Friday, July 6, 2012

Wimbledon Day 11: Schiavone

Curtain Call

Player: Francesca Schiavone
Age: 32
Nation: Italy
Current Doubles Ranking: 87
Doubles Partner: Flavia Pennetta (Italy)
Notable Conquests: Kveta Peschke (Czech Republic)/Katarina Srebotnik (Slovenia) (3rd seed) and Nuria Llagostera Vives/Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (Spain, 9th)
Today's Result: loss to Andrea Hlavackova/Lucie Hradecka (Czech Republic, 6th) in three sets

Photo via LISTAnadalucia

Schiavone is one of my favorites.  Her singles title at the 2010 French Open is one of the best stories in recent tennis history.  She's also an accomplished doubles player, having made it to at least the quarters of all four Majors.  She plays with unbridled fire and enthusiasm - the female, Italian version of Rafa.  She and Pennetta will represent Italy in the doubles draw at the Olympics and their Wimbledon performance should put them among the favorites to win a medal.  Schiavone has also qualified in singles.

So, is there anyone out there who still doubts Roger Federer's claim as the greatest tennis player ever?  Will either Nadal or Djokovic still be this good at 30?  Both men have essentially said that they doubt it.  Nadal is actually quite vocal on the subject.  The main knock against Fed in this discussion has been Nadal's superiority head-to-head.  But let's look at the big picture for a minute.  I invite you to peruse Wikipedia's list of career achievements by Roger Federer.  It's just crazy.  In the final analysis, Fed dominated his tennis era as no other man ever has.  It's not even close.  We're all the luckier - Roger, included - that Rafa was around to keep him honest.  The legacies of both men have only benefited from the rivalry.

Don't get me wrong.  I love Rafa.  The spirit he has brought to tennis, indeed to the sporting world at large, is every bit as wonderful as Fed's contributions.  But as great as he is, Nadal's never been able to match Federer's consistency.  Consider this: Nadal lost in the second round of Wimbledon 2012, his worst showing at a Major in seven years.  On the other hand, the last time Federer failed to reach the third round of a Major, Rafa was 17 years old and had not yet even played his first match at a Major.  Nadal's entire unbelievable career has been played in that span. 

Golden Squid Report

Jurgen Melzer - Melzer has evolved into a Wimbledon doubles power house.  In 2010, he and partner Philipp Petzschner (Germany) won the men's doubles title.  In 2011, he and Iveta Benesova (Czech Republic) won the mixed doubles crown.  He leaves this year without any hardware but he and Petzschner did make it to the semis.  He had a respectable run in singles, too, taking out the 25th seeded Stanislas Wawrinka (Switzerland) in the first round.  He himself was ousted in the second by Lukas Lacko (Slovakia) in five sets.  Mixed doubles didn't work out so well.  He and Benesova failed in their title defense, losing to Dominic Inglot/Laura Robson (UK) in their first match.

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