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Triangle: Sveta, Marat, Roger 06/06/2009 - 3:21 PM

Svetaby Pete Bodo

Roger Federer may not have that elusive Roland Garros title in hand just yet, but according to Svetlana Kuznetsova, he gets an assist for the one she won today, as she derailed Dinara Safina's drive to validate her world no. 1 ranking by taking her first Grand Slam title in three appearances in major finals.

And, in a bizarre turn of irony that even Kuznetsova acknowledges, you can also dole out an assist to another man - the brother of the woman whose dreams she shattered today.

Kuznetsova won in a blowout, 6-4, 6-2 that left Safina barely able to wallow through her runner-up speech in a monosyllabic monotone. But in all fairness, it was her misfortune to play one of the most talented and mercurial players of top pros - one who had faced and overcome the challenges Safina has had such trouble navigating as she's become a contender at majors: finding just the right balance between aggression and prudence, between being emotionally too high and emotionally too low, between self-belief and humility. Kuznetsova passed her trial by fire when she won the U.S. Open singles title in 2004.

In retrospect, that massive if seemingly premature dose of success turned out to be a mixed blessing for Kuznetsova; today, she finally got to enjoy the upside of all she's been through. She handled the climate of the final like she was designed for it: sure-handed, determined, focused. Kuznetsova took command of the match early and put loads of pressure on her opponent. "She (Dinara) must learn to deal with this," she would say in a more private setting after her official presser. "But it's hard and I can feel for her, but you have to do it."

But it was about her own downside that the new Roland Garros champion was most articulate when she sat before the world press, wearing a white sports jacket with some sort of sparkles embedded in the fabric, her streaked blonde hair still pulled back in that pony tail that may be the perfect symbol of her makeover. And that's a transformation that may be deep-reaching.

We don't like to put too much stock in appearances, but sometimes they tell us a great deal. And for long periods in the interim since Sveta won that first major in New York, she seemed oblivious to how she looked, to the point that she sometimes seemed disheveled, unprepared, unprofessional. This mattered because the carelessness and the lack of self-respect that it implied showed in her patchy, undisciplined game - and her results. And while the implications of all this may be discomfiting, it's undeniable that tennis players, especially top players, are generally very fastidious about their appearance and, if anything, overly conscious of style, grooming, and fashion. Their workplace, after all, is in the public eye.

This isn't the most comfortable issue for anyone, including Kuznetsova. When she was asked if it was true that she had no contract with Fila (whose garment she wears), she just replied, "No comment." How can you blame her?  Wouldn't you feel a little hurt if you were, like Kuznetsova, a perennial Top 5 player, and nobody thought enough of your overall talent and appeal to offer you a contract?

Safina Anyway, let's return to the downside, rolling the calendar back to a little over 12 months ago. After she lost in Rome, Kuznetsova left for Moscow, which disappointed her coaches at the Sanchez-Casals Tennis Academy. She told them she didn't want to train; furthermore, she didn't want to return to Spain. She was discontented, and so deeply that over the following months there were times when she wanted to quit tennis. "I never felt it," she remembered, "But I said it."

One of the people she said that to was her friend and confidant, Marat Safin. "I said, 'Marat,' I don't know, maybe I should not play. He said, 'Okay, are you crazy or what? You have unbelievable opportunities. You just have to play.'"

Kuznetsova says that was the worst period for her, and it lasted for most of last year. She really felt the urge to move back to Russia, to Moscow, a longing that panicked some of her acquaintances and advisers. "I had so many people telling me, you won't be able to play here (Moscow), you won't be able to train here, because it's too much information; it's too much destruction, too much night life, or whatever."

Kuznetsova lost in the first round at the Olympic Games in Beijing; given her deeply-felt and oft-expressed patriotism, it was a devastating blow. She lingered at the Olympics, and one day took a gaggle of Russian female basketball players to see the tennis. At the facility, they saw Roger Federer and appealed to Sveta to get Federer to pose for a picture with them.

Sveta rolled her eyes, just remembering the incident. "You know how I love Roger," she said, "and I never came to him myself to ask for a picture. But it's easier to do something like that for other people so I did go to him. And I was looking at him and he was looking at me and he said, 'What do you want?' "

When Sveta told him, he said, 'Sure, no problem,' and posed with the girls. He also had a 10-minute talk with Kuznetsova - the first conversation she'd ever had with the icon. She told him about the terrible time she was having making a decision about where to live, and she says he told her: "Look, it's up to you. You can only depend on yourself. You can control it. If you can live in Moscow and concentrate, do this. If you cannot. . .  only you can judge, you know."

Only you can judge. . . somehow, those words, she says, made that light bulb go on over her head. Of course! With the advice ringing in her ears, from a source she so admired, Kuznetsova made her final decision to re-locate for good at the end of the year. She returned to Moscow and began to work hard; soon she hired a new coach; fittingly enough, it was the Billie Jean King of women's pro tennis in Russia, Olga Morozova. Although the relationship did not last (Morozova has since been replaced by former doubles specialist Larissa Savchenko), Kuznetsova gave Morozova, along with Savchenko, significant credit for her win today.

Kuznetsova's friendship with Marat introduces a strange element in this saga, and one that may seem not entirely fair to Dinara. But Kuznetsova sees no reason for Safina to feel threatened or uncomfortable about her closeness with Marat. "There are many, many more tournaments, and she (Dinara) works very hard, she will win it one day. But it's true, me and Marat, we're similar - we hang out a lot, we talk about serious stuff. We go to places - I don't even want to get into what kind of places. . .

"So maybe I am more like him than is Dinara, yet she looks unbelievable like him. She walks like him, her backhand is like Marat's, her hands. . . I don't think she has pressure because of him. She is No. 1 now and anyway I always say pressure is something that just you can put on yourself. So Marat and I, we still friends. He help me a lot last year, with agents and stuff. And he texted me after the match, 'Congratulations.'"

Like some of the best Russian novels, Kuznetsova's personal history is a complex narrative simmering with psycho-dramatic undertones. I don't know about Roger - he seems to have a typically Swiss appreciation for the cut-and-dried. But Marat, now there's a guy who understands. It's quite a triangle.

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Posted by crazyone 06/06/2009 at 03:31 PM

I guess the awkward bit about the whole thing is that Marat has come off, in public at least, as somewhat indifferent to his sister's successes, while she idolizes him greatly.

"We go to places - I don't even want to get into what kind of places. . ."

heh, so curious :-P

One of the big contrasts between Kuznetsova and Safina is the former's independence on court...Kuznetsova has done well both with and without a coach, and her coach is more of a friend and confidence builder rather than the be-all end-all that Zeljko Krajan seems to be for Dinara Safina. The slams don't allow on-court barring rain delays, Dinara needs to figure out how to adapt entirely on her own.

Posted by mcakron 06/06/2009 at 03:48 PM

Enjoyed the article. And kudos to the Kuz for her perseverence.

And agree with CL's larger point about court independence. Some of these girls seemingly can't eat a banana or grab an energy bar on a changeover without first clearing it with their coach. And more often than not it seems some father-figure type in the stands.

Posted by mcakron 06/06/2009 at 03:49 PM

Sorry, meant C1.

Posted by Ro'ee 06/06/2009 at 03:49 PM

Good one, Pete
kinda weird having u post by Euro time
anyway, it reminded me of when Sveta was playing Vaidisova in the semis a few years back (how the would-be-mighty have fallen).
Eurosport was interviewing TMF, and they asked him who his favorite 4 the women's title was. he said Kuznetsova.
they go on with the interview and they tell him Vaidisova's a set and a break (or was she serving for it?), and who does he pick for the title now. he says "Kuznetsova".
a minute later vaidisova had her meltdown.

Posted by Gaston 06/06/2009 at 03:54 PM

Loved the piece, the little complexities of human relations. Wayyy better than just hitting a ball.

Posted by Andrew 06/06/2009 at 03:56 PM

Nice article.

I think Dinara Safina will win her first GS title when her brother's in the stands. Not sure if that ought to matter, but I think it does.

Posted by Pspace 06/06/2009 at 03:56 PM

Thanks Pete. The Marat angle was new to me. But, I don't really follow Kuznetsova that closely. Not sure I get why it's a triangle involving Federer. Seems more like a triangle with Dinara. Well, put Rog in any story and it turns into a total square ;-).

Anyways, congrats to Kuznetsova. It was a long time coming. I'm sure Dinara will have her time one day.

Posted by C$ 06/06/2009 at 03:57 PM

Good read.

Posted by sally 06/06/2009 at 03:58 PM

how interesting, i didn't know any of that. great read, pete.

Posted by mcakron 06/06/2009 at 03:58 PM

Interesting prediction, Andrew. It's weird. Always liked the combustible Marat but he seems to have a begrudging attitude toward his sister.

Posted by Philip 06/06/2009 at 04:01 PM

I am glad that Kuznetsova has exorcised some of her demons, I guess you could say, but I am equally, if not more, intrigued by the narrative going on in Safina's head. When she could be heard on court saying "why am I such a chicken?" my heart dropped down into my stomach and I realized that this is more than about playing a tennis match for Safina. What is it about the grand slam tournaments that they can be such a measure of a person's self-worth beyond what is normally reasonable in any one else`s daily life? I`m not so sure it isn`t an issue for Federer either, as evidenced by his emotional `breakdowns` and he has 13. I used to think of a grand slam title as an object to own, but it is really about the core being of the person being transformed by the occasion and we really can`t understand how that happens for the individual player until we learn about the background issues that articles like this make us aware of.

Posted by Pica_pica(Ajde Noleee!) 06/06/2009 at 04:04 PM

Nice piece of story. I have suddenly learned a lot about Sveta.

Posted by crazyone 06/06/2009 at 04:18 PM

OK, I have to ask: if this was an issue that came up in Miami, why did Rafa play Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome, Madrid, and RG? Surely cutting out Barcelona and either of Monte Carlo (which is not a required tournament) or Madrid would have been sensible. The scheduling decisions of the Nadal camp have always hugely confused me. Ranking points aren't as important as maintaining health and peaking for the slams. When you win the Australian Open, and in the previous year won the French Open and the Wimbledon I would think the priority would be trying to achieve the calendar year grand slam...not trying to win as many back-to-back clay tourneys as possible.

I hope he's healthy enough to play in Wimbledon, and skips Hamburg or whatever afterwards. Not worth it.

And I didn't like Federer playing Paris+TMC+exhibitions (especially the exhibitions) with his back injury either.

Posted by crazyone 06/06/2009 at 04:18 PM

er, I'm really sorry, I totally posted that on the wrong thread.

Posted by Or 06/06/2009 at 04:29 PM

Yes, I'm with crazyone here.

If this was a problem that started in Miami, Rafa can only blame his issues on the bad advice from his camp. It got progressively worse and yet he kept on playing? Not Smart at all.

Does he want his career to end at 24 or 25, or does he want a chance to break some serious records?

Posted by Or 06/06/2009 at 04:29 PM

BTW, Marat sent Sveta 'congrats'.

Ouch, poor Dina. Maybe Sveta should have kept it to herself.

Posted by Bobby 06/06/2009 at 04:31 PM

Very interesting stuff. I read Kuz's presser and read about Marat, but I didn't realize they were friends and all that. Anyway I feel terrible for Safina, but I'm happy for Kuz. Hopefully Safina will win one of her own soon enough.

Posted by Gigi 06/06/2009 at 04:38 PM

I enjoyed reading that, Pete. The little side stories are always fun. Well done, Sveta. Gracious and classy afterwards as always.

Posted by Markic 06/06/2009 at 04:43 PM

Fascinating and somewhat spicy article Pete - thanks for all the really interesting stuff from Paris.

I hate to play amateur psychologist, but... it's like Dinara's projecting her desperate desire for approval from her brother onto her coach. She spent more time looking up at Zeljko Krajan today than she did watching the ball. I think she's giving him too much credit in the relationship: it's true he's brought a lot to her game, but if she's to have the confidence on the biggest stage, she needs to realise she's the one who goes out when the pressure's on and wins the matches; by contrast, Kuzie looked as relaxed as we've ever seen her. Here's hoping it's the second of many slams for her.

Posted by olive 06/06/2009 at 04:47 PM

why can't they all be friends? seems normal. dinara, sveta and marat seem quite normal considering their talents actually. when it's on the court you can go for the axe, but off the court you and your opponent relax together.

some champions, unfortunately for them, need to hate their opponents on and off the court to get the job done. it doesn't diminish that they are champions, but it is not a necessary requirement of being a champion. and this just proves it.

there seems to be no issue of loyalty. it's cool!

and sometimes it takes advice from someone who you admire and not from someone you know to get to the bottom of an issue. how fortunate for her she had the guts to spill her guts to federer. sounds sweet!

i hope she stops chocking. maybe marat will punish her and not take her out in moscow (not that she really needs marat).

just curious if you have ever written a piece about a man's appearance and his results.

mary pierce, davydenko and kuznetsova had/have a tough time clothing deals so strange. why? i mean, it is so weird!

Posted by olive 06/06/2009 at 04:48 PM

i mean "with clothing deals" it came off like closing deals ( and that's true to ).

Posted by Mr. and Mrs. D. 06/06/2009 at 04:50 PM

"it's too much destruction, too much night life, or whatever."

I read this in her presser as well...I assume she meant 'distraction' not 'destruction' about the pitfalls of training in moscow.

btw, didn't I read here a while back that sveta was with marat when he got the black eye....must have been at one of those 'kind of places':)

Posted by Samantha Elin, Soderling has friends. 06/06/2009 at 05:05 PM

Here is an excerpt from a player's recent presser after she loses. "She wasn't so aggressive as she usually be. I just didn't do anything." Q. "You basically beat yourself?" A. "I lost to myself." Interesting is my only comment.

Posted by Fudoshin 06/06/2009 at 05:08 PM

Pete, thanks for a good post. Kuznetsova has always been one of my favorites, and I understand what she must have gone through the last few years. She is tremendously talented and deserves better success had it not been all those negative thoughts. Hopefully she has sorted things out, and the path from hence forth is upward.

Posted by Mr. and Mrs. D. 06/06/2009 at 05:08 PM

"Interesting is my only comment"

You posted about this earlier on the other post, Samantha. Does it count as your ONLY comment if you continually post it?

Posted by greenhopper 06/06/2009 at 05:08 PM

Very nice piece about Sveta, Pete.

Two things really suprised me about the final today,
- Dinara muttering "Why am I such a chiken?"
(which I mis-heard earlier)
- Sveta in an interview with Mary C, "I didn't think it will come so soon."

That to me says it all. One is looking for a win to validate herself, the other is just enjoying herself without worrying about winning. I really hope Dinara figures out her emotional issues some day.

Posted by MikeDC 06/06/2009 at 05:08 PM

Really interesting write-up, thanks!

I had not thought about the link from Sveta's disheveled appearance and her results... but it does make sense. It was especially more strange because (as I think Pete pointed out), Sveta looks good off court in non-tennis settings. This tournament however, the first match I saw of her (against Serena).. she just looked cleaner, a bit trimmer, and all together more put together. Can't prove there's a link to the win... but who knows.

Great to hear that she and Marat go to "places"... should a night out boozing with Sveta and Marat be an award in some contest one day?

Posted by Samantha Elin, Soderling has friends. 06/06/2009 at 05:09 PM

Forgot to add, a few days ago, Serena was called out immediately and rightly so for the same kind of presser.

Posted by Pspace 06/06/2009 at 05:10 PM

Samantha, thanks for bringing that up. Raises a larger issue that we were discussing yesterday. Why are these athletes required to give pressers after a tough loss? Can't one just let them be sad in peace? Maybe have a commitment to do a presser at the next tournament or such like. I mean, seriously, you go through a terrible time...and ppl wanna know how you feel? Meh!

Posted by Heidi 06/06/2009 at 05:11 PM

On the road but still watching tennis! Sveta's press conf was really good and I'm glad you commented on it here, Pete. I hope she can carry this belief forward to the US Open, but it was unbelievable how humble she was in the iterview on court with MC. That she can't wish for another major, was that what she said, because she's won her best two? Oy. Not exactly a killer! But a good, strong player and a charming personality. With no clothing deal. Oy, she's the Davydenko of the WTA.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Soderling has friends. 06/06/2009 at 05:12 PM

Mr. and Mrs D, in the interest of fair play, I'm waiting for someone else to comment on it as was done with Serena. So I most certainly did post it twice. Play fair!

Posted by Samantha Elin, Soderling has friends. 06/06/2009 at 05:15 PM

Your welcome Pspace.

Posted by tommy 06/06/2009 at 05:15 PM

I think all players choke at times. Serena was up 3-1 in the 3rd against Sveta and lost 6 of the last 8 games this week. Serena was up a set and 4-2 in the Olympics and lost 9 straight games to Dementieva. Serena wanted those titles, but it happens.

Dinara is hard to figure because she wasn't a top 10 player until last year's red clay season when she beat Justine and Serena and won Berlin.

In the last year she's been in 3 slam finals and the Olympic gold medal match.

If she keeps getting to these finals, she will start winning some of them. The really good players keep getting there. Maybe Jankovic won't keep getting there, but Safina seems to have enough game to be in many more slam finals.

Posted by Mr. and Mrs. D. 06/06/2009 at 05:20 PM

Pspace: I find 'presser protocol' quite interesting.

From Sveta's presser after her match with Serena:

"No, the rule of WTA Tour is,I believe the rule is the loser has a preference to do the press whenever theywant, so the winner has to adapt."

I never knew that.

Posted by Tennis Fan 06/06/2009 at 05:21 PM

There is a great difference between Safina and Serena, attempting to draw analogies between their answers is inappropriate, or at least, insincere.

Safina clearly is her own worst enemy out there. Clearly. No one accuses Serena of that, she is a prodigious talent. When Serena loses a hard fought match she discredits the opponent and level of tennis (which ironically insults the taste of the fan who enjoyed the match they just watched). That is completely different then Safina saying what everyone else says - that she beats herself up mentally on the court and it is reflected in the score.

There is no equivalence here.

Posted by Pspace 06/06/2009 at 05:25 PM

Mr. and Mrs. D, yeah, they do have that. On the ATP as well. But, "whenever" means either before or after the winner, in say a half hour window or so, IMR. I just don't see the point in having them say anything that day. Any1 who's lost a tough tennis match knows the sick feeling you get. Couple of days, and you're ok. Don't see why these kids have to be held to such a bizarrely high standard of behavior. And, it's not the same as team sports where you have others to lean on.

Posted by Codge 06/06/2009 at 05:27 PM

Love the pic and the piece.
Good to hear about that kind of friendship and comradeship on tour and not all the "cattiness"

Congrats to Kuz, Safina will definitely have other opps.

Posted by Mr. and Mrs. D. 06/06/2009 at 05:28 PM

Pspace, I agree completely. I'm sure the media (except Mr. Bodo, of course) are salivating waiting for a spicy morsel they may not have received if the distraught player had a bit more time to get a grip on their emotions.

Posted by lollipop (don't underestimate the power of the smurf) 06/06/2009 at 05:29 PM

this is very weird, i must say. u dont see this very often. but its kinda nice how sveta and marat are still able to maintain that friendship despite rivalries, etc. very interesting to understand how much we analyze the words of our idols, and how much they influence us. (as with kuznetsova and roger. Anyway, I am very happy for kuznetsova and her success here. good luck to her.and sorry for dinara.

Posted by marie j vamos rafa en 2009 ! 06/06/2009 at 05:29 PM

hi peter, sorry to miss you at another year at RG, i really like this one.
for whoever would lose today, it would be cruel disapointment... safina because she wanted it so much, sveta because she lost it too much, too many...
i was hoping safina would forget about nerves and pressure... but maybe it's a girl thing, like for mauresmo and some other emotional girls, or maybe it's not and Roger will or will not prove tomorrow, if it's about wanting to win badly enough that you lose your composture ?
at some point, when you are not feeling well in your life and whatever you do, the best thing to do is listen to every tiny bit of advice some people can give you, and see if it echoes deep down with your feelings.
some might think it's curious and awkward that both marat and roger where the ones to help better, but they must have been through the same questionning at some point in their carreers to give the right words at the right time. she must be very gratefull.

btw, sveta did look beautifull posing with her trophy, victory gives you a nice glow, no matter what, no ?

good night all !

Posted by Samantha Elin, Soderling has friends. 06/06/2009 at 05:32 PM

Tennis fan, LOL. That quote from Safina sound exactly like Serena. "I lost to myself." If that's not Serena I don't know what is.

Posted by Tennis Fan 06/06/2009 at 05:45 PM

"That quote from Safina sound exactly like Serena. "I lost to myself." "

You are absolutely correct. It is the context that gives it meaning.

Posted by n 06/06/2009 at 05:50 PM

When exactly did Dinara say "Why am I such a chicken"? Does anyone have a video clip? Thanks.

I remembered she muttered something, but couldn't hear what. I also already deleted it from the DVR.

Posted by Tennis Fan 06/06/2009 at 05:51 PM

5:21 post was not me - someone is impersonating me again.

About the article:

Three main themes:

Svelant is ugly
Marat - even when the article not about his sister.


Bad on Fila.

I thought someone from Fila was in the crowd at one of her matches. Maybe the have to cough up the dough now.

Rafa picks his but and get millions but it all comes down to how a woman looks. Amazing.

Posted by Apologies 06/06/2009 at 05:52 PM

Apologies to you, Tennis Fan. I just threw a name up there, I didn't mean to steal one. I am by no means a regular in the comments here, though I do read posts regularly. My fault.

Posted by Tennis Fan 06/06/2009 at 05:53 PM

When exactly did Dinara say "Why am I such a chicken"?

When she lost serve in the second set and Kuzzy went up 4-2.

Posted by Pspace 06/06/2009 at 05:53 PM

Tennis Fam, that's a tad unfair to Serena, no? Just because it wasn't obvious to you that she didn't choke, does that mean she didn't? Admittedly, you are an expert viewer, as we all know ;-), but none of us can claim to know completely what goes on at that level...unless you are a GS champ. Anyways, why does choking take anything away from the winner? You couldn't (wo)man up, so you lost. It's actually a much worse way to lose than making your opponent earn it.

Anyways, players get tight all the time. Sometimes throughout the match. Sometimes in critical situations. This is tennis. Ppl talk about it differently that's all...yeah, my opponent's play made me really nervous. I dunno...not that much better to me.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Soderling has friends. 06/06/2009 at 05:55 PM

Tennis fan, there are clearly matches in which players lose to themself. This wasn't one of them given the nature of the score and the quality of Kuzzy's play which was very high throughout the entire FO. Safina didn't lose to herself, she lost to her opponent who was the better player. Simple as that. And yes I agree that the player should have some time before they meet the press.

Posted by Pspace 06/06/2009 at 05:56 PM

OK, Tennis Fan. I guess I wasn't responding to you then. I interpreted your 5:45 as a sarcastic affirmation of what was said at 5:21.

Posted by Ade [early bus ticket holder] 06/06/2009 at 05:56 PM

Thanks Pete. I love Svetlana. The cut and dry issue concerning this win is this: With all due respect for Dinara, anyone who can take out a Williams sister along the way deserves to win the whole ball of wax.

Period, end of story.

Congrats to all Sveta fans!

Posted by Need a name 06/06/2009 at 06:00 PM

Pspace, unfair in what way? I'm not trying to make her out to be a villian or anything. But what Safina said is essentially her #1 problem on the court. Serena has said (repeatedly) that if she loses a set, she just thinks she will win in 3. Her mentality is completely different. Do I know what she is thinking? No, but I know what she has said she is thinking, and it's not the same thing that Safina is saying here.

I agree, actually, choking doesn't take anything from the victor. They still win. As Andre has said, you just have to be better then the other guy. The only person that really suffers is the fan - sometimes bad tennis is hard to watch. But that's part of tennis, no doubt.

Posted by Tennis Fan 06/06/2009 at 06:00 PM

5:21 & 5:45 posts were not me.

See Apologies at 5:52

Apologies: Apology accepted. I had a problem in the past of someone (or more than one) posting comments in my moniker in the past. I think there is a tennis fan 2, so you can be tennis fan 3

Posted by pt 06/06/2009 at 06:04 PM

"5:21 post was not me - someone is impersonating me again." LOL
we are all Tennis Funs here.

Posted by Pspace 06/06/2009 at 06:06 PM

Ok, Need a name. I think this is veering too far off topic for this post. Not sure I follow your point in the first paragraph. Serena said she got tight in the third set. Several ppl made a similar observation. This is what she said. Safina said she was tight throughout the match. But, yeah, they're not villains. Perhaps even heroes ;-). Agree with the second para, unsurprisingly ;-).

Posted by Need a name 06/06/2009 at 06:09 PM

"Ok, Need a name. I think this is veering too far off topic for this post."

Yeah. Congrats to Sveta; glad Marat & TMF played a part. Classic.

Posted by Jacko (Private Detective) (Sick of unnecessary JJ bashing) 06/06/2009 at 06:12 PM

lovely post pete.......i gotta gets harder and harder for sumone to not like Sveta!!LOL...i mean....until i say Stuttgart....i only admired her game...since then.......she just seems so loveable.......and i think that ur spot on in the transformation.....winning the USO so early and suddenly wasnt expected....and sveta needed the time to develop into a GS champ....but i think all these pressures and problems hav held her back (btw...i'm uber jealous that Roger likes her......and MARAT is her bestie!!!LOL).....but she's finally learned to just enjoy tennis....and let the results come the transformation is complete....she's finally come out of the both her appearance (love her as a blonde.....and this was a great outfit for her)......and herself as a person and tennis player.......she's finally reached that point......and i think....if she keeps this up (which i think she will as she's matured)........sveta is capable of dominating this sport....i mean....she's possibly the most talented player in the top 10....she can hit every shot pretty much better than anyone........but her head has held her back......and that seems to be everything finally coming into place??....i think every wta fan hopes so...

Posted by Jacko (Private Detective) (Sick of unnecessary JJ bashing) 06/06/2009 at 06:31 PM


Posted by Jacko (Private Detective) (Sick of unnecessary JJ bashing) 06/06/2009 at 06:32 PM

WAT???? did my post go???...i posted about dina.....and it disappeared...*shakes fist at typepad*

Posted by Jacko (Private Detective) (Sick of unnecessary JJ bashing) 06/06/2009 at 06:33 PM

unless its spam????.....but i didnt think anythign was spammy about it......... *confused*

Posted by evie 06/06/2009 at 06:48 PM

Now Mardy Fish's mediocre results make complete sense.

I don't get where people say that Safina idolizes her brother or needs him to be in the stands. The only things I've ever heard her say about him are along the lines of, "We're very different, live very different lives. But he's happy for me." And she's said many times he gives her no advice on her tennis, which she prefers. I've never had a hint of an aching from her for him to be more involved or to get his approval. Her coach, on the other hand, is a whole different thing.

Kutzie handled herself with tremendous grace today. Imagine winning a Slam close to your heart with understatement because of the agony of your opponent? Rafa against Fed at AO comes to mind as well, but it's extremely rare. I'm guessing she will regret revealing so much about Marat and Roger, because she'll now never hear the end of questions about them with future reporters. But such is the life of a Grand Slam winner, twice over.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/06/2009 at 06:54 PM

I again want to congratulate Sevta what a great turn around in her career.In 2007 she was the no 2 player in the world.2008 made 5 finals and lost her form slumped badly indeed.So it has a kind of Cinderella feel to it.

Sevta moving back to Russia with new coach maybe the one thing she needed.

She deserved this Grand Slam Title.Well Done.

Safina well may I say it is A Family Curse.

Sometime you can be the best player but if your mind takes over forget about it.So True with Safina and her tennis career.

She was the one to beat here.She has played well to get to another final here at RG.

Apart from losing it mentally her game too suffered.Her Serve or lack there of.Then her ground shots went.

All credit to Sevta though she was the better player also controlled her emotions on court.

Thats life in the tennis fast lane for you.

Posted by Mr. and Mrs. D. 06/06/2009 at 06:54 PM

I was just imagining that if I had kicked Serena's posterior in a grand slam final, I'm not sure I would tell the press that very day about Venus texting me to congratulate me. I certainly wouldn't tell the media on that very day about how tight Venus and I are and how much more similar I am to her than she is to Serena. Do you see where I'm going with this....

Am I reading too much into this, people?

Posted by tennisgal88 06/06/2009 at 07:01 PM

Kuznetzova looks very similar to Steffi Graf - same hair and nose.

Posted by olive 06/06/2009 at 07:04 PM

Mr. and Mrs. D., you are reading too much into this...i think mr bodo is trying to stir up controversy where there is none. triangle? bodo made it seem that by marat helping another player on the wta tour he was inadvertently harming his sister. that does not appear to be the case. he funded his sister's tennis! do you know how much love and respect that shows between brother and sister. that's commitment. too much history and much respect and just the right amount of friendship seems to be the case among these people.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/06/2009 at 07:07 PM

Mr and Mrs D As far as I am concerned this RG is the most weirdest I have ever seen.

Fancy both the no 1 players being beat.

Rafa first then Safina.Well at least Safina Made it to the final I guess.

In Hindsight I rather Rafa lost when he did.I am still struggling as it is.

I dont think I could have handled him losing a Final here

Look out Tower here I come lol!

Posted by Mr. and Mrs. D. 06/06/2009 at 07:12 PM

I figured I was reading too much into all this. I'm heartbroken for dinara....I'm ashamed to say I don't have too much faith that she'll ever be able to hold it together and win a Slam (please dont't repeat this to Samantha E!). I wished she'd grabbed these few opportunities when she had them.

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeee!!!/Vamos Maymo!) 06/06/2009 at 07:14 PM

Nice piece.

I can definitely see why Marat and Sveta would get along well -- they're absurdly talented and have had similar career trajectories -- first Slam came very unexpectedly and at a young age, years of headcasiness and inconsistency, followed by a second Slam 5 years later. They also have described their careers in similar terms, e.g. winning their first Slam and being completely unprepared for everything that followed it.

Seems like they 'get' each other in a way that Marat and Dinara don't.

Agree w/ c1 and others re: the Dinara/Z r/ship dynamics. . . seeing D's long plaintive looks in his direction made for some mighty uncomfortable viewing. Only time will tell if she'll be able to make that mental adjustment and start thinking and -playing- for herself.

Posted by Metta 06/06/2009 at 07:14 PM

Pete Bodo, I still remember your article 'for Federer fans living on bottled up oxygen' before Madrid and your prediction of Federer winning will come true tomorrow. You rock.
And I feel bad for Safina that she played so badly given her potential - she needs to calm down, only then can she win.
Kuznetsova, congrats - you won with your perseverance all these years.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/06/2009 at 07:16 PM

Mr and Mrs D Yes,welcome to my world.I really thought she had the mental side of her game in check here.

Comes to the most important game of all? she loses it.Sigh!!

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeee!!!/Vamos Maymo!) 06/06/2009 at 07:17 PM

Now Mardy Fish's mediocre results make complete sense.

LMAO. I was thinking the same thing!

Also gotta wonder if Jeelbair had something like this in mind when he made RAndy ditch that dorky visor.

Posted by Jacko (Private Detective) (Sick of unnecessary JJ bashing) 06/06/2009 at 07:20 PM seems typepad has eaten my wat i said was roughly on the lines of....

Dinara will be very heart broken after this final (she was on a mission......and fell at the final hurdle....this is like MAry Pierce in 94!!!!LOL).......and i think she'll take a bit to recover....but it will make her stronger........and i think she'll learn from Sveta.......that sumtimes it does take a little longer than everyone else to finally take that last step......and i hope that she learns from Svetlana that if she learns to relax and enjoy it better......she will make that final step....

Posted by Corrie 06/06/2009 at 07:22 PM

I think as Sveta said, that Dinara will, with increasing maturity, solve her mental crises in finals, just as she has done. If you've got the game to get to finals the confidence will come in the end.

It's fascinating, the mental side of tennis and how players react to pressure (and their fans, lol!). It should all be a unit in a pschology major.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/06/2009 at 07:25 PM

Corrie LOL! yes indeed all tennis player should partake before they step into court and play.

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeee!!!/Vamos Maymo!) 06/06/2009 at 07:26 PM

evie - Dinara has often said in interviews that Marat is her idol. This bit in particular sticks out in my mind because of the sheer awkwardness of the exchange:

During the Kremlin Cup in 2004, Marat interviewed her for French newspaper L'Equipe and her adoration of her brother was clear.

"You're my god," Safina said. "When you play, I love watching you. When you lose, I'm even sadder than when I lose. When you're hurt, I suffer. When you talk to me, I drink your words. When you come to see me playing, I'm beside myself with joy. I hate hearing or reading something bad about you. I know you are hard-working and that you do everything you can to be number one. For me, you have the biggest talent of any player and I don't have half of your talent."

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/06/2009 at 07:33 PM

Well Marat never showed up to either of his little sisters finals here at RG.Does anyone think his presence would have had a different bearing on his sisters mental capacity?

Posted by Larry 06/06/2009 at 07:37 PM

Interesting stuff. Sounds like Svetlana has Safin's taste for danger and debauchery. The Russian patriotism is something else. I have to admire, in a way, this penchant for mixing accepting a brutal and corrupt regime with love of country with love of hanging out in strange places and then what appears to be religiosity. Marat also makes mention of Islam occasionally. The drinking then is probably a good thing because it implies lack of devotion on his part, which hopefully means he won't want to slaughter infidels when he's retired.

I feel sorry for Dinara, and suspect that Marat's friendship with Sveta probably affected her play. In the real world, she probably feels a bit betrayed by Marat and also judged by him. My advice to her, since she seems like a girl with morals, is to ignore the funny drunk of an older brother and enjoy the game. Marat with his fairly wasted career will be off the tour soon enough.

Posted by Ray T. 06/06/2009 at 07:42 PM


Here are some facts: Safina had never finished in the Top 10 before Zeljko Krajan became her coach and she finished #3 right after. Her body and court behavior completely changed in 2008 in case you haven't noticed, and this had a direct consequence to her success. She then reached #1 this year and has now 3 Slams finals to her name. Too much credit to Zeljko Krajan ? Yeah right ! The fact is that Dinara simply lost to a better player today and there's no need to denigrate her coach while indeed playing "amateur psychologist".

Posted by jungleman 06/06/2009 at 07:46 PM

i'm so happy kuzzie won today, about time. ever since the us open 2004, i thought she was one of the most talented players playing. she went through so much in the past (almost) 5 years, all the title droughts and lost finals, and inexplicable defeats, but she finally did it! she bagged her second GS!

very interesting article btw, i would never have expected those two to be good friends! i agree sveta outplayed safina all match, particularly the first set, but the second set saw safina implode a little bit, so sveta didn't have to do a lot in the second to win it. hopefully she can make a dent at wimbledon, and take the us open also :)

i really felt for dinara, but at the same time i thought the media and everyone made this whole tournament about HER and even this whole final about HER, instead of sveta having her moment of glory and savouring it. it was all about discrediting dinara's play instead of praising all the outstanding winners that came off of svetlana's racquet. seriously. so few people appreciate her.

Posted by Clare A. Mohs 06/06/2009 at 08:31 PM

Some people just love them some soap opera and will create the story themselves if they need to.
Can we please stop talking about Serena and how she is misjudged...
Can we accept some comments from her Mother...
Serena thinks everything is supposed to go her way, that’s the bottom line. She thinks that’s the way it’s supposed to go in life. But this is life. She’s going to have to learn how to suck things up. Say, ‘OK, I’m not going to win everything. I just got to be, this is going to make me a better person, this will build character for myself and I have to learn how to lose.'

- Momma Williams, Oracene Price, on Serena after her loss to Venus in the Wimbledon final
In other words, Serena Williams is a human being with some human foibles. Of course that's not as dramatic as some people like the story.

Posted by M&M 06/06/2009 at 08:37 PM

Enjoyed the article, Thanks Pete. I really enjoyed it, this years FO was starting to spoil my enjoyment of the matches, after watching the french bad behavior on TV. It was very hurtful this reminded me that tennis is still is a beautiful game.

Posted by Suzanne 06/06/2009 at 08:57 PM

Svetlana, to me anyway, keeps coming off better and better. It's not flashy or glamorous or even pretentious, just nice. She always seems grounded, and there's no question (again, for me anyway) about her capacity as an athlete or tennis player, but at the same time I don't think she's "the Davydenko of the WTA" since she does leave some lasting impresssion... The clothing deal thing is weird, and I hope Fila or whom ever are feeling stupid right about now. I really like her, and it seems like a lot of other players on the tour does too. Not just Roger and Marat (which, seriously how lucky is she?!).

Dinara didn't lose because of Svetlana's relationship with Marat. Come on. She has beaten her many times before, including in Rome this year. She lost because of many different reasons, Svetlana playing good being one of them. (Kind of off-topic: Today was a good day, though kind of an anti climatic final as usual at RG, but tomorrow could be great.) I really hope she can win a slam some day, and I believe that she can, unlike Mats Wilander and co.

Posted by Tim (2009 Year of Red Rogie and just say NO to frazzling!) 06/06/2009 at 08:58 PM

great quote from momma williams, perhaps she should tell Serena this to her face?

Posted by tennis roids 06/06/2009 at 09:03 PM

Enough about suspiciously muscular and mannish looking Svetlana vs. suspiciously muscular Dinara.
Can we talk about Nadal's convenient "knee injury" now?
For more, go to

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/06/2009 at 09:09 PM

Gee they have all come out today?

Has it been a full Moon at all?

Posted by mwu 06/06/2009 at 09:24 PM

Fierce Tennis has a great pic comparing Sveta's traditional pose in front of the Eiffel Tower with Ana's last year:

Too, too funny.

Posted by JillfromNY 06/06/2009 at 10:14 PM

Terrific article. Just a great read and offers insight into a player I have always admired. Thanx for such a great piece.

Posted by TennisFan2...sending prayers to the knee gods on Rafa's behalf.... 06/06/2009 at 10:16 PM

Pete, really liked this article - lots of great little tid bits...

I said yesterday I'd be happy for either woman - they both earned it at RG this year. That being said, good for Kuzzy.

I hope she drops Fila and the others start lining up for her - she deserves it! Fila has boring clothes anyway. Personally I'd like to see Nike give Sveta a new look (even if they did screw up Rafa's mojo with the fuschia they still rock in tennis fashion).

Marat and Kuzzy sound like fun - I think I'd like to pop a few with them!

Posted by Andrew Miller 06/06/2009 at 10:19 PM

this was awesome. I really enjoyed this about Svetlana Kuznetsova.

And I would like to see Dinara Safina win a GS title. I think she will do it.

Posted by Indyfan 06/06/2009 at 10:48 PM

Great post Pete. Interesting match despite the screeching on the part of both women. Well, it could have been a lot worse if we had to watch Serena versus Sharapova; then I would have had the TV sound on mute. How did Billie Jean, Margaret, Chris, Martina, Steffi and all the other great players of the past become champions without screaming like they were being attacked. Remember when we thought Seles' grunts were loud - nothing like many of today's players. The WTA should really do something about it - it's not fair on the "quiet" players like Stoser.

C'mon Roger!

Posted by Joseph 06/06/2009 at 10:48 PM

Pete, you're a really talented writer. Thanks for that.

Posted by Tp 06/06/2009 at 11:08 PM

in 2004, when 3 different Russians won 3 of the slams, I had predicted Kuzy will have the most successful career of all of them. Was disappointing to see her struggle all these years, especially since she has so much talent. Good to see her do some justice to all that game.

Posted by roel rabin 06/06/2009 at 11:43 PM

i still believe dinara is the current no 1., no more arguments about that., consistency is the basis... i love dinara and i like marat... russians are the meaning of tennis for me...(sharapova., kournikova, kuznetsova., kafelnikov, dementieva, myskina., petrova., nikolay d. and ofcourse the brother-sister safin and safina..).

Posted by roel rabin 06/07/2009 at 12:16 AM

Medibank International in Sydney runner up
Australian Open, runner up
Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships 2nd round
BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, quarter finals
Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Florida, third round
Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart runner up
Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome winner
Mutua Madrileña Madrid Open winner
2009 French Open, runner up

9 matches 6 finals., 2 wins and four runners up.

they were also the runner up at the hopman cup with marat....

the records shows that shes consistent.....

its not her time to win GS....but still shes the best
unlike other players, they win a GS then lost at the 1st round for the next tournament...
ilove you dinara!!!! go Russians....

Posted by Samantha Elin, Soderling has friends. 06/07/2009 at 12:45 AM

Hmmm, no comments on the Safina presser. I do believe that Safina has clearly earned the world's#1 ranking which is based on consistency rather then winning the biggest trophy the slams. The two slam finals, AO and FO are the most impressive because of the differences in the surface. Classy of Marat to congrat Kuzzy. I know that his mom coach a couple Russian play, not sure if Kuzzy was one of them. It will be interesting to see how she does at Wimbledon. Good luck to my countryman in tomorrow's match. Kom nu, Robin. I believe in you.

Posted by gary 06/07/2009 at 01:33 AM

I have no idea why I got out of a nice cozy bed at the ungodly hour of 6AM to watch a match like this. When will the WTA say if we deserve equal pay we should play best of five (at the very least in the finals of a Grand Slam tournament).
Yes, it might well have ended up 6-4, 6-2, 6-0, but we'll never know.
Players have been known to come back from two sets down.
What an anticl
imatic final.
Extremely disappointing.

Posted by Roger That 06/07/2009 at 02:02 AM

Congrats to Sveta, and no frazzling(wishful thinking).

Posted by tina (live from Venezia) 06/07/2009 at 02:33 AM

A day late and a euro short - missed the match, but am so happy for Sveta, finally adding to that US Open trophy.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war 06/07/2009 at 03:06 AM

Oh thanks so much for this post Pete, and the picture of Kuzzy, at which I am grinning soppily...

I'm sad for Dinara, especially as the magic she'd brought to the earlier rounds seemed totally gone today. She has just *got* to find a way to unlock herself in finals.

If she said she lost the match herself, it's presumably down to that last service double fault the match away against Kuzzy? If she could've made Kuzzy serve it out, I think she still had a chance. ;-)

I enjoyed Kuzzy's defence, athleticism variety, and imagination so much - things Safina didn't seem to have much of in this match - and I didn't notice her grunting or shrieking at all! Maybe I'm part-deaf, as Azarenka or Sharapova don't bother me, either, in terms of tennis enjoyment.

I couldn't believe Kuzzy was only 23. She seems to have been around forever. Happy for her.

It was a bit anti-climactic, but then, so was the men's final last year, no?

Also, the destiny-being-spoiled aspect might be a useful lesson to remember for today. I don't suppose Feddy will have forgotten it, but a reminder won't do any harm. :)

Posted by p 06/07/2009 at 05:15 AM

Anyone know what's between marat and kuz ???????????/
really !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by goody 06/07/2009 at 06:24 AM

hey p
what u mean...?
actually i don't know whats between marat and kuz :-()

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