Friday, August 31, 2007

Day 4: 32 to Tango

Wow, how great is it to have a grand slam that hasn't seen its opening week decimated by Mother Nature?

Right on schedule, we're down to the final thirty-two women in the draw. And, shocker, nearly a third of them are Russians... including two Marias and two Veras, plus a single Ekaterina. But that's not all.

We've also got THREE African-Americans -- two sisters and a wild card. There's a Pastry qualifier and AMG, too. A mommy and a teen -- but not one in the same -- from Austria. A Pole, and a hungry teenager from Hungary. "La Petit Taureau," and "La Trufflette." Tomas Berdych's girlfriend, and a Czech Dynamova with one less usable racquet in her bag than she did yesterday. Two Ukrainians, and a two-headed monster from Serbia. There's a Swiss Mrs. and a Swiss Miss-Who-Was-Almost-a-Mrs., just to even things out. A Princess. A Corporal. And a Belarussian, too.

And with all those, you get 32.

5...Russia (Chakvetadze, Kirilenko, Kuznetsova, Petrova, Sharapova)
2...Switzerland (Hingis, Schnyder)
1...Austria (Paszek)
1...Belarus (Azarenka)
1...Czech Republic (Vaidisova)
1...Hungary (Szavay)
1...India (Mirza)
1...Israel (Peer)
1...Poland (A.Radwanska)
1...Spain (Medina-Garrigues)
1...Ukraine (Vakulenko)

3....United States
2....Czech Republic

Hmmm, no Italians... guess they're focused on defending their Fed Cup title, huh?

On to the Round of 16.


1. Maria Sharapova / RUS
2. Justine Henin / BEL
3. Venus Williams / USA

...the Supernova hasn't been perfect, but she's only lost two games in two matches.
Nicole Vaidisova /CZE & Julia Vakulenko / UKR
Ahsha Rolle / USA & Ekaterina Makarova / RUS
Venus Williams / USA
Agnes Szavay / HUN & Alize Cornet / FRA
Daniela Hantuchova / SVK & Tatiana Golovin / FRA
Vera Zvonareva / RUS

1st: (WC) Ahsha Rolle d. #17 Tatiana Golovin
The spirit of Althea Gibson was with her.
1st: Julia Vakulenko d. #9 Daniela Hantuchova
Amazing what a little better health can do for Julia, huh?
2nd: (Q) Ekaterina Makarova d. #28 Ai Sugiyama
Yep, another Hordette has been born.

1. Sharapova's Big Apple red dress
2. Serena's little black dress
3. Venus' eleVen designs
4. The Man in Black
1. Bethanie... come on, girl
2. Serena's pesky bow
3. Sania's nose ring... but only because it might give Mattek ideas (they ARE doubles partners, after all)

Love-15... See! See! You actually schedule a night match that might be a good one and, glory be, it actually is. After seven consecutive straight sets matches under the lights on Ashe, Fabrice Santoro (who tied Andre Agassi's record of 61 career grand slam appearances with this trip to the US Open) came along and put on a show along with James Blake to give us the match of the tournament thus far.

The crafty/pesky/scrambling/fun as hell, 34-year old Frenchman battled cramps and father time on Night 4, but it didn't prevent him from putting a big scare into the #6 seed, stretching Blake to five sets before finally succumbing 6-4/3-6/6-2/4-6/6-4 in a match that lasted past midnight (finally!).

It was Blake's first five-set win in ten career attempts and, who knows, might just give him the confidence in high-pressure circumstances that will push him into a possible SF match against Roger Federer. Of course, what might happen THEN probably wouldn't be pretty based on past history... but why cry over future spilt milk?

Hmmmm... tomorrow brings us another of those hoped-for night matches, as Janko Tipsarevic faces Rafael Nadal under the lights. Could we have another post-midnight dance like the one we had with Blake and Santoro on Night 3? It might be too much to expect, but we can always hope.
15-15... every time you turn around, there are new Russians making names for themselves at a slam. At this US Open, lesser-ranked Russians knocked off three seeded players in the first two rounds. Some of the Hordettes and the victims which won them the "Upset Queens" award:

Vera Dushevina (1st -#25 M.Santangelo/ITA, 2nd-E.Bychkova/RUS)

Maria Kirilenko (2nd-#22 K.Srebotnik)

Ekaterina Makarova (1st-J.Schruff, 2nd-#28 Ai Sugiyama)

Anastassia Rodionova (1st-O.Savchuk)

Australian: Czechs
Roland Garros: Romanians
Wimbledon: Austrians
US Open: Russians

Of course, if we were looking to crown a single "Upset QUEEN," it's probably Ahsha Rolle, the American wild card who's upset #17 Tatiana Golovin and Karin Knapp. Next up is Dinara Safina in the 3rd Round.
30-15... Ukraine is starting to make some noise as another of those eastern European "tennis nations that could." Alona Bondarenko and Julia Vakulenko have advanced to the 3rd Round (Alona's sister Kateryna missed out after losing to Dinara Safina in the 2nd). Along with the likes of Romania, Belarus, Poland and a few others, Ukraine is one of the nations to put on the "watch list." At the very least, matching the likes of France and the Czech Republic for the number of women remaining in the final 32 is enough to grab this slam's "Revelation Ladies" award.

Australian: Belarussians
Roland Garros: Italians
Wimbledon: French
US Open: Ukrainians

Apologies to the Austrians, Sybille Bammer and Tamira Paszek, who just missed out on this award at Roland Garros, too. But, by this time, final 32 mom Bammer isn't so much of a revelation anymore, although she's sure to go down as the "Surprise Player" of the year on the tour.


SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #1: Men's Singles 2nd Rd. - (WC) Donald Young/USA walkover #13 Richard Gasquet/FRA.
...the Frenchman pulls out with a viral infection. What, no comments about how "it'll tarnish his career forever?"

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #2: Women's Doubles 1st Rd. - #6 Kveta Peschke & Rennae Stubbs CZE/AUS def. Olga Poutchkova & Olga Govortsova RUS/BLR - 6-4/6-2., two Olgas are NOT better than one. Of course, considering they combined for one win in Singles, one Olga wasn't much better than two, either.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #3: Women's Singles 2nd Rd. - Tamira Paszek/AUT def. #24 Francesca Schiavone/ITA - 6-3/7-5.
...the '06 US Open Girls RU to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova reaches the final 32 in the Main Draw, while her conqueror a year ago failed to make it through qualifying.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #4: Women's Singles 2nd Rd. - #4 Svetlana Kuznetsova/RUS def. Camille Pin/FRA - 6-3/4-6/6-0.
...the slams of '07 have just been a case "close, but not nearly enough" for Mademoiselle Pin.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #5: Women's Singles 2nd Rd. - #13 Nicole Vaidisova/CZE def. Flavia Pennetta/ITA - 6-2/7-6.
...the old racquet-breaking Dynamova made a reappearance, but her singular return from a dual with mono has been pretty successful so far. Oh, and that potential first career match-up with the Supernova is still on schedule, too.

MATCH, "Bethanie Mattek returned to the court today for a Doubles match with Sania Mirza. I wonder what they talked about between points?"...

Sania: "No, Beth. For the last time -- I'm not going to let you borrow my nose ring."

Bethanie: "Oh, come on, Sania. I mean, it's not like I'm going to wear it in my nose or anything. No one else will even see it."

Sania: (shaking her head) "Yeah, you know, that's what scares me." (walks away)

Bethanie: "I'll wash it before I give it back to you... I promise."

Oh, Bethanie.

TOP QUALIFIER: Alina Jidkova / RUS
TOP EARLY ROUND (1r-2r): Maria Sharapova / RUS
TOP MIDDLE-ROUND (3r-QF): (vacant)
TOP LATE ROUND (SF-F): (vacant)
FIRST SEED OUT: #29 Samantha Stosur / AUS
IT GIRL: (vacant)
ZOMBIE QUEEN: (vacant)
DOUBLES STAR: (vacant)

All for Day 4.


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