The Curious Case of Marat Safin

by Haruka

Marat Safin is arguably one of the biggest wastes of tennis talent in the past ten years. When Marat Safin was at the top of his game his forehand, back hand and court awareness catapulted him to the Number One ranking and two Grand Slams; the 2000 US Open and the 2005 Australian Open. And for other players that would and should be enough. It is enough for Marat, but not for us Marat fans.

Today, May 27, 2009 Marat has us wanting more. The murmurs about French player Josselin Ouanna started last year, and today the Frenchman soon had two sets to none on Marat and faithful long suffering Marat fans feared the worst. Hope started in the third set when Marat started to swing freely, and the talent that made him one of the most feared players on the tour started to surface. Marat pushed the match to a fifth set, where he battled multiple match points before finally losing on Ouanna's fourth match point. The score was 7-6 (7/2) 7-6 (7/4) 4-6 3-6 10-8; the match lasted over four hours.

So why do we want more? What is it? I like to think of our relationship with Marat as a carousel ride. There are ups and downs and eventually your bottom hurts and you want to get off. However, Marat we are not ready to get off the carousel and quite frankly, my dear Marat, I don't think you are ready to get off either. So Marat, wherever you are, I hope you realized how much this still means to you, how much you love this sport to have fought from two sets down, fought against three match points, all to get off this ride too early. The carousel is still going Marat, and we would all like you to stay on.


I am Just Sick and Tired of It

By Haruka

This rant has been building for months now and one of P.Mac's comments and Federer's own actions have pushed me over the edge.


If I was a player on the tour I would throw everything I had including the kitchen sink at that man. Because of Tommy Haas injury, he had to pull out and Federer got a five day break. FIVE DAYS!! And then what did that pompous man do?

He stayed in his hotel.

Does the above seem a bit...well empty? Well yes it did. And why? Because out of the FIVE days FOUR of those days he didnt hit once. Yes, that is right. He didn't practice once. Why is no one else having a connipition? If I was a player and I heard of that, I would explode. Why? In a sport that relies heavily on how much you practice, this man takes four days off and shows what he thinks of you all. That is how lightly he thinks of you; that he can be stiff, out of practice, and not in his top form and he can mow you down in three sets.


If I was a player on the men's tour, especially Ferrero, I would play to win. I would force it to 5 sets and then have the final set score be 25 to 27. And that is only if you are determined to lose. Whoever is Federer's next round opponent, if you insist on losing, make it another 5 set match but this time let the score be 35 to 37. And then, since it seems, only Nadal and Canas have the balls to take it to him, when Nadal plays Federer, he can finish Federer for you all.

But think about it. Federer has been strutting around for over a year now. And why, because you "men" don't have any guts. You go all out against each other and then....oh its Federer...we can't win. Since WHEN in any ERA was it ALRIGHT for your goal to win a SET? A SET! WHAT?! What you all need to do is grow some back bone and play him. And this better start with Ferrero! You show that man what he gets for thinking you are a chump! Make him run around the court, he doesn't like to get sweaty and then gets annoyed, and once he gets annoyed his winners become errors, and once he starts making errors the match is over.



Wimbledon 2007

By Haruka

In 2007 many changes have occured and many are not welcome. And despite that many more changes are being talked about and kicked around leaving many fans and players to wonder about the future state of tennis. But this time of year it is all about Wimbledon, the oldest and most prestigious tournament. Sunday July 1, 2007 is Wimbledon's day of rest and in a perfect world where we would know the final 16 of both the men's and women's draw this would be fine. Unforunately, only half of the play has occured the other half postponed until Monday. But that will not stop me from putting in my two cents.

Gentlemen's Singles
This year because of rankings, there were many potentially good matches that did not live up to their expectations (Federer vs. Safin) and other matches, originally written off that had the hearts of fan's pounding (Henman vs Moya & Henman vs. Lopez). But as we head into the second week of Wimbledon the older players are either bringing their A games and players of the next generation are starting to develop and showcase theirs.The matches are not only mouth watering but are battles of the old generation vs. the new generation. And what do I mean? There are three types of players who are on the main circuit.

    Old and Decripit

Players that fit into this category are players like Tim Henman and Carlos Moya. These players are 30 and over and sportcasters are calling for these players retirement. These players who miraculously do not need the aid of walkers to walk on and off the court or medical attention between games are in their last years. Whatever their past accomplishments they are almost ignored as the constant and never ending talk about their retirement take precedent over everything else.

    The Twilight Players

Marat Safin, Lleyton Hewitt, James Blake, Tommy Haas and even Roger Federer are these special players that are still active on the pro tour and make it far into tournament but in tennis years their bodies are starting to break and slow down, which makes it harder for these players to win. These players are between the age of 24 and 30. They have other wins in them but its harder. Even for Rodger Federer, a player who many assume will make history and beat the record of Pete Sampras, it is a question of how many does he have left in him.

    The Up and Comers

Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Gael Monfils, Andy Murray, and Marcos Baghdatis just to name a few. These are the ones who are 23 and under and are playing the best they will ever likely play. They were diamonds in the rough and now they are starting to show on the pro tour that they will be the next great thing. These are the young guys who will be playing each other for years to come.

That said, the potential Final 16 for the men's side is setting up to be a show down between the Twilight Players and the Up and Comers and that is how it is supposed to be. These two groups get to prove who is best and I cant stay I don't mind seeing who will win. My pick for the final four are Federer, Tsonga, Djokovic/Canas, and Nadal.

Ladies Singles
Unforunately or fortunately, there are too many possible winners for the ladies draw. In fact, it all comes down to who comes to play. If one lady is having an off day she is gone. The field is too open The odds are on Henin, then Sharapova, the Williams Sisters, Amelie Mauresmo and Jankovic. However my money is on Henin.


Congratulations Rafael Nadal and Vania King

Rafael Nadal: Not the Only One Trick Pony
By Haruka

Today Rafael Nadal elongated his clay court winning streak to 67 wins as he won the Monte Carlo Masters Event. By not dropping a set the entire tournament and, if I remember correctly, losing only 20 points for the entire final match, he has proven himself to be more then capable on clay.

But as I was basking in the glow of his victory, I read a bit of an article that said, in layman's terms: In order for Rafael Nadal to prove he is no one trick pony he has to win on other surfaces. Which is true. He has had some results on other surfaces, most notable, his reaching the Final in the 2006 Wimbledon Championship. Bu then I started to think. Really think. Should people only be picking on Nadal? Yes, I am a Nadal fan but seriously. Everyone has a speciality. Federer and Sampress had/have Grass, Roddick has Hard Courts, and Nadal has clay. So why is it when Nadal has proven he is best at one surface, suddenly the rules are changed he has to win other surfaces? The writer ignored his results at the Australian Open, Indian Wells, and Dubai. I have never read or heard of any article about Andy Roddick or James Blake or Andy Murrary have been told the same thing. And maybe they should.

All three of those players, Roddick, Blake, and Murray all come from countries where in their junior programs there is no abundance of sparking talent. Sure there are players that have talent but none that are translating well to the Pro Tour(Donald Young). And if they have some results on the Pro tour, these players only show results on certain surfaces(Andy Murray) and they are told, thats okay. I, however, have some news for them. It's not okay. There are other surfaces than Hard Courts and there is more to tennis than wacking the ball and hoping for the best. Tennis is famous for its physical demands as well as the mental demands and unfortunately, countries that used to push out mass numbers of tennis players aren't ready for that task. They need to examine why and fix it because I am sick of hearing ESPN commentators blame everyone but the ones they really need to blame; themselves.


Vania King: A Shining Star

Today was Vania King's day. Winning her first Fed Cup victory after being a set down and uping her level of play, she has proved why she is not only on the American Fed Cup team but many people say she might be the next big thing.

Never seeing her play, I was curious to see what she has. And Miss. King has a pretty complete game. She just has to refine it. Her serve can have more variety and her foot work can be sharper. Since she is only 18, her lack of aggressiveness, is completely understandable. As she gets older, she will be more comfortable coming to the net and taking the ball earlier. Also her ability to close out matches, that seperates the women from the girls, has to become better. But that once again has to do with age. If she can stay injury free and keep wanting to improve she can be something special. And with a lack of noticable talent in the American up and comers, she is a breath of fresh air. Hopefully this win, will give her the confidence to go further in tour tournaments.

Congratulations Vania!!


It's a Women's Match!!

By Haruka

a bit of a rant

Before I start, I think I should put it out there. Though I do not think I am a feminist, I think I can confidently say: a woman has to fight much harder for respect, equality, and opportunities. And in a game like tennis when the first professional women tennis players had to fight to establish the WTA and the acknowledgment by ATP and the world, the state of women's tennis is a bit disheartening. And the fight still continues, it was not until this past year, that men and women were finally given the same amount of prize money in Wimbledon. So why is it, when there are real competitive, consecutively winning champions on the WTA tour, is Maria Sharapova the poster girl for women's tennis.

Maria Sharapova, due to her loss at the Pacific Life Open, will no longer be number 1 in the world. But she has already been number 1 once before. Both slams she has won, Wimbledon and the US Open, there was a noticeably lacking field of other top ranking players especially in her draw. She has been obviously coached during games, a plain, and overly aggressive (which is a good trait for a tennis player). So why, when I am trying to watch tennis, am I subjected to a Maria Sharapova commercial? Repeatedly.

Maria Sharapova is the highest paid female athlete in the world.



At 19 years old, winning debatable slams and questionably number one, there are more established female athletes in the world. In ice-skating, basketball, swimming, skiing, etc. Somehow she is still the most paid female athlete in the world. And this figure is not from prize money but from sponsorship money.

Maria Sharapova is making money. And through tennis. But more money is made by sitting pretty, in some air conditioned studio, and single handily destroying any legitimacy of tennis and female played sports, that women have fought to be respected for something other than butt shots, and pin up ads in magazines.

Yes, there are other females that have used their looks to get ahead. There is nothing wrong with that. But when she is more known for being the girl in the magazine who happens to play good tennis rather than the girl who plays good tennis and happens to be in a few ads; who can honestly respect this still budding part of tennis?


Hubris is Never Good

By Haruka

Though tennis has been happening since the end of the Australian Open, most of it has reaped unsurprising results aka Roger Federer winning more titles So what is it about the Pacific Life Open that just has the expected winner packing his bags with no trophy to carry?

My theory? Federer's pride has finally done him in. Finally. A comfortable ruler is often nearsighted, thus never seeing the danger down the road. Federer could not have expected to lose when he did. Could Federer's last loss coming from Andy Murray in 2006, possibly lulled him into a false sense of security? Federer when faced against a relentless Canas never seemed to get worried. Was it because, Federer is just that calm of a person? Were his oddly placed injury time-outs his passive aggressive way to throwing a fit? Or was it because, he somehow, even during Canas' s match point, felt he could win the match? Though this may seem a little mean or condescending we are talking about the same man that said Andy Roddick was tougher to play then Rafael Nodal. A little bit...incorrect, especially considering the statistics. When reading his many of his articles, though rightfully confident, you can wonder: maybe he has taken it too far.

And he is not the only player whose fame has perhaps gone to his head. Sharapova, so upset with her loss, refused to give her press conference. And James Blake tried to use his connections, to undermine rules that he was supposed to protect.

What is going on?


Women's Final