The women's event has been underway at Indian Wells since last Thursday though you'd never know that by the way Eurosport has chosen to schedule its coverage this year. We only got our first instalment of play today and that was only one hours worth of highlights from the Jankovic v Pavlyuchenkova match. Jelena lost. The match as well as the plot.
Compromising with scant coverage of the early rounds of the women's event is one thing. But I'm having a really hard time accepting that 4 of the top seeds are out before I've had a chance to see a single live match. This marks a new low, even for the WTA: a situation I didn't think was possible. Instead of putting on an exhibition of 'what women's tennis would be like without the sisters', Jelena, Svetlana, Alize and Elena have single-handedly (though not with the backhand of the same name) reduced the event into 'what tennis would be like without the top seeds'. Well maybe it's not that bad. Not just yet.
But just think, if either one of Ana or Dinara have a bad day (they're never too far), we'll officially be into sideshow territory: not what you want for the first 'Premier' event of the year and yet another poor ad for the WTA. Also not the circumstances I would think, you'd want to see the Wozniacki's or Azarenka's break through in.
I have to admit when I saw Jelena play yesterday, I thought I was watching a different player: Not only did her movement seem sluggish, but her shots lacked the depth and purpose she usually has in spades. Little did I know:
The Serb also complained of 'feeling too heavy' following weeks of intensive training during the off-season.
"In the beginning, I felt really different with my body because I got a little bit of muscles and I felt heavier on the court," she said.
"I was always a certain weight and always my best weapon was my legs. I always moved and I had the anticipation and I was always on the ball.
"Now. I just cannot do that. I'm one step too slow or one step too much into the shot. And then all the strokes break down and I don't have the timing and my accuracy is not there.
I had heard she had attempted to bulk up a little during the off season, but must confess to not noticing any change since the new year - and I certainly wouldn't have thought the changes drastic enough to interfere with her game - her movement no less. I mean that's the equivalent of robbing the A-Rod of his serve or Gasquet of his backhand.
In any event, I'm more than just a little confused as to why she thought it necessary to get all Wonder Woman on us - she's not the paciest of players yes, but her problems were more to do with a lack of willingness to finish points off: Lack of aggression? Sure. Lack of muscles? Not so much.
Just goes to show that in some cases the talents that get you to the top of the game are uniquely your own - mess with them at your peril.
"I mean, overall everything is wrong. I need a lot of work. I wish I had a magic wand and could just fix my game and just play awesome tennis again. I would like it to be that way, but sometimes it's not."
The pursuit of 'Awesome Tennis'. What a noble sentiment. What a place the WTA would be if it had more of that elusive 'Awesomeness'. The ATP for example, is a very 'awesome' (not to mention 'happening') place to be right now. All of the top four through in their opening matches. Exactly the way it should be. Not that we haven't had any upsets. Monfils (a top tenner now) went out to Isner in three sets. But Isner wears (I'm told) size fifteen shoes. He's what I call a 'wandering monster': a sort of cross between a Journeyman and a Hulk. Karlovic is a WM too although he can volley very well. WMs lumber from tournie to tournie dispensing their own unique brand of justice. There's usually casualties. Sometimes from the top ten. But the general ordered nature of the ATP right now ensures they never progress too far, much less win a tournament. Take that as a nugget of wisdom. From my very own Tennis Codex. There's more where that came from.
I'd stop watching men's tennis the day I see Ivo lifting a Masters Shield. Tommy Haas is also good at dispensing wisdom. He once said (after losing to Ivo): "There should be a rule ...if you're over 6'6'' ... you can't play". You may not agree, but must admire it for it's precision and simplicity.
Anyway, I'm glad Jelena is so candid about things, as this is now officially a crisis. As I think I've mentioned many times before, I don't normally expect big things from JJ early on in the year - her season ending exertions usually catch up with her and she takes a while to begin to love the new season. But she's usually clicking into gear come March and in any case, things rarely look as bad as they did yesterday.
Oh and if you do find that magic wand Jelena, can you also wave it on Maria's shoulder - she's never been found wanting in 'Awesomeness' (with a capital 'A'). Nor have those Sisters. The rest of the field however, is sadly remiss in it's pursuit of 'awesome tennis'. Wave it on them too while you're at it. I think they could do with the help. Democratise some of that 'awesomeness' I say.
Djokovic came through against Argentine Vassallo Arguello yesterday. There was a lot of talk about his racquet and how his unorthodox forehand take back was much better suited to the thinner beamed Wilson.
I don't know how much truth there is in that, but I echo the commentators view that Djoko is looking a lot more like a workhorse this year than someone who routinely dictates play. It's debatable whether that's entirely down to his Head (the racquet that is) - he has after all been off par since that loss to Safin at Wimbledon, but more than one observer has made the point that "he's not hitting through the ball" like he was last year and I myself am convinced his shots are landing a lot shorter.
(Jankovic image: Tennis.com)