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Featured Meltdowns


Finding Roger Federer Meltdown footage on YouTube is like finding a seat on the Number 4 Lexington Avenue subway at 9:30 in the morning. [Non-New Yorkers, take note: it's rare.] The Greatest of All Time usually deals with blown shots by dragging his middle finger across his forehead and tucking his hair behind his ear. Not this time. This was a semi-final match with Novak Djokovic at the 2009 Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, Florida. Djokovic just broke Fed in the third and deciding set and was up 15-0 when the Greatest of All Time took his eyes off a routine approach shot that could have evened the score. Federer went through lots of racquets when he was playing the junior circuit; wonder if he felt a little wave of nostalgia upon banging this one hard into the court.

On the Sideline

Entries from August 1, 2012 - August 31, 2012


US Open: Tomic Tanks vs. Roddick, Takes It Out on Reporter

You got a problem with that? Bernard Tomic explains tankingHaters, I'm a member of the Fourth Estate, so I've been in news conferences where my ilk needle politicians and tennis players and other newsworthy folks in search of a good quote.

Well, an Australian reporter got a story, all right, when he questioned fellow Aussie Bernard Tomic about his lackluster effort in the 19-year-old's 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 beating by 30-year-old American Andy Roddick.

Roddick had just announced 24 hours earlier that he was going to retire after the Open, the site of his greatest victory and only Grand Slam championship in 2003.  Maybe he was going for broke as a result, relaxed and at peace with himself.  (He later said, in his on court interview, "I wasn't relaxed tonight, but it's a great result.")  Maybe it was the blue moon shining over Arthur Ashe Stadium, the second full moon in a calendar month.

The ball looked as big as the full moon to Roddick vs. Tomic. Source: AFP

Whatever the source, Roddick was magical, with 13 aces, including one on match point, 33 winners to 21 unforced errors (Tomic's differential was 18/27) and an average first serve speed of 127 miles per hour (Tomic? 112 mph).

Even so, Tomic looked wooden and sluggish, especially in the third set, which took just 21 minutes.  And why wouldn't it?  The Aussie won just five points.

John McEnroe, calling the game with brother Patrick for ESPN, suggested Tomic was tanking.

"Tomic is teeing it up.  It looks like the tank job," he said.  Brother Patrick later Tweeted, "Pathetic."  (The Tweet came as Victoria Azarenka, the next match up on Ashe, was throttling Zheng Jie, 6-0, 6-1.  PMac later clarified in a second Tweet: "In case you were wondering, I was referring to effort from Tomic.")

Really, Haters, two pricey night matches in ugly Ashe, over in one hour, 26 minutes. That, and your tiny little $18 lobster roll dinner and the long subway ride to Flushing Meadows, and you're better off going to see middle-aged Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones attempt hot sex in "Hope Springs."    

Told of McEnroe's tanking comment afterward, Tomic agreed.  "Well, I think he's probably right. I couldn't get the racquet on the ball."

 That's how I play. Do you have a problem with that?"

"The whole match was his way from start to finish pretty much."

My people pressed on.  Will Swanton, a reporter with Reuters, asked him to explain what happened.  

Tomic: "What do you think?"

Swanton: "I think your relaxed style sometimes, people get the wrong impression."  

Tomic: "That's how I play.  Do you have a problem with that?"

Swanton told Tomic he was just giving him a chance to explain himself.  Yeah, THAT well-worn ploy.  "You're going to regret not telling us everything that's buzzing around in your head right now, word for word."

Tomic didn't disappoint.

Tomic: "That's your prediction. I have mine. That's how I play  If you think that's that, it's up to you. What is your name?" 

Swanton: "Will."

Tomic: "Will who?

Swanton: "Will Swanton."

Tomic: "From?"

Swanton: "Reuters."

Tomic: "I'll remember you."

Tomic has some water with his bagel. Source: APOkay, Tomic is just 19.  Roddick gets equally surly, with reporters and umpires, and he's 11 years older.  (Even tonight, when questioning a linesman's call, he could be heard on national TV saying to the chair ump, "Step in at any time!")  That's tennis.  It makes you say things you regret, like calling your husband a motherf****r because he hit a winning drop shot against you for the third time. 

But, uh, Bernie?  Practice saying this, while you're out there slugging groundstrokes and picturing Will Swanton's face on every ball:

 "No comment."


The I Hate Tennis US Open Cake Contest

This, too, can be yours. I love (and hate) cake almost as much as I love (and hate) tennis.  Frosting!  Ooh.  Calories! Ugh.  You get the picture.

Indulge in both passions by entering the I Hate Tennis US Open 2012 Cake Contest!

Fill out your bracket for the men here, and for the women here.  To get to the bracket form, click on the "Submit Your Picks Now! arrow under the banner, SUBMISSION WINDOW OPEN.

It's easier, and faster, to work your way backward from the finals to the first round matches.  The computer fills in the brackets automatically that way.  It takes a little while to figure out the Tourneytopia bracket program, but here's some motivation for you.

Cake.  Caaaake.  CakeCakeCakeCakeCake.  Red Velvet. Chocolate with dark chocolate frosting.  Yellow cake with caramel frosting.  Coca Cola cake.  Whatever.  I'll make it for you and present it in your own awards ceremony.  You can even lift it over your head, like the pros do, and take a bite out of it (a real one) like Rafael Nadal does.

Just do it.  And I don't mean put on your Nikes and go for a run.  Plunk yourself in front of your computer and enter a competition to win a CAKE.


My prediction: Andy Murray, filled with confidence in his new, aggressive game from his Olympic gold medal victory over Roger Federer, wins his first major at the US Open.  He beats Novak Djokovic in the final.  Check out my path to a Murray/Djoko final here.

For the women, I have Petra Kvitova beating Serena Williams in a tough 3-setter.  I'm rooting for a Kvitova/Victoria Azarenka and Williams/Angelique Kerber semifinals.  Check out the rest of my picks here.

Most important, I want to see YOUR picks and bake a cake for you!  So, c'mon, enter.  Give me something to blog about.  

Picks are due before 11:00 AM Monday, August 27th, when the first round starts at Flushing Meadows.  Enjoy the US Open.


New Haven: Cibulkova Ends Petkovic's Inaugural Run After Injuries

Andrea Petkovic's forehand was not her friend against Domenika Cibulkova.She gutted out a 3-set victory against Timea Babos in the first round of the New Haven Open, but it must have sapped Andrea Petkovic.  She looked sluggish and dispirited in her 6-3, 6-1 loss to Domenika Cibulkova.  Her first tournament since April ended in the second round.

The second set was a wipeout, with Petkovic unable to get her first serves in play.  But the first set was much closer, with both players exchanging breaks.  I hate when that happens. You're supposed to be at an advantage when you serve, but multiple breaks erode your confidence.

And we all know how much of a confidence game tennis is.

Petkovic served to start the first set and was quickly on the defensive, at 15-40.  Cibulkova surrendered those 2 break points with errors, but still broke Petkovic.  She broke her again in the 3rd game.  Ouch.

Check out more photos from the New Haven Open here.

But a couple of double faults and wayward backhands later, Dominika was broken back. Ah, isn't that just like tennis?  Petkovic was on the scoreboard, 1-3.  The momentum was back with the former world number 9.  

Not for long.  Cibulkova started hitting a lot of shots wide to Petkovic's forehand, the kind of shot that Andrea was running for when she turned over her right ankle in Stuttgart against Victoria Azarenka. She dumped three forehands into the net.  Cibi leads, 4-1.

Haters, that wasn't the end of the back-and-forth breaks.  Domenika went away during her next service game.  Petko brought her to 0-40 with a drop shot volley winner, a deep baseline shot that drew an error from Domenika's backhand, and another that got her forehand to sail long.   With a forehand winner off Cibulkova's second serve, Andrea took back one break to make it 2-4.  Miracle of miracles, she held her serve and broke Domenika again to knot the first set, 4-4.

Now it was Petkovic's turn to serve again in the critical 9th game.  Each player was just two games away from the set.  Who would hold their damn serve and who wouldn't?

Andrea wouldn't, Domenika would.  She took the first set, 6-4, after Petkovic dumped another weak forehand into the net. Petkovic played even more erratically in the second set.

Petkovic, sunny and cheerful in her post-match press conference, said inconsistency was the price she had to pay for being out so long.

I'm quite satisfied because I didn't break my neck. That's a development from the last tournament!"

"I really felt like, throughout the whole match, I was playing 3 or 4 incredible rallies or incredibly good shots, and then I'd miss horrible shots that'd I'd never miss in 100 years," she said.  "I have to accept and stay positive in order to come back as fast as possible."

For Petkovic, being positive means looking for the up side in her loss.   "I'm quite satisfied because I didn't break my neck. That's a development from the last tournament!"

She said her right, surgically-repaired ankle felt fine, but conceded that, mentally, she may still be hesitant to lunge for wide forehands, like the ones Cibulkova was pounding for winners.

"It's not consciously, but definitely subconsciously. I worked a lot on that shot because it was exactly the one where I tested my ankle.  It's definitely there. and it's going to take some time." 

Cibulkova said she didn't consciously hit to that wing because of Petkovic's injury.  "I don't know, I had no idea," she said.  "But one of my strategies was to go hard into her forehand, because her backhand was better today, and I have very good forehand."

Cibulkova said her coach has been working with her to make her forehand a weapon. "I was a running player, I pushed the ball back and waited for my opponent to make a mistake.  But then I changed coaches 3 years ago.  He told me the weapon I had and we started working on my forehand a lot. and as you can see, it's working for me pretty well."

Cibulkova will play the number 1 seed and four-time New Haven Open champ Caroline Wozniacki in the quarterfinals.  



New Haven: Bartoli Defeats Stephens, Press Corps Bummed

Marion Bartoli's service motion: works for her!"Man, this is blowing my story," one journo said from the row of desks behind me.  We were sitting in the media center at the New Haven Open, deep beneath the seats of Center Court at the Yale University tennis facility.  The TV monitor in front of us showed Marion Bartoli well on her way to trouncing Sloane Stephens in the first set, a set she'd win at 6-1. 

"You want Stephens to win?" I asked him.  

"Yeah, that's the story," he said.  Stephens, 19 years young, up and comer, 46th in the world, upsetting 27 year old Marion Bartoli of France, world number 11 and 5th seed.  It didn't look like it was going to happen.

But Stephens, sensing the restive pens of the Fourth Estate, gave us something to write about with a spectacular shut down of Bartoli's game in the second set.  She out-powered Marion at the baseline.  Marion's herky-jerky serve broke down, too.  She had 6 double faults, including two in a row that gave Stephens a 4-0 lead.  She served the Frenchwoman a bagel, fresh from New York City and the USTA training center in Queens. 6-0, Stephens.

Sloane StephensCheck out more photos of the New Haven Open here.

Bartoli's a veteran, though, and she flipped a switch and started upping her intensity.  She's got zany ways of doing that.  She does rapid-fire shadow swings while waiting to return. Before serving, she bounces on her toes, legs together and straight as a post, forward, back, forward, back, left, right, center.   Bartoli got into Stephens' head, too, screaming "Come on!!" whenever she won a point, which was more and more often.  

Bartoli had started out saying, "Allez!" but switched to English, to make sure Stephens got the message.  Bartoli was not getting bageled again.

Bartoli saved 4 out of 5 break points that Stephens had against her in the 3rd.  She clawed her way out of a 0-3 hole by clobbering Sloane's short balls for winners, and grabbed a 4-3 lead by breaking Stephens in the 7th game.  

Haters, you all know that it ain't a break until you hold your next service game.  In the see-saw rhythm that defined this match, Bartoli was flirting with being broken right back. Stephens had her at 15-40.  She got there with amazing defense, skying back a deep, hard should-have-been-a-winner shot to her forehand.  Marion, surprised that the ball was coming back, dumped her forehand into the net.

Two break points for Stephens.  "Come on, Sloane, take it to her," said the man sitting two seats away from us along the baseline.

But Marion saved one break point with a one-two combo of hard serve/blistering cross-court winner off the short return, and saved the other with an ace out wide to Sloane's backhand -- a shot she had been going for, and missing, earlier in the match.  One more big 100+ mile per hour serve to that same spot, and she was up, 5-3.  

Stephens, who's like an iceberg on the court, quiet and stone-faced between points, was now looking toward her camp, both hands up in the air, like, "What the hell can I do? She's got me flummoxed!"

It was a funky way to end it, but it was okay," said Stephens.

Bartoli broke her at 0-40.  6-3.  Game, set, match, to Experience.  Youth immediately grabs her big red racquet bag and heads off the court, brushing right past a little girl who was holding out a paper fan for an autograph.

Outta my way, kid, I got unconverted break points to grieve.

"It was crazy," Stephens said of the wild momentum swings in the match.  "I think we both played pretty well.  It was a funky way to end it, but it's okay."

Yes, losing the third and deciding set at 0-40, after you had your opponent at 15-40 the game before, is funky.  But Stephens insisted that she didn't let her level go down.  She says Bartoli was able to ramp hers up.

I asked her if Bartoli's way of ramping up, with those shadow swings and fist pumps and extra-loud "COME ONs!" got into her head.  This was their first meet-up.

Sloane's answer, in a roundabout way: "YEP."

"I haven't been on the pro circuit long enough" to get used to different players' methods, she said.  "Different girls have different ways of doing that.  It is distracting. But when you're playing, you can't let that get to you."

Stephens said some of stuff she saw Bartoli doing between points made her think, afterwards, "Did I just see her DO that?"  She didn't elaborate on what made her jaw drop. I'd guess it was the hopping around Bartoli did before Sloane served.  She even used the word "sportsmanship" somewhere in her remarks.  I couldn't write fast enough.

"Did Stephens just accuse Bartoli of being unsportsmanlike?" one reporter asked another as the press briefing ended.  We'll see, Haters, if the local papers have that as their headline tomorrow morning.  

You know how us media types are.  Always looking for the juicy story.  


New Haven: Sara Errani, Marion Bartoli, Sloane Stephens

Updated on Tuesday, August 21, 2012 at 1:40PM by Registered CommenterAmy Eddings

The hot seat: the interview room at the New Haven Open.There are some stimulating line-ups at the sleepy New Haven Open today.  It starts with one of my favorite players, the always-bouncing Sara Errani, against Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro.  Errani, the French Open finalist, is seeded 4th at the Open.

Click to read more ...

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