Monday, September 03, 2007

Day 7: Love, Justine?

The most dependable female tennis player in the world has pretty much been overlooked at this year's US Open. But that's about to change.

No player not named Federer has been more solid at the slams over the past two seasons than Justine Henin. She's reached the final of five of the last six slams she's entered (winning two), and if not for that SW19 SF miracle comeback from Marion Bartoli would be looking to extend a very Roger-like streak this time around at Flushing Meadows. She's won six titles in her ten previous 2007 events, and reached at least the SF in all of them. With Maria Sharapova sent packing this weekend, her hold on the #1 position just got a little stronger, too.

But the talk at this year's Open has been about the aforementioned Sharapova, Venus, Serena, the Serbs and the Teen Brigade. Not La Petit Taureau, even though she's yet to lose a set and has finished off opponents with bagels (but no cream cheese... that's an amenity only the other Belgian might have tried to provide) in three of her last five sets. The first two were accomplished against qualifiers, but the third came on Day 7 against #15 Dinara Safina, 6-0/6-2.

But now the real test arrives. Serena.

Henin has already knocked off Williams in the quarterfinals of the last two slams, and the (gulp) steadily improving American will be trying to make the third time a charm. She might, too... as the match could signal the official moment that the Williams sisters take over this tournament if Serena should emerge with a victory. She could face Venus in the semifinals and, well, it would be difficult to see anyone in the bottom half of the draw preventing the Williams family from claiming its third slam title of '07. So, this event turns on this one match -- a type of hold-your-breath moment at which Serena has thrived in the past.

But Henin has done the same, and done it on Arthur Ashe, as well. Her 2003 win over Jennifer Capriati in the semifinals is in the conversation when it comes to the greatest women's matches ever witnessed. And after her "image transformation" at this year's Roland Garros, maybe the time is right for Queen Justine to be fully appreciated on tennis' biggest stage.

Two years ago, Kim Clijsters prevented her career from being an entertaining footnote by finally taking a major title in NYC. Could 2007, a year which began with such personal turmoil for Henin, turn out to be the year that she fully escapes the puppies-and-flowers imbued shadow of her former Belgian rival away from her protective cocoon in Paris? A second US Open title could go a long way toward providing Henin with some, for lack of a better word, "affection" for having found her way through the darkness that has often surrounded her life and tennis reputation and finding that "peace" she talked about after winning her fourth Roland Garros crown.

Now, we wouldn't be talking about a "How They Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Justine" situation. That would be a "'strange love" moment, indeed. But, for maybe the first time in her career, the prospect of it happening for Henin next weekend isn't just a scenario you'd only find in the movies.

Of course, Serena could make that moment a mere flight of fantasy on Tuesday night. Either way, the Moment of the Open is about to arrive.


4...Spain (Ferrer, Lopez, Moya, Nadal)
2...Argentina (Chela, Monaco)
2...Switzerland (Federer, Wawrinka)
2...USA (Blake, Roddick)
1...Czech Republic (Berdych)
1...Germany (Haas)
1...Korea (Lee)
1...Latvia (Gulbis)
1...Russia (Davydenko)
1...Serbia (Djokovic)


SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #1: Men's Doubles 3rd Rd. - Marcelo Melo/Andre Sa BRA/BRA def. #3 Jonas Bjorkman/Max Mirnyi SWE/BLR - 6-3/6-4.
...Bjorkman didn't get the great singles result to make it better this time, though.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #2: Women's Singles 4th Rd. - #12 Venus Williams/USA def. #5 Ana Ivanovic/SRB 6-4/6-2.
...Venus simply outclassed AnaIvo, who's one more season's worth of noncompetitive slam exits (no matter how deep into the draw they come) from having her ability to EVER win "the big one" questioned.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #3: Mixed Doubles 2nd Rd. - Justin Gimelstob/Ashley Harkleroad USA/USA def. #2 Mike Bryan/Alicia Molik USA/AUS 6-3/6-4.
...he's not done yet.

SCORELINE-OF-NOTE #3: Girls Singles 1st Rd. - Tyra Calderwood/AUS def. #4 Nikola Hofmanova/AUT 6-4/6-4.
...the Austrian momentum won't carry over to the Girls.


1. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova / RUS
2. Urszula Radwanska / POL
3. Madison Brengle / USA
4. Nikola Hofmanova / AUT
5. Ksenia Pervak / RUS
6. Julia Cohen / USA
7. Ksenia Milevskaya / RUS
8. Lauren Albanese / USA
9. Kai-Chen Chang / TPE
10. Ksenia Lykina / RUS
1. Uladzimir Ignatik / BLR
2. (vacant)
3. Matteo Trevisan / ITA
4. Fernando Romboli / BRA
5. Greg Jones / AUS
6. Jonathan Essyeric / FRA
7. Stephane Piro / FRA
8. Roman Jebavy / CZE
9. Rhyne Williams / USA
10. Ricardo Urzua-Rivera / CHI


#1 Bryan/Bryan (USA/USA) v. #10 Aspelin/Knowle (SWE/AUT)
Benneteau/Mahut (FRA/FRA) v. Kendrick/Querrey (USA/USA)
#3 Hanley/Ullyett (AUS/ZIM) v. M.Melo/Sa (BRA/BRA)
#9 Dlouhy/Vizner (CZE/CZE) v. #2 Knowles/Nestor (BAH/CAN)

Azarenka/Mirnyi (BLR/BLR) v. Mirza/Bhupathi (IND/IND)
Dechy/A.Ram (FRA/ISR) v. #3 Yan/Knowles (CHN/BAH)
A.Radwanska/Fyrstenberg (POL/POL) v. Huber/J.Murray (USA/GBR)
Shaughnessy/Paes (USA/IND) v. Harkleroad/Gimelstob (USA/USA)


#1 Federer/SUI vs. Lopez/ESP
#9 Berdych/CZE vs. #5 Roddick/USA
#4 Davydenko/RUS vs. Lee/KOR
#10 Haas/GER vs. #6 Blake/USA
Gulbis/LAT vs. #17 Moya/ESP
#23 Monaco/ARG vs. #3 Djokovic/SRB
Wawrinka/SUI vs. #20 Chela/ARG
#15 Ferrer/ESP vs. #2 Nadal/ESP

Federer def. Lopez in 3
Roddick def. Berdych in 4
Davydenko def. Lee in 3
Blake def. Haas in 4
Moya def. Gulbis in 3
Djokovic def. Monaco in 3
Chela def. Wawrinka in 5
Nadal def. Ferrer in 4

MATCH, "So, are we back on schedule now?"... after Rafa Nadal's 7-6/6-2/6-1 dispatching of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, has the "Men at Work" sign been passed on the highway and now the open road to "Roger-Rafa" is directly in front of us? If Nadal gets past a tough David Ferrer in the Round of 16, he seems set for a SF battle with Novak Djokovic, at least... a classic no matter who'd win, while a five-setter would leave the prospect of taking out Federer just twenty-four hours later just a little more dicey than it'd already be.

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
LAST QUALIFIERS STANDING: A.Cornet/FRA & E.Makarova/RUS (+WC A.Rolle/USA) to 3rd Rd.
IT GIRL: (vacant)
ZOMBIE QUEEN: (vacant)
DOUBLES STAR: (vacant)

All for Day 7.


Blogger Kissmyass said...

STFU about your Justine love and Kim hate. Getting so predictable and ridiculous

Mon Sep 03, 10:01:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Ah, a comforting voice from the past.

And, anyways, I hear Kim makes a mean bagel.

Mon Sep 03, 10:33:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Ian said...

Please continue to love Justine and hate Kim. I, for one, love it. ;) I'm so nervous about this QF though - and what makes it worse is I have no way of getting to watch it.

Mon Sep 03, 04:57:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

None at all? Not even simply by updated scoreboard? That's better than nothing. :)

Mon Sep 03, 09:54:00 PM EDT  

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