PDA

View Full Version : Random notes about the Australian Open


Corswandt
Jan 20th, 2009, 11:03 PM
Day one

The change in court colours works to the benefit of TV viewers, but the AO still doesn't make for as good TV as the USO. I don't care for the camera angle, and the court is a strange hybrid - the ball doesn't speed up after impact the way it does on US hardcourts, yet the bounce seems low (the effectiveness of Federer's slice being a good yardstick to measure that), making for some awkward errors and problems in returning serve. Then again, few players are sharp, as playing the AO at the very peak of Australia's summer heat seems to take priority over establishing a proper series of warmup events. :rolleyes:

Danger signals everywhere, for tennis in general (sparse crowds at several courts) and for women's tennis in particular (persistent lack of new talent, alarming decline in the player's fitness standards, veterans attempting comebacks because they feel the overall competitiveness of the Tour is exceptionally low).

Can't use the multicourt livestreams, so I got what Eurosport saw fit to broadcast.

ES coverage was par for the course for the first couple of rounds at the Slams: hops from court to court much more than it should, almost aimlessly at times, and ends up wasting most of its time showing irrelevant matches between mid-ranked ATP mugs hoping to find a "dramatic" (read pointlessly long) five-setter.

Görges

Saw her play (briefly) for the first time almost a year and a half ago. I thought that she packed firepower that most of today's hopefuls can only dream of having, but overall her game was astonishingly raw.

So a year and a half went by - and she showed no signs of improvement. Serves some bombs and hits spectacular winners here and there, but is comically inept at anything other than hitting standard groundstrokes from behind the baseline. And considering that Ivanovic's "kill shots or junk" game provides little in the way of rhythm, the stage was set for a trainwreck.

Not to mention the tactical cluelessness, almost painful to see at times. Gave away 384734957340 BPs with needless errors, failed to make adequate use of her serve when an even halfway decent serve into Ivanovic's BH would have allowed her to start the point from an advantageous position, and a good serve into Ivanovic's BH = point won.

On the other side of the net - increasingly true of Miss Language Barrier what is true also of Kuznetsova: has she ever played a good match?

Rybarikova

One of those players that I really want to see play. Only a handful of points yesterday, when she was sucking. Zvonareva kept pounding her FH side, which probably means her BH is her most solid wing.

Meusburger

:lol:

Jankovic

Played just enough to do the business, which seems to have become her policy in recent months.

Wozniacki vs Peer

Couple of games ES showed she was letting herself be bossed around by Peer :help: But does she look hot.

Peer's FH fell apart about a year ago; before that, it was loopy (like say Jankovic's or Wozniacki's) and relatively harmless but reliable. Now it's frighteningly erratic, and leaks random errors out of standard rally shots. To add to that, she now seems lost on court - which is odd, considering that shot selection is seldom a problem for one-dimensional grinders (unless they rush the net, that is).

Dokic vs Paszek

Word on the street was that Dokic was hitting the ball beautifully, and that she was playing (at least patches of) top 50 tennis. But I didn't like what I saw from her. Slow, unathletic, with very little in the way of defense and one-dimensional she always was, according to what I heard; but for all the challengers she slogged through last year and for all the WC playoffs that she played, she seems extremely rusty. That, some of the inevitable deterioration her game has suffered over the past 4-5 years is also irreversible. Very slow to react and change directions, she rarely hit with any accuracy when on the move, her ROS was often lousy, and the timing of her shots went on and off without warning. Some undeniably :drool: ballstriking when she was fully on though, and she seems to have fixed the problems with her serve - it was very effective at times, and helped her defend her lead in the 3rd set even when everything else seemed to be falling apart.

Paszek has hit a wall in her development. Everyone noticed her excellent natural ballstriking skills when she first showed up on the Tour - problem is, she really has nothing else. Her build couldn't be less suited to tennis. Her shots, though clean and accurate, don't qualify as weapons, let alone kill shots, by today's standards. Played too passively, but I suppose waiting for Dokic to self-destruct/choke was the most tempting tactical option.

Hantuchova vs Dellacqua

Hantuchova: an elegant player with an elegant game built around gorgeous ballstriking or an unathletic slowpoke with medium-paced groundstrokes depending on how you look at it. (Nearly) always a delight to watch as far as I'm concerned. OK performance, at least compared to some of last year's horror shows. Seems reluctant to take risks, and unwilling (or unable?) to hit with the consistent depth and accuracy she once did. Probably an ajustment until she finds some better form. Against Dellacqua, it did the business. Against others, it may not be enough.

Dellacqua tries really hard to impersonate a power player (swinging away at 2nd serves, going for broke from defensive positions, etc.), but since she doesn't really have the tools required to do so (so-so BH, FH can be an embarrassment), she's only intermittently successful.

The TB was dramatic, if poorly played, but the latter stages of the 2nd set saw both players progressively and simultaneously raising their games, allowing for some of the least bad tennis of the day.

Day two may be posted tomorrow or not at all.

SvetaPleaseWin.
Jan 20th, 2009, 11:43 PM
i love your summary on Meusburger :yeah: theres not much more to say tbf

Dav.
Jan 20th, 2009, 11:51 PM
Great report, thanks!

starin
Jan 21st, 2009, 12:12 AM
Interesting thoughts about the crowds at AO. I thought the courts looked a little empty at times too.


But what about WTAWorld? Yesterday by the end of the days matches the livescoring thread was only like 25 pages long. :eek: I remember when I first signed up those things would go on for ages. WTAWorld is straight up dead compared to a couple years ago. And yet somehow the website manages to crash more :o

sunsfuns
Jan 21st, 2009, 01:42 AM
It all cyclical to some extent. ATP cast is one of the best ever at this point. I am sure WTA will catch up too sooner or later. :)

Lunaris
Jan 21st, 2009, 04:22 AM
Rybarikova

One of those players that I really want to see play. Only a handful of points yesterday, when she was sucking. Zvonareva kept pounding her FH side, which probably means her BH is her most solid wing.
Or that Zvonareva isn't very smart. Rybarikova's backhand as I remember from past years isn't very clean stroke and has from little to no depth or accuracy whatsoever. I am sure she has worked on it since then, but it can't be better than her fh.

iPatty
Jan 21st, 2009, 04:23 AM
Or that Zvonareva isn't very smart. Rybarikova's backhand as I remember from past years isn't very clean stroke and has from little to no depth or accuracy whatsoever. I am sure she has worked on it since then, but it can't be better than her fh.

I was under the same impression, that her forehand was her much stronger shot.

Direwolf
Jan 21st, 2009, 05:16 AM
It all cyclical to some extent. ATP cast is one of the best ever at this point. I am sure WTA will catch up too sooner or later. :)

werent we saying that about womens tennis 8 years ago

Shonami Slam
Jan 21st, 2009, 06:53 AM
thanls corswandt.

i'm sorry to say shahar was always this lousy, she had a few years of nice GS draws, and her fitness was a bit bit better.
easy to see why the more consistent huge hitters always crushed her - she has nothing of her own.
she's not even that good when playing against Obziler - israels biggest hitter on the forehand side ever.

post tomorrow too, i'd appriciate it.

CooCooCachoo
Jan 21st, 2009, 08:00 AM
Not quite the optimist, eh?

#1SteffiGraf#1
Jan 21st, 2009, 08:29 AM
Paszek needs to just get fit, and work on her serve. She is great at hittin gon the run, and getting in better shape will help her get to more balls that she CAN HIT on the run. You are right though, she has hit a wall. But her "build" not being right for tennis is a little harsh. She can fix that in coming years. IM HOPING she does :)

Oswald56
Jan 21st, 2009, 09:10 AM
Rybarikova looks great and had so many chances against Zvonareva but she's not quite the complete package yet. She was breaking Zvonareva's serve with ease in the first set, but couldn't hold hers...

bad_angel_109
Jan 21st, 2009, 09:38 AM
Why Im the next Nikkiri, bad jinxes, coincidences, damn Sharapova & Daniela knows...

I made a thread but deleted it and copied and pasting it in here :)

This is just random chatter about my experience so far at the AO (been monday, tuesaday, today and going for the rest of the week) and i was there at the qualies on saturday (17th jan). not to mention this thread is a very good way for me to vent :p

Next Nikkiri: Why am I the next Nikki or why am I like Nikki? I'll tell u why. I've been to every Maria Kirilenko match there is so far (I saw her lose on monday in singles :( and i saw the remarkable come bak from a set down in her dubs match today with pennetta) and to every practice session ive known of. i took HEAPS of pics at her singles game with at least 7 or 8 mins of vid footage. warm up, practice and i think bits of a match, i cant remember. PLUS i also got a pic with the gorgeous blonde today :hearts: but i wont post it coz i look so retarded, lol. hat hair and everything, bad pic, but Maria looks gorgeous.

Bad jinxes: every single fucken time ive seen Daniela practice or im watch her match (both today's and monday night's matches) my camera battery ALWAYS DIES. without fail, every single damn time its sooo annoying. hence it means ive had to use my phone, its camera is pretty shit to take photos with, especially fast-moving pics, e.g. tennis. so ive had to make vids of her lol. ive got at least 1 and a half hours of daniela. stalker much? :lol: not really :rolleyes: haha, well the 3 times i saw her today (morning practice, match against johansson & arvo practice session) she snubbed me ALL 3 times for an autograph :sobbing:

Coincidences: everytime ive seen one of daniela's practice sessions its by coincidence. seriously. first time i saw her was yesterday when she was on court 22, i had just come out of the toilets coz i had to wash my hands and dab water on my 3/4 pants coz i was eating a frosty fruit when i saw sveta finish up her practice session & its melted all over me when I was watching sveta LOL. anyway long story cut short, while i was fumbling for my camera (who's battery already died) then when i looked up again svazy (sp) kicked danka off and dani had to practice on court 20. saw her morning practice this morning was making my way to the practice courts near hisense (courts 16-23) and i saw danka walking through to a court. thankfully my battery hadnt died yet. it died when i was watching her match AND my phone's battery (since i was making vids lol) died when i was watching her late arvo/evening (5pm-6pm) practice :sobbing:

Damn Sharapova: Masha, masha, masha. omg. I thought "Allez" meant "C'mon" in russian NOT french. i always thought it was russian coz sharapova cursed the crowd last year (funniest thing ever lol) when she lost to safina at RG, so when i was watching lil masha's single match on monday i made a sign that said "ALLEZ MARIA" and afterwards i got her to sign it. i thought she knew wat it meant, apparently not since its french. omg. p.s does ANYONE know wat C'mon is in RUSSIAN? argh.

Danka knows: i think she thinks im either a lesbian or a stalker or BOTH! :lol: coz i think she recognises me everytime im at one of her practice sessions or matches, she's glared at me/in my direction a few times, haha. im not a stalker, im just trying to get her autograph and a pic with her :p

Other stupid stuff: Ive been snubbed for an autograph sooo many times. a few players include: Safina, Danka (:sobbing: ), Serena, Sammy (stosur) and ana. there are a few more. also i know some ppl only go to the AO or watever (locals i mean) for the experience and they get a ground pass, but seriously they're so stupid and unappreciative! they stare at the player and flick through their guide book/program to see who the player is. a few remarks ive heard are "look, its that serbian girl. wats her name?" (that was about JJ), "look mum, thats sam stosur. im 99.9% sure its sam" (a retard said that about DOMI!!! :mad: domi lookes absolutely NOTHING like sam, argh. they saw her face and was about 6 or 7 metres away from her) and omg, i cant believe ppl r sooo damn naive and retarded "OMG! look over there, thats sharapova, isnt it? yeah, yeah im sure it is" (about danka). bloody hell wat a bunch of idiots.

im hungry, grumpy, fatigued, tired, badly sunburnt and tanned weirdly lol. jus let me have this rant ok? :wavey:

#1SteffiGraf#1
Jan 21st, 2009, 10:02 AM
One thing Ive noticed for first time in a while is a few players being upset with the camera pointed at them during changeover. Petrova wanted to hit the guy I think, she complained to the chair umpire :lol:

chuvack
Jan 21st, 2009, 12:48 PM
Day one

The change in court colours works to the benefit of TV viewers, but the AO still doesn't make for as good TV as the USO. I don't care for the camera angle, and the court is a strange hybrid - the ball doesn't speed up after impact the way it does on US hardcourts, yet the bounce seems low (the effectiveness of Federer's slice being a good yardstick to measure that), making for some awkward errors and problems in returning serve. Then again, few players are sharp, as playing the AO at the very peak of Australia's summer heat seems to take priority over establishing a proper series of warmup events. :rolleyes:

Danger signals everywhere, for tennis in general (sparse crowds at several courts) and for women's tennis in particular (persistent lack of new talent, alarming decline in the player's fitness standards, veterans attempting comebacks because they feel the overall competitiveness of the Tour is exceptionally low).

.


Thanx for all. But regarding the shot you take at the AO scheduling - I think people fail to realize that the AO, unlike the other 3 Slams, is not to be taken for granted. Prior to the AO's move to mid-January, tennis was essentially a 3-Grand Slam sport. If AO moved to March as many proposed, there is a real chance that the event could fail in Australia. The AO's being placed in what first seemed a strange date has in fact been a wild success for both the domestic and the global popularity of the event. Personally I love being able to see Grand Slam tennis in the middle of winter, it has really grown on me. If it means that the players are a bit rusty in the early rounds, that's a small price I'm willing to pay.

Experimentee
Jan 21st, 2009, 01:01 PM
I attended for the first 3 days, and the overall attendance on Monday and Tuesday was definitely lower than normal due to the extreme heat. On Wednesday it was very crowded and there were plenty of people as the weather was a bit cooler. All the courts were pretty much full on this day.

SvetaPleaseWin.
Jan 21st, 2009, 02:47 PM
Other stupid stuff: Ive been snubbed for an autograph sooo many times. a few players include: Safina, Danka (:sobbing: ), Serena, Sammy (stosur) and ana. there are a few more. also i know some ppl only go to the AO or watever (locals i mean) for the experience and they get a ground pass, but seriously they're so stupid and unappreciative! they stare at the player and flick through their guide book/program to see who the player is. a few remarks ive heard are "look, its that serbian girl. wats her name?" (that was about JJ), "look mum, thats sam stosur. im 99.9% sure its sam" (a retard said that about DOMI!!! :mad: domi lookes absolutely NOTHING like sam, argh. they saw her face and was about 6 or 7 metres away from her) and omg, i cant believe ppl r sooo damn naive and retarded "OMG! look over there, thats sharapova, isnt it? yeah, yeah im sure it is" (about danka). bloody hell wat a bunch of idiots.

daniela hates signing autographs :( i got one last year at AO that looks like 'Dd' cos some dick put his book over mine when id finally got her to sign it! :mad: bastard.
i get annoyed by peoples retardedness as well, its worse at wimbledon, i cant actually stand it. someone was convinced jankovic was sharapova a few years back in birmingham, made me a bit sad that, hello different coloured hairrrrrr. i was impressed that people knew sveta in australia :) probably cos she won the AO dubs with molik but no one knows her here, at all. you always get 'she must be good shes a top 5 seed' they are then usually disappointed when sveta plays poop :sad: but thats another story

GeeTee
Jan 21st, 2009, 07:38 PM
Interesting thoughts about the crowds at AO. I thought the courts looked a little empty at times too.

You and the OP muts be right about empty seats....that's why yesterday's attendance was an all-time Grand Slam record....:confused:

Corswandt
Jan 21st, 2009, 11:05 PM
Day 2

Dementieva vs Barrois

The only women's match ES saw fit to broadcast in any length, as nearly all French and a few German ATP players were in action yesterday, and the inevitable Hewitt five-setter took up most of mid-afternoon.

Lena D.'s tactical cluelessness again on display - facing a slow opponent, she rarely attempted to move her around by opening angles. BH seemed shaky throughout - she hasn't quite found the ideal timing this season yet. According to reports, she seemed tired and apathetic early in the 1st set, with Barrois blasting winners past her (!). 2nd set was an unmitigated disaster, with whole games thrown away with errors, as she completely lost the range on her groundstrokes. 3rd set much better, with Lena finally being aggressive off the ground and finishing points quickly. She has fixed the problems with her toss, and her serve motion is more coordinated and "streamlined", yet this hasn't made her serving any more predictable. A typical service game would go: DF, big flat ace to the ad court, then a surprisingly well placed 2nd serve, DF, then a crap loopy 2nd serve to the deuce court, ace, excellent slider that nonetheless Barrois read and attacked... But at least she doesn't drop sets and even matches solely on account of it.

The last time I had seen Barrois was at the 07 Estoril qualies. She looked like a stick insect and didn't seem to have any weapons other than German cuss words. But it seems she has been putting on some muscle and working on her game since then. After all the rolls of fat that I've seen over the past couple of days, I was just grateful that at least one scrub seemed to be fit.

Her serve is very good - I loved her serve motion - and it's probably even better than what it looked like yesterday: only Lena D.'s astonishing reflexes prevented even more of those serves from becoming unreturnables or even aces. Extremely effective to the ad court, as she can hit both excellent sidewinders and flat serves to that side, making anticipation difficult. Good slider to the deuce court as well. Her defense is adequate for a player of her size - reminiscent of Daniilidou, in that she slices from both sides. Her CC drive FH, seemingly hit with very little spin, is also a useful shot.

Razzano vs Gajdosova

Too bad I only got to see a few points of this. Women's tennis could use more mid-ranked players such as Razzano. She isn't very agile, her stance is awkward, and her strokes don't seem particularly smooth, but if you look closer you'll notice her footwork - all little steps. It's what allows her to be just about as consistent as a relatively slow player who is aggressive with nearly every shot she hits can be.

Gajdosova hits a monster BH DTL, and looks a bit fitter than last year, but is still wildly inconsistent, and has trouble keeping herself in rallies against just about anyone. Maybe the decline in competitiveness of the Tour will allow her to become a solid top 80 player, instead of spending her season sinking into challenger purgatory and then having to claw her way out of it as until now.

Serena Williams vs Yuan

Everyone seemed bored by this match, Serena herself included. Only on occasion would she wake up and do what was required to win the match - but nothing more. It wasn't thus the best match to draw conclusions as to her current form. Too many points thrown away with ROS errors, but that's to be expected from her.

Yuan is a useless moonballer who plays about 10 km behind the baseline at all times.

Kuznetsova vs Rodionova

Good that ES gave us a glimpse of the current form of The Most Talented Player in the WTA, at least according to a section of TF's orthodoxy.

Kuznetsova's "tactics" currently consist of staying put behind the baseline and then suddenly unloading a huge shot, seemingly at random. Against scrubs, it works - barely - because they give her puffballs to whack away. Against tougher opposition, we'll see.

That Tennis Australia will stoop to recruit players such as Rodionova is a measure of its desperation. She didn't seem as useless as she did the last time I saw her play (Estoril 06), but even though she's relatively consistent and can hit with some depth, she also lacks weapons and was seriously outgunned.

Stosur vs Koukalova

I'd like to know exactly why did people disagree with me when I lumped Stosur in the "big servers with no game" category a few months back. Unlike Razzanos's, her groundstrokes don't just look ugly and awkward; they actually are ineffective as well. Small chance of winning baseline rallies against any top 40 player. Her volleys can be pure comedy - but credit for trying I guess.

That beacon of positivity that is Mrs. Zakopalova netted what, 6 consecutive BHs in the 2nd set TB? Some things never change.

Matches I didn't watch, but wish I had, at least in part: loads.

First and foremost K.. Bondarenko d. A. Radwanska (played under what seemed to be a gale, massive choking from both), the Mladenovic match, Sesil, both Court 10 matches... I'd also like to see, at least once, A. Bondarenko playing against a scrub, so that I could find out why on earth a player with such a consistent game has such inconsistent results.

Don't even need to say which match I'm glad I didn't watch.

Day 3 no earlier than tomorrow. There was a glitch in the box and I'm not sure how much I've lost; at least an hour it seems, quite possibly of the Chak vs Dokic match (if ES bothered to show that instead of its usual Franco-German ATP mug diet).

Corswandt
Jan 21st, 2009, 11:17 PM
i'm sorry to say shahar was always this lousy, she had a few years of nice GS draws, and her fitness was a bit bit better.
easy to see why the more consistent huge hitters always crushed her - she has nothing of her own.

Peer scored some successes in 06-07 essentially by bringing her opponents down to her level.

But even in her halcyon days, she sometimes ended up being one of those punching bags who allows her opponents to play their game and to look much better than they really are (cases in point: Henin USO 06, Petrova Linz 06, Chak USO 07, Dementieva AO 08).

Corswandt
Jan 22nd, 2009, 11:15 PM
Day 3

Ivanovic vs Brianti

First time I saw Brianti play was at the 06 Estoril qualies. Some people had mentioned her compelling game, but when I actually saw her, she was getting whomped by the astonishingly raw 17 y.o. Shrieky Vicky, and needless to say I was far from impressed. But yesterday I got a better look at it and I have to agree - a pretty game indeed, but of course completely ineffective at this level.

Brianti is a crafty, skilled, resourceful player, who displayed good shot selection when faced with unusual game situations, but she lacks the tools required to discomfit Ivanovic. Without a good serve, she was at the mercy of Ivanovic's baseball batter ROS. Without much pace on her shots, she had no option other than to slice away most of the time. And even though her slice was deep and accurate, slowing down the pace of the rallies effectively allowed Ivanovic to implement her usual game plan against scrubs by giving her the time to constantly run around her BH: hit only FHs, as hard as possible and often straight down the middle.

Safina vs Makarova

Jury still out on whether Makarova plays a high % game, only with flair, or if she only makes her ground game seem high % because of how well she can play it (at least in patches). Either way, she moves the ball around very well, and I think it's undeniable that she's much more entertaining to watch than say Bammer, possibly because you feel Makarova's ultimate aim is to open up the court for a winner, whereas the ultimate goal of Bammer and other such grinders is, what, to bore everyone to death? Makarova returns serve adequately, hits a very clean ball off both sides (uncommon for a lefty) and has pretty, textbook strokes off both sides as well (even more uncommon for a lefty). Serve is OK in terms of pace and placement, and she mixes it up smartly, making it less predictable than that of most lefties. This is the good part; the bad part was of course giving up on the match when the 2nd set wasn't even halfway through. Safina can be very hard to put away when she gets on that groove of scrambling from side to side pumping heavy topspin (as Lena D. and Sharapova have repeatedly found out), but that's hardly an excuse for borderline tanking.

Jankovic vs Flipkens

Yet another lackadaisical performance by Jankovic, utterly lacking in any kind of intensity. She didn't even bother to crank it up a bit when she lost her lead in the 2nd set, choosing rather to wait for Flipkens to do something stupid and hand it out to her.

Flipkens is interesting in that, lacking baseline firepower, she uses her junk constructively, unlike some other junkballers. Going to the net and displaying fine volleying there (and the overheads - since Henin that I didn't see such a short player hit such fine and gutsy overheads) deserves praise, but it's abundantly clear that, unless the Tour travels back in time to 1995, Flipkens' potential is very, very limited.

Dokic vs Chakvetadze

One set is better than nothing I suppose. :rolleyes:

Dokic improved from the previous round: she seemed to like Chak's flat, low bouncing shots, or at least to handle them well. Made good use of her sharply angled CC FH to keep herself in rallies, and hit the ball very well - at least most of the time. But again it was her serve that proved decisive, allowing her to keep herself in the lead when she was coming dangerously close to being outplayed.

I don't see much evidence that Chak has become a brainless ball basher all of a sudden. I think it's clear that she's sticking to her old game plan (to surprise her opponents by suddenly shifting the direction of the ball, even on ROS, opening sharp angles out of the blue, and hitting behind them when they step forward into the court) - only now she's much less successful in implementing it because she's off her game, and contrary to popular belief Chak's game was/is very high risk, requiring a near flawless execution. Maybe it would be time to make some adjustments, unless she's like Petrova and feels it's beneath her to do so. I'm a vocal opponent of over-simplifying "it's all mental" explanations, but Chak is clearly out of sorts. Evidence: played and defended herself superbly on irrelevant points only to throw away decisive ones with stupid errors. And the DFs. Or maybe this was all karma for the tacky tiara. Either way, it really is a shame - Chak was in a category all of her own.

Mightymirza
Jan 22nd, 2009, 11:47 PM
One thing Ive noticed for first time in a while is a few players being upset with the camera pointed at them during changeover. Petrova wanted to hit the guy I think, she complained to the chair umpire :lol:

:haha: is it right? OMG

Shooter
Jan 23rd, 2009, 12:08 AM
Bad jinxes: every single fucken time ive seen Daniela practice or im watch her match (both today's and monday night's matches) my camera battery ALWAYS DIES. without fail, every single damn time its sooo annoying.


Thanks for the long post. A suggestion - bring spare batteries to the tennis matches. My first camera goes through batteries quickly. Used to bring 4 sets of those with me (4 batteries per set). My second camera takes much higher quality batteries which last longer. But I still always bring at least one fully charged spare with me.

Lunaris
Jan 23rd, 2009, 12:10 AM
I didn't see much of Makarova's match against Safina, but I remember her playing at the US Open last year and like you I really liked her groundstrokes, especially backhand which reminded of Rios' backhand. If she continues improving she might become one of my 2nd rate favourite players.

As for Chakvetadze, you are spot on that in this match she played much more like her old self, especially in the first 2 sets. In the 3rd set she was smacking the ball a bit more but still not quite like in 2008. There is a hope for her if she sorts her head out (and sticks to her old style of course).

Nicely written reports as usually. ;)

fufuqifuqishahah
Jan 23rd, 2009, 01:25 AM
Day 3
Safina vs Makarova

Jury still out on whether Makarova plays a high % game, only with flair, or if she only makes her ground game seem high % because of how well she can play it (at least in patches). Either way, she moves the ball around very well, and I think it's undeniable that she's much more entertaining to watch than say Bammer, possibly because you feel Makarova's ultimate aim is to open up the court for a winner, whereas the ultimate goal of Bammer and other such grinders is, what, to bore everyone to death? Makarova returns serve adequately, hits a very clean ball off both sides (uncommon for a lefty) and has pretty, textbook strokes off both sides as well (even more uncommon for a lefty). Serve is OK in terms of pace and placement, and she mixes it up smartly, making it less predictable than that of most lefties. This is the good part; the bad part was of course giving up on the match when the 2nd set wasn't even halfway through. Safina can be very hard to put away when she gets on that groove of scrambling from side to side pumping heavy topspin (as Lena D. and Sharapova have repeatedly found out), but that's hardly an excuse for borderline tanking.



:lol: very true. :p

--

Very nice reports, esp. of the losers in each match.

Corswandt
Jan 23rd, 2009, 09:50 PM
Day 4

Mauresmo vs Baltacha

It's curious how different Lena D.'s status is in standard Tour events and at the Slams. Several tournaments, even upper tier ones, treat her as a big draw (possibly a reward for her hogging commitment to the game), while at the Slams she clearly isn't a priority in terms of pick of courts and of TV time. Possibly trauma induced by past Slam performances? The 2004 RG horror show was nearly five years ago. Wouldn't it be time to move on? Was Ivanovic's laughable performance against Henin at RG 07 ever held against her in this way?

Anyway, I suspect the reason why ES chose to show this instead of Lena D. vs Benesova had more to do with Mauresmo's nationality than anything else.

So we were stuck with this horror show.

Mauresmo is almost painful to watch these days. Of a once compelling game, there's nothing left but faded ruins. She's still a great defender, but her movement, particularly her forward movement, just isn't what it used to be. Serve is now predictable (even though it can still do some damage on occasion), DFs galore, FH was simply a mess (particularly in the 1st set), and she's now almost wholly ineffective at the net. Actually, she was more successful in discomfiting Baltacha with her deep, zero pace FH moonballs than with anything else. Her net approaches failed dismally for the most - she was passed several times, and in other occasions she was just too slow to react and completely botched the volley.

As for Baltacha, her ground game was better than I expected it to be, with powerful, deep shots (though Mauresmo's puffballs can be near ideal to tee off) - in patches. Serve quite good (near impossible to read, as well) - in patches. Then all of a sudden she would begin overhitting everything and DFing her way to a loss. Her backswing on both sides seemed a bit stiff, and she had difficulties in changing the direction of the ball with her BH, but I'll leave to the more technically inclined people the task of pinpointing what exactly is wrong with Baltacha's strokes. Some players, like say Domachowska, have made a career out of being this point-by-point inconsistent, but Baltacha seriously needs to clean up her game if she's ever to climb out of the #80-120 limbo. Be that as it may, Baltacha arguably has more game than Keothavong, dealt adequately with some of the most unusual/old skool aspects of Mauresmo's game (her block/chip ROS for instance), and even showed herself to be resourceful in a few points here and there, so if she keeps away from injuries she may improve her current ranking somewhat.

Serena Williams vs Dulko

Dulko is an extremely wily player - she had a near perfect game plan, and attempted to execute it to the best of her abilities. Too bad her abilities are quite limited. Said game plan consisted of serving well, hitting flat, keeping the ball away from Serena at all times so as to never give her any puffballs to attack, and to go for it whenever she found an opening for a winner. Dulko's tactical skills are considerable, to the extent that she can be competitive against opponents with much more game - she surprises you at every turn. She moves well enough for the kind of game she plays, and her wide swing FH is a thing of beauty - she made good use of it to hit quick, unexpected winners when required. I wonder if the wide swing is a way to generate pace through leverage effect, since throwing her body weight behind her shots like so many other players do isn't an option for her (she weighs what, a tenth of Serena?).

Serena is nowhere near her best (the "peak" of all those retarded GM threads), which she seems to reach about once every two years anyway. She struggles whenever she's forced to play anything other than the "big serve and even bigger returns" game she likes so much. Serve bailed her out as usual, and on ROS she again displayed extremely lazy footwork - but when she had her feet firmly planted and managed to lock on target, WHAM!

Serena can muscle back a deep, very heavy ball even from the tightest defensive positions, proper footwork and form be damned, and this means she's much harder to put away than it may seem - particularly in the early season, when she's still relatively fresh.

Carla Suarez Navarro vs Venus Williams

This match provided ample evidence that Venus has gone too far in cleaning up her ground game by making it more conservative. Continuing to go for broke in every single shot was a recipe for 80+ UEs trainwrecks, given her crassly rudimentary strokes, but she had seemed to find a better balance between agressiveness and consistency during last year's YEC. Yesterday Venus' shots had nothing on them, and I'm sure just about anyone could have bossed her around from the baseline for most of the match, even if they ended up losing 7-5, 6-3. Unfortunately for Venus, she had someone playing out of her mind on the other side of the net. Carla Suarez Navarro (CSN) had much the same game plan that Pennetta used against Venus at RG last year - heavy topspin (the sound coming off CSN's racquet really is unique) shots off both sides to keep the ball deep, dictate whenever possible to prevent Venus from entering the court, and move Venus around by opening angles.

CSN seems to have worked on some of her shortcomings - she simply didn't have a 2nd serve last year, for instance. Serve as a whole was upgraded from "haha" to "meh". Her court coverage will always remain merely adequate due to her stocky build, but her defensive game is sufficient considering that she'll dictate more often than not. Great composure, and some smart tactical options - Venus' serve wasn't up to snuff, granted, but CSN dealt with Venus' Wonder Weapon (the body serve) better than many veterans - she stood a bit further back to return serve, and stepped back as soon as she read the direction of the serve. Only her wide swings prevented her ROS from being even more effective.

But if CSN can play this good, why did she, after her RG run, suck so relentlessly for the remainder of the season, including losses to such legends of the game as Camille Pin and Lapushchenkova? My guess is that yesterday was exceptional. Even at RG, while she displayed some great shotmaking in her 2R match vs Mauresmo, later on against Jankovic she was just a mess. This doesn't mean that she'll be back at losing to the Zakopalovas of this world in a few weeks (hopefully not), but I fear that she can't be expected to consistently perform at this level. She was hitting the ball beautifully yesterday - tomorrow, we'll see.

First spoilers today. Why can't I download the damned OOP from the AO website without being bombarded with the previous day's results in about ten different places on the screen? I'll only have time to watch yesterday's night session tomorrow, yet I already know who won. :mad:

Shonami Slam
Jan 23rd, 2009, 10:27 PM
thanks again, love reading your reports.
reminds me of how much i hope for a better 40-120 ranked players...

fufuqifuqishahah
Jan 23rd, 2009, 11:24 PM
Day 4

Serena Williams vs Dulko

Dulko is an extremely wily player - she had a near perfect game plan, and attempted to execute it to the best of her abilities. Too bad her abilities are quite limited.


:haha:


Carla Suarez Navarro vs Venus Williams

This match provided ample evidence that Venus has gone too far in cleaning up her ground game by making it more conservative. Continuing to go for broke in every single shot was a recipe for 80+ UEs trainwrecks, given her crassly rudimentary strokes, but she had seemed to find a better balance between agressiveness and consistency during last year's YEC. Yesterday Venus' shots had nothing on them, and I'm sure just about anyone could have bossed her around from the baseline for most of the match, even if they ended up losing 7-5, 6-3.

I totally agree. I was watching this match and thinking, she's moving really well, but she has nothing on her shots + the shots weren't placed well. Therefore, I felt like I was watching a less strategic version of Jankovic with a stronger serve.


Keep this up! Well written, not unreasonably biased; I really enjoy this. :D

miss_molik
Jan 24th, 2009, 12:37 AM
Not quite the optimist, eh?

I reckon. He sounds like my mother:o
A bit harsh on Jelena

starin
Jan 24th, 2009, 12:50 AM
Day 4

Mauresmo vs Baltacha

It's curious how different is Lena D.'s status in standard Tour events and at the Slams. Several standard Tour events treat her as a big draw (possibly a reward for her hogging commitment to the game), while at the Slams she clearly isn't a priority in terms of pick of courts and of TV time. Possibly trauma induced by past performances at Slams? The 2004 RG horror show was nearly five years ago. Wouldn't it be time to move on? Was Ivanovic's laughable performance against Henin at RG 07 ever held against her in this way?

Anyway, I suspect the reason why ES chose to show this instead of Lena D. vs Benesova had more to do with Mauresmo's nationality than anything else.

Mauresmo is almost painful to watch these days. Of a once compelling game, there's nothing left but faded ruins. She's still a great defender, but her movement, particularly her forward movement, just isn't what it used to be. Serve is now predictable (even though it can still do some damage on occasion), DFs galore, FH was simply a mess (particularly in the 1st set), and she's now almost wholly ineffective at the net. Actually, she was more successful in discomfiting Baltacha with her deep, zero pace FH moonballs than with anything else. Her net approaches failed dismally for the most - she was passed several times, and in other occasions she was just too slow to react and completely botched the volley.

As for Baltacha, her ground game was better than I expected it to be, with powerful, deep shots (though Mauresmo's puffballs can be near ideal to tee off) - in patches. Serve quite good (near impossible to read, as well) - in patches. Then all of a sudden she would begin overhitting everything and DFing her way to a loss. Her backswing on both sides seemed a bit stiff, and she had difficulties in changing the direction of the ball with her BH, but I'll leave to the more technically inclined people the task of pinpointing what exactly is wrong with Baltacha's strokes. Some players, like say Domachowska, have made a career out of being this point-by-point inconsistent, but Baltacha seriously needs to clean up her game if she's ever to climb out of the #80-120 limbo. Be that as it may, Baltacha arguably has more game than Keothavong, dealt adequately with some of the most unusual/old skool aspects of Mauresmo's game (her block/chip ROS for instance), and even showed herself to be resourceful in a few points here and there, so if she keeps away from injuries she may improve her current ranking somewhat.

Serena Williams vs Dulko

Dulko is an extremely wily player - she had a near perfect game plan, and attempted to execute it to the best of her abilities. Too bad her abilities are quite limited. Said game plan consisted of serving well, keeping the ball away from Serena at all times so as to never give her any puffballs to attack, and to go for it whenever she found an opening for a winner. Dulko's tactical skills are considerable, to the extent that she can be competitive against opponents with much more game - she surprises you at every turn. She moves well enough for the kind of game she plays, and her wide swing FH is a thing of beauty - she made good use of it to hit quick, unexpected winners when required. I wonder if the wide swing is a way to generate pace through leverage effect, since throwing her body weight behind her shots like so many other players do isn't an option for her (she weighs what, a tenth of Serena?).

Serena is nowhere near her best (the "peak" of all those retarded GM threads), which she seems to reach about once every two years anyway. She struggles whenever she's forced to play anything other than the "big serve and even bigger returns" game she likes so much. Serve bailed her out as usual, and on ROS she again displayed extremely lazy footwork - but when she had her feet firmly planted and managed to lock on target, WHAM!

Serena can muscle back a deep, very heavy ball even from the tightest defensive positions, proper footwork and form be damned, and this means she's much harder to put away than it may seem - particularly in the early season, when she's still relatively fresh.

Carla Suarez Navarro vs Venus Williams

This match provided ample evidence that Venus has gone too far in cleaning up her ground game by making it more conservative. Continuing to go for broke in every single shot was a recipe for 80+ UEs trainwrecks, given her crassly rudimentary strokes, but she had seemed to find a better balance between agressiveness and consistency during last year's YEC. Yesterday Venus' shots had nothing on them, and I'm sure just about anyone could have bossed her around from the baseline for most of the match, even if they ended up losing 7-5, 6-3. Unfortunately for Venus, she had someone playing out of her mind on the other side of the net. Carla Suarez Navarro (CSN) had much the same game plan that Pennetta used against Venus at RG last year - heavy topspin (the sound coming off CSN's racquet really is unique) shots off both sides to keep the ball deep, dictate whenever possible to prevent Venus from entering the court, and move Venus around by opening angles.

CSN seems to have worked on some of her shortcomings - she simply didn't have a 2nd serve last year, for instance. Serve as a whole was upgraded from "haha" to "meh". Her court coverage will always remain merely adequate due to her stocky build, but her defensive game is sufficient considering that she'll dictate more often than not. Great composure, and some - Venus' serve wasn't up to snuff, granted, but CSN dealt with Venus' Wonder Weapon (the body serve) better than many veterans - she stood a bit further back to return serve, and stepped back as soon as she read the direction of the serve. Only her wide swings prevented her ROS from being even more effective.

But if CSN can play this good, why did she, after her RG run, suck so relentlessly for the remainder of the season, including losses to such legends of the game as Pin and Lapushchenkova? Simple answer: yesterday was exceptional. Even at RG, while she displayed some great shotmaking in her 2R match vs Mauresmo, later on against Jankovic she was just a mess. This doesn't mean that she'll be back at losing to the Zakopalovas of this world in a few weeks (hopefully not), but I fear that she can't be expected to consistently perform at this level. She was hitting the ball beautifully yesterday - tomorrow, we'll see.

First spoilers today. Why can't I download the damned OOP from the AO website without being bombarded with the previous day's results in about ten different places on the screen? I'll only have time to watch yesterday's night session tomorrow, yet I already know who won. :mad:

I don't always agree w/ you but this is spot on.

Venus was basically a pusher at times and her tactics were questionable. Why keep getting into cross court backhand rallies w/ CSN when she kept missing the DTL and was ripping the angled cc backhand beautifully. i agree she needs to find a balance between making 70 UE and just allowing her opponent to dictate play all day. There are enough big hitters on tour that they will eventually realize that if someone like CSN can push Venus around so can they. As for CSN, I agree that this has one match wonder written all over it. She's 20 years old, and after her run at RG did absolutely nothing. She may well make it further cuz Venus draw to QF was weak but after the AO I don't expect her to continue to play like that.
And Serena nothing more to add.

Great stuff again.

SIN DIOS NI LEY
Jan 24th, 2009, 03:08 AM
I always thought the same about Dulko , she knows how to play the game but something doesn´t work in her tennis ---> lack or force- power

peanuts
Jan 24th, 2009, 01:31 PM
But if CSN can play this good, why did she, after her RG run, suck so relentlessly for the remainder of the season, including losses to such legends of the game as Pin and Lapushchenkova?


:lol: Good read as usual. Love the sarcasm. :)

Corswandt
Jan 24th, 2009, 09:51 PM
Day 5

Safina vs Kanepi

Not much to say about this one. Kanepi is one of those players who seems firmly convinced that she sucks, despite all evidence to the contrary. I remember her being competitive against Safina in Rome back in 07, but yesterday she was up against the worst possible matchup for any player: someone who plays much the same game, only much better. There wasn't much she could do.

Errani

Nothing but a pusher, yet she'll win nearly all the MM events that she wants. Things haven't changed that much from the days of Smashnova I guess.There was talk about lasso FHs a while back in GM: here's another player who does it all the time.

Cornet vs Hantuchova

Cornet's game is aggressively unexceptional. I guess her ability to quickly move in any direction is remarkable, and her ability to whip back deep moonballs from far behind the baseline and awkward defensive positions is most useful. Good flat serve to the deuce court - won her several points outright. But her 2nd serve is crap (even an out of sorts Hantuchova was all over it), her shots from the baseline as a whole are mediocre, and her BH is one of the ugliest strokes I've ever seen.

I suppose good movement, good defense skills and average shots will go a long way these days. But as far as I'm concerned, Cornet is a 10€ Errani to which someone mistakenly put a 5.000€ price tag.

Hantuchova - playing at 60% of her abilities seems like a fair estimate. ROS was crap, footwork twice as bad as it was in 07.

Jankovic vs Sugiyama

Not even Sugiyama could make Jankovic's form look good. :help: Still, knowing she'll no longer have to face Ivanovic will do wonders for her confidence.

Dokic vs Wozniacki

The early 00s comes back to kick the late 00s up the pants.

For all the talk (or better, for all the complaints) about how the Tour these days consists solely of "ballbashers", players with Dokic's characteristics (able to hit a deep, flat ball off both sides and to generate their own pace through good technique and flawless timing) are unfortunately few. This also means that, contrary to what is often claimed, players such as Wozniacki aren't used or even trained to face them (she was looking despondent, befuddled and at a loss as to what to do almost from the beginning of the match).

Wozniacki's main shortcoming - the total lack of weapons off the ground - was again exposed. Dokic hit into her technically flawed FH time and again until it broke down completely in the 3rd set. Wozniacki was comprehensively overpowered, and her moonballs and loopy, harmless puffballs were relentlessly punished by a far superior shotmaker. Wozniacki gives away few if any free points on ROS, and handles pace very well, which helped considerably when facing Serena a week ago, but yesterday her passivity, visible helplessness and inability to turn defense into offensive were complete.

Sexiest match in living memory BTW.

Kleybanova vs Ivanovic

Who would have thought that Ivanovic being taken out by a lower ranked player would effectively mean the triumph of shotmaking over junk?

A few days ago, I labelled Kleybanova an "ambush" player: unsuited for consistent success, but capable of scoring great wins in a good day - she really has the game to beat anyone. But she actually played a less crazy-ass, more restrained game than she usually does: placed her 1st serve somewhat more conservatively the get more 1st serves in and thus prevent Ivanovic from using one of her few remaining effective weapons (the ultra-aggressive ROS), fewer low % winners out of the blue, choosing instead to play a more controlled aggression by relentlessly pummeling Ivanovic's BH side. Uses her (considerable) body mass to hit a big ball even when out of balance and on the run, and fought like the devil.

Ivanovic's answer to this was to reach Serena Williams levels of grating hystrionics, almost never to go for her shots, and to scramble from side to side slicing and moonballing until Kleybanova (hopefully) missed (Ivanovic herself hit few errors for her standards, and there were many long rallies). And of course to bullshit her way to the net - lost a few important points there, as Kleybanova managed to muscle back a few passing shots from defensive positions. Some points became chaotic all-court scraps due to Ivanovic's framed/poorly timed shots landing before the service line. Should have been over in two.

This match really should make everyone question the wiseness of marketing Ivanovic as the face of the Tour. I'll say no further about this subject, as my opinion is already very well known - too much so, I guess.

Corswandt
Jan 26th, 2009, 10:41 PM
Day 6

Serena Williams vs Peng

Routine/never in doubt, even though Serena was (more than once?) down a break.

I remember Peng playing a much more exciting game than she does now (HK exho 07?) - she used to be one of those scary good shotmakers, like Mirza, hitting rockets that landed right at the baseline. She seems to play a more conservative game now, and if this may help her achieve more consistent results in the future, it isn't of much use when playing against Serena.

Azarenka vs Mauresmo

Poor Shrieky Vicky. There's no way around it - with that gratingly piercing shriek, generic game, bad attitude and bland looks, she'll never be a crowd favourite. She does, as some other people have pointed out, play a mitigated version of Sharapova's game: Sharapova hits every shot the same way, very hard and very close to the lines, Vika also hits every shot the same way, only not as hard and not as close to the lines. She has now achieved a remarkable consistency in her ground game, and this means she also beats scrubs with remarkable consistency. Her usually very high 1st serve % (a consequence of not going for outright aces/service winners, but rather for a 1st serve good enough to begin every rally from an advantageous position - she's a bit like Hantuchova in that regard) also helps. In this match, she dealt with Mauresmo's tricky junk OK for the most, though I've seen her do it better in other matches, and was patient in the baseline rallies. Some good 2-handed BH volleys à la Kirilenko. Went for broke with her serve for once when it was time to close out the match - smart Vika.

Mauresmo wasn't as awfully erratic as in her previous match, but she played quite poorly nonetheless (those shanks!). She did managed to mix her serve up a bit (the odd good slider to the deuce court), and had some ideas as to how to discomfit Vika - wicked slices to Vika's shakier FH side, but she stopped doing so when she noticed Vika was just topspinning them back with some ease. I wouldn't be getting too hopeful about Mauresmo's chances for this season. Credit for her for continuing to play when her decline has been undeniable for a couple of years now though, when so many others often don't seem all too interested in competing in the Tour.

Kuznetsova vs A. Bondarenko

Kuznetsova hit 40-UEs-40 and still won the 1st set :help:

ES switched to this very late on the 1st set, and as there were quite a few lengthy rallies, the part ES showed was probably the best of it.

Alone is one of the few grinders I happen to enjoy watching play - smooth movement, gorgeous and always effective running FH (the way she can always whip back just about anything from that side, with depth and accuracy to boot, is astonishing; it's simply one of the unsung wonders of the WTA).

Nevertheless, I was disappointed with A. Bondarenko's tactics on this match. She's a more than decent ballstriker, with smooth, clean strokes off both sides, yet she never stepped inside the court or attempted to dictate play. "Do something!", I kept thinking. Kuznetsova wasn't missing any more, and Alona was letting her both find a rhythm and boss her around from just inside the baseline by moving her side to side until she either had an open court or Alona simply couldn't get there any more. But come to think of it, Alona probably couldn't play a different game even if she tried. Scurrying from side to side deep behind the baseline sending everything back is her game. There isn't much else to it. Still, it's odd how a player with such a solid game loses to scrubs so often.

Late in the 2nd, when she had nothing to lose, she went for her shots a bit more, but it was too late and all she could do was to delay the inevitable defeat. Ironic that a player known for the reliability of her 2nd serve lost the match on a DF.

As for Kuznetsova, who Alona mostly let play her game, she was hitting the ball very well at times, and actually used her BH as a kill shot more often than the FH. Serve is working well enough. A contender?

OK, you can all stop laughing now.

Dementieva vs Stosur

Stosur was her usual self - groundstrokes work when hitting 1-2 good FHs is all that is required. When it's not enough, down come the fumbled strokes and the cringeworthy errors. Willing to come to the net in the finest old skool style even though she doesn't know how to volley. Choked.

Lena D. was meh. Letting Stosur dictate from the baseline = :help: Threw away a whole game with random FH errors IIRC, BH timing still off (pushed more than hit some of them). Might have been even uglier if Stosur hadn't choked so bad when it was time to close out the 1st. Intermittently brilliant play later on (those CC FHs!). She still hasn't been as aggressive as one would have wanted her to be this season.

Corswandt
Jan 26th, 2009, 10:43 PM
Day 7

Bartoli vs Jankovic

Screw fitness, fat is where it's at: Bartoli, Kleybanova, Serena, all kicking ass.

Not much to say about this one. Jankovic seemed spent, wholly without energy or fire, or even motivation, from the beginning of this tournament, and Bartoli really is a horrible matchup for her. Jankovic's puffballs bounce right into Marion's hitting zone, and Laver soon became a firing range, with Marion swinging that big ass racquet of hers as if it was a battleaxe. There are also some specifics: Marion is quite vulnerable to wrongfooters, but those can be a bit difficult to pull off when one hits DTL by default like Jankovic does. And other stuff I can't remember because I was laughing all the way through this match.

Jankovic was wholly unable to turn things around - a sitting duck. Marion never seemed to doubt that she was going to wipe the floor with her (she openly vented her disappointment at not having got the bagel in the 1st).

Safina vs Cornet

I think I've finally got it re: Cornet: it's craftyness and court sense. But that, as illustrated by The Rise and Fall of Anna Chakvetadze, will only get you this far in today's Tour. I suppose this performance increased her value to about 50€, even tough most of that is due to Safina's suckitude - so bad it was reminiscent of Petrova at her loony worst (and that is saying something). She was going for too much with her FH and for too little with her BH throughout.

Remarkable how Cornet's horrid claycourt strokes didn't fall apart (at least not much) even when being pummelled on a hardcourt by such a big hitter as Safina.

Safina buried herself in crass, needless errors for the equivalent of more than two full sets, and still won :help: This was reminiscent of some of Sharapova's early round horror shows at Slams in recent years in that she was already hanging over the abyss when she realized she had to stop and keep the ball in. And that proved enough to pull through in the end - it's not like Cornet had much to hurt her with.

Zvonareva vs Petrova

I wish I had seen more of this.

Petrova was serving superbly, perhaps better than she ever did outdoors (probably the reason why she saved all those BPs), but her FH was the usual embarrassment. Zvonareva seems nowhere near her sparkling late 08 form, but has played enough to do the business so far.

Dokic vs Kleybanova

Thank you country doctor's daughter, thank you fat slob, thank you washed up Serbian-Australian-Serbian-Australian-Serbian-and Australian back again, for putting up such a show.

People by now should know what I like. And me likes this.

Dokic was a bit more up and down, Kleybanova more consistent - as in consistently very good, with flashes of brilliance.

Kleybanova played awesomely. As other people have remarked, she hits nearly every shot while out of balance, yet still hits with great power, consistent depth and uncanny accuracy. Scary, out of the blue all-or-nothing sharply angled winners from defensive positions. She's not a flat out ace server, but for consistent quality she probably has few equals. Three hours of play, lots of deuces, yet there were next to no lapses: 1st serve always fast and nearly always right on the line, 2nd serve almost always good. Even when Dokic was playing out of her mind, she still found it genuinely difficult to break Kleybanova. Hohoho she's fat, but if Dokic or anybody else was expecting Kleybanova's let's say substandard fitness to affect her, they had to wait until the very last couple of games - after three hours of a hard-fought battle.

Dokic improved significantly from her previous performances - excellent ROS considering how big Kleybanova was serving, missed very few shots due to poor footwork, hit some very good slices and volleys, serve became unreliable here and there but it held when it mattered. Her ballstriking left me :eek: at times. Those DTL winners over the highest part of the net :drool: Vicious CC FHs to keep herself in rallies, and just let it rip at anything that bounced above waist high.

Corswandt
Jan 27th, 2009, 11:04 PM
Day 8

Dementieva vs Cibulkova

It's a basic rule that the worst possible matchup for a player is someone who plays much the same game, only better, which would seem an accurate description of the Lena D./Cibulkova matchup. Still, this could well not have been so simple, as Lena D. can struggle (and lose) against grinders when she's playing on autopilot, and the H2H of this particular matchup was split at 1-1 until now.

But to her credit, Lena D. didn't attempt to outgrind Cibulkova. Her game plan was simply to overpower her by hitting very deep, blasting FH winners and rushing the net top finish off points when possible. Cibulkova isn't the same player on hardcourts that she is on clay - on hard, it's possible to hit through her, so Lena D.'s game plan wasn't as foolhardy as it might seem in theory. Cibulkova's 3/4 pace, 3/4 depth groundstrokes can be ideal for her opponent to play herself into a rhythm - in Lena D.'s case, this meant finding the ideal timing on her BH and to begin going for broke with her FH. Lena D.'s FH, though I've often argued that it isn't, by itself, the weapon of mass destruction it's made out to be, is a weapon that Cibulkova can't possibly match, and when it's fully working it makes Lena D. one of finest baseliners in the game.

She also served well for any standards, let alone her own (I chuckled at those 2 consecutive aces to get to SP) - which also shows that Cibulkova was unable to put any kind of pressure over Lena D. through her ROS. An excellent performance overall, possibly her best of this season so far, with some fabulous shotmaking.

As for Cibulkova, I've seen her play worse than this. She's the kind of player who'll never play "bad", but simply can't do brilliant, even though I suppose the unbelievably hectic pace at which some of the rallies in this match were played can be filed under "brilliance". She'll never win free points off her own 1st serve, and her 2nd is what might be expected. Odd that, for once in a Lena D. match, it was her opponent who seemed to be on autopilot: for instance, I kept thinking "CC BH rallies? Do you really think you can beat Lena D. at that, Domi?" The first time I saw Cibulkova play, one of the things I noticed was her aggressive ROS - but that probably was a one-off, as I've seen her several times later on getting served off the court (a problem typical of very small players - Olivier Rochus tended to get aced lots). She's an expert in passing shots, but often botched apparently easy ones yesterday. Became more aggressive when she no longer had anything to lose, and that, more than Lena D.'s "choking", accounted for a couple of additional games in the 2nd.

Serena Williams vs Azarenka

Up until now, Azarenka tended to play much the same consistent game when facing scrubs or the elite, which led to routine 6-1, 6-2 wins over the former and to routine 6-4, 6-2 losses to the latter.

But yesterday was different - Vika went for more with her 1st serve (while still serving at a very high % as usual), and kept the ball away from Serena by hitting deep, sharply angled CC from both sides, much more often than she usually does. Good ROS, superb depth and accuracy in all of her shots, flashbacks of Sharapova's BH, good point construction, made teeing off Serena's heavy topspin shots look easy (it isn't), even served out the 1st set (!). She was looking like a world beater out there for a while.

Serena doesn't really need to make adjustements depending on which opponent she's facing, as her game is big enough to beat anyone - if it's working, that is. But it would make her life easier at times - why did she keep serving into Azarenka's BH when it's clear she returns about twice as well from that side? Add some subpar serving and she was looking very much like a sitting duck.

That point Serena lost at the net because she insisted on trying to hit Azarenka with the ball instead of aiming for the open court was funny - until I remembered that it might not be too good for the game to have its top active player acting like a crass brawler.

Early 2nd set, predictable drop in Azarenka's levels of concentration, FH falls apart, and down a break she goes. But she kept holding serve after that, and just when Serena's own serve seemed to be gone...

Shrieky Vicky clearly isn't the luckiest of players, and all these heartbreaks and missed opportunities will inevitably begin to take their toll.

Langers
Jan 27th, 2009, 11:42 PM
How can you bag crowds? Im not even joking when I say that for a few days you were UNABLE to see some action on an outside court because there were people everywhere. Example, Lucie's 2nd round match standing went about 5-6 people deep.

Low crowds? :lol: Watch them set another record. Day 3 I think it was, you couldn't get into MCA, SC2.

Lunaris
Jan 28th, 2009, 12:41 AM
I thought Kleybanova's 2nd serve wasn't that impressive. She was basically pushing it into play. Although most of the time it was quite well placed and rotated.
As for Cibulkova's ROS. She disapponted me at this tournament. Usually is standing inside the court, even against big servers like Petrova. But here she looked rather passive.

Corswandt
Jan 28th, 2009, 11:29 PM
Kuznetsova

A contender?

OK, you can all stop laughing now.

See what I meant?

Day 9

Whoever is reading this may ask: "You've become less whiny as the tournament went on - you actually sound enthusiastic at times. Changed your mind about the state of the game?"

Not really. I still think that the enduring decline in competitiveness at the very top of the game and the lack of new talent is undermining the credibility of the Tour as a whole, and that casual viewers may drift away in the long run if things don't improve significantly - if the economic crisis doesn't force the Tour to undergo some serious downsizing that is, and possibly much sooner than we expect.

It's that just that this time it was mostly players who I happened to like who took advantage of the void.

Zvonareva vs Bartoli

One of the most extreme WTA matchups that doesn't involve Ivanovic. No matter how well Bartoli plays, the outcome is never in doubt: Zvonareva's game seems tailor-made to dismantle her.

It seemed things might go differently - Zvonareva started off completely cold, and played a very sloppy first game to get herself broken. Bartoli was hitting the ball with the same confidence she had displayed in her rape of Jankovic, and twice she found herself up a break. But she failed to win another game.

Zvonareva defends and above all anticipates so well that Bartoli simply can't hit through her unless at the end of a lengthy rally, and can also counterattack by abruptly shifting the direction of the ball and/or opening angles even from defensive positions. Bottom line Bartoli's Plan A is completely useless against Zvonareva - and she has no Plan B.

Throughout the 1st set, Bartoli avoided hitting into Zvonareva's FH side - not only because Zvonareva's FH is such a versatile shot, but also because she can defend herself better from that side. But the best Bartoli could achieve was to stalemate the rallies into neutral CC BH drill, and again that failed to discomfit Zvonareva.

Early in the 2nd set, Bartoli was showing signs of losing focus: she began rallying from just inside the baseline instead of remaining behind it so as to take some time away from Zvonareva, but kept hitting with more or less the same depth, and so everything sailed long.

Having once more completely neutralized Bartoli with some ease, Zvonareva loosened up and closed out the match in fine style.

Safina vs Dokic

Typical bad match between two slow big hitters who can't quite handle each other's pace. Not a "strike first or die" match with all points decided in 1-2 shots like say the almost painfully uncompelling Sharapova/Ivanovic matchup, but there were few good rallies.

Dokic's BH was a disaster, particularly on ROS - she just couldn't handle Safina's high-bouncing kickers, even though they don't look particularly vicious. But in general, Safina's deep, heavy topspin shots are tougher to handle than say Wozniacki's puffbals, which have nothing on them.

If you look closely, Safina's actual game hasn't improved that much from 2007 - or even early 2006. Its strengths and flaws remain the same. She's just more experienced and more confident. But she was all up and down on this match. Got broken when serving to stay on the 2nd set with two consecutive DFs when she had closed her previous service game at love, and had played brilliantly to break Dokic when she served for the 2nd set. Her FH was again exposed as a liability on faster surfaces - time and again it leaked crass errors, and Dokic's standard tactic was to pin Safina to her FH side by hitting sharply angled CC FHs into it before risking a DTL FH winner into the open court.

But after dropping the 2nd set in such an unimpressive way, Safina stopped missing and began playing the more defensive game her improved fitness now allows her to play and which has served her so well in the recent past (RG 08, for instance). Dokic had game points in all the games in the 3rd set, didn't she? I guess Safina played the decisive points better - an euphemism for occasionally if not mostly outplayed but pulled through in the end.

Corswandt
Jan 28th, 2009, 11:32 PM
How can you bag crowds?

Because I CAN. So now any criticism of the tournament amounts to lèse majesté against Australia?

Seriously - check the footage of the day in which I was said that, if you still have it. It was much like yesterday - with the extreme heat, the stands at the show courts all had sizeable empty patches.

Corswandt
Jan 28th, 2009, 11:38 PM
I thought Kleybanova's 2nd serve wasn't that impressive. She was basically pushing it into play. Although most of the time it was quite well placed and rotated.

Something to do with spin that got lost in translation?

Anyways, Kleybanova's 2nd serve may not be a weapon of mass destruction, but being able to rely on always hitting a decent 2nd serve (Kleybanova hit what, 1 DF in the whole match?* And Dokic hit few if any ROS winners IIRC) may make the difference in achieving consistent results. Which BTW Kleybanova already had - check her 2008 record and you'll notice there aren't as many bad losses as you'd expect from a young, inexperienced player with a big game.

*Checked the stats, it was 3.

Mattographer
Jan 28th, 2009, 11:41 PM
I went to Rod Laver Arena for the first time to watch Dokic vs. Chakvetadze and I'm amazed at how freakin' small the Arena is! :eek: It's almost as big as the Sydney centre court. I told one of my tennis friends about it and he thought the same!

forever1997
Jan 28th, 2009, 11:42 PM
http://tennisforum.com/showthread.php?t=366708

Better thread.

Direwolf
Jan 29th, 2009, 01:20 AM
I think that this is the first Major that we
have 3 new semifinals in a given slam

or does anyone know more info??

Corswandt
Jan 29th, 2009, 10:47 PM
Day 10

Dementieva vs Carla Suarez Navarro (CSN)

During the first four games CSN was as much a spectator of this match as we were. In her previous Slam QF she played awful throughout; yesterday she seemed shell-shocked. Dementieva was making her look like a useless moonballer. She couldn't handle Dementieva's pace (lots of badly timed shots as a consequence, particularly on the BH side, where CSN needs some additional time to set up) and couldn't keep the ball away from Dementieva's FH often enough.

CSN eventually regrouped, and the match was actually tighter than the score indicates, as CSN wasted too many BPs with random errors. When she managed to dictate, you could see that she has point building skills considerably superior to Dementieva's (yeah, I know - who doesn't).

CSN's topspin isn't the heavy, vicious kind that say Safina uses and which makes it difficult for anyone who isn't as powerful as Serena Williams to attack her shots. It's much more innocuous, and mostly aims at merely keeping the ball in. It effectively allowed Dementieva to play the same aggressive game she had played against Cibulkova.

Unlike so many other young players, I don't think kill shots from the baseline are what CSN needs. She has enough firepower for the game she plays. What she'd probably need would be better court coverage - Dementieva hit through her almost at will. She'll always be in trouble when she's up against an opponent who can keep herself in those sharply angled CC exchanges, and hit with more bite - as Dementieva often did with her CC FH. Since CSN won't always be able to dictate, she could use some better defense.

One thing I thought I'd never see was Dementieva showing confidence in her own serve. How else could you explain the way in which she tanked a couple of return games?

Serena Williams vs Kuznetsova

Once a bridesmaid, always a bridesmaid.

I actually thought Kuznetsova had a shot at this (considering that, unlike say Safina, she can actually be competitive against Serena outside of clay, and also considering the previous performances of both I had seen) - if she played well. She played meh (occasionally very good, but mostly mediocre - lazy footwork on the BH side, and I've seen her serve better), and still came close to winning. But I guess that was due more to Serena's (again) subpar serving for her standards, particularly in the 2nd set, and overall awfulness, than anything else. Given that Kuznetsova has quick, very compact strokes, I'd expect her to try to be aggressive even in high intensity rallies, but I guess those bad Spanish habits are difficult to lose.

Again, being pushed against the ropes forced Serena to wake up, stop engaging in topspin rallies, and play a more explosive game. In this she was successful (she tends to be so when the stakes are higher), and Kuznetsova was blown clean off the court.

sammy01
Jan 29th, 2009, 11:41 PM
i loved reading all your reports, i look forward to your semi reports and the lack of a decent semi or crowd.

peanuts
Jan 30th, 2009, 01:12 AM
Thanks for the reports! I don't agree with some of them but overall you made a good analysis of each player's game. I am curious as to what you have to say about LenaD vs Serena semifinal. :)

HenryMag.
Jan 30th, 2009, 08:57 PM
Always a pleasure to read :yeah:

Corswandt
Jan 30th, 2009, 09:45 PM
I am curious as to what you have to say about LenaD vs Serena semifinal. :)

Not much, unfortunately.

I'm surprised that so many people complain that Lena played shite and let Serena get away with playing shite herself.

Lena D. wasn't consistently aggressive because Serena didn't give her many chances to do so. Lena was either being made to run side to side after Serena swung away at her crap serves on her service games or attempting to return 180 km/h+ bombs on her return games. Lena played her limited game to the best of her abilities, but it wasn't enough.

Serena spent most of the time pumping those deep, heavy topspin shots with plenty of pace that allowed her to control most rallies without taking that many risks. When it was time to do so (take risks) she did.

As for Serena's errors, she isn't Hingis, so she'll always make lots of them. All the botched ROS are also a direct consequence of her game - since she knows she'll hold comfortably most of the time, she can afford to swing away on return. No point in letting herself get dragged into rallies in games she doesn't actually need to win. When she needs a break, she's more careful to actually get her returns back into play.

As always, "the serve isn't decisive in the women's game unless the opponents are otherwise evenly matched".

As for Safina vs Zvonareva, it would have been anticlimactic even if we didn't know they were playing for RU. Nobody plays badly against Zvonareva (I've given my take on why this is so several times before), but Safina came close. Zvonareva was a disappointment. By and large she let Safina overpower her.

HRHoliviasmith
Jan 30th, 2009, 09:55 PM
good stuff.

who do you think is going to win tommorrow and why?

Corswandt
Jan 30th, 2009, 10:02 PM
who do you think is going to win tommorrow and why?

Serena in a blowout.

Matchup, current form, everything. This has very, very little chance of being competitive.

sammy01
Jan 30th, 2009, 10:19 PM
Serena in a blowout.

Matchup, current form, everything. This has very, very little chance of being competitive.

i agree, what does safina do better than serena on a hardcourt, the answer is nothing. so if serena is in any sort of form its a straight sets win for her.

Corswandt
Feb 1st, 2009, 11:18 PM
Serena in a blowout.

Matchup, current form, everything. This has very, very little chance of being competitive.

As expected. I was genuinely surprised that so many people expected anything other than a one-sided massacre.

Again Serena faced a slowpoke with an unreliable serve in an AO final, and her game plan was the same as in 07: me hit big winner now. And since she was extremely sharp, again it worked.

Safina's only possible answer to Serena was to attempt to outhit her from the baseline, even though she plays that game about only one third as well. There were also some specifics (Safina's FH isn't suited to high intensity rallies on fast surfaces; she needs a lot of time on that side), but who cares. A handful of all-or-nothing BH winners here and there, and not much else.

I claimed Safina had a top 10 game when for most people in here it was as if she didn't exist, but #1? Slam winner? No way. She may get there at the present rate, but it will be yet another sign of the weakness of the Tour.

Safina has taken huge beatings before - she'll live. She has enough sense of perspective to realize that she was simply hopelessly outmatched in this Slam final.

Anyway, the WTA gets this embarrassment between a player who played like crap all tournament and another who played like crap for most of it, and the ATP gets another Nadal-Federer 5-setter which everyone will describe as an "epic" (even though, apart from Nadal's astonishing 1st set, was of somewhat uneven quality). If tennis is indeed going down the shitter, then women's tennis will sink first.

HRHoliviasmith
Feb 1st, 2009, 11:23 PM
Serena in a blowout.

Matchup, current form, everything. This has very, very little chance of being competitive.

you're a psychic aren't you? :lol:

anyway very good writing. i look forward to more of these.

Cakeisgood
Feb 2nd, 2009, 12:20 AM
Serena in a blowout.

Matchup, current form, everything. This has very, very little chance of being competitive.

WOW :eek::eek::eek::eek:

Cakeisgood
Feb 2nd, 2009, 12:23 AM
you're a psychic aren't you? :lol:

anyway very good writing. i look forward to more of these.

Is GOTE in yout sig from me? Or did somebody think of "GOTE" before I did?? Just wondering :)

HRHoliviasmith
Feb 2nd, 2009, 12:30 AM
Is GOTE in yout sig from me? Or did somebody think of "GOTE" before I did?? Just wondering :)

yeah i got it off this board somewhere. if you came up with it, then thanks. :hatoff:

Cakeisgood
Feb 2nd, 2009, 12:31 AM
yeah i got it off this board somewhere. if you came up with it, then thanks. :hatoff:

hahahahaah yaaaay I'm significant!!!!

:angel:

peanuts
Feb 2nd, 2009, 01:41 AM
As expected. I was genuinely surprised that so many people expected anything other than a one-sided massacre.



Really? I didn't realize so many people expected a close match. One just has to look at Safina's game and foresee the results. :lol: I expected an easy win but I have to admit I didn't expect the bagel. :o

Anyways, I like your write-up on the semis. While it's true that Serena played well and didn't give LenaD much chance to be aggressive, I also thought LenaD's lack of tactical ability was again on display in that match. Sigh.

cellophane
Feb 2nd, 2009, 03:24 AM
As expected. I was genuinely surprised that so many people expected anything other than a one-sided massacre.

Really? I didn't know many people were expecting a close match actually? :confused:

Langers
Feb 2nd, 2009, 05:25 AM
I went to Rod Laver Arena for the first time to watch Dokic vs. Chakvetadze and I'm amazed at how freakin' small the Arena is! :eek: It's almost as big as the Sydney centre court. I told one of my tennis friends about it and he thought the same!
Personally I prefer Hisense Arena these days.

I used to think Hisense was a bit awkward but I dunno, I just really like it now. More modern, comfortable seats, good view from anywhere.

Keadz
Feb 2nd, 2009, 05:33 AM
I don't like Hisence Arena because the stands aren't connected and it looks cheap and portable. Still disappointed they got rid of entry to Hisence when you but the ground pass though :( The price of a ground pass has gone up as well since they got rid of that :o

Langers
Feb 2nd, 2009, 05:50 AM
Yeah it's tough because it's a multi purpose venue and it can look a bit tacky but I think the set out is pretty good.

Oswald56
Feb 2nd, 2009, 06:47 AM
Corswandt rules!

Experimentee
Feb 2nd, 2009, 11:52 AM
Thanks, I've enjoyed your notes on this AO and agree with what you said.