Friday, July 06, 2007

Day 11: Things That Go Bartoli in the Night

All right, everyone who had Marion Bartoli in the Wimbledon final raise your hand.

Yes, yes... Miss Poutchkova, we all know about your brilliant assessment of Mademoiselle Bartoli's game. Now, run along and work on your website.

I guess we were all guilty on this one, weren't we? We all automatically put Justine Henin in the Wimbledon final after her quarterfinal win over Serena Williams. And after her 22-minute 1st set victory today against the 22-year old Frenchwoman, it appeared to be a safe bet. At 4-3 in the 2nd set, Henin was cruising toward a rematch of her 2001 grand slam final debut against Venus Williams at the All-England Club. But then the Agent 007-loving Pastry found her groove in the wind of Centre Court, and the rest was history.

1-6/7-5/6-1... Bartoli. And Queen Justine is still missing that SW19 title. With a game sculpted by her doctor father, and modeled after the two-fisted, angle-creating, no-ball-is-too-early-to-take groundstroking game of Monica Seles, Bartoli rocked the tennis world on Day 11.

(I'm thinking I won't be confusing Bartoli's French nationality with an Italian one anymore now. Funny how things work out that way, huh? After thinking she needed to do something important to make her a bigger part of Backspin's world, she takes out Le Petit Taureau in rather brutal fashion. And after saying she might need a nickname in order to imprint her a little better into your friendly neighborhood Backspinner's mind, she goes and starts talking about Pierce Brosnan and her father using the promise of candy to get her to hit accurate shots in practice. My, now I don't even know which direction to go with Marion... she's gone from a bare cupboard to a virtual cornucopia of nickname possibilities in the span of a few hours. Amazing.)

Now, she can't possibly WIN Wimbledon, right? Surely she won't prevent Venus Williams from claiming her fourth SW19 title on the 50th anniversary of Althea Gibson becoming the first African-American slam winner at Wimbledon in 1957. Right? I mean, a Bartoli title would snuggle up next to Iva Majoli's shockingly aberrant Roland Garros crown in 1997 quite well, wouldn't it? And what are the odds of that? I mean, Monica Seles never won Wimbledon, but Bartoli is going to do it?

But is this really a TOTAL shock? Remember, Bartoli DID reach the SF of both Birmingham and Eastbourne (where she lost to Henin, 6-1/6-3) leading into Wimbledon, so she's pretty much peaking right on time. And the thing is, according to the seeding committee, the #18-seeded Pastry is SUPPOSED to be the favorite over the #23-seeded Williams sister.

Of course, we all know differently... but, then again, we thought that today, too, didn't we?

Love-Love... apparently, there was something in the air on Day 11. Some years, usually early in the tournament, a strange wind blows over the grounds leaving a string of upsets in its wake on a single day. It took almost until the second weekend for it to happen, but the Henin upset was soon followed by Andy Roddick's blowing of a two sets and 4-2 lead against Richard Gasquet, who'd never overcome anything of the kind in a match until today. Of course, now he faces Roger Federer... and it'll end right there. Right? Hmmm.

1997 1st (lost to Magdalena Grzybowska)
1998 QF (lost to Jana Novotna)
1999 QF (lost to Steffi Graf)
2000 WON (def. Lindsay Davenport)
2001 WON (def. Justine Henin)
2002 RU (lost to Serena Williams)
2003 RU (lost to Serena Williams)
2004 2nd (lost to Karolina Sprem)
2005 WON (def. Lindsay Davenport)
2006 3rd (lost to Jelena Jankovic)



SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #1: Girls Singles QF - #6 Urszula Radwanksa/POL d. #1 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova/RUS - 7-5/6-1.
...are the Russian's junior rivals suddenly catching up with her, or does she herself realize she's already outgrown this stage of her career?

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #2: Girls Singles 3rd Rd. - #15 Bojana Jovanovski/SRB d. #2 Anastasia Pivovarova/RUS - 6-4/6-3.
...Jovanovski lost in the QF to Madison Brengle, but maybe JJ and AnaIvo have a "little sister" coming up behind them, after all.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #3: Girls Singles QF - Katarzyna Piter/POL d. #3 Evgeniya Rodina/RUS - 6-3/6-1.
...speaking of sisters, apparently there's another young Pole to watch who ISN'T named Radwanska.
40-Love... my goodness. Why don't we just put those last two games that Roger Federer won in his QF matchup with Juan Carlos Ferrero into a time capsule for safe keeping, just in case future generations begin to wonder why so many in this day and age speculate that he might be the most talented player to ever step between the lines. Seriously, he hit just about every shot in the book in those few minutes, didn't he?

#1 Roger Federer/SUI vs. #12 Richard Gasquet/FRA
#4 Novak Djokovic/SRB vs.#2 Rafael Nadal/ESP

#1 Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan (USA/USA) v. #4 Fabrice Santoro/Nenad Zimonjic (FRA/SRB)
Marcelo Melo/Andre Sa (BRA/BRA) v. #10 Arnaud Clement/Michael Llodra (FRA/FRA)

#1 Lisa Raymond/Samantha Stosur (USA/AUS) v. #4 Katarina Srebotnik/Ai Sugiyama (SLO/JPN)
#6 Alicia Molik/Mara Santangelo (AUS/ITA) v. #2 Cara Black/Liezel Huber (ZIM/RSA)

Alex Bogdanovic/Melanie South (GBR/GBR) v. #11 Daniel Nestor/Elena Likhovtseva (CAN/RUS)
Jamie Murray/Jelena Jankovic (GBR/SRB) v. #9 Marcin Matkowski/Cara Black (POL/ZIM)
TBD v. Jordan Kerr/Kateryna Bondarenko (AUS/UKR)
#8 Leander Paes/Meghann Shaughnessy (IND/USA) v. Fabrice Santoro/Severine Bremond (FRA/FRA)

#6 Urszula Radwanska/POL vs. Anna Fitzpatrick/GBR
Katarzyna Piter/POL vs. #7 Madison Brengle/USA

#1 Vladimir Ignatic/BLR vs. Ricardis Barankis/LTU
#3 Donald Young/USA vs. #6 Greg Jones/AUS

40-30... the contenders are emerging for the remaining Backspin Slam Awards. In the "Doubles Star" category, Cara Black and Alicia Molik are still alive in both Doubles and Mixed... but if Melanie South were to continue to ride a string of upsets with partner Alex Boganovich to a Mixed title she might be difficult to outpace for the honor.

As far as the "Junior Breakout," with the Girls SF set it's down to two. Since Madison Brengle (USA) won the award in Melbourne with her improbable run to the final, she's eliminated from consideration. But her surprising SF opponent, Katarzyna Piter (POL)), is a possibility, as well is Britain's Anna Fitzpatrick. Although, if U-Rad matches her sister A-Rad's accomplishment of winning a Wimbledon Girls title...
MATCH, "Does 'Mr.Fantastic" have greatness written all over him or what?"... watching Novak Djokovic fight his way through consecutive five-set marathons against Lleyton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis, reaching into his bag of tricks for another dose of brilliance and/or heart every time things appeared to be slipping through his fingers either due to potential injury or an opponent with just as little quit in him as the Serbian ringleader, it's impossible to not realize how good this kid could eventually become. He's REALLY only 20? You see it occasionally when he flashes anger after a bad shot in an important rally, but he so quickly puts it behind him that you'd think he'd been doing this for quite a bit longer than he has. In a sport currently defined by Roger Federer's serene brilliance and Rafael Nadal's intense on-court nature and physical brand of play, Djokovic fits rather snugly into the fold. Ah, but that's the problem. When the accident of birth places you smack dab in the middle of the Roger-and-Rafa Era, "greatness" might have a far different meaning than in past and future generations, mightn't it? I mean, after back-to-back matches of 4:12 and 4:59, how can Djokovic's next opponent -- Rafa himself -- NOT be smiling like a Cheshire cat, licking his chops over his opportunity to advance to his second straight Wimbledon final? This time, though it seemed like a good potential SW19 matchup for him after losing to Nadal on the clay in Paris, the Serb may have bitten off more than he can possibly chew. Of course, he seems to like to take very big bites... so who knows?

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 11.


Blogger Zidane said...

After Venus' win over Ivanovic, in the press conference, the journalists asked her questions about her next opponent: Justine. NO ONE ever mentioned Bartoli. Oops...

Really, after Mauresmo falling to Vaidisova, I thought France was gone of the tournament. I was wrong, with Bartoli and Gasquet.

By the way, I saw the Bartoli/Henin match, it was very good. The first went completely to Henin, Marion being too nervous. Then, in the beginning of the second set, games were closed, the two girls having momentum shifts. But slowly all of Henin's parallels started to hit the net or go out. Her confidence dropped and Bartoli took the advantage of the game.

So, while Henin's shots became predictable to avoid hitting the net, Bartoli was placing the ball anywhere she wanted, with Henin playing the "essuie-glace" (in French, for "whipers"), i.e. running through the court for every shot. Plus, Bartoli was really intimidating. I never saw Henin so stunned.

However, Bartoli is a little weird. I liked her game, but before a point, she's doing what I would call extreme steps. It's weird. Maybe there's another open door for a nickname, like a frog or a grasshopper.

By the way, in Qu├ębec, everybody hates Bush :P...

Sat Jul 07, 06:35:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Ha. Good to know that about Quebec. :)

Sat Jul 07, 09:45:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

todd spiker is currently feeling: validated


zidane, you need to comment more! where have you been? :)

Sat Jul 07, 11:16:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

hey todd, do you know whatever happened to one of the women's players who got arrested shoplifting (along with her mother)...i think her name was katerina, but i'm not happened either last year or the year before...

Sat Jul 07, 03:22:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Zidane said...

Lol, I'm just too lazy to comment more. Plus, my picks are not good this year, I think I'm too much biased by my favourite (Maumo, Kuznet, Jankovic, Baghdatis, Djokovic, Federer) who often lose at the biggest moments (except Federer non-Roland-Garros).

Sat Jul 07, 06:33:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

It was Katerina Bohmova. She said it was all a misunderstanding, but I believe they ended up paying a $500 fine or something and just moved on. Best to probably get that out of the press as quickly as possible, I guess. :)

Sat Jul 07, 08:49:00 PM EDT  

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