Re: Sorry players' interviews. Death of Tennis Mourning Thread.
French Open ending oh-so-predictable
Wimbledon offers better drama, despite absences
BY JAY CLARK, The Island Packet
Published Wednesday, June 21, 2006
When the red dust from the French Open cleared and only the champions
were left standing, it sure felt like the results should have been
foreseeable all along. Certainly, the best clay-courters of their
respective genders going into Roland Garros, Rafael Nadal and
tennisbot Justine Henin-Hardenne, emerged the victors.
The men's final was all about whether Roger Federer could make
history, becoming the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win four
Grand Slams in a row. But something funny happened on the way to being
anointed the greatest of all time (at least by John McEnroe, who found
this to be an astoundingly original thought.) Federer's backhand, and
the quality of the match for that matter, became about as reliable as
a Hilton Head Island restaurant recommendation. The appetizer was okay
(the dancing Nadal pre-match warm-up), the servers were inconsistent
(enough with profound stories of overcoming adversity Mary Carillo)
and the best main course tennis had to offer still managed to
(By the way, try The Crab Factory. It's fictional and delicious! Tell
all your friends you went there, and then order Pizza Hut.)
Women's tennis suffered another blow when two of the most unmarketable
women ever to grace the court, Svetlena Kuznetsova and Henin-Hardenne,
managed to make it to the final. All that was missing was a guest
appearance by the bewildering Nadia Petrova, who managed to take all
the momentum she garnered before the tournament and channel it into a
first-round performance only Marat Safin could make sense of. Nadia is
a perfect example of why any points supporting the argument for
on-court coaching should be moot. Grand Slam champions do not choke on
their own saliva. They choke on bananas, like Rafael Nadal did during
one of his early-round matches.
In need of something to infuse a little excitement into the matches
(Nadal's banana peels littering the court a la Mario Tennis?), women's
tennis is getting to a Cousin Oliver state of desperation. There is so
much potential in the WTA's own random assortment of a Brady Bunch
cast: Sharapova as Marcia, Dementieva or Vaidisova as Jan, Clijsters
as Cindy, Kutznetsova as Sam the Butcher. Yet, the episodes always
seem to disappoint. Which leads to the question, did you see the
French Open final? Or did "something suddenly come up?"
All of this drama -- or lack thereof -- is perfect timing for a press
release from everyone's favorite television guest star specialist,
thespian Serena Williams! She claims to be making her return at the
"highly competitive" WTA Cincinnati tournament. Although this
tournament is highly competitive by Francesca Schiavone standards, it
certainly isn't Williams Sister caliber.
It is a shrewd move by Serena to start small, and as a bonus she
promises an outfit that is unlikely to match the occasion. She says no
to a cat suit though ... perhaps a Stella McCartney Chinchilla-fur
ensemble will do the trick.
Serena's announcement has temporarily overshadowed the upcoming battle
royal on the lawns of inequity at Wimbledon, a tournament in which she
will not be appearing. Wimbledon is a whole different story. The buzz
of history is inimitable, the surface texture seemingly
indecipherable, and the results occasionally inexplicable.
Table for one, please.