Part I: Russian Tennis by the Numbers
Tournament victories in 2007 by Russia's top-ranked male player,
world #4 Nikolay Davydenko.
Tournament victories in 2007 by America's top-ranked male player,
world #5 Andy Roddick.
Tournament victories in 2007 by Russia's top-ranked female player,
world#2 Maria Sharapova. Zero grand slam titles.
world #9 Serena Williams, including the Australian Open grand slam title.
Conclusion: The top Americans have four times more titles this year than the top-ranked Russians, and a grand slam to boot. Roddick is 4-0 lifetime against Davydenko and Williams is 4-2 lifetime against Sharapova, including all three of their last three matches.
The Moscow Times is one of the greatest resources on Russia we know to exist, but they sure have a ridiculous blind spot where Russian tennis is concerned, echoing the stupid views of the crazed Russophile contingent in a naked effort to curry favor with their host nation. Quoting Reuters, the paper reported on September 5th under the headline "Strong Russian Showing at the U.S. Open" the following gibberish: "Maria Sharapova may be out of this year's U.S. Open, but the way Svetlana Kuznetsova and Anna Chakvetadze are playing, there's still a good chance that a Russian will end up claiming the women's singles title." The paper chose (as many do, which is one of the reasons we cover tennis) to ignore the amazing softness of the lower half of the U.S. Open draw and the pathetic nature of the opposition faced by Kuznetsova and Chakvetadze to that date in the tournament. It also chose to ignore that Kuznetsova has not won a single tournament all year except by having three of her four opponents default. Meanwhile, the Times chose not to report, for instance, how Russia got its ass kicked by the United States at the World Gymnastics Championships and, as we previously reported, at the World Track & Field Championships. Shame on them.
In the actual match between Kuznetsova and Chakvetadze, who only had to face three seeded players combined in their prior ten matches before reaching the semi-finals, the TV commentators scoffed repeatedly at the wretched Russian play. "This is brutal" was the phrase favored by commentator Mary Carilllo as she watched Chakvetadze serve at less that 50% in the first set and yet win it easily, while the higher-ranked Kuznetsova committed a shockingly pathetic number of ridiculous errors. Commentator Patrick McEnroe called it "a horrible match." Well over half the 148 points played, 81, were resolved by unforced errors. The stadium was silent as the unlucky saps who paid big bucks to watch the match gaped in horror at what might as well have been two high school students flailing away. Kuznetsova handed the first set to Chakvetadze by double-faulting on set point, whereupon Chakvetadze promptly handed the second set to Kuznetsova, winning only one game. By the beginning of the third set, Kuznetsova had struck twice as many unforced errors as winners, and Chakvetadze was even worse -- three times as many. Serve had been broken nearly a dozen times. Chakvetadze played no better in the third set, handing the unworthy Kuznetsova a free pass to the finals.
Going into the finals, it was worth remembering that only one Russian player has ever won a grand slam title by beating a non-Russian -- and the Russian who did that was trained entirely in the United States and lives there full time. Kuznetsova made it to the finals only because she got to play another Russian in the semi-finals, and it's worth noting that Kuznetsova spends most of her time in Spain, where she learned much of her game. She speaks Spanish fluently. She was, of course, blown off the court by Belgian Justine Henin in a totally non-competitive laugher of a match, in crazy-easy straight sets, leaving every fan who paid big bucks to attend feeling cheated and empty. Anyone who watched the match could not but be embarrassed by the simply stupid statements published by the Moscow Times about Russia's prospects (disgracefully, the paper did not report Kuznetsova's drubbing in its Monday edition, much less acknowledge its prior statements).
We've said before and will say again that Russians are destroying the women's tennis game as it's been known to date. Nobody in their right mind wants to watch them play. Everyone knew that the "real" final of the tournament was being played in the other semifinal match, between Henin and Williams.