Yaroslava Shvedova

2011 Rome Masters Champion, Maria Sharapova (above).

We thought Caesar’s was rough on the men, and they were, if you aren’t Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal–the only men given a shadow of a chance to win at Roland Garros.  Wait until you see the odds for the ladies chamionship:

French Open Ladies Champion Odds

Agnieszka Radwanska:  + 5000 (wager 100 units to win 5000, plus initial wager)

Alexandra Dulgheru:  + 10000

Alisa Kleybanova:  + 10000

Ana Ivanovic:  + 2500

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova:  + 4000

Andrea Petkovic:  + 3000

Aravane Rezai:  + 10000

Caroline Wozniacki:  + 500

Daniela Hantuchova:  + 10000

Flavia Pennetta:  + 8000

Francesca Schiavone (defending champion):  + 1500

Jarmila Groth:  + 10000

Jelena Jankovic:  + 1500

Kaia Kanepi:  + 10000

Kim Clijsters:  + 1000

Maria Sharapova:  + 800

Marion Bartoli:  + 6000

Na Li:  + 2500

Nadia Petrova:  + 12500

Petra Kvitova:  + 1000

Samantha Stosur:  + 800

Svetlana Kuznetsova:  + 1500

Vera Zvonareva:  + 1000

Victoria Azarenka:  + 450

Yanina Wickmayer:  + 5000

Yaroslava Shvedova:  + 12500

Field (Any Other Player):  + 800


Right off the bat, we find it very interesting that only 4 players have odds better than or equal to any other player in the field.  That’s a huge indicator that this field is wide open, and that the odds makers do not have a lot of confidence in anyone.  By the way, did we miss the newsflash about Petra Kvitova?  She’s been given good odds despite having reached the 4th round at Roland Garros only once, and having only a 3-2 lifetime record there.  She has had a good year, and won Madrid, but considering the depleted field, we can’t even call it impressive fashion.

Kim Clijsters, fresh off of a long layoff due to an ankle injury suffered at her cousin’s wedding, is strapping up for Roland Garros, knowing the window for this major is closing for her.  We usually like her after long layoffs, but not when she’s hurt.  She’s a + 1000, and normally, you’d have to jump all over that, except, how many people win the Frech with serious ankle injuries?

We like Zvonareva a bit at + 1000, who has an 18-7 record at Roland Garros, a quarter-final appearance in 2003, and 2 round of 16 appearances, though only one “recently” (2008).  Zvonareva is a smart player and we like her style.  She may be able to navigate such a downtrodden field.  As for Stosur and Sharapova, we like neither, and Stosur especially, has shown us nothing in the big spot.  Stosur has definitely been the better clay courter here recently, and yet Masha destroyed her Sunday in Rome, and is 8-0 lifetime in the matchup.  We aren’t rushing to put anything down on any of these ladies though.

There’s lots of respect for the favorite, Victoria Azarenka, and she is the favorite with good reason.  She has power and mobility, and keeps the ball in play, unlike world #1, Caroline Wozniacki, who has no power.  Now would be a great time for either of these ladies to step up and grab their first real hardware, but neither look that good to us.  Azarenka recently came up lame and retired in the 2nd set against Sharapova last week, and Maria simply took Wozniacki to school.

Gun to our head, we’d probably lay the money on Sharapova, the most tested and true champion in the field, who also happens to be playing a lot, and playing well.  The weaknesses in her game on real tennis courts, like her inability to move forward, volley, and hit over-heads will affect her less on clay, where she will be content to play everything from the baseline.  And, she may get a little extra motivation from her man, Sasha Vujacic, who has been travelling with her since the Lakers got swept.  Otherwise, we’d be all over Clijsters, but a bad wheel at Roland Garros is very bad news.

With this diluted field, maybe even a young American can catch a break.  If Sloane Stephens can take out Anastasia Pivarova in the final round of qualifying, then Sloane is into the main draw, along with the diminutive Irina Falconi, who won the USTA’s French Open wildcard competition, and not our girl Lauren Davis, much to our chagrin.  World #124 Jamie Hampton, an Alabama product, is also one win away from qualifying for the main draw.  It’s also nice to see Pennsylvania’s Alison Riske is in to the main draw, and will be playing in her first French Ope.  And here’s to the field getting healthy for Wimbledon.  We can live with a piss poor champion in the mud, but not on the royal lawns.

Crack (http://crackbillionair.wordpresss.com, www.crackbillionair.com)

Serena and Vera Zvonareva shake hands at the conclusion of the match (above).

Serena Williams took the court for her 6th Wimbledon finals appearance with a vengeance.  The top seeded American defeated the 21st seeded Vera Zvonareva, 6-3, 6-2 in 1 hour and 7 minutes to claim her 4th Wimbledon title in singles and her 13th major singles championship.

The American stuck to what worked for her throughout the fortknight–her booming serve.  Serena dominated on serve, winning 31/33 points on her first serve, pounding another 9 aces to make her total for the tournament a leading 89, and allowed Zvonareva zero break chances while converting on 3 out of 7 of her own break opportunities.  Zvonareva, able to control the net so well in her last match, simply could not stand the heat at net today.  She got to net only 12 times and won only 6 of those points, a stark contrast to her 29/35 in the semi-finals.

Here are the match stats:

   Williams (USA) Zvonareva (RUS)
  1st Serve % 33 of 50 = 66 % 41 of 55 = 75 %
  Aces 9 4
  Double Faults 3 2
  Unforced Errors 15 11
  Winning % on 1st Serve 31 of 33 = 94 % 26 of 41 = 63 %
  Winning % on 2nd Serve 7 of 17 = 41 % 5 of 14 = 36 %
  Winners 29 9
  Receiving Points Won 24 of 55 = 44 % 12 of 50 = 24 %
  Break Point Conversions 3 of 7 = 43 % 0 of 0 = 0 %
  Net Approaches 14 of 14 = 100 % 6 of 12 = 50 %
  Total Points Won 62 43
   Fastest Serve Speed 122 MPH 107 MPH
   Average 1st Serve Speed 105 MPH 100 MPH
   Average 2nd Serve Speed 85 MPH 86 MPH


Serena grabbed the title in a route, by a 19 point margin–large especially in light of the match’s duration.  Adding another record to her list of accomplishments, Serena did not drop a set in the tournament.

Despite the loss in singles, Zvonareva still has a chance to earn a major trophy today.  If she is successful, it will be her 2nd (she won the US Open in doubles in 2009).  In a few minutes she will take the court with Elena Vesnina against American Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova looking for the ladies doubles crown.

Vesnina and Zvonareva upset the defending champion Williams sisters in the quarter-finals, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, and then took out fourth seeds Dulko and Pennetta in the semi-finals.  For the Williams sisters, the loss snapped a 26 match win streak for the American team in major competition.

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

It took only 3 days for the Oudin Clan to get bounced from SW-19 this year, after a very lengthy stay on the grounds last year, that began with the qualifying round, as Oudin qualified for the tournament by winning three consecutive matches, and then won three matches in the main draw, defeating Sybille Bammer, a good grass court player, Yaroslava Shvedova (below), of many recent successes, most notably propably her Roland Garros quarter-final last month, and in upset fashion, highly seeded Jelena Jankovic (handshake above).

Oudin followed it up with some improbable wins at the US Open, lucking into a very injured Sharapova, but taking out Elena Dementieva, Nadia Petrova, and the rising Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in fine fashion.  All in all it was four good wins, the best for any young Americans since Serena Williams came on the scene, even if Sharapova did throw in 21 double faults and basically gifted that match to Oudin.

But Oudin is no Serena Williams.  Let’s take her size, for a better comparison.  She’s 5’4.  Only Justine Henin of late in the women’s game, and also Francesca Schiavone, have been able to win majors at that size since Martina Hingis did it, a little before the Williams sisters came along and blew Hingis off the scene.  Oudin can not serve like Henin or Schiavone, and frankly, Schiavone’s French Open win was a bit of a miracle, as it has never happened that a 30 year old player outside the top 10 rides in and wins a major.  Henin, the model small player, has weapons at every turn.  Her serve is a weapon.  Her forehand and backhand especially, will make you pay.  And she knows how to come forward and finish at the net.  She’s probably the most beautiful shot maker to watch in the women’s game that there has been in some time.  Oudin has no weapons.  And she’s not about to develop any.

Oudin lost to rising Australian Jarmila Groth (above), world # 90, because Groth’s first serve is a weapon, and Groth has other parts of her game, including a big forehand, that she can rely on.  Groth made 30 of 36 first serves for 82 %, whereas Oudin’s first serve percentage was about fifty percent, wholly unacceptable.  Groth converted on 4 of 7 break opportunites, and saved one of two against, and came away with the easy victory, 6-3, 6-4 in 1 hour and 16 minutes.  Oudin, the only American of real note besides the Williams sisters, who has risen to 33rd in the world, may not have a much higher ceiling than that, because she is a defense first player, and she needs to set up a point with many rally strokes before she can go for a winner.  That type of player is always going to lose to a talented, steady player.

I am going to totally indict 2 of Oudin’s biggest wins.  First, Jankovic at Wimbledon.  Jankovic was very banged up, they kept having to put her leg back together with trainers, and she can be a very, very poor server.  That’s the kind of player Oudin has a chance against.  One who is not too dangerous.  Against Sharapova at the Open, Oudin was able to scramble around to enough of Sharapova’s shots and force enough errors, as well as accepting the gift of 21 doubles.  Even against Dementieva, you have a player whose serve can be shaky, meaning you are going to get chances to break, which you will need, because you will surrender break chances, and still have a chance to come out on top.

Jarmila Groth is a not a player who is going to give you many looks at a break.  I see this as a flaw in Oudin’s game that is almost impossible to make go away.  And as an American tennis fan, I think the recent emergence of Alison Riske, who is Oudin’s age, and who recently came out of nowhere in Oudin fashion, but who can serve, giving her game a different dimension, has a higher potential ceiling than Oudin, who is not going to hold serve throwing in first balls at 95 MPH and second balls around 80 MPH.

As with any American, I root for Oudin, despite her shortcomings.  And she’s a good story.  She’s got the twin sister plotline and the believe shoes.  Against Groth, she managed only 9 winners in 76 minutes.

As a tennis fan, I can’t believe in a player who hits a winner every 9.5 minutes.  I believe you have to make shots to win at tennis.

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

Venus Williams (above), a finalist last year and 5 time champion, won her first round match today at Wimbledon.

Venus Williams looked in fine form this morning in defeating Rossana De Los Rios of Parauguay, 6-3, 6-2 in 1 hour and 4 minutes.  Williams out winnered De Los Rios by the amazing count of 31 to 4, but considering that this is her favorite tournament on her best surface, the result is no surprise.

Perhaps the biggest news on the women’ side, if also not the biggest surprise, was French Open champion Francesca Schiavone’s opening round loss to Vera Dushevina, 6-7 (7-0), 7-5, 6-1 in almost 3 hours. 



Schiavone, like Federer, saw her seed higher than her world rank, presumably in deference to her French Open win, but the problems she has always had on grass persisted–namely her lack of power on serve.  Schiavone managed only 3 aces in 174 minutes and only won about 54 % percent of the points on her serve.

Fourth seeded Jelena Jankovic took out young Brit Laura Robson, the 16 year old already playing in her 3rd Wimbledon, 6-3, 7-6 (5) in 1 hour and 37 minutes.  Though Robson struggled mightily on 2nd serve, she played high risk, high reward tennis, and struck 45 minutes as opposed to only 20 unforced errors.  Robson represents the best hope for the British Isles on the female side in some time, and has much career ahead of her.

Young American 33rd seed melanie Oudin looked strong in her win over Anna-Lena Groenfeld, 6-3, 6-0.

American upstart Alison Riske of Pennsylvania, who made the semi-finals of her first ever pro level tour event, losing to Maria Sharapova two weeks ago, could not defeat Belgium’s Yanina Wickmayer for a 2nd time this month, falling 6-4, 5-7, 6-3.

American Varvara Lepchenko notched another major victory, winning her opening match 6-4, 7-5 over Lucie Hradecka.

Justine Henin, after a 2 year absence from SW-19, won in her return, 6-3, 6-4 over Anastasija Sevastova.  Wimbledon is the only major that Henin has not won.  Fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters, who missed Roland Garros due to injury, won easily over Italian, Maria Elena Camerin, 6-0, 6-3.

Nadia Petrova, who shocked Venus at Roland Garros, won her opener, 6-4, 6-3 over German Tatjana Malek.

Shahar Peer easily over fallen star Ana Ivanovic, 6-3, 6-4.

Unlikely French quarter-finalist Yaroslava Shvedova over Polona Hercog, 6-1, 6-4.

German Angelique Kerber over India’s Sania Mirza, 6-4, 6-1.

Ekaterina Makarova, fresh off her win at AEGON last week, over Agnes Szavay 6-4, 7-6 (2).

Australian Jarmila Groth, a surprising participant in the round of 16 at Roland Garros, won her first match, 6-4, 6-3 over Renata Voracova.

American Bethanie Mattek-Sands fell to 2004 quarter-finalist, Karolina Sprem, 6-3, 6-4.

American Shenay Perry found a way in an extended third set, defeating Anastasiya Yakimova, 6-2, 4-6, 9-7.

Other winners included Vera Zvonareva, Alona Bondarenko, Kristina Barrois, Marion Bartoli, Kristen Flipkens, Alicia Molik, Andrea Hlavackova, Petra Martic, Aleksandra Wozniak, Alya Kudravtseva, Yung-Jan Chen, Maria Kirilenko, Alisa Kleybanova, Greta Arn and Tsvetana Pironkova.

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

John McEnroe (above), who will call matches tomorrow, and play one at the French Open.

Court Philippe Chatrier


(1) Serena Williams vs (7) Sam Stosur

We are biased here, but we’d be surprised if Serena didn’t play through.  Stosur, who defeated Justine Henin in the RO16, just isn’t the same class of player as Serena.  Sam would have to play great and Serena poorly, for her to have a shot.  Sure, we saw a number one seed go down today, but to a guy like Soderling who has tons of weapons. Stosur, a safe player who runs around the forehand a lot, is going to have trouble finding the time to do so against Serena, if Lady S is herself.

(19) Nicolas Almagro vs. (2) Rafael Nadal

Nadal may be more upset that Soderling won than that Federer lost.  But in his quarter, he draws a talented one hander and avid clay courter, but one who has shown a lot of quit in matches against Nadal on clay.  That said, Almagro managed to take a set from Nadal in Madrid, but is 0-6 lifetime versus Rafa.

Court Suzanne Lenglen


(4) Jelena Jankovic vs. (36) Yaroslava Shvedova

We don’t like Jankovic at all usually, but this is a total mismatch in her favor.  Jankovic should be very tough in this match, but Shvedova could have a shot, depending on Jankovic’s inconsistent first serve and poor second serve.  This is the type of match that Jankovic can serve poorly in and win though.  And we don’t know enough about Shvedova to pick her in a match of this magnitude.

(3) Novak Djokovic vs. (22) Jurgen Melzer

Lenglen should be a Serbian sweep tomorrow.  Melzer hits the big time tomorrow and goes home happy, having made his first major final.

Other notable matches


Legends Doubles Over 45

John McEnroe/Andres Gomez vs. Pat Cash/Mikael Pernfors

Women’s Doubles

(1) Venus/Serena vs. (3) Black/Medina Garrigues

Interesting matchup especially since Cara Black and Lizel Huber were a pretty unstoppable doubles team and world # 1’s until the Williams sisters returned to major doubles.  The rumor is that constant losing to the Williams’ broke up that team. 

Legends Women

Martina Navratilova/Jana Novotna vs. Mary Joe Fernandez/Conchita Martinez

Legends Men’s Under 45

Goran Ivanisevic/Michael Stich vs. Thomas Muster/Mark Woodforde

Enjoy old timer’s day at Roland Garros because there doesn’t figure to be the hottest competition in the men’s and women’s quarter-final matches.

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