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Monday, May 19, 2008

Russian "Dominant" Tennis Plays to Form in Rome

At last week's Tier I WTA tour event in Rome, two of the top three, three of the top six and five of the top ten seeds were Russians.

#2 seed Maria Sharapova barely managed to beat the #9 seed (not ranked in the world's top 10) in the quarter finals, losing the first set and falling behind in the second. Then she forfeited the semi-finals, once again claiming injury and disappointing such fans as the sport may still have with so many Russians gumming up the works.

#3 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova lost her second match of the tournament in easy straight sets to an unseeded French qualifier.

#6 seed Anna Chakvetadeze was decisively beaten in three sets by that same qualifier in the semi-finals.

Russia's #10 seed was the only one of the group to lose a match to a higher-ranked opponent, going down in straight sets in her second match to #8 seed Venus Williams, winning only two games in the decisive set.

Russians, of course, ignored these results even more than usual because St. Petersburg's Zenit soccer team won the UEFA soccer championship in Manchester England against Great Britain -- and not only that, but watched British fans run riot in the aftermath. Russians need to take such victories where they can find them, but a close look reveals much that is illusion. Zenit's coach isn't Russian, he's Dutch. One of its best players is Ukrainian. Zenit was expected to win after being freakishly lucky enough to draw such a relatively weak opponent in the finals (the British side hadn't seen the finals in nearly four decades); the Russian side barely made it to the championship round, finishing a lame third in its group in the opener.

As usual, Russians will ignore the reality and the need for reform, choosing to dwell in the world of illusions and condemning themselves to nothing but ultimate failure and humiliation.

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