Thursday, June 07, 2007

Day 12: Eeny, Meeny...Mighty, and AnaIvo

Well, there wasn't much to that, was there? The women's singles semifinals, I mean.

The matchups between Justine Henin and Jelena Jankovic, as well as Ana Ivanovic and Maria Sharapova, were virtual clinics in how to sweep through a grand slam semifinal as tidily as possible. No additional sweat and tears were expended here, all the better for the impending clash on Saturday. After the ease with which both three-time champ Henin and first-time slam finalist coasted through both their quarterfinal and semifinal matches, we should be in for a great final in two days time.

Or not.

After all, Ivanovic has to show her big grand slam match inexperience at some point, right? Even after dominating Russians with a combined three slam crowns to their names in her previous two matches, she'll still have to raise her game once again in order to extend her current twelve-match winning streak when she plays Henin. It's not likely that the Serb will have a 3-0 lead in the 1st set eleven minutes into the match as she did against Sharapova.

Agreeing with the collective intelligence of the late-arriving crowd that missed her slow start at Chatrier today, Sharapova said, "I'd rather be having a chocolate croissant than being down 3-0."

The Supernova, who herself described her clay court movement as comparable to "a cow on ice" less than two weeks ago, simply wasn't her Supernovic self on Day 12. Even when she managed to get break points on the Serb's serve, she failed to convert them. The serve of her own that she'd rediscovered in Paris produced five double-faults today. The racket (or one of them, at least) that pulled her through that 4th Round match against Patty Schnyder produced just nine winners versus twenty-five unforced errors in the 6-2/6-1 loss. Henin won't likely give her opponent such as enthusiastic an assist as Sharapova (or Svetlana Kuznetsova in the QF), though. Henin won't come up quite so small. Not in Paris.

But, then again, AnaIvo made do with hitting tennis balls inside an empty pool during her winters in Serbia while growing up... yet here she is in the Roland Garros final five months before her 20th birthday. So who's to put anything past Ivanovic less than 48 hours from now?

Still, Henin will be carrying a 33-set Roland Garros winning streak into Saturday. And her consummate performance against Jankovic only made her an even stronger bet to become the first woman to three-peat at this tournament in fifteen years. In the semifinal, while her countrywoman flew above it all, Jankovic barely got a whiff of even minor victories against the White Whale she's still yet to defeat in six attempts. In the past, though, she's often claimed the 1st set, and always played into a 3rd one. Not this time.

Against Henin on Day 12, Jankovic only had two break point opportunities on Henin's serve (The Queen had twelve on her's). Oh, she gave things a good try in the early going, but her Ahabian destiny couldn't help but be apparent pretty quickly. Meeting Henin on her turf, the red clay, was always going to be a tough nut to crack (oh, if only she could meet Le Petit Taureau in the interview room), but having to do so there against the Belgian in tip-top form was almost unfair.

The little daylight that Henin allowed Jankovic to see in the match, in retrospect, almost feels as if is was revealed with a secret smirk. "Oh, you want to finally break me in the fifth game of the 2nd set? Fine. Then I'll just break back in the sixth." Which Henin did. Then, to pour salt into an old wound, the world #1 held the same set and 4-2, with game point for 5-2, that Jankovic held on her in the U.S. Open semifinal last September. In New York, Jankovic lost ten straight games, while today Henin battled through three deuces and one Jankovic break point before essentially closing the door on any anti-Melville turnabout by holding for a 6-2/5-2 lead. One game later, it was all over.

Jelena was last seen as her face dipped below the surface of the water... hoping she gets another chance at revenge on the White Whale on the grass, or in America.

She might, too. But that doesn't matter now. For Queen Justine, it's a case of one Serbian down, one to go.

Love-Love...the first champions of Roland Garros '07 were crowned when France's own Nathalie Dechy and partner Andy Ram defeated the defending champion team of Katarina Srebotnik/Nenad Zimonjic in the Mixed Doubles by a 7-5/6-3 score. It's the second career slam title for both Dechy and Ram. Ironically, both won their previous titles with Vera Zvonareva. Dechy took the '06 U.S. Open Doubles with the Russian, while Ram the '06 Wimbledon Mixed.

2003 Lisa Raymond/Mike Bryan
2004 Tatiana Golovin/Richard Gasquet
2005 Daniela Hantuchova/Fabrice Santoro
2006 Katarina Srebotnik/Nenad Zimonjic
2007 Nathalie Dechy/Andy Ram

15-love...the remaining Americans were pared down from three to two on Day 12 as Kellen Damico advanced to the semis of both the Boys Singles and Doubles, while Alexa Glatch reached the Girls Doubles.

#9 Lukas Dlouhy(CZE)/Pavel Vizner(CZE) vs. #6 Mark Knowles(BAH)/Daniel Nestor(CAN)

#1 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova(RUS) vs. Mariana Duque Marino(COL)
#6 Ksenia Milevskaya(BLR) vs. #2 Alize Cornet(FRA)

#1 Matteo Trevisan(ITA) vs. #5 Greg Jones(AUS)
#10 Kellen Damico(USA) vs. #12 Vladimir Ignatic(BLR)

Elena Chernyakova(RUS)/Jessica Moore(AUS) vs. Sorana Cirstea(ROU)/Alexa Glatch(USA)

#3 Ksenia Milevskaya(BLR)/Urszula Radwanska(POL) vs. Lenka Jurikova(SVK)/Katarzyna Piter(POL)

Thomas Fabbiano(ITA)/Andrei Karatchenia(BLR) vs. #4 Stephen Donald(AUS)/John-Patrick Smith(AUS)

Aljaz Bedena(SLO)/Andrej Martin(SVK) vs. #2 Kellen Damico(USA)/Jonathan Eysseric(FRA)


[overall/at RG]
12...Martina Hingis [5-7/0-2]
11...Venus Williams [5-6/0-1]
10...Serena Williams [8-2/1-0]
10...JUSTINE HENIN [5-4/3-0]
6....Mary Pierce [2-4/1-2]
3....Maria Sharapova [2-1/0-0]
3....Amelie Mauresmo [2-1/0-0]
2....Svetlana Kuznetsova [1-1/0-1]
2....Elena Dementieva [0-2/0-1]
1....Anastasia Myskina [1-0/1-0]
1....ANA IVANOVIC [0-0/0-0]

1997 [JUNIOR] def. Cara Black 4-6/6-4/6-4
2003 def. Kim Clijsters 6-0/6-4
2005 def. Mary Pierce 6-1/6-1
2006 def. Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4/6-4

2003 Anna-Lena Groenefeld(GER) d. Vera Dushevina(RUS)
2004 Sesil Karatantcheva(BUL) d. Madalina Gojnea(ROU)
2005 Agnes Szavay(HUN) d. Ioana-Raluca Olaru(ROU)
2006 Agnieszka Radwanska(POL) d. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova(RUS)

2003 Stanislas Wawrinka d. Brian Baker
2004 Gael Monfils d. Alex Kuznetsov
2005 Marin Cilic d. Antal Van Der Duim
2006 Martin Klizan d. Philip Bester

30-30...Belarussian Ksenia Milevskaya is the likely "Junior Breakout" winner for Roland Garros, where winning the title is not a prerequisite. Her earlier wins over Urszula Radwanska and Madison Brengle, her trip to the Girls SF in Singles and Doubles (with U-Rad) mark the #6-seed as the biggest climber in this slam's junior competition (even if she did reach the SF in Oz, as well). Of course, this could all change if surprise semifinalist Mariano Duque Marino of Colombia manages to upset top-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Pavlyuchenkova, by the way, has to be looking to move out of the junior ranks soon, what with her incredible success the last few years at the slams. She's won the Girls title at the Australian the last two years, claimed the U.S. Open title last season, and was RU at Roland Garros in '06, as well.
30-40...with Jankovic's loss and Ivanovic's win, AnaIvo officially claim's RG "It Girl" award.

06 Australian Open: Samantha Stosur
06 Roland Garros: Nicole Vaidisova
06 Wimbledon: Na Li
06 U.S. Open: Jelena Jankovic
07 Australian Open: Shahar Peer
07 Roland Garros: Ana Ivanovic

MATCH, "Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday dear...Anna Kournikova. Happy 26th birthday to you."

TOP QUALIFIERS: Timea Bacsinszky & Ioana-Raluca Olaru
TOP EARLY ROUND (1r-2r): Justine Henin
TOP MID-ROUND (3r-QF): Justine Henin
TOP LATE ROUND (SF-F): (vacant)
FIRST SEED OUT: #31 Severine Bremond (1r- M.Krajicek)
LAST QUALIFIERS STANDING: Dominika Cibulkova, Alla Kudryavtseva & Ioana-Raluca Olaru (all 3rd Rd.)
IT GIRL: Ana Ivanovic
DOUBLES STAR: Katarina Srebotnik

All for Day 12.


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