U.S. Open Recap: Another New Low in Russian Humiliation

The mighty Oudin, slayer of Russians

The mighty Oudin, slayer of Russians

If you learned that a 17-year-old American ranked well outside the world’s top 65 players went deep, deep into the draw at the year’s final grand slam event, the U.S. Open in New York, it probably wouldn’t surprise you a bit, would it, to learn that each and every one of her matches prior to the quarter finals came against Russian  opponents, whom she cut down as if they were feeble shoots of wheat beneath her sharpened deadly scythe, regardless of their ranking?

The Russian women’s team was soundly thrashed by upstart Italy in the semi-finals of the Fed Cup international tournament this past April, so while we will see the American team in the finals, we won’t be seeing the “dominant” Russian women there, unless they are in the stands with tickets.  Ouch.  But that brutal humiliation was as nothing compared to what happened to the Russians at this year’s U.S. Open.

The Americans won the right to face the Italians for the world championship of nations, the right to hoist the Fed Cup, with the help of 17-year-old Melanie Oudin of Atlanta Georgia, ranked #70 in the world, who whipped Gisela Dulko of Argentina, ranked #40, in the quarters and vaulted the American team into the semis when they were on the ropes.

At the U.S. Open last week, Oudin showed more protegy-like prowess. She dismantled and destroyed Yelena Dementieva, ranked #4 in the world, preventing the Russian player who, according to the seedings, should have reached the semi-finals from getting past the second round.

She moved on to face Maria Sharapova in the third round, where the world gaped in horror as Sharapova served an astonishing 14 double faults (and and even more shocking 45 unforced errors, while striking only four more winners than Oudin) over the course of just the first two sets, which were split between the players.  Shamapova leads the entire world in double fault percentage, averaging eight per match and Oudin broke her serve four times in the first two sets alone.

Sharapova seemed to be playing with actual contempt not just for the fans but for the sport of tennis itself.  Her “strategy” seemed to be to swing her racket with crazed force each time the ball came her way and hope her shot landed in as a winner, otherwise to concede the point.  Despite frenzied serving in this manner, resulting in those horrifying 14 double faults, Sharapova managed to collect just one ace over the course of two sets. Shamapova’s winners-errors ratio revealed the same repugnant and utter failure to carry out a repulsive and malignant strategy.

To put it mildly, nobody but nobody wants to pay money to watch tennis played this way, and as if her “strategy” was not bad enough there was also Sharapova’s barbaric shrieking after each frenzied swing the ball.  One had the impression of being in the colloseum watching a gladiator (Oudin) facing a wild beast.  Tennis made its reputation on being civlized, as best personified by the elegant and thrilling Roger Federer.  Sharapova’s play and behavior debases the sport and hastens its demise.

In the third set, Oudin marched right out and broke Shamapova’s serve a fifth time in the opening game, then held her own serve to consolidate the break.  In a shameless act of gamesmanship, the “Russian” who lives in America — and who had shown no signs of any injury — called for the trainer after barely holding serve in the fifth game (where she tossed in her seventeenth double fault), attempting to ice the greenhorn Oudin into tossing the match on nerves. To say the least, it did not work.  Oudin took the final set 7-5, breaking Sharapova’s serve a total of eight times and watching the hapless Russian strike a ghastly 63 unforced errors, nearly twice Oudin’s total, and a truly mortifying 21 double faults.

Oudin had also met and destroyed a much higher-ranked Russian in her first round match, namely world #36 Anastasia Pavluchenkova.   This woeful, but much higher-ranked Russian, managed to take only three games from the mighty Oudin out of 15 played.  So by the time she crushed Sharapova, her lethal racket was already dripping with Russian blood.

After thrashing Sharapova, yes, you guessed it, Oudin faced yet a fourth Russian, world #13 Nadia Petrova.  Should she have defeated her, she was on course to face still a fifth Russian, world #6 Svetlana Kuznetesova.  By time time Oudin walked on court to face Petrova on Labor Day, every single other Russian in the female draw had been eliminated.  Only Petrova and Kuzntesova remained.

Most especially, Russia’s top-ranked player, so-called “world #1” Dinara Safina, once again humiliated herself and her country.   Even though dumb luck saw all four of the seeded players in Safina’s quarter of the draw lose before she could meet them, leaving Safina to play second-rate pretenders all the way to the quarter finals, Safina could not even make it to the fourth round. She surrendered in the third to an unseeded Czech opponent not ranked in the world’s top 70 players, giving yet more proof to the hypothesis that she is the most unworthy #1 in the history of the sport (though Sharapova, who never won a title while she held the top spot and defended it only for a couple of months, surely gives her a run for her counterfeit money in that regard).

In Oudin’s fourth-round match against Petrova, she faced a massive opponent who weighed 143 lbs to Oudin’s  mere 130 lbs  and stood a towering 5’10” tall to Oudin’s diminutive 5’6″.  With 13 pounds and 4 inches over the American, Petrova served a dominating 10 aces to none for Oudin, yet Oudin still broke Petrova’s serve a startling three times in the decisive third set after winning only one game in the first.  The highly-ranked Russian fell apart like  cheap suit in the pressure cooker of the final set while the American came into her own, and by the end of the match Petrova had tossed in an atrocious, godawful fifty-nine unforced errors, nearly twice the American’s total.   Now, despite having four of the top ten seeds in the tournament (and one-fourth of all the available seeds), only one Russian was left in the draw with a chance to get as far as the quarter finals, namely Kuznetsova.

But Maid Melanie would get no chance to slay that final Russian dragon.  Instead, Kuznetsova was booted out of the tournament in the fourth round by a lower-seeded Danish player.  With eight of the tournament’s 32 seeds, Russia did not get one single player into the quarter finals.

In other words, yet again the so-called “dominant” Russian women faced a new low in the annals of brutal humiliation on the tennis court before the gaping eyes of a slack-jawed world.

If there was any consolation to be found for Russia’s pathetic women, it may have been that Russia’s men were even more wretched.  Russia placed seven male players into the U.S. Open draw and only two of them made it past the first round. That’s right, five out of seven were eliminated in their very first match.  Only Mikhail Youzhny, who was eliminated in his second match, and Nikolai Davydenko, who quit in the middle of his fourth-round match, got past the first round.

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5 responses to “U.S. Open Recap: Another New Low in Russian Humiliation

  1. I think your notion that tennis “made its reputation on being civilized” is a bit of an overstatement and oversimplification, at least in the last 40 years or so. They all fight for money and nothing else, and so all kinds of excesses happen. I don’t need to remind how obnoxious Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe were in their day, and that was over 25 years ago! Boris Becker was pretty nasty, too, as I recall.

    But I have another question about this. I haven’t followed tennis that much lately, and from your description Russian women are inadequate, particularly Safina. If so, how come they have such high rankings, e.g., Safina being #1? How do they determine rankings? Is there an objective mathematical formula that does not take into account a player’s personality, nationality, etc.

    If so, how does Safina manage to remain #1 despite frequent losses that you often describe? Or is there anything involved, besides pure computation, in determining the rankings? I am curious

    LA RUSSOPOBE RESPONDS:

    Thanks for the question! We’ve actually explored this topic several times in the past. Safina is #1 because she plays far more tournaments than for instance Serena Williams, who has won two grand slam titles this year to none for Safina. Williams went head to head with Safina in Australia and crushed her, and Safina’s performance at the French Open was an even bigger embarrassment. Safina is gaming the system, much as is done more broadly in Russian society, one of the most corrupt on the planet, and that is why we feel tennis is a great metaphor for Russia.

  2. > Safina is #1 because she plays far more tournaments than for instance Serena Williams

    In 2009, Safina has played in 15 tournaments and won 3, while Serena – in 12 tournaments and won 2. Not much of a difference, is it?

    Let me understand: diligently playing in all tournaments and obeying all rules like do Safina and most other tennis players – is called “gaming the system”, while dissing one or two WTA tournaments the way Venus Williams does – that’s “respecting the system”? Well, I am glad that you think that Russia is behaving in world affairs as legally and respectfully as does Safina in tennis.

    As far as Williams sisters are concerned, the reason why they are not ranked number one is because they keep on losing to Safina and various other Russian and non-Russian girls. Here are their losses just in 2009:

    Serena:

    To Elena Dementieva L 6-7, 1-6
    To Sybille Bammer L 5-7, 4-6
    To Samantha Stosur L 2-6, 6-3, 2-6
    To Svetlana Kuznetsova L 6-7, 7-5, 5-7
    To Francesca Schiavone L 4-6, Retired
    To Patty Schnyder L 2-6, 6-2, 1-6
    To Klara Zakopalova L 4-6, 6-3, 1-6
    To Victoria Azarenka L 3-6, 1-6
    To Elena Dementieva L 3-6, 1-6

    Venus:

    To Kim Clijsters L 0-6, 6-0, 4-6
    To Kateryna Bondarenko L 6-1, 5-7, 4-6
    To Flavia Pennetta L 6-7, 4-6
    To Marion Bartoli L 2-6, 7-5, 4-6
    To Agnes Szavay L 0-6, 4-6
    To Alisa Kleybanova L 3-6, 6-3, 5-7
    To Dinara Safina L 7-6, 3-6, 4-6
    To Sabine Lisicki L 4-6, 6-7
    To Carla Suarez-Navarro L 6-2, 3-6, 5-7

    And that’s just in year 2009!

    Overall, Safina’s record in 2009 is 52 – 12, while Serena’s is 38-10, and Venus’ is 32-10. So, the Williams sisters lose almost as many matches as does Safina. They just don’t win nearly as many as Safina, because they usually lose to some unknown inferior players in the early rounds.

    > Safina’s performance at the French Open was an even bigger embarrassment

    Yes, Safina lost to her fellow Russian Kuznetsova in the Final, but Williams was defeated by same Kuzntsova back in the quarterfinals,

    And please don’t ban me again, as you did last time I defended Safina and Sharapova, when you even deleted my post.

  3. A better comparison between Russia and USA would be to compare their respective national hockey teams. Russia is the current 2-in-a-row world champion and homeland to the two best players in the World: Ovechkin and Malkin. USA is presumable a hockey power with 6 times more players (435,737 vs. 77,202) and maybe 100 times more hockey rinks than Russia, but it cannot win anything when playing anywhere outside of USA. It finished in the 8th place at the last Olympics in 2006, with fellow Canada finishing 7th. The only thing that US players can accomplish when playing outside of USA is create international scandals with their childish, screw-the-rest-of-the-world, sore-loser, lie-through-your-teeth behaviour (so typical of the US foreign policy too), for example after their loss in the quarterfinals of the 1998 Olympics:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_hockey_at_the_1998_Winter_Olympics

    US men’s hotel vandalism

    An unknown number of players on the U.S. men’s hockey team trashed their rooms at the Olympic athlete’s village on February 19 morning, after they were eliminated from the Olympic tournament by losing to the Czech Republic 4-1 about 10 hours earlier. Ten chairs were broken, and three fire extinguishers were emptied inside three apartments. Six of the chairs and one of the fire extinguishers were then thrown from the fifth floor into the courtyard below. One door was dented, as were several walls. Floors and beds were also damaged. No one has ever confessed and no one has ever been punished. “That wasn’t anything,” thundered U.S. assistant coach Lou Vairo. “Who hasn’t broken a few chairs? I bet you guys [the media] have busted some furniture when you see the wife’s credit card bill at the end of the month.”
    —————————-

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26350721/page/3/

    The world’s worst hotel guests

    14. 1998 U.S. Men’s Hockey Team
    Rock stars are expected to perpetuate a certain degree of chaos, but Olympic athletes are better known for early bedtimes. Of course, this doesn’t apply to NHL players, who were admitted to the Games for the first time in 1998. On the night the U.S. team lost to the Czech Republic in the Nagano games, they presumably spent the night partying before returning to their hotel room inside the Olympic Village. The Associated Press reported that they allegedly broke ten chairs, emptied three fire extinguishers in the room, dented a door, and threw a bunch of the chairs and fire extinguishers into a courtyard below. But perhaps it was all just an accident, as team member Jeremy Roenick tried to claim. “The chairs and furniture that we had were definitely not made for NHL players,” he told the Chicago Tribune at the time. “The chairs would fall apart right there, just sitting on them.” After which they would levitate and launch themselves out of a window. Right.
    ———————————–

    http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-4428123.html

    Hockey brats’ silence adds to U.S. shame
    Chicago Sun-Times
    March 12, 1998
    You can hear them giggling and tee-heeing already, like sneaky brats in a backyard treehouse. The little boys of the U.S. Olympic hockey team – a k a the Village Idiots, Team Kirin, the Nightmare Team – sense they’re starting to weasel out of their international mess.
    ————————

  4. Looks like Serena has lost again. Why can’t high-ranked Americans win on home court? Maybe we should rename this “US Open” tournament into “European Closed”? :-)

  5. LR wrote:
    > Safina is gaming the system, much as is done more broadly in Russian society, one of the most corrupt on the planet, and that is why we feel tennis is a great metaphor for Russia.

    Yes, honest, diligent and law-abiding Safina, whose personality is loved and respected by the entire tennis world, is indeed a good symbol of Russia and the Russian culture.

    > ..Serena Williams…

    Yes, Serena Williams is indeed a good symbol of USA and the American attitudes, with infantile cheapness, total disrespect for international law and total inability to take defeat with dignity:

    —————————
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2009/sep/13/serena-williams-tirade-us-open

    Serena Williams, who lost both her temper and her US Open semi-final against Kim Clijsters on Saturday, was last night fined $10,500 (£6,300) and faced with the possibility of suspension for her profanity-laced tirade against a lineswoman who called a foot fault against her.

    “I swear to God I’ll f*cking take the ball and shove it down your f*cking throat.”

    Even John McEnroe, who is no stranger to controversy, or indeed bad language, suggesting yesterday that Williams should be suspended.

    However, taking such a step against the most high-profile figure in the women’s game would require a boldness, not to mention a bravery, that most observers believe is beyond the tennis authorities. [Exactly like in politics, as the UN didn’t have the balls to suspend the dominant USA when it broke international law by committing un-approved aggressions agasint Yugoslavia and Iraq, and as the Haague Tribunal for Crimes Agaisnt Humanity refusded to consider prosecuting NATO officials for their crimes in Yugoslavia].

    Afterwards, she was unrepentant: “An apology from me?…. [just like USA]

    Williams, who had been outplayed for most of the match… [just like USA]… she had started as a clear favourite but after losing the first set 6-4, the American’s exasperation was obvious as she threw her racket at the court

    http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/news?slug=ap-usopen-swilliams&prov=ap&type=lgns

    The official also said Williams used the word “kill.” [Threatening to kill judges: how American! Remember how USA bombed the Belgrade TV station to shut up its freedom of speech, killing about 16 TV employees, and later sent cruise missiles and slaughtered 3 Chinese journalists in their Belgrade embassy?]

    That’s when Williams walked over and said to the line judge: “Are you scared? Because I said I would hit you? I’m sorry, but there’s a lot of people who’ve said way worse.” [Americans, I presume?]

    —————————

    > U.S. Open Recap: Another New Low in Russian Humiliation

    **Russian** humiliation? Not American? LOL.

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