Sunday, December 11, 2011
100 memories: Vexed Verdasco vents
By Ravi Ubha, ESPN.com
Editor's note: The tennis season now over, it's time to look back. Novak Djokovic was no doubt the player of the year, but there were many memories to savor. Beginning Dec. 12, Ravi Ubha is unveiling his top 100 memories of the 2011 season. Check back each weekday until Dec. 23 as we count down to No. 1.
100. Pospisil to the rescue
Think of Canadian tennis now and the first name that comes to mind is Milos Raonic.
But it was another big-serving youngster, Vasek Pospisil, who led the Canucks to the Davis Cup world group for the first time since 2004 when he won all three of his matches in Israel in September's playoffs.
"Vasek beat the state of Israel," Canadian captain Martin Laurendeau said.
Up next for Pospisil and Raonic is France.
99. Adios, Adam
Adam Helfant, who announced he was leaving the ATP in June, is a nice guy. But what did he really do as head of the men's tour in his two-year term?
Shorten the season next year and thereafter? That was likely down to the player council finally demanding change. And it was inevitable since the women already cut their campaign, putting more pressure on the men.
Prize money increased, you say? It has increased gradually over the years, so nothing new there.
98. Ivo's tweets
There are some amusing tennis tweeters out there, and Ivo Karlovic is one of the best.
The Croatian's sense of humor is as ample as his 6-foot-10 frame -- just ask his followers.
"Good thing about jet lag is that you have excuse to sleep whenever, wherever." "Got 6 beer pack delivered 2 my room @ 10 am. Compliments of Vienna tennis tournament. Have a feeling its gonna be a week 2 remember. Or forget." Just a couple of examples.
97. Pav's Grand Slam emergence
We've been waiting for Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal, and the Russian finally came through at the French Open. For good measure, Pavlyuchenkova made it two at the U.S. Open.
She competes hard and not many hit the ball as crisp, but now Pavlyuchenkova needs to become more consistent and work on her fitness (still).
Seeing her win a Grand Slam title in the next two years wouldn't come as a surprise.
96. Fernando's sour grapes
His game going south at one point, Fernando Verdasco took his frustration out on his peers.
Verdasco turned sour after losing to Raonic for the second time in four days, at San Jose and Memphis, respectively.
"I hope to play soon against him in a clay court to show him what it is to play tennis and play rallies and run, and not only serve," Verdasco said.
He got his wish, prevailing in Estoril and Rome. But expect Raonic to leapfrog the Spaniard in the rankings in 2012.
95. Lisicki sees the light
Sabine Lisicki has, sadly, seen too many health issues in her young career. But a bout of food poisoning contracted during the Asian swing, she said, was more serious than any of her past problems.
"The doctors panicked when I got to the hospital," she told Bild. "I was extremely dehydrated, almost unconscious. As the doctors spoke to me, they were quite far away for me, at the end of the tunnel."
94. Querrey's unexpected roadblock
Making his way back from elbow surgery in the summer, Sam Querrey had something else to deal with: an umbilical cord infection. Another operation ensued.
"It was kind of hurting one day, and then it started to get kind of inflamed and red," he said. "It hurt to the point where I couldn't sleep, and it hurt to walk. It was kind of a strange thing."
The Californian managed to get his ranking back inside the top 100 by season's end.
93. French Open stays put
The grounds of the French Open are easily the smallest of any of the Grand Slams. Organizers knew they had to get bigger.
Thankfully, though, expansion will take place at the current site in southwest Paris rather than see the tournament move to, among other options, Versailles or near Disneyland Paris (which is actually about 20 miles from Paris).
The decision came in February.
"There is more space outside the city, I understand, but come on," Roger Federer said.
92. Vika's tank job
Playing meaningless matches at year-end championships can be difficult, yes, but Victoria Azarenka should take lessons from Federer -- he's handled those situations with aplomb.
Azarenka was in semi-tank mode against Marion Bartoli in Istanbul in her final round-robin encounter, especially in the third set, and received boos when leaving the court.
One tweeter remarked, "Bartoli's practice shots between points seem hilarious with the current effort level coming from Azarenka."
91. Muster re-retires
Thomas Muster's goal when he returned to the circuit last year wasn't to win a Grand Slam title. The Austrian wanted to be part of the tour again and eventually say goodbye properly.
The 44-year-old, who went 2-25 in his comeback (both wins came in Challengers), bid an emotional adieu in Vienna in October.
"To play on that level and to challenge myself, I got a lot of respect from the guys out there," said Muster, the former No. 1.