Chris Evert


Jerzy-Janowicz-Wimbledon
Jerzy Janowicz (above) on the attack.

All England Club 2013
Ladies Semi-final July 04

Kirsten Flipkens: + 130
Marion Bartoli: – 160
__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __
Sabine Lisicki: – 150
Agnieszka Radwanska: + 120

_______________

Men’s Semifinal July 05

Juan Martin Del Potro: + 500

NovaK Djokovic: – 800

__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __
Jerzy Janowicz: + 375

Andy Murray: – 500
….
I would certainly hail Jerzy Janowicz, should he hoist the trophy come Sunday noon. That kid is going places. Looks a little Sampras-ish. But we think it will be King Novak who wins the day. At any rate, and these rates are fine, we would take JJ tomorrow. Look for him to finish off Murray where Verdasco we knew, would not. Verdasco is like the white James Blake. All talent and near misses, the both of them. Janowicz has the right game for the lawn, and Murray is gonna have to get down if he wants to get through, which may not be easy, considering the back has seemed balky, that same back that has plagued him since early 2012. Say what, you say. Yes. We were shocked to read Chris Clarey on the eve of Roland Garros telling us Andy Murray was skipping because of a back injury which first affected him 14 months ago. We don’t like when players get their rhythm amended near the time of a major, especially with the RG/SW-19 quick turn around, the way Murray’s was. No way around that Murray was not playing competitive tennis at the highest level last month. We don’t like it. The pusher injuries began 14 months ago with Murray, it seems, and more to come, which puts a real damper on Murray’s long term plans to win the French Open, oh pity Britain. Murray should not fold up the tent on RG yet, especially since he can hit as many shots as he wants there and he just loves hitting shots, just not winners.

We think Murray might get the game took to him Friday by the Polish Lightning Bolt. If not, then Djokovic should school him proper Sunday, because seems to us better inclined and better primed to take the match, which is what is called for on grass after all. Though Djoker’s got his work cur out with him with JMDP, and don’t think we don’t love JMDP on that money line, especially since we saw JMDP unleash bomb after bomb on Novak less than a year ago on these very courts in taking out the King at the Olympic fare. Janowicz, to us, should have had the +5 and JMDP should be much much much lower, because Djokovic could very easily lose here in this spot. But we think Djoker needs this to cleanse the stench from his RG semi chokefest very badly, which will overcome.

As for the ladies, not gonna say much. Respect Lisicki, the big hitter, yeah, Bartoli not so much, but we love both dogs there too. Bartoli, a 2 hander, hates having variety thrown at her, hates having her rhythm and time disrupted. Which is Flipkens description–old school, crafty, grass court tennis. And that’s why we like Aggie too, because of the craft. This is Aggie’s best ever chance to do something, let’s be real. None of the big 3 is here. She needs it, and she has always played very well when she has needed it, we thinks. Would be a sensational coup too if Aggie hoisted the heavy metal, considering how lightly she packs. Just being real, son.

So nice to see the grass reward the bold (and Andy Murray) as it traditionally does, and for so many reasons, like the lack for the lack of prep on the stuff (can’t practice on the grounds prior to the tourny) and the onus on attack, volley, good old ‘do you have the balls to take it out of the air, far from the baseline?’ tennis. Essentially what we are describing is…TENNIS!!! So let’s make Halle a Masters 1000 and let the Olympians play their tennis at SW-19 regardless of the silly host country from here on in and perhaps we can start to undo some of the damage that plan A only Sharapova drones and straight up pushers like 90% of all 2-handers out there and their fearless leader, precious oh precious Rafael, and Florida and Chris Evert’s dad and Brad Gilbert and Plexicushion and clay have done to this game.

It was wild.

Crackbillionair (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

images-3One handed tennis prodigy realized, Grigor Dimitrov (above).

It’s always nice for a tennis fan when this time of year rolls around and the TTC begins to air live tennis, much of which is from down under, though the pro tours are going through parts of Asia and the Middle East as well.  So you may have seen some action from Qatar last week, you may have seen some tennis at AIRCEL/Chennai, but most of it has come on those spongey blue Plexicushion courts that have now seemingly covered the entire southern hemisphere in blue mush.

Catch 22 for us, really.  We despise this surface.  This surface promotes defensive play, rally tennis, and a bland, homogenized version of the game that has practically seen the extinction of the volley, one handed tennis, and namely, the one handed backhand.  We’re not going to leave it at it’s Australia’s prerogative.  Sorry.  There’s plenty of Plexicushion all over the world, and sickeningly enough, we have to watch the atrocious American swing that includes Indian Wells–a putrid Plexicushion event that diminishes the talent of the worthy and rewards the meek–and Miami (Key Biscayne), which is probably an even slower, and more terrible surface, if it can be so, on that retched Defense-Pro.  If you smirk at this, recall a practically unbeatable Roger Federer, mid prime, losing to journeyman grunt Guillermo Canas in successive weeks in 2007.  But, Australia was more than happy to sell out to Plexicushion, for fear of having a tournament “too similar” to the U.S. Open.  God forbid the most successful tournament in the world be the model, but what do we know?

http://www.foxsports.com.au/tennis/federer-unimpressed-by-plexicushion/story-e6frf4mu-1111115309530#.UOuCFI42UqY

The Australian legacy is grass court tennis and this major was played on grass in all of its years until 1987.  Maybe Australia can find the pattern when it comes to moving away from fast surfaces.  Because moving away from fast surfaces damages tennis talent, and Australia is largely irrelevant as a tennis nation in singles (the top Australian male is Bernard Tomic at #64; there are 2 Australian women in the top 100), and hasn’t produced any of the attack style players that make their legacy since they transitioned from grass to … plastic.  Once, the Aussies owned the game.  Even if that time is long passed, most people my age can vouch for Pat Cash and Patrick Rafter.  But Australia sought to destroy their legacy with bouncy surfaces–first Rebound Ace and now Plexicushion–and so now Australia produces two handed hackers like everywhere else, hardly any of them being good.

The Australians, for all their grand history are little more than tennis morons who have contributed to the ruination of the game, in a nutshell, but we can’t let it bother us too much, except insofar as it has diluted the talent pool and complexity of talent beyond repair.  The Aussie legends themselves, old men like Laver and Newcombe, were given free Plexicushion courts and since they are now 80 years old or so, they just love how “spring-y” Plexicushion is on their joints, and so they endorse putting Plexicushion in just about every development.  But ask Rafael Nadal how Plexicushion is working out for him, should you need the word of a player.  Nadal skipped this season entirely, and frankly, if we are to believe the Rafa injury timeline, he hasn’t been himself since he left Australia last year.  We even hear that Nadal’s stomach virus is largely bogus and that he is already practicing heartily on red clay in Spain.  A curious thing for a guy to forego all of those points to defend, lest he truly despises the surface and is trying to prolong his career.  Or ask Lleyton Hewitt, who has complained vociferously about the surface being too slow.  What really can we expect from Australia though, a depressed nation economically, in a bitter fight to keep their major, who has mismanaged the game in their country woefully to the point where there is basically no talent on either side, and who had to rebrand the AO as the “South Pacific/Pan Asian” major in an attempt to stave off the oil rich nations who have sought to downgrade Australia to a Super 9 and to re-organize the majors so that the Australian Open becomes “The Major at Dubai” or Beijing.  Also why, if you’re wondering, Tennis Australia rushed to up the prize pot when Roger Federer suggested this past summer that players may be willing to skip Melbourne if the lower round payouts were not seriously increased.  Obviously Australia is the only major any players of note would ever seriously consider boycotting, and Tennis Australia knew it, and did the right thing.  In this case.  Check out the article below in which luminaries from Federer to Wilander, a defensive style player, to Paul McNamee and a host of others scratch their heads over the inscrutable choice of Plexicushion for Melbourne.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/13/sports/13iht-srtennis.5.9176593.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Nadals and Hewitts, pushers, counter attackers, are guys who generally favor a slower track.  But not at the expense of their health or ability to end points.  Nadal sometimes needs a miracle to finish a point, and Hewitt can use the pace of a quick court to his advantage, because his balls need a little help getting through the court, help he does not get on the Plex because one is left to generate all of the pace, pretty much, on their own.  Or, as we shift the focus of this piece more to one handers, it can’t be of little consequence that Roger Federer has skipped all the Plexicushion warmups this year, and that he has already announced that he is skipping Key Biscayne, despite whatever the given reasons, because the surface is too slow.  Federer suffered his worst hard court loss ever there to Nadal, in a match where conditions suited Rafa better than slow red clay.  Federer also lost to Andy Roddick on that Defense Pro, which had not happened in some 10 years prior, and it was also the scene of Roger’s notorious racquet smashing incident.  While we expect Roger at Kooyong next week (an exo, not a tournament), we definitely feel there is a lot to Federer skipping these events when healthy.  Especially missing Miami, which we see as a huge statement on the surface issue.

Kudos to Roger, really.  As the world’s foremost tennis God, Federer’s decisions resound loudly.  Really, the people in Florida and California are no brighter than those in Australia, and they are all guilty of homogenizing the game with slow courts that have become the norm, and with safe, baseline philosophy, the hallmark of which is the dreaded two handed backhand, which leaves players moored to the back of the court, and so the result is players like Sharapova, whose fundamentals are an absolute disgrace, an embarrassment to tennis, having to hit groundstroke after groundstroke to win and then re-win the same point, because no one bothered to teach her how to take 3 steps inside the court and take the ball out of the air.  And if you don’t think that has a great deal to do with her injuries, her chronic shoulder situation, and the fact that she isn’t playing now, then you are deluding yourself.

The AO wants 6 hour finals and 60 shot rallies and that’s too much tennis.  Here’s a novel concept: courts that promote shot making, where players actually finish points and can get done with their business before they develop tendinitis of one sort or other.  A court that promotes the high bounce may seem to favor defensive tennis in the short term, but what of the long term consequence, in terms of degrading players’ health past the point of their ability to compete.  Obviously Nadal has been degraded, with his puke style and slow high bounce surfaces to thank.  Last year Djokovic was clearly not the same in Flushing after such a long, grueling season, and since he is the better player, vastly superior to Andy Murray, we can’t see how justice is done when safe, bland Murray style tennis wins out.  Grigor Dimitrov, who checked in at #48 last week (now #41), and who we should congratulate for making his 1st tour final, lost Saturday night in a tight 7-6, 6-4 decision to Andy Murray, who used the “strategy” of lofting top spin up to Dimitrov’s backhand side, to force errors.  As was reported late last night by our main man Down Under, Matt Cronin, Dimitrov was right there with Murray, until 4 consecutive UFE’s on the backhand wing off high top spin did him in (9th game, 2nd set).  Still, we’re happy to see the improvement from Dimitrov, who we’ve long regarded as one of the only up and coming one handers in the game.  Like Serena, we’ve seen an improvement in Dimitrov since making the switch to Patrick Mouratoglou, who seems to be more mature, and stronger shot to shot.  Making such an early final in 2013 does wonders for Dimitrov’s confidence, whose trajectory toward the top 20 seems imminent.  Dimitrov, largely schooled on clay, is well suited to survive slow courts as long as he, like Federer, moves around the backhand in the ad court, which should leave him poised to make a nice run come the better grass and hard courts of the summer season.  BTW, Dimitrov’s draw sprang open when he upset Milos Raonic early in the week.  The notable stat we took from that encounter was that Dimitrov out aced Raonic 10-4.  If you can out serve Raonic, you’ve definitely got him.  Says something for Dimitrov’s return game as well.  And while we are on Raonic, we find it curious that he did not roll out to Chennai, as he usually does, and where he usually goes deep, last year picking up the hardware there.  But Chennai is only a 250, and they play on acrylic hard courts (more similar to the faster–notice we didn’t exactly say fast though–US Open Decoturf courts), not synthetic ones, so Raonic’s team felt it might be better to get the kid in against better competition on more representative courts of what is to come in Melbourne.  The result happened to be that Raonic has gotten off to his worst start to a year yet, but we’ve quibbled with it enough for now.  We trust Galo Blanco’s stewardship of Raonic, and don’t necessary mean to criticize the team as much as highlight the fact that Raonic has had enormous success in the years where he has gotten off to flying starts.

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/06/09/grigor-dimitrov-one-handed-tennis-prodigy-out-in-2nd-round-at-queens-club-see-dimitrov-clips/

We noticed a very impressive young German one hander the other day, Daniel Brands, who is 6’5, and at 25 years old, is finally coming into his talent, a taller order for skilled players who develop later, than for hacks who just play the ball back with regularity.  Like James Blake, who we are still waiting on to really develop.  LOL.  It takes time to craft the all court game, which Brands, who at world #153 (now #131) has now seemed to have done, bowing out in the semis at Qatar, a result that saw him rise up the ATP rankings some, after a stunning 6-1, 7-5 victory over Gael Monfils, in which Brands dominated the match at net and with his one handed backhand, which looked to us to be as good as practically anyone’s on tour at this time.  While it is hard to chirp about the world #153, that is the sorry state of one handed tennis in today’s bland, boring tennis world.  Also, a little easier, since a Brands roars out of the gate in the new year.  We’ve seen many guys who weren’t really on the radar, and girls, who have gotten it together in style when the new year rolled around.  Raonic would be a great example of one.  Brands lost in the semis to eventual champion Richard Gasquet, who is world #10 and who, in all likelihood, is the 2nd best one hander in the game today.  Gasquet defeated Nikolay Davydenko, who seems to be in a bit of a renaissance himself of late, in a workman like 3 sets.  Davydenko has obviously worked hard to try to recapture the attention to detail needed to play war of attrition tennis, and some days, like against Ferrer in the semis, he has seemed to find the fountain of youth.  But Gasquet is a guy groomed on clay, suited to hit a lot of shots, and so we were happy to see him stay with that match yesterday, of the opinion that Davydenko could be worn down by guys who stay with the program.  Ironic indeed, since a beautiful shot maker like Gasquet is forced to outlast a hack like Davydenko, but such is the game.  Consequently, Gasquet has had a great start to 2013 and we feel very good about his chances going forward, a skilled shot maker and net player indeed, but who also has the requisite grit today’s game requires to stay on the court, match after match, with guys whose best strategy is to get one more ball back.

While it has seemed that certain developments have foretold some dissatisfaction with the prevalence toward slow courts, like the blue clay in Madrid, the very fast Paris Indoor, and the roof at Wimbledon, which no doubt helped Roger Federer collect his 7th singles crown there, the damage has already been done.  The game is all 2-handers, weak 2nd servers, top spins and high bounces, and baseline baseline baseline.  Even kids who grew up idolizing Roger are adopting 2 hand backhands, as more of the one handers on the scene go the way of the dinosaur each year.  We actually feel that they’ve sped up the clay a bit, as well, as the powers that be are tired of seeing Nadal style tennis win out match after match, but the horse has long since left the barn.

That’s part of why we feel a lot better about clay than we do about Plexicushion at the moment.  Players have served big on clay lately, especially taller players, and all the height in the game has somewhat negated the Nadal, Murray strategy of getting the ball up high to guys with spin on the backhand side.  Monfils was trying to do it to Brands, but good luck finding the high backhand on a guy six and a half feet tall.  And clay is a surface where the drop shot really holds, and where, because of change of direction issues, you always have a play at a winner by going behind your opponent.  Plexicushion has taken these plays away, meaning that only brute power the likes of no one but Serena possesses, and endurance, are the deciding factors.

So, is 2013 a good year for one handers?  Well, Saturday wasn’t bad, we’ll admit.  Maybe it has even been a great start to the season for one handers, though let’s not get crazy.  The surface issues and Chris Evert Academy type coaching philosophies that have left the game bereft of diverse talent and attack style tennis have really decimated the game for traditional tennis fans who can’t stand watching 5 hour matches in which players don’t get to net 10 times, and that’s only getting worse, despite the occasional glimmers of hope we see from time to time.

But at least there are a few bright lights still out there.  Especially Roger Federer, who we feel, will have a very good opportunity to take his 5th Aussie title in a few weeks and his 18th major title, especially if he can stick to the hard slice in the inevitable Djoker, Murray matchups, forcing those players to make their own pace exclusively, without an opportunity to use Federer’s pace against him.

Lamenting the State of Tennis,

Crackbillionair (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

Ivan Lendl (above, R.) makes time for new pupil Andy Murray.  But will he make enough time?

We’ve been meaning to admonish Andy Murray a little.  Perhaps it was good we waited, in light of the news that he was banged up in Miami.  We’re still gonna admonish him, but if he was nursing a hip injury it would explain why he didn’t execute on his game plan in Sunday’s Miami final against Djokovic.

We didn’t see much from Murray there who was extremely lucky to be in that final.  We know Murray likes playing on this surface, theoretically.  But he hasn’t played nearly as well in Miami on the Defensepro surface as he has on Plexicushion, where he has made 2 Australian finals and in one of the semis dominated Rafael Nadal.  Defensepro is the slowest hard surface at any of the stops on the tour.  Floridians like their hardcourts to be gritty and sandy.  All of their players seem to be In the mold of their matriarch, Chris Evert.  Pushers until the end.  Though Evert did it all on the court as well as anyone and these little girls and boys just seem to embody the pukey pusher stuff.

Theoretically, Murray is ideal at pukey pusher.  In actuality, he does better when he dictates and goes for his ground strokes.  He doesn’t get any free points at all on that slow of a court and that’s too few for anyone.  So a guy like Tipsarevic, who takes some initiative, can do damage.  But Murray goes classic grinder, letting it get to where he was a set and a break down before really grinding it out.  And in doing so, he comes up a little lame on what looked to be his left side, probably off another back footed forehand.  He seemed to tweak his left hip.  Still he pulled out that match and won his next on a Nadal retirement.  Who is surprised by that (but that’s another story)?

So Murray, we thought looked good in that match based on Nadal’s gimped out knee.  After looking at how Djokovic dismantled Murray in that final, we’d like to reconsider.  Murray might have been hampered in that match.  Could Djokovic have dominated like that for so long if Murray was right?  Probably.  But the last few matchups have been very close.  Djokovic is the king of slow hardcourts after all though.  His winning in a route over anyone could not come as all that surprising.

But Murray seemed abnormally frustrated in that match to us.  We are thinking he was not right.  Even so, he’s had a healthy year so far and he has made the final of the year’s only major.  The Lendl philosophy has been omitted from certain matches, like his loss to Guillermo Garcia Lopez at Indian Wells.  He played classic pusher tennis, thinking his gameplan could be simple enough to just direct toward the Lopez backhand.  Too simple indeed, and though it worked against Tipsarevic in South Beach, the effect of the grind left Murray too lame for Djokovic.

Lendl is there to remake the Murray forehand and embolden the kid to do more than push.  Though he’s not really there there to the point were Cahill is sub coaching a bunch.  Cahill and Lendl have very different philosophies.  Lendl is also there to improve the gameplanning.  Just directing to a guy’s backhand seemed to be the Cahill strategy, and that’s about the speed of a Cahill blueprint.  That style will however suit him well on clay where, in our minds, he has improved a great deal.  Murray seemed to play all his matches on clay with  confidence.  He made the semis at Roland Garros.  He looked to have a real shot against Djokovic in Rome where he took the 1st set 6-1.  That was one of the best sets he played all last year and one of the best anyone played all year.

So hard to predict how he’ll come into the clay season.  He seemed last year to really find his footing on clay, but he did get in a nice rhythm with matches.  We think that this year his success on clay will be tied to Lendl.  Lendl was an excellent clay courter, winning 3 FO titles.  If Lendl is there running the show then Murray can do a lot of damage.

That’s a far cry from where we are usually at with him.  At one point we were convinced he’d never pan out on clay.  But now he is probably 4th or 5th best on clay with a much more realistic shot at taking out a Titan in the big spot.  Lendl is perhaps the biggest winner in coaching right now with 8 majors.  Lendl gets Murray so well because he also liked to ground stroke people to death once upon a time.  Lendl was one of the first players to start passing up volleys in favor of big forehands.  Bad tennis.  We hate to see that.  Happens every few seconds in the women’s game, and almost that frequently in the men’s game.

To be very honest though, while Murray is a fine talent, he is not the Lendl doomsday stroking machine.  Lendl’s poor short game and shaky transition skills prevented him from ever winning Wimbledon, which served him right for essentially starting the trend away from complete tennis.  Murray, a pretty good doubles player, actually does have great hands at net.  But as we’ve said of Murray’s hands at net, they are more like the tree falling in the forest.  How would anyone know about them if he never actually uses them?

Hopefully Lendl will give the kid an honest appraisal of what it takes to win Wimbledon, a sort of ‘the error in my ways’ speech.  The irony is rich.  Wimbledon being so big for Murray, as it was for Lendl, who won everything but.  But first, Lendl has to get the kid primed for clay season, a far easier task with Murray’s skills seeming to really click on clay last year, but hard enough via cell phone or skype.

So we’d really like Murray on clay, a bit more than on grass anyway, if we knew that Lendl was actually going to be there.  After Murray spent a month with Lendl prior to Australia, his forehand looked cleaner than ever.  the last few weeks though, his forehand looks more like another Adidas star, Caroline Wozniacki.  While we said recently that we’d be happy to take zero for our over/under on Murray career majors, we could also see him winning big on every surface.  It’s that close.

We know Lendl sees it too.  He wouldn’t roll out of bed for just anyone.  He was after all completely absent from the tour almost all of these years since retiring.  But if he still has that yen to be away from the game as much as he has been since taking Murray’s reins, then he is the wrong man for Murray, who’s youth is fading fast.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

De facto world #1, lefty Petra Kvitova (above) of the Czech Republic.

We are sensing a theme to the Vegas lines on all of the semi-finals action tonight, which includes both women’s matches and the Federer-Nadal match.  It seems like Vegas is paying a great, great deal of respect to the bigger name, in each matchup.  Essentially, the player with more major victories is weighted a lot more heavily in each matchup.  Starting with the under card, which could be a headliner on it’s own.  Odds below:

2012 Australian Open Ladies 1st Semi-final — 9:30 PM EST

Clijsters:  – 110

Azarenka:  – 110

………

We like Azarenka.  A lot.  Sure we have been watching Clijsters matches and we could not be more impressed with how she strapped it up after rolling her ankle against Na Li, and then, how she clobbered Wozniacki.  We aren’t surprised.  But Azarenka is the best player that Clijsters has played in a long time, and she is playing the best tennis of anyone that Clijsters has played in a long time.  While Clijsters has a 4-2 lead in the h2h, Azarenka has played Clijsters very tough, even before she was the player she now is.  Azarenka won their last matchup, on a soft, slow hardcourt in Miami, very similar conditions.  And Azarenka, dating back to the fall has not lost to anyone except Kvitova, twice, and those matches were very close, coming down to a few points here or there.  Vegas likes what is tried and true.  Azarenka, wethinks, is not totally on the radar.  And obviously Clijsters has a very good chance to win.  But we feel the guard is changing, and that Azarenka is a new it player, soon to get her due.  Like tonight, and then on to her 1st major final on Saturday.

Australian Open Ladies 2nd Semi-final — 11:30 PM EST

Kvitova:  – 135

Sharapova:  – 105

……

So first off, we don’t get how Sharapova has a negative money line here.  She is the worse player, no doubt about it.  None.  Kvitova has been unbeatable, and has played very clutch, very smart, and very efficient tennis, in winning the YEC, the Fed Cup, and in beating Sharapova easily at Wimbledon.  You know, we are kind of tired of hearing about Sharapova and extremely tired of hearing Chris Evert blather on about her, about all of them, about everything.  We liked it much better before ESPN broke her out of the moth balls.  Evert is in love with Sharapova, predicting her for majors this year and whatnot…we don’t see it.  Serena aside, this is a young women’s game.  Younger women’s game.  And Sharapova looks older in this matchup.  This is not another Makarova matchup.  Kvitova will take Sharapova’s time away and that will be that.  In fact, we like her very much in specific, to win in two sets. There is nothing that Sharapova does that Kvitova can’t do much better, and some things Kvitova does, Sharapova doesn’t do at all.  Like volley.

And so in our minds, the rightful final will be a rematch of the YEC final, where Kvitova takes the hardware.  But first, they need to take care of business tonight.  We’re betting they will.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

American upstart Beatrice Capra (above).

Eighteenth seeded Frenchwoman Aravane Rezai, who at times has looked unstoppable over the past few months, was not so impressed with the woman who pulled the surprising upset victory over her in round 2 of the US Open, Beatrice Capra.  Of Capra, Rezai would say in her tortured english:

“I play better than her,” Rezai said. “I did a lot of good winners, but not regularly.

“She did nothing very exceptional. Not many winners. There was a lot of lucky balls, a lot of balls on the line – so many small points like this.”

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/more_sports/2010/09/03/2010-09-03_beatrice_capra_is_2010_version_of_melanie_oudin_the_american_darling_of_flushing.html

Sour grapes on the part of Rezai?  Maybe a little, but I’m usually not one to slam players for telling the truth.  Capra only managed 18 winners versus Rezai, and held serve an awful 6 out 15 times.  But Capra’s defensive skills, combined with Rezai’s errors, added up to the improbable win for Capra, the 18 year-old Maryland product who trains at the Evert academy.

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/09/03/baltimores-beatrice-capra-to-face-sharapova-in-round-3-at-the-open/

Maria Sharapova, 14th seed, and former US Open Champion, handled Capra’s weak game and lack of weapons with aplomb today, handing the youngster what will no doubt be the worst loss, score-wise, in her career, 6-0, 6-0 in 1 hour and 13 minutes.  Capra hit only 3 winners in 73 minutes, and one of those winners was her only ace.  As we have discussed, Capra at least has the chance to add some closing shots to her game and some bang to her serve, considering that 5’9 frame of hers.

Though some said the same thing about the ultra defensive Jelena Jankovic, who we are still waiting on, when we talk about your classic popgun player finally developing some finish.  Today it was 31st seeded Estonian Kaia Kanepi who took the action to Jankovic, ending her latest improbable quest for a major, and denying Jankovic a spot in the 2nd week at The Open for a 2nd straight year.

Here are the match stats:

Jankovic(SRB)   Kanepi(EST)
         
 
  1st Serve %
60 of 87 = 69 %
44 of 64 = 69 %
 
  Aces
1
2
 
  Double Faults
3
2
 
  Unforced Errors
41
37
 
  Winning % on 1st Serve
27 of 60 = 45 %
29 of 44 = 66 %
 
  Winning % on 2nd Serve
15 of 27 = 56 %
11 of 20 = 55 %
 
  Winners
13
19
 
  Receiving Points Won
24 of 64 = 38 %
45 of 87 = 52 %
 
  Break Point Conversions
3 of 4 = 75 %
5 of 14 = 36 %
 
  Net Approaches
6 of 12 = 50 %
10 of 12 = 83 %
 
  Total Points Won
66
85
 
  Fastest Serve Speed
110 MPH
109 MPH
 
  Average 1st Serve Speed
92 MPH
91 MPH
 
  Average 2nd Serve Speed
79 MPH
84 MPH

http://www.usopen.org/en_US/scores/stats/day12/2305ms.html

Thirteen winners in 1 hour and 48 minutes?  One ace?  For Jankovic, a former world # 1–though the ranking was more a product of serious injuries to Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, and the temporary retirements of Belgians Clijsters and Henin–the loss marked her participation in 30 majors with no major titles.

We always have seriously doubted whether she has major champion’s stock.  In fact, we’re convinced she’ll never win a major.  As they say, you are only as good as your second serve.  For Jankovic, despite 5 major semi-final appearances and one US Open final appearance, she may throw the worst 2nd ball in the women’s game.

Jankovic has advanced past the round of 16 only once in her last 8 majors (2010 at Roland Garros).

–Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com)

Eighteen year-old American Beatrice Capra (above).

Maryland native and fledgling pro Beatrice Capra, who made the main draw of the 2010 US Open because she won a qualifying tournament in April at the USTA Training Center in Boca Raton which saw her awarded a wildcard, upset Croatian and world # 94 Karolina Sprem, 6-1, 6-3 in the first round, and then followed the impressive romp with a gritty upset win over 18th seeded Frenchwoman Aravane Rezai today.  For Capra, the world’s # 371 female player, the victory over Rezai represented her first over a top twenty player.  Rezai has flashed exceptional form at times this year, moving from outside the top 50 to into the top 20, and winning the Madrid championship on clay by beating Venus Williams quite handily.

Capra, content to be the retriever today, managed her game very well.  She made only 30 errors in 2 hours and 13 minutes, and pulled out the win despite losing on total points, 94-91.  Check out the match stats below:

    Rezai(FRA)   Capra(USA)
         
 
  1st Serve %
54 of 85 = 64 %
64 of 100 = 64 %
 
  Aces
3
3
 
  Double Faults
5
5
 
  Unforced Errors
49
30
 
  Winning % on 1st Serve
37 of 54 = 69 %
41 of 64 = 64 %
 
  Winning % on 2nd Serve
11 of 31 = 35 %
13 of 36 = 36 %
 
  Winners
34
18
 
  Receiving Points Won
46 of 100 = 46 %
37 of 85 = 44 %
 
  Break Point Conversions
6 of 13 = 46 %
6 of 13 = 46 %
 
  Net Approaches
11 of 13 = 85 %
8 of 14 = 57 %
 
  Total Points Won
94
91
 
  Fastest Serve Speed
111 MPH
106 MPH
 
  Average 1st Serve Speed
90 MPH
98 MPH
 
  Average 2nd Serve Speed
78 MPH
79 MPH

http://www.usopen.org/en_US/scores/stats/day10/2203ms.html

The 49 errors surely did Rezai in, as her young American opponent only struck 18 winners, barely approached the net at all, and was topping out on her second serves in the low 80’s on the gun.  Though the win–no, wins–for Capra have been impressive and have served notice, we hope, of the arrival of a promising young American, her lack of weapons will surely be exploited for the big hitting Sharapova, who comes in to the tournament as one of the favorites to capture her 4th major, and second US Open title.

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/08/30/vegas-makes-clijsters-slight-favorite-over-sharapova-to-win-3rd-open-title/

Capra, who trains at the Evert Academy under Chris Evert in Florida, may have the defensive prowess to take advantage of an off Sharapova, who is serving poorly and making a lot of errors.  But Sharapova seems to be back to a high level, and Capra has been playing all week with the house’s money. 

 Capra’s game has drawn considerable comparisons with Melanie Oudin’s, who made a Cinderalla run to the quarter-finals last year.  No such Cinderella streak for Oudin this year, who was eliminated in straights in the 2nd round by Alona Bondarenko, 6-2, 7-5, in 1 hour and 29 minutes.  Though most have cited Oudin’s accomplishments in the last 14 months when comparing her to Capra, people should keep in mind that Capra, because of her size (5’9), has a considerable edge when it comes to her serve, reach, and net coverage, and that could translate into a better upside for Capra down the road than for the diminutive Oudin.  And let’s not forget big serving Pensylvania native, Alison Riske, who burst onto the tennis scene earlier this summer during the grass court season.

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/06/12/young-american-alison-riske-to-face-sharapova-in-semis-at-birmingham-see-videos/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/06/12/sharapova-gets-by-american-riske-in-birmingham-semi/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/06/24/american-melanie-oudin-upset-by-jarmila-groth-of-australia-in-round-2-wimbledon/

–Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com)

World # 21, Russian Vera Zvonareva has a tall order tomorrow in her first ever major final, as she is set to take on # 1 seed and defending champion, Serena Williams, who is yet to drop a set in this fortknight at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.

While Zvonareva’s road to the final has been impressive and included wins over US Open Champion Kim Clijsters and world # 3 Jelena Jankovic, albeit a very banged up Jankovic (is there any other kind?), the 2009 Australian Open semi-finalist (she lost to eventual final’s loser, Dinara Safina, 7-6, 6-3), will be hardpressed to keep her Cinderella run alive tomorrow against Serena, who is 12-3 in major finals, and who has only lost to two women in those finals: her sister Venus, and Maria Sharapova.

Zvonareva’s perserverance must be lauded.  She got out to bad starts in both the quarter and semi-final rounds, dropping the first set in Tuesday’s quarters to Kim Clijsters before pulling the upset, and in Thursday’s semis, when she lost the first set to Tsvetana Pironkova 6-3, before Pironkova seemed like she started letting nerves creep in during the 2nd set.  But Zvonareva, a great touch player, won 29/35 points at net in a close match that she came out on top in, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, in which only 9 points separated the two players.

Zvonareva’s road to the final:

1st round: 6-4, 6-1 over Nuria Llagostera Vives

2nd round: 6-1, 6-4 over Andrea Hlavackova

3rd round: 6-4, 6-2 over (15) Yanina Wickmayer

4th round: 6-1, 3-0 over (4) Jelena Jankovic

Quarter-finals: 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 over (8) Kim Clijsters

Semi-finals: 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 over Tsvetana Pironkova

Zvonareva’s road gets much tougher come 9 AM EST, Saturday, NBC.  Serena Williams, currently tied for 6th all time with Billie Jean King with 12 major singles titles, can move up that list by securing her fourth Wimbledon singles title, can also tie King’s 4 Wimbledon crowns in the open era, can pass Chris Evert with whom she is tied at 3 Wimbledon titles, and a victory would put her in a tie for 4th in the open era for most Wimbledon titles behind Martina Navratilova (9), Steffi Graf (7), Venus Williams (5), and King (4).  Billie Jean King has won 6 singles titles at Wimbledon, 2 coming prior to the open era.

Serena will look to take the crown behind her incredible serve, called by many, including yours truly, the best serve in the game, and perhaps the best shot ever in the women’s game.  Williams has 80 aces to lead the tournament, and in 2nd is Venus with only 30 aces (through 5 matches).

Unlike Paris, I don’t see a Cinderella story playing out against a top 5 player, all time, and by far, the best player in the game tomorrow.  Zvonareva could play almost perfect tennis and still lose.  Maybe that’s just me being patriotic on 4th of July weekend.

Serena leads in the head to head 5 to 1, and her only loss to Zvonareva came in Cincinnati in 2006 on hard courts.

GO U-S-A!!!!

–Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)