Tennis Prose



Evert was 23-0 vs Ruzici

Chris Evert was one of the most dominant champions in tennis history. She won 157 singles titles and finished as world no. 1 seven times. And even when she was struggling with her usually ruthlessly consistent game she had the capacity to turn a bad match around – by any means necessary.

At Wimbledon in 1982 round of 16, Evert was down 76 31 on the “graveyard court” to Romania’s Virginia Ruzici. Evert had beaten Ruzici 20 times out of 20 times and this was supposed to be 21.

But a major upset was brewling. Ruzici was riding a confidence wave in the summer of ’82, having escaped from a bad slump in the spring with the help of her new coach Robert Kaplan, a former University of South Carolina player.

Ruzici skipped the Wimbledon warmups and practiced for two weeks on grass courts in London, a courtesy of one of her sponsors, Slazenger. She survived a second round epic against an Italian player, saving 10-12 match points.

Against the 27 year old Evert, Ruzici blazed to a 76 31 lead and after a running, screaming forehand winner up the line, she had a break point for 41. Her coach maybe over-celebrated that forehand strike, which provoked Evert to admonish the coach, verbally demanding, “Robert, will you just shut up!”

“I think Virginia won one game after that,” admits Kaplan, accepting the blame for the 76 36 16 defeat for his charge. Ruzici, a class competitor known for her impeccable sportsmanship, clearly crumbled after that momentary confrontation between her opponent and her coach.

Evert proceeded to lose in the finals at 1982 Wimbedon and beat Ruzici in two more future WTA duels, 63 63 in Tampa QF on hard court later that year and then 62 60 in Hilton Head in 1985 (QF), their 23rd and final meeting.

In all, Evert beat Ruzici five for five in finals including 60 63 in the French Open final in 1980.


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  • Harold · December 23, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    Evert was lucky that Austin, and Jaeger got hurt. Think they both would have grabbed a few of Everts titles from 81-85. Austin stopped Evert’s ( 125 or something insane) clay winning streak, and had 2 US Opens by 18

  • catherine · December 24, 2019 at 1:12 am

    I don’t agree – Jaeger and Austin basically played Chris’ game and Chris played it better, even when she was past her peak. That they both had so many injuries pointed to flaws in their games. Austin’s serve was one of the worst I ‘ve seen in a pro player.

    Scoop – this is an interesting piece for me because I covered the 82 Wimbledon and when I looked it up I found I hadn’t mentioned Virginia’s match at all. Possibly I didn’t see it, or only parts of it – mainly the story was about the beginning of Martina’s Wimbledon dominance and virtually Billie Jean’s last hurrah. She beat Tracy Austin and then lost to Chris.

    1982 Wimbledon rained almost every day and yet was one of the most competitive I can remember. No roof then.

  • catherine · December 24, 2019 at 1:50 am

    Guess what ? Bianca has withdrawn from Auckland. This means she will go into the AO, if she gets there, without any competitive practice.

    Not only is this a blow for the Auckland tournament, it’s a blow for Bianca’s career in 2020 and, to me, raises questions about the entire management of her knee injury since she last played.

    Her team should be sacked. What are they being paid for ?

  • Hartt · December 24, 2019 at 7:51 am

    Catherine, I don’t understand why you think her team should be sacked. As we said, a torn meniscus is a serious injury, and it looks like they are being cautious. Earlier, Bianca said she was glad it didn’t require surgery. She has been able to do some work in the gym that doesn’t involve her knee.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 24, 2019 at 8:01 am

    Catherine, Yes I forgot to mention there were like ten rain delays in that 2R Ruzici marathon match. I guess most of the media missed the Evert yelling incident, maybe too busy hounding McEnroe?

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 24, 2019 at 8:07 am

    Well let’s all hope Andreescu is not seriously injured and this is just drama queening. Because she is the second hottest thing in the WTA right now and everyone wants to see her play. By the way every time I look at Tennis Channel now they are showing Coco Gauff matches from Wimbledon and US Open. Expect the TC to create an off shoot channel Coco Gauff Plus sometime in 2020.

  • catherine · December 24, 2019 at 8:12 am

    Hartt – I’m exaggerating a bit. I just feel annoyed. Bianca had this injury back in Shenzhen – why didn’t she go straight back to Canada and have treatment instead of wandering around Europe ?

    That she’s withdrawn from Auckland means she’s still in pain/discomfort. At this stage she should be working on the court. The next tournament she could enter would be Adelaide. Otherwise she’ll be going into the AO, as I said before, with no match practice and maybe unacclimatised to the extreme heat. Other players will be ahead of her and well aware of her potential for injury.

    I want Bianca to do well but I don’t think this early part of her career is being handled well. I hope I’m wrong.

  • catherine · December 24, 2019 at 8:22 am

    Scoop – I imagine most of the press didn’t pay much attention to the Ruzici match because they thought the result wouldn’t be in doubt. I might have watched some of the 3rd set and then left. But you’re right – most of the attention would have been on Mac.

    The way Coco is being hyped the rest of the WTA may as well not bother turning up. Just hand her the trophies. And no, I doubt Bianca’s drama queening. Can’t see skipping match play before the AO would be of any benefit.

  • Hartt · December 24, 2019 at 8:25 am

    Catherine, my understanding is that Bianca was consulting experts in Europe, which makes sense if they were trying to determine if she required surgery.

    As a Milos fan, I am only too aware of what injuries can mean for a player’s career. The one bright note is that she is still very young, so I am hoping for the best.

    Otherwise, from what Scoop says, it will be Coco Guaff 24/7!

  • Hartt · December 24, 2019 at 8:31 am

    Sylvain Bruneau, Bianca’s coach, has high praise for Louis Borfiga, head of “Elite Development” for Tennis Canada. Borfiga is one of my tennis heroes, and I think for Scoop as well.

    “Louis is a very ambitious person who has succeeded in establishing teamwork, a very strong mentality focused on teamwork, cooperation, respect between coaches and everyone respects him enormously. There is a very good atmosphere, and that is Louis’ legacy.

    All the good results we have right now are thanks to him. On the tennis planet, we were a Third World country at one time. Now a lot of coaches, nations, athletes are watching what’s going on in Canada, they’re surprised at the rapid rise of Canadian athletes.” (Tennis World)

  • catherine · December 24, 2019 at 9:02 am

    Seems a few others are a bit puzzled by Bianca’s injury as well. What I couldn’t understand is why she didn’t just consult sports injury specialists in Canada. I’m pretty sure there are some.

    The first time she appears on court with her knee strapped up it’s going to send a strong message.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 24, 2019 at 9:14 am

    Let’s just hope she’s faking it and she will be running around the court like a gangbusters in Melbourne.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 24, 2019 at 9:17 am

    Hartt, every month the USTA procrastinates on stealing Borfiga with an offer he could not refuse, the deeper the USTA sinks into mediocrity. At the very least bugs and recording devices should be installed all over the Canadian Federation headquarters.

  • Andrew Miller · December 24, 2019 at 9:19 am

    Prediction: Andreescu w/d from Australia, and other top ten players are relieved and feel almost hopeful.

    Can’t enter a slam cold with no matches, no practice. It would be bad. Andreescu overplayed. She has the Nadal thing when you can only play at one, 1.5 speeds and whatever you put body through is worth it because you are ferocious and win a ton.

    The Australian women’s draw 2020 should have an asterisk next to it if Andreescu withdraws. But it won’t. I believe Australia won’t settle any question as to the best women’s player of the moment. It isn’t Serena but Serena might be able to push through the field. We’ll see how it shakes out.

  • Hartt · December 24, 2019 at 9:20 am

    Scoop, why in heaven’s name would she fake this injury? It has meant missing a (doubtless well-paid) exhibition in Hawaii and then Auckland, a tournament that she has fond memories of. She is a competitor, and like any good competitor, wants to compete.

    As far as consulting experts outside of Canada, Canadian tennis players do that all the time. For example, Milos has spent considerable time this year doing rehab in Boston.

  • Andrew Miller · December 24, 2019 at 9:25 am

    If USTA believes they can shovel tons of money a coach’s way and get their attention…they’re right :). But if they believe it will change the USTA, they’re just wasting more membership dues.

    Borfiga shouldn’t change because if it’s about legacy he has an amazing one. Can’t do better. But if it’s about padding the savings account hard to overlook the offer. They could always just fix what’s broken including many facilities. Maybe grow the game of something like that.

  • Hartt · December 24, 2019 at 9:38 am

    Here is what Borfiga himself has to say:

    “It is important for a federation to have a structure because if we have a good system in place and we have talents, we will be able to help them achieve their objectives. It is a team that pushes behind this success, the structure put in place helps this teamwork to have results.

    Today we are reaping the benefits of all this, and we were lucky to have talented players. As the manager of Canadian tennis, It is true that it was one of my dreams to be able to win a grand slam, so it (Bianca winning) is a day that will forever be etched in my memory.”

    Perhaps it is easier to achieve this with a relatively small organization, like Tennis Canada, where Borfiga can put his own stamp on the organization.

    Borfiga does think in terms of legacy. According to the Tennis World article, the French tennis federation is trying to lure him back to France, but he will remain in Canada because his work is not complete.

  • catherine · December 24, 2019 at 9:41 am

    Wouldn’t be surprised if Bianca w/ds from AO, and Scoop’s right that the tournament will settle nothing about WTA rankings. The heat may be an issue there too.

    I’ve always been bothered by Bianca’s body build – it’s not for the long haul and many tournaments. Her coach (or coaches) will have to plan her schedule carefully.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 24, 2019 at 9:42 am

    Hartt, to soften everyone up into thinking she is damaged goods. To create an illusion she is not 100%. Also it creates an excuse for her if she gets a bad draw and loses early in Australia. Now there is huge pressure and expectation on her to win more majors. She has never experienced this pressure before.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 24, 2019 at 9:44 am

    These quotes from Borfiga are basically cliches. They don’t say much. I still think bugging the Federation offices and courts in Montreal is a better strategy.

  • Hartt · December 24, 2019 at 10:19 am

    Scoop, to go into the AO without a warmup tourney would be a very high price to pay to try to make everyone think she is “damaged goods.” I think Bianca has a healthy estimation of her talent and doesn’t need to play that kind of game.

    I think that Catherine is right that Bianca’s body build is a concern regarding injuries. Somehow I don’t think it is a coincidence that Shapo, who is relatively small, is the Canadian tennis player who has had the fewest problems with injuries.

  • Hartt · December 24, 2019 at 10:22 am

    Scoop, of course Borfiga isn’t going to give away his secrets! Does the USTA have anyone who can infiltrate Tennis Canada?

  • Andrew Miller · December 24, 2019 at 12:11 pm

    Ha. If Borfiga’s getting offers thrown at him he can do whatever he wants. He can take it and go back to Canada and be like well I REALLY don’t want to leave…boy do I love Montreal…and Toronto…I’d hate to leave…maybe you can make an offer to keep me or something…Negotiation 101. He can take Canada’s offer and tell France that he’d love to be in France but…USTA’s offer and say well I love Canada but I love challenges…

    It’s nice to be in demand.

  • Andrew Miller · December 24, 2019 at 12:14 pm

    As for Andreescu it’s easy, she’s hurt she doesn’t play. Period, end of story. And with no warm up for Australia SHE ISN’T PLAYING.

    All of the hedging etc I am certain of it, is for sponsors. She has commitments outside of tennis set up by her agent and they have to stagger announcements. Australia may also want to sell a few more tickets with her in the draw and once she pulls anyone flying in to see her specifically has to go ahead and cancel their plan (which is why it’s a bad idea to fly to a tournament to see one player as a fan…if anyone reads this and only goes to a tournament to see one of your favorites get over yourself and find some other players you like).

  • Andrew Miller · December 24, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    Andreescu doesn’t need to play Australia to “prove” herself – she already did that back in Indian Wells – she won the biggest event a Canadian player has ever won, then did it again in Canada in front of a home crowd, and then catapulted herself further as a legend by tearing the US Open field apart (which is probably why Myles book could do sort of well – she released the book when the iron was piping hot).

    If she plays injured as she did in China, which one would think she learns from (still amazed by what she said during the match she withdrew, the aside, “BUT IT’S PLISKOVA!!!”, amusing stuff yet telling), she’s pulling from Australia.

    Expect an announcement in January that she’s withdrawing from Australia. It’s stupid to rush a player back, they risk injuries and from what we’ve seen Andreescu will play as hard as possible then be injured, and do the same thing and be injured again. She’ll need to work on some areas to end points quicker or go all Nadal by getting on softer surfaces and developing an appreciation for dirt and grass.

  • Andrew Miller · December 24, 2019 at 12:25 pm

    As for WTA rest of field, they’ll be thrilled Andreescu isn’t in the draw – one less superstar in waiting to deal with. Most players get excited to have this kind of luck, they don’t worry about fans missing out or anything.

    Fist pump, Andreescu’s out, my odds just got better. Osaka said in jest it wasn’t fun playing Andreescu and doesn’t want to play her again soon, but she also meant it. She doesn’t. No one does.

    As for fans we’ll be fine. No one is losing sleep over the 2002 Australian Open that Agassi skipped – he had won the 2000, 2001, and 2003 events, but withdrew before the 2002 event. Yawn. It created an opportunity for other players and they took it, and that’s why a guy like Johannson has a title.

    Let’s hope someone gets a lucky bounce. I also expect a wave of retirements for the Australian as players melt on court and for Tsitsipas to go through the most sneakers ever for one tournament for week one.

  • Hartt · December 24, 2019 at 12:27 pm

    Andrew, I agree that it is dumb to plan on going to a tourney purely to see one player. There are people fussing that they got tickets to the ATP Cup before Fed withdrew. While I can understand being keen to see Fed, there are many terrific players in that tourney.

  • catherine · December 24, 2019 at 12:30 pm

    Yes, I think dirt and grass could suit Bianca well – the hard stuff is just too much bang bang bang on her joints and tendons.

    Kerber better be getting her invite ready for Bianca to enter Angie’s new grass tournament in Germany, she being tournament director and all.

  • Hartt · December 24, 2019 at 12:33 pm

    I don’t think there is any danger of Borfiga going back to France. He was with the French Federation when Monfils, Tsonga, etc., were young and up and coming players. But France’s best players are, for the most part, older guys. He won’t want to miss being involved with young players like FAA, Shapo and Bianca, who are at the beginning of their careers, and who show so much promise.

    And Louis would be nuts to go to the USTA, if what people here say about that organization is accurate!

  • Hartt · December 24, 2019 at 12:35 pm

    Catherine, yes, surely Kerber will want some “drama” at her tourney! And Bianca will need experience on grass.

  • catherine · December 24, 2019 at 12:39 pm

    Bianca missed Wimbledon this year. I doubt she wants to do that again. She might be in a big hurry to get her little badge before her limbs wear out and Gauff starts off on her million match run 🙂

  • Hartt · December 24, 2019 at 12:41 pm

    Andrew, I think you are right – Bianca’s team will have to be firm with her if she isn’t totally ready for the AO, because once she is there she will want to play, no matter what.

    She has said that she loves clay, so that bodes well for her. She doesn’t have real experience on grass, but her game should suit the grass tourneys.

  • Andrew Miller · December 24, 2019 at 12:55 pm

    Rarely got to see players I “wanted” to see, but very lucky to see players I had no idea I wanted to see 🙂 Just like many Canadian sports fans, who didn’t know what tennis was ten years ago or didn’t care (the levels of interest vary greatly), some now follow the sport because of Andreescu and her comrades on the men’s side.

    I don’t think it means much for future champs etc, Andreescu already sealed her legend as the best Canadian player to touch a racquet. But it should drive interest in the sport, a young exciting champ tends to put things in overdrive for other athletes that either never considered tennis or who were thinking about a few sports and then decide hey I want that.

    Certainly has filled the sports reporting rooms in Canada with more reporters following tennis. That can only be a good thing.

    As to Myles: she seems to cover the sport by holding her punches. She has a nice way with words as well. Her pieces on Bouchard have a nice touch. I’m sure her book is good.

  • Hartt · December 24, 2019 at 1:56 pm

    Andrew,yes I always thought Stephanie Myles was fair in her reporting about Genie Bouchard. She was willing to criticize Genie, but never was nasty about it. Myles also defended Genie when others claimed she only cared about social media, etc., and had no real interest in tennis.

    Because she reports on the Canadian players from the time they are young juniors she gets good access now. And because she is bilingual she can interview them in either English or French. For example, she got a terrific interview with FAA right after he beat Kyrgios. Nick was up to his usual antics and FAA was surprisingly blunt about how he felt regarding Nick.

  • Hartt · December 24, 2019 at 2:05 pm

    There are so many good players that it is a shame that many fans just want to see the big names. I still remember last year walking towards the main arena at the Rogers Cup to see FAA play what turned out to be a terrific match vs Pouille. Tons of people were walking away from the stadium, following a Djokovic match. I could not believe they weren’t staying to watch the young Canadian. (And they missed a much better match than the one with Novak.)

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 24, 2019 at 2:06 pm

    Myles is doing very good work. She does not try to get attention for herself or take stands. She just works hard and covers the sport and the players and is a top source for info. If anything she avoids controversy. She reads this site too, we had a minor disagreement about the Pierre Duclos scandal.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 24, 2019 at 2:33 pm

    Myles and myself disagreed on this case involving Pierre Duclos, who was released from jail this year after 72 months.

  • Andrew Miller · December 24, 2019 at 9:24 pm

    Agree with Hartt, Scoop. Myles does seem to be sympathetic to the player, much like Matt Cronin when he covered certain players. I skimmed her coverage of Bouchard before jotting out some impressions, and it is certainly a different take than that of Stefanki or of Michael Joyce. And she does maintain distance as well. Part of me believes Stefanki, Joyce aren’t missing much when it comes to the game and money side of the sport on this particular player.

    A long winded way of saying I like how Myles has gone about things, but sometimes she seems a little generous, as if to ensure the next interview is in place. I’m not sure if it was the “right time” to publish an Andreescu book, because it’s not clear to me what her stars hold at this point (seismic for Canada and for 2019 WTA tour, but who knows what comes next).

    But as it’s a Canadian pitch and I’m sure others are pitching books too, congratulations to Myles.



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