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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.