Fair Point, Dave.

April 14, 2011

It’s Media Day for Fed Cup! Yay!

Aside from providing lots of photos of my favorite non-Eastern-European-tennis-playing-ladies in adorably unflattering gold tracksuits (why can’t we take the green side of green-and-gold more seriously, for reals), Tennis Australia works really hard to put together videos for us of press conferences and whatnot. You’ll also have a chance to play “pick-the-accent” of our players and coach to determine international influences. Hint: There are many.

According to Dave Taylor, Australian Team Fed Cup Coach (and coach of another lady you might know, Ms Samantha Stosur), we’re not to worry about Sam skipping out on a return to Oz to play for her country, opting to strap on a helmet for the barrage of ranking points that are about to fly on her head if she doesn’t gear up pretty quick (I’m viewing it as when you’re trying to pull out one board game from underneath a stack on the shelf at the top of the cupboard, and they’re all about to come flying over your head… anyone? OK…) by staying in Europe to get ready for clay season.

And rightfully so. We must chillax. Stubbsy has retired, Jelena Dokic is just plain tired, and Sammy is doing what any top-10 player would do in her position: Avoiding an extremely exhausting and difficult ordeal that tends to take more than a day or two to recover from, in order to maintain her level – in fact, at this stage, it’s just about living up to it. No blameskies here. To quote DT, Sam’s played ties for the last nine years, except for when she had Lyme Disease. That’s a helluvalotta patriotism all stacked up nicely for London 2012.

(Read more about it at The Age)

Though this brings in a question which the good journalistic folks at The Australian have dared to breach: Who decided to have the tie this week, anyway, and what’s up with that whole home-and-away thing?

Who woulda thunk you’d ever hear me complain that there is world-class tennis being played in a small local court not far from my home (okay, measure in kms and Kooyong and Melbourne Park are probably closer, but Glen Iris just feels all homey and local neighbourhoodish), which is why I’m not bashing Home and Away, at least not right now. But the timing is difficult, and as someone who’s braved the Australia-to-Europe-via-Asia flight once or seven times, I can whinge gracefully and tell you that it bloody sucks. I know tennis players travel all the time and are expected to be superhuman wonderpeople with tiger blood that’s immune to any type of.. oh wait, what was that, Serena? Anyway. Heading over to the other side of the world at the start of clay season is tough on anyone, and for Sam, it’s a completely respectable decision to opt out.

Much appreciation to Jarka and Rodi for making the trek over, despite both having bits of serious defense to do on clay next month. And we know Sophie Ferguson’s a gun on clay, so it’s great to have her on board the team.

And isn’t it lovely having Sally Peers join us! This girl is adorable. I can’t wait for you to get to know her. Girly group hug, everyone!

Photo: Tennis Australia


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.


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.

 


We’re Gawing to Glen Oiiiris

March 12, 2011

I could say that out loud, but for some reason, spelling the Aussie pronunciation is just never gonna happen for me.

But, yeah, Fed Cup World Group play-off, happening, in Glen Iris! Woooot.

Australia will be playing Ukraine – as we did last year, come to think of it. Then it was a quick and simple 5-0 situation, and we basically had Sam and Rodi take care of bizness entirely. The team hasn’t been named yet, but Jelena should be back on, Jarka is obviously killing it these days…. and I won’t mention a certain *sniff* awesome doubles player who won’t be there *sniff sniff sniff* but seriously, Anastasia Rodionova, doubles specialist, right?

And it’s in GLEN BLOODY IRIS. WOOOOOOT.

I say that, of course, while I will be sadly shouting at my TV from my bed in Brooklyn, freaking out my neighbours with choice words thrown at the direction of the screen, while for the first time that I can recall, tennis will be played REALLY CLOSE TO MY OLD STOMPING GROUND.

Granted, Melbourne Park is an 18-minute-give-or-take zip from home, but that doesn’t count the insanity of parking and hiking from the parking spot. But no, Glen Iris Tennis Club is totes, totes doable. Like, basically backyard (not really, but I will pretend). Which means….

WAHHH. I WON’T BE THERE.

But – Awesomely enough – LP will most likely attend, and get this-

(whispers)

WE’RE PROBABLY GOING TO WIN.

DT thinks so, anyway.


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

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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