People ask me, what do you hate about tennis? I offer them today's first round ousters of Venus Williams and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who just last week were kicking ass and slaying giants.
There they were, Venus at the Rogers Cup in Montreal, Jo-Willy at the men's tour equivalent in Toronto, burning through the draw. Venus, unseeded, was a surprise finalist, losing to Aggie Radwanska but beating her sis, world No. 1 Serena, in the semis. Tsonga dismantled four Top Ten players -- Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Grigor Dmitrov and Roger Federer -- on his way to becoming the first Frenchman to win the tournament since 1881. Seriously.
I know Quebec wants to secede, but shouldn't Canada be nicer to the French than that?
Williams' and Tsonga's success was so 72 hours ago. As on Wall Street, past performance in tennis is no predictor of future winnings. I ask you....what's NOT to hate about that?
Here in Cincinnati, Williams lost to the 16th seed Lucie Safarova, 7-6 (2), 3-6, 4-6. It's Safarova's first victory ever over the seven-time Grand Slam winner. Safarova not only handled Venus' big serves, breaking her four times in the last two sets, she kept Tennis Hate at bay when, serving 5-2 for the match, the umpire overruled a line call to give Venus the break, and some hope. Williams held, but Safarova clinched the set and the match it in her next service game.
Venus was gracious in defeat, offering no other excuse than that her opponent was better. "I think she just played really well," she said. "No matter what shot I hit, she hit a winner, or if I hit it really deep she somehow managed to control it down the line."
At least that one went the distance -- three sets, in nearly two and a half hours of play. Tsonga's loss to journeyman and Tennis Hate icon Mikhail Youzhny (you'll understand why here) was a wipe out at 6-1, 6-4. This was not the Tsonga who beat four Top Ten players, including Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, to claim the title in Canada last week. He looked pooped.
Also going down, but off court: defending champ Victoria Azarenka, who finally succumbed to the knee injury she suffered in Montreal.
"I'm going to get more treatment and get more work done and should be good for the US Open," she said, her lips to God's ears. "But I had to make this decision. I feel strongly that it's the best for me at this moment."