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Russians Down Under. Way, way down.

No, dear, He's not going to help you.

No, dear, He’s not going to help you.

Russia put five male players and seven female players into the singles draws at this year’s first grand slam tennis event, the Australian Open.

By the end of the first week of the tournament, not one male player was still alive and among the women only Maria Sharapova, who has lived in the USA since she was a child and learned her game there, had survived.

Other than Sharapova, the only Russian singles player to reach the tournament’s fourth round was Ekaterina Makarova, who there faced Chinese opponent Li Na. The pair played fourteen games and Na won twelve of them, including every game in the second set.

On the women’s side, Russians Elena Vesnina and Vera Zvonareva lost in easy straight sets in the first round, while Alla Kudravsteva and Svetlana Kuznetsova lost in similarly one-sided straight set contests in the second.  Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova got as far as the third and was the most credible in defeat, pushing her opponent to a third set before surrendering meekly there, 2-6.

As for the men, things were similarly ugly.  Alex Bogomolov simply quit after being crushed in the first two sets of his opening match.  Nikolay Davydenko, Dmitry Tursunov and Mikhail Youzhny all went down in the second round, with only Youzhny and Tursunov managing to produce competitive matches. Both were seeded in the draw and booted out by lowly unseeded opponents.  As with the women, the standout among the Russian men wasn’t really a Russian at all but one Teymuraz Gabashvili, who reached the third round before going out in straight sets to court legend Roger Federer.  Ask any Slavic Russian whether someone named “Teymuraz Gabashvili” can be considered Russian, and you’ll see that Russia can hardly claim credit for this modest achievement.

So once again, Russia was left in the pathetic position of having its national tennis honor defended by a player, Sharapova, who is about as Russian as Levi’s.

To say the least, Sharapova wasn’t up to the task. Indeed, her level of play was truly appalling. In her first three matches, Sharapova tossed in a shocking 29 double faults and struck a nauseating 130 unforced errors.

And just remember dear reader, this is the very best Russia has to offer. Do you dare imagine what you’d find if you studied the worst?

Consider this:  Sharapova, seeded #3, had one-third more double faults and only four fewer unforced errors than the #1 and #2 seeds combined in the first three rounds of the tournament.  It was truly an embarrassment, even by Sharapova’s wretched standards.

In other words, as has been the case so often throughout her checkered career, Sharapova moved forward in the tournament by sheer dumb luck, because she happened to face opponents who were even more pathetic than her.

But all good luck must come to an end.

In the fourth round, Sharapova found herself facing off against the diminutive #20 seed, Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia, who stands more than a foot shorter than Sharapova.  The pair split the first two sets and then Sharapova promptly fell apart, taking only one of the seven games played in the deciding set.  With eight double faults and 45 unforced errors, Sharapova brought her totals to 37 and 175 respectively, over the course of just four matches.

And then there were none. Not one Russian player, male or female, managed to get as far as the quarterfinals at the year’s first grand slam event.

In passing, let’s have a look at the USA compared to Russia:

Russia had 34 total entries at the Australian Open this year, the USA had 56.

The top-ranked American woman is the #1 in the world, while the top-ranked Russian is #3 (and lives and was trained to play in the USA).

The top-ranked American man is #13 while the top-ranked Russian is #15.

Both of the world’s top two male doubles players are Americans; the top-ranked Russian doubles player is #75.

Russians rank ahead of Americans only in women’s doubles, where Russia has three of the top ten-ranked players and the top American contenders are all outside the top 25.

Russian players hold 10 grand slam singles titles, and five different Russians (two men and three women) have won them.  The USA has six different players each of whom have won more grand slam titles by themselves than Russia has won as a country.  82 Americans have won grand slam tennis titles.

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13 responses to “Russians Down Under. Way, way down.

  1. Vlad ⋅

    Why are you politicizing sports in general and tennis in particular, Kim? You seem to be saying that there is something deeply wrong with Russia because it isn’t dominating tennis.

    Well, let’s take your politics to the logical conclusions. The US has been defeated soundly in Australia. And which countries are doing great? Serbia and socialist Belarus.

    Serbia has 45 times fewer people than does the USA, Serbia’s economy is probably 250 times smaller, and yet best Serb women and especially men handily dispose of best Americans. What does this tell your little politicized mind, Kim?

    • larussophobe ⋅

      That’s not what we’re saying at all. We’re simply saying that those who have reported Russia is good or even dominant at tennis are completely wrong, and that Maria Sharapova is a fraud just like Vladimir Putin.

      • Vlad ⋅

        > That’s not what we’re saying at all. We’re simply saying that those who have reported Russia is good or even dominant at tennis are completely wrong

        But, Kim, you should learn temporal reasoning. Russia used to be great at tennis in the 1990s and 2000s. It won a tonload of Davis Cups and Federation Cups. USA too used to be a totally dominant tennis power in the times of Chris Evert and Connors/Mac/Agassi/Sampras. There were times when Australia dominated. At the present Australia, USA and Russia are not at the top. Instead the top belongs to countries like Belarus and Serbia. But in a few years things will change again. So, why is it important for you to bark at the Russian sports the way Moska barks at the Elephant? And why aren’t you barking at the US tennis?

      • vlad

        Who said that “Russia is dominant at tennis” and when did they say it?

  2. mal e jones ⋅

    I think you are missing the point about the tennis, on Maria’s behalf she has won Wimbledon, tennis is a very expensive sport to become good at, when you have a president who seems to be spending vast amount’s of money on the FSB, filling his own and his cronies pockets with your oil and gas money, there really is not much left to help the people live longer, let alone train would be tennis players.

    • Vlad ⋅

      That logic doesn’t work, because the USA with a huge population and high GDP is inferior in tennis to tiny unwealthy countries like Serbia and Belarus.

    • larussophobe ⋅

      The point is that Maria won Wimbledon by dumb luck, as we’ve previously documented, and that Putin’s performance regarding the economy is similarly due to dumb luck. In both cases, the luck is running out fast. The point is that Sharapova and Putin are both Potemkin people.

      • Vlad ⋅

        Kim wrote:

        > … Maria Sharapova, who has lived in the USA since she was a child and learned her game there. Ouch!

        Aha, so in your view, Sharapova is an American.

        > The point is that Maria won Wimbledon by dumb luck, as we’ve previously documented, and that Putin’s performance regarding the economy is similarly due to dumb luck. In both cases, the luck is running out fast. The point is that Sharapova and Putin are both Potemkin people.

        Since Sharapova is an American and a fraud, wouldn’t it make more sense to compare her to such American frauds as Bush and McCain?

        • jpm56 ⋅

          People talk about why Sharapova doesn’t play for the US, and it’s a legitimate question. The reasons are not primarily based on “where an athlete lives” but in her case there are unique factors:

          1) Moved to the US at age 7. IMG, an American media management agency paid for her large tuition to Bollettieri’s academy…likely based on her looks and talent leading to potential endorsements.

          2) She was able to become a top tennis player based on that training and her talent, which lead to success and mass amounts of endorsements.

          3) When she talks, she sounds American to me. I don’t hear much of an accent, if any.

          The difference with other players that live in places they aren’t from, is that they life in locations primarily for tax reasons and the climate. Sharapova basically grew up in the US and owes a lot of the success/money she’s made to the US. (Endorsements, training as a child, media coverage, etc.) Other players that live all over the place don’t have fit those circumstances.

          Then again she can do what she wants, for whatever reasons. It isn’t the former USSR she lives in.

      • Vlad ⋅

        > Potemkin people…

        There is no such term as “Potemkin people”. The term is “Potemkin village”. In this case, you may use the term “Potemkin village people”. 🙂

        • larussophobe ⋅

          There was no such thing as Potemkin Village before somebody invented the term. Your problem is that like most flunkies of dictatorship you have no creativity or imagination.

  3. mal e jones ⋅

    Hi Vlad, that was just my way of having a go at Putin, the truth about top sport is that the players have to have the obsession. Only three of your top ten male players were trained out side of Russia, but the stories seem to be of fathers training sons and mothers working to pay for kit, Davydenko complained of not be able to talk the Tennis Federation, the head Mr Anvyarovich has so many other titles it’s no wonder, he is also head of finances so draw your own conclusions

  4. Jane ⋅

    Does Maria pay taxes to .the U.S? I applaud her skill and .if she wants to .identify with Russia that’s her business, I see nothing Russian about her.

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