Sunday, January 20, 2008

Day 7: The Mercy Rule

After such a furious 48 hours of epic action, Melbourne Park was deserving of a "day of rest" on Sunday.

For the most part, it got it.

Oh, sure. There was the spare big match-turned-routine win (Serena over Vaidisova), dream-ending moment (Jankovic def. Dellacqua), not-so-stunning exit of a top seed (Youzhny def. Davydenko) and eye-opening upset (Domachowska over Li)... but the day might have been best represented by how it ended.

A day after seeing Hewitt/Baghdatis take Rod Laver Arena's last scheduled match past 4:30 in the morning, Rafael Nadal won Day 7's closer after a set and a half of action when Paul-Henri Mathieu chose to retire with an injured knee at 10:25 pm local time.

I'm sure the ticket-buying fans felt a bit cheated... but some of us were happy to be able to get a few extra winks under the cover of darkness.

(Plus, the NFL conference championship games are today, so a morning full of tennis would amount to something close to overkill at Backspin HQ.)

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #1: Women's 3rd Rd. - #14 Nadia Petrova/RUS def. Ekaterina Makarova/RUS - 6-1/7-6.

...sure, Nadia wobbled after taking a 6-1/5-1 lead, and the frustrated/relieved look on her face after finally putting this one away in a tight tie-break was evident. But the fact is that just by putting her head down and managing to move forward she's put herself in a better position in the draw than any would have expected going into Melbourne. A semifinalist will come from the Hantuchova/Kirilenko, Petrova/A.Radwanska section... and Nadia is the only one of the four to have tread on that semi-sacred ground previously in her career. A "Miss Opportunity" is set to be born, and only her name is a mystery. It could be "Nadia."

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #2: Women's 3rd Rd. - (Q) Marta Domachowska/POL def. #24 Li Na/CHN - 2-6/6-2/6-4.

...two Polish girls, but no Pastries, are in the Round of 16. A new day has certainly dawned. Domachowska has at the very least matched Hsieh Su-Wei, who lost in the 4th Rd. to Henin, in the "Last Qualifier Standing" competition.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #3: Women's Doubles 2nd Rd. - Alona Bondarenka/Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR/UKR) def. #8 Peng Shuai/Sun Tiantian (CHN/CHN) - 4-6/6-4/7-6.
...these sisters aren't as dominating as those OTHER sisters in the draw, but they ARE still here.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #4: Women's 3rd Rd. - Caroline Wozniacki/DEN def. (Q) Sabine Lisicki/GER - 4-6/6-4/6-3.

...C-Woz finally gets her grand slam breakthrough. Of course, now she gets AnaIvo, who's been playing as well as any woman in the draw.

6...RUS (4 women/2 men)
3...France (3/0)
3...Serbia (2/1)
3...Spain (3/0)
3...USA (2/1)
2...Australia (1/1)
2...Czech Republic (1/1)
2...Poland (2/0)
1...Belgium (1/0)
1...Croatia (0/1)
1...Denmark (1/0)
1...Finland (0/1)
1...Germany (1/0)
1...Slovakia (1/0)
1...Switzerland (0/1)
1...Taiwan (1/0)

[Women's Bottom Half]
#8 V.Williams def. (Q)Domachowska in 2 sets
#4 Ivanovic def. Wozniacki in 2 sets
#9 Hantuchova def. #27 Kirilenko in 2 sets
#14 Petrova def. #29 A.Radwanska in 3 sets(still hoping for the dream)

[Men's Top Half]
#1 Federer def. #13 Berdych in 3 sets
Cilic def. #12 Blake in 4 sets
#3 Djokovic def. #19 Hewitt in 3 sets
#5 Ferrer def. #22 Ferrero in 3 sets

[Women's Top Half]
#1 Henin def. #5 Sharapova in 3 sets
#7 S.Williams def. #3 Jankovic in 2 sets

[Men's Bottom Half]
#14 Youzhny def . Tsonga in 4 sets
#2 Nadal def. #24 Nieminen in 3 sets

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: Casey Dellacqua / AUS
ZOMBIE QUEEN: Jelena Jankovic / SRB (1st Rd.- down 3 MP to Paszek)
CRASH & BURN: #2 Svetlana Kuznetsova / RUS (3rd Rd.- A.Radwanska)
DOUBLES STAR: (vacant)

All for Day 7. More tomorrow.


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