I’m not completely sure what to make of the WTA Championships so far.
Both JJ and Demmie stunk out the outermost districts of Doha with their openers: matches that lead to reports of JJ collapsing in the locker room and Demmie tweeting sombrely how she was “going to learn from that and play a better match next round”.
They both managed to do just that (though JJ still went down in straights to Kim the way we all expected her to) - Demmie’s currently embroiled in the first three setter of the week with Stosur – easily the most competitive match we’ve seen (not that that’s saying very much).
Despite starting out thinking otherwise, I’m now questioning whether JJ should indeed concede her spot to the 1st alternate in the way many are calling for her to – she’s clearly not at her best this week, but why shouldn’t she continue to play if it’s at least as competitive as it was with Kim? She did earn it.
Bepa is, on the face of it, faring well (2/2 without dropping a set - yay) and the Williams’ absence presents other players I’d like to see do well (Vika, Franny, Stosur…) with a sizeable working opportunity to do some damage.
Also, Stosur just did for Caz – in straights – something that should (and does) fill me with glee….not because of any latent antagonism or Wozenfreude I might still entertain, but because she calmly and very cleanly hit through Woz – and in doing so, didn’t let her off the hook in the way all too many players have been willing to this year.
Then there’s this:
Caroline Wozniacki lost to Sam Stosur Wednesday. Maybe it was rust on Wozniacki's part, but it seemed more like great hitting from the Aussie—as much as we love to see craft in tennis, it’s pretty much helpless in the face of power. If you can only learn one, go with the latter.
Still, Wozniacki is proving to be a player—like, yeah, you know who, the ATP’s current No. 1—who bears repeated viewing. You see things in her game that you didn’t notice the first or second or third time around.
-- Steve Tignor, tennis.com
He goes on to ruminate at length on her retrieval skills, in particular the way she runs down the drop shot.
Nothing wrong with any of this….well actually there is: I object in the strongest of terms to the use of the word ‘craft’.
I’m sure it takes a certain amount craft to elicit an error from your opponent (which is mostly what Caz is about), but by equating the two, Tignor has surely committed one of journalism’s cardinal sins: using domain-specific language in a non-specific, fuzzy way.
The problem with the word ‘craft’ is that it has a very specific connotation in the minds of most denizens of the tennis world.
Like it or not, for most people, sanitised notions of ‘craft’ will always be inextricably linked to a rainbow-coloured, all-court fairyland of idealised nostalgia – featuring Justine Henin (1.0) , a panic-stricken Amelie Mauresmo struggling to close out matches and, to a lesser extent, the more genteel, “lady-like” net play of the 70s and 80s – which wasn’t nearly so pretty nor so crafty as most people like to think it was.
I haven’t much time for those who like to dismiss Woz as a “pusher” – but she’s about as crafty and nuanced as last years telephone directory.
If anything you would have thought that title belongs to Stosur with the way she used her eye-watering blend of slice, kick-serving and power-play from the back of the court to badabing-badaboom Woz off court.
Kim is certainly the best of the bunch, but as we saw yesterday with her double-fault-diarrhoea, has a worrisome propensity to be at her uber-stinking-worst when she’s not at her uber-glittery-best.
There’s still time Vika.