Archive for August, 2010

You Were Missed, Please Be Back

Posted by Ana under: Ana, USO

31 Aug 2010

Ana

Ana beat Makarova 6-3, 6-2.

Am I dreaming? A straight sets win. Not a single break point faced. Solid serve. Totally committed. I am so happy.

I’ve said this before, but this time I honestly feel Ana is coming back. Heinz and her new fitness coach were the best thing that happened in the last months. I used to feel Ana was sad on court, not enjoying, etc. Probably like most of her fans. That totally changed. She seems comfortable and confident in most of her shots and that is so nice to see. Also, how funny is that this is happening in USO? She usually doesn’t have great results there. It might be a sign.

She will face Zheng tomorrow. In my opinion, if Ana remains focused and calm she has a great shot of winning. Just breathe, girl. There’s still some ankle pain but it’s getting better.

Have you guys noticed how much she’s been smiling lately? Tennis needs her. It’s as simple as that.

Home Of The Brave

Posted by Ana under: Melanie, USO

31 Aug 2010

mel

Mel won. She beat Savchuk 6-3, 6-0.

I am so happy for her. It’s always tough when there’s so much pressure. She handled it pretty great and is on the 2nd round. People were expecting better results after last year’s QF but things didn’t go as well. Anyways, she definitely feels comfortable playing USO so I really hope she goes further on the last Major of the season.

29 Aug 2010

delpo

I can’t believe it’s USO time already.

To be honest, it has always been my least favorite Slam. I don’t know exactly why, but I never get as excited as for the others. This year is different, though. I’m really looking forward to it.

Let’s start with…no Serena. We’re used to her skipping other tournaments but this foot problem is really serious to prevent her from playing a Grand Slam (The story behind it’s hilarious, though). Also, it’s safe to say Masha and Kim are the biggest contenders to win the title and thankfully they’re in opposite sides of the draw. I mean, it’s WTA I’m talking about so who knows what will happen there. I like Vika’s chances too. Her draw is pretty doable and she’s been playing good tennis. Nonetheless I’m confident we’re going to get a rematch of the Cincy final but with a different outcome. Masha wins a Slam every two years, so it’s time for another one. Let’s keep in mind that if JJ or Caro win the US Open (it is highly unlikely) there will be a new number 1.

I think it’s the first time I found more difficult to predict things on the men’s side.
I really wish Rafa would win USO this year (just to get the Career Slam and end up all the talking), but after what I’ve seen in Toronto and Cincy I’m not that sure anymore. That being said, I should have learned by now to never underestimate Rafa because he always ends to up to amaze me. On the other hand, I really don’t mind Muzz winning (If Rafa can’t make it. There, I said it). He has the game to do it, so what really needs to be working properly is his head. There’s also Fed. He’s never entirely gone. That’s only going to happen when he retires (and we need to wait until the Olympics for that). His timing to start playing good tennis again was perfect. When his game is on, I think it’s really difficult to beat it, especially at Flushing Meadows. Of course Berdych, Soderling, Nole, A-Rod and even Nalby can’t be forgotten but I really just don’t see them winning this year. I’m with Brodie on this one, I feel it’s going to be a Fedal final (don’t take my word too seriously, because last time I predicted something like this, Fed lost in QF).

As for my faves, my main goal is to see Ana reaching more than 2nd round. I saw some pics of her practicing and although the ankle is taped she seems to be moving well. That kid needs a break, so I’d appreciate Makarova to go away in straights. For reals. And that goes for Fognini too. I can’t take another heart breaking loss from Fer.

And last but not least, I just want to say I miss Delpo. I really do. He can’t come back soon enough.

Less than 24 hours for USO to start. Bring. It. On.

From Yale To New York

Posted by Ana under: Caro, New Haven

29 Aug 2010

caro new haven

Caro strikes again. She beat Nads in three sets to clinch her 3rd straight New Haven title. It’s been a two good weeks for the girl. Montreal, NH and US Open series champion.

What can I say? I am not a fan of the moonball thing but she’s trying to play more aggressively.
Also, one word. Consistency. Do I need to say anything else? I really think Brodie’s post about her sums things up pretty well. So, can people finally stop with this “Caro’s seeded #1 for the US Open. OMG.” thing? Yes? Thank you.

In other news, Stakhovsky won the men’s final. He had to go through T-Rob and Bags. Second title of the season and highest career ranking. Funny thing about him… 4 ATP Tour Finals, 4 titles. Not a bad stat, right?

26 Aug 2010

(Women’s draw breakdown here).

Official Site: Here
Draw: Here
Top Seeds:
Rafa, Fed, Nole, Muzz, Sod, Kolya, Berd, Nando

Top Quarter:

Rafa should more or less walk to the quarterfinals. Ljubs could be a threat but in 5 sets? Yeah, no.

The bottom quarter is hella juicy. Ferru/Dolg first round with Ernie, and then Fernando/Foghat first round with Nalby. Yikes. Your guess is as good as mine. 5 sets will be tough for Nalby, but I really think that he has been playing well enough to beat Nando and have a serious impact here.

Quarterfinal: Rafa vs. Headbandian

Second Quarter:

Some interesting match-ups here, as early in the first round (Jules/Steps, Youz/Golubev, Berd/Llodra) but at the end of the day, this quarter is all about Muzz and Berd.

A lot of people were jumping to conclusions about this half with Muzz and Rafa, but I say not so fast. First of all, Nalby has a legit shot against Rafa (hell, Ernie might too) and Berd is one hell of a problem for Muzz. Andy does love his beloved hard courts, but Berd has had some success on the surface this year with the Miami final, and of course has been delivering the goods in 5 set matches.

Muzz doesn’t love the big servers and can get far too passive against them at times. Did I mention that Berd has been dynamite in the past two slams?

Quarterfinal: Muzz vs. Berd

Third Quarter:

This is Nole’s quarter to lose, and in my eye, the weakest of the quarters.

The top half features Kolya and Dick, both of whom have been non-existent since… well, I don’t remember. Neither have had fantastic years, really. Gael remains the only real challenge to either of those.

The bottom half features Nole, Bags, and Fish. Nole gets lucky in that he’ll only have to face one of those. In 5 sets I kind of like Baggy, but Fish does have the home field advantage. Still think Nole will find his way past either of them regardless.

Quarterfinal: Dick vs. Nole

Bottom Quarter:

It’s not a cake draw for Fed, but it sure is pretty damn easy. Sod also faces a pretty easy draw, though if Marin decides to wake up, that could be tough.

Fed’s form of late has been pretty damn impressive. Sod’s has… not. He was cutting it close in 3 set matches in Toronto and Cincy, which is bad news for 5 sets. He’s probably ok to make it to the quarters, but unless he can find top form heading into a possible Fed match-up, he’s in trouble.

Quarterfinal:Sod vs. Fed

Semifinals: Rafa vs. Berd, Dick vs. Fed
Final: Rafa vs. Fed
Champion: Rafa

26 Aug 2010

Official Site: Here
Draw: Here
Top Seeds:
Caro, Kim, Venus, JJ, Superhero, Franny, Bepa, Nails

Top Quarter:

If I’m Caro, I’m asking for a refund on the top seed. That, or asking Kim for a trade. Nevermind even making it to the end of this quarter to play the lady on the bottom; she’s going to have to possibly survive Lucie in the third round and Masha in the fourth round. Not pretty stuff. Caro has upped her power of late, but Masha is the exact wrong opponent she would like to see, someone who can hit hard and hit through her.

Don’t count out the bottom of the quarter. I really liked Kuz’s chances of going deep or even making the final pre-draw. This draw doesn’t exactly help her out, but it’s do-able if she can avoid Masha. Even then, that’s not impossible. I like her chances against Kiri, Nails, and Caro if that happens. Oh, and this section also features the epic awesome Chak/U-Rad first rounder. I’ll have to find a way to sneak into that.

Quarterfinal: Masha vs. Kuz

Second Quarter:

This quarter might have to be the strongest in terms of possible quality matches. Even some of the first round ones are great. JJ gets young cutie Simona Halep, Bethanie/AMG, Nads/Petko. The second round could hold Sorana/Dulgheru and Sabine/Bepa. The fourth round has Wicky/JJ and A-Rad/Bepa.

In my eye, in consideration to their recent form, this is JJ’s quarter to lose and Bepa’s to win. This quarter isn’t particularly strong and is filled with a lot of non-threatening players; you’ve got to like your chance whoever you might be. Unless she mentally flies out the window (which has been happening less and less) Bepa should be able to take out whatever this quarter manages to throw at her.

Quarterfinal: Wicky vs. Bepa

Third Quarter:

The third quarter kicks off the bottom half with all signs pointing towards a Vika/Venus quarterfinal heavyweight bout… but not so fast. Could Franny conjure up some more Grand Slam magic? Pavs also looms for Vika, and yes, Mel is in there too (luckily for Vika she’s Belorussian, not Russian).

Venus could have a rematch with Pironkova (if she can get past a tricky Polona) and Flavs and Agi are hanging around too. This is a tough one to call, because the state of Venus’ health is pretty unknown, and Flavs is having some troubles now too. Still, very do-able for Venus if she’s feeling ok.

Quarterfinal: Vika vs. Venus

Bottom Quarter:

Kim!

This quarter is absolutely packed to the nines with power. The first half of it assumes a Sam/Elena fourth rounder, but that’s far from automatic. I really don’t think Elena is in the right mental or physical state to make an impact here, which is bad news with someone like Dani or Dinara so early. Sam could get Kleybs, which is also trouble on a relatively fast surface. Hmm.

The very bottom holds Kim of course, and her draw is hardly a walk in the park. Kvitova in the third round, and a slew of tough opponents could make the fourth round including Mono, JZ and Ana. Hell, Timea ain’t a walk in the park either. Kim will say that the pressure doesn’t bother her, and while she is more mentally tough than before leaving to have Jada, it’s impossible to think that the pressure won’t get to her a little bit. Not to mention she plays at the speed of light, and when things go bad, they go really bad (I’m looking at you, Australian Open).

That being said, I think Kim is ok for the quarterfinals, though people should be keeping a close eye on her in those earlier, tough matches.

Quarterfinal: Sam vs. Kim

Semifinals: Masha vs. Bepa, Vika vs. Kim
Final: Masha vs. Kim
Champion: Masha

Ponder The Racket III

Posted by Brodie under: Ponder The Racket, USO

25 Aug 2010

I know this is the lazy way out but… it’s hard to find things to get excited about when you can’t actually watch tennis.

- I’ve got thoughts on the whole Serena thing, and I’ve been reading about it… but I’ve somehow got writers block. There will be a post up soon enough, I promise.

- Just as a quick disclaimer, I’ll be doing my top 12 USO seeds/favourites going into the USO on Sunday just like I did for Wimbledon. There will be one every hour.

- While people continue to crap all over Caro for playing New Haven, put yourself in her shoes for two seconds. She’s the two time defending champ, and had never found success in Canada until this year. This year, she wins Montreal… a bit tough to pull out of a struggling tournament that pimps your shit as a two time defending champion. Oh, and there’s hot football guys there. Tough situation to pull out of. Hell, she won New Haven last year and made the finals of the USO, don’t count her out just yet.

- On the other hand, I haven’t the slightest clue as to why Marcos is there. He had a great Cincy, there’s no use in playing New Haven.

- Just retire James Blake, while you still have an ounce of dignity. Word on the street is that he’s considering playing Challengers and Futures to get his game back into shape. Dude, I know you’re a bald American, but you ain’t Andre.

- Trying to use lead up tournaments as a “preview” to a slam is a bit silly, but I really think the WTA Cincy final might be a sign of things to come.

- Bloody hell Nike, you can’t afford/figure out a few cameras streaming video and sound in sync? Figure that shit out. Just do it.

- Is a former top 10 player with top 10 talent and 3 time slam finalist really a dark horse for a slam? Dinara isn’t in the top 50 right now due to injury, but could you imagine people calling Serena a dark horse if she was out of the top 50 due to injury? Silly. Oh, and Dinara is really beginning to find her old form, but she’s got a long way to go. So she’s not a dark horse anyway.

- Never forget, the USO is a fast surface. Has the non-USA tennis universe forgotten about Andy Roddick?

- Are slams really as long and gruelling as we make them out to be? Mentally, sure. But physically? 7 matches (albeit tough matches, and 5 setters for the men) in 14 days isn’t insanity. Just think about Delpo last year, making the finals of Washington and Montreal. My point? I don’t think all this Nalby hype is ridiculous. He’s looking fit, he’s got momentum, and the backhand is pure insanity right now.

A Little Love, Please

Posted by Brodie under: Caro, Montreal

23 Aug 2010

It’s been a long time coming.

Last year, Caro’s career exploded. Capped off by the USO final berth, Caro was no longer the little girl winning the tiny tournaments. She had made the big time. And while the fans (and young males…) came in support, so did the haters.

Much as been made about Caro being the top seed going into the USO (she’s still not the number 1 in the world…) but Caro finally has her first “Tier I” championship (or Premier 5, in this case).

It was a weird day of tennis. Caro and Sveta got off to a slow start in the morning, and Caro won the match on the back of consistency. Kuz had real timing troubles, and sitting back in the second set eventually burned her when she made a bunch of silly errors to be broken late in the set.

Vika just baaaarely lost the first set… and then had to retire early in the second due to a blister on her foot. Props to her for realizing that she was going to be screwed if she had to play again later the day. And way to thicken the plot heading into the USO.

The final was equally weird. Bepa couldn’t buy a first serve (no seriously, it was bad) and Caro just did her Caro thing. Bepa couldn’t find the range, the serve, the consistency… you name it. And then it was over, and the haters were left with nothing but a gigantic golden smile to suck on.

Listen, I get the point. Caro plays low risk tennis, doesn’t hit a ton of winners, has a sub par net game, and collects a ton of wins. But doesn’t something need to be said for consistent tennis?

In her last three matches, Flavia, Sveta, and Bepa, Caro pushed balls out wide, played great defense, and yes, hit winners when the oppurtunity was there. Not to mention, she showed some pretty solid power, crushing second serves and at times overwhelming opponents from both wings.

If consistent tennis can’t win in today’s WTA… what can?

Live Blogging VI

Posted by Brodie under: Live Blogging, Montreal

23 Aug 2010

It’s not raining anymore! Word! It’s 17 degrees out, yikes. No sun, but the rain is supposed to hold off for now. Bepa/Vika are on the second court, so I won’t have anything from that match, sorry. Caro/Kuz and then the final.

17:17 …*Tumbleweed*… Sorry about that. Caro won pretty easily, obviously.

14:28 Up a break, Caro is looking in total control. Bepa can’t buy a first serve (under 40%) and is on the edge of total collapse.

14:17 Caro takes the first set, but Bepa has come out focused in the second, and has upped the power.

14:03 Bepa is finding her way into this set, but she’s a bit late to the party. Moving her feet better, but still getting done in by Caro’s defence. Bepa to serve to stay in it at 2-5.

13:55 Swing volley city for Caro, and she holds. Bepa really trying to get the juices flowing, whacking at her leg and the usual business. Both players are serving well below 50%, would have to guess the wind is having a little something to do with it.

13:52 Some solid power and aggression from Caro going out wide gives her a couple of easy net put aways and she’s up a break. 3-1.

13:46 Mishit from Vera and Caro holds. Bepa is already swatting at the air…

13:43 Double dosage of double faults at 15-30 for Bepa… aaand one game all. Okie dokie.

13:41 Winner for Bepa and some errors… she breaks to open. 1-0.

13:36 Hey all. Players warming up, Mariana in the chair. Time. 22 degrees out. Stadium starting to fill up.
Read the rest of this entry »

22 Aug 2010

Joint – New Haven (Premier and 250)

Official Site: Here
Draws: Women‘s and Men‘s
Top Women Seeds:
Caro, Sam, Franny, Elena
Top Men Seeds: Bags, Bellucci, Gonzo, The Fishy One

I have never been happier to do a “The Week Ahead”. One tournament? No strange clay events? No weird, smaller USO Series tournies? Praise be to Sven.

Hilariously, the ladies’ side is of a higher level (Premier vs. 250), has way more star power in terms of big names, slightly higher prize money… yet with a 32 player draw instead of the men’s 64 (though 2 and 16 byes respectively). That being said, New Haven suddenly takes on a whole new meaning with Serena out of the USO, the return of Sam, and the quality of the draw. Can Caro defend (or bother to play)? Is Sam’s arm ok? How’s Elena’s head after that ridiculous loss in Montreal? Franny/Dinara? Can Flavs keep the ball rolling? The perfect appetizer before New York’s main course.

As for the men… well, Leo Mayer is your eighth seed, so that says a lot. Cincy finalist and semifinalist Fish and Bags are in, however, and Gonzo makes his return as the third seed. Otherwise, it’s guys without real shots at going deep at the Open looking to scrap together some last minute hard court points (Bellucci, Golubev, T-Rob, etc.). It does feature youngsters de Bakker and Dolg Jr., however, guys who I’ve had a keen eye on the past several months. And Dustin Brown qualified, so that rules too.

The Changeover Podcast:

Episode #56 – Indian Wells Wrap