Na Li

Wimbledon Ladies Quarterfinals Preview: Will History Be Made?

(July 1, 2013) What a week at Wimbledon. If your women’s draw predictions have somehow upheld to the quarterfinal stage, sincere congratulations. If your draw includes only two of the eight correct names, like mine, don’t worry. You’re in the majority. The shake-up at this year’s Wimbledon Championships has been an unprecedented event, and the draw has opened up drastically to allow a first-time winner to take the title.

Current oddmakers have Sabine Lisicki as the top contender for the title, followed by 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and 2011 French Open champion Li Na. Last year’s Wimbledon finalist Agnieszka Radwanska and 2013 Australian Open semifinalist Sloane Stephens round out the top 5.

Let’s take a further look at the four quarterfinal matchups and how the ladies stack up against each other.

Sabine Lisicki vs Kaia Kanepi Wimbledon[23] Sabine Lisicki vs Kaia Kanepi

  • First career meeting
  • Plays winner of Radwanska-Li
  • Best previous Wimbledon result - Lisicki: 2011 SF (as a wildcard); Kanepi: 2010 QF (as a qualifier)

With Lisicki’s surprise defeat of Serena Williams in the fourth round, the German is now 17-4 at Wimbledon (compared to 16-15 at the other Slams). She also now has the distinct honor of having beaten the reigning French Open champ at the last four Wimbledon Championships she has played, including Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2009, Li Na in 2011, Maria Sharapova in 2012, and Williams this year. She did not play in 2010.

Lisicki has been looking sharp all week on her favorite surface, overpowering with her serve and improving her footwork and movement with each match. She only lost seven total games in the first two matches against Francesca Schiavone and Elena Vesnina. Sam Stosur pushed her in the third round, but she rallied back from a 6-4 first set deficit to take the next 12-of-15 games.

Kanepi, though the underdog, is in her fifth Slam quarterfinal over the last five years. She was mere points away from being defeated by Angelique Kerber in the second round here at Wimbledon, but came back to win 6-3 in the third. While two of Kanepi’s matches were against wildcards ranked outside of the top 100, Lisicki has had to come through two singles Slam champions (Schiavone and Stosur) and one doubles Slam champion (Vesnina).

Result: Lisicki in straight sets

Agnieszka Radwanska vs Na Li Wimbledon[4] Agnieszka Radwanska vs [6] Na Li

  • Li leads 6-4, but Radwanska leads 2-1 on grass
  • Plays winner of Lisicki-Kanepi
  • Best previous Wimbledon result – Radwanska: 2012 F; Li: 2006, 2010 QF

Despite many of the women’s top seeds falling early, this quarter is the only one with its top seeds still intact, and last year’s finalist, Radwanska, comes in as a slight favorite. The Pole was not tested until her last two rounds against Madison Keys and grass-court specialist Tsvetana Pironkova, which both went the full three sets. Her execution and court coverage have stayed consistent, and her crafty game has taken full advantage of the low bounce.

Though Li was pitted by some as crashing out early, she has kept her composure while many seeds fell and is the oldest player left in the draw. Her rollercoaster match against newly-resurgent Simona Halep in the second round gave way to another topsy-turvy match against No. 32 seed Klara Zakopalova, before she finally easily closed out Roberta Vinci in 55 minutes. She hasn’t had any remarkable play thus far and has flown under the radar, but it could be a tight match.

Results: Radwanska in three sets

Marion Bartoli vs Sloane Stephens Wimbledon[15] Marion Bartoli vs [17] Sloane Stephens

  • Bartoli leads 1-0, on hard
  • Plays winner of Kvitova-Flipkens
  • Best previous Wimbledon result – Bartoli: 2007 F; Stephens: 2012 Third Round

Other than Kirsten Flipkens, Bartoli is the only other player left in the draw that has yet to lose a set this Wimbledon, the Slam where she saw her best results by reaching the final in 2007 losing to Venus Williams. Her quirky game has been relegated to the smaller outside courts this week, but she is sure to give the American trouble with her variety especially in the spotlight. The French woman is making her 47th Slam appearance which dates back to 2002, and is in her third quarterfinal at Wimbledon. When on, her game can trouble even players at the top of the game, as evidenced by her brutal defeat of Petra Kvitova at last year’s US Open, so Stephens needs to come out swinging.

As the last American left in the draw (who would have guessed that last Monday?), Stephens has reached the fourth round or better in her last three Slams. Three of her first four matches went the distance, with two coming down to the wire against Andrea Petkovic and Petra Cetkovska. Her game is powerful yet still developing, and her play in the third set against Monica Puig on Monday was on another level. Stephens has risen to the challenge and her focus and endurance will surely be tested against Bartoli.

Results: Bartoli in three sets

Petra Kvitova vs Kirsten Flipkens Wimbledon[8] Petra Kvitova vs [20] Kirsten Flipkens

  • Flipkens leads 2-1, all on hard
  • Plays winner of Bartoli-Stephens
  • Best previous Wimbledon result – Kvitova: 2011 Winner; Flipkens: 2009 Third Round

Kvitova may be the only past winner left in the draw, but she has not been looking as sharp over the last year. Her play at time has been questionable, but she managed to overcome a near-upset in the first round here against world No. 108 CoCo Vandeweghe, with a 7-5 win in the third set. Since then, she has shown flashes of her tennis genius but it has been wildly inconsistent.

Flipkens, possibly the biggest surprise quarterfinalists, had never been past the third round of a Slam before this year’s Australian Open. With new mentor Kim Clijsters in tow and a renewed fitness and ball-striking ability, the Belgian came from being ranked 175 during this time last year and not even playing Wimbledon, to reaching her first Slam quarterfinal and sitting at a career-high No. 20. Despite the strong showing, her draw has been rather light, playing No. 90 Yulia Putintseva, No. 97 Vesna Dolonc, No. 39 Bojana Jovanovski and No. 166 Flavia Pennetta who used her protected ranking. It may just be the end of the road for her.

Results: Kvitova in straight sets

Li Na: The “Nail” in Sharapova’s Australian Open Coffin

James Crabtree is currently in Melbourne Park covering the Australian Open for Tennis Grandstand and is giving you all the scoop directly from the grounds.

By James Crabtree

MELBOURNE — Conflicting with popular opinion The Great Wall of China is alive, travels extensively and has a broad sense of humour.

Maria Sharapova met the wall Thursday, and attempted to use all her artillery to beat it. In fact, Li Na defence was better than just a wall. The Russian champion, who is known to hit the ball harder than anyone, only served to hit something that would be absorbed then sent back with interest.

Sharapova, perhaps relishing her fortune and thinking towards a final that wouldn’t include Serena Williams, started horribly. The first points on Sharapova’s serve went to Na as back to back double faults. In contrast Li Na started reliably, not giving any points away. The next few games were close and if you weren’t paying attention you wouldn’t have realised that Na had raced out to a 4-1 lead.

This was the wrong script. Sharapova, who had barely lost a game all tournaments, was now losing games. In contrast Li Na was beating a player she had lost her last three meetings with.

The Russian showed a brief reprisal by securing the next game on a wild Na forehand, and the Russian attack seemed imminent.

The cavalry never came, with Sharapova’s inability to play smart tennis that included variations in pace and angle. Na rounded out the set on an easy service game.

The second set started with more of a tussle. Sharapova served well and the score line was a much more even 2-2, with Chris Evert predicting a victory for the Russian, via twitter.

Still, Na’s game plan was solid. A strategy that may have been inspired by her new coach Carlos Rodriguez, and Justine Henin’s former.

Just like the first set Li Na was winning the tough points, the longer rallies and all the important deuce and advantage points. All the games were furthering her lead.

There was to be no Sharapova comeback predicted by Evert. All in all this was a tough and tense encounter that did not reflect a 6-2 6-2 score-line. It was however Li Na’s day, literally, in the sun.

The stats rarely lie. Sharapova had 17 winners and 32 unforced errors whilst Na had a much more even 21 winners and 18 unforced errors. “Today, as I said, I felt like I had my fair share of opportunities. It’s not like they weren’t there. I just couldn’t take them today.” Sharapova stated after her loss.

Sharapova’s conceded twelve games today. In the five matches prior she conceded a total of nine.

Nobody would have predicted Serena Williams and Maria Sharpova to lose in consecutive days.

After the match Li Na thanked the crowd, whom are quickly considering her part of the family. She added she “always plays well in Melbourne,” a fact that is becoming more apparent every year. A fact that would work well in her favour Saturday against Azarenka, a player she has lost her last four meetings with.

Azarenka parties with Redfoo, Raonic suave for promos, Na Li does charity tour: What tennis players do after losing at the US Open

By Romi Cvitkovic

Tennis players are a peculiar breed. They lose nearly every week, but they get back on their feet just as often – many times with invigorating activities to keep their focus in check. We catch up with Victoria Azarenka, Milos Raonic, Laura Robson, Maria Sharapova and Na Li as we see what they were up to after losing at the US Open, including fashion shows, parties, charity tours and Olympic parades.

Some players party with Redfoo after a tough loss in the women’s championship match…

World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka has had a familiar face in her player’s box during several of her matches at the US Open, rock star Redfoo of the group LMFAO, and Sunday was no different. The upcoming sponsor of the Party Rock Open in Las Vegas, Redfoo fistpumped and cheered his way into Vika’s heart. The duo – with some extra friends – partied just hours after her heart-breaking loss. And apparently there’s video coming up of the night as well. Guess a good party goes a long way to turn that frown upside down, Vika.

https://twitter.com/RedFoo/status/244999287929462784

Some players attend glamorous events …

When Canadian Milos Raonic lost in the fourth round to Andy Murray, he jetted to Toronto for a plethora of events and appearances, including a Hello! Magazine Canada party where he sported the casual look:

… an amfAR Cinema Against AIDS event where he posed with Miss Universe Canada 2012 Sahar Biniaz. Do I smell a crush, Milos?

… and looking equally suave with a hint of pink and that same killer smile, Milos attended the Glitz and Glamour Breast Cancer Benefit alongside fellow countryman Daniel Nestor.

Some players forget their worries by attending New York Fashion Week …

Even before the US Open began, Maria Sharapova blitzed through the New York media scene with her “Sugarpova” candy launch. So after her abrupt semifinal finish at the Slam, Maria needed a good way to wind down. After what better way for the fashionista than taking in the Victoria Beckham show with good friend Anna Wintour? Looking fresh and outfitted in a color block jacket and elastic waistband red trousers, Maria also had an intimate conversation with the fashion icon. Anything that helps you wind down, Maria, we’re all for it.

Some players travel back to the Olympic stadium …

British teenager Laura Robson had her best results at a Slam by making the fourth round, defeating Na Li and ending Kim Clijsters’ career before losing to defending champion Sam Stosur. But Laura wasn’t disappointed. That gave her the opportunity to return to the Olympic village for the Paralympic Closing Ceremonies and participate in the Olympic and Paralympic heroes’ victory parade earlier today – sporting her silver medal in mixed doubles, of course! Compatriot Ross Hutchins joined in as paparazzi.

Some players launch a new book…

Chinese player Na Li is always a good sport even with her surprise loss to Robson last week. But she was back in business in Beijing over the weekend promoting her new book “Play Alone” and rebutting a statement from China’s tennis chief.

Last week at the US Open, China’s tennis chief Sun Jinfang blamed Li’s failure at the US Open due to a lack of education, saying “We have seen for a long time that Li Na can suddenly collapse. Why is this? Because athletes like her have not received a good education.” Her rebuttal came at her book signing press conference: “I don’t think my temper has anything to do with my education. I’m not angry with such talks. There is a Chinese old saying that rumors stop before the wise…. I’m not worried about being misunderstood. I just say what I want to say.” You go, girl.

Earlier, Li played some street badminton, table tennis and even piano(!) with kids during her charity tour to impoverished schools in Beijing, donating money, books and stationery to the charity school. A heart of gold.

In summary, the life of a tennis player is never boring or dull even when you expect it to be after one of the biggest events in the sport. Next up, the ladies have already begun with their tournaments this week in Tashkent and Quebec, and the men are set to begin the Davis Cup semifinals.

Adidas, Nike tennis outfits for US Open 2012 with Federer, Ivanovic, Sharapova and others

By Romi Cvitkovic

The US Open is underway and the top players are on fire — not only with their games, but also their on-court tennis apparel. Curious about what your favorite players are wearing and where to buy it? Well, wonder no more and check out this year’s US Open Nike and adidas tennis outfits for both men and women. Serve it up!

NIKE

Top women’s seed Victoria Azarenka is sporting Nike’s Volt Graphic Tank and flirty Black Flounce skirt. The tank design is just the right amount of flashy, and the fit is one of the best this season.

Na Li is pretty in pink in this Liquid Pink Jersey shirt and White Pleated skirt by Nike. A little more conservative with a dash of detailed stitches.

Maria Sharapova has been on tour for more than eleven years and her outfits are always stunning. This year, she’s flaunting Nike’s Back Court Day dress and Back Court Night dress. The day dress scores, but black on a slender and tall Sharapova seems counter intuitive. The Spiderman-esque matrix in gold on the back of the night dress is quite an intense contrast.

Nike has spiced up the normal white tank for Petra Kvitova and given her strategically-placed pleats with their Statement Pleated tank and mutli-colored Pleated skirt.

Nike has kept it solid and mostly simple for Roger Federer, dressing him in University Blue Hard Court crew tee for day, and collared Obsidian Hard Court Polo for night. What is of note is that the typically-collared Federer will be sporting no collar during his day matches. It seems they are keeping the same setup as last year.

The always unpredictable Serena Williams is giving us punches of color in her’ Statement Pleated dress in Fireberry for day and in Obsidian/Volt for night. Interesting color to highlight … there.

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adidas

Ana Ivanovic, as well as good friend Sorana Cirstea, are both sporting the spunky adiZero dress in Lime. Note: you must be tall, tan and beautiful in order for this to look fab on you.

Scot Andy Murray in equipped in his typical Barricade line but with a bit more edge as seen in the Urban Sky/Bright Gold details here. It is like a kaleidoscope?

Spaniard Fernando Verdasco complements the adiZero dress in his own adiZero Crew tee in Lime. Why the screaming colors always, adidas?

adidas keeps Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in their collared adiZero Theme Polo shirt in Dark Blue and does a nice job with light blue and orange accents.

Stella McCartney always dresses up Caroline Wozniacki in something questionable in photos that turns out great on Wozniacki herself, so I will reserve my comments. Stella McCartney Performance Rose Tan/Black mesh dress.

Roger Federer heavy favorite for US Open, Na Li’s new partnership — The Friday Five

By Maud Watson

The (Swiss) Cheese Stands Alone

After a week of sublime tennis in which his serve wasn’t broken once, Roger Federer won the Masters Cincinnati title to become the first player to win that prestigious crown on five occasions. He also tied rival Rafael Nadal for most overall Masters titles. It’s obvious the grass court season has once again infused confidence in the Maestro. His forehand has been a thing of beauty, and he’s doing an excellent job of protecting his backhand. In short, he hardly looks 31 and instead appears closer to the man who dominated the game from 2004-2007. He’s not a lone heavy favorite in New York with both Murray and Djokovic posting strong results earlier this summer, but don’t be surprised if he leaves Flushing with major number 18.

Beautiful Partnership

Li Na had been without a title since Roland Garros last year. Struggling to find any consistency in her game, she recently hired Carlos Rodriguez (the man who coached Justine Henin to so much success) to help her out, and suffice it to say, their partnership has started off with a bang. After reaching the final the previous week in Montreal, she went one better in Cincinnati to claim her first tournament win of 2012. Cincy also marked the first time that Li and Rodriguez met face-to-face, and the Argentine coach must have liked what he saw. With any luck, his input will mean more consistent results for Li. She is a deceptively quick mover with penetrating ground strokes off of both wings. If she can learn to better harness that aggression, there’s no reason she can’t pick up more big titles, including another major. Keep an eye on this new partnership, because that combo already looks likely to pay dividends.

What’s In A Name?

For Rafael Nadal, an answer is what’s in a name. In a press conference last Friday, Nadal announced that he is suffering from Hoffa’s Syndrome. While it’s unfortunate one of the game’s greatest is sidelined with this condition, it might have also come as a relief to the Spaniard. His doctor has said it is not significant, and being able to specifically pin down the problem means being able to provide more appropriate treatments. Of course, all of the treatment in the world will not make up for Nadal’s style of play, which is apt to continue to cause problems, so it will be interesting to see if this diagnosis alters his approach to the game and/or his schedule. But for now, here’s to wishing Rafa a speedy recovery and a happy return to the game.

Stirring the Pot

In recent years, Serena Williams has certainly made headlines at the US Open – and not because of her tennis. This year, she’s getting a head start stirring the pot as she complains about the “bad things” that have happened to her at the US Open. She definitely got robbed on a poor line call in 2004, but her gripes about incidents in 2009 and for sure in 2011 are dubious. Her defense in 2009 (besides suggesting that she definitely didn’t foot fault) is that she looked at the lineswoman after the first foot fault call to try and “warn” her not to do it again, and that the lineswoman just shouldn’t make that call at that stage of the match and at that stage of the tournament. So basically, she threatened the lineswoman who should have known that late in a Grand Slam she needs to throw the rulebook out the window. As for 2011, Serena said she got a bogus hindrance call for grunting. She needs to go back and watch the tape. She didn’t grunt – she loudly and intentionally yelled “c’mon!” Yes, plenty of other shriekers are louder, but Serena’s actions made it clear as day that applying the hindrance rule was warranted. In both instances, more fans might have been behind her had she not gone on completely inappropriate tirades and showed a complete lack of remorse for doing so. And she wonders why people don’t give her enough credit for being nice…

Missing the Boat

The WTA has started a celebrity campaign to bring more fans to the game. They’re featuring celebrities like Donald Trump, Aretha Franklin, and Susan Sarandon among others. In a nutshell, the hope is that fans of the featured celebs will follow those celebs to tennis, and in turn, become tennis fans themselves. I applaud the WTA’s creativity, but I wonder if they aren’t glossing over one of the more real issues when it comes to fans of the WTA. I don’t care how many celebs you have in your corner, if you want to bring fans to the game and more importantly, keep them, then they’ve got to do something about the awful screeching. The WTA is to be coming out with further info on a grunt policy in the very near future, so fingers crossed that they’re actually going to be doing something concrete instead of just blowing smoke. After all, no amount of glitz and glamour can mask the ugly sound of someone who sounds like a shrieking banshee.

Photographs from the Rome Masters 1000 Open

By Lisa-Marie Burrows

After an action-packed week on the red dirt of Rome, the finals Masters 1000 Series tournament before Roland Garros threw up some exciting matches, entertaining press conferences and an opportunity for memorable photographs to be snapped. Here is a collection of some of those events for you to enjoy featuring many of the players from the WTA and ATP Tour.

[nggallery id=54]

Lisa-Marie Burrows covered the Masters 1000 Series at the Mutua Madrid Open last week at the Rome Open.  Catch her as a regular contributor for TennisBloggers.com and on Twitter: @TennisNewsViews.

 

Magical Moments from Madrid: The Photographs

By Lisa-Marie Burrows

After spending a very busy and exciting week in Madrid and Rome, I have compiled a collection of the best photographs of your favourite tennis players from all the events in Madrid – showing happy moments, times of desperation, disappointment and of course photos from some of the explosive press conferences. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did being there to take them!

[nggallery id=53]

Lisa-Marie Burrows covered the Masters 1000 Series at the Mutua Madrid Open last week at the Rome Open.  Catch her as a regular contributor for TennisBloggers.com and on Twitter: @TennisNewsViews.

The Ladies Hit the Dirt Hoping for Feats on Clay

What promises to be a thrilling spring and summer of tennis for the WTA begins this week for the ladies in Stuttgart for the start of the clay court season.

This much-anticipated segment of the calendar begins with a bang as 17 of the Top 20 players in the world are entered in the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. Madrid and Rome will also host Premier events during the month of May as preparation for the second Grand Slam event of the year at Roland-Garros.

Over the past few years, the expectations and results on the red dirt for the women have been highly unpredictable and 2012 will be no different. Gone are the days of dominant clay court specialists on the WTA like Justine Henin or Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario. Instead, today’s Tour is all about parity making it anyone’s game, especially on clay. Case and point, the French Open has crowned a different champion each of the last four years. It will be interesting to see if World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka can continue her dominance this season on a different surface or whether Maria Sharapova will finally breakthrough with some titles after finishing as the runner-up at the three biggest tournaments of the year so far. Can Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova kick-start her season after a slow start? Will Caroline Wozniacki claim that elusive Grand Slam crown? Can Na Li repeat in Paris? Will a resurgent Ana Ivanovic be a threat again on a surface that brought her Grand Slam glory in 2008? All of these questions will be answered over the next few weeks with a few unexpected twists thrown in for good measure.

Don’t be surprised if a player outside of the Top 10 makes some noise at the big tournaments and look for Agnieszka Radwanska to make a serious run at her first Grand Slam title at Roland-Garros. Her all court game is well-suited for clay. Not to mention, she is enjoying the best season of her career.

It’s impossible to discuss a pending Major without throwing the name of Serena Williams into the mix. She played the Australian Open on one ankle, but comes into the clay court season in much better shape especially after rolling through the draw in Charleston a few weeks ago to win her 40th career title. Williams is driven to continually overcome health obstacles for another opportunity to add to her Grand Slam tally. The expectations may be low heading into Roland-Garros considering her recent results at the Majors and the fact clay is her worst surface. However, tennis fans have learned over the years to never discount Serena and it would be very much her style to triumph in Paris when everyone least expects her to.

Sabine Lisicki on Brad Pitt, Roger Federer and her Wimbledon Semifinals Run

After a resurgent 2011, German beauty Sabine Lisicki is sitting pretty in the WTA Tour rankings at a career-high number 13. I had the opportunity to sit down with Sabine at the Sony Ericsson Open and chat about her most memorable moments on court, Roger Federer, legends she has hit with, and the three famous people she would most want to have dinner with.

During the course of the interview, Lisicki could not have been more gracious and involved in the questions, laughing and/or giggling a total of eleven times. I would bet that her and Ana Ivanovic could compete in a “giggle-off” and see who the nicest WTA player is – it would be a tough call! But alas, I digress. On to the questions and get ready for some laughs!

What is your most memorable moment on court?

There are several. Obviously, my first grand slam in Australia [in 2008]. But from last year, a very emotional moment was winning the title in Birmingham and beating Na Li at Wimbledon, on center court, with a full house. That meant a lot to me, especially after coming back from an injury.

If you weren’t a tennis player, what would you be?

(Laughs) I hate that question! (Laughs) I honestly don’t know, because tennis was always what I loved and what I always wanted to do and I feel very lucky that I have the opportunity to do what I love.

Do you have any hobbies on the side that you enjoy?

There are things that I might do after tennis, because I’m interested in design/fashion, but also in the human body, so some medicine-type of thing, because we go through so many health issues and we learn a lot about our body and I’m just curious to learn more, so I’ll see which direction I’ll go. The human body is veryinteresting, so you can always discover more.

If you could play against any player in history, who would it be and why?

(Long pause) The ones I would love to play against, I’ve practiced with them already! (Laughs)

Is this like Steffi Graf?

Steffi and Andre, I’ve played with both and I’ve practiced with Mary Pierce and Martina Hingis, so all the idols. I would love to hit with Roger [Federer] one day.

What are two things that you couldn’t live without?

Friends and family.

If you could have dinner with any three people, living or dead, who would they be and why?

Living or dead? (Laughs) Ok, a fun one, Brad Pitt. (Laughs) An interesting one would be the pilot who landed the plane on the Hudson River. I would love to hear from him what he thought in those moments, because he was so under pressure having so many passengers and landing the plane. And the third one, Drew Brees (NFL Quarterback).

Paris Tennis Diary: From the Photo Pit

Ever wonder what it’s like to be a professional tennis photographer covering the ATP and WTA tours, scrambling to capture the top players, racing back to edit and post your photos and catching the best angle on tennis? Our resident photographer Rick Gleijm has been in Paris all week covering the WTA Open GDF Suez tournament featuring players such as Maria Sharapova, Jelena Jankovic, and Na Li. This is his personal and candid feature “Tennis Diary: From the Photo Pit.”

Check out all of Rick’s photo galleries from Paris this week! Day 1, Day 2, Day 3.

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Sunday, February 4, 2012

Yesterday really wasn’t my day. I woke up at 2 am to make my way to Paris on the icy roads, but it had already been a terrible winter’s day the day before. I arrived to the Stade de Coubertin in Paris just to find out the tournament wasn’t ready to receive press. Wrong accreditation, no press center, no internet connection and worst of all, no parking spot. Since I didn’t fancy to leave most of my belongings in my car in a very expensive, but public garage, and also didn’t like the prospect of lugging around 20 kilos of equipment (and $20,000 in value as well!) I decided to check into my hotel early and try it again in the morning. Some things are just unexpected bumps in the road!

Sunday February 5, 2012

6:30 am: Woke up this morning to a very white world! As if I didn’t have  enough problems getting to Paris yesterday, I have to drive a few kilometers to the tournament site from my hotel. Usually I am happy to stay a little further away from the site, in a quieter place, but now that means I have to travel over snowy roads. Roads? Well, there were some cars driving on a white plain, so I guess I must be on the road… Luckily the circumstances meant even the French will drive carefully.

9:45 am: Arrived at the venue without any more scratches or dents. I even found a safe and guarded parking spot right across from the entrance of the Stade de Coubertin. As I approached the accreditations desk, I noticed the staff was happily waving my prepared media card, the press center was open, the Wi-Fi was working —  the tournament could start for me now! First up is to take a few shots from the second-round qualification matches before I go to the draw ceremony at 11:oo am.

[singlepic id=3377 w=320 h=240 float=right]1:05 pm: Quickly went to see a couple of points of the first two qualifying matches of the day and tried to take a couple of shots on court, but discovered the lighting is horrendous. On center court, there is a strange yellow/red glow around everything, while on court one everything is green. I took some time to adjust my camera settings but totally forgot about the time and thus, the draw ceremony. I quickly made my way to the VIP-village for the draw ceremony, but got completely lost in the corridors of the Stade de Coubertin. Thanks to a very nice hostess, I managed to arrive in time, just to find out everything was delayed for 15 minutes. After the draw, it was back to court one for Lepchenko versus Domachowska. I still had trouble getting my camera settings right, so that means there will be a lot of post-processing on my part to adjust for the color shift. The next match I’ll shoot will be Mattek-Sands, so that leaves me with a bit of time to edit some work.

4:55 pm: Shot the last three matches. After a time, the ligh on Center Court becam very decent after all. I will be doing some post-processing for Tennis Grandstand first and  see if I can upload the pictures, before trying to slide back to the hotel where I can make a back-up of the portfolio. I do need to find some place to eat though — noticed there is a big M nearby so perhaps I’ll try that. I have survived a tournament or two just on junk food, so that’ll be no problem — although I may then easily star in the sequel to the movie “Supersize Me”. Starting tomorrow though, the tournament will offer full hospitality, so that’s one less worry.

Monday, February 6, 2012

[singlepic id=3407 w=251 h=188 float=left]9:30 am: Matches start at 12:00 pm today, so I was able to stay in bed a little longer, but that rarely happens at tournaments. Usually the qualification tournament finishes in the morning to make way for first-round matches in the afternoon. In Paris though, today will only feature the finals of the singles qualification tournament and one main draw doubles match with Lucie Safarova and Klara Zakopalova. Anyway, made myself a cup of coffee and went on my way to the site!

11:55 am: As luck would have it, I arrived at Stade de Coubertin together with Jelena Jankovic, but regrettably had my gear in my trunk so no candid photo opportunity with the Serbian. Some parking problems again, but I was saved by the lovely girls in the press center. Thank you ladies! Dumped my gear in the press center and went for my first match, Arn versus Muguruza Blanco. Hope I have plenty of time to catch before the end of the match between Brianti and Barrois.

[singlepic id=3380 w=215 h=161 float=right]1:05 pm: Checked the score on Center Court: Barrois is having Brianti for lunch! At the first possible change-over, I left Arn-Maguruza, just to witness the last couple of points by Barrois. Unable to get a decent shot of Brianti, I decided to wait it out on center court and stay for the start of Mattek-Sands versus Craybas.

2:15 pm: Went back to the press center to start editing the first three matches, but am keeping an eye out on the scores — don’t want to miss out on the last two matches. I’m hoping Craybas can make it a three-setter, and Barthel seems to have an easy start against Lepchenko.

3:05 pm: Time to get out of the press center and shoot the last two matches of the day. Everything turned out just fine: when Barthel was finished, I left for center court and the doubles teams were just being introduced.

5:05 pm: Back in the press center now to finish the pictures for Tennis Grandstand. Funny story:  as I was walking back to the press center, I went by the WTA players’ desk where I saw Julia Goerges and Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova explaining that they were really players and that they were on the entry list. “Look right here, that’s my name on the list, Julia.”…….. It was quite a site to witness.

7:00 pm: Finished for the day, time to go back to the hotel.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

10:55 am: Today is sure to be busier. I arrived at the tournament, set up my laptop, readied my photo gear, and went to see Cetkovska versus Brianti. When the second set of Zahlavova-Strycova versus Barthel began, I moved over to center court.

12:25 pm: Back at the press center. Started post-processing pictures of first two matches, and have some time as Pironkova versus Li is not to start before 1:00 pm.

1:15 pm: The Pironkova vs. Li match has begun, but I have decided to go for the second set after Jankovic’s scheduled press conference – which should start soon. While waiting, I’m continuing work on photos.

[singlepic id=3421 w=100 h=75 float=left]2:00 pm: Jelena Jankovic arrived for her press conference to announce she was withdrawing from the tournament due to a left thigh strain she sustained in Fed Cup last week. I decided to then make my way over to the Pironkova vs. Li match. [singlepic id=3432 w=150 h=112 float=right]But, as irony would have it, at the change-over when I could finally enter the court, Na Li needed a medical timeout on her back. I took a couple of shots of Pironkova as she waited and tried to stay warm, bundled up in towels. When Li returned, I decided to stay with the Bulgarian for the game and then switch to Li. At 40-0, Li decided she couldn’t continue and had to retire from her match. So, no pictures of Li in action.

5:05 pm: With all that has happened, I almost forgot to update this! Not much currently happening though, just processing my pictures, uploading them etc., taking a few new ones along the way. Just when I nearly finished my editing, I noticed that I have to hurry if I want to take some photos at Goerges’ match. That girl is in a hurry to win!

[singlepic id=3420 w=150 h=112 float=left]5:45 pm: Got my pics. Am trying to finish them and upload them. There’ll be a post match interview which I’ll try to be present for as well. When I’m done with those I’ll call it a day.