Archive for July, 2010

The Case For Vika

Posted by Brodie under: Stanford, Superhero, Vika

31 Jul 2010

Solid win today for Vika, who took out Sam in straights today. The stats show pretty obviously that Vika brought her A game, and Sam did not, and it was enough to make the difference. Both these players are too good for another to not show up, and have things be close. Vika served at 74%, Sam at 55% with only 2 aces. Vika was only broken once in her 6-2, 6-3 victory.

The real impressive thing for the birthday girl (who turned 21 today) was her match yesterday versus Bartoli. Down a break in the first set, she remained positive, fist pumping, tapping herself, and urging herself on. Unfortunately for her, she dropped the set and got broken early in the second. Things totally unraveled, with her yelling at herself and whacking balls against the backstop. I figured it was over, usual Vika was out being herself again. But slowly things shifted, Vika pushed on, upped her game, Bartoli’s game dropped a bit, and before you knew it, Vika had the match in three. While it wasn’t a total mental display, the end of the first set, and the eventual win showed real signs of Vika staying calm, positive, and reassuring of herself. Those are the wins that are important for big time players, because more often then not, you find your A game the next day and before you know it, you’re in the final.

I can’t say I’m a huge Vika fan. Hate her for the “wooo” sound (once drove my sister out of an adjacent room because the sound alone was driving her mad) or the temper, but the fact of the matter is that Vika has one of the hardest hitting games out there, and isn’t afraid to take it to opponents. Not to mention some good defensive skills and above average volleying. The temper and consistency are what has been hurting her, but with an improvement in the headcasiness (I can only assume that’s a word) and a proper control on aggression, she should be a serious contender for a ton of hard court points this season. Which along with other big hitters like Sam, Masha, and Elena, you’ve got to like as a fan of the WTA.

29 Jul 2010

It’s tough being a huge tennis fan, having massive interest in a tournament… and not being able to watch it. Luckily the coverage around the net for Stanford has been outstanding (massive understatement) but the one key part missing has been that the rest of us haven’t actually seen anything on the courts. And we won’t be able to until tomorrow. It’s kind of the reason this blog has been a little quiet over the past couple of days. So I thought I’d just sum up a whole bunch of random thoughts in a big post. Y’all know where the sweet coverage is this week.

  • Fantastic win for Ana against the big hitting Kleybs. Ana has been a near guaranteed loss against big hitters of late (sorry girl, tis true) and to come through is pretty huge. Also hearing her acknowledge that she’s clearly had troubles in closing out matches late, and she’s working on it, is great. And of course her new fitness. Girl looks good physically, hope her game looks just as good. Don’t count her out against Mono tonight.
  • Muzz is done with Miles. Apparently the two drifted so far apart it was a pretty easy decision. Rumours are flying that he’ll begin start working with Killer Cahill soon. In my honest opinion, and as a Muzz fan, that would be a pretty brilliant move. While Cahill worked with Agassi just like BG, Killer has a more calming, cerebral approach that I think would really work with Muzz’s personality. Personally, I’d love to see that happen.
  • Lindsay Davenport and partner Liezel won their first dubs match together yesterday in Stanford over Believe Oudin and Krajicek. I had a dream two nights ago that Davenport won the French Open over Agi Radwanska, 6-0, 6-1, and I was really confused because I seemed to have remember one of the semifinals being Kim/Justine and I didn’t understand why one of them wasn’t in the final. I wish I was making this up.
  • Great to see Baggy looking more fit as ever (again, it seems) and getting into the quarters in LA. On a side note, what is Muzz doing playing his opening match, as the top seed, on Thursday night? How does a tournament wait until Thursday to get their top seed in action? I know Sammy Q played yesterday, but yeesh.
  • Gulbis and Tursunov are playing dubs in LA. And they won their first match. Just throwing it out there, ladies.
  • Sorana Banana beat Akgul in her opening match in straights, and beat Portoroz finalist Larsson today 6-4, 6-4. Come back to me, girl. She served at 67% and won 63% of points off her first serve. Goooood.
  • There still isn’t anything remotely exciting happening in Gstaad or Umag.

Now you know! Hoping to catch whatever matches TTV decides to play tomorrow from Stanford, and hopefully the rest of the tournament after, so should be lots of postage this weekend.

Thanks to Love All from your home of the best Stanford coverage in all the land, Forty Deuce, for the Dani pic.

Blah Blah Blake Sheep

Posted by Brodie under: Blah, Los Angeles

26 Jul 2010

“I’m feeling great, the knee is good.”

Remember Lames’ whining after Wimbledon, about how his knee was crap and he wasn’t sure if he’d continue much longer? Well he’s now enthusiastic again, reports the Los Angeles Times. Blah says he wants to get his rank up so he doesn’t have to rely on wildcards, the knee is fine, and he’s feeling good. Ugh. Whatever. You’re old dude. And your brand of tennis is semi-suicidal at that age. Really.

Also serious epic lulz to the pic that the LA Times used in their article. Thanks to his shirt size, it makes him look like he’s about 300 pounds. Blah is in action this week in, you guessed it, Los Angeles.

In The Land Of Unicorns

Posted by Brodie under: Chak, Portoroz

26 Jul 2010

Let me blow your mind.

In the quarterfinal she needed to save two match points. In the semifinal, she had to come back from losing the first set to love. The final was all cruise control for metal giant (…wait, what?) Chaky, who takes home her first title since 2008. She showed she can play consistent tennis, and really control that fine line of playing aggressively without being psycho and over the top.

It wraps up what was a pretty fantastic championship Sunday, including Golubev, Goerges and junior Watson.

Oh, and Mardy Fish won at home again. Whatever. Tree coming back home to win a title would have been far better.

On A Mission

Posted by Brodie under: Bad Gastein, Hamburg, Watson

25 Jul 2010

Whole bunch of kickass tournament victories today!

It’s one thing to win your first ever pro tournament at the big time level. It’s another thing to have to do it by winning two matches in one day. Goerges overcame the Trumpet and Bacsinszky (quite the year she’s having) by scores of 6-1, 6-4 in both matches. All of the pictures after her win show her as totally ecstatic, and she pretty well can’t stop smiling in the trophy presentation. Too cute. And if for some reason you guys missed where exactly this tournament is held, and where the main court sits, here’s a pic. I’ve got to say, probably the most gorgeous spot for a tennis tournament ever. Monte Carlo is pretty kickass, but this place is just paradise.

Bad Gastein WTA

Another big time, first time champion today… Andrey Golubev!

Today is such a feel good kinda day. I watched part of his match against Kolya, and despite being a big inconsistent, the dude hammers the ball and has a wickedly explosive one handed backhand when he lines it up. Missed the final, but was damn sure Melzer would cruise to a pretty easy win, considering how he’s been playing this year. Not to be.

Golubev takes home his first ever championship, as well as Kazakhstan’s first ever pro level title. Woah. Considering he’s typically a Challenger guy and this is a 500 event, his ranking (and total prize money) are going to fly through the roof. He’ll presumably follow them, using his trophy to fly to his next tournament in Gstaad.

Another epic championship victory for British teenager Heather Watson. She defeated top seed Sania Mirza in the $25k event in Wrexham without dropping a set on the way. Win. Also, if you’re not already, you can follow her on twitter at @mizwatson92. Elementary, my dear.

25 Jul 2010

WTA – Stanford (Premier)
Stanford WTA

Official Site: Here
Draw: Here
Top Seeds:
Superhero, Elena, A-Rad, Mono, Masha

Pretty fun draw in Stanford to kick off the US Open Series for the ladies. While it does have a few holes and a lot of qualifiers, there’s some big names that are going to throw down some serious competition later in the tournament. There’s some pretty fun first round matches too, with a wee bit of history. Dinara/Kimiko, Ana/Kleybs, Shahar/Dani, CanWoz/Mel (please win, Aleks) and Mono/Harkleroad. Yes, you read that last one correctly. Winner of Dinara/Kimiko gets Elena in the second round. You’ve also got Sam, Masha, A-Rad, Wicky and Vika. That’s some seriously big hitting right there (well, except for you A-Rad, but that’s ok, you’ll still win some matches somehow anyway). Looking forward to it.

Oh, and if for some reason you were born on the moon and missed that Forty Deuce has a press pass and is blogging from Stanford this week, make sure to bookmark that shit and check it. Often. She’s already got some epic stories from the draw and practice courts, as well as some kickass pics and videos of Masha, Sam, and others practicing. And that’s just day 1. Get on it.

ATP – Los Angeles (250)
Los Angeles ATP

Official Site: Here
Draw: Here

Top Seeds: Muzz, Q-Man, Marcos, Feli
Pretty dece draw, no? Curious to see how Muzz kicks off his hard court swing, and nice to see Baggy back in action. Some solid floaters (mostly Americans), and of course Muzz/The Power of Curls possible quarterfinal is mega juicy for a 250 event. Sweet. A tournament to keep an eye on.

ATP – Gstaad (250)
Gstaad ATP

Official Site: Here
Draw: Here
Top Seeds:
Youz, Nico, Thomaz, Montanes

Why must these tournaments happen? A 250 clay event in Switzerland at the end of July? I mean come on. WTF are you doing, Youz? Playing on clay when you could start your hard court swing in America? Silly pants. I get that there’s the clay guys and the journeymen and all that but… bah. Moving on.

ATP – Umag (250)

Official Site: Here
Draw: Here
Top Seeds:
Kolya, Melzer, Ljubs, JCF

Did I mention that I have a shorter attention span, and asking me to keep track of 5 tournaments in one week is kind of a bit too much to ask?

WTA – Istanbul (International)
Istanbul WTA

Official Site: Here
Draw: Here
Top Seeds:
Franny, Kvitova, Pavs, Slava

A new hard court event in Istanbul that was supposed to be featuring Serena? Right. Though Sorana is playing. Please just win a match girl. Maybe two. You’ve got some big time points to defend over the next month.

24 Jul 2010

Ever wondered? Maybe. Probably not. But maybe.

Here’s a post from Tennis Warehouse that I dug up. It’s from 2008, but the ones that I’ll list are the same today. First, the ITF classification:

Category 1 – Slow
Category 2 – Medium-Slow
Category 3 – Medium
Category 4 – Medium-Fast
Category 5 – Fast

Gerflor Taraflex (Lyon, MS Paris): 5 – Fast
Greenset (Old MS Madrid) : 3 – Medium
Plexipave (Stockholm): 3 – Medium
Rebound Ace (Former AO): 4/5 – Medium-Fast / Fast
Premier Court: (Not listed)
Plexicushion (AO): 3/4 – Medium / Medium-Fast
Decoturf (USO): 4 – Medium-Fast

With what else I’ve been able to dig up, the World Tour Finals at the O2 arena and the Shanghai Masters are also both held on DecoTurf, as is the entirety of the US Open Series. Oh, and for the record, the France/Argentina tie will be held in the Lyon arena (Gerflor Taraflex), but the actual 250 event itself has been re-located to Montpellier, held at the same time and on indoor hard courts, though I have no idea which specific type. Interestingly enough, the ITF site now has the Gerflor (Paris Masters) as a 3 (medium-fast), so I’m curious if the classification was changed later. Keep that in mind.

So what’s the difference? First, check out the ITF site. There’s a few surfaces out there, no? And don’t be confused by Decoturf (medium) and Pro Decoturf (fast). The “Pro” one is the one used at the US Open. Let’s start with Plexicushion. (There are different types of Plexicushion, manufactured by the Plexipave company. The specific one at the Australian Open, and presumably the best, is Plexicushion Prestige.)

Plexicushion

The always reliable Wikipedia describes consisting “of a Plexicushion substrate (which is a blend of latex, rubber, and plastic particles) and the 100% acrylic Plexipave Surface. The substrate forms a layer which absorbs body shock and reduces muscle fatigue.”

The Australian Open originally used Rebound Ace (back when it was green), an Australian company. Players complained that the surface retained moisture and became dangerous when it got really hot out.

This article is down right hilarious. The chief executive of AO (also in the previous article) states how he is confused about the surface switch that cost millions of dollars.

Plexicushion was rushed onto Melbourne Park with Tennis Australia claiming the surface would reduce injuries through less heat retention while providing a faster, lower and more consistent bounce.

Evidence shows that the courts pretty well stayed the same, in terms of stickiness and heat retention (from what I read), and McNamee was likely spot on when he said injuries are “inevitable on any hard court”. People were also pissed that it was changed to an American company, not the Australian Rebound Ace, and would be closer to the Decoturf surface that had been used (and still is) at the US Open for decades. Of course the ITF has Plexicushion as a medium-fast, and Decoturf as fast, so that’s clearly not the case.

Well, guess what? Plexicushion, having the word “cushion” in its name, might have helped with better traction on the court on hotter days, fine. But cushion equals bounce, and anyone who knows anything about tennis means that’s likely going to be MORE bounce and a bit slower speed, not “providing a faster, lower and more consistent bounce” like Tennis Australia eventually called for (though the surface itself is supposed to have incredibly consistent bounces). Which makes me wonder if a match like the high flying Rafa/Fer semi of a year ago might have happened at say, the US Open. Or even on the old Rebound Ace.

Next up, Decoturf. Bring me my Wikipedia! “DecoTurf is a tennis hardcourt comprising layers of acrylic, rubber, silica, and other materials on top of an asphalt or concrete base.” Slightly different from the “latex, rubber, and plastic” of Plexicushion. Noted.

Decoturf

Decoturf is most definitely a reliable surface. From what I’ve read, the ball bounces slightly lower and gets slightly less traction, meaning it moves faster, hence the ITF category 4 classification. Ironically, it is now compared to the old Rebound Ace, from what I read (though it, like Plexicushion, is under medium-fast in the ITF listings).

How about Gerflor Taraflex? Here’s something interesting from the Taraflex site. “Excellent abrasion resistance compared to resins/hard courts”. The DecoTurf info page on ITF specifically notes that it is a resin, and I’m assuming Plexicushion is too (combination of plastic etc.) Which is why I originally posted the thread from 2008 up top.

In it, there’s some confusion as to whether or not the Paris tournament is carpet or not. The surface was the same from 2007 to 2008 – still Gerflor, though it did change colour. It is also classified as a fast, not medium-fast court. In other words, the court might play different from a “traditional” resin based hard court, however, isn’t quite the classic, gross ass carpet that you don’t really see any more. However, the ITF information shows that it is clearly a resin based hard court. It still seems strange, however, that it would be once listed as carpet, and the Taraflex site would say that there’s a difference between “traditional” resin based hard courts (unless that’s a different type of Gerflor product). Confusing eh? You guys might not care, but I find it interesting. If anyone has any more info on that, hit me.

Overall, the differences between hard courts remain subtle, and there are many, many other types, some of which are used in other pro tournaments. The Australian Open change to Plexicushion, and it’s difference from the US Open is what intrigues me most, however. Maybe there are other reasons beyond exhaustion and injury as to why Rafa has had more trouble at the US Open than the Australian Open. Perhaps that little added speed helped make some of the difference in Delpo/Fed between AO and USO. Minute differences, sure. But when we’re talking about the highest level of play, combined with power and ball bounces, it can make a difference. The neutral surface? I’ll let you decide.

Overall, this thing is a bit sprawling and insane, but I hope you guys learn something and find something interesting about it. Clay and grass are both “natural” surfaces, and make sense. Hard courts, however, are artificial, and therefore must have differences between types and makes. So this was my little research project on them, going into the big summer hard court swing. Feel free to comment with anything you know about them, anything I might have messed up, or any other thoughts.

I Believe In Miracles

Posted by Brodie under: Chak, Polona, Portoroz

24 Jul 2010

Up and comer, hometown favourite, Slovenian Polona Hercog. Comeback Kid of the year, ponytail slingin’ Anna Chakvetadze. Portoroz semifinal. Match of the year. 6pm local time. Be there.

Podcastin’: Cryin’

Posted by Brodie under: Podcasts

23 Jul 2010

New podcast!

We talk buy/sell on the ATP top 15 (whilst doing ACTUAL live research! Podcast boner!), US Open series, Serena’s foot, and Delpo. And I cry and die a little inside, but that can kind of be expected when it comes to Delpo. Enjoy!

Vid Me Up: Sports Movies Suck

Posted by Brodie under: JMac, Vid Me Up

23 Jul 2010

Big ups to Tiggy on his fantastic piece about the movie The French, based on events of the 1981 French Open.

He makes the great point that tennis movies, in theory, are stupid. With other sports movies, they can often focus in on the specific things one player, or group of players does on a team. Take football for example. Unless you’ve played in the NFL, no one really knows what it looks like deep down in the trenches, or exactly what goes on in huddles. You can pull that off in a movie. Tennis, not so much. It’s a personal sport, and both players are always being filmed. It can also feature a competitive explosiveness that would be difficult (and perhaps a tad silly) to act. To be honest, it’s kind of why I hate sports movies. Why not just watch real sports and wait for the actual moments to happen with athletes, not actors. It’s a bit silly to try and recreate it.

Which is why this video really caught my eye. The shooting of it is entirely cinematic, with ground level shots and isolated video of Conners and J-Mac, something you would expect from a Hollywood movie.

It’s also super cool to see a really young looking J-Mac and follow his trades and reactions piece by piece, and it really captures the atmosphere of the match (yes, French fans were just as ridiculous 30 years ago).

Anyway, just thought I’d share for the 2 people who don’t regularly read his stuff, or might have skipped over it. There’s lots of other links on youtube to other pieces from the movie, be sure to check ‘em out. Gotta love the lines too.

“It would make me feel a lot better to not have you in the chair”…

And my personal fave: Mac, after bitching and wanting someone to check out the court, gets the chair to call, and he let’s out a “I appreciate it. OK.” in typical Mac fashion as if to say “well, finally”. Classic.

The Changeover Podcast:

Episode #56 – Indian Wells Wrap