One of the reasons why I cover the Slams moreso than regular WTA tournaments is because at the Slams you will see players that you normally never get to see during regular WTA events. Part of the problem is that the WTA product is not on tv on a regular basis, but part of it is that sometimes you just don’t have the time to watch many tennis matches.
Su Wei Hseih
The Majors allow you the opportunity to either watch matches when you get home in the evenings (the Australian Open) or in the early mornings (French Open/Wimbledon) before you leave for work. In addition, the Slams provide wall to wall coverage, with many courts being covered.
As a result of that I got to see a player who I have only ever thought of as a doubles specialist, play tennis in a way that in my view is under appreciated. Su Wei Hseih is relatively small compared to other players. I think she stands about 5 feet, 2 inches and probably weighs about 100 pounds soaking wet. She has no name brand clothes, and her tennis is for want of a better word unusual.
Last night in a match played on Rod Laver Arean, Hseih took apart the game of a 2 time Slam champion in Garbine Muguruza. I know that when most tennis writers talk about that match they will inevitably pull the Muguruza was injured card, but for me watching that match, Garbine was simply out played. Hseih used Muguruza’s power and athleticism against her. She redirected the ball every chance she got and she got Muguruza moving. Not afraid of the net herself, Hseih came in when the opporutnity presented itself and on the rare occassions when she was caught in long baseline rallies, she stepped up and hit cross court backhand winners that left Muguruza flat footed.
It was a fantastic match and shows everyone that you can win tennis matches if you employ guile and a deft touch.
Another player who did that last night was Aga Radwanska. In a match that she should have lost, Radwanska used all her considerable guile to outplay Lesia Tsurennko. It was a very disappointing end to the tournament for Tsurenko who actually served for the match and failed to get it over the line.
I have not yet had a chance to see the replay of the Barty/Giorgi match but it seems as if the player with the more nuanced game won. Hopefully Giorgi will not be too disappointed and will continue to improve.
As I write I am currently watching a replay of Halep/Bouchard and play and I will update this post.
#MeToo and #TimesUp
I have been watching, as has everyone with a social media handle and television set the rise of the MeToo and TimesUp movement. The movement has been happening in journalism, entertainment, movies and now it has found its way into sport, most notably in women’s gymnastics. Larry Nasser the doctor who treated female gymnasts at the USA Gymnastic facility has been convicted of numerous counts of sexual assault. He is currently awaiting sentencing. Currently we are hearing and reading about his victims as they take the stand at his sentence hearing to give their Victim Impact Statements. The stories these women are telling are chilling, but it reminds me about tennis’ own MeToo and TimesUp movement that happened not too long ago.
It started with allegations against a Hall of Famer and it took months of reaching out to tennis personalities (including former players) before the authorities in South Africa even did any investigations. Recently, after Ilie Nastase made his racist remarks about the colour of Serena’s baby, Pam Shriver spoke about how Nastase had wanted to know if she was still a virgin.
I wondered recently when tennis would have its own MeToo and TimesUp moment. Surely no one thinks that many of these young men and women who have had to leave their families, some from very poor circumstances to go to training academies, where sometimes they don’t even speak enough English, and wonder if some ne’er do well coach has not used the opportunity to play fast and loose.
Tennis, being the insular, incestuous, secretive sport that it is, I doubt if we will ever hear of anything like this happening, in the same way that USA Gymnastics is about to have its own moment of reckoning. As will be the case a lot of people will say that these things do not happen, but if you have not already done so, you can read Jelena Dokic’s book or read about Mirjana Lucic-Baroni and know that while these instances of abuse were happening, no tennis journalist covering the sport at the time, or indeed any players came out in defence of any of these women. In the same way, if these things are happening at academies, no one will ever speak out against it, because that is how tennis works.
Clearly, tennis now needs its own #MeToo and #TimesUp moment.
Today sees the bottom half of the draw play their third round matches and it promises to be compelling tennis. Spin’s Picks are below:-
Kumkhum v. Martic(Kumkhum played Bencic like she belonged. Let us see how she fares against someone who seems just happy to be playing tennis)
Kostyuk v. Svitolina (battle of the Ukranians. It is weird that Svitolina is the veteran in this one but Kostyuk has more firepower and therefore produces more errors)
Bertens v. Wozniacki (Wozniacki struggled against an opponent ranked outside the top 100. She was overpowered. Against Bertens she will face similar firepower but a more steady opponent)
Allertova v. Linette (Alertova has always been a fave of mine. Good to see her playing so well)
Bondarenko v. Rybarikova (my favourite of the Bondarenko sisters, again very happy to see her rebuild her career and playing with such joy and abandon)
Ostapenko v. Kontaveit (two of my faves battling it out against each other. This is going to be must watch tv … as the kids say bring your popcorn)
Mertens v. Cornet (two women who shouldn’t even be here, but battling for a place in the fourth round of a Major. Good things happening to good people)
Kanepi v. Suarez-Navarro (Kanepi is one of my favourite players to watch. Hits cleanly and crisply. If you can just listen to the sound that the ball makes coming off her racquet. Suarez-Navarro has been playing well, but don’t know if she has what it takes to take down Kanepi.