.@MariaSharapova Calls a @CincyTennis 3-Way ‘Dodgy'; I Call it ‘Dinner’

Maria Sharapova Calls a @CincyTennis 3-Way ‘Dodgy'; I Call it ‘Dinner’

Maria Sharapova at 2014 Western & Southern

Maria Sharapova at 2014 Western & Southern

God Bless Maria Sharapova for turning me on to the 3 way. One of the Big Tennis Press here is fixated on Mason, Ohio food offerings, and every other question at Monday’s pressers was about the (lack of healthy) food choices at the tournament and its surrounding environs. Seriously, it was if Applebee’s had paid for an in-press conference mention at every single presser yesterday. Straight out of Talladega Nights.

When told about the Cincinnati specialty at an interview preceding her press conference at the Western & Southern Open in Mason yesterday, Sharapova derided the idea of a dish named “The 3-way” as “really dodgy”.

“They told us that the famous dish in Cincinnati is called a ‘3 way’. That’s a little dodgy, that’s really dodgy. So when that’s the popular dish, you know there’s not a lot of (healthy) alternatives”, she said.

Western & Southern  Official Chili Cincinnati Reds

Western & Southern Official Chili Cincinnati Reds

So what do I do? I immediately go to the nearest place serving 3-way by my hotel. It’s at a fast food chili joint. Not just any fast food chili joint, though, but the Official Chili of the Cincinnati Reds Baseball Club. The Pete Rose of Chili Bowls. Booyah.

Western & Southern  3 Way Receipt

I ask for the 3-way just like Maria taught me, totally sounding like a local. When the bill comes back for $5.54, I look like an out-of-towner with a bad poker face. $5.54? I can’t go to Maryland and eat the Crab Cakes for $5.54. I can’t go to Miami and eat the Stone Crab Claws for $5.54. Hell, I can’t even go to Atlanta and eat the hideous Brunswick Stew for $5.54. I couldn’t even get into a Cincinnati Reds game and watch Pete Rose play/manage/gamble back in 1985 for $5.54. Wuddaboggin!

Western & Southern 3 Way Unassembled

Western & Southern 3 Way Unassembled

It arrives as a plate of cinnamon and chocolate-laced chili topping a mound of spaghetti. That part looked good. The rest of the contents in the bag were what alarmed me. Not one but two hefty bags of cheddar. To tops things off (literally) was a packet of Oyster crackers. I ate the whole thing in five minutes, skipping the oyster crackers.

Western & Southern  3 Way Assembled

Western & Southern 3 Way Assembled

I could have gone up to 5-way, but I couldn’t imagine what Maria would have thought of that. Definitely obscene.

Maria opens up on Center Court against Madison Keys at 3:00 p.m. today. Hopefully, my cinnamon-flavored burps will have subsided by that time. And if Sharapova wins the Cincy title, she should plunk down the $5.54 and force down a plate of that deliciousness.

—S. Fogleman

Federer Dominates Halle for Seventh Time, Dimitrov Becomes All-Surface Champion

Federer Dominates Halle for Seventh Time, Dimitrov Becomes All-Surface Champion

ATP Halle

gerry-weber-open
Roger Federer did what he usually does in Halle: take the title. This time it was a 7-6, 7-6 victory over surprise finalist Alejandro Falla, who, at age 30, was contesting just his second career ATP level final. He drops to 0-2 in his career in ATP finals.

Federer needed 3 sets against Joao Sousa in round 2, then got a walkover against Rendy Lu, and beat Kei Nishikori in straights before the final. Falla beat Lukasz Kubot in 3 sets, Robin Haase and Peter Gojowczyk in straights and Philipp Kohlschreiber in 3 from a set down to reach the final, his big upset coming against the German on home soil.

Andre Begemann and Julian Knowle beat Marco Chiudinelli and Federer to take the doubles title, as Fed was denied the sweep by the German/Austrian duo in a close 3 set match.

All-Surface Champion

All-Surface Champion

ATP London Queens
Grigor Dimitrov won his first grass court title, and completed the trifecta of titles across all the surfaces this season. The Acapulco and Bucharest champion added the Queens club hardware to his trophy case with Maria Sharapova in the crowd, slipping past Feliciano Lopez 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 and 8-6 in the final set tiebreak in a nail-biting, very competitive final.

Grisha beat James Ward and Edouard Roger-Vasselin in straights this week, got a walkover against Alex Dolgopolov and won 2 and 4 over Stan Wawrinka to reach the final. Lopez, who found some renewed form this week, reaching his first final since this time last season, beta Julian Benneteau in 3 sets, Lleyton Hewitt in an upset in straights, Kenny De Schepper in 3 sets, Tomas Berdych in straights and Radek Stepanek in the same fashion to reach the final.

In both tournaments this week, the player who played the fewest matches en route to the final was the champion.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2C0BM2eHpY https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WZ572AWZgY

Alex Peya/Bruno Soares beat Jamie Murray/John Peers to capture the doubles hardware.

—Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast

2012 Wimbledon Ladies Singles “Strawberries & Cream Sweet 16″ Week 2 Preview

 
 
Wimbledon Ladies Singles “Strawberries & Cream Sweet 16″ Preview
 
 
The first week is over for the women, and while all of Wimbledon feels like a tea party-inspired anti-incumbent insurrection, the Ladies results don’t necessarily bear that out.
 
#1 Sharapova has had an easy week. It immediately cranks up from here, as she’ll face Lisicki in the 4th round. The winner will have the honors of facing Kerber or Clijsters in the semi. She will probably beat Lisicki in 2 and Kerber/Clijsters in 3.
 
 
 
#3 Radwanska shouldn’t have a letdown here, which is the only way Carmila Giorgi becomes the Yaroslava Shvedova of Wimbledon. Not to mention the all-important complication that Shvedova herself may still end up being the Shvedova of Wimbledon. I last visited Giorgi as a scrappy qualifier just three months ago in Charleston. Her streak is admirable, but the second week of a Grand Slam is about separating the closers of the present and the contenders of the future. Expect Aga to take care of business.
 
Shuai Peng and Maria Kirilenko is the toughest Sweet 16 match-up to predict. They’re both here. They’re both accomplished. And only one can win. Pick’em.
 
Serena Williams may be the only player who isn’t frightened to face Roland Garros Qualifiying Quarterfinalist Yaroslava Shvedova. And #6 Serena may be the best-suited player to stop the Fightin’ Kazakh in her tracks. Serena prevails, if only on that unstoppable serve. You cannot go from #164 to back-to-back Slam Quarterfinals. If I’m lying, I’m buying on Shvedova.
 
 
Defending Wimbledon Champion and #4 seed Petra Kvitova must face a fellow Slam winner in Francesca Schiavone. This could be the match of the weekend. Kvitova in 3.
 
Tamira Paszek is so hot right now, it would be foolhardy to go against her except against someone in the top 5. You must expect her to find a way to will herself to a victory over Roberta Vinci some how, some way.
 
That leaves Ana Ivanovic against #2 Victoria Azarenka. Go with Azarenka. For now.
 
 
 
See? Unlike the topsy-turvy men’s field, all top 4 women’s seeds are still here. So are so-called 6 seed Serena Williams and so-called #47 Clijsters. Like the Pound Sterling, it’s very stable.  
 
Predictions:
 
QF’s
 
Sharapova d. Kerber
Radwanska d. Kirilenko
S. Williams d. Kvitova
Azarenka d. Paszek
 
SF’s
 
Sharapova d. Radwanska
S. Williams d. Azarenka
 
Final
 
Sharapova d. S. Williams
 
–S. Fogleman
 

2012 Wimbledon Women’s Preview: Order to be Restored by Great Slam Mother

2012 Wimbledon Ladies Singles Preview

By Steve Fogleman, TennisEastCoast.com

Grand Slam
London, England
June 25-July 8, 2012
Prize Money: £16,060,000

The Great Grandmother of Grand Slams is upon us. Or should we call Wimbledon the Great Slam Mother? Or the Slam Mum? The latter one sounds too close to the title of Morrissey’s ill-advised “Slum Mums“. Either way, if there’s one thing we know and love about grandmothers, it is their consistency. We don’t expect them to show up at Sunday dinner with a neck tattoo, a tongue-piercing or a 20-year-old boyfriend. On that note, we certainly don’t expect the Great Grandmother of Grand Slams to shock us, either.  We don’t expect a world #50 to play in the ladies final. The All England Lawn Tennis Club boasts Petra Kvitova as its reigning champion, about the closest thing to octogenarian body-piercing that will ever come out of SW19.

The British Drought Does Not Amuse Us

First Round Matchups to Watch

Kim Clijsters v. Jelena Jankovic

JJ and Kim have met many times before, and Clijsters leads the series 7-1. She beat Jankovic in the Sydney final in 2007. JJ’s lone win against Kim was in Toronto in 2009. The big question is Clijsters’ ability to ramp back up after the layoff. In a close one, Jankovic’s recent tour experience could prove the difference.

Caroline Wozniacki v. Tamira Paszek

Tamira’s on a roll right now. The Eastbourne finalist has found very recent success, while Wozniacki was dumped in Eastbourne’s first round by Christina McHale. You will know right away if Wozniacki has come packing heat at Wimbledon by her success against Paszek. Expect Paszek to press her, but Wozniacki to win. The winner could face red-hot Alize Cornet in the second round.

Yanina Wickmayer v. Svetlana Kuznetsova

Wickmayer ended Kuznetsova’s Wimbledon bid last year in three sets in the Round of 32 when both women were ranked in the top 20. This year, only Kuznetsova is seeded, and she’s at #32. Though neither has played with consistency this year, this match is a true toss-up. The winner should be comfortably poised to at least the third round, as Greta Arn and Galina Voskoboeva are possible second round opponents.

Victoria Azarenka v. Irina Falconi

Another early test for a high seed, Azarenka will face one of my favorite Americans in the draw. Falconi is a Birmingham Quarterfinalist. Azarenka hasn’t had a lot of exposure to the grass since bowing out in the fourth round to Dominika Cibulkova at Roland Garros. A close match is expected.

Top Half:

Maria Sharapova starts against Anastasia Rodionova, who shouldn’t present a mammoth challenge. Her possible second round opponents could give her trouble, as qualifier Vesna Dolonc and Eastbourne quarterfinalist Tsvetana Pironkova have several impressive wins under their belt in the last week. After that, it could be smooth sailing. By seeding, she should face Sabine Lisicki in the Round of 16, although Lisicki’s consistency is very questionable at this time.

Those who would seek to face Sharapova in the Quarterfinals include Clijsters, Jankovic, Kerber, Zvonareva, and the currently dangerous upset duo of Ekaterina Makarova and Christina McHale. Clijsters will provide answers almost immediately as to her chances of hoisting a last trophy on the grass during her first round match against JJ. Zvonareva has turned over little evidence to suggest that she will make it far enough to face the winner of JJ and Clijsters.

Angelique Kerber will likely have to face one or two of the giant-slayers from Eastbourne. Ekaterina Makarova is a probable second round opponent, and McHale could be waiting for the winner in the third round.   

In the bottom of the top half, #3 seed Aga Radwanska will face an early test, but not until the second round. Elena Vesnina and Venus Williams will vie for the right to be that test subject. After that, Aga could face Hantuchova and then Birmingham Champ Melanie Oudin or Nads Petrova in the Round of 16. An early stumble for Radwanska is very possible.

Those who seek to meet Radwanska in the Quarterfinal include Sam Stosur and Na Li. Those two players might have the easiest opening rounds of the draw and should be favorites to advance. 

Bottom Half:

The top part of the bottom half is the “group of death” for the ladies at Wimbledon. With Serena at the top and Kvitova at the bottom, most would pencil them in for a quarterfinal meeting. The devil is in the details, though, and while Kvitova’s ability to repeat as champion is slightly uncertain, Serena’s ride is rocky. She should survive the first two rounds before a possible match up with the winner of Wozniak and Jie Zheng. Wozniak won that matchup against Zheng at Wimbledon. If Serena were to be successful there, she would be looking at a fight against either Roland Garros finalist Errani, RG quarterfinalist Shvedova or 19 seed Lucie Safarova. 

To find the Round of 16, Kvitova will probably face Pavlyuchenkova. To make it to the quarters, she could be seeing Schiavone or Cibulkova.

In the final quarter of the draw, Wozniacki, Bartoli and Azarenka reign supreme. Perhaps this is the group of death after all. Wozniacki, as mentioned above, will face Paszek in the opener. A second rounder with Cornet is probable. Then would come Wickmayer/Kuznetsova. Marion Bartoli should be waiting for her next.

Azarenka has an easier ride than most. That opener against Falconi will say so much about her chances to reach the final.

Though the WTA has been known as “Winning Through Anarchy” of late, 2012 Wimbledon will likely shape up to be more predictable than recent slams. Sharapova has the draw she needs to win a second straight slam, and only Azarenka has the draw and perseverance to meet her in the final.

Dark Horse: Melanie Oudin

Though she’s had a few disappointing seasons, Oudin’s comeback is coming at the perfect time. After slogging through Birmingham to capture her first WTA title ever, she is poised to make a possible run to the quarterfinals. Her finest performance at Wimbledon to date was a 2009 4th round appearance. She should have as good a shot as anyone to beat Radwanska in a possible 4th round match up this year.

Predictions:

Quarterfinals

Sharapova d. Kerber

Stosur d. Oudin

Kvitova d. S. Williams

Azarenka d. Bartoli

Semifinals

Sharapova d. Stosur

Azarenka d. Kvitova

Final

Sharapova d. Azarenka

Will Woz Defend? Family Circle Cup Main Draw Wild Card Anticipation

Will Woz get a chance to kiss the Kudzu Cup again?

There’s a little more wildcard drama than usual at this year’s Family Circle Cup, since it’s been rumored that Maria Sharapova and/or defending champion Caroline Wozniacki might very well take that last spot if they get the call.

Matt Sodo from ESPN explained the confusion a couple of weeks ago in his perfectly titled article ‘Star Security Backfiring on WTA?’.

The long and short of it is that Wozniacki may or may not be eligible, according to Sodo. But it’s very probable that she is hungrier for rankings points now than she has been in over a year. Sharapova, too, could use every point she can earn in the event of a sputter by Azarenka this year. Bartoli just gave her hope as the future President de la Republique handed Azarenka her first loss of the year tonight.

According to FamilyCircleCup.com, 45 players are pictured in their Qualifying Player Field Gallery, meaning that there could be up to three more entrants. Their Main Draw Gallery shows 55 players or spots (with 1 Wild Card and the 12 Qualifiers place-held), leaving possibly one extra wild card.

These ladies would like to know

We reached out to the Family Circle Cup, but haven’t heard a word from them as of this posting.

Tennis East Coast is on the story and will drop our mustard-sauced barbeque sandwich, a South Carolina delicacy, as soon as news breaks. Let me remind you that my family soup contains West Virginia, Western North Carolina, Tennessee and Louisiana ingredients. So this ancestral Southerner awaits with great anticipation both the wild card announcements and a chance to see the Best Tennis Town in the USA up close and personal during the region’s biggest tennis event of the year.

–S. Fogleman