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Bloodless Executions 03/22/2010 - 4:50 PM


by Pete Bodo

Let's put this very simply: If I were to ask you, a week ago, to name the four finalists at Indian Wells, how many of you would have said: Wozniacki, Jankovic, Roddick and Ljubicic? Or, not to open old tennis wounds, but what kinds of odds would a bookmaker have given you on that quartet? Sure, we get the occasional surprise semifinalist (or two) at most important events, but this line-up was utterly unexpected - if not inexplicable.

After all, Jankovic is a former world No. 1, Wozniacki is the defending U.S. Open finalist and rising young talent, Roddick plays well on hard courts in the U.S. and Ljubicic is a former Top 5 player whose career-defining weakness has been the inability to perform up to his ranking and talent in majors (by my count, using fingers and toes, he lost in the first round in 20 of his 41 majors, and it's not like he was all about fourth-round or semifinals in those others). Indian Wells is a Masters 1000, not a major, ergo. . .

Still, in context, this finals quartet is borderline astonishing. Wasn't it just a year ago that everyone at this point in the year was still fixated on a rivalry for the generations? Expecting Jankovic to right her listing ship to recapture her No. 1 ranking, with nary a Belgian in sight? Speaking of Belgians, what happened to them at Indian Wells, the closest thing Kim Clijsters has to a home tournament (record-wise) and the next scheduled stop (after Melbourne) on the Justine Henin comeback tour? Maybe it's a good thing Venus and Serena Williams skipped this event; it would have been unslightly to see those icons run afoul of a Bethanie Mattek-Sands here, a Sybille Bammer there. Maybe they know something we don't. . .

The WTA free-for-all is easier to rationalize, of course, because of the Williams factor. But for gosh sakes, when was the last time the four finalists in a Masters/Premier Mandatory event had a grand total of one Grand Slam singles title between them? Which brings us to the most striking element in this tournament: the collective "failure" of that gifted ATP trio, Novak Djokovic, Nadal and Andy Murray. Nadal gets a bit of a pass for various reasons, including his proven track record in big events and, more important, his having lost to the man who went on to win the whole shootin' match. But the other two? I see question marks, all over the place.

A year ago, when all of tennis could be viewed through the prism of the Federer vs. Nadal rivalry, you could understand the shortcomings of Djokovic or Murray, and spend quality time wondering either of them could become the third (or third and fourth) wheel in the rivalry instead of a mere speed bump that Federer or Nadal can be counted on to overcome. Both of those challengers lost ground this week.

For Murray, the idea that a given tournament is "his to lose" is either a kiss of death or a challenge that the Scot takes a wee bit too literally. For his fans, though, the good news is that it's unlikely that Wimbledon will ever be considered his to lose - so maybe he'll find a way to win that one yet. Meanwhile, the growing suspicion about Djokovic is that - and this really is the best way I can think of to put it - he's just farting around. Neither of these two guys can complain about the gridlock imposed on the game by Roger and Rafa; neither is clearly outclassed by those towering players, especially in sub-major events, where they could picking up valuable points, credibility and confidence. But who stepped in to fill the shoes left empty by Federer and Nadal? Roddick and Ljubicic.

The men's final was entertaining, with the pleasing structure and rigorous economy that two men who have no fear of letting it rip when it comes to the serve can impose on a match. Among other things, the final was a testament to the value of the tiebreaker, although I perversely thought it might be fun to make those two big galoots play it out in deuce sets.

One pleasant side effect of the tiebreaker is that it allows both players to play fairly relaxed tennis, knowing that if their serves are big enough, they don't have to be overly stressed about getting a crucial break. Things are going to come to a head and get settled sooner rather than later in any event, and men with firepower like Roddick and Ljubicic possess are generally content to take their chances in the tiebreaker - at least until they get to 5-4 or 6-6 in the tiebreaker, at which time the familiar dread of just plain blowing it sometimes kicks in. A tiebreaker set is like a river that's both calm and swift; it gets to where it's going pretty quickly, despite the great volume.

Another good thing about the tiebreaker is that it helps deaden the pain of loss in a match like the Indian Wells final. You know what the players, especially the men, and most especially the man who like to crank up dial on serving power, like to say: The tiebreaker is a crapshoot. . .it can go either way in a tiebreaker. . . you need a little luck to win a 'breaker. All of that amounts to certain amount of psychic absolution. Sure I lost, but hey, don't look at me, we were playing tiebreakers! There's a reason why top players like to play tiebreakers instead of proper sets in practice. A guy wins a tiebreaker off you, it's no big deal. It's a crapshoot, remember? But a guy breaks your serve and holds his at least one time more to win a set? Now that's something like an insult - and a confidence booster for the lesser of the two players.

So it's a bit counter-intuitive, but losing a close deuce set (see "R" for Roddick, cross-referenced with "F" for Federer and "W" for Wimbledon) compared to a tiebreaker can seem like cruel and unusual punishment. You don't have a quick and painless out (well, he got the mini-break on the second point, and with his serve, that pretty much spelled the end of me!). Beating a guy in a tiebreaker is like shooting him at 350 yards with a high-powered rifle; winning a deuce set 12-10, or perchance 18-16, is like having beaten your opponent to death with a rock. It's more painful for loser, and perhaps more primally satisfying for the winner.

All that raises the interesting question: is the tiebreaker better for tennis, strictly in terms of quality of play and the significance of the results? That's a tough one. Remember that tennis is a day-to-day sport, with everyone's form fluctuating on regular basis. Not every match has to be the battle of Stalingrad, although the two majors (Wimbledon and the French Open) that insist on playing out even five-set matches in a deuce fifth-set format want you to think it is, and try to capitalize on the fact that any fifth-set match that goes beyond 6-6 ascends to a higher place in the lore and legend of the game.

That's fair enough, I guess, but personally I like the brio of tiebreaker sets, and the way they suggest that there's a "to be continued. . ." element to a match decided by a pair or even trio tiebreakers. There's always that little question mark when a match is decided by tiebreakers; it that way, it's a more fitting format for your times. A guy, or woman, who loses two tiebreaker sets has plenty of reason to moan or groan, but he can reap great hopes, too. Tiebreakers and tense and exciting, and they're certainly less than definitive - to whatever extent any tennis match can be that. They're bloodless executions, which is fitting because everyone in tennis lives to fight another day anyway.

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Posted by CiCi 03/22/2010 at 05:09 PM


Posted by Pierre 03/22/2010 at 05:22 PM

Ljubicic played inspired tennis. I haven't seen him loosen up like that before. He said the match against Nadal was the best he ever played. It was nice to see the big grin on the big lout's face.

Posted by CWATC 03/22/2010 at 05:26 PM

Well, if Murray played Djok in the final, they'd have a grand total of one major between them. But no one would complain.
Agreed these two appear to have taken a step backward lately, but the season is young . . .

Posted by Master Ace 03/22/2010 at 05:29 PM

8 WTA Questions for Miami

(1)Will Jelena be able to win the Transcontiental Slam since Kim did it in 2005?
(2)Will the Belgians (Justine, Kim, and Yanina) be able to rebound from early round defeats?
(3)Will Venus finally be able to win especially with Serena out due to injury?
(4)Will Victoria be able to defend her title coming off an upset loss to Maria Jose?
(5)Will Caroline be able to continue her momentum that she gained?
(6)Despite the early upsets , the semifinals consisted of the Top 11 players. Will Miami have that same success?
(7)Who will be the surprise player at Miami? In Indian Wells, it was Maria Jose who defeated Victoria and Yanina before losing to Samantha in the quarterfinals.
(8)Will the Russians, led by Elena and Svetlana, make a significant run to at least the semifinals after failing to do so at Indian Wells

Posted by Master Ace 03/22/2010 at 05:29 PM

"Which brings us to the most striking element in this tournament: the collective "failure" of that gifted ATP trio, Novak Djokovic, Nadal and Andy Murray. Nadal gets a bit of a pass for various reasons, including his proven track record in big events and, more important, his having lost to the man who went on to win the whole shootin' match. But the other two? I see question marks, all over the place."

What about Roger Federer as part of the collective failure?

Posted by crazyone 03/22/2010 at 05:41 PM

Master Ace: I actually think he meant "collective failure" as current challengers TO Federer, and not only on evidence of this tournament alone.

Posted by Corrie 03/22/2010 at 05:51 PM

The AO doesn't have a tie breaker in the final set. The USO is the anomaly.

Posted by VC 03/22/2010 at 05:56 PM

"Not every match has to be the battle of Stalingrad, although the two majors (Wimbledon and the French Open) that insist on playing out even five-set matches in a deuce fifth-set format want you to think it is, and try to capitalize on the fact that any fifth-set match that goes beyond 6-6 ascends to a higher place in the lore and legend of the game."

Three majors - Australian Open as well.

I like tiebreakers, but then I don't have any other frame of reference as I've never lived in the era without tiebreaks. I don't think it's a coincidence that Sampras and Federer have superb tiebreak records, and that proves that it's anything but a crapshoot. I don't see why having a great tiebreak record is less relevant a skill than having a great breakpoint conversion rate, or a great breakpoints saved ratio.

Posted by Pspace (Proud Rafaelite since Shakira) 03/22/2010 at 05:57 PM

For Murray the idea that a given tournament is "his to lose" is either a kiss of death or a challenge that the Scot takes a wee bit too literally.

Not sure I agree. I think it's more that he's a bit mentally fried after his loss at Oz. But, he's hard to read.

Meanwhile, the growing suspicion about Djokovic is that - and this really is the best way I can think of to put it - he's just farting around.

What does that mean? Does he have a stomach bug?

Perhaps he didn't have anything left mentally for IW after his travails in Dubai and DC.

But, I'm really not sure what is meant here by "farting around"? How long has this been going on? Just this tournament? This year? Last year and a half?

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 03/22/2010 at 06:03 PM

Pete I think your phrase "farting around" is perfect anaolgy for Novak.Being from Australia I have heard that used soo many times.He gets himself in a good position and for some unknown reason looses it.Hence the phrase "farting around".He is becoming the "nineth wonder of the world".

Posted by VC 03/22/2010 at 06:11 PM

Re-reading the article, it seems Pete isn't calling tiebreaks a "crapshoot", rather saying that is the logic players use to rationalize practise losses, which is fair enough. Losing a tiebreak is certainly very different to losing a full set.

About Djokovic, I'm not sure what's going on... you'd think that having survived so many close shaves over the past month or so, he'd eventually flip the switch and start playing with a lot of confidence. After all, what can be better for your confidence than winning without playing your best? However, it hasn't happened yet.

Posted by L.Rubin 03/22/2010 at 06:20 PM


I think I've written about this before, but Pat Cash once said that your countrymen (well, at least those who play tennis) are notorious farters. Rafter, in particular, had quite a reputation for unleashing his smelly ones in the locker room, especially while passing Agassi's corner. To the fastidious Agassi's demand that Rafter show him some respect, the latter simply responded by telling him where to get off.


Posted by CL 03/22/2010 at 06:22 PM

"What does that mean? Does he have a stomach bug?"

Pspace - ROFL...

perhaps less 'farting around, than a bit of 'fiddling while Rome...and his ranking burns.' IF Novak's ranking comes under serious assault, it will be REALLY interesting to see how..even if..he responds. Maybe he and Muzz should form a fiddle band of two.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 03/22/2010 at 06:28 PM

L.Rubin I bow to your "farting tennis knowledge"

Posted by Texastennis 03/22/2010 at 06:46 PM


I wonder if that Rafter story is an urban legend. I've seen that exact same story repeated several times with Sampras instead of Agassi as the "other."

Posted by Mr.X (i change stupid shorts for confidence of old) 03/22/2010 at 06:55 PM

I am against TBs in the 5th set in a major, because i do feel that it gives too much importance to the possible effect of luck in a couple of points here and there in the TB. With the added games, i feel it's to some extent, more of an earned victory. Besides, it adds a lot to the match. Would the Wimbledon final of last year had been so greatly considered if it had been decided in a 5th set TB. Personally, i dont think so, as Andy being able to hold all those times when serving to stay in the set added a lot to the match.
And i'm not a big fan of matches where, as Pete said, both players can take a relaxed approach, rely on their serve, and taker their chances in the TBs. For me, it's more interesting to see players trying to break at all costs, and not "saving" anything.
Also, i dont agree with giving Rafa a pass on what he did this week. His mental collapse (not the first this season) is kind of worrying, considering that it looked like the obvious chance of getting to the final and maybe finally being able to win again made him crumble. The last 2 games of the 2nd set and the first game of the 3rd were simply horrible. When he had sprayed the last of those FHs long to get broken, one though crossed my mind, making reference to what was happening to some other guy about a year ago. I was thinking: "What now, is he gonna break a racket?"

Posted by crazyone 03/22/2010 at 07:23 PM

*And i'm not a big fan of matches where, as Pete said, both players can take a relaxed approach, rely on their serve, and taker their chances in the TBs. For me, it's more interesting to see players trying to break at all costs, and not "saving" anything.*

Sampras was famous for relying on his serve til 4-all and then going for a little more to break. So this mentality/playing style exists even when the match doesn't go to tiebreakers.

As for tiebreakers in non final sets, I can't imagine the game without them! You could possibly have a 20-18 first set!!! and then possibly 4 more. With tiebreaks I think it's fairer to both players--even if you lose the first set, you won't necessarily have expended all your energy in losing a very, very close set.

Posted by Mr.X (i change stupid shorts for confidence of old) 03/22/2010 at 07:26 PM

I agree about TBs in non-final sets. What i said was bout the 5th only. Of course you must have a TB in the others. How long could matches be if you didnt?

As for Sampras, that's true. Obviously, all i did was giving my personal opinion about the matter, and maybe that's one more reason why i wasnt exactly a Sampras fan:)

Posted by Anne 03/22/2010 at 07:27 PM

MA, answers to your burning WTA questions:
1) no, too streaky (and her dress is hideous with a capital H)
2) no, but maybe Justine H since she's had time to rest
3) no, I wish, but no
4) maybe, but a headcase
5) yes, beacuse the WTA is pretty weak
6) yes, for those who thought answer 5) was a tad bit harsh, I will say it's beacuse those at the top of the WTA are very consistent
7) Vania King, anyone? Melanie O (hey, an 'Merican's gotta hope!)? Am I jinxing the Fed cup team?!? Spaking of Fed Cup, where are the Williams sises?
8) yes, cause I heart the Kutz (though if V King doesn't beat her, my wildcard is hosed)
Thanks for making me think, MA!

Posted by crazyone 03/22/2010 at 07:32 PM

Mr. X, yeah. I didn't mean to imply that you were against TBs at any time in a match, you stated very clearly that you were talking about 5th sets. I was just talking about the general concept of a TB. I think the TB is a relatively new invention though in terms of the long history of tennis, but a very welcome one.

I think Nadal would be better served taking a Sampras style approach--it might be easier on the knees. He expends a LOT of energy trying to break in every single game....

Posted by Mr.X (i change stupid shorts for confidence of old) 03/22/2010 at 07:41 PM

Well, considering he has developed the funny tendence of gifting a break in every set he plays, he probably feels that he needs to break more than once to win a set. And lately, that's actually (and sadly) true.

Posted by skip1515 03/22/2010 at 07:54 PM

Well, the first question should be whether or not best of 5 matches should be played, since they're so rare anymore (Phillyism). Count me in in the Yes-They-Should-Be-Played column. The ebb and flow of a longer match is a special joy, and a special thing to master. Sure, there are some stinkers, but everything comes with a price.

VC wrote: "I don't think it's a coincidence that Sampras and Federer have superb tiebreak records, and that proves that it's anything but a crapshoot."

Or it could prove that Sampras and Federer are head and shoulders above the rest.* Which seems more likely? I'd put my money on the latter.

I don't question the excitement of a breaker, but it's a different kind of tension; for my money (again), give me the drama of Do-They-Have-The-Resolve-Or-Don't-They of a deuce set anyday. That kind of real determination speaks of our lives off the court far more than just winning by two points.

*Apologies to Nadal fans (or, generally speaking, Roddick fans), no offense meant. I was simply following the structure of VC's comment.

Posted by ActionFlunky 03/22/2010 at 07:57 PM

"I think Nadal would be better served taking a Sampras style approach--it might be easier on the knees. He expends a LOT of energy trying to break in every single game...."

But let's remember that Sampras could afford to take that approach because his own serve/service games were so impenetrable. For some players they can't wait for the ninth or tenth game to go for the break because their won serve is under attack, too. In fact, some may need two breaks to win the set.

Posted by meriko 03/22/2010 at 08:02 PM

When Roger is signing autographs in this video, at first I thought it was Jan-Michael Gambill. lol

Posted by Tim (Year of Aussie Rogie ) 03/22/2010 at 08:03 PM

who got the cupcakes in Miami? The Swiss guy? Is Rafa changing his shorts?

Posted by VC 03/22/2010 at 08:03 PM

skip1515 : I have never lived through the era when every set was decided by two-game differentials, so I have no reference point to compare it to. :-)

I just object to the idea that sets decided on tiebreaks involve a large amount of luck, for me a tiebreak record is an indicator of how good a player is at playing the "big points", just like the breakpoint conversion/saved ratio statistic.

Posted by Goldilocks 03/22/2010 at 08:43 PM

Well deserved and well done, Ljubicic. I would say long overdue but the timing was just right. He gave an awesome acceptance speech! I'm so happy for him!!!Ljubicic, you are an inspiration to every tennis player on the face of this earth.

Posted by tina 03/22/2010 at 09:03 PM

I went from a few tears of surprised joy yesterday to a funeral this morning. I'll have more to say tomorrow morning, I'm sure. Everyone I know back in Croatia is ecstatic, though. :))

And I'm so happy Jelena had such a decisive win over that *girl*. Take that!

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 03/22/2010 at 09:32 PM

Liron: the farting story is hilarious.

I would think Nole would want to consolidate his #2 position and not let up on the throttle for one second. But I think he was toast from the DC competition. I don't think he's farting around per se, he's just pre-occupied with all his extra-tennis-related business ventures!

Heard on TTC that Jelena Jankovic is building a 20,000 square foot house in San Diego with a 10-car garage, movie theatre, pool, court and all the rest. I'm happy she's done so well for herself but I hate that kind of ostentation. it's way OTT for me.

Posted by supastah 03/22/2010 at 09:54 PM

"Beating a guy in a tiebreaker is like shooting him at 350 yards with a high-powered rifle; winning a deuce set 12-10, or perchance 18-16, is like having beaten your opponent to death with a rock."

les mots justes. and you could see it on andy's face at the end of that 16-14 set last year. he knew he had put up every resistance and been beaten right out of it. extremely well written, pete.

let's all remember why james van allen invented the tiebreak. it wasn't about removing the test of competition. it was meant to make tennis' traditions fit into to the sports/entertainment model that was emerging in the early 70s. it wasn't meant for the purists who wanted to see the players waste each other for the coliseum's bloodlust. it was meant to make tennis work for television's schedules.

it's all a trade-off. we can have tiebreaks to solve the riddle that is head-to-head competition, but it will cost us the profusion of deuce sets. good? bad? all in the eye of the beholder. is andy's serve good for the game? bad? all in the eye of the beholder

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 03/22/2010 at 09:58 PM

I don't have anything to say on the subject of tiebreakers. They're part of the game and here to stay. Sometimes they're very exciting but I can't help but think it's cutting corners or something.

Posted by Tim (Year of Aussie Rogie ) 03/22/2010 at 10:11 PM

Pierre, Ljubie said the tiebreaker he played vs Rafa was the best one he's ever played, not the whole match...

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 03/22/2010 at 10:48 PM

In regards to Rafa trying not to break and use up energy.

For starters when one is brought up on clay its a totally different mindset

Also even though Rafa has improved his 1st serve,still to me especially on a h/court its not that consistant eg Pete Sampras.

Posted by london 03/22/2010 at 10:53 PM

For those who missed it earlier.....

Time for London's World Famous WTA Predictions: Miami Edition!!! (Insert Marching Band)

Round of 16:
Kuznetsova def. Bartoli
Wickmayer def. Li
Venus def. Petrova
Radwanska def. Pennetta
Jankovic def. Zheng
Azarenka def. Clijsters (touhgest pick of them all)
Henin def. Zvonareva
Wozniacki def. Pavluchenkova

Kuznetsova def. Wickmayer
Venus def. Radwanska
Azarenka def. Jankovic
Henin def. Wozniacki

Venus def. Kuznetsova
Henin def. Azarenka

Venus def. Henin

Let me add that this was one of the tougher predictions I have had in a while. Im not sure of Kuznetsova because she has been in a slump this year, but I think she will pull herself together and prove her "haters" wrong plus she plays well in Miami (semis last two years and Champion in 06). Azarenka was also a tough choice over Clijsters, but I think she will be motivated to defend her title. In the final I choose Venus because she has been playing some good tennis this year (minus the match vs. Li), is on a nice win streak (Dubai, Acapulco, and MSG), and in my opinion is due for another Miami title.

Posted by Andrew 03/22/2010 at 11:01 PM

Evening, all.

I'm still in the Palm Springs area. Because of various travel complications, I delayed my trip back for an extra day - and got to hit for the first time in 5 weeks with a local pro.

Even more interesting, this lady pro used to hit with one Miroslava Vavrinec - used to do drills with her, said she was very fit, and very nice. SHe couldn't think of any scuttlebutt at all related to the young lady. SO there you go. You never know what odd ricochets life will throw at you.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 03/22/2010 at 11:51 PM

Master Ace Here are my answers to your questions you posed.

1. No,I feel even though JJ found better form in the final it was due largely to the fact that many of the stronger seeded players lost early.Another significant factor was both Williams sisters didnt play.

2. Yes I feel the 3 Belgians can rebound in Miami.

3. yes I feel Venus has been playing this h/court swing well.If she can reproduce her form in Miami I have picked her to win.

4. I was impressed with Azarenka's mental attitude with Venus in the final she lost.Hopefully with the loss to Maria Jose in IW,she can brush that aside and focus on getting to the final in Miami.

5. Carolines mental ability is a trademark in her game.I expect to see Caroline with the same tough approach in Miami.

6. I would like to think so.Tournaments today there is always that "element of surprise".

7. Dont faint.Samantha Stosur

8. Elena is a great ground stroker and athlete.I expect her to least make the s/finals.

Sveta who knows.Her game was a disaster.60 plus u/errors? she will have to do 100%
better.At this stage No.

Posted by karin1492 03/23/2010 at 12:34 AM

aussiemarg: Not to be nitpicky, but your 2 and 8 can't both happen. Elena and Justine are playing each other in the second round. One of those two will have an early loss, unfortunately I'm leaning towards Justine. This is by far her worst tournament. Until 2007 she had never made it past the quarterfinals. She's lost her first match here all but three times. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that the anniversary of her mom's death is always during the first week, and that is always a bad time for her. She's someone who needs to be totally focused on a match to have any sort of chance, and in the past she's been distracted at best during the tournament.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa for dubs in Miami 03/23/2010 at 12:53 AM

karin1492 Thanks I need to have a strong coffee and put my head together

Yes I will lean towards Justine as well.

Posted by JohnC 03/23/2010 at 01:20 AM

Pete, you guys should employ an online subeditor. It's all very well for us to make a million typos and grammatical errors, not so much for you "editors". Just a thought :-)

Posted by rg.nadal 03/23/2010 at 05:36 AM

8 WTA Questions for Miami

1. Nope. She may reach the quarters
2. Yes. They will for sure. Two out of the three will reach the later rounds.
3. Vee will win the title.
4. No way. She ain't playing too well. She is yet to recover from that awful loss to Serena at the AO.
5. Yes. A semifinal showing.
6. Yes. It will.
7. Sorana C.
8. No. They shall have to wait for the claycourt season to start.

Posted by rg.nadal 03/23/2010 at 07:09 AM

I would like to change my answer for question number 7.
7. Molik

Posted by Samantha Elin 03/23/2010 at 07:38 AM

Tigress: "Why is it OK here to constantly harshly bash and demean Caro, while reasoned criticism of Rafa and speculation that he may be far more vulnerable on clay this year is somehow beyond the pale and downright scrollable. Just wondering." Tigress, thank you for being so frank and honest in your post.

Posted by Samantha Elin 03/23/2010 at 07:40 AM

Venus has an excellent draw, Demmy as usual doesn't. She needs to hang around Caro who wins all her matches by sheer luck.

Posted by Samantha Elin 03/23/2010 at 07:47 AM

Forgot to add, most of the people doing the demeaning are the same people who question my comments on the board. What is that American saying: Pot meet Kettle.

Posted by Samantha Elin 03/23/2010 at 07:55 AM

Sabine Lisicki is a player who I believe has a lot of potential, but tends to be erratic and inconsistent in her result. After she beat Vee last year I thought she was really going some where, but fell off the radar. I would love to see the round robbin format install at more tourney. I love it at the YEC and the way it gives the players a second chance.

Posted by Master Ace 03/23/2010 at 08:12 AM

I am about to faint on Samantha for number 7.

My answers
1. No, she gets eliminated in the QF
2. As far as reaching the SF, I would say the best player with a chance to get there will be Yanina even though Svetlana does have a good history here
3. Yes, her draw is not that difficult and while she is defending a SF, she know that Serena will not be around for her to get emotionally attached
4. No, she will do better than expected as I got her making the F
5. Yes, I got her making the SF defeating Elena or Justine in the QF and her draw is not difficult even though Anastasia may be her opponent in QF
6. Yes even if one of those players are not in the Top 11 as I have Yanina in the SF
7. Jie, Alisa, or Sabine.
8. No. If Elena and/or Svetlana makes it to the SF, I would not be surprised.

Posted by Master Ace 03/23/2010 at 09:23 AM

If a person seeded 20 in the WTA won Indian Wells, what would the comments be saying? Comments would be saying that the WTA is weak(people are still saying that now and we had 2 of the top 6 seeded players in the final). Ivan was seeded 20 and won IW, why are we not hearing that the ATP is weak?

Posted by VC 03/23/2010 at 09:32 AM

Well, I don't think the WTA is weak now that the Belgians have added to the mix. However, the most common complaint I have heard about women's tennis is not the upsets but the fact that the top-ranked players are unable to execute some basic aspects of the game such as approaching the net behind a strong groundstroke, hitting simple volleys, slice backhands etc. Not to mention, hitting double-digit double-faults is a fairly common occurrence when serves are put under pressure. All this is legitimate criticism of the WTA because we don't see it happening with the top ATP players.

Posted by Master Ace 03/23/2010 at 09:53 AM

Good technical answer to the question. Ivan was able to consistently get out of trouble with his serve and another thing was he used his experience in pressure situations despite being slow to the forehand side(saw this a lot in his match with Rafael)

Posted by Christopher 03/23/2010 at 09:55 AM

"If a person seeded 20 in the WTA won Indian Wells, what would the comments be saying?"

This is good point, Master Ace, but to be honest I think they'd say it's clearly an exception. In the 9 1000 level events last year on the ATP, Nadal won 3, Murray won 2, Federer won 2, Djokovic won 1, and Davydenko won 1. For the slams, Nadal: 1, Fed: 2, JMDP: 1. The only real surprises there are Kolya (who had won events at this level before, beating top players along the way) and JMDP (who was nearing the top of a steady, consistent rise in the rankings and results).

I'm not trying to bash on the WTA at all, as I think the ATP has been almost bizarrely consistent in the past few years, but this latest result would appear to very much be an outlier.

Posted by ladyjulia 03/23/2010 at 09:59 AM

Henman is returning to tennis? At Queens?

I posted on the other thread...but i don't know which is the current one.

What will happen if he and Murray square off at Queens?

Posted by VC 03/23/2010 at 10:04 AM

I don't think this will end well for Henman, but it should be interesting to see anyway. I think it would be a better option for him to save Great Britain in Davis Cup where they are really struggling.

Posted by crazyone 03/23/2010 at 10:13 AM

I think the era of crazy in MS level tourneys in the ATP too is coming.

But my main complaint is what VC said. I watched both finals on Sunday, and as soon as I started watching the men's final, I thought to myself, a-ha, they're *slicing* here! Not a shot I saw at all in the JJ-Caro final (though Caro I guess was using the moonball where others would use the slice, but...anyway), and those are two top ten WTA players. I agree the ATP player as a tour gets less criticism, but individual players often do: Roddick gets ridiculed for his "one-dimensionality", but even with his shoddiness around the net (compared to other men), I'd say he consistently displays a more varied game than most of the "top" women players these days bar Henin: movement, defense, slice, serving, even some decent volleys (there were some good volleys by Roddick on Sunday). Obviously Serena and Venus can do this too, but they're not often forced to go to it, hence the "consistently display" part.

Posted by Master Ace 03/23/2010 at 10:14 AM

Good point on the winner on Slams and Masters along with Davydenko winning the WTF. Will be interesting to see what happens in Miami.

I thought that I read where Henman is going to return on the senior tour playing at their event in November.

Posted by crazyone 03/23/2010 at 10:15 AM

er, Ladyjulia and VC: he's playing on the ATP CHAMPIONS TOUR, aka the tour for retired old farts.

Posted by Texastennis 03/23/2010 at 10:18 AM

There's no constant demeaning of Wozniacki. People here say a lot of good things her. What is the constant is that Samantha engages in continual hyperbole about her, has no sense of realistic perspective, and attacks any reasonable comment that expresses any skepticism short of acknowledging she's definitely going to win more slams than Graf:-) This of course encourages some people to have gentle humor in their comments which also goes unrecognized. It's quite wearing, even with ample use of the scroll. (Plus she sometimes seems to be fighting here with people on other boards ...)

Separate subject - I'm intrigued by the recent shift in emphasis to the WTA here. Why I wonder?

Posted by Master Ace 03/23/2010 at 10:24 AM

What make you think that about the emphasis to the WTA? :)

Posted by Samantha Elin 03/23/2010 at 10:36 AM

"People here say a lot of good things about her." Yes, the match call post is a perfect example of how "nice" they were. Tigress is absolutely correct.

Posted by ladyjulia 03/23/2010 at 10:37 AM

oh...its the seniors tour, where Marat is playing right now.

Thanks MA and c1...

Posted by Bhai Mirzai 03/23/2010 at 10:57 AM

I see a big difference when I am seeing Fed and Rafa play versus when I see Djokovic and Murray play. The difference is in the level of enjoyment they are getting. Djokovic especially looks a really tortured soul for whatever reason. As if he only wants easy wins but does not enjoy the challenge.

Murray played really good at the AO, but seemed to lose the pleasure of playing when he could not hurt Federer in the final. He was competitive in the third set, but just did not seem to be in the match.

We need Delpo back soon.

Posted by lurker 03/23/2010 at 11:15 AM

the match call post is a perfect example of how "nice" they were


Samantha Elin, they were much nicer than your posts during Caro-Vika match at Doha, for example, or any match when Caroline was winning.

Posted by robbyfan 03/23/2010 at 11:18 AM

Samantha-are you still ranting? Let it go!!! Put yourself in my place-my favorite player has been on a career downward spiral since he suprised us all a few years ago getting to the umpteenth round of a major.

I guarantee you the ones you are speaking to and admonishing are scrolling past your posts now and that is a pity.

Let it go!!!

Posted by Texastennis 03/23/2010 at 11:29 AM

Master Ace

Well I think in match calling (yours, for instance) more people seem to be here during WTA matches etc.

I think some switching in emphasis may be natural of course. My own interest has waxed and waned over the years in men's and women's sides, depending on the players and story lines.
I'm wondering if there is a Federer-Nadal fatigue at the moment - with the greatest respect to both players, five years is a long time to keep having versions of the same conversations. And their potential challengers wax and wane. WTA side has perhaps more possible relatively newer lines of thought (return of the Belgians, waxing, waning and waxing of the Williams sisters, travails of various younger supernovas etc).

Then there are aesthetic factors of course....

Posted by Nic 03/23/2010 at 11:31 AM

I think Caro has inspired the resurgence of interest in the WTA.

Posted by Master Ace 03/23/2010 at 11:37 AM

Now, I understand the question you asked. Yes, Roger/Rafael has been the dominant conversation on the ATP to the point where other players have not been to their level on a consistent basis.

Main draw action has started for the WTA in Miami

Posted by Alexis 03/23/2010 at 11:38 AM

I love tiebreaks, but I would prefer the USO not have final set tiebreaks. The day the USO title is decided in a 5th set tiebreak will be a tough, tough day, indeed. I would sooooooo hate to be the loser in that match.

That 16-14 final set at Wimbledon was so amazing. Obviously Roddick having to hold serve so many times to stay in the match was great, but in this case, I think it was just as tough for Fed (even though he served first). He had not broken Roddick all day so he knew that if he dropped his serve, the match was over. So it was basically the same situation for both guys. It was so incredibly tense! A final set tiebreak would have robbed us of all that.

Posted by adman 03/23/2010 at 11:41 AM

dude what is with James Martin's blog on Wozniacki? She reached the final of Indian Wells and she became a career high #2. Why would she need to channge her game? I absolutely hate it when people think you have to be aggressive if you want to be a better player. All I am saying is that Wozniacki's game is fine, and rather enjoyable to watch compared to the other "agressive" hit and miss players on the WTA.

Posted by Alexis 03/23/2010 at 11:41 AM

Of all people, Pete... I thought you would have given Djoker just a bit more sympathy since he did play an emotional DC the weekend before. Isner did too, of course, but Isner is not ranked #2 in the world and expected to be in the IW final.

Posted by avid sports fan aka "sigh-rena" 03/23/2010 at 11:41 AM

Hi All!

Well my day started way way early today *yawning* anyways I just want three things for WTA Miami:

1. Vee to get to SF
2. Kuzzie to get to SF
3. Winner of Vee vs Kuzzie should win the whole thing

Thanks :)

Have a good one all!

Posted by Alexis 03/23/2010 at 11:48 AM!/notes/grand-slams/nadal-offers-woods-support/378779726995

I don't much about the Tiger Woods stuff. But Rafa is right about how injuries effect your mind even after you feel okay. Roger said as much about the mono and his back.

Posted by Alexis 03/23/2010 at 11:49 AM

I meant "I don't much CARE about the Tiger Woods stuff."

I hate that we can't edit our own posts!

Posted by Alexis 03/23/2010 at 11:50 AM

For those who can't access FB, this is what the article said:

Rafael Nadal still admires scandal-hit golfer Tiger Woods and believes the media were wrong to publish details of the American world number one's private life.

"The first thing I think (about the Woods issue) is that society is in a bad way," the Spanish world number four said in an interview with Marca.

"Starting with the sports media, we have to judge Tiger as an athlete.

"His private life is his business and nobody else's. I still admire him because he is an exemplary athlete."

After going into self-imposed exile following revelations about his extra-marital affairs, Woods will return at next month's US Masters, the opening major of the year and an event he has won four times.

"It's funny because a lot of the people who criticised him now want him to come back because sport in general needs him," Nadal said.

Mallorca-born Nadal returned from a six week injury layoff to reach the Indian Wells semi-finals last week but said he was unsure if he was back to his best level following his knee problems.

"I don't know, I need to keep improving," the six-times Grand Slam winner said.

"I need to play consecutive matches and play knowing that nothing will happen to me if I push myself to the limit.

"Subconsciously I have more fear now and I don't know if the limit I am setting is the real one, the one from before."

After suffering from physical problems throughout his career, Nadal said he would give anything to be injury free.

"If you think about it, you are not only fighting against your opponent but also against yourself," he said. "And that kills you and affects your mind."

Posted by Ryan 03/23/2010 at 11:58 AM

I realy liked Martin's article of Woz. I totatlly agree. She hit that heavy topspin all day and when she get's a short ball you think she is going to come in and take command. That doesn't ahppen, she has to get out of that all defense mentaility if she want to stay on top. That kind of tennis is also draining, you are playing long points the entire match.

Posted by Neveah 03/23/2010 at 12:05 PM

Alexis,thank you for the article:)Every move he made when i watched him made me panic.I didn't want him to hurt himself again so I can only imagine what he's thinking out there.I just want him to be healthy,I don't care about the rankings or the slams right now.

Posted by Or 03/23/2010 at 12:06 PM

Andrew -

Nice story. Pity Mirka got injured and did not play on tour till after Roger became, well - Roger, though you'd have to wonder whether it would have changed things in their relationship/Roger's career, and how he would have done with Mirka doing traveling of her own, to different tournaments.

Would have been great to see them playing mixed doubles in a Slam (though I've seen them vs. Hewitt Molik in Hopman cup, Mirka wasn't exactly brilliant at the net..though they had a tough draw)

Still, it would be so cool to the twins to see that video of them playing doubles together.

Posted by lira vega 03/23/2010 at 12:10 PM

I'm not sure many top ATP players get to brag about their slices either. It's Federer, Murray and Roddick, no? Hardly that impressive...Serve is legitimate complaint, but once the neutral rally has started, I don't see much in terms of variety from most men either.

Posted by noleisthebest 03/23/2010 at 12:28 PM

Tiebreakers are rubbish. NO offence, but I bet it was an American's just love to unnecessarily simplify perfection.

Posted by Sherlock 03/23/2010 at 12:36 PM

Some interesting qualies results today.

Donald Young got introduced to the ol' woodshed by Malisse. Boo! As did Flipkens by a player I've never heard of, Koryttseva. Quite impressive. Flipkens is pretty talented, though she's never accomplished as much as folks thought she would years ago.

And AM will be pleased that Casey Dellacqua is into the main draw with a win today.

Posted by zoilena 03/23/2010 at 12:41 PM

Pete, when I was watching Ljubicic's "massive" serve, as Roddick put it down in his press conference, I remembered something that you had written some months ago: "live with serve,die with serve".I think that this is what made the great difference in Ljubicic 's game and that is what gave him the trophy in the end. As for the tiebreaker, maybe you are right to say that it is a consolation to the loser, because Nadal who also lost his semifinal in a tie break, said in his p.c:" It was an accident. I think I lost by accident."This in my opinion justifies your words that the psychology of the loser in the tiebraker is more optimistic. Lets hope that Rafa won't have many more such "accidents".

Posted by VC 03/23/2010 at 12:43 PM

Thanks for clearing that one up, crazyone..

Posted by streams 03/23/2010 at 12:44 PM

Alexis thanks for the link to interview with Rafa. Whereas in the past he used to be able to enter a zone of confidence where he could operate in that total focus on each point, now he's got too much to think about ... and too much to lose. Too much thinking is bad in tennis! Part of it is the injury, maybe part of it is also growing up. The naivety of a teen is gone

Posted by susan 03/23/2010 at 12:45 PM

from jon wertheim tweet

article in miami herald on federer

Posted by greenhopper 03/23/2010 at 12:49 PM

yo lira, are you happy about Tomljanovic?

Sherly, It's funny cuz Donaldy did the same thing to Ginepri.

Posted by Or 03/23/2010 at 12:54 PM

The thing with Roger, that it takes him time to reveal things. He waits till the problem/issue are solved/worked out for the best, and then he would share it. Mono, Back pain, and concerns about having twins in light of his and Mirka life style.

I also found it sweet that they were concerned how parenthood would change their relationship as a couple.

It seems like everything really worked out well for them. BTW, that youtube video of Roger singing through his volley practice is great. He has a good voice. Someone on tenniswarehouse reported he trained for 3 hours yesterday, sang, joked around, and looked to be in a wonderful mood.

Posted by avid sports fan aka "sigh-rena" 03/23/2010 at 12:57 PM

From the SB, Polona Hercog the "reigning" Acapulco finalist just dished out a bagel to her opponent to move on to the second round. The up and coming Latvian Anastasija has retired trailing 3-6, 0-3 in her final qualifying round match.

Posted by lira vega 03/23/2010 at 12:57 PM

Yeah, 'hopper though even if she takes this one, still not very likely I'll get to you know, actually see her ;)
A bit surprised as well, Yarka can play some tennis, I was contemplating picking her at Suicide pool at TAT.

Posted by lira vega 03/23/2010 at 01:00 PM

Aaaand she gets broken on a double fault...she'll fit right in

Posted by Tigress (basking in Sweet 16) 03/23/2010 at 01:00 PM

It seems OK among many here to harshly bash Caro, but any criticism of Nadal or pointing out the obvious, that presently he is nowhere near the great player of 2006-early 2009, (and that he may be vulnerable on clay even more so than in the late '09 clay season) is met with anger and counter-attacks, often personal. The fact is that at IW, Rafa was presented with a golden opportunity to steal a Masters title without playing a single Top 6 player. But the present B- version of Rafa couldn't do it, falling ignominiously to Llubicic, who is ranked in the '20's. Then we are informed it was an "accident" and the usual torrent of excuses begin to flow.

I think Caro is a delightful and intriguing addition to the womens' game, and it's more productive to see and speculate on how she'll develop than to demean her game. Sometimes she does hit hard attacking passing shots, so she can do it. Hope she works to improve her offense, she's come so far already. Plus, she has more of a Champion's mindset and coolness and positive attitude than most of the fragile headcases who comprise the women's tour (the Williams's, Justine and Maria excepted).

Posted by Sherlock 03/23/2010 at 01:00 PM

Good point, 'Hopper. Strange, huh? I wish I could have watched today's Young match, to see how it all went down. Kinda stinks having to face a guy of Malisse's talent level in the last match to get in.

Posted by evan 03/23/2010 at 01:01 PM

"One pleasant side effect of the tiebreaker is that it allows both players to play fairly relaxed tennis, knowing that if their serves are big enough, they don't have to be overly stressed about getting a crucial break."

this couldn't be further from the truth in my opinion. One mistake and you fall behind in a very short race, not a good position to be in. you've worked so hard to get to this point and you make one maybe two mistakes and lose the set because of it. I think that because it's a crapshoot it's that much more stressful while it's happening. Though I agree that after the fact, saying you lost in a tiebreaker is like saying "it could've gone either way" but during a tiebreaker it feels like your life is hanging on a string waiting to be cut by the opponent.

Have you ever even played a tiebreaker Pete?

Posted by CL 03/23/2010 at 01:01 PM

Don't call him Sherly!!!!!


Posted by Sherlock 03/23/2010 at 01:09 PM

It's been said about a thousand times lately, but it's pretty clear that the Samantha factor plays heavily into the Caro discussion. Simple cause and effect. When that changes, the Caro discussion will also change.

As for Nadal, can you point us to the "usual torrent of excuses"? He choked a bit and lost. That's about all I've seen the past few days. *shrug*

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis, 2010 USO Champ!!!) 03/23/2010 at 01:09 PM

That was a nice article on the Fed, was it this time last year when dude was in a funk both mental and is totally what have you done for me lately, I still can't believe that the Fed's racquet smash was breaking news on

Ernie FTW!!! (I know he's not playing but ummm it's my new calling card...LMAO)

Posted by Sherlock 03/23/2010 at 01:11 PM

*slaps forehead as in the old "Wow, I could have had a V8" commercials*

LOL, CL. Well done! I should have thought of that. :)

Posted by Sherlock 03/23/2010 at 01:12 PM

Do you still have snow left, CL? :)

Posted by wjr 03/23/2010 at 01:15 PM

i love how every one makes excuses for rafa?????i wonder if he wins ao and wimbleton if fed does,nt get mono,or his back goes out. hmmmmmmmm.

Posted by greenhopper 03/23/2010 at 01:16 PM

Meet me after sun down behind the car shed for non-creepy jinx lessons.
But that was a majorly impressive hold from 0-40, throwing in aces like they were bird feed.

(Is this an on-topic post? Err, sorry.)

Posted by manuelsantanafan 03/23/2010 at 01:20 PM

"Torrent of excuses"

I'm guilty as charged.

My rivulet that was made up part of the torrent of excuses was that Ljubicic played better than Rafa by winning more of the important points.

I'll try to refrain from such excuse-making in the future.

So, Rafa is to be condemned for losing to a player ranked in the 20s.

Imagine how bad it would have been had Rafa lost to a player ranked in the 30s, such as . . .



Marcos Baghdatis

Posted by Tigress (basking in Sweet 16) 03/23/2010 at 01:21 PM

" love how every one makes excuses for rafa?????i wonder if he wins ao and wimbledon if fed does,nt get mono,or his back goes out."

Answers: AO: No. Wimbledon: Possibly.

Posted by lira vega 03/23/2010 at 01:24 PM

Regina Kulikova of the Dubai QF glory dishes out two breadsticks to Woerle, could be difficult opponent for someone in MD; Petra Martic of the Wickmayer beating glory (one of the best matches of the season, IMO) a break up against Coin and Rybarikova comes back from a set and a break down to beat Hradecka of the match-points-against-Ivanovic-holding glory. Did Magda hit bit of a sophomore slump? Don't remember her doing anything of note this year...

BTW, Bismarck? Arun? Jacko? I'm not that regular these days, but haven't seen them in a loooong time 'round these parts

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