You’re Welcome, Sam!

September 20, 2011

I will most definitely come out and support you then.

Still proud of you. *tear*


Bloody Marvellous

May 26, 2011

While the world mourns the state of American men’s tennis, John Isner goes ahead and takes Rafa Nadal to five sets. On clay. In a first round match. While they’re aflutter over the dearth of women’s aces in the sport, girls like Jill Craybas and Varvara Lepchenko  make it to the second round, teens like Sloane Stephens, Melanie Oudin and Coco Vandeweghe are playing main draw, and surprise acts like Vania King and Bethanie Mattek-Sands have chances to go deep in the tournament..

As the FFT worries over the close to 100% sure fact that there’s no way the prized Coupe des Mousquetaire will end up in the hands of any of their countrywomen, the top 20 – and even top 50 – is chock-full of Frenchies who casually led their country to a Davis Cup final last year.

While Australia mourns over Lleyton Hewitt’s absence and rumours of an impending retirement and places all their guts behind Sam Stosur for this year’s title, Jarka Gajdasova and Anastasia Rodionova, both breakout successes at last year’s event, have made it clean to the third round.

And what of the last Grand Slam nation? The one who pin their hopes on a man sometimes deemed to be British, sometimes Scottish, but always with exceptionally bad hair, an emo attitude and an uncanny habit of taking the best players to the limit only to fold when the stakes get high? Despite the constant whingeing over  how Andy Murray will/won’t/must/can’t/should win a Slam, turns out the Brits have more of a legitimate reason to whinge than any other ‘slumping’ nation over the state of Women’s tennis. Didja know, for example, that no British woman had made it past the first round of Roland Garros since, oh, let’s say, 1992?

Until yesterday, that is, when the lovely teenage Heather Watson and her experienced compatriot Elena Baltacha swept aside their opponents to dance into the second round, creating British history and also reminding the world that some women in tennis are just ‘brilliant’. Bally’s been around for a while and happy to be passing on the torch, but keeping it competitive at the same time as the British women dance around the edges of the top 100 (along with the gorgeous Annie K, or Anne Keothavong).

Pic: Getty.

Bally’s got Vania King next, another surprise win from the first round, which could make Americans very happy. So either way we have jubilating media and casual fans sitting up to take interest. Joy!

“Hev”‘s become a familiar face to tennis fans of late with her excellent featuring  on the WTA Experia Hotshots channel, and the girl looks, sounds, acts, and plays as lovely as any future hope of the nation should be. Pair her up with Laura Robson and it’s not looking too bad, innit?

Pic: Getty.

She plays Kanepi tomorrow. Interesting to see whether Kaia can back up her surprise slam results of late and give the British something to really celebrate about – maybe taking the heat off another young man?

Let’s do this, Ladies.


That’s One.

April 6, 2011

Remember this lady?

Anastasia Rodionova has won her first main draw match of the season in Charleston at the Family Circle Cup, defeating Zuzana Ondraskova of the Czech Republic, 4-6 6-1 6-2, in the first round. Her only previous match win this year came in the first round of qualifying in Doha, against Yung-Jan Chen, before she proceeded to lose in the next round to Peng Shuai (Shuai Peng?). As a voluntary resident of the greatest country in the world, a new Aussie citizen, Fed Cup team member and perhaps a co-dweller of my own lovely Melbourne suburb, Rodi is a lady I like to support, so haters to the left, please.

In other Aussie Charleston news that I will mention really briefly because if I don’t talk about it it didn’t happen, the newly resurgent Jelena Dokic lost her first round match to Anna Tatishvilli this morning, 7-5, 2-6, 6-4. Sam Stosur, hope of the nation, has a first round bye before she runs off to defend her title and another gazillion points on the dirt. Also something I’d prefer not to talk about.

So, how about Rodi, hey! Done, done and onto the next one! Woot woot! Aussie Aussie Aussie! Sigh.

Ok, I’ll shut up now.


“Positive Thinking”

April 5, 2011

The lovely people at Tennis Australia decided to provide us with footage of our latest leading lady, my girl Jelena. (Not Novak’s girl Jelena, and not Petko’s bestie JJ. My girl Jelena. You know who I’m talking about).

Keep reading about positive thinking there, Jelena love. We’re already so proud. *tear*. Like a mama, I am.


“They’re my favorite band.”

April 1, 2011

Lucky I’m a geek, because geeks read tech media, and find out technogeeky bits and pieces, such as this little gem that was released in honour of the fifth birthday of our tennis Godmother and Queen of the Net, Twitter.

Any tennis fan worth 140 characters or more knows of the benefits of using Twitter to keep up with scores, get links to the latest news and blogs, find out what our players are up to, and commentweet alongside our grainy streams during tennis matches. Most importantly? They give us grab a front-row seat to any soap operatic shenanigans between players, coaches and media.

Except for the lady at 0:43. She likes to keep up with some punks called Greenday between spruiking accessories on television.

They’re her favourite band, you know.


Australia Day, 2009

March 24, 2011

On January 26, 2009, my sisters and I gathered in Garden Square to watch a tennis match – as we do.

We found ourselves surrounded by Australians, supporting the Australian playing tennis – as they do.

We watched our Aussie girl battle, battle battle, up against one of the best players in the world – as you do.

And we screamed, cried, shrieked, cheered, drank, cried, screamed, until she eventually succumbed to this player, ending a fairytale quarterfinal run.

The Russian girl apologized in her post-match interview, “I’m sorry I had to beat the Australian!” She smiled. “Hopefully, next time you will be supporting me!”

As the story had it, she had Aussies supporting her plenty more in future. That girl was Dinara Safina, and the Australian was Jelena Dokic. After their epic quarterfinal in the 2009 Australian Open, they both went in different directions that ended somewhere similar.

Dinara went on to win a slew of titles and achieve the number one ranking, before being practically carried off the court in the same venue, one year later. Following the crippling back injury that stalemated most of her career in 2010, she’s slowly trudging along the comeback trail.

Jelena’s celebrity ebbed and flowed. Following the golden run of 2009, she slumped once again, picked up a few times, and found herself yo-yoing between injury slumps and attempted comebacks, challenger wins and qualifying cop-outs. In 2011, the comeback trail was hers to blaze.

A few weeks ago, everything changed for both these girls. Jelena took her first title in nine years, the Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur. An inspiring moment, to be sure, and one which heralded an upcoming season to bring gratification to the most whiplash-weary Dokic fans.

Safina, too, started showing signs of life. After admitting she contemplated retirement as recently as January, the former Number One has shown signs of life, with an excellent showing in Indian Wells last week – including an upset over Australian Top 4 seed, beloved Samantha Jane Stosur.

Fans peeking through a curtain six months ago who would have seen the next two pieces of tennis news would’ve shaken the streets with joy over these headlines:

– Dokic on a hot streak; qualified for Miami Masters

– Safina back on track, playing well again.

Up against each other? Not so much.

I won’t be watching – what’s up with the Miami tennis not being televised until the first weekend? – but livescoring as I gallivant the icy, haily, snowy streets of New York. Mantra: COMEONEJELENACOMEONJELENACOMEONJELENACOMEONJELENA. It’s a wintry mix right now, but to me, it’s Australia Day 2009 all over again.

 


Can’t Wait for Casey

March 18, 2011

According to the fabulous Linda Pierce of The Age, there’s a certain special someone on her way back to a tennis court near you.

Casey Dellacqua, best-known for her Target-clad hometown run in the 2008 Australian Open, is finally coming off injury #2, not exactly fun when it’s the second time in nineteen months your body’s decided to pack up on you. Instead of rushing into the Aussie Open, where we all pretty much love her after the beauty of her 2008 run, Casey kept up with her training and rehab, which hopefully means she’ll stick around a little longer this time. Very smart, because while a hometown crowd at the Australian Open is fun, isn’t another five years or so of your career, well, funner?

Casey’s been on the board for the last month or so, playing the Australian challenger circuits at Burnie, Sydney and Mildura, and there are still a couple more to go before she heads to play with the big boys and girls. This isn’t the first time I’m thanking heaven for protected rankings, but dear G-d this is a good time to do so. The article mentions Wimbledon, and not sure if that means she’ll be heading over for Clay, or starting at Wimby and going on for the rest of the US swing. Either way, it’ll be so damn good to have another girl in our stable.

Despite the fact we’ve missed having our girl on court, Casey was kinda, well, happy to just be Case:

”For the last couple of years I’ve been just Casey Dellacqua, and not really Casey the tennis player. I have to get used to now being a tennis player again, because I think I got into the reality of life and what normal life is … but the time’s going by, so I want to get back into it. Tennis is what I want to do, and I have to get used to just being back on the road, being out of my comfort zone a little bit, but I’m sure it won’t take long.”

Jelena’s back. Casey’s on her way. Can I get a woot woot, Aussie girlie tennis fans?


Allow me to wax lyrical: Jelena

March 11, 2011

Last week after I’d written a long-winded post on my Jelena Dokic love and joy, I found myself at the wrath of WordPress and took it as a sign. No waxing lyrical meant I would post on it tomorrow, when, sure enough, she won the quarters and made the semis. Three days later, all with short posts, she was past the semis, into the final and then – what do you know, I was suddenly granted permission to wax as lyrical as I saw fit.

Turns out it’s not so easy to write purple prose praising a tennis player you’ve admired since your teens when you’re blubbering your guts out. Sometimes it takes a few days to simmer and stew. Jinxage aside, let’s talk about my girl.

She did it, ladies and gents. SHE DID IT.


My girl, Jelena Dokic. First favourite female tennis player. The lady I have supported, followed, cried for, been overjoyed for, and now, done both simultaneously: Jelena. She’s had a nation behind her, and managed to slump, scale heights, and slump again, all in front of our red-raw-applauding hands and wide-open-eyes.

In 2009, L & M were lucky to be present when she made her amazing run to the quarters, beating Kleybs in front of a packed home audience. I was at a work function, but the texts told me everything I needed to know. As a nation, we were behind our girl. She seemed to have finally made it out from behind the plait-wearing-seventeen-year-old, yanked from nation to nation, and the scary man she called father who also lent his name to an Australian comedy show segment.

During her quarterfinal against Dinara, we sat in Garden Square and participated in what is to this day one of my favourite experiences watching tennis at a grand slam. Jelena’s QF was all about every single person in Garden Square, from the Heineken bartenders to the kids playing near the busts of Tennis Australia Walk of Fame peoples – everyone was cheering their guts out. (Granted, we also managed to get ourselves on TV doing so, which was kinda nice.)

Look, she lost the match that night, and that was kinda the end of that brilliant resurgence we saw for a moment. I remember M and I in deep discussion over her ‘rescue’ from Damir into the hands of brother duo Tin and Borna. We talked about how strong she had to be, how amazing to get back and train after all the depression, the injuries, the difficulty, the serious, lets-call-a-spade-a-spade TRIUMPH OVER ADVERSITY, bizness. She did all that.

She then had to cope with flack as shortly after, in an interview with Sport and Style, she insinuated Damir physically abused her. Suddenly, the scary Serb was back all over Australian newspapers, and this time, we weren’t laughing the way we used to. Back then, it was kinda funny, harmless, he was just a douche and not much we could do about it. Now it was personal.

Threats of bombing the Aussie embassy will get you in serious shit, and that’s what happened to Damir Dokic. He’s out of the picture for now, but lawd knows what kind of turmoil Jelena goes through day to day, having all this seriousness, this intensity, this absolute CRAP THAT LIFE HAS THROWN HER behind her.

But I’m not here to wax lyrical over the shit she’s gone through. (Though I did do just that on Monday morning, when I returned to work buoyed up and inspired, and proceeded to tell all my workmates the above story, in detail.)

Because, you guys, SHE DID IT.

First time in nine years, and Jelena Dokic – that’s her there, kissing a trophy. Winning a title. Raising her arms in triumph. Doing all those things even I, as a fan, never thought I’d see her doing again.

If I recall correctly, there’s a post I did in my first few weeks of blogging, during the AO 2010. M, L and I were witness to her frankly shocking performance against Kleybs on Rod Laver Arena, the first night of the tournament. I remember wondering we can remind this girl, with all the love in the stadium behind her, that she can do it – she can DO IT – while she instead shakes and quakes and forgets how to actually hit that ball.

Now she’s back, and the numbers are oh-so-pretty. First semifinal in forever, first title in forever, first final in forever. Stumbling home at 5am on Saturday night, waking up bleary eyed at 8am to find myself dozing on and off during the match, I was bolt upright and wide awake during the last two games and found myself going – damn, she’s hitting that ball well. That only lasted as long as it took for my eyes to cloud over because darling tennis-loving readers, who I hope to hell only read this because you get me when I tell you – I was a blubbery mess, bawling my eyes out. The few tears that snuck out at match point became serious blubbering, and I was skyping L and showing her my tears and dancing with joy because OUR GIRL DID IT.

She’s Jelena Dokic, guys. She’s my countrywoman, she’s my lady tennis player love, and most importantly: She is my inspiration.

Pics: AP Photo

Can we ever be friends?

March 10, 2011

Sometimes your best friend breaks your heart.

Once.

Then twice.

But apparently, everything can be made nice again, clay-streaked tears aside, by teaming up in the California desert for a nice spot of doubles on a sunny March afternoon.

Francesca Schiavone and Samantha Stosur, on your doubles court, tomorrow. And oh, what’s that? Why yes, they’re playing the Italian dream team, Frannie’s besties, Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci. Same ladies who may’ve dashed some Fed Cup hopes just a couple months ago. Oh, this feels bloodystreakyteary already.

Bring it, Fran. You owe me.


That’s Girls, Plural

March 5, 2011

So my anti-jinx last night works, it seems. Instead of you guys getting to read my lovely, lyrical post on the joys of Jelena Dokic and the symbolic meaning of Malaysia, you got a nice fat grainy pic and the basic facts. I was devo’ed at my lack of apparent excitement for what is one of my favourite girls making serious headway in a tournament, but I was well rewarded.

In retribution, tennis decided to give me an antijinxical present and send Jelena not just to the quarters – oh no, that was yesterday – but move her to the SEMIFINALS TOO. She beat Bojangles, and plays Krajicek next. Not that rankings mean anything, but Jelena will be the favourite, having upset Frannie – yes, Schiavone – to get past the first round. Not a bad showing, ladylove.

Pic: Getty

Incidentally, I watched Krajicek play Sabine Lisicki in qualies at the AO, so here you go, that’s her:

Along with another lovely lady who was lurking on the other side of the draw, who had so far escaped my pen – not for being awesome, but for other, antijinxical purposes.

Purposes aside, it’s official, darling ladies and gents, lovers of all things Australian and tennis-y (that’s me and my sisters. Hey honeypies).

JELENA DOKIC and JARKA GROTH, both through to the semifinals in Malaysia. This is happening, peoples. It is such a happening situation that even the Herald Sun have woken from their tennis-free-slumber-outside-of-January and sought to inform the public of the excitement.

For those who need a catch-up, Jelena Dokic hasn’t been in a semifinal in seven years. Back then, I was in a travel-induced tennisy slumber so can’t comment on the last glimpse. But today’s glimpse? Is oh-so-lovely.

As for Jarka, she’s new to our shores but as she classily reminded us, she is most certainly not a tourist. Which is kinda handy, because Malaysia tourism were once hefty sponsors of certain wonderfully dark-hued football team. Not sure what that means, actually.

I’m not gonna say it, I’m not gonna say it, I’m not gonna say it….

Fine, I will. All-Aussie final, anyone? (Antijinxical spell, insert here).


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