Author Topic: WOMEN -- Australian Open 2013  (Read 8586 times)

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Offline medwatt

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Re: WOMEN -- Australian Open 2013
« Reply #200 on: January 24, 2013, 04:51:54 AM »
MELBOURNE, Australia -- Victoria Azarenka had reason to panic. She'd just squandered five match points on her serve at 5-3 in the second set, giving teenage sensation Sloane Stevens a slender rope to climb back into their Australian Open semifinal match.

The bigger question is whether Azarenka had a legitimate medical reason to leave the court while Stephens cooled her heels, hoping to make more inroads. Azarenka was evaluated first on court and then escorted off, delaying play for close to 10 minutes. Tournament officials issued word that Azarenka had requested treatment for separate left knee and rib ailments. Under the rules, two different injuries would enable a player to take two consecutive three-minute breaks -- although Azarenka later said she'd requested only one.

When Azarenka returned, she finished off Stephens -- whose serve abandoned her Thursday -- in quick fashion for a 6-1, 6-4 win and a chance to defend her Aussie title. But in an on-court interview shortly afterward, she made no mention of the physical problems cited as the rationale for the interlude.

"I almost did the choke of the year,'' a quavery-voiced Azarenka told Australian television. She left to muted applause from the crowd. Moments later, she told ESPN's Tom Rinaldi she had chest pain and couldn't breathe.

For some, what Azarenka did seemed like the dodge of the year, or at least this young season.

"This injury timeout rule needs to be thoroughly re-examined,'' ESPN analyst Patrick McEnroe said. "Leaving the court for any amount of time because of nerves is unacceptable.''

ESPN's Mary Joe Fernandez said she wished she'd been a fly on the wall to hear what Azarenka actually told the tournament doctor, but said what transpired looked like gamesmanship from her vantage point.

"You don't take an injury timeout for getting nervous,'' Fernandez said. "As a spectator, it looked like she was taking the time to regroup, catch her breath and try to settle down and get to a major final."

Yet Azarenka's comments in the immediate aftermath also indicated she didn't think she'd done anything wrong, Fernandez noted. "And ultimately, it was the tournament that allowed her to do it.''

The only mistake Azarenka would admit to was not calling the trainer when she said her back began to hurt in the second set.

"It was necessary thing for me to do,'' she said. "I just regret that I didn't take it earlier. ... It got to the point that it was pretty much impossible for me to breathe and to play.

"The timing, yeah, it was my bad. The game before that, when I lost my service game, it kept getting worse. I thought I would have to play through it and keep calm. But it just got worse. You know, I had to do it."

Azarenka said she had to "unlock my rib, which was causing my back problem. ... The trainer said, 'We have to go off court to treat that.' I just didn't really want to take off my dress on the court.'' She added that she misinterpreted the questions about her physical issues in her immediate postmatch interviews.

"You know what, I feel like it had to be explained, the situation," she said. "I understand the point of people maybe not understanding what I said; me not understanding what I've been asked. So I'm just glad that I'm here, you know, to make everything clear, and that's it.''

Whatever the questions raised of Azarenka's hiatus, she is on to a final against China's sixth-seeded Li Na, whose win was as straightforward as Azarenka's was theatrical. Li did unto Maria Sharapova as Sharapova had done unto others throughout this tournament, steamrolling her 6-2, 6-2.

It's rare that Sharapova is out of a match as soon as it starts. She was in defensive mode from the outset and characteristically didn't stop slugging but never looked comfortable.

Sharapova had lost only two service games and nine total en route to the semifinal, but Li cracked the code in the opening game of the match.

The 30-year-old from Wuhan, China, methodically preyed on Sharapova's second serve, winning 80 percent of the points played off it. Li's opponents have been known to get back into matches by waiting for her forehand to wobble, but that never happened -- in fact, Li showed some nifty spin from that side, another grace note courtesy of coach Carlos Rodriguez.

And Sharapova, as she readily admitted in her postmatch news conference, "didn't make Li think about anything.''

"She's playing really confident tennis,'' said Sharapova, who will slide down a notch in the rankings to world No. 3 next week. "I thought she played really well, probably the best she's played against me.''

Li has a balanced game but couldn't always back it up with sustained focus. Yet when she began working with Justine Henin's former coach, Rodriguez, in the middle of the 2012 season, he decided the path to better consistency was through building better legs.

Li has quipped several times that Rodriguez's rigorous regime -- four to six hours daily, evenly divided between hitting and hitting the gym -- made her doubt both his sanity and her own for submitting to it. But it's working.

"Starting this year, I try to cool down on the court,'' Li said. "Like Hollywood, you know. You don't have to show opponent what are you thinking. A little bit like Hollywood, but not real.''

The Azarenka-Stephens match began in the least cinematic way possible. Stephens was just 24 hours removed from an exhilarating upset of fellow American, five-time champion and third seed Serena Williams that also was disrupted by injury but far more competitive. The teenager's energy level appeared far lower Thursday and her serve, normally so effective, was broken by Azarenka in all but two games.

Stephens warmed up amid beastly hot conditions in the second set and won some points on her net game and forehand, but Azarenka was clearly the better player throughout and Stephens downplayed any pivotal significance of the timeout.

"I just did everything I could and came up a little bit short,'' said the 19-year-old Stephens, who said she and Azarenka are "pretty good friends" and noted they share the same agent. "I mean, I've had in the last match, the match before, medical breaks, go to the bathroom, the whole showdown. It was just something else, but it didn't affect anything, I don't think.

"I mean, when you take a medical break or timeout, obviously it's for a reason. ... Like if it was one of my friends, I would say, 'Oh, my god, that sounds like a PP, which is a personal problem.' Other than that, it's just unfortunate.''
« Last Edit: January 24, 2013, 04:54:46 AM by medwatt »
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Offline Gawdblessya

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Re: WOMEN -- Australian Open 2013
« Reply #201 on: January 24, 2013, 09:11:04 AM »
This "injury-time--to-calm-down" or "injury-time-to-break-the-other's-momentum" time-out is nothing new and WTA players have been using this frequently at every level, from Slam Finals all the way to the small ITF Future tournaments.  People will attack Azarenka now simply because she basically admitted to taking the time-out to regroup from the injury, but where were all these so-called experts and media people for the last 10+ years, beginning with the 2002 Australian Open finals between Capriati and Hingis who basically took injury and bathroom time-outs at will whenever the other got the momentum.  This problem is like a plague in women's tennis, and in almost half of the matches that I have seen in 2012 on the ITF Circuit tournaments, whenever a player loses the second set and faces a third and final set, it's almost automatic, she takes a time-out to go to the bathroom or fakes an injury time-out, usually it's back or shoulder, and the trainer will come and do a mock massage for a few minutes  (I would have no problem with the need to go to the bathroom - but when it happens at the end of the set regularly and initiated by the one who just lost the set, that's something else). 

One good thing that could come out of this is that perhaps Azarenka's "lesser" hypocracy will trigger some sort of pressure on the WTA to do something about this ridiculous rule.  Because if she basically lied like all women's players who have regularly pulled this trick for over 10 years now, there would be no reaction, and WTA would have kept turning a blind eye to it (just like the tennis media personalities who are blowing smoke since the match ended, where were they until today?  I don't remember Brad Gilbert or Pam Shriver attacking any other player who did exactly what Azarenka did).  Azarenka did what we have been seeing regularly, the only difference is that she unintentionlly publicized the general hypocracy with her interview statements. 

I am guessing that if she begins to take some heat during the press conference or in the next several hours, all of a sudden the official story will change to "back injury" or "irregular breathing" etc. to make it legit and at the same time, save WTA's behind.

Mertov  - Interesting comment.
Your point that Azarenka should not be taken to task because other players use the MTO "tactically" too, is understandable, but I disagree it.  Thieves get away with robbery all the time, does it mean we let off those who get caught?  Whilst admission of guilt should be taken into account, the act of the theft is still a crime.
 
But I do agree that the governing bodies should ensure that the rules are applied consistently.  And the media & commentators should be consistent in their vilification, but I'm not holding my breath.  The lack of teeth in challenging such behaviour is as much to blame as the behaviour of those who break the rules.  There is a symbiotic relationship in this dynamic.

If a blind eye is turned to the behaviour just because someone, in this case Azarenka, is honest about it, a third element to the dynamic arises, effectively giving players an even weaker incentive to stick to the rules.

The WTA / ATP is effectively a joke on this & several other issues.  Those players who try to behave with integrity are put in an intolerable position if the world ends up glorifying champions who have little or no such integrity.

It is therefore not just about the consistency of application of the rules, but of whether the existing inconsistency leads to an unfair advantage such that acts to the opponents detriment.  Given this, both the application of the rules / penalties for breaching rules & the success of players come under question.  Where does that leave the sport?

As for Stephens, she has discharged her efforts with honour here & I hope she'll keep improving. 

Well done to Na Li for getting to the final.  I hope she'll beat VA. And if necessary, take an MTO if it helps her do so. After all, it seems everyone is doing it, so where's the problem? 
   

« Last Edit: January 24, 2013, 09:14:26 AM by Gawdblessya »
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Offline euroka1

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Re: WOMEN -- Australian Open 2013
« Reply #202 on: January 24, 2013, 10:37:30 AM »
I was reminded of Roddick's seven minute bathroom break when he played Hewitt at the AO several years ago.
It didn't help.  :(

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Re: Re: WOMEN -- Australian Open 2013
« Reply #203 on: January 24, 2013, 11:06:54 AM »
I was reminded of Roddick's seven minute bathroom break when he played Hewitt at the AO several years ago.
It didn't help.  :(

Exactly. Since I started this conversation, let's go back to my original post: (gotta) love these tennis rules! My intent wasn't to turn this into a gender war for, as euroka and I have pointed out, the men make a farce of it, too.

Tennis has some of the dumbest rules and the most subjective interpretation of its rules of all the sports I've ever followed. Good thing the sport is greater than the sum of it's parts!


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« Last Edit: January 24, 2013, 11:07:47 AM by Babblelot »
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Offline Djokovic Champion

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Re: WOMEN -- Australian Open 2013
« Reply #204 on: January 25, 2013, 07:22:54 AM »
Azarenka is a best player than Na Li. She is the favorite to win the title, but them Williams and Sharapova lost, i believe in all.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2013, 01:12:42 PM by Djokovic Champion »

Offline Alex

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Re: WOMEN -- Australian Open 2013
« Reply #205 on: January 25, 2013, 07:54:17 AM »
Azarenka is a best player than Na Li. She is the favorite to win the title, but them Williams an Sharapova lost, i believe in all.
nope my friend, Li Na is 'a bestest player'  ://

Offline Djokovic Champion

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Re: WOMEN -- Australian Open 2013
« Reply #206 on: January 25, 2013, 01:14:26 PM »
Azarenka is a best player than Na Li. She is the favorite to win the title, but them Williams and Sharapova lost, i believe in all.
nope my friend, Li Na is 'a bestest player'  ://
Azarenka is a complete player, she is a best player than Na Li.

Offline Mertov

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Re: WOMEN -- Australian Open 2013
« Reply #207 on: January 25, 2013, 05:12:16 PM »
Hi Gawdblessya,

I agree with you on Azarenka.  I guess I did not express it well.  I certainly believe, like you, that she should be taken to task.  The part that bothers me is that somebody like Azarenka has to unintentionally (<-- underlined) be more honest than others so that everyone jumps at the opportunity to cry foul.  None of the so-called experts said a word although they knew that this has been a major problem in the WTA for a long time.  The only detail where I differ slightly from you is where WTA and ATP are equally guilty of this (and maybe you did not mean that anyway).  It is a much bigger problem in the WTA. 

There are many players in women's tennis who regularly take breaks after losing a set, or the second set, or even going down a break in the beginning of the third, etc.  Almost never after winning a set or when they have the momentum.  Just to give you an example, I witnessed a $25K ITF tournament in Belgium last fall, where the tournament director and the head trainer were having a conversation prior to the semifinals on how they were going to coordinate the trainer requirements when the girls were going to use that (they were not talking "if").  Sure enough, all four girls took bathroom breaks, or massage time-outs, and it always came at those moments where the other player had the momentum, typically after losing a set.  Luckily, they did not happen at the same time, but they had a second "certified" trainer (she was not, although I am sure she was able in her field, the club + tournament director brought one in from a local clinic, just in case).  And the players in the lounge were regularly joking with each other asking how their match went and when they knew who the other player was playing against, making jokes like, "did she take a bathroom break when you won the first/second set?".  It happens in men's tournaments too, but a lot less frequently than with the women. 

I also hope, like you, that Na Li will win the title.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2013, 05:57:56 PM by Mertov »

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Re: WOMEN -- Australian Open 2013
« Reply #208 on: January 25, 2013, 05:25:46 PM »
Rooting for Na Li as well! 

Good to see you around these parts Merv!
Good Luck on the Court!!!
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Offline Alex

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Re: WOMEN -- Australian Open 2013
« Reply #209 on: January 26, 2013, 02:57:23 AM »
what the heck is Azarenka wearing? she looks like a clown in that yellow skirt and black pants  :innocent:. really hoping that Li Na will spank this cheater's ars   :)&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;
« Last Edit: January 26, 2013, 03:04:28 AM by Alex »

Offline euroka1

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Re: WOMEN -- Australian Open 2013
« Reply #210 on: January 26, 2013, 03:47:53 AM »
what the heck is Azarenka wearing? she looks like a clown in that yellow skirt and black pants  :innocent:. really hoping that Li Na will spank this cheater's ars   :)&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;

Agree with that Alex. ..and no style whatever in that outfit.

Blind Freddie and his dog could tell on which side the crowd is!  :lmao:

Offline Alex

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Re: WOMEN -- Australian Open 2013
« Reply #211 on: January 26, 2013, 03:48:33 AM »
The crowd hates Azarenka, so funny  :rofl_2:.

Am I the only one watching this match? Li Na takes the first set. just awesome  :drinks:. not sure if Azarenka is planning to take a medical time out/bathroom break in the second set, but we'll find out.    :whistle:

Offline Alex

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Re: WOMEN -- Australian Open 2013
« Reply #212 on: January 26, 2013, 03:52:34 AM »
'morning Euroka, glad I'm not alone  :)

Offline euroka1

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Re: WOMEN -- Australian Open 2013
« Reply #213 on: January 26, 2013, 03:57:54 AM »
Li Na has a nastly fall. Looks bad.  :scared:

Edit: back in the game now with a taped ankle. wins serve but still down a break in the second.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2013, 04:05:44 AM by euroka1 »

Offline Alex

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Re: WOMEN -- Australian Open 2013
« Reply #214 on: January 26, 2013, 04:03:05 AM »
Li Na has a nastly fall. Looks bad.  :scared:
ouch, ouch ... I hope she'll be fine to finish the match. C'mon Li Na  :Boxing: :Boxing: :Boxing:

Offline euroka1

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Re: WOMEN -- Australian Open 2013
« Reply #215 on: January 26, 2013, 04:41:38 AM »
FIREWORKS TIME !!!  It's Australia day!
 :yay: :Fool: :lol-cry:
Tennis to one side. 

Commentator got in wrong. It is not the day that Australia was "discovered" but the date of the first white settlement. It is currently a contentious issue and there has been some talk about moving it to an ethnically more neutral date.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2013, 04:49:25 AM by euroka1 »

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Re: WOMEN -- Australian Open 2013
« Reply #216 on: January 26, 2013, 04:44:17 AM »
 :rofl_2: :rofl_2:
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Re: WOMEN -- Australian Open 2013
« Reply #217 on: January 26, 2013, 04:46:04 AM »
what the heck is Azarenka wearing? she looks like a clown in that yellow skirt and black pants  :innocent:. really hoping that Li Na will spank this cheater's ars   :)&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;

Agree with that Alex. ..and no style whatever in that outfit.

Blind Freddie and his dog could tell on which side the crowd is!  :lmao:

She is definitely the worst dressed on tour. But since she's with Nike, I guess she's told what to wear...
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Re: WOMEN -- Australian Open 2013
« Reply #218 on: January 26, 2013, 04:49:58 AM »
La la la la

walking Matilda
walking Matilda
won't you go walking Matilda with me...

 :harp: :uh:
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Re: WOMEN -- Australian Open 2013
« Reply #219 on: January 26, 2013, 04:50:31 AM »
Is half-time over yet???
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