Thursday, September 08, 2005

US Open Day 11: Wonder Doubles

Daniela Hantuchova's career has experienced a series of trips down the rabbit hole over the last few years. Ever since winning her first (and, so far, only) WTA singles title back in 2002, and rising to a ranking of #5 the following January, her weight, emotions and game have been called into question.

Wonder Girl looked lost and, for a while, it was an open question whether or not she'd ever find her way back.

But despite at one point falling outside the Top 50, Hantuchova never gave up and, finally, she's seeing the light at the end of what once was a very long tunnel. The Slovak who was bathed in high praise by no less than the likes of Martina Navratilova recently reached a major hardcourt final in L.A., then returned to the singles Top 20. On Thursday, she accomplished a very rare, not to mention Navratilovian, feat -- she won the U.S. Open Mixed Doubles crown with Mahesh Bhupathi, completing a career grand slam with Mixed Doubles titles at all four championships.

2001 Wimbledon (w/ Leos Friedl)
2002 Australian (w/ Kevin Ullyett)
2005 Roland Garros (w/ Fabrice Santoro)
2005 U.S. Open (w/ Mahesh Bhupathi)

In what's become something of the "season of the comeback," add Hantuchova's name to the list of the "resurrected."


PLAYER OF THE DAY: Daniela Hantuchova
...on a day where the "Final 4" were at rest, and most of the action involved the "next generation" of tour stars participating in the juniors, Hantuchova gave a subtle reminder to us all that she's still out there fighting... and might just yet one day reach her vaunted potential.
RISERS: Elena Dementieva & Flavia Pennetta
...everything Punch-Drunk touches is turning to gold in Flusing Meadows. Her Midas touch extended to the doubles on Thursday, as she and Pennetta excused Groenefeld/Navratilova in the Doubles SF.
SURPRISE: Nina Henkel
...the 18-year old German junior knocked out #11 Girls seed Wen-Hsun Hsu to advance to the Quarterfinals. She'll next face the equally surprising American Elizabeth Plotkin.
VETERAN: Lisa Raymond
...Raymond & Samantha Stosur outlasted Conchita Martinez & Virginia Ruano-Pascual in a 3rd set TB to advance to the Doubles final.
FRESH FACE: Alexa Glatch
...the 15-year old American is looking like she may just have "the goods." On Thursday, she defeated #9-seed Ekaterina Makarova of Russia. Next up in the Girls QF is Slovakian-born #3-seed Dominika Cibulkova. Meanwhile, Glatch & Vania King also reached the Girls Doubles SF.
DOWN: Anna-Lena Groenefeld & Martina Navratilova
...don't worry, she got a long time left in her career to win a grand slam title. And Groenefeld has a long a career in front of her, too.


1.Mixed F - Hantuchova/Bhupathi def. Srebotnik/Zimonjic
..6-4/6-2. Well, Wonder Girl's got the Mixed Doubles down perfectly. Now, onto the singles?
2.Doubles SF - #14 Dementieva/Pennetta def. #7 Groenefeld/Navratilova
...6-2/6-4. Pennetta is now officially along for Punch-Sober's magical Big Apple ride.
3.Girls 3r - #1 Viktoria Azarenka def. Renee Reinhard
...6-0/6-0. There's a reason the 16-year old from Belarus is the #1 seed.
HM- Girls 3r - #6 Marina Erakovic def. #10 Vania King
..6-3/3-6/7-6(2). The New Zealand teen now gets #1-seed Azarenka.

==DAY 11 ODDS & ENDS==

...who'd have thought Venus could come up with yet another new and exciting excuse for her QF loss? Get ready, now. The reason Venus gave for losing to Kim Clijsters was... (drumroll, please)... the Belgian just played "too bad" for Venus to beat her. Huh? Well, in Ferris' own words, "She started playing really bad, and it totally threw me off. She started hitting these really weird shots and short balls and, like, just weird stuff. Next thing I knew I was playing as bad as she was." Okaaaayyy. Oh, and just for good measure, in case you didn't buy her other explanation, Venus said she had a sore right hip hampering her, too. Nice to see winning Wimbledon hasn't changed her, isn't it?

Doubles SF - #6 Lisa Raymond/Samantha Stosur def. #3 Conchita Martinez/Virginia Ruano-Pascual
...7-5/4-6/7-6(4). Now, Raymond/Stosur will have to take on Dementieva's seemingly supernatural aura of "inevitability" in the final.

55-6...Kim Clijsters
48-7...Maria Sharapova
33-12..Elena Dementieva
32-10..Mary Pierce

Australian - Samantha Stosur/Scott Draper
Roland Garros - Daniela Hantuchova/Fabrice Santoro
Wimbledon - Mary Pierce/Mahesh Bhupathi
U.S. Open - Daniela Hantuchova/Mahesh Bhupathi

**2005 SLAM SF - SEEDS**
Australian...#1, #4, #7, #19
Roland Garros...#7, #10, #16, #21
Wimbledon...#1, #2, #3, #14
U.S.Open...#1, #4, #6, #12

...tomorrow, the Russian Revolution could overtake the women's tour once again as two members of the Horde try to reach the U.S. Open women's final. After winning the final three slams of 2004, the Russians have yet to reach a slam final in 2005 (though more of this year's slam semifinalists have hailed from Mother Russia than any other nation). But all that could change in a big way on Friday.

With all of Flushing Meadows feeling like it might be ready to open its arms to a certain 30-year old Frenchwoman (rather than the bound-to-break-hearts Nice Kim... who might just never win a slam if she doesn't win this one), here are the picks:

#1 Sharapova def. #4 Clijsters
#12 Pierce def. #6 Dementieva

All for now.


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