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Old May 6th, 2002, 09:08 PM   #1
GogoGirl
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Question Is Martina Already Down A Set In Her Mindset When Playing The PPs?

I personally feel as if Martina is not as pressed as she used to be about playing in tourneys. Number one - because she is no longer number one. It is almost as if since she was removed from the number one position - she conceded that she may never get it back. I think that is what she is trying to come to grips with. Yet - I have always felt w/her that you can't count her out. Number two - I also believe that she has decided to try and enjoy a relationship w/her man of choice - Sergio Garcia. Perhaps she's put him above any of her tennis related goals.

On the other hand, she is most likely injured - and for her to confess that she was on pain killers all week was a very strong and honest admission - IMO. Then again - what does that mean? Does it mean because she was on medication - was the only way she could play tennis on that particular foot? I mean - why did she even mention the fact that she was on drugs - and admit that that was the only way she was able to deal? Was she saying that she preferred not to have to play while on pain killers?

I hope that is what she meant. And I hope she gets better soon if indeed she does have a serious injury that brings pain. No one should have to play in pain - and no one should have to take cordisone shots in order to cope. Not saying Martina did. Again - I want Martina back in the starting lineup more often than not.




Hamburg: Who Steals My Purse Steals Trash

Technically, Hamburg wasn't an immensely strong event; only five of the top ten. But it's more complicated than that. Right now, we really have a Top Nine (Venus Williams, Jennifer Capriati, Kim Clijsters, Martina Hingis, Serena Williams, Monica Seles, Lindsay Davenport, Justine Henin, Jelena Dokic), with #10 Amelie Mauresmo so far behind that she isn't really in the same league. And Davenport is injured. And Hamburg had three of the top four. So, even though it had "only" five of the top players, it had almost the importance of a full-field Tier I.

As it turned out, every position in the Top Four was still in play on Saturday. Venus Williams had to beat Martina Hingis to keep the #1 ranking, and Kim Clijsters had to advance farther than Hingis to stay at #3.

Hingis, sadly for the balance of the sport, seems to have adopted a punching-bag mindset: She expects to be pummelled by the bigger players, and so she is. It's certainly true that Hingis can't compete with the Williams Sisters or Davenport (or even Mary Pierce or Monica Seles or Jennifer Capriati) in power, and that means that she is all but doomed against them on hardcourts. But clay should be the equalizer. Except that Hingis doesn't play to the surface any more.

On Friday, against Daniela Hantuchova, Hingis got by with it -- barely. She faced a set point in the first set, but saved it and then went on to earn her own break. She broke again in Hantuchova's final service game to post a 7-5 6-4 win.

But Venus Williams spent that Friday showing her own solidity. Playing on an injured ankle, she found herself in all sorts of trouble against Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario. But after going down a set, she called the trainer to have her ankle re-wrapped, and things started going a little better. The seventh game was probably the key. From there, Venus cruised to a 3-6 6-4 6-1 victory.

Which set up the meeting with Hingis. It looked like a standard Venus/Hingis match -- except that it was on clay, which should have changed the equation. It didn't. Venus won 7-5 6-3.

In the bottom half, it was Jelena Dokic's power against Justine Henin's touch in the quarterfinal. Both are very happy on clay. This time, it was Dokic who was happier; it's perhaps not surprising that she won in two tiebreaks. Kim Clijsters, meanwhile, was disposing of Barbara Schett, the only unseeded quarterfinalist, 6-4 6-2.

Clijsters and Dokic, who are almost the same age, already have quite a history, but this time, the controlling factor was injury. Dokic retired trailing 6-4 4-4.

Which brought us to Williams vs. Clijsters. #1 vs. #2. We didn't really like that match-up initially; had the tournament seeded by surfaces, Hingis should have been #2. Well, we were wrong. Clijsters showed what she can do when she truly digs deep; having been pulverized in the first set, she came back to win the title 1-6 6-3 6-4.

The loss in the final ends Venus's winning streak at eight matches. She's already lost four times this year -- only one less than her total last year. We have to wonder if playing more isn't starting to hurt her; she's always bandaged up these days.

We had expected to declare our first qualifier for the year-end championships this week: Either Venus or Hingis, whichever won the tournament. But, of course, neither won the tournament. Hingis remains the leader in the Race (even though she's played one less tournament than Venus), and we have no doubt that both she and Venus will qualify. But it's not quite mathematically guaranteed yet; Hingis needs to win one more match at Rome before we will certify her, and Venus will have to reach the Rome quarterfinal or equivalent.

The doubles was almost a rematch of the Australian Open final: Daniela Hantuchova and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario against Martina Hingis. Except that this time Hingis was playing with Barbara Schett instead of Anna Kournikova. Hantuchova and Sanchez-Vicario had struggled their way to the final, needing three sets to top the unseeded Spanish team of Eva Bes and Marta Marrero in the semifinal. Hingis and Schett, by contrast, had blasted their way through, topping #1 seeds Cara Black and Elena Likhovtseva 6-2 6-1.

But the substitution of Schett for Kournikova didn't change the outcome -- except to make it a complete execution: Hingis and Schett blew away Hantuchova and Sanchez-Vicario 6-1 6-1 (meaning that Hingis beat Hantuchova twice in the tournament). The win puts Hingis back in the Top Ten in doubles despite having only eight tournaments, and raises her record this year to 14-0 (though she has withdrawn twice).

Hingis becomes the eighth player this year to win two doubles titles (Garbin, Hingis, Raymond, Ruano Pascual, Sanchez-Vicario, Selyutina, Stubbs, Suarez), but only the third (behind Raymond and Stubbs) to win two Tier II or higher events, and the first to win Tier II or higher events with multiple partners. It's doubles title #37 for Hingis (putting her behind only Natasha Zvereva and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario among active players; she's tied with Rennae Stubbs), and it comes at the site of her very first doubles triumph; she won here in 1995 with Gigi Fernandez at the age of fourteen years and seven months. It's the twelfth different doubles partner with whom she's won a title (Davenport, Gigi Fernandez, Mary Joe Fernandez, Kournikova, Lucic, Novotna, Pierce, Sanchez-Vicario, Schett, Sukova, Tauziat, Zvereva). For Schett, it's her first doubles title since winning Sydney 2001 with, um, Kournikova, and the sixth of her career; she will move back into the Top Thirty. (All right, we know, you don't care, but we're just in a statistics mood.)
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Last edited by GogoGirl : May 6th, 2002 at 09:22 PM.
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Old May 6th, 2002, 09:39 PM   #2
Volcana
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Just a quick note on a peripheral topic. I am worried about these constant niggling injuries Venus seems to be getting. However, while her health seems to have slipped, her production has not.

Last year Venus played 12 tournaments. The entire year. She won six of them.
This year, Venus has already played 8 tournaments. She's won 4 of them. So she's winning at the same rate as last year. Venus wins half the tournaments she enters.

2002 Record

Code:
WON  Gold Coast
QF   OZ
WON  Paris
WON  Antwerp
SF   Dubai
SF   Miami
WON  Amelia Island
FR   Hamburg

As for Martina, I think you have to seperate the top ten into four groups of opponents for her.

Venus, Serena and Jenn - Favored over Martina

Monica - 50/50

Justine, Kim, Jelela, Amelie - Martina favored

Lindsay - Just come back. We miss you.
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