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

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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that’s a wrap! Roland Garros 2012

Women’s Singles – (2) Maria Sharapova d. (21) Sara Errani 63 62

Maria Sharapova cemented her place among the all-time greats by winning her first Roland Garros title, and completing the career Grand Slam. She is the only woman to complete the career Grand Slam by winning her fourth major title.

“It’s a wonderful moment in my career. I’m really speechless. It’s been such a journey for me to get to this stage. ‘I could have said, ‘I don’t need this. I have money; I have fame; I have victories; I have Grand Slams.’ But when your love for something is bigger than all those things, you continue to keep getting up in the morning when it’s freezing outside, when you know that it can be the most difficult day, when nothing is working, when you feel like the belief sometimes isn’t there from the outside world, and you seem so small,” said Sharapova. “But you can achieve great things when you don’t listen to all those things.”

Sharapova raced out to a *40 lead in the first set, overwhelming the first time finalist with a barrage of powerful and accurate groundstrokes. However, Errani found her footing in the match, and began to play the style of game that had brought her so much success on clay in 2012. The Italian pulled to within one service break, but Sharapova allowed her to get no closer, finishing strong to take the set. While the Italian began to play better in the second set, Sharapova proved too strong, again getting out to a *41 lead. Errani managed to break Sharapova in a marathon game, but surrendered her serve again soon after. Despite saving two championship points with perfectly executed forehand drop shots, Errani could not save a third as her backhand drop shot attempt failed to reach the net. In perhaps the most amusing moment of the match, the two shared a laugh when the stadium public address announcer incorrectly called for Sharapova to come forward as the runner-up, and Errani raised her arms in mock triumph. By virtue of reaching the final, Sharapova also claimed the #1 ranking for the first time since 2008.

Sara Errani didn’t go home without a champion’s trophy, however. She and fellow Italian Roberta Vinci took home their first Grand Slam title, defeating the Russian pairing of Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova 46 64 62.

Men’s Singles – (2) Rafael Nadal d. (1) Novak Djokovic 64 63 26 75

In a rain delayed two-day final, Rafael Nadal won his seventh career title at Roland Garros, surpassing Bjorn Borg’s record for all-time career titles on the red clay of Paris. He denied Novak Djokovic both the career Grand Slam, and the chance to become the first man since Rod Laver to hold all four major titles at once. Nadal improved his record at Roland Garros to a near-spotless 52-1.

”This tournament is, for me, the most special tournament of the world,” Nadal said. ”It was a very difficult match against the best player in the world. ‘I lost three Grand Slam finals – Wimbledon, the U.S. Open last year, and the Australian Open this year. I’m very happy, very emotional.”

Nadal jumped out to an early *30 lead in the first set, courtesy of some erratic play from the World #1. While Djokovic hit back, winning three straight games, Nadal regained his advantage in the seventh game, breaking Djokovic’s serve off of a double fault. After closing out the first set in just under an hour, Nadal gained an early advantage in the second set, and after holding serve for 53*, play was suspended the first time due to rain. When the players returned to court just over a half an hour later, Nadal broke Djokovic easily to wrap up a two set advantage. It looked as though Nadal would run away with the match when he gained an early break advantage in the third set, as conditions worsened due to rain. Djokovic went on an unprecedented run, winning eight straight games to take the set and claim an early break in the fourth. The match was suspended again, and Nadal was displeased with tournament officials for allowing play to continue as long as it had. When they returned to the courts Monday, Nadal broke back immediately, and the match went with serve until *56, when Djokovic double faulted to hand Nadal the title.

Top seeds Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor took home the men’s doubles crown, defeating second seeds Bob and Mike Bryan 64 64. The Bryan brothers were looking to break Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde’s record for all-time career Grand Slam titles. Sania Mirza and Mahesh Bhupati took home the mixed doubles title, defeating surprise finalists Klaudia Jans-Ignacik and Santiago Gonzalez, 76(3) 61.

Five Things to Take Away from Roland Garros 2012

1. The Big Four? Try the Top Two. Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal once again proved their superiority over the rest of the field this fortnight. The two, along with Roger Federer and Andy Murray, have been dubbed “The Big Four” on the ATP Tour. It’s becoming more apparent that “The Big Four” is a myth; Murray is rapidly falling back to the pack, and as evidenced by his semifinal performance against Djokovic, Federer is having more difficulty keeping up with the top two even when they aren’t at their best. Federer hasn’t won a major title since the 2010 Australian Open.

2. “MARIA SHARAPOVA IS BACK!!!!111oneone!” No, Maria Sharapova never left. When Maria Sharapova returned from shoulder surgery in 2009, few expected her to be the same player. Sharapova’s fighting qualities were never in doubt, and it was always a matter of her game coming back together. Through all the double faults, unforced errors and shocking losses, she never stopped fighting. Sharapova’s game, and perhaps more crucially her confidence, stem from her serve, and it finally appears that it has returned to her. We’ve grown accustomed to seeing the Russian’s serve desert her in the crucial moments, but not anymore. Sharapova won an average of 70% of her first serve points for the tournament, and her confidence in her serve was evident in both her semifinal against Petra Kvitova, where she served a second serve ace on match point, and in the final, where she served three aces in the final game to secure the title.

3. Hold up on that obituary for American women’s tennis. It’s long been asserted that once the Williams sisters retired, the future of American women’s tennis looked bleak. No one told these ladies. Christina McHale, ranked 29th, is the second highest ranked American behind Serena Williams and there is no one younger ranked above her. She played Li Na tough in the third round before falling in three sets. Teenagers Sloane Stephens and Lauren Davis made the fourth round and second round after qualifying, respectively. Veteran and newly minted citizen Varvara Lepchenko also made the fourth round, upsetting Francesca Schiavone and Jelena Jankovic, and cementing her status on the Olympic team. Only one American woman lost in a completed first round match, and that was Serena Williams.

4. You can’t keep a good (wo)man down. Let’s show some love to qualifiers Tommy Haas and Yaroslava Shvedova who both conjured up their vintage best during the fortnight. Haas, a four-time major semifinalist and former World No. 2, has been slowed by age and injury the past few seasons but deserves full credit for trying to fight his way back. After coming through qualifying, Haas downed Filippo Volandri and Sergiy Stakhovsky before falling to Richard Gasquet in four sets. Shvedova, who reached the quarterfinals of Roland Garros in 2010, repeated the feat this year – taking out Mandy Minella, Sofia Arvidsson, Carla Suarez Navarro and defending champion Li Na before falling to Petra Kvitova in three tough sets.

5. Unlike a fine wine, stars sour with age. Multiple WTA tour veterans are approaching a career crossroads with the Olympics on the horizon. Vera Zvonareva, who withdrew from Roland Garros prior to her first match, is facing a career-threatening shoulder injury. Russian Fed Cup captain Shamil Tarpischev says she will forgo surgery for the moment and try alternative therapy; Tarpischev says it’s likely she will not play at all until the Olympics. Jelena Jankovic, who dropped out of the top 20 for the first time since 2006, won ONE Tour-level match on the clay. Francesca Schiavone, who has been in poor form for the large part of the season, plummeted 15 spots in the rankings after failing to defend a finals showing at Roland Garros.

Roland Garros Final Preview: Cinderella Sara to Spoil Maria’s Date with Destiny?

l to r: First-time major finalist Sara Errani will be looking to spoil the party as Maria Sharapova looks to complete the career Grand Slam. 

July 3rd, 2004. Maria Sharapova, then just 17, stunned the tennis world by winning Wimbledon. The Russian stepped out, on the biggest stage in the sport, and announced to the world that she had arrived. She took home $888,211.

Who knows if Sara Errani, then also 17, was aware of Sharapova’s triumph. While fairly close to the lawns of the All-England Club geographically, she could not have been further away. The Italian had just been defeated by Goulnara Fattakhetdinova in the second round of qualifying at an ITF event in Cuneo, Italy. She pocketed $147.

Their careers have taken opposite paths since but exactly seven years, eleven months and six days later, they will play for a Grand Slam championship.

“I was in a position a few years ago where I didn’t quite know if I would ever be here again on this stage, playing professionally. And not just at that, but at a level to get to No. 1 in the world and a first Roland Garros final for me,” Sharapova said. “So a very special day, no doubt.”

Maria Sharapova came into Roland Garros on a high, having triumphed at two of the four major clay court warmup events in Stuttgart (d. Azarenka) and Rome (d. Li). The lone Grand Slam jewel missing from her resume, The stars have seemed to align this fortnight for Sharapova – with Williams’ shocking exit in the first round to Virginie Razzano, Sharapova was instantly anointed the favorite for the title. She’s played like it too. In the first three rounds, Sharapova dropped a total of five games, and her opponents hit a combined nine winners against her. In total, Sharapova was pushed to three sets just once, but came out on top in a gritty, error-strewn fourth round match against Klara Zakopalova. Sharapova will also return to the #1 ranking for the first time since 2008 on Monday, having needed to reach the final to do so. 2012 marks the first time Sharapova has reached the finals at Roland Garros, having previously made the semifinals in 2007 and 2011.

Sharapova’s Road to the Final:

R1: d. Alexandra Cadantu (ROU) 60 60

R2: d. Ayumi Morita (JPN) 61 61

R3: d. (28) Peng Shuai (CHN) 62 61

R4: d. Klara Zakopalova (CZE) 64 67(5) 62

QF: d. (23) Kaia Kanepi (EST) 62 63

SF: d. (4) Petra Kvitova (CZE) 63 63

“It’s not a question of believing or not believing,” Errani said. “I don’t think about that. I just think about playing. I just think about going on court and giving my all. And whatever happens, happens. I’ve never thought, ‘I can’t beat someone in the top 10.””

While Sharapova coasted through the bottom half, Errani was making waves on top. After making the Australian Open quarterfinals, Errani, like Sharapova, found her footing on clay early. The Italian picked up three titles in Acapulco (d. Pennetta), Barcelona (d. Cibulkova) and Budapest (d. Vesnina). Prior to this year, Errani had won a grand total of one match at Roland Garros. That win came last year, in a memorable first round match against American Christina McHale; the American led *50 in the final set before Errani rallied to win, 67(4) 62 97. Errani took advantage of a wide open top half, following the early exits of World #3 Agnieszka Radwanska, who lost in the third round to Svetlana Kuznetsova and World #1 Victoria Azarenka, who fell in the fourth round to Dominika Cibulkova.  She had previously been 0-28 against top 10 opponents before scoring back-to-back wins against #10 Angelique Kerber in the quarterfinals and #6 Samantha Stosur in the semifinals. Errani will debut in the top 10 herself on Monday, finishing no lower than #10 regardless of the result. She is also the first player since Kim Clijsters in 2003 to reach both the singles and doubles finals at Roland Garros; she and countrywoman Roberta Vinci will face Russians Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova on Friday.

Errani’s Road to the Final:

R1: d. Casey Dellacqua (AUS) 46 62 62

R2: d. Melanie Oudin (USA) 62 63

R3: d. (13) Ana Ivanovic (SRB) 16 75 63

R4: d. (26) Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 60 75

QF: d. (10) Angelique Kerber (GER) 63 76(2)

SF: d. (6) Samantha Stosur (AUS) 75 16 63

The final presents a contrast in styles; while Errani lacks Sharapova’s brute strength and power, she makes up for it in court craft and guile. The Russian will be looking to impose her will on Errani early, while the Italian will be looking to outmaneuver and draw out longer rallies with Sharapova. Both women will be looking to break serve often; Sharapova leads all competitors with 40 break points converted, with Errani close behind having converted 38. Sharapova has the clear edge in the serve department, having served 13 aces and her serve has topped out at 113 MPH. Errani, to her credit, has landed 79% of her first serves in six matches.

There is no head-to-head history between the two, as they have never faced. Sharapova will be looking to be the third Russian to triumph at Roland Garros, after Myskina in 2004 and Kuznetsova in 2009; Errani will be looking to repeat the 2010 triumph of countrywoman Francesca Schiavone.

Fed Cup Semifinals Preview

The Czech Republic are the defending Fed Cup champions, winning the 2011 title with a 3-2 score against Russia.

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.”