Azarenka, on best behavior, impresses with Stanford triumph
A few years back, there was a dog in my neighborhood who barked at everything. Barked at air, barked at life, barked at the price of eggs. All day long. I love animals, but this hound was driving me nuts, so I went on a search-and-silence mission.
When I located the house in question, there was nobody home. It was a run-down, abandoned-looking place, and there was the dog, prowling some overgrown grass behind a chain-link fence. As I approached, the dog fell silent. Seemed delighted to see me. And I melted right down. Seems the sweet-faced creature just wanted some company.
I'm not sure how this all ties in with
It may well come to pass that Stanford marked a breakthrough for the 21-year-old Azarenka, both on and off the court. She was calm, composed and relentless in her 6-4, 6-1 dismantling of
Sharapova needed that win, badly. She was right on the verge of her biggest title of the year, a momentum-building result heading into the U.S. Open, and Azarenka stopped her cold. The aftermath, however, was just as surprising.
Going into this tournament, I was hardly alone in my disdain for Azarenka. Aside from her unbecoming on-court temper tantrums over the years, she was a real pill in press conferences, clearly hating the idea and seldom bothering to even make eye contact. Just last week, esteemed journalist
Apparently, someone in the WTA Tour hierarchy got to Azarenka after the French Open, where she had blown off the obligatory interview after a dreadful first-round loss to
She talked mostly about confidence and self-belief, and I couldn't help but recall the difference between Sunday's match and Azarenka's quarterfinal against
We'll see how it all plays out for Azarenka, but she has put herself at the center of the U.S. Open conversation. As for on-court shrieking, the Sharapova match was a real beauty, pitting one of the post-
I'm not sure how I got through it myself, actually. It became almost comical at times, as if the two players were kidding. When a car alarm went off nearby, it served as a soothing reprieve. I imagined parents lecturing their tennis-playing daughters in the stands: "If you
Longtime tour follower
Answering Bartoli's charge, Azarenka said, "It's something that you hear so many players do. Sometimes they grunt and sometimes they don't, but for me that's how I practice and that's how I play. There are some players who like to fake injuries, who look like they're dying out there, and when the point starts they're running for every ball. That's part of the game. You try to win however you can." And she added, with a smile, "When I was a kid, I needed that extra power, so that's how it came up."
Since I'm suddenly so inclined to give Azarenka the benefit of the doubt, I'm discounting the notion of her shrieking for effect, to throw off her opponent. I'm saying she quite fancies the exotic birds of Brazil, and after conducting an exhausting study, she came up with that lingering, warbling sound that seems to last right up to her opponent's next shot.
I think you'll agree that when it comes to Brazilian birds, there are some mighty fine choices:
Call me an old speckled hen, but I'll go with the crake. I'm just a sucker that way.