Saturday, 24 October 2009

Russian Love…

It hasn’t been the most ‘happening’ of tennis weeks for a while, despite there being events underway in Moscow, Luxembourg and the wonderfully named ‘If…Stockholm’.

Most of the action appears centred around Moscow. And Marat.

I don’t know if it’s me, but the WTA Kremlin Cup seemed a whole lot more entertaining last year, when Jelena bagged a hat trick of post-Flushing hard court titles, and with it, a much maligned position atop the rankings.

This year, with most of the top ten evidently saving themselves for Doha, it seems to have been reduced to a two-woman shootout between Vera and Jelena both of whom had an opportunity of qualifying for Doha, and both of whom turned in less than inspiring performances.

Jelena eventually made the cut by … wait for it … all of 5 race points, before promptly going out to Kleybanova earlier today.

jankovic_vig (NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP/Getty Images)

Mission complete, though just by the skin of her teeth.

Vera fizzled and spittled her way out of the event with a 6-0, 6-2 loss to Tsevtana Pironkova.

"She is a good player and I knew that," Zvonareva said. "It's very difficult to play against her. She moves perfectly on the court, can hit the ball hard and can vary her tempo.

"I'm not in my best shape now and to beat her today I should have played more attentively.

"Maybe I'm even happy. Finally I will have time to restore my health and start the new season in full strength."

(Sky Sports)

I sincerely hope for her sake, that that’s true. Winning only two games against a player that rarely breaks the three-digit barrier on her first serve suggests more than just a want of ‘attention’. For our sakes, it’s probably best she didn’t qualify in this form.

safin_davydenko2_vig (AP)

This time last year, Marat reached the final of the men’s event in Moscow before promptly going down in flames to Igor Kunitsyn, This year I don’t think he even expected to get half as far – and as it turned out, didn’t.

He did manage to score an interesting, if not entirely unexpected three set win over Davydenko, which of course, resulted in a hazy blaze of Russian brotherly love.

I thought it would be a little bit slightly different, all these feelings toward the tournaments. It's a little bit different, different from what I thought—it's difficult to explain. The feeling that I thought I would get from coming back for the last time to the tournaments, I don't get this particular feeling that I was hoping to get. But of course it's nice, it's nice to know that it's over—last time [at the U.S. Open], last time in L.A., last time in Cincinnati—just enjoy it. I don't want to have any more stress.


It doesn’t get any more candid than that.

In fact, with his thoughts on the calendar, A-Rod’s short term memory, and Tomas’s manhood, it rather seems, these remaining few weeks are turning out to be more about candid reflections than anything else.

I’m not sure what I expected, and maybe Marat’s not that well suited to teary farewells, but I think Tennis Magazine did themselves a disservice with this month’s feature on his so called ‘misery tour’. The content is exclusive to the magazine and to my knowledge appears nowhere on their site, but if you’ve read the latest edition, you’ll know the one I mean.

An odd assortment of some of the more cruder Maratisms, with a front page shot of him sporting those two black eyes he turned up to Hopman Cup this year with.

It’s not that I don’t think Marat is any, or all of those things, the essence of which the article is so keen to capture. It just seems an unnecessarily skewed assessment of a player that managed to be charming, blunt, tortured and twinkly-eyed all at the same time.

This article from September, and recent interview do a much better job.

Only one more event before all the pain goes away.

And only three more weeks before I get to say “We’ll always have Paris…”


Meanwhile Big Rob has made the last four in If…Stockholm.

The other three sharing the table are Olivier Rochus, Thomas Belluci, and Marcos Baghdatis. Marcos I have some sympathy with. His recent troubles with form resulted in a dip that saw him drop outside of the top 100. Seeing him at #66 comes therefore, as light relief.

But I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one keen to see Big Rob qualify for London.

Davydenko’s presence is as essential to the event as furniture and subtitles are to a cosy art house flick.

But Big Rob is capable of getting into the faces of most everyone not named Federer, and as such seems to have a pivotal role to play before the curtain goes down on this curious year.

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