April 4th, 2014

Friday Tennis Blog: Serena Needs a Vacation; Davis Cup QFs Begin

Friday Blog

andy murray slimed-bigWhile his “Big Four” status is currently in question after dropping to No. 8 in the ATP Rankings, Andy Murray was No. 1-ranked this week in off-court activities. On April 1 he got in the April Fools spirit, tweeting “…And 2 avoid confusion like last time i will be announcing my new coach tomorrow #pumped.” It was similar to a lark Murray pulled years earlier when he tweeted Ross Hutchins will be my new coach alongside Dani starting in Barcelona,” which his management company confirmed was a joke. In January during a fan Q&A on Twitter, Murray wrote he would be marrying long-time girlfriend Kim Sears following Wimbledon. Sears responded, “FYI, NOBODY IS GETTING MARRIED. His tweets need a sarcasm disclaimer.” Away from Twitter, Murray got “slimed” upon receiving the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award for UK History Maker. Nickelodeon created the UK History Maker Award with Murray in mind after he became the first British male in 77 years to win Wimbledon, becoming a sports inspiration for British youth. “Getting slimed is definitely the most outrageous award acceptance I’ve ever done,” Murray said. “It was pretty good fun.”

The Guinness World Record presentation during the World Tennis Day event at Madison Square Garden

The Guinness World Record presentation during the World Tennis Day event at Madison Square Garden

Last month on World Tennis Day, the USTA set the Guinness World Record for the largest tennis lesson (406 youngsters) at the the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York, site of the US Open, featuring guest Judy Murray, the mother of British No. 1 Andy Murray. Now the UK is out to break that record, and organizers of the Liverpool International tennis exhibition in June say they will crush it. “On our Schools Day on June 18 we hope to have more than twice the number of schoolchildren that Judy Murray taught being instructed,” said even organizer Anders Borg. “We will have to liaise with the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) to see where we can lay our hands on around 1,000 tennis rackets — but we’re confident we can get Liverpool in the record books.” Tim Curry of USTA corporate communications, who was involved in the record-setting effort, told USTA Florida, “Imitation is the highest form of flattery. I guess records are made to be broken. I wish them luck in their attempt. It was no easy task setting the record and a lot of people contributed to making the event and record attempt a success. Bottom line is if it helps more kids get in the game, I’m all for it. Who is to say we won’t try to get the record back? For now, though, we will enjoy our record set at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.”

tv tennisWomen’s tennis fans expressed their displeasure last week when tennis broadcasters produced only 26 women’s matches during the week-and-a-half Sony Open, compared to 71 for the men. But there is little resolution to the problem at this point, as everyone is pointing the finger at everyone else. The tournament says they are “neutral as to which matches go out.” The WTA says they can’t step in because “we’d then have to do that for [every tournament].” The third-party distribution partner doesn’t want to pony-up extra money for matches at almost $10,000 a match, nor does the production partner, ATP Media Tennis Partners Limited, which films the women’s matches for the distributor. Steve Plasto, the chief executive of ATP Media’s Tennis Properties, said “The WTA’s broadcast interests act more like a local broadcaster. It’s very difficult to reconcile the two different business models when it comes to media rights. One model [ATP] relied on heavy investment, and the other one [WTA] relies on accessing content already produced.” In other words, ‘Get your own film crew.’ Read on to see if you can find the solution.

Boserup Last U.S. Flag Waver; Serena Needs a Vacation; Davis Cup QFs

Sixteen American women, including world No. 1 Serena Williams, former No. 1 Venus Williams, and Top 20-ranked Sloane Stephens began the week at the Family Circle Cup in Charleston and the Monterrey Open in Mexico.

Alive as of Friday is — Julia Boserup.

If you can’t put the name with a face, don’t look on the WTA website, where her bio has no available photo.

The 22-year-old Californian qualified this week at the Monterrey Open, where in the main draw she recorded defeats of No. 4 seed Kirsten Flipkens, and on Thursday Florida native Allie Kiick. The No. 302-ranked Boserup will in the quarterfinals face unseeded Serb Jovana Jaksic.

On Thursday the last American exited the Family Circle Cup when No. 11-seeded Venus Williams was defeated by No. 6 Genie Bouchard 7-6(6), 2-6, 6-4.

The tournament shocker earlier in the week on Tuesday was world No. 1 Serena Williams losing her opening-round match to Jana Cepelova, a 20-year-old No. 78-ranked Slovakian who only a week earlier was competing at a $50,000 Florida ITF event, the lowest rung of minor-league professional tennis. Serena dropped the first five games of the match, and in the second set had a trainer examine her back and tape her thigh. She eventually lost 6-4, 6-4, and afterwards said she needs a vacation.

“I’m really just dead,” said Serena, who was coming off a title-winning run in Miami where she defeated world No. 2 Li Na in the final. “I need some weeks off where I don’t think about tennis and kind of regroup. I’ve had a long couple of years, and I’m really a little fatigued…I just need to take a deep breath and regroup. I think actually it’ll really help me for the rest of the claycourt season.”

Another U.S. upset occurred when unseeded Elina Svitolina, a former French Open juniors champ, toppled No. 18 seed Sloane Stephens 6-4, 6-4 in the second round in a very un-clay-like fashion — sprinting to the net at every opportunity. “I’m trying now to go more forward,” said the 19-year-old from the Ukraine, who is adverse to grinding out long points on the dirt. “This is the key on the claycourt. You need to finish the point earlier, because you can play so long and you can run a lot.”

The Davis Cup quarterfinals also begin today, featuring the Czech Republic (Lukas Rosol, Radek Stepanek headlining) at Japan (Go Soeda, Tatsuma Ito) in Tokyo; Germany (Tobias Kamke, Jan-Lennard Struff) at France (Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils) in Nancy; Britain (Andy Murray, James Ward) at Italy (Fabio Fognini, Andreas Seppi) in Naples; and Kazakhstan (Mikhail Kukushkin, Andrey Golubev) at Switzerland (Roger Federer, Stanislas Wawrinka) in Geneva.

The Swiss and Britain are favored to go through, setting up a blockbuster semifinal which Britain would host.

They Said It

venus sitting“I was constantly in physical therapy. It was really hard work, hours and hours and hours. By the time the end of the year came, I felt like I had been on tour all year even though I hadn’t…Have you seen the ‘Wizard of Oz,’ the lion? He didn’t have a heart but he wanted it. So he got it. He did what it took. You have to recognize, ‘Hey, I’ve got this issue.’ Let me fix it. You can’t just ignore it. I think for me it was a learned thing.”
Venus Williams on being out with injury and illness much of 2013

“Indian Wells: most improved tournament for the last decade. Miami: most regressed tournament…! #miamiwhathappened.”
— French player Paul-Henri Mathieu on Twitter during the Sony Open in Miami

“It should be noted, here, that these figures do not include tests conducted by national organizations (ie USADA for the United States). But — and it’s a big but — it seems bizarre that many players, including top players, were not tested at all, out of competition, by the ITF in 2013. Among those not bothered by a house-call were Eugenie Bouchard, Carlos Berlocq, Brian Baker, recovering from injury, Daniela Hantuchova, Elena Baltacha and Australia’s Ash Barty. But they pale into insignificance when it is revealed that Juan Martin Del Potro, among others, was not tested at all out of competition in 2013. This, in a year when he won four titles and reached the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.”
— Tennis writer Simon Cambers on the International Tennis Federation releasing their drug-testing data from 2013

Tennis on TV This Weekend

TV multi colorFriday
5:30am — Davis Cup (live), Tennis Channel
1pm — WTA Charleston (live), ESPN2
2pm – Davis Cup (delay), Tennis Channel

7:30am — Davis Cup (live), Tennis Channel
1pm — WTA Charleston (live), ESPN2
4pm — Davis Cup (delay), Tennis Channel
7pm — WTA Monterrey (delay), Tennis Channel

5:30am — Davis Cup (live), Tennis Channel
1pm — WTA Charleston Final (live), ESPN2
4pm — Davis Cup (delay), Tennis Channel
7pm — WTA Monterrey SF (delay), Tennis Channel
11pm — WTA Monterrey Final (delay), Tennis Channel