Thursday, May 31, 2007

Day 5: The Tide Rolls In

The final 32 are in place (well, 31 plus two players who'll have to play their 2nd Round match tomorrow to become #32), and there are a few surprises.

Just call it the "official" rise of the next wave of women's tennis stars.

Oh, you've got the Justine's, Serena's and Maria's, but you also have an Alla, a Dominika and an Ioana-Raluca. They're all teenagers, and they've all strung together five straight wins to make it through qualifying and into the 3rd Round of the Roland Garros main draw.

Dominika Cibulkova, 18 (SVK)
Alla Kudrayvtseva, 19 (RUS)
Ioana-Raluca Olaru, 18 (ROU)

It's great to see one of the Romanians, who I tried to peg before the season as the new group of tennis revolutionaries to keep tabs on, making strides in a slam. And so soon after Olaru reached her first two tour semifinals in recent months, and fellow Romanian Sorana Cirstea reached the final in Budapest. Six different Romanians have won ITF tour titles in '07, and soon Olaru might just prove to be the best singles player from her country since Irina Spirlea pushed and shoved her way onto the scene in the 1990's. The Russians may end up with more early round upsets than the Romanians, but my heart's soft spot for this group practically forces me to name them (Olaru, a winner over #30 Julia Vakulenko and Tatiana Poutchek, and Edina Gallovits, who defeated Vasilisa Bardina) the Roland Garros "Upset Queens."

Since the old Czechoslovakia split up, the Czech tennis machine has made great strides in building a foundation that hopes to one day rival it's storied one during the days of Communism. But Slovakia, aside from Daniela Hantuchova, has lagged behind. Finally, though, there are a few complementary players to Wonder Girl. Jarmila Gajdosova suffered a disappointing 1st Round loss at Roland Garros, but Cibulkova is still alive and kicking.

And, though they really don't need another teenager to join their ranks, the Russians have another Hordette to worry about in Kudryavtseva, who'll next face... yep, the Supernova herself. (Grrr, why didn't I go ahead and predict her to pull an upset of Sharapova when I did my Roland Garros preview? I ALMOST did... not that that means anything on Day 5.)

The tide stops for no man, nor for women's tennis.


Russia (6)
Italy (4)
France (3)
...Bartoli,Cohen Aloro,Mauresmo
2...Czech Republic (Vaidisova,Safarova)
2...Serbia (Ivanovic,Jankovic)
2...USA (Williams,Williams)
1...Australia (Stosur)
1...Austria (Bammer)
1...Belgium (Henin)
1...China (N.Li)
1...Israel (Peer)
1...Japan (Sugiyama)
1...Netherlands (Krajicek)
1...Romania (Olaru)
1...Slovakia (Cibulkova)
1...Slovenia (Srebotnik)
1...Spain (Medina-Garrigues)
1...Switzerland (Schnyder)
[still to play]
Hantuchova(SVK) vs. Poutchkova(RUS)

============================= about star power! In doubles action today, the team of Ivanovic & Kirilenko faced off against Jankovic & Na Li. Jankovic/Li were victorious by a 6-1/6-2 scoreline, but the real winners were the fans (and all the photographers who'll probably be able to sell a few shots from this session).

TOP PLAYER: Justine Henin
RISERS: Michaella Krajicek & Karin Knapp
SURPRISES: Alla Kudryavtseva & Stephanie Cohen Aloro
VETERANS: Francesca Schiavone & Tathiana Garbin
FRESH FACES Iona-Raluca Olaru & Dominika Cibulkova
DOWN: Nadia Petrova & Zi Yan/Jie Zheng
MATCH: 2nd - V.Williams d. Harkleroad 6-1/7-6(8)... and Venus hit a slam record 128 mph serve, too
============================= should really be no surprise that Lleyton Hewitt came back from two sets down to defeat '04 RG champ Gaston Gaudio today, considering he's never seemed to think he'd ever repeat his feat of three years ago. In 2005, he returned to Paris to "defend" his title, saying he had no chance whatsoever to do it again. Ever since, it's been a self-fulfilling prophecy for the Argentine. He hasn't advanced past the Round of 16 in any of the ten slams he's played since winning that title... just like he hadn't in the twenty slams he played before he was crowned champion. Hmmm, maybe Gaston just knows Gaston better than anyone else, huh?
30-30...while there are three qualifiers standing in the women's draw, there's only one in the men's: Juan Pablo Brzezicki of Argentina.

06 Australian Open: Spain
06 Roland Garros: United States
06 Wimbledon: Great Britain
06 US Open: France
07 Australian Open: Czech Republic
07 Roland Garros: Romania


SCORELINE #1: Doubles 1st Round - Krajicek/A.Radwanska def. Groenefeld/Suarez 6-2/6-0

...oh, Anna-Lena.

SCORELINE #2: Doubles 1st Round - Llagostera-Vives/Martinez Sanchez def. #3 Yan/Zheng 6-4/6-4

...something just isn't right with these two in '07.
Ad...two key 3rd Round matchups are coming up, as Jelena Jankovic does battle with Venus Williams and Amelie Mauresmo gets her slam rematch with Melbourne conqueror Lucie Safarova. Ironically, while Jankovic must fight against having peaked too soon coming into Paris, Mauresmo might just have a shot to peak at just the right time after her return from appendicitus... in the half of the draw where Sharapova, who's never reached a clay final on tour, is the highest seed. Hmmm...
MATCH, "And Venus and Serena will carry the flag of sisterhood for all the world"...maybe it was the prospect of possibly playing each other in the 3rd Round, or maybe it was Patty Schnyder (who beat Kateryna) and Karin Knapp (who upset #22-seed Alona). Either way, the Bondarenkos are no longer a part of this year's singles draw at Roland Garros. Of all the sibling pairs who came to Paris, only the Williams sisters remain intact. Boy, NO ONE would have predicted THEY'D be the last two, huh? Sometimes, predictability is good.

TOP QUALIFIERS: Timea Bacsinszky & Ioana-Raluca Olaru
TOP EARLY ROUND (1r-2r): Justine Henin
TOP MID-ROUND (3r-QF): (vacant)
TOP LATE ROUND (SF-F): (vacant)
FIRST SEED OUT: #31 Severine Bremond (1r- M.Krajicek)
IT GIRL: (vacant)
DOUBLES STAR: (vacant)

All for Day 5.


Blogger Eric said...

i haven't watched the jankovic - v. williams match yet, but i did watch tipsarevic (against marat) and djoko (against the french qualifier) on yahoo's highlight reels...did you notice that when they scored points they did this double fisted, squat-clench thing? it was so odd because most guys do fist pumps...but both serbs did this constipated move thingy...i don't quite know how to describe it...

eagerly awaiting the revised nickname...

Fri Jun 01, 02:59:00 PM EDT  

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