Today we have two finals featuring four of the most exciting “young guns” on both the WTA and ATP tours: Murray vs. Djokovic and Safina vs. Cibulkova. Before I enjoy these two finals, I thought I’d jot down some mid-U.S. Open series observations.
Oh boy, ESPN pissed me off last night. They basically did a TIVO fast forward job on the excellent Safina vs. Azarenka semifinal match at Rogers cup – at first I thought it must be the measly two beers I had with dinner, but then I finally figured out the real reason that entire segments of the match had gone by without me noticing. Dumb X-Games.
On the whole, I’d rate this week’s coverage a solid “so-so.” I pushed the DVR to the limit, but still couldn’t find the matches I wanted to see, like Safina vs. Sveta and Djokovic vs. Gulbis. The mix of taped coverage and live was confusing, as was the alternating focus from the men’s to the women’s tournaments. But I admit that besides tonight’s debacle, I’m being a little nit picky. The U.S. Open Series has provided hours of televised tennis with finals on every weekend as promised in the ad campaign. Is there such a thing as too much tennis – almost!
THE U.S. OPEN SERIES
I don’t care about the top players dodging some of the tournaments – I love the U.S. Open Series. It spotlights some of the most deserving rank and file players – the Pennettas and Simons of the world – and reveals which of the top players are healthy and confident enough to contend for the final Slam. Just look at how differently things have turned out for Dinara and Maria, for example. And Murray’s big win over the Djoker in Toronto last week was one of the last big hurdles this perpetual up-and-comer had to clear before busting his way into the much hyped “trivalry.” Too bad he won’t have another chance at Nadal today, since he’s yet to score a win against the Spainiard.
I’ve become a big Safina fan this season, and these two weeks have just cemented her place in my personal tennis pantheon. She’s my favorite power player to watch right now – her ground strokes are awesome and her budding mental tenacity makes every match she plays riveting. And I don’t mean to diminish her skills when I say that one of my favorite things about her is that she doesn’t GRUNT! It’s a miracle to witness pure power without the oral onslaught, and I think it plays to her favor to be a silent, steely presence on the court. I’m looking forward to her clashing with Serena at either the Olympics or the U.S. Open.
WHO’S NO. ONE?
Jelena and Nadal. I can’t think of two more different scenarios: Jelena’s done it without ever making it into a Major final and Nadal’s already won five.* But the numbers don’t lie, and they can both say that they deserve the honor.
Nadal: I am so happy for Rafa, regardless of how I feel about Rog. The more I watch him, both on and off the court, the more I’m inspired by his tenacity and humble demeanor. Yesterday’s loss to Novak was inevitable – Nole’s too good and hungry a player to not take advantage of Rafa’s mental and physical weariness. Yet Rafa still had a chance in the second set, which must have scared the sh*t out of Djoky. But even someone as strong and focused as Nadal will get tired after winning 7 of the last 8 tournaments he’s played, especially when this impressive total includes the French and Wimbledon. If I were a more economical writer, I’d erase everything I just typed about Rafa and replace it with one word: WOW!
Jelena: The computer determines the rankings for a reason, and Jelena’s consistency throughout the season has won her this No. 1 ranking honestly, even if we can argue that Ana, Serena or Dinara “deserve” it equally or more. I’m looking forward to seeing how J.J. will handle her lofty position. I’m hoping she starts playing like she has something to prove – and then proves it.
*thanks, Anonymous for the correction!
It’s tough times for our guy. For Roger, it’s all about the Olympic gold right now. Whether he attains this goal or not will tell us all we need to know about the state of his game and his heart post-Wimby and for the rest of the season.
Speaking of Roger, it occurred to me while watching Chris Fowler’s pre semi-final interview with Nadal yesterday (sorry, can’t find it on youtube), that Rafa himself is a Fedophile. When asked how he felt about Roger losing the No. 1, Rafa said that Roger is a “perfect” player and that he will “always be the best.” Rafa’s said this kind of stuff so much that I’m starting to believe that he really means it. When it comes to the GOAT issue, Rafa’s an “Unconditional” all the way.
As part of the new “Roadmap 2010” the Roger’s Cup will become a “virtual” combined event in 2011, with the men and women playing at the same time in Canada, but in different cities (Toronto and Montreal.) Great idea. But reports say that the prize money will not match up – with the men most likely continuing to earn $1 million more in total prize money for the tournament than the women (in 2009 the men will win a total of $3 million, while the women will take home $2 million total.) The justification is that only 7 of the top 10 women are required to play the tournament, while entrance is mandatory for all the top 10 men. Excuses, excuses. Both tournaments are best of 3 sets, both will inevitably have some pull outs and retirements, and both will have some great matches, so cough up the equal prize money and stop justifying this symbolic discrimination. Click here for more.
That’s all I got for now – I’m picking Murray and Safina to win today. What do you think?