wta sec: armchair commentary on day 2



By Matt Trollope

Stat of the day: Vera Zvonareva defeated Caroline Wozniacki in three gruelling sets in the last match of day two action in Istanbul. The primary reason? The Russian’s 49 winners to the Dane’s 13. Note to Caro: relying solely on superb defensive skills just won’t cut it at the highest level. Yet while that may be, Wozniacki has secured the year-end No.1 ranking for the second straight year thanks to Maria Sharapova‘s withdrawal from the event due to a persistent ankle injury.

Typical WTA moment: Masha’s withdrawal continues the unfortunate theme of WTA events lacking in star power. The past four winners of the Championships since 2006 — Kim Clijsters, Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Justine Henin — all failed to start, and with 2004 winner Sharapova now gone as well, the event is missing the five most successful players of the past decade. Could you imagine the equivalent scenario occurring at the ATP World Tour Finals? If Federer retired before it began, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray didn’t enter because of injury, and then Del Potro withdrew during the week, the tournament would be decimated.

Intriguing interviews: Caro added some spice to the event by telling reporters that she thinks some players grunt on purpose. “They don’t do it in practice and then they come into the match and they grunt. I think they [officials] could definitely cut it,” she said. Does this mean she thinks the same of her friend Victoria Azarenka, also in the draw and who’s one of the loudest shriekers out there? That potential match-up may have gotten a whole lot more interesting | Speaking of complaints: Agniezska Radwanska aired her grievances about the court at the Sinan Erdem Dome. “It’s pretty slow. It’s weird bounces, and surface very sticky so it’s hard to run, as well,” she said. But it’s not all doom and gloom in Turkey — Caro and Masha shared their enthusiasm about the potential combining of the ATP and WTA year-end events. “It would definitely be nice to see. I think that would be a lot more fun for the fans to see the men and women together,” Sharapova said. The ATP will have to streamline their calendar first — its World Tour Finals are still almost a month away.

Photo of day: We’ve always loved Vika’s intense post-match winning celebrations. Today’s win over Sam Stosur was no different.

My vocal chords are just fine, Caro. Thanks for asking… (AP photo)

Thought for today/tomorrow: Who will come up trumps in the match between Azarenka and Li Na? Given that both women own unblemished records in the tournament so far with one straight-set win apiece, the winner will break the deadlock in the White Group, vault to the top of the group standings and put themselves in prime position for a semifinal berth.

Matt Trollope began covering tennis in 2008, a natural extension of his childhood obsession for the game that included hitting for countless hours against his bedroom wall and self-producing and editing a fictitious tennis magazine. Based in Melbourne, he has covered four Australian Opens and one Wimbledon championship, and his tennis writing has featured in Australian Tennis Magazine, the Australian Open Official Program, and Alpha Magazine.

short balls: wimbledon crumbs



Clean-plate club: As Wimbledon begins to wrap up, we’ve been scooping up the best little bits of the tourney yet to get big play on the TSF stage before you all run for the parks and beaches and the great outdoors post Sunday afternoon. The WTA has the above video, which we find strangely fascinating. Too bad strawberries and cream isn’t a more popular snack in the States! Just the right balance of good- and bad-for-you, right?

Draws: How Kvitova and Sharapova got there | Djokovic and Rafa, too

Wimbledon stylings, for you: Esquire has churned out a clever how-to for us regular folks on wearing Wimbledon whites. Our favorite parts of their six-step process? “Hats, not headbands. Never headbands” and “Lose the socks. Those should never be white. Unless you’re actually winning Wimbledon.”

Lego Andy: This may be one of our favorite finds of The Championships. It’s Lego Andy (Murray) who greeted fans in the queue in the early goings of the tournament. The three-foot model was built by England’s only certified professional, Duncan Titmarsh, (didn’t know there was such a thing) and was completed with 13,000 Lego pieces over six days. Oh, and that’s Fred Perry that Lego Andy is wearing, not adidas. Guess he’s a little nostalgic, no?


Gift for (hearing) grunts?
Seriously. If you haven’t tried this brilliant Slate.com test on matches the players to audios of them grunting, you must! TSF East was a nine of ten. Can you match such a score? Beat it?! Click on the image above to play.

(Lego Andy image by the Kingston Guardian; screen grab via Slate.com)

click play, and let the guessing (and grunting) begin



Can you nab a perfect score? Last week we told you how the mainstream press had a heyday over the news that a Wimbledon official had decried the grunting in the women’s game. Well, they’re not quite done yet, folks. The team at Slate has put together this hilarious, brilliant and inspiring quiz where you click through ten (short!) clips of grunts and must choose the correct grunter out of four players offered. TSF East recorded a nine out of ten (so close!). What was your score? Click the image above to play the game and then tell us your results below.

short balls: wimbledon goes mainstream on week 1



There’s no doubt that the British press has a heyday when Wimbledon comes around. From the Monica Seles-inspired Grunt-0-Meter to headlines screaming (desperately) for a British champ. It really is the people’s Slam. But Stateside, it’s always nice to see the mainstream folks picking up on the secret we’re all privy to: tennis is damn cool. Below a collection of week one’s rumblings across the non-tennis media.

The grunting! Doesn’t this happen every year? Sure, this was a British-inspired headline. But The Daily Beast kept with it for a solid morning on Wednesday, even putting together a gallery of grunters themselves. We think they left off a key founding mother: Monica Seles.

More: The Daily Beast‘s “perfect matches” tennis couples


The return of the Sisters Williamses: With Venus and Serena back, The Huffington Post saw the perfect opening to do a gallery of the sisters from through the years — Wimbledon and beyond. | ESPN takes on V’s fashion

The BMS side show? Just when we thought Bethanie Mattek-Sands had cemented herself as a legit third- and fourth-rounder at the slams she unveils this (see below) which prompts headlines from Britain to the U.S. to Australia and crashes out in the first round. So long, Bethy. | More: BMS inks deal for eye black flare
(AFP image)

More headlines to come…