Sunday, September 18, 2011

Jaziri and Safwat playing Challengers in Turkey

Arabs' No1 player, Malek Jaziri, who is fresh off his second round showing in the US Open, where he fell to Mardy Fish, made it to the semi-finals of the Istanbul Challenger in Turkey before falling to top seed and world No47, Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 6-2.

The Tunisian will next play in the Izmir Challenger also in Turkey where Egypt's Mohamed Safwat is battling it out in the qualifying draw.

Egypt's No1 has won his first qualie 6-1, 6-0 over Russian Valentine Dunenkov and next faces the same player he lost to in the Istanbul qualies last week, Dimitar Kutrovsky.

Hopefully this time the Egyptian makes it into the main draw.

Jaziri is seeded No6 in a strong Izmir field and the 27-year-old opens against Germany's Andre Begemann. Bosnian star Amer Delic is in his same section of the draw and could face him in the second round.

Home favourite Marsel Ilhan is the top seed in Izmir, while Belgium's Steve Darcis and Italy's Flavio Cipolla are seeded 2 and 3.

The players are competing on hard courts for a total prize money of €64,000.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

US OPEN: Serena's fine is pathetic and plain wrong!

Serena Williams has got off scot free from her second successive tantrum at the US Open after another disgraceful decision was made by the US Tennis Association to cap off two weeks of a succession of failures on their part.

After Sunday’s final it had become glaringly obvious that the American needs to be taught a lesson and she needs to be taught it now.

Sadly Tournament referee Brian Earley chose to turn a blind eye to her latest offence and Williams has been fined a measly $2,000 and her probation is officially over. Her fine is 1/700 of her prize money and frankly it’s an insult to an umpire who was simply doing her job.

Read more at Sport360°...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

US OPEN: Outrage on Twitter over Stosur/Kerber Ashe snub

Sam Stosur (via Facebook): I think my Semi Final is at 6pm on Grandstand, if anyone wants to watch the ONLY SEMI FINAL not on Arthur Ashe Stadium, come out tomorrow.

Another day at the US Open and another fiasco – this time it’s because the organisers denied semi-finalists Angelique Kerber and world No9 Sam Stosur the implicit right of playing their last-four match on the main Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The unseeded German is scheduled to face Stosur - the 2010 French Open runner-up - on Saturday on the third biggest stadium (the second is Louis Armstrong but which is messed up from the rain) in Flushing Meadows, the Grandstand, taking a back seat to the two men’s semi-final matches and Serena Williams’ match with Caroline Wozniacki, which are all taking place on Arthur Ashe.

The decision has caused an outburst on social media websites leading former Major doubles champion Rennae Stubbs to call it a “travesty” while former US Open runner-up, Greg Rusedski described it as a “disgrace”.

Stubbs took to Twitter saying:

Rusedski - a former US Open runner-up - echoed Stubbs’ comments saying:

ESPN tennis analyst, coach and former US Open semi-finalist, Darren Cahill joined the bandwagon as well and tweeted this:

Considering the outrage from all tennis fans on Twitter, it was only natural that Stosur made the comment above about the issue on her Facebook page. She has every right to and I actually applaud the classy way she did it.

Yes there are scheduling factors that the USTA are considering but this has TV ratings written all over it.

It's not hard to fit four matches on Ashe, regardless of whatever problems they have with the schedule and after the whole rain shambles that took place the past couple of days, they really should be more careful and avoid doing something that stupid, thinking they weren't going to get called on it.

I feel bad for Kerber even more than Stosur because this is the German's first big break in a Slam and while of course they both deserve to be on Ashe, it must mean a little more to Kerber than Stosur, who had the luxury of playing on the main courts in all the other Slams (or at least on Philippe Chatrier and Rod Laver Arena).

Once again the US Open falls short!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

US OPEN: Nadal leads a mini-revolt against organizers

It's been a stressful day for everyone from organizers to players to spectators to journalists but what we can all agree on is that the players' safety comes first. Because that's who this sport centers around.

The rain that canceled all match play on Tuesday, wreaked havoc with the schedule again on Wednesday where the players in Rafa and Murray's half of the draw were asked to step on court during a supposedly brief break from the showers in an effort to get these delayed fourth round matches over and done with but the result was pretty disastrous.

Rafa, Murray, Roddick and their opponents stepped on court in misty conditions and wet lines and played for a brief 15 minutes before the rain came pouring down again leaving Rafa and co frustrated that they were called on court to begin with, in such "unsafe" conditions.

Rafa's irritation started before the match because he wasn't given enough time to do his tapings and whatnot, which left his opponent Gilles Muller waiting for the Spaniard for almost 10 minutes. Here's what Rafa said ahead of stepping on court:

After 15 minutes of play where Rafa found himself down 3-1, the defending champion gave an earful to tournament referee Brian Earely, saying something along the lines of: "It’s the same old story. All you think about is money." Possibly referring to the US Open's policy of not having to refund tickets if 90 minutes of play or only one match is completed. Here's the video of Rafa's mini-rant:

After play was suspended on all three show courts, Rafa, Murray and Roddick head to Earley's office to complain about being forced to play in unsafe conditions and here's Rafa mouthing off to Pam Shriver on ESPN:

Rafa El Revolucionario

Roddick shared his sentiments saying: “I understand they need to put tennis on TV, and I understand the business side of it, but first and foremost the players need to be safe on the court.”

The moment of solidarity continued as Murray said: "The players, I think, more than anyone, want to play and that’s what we were kind of saying. With each day that passes, for the guys that are on me and Rafa’s side of the draw, it reduces our chances. So for us, we want to play. Four best-of-five matches in four days is a huge task physically, so that would be really tough. We want to play, but if it’s dangerous, we’re not going to go out there."

"When we went onto the court it was still raining, the back of the court, the net and the balls were wet too. We talked to the umpire but he said it was fine. So we told him it doesn’t make sense to get us out there for seven or eight minutes, so I don’t think that will happen again today."

Finally the USTA made an announcement that all the men's matches (fourth round and quarter-finals) were canceled for the day but they would do their utmost to get the women's quarter-finals done, spreading them on four courts simultaneously if a brief window between the rain allows it.

I love how the players stepped up like that, because it's not just for themselves, it's also for each other. Let's hope the next few days are less stressful!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

US OPEN: The ATP talks to Tunisia's Malek Jaziri after his match against Mardy Fish

Tunisia's Malek Jaziri made an entire Arab nation proud, first when he qualified for the main draw at the US Open, and then when he won his first round match against Thiemo De Bakker.

Unfortunately his second round opponent was none other than Mardy Fish and the Tunisian's US Open dream run came to an end at the hands of America's number one player, but this is definitely not the last we will see of Jaziri.

His ranking is projected to rise to around 140 and hopefully he will continue to keep it up until the end of the season.

US OPEN: How the players wait out the rain...

With the weather raining on everyone’s parade it got me thinking what the players do to pass the time during those annoying rain delays. Here are a few educated guesses…

Serena Williams
The American diva is probably blasting her karaoke machine, rocking some Rihanna making herself feel like she’s “the only girl in the world”. Quite appropriate considering she’s the only one in her 'League of Extraordinary Tennis' at the moment.

Andrea Petkovic
Petkorazzi is most definitely choreographing an anti-rain dance possibly with the help of Novak Djokovic. Expect a viral video out on YouTube shortly!

Caroline Wozniacki
We have to admit Caro has been an attention seeker lately and the world No1 will probably wait out the rain plotting her next media stunt. Cute tweets to her beau Rory McIlroy, flirtatious ones to John Isner, and Rafa imitations in the press room just won’t cut it anymore. She knows she’s done all that and will probably go bigger this time. I wonder what she’ll do next? What’s weirder than posing for a kiss with Rory in front of an entire American football team? Carrying Mats Wilander’s baby perhaps?!

Rafael Nadal
I bet Rafa spends his rain delays taping and de-taping his fingers and knees. We all know the Spaniard has his rituals and no rain nor sunshine will stop him from going through his routine before stepping on the court, even though he doesn’t really know when that actually might happen. My advice for Rafa though would be to read his own autobiography instead of getting to it next month like he mentioned in the press the other day. It’s not a bad read, he can improve his English and maybe finally he’ll understand the difference between the words ‘ambition’ and ‘illusion’ in English!

Roger Federer
The Swiss is probably working on learning Japanese or something to add another language to the 10 he already knows. It’s either that or he’s changing diapers. Scratch that, he’s learning Japanese. There’s no way the elegant Federer gets near Myla/Charlene’s poop.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
The explosive Frenchman can probably be spotted practicing his dives as he waits out the rain. His diving has been looking quite impeccable lately that there’s no way they just come to him naturally on court. Someone get a camera down to that locker room and I guarantee Tsonga is lying flat on his belly in some corner.

Novak Djokovic
I hear Novak is planning to run for President in Serbia and that he’s plotting his campaign to re-establish Yugoslavia. He’s probably reading a Politics for Dummies book during the rain breaks while practicing his presidential wave and fake smile. Contrary to what Ana Ivanovic said the other day in the press room, Djokovic is believed to be in fact way more famous than the existing Serbian President.

Andy Murray
Sadly the Scot is way too predictable. I’ve got two words for him. Fantasy Football! I hear he’s been trying to trade every Arsenal player he has but nothing can fix that mistake Muzza.

Sam Stosur
Is it too obvious to imagine Sam conditioning her biceps while the rain pours outside? It’s either that or she’s preparing herself for another exceptionally long match by playing a ridiculously long game of Wii Tennis.

Janko Tipsarevic
The Serbian No3 is big on reading. I say he’s alternating between Descartes and How to Take Down Novak Djokovic. The latter has been printed in many languages including Spanish and German and free copies have been lying around the locker room all week.

Vera Zvonareva

The world No2 is probably staking out Robin Van Persie’s Twitter page to find an opening to drop him a line. That birthday tweet she sent him was a big hit and now she’s thinking of a way to take that relationship to the next level. Or was it Khalid Boulahrouz? I’m confused… how do these people know each other again?

US OPEN VIDEO: Wozniacki under-fire for a harmless joke about Rafa's cramps

World No1 Caroline Wozniacki is under-fire after she jokingly imitated Rafael Nadal getting cramps in the press room for 10 brief seconds. That Rafa cramp story is taking a life of its own and I really don't understand where all this is coming from.

It's true that when I saw footage of Rafa on TV suffering the cramps for the first time, I was worried-sick for a few minutes until he showed up again, explained the situation and later said it was nothing but cramps.

I don't know how many people out there have actually suffered cramps but yes it's painful and yes it goes away shortly after, and yes it is NOT LIFE-THREATENING!

So calling it a "sensational health scare" is completely out of proportion and wanting to murder Wozniacki because she actually did something funny in one of her attempts to please the press is a huge overreaction.

Like Andy Roddick said: "Cramps are fine. It's not an injury. A cramp is a cramp. When you go to bed and your foot cramps, it's the same thing but your entire leg. For me, I heard about it. They were telling me it was like this whole thing and people were surrounding him. I kind of started laughing. I mean, I saw Rafa and he was laughing about it later on."

So if Andy's laughing about it and Rafa is laughing about it, why can't Caro do it? Everyone needs to take a chill pill or go and look up what a cramp really is.

Can't believe she even had to tweet this to clarify her intentions:

"Had a bit of fun last night b4 my press conference.Hope it was not taken the wrong way. I have the utmost respect and admiration of Rafa!!!"

Here's the Rafa press room incident in case you missed it.

What do you guys think? Funny or distasteful?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

US OPEN: Djokovic on playing buddy Tipsarevic in the quarters

Q. Speaking of your homeland, your opponent Tipsarevic talked a lot about facing you. One of the things he talked about was whether it's harder or easier to face someone you're familiar with. What is your mental approach?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: What did he say? (Smiling.)

Q. He said it's both easier and harder.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It's strange feeling. You know, we are professionals. Certainly we both want to win the match when we play against each other. So you kind of forget about, you know, friendship. You put that aside. You know, we never played Grand Slam, though. We never played best of five against each other, so it's going to be a first time experience for both of us. I think it's his first quarterfinals ever in Grand Slam. He's playing the best tennis of his life. He's very confident. But there is certainly this mentally strange feeling when you're playing somebody that is one of your best friends in the private life, as well. So you got to handle that, as well.

Monday, September 5, 2011

US OPEN: Day 8 Preview - Tsonga v Fish is unmissable!

Roger Federer SUI (3) v Juan Monaco ARG

The five-time US Open champion withstood a tough challenge from Marin Cilic in the previous round despite hitting nine fewer winners than the Croat.

While Federer’s next opponent Juan “Pico” Monaco is not as adept on hardcourts as Cilic may be, the Argentine gave Federer a hard time in their match in Miami earlier this year, however the world No3 still won in straights and is 2-0 head-to-head over Monaco.
Pico is looking to get past the fourth round for the first time in New York while Federer is trying to equal Andre Agassi’s Open era record of 46 hardcourt titles, should he capture the US Open title this fortnight.

The Swiss hasn’t showed his best so far in Flushing Meadows but it doesn’t look like Pico can deliver the upset against Federer on hardcourts.

Afterall, Federer is 59-6 in New York while Monaco is 6-7 and has lost in the opening round in his last three attempts at the US Open.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga FRA (11) v Mardy Fish USA (8)

This is a match-up between the two men who have stood out the most this season outside the top four.

Since the French Open, Tsonga has won 19 out of 24 matches making the final in Queen’s and the semi-finals in Wimbledon and Montreal, where he twice beat Roger Federer. A run that saw him rise to No11 in the rankings.

Meanwhile Fish has been acting more like a shark this summer and his US Open Series title is proof of how dominant he has been on the North American hardcourts having won in Atlanta before making the finals in Los Angeles and Montreal, and the semis in Cincinnati.

Both players are yet to drop a set in New York and have never faced off on Tour. Their combined ranking is the lowest amongst the four men’s last-16 matches taking place today; a clear indication that it’s going to be a tight clash that is both unpredictable and unmissable.

Serena Williams USA (28) v Ana Ivanovic SRB (16)

There was a reason why many people were calling for Serena’s seeding to be bumped and No4 seed Victoria Azarenka’s third round loss to Serena is precisely that reason. Serena’s low seeding is a threat not to Serena but to her helpless opponents who had to face her early on in the draw.
Ana Ivanovic is next up on the American’s hit list and just in case Serena’s steamrolling frenzy is not intimidating enough for the Serb, Ivanovic enters this match knowing she hasn’t won a single set against Serena in both their previous encounters - in the US Open in 2006 and in Dubai in 2009. Odds are, she won’t win one today either.

Ivanovic is trying to make the quarter-finals for the first time in New York while Serena is gunning for a fourth US Open title and a 14th Major cup to accessorise her trophy cabinet.
Ivanovic is on the rise, armoured by a new coach, but her semi-final showing in San Diego is nowhere close to as impressive as Serena’s back-to-back titles in Stanford and Toronto.

Caroline Wozniacki DEN (1) v Svetlana Kuznetsova RUS (15)

Those two are familiar with each others’ games as this will be their seventh meeting in three years. Wozniacki leads the Russian 4-2 head-to-head and between them, they own a title, two runner-up showings and a semi-final in New York.

While Kuznetsova has gone one better than Wozniacki and has actually lifted the US Open trophy back in 2004, the top-seeded Dane has beaten Kuznetsova in their last three meetings, which were all on hardcourts and included a clash at the US Open at the very same stage two years ago.

Kuznetsova’s build-up to the US Open has been far from ideal while Wozniacki salvaged her preparations for New York by winning the title in New Haven eight days ago after suffering opening round losses in Toronto and Cincinnati.

From the looks of things, Wozniacki has the upperhand and is more likely to clinch that quarter-final spot.