Sunday, March 13, 2016

Wk.10- The (Disappointingly) Bad, the (Refreshingly) Good and the Indian Wells

Hmmm, what's happened through (almost) two and a half rounds of action at Indian Wells?

Well, some bad things... and some good.

The Bad: Indian Wells 2002-15
The Good: Indian Wells 2016: The Return

The Indian Wells: It's all about the journey...

The Bad: Angelique Kerber might need another tutoring session from Steffi Graf soon, only this time not about how to BECOME a slam champion, but how to live with the new life that success in that endeavor has created.

The Good: Steffi's address, apparently, is Emerald City. Hey, if it worked for Angie...

The Indian Wells: So far, so good for the defending champ.

Although, she DOES play nemesis Ekaterina Makarova in the desert on Sunday night.
The Bad: Indian Wells before 2015...
The Good: Indian Wells 2016: The First Event

The Indian Wells: 2016: Deja vu?


The Bad: A Russian having to correct the news...

The Good: A Russian thank you, a classy (read adult) Russian reaction and a Russian's welcome return to Instagram (and the court)...

Morning hike in the nature

A photo posted by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) on

Sunday practice. No better workout than this.

A photo posted by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) on

By the way, I wouldn't suggest reading the comments attached to that last one. Or maybe I would, because it's a good example of the brazen crassness of online etiquette (or lack of it, to be accurate).

The Indian Wells: A Russian talking about a Russian (and it has nothing to do with you-know-what)...

The Bad: But is it really?

The Good: A cheesecake love letter to Aga

The Indian Wells: When Pastries go bad, the tasty filling tends to turn your stomach (at least temporarily).

An example of "Kiki logic?" I mean, obviously one thought is incontrovertibly linked to the other, since "she's not nice to us" is sound ground for any grudge, accusation or whine uttered with little close knowledge of a situation.

Ten years when it wasn't a banned substance. Hence, it would be theoretically impossible to be "cheating." In some ways I suppose Mladenovic should be thanked, for she perfectly demonstrates, as noted here earlier, that envy, long-held animosities, axes to grind, over-reaching blanket statements of so-called fact, hair-trigger desires to be overly judgmental because it draws attention to oneself, time to kill and, let's be honest, regrettable immaturity, have been ruling the reactions to this story from far too many corners since Day 1.

I do hope we see a version of the above photo again some day. I figure Sharapova, though she would have every right not be be, would show a little class at the net. Mladenovic? Considering the childishness she showed this week... I'm not so sure.

Couldn't say it much better, truthfully. Other than to say that Kiki should maybe talk to her Fed Cup Captain about how sometimes the most prudent (read adult) course of action under the circumstances is to say nothing. Because, you know, one day YOU may be on the receiving end of such judgmental thoughtlessness.
The (Technically, but not overwhelmingly) Bad: Andy Murray, speaking honestly about you-know-what, but also drawing a too-stark, my-s***-doesn't-stink-trust-me line in the proverbial sand regarding the issue.

"If you're taking a prescription drug and you're not using it for what that drug is meant for, then you don't need it. You're just using it for the performance enhancing benefits that drug is giving you and I don't think that's right."

"I've used protein shakes since I was 18 years old, energy gels on court, obviously sports drinks when I'm playing. That's what I would use. Earlier in my career I would sometimes takes vitamins. Now I don't take any supplements. If you're taking a prescription drug that you don't actually need, that's wrong."

But what is good for the Scot does not necessarily mean it should be the law of the land for everyone else. A positive test for something while the drug in question is banned (as is the case with Sharapova, even if it'd only been on the banned list when she played five total matches) makes a suspension (but a "reasonable" one) pretty much a required reaction, but throwing up red flags at fellow athletes who may be taking a prescription drug for something they "don't actually need" is another thing. For one, if the drug in question is considered "legal," it's none of Murray's business (or that of anyone else) why the person is taking it. And how does Murray's stance on that look upon something such as Rafael Nadal's stem cell therapy? It's a fine medical advancement, but one that is also considered "controversial" in some quarters. So, is it "necessary" by the Scot's high "standards?" If not, then isn't Rafa also "wrong?"

On the same note, what about those protein shakes, energy gels, sports drinks and the like that Murray deems fine, largely, I suspect, because it's what HE uses. Are those things that are "actually needed," or additional legal items smartly used by modern athletes to help performance (and are, in effect, "performance-enhancing") that were not available to athletes of past generations, who had to rely on little more than water and fruit (if that) to provide anything resembling the same benefits? Can someone openly condemn someone for using them, especially if down the line one ingredient in one of those items may be deemed to be "questionable" and put on the banned list?

Hey, Suzanne Lenglen sipped brandy on the sidelines during matches in the 1920's, yet dominated her opponents. If we're REALLY going to be committed to going "full old school," maybe we should go back to those days.

Of course, this was just an excuse to post that YouTube video from 1925 which includes an early title card with the now-eyerolling phrase, "All the tennis world and his wife are here..."

The Good: When the adults speak...

Djokovic also had an interesting take here:

The Indian Wells: Aga being Aga...

The antidote for almost any ill.

As for a quick abbreviated, mid-event Indian Wells (and Week 10) check-up (as of Sunday afternoon)...

ITF PLAYERS: Irina Khromacheva/RUS, Anne Schaefer/GER and Katerina Stewart/USA
...Khromacheva, 20, won her tenth career ITF (second of '16, with her $25K Moscow title from last month) singles crown with at 6-3/6-2 win in the final over Dutch Fed Cup star Richel Hogenkamp in the $25K challenger in Puebla, Mexico. The Russian will now rise to a new career-high ranking, surpassing the mark of #165 she set in 2012 at age 17. Khromacheva was the 2011 junior #1, ranked just ahead of #2 Ashleigh Barty (she lost the Wimbledon girls singles final to the Aussie) and #3 Genie Bouchard.

In Antalya, 29-year old German Schaefer continued her career-long ITF winning ways, winning her circuit-leading third title of the season with a win in the $10K final over Ukraine's Anastasia Vasylyeva. The #218-ranked top seed, Schaefer has won twenty-one career ITF singles crowns, including five last season, dating back to 2006.

In Weston, Florida, 18-year old Bannerette Stewart swept both titles at the $10K event, winning the doubles with Swiss Tess Sugnaux and then taking the singles by defeating South Africa's Channel Simmonds 3-6/6-2/6-1 in the final. It was a great result for Stewart, who hasn't exactly been burning up the court since getting robbed of a Roland Garros MD berth in the USTA's broken "playoff" tournament last spring (when she went 13-2 in a three-event stretch), going just 9-13 (4-6 in '16) heading into last week since losing in the Q-rounds in Paris. It's Stewart's seventh career challenger crown, and it's worth noting (or maybe not?) that I also highlighted her this very same week a season ago when she won a title in Gainesville, Florida.


JUNIOR STARS: Panna Udvardy/HUN and Elena Rybakina/RUS Sao Paulo, 17-year old Panna Udvardy (girls #17) won her first career Grade 1 title by taking the Banana Bowl crown. The #5 seed defeated #3 Lara Escauriza along the way, then Brit Emily Appleton in a 4-6/6-4/6-3 final. She's just the second Hungarian girl to take the title, joining 1999 winner Aniko Kapros.

At the Perin Memorial event in Umag, Croatia it was 16-year old Hordette Rybakina (girls #31) who ran her current winning streak to eleven matches, adding another G1 title to the Yeltsin Cup crown she recently grabbed in Moscow. The #2 seed, the Russian took out #6 Eva Guerrero Alvarez and #13-seeded Ukrainian Katarina Zavatskina in a 6-2/5-7/7-6(5) final.
DOWN: Angelique Kerber/GER and Garbine Muguruza/ESP the moment, the German appears to be going through the usual post-slam title slump that hits players once they are thrust into the spotlight. In Kerber's case, it's happening also while she's dealing with a leg injury that is hampering her moment -- not a good thing for a game which relies on her ability to chase down balls. She refused to hang her straight sets 2nd Round loss (she's 0-3 in I.W. the last three years) to Denisa Allertova on her injury, though, as she has now gone 1-3 with three straight sets losses since winning in Melbourne. Kerber did speak about the new pressure to win and the difficulty in balancing her tennis with new off-court duties since becoming a slam champ:

"The pressure is much different than it was a few months ago," Kerber said. "It's a completely new situation for me. But I'm trying to get used to it. That's one [more] tournament I lost now in the first round (2nd, in this case), but still, I have tournaments to go. I will try to learn from this experience, this match, and try to get better in the next weeks."
"That's one thing I was dreaming my whole career and I reached it. I won a Grand Slam," she said. "Of course, the year is still long, and there are so many tournaments. In tennis you have every week the chance to get a new challenge. If you lose first round or like early in the tournament, you have the chance next week to make it better. It's a new situation and new experience."

Meanwhile, Muguruza has often looked a mess in 2016. A foot injury, error-strewn tennis, a general nasty attitude (which might be explained by those first two) and what is not looking to be a wearing-well coaching relationship with Sam Sumyk saw her fall to 6-5 on the season with a 7-5/6-1 opening match loss to Christina McHale. Oh, and did I mention all the innocent rackets that are paying the price?

(cue Sarah McLachlan's "I Will Remember You")

[I.W. Week 1]
1. I.W. 2nd Rd. - Svitolina d Beck
In a comeback fitting of a certain Belgian who currently has the Ukrainian's ear, Svitolina charged back from a set and 5-2 down, including seeing Beck serve for the match at 5-3. LPT's charge crushed the German in the 2nd set TB (7-0) and then handled her in a 6-1 3rd set to move on.
2. I.W. 2nd Rd. - McHale d. Muguruza
The Bannerette notches her third career Top 5 victory as she wins her eleventh of fourteen matches since the AO.

3. I.W. 2nd Rd. - Ivanovic d. Giorgi
Was that AnaIvo saving two match points and advancing late in the night on Saturday? Yes. Of course, it helped that Giorgi threw in 47 UE's (w/ 10 DF) with ther 40 winners.

4. I.W. 2nd Rd. - Bouchard d. Stephens
Bouchard knots her head-to-head with Stephens at 2-2 as the Bannerette continues her feast-or-famine season (if she doesn't win the title, Sloane just loses her first match). Thing is, Stephens had every opportunity to at least push this to three sets, as she served up 5-4, 40/love and held five SP in the 2nd, including one sitter forehand that she wildly sailed. Bouchard got the break in that game, then held at love. She won eleven of the final twelve points to claim the match, and as of this posting is tied with Radwanska for the most match wins on tour so far in 2016.
5. I.W. 2nd Rd. - Kvitova d. Kovinic 6-3/4-6/7-6(5)
I.W. 3rd Rd. - Kvitova d. Larsson 6-3/4-6/7-5
not pretty, but wins. It took Kvitova 2:26 vs. Kovinic, and coming back from failing to serve out the match and then falling behind 6-5, 30/love down in the 3rd to do it, but the Czech was just good enough (107-106 in points) to take out the Montenegrin. Then she had to dig out of a 5-3 3rd set hole vs. the Swede. She'll face the suddenly-on-fire Nicole Gibbs next.

6. I.W. 2nd Rd. - Vinci d. Gasparyan 6-3/6-7(7)/7-6(5)
I.W. 2nd Rd. - Stosur d. Wickmayer 2-6/6-4/7-6(6)
Vinci saved two MP, Stosur saved one.
7. I.W. 1st Rd. - Putintseva d. Peng 6-0/6-1
I.W. 1st Rd. - Errani/Kalashnikova d. SW.Hsieh/Peng 6-0/6-2
it wasn't a pretty (or long) return, but Peng is finally back after back surgery. Ranked #768, the '14 U.S. Open semifinalist last played at Roland Garros last season. She still hasn't notched a win since Dubai last February.
8. I.W. 1st Rd. - Watson d. Voskoboeva 7-6(4)/4-6/6-1
I.W. 1st Rd. - Rybarikova d. Robson 7-6(3)/6-2
more returns. Voskoboeva, the former #26 who left the tour in 2014, last played a MD WTA match in Miami that season. She's 2-3 in 2016. Robson's return from wrist surgery has been slow, but she says she's finally 100%.

9. I.W. 2nd Rd. - Rybarikova d. Gavrilova
The Unicorn is just 1-3 since winning three matches in Melbourne. She led 4-2 in the 3rd and served for the match, but lost the last four games (and the last six points). The one-year anniversary of the now-Aussie's win over Sharapova in Miami is coming up soon. (clears throat) There won't be a rematch.

10. I.W. 1st Rd. - King d. Townsend
Townsend had to win eight matches -- in pre-qualifying and qualifying -- to get here, so it's still a big result.
11. I.W. 2nd Rd. - Zhang Shuai d. Wozniacki
In 3:24 (the long on tour in' 16, but not when you count the 4:00 Hogenkamp/Kuznetsova FC clash), Zhang's early-season run continues as she converts on her fourth MP after nearly squandering a 5-2 3rd set lead.

12. I.W. 1st Rd. - Kasatkina d. Hantuchova
Add the two-time I.W. champ to The Kasatkina's list of victims. So, Daniela taking that San Antonio 125 Series wild card was a good move, I guess.
HM- I.W. 2nd Rd. - Putintseva d. Mladenovic
Maybe Kiki is spending too much time thinking about the games and lives of others, and speaking for others, as well.

I guess this counts as a tease...

coming soon!! ????

A photo posted by Flavia Pennetta (@flaviapennetta82) on

1. I.W. 2nd Rd. - Aga Radwanska d. Cibulkova
Cibulkova's power seemed to be getting the best of Radwanska, as the Slovak led 5-2 in the 3rd and held a match point. But Aga got a key hold in game #6 to avoid falling down a double-break, then used some well-timed aggression to seize control down the stretch.
2. I.W. 2nd Rd. - Nara d. Venus Williams
Not the ending Venus and (most) everyone else wanted, but how can you be TOO upset when the player who defeated her revealed at least a tiny strain of Li Na living within her DNA?

3. I.W. 2nd Rd. - Puig d. Anna Karolina Schmiedlova
AKS avoids the "Down" category once again, but she still deserves a spot there. In six events in '16, the Slovak has lost her first match five times. She's now dropped three straight sets losses (w/ FC), and four consecutive in tour-level events. 2-7 overall, she's 1-6 in WTA action. And the two matches she has won were come-from-behind three-setters after dropping the opening set. I guess no one is going to be accusing her of being a cheater. So there's that, I guess.
4. I.W. 1st Rd. - Shvedova d. Kristyna Pliskova
Shvedova won the battle to see which player could avoid giving away this one, as the Kazakh nearly blew a 6-3/2-1 lead to the Czech, but still managed to win anyway.
5. $25K Curitiba BRA Final - Catalina Pella d. Burger
A first-time entry on this list, Catalina is the sister of ATP player Guido Pella. The 23-year old Argentine swept the singles and doubles titles in Brazil, defeating recent Rio (WTA) quarterfinalist Cindy Burger in the title-deciding match.


A photo posted by Daria Gavrilova (@daria_gav) on

When Dashas meet...

**2016 ITF TITLES**
3...Angelica Moratelli, ITA
3...Chantal Skamlova, SVK
2...Marie Bouzkova, CZE
2...Anastasia Grymalska, ITA
2...Ons Jabeur, TUN
2...Irina Ramialison, FRA
2...Elena Ruse, ROU

2006 Maria Sharapova d. Elena Dementieva
2007 Daniela Hantuchova d. Svetlana Kuznetsova
2008 Ana Ivanovic d. Svetlana Kuznetsova
2009 Vera Zvonareva d. Ana Ivanovic
2010 Jelena Jankovic d. Caroline Wozniacki
2011 Caroline Wozniacki d. Marion Bartoli
2012 Victoria Azarenka d. Maria Sharapova
2013 Maria Sharapova d. Caroline Wozniacki
2014 Flavia Pennetta d. Aga Radwanska
2015 Simona Halep d. Jelena Jankovic

2012 Washington D.C. QF (H) - Stephens 6-4/6-4
2013 Tokyo 2nd (H) - Bouchard 5-7/7-6(7)/6-3
2013 Beijing 2nd (H) - Stephens 6-1/1-6/6-4
2016 Indian Wells 2nd (H) - Bouchard 7-5/7-5

15 Final: -new event-
16 Singles Top Seeds: Gavrilova/Begu

#3 Ostapenko d. #7 Flipkens
#4 Wickmayer d. #6 Doi
#3 Ostapenko d. #4 Wickmayer

..the first 125 Series event of the season is planted right between Indian Wells and Miami on the U.S. map, perfectly positioned to pick up the early cast-offs from California (such as wild card Daniela Hantuchova) as well as a few others looking for some on-court action before heading to Florida. The San Antonio tournament is just the second (of 18 overall) 125 Series events that have been held in the U.S., following Carlsbad last November (won by Yanina Wickmayer). There are two additional U.S.-held 125 tournaments later this season, including an inaugural clay event in West Hempstead, New York in May.

There's a decent chance that Auckland "buddies" Ostapenko and Broady might face off in the QF (crossing fingers).

And, finally, while not everyone was happy to check the news this week, Arina Rodionova was not one of those people.

All for now.


Blogger Diane said...

I, too, thought of Lenglen and the changeover whiskey breaks! Calmed her nerves. A lot of WTA players could benefit from the practice :)

I also wondered how Bartoli, Mladenovic's friend and mentor, must be feeling about now. Amelie and Marion, both of whom exemplify character, probably need a swig from the above-referenced flask about now. I want this over and I want to see Maria and Kiki play each other again; there will be blood.

Muguruza is a mess. I didn't see this coming. Her recent "we all hate each other" comment, her obvious displeasure in playing in Indian Wells, and her recent streakiness indicate something alarming. She was off the tour for such a long time because of her ankle and now she has foot problems again, and I wonder how frustrated she must feel--and whether something else is going on, too.

Sun Mar 13, 08:45:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

"Welcome to the crazy women's tennis tour." ;)

(Oh, and Hingis/Mirza just lost... I added it to the Good/Bad/IW list.)

Sun Mar 13, 09:21:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

Maybe this allegation is a good thing for Nadal...make him angry so that he forgets about his neuroses and focuses on a goal.

Wed Mar 16, 12:49:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

Is Andrew Krasny obligated to ask Serena after every match if she feels the love from the crowd? It's so awkward...and Serena going back to Indian Wells is about moving on...not about bringing it up ALL the time. I feel like continually pointing it out to crowds that weren't part of The Incident would actually be off-putting to them.

Thu Mar 17, 12:24:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Yeah, we sort of know the narrative by now. And we don't need to always compare/acknowledge/stoke Serena's support, especially after a match with the notoriously loud Romanians in attendance.

Thu Mar 17, 10:31:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

So I'm not the only one who can't stand that, I see. I think it's potentially embarrassing for Serena, and that the whole emotion is being forced. Also, it's really cheesy. I would rather it hadn't been done last year, for that matter.

Thu Mar 17, 10:35:00 AM EDT  

Post a Comment

<< Home