10 Thoughts from Day 1 of the WTA Championships

The first day of the WTA Championships featured the White Group’s Victoria Azarenka beating Sara Errani in straights, and wins for the Red Group’s Serena Williams over Angelique Kerber and Petra Kvitova over Agnieszka Radwanska. Some thoughts from today’s action (including ATP events in Basel and Valencia):

1. If I were to give a “most improved” award to any tennis commentator, it would have to be Kevin Skinner. I remember thinking he was … how shall I put this … a little grating last year during the WTA Championships. To be fair, he did have the very difficult task of commentating the matches solo. Even so, thinking back to some of his commentary from last year, the contrast is clear. He’s learned to control the impulse to talk nonstop — I remember him being unable to allow the match to unfold without throwing in a promo for the WTA website or citing some inane statistic. While his style is similar now, he’s toned it down. And he’s also hilarious.

“So many moonballs, the average net clearance would have Buzz Aldrin standing on the shoulders of Neil Armstrong standing on the shoulders of Shaquille O’Neal!”

2. This piece about the Oilers’ (NHL) struggles is great. I might call this woman up and ask her which of Roger Federer’s chakras are blocked. Or write a piece suggesting which yoga poses are the best for when you’re dating Radek Stepanek.

To assist the Oilers, I looked for at alternative options and found someone who has experience with chakras, healing and moving energy.

Diane Vander Haak is a practitioner for healing touch. She’s worked with humans, animals, businesses and even arenas.

“The Oilers could use what is called a space clearing,” said Vander Haak. “I presume they have stagnant energy in that room.”

How do you get rid of stagnant energy in a dressing room?

“I would use tuning forks to clear the energy,” Vander Haak said. “There is also an oil I would use called Abundance. It is for competitive people and it magnifies the clear intention to help manifest the heart’s desire to perform.”

3. It must be pretty demoralizing to serve for a set three times (at 5-2, 5-4, and 6-5), get broken each time, and then lose that set in a tiebreak. Such was the case for Sara Errani today against Victoria Azarenka. Even more demoralizing: that was the closest set she’s played against Azarenka since 2008.

4. I’m sick of people who get paid to write about women’s tennis complaining about women’s tennis.



5. Speaking of crimes against the WTA, Pete Bodo thinks that Angelique Kerber tanked the last couple of games in her match against Serena Williams.

I don’t know what match he was watching, but in the match I watched, it looked like a far superior player destroyed her opponent. Serena Williams will do that to people. Also, has he ever seen Kerber play? Because that’s her normal demeanor.

6. Chrissie is every bit as amazing on Twitter as one would expect:

7. I don’t know how Stan Wawrinka managed to lose in straight sets to Edouard Roger-Vasselin while pursuing his first-ever qualification to the World Tour Finals, but we all know Stan likes doing Rog a solid.

8. Bernard Tomic, who turned 21 yesterday, retired down 4-1 in a third set against Mikhail Youzhny in Valencia. He also did this:

9. As Jeff Sackmann pointed out, a couple of tennis players born in September of 1999 (Amina Anshba of Russia and Inci Ogut of Turkey) played in recent women’s ITFs. It’s only a matter of time before we’re watching tennis players born in the 2000s.

10. The world is better with a relevant Jelena Jankovic.


Amy can be spotted on a tennis court in the Philadelphia area, shanking backhand volleys.

21 Responses

  1. Master Ace
    Master Ace October 22, 2013 at 11:32 pm |

    Agree with you on number 5. Kerber got outclassed by Williams

  2. Gerald
    Gerald October 23, 2013 at 12:05 am |

    Harman and Bodo don’t even try to hide their disdain for women’s tennis. 🙁

  3. Jewell
    Jewell October 23, 2013 at 1:41 am |

    I’d call that 5 thoughts from the first day of the YEC, and five other thoughts about tennis elsewhere. 🙂

    Pete will criticise anyone if he feels the need, without fear or favour. I sometimes find his opinions tinged with sexism, but I do feel he has a genuine respect for women’s tennis in a way that the Brit journalist dinosaurs just don’t.

  4. Faye
    Faye October 23, 2013 at 1:50 am |

    Thank you for calling out Harman and Bodo.

  5. Patrick of La Verne
    Patrick of La Verne October 23, 2013 at 6:28 am |

    Amen to the criticism of Bodo’s comments. I went back and carefully re-watched each point of the last two games of Williams-Kerber (the two games which Mr. Bodo accuses Kerber of dumping) and the allegation is both ridiculous and outrageous.

    In the penultimate game, Serena was serving and was her usual overpowering self depite Kerber’s best efforts. There was one long close-up of Kerber’s face as she’s awaiting Serena’s serve, and her intensity, tinged with a hint of desperation, is very evident. Angelique did miss one shot very badly in the final game, but it was clearly because she was line-hunting because everything else she hit was coming back with interest.

    She also made no play on a well-hit Serena return on match point, but there was no play to be made. Surely AK was in a better position to judge that than Mr Bodo. Does anyone remember when Serena served four aces in a row against Radwanska at Wimbledon? Radwanska, perhaps because she was leaning the wrong way, hardly moved on any of the four shots, much less took a swing at them. And in returning serve, she’s only defending half of the court. Serena’s match point return was to the open side of the court.

    Those last two games did go by very quickly, as can happen when Serena is serving well and returning well. Someone watching inattentively might possibly conclude that Kerber had thrown in the towel, but I challenge any fair-minded person to watch the last two games (the match is on ESPN 3) and conclude that Kerber wasn’t trying.

    The only other explanation I can come up with for Mr Bodo’s potshot is that he had placed a good-sized bet on Kerber’s winning at least five games, and thought that he had a lock when Kerber won three games in a closely contested first set, and played a very competitive first game in the second set before ultimately losing it. But in the second set Serena was all but unplayable, and better players than Kerber have been overwhelmed quickly and easily when she is in one of those zones.

    Criticizing a player’s poor indifferent play is one thing. Individuals in the public eye do not have the same protections against slander that the average citizen has. If they did, ESPN and Access Hollywood could not exist. :-)) Everytone is entitled to his or her opinion. But criticizing someone’s character baselessly is not only reprehensible it’s defamatory. That’s why most blog sites – including Mr Bodo’s – have rules against careless accusations of steroid use.

    Ms Kerber deserves an apology.

    1. Kisha
      Kisha October 23, 2013 at 9:22 pm |

      Spot on Patrick!

  6. Brian
    Brian October 23, 2013 at 8:51 am |

    I think Neil is a bit grumpy in general at the moment given that my man Andy is out with the back issue. That being said, I and many others I know can’t take the incessant shrieking in the women’s game and avoid it like the plague. If Sony Ericsson are baling out and they still can’t get a new sponsor then that should tell the WTA something. What’s the point televising a product that you can only watch on mute? When Serena goes the US audience, which has already disappeared for the men’s game, will fall off a cliff. If the average sportsfan is flicking the channels and stumbles on Azarenka or Sharapova how long will they hang around listening to that racket?

    1. Jewell
      Jewell October 23, 2013 at 12:05 pm |

      So why not watch Serena, Li Na, Radwanska, Kvitova, Jankovic, Wozniacki, Halep…to name just the first few I can think of who don’t grunt.

      I don’t understand why grunting in the women’s game bothers people when grunting in the men’s game does not. Nadal and Djokovic can make noise when they like, Ferrer grunts, Tipsarevic and even Murray can switch theirs on and off, Granollers grunts loudly and excessively. And yet I rarely hear any complaints about it.

      Amy’s right too: the attitude that Harman displayed with his “interminable rallies” comments – I mean, Murray’s his favourite, he ought to be used to them by now – says everything we need to know about his attitude to women’s tennis. I find it really strange that all the Brit journalists of a certain age appear to display the same set of attitudes.

      Bet if it was all power and winners he’d be complaining that everyone in the WTA plays the same ball-bashing style. *eyeroll*

  7. Max
    Max October 23, 2013 at 2:07 pm |

    Old dinosaurs actually hurt the WTA.
    If you keep on reading newspapers treating women tennis with utter disdain, it won’t convince you to buy a ticket.

    Has anyone called them out of the double standard in comebacks?
    Serena’s embarassed the WTA but Nadal’s is the best thing ever. Pleeeeeeease.

  8. Sumit
    Sumit October 23, 2013 at 7:49 pm |

    Honestly Amy, are you really ok with grunting? It is annoying and a solidly off-putting…be it from men (Ferrer, Djoko, Nadal, Granollers, Berlocq etc etc) or women (Vika, Maria, DeBrito etc etc). It is a power game these days and an exhalation/grunt when hitting a strong baseline shot is understandable. But a wail that goes on till the ball touches the racket of your opponent or a screech while hitting a mid-court volley is unacceptable.

    I haven’t read much of Neil’s writing and his second tweet above to Andy seems over-the-top. I do read Bodo extensively through Tennis.com though. Just because they earn their wages through Tennis writing does not mean they are ethically bound to ignore anything they see wrong in the game. Bodo has said nothing but good things about Serena this whole year and other WTA players have gotten their fair share of praise as well. And he has been known to slam ATP players (for seemingly no reason at that) as well (see “Rafatigue”).

    Please refrain from criticizing Bodo on this. I don’t think he is being deliberately unfair to WTA.

  9. Gerald
    Gerald October 23, 2013 at 11:12 pm |

    I wonder how many people that complain about Vika or Maria’s grunting has ever seen them play live?
    To be honest, it’s not that loud. Certainly not so loud that it would prevent you from enjoying the match. And not louder than typical grunting from male players.

    Sometimes I feel like people read about women players grunting and just repeat what they’ve heard.

  10. Sabey
    Sabey October 24, 2013 at 12:16 pm |

    I’m sick of people who get paid to write about women’s tennis complaining about women’s tennis – thanks for bringing this up Amy. The sexism in women’s tennis commentary is a detriment to the game. Please keep up the good work of bringing it to our attention.

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