Friday, January 30, 2009
I love this tennis, though. I find the hostility sort of exciting. I also find Nadal and Verdasco really exciting to watch. I love these guys.
I am 3/3 in the furth and beleive it or not- I have to leave soon, to drive upstate, and play tennis at Total Tennis for the whole weekend. I think I will not see this end of this til later. Sigh. But man, what a nice afternoon. I could watch this match over and over again, all day long for, like, years.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
But Verdasco??!!!! I am breatheless with joy to see him in the semis. I hope he can keep his form. I like the little bit where he talks about self belief and going to Vegas and training with Reyes gave him this new mental outlook (I think he was always fit and he may be fitter. ) But still. The power of THE MIND.
Everyone was whinging about Djokovic retiring. Like they did about Monfils retiring. I think- I would much rather have someone retire than barf, shit themself, pass out or die. I also get confused when they ALWAYS (sometimes it makes sense) put fitness and ability to withstand heat together. With Nole, it just can't be the truth. So now they do this whole "didn't hydrate enough" and honestly, that is probably not true either. What is true is that some people feel extremely badly in very hot weather. Because people are different. Some people see black spots, their hearing can go wierd on them, they can feel like they can't move well and want to lie down. I say, let those fuckers go lied down! I just really don't have a problem with that. Other people want to see people barf first. I have two kids so I have seen enough barf. NO to the BARF!
Nadal is going to win. That is my NEW prediction. But- this is the Aussie Open- so there has to be at least one random person in the final. So, maybe Verdasco? Maybe Roddick? I guess one of the two has to make it to the final. Because if it is Nadal/Fed, it just won't feel like the Aussie Open.
Monday, January 26, 2009
The tennis is catching up with me, and I have to go bed early tonight, so I thought I would get this out of the way now. So even tho it hasn't happened yet - OMG I can't believe Delpo beat Federer!!! This is the real arrival of Del Potro, what an upset, etc., etc. Honestly I would like Fed to win, bu I think Delpo can do it. Wake me up at 5 in the morning or whatever, and let me know if I was right, ok? Seriously I think Del Potro has that extra bit if game, and confidence, that Berdych lacked. Who knows? We'll see.
Roddick and Djokovic just got under way. We were there at the US when they played last year. When Djokovic made everyone mad and they booed. BOO! I forget exactly what he said. Thousands of angry drunken New Yorkers. Er, not us of course. Bad move Nole. But he was real tough in that match and I have to think he's gonna win it.
Uhhhh... I have to go to bed, I feel weird. Bye!
I'm not sure what I think about Killer Cahill complaining about Monfils' retiring. I guess he's done it a lot? I didn't know that about him. I love Monfils but maybe he is a bit young still, like, young in the head? Give him time. That's what I say. I just am happy because I have Simon winning the whole thing. And you know what? The way Nadal beat Gonzo? I think I am wrong that Simon is going to win the whole thing. I really made that pick to be all "no way, that's nuts" and then- what if I had been right? Sometimes, it's fun to be risky. Now, I am not one of those persons who jabs a knife between my fingers real fast- bam, bam bam- you know, until something bad happens? But I did pick Simon.
Also? I stayed up until 2am watching tennis last night. I feel like crap today. But! It was fun.
Serena moves on. It was a shame that Azarenka got sick. But man, she looked really ill. That is a retirement you have to support. Serena was great, and very kind. I liked that a lot. (Remember when Maria Sharapova got booed off a court for totally ignoring- turning her back- on a very badly injured Tatiana Golovin? I was on my couch booing.) Suarez Navarro moves on. Leni moves on. "And on and on and on..."(that's a quote from a song by the Blake Babies called "On".
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Round of 16 - The Heart of the Tournament - Federer over Berdych, Djokovic over the Bag...and, Sweatastic Kleybanova!
The round of 16 is when it really starts to come together. Not that there haven't been great matches in the earlier rounds - it;s really been a good tournament so far - but suddenly there is more at stake, generally better match-ups, a little more electricity as players peek into week 2.
Fed v. Berdych - happy for Fed and sad for Berdych. Now I am going to pretend I know something about tennis, which is basically not actually true - but who cares, here I go. I think Fed has become too tactical a player. What I mean is, he relies too much on certain set tactics - in particular, the short slice backhand, particularly on the return of serve. It's not a bad tactic, but he becomes very predictable, and when an opponent starts to really take advantage, he is slow to change it up. Djokovic feasted on that return last year, and Berdych did too through 2 sets today. His second serve too lacks variety, and has become a bit of a liability.
I feel that, especially against opponents he thinks he should beat, he is very stubborn about sticking to his preconceived plan, and he resents having to actually make shots and bust his behind on defense. He woke up against Berdych and started to be more aggressive but it took staring into the abyss. He will have to embrace playing on the edge a bit more, again, if he wants to win another major.
Ok, end of pretending to know crap about tennis, really.
Djokovic over the Bag - a lot of people have an issue with Djokovic but I don't. He's great. The most visibly athletic player around. I don't know what people mean when they say athletic, necessarily, but for me it is about balance - I'm not sure how to say it but he looks so balanced, while being aggressive, just a great mover and almost always achieving great stillness at the moment of contact, while otherwise constantly in motion. And flexibility - incredible backbend on the serve, #1 in the splits of the men, etc. Sad for the Bag of course - but a good fight.
Now we're watching Dokic and Kleybanova. Don't tell because we have it taped and haven't seen the end! Rooting for Dokic, because she looks kind of like my girl, P. BUT, nothing against Kleybanova. P feels bad for calling her a beast in an earlier post... and before I say this, I just want to say, I don't mean to be mean, but this is just totally objective, fact-based reporting. Second, I too am a fantastic sweat generator. That said, here goes.
Kleybanova, leaning over to serve, sweat dripping from her... hat? Damn, there has got to be a lot of sweat to totally saturate the hat, dribble all the way to the brim, and still have enough gusto to be like, pouring off. And then - AND THEN - she wrings out her ponytail - with a practiced movement, no less - wrings it out and sweat just gushes out - SPLASH! Wow. Now if I had a ponytail, to be clear, I would do the same, because I sweat like a champ. But still - if nothing else, it needs to be noted. And, if I was on TV, I think maybe I would try to at least be subtle about it? I don't know, maybe not. As Jesse of the Eagles of Death Metal says - "SWEAT!"
Don't get me wrong - Kleb is playing great, and probably will win this. I feel for her with the Aussie crowd against her. But damn!
UPDATE - Dokic won it! Despite rolling her ankle - looked horrible but didn't seem to slow her down. I feel for Kelby with the crowd against her - but happy for Dokic. Genuinely moving, with her whole story. Her coach, her boyfriend in the crowd, the people who believed in her, it's nice to see.
Sorry for making fun of sweaty Kleby - but she did it again, wringing out the pony tail, yikes!
Signing out - Rick Rock
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Gasquet, on the other hand, is hot and --honestly? I worry about him. I worry he doesn't have enough support, and too much criticism. I worry that this epic battle where he played SOO well (but lost) will cause his "both my parents are tennis coaches" to be stern with him. I have these feelings, because of his mental fragility- he is mentally fragile, although he wasn't in this match--so I think it was a big breakthrough and should be treated as such- and I think he is mentally fragile BECAUSE he is not getting enough love. I want to love Gasquet. Cook him dinner (in Canada, he was always sitting alone at dinner...I wanted to go over to him, invite him to have dinner with us...), rub his feet, tussle his hair, give him big kisses. Hug him. Have sex with him. Oh wait!?? Now, here is where my feelings for Gasquet get confusing. I want to mother him, but I also want to have sex with him. Oh poo. It's all wrong.
Well, at least I don't have those confusing thoughts about, say, Lopez or Verdasco. I have no desire to mother them at all. I'll just focus on that.
Also, Igor is a favorite name of mine. One, I like Igor Stravinsky. I think he made good music. Also, when I was a little girl, my dad really liked Stravinsky. So when I was like five, I got a cat, and named him Igor. I was so in love with that cat that once I ate cat food, to, like, bond with him. (It tasted really bad. One of my, like, three childhood memories that I actually remember, up there with breaking my arm doing wild cartwheels in the backyard. My son Cheeswad's memory I think works like mine. Every year in school, or so it seems, he has to do some writing exersize using "small moments" and he always writes about the time he got his finger slammed in a car door. It's the only thing he will remember from his childhood. Maybe I should convince him to try cat food, so he can have another memory.)
Friday, January 23, 2009
I am confused! I don't know how to feel. I am very happy for Verdasco - I am a big fan and wanted him to win! BUT - he totally hosed my racquet bracket! Stepanek just beat him, soundly , in Brisbane! In Brisbane, Stepanek was like, you are a nice hot Spanish lefty sporty dude but I am much too crafty for you - I win! I am the boss of you. So, when I rocked the racquet bracket, I confidently said (in fact actually said out loud to P), "oh yes, Stepanek will beat Verdasco again". Oops. Oops. Double bagel - holy crap! Well anyway, no T-shirt for me, but go Verdasco!
Hmm let's see what else have we seen - Kusi with a nice win over Bondarenko. We walked by her at the US Open last year. Two things I remember about Alona - big feet, like size 12's (she had like flip flops on), and not one but two hot boy-toy dudes following her around. Anyway Kusi played like good Kusi.
What else - Simon predictably (ha I actually predicted it!) winning over Ancic. Ancic is good but Simon is uncannily great right now! That guy weighs about as much as our cats, combined. Maybe. As much as our (rather tall but skinny) 12 year old? But damn, he gets every ounce into every shot. He rocks. Simon in the final!
All right I have to go - bye!
RR out -
OK, now Dokic vs. the spicy hot Wozniaki. I want Dokic to win. I feel for her. SHE DID IT!!!! God bless.
Anyone care to bitch about the streaker? My tennis pro today said, "that's how Monica Seles got stabbed." I didn't see it.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
First, I am behind - sorry. Still thinking about last night. Sorry - have a job. Sorry!
Mmmm... Dulko and Benesova in one night - wow. (Leni goes without saying. ) But apart from the hotness, here is what I really want to say. I think players who kind of bounce around the top 100 for years - 4 years for Dulko, and 5 years for Benesova with, er, 2 years in there slipping out - are cool. All right, I admit, I noticed these in particular because they are really hot. But let me make my point. But first I just noticed (from the WTA site) that both are exactly 5'7" and 123 and 1/2 pounds!?! Weird.
Back to my point - these players are both the kind that don't make it on TV much, despite being AHHH hot, you see them once in a while, then not, and you kind of assume, OK, they had a good moment and now are probably fading into obscurity. But they haven't! They are still fighting, working their way up the rankings at the moment - and still smoking! I think that's cool. You listen to the media too much and you start to think if someone is not number 1, top 3, top 10, top 20, they suck. But it isn't true!
If you are number 45 in the world (as Dulko is - Benesova is currently 35 - WTF?!?) - you rock. Tennis is weird. For example, both of these girls, as top 100 in the world players, are better - way better - than Libby. Libby is a pro at our favorite tennis club, the Binghamton Tennis Center, and if you watch her play, she is clearly the best tennis player in the world, and no one - no one could possibly beat her. But actually that is not true!
For example, there are at least 2 5'7", 123.5 pound smoking Argentine or Czech girls who definitely can. And, no doubt, thousands of others. But how? At the top 10 level, you can see the difference - Leni clearly owned Benesova (by the way P and I have a nickname for her that I won't repeat here - think about her name and see if you can figure it out), and Serena, despite a few close moments, clearly owned Dulko.
But you watch their games, and what makes them top 100 material and not just like your typical really good tennis players? I can't figure it out - but whatever it is - it's cool. These ladies will almost certainly never crack the top 20, but they are still trying, still improving, and of course, still smoking.
By the way, Melbourne park is way nicer than Flushing Meadows.
Rick Rock out -
Wow. The Spaniard isn't intimidated! I would be. She's nuts. But it's making for great tennis. Venus is playing pretty well here, I think it's the third deuce. It's the second game in the third set. It was the longest game in the match so far and Navarro pulled it out! Yeah, tennis. No one getting whomped. I hate it when it's one sided, like that Nadal match the other day against C. Rochus I, literally, could not watch.
Well, now Venus is up 3/1 here. This is more sensible. Maybe Navarro is having that thing happen, like in the cartoons from my childhood, where the cartoon character just runs and runs and runs, right over a cliff, into the air, keeps running IN the air, but then!- She looks down! Sees where she is! And boom! She falls. We'll see. It's not over yet. Just thinking.
5/4 here in the third. Venus flubbed a match point. Now she sprayed some more. Hmm. Even the fancy pros show nerves??? The pressure? Come on Venus. Show us why you are who you are! Wow. 5 all!!! This is good stuff. Please, TV people, don't go back to the not very exciting Blake match (more one sided than this by far). Stay here!
Holy CRAP! Venus really made a bunch of errors. But Navarro- she played well, within herself, never looked down at the abyss like those aforementioned cartoon characters. And Venus- so well mannered! So gracious. I love that. WOW.
Now, the dreaded press conference. If I had a choice of doing a press conference, or getting beat up by a drunk bitch at the bar, I think I would choose the latter. They are pretty awful. Painful! The questions! If I had a choice between doing a press conference or say, letting three dogs pee all over my leg, I would choose the latter. If I had a choice between doing a press conference and...(your idea here) join in in the comments below!!! (BTW- Venus is handling it well. She's a pro.)
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I did like the jokes about Malisse getting his groin rubbed. Brad Gilbert made a joke about how it was a hard injury to treat for the trainer. And they made jokes about the towel being draped over Malisse's lap. I must say, it was a bit -ah- intimate looking, the whole procedure. Also- dirty secret- I want Malisse to win.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
My man Canas won his match. Tough five setter. Somewhere, there is a photo of his girlfriend that freaked us out with her hotness and made our respect for Canas SHOOT through the roof. I mean, if he gets to do her, he is just, like, a god or something.
(Rick Rock here - here is a picture of GC's girl, Fabiana Semprebom. This picture caused discord in our household...)
I took a fantastic tennis nap. At first Mary Carillo oozing on about James Blake and Obama (I like both those dudes very much, but Carillo annoys me some) was irritating me, but then later, I got all soothed from the "thwack, thwack" of balls and ...ah, naptime.
But I just woke up to see Nadal bagelling poor Christophe Rochus. I mean, why make those two play each other? Why? We now are fast forwarding. That was just too ugly. Like watching a cat bat around a mouse. Or like when my dog ate a bunny rabbit under the kitchen table. Or like when they used to hang people with thier innards hanging out so that birds would eat thier insides while they screamed and died slowly and painfully. Yeah, just like that.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Wow. After the long, cold off-season of no tennis, and then, a little dribble of tennis, and then suddenly AAAHHHH!!!!! A giant avalanche of tennis! HELP! I'm a little overwhelmed, and the best I can manage is a few random observations.
I lke Caroline Wozniacki -she is good at tennis. She beat Shahar Peer today, which is good, because Peer shouldn't have invaded Gaza. I don't mean that. The Woz is good and I have her going deep in my Racquet Bracket - losing to Safina in the quarters. In real life, she is cute and jolly, but check out her official WTA picture!
WHOA!! She is definitely pushing the envelope on official WTA photos. Er, is she wearing anything? Anyway she is good at tennis.
Next observation: when Navratalova (who we love, and who I am ahead of in Racquet Bracket as of right now) calls Barrois (who played great against Dementieva, and actually I don't know who won that because something happened with the TV!) a "jock", does she mean "lesbian"?
Next, new racquets. P and I got new racquets recently so this is interesting to us. Lots of talk about Djokovic's new, cool-looking white Head racquet, officially listed as a "prototype", which is rad. Brad Gilbert in particular being critical - and I think he is right! Is it about the money? We have his old stick, and it is fresh! P kicked my fanny-pack with it just today. Also, Nalbandian and Leni both have new Yonex sticks, both forgoing that yellow one which we tried and found a little light. I haven't determined if they have the same new Yonex or different ones. But They both seem to be thriving, Leni having won 2 tournaments aleady, and David one. Yeah!
What else - sad to see F-Lo go down after the longest match in Aus-Open history. Boo!
A couple of other matches I am looking forward to, on the men's side:
- Cilic and Tipsarevic - this one is actually happening, not just in my racquet bracket - both these guys play hard, and anytime a Serb and a Croat play, it's going to be hard fought.
- Federer and Wawrinka - this is only in my interpretation so far, but could happen! I almost had Stan shocking Fed but chickened out.
- Del Potro and Nalbandian in the semis - will be sad because Del Potro will win! But as they say on TV, "a good storyline".
- Stepanek and Verdasco - again! Also sad, I'll be rooting for Verdasco who will lose.
By the way, the glare from Mary Carrillo's ultra-whitened teeth and lip gloss is hurting our eyes.
All right, enough foolishness, Early in the grand slams, the onslaught of tennis is like the salmon run. All the animals crowd around the river and pig out! As much salmon as you can eat! But slowly the salmon die as they swim upstream, until whoops - no more salmon! I know that's a little weird but that is what came to mind. P just went to Alaska with Cheesewad, maybe that's why.
Signing off - Rick Rock
Sunday, January 18, 2009
By the way, Ivanovic's toss on her serve? It is a stress related thing and I feel for her. She needs to go back to her hotel room and toss a ball over and over again. Poor girl. Not fun.
I lift weights with a trainer. A few days ago, my trainer said, are you tan? She was looking at my legs. I said, no not really, I am a Slav. She looked confused. I said, I was at the beach in November for a week, but look. I stuck out my leg and we looked at it. It is very brown, two months later. I said, I hold my tan forever because I am part Slav. I said, you know, Ghengis Khan? And she looked straight at me with this look of amazement and said, You're part Asian! No one- I repeat no one- has ever said anything like that to me- because I am quite tall, blonde, blue-eyed and so forth- but I was like, Yeah! I am part Asian! And I am. Because Ghengis Khan trampled all over the middle of Europe and created wierd hybrids like me, Safina, Myskina, and Jankovic and Ivanovic. When I, rarely, don't have a "tan" (because I hold it forever), my skin has a greenish hue to it, a darkness, waiting to get all Ghengis Khany the minute the sun says hello.
Anyway, it looks really hot in Australia. Some people handle that heat better than others. I, like my Eskimo forebears, don't. I like cold better. Like, I feel, the majority of the Russian players. I feel the Russians don't generally fare well in Australia. But we'll see. I am ready for people to prove me wrong on this.
All this means, we see some big old Viking looking Russian player, but hey, she has more in common with Na Li than we generally understand. Just thinking.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
I am watching Nalbandian beat Niemenen and it is not over but. BUT! He might win an event! And one of the commentators said it could be a good year in the Slams for him!!!!!!!! Oh, if it were true. I wasn't even drunk when I filled out my raquet bracket for the Aussie Open and then the next day I said to my friend, "I have Nalbandian beating Del Potro in the final." And then I went and looked at my picks, and I had Simon beating...wait I can't remember! Anyway, I went for the wacky wierd picks. But I have Nalby in the semis. I feel if I pick him to win the final of a Grand Slam, like I so often have done in the past, that I jinx him, and then he doesn't win, and it is all my fault for picking him. So, out of my love for him, I did not pick him. That is how I now understand it.
He looks amazing out there. Sexy black Yonex outfit. He is playing with a different Yonex raquet. I think this new raquet is going to help his game. It is heavier, I think. I played with his old Yonex raquet- demoed it--and it was too light for me. It had some nice action, but my balls were flying. I'm sure he had it tricked out, but still. I think a raquet change it great. Also, the Yonex raquets? OK, OK, raquets in general? They are to me like some people feel about their Iphones. Or vibrators. I mean, I LOVE tennis raquets. My son just got the Wilson Blade - the one that Djokovic plays with? I steal it from him from time to time. NICE. That raquet makes my breath come a little fast.
Nalby is serving well. It is 3/1 in the second. And his blond shaggy beard thing going on? Ahhhh. I am so happy to be alive.
(It's 5/3 now....nice. Nalby just smacked the most amazing second serve.) Now it is 5/5. I still love life, but I really am slightly disappointed with the score here. More soon. Oh for heaven's sake, he just framed a ball. Not one first sreve so far in the game. Now he put one in the net. Nerves? Nerves. It must be. It has to be. Good Lord, Nalby - you deserve this title!!! You do!!! Tiebreak time. WHOAH. Niemenen just hit the craziest winner. Now Nalby won a point beautifully. But the servers are not winning points, which is wierd. This is GREAT tennis. I love it when they dig their heels in and start playing like thier baby sister's virginity is on the line. The passion! The grit!
This might go to a third set.
Third set. My head hurts. I'm really tired. Great tennis. The left side of my forehead feels bad. More soon. OK, he's up a break here in the third, but he is struggling regardless. Holy crapper of craps. Two match points. Now one. HE DID IT!!!!!! Nice title for my man. I am sooo happy to be alive.
And I managed to stay up for the speech. Good Lord, how insanely polite and beyond gracious he is. That is why I love him. Oh, yes, he is hot. But come on! No one has more dignity than my man, David Nalbandian. Also, miraculously, my headache went away. Go figure.
Rowan here, finishing up the Auckland blogging coverage thing. Two weeks full of tennis, whew. I need to watch some cricket.
Juan Martin del Potro beat Sam Querrey in straight but tough sets in the Heineken Open final today, 64 64. In the end del Potro got the big break in both sets at 4 games all and then served it out, though not without some hard work. Sam Q has got skills, he really is more than a serve you know. When you can hang in rallies with Nicolas Almagro, David Ferrer and Juan Martin del Potro you know you are a tough player. In his victory speech JMDP congratulated Sam on his run and joked that he definitely did not want to play Sam in Melbourne. But the day belonged to Juan Martin, he is tougher than a two dollar steak. I bet nobody is looking forward to playing him in Melbourne either, cos once he gets on a roll he can be hard to stop. 23 wins in a row anyone?
So that’s it, the New Zealand swing is over Rover. We’ve had two really good tournaments, with perfect weather, plenty of exciting matches and in the end two great champions. Elena Dementieva and Juan Martin del Potro, doesn’t get much better than that. Their names on the trophies make the Auckland events look good. Has everybody noticed that Leni won in Sydney as well this week? She’s on a roll herself.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Rowan here, back from semifinals day in Auckland. This year’s Heineken Open has been a good one for exciting three set matches. Sam Querrey got the better of David Ferrer in an outrageous 36 63 76(4) slugfest today, seesawing up and down the whole way. Ferrer had two match points at 6 games to 5 in the third set but couldn’t make it happen, aaaah. But California Sam is a good kid. He was not only serving lots of aces but also hanging with David (Dahveeeed! as the crowd liked to shout) in long rallies which is no easy feat. He’ll face Juan Martin del Potro in the final tomorrow, who took care of Robin Soderling in straight sets. Del Potro’s groundstrokes are great. He kind of lifts the ball high in the air, and it whomps down on court in just the right place. I am not very good at describing tennis shots, but trust me it is sweet.
That cross-himself-and-kiss-the-heavens thing del Potro does after every win is very cool. The young man has style. His ATP Feel It campaign picture is neat too. You know the ones they do with the swirls that have things in them? Great explanation there, but you know what I mean right? Rafa has bulls, Roger has tennis legends? Well del Potro’s one they’ve been showing off in Auckland says Feel The Ferocity and his swirl is made of purple dragons. Purple dragons! That’s wicked.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Rowan here, after quarterfinals day at the Heineken Open. After all the three setters yesterday the contenders stepped up and won convincingly today, still good matches though, except for the one that never happened. Juan Martin del Potro smoked Victor Troicki, Robin Soderling smoked big John Isner, Sam Querrey smoked Nicolas Almagro (Sam was looking very sharp in that match, I am impressed) and David Ferrer advanced when Philipp Kohlschreiber withdrew with a shoulder injury. Total bummer there, especially because Juan Carlos Ferrero was only two points away from beating Kohlschreiber last night, and if he had we would have got Ferrer vs Ferrero today instead of Ferrer vs nobody. It’s bizarre, PK looked fine in the big long match last night, didn’t call for the trainer once, he was playing excellent tennis. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, he must have woken up very sore today. But it's disappointing. I know players want to stay as fit as possible for the Australian Open, but come on Phil, you were the defending champion here in Auckland, it’s kind of important.I am glad Ferrer is through to the semis, I like him a lot. Tough semifinals tomorrow, Del Potro vs Soderling and Querrey vs Ferrer. The New Zealand tennis swing is almost over! Stay sunny Auckland!
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Rowan here. Awesome day of tennis at the Heineken Open today. All eight second round matches went to three sets, it was tennis heaven.
Juan Martin del Potro got tested by Ernests Gulbis but came through all right in the end. With all the Gulbis hype I forgot how good del Potro is. He did win 23 matches in a row last year after all. In a rematch of last year’s final defending champion Philipp Kohlschreiber narrowly beat Juan Carlos Ferrero in a third set tiebreak under the lights. A bit tragic for all you Ferreroholics out there, but it was a heck of a match. 2008 champ Phil has 2007 champ Dave Ferrer in the quarterfinals, should be a good fight.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Rowan here, back from day two of the Heineken Open.
Ernests Gulbis' name is funny, with the s on the end. I like it. Ernests (it's like there are two of him) beat Marcel Granollers in three sets today, it was neat. Granollers has game, he beat James Blake to win that title on clay last year. But everybody knows Ernests is the real star. He goes for his shots, high risk, but high risk equals big rewards when it pays off. When it doesn’t pay off you crash and burn, but boy you do it spectacularly. Ernests has top seed Juan Martin del Potro tomorrow, I’m looking forward to that one. I know Gulbis looks like Napoleon Dynamite, but I always think of him as a young Doctor Doom. Because you know, Doctor Doom comes from Latveria, which kind of sounds like Latvia. So Ernests may be cute and happy now, but one day something terrible will happen to him and he will turn into an evil all-powerful villain. Then he’ll start winning some Grand Slams.
Monday, January 12, 2009
So we had this Tivo'ed for a day or so and I don't know, who was gonna be in Chennai with all the other events going on? We weren't that excited to watch. But then we took a peek, and this is good! Cilic is awesomely powerful - that match at the US Open (I think?) last summer against Djokovic - which Cilic lost in the end - was some of the hardest hitting I've ever seen - a Serb and a Croatian, 2 in the morning, in New York - bonkers. But this Devvarman kid - who is actually older than Cilic but he looks so young! - just absorbs it, and dishes back some of his own.
I bet it's nice and hot there in Chennai, and humid, and I bet the ball isn't moving like Cilic would like it to. I was in Chennai a few months ago so it's kind of extra fun for me. I was in Mumbai too, where I played a little pick-up tennis, and got my butt kicked... and there were giant bats everywhere! Anyway I digress...
Anyway at the least Devvarman is making Cilic work hard. Right now it's 5-5 in the 2nd and Cilic is having to fight hard to hold - oh he just did! Just super aggressive hitting!
I'm kind of hoping for Devvarman - it means a lot to the home crowd - but I have a feeling Cilic is going to pull it out.
Oh crap our Tivo/tape job just ran out at 6-5! Booooo.... can anyone tell us what happened??
Rowan here, keeping up the Auckland blogging coverage thing. The Heineken Open started today! Nice and breezy day one, the top four seeds have first round byes so it’ll be a slow burn for the first two days.
Juan Carlos Ferrero beat Japanese whiz kid Kei Nishikori when Kei retired in the first set, sore arm, a bummer. He didn’t look too distraught but I imagine he is saving himself for the Australian Open. I can tell why he’s supposed to be good though, he hit some smooth winners. But I’m glad Ferrero got through, he was runner up last year, everybody loves him. He’s the Mosquito.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
I have to fill out my picks for Australia soon. Raquet Bracket!
Is Verdasco getting emotional? Shit, he is HOT. The speeches! Also, I know I have said this, but I feel the need to say it again: Radek is much cuter in real life. I have walked by him in Canada a few times and every time I'm like,whoah, you are cute in real life. The camera is not kind to him.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Rowan here. The 2009 ASB Classic is all wrapped up, and Elena Dementieva is the champ, yesss. Elena Vesnina started really well in the final today, outplaying Leni with some sweet shots and real confidence. She took an early lead but couldn’t keep it up, and once Leni got her shotmaking shoes on Vesnina’s form left her a little bit. The first set was tight, the second not so much, 64 61, but it was still the toughest match Leni’s had all tournament. Lots of long rallies and deuce games. But in the end the world number 4 was just too good. Leni looked very happy to win, Vesnina was happy too, breakthrough week for her, the crowd was happy to have such a great champion, everybody was happy. Nathalie Dechy and Mara Santangelo won the tag team championship, beating Nuria Llagostera Vives and Arantxa Parra Santonja but only just, 46 76(3) 12-10. We got two tiebreaks in a row, it was great.
Friday, January 9, 2009
Rowan here, after semifinals day at the ASB Classic. Aravane Rezai tried her darndest against Leni today but it wasn’t enough and got whomped in straight sets, 62 62. Leni has yet to drop a set this week, and she’s looked better and better with every round. The girl is on fire. She is hopeless at the race-a-little-kid-in-a-remote-controlled-car-race mini game they have her play after every win, brought to you by our sponsors at Kia Motors, but she is playing excellent tennis. Seriously, never let Leni drive.
After another quick Dementieva smackdown it was once again up to Elena Vesnina to provide the crowd with a real contest. She didn’t disappoint us, squeaking past British number one Anne Keothavong in a three hour 67(3) 61 75 thriller to make her first tour final. It was a great fight, a real brawl. Both ladies played very well at times, hitting incredible shots and fist pumping away. Both ladies also played lousy at times, choking away leads and cursing the heavens. In the end Vesnina won the match in style with an ace on match point. It was her fourth or fifth match point, but she got there.
So now we have Elena vs Elena in an all-Russian final tomorrow. The two Elenas played doubles together this week so they must know each other pretty well. They made the quarterfinals where they lost in one of those extreme eliminator super mega tiebreak 2000 things. That reminds me, doubles final tomorrow as well, Nathalie Dechy & Mara Santangelo vs Nuria Llagostera Vives & Arantxa Parra Santonja. The new doubles rules do make for exciting matches, but if they ever replace deuce with sudden death points in singles tennis I’ll shoot myself.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Rowan here, after quarterfinals day at the ASB Classic. Leni update first, she and her thighs and her groundstrokes continued their good form and beat Shahar Peer in straight sets. There were protesters outside with signs and megaphones and things, but everybody ignored them and Peer received great support from the crowd on centre court. The protest had nothing to do with Peer at all, they just used her presence as an opportunity to push for a boycott of Israel and get some news coverage. It was pretty big news, Shahar even got her picture on the front page of today’s paper. Fortunately she said in her post-match press conference that the protest hadn’t ruined her visit and she will be happy to come back to Auckland next year, yay for her.
Foxy Aravane Rezai took care of surprise quarterfinalist Edina Gallovits from Romania who I admit I had never heard of. Rezai was unseeded last year and reached the final, and she’s unseeded this year (she must have done sweet nothing for the rest of 2008 to not be ranked higher than she is, 97 at the mo) and seems determined to do it again. Gallovits couldn’t do much against Rezai’s Fernando Gonzalez-like power game today, but she did make an impression with her lack of respect for New Zealand line judges. She had quite an attitude on her, shouting at one point after her first serve was called out for the hundredth time: “Oh my God, you people are so blind! It was on the frickin’ line!”
After all my hype Ayumi Morita got annihilated by Anne Keothavong today, getting bageled before retiring with a taped up leg. So I am a little embarrassed. She was really good yesterday, I swear. But Keothavong is pretty cool too. She has a Twitter account, that’s hip.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Rowan here, after day 3 at the ASB Classic.
Leni brought her A game today and shut Marina Erakovic down without much trouble, 62 63. Pity Marina couldn’t put up more of a fight but she had some good moments. It was a fun match, the crowd was into it. Leni has Shahar Peer tomorrow which should be good. Peer has looked strong this week so far. Actually it’s been reported in the news that there’s some sort of anti-Israel protest planned to take place at the tennis tomorrow. Some activists want a boycott against Israel, and there’s no boycott like a sports boycott, so they asked Peer to withdraw from the Classic. She ignored the request, saying politics have nothing to do with her, she’s just here to play tennis. So there’s gonna be a protest. Sounds a little scary, I wonder what will happen. Poor Shahar Peer, it’s not her fault.
Aah, too heavy for me, back to tennis blogging. Nicole Vaidisova crashed out to Elena Vesnina today which was a bit of a bummer. Nikki V just looks like she’s lacking some confidence, which is a shame as she really is quite good at playing tennis. I hope she gets back to her winning ways soon. At least she’s still young.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Rowan here, back from a sunny day two at the ASB Classic. Our favourite number one seed Elena Dementieva got off to a slooow start against Chan Yung-Jan today, going 1-5 down before waking up and winning the match 75 63. A little bit of hustle needed but she got through okay, and she had a smile on her face throughout which was nice to see. Leni even hit a few aces, I didn’t know she had it in her. Kiwi (Croatian-born Kiwi but who’s counting, she has that cute New Zealand accent) Marina Erakovic also won against Nuria Llagostera Vives in straight sets, setting up, you guessed it, Dementieva vs Erakovic tomorrow in the blockbuster match of the tournament so far. Keep in mind Marina beat the top seed at last year’s Classic, upsetting Vera Zvonareva in three sets in the quarterfinals. So she might have a repeat on her mind, Leni better be careful.
All eight seeds have won their first round matches, it’s great. There are quite a few players who look like they could win this whole thing. Caroline Wozniacki looked very good today, as did Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the seventeen year old Russian with the long name and longer earrings. She got her hair or something tangled up in one of them and had to ask a young male line judge to help her out. It was cute, the crowd cheered.
Eighth seed Carla Suarez Navarro impressed me in her match today too. I thought she might be in trouble as she’s a clay court girl at heart and had tricky Frenchwoman Nathalie Dechy in the first round. But Carla played really well and won easily, even serving up Dechy a tasty bagel. I like watching the French players because I can dust off my rusty French and try to understand what they say when they cry out. “J’arrive pas!” Dechy screamed after a bad error. I am not arriving! Or I do not arrive, take your pick.
Monday, January 5, 2009
Aravane Rezai is a total fox. Right, now that’s out of my system, let’s talk some tennis. I saw on-court coaching today! I completely forgot that it’s an official part of the tour now. I was watching the first match and thinking, boy the trainer sure is having a long conversation with Eleni Daniilidou, she must want some really complicated massage waitaminute it’s on-court coaching! Shock. I don’t really understand why they brought it in but it seems harmless enough and we’ll all be used to it soon. It didn’t help Daniilidou much anyway as she lost to Rezai in three fun sets. Rezai was the Classic runner up to Lindsay Davenport last year, she’s got game in that foxy frame.
In Elena Dementieva news Leni won her doubles match without any problems. Both her thighs and her groundstrokes look to be in fine form. Tomorrow she’s playing a girl from Taiwan who she’s never played before, should be good. Unfortunately Marina Erakovic lost her doubles match today, she and Evergreen Jill Craybas were the top seeds too, rats. But like Leni Marina will be starting her singles campaign tomorrow so hopefully she’ll have better luck then.
Lots of long three set matches today, everybody likes to see that. Nicole Vaidisova especially took the crowd on a roller coaster, upside down and round and round. There were break points everywhere, converted and unconverted, it was brutal. I’m very happy she got through all right, I would have been crying in my sleep if Nikki V had lost on the first day. In the end she beat Alla Kudryavtseva 76(3) 46 75. And not long after that Aleksandra Wozniak played a similarly stressful match against Magdalena Rybarikova, 63 67(4) 75. I paid for my whole seat but I only used the edge.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Happy 2009 everybody! Rowan here, doing the guest blogging thing for the New Zealand hardcourt swing. Can you call two tournaments in the same place a swing? Sure you can!
The ASB Classic kicks off tomorrow so I thought I would give it a little hype. Elena Dementieva is this year’s big attraction, and at world number 4 she’s the highest ranked player the Classic has ever had, ever. That's hype. Young Caroline Wozniacki is the second seed, and Nicole Vaidisova and Shahar Peer are in the mix too. And New Zealand’s own Marina Erakovic will be there to give us something to cheer about, woo.
Tomorrow Leni and her thighs will be on centre court playing doubles, making us wait at least one more day to see the Olympic champ in her singles glory. But her doubles glory is still pretty glorious. 38-year-old Kimiko Date Krumm will be starting her 2009 comeback against American Jill Craybas, who is no spring chicken herself, though she looks better conditioned than most of the girls on the tour. Seriously, the lady is cut. And Vaidisova will play Alla Kudryavtseva, that annoying girl who beat Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon and then said she hated her outfit. I thought the whole white tuxedo thing was pretty cool.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
And we also have NEW ZEALAND coming up and team member Rowan is going to BE THERE! We are so looking forward to his on site coverage!!!!
Here's my hangover cure: alka seltzer (didn't need one today, but you might), lots of glasses of half water/half gatorade, a water with a packet of Emergin C, a V8 or two (are you getting the liquid thing? It really works) -and- most importantly -five pieces of bacon and eggs, anyway you like them. Oh, and some coffee or tea, of course. Two or three hours later, take a nap and then- wake up, and Boom! You're ready to go again, like brand new!