Monday, August 08, 2016

All aboard the Rio Olympics struggle bus!

So many ridiculous things have happened since the Olympic tennis tournament began that it's like, "Where do you start?" Let's start in reverse chronological order, I guess:

1. Juan Martin del Potro, everybody. OK, like everyone else, I am blown away that he beat Novak Djokovic in the first round in Rio, but I am struck by something else. If not for injury, what would we be saying about del Potro right now? Three slams? Four? From my couch, Djokovic played well, but del Potro was thumping winners from everywhere and he was moving great for a big guy.
This just goes to show that being stuck in an elevator with no contact with the outside world for 40 minutes is also not bad match prep.
2. Does goes the Williams sisters. The first inclination here is to blame Venus for this, because she's not well. But she didn't look that bad in the Williams sisters defeat at the hands of Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova. But based on my (yes, limited) knowledge of doubles, I wonder two things about the sisters and their doubles game: (a) Why wouldn't Serena play the ad side? I always thought the better player takes the ad side for the advantage in big points. No offense to Venus, but Serena's returns are far more reliable in general. (b) Why are we letting Serena play the net? Her volleys and movements up there are often stilted. Lots of men's teams have both players starting deep and maybe that's something they ought to consider.
3. That's not all for Venus. If you follow me on Twitter, then you know how I feel about the game of Kirsten Flipkens. To summarize: I once played in the USTA sectionals for my team up north. My second match was against this person who hit moonballs left and right. It was annoying, and as I would say later (making sure she was in earshot of course) "not tennis." Well, of course, it is tennis, and of course, she did beat me, and of course Flipkens is crafty as hell and that's annoying and maybe not considered to be "fair" in some circles. But she did win and she did it on guile. Not to minimize Venus' role in all of this -- she had almost one thousand opportunities to end games in that match and failed about half the time. I didn't know she had been ill until after match, which might explain why she didn't bring her current form to Brazil. Considering her physical limited, she has to get props for bringing it as she did, but yeah, not enough.

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