Tag Archives: Australian Open

AUSTRALIAN OPEN: Venus Williams out Early Again. Losing Courageous Fight Not to Age, but to Health

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It is now just painful to watch Venus Williams. It used to be joyful. She can play as well as she ever did, but can’t do it two days in a row. Or two minutes in a row. Or, if she can, then you don’t know which two days, which two minutes.

She doesn’t either.

Williams lost in the first round of the Australian Open on Sunday, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 to Ekaterina Makarova. The easy narrative is that Williams is 33, and that all of the things that come with old age in tennis are now coming to her.

But it isn’t that easy. And that’s part of what makes it so painful watching someone who has meant so much to the game and done it so elegantly for so long.

Williams has completely modernized her game. Yes, at 33. Her serve and forehand don’t look the same as they used to.

She slaps at them now with a looping follow-through, rather than using the old, classic fluid arm movements. Her backhand is different, too. She was slicing forehands at times, mixing up shots. She hit dropshots.

She has never done any of this. Think of the want-to it takes to do it now, when she could so easily blame her slide on age, and on Sjogren’s syndrome, which causes fatigue.

“The last 12 months I have had issues,’’ she said after her match. “But this year, I definitely am looking forward to having a good run and feeling well.’’

It is typical of her to speak so vaguely about her health or injuries. She also said that health is a “factor for any professional athlete, so I don’t think I’m any different from anyone else.’’

This is a courageous fight she won’t even talk about. After watching that match Sunday, I’m convinced it’s the autoimmune disease that’s beating her.

Please read the rest of the column here


AUSTRALIAN OPEN: Victoria Azarenka Uses Cheap Trick on Sloane Stephens, Claims (Nervous) Choking as Medical Issue

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Technically, choking is only an injury, or medical emergency, if something is stuck in your throat. So the No. 1 women’s tennis player, Victoria Azarenka, on the verge of choking away her match Thursday, resorted to a cheap trick to beat American teen Sloane Stephens in the Australian Open semifinals.

Azarenka faked an injury, and walked off the court for 10 minutes for treatment. She says the injury was real. I’m calling B.S. She simply took a 10-minute vacation in air conditioning, leaving Stephens alone on the court in a crucial moment … just … sitting there … waiting.

The “injury’’ was supposedly for Azarenka’s chest and back, though she didn’t seem to remember that 15 minutes later, when asked after her 6-1, 6-4 victory why she had left the court.

“I couldn’t breathe, you know,’’ Azarenka told the on-court reporter. “That game, you know, I just had chest pain, like getting a heart attack or something out there. I just needed to make sure it’s OK cause I really couldn’t breathe.’’

What a terrible look for women’s tennis in a rare big match not involving a Williams sister.

Please read the rest of the column at FoxSports.com


AUSTRALIAN OPEN: U.S. TENNIS, R.I.P.

John Isner, now the best American player

And, poof, just like that, American tennis is gone. No, not just from the Australian Open, where the last American man standing, John Isner, lost before the first weekend of the year’s first major. US tennis is gone from the world map, too.

The top players have faded, and the bottom ones aren’t good enough. This is the moment US tennis has been nervous about for years:

Not one American man is good enough even to contend for a major championship. Forget Wimbledon. Forget the US Open. And only one woman, Serena Williams, is good enough. She will hide the problems in women’s tennis in the United States for a little while longer.

But the men? They are a vacuum.

It has been coming for years. John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors passed the baton to Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras, who passed it to Andy Roddick, who managed to win just one major. But still, he was a top player. And now? Roddick has crossed the finish line and put the baton on the ground somewhere. No one will take it. You want it? It’s yours.

Please read the rest of the column at FoxSports.com