Or in the words of Roger Federer, “Thank God the hard court season is over.”
I jest, of course! I love this part of the tennis season – the grueling back-to-back combined Masters/Premier level events in Indian Wells and Miami. It’s just a little jarring to have these Slam-like hardcourt tournaments scheduled after the first hardcourt Major of the year – only for the whole operation to shut down and move over to European clay. But who am I to question the wisdom of the tennis scheduling Gods?
Anyway, here’s a crap-a-roni casserole (sound good, Mardy?) of all the lingering news, triumphs and annoyances from Miami and the past month.
The state of the WTA and the Williams Tennis Association
I thought this article from Dave Hyde of the Sun-Sentinel covered all the bases (click here for the full piece):
The champion inside Serena Williams came out Saturday an hour before the finals, in the privacy of the locker room, where she once again tried to save the women’s side of the Sony Ericsson Open.
Her left ankle was sprained. Her left thigh needed wrapping. There were 12,854 fans coming, a national television audience waiting and no one had to tell her why. Williams has been around long enough to know she was the draw.
Her father, though, saw how she couldn’t move and said what fathers say.
“You shouldn’t go out there,” Richard Williams said.
“I have to try,” Serena said…
…How fitting that even the last, lone hope to find some magic in the women’s game at this tournament came down to a hurt and hobbled name who played like a trouper more than the best player in the world.
Yikes. Are you ready to be the face of the WTA, Victoria Azarenka? Could be a pretty tough gig. . .
(P.S. Don’t feel too bad for Serena – she seemed to enjoy her time in Miami, even letting it all hang out on the beach. I assume you’ve seen the photos. . .click here)
And let’s not forget the ATP
1. Nadal and Murray were the big winners at IW and Miami, and are the only two guys I have complete confidence in right now.
2. Roddick is at deuce. He can be proud of his effort against Federer in the quarterfinals – but given the way Roger folded in the next round, Andy’s got to feel like basing his head against the wall. Or destroying another bag full of racquets (from The Guardian):
After a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 defeat (to Federer), Roddick had a fit of rage in the tunnel leading out of the stadium, emptied the contents of his bag on the floor and smashed what looked like every single racket one after the other upon the concrete.
3. Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are suffering from the same confidence-sapping virus. They should get over their personal resentments and go halvies on some therapy sessions. (Yes, I know Novak made it to the final this week, but I maintain he got lucky against Tsonga and Federer, only to have his mental and physical weaknesses fully exposed in the final against Andy Murray. . .something’s not quite right with Nole.)
4. Speaking of Tsonga, he disappointed in IW and Miami. Maybe he peaked too early, winning those events in South Africa and Marseille right after the Aussie Open. It will be interesting to see if he can find success on the clay – is this talented hardcourt player France’s best chance at Roland Garros?
5. Juan Martin del Potro had one hell of a quarterfinal, taking out Rafael Nadal in three sets. I think it was the best match of the tournament (click here for highlights.) And he backed it up with a good effort against Murray. After getting double bageled by Federer in Australia, I didn’t think he had it in him. We’ll see how the Argentine transfers this success onto clay, where some give him a chance-in-hell of beating Rafa.
6. Honorable mentions to Stan Wawrinka for putting on a good show against Nadal in the round of 16 and to Taylor Dent for proving that old-school S&V isn’t completely a thing of the past.
Tennis on T.V.
Neil Harman of the London Times in the overstatement of the year:
The evidence is gathering pace that everyone else is slowing down. Professional tennis is being held up to ridicule – and people all over the world are reaching for the remote controls to turn over and watch something else – because of the hold-ups, the prevarications, the time-wasting, couch it in whatever term you like. It is tantamount to cheating. Of all the many dilemmas which beset the sport, something must be done to punish those who are holding tennis up and therefore holding it in contempt.
If you don’t catch his drift, Harman’s pissed about all the injury time outs, ball bouncing and toweling off. First of all, the guy’s obviously never seen American football – talk about needless and excessive time wasting! Yet the NFL is doing just fine. And us American tennis fans should be so lucky to exercise the power of the remote. In NYC, Fox Sports Network cut off the Nadal/Del Potro match during the third set tiebreak – for hockey. So I, for one, don’t feel sorry for Neil Harman and all the other people who don’t appreciate how lucky they are to have Eurosport. (Click here)
for Harman’s full article.
I realize that this wrap-up is kind of a downer. I didn’t mean it to be this way. I had a blast in Indian Wells, watching Nadal practice, ogoling hunky guys, and getting this close to Roger Federer. Both IW and Miami featured some thrilling matches and great storylines, even if the finals were lackluster (or windblown). I’m not even too worried about Fed – he just needs to work some sh*t out. And if Maria Sharapova makes it back by Rome and at least one Serb and one Russian get their acts together, we should have a WTA tour again. So moving on. . .
There are twelve (!) WTA tournaments leading up to Roland Garros, which beings on May 24. This includes five (!) Premier-level events: Charleston’s Family Circle Cup (April 13 ), Stuttgart (April 27), Rome (May 3), the combined event in Madrid (May 18) and the Warsaw Open (May 18).
The ATP has eleven tournaments before the French, including three Masters 1000 events in beautiful Monte Carlo (April 12), Rome (April 27) and Madrid (May 10).
Talk about continuous play! Are you ready tennis fans, or do you need to call the trainer?