View Full Version : The Best & The Worst Of FO & Wimbledon

Cybelle Darkholme
Jul 17th, 2002, 04:01 AM
From Winners to Whiners
Our Experts Cast Their Vote for Top Moments at Wimbledon

Outsports readers Bridgeport Jake and BoSox Rudy join The B Man, our regular correspondent, in recognizing some of the best and worst of Wimbledon 2002

Best Performance

The B Man – Sjeng Schalken and Jonas Bjorkman may not look like major threats on paper, but heading into Wimbledon, they had each won grass events, making them dangerous opponents. Hewitt beat both men, Schalken in dramatic fashion, and then went on to dispatch Tim Henman, crowd and fan favorite, in the semis. I don’t particularly like Lleyton, but I now respect his focus and determination.

BoSox Rudy-- Serena Williams beat quality opponents like Hantuchova and Mauresmo with ease, and even managed to get the better of the former Wimbledon queen, big sis', all without losing a set. She was far and away the best player in the women's draw, and is now the best player on the women's tour.

Bridgeport Jake -- Gotta go with Serena Williams. I know it's not fair to include doubles play in considering "Best Performance," but the way she dominated the court mirrored how she did the same in singles. The Els Callens match made me think that somewhere there was a player who could take advantage of her shaky footwork on grass and trick her into losing. Hell, I think Hingis might have had a shot against her this year. Anyway, it's the doubles performance that gives her the edge, to me, over Hewitt.

Biggest Disappointment

The B Man – Justine Henin and Amelie Mauresmo were all sour grapes after their respective semifinal losses to Venus and Serena; the two likable players marred their images a bit by speaking so discourteously. American men’s tennis flopped at Wimbledon, with no players advancing past the third round.

BoSox Rudy-- On the women's side, I'll go with Amelie Mauresmo. After playing brilliant tennis against Capriati, seeming to make great strides in her mental game, she collapsed against Serena. But what really makes Amelie the biggest disappointment of the women's side is her ungracious comment about public boredom with the Williams Sisters' domination. On the men's side, the most disappointing performance had to come from Pete Sampras. True, Agassi lost in the 2nd round as well, but grass has never been Andre's surface, whereas Pete won more than half his Slams on the stuff. While Srichapan is no world-beater, he's a strong player who played a tremendous match against Agassi. I'm still trying to figure out who the heck George Bastl is.

Bridgeport Jake -- I picked Anastasia Myskina to make it to the quarters here - instead, she lost in the third round to surprising Amelie Mauresmo. After great results at the grass warmups, I thought this might be her coming-out party. Eh. Biggest Disappointment, male: America. The bottom half of the draw was choking with Americans ... and I use that term quite intentionally. I picked four American quarterfinalists from that half. Instead, we had two who lost in the third round. Sad.

Breakthrough Performance
The B Man - In her first outing at Wimbledon, Laura Granville, a standout star at Stanford, upset Mary Pierce to reach the 4th round. Though Xavier Malisse did lose in the semi's to David Nalbandian, Malisse did string together a more impressive run of wins to get there; the victories over Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Greg Rusedski, and former Wimbly champ Richard Krajicek will give Malisse plenty of confidence and match-toughness for future campaigns.

BoSox Rudy-- I'd give the nod to Hantuchova had she played Serena closer, but beating Jelena Dokic to reach the Wimbledon quarters does not a breakthrough make (or at least enough of one to win this category). So my pick in this category is Serena Williams.

With her victory in this tournament, she cemented her position at the top of the women's game, finally living up to the enormous promise she showed when winning the 1999 U.S. Open. I always thought she was the most talented player in the women's game, perhaps even in the history of women's tennis. Now she's proven it. For all I know, David Nalbandian will end up being the Chris Lewis of the 21st century, but I'm guessing he does a lot better for the rest of his career than Lewis did.

Bridgeport Jake -- Laura Granville went from has-been to up-and-comer in the span of three matches. Her collapse against Mauresmo shows that she's still not ready for the big-time. But she broke into the top-100, and one can certainly see her career going the way of Lisa Raymond's - a consistent Top 30 player with the smarts and maturity to make tennis work for her. For the men: Xavier Malisse. Sure, he bit it big in the fifth set against Nalbandian. But HECK, beating Krajicek, Rusedski, and Kafelnikov, making it past the Fourth Round for the first time ever, and finally jumping into the Top 25 after years of promise ... Malisse is on his way.

Best Transition Game
The B Man - Serena is the obvious choice on the women's side, but I'm going to select Chanda Rubin, instead. Chanda successfully adopted her game from clay, where she did, in fact, do some sliding, to grass, where she had many of us wondering whether she might upset Serena in the fourth round. Serena doesn't really play grass-court tennis: she's all serve and huge groundies. Chanda, however, knows how construct a true point on grass and can thus volley rather well, too. Her results in the singles (4th round) and doubles (semifinals) were solid. Lleyton Hewitt, a baseliner's baseliner, acquitted himself admirably at the French, falling in the Rd 4 to a top clay-court player; Hewitt then tinkered with his baseline game for the Big W: he beefed up his serve, gave himself enough room on the baseline to accommodate for opponents' topspin, and even made an occasional trip to the net. The changes were minute but the result was huge: Hewitt won his second Slam title.

BoSox Rudy-- Winning both the French and Wimbledon a month apart was something that Bjorn Borg did so often that it fools us into thinking it's not all that. Well, it is all that (and a bag of chips). Although all the other elements of Serena's game remained unchanged (huge serve, huge groundstrokes, tremendous aggressiveness), Serena successfully adjusted her movement (from clay-court-sliding to grass-court precision), and that was the key for her. With a R16 showing at Roland Garros and a semifinal at W, Xavier Malisse made the best transition amongst the men. Now if he could just avoid a heart attach in his next big match.

Bridgeport Jake -- Serena. Took her a little while, but, hey, results. Runner-up: Venus Williams (naturally). Men: None of the above. No player who won a clay Masters Series event got past the second round at Wimbledon. Costa didn't even play. Nalbandian & Lapentti both had marginal clay-court seasons. Runner-up: Lleyton Hewitt.

Best Touch
The B Man - Reaching the quarters of the mixed doubles and semi's of the ladies doubles, a rather fearless Anna Kournikova delighted television programmers by demonstrating she can, in fact, play tennis: she's got quick hands at the net, and a killer instinct when it comes to poaching, passing, and hitting at an opponent's feet. Unlike the women, whose elite advanced to the later rounds primarily using power games, the men were all about touch (no wonder I like Wimbledon so much!). While Paradorn Srichaphan employed a significant arsenal of spins and angles to upset Agassi, Xavier Malisse gets the nod here for his brilliant shot-making, which included even more wicked angles than Srichaphan, plus slice shots that consistently troubled his competition.

BoSox Rudy-- Don't laugh, but best touch in the Wimbledon Ladies half belongs to Anna Kournikova. I said don't laugh. Richard Krajicek isn't known as a touch player, but all the power from the serve and groundstrokes overshadow his nice hands at the net.

Bridgeport Jake -- Anna Kournikova. Love those doubles volleys, Anna. Best Touch, Male: Rusedski. At least in his match against Roddick.

Best Comeback
The B Man - Natasha Zvereva has seemingly boundless energy, and is a hoot, so it was great to see her name in the ladies, ladies doubles, and mixed doubles draws. If she had a great time competing, maybe she can talk Martina into entering all three fields at the US Open…Mark Philippousis had a tough draw, and suffered a tough, close loss to Richard Krajicek. Unlike Dick K., Mark probably still has a Slam left in his tank, so here's to hoping his nice run at Wimbly has Mark headed in a promising direction.

BoSox Rudy-- It seems that Chanda Rubin has been injured almost nonstop since her 1996 Aussie semifinal. She must be so happy just to be healthy again, and I have to think she'll look back and be very proud of her play at this Wimbledon. Krajicek's comeback, from playing just one match in 20 months to reaching the Wimbledon quarterfinals, is an achievement that would impress Lazarus himself.

Bridgeport Jake -- Natasha Zvereva. No, she didn't win her first singles match in a long time. No, she didn't help Martina too much in doubles. But still, it was great that she was there. Best Comeback, Male: James Blake v. Richard Krajicek. Yes, he lost the match. But coming back from being down two sets and some breaks in the final three sets, and losing 11-9 to a previous Wimbledon finalist/total ass like Krajicek ... you can see why he's quickly becoming a fan-favorite.

Nicest Moment of the Tournament
The B Man - The International Tennis Federation grew a pair and gave some pretty damn strong support to Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi when the Pakistan Tennis Federation and Pakistan Sports Board railed against him for teaming with Israel's Amir Hadad in men's doubles. The ITF has let Pakistan know that the country's membership to the global tennis organization would be jeopardized if Qureshi is booted from Pakistan's Davis Cup team as punishment for pairing with Hadad. Given the extremely sensitive nature of the situation in the Middle East, it's both surprising and important to see such a bold gesture.

BoSox Rudy-- Unfortunately, I missed the women's victory ceremony, although it sounded like a wonderful occasion. My vote goes to Nalbandian for his line, "Maybe when I come back and play this tournament a second time, I'll win it."

Bridgeport Jake -- Sandrine Testud revealing after her second-round loss to Mary Pierce that she's pregnant (and retired).

July 9, 2002

Cybelle Darkholme
Jul 17th, 2002, 04:01 AM
From Greatness to Grunts
Our Experts Cast Their Vote for Top Moments at the French Open

Outsports readers Bridgeport Jake and Yonex Guy join The B Man, our regular correspondent, in recognizing some of the best and worst of the 2002 French Open

Best Performance
The B Man: Albert Costa’s title run was sublime. Costa not only stood firm against Juan Carlos Ferrero’s psychotic fugue of a performance in the final, which was truly a feat, but also beat both of last year’s finalists, Gustavo Kuerten and Alex Corretja, and one of the ATP tour’s most promising stars, Guillermo Canas, en route to the championship match.

Bridgeport Jake: Other than dropping that opening set to Vera Zvonareva, Serena Williams was immaculate. I dare say that clay-court tennis suits her speed very, very well.

Yonex Guy: I would say the best performance was from the French tennis fans/audience watching the women’s final! It was inspiring to hear absolutely no sounds between points, and very subdued clapping for points won in respect to the Williams sisters for the true emotional tension that was palatable during the entire match. Not one warning about cell phone’s being turned off.

Best Comeback Performance
The B Man: Andre Agassi, for snatching victory from Paul-Henri Mathieu, after being down to the young Frenchman 0 sets to 2 and a break in the third. Clarisa Fernandez, for making it to her first semi at a Grand Slam event by battling from 0 sets to 1 and a break in the second against elder countrywoman Paola Suarez.

Bridgeport Jake: Gotta give it to Chanda Rubin. With only one minor tournament the week before under her belt, she knocked off two seeds and took five games off of Venus in the Round of 16. Mary Pierce, meanwhile, had been back since Sarasota, also knocked off two seeds, had the home court behind her, and lost 1&1 to Serena. Back from the gutter, Vince Spadea put up a huge fight against local kid Sebastian Grosjean. If Spadea can take the next step, I'd love to see him make some noise in New York.

Yonex Guy: Though Mary Pierce’s play against Serena was totally abominable, there aren’t too many players, if any, who could have dented Serena in that quarter’s performance. Coming off of basically one-year’s absence, missing last years French to defend her title, being ranked in the 100’s and getting into the semi’s, having beaten some great clay players was nice to see. Seeing Vince Spadea’s performance thru the slam and into the match against Grosjean was again inspiring. Watching his post match interview, anyone could see that he was truly dejected and down. Patrick McEnroe just kept saying, “Great match, great run here and keep up the good work!”

Best Grunt
The B Man: Jelena Dokic, whose “Eww-KEH!” sounds much more natural than the barks and grunts we hear from Capriati and the Sisters Williams. Juan Carlos Ferrero, for the raw, vulnerable vocal efforts he produced out of desperation in the men’s final.

Bridgeport Jake: Serena again. Especially when she's jumping up in the air. Love it.

Yonex Guy: Jelena Dokic. Ever since her debut into the pro, WTA tour she has had that very unique “Chhheww” whenever she hits a ball. She was quoted as saying growing up watching Monica Seles and her ground strokes explode with her exhales gave her the OK that her exhales on ground strokes could make it in the pro tour too.” Juan Carlos Ferrero. During his match against Andre Agassi and then Marat Safin, his concentration and ground stokes were just sent with an exclamation point, his long grunt! You could tell when he was focused on that ground stroke and the big serve, he really made the grunt.

Biggest Disappointment
The B Man: The Belgian Women, Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin, who lost relatively early at Roland Garros, despite reaching the semi’s last year and playing well in the spring clay court season. Andy Roddick, for punking out in the first round.

Bridgeport Jake: Monica Seles. I naively thought she had a real chance in the quarters against Venus. As much as I love Monica, she had her last, best chance here. And just totally dropped the ball. Just a personal disappointment, I really wanted Alex Corretja to win. But the Costa machine got in the way of glory. Don't give up, Alex!

Yonex Guy: Kim Clijsters. Hands down the most pathetic performance in a slam by a former finalist. To lose 0-6 in a straight-set loss in the 3rd Round to an inspired Clarisa Fernandez, all the while being a top 10 player was just unreal. Roger Federer. Going out in the first round after a fantastic clay court season to a feisty Arazi was unreal. Roger’s game is all-court, rare serve and volleying ability, his movement is catlike, and his concentration in the last year is gaining. Runner Up – Juan Carlos Ferrero. After 2 years consecutively losing in the semis to Guga, this was his year to shine. He was dull.

Breakthrough Performance
The B Man: Argentine women’s tennis, for sending two women, Clarisa Fernandez and Paola Suarez, into the quarterfinals, a first since the days of Gabriela Sabatini. Albert Costa, not only for winning a major when nearly no one thought he could, but for playing inspired but focused clay court tennis to do so.

Bridgeport Jake: Clarisa Fernandez. Moment? Down match point (2-5) to Venus Williams in the semis, she closed to 4-5 and was back on serve. Unable to force a third-set, she nonetheless did herself proud. It will be interesting to see how she reacts to other surfaces--she's only won one main-draw match on a surface other than clay this year. Runner-up: Zvonareva. Paul-Henri Mathieu. The young French wild card made it to the fourth round where he put a hella scare into Andre Agassi. Perhaps Agassi could have fared better against Ferrero had he not dropped those first to sets to Mathieu. Runner-up: Costa. Despite what I said earlier, I'm happy for Albert.

Yonex Guy: Serena Williams. I think that this year, this clay court season and this slam has shown us an entirely new Serena Williams. Her interviews are focused, mature, and very gracious to her foes and predecessors. She is even now saying that she gained her ability to focus, look at the strings after point’s won/lost, to Monica Seles. She said that watching tapes of her and watching the matches growing up, she was so inspired by her mental focus and awesome game. Albert Costa. To finally put together a grand slam and big win for himself against his own countrymen was truly inspiring. Crossing the net and embracing Corretja and Ferrero was so cool!

Best Slide
The B Man: Serena Williams, who covered the court especially well in her semifinal encounter with Jennifer Capriati; one replay showed Serena finishing a slide one on foot and already preparing for an aggressive play at the net. Marat Safin, who looked good on the dirt even in a losing effort.

Bridgeport Jake: Justine Henin. I don't care if she did lose in the first round. Girl can slide.

Yonex Guy: Serena Williams. Her slides during the match with Capriati and during the play with Venus showed how much she has adjusted her big game to the red clay. She is the more explosive on the court and to add the slide into that physical show should send fear into the WTA tour for any clay court match to come. Marat Safin/Albert Costa. Marat Safin being 6’4” and learning to slide on the clay and still pick up some great ground strokes/drop shots from his opponents was very cool. Albert Costa uses clay sliding like being on a surfboard. Some of his drop shots and “supposed” winners and shot pick-ups while sliding shows he truly does have the clay mastered in balance.

Most Explosive Ground strokes
The B Man: Although Albert Costa’s inside-out forehand was truly a thing of beauty in the men’s final, Guillermo Canas is the very definition of explosive off both sides—forehand and backhand…just ask Carlos Moya.

Bridgeport Jake: Serena. The only player I consistently say "wow" about when I watch her hit from either side. On the men’s side, All I can say is that Grosjean's forehand against Spadea was a revelation to me.

Yonex Guy: Serena Williams. Watching her French Open play and especially from the quarters on (Pierce, Capriati, Williams) gave me shivers just watching it! If I were on the WTA tour, I would be in the gym. Albert Costa/Juan Carlos Ferrero. Albert Costa throughout the entire slam, especially in the semi’s and the final (forehand) just blew me/opponents away! Juan Carlos Ferrero’s performance, taking Agassi’s ground strokes and giving them back harder, same with Safin’s too, was just incredible to watch.

Nicest Moment of the Tournament
The B Man: The Women’s Final trophy presentation, in which Venus hammed it up by taking photos of Lil Sis and both finalists treated the crowd to salutations spoken in French.

Bridgeport Jake: Costa and Corretja practicing on the same side of the net. If the Sisters did something like that, they'd be criticized 'til next year.

Yonex Guy: Without a doubt, the ending of the women’s final. To see two loving, talented, sisters embrace, talk, cry, laugh and wait for the award presentation had me tingling. This win for Serena and the world, was a gift to watch. No jumping up and down, running to the parents box and hugging … blah, blah, blah. It was just pure satisfaction on her part. Watching Venus run around to get a camera and asking how to use it, then taking pictures was to me, so human. To see that love between siblings, and in an independent sport like tennis as competitors, and now #1 and #2 in the world should go down in history.

Cybelle Darkholme
Jul 17th, 2002, 04:18 AM

Jul 17th, 2002, 05:37 AM
Thanks for the articles, I enjoyed them.

Crazy Canuck
Jul 17th, 2002, 07:56 AM
Thanks for the articles, but as I always do, I have to rip them ;)

"Men: None of the above. No player who won a clay Masters Series event got past the second round at Wimbledon. Costa didn't even play. Nalbandian & Lapentti both had marginal clay-court seasons. Runner-up: Lleyton Hewitt. "

They are correct on the first part. Juan Carlos lost in round two, Federer lost in round one, and Agassi in round two.
Costa was getting married - how dare he :eek: :rolleyes:
Nalbandian actually didnt' have a bad clay season. He won estoril beating Moya and ferrero, then got beat in the early stages of tournaments to the likes of Hewitt, Haas, and Safin. He had a win against Federer. But he had some tough draws, and aside from Alberto Martin, he didnt really lose to anyone that he shouldn't have.

". Perhaps Agassi could have fared better against Ferrero had he not dropped those first to sets to Mathieu"

Rubbish. Total wishful thinking. Ferrero is a better claycourter than Andre, and showed that by beating him at his own game. Had Juan Carlos not had problems closing it out it would have been a straight set embarrassment.

"Albert Costa. To finally put together a grand slam and big win for himself against his own countrymen was truly inspiring. Crossing the net and embracing Corretja and Ferrero was so cool! "

Perhaps I wasn't watching very carefully, but I am pretty sure that Ferrero crossed the net to Costa's side. Not the other way around.

You know what? I'm tired and there were way to many things I didn't agree with here ;)

Brian Stewart
Jul 17th, 2002, 03:05 PM
Do these guys follow tennis on a regular basis, or are they "all-sport" guys? If the latter, they did a prety good job. Even if it's the former, they did better than most tennis writers.

But it is a bit unfair to label the Belgians as disappointments without taking their physical ailments into account. Justine was ill and shouldn't have played; Kim's practice time has been limited, and it's showing more in her results as the season goes on. Likewise, it's a bit harsh to tag Roddick for losing early at the French. Other than the hype-meisters, no one really thought of him as a serious contender there.

Jul 17th, 2002, 04:49 PM
Go article. Nice props to Serena and Venus.

Cybelle Darkholme
Jul 17th, 2002, 10:13 PM