Stosur’s guns overpower imploding Serena for US Open title

September 12, 2011 in Sport, Tennis

Most people, even Australians, gave the inconsistent Samantha Stosur an outside chance at best of defeating the seemingly unstoppable Serena Williams in the 2011 US Open Women’s Final on the 10th anniversary of September 11.

But what they didn’t count on was Sammy’s massive guns to flex at all the right moments, delivering a shockingly easy 6-2, 6-3 victory and spoiling Serena’s latest ‘comeback tour’.

Seriously.  Take a look this woman’s arms.  P90X can’t get these results.  Even Rafa Nadal is jealous.

Are those real?

Unfortunately, the media has tried to overshadow Sammy’s historic win with scandal.  According to reports, Serena Williams had a meltdown against umpire Eva Asderaki, reminiscent of that time in 2009 when she threatened to shove her scrotum down the throat of a lineswoman who called a foot fault against her.

Down a set and facing break point in the first game of the second set, Serena belted a huge forehand and shouted, ‘Come on!’ as Sammy reached for the ball and failed to return it.  However, instead bringing the game back to deuce, Asderaki awarded the point (and hence the game) to Sammy.  The reason?  Asderaki believed Serena’s outburst was intended to hinder Sammy’s ability to complete the point, and had therefore infringed the ‘no hindrance’ rule.

Serena: 'Talk to the hand.'

Then, also according to reports, Serena went on another one of her famous tirades against Asderaki that lasted quite a while.

However, upon closer inspection of the video and transcript, I am certain that a mistake as been made here.  The truth is, Serena Williams was actually talking to herself, and not Asderaki, when she launched those insults.  And everything she said was true.

Don’t believe it?  Let’s take a look at exactly what Serena said.

‘I’m not giving her that game.’ — She was absolutely right.  Serena did not give her that game.  Asderaki did.

‘Aren’t you the one who screwed me over last time here? Do you have it out for me?  That’s totally not cool.’ — Serena could have only been talking to herself here because she was the one that screwed herself over last time, which, we can all agree, was totally not cool.  Besides, the person that called the foot fault on Serena last time was a lineswoman, and the umpire that time wasn’t Asderaki.

‘We’re in America last time I checked.’ — An utterly true fact.  Pure genius.

‘You’re out of control, you’re out of control.  You’re not only out of control, you’re a hater, and you’re just unattractive inside. Who would do such a thing? — Pretty much self explanatory.  Besides, who else would know what Serena looks like inside apart from herself (and her physician)?

Go Stosur!  Time to jump on the bandwagon.

Federer crushes Murray in 2010 Aussie Final; why don’t I like it?

February 1, 2010 in Tennis

Andy Murray's face says it all: kissing the trophy like that was a total dick move on Federer's part

It was just another day at the office for Swiss maestro Roger Federer, who annihilated a game Andy Murray at the 2010 Australian Open Final in three sets, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (13-11).  With the victory, Federer extended his Grand Slams record to 16, which is unprecedented in the history of men’s tennis.

Is there any doubt now that Federer, with two more Grand Slam titles than his nearest rival (Pete Sampras with 14) with many more competitive years left in his career, and having completed the career Grand Slam last year by capturing the elusive Roland Garros title, is the greatest of all time?  The one and only argument against him is his record against Rafael Nadal (ie if Federer isn’t even the best player of his era, then how can he be the greatest of all time?).  I don’t buy that for more than half a second.  If you still don’t believe it then you should check out this article (written before Federer won the 2010 Aussie).  Unless a guy comes along and starts smashing 230km serves with his dick, I’m always going to argue that the Fed Express is the GOAT.

But enough suction on Roger Federer for now.  I feel gutted for Andy Murray.  I don’t even like the guy that much, and I was hoping he would win.  It took me a while before I realised what that meant: I don’t like Federer anymore.

This is beyond strange.  For years I have supported Roger Federer and cheered him on in every tournament.  It was great watching his effortless play as he waltzed on towards history.  Even when he went up against players I liked more (like Michael Chang…just kidding), there was a part of me that still felt good when Federer won.

When Nadal came onto the scene and beat the crap out of Federer, I felt sorry for him and wanted him to win more than ever.  When Djokovic and Murray started beating him too, the same feeling rushed over me.  And that sobbing exhibition after losing the 2009 Aussie Open broke everyone’s heart (including mine and except Nadal’s).

However, somewhere between winning that 2009 French Open title to tie Sampras’ 14 slams and breaking the record at the 2009 Wimbledon, Federer started to lose his charm.  To me, anyway.  The hair flick after every point that used to be cool suddenly turned dicky.  His pre-match and post-match comments, which I used to classify as ‘confident but honest, proud but humble’, suddenly became ‘smug, arrogant and annoying’.

Almost overnight, I wanted other guys to beat him.  Murray, Djokovic, Roddick.  Either of the Williams sisters.  Anyone that may play against him, really.  And when Del Potro finally did it in the 2009 US Open Final against all odds, it was the first time I didn’t feel bad for Federer.  And yesterday, when Federer disposed of Murray in convincing fashion, it actually irritated me.

What could this possibly mean?  Has Federer become too dominant, too successful for his own good?  Is this bad for men’s tennis?  Does he need a Tiger Woods-style incident to bring him back to Earth?  (And let’s face it, there’s a pretty decent chance of that happening)

Please explain.

Inside Agassi and Becker’s secret rivalry

October 31, 2009 in Best Of, Entertainment, Tennis

agassi admission

Few people know the real reason behind Agassi's drug revelations

[For my new post on the Agassi-Chang rivalry, click here]

By now everyone should know about Andre Agassi’s explosive admission that he used crystal meth (the dangerous drug otherwise known as ‘ice’) in 1997, tested positive, then got away with it by writing a simple explanation letter to the ATP.  However, very few people know about the underlying reason for this seemingly pointless admission – Agassi’s ongoing contest with Boris Becker to see who can dominate the tennis spotlight.

What? I hear you say.  Allow me to explain.

All one has to do is to take a look at the careers and post-career lives of these two great tennis champions.

First set

Boris Becker played 15 years of professional tennis, was number 1 in the world and claimed 6 grand slam titles.  Andre Agassi, on the other hand, stuck around for 20 years, was also number 1 in the world at some stage, and bagged 8 grand slam titles, including the rare career grand slam.  Strictly speaking, Agassi has probably had a slightly more impressive career based on titles alone.  Further, Agassi has a 10-4 record against Becker, including a 4-1 record in grand slam matches.  The first set goes to Agassi, 6-4.

Second set

However, the real battle between these two warriors took place outside the tennis courts.  Both men craved the spotlight, and it was only a matter of time before they started trying to outdo each other.

Boris Becker, with his attacking style, struck first, marrying famous photographer Barbara Feltus in 1993 by first getting her pregnant.  The couple also caused shockwaves when they posed nude together in a photo taken by Babara’s father before the wedding.  Becker had captured the spotlight of the tennis world off the court, and for a while, there was no one to challenge him.

Enter Andre Agassi, who either intentionally or inadvertently stole the spotlight from Becker with a high profile celebrity wedding of his own.  Agassi, the natural baseliner known for his defensive brilliance, took his time, dating actress Brooke Shields from 1993 (perhaps already with Becker in mind) and wedding her in 1997.  It was a stormy relationship that the media feasted on, snatching away the attention so dearly craved by Becker.  Easy second set for Agassi, 6-2.


Andre Agassi

Third set

Frustrated, Becker planned his next move, only to be caught off-guard by a pre-emptive strike from Agassi, who rocked the tennis world again by ending his marriage with Brooke Shields in April 1999.  Not to be outdone, a furious Becker initiated a separation from his own wife in December of the same year.  To kick it up a notch, there was the whole debacle surrounding the pre-nup the couple signed, which brought more media scrutiny than even Becker had hoped for.  Thanks to the messy divorce settlement, Becker finally edged Agassi this time in a tie-break, 7-6 (11-9).

Fourth set

From here, both tennis greats stepped up their games and took the rivalry to a new level.  First Agassi began dating one of the greatest female tennis players of all time, Steffi Graf, after the French Open champion’s ball in 1999.  Two of the greatest of all time dating?  It was a strange doubles combination, that’s for sure, but think about the kids they’d have!

But Becker brought his A-game this time and dropped a bombshell on Agassi and the tennis world by revealing that he had impregnated a waitress in the broom closet of Nobu in London after his last match in 1999 (following Wimbledon).  Just to milk it a bit more, Becker initially denied paternity, claiming that he was an ‘unseeded’ player, until a DNA test confirmed what he had known all along.

Nevertheless, the impact was undeniable.  Becker was king of the headlines once more, and as a result people barely flinched when Agassi and Graf married in 2001.  A big comeback for Becker, 6-1 in the fourth set!


Boris Becker

Final set

From here, with the match tied 2 sets apiece (6-4, 6-2, 6-7, 1-6), the two men were exhausted and struggled to come up with new material.  Agassi and Graf started pumping out kids and made a few headlines when they played doubles together.  Becker, on the other hand, went through a custody battle and another broken engagement through which he was dumped by text message.  It was all very tame and both men were having difficulty coping without controversy.

Becker even tried to relive some of his best moments when he recently (a week before Agassi’s latest revelations) declared that the daughter he had with the waitress was actually conceived on an uncomfortable set of stairs as opposed to a broom closet.  Regardless, he admitted in shame that it was the quickest match he had ever played, prompting suggestions that there were other reasons apart from his powerful serve that earned him the nickname ‘Boom Boom’.  Indeed, the waitress recently likened Becker to a “runaway train” in her new tell-all book In One Breath (named after the length of the encounter).

Just when the two champions appeared to be heading down an endless fifth set with each unable to break the serve of the other, Agassi stunned the world with his latest drug revelations.  One of the greatest tennis players of all time not only took ice, but he had also gotten away with it!  Let’s not forget, 5 of Agassi’s 8 grand slams were won after 1997 – if he had been banned from tennis the way he should have, then Becker probably would have won their secret contest already.

The disappointment in Becker was apparent for all to witness in his latest interview, where he said: ”I’m the last person to throw stones, as there have been some difficult times in my own life (emphasis added), but to hear that he took crystal meth, that certainly puts a whole new light on Andre.  And it’s not a beautiful light.”

”There have been stories over the years about some tennis players taking drugs, but maybe they were just stories, and now Andre, a big star, has been so open about what he took and how he lied to avoid punishment. I’m struggling to think of anything else in tennis that comes close to this.”  At this point, Boris whipped out some old newspaper clippings of his Nobu scandal, but no one seemed to notice.

”Andre didn’t just take drugs, he also tested positive for drugs and then got away with it, and that’s not good at all for tennis, especially for the governing bodies,” Becker said. ”People are going to be thinking, ‘How could this happen?  How could he get away with this?'”

Clearly, the fact that Agassi ‘got away with it’ has plagued Becker, who added: “If it had been made public in 1997 that Andre was using drugs, his career, and his life, would have been very different.  He wouldn’t be where he is today.  Maybe his career would not have survived if everyone knew that he had taken drugs, and if he was banned from the tour for a while.  But no one knew until now, and it was after he took crystal meth that he played some of the best tennis of his life.  He won many grand slams after that.”

For the last person to throw stones, that’s certainly a lot of rocks!

Perhaps sensing that defeat was inevitable, Becker threw in a futile last-ditch effort, reminding everyone that in his own memoir, he admitted to washing down sleeping pills with whisky.  I’m sure he wanted to say: “That’s almost as bad as ice!”  Unfortunately, victory had already slipped out of his grasp.

Game.  Set.  Match.

Agassi defeats Becker, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (11-9), 1-6, 27-25, in their secret contest.

Del Potro downs Federer in US Open Final!

September 15, 2009 in Tennis

Del Potro wins the 2009 US Open!

Del Potro wins the 2009 US Open!

In one of the more exciting US Open Finals in recent memory, 20-year-old Juan Martin Del Potro dethroned 5-time defending champion Roger Federer- in 5 sets, 3-6, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2. The win marked Del Potro’s first ever Grand Slam title, and denied Federer his 6th consecutive US Open title, his 41st consecutive win at the US Open, and his 16th career Grand Slam title.

Personally, I think few people expected Del Potro to win.  Federer had never lost to anyone other than Nadal (disposed of by Del Potro in the semis) in a Grand Slam final and had never lost to Del Potro in 6 previous matches.  However, the agile 6-6 giant was able to keep his composure despite being down 1 set to love and 2 sets to 1, and rallied down the stretch for a memorable victory.  The win is certainly great for tennis and marks the official arrival of Del Potro into tennis superstardom.  He definitely has the size, talent and potential to be a multiple GS winner, so let’s hope the young Argentine can keep his head on straight and excite us for many more years to come.

Wrapping up a fantastic year in tennis

What a weird, fantastic and memorable year this has been in tennis!  It started off with Nadal capturing the Australian Open in January over Federer, with the latter reduced to a sobbing wreck at the presentation ceremony.  Most believed at the time that it signalled the end of Federer’s dominance of men’s tennis and some suggested that he’d never win another Grand Slam.

Then what do you know, Nadal gets bounced in the French Open unexpectedly by Robin Soderling, and Federer delivers in the final to win his first ever French Open, adding the last trophy missing in his cabinet and tying Pete Sampras’s record of 14 Grand Slams.

Next, Nadal shockingly pulls out of Wimbledon due to injury, and Federer battles a rejuvenated Andy Roddick in another epic 5-set Wimbledon Final.  Federer wins his record-breaking 15th career Grand Slam, and ends up in a position no one thought he would be in after the Australian Open.  Guys like Djokovic and Murray keep hanging around but they never seem to have it when it comes to the Grand Slams.

And finally now, Del Potro spoils the end of what would have a fairy-tale year for Federer by coming from behind to snatch the US Open from his grasp!  Who could have imagined all this drama at the start of the season?

ATP World Tennis

The end-of-year event is now called Barclays ATP World Tour Finals

So now men’s tennis heads into a period of uncertainty.  Will Roger finally start to lose his edge in Grand Slams?  Will Nadal ever be the same again after his injury woes?  Can Djokovic be a serious Grand Slam threat again or just consistently good?  Will Roddick ever recapture his Wimbledon final form and win his second Grand Slam?  Is Del Potro for real or a one-slam wonder?  Can the young guns like Soderling, Tsonga, Simon and Monfils break through and win a major?  And will Andy Murray ever win anything?

Bring on the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals (the heck?) and 2010!

Federer Finally Wins the French Open!

June 7, 2009 in Tennis

How sweet it is!

How sweet it is!

At last, Roger Federer has the career slam!

Not long after I wondered whether Roger’s run to the French Open Final was too good to be true, conventional wisdom prevailed in the end as Federer crushed a shell-shocked Robin Soderling in straight sets, 6-1, 7-6 (7-1), 6-4 to win the last Grand Slam missing from his trophy room.

That makes it 14 Grand Slams (5 Wimbledon, 5 US Open, 3 Australian Open, 1 French Open) in total, matching the record held by the great Pete Sampras – but one could argue that Federer is now the undisputed greatest of all time because he has the only Grand Slam that Sampras never came close to capturing.  Interestingly, Andre Agassi, the last man to capture the career slam (and the only other man in the Open Era) was on the dais to present the trophy to a teary Roger.  It was a fitting end to a dramatic, almost magical fortnight where 4-time defending champion Rafael Nadal was ousted by Soderling in dramatic fashion and Federer struggled through 2 come-from-behind 5-setters to reach the Final.

Just when experts thought Federer had reached the end of his glorious career, he comes up delivering one of the greatest moments in tennis history.  Now the question will inevitably shift to whether he can reclaim the Wimbledon title he lost to Nadal last year (in perhaps the greatest match of all time), and in doing so, break Sampras’ record.  With Nadal out of Queens and questionable for Wimbledon, I’m sure people will start hopping back on the Federer bandwagon.  But with the likes of Murray and Djokovic eager to seize glory for themselves, I wouldn’t start carving Roger’s name on the trophy just yet.  However, after what I just witnessed I’m never going to count Federer out ever again.

[PS: Federer is 27 years and 303 days old.  Sampras was 31 years and 27 days when he won his 14th Grand Slam]