Monday, 21 December 2009

Erm christmas break...
see ya next year

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Federer V Davydenko

Well its 3-1 in the first set.  But its Davydenko with the break...Federer rolled through his opening game, and had break points in Davy's but  a few errors and the Russian held.  The more errors including double faults lost him his serve.
And again. 4-1 to Davydenko...crazy times, Federer has beaten Davydenko the last million times (that isnt actually much of an exaggeration, Davydenko last got a set from Feds in 2006, and has lost all 12 times they've played...ok it was a bit of an exaggeration.)

Well a few Federer shots and he breaks back to 4-2...then makes some more mistakes to give Davydenko 2 break points and it goes to 5-2 to Davydenko.
Weird stuff.

Good serving and Davys got 3 set points...erm 2 set points...he put the first one wide but Roger puts his return in the net...
Davydenko takes first set 6-2
Kind of dull

Prize money is $1,630,000 for the undefeated winner...$120,000 participation fee...and apparently extra bonuses from sponors
But it's not about the money (that's why they keep telling us all about it)
You can easily find out how much each player has earned in the year, and their entire career but I wonder whether that covers appearance fees? It certainly doesnt cover sponsorship and off court monies...
But its not about the money...

Second set and Feds started well, but he started well last set...
oh dear Roger's cross and he kicked a ball away in annoyance..
we're at deuce on Davy's serve, he better be careful...wooo he does a cross court slicy dipping shot (probs not whats it called, but impressive not the less)...One in the tram lines- less impressive...Ace, always a winner (he he he, tennis joke)...into the tramlines (boo)...he finally holds 2-2.

Federer playing much better and its on serve 4-3.
Andy Castle thinks he may have been kept up late by his new twins...

Well Roger still not playing well but he manages to get two set points....whacks the first one into the stands and makes a funny noise, but a long rally and Davy goes wide, Roger shouts yes...
According to Andy Castle this is him 'engaging' in the match...

And so to a third set
And Federers playing well, finally, poor Davy
Well it's all down to Federer really, on his day he just better than everyone, but right now he's playing well on his serve and less well on Davy's.  Could be close.
and it keeps going, Federer leds 5-4 on serve, but Davy will have to serve to stay in the match.   Ah the benefits of serving first.  Really not fair if Fedo wins, but it feels inevitable. 
Fed gets a really lucky net cord, then plays an awesome shot, then sends one long, another long? hawkeye challenge...and its out 30-30...super long rally Davy never stops hitting the ball, game point for Niko, Fed sends the return long
Most exciting game of the match so far...only taken 2 hrs
Davydenko gets into Federer's serve and breaks...I wasn't really paying attention though, but the Russian leads
two great serves, then he sends one long, another long (ish) rally and Davy goes long again, 30-30, awesome cross-court backhand (i think ) from Fed, break back point...woo awesome from Davy deuce...nice serve right on the line and Fed nets the return...match point...and Fed nets
Davydenko wins, and Fed is out. 6-2 4-6 7-5

ATP Tour Finals- Semi-Finals

We wont talk about the picture of Jamie Murray and girl which is being flashed about everywhere...I hate her.

Anyway, the semi-finals are today
Roger Federer V Nikoli Davydenko (just guessed the spelling)
Juan Del Potro V Robin Soderling

Nadal lost all his round robin matches unbelievably, Andy Murray was pushed out by a game (Murray, Federer, and Del Potro had all won 2 and lost 1, and won the same number of sets, so it went to the number of games each had won- Roger had defo gone through but Del Potro waited on court 25mins before anyone told him whether he'd gone through- this morning Sue Barker, Tim Henman and Andy Castle- you know the real British tennis heavy weights- all agreed it was outrageous, I think the ATP aren't very good with sums and Del Potro played some fun tennis with Tevez who I understand is a footballer that he's friends with).  Last years winner Novak Djokovic who is very tired apparently (not seen his matches) won 2 and lost one but was also knocked out by someone else winning their match- Davydenko.

So we're predicting Del Potro V Federer in the Final Final, and since Juan beat him on Thursday and in the US Open I like him for the win- I want him to win, he's nice and tall- I think I mentioned that before.  But he's really really tall.
And he's nice.
And tall.

Ok Feds V Davy

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Well they sort of started playing at some point in the third set, Murray was serving first giving him the advantage.  So Verdasco came close to winning when he nearly broke Murray, but then close to losing when Murray nearly broke him, then it went to tie-break.  Which Murray won.
Still have to wait and see if he goes through to the semis
And no more sightings of Big J.


Set point to Verdasco, but Murray serves well to save it
The second set much like the first but Murray serving a bit better and Verdasco making fewer errors
Murray may have won the game with an ace and another scream, but was a let- but then he does it again wth an unreturnable serve and slightly smaller scream.
Castle is in awe of the power that you see in Murray or something- I think it was the screaming.
Verdasco has the advantage of serving first in this set meaning he's always a game ahead (as long as he holds all his service games) , but they both look tired and Murray is up a set and has just saved a set point, 5-5- 30-15 to Murray.  verdasco gets a double fault but challenges...
And it's out, so its 5-5 40-15 to Murray and he could break here and serve for the match.
Good serve and overhead and its 40-30...
Nice volleying right into the corner and its deuce...
But a bad miss and its advantage Murray...
Wooo lefty serve all bouncy and another volley thing (i think they all have special names) and its deuce...
Oh double fault and its advantage Murray...
Another lefty serve right in the corner, Murray hits long and pulls a horrid face and its deuce...
Nice down the line shot (I think I like those the best) and its advantage Verdasco finally...
And Fernando holds and its 6-5 to Verdasco...


Murray managed to break Ferny- there was a cool rally which FV should have won but his missed the shot and Andy made that rat face.
He then served up 2 double faults and is really struggling to serve it out. set point- oh into the net by Verdasco.
Andy Castle described it as a professional performance by both players- which begs the question what on earth do the amateurs do?  Throw the ball with their hands?
They showed Big J again, from the side, didn't do it for me in profile, maybe it was cos he was sat next to his dad...?
Second set starting...

Murray V Verdasco

Oh my, oh me oh my.  Watching A. Murray against Fernando Verdasco in the first of the last matches in the round robins-
who cares whats hapening, Jamie Murray is in the crowd with sexy beard and toussled hair, its all working, and I'm feeling all of a flutter.
Now ugly Murray back on screen and its preferable to concentrate on the tennis- too many unforced errors by Verdasco (who takes about 3 hrs to get ready for each point, and who's T-shirt looks a bit giraffe like on the back  but like a boring Addidas number on the front), and poor serving by Murray (who's in blue to match the court, the stands, and the weird blue lighting) means its all rather even stevens.  And even though there is good tennis happening its quite great point, bad point, great point etc.   Leaves one with the feeling that one would rather have another shot of Big J.
Or just some better tennis.
3-3 on serve in first set, but Murray has break point, 1st serve is a fault, second is crazy awesome ace.  Just to vindicate my earlier point, thanks Nando. Another ace seals the game.  Go spaniard number 2 (Nadal being spaniard number one of course, but he lost both his matches and is out, although he still have to play another match cos its round robin, which just seems cruel).  Robin Soderling won his 2 and will defo go through to the final, Federer also won his 2 and will probably go through (definately if he wins his match today, but also if he loses and Murray loses, or if he loses and Murray winsbut Murray lost more games than him, and then theres something to do with Del Potro who could go through if he beats federer or if he loses and Murray aso loses...and Verdasco has lost both his matches but could still go through it he beats Murray, and Del Potro loses, or Del Potro wins but loses more see...this is just group A...and this is why round Robins are stupid and brilliant in equal measure.)
Andy just screamed out his own name...which is weird...and you feel sorry for his girlfriend...its cos he missed a shot and hes a freak
4-4 30-30

Sunday, 22 November 2009


so Murray won, JDP kinda crumbled in the end.
And the Federer match doesnt appear to be on nm, can't remember who he's playing anyway.


5-2 in the second set, but to Del Potro this time.  He played a weak game to finish the first set 3-6, but came back fantastically, and once he started playing well suddenly Murray looked rather dull.  So Delpo is 5-2 up and Murray is keeping him waiting while he gets his racket out (not a euphemism thankfully). 
Can't deny Murray started this game with a great shot...
And a rather duff one- 30-30 now, whooosh Juan hits one right into the stands, very exciting, probs not what he was going for though, oh lame Andy deuce, good serve game point Murray, shot goes long, deuce, apparently its only best of 3 sets, I thought 5, another game point Murray, aw Juan into the net and Murray holds. 
Its all rather flat really. 
And while I try to figure what the hell action research is, Del Potro collects a few set points.  Murray somehow wins a pretty cool rally, but big big J still has one set point, and he wins it with the biggest shot in the world- awesomeness.
Onto a third set.

ATP tour finals- 1st round robin Murray V Del Potro

Andy Murray is 4-0 up in the first set against Juan Del Potro, and Andy Castle has never seen him look so sharp at the beginning of a tournament...the fact that Castle says this at the start of every single Murray match would, youd think, take something away from this statement.  I have to agree that Murray looks good to win, but rather more down to some errors from Potro, and then he hurt his foot and then he got a hose bleed.  Not the Argentine's best match, but he was injuried post US Open, and has only played 1 full match since. 
5-0 now. 
Come on Juan, pull your socks up.  Wipe your nose.  He had a break point in Murrays first game and missed it, could have been very different had he got off to a winning start...well 5-1 at least.
Oh he's won a point.  We're on a roll...well the beginning of a roll.
And he's lost the next one.  Henman says Del Potro wont wangt to lose the first set 6-0...Im so glad he's on our sommentating team, could you imagine if another channel had snapped him up and was getting all his insights, of course most people could figure out that he wouldn't want to lose 6-0 but it takes 10 years of playing 'consistent' tennis to really know it.
Hey hey game point Delpo...and he gets it...hurrah...5-1, now we're cooking with gas. 
Castle and Henman agree that losing that game will be good for Murray in the long run, because losing a set 0-6 can spur you on or something...oh good i was worried about him
oh my...break point for big big J (hes like 7 feet tall or something)...gone...deuce (that means 40-40, which is only 4 points won each, but the scoring system is half french, half clock, and half mad)...set point to Murray..gone awesome...deuce again (so 40-40 but 6 points each, but it doesnt matter about the number, except it gets a bit tiring) another awesome Pot shot, another break point...ace is challenged by DP, and it was wide so Del Potro wins game and its 5-2
I was gonna stop at the end of the set but its not ending as soon as I thought (who's complaining, go Juan), so Ill stop now and catch you up later.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Changes and waitings

Can you even recognise the place?
Ive changed the picture, changed the poll, added a RSS feed thingamy, and added some suggestion comments at the bottom of posts.
Its a brave new world.
Tennis wise- not much on- still waiting for tour finals to start the sunday coming, although now Andy Roddick has pulled out with a wonky knee or something does anyone really care? Roger wins well he's won everything, Murray wins well he's a twat, Djokovic wins and hes quite cute but a bit whiny, Nadal could win which would please my sister, and Del Potro could win and he's quite tall.  I haven't like Roger (did I tell you this?) since he beat Roddick at Wimby (when he didn't deserve to) and then staggered around with 15 on his jumper (cos he's won 15 slams, ya see? and cos his sponsors just 'gave it to him', ya know, and he's the most successful tennis player around, practically ever and he obviously couldn't say no to them). I'm leaning towards Del Potro because he beat Roger at the US Open or Djoko Because he's keeping Murray from moving up the rankings. 
Jamie Murray's moved up a few places, not back into top 100 yet but closing in.  Hurrah.  It pleases me. 
Just look at his website- if that's not a Just Seventeen pin-up waiting to happen (if that particular publication still existed) I don't know what is.
Well that's all from me until Sunday (for the Tour Finals- you forgot about it didn't you) when I'll at me watching-tennis-live-best

Monday, 9 November 2009

Rankings Rating

The votes are in (at some point, I havent really been paying attention) and Andy Roddick's bikini model wife is the most annoying thing about him, Andre Agassi's still a tip-tip bloke according to Murray, and Serena Williams is till obnoxious, I mean a winner at the end of year Finals.
Just summing up some of the events of the past few weeks that have shaken the tennis world (so much that I havent written a blog since 28th Oct, just been too darn excited).

In actual news, Andy Murray has come back from injury and won a title in Valencia.  Shall we hail the greatness that is Murray, or possible remember he's had several weeks of rest with a hurty arm, and as a top seed he gets a bye in the first round.  That means he doesnt have to play the first round, that means he played 3 matches to win.  And won a squillion dollars probably, when you take the appearance fee into account.  I rather think the top players have it a little too easy, better schedules, better courts (with hawkeye, with big crowds, with attention and TV coverage), hotel rooms paid for, appearance fees ($10,000 just to turn up), and they dont have to play each other in the first rounds- purposefully contrived so they play qualifyers and wildcards. 
You may say they have earned these benefits by playing well enough to win enough to get their ranking high enough, and its true I suppose.  But when you consider that rankings points have to be maintained- so if you win 250 points at wimbledon 2009, you keep them until wimbledon 2010 when you have to earn the same or better or you lose them- and then possible lose a ranking place or too.  More pressure on top players to continue to win matches and keep their points... Not really.  Its quite hard to move up and down in the top 20, such a big gap between ranking points.  And dropping from 5 in the world to 6, is hardly career threatening.  However, lower down in the rankings its much easier to slip 50 places at a time, and dropping outside of the top 100 makes life much harder as you cant get into big tournaments that you may have won big points at the year before.  So you drop further. 
Top players are further insulated by the byes, as mentioned previously...How much easier it is to win a tournament when you play one less match, and you automatical get into the second round, and automatically win the ranking points for getting into the second round (and the prize money while we're on the subject). 

Well if it was J. Murray that had won, I may feel differently, but doubtful.  I am a little upset that he has dropped out of the top 100 in the doubles.  I think he's played all his tournaments for the year, so his drop of about 20 places is more to do with other people winning matches and knocking him down.  Which just goes to show how easy it is to fall out of the top 100. It wont be much of a grand slam in australia if Big J is not there next Feb.   Well in my opinion.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Sporting behaviour

So Agassi's been surfing high on the ol' CM (I have no idea what the street name for Crystal Meth is, it seems unlikely that's its CM, but maybe thats what The Meth* does,  makes you really boring and unoriginal?  Would explain the latter half of Agassi's career... Apparently it was cut by his assisstant Slim (enough said I think), in 1997.  He then lied to the ATP drug testers when he failed a drug's test, saying he accidentally drank one of Slim's spiked drinks.

He has graciously offered this information in his new autobiography (yes, one wasn't enough).  It raises some interesting questions, with obvious answers- like will he lose the titles he won (including grand slams) after the failed drgus test, as you would if you admitted using a performancing enhancing drug rather than a recreational drug (that's what they call them), and the answer is no obvious there would be outcry- he's a great legend, he's done such good things for the sport, he workd with children, he's confessed, just let sleeping dogs lie.  The confession angle is an interesting one, as if it absolves all guilt.  The fact that he lied about it at the time, and has confessed in a book hes trying to sell may slightly undermine this point just a bit.

My personal opinion (well its my blog, so I guess its all my personal opinion, and I just try to pretend like Im objective) is that it would be nice if there was some sense of dissappointment from the usual tennis-ers who will be asked to comment, for the following reasons. 
1.There would be for anyone otehr than Agassi
2.I just know there wont be for Agassi
3.They have to answer questions about Agassi's drug taking, instead of their tennis, in their press conferences, and isn't that just a bit annoying??
4.They also have to take drug tests, and most accept this necessary inconvenience to maintain the integrity of the sport
5.Agassi's revalation only serves to undermine the integrity of the sport, and sell his book

I don't suggest that recreational drugs are as bad as performancing enhancing drugs, in terms of tennis, but it's still clearly against the rules, and he compounded his actions by lying to the ATP officials.   He has said he felt his career was on the line, but for a recreational drug he would only have served a 3 month ban- hardly his career.  Anyway, one can only hope nobody reads the papers for a while and the story dissappears...And maybe they can finally talk about tennis for once?

*oooh much better name, and I always call things The..., why didnt I think of it?

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Became a bit of a numbers game...

I think the ATP World Tour Finals in London next month (to give its full name) will be exciting, its in London and will actually be shown on actual TV channels, that I actually own (actually to be more acurate and even more exciting it will be on free to air channels, that you don't need to 'own', although you do need to pay for licence, but our landlord takes care of that...anyhoo...).  The Finals (to give an abbreviated name, so that I can get down to business and not waste precious time and energy on excess wordage) are a sort of climax to the year. 

Sort of in the sense that it is the top 8 men (the women going to Doha this year) who have worked hard all year to raise and maintain their rankings will compete against each other.  The best 8 men in the world will battle to determine the best player.  Although by this time in the year there is a sense of tiredness and ennui about the whole thing (if I correctly understand the meaning of ennui), and perhaps because of this it doesn't have the same importance as a Grand Slam (the holy grail), or a Masters event (the next level down and really rather lucrative.  Although The Finals 'let players earn'/ give away stupid money: $5 million total prize money).

One aspect I can't decide whether I like or dislike, whether it increases the suspense or diminishes it: players can guarantee their places months before The Finals take.  At the moment the top 6 men have already qualified, they have amassed enough points so that no one can knock them out of the top 8 before the end of the season. Although there remain two spots up for grabs and its all to play for the 3 or 4 players competing for those places (increased suspense), the top 6 are basically the same top 6 we've had all year. When top players compete the tennis might be good but does it matter that much who wins?  I mean do you want to see the top players who have been winning everything all year, winning something else?

I started this by saying The Finals would be exciting, and I think they will be- but maybe thats because Ive hardly seen any tennis this year.  Im looking for a Roddick vs Del Potro in the final in The Finals.

Friday, 16 October 2009

The Unreported World

Well, its been a while since my last post and I wonder whether my patient fans-a-plenty will still be there waiting... The Gymnastic championships have taken over London and 73 male tennis players have pulled out of the Shanghi Masters (inc Andy Roddick, see previous post, and Del Potro, see whatever post it was that I mentioned him), its easy to see how people have lost a little interest in tennis.

Our own Katie O' Brien (who? I know, bare with me) won a match at WTA tour level, not long after breaking into the top 100, which was a good result.  Not that anyone would know because no one ever mentions her, well not very much.   And here I have two gripes. One, that no one reports lower level tournaments, and two, that no one reports womens events.  Last year when Jelena Jankovic was actually playing super fantastic she won three tournaments back to back.  The Guardian (only newspaper I read) gave her about a paragraph nicely slotted into a two page story about Andy Murray sneezing or hurting his foot or something.

Frustratingly womens sports (because there is such a genre as 'womens sports') get little attention, so people don't know about the players or sucesses, and therefore no one wants to watch them play.  A nice vicious circle ensues.  The England womens football team got to the final of the European Cup, the first time an England team have reached an international final since 1966.   More attention has been given to the Mens Premier League or England Mens World Cup qualifying, which we can all agree is really boring.

Lower level tournaments get little attention either, so although our players have won titles in the last few months because they weren't at tour level they were hardly reported (unless you have a subscription to LTA weekly or whatever).  Similar to my gripe about Doubles Tennis; so rarely on TV, so rarely mentioned, so rarely remembered.

Katie O'Brien incidentally was beated by Wozniacki in the second round, shame, if she had won it would have been a boo yah ending to my email.  Well thats my understanding of boo yah anyway.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Autumn falls

Oh Andy, whats happening?
The Roddick was supreme at Wimbledon- blasting his way into the final and back into my heart (bikini model wife be damned).  He did amazingly after he and others believed he would never play at that level again  (seems harsh since hes remained dancing in the top 10 for the better part of a decade).  Of course he lost the final to Federer some how, seriously I have no idea how he managed to lost it and i watched it.  He had 5 set points in the second set tie break to take a 2 sets to love lead, but somehow lost it.
He should have won, and maybe deep down he feels he blown his last  chance and its made him go crazy...?
Losing in the 3rd round of the US Open and now in the first round of the China Open is not the best end of the year.  I may have some personal bitterness in this as I stayed up until 2am watching the Live Text Updates on the BBC during his US Open match against John Isner only for him to lose, and for me to feel rather rough in the morning.
This part of the year is always a little lack lustre- the slams are over and every feels tired and tennis-ed out.  But after such a great summer a few poor performances may leave a bad taste in Andy's mouth.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Mixed Bag Results

Sigh...a deep sigh not quite of relief..but that order is being restored to the world.

My boy is back in the top 100, where he belongs.  (Actually he belongs in the top 10, but baby steps). I refer of course to Big J Murray who has won 3 titles recently, and is now at 97 (up from 130).  A glance at his ranking stat on the ATP page (well worth a gander, but not a lady in sight) and the most surprising figure is that of 37, which is the number of tournaments he has played this year.  Of course when you keep losing in the first round its not quite as tiring, but Andy Roddick has played 3 and is 10 places higher ranked.  This is in doubles, and this just shows how bad Big J got, and how many tournies he's had to play to get somewhere respectable.

In the women's game the seeds are falling and Sharapova and Jankovic are doing well.  Seems like so long ago that the two of them were poised to take over the world.  Maria slightly better poised having won 3 grand slams already.  But this time last year I wasn't alone thinking the current world number one (Jankovic) would definately win a grand slam in 2009.  She was playing great and very consistent.  Sound similar to another number one we all know (Safina, duh).  Possibly all this playing great tennis, high level, and consistently rather takes its toll.  Kim Clisjters former coach put forward the very sensible thought that a key factor in her US Open win was that she had trained for 7 months without the pressures of playing on the tour. 

And then there's Ana Invanovic...but she seems dumber than a box of hair so I find it hard to care about her...

Saturday, 26 September 2009

What do you mean..we won?

Wow- suddenly its a good thing to be a British tennis player.  We've had a good week.  I say 'we' because by sitting on my ass watching the tennis, or reading about it online I feel like an integral member of the team.

Coline Fleming and Ken Skupsi (who I think sounds a bit like a pokemon) reached their first ATP tour final at the Open de Moselle (Moselle Open), which gets them into the top 100.  I guess we'll have to wait until tomorrow to see if they win but a good result nontheless.  Oh, by the way these were the doubles players who were not deemed good enough to play in the doubles match in Davis Cup last week- you know the won we lost.

I checked to see if my Jamie (Murray) was doing well and found that his ranking has moved to 106 (from around 130) and he and his partner Jamie Dalgado (Jamie2) had won their 3rd title in 5 weeks at the ATP challenger in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

And Elana Baltachea and Katie O'Brien both moved into the top 100 when Baltachea beat O'Brien in the ITF challenger in Shrewsbury.  I saw an interview with Baltachea and she said her aim was to move into the top 100 so as to qualify for the Australian Open.  Let's just hop she can maintain this ranking as these things can be precarious.

Alright so they're not the most pretigious events but they still attract a decent amount of tough competition- imagine playing against people of a similar abilty and ranking all of whom are desparate to win.  If these players can build from these results we could lay the foundations for a great 2010.  Shame Anne Koethathong is missing out on the fun (injured).

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Hope for the Future...Again!

It's a very British thing- part of our psyche- and possibly something Gordon Brown's gonna have put into the constitution (if not the British constitution then the LTA's guidebook at least)- that a young tennis player losing her match is seen as signs of potential for the future.

Heather Watson is only 17, from Gurnsy (wherever that is), and playing in her first senior tournament in Canada (hmm I know where that is).  She is ranked somewhere around 760 and played a player of 133.  It was a close match and she took 18 games from her opponent before losing in straight sets.  It definately does show her potential, after winning the US Open junior tournament, that she can transition from junior to senior.  Something her 'colleague' Laura Robson (2yrs younger) has managed to do also since winning the girls Wimbledon.

I imagine that people may criticise an attitude that looks for good-performances-to-show-potential-for-the-furture and would quite like us to just start winning stuff.  And I would quite agree if a player starts a match looking beaten and hoping to do well (meaning I hope I dont fall over too many times), which really seems to be embedded into the national psyche.  But losing to an opponent who is higher ranked and played well is nothing to be ashamed off. 

The confidence and determination to play well and win seems to applied liberally to tiny players in other countries- I think Americans get an injection at birth so they already have an advantage.  And I mentioned before (you'll all remember) I think British players are rather left behind.  But our young girls and women seem to catching up quicker than the men.  Even if they are world beaters (yet) they perform well at lower level tournaments, and beat players they are 'supposed to'. 

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Henin Returns

Justine Henin who retired about 15months ago is to return to tennis next year, and I can't think of any who would be less than delighted by the news (well perhaps some of the other female players?).  Henin triumphed at 5"5 when the average height of the women players is 5"10 (and this 5"6-er thinks thats cause for celebration), she packed her tiny frame with muscle and actually hit the ball pretty damn hard, but also beat the other women with her excellent movement.  She also had a backhand that could kill a goat...

Inevitably, her return will lead to disscussions that 'the women's game really needs her', and general implications that women's tennis is falling to pieces.  While I would never suggest that women's tennis is perfect or without need for improvement, it interests and angers me the men's tennis is never put critical scrutiny.  When the grand slam prize money was made equal people were complaining that the women did not deserve it because they weren't as good as the men.  Ignoring the fact that the percieved quality of a tennis match is rather hard to measure, those commentors rather missed the point.  Men were not played more because they were better (or even because they play longer matches, as most the time they play best of 3 to gain ranking points for entry into grand slams) but because they were men.  Consider two players, male and female, playing one match at wimbledon and losing in 3 sets, the matches may have been the same length in time but the man will still walk away with more money.  Or he would have before the equal prize money.

As in most sports the womens game has missed out on decades of support and financial aid and has fought hard to catch up, but they are under a much more constant and severe scrutiny than the men.  When Rafa Nadal beats his opponent 6-2 6-3 6-2 or something similar he's looking like a potential champion, when Serena Williams beats someone 6-3 6-3 its an example of a lack of depth in the women's game.  And if a top seed falls early in a major tournament (just what on earth happened to women at Flushing Meadows? ) it always 'says something'- as in 'what does this say about the women's game?'.

The tennis player with the most criticism recently is probably Dinara Safina- for what I hear you cry- for becoming worl number one without winning a grand slam.  Dinara has been to 3 grand slam finals (two this year) so to say she does badly in slams would be more than a little unfair (I suppose it doesn't really help that she plaued more like a frightened child that a champion in those finals but still..).  She has collected her ranking points by being consistent and successful throughout the year.  Serena Williams has described herself as the 'real number one' an arrogant and obnoxious thing to suggest in my mind- yes she has won 2 grand slams this year and that is a fantastic achievment she rarely plays to her full potential in smaller tournaments (if she did she would have won them all).  Serena cares about tennis when there's a spotlight to shine in and has become a tennis star absolutely but hardly the greatest player.

I started this by mentioning Justine Henin's return and it's interesting to note who it was that beat Justine in her last match, in Berlin 2008, in three sets, coming from 5-2 down in the second; Dinara Safina.

Monday, 21 September 2009

A Deserving Loss

Great Britain did indeed lose their Davis Cup Tie against Poland- no real surprise, Andy Murray won his match fairly comfortably which meant the 5th and decisive match would be between our current number two (not by rankings just by who they've picked for today, a filtering process which I would recommend they change) Dan Evans and their number 2 Pryzsiezny (I spelt that from memory, I though you should know). Przysiezny ranked about 380 places below Evans who is just outside the top 300 should have been easy to beat.  But never underestimate the British ability to grab defeat from the jaws of victory.  Evans lost in 3 sets, and it seemed obvious to me from the outset that he would- not based on his abilty as he is tipped to defo break the top 100 (we're really aiming high).  But rather his body language during his first match, which he also lost in straight sets.  He was hanging his head and looking like a beaten man after the first set, he never looked dynamic or confident, not even a pretence of it.

Post match he said that he believed he played ok, and just needed to do 'more of the same' on Sunday.  Now I know that the score line doesnt always tell the full story and there are numerous factors within any sports, but to lose in 3 sets and say you're just gonna do 'more of the same', seems, well, mental?  Apparently this was also the advice he had recieved from his coaching team, kinda makes you wonder whether this was an elaborate punk- but who was being punked its hard to tell.  During these enlightening mini interviews I delcared aghast (to an entirely empty room, but thats a different story) 'its another andy murray'.   While some like Andy's monosyllabic-i never smile or look like I enjoy what I do- rough around the edges- totally not a media darling attitude to life, and while young Dan Evans is still only 19 and 19 yeard old men are , you know, like 12 and cant really be expected to be a press delight, I compared this to other tennis players of a similar age and fear the Brits come up short. 

Rafa Nadal won the Frech Open when he was 19, Andy Roddick and Marat Safin the US Open when they were 20, and although they may all have had unfortunate experiments with facial hair and probably written guitar ballads or epic poetry for their girlfriends entitled 'Jessica- A Ballad' or something... erm... Oh yes  Tennis wise they were mature physically and mentally, prepared for the pressures and ready to win.  Not all professional players will be that successful, in fact most wont be but for whatever reason our players appear to be mumbling and shuffling in the grand tradition of British teenage stereotypes, while in other countries teenage sports people are confident and mature.  Just something to think about.

It might be why Dan Evans ranked 380 places above his opponent lost, I should point out that his opponent had been as high as 190 (at least 110 places above Evans) in Spring this year...Dropped a rather alarming number of places, wonder what happened...I think though the most important factor for me, is that while I read in the paper today Andy Murray may not be motivated to play Davis Cup anymore as we are now relegated to Euro-Africa group 2 and he's far too fancy for that, Przyseizny described Davis Cup as the most tournament in his season.  Reason enough to say they deserved to win, and we deserved to lose.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Davis Cup again?!!

Why, yes once more it is Davis Cup time boys and girls, although I dont think this the final...or maybe it is...or it is for some teams but not others...or something.  Irrelavent anyway as Britain are playing to prevent further relegation.   But its always nice to see tennis on TV and doubly nice to see doubles.  The athletic overbending to reach impossible lobs, the superhuman flicks of the wrist to chip and win, the rush to the net and so on.  So  much more exciting than the singles, Im sure we all agree...or perhaps not. 

Because doubles tennis is so often relegated to tea-time matches on untelevised courts for a fraction of the money and glory.  These days they don't even play best of 3 sets but 2 sets and a tie-break.  A silly way to make the macthes shorter and fit it around the real tennis- mens singles of course.  I hate the new formula but maybe its just me and the players love it.  We'll never know of course because their comments are never reported.   I don't claim to love doubles as much as singles, how could I - I never get to see it.  As most people in Britain I see doubles a little at Wimbledon and in Davis Cup.  Which makes the doubles match in Davis Cup ties all the more significant.  How nice to see real doubles players playing real doubles...

The fact that half the British team was made up with a singles player undermined this slightly.  Where was Jamie Murray?  After seeing Murray/Hutchins on the list I harboured dilluded hopes of seeing my fave fuzzy haired scot- but no.  Big J (as I like to call him) has not been at his best lately and seen his ranking drop from around 27 at the early part of the season to around 130.  So our pathetic excuse for a Davis Cup Team was lead, anchored, and messiah-ed by A Murray (my least fave fuzzy haired scot).  With all the constant prattle about making a sustainable Davis Cup Team and not a 1 man show, this Liverpool tie seem determined to put on a remarkable 1 man show.

Not down to the genius of Murray Jnr(despite what the commentators say, and if Andy would just let them all have a fresh A4 picture to take to bed, as the old copies have started to wear), but the fact that they decided to put him in 3 matches and talk non stop about him.  Andy Castle (former tennis player, part-time GMTV presenter, and current commentator) let it be known that Andy Murray was the only 'world class player' out there. The fact that the Polish doubles team have played 20 ties and are ranked in the top ten is apparently meaningless. Surprise Surprise they Polish team have just won in 4 sets, as they were clearly the better team, even if they can't quite walk on water like Andy probably can.

Dan Evans also lost his first singles game (which means he'll probably have to win the 5th and final match of the tie for Britain to win). I wonder who exactly picked him.  I mean maybe hell go on to do great things, but I miss Alex Bogdanovic.  At least Bogo gave you 5 sets of excellent tennis before he lost.  If the Davis Cup team want to produce a good performance, or really shake things with a win, they need to cultivate a real team.  Or alternatively forfeit the other two singles matches, and have the other guys carry Andy Murray out on a throne??  But as Andy doesnt seem to be able to play 3 matches without hurting his wrist or bruising his knee.  Maybe they should find a couple of doubles players to play the doubles?

It's Tennis-tastic or My First Blog

Just in case you couldn't tell this be a tennis blog. I used to think tennis was rather dull, strangely around the time ole Tim used to play, but then when I was 17, in the middle of my As exams, when I should have been studying it suddenly got really interesting.

I maintain that sport is fantastic, its passionate and exciting, and there's nothing else that makes you feel so involved when you're sat at home in your living room and PJ's as live sport. (highlights do not count). But if you don't understand the rules, or know who the players are that you dont know who's winning and you probably don't care.

That's one of the reasons I think there should be more tennis on tv, instead of just a 2 weeks manis at wimbledon. Oh yes before I forget, I'm British (in fact I'm English but I cover for it be saying I'm British), so I don't have 59 sports channels to pick from, and most of my tennis knowledge comes from the scraps of information from the BBC site.

I'm also dyslexic, so expect spelling errors (but I make up for it with lots of commas and brackets). Enjoy.