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: http://www.tourneytopia.com/RacquetBracketAussieOpenATP/NafTWA/pool/EntryPicks.aspx?EntryId=264313&InviteLink=true.

You should get in this contest. Submit your picks here: http://www.tourneytopia.com/RacquetBracketAussieOpenATP/NafTWA/default.aspx. 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: http://www.tourneytopia.com/RacquetBracketAussieOpenWTA/AussieOpenWTA/pool/EntryPicks.aspx?EntryId=265676&InviteLink=true.

You should get in this contest. Submit your picks here: http://www.tourneytopia.com/RacquetBracketAussieOpenWTA/AussieOpenWTA/default.aspx. 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!