Monthly Archives: May 2010

The WTA Returns to San Diego

French Open - Roland Garros 2008 Day Fourteen

The last time I went to a WTA event in San Diego was the last time a WTA event was held in San Diego – the fall of 2007. The tennis world’s relationship to gambling had just blown up after online betting site canceled all bets on a match between Nikolay Davydenko and Martin Vasallo-Arguello because it had all the earmarks of a fixed match.

The ATP never managed to proved match fixing because they couldn’t connect either of the players to a gambler, and the event in San Diego was canceled partially because – as I remember it – the residents of the tony La Costa Resort and Spa didn’t appreciate the intrusion of all that traffic, they had enough already with the yearly PGA golf event.

Fast forward to 2010 and now it’s Los Angeles that will lose its WTA event at the Home Depot Center only to relocate to San Diego. The Home Depot Center was an awful place for a tennis tournament by the way, more cement that you could possibly imagine and just not very much atmosphere. The media hordes were relegated to a dark underground area that let out onto a dirt field that was all dug up and grooved for the X Games motocross competition. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that Los Angeles was a Tier III event while San Diego used to be Tier I so the new event in San Diego will be smaller, though I must have been wrong about that traffic problem because once again it’s at the La Costa resort. Tier III and IV events are now referred to as International and even though it’s a lower level event, it’s still part of the U.S. Open Series that runs up to the U.S. Open and, so far, Ana Ivanovic, Dinara Safina, and Svetlana Kuznetsova have signed up.

We’ll see if they really turn up when July 31st rolls around but at least the event has a title sponsor and that’s a good thing. Mercury Insurance Group has signed up and the event will now be known as the Mercury Insurance Open. If you want to go and see a beautiful spot and see some pretty good tennis players, check out the tournament website. See you there.

The Quisner Twins and Federer Turns Into Sampras


The overall feel I get from the world of tennis at the moment is upheaval or, to put it another way, changes we thought would come have arrived.

Federer has had an awful spring, Andy Murray even worse (not a change we expected but I’m getting there), Rafael Nadal is back to winning on clay only, Novak Djokovic is still getting sick, and Ernests Gulbis is finally moving up the ranks.

Gulbis could have gone either way. He could have ended up as a joke after being busted for soliciting a prostitute in Sweden late last year or he could have realized that he’d better change his ways instead of fooling around. And I don’t mean that as a sexual innuendo. Gulbis admits that he wasn’t a hard worker. Think about how much ego that takes. Here was a young player who thought he could stay on tour without working as hard as everyone else. Especially when you watch these interminable battles on clay. Granted it’s not the same as going down a mine and digging out the side of a mountain day after day but it does require supreme conditioning.

Gulbis started off by losing his first service game to Albert Montanes in Madrid today then won the first set 7-5 and finished Montanes off 6-1 in the second after Montanes hurt his groin. I love Montanes’ Roscoe Tanner serve by the way. I wish more players had the nerve to toss the ball short and smash it. Imagine if one of the brawnier players took up that serve – Marcos Baghdatis? He could kill with it. (For obvious reasons I should have said stocky in Baggy’s case instead of brawny.) Robin Soderling’s toss is so high I have a hard time not flipping channels during his service motion.

And then there’s Quisner – U.S. tennis’ two headed tallness of Sam Querrey and John Isner. Someone please tell me how this duo got to the final at last week’s event in Belgrade? That’s a change no one saw coming.

Belgrade was a small event but Querrey beat Igor Andreev, a fair clay player, and Isner beat both Richard Gasquet and Stanislas Wawrinka who are much more than fair on clay. Querrey won the title in Belgrade and both guys are into the second round in Madrid.

I would argue that the U.S. has produced tennis twins before. John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors were two sides of the same coin. While their styles were very different, both were incredibly ill mannered and notorious for using those ill manners in any way necessary to win a match. McEnroe may have acted out of a sense of privilege while Connors acted as if his opponent was stealing food off his plate, but this was as much a matter of parental training as it was childhood circumstances.

McEnroe and Connors were fraternal twins while Querrey and Isner are identical. Not only identical to each other but veritable clones of Andy Roddick. And that’s a bit disappointing. The rest of the world is turning out athletic all court players and the U.S. is still producing big servers. Unless some ground up cement was tossed in with the red clay at that event in Belgrade I protest too much, but I would have loved it if Donald Young had amounted to something with his touch and creativity and I’m still looking for a U.S. player like that today.

Back to one of those expected changes. Federer appears to be turning into late career Pete Sampras before our eyes. In the three seasons from 2000-2002, Sampras won three events: Miami, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. That gave him 14 slams and that ain’t bad. If Federer won two more slams in the next three years he’d have 18 and that would be unbelievable.

I’m wondering what text message Pete and Rog might be sending back and forth as Sampras’ late career tutoring takes hold:

Dammit Pete, first I lose to Baghdatis for the first time ever and now I lose to Berdych who hasn’t beaten me since 2004. This is killing me!

Rog, Uh, hello? Isn’t the next slam on clay??? Who cares about Indian Wells and Miami. Just keep your muscles warmed up till the big stuff on clay happens ok? Besides, you don’t want to wear yourself out do you?

Hello yourself Pete, losing to Ernests Gulbis! Didn’t he start the year at like number 90?

Rog, Rog, it’s Rome. Clay warmup. Don’t worry buddy.

Pete, It’s tiny Estoril and Montanes is older that I am. This is embarrassing!

Rog, you got to the semis didn’t you? Everything’s right on schedule for Paris, defending champ.

Or something like that anyway. While I think Rog can wake up in time for Paris, Soderling is unlikely to take out Rafael Nadal this year so it probably won’t matter. As for the U.S. Open let’s check back in July.