Monday, August 29, 2005

US Open Day 1: Curses for the Contessova

Old Hollywood movie ads used to tout that a motion picture had "more stars than can fill the sky." That wasn't quite the case on the opening night of play under the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium... but it was pretty close.

Night One starred arguably the brightest lights (or at least, the most marketable) in both the men's and women's draws, Andre Agassi and Maria Sharapova. Both managed to reach the 2nd Round unscathed, a matter-of-fact ending to a day that had at least one bombshell result.

In this inaugural edition of "The Daily Backspin" during the U.S. Open, timed to coincide with the christening of Backspin Blogtown, I'll be presenting a shortened version of the weekly WTA Backspin column. So, here it goes.


PLAYER OF THE DAY: Kim Clijsters
...Martina Muller proved no problem at all for 6-1/6-2 winner Nice Kim, who only recently said that she's planning to hang up her racquet after just two or three more seasons. With time running out to get that first slam, this was a good start. But, then again Clijsters rarely does have trouble this early in a slam.
RISER: Jie Zheng one of the 1st Round's more intriguing matchups of two unseeded players, the Cookie outlasted Iveta Benesova (taking the 3rd set at love).
SURPRISE: Maria Elena Camerin
...the Italian made it an all-around bad day for the Safin family. First, Marat pulled out of the tournament with an injury. Then, Camerin took out his sister, #21-seed Dinara Safina, in three sets.
VETERAN: Ai Sugiyama
...the 30-year old Japanese vet dropped the first set to Alyona Bondarenko, but battled back to finally close out a victory in three.
FRESH FACE: Ekaterina Bychkova
...when you're a 20-year old Russian not named Maria, you still manage to get your share of attention when you take out the defending U.S. Open women's champion in the 1st Round.
DOWN: Svetlana Kuznetsova
...speaking of the first-ever defending U.S. Open women's champion to lose in the 1st Round, the Contessova officially put her 2004 Flushing Meadows run behind her on Monday. Truthfully, if there's a time when a big upset isn't really all that big, then this was it. With Kuznetsova's poor form all summer (and all season, for that matter), her matchup with Bychkova had troubles written all over it when the draw was announced. Hmmm, looks like the Kuznetsova Curse that Tennisrulz head honcho Cantin and myself put on the Contessova back in January is still alive and well, after all.


1.Ekaterina Bychkova d. #5 Svetlana Kuznetsova
...6-3/6-2. The Hordette with the name bound to cause adolescent boys to giggle finally strikes it big by turning Kuznetsova into the "Barefoot" Contessova.
2.Shenay Perry d. #14 Alicia Molik
...6-4/6-4. This one, too, what with Molik's star-crossed season since her great Australian run, was a fairly easy call.
3.Fabiola Zuluaga d. Ashley Harkleroad
...6-0/3-0 ret. Let's hope this isn't another setback that American Splendor will have to claw her way back from.
4.Emma Laine d. Shuai Peng
...3-6/7-6/6-2. Being the only player to defeat Clijsters on hardcourts this summer hasn't exactly sat well with Peng. She's gone 1-4 in main draw matches since.
5.Jie Zheng d. Iveta Benesova
...6-2/3-6/6-0. Peng and Na Li invariably get the most attention of the Cookies, but Zheng is really the more consistent performer of the bunch in WTA events.


#26 Nicole Vaidisova d. Kveta Peschke... one Czech Maiden over another

**1st SEED OUT**
Julia Schruff d. #28 Flavia Pennetta

Sania Mirza d. Mashona Washington
...7-6/6-7/6-4. The Indian Princess didn't fret too long about losing that final in Forest Hills.

**BLUE COURTS??** tell you the truth, I'm so used to seeing them now that I have to be reminded that they haven't always looked that way.

...Serena's $40,000 earrings. Honestly, though, they couldn't hold a candle to Oracene sporting a Philadelphia Phillies throwback jersey in the stands... or Serena's dog Jackie "applauding" her win over teenager Yung-Jan Chan.

More tomorrow. All for now.


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