Igor Vekić on his daughter Donna’s recent struggles

Comments by Donna Vekić’s father Igor, after she lost in the Thailand Open first round, on the difficult times she’s had of late.  Quoted in “Donna hasn’t tasted the sweetness of the second round for five months” by Anton Filić of Croatian newspaper Večernji List.

“Certainly, that’s not a result we can be satisfied with—Donna herself isn’t satisfied.  But every match is a different story.  After the Fed Cup in Budapest, she’d traveled a long way and didn’t manage to adapt.  And the conditions are difficult in Thailand.”

On her 1-6 1-6 loss to Aleksandra Krunić in Fed Cup:

“Donna missed seven game points.  I can’t say she would have won if she’d taken advantage of one of those chances, but she played a high quality match.  Donna’s simply going through a period every young sportsman or sportswoman goes through.  It’s unrealistic to expect the results to always be improving; down periods are normal.  But she’s surrounded by top experts—above all, her coaches John Evert and Iva Majoli—and they’ll surely know the best way to help her.  It’s unnecessary to put added pressure on Donna by talking about her poor results.”

Donna won’t play until Indian Wells, but will spend time at the Evert Academy in Boca Raton, Florida (where Ivanišević and Čilić will also be training) to prepare for that tournament.


Translated by Mark with an assist from Ana.

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Garbiñe Muguruza and the Spanish language

From “Hispanic Venezuelan or Venezuelan Hispanic?” by Alex Grijelmo, published in El Pais.

Our inferiority complex disappears if we have to share our name of origin with someone else.

Garbiñe Muguruza was born to a Spanish father and Venezuelan mother.  A year ago, she shone at Roland Garros, and with that began a debate about the sporting nationality that she adopted when she began to participate in Fed Cup (the women’s version of Davis Cup), or, later on, in the Olympics.  But this called attention to the fact that, at the time, the Spanish media referred to her as the “Hispanic Venezuelan” tennis player, and rarely “Venezuelan Hispanic” or “Venezuelan Spanish.”  Now, it is still more “Hispanic Venezuelan”—but it’s her decision, not ours.

Good education has led to everyday language placing the speaker at the end of any list, and because of this we say “my sister and I” and not “I and my sister.” When elementary school students make this error of inverting the terms, the teacher often gives them a useful phrase for the situation: “The donkey in front so that it doesn’t frighten.”

We still carry a certain inferiority complex in many areas (that’s why there are so many Anglicisms), but such prejudice is smashed to smithereens if we should share our name of origin with someone: here we put the first name of origin first, so that we don’t get frightened.  The dictionary itself does it when it defines the term “Hispanic” and details two examples of its association with other terms: “Hispanófilo, Hispanic American.”  In the second example, we understand “Hispanic” relates more to language than nationality; but in the first, the option “filohispano” would have fit.  In fact, the term “filo” appears in the dictionary in two places, where one can put in its place (in front or behind): “Filosoviético, anglófilo.”  However, “Hispanic” only appears in front.

We follow this path when describing a meeting between political leaders of Spain and of any other country (“Hispanic French summit” and not “French Hispanic summit”), or when we achieve something with others (“Hispanic Argentine movie,” as it happened in the sensational Relatos salvajes, and not “Argentine Spanish” or “Argentine Hispanic”).

Sometimes the genius of the language forces us, with the slowness and force of a gigantic panda, to order the compositional elements of a word as it desires.  For example, we can express the idea of “the end of a life” through the Spanish element of “kill” or with the Latin “cease” (which comes from caedere, “to kill”).  In the Spanish form, the verb will always go before, while the classic heritage makes us put the Latin element behind, so that there are synonyms and not: “matarratas”, but “raticida”; “matamoscas”, but “insecticida”; “matahombres”, but “homicida.”  And the same altercation between “matacucarachas” and “regicida”, “matahambre” and “genocida”, “matagigantes” and “parricida”, “matasanos” and “herbicida”…

But together with the strictness that stems from the history of the language, the genius of  language does allow certain flexibility with “Hispanic” and “Spanish.” Because of this, we should have sometimes have the courtesy, above all in official language, to invert the terms.  In this way, we would say “Festival of Argentine-Spanish Psychology.”  Because, by the way, in certain cases it’s worth recognizing that the other takes precedence.


Translated by Jared Pine.  Feedback and criticism are welcome; please let us know what you think in the comments.

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Kim Clijsters’ thoughts on the Antwerp Diamond Games

Quoted by Paul de Kuyser in the Gazet Van Antwerpen (16 Feb. 2015 print edition, page 19).

“‘Oh shit, what now?’ That’s what shot through my mind when we heard that Carla was withdrawing.

“It was the beginning of a chaotic ten minutes. Some quick decisions had to be made. Before I knew it, I was playing. What was I doing!  But I think the audience appreciated it.

“These are things your neighbours can’t help you to fix. If something doesn’t work in a team sport, you put a substitute on the field. That’s not possible in tennis. It’s obviously far from pleasant to be confronted with such a situation, but ultimately I still look back on a good week. With Andrea Petkovic we also had a top player and a great personality on the honour roll.

“You know what affected me most during the last week? When Dominika Cibulkova couldn’t play Friday night in her quarter-final against Andrea Petkovic. Whatever her reason, it was serious. Proof: she had to withdraw from her next tournament. Dominika found that she couldn’t play and withdrew out of respect for her opponent, the public and the organisation.

“Anyway, I’m very satisfied with the sporting performance. Sure, you’d like to see your top two seeds play in the final. On the other hand, if Bouchard plays at anything less than her best and Barthel plays her best, then she’ll win. That’s how it is in sports and that’s good. Wouldn’t it be really boring if the favourite always won? That’s why I’m not at all disappointed in anyone. The feedback from the top players was also quite good. Kirsten Flipkens and Yanina Wickmayer, for example, had already lost in the first round, but asked immediately if they could do something for us.

“Finally, I found this Diamond Games a unique experience for me—very instructive. Of course, there are things that can be improved and polished here and there, but overall I thought it can be considered a successful event. From Wednesday on, there were quite a few people in the Sportpaleis, the light show and the music introducing the players was better. We can continue to build on this formula for next year, so the re-introduced Diamond Games acquire a permanent place on Belgian tennis lovers’ agenda.”


Translated by Mark.  Feedback and criticism are welcome; please let us know what you think in the comments.

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Luca Vanni in Sao Paulo

Interview by Riccardo Crivelli in the 15 February 2015 print edition of  La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I’m in a dream,” said Luca Vanni after his win over Joao-Olavo Souza in São Paulo, Brazil.

“These are emotions I’ll never forget, especially when it wasn’t easy playing with the entire crowd against me.

“I’ve always been told that without bad luck I could have been top 50, but right now I’m extremely happy being in the top 100 and maybe go higher. That was the goal for this year.”


Translated by Mark.  Feedback and criticism are welcome; please let us know what you think in the comments.

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Gilles Simon, post-loss to Berdych in Rotterdam

Interviews by Franck Ramella from the 15 February 2015 print edition of  l’Équipe.

“Tomas served hard, he hit bullets.  I just couldn’t do anything against him.  He was flawless in all areas, and his returns really impressed me.  He even hit shots he doesn’t know how to hit, especially cross-court chips.  Sometimes it felt like I was playing four people… When it’s going badly against that kind of player it can go quickly—something like against Roger.  I can bother him, but I also remember getting taken 1 and 2.

“I’d say I’m playing well right now.  Everything’s fine physically.  But I’d put Montpellier and Rotterdam on the same level.  There and here, I lost the two big matches against Janowicz and Berdych.  I didn’t manage to raise my level.  I was missing something when the other guy gave me something tough. And I’m normally pretty good at that.”

Jan de Witt’s perspective: “A very disappointing match.  A very bad quality of play against a very good Berdych.  The worst thing was the high number of unforced errors before Gilles sort of started panicking a bit.  But against Murray, he played well tactically.  He played quicker without missing very much.  Andy could even change his game plan three times during the match and Gilles found a solution each time.  That was good, and it will still be a good week.”


Translated by Mark.  Feedback and criticism are welcome; please let us know what you think in the comments.

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