Lucie Safarova


Tonight’s headliners, Milos Raonic (L.) and Roger Federer.

Up first at 8:30 PM EST, we’ve got a very good dog in Janko Tipsarevic facing David Nalbandian.  Here are the odds:

2012 BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells — Round of 32

Janko Tipsarevic:  – 170

David Nalbandian:  + 135

…….

We very much believe that this line is a product of Nalbandian’s name recognition.  These guys have met just the once, in Melbourne, 2007, and Tipsarevic blew a 2-0 set lead and retired down 2-1 in the fifth.  That was five years ago, and a lot has changed for these two.  Tipsarevic has been strong, and sits at world #10, while Nalbandian is down around #74.  We feel that Nalbandian gets a lot of respect based on the past, but that he hasn’t done much to actually earn any in recent history.  We are going with the favorite here.  Nalbandian, though he plays close to the baseline, is a very old school grinder.  A grinder like him has to work very hard to win, and we haven’t seen him put a lot of work into any one match in several years.  This is a tale of two guys going in opposite directions, and in fact, we won’t be surprised if there is announcement forthcoming about Nalbandian, who loves the good life, horses, ladies, and fast cars.  We think he loves all that stuff at this point a lot more than he loves doing the work necessary to win.

Round of 16 — 9 PM EST

Nadia Petrova:  – 130

Maria Kirilenko:  even

…..

We just don’t feel Nadia Petrova is a good favorite.  The h2h is 4-3 for Petrova, and that’s been a slim margin, with the last two matches going to Petrova in 3 hotly contested sets.  Hate to be so un-PC (sarcasm), but we just kinda like the slimmer girl here on a slow as molasses hardcourt in a night session.  We also feel the Russian countrywoman rivalry can’t be overstated.  Kirilenko comes into this match as the higher ranked player for the first time in their 8 matchups.  Kirilenko seems to us to be the better player for a lot of reasons, and we are happy to see some nice odds by her name.  We also like her younger, hotter legs.

  Round of 16 — 9:30 PM EST

Marion Bartoli:  – 240

Lucie Safarova:  + 180

………

Bartoli leads the h2h 5-1.  We are going to stick with the same logic, or similar, to that used in our Petrova-Kirilenko analysis.  You should know by now that of all the players that play this game on the women’s side, Bartoli is one of our most hated, for the stupidest shot of them all, her signature two handed forehand.  While this surface does give her time to wield that ugly thing, she is the lesser conditioned athlete and Safarova has the younger legs.  Safarova makes a living by smacking players around who are favored.  We like her here.  In general, we like her variety, and she plays a lot of doubles, and has nice hands.  But what works best for her in this spot is her ability to scramble.  We are taking Safarova.

Round of 32 — 10:05 PM EST

Milos Raonic:  + 325

Roger Federer:  – 450

………..

I’d be shocked if Federer loses a set.  Really shocked.  Federer is playing magnificent tennis.  He has lost one tennis match since October.  He has been so dialed in on his service games.  We love Raonic, but we see the cracks.  The kid is about 20, or a young 21, and his lateral movement, while improved, is not Fed ready.  Last year at this time, we were very disappointed when Ryan Harrison, who scored a nice win over GG Lopez yesterday, upset Raonic and upended the Federer-Raonic sweet 16 matchup.  But the book on Raonic was thin then.  Now that the book is thicker, we can’t see him giving this year’s Federer, who seems, more alive than last year’s, any trouble.  In fact, we are predicting a bit of a Federer old school clinic.  Raonic served very comfortably the other day, and hit a lot of aces against awful Carlos Berlocq, as my mother could do.  Things will get very hairy for Roger come Nadal in the semis, but not tonight.  At least, we’d be very surprised if he is taxed by the kid.  There’s not a lot to be made off of a line so lopsided, but we have Roger advancing with ease.  Though we are very excited to see the first of hopefully many matches between the two, and acknowledge that Raonic is one of the very few players able to bring the big game to Roger, and that guys who have like Tsonga, Berdych, and Soderling, have had their moments.  BTW, a quick word on Harrison.  This kid had a terrible time winning matches after IW last season.  He really took his lumps.  We expect him to have a much better spring-summer this year, and to really climb up the rankings.  He’s a smart player, he’s an intense kid who wants to win, and we think he will take those lumps and turn them into positives.

Round of 16 — 11:30 PM EST

Ana Ivanovic:  + 140

Caroline Wozniacki:  – 180

………

Sofia Arvidsson played a great match against Wozniacki last night, and showed exactly how a veritable nobody can beat the Dutch Miss.  Arvidsson has played well this year, and surprised us with her win in Memphis.  She plays aggressive tennis, and she gave Wozniacki all she could handle, and frankly, a Wozniacki can’t really look in the mirror today and be proud of that style she plays, when she barely survives a player like Arvidsson, in approximately three hours, of which she was out played handily for the first two.  Wozniacki was warned for receiving in point coaching last night from her father, and you know what?  Her father should shut the fuck up because it didn’t help any, and we have to question whether anything he does helps any.  Wozniacki, we’ll say again, doesn’t think the game, and that is something that a coach, a real coach, would teach her.  How many more back foot forehands are we gonna have to bear, also?

In assessing her game, Lindsay Davenport, the anti-Wozniacki, said that she could be more aggressive off her backhand wing, that she has the ability to dictate with the backhand, but that her forehand basically needs a complete overhaul.  We concur.  And if you checked the stats last night after set one, Wozniacki had 4 forehand winners and lost her serve 3 times.  And she could not get her second serve out of the mid 70’s.  But we shall see.  If Wozniacki goes out early here, and fails to defend all these points from winning here last year, she is going to wake up 7th in the world next week.

She won’t need a fancy Rolex watch to know what time it is.

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

Last week, world #1 Victoria Azarenka won her third straight event, and extended her unbeaten streak to 17-0 this year with a resounding 6-1, 6-2 victory over US Open Champion Sam Stosur.  And it was a complete smackdown in Doha for Stosur, who may have come into the match thinking she had a chance.   Azarenka sprained her ankle in Saturday’s semi-final versus Agnieszka Radwanska, whom she easily defeated 6-1, 6-1.  Azarenka’s mobility was a question mark coming in, but one that was pretty much set to rest when she broke Stosur in the 3rd game of the 1st set, and then rolled.  Judging by the last 2 hardcourt majors, Stosur and Azarenka are the top hard courters in the world, and we thought Stosur, who caved to the usual pressures in Melbourne, had gotten her game back, and that considering Azarenka’s ankle issue, she might have been due for a victory in this matchup.  Azarenka, 5-0 in the matchup head to head coming in, seemed like she might have been due to drop one, in a lot of respects.

Don’t get us wrong because we have always had a lot of respect for her, but Azarenka is opening our eyes in a way we were not quite expecting yet.  She has progressed so far from this summer, and this year, has announced that her time is now.  Good show.  We just didn’t see her as being offensive minded enough last summer to win big yet, and thought that her composure was an issue in the big spot.  While that seemed to be the case even in Melbourne against Clijsters, she pulled herself out of it, and is currently unbeatable.  Her offense has been fantastic.  She was hitting frozen ropes off her forehand all last week, decidely her weaker wing.  Also, she is not making errors on the forehand, and her winners have been finely placed.  This kid is exploding with confidence.  She is going for lines and coming that close, without missing.

She dismantled Stosur, who on paper, had a pretty good chance, if she could line up her own big forehand, running around the backhand, as she likes to do.  Azarenka did not let her control points with her forehand.  She exposed Stosur’s backhand enough to cruise, and perhaps more impressively, she went after Stosur’s forehand, and it produced errors.  Azarenka’s pace off the ground was staggering.

On a bad ankle, Azarenka did not face one break point while breaking Stosur’s serve 5 times.  Stosur’s strengths, her first serve and her forehand, were ravaged today by Azarenka.  Azarenka won 50% of the points on Stosur’s first serve, and quite frankly, she made Stosur, a well conditioned player who has some weapons, look old.  We’re gonna call it the brilliance of Azarenka.  Electric ground strokes.  You could see Stosur, so anxious to step around her backhand, and when she had the chance, Azarenka’s pace was too much for Stosur to handle, even on her vaunted forehand wing.

Last week was a command performance by Victoria Azarenka, who is now hanging bagels on people like Novak Djokovic.  After her bye, she dispatched a very hot Mona Barthel 6-1, 6-0, then had an easy time of it with Simona Halep (6-3, 6-1), and then beat up on Yanina Wickmayer, a player with weapons, 6-4, 6-0.  After the easy win over Stosur in Doha, Azarenka decided to withdraw from Dubai this week, where a weak field produced these dubious semi-finalists:  Caroline Wozniacki, Julia Goerges, Jelena Jankovic, and Agniezska Radwanska.

Funny how Azarenka had been so effusive in her praise of Wozniacki for taking the pressure off of her, crediting that as a factor in why she has ascended to the top spot.  Wozniacki, the fair haired lass, could not have taken kindly to the um, backhanded compliment.  But she has probably been too busy making Rolex commercials lately to do much about it on the court.  Why would Rolex even want her, we have to muse?  She is not a winner, after all, but the watchmaker may be more interested in signing good aryans as opposed to good tennis players.  Wozniacki did little to reach the semis this week with victories over Simona Halep and Ana Ivanovic, before Goerges sent her packing today by playing the “german aggressive style” that Corina Morariu was so impressed by.  We think that’s just a bit of code for non puke tennis, which is obviously being played by more than just the Germans.  But even puke tennis, played with a little touch, ala Radwanska in Sydney, will give Wozniacki fits.  And if she can’t take big hitters and also fails at mirror image tennis, her current game is failing her miserably.  To break Goerges 5 times and still lose is the height of um, small time.

Wozniacki has now lost to Radwanska, Clijsters, Safarova, and Goerges this year, has won no tournaments, and has only 7 match wins.  The losses, while one can not be faulted for losing to Clijsters, have otherwise come against less than stellar competiton.  Only Radwanska resides in the top ten.  The Clijsters loss at Melbourne in the round of 16 means that Wozniacki did not defend her semi-finalist points from Melbourne from last year.  Today’s 7-6 (3), 7-5 loss to Goerges means that Wozniacki does not defend her points from Dubai last year, which she won.  In short, the Dutch Miss may slide out of the top 5 on Monday, as Stosur and Radwanska, who will compete in the final at Dubai, are poised to climb.

From first to 7th in less than a month is a precipitous drop indeed.  While we may have been too hard on Rolex earlier, they have made a serious mistake by backing an unproven player.  All the other players at one time or currently in the Rolex stable (Federer, Roddick, Del Potro, Li, Ivanovic) were major champions worthy of wearing that brand.  If Rolex is gonna speculate, they must feel it’s best to do so on a vapid blonde, or so it seems.

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

Australian Open Ladies Champion Odds — 2012

Radwanska:  + 2500

Ivanovic:  + 3000

Pavlyechenkova:  + 6000

Wozniacki:  + 1200

Cibulkova:  + 15000

Hantuchova:  + 8000

Pennetta:  + 8000

Schiavone:  + 8000

Gadjosova:  + 20000

Jankovic:  + 6000

Goerges:  + 8000

Kanepi:  + 1500

Clijsters:  + 700

Safarova:  + 2000

Sharapova:  + 2000

Bartoli:  + 4000

Li:  + 2000

Petrova:  + 15000

Kvitova:  + 250

Lisicki:  + 4000

Stosur:  + 1200

Serena:  + 350

Peng:  + 10000

Kuznetsova:  + 4000

Zvonareva:  + 3000

Azarenka:  + 700

Wickmayer:  + 15000

Field:  + 2000

….

No big surprises here.  Hot as fire Mona Barthel, who just won at Hobart and who had to come through the quallies there as well, we think should be included on this list, but it would be the height of unlikeliness to see her walk away with hardware.  Though we’ll be betting she makes a fair impression this week.  As for the rest of the field, well, Vegas might appear to be getting lazy, but we respect these odds.  Sharapova getting paid very little mind, Li, a very dangerous player and major champion who plays well on the Plexicushion, also is paid very little mind.  You know, if you are of a pre-tourny betting mind, we’d say Li Na makes a lot of sense on a flyer.  Schiavone, who is also a major champ, treated here like a nobody with the field being given four times better odds.  Ouch.

In short, Vegas only respects tried and true real deals.  Which Wozniacki is not.  Obviously.  Is this another indictment on Wozniacki’s most uninspired game?  Not yet it’s not.  But check back with us in about 10 days.  We mentioned earlier in the week that we watched her lose to Radwanska the other day.  No surprise there.  But it gave us a chance to really get reacquainted with her game.  She has two second serves.  No forehand whatsoever.  The winners she hits on the forehand are placement winners.  And they are few and far between.  At one point we counted about 25 real time minutes between forehand winners and when she broke the spell, it was because Radwanska had gone so deep behind the baseline that Wozniacki was able to hit an off speed forehand angled out wide.  Very shaky.  By no means a bread and butter shot.  Even on clay.  She’s definitely a backhand player, and since she can’t blow anyone out off that wing either, she really has to play shot after set up shot so close to the lines that mirror image players like Radwanska who can just play the ball back will always give her fits.  And that’s the whole tour.  That’s why a Christina McHale can and has beaten her.  Those players who retrieve everything, and then come up with a shot here or there, or who have a good feel for when to take a chance and come in know they will have their shot.

Bigger guns with actual weapons can take her which goes without saying.  There are many of those in the draw, but let’s concentrate on the ones who Vegas deems as real threats to win.  First the Aussie, Stosur.  we’d have loved her, but she does come in playing pretty bad tennis.  There must be a ton of pressure on her to win for the home nation.  Otherwise, we can’t figure out the dip in her play.  She probably has the second or third biggest serve on the women’s side, has a sick forehand that she can get almost always because of how much she runs around the backhand, and her fitness is primo.  We can’t say we love Clijsters in this spot, but she does have the weapons and the resume, and is known for coming out of nowhere.  She can not be dismissed.

Azarenka is going to break through and she is going to do it soon.  But when she has to play a Kvitova or a Serena, she simply does not have the fire power in that spot.  Still, we could see her winning if the draw falls out.  Serena and Kvitova are clearly the cream of the crop.  And they are on the same side.  That’s most likely going to play out, and while Kvitova has the better odds now, we’ll eat our hat if Serena is not favored then.  Serena played tremendous tennis on similar courts all throughout Cali this summer when she went from world #180 to world number twenty-something in six weeks.  And Serena seems to come in looking well enough.  She got a couple of matches in at Sydney, took 4 sets and lost zero, and then bowed out.  We think she is a very good bargain in this spot at +350.

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

Victorious Petra Kvitova (R.), who ended her year today with an active 20 match indoor win streak, and hottie Maria Kirilenko. 

On the back of the best player in the women’s game, the Czech Republic stands today as Federation Cup Champions.  In what is yet another coup for world # 2 Petra Kvitova, de facto # 1, Kvitova added the Fed Cup title to her resume that already boasted the 2011 Singles Wimbledon Championship, and the 2011 Year End WTA Tour Championship, which she won last week in Istanbul.  Kvitova, on a Russian indoor court in Moscow’s Olympic Stadium, whipped up on Maria Kirilenko in the first match of the tie, 6-2, 6-2 in straights, and then today gritted one out against Svetlana Kuznetsova in three tight sets, putting the Czech in position to claim their first title in Fed Cup since a Jana Novotna led 1988 squad which also prevailed against Russia. 

The Russians, who were aced out on their own soil, had won the Fed Cup Title four times since 2004, and evened the tie in the 4th rubber when Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova defeated Lucie Safarova in straight sets, putting the Russian team in a great position to take a 5th team title in 8 years, if they could pull out a win in the doubles.  It was a tough weekend for Safarova, who managed to take no sets and only 11 games in two matches during the final tie.  Good news for her that she had Kvitova and the team of Pesche and Hradecka to pick her up.

Obviously no small task either to have to win the deciding rubber on the road, but Kveta Pesche, a doubles specialist and major champion (Wimbledon, 2011 with Katerina Srebotnik), teamed with Lucie Hradecka, with whom she has some chemistry and a little Fed Cup experience playing along side of, proved out against the ill suited Russian team of Maria Kirilenko and Elena Vesnina, 6-4, 6-2.  With many rumors about the job security of Russia’s head tennis man, Shamil Tarpishchev, who was overseen and captained both Russian Davis and Fed Cup squads since the seventies, circulating, many have found time today to criticize the decision to pair Kirilenko and Vesnina, and for that matter, to question why Pavlyuchenkova was not in on the second singles rubber, and why Kirilenko was.

Anastasia Myskina, former one hit French Open wonder, was sitting with the Russian squad this weekend, and has been widely speculated as being in line to replace Tarpishchev with the Fed Cup team, when change comes.  It should also be noted that Vera Zvonareva was not available due to injury.  Still, how wonderful it was to see a major championship come down to doubles, and to see a heavy road dog and a different set of faces pevail after recent Russian and Italian dominance.

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

Does Novak Djokovic even break a sweat these days?  We thought, with Gael Monfils (above l. with Djokovic), who is a human backboard as his opponent last night, that perhaps the king would work up a lather.  Not the case.  Djokovic made it a perfect 7 for 7 against Monfils, who could not even call upon any extra energy from a French crowd, on his way to a 6-2, 6-1 complete drubbing that saw The Djoker get off court in little more than an hour. 

How exactly is the kid doing it?  Well, making matters even more difficult and impressive, he is not even doing it with his serve.  A rusty Djokovic was broken in 2 of his first service games in Canada in his 2nd round contest with Nikolay Davydenko, who has as favorable a matchup as any with the world’s new entrenched no. 1.  Djokovic was down 4-1 in the blink of an eye to the shady, scandalous Russian, before turning that set around and leaving him in the dust.  Djokovic then made short shrift of Marin Cilic, before annihilating Monfils, despite hitting only one ace in that match.  This guy’s game is so solid that he doesn’t need to win any free points against a guy who can virtually rally back and forth all day, essentially throwing Monfils a bone at 6-2, 5-0 to prevent another bagel.  Djokovic has dispensed a stunning 9 bagels this year, and is now 51-1, looking for number 52 tonight against Jo-Wilfred Tsonga. 

Nadal, even at the top of his form, was not dominating people like this on a neutral surface, with these type of score lines.  Federer?  He was in 2005 and 2006 so watch what you see here closely.  This is the best tennis played anywhere in 5 years. 

Tonight, Tsonga will try to get a set off Djokovic.  If he is successful, it will be the first set taken off Djokovic this week, and only the 4th set The Djoker has dropped this summer.  Tsonga did get a set off of him in the Wimbledon semi.  Bravo.  And Tsonga is 5-3 lifetime in the head to head, but you can throw that out the window.  At this moment in time, Djokovic is unbeatable.  We don’t think we’ve ever had occasion to say that about anyone.

Rogers Cup Mens Semi-final — 8:00 PM EST (Montreal)

__________________________________________________________

Novak Djokovic:  – 500

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga:  + 350

——

Rogers Cup Ladies Semi-final — 6:30 PM EST (Toronto)

________________________________________________________

Open

—————

Serena:  – 140

Azarenka:  + 110

Current

————-

Serena:  – 130

Azarenka:  even

Serena has had a gutty week with 2 consecutive comeback wins that weren’t handed to her.  She had to figure both matches out and did, and both took over 2 hours.  It’s a lot of tennis for our girl, but she may have played down to the level of her opponents, which may seem crazy, since both ladies, Zheng and Safarova, played unreal matches.  But neither is a major threat to win hardware.  Azarenka is, and she has Serena’s full attention.  Serena leads the series 4-1, but we know she has a healthy respect for the one dimensional but hard hitting Belarussian, now number 4 in the world.

It’s not often that you will see a – 130 next to Serena’s name.  Probably worth jumping all over either way.  In her comeback, she’s shown that same ability she has always had to come from behind, so she could get out slow and still win.  Or, she could come out on fire and walk.  Does Azarenka have a shot?  It’s hard to say she doesn’t.  She’s probably the best calibre of opponent Serena’s faced since last year.  But that doesn’t mean she’s worth chancing here.

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

Rafael Nadal (above) after stunning 3 set upset, suffered at the hands of Croat comer Ivan Dodig.  For Nadal, who was outplayed, it was the first time losing in the 2nd round of a Masters 1000 level event since 2008 (Rome, Juan Carlos Ferrero), and the first time doing so on North American soil since 2007 (Cincinnati, Juan Monaco).

Rogers Cup — Mens Masters 1000 Series (Montreal)

_____________________________________________________________________

12:00 PM

———

Tomas Berdych:  – 275

Ivo Karlovich:  + 185

1:00 PM

——-

Stanislas Wawrinka:  – 200

Kevin Anderson:  + 150

2:00 PM

——

Novak Djokovic:  – 900

Marin Cilic:  + 500

4:00 PM

——-

Janko Tipsarevic:  – 180

Ivan Dodig:  + 130

5:00 PM

———

Mardy Fish:  – 175

Ernests Gulbis:  + 125

5:30 PM

——–

Victor Troicki:  + 110

Gael Monfils:  – 150

7:30 PM

———

Roger Federer:  – 275

JW Tsonga:  + 185

———-

Richard Gasquet:  – 200

Nicolas Almagro:  + 150

……

Rogers Cup — Women (Toronto)

_________________________________________________________

1:00 PM

——

Andrea Petkovic:  + 150

Petra Kvitova:  – 200

——–

2:00 PM

——–

Roberta Vinci:  + 200

Ana Ivanovic:  – 300

——–

MJ Martinez Sanchez:  + 250

Victoria Azarenka:  – 400

——-

3:30 PM

———-

Maria Sharapova:  – 600

Galina Voskoboeva:  + 400

——-

Vera Zvonareva:  – 150

Agnieszka Radwanska:  + 110

——–

7:00 PM

——-

Serena Williams:  – 1200

Jie Zheng:  + 600

——

Francesca Schiavone:  – 185

Lucie Safarova:  + 135

……

Fabio Fognini (above), who took out Gael Monfils in Paris in the match famously marred by darkness, led a day of upsets for seeded players on both sides at Wimbledon.

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/05/27/fognini-drops-negligent-officiating-crass-crowd-and-monfils-in-paris/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/05/26/monfils-umpire-french-crowd-no-class-dignity-or-sportsmanship-in-paris/

Fognini, never past the 2nd round at SW-19, took out 8th seeded Fernando Verdasco, 7-6 (9), 6-2, 6-7 (6), 6-4 and will now draw Michael Russell of the United States, in what is sure to be a very boring grass court contest, as neither player is suited to the grass.

Another Italian, pop gun player Andreas Seppi, somehow took out another seeded Spaniard, defeating 19th seeded Nicolas Almagro in straights, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (7), 6-2.  It’s getting to the point where Almagro is going to have to come up with better play at the majors, as we can hardly recall Almagro winning a big match on a decent stage.

Bad day for Spaniards, as one more seeded Spaniard fell–former French champ Juan Carlos Ferrero, the 14th seed, lost to Xavier Malisse in 5 sets, 6-2, 6-7 (6), 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-1.

Lukas Lacko took out 24th seeded Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, a one time semi-finalist at Wimbledon, 6-3, 2-6, 6-3, 6-1.

On the women’s side, French finalist and 6th seed, Sam Stosur was upset by Estonian Kaia Kanepi, 6-4, 6-4.

Anna Chakvetadze, back from the dead, upset German Andrea Petkovic, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Roumanian Monica Niculescu upset Argentine Gisela Dulko, 6-2, 6-3.

Dominika Cibulkova defeated the very hot 25th seed, Lucie Safarova, 7-6 (5), 6-4.

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