New Balls, Please

"Climbing the Comeback Mountain with the Tower of Tandil."

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Archive for the ‘rome’ Category

It’s Chica Time

Posted by gauloises1 on May 9, 2010

Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez d. Jelena Jankovic, 76(5) 75

I totally meant to blog about this last night and, revisiting it now, I’m surprised it was actually a straight sets match. It felt like such a hard-fought contest that in my mind I’d expanded it to three sets. Anyway, it was a really fun match and a proper clash of styles, with MJMS’ slightly whacky serve-and-volley tennis pitched against JJ’s counterpunching, and although MJMS was unquestionably the better player – some of her gets and pickup volleys were literally amazing – I was really impressed with JJ’s fight and the way she set herself to solving the problem in front of her, determinedly taking herself out of her comfort zone to keep it as close as it was. I still think it was a great week for her and I wouldn’t mind an early loss in Madrid if it means she can rest up and bring this kind of tennis to Roland Garros.

But it was Maria Jose’s day as she picked up the biggest title of her career at the age of 27 – and after having given up competing because she wasn’t enjoying her tennis any more. And how great is it to see one of the Spanish women making themselves a presence on the big stage, for a change? Great stuff.

Oh, lord. She’s a biter.

Posted in jelena jankovic, maria-jose martinez sanchez, rome, titlists | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Does the Pope Know About This?

Posted by gauloises1 on May 9, 2010

After that miserable news, how about some random Davis Cup doubles to cheer you up? Enter Simone Bolelli and Potito Starace, who clinched their zonal group tie against the Netherlands in four sets in the doubles today.



Between you and your god.

Update: Further Italian awesomeness courtesy of Flavia Pennetta’s doubles win with Gisela Dulko in Rome …

Posted in davis cup, flavia pennetta, potito starace, rome, simone bolelli | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Thanks For Clearing That Up

Posted by gauloises1 on May 8, 2010

Jelena Jankovic d. Serena Williams, 46 63 76(5)

To quote a good friend of mine: JJ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am really gutted I missed this match (I have a job, OK?) because it sounds like it was a cracker. After splitting sets, Serena was 5-2 up in the decider before getting pegged back to a tiebreak which JJ just edged – and which had its fair share of drama. First of all, JJ complained to the umpire that she wasn’t ready for one of Serena’s serves (somewhat inexplicably); then served to Serena when she had her hand up to signal that she wasn’t ready, and threw a hissy fit when the umpire called her on it. After match point, Serena held JJ back at net to explain  that she wasn’t trying to screw JJ out of the point, and said something that sounds suspiciously like “I would never treat you like that … I’m not Justine Henin.” You can relieve the whole glorious episode below.

Serena, of course, later tweeted that “today was the ULTIMATE choke” and explained that she played the match as if she had been off the tour since “January 1942“. On the Serena sportsmanship spectrum, I’m really not sure where this whole match falls.

But I am sure that JJ is doing fantastically well. I know it’s their weakest surface and her strongest, but back-to-back victories over the Williams sisters – one a simple exercise in domination, one a hard-fought and lengthy struggle – is a huge achievement. If she can triumph in the final, she’ll have won two of the biggest titles on tour in 2010 and gone through the best players to do it. And on a personal note, after a largely dreadful 2009, it just feels so good to be excited about the way JJ’s playing again. I love it.

So this afternoon she’ll be taking on Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez (a name I like to spell and punctuate a little differently every time I use it), who beat Ana Ivanovic in straight sets. Again I didn’t see the match, but I do know that Martinez-Sanchez is a fantastically tricky and creative player who basically puts your soul in an acid bath of frustration every time you have to watch her play your favourite. So I’m just going to assume that she tied Ana in knots, because that’s what she does. This is a career accomplishment for Martinez-Sanchez, though, and a good chance for her biggest title yet – this from a woman who semi-retired a few years back because she wasn’t sure she wanted to be playing any more. Great stuff.

As for Ana, she gets a bye in Madrid as a result of reaching the semis and will face JJ in the second round, which … oh my god the final’s starting now! Laters.

Posted in jelena jankovic, maria-jose martinez sanchez, rome, serena williams, video | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Serbian Semi-finals in Rome

Posted by gauloises1 on May 7, 2010

Yes, it’s still happening. Ana Ivanovic won a fourth consecutive match against a high-quality opponent, defeating Nadia Petrova 62 75. I didn’t see the match, but the result speaks for itself. And if it didn’t, C Note would.

Yep, we’re back to this.

Ana has a winnable match against tricky but unpredictable Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez next, and could be in the final of her first WTA event since Indian Wells in 2009. It’s happening.

But I want to talk about the match I did see, which was JJ defeating Venus, 60 61. That’s Venus’ worst defeat in her career, and – as the result suggests – a huge, huge performance from JJ.

I’m familiar with the ‘Venus is not what she was’ arguments, and the second set was certainly fairly woeful from her. But she played well in the first set, and it simply didn’ t make a difference. This JJ, and the one that beat Wickmayer, didn’t wear her opponent down or outlast her or rely on unforced errors. She overwhelmed Venus, and rendered what she was doing more or less irrelevant. I’m not saying she’s going to be able to sustain this form; I’m just saying it was a reminder of what she can do, and a revelation too. If she can bring this kind of game to Roland Garros …

Tough times tomorrow, though, as she’s playing Serena Williams, who overwhelmed Maria Kirilenko today and isn’t going to want to lose to JJ.

Excellent tournament for Maria Kirilenko though, who beat Svetlana Kuznetsova and Dominika Cibulkova on her way to this quarterfinal. Solid work.

Still, no disrespect intended to anyone else left in the draw, but I really want JJ to win tomorrow. Not to get to the final; just to see more of the way she’s been playing. It’s been, simply, the sex.

Posted in ana ivanovic, jelena jankovic, maria kirilenko, rome, serena williams, venus williams | Tagged: , , , , | 10 Comments »

What’s the Opposite of ‘Slump’?

Posted by gauloises1 on May 5, 2010

Today felt a bit like 2008 again, except with more disbelief. First of all, Jelena Jankovic put in a near-flawless performance against Yanina Wickmayer, demolishing her 62 60 in 52 minutes. My jaw was quite literally on the floor at how she played. She simply couldn’t miss; even when she was hitting the ball out or coming up with the scratchiest of scrambled defensive lobs, it went in. Wicky didn’t play badly, but she couldn’t do a thing; she served at 76% and still only won 28 points to JJ’s 53. It was a sight to see, as any match where JJ serves multiple aces in more than one service game and ends up with 22 winners and 7 unforced errors would be. Watching, I found myself really dealing with the fact that this woman earned the no. 1 ranking.

And all without chipping her nail varnish.

Then JJ’s fellow former no. 1 and sister from really another mother pumped her way back into the conversation in some style, backing up her straight-sets defeat of Victoria Azarenka by defeating Elena Dementieva, 61 76(6). Yes, that’s back-to-back top 10 wins, and yes, I am talking about this woman.

Honestly, I thought Dementieva’s performance left rather a lot to be desired, but Ana stayed strong and served strong even when under pressure and in a winning position. Her forehand imposed as it used to do and she – well, what’s a nice way of saying ‘didn’t implode’ in a tone of extreme surprise?

Best not to get ahead of ourselves, but successive wins over top 10 players – something she hasn’t managed since 2008 – justifies a little excitement, I think. Anyway, genuine congratulations to Ana fans and rooters. It would be hard to think of many other players with such a loyal following and while I may not be a fan of Ana, I’m a big fan of C Note and all her ilk. So … ajde, I guess. (Remember when we used to say that?)

Posted in ana ivanovic, jelena jankovic, rome | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Is This Thing On?

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?

Hope so.

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: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Stuttgart: What the Actual Fuck, Vika?

Posted by gauloises1 on April 30, 2010

After beating expert clay-courter and Fed Cup heroine Flavia Pennetta 61 61 in the first round, Victoria Azarenka then lost 63 63 to Anna Lapushchenkova, a player who even obsessive tennis fans have generally never heard of.

There is basically no excuse.

Posted in rome, victoria azarenka | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Rome: It Was Fun While It Lasted

Posted by gauloises1 on April 30, 2010

We lost Andy Murray today to David Ferrer, who ended the Tim’s sudden resurgence as an actual tennis player in two sets, 63 64. Sad … but at least he looked vaguely like himself again in this tournament. The losses in Indian Wells and Miami simply do not compare. There’s some hope.

Congratulations to Ferru though on a rare big scalp. That loss in Barcelona had to be agonising, but he did what he does and kept on keeping on. If there’s a greater argument for what heart, determination and stamina can achieve in the modern game than David Ferrer, I don’t want to know about.

Well, perhaps I do, but only so that I can be suitably impressed.

Posted in andy murray, david ferrer, rome | Tagged: , | 14 Comments »

Put In a Word for Delpo’s Wrist, Won’t You?

Posted by gauloises1 on April 29, 2010

So, you’re in Rome. And you’ve already lost. As a result, you’ve got a bit of time on your hands. What do you do? What any red-blooded young man worth his salt would do. You go to see this guy.

Andreas Seppi, Jeremy Chardy and Leander Paes popped along to visit with God for a bit, not having anything more pressing to do.

They even took their girlfriends along. Because nothing’s more romantic than an audience with Benedict XVI.

Posted in andreas seppi, jeremy chardy, leander paes, rome | Tagged: , , | 11 Comments »

Rome: Wednesday’s Results, Thursday’s OOP

Posted by gauloises1 on April 29, 2010

Routine day in Rome today. Even the upsets were a bit predictable. As Drew Lilley called it, Lopez and Wawrinka both scored victories in three sets over Marin Cilic and Tomas Berdych respectively.

It happens.

Lopez’s quarter of the draw is now missing the top two seeds; Wawrinka isn’t so lucky, because he’s uncomfortably adjacent to Robin Soderling, a straight sets victor today, and this guy. Ditto.

Elsewhere Nose Job had an excellent win over fourteenth seed John Isner, and Filippo Volandri continues his quest to prove he’s relevant in the world by beating Benneteau to make the third round.


Singles – Second Round
[3] R Nadal (ESP) d P Kohlschreiber (GER) 61 63
[5] R Soderling (SWE) d [WC] P Lorenzi (ITA) 61 75
[6] F Verdasco (ESP) d [WC] S Bolelli (ITA) 76(11) 63
[7] J Tsonga (FRA) d V Troicki (SRB) 62 63
F Lopez (ESP) d [8] M Cilic (CRO) 26 76(2) 64
S Wawrinka (SUI) d [10] T Berdych (CZE) 26 63 76(6)
[11] I Ljubicic (CRO) d N Almagro (ESP) 75 76(3)
[13] D Ferrer (ESP) d [WC] P Starace (ITA) 75 62
T Bellucci (BRA) d [14] J Isner (USA) 76(7) 75
[WC] F Volandri (ITA) d J Benneteau (FRA) 62 60
G Garcia-Lopez (ESP) d L Hewitt (AUS) 62 63
[Q] S Giraldo (COL) d [Q] M Llodra (FRA) 63 62

Doubles – Second Round
P Cuevas (URU) / J Monaco (ARG) d [1] D Nestor (CAN) / N Zimonjic (SRB) 62 76(4)
[2] B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) d F Cermak (CZE) / M Mertinak (SVK) 64 61
[WC] Y Allegro (SUI) / R Federer (SUI) d [6] S Aspelin (SWE) / P Hanley (AUS) 46 63 10-8

Thursday’s OOP is brought to you by the only thing that’s even coming close to cheering me up right now.


Posted in david ferrer, feliciano lopez, rafael nadal, rome | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »