Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Day 2: Zombies!?!?

Maybe Court 2, the "Graveyard of Champions," has lost it's dark magic. Either that, or the grounds of the All-England Club are currently "home turf" to a handful of zombies named Martina, Serena and Venus.

Over the years, the "hallowed" site has built its reputation on its odd prime-for-distraction placement, which simultaneously unnerves top players and energizes underdogs enough for them to pull off huge upsets. But after two days of Wimbledon '07, several "big fish" have wiggled off the hook.

On Monday, Martina Hingis saved two match points against Naomi Cavaday. Then, soon afterward, Serena Williams turned a tight 1st set against Lourdes Dominguez-Lino into a 2nd set blowout. On Day 2, it happened again as Venus Williams battled a game Alla Kudrayavtseva and lived to tell about it.

The Russian teen, another powerful blonde bomber currently residing in Florida, was controlling the action... until Williams desperately needed to get her you-what-together or else make Richard Williams' declaration that she'd win her fourth Wimbledon title this year look like one of my pre-season Top 10 predictions. The emotional Kudryavtseva led 6-2/2-0, but let the lead slip away. She was up 3-1 in the 3rd set, too, and even held a break point on Venus' serve at 4-4. Still, Williams held on to win 2-6/6-3/6-4.

Court 2... a failure yet again. And after being so dependable for all these years, too. Hmmm, I wonder if the ol' place can sense that its days are numbered? The ongoing renovation of the grounds will soon turn the "Graveyard" into a figment of Wimbledon history, as it's scheduled to be rebuilt in the location that currently holds Court 13. The chances that lightning will strike twice are rather remote, and the notion of the All-England Club without it's "Graveyard" is a sad turnabout, for sure. But maybe not -- not if Court 2 has lost all the evil mojo that's made it the bane of a least one top player's existence at this time most every year.

Well, unless Martina, Serena and Venus are really just "the walking dead" -- zombies -- whose trips to the boneyard are simply being delayed until a more appropriately devastating demise can be made into SW19 reality. Hmmm...

Love-Love... Well, for once, Tim Henman didn't save the worst for last. Resuming his match with Carlos Moya at 5-5 in the 5th set, he steadily held serve until the score was 11-11 as the overflow of attendees on Henman Hill wondered when he'd implode. He nearly did, but saved a break point with a first serve ace... then another on a kicker ace on a second serve. It was easy to sense that Henman didn't have many more saves left in him, and the man himself must have realized that his moment to seize victory -- or fumble it away -- had arrived. On Moya's serve, Henman failed to covert match points #5 and #6, but saw the Spaniard double-fault on #7 to give the Brit a 13-11 final set victory. Hey, if you can't take it yourself, it's just as nice to receive a gift such as that, huh? Whew!

Tuesday might have been the last day in office for Tony Blair, but it wasn't the last for Tim Henman. Of course, there's always tomorrow.
Love-15... it seemed to take forever, what with Court 2 failing to hold up its end of the deal, and Camille Pin seizing up at the worst moment, but the first women's seed was finally bounced from the tournament -- #30 Olga Poutchkova. The Russian lost to her countrywoman, Elena Vesnina, 6-1/6-3. It's the second time in '07 that Vesnina has been the mastermind behind the elimination of the first seed in a slam.

Australian: #25 Medina-Garrigues (Vesnina)
Roland Garros: #31 Bremond (Krajicek)
Wimbledon: #30 Poutchkova (Vesnina)

Love-30... The men's 1st Round was completed on Day 2 (seriously, does any slam make up for lost time better than Wimbledon?), and eight of the sixteen qualifiers are still alive, along with "lucky loser" Frank Dancevic (the Canadian defeated Stefan Koubek). So far, four women's qualifiers, one wild card and one "lucky loser" (Alize Cornet, who upset Maria Kirilenko) have advanced with twenty-one 1st Round matches still to play. The women who have advanced:

Alize Cornet, FRA (LL)
Olga Govortsova, BLR (Q)
Katie O'Brien, GBR (WC)
Nika Ozegovic, CRO (Q)
Hana Sromova, CZE (Q)
Agnes Szavay, HUN (Q)


SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #1: Women's 1st Rd. - #11 Nadia Petrova(RUS) def. Vania King(USA) - 6-0/6-1.

...Backspin won't get too excited about one match, but it's nice to see Nadia finally put together a solid match that maybe she can use to build up her confidence. With Ivanovic having lost to Hantuchova last week, there's an opening for Petrova to reach the QF in her section. If her body holds up, that is. See, like I said, this is a definite wait-and-see situation.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #2: Women's 1st Rd. - Bethanie Mattek(USA) def. Vasilisa Bardina(RUS) - 6-1/6-0.

...after poking the often fashion-unconscious Mattek for sometimes making more news for what she wears than what she does on the court, she deserves a mention for a thoroughly dominating performance (she committed just 3 unforced errors to 15 winners) in a slam.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #3: Women's 1st Rd. - #5 Svetlana Kuznetsova(RUS) def. Julia Vakulenko(UKR) - 4-6/6-4/6-3.

...Vakulenko has spent most of her time in Europe the last few months knocking off big name players, then retiring from tournaments with injuries. For a while, after taking the 1st set and battling the Contessova to a draw deep into the 2nd, it looked like she might be setting herself up for another star-crossed week. Kuznetsova took care of that for her.
MATCH, "Some day her day will arrive... but not today"... Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 15, has had one of the most notable junior careers in memory, but she's still a literal neophyte on the WTA tour. She made her grand slam main draw debut today in a 1st Round match against Daniela Hantuchova. An intriguing matchup, for sure. Some, such as SI's Jon Wertheim, even predicted the Russian would win the match. But, sometimes, talent and moments don't match up. Hantuchova won 6-0/6-1 in 40 minutes. One day, Pavlyuchenkova will have her moment in the grand slam sun... but it wasn't today. But, before today, the teenager had only played one main draw tour match in her career (a 1st Round loss to Nicole Vaidisova last year in Moscow). Call it a learning experience, little Hordette, and move on... after all, your sweet 16th isn't until next week.

TOP QUALIFIERS: Su-Wei Hsieh & Olga Govortsova
TOP EARLY ROUND (1r-2r): (vacant)
TOP MID-ROUND (3r-QF): (vacant)
TOP LATE ROUND (SF-F): (vacant)
FIRST SEED OUT: #30 Olga Poutchkova (1r-E.Vesnina)
UPSET QUEENS: (vacant)
IT GIRL: (vacant)
DOUBLES STAR: (vacant)

All for Day 2.


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