Interesting women’s matches today in New Haven. The way ESPN’s broadcasting, the casual fan would be surprised to learn that there are men playing, too. Great to see Lindsay back in the game and hitting with authority. Interesting how she put Amelie back in her place. Made me start thinking about that backhanded “last woman standing” compliment Hingis paid the Frenchwoman recently. Yeah, it was bitchy, but tonight’s match illustrated how Amelie’s game really is neutered by big hitters like Davenport and the Sisters. No matter, it’s just fun to see an almost full cast of top players back in action on the women’s side – love the contrasting styles and quality competition. Speaking of competition, I thoroughly enjoyed the hard-fought Dementieva/Kuznetsova match, even though my fave Elena lost it in three. They were both hitting the ball cleanly, creating exciting angles, and with Elena, there’s always the suspense of if she’ll hold serve. I just love Elena! And here are my top ten reasons why:
1. Of course she’s a pro, but her serve gives the rest of us hope for our own games.
2. The groundstrokes!
3. Iron-woman physique. I’ll pass on her serve, but I’d trade bodies with her in a heartbeat!
4. She doesn’t give up, no matter if she’s down 0-5 in the third. There’s always a chance that she’ll go on a hotstreak, freak out the other player by actually holding her serve, and use her amazing return game to come back in the match. That’s why she’s so fun to watch. Never say die, Elena!
5. The best hair in tennis (after Roger, of course!) She used to work the classic long, blonde braid (not annoyingly Barbie perfect like Anna’s) but I’m especially coveting the new disheveled half braid/half ponytail thing that she tucks under the strap of her visor. If only I were blessed with her long Russian-blonde locks instead of my clump of frizzy fuzz!
6. She usually wears some crazy color like hot pink or traffic cone orange. Love the Op Art geometric print and asymmetrical straps on her new Yonex number. Part summer camp, part funky art teacher, part white-hot tennis babe!
7. Speaking of dress, she unapologetically takes a changing-outfit break between the second and third sets. Why not? The guys can change shirts anytime they want to. (Wonder if the WTA is getting desperate enough to ditch the oncourt coaching fiasco in favor of mandatory “change” overs – that would increase the television audience – yeech!)
8. She whoops, she cries “NIET!” and she squeals when she wins. She also throws her sidelined coach/mother the occasional “MOM!” annoyed look that every daughter knows so well. She’ll smile when she gets a lucky shot or hits a ball three feet wide. It’s refreshingly normal and unapologetically girly, unlike the robotic intensity displayed by the game’s other glamazons.
9. No matter the chatter from experts, she’ll never fire her mom.
10. She prefers living in Moscow to the bland sunshine of Bradenton or Monte Carlo.
Go Elena! Hope to see you in the US Open final.