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Vitches: Ova and Out! 06/05/2007 - 12:15 PM

Jelena I suppose this post should be about the Serena Williams-Justine Henin match, but a funny thing happened to me on the way to Armageddon, Part 3 (which was, from what I could tell, played under the influence of Prozac, or as Henin would more charitably describe it, "serenity"). I fell in love with Serbia. So my ongoing "to-do" list has now been modified:

1 - Run around Paris, trying to find a Serbian national soccer team jersey with a name on the back - and something without vowels, please; it's got to be as consonant-heavy as the name of Superman's Nemesis (Mr. Mxplyx. . . oh hail, I don't remember, help!).

2 - Call the Super Bowl network and tell the meatheads in the suits that when the next MVP walks off the field and a microphone gets shoved in his face, he should say, "I'm going to Zrenjanin!"

3 - Text message whichever Ramone is still alive and have him change the name of the song to "I Wanna Be Serbiated."

Yeah, I've got it that bad. But we had an extraordinary moment in tennis here today, and it had nothing to do with the Henin family reunion or a Richard Williams rant; at 1:37, Jelena Jankovic punched her ticket to the semifinals with a win over Nicole Vaidisova, and exactly one minute later, Ana Ivanovic  closed out Svetlana Kuznetsova to advance to the semis on the other side of the draw. Is it possible that in two days time, we'll be talking about Roland Garros, aka The Serbian Open?

There was a fitting symmetry to putting JankIvanovic on different courts with the same start time (Ivanovic on Chartrier, Jankovic on Lenglen), although that presented me with certain problems. My tactical decision was to sit at my press desk with the headphones, a TV sets on either side tuned to one of the matches. An added benefit here was that I got reverse-Esperanto commentary: a Babel of in English, Spanish, French, Serbian, Russian and some other languages that I can't speak and therefore in which I can't say anything stupid.

The match on Lenglen was a battle between the all-star infielder (Jankovic) and the home-run hitter (Vaidisova), and the perky retriever executed her game plan to perfection. She ran down Vaidisova's aggressive, forcing shots and continually made her hit one more ball,  giving her the opportunity to hit one more error, until the last one ended it in Jankovic's favor, 6-3,7-5.  Afterward, Jankovic would say:  "I was moving really well today, and I tried to defend her balls.  And that's mainly what the key of the match was.  I was just retrieving well, and now I'm happy to be in the semifinal for the first time here in Paris."

Charlie Bricker, my spy on Lenglen, slipped down to the player's exit from the court immediately after the match and reports that as soon as Jelena walked into the corridor, she fell into the arms of her mother, Snezana (putting that one on your short list for baby names?). Jelena said, "Oh mother, my heart was beating so fast at the end that I was afraid . . " And here she used her hand to simulate the beating against her breast. "But it was inside and it couldn't get out!" Snezana, in case you don't know, is one of the 11 million "economists" churned out in a part of the world that, at the time, had no economy.

The match on the Centrale might have been the Hundred-Acre Wood Open, as it featured Pooh Bear (Ivanovic) vs. Eyeore (Kuznetsova) in an uneven, flawed clash. Ivanovic won 6-0,3-6,6-1.She played flawless, aggressive, tennis in the first set, hiccuped in the second, but pulled her game back in a tight pony tail again in the third.

Oh, Kuznetsova pulled a stomach muscle somewhere along the way, but who cares? Apparently Ivanovic woke up this morning to discover that she is not really Ana Ivanovic but. .  Jennifer Capriati!  I'm not kidding about that. The big difference I see between the two is that Ivanovic appears to be as sunny as Capriati was surly.

In a way, you had to feel bad for Eyeore. For one thing, that plum-trying-to-be-pink dress Kuznetsova wore had people wondering, "what color would you call that?" It had other interesting features as well, like the effective way it showed and emphasized perspiration. But Kuznetsova's inadequacies as a fashionista are only slightly more glaring than her profile as a dissident champion.

When Kuznetsova won the US Open in 2004, she found herself staring at a big window to establish her self as a top player, what with Maria Sharapova still green, Henin virally afflicted, Kim Clijsters willing to step down - instead of up - on nearly every big occasion, and Venus and Serena holding aloft the skull of Yoric, deep in a conversation that would last some years. Now, it appears that the window may be closed. The aforementioned women are all (with the possible exception of Venus) on an even keel, and a handful of new contenders, including the Vitches, are on the radar. Nobody can say Sveta didn't have the kind of shot Jim Courier made the most of, under similar circumstances, a decade or so ago. She shut the window instead of jumping through it.Ana

The presser conducted by each of the Vitches was a love-in, and if it didn't exactly start that way,  I was hellbent on turning it into one. Jankovic appeared with her hair pulled back, lip gloss flickering in the intense indoor lights. She was beaming. I observed that with the Vitches winning simultaneously and Novak Djokivic also doing well, there seemed to be some kind of Serbian magic at work. Jelena giggled her way through the reply:

A Serbian power or something, that wherever you go you see just Serbians (laughing).  Wherever you go, it's just Serbians all over the place, winning all these matches.  It's just incredible.  I'm just proud of that, and just, hopefully, we can keep going.

"Do you see any of that in the street?  Do Serbian people see you and recognize you in the streets in Paris?

In Paris, I haven't had the chance to walk around on the street so people can recognize me.  I'm always mainly locked up, trying to concentrate and do my own things.

Bricker had the nerve to turn the conversation back to tennis, asking Jankovic if she needed to get her serve a little quicker and a little more accurate for the final stages of the tournament. Her reply was vintage Jankovic:

Me and my serve, it's just unbelievable.  I have to really work on my serve.  But at the moment, who knows?  I am now four or three in the world with this serve.  Can you imagine if I had a bigger serve, so what I would do to these girls, but...(laughing). No, I am just kidding.  I am just trying to work on this serve.  But everybody has their weaknesses, their weapons in their games.  So nothing -- you cannot have all weapons.  You cannot have all so good shots.  But I am trying to improve this, and some things cannot happen overnight.

I ripped the mike out of deadbeat Charlie's hand and got back to the topic at hand:  "You have a great fighting spirit on the court, and in here you have a great spirit. . . a humorous spirit.  Isn't there a contradiction in there somewhere?"

I really don't know.  I'm a girl, I like to win, for sure.  I always give my best, and I fight until the end.  I never want to let the opponent get on top of me.  I'm just there to fight and really give my all on the court.  Off  the court, I am an outgoing, fun person, and that's my personality, for sure.

Someone observed that the Player Lounge has been packed with Serbs these past few days, and Jelena revealed that some of the most well-known Serbs are gathered in Paris, relishing some kid of Serbian breakout. These personages include the winner of a recent Eurovision singing contest (think, Serbian Idol, sans Paula Abdul), a few of the obligatory soccer stars, whatever. It's all good; who said this is Justine's House?

Somebody else wondered if Jelena had bumped into Ana in the locker room, enabling them to exchange congratulations. Her reply was animated:

No, she (Ana) was in Chatrier and I was in Lenglen, which is a long way.  And the woman from the media kept going after me, "Hurry up, hurry up, you have to be on time."  You can see, I didn't brush my hair.  She's like, "You need to be there 1:30."     I'm like, "Okay, I will try my best."

And when Jelena was asked to reflect on her chances going forward, she said: 

Now I'm in the semifinal.  I still have -- everybody in the beginning of the week when I play my first round, you're favorite to win the French Open, you are this, you are that.  So many expectations.  But I said to myself, when I would be holding the trophy, then I am the favorite.  Then I won the tournament, and for sure, I did this.

It was an interview brimming with charm and bonhomie - such a marked difference from some of the tense and even unpleasant debriefings to which we've grown accustomed. Oh, sure, the Vitches haven't felt the pressure of success nor heat of close scrutiny, but I almost forgot how much fun it is to play with the kittens before they grow the claws of the Big Cats.

In her own presser, Ivanovic was equally willing to show - and share - the glee she felt, and she still was a little shell-shocked by what she had achieved. When I asked if a match that ragged was good preparation for a tough semi (she will play Sharapova, while Jankovic plays Henin), she was still a little dazed:

Yeah, sure it was.  It was a very tough match.  Everything was happening quite fast.  First set was, I would say, a little bit strange.  I played some really good tennis.  I was aggressive.  And, I guess, she was a little bit nervous. . .Everything was happening very fast, so I didn't think much about it.  I just tried to move forward and be aggressive, and stay low.  And I didn't make -- I hadn't made any errors, so I would say I was pretty good.

Ivanovic conceded that the prospect of an all-Serbian final was "very exciting"  and, rather amusingly, reminded us that we had never witnessed such  thing before. That was my cue to ask if something "supernatural" was going on here for Serbia. She said:

Yeah, it's very exciting to see all of us doing so well.  Especially we are all very young, so we all have many years in front of us and many possibilities.  So it's very exciting, and I'm sure people back home are very proud of us, and that makes us feel very good.

I asked if she talked to Novak Djokovic much, and she said:

Yeah, we speak and we catch up.  It's nice to see, because I've known him for a very long time, so it's nice to catch up . . I can learn also from watching him play, because men's game is different than women's, so I can learn watching him.  And he is a great player.  He can achieve a lot.

Of course, Ana can't be expected to huddle with Jelena quite as freely as with the Djoker, and she confessed that what conversations she has with Jelena tread lightly around the subject of tennis. But she stressed that all the Serbs still feel they can learn from each other. And this led Bricker to cut to the chase and ask Ana about her relationship with Jelena. She described it like this:Novak

Well, when we start playing tennis, she was -- she's two years older than me, so we never played many tournaments together back home, and we lived in different parts of the city.  So we never practiced with each other.  And then she went to America and I went to Switzerland. 

So we kind of we had different ways, different roads, so we never really had a chance to practice with each other. And even now, we both have our own teams and our own things we like to do.  And it's a little bit different.  But we are both a bit -- we both found our way, and we are both doing well, so that's the most important thing.

I observed, "Both you and Jelena both come in here and you kind of light up the room.  You have great humor.  You're happy and bubbly.  Is this a national characteristic?

Yeah, we are happy people.  Yeah, people back home, they're very friendly and open.  And, yeah, we like to have fun.  And that's something, yeah, I guess we are just born like that and we bring that from home.  So it's -- I think it's important to be positive and to have a smile.

Okay, this has been fun. But there's a serious dimension to all of this as well. This has been a historic Roland Garros, and Italian journalist and blogger extraordinare Ubaldo Scanagatta helped me put it into perspective in a conversation we had shortly after the Vitches made the semis. Ubaldo pointed out that when Lleyton Hewitt lost to Rafael Nadal yesterday, "it was the story of 75 years of tennis history, disappearing."

What he meant was that the three towering tennis powers - Great Britain (who invented the game), the Australians (who brought it to its apex at the dawn of the Open era) and the US (who dominated the game in the subsequent, commercially-driven era), were clearly - if not necessarily permanently - in ruins.Oh, there was Serena Williams on the women's side - for another 45 minutes, anyway - but Serbia and Russia accounted for half of the entire quarterfinal line-up at Roland Garros.

And about that fourth tennis power, France, home of the legendary Musketeers (LaCoste, Cochet, Borotra and Brugnon) had started 36 players in Paris this year - their bodies lay strewn all over the red clay, like so many poppies on a graveyard.

So much for the old world, let's celebrate the new. It's always better to live in the light than the dark.


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Posted by Samantha 06/05/2007 at 07:23 AM

Very cute Pete. LOL! Shout out to the French, it looks like they're behaving themselves. Go Justine!

Posted by loreley for Federer @RG 06/05/2007 at 07:25 AM

Bonjour Pete!

I'm waiting for the men ;)

Posted by Pete 06/05/2007 at 12:29 PM

Sammie, your girl done herself proud, I know you're dying to read about her but I'm not ready to tackle that one yet. . we'll get there, though.

Posted by D-Wiz 06/05/2007 at 12:29 PM

On top of being very promising players, the Vitches seem like very cool chicas (much like our own SanjaVIC). It's been great seeing them do so well at RG. I'd LOVE an all Serbian Final and a 1st-time Slam champ!

Posted by Pete 06/05/2007 at 12:39 PM

Hey D-Wiz! speaking of . . . where is Grumpy Sanja(vic). I imagine she's bathing in champagne - that oughta change her mood from yesterday!

Posted by ptenisnet 06/05/2007 at 12:42 PM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mister_Mxyzptlk

The imp from the 5th dimension.

Posted by MrsSanta 06/05/2007 at 12:43 PM

Finally the fortnight of the Vitches arrives. I would give my right arm for a JJ AI final now that Serena is out.

Why exactly are AI and JJ not friends. Matt Cronin brought it up a while ago as well.

Minor nitpick - Eurovision is not Serbian. Its an awe inspiring celebration of tackiness involving all of Europe.

Posted by Andrew 06/05/2007 at 12:44 PM

"It was the story of 75 years of tennis history, disappearing."

Best line of the tournament so far, for me. The old "Big 4" (US, Australia, France, GB) are the host sites for the GS, but supply fewer and fewer players to the QF stage onwards.

Interesting to see how this plays out over the next 10-15 years. Particularly if the Indians and Chinese decide to get in the game.

Posted by Beckham 06/05/2007 at 12:47 PM

Vamos Ana...here's hoping she brings her game against Masha..as we all know Masha won't go down easily...

As for JJ..here's hoping she gets rid of the heebie jeebies before the match against Juju...lol...at least we are guaranteed a 3rd set...have they ever played 2 sets???

I guess this is not the year of Carlos after all..it is the year of Serbia...lol

Vamos Vitches :)

Posted by lilly potter 06/05/2007 at 12:50 PM

Pete, thanks for that lovely post. But why to Zrenjanin?:)))

Posted by Ali C (Allez!) 06/05/2007 at 12:53 PM

"These personages include the winner of a recent Eurovision singing contest..."

Sweet! Marija Serifovic's in the house?

(http://www.eurovision.tv/content/view/427/281/)

Posted by Danield 06/05/2007 at 12:55 PM

Here, here, Pete. Ana--smootch her. Jana--the same. Djoko--what the hell--the same.

Odd match from JH and Serena, huh? Something happened on the way to the Forum, maybe? And it sure as hell wasn't fireworks. And here we all were dancing around on our anticpatory tippy-toes.

Posted by ptenisnet 06/05/2007 at 12:55 PM

Serbia = The new belgium.

Posted by Ali C (Allez!) 06/05/2007 at 12:55 PM

(Pete, if you've never seen the Eurovision Song Contest, be sure to ask any of the European players about it. It's like a grand slam of cheesy Europop. Definitely the highlight of the musical year.)

Posted by Kate 06/05/2007 at 12:55 PM

hey Pete don't mean to contradict you but it was the French that invented tennis not the Brits they just think they did. It is nice to see the Serbs doing so well on one of the toughest surfaces!

Posted by Ali C (Allez!) 06/05/2007 at 12:57 PM

Sorry, link's off.

Marija Serifovic: http://www.eurovision.tv/content/view/427/281/

Posted by Ali C (Allez!) 06/05/2007 at 01:00 PM

Yes, but Ptenisnet, both the Serbian players seem to a) like playing tennis and b) have sunny personalities.

(I still love Justine, and I'm glad she's lightening up and smiling more. It's the old Justine I refer to here.)

Posted by Nancy J - Jelena fan 06/05/2007 at 01:04 PM

May I just remind the tribe that last August 06, when I was extolling the virtues of my girl, Jelena, some of you called her a alien! Well, its hear it for the alien, hon, cause she's through to the semis! I told you! Hehehe...

Now, if she can get over being a choker and get past the mighty midget, I'll be one happy Nancy J fool tomorrow!

Go Jelly, go Jelly, go Jelly.... ;)!!

About Serena, I had a feeling deep in my gut that she was going to lose. She didn't play enough on clay in my opinion to beat Henin if she came in full force. Serena is superwoman, but only when she's on a cause. This tournament, she was no longer mad at Evert and all of us who thought she had turned into a Ronald McDonald starlet! She's gotta get the monkey back on her back come Wimbledon (plus that'll be a better surface for her).

Is Venus' knee injured or what? I've read that, but I haven't been keeping up. If her knee is alright, its time for homegurl to make her move on grass or... Well get a new coach, and leave dadddy nasty mouth in Serena's camp!

I did well with the women 3-1 (usually all my picks lose!). Canas let me down... Que Sera.

Posted by Elevennis Anytwo? 06/05/2007 at 01:09 PM

An enlightening and light read. Thanks Mr. Bodo.

One thing the women's game has had over the recent past is a plethora of engaging personalities. If only more of them had cooler nerves. Can the Serbs overcome their nerves?

Posted by DMS 06/05/2007 at 01:18 PM

Old world disappearing, very interesting way to frame it Pete. I like that perspective (and Andrew's point about who hosts the GS events). Hmmm, have to mull that awhile.

Posted by Rosangel 06/05/2007 at 01:25 PM

I can't wait to set eyes on the younger Djokovic brothers - supposedly one of them, currently working with Niki Pilic, is an even better player than Novak.

I just love the way they have all managed to emerge as forces in the tennis world after having to overcome the lack of facilities in Serbia, and also what Serbia went through with the Nato bombing. I think I've already told the story (taken from last month's ACE magazine) about the young Novak practising his tennis with warplanes flying overhead, and Ana Ivanovic practising in a disused swimming pool due to a lack of tennis facilities.

Posted by Myskina+Trains=Tolstoy 06/05/2007 at 01:25 PM

Yes, whenever Cronin refers the Vitches in tandem, he alludes to their mutual dislike of each other. Is it merely that Serbia ain't big enough for the both of them or is one Vitch a little vitchier off-court than she seems? I must know.

Posted by Shabazza 06/05/2007 at 01:27 PM

I love that pic of Ivanovic! Great post btw.

Posted by marieg 06/05/2007 at 01:29 PM

hi pete, I just want to ask, Ivanovic mentioned that she can't talk to her coach about certain players...why is that?

Posted by Jenn 06/05/2007 at 01:30 PM

Great read, Pete. Its so lovely and refreshing to read about champions or champions-in-waiting like Ana and Jelena who, as you put it, "light up a room." They light up the Court as well, and these are the type of players that, as a fan, I love to watch. I haven't spent that much time watching Ana, but Jelena is a pure joy to watch on the court and I hope her days of not being able to close out tough matches (like US Open semis) are behind her. She seems like she just needs that extra belief that she really belongs in a GS final and can win. I think and hope that she nearly has that by now.

I am with Mrs. S - would love to see the all Serbian final. So fun to see new blood in a GS final.

Posted by creig bryan 06/05/2007 at 01:31 PM

Nancy J:

I was won of those who smiled "assentively" when the Space Alien reference was first presented. I still enjoy the visual, but her game is quite Terran, and to be respected. She's now my pick (my hope) to take this thing from Henin. (Although if Henin wins I won't be upset; anyone except Sharapova). My only apprehension is that she still has the "ability" to self-destruct in a crisis.

As for Serena, she never looked like she wanted it. Instead of the "BammerAngry" Serena, we got the remorseful, woe-is-me Serena. She did not appear to want to be the Goose, so she ducked... A huge psychic blur seems to have engulfed her, and it rendered her apathetic. Seems like she just didn't care.

ks

Posted by Heidi 06/05/2007 at 01:36 PM

I don't see why they should be expected to like each other -- if you expect nationalities to bond, as far as I know, the top Russian players are not out shopping together all the time. These people compete fiercely and travel and train a lot. I think gangs like Nadal's PlayStation friends are the exception.

I do think it's good, and funny, that Ivanovic is getting more press as part of the Serb pack. I always thought she was overlooked a bit.

Like I said at the beginning, I think Jankovic would be an exciting new champion to have, so I'm rooting for her. There should be some great matches ahead.

Posted by Samantha 06/05/2007 at 01:36 PM

A little off topic, but I want to say how pretty I think Ana is. When the tennis channel had the most beautiful contest, I voted for her while my boyfriend only like the Sharapova type, and voted for her. Ana won and she should have. I just think Ana is so exotic and her dark skin color is beautiful. Also, she has a great figure, I've alway envied girl who have something up at the top and have curves. To me, she's very beautiful, you don't see alot of girl who look like her in Sweden so she really stands out to me. Her game has improved so much. Does anybody think she has a pretty good chance against Sharapova? I do. Go Justine!

Posted by Ali C (Allez!) 06/05/2007 at 01:37 PM

"My only apprehension is that she still has the "ability" to self-destruct in a crisis."

Creig - I wonder that too. How much is Henin in her head? A few weeks ago in Rome, she joked that she won the tourney because Justine wasn't there. I know she was kidding, but clearly, she's had a rough time against Justine, coming oh-so-close and then buckling.

That said, I think even if JJ loses on Thursday but keeps it close and doesn't make a lot of mental lapses (in other words, makes Henin win it, as opposed to JJ losing it), she can feel good about her match.

Here's hoping that semi will be more exciting than the QFs were today...

Are you smiling? ;)

Posted by Samantha 06/05/2007 at 01:38 PM

I'm trying to show restraint because of Temes, but I'm over joyed and so proud of Juju.

Posted by Ali C (Allez!) 06/05/2007 at 01:39 PM

Samantha,

Ditto. ;)

Posted by ptenisnet 06/05/2007 at 01:44 PM

marieg
Maybe Sven Groenfeld coaches many players and he cannot interfere in any match that constitutes a conflict of interest?

Posted by 06/05/2007 at 01:45 PM

> "...I'm trying to show restraint because of Temes, but I'm over joyed and so proud of Juju..."

Another compliment for you is in the mail.

ks

Posted by Pete 06/05/2007 at 01:49 PM

marieg - Sven works with Adidas athletes (it's an interesting, novel relationship that I'd like to explore later in a post) and in the interest of fairness the ground rules are than he doesn't advise their when two play each other.. . that's my understanding so far, anyway. . .

Posted by Nancy J - JJVitch fan 06/05/2007 at 01:49 PM

Creig wrote:

"I was won of those who smiled "assentively" when the Space Alien reference was first presented. I still enjoy the visual, but her game is quite Terran, and to be respected. She's now my pick (my hope) to take this thing from Henin. (Although if Henin wins I won't be upset; anyone except Sharapova). My only apprehension is that she still has the "ability" to self-destruct in a crisis."
-----------------------------------------

We are SOOO on the same page, Creig. I too, hope that this will be the "Alien's" ;) breakout GS. On the other hand, if she can't pull it out, I want anyone BUT Shrieky to win. I won't root for that girl until she lowers that animal shriek by at least 100 decibals! She's annoying.

Creig wrote:

"As for Serena, she never looked like she wanted it. Instead of the "BammerAngry" Serena, we got the remorseful, woe-is-me Serena. She did not appear to want to be the Goose, so she ducked... A huge psychic blur seems to have engulfed her, and it rendered her apathetic. Seems like she just didn't care."
--------------------------------

I heard that Serena was quoted as saying she felt "Violated" by Justine? Oh, dear. Even though I argued that he was wrong, if that quote is true, then that "Drama Queen" title that Pete gave Serena a while back is starting to sound just a tad true...

Serena needs to get some "vitch" back in her, and lose the whiner! ;)! Wimbledon is around the corner, and hopefully Serena will have that chip back on her shoulder by then!

I'm smiling with you today, Creig! :)!

Posted by Nancy J - JJVitch fan 06/05/2007 at 01:51 PM

Creig wrote:

"I was won of those who smiled "assentively" when the Space Alien reference was first presented. I still enjoy the visual, but her game is quite Terran, and to be respected. She's now my pick (my hope) to take this thing from Henin. (Although if Henin wins I won't be upset; anyone except Sharapova). My only apprehension is that she still has the "ability" to self-destruct in a crisis."
-----------------------------------------

We are SOOO on the same page, Creig. I too, hope that this will be the "Alien's" ;) breakout GS. On the other hand, if she can't pull it out, I want anyone BUT Shrieky to win. I won't root for that girl until she lowers that animal shriek by at least 100 decibals! She's annoying.

Creig wrote:

"As for Serena, she never looked like she wanted it. Instead of the "BammerAngry" Serena, we got the remorseful, woe-is-me Serena. She did not appear to want to be the Goose, so she ducked... A huge psychic blur seems to have engulfed her, and it rendered her apathetic. Seems like she just didn't care."
--------------------------------

I heard that Serena was quoted as saying she felt "Violated" by Justine? Oh, dear. Even though I argued that he was wrong, if that quote is true, then that "Drama Queen" title that Pete gave Serena a while back is starting to sound just a tad true...

Serena needs to get some "vitch" back in her, and lose the whiner! ;)! Wimbledon is around the corner, and hopefully Serena will have that chip back on her shoulder by then!

I'm smiling with you today, Creig! :)!

Posted by Tanja 06/05/2007 at 01:52 PM

Thanx for this post, Pete.
I've never been prouder of these girls.

Greetings from Belgrade.


Posted by Danield 06/05/2007 at 01:54 PM

Samantha--dead-on. Ivanovic is a major "babe" (and I ain't using that in a piggy sense): a bona-fide figure--curves=real hips, great 'A,' and surprises of surprises, (unlike Shrieking Sharapova) actual calves. With her game, that Bod, and that personality, may she blossom. [Oh yeah, just to show my mean-spiritedness: no acne, either, unlike covered-up "cover-girl" Maria.] I think I'll adopt her.

Posted by The Williams Sisters Back To Their Old Tricks 06/05/2007 at 01:54 PM

Was anyone as annoyed as I was by Richard Williams' comment that Venus should not have played -implying that, otherwise, Jankovic would never have won- because of a knee injury that didn't inhibit her to go to Istanbul, of all places, two weeks ago?

And how ungracious (very 'Henin-at-the-2006-Australian Open'-like, actually) was Serena's post-match interview? All Henin had to do was show up? Come on, it obviously wasn't her best match of the year, but is it so hard to acknowledge that Henin is simply the better clay-courter?

I, for one, don't find it surprising that crowds seldomly back the Williams sisters. Maybe, it is their own fault that they have never been the goose.

Posted by Danield 06/05/2007 at 01:55 PM

Samantha--dead-on. Ivanovic is a major "babe" (and I ain't using that in a piggy sense): a bona-fide figure--curves=real hips, great 'A,' and surprises of surprises, (unlike Shrieking Sharapova) actual calves. With her game, that Bod, and that personality, may she blossom. [Oh yeah, just to show my mean-spiritedness: no acne, either, unlike covered-up "cover-girl" Maria.] I think I'll adopt her.

Posted by Danield 06/05/2007 at 02:00 PM

But the W. sisters almost ALWAYS publicly fall back on the old "I lost the match--she, the other, didn't win it." I guess Daddy taught them that.

Posted by Todd and in Charge 06/05/2007 at 02:03 PM

Hey Pete -- I think someone is in love! (and not with Eyeore)...

Posted by MrsSanta 06/05/2007 at 02:04 PM

No one’s asking them to shop together. I’m just amused that they consistently manage to completely avoid each other...see every single Serbian Fed Cup tie.

Someone should call up Jelena Dokic and ask her what her thoughts are on the rise of the Vitches.

Posted by Annabelle 06/05/2007 at 02:13 PM

Thanks for the insights, Pete!

Looks like RG is going the way of Eurovision, the "Big 4" - France, GB, Germany & Spain - have had very little success in recent years. Echoing others here, but if you haven't watched Eurovision - it's a treat! An experience if you will - be sure to have a drink or three whilst viewing! It won't be on again until May next year. Ana and JJ are great and easy to cheer for, but Marija Šerifovic - her performance was a shocker.

Poor ol' Jelena Dokic - what is she up to? Last I heard she was training in Austria.

Posted by just give the trophy to Rafa and be done with it 06/05/2007 at 02:15 PM

eeww Federer vs that Russian guy? What a buzz killer. Mr Boring vs Mr Dull in the semif-inals. Zzzzz!

Posted by RedClaw 06/05/2007 at 02:18 PM

A pretty, happy little article, Pete, I like it...

"So much for the old world, let's celebrate the new. It's always better to live in the light than the dark. "
Nice. :)

Posted by Ruth 06/05/2007 at 02:19 PM

Reminder: Ignore the passing trolls! LOL

Samantha: I don't think that temes would mind at all if you were overjoyed about Justine's win -- and expressed your joy. The only thing that fans of all players -- Roger, Nadal, Serena, Justine et al-- have objected to is the appearance of negative or nasty comments about a favorite, especially right after that favorite has lost an important match. Long live positive joy!

KS: Love that line about Serena ducking because she didn't want to be the goose. I looked at some of the replay, and I saw what I couldn't believe when I read it -- Serena being aced by Henin on clay, Serena putting numerous balls in the net! It was a very poor performance by her and an excellent one by Henin.

Posted by Annabelle 06/05/2007 at 02:28 PM

Sorry, that should be UK, not GB. (my mind is on tennis).

Posted by ptenisnet 06/05/2007 at 02:33 PM

The 3 Vitches. Heeeee!

Posted by Ali C (Allez!) 06/05/2007 at 02:40 PM

Annabelle - "but Marija Šerifovic - her performance was a shocker."

LOL. So true. Shocking in a number of ways. Good voice on her, though.

While watching Eurovision, 'tis best to have a NUMBER of drinks.

For the record, you can re-watch the ESC if you go to the website at www.eurovision.tv and download the plugin.

Think we'll see any more shocking Serbian performances this week? Hoping that Djokokvic pulls one out...

Posted by Pete 06/05/2007 at 02:41 PM

Yeah, Todd, it's Kanga I'm over the moon about!

Posted by Miguel Seabra 06/05/2007 at 02:45 PM

Hey Pete, looks like you're in a good mood! Nice Beaujolais at the press restaurant, eh? Ask Ubaldo what Weird 'All' Jankovic answered him when he asked her in Rome if she had someone in the family coming from Asia...

Posted by frances 06/05/2007 at 02:46 PM

I have to say I was completely disappointed in my favorite girl, Serena. She didn't act like she even wanted to be our there. It was strange. I don't what was going on, but she didn't show up and Henin did. Henin was ready. She didn't hit any spectacular shots or do anything special to beat Serena. Serena was right. With the way she played, all Henin had to do was show up -- and it always seemed that at any moment Henin was ready and willing to raise her game to the next level if necessary -- but she never had to. Serena was uninspired. Moving on, I love Jankovic and Ivanovic. They smile so much and look like they are having fun. Is it something in Serbian water. Unfortunately, I don't see Ivanovic gettign past that one-dimensional, unsportsmanlike, screamer Sharapova. Ivanovic has more shots, skill and talent -- but Sharapova has the will -- especially when she plays the girls ranked below. She might not be able to intimidate the Serenas or the Henins or Mauresmos of the world -- but the other girls fear her. I don't know how to call the JJ - Henin match. I would love to see JJ win, but I just don't know. Jankovic is a retriever with a good backhand. She hasn't played aggressive the whole tournament. She took advantage of Venus' errors and fatigue, and Vaidisova's impatience today. The out of form and out-of-confidence Venus even took a set from her. Henin has offense and defense and confidence. I am fearing the worst people, a Henin/Sharapoval final. The two most unsportsmanlike players on the tour meeting fighting for the trophy. If that happens, let's see who resorts to trickery first when they are down: changing a racket on the other's game point, stalling on your opponent's serve, signaling a ball out when it was in. Horrible. How far away is Wimbledon?

Posted by Todd and in Charge 06/05/2007 at 02:50 PM

I hear ya -- I gave my heart to a Serbian once, about four years ago, to yes, the enchanting Ms. Dokic.

Don't need to tell anyone how that turned out....

Posted by nora 06/05/2007 at 02:51 PM

Pete -- this is not strictly about the women, but since we're dealing with the interviews, can you tell us if Canas or Robredo did post-match interviews?

Federer and Davydenko are up on the RG website interview page, but I'd love to know what Robredo and Canas thought about the matches.

Did they have press conferences, and if they did, were you by any chance able to attend?

Thanks in advance!

Posted by Slice-n-dice 06/05/2007 at 03:01 PM

Cute post, Pete. I go the distinct impression that you wrote much of it with your tongue plantly firmly in your cheek.

As for the "new" world order in tennis... can anyone say "early training on clay courts"? Throw in soccer for a cross-training workout and you get players who can move extraordinarily well, which is the foundation of today's game. It's all about balance and footwork. See "Roger Federer" for more details......

Posted by creig bryan 06/05/2007 at 03:01 PM

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I don't think I had a great practice. My routine was off. I'm very superstitious, and things weren't right, so...That's not why I lost, though. I mean, I've got to get it in my mind that I've got to stop being so superstitious. But, you know, nothing really went right for me this morning, and it just continued on through the match.

A psychic blur enveloped Serena. She is her own worst enemy, when she allows herself these lapses in mentality.

On another note, there is absolutely no way to convince those who characterize Serena's excuses as unsportsmanlike, otherwise.

Only a skeleton key opens a closed mind.

ks

Posted by Slice-n-dice 06/05/2007 at 03:02 PM

BTW... I can't wait to see more of Ana Ivanovic. She's simply adorable. Like Pooh Bear, you want to just give her a big ol' bear hug.

Posted by Ruth 06/05/2007 at 03:05 PM

Miguel: Are you referring to Jelena's comment about the postman or somebody being responsible for her eyes? I remember thinking that I know that she and her mother ar e very close, and I hope Mom has a gereat sense of humor. :)

creig: Of course, I was addressing you when I mentioned your sign off, ks in my earlier post.

Posted by Samantha 06/05/2007 at 03:08 PM

CB, I know what you mean so I have given up the argument. Ruth, a few years ago, Wimbledon changed the seating for Roddick and gave him a higher seating then his actual ranking. I believe if they can do this for him and he has never won a Wimbledon title, then they can give a seating to Venus who is a three time Wimbledon champion. They gave Roddick the seating based on the fact that he made it to the finals the previous year.

Posted by Rsquared 06/05/2007 at 03:08 PM

Boy, Frances's post gets right down to it. Anything but a S and S French final! Im picking Jankovic to win the whole thing. But Frances is right. If an off-form Venus took a set off her on the elder Williams sister's worst surface, how is JJ to fare against the Queen of Clay? My hope is that she'll be fired up to get the win against JHH that has eluded her. Go JJ! Move like the wind!

Heidi makes a good point: Why should we expect two two young Serbs to be friends. And do these journalists ask the same pointed personal questions of the male players? How boring.

Posted by Slice-n-dice 06/05/2007 at 03:16 PM

frances,

I cannot find fault with your reasoning or predictions. As uch as I enjoy Henin's game, I cannot stomach her gamesmanship or attitude (not to mention snarl). I simply refuse to watch Sharapova, unless she's being dismantled by Serena. But I'm getting pretty tired of Serena's excuses that masquerade as rationale. She's a great player who, on occasion, lets the warrior out of the box. But her pressers are unberable.

I am hoping that Ivanovic can silence the doubters and beat Sharapova with an inspired performance and crowd support. Then we'd have a final I can sink my teeth into.

Go JJ! Go AI! Go Serbia!

Posted by Ruth 06/05/2007 at 03:16 PM

"On another note, there is absolutely no way to convince those who characterize Serena's excuses as unsportsmanlike, otherwise." (creig bryan)

You're so right, Creig. I learned that a long time ago. But, can you imgaine the shouts of "liar," delusional," et al we'd be hearing if Serena said, "I can't imagine how I lost when I played so hard and so well, better than I've ever played in my life"? I think that players should always tell the truth about their performance, whether good or bad,and not have to worry about being called arrogant or unsportsmanlike or whatever for doing so.

Posted by Ali C (Allez!) 06/05/2007 at 03:17 PM

Speaking of Eurovision, I'm watching the Serbian song right now...

And giggling. A lot.

Posted by Myskina+Trains=Tolstoy 06/05/2007 at 03:23 PM

"And do these journalists ask the same pointed personal questions of the male players? How boring."

No, because hatred among female rivals is so much more entertaining.


=>from Myskina's post-match interview:

Q. Do the other women players show sympathy for you? Do they say, you know, they understand and feel badly for your problems?

ANASTASIA MYSKINA: You know, all of them smile to me. So it's nice. But you never know what they say behind your back.

Posted by MariAnne 06/05/2007 at 03:23 PM

Dismal, disappointing, and deflated lack of effort by Serena. Never thought she'd pull a Gaudio. From the very first break of serve her attitude stunk. At least try. Even Hewitt, who Nadal spanked for two sets, found a way to sink his teeth into Nadal's piratas for a close final set tiebreaker.

Posted by Ali C (Allez!) 06/05/2007 at 03:24 PM

Yeah, but Ruth and CB, the point I've been making on the other thread is that it IS a bit delusional to say "I lost the match and all Justine had to do was show up."

We all know Justine is very capable of playing terribly and not hitting her shots (uh, serves today, maybe?), so to say that she had no hand in winning is just untrue. This could easily have been a total mess of a match (cf Maria-Patty the other day), but Justine kept her head and played it out.

Sure, Serena didn't play well. Good to admit that. But give some credit to the opponent - she did show up, and she did play well. Even if it's a throwaway line and you don't believe it, at least say it. That's all.

Posted by Annabelle 06/05/2007 at 03:24 PM

:-) Ali C. Oh, forgive me. I didn't even mean it like that! Marija Šerifovic's performance just wasn't the lively, over-the-top-tacky show, well, "Eurovision" spectacular I was hoping for, e.g. in the manner of the Ukraine (thought he'd win for sure) or the UK, which faired rather poorly. I think it must have been one of the worst years yet. Don't think any'll make it into the charts.

I agree with you on the drinkies!! Absolutely. Have you tried the Eurovision Drinking Game? (hard to remember all the points, but basically drink a couple of fingers every time Sir Terry Wogan (or host of your choice) says "oh, get out the map" during voting (empty glass if Ireland & France give the UK 0 pts), hostess changes her dress, someone wears a white suit, host trying to read country's voting results and have a chit-chat is cut off by local hosts.... gotta love it!

Go Ana! Go JJ! Go Djoko!

PS Eurovision is not like Idol at all, for starters, the songs have to be original.

Posted by JTContinental 06/05/2007 at 03:26 PM

Even though I long ago drank the Venus Kool-Aid, Jelena Jankovic is rapidly becoming my second favorite player on the women's tour.

Posted by johnstonB 06/05/2007 at 03:26 PM

quote
"eeww Federer vs that Russian guy? What a buzz killer. Mr Boring vs Mr Dull in the semif-inals. Zzzzz!"

ITA. It doesn't get any more boring than that.


Ruth
"Reminder: Ignore the passing trolls!"

What trolls?

Posted by Myskina+Trains=Tolstoy 06/05/2007 at 03:47 PM

Wise decision, as I think the Venus kool aid has turned to vinegar. She just looks old, glum, and disinterested whenever she takes the court now.

Posted by frances 06/05/2007 at 03:53 PM

Slice and Dice, you made me laugh with your Sharapova line. Thanks. I needed that after Serena's performance. But I disagree with you about her presser. Everyone saw the match. Henin didn't have to do much to beat her, and that's not taking anything away from Henin (who I despise -- even though I don't know her personnally). The fact is that my second favorite player behind Venus, Serena, did not show up and my least favorite player, Henin, did show up. All credit to Henin. She was ready. But that doesn't change what happened, and I didn't hear Serena give any excuses in her press conference. She didn't say she was injured. She didn't say she was tired. She didn't say the crowd distracted her. She didn't say her shorts were too tight. She said she stunk, and she did. We all saw it. As a matter of fact, she kept saying she didn't know what happened -- that doesn't sound like an excuse to me.

Go AI and JJ!

Posted by Ali C (Allez!) 06/05/2007 at 03:54 PM

Annabelle,

I was really bummed when the Swiss Vampire song didn't make it into the Final. I thought they had a sure top ten song there. Alas, Eastern European bloc voting strikes again...

No drinking games for the past couple of years for me. My friends and I did a lot of dressing up, though. Last year was dressing up as the Union Jack; this year, my fingernails were painted in the colours of the Moldovan flag...

Posted by Glarange 06/05/2007 at 03:55 PM

Wow, that's pretty mean to Kuze. "she pulled a muscle, who cares? she perspires!" As usual, gushing praises to the winners and moral chastising of the losers. Says Pete, "She has no will, can't step up, queen of the second tier etc etc." Can't it be Ivanovic just had a better day? Of course, all of this is handed from the comfort of the booth or couch.

And of course, if you want a more even-keeled approach, go read Tignor or Wertheim!

Posted by Zola 06/05/2007 at 03:59 PM

Marie Ann
***Dismal, disappointing, and deflated lack of effort by Serena. Never thought she'd pull a Gaudio. From the very first break of serve her attitude stunk. At least try. Even Hewitt, who Nadal spanked for two sets, found a way to sink his teeth into Nadal's piratas for a close final set tiebreaker. ***

very true. Serena was a very different player from the Serena in AO. I disagree with "bad day in office". that's not the mentality of a winner. It just shows that lack of consistency is being accepted as "normal". She could have make an effort. Hewitt was a very good example. He showed that he was a fighter and made Rafa play much better in the third set. The way Serena played today as she said herself, "Justine had to just show up". what a shame!

Posted by Zola 06/05/2007 at 04:15 PM

I like how Jelena can get excited about her game..."if I serve better, who knows what I can do to this girls!!!...." then serve better Jelena....don't wait! She reminds me of Djoko a bit. Maybe Ana is a bit more modest.

You can also call this a Spanish RG, as half the players in the mens semis will be from Spain.

About Rafa's playstation gang, I think there is friendship between Spanish speaking players. Also the way they support one another is amazing. I have never seen that with other players. I have also heard Rafa practicing with other players (Youzhny, Hewitt, Davydenko). Imagine what happens if American tennis players support their younger ones, the way the Spanish players do . take them to the tournaments, play doubles with them and hang out with them. but that is never going to happen. I think it is a completely different culture.

Posted by Kathy 06/05/2007 at 04:16 PM

Pardon me for digressing, but...

>When Kuznetsova won the US Open in 2004, she found herself staring at a big window to establish her self as a top player, what with Maria Sharapova still green, Henin virally afflicted, Kim Clijsters willing to step down - instead of up - on nearly every big occasion, and Venus and Serena holding aloft the skull of Yoric, deep in a conversation that would last some years.<

"Holding aloft the skull of Yoric"?

Priceless. Whatever they pay you, it ain't enough.

Posted by Ahyen 06/05/2007 at 04:21 PM

The only positive thing about it is she admitted it. No excuses for Serena, she owned up to the horrendous showing. I think she wanted to fight back. She tried to fight back. But when she saw her returns dumping into the net way too many times, she faltered. I don't think Justin's camp should be offended by what she said to the press. That's how she felt and I am pretty sure she'll do everything not to let this happen again. And when she does, we'll be all the more fortunate to see a higher quality of tennis from her.

Congrats to all the semi-finalists....

Posted by GSte 06/05/2007 at 04:29 PM

I am SO down for an all-Serbian final!

I can't believe many experts expected Vaidisova to trouble Jankovic more than Venus, who moves better. Jankovic did just what I thought; she bunted back Vaidisova's forceful groundstrokes until Nicole was out of position, and then Jelena went for the winner.

Ivanovic/Kuznetsova: Ivanovic played quite well, but I don't like seeing Sveta lose so badly.

Serena/Henin: Serena was sloppy and slow today. She made many errors in points that she controlled, and Henin played better (but not great). There was no real drama to this match, and I was expecting another epic. Oh well...hopefully they'll meet a few more times this year.

Sharapova/Chakvetadze: I only saw a few points of the match, but it looks like Chakvetadze didn't do enough to throw Sharapova off her game. The jury is still out on Chakvetadze, but she's not going to be winning slams or other tier 1 titles (she won Moscow) anytime soon.


I think Jankovic is very confident and has a great shot at finally beating Henin. Yes, she could have a meltdown again, but she has taken Henin to 3 sets every time. If Ivanovic plays well, she will beat Sharapova. Ivanovic has a bigger serve and bigger forehand, can volley, and sometimes throw in a nice slice. The only things Sharapova does better are a) the backhand, and b) she's more consistent. However, Ivanovic has been really consistent this week. Hopefully she'll show her potential and stomp the shrieker.

Ajde Ana! Ajde Jelena! Ajde Serbian tennis!

-by the way, I've read in the last year or so (and I'm sure this purely speculation by the journos) that one reason why Jankovic and Ivanovic aren't really friends is because of competition. They both rose up at about the same time, they both have top-player games, and they are the only top female players from their country. I've read that Jankovic, who loves the spotlight, is a little jealous about the attention that Ivanovic receives for her looks. While Ivanovic doesn't shy away from the spotlight, she's no Sharapova with the endless advertising and self-promotion. Jankovic didn't really get noticed as a future face in tennis until she started beating top players. After Ivanovic jumped up from the 400's to the 100's by the beginning of '05, experts were already tagging her as a future top player, while Jankovic was more of an unknown, even though she was top 50 at the time. Maybe that's why. Anyway, should they meet for the FO title, you can bet we'll have a new, frosty rivalry in women's tennis. I'll be looking forward to it!

Posted by frances 06/05/2007 at 04:30 PM

Agreed Ahyen.

But oh God please let Ivanovic find a spine and beat Sharapova. The thought of seeing her ridiculously immature, unsightly father screaming in her guest box, while two girls hit a ball back and forth over the net...I can't even finish the sentence. It's too depressing to contemplate...

Posted by Tari 06/05/2007 at 04:30 PM

What? Justine didn't have to do much to beat Serena? Unbelievable. I think I need to go clean my contacts and maybe watch this again...in the match I just watched (recorded it), I believed I saw Henin play a beautiful match. Huh.

Posted by Ahyen 06/05/2007 at 04:32 PM

"Imagine what happens if American tennis players support their younger ones, the way the Spanish players do."

I don't know about that. The Americans are way too individualistic (is that a word?) The only time they think together is when they all couldn't make it to the second week of a Slam.

But how about, the women hitting against each other? I guess the men are friendlier to each other than the women are. Does anyone know of any top women practicing with each other?

Posted by Slice-n-dice 06/05/2007 at 04:39 PM

Yeah, I'm of the thinking that Henin not only showed up, she showed up with the determination to win. Serena showed up also, but without the fire and fight we've seen from here in the past. That she didn't make explicit excuses is not to say that she didn't have a pocketful to fall back on. In her mind, she has accepted it. I cannot fault her for that, really, as she knows herself best. But I suppose I expect a bit more from a warrior. After all, she was playing for a semifinal berth against either Jankevic or Vaidisova, and she didn't bring it. That said, Henin played beautifully, moved bueatifully, and kept her eye on the prize. I must hand it to her.

Posted by Ali C (Allez!) 06/05/2007 at 04:43 PM

Yeah, they hit together a bit, is my understanding.

Before RG2006, Justine and Sveta were practicing together. Can't think of any other examples off the top of my head, but I'm sure it happens, esp. for those players who can't afford to bring along their own practice partner.

Posted by Sam 06/05/2007 at 04:43 PM

GSte: JJ has the game to beat Henin, and all of their matches have been close. But do you really think that she can come through in a match of this magnitude, on Henin's best surface? I don't.

Saw an interview with Ivanovic on TTC last night. She seemed sort of sweet and shy, and mentioned that she didn't like playing with dolls as a kid - she wanted to play tennis. Very cute. I'd like to see her reach the final, but getting past the more seasoned Sharapova will not be an easy task.

Posted by patrick 06/05/2007 at 04:47 PM

Gste,
Correct on Jankovic getting lack of recognition until her resurgence(after a 10 match losing streak and ready to retire) by beating top players while Ivanovic was getting the future star label when she entered the top 100. Now, both of them are in the top 10(probably both in top 5 after RG).

Posted by vanfan 06/05/2007 at 04:49 PM

So cute this line: "play with the kittens before they grow the claws of the Big Cats",

I'm totally into an all Serbian final, with Jelena the eventual victor.

Go Serbia. and Go Novak.

Posted by Sam 06/05/2007 at 04:50 PM

Slice-n-dice: Agree with your assessment of the match. Serena seemed flat (not moving well, missing shots when she had good court position). She used the slice backhand quite a bit (by her standards), which seemed curious. Henin displayed the shotmaking, variety, and movement of a champion, and demonstrated why she's such a force on clay. She was able to offset her low first serve percentage with the other components of her game. My favorite shot was a backhand volley lob hit over Serena during the first set.

Posted by SanjaVIC 06/05/2007 at 05:15 PM

Ah Pete now I'm feeling much more chipper!!

If you are going to show up SHOW UP BIG!

Go VIC'S!

Posted by Bob 06/05/2007 at 05:16 PM

Serena was as "gracious" as ever in defeat. She didn't play that badly. She served at 70%, and only had 22 unforced errors, most of those coming because she knew she had to hit great shots to get the ball by Justine, who was really moving superbly. Justine had 22 unforced errors herself, and although she didn't serve a high percentage, she won 22 of 26 of her first serve points. Justine is just too good at returning and getting balls back. She always has more breaks than any other player. She really didn't need to extend herself today, but she kept the ball deep and threw in variety like nobody else has, and whenever she got the short ball, that inside our forehand was deadly.

Serena will never move on the clay, whereas Justine is the most beautiful player I've ever seen in the modern game, especially on the clay.

I frankly think Jankovic is the second best clay player, but don't think she can beat Justine on PC court in a semifinal. Justine has lots of weapons she never had to use today, and players like Justine and Serena have the ability to deal with slam semifinal pressure much more than this crop of great young women. Unless Justine is off her game, she has too many weapons for anyone in this slam, and she's hitting the ball pretty well.

That said, Justine has never beaten JJ in two sets, and it's not a win until it's won. Her 31 set record streak is on the line, but I do expect straight sets over JJ on this immense stage.

I hope Ivanovic can keep from getting nervous and take out Sharapova, who is here because of an incredibly easy draw.

Go Justine!

Posted by Sam 06/05/2007 at 05:33 PM

Bob: Good to see you back. Let's hope Justine can complete the 3-peat this weekend!

Posted by Bob 06/05/2007 at 05:47 PM

Thanks, Sam. I think she will, but it won't be easy. Jankovic is a great defensive player who also has quite a bit of variety, and I expect her to use it, and her down the line backhand is deadly. Her serve is nothing much, but we'll have to see if Justine can attack her second serve. She served at 77% today, so there isn't much to attack, in any event.

Justine's second serve is superb, and she needs it, with that first serve percentage in the 40's she's been having. She won 48% of the points on her second serve today, which is pretty good against Serena, and considering her double faults.

I think Jankovic will feel the pressure, but in her favor, she's not a player who goes for too much, so it won't be a case of her trying to hit winners from everywhere. I personally think Justine will pick up her aggression and start going for more shots, since Jankovic is such a good mover and defensive player, and also that Justine will come in more, but not if she's winning from the baseline, and she is awfully hard to beat from the baseline at RG.

That they've all been three setters shows she can win, but not if Justine is aggressive and hitting her shots. Ivanovic is the type of player who would go for broke in a final, and if she's on, she could be very dangerous, but the pressure factor is a huge plus for Justine. She's the queen of this court, and you can really see her confidence.

Jankovic has played so much in the past year that she is certainly more match-tough, but Justine has had five matches now, so should be ready. I like Jankovic. She never comes up with imaginary injuries, and plays almost every event; and it shows in her game. Justine will need to beat her. She won't beat herself.

Posted by Pat Kernan 06/05/2007 at 06:02 PM

Quite glad to see Jelena and Ana both in the semis, and on opposite sides of the draw. This could make for a huge story and a great match. They both get the ball through the court so scarily well that I'll get up real early Saturday to watch live.

Was also picking Sveta after JJ. Really thought this was her best chance in a while to nab that second slam :/

Hard to call the Henin JJ match. If LBTC clocks Serena 4 and 3, then she's peaking, no matter what either player said in the postmatch. Maria gon go down 2 and 4.

Posted by mici 06/05/2007 at 06:04 PM

Hey guys:

1.serana-henin match: what was serna thinking? I don't get it........!!!!!!!! and why didn't any one ask her in the preser?

WHAT WAS THE SLICE BH TACTIC ABOUT. I understand trying to beal opnent rethem but usually it isn't great idea when the other player also have a great slice. it works great v 2 hnd bh but just have 1 hand bh in addision to having good slice.

In addision from what I have seen from serna, she doesn't react weel in a seage matlty like she feels in paris, I fell like she becomes that girl in the stroy she told that now one pick to play the game, she seemed in her sale but not in a good way, like she was thinking to much.

IF I compar it to shrpove in the sthdyer match when the crowed started boing she really didn't care, she was doing when she usually does, and like I said it made me :D, becouse it was like her, her dad and the other guy, and she didn't give a dam.

2.I glad that Ana I won, you can see she improved on clay. but like I saod few days ago, I see her losing to shrpove, she did maria a fevore like I tought she will, and I see maria in the final

3. If JJ can keep her head street she should beat henin, in their last mettings she was the beat player, only to chock, she can't lat this happen again.

Pete, do you know who is that famorus football player is? stoycovic, he was 1 of the best footballers ever to play the game I am glad he is likeing tennis.


Posted by Pat Kernan 06/05/2007 at 06:08 PM

: ]]

Posted by Samantha 06/05/2007 at 06:15 PM

Hey Bob, great to have you back. Great analysis of the match. And I couldn't agree more about Sharapova's draw. All the good players are knocking each other out while she has been blessed with an easy draw. You compare the players that Justine has to beat to make it to the final and then look at Sharapova. Also, as you said, Justine is the better player on the clay. Welcome back, stick around to cheer Justine on. It will be a tough match, but Justine will fight like never before. And Tim, I'm sorry if I gave you such a hard time this morning. You must be happy Canas is gone. Go Justine!

Posted by Samantha 06/05/2007 at 06:17 PM

Oh almost forgot,Tim thanks for the kind word on Juju.

Posted by mici 06/05/2007 at 06:24 PM

I forgot:

I think all is not lost for the us, brithen and aus in the men, in the women after the wilams sister I see problem for the us, and brithen and aus don't have women tennis.

Brithen espclly have brit futur with andy Murry just not on clay, I can see murray winning wimbeldon in fed isn't there.

Roddick is still young you never know, and he as does balke will always have a chance in the us open, it's only 1 man in their way I fell, they can beat the rest of the fild. and roddick is always will have a chance in SW19 even when he is mauch older becouse most of the others can't reurne his serve and if they can't return it thay will have it hard to beat him on grass.

aus, after hewitt is in truble, I give hewitt another 3 year to hang around to see if the draw and everything works his way, after that is will be hard for him he is alredy slower now then he used to be, in 3 year I can't see him even coming close playing the way he does.

Posted by Ahyen 06/05/2007 at 06:38 PM

You got it, mici. Right on the money... When I was watching serena match, I was thinking, why is she using that awkward BH slice? That was a clear sign of desperation.

Justin will go all the way... She'll take it to Jelena right from the getgo. Her toughest opponent was Serena and it should be smooth sailing for her onward.

Posted by Matt Zemek 06/05/2007 at 07:13 PM

BOB!

It's been entirely too long.

When Carillo and Enberg provided the typical biographical details about Justine's late mom and distant dad, I thought of you.

Now, here you are!

It's feeling like 2006 on this blog again. Nancy J's Street Fighter versus "Bob's Justine of America."

I LOVE IT!

We're dissecting the moods of the Williamses, griping about Sharpie, and lamenting the fate of the Kooze.

The more things change, the more they stay the same: a statement the French like to make a lot.

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