Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Day 3: Familiarity Breeds Fear

I do believe we've seen this before.

Serena Williams, still trying to play herself into form, is challenged in the early rounds of a slam but lives to fight another day. It happened in Melbourne just five months ago, when both Shahar Peer and Nadia Petrova served for the match against Williams before going down in three sets. Back then, Serena was just trying to play herself into shape. She ended up winning the tournament.

At Wimbledon, she's faced down a 4-5 1st set deficit against Lourdes Dominguez-Lino in the 1st Round, and then today overcame a 4-1 opening set hole against Alicia Molik (who also led 4-2 in the tie-break) to complete her second straight sets win of this tournament. This time, unless that hamstring that Richard Williams mentioned the other day becomes an issue, Serena doesn't have to worry about anything physical. After not playing any grass court tune-ups (something that nearly proved fatal to Venus against Alla Kudryavtseva yesterday), she's just trying to get her match toughness up to snuff at SW19. It explains the slow starts, as well as the blazing finishes.

Should Justine Henin be worried?

Well, of course. Because Serena is dead-on right when she says no one can beat her when she's in top form. It's how the "Serena Slam" came to be, after all. And while Henin has won her two matches handily, dropping just seven games and putting up two love sets, she can't expect the same listless and unfocused Williams she faced off with in Paris to again be on the other side of the net if (but really when) the two meet in the quarterfinals.

Henin can't expect anyone to knock off Serena for her. Not Milagros Sequera, her 3rd Round opponent, nor one of the other players (including Wonder Girl) who could face Williams before Le Petit Taureau.

The QF in Paris wasn't the be-all, end-all that so many wanted to make it out to be. The Henin-Jankovic SF meeting was that match for Roland Garros. That's not the case with Wimbledon. Justine vs. Serena could take place several days before the final Saturday, but it will likely be the most important match of this tournament.

Let the countdown begin.

Love-Love... even with a large portion of the day rendered unusable due to the rain (2009...2009...2009), the women did manage to complete the 1st Round and nine of the sixteen top half 2nd Round matches, while the men finished off just five 2nd Rounders. Tim Henman, in his quest to play EVERY day for as long as he's in this tournament, completed just two games against Feliciano Lopez before play was halted.
15-Love... in the women's final 64, thirty of the thirty-two seeds advanced (only Olga Poutchkova and Anabel-Medina Garrigues failed to get out of the 1st Round). In the few 2nd Rounders that were completed, two more seeds (Sybille Bammer & Samantha Stosur) were immediately dispatched.

Tatiana Perebiynis was the fifth women's qualifier to win her 1st Round match, while Caroline Wozniacki was the second wild card to do so. 1st Round winner Olga Govortsova lost her 2nd Round match to #18 Marion Bartoli, droping the ranks of remaining women's qualifiers to four.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #1: Women's 1st Rd. - #17 Tatiana Golovin(FRA) d. (Q)Su-Wei Hsieh(TPE) - 5-7/6-3/8-6.
...Tatiana returns. Scratch that, I mean the GOOD Tatiana returns. Long enough to win a tight one and avoid an upset, at least.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #2: Women's 1st Rd. - Virginia Ruano-Pascual(ESP) d. #22 Anabel Medina-Garrigues(ESP) 6-3/2-6/6-2.
...and now the two try to wipe their game faces off and play doubles together. Now, Virginia -- on smiling.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #3: Women's 2nd Rd. - Elena Vesnina d. Emilie Loit 6-2/6-2.
...the '06 Australian Open Round of 16er, and the conqueror of the first women's seed to fall at this year's AO and SW19, Vesnina next sets her sights on Queen Justine.
MATCH SUSPENDED DUE TO RAIN, "Hey, why not go out in grand slam style? And by that, I mean Smashnova Grand Slam Style, which is quite different from the norm"... as this very well might be Anna Smashnova's final grand slam appearance, let this potentially be the final time Backspin makes note that she could be the worst grand slam player in women's tennis history. Today, for the 28th time in her 48 slam appearances, the veteran lost in the 1st Round. It was her seventh consecutive opening round loss at Wimbledon, and the eleventh in her last twelve trips to the All-England Club. If this is the end, then she'll leave maintaining her rather dubious distinction of being the only woman to win at least ten (twelve, actually... with a 12-1 record in finals) WTA singles titles but never reach the QF of a grand slam. Oh, and I mentioned the "Smashnova Grand Slam Style" exit? Yeah, she lost 6-0/6-0 to Martina Muller in 41 minutes. Hey, at least she outlasted Pavlyuchenkova by a cool 60 seconds.

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 3.


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