Wednesday 31 August 2011

US Open, Day 1 - Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

To sum it up in 3 words: Yesterday was AMAZING.

Be prepared, this post is going to be somewhat long.

My day started with the match between Ryan Harrison and Marin Cilic on Louis Armstrong.
Harrison ended up losing it – at the beginning he was just too nervous, but later he just lost it completely.
The first serve percentages at the first set were awful from both players, but what was surprising is that Ryan kept hitting Marin's second serves straight into the net, instead of exploiting them. After two sets I've had enough, and headed towards the practice courts.

On my way there, I stumbled into Nico Almagro. He just went by me, completely alone, holding 2 racquets, and if I hadn't been so slow, I'd ask for an autograph and/or photo. But I was a little bit shocked at that point, so I just went on. #FAIL

At the practice courts I mainly focused on taking pictures, so I don't really know how everyone was playing. Pavlyuchenkova was playing a practice set with Pennetta, Wawrinka was practicing with Simon, and Na Li was hitting with Hantuchova (incidentally, both lost their first round matches today). Djokovic looked to be enjoying himself, while practicing on half a court, which he was sharing with Zimonjic. Del Potro and Ferrer were practicing together nearby, and I'm ashamed to say that I totally didn't recognize Ferrer from afar. I only figured out it was him when he came out of the courts.
A couple of guys nearby were having trouble in identifying some of the players, and were really impressed when I could name each one. They joked that they'd take me with them for the rest of the day, it was nice to get a recognition of my fan(atic) knowledge ;)

I didn't manage to get close enough to Nole and Delpo when each was coming out, so no photos or autographs – but I did ask Judy Murray for a picture (in which she looks great, and I'm not – this is going to be a recurring theme this week).
More random snippets: Wozniacki came in with a huge entourage of people; the Radwanskas were practicing together even though they were playing each other later that day.

At long last, it was time to get back to the tennis. At first, I saw the end of the first set of Monaco-Seppi, then the end of the fourth set of Petzschner-Ramos, then came back to watch Monaco win his last set.
Seppi was basically hitting every other ball into the net, but at one of the last games Monaco made a silly error, and let out an absolutely adorable and very loud sigh.
After his win, I got an autograph, and then tried to take a picture with him. He was super nice and stopped for everyone who asked, but I managed to take the picture while the camera was on "sleep" mode, so I didn't really get a picture :( I did touch him, that has to count, right?
(A girl who had her picture taken was disgusted by the fact that he's sweating. Really?...)

After this, I came back to the practice courts, and had a chat with a girl who was waiting for Isner to come out - she was thinking about proposing marriage to him, I hope she succeeded :P At one point Feli came out of the courts, but didn't stop for autographs - I guess he was going to head back in, because he was without bags or racquets. Still, it was a bit disappointing...

Then, it was time for the main attraction of the day (for me) - Dudi Sela vs. Thomaz Bellucci, on court 13. I brought a "Come on Dudi!" banner and an Israeli flag for cheering purposes, and put both to good use :)

The atmosphere on the court was incredible, practically Davis-like - mainly thanks to the many Israelis, and especially a bunch of about 10 guys who were making lots of noise to show their love for Dudi. They went too far at some points, but it was still great. The Brazilian fans only woke up late, around the middle of the third set, and by then it was too late.

Dudi wasn't playing too good in the first two sets, and he felt it - at one point he yelled at himself "Start playing tennis already and not this nonsense!". But after he managed to win the third set (coming back from a break down), he started showing the abilities that once made him a top-30 player. At the same time, Bellucci went completely away, and Dudi was able to stage a previously unseen (from him) comeback to win 4-6 2-6 6-4 6-3 6-0. Bellucci called a trainer at 3-0 in the final set, but it didn't appear as if he was injured previously, so I'm not sure what that was.

Dudi absolutely loved the crowd support, and it was obvious that he was very proud and happy. He was glad to take a picture with me and my banner, and sign it for me.
After a break for food, I went to see the all-Spanish match between Juan Carlos Ferrero and Pablo Andujar. I saw the whole third set, and it was really great tennis. Ferrero's speed is unbelievable, and the spectators were ooh-ing and aah-ing all the way through. He was leading 5-2, but at some point during a very long game (I'd say there were at least 10 deuces there), there came a wrong line call. Andujar hit the ball and it was obviously out (I was sitting right next to the line), but the linesmen didn't call it, and Ferrero got upset. He even asked the crowd "Was good?", and we all said that it was out - that was funny moment. However, that made Ferrero lose concentration, and Andujar came back to win the set 7-5. I didn't see more of that match, but Ferrero ended up winning it in 5 sets.

I ended the day with a set and a half on Arthur Ashe stadium, watching Federer failing twice to serve out the first set against Giraldo, before breaking him to take set anyway. I have to say that the pre-match interviews are seriously horrible. They actually asked Giraldo how it feels to go out an play the Greatest Of All Times. Seriously?

This sums up my first day at the US Open. There are lots more photos on the Facebook page of this blog - like it to get new photos faster than the blog updates!
I'll try to update today's events tomorrow, but the photos are already there, check them out.

Monday 29 August 2011

Day 30 - Post your fave tennis related gif or picture

No words needed. Just pure joy. Thanks so much to @FarrowHarvey for capturing it.

(Those are Melzer and Petzschner, upon winning the doubles Wimbledon title in 2010)

That sums up the 30 days of tennis challenge for me! Just in time for the US Open ;)

Saturday 27 August 2011

Day 29 - What's your favourite tennis surface

Hard Courts

Who do you love most, your father or your mother? But if I had to pick one, I'd go for hard courts. It's refreshing to see the clay when the spring begins, and it's exciting to see the grass tournaments leading to Wimbledon, but then comes this weird clay-after-grass season, and when the tour gets back on the hard courts I realize just how much I've missed it.

P.S. I'm waiting for Irene, hoping it will decide to skip town. I'm going to use the free time to prepare some banners for the USO, though - if you have funny ideas, fell free to share :)

Day 28 - The Grand Slam you would most like to go to


I've already been to the French Open this year, and I'm now in New York for the US Open. And Australia is just too far, so that leaves only one slam…

No, just kidding. Reading others' experiences from the queue this year really made me want to do this myself. I've been on a tour of the Wimbledon grounds, so I know how it looks from the inside, but it's obviously not even close to being there for the tournament, eating strawberries and cream, watching tennis played on grass with your own eyes… So that's definitely the next target (at least until I have a free January and enough money to travel to Australia).

Thursday 25 August 2011

Day 27 - A match that makes you sad

Roland Garros 2011 Semifinal
R. Federer def. N. Djokovic 7-6(5) 6-3 3-6 7-6(5)

Nice symmetry, isn't it?

This match was a lot more important than their Australian Open semi, in a way. Winning it would have made Novak the No. 1 just after the French Open, and he also could've tied John McEnroe's record for best season opening win streak. But the thing that makes this match my worst tennis memory is the fact that I was actually there in the stadium, witnessing it live, and being one of the only people cheering for Novak. You can read my recollection of this experience in my post, here.

Day 26 - A match that makes you happy

Australian Open 2011 Semifinal
N. Djokovic def. R. Federer 7-6(3) 7-5 6-4

Before that match, I was dragged by a die-hard Roger fan (you know who you are) into making a bet about its result. I was sure I was going to lose - I actually liked Roger at that time, and after the 2010 World Tour Finals I didn't think anyone was going to stop him on his way to slam #17.

With each set, I became more and more excited – Novak seemed absolutely unstoppable (little did I know how 2011 was going to turn out). So, in addition to seeing my favourite player win a really big match, I was also delighted to win the bet. It didn't involve money, only some online jokes, but it was great fun nevertheless.

 (Photos: Getty Images)

Monday 22 August 2011

Day 25 - Favourite tennis WAG

(WAG = Wives And Girlfriends)

Dewi Petzschner

I guess that's a bit unusual choice, but as I'm following her on twitter, Dewi (wife of Philipp Petzschner) is probably the only WAG who I actually know something about. We see Mirka, Xisca, Jelena and Kim on TV quite often, but do we ever hear them speak? Not too much, truth be told. So, while I adore Jelena Ristic from afar (especially after seeing the video of her and Novak that you can find at the end of my post), love seeing Mirka Federer's photos with the kids, and want to have Kim Sears' hair - I don't get any chance to connect with them on any personal level.

Dewi is a different matter entirely - her tweets spell out her love for her husband and son, she obviously enjoys cheering on Philipp during his matches, she chats with his doubles partner, Jurgen Melzer - in short, she lets us know things about her life and I like it.

You can follow her here - the account is protected, but if you send a request, and you're not a nutjob, she'll probably accept it.

P.S. Novak & Jelena video, because they're too adorable not to mention it  -

P.S. 2 - I'm leaving for NYC and the US Open in a little bit more than 24 hours, and I opened a Facebook page for this blog. I'll try to post as many photos as I can, so if you want to see them - 'like' the page here.
Let me know if there's someone whose picture you'd especially like to see, and I'll do my best to oblige :)

Sunday 21 August 2011

Day 24 - Favourite tennis couple

Lucie Safarova & Tomas Berdych

Too bad they're now an ex-couple :(

(Photos: ATP World Tour Facebook, Fed Cup official site)

Day 23 - Favourite mixed doubles team

Andrea Petkovic & Feliciano Lopez

Two of my favorite players play mixed doubles together. What more could you ask? Ana & Nole didn't make it to the top spot, since it's been a long time since they last played together. And they don't have awesome twitter interactions with Judy Murray.
(Where's the tennis, you ask? Eeehhh... Tennis? What is it?)

"So what hair product do you use?"

(Photos: &

Friday 19 August 2011

Day 22 - Favourite umpire

Mohamed Lahyani

Is there any doubt that Mo is simply the BEST out there? He's always joyful, but can be perfectly serious when dealing with players, he shows so much love for the profession, and he has incredible eyesight. If you don't have Hawk-Eye, Lahyani is your next best option. He's never afraid to make a "Correction, was good" call, and is almost always right.

And that voice. Can't mistake it for anyone else. "Thirrrrrty - loooove".


Day 21 - Favourite women’s slam champion

Long story short:

Ana Ivanovic

Wednesday 17 August 2011

Day 20 - Favourite men’s slam champion

If I say "Nole", it'd be too predictable, and not interesting at all. So I'm going for "favourite champion other than Nole", and that is...

Juan Martin Del Potro

I always have a soft spot for players who are coming back from injury, especially one as hard as Delpo's. But it's much more than that with him - he can play some amazing tennis (which has left him for a while in the late month or so, unfortunately), and he seems to have such a quiet and sweet personality. So, I really hope he stays away from my favourites in the US Open, and gets far there.

(Photos: Reuters Pictures, AP Photo)

Tuesday 16 August 2011

Day 19 - Which men’s and women’s player was world no. 1 on the day you were born

I was born in the end of 1986, when the No. 1s were Ivan Lendl and Martina Navratilova. I don't have anything to add to that :P I skipped the previous two days, as I can't really choose a favorite outfit, so...

The Mental Edge in Montreal

The Rogers Cup tournaments this week - both in Montreal (ATP) and Toronto (WTA) - had their share of surprising results, seeds losing early, and general craziness. Amid the mayhem, only one result remained as consistent as ever this year  - "Game, set and match, Djokovic".

The level of tennis Novak showed this week was, for the most part of it, unremarkable. With the exception of the quarterfinal against Gael Monfils, his game was shaky, he committed a lot of unforced errors and was visibly upset with himself at times.

But the one thing that caught my eye during his matches was the way the all the first sets ended. Davydenko got broken when serving to stay in the match, 5-6 down and so did Cilic. Tsonga couldn't hold when serving to stay in it, 4-5 down. Each time, no matter how close the match has been up to that point, the lower ranked player would stumble, mishit, or take the wrong shot, giving the newly crowned No. 1 a break point that he would promptly use to win the set. The second set was just a formality every time after that, as Novak's confidence would rise, and his opponent's would decline quickly.

The pattern quickly became predictable, as the final against Mardy Fish had a similar moment, though not in the same situation. After failing to convert 5 break points, Fish was serving at 2-2 in the first set. I said to my mother, who was watching the match with me, "Wait and see, he'll get broken now". At 0-30, I commented "Now Fish will serve better, it'll get to 30-30, and then Novak will get a break point and use it". That was exactly how it happened.

Djokovic said after the final - "It was a mental fight as well as physical". So, if there's one thing that comes out of winning all but one match all year - you're winning the mental fight before it even started.

Stats corner: 9th title this year; 53-1 win/loss record; first player ever to win 5 Masters 1000 titles in one year; only active player to win first tournament as No. 1, and the first to do so since Pete Sampras in 1993.

(Photo: Getty Images, via Novak Djokovic Fan Club on Facebook)

Saturday 13 August 2011

Day 16 - Most attractive men’s player

Feliciano Lopez

Honorable mention: Nole, of course. But even he said that Feli's the best looking player on ATP ;)

(Pics: Reuters pictures, nidssserz, London Evening Standard)

Thursday 11 August 2011

Day 14 - Favourite Non Grand Slam tournament

Davis Cup

You might have noticed that I love Davis Cup. I can't help it, my sense of nationalism is stronger than me. There's nothing like sitting with a crowd that really cares about the outcome of every point, to cheer together, to feel you really motivate your players and help them win.
But it's more than that - I love watching World Group matches, no matter which countries they involve. You just feel that the players do everything with a completely different motivation when they're on court, and I really like to see that. Just look at what winning DC did to Serbian players, or better yet - go and watch "Happy Dancing Spaniards" :)

Honorary mention: World Tour Finals.

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Day 13 - Favourite Grand Slam tournament

Australian Open

Going to sleep early, just to wake up at the most crazy hours and see a match happening under the scorching sun, while there might be rain and gloom outside. This Slam is the one that strikes me as the most happy, somehow. Plus, we get the Australian swing after a long break, when we're dying to see some tennis already.

Day 12 - A player that you aren’t a fan of but you respect

Serena Williams
She didn't play tennis for a year, and then came back and is now playing as if nothing happened. The tears after her first win in Wimbledon said it all - she wants to be back on court and play tennis. And she wants it bad. You can't help but respect her determination. And forehand, too.

Honorable mention: Roger Federer, GOAT.

(Pics: Getty Images) 
Also, I'm a day behind, so another post coming shortly.

Monday 8 August 2011

Day 11 - A player that no one would expect you to love

Marion Bartoli

Many people don't like Marion - because of the unnatural serve, the two-handed forehand, the constant jumping between points and when receiving serve. But Marion definitely grew on me with time, and I usually enjoy seeing her fight it out on court. While she's currently on her way to a spectacular loss in the first round in Toronto (6-3 2-0 to Voskoboeva at the moment), she usually plays with so much heart and desire to win, that I just can't help but root for her. As for all the unusual things she does - if that's what helps her get to the top, what's wrong with that? Not everyone can play like Marion's favorite player, Roger Federer (Happy birthday, Roger, by the way :)).

P.S. You might notice that I skipped days 9-10. That's because I almost haven't watched any now-retired players, so I can't really pick a favorite. Honorable mention goes to Elena Dementieva, whom I liked very much.

(Photos: Getty Images, AP Photo)

Tennis players sure love to gossip

A few weeks ago, a tennis blogger spotted Caroline Wozniacki sitting in a restaurant with Rory McIlroy - a golf player, who won the (golf) US Open this year. Since then, they've been asked a couple of times about each other, but neither confirmed (nor denied) anything about a possible relationship.

Well, turns out that tennis fans are not the only ones who are interested in this piece of gossip ;)

(Daniel Vallverdu is Andy Murray's friend/coach)

Tennis players - they're just like us, really :)

(Follow me on twitter: @anna_tennisfan)

Friday 5 August 2011

Day 8 - Earliest tennis memory

 July 2009 - Davis Cup, Israel vs. Russia

The first tennis match I saw was one of the Davis Cup quarterfinals matches between Israel and Russia. I'm not sure which one, but it was probably the doubles match between Ram/Erlich and Kunitsyn/Safin, which decided the tie and sent Israel to play semifinals against Spain(!).
I remember that Spain's tie against Germany wasn't decided at that point, and that I wished for a Germany win, so that I'd have a chance to go and see the next tie live (it could be a home tie for us). Eventually, more than a year would pass before there actually was a home tie in Israel, but my love for Davis Cup started back then.

Thursday 4 August 2011

Day 7 - First player you became a fan of

I... don't remember. My first year of tennis watching was pretty light - whatever was on Eurosport/ESPN (when they still had broadcasting rights for the Masters 1000). I probably watched more women's tennis at the time, and I guess I had my favorites... But I have a blackout where it's concerned. So I'll say Novak, though he might not actually be the first.

Wednesday 3 August 2011

Day 6 - Your most memorable match

Wimbledon 2010, John Isner def. Nicolas Mahut
6–4, 3–6, 6–7(9), 7–6(3), 70–68

Unfortunately for me, I started watching tennis not that long ago (~2 years). So my choice of memorable matches is not that great. However, the honor goes not to anything I've watched live or a Grand Slam epic, but rather to that one record-breaking first round match in Wimbledon.

To quote myself:
This match is pretty much the only thing I remember from last year's Wimbledon (I already mentioned that in the opening post of this blog). Seeing it, you could just feel history being made before your eyes.
It wasn't great tennis. It wasn't even good tennis. It was a showcase of strength, determination, and wonderful sportsmanship.

Tuesday 2 August 2011

"Kuznetsova will marry a Russian" - Interview Translation

This post is a bit different than what I usually do, but I volunteered to translate a tabloid inteview with Svetlana Kuznetsova, and I guess some of you might find it interesting :) Just one precaution - while Russian is my first language, I'll probably mess it up where current colloquialisms are involved, so sorry in advance for that. Still, I hope you find it more useful than Google Translate (which I used to help me here from time to time).

The original interview is here.


The famous tennis player confessed that she doesn't live in Monaco anymore. 

She won more than $15 million in her career, but doesn't see anything wrong with taking a subway ride. Svetlana KUZNETSOVA rarely speaks of love, but here she suddenly spilled it all out.

- Sveta, in your career you went through many coaches. How did you part with them? With mutual grievances? 
- I signed a contract with each coach. And I parted well with almost all of them. The cooperation between a sportswoman and her coach is similar in a way to the relationship between a girl and a guy. Both feel it when there's a rift, and the relationship comes to an end.
- The press said that you had an affair with the Spaniard Carlos Cuadrado. Did this hot brunet misbehave at some point?
- It's funny to me. What affair? (Smiles) I don't mix personal relationships with professional ones. Carlos stopped playing early, and I hoped that he would want to bring to life his unrealized ambitions, as a coach. Maybe it will turn out that way later on, but in the meantime Carlos obviously doesn't have enough experience. That's why I returned to Larisa Savchenko.
- And how did Anastasia Myskina come to be a part of your coaching team?
- With Savchenko's help.
- She's one who did have an affair with a coach once - the German Jens Gerlach. According to Myskina, Gerlach taught her many things about life. 
- I was rumoured to have affairs with all my coaches. Even my sparring partners were called my lovers. For example, Alexander Krasnorutsky. And the Spanish Antonio Baldeo. Once in the "Luzhniki" stadium, I messed up his hair, and a photographer captured that. And immediately it started: "Kuznetsova is in love with the Spaniard!".
Выходя из здания аэропорта, Саша КРАСНОРУЦКИЙ, как истинный джентльмен, не выпускал КУЗНЕЦОВУ из рук
Exiting the airpoty, Sasha Krasnorutsky, as a true gentleman, didn't let Kuznetsova out of his hands.
- But here's Masha Sharapova, who declared that she'll marry Sasha Vujacic, without hiding.
- She was probably tired of hiding it. Sharapova - with all her popularity - has a life that's not easy at all. Her every step is literally watched. 
- Are you being chased by the Papparazzi? 
- People don't point at me, don't guard the entrance to my home. You can't compare it to Sharapova, I'd say.
- Elena Dementieva married in July, even quit her career for that. Are you already thinking about a family?
- I'll marry, too. But not now.
- Name three major qualities in a man that's able to match Svetlana Kuznetsova.
- I need to think. First of all, a man has to have a core, I love people that are true to their word. He needs to be loyal to me. And he must be honest. Of course, anything can happen in life, but I think that only a Russian man can truly understand me. I'm not likely to marry a foreigner.
- You're a millionaire. Will you marry someone poor?
- If a person has an inner core, it doesn't matter how much he earns. But a weak man won't last with me. He'll have a constant complex that his wife gets paid more than him.
- What can't you forgive?
- Betrayal. In our life, every day someone betrays you.
- Really, every day?
- Almost.
- What do you think about the saying that there's no such thing as female friendship?
- I believe it exists. I think that if two [female] friends love the same man, they should let him choose.


In dad's hotel

- Vladimir Kamelzon said the following about your current coach, Larisa Savchenko: What kind of coach is that, Kuznetsova can ask her to set the table and go with her to a bar. Like a friend.
- I only met Kamelzon three times in my life, and didn't hear anything about his coaching achievements. When I won the 2009 Roland Garros in Paris, he came to me and said: come on over, Sveta, I'll help you. I didn't even understand where exactly I'm supposed to come. Then he looked at my workout, which was led by Savchenko. Stayed for three minutes at the most. What could he notice there?! I don't understand how somebody, who was never on a team, can make such statements. And in the Roland Garros, by the way, Savchenko helped me to win. Our friendly relationship worked for the best, not the worst.
- Shamil Tarpischev once claimed that Svetlana Kuznetsova acted like a star.
- I didn't even get where this "star" came from. I didnt come to some ceremony in Moscow, where tennis players received prizes according to their year results. They tried to convince me, but I said from the start: I won't come. If I don't like something, I say it as it is. But Shamil Anvyarovich was hurt by me, decided that I was acting like a star.
Светлана нежно трепала за щёку испанца БАЛЬДЕЙО…
Svetlana gently patted Spanish Baldeo on the cheek...
- You left your parents' nest early. Do you feel any pull home to your mom and dad, even a little bit?
- In June I was in my hometown, St. Petersburg. I strolled along the Neva, and took a boat ride on the river. Imagine that, it was my longtime dream, but I didn't have the time previously. I was so happy! Saw my parents, my nephews. Went to my father's cycle track. My father built there tennis courts, as well as the cycle track. And a hotel. I stayed in it, too. 
- Your father, Alexander Kuznetsov, raised a lot of first class cyclists. Does he advise you, as a coach?
- My dad never came to my matches. What advice? He only gives me reccommendations about my physical preparation. My mom doesn't come to the tennis, either, because I asked her not to. She's too upset when she's there. Generally, I miss my mother. I sometimes wish I could have her family name - Tsareva. She was a very famous cyclist, five-time world champion.
…и, забыв о зрителях, даже обнимала его за плечи
... and, forgetting about the crowd, even hugged him.


Ashamed of the bad language

- Your residency is listed as Monaco. Are you trying to lessen your taxes that way?
- I wasn't in Monaco too often, I rented an apartment there. And the taxes for the prize money are usually calculated in the country where the tournament's being held. By the way, I recently changed my residency. For now, won't say where I moved to. In principle, eight months out of a tennis player's year are continuous tournaments and traveling.
- You played doubles with the legendary Martina Navratilova. Didn't it bother you that she's a lesbian? And it's not only her, is it? Amelie Mauresmo, Conchita Martinez, Mary Joe Fernandez* - the list goes on. Does the pro tennis promote same-sex love?
- I've thought about it more than once. In fact, there is a problem. I think some of the players become that way because of loneliness. I like Amelie Mauresmo, I trained with her coach at one point - the Frenchman Loic Courteau. When I found out that Amelie's not interested in men, I was shocked. However, I don't want to judge anyone. It's their life. 
[* Note: Mary Joe Fernandez is married with children. Someone should inform the reporter, I gues... - Anna]
- Are you going to perform in the Olympics next year?
- Yes, I'd like that.
- But Russia doesn't really have grass courts, and the Olympic Games in London will be on grass. Where will you prepare?
- That's a problem. The Chinese federation already rented the courts near Wimbledon for its players. A year in advance. When the 2012 Wimbledon will be over, everybody will leave, but the Chinese players will stay for three more weeks - until the start of the Olympics. They'll train in near-Olympic conditions. Maybe Shamil Tarpischev will find something similar for us. 
- Would you have wanted to be in the Chinese players' place?
- I talked with the Chinese girls - they're shocked by their leaders' decision. They'll have to stay away from home for more than a month. But that's the Chinese way: if the country said so, you have to follow. In my opinion, after a tough tournament like Wimbledon, you'd better rest, and come to the Olympic capital eight to ten days before the start.
- Do you use bad language on court?
- Oh, that happens! The words fly out involuntarily. Afterwards I'm ashamed.

By the way
Kuznetsova has four tattoos. On Svetlana's left hand you can see some letters. Those are her parents' and grandparetns' initials.