Now I know. When you win the first hardcourt tournament of the summer which puts you out in front of the US Open Series, that’s when you break out the worm dance. That according to Czech Radek Stepanek who bounced the blundering James Blake in three sets in the LA final Sunday and then proceeded to gyrate, ungulate, or whatever you want to call it in celebration.
Those wacky Czechs – remember Petr Korda’s scissor kicks? (I try not to) But whatever works for Radek, he deserved it beating four Americans en route to victory including James in the finale.
As much as I respect and admire James Blake for what he’s been through and overcome, at some point, especially on break points, if you are Blake you have to stop trying to blast winners off return of serves in crucial situations and simply get the ball back in play. I know the return is his big weapon, but there really is no need to try to deface the ball off of every serve that comes close to your hitting zone. Wishful thinking on my part though, something tells he’s never going to change his ways.
Back to Stepanek. You have to give him a lot of credit. The guy had been out for so long with a bad neck, plus he’s been dating Hingis, so in some ways like Blake he, too, has had to overcome a lot.
But unlike Blake, Stepanek plays a pretty smart, sensible game. He’s rather quick from what I saw yesterday, certainly knows how to play the net, and despite the talk from ESPN, especially Pam Shriver, I’m not really sure how much he was trying to get inside Blake’s head with his injury TO at 2-1 in the third or with his intermittent questioning of line calls. I’ve seen a lot worse than that.
Bottom line, ESPN’s American boy Blake mentally self-destructed in the final set of a big match. Again. So what else is new? How about for new, having Radek Stepanek driving that US Open Series bus in that commercial, which after one weekend I’m already sick of.
In some ways I’m glad tennis isn’t on TV until next weekend so I don’t have to sit through having to watch that bus rolling down the road with Serena at the wheel.
“Greatest Road Trip in Sports” is the theme, however many of the stars of the campaign may hardly show up outside of Blake and Andy Roddick. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal will be playing two events each at most – both Masters Series. And who knows if the Williams sisters, Maria Sharapova or Justine Henin even play one. That’s why for next weekend, they should put the guy leading the Series, in this case Stepanek, in the commercial driving the bus. Just super impose his mug over Fed’s. Have him do the worm dance. That’d be great.
Sorry to take a slap at the US Open Series, but let’s face outside of the USTA honchos who created it no one cares about its prize money jackpot at the end or its points race. No one. That said, I do like the fact the USTA pays some of the TV costs ensuring matches are on air every weekend of the summer, so that’s nice, and I understand they give the tournaments some cash to play around with. Now let’s give Radek the keys to the bus.
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