Concrete Elbow by Steve Tignor - All Sydney Access
Home       About Steve Tignor       Contact        RSS        Follow on Twitter Categories       Archive
All Sydney Access 01/07/2008 - 2:06 PM

AnaHere, without further ado, is the third and final installment from our Sartorially Resplendent Sydney Correspondent. This time he (or she) reports from media hour at the Medibank.

2008 preview on the way from me soon, I promise.


On Sunday in Sydney, No. 1 Justine Henin, No. 2 Svetlana Kuznetsova and No. 3 Jelena Jankovic all showed for the all-access time allotted to the Medibank International media. On Monday, it the last of the top four, Ana Ivanovic, who had flown in after playing the exhibition in Hong Kong.

Maybe 'all-access' wasn't the best description for it, as Ivanovic gave a presser attended by all of four reporters. The Serb arrived Down Under on December 13, before travelling to Hong Kong and back. Asked if the reason was to prepare for Melbourne Park, Ivanovic, looking fit, said, "Yeah, that was definitely one of the reasons, but the other one is just I love Australia. My fitness coach is from Sydney and I have family in Melbourne, so every year I look forward to coming here.

"I wanted just to come earlier and enjoy nice weather and, you know, just be here and also seeing my relatives. They came along to Sydney for a week, so that was also very nice."

Ivanovic stayed in Manly, which is a little oceanside suburb right on the Pacific, about a 30-minute ferry ride across Sydney harbour from the main Circular Key docks. She enjoyed it so much that she claims she'll do the same thing next year.

Before coming to Australia, Ivanovic had spent some time at the new Roehampton tennis centre in London run by the Lawn Tennis Association. Given the weather in England, wasn't that a crazy thing to do? Ivanovic replied, "Yeah, comparing to Australia the weather is definitely not nice, but they have great facilities there. For tennis and preparation I think it's very good. And now in the new center they have six indoor courts and they are actually heating them, so it was quite warm there.

"I think that's the closest you can get to Australia, in that time of the year in Europe, so I found it very interesting and very nice and I enjoyed my time there."

In a very successful year that included breaking into the top four, her poor effort in the French Open final against Henin stands out as a major disappointment.

"That definitely didn't give a good result," she said about the Roland Garros final. "But, you know, I just think that's necessary experience, and next time I'm in that situation I will know what to expect, also."

Asked if she was angry at herself after the final, she said, "Of course, and also disappointed. Soon as I went off the court and spoke with my coach I wanted to go back on and play once more. But they didn't let me, so I have to wait for next opportunity."

On Sunday, Ivanovic's compatriot Jankovic made it sound doubtful that she'll play the Sydney event because of the injury that prevented her from playing singles in Hopman Cup. She's undergoing treatment but is troubled by a gluteus maximus problem, which at times spreads into her hamstring and lower back.

"I know I'm a pain in the butt," a jovial Jankovic said, "but now I have a pain in the butt."

She's undergoing serious therapy and will have to decide no later than Tuesday (the women's final is on Friday night, 16 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the US).

Henin outdrew Jankovic at the tables sent out for the all-access session by about 12-2.

She was well worth listening to, talking freely on a wide variety of subjects. Henin said she thoroughly enjoyed her trip with her best friends and their 6-year-old son to South Africa after she won the Tour Championships in Madrid in November.

After that, she said that she done her off-season training in her tax-haven home in Monte Carlo, and said she was able to play outside.

"When I'm in Monaco, I miss my family, my friends," Henin said about being torn between her residences. "In Belgium it's a crazy life, there's too much attention on me. I like it when people I love come to Monaco. That's the best for me. Life in Monaco is good because it's only tennis and taking care of myself, which I don't do in Belgium because my life is pretty crazy there. I have a lot of things to do for press, sponsors and fans. In Monaco it's a pretty quiet life.

Describing being Justine in Belgium, Henin continued, "In Belgium it's crazy, which I understand. People come up to me and call me 'Ju-Ju,' because everyone calls me 'Ju-Ju' even if I hate that. That was good when I was a little girl. I'm 25, I think it's time to move forward. And they say, we all have the impression we know you. It's like I'm a full member of every family in Belgium, which is great. I'm really proud of it. But sometimes I just say, 'give me a break.' I'm doing better with that. I'm more open. I understand the situation and it's amazing, in sport, we're lucky because we give a lot of emotions to people. People are together behind an athlete. I'm lucky to do that because it gives a lot of smiles and a lot of love and that gives a sense to what I do."

It's remarkable how well she now expresses herself in English. Henin was asked when she began to feel really comfortable in the language of Shakespeare and Tim Henman. "It's been for a while," she said. "But last year I had to express myself a lot more in English and now I really feel at ease. I'm not sure when everything clicked but now it comes more naturally, more easily. I never studied English. It just came from the tour and travelling.

"It's not easy for people ... to talk about their career and their life in a language that isn't their mother tongue. But I've never been afraid to do it and I'm getting better and better."

Reflecting on the fact that she missed Australia (due to her marriage break-up) last year, Henin said, "I wasn't here last year for all the reasons we know. Two years ago, I left Melbourne (after retiring against Amelie Mauresmo in the Aussie Open final) and I was pretty sad. I wasn't healthy then. My stomach was hurting me a lot. It's quite emotional to be back in Australia. I missed the tournament last year but I was focused on something much more important. It's great to be back but I forgot how long the trip was and how bad the jetlag is."

Giving her two cents worth on the change in court surface from Rebound Ace to Plexicushion, Henin said, "I don't really understand why they changed the courts. I did like the Rebound Ace but I don't have the feeling there's a big, big difference.

When local boy Lleyton Hewitt was asked he thought the hullabaloo about the courts would blow over once they are played in and it gets toward the end of the Australian Open. "Obviously any kind of change or new thing and all you guys are going write about it, aren't you?" he said. "Yeah, I don't think it's a big deal for the players. We play on hard courts three-quarters of the year. I wouldn't say it's that much different than Indian Wells and Miami. I don't think it's going to be a big deal. I think it's pretty equal for all players."

There was a slight delay before the women's all-access interviews and Jankovic and Henin had to stand around outside talking to WTA Tour personnel while they waited for the room to be free. Then up some stairs and around a bend came Jamie Murray, seemingly on his way to the player's lounge. He noticed his Wimbledon mixed-doubles winning partner Jankovic. As everyone knows, there were rumours, even hopes among the Brits, that there might be a romance between the two, who made a very attractive couple at the Wimbledon champions dinner.

Murray walked past and touched Jankovic on the upper arm and she turned and smiled at him. But there was nothing effusive to suggest they are an item—unless that was just a ruse.

—Your Sartorially Resplendent Sydney Correspondent, signing off


Posted by patrick 01/07/2008 at 02:28 PM

Your Sartorially Respledent Sydney Correspondent,
Enjoyed your 3 installments. Interesting observations to say the least. Seems like the Russians were not happy there this year as (Elena, Nadia, and Anna C to name a few) they lost their first matches.

Posted by Mixed Singles 01/07/2008 at 02:47 PM

These posts are great.

Whoever you are mystery reporter, keep up the great work!

Also, can you tell us how the Australian tennis world is responding to the comeback of Jelena Dokic?

Posted by Sher 01/07/2008 at 03:15 PM

I really enjoyed these posts. I hope the Sartorially Respledent Sydney Correspondent sticks around to report from the Open.

Posted by Sam 01/07/2008 at 04:00 PM

Sartorially Respledent Sydney Correspondent: Thanks for your reports - great work.

Posted by Heidi 01/07/2008 at 05:50 PM

Great reports, thanks! And thanks for the gossipy tidbit about Murray and Jankovic. Maybe this will put those shippers' hopes to rest.

Posted by Ali C (En français, svp?) 01/07/2008 at 06:12 PM

Awwww, look Sam! There's a pic of Ana just for you! =)

Very interesting interviews...note to self: no betting on JJ in Melbourne. Ana sounds ready to go, but she'll need some big performances to win her way into the AO finals. She's capable, but she'll need all her shots firing and her head in the right place to do it.

Posted by Sam (ahh, Ankles ...) 01/07/2008 at 06:50 PM

Ali C: Yeah, nice way to start off the week. ;-)
I still think Ana's at least a year away from winning a Slam. She doesn't seem ready to defeat the likes of Henin, Serena, Venus (and Maria outside of clay) in a late-round Slam match.

Posted by Ali C (What, not her lovely eyes?) 01/07/2008 at 06:57 PM

I kind of agree with you, Sam. I think with a fluke draw she could win a slam this year...but I do think that in the next year or two, a window is going to open up for her to become a multiple-slam winner. As Justine, Serena, Venus, Amelie, etc. retire or begin playing a bit less, she'll have a shot.

The trick is to take it, and not let the window close like Kuzzie did.

Speaking of Kuzzie, is the girl just absolutely mental or really driven for saying she wants to catch Justine and become #1? I admire her for thinking she can do it, but man. Talk about a tough road ahead.

Posted by patrick 01/07/2008 at 07:09 PM

Ali C,
Besides catching Justine for number 1, Kuzzy has got to hold off the Williams Sisters and Sharapova. Kuzzy do have a lot SF points to defend. Think Kuzzy drop at least 2 places when the season is over.

Posted by Sam (the eyes have it) 01/07/2008 at 07:33 PM

Ali: Well, Kuzzy did at least grab one Slam while the window was open. She actually said that about becoming #1? Wow. Like patrick said, there are other top players to contend with, and I don't see her doing that well against them.

Posted by Ali C (What, not her lovely eyes?) 01/07/2008 at 07:36 PM


I'd tend to agree...but I think Kuzzy's main rivals for the #2 spot are the Serbs - probably Ana I, with a strong Aussie campaign.

I think Maria will be gunning to get back to the top, but not so sold on the Williams Sisters. I'll believe that they're back to play tennis for real if they're still playing week in and out in March or April.

In favor of Kuzzy (or someone else) Justine has a LOT of points to defend from March-July. She'll need to tack on some late round performances in Sydney and Melbourne to pad her lead a bit if she wants to stay #1. I think she'll defend a lot of her points, but probably not all of 'em.

To be honest, I don't see anyone unseating Justine for a good long time unless her level drops a lot or she gets injured. And as much as I'm a fan of Sveta, I don't think she's going to be the one to do it anyway.

Posted by patrick 01/07/2008 at 08:15 PM

Kuzzy won her Slam while the Williams and Belgians were injured and Davenport was not mentally into playing, and Maria was the darling of the world when she beat Serena for 2004 Wimby. Ankles return to competition today.

Posted by Dee 01/07/2008 at 08:45 PM


But of course you should return and write some more, mate! Thanks for the latest on the top 4 girls.

It's back to "he or she" (Steve can't make up his mind), but odds are you are more of a "she", seeing that you notice these little things about Jamie and Jelena and romance. Guys are ... er ... not that observant, you know. Those two were just fantastic during their run to the Wimbledon finals. For first time partners, it was really a pleasure to watch them play - a fine example of having genuine fun while working on the job.

Posted by Sam (the eyes have it) 01/07/2008 at 08:52 PM

patrick: Good point. Forgot that 2004 was Henin's virus year (last time she lost at the FO).

Posted by Jerell 01/07/2008 at 11:19 PM

Bob's gonna love the Henin stuff

Posted by GSte 01/07/2008 at 11:48 PM

Your Sartorially Resplendent Sydney Correspondent, this is your last report? Say it ain't so! I've enjoyed them, so I hope you'll do more in the future.

I'm sure Ivanovic will perform better in the next slam final she reaches. Her showing against Henin was not indicative of how well she can play. Everything fell apart for her after she broke Henin in that opening game.

Posted by Eddy 01/07/2008 at 11:59 PM

Dee, don't be ignorant. That's just a stereotype. Thanks for your last report. Highly entertaining. Wow, are Ivanovic's cheeks chubby or what? I can't believe she weights 160; no wonder her movement is considered slow; every other player weighs 130 or less. Wonder what patrick has to say about this.

Posted by Dee 01/08/2008 at 01:57 AM

Eddy, don't be ignorant. That's the angle of the shot, it tends to make Ana's cheeks chubby. But if she weighs 160lbs ( i take it this info is from ??), then she might be just overweight. Her previous weight listed in the WTA website is 152 lbs. Other ladies around Ana's height --- Nicole Vaidisova: 6' - 140 lbs, Serena Williams: 5' 10" - 143 lbs, Venus Williams: 6' 1" - 160 lbs, Maria Sharapova: 6' 2" - 130 lbs.

... so, every other player is not 130 lbs or less, hmmm?

Posted by Eddy 01/08/2008 at 02:12 AM

It was assumed that I meant in general WTA women are 130, or at least I thought it was. Plus, why doesn't that angle make anyone else's cheeks look chubby? Not that I meant it as an insult. I was just using that to point out she's one of the heaviest women on the tour, along with Molik probably, and that she could lose some muscle (or whatever it is) and improve her movement.
By the way, I meant don't be ignorant about a man's ability to sense chemistry between a man and a woman. I onlly said that because I was tired of seeing stereotyping, big and small--not about Ivanovic. Unless you were just using my own words for your own comeback. Whatever, I'm cool if you are.
Steve, awaiting your first post of the year! I know you promised.

Posted by Black Matt 01/08/2008 at 02:27 AM

Great stuff. In regards to the plexicushion surface, can someone help me out here? Is the new surface faster or slower than rebound ace? I thought it was designed to be faster, but it seems lately I've been reading that it's slower. Do I have it the other way around?

Posted by Eddy 01/08/2008 at 03:33 AM

From what I've read it's faster in AO hot conditions but slower in cooler weather like in Sydney.

Posted by Dee 01/08/2008 at 03:59 AM

No worries, Eddy, I'm cool, and I did get what you mean. :p)

"Murray walked past and touched Jankovic on the upper arm and she turned and smiled at him."

Some writers during the presscon, male or female, may have sensed the undercurrents between Jamie and Jelena, but for a male writer to actually include the significant item in his article? For me this points more to a female writer. The business on hand is tennis --- adding 10% romance to the article is, something a female YSRSC will do. I will have to go back to Wimbledon and check out which gender wrote most about the Jamie/Jelena impending romance (that never was at the time).

You know, Eddy, just between the two of us, the bad part of this discussion is that if YSRSC is truly and unquestionable male ... he will have my head for insisting that in his articles he comes across as being female!

Whatever, YSRSC is a keen observer, and not shy about including in his/her articles stuff other than the business side of tennis.

Weight settles in different parts of the. For Ana, I would not look at the cheeks but zoom in on the hips. Good thing she has let go of the pleated skirts cut below the waist which makes her hips all the more wider. Her upper arms look soft too, so bingo ... overall she looks heavy. The current Serena I like. She looked toned and fit on TV when she played in the Hopman Cup.

Posted by Dee 01/08/2008 at 04:58 AM

Should have been:

Weight settles in different parts of the body. For Ana ...

Posted by Markic 01/08/2008 at 07:16 AM

Please come back, mystery correspondent!

Posted by Jerell 01/08/2008 at 08:56 AM

Whose to say a guy can't write about possible romance?

Could have been a guy too

Posted by Sher 01/08/2008 at 10:46 AM

On the subject of gender, I thought it must be a he because if it were a she, Steve would not have put "or she" in the brackets. But I did swing towards thinking the writer's female with that Jamie/Jelena comment for a moment, before wondering if the author was simply British.

Posted by Eddy 01/08/2008 at 12:57 PM

Dee, truth is I would have been entertained by almost anything SRSC wrote relating to the tours, but I'm glad the reporter felt free to let us in on the personal scoop too. As far as the gender of SRSC, I don't want to guess because technically you shouldn't be able to tell which sex wrote it from looking at a professional (assumption) article. When I look at it personally, I could see it being either a male or a female. But if it is a male, knowing that his identity would remain anynomous, I'd guess that he would have felt free to express himself. And ya, it would be amusing if he is a male to see us accusing him of being a woman.

About Ana, I saw some of her pictures. She's not fat, but she has big hips and thighs, as you pointed out, which make me wonder if she's just naturally husky (which the cheeks also suggest to me). But I think if she lost 5 lbs just for the movement, she'd be better off.

"But I did swing towards thinking the writer's female with that Jamie/Jelena comment for a moment, before wondering if the author was simply British"
You sure cracked me up with that one! Even though I don't know British men's tendencies.

Posted by Eddy 01/08/2008 at 12:59 PM

*British men or women's tendencies.

Posted by patrick 01/08/2008 at 01:14 PM

A WTA player is engaged to be married:

Posted by Sam 01/08/2008 at 01:31 PM

Black Matt: Check the following thread around 1:30PM (1/7/08) - one of the posters wrote about it and posted a good link regarding the surface speed.

Posted by Sam 01/08/2008 at 01:34 PM

Eddy: I don't know about weight, but Ana strikes me as not having quick enough footwork, and I think this is part of the reason for her inconsistency. Hopefully she will work on that this year.

Posted by M-Life 01/08/2008 at 02:09 PM

I agree Sam. Bammer had her nearly beat today, and I thought she looked heavy footed in her court coverage. At the YEC, both my girlfriend and I thought she looked fitter and had lost some weight. Today she looked as though she lost some of that conditioning she must have worked so hard to gain. Because she is a big girl by nature, I wonder if that will be a problem for her thoughout her career. Much like Nadia Petrova.

Posted by Sher 01/08/2008 at 02:16 PM

Yay for the engagement!

Posted by patrick 01/08/2008 at 02:19 PM

Do you mean Razzano almost beat Ana? Bammer lost in 3 sets to Srebotnik. Also, Ana lost 2 exo matches in Hong Kong to Dementieva and Peng.

Posted by paulC 01/08/2008 at 02:54 PM

I find it hard to believe Serena is 143. Very hard to believe.

Posted by Samantha 01/08/2008 at 04:55 PM

I think a lot of players would have to retire, get injured or just be out for Ivanovic to win a slam. I just think right now there are at least 5-6 players who can beat her easily. I think she's by far the most beautiful and far from big. I watched the Hopman cup doubles and what was shocking was Serena was blowing serves and shot right past Novak. It was funny when he was shaking his head and when one of her shot put him flat on the ground. Congrats to Venus.

Posted by patrick 01/08/2008 at 05:04 PM

Saw Serena play Molik at HC last week and she did not face a BP. While Martina N was saying that she looks trim, she was not moving well as in previous years.

Posted by Eddy 01/08/2008 at 06:06 PM

paulC, it's because Serena is short.
Welcome back M-Life. You were taking a vacation right?
patrick, what do you think of Serena's chances this year at the AO then?

Posted by patrick 01/08/2008 at 07:51 PM

Serena chances of repeating are pretty good but Justine is the one to beat at the moment ending the year on a 25 match win streak. Also, winning 10 tourneys and the best winning percentage since Graf.

Posted by Samantha 01/08/2008 at 08:59 PM

Patrick, I see it the same way. I get a kick out of the people counting Serena out because most of the times she gets the last laugh. Remember what Petrova said at last years AO, the Williamses were done. At the USO, she had changed her tune and it was "I'm glad they're not in my draw." Serena loves the AO and plays extremely well there and she in better shape this year. I see only one player in front of her and that is Justine.

Posted by Eddy 01/09/2008 at 02:18 AM

I'm digging that patrick and Samantha.

Posted by 01/10/2008 at 06:30 AM

i dont know why everyone is against kuzzie. she is a great player and can be number 1. when serena says she wants to be number 1 everyone deems it as fine.when kuzzy does people say shes mental. i think that she certainly has the potential to do so and win maybe 1 or 2 more slams

Posted by patrick 01/10/2008 at 10:32 AM,
Kuzzy is not mental in saying that she wants to be number 1 but I believe that this is unlikely 'cuz Justine is ahead of the rest by a comfortable margin and the Williams Sisters, Sharapova and the Serbians are breathing down her neck

We are no longer accepting comments for this entry.

<<  8 Questions for '08 The Fine Mists of Sydney  >>

A Little Less Life and Death
Playing Ball: Good Luck to a Partner
Playing Ball: Losing Them All
Keeping Tabs: August 8
Quick-Change Artists
Hard Landing
Part of the Action
This blog has 1484 entries and 99627 comments.
More Video
Daily Spin