Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Two Serbs, a Slovak and a Russian Walk Onto a Tennis Court...

Photo: Ana Ivanovic

Sounds like a joke about a bar, but it is nice to see new blood in the women's semifinals. The Serbs of course are part of the story I've been writing for two years (that the media has now picked up on, duh) of the five fantastic Serbs who are shaking tennis up. I suppose people are going to get sick of hearing it, but it bears repeating:  this is a country that was in the midst of a war when these players grew up. There were no tennis courts, let alone a national federation spending hundreds of millions of dollars, like we have in the US, France, Australia and G.B. And the comport themselves awfully well, so different than the caricature of a Serb that we conjured up when Milosevic was mass murdering his way across the Balkans. They are so open and outgoing in personality, acutely aware of what the world thinks of Serbs and wildly talented. Oh, one last thing. They speak English better than the entire state of Florida. Novak Djokovic speaks five languages and his accent is...almost gone. Jankovic gave an interview the other day and used the word "temperament" correctly. (When's the last time you heard that happen in Florida mom?)

So Legs Hauntuchova, as nicknamed by David, has had a big game for a long time now. She's finally made a semifinal. She's been around for so long people had sort of written her off, but she's only 24. She seems to have put the eating disorder issues to bed for now, and I think everyone is glad to see her excel. She'll take on Jelena Jankovic later today.

Meanwhile, Sharapova takes on Ivanovic in a fascinating match. Ivanovic will need to raise her game. No matter what happens though, she'll be taking over the #2 rankings spot after this, her third consecutive semifinal. I understand why everyone thinks Sharapova is so hot, but in a head to head looks battle with Ana Ivanovic, I don't see how she can win. When it comes down to it, Maria is just another blonde.

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