Friday, November 30, 2007

The moment I've been waiting for

The highlight of my tennis season is nearly upon us:

The Davis Cup final kicks off today in mere hours! The U.S. versus Russia in Portland, winner takes all! I wish I would've made a post before this one so I could look like a genius, but I knew Russia was gonna leave Nikolay Davydenko out of the singles lineup, seeing as how he's barely won sets against James Blake and Andy Roddick. I think Davydenko's the favorite whipping boy among the top 10 for both of those guys.

Being from the U.S. and all, of course I'm root, root, rooting for the home country, but if Russia were to come through, I wouldn't be too upset because it would be a hell of a feat the team would accomplish. I say all this because I'm a little nervous: Dmitry Tursonov and Mikhail Youzhny have been on Cup-winning teams and I don't think the situation will affect them too much, playing on the road against a vocal crowd. Plus, they're both pretty good fast-court players.

The way the first day's draw shakes up is interesting and I'm saying this right now: I think it'll come down to a split. I like Roddick blasting Tursonov off the court first up. He should come out trying to serve big and hit big forehands (as he's apt to do. Duh, Van!) But few guys on tour hit as hard as Tursonov, so he'll have to be careful.

I think Youzhny can take Blake in four: And it's not that Mikhail is better than James. Far from it, in fact. But I just question Blake's mental fortitude, and he's never played in anything this big in his career to really test it. I hope James spent the past few weeks talking to a sports psychologist to get ready for this tie. I would like for him to come through, but I just can't see it.

I'll be following the live scoring all day from work on the computer and post something later on.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

They are the champions, my friends

I figured I'd comment on both of the season-ending championships in one fell swoop; you know, a consolidating my motions type thing.

First, since it was so long ago: The women in Madrid and the finalists, Maria Sharapova and Justine Henin. It was a tough one, but Henin capped off the year with another victory. I was a little more impressed with Maria making it to the finals, though, after hardly playing over the past few months. But Henin did deserve it. I mentioned this in an earlier post around Wimbledon, how I'm a big fan of historical sports accomplishments. I'll be rooting hard for Justine to come through at the Big W next year to cap off a career Slam. She deserves it.

On the men's side last weekend in Shanghai, how about that R-Fed? This was an odd year to me for him, seeing as he lost, what, a whole nine matches? But he concluded the season with another big title over surprise finalist David Ferrer (see previous post). Until the end of his career, I'm gonna be rooting for him to win the French, to wrap up that career Slam of his own.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The best-laid plans...

I just woke up, hopped in the shower and started thinking right away of a game plan for Andy Roddick to beat Roger Federer in the Masters Cup final, since I figure I should be coaching Roddick. (I'm not a fan of the Connors-John Roddick team AT ALL.) I figured first thing he needs to get out of his head is this "addition" he's made to his game: using his weak one-handed slice to get into the net. R-Fed eats that up.

Then, when he's serving, Andy should throw in a ton of kickers and sliders on both sides the majority of the time, then throw in some 140 bangers every now and then. He needs to be more Greg Maddux out there instead of Roger Clemens (a little baseball reference there for ya). Get Roger thinking instead of sitting on fastballs.

On his return game, when he gets the ball in play, don't think going for winners so much: Try to construct a point. If you have one of the top 10 biggest forehands in history, that should be able to be pulled off as to where you could at least start having more positive results in your head-to-head meetings with the guy.

However, all this is moot now as I logged on to atptennis.com and saw Andy got DUSTED by David Ferrer.

I guess I shouldn't have been looking ahead.

Friday, November 9, 2007

From the mouths of poisoned tennis players

The madness continues!

Aside from another player saying he was offered money to tank a match (Jan Hernych) and Nikolay Davydenko's family being questioned, plus the probe of Allesio di Mauro for betting on other matches, there's allegations Tommy Haas was poisoned!!! That's the craziest thing I've heard of. Hopefully it's just that: allegations.

But before that news hit, Haas said probably the most important statement made yet in regard to these gambling charges sweeping through the game: All these players coming out saying they were offered money should name names! Are families being threatened and that's why they're not saying anything? If that's what the players are thinking, then that doesn't make sense, because if you're out there saying you were offered money then whoever is offering the money would come after you anyway because they're afraid you would rat them out. At least that's how they'd do it on "The Sopranos"!

That's the tack the ATP should be pursuing: Get these players (particularly Arnaud Clement, whose comments infuriated me) to name names!

Read the second paragraph here to see what Clement said:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/tennis/7068456.stm

Maybe Tommy Haas should be the ATP commissioner. He's the only one offering any kind of solution to what's going on.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

What a crazy day!

If memory serves me correctly, this has been the craziest day ever in pro tennis (at least in my 20 years following it.)

To recap:

• The Hingis retirement and drug scandal: Whoa! Where did all this come from? I mean, I figured her body was giving out on her and she wasn't much longer for the game, but to throw in some positive drug test news in your speech? Whoa (again!) I'm really willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, particularly after she laid out everything that happened. I think she's safe from any major controversy dogging her into retirement--or at least I hope.

• Speaking of controversy: Nikolay Davydenko should make that his middle name. At this point, I don't know what to think. Maybe a little Elena Dementieva-Anna Kournikova action is snaking its way into his service motion. I'm still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, too, because I don't think anyone could be so blatant as to tank matches like the way he's been losing them. I wonder if the umpires have a target on him. I think the best thing for him to do, if he's innocent, is to skip Shanghai, sit down with the ATP and say, "Hey, whatever you want to know, I'll tell you."

• And down goes Roger: David Nalbandian took out R-Fed again! Is it a return to the old days in the rivalry? It looks like there are two guys that are in Roger's head again. I've seen matches Roger's lost to these baseliners like Nalbandian, Canas and Nadal, and I can see him losing to Nadal because that kid's a monster, but the other two, I just don't get. Federer's still the baddest man on the planet, but I think after watching how this year went, the next couple can get kind of dicey. That's just my guess.

• A slammed door on Shanghai: Not as big as the other three, but a few guys got eliminated from going to Shanghai: James Blake, Tommy Haas and Tomas Berdych, three in my opinion, who definitely did not deserve to go the way they haven't stepped up. I think Andy Murray will get that final spot, but it seems like Tommy Robredo's been playing OK, so who knows?

What a day indeed!