Thursday, July 05, 2007

Day 10: Short in the Box, and Into the Net

The tennis gods giveth... but they also taketh away. And they don't need the sort of help to do the latter that Nicole Vaidisova gave them on Day 10.

In the Round of 16, the 18-year old Czech was the beneficiery of Amelie Mauresmo's final set meltdown. As today's QF matchup with Ana Ivanovic was seemingly entering its final stages, it looked like the Dynamova was going to ride her good fortune into a SF berth in her third different grand slam event.

Ummm... uh-uh.

Ivanovic served to stay in the match, down 5-3 in the 3rd set, and faced three Vaidisova match points. The Serbian 19-year old held on, and waited for the Czech to crack. She did. On the third MP, an AnaIvo second serve landed short in the service box, in perfect position for Vaidisova to polish off the match with a pulverizing forehand winner. Instead, she dumped the ball into the net.

She never again found herself as close to winning the match.

Perhaps vexed by her missed opportunity only moments before, the emotional Vaidisova never fully regained her composure. Ivanovic broke her for 5-5 in the next game, held her own serve and then took a 40-15 lead on the Czech's serve to reach her own match point. Two points later, Vaidisova double-faulted. Instead of Vaidisova heading to her third slam semifinal, it's Ivanovic who reached her second of back-to-back slam semifinals.

At Roland Garros last year, Vaidisova missed out on a trip to the final with her "down the line, and across the chops" moment. At SW19, she's not in the SF because of a "short in the box, and into the net" one. Obviously, she's still not quite ready -- or maybe it would be more accurate to say her emotions and nerves have not yet been adequately harnessed -- to live up to her talent on the biggest stages the sport provides.

But, oh, she's so close. It's the kind of close that either emboldens a young player to achieve eventual greatness, or hounds her forever. With her drive to succeed and a 2007 slam resume that reads "SF-QF-QF," it's easy to believe that the former will apply to this particular and latest blonde bomber.

Vaidisova is just one shot away... but it's going to take a hell of an effort to make it when it's right in front of her. Sometimes what should be the most elementary step takes the most attempts to get it right.

But with this one, it's only a matter of time.

Love-Love... Venus Williams' workwoman-like 6-4/6-3 putdown of Svetlana Kuznetsova to reach her sixth career Wimbledon SF wasn't as easy as her destruction of the other Russian, but it was enough to lock up the Backspin "Comeback" award for Wimbledon.

AO: Serena Williams/USA (W)
RG: Patty Schnyder/SUI (4r)
W: Venus Williams/USA (SF?)

Meanwhile, Ivanovic's come-from-behind effort to clip Vaidisova off at her Maiden knees claimed her the "It Girl" award for the second consecutive slam:

AO: Shahar Peer/ISR (QF)
RG: Ana Ivanovic/SRB (RU)
W: Ana Ivanovic/SRB (SF?)


11..Jelena Jankovic (6-4 +L)
6...Svetlana Kuznetsova (4-2)
5...Amelie Mauresmo (4-1)
5...ANA IVANOVIC (3-1)
5...Maria Sharapova (2-3)


SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #1: Mixed Doubles 3rd Rd. - Alex Bogdanovic/Melanie South (GBR/GBR) d. #13 Rogier Wassen/Yung-Jan Chan (NED/TPE) - 6-4/6-3..
...the English duo knocked off another seeded team, though not as highly-seed as #1 Raymond/M.Bryan were in the previous round.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #2: Girls Singles 2nd Rd. - Katerina Vankova (CZE) d. #5 Nikola Hofmanova (AUT) - 6-1/6-7 [10-6].
...fret not, another Maiden is on the way.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #3: Girls Singles 2nd Rd. - Anna Fitzpatrick (GBR) d. #4 Ksenia Milevskaya (BLR) - 6-4/6-4.
...hmmm, is it Backspin's imagination or are the Brits starting to crack the code and finding a way to put together a decent contingent of young female players-to-watch?

#1 Roger Federer/SUI vs. #20 Juan Carlos Ferrero/ESP
#3 Andy Roddick/USA vs. #12 Richard Gasquet/FRA
#10 Marcos Baghdatis/CYP vs. #4 Novak Djokovic/SRB
#7 Tomas Berdych/CZE vs. #2 Rafael Nadal/ESP

#1 Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan (USA/USA) v. TBD
#4 Fabrice Santoro/Nenad Zimonjic (FRA/SRB) v. #5 Martin Damm/Leander Paes (CZE/IND)
Marcelo Melo/Andre Sa (BRA/BRA) v. #3 Mark Knowles/Daniel Nestor (BAH/CAN)
TBD v. Harel Levy/Rajeev Ram (ISR/USA)

#1 Lisa Raymond/Samantha Stosur (USA/AUS) v. #5 Kveta Peschke/Rennae Stubbs (CZE/AUS)
TBD v. #10 Elena Likhovtseva/Tiantian Sun (RUS/CHN)
#6 Alicia Molik/Mara Santangelo (AUS/ITA) v. Shuai Peng/Zi Yan (CHN/CHN)
TBD v. #2 Cara Black/Liezel Huber (ZIM/RSA)


#1 Maria Sharapova/RUS (RU)
#4 Kim Clijsters/BEL (SF)
#10 Nicole Vaidisova/CZE (SF)
(un) Serena Williams/USA (W)
#1 Justine Henin/BEL (W)
#2 Maria Sharapova/RUS (SF)
#4 Jelena Jankovic/SRB (SF)
#7 Ana Ivanovic/SRB (RU)
#1 Justine Henin/BEL
#6 Ana Ivanovic/SRB
#18 Marion Bartoli/FRA
#23 Venus Williams/USA


TOP PLAYER: Justine Henin/BEL
RISERS: Ana Ivanovic/SRB & Marion Bartoli/FRA
SURPRISES: Laura Granville/USA & Melanie South/GBR (Mixed Doubles)
VETERAN: Venus Williams/USA
FRESH FACES Michaella Krajicek/NED & Tamira Paszek/AUT
DOWN: Amelie Mauresmo/FRA & Nicole Vaidisova/CZE
BEST PERFORMANCE: 4th Round - Venus Williams d. Maria Sharapova - 6-/6-3. the question is whether anyone will be able to get Venus out of the groove her game so easily slipped into during this match.
BEST DRAMA: 3rd Round - Serena Williams d. Daniela Hantuchova - 6-2/6-7/6-2.
...some people thought Serena was playing up her injury. But, come on, any of us who've seen her acting chops knows she's not really good enough to sell something THAT well.

BEST COMEBACK/CHOKE: Quarterfinal - Ana Ivanovic d. Nicole Vaidisova - 4-6/6-2/7-5.
...AnaIvo makes her way through draws with such unassuming and silky ease sometimes. Even when she turns around what should have been a "dead" match and wins it in the end, it feels like the result when never is question when the Serb raises her fist in victory.
POTENTIALLY THE BIGGEST the end of the weekend: 3rd Round - Venus Williams d. Akiko Morigami - 6-2/3-6/7-5.
...we'll know by the end of Saturday, weather permitting, just HOW BIG this near-upset ends up being.
MATCH, "What's that you say? You mean the network pays you for such brilliance?"... during NBC's coverage today, resident "chronicler" Jimmy Roberts (don't miss his overrated and pointless wrap-up comments during the network's Triple Crown coverage every year) was interviewing Venus Williams. During the course of the discussion, he off-handedly mentioned that she got off to "relatively slow" start at Wimbledon this year. Hmmm, let's see... she nearly lost to Alla Kudryavtseva in the 1st Round, then Akiko Morigami served for the match at 5-3 in the 3rd set two rounds later. If that's Jimbo's definition of a "relatively slow start," how does he describe the presidency of George W. Bush? "A minor hiccup in the American history of representative government beholden to the will of the people?" Hmmm, I think someone might qualify as a new speechwriter for dim-bulbed one.

TOP QUALIFIERS: Su-Wei Hsieh/TPE & Olga Govortsova/BLR
TOP EARLY ROUND (1r-2r): Amelie Mauresmo/FRA
TOP MIDDLE-ROUND (3r-QF): Justine Henin/BEL
TOP LATE ROUND (SF-F): (vacant)
FIRST SEED OUT: #30 Olga Poutchkova/RUS (1r-E.Vesnina/RUS)
UPSET QUEENS: Austrians (Paszek & Meusburger)
REVELATION LADIES: French (Bartoli & Rezai to 3rd Rd.)
LAST QUALIFIERS STANDING: Olga Govortsova/BLR, Nika Ozegovic/CRO, Tatiana Perebiynis/UKR, Hana Sromova/CZE & Agnes Szavay/HUN (2nd Rd.)
IT GIRL: Ana Ivanovic/SRB
DOUBLES STAR: (vacant)

All for Day 10.


Blogger Eric said...

hmm...i can't tell if you're a flaming lib or a disillusioned republican...

Thu Jul 05, 11:58:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

I've always considered myself a "neo-moderate," able to break either hard left or right depending on the issue, or split the difference when need be.

It's just that for the first time in my waking lifetime it's almost embarrassing to be an American citizen, considering we have an appointed, dunderheaded born-again President who thinks he's been annointed and consequently goes through the day believing there's nothing inherently wrong with all the arrogant, incompetent, Constitution-shredding assault-on-civil-liberties-and-scientific-reason imprudence that have come to be the hallmark of the current administration simply because the joker at the top of the food chain (whichever one that actually is) simply believes he and his cronies have the power to make sure they get their own way no matter how many laws against reason and man are broken along the way.

There has to be a better way to do things, and there has been and will be... but not for the last six years nor, unfortunately, nearly the next two. But, you know, that's what you get when you "elect" a President because he was the governor of Texas... because he owned the Texas Rangers... because his daddy was President (for only one term)... because he was the Vice-President to Reagan, who couldn't run for a third term... because he couldn't beat Reagan when he ran against him for the GOP nomination in 1980. So, in other words, we pulled the joker from the deck because his dad lost an election 27 years ago.

I know I'm "proud."

Fri Jul 06, 10:03:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

so just basically anti-Bush


is that generally the sentiment in DC?

Fri Jul 06, 11:42:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

marion bartoli just beat henin...

i have never been so wrong in my

i predicted three sets but never 61 in the third...*against* henin

i mean congrats to bartoli but i didn't realize that she had slam winning potential or even that she could hang with the big guns...

i didn't watch the match because i had class, but how did this happen?

is henin injured? did bartoli just play lights out?


did you know about this? an inkling this would happen?

Fri Jul 06, 02:13:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

I don't consider it so much "anti-Bush" as "pro-reason" (I'd say "pro-America," if such claptrap didn't sound like something the White House would spew out against anyone who didn't agree with it). At this point, I believe the two are mutually exclusive.

Keith Olbermann had a very interesting take on things on (though he probably takes it a step too far, even if his rationale is understandable).

I am a Democrat... but the problems with Bush should cross party lines, unless someone is so blindly loyal that they fall for whatever latest load of crapola he's selling happens to be. I think politicians who recognize the general temperature of the American people either turned on him long ago or are trying to stay as far away from him as they can. The approval rating around 30% is enough of an indication, and if that isn't enough then last November's elections should be a nice hint, too. Of course, considering the GOP lost nearly ever major race in that election, which was essentially a referendum on Iraq... and the first thing he did was INCREASE troop levels, well, the my-way-is-best-no-matter- how-much-evidence-to-the-contrary White House M.O. couldn't be more evident. And the Scooter Libby thing was just the latest example. You out a spy, no matter the fallout, because her husband called the administration on a lie, then lie about, then have a jury convict you and a judge sentence you to prison... but the Prez keeps you out of jail, without ever even consulting a single soul in Justice Department on the case? Standard Operation Procedure.

This is the last I'm going to say about this, aside from the occasion cheap swipe when the mood hits, because I'm trying to get through the next year and a half without getting too infuriated, then hope so much damage hasn't been done that it can't be "morning in America" again on January 21, 2009.

Fri Jul 06, 04:53:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

I was out during the match, but had a little TV with me to listen to the action and see what I could. NBC was showing Roddick/Gasquet, and only aired the end of the 2nd and 3rd sets of Henin/Bartoli. But Henin won the 1st set in 22 minutes, and was doing fine mid-way through the 2nd, but apparently the wind picked up and caused havoc with her serve and overall game.

Bartoli uses the Seles style of two hands on both sides, and she was moving way in on Henin's serve to intimidate her into errors, including a DF when she was serving to stay in the 2nd set at 5-6.

Well, Bartoli reached the SF at both Birmingham & Eastbourne (where Henin beat her, by the way), so she was peaking at the right time.

Now, I guess Olga Poutchkova looks like a Russian genius for saying last year after losing to her that she was surprised that Bartoli hadn't already won a grand slam, huh?

Fri Jul 06, 05:02:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Hey, Donald Young is in the Boys SF. :)

Fri Jul 06, 05:02:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

lol, yeah i forgot about poutchkova's remark! i rolled my eyes when i read her comment and was like, "oh, olga...little, naive much you have yet to learn" :)

yeah i think donald young's new attitude (and everyone else's lowered expectations) have helped him quite nicely

but Todd, Keith Olbermann?!?!?!? COUNTDOWN!?!?!? i'm mildly disappointed in you.

he tries to be the lib version of Bill O'Reilly, but he just doesn't cut it (and COUNTDOWN...eww...)

but you have to admit the dems didn't step up to the plate and take the high road on the immigration bill (which was a *very* liberal stance)...i mean they basically voted against it solely because bush proposed it...

i don't really know how to classify my political stance...i'm very liberal on some social issues...but i'm pretty conservative on economical issues (pre-war econ issues...not into funding the war machine)...i indiana, i'm considered a flaming lib, but when i visit friends in dem states, they think i'm super conservative...and when i say i'm moderate, then i get crazies yelling at me saying that there's no such thing as a moderate and that i'm spineless and uneducated

thus, i try to follow both sides and choose stances on issues rather than choosing a party line...which makes it hard to vote for candidates...

yeah, sorry about all the politics...i know this is a tennis-only zone...sometimes your allusions to things outside of tennis crack me up and i have to comment on them

you should read bartoli's is hilarious and very endearing (the bits about Pierce Brosnan and candy)

Fri Jul 06, 08:19:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

clarification...i agree with you almost 100% of the time on the tennis stuff, so if i'm feeling 'commenty' the only thing to comment on is the non-tennis stuff

Fri Jul 06, 08:20:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

I've never actually WATCHED Olbermann's show or read anything of his until that column, so I should get a little credit for that, right? I always felt he was a little TOO full of himself, especially after he left sports for "real" news. I just happened to read that the other day, and it inflamed all my little fist-shaking-at-Bush nerve endings, I guess. :) There are certainly less attention-seeking commentators who have uttered shadings of the same opinion.

It's all right, you can comment on whatever. It's just that I, having been a political science major in college, get can infuriated at the things that go on at times and at this point am just counting down the days until you-know-who is gone and we and everyone else can begin to move on.

Of course, if Hillary becomes President then the us-vs.-them thing will continue, only with a new (and old) focus and all new (and old) "outrages" to fuel the argument. But, maybe, just maybe, the country's worldwide reputation can be restored somewhere along the way... for there is zero chance that that is going to happen until the elephant in the middle of the room has been removed from the equation.

And, I must admit, if I've come to learn anything the last six years it's that if this President supports something the safest thing to be is against it, no matter what the issue is. He's earned that distinction. In spades, in fact.

Fri Jul 06, 09:06:00 PM EDT  

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