Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Day 3: The Man in Black

It's tempting to say that the top half of the Men's draw isn't as top heavy as the corresponding half of the Women's draw, but then Roger Federer comes out on Night 3 and shows why his presence in the top half is worth more than that of all those women -- Justine, Serena, Venus, Jelena and Ana -- combined.

The Man in Black put on quite a show in his straight sets win against Paul Capdeville on Ashe Stadium, but what happened earlier in the day was potentially the biggest news so far in the Men's draw, as Novak Djokovic could likely have been caught smiling privately to himself today after Rafael Nadal struggled past wild card Alun Jones in a 1st Round match.

With both knees taped, and wincing in pain throughout, Rafa's physical brand of tennis once again makes one wonder if he and the US Open just aren't a match made in tennis heaven. At the end of a long summer, especially after some odd scheduling that possibly didn't allow him to properly heal the knee injury he suffered in the Wimbledon final, it's difficult seeing Nadal finding a way to make it to the end of this event for an eleventh career meeting in a final against Federer. And with him not playing his 1st Round match until Wednesday, Nadal's now faced with an even more time-crunching bind than usual in order to get through the six matches he'd need to win to play on the final Sunday of the tournament.

So, even though he may have been the slight favorite to outlast Nadal and reach the final when play began on Monday anyway, Djokovic will now have all eyes on him and expectations sky-high when he plays his 2nd Round match against Radek Stepanek, and beyond. The bottom half of the men's draw -- as with the women's and Maria Sharapova -- looks to be his to lose.

Not that Djokovic is ever lacking in confidence, but now he has a little bit more evidence beyond just his Roddick-Nadal-Federer sweep in Montreal that says he might be less than two weeks away from getting his shot at the first grand slam title that most everyone now seems to believe is his destiny (if not here, then somewhere... and soon).

Problem is, the Man in Black will likely have something to say about it. And he has a long memory, too. As much as Djokovic remembers what happened in Canada, Federer has tucked it away in a secure corner of his mind. When the time comes, he'll set the memory free and, well, Novak might not want to be in the general vicinity when it happens.

Love-Love... on a day that was more about what ALMOST happened -- Nadal nearly had a real scare, Marat Safin kept one experienced half-step ahead of Frank Dancevic, one of the bigger events that DID happen was Tim Henman managing to take out #27-seed Dmitry Tursunov in the 1st Round of what will be the Brit's final grand slam event (he'll retire after playing Davis Cup at SW19 later this year). One more win over youngster Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and he might even get to face a potentially hobbled Nadal in the 3rd Round.

Hey, maybe ol' Tim has one more big moment left in him... and Ashe at Night would be a nice place to see him try to make it happen, wouldn't it?

Speaking of which, kudos to the schedule-makers for putting the Blake-Santoro match under the lights for Night 4. Hmmm, what shall I wish for next?

5...Russia (Dementieva, Dushevina, Makarova, Safina, Zvonareva)
3...United States (Rolle, Williams, Williams)
2...France (Bartoli, Cornet)
2...Serbia (Ivanovic, Jankovic)
1...Austria (Bammer)
1...Belgium (Henin)
1...Czech Republic (Safarova)
1...Ukraine (A.Bondarenko)


SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #1: Men's Singles 1st Rd. - Teimuraz Gabashvili/RUS def. #7 Fernando Gonzalez/CHI - 6-4/6-1/3-6/5-7/6-4.
...Gonzo's post-Oz final free fall continues.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #2: Women's Singles 2nd Round - (Q) Ekaterina Makarova/RUS def. #28 Ai Sugiyama/JPN 6-4/4-6/6-2.
...the Russians just keep coming.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #3: Women's Singles 2nd Round - (WC) Ahsha Rolle/USA def. Caroline Wozniacki/DEN - 3-6/6-4/6-3.
...I think it's safe to say that Rolle is going to get the "Surprise" award in Backspin's Early Round Awards tomorrow. Just a hunch.


Ekaterina Makarova / 3rd Round vs. Henin
Alize Cornet / 3rd Round vs. Jankovic
Pauline Parmentier / 2nd Round (Hingis)
Ahsha Rolle / 3rd Round vs. Safina

MATCH, "Is anyone else getting an eerie feeling?"... I mean, after a slow, somewhat indifferent, start against Angelique Kerber on Monday, Serena powered through and won. Maria Elena Camerin made her work in the 1st set tonight, but Williams pushed herself and put away the Italian in straight sets. In Melbourne, Serena slowly worked her way into the tournament and, well, you know how that ended up turning out. Hmmm...

TOP QUALIFIER: Alina Jidkova / RUS
TOP EARLY ROUND (1r-2r): (vacant)
TOP MIDDLE-ROUND (3r-QF): (vacant)
TOP LATE ROUND (SF-F): (vacant)
FIRST SEED OUT: (vacant)
UPSET QUEENS: (vacant)
IT GIRL: (vacant)
ZOMBIE QUEEN: (vacant)
DOUBLES STAR: (vacant)

All for Day 3. Tomorrow: Early-Round Awards.


Post a Comment

<< Home