Tag Archives: tennis

The strong new faces in tennis – teens now challenge the 20s

6 Apr

Every few years in tennis there is a significant assault on the “established” rankings when a new crop of mid-teens start punching above their weight and toppling the older champions. And by “old” we mean early-to-mid-20s. It looks like 2009 is going to be one of those years when the younger players establish a new ruling elite.

Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka

Just when we thought Dinara Safina was going to finally achieve all the promise expected of her, along come players like Victoria Azarenka (photo) to take the headlines – and the titles.

As a very handy doubles player, Azarenka has an impressive record in the grand slam competitions. She was runner-up at the Australian Open in 2007 (mixed doubles) and 2008 (women’s doubles). In 2007 at age 17 Victoria won the US Open and in 2008 the French Open, both in mixed doubles.

Azarenka has also impressed on the WTA Tour in women’s doubles, with wins in Memphis and Indian Wells this year. Those wins follow a strong list of runner-up matches in 2007 and 2008. Singles wins have included success over other promising teenagers, especially the lively Caroline Wozniacki.

Victoria’s progress through the past 3 years has been very steady, each year moving further through the major tournaments to reach quarter-finals in 2007, semi-finals in 2008, and wins in 2009. Rather than bursting on the scene in a blaze of glory and then fading away, it looks like the new girls on court have talent and staying power.


Heavy Metal Tennis – soundtrack to the coming season of fashion and music

27 Jan

There are already two big-hitting Russians in the semi-finals at the Australian Open. Depending on the next few hours, there could be four!!

Vera Zvonareva

Vera Zvonareva

Yes, the world of commerce is often dominated by Russian oligarchs and their multi-national interests, the catwalks are often graced by Russian and east-European models, and the modern wealthy art buyers are often Russians. Further, some of the best music clubs, boutiques and restaurants in the world are in Moscow.

Svetlana Kuznetsova

Svetlana Kuznetsova

Meanwhile, back at the tennis, Vera Zvonareva (photo 1, left) defeated Marion Bartoli of France in one quarter-final (in an easy 6-3, 6-0), and Dinara Safina overpowered comeback kid Jelena Dokic of Australia in a 3-set slugfest (6-4, 4-6, 6-4) to set up her semi-final with Zvonareva. So that’s Russia v Russia.

We then have No. 4 seed Elena Dementieva (Russia) looking likely to win over unexpected opponent Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain. So perhaps the only non-Russian hope is if Serena Williams (USA) can win against Svetlana Kuznetsova (photo 2, right). With results of 6-2, 6-2 and 7-6, 6-4 coming into the match, Kuznetsova’s form is similar to the Williams wins of 6-3, 7-5 and 6-1, 6-4. Curiously, both players won their fourth round matches when their opponents retired.

Dinara Safina muscle tone

Dinara Safina muscle tone

One important feature of the modern Russian game is the addition of finesse and style to their traditional power and grit. It might not always be pretty, but it is attractive in its own Amazonian way as these modern players combine purity of skill with rugged counter-punches.

Elena Dementieva catwalk queen

Elena Dementieva catwalk queen

Athleticism is also a key as we have seen this last fortnight, with wonderful shoulders and lean but powerful muscle (Safina, Dementieva, Sharapova) alongside the stocky power-hitters (Kuznetsova, Kleybanova).

Talking of style and tone, which we sort of were, just look at the muscle tone of Safina (photo 3, left). Yet these modern Amazons are also perfectly happy on the dance floor or even the catwalk, as you can see with Dementieve (photo 4, right) from a fashion shoot.

The soundtrack of the future is fit. All praise.

Dinara Safina – quotable quotes

5 Sep
Dinara Safina quotes

Dinara Safina quotes

the US Open has a great collection of quotes from Dinara, altho they may not realize it :: the questions after matches are often a bit superficial, so it’s great when Dinara gives an intelligent and deep answer, completely throwing the interviewers off stride

and it’s so great to see how Safina sees life as a journey, training as a task, and winning as a step-by-step process :: right at the start of the US Open they were already asking about whether she could be number 1 :: and Dinara sensibly explained, probably for the hundredth time, that she only ever thinks about the next match – and usually does not even look at the draw


QUESTION: Through all the success this summer, what has been your happiest day? Has it been a match or has it been going shopping?

DINARA SAFINA: Happiest day? Every day is a happy day. Why it has to be [one day]? Doesn’t matter. When you wake up it’s already happy!

superb :: you can read more stirring examples at http://www.usopen.org/en_US/players/wta190950.html

Safina at Olympics :: update

14 Aug

while on the subject of the Olympics, Dinara has been making good strides to reach the semi-finals.

world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia was hoping for revenge after No. 6 seed Safina defeated her in the semifinals of a WTA Tour event in Los Angeles last month, en-route to winning the title :: despite a tricky second set, Safina prevailed 6-2 5-7 6-3 and so there are three Russians in the semis – No. 5 seed Dementieva faces No. 9 seed Zvonareva, and Safina faces Li Na (who may have a huge home-crowd advantage)

and speaking of amazons, both No. 4 seed Serena Williams and No. 7 seed Venus Williams were despatched in the quarters, Serena by Dementieva (3-6 6-4 6-3) and Venus by Li Na (7-5 7-5)

Dinara Safina

5 Aug

you may have noticed i have a bit of an amazon fetish :: well, maybe not fetish, but a definite attraction to the positive images presented by successful women, especially in music and, as it happens, tennis and athletics :: if they happen to be attractive too, all the better, although attractive is a strange word :: anyone who sees Venus Williams live on court sees a prowess and athleticism that is so pure it is attractive, it draws you in, you want to know more about the person

amazon Dinara Safina

amazon Dinara Safina

my current amazon inspiration is Dinara Safina, who has just won the 2008 Olympus US Open Series women’s title after winning her second consecutive Series tournament at the Rogers Cup

Safina defeated Dominika Cibulkova in the Montréal final, 6-2 6-1, to extend her career-best winning streak to 10 matches. The 2008 Roland Garros runner-up will now compete for the largest payout in tennis history at the 2008 US Open – $2.5 million!

Yes girls (and boys), Dinara is in the running to gather $1.5 million if she wins the US Open, plus a $1 million bonus for winning both the Olympus Series and the US Open

which is not just about money but a necessary recognition of excellence and commitment in sport, and personal drive and, yes, various degrees of sacrifice

other amazon inspirations include Jennifer Capriati, Kim Clijsters, Steffi Graf, Kelly Holmes, Yelena Isinbayeve, Ana Ivanovic, Carolina Kluft, Janica Kostelic, Denise Lewis, Martina Navratilova, Paula Radcliffe, Maria Sharapova, Kelly Sotherton – to name just a few :: so i will be glued to lots of the Olympics broadcasts