Category Archives: sports

Spectacular Russian Failure at the US Open

Play began at this year’s U.S. Open tennis tournament on Monday, August 29, 2011, with 21 Russians represented in the main draws. Only France and the USA had contingents of equal or larger size at the year’s final grand slam event, so Russia might have taken some pride in the achievement.

But within days, Russia probably wished it had skipped the tournament entirely.

Before play had begun on Wednesday, August 31, a mere two days in, 11 of those 21 Russians were gone.  Only the USA saw more players eliminated from the draws in the first two days, but the USA had one-third more entries in the draw and as a result lost only one-third of its contingent. It had twice as many active players going into day three as Russia. Russia’s contingent had been cut by more than half and the tournament had hardly even begun.

And it wasn’t just Russia’s second-rate players who were cut down. Russia’s top-seeded male player, Mikhail Youzhny, lost his first-round match to an unseeded opponent in woefully noncompetitive fashion, showing the way to ten of his fellow Russians out the U.S. Open’s swinging door.

Russia’s next major humiliation was provided by Maria Sharapova, the country’s second-highest-seeded female player, in the third round.

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Russian Sin in Cincinnati

Such a mysterious (and painful) orb!

The stadium court in Cincinnati, Ohio, stood humiliatingly half empty on August 21st as the women’s final of the WTA’s Western & Southern Open began.

The reason was simple: Russia’s second best player, the hapless and grating Maria Sharapova was playing. Had a second Russian stood on the court opposite, the place might well have been entirely vacant.

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Russian Collapse in Carlsbad

Another one of those days for a hapless Russian #1.

Russia’s best female tennis player, world #3 Vera Zvonareva, made a little trip out to Carlsbad, California the first week of August to play in the WTA Mercury Insurance Open.  She had her little holiday planned out so nicely.

What made the tournament attractive for Zvonareva was that she would be seeded number 1 and the number 2 seed would be Andrea Petkovic  of Germany, ranked #11 in the world. In other words, no other top ten player besides the Russian even entered the tournament, so Zvonareva would have a cake walk to the title and a pile of virtually free rankings points.

But the best-laid plans of mice and Russians gang aft agley!  Despite her sweet little scheme, Zvonareva barely even made it to the finals and did not come close to taking the title.

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Pain and Humiliation for Russia at the All-England Club

The third round of play at the All-England Club this year was utterly disastrous for Russian female tennis players .

It never ceases to amaze us how so many Russians will, when confronted by evidence of catastrophic failure like this, seek to rationalize it rather than to demand reform — the very thing they do in politics and all other aspects of their lives.  Instead of calling for improvement by Russia, they invariably point to failures by other countries, as if that made it OK for Russia to fail.

It reminds us of the old Soviet-era joke:  An American walks up to a hotel desk clerk in Moscow and complains loudly about the shockingly poor accommodations in his Russian hotel room. The clerk responds:  “Yes, but you lynch blacks.”  The result of this attitude was that the USSR never improved, collapsed and disappeared into the ashcan of history.  And, or so it seems, Russians have learned absolutely nothing from that experience.

In the third round at Wimbledon 2011, both Russia’s top seed, world #3 Vera Zvonareva, and its third seed, world #12 Svetlana Kuznetsova, were cruelly slaughtered by lower-ranked opponents. Zvonareva, supposedly Russia’ s best player, suffered particularly intense humiliation, getting blasted off the court in easy straight sets  by the tournaments’s lowest seed, a Bulgarian not ranked in the top 30 (and we report elsewhere in today’s issue on how the Bulgarians recently thumbed their noses at Russia over World War II  – ouch!).

Declining Russia, which some idiots used to refer to as “dominant” in the sport, had a pathetic six seeds going into the tournament, and now two of the top three were gone before the fourth round could begin.  What’s more, the #14 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova had already lost in the second round, as had the #28 seed Ekaterina Makarova.  After Kuznetsova and Zvonareva went down, this left only two Russian seeds with a chance of getting as far as the fourth round.

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Russia Comes a Cropper at Roland Garros

Another one of those days for our gal Shamapova

So-called “Russian” female tennis player Maria Sharapova has described herself as “cow on ice” when it comes to playing on the red clay of Stade Roland Garros at the French Open grand slam event (“shrieking cow on ice” would be a little more accurate).  And it did not take her long to prove it in her semifinals match against Chinese journeywoman Na Li.

Sharapova went down in straight sets and had her serve broken a shocking five times by the diminutive opponent, who is five years her senior and seven inches shorter and has never won a grand-slam title and had only beaten Sharapova twice in seven prior meetings. Our gal Shamapova struck a pathetic 12 winners compared to a whopping 28 unforced errors, served no aces and a ghastly ten double faults.  It was another classic Shamapova implosion, occuring with Sharapova just two matches from a career grand slam.  Likely she’ll never get that close again.

But say this for the “Russian” who lives in America and spends no time in her so-called country:  She was by far the class of the Russian field.

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Brutal Pain and Humiliation for Russian Women at the 2011 Aussie Open

Dinara Safina makes history for her country. Ouch.

The year’s first grand slam proved yet another new low in the pain and humiliation being inflicted upon Russia of late by the women’s professional tennis game.  Calling these women “dominant” is like calling Americans dominant in soccer.

Things started out at the Australian Open with an amazing bang of negativity when Dinara Safina, one of only two Russian women in tennis history to be ranked #1 in the world, was blown off the court like the fraudulent pretender she is in her very first match of the tournament by Kim Clisters.  Safina became the very first player of either gender to be ranked number one and then ejected from a grand slam event without winning a single game, getting savagely crushed by Clijsters 0-6,0-6.  In was one of the most disgraceful performances in tennis history.  Safina’s doubles team was also booted out in its opening match in woeful fashion.

And then it got worse.

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EDITORIAL: Russian Women’s Tennis in Decline

EDITORIAL

Russian Women’s Tennis in Decline

Not that it was ever that great to begin with, but Russian women’s tennis ended 2010 in marked decline.  We continue to see it as a perfect metaphor for Putin’s Russia — all illusion, no substance when you look beneath the shoddy, dishonest propaganda.

Russia now has only one player ranked in the top ten in the world.  Going into the year-end WTA Tour Championships in Doha, Qatar last week it had two, and they were Russia’s sole representatives at the eight-player event.  But the first, Elena Dementieva, was blown off the court in round-robin play, failed to advance to the elimination rounds and promptly announced her retirement from the sport.

And then there was one.

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Shame and Humiliation for Russian Tennis in Moscow

Russian women’s tennis reached a new low last week at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow.

Russia currently has six players ranked in the world’s top 20, a shocking comedown from its position in prior years (America currently has more top-five players than Russia does).  Two-thirds of these Russian players, four of the six, spurned the Kremlin Cup entirely. They were not even interested in stepping on the court for their own country’s most prestigious tournament.  The roll of shame:  Vera Zvonareva, Yelena Dementieva,  Nadia Petrova and Maria Sharapova.

Only the lowest two of the top six deigned to appear in the own country’s tournament:  Maria Kirilenko and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Pavlyuchenkova lost her opening round match to an unseeded non-Russian. Kirlenko reached the finals, where she lost in easy straight sets to a non-Russian who was not even the tournament’s top seed.  From beginning to end, Russian players produced nothing but disgrace and humiliation for their country, confirming that it remains a sports backwater even among Russians and that Russians simply can’t compete against foreign rivals.

“Dominant” Russians? We think not.

The Russians show the NHL who they Are

ESPN reports:

Pretty much everything went according to plan with the Carolina Hurricanes‘ recent historic trip to St. Petersburg, Russia. And if it weren’t for actually having to play an exhibition game there, the trip might have been the perfect precursor to the NHL’s staging a regular-season game in Moscow.

But the Hurricanes did end up playing an Oct. 4 exhibition game against St. Petersburg, and the game turned into an ugly affair with Carolina coach Paul Maurice pulling his No. 1 goaltender, Cam Ward, and top forward, Eric Staal, out of the contest for fear they would be injured.

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EDITORIAL: Putin’s Russia fails, and then it Fails Again!

EDITORIAL

Putin’s Russia fails, and then it Fails Again!

At the world basketball championships in Istanbul, Turkey, last week, Vladimir Putin‘s Russia reached the quarterfinals.  All it had to do to reach the semis, two games from a gold medal, was beat the United States.  It didn’t, but instead received a humiliating spanking that left world media talking about “sweet revenge” for the USA. Then, in a pathetic “consolation” game, Russia had the chance to play for fifth place, against Argentina.  Again, it failed.  This left Russia with the opportunity to win its final game and take seventh place in the world championships, and it finally managed to accomplish its task by barely beating tiny Slovenia.  Not only did Russia fail to medal, it never came remotely close to having a chance to compete for a medal.

Then it got oh, so much painfully worse.

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Slaughter, humiliation and woe for Russia in the Big Apple

Fully one-fourth of the 32 women in the draw at the final grand slam tennis tournament of 2010, the U.S. Open in New York City, were Russians.  But if based on that you expected big things from the Land of Putin on the court, you were sadly mistaken.

It was nothing but slaughter, humiliation and woe once again for the Russians, who are ruining the very sport that gives them their living, making it an unwatchable charade.

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Wimbledon Wrapup

At Wimbledon this year, Svetlana Kuznetsova proved herself a real Russian, in every way

Once again, Russia’s so-called “dominant” women tennis players humiliated themselves and their country spectacularly at a major championship, this time at the world-famous All-England Club at Wimbledon.

First, Russia started out the tournament without one single player among the top 10 seeds, and a mere three in the top 20, just seven overall — less than a quarter of the total.  How the mighty have fallen!

Then, not only was Russia’s  #3 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova booted out of the tournament in the third round by an unseeded opponent, but she disgraced herself and her country even further by refusing to shake her opponent’s hand at the end of the match out of sheer, petty, childish spite at having been bested and ejected by a nobody – and for the final indignity her opponent was a Russian defector now living in Australia.  It was one of the lowest moments in Russian tennis history, indeed in the history of Russian sport itself.

And then it got worse. Oh, so much worse.

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EDITORIAL: More Brutal Sports Humiliation for Russia

EDITORIAL

More Brutal Sports Humiliation for Russia

Well, it’s another brutal new low for Vladimir Putin’s Russia where sports performance is concerned. We almost feel sorry for the poor bastard. Almost.

Ask any Russophile slob or Russian nationalist yahoo, and they’ll tell you:  Russia was ousted from the FIFA World Cup before it even started while America gained admission to that gilded, lofty club because Russia’s competition was tougher.

What an unbearably humiliating shock, then, to see America emerge victorious from its group in the first round at FIFA in South Africa this year, moving on to the lofty second round of the internationally essential contest.  After all,  America’s group contained not just mighty England but also the very country, Slovenia, whose bold and brilliant play dismissed Russia’s hopes of finally setting foot on hallowed FIFA territory.

Ouch!!

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French Open Recap

Confronted by Nadia Petrova, who can dare say Russian women are not the most beautiful in the world? And how about their fashion sense?!

Well, it wasn’t pretty. No, it surely was not.

Last year’s French Open finalist Dinara Safina of Russia was ousted in her very first match at this year’s tournament, ousted by a player who became the second-oldest in the tournament’s modern history to win as much as a single match.

Ouch.

Then there was the woman who defeated Safina to take the title last year, Svetlana Kuznetsova.  She was ousted in her third match of the French Open by a player not seeded in the top 25.

Ouch, ouch.

So, just for starters, neither of the two Russians who contested last year’s final, widely seen as one of the most pathetic and unwatchable in the history of grand slam finals, managed to get as far as the fourth round this year.

Ouch, ouch, ouch. But there was more, oh, so very much more carnage to report.

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Fast and Furious Humiliation for Russia

Dinara Safina

Svetlana Kuznetsova

Elena Dementieva

Maria Sharapova

Vera Zvonareva

What do they have in common?  Within days of its beginning, all five had been ousted from the WTA Tour event in Madrid, Spain.  They were among them four of Russia’s five seeds in the tournament, including its top three and its most famous player by far, blown away like lint. Not one got close to reaching even the quarter-finals of the tournament.  Only Zvonareva and Dementieva managed to win as much as single match, not one got close to winning a second.

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Russian Ruin in Rome

At the WTA Tour event in Rome, Italy last week, Russia had three of the top six seeds and therefore should have had three of eight slots in the quarter finals.  Yet, not a single one of Russia’s three top seeds made it that far.  In fact, they didn’t get remotely close.  Instead, as per usual, Russia’s so-called “dominant” women humiliated themselves before a slack-jawed world.

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Ouch: USA boots Russia out of Fed Cup

American Bethanie Mattek-Sands, jubilant in victory

Russia fielded a far stronger singles team against the United States in the semi-final match of the Fed Cup championships which was contested in Birmingham, Alabama last weekend. 

The US did not send one player ranked in the world’s top 30 in singles, while Russia sent world #7 Elena Dementieva.   The US sent only one player ranked in the top 100 in the world in singles, while all three of Russia’s players were ranked in the world’s top 80. 

The outcome, therefore, was a foregone conclusion.   

That’s right, the USA whipped Russia’s butt. 

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More Russian Ladies’ Tennis Humiliation

The month of April brought five WTA tour events, including the “fifth grand slam” at the Sony Erickson Open in Miami, Florida.  Five events meant ten opportunities for Russians to contest for a title.

Yet, despite having three of the world’s top ten players, Russia did not win a single title, and indeed placed only one of its female players into a final. That was Vera Zvonareva, who was brutally crushed  at the event in Charleston. In Russia’s only bid for a title, Zvonareva managed to win just three of 15 games played, none in the first set, in a truly pathetic and humiliating display.

But it was nothing compared to what occurred at the vaunted Miami event.  

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Russia’s Last Stand at Indian Wells

More stark humiliation and failure for Russia’s “dominant” female tennis players to report.

Russia had five of the 16 seeds at last week’s Tier I WTA Tour tennis event in Indian Wells, California.

Two of its top three seeds, including the tournament’s #1 seed, were blown off the court by much lower-ranked players before the even getting to the tournament’s fourth round.  In a disgraceful humilation top-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova lost her opening round match to an unseeded Spaniard, while #10 seed Maria Sharapova (Russia’s third-highest seed) was whipped by the #18 seed, from China in her third-round match.

That wasn’t the end of the carnage.  Two of the other five seeds, Nadia Petrova (#16) and Vera Zvonareva (#12) were defeated in the fourth round, though at least they could say they lost to higher seeds.

This left only one Russian seed, #4 Elena Dementieva, with a chance to get as far as the semi-finals. Needless to say, she didn’t.  She lost her quarter-finals match in easy straight sets to a lower seed.

So in the end, despite having five seeds, not a single so-called “dominant” Russian woman got as far as the semi-finals, much less had a chance to win the prestigious tournament.  And all this occurred despite the fact that neither dominant American, Venus or Serena Williams, had to be faced by any of the Russians because neither entered the draw.  Had either much less both done so, Russia’s fortunes could have been even more disastrous.

Nemtsov Mocks Putin’s Olympic Fantasies

Joshua Keating interviews Boris Nemtsov at TheStar.com:

Foreign Policy: So why do you believe it is a mistake to hold the 2014 Winter Olympics in your hometown, Sochi?

Boris Nemtsov: In all of Russian history, I can think of only one example as crazy as this. After he visited Iowa, (Soviet Premier Nikita) Khrushchev, told farmers around Murmansk, above the Arctic Circle, to grow corn in the frozen tundra. (Prime Minister Vladimir) Putin is now repeating Khrushchev’s experience. He has found one of the only places in Russia where there is no snow in the winter. He has decided to build these ice rinks in the warmest part of the warmest region. Sochi is subtropical. There is no tradition of skating or hockey there. In Sochi, we prefer football, and volleyball, and swimming. Other parts of Russia need ice palaces – we don’t.

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EDITORIAL: Russia’s Total, Olympian, Collapse

EDITORIAL

Russia’s Total, Olympian, Collapse

Even for a country whose history is littered with as many humiliating, disgraceful moments as Russia’s, the 2010 Winter Olympics were a startling new low.  As we’ve often said, sport is a perfect metaphor for wider failure on the part of Russia’s incompetent Kremlin, and there are signs of a silver lining for Russia in this disaster:  The government is catching plenty of flak from outraged, humiliated citizens, who at least for a few moments can see their naked emperor in all his inglorious shame, despite furious neo-Soviet attempts to lie, rationalize and otherwise explain away this pathetic failure.  All intelligent Russians are asking:  If the Kremlin has bungled Olympics preparation this badly, isn’t it possible it is bungling other things as well, things we don’t know about because the Kremlin won’t say? Whether Russians will carry this through to regime change is, of course, anybody’s guess.

Russians bragged about their expectation of a whopping 30 medals at the Vancouver Olympiad.  In the last go-round, 2006 in Italy, Russia had collected 22 medals, 8 of them gold, so arrogant, preening Russians were expecting more than a one-third improvement on the way to the Sochi games of 2014 that Russia, if the world continues its insanity, will host.  It sounded like crazily demented bluster to many of us, but we gave Russia the benefit of the doubt and waited to be impressed as Russia walked the walk.  We remained silent.

Yet, when the dust had settled, Russian athletes clutched just 15 total medals, only 3 of them gold, a one-third reduction in total medals, the exact opposite of what Russians had claimed would occur, and a two-thirds reduction in gold medals.  The USA, by contrast, won 25 medals in 2006, and improved to a whopping, devastating 37 medals in Vancouver, significantly enhancing its own medal count without any advance bluster.  In other words, it was the USA, not Russia, that ended the games actually doing what Russia had claimed, holding more than 30 Olympic medals.  Ouch.

Russia did not even make the top 10 in the gold medal count, coming in at #11,  and placed 6th in the total medal count — Russian officials had openly admitted that anything worse than 4th place would have meant absolute failure for Russia at the games. The US finished in dominant first place in the count, with three times more gold medals and more than twice as many total medals as Russia. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

And even if Russia had actually won the 30 or more medals it planned on (something neither Russia nor the USSR had ever done), the Olympiad would still have resulted in shame and disgrace for Russia beyond the worst stereotypes imaginable.  One need look no further than the appalling misconduct and failure of Russian figure skater Yevgeny Plushenko to see the evidence.

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EDITORIAL: Annals of the Sochi Fiasco


EDITORIAL

Annals of the Sochi Fiasco

Just as the Kremlin told Russians they’d do great at the Vancouver Olympiad and turned out to be lying shamelessly, the Kremlin’s claims about being able to conduct a successful Olympiad four years from now in Sochi (a beach resort!) are equally dishonest.  You can see the failure coming just by walking into a Russian souvenir shop.

Sports Illustrated reporter Luke Winn, for instance, visted the Vancouver Olympic Village souvenir shop operated by “Bosco Sport, the Russian company that’s making all the gear for the Sochi 2014 Games.”  The photo above shows three items from the store’s shelves.  Winn calls the shop’s offerings ” the most heinous collection of merchandise I’ve ever seen at a sporting event.”  Ouch.

The red jacket on the right costs an astounding $1,199.

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EDITORIAL: Russia picks a Fight with Canada

EDITORIAL

Russia picks a Fight with Canada

Always hear the same kind of story
Break their nose and they’ll just say “sorry”
Tell me what kind of freaks are that polite?
It’s gotta mean they’re all up to somethin’
So quick, before they see it comin’
Time for a pre-emptive strike!

“Canadian Idiot”
“Weird” Al Yancovic
“Straight Outta Linwood”

Faced with unimaginable athletic humiliation on the fields of play at the Vancouver Olympiad, Russians rapidly degenerated into even more humiliatingly childish name-calling directed at the host country, leaving the Russia’s Olympic legacy in utter ruin.  When you can’t think of anything to do but insult the sweet little Canadians, you may as well just give up.

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EDITORIAL: Russia and Racism

EDITORIAL

Russia and Racism

After Russia’s pathetic, truly stunning loss to Canada in the quarterfinals of the Olympic men’s hockey tournament, NBC sportscaster Mike Millbury commented:

I was shocked that it was this one-sided. And I was really disappointed that these guys came with their euro-trash game. It was just. No heart, no guts, no nothing there to back it up. I mean Alex Ovechkin was an average player tonight. I know they’re going to bounce back, but to be that poor and to be that intimidated physically by the Canadians, that really shocked me.

Wikipedia then immediately added the following to Millbury’s entry:  “He was employed by NBC to serve as a hockey analyst during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, during which he caused some controversy by referring to the Russian team as the racist phrase ‘Euro-Trash’.”

Oops.  Wikipedia itself defines the term “eurotrash” and it pertains only to class, not race, according to Wiki.  Millbury was merely saying that the Russians played like spoiled rich kids, soft, weak and craven.  The reference to racism had to be deleted from the Wiki page.  Apparently, the fellow who wrote the Wiki entry on Millbury wasn’t a big Wiki reader himself. Too bad.  Could it have been some Russophile nationalist who rushed to smear Millbury for his tough (and accurate) criticism of Russian’s play?  Possible, very possible.

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Even the Russians know it: Plushenko is a Freak and a Fraud

Matvey Ganapolsky, writing for Huffington Post:

At the Vancouver Olympics, Evgeni Plushenko was not given the gold. Plushenko, whose feelings were hurt, told his wife, Yana Rudkovskaya, that he thought the figure skating world was “stopped.”

Ms. Rudkovskaya–a famous business woman, popular television producer and winner of the Diamond Hairpin Prize for the country’s best blonde–was even more defiant, demanding that the Russian government, “a potent and mighty power,” ought to “defend our athletes.”

Naturally, it’s immaterial that the same standards used on Plushenko’s Vancouver performance were used to judge the skate that won him gold at Turin. What’s important is that there’s been an insult not only to an athlete, but to his wife: a Russian television personality, a highly visible producer and a judge appearing on many an American Idol type show.

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