Ester Satorova


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BNP PARIBAS @ Indian Wells, Ca — Mens Semi-finals (1st Semi, 3 PM EST)

Tomas Berdych:  + 170

Rafael Nadal:  – 220

modelo_6More of Berdych’s beautiful girlfriend (above) here:

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2011/11/25/pervy-picture-show-ester-satorova-berdychs-new-gf/

BNP PARIBAS @ Indian Wells, Ca — Mens Semi-finals (2nd Semi to follow)

Juan Martin Del Potro:  + 500

Novak Djokovic:  – 800

BNP PARIBAS @ Indian Wells, Ca — Womens Final (Sunday, March 17th @ 3 PM EST)

Caroline Wozniacki:  + 350

Maria Sharapova:  – 500

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Federer (above), arms raised in triumph.  Because of his win and Nadal’s loss early this week, he will have a better chance to raise the arms 3 weeks from today at Roland Garros.

With his 3-6, 7-5, 7-5 victory today over world #7 Tomas Berdych, Roger Federer has claimed the Madrid title for the 3rd time in his career, becoming the first man to ever win the Mutua Madrilena title on its controversial blue clay.  For Federer, it was also his 20th Masters shield, his 74th career title, and his 3rd shield of the year, in what has been a very strong campaign so far.  But in what may be the best development of the day, Federer has passed Nadal in the rankings, and will likely hold the 2nd spot through Roland Garros, which means that Federer should have an easier draw than Nadal, and may possibly avoid being in Rafa’s bracket.  If that’s the case, then Djokovic and Nadal, the tour’s two chief cry baby complainers, would possibly have each other in the semi-final at Roland Garros, where they could literally kill each other, if we’re lucky.  We’ll get back to them later.

As for Roger, what a week.  In the opener, he played in one of the year’s most entertaining matches, so narrowly defeating the comer, Milos Raonic.  We billed that match for you and it was probably even better than advertised.  We always have loved betting tennis because the difference between players, even disparate players, is often way slimmer than the odds would purport.  Like today.  There really wasn’t much separating Berdych and Federer, and the big man had a lot of chances late, jumping out to 0-30 on the 1st 3 games on Roger’s serve in the third set.  Berdych also broke back at 5-4 when Roger served for the match, then hit 3 aces to dig out of 0-40 in the next game, before Federer broke and served it out for good.  These matches this week, a grand Serena, stirring upsets of Djokovic and Nadal, and Federer throughout, saw a high level of tennis on display.

Even better perhaps than today’s match, in which both players had positive winner to UFE ratios, was the Federer-Raonic affair.  Federer was down 4-6, 5-5 (30-40), and on second serve, Federer came in, a tough proposition with Raonic passing him all the live long day, and had to come up with an extremely difficult half volley, which for him landed on the back of the line, sliding just a bit to force Raonic into a forehand error.  Federer then worked the hold, and at 4-6, 6-5, in the 21st game of the match, finally won a few points off Raonic’s first serve.  In the 1st 20 games of the match, Federer did not win one point off of Raonic’s first serve.  Incredible, really.

We have to say how impressive Raonic is, yet again.  This kid has the best flat forehand in the game today.  Federer, thinking he had a good play in approaching to the Raonic backhand, got torched.  He was only 15 of 29 at net, and yet, as one of TTC’s best voices, Robby Koenig said, he got the point he absolutely had to have.  Because if Raonic gets that break, he serves out the match and wins 6-4, 7-5, and Federer is still 3rd tomorrow.  He also has the best serve in the game right now, and has only really scratched the surface.

The Fed camp must’ve readjusted their gameplan going into today’s match with another big man with big strokes.  Federer only came in 5 times today, which was the better play, to make Berdych have to go side to side a lot.  Not that Berdych was complaining about his footing and movement on the blue, like some.  Just because he isn’t the most mobile guy.  For that matter, the only time Raonic was really exposed by Federer was on drop shots.  His laterals were tremendous.  So the work for he and Galo Blanco, and we are sure they are already back at it, is digging forward to play droppers and short slice.  One last bit on the Berdych match as well.  Berdych was slow to a drop shot in his last service game, and his forehand clipped the tape and popped long.  That little play does not adequately separate a -330 favorite from a +250 dog.

But Roger loves Madrid, loves the altitude, which adds a little zip to the ball, and also like those blue courts.  And if he didn’t, he still worked out, far far too classy to complain about a tournament so good for the game.  Djokovic and Nadal should take a lesson.  First Djokovic.  He trashed the blue clay, and also trashed the ATP, and said that the former president, who ok’d the blue, was only thinking of himself.  Now maybe it’s me, but I am having a hard time figuring out how the former ATP president personally benefited from these blue courts, unless he took a bribe from the manufacturer.

Look, we all know the ATP is shit.  We may question the dubious stats that Mutua Madrilena released about the blue clay being 27% easier for players to see the ball on, and 21% easier for fans to pick up the ball than on red clay.  While dubious to us, we must also be honest and say we did think it made for a striking court and visually pleasing tennis.  Probably because the courts played fast and we didn’t have to snore through war of attrition tennis for once.

Spray painted blue clay, recently spray painted at that, is obviously going to be quick and slick.  Instead of whining and crying, Djokovic and Nadal, who have dominated the game playing war of attrition tennis, should take the changes as a compliment.  Even in Spain, they are tired of the same players and styles dominating.  Every decade or so they will speed or slow the courts.  They slowed the courts because big serves were prevailing “too easily” and now we see they are speeding the courts because guys aren’t hitting winners.

Djokovic’s rants were classless.  And in his 2nd match against Wawrinka, it was Wawrinka who was frustrated with the court, smashing his racquet to bits on a changeover.  But Wawrinka is also too classy to complain.  As for Nadal, who says he’s never playing on the blue again, well, he should be more real.  Nadal wouldn’t miss a match, let alone a tournament on clay if he was dying.  He played at meaningless Barcelona in a 500, when Djokovic and Federer haven’t played any 500’s on clay this year or last.  When Nadal goes into his yearly, um, slide, it’s always because of cumulative effect, the toll of his matches.  So why play last week?

Because he’s a greedy, whiny moron.  No one really honestly says what’s going on with Nadal.  Nobody calls him out for bad sportsmanship when he stalls, or shadow boxes, or does his dumb laps or takes his little penguin steps, and fails to play to the speed of the server.  We’d love to see him skip a tournament in his home nation on clay, but it isn’t going to happen.  So why cry?  He lost one match on clay in a year, and the time he loses, against a friend of his who finally gets to beat him after 14 previous losses or whatever it was, he has to complain.  What a glaring lack of sportsmanship.  The guy was up 2 breaks, 5-2 in the 3rd, and 15-0 when he put an easy smash into the net bottom.  From there he got swept out like trash.  That’s the issue, not the clay.  Like Billie Jean King said of the surface, and of the complaining, champions adjust.

The first woman to win on the blue was Serena, who pretty much invalidated Azarenka’s banner year in about 55 minutes today, with a 6-1, 6-3 win over the now shaky new queen.  In all likelihood, Azarenka was probably really done for in about 25 minutes after the 6-1 first set drubbing.  We bet Azarenka, theoretically, and that was a bad bit of business, as we knew well it might have been.  We said as much.  In retrospect, with Serena laying waste to the competition on similar green clay in Charleston @ the FCC, we perhaps should’ve known better.  But we still think for Serena, success on clay today doesn’t necessarily translate into success on clay tomorrow.  But moving up from #9 with a stout win means she will play an easier draw at RG.

Here’s a nice stat for Serena Williams that we saw today and which earns her even more kudos.  She has now beaten 13 world #1’s in her career, the 3rd most of all time.  If you can name them all, we’ll owe you a bit of our own clay, a smoke-able number.

As for Berdych, you are still a winner, friend.  You get to go home with Ester Satorova.

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

Stacey Gardner (left, above) and Ester Satorova.

Originally we were going to light up The Tennis Channel for it’s diminished coverage of our beloved Hopman Cup, which is a celebration of tennis, a multi-national competition sometimes decided by our dearly beloved mixed doubles–how novel–and the greatest of New Year’s pick me ups.  It is true that TTC only televised three sessions of the Hopman Cup, but in it’s quest to cover American tennis primarily, and with the blah team of Mardy Fish and Bethanie Mattek-Sands representing America, could we really blame them?  In this day and age, if you can’t find just about any tennis online live, you have no business criticizing the The Tennis Channel anyway.  But criticizing Fish and Sands?  That’s a cottage industry.

Well, if you hearken back to last year when John Isner–a winner–and Sands partnered up to win Hopman Cup XXIII, you couldn’t have been too displeased with Sands, who perhaps had no business tussling with Justine Henin, but who did pull her weight admirably in perhaps sharing with Isner in her greatest tennis glory.  And was it not a sight to see Justine Henin returning serve to John Isner?  Let’s face it, Sands is a middling player at best, a blight on our Fed Cup team, a high socked, neon dyed chubby little picture of bad fashion with the girliest popgun forehand in the women’s top 55, but she is not a disgrace to American tennis.  The girl gets doubles, understands well her limitations, and therefore uses the net, approaches as much as possible with nice touch at net, and again, she came through as much as one could expect her to last year to get USA her sixth Hopman Cup.

It’s not her fault that her meager game gets trotted out so regularly to horrible results by Mary Joe Fernandez.  That would be the USTA’s fault.  So when the Czech sounded the American death knell the other morning, and Sands got obliterated by Kvitova, as she should, and when Fish got abused by Berdych, as expected, we put no blame on Ms. Sands.  After all, the Americans were up a break in the second set of the mixed, and it was no fault of Sands that Mardy Fish blew about ten volleys in 4 games and netted four crosses in the exact same damned spot in the net.  As our mate Fred Stolle aptly pointed out, if Fish were tired from being beaten so badly by Tomas Berdych, that was not an excuse for dead legged tennis in the mixed, crossing like a kamikaze to blow volleys that the 12 year olds over at the NYJTL make regularly in the school yard.  Fred Stolle, who we only get down under and occasionally during mixed package major season, the first seven days of the majors, when we are very lucky.  Fred, why couldn’t you have stayed with ESPN back in the day and that hack Cliff Drysdale have gone?

Fish Fish Fish.  The worst thing anyone could possibly do is to put their faith in Mardy Fish in the big spot.  Now you might say, well, didn’t Fish win the bespeckled tennis ball with a driven Serena a scant few years back?  Yes.  But Serena is so great that she can make Mardy Fish a winner for a week, something we’ve yet to see anyone else do.  She carried Fish, she banged unreturnable serves to the men and women, and her presence on just about any doubles team has generally always produced medals and champion trophies.  It was lucky for Mardy that Serena likes bling so much, was healthy, and so motivated to get another blinged out tennis ball from old Lucy H.  For when Fish had the opportunity to take home the gold, he lost in five sets to…Nicolas Massu.  And he’ll never live that down.

And the excuses abound.  And that’s just tiresome.  Like hearing about Mardy Fish’s ankle all summer.  Let’s face it.  Nadal is more heavily taped up on a day to day basis by a lot, and he only wins majors.  While Fish is rationalizing to the cameras on Hopman Cup that at least Bethanie got in some matches.  Again, Sands is not the dominant player here.  When she won, it was Isner, and when Fish won, it was all Serena.  But can’t Fish state a grand intention for once, even if it’s only at Hopman Cup, where he is a past champion paired with the defending champion?  Instead it’s always like, ‘well maybe I can make the quarters.’

So we aren’t upset that America lost, considering the roster, and that so many other rosters were much much stronger.  Had a special eye on Bulgaria with our lad Grigor Dimitrov, the best up and coming one hander in the game, and Tsvetana Pironkova, Wimbledon’s mistress–quite a team.  BTW, Dimitrov did not look like a prodigy but rather, a prodigy realized, when he spanked Mardy Fish 6-2, 6-1.  Loved France with super talented one hander Richard Gasquet and two-hander Marion Bartoli, an utter hack but taken with Gasquet, a very diverse tandem.  And the Czech obviously were going to be heavy favorites because they were loaded, with Kvitova a given to win and Berdych sitting very pretty.  If the Americans could have actually stretched it out TTC would have shown us more tennis, but they still had the good grace to televise the final which we happened to catch last night at 4 AM, and despite the lack of drama due to the sweep and the no mixed match which would’ve been a hot contest, we got to see the dominant left hand of Kvitova, the dominant serve of Berdych, and the flair of Gasquet, one the game’s best shot makers.  Gasquet took the backhand early and made many beautiful backhands up the line, made incredible forehand return winners, making for a very interesting match which Berdych took 7-6 (7-0), 6-4.  Berdych is in fine form.  His return game was clicking, popping several huge forehands for winners in his own right, and even on the tacky blue plexicushion, we felt the indoor conditions made the court play extremely fast.  It was bang bang tennis, and both guys should get credit for going for shots, coming forward, and pursuing the attack.

A nice bit of warm spirit after the contest was when Bartoli came down to console Gasquet after the match, and when Kvitova came to congratulate and celebrate with Berdych.  This is a great competition and always has been, in the name of the great Harry Hopman who coached from Laver and Rosewall to McEnroe and Gerulaitis, and who stressed the serve, the overhead, and getting to net and sticking your racquet out.  Unfortunately from a sentimental aspect, the event has had its last run at Burswood, but is sounds like the Hopman Cup is moving to an even better venue in Perth’s new arena.

It’s no real comfort to America, but Fish goes home with Stacey Gardner, so obviously these losses aren’t sweated too heavily.  And Berdych to Ester Satorova.  Damn.  We should’ve had a battle of the tennis babes featuring those two.  But there’s still time.

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

9:15 pm EST

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Roger Federer:  – 900

David Ferrer:  + 600

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3:15 PM EST

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Jo-Wilfried Tsonga:  – 150

Tomas Berdych (girlfriend pic above):  + 110