Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Day 8: Here We Go Again

No, I'm not talking about the rain (though I surely could be). I'm referring to Amelie Mauresmo.

In her Round of 16 match against Nicole Vaidisova on Day 8, defending Wimbledon champion Mauresmo displayed all the time-worn characteristics of "the old Amelie." The one who seemed destined to blow every chance she'd ever have to win a grand slam title, until she finally broke through (twice) a season ago. On Tuesday, THAT Amelie was all over the place.

Mauresmo failed to close out the 1st set after leading 5-3, then punted away three set points after holding a 6-3 lead in the tie-break. After managing to fight through the rain delays and push the match to a 3rd set, she melted down in the final stanza, tossing in the last of her fourteen double-faults in a listless display whose one moment of "pop" came when she angrily fired a ball into the stands.

Vaidisova, 18, won 7-6/4-6/6-1.

In the end, after a strong early round effort, the Mauresmo we'll remember from Wimbledon '07 will bear no resemblence to the '06 Amelie who won the title with such grace and skill, but instead will be the one we briefly glimpsed in the final Wimbledon tuneup event in Eastbourne last month. There, Mauresmo squandered a should-have-been title by finding a way to lose deep in the 3rd set against Justine Henin.

We've seen such a Mauresmo before, but thought she might have been gone forever with the claiming of two grand slam titles.

Apparently, we were wrong.

Sure, this string of all-too-familiar losses could be lingering after-effects of her recent appendectomy... but you've got to wonder if maybe "the old Amelie," who turns 28 on Thursday, might soon be the "old" Amelie in the blink of an eye.

Love-Love... meanwhile, Roger Federer continues to rest. Justine Henin prepares. And Serena Williams heals. Not good news for the other 22 players who are still alive in singles, especially the ones on the men's side who are half-way through the second week of Wimbledon but still have yet to complete what should have been first week matches.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #1: Women's Singles 4th Rd. - #5 Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) d. Tamira Paszek (AUT) - 6-3/6-2.
...the Contessova barely blinked, and is the biggest under-the-radar threat remaining in the draw. Meanwhile, the 16-year old Austrian may be gone... but she'll be back.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #2: Women's Singles 4th Rd. - #18 Marion Bartoli (FRA) d. #3 Jelena Jankovic (SRB) - 3-6/7-5/6-3.
...Jankovic led 3-2 in the 3rd before the last rain delay of the match, then couldn't manuever her way to the finish line after the cover came off the court. She's experienced this sort of thing before, just as this also wasn't the first time that she likely peaked just BEFORE a slam. The only thing new is that Justine didn't have anything to do with her ouster this time.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #3: Women's Singles 4th Rd. - #6 Ana Ivanovic (SRB) d. #11 Nadia Petrova (RUS) - 6-1/2-6/6-4.
...again, AnaIvo outlasts Jankovic in a slam. This is starting to become a pattern. As for Nadia, who put together a pretty good run at SW19 considering her mindset coming in... she should at least gain a small dose of much-needed confidence from her work here.

#1 Justine Henin(BEL) v. #7 Serena Williams(USA)
#18 Marion Bartoli(FRA) v. #31 Michaella Krajicek(NED)
#6 Ana Ivanovic(SRB) v. #14 Nicole Vaidisova(CZE)
#5 Svetlana Kuznetsova(RUS) v. #2 Maria Sharapova(RUS) or #23 Venus Williams(USA)

40-Love... not many matches are being completed, but those that are have managed to shrink the list of potential winners for some of the Backspin Slam Awards. A look at the current nominations:

...the winner of the Ana Ivanovic/Nicole Vaidisova QF gets the honor. It would either give AnaIvo her second straight slam SF-or-better result, or the Dynamova her third slam SF berth.

...Marion Bartoli and Michaella Krajicek will battle in the QF, with the winner gaining a surprise career-best slam SF appearance.

...Svetlana Kuznetsova and Venus Williams are still in the running but, if neither pan out, there's always the possibility of Alicia Molik sneaking through with another big Doubles result to go along with her close fight with Serena in the 2nd Round of singles.
MATCH, "You know it's crunchtime for the All-England Club organizers when"... Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams have their Round of 16 match moved to Court 3 in the middle of the day. Not that the new master plan did much good, considering the weather allowed for only three points to be played before Tuesday's sixth rain interruption finally brought down the hammer of death on Day 8. For the record, Venus is serving with a 30/15 lead.

TOP QUALIFIERS: Su-Wei Hsieh/TPE & Olga Govortsova/BLR
TOP EARLY ROUND (1r-2r): Amelie Mauresmo/FRA
TOP MID-ROUND (3r-QF): (vacant)
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: (vacant)
DOUBLES STAR: (vacant)

All for Day 8.


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