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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.