The week of October 20th, Russia hosted a million-dollar ATP tennis tour event in St. Petersburg.
Showing how attractive Russia is as a venue, not one of the top three players in the world attended the event, and only two of the top 10 did so.
This left Russia with four of the eight seeds in the tournament, including its highest-ranked player Nikolay Davydenko as well as Mikhail Youzhny, Marat Safin and Dimitry Tursunov. Not one of them made it to the third round of the tournament.
Tursunov, world #26, was crushed in straight sets by an unseeded Slovakian in his first-round match. The Russian won only two of 14 games played. The other three (higher-ranked) Russians won their opening-round matches against their unseeded opponents, then were blown off the court in their second matches in easy straight sets. Davydenko didn’t even step on the court and handed his match over by forfeit. Safin won six games and Youzhny took nine in humiliating losses against their unseeded opponents.
Ouch. Only one top-ten non-Russian appeared in Putinland, and that player easily won the event over a non-Russian opponent.
As if things weren’t already bad enough for Russian sportsmen, Indian Vishy Anand raced out to a 6-3 dominating lead in the world chess championship, being contested in Bonn, Germany, over Russian star Vladimir Kramnik. With only four games remaining, that meant Kramnik had to win them all in order to take the title. Think he was able to do so?
And for the icing on this putrid cake, out came the New York Times with a story exposing the Potemkin fraud that is Russian professional ice hockey.
A Spanish judge is probing whether the Russian soccer team that won the UEFA cup earlier this year did so using mafia-fueled bribes. The sad thing about this is not the possiblity that the rumor is true, but how instantly credible it is that Russia could be involved in such activity. In fact, it’s not even a little bit surprising. ESPN reports:
Zenit St Petersburg manager Dick Advocaat has joined his club in expressing his dismay at allegations that the Russian club won the UEFA Cup by virtue of match-fixing.
Spanish newspaper El Pais claimed a judge had forwarded information to German prosecutors which claimed a gang with links to the Russian mafia had given money to Bayern Munich before their semi-final earlier this year.
The Russian definition of high is rather low
The Associated Press reports:
Track and field’s ruling body wants Ivan Ukhov to explain his conduct at the Athletissima meet in which rival high jumpers said the Russian had been drinking vodka and Red Bull during the competition. Ukhov failed with each attempt to clear the bar Tuesday before being asked to stop competing at the Swiss meet. Meet organizers refused to pay Ukhov’s expenses and have been asked to supply video evidence to the International Association of Athletics Federations. “We will for sure ask for an explanation from the athlete about his behavior and ask that it is not repeated in the future,” IAAF spokesman Nick Davies said in a statement. Alcohol is not classed as a performance-enhancing substance and is not formally prohibited in athletics competition. Ukhov was European Junior Champion in 2005.
Chips off the old Russian block
The Americans dominated their grand slam event in New York City last week. Serena Williams won the women’s title and seized the #1 world ranking, and Americans won the both the men’s and women’s doubles titles as well as the girl’s title.
No Russian player made the finals of any event in the tournament, and it might have been better if Novak Djokovic and Jelena Jancovic (shown above), who hail from Serbia, which Russians consider their “little Slavic brother,” hadn’t made the trip. If to judge by their shameful antics, Serbians have little regard for sportsmanship.
You know things are going rather badly for Russia’s female tennis players when they have the same number of representatives in the fourth round of a tournament as Russia’s woeful men do — and that’s exactly what occurred at last week’s U.S. Open tournament in New York City last week.
Writing in the Moscow Times columnist Georgy Bovt makes the point we made a week ago, namely that Russia failed miserably, by its own standards, at the Beijing Olympiad (it didn’t even play soccer, its men’s basketball collapsed in humiliating fashion, it was whipped head-to-head by the USA in men’s volleyball and women’s basketball, and it failed to produce a single memorable athletic performance). And then he explains why this happened, seeing a connection between the fact that Russia is a sick nation (its male population doesn’t reach age 60 on average) and its lame atheletic performance. A certain insane commenter who shall be nameless (because he is brainless) previously claimed nobody but LR could claim Russia had failed in Beijing, so although our mission is in fact to be far ahead of the curve on Russia, we admit to a special relish in publishing this post. We’d say nice try, dummy, but it wasn’t even close. Those who rationalize failure in Russia are its worst enemies. Those who call up on it to rise and meet challenges are its best friends.
With the Olympic Games over, we can now take a look at whether Russia achieved the status of athletic superpower. Unfortunately, our athletes did not fulfill the medals quota set by the president of the Russian Olympic Committee, Leonid Tyagachyov. Russia’s track and field athletes were the only ones to meet the quota, largely because a modern stadium was built in Irkutsk for them to train in before the games so they could adapt to the Beijing time zone.
Annals of Russian Sports Humiliation:
A Beijing Olympics Recap
In the months before the Olympics, as we’ve previously reported, Russia made news by winning a European basketball title and reaching the playoffs of a European soccer tournament. Russian fans celebrated as if some new sports era were dawning in Russia, ignoring the feeble nature of its match victories and the fact that their soccer coach was not even a Russian. We took due note of that fact, and wondered if Russia’s “victories” weren’t in fact nothing more than freak occurrences unlikely to be repeated.
So we hardly found it much of a surprise to learn that Russia wasn’t exactly able to keep a good thing going. At the Beijing Olympiad Russia didn’t even send a male or female team to the soccer events and its men’s basketball team went down to utterly humiliating defeat. Russia’s male hoopsters placed fifth out of six teams in their pool group, winning only one game in round-robin play and ahead of only lowly Iran. They ended up being ranked 9th of 12 teams in the competition, excluded from the medal round of competition and bested by the likes of Greece and China, ahead of the likes of Angola.
In other words, by the end of the games Russia appeared to be a total fraud in both the sports where it had claimed alleged glory just months before.
And there was more bad news — much, much more. In fact, that failure was only the tip of the iceberg.