Petra Kvitova

Photo Op: Petra Meets the President

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So much for laying low.

Along with Barbora Zahlavova Strycova and Klara Koukalova, Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova met with Milos Zeman, the President of the Czech Republic, on Wednesday. According to Czech news agency Ceske Noviny, the president wanted to meet with Kvitova not only to celebrate her victory, but address controversial comments made by another politician shorty after her win at SW19.

According to Radio Praha, Czech Social Democrat (ČSSD) parliamentary deputy Stanislav Huml called Kvitova’s patriotism into question because she calls Monaco home for tax purposes.

“I think that we should all have a long and hard think about the fact that if someone leaves the Czech Republic and becomes a member of another state, then they should lose their Czech citizenship. Because I don’t know that the few percent less in taxes that she stands to pay in a country like Monaco deflects from the fact that perhaps the Czech Republic actually helped her achieve some of her success.” (Radio Praha)

But on Wednesday, Zeman voiced his support for the two-time Wimbledon champion.

“I know that as one of the successful people you are envied. One of the reasons for our meeting is that I would like to voice my support for you against the envious people.”I beg you to ignore them because they cannot do anything but envy.” (translation, h/t Ceske Noviny)

Fed Cup Posts Official Scorecards, Tennis Nerds Everywhere Rejoice (aka just me)

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I love Fed Cup for a variety of reasons. The team camaraderie, the endless drama and its ‘three times a year’ status makes it a unique experience compared to the grind of the tour. When reviewing the results yesterday, however, I discovered something that makes Fed Cup even more awesome. The Fed Cup website archived PDF, printed files of every match scorecard from the World Group Semifinals, World Group Playoffs and World Group II Playoffs.

After making my discovery, I freaked out about it on Twitter. A lot.

Those of you who read my blog or follow me on Twitter know about my penchant for anything officiating related, and I had never seen a scorecard from a professional match before. It’s obviously one of the things you’re taught at officials’ school, but it’s pretty cool it see it in practice.

One of the chair umpire’s numerous responsibilities in a match is to keep track of the official scorecard. The chair umpire records points, games and sets on a scorecard in a seemingly complicated series of shorthand markings. The chair umpire signs the scorecard at the end of the match and then delivers it without delay to either the chief umpire or the referee; it is taken as an official record of everything that occurred in the match. The failure of the chair umpire to sign and deliver the scorecard does not invalidate the match, making tennis different from the other scorecard sport: golf.

(An interesting anecdote: in 2008, Ivo Karlovic allegedly set the record (at the time) for most aces in a match at Roland Garros in a five-set, first round loss to Alejandro Falla. The official tournament statisticians gave Karlovic 39 aces; however, the chair umpire, Louise Engzell recorded only 35 on her scorecard. The previous record (to that point) of 37 was set by Andy Roddick in 2001. The tournament came to the conclusion that Engzell was correct and her card held more credibility than the tournament statistician, but he continued to be credited in certain circles with 39 aces, not 35. The official ATP statistics, taken from her scorecard, list him with 35.)

I received a lot of feedback on Twitter about scorecards and the majority of people that I heard from seemed to be confused as to how to read one. As a result, I’ve decided to take an official scorecard from this weekend’s Fed Cup tie and break it down step by step. I’ve chosen to break down Petra Kvitova’s 2-6, 6-2, 6-0 win against Sara Errani in the World Group Semifinals.

Basics

Before going to court, the chair umpire (here, Mariana Alves) is expected to fill out as much of the basic match information as possible, including the name of the event, player names, his or her name, first ball change and other relevant information.

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Following the coin toss, the chair umpire finishes the top portion of the scorecard by indicating who won the toss and the choice made. Here, Kvitova won the toss and elected to receive; had she deferred the decision to Errani, the ‘x’ would’ve still been next to Kvitova’s name, but the choice would’ve been written next to Errani’s.

Keeping scorecard marking to a minimum allows a chair umpire to keep play continuous and spend more time watching players, coaches, spectators, etc. for possible code violations and carry out his or her other responsibilities.

Game Scoring

Once the order of serve is established, the serving sequence is listed in the left-hand column of this particular format of scorecard. Kvitova chose to receive, so Errani is listed first and so on.

NOTE: This archived format is the digital version of the official scorecard that’s used by the ITF. In a paper scorecard, the server’s initials are placed on the left side correlating to the side of the court (usually the chair umpire’s right or left) that the serve is coming from. You can find that full scorecard here, but I’ve included parts of what it looks like here. I marked the “Server’s Side” column in red.

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For the serve, aces are marked with A’s, double faults with D’s and missed first serves with a small dot mid-line. A slash mark is placed in the the corresponding box to the player who wins the point. The score on the card is read just as the score is announced; the server’s points are marked in the top box (first), while the returner’s points are recorded on the bottom (second). In the first game, Errani held to 30 and was forced to hit second serves on both the 15-30 point and 40-30 point to hold. Therefore, the score progression was as follows: 0-15, 15-15, 15-30, 30-30, 40-30, Game Errani.

Screen Shot 2013-04-21 at 6.19.51 PMBreaks of serve are indicated by an ‘X’ through the game number in the column entitled GAME (see first scorecard) and are marked via a shaded box in the scorecard above. Errani broke serve in the second, fourth and eighth games of the first set, while Kvitova broke serve in the seventh. The start time and end time of the set, as well as the final score are noted accordingly.

Significant Events

Chair umpires are also required to make note of what are called “significant events’ on their scorecards. These include injuries and medical timeouts, bathroom breaks, cramps, toilet breaks and detailed information regarding code violations. These are particularly important for code violations, as they help in determining a player’s fine afterwards. Each of these statistics are recorded in the appropriate table on the official scorecard.

Screen Shot 2013-04-21 at 6.45.13 PMIn the Kvitova-Errani match, Alves issued a time violation to Kvitova at 2-3*, 40-30 in the second set. The violation is marked with the date, time, score and specific nature of the violation. Here, it is recorded under the scoresheet for the second set.

Screen Shot 2013-04-21 at 6.47.20 PMIn addition, both Kvitova and Errani took a bathroom break prior to the start of the final set. This was also archived accordingly.

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Conclusion

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At the end of the match, the winner’s name along with the final score are recorded separately. The time the match began, the time it ended and the duration of the match are all recorded by the chair umpire, who then signs the card and lists his or her certification.

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Fed Cup Finals Preview

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Czech Republic vs. Serbia: O2 Arena, Prague, Czech Republic

Czech Republic: Petra Kvitova, Lucie Safarova, Andrea Hlavackova, Lucie Hradecka (Sub: Klara Zakopalova)

Serbia: Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic, Bojana Jovanovski, Aleksandra Krunic

It’s that time of year again – the 2012 Fed Cup final is upon us. The 2012 edition will pit the defending champions, the Czech Republic against Serbia, who are making their first appearance in the Fed Cup finals.

The x-factor in this tie is Petra Kvitova. The World No. 8, who went 2-0 in the Fed Cup final in 2011, has had a somewhat disappointing year plagued by injuries and illness following her breakout year in 2011. Kvitova, who was forced to withdraw from the WTA Championships as defending champion after just one match with bronchitis, was not cleared to practice by her doctors until Wednesday. When healthy, Kvitova is a force indoors – her loss to Radwanska at the WTA Championships was her first loss on indoor hard courts in more than a year.

Due to the question marks surrounding Kvitova, much of the pressure for the hosts falls on the shoulders of Lucie Safarova. Safarova will open singles play on Saturday against Ana Ivanovic, who she leads 3-2 in head-to-head meetings. Safarova has won three straight matches against Ivanovic, the last coming in the quarterfinals in Sydney in January. Her head-to-head against Jelena Jankovic is a much different story, as the Serb hold a 5-1 advantage. It’s going to be crucial to Czech hopes for Safarova to get them off to a good start in the opening match.

The Serbian squad is not without their own issues. Ivanovic is entering the tie suffering from lingering right hip issues, an injury she sustained in her final tournament of the year in Moscow. Despite the injury, Ivanovic is coming off her best season in singles since 2008; she reached the quarterfinals at the US Open, her first appearance at that stage since winning Roland Garros in 2008. She will also finish the year ranked World No. 12, her highest ranking since dropping out of the top 10 in 2009. And Jankovic? Sometimes I wonder if Jelena is really a tennis player anymore. Jankovic did not win a title in 2012, nor did she make it past the fourth round at any Grand Slam. However, Jelena tends to show up for Fed Cup. She’s 3-0 in her Fed Cup matches this year, and was just awarded her second Fed Cup Heart Award.

If the tie comes down to the doubles, no doubt the Czechs would have the advantage. Hlavackova/Hradecka won the 2011 French Open title, and were runners-up at Wimbledon, the US Open and the Year-End Championships in 2012. They also took home a silver medal at the London Olympics, as they fell to the Williams sisters in straight sets. While Serbia has Krunic/Jovanovski listed on paper, Dejan Vranes could also go with Krunic/Jankovic. Hlavackova and Hradecka are the #3 and #4 doubles players in the world while Krunic is ranked #335 and Jovanovski is ranked #1067. Despite all odds, I think this rubber could be the most interesting of them all.

Regardless of her partner, Aleksandra Krunic has to see action at some point in this tie. The 19-year-old Krunic is a bit of a Fed Cup wonder; while she’s struggled in a sense to make her breakthrough on the WTA tour (she’s currently ranked 167 and made her first WTA quarterfinal in Baku this year, losing to….Jovanovski), she’s shone brightly when thrust into the pressure cooker of Fed Cup. What Krunic lacks in size, as she can’t be taller than 5’4”, she makes up for in heart and incredible doubles prowess. Her reactions are my favorite thing in tennis. Krunic and Jovanovski have vastly out-performed their doubles rankings in high-pressure Fed Cup situations. Observe.

Exhibit A: Krunic and Jovanovski led a Jankovic and Ivanovic-less Serbia past Canada in the 2011 World Group II Quarterfinal, securing Serbia’s place in the World Group Playoffs last year.

Exhibit B: Krunic (partnering Jankovic) singlehandedly saved two match points in what became a 26 75 97 win over Slovakia in the deciding rubber of the World Group Playoffs in 2011 on the road.

Krunic and Jovanovski also clinched victory for Serbia over Belgium in the 2012 World Group First Round with a 76(2) 46 61 win over Wickmayer/Van Uytvanck, also on the road.

If I’m Vranes, I’d go out on a limb and stick with Krunic and Jovanovski. Granted, they’ve never been in *this* big of a situation before, but the pair have clinched two ties for this team in the past 18 months. Considering Serbia is a huge underdog in the doubles rubber anyway, how can it hurt?

“She’s As Much of a Fairy Princess as I Am” – 2012 Wimbledon Players’ Party

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One of Wimbledon’s many glorious traditions is the annual WTA players’ party, which takes place on the Thursday before the tournament begins. There is no tennis to tear apart until Sunday, so we can slam the outfits instead! Presenting: Your Obligatory WTA Fashion Police Blog Post!

Petra Kvitova

The defending champion continues to shine when given the chance. After being thrust into the public eye following her Wimbledon win in 2011, the soft-spoken Czech has embraced her outer sparkle off the court.

Jelena Jankovic

As we know, the only reason why Jelena even bothers to play tennis these days is for extra spending money, clothes and parties. She can’t even do that right anymore.

Venus and Serena Williams

Venus and Serena’s fashion choices over the past decade have sometimes wowed us, and other times, have left us scratching our heads. Both opted for classic options, but the jury’s still out on the hair.

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova doing what Maria Sharapova does with commanding presence as always. She wouldn’t look out of place on a Hollywood red carpet. Bonus points for the shoes.

Victoria Azarenka

Azarenka, who also opts for casual looks at these events more often than not (yes, that debacle at Indian Wells excluded), sports a new layered hairdo to go with her trusty black leggings.

Caroline Wozniacki

If you’re experiencing deja vu, don’t fret! I am too. Wozniacki sported a similar off the shoulder black dress and up-do at last year’s players’ party. Stella, get the girl another look, stat.

Li Na

Take me to your leader. China’s first Grand Slam champion rocks the makeup and hair as always, but I do wonder if the dress picks up radio signals. Or at one time sustained alien life.

Ana Ivanovic

Ivanovic, unlike her compatriot Jankovic, never fails to disappoint. Although this picture does. The only negative of this dress was the fringed monstrosity on the bottom that I’ve spared you from seeing. Thank me later.

Agnieszka Radwanska

Radwanska rocking a simple, black floor length gown. Although, if I were her, I’d lose the number of Kuznetsova’s hair dresser.

Elena Vesnina

The Russian knocks it out of the park, and the dress really brings out her eyes. My winner for sure.

Fed Cup Semifinals Preview

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Russia vs. Serbia: Sports Palace “Megasport” – Moscow, Russia

 

Russia – Elena Vesnina, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Maria Kirilenko, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

Serbia- Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic, Bojana Jovanovski, Aleksandra Krunic

With the absence of World #2 Maria Sharapova, and World #10 Vera Zvonareva sidelined with an injury, Russia’s hopes for the tie lie with World #21 Maria Kirilenko. Kirilenko has had a quietly successful year in singles, highlighted by a runner-up finish in Pattaya City (l. to Hantuchova) and a quarterfinal showing in Indian Wells (l. to Sharapova). Somewhat shockingly, however, Russian captain Shamil Tarpischev has elected to leave her out of the opening day in singles. Instead, he will turn to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Svetlana Kuznetsova. Both, particularly Pavlyuchenkova, have not shown stellar form this year, and Tarpischev is taking a huge gamble on the opening day. Kuznetsova, a team stalwart, has played in 15 career Fed Cup ties and this is her second tie this year, having helped her team defeat Spain in the opening round. Russia also possess strong prowess in doubles, as Kirilenko is currently ranked #7 in the discipline. Elena Vesnina, currently ranked #11, has been ranked in the top 10 in doubles, and Kuznetsova has won two career Grand Slams in doubles, including at the Australian Open earlier this year partnering Zvonareva.

Serbia will have both their marquee players headlining their squad, as former World #1’s Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic will be playing their first tie this season. However, both are surrounded by question marks coming into Moscow. Ivanovic, who has experienced a resurgence in form this season, reached the fourth round at the Australian Open (l. to Kvitova). However, despite these successes, she has reportedly split with coach Nigel Sears. Jankovic, on the other hand, is far from her best form; despite reaching the semifinals in Copenhagen last week (l. to Kerber), she has lost in her opening round three times this season, including in Indian Wells and Miami. The burden will not solely be on the veteran’s shoulders, as youngsters Bojana Jovanovski and Aleksandra Krunic have already proven themselves capable of competing at the highest level in the team competition. The two rallied the team from 2-1 down against Belgium in the opening round earlier this year; Jovanovski won her 2nd singles match and then teamed with Krunic to clinch the deciding doubles tie.

Russia leads Serbia 3-0 in the career head to head, and the last meeting was a 3-2 victory for the Russians in the 2010 World Group first round.

Czech Republic vs. Italy: CEZ Arena – Ostrava, Cezch Republic

Czech Republic – Lucie Hradecka, Lucie Safarova, Petra Kvitova, Andrea Hlavackova

Italy - Roberta Vinci, Flavia Pennetta, Francesca Schiavone, Sara Errani

Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova will be leading the Czech squad at home against a veteran Italian team. Because of injury and illness, the World #3 has only played three matches since the Czechs defeated Germany in their opening match in the World Group in February. She has, however, won 27 consecutive matches on indoor hard courts, explaining the choice of surface and venue for the hosts. Safarova, a stalwart in the top 30 for the past few seasons, is coming off a run to the finals in Charleston (l. to Serena Williams) and has been in decent form to start the season. Kvitova and Safarova will be expected to play singles for the host nation, while defending French Open champions Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka are on tap for the doubles rubber.

Italy, the Fed Cup champions in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010, are in a state of flux entering the semifinals. Both Schiavone and Vinci have been struggling to find form this season, while Sara Errani has established herself as one of the breakout players of the 2012 season. Errani, a two-time title winner already on the WTA this season, also made the quarterfinals of the Australian Open (l. to Kvitova). Italian captain Corrado Barazzutti will have to rely heavily on Errani in this tie, as she has been tapped to play singles behind Francesca Schiavone. She and Roberta Vinci have also been selected for doubles; they have partnered for three WTA doubles titles this season, and were runners-up at the Australian Open.

The head-to-head is 4-3 in favor of the Czechs, however, Italy has won three in a row. The last meeting between these two teams came in 2012, where Italy swept aside the Czechs, 5-0 in the semifinals. “It will be good revenge,” Kvitova remarked about the tie. “Last time when played against them we lost 5-0, so it wasn’t really a good result and we have bad memories from this.”

(Photos & quotes: Fed Cup)