Sunday, August 26, 2007

US Preview: The Bizarro Open?

What if they played a US Open with no surprises?

I know, I know. That's about as likely as George W. Bush actually managing to string together four consecutive sentences that don't embarrass any right-thinking American when they realize that THIS simpleton is our "official" representative to the rest of the world. But, just for a moment, imagine if it were so (the Open thing, not Bush... we all know THAT ONE is a hopeless fantasy).

I mean, what if it DID happen?

Unsurprising "chalk" results aren't exactly the norm in Flushing Meadows. After all, we've seen six different women's champions the last six years.

2001 Venus Williams
2002 Serena Williams
2003 Justine Henin-Hardenne
2004 Svetlana Kuznetsova
2005 Kim Clijsters
2006 Maria Sharapova

In fact, the last three years have seen six different women reach the final. But, maybe, just maybe, it WILL happen in 2007. I mean, there HAS been some SMIDGEN of form in the WTA's 3Q results, even while the absences and injuries mounted. Six of the ten tournaments were won by the top seeds, as opposed to only eight #1-seeds winning in the previous thirty-four events this season.

Hey, you look for evidence wherever you can find it when you have to do a US Open preview with some sort of historical slant. Go with me here... a very "chalky" Open could be fun, if only for the rarity of it all.

(Plus, after being roundly thumped by a certain Quebec native in our predictions this quarter, I'm effectively throwing up my hands in exasperation and not looking to color "outside the lines" at 2007's final slam... well, at least not TOO much.)

#1 Henin d. #17 Golovin
#8 S.Williams d. #20 Safarova
#3 Jankovic d. #14 Dementieva
#12 V.Williams d. #5 Ivanovic (ooh, sorry Ana)
#7 Petrova d. #9 Hantuchova
#4 Kuznetsova d. Azarenka
#6 Chakvetadze d. #24 Schiavone
#2 Sharapova d. #13 Vaidisova (Maria vs. Nicole?! Really?!)

Now, it should be noted that since the Open Era began in 1968, only once have the top four women's seeds all advanced to the semifinals. It happened in 1975, when #1 Chris Evert, #2 Virginia Wade, #3 Martina Navratilova and #4 Evonne Goolagong all made it through (for the record, Wade defeated Goolagong in the final). So...

#1 Henin d. #8 S.Williams
#3 Jankovic d. #12 V.Williams
#4 Kuznetsova d. #7 Petrova
#2 Sharapova d. #6 Chakvetadze

There you go. Chalk, baby! When all else fails, bow down to the WTA computer.

#1 Henin d. #3 Jankovic
#2 Sharapova d. #4 Kuznetsova

So, if I were to be TRULY straight-laced about all this, I'd surely pick Henin to win it all, right? But I've already picked La Petit Taureau to win at the previous two slams this year, so I'm worried about going that direction again. Even though picking against Justine is usually Backspin Kryponite, I'm figuring what could be a more "bizarro" result than to have the defending US Open champion ACTUALLY DEFEND HER TITLE? After all, there have only been five successful title defenses at the Open in the last twenty years. So...

#2 Sharapova def. #1 Henin

Of course, after going a "sterling" & "stupendous," 1-of-10 this quarter, I'm not really an authority at the moment (thanks for losing this weekend, Virginie, by the way, just in case I forget to bang you over the head with it later... darn Pastry). So, don't be surprised if this turns out to be the wildest US Open ever recorded and two weeks from the now, when the dust settles, we'll be hailing the new US Open champion... Miss Nadia Petrova.

Why the hell not? Hey, at least it's more likely than the Bush thing.

Alina Jidkova

...the 30-year old knocked off Nika Ozegovic, Marta Domachowska and Su-Wei Hsieh.
RISERS: Zi Yan & Olivia Sanchez
...Yan's Toronto momentum and Sanchez's recent ITF title runs propelled them into main draw.
SURPRISES: Pauline Parmentier & Ekaterina Makarova
...Parmentier's big win came against Kutuzova, while Makarova adds her name to the Hordette list.
VETERANS: Emmanuelle Gagliardi & Kira Nagy
...31-year old Gags is the oldest qualifier. Nagy knocked off junior star Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
FRESH FACES Tsvetana Pironkova & Alize Cornet
...Pironkova, who's had some big MD wins at slams, ended Dubois' dreams. Cornet, 17, is the youngest qualifier.
DOWN: Lilia Osterloh
...the #1 Q-seed lost in the opening round of play.

Q1: Tatiana Perebiynis d. Lilia Osterloh 0-6/7-5/6-2
Q2: Tsvetana Pironkova d. Marta Domachowska 6-0/4-6/6-4
Q3: Alina Jidkova d. Su-Wei Hsieh 6-2/5-7/7-6

17...Alize Cornet / FRA
18...Julia Goerges / GER
19...Tsvetana Pironkova / BUL
19...Ekaterina Makarova / RUS
21...Pauline Parmentier / FRA
21...Andreja Klepac / SLO
22...Petra Cetkovska / CZE
23...Zi Yan / CHN
23...Renata Voracova / CZE
24...Tatiana Perebiynis / UKR
24...Olivia Sanchez / FRA
25...Jorgelina Cravero / ARG
28...Sandra Kloesel / GER
29...Kira Nagy / HUN
30...Alina Jidkova / RUS
31...Emmanuelle Gagliardi / SUI
#78....Zi Yan
#97....Alize Cornet
#107...Pauline Parmentier
#111...Emmanuelle Gagliardi
#115...Sandra Kloesel
#116...Jorgelina Cravero
#119...Renata Voracova
#124...Andreja Klepac
#129...Petra Cetkovska
#132...Tsvetana Pironkova
#137...Ekaterina Makarova
#139...Kira Nagy
#142...Julia Goerges
#160...Alina Jidkova
#161...Tatiana Perebiynis
#168...Olivia Sanchez

3...Jorgelina Cravero
2...Alize Cornet (+1 LL)
2...Su-Wei Hsieh
2...Andreja Klepac
2...Alla Kudryavtseva
2...Tatiana Perebiynis
2...Agnes Szavay
2...Renata Voracova
2...Zi Yan
[nations...for 52 Q slots]
8...Czech Republic
1...13 nations tied

Love-Love... hmmm, there was slightly less stretching for a preview topic required in the ATP Backspin Men's prediction column.
Love-15... potential first seeds out? How about:

#27 Vera Zvonareva (vs. Jidkova)
...still nice to have her back
#29 Samantha Stosur (vs. Cornet)
#23 Tathiana Garbin (vs. Cibulkova)
#13 Nicole Vaidisova (vs. Kudryavtseva)

...and no Maria vs. Nicole?

Love-30... potential last qualifer standing? In order...

Alina Jidkova / RUS
Zi Yan / CHN
Andreja Klepac / SLO
Renata Voracova / CZE
Sandra Kloesel / GER

As for the wild cards:

Madison Brengle / USA
Lauren Albanese / USA

Love-40... pre-QF highlights?

Well, the long-awaited Sharapova vs. Vaidisova match would be fun, wouldn't it? We finally might have a great chance for it to happen, but the Dynamova would have to win three matches to get there in her first action since Wimbledon.

Night 1 is scheduled to feature both Serena AND Venus playing singles matches after the ceremony honoring the 50th anniversary of Althea Gibson's US Open championship.

As for fashion, Venus is going to be wearing outfits and shoes by her own eleVen design company. Meanwhile, Sharapova, one year after "Exquisite in the City," will be wearing a collection of dresses offering graphic interpretations of the city.

Bethanie Mattek, as far as we know, will NOT show up wearing a lamp shade fashioned into a hoop skirt.
MATCH, "you want bizarro, you look for bizarro possibilities"...if two players other than Serena, Venus, Sharapova, Henin, Ivanovic or Bartoli reach the final, it'll be the first time since 1977 that all the season's slam finals will have included different players. I know, I know. I'm stretching again.

All for now. Day 1 awaits.


Blogger melissa said...

Brengle's a WC, not a qualifier. I love the predictions, btw! If Sharapova doesn't make it to the final, the way the USTA bent over to make the draw work out that way will look even more ridiculous.

Mon Aug 27, 12:25:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Note to self: when you put a little "WC" -- in red Flair marker, no less --- next to a player's name in the draw, you shouldn't mix her up with the qualifiers. :) Oh, well. Brenglefly has a somewhat better shot at winning her 1st Round match than Albanese did... I mean, unless Mattek distracts her with her outfit.

Well, since both Pierre and I picked Sharapova to win, I'm a little worried that we may again be the black cats crossing her path, as we were when we picked her #1 at the start of the season. ;)

Mon Aug 27, 06:12:00 PM EDT  

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