I don't know if this was ever posted, but very funny
Posted on December 09, 2004
The 2004 Tennis-X.com Year-End Awards: Federer, Russians Takeover
By Richard Vach, Tennis-X.com Senior Writer
Pro tennis had a lot to give in 2004.
A surging Swiss. Revolutionizing Russians. Demented dads. Sultry sexpots. Salient Spaniards. Resurgent rivalries. Championship chokes. A thriving Tennis Channel. Relationship ruination. Olympic opus'. Fashion faux pas'. Quotable quips. Tremendous tanks. Embarrassing escapades. Climactic comebacks. Gratuitous guarantees. Restructuring roadmaps. Egomaniacal eccentricities. And of course, thank you God, Anna Kournikova, if only in World Team Tennis.
Are we poised for an Anna and Martina Hingis comeback in 2005? A Spice Girls resurgence? But we digress.
The Year 2004 was the Russian revolution, with three of the four slams and the Fed Cup title brought back to Moscow. On the men's side Spain didn't win a slam (who did amidst the Year of Roger Federer? Some Argentine, can't remember his name...), but wrapped up its second Davis Cup title over a clay-challenged (excluding the Bryan brothers) U.S. team.
Federer had his year of years with three slams and the Masters Cup title, and accolades out the yin-yang. Injuries decimated the WTA Tour (Belgians, Williams, etc.) leaving an anemic race for No. 1 between Amelie "Choke-o-meter" Mauresmo and Lindsay "I'm Retiring...No I'm Not" Davenport.
Yuri Sharapova made his move to unseat Damir Dokic as the No. 1 Nutty Dad on tour, contributing to the top Russians voicing their desire to keep daughter Maria off the Fed Cup team for 2005.
But enough fond reminiscing about cat fights and comebacks, let's ready the microphone and stage for this year's best and brightest:
Best Break-Up: Lleyton Hewitt and Kim Clijsters
Andy Roddick put in an almost illegal number of entries for this category in 2004 between actress/singer Mandy Moore, model Lauren Bedford and heiress/professional skank Paris Hilton (alright, so reportedly kissing in a club is not dating). But the topper was the prickly Hewitt and the likable Clijsters suddenly breaking it off -- reportedly by the Belgian dumping the Aussie via phone. Ouch. Then ranting at the media to leave her alone on her website. Time to re-take that WTA "Media Relations" course. Like the Jimmy Connors-Chrissy Evert engagement before it, this one was just not meant to be.
Runners-up: Andy Roddick and Mandy Moore: Too much star power doomed the Andy and Mandy show...Mark Philippoussis and Delta Goodrem: Flip should be punished for this one. Oh wait, only one opening round win since the 2004 Oz Open. Enough said.
Best Choke Men: Guillermo Coria, French Open final
Blowing a 2-0 set lead and two match points, Guillermo "El Mago" Coria ran out of magic tricks when nerves got the best of him against Gaston Gaudio in the Roland Garros final. "I became nervous. It was new for me," Coria said. "I had the experience of other tournaments, of other matches, but I couldn't control this nervousness at that moment. I hope that I will be able to work a bit more on that...I was thinking about the victory. It seemed very close, a couple of games to achieve my dream. Maybe that was against me." You think? Lesson learned -- when you're up 2-0 sets, focus on winning the third rather than how you're going to hold the trophy or thanking Vilas or what's for dinner later or whatever. El Fragile can take consolation in Juan Carlos Ferrero choking his first final but returning the next year to win it.
Best Choke Women: Anastasia Myskina, Athens Olympics semifinals
Up 5-1 in the third against Justine Henin-Hardenne, Myskina started playing not to lose, and by 5-5 in the third she was crying, shaking and looking forlornly at her coach. Months later she admitted she was still haunted by her tearful collapse against H-H, who went on win the gold. "It was a nightmare. I couldn't sleep, waking up in the middle of the night for several days just thinking about that match," Myskina said. "But time heals any wounds, so I think eventually I'll be able to recover, although now I still have those nightmares from time to time."
Runner-up: Amelie Mauresmo, any match against Serena seems to invoke a colossal meltdown.
Best Tank Men: Marat Safin in Hamburg
After a sub-par effort against Jurgen "Tuna" Melzer in Hamburg right before the French, the big Russian laid it out for the media in his post-match: "I didn't feel like playing today," Safin said. "I just didn't feel like being on the court. The hour they put me and all that together took over my motivation." Yeah, that 11 a.m. start can be a killer after getting back to the hotel during the breakfast hour. Safin successfully defends his Best Tank award from 2003 when he quit in the middle of the Barcelona final, saying he was simply "too tired." Thanks for the effort Marat, hopefully coach Peter "Pop 'n Fresh" Lundgren put his foot in your ass after Hamburg.
Best Tank Women: Anastasia Myskina in Sopot
Lots of trips to the podium for the Russian, whose Sopot tank amounted to saying her shoulder was injured after she won her quarterfinal match since she realized she was going to miss the beginning of the Olympics if she didn't immediately hop on a plane for Athens. Myskina said 'Gotta go, injured' to the Sopot fans, then went to Athens and immediately competed, with the shoulder miraculously holding up. The Sopot event put out a release about the "shoulder injury," while the WTA website announced that Myskina pulled from Sopot with a "rib sprain." Hey, you guys need to coordinate your fake stories, get on the same page!
Best Feud Men: Lleyton Hewitt and the Masters Series-Rome
The feisty Aussie will apparently boycott the Masters Series-Rome tournament in 2005 after what he considered poor scheduling, and with tournament officials giving his coach Roger Rasheed the brush-off after he made complaints about it. This is a mystery as Hewitt usually gets along so well with tournament and ATP staff (see: Cincinnati, US Open, ATP communications, Sydney, black linesmen, etc.). Nice follow-up to the lawsuit against the ATP last year.
Runner-Up: Greg Rusedski and the ATP: Grinning Greg beats the doping rap and receives (probably) seven figures out of court, too bad his ranking is now in the commode for 2005 and he might be shut out of the Masters Series events.
Best Feud Women: Maria Sharapova and the other Russians
Apparently the Amer-Russian Sharapova's blood isn't Vodka-pure enough for compatriots Anastasia Myskina, Elena Dementieva, Svetlana Kuznetsova, etc., who all took shots at the poster girl during 2004. The situation went times-two after crazy-dad-comer Yuri went nuts at the WTA Championships, running on court for congratulations and dropping f-bombs (caught on ESPN) at other fans. Now the other Russians say Sharapova is not welcome on the Fed Cup team in 2005 -- stay tuned.
Runner-up: Papa Williams and the chair umpires on the WTA: Richard was publicly gracious amid the chaos following the Venus-Sprem match at Wimbledon and after the Serena-Capriati match at the US Open, but one has to wonder what was said behind closed doors.
Best Under-the-Table Guarantee Men: Roger Federer at Dubai
How much cash are top seeds such as Federer getting handed under the table in appearances fees to be enticed to play the smaller events? Consider golfer Tiger Woods being offered $6 million from the oil-rich organizers in Dubai just to get off the plane! And you wonder why George W. wants to march across the Middle East? Club Fed probably got a pipeline named after him in addition to a nice deposit in his Swiss bank account for Dubai, well done. Too bad later in the year you'll skip the "required" Masters Series events saying you're being asked to play too much.
Runner-up: Andre Agassi at St. Poelten: The grand old man skips the entire claycourt season leading up to the French save for...St. Poelten? Find that on the map. Cha-ching!
Best Under-the-Table Guarantee Women: The Maria Sharapova Asian Tour
Sharapova reportedly received $300,000 from organizers to play the WTA Seoul event, more than double the $140K the winner received -- which by the way, since she was the only Top 30 player in the field, was Maria Sharapova! Same with Tokyo. Who wants to see a Top 10 player beating on scrubs all week? If you're going to set up exhibitions, do it right, bring in Anna to play some hit-and-giggle with Maria. Then it would truly be "The Closer You Are, the Hotter It Gets." They could play in bikinis on a court filled with Jello. Don't try and tell me that hasn't been bandied about in a WTA marketing meeting.
Best Crazy Dad: Damir Dokic
Yuri Sharapova made a late-year run, but Damir performed consistently throughout the year while his then-estranged daughter piled up first-round losses. "I want the WTA to ask for additional psychiatric and doping tests for my daughter to confirm whether she uses illegal substances," Damir told The Telegraph. "I will approach her in a civilized way. If she won't listen, I predict it will be the end of her career." Dokic accused dad of trying to destroy her career, then took the logical step of reuniting with him by year's end. Good luck with that.
Runner-Up: Richard Williams: Responding to USA Network commentator Tracy Austin, who said the Williams sisters need to hire a real coach to fix such things as technical problems with their groundstrokes: "I couldn't care what Tracy or anyone says," poppa Williams said. "When Venus and Serena were winning, there was something wrong. When they're losing, there's something wrong. Very honestly, it's a disgrace. I think it's a disgrace at how the system is against those two black girls. If they win, everything is wrong; if they lose, it's get rid of the parents." Yo Richard, no need to play the race card when someone says Venus needs to work on her forehand.
Worst Fashion Statement Men: the Andy Roddick Reebok at the US Open
That's the best Reebok's got? A shirt that looked like some art student threw up on a subway map -- with a matching hat? Hope someone got fired for that.
Runner-Up: Players wearing colored socks with black shoes: That must have been invented before fashion, because it's not.
Worst Fashion Statement Women: the Serena Williams "corset" dress
Remember the cross between Wonder Woman and Tinkerbell look? Nike wasn't going to move a lot of those in the tennis shops. Now the dominatrix look, Serena was on to something there. So fashionable it hurt.
Most Embarrassing Moment Men: ATP bringing doping charges against Greg Rusedski -- and losing
Again. Like the Bohdan Ulihrach case, you know that cost the ATP seven figures in the out-of-court settlement. Oops. Maybe time to stop penalizing players when your trainers were handing out the dope. Or penalizing certain players while letting others off. Or...just farm your drug testing out to BALCO.
Runner-Up: Andy Roddick appearing on "The Weakest Link": A-Rod didn't know who "Frauline Forehand" was? Ouch. Watch any tennis during the '90s? Should have had Brad whispering you answers...Ted Watts: As a chair ump, how do you forget the tiebreak score on a Wimbledon center court match? An unprecedented gaff.
Most Embarrassing Moment Women: Elena Dementieva at the WTA Championships
The two-time slam runner-up in 2004 loses 1-and-0 to Lindsay Davenport at the WTA Championships? That's the showcase for the best of the best?
Biggest Loser Men: Miles Thompson
Who? The U.S. wheelchair tennis player was suspended for three months by the International Tennis Federation after testing positive for cocaine. And they said it was the chair technology that made him faster. That's hardcore, way to skip the nandrolone and go straight for the blow, you don't mess around.
Runner-Up: Diego Hipperdinger: The world No. 491-ranked player received a two-year suspension after he tested positive for cocaine and metabolites. Doesn't the ATP pamphlet warn against mixing the coke and Gatorade?
Biggest Loser Women: Kim Clijsters
Injures the wrist, tries to play matches with a wrist brace, then injures it for the remainder of the year. Time to stop surrounding yourself with "yes" people, and find someone for your posse who'll maybe tell you "Hey! Think about it! If it's still painful and you need to wear a brace to play, maybe it's NOT HEALED YET!" This isn't bowling, the wrist brace is not in.
Best Quote Men: Snoop Dogg
The rapper when asked by Sports Illustrated about which sport people would be surprised to know he liked: "Tennis. I used to like Ivan Lendl. He was sharp. An old schooler. Make it happen and roll out. Now I like Venus and Serena, but Ivan was the truth." Snoop, the Roger Federer of rap.
Runners-Up: John McEnroe talking to the BBC after Greg Rusedski was found innocent of doping: "As a result of Greg's case the sport has come out even worse than before. It's as if the Three Stooges or Laurel and Hardy are running the ATP -- if it wasn't so serious it would be funny. Let's make some serious changes here and do something. This is a great sport in dispute with itself."...Pat Cash in January saying Roger Federer is "ill-prepared without a coach" (that prediction turned out well), or that Mark Philippoussis is spending too much time "getting busy" instead of playing tennis. Cashy is ill-prepared in speaking to the media.
Best Quote Women: WTA Tour
The women's entity says it only appears there are more injuries because of increased media coverage in 2004. Uh huh.
Runners-Up: Martina Hingis: "People ask me about a comeback, but look at Venus (Williams). I don't want to end up like that even if I was healthy. The train is moving fast. Venus hasn't shown anything right now."...The ever-lovable Jelena Dokic on the decline of the Williams sister's dominance: "Even Venus has been very beatable. That story is over."
Intestinal Fortitude Award Men: Roger Federer
What didn't the Swiss do in 2004? One thing he did was keep his commitment to his home country Gstaad tournament, playing the claycourt event the week after winning Wimbledon. Oh, and he won that too, with virtually no practice on the dirt after coming straight off the lawns. Rather than a drug test, Club Fed needs a Is-He-Human? DNA test.
Intestinal Fortitude Award Women: Svetlana Kuznetsova
After winning the US Open, the Russian said keeping her word to play the Bali tournament (unlike countrywoman Elena Dementieva) was important: "I know I need a break but if I give my word I have to do it, no matter what. I know everyone would understand if I didn't come but it's important that I keep my word and I want people to respect me."
Most Missed Men: Andre Agassi
The former No. 1 will probably undertake his last campaign in 2005 after toning things down in 2004. Agassi had problems with the hip, skipped most of the claycourt season, failed to qualify for the Masters Cup, and took a pass on some much-needed help for the U.S. in the Davis Cup final. Still one of the most powerful figures in tennis on and off the court, hopefully "The Boss" can go out with a bang and not a whimper.
Runner-Up: Mark Philippoussis: Flipper with 13 first-round losses in 2004, time for a head check for one of the most gifted guys on tour.
Most Missed Women: Williams sisters and the Belgians
Serena could only play sporadically in 2004 after coming off of knee surgery while Venus, coming off an abdominal injury, looked like she had completely lost her fire. Justine Henin-Hardenne won five events (two majors) in only nine tournaments before succumbing to a "mystery ailment," while Kim Clijsters' wrist kept her out of action. Two healthy Williams' and the waffle sisters would help avoid another sub-par battle-of-attrition No. 1 race in 2005.
Surprise of the Year Men: Nicolas Massu
The Chilean enters the Athens Olympics with an 0-7 record on hardcourt for the year, having never won a career hardcourt title, and sweeps to the gold in singles and doubles (playing much of the doubles from the baseline). Luckily John McEnroe wasn't calling the doubles match, he would have had a brain aneurysm. Too good on the hardcourts for the previously-labeled dirtball-only grinder.
Runners-up: Gaston Gaudio: Having reached just one Grand Slam fourth round, overcomes an 0-2 set deficit to Guillermo Coria to win French Open. Someone pinch me...Tim Henman: Reached the semifinals of two Grand Slams. How did that happen?
Surprise of the Year Women: Maria Sharapova
Breaks out with the Wimbledon title, and ends the year with the WTA Championships trophy. The WTA is counting the days until the Russian turns 18 so they can switch from the soft-core porn billboards to some hard-core Anna Kournikova-style marketing. Note to Maria: be aware of the fine line between promoting tennis and being sexually exploited in 2005. Note to WTA: gross.
Runner-up: Lindsay Davenport: Who would have pegged her to play a full season let alone finish No. 1?...US Women: No Grand Slam titles for first time since 1997.
Player of the Year Men: Roger Federer
First player since Mats Wilander in 1988 to win three of the four slams in one calendar year; first player to win his first four slam finals; no losses to Top 10 players in 2004; first US Open champ to win two 6-0 sets in the final; first man to win Wimbledon and the US Open back-to-back since Pete Sampras in 1995; first man to win consecutive slam titles since Andre Agassi won the 1999 US Open and 2000 Australian Open; first blah blah, etc...nicely done. That's the best it will get folks, no one is going to win all four in one year in this era of injuries and competition.
Player of the Year Women: Justine Henin-Hardenne
Sorry Lindsay, Amelie, Maria, H-H would have had a Federer-like year if she had remained healthy. We'll throw her a bone for winning five of her nine events played (including the Australian Open and the Olympics -- while ill) before being forced to hang it up for the year.
Time for the staff party(s) and that giant bowl of eggnog that people mysteriously empty those tiny flasks and bottles into. Or as it was so aptly described, "The magic mixture that turns interns into porcelain-bus drivers." The Tennis-X award trophies are in the mail, happy holidays and a healthy 2005 everyone.