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That Cool You Left Behind 01/29/2009 - 2:26 PM

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by Pete Bodo

So, imagine for a moment that you are Elena Dementieva, ready to make your service toss at 3-6, 3-1, deuce. . .a  critical game that you know you must hold if you want to sieze the momentum, perhaps even if you just want to stay in this match. It's the semifinals of the Australian Open - one of the four tournaments that comprise the Grand Slam, one of the four "majors" that have persistently eluded you, despite the glories in which you've cloaked yourself over a nine-year career.

You are, you know, most everyone's choice as the best player not to have won a Grand Slam - at least among those players who have accumulated enough of a history for that shortcoming to be noteworthy to the point of seeming an aberration.

So there you are, galloping 'Lena. You settle into your service stance, a position that, yet again, looks a little different to many of those watching, looks less like the utterly natural, critically comfortable product of a lifelong habit than something  you've consciously chosen to emulate, and decided to make your own, much like that dance move you practiced before your bedroom mirror as a teen-ager on the night before a big dance. 

You look up. The woman you see across the net is a full-figured girl in a pleasantly non-threatening blue dress, with a broad. chartreuse cloth - half headband, half dew-rag - binding back her dark tresses. Her dark skin seems almost to glow beneath that glaze of perspiration, and you can see the definition in her arms - those muscles that, were they on a guy, would cause onlookers to whisper, My god, look at those guns!

And while that cherished Grand Slam title has always eluded you, the quiet, imposing girl at the far end has earned 9, so far, and she's determined to get her tenth (something about her hoping to get "letters" or something out of that deal). A part of you had hoped she wouldn't be there, maybe even thought she might not end up there (when you allowed yourself such fantasies), opposite you, given her unpredictable nature and the way she's played so far in this tournament. She's ridden the ragged edge of risky tennis, at times seemingly indifferent tennis bordering on sulky, defensive, intransigent tennis. Yet once again, somehow, there she is, the WTA Grim Reaper, albeit carrying a Wilson racket instead of a gnarly staff, and wearing a chartreuse bandeau instead of a hood.

Why can't it be someone other than Serena Williams over there?

That ball suddenly feels like a lead shot in your hand and, since you have the soul of a track athlete, you almost wish you could just tuck the optic yellow ball under your chin, spin around a few times, and ooommph it over the net, into the service box. This is tennis, though, and you've got quite a checklist to go through as you get ready to toss the ball - keep the head up, arch the back, keep the wrist loose, etc. etc. It's complicated, all right, but let's be honest about this: the biggest complication of all is that person over - that Serena. . .

And as the checklist shrivels up in the heat and bursts into flames under the pressure, you hit a double fault (advantage, Miss Williams!) and then another (game, Miss Williams!), and just like that you've given up the only lead you've had, or are destined to have. The pressure is off. You can run again, although a part of you knows that running alone won't get the job done. You can smack two-handed backhands that pull you around, square-up to the net, and elicit ooooohs of admiration from the crowd, but that won't do it, either. It's demonstration time: you can still show everyone what you've got, the good stuff that has earned you a perfect record (thus far) for 2009, but when it comes to earning that first major, the chance is gone - snatched like a gaudy straw hat from your head by a fierce, hot wind.

It's hard not to feel for 'Lena, but then it's legitimate to ask whether someone with such a glaring flaw really ought to win a Grand Slam event. Given Dementieva's results since last summer, we had reason to think that she'd hurdled that final, hitherto omnipresent obstacle to ultimate success - the conquest of her nerves, the state of which has always been telegraphed to us by her service proficiency. The message she tapped out yesterday told us that we were wrong. It just took a player of Williamses stature to tease out the message.

After the match, Serena was asked what she "did better" today than in her previous and sometimes uninspired performances. She replied: "Well, I definitely served better.  It's so important to serve well against her.  She's a really good returner.  I moved better and I was definitely more consistent and I kept my cool.  . ."

While all of that is true, Serena's greatest virtue may have been the last quality she cited. She kept her cool. It was apparent from the start that Dementieva was jacked-up and jumpy, probably convinced that she had to do too much, too quickly, in order to beat Serena. It was a predictable dynamic, and one that Serena routinely relies on in her matches. To a greater extent than any woman player in recent memory, Serena has imposed herself on the game. Great players of the past - Martina Navratilova immediately comes to mind - have been no less intimidating to play, but it's always been the direct result of their form and recent results. The girls knew they would get waxed, because Martina has waxed the last 123 player's she's met - why should today be any different?

But it's different with Serena. Her opponents quake in their tennis boots simply because of who she is,  and the extent to which she's shown that each day is a new day. That's usually good news for the aspiring upset-maker, but Serena has turned the cliche upside down: On any day, there a good chance that Serena will just get a notion to go out and. . . destroy you. The WTA exists in a state of this perpetual fear.

On each new day you face a sum total of experience, talent, determination, and skill that is as absolute as it is unpredictable, and unrelated to the previous day. This can be, as they say, stress-inducing. Sit back to sniff the wind and try to get a read on how she's playing that day and you may quickly find yourself running for cover. Attack too eagerly and you get shot to rags. I wonder how many women players have been taught, or told: Now, it's really important to get a good start against Serena. Keep her off balance. She hasn't been playing that great, so if you can get a good jump you can take control of the match. . .

Hahahahah!

My advice to a player going out to meet Serena would be: Go try to find a rock or something to hide under for a little while, then stick your head up slowly to take a look.

Seriously, though, I honestly think discretion is the better part of valor when you face Serena, although I completely understand the temptation to go out and swing from the heels - at least nobody is going to accuse you of hiding under a rock.

The interesting - and novel - element here is that any opponent of Serena's, in any match, knows that she is capable of . . . anything. And how do you adequately prepare for anything? The terms of engagement immediately put you in a defensive position, a place no player with even a soupcon of pride likes to be, and to which the almost reflexive response is aggression - a determination to take the game to Serena.  The temptation when you face Serena must be to run right out of your sneakers, crank up the dial to the proverbial no. 11, take the game to her - and that's exactly how Serena lures her victims to their doom.

That cool you left behind? Guess who's got it?

And before you really figure out what's happened, you're up at the net for the handshake. Serena thanks you for the match, and if she wanted to be honest about it, she'd add: And here's your hat, m'am. . .


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Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" *Serena the ultimate assassin of the WTA Tour copyright Matt Z* 01/29/2009 at 02:31 PM

"You look up. The woman you see across the net is a full-figured girl in a pleasantly non-threatening blue dress, with a broad. chartreuse cloth - half headband, half do-rag - binding back her dark tresses. Her dark skin seems almost to glow beneath that glaze of perspiration, and you can see the definition in her arms - those muscles that, were they on a guy, would cause onlookers to whisper, My god, look at those guns!"

Pete - I'm loving this piece. I am yet to finish but I just love the part above ;-)

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" *Serena the ultimate assassin of the WTA Tour copyright Matt Z* 01/29/2009 at 02:35 PM

"On each new day you face a sum total of experience, talent, determination, and skill that is as absolute as it is unpredictable, and unrelated to the previous day. This can be, as they say, stress-inducing. "

Yes it is not only stress-inducing but frazzle, sigh, and BP rise inducing as well!

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" *Serena the ultimate assassin of the WTA Tour copyright Matt Z* 01/29/2009 at 02:42 PM

Pete - Thank you for this piece.

Even though Serena is my favorite, I like Elena D and like I had mentioned as she started the season that her serve will still be the problem. In many of the matches she played she was far ahead for the most part and so no need to be under pressure serving. In a few when she was to serve out a set she dropped serve due to the DF (the match against Cibulkova comes to mind). I always thought if she comes in pressure situations we may yet see the serve issues again and tat was exactly what happened yesterday because in other departments she more or less matched Serena well. This is the one thing I commend Serena for too besides her maintaining a controlled aggression (what she refers to as keeping cool) and something she also demonstrated at the USO 08 final against JJ whose serve also failed at a similar critical moment when serving for the second set at 5-3, Serena's serve seem to show up when it matters most of the time. It's another factor that I think distinguishes her from Venus at times.

Posted by sam 01/29/2009 at 02:46 PM

Great description. John Lloyd said a similar thing about Borg; in some matches - e.g. early rounds at Wimbledon, after Borg had just won the French - players out in front would look over the net, see whom they're about to beat, and crumble. Even top players like Amritraj. Good to have that on your side.

Safina has beaten most of the top players over the past 12 months, but what do you think of her chances at this Slam final, esp considering she lost to Ivanovic at the French?

Posted by 01/29/2009 at 02:53 PM

"those muscles that, were they on a guy, would cause onlookers to whisper, My god, look at those guns!"

on a guy definetely, but on a lady I don't know :-)

Posted by federgurl 01/29/2009 at 02:54 PM

I agree 100 per cent that a player with that kind of flaw is not entitled to take a Slam.
As I watched Dementieva get beaten by a masterful and on-form Serena, I thought of all the rooting for her that commentators and writers had been doing of late, about her status as best active player to never have won a Grand Slam, and it occurred to me that if she doesn't pull it together and make it happen, there's no point crying over it or lamenting that she's *too good a player* to not take a major. The only person I think can legitimately be said to have been supremely unlucky in her bid to win all the majors she should have won is my all-time fave Monica Seles. Federer playing during your era keeping you from winning a second Slam? Boo hoo. Those big bad Williams sisters, Henins, Sharapovas always mentally tougher at the big ones, taking it out of your hands? Cry me a river. Try getting STABBED on-court for REAL circumstances beyond your control. Monica Seles should have won 10, 15 Grand Slams before calling it quits. The other contenders for "unlucky" with regard to taking Slams need to man up, to use Serena's words at a recent interview.

Let me also add that I am so happy to see Roger and Serena, again, both clad in the male and female matching Nike outfits, charging to the finals of another Grand Slam as they did in New York (i don't know if their outfits matched at Wimbledon, bear with me as i get a bit flaky here lol), sometimes not quite on form, being second-guessed by many, due to dropping sets here and there, and at times looking perilously close to defeat, to make it past early rounds, but ALWAYS summoning the champion's unique resolve when it mattered most. I am greatly enjoying the parallel nature of their recent results (finals at Wimbledon, wins at US Open, doubles wins at the Olympics, and what could well be wins at the AO, after dominant wins against dangerous opponents in Roddick and Dementieva).

Posted by Sabby 01/29/2009 at 02:58 PM

Do rag? This article is straight garbage.

Posted by Jimbo 01/29/2009 at 03:07 PM

Hey Pete,
The quality that makes Rafa such a great tennis player and compelling figure to me is that he DOESN'T blink! He faces and manages his fears, even when he's choking a little, like at Wimbledon. It is just sad to see players like Elena and Kuzy just completely collapse. I mean,three double faults in a couple of games? That is hard to reconcile with a club player. I felt the same way with Thomas Berdych with his network against Fed in that crucial 7th game......Yikes!!!!
I think Elena should take a hike with Marat up into the Himalyas and meditate, or at the very least, go buy The Inner Game Of Tennis. It is just sad to see a player of her ability just crumble like that.
Serena definitely ponied up, but I felt Elena "lost" the match.
Jim

Posted by Master Ace 01/29/2009 at 03:08 PM

Federgurl,
Roger will have the dangerous Rafael(if he beats Fernando Verdasco on Day 12) while Serena will face Dinara, who can match her power. Elena serve was moderately improved but her past came back to haunt her in crucial situations which she paid for dearly.

Posted by Veruca Salt 01/29/2009 at 03:18 PM

Great post Pete. I'm simply blown away.

Posted by Nicky Darling 01/29/2009 at 03:22 PM


[comment deleted] You don't come here to insult people, least of all the readers of this blog. PB

Posted by Ranting Tennis Fan 01/29/2009 at 03:31 PM

Why aren't the commentators going on about the lack of depth in women's tennis? Serena's "slimmed down"?! It embarressing! She waddles in from the fat farm and is in the final! The WTA should really be concerned. Half of the other "contenders" are injured. And they only play best-of-three and get the same money for it. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE Safina win!! And they should play best-of-5 to deserve the same money. You don't see women running a shorter marathon, or only 90 meter races... Doesn't make sense.

Posted by sally 01/29/2009 at 03:40 PM

yeah it was a crime what happened to monica. too bad no one ever paid the price except for her.

Posted by federgurl 01/29/2009 at 03:44 PM

Ranting Tennis Fan:

Body types are different. Serena's black and full-figured, and can run, defend her way back into points, and rally with the best of them. That's hardly grounds to send her to the fat farm.

Master Ace,

I by no means think it's a foregone conclusion that either Roger or Serena will win their fourth Oz Open (yay! another parallel), but they are both as hungry as ever in their careers, and I think they have a slight edge, though both (particularly Roger) are facing fearless opponents in either Rafa or Fernando and in Safina, whose mental game has improved tremendously. For the record, I want Roger to win the men's but will take Safina if Serena doesn't win, as I really enjoy seeing Dinara whale the ball - reminiscent of her bro, the height and the heft of her shots are a pleasure to watch, as is her newfound composure.

Posted by Ivo 01/29/2009 at 03:45 PM

This is a wonderful article...I think it must capture what Elena was going through during that very game. Maybe she would not admit it herself but this all sounds to plausible to not to be true.
And as many of you noted, Rafael Nadal imposes the same feeling on other players...something, which seems to me, not even Federer manages to do. It is something about their personality, not just tennis. I think Serena and Rafa come off as more threatening and determined than most players. I will be criticized for saying this, but there is something animal like about both Rafa and Serena. Their facial expression when they play....they are focused o one thing only: to kill..slowly or quickly, the instinct is there and never wavers.
Federer beats other with his tennis skills, but does not know how to intimidate the way Serena or Rafa does. In fact I think that Federer is intimidated by Rafael. It is very rare to see the Spaniard with his head hanging down....almost never (the last time I remember Rafa being mentally defeated was in Wimbledon 2007 when he didn't make the breaks in the 5th set, 3rd and 5th game). I think Federer is used to crack his opponents mentally in the way his is so perfect with his shots and he thrives on that....that applies to Roddick, Djokovic, Berdych...whoever you can think of. But he is not able to do it with Rafa. Even if he wins the whole match, he does not get the sense from Rafa that he broke his faith in being able to defeat him. And that is hard..if you sense, that your opponent just does not go away and the only way to win is to make perfect shots. As I said, Rafa and Serena are almost like animals..once in a fight, they do not show any fear even if their opponent might be potentially stronger.

And I do feel sorry for Elena....cause as a tennis player she has a beautiful game. I enjoy watching it much more than Serena!s. But of course, if tennis was a beauty contest, then players such as R. Gasquet or F. Pioline (all French:)) would have won numerous grand slams. Instead, you have those such as Nadal, Borg, Lendl, Courier....no stylists, but real bulldogs.

Posted by Syd 01/29/2009 at 03:48 PM

Ah, terrificly entertaining post, Pete;

That Serena; at this point ya just gotta love her. But, like Roger, many would be happy to see someone else standing in the winners circle this time round—and in the case of Serena, I'm no exception. I would love to see Dinara, she's also got the guns, storm past Serena—but sadly, not not the "cool."

Posted by sblily (Gil Reyes KAD) 01/29/2009 at 03:59 PM

Ivo - Well said. Agree with you that Rafa does the same thing to his opponents, though Serena is far meaner!

I love this: "On any day, there's a good chance that Serena will just get a notion to go out and. . . destroy you. The WTA exists in a state of this perpetual fear."

Posted by Don 01/29/2009 at 04:03 PM

I think that this could be an excellent piece of advice for Federer against Nadal on clay. He wouldn't win by non-stop attack because he (or any human being) couldn't sustain it all the way to the fifth set. How about sometimes playing way back behind the baseline as Murray did in the the US Open and other times advancing to the net, etc? Back and forth at the right time. This sounds an almost impossibility, but I guess this is the only option left for Fed against Nadal on clay. Maybe Fed might try to learn to give much more spin to the ball for clay court and persevere, just as Nadal has practiced to hit flat balls for hard court.

Posted by Lleytsie 01/29/2009 at 04:10 PM

lovely, true true

sometimes i feel not playing too well is the only way to beat Rodge -

imagine the blokes hes lost to - canas, volandari, all boring players

cheers

Posted by Thurston P. Howell III 01/29/2009 at 04:11 PM

I told you Pete was Tom Wolfe with a daily web log.

That was a Kandy-Colored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby.

Posted by Bobby 01/29/2009 at 04:11 PM

Nice piece, Pete... and I love that you cover women's tennis regularly. This I think is the key: "The interesting - and novel - element here is that any opponent of Serena's, in any match, knows that she is capable of... anything. And how do you adequately prepare for anything?" Yesterday confirmed that Serena's genius revolves around serving: When the pressure's on and she's serving, she can serve an ace. When the pressure's on and she's returning, her potential returns are so scary she can make opponents double-fault (it's not just poor Elena D. either).

Posted by Arcilla Tacones/ Andrea 01/29/2009 at 04:12 PM

Nicky Darling & Sabby: This is a blog.

Posted by tommy 01/29/2009 at 04:14 PM

Part of the story this AO is the roof and the scheduling. They really stuck it to Djokovic. Stuck it to Kuznetsova, who has never won an indoor tournament, and was up a set outdoors.

What happens if the roof at Wimbledon makes the surface play exceptionally fast? Can they decide to screw over Nadal, make him play on the fastest surface?

Posted by Erik 01/29/2009 at 04:25 PM

One of the best posts you've ever written, Pete. I sometimes moan that the bloggers are so busy fawning over Federer and Nadal that they forget all about the women, but you make up for lack of quantity with an abundance of quality. Great post.

Posted by sblily (Gil Reyes KAD) 01/29/2009 at 04:29 PM

. . .Stuck it to Kuznetsova, who has never won an indoor tournament, and was up a set outdoors.
~~~~~
This makes it sound as if it was a complete blowout once the roof was closed. Sveta served for the match and blew it. Her problem was between her ears, not above her head.

Posted by mick1303 01/29/2009 at 04:41 PM

Tommy, I've already mentioned earlier, that their so-called heat rule looks purposely complicated to allow AO organizers to use roof basically at their discretion. And to me it looks that they achieved what they wanted - awoided all-russian not marketable final.
For the men Slam format is meaningful, because they have 5-setters and day-off to rest. For the ladies this day-off makes it the competition where stamina and fitness are less valuable. It was not enough to help Serena though, because she was struggling. Then the roof came.
You can salivate over Serena's mental toughness all you want. To me she is mentally tough because the value of the next Slam win for her is less significant. She is not chasing any records, unlike Federer. 9 or 10 - does it really matter for her?

Posted by mr. novak 01/29/2009 at 04:46 PM

I think these two weeks have proven something that we sometimes overlook, which is the ridiculously amazing consistency of roger and rafa. i believe at last year's wimbledon my uncle said, "it just goes to show how much distance there is between these two guys and the rest of the guys on tour. consistency is probably the most important things about the game. as a novak fan, it was really fun watching him challenge federer last year, but that was just one year. As much as I enjoy the change of the guard, i think we should also appreciate nadal and federer for how consistent they have been in their results at slams. murray and novak are only 21, but this is probably what they lack most.

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" *Serena the ultimate assassin of the WTA Tour copyright Matt Z* 01/29/2009 at 04:48 PM

mick1303 - welcome back! I know you do not like Serena and that is ok. But really Serena was not getting a day off per se as she had been playing doubles on the alternate days and yes you are right she is not chasing any records which is fine as Steffi's (and Margaret Court's) record can almost not be met but I would think it still matters for her.

Posted by tommy 01/29/2009 at 04:49 PM

I saw some of Kuznetsova's comments after the match. They stopped it for about a half hour and played indoors with A/C. Serena would have had to win 2 sets in 100 degree temperatures if they let both semis play out under the same conditions. Doesn't guarantee a Kuznetsova win, or Dementieva beating a worn out winner the next day.
But it was pretty unusual, 2 sets outside, then a new match, one set outside, then they close the roof.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Rafa for AO 2009!!! 01/29/2009 at 05:16 PM

Terrific piece, Pete, I loved this bit as well:

"You look up. The woman you see across the net is a full-figured girl in a pleasantly non-threatening blue dress, with a broad. chartreuse cloth - half headband, half do-rag - binding back her dark tresses. Her dark skin seems almost to glow beneath that glaze of perspiration, and you can see the definition in her arms - those muscles that, were they on a guy, would cause onlookers to whisper, My god, look at those guns!"

I have such a crush on Serena. (Venus too, but for different reasons.)

Posted by mick1303 01/29/2009 at 05:18 PM

Avid, thank you. I'm returned back to Ukraine and just installed internet at home after couple of weeks.

It does matter for Serena, of course, just a different degree of "matter", than for someone who didn't win a single GS.

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" *Serena the ultimate assassin of the WTA Tour Matt Z (2009)* 01/29/2009 at 05:26 PM

mick1303 - so you'll be online more often. I had been wondering where you disappeared too. I do get your point on the degree of "matter" for someone without a GS and someone with 9.

Posted by joe 01/29/2009 at 05:35 PM

I like the idea of women playing a best-of-5 final. Adds intrigue. As it stands, saturday will likely be a 2 set beatdown by Serena.

I agree with the comment about Seles being the one who truly was robbed. But give her credit for coming back and playing tough after such a trauma.

And Pete, thanks for these posts. I eat em up.

Posted by gillyrosh 01/29/2009 at 05:39 PM

The match against Kuznetsova was almost worse. Serena played fairly blah tennis for the first two sets. But when it came time for Svetlana to serve out the match, you could see her start to think "OMG, it's Serena on the other side of the net. I can't beat her!" Annnnnnd....40 minutes later, Kuznetsova was on her way out of the tournament.

This dynamic of Serena's matches was fascinating the first 50 or so times I saw it. Now? Not so much.

Posted by Marian aka Mr. Sparkles 01/29/2009 at 05:59 PM

I agree with Joe at 5:35 and with Kuznetsova, if they closed their roof after one set, that would give the player who's winded time to rest (Serena).

Go Dinara!!! :)
And vamos Rafaelito!!!

Posted by Andrea 01/29/2009 at 06:00 PM

you could write a similar article and put 'svetlana kusnetzova' in there.

she had the match on her raquet and crumbled.

dissapointing.

Posted by elenas 01/29/2009 at 06:10 PM

Elena is so sweet, When they showed her in slowmo as Serena fell down the reaction on her face as she lifted her hand to say sorry.

Posted by Erin 01/29/2009 at 06:20 PM

Yet another love letter about Serena,it's nice and all but the truth is,no matter who was across the net from Elena D in a slam semifinal or final, at a critical point like that, a double fault almost seemed destined, certainly predictable. That has been the story of Elena's grand slam performances and even other tournament performances, and Serena was not always her opponent across the net when she came unglued on serve in the big moment.

Posted by Andrew 01/29/2009 at 06:23 PM

Because I'm coming down with a cold and my creativity index is approaching zero, I'm going to repeat a couple of things I've already posted earlier (in one case, more than once) about Serena Williams, because I think they reinforce some of the things Pete says above:

--I'm effectively dead in the WTA SP: I picked the New And Improved Serving Machine That Is Elena Dementieva to Win The Whole Thing, so I picked Serena Williams in the QF, and Safina in the SF.

Well, the New And Improved Serving Machine That Is Elena Dementieva began thinking, I guess. And if there's one shot that you absolutely, positively, 100% must NOT think about, it's the serve. And Pete's right - playing Serena seems to make her opponents think.

For the lady herself, Pete is right when he says "The temptation when you face Serena must be to run right out of your sneakers, crank up the dial to the proverbial no. 11, take the game to her - and that's exactly how Serena lures her victims to their doom."

I put it another way earlier this week:

--I suspect that Serena Williams could be faced with a cartoon like arsenal of guns, rifles, tanks, battleships and B-52s. And she'd just cock an eyebrow and say "what else have you got? You're going to need it."

It's fascinating, and at some stage I'd like Pete to noodle on this thought. A while back, Chris Evert wrote a notorious open letter to Serena, urging her to rededicate herself to tennis to fulfil her potential as one of the great champions of the sport.

Serena is knocking on the door of double figures majors - a hugely significant achievement, but some distance behind Evert, Navratilova, Graf and Court. What might Serena have been if she had been single minded about tennis? Would she have been an all-conquering force? Or might she have been a more consistent player and athlete, but a lesser competitor?

Posted by Samantha Elin 01/29/2009 at 06:24 PM

Great blog Pete, it read likes one of your great articles from Tennis magazine except shorter. This match had very little to do with the roof being close and saving Serena. Serena saved Serena by elevating her game when she was down. Serena and Venus are the only ones preventing a complete domination of the Russians. Serena, 6-3 against Sharapova, hadn't beaten her in 4 years, Serena 5-3 against Demmy, Serena 5-1 against Bepa and Safina. Great record against Kuzzy to. So much for the Russian domination. Go Serena, take Safina out! I love the fact that the Americans are winning a majority of the slams in the WTA.

Posted by Samantha Elin 01/29/2009 at 06:27 PM

Why does Serena beat them all? Simple, she's the better player. A roof has nothing to do with it. She has made it to the final of the last three slams. With the exception of the FO, she should be the favorite.

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" *Serena the ultimate assassin of the WTA Tour Matt Z (2009)* 01/29/2009 at 06:35 PM

"Serena is knocking on the door of double figures majors - a hugely significant achievement, but some distance behind Evert, Navratilova, Graf and Court. What might Serena have been if she had been single minded about tennis? Would she have been an all-conquering force? Or might she have been a more consistent player and athlete, but a lesser competitor?"

Andrew - Very good questions!

Posted by Samantha Elin 01/29/2009 at 06:36 PM

As for Elena, I feel very sorry for her and I would like to see her win a slam. To me her best chance is the FO where she won't have to worry about Serena, Venus and Sharapova whose games aren't suited for the clay.

Posted by Neela 01/29/2009 at 06:38 PM

"The woman you see across the net is a full-figured girl in a pleasantly non-threatening blue dress, with a broad. chartreuse cloth - half headband, half dew-rag - binding back her dark tresses. Her dark skin seems almost to glow beneath that glaze of perspiration, and you can see the definition in her arms - those muscles that, were they on a guy, would cause onlookers to whisper, My god, look at those guns!"

LOL, Serena is quite intimidating. Her dew-rag is unattractive, and she calls herself a fashionista.

Posted by lisa taylor 01/29/2009 at 06:39 PM

i think the williams sister are the best player and they do not get spotlight for where tennis is today. you can check the rating and see the numbers are always up when either sister is planing and my god when it is a all williams affair triple the rates. And that want be number 1 that has never win a final needs to some where and apply more make-up to that beat-up face of her and wacth what a real number 1 player in the world do. it's called win 10 grand slams and win the doubles with my sister no one can top that not even in their dreams

Posted by Nathan 01/29/2009 at 06:45 PM

Well we all need Serena needs her dew-rag, she's gotta keep her street cred.

Posted by Nathan 01/29/2009 at 06:45 PM

**knows not need in my previous post.

Posted by Kim 01/29/2009 at 06:47 PM

"Do rag? This article is straight garbage."

just curious why your so offended sabby, what pete said wasen't offensive, it was funny. get a sense of humor.

Posted by Paige 01/29/2009 at 06:48 PM

"I love the fact that the Americans are winning a majority of the slams in the WTA."

Well thats not true at all lol. Not anymore atleast.

Posted by Sharon 01/29/2009 at 06:51 PM

Well Serena always does well in the slams, imagine her ranking if she was this consistent during the regular season. Imagine how greater she would be if she totally focused on tennis full time. I know everyone needs hobbies and needs a break, but Serena should take advantage of her talent. After all your only an pro athlete for so long. I'll be rooting for Serena tomorrow, it's wonderful to see her playing so well, especally when the odds are against her.

Posted by Samantha Elin 01/29/2009 at 06:55 PM

Paige, for the last two years, Venus and Serena have won 5O% of the slams, please give me another country that has won more? In 2OO8, the Russians won 25%, Sharapova's AO, Serbians 25%, Ivanovic's FO, Venus, Wimbledon, Serena, USO, 5O%. In 2OO7, Serena AO, Venus, Wimbledon. Again 5O% of the slams. Americans winning majority. Yes!

Posted by Bash 01/29/2009 at 07:02 PM

Serena got lucky twice by playing with the roof closed. Oh well.

Posted by Tim (Starbucks Happy Pot Stirrer) 01/29/2009 at 07:10 PM

im wondering when people will start a discssion that this has to be the worst era for women's tennis in ages! my God, beyond The Williams juggernaut, you have nothing but headcases who can barely get a serve in the box, who have no tactical sense and nerves of jelly ...

where are the Henins, Hingis, Capriatis, Grafs, Davenports, etc., who acutally could play under pressure and be serious threats at Slams? I mean, Kutzie, Dementieva, even Safina, Ivanovic, they are a feeble bunch when compared to the greats of the past, and Jankovic has a ways to go clearly...can anyone really argue this point?

I have never seen women's tennis in such sorry shape, Serena could clean up big time at this rate, there is no one there who can play with her, she can win even when playing mediocre...

and people accused Federer of winning in a weak era? oh dear...

Posted by Tim (Starbucks Happy Pot Stirrer) 01/29/2009 at 07:13 PM

just imagine back a few years when Capriati, both Williams, Hingis, Davenport, Clijsters, and Henin were potential quarterfinalists, along with all the 'ovas from Eastern Europe mixed in ...

what has happened to all the talent?

Posted by joe 01/29/2009 at 07:13 PM

Chris Fowler compared Dementieva to herpes.. lol
Anyway... whenever someone beats Serena 3/4 times she always comes back strong

Posted by Samantha Elin 01/29/2009 at 07:17 PM

Tim, LOL, you have nothing but headcases, nerves of jelly. I love that line. There was only l player in recent histoy who could stop Serena and Venus and we all know who she was. Tim mentioned her.

Posted by Ruth 01/29/2009 at 07:24 PM

"...it's legitimate to ask whether someone with such a glaring flaw really ought to win a Grand Slam event."

I'm afraid that I must agree with that point 100%.

Long before last year, when Dementieva became persona non grata with me for repeating (in perfect English) her 2001 charge that the outcomes of Venus and Serena's matches were predetermined by their family, I would simply hope that she wouldn't make it to the semis of any tournaments (mainly the Slams) that were televised.

Why? Because those were the times when the casual fans among my relatives and friends would be most likely to watch tennis matches with me. And every time that Elena appeared with her awful serving, I'd have to listen to stuff about how on earth someone who serves that way could be making the semis of a professional tennis match or be ranked so high in the WTA. As a lover and supporter of women's tennis, I always found her performances embarrassing.

That is why, even though I don't care for her, I was happy when it seemed this year that she'd conquered her serving demons. Alas, the demons are still present, so I have to be prepared to hear the same old disparaging comments (about her and women's tennis) when I'm watching her matches at more likely (than the AO) hours when others choose to join me -- during the FO, Wimbledon, and the USO. Ah, well.

Posted by 01/29/2009 at 07:32 PM

Not a fan of the do-rag comment cause its racist and its NOTHING like a do-rag.

Posted by Ruth 01/29/2009 at 07:40 PM

"Her (Kuznetsova's) problem was between her ears, not above her head."

Nicely and accurately put, sblily. I keep shaking my head over the comments by people who don't seem to realize that Kuzy won 5 of the first 8 games played AFTER the roof was closed -- and served for the match at 5-4. Then -- suddenly -- the closed roof became a problem for her????? Please.

I love Kuzy, and I wish that people wouls stop with ridiculous excuses for her loss.

Posted by Samantha Elin 01/29/2009 at 07:45 PM

I don't know what a do rag is so I'm going to comment on Demmy serve. She now has added two additional serves that she didn't have before, the one down the T and the one out wide on the add side. So yes she has improved her serve, but last night her DFs returned. To be fair, recently she hasn't made that many and her serve has greatly improved. Tim, I enjoy the WTA and I don't think the ATP is any better, each has only three players who can currently win slams, and each has its next level like Murray and Jankovic who are trying to prove they can win a slam. Go Caroline, Scandinavia's#1!

Posted by Ruth 01/29/2009 at 07:50 PM

Andrew: I wouldn't mind seeing Pete write on the topic you mentioned, but let me say this: both Venus and Serena have often said that, if they focussed on their tennis exclusively, they would have become bored out of their skulls and would have probably stopped playing after a few years.

Apparently, Richard Williams was aware of this longstanding fact about his daughters, and that was a big part of the reason why he refused to drag them around the country on the juniors scene when they were kids.

Posted by DMan 01/29/2009 at 07:50 PM

Agree that biggest problem w/Kutzy is between the ears.

Still think they should have made a decision prior to the match to play outdoors to completion or start the match indoors.
Still think if they completed the match outdoors even Kutzy wouldn't choke it away (well, maybe.....)

Posted by Ruth 01/29/2009 at 07:57 PM

Sammie: do rag = hair(do) rag = piece of cloth used to hold down your hair after having it "done" :)

Posted by Cosi 01/29/2009 at 07:59 PM

Posted by Tim (Starbucks Happy Pot Stirrer) 01/29/2009 @ 7:10 PM

im wondering when people will start a discssion that this has to be the worst era for women's tennis in ages! my God, beyond The Williams juggernaut, you have nothing but headcases who can barely get a serve in the box, who have no tactical sense and nerves of jelly ...

where are the Henins, Hingis, Capriatis, Grafs, Davenports, etc., who acutally could play under pressure and be serious threats at Slams? I mean, Kutzie, Dementieva, even Safina, Ivanovic, they are a feeble bunch when compared to the greats of the past, and Jankovic has a ways to go clearly...can anyone really argue this point?

I have never seen women's tennis in such sorry shape, Serena could clean up big time at this rate, there is no one there who can play with her, she can win even when playing mediocre...

and people accused Federer of winning in a weak era? oh dear..."

Tim, you are so right. Even with Justine and Maria in the mix, a couple of yeras ago, there was never a prolonged time when all the best and toughest players,Henin, Sharapova, Williams x 2, Davenport, Capriati, etc were all playing healthy or even playing at the same time. As good as Serena is, it's true that she's not always faced the top competition or players that have top competitive abilities, regardless of talent, in the last few years when taking home the trophy. Her draw at the AO this year was pitifully weak up until the fourth round, then she got a retirement. Then she got two veteran headcases in a row, and now an unproven Russian who also has the headcase tendencies.. and they question Federer's competition?

Posted by DMan 01/29/2009 at 07:59 PM

Elena is @ 30 years too late. Had she been playing in the 70s, she would have won a Slam or two. Plus she'd be perfect in a Virginia Slims ad, holding a cigarette, with the tagline, "You've come a long way baby!" And in her career, she has come a long way! When she started on tour, she had her perfectly predictable serving pattern, and endless baseline retrieving. She was the epitome of mediocrity at the elite level of the women's game. In the last few years she improved her serve, and her nerve. But while she may have come a long way baby, it shows you how far she (and women's tennis) still needs to go. (Fourth time in the last year she was deep in a major and basically choked her opportunity to win one. OK maybe she really had no chance at Wimbledon, and she did win the Russian national championships, I mean Olympics.)

I thought for a set and half Serena played pretty average tennis. In fact rather sloppy (she had way more errors than winners). And Elena was jumpy and reluctant to do much of anything. Serena picked it up when behind 3-0, and again in the last 2 games. But if that's the best she is gonna play to win this event, and that she'll get equal prize money to the guys, then something is rotten in Australia, and I'm not talking about the miserable heat.

I know Obama just signed a bill about equal pay for equal work. But it got me to thinking about equal pay at the majors. It just so isn't equal pay for equal work. Women's tennis is an embarrassment right now. And it is so not equal to the men's game.

Women's tennis, like Elena's game. You've come a long way baby. But you have so much further to go!

Posted by vuvu 01/29/2009 at 08:04 PM

Hey Samantha, and hi to all.

I know what Pete was aiming for, as some people call bandanas do-rags. But as I understand it, a do rag covers the whole head to help keep hair in place.

Official definition: A do-rag, also spelled doo-rag, du-rag, durag is a piece of cloth used to cover the head. A popular folk etymology claims that the term derives from drive-on rag, a term first used by U.S. soldiers during the Vietnam War to refer to a muslin bandage often used as a head covering. According to the Oxford English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster, however, the term derives from do as in hairdo: a do-rag is often worn to protect a processed hairstyle during sleep.

I can also understand why headless poster got a bit sensitive cos the do rag is very much associated with slavery and folk of African descent and later with South America (bandanas) due to the African slaves taken there.

As a regular do rag wearer (though I just call it a headscarf) its obvious to me that Pete meant no harm whatsoever.

Posted by Tim (Starbucks Happy Pot Stirrer) 01/29/2009 at 08:08 PM

hey Smanatha, i posted a quote from Dokic on Henin in another post, hope u saw it, Justine basically inspired her to keep going, thought youd enjoy seeing that :)

Posted by Tim (Starbucks Happy Pot Stirrer) 01/29/2009 at 08:12 PM

honestly Martina Nav must cringe every single time she sees Dementieva, Safina, Dokic, Ivanovic, etc. step to the line to serve... every single one has the yips on serve, its embarrassing...gee at least Hingis could serve with spin and rarely double faulted and had a lovely motion, with this crowd eveyr second serve is a kamakazee mission...

Posted by Ruth 01/29/2009 at 08:13 PM

I'm so glad that, after Serena gets her 10th Slam (maybe on Saturday), she will have won her Slams over a ten-year period -- and we haven't had a 10-year "weak era" in the awful WTA, or have we? LOL

As Samantha pointed out, right now, the situation -- with 1 or 2 excellent players and a rung of very good (promising) players -- is the same in the ATP as it is in the WTA.

Posted by Tennis Fan 01/29/2009 at 08:28 PM

I don't think Dementieva lost it on the serve, while it was not perfect it was better than ever before, I think it more the battle of the groundstrokes. Dementieva seemed passive at times, letting Serena moving her around and being impatient at others, spraying forehands and kooking drop shots. She needs to come to the net more. I feel positive about Dementieva's chances at FO.

Serena will and Federer will win AO. Kind of boring, no?

The WTA rankings will be reorganized and not just at the top. JJ moves to 3rd, probably for quite awhile, with Dementieva right on her heels in 4th. Zvonareva 5th, Ivanovic moves to 8th. Sharapova drops to 16, leaving room for Petrova to reenter the top 10. Bartoli moves back to 11th and Zheng to 20. Suarez-Navarro moves to 30 and will probably get seeding for FO. Hantuchova moves out of top 32 (for good?) Viadisova drops to 70s and Dokic, moves to high 80s (we should be seeing more of her).

Henin is still hoarding 1,070 ranking points and Davenport 1,200.

Looking forward to the new season with more H2H play including WS. Maybe the 'fear factor' will be decreased with more H2H.

Zvonareva was nervous. I could tell from the first game. However, her best ever showing at a slam!!!

The new system seems to have improved the quality of the lower level tournaments. Despite worries to the contrary, I think more top players are actually playing them.

Check out WTA website. Berlin tournament is gone. In it's place the Warsaw tournament was upgraded to a Premier and put in it's place just prior to FO. This should make Radwanska happy.

Also, Bad Gastein tournaments was readded and a new one in Marabella Spain was added. Spain is on the rise, two new tournaments this year.

Posted by crazyone 01/29/2009 at 08:28 PM

I can't say I find the ATP and WTA the same, but I think there is one huge difference that isn't so subjective: the WTA ladies don't all show up to all the important, sub-Slam level WTA tourneys. While on the men's side, the top men are consistently in the Masters Series events, so you've got a lot of interesting events at that level. I definitely realize that many of the top women have their reasons for this, but it makes for a different product that the ATP where the MS tourneys provide a lot of exciting matchups, which for the WTA mostly occur at the Slams.

Posted by crazyone 01/29/2009 at 08:30 PM

but I just saw Tennis Fan's post. Maybe the change in the schedule and system will make a difference in this regard.

Posted by Tennis Fan 01/29/2009 at 08:32 PM

"the WTA ladies don't all show up to all the important, sub-Slam level WTA tourneys. While on the men's side, the top men are consistently in the Masters Series events"

Crazyone: This is because Master Series events are mandatory on the ATP. All who qualify are required to play them, unlike the WTA which did not have this requirement until this year. You should see a radical difference this year.

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" *Serena the ultimate assassin of the WTA Tour Matt Z (2009)* 01/29/2009 at 08:43 PM

I see Tennis Fan has responded to the sub slam comment. It should make a difference if and when they all show up. But there will always be occasional upsets every now and then in the early rounds. But FWIW, I think the top ten women have done good so far in the year having reached the later stages of all tournaments they have been entered for.

Sydney SF had Serena, Dinara, Elena,
AO SF had Serena, Dinara, Elena, and Vera

Posted by vuvu 01/29/2009 at 08:50 PM

I have a feeling if Dinara gets into one of her error-strewn phases at any point,( and the chances are high based on current form), then she is toast. Serena is no Zvonareva and she'll capitalise, plus she has the greater big moment experience.

I hope its a least competitive - another beat-down in a women's Slam Final is just not worth staying up for.

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" *Serena the ultimate assassin of the WTA Tour Matt Z (2009)* 01/29/2009 at 09:00 PM

IMO, the last four women's slam finals have not been beat downs even though they were all straight set victories.

AO 2008 Maria d Ana 7-5, 6-3
FO 2008 Ana d Dinara 6-4, 6-3
SW19 2008 Venus d Serena 7-5, 6-4
USO 2008 Serena d Jelena 6-4, 7-5

Notice the pattern the lady who was runner up at AO won FO and the lady who was runner up at SW19 won USO, just saying ;-)

Posted by Ruth 01/29/2009 at 09:03 PM

The last big beatdown in a Slam final was at the men's FO 2008, vuvu. It was even shorter than all of the women's night matches at AO 2009!!! :)

Posted by kim 01/29/2009 at 09:19 PM

live video australian open

http://garagehome.blogspot.com/

Posted by Samantha Elin 01/29/2009 at 09:20 PM

Thanks Tim. Hey Tennisfan, glad to see your posting again, always enjoy reading your posts. Go Caroline, Scandinavia's#1!

Posted by vuvu 01/29/2009 at 09:22 PM

True Ruth,

I guess I have just seen it happen so disappointingly more with the ladies. eg the Ivanovic one against Justine at 07 FO was excruciating - can't bear to mention more. At least Roger was just brutally outplayd as opposed to the let-me hide-behind-my-hands emotional melt-downs that tend to happen more often with the women. Del Potro the other night notwithstanding:) Come on Dinara man up!!

Posted by DMan 01/29/2009 at 09:53 PM

Tennisfan @*.32.
You say there should be a radical difference this year with the women as far as "Masters Series/Tier I" events or whatever they're calling them this time.

I say that remains to be seen, and I would absolutely not hold my breath that all the top women will show up for these "premiere" events. And kind of interesting too. Why couldn't the WTA get all of the top women to show up for even one Tier I event per year??? Perhaps once every 3 years all the top women would show up in Miami, but that's it. The to women have never fully supported their own tour. I don't think it's going to suddenly start happening now.

Posted by DMan 01/29/2009 at 10:05 PM

I'll make a very not so bold prediction in that we have *another* straight set result in the AO women's finals. Serena wins something like 6-2,7-5.

If so, that will make it 10 consecutive majors on the women's side with straight set finals, and 13 of the last 14. Note that the last time there was a 3 set final at the US Open was 14 years ago, when Graf beat Seles!

The last 3 set final in a major was Mauresmo over Henin at the '06 Wimbledon final.

The only remotely comeptitive finals in the last 2-1/2 years were the '08 Wimbledon final and '08 US Open final. The Open final was the only one that offered a match with any drama, with Jankovic's second set points temporarily throwing the match's outcome into doubt.

In all four 2007 major finals, the winner lost a total of 15 games in 4 matches! Barely enough to win one match. No set was closer than 6-4, and that only happened once.

What I am saying is that when it comes to the biggest occasions in the sport, the women don't exactly provide any significant drama or high quality matches. But blowouts.

Yes, they've come a long way. But how far they still need to go.

Posted by Andrew 01/29/2009 at 10:09 PM

Ruth: you write "both Venus and Serena have often said that, if they focussed on their tennis exclusively, they would have become bored out of their skulls and would have probably stopped playing after a few years."

Fair enough. And, to be clear, if Venus and Serena Williams made the choices to have a diverse portfolio of interests outside their tennis careers and they're happy about those choices, good for them. I don't think tennis fans can really be in the position of the proverbial tennis parent - "you will practice for ten hours a day, because we say so!"

Had Serena Williams chosen to dedicate this part of her life to being the best tennis player she could be (as players like Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf did), what might we have seen? In her case, we'll never know - but the choice was hers to make, and it's not for us to say that it was for better or worse for her. No undying knights murmuring "She chose....wisely!"

Maybe Serena Williams will be remembered in something of the same way Ivan Lendl is - someone with a long career, and passionate defenders and not a few detractors.

Posted by imagine 01/29/2009 at 10:39 PM

serena

fire and ice.

Posted by temes 01/29/2009 at 10:54 PM

I enjoed reading this, thanks.

Imo the difference in that match was again the important points(as in so many close big matches), Serena brought the aces, the winners(return winners are her specialty), the fighting, Elena brought the double faults. That's the difference between a great player and a champion.

Posted by Ku 01/29/2009 at 11:06 PM

I think the tour calendar is FAR too long. I am unaware of any other physically demanding sport that requires you to play 11 out of the 12 months.

Especially for the women. As much as we may not like to admit it, women's bodies are not the same as men. They are prone to breaking down much easier. Playing such a gruelling tour will not work for the women. For that reason, I argue those that point to how often the top men show up for events while the women default so much. I also think it shortens their careers.

In addition, if the year was shorter for both men and women, we may see more intensity and fitness because it gives you more time to actually TRAIN during the off season. That way, the distinction between those that are fit, and those that aren't is more obvious.

Finally, onto my biggest pet peeve...equal prize money. Many people seem to think the same physical force should be exerted in order to allow equal prize money. But I think it should be based on productivity, not number of hours worked. So, if the women produce as much revenue as the men do in 2/3 sets, they deserve as much. The question of how long/competitive the finals are is not enough justification to downgrade their pay. If people still buy tickets to watch and ratings are up...they should get the same.

Posted by DMan 01/29/2009 at 11:13 PM

Andrew

Ruth wrote "both Venus and Serena have often said that, if they focussed on their tennis exclusively, they would have become bored out of their skulls and would have probably stopped playing after a few years"

I don't know if they really said that, or if ti was Richard saying it.

But I don't believe it. I do think it is great they have interests outside of tennis. But neither Serena nor Venus has ever wanted to, or been able to play a full season of tennis on the pro tour. Serena has never, and I mean never in 10+ years on tour, ever played more than 13 events in one season. It remains to be seen if she'll still be playing in 5 years from now. And if her light schedule will enable her to have a long, prosperous career.

I have often said that if either sister were to play a full season, that neither would be as successful as they are. Serena for sure. I think the more Serena plays, the more vulnerable she is. Especially from a physical standpoint. Has Serena ever played three consecutive tournaments? Or more than 2 events in a month? Or more than 1 or 2 events post-US Open? Her body can't hold up to the rigors of the pro tour.

Their light schedules also help protect the aura they already have. The more they play, the tougher it would get for them. But let's face it, neither have been able to win consistently, or year after year, with just a few exceptions. Venus won back-to-back Wimbledon and US Open titles, back in 2000-01. And now 2 years running at Wimbledon. Serena only once has successfully defended a major (Wimbledon in 2002-03) Just once. She's good when she's the underdog. But when pressure's on, at least as far as defending champ, she hasn't been there.

Posted by FedFan_2007 01/29/2009 at 11:44 PM

Blah blah blah Serena dominating the WTA is more proof of ultimate clown era. Thank god for Federer & Nadal, or I'd not have any tennis to watch.

Posted by Marian aka Mr. Sparkles 01/29/2009 at 11:59 PM

Word FedFan_2007.

Vamos Rafaelito!!!

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" *Serena the ultimate assassin of the WTA Tour Matt Z (2009)* 01/30/2009 at 12:19 AM

DMan - You are right that Serena has never played more than 13 tournaments in a year. This discussion had come up sometime ago and I checked dating back to Steffi Graf in the stretch when she dominated at no. 1, she played 14 and 16 tournaments once, 11, 13, and 15 twice. Steffi never played more than 16. The stretch that Justine dominated she played just 13 and 14 tournaments. Martina H and Lindsay were the ones on the high side played between 16-21. So while it may seem so out of place after all. And like you said some players bodies just won't hold up and I do think Serena is also injury prone. Someone that comes to mind on the men's side is Jo Willy. The young man has never been able to play a full season because of injury.

Posted by Tony 01/30/2009 at 12:27 AM

Great post, Pete. But it makes you wish Justine Henin were around to invert the process: there across the net is the diminutive girl who could show up the Serena game as nothing but pure bluster.

Posted by Ruth 01/30/2009 at 12:34 AM

"I don't know if they really said that, or if ti was Richard saying it."

DMan: I do know that they said that, and, surprisingly, Venus is the sister who has said it more often and more emphatically than Serena. Use Google or whatever is your favorite search engine and read a little before you go around stating or implying that other commenters are lying.

In an interview since her arrival in australia, Serena told reporters that, although she pursues other activities, she knows that she's not as good at them as she is at tennis, and that makes her want to keep working on her tennis. Smart woman!

But, maybe she's just lying!

Posted by phillyKat 01/30/2009 at 12:36 AM

"Their light schedules also help protect the aura they already have. The more they play, the tougher it would get for them. But let's face it, neither have been able to win consistently, or year after year, with just a few exceptions. Venus won back-to-back Wimbledon and US Open titles, back in 2000-01. And now 2 years running at Wimbledon. Serena only once has successfully defended a major (Wimbledon in 2002-03) Just once. She's good when she's the underdog. But when pressure's on, at least as far as defending champ, she hasn't been there."

DMan, intereting point of view. But we can't deal with the what if's, (as he saying goes - what if my aunt had balls...). The reality is that Serena doesn't play a ton of matches, focuses on what we measure greatness by, Slam victories, and keeps that "aura" of greatness about herself. That aura is enhanced greatly by the reality that she doesn't play a ton. That's not a disparing point on the WTA IMO, it's a confirmation of Serena's greatness and legitimate aura.

Posted by Ruth 01/30/2009 at 12:39 AM

Yay! Another championship for Venus and Serena! And yet another reason for people like DMan to strain hard to find ways to deprecate and trivialize them! LOL

It's really laughable -- and sad, too.

Posted by Ruth 01/30/2009 at 12:49 AM

Thanks, avid, for your wise and detailed responses to some of the posts about V&S. I stopped trying to use reasoned, data loaded replies to the perennila V&S attacks long ago when I realized that, based on the tone of the criticisms (see DMan, Fedfan, Marian), such responses would be a waste of time. But I'm glad that you took the time to present the facts.

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" *Serena the ultimate assassin of the WTA Tour Matt Z (2009)* 01/30/2009 at 12:59 AM

Ruth - :) I hear ya.

Posted by 01/30/2009 at 01:53 AM

I always wait for an analysis of the matches especially when some of my favourite players win...Never disappointed.. Thank you...

Mathilda

Posted by rg.nadal (Vamos RAfa!) 01/30/2009 at 03:06 AM

25 minutes for the Rafa-Verdasco match.

Posted by mick1303 01/30/2009 at 04:10 AM

You all completely are missing my point about the roof. Maybe not missing but intentionally shifting the case in different direction.
Did I ever state that Sveta or Lena is mental giants? Of course they are inferior to Serena in this regard. Especially if consider relative value of a single Slam win for them and for her.
So what if Sveta was in the lead after the roof was closed? How it contradicts the fact that they both were given time to recover and Serena needed it more. Each and every such interruption is in favor of the losing side. Yes, Sveta is a weak-minded headcase. But if they’d continue in the heat it may not mattered, because Serena could be depleted to a significant degree. Too much “could” - we’ll never know.

Posted by Markic 01/30/2009 at 06:35 AM

Pete, I love this post, surely one of your best ever. The most interesting point is how Serena seems to have this aura of invincibility independent of her actual form. I think it's just that she's so confident in herself, that everybody else seems to believe it too. Same goes for when people say "oh, if she'd not been injured, she'd have won more", forgetting that a certain petite Belgian was, shot for shot, far and away the most complete player the women's game has ever seen...

Serena's the perfect competitor: hates to lose, but isn't afraid of it.

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