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.
Posted in neo-soviet failure, russia, sharapova, sports
Tagged Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Igor Kunitsyn, Maria Kirilenko, maria sharapova, Mikhail Youzhny, russia, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Vera Zvonareva
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.
Yeah, kinda sucks to be Russian. We feel you, Vera.
Those clever Russians had a little brainstorm for the major WTA Tour event in Miami, Florida, USA: What if, they thought, we put our #1 and #3 female players on the same doubles team. Has to be a good result, right?
When #1 Vera Zvonareva (world #3) and #3 Svetlana Kuznetsova (world #15) stepped on the court for their second match of the Sony Ericsson tournament, they were blown off the court with the greatest of ease by a Spanish team composed of players ranked a lowly #33 and #77.
Ouch. Back to the drawing board, Russians. Or maybe set fire to the drawing board and consider ping pong, or curling?
Then came the singles, where things got even uglier.
More spectacular Russian female failure on the tennis court to report. Surprise, surprise.
Russia placed seven seeds into the 32-seed draw at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California last week, but only one in the top 10 and only two in the top 15. Russia, you may have heard, is slipping.
And then it got worse.
Both of Russia’s two top seeds (#3 Vera Zvonareva and #11 Svetlana Kuznetsova) and three of its top four seeds (adding #17 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova) were blasted out of the major event before stepping on the court for their third matches. A fifth seed, #24 Maria Kirilenko, likewise lost her second match.
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.