second time

Another Prodigal Pictorial: Anna Chakvetadze Graces Portoroz

So for the second time this week I have a prodigy on my plate. Anna Chakvetadze once held the number five position of the world but has fallen to 111. Though many of us are waiting for a prodigal return of Anna to the top 10,  I don’t see it happen for now.  She is only 23 so keep in mind that she could bounce back at any point but I am not holding my breath.

And even though I don’t expect a comeback anytime soon, she still looks good on photo. And photographer Ralf Reinecke thinks so too.

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AGASSI, SAMPRAS RIVALRY UP IN FLAMES: THE FRIDAY FIVE

By Maud Watson

Rivalry Up in Flames – By now everyone around the globe must know about the infamous spat that took place between Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi at the “Hit for Haiti” charity event. I’ll go on record as saying that both men were wrong for the way that they behaved that night. But I’m also placing the overwhelming amount of blame on Agassi, and he’s the only one of the two for whom I also felt disgust. Agassi’s mouth was going a mile a minute the entire evening and taking subtle jabs at Sampras. Finally Sampras snapped, and his response was to do his impression of Agassi. I had no problem with this. Sampras did this same impression at an exhibition event several years ago with Agassi, and in response, Agassi then did an excellent Sampras impersonation. That was all Agassi needed to do last week. Instead, he hit Pete way below the belt. Even Agassi’s apology was sorely lacking, as he admitted to the joke falling flat but then faulted Sampras for not rolling with it. Why should he, Andre? He was the one being embarrassed in front of a stadium full of people. Sampras already took the high road once when Agassi’s book first came out, and Sampras offered little comment on it. To ask him to do so a second time in that kind of an atmosphere is too much. Worse still, Sampras is unlikely going to be willing to put himself in that kind of a situation again any time soon, so good luck to any exhibition organizer trying to get those two out on the court to hit for charity.

Void of Punishment – Not to keep harping on Andre Agassi, but I was also disappointed (though not surprised) to see that the ITF has come out with a statement declaring that the statute of limitations has passed, and there can be no retroactive punishment for Agassi’s past use of crystal meth. In many ways, it’s a shame that there’s no real retribution here. I can accept that people make mistakes, but to see Agassi get by with this on top of last Friday at the charity exhibition, this verdict is just one more thing that makes me shake my head and wonder how much more he’s going to be allowed to get by with before someone steps in and does something.

Pakistani Pullout – In a sad story that ran earlier this week, the ITF was forced to announce that the Davis Cup tie between Pakistan and New Zealand, which had been slated to take place in Pakistan, would have to be moved to New Zealand due to the recent bombings in the Pakistani nation. The move is completely understandable but a hard blow to Pakistani tennis. Home ties can so often help spark tennis interest and growth in the host nation, not to mention bring some joy if victorious. A troubled nation like Pakistan could have used this boost.

The Fallout Continues – Things continue to unravel in Great Britain after they suffered one of their most humiliating Davis Cup losses in history. The All-Party Parliamentary Tennis Group, which includes members of both the House of Commons and House of Lords, is staging an inquiry to further study the status of tennis in Great Britain at all levels of the game. Furthermore, John Lloyd is throwing in the towel, while coach Paul Annacone will no longer serve as the Davis Cup team coach. Bless whatever soul is brave enough to take over the helm of this rapidly sinking ship before they face Turkey later this year.

Latest Russian Maladies – In one of the more mind-boggling stories of the week, it was noted that Russian Nikolay Davydenko was forced to withdraw from the BNP Paribas Open due to a broken wrist. The fact that he had to pull out of the tournament with such an injury was not the mind-boggling part…it was the fact that he’d played with the broken wrist, which had been misdiagnosed earlier in the year. The Russian could possibly be out for the entire clay court season. My fingers are crossed that he makes a speedy recovery, especially given how well he’s played the past six months.

WHEN TENNIS GETS GOING, TENNIS GOES INDIAN WELLS

So one of my favourite tournaments of the year starts this week and I am all excited about it. I have tracked many of my favorite tennis players through twitter and subscribed to many RSS feeds of various tennis site to be completely up-to-date as possible. It’s time to get ready for a good time, sunny weather and Eurosport.

I have read Bobby Chintapalli’s comprehensive list of favorites to win the tournament and I agree with most of them.  The only big name that was missing from that list was Caroline Wozniacki. Though I understand the criteria Chintapalli to compile the list and her reasons to leave out Wozniacki from her, otherwise, great list.

Chintapalli argues, and I quote:

I had to start somewhere, and I started with the players who have the best match win percentages so far this year. Of course there are many other great players with the potential to go far at Indian Wells. (Caroline Wozniacki’s clearly very good and very good for tennis, but her match win percentage this year is 57.1% — that’s the only reason she’s not on this list.)

Like I said, her argument for leaving out Wozniacki is a good one.

Then I started to read the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour website.  And every week they have a player from the WTA Tour blog from a certain location. I have to say that I loved the introduction to the blog of this week’s player.

INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA – Indian Wells has been the stage for some of Daniela Hantuchova’s most glorious moments, so is there really anywhere better for the Slovak No.1 to do the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Blog from?

It’s true. I remember vividly when Hantuchova beat Hingis back then.  And I remember the second time that she won the tournament too. Hantuchova is a master on the courts of Indian Wells and always a force to be reckoned with. You never know.  Life’s full of surprises, so is tennis.

After that I started to read the Twitters of Elena Dementieva and Victoria Azarenka, just to see what they were up to and if they had any expectations.

Victoria “Vika” Azarenka prepared herself for the tournament hitting some balls with Gisela Dulko and afterwards she told that Kim Clijsters entered the courts.  Then there was something funny on Vika’s Twitter account.

Somebody asked her what she would like to have as an extraordinary talent.

Her answer:

my personal answer is i want to be able to read people minds! it think its kinda cool! well thanks again..i hope u enjoyed it as well

To read more about Victoria Azarenka, sign up for Twitter and start following her  @vika7 . She’s often very funny and takes time out for her fans.

Elena Dementieva’s Twitter was less interesting. It’s less personal but she did leave a link to an audiocast with an interview of her at Indian Wells. You can find it by clicking here: http://www.bnpparibasopen.org/News/Interviews-Audio/Interviews-Audio.aspx More interviews are available including but not limited to: Caroline Wozniacki (who has surprisingly not Twittered about Indian Wells at all) and Sam Stosur.

Then I decided to hop over to a very decent site that I have visited quite a lot in the past two weeks. It’s WTA  Women’s Tennis who have  comprehensive coverage with great videos and photos of the Indian Wells tournament. Like the photos of Jelena Jankovic training. If she doesn’t win the tournament then she at least should win the “The most beautiful smile” award. Because that’s what she has.

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