have an infant here trying to get at my keyboard -- but you should make room for the things you enjoy in life, and so here I am again. I plan on bringing all the old features back, including the (much more scaled down) Grand Slam previews and my league updates (I finally made it to 4.0! Let's see how long that lasts). Anyway, it's on, y'all!