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Goodbye, Miami 04/07/2008 - 12:56 AM

We saw one champion defend her title. Another lost in the second round. A few losing streaks ended and a few others began. Heck, we even had some blood. What else do you want out of a tennis tournament? The Sony Ericsson Open in Miami is over and the final grades have arrived.Gulls

Head of the Class
Nikolay Davydenko: From anonymous to suspicious to stupendous--it's been a wild year for the world no. 4 from Russia. Not only did he win this title, he did it after saving match points in his first match (against Ernests Gulbis in the second round). Remember, this is the same guy that Russia benched during singles play at last year's Davis Cup final, the same guy who double faulted 10 times in a two-set match during which he attempted only 24 second serves (and the match was indoors). Gives all of us hope, doesn't it?

Serena Williams: She trounced Justine Henin and defended her title despite a prolonged bout with nerves in the final. Williams looks fit and she says she's made tennis priority numero uno. Does she have a few more major titles in her? (Shameless plug department: If you want to read more about Williams, see my weekly column here.)

Bob and Mike Bryan: The bros are back. Bob and Mike have won their first title of the season and they looked great doing it. Maybe they could talk Roger Federer and Pete Sampras into a doubles exhibition?

Katarina Srebotnik and Ai Sugiyama: The duo won their second title since they began their partnership in Miami last year. Sugiyama now holds 35 doubles titles in her career.

Honor Roll
Mikhail Youzhny: Just watch him. Again.

Jelena Jankovic: She saved five match points in one match and then battled her way to the final. The Serb can't serve, but she's a fighter. She talks a good game, too (see below).

Prince: Do think Youzhny could have hit himself without spilling blood all over the court if he had used a magic "Prince Nikolay" racquet (going fast, folks!)? Maybe this Russian needs to make a phone call…

The Grandstand Court: If you ever visit this tournament, make sure you catch a match or two here (especially at night). Perfect size, always crowded, and a great atmosphere.

A's and B's
Mario Ancic: When Ancic had mono last year, he spent as many as 17 hours in bed a day--for five months. Great to see the Croat, who's one of the nicest guys on tour, and his stylish all-court game back in action. No shame in his fourth-round loss to Davydenko, either--I hear that guy is pretty good.

Andy Roddick: He announced his engagement to model Brooklyn Decker and snapped an 11-match losing streak against Roger Federer. Would have been a perfect week if he could have taken home the title, but Roddick ought to be pretty confident about his prospects for the rest of the season now that he's 3-0 against the world's top three players in 2008.

Roger Federer: He seems healthy and he played well this week, including during his match against Roddick (save a few points in the tiebreak and one terrible game at the end of the third set). He's a favorite in Estoril--a win would do him good. Davydenko is also scheduled to play.

C+
Svetlana Kuznetsova: Another deep run and an entertaining match against Serena Williams, but also another difficult loss to a top player. I once thought she would be the best of the Russians. There's still time, but probably not enough.

Lost Their Homework
Justine Henin: She's fit and she played (and served) beautifully early in the tournament and then looked scared and confused in winning only two games against Serena Williams. She'll hold the top ranking for a while longer, but she's going to have to start playing like a number one soon. The clay court season can't arrive soon enough.

Venus Williams: Wimbledon is three months away…

Caught Cutting Class
The ranking system: OK, I understand (as best as a human can understand) how the ranking system works, and I don't have a better system in mind (at least not yet). You have to wonder, though, how will casual tennis fans react when they learn that Serena Williams defended her title in Miami this week and slipped in the rankings from no. 8 to no. 9?

Racquet stringers: I've got nothing against the fine folks who wire the most important frames in the game, but if I were one of them, I'd be (mildly) worried about a decline in business after Davydenko's one-frame performance this week. Do players really need to use six racquets a match and waste all those strings? Could top players even tell the difference if you took an old frame, say from the previous day's match, and told them it was freshly strung? Just asking…

Expelled
On court coaching: I was here for a week and I saw little of it. The one time I did see it in action, the player promptly imploded. Good players rarely if ever use it. It adds little (actually, nothing) to television broadcasts. Can't give this never-ending "experiment" an F often enough. F. F. F.

Insults: During the Jankovic v. Williams final, one fan yelled out, "No snipers in Miami!"--seemingly a reference to Hillary Clinton's recent, um, memory lapse about sniper fire on a trip to Bosnia. Thanks for the news bulletin--now shut up during the tennis!

Serenaconfetti Pyrotechnics: Did any of you notice the way Jankovic jumped when the closing-ceremony fireworks went off 10 feet behind her back? The confetti and rockets make for great pictures, but what happens when the latter malfunction and shatter a $40 million shoulder? Might be time to pack those away before someone gets hurt.

Captain of the Debate Team
Jelena Jankovic: Here's Jelena on the presence of Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson in the photographers pit during the match and near the stage after the trophy ceremony: "They were tickling me on the back when they were taking photos," she said. "I don't know what they were drinking before."


52 Comments

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Posted by Eddy 04/07/2008 at 01:42 AM

Thanks for the blogs during the week Tom. I love them because they are relatively objective.

Posted by Codge 04/07/2008 at 01:44 AM

Thanks for the insightful coverage this week. I sincerely hope the Sun sends you over the pond for Wimby this year :)

And yes..the confetti does make for great photos, love Davydenko's.

Posted by malefax 04/07/2008 at 01:48 AM

That's an awesome picture of Davydenko with the gulls. That smile on his face looks so similar to the one he wore after his wins over Roddick and Nadal: sincere, a little incredulous, a little shy, almost.

This was a tournament where a lot of dark-horses won matchups that had seemed impossible before, and that's always a cool storyline. This year in tennis is lookin more and more wide open. Imagine if someone other than Nadal or Federer won one of the big clay events!

Posted by hello 04/07/2008 at 02:17 AM

hello

Posted by hello 04/07/2008 at 02:23 AM

hello everyone. I think kolya played great

Posted by marta 04/07/2008 at 03:28 AM

Morning Tom,
Many thanks for your fantastic blogs throughout the tourney, such a pleasure to read your insights. The live matchcalling was also great.
Congrats to Kolya, Serena and the bryans. They all deserved their titles.
Hope my Rafa end his nine-month title drought soon. Can't wait for the clay season to begin.
Vamos Rafa

Posted by mmhmm 04/07/2008 at 03:36 AM

lay off the pyrotechnics, it was a nice spectacle. by that logic we should remove racquets from the court because someone might cut their head open. nice article otherwise...though you could improve your link to be more specific...couldn't find your nysports blog...

Posted by Or 04/07/2008 at 04:13 AM

Bahaha - I thought the same about the fireworks when watching it go off behind Kolya and Rafa, Rafa would have lost a cheek :)

He needs those!

Kinda sad - Roger going after a first title in Estoril, while Rafa moaning in his blog that he "needs a title"...there's just something wrong with that.

Poor Andy and Kolya, the last month gave them a bitter-sweet reminder of what they would have had without the presence of one, Mr. Roger Federer.

Posted by Dim 04/07/2008 at 05:26 AM

Waaaaaa i dont have a title waaaaaaa...
Im going to Estroil to win one waaaaaaa...

Posted by Edengrave 04/07/2008 at 06:55 AM

Surely Nadal deserved a mention?

Posted by rudy3 04/07/2008 at 07:59 AM

Dang, Rafa blazes through the tourny, and finishes this hard court swing at the tour leader in wins, he entertains the press and public alike, he even blogs for this site...and nary a mention?

That ain't right. yeah he played a cruddy final, but...

Posted by vampire 04/07/2008 at 08:00 AM

congrats kolay
we'll see u at the clay court the time to pay back

Posted by 04/07/2008 at 08:06 AM

I was worried you'd mention Safin at the bottom of the grade barrel...it's actually more worrisome you didn't bother to mention him at all.

Posted by rafaelista 04/07/2008 at 08:19 AM

i'm a bit frustrated with rafa's loss but i still adore him anyway....

Posted by Mary 04/07/2008 at 09:58 AM

So happy for Andy that he finally won Federer again & congrats to him & Brooklyn on their engagement.

Posted by zolarafa 04/07/2008 at 10:01 AM

Where is RAfa?
He won Blake ( again ) and Berdych for the first time on hard courts. Reached the final of a hard court tournament with a very tough draw and he doesn't deserve a mention?

The media could not get enough of him the day before the final. Now that he has lost he does not even deserve a grade?

Posted by Kevin 04/07/2008 at 10:02 AM

Nice article, I have a quick note on racquet stringing to add. In the first day (and even hour or two) after stringing, a racquet's tension drops quickly. After this, it settles and plays pretty similarly for awhile. Nikolay needed some superstition and an X factor to get some of his belief back (it's been a tough year for him) so this whole same racquet thing helped him out mentally, and since the racquet had past the major tension fluctuation stage, it played consistently for him. While much of what is said about tension in stringing is over-blown and some is entirely untrue, it is still beneficial for the purposes of feel and accuracy to have your racquet strung around the tension you would like. The only way to ensure that tension is to have your racquet freshly strung. Also, pros who play polyester know that it loses its tension so fast that it's no longer worth competing with within a day of stringing. In short, I'm not too worried for the racquet stringers. Kolay just doesn't strike me as the trend-setting type. Although if one Russian trend has to catch on from Miami I'd rather it be re-using racquets than beating oneself bloody for missing a backhand.
PS On a totally separate note, Cmon Marat! We are all rooting for you!!

Posted by Christopher 04/07/2008 at 10:05 AM

"Lay off the pyrotechnics, it was a nice spectacle. by that logic we should remove racquets from the court because someone might cut their head open."

No, that would be an entirely different logic, rackets being a bit more integral to the game of tennis than fireworks.

Then again, the fireworks didn't cause as many open wounds this week as the racket of a certain frustrated Russian...

Posted by Robin (Feedforward) 04/07/2008 at 10:54 AM

Hear, hear to Bryans playing against Federer and Sampras.

I am betting on the latter. Hard to imagine their losing serve and I think they could pull of a break once a set against anyone.

I would certainly pay more to see that exibition than most they put on.

Posted by Sher 04/07/2008 at 12:23 PM

What about Rafa? Best showing on hard courts ever from him this year.

What about defending champ? This is an incomplete report! :)

Posted by Syd 04/07/2008 at 12:43 PM

Nice summation Tom, thanks. Interesting, Ancic in bed for 17 hours a day --as are many, many, mono patients from what I heard in College - and Roger out playing the Australian Open. wow.

Ban the fireworks! Environmentally they are hideous, not as bad as coal mining or an oil spill, but they are a pollutant and a disruption to wildlife. Not something that tennis should be promoting by example.

Posted by A 04/07/2008 at 12:53 PM

F
For FSN Southwest:
Showing one Men's semifinal at 3AM!
Cutting the Fed/Roddick quarterfinal to show fishing

Posted by Kevin 04/07/2008 at 12:54 PM

I think the Bryans could take Federer and Sampras in doubles. Despite big serving from Pistol Pete and Federer's great game, the Bryans would be too quick and wily with their doubles game for those two.

Posted by Kevin 04/07/2008 at 12:54 PM

I think the Bryans could take Federer and Sampras in doubles. Despite big serving from Pistol Pete and Federer's great game, the Bryans would be too quick and wily with their doubles game for those two.

Posted by Sher 04/07/2008 at 12:56 PM

I'll admit I'm very fond of the fireworks, but there should be safety protocol in place. It's just that those flying colorful pieces of paper are so pretty.

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