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Old 01-26-2009, 06:39 PM   #31
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Personally I disagree...the female top seeds I think I really letting the WTA down, they aren't showing why they are the top seeds with some really poor performances, especially Jankovic.

I think Peter Bodo makes some sense in this regards from Tennis.com
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Mornin', everyone. I've had a pretty tough week all around, and later this afternoon I have to skip out and get down to Washington D.C. for a thoroughly unexpected memorial service for my great, late friend, Jim Range. I don't want to take up too much of your time with this, with the tennis commencing soon, but Jim's mission in life was to bring together all stakeholders to help protect our wildlife and natural resources in a sensible way. Consensus and negotiation are coin of the realm in a true Democracy, and Jim worked tirelessly (mostly through the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership) to bring together everyone who, in his or her own way, cared about our outdoor heritage, wild places, and wildlife.

Vera Now, back to the tennis. Serena Williams dodged a bullet last night, thereby pulled the rug out from under what might have been an extraordinary if fundamentally strange story - the utter (and, one hopes, temporary) collapse of the WTA pecking order. Think about this: when was the last time that both the no. 1 and no. 2 women's seeds in a Grand Slam event failed to make the quarterfinals? Thankfully, we don't have that story to write, because Victoria Azarenka was unable to complete the upset she embarked upon. No disrespect toward Serena, but she and Jelena Jankovic, the ousted no. 1 seed, have played singularly uninspired tennis in the year's first Grand Slam.

If Serena finds her game and goes on to win the tournament - and who's crazy enough to discount the possibility? - in a few months time the events that have transpired so far in Melbourne will seem less noteworthy. But that's a big "if", and it hardly changes the on-the-ground truth, which is that the top women simply have not come to play in Melbourne. Last week, I suggested that the searing heat may have had an inhibiting influence on the women, psychologically as well as physically. That may be true, but it isn't like respites from the intense heat (in the form of better weather or more favorable match scheduling) have enabled the top women to overcome their reluctance to fling themselves into the fray. This is a tournament that, despite the charming and even moving narratives churned out by Jelena Dokic, Mario Bartoli and Carla Suarez Navarro, has gone terribly wrong.

Hey, if the top players are going to step back instead of up, somebody's going to write the script. And, as I wrote the other day, the two most likely somebodies to benefit from this will be Dinara Safina and Elena Dementieva. In a weird way, that would be a face-saving tribute to the women's game, because only a nincompoop would suggest that either of those women is somehow undeserving of a major title, or a place in the Australian Open final - even with all their rivals running on all cylinders. It's just that nobody could have predicted that they would arrive there (if indeed that's their destination) via wins over, oh, Dokic and Suarez Navarro. Where have the usual suspects gone?

At another level, this analysis is impertinent - I'll be the first to admit that. After all, why should the Australian Open be considered less of a tournament because the usual suspects failed to fulfill the predictions of the pundits, or live up to their seedings and rankings? Isn't it a more exciting tournament when the form chart collapses? Yes and no. Sure, it's exciting to see new faces, or even familiar faces, break through to territories they've seldom visited. But tennis is a hierarchy-based sport that relies heavily on context, which is the established order represented by the seedings and rankings. Once they lose significance, or are shown to be mere formalities, our regard for the results tends to diminish and we wonder: Good for so-and-so, but what does it all mean?

Let's say Suarez Navarro beats Vera Zvonareva in the final. It would truly be a shocker - in fact, it would probably generate far more headlines and hype than a win by Dementieva over Safina. But it's safe to say that neither Saurez Navarro (nor Zvonareva, in the event she wins the tournament) is going to be hailed as the second coming of Justine Henin, and equally unlikely that either of them (although Zvonareva has a much better chance in this regard) is going to be a major, consistent force in the women's game. In other words, if the WTA heirarcy continues to collapse, you're going to end up with what you had on the ATP side in 2002. Go ahead, name the 2002 champ.

Bartoli Okay, it was Thomas Johansson. And while I wouldn't want to deny TJ his moment of glory, or discredit his performance, the nature of tennis is such that his win in Melbourne is neither memorialized nor emblazoned in anyone's memory. It was one of those things that happens, once in a while, to remind us that when you throw 128 competitors together over a two week period, almost anything can happen - although usually it doesn't. Usually, the heirarchy (or form) that puts great upsets and battles into a context prevails. In other words, we like to say that anything can happen on a given day in tennis, but when too many anythings happen, on too many given days, we're tempted to wonder what all - or any - of it really means.

Some people reflexively are anti-favorite. I had an epiphany of sorts when I was chatting about this subject with Chris Evert one day long ago, and she told me that she always roots for favorites. Her rationale? Having been a favorite for so long, she knew better than anyone just how much pressure the choice role entailed, and how tough it is to keep justifying your status. But more important, without favorites there are no underdogs. You want a good story for the Australian? It isn't Bartoli over Suarez Navarro - it's Bartoli over. . . Serena Williams.

So what's largely happened these past eight days is that some of the women entrusted with maintaining a context for the game have gone AWOL. They've basically said, To hail with this, we don't need this kind of pressure. Curiously, the ATP men were in a similar situation on the eve of the tournament, with most of the interest settled on the Big Four: Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray (as opposed to Jelena Jankovic, Serena Williams, Ana Ivanovic and, potentially, Maria Sharapova). And just like the women have Safina and Dementieva, the men have Andy Roddick and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (with Gilles Simon once again trying to insert himself in the conversation), drumming their fingers just offstage.

But the men have maintained a context - the matches that have been surprising have been so in a good way. We may still see someone from outside the Big Four take the men's event, but it won't be because the top men have clearly underperformed, suffered inexplicable losses, or failed to live up to their rankings. If a Tsonga, Roddick or even Simon wins the men's event, it will be considered a great feat accomplished under the most demanding of conditions and therefore immune to complaints, or damnation by faint praise: They say anything can happen - and it just did!

But you know what they say: every disaster is also an opportunity - let's see what the women can make of theirs.
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Old 01-26-2009, 07:39 PM   #32
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So glad Murray is out, he's a pest.

Shattered that Cornet and Azarenka couldn't sustain their brilliance to defeat Safina and Serena respectively, would've been awesome, though Bartoli's win was pretty awesome.

Hopefully Federer can get over the hiccup against Berdych and ultimately win the whole thing.
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Old 01-26-2009, 07:43 PM   #33
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Nadal and Safina to win the respective competitions.
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Old 01-26-2009, 08:40 PM   #34
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^^ A tournament "gone terribly wrong"? With five of the top eight women's seeds still there at the QF's? I think he's really whining because the big personality/drawcard girls (including Sharapova) aren't there. Also he's apparently getting paid by the word.

Big heatwave forecast for today 'til Saturday..
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Old 01-26-2009, 08:55 PM   #35
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I don't agree with everything he says but I worry for the women's game when the top seed hasn't won a slam. Fair play to Navarro for her performance, but she isn't as good as Venus...and isn't likely to be good as Venus. Azarenka I like though...but Serena doesn't look like she has been trying at all and not in a good way. Safina I love just because she always looks like she cares about the game...some of the others I have my doubts over.
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Old 01-27-2009, 02:03 AM   #36
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I still find tennis a boring game, but I am enjoying this Open. Dokic, Tsonga, Verdasco...

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Not in years and don't follow it these days but I still remember that brainless chant at the grounds. Like a broken record... I'm not saying that we could match the Brits (for example) in the clever chants dept but the old "Aussie Aussie Aussie etc" does get a bit tired after a few zillion rounds, don't you think?
I completely agree, but you get lost in it, at the cricket at least.
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Old 01-27-2009, 05:35 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by LJT View Post
I don't agree with everything he says but I worry for the women's game when the top seed hasn't won a slam. Fair play to Navarro for her performance, but she isn't as good as Venus...and isn't likely to be good as Venus. Azarenka I like though...but Serena doesn't look like she has been trying at all and not in a good way. Safina I love just because she always looks like she cares about the game...some of the others I have my doubts over.
I believe she will be in the top 10 by the end of this year, so glad my country has such a great player like her.

Meanwhile, I hope Dokic loses, HATE HER, HATE HER, HATE HER.
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Old 01-27-2009, 06:04 AM   #38
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I thought you were Australia vlad?

And why do you hate Dokic so? I wasn't fond before this tournament but I was willing her on, what a great story, so sad it just ended
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Old 01-27-2009, 06:14 AM   #39
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Anyway, i'm Russian, well Belarussian, I want Safina to win.

CH7 keep on playing this small video of her through each bloody round. I don't want to wake up to news with all the reporters etc. saying "oh can Dokic win the Open" and all that annoying crap.

Nothing personal against her, its just the media. That's why I also hate Hewitt.

Actually change the focus from her to the media.
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Old 01-27-2009, 11:33 AM   #40
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Go Nadal or Roddick(Nadal is far more likely, imo)!
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Old 01-27-2009, 12:25 PM   #41
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Del Potro did not turn up but Fed did...great display, especially the wee heading of the ball bit, twas cool.
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Old 01-27-2009, 05:55 PM   #42
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Originally Posted by Vlad n U 2 View Post
Anyway, i'm Russian, well Belarussian, I want Safina to win.

CH7 keep on playing this small video of her through each bloody round. I don't want to wake up to news with all the reporters etc. saying "oh can Dokic win the Open" and all that annoying crap.

Nothing personal against her, its just the media. That's why I also hate Hewitt.

Actually change the focus from her to the media.
+1

Sick of Dokic sentimentalism, and that same feral 7 network want to dramatise the situation even further by flying Damir out here to stir things up even more and create more stories.....even though Jelena wants nothing to do with him. If I were Jelena, I'd speak out against 7, and tell them to fuck off with their pathetic tabloid journalism.......shit network.

Was at the open last week, the Serbian fans were being pestered with cameras (before any incident), and the Serbians rightfully told those pushy 7 employees to fuck off, they dont wanna be filmed and used in their bullshit video montages...

Hewitt is a hack, spoiled little brat, wanted tournament organisers to change the surface to suit him, so they did, and he's still useless.

Australia needs more humble and admirable players like Molik...

Anyway, Federer is super, hope he wins the whole thing, and am hoping Dementieva or Navarro can win the women's.
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Old 01-27-2009, 06:17 PM   #43
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Champion effort, Jelena.

I like Safina and am keen to back her from here but then I think the only reason that match went to three sets was because both girls were so erratic. Watching that match was like when Homer has to front up to Mr Burns and alternates between terror and relief until his heart finally packs it in. So on the one hand I'd like to support Safina but on the other she seems kind of fragile, and I don't know that my heart is up to it..

I agree that the Aus media is going way over the top with Dokic but then they always do. They've been playing that 'Great Aussie Sporting Hero' tune since forever, and the patriotism is so one-eyed it's embarrassing. Yeah, very annoying but don't blame the players!

Would've loved to have caught more of the men's games in the evenings but ironically it's been more suited to a different time zone than eastern Aus.
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Old 01-27-2009, 06:30 PM   #44
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Sick of Dokic sentimentalism, and that same feral 7 network want to dramatise the situation even further by flying Damir out here to stir things up even more and create more stories.....even though Jelena wants nothing to do with him. If I were Jelena, I'd speak out against 7, and tell them to fuck off with their pathetic tabloid journalism.......shit network.
Whoa really, they were going to do that? I reckon they would be underestimating the backlash, not just from Jelena.. I guess that would've been a special edition of 'Families Reunited' or whatever their show is. Or alternatively, 'Missing Persons'.
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Old 01-27-2009, 10:07 PM   #45
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Is Dokic hot? I can't tell, I might have to do some more research.

Also, Roddick with the T.K.O. of Djokovic. Beautiful. Is this Andy's best shot at a Slam since he took down the U.S. Open in '03? Someone needs to tell me when the Roddick/Federer match is 'cause I'm tryin to watch that shit LIVE. Holla.
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