Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Day 2: Anna's Luck Turns

After a few months where it's seemed as if she's had black cats stapled to the tops of her shoes, Anna Chakvetadze was deserving of a break.

Thanks, Andrea Petkovic. Oh, and sorry... hopefully you'll be all right.

After a late season slide in '07 that was only finally abated with a trip to the YEC semifinals in November, the 20-year old Russian has been robbed, tied up in her own home, and had to deal with the lingering mental and physical injuries caused by the still-at-large home invaders. On the court, she hasn't exactly been able to brighten her days, either. A disappointing (but familiar) performance against Maria Sharapova in the Hong Kong exhibition in Week 1 was soon followed by a 1st Round exit last week in Sydney.

Enter 20-year old German Andrea Petkovic, who was out of their 1st Round match on Day 2 barely after it had even begun. Before one game was complete, Petkovic had caught her foot on the court (hmmm, I thought the new Plexicushion surface wasn't going to continue this annual Oz Open tradition) and injured her knee... and that was that. The Doll advanced to the Round of 64 with only a few moments of actual play.

Hopefully, Petkovic will recover quickly. But the "good news" is that Chakvetadze gets a rare moment to breathe before she faces fellow Hordette Alisa Kleybanova in Round 2. The thought of finding a way to silp through the semi-open door in the bottom section of the draw, and into the deep stretches of this tournament a year after reaching the QF, isn't a far out one for her, but right now that IS a far off prospect.

This is Chakvetadze's opportunity to breathe. She deserves it.

Love-Love... it looks like the Russians are going to win this Oz's "Upset Queens" crown.

On Monday, Elena Vesnina knocked out the first seed of this event, #32 Julia Vakulenko. The on Tuesday, qualifier Alisa Kleybanova upset Peng Shuai, while Ekaterina Makarova outdueled #20 Agnes Szavay (altogether now, C-U-R-...) in a 7-5 3rd set. Unless some major surprises happen in the 2nd Round, the Hordettes pretty much have this one wrapped up.

A: Czechs
R: Romanians
W: Austrians
U: Russians
A: Russians???

Love-15... seven women's qualifiers won 1st Round matches, along with four men.

Alisa Kleybanova, RUS (def. Peng)
Timea Bacsinszky, SUI (def. Ferguson)
Sabine Lisicki, GER (def. #16 Safina)
Amer Delic, USA (def. Kendrick)
Robin Haase, NED (def. #17 Ljubicic)
Denis Gremelmayr, GER (def. Roitman)


SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #1: Women's 1st Rd. - Ekaterina Makarova/RUS def. #20 Agnes Szavay/HUN - 3-6/6-4/7-5.
.....szplat!! I'm still holding a candle that this is just a slow start. But, still, the opening week loss too Lucky Loser Yuliana Fedak was followed up by a loss to Makarova (after winning the opening set) to drop Szavay's 2008 record to 0-2. When the Valkyrie broke the Russian when Makarova was serving at 5-3 in the 3rd, it looked like she might avert falling off the 1st Round precipice. But, no. On the bright side, Szavay's loss might open the door a crack, wide enough for Nadia Petrova to slip through to the 4th Round. Petrova defeated Nicole Pratt in the 1st Round on Day 2 (the Aussie vet promptly announced her retirement), faces Anne Kremer next, and would meet the Meusburger/Makarova winner after that to reach the Round of 16 (and probably face Kuznetsova, unless she stumbles against Pironkova or A-Rad). But maybe all that's just wishful thinking, huh? Chicken salad out of chicken s---, you know.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #2: Men's 1st Rd. - Vincent Spadea/USA def. #30 Radek Stepanek/CZE - 2-6/2-6/7-5/6-2/6-3 .
.....at least he's still got game in other areas of his life.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #3: Men's 1st Rd. - Fabrice Santoro/FRA def. John Isner/USA - 6-2/6-2/6-4.
...the bigger they are, the harder they fall.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #4: Women's 1st Rd. - Anastasia Rodionova/AUS def. (Q)Angelika Bachman/GER - 7-6/6-4.
...."AUS" is working out pretty well so far for the ex-Hordette.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #5: Women's 1st Rd. - Sofia Arvidsson/FIN def. #10 Marion Bartoli/FRA - 6-7/6-4/6-3.

...Pierce was busy.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #6: Men's 1st Round - (Q)Robin Haase/NED def. #17 Ivan Ljubicic/CRO - 6-7/6-3/6-0/7-6.
...rarely has so much talent amounted to so little.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #7: Women's 1st Round - Caroline Wozniacki/DEN def. Gisela Dulko/ARG - 6-1/6-1.
Love-40... on the eve of the Match of the Tournament (or at least the Match of the First Three Days), the popular conventional wisdom is that Sharapova will prevail over Davenport.

Sharapova leads 4-1 in career meetings, but all four wins have been three-set affairs surrounding that fabled 6-0/6-0 beatdown Lindsay put on Maria in 2005.

We shall see. I'll still go with Davenport until she loses. At which point I guess I'd have to change my pick to "Sharapova over Davenport."

(whistles, and walks away very quietly)

MATCH, "Roger Federer's Magic Elixir..." maybe King Roger will be able to pick up some extra pocket change by marketing whatever his cure was for his recent "illness." Since, after his 6-0/6-3/6-0 wipe out of Diego Hartfield on Tuesday in his first match of 2008, it must be pretty potent stuff.

Then again, maybe it's just in his genes.

TOP QUALIFIER: Julia Schruff / GER
TOP EARLY ROUND (1r-2r): (vacant)
TOP MIDDLE-ROUND (3r-QF): (vacant)
TOP LATE ROUND (SF-F): (vacant)
FIRST SEED OUT: #32 Julia Vakulenko, UKR (1st Rd.-Vesnina)
UPSET QUEENS: (vacant)
IT GIRL: (vacant)
[SPECIAL OZ AWARD]: (vacant)
DOUBLES STAR: (vacant)

All for Day 2. More tomorrow.


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