Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Oz Open Day 10: Surrender Dorothy

The final four are set in the Australian Open. Which one will emerge from Melbourne having claimed the role of Dorothy? We'll know by the end of Saturday... but does recent history already give us a clue about which woman it will be?


MARIA SHARAPOVA vs. JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE


KIM CLIJSTERS vs. AMELIE MAURESMO

Remember those slam stats I talked about in the Waltzing Mathilda Preview? As things stand on the eve of the women's semifinals, the odd march through history could very well continue. Or at least part of it. A rundown of the possibilities:

1)The past seven slams have produced seven DIFFERENT champions. There is still one possibility (Amelie Mauresmo) who could make it eight.
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2)No player seeded in the top 3 has emerged as the slam champion the past seven times out. A fifth slam for #8-seed Justine Henin-Hardenne, or a second for #4 Maria Sharapova, could make it eight in a row.
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There're are two more "partials" at stake, as well:

1)Of the past fourteen slam finalists, only three have been seeded #1 or #2. Top-seeded Lindsay Davenport held up half of that one, and a Mauresmo win over #2 Kim Clijsters could make it 3-of-16. No #1 or #2 seed has won a slam in the past seven outings.
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2)Of the three #1/#2-seeded finalists, zero where #2 seeds (Clijsters) during the period.
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**THE PAST 7 SLAM FINALS**
2004 Roland Garros - #6 A.Myskina d. #9 E.Dementieva
2004 Wimbledon - #13 M.Sharapova d. #1 S.Williams
2004 U.S. Open - #9 S.Kuznetsova d. #6 E.Dementieva
2005 Australian - #7 S.Williams d. #1 L.Davenport
2005 Roland Garros - #10 J.Henin-Hardenne d. #21 M.Pierce
2005 Wimbledon - #14 V.Williams d. #1 L.Davenport
2005 U.S. Open - #4 K.Clijsters d. #12 M.Pierce

So, of course, there's really no need to play the semifinals and final, right? We already know how they're going to turn out. Right? Maybe not... but who am I to go against history?

The tennis gods have already surrendered the names of this year's two "Dorothy" contenders. (Check the end of this Backspin to see them.)



==DAY 10 PLAYER AWARDS==
DOROTHY OF THE DAY: Kim Clijsters
...it wasn't an easy win over Martina Hingis in the QF, but the Killer's still "persevering" with her hip and back "injuries."
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SHEILA: Samantha Stosur
...Slingin' Sammy and Lisa Raymond defeated Groenefeld/Shaughnessy to advance to the Doubles final. Your 2006 AO "It" Girl is hereby crowned.
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GOBSMACKERS: Zi Yan & Jie Zheng
...the Chinese pair, QF winners over Asagoe/Srebotnik, will have the crowd against them in the Doubles final, as Australia's best chance for a title rest in Stosur's (and Raymond's, of course) hands.
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AUNTIE EM: Elena Likhovtseva
...the Russian vet, with Mixed partner Daniel Nestor, knocked out Zvonareva/M.Bryan to reach the SF.
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MUNCHKIN: Caroline Wozniacki
...the Danish #1 Girls seed advanced to the singles QF, beating #16 Timea Bacsinszky 6-2/6-4.
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WALKABOUT: Patty Schnyder
...Sneaky sneaked out the back door, losing meekly to Mauresmo 6-3/6-0 in the QF.
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==DAY 10 MATCHES==
1.QF - #2 Clijsters d. Hingis
...6-3/2-6/6-4. Clijsters held an easy 6-3/2-0, 40-0 lead before Hingis stood her ground, and Kim ceded her's, rushing her shots and hitting errors from every conceivable angle (mostly from the backhand side). Hingis won six straight to take the 2nd, and even overcame a 3rd set deficit to save two match points at 5-3. In the end, Clijsters was too much for the Swiss Miss... but has anyone re-thought whatever their ideas were about where Hingis' year-end ranking will be? Either way, Hingis seized the "Opportunity" provided her in Melbourne, becoming the first women's wild card to reach a slam QF.
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2.QF - #3 Mauresmo d. #7 Schnyder
...6-3/6-0. Another stress-free day for Amelie. But will she have the nerve to come through the SF for her first slam final since 1999?
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==DAY 10 ODDS & ENDS==

**AUSTRALIAN OPEN DESIGNATIONS**
FIRST SEED OUT: #9 Elena Dementieva (1r-Schruff)
LAST QUALIFIER STANDING: Olga Savchuk (3r)
UPSET QUEENS: Spanish women
REVELATION LADIES: Italian women
IT GIRL: Samantha Stosur
Ms.OPPORTUNITY: Martina Hingis

**CLIJSTERS SLAM SF HISTORY**
Australian: 1-2
Roland Garros: 2-0
Wimbledon: 0-1
U.S. Open: 2-0
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2001 Roland Garros (W)
2002 Australian (L)
2003 Australian (L)
2003 Roland Garros (W)
2003 Wimbledon (L)
2003 U.S. Open (W)
2004 Australian (W)
2005 U.S. Open (W)
2006 Australian
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**MAURESMO SLAM SF HISTORY**
Australian: 1-0
Wimbledon: 0-3
Roland Garros: 0-0
U.S. Open: 0-1
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1999 Australian (W)
2002 Wimbledon (L)
2002 U.S. Open (L)
2004 Wimbledon (L)
2005 Wimbledon (L)
2006 Australian
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**HINGIS in 2006**
OVERALL: 7-3
vs. Players outside Top 10: 7-1
vs. Top 10 players: 0-2

**WOMEN'S DOUBLES FINAL**
#1 Lisa Raymond/Samantha Stosur vs. #12 Zi Yan/Jie Zheng

**SEMIFINALS - CAREER HEAD-to-HEAD**
Henin-Hardenne leads Sharapova 2-1
Clijsters leads Mauresmo 8-3

**SEMIFINALISTS - SLAM FINAL HISTORY**
4-1...Henin-Hardenne (AO: 1-0)
1-0...Sharapova
1-4...Clijsters (AO: 0-1)
0-1...Mauresmo (AO: 0-1)


**NON-SINGLES MATCH-UPS TO WATCH ON AUSTRALIA DAY**
...the Melbourne partisans still have something at stake, as Aussies Rennae Stubbs & Todd Perry take on Hingis & Mahesh Bhupathi, and Slingin' Sammy Stosur teams with fellow Aussie Paul Hanley against Mike Bryan & Corina Morariu in a pair of Mixed Doubles quarterfinals. The two all-Australian teams could face each other in the semifinals.

**DAY 11/SEMIFINAL PICKS**
#8 Henin-Hardenne d. #4 Sharapova
#3 Mauresmo d. #2 Clijsters

...this would be Le Petit Taureau's 20th straight win in Australia (Sydney & Melbourne, 2004-06). Clijsters going out would keep the Top 2 seed non-champion streak alive, and allow one of the two current slam streaks going -- either a lower-seeded or eighth different champ. Hmmm... Justine or Amelie in the final? Is there really any doubt who'd win that one? Not from this viewpoint, there isn't.



All for now. More tomorrow.

2 Comments:

Blogger thesupernova said...

Very very impressive pick Mr. Spiker! I thought it was going to be an all Belgium final. Kudos to you!

Thu Jan 26, 09:09:00 AM EST  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Hey, Clijsters was finally REALLY hurt this time, I guess.

Thu Jan 26, 11:37:00 AM EST  

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