WTA Rome Preview; Serena Embarrasses Azarenka; X-Notes
Serena Embarrasses Azarenka in Madrid Final
Former No. 1 and part-time tennis player Serena Williams embarrassed world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 6-3 in the final on Sunday at the Mutua Madrid Open, improving to 13-0 on clay in 2012.
The younger Williams sister, who has missed a good amount of court time over the last two years between off-court pursuits and injuries, bullied Azarenka from the beginning, eventually claiming her 41st career title. Williams jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first set, in the end tallying 26 winners and 14 aces.
After the final, Williams talked-up her opponent, subliminally framing her end achievement after trouncing the world No. 1.
“I think Victoria is the player to beat,” Williams said. “She has won I don’t know how many tournaments this year alone. That’s an amazing amount. So if you look at the stats, you just have to put her up there as the player to beat.”
Afterwards Serena explained that her mood ring was the color of amazing.
“I belong on a tennis court,” Williams said. “That’s where I feel amazing.”
Azarenka was gracious after the loss, saying the American was too much for her on the day.
“She was so much better than me today. I have to give her credit, she’s been showing great tennis the whole week,” Azarenka said. “It wasn’t going my way today, but things happen. From here I can take the positive things from what I’ve been doing all week, and then see the clear picture of what I need to improve.”
In the quarterfinals Williams likewise crushed former No. 1 Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-3, and in the third round beat former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in three sets.
Williams improved to 7-1 career versus Azarenka, and rises from 9 to No. 6 on the WTA Rankings after the win. Azarenka fell to 12-10 in career finals.
Preview: Women’s INTERNAZIONALI BNL d’ITALIA
Rome, Italy; Surface: red clay
Seeds: Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova, Aggie Radwanska, Petra Kvitova, Sam Stosur, Caroline Wozniacki, Marion Bartoli, Li Na, Serena Williams, Francesca Schiavone, Sabine Lisicki, Angelique Kerber, Ana Ivanovic, Dominika Cibulkova, Jelena Jankovic, Maria Kirilenko
Floaters: (WC) Venus Williams, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Shahar Peer, Peng Shuai, (Q) Anna Chakvetadze, Flavia Pennetta, Nadia Petrova, Anabel Medina Garrigues, Jie Zheng, Sorana Cirstea
Notes: Early matches to watch for include (1) Azarenka after a bye vs. the Peer-Peng winner, (16) Kirilenko vs. Pennetta, (6) Wozniacki after a bye vs. the Medina Garrigues-Zheng winner, (15) Jankovic vs. Cirstea, (10) Schiavone vs. (WC) Venus second round, and (13) Ivanovic vs. the former French Open champ Kuznetsova…Serena has won 13 straight matches and is 22-2 on the season. She has won this year on green clay and blue clay, but has not won on red clay since the 2002 French Open…Pulling from the event were Daniela Hantuchova, Kaia Kanepi, Andrea Petkovic and Vera Zvonareva…Former champs in the field are Sharapova (2011), Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (2010), Jankovic (2008-07), Serena Williams (2002) and Venus Williams (1999).
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
OLYMPIC TENNIS MORE DIFFICULT TO QUALIFY STARTING IN 2006 – In what we’re calling the “Williams Sister Rule,” the ITF has changed the tennis qualifying rules for the Olympics starting in 2006. Instead of a player making themselves available (which also means, ‘Oh I’m injured this week but I surely would have flown to Oxybukolstan to play Fed Cup!’) twice in an Olympic cycle, they now must make themselves available four years. In addition to the Williams sisters, who have rarely represented the U.S. in Fed Cup, it will have an impact on players like Maria Sharapova who only plays for Russia when she needs to have the minimum appearances to qualify for the Olympics. “I’m disappointed,” Sharapova told Tennis.com. “I met with the [ITF] one-on-one in Miami. They didn’t listen to us at all.” An ITF representative speaking to Tennis.com delicately explained the rule is in response to players gaming the system rather than consistently representing their countries in national competition. “In order to compete in the Olympics, every athlete must be in good standing with their national governing body. The mechanism to demonstrate the willingness to represent your country in tennis is by making yourself available to play Davis Cup by BNP Paribas or Fed Cup by BNP Paribas, something we acknowledge that most players have embraced. The reward is playing in the Olympics, which we feel should be a privilege reserved for those players who clearly demonstrate that playing for their countries is a priority.” Serena offered her rambling response to the rule: “I think that tennis is one of the few sports in which you play so long and you play all year for your country and then you still have to prove yourself playing for your country again…it is not an issue of whether I am playing or not, it is more an issue of forcing players to play on top of the required weeks, having to play additional weeks. For instance, me having to travel to Ukraine where I couldn’t play a tournament like [Stuttgart]. I wanted to play there but I couldn’t because of my Fed Cup commitment. I mean, it is an extra commitment for the players and it is nothing that the WTA…we all really agree that it’s not cool and it’s not really fair. It’s always been an issue and it wasn’t handled the way it should have been handled.”
LLODRA BRINGS THE FRENCH CLASS – Just to revisit this because it was such a not-heard-’round-the-world slap on the wrist then disappeared: Michael Llodra was fined $2,500 and told by the ATP to apologize for calling a Chinese fan supporter of opponent Ernests Gulbis a “fucking Chinese” and verbally abusing ballkids and the ballkids coordinator during his match at Indian Wells. Journalist Tom Tebbutt tweeted, “ML smacked ball out of court, threw racquet, called female Gulbis supporter in crowd a ‘(bleep)ing Chinese.’ I confirmed later with brother of woman.” Later speaking to an Asian media outlet, Llodra clarified by saying he loved the Chinese, and could “totally make love with a Chinese girl.” A startled ATP handler then abruptly ended the interview. Well played Frenchman. What is it about Indian Wells, between Goran Ivanisevic going off on old people to the Williams sisters boycotting the event? Must be something in the water.
SCHNYDER ON THE DOLE – Former Swiss player Patty Schnyder, who retired last year, won more than $8.5 million in prize money during her career, but now she and husband/manager/professional pool player Rainer Hofmann are on the run from the tax authorities. The pair have reportedly fled Switzerland to take refuge in Germany, and now Swiss authorities are auctioning off her personal belongings (racquets, trophies, personal diaries) to try and get some cash back. Reportedly they owe almost a half million in combined debt.
Rafael Nadal brought a boatload of unhappiness into the Masters Madrid event next week, even before he lost early in the event. Rafa said the blue clay courts are too soft and slippery, that he doesn’t like the placement of the advertising boards on the court, that the Madrid event was moved on the schedule, and that the ATP should “never have allowed such a change at a tournament of this scale” in Spain…Novak Djokovic dropped the Chuck Norris reference in response to his unhappiness after playing on the blue Madrid clay court: “To me that’s not tennis. Either I come out with football shoes or I invite Chuck Norris to advise me how to play on this court. Center court is impossible to move on. I hit five balls throughout the whole match. With everything else, I was just trying to keep the ball in the court. When you slide on the red clay you have a feeling you can stop and recover from that step. But here, whatever you do…you are always slipping. Not a single player — not woman not man — I didn’t hear anyone say ‘I like blue clay.’”…What’s all the bitching about the women getting no TV time from Madrid? We got to see that horrible women’s final…Fabrice Santoro won the ATP seniors event in Sao Paulo, beating Mark Philippoussis in the final…
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic before the event on Madrid rolling out blue clay as a marketing gimmick: “It’s going to be interesting to step on the blue clay obviously. I’m not blaming them…But definitely there is a certain rule within the ATP that the president is able to make decisions by himself without having players agree to that. That rule has to be changed because it’s not fair.” — No shit, they’re not going to ask the players, who want to keep everything unchanged forever (except shortening the calendar and making the rankings a two-year period so they can play less)…Germany’s Andrea Petkovic will miss the French Open and Wimbledon after tearing ligaments in her ankle, and is now in doubt for the Olympics…38-year-old Lisa Raymond is once again the world No. 1 in doubles, but this time she marks the oldest man or woman to be ranked No. 1 in doubles. “It’s definitely a lot more special this time than ever before,” said Raymond, who partners fellow American Liezel Huber. “I’m the fittest I’ve ever been in my career, and I found the right partner too.” The two will next go for gold as a partnership at the 2012 Olympics at Wimbledon…As part of the continuing exodus of tour events from the U.S., the San Jose ATP event will move to Rio de Janeiro in 2014…Prince (the tennis manufacturer, not the artist) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization…Brazil will host a WTA event in 2013 after a one-year absence from the tour. It will take over the former Marbella, Spain event, with a location TBA…Russian Nadia Petrova, who owns a home in Miami, has applied for U.S. citizenship…American hopeful Jack Sock has a groin tear and could miss up to three months…American Christina McHale signed a sponsorship deal with Buddy Fruits, “the leader in the market of all natural fruit snacks.”…Austrian tennis player Daniel “Crazy Dani” Koellerer lost his appear for match fixing and has been banned from pro tennis for life by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. According to the AP, Koellerer allegedly “made invitations to other tennis players to fix matches on five occasions,” but the Austrian did not have to pay a $100,000 fine as previously ordered by the Tennis Integrity Unit. “The player did not benefit financially from any of the charges for which he has been found liable,” according to the panel of three arbitrators. He is the first player to be banned from tennis for life…Serena Williams says she is thinking about moving to Paris. Need help packing?..Andy Roddick and John Isner are committed to playing the ATP Winston-Salem event.
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