Friday, July 31, 2009

July 31, 2009 - Bank of the West is VERY LEGIT.

Greetings friends and tennis fans,

Thank you ladies and gentleman for taking part in this the first Daily Dose post of my career. Somehow I feel that this could be the beginning of a long and beautiful relationship. I'm not even considering any other possibility, as a matter of fact.

I'm here to talk about tennis though, so I'll do my very best to skip the unnecessary histrionics and get to the moving and shaking.

Yesterday was quite a busy day on the courts, with action in 5 cities highlighted by the highly competitive Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, California.

It was, as expected, a Williams sisters clinic, with the powerhouse sisters each advancing to the semi-finals in straight sets. While Serena had to face a set point against Melinda Czink of Hungary, she was able to activate her incredible magical powers and wiggle out of trouble before things became tense.

No. 2 seeded Venus, also victorious, will go toe to toe with Maria Sharapova tomorrow in the match that will probably draw the most interest.

And 'Pova-Venus won't be the only enticing item on the ticket — The BOTW has done a great job of bringing 4 top-10 and 8 top-20 players to the draw, so it's not just toting the Williams siters and a bunch of sheep.

But Sharapova, currently ranked 62nd in the world (while early in her comeback from shoulder surgery), brings an element of mystery and glamour to the affair. Even though her ranking has slipped since her absence, the 6'2" Muscovite oozes star-power even when she's not at the top of her game.

With the way Maria cleaned Nadia Petrova's clock last round, fans at Stanford can expect more than a nice ensemble and a lot of high pitched squeals from Maria. No, this match has the potential to be a real rock-n-roller. The two haven't met since 2007, and Venus holds the edge 3-2 in their 5 previous meetings.

Serena Williams vs. Sam Stosur, Jelena Jankovic vs. Marion Bartoli, and Elena Dementieva vs. Daniela Hantuchova round out the quarterfinal round. There isn't a match there that doesn't excite me. Check your pulse if you don't agree.

L.A. Tennis Open:

This thing is shaping up pretty nicely as well. With Safin squeaking by Gulbis in the 2nd round, we now have ourselves a hunkadelic match between battle proven vets Tommy Haas and Marat Safin. And it's just not hunkiness that these two bring to the table. They both play a remarkably picturesque and visually stunning brand of tennis. Visceral and improvisational are two words that come to mind. And while neither is over the hill by any means, they both seem to emanate a sort of old-school flair when they play these days (think dangerous and more classical versions of the legend Fabrice Santoro).

They've played 6 matches to date, with Haas holding a 4-2 edge. They've met 3 times in Slams, and 2 times in Masters events. Haas has won the last two (their last match being played in '06) .

But h2h's and statistics don't do these guys any justice - you can't sum up what these two heavyweights collectively mean to the sport without getting a little sentimental and a little fired up to see them do battle at this phase of their careers. Think about it: The beautiful and elegant one handed backhand of Haas. The angry two-hander of Safin that he paints the lines with so majestically at times.

We've all seen Safin and Haas at times when they've looked almost otherworldly. And they both play such a poetic brand of tennis - from the heart, and with gusto. Each has this swagger, this physical cockiness, this je ne sais quoi that comes with possessing the ability to utterly dominate an opponent while simultaneously being relaxed and performing the subconscious form of dancing that is proper tennis.

The fans in L.A. should consider themselves very blessed.

The other 3 QF's all feature Americans: Querrey will take on Dudi Sela in a match of complete physical opposites. Querrey at 6'6" better be ready, because the diminutive Sela has been on a roll ever since Wimbledon.

Mardy Fish, who lost in last years semis to Juan Martin Del Potro, will face a less formidable but somewhat dangerous Leonardo Mayer who is also from Argentina.

And finally, monstrous John Isner will take on the Australian qualifier Carsten Ball.


With Gstad (Switzerland), Umag (Crotia), and Istanbul (do I need to tell you?) all going on overseas, The Fan Child is gonna ask you to click on your WTA and ATP websites and get hip to everything that is going on in the world of tennis. I need to spend some time sniffing my pillow.

Thanks for reading!