Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Tennis Hurts...

(Photo: Press Association via Yahoo! Sports)

Well, I don't know. I think he knows me better than anybody else. I would say he knows me better than my mom, and he sees me playing like this.

He just looks and he's like, How you can be like so tight? I mean, he understands everything. He played himself.

Or like he knows exactly what I have to do, and suddenly I'm not doing this or I'm playing completely the opposite game from what he's telling me. He says, I just don't know what to tell you when you're doing completely the wrong thing.

-- Dinara on 'The Zeljko Effect' (Wimbledon.org)

came through in straights in her opener against Spaniard Lourdes Dominguez Lino today.

I've had glowing things to say about Zeljko, and what he's achieved with Dinara. But I'm beginning to feel about this relationship the way I sometimes feel about Dementieva and her Mother.

See it's good to have someone you trust in your box. Where I think it turns ugly is when the coach's charge ceases to behave as a distinct organism. Incapable of independent thought or function.

She played well enough to get through but not in tune with her #1 ranking. Grass sits rather uneasily neath Dinara's feet, though I'm damned if I know why.

Conventional wisdom says that such a big take back is going to hurt you on grass. As is the inability to move well. Except both those charges may also be laid at Sharapova's door.

I'm also not liking the womens' edition of the Adidas red tee. Djoko looked about as decked out as I think I care to see him (God help us on the calamitous day that Djoko choses to do his 'cardigan'), but the whole outfit is evocative of laziness on the part of the Adidas team also in charge of Liverpool FC's new away kit.

Besides, I think it looks better in black with red sweatbands. Like so:

(Photo: GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

Does anyone remember Sampras' second round loss to George Bastl in 2002? Only very vaguely. Safin's 4 set loss today to Jesse Levine, will likely be filed in the same dusty, untended corner. Except it wasn't even on the old court 2, the so called 'graveyard of champions'.

It was on court 18 (the one Jelena referred to as the car park). With not so much as a whimper in the closing stages.

This time last year I had this theory we'd witness a renaissance of sorts as Marat discovers he's not that bad on grass after all. Difficult to see him having a renaissance anywhere after this first round loss. This will most likely have been his last ever showing here. And it hurts.

This hurts too.

I feel for Anne, I really do. So much so that I'm going to post this entire article on her presser from the Wimbledon website.

No defeat is ever easy to swallow but Anne Keothavong was reduced to tears and momentarily forced to leave the press interview room following her first round loss to Patricia Mayr this afternoon.

The British number one, who is ranked 51 in the world, bowed out to her Austrian opponent 7-5, 6-2 and it did not take long for the media pack to start serving up the inevitable, harsh questions.

“You say [you have had] a disappointing grass court season. Obviously is it more disappointing because everyone has seen your results over the past 12 months, and thought great. You haven’t really been able to show them?”

To which Keothavong rallied: “There’s no way round it. It’s been disappointing. You know, I have higher expectations for myself. I feel like I’m a better tennis player, well, now compared to where I was this time last year.”

Of course, the Briton is still trying to get to grips with her swift exit from the French Open a few weeks ago where she was swept aside by the hands of Dinara Safina 6-0, 6-0.

Maybe that match in Paris actually dented my confidence more than I realised at the time,” Keothavong admitted. “You know, every week, Birmingham, Eastbourne, here, I’ve always been on the back foot. I haven’t really been imposing myself or putting my opponents under enough pressure.”

Then the press really began to turn the knife. “This is not an accusation, but do you feel as though you’ve let a few people down today,” one journalist demanded.

I feel like I’ve let myself down more than anything,” the 25-year-old volleyed back. “Wimbledon is such a special tournament to me. And, you know, this year especially, I just felt, I’ve overcome so much just to get where I am,” at which point her eyes began to well up with tears.

Did you put more pressure on yourself, do you think?” another reporter enquired, at which point emotion overcame Keothavong, she lost her voice and dropped her head.

“Can we stop for a few minutes” the moderator asked as Keothavong was led out in floods of tears mustering an apology on her way. It was a heartbreaking moment and served a purpose in reminding the press and public that players are only human. A few moments later she emerged composed and ready to continue the press conference.

The questions did not get any easier. “The way the Brits are going out today, it’s shaping to be a pretty dark day for British tennis at Wimbledon. Do you feel sort of a collective responsibility, or are you solely focused on your own results?"

But this time Keothavong was ready. “I can only focus on my own tennis. That’s hard enough as it is...You can’t guarantee the results as the end of the day, but I think you can definitely guarantee that all British girls have tried 100%.”

That told them.

(Source: Wimbledon.org)

Given her much improved form, the top fifty ranking from earlier this year, and the weight of the nation on her shoulders, the heartbreak and disappointment is at a level most casual observers can't even understand.

Especially revealing is the way in which she thinks the double bagel Safina served her way affected her subsequent performances.

I tend to dislike questions that begin with "This is not an accusation, but..", but the day's 'Foot in mouth' award must surely go to that clumsy excuse for a tennis journo, that sought an answer to the question on putting more pressure on herself.

Not really 'kicking' so much as 'tripping over' Anne while she's down.
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