Friday, July 23, 2010

Stanford & UCLA 2010

After a long hot summer vacation, the US Open series begins to ramp up. Unless you consider any of the following news.

  • ReeRee goes on the injured list with an injured foot and will miss most of the summer and (conveniently) get back in time to play the US Open

  • JuJu probably won't be back from her elbow injury until Beijing after the US Open

  • Rafa is a total Spanish football fanboy, and cheered for the Barca the La Liga all-stars in their victory in the World Cup over the Dutch

  • GOAT Brain vacationed in Corsica with the Mighty Babes

  • ARod shaved his hair

  • The Worm got married to Nicole Vaidisova

  • Tennis Canada declined to give a wild card to NaturAna for Montreal, and it all might be for the best.

  • Some idiotic tennis journalists think ReeRee is the female GOAT despite the fact that she has not yet won more majors than Evert, Navratilova, Graf and Court

  • Davis Cup quarterfinals happened: Serbia beat Croatia and will host the Czechs for the semis. Argentina beat Russia, and will travel to France who beat a clearly distracted Spanish team.


Almost none of these items have anything to do with a professional going out and smacking some balls to win a match. Hence the long silence of this blog.


The ladies are in Stanford for the Bank of the West Classic. The guys are at UCLA for the Farmer's Classic. Yes, Pac-10 universities have a fetish with medieval-looking buildings (I'm an alumni of one). Yes, it's a vain attempt to imitate the Ivy Leagues who are also fashioning a simulacra of European universities like Oxbridge. No, the boys and girls won't be playing in a vintage stadia.


Stanford





Given Shrieka's form this past spring, can she elevate it during the USA hard court season? Is she due for a run? Can Sam be a superhero on hard courts as well as clay? Can Hamster defend her title? It's the WTA. It's anyone's guess who will win this tourney.

Tourney Site: here

Draw: here

Seeds: Sam, Aggie, Hamster, Shahar, Whoopie, Shrieka, Bepa and JZ

Last year, this dramatic trauma happened to the delight of some.



It scarred the blonde Bolletieri alumna so much that she decided to sign up for dubs with Whoopie this year to work on her volleys. Unfortunately since neither of them have a top 10 ranking, they weren't allowed a doubles wild card but they'll try again.

UCLA





Nole has dropped out for personal reasons and is replaced by Muzz who must be looking for any reason to get out of Florida's summer humidity. Will Muzz show an ability to take control of points? Or has Gulbis recovered from his injury enough to hit through him? Will Samurai's supporters lift him to victory for a repeat of his win in his home town? Can Blah resuscitate his career?

Tourney Site: here

Draw: here

Seeds: Muzz, Samurai, Blah, Bags, Gulbis, Feli

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

US Open 2010: It Must Be Love (Part 2)

The US Open has recycled the "It Must Be Love" advertising campaign from last year.

Rafa teaches us his favorite recipe of pasta y gambas (i.e. shrimp pasta for you philistines). Grade: B+



Fed teaches us how to hit a tweener (men: beware when you really try to put mustard on the ball). Grade: B



Vee apologizes to her mom for trying to hit her serves so hard. Grade: B



Mel Bell still does her chores after her new-found personality. Grade: C



Muzz bores by how he outlasted his team in training. Grade: C



Caro the Danish Cutie Pie surprises some by her training regimen: boxing. Grade: B



Bryan Bros tells us how to distinguish them. Grade: A-



Splits reminisces about her comeback. Grade: C



ARod hints that some tennis players tweet a bit too much. I guess that's you, ReeRee. Your 1.6 million followers need to know how obssessed you are with Green Day. Love how ARod begs for more followers. Grade: A

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Wimbledon 2010: The King and Queen of the Ball

July 04, 2010 - 06130494 date 04 07 2010 Copyright imago GEPA Pictures Tennis ATP Wimbledon 2010 London England 04 Jul 10 Tennis ATP World Tour Wimbledon 2010 Grand Slam Award Ceremony Final Picture shows Rafael Nadal ESP with the Cup PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxAUTxITA Tennis men All England Championships ATP Tour London Wimbledon Final Award Ceremony Single Vdig 2010 vertical Highlight premiumd.


As any tennis fan knows, Rafa got to bite the trophy and solidify his #1 ranking, possibly towards the end of the year. He was just too good for Berdych who couldn't convert on any of his break chances and went down with triple break points in the 1st and 2nd sets. And that was the match (63 75 64). Unfortunately a real sleeper after the epics in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

July 04, 2010 - Wimbledon, United Kingdom - epa02236640 Rafael Nadal (R) of Spain celebrates after winning the Mens Single final match against Tomas Berdych (L) of the Czech Republic for the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, in London, Britain, 04 July 2010.


As usual, he fell to the ground after winning championship point.

July 04, 2010 - 06130351 date 04 07 2010 Copyright imago Hasenkopf Wimbledon 2010 Sports Tennis ITF Grand Slam Tournament men Singles Final Rafael Nadal ESP to the Match ball backwards Fall cheering Emotion Tennis men All England Championships ATP Tour London Wimbledon Final Action shot Single cut out Vdig 2010 horizontal Highlight premiumd.


Then he added a new twist to his victory celebration.

July 04, 2010 - 06129831 date 04 07 2010 Copyright imago Paul Room Tennis The Wimbledon Championships 2010 London Rafael Nadal Spain wins to 2 Times Wimbledon Tennis men All England Championships ATP Tour London Wimbledon Final Victory Single Vdig 2010 vertical Highlight premiumd.


And he greeted ReeRee with a kiss at the Championships' Ball.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 04: Serena Williams of USA receives a kiss from Rafael Nadal of Spain as he arrives at the Wimbledon Championships 2010 Winners Ball at the InterContinental Park Lane Hotel on July 4, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)


ReeRee looks pretty happy to be holding that dish and standing next to the Spaniard. She's made no secret of her admiration for the Rafinator.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 04: Serena Williams of USA and Rafael Nadal of Spain with their winners trophies at the Wimbledon Championships 2010 Winners Ball at the InterContinental Park Lane Hotel on July 4, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)


Likewise ReeRee was just too good for Bepa triumphing over her in straight sets (63 62).

July 03, 2010 - Wimbledon, United Kingdom - epa02235282 Serena Williams (L) of the US with the championship trophy as she celebrates her straight sets victory over Vera Zvonareva (R) of Russia in the women's singles final for the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, in London, Britain, 03 July 2010.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Wimbledon 2010: Teammate Love

Lots of love got exchanged between teammates today.

July 03, 2010 - United Kingdom - Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England - 3/7/10..Austria's Jurgen Melzer (Top) and Germany's Philipp Petzschner celebrate after winning the Mens Doubles Final.


Petz and Melzer won the gentlemen's doubles championship at SW19 over Lindsteadt and Tecau (61 75 75).




Vania King, gamer gal, and her partner Yaroslava Shvedova came back from a break down in the first set against Bepa and Vezzy to take the ladies doubles (76[6] 62).

JOHANNESBURG, July 4, 2010 Players of Spain celebrates David Villa's goal during the 2010 World Cup quarter-final soccer match between Paraguay and Spain at Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, on July 3, 2010.Spain won 1-0 and is qualified for the semi-finals.


Rafa must surely have yelped and danced for joy. In the World Cup, Spain's David Villa scored the sole goal late in regulation (83:00) despite the Paraguayans clogging the middle for most of the game to neutralize the Spanish passing attack. Props to Casillas for saving a penalty kick. They'll play the Germans in the semifinals, who stomped all over La Pulga and Company (Argentina).

Wimbledon 2010: Gentlemen's Final Preview

July 02, 2010 - Wimbledon, United Kingdom - epa02234097 Andy Murray of Britain gives a post match press conference following his straight sets defeat by Rafael Nadal of Spain in their semi final match for the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, in London, Britain, 02 July 2010.


The Flower of England Scotland was bludgeoned by the Mallorcan Matador on Friday. Muzz did bring his A game, but Rafa bought his A+ game. The key was probably in the second set tiebreaker. Rafa double faulted to hand Muzz a set point at 6-5. But it was not meant to be as Rafa came up big on the big points.


Q. When he hit that the double‑fault in the tiebreaker, I mean, it as a bit of a shocker. Did it throw you off?

ANDY MURRAY: No, not at all. I mean, not if you look at the next point he played. No, it didn't at all. He played a really good point. He hit a big forehand. Hit a good pass. He hit a great angle volley on the next point. Hit a let cord passing shot on the next one.

You know, there's nothing you can do about it.


Of course, the usual floggings of Muzz have already begun (only here thus far). Then again, it's not Muzz's fault.

July 02, 2010 - United Kingdom - Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England - 2/7/10..Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates after winning in his men's singles semi final match.


Rafa will face Big Berd who is having a great year: reaching the finals in Miami and the semis in Roland Garros. He's beaten the Djoker and Fed to get to the final. Big Berd has long been heralded for his potential showing a big hitting game when he beat Federer in the 2004 Olympics, but has always been known as a bit of head case. This year he seems to have gotten his act together mentally, not letting bad breaks in a match bother him. On top of this, he is playing more consistently. He's definitely an opponent that Rafa will not understimate.

July 02, 2010 - Wimbledon, United Kingdom - epa02233580 Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic celebrates his victory over Novak Djokovic of Serbia whom he defeated in their semi final match for the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, in London, Britain, 02 July 2010.


But then again, Rafa is at the peak of his powers. Besides his ground game, Rafa is hitting bigger on his serve, showing variety with his slice backhand, looking to come forward, and taking the ball early. In the mental toughness department, Rafa is probably the GOAT in my opinion. And, he's won this event before.

Prediction: Rafa in 4 sets.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Wimbledon 2010: Ladies' Final Preview

July 01, 2010 - United Kingdom - Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England - 1/7/10..USA's Serena Williams celebrates winning the first set of her semi final match.


ReeRee got off to a slow start and then steamrolled over Petra (76[5] 62).

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 01: Vera Zvonareva of Russia celebrates match point during the Ladies Semi Final match against Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria on Day Ten of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 1, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)


No, this picture is not of Bepa melting down. Even though she was flummoxed by Tsveta's serve, backhand and slice forehands, she kept her head and started to figure out her opponents variety to get to finals (36 63 62).

Bepa and ReeRee will square off on Saturday morning for the Venus Rosewater dish. ReeRee leads their head to head record 5-2, with Bepa's last victory taking place in the semis on the hard courts of Cincinnati in 2006. But as we all know, ReeRee is a different animal at a Grand Slam. ReeRee will have to be seriously off in order for Bepa to have any chance of beating her, and Bepa will have to avoid any meltdowns. I just hope Bepa keeps it competitive.

Speaking of her meltdowns, I love how the commentators have pointed out that something about Wimbledon's staid/traditional atmosphere keeps players (like Bepa) on their best behavior.

In Charleston 2010 against Stosur, she destroys her racquet in a tribute to the greatest racquet smasher of all time: compatriot Marat Safin.



The list could go on and on (e.g. US Open 2009 against Pennetta). Funny, how in her presser, the journos politely tried to address this:


Q. Have you worked with a professional on the mental side of your game? Is that just poise and maturity, or have you worked with a sports psychologist or performance coach?

VERA ZVONAREVA: I always believe in myself. I always know that, you know, I can do anything. For me, I think it came with an experience and I know better how to handle different situations.

But, uhm, I don't care what people say around. And when they do, I can get ‑‑ I can break the racquet, but it doesn't mean I'm not there in the match. I'm trying all the time.

But I think right now experience helps me a lot. I've been in a lot of different situations in the past of my career, and I think I know how to turn the matches around much better now.

Even if something is not working, I think I know in my head that I just have to take it one point at a time and just keep trying. In the end, we will see what's going to happen.