Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Grass Court Awards

I would have written some sort of an ode to grass court tennis, but after two weeks of Wimbledon that'd be too much work, I'm afraid.

So, I figured I'd just give out a few awards instead:

**Grass Court (Week 24-27) Awards*
1. Venus Williams/USA more and she's breathing down Martina's neck.
2. Serena Williams/USA
...second-best is never enough for Serena.
3. Zheng Jie/CHN
...what dreams are made of.
4. Agnieszka Radwanska/POL
...look out, New York City. A-Rad's coming to town.
5. Tamarine Tanasugarn/THA
...just like Venus, if she were shorter, older and from Thailand.
HM SINGLES: Elena Dementieva/RUS, Nadia Petrova/RUS & Kateryna Bondarenko/UKR was a good month for Nadia, even if she WILL have a hard time forgetting that Dementieva match.
HM DOUBLES: Black/Huber (ZIM/USA), Williams/Williams (USA/USA), Raymond/Stubbs (USA/AUS) was a good month for Cara & Liezel, even if they WILL most likely rather forget about Wimbledon.

1. Agnieszka Radwanska, POL
2. Kateryna Bondarenko, UKR
3. Dinara Safina, RUS
4. Bethanie Mattek, USA
5. Shahar Peer, ISR
HM- Agnes Szavay, HUN

1. Alla Kudryavtseva, RUS
2. Marina Erakovic, NZL
3. Yanina Wickmayer, BEL
4. Alisa Kleybanova, RUS
5. Evgeniya Rodina, RUS
6. Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
7. Casey Dellacqua, AUS
8. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS
9. Magdalena Rybarikova, SVK
10. Mathilde Johansson, FRA
HM- Elena Makarova, RUS

1. Laura Robson, GBR
2. Noppawan Lertcheewakarn, THA
3. Arantxa Rus, NED
4. Tamaryn Hendler, BEL
5. Romana Tabakova, SVK
HM- Naomi Brody, GBR
HM- Bojana Jovanovski, SRB
HM- Polona Hercog, SLO

1. Zheng Jie, CHN
2. Bethanie Mattek, USA
3. Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez, ESP
4. Eva Hrdinova, CZE
5. Anne Keothavong, GBR
HM- Nathalie Dechy/Casey Dellacqua, FRA/AUS
HM- Naomi Cavaday, GBR
HM- Melanie South, GBR

1. Venus Williams, USA
2. Tamarine Tanasugarn, THA
3. Elena Dementieva, RUS
4. Cara Black/Liezel Huber, ZIM/USA
5. Nadia Petrova. RUS
HM- Lisa Raymond, USA
HM- Nathalie Dechy, FRA
HM- Ai Sugiyama, JPN

1. Tamarine Tanasugarn, THA
2. Lisa Raymond/Samantha Stosur, USA/AUS
3. Nadia Petrova. RUS
4. Samantha Stosur, AUS
5. Nicole Vaidisova, CZE (to a point)
HM- Anna-Lena Groenefeld, GER (ITF, non-grass)

1. Maria Sharapova, RUS
2. Ana Ivanovic, SRB
3. Amelie Mauresmo, FRA
4. Lindsay Davenport's body, USA
5. Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
HM- Michaella Krajicek, NED
HM- Tamira Paszek, AUT
Doubles- Chan Yung-Jan/Chuang Chia-Jung, TPE/TPE
Doubles- Kveta Peschke/Rennae Stubbs, CZE/AUS

[Week 24-27]
1. Marina Erakovic, NZL
2. Anna-Lena Groenefeld, GER
3. Nina Bratchikova, RUS
4. Tathiana Garbin, ITA
5. Klaudia Boczova, SVK
6. Kimiko Date-Krumm, JPN
7. Simona Halep, ROU
8. Melanie Gloria, CAN
9. Anna Tatishvili, GEO
10. Stephanie Gehrlein, GER
HM- Pemra Ozgen, TUR
HM- Ekaterina Dzehalevich, BLR

Venus Williams wins fifth Wimbledon title without dropping a set (or experiencing any edge-of-your-seat moments of near-despair, unlike a year ago)
Zheng Jie becomes the first Chinese player to reach a grand slam SF, but she leaves her "best" performance for off-the-court when she donates her recent winnings to earthquake relief in her home province
British women's tennis. Anne Keothavong is the first Brit to gain direct entry into the Wimbledon draw since 1999 (she won a match and played admirably against Venus), while Laura Robson becomes the first British girl since 1984 to claim the SW19 junior title.
At Eastbourne, Agnieszka Radwanska wins her third title of the season on a third different surface. She moved into the Top 10 for the first time after Wimbledon.

Wimbledon 2nd Rd. - Ivanovic def. Dechy 6-7/7-6/10-8
...the "Kiss of Life" match when a net cord saved the #1-seed's hide on Dechy's second match point.
Eastbourne Final - A.Radwanska def. Petrova 6-4/6-7/6-4
...on her fifth match point, A-Rad wins her first grass title after having come to town thinking she'd play one match and head off to the All-England Club.

"Women in general, we like fashion. It's a huge industry for the athletic companies... in the past, Billie Jean King and Rosie Casals, they wore wonderful things that brought a lot of attention to women's tennis, and that's what they needed at that time. I don't think in any way that it subtracts from the competition level or how well we're playing. The fact of the matter is someone has got to win and someone has got to lose." - Venus Williams

1) Maria Sharapova's white tuxedo-inspired outfit
2) Serena Williams' semi-trench coat (close doesn't count)
Bethanie Mattek toned down her usual grand slam attire, toning up her game and pulling off her career's best slam result

"Do you want it or not? If not, why are you here?" Umm... Ms. Vaidisova, let's say you take that one, seeing that you need to get your semester class participation grade up to snuff. Ms. Vaidisova?

...not only did the Nadal/Federer match rank as the longest men's final in Wimbledon history, but three women's matches during the fortnight ranked in the top four longest Ladies' matches in the tournament's history: Julia Goerges def. Katarina Srebotnik (1st Rd., 3:40 - 2nd all-time), Shahar Peer def. Dinara Safina (3rd Rd., 3:25 - 3rd all-time), and Ivanovic def. Dechy (2nd Rd., 3:24 - 4th all-time)

"I don't like her outfit." - Alla Kudryavtseva, on Sharapova's "tuxedo"

...after Safina came back from match points down to reach the Roland Garros final, it was as if everyone was trying to duplicate the feat at Wimbledon. Notable match points overcome: Anna Chakvetadze (3 MP in 1st Rd. vs. Stephanie Dubois), Ivanovic (2 MP in 2nd Rd. vs. Dechy), Anabel Medina-Garrigues (2 MP in 2nd Rd. vs. Francesca Schiavone) and Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez (4 MP in 2nd Rd. vs. Sania Mirza).

Lisa Raymond & Samantha Stosur finally returned to form after a year's worth of illness and injury, reaching the Wimbledon Doubles final. Stosur won the Mixed title with Bob Bryan, and also came within a point of going up 3-6/6-0/4-0 over Nicole Vaidiso... hmmm, maybe Sam would rather forget about that last one.

"I just love coats, and I don't know why. Because I live in Florida, so it doesn't really add up... It's definitely not athletic attire. But it's ladylike, and I'm very ladylike... it's just delectable." - Serena Williams. on her semi-trench coat

KISS OF LIFE: getting a net cord on match point and keeping your Wimbledon hopes alive
KISS OF DEATH: one match later, playing like you shouldn't still be in the tournament rather than with the belief that luck is on your side

Wimbledon 2nd Rd. - Kudryavtseva def. Sharapova 6-2/6-4
...until this match, Sharapova had only lost at Wimbledon to the players who went on to win the tournament since she claimed the 2004 title for herself. With there always seeming to be a better grass court player in her path, and with the rest of the WTA field getting better and better, one wonders if that SW19 title from four years ago will turn out to be something of an oddity in a career filled with quite a few hard court slam crowns. It was Sharapova's earliest loss at a slam since the '03 U.S. Open, and Kudryavtseva is the lowest-ranked player to ever beat her.
Wimbledon 3rd Rd. - Zheng def.. Ivanovic 6-1/6-4
...the All-England Club's decision to grant #133 Zheng a wild card entry into the draw turned out to be well-founded decision, as she knocked off the first seed of the tournament (#30 Dominika Cibulkova), world #1 Ivanovic and became the first WC to ever reach the women's semifinals.

Lindsay Davenport's biggest tennis obstacle is maintaining her own health while trying to perform the supremely unhealthy task of competing on the WTA tour
An irritated and injured Jelena Jankovic complains about having to play on an outside court, and loses in the 4th Round. It was fun while it lasted... maybe she'll get an ad for a helicopter company out of it all?
Still managing to peak during the grand slams, Chris Evert married former golf star Greg Norman during Wimbledon. Norman is Australian, while her two former husbands were British and American. So, should Gerard Depardieu be expecting a call from Chrissie in about 5-7 years?

"My game seems to just get better when I'm here."
- Venus Williams

All for now.


Blogger Diane said...

Todd, I don't know if you read Wertheim's "50 Things" (or whatever he calls it--it's always a good read), but he addressed the Radwanska things something like this: She's not tall, doesn't hit the ball too hard, etc., etc.--want to know why she's ranked so high? Get close so I can tell you--She keeps the ball inside the lines!

I couldn't agree more. Radwanska can hit with such precision; she is a really tough opponent. Her second serve is dreadful, though, and she needs to fix it.

Thu Jul 10, 06:33:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

your comment about chris evert had me laughing so hard


Thu Jul 10, 06:43:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Well, Diane, seeing how Radwanska has already improved so much over the past year and is one of the smartest players around (talk about finally destroying that old, best-forgotten stereotype, huh?), I'd like to think she'll sure up that part of her game, too. :)

Oh, and Eric, I couldn't think of another French man when I was writing that, so I just threw in Depardieu. Afterward, I though maybe Sarkozy... but maybe the first choice was better. ;)

Fri Jul 11, 08:59:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

but the thing is all her hubbies were involved in sports or were should have said ettiene de villiers or richard gasquet (you know, with his pension for older women--er...people)

hey, do you think that the wta should adjust their ranking system? or do you think that the way it's set up now is more charming and better for fans since it sets up interesting matchups in the first week of grand slams? it just seems that if you go by the prize money rankings from (and subtract out the doubles money) you get a pretty accurate ranking

Fri Jul 11, 10:09:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Henri Leconte! Just off-center enough to be interesting. :)

Maybe Jean Van de Velde... the guy who blew the British Open a few years ago, taking off his shoes and socks and wading into a stream thinking he could hit a shot off the bottom. :D

They've tried so many different ranking recipes over the years. Using prize money rankings in any way would probably weight things too much to the grand slams. What I wouldn't mind seeing is maybe having the computer rank cover a period of 18 months or two years (the Points Race would still provide a single-season #1 at the end of the year), and that way a player's ranking wouldn't be hurt quite as much due to an injury (Zheng wouldn't have been #133 heading into Wimbledon, for instance) and seeding would be more equitable.

Fri Jul 11, 02:18:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Zidane said...

The two-year ranking idea is not bad. But it has it still has its flaws. Even for Zheng. Imagine, in a 2-year ranking, her rank would not have increased as fast as it just did. Plus, if you miss 2 months for injury, it would take TWO YEARS before you can take the points you missed back! Clijsters would never have become #1 again in 2006 (though it didn't last long) in such a system, which she deserved for her phenomenal 2005 year. As everything, what would make such a system interesting is also what would make it look bad.

Fri Jul 11, 10:00:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Well, with the 17 best results spread over the 18 or 24-month period (I guess now it's the top 17 over a 12-month period, with a 0 points total being used for each number of total events under 17 that the player has played), one would hope that over that longer stretch a player would have played enough tournaments that something other than a huge chunk of time missed due to injury would at least partially be made up for by past results. Of course, for it to work the same tournament's point total would have to be able to be counted for BOTH years if the player did well enough there two years running.

Maybe a compromise would be to do some sort of computation where the player's tournament "average" could be determined. How you'd balance out grand slam "averages" and, say Tier III-type tournament averages gives me a headache just thinking about, though.

Needless to say, if there were a "perfect" ranking system, I suppose they wouldn't feel the need to change and/or tweak it quite as much as they do, right? :)

Sun Jul 13, 01:02:00 AM EDT  

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