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Monday, February 25, 2008

Annals of Shamapova: Slavic Carnage in Doha

Based on the Tier I tournament results from Doha, Qatar last week, it would appear that the hour of the Slavs in women's tennis has expired as quickly as it tolled:

World #2 Ana Ivanovic (seed #1) out in second match to non-top-15 Pole

World #3 Svetlana Kuznetsova (seed #2) out in second match to non-top-10 Austrian

World #4 Jelena Jankovic (seed #3) out in third match to non-top-25 Chinese

World #16 Nadia Petrova (seed #10) out in first match to non-top-30 Spaniard
Then again, having a name like "Chakvetadze" or "Safina" wasn't much help either, as the World #6 "Russian" (the #5 seed) Chakvetadze went down in her first match, in straight sets, to the same unseeded Chinese player who took out Jankovic, and the #15 "Russian" (the #11 seed) was crushed in her third match by a non-top-25 Russian.

All this carnage is what was necessary to vault Vera Zvonareva (unseeded, World #27) and Maria Sharapova (seed #4, world #5) into the semifinals to face, respectively, an unseeded opponent and the #16 seed. The world rankings of the three players Sharapova needed to defeat to reach the semis were #126, #101 and and #53 -- in other words, to reach the semi-finals of this Tier I, $2.5 million event Sharapova was not required to face a single player ranked in the world's top 50. When she reached the semis, where she should have had to face either the #1 seed or the dangerous #6 Venus Williams, Shamapova's opponent was actually ranked #20 in the world and only seeded because four higher-ranked players did not show themselves in Qatar. By the time Shamapova reached the semi-finals, she was guaranteed to be able to win the tournament after having faced only one seeded player in the course of five matches, and that one being the lowest seed in the tournament. Both she and Zvonareva were also lucky enough to draw Russian opponents for one of their first three matches, both drew lower-ranked opponents in their semi-finals contents (only one faced a seed), and thus both had a serious shot at facing a Russian for the title.

And in the end, that's just what happened. After reaching the finals without facing a single top-ten seed (and only one seed in total), Shamapova found herself facing an unseeded fellow Russian not ranked in the top 25 in the world for the title. Lo and behold, she prevailed (though it took her three sets to do so)! Another epic display of Russian talent by a player who hasn't lived in Russia since she was a child and learned how to play in the United States.

So Shamapova is back to her old tricks, using dumb luck rather than skill to work her way deep into significant tournaments and collect cheap ratings points. If you examine her career, you'll see this pattern repeated over and over, especially during the period when she briefly held the #1 ranking. Which, of course, is why we call her "Sham"-o-pova. Much like her country, Shampova is a triumph of form over substance, an bubble-like illusion just waiting for another humiliating "pop!"


Anonymous said...

Err... Poles are Slavic... so are Czechs, Slovaks, Croats, Slovenians - all of them catholic or protestant (or orthodox, but that is a minority) and all use Latin alphabet, are a part of the same culture group etc.

Not supporting Russia doesn't make you non slavic - if anyone bothers with that in the first place.

La Russophobe said...

Err. . . tell that to the Russians please. We'd love to give you a column to do it. Will you? We doubt it.

Maybe you need to read the post a bit more closely too, before commenting. Unless you think Spaniards, Chinese and Austrians are also Slavs.

And if you don't want to think first, probably better to stay away from arrogant utterances like "err". Just a word to the wise.

Anonymous said...

It is not me who NEEDS a lesson about manners I believe - especially after reading this lovely answer.

Is it a mistake you are setting two Serbians and two Russians losing to someone - all that under the much telling title ?

A coincidence ?

You must be kidding me. Please realise you have made a mistake.

Adult people should be able to admit that and shouldn't fear healthy criticism.

If 'err' is arrogant - so be it, but commiting a silly mistake on a specialised page deserves harsh judgement.

Of course it is hardly the first one I have noticed (some cultural differences seen as oppression), but this time I have more time waiting if the movie which is very important to me - 'Katyn' wins tonight or not and because I am in mood to bother.

If you are willing to react the same way to such remarks perhaps you should realise it works AGAINST this blog.

And about a column - thanks but I have other projects (historical stuff) and I must decline this offer, even if it is not serious.

My regards - obviously 'arrogant'comments like this are not welcome here so I won't care next time. Have a nice day...

La Russophobe said...

We didn't say you needed a lesson in manners, we said you needed a lesson in reading and thinking.

If you think the tone of your comment was friendly, constructive and polite, however, then you need such a lesson even more than we thought.