Report Card: Sam Querrey wins Farmers Classic
The Report Card hands out grades for the week in tennis. This past week saw Sam Querrey win his third Farmers Classic in Los Angeles while most of the top players were in London for the Olympics.
Sam Querrey: A. While his compatriots were savoring London, Querrey put his head down and put together a workmanlike week in Los Angeles, winning the title for the third time. That's his first ATP Tour title in two years (since winning in L.A. in 2010) and it boosts his ranking from No. 57 to No. 38. Keep an eye on Querrey as the U.S. Open Series unfolds. A few more good results would likely mean a seeding at the U.S. Open.
Bojana Jovanovski: A. The often-forgotten Serb has struggled mightily, but she finally picked up her first WTA title, in Baku, beating American Julia Cohen in the final. While we're at it, a hearty applause for Cohen, who had fallen in qualifying in 34 events in a row and had never made it to a WTA quarterfinal before this week.
Tomas Berdych: F. Granted, I'm probably a little bitter here because I picked Berdych as my silver medalist at the Olympics. But losing in the first round to Belgian Steve Darcis was a shocker. With the loss, the former Wimbledon finalist goes winless at the All England Club in 2012.
Philipp Kohlschreiber: F. After fighting to get himself onto the German Olympic team, he decided to play a small clay tournament in Kitzbuehel, Austria, that would overlap with the tennis event should he make the final. He did make the final on Saturday, lost to Robin Haase and then withdrew from the Olympics, citing a foot injury. Bad luck, bad scheduling or bad sportsmanship?
Thomaz Bellucci: B. The Brazilian went winless at the Olympics, losing doubles to Mike and Bob Bryan and his opening singles match to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. But there is no one who had a better winless tournament than Bellucci. He and partner Andre Sa gave the Bryans a scare in a wonderfully entertaining three-set match on Saturday, and then he took Tsonga to three on Sunday. After his confidence-boosting title in Gstaad two weeks ago, keep an eye on him.
The tennis-playing flag-bearers: B. Great job, Novak Djokovic, Agnieszka Radwanska, Maria Sharapova, Stanislas Wawrinka, Marcos Baghdatis, Max Mirnyi, Horia Tecau and Stephanie Vogt! You all looked great and, more important, you didn't fall down. Unfortunately, five of you lost your opening matches.
Julia Goerges: A. The German hit 20 aces and 56 winners to oust world No. 2 Radwanska 7-5, 6-7 (5), 6-4 in the first round. When she zones, Goerges can hit through even the wiliest of opponents.
Agnieszka Radwanska: D. A bit of a harsh grade given how well Goerges played to beat her, but it always sucks to see a top player have a career-making run (Wimbledon finalist), only to follow it up with a first-round loss to, well, anyone. But hey, she looked great carrying the Polish flag at the opening ceremony.
Jamie Murray: D. The big brother was clearly the weaker link as the Brothers Murray were ousted in the first round of doubles, losing to the Austrian team of Jurgen Melzer and Alexander Peya 7-5, 6-7 (6), 5-7. The Brits were up a break twice in the third set, only to see Jamie fail to hold serve. Needless to say, Jamie was gutted afterward. "We lost. It's disappointing," he said. "One tournament every four years, once-in-a-lifetime chance to play an Olympics in your own country. You know, we lost. We won't get another chance to do it. That's what hurts the most, I think."
Li Na: C. It's easy to forget that Li actually played in the bronze medal match in Beijing, losing to Vera Zvonareva in three sets. But in London, Li went out 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 to her good friend Daniela Hantuchova. She's still in doubles but is already looking toward the U.S. hard-court season: She's hired Carlos Rodriguez, former coach to Justine Henin. That's ... an interesting move.
Tamira Paszek: D-plus. All that excitement from Wimbledon and she fights her way onto the Austrian Olympic team, only to lose in the first round to Alize Cornet. Weak.
Team Australia: C. The Australians were winless over the weekend, with Sam Stosur and Bernard Tomic losing in singles and Jarmila Gajdosova/Anastasia Rodionova and Stosur/Casey Dellacqua losing in doubles. The last Aussie standing? Who else: Lleyton Hewitt.
Agnes Szavay: C-plus. On one hand, it was great to see the talented, but injury-plagued Hungarian back on court. On the other, what in the world was she doing at the Olympics? Before her first-round loss to Elena Baltacha, Szavay played one match in the last year and used her protected ranking to qualify for the Olympics. I'm sure it was a tremendous experience, but Szavay brought nothing to the competition and her spot could have been given to someone else.
Colors at the All England Club: C. Throwing the "predominantly white" clothing rule out the window has been a lot of fun. I love seeing the multicolored hues on the athletes and it's enough of a reminder that this isn't Wimbledon. But can we talk about the purple signage tarps that surround the courts? The purple isn't a problem, but did the London organizing committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) really not notice how wrinkled the signage looks and how it cheapens the tournament? The truth is the organizers probably don't care at all and the minimal investment is precisely what they're aiming for. But if you want to convince the players that the Olympics are just as big as a Slam, you might want to look into running it like one.
Andy Murray: A. Who would have thought that Murray, who had a tricky opening-round match against Stanislas Wawrinka, would put on the most decisive performance in the first two days among the top guys? While Roger Federer and Djokovic had to go the full three, Murray set to rest any concerns over the lingering effects of his Wimbledon loss. And he did it while Federer watched from Wawrinka's box, too.
Ryan Harrison: F. Harrison lost to Santiago Giraldo and petulantly smashed his racket for all to see. Then he was marched out on TV the next day to offer a public apology for his behavior. More on that interview fiasco in another post, but suffice it to say it was not a great Olympics debut for the young Mr. Harrison.
Danny Boyle: A. The scope and scale of the opening ceremony in Beijing was a game-changer, and to Academy-Award winning director Boyle's credit, he didn't play the game. Quiet country pastures, a little British Les Miserables, corgis, Mr. Bean and a celebration of Britain's greatest export: music. The detour into the National Health Service was a head-scratcher, but all in all, give Boyle the all-around gold. Nailed it.
Scheduling: D. Can we please move the tennis competition back a day so that the players can actually take part in the opening ceremony? With play starting the next day, several players were forced to watch the ceremony at home. That's a shame. Many athletes will tell you that the Olympic experience is found as much off the court as it is on the court, citing time in the Olympic Village, at the opening and closing ceremonies, and watching other athletes compete. Not so for the tennis players, though. They're effectively sequestered away in southwest London, and many have tournaments to get to when the closing ceremony takes place. So let's just push back the start of the tennis event to give them the opening ceremony. Is that too much to ask?
The Wimbledon grass: C-plus. So much research went into the final decision to use pre-germinated seed to regenerate the worn portions of the courts after Wimbledon, and for the most part it looked successful. Before the start of play, Centre Court looked pristine and good as new. Then play began, and within hours the courts looked no different than they did after the men's final a few weeks ago. Empty seats: F. There are never empty seats at Wimbledon, but the All England Club has had spotty attendance over the first few days. The good news is that those who have attended have been loud and engaged, adding to a fun atmosphere. Now if only we could get more of them through the door.