Friday, January 12, 2007

Wk.2- Nevermind?

Sure, he got fined for saying it, but maybe Nikolay Davydenko was right about no one really caring about these tune-up events that take place a few days before the start of the Australian Open.

And not just on the men's side, either,

This week, both Week 1 Gold Coast finalists (Dinara Safina & Martina Hingis) lost their 1st Round matches, while Nadia Petrova and Svetlana Kuznetsova retired from their opening matches with varying degrees of illness and injury... meeting their WTA commitment to show up, but doing the bare minimum once they got there in order to be sure they'd be able to play in the REALLY important tournament that starts on Monday in Melbourne. They were willing to sacrifice Sydney, but not the Australian Open.

Fines aside, the facts say that Davydenko is probably right. Which makes you wonder how effective all the WTA's efforts to curb injuries (by cutting the schedule) and prevent top-tier event pull-outs (by requiring players to appear in a certain number of them) will ultimately be. Players are going to play when they want, and they're going to simply put in an appearance when they want, as well, if they feel it's in their best interest to have only a cameo in said event.

As with leading a horse to water but not being able to make Barbaro drink, you can lead a player to the court but you can't MAKE them play with everything they have if they don't think it's important enough to do so. You know, like in an event "no one cares about" the week before a slam... as Davydenko points out.

Of course, they "Dorothy Tour" events are certainly important to the players who actually WIN them. So, for the likes of Kim and Anna, let me just say, "Wow! It doesn't get any better than this!"


S: Kim Clijsters d. Jelena Jankovic 4-6/7-6/6-4
D: Groenefeld/Shaughnessy d. Bartoli/Tu

S: Anna Chakvetadze d. Vasilisa Bardina 6-3/7-6
D: Likhovtseva/Vesnina d. Medina-Garrigues/Ruano-Pascual


PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Kim Clijsters "my gal" Kim ready to make up for lost time? We won't REALLY have a true gauge until after the Australian, but she sure is off to a running start. First, she defeats Maria Sharapova to win the Hong Kong exhibition. Then she claims career title #34 in Sydney, fighting out of a 5-5 3rd set knot in the SF against Na Li, then overcoming a match point against Jelena Jankovic in the final. There'll be no Justine in Melbourne, but Sharapova is in Clijsters' half of the draw... so we might get a Supernova vs. Waffle battle of a different sort instead. (NOTE: Tomorrow, I'll play the little fantasy "What If" game about how Clijsters' career might have gone had the result of one match been different.)
RISERS: Anna Chakvetadze & Jelena Jankovic didn't take long for The Doll to prove her late season surge wasn't a fluke. Career title number three came in Hobart with wins over Olga Poutchkova, Jie Zheng and fellow Russian Vasilisa Bardina in the final. Meanwhile, Jankovic got Sydney wins over Martina Hingis, Samantha Stosur, Amelie Mauresmo and Nicole Vaidisova to run her winning streak to nine before losing to Clijsters in her second straight '07 final. But how much will her failure to convert a match point in the 2nd set linger in her mind in Melbourne?
SURPRISE: Sybille Bammer
...the 26-year old Austrian knocked out Anabel Medina-Garrigues and Serena Williams en route to the SF in Hobart.
VETERAN: Nicole Pratt
...Aussie Pratt, 33, registered a 1st Round win over Dinara Safina in Sydney, then went on to reach the doubles SF with Emilie Loit.
FRESH FACES: Nicole Vaidisova & Vasilisa Bardina

...Vaidisova ultimately lost in the Sydney SF to Jankovic, but after dominating wins over Daniela Hantuchova and Ana Ivanovic she looks ready to go to Melbourne and see if she's timed her game's peaking just right. 19-year old Russian Bardina qualified in Hobart, then made it all the way to her first career final (okay... check that one off the ol' preseason prediction list) with wins over Gisela Dulko, Aiko Nakamura, Catalina Castano and Sybille Bammer.
DOWN: Amelie Mauresmo probably meant nothing (as Davydenko might note), but in her only pre-Melbourne tune-up, Mauresmo couldn't have been pleased to go out in the Sydney QF to Jankovic with yet another of those love sets that started to pop into her results toward the end of '06. Maybe it was just Oz Eve-itis, though.

1. Syd F - Clijsters d. Jankovic
Jankovic had a match point at 5-4 in the 2nd, and twice served for the match. Then she threw in three double-faults in the 2nd set tie-break before falling behind 4-0 in the 3rd set. She rallied back to make things close, but how can you not think back to that U.S. Open SF collapse against Henin-Hardenne?
2. Syd SF - Jankovic d. Vaidisova
Sometimes, numbers lie -- Vaidisova led 11-3 in aces, and 41-20 in winners. And sometimes they don't -- the Dynamova also outpaced Jankovic 48-20 in unforced errors. Still, Nicole could be a little cleaning up of her game away from a breakthrough in Melbourne... ummm, or if not, maybe an earlier-than-expected exit.
3. Hob F - Chakvetadze d. Bardina
You can be rest assured that this won't be the last all-Russian singles final in 2007. Chakvetadze is heading into Melbourne with momentum as quiet as Clijsters & Jankovic's is loud.
4. Syd SF - Clijsters d. N.Li
Li's overhead whiff on match point doesn't snuff out a week in which she defeated Schiavone, Dementieva and Srebotnik before pushing "my gal" Kim in this one.
5. Syd QF - Jankovic d. Mauresmo
Jelena's first win over a Top 3 player.
6. Syd 1st - Jankovic d. Hingis
Jankovic led this one 6-4/4-2, but managed to hold off letting one slip away until the final.
7. Hob SF - Bardina d. Bammer
The battle for a first career WTA singles final appearance goes to the Hordette.
8. Hob QF - Mirza d. Molik
Princess Sania's resurgence continued with wins over Kirilenko, Oprandi and the Steamer.
9. Hob QF - Bammer d. S.Williams
Comebacks aren't immediate, I guess.
10. Syd 1st - Pratt d. Safina
What was it that I said about leading horses to tennis courts? Or something like that, at least. Ummm. Well, whatever it was... Dinara was probably satisfied with Gold Coast, and wanted to get to Melbourne as quickly as possible.
HM- Syd 1st - Vaidisova d. Hantuchova
Now, about that new dress, Nicole. Was it designed for you to have to keep pulling it down after EVERY SINGLE POINT?

Syd QF - Vaidisova d. Ivanovic
Plus, weren't you a little worried you might fall out of the same dress up top, as well? Yeah, it's a good looking garment when you're standing still, but it might not exactly be functional ATHLETIC apparel.

[active at end of '06]
51...Lindsay Davenport
42...Martina Hingis
33...Venus Williams
29...Justine Henin-Hardenne
26...Serena Williams
23...Amelie Mauresmo
18...Mary Pierce
15...Maria Sharapova

[active streaks]
8 years...Amelie Mauresmo (1999-06)
6 years...Justine Henin-Hardenne (2001-06)
5 years...Anna Smashnova (2002-06)
4 years...Maria Sharapova (2003-06)
4 years...Vera Zvonareva (2003-06)
3 years...Anabel Medina-Garrigues (2004-06)
3 years...Nicole Vaidisova (2004-06)


This weekend, the final 2007 "Intriguing Question" takes a slightly different form as, rather than focus on a question specific to this season, the bigger question of how Kim Clijsters' career may have played out had the then-18 year old won the Roland Garros 2001 final against Jennifer Capriati (she lost a 12-10 3rd set) will be explored... as well as the notion that we might finally see a glimpse of the Clijsters "that never was" as she proceeds through her final season on tour in '07.

Also, be on the look out for Backspin's Australian Open Timeline Preview, with predictions and Qualifying Round Awards.

Then, on Monday, the dizzying experience (at least it feels that way from this end sometimes) known as...

makes its debut.

All for now.


Blogger GLT said...

I've watched the Sydney final three times...right out of the bat there were some great points.

If Vaidisova and Jankovic meet in the AO (and they may), I have a feeling Vaidisova will get some revenge. I was very impressed with both of them after that semifinal.

Though, I had the same thoughts that you did about Vaidisova's outfit. What in the world? She's a teenager, and if she were my daughter, she would not be wearing that...period. As you said, not athletic gear. It seems to be prevalent in the new Reebok line though...Mauresmo isn't usually that low-cut, either.

Sat Jan 13, 02:02:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

I agree about Vaidisova if she were to meet Jankovic in Melbourne. Even though she lost in Sydney, she has to get a lot of encouragement out of the match... plus, you wonder if Jankovic might have lost a great deal of her momentum when she couldn't close out Clijsters and then fell way behind in the 3rd.

I remember years ago seeing Steffi Graf come out one time in a top that had a huge cut-out around her neck (not the normal sort of attire for her). After every point, she'd dutifully pull it up. The next match, that top had gone in the circular file and she was back wearing her old two-button, collared short-sleeve shirt. I never saw her wear that other top ever again on the court. :)

Vaidisova's outfit is very similar to the one that Kirilenko wore last year. The one that was designed by Vera Wang or someone like that.

And so ends today's fashion report. :)

Sat Jan 13, 08:37:00 PM EST  
Blogger GLT said...

Maria Kirilenko wears the Stella McCartney for Adidas line. And, as a female, I think it is hideous! She seems a little less likely of falling out all over the court though.

As a tennis fan and player, it frustrates me to see the women players have to, I don't know, submit to the fashion whims which inevitably take attention away from their games. Nobody cares what the men are wearing (well, maybe except for that pink shirt of Hrbaty's a few years ago), why must the women be put in some of these awful things by their sponors?

Then, of course, on the flipside, you have to balance that with the sometimes inherent female trait of wanting to dress up.

Sun Jan 14, 10:14:00 AM EST  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

That's right, it was McCartney. Hmmm... should I feel good that I was a bit off on that. I'm gonna say "yes." :)

I did like Federer's blazer at Wimbledon last year. Though that was a bit different, of course.

Ever since Serena started doing her yearly fashion show on Arthur Ashe, the "fashion wars" seem to be a yearly thing. Serena was already a champion and star at that point, though... plus, she was SERENA. So it was fun and okay. As for others (and that's not including Bethanie Mattek, who's in a different category altogether), it seems as much about getting some attention and sponsors and selling clothing as anything else. You have to wonder whether their look or their tennis will win the battle for surpremacy in some of the players' minds.

Sun Jan 14, 02:51:00 PM EST  

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