Saturday, June 02, 2007

Day 7: All You Need is a Little Patience

There was no need for Mr. Fantastic to call on his super friends in his battle against surprising Frenchman Olivier Patience and the partisan Paris crowd on Day 7. He didn't need to display of his superpowers, either. Nope. All he needed was a little patience.

Faced with the prospect of being the victim of the tournament's biggest upset so far, Novak Djokovic did what any potentially great player SHOULD do. He didn't panic. He didn't start to become perturbed by every little thing, hoping a burst of anger would ignite his game. He didn't try to demonstrably alter his approach against the #129th-ranked opponent that there was no chance of toppling without a course correction on this day. Instead, he buckled down and played his game, fully believing that everything would be all right as long as he kept his head.

A player with Djokovic's ability can afford to have such confidence, I suppose. It worked for him, too. The 20-year old Serb outlasted Patience for a 7-6/2-6/3-6/7-6/6-3 victory, as he finally outraced his 27-year old opponent with an 8-5 advantage in winners in the final set, and while committing only half as many unforced errors (11 to 20). Djokovic only converted 2-of-16 break point attempts in the match, but the single one he got in the final stanza was enough to put this potential nightmare behind him, turning it into a learning experience. Patience actually held three break points on Djokovic's serve at 3-3 in the 5th, but Mr. Fantastic held on. In the next game, Patience led 40-15 only to see the Serb roar back to break to go up 5-3, then serve out the match... just like any "next big thing" should.

Djokovic is the youngest remaining player in the men's draw, but most think he's got the best chance of reaching and/or winning this whole thing if neither Federer nor Nadal do so. But, despite winning today, Djokovic wasn't satisfied.

Sometimes, being #3 in so many people's eyes is a good thing, and maybe it is for Djokovic on some level, as well. But it won't be for much longer... if it ever was at all.


Russia (4)
Czech Republic (2)
Serbia (2)
1...Austria (Bammer)
1...Belgium (Henin)
1...France (Bartoli) (yes!)
1...Israel (Peer)
1...Italy (Garbin) (yes II!)
1...Spain (Medina-Garrigues)
1...Switzerland (Schnyder)
1...USA (S.Williams)
18...Nicole Vaidisova
19...Ana Ivanovic
20...Shahar Peer
20...Maria Sharapova
20...Anna Chakvetadze
20...Lucie Safarova
21...Dinara Safina
21...Svetlana Kuznetsova
22...Jelena Jankovic
22...Marion Bartoli
24...Anabel Medina-Garrigues
25...Justine Henin
25...Serena Williams
27...Sybille Bammer
29...Patty Schnyder
29...Tathiana Garbin
#1 Justine Henin
#2 Maria Sharapova
#3 Svetlana Kuznetsova
#5 Jelena Jankovic
#7 Ana Ivanovic
#8 Serena Williams
#9 Anna Chakvetadze
#10 Nicole Vaidisova
#11 Dinara Safina
#15 Patty Schnyder
#17 Shahar Peer
#21 Marion Bartoli
#22 Tathiana Garbin
#23 Anabel Medina-Garrigues
#25 Sybille Bammre
#29 Lucie Safarova

4...Spain (Moya,Nadal,Robredo,Verdasco)
3...Argentina (Canas,Monaco,Nalbandian)
3...Russia (Andreev,Davydenko,Youzhny)
1...Australia (Hewitt)
1...Cyprus (Baghdatis)
1...Italy (Volandri)
1...Serbia (Djokovic)
1...Sweden (Bjorkman)
1...Switzerland (Federer)

Love-15...I'm still tempted to pick the Austrians as Roland Garros' "Revelation Ladies" to honor Sybille Bammer's continued rise to nearly a Top 20 position, a career-high at age 27. But Karin Knapp's good showing, and Tathiana Garbin's rise to a career-high ranking AND best-ever slam result less than a month from her 30th birthday has pushed the Italians over the top (even with the "revelation" that Marion Bartoli is French, no matter how many times my brain freeze-locks and I think she's a Noodle because her names SOUNDS like she should be from Italia).

06 Australian Open: Italy
06 Roland Garros: France
06 Wimbledon: Serbia
06 US Open: Russia
07 Australian Open: Belarus
07 Roland Garros: Italy


SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #1: Doubles 2nd Round - Husarova(SVK)/Shaughnessy(USA) d. Bondarenko(UKR)/Bondarenko(UKR) 6-1/6-3

...and the Bondarenko family experiences a moment of silence.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #2: Women's 3rd - Safarova d. Mauresmo 6-3/7-6

...instead of Amelie vs. Justine providing all the drama at the slams, it's been Amelie vs. Lucie. That two '07 slams and two slam wins by the Czech over the Pastry in Melbourne and Paris. The first ended Mauresmo's maiden slam title defense, while the second came in her home country. Good thing Amelie won two slams in' 06, otherwise she might develop some sort of complex about all this.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #3: Women's 3rd - Medina-Garrigues d. Hantuchova 4-6/7-6/7-5 a rollercoaster of a match that swayed back and forth in favor of AMG and Wonder Girl, the Spaniard followed up her Strasbourg title by matching her best-ever slam result. Finally, Medina-Garrigues didn't back down on the big stage. Finally.
15-30...all three remaining qualifiers in the women's draw lost on Day 7, so it's a three-way tie for "Last Qualifier Standing." Interestingly, this is the second time this year that Alla Kudryavtseva has managed to outlast them all... maybe she's replaced Julia Vakulenko as the tour's "slam qualifying specialist."

06 Australian Open: (3r) Olga Savchuk
06 Roland Garros: (3r) Julia Vakulenko & Aravane Rezai
06 Wimbledon: (QF) Severine Bremond
06 US Open: (2r) Kirsten Flipkens, Varvara Lepchenko, Agnieszka Radwanska, Eva Birnerova & Yulia Fedossova
07 Australian Open: (2r) Anne Kremer, Alla Kudryavtseva, Tamira Paszek, Julia Vakulenko & Renata Voracova
07 Roland Garros: (3r) Dominika Cibulkova, Alla Kudryavtseva & Ioana-Raluca Olaru


[women's bottom half]
#7 Ivanovic d. #24 Medina-Garrigues
#3 Kuznetsova d. #15 Peer
#9 Chakvetadze d. #25 Safarova
#14 Schnyder d. #2 Sharapova
[men's bottom half]
#6 Djokovic d. Verdasco
Andreev d. #16 Baghdatis
#23 Moya d. Bjorkman
#2 Nadal d. #14 Hewitt

30-40...Patty Schnyder had to go to the ends of the earth (and get a little lucky with line calls) in her 6-1/4-6/7-5 win over Karin Knapp, who is nearly 6-feet tall and 159 pounds but doesn't have the serve you'd THINK she would from looking at her. Still, with contenders Elena Dementieva and Francesca Schiavone out of the mix, Sneaky Patty is the only possible "Comeback" player left to choose from.

07 Australian Open: Serena Williams
07 Roland Garros: Patty Schnyder

Deuce...the Girls Junior draw has been released. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Alize Cornet are the top two seeds.
Ad...Lucie Safarova's win over Amelie Mauresmo gives her three 2007 wins over players currently or formerly ranked #1 in the world, a pool of players that includes Kim Clijsters, Justine Henin, Martina Hingis, Amelie Mauresmo, Maria Sharapova and Venus & Serena Williams.

*MOST WINS OVER #1's IN 2007*
5...Jelena Jankovic
3...Lucie Safarova
3...Serena Williams
2...Daniela Hantuchova
2...Svetlana Kuznetsova
2...Aravane Rezai
2...Patty Schnyder
2...Maria Sharapova
2...Julia Vakulenko

MATCH, "Who Says 36-year old Pete Sampras is nuts to think he can compete on the ATP tour, especially at Wimbledon?"...when 30-year old Carlos Moya and 35-year Jonas Bjorkman are set to meet in a Round of 16 match on a surface that rewards fitness, patience and a grinding style of play. Just something to consider.

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)
LAST QUALIFIERS STANDING: Dominika Cibulkova, Alla Kudryavtseva & Ioana-Raluca Olaru (all 3rd Rd.)
IT GIRL: (vacant)
DOUBLES STAR: (vacant)

All for Day 7.


Blogger Eric said...

(this is more regarding your last post...) I have always wondered why you thought so highly of Anna-Lena...I mean, she obviously is a talent, but I don't recall her every putting up some great result that should propel her to the star status you put her there something i'm missing...yes, she made it to last year's roland garros QF, but besides that her only noteable accomplishments were winning acapulco (tier III) and reaching the semis of charleston...she did have a pretty good 2005...but still...

does she have some weapon that is that powerful? (i've never seen her play, so I don't know...which could definitely be why I never pegged her to be one of the game's future stars)

and props to sybille bammer...she's like the new ai sugiyama

do you think that the yan/zheng upsets have been due to a chemistry problem, injury, lack of practicing together (since their rankings often prevent them from being at the same event), or olympic pressure?

Sun Jun 03, 12:49:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Ding-ding-ding-ding! You might have hit on something there about the pressure of the '08 Olympics. I mean, Yan/Zheng DID win Charleston and a smaller tournament recently, but as their loss here showed they have been far more inconsistent this year.

As for ALG... well, she looked like she was going to have a great serve that was going to take her places (I wasn't the only one touting her, SI's Jon Wertheim was, as well). She flashed ability that seemed to signal greater results, but they haven't come. Maybe they will, though. I'm not giving up on her. I like to jump on players early (wait, that didn't come out right) -- e.g. Peer and others -- so that when and if they DO make huge strides it's a continuation of the storyline I started by touting them. I think it's more fun and interesting that way. :)

Sun Jun 03, 09:06:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

lol...i think i do remember reading jon wertheim saying some things about Anna-Lena...but I think I didn't give it much consideration because he said something like, "could Germany have another Graff?"...which i think is too big of a stretch to make

so, since you like to pick the players young...who are some current stars that you never pegged? (i know for me, anna chakvetadze was - and still is - a surprise...i actually thought she had no future watching her play hingis last year...but then she won everything in sight and i was like, "DOH!" -_- )

Sun Jun 03, 11:08:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Honestly, probably Jelena Jankovic. I knew she could play, but I never thought she might have the talent to challenge for #1, which she's a grand slam title away from possibly doing. I just didn't think she had the consistency and/or mental make-up to handle the pressure of winning huge titles and challenging the very best players in the biggest tournaments of the season.

Of course, while she's now won Tier I events (I didn't think she would this season), she IS 0-5 against Henin. So maybe the jury IS still out. That's why I set up the Ahab vs. Moby Dick storyline for Roland Garros... I guess I'm sort of daring her to finally kill the whale rather than go down with it one final time as the peg-legged Captain did.

It's hard not to like Jelena, though, no matter how things turn out in the end.

Sun Jun 03, 05:32:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

i guess you have a soft spot for the name :)

i'm not a big fan of jelena's though...she's humorous and likes to crack jokes...but they often come across as very arrogant in an ignorant sort of way (like she shouldn't talk about what she doesn't know or hasn't experienced)...and that's one of my pet peeves...lately she has kind of redeemed herself in my eyes with some more mature comments, but i still find myself rooting against her more often than not

i'm a really big american tennis fan...which means that now that davenport is gone (i'm still praying for a comeback...hey sybille bammer can do it and nicole pratt is in her 30s!!), i root mostly for the williams the dismay of many of my's just very hard for me to not respect all of their achievements despite all the adversity they faced...

i think my pro-williams stance also speaks volumes for my no-jelena stance...actually, i've never really thought about this in depth...maybe that's why i dislike sharapova as well (her wimby victory over serena)??

yeah, so as you can see from my multiple posts, i don't get to talk to many people about tennis...(i'm from indiana where there really isn't a big tennis culture...besides the Indianapolis event and jon wertheim, what else is there?)

i'm also a big fan of Li Na...her backhand is such a weapon! what do you think of her? doesn't have the guts to go big?

Sun Jun 03, 06:30:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

I go through phases with Venus and Serena, and the current one really should be the dominant thought in my mind (and I'll try to maintain it consistently) -- that the sport is always better when they're healthy and active on the court, and that there are few if any things more exciting in sports than Serena playing at the top of her game.

Actually, Jankovic was the "other Jelena" for so long that I might have discounted her largely because of Dokic on some subconscious level.

"Arrogance": well, I actually kind of enjoy it when players proudly wear the black hat. It's one of the reasons why I get behind Henin even more when people criticize her. I try to construct the column as if it's telling the sprawling story that is a WTA season, full of foreshadowing, climactic moments of truth, colorful characters (hence, the nicknames), etc. And, usually, as the movies often show, the most interesting people are almost always the villains... or at least the characters that are perceived to be "villains," but are really just misunderstood.

Li: the more I see of her, the more I like her. She's got the biggest personality of all the Chinese players, and probably the most talent, too. But Zheng has won more tour singles titles. Make of that what you will, I guess. :\

Hey, but you have Peyton Manning in Indiana, right? That's something. :)

Sun Jun 03, 07:43:00 PM EDT  

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