Posted by gauloises1 on February 7, 2011
I just love Fed Cup photos.
Good luck getting the champagne out of your knickers, Kim.
Justine Henin: still retiring.
Boom boom pow.
Fed Cup faces.
It must be love.
Always have to do a double-take when I see Yanina smiling.
I could literally post pictures of Alize all day.
But I won’t.
And Sveta has the last word.
Posted in anastasia pavlyuchenkova, fed cup, flavia pennetta, francesca schiavone, jarmila groth, justine henin, kim clijsters, lucie safarova, petra kvitova, samantha stosur, svetlana kuznetsova, yanina wickmayer | Tagged: alize cornet, anastasia pavlyuchenkova, flavia pennetta, francesca schiavone, jarmila groth, justine henin, kim clijsters, lucie safarova, nicolas escude, petra kvitova, samantha stosur, svetlana kuznetsova, yanina wickmayer | 1 Comment »
Posted by gauloises1 on January 26, 2011
Or so she says.
Justine Henin has retired from tennis for the second time, according to an announcement on her official website, after doctors advised her that she wouldn’t recover from the elbow injury she sustained during her match with Clijsters at Wimbledon last year.
In these recent months I have rarely been spared of the pain [...] The doctors told me my elbow is too fragile and therefore I cannot continue my profession at this high level.
[...] I’m in shock, of course. Even with the work of these past seven months, I had to understand that there might be a reason for all this. After having considered and followed the advice of doctors, it is now clear and I accept that my career here finally ends.
It’s easy to poke fun at this, especially given the farrago of her first retirement, the short length of time before her unretirement, and the equally abrupt timing of this second retirement. It’s also easy to conclude that she’s giving up because her second career isn’t working out as well as she thought it would *cough*aswellasKim’s*cough*.
But Justine knows her own mind – albeit not in the sense that it necessarily stays the same for very long – and she’s clearly really struggled with this injury. Her body is not up to the daily grind of the tour any more, and she hasn’t made the transition to a more Serena/Kim paradigm where she can just show up and win. She’s also a great champion, and as far as I’m concerned she’s earned the right to retire whenever, wherever, and however many times she likes.
… I’m still going to give it eighteen months before I accept she’s really gone, though.
Posted in justine henin | Tagged: justine henin | 3 Comments »
Posted by gauloises1 on January 21, 2011
Svetlana Kuznetsova, I don’t get you at all.
Seriously. Because she wins the French Open in 2009 pretty much out of the blue, then is barely a factor in 2010 (I know, she had a foot injury), loses to Peng Shuai in her first tournament of the year, shows up in Sydney to beat Stosur, and then only goes and beats Justine Henin in straight sets, 64 76(8), to make the round of sixteen at the Australian Open.
I had a feeling that something like this was brewing. She has clearly tightened up and lost weight over the off-season, and watching her beat Alison Riske and Arantxa Rus, there was a level of intense, violent fist-pumping going on that said she was hungry. But there wasn’t anything to say that she was going to show up and play like the woman with the best forehand in the world.
Justine fought hard and didn’t play at all badly, but this just wasn’t about her. This was about Kuznetsova playing what she described as the ‘perfect match’; aggressive, balanced, powerhouse tennis. She hit through Henin, repeatedly putting the Belgian in uncomfortable positions she couldn’t do anything from. In what seemed like no time at all, she was 64 54 up and serving for the match.
But of course it wasn’t that simple. This is Svetlana Kuznetsova, who marches to the beat of her own irregular internal drum, and she failed to serve it out not once but twice before they finally settled things with a 10-8 tiebreak in her favour. How she did it, I have no idea. Why now, why this tournament? I have less.
I don’t think she knows either:
Then the nerves game. Then started to do a little bit of show time, you know, it’s like comedy. Women’s drama going on. It’s not only women’s. It’s like every match you see something, when it’s tough matches you see something like that, and then you have to fight the nerves to fight against yourself a little bit.
Because you try to take your time, but it’s not quite working. So I just have to be there and fight. I think I fighted against myself very well and also I did against Justine. So I’m pretty pleased. I was quite lucky actually. It was like a lottery a little bit the tiebreak. It was crazy. We had some great rallies out there and I fought hard.
Kuznetsova plays Francesca Schiavone next, who’s struggled through her last few matches with a groin strain and what looks like some form of illness and heat exhaustion – so one would think it would be pretty straightforward for the Russian. Of course it won’t be – unless that’s what she wants me to think. I don’t even know any more.
Posted in australian open, justine henin, svetlana kuznetsova | Tagged: justine henin, svetlana kuznetsova | 2 Comments »
Posted by gauloises1 on June 29, 2010
Serena Williams d. Maria Sharapova, 76(9) 64
You just knew Maria was going to turn it on for this match, and my god, did she. The first set was ridiculously good tennis – if you didn’t see it, get it – and had it not been for Serena’s phenomenal serving (and a couple of errors by Sharapova at very crucial moments in the hotly-contested tiebreak) it could and would have gone the other way. The second set perhaps inevitably didn’t live up to the standard as Serena got the bit firmly between her teeth, but it was still a great display of first-strike tennis and a very impressive victory for the defending champion.
At some point, though, Maria is going to have to start winning these close ones if she’s going to get back to where she was. After watching her today, I feel more confident than I have done at any point that that will happen. She gave another great presser, too:
Q. The last three tournaments you played very close to very good players in all matches. Do you feel like you’re close to getting over the line? What’s it going to take for you to tip the scales in your favor?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, I was very happy that I was put in the situations and I got myself in the situation in order to win the match. I certainly could have done a little bit of better job in executing.
You know, I can sit here and whine about that. But the fact that I gave myself a chance and I went out there and I’m feeling, you know, just really happy to be playing out there the way I want to play and the way that makes me happy playing, uhm, it’s a joy to be out there again.
She really means it too. Kudos – and kudos to Serena for another stunning performance. Is there anyone in the game who plays better as the favourite than Serena, who handles that pressure better? Serious question.
Kim Clijsters d. Justine Henin, 26 62 63
Who called it? Oh that’s right. Me. It didn’t play out quite as I thought it would; Justine made a great start and Kim was, by her own admission, nowhere to be found. Justine took a bad fall and received treatment for the elbow injury she incurred, and Kim took total charge of the second set. Then we all sat forward in our seats for the third set.
I honestly thought coming into this match that Justine simply wanted to win here too much, and that it would lead her to over-press – fatal, given the tactical alterations she’s made to her game which sit uneasily whatever she says – and that was very much the way it played out. She simply pushed too hard in a way that looked too uncomfortable, pressing forward down the middle of the court and either missing or leaving herself open rather than working the angles in the way she used to do. And so the grand Wimbledon campaign ends at the hands of someone whose comeback seems to have been a lot more fun than hers so far. C’est la vie.
Posted in justine henin, kim clijsters, maria sharapova, serena williams, wimbledon | Tagged: justine henin, kim clijsters, maria sharapova, serena williams | Leave a Comment »
Posted by gauloises1 on June 28, 2010
And now for the distaff side.
Serena Williams v Maria Sharapova
Strawberries-and-cream vs. upturned rose (apparently), one of these women has looked in devastatingly awesome form so far, and the other is Maria Sharapova. Admittedly Maria has won all her matches in straight sets, but the only one I’ve watched (against junior nemesis Barbora Zahlalova Strycova), she looked clumsy, sluggish and tentative. I’ve no doubt that she will get it up against Serena, but I still think this match might turn out to be a bit of a damp squib. Prediction: Serena in straights.
Winner to meet …
Na Li v Agnieszka Radwanska
It’s been a quiet Wimbledon for both these ladies so far and I haven’t seen either of them play (although we all owe Na Li a vote of thanks for getting rid of Anastasia ‘toys so far out of the pram they have been adopted by other kind homes’ Rodionova). I’m going with Agnieszka, because her game works beautifully on grass and she’s a two-time quarterfinalist in SW19. Prediction: Radwanska in three.
Caroline Wozniacki v Petra Kvitova
Kvitova has had one of the most eye-catching results at this tournament so far, coming back from a break down in the first to not just defeat but bagel Victoria Azarenka (oh, Vika). That will have given her a lot of confidence, but you can’t really bet against slow-and-steady Caroline, can you? Sadly. Prediction: Wozniacki in straights.
Winner to meet …
Klara Zakopalova v Kaia Kanepi
There are some players that I just get irrationally annoyed when I see them win. These are two of them; Zakopalova because she’s got a sour expression on her face even when she’s winning, and Kanepi because you can never tell from tournament to tournament which one of her is going to turn up (and when it’s Good Kaia, she generally announces her presence by beating one or more of my favourites). However, both of them are on excellent mini-runs. Zakopalova has beaten Meusberger, Rezai and Pennetta; Kanepi, Sam Stosur, Edina Gallovits and Alexandra Dulgheru. On the basis that the former is a shade more impressive and I don’t really care, I’m going with Zakopalova. Prediction: Zakopalova in three. She won’t smile.
Kim Clijsters v Justine Henin
H2H: 12-12 (3-1 on grass)
The other match to look forward to, particularly if you’re one of those who bemoans the last few years in the WTA. Kim has cruised so far and looks in some ways ripe for an upset, while Justine has played as well as anyone in the tournament in her defeat of Nadia Petrova. Still, I think that Justine wants this too much and that, coupled with the changes she’s made to her game this year which still don’t seem to sit right, will cost her. Prediction: Kim in three.
Winner to meet …
Vera Zvonareva v Jelena Jankovic
Vera has been quietly coming through in the bottom of the draw, largely unheeded with solid wins over unspectacular opponents until the third round when she demolished Yanina Wickmayer. The buzz is that she finally feels that she’s got her form back. JJ, meanwhile, after her win over Laura Robson, dropped a set to Aleksandra Wozniak and called the trainer after bagelling Alona Bondarenko. Not to mention that this court will be played on court 12, which JJ will need a helicopter or at least a team of Sherpas to find. Prediction: Zvonareva in two.
Tsvetana Pironkova v Marion Bartoli
Every Slam I reckon there has to be one round-of-sixteen match-up which makes you go, “… how did this happen?”. This is mine. Er, Pironkova beat Dushevina who beat Schiavone, and Bartoli is a former finalist, so …. I don’t even know. Prediction: Bartoli in straights.
Winner to meet …
Jarmila Groth v Venus Williams
It’s been a very nice tournament for the adorable Jarmila. Shame it’s over. Prediction: Venus in straights.
So that’s what I think. What do you reckon ..?
Posted in agnieszka radwanska, caroline wozniacki, jarmila groth, jelena jankovic, justine henin, kaia kanepi, kim clijsters, klara zakopalova, li na, maria sharapova, marion bartoli, petra kvitova, serena williams, tsvetana pironkova, venus williams, vera zvonareva, wimbledon | Tagged: agnieszka radwanska, caroline wozniacki, jarmila groth, jelena jankovic, justine henin, kaia kanepi, kim clijsters, klara zakopalova, li na, maria sharapova, marion bartoli, petra kvitova, serena williams, tsvetana pironkova, venus williams, vera zvonareva | Leave a Comment »
Posted by gauloises1 on May 28, 2010
Have a collection of faces which really sum the experience of Thursday at Roland Garros. Or at least trying to watch it during one’s rather narrow tennis-watching window.
All these sad puppies and a few more had matches called off for lack of light after waiting forever to get on to court. As a consequence, today’s OOP and the weekend schedule is likely to be a nuts.
Speaking of nuts …
Despite multiple rain delays, Andy Murray managed to finish his Wednesday-started match against Juan Ignacio Chela, winning in four, 62 67(5) 63 62. I didn’t see how he played and honestly I don’t really care. He’s through and that’s a cause for celebration.
No rest for the grumpy, though; he should be back about 2 this afternoon against Marcos Baghdatis. Dangerous days.
Incidentally, I’ve stopped shouting out to Steve Tignor until he stops describing Marin as ‘solid’ (we’re locked in a battle of wills, although he may not know it). But I absolutely love what he wrote about watching Murray yesterday. He not only makes an excellent point about the underrated physicality and power of Murray’s game, but I think he’s really insightful regarding the mental gymnastics that an essentially negative person has to go through in order to make themselves approach a match positively. I liked it, anyway. (But Marin is still NOT solid.)
Posted in andy murray, french open, justine henin, maria sharapova, thomaz bellucci | Tagged: andy murray, justine henin, maria sharapova, thomaz bellucci | 1 Comment »
Posted by gauloises1 on May 10, 2010
Remember when I said this shit was going to be bananas? And then that it already was? Well, further credence has been leant to that theory.
Maria Sharapova’s first match since Indian Wells didn’t go so well, as she was shown the door by Lucie Safarova, 64 63. Given that Maria was making her comeback from her surgery about this time last year (Warsaw, if memory serves), it’s a bit worrying that she hasn’t really seemed to kick on from what she achieved in 2009. But Safarova is a tough draw and as usual, Sharapova displays nothing but good sense, determination and a healthy sense of propotion (and I’m actually not being sarcastic):
After this setback, she started with the usual platitudes about being too slow off the mark; wishing she had more matches under her belt and moving forward.
Then someone asked her if it was a pain for her to have to change her travel arrangements because of this early loss. Weren’t the logistics a bit difficult?
“That’s why we get paid so well,” she shot back and then went on to reveal a little about her philosophy of life.
“We don’t get paid because everything is brought to us on a gold plate every single day. We don’t wake up in the morning with someone brushing the clay off our shoes. We go out there and we work as many hours as we need to become better. There’s no real secret to success. People ask you why you won this and why you became that. I don’t know. That’s the way life goes. Why is this a difficult period for me? I don’t know. It’s a lesson.
“I still have to go out tomorrow and change my flights and it’s not a big deal – I mean it is a big deal but it’s just another thing. The bottom line is that you rely on a strong family back home. Because realistically a tennis match is a tennis match. We hit a yellow tennis ball with a racket and it’s actually quite funny when you think about it. But that’s my life at the moment and I enjoy doing it and I know what comes with it.”
(Confession: I can’t find the article that this came from – I found it courtesy of thedoublebagel‘s twitter. But I liked the quotes too much not to use it.)
Things didn’t go much better for Justine Henin, who was shown the door by Aravane Rezai in a match that included a third-set bagel. Henin was suffering from a cold but it’s still a huge win for Rezai, who’s a big favourite of mine. Good stuff from her.
Agnieszka Radwanska and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova both notched up solid wins too over Maria Kirilenko and Daniela Hantuchova respectively. And streaming starts from tomorrow …
Singles – First Round
(4) Venus Williams (USA) d. (Q) Stefanie Voegele (SUI) 64 62
(9) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) d. Maria Kirilenko (RUS) 62 62
Lucie Safarova (CZE) d. (11) Maria Sharapova (RUS) 64 63
(15) Francesca Schiavone (ITA) d. (Q) Alizé Cornet (FRA) 62 62
Aravane Rezai (FRA) d. Justine Henin (BEL) 46 75 60
Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) d. (Q) Iveta Benesova (CZE) 62 62
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) d. Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) 64 76(2)
Olga Govortsova (BLR) d. (LL) Tathiana Garbin (ITA) 75 62
Alexandra Dulgheru (ROU) d. Melinda Czink (HUN) 61 ret. (left shoulder injury)
Vera Dushevina (RUS) d. (Q) Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) 62 61
Doubles – First Round
Chan/Zheng (TPE/CHN) d. (5) Black/Vesnina (ZIM/RUS) 60 76(6)
Chuang/King (TPE/USA) d. Errani/Vinci (ITA/ITA) 60 64
Rodionova/Schnyder (AUS/SUI) d. Govortsova/Kudryavtseva (BLR/RUS) 16 76(1) 105
Ruano Pascual/Shaughnessy (ESP/USA) d. (WC) García Vidagany/Soler Espinosa (ESP/ESP) 63 76(6)
(WC) Safina/Szavay (RUS/HUN) d. Amanmuradova/Hsieh (UZB/TPE) 26 63 108
Manolo Santana (from 12.00hrs)
1. Serena Williams vs. Vera Dushevina
2. ATP: Robert vs. Monfils (NB 14.00hrs)
3. ATP: Kubot vs. López (NB 16.00hrs)
4. ATP: Moyá vs. Becker (NB 20.00hrs)
5. Dinara Safina vs. Klara Zakopalova (NB 21.30hrs)
Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario (from 11.00hrs)
1. Zheng Jie vs. Anabel Medina Garrigues
2. Virginia Ruano Pascual vs. Arantxa Parra Santonja (NB 14.00hrs)
3. ATP: Dolgopolov Jr. vs. Seppi
4. ATP: Kohlschreiber vs. Giraldo
5. ATP: Almagro vs. Troicki (NB 17.00hrs)
6. ATP: Gimeno-Traver vs. Fish/Knowles
Stadium 3 (from 11.00hrs)
1. Peng Shuai vs. Victoria Azarenka
2. ATP: Anderson vs. Melzer (NB 14.00hrs)
3. ATP: Mayer vs. Benneteau
4. Petra Kvitova vs. Caroline Wozniacki (NB 17.15hrs)
5. Vera Zvonareva vs. Venus Williams
Court 4 (from 11.00hrs)
1. Elena Vesnina vs. Nadia Petrova
2. Sorana Cirstea vs. Flavia Pennetta
3. Samantha Stosur vs. Gisela Dulko
4. Cirstea/Peng vs. Rosolska/Shvedova (after suitable rest)
Court 5 (from 11.00hrs)
1. Mattek-Sands/Yan vs. Benesova/Zahlavova Strycova
2. Francesca Schiavone vs. Sybille Bammer
3. Li Na vs. Beatriz García Vidagany
4. Garbin/Kops-Jones vs. Peer/Schiavone (after suitable rest)
Court 6 (from 11.00hrs)
1. Akgul Amanmuradova vs. Alisa Kleybanova
2. Agnes Szavay vs. Patty Schnyder
3. Dushevina/Makarova vs. Kirilenko/Radwanska (after suitable rest)
Posted in aravane rezai, justine henin, madrid, maria sharapova | Tagged: aravane rezai, justine henin, maria sharapova | 1 Comment »
Posted by gauloises1 on May 5, 2010
Sorry for the long hiatus in posting. It was a bank holiday here in the UK and that means a lot of, well, not sitting in front of a computer. Then I was too depressed to blog. But I’m here, my sexual orientation is none of your business, and let’s have a look at what I missed over the weekend, shall we?
Rafa won the Rome Masters for the fifth time in six years. This is the sort of thing that happens. It’s his 17th Masters title, equalling Andre Agassi’s record. That sort of thing happens more rarely. And it’s Madrid next week, so who wants to take bets on how long that record is going to stand? Anyone?
Spare a thought for Ferru, though, who beat Andy Murray, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (thanks to AmyLu for the reminder!) and Fernando Verdasco to reach the final, only to be soundly beaten … again.
Just go hang out with Boss, David. At least he buys you dinner when he beats you.
While we’re thought-sparing, how about Fernando Verdasco? He outlasted Djokovic in a three-set epic, only to run out of gas against Ferru – understandably, after his excellent showings in Monte-Carlo and Barcelona. Nobody’s going to want him anywhere near them in the draw in Madrid – or Paris.
The same (ish) goes for Ernests Gulbis, who backed up his win over Federer by reaching the semis and becoming the first player to break Rafa’s serve or take a set from him all week. Can we consider him tennistically resurrected?
Meanwhile in Stuttgart, other oddly familiar things were afoot.
Justine Henin beat Samantha Stosur for the first title of her comeback. I can’t quite figure out how I feel about Justine these days. But that’s by the by to a hearty well done. Going to give a shout-out though to Sam Stosur – she really can play on clay, if that Roland Garros semi-final didn’t clue you in already – and Anna Lapushchenkova, who qualified into the draw and beat Govortsova, Azarenka and Safarova on her way to the semi-finals. The jury’s out on whether she’s a thing, but I thought she played really well all week.
On the subject of people who might be things, the de-boobed Simona Halep reached the finals of Fes in only her third tour event.
She lost to Iveta Benesova, but still.
And that is what happened while I was on a bender. I think.
Posted in anna lapuschenkova, david ferrer, ernests gulbis, fernando verdasco, fes, iveta benesova, justine henin, rafael nadal, rome, simona halep, stuttgart, titlists | Tagged: anna lapuschenkova, david ferrer, ernests gulbis, fernando verdasco, iveta benesova, justine henin, rafael nadal, simona halep | 4 Comments »
Posted by gauloises1 on April 26, 2010
Bless the Belgian Fed Cup team. One big happy family …
… that like most families, slightly hates each other:
Posted in fed cup, justine henin, kim clijsters, kirsten flipkens, yanina wickmayer | Tagged: justine henin, kim clijsters, kirsten flipkens, yanina wickmayer | 2 Comments »
Posted by gauloises1 on April 26, 2010
Tough gig, Fed Cup, if you’re injured. Jelena Jankovic played on an injured left wrist and lost both her second singles match to Daniela Hantuchova and the deciding doubles.
Kim Clijsters beat Maret Ani in straight sets on Saturday but suffered a foot injury that was later revealed to be a torn muscle which could keep her out for up to six weeks, potentially jeopardising her appearance at Roland Garros.
And Justine Henin, benched for Saturday with a broken little finger, stepped up for Sunday’s singles only to lose in three to a determined Kaia Kanepi.
Get well soon, ladies.
Posted in fed cup, jelena jankovic, justine henin, kim clijsters | Tagged: jelena jankovic, justine henin, kim clijsters | 1 Comment »