Monday, September 20, 2010

Feliciano Lopez And Maria Jose Suarez Enter Slanging Match

Just a little note from Spain...

I was watching some Spanish TV last night only to find Maria Jose Suarez (talking at lightning speed) infront of a pannel of interviewers basically getting questioned over some recent comments made by Feli and justifying her decision to publicize and then abort the pregnancy. From what I could catch the interviewers were fairly critical a) of the way she informed Feli/the world almost simultaneously b) the way she dealt with the issue, and subsequent end of the pregnancy, in the media and c) the consistency of some of the things she was saying.

The general jist (I dont have time to do a proper post sorry) was that Feliciano has accused Maria Jose of inventing the pregnancy, also saying it is not the first time that she has done such things. He also says they were both seeing other people during the relationship and therefore he had asked her to prove it was his child at which point he would have been happy to "step up". He also claims she created the story because she has ´nothing´and wanted to create some publicity, hurt him, as well as prosper from the relationship.

She essentially denied this, saying she was faithful to Feliciano when the child was conceived, that he was difficult to contact and communicate with, and that most of what he said is untrue.

Having only basic Spanish to aid me the thing I found most interesting was watching the body language. When showing tapes of Feli talking he appeared to be just going about his business and talking almost (occassionally slightly aggitated) to the media. Maria Jose on the other hand, appeared very defensive and frequently aggitated while being grilled by a pannel of interviewers. Interestingly the crowd rarely applauded Suarez but the interviewers instead.

Some of the quotes from the show....
"Se invento el embarazo para evitar que yo la dejara"
"No esta primera vez que Maria Jose se inventa un embarazo"
"Yo nunca quise tener un hijo con Maria Jose."
"Maria Jose filtr├│ la notica de embarazo e hizo entrevista en Hola. Una Veg├║enza"
"Nadie sabe donde abortado."
"Estoy seguro que Maria Jose nunca estuvo embrazada. Todo esuna mentira."
"Estoy seguro que Maria Jose me hasido infiel. Yo tambien le he sido infiel a ella."

And from Maria "Si yo hubuera abortado."


Sorry about the spelling mistakes.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Player Profile: Sam Stosur

Full Name: Samantha Jane Stosur

DOB: 30.03.84

Height: 175cm

Weight: 65kg

Turned Pro: 1999

Highest Rank: 5 (July 2010)

Current Rank: 5

Plays: Right handed, double handed backhand

Career Prize Money: $5, 820, 055 USD


Sam, a former world number 1 doubles player, was born in Brisbane, Australia before moving to Adelaide where she started playing tennis after being given a tennis racket for Christmas. Sam joined the Australian Institute of Sports at 16 and has long been known for her huge serve.

In 2005 in Sydney Sam powered passed Elena Dementieva before falling to Alicia Molik in the final. Despite her ability Stosur struggled to create waves on the circuit and lacked form for much of 2007 before she was diagnosed with Lyme Disease which is transmitted through tic bites. Sam was forced to work hard to overcome the illness which affects muscle function, heart and neurological function and fatigue levels and wasn't able to properly return to the circuit until May 2008.

Unfortunately, Sam developed a reputation for choking under pressure, an issue that was evident in her 2009 first round Medibank match against Serena Williams where she was serving with three match points before she crumbled and handed over the match. Her beautiful groundstrokes and huge serves should have made her deadly on the tour but the mental side of her game held her back.

After she spent some time with pro-surfer Layne Beachley, later saying Beachley was pivotal to changes in her attitude. As a result she claimed the Osaka title, her first on the WTA tour, as well as making a dash to the 2009 French Open semifinals. At Roland Garros in 2009 she defeated Francesca Schiavone in the first round who would get her revenge and outplay a nervous Stosur in the French finals the following year.

After continuing to play well in 2009 on the American hard courts Sam moved into the top 15 for the first time in her career, despite saying to the media she didn't feel she deserved to be there.

Her 2010 results have been more consistent: Indian Wells semi's, Miami and Madrid quarters, finalist in Stuttgart and winner of the Family Circle Cup.

When she returned to Paris in 2010 she was drawn in the 'quarter of death' alongside Maria Sharapova, Justine Henin and Serena Williams. Sam had a chance to serve out her match against Serena in straight sets but wasn't able to contain her nerves, eventually closing out the match in three sets before ultimately losing in the finals to Schiavone.

While Sam wasn't able to maintain her form when she stepped on to grass, falling (along with Schiavone) in her first round match at Wimbledon, she moved into the top five, mostly because Elena Dementieva didn't go to London after injuring herself in Paris forfeiting her points from the year before it, and with it the ranking.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Player Profile: Jelena Dokic

 Full Name: Jelena Dokic

DOB: 12.04.1983

Height: 175cm

Weight: 60kg

Turned Pro: 1998

Highest Rank: 4 (Aug 2002)

Current Rank: 114

Plays: Right handed, doubled handed backhand

Career Prize Money: $4, 095, 168 USD

Jelena Dokic's story is not a happy one. She burst onto the scene in 1999 when she defeated world number 1 Martin Hingis 6-2, 6-0 in the first round of Wimbledon before ultimately making a run to the quarterfinals. She finished the year at number 43.

She continued to claim scalps throughout 2000 and started to catch the attention of the media with her and her fathers controversial behaviour. She again played well at Wimbledon, making the semi finals before losing to Lindsay Davenport. In the same year she also made the US Open quarterfinals. In 2000 she participated in the Olympics, almost gaining a medal position until she was defeated by Monica Seles in the bronze medal match. Despite her good results in 2000, the year was also marred by bad publicity when her father, Damir Dokic, was ejected from the grounds of the US Open after he created a scene and abused staff over the cost of food.

Controversy continued to swarm around Dokic as her father encouraged her to default from Australia and play for Yugoslavia. The Australian crowd were not impressed when she returned to the Australian Open in 2001. Damir was again ejected after he claimed that Jelena's draw was rigged after she lost in the first round. At the time Damir shared his tirade with the media. "Australia with the help of Croatia and the Vatican have brainwashed my daughter. I have thought about dropping a nuclear bomb on Sydney since Jelena lost in the first round this week, for which Australia is to blame. I have even thought about killing an Australian in revenge, but I wouldn't gain anything from it."

She claimed her first singles later that year at the Rome Masters and reached the finals of the ladies doubles at the French Open. She continued to maintain her form throughout the course of the year reaching numerous finals.

After some early injury issues in 2002 she made the quarterfinals at Roland Garros, finals in San Diego and semis in Montreal, reaching a career high ranking of 4 after the US Open.

2003 was a huge year for Dokic as she seemed to try and escape the grasp of her father, hiring Borna Bikic as her coach. Damir abused her and then boyfriend Enrique Bernoldi in the media as she struggled with her confidence. While she had some good results they were few and far between and essentially 2003 was the beginning of Jelena's decline and struggle with depression.

After going MIA for a few months in 2005 she continued to struggle with her confidence as her father told media she had been kidnapped by Tin Bikic and that he planned to kidnap her also.

In 2008 she played a few ITF tournaments with mostly disappointing results.

A wildcard into the 2009 Australian Open seemed to be the turning point for Jelena as she captivated the nation as she battled int toe quarterfinals exhausted with a rolled ankle. At the time she credited the Bikic boys with pulling her out of the depths of depression and saving her from her abusive father. At the time she seemed to be pulling everything together, signing a million dollar Jet Star contract and seemingly flourishing from the emotional release from her Australian Open run.

She continued her form into the 2009 French Open where she was leading Elena Dementieva 6-2, 4-3 when she was crippled to tears by an acute back injury. She was then diagnosed with glandular fever (mono) and struggled to string consecutive wins together.

While Australia was hoping for a re-run at the Open it was not to be. Instead 2010 has thus far been another year of emotional turmoil with breakdowns on and off the court. The Bikic brothers were questions by police after a mid air incident on a flight just prior to the Australian Open. More tabloid abuse from Damir followed before he was arrested for threatening the Australian Ambassador to Serbia after multiple weapons were found in his home.

Dokic has recently been playing ITF events in an attempt to regain some confidence. She has posted some good results lately and will hopefully start next year on a more positive note.

Player Profile: Ernests Gulbis

Full Name: Ernests Gulbis

DOB: 30.08.1988

Height: 190cm

Weight: 77kg

Turned Pro: 2004

Highest Rank: 27 (May 2010)

Current Rank: 28

Plays: Right handed, double handed backhand

Career Prize Money: $1, 733, 949 USD

Ernests is from a wealthy Latvian family and speaks four languages. One of his grandfathers played professional basketball, the other was a famous actor and director. His mother was also an actress. It was Ernests grandmother that first took him down to a tennis court and introduced him to the sport.

Throughout the early years of his career his raw power helped him claim numerous high profile scalps such as Novak Djokovic and David Nalbandian but it wasn't until this year he started putting consistent effort it, realizing that training regularly, rather than partying every few days, made him a dangerous player. "I don’t like to practice. I like to compete – go out on court and see who’s better. But, like it or not, I still have to do it. I have to put in effort. I slowly am starting to grasp that concept, because 2 years ago I thought I’d survive on account of my talent."

Gulbis is not only friends with Marat Safin, has shared some of the same coaches but also has the same racket breaking, fun loving attitude. One year Gulbis broke an impressive number of rackets, saying, "I think I broke 64 rackets. In order to do so, you need to put some muscle into it. On the hard court, where it’s more difficult to break a racket, with one try I broke a racket in 5 places. I am emotional! Though I don’t do it because something bugs me. It’s just a stupid habit."

2010 was his most impressive year, making the quarterfinals of Barcelona before losing to eventual winner Fernando Verdasco. His most famous victory came the following week in Rome where he defeated Roger Federer in the second round after defeating Marcos Baghdatis in the first. Despite he "shit" in his pants when realising he was beating Federer, Gulbis maintained his impressive form, thumping blinding winners and numerous aces to book a quarterfinal spot against Rafael Nadal. Gulbis managed to do what no one else had - take a set off  an extremely in form Nadal.

Unfortunately we haven't seen much of Gulbis since his first round withdrawal from the French Open with a hamstring injury. Since then he has been partying in Latvia, apparently to get it out of his system so he can focus on the remaining season.

The entertaining Gulbis was arrested in 2009 in Sweden and spent a night in jail after picking up prostitutes. In his defense he says, "How was I supposed to know that they were prostitutes?" Gulbis defended his actions saying he was a young guy who saw some cute girls (who apparently did not looking like prostitutes) and decided to offer them a ride because it was cold outside. Of his jail time he has said “It was very funny. I think every person should go to jail once, as it’s interesting. It’s really interesting, as they are very strict. I was in jail for one night, about six hours. I slept a bit. Then the prosecutor came and he asked me what happened, and then he said, ‘Sorry, we didn’t know that it was this’.”

This year Gulbis spoke to the media about his improved focus. “I woke up one morning with a hangover, I clicked my fingers, and decided, ‘right, now I go for it.... The fire in me is that I want to prove to myself that I can do it, that I can be at the top. I don’t care about money, I don’t care about fame. I don’t like money and fame, I don’t need them and I’m not living for them. I don’t know if I like or love the game so much."

 he big hitting Latvian hopes to return to the tour for the American hard court season. With his enormous serve and even bigger backhand Gulbis will be expected to do well at the US Open if he can re-find some of his earlier form and focus. His best result in New York came in 2007 where he was defeated in the fourth round by Carlos Moya.

When Gulbis was asked where he would be without tennis he responded; "I would be a different person. Tennis change your character. It’s a very egotistical sport – teaches you how to think only about yourself. On court you’re alone, during the training you are alone. Tennis is the loneliest sport. When you’re in a team, team members support each other, but I am looking for support from the people who surround me."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

French Revolution

Just like the Spaniards, the French are also exerting themselves on the ATP tour much the same way the Russians are on the WTA tour. While their positions in the world rankings are not quite as impressive as the Spaniards, the French recently wiped the floor with red and yellow flags in the Davis Cup quarterfinals.

After their 5-0 defeat of Spain I took a little look at their July rankings. Two in the top 20, six in the top 50 and 11 in the top 100.

When you look at their top players the results the French have been able to have are all the more amazing considering some of the injuries that have plagued them.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - World Number 11

By far the most famous of the French players, Tsonga reached a career high ranking of 6 in 2008. Early in his career Jo struggled with injuries. He had a herniated disc in 2004, two separate shoulder injuries in 2005, continued back problems and an abdominal injury between October 2005 and February 2006. He irritated the abdominal injury again at the end of 2006 and between 2004 and 2006 he only played 8 tournaments.

Tsonga came back with a bang, bursting into our lives during the 2008 Australian Open where he bounded to the finals only to be stopped by Novak Djokovic. Tsonga has always been good on hard courts, and is particularly deadly when in form with his brilliant shots troubling the best players. During the quarterfinals at the 2008 AO, Tsonga thrashed Rafael Nadal 6-2, 6-3, 6-2, barely letting him into the match.

The Frenchman had a few months off after the Australian Slam to have knee surgery but quickly hit peak form on his return. At Wimbledon he had his best result and making the quarterfinals followed by his first Masters 1000 title in Paris.
Tsonga ran to the semi finals of the AO this year where he ran into Roger Federer, quickly running out of steam after an incredible five set match against Nicolas Almagro in the previous round.
Due to his numerous injury time outs Tsonga has yet to really find his feet on clay, having only played 10 tournaments on clay since turning pro.

Gael Monfils - World Number 17

Gael Monfils was a very promising and interesting player when he first turned pro. Always an interesting character, Monfils was the winner of the boys singles titles at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, however at a professional level his best rest results have been reaching the semi finals at Rome (2006), finals in Paris (2009) and semi's at Roland Garros (2008).

Monfils, while flashy and entertaining, has been accused of lacking focus and abusing his body around the court in an attempt to produce spectacular shots, which he frequently does, sometimes followed by a victory dance at the end of the match.

In 2005 Monfils shot up the rankings 200 places and moved into the top 50. In 2006 after losing to Federer in the Doha finals he was granted a wild card into a ping pong tournament in Las Vegas where he won the tournament and beat the world champion in the process.

Gael withdrew from the 2007 US Open and 2008 Australian Open with a hamstring injury, then struggling with a shoulder injury. In 2009 he retired, again in the AO, with a wrist injury, then withdrawing from Madrid and Rome with knee issues. In 2009 he had thumb and wrist problems, as well as a back injury that forced him to retire in Shanghai.

Monfils continued to struggle in 2010 with his form. He withdrew from the Medibank International with a shoulder injury he had issues with in Brisbane. He continued to have wrist problems that forced hi to withdraw from Miami, Monte Carlo and Rome before returning to the tour at Estoril where he retired with a stomach illness.

Gael is a defensive counter-puncher with an incredible ability to slide. He also has a 2-1 record in Davis Cup.
Julien Benneteau - World Number 32

Julien has recently recaptured his best ever ranking on number 32. Between May 2008 and July 2010 he has reached four finals at an ATP level but lost them all. His best Grand Slam results was a quarterfinal showing at the 2006 Roland Garros event.

Benneteau is also a successful doubles player. He made the 2007 AO quarterfinals, 2006 French Open quarterfinals, 2010 Wimbledon quarterfinals, 2004 and 2007 US Open semi finals. Over the years he has won 8 doubles titles, including three with Nicolas Mahut and two with Michael Llodra - both French players.

The French number three has a 4-0 record in Davis Cup, recently beating Feliciano Lopez in straight sets and beating the Lopez/Verdasco doubles team with Michael Llodra to help France clinch a 5-0 victory over the Spaniards.

Gilles Simon - World Number 33

Gilles made a huge impact on the ATP tour in 2008 where he famously beat Roger Federer at the Rogers Cup, moving into the top 15 for the first time. He continued to play well on the American hard courts, battling Juan Martin del Potro for almost 4 hours over 5 sets, eventually losing their 3rd round match.

Still on the hard courts, he made a run to the finals in Madrid, beating an ailing Nadal before falling to Andy Murray. When he secured a spot in the Masters Cup in the same year (after Nadal withdrew) Simon again beat Federer before losing to Murray and beating Stepanek. He managed to qualify for the semi's with his impressive result, moving up to number 7 for the first time.

Simon remained a consistent face in the top ten for much of 2009 before injuring his knee in the 2009 USO which he irritated in Paris, limping through a match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Simon has struggled to recover from his knee injury but has recently started playing regular tournaments.

Michael Llodra - World Number 34

Llodra has also had some recent success in Davis Cup along with Benneteau. He claimed an impressive rubber against Fernando Verdasco in four sets. While Llodra hasn't made it past the fourth round of a Grand Slam he seems to have found his form in the last few months, winning Eastbourne, reaching the finals of Bordeaux and the quarterfinals of Queens where he lost to Mardy Fish.

Also this year Llodra won a title in Marseille when he defeated Benneteau in the finals and Robin Soderling in the quarters.

Richard Gasquet - World Number 46

Gasquet has had some success and controversy in his career. He also has one of the worlds most technically sound single handed backhands.

After winning the mixed doubles French Open title in 2004 Gasquet had his breakthrough year in 2007 in both singles and doubles. He reached the quarters in Monte Carlo and the finals in Estoril. He then achieved his best ever Grand Slam result, reaching the semi's at Wimbldedon where he took down Tsonga and Mahut before scalping Roddick in the quarters, eventually losing to Federer.

For much of 2008 Richard struggled to maintain any consistent form.

The most notable event in Gasquet's 2009 career occurred in May in Miami where he tested positive for cocaine, allegedly after kissing a woman in a night club. Despite being suspended while he was investigated and eventually cleared, Gasquet made a comeback, citing the support of Rafa Nadal as the most significant he received in his time off.

In 2010 Gasquet has shaken off the rust and started to play well again. He defeated Verdasco to take the title in Nice, beat Llodra to win Bordeaux, was a finalist in Sydney and a quarterfinal in Belgrade.