Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Day 3: Re-Introducing the Hardline According to Maria Sharapova

Well, it wasn't entirely a sequel to "the demolition heard 'round the world" in last year's Australian Open final, in which an (un)Supernova was on the other side of the equation, but Maria Sharapova's thorough dominance over Lindsay Davenport in their 2nd Round meeting on Day 3 WAS something of an act of redemption... and a reminder to the rest of the field that her disappointing 2007 season is NOT going to suddenly become her new standard.

Sharapova's 6-1/6-3 victory was highlighted by the return (or, following her recovery in Madrid in November, a continuation) of a confident serve game and thought-out aggression that put Davenport on her heels and never allowed her to regain her balance and get back into the match. In the blink of an eye, Sharapova led (in Serena-esque fashion?) 5-0 and had only lost six total points. By the time Davenport finally held serve, the Supernovic avalanche was already more than halfway to base camp and the good night's sleep that awaited.

For the second straight match, Sharapova faced no break points on her serve, winning 86% of her 1st serve points, and compiling a 60-37 edge in total points.

Even Davenport, as if she had any other conclusion to draw, admitted to her opponent being "head and shoulders" above her on this particular night... even if the comebacking mom still considers herself "the luckiest girl in the world" to find herself in the position she now does both on and off-court.

Of course, even with all the pre-match build-up, this is still just ONE match. Sharapova has a long road ahead in Melbourne before she can reach her goal, one likely littered with a Justine and possibly a pair of Williamses.

A Supernova's work is never done.

Love-Love... don't look now, but Rafa is stirring. Maybe the slower court surface is playing more to his strengths. Surely, Florent Serra will say nothing about Nadal's less-than-brilliantly-bright chances to win a hard court slam title after his 6-0/6-2/6-2 crushing at the hands of the Spaniard in the 2nd Round.

Hmmm... Federer cruised in the 1st Round. Nadal is through to the 3rd. No one was predicting another Roger-Rafa grand slam final in Melbourne, but such a thing was thought an improbable scenario at SW19 a few seasons ago, too.
Love-15... well, at least one qualifier is assured of reaching the final 32 on the women's side, as Taiwan's Su-Wei Hsieh knocked out #19-seed Sybille Bammer (whew! 6-2/6-0!) on Day 3. Meanwhile, Yuan Meng and Sandra Kloesel's dreams were ended, as were those of American Sam Warburg.

Four more women's qualifiers, along with three men, will be in action on Thursday.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #1: Women's 2nd Rd. - Casey Dellacqua/AUS def. #15 Patty Schnyder/SUI - 4-6/7-5/8-6.

.......Alicia? Sam? Jelena? Jarmila? How about Casey? Unless newcomer Anastasia Rodionova upsets #28 Katarina Srebotnik on Day 4, Dellacqua is the Last Sheila Standing.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #2: Women's 2nd Rd. - Aravane Rezai/FRA def. #13 Tatiana Golovin/FRA - 6-3/3-6/6-3.
.......Wherefore art thou, Mats?

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #3: Men's Doubles 1st Rd. - Juan Pablo Brzezicki/Agustin Calleri (ARG/ARG) def. John Isner/Ivo Karlovic (USA/CRO) - 7-6/6-3.
.....the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Hmmm, I wonder if a cloud of pepper spray would reach their eye level earlier or later than their opponents?
Love-40... Nicole Vaidisova is denying any romance with Radek "He Got Game" Stepanek, even if reports of "inappropriate touching between friends... if that's all they are" are still popping up.

Is this the Australian Open, or Wimbledon? Speaking of, imagine if this little game is still being played come June. The tabloid editors are already dabbing at the drool dripping off their lips.
MATCH, "Opinions are like a-- holes, everyone has one -- but you don't HAVE to display them to the world"... Australian TV tennis commentator (and ex-Lleyton Hewitt coach) Roger Rasheed likes Venus Williams.

Especially a certain part of her anatomy.

All fine and good, I suppose... but did no one question the slo-mo and zoom part of the equation?

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: The Russians
IT GIRL: (vacant)
[SPECIAL OZ AWARD]: (vacant)
DOUBLES STAR: (vacant)

All for Day 3. More tomorrow.


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