Another weekend, another series of finals on the terre battue. Anyone else getting nostalgic for the blue clay of Madrid? You know, just to break up the sea of orange a little bit. . .
Maria Sharapova may be Porsche’s new brand ambassador, but when I think of her lately, I think Ford F-series – as in hauling major ass. She may have the supermodel build, but there’s no mistake, she’s a workhorse. This monster truck mentality describes 1. why she still plays even though she’s filthy rich (thanks, luxury brands!) 2. how she persevered after shoulder surgery and 3. why she’s determined to win on clay – heck, like any truck worth its mudflaps, getting dirty is her thing. And boy did she get dirty this week, playing three three-setters in a row versus threatening opponents Safarova, Ivanovic (yay, Ana!) and Kerber, to earn the privilege of defending her title vs. another former French Open champ, Li Na. I thought this was going to be another tussle in the dirt, but Maria saved her best for last, beating her opponent in a clean 6-4, 6-3 scoreline.
“I thought it’d be the toughest match of the tournament, but I played my best tennis today,” Sharapova said (via ESPN). “I was able to step it up.”
I always enjoy Stuttgart, don’t you? It brings out the best in the players for some reason, maybe the intimate setting and full stands inspire the players, and I’m sure that Porsche doesn’t hurt – and this week was no exception. So good on Maria for pulling through. The question still persists, however: But can she beat Serena?
It’s always a good weekend when Francesca Schiavone wins a tournament. The former French Open champ (I see a trend developing, here) took out Lourdes Domínguez Lino 6-1, 6-3 in the finals of Marrakech. Sure, it was her first one in quite a while – last May in Strasbourg, to be exact – and she’s barely made it out of the first round in most of the tournaments she’s played in this year (ouch!) but we can always count on Franny to look on the bright side, especially when it comes to the red stuff. Via the WTA:
Schiavone was asked whether she’s getting back to her former greatness – greatness that once saw her ranked as high as No.4 in the world. “Yeah, why not?” she said. “I’ve been working really hard and am coming back from some difficult times, so why not!
“I’m just enjoying playing for these crowds and giving the fans the best that I can give.”
On the men’s side of things, well, this is a weird look:
Yes, Lukas Rosol, famous for his ice-in-the-veins victory over Rafael Nadal last year at Wimbledon, won the first ATP title of his career on the clay, no less, beating Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the final of the BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy in Bucharest. He dedicated the win to his father, who passed away only 10 days ago.
“I felt somebody was helping me from up top.” Rosol said afterwards. (via ATP) “It’s not just about me. My family has always supported me and my tennis. I felt match after match, my dream was coming true.”
It’s somewhat less surprising that Rafael Nadal won his record eighth straight title at Barcelona on Sunday, taking out perpetual bridesmaid Nicolas Almagro 6-4, 6-3. “I’m used to losing to Rafa,” Almagro said afterwards.
It’s nice seeing Roger Federer just hanging out and enjoying himself – in this case, catching a soccer match (FC Basel vs. Chelsea) with his buddy Marco Chiudinelli:
Yikes, just try not to injure yourself, Rog!
This week the men play in Munich (Haas, Kohlschreiber) and the men and ladies both play in Portugal (Wawrinka, Ferrer, Cibulkova, Bartoli)
A couple other things – I hope you like our new look here at GTT. Fritters felt the need to change things up. Please be patient while we work out some kinks. Also, I’m interested in checking out the new tennis magazine, Tennis Journal – have any of you been reading it?