Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tennis Chatter: Mid-Week Report

What a difference 10 days makes.

10 days ago Andy Roddick had seemingly already proclaimed himself US Open champion, Roger Federer was about to vault his "comeback" and everyone wanted to see how Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic would play after their polar opposite experiences at the All England Club.

But now:
--Roddick is out with injury... and questionable for the USO? He's also 8-4 in his last twelve matches. Has Andy REALLY lost his mo-jo?

--Federer shocked us all with his implosion again Gilles Simon in Toronto, then almost did the same against American Robby Ginepri in his opener at Cincy. Is the two-points-from-defeat win over Ginepri a sign that he's back in form. Maybe. Or maybe not.

--Novak has been mediocre to say the least, with his departure to Murray in Toronto and he's currently entangled in a first-set breaker with Italian Simone Bolleli.

--And Rafa, well, Rafa is the bomb. He continues to prove us all wrong by winning everything in sight. Is this kid more of a craftsman than we think?

While the women's tour might (emphasis on might) heat up in Montreal this week, one player who has taken to the summer hardcourt season with a fury is up-and-comer Michelle Larcher de Brito. She flew to the second round at the Bank of the West (through qualifying) and gave Serena quite a scare, and now in Montreal has again come through qualifying and won two main draw matches.

Watch out for this girl, she's living up to her (commercial) billing:

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Video Post: Rollin' Rafa

Enjoy the video post, everyone. I'll be back with more stuff later in the week from Montreal and Cincy. Can Rafa keep rolling?

Men | Cincinnati
Women | Montreal

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Playing "Journalist" for the Weekend

Well, I did stay up last night pretty late to preview my articles, neither of which ended up on the front page. But, I did land on B1 and C1, so I can't really complain, can I? The feature I wrote (much more interesting), can be found here. The other article was for the game I'm covering right now, a simple preview.

Playing journalist for the weekend has been extremely fun, and it feels pretty incredible to have the opportunity to write for the local paper like this... on such a short notice I mean. In one case, this is an invaluable experience for me learning wise, but it also serves as a tremendous resume booster, too, right?

This week on the tennis tour, two players are attempting to claim the title of "number one in the world" each in their own right. Jelena Jankovic is trying to do it in a technical manner, and if she wins tonight against Dinara Safina she'll be one match from such an accomplishment. The thing is, however, Jelena has never even been to a Slam final, so it will be quite interesting to see how she's received on tour as the "number one" player... especially heading into the Olympics and the US Open.

Rafael Nadal is through to the finals of the Rogers Cup in Toronto where he'll play German veteran Nicolas Kiefer. Many have already named Rafa as the unofficial numero uno after his epic win at SW19, but the Spaniard remains behind in points to Roger Federer.

If Nadal wins here, however, I believe that he'll solidify himself as the number one player in the world in the minds of tennis fans and players alike. Hard courts have continuously been his weakness, and he's struggled during the summer season over the last couple of years. But to win in Toronto would give him a big boost in confidence, but also intimidate much of the rest of the tour.

Can Kiefer stop the Rafa roll? History says no.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Tennis Chatter: Head Above the Crowd

Well, I'm sitting here at my computer waiting for the clock to strike midnight (it's 10:40) to see what my first ever front-page article will look like. Last week both stories I did got B1 (Sports) billing, but I have a hunch that the piece I did might make section A... so I'm waiting for the web site to re-boot at midnight so I can check it out!

Meanwhile, I thought it might be good to get in here and update all of you on what's going on in the world of tennis (as if you don't know).

Here's one thing you might not be tuned into: a friend of mine that I just graduated from college with is interning down in SoCal with The Press Enterprise in Riverside. He emailed me late today to let me know he was on assignment at the East West Bank Classic, telling me that it was "my first time shooting tennis, too bad the tournament turned out to be kinda lame." I think that Joey is right, the EWBC has turned out to be quite lame so far this year, but let's hope that Jelena can make a run into the finals and start her summer right. I'd love to see her win the US Open, wouldn't you guys?

The link to Joey's (Joey Anchondo, if you're wondering) EWBC photos is here.

And while we're on the topic of the women, let's talk about their summer season for a minute. So far they've played Stanford and now LA, two tournaments that have turned into complete jokes on the women's schedule. Remember when playing during the summer was important to WTA players? When playing outside of the slams for that reason was important?

Well, the girls certainly don't care now. It's really, really heart breaking to watch these tournaments come up with Aleksandra Wozniak (no offense Al, but my favorite Wozy on tour is Caroline... you just don't cut it!) and Bethanie Mattek (sorry to you, too, BM, but you're just not the player I want to see in the semis!) as premiere players?!? Perhaps the WTA needs to re-think that brilliant Roadmap of theirs and figure out how to get top players to play, and play often.

I know that was a poor attempt at a rant... but the last 18 hours have been rough... so take it easy on me, okay?

Let's talk about how Rafael Nadal continues to prove why he's so much better than the entire rest of the ATP tour. Nadal has advanced to the semifinals in Toronto by beating Richard Gasquet in three sets, and will take on Andy Murray, who has arguably had the second best summer on the tour.

With all that's happened at the Rogers (and I'm sure will happen over the next couple of days), it's sure to say one thing: the top of the men's game is very unsure right now. Federer, Roddick, Djokovic... they all lost to opponents they could have and should have beat, all saying that they needed to "play their way into the tournament" or something of the like.

So what's their excuse going to be when they fall at the US Open? Can't wait to hear those.

Oh, and video post this weekend... I PROMISE!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

OK... "I Told You So"

Now I can say it: I told you so.

The Elect Andy TOOTB campaign train came to a screeching halt Thursday at the Rogers Cup when he lost in three sets to Marin Cilic (yes, Marin Cilic) 6-4 4-6 6-4.

A couple of days ago I wrote about how Andy was doing his best to convince everyone (including himself) that he's one of the top three players in the world. With Roger Federer bowing out yesterday, you think that Roddick might have slipped a couple of confidence ballots in his own box, but that did not appear to be the case.

My point in the "Elect Andy" post was this: Roddick can talk (and he's good at that) all he want, but he must play his way to the top. He didn't do that today, losing to Cilic, a Croatian teenager who is ranked 44th in the world (I know, I was surprised too) and made the fourth round at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

Cilic isn't a nobody, but he certainly isn't a somebody. His ballot was most important today, and, in turn, Andy Roddick is out in Toronto.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Advantage, Roddick

Gilles Simon did Andy Roddick a huge favor today at the Rogers Cup in Toronto.

Simon beat top-seed Roger Federer in the opening round to pave the way for Roddick to the semifinals, if the American can keep his TOOTB campaign on the right track.

Now, I won't say "I told you so," because I didn't. But I did say, and I quote: "[Federer v. Simon] could be quite an interesting match..." on my last video post.

Back with a new video tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Campaign Trail: Elect Andy in '08

Andy Roddick began his campaign for 2008 US Open champion with quite the advertising campaign. There's the Canadian commercial where Roddick is plastered on a billboard, his I'm-as-confident-as-ever interview for the hardcourt season and a press corps that's eating it all up.

Sound familiar?

Roddick is doing his best to campaign for a slot that he lost at this tournament last year: The Office of Third Best (TOOTB). You all remember that it was Novak Djokovic who stole that title from Andy, beating him in the quarterfinals of the Rogers Cup and then proceeded to beat Nadal and Federer for the title.

(Jimmy Connors couldn't cut it as Andy's campaign manager. Photo by Arch Noble via Flickr.)

But Andy wants you, and all of tennis, to believe that he is indeed still holds TOOTB. That he, Andy Roddick, can not only campaign to be TOOTB, but also have a chance to win the election everyone is gunning for this summer: US Open champion.

Roddick has made one smart decision: he's not going to Beijing. That's right, Andy is staying in the Good Ol' US of A to do his campaigning, to make sure that everyone puts him in the running for the title, and that maybe, just maybe, he can win his first slam in five long years.

A few days ago, Matt and I attempted to talk about this very topic: is it fair to put players like James Blake and Andy Roddick on the same level as Federer, Nadal and Djokovic?

Andy has become somewhat of an outsider over the last few years, and his campaign to reassert himself is just more evidence of such a downward progression. When it all comes down to it, it depends on how Roddick can play on the court, and he didn't play so well today ... maybe doing too many interviews, Andy?

If he wants to win over votes, perhaps he should try it on the court a little more, right? That's where the election is won and lost. And can he ever get past being TOOTB? Now that would be a miracle.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Tennis Chatter

A year ago Virginie Razzano had the week of her career in LA. This week, she won just six games in a first-round drubbing against lucky loser Melinda Czink.

What is it that makes tennis so mental? So stringy? Players are hot for a few points, or games, or weeks or months, and then they disappear into the oblivion? I know that's a rather general statement, and that every sport has its ups and downs, but to watch mid-majors like Razzano, Maria Kirilenko, Marion Bartoli, or, on the guy's side Janko Tipsarevic or Radek Stepanek have such talent but not always be able to execute it is baffling to me. Is it mental?

Last week, Aleksandra Wozniak gave Canada something to cheer about by coming out of nowhere to win the Bank of the West Classic.

This week, however, my favorite Canadian takes center stage in the friendly confines of Toronto. Frank Dancevic began his dream run in 2007 in Indianapolis and continued it here at the Rogers Cup. This year Dancevic didn't fare as well in Indiana, but the hometown boy won his opening match last night against Mario Ancic in straight sets, and now gets a tall order tonight: defending champion Novak Djokovic.

Doug Robson, a freelance writer who does lots of tennis for USA Today, posted this item on his blog about an OUT Magazine article featuring a gay tennis player. Robson dismisses Rodriguez's coming out, saying it will take a "much higher profile retired player" to make any waves in tennis, but it's still an interesting read.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Video Post: Roger's Week?

The men are in Toronto for the Rogers Cup, the first ATP Masters Series event of the summer.

Though Novak Djokovic is the defending champion, the last time this event was held in Toronto, it was Roger Federer who took the title. Federer won four straight three-set matches to win the tournament, beating Richard Gasquet in the final.

Is it his year again? There are a few guys standing in his way.

(Correction: The WTA heads to the Rogers Cup next week, not to San Diego as mentioned in the video.)

Tennis Chatter: The Sunday Scramble

I feel as though I have a lot of catching up to do on here and in the tennis world in general, but as I surfed the web this morning checking out the latest scores and story lines, I realized that I really didn't miss that much over the last ten days.

As I promised, here is the second feature story I've done for our local paper, The Independent Record. It's been quite the learning experience for me over the last week to write these two stories. Though they dealt with the same event, they were vastly different in subject matter and leg work.

The first I had six days to work on, get interviews for, re-think and edit over and over again, but yesterday had me at the pole vault event for four-plus hours before heading home and hunkering down in my basement to crank out an equally-long story. I felt a bit of pressure, but lucky the words came off the keyboard with relative ease, which is always any writer's hope. I could tell you the dozen or so little things I found in the two stories that I was self-critical about, but instead I'm going to see these last seven days as a learning experience. What else could it be?

This next week, I'm doing two pieces (again, one feature, one "game-day") on the Shodair Soccer Classic happening here in Helena. I'm pretty pumped about being a part of the Shodair festivities this summer as my older brother was a participant years ago went the event was just getting off the ground. I know there will be some great stories to tell, I'll just have to dig deep to find them.

Being around pole vault reminded me of one thing yesterday: tennis really is a niche sport. As much as I think we all want tennis to succeed on a global stage, it is, and will always be, for us tennis enthusiasts. Yes, there will be times when the world's eyes are on our sport (think Wimbledon 2008), but for the most part, we bask in the quietness and uniqueness of this sport.

Such is the same in pole vault, which in and of itself is its own sport within track and field, but inspires such a niche and often cult-like following that it's pointless to ever try to make pole vault mainstream. You can't kick around the pole vault in the back yard or hit it against the wall, can you? It's always going to exist as it does: a sport that few love and are passionate about, but most have no idea what the hell is going on.

That's the thing I get most often when talking about tennis to others: I just don't get how it works. Yes, tennis scoring is beyond confusing, which I think plays a big role in why we will never be a football, soccer or basketball. And I'm not saying tennis should just hang out with its five fans and be happy for the rest of its existence, but there needs to be a realization on a bigger level that this kind of sport can only be so big, just like pole vault.

Perhaps I am speaking from a naive point of view. No, I wasn't alive when John McEnroe was America's bad boy and tennis stars were like rock stars. But our world has vastly changed since then ... it's hard to think tennis could ever have that status again.

With all that said, I think what Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have done for the sport is spectacular. As we head into the meat of the US Open Series schedule, I will be interested to watch just how things shape up. This past weekend was a blow to American tennis: Serena pulled out at the BOTW, Blake and Querrey both lost their semis at Indy, and Venus and Lindsay both pulled out of LA before they even hit a ball. Will these American tournaments live and die by the American participation? It's hard to tell.

It isn't hard to tell, however, that the entire tennis world - not just Americans - will be a little less interested in the Simon-Tursonov and Wozniak-Bartoli finals than had those aforementioned players won their matches yesterday. Will it be another USOS plagued by injuries and pull outs? I sure hope not.

But then, there's those things call the Olympics, too...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Does This Look Familiar?

( photo screen grab.)

Recognize this scene? Well, it's mostly familiar to us, but instead of Serena or Roger hitting on Ashe Stadium, the women of the WNBA played an outdoor game tonight. Pretty cool stuff here, so check out the photo blog on their site.

I'm just finishing up my second of two articles that I've done for the local paper here this past week. I'll post the link to that one tomorrow (Sunday).

If your Wimbledon hangover has started to subside, then you've probably kept track of what's gone this past week as the US Open Series has commenced. It was a disappointing day in Indianapolis for the Americans, both Sam Querrey and James Blake lost 6-4 in the third. Meanwhile, across the country, Serena fell in her semi after pulling out with an injury. Is this an omen for the rest of the summer?

Guess we'll wait and see.

Published (In the Paper)

It's one thing to get published on the internet, but quite different in these days to see your work in print. Over the last couple of years I've been lucky enough to do a lot of publishing through this blog, and even nab a couple freelance jobs on "real" web sites.

But this morning, I had my first-ever I'm-a-professional story printed in my local paper. As some of you know, I'm home for the summer in Montana and interviewed with our paper, the Independent Record, to do some sports freelancing while I'm here.

This week, I was lucky enough to tell the incredible story of Patrick Kelly. Patrick is a young man who passed away two years ago unexpectedly, and his story of life and the way he lived it is simply inspiring. I feel blessed and humbled to have told this story.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Video Post: The Boys Talk Tennis

Well, as I said in my last post, things have been more than hectic around here. I've been working 30-plus hours a week at the cafe that always is gracious enough to let me put in a few hours when I'm back in Montana on top of writing two feature stories for this weekend's local paper and entertaining a rather pesky guest, Mr. Matt Murphy.

Matt and I always have a blast together, so we've spent the last couple of days exploring Helena. We've had some ridiculously good local food (No Sweat | Donut Hole | Karmadillo's), played with my adorable niece, Sammie, and took in Matt's sister's incredible tap/modern dance at the Myrna Loy Theatre tonight.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to keep up with everything that is happening in the tennis world. The men and women are finally back here in the States on the first leg of the US Open Series. What a big win by Serena Williams today over up-and-comer Michelle Larcher de Brito, right? It just goes to show you that LdB has lots of talent and is slowly progressing toward the top 100, while Serena is still trying to shake an ultimately disappointing Wimbledon.

As much as Matt and I have been having fun, we also have been writing in every spare moment. We had to take a little break though to film a little video post for you guys, addressing this question, posed by reader TroyCHooks: Why does everyone continue to make Roddick and Blake seem even remotely in the same level as Nadal and Ferderer?

While Matt and I attempted to address the question, we distracted each other most of the time. In any case, enjoy this post:

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Little Busy

Who knew summer could be so busy?!?

I'm working hard on two articles for my local paper (yes, I'll link when they're up!) and have a visitor in town! My friend Matt has journeyed to Montana from The Big City (NYC, of course) and is hanging out for a few days before he heads over to Missoula to see his family.

Check out the terrific post he put up this morning, and we'll be sure to have a video post up for you guys this evening or tomorrow! Cheers :)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Tennis Chatter: A Week Later

Well, we're just now a week removed from that epic final that had all of us stirring for days and that we will no doubt be thinking about and re-analyzing for weeks, months and perhaps years to come! I've spent this last week working and hanging out with family, and also had the pleasure of playing my first USTA tournament in over three years. All in all, it was a good weekend (and I'll just leave it at that!).

With all this "de-throning" and "changing of the guard" talk on the men's side, I wanted to touch a bit on what the last few weeks have meant for women's tennis. In my post on Wednesday, I mentioned that a few journalists had made this point themselves, and so I thought it would be fun to speak a bit about it in my next video post. My good friend Kelsey joined in for the convo, and though she's no tennis buff, she knows a thing or two about longevity and burnout.

Over the next week, I'm working furiously on two feature articles that are to be printed in my hometown paper, the Independent Record. I'm pretty stoked to be doing some freelance while in Montana, and hope that I'll be able to cover all my ground and write some kick-ass stuff. I've got this blog thing down pretty good, but writing features for the local paper is a little bit different.

While I'm researching, transcribing interviews and writing, the men and women of the professional tennis tour officially kick off the US Open Series with the ladies at the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford and the guys playing in Indianapolis.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Wimbledon: My Favorite Things

Random musings from a Wimbledon we won't soon forget:

As I mentioned in the video post, Alexandra Stevenson has a new blog up on Is this finally her time to come back? Or was she ever really a legitimate player to begin with? It'll be interesting to see just how far she goes (and how healthy she stays).

Laura Robson is the FairyTale Princess of The Championships 2008. This is a story I just can't resist, especially because growing up, I would play tennis in my back alley and always concoct some sort of darkhorse who at the French was French or at Wimbledon was British and he or should would caption the nation's heart with out-of-this-world tennis.

Robson certainly did that in the last two weeks, winning her home title as a darkhouse and as a player who really played like she was from a different world. Robson's win was a legitimate one, beating the 1st, 9th and 3rd seeds along her way.

How special would it be to see this girl in the main draw next year? Only the next 12 months can show us what she's learned at the Girl's Champion.

Marina Erakovic is my new favorite women's player. Don't know her? Read up!

What a tournament for Andy Murray (and Jie Zheng and Marat Safin and Elena Dementieva, too!)! Murray's fourth-round conquering of Richard Gasquet was his proclamation to the tennis world: I have arrived.

Murray was overwhelmed in the quarters by Kingdom of Clay-Grass King Rafael Nadal, but his consistent effort at the All England Club show me that he is making headway each year, and continuing to improve in surprising ways. This kid will win WImbledon some day, that is no doubt. Even Tim Henman thinks so.

And, before I pay homage to Mr. Nadal himself, I want to thank William C. Rhoden of The New York Times for his thoughtful and dead-on column on the legacy of the Williams sisters. They certainly don't get enough credit for what they've done for the game, and Saturday's final is another example.

So at last we come to Rafa. This is what I'll say: the kid didn't miss. All in all, he dug deep, ran everything down, hit the ball as hard as he could, and - most importantly - didn't miss. Yes, Federer made a few errors, but it was all about the human boomerang on Sunday: everything Fed threw at Nadal, the Spaniard threw right back, and with a little more zip and curve than the five-time champ.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Life With the Paps

Rafael Nadal was already talking about the paparazzi hounding him the night before his Wimbledon win, so how do you think the guy feels now?

"One thing that did surprise me yesterday was the eight paparazzi waiting for me at a restaurant. I didn't tell anyone I was going out and when I arrived they sort of attacked me. I don't know if this is the right word, but believe me it was strange. Too much. I am a person that always works with media, does interviews with them, works closely with them, but I don't find it fair that when I have a few hours free, with my family, simply going for dinner, they persecute me and get those pictures that they sell. I am a public figure, I understand, but I don't live off publicity. I live off what I do on-court. I work there."
-Rafael Nadal on his blog, July 5th, 2008

This shows just another reason why I love this guy: oh so humble, and doing it for all the right reasons.

Champion's Art

This is a sampling of art packages used by some of the internet's most visited web sites after Rafael Nadal's Wimbledon win yesterday.

(The ATP tour's official web site.)

(The New York Times featured the match on its front page for much of Sunday and early Monday morning. It can now be found in the sports section, along with an archive of Wimbledon articles from Times writer Christopher Clarey.)

(Less than 24 hours after the match, the story is hard to find on The London Sun's web site. The Sun is one of London's ultimate tabloid papers.)

( still has the story on its front page a day after the title match. This is the graphic they have used, which is linked to a plethora of ESPN-written stories about the future of the men's game.)

(ESPN goes with a little different look on its TENNIS page. The "Simply Smashing" text focuses more on Nadal's performance on Sunday.)

(This graphic comes from TENNIS links to its bloggers and AP articles below the graphic, and also has put up a photo gallery of the Championships.)

(TENNIS WEEK gives weak play to the epic moment with a simple headshot of Nadal. The magazine's web site, however, has been a leader in featured video since its revival earlier this year.)

( packages this graphic with lots of content from its main tennis guy, Jon Wertheim. Also featured are photos and video, plus an SI article from the "vault" following McEnroe's win over Borg in 1981.)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

UPDATE: Changing of the Guard

Wow. That was incredible.

Tonight and tomorrow from Tennis Chatter:

-Video post

-Match analysis

Well, it's hard to break down a match like this and place its outcome on a few points, or just one factor or another. If there is one thing to say, it would be that Rafael Nadal was just better, and more consistent. In this match, that translates to: "Rafael Nadal didn't miss a freaking shot in five hours of tennis."

But, in all my amateur ways, let me at least a few things about why Roger Federer wasn't able to win his sixth-straight Wimbledon crown:

Federer, who went 42 of 75 (56%) at the net for the match, wasn't the better volleyer. Yes, the Swiss won more points than Rafa at net, but Nadal was 22 of 31 (71%), finding a much better success rate. To me this speaks volumes of Nadal's passing ability, but also shows that if Federer is going to approach the net 75 times in a match, his shot selection needs to be more fine-tuned. Many times Federer reached for a ball her could've stepped toward or chose to take a ball out of the air instead of scooping it off the turf.

Secondly, Rafa's fitness proved to be too much for Fed, showing that athleticism has as much of a place at Wimbledon as anywhere else. In the third set, Federer his 16 unforced errors to Nadal's 7. Most of these errors came off of the Mighty Fed's spectacular forehand, a shot that become more of a liability than a weapon in the final few games.

-Tournament wrap
-What this means for men's - and all of - tennis

Congratulations, Rafael Nadal.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Video Post: Wimbledon Weekend (Pt 1)

Here's a summary of Venus' "W" at the W over little sis, Serena, along with talk about the men's finals and the surprisingly arrival of Miss Laura Robson.

Oh, and you can see Laura's post-match interview here.

The Williams Way

Watching Venus take out Serena this morning was quite enjoyable. It was tennis' ultimate stage hosting the game's ultimate women competitors of the last decade in a battle that may have only been two sets, but was all the makings of a Wimbledon classic.

When I wrote yesterday about being plain excited for this weekend, my focus was on the personalities featured over these two days, but this morning Venus and Serena reminded me: it's all about the tennis.

The two women produced tremendous tennis this morning, especially Venus, who belted away and capitalized on her opportunities to win the match 7-5 6-4.

While Mary Carillo blabbed away during the match, what transpired on my TV screen was a high-quality game of grass court tennis that featured strong serving, incredible baseline exchanges, terrific net play and tremendous movement. Venus proved - surprisingly - to be the more consistent sister and to capitalize on her chances. That stat, break point conversions, proved to be the title clincher.

On the girl's side of things, it was no epic sister battle, but instead, a bright 14-year-old British girl winning the title. Laura Robson beat Thailand's Noppawan Lertcheewakarn 6-3 3-6 6-1. Robson, unseeded and ranked 36th, beat the girl's number one seed in the second round of this tournament, hadn't played a junior grand slam draw ever, as far as I can tell.

More on that story as it develops. But England may have just found its counterpart to Andy Murray in the next generation of British tennis.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Cordless in (Almost) Canada

Well, I'm just a few miles from the Canada border this weekend spending time with family celebrating the 4th. Meanwhile, I was all excited to get out of the hot weather and do a video for you guys in some AC this afternoon when I realized the cord I use to hook up my camera to my laptop somehow didn't make the trip to Northeastern Montana. Therefore, no video post tonight.

But, I would like to write a bit on what an inspiring weekend this promises to be for tennis. Seeing champions like Venus, Serena, Roger and Rafa come through upset-laden draws was really impressive, and it'll be fun to see them on tennis' biggest stage no matter how they play. Sure, it would be great if the tennis was competitive, but we have four future Hall of Famers playing for the greatest title in tennis - that has to make a lot of people pretty happy.

One tournament that always comes to mind when the domino effect starts rolling through a draw is the 2004 women's French Open. Mauresmo, Davenport and the Williams sisters all crashed out in the quarterfinals, leaving a resurgent Jennifer Capriati to hold up the trophy. But alas, Jenny came out flat, and that soon-forgotten (and now mother?!?) Anastasia Myskina was crowned champion.

To many of you, that may seem like an obscure recollection, but my point is that Slams can become Slums in just a matter of a couple of days. Day three of this Championships we lost Roddick, Sharapova and Djokovic; soon thereafter Jankovic and Ivanovic were out, too. However, these four champions that have maintained their grit and game through it all deserve to be rewarded this weekend whether they produce the top of their games or not.

Too much the big names in tennis are celebrated, making it hard for new stars to breakthrough. For the next 48 hours, however, I see it entirely appropriate to celebrate these big names and to make sure that they stay engaged in the game that we love watching them play. They certainly owe it to the sport, and in a lot of ways, the sport owes it to them.

Dream Finals

It's hard to imagine that tournament referree Andrew Jarrett could be more happy than to enforce the rules upon these four finalists at this year's Championships.

As wacky as week one was in London, the tournament mostly followed form in week two, and we're into the final weekend with four storied champions looking to add a Wimbledon title to his or her resume.

I'll have a video post up later today, but I'm enjoying family time in Glasgow (yes, Glasgow), Montana right now, so it might be a bit later!

Women: Venus 1-6, 6-3, 6-4
Men: Nadal 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(9), 6-3

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Video Post: Now It's Getting Good

Really, I mean Wimbledon is so exciting this year that I'm actually into the men's draw - that never happens!

Here are my thoughts on yesterday, today, tomorrow and nothing more:

LIVE BLOG: Quarterfinal Day

8:30 AM - Well, folks, my ESPN2 coverage has cut out and NBC will run tape delay starting in 90 minutes. Dementieva and Petrova are still fighting each other on who can lose to whom. I'll be back later tonight with a video post on all today's action!

7:48 AM - Williams defeats Tanasugarn 6-4, 6-3. I really wanted to see Venus serve it out, but she's through to the semifinals without facing a Top 50 player on her way. Has this ever happened before? This tournament has had a lot of firsts, so I'll have to do a little digging on this one. Meanwhile, Dementieva lost the second in the breaker, but leads 2-0, 30-0 in the third.

7:41 AM - Venus just hit an abysmal forehand long (or, as Pam Shriver called it, a "fearhand") to keep Tanasugarn in this set, 4-3. Meanwhile, Elena is pulling the ultimate choke job after leaded 6-1, 5-1 and is now at 5-6 in the second set against Petrova.

7:25 AM - Venus has continued to play mediocre tennis in this second set. She's 8-0 on service points, but her groundstrokes continue to spray long. Elena Dementieva is crawling toward the finish line against Nadia Petrova. The two winners will meet in the semis.

7:08 AM - First set to V, 6-4. Some quality and exciting tennis to close the first set. It will be interesting to see if Tanasugarn keeps fighting in set two the way she did in the first or she go away rather silently, as she has in the past.

6:55 AM - Great point at 3-5, 30-all for Tammy. Venus' backhand has been more problematic in this first set than I would have thought, showing that her first four matches against lower-ranked players don't have her playing at her best level. Two backhand errors give Tsquared - who has struggled to close out games - the game for 4-5.

6:46 AM - This match has been more of a seesaw battle since Venus broke. V has certainly struggled on her serve, but so has Tsquared. Williams saved six break points in her last service games, which may become a stat that tells the story of this match. After a few hiccups for both players, they each hold to go to 4-3, first set.

6:24 AM - Venus holds and then breaks for 2-1. As James Martin talked about a few days ago over at, these commentators really are running their mouths. But it's good to be in front of the tube watching some live tennis, I haven't done that in who knows how long. And for Tsquared, it feels good for her to be here, too.

6:14 AM - Good morning, everyone! Already Venus and Tamarine Tanasugarn are on the court and Tanasugarn has taken the first game of the match and leads, 1-0. Tanasugarn started the match out well before two straight double faults. It's windy down there, too. Advantage Tsquared?