Saturday, January 21, 2006

Oz Open Day 6: Pay No Attention to the Woman in the Tennis Skirt

Do we have an impostor in our midst? Is the limp real? Is the wrap REALLY necessary? Is Kim Clijsters pulling the wool over our eyes?

A week ago, Killer Kim was fresh off her withdrawal from the Syndey quarterfinals with a hip injury, and her participation in Melbourne was up in the air. Since then, she's talked of playing with pain, taken injury timeouts, and held abbreviated "practices" away from prying eyes. She was Creaky Kim, the #2-seed with the big question mark etched on her forehead.

Or at least she was SUPPOSED to be.

We're essentially at the Oz Open half-way point, and these are Clijsters' round-by-round scorelines:

1st: def. Yoon-Jeong Cho 6-3/6-0
2nd: def. Meng Yuan 6-4/6-2
3rd: def. Roberta Vinci 6-1/6-2

Am I missing something here? Come on, Kim, are you REALLY hurt? Is the competition really so lackluster that you aren't even remotely challenged even while not playing anywhere near 100%? Or are you just playing opossum with us? Are you actually Crafty Kim? Not that I'm looking to launch any conspiracy theories or anything (not yet, anyway). Clijsters' Round of 16 opponent is scheduled to be Francesca Schiavone, so maybe we'll get a better idea about the Belgian's true condition soon.

Hmmm, Clijsters vs. Schiavone. Why does that sound familiar? Oh, yeah. That was the match-up that never happened in the Sydney QF... so Francesca didn't get an '06 preview of her opponent. Why, if I didn't know any better I'd think that Clijsters had an "inside source" that told her that the AO draw was likely to set up this little meeting.

Ah... where's Damir Dokic when you need someone to hatch a hair-brained scenario that'll get worldwide attention? (Don't answer that, for the sake of the Serbian "media" and all that is holy in merry ol' land of Oz.)

DOROTHY OF THE DAY: Francesca Schiavone
...Maria Sanchez-Lorenzo didn't know what hit her on Saturday, as the #15-seeded Italian double-bagled her in the 3rd Round of a slam. How embarrassing. Now, Schiavone gets another shot at a Belgian. She missed her Clijsters match in Sydney, then blew a nice lead in the final against Justine Henin-Hardenne. Will the third time be the charm?
SHEILAS: Patty Schnyder & Anastasia Myskina
...while everyone's talking about the Williames losing, watching Hingis & Sharapova and raising an eyebrow about Clijsters (well, at least someone is), these two have crept through the draw to set up a meeting that will result in one of them reaching the QF. "The Other Swiss," Schnyder's yet to lose a set in Melbourne (she handled Aiko Nakamura 6-2/6-3). Meanwhile, Myskina, "The Other Russian Slam Winner" who erased Sofia Arvidsson 6-3/6-1 in the 3rd Round, has lost just one set (a typically Czarina-esque 20-minutes-or-so-long 6-0 walkabout, against Jamea Jackson). Hmmm, Myskina vs. Schnyder. Should be the most argumentative match of the tournament... but exactly who these two powderkegs will get mad at first -- themselves, their coaches or the world (I'm talking about Sneaky Patty there, of course) -- is anyone's guess.
GOBSMACKER: Nathalie Dechy
...last year, French Pastry Dechy reached the singles SF and had #1-seed Lindsay Davenport dead to rights before letting the biggest win of her career slip through her fingers. This year, she lost in the 1st Round to Zi Yan. On Saturday, though, her fortunes brightened a bit when she and Mixed partner Leander Paes upset the #1-seeded team of Cara Black/Wayne Ullyett in straight sets.
AUNTIE EM: Martina Hingis know Martina's having a nice week when she has to pull out Saturday's early 1st set deficit of 1-3 against Iveta Benesova to "prove" to everyone that things really haven't been quite as easy as she's made them appear this week. Sammy Stosur is up next. Well, at least Martina might have a fair portion of the crowd against her. You take "adversity" where you can get it, I guess.
MUNCHKIN: Nicole Vaidisova
...Vesuvius has yet to appear, largely because things have gone so well for Vaidisova in Melbourne thus far. Her quick work 3rd Round defeat of Flavia Pennetta came in Saturday's only women's match that matched up two seeded players.
WALKABOUT: Michaella Krajicek
...Krajicek's found her way past almost every opponent she's faced in 2006 so far, but she couldn't beat Mother Nature. After barely making it through the 1st set against Amelie Mauresmo (losing it 6-2), the 17-year old retired due to heat stress and left the court in tears.

1.#16 Vaidisova d. #20 Pennetta
...6-4/6-2. In November in Philadelphia, it was Amelie Mauresmo who ended Vaidisova's 18-match winning streak. The final score was a tight 7-5/7-5. The two meet again in the Round of 16. Has Maiden #1 improved enough in two months to reverse that score?
2.Hingis d. Benesova
...6-4/6-1. #30 Zvonareva is still the top-ranked player that Hingis has faced in Melbourne. Next up is unseeded Stosur for a trip to the QF. Where's Damir, again?
3.Stosur d. Bammer

...7-5/4-6/6-3. Whew! A little too close for comfort there, Sammy. You'll have to hold onto your serve more often (there were a total of nine service breaks in the 1st set here) against Hingis to keep this boat afloat. A Stosur Did-You-Know fact: her WTA bio says that one of her nicknames is "Samoid."
HM- #2 Clijsters d. Vinci
...6-1/6-2. Make sure you rest that hip, Kim. (Wink, wink.) We wouldn't want it to tighten up or anything.


1...Czech Republic

2000: #682
2001: #276
2002: #265
2003: #153
2004: #65
2005: #46
2006: #98 (as of Jan.15)
...#98? That's what happens when you start '05 by making back-to-back finals, then in '06 play the Hopman Cup and face Vaidisova in the 1st Round in Sydney.


[bottom half]
...the winner of the Stosur/Hingis 4th Round match will have a leg up on everyone for "Ms.Opportunity" barring a surprise SF-or-better run from a top half contender. Of course, the same goes for either Vaidisova or Schiavone, who both face big challenges (Mauresmo and Clijsters, repspectively) in their next match.

...Hantuchova's upset of Serena makes her the favorite now, but Hingis, Stosur and especially Vaidisova can still surpass her if Wonder Girl loses to the Supernova in the Round of 16.

...the Spanish gals have the title, unless Schiavone upsets Clijsters.

...but the five Italians who reached the 3rd Round get the consolation prize in this new Backspin slam award category. Hmmm, if Schiavone wins a title soon, I think the Italians are going to have to be given a collective nickname.

...a rematch of the 2004 U.S. Open semifinal:

LINDSAY DAVENPORT vs. SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA Flushing Meadows, the Contessova turned around a deficit and beat Davenport in a 6-4 3rd set. Is THAT Kuznetsova back? We'll soon find out.

#1 Davenport d. #14 Kuznetsova
#8 Henin-Hardenne d. Ruano-Pascual
#4 Sharapova d. #17 Hantuchova
#6 Petrova d. Vesnina

...keep an eye on Kuznetsova, though.

All for now. More tomorrow.


Blogger thesupernova said...

This is a little obvious, but "the italian stallions" has a nice ring to it.

Mon Jan 23, 10:37:00 AM EST  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Yeah, I thought of that. I'm think something more feminine, or having to do with Italian cuisine maybe. The Linguinis?

Mon Jan 23, 02:43:00 PM EST  

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