Monday, 30 March 2009

Miami Vice (and no Vitriol)

I can't promise it'll last for very long, but you'll find a little less anti-WTA vitriol here over the coming months. Ignore for a moment that the tours top players have somehow managed to top last weeks dismal showing at Indian Wells -- a culling that saw Jelena, Svetlana, Alize and Elena out before coverage even began in the UK. Appalling as that was, it was just so way-out-there (in a bad way) that I thought things would soon settle into a more palatable and familiar level of frailty. Heck, my pick Vera even won the event: quite the stuff of silver linings and clouds - or so I thought.

Only this time I did at least manage to catch a single match between Venus Williams and Anna-Lena Groenefeld before being greeted with the news that Dinara, Jelena, Alize, Nadia, Ana and Vera (I Know!) had all suffered insufferable losses before or at round three.

An economic recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth. I think we've just witnessed the tennis equivalent. In fact, I propose the following definition:

"A Players Recession will henceforth be defined as two consecutive events that see a total of at least three top ten players out before or during round three."

With things being as
decrepit as they are, vitriol suddenly seems a little misplaced.


In any event, things are really hotting up in Miami.

v Monfils was really special yesterday, with Safin playing for two sets, some of the best tennis I've seen him play since Wimbledon last year. We all know how he is from the baseline, but it was encouraging to see the number of times he successfully executed at the net (I forget the stats but it was something nearing 24/30 net points won)

He's always been adept there of course but tends to favour his more thunderous baseline play. I can't help but believe this to be a conscious decision on his part to shorten some of those rallies as he's no longer as mobile scrambling around at the baseline as he was say three years ago, and can be exposed in some of those longer rallies.
Safin was up 5-2 in the final set before Monfils (with a helping hand from a true to form Marat) staged a comeback not unlike Rafa did against Nalbandian last week. Final score 5-7, 7-5 7-6(3).

It didn't end there.

Today's match between Wozniacki and Dementieva featured -- for a set and a half at least -- some of the best rallies I've seen on the Women's Tour this year. Wozniacki came through, as Elena (almost at a loss for how her opponent managed to weather some of her best flat balling) completely lost her way in the second set. This may turn out to be the event that Caroline finally announces herself. Given the way that the top seeds have (for the second consecutive week) fallen by the wayside, that may be easier than we think. It's still early days, but I think it's worth remembering that she'll only have to face one of the Williams Sisters en route to the title.
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