Anastasia Rodionova

In what must be a great blow to the great man’s confidence, Roger Federer will for the 2nd straight match, will play his match on Lenglen and not Chatrier.  Cliff D gave us the stat yesterday, on the horrible coverage of Roger’s match (we suggest mapping out court whatever and then tuning the mix channel to it and leaving it there, so you get less pretentious announcers and practically no commercial breaks), that Roger had not played a match on Lenglen since 2004.  Let alone 2.  And he’s got the nasty little Serb, and we mean that as a compliment, Janko Tipsarevic, a giant slayer at majors throughout the years, who nearly punched Roger’s ticket at Oz a few years back, and let me tell you, we were scared.  Tipsarevic played practically lights out for 3 sets, and he really didn’t show any signs of losing his fight until deep into the 5th set.  Roger could have easily lost.

Federer:  – 1500

Tipsarevic:  + 700

Fed’s got the edge on clay, but these 2 haven’t met on clay, and we’ve seen Tipsarevic bulldog a lot of people on clay.  He’s comfortable there.  Should only be about 63-64 degrees when they pair off tomorrow, and a little cloudy.  The slower court will not help Tipsarevic much, and meanwhile, have you seen those balls?!!  The ones that the prince, Novak Djokovic, Lord Conqueror, and the princess, Andy Murray, Lady Grace, have had the audacity to criticize the balls because these new Babolat balls being used this year at Roland Garros, are popping.  Making Roger and Djokovic’s opponent tomorrow, Juan Martin Del Potro, a ball crusher for the ages, look pretty good.

Juan Martin Del Potro:  + 400

Novak Djokovic:  – 700

That line is huge.  Sure, Del Potro is not all the way back, but if Isner served consistent 140’s, then DP should have a good day on serve, making him just about the only guy to win free points off Djokovic all year.  And the kid does have to lose some time.  So yeah, I mean, we love the balls!  First the slow hards, then the slow clay that they even water every few minutes, and these things diminish the quality of the tennis.  Sunny skies and faster balls tips thbalance a bit for the shot makers and ball strikers, and they deserve to enjoy an innovation that doesn’t aid safe baselining for a change.

We like Zvonareva and Pavlyuchenkova tomorrow:

Vera Zvonareva:  – 650

Anastasia Rodionova:  + 375


Llagostera Vives:  + 325

Pavlyuchenkova:  – 550

We are pulling for the champ, Francesca Schiavone, in her matchup with annoying 2-hand on both sides, Shuai Peng:

Peng:  + 120

Schiavone:  – 160

Not a lot of respect for the champ, we’d have to say.  Speaking of annoying two-handers, ugly and annoying Marion Bartoli is going against the German force of late, Julia Goerges, who has an excellent first serve.  The 2nd ball is not as stirring.  We want Goerges, obviously, and think she might be the surprise pick this fortknight, but we also wouldn’t be shocked if Bartoli beat her.  And that really sums up our feelings on the women’s game.

Julia Goerges:  – 250

Marion Bartoli:  + 175

Kuznetsova, who has toned down and looks like a real threat here after all, is a big favorite over Rebecca Marino (-700/+400).  Somehow JW Tsonga is a favorite over the brilliant moving on clay, Stan Wawrinka (-105/-135).  We’ll take Stan, the fitter player, and good dirt baller.  Bethanie Mattek-Sands takes on Jankovic, who you know we just think plays such lazy, boring, and safe tennis.  A real contrast in styles, since Sands doesn’t have the pure strokes, but has all the guts, hands, and touch that Jankovic lacks.  It would be enormous for Sands to make the round of 16.

Jankovic:  – 450

Sands:  + 275

Ferrer/Stakhovsky…Ferrer a – 2000 favorite, and he should be a big favorite, but we have a soft spot for talented one hander, and we’d love to see him make the round of 16, playing the style he does.  A couple more interesting ones:

Wozniacki:  – 350

Hantuchova:  + 225 (see bikini shot above)


Gasquet:  – 180

Bellucci:  + 130

Good tennis tomorrow.  Even for clay.  Stick with the mix channels. 

Crack (,

Sabine Lisicki, right before crumpling to the court and being taken away on a stretcher (above).

Sabine Lisicki is better than world #120 whatever, and before her injury ravaged 2010, she was around 20 something, which is appropriate, considering that she has one of the biggest serves in the women’s game, and she knows how to play.  That long face of Vera Zvonareva’s today probably began when she took a look at the draw and realized that she had Lisicki in the 2nd round.  It couldn’t have been that she was stuck out on an odd court, because that would never bother Zvonareva.  Lisicki did bother her, and she took the first set, in a lot more dominant fashion than the 6-4 score line would indicate.

It seemed we were on the way to an upset special.  But no so fast.  Zvonareva re-grouped and pulled out the second set 7-5, and at that point the Zvonareva fan has to be feeling pretty good.  Vera, a talented player and hard worker, is definitely closer to 7th or 9th in the world, when all the ladies who should be in the mix are.  Maybe she is even better than we are giving her credit for, and we are fans.  Big ones.  She plays the right way.  She has a transition game, absent from so many.  She never gets too down, even if sometimes, she doesn’t smile.  And we’ve seen her pull out plenty of matches she has looked bad in.  Plenty.

Then she goes down 5-2 in the 3rd and she’s facing an MP and we are cursing up a storm.  Not at Zvonareva.  At Roland Garros.  The place where the best rarely wins and where grotesque upsets reign.  The courts are terrible.  They look gross.  They are gross.  If we have to see Roger Federer whiffing on forehands and stumbling around, that says it all.  Zvonareva looked terrible today.  And we are thinking, there goes another great talent who deserved better than an early upset here.  Lucky for her, terrible often wins here.  Even down a match point, she steeled herself, got it together, managed a hold and a break when Lisicki could have closed her out.  Before you know it, it’s 5-5 and Lisicki has the trainers out, having her blood pressure taken and getting worked pretty good on her left thigh.

Zvonareva, who served next, could have been very vulnerable there.  The match’s flow is interrupted right before a big service game.  As a player, you’d much rather have served before that kind of break than have to right after.  Zvonareva didn’t blink.  She sat for a brief time, then went and worked on her serve, practicing for a few balls.  Then she did some foot work drills along the back wall of the court, shadowed her forehand and backhand, and swung freely to keep her serve loose, doing the whole overhead, service lasso motion.

At points during the match, on changeovers and whatnot, Lisicki took a bite of a banana and drank some colorful energy drink.  Zvonareva just sat there with a towel over her head.  Eat all the bananas you want.  It doesn’t mean you are ready for a 65 minute set of tennis after already playing foor an hour and three quarters.  Zvonareva was ready when play resumed, won 4 quick points, then got out to a nice lead in Lisicki’s last service game, and took the match.  She didn’t even smile when she was done.

Despite getting out-winnered by more than two to one, and serving a good twenty kmphs slower on 1st and 2nd serve, and being all but out of the match, Zvonareva took 17 of 22 points at net, kept her errors down, and in a tough section of the draw for this watered down event, lives to see Anastasia Rodionova in round 3. 

And unfortunately for Lisicki, when they took her out on a stretcher in the end, it was she who had the towels covering her head.  4-6, 7-5, 7-5 in 2 hours and 40 minutes.

Crack (,

Svetlana Kuznetsova, former US Open and French Open Champion, extends hand to the chair (above).  She did not shake hands with her opponent, Australian by way of Russia, Anastasia Rodionova, in what has been this year’s worst display of sportsmanship at The All England Club so far.

Svetlana Kuznetsova disgraced the game this afternoon after losing to journeywoman Anastasia Rodionova, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 in 1 hour and 57 minutes, when she refused to shake Rodionova’s hand, who stood shunned, and stunned at the net at the conclusion of the hard fought match.  Frankly, while we have never loved Kuznetsova’s game or inability to get in condition, we have always respected her as a major champion, and one who Roger Federer calls his “favorite female player to watch.”

What would prompt the great champion to exhibit such poor sportsmanship?  Did it have anything to do with Rodionova’s decision to emigrate to Australia and become an Australian citizen?  We think not, especially when considering how many players move from their home country, including Kuznetsova, who moved to Spain to train as a child.  Rodionova, about the world’s 80th player, did not hurt Russia by ex-patriating, as the 80th best female would not be able to get near the Russian Fed Cup or Olympic teams.

Rodionova has a weird tic in her service motion which causes her to bounce the ball repeatedly, the same way Novak Djokovic did as a younger player.  In the deciding game, Rodionova bounced the ball 11 and 13 times, consecutively, on big service points, in the game she eventually won which won her the match, and preceeded Kuznetsova’s boorish snub at net when the match was decided.

Frankly, we are having trouble dissecting this turn of events.  Last year, when Kuznetsova won at Roland Garros, she showed extreme compassion to her opponent, and favorite Dinara Safina, who could not get past her nerves and gifted Kuznetsova the major title.  With all of the grunting that goes on in the women’s game which is so disturbing to some, and not being able to recall Kuznetsova ever not shaking hands, we are going to chalk this poor display up to her frustrations in the moment, and her overall frustrations of late.

Kuznetsova, a perennial top player on the female side, has slipped to # 19, and will move out of the top 20 with today’s loss.  Conversely, Rodionova handled the snub with class.  Today was her first victory over Kuznetsova in 5 career meetings.

She will meet 9th seed Na Li in the 3rd round.

Be a Good Sportsman,

Crack (