Dinara Safina


Fed on the forehand volley (above).

When my young son often queries me about the tennis rankings system, usually his fascination rests with the fact that the best player is often not the number one player.  Like at present, in both the men’s and women’s game.  Djokovic is clearly the best player, and Nadal is number one, and with the ladies, how Caroline Wozniacki is the women’s #1.  I’ve asked the same questions myself since I was a boy.  But in recent times, the amount of times that a false number one has occupied the top spot for many weeks as helped validate that the women’s game is a joke.  Safina, who at least made a few major finals to go along with her major meltdown, Jankovic, who held the top spot for an embarrassing 25 weeks, perhaps the worst fundamental tennis player in years, and now Wozniacki, who got spanked today by Hantuchova 6-1, 6-3 in about 70 minutes.  She’ll also retain the ranking and go into the grass court season as #1.  And what has she done to deserve that?

Okay, she has 4 clay court titles this year, and 6 overall.  We laughed a little when she said after the loss, “clay is not my favorite surface.”  But really, here’s why we dislike Mary Joe Fernandez so much, and can’t stand that she captains our Fed Cup.  She talks about Wozniacki, talks about her ranking, see’s her ticket punched in round 3, and says sutff like, ‘the computer’s going to give her credit for going out there and playing every week.”  It’s a dumb computer.  And for Fernandez to back it up when she has a job in tennis, smacks to us of more riding with the establishment.  Patrick McEnroe also probably loves the computer.

When Jankovic was #1, in that year, she had about a 55-28 record, which means she would about make the round of 16, with a bye, of most of her tournaments, and then lose.  Federer lost 4,6, and 7 matches from 2005 to 2007.  It’s obvious why, too.  Jankovic is a hack.  She can’t play and has no guts, besides.  Worst serves, volleys, forehands, transitions, and touch in the game.  With Wozniacki, it’s not quite as bad, because she has some better fundamentals, but she has even less guts.  These girls are petrified to come in and hit a volley, and you know what?  Maybe Hantuchova is also, but she goes for it and can rip huge forehands.  What can Wozniacki do? 

The 2 played on the American putrid super slow Spring hardcore season, and Hantuchova was off.  Wozniacki blew her out in the first set, and then Hantuchova loosened up, and the 2nd set went to a tie-breaker, and Wozniacki won because she was running really well and more on her game.  When it didn’t matter.  As the computer rewarded her for playing every week, Wozniacki played three meaningless green clay events and won them.  Green clay is very different than red clay.  There are no majors on green clay.  Here she is, exhausted today, having wasted her chance at a major by playing meaningless stops.

Do you see the men playing on green clay on the men’s tour?  They do not waste their time.  I’d like to know the last green clay event played on the regular men’s tour.  But the men are playing some interesting tennis right now, at one of the best week ones in recent memory.  You see Federer?  Who has allowed 2 break points in 3 best of 5 set matches, with 2 of the opponents being very good players.  How about this stat?  In the last two rounds, Federer has made all nine of nine serve and volley points.  In the Texeira match, that was 7 out of a total 84 points.  That’s a substantial percentage of the points on clay in the modern game.

Roger must love these balls.  And he’s all set to meet his buddy Stan.  Roger has played about of a 3rd of the time in rounds 2 and 3 as Wawrinka needed today to take out Tsonga.  Roger’s last two clinics leave him fit and fresh to serve out wide to Stan a few times and then knock the volley off.  Rafa, who plays tomorrow, can’t be too in love with the balls for a change.  Sixteen break points for Pablo Andujar and nearly being pinned alive by Isner’s serve.  Some 7 plus hours of court time in 2 matches.  That doesn’t mean Antonio Veic looks great, the journeyman Croat, who takes on Nadal.  But he is hotter than ever, the world’s #227, and did just take out Davydenko.  But we’re gonna guess he’s the type of underdog who makes a lot of sense on the money line.  We’ll give it to you in a bit.    And we’re not trying to disrespect Nadal.  We’ve seen guys give him a tussle early and thought the demise was imminent, and he’s gone on to win some of those majors.  But it would be crazy if Roger could blast these quick balls all over the place in a semi-final matchup with Rafa, keep the points short, and win this thing while taking out Nadal on the way.  It is pretty much the only knock the putrid baseliners cling to.

We won’t say he’s not gonna do it.  And that it won’t be great for the game.  And then what will the Roger haters say?  That he didn’t beat Djokovic, if say, Andy Murray breaks through on clay and beats the Djoker, who is due to lose, even if he survives Del Potro, who I must say, has a wicked serve for clay.  Djokovic has gotten used to putting every ball in play and fighting for every point.  He’s just standing around hoping a lot of the time here, and either way, that’s the kind of thing you wanna see, even if it gonna air around 7 or 8 AM tomorrow.

Here are those odds we promised:

Nadal:  – 10000

Veic:  + 2500

That’s the same line they gave Isner.  By the way, we also think Murray is extremely over-favored:

Murray:  – 5000

Berrer:  + 1500

And we’ll be pulling for Mardy Fish in a tough matchup versus Frenchman Simon, and Soderling, who we also wouldn’t mind seeing in a matchup with our good friend Rafa.  Like I said, we’ve seen him do it before and win big, but we think Rafa is playing worse right now than the year the great man won his first title at Roland Garros.

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

World #112, American Christina Mchale (above).

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/08/11/federer-wins-debut-with-annacone-roddick-out-of-top-10/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/05/26/americans-in-paris/

Teaneck, New Jersey native Christina McHale, whose best wins in her young career have come on retirements to Victoria Azarenka at last year’s Family Circle Cup and and Nadia Petrova at the Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open (though to be fair, she was ahead 7-6 (4), 5-3 when Petrova laid down her racquet), notched by far the best win in her young career last night, perhaps inspired to a degree by Donald Young, when she stunned two time major champion and 11th seed, Svetlana Kuznetsova, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (7), on the torturously slow Plexicushion at Indian Wells.

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2011/03/13/donald-young-records-first-ever-important-win-defeating-andy-murray-at-indian-wells/

Despite managing to get in only 49% of her first serves, McHale, behind a very strong return game, converted on 5 of 16 break opportunities en route to the straight set victory that she sealed with two dramatic tie breaks, the second of which, by a score of 9 points to 7.  Kuznetsova only won 51% of the points on her first serve, despite making 72% of her first balls.  Frankly, the clay like, soft blue Plexicushion played too slowly for Kuznetsova, and she seemed frustrated by the night winds and lack of traction her serve and groudstrokes had and her inability to move the ball through the court.

In total, Kuznetsova only won 58 points of 116 on serve, while McHale, 2 months short of her 19th birthday, was a bit more efficient in that area.  McHale won 47 of her 88 points on serve, and was outstanding in the return area, where she stymied the clearly poorly conditioned Kuznetsova by getting so many balls back with her quickness and defensive skills.

McHale, who received a wildcard into the draw here at Indian Wells, will finally have a paycheck to speak of, after collecting a meager $460 in prize money coming into this event.  In round one, McHale defeated 66th ranked Uzbeki Akgul Amanmuradova, 6-3, 6-1.  McHale will next face Russian Nadia Petrova.  Petrova, another poorly conditioned Russian, may have her hands full with McHale in round 3, especially if the match is played at night when conditions are even heavier. 

In fact, the draw looks excellent for McHale.  Potentially, she could face Lucie Hradecka or Shuai Peng in the round of 16, as most of her quarter of the draw has completely fallen out.  A quarter-final would see McHale face one of the following players: Stosur, Safina, Rezai, Sharapova.

Indian Wells is upset city, so anything is likely to happen.  Though we despise IW for the Plexipave Slow Plexicushion surface they use, topped with more sand than perhaps any other “hardcourt” in the world for the way it favors defensive tennis and diminishes shot making, we’ll be rooting for the girl from New Jersey, who has shown a lot of heart, effort, quickness, and composure, if not true tennis talent.

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

Three time major singles champion Maria Sharapova (above).

2010 United States Open Ladies’ Champion’s Odds (August 30th — September 12th)

__________________________________________________________________________

Ana Ivanovic: + 2500 (wager 100 units to win 2500 units, plus initial wager)

Aravane Rezai: + 5000

(Y) Caroline Wozniacki: + 650

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/08/29/us-open-top-ladies-seed-caroline-wozniacki-bikini-shots/

Dinara Safina: + 5000

(Y) Elena Dementieva: + 2000

(Y) Jelena Jankovic: + 2500

(XYZ) Kim Clijsters: + 300

(X) Maria Sharapova: + 350

Melanie Oudin: + 10000

Na Li: + 5000

Nadia Petrova: + 6000

Petra Kvitova: + 6000

Samantha Stosur: + 2500

(X) Svetlana Kuznetsova: + 1200

(XYZ) Venus Williams: + 800

Vera Zvonareva: + 2000

Victoria Azarenka: + 650

Yanina Wickmayer: + 5000

Field (Any Other Player): + 400

X — denotes past champion

Y — denotes past runner-up

Z — denotes multiple champion

Enjoy The Open!

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)

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 (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

Dinara Safina, the loser of the French Open final the last two years, won the first set today from Kimiko Date Krum, but the rest of the match was a different story, though a similar plot to what we’ve seen from Safina since her epic collapse in the final against Svetlana Kuznetsova last year.

Once again, Safina’s serve left her.  The brother of 2 time major champion Marat Safin served up 17 double faults and faced 16 break points–completely unacceptible for a player of her stature.  Safina had worked so hard to put herself in position to win the French last year by greatly improving her conditioning, has become the new poster child for choking in the women’s game.  Unconscionably, Safina did not win 1 point at net in the entire match, and approached the net only 3 times in 2 hours in 34 minutes.  How does that happen?  Frankly, such woeful play is screaming for a coaching change. 

At one point, it seemed inevitable that Safina would win a major, but now, she seems a more likely candidate for upset special.  Safina, the 9th seed, is the highest seed to exit the tournament so far.

–Crack

In addition to those pictured above, major champions such as Maria Sharapova, Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, and Juan Carlos Ferrero will play their first round matches.

Check out the full schedule here:

http://www.rolandgarros.com/en_FR/scores/schedule/schedule8.html

For Henin, it will be the first match she has played at Roland Garros since the 2007 finall versus Ivanovic.  She hasn’t lost at RG since 2003.  For Nadal, who has 1 career loss at Roland Garros, he’ll be looking to show why he’s the overwhelming favorite.  For the Williams sisters, winning this tournament would give them 4 consecutive doubles majors.

The action starts at 5 AM EST.  Take advantage of the mix channels.

–Crack

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