Rick Rock here:
So we are demoing racquets at the moment, and one of them is Leni's Yonex! Also the very same racquet Nalbandian uses, so needless to say Paula is excited to have it in the house. She hasn't had a chance to try it yet - tomorrow.
We missed the first set in which Leni bageled JJ - so we just saw the conclusion, in which JJ methodically dismantled Leni. Unbelievable defense, coupled with consistent depth and careful but effective approaching - very impressive. JJ has gotten a lot of flack for being number 1 without making a grand slam final. I think she is going to surprise people and hang around for a while. To me she is just gaining confidence and improving. I predict she will be #1 for the majority of 2009. Yeah! There you go - taking a stand.
Anyway very sad to see my girl go down but JJ clearly kicked her butt, so more power to her.
SO what the f is up with the Kremlin cup? No one is there. The entire arena or whatever you call it is empty. Now I have been to Moscow, and the first thing I saw getting off the airplane was a giant mural of Leni, Zvonareva and Myskina (at that time) - so these girls are stars there. I also picked up the Russian equivalent of Us magazine and there was a giant spread about Leni. So again, Russians seem to know and care about the incredible, practically incomparable dominance of Russian women in tennis - the sport is important there. The Russian folks I met all knew about the Russian players. But no one is there. So what is going on? You have to chock it up to some flavor of Russian corruption, I assume some equivalent to the corporate impact we see on stadium audiences in the US, but times 100. I guess all the seats are reserved for politically important people and oligarchs, who have better things to do, and no one else is allowed to buy them? Or can afford them?
Whatever the true explanation it's weird and bad and a very small but telling indicator of how subtly but importantly off and dysfunctional Russia is these days, despite the enormous surge in affluence. No city is more expensive (to the foreign visitor anyway) than Moscow. Oil fueled growth and inflation, the entire city under construction. So anyway, weird that no one is at the semifinals, and that the tournament organizers think that is ok.
Signing off - RR