Thursday, January 17, 2008

Day 4: The Pursuit of Excellence...on a Grand Scale

Even when Roger Federer gets sick, it works to his advantage... or so it would appear after two brilliant matches in Melbourne.

Even food poisoning, while it may have made him appear mortal for about a week earlier this month, can't allow the men's field to catch a break from the world's best player.

No tune-up matches? Potentially tired? Ripe for a bad day and, egads, an early-round loss?

Yeah, right.

All Federer's done is put together back-to-back matches that have exhibited a dominance like no one has ever seen in a grand slam event. Through two rounds, he's lost six games... in total. His latest masterpiece was a 6-1/6-2/6-0 clinic against Fabrice Santoro, only the player who's played in more grand slams (62) than any man in the history of the sport. Yet again on Day 4, Federer made perfection seem possible, and his pursuit of it as intriguing as any five-set duel in a final could ever hope to be.

As when Tiger Woods puts up a 22-under par score while his closest competitor is left at least a dozen shots in his wake, Federer smothering an opponent with every shot in the book (and a few that shouldn't be, or aren't at all) is must-see stuff.

At the start of a season where he could secure immortality, Federer so far looks up to the challenge. Could it be that his offseason exhibition tour with all-time slam champ Pete Sampras has actually managed to make him a BETTER player even more focused on carving out a place in the history of the game so far up in the clouds that future generations will marvel at the audacity of it all?

Ummm... yeah, maybe.

Mister Federer is ready for his close-up.


TOP PLAYER: Maria Sharapova / RUS
...but does another A-Rad lurk in her future? Elena Vesnina is up next.
RISERS: Elena Vesnina / RUS & Hsieh Su-Wei / TPE

SURPRISES: Ekaterina Makarova / RUS & Sabine Lisicki / GER

VETERANS: Virginia Ruano-Pasual / ESP & Amelie Mauresmo / FRA

FRESH FACES: Aravane Rezai / FRA & Casey Dellacqua / AUS
DOWN: Agnes Szavay / HUG & Dinara Safina / RUS
COMEBACKS: Marta Domachowska / POL & Ai Sugiyama / JPN

1st Rd.: #3 Jelena Jankovic/SRB d. Tamira Paszek/AUT
Crazy. A Zombie. And Bethanie Mattek's doubles partner. It all sort of fits, don't you think?
2nd Rd.: Casey Dellacqua/AUS d. #15 Patty Schnyder/SUI
Hmmm, I wonder if Casey got any pointers from Patty's husband before the match?
Love-15... two more qualifiers advanced to the women's 3rd Round, meaning three players will now battle for the "Last Qualifier Standing" title.

Marta Domachowska, POL (vs. #24 Li Na)
Hsieh Su-Wei, TPE (vs. Rezai)
Sabine Lisicki, GER (vs. Wozniacki)

No men's qualifiers advanced to the final 32.

8...RUS (Chakvatadze, Dementieva, Kirilenko, Kuznetsova, Makarova, Petrova, Sharapova, Vesnina)
3...FRA (Mauresmo, Razzano, Rezai)
2...POL (Domachowska, A.Radwanska)
2...SRB (Ivanovic, Jankovic)
2...USA (Williams, Williams)
1...AUS (Dellacqua)
1...BEL (Henin)
1...BLR (Azarenka)
1...CHN (Li)
1...CZE (Vaidisova)
1...DEN (Wozniacki)
1...ESP (Ruano-Pascual)
1...GER (Lisicki)
1...IND (Mirza)
1...ISR (Peer)
1...ITA (Schiavone)
1...JPN (Sugiyama)
1...SLO (Srebotnik)
1...SVK (Hantuchova)
1...TPE (Hsieh)

1-0...Ana Ivanovic, SRB
1-0...Alicia Molik, AUS
1-0...Maria Sharapova, RUS
1-0...Venus Williams, USA
0-1...Lindsay Davenport, USA
0-1...Tathiana Garbin, ITA
0-1...Kaia Kanepi, EST
0-1...Yan Zi, CHN
1-0...Marcos Baghdatis, CYP
1-0...Roger Federer, SUI
1-0...Rafael Nadal, ESP
1-0...Andy Roddick, USA
0-1...Michael Berrer, GER
0-1...Diego Hartfield, ARG
0-1...Marat Safin, RUS
0-1...Viktor Troicki, SRB


SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #1: Women's 2nd Rd. - #2 Svetlana Kuznetsova/RUS def. Tsvetana Pironkova/BUL - 7-6/6-2.
...the "other" Bulgarian has pulled a few grand slam upsets in the past, and when she served at 5-3 in the 1st it looked as if another might be lurking. Umm, no.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #2: Women's 2nd Rd. - #8 Venus Williams/USA def. Camille Pin/FRA - 7-5/6-4.
...Pin ALMOST pulls upsets at slams all the time (Sharapova in Oz last year, for example), but she generally comes up short, though in entertainingly fashion. Up 5-4 in the 1st, then 4-2 in the 2nd, it happened again on Day 4.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #3: Women's Doubles 1st Rd. - Serena Williams/Venus Williams (USA/USA) def. Monique Adamczak/Christina Wheeler (AUS/AUS) - 7-5/6-1. they come again. (Cue the theme to "Jaws.")

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #4: Women's 2nd Rd. - Ekaterina Makarova/RUS def. Yvonne Meusburger/AUT - 6-3/6-1.
...considering Makarova also reached the 3rd Round at last year's US Open, maybe she's not really a "surprise" anymore.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #5: Women's 2nd Rd. - #14 Nadia Petrova/RUS def. Anne Kremer/LUX - 7-5/7-5.
...the dream remains alive.
MATCH, "U-Rad, we're waiting on you"...

...Agnieszka Radwanska advanced to the 3rd Round on Thursday, and fellow Polish countrywoman Marta Domachowska did, as well. So, how long will it be before there's the possibility of THREE Poles being one match away from the Round of 16 at a slam? Urszula Radwanska lost in the final round of qualifying for this Australian Open, so by the end of this season, it might very well be possible.

A: Belarussians
R: Italians
W: French
U: Ukrainians
A: Poles

TOP QUALIFIER: Julia Schruff / GER
TOP EARLY ROUND (1r-2r): Maria Sharapova / RUS
TOP MIDDLE-ROUND (3r-QF): (vacant)
TOP LATE ROUND (SF-F): (vacant)
TOP EARLY RD. MATCH (1r-2r): 1st - Jankovic def. Paszek 2-6/6-2/12-10
TOP MIDDLE-RD. MATCH (3r-QF): (vacant)
TOP LATE RD. MATCH (SF-F): (vacant)
FIRST SEED OUT: #32 Julia Vakulenko / UKR (1st Rd.-Vesnina)
UPSET QUEENS: The Russians
IT GIRL: (vacant)
ZOMBIE QUEEN: Jelena Jankovic / SRB (1st Rd.- down 3 MP to Paszek)
DOUBLES STAR: (vacant)

All for Day 4. More tomorrow.


Blogger Eric said...

it's not a good tournament for guys named andy...

Fri Jan 18, 10:38:00 AM EST  
Blogger Eric said...

btw, have you seen any of su-wei hsieh's matches? what are her strengths? and do you know what massive improvement she has made that is allowing her to play so much better than before?

Fri Jan 18, 10:51:00 AM EST  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Haven't seen her yet, but since she'll play Henin next I'm thinking she'll get some coverage. :)

Fri Jan 18, 03:03:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Last time I looked, Hsieh doesn't even have a photo on the WTA website... so I guess no one's paying her too much attention yet. :)

Fri Jan 18, 03:04:00 PM EST  

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