Wk.25- Bare Bones Backspin (Goolagongis Edition)
Editor's note: substituting for Todd in this abbreviated edition of Backspin is Goolagongis, one of the immortal and all-powerful "tennis Gods" referred to quite often in this space. Her eminence has agreed to dispense with a portion of her wisdom on this Wimbledon eve. Obviously, this is a big coup for Backspin, and her cooperation is much appreciated.
Greetings, mortals. You are very fortunate to meet me. My honored name is Goolagongis. I am one of nine immortal tennis Gods that oversee and direct with a sometimes-invisible hand all aspects of professional tennis in the past, present and future. Anything that happens in the sport is because of us. If it does not happen, it is because we wish it to not be so. Some do not believe in us. They are wrong-headed, little-brained mortals.
I despise little-brained mortals, and I see no reason to attempt to reason with individuals who are incapable of such. Thus, I am finished with this nonsense.
All for now.
Greetings once again, mortals.
I have been told that I greed to perform this duty and that it is against the Code conceived by the all-powerful Ancients to go back on my word... though I seriously doubt that the Code was written with a promise to a mortal in mind. I am certain I would remain in good stead if I refused to complete this task, but I shall choose to perform it out of the generosity of my heart. That and the fact that Borguese is handling all things associated with Day One of Wimbledon, which means I shall be able to sleep late tomorrow morning. I will expect a sincere thank-you afterward for this less than judicial use of my important time.
On we go.
*WEEK 25 CHAMPIONS*
EASTBOURNE, ENGLAND (II-Grass)
S: Agnieszka Radwanksa def. Nadia Petrova 6-4/6-7/6-4
D: Black/Huber d. Peschke/Stubbs
's-HERTOGENBOSCH, NETHERLANDS (III-Grass)
S: Tamarine Tanasugarn def. Dinara Safina 7-5/6-3
D: Erakovic/Krajicek d. Dekmeijere/Kerber
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Agnieszka Radwanska, POL
...we felt that since Poland had not yet had a women's tennis player perform at a consistently high level that we would bestow upon the good Polish people a pair of sisters who would make them proud, and get them off our backs (the whining was incessant). As you've noticed, the older sister is improving all the time, and even more quickly than even she expects. She arrived in Eastbourne with a sore forearm and little thought to lasting very long in the draw. We had other plans. Right on schedule, Radwanska has won three titles in 2008 on three different surfaces.
RISERS: Dinara Safina, RUS & Alona Bondarenko, UKR
...I hope you mortals can understand the cleverness of how we managed to prop up Ms. Bondarenko. You see, she had been underachieving in singles all season -- so we allowed her sister to win a title, which spurred her to her first SF of the year in the Netherlands. Sometimes, we allow them to think their destiny is in their own hands. On the other hand, we sometimes like to experiment with some of the, how shall I say it, "differently designed" players on tour. After Safina's great clay run, we managed to plant a seed in her mind that she was not really playing on grass at all last week in 's-Hertogenbosch. She reeled off more big wins (even one against Dementieva, a pre-ordained reminder of their Paris match)... but, alas, that is when the spell wore off. She immediately lost in the final to a player who had not won a title in five years. Oddly enough, we have had some difficulty doing the same thing with Marat.
SURPRISES: Tamarine Tanasugarn, THA & Marion Bartoli, FRA
...we enjoy the continued presence of Tanasugarn on tour, so we throw her a bone every once in a while to make sure she sticks around. She is 31 now, so her time is short. One career title just was not enough for her, we determined. So we made sure Safina ran out of "gas" in the Netherlands final against her. Of course, we made her go through qualifying first -- she had to feel as if she had earned it. As you probably remember, we had some fun with Marion Bartoli a year ago. Did you enjoy that Wimbledon final run? We did, although the great Lendl -- the tennis God that nobody cares about -- did not think the All-England Club was the proper setting for such a surprise. Too bad -- he was overruled. Marion is not going to pull off another similar run in London this year, but we thought we would give her hope (which has been short this year, in her case) by producing a resurgent SF result in Eastbourne. Lendl aside, the consensus of the Gods Squad is that we think she is a very nice individual... for a mortal.
VETERANS: Nadia Petrova, RUS & Cara Black/Liezel Huber, ZIM/USA
...Petrova is a tough case. Talented, but with a psyche whose fragility makes her all the more interesting, whether she loses or wins. Many on the Court would rather she never achieve her dreams, and forever remain an enigma. I am trying to convince them otherwise. I was correct about Jana Novotna, after all. Nadia's new coach and long-time-coming '08 success with her Eastbourne RU this weekend should allow me to stall for time while I devise a new approach that would allow her her day in the sun. Even mortals need to feel good about themselves. Meanwhile, we are toying with Black & Huber. We have had them win five tournaments this season, including back-to-back grass events after their Eastbourne title, but they still have not won a grand slam. I will not spoil things for your puny mortal brains and reveal whether or not these two will win Wimbledon.
FRESH FACES: Ekaterina Makarova, RUS & Michaella Krajicek, NED
...we like Makarova, but we have not yet decided how we would like her to progress -- quickly or with gradual improvement. If nothing else, we have her being able to defeat her fellow Russians at this point, as she did with Dushevina and Zvonareva in Eastbourne before putting up a good fight against Petrova in the QF. My area of expertise is the Australian Open, so Makarova's upset of Agnes Szavay there in January was my way to alert people to keep an eye on this one. Oh, we have had some fun with Krajicek. (Imperial guffaw) We sent her to the Wimbledon QF a season ago, then made her wait until earlier this month before she finally got her first win of '08. All right. All right. I admit I had a little to do with that one -- something about a passive aggressive act of revenge against her brother Richard for those snotty comments he made about women's tennis oh so many years ago. Who says I do not hold grudges? She reached the QF in the Netherlands and won the doubles title, though, so I think she has served enough penance for her sibling.
DOWN: Amelie Mauresmo, FRA & Nicole Vaidisova, CZE
...oh, Amelie. She resisted Lendl's desire for her to retire on top after the '06 season, and he has directed a bit of misplaced ire in her direction ever since. See why we hate him so? His latest was to have her injure her quad in the 2nd Round in Eastbourne less than a week before the start of Wimbledon. He makes us all look bad. Vaidisova? A 1st Round loss to Govortsova in Eastbourne probably shows you mortals how displeased we were with her off-court antics before the season began.
ITF PLAYER: Anna-Lena Groenefeld/GER
...she has been through some tough times the last few seasons (yep, Lendl again -- we have come to call him 'Scalia" behind his back), but she won her second consecutive ITF title over the weekend in a $10K in Alkmaar. Better times are ahead for ALG.
1. East F - A.Radwanska d. Petrova
...6-4/6-7(11)/6-4. Petrova led 4-2 in the 2nd, then won a 13-11 tie-break. Radwanska finally converted on her fifth match point. We enjoyed watching this one -- even though we already knew how it was going to turn out.
2. Neth F - Tanasugarn d. Safina
...7-5/6-3. Tanasugarn is the twentieth different singles champion in thirty-two WTA events this year. With Justine gone, we have decided to spread the wealth.
3. East 1st - Mauresmo d. Cornet
...6-1/4-6/7-5. We have liked Cornet ever since we had so much fun first saying her name over and over again deep into the night. That Connorsican was a riot that night.
4. East 2nd - Stosur d. Mauresmo
...1-2 ret. I wish Lendl would get over himself.
5. Neth 1st - Cirstea d. Kirilenko
Neth 1st - Tanasugarn d. K.Bondarenko
...6-3/6-3. The perils of winning a title two weeks before Wimbledon, then playing again the next week, should be evident by now... but young mortals rarely ever learn.
6. East 1st - Govortsova d. Vaidisova
...6-2/6-4. Nicole should consult Radek about all this. He was around just before Hingis' career went ka-ploowy, too. That is all that I am allowed to say at this juncture.
7. East 2nd - Petrova d. Li
...6-2/6-7/6-3. We would really like to have Li healthy for Beijing... again, I will not spoil the secret.
8. East 2nd - Wozniacki d. Kuznetsova
...6-2/6-2. Can you believe we let Kuznetsova win this title in 2004? She does not even enjoy playing on grass. Lendl had something to do with that one, too.
9. Neth SF - Safina d. Dementieva
...6-3/6-2. The spell was broken after this one. The thing with the Safins, you cannot make things easy for them.
10. Wimb Q1 - Poutchek d. Molik
...7-6/1-6/6-3. I know that I should take better care of Alicia, seeing my connection to Australia and all. But some things are out of my hands.
**2008 SINGLES TITLES**
3...Maria Sharapova, RUS
3...Serena Williams, USA
3...AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA, POL
**2008 WTA SF**
6...ELENA DEMENTIEVA (3-3)
6...Jelena Jankovic (1-4 + W)
5...Vera Zvonareva (4-1)
5...Ana Ivanovic (3-2)
5...Svetlana Kuznetsova (3-2)
5...Maria Sharapova (2-1 +WL)
4...AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA (3-1)
4...Alize Cornet (2-2)
**2008 CONSECUTIVE FINALS**
3...Serena Williams, March-April
3...DINARA SAFINA, MAY-current
2...Maria Sharapova, January-February
2...Svetlana Kuznetsova, February-March
2...Vera Zvonareva, April-May
2...Elena Dementieva, May
**OLDEST 2008 SINGLES CHAMPS**
Lindsay Davenport (Memphis, 31y8m3w)
Lindsay Davenport (Auckland, 31y7m)
TAMARINE TANASUGARN ('s-HERT., 31y2m)
**2008 QUALIFIERS IN FINAL**
Nuria Llagostera-Vives (Bogota - W)
Alize Cornet (Rome - L)
TAMARINE TANASUGARN ('s-HERT. - W)
**FOUR CAREER TITLES- ACTIVE**
[most recent title]
Maria Kirilenko, RUS (2008 - 2)
AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA, POL (2008 - 3)
Lisa Raymond, USA (2003)
Katarina Srebotnik, SLO (2005)
This was not so bad. I am glad I deemed you worthy of my time. A thank-you is no longer necessary... unless you wish to be treated with favor by my kind in the future, of course.
All for now, mortals.