Saturday, 29 August 2009

Flushing Meadows: 10 Nuggets to Chew Over

Barring a seismic upset, of Roland Garros proportions, I probably won't be posting anything until the middle of next week.

Until then here's ten storylines to chew over, each of which I think could do with a more thorough examination.

Will the Slamless be 'enSlammed'?


This debate has got to stop. The insults, the trash talk, while entertaining, do nothing to inspire love for, and enamour others
to, our sport.

Me too. I've got to stop.

And something that'll help us stop is if one of the WTA's three most 'deserving' causes, Dinara, Elena or Jelena, get in on the act and put things 'right'.

It won't change my opinion and the perception of most sound and able minded people that this is a weak era. The tennis from which has an almost inbred, sterile, factory farmed feel to it.

But it'll be one less charge to level against the WTA.

The question's not if, but how much of the show will Kimmie or Pova steal?

Most or all of those sound and able minded people I mentioned in the last paragraph are appreciating, at least on some level, the comeback show these two have managed to put on.

It goes without saying that their presence will, rightly or wrongly, draw some or all of the limelight away from the top players.

Good luck to them.

I just hope it's for all the right reasons, and that Pova in particular is able to better upon that 2nd round outing at Wimbledon. Her performances outside of that have been as good as might reasonably be expected. I still sometimes grit my teeth as she steps up to serve though. Which is maybe an overreaction considering the problems
Dinara, Ana and Elena continue to have with their own.

Will Federer cruise to #16 with consummate ease?

If his last two matches, and the
absolute peach of a draw he's been given are anything to go by, you'd have to think that his run to the semis is all but certain.

The only credible threats in his section of the draw happen not to be threats at all. But rather the other founding members of his 'eight-and-oh' club. In fact Nikolay now has a newly convened 'twelve-and-oh' society under his control.

Things should liven up in the semis when, if all goes to plan rather than to pot, he'll run in to one of Djoko or A-Rod. Based on recent form I'd say it's Andy that presents the greater threat.

Will Murray survive the first week?

Just which high-ranking ATP/USTA official did Muzz snub?

Was it 'FootballGate' all over again? Did he go on record as saying he'd support anyone playing the New York Giants?

Did he suggest that he'd be cheering for anyone playing A-Rod?

Then why has he been shafted in the way he has?

After his opener against Gulbis, he has a likely third round meeting with Karlovic to look forward to.

After which he'll most likely play one of Stan Wawrinka or Marin Cilic, followed by a QF showdown with
del Potro.

Assuming he gets that far, which at this point I'm not at all certain about.


Is Jelena really back?

I'd like to think so. Except I'd be more convinced if she puts in a good showing at the venue where she normally does so well. I've learnt to treat Flushing as a kind of Testing Ground for her, a barometer into her form.

I've missed the flowing (and supposedly less muscle-clad) movement, and those fluid double handers down the line.

Yes I'm afraid Serbian Dramedy alone will not suffice. It hasn't lost it's appeal, but you need the tennis to back it up. Although she clearly hasn't gone the way Nole has, who lost his Dramedy and most or all of his intensity along with it. Maybe that
dramedy is a hidden talent I've yet to learn to fully appreciate, and should really be giving it it's dues.

Maybe that, or her win in Cincy, will help spur her on.

-Ana Well-Wishers Unite..

I dunno whether it's the traditional underdog supporter in me or the way in which both their worlds suddenly seem so unspectacular and devoid of any worthy attention.

Both I imagine. Rooting for the underdog is just about the only thing that trumps my love of Roger's game or Rafa's personality. And ok, Nole's the #4 player right now, but he's the undisputed underdog within that big-four clique.

So let this be the event in which Ana makes a convincing showing well into the second week, and Nole makes at least the final.

At this point both those propositions seem a little far-fetched. But what's a Slam without a frenzied bout of sentimental underdog support?

Does Zeljko need some new material?

I deem it both proper and befitting to call time on whatever approach Zeljko has been taking with Dinara. That 'go with your strengths' strategy may have worked it's wonders in her rise to the top. But this is now a turning point. And she should respond in kind
by turning with it.

Things are only going to get tougher with the obscene amount of points she has to defend.

Let's start with that serve. Just don't go getting all abbreviated on me.

Is Vika really the best of the rest?

She makes a strong case. Her Slam results are impressive. And in Miami she's won a mandatory Premier event.

Not the description you might reasonably apply to her closest competitor, her-right-honourable-Wozness, who seems to prefer making finals she doesn't win.

I don't believe she did that much wrong in that loss she suffered to Serena at Wimby this year.

It seems her rage fuels her intensity, much in the way Jelena and Nole's Dramedian-Stand-Up Shows fuel theirs: It can be the making or the discombobulation of them.

So I'm gonna lobby for it's stay. Tasteless though it is.

Like I said in my last post, Womens tennis is all about executing plan A better than everyone else. And like Clijsters, Vika happens to be quite good at doing that.

RIP James Blake? RIP Marat Safin?

It's becoming very difficult to predict anything hopeful for either of these two, and almost painful to watch most of their matches lately. So I plan to do very little of either this time round. Ok maybe I will watch every Marat match after all.

Marat seems intent on retiring, and -- dare I say it -- it now almost seems right for him to do so, given that by his own admittance, he has so little love left for the game. It also makes sense to look for a worthy last swansong during the indoor season rather than here at the Open.

I wish them both well. I just want the pain to stop.

Someone make it go away.

RIP French Tennis?

All change. This is where I'm getting off. The end of the line. The last straw. My camel's heaved it's last, his back's officially broke.

Both my French bandwagons now stand wrecked in my drive, tyres slashed and paintwork scratched. I did that last bit myself.

French tennis is all about style over substance. And French Style no longer trumps anything for me.

I reserve my last dregs of support for Gasquet, still battling the doping authorities, the once proud owner of my favourite single handed backhand in the game; itself now trumped by more substantial and significantly less stylish strokes like Robin Soderling's discuss-throwing forehand.

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