Friday, January 22, 2010

Australian Open Day 5: Whoopee! Whoopah!

Curtain Call

Player: Angelique Kerber
Nation: Germany
Age: 22
Current Ranking: #118
Notable Conquest: Aravane Rezai (26th seed, France)
Today's Result: loss to Svetlana Kuznetsova (3rd, Russia) in 3 sets, 6-4 in the third

Kerber is yet another qualifier who took out a seed. She took the first set off of Kuznetsova as well but couldn't close the deal. The third round is a big improvement on last year's first round result so she probably won't have to go through qualifying in Paris.

I can already see that Yanina Wickmayer (Belgium) is going to be a difficult friendship for me. I suppose life wouldn't be complete without one or two. I have one powerful pet peeve in tennis: players who can't stop themselves from arguing line calls. If Hawkeye technology has proven anything, it's that the calls which players themselves get wrong most often are baseline calls. In fact, it's the line right under their feet that is hardest for them to judge. And yet, that is the line you most often find them arguing to the point of self-distraction. Wickmayer was particularly obnoxious about line calls in her match with Sara Errani (Italy). Really, you're going to imply to the chair umpire that a line judge is favoring your opponent? Seriously?

If all players were like this, I don't think I ever could have become a tennis fan. Indeed, the main reason I preferred Lendl back in the day was that he didn't argue line calls - or if he occasionally did, it wasn't part of his professional makeup the way it was for McEnroe and Connors. I'm not sure I ever saw Sampras argue a call. Paradorn Srichaphan would sooner concede a point he'd rightfully won. Federer and Nadal so rarely say anything that when they do, one suspects they might actually have a point. I don't think basic decency is a lot to ask and I would hope that even when players do have legitimate gripes, they could express themselves without belittling everyone else on the court.

This is the real reason why I've never been able to get fully behind James Blake (USA) as a player. I've watched him plenty and yet I've never seen a match in which he didn't argue line calls - and I do mean never. And, he tends to let the frustration derail his game, just as Wickmayer did today. I believe those who say Blake is a genuinely nice person and Wickmayer might be, too, for all I know. But the proof is in the pudding, folks.

On a lighter note, Wickmayer's "Whoopee!" as she crushes the ball is downright hilarious. The fact that Errani was returning many of her shots with a "Whoopah!" made for high-class comedy.

All Part of My Fantasy

I would have thought that Jelena Jankovic (8th, Serbia) would have been a pretty safe bet for my suicide pool pick. She did have a tough opponent in Bondarenko (31st, Ukraine) but in truth, Jankovic played terribly. So, I'm out.

What have I learned? Probably best not to bet against a former finalist, as I did with Querrey over Schuettler, or against a seed when there are other options, as I did with Jankovic over Bondarenko. The suicide pool concept is a great one, though - I'll definitely try again.

For now, time to check out the Loser's Lounge:

My brackets took a couple of hard hits, too. I had Clisters (15th, Belgium) in the women's final and Wawrinka (19th, Switzerland) in the men's semifinal. I am currently in the top 48% for the women's draw. My entire bottom half of the draw is now completely shot. The top half, however, are all still alive - odd!

My current situation in the men's draw is much worse: top 84%. My finalists, though, are both still alive. Of course, I'm not the only one who picked a Federer-Nadal final so that would only help me so much.

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