Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Daily Backspin, RG 11: Four to Shimmy on Chatrier

Only four remain in the game: the defending champion, two former slam winners and a Czech teenager looking to make her name a household one.

Hmmm, two more wins on Chatrier Court and Nicole Vaidisova could initiate another Reebok (represented by herself) vs. Nike (represented by you-know-who), teenaged blonde bomber tennis stars with modelling portfolios (though neither anything like that of Heather Mills-McCartney, it should be noted) ad war. Hey, bring it on.


HEAD-TO-HEAD: Kuznetsova leads 1-0
ONLY MEETING: 2005 Wimbledon 3r - Kuznetsova 7-5/6-7/6-2's almost impossible to use past history to determine Vaidisova's fate against Kuznetsova. Their only previous match-up was a year ago on grass. Plus, the Dynamova seems to have learned so much since then. After blowing a lead against Nadia Petrova in last year's U.S. Open Round of 16, Vaidisova reeled off 18 consecutive wins and three singles titles. After her no-show in the Australian Open Round of 16 against Mauresmo, Vaidisova's next slam has featured a win over the aforementioned world #1, the ability to shake off opening set losses, and her first-ever slam semifinal appearance. After defeating Venus in the QF, the Czech teenager made comments about how if Sharapova can win a slam title at 17, there's no reason why she can't do it, too. It's difficult to see this match being easy, but Vaidisova's confidence is sky-high and Kuznetsova admits to pretty much being "asleep" during her early 5-1 QF deficit against Dinara Safina. If Vaidisova continues to keep her head, she'll win her third straight match against a former slam champion.
PICK: VAIDISOVA IN 2, with both sets being ultra-close (maybe even two tie-breaks)

PIERRE's P.O.V.: Vaidisova def. Kuznetsova in 3 - A very tough choice, I think the key is that Vaidisova currently has so much confidence that she will probably be able to play in a more collected manner than Kuznetsova who has had a tendancy to be nervous in big moments.


HEAD-TO-HEAD: Clijsters leads 10-9
...1999 Reims Final - JHH 6-4/6-4
...2001 Roland Garros SF - Clijsters 2-6/7-5/6-3
...2002 Rome SF - JHH 7-5/6-2
...2003 Berlin Final - JHH 6-4/4-6/7-5
..2003 Roland Garros Final - JHH 6-0/6-4 2003, these two Waffles met eight times. But they've only faced each other twice in the past two and a half years. It's been three full years since they last met on clay, in the RG final where Clijsters was mentally shaky and thoroughly outclassed by Henin-Hardenne. JHH hasn't been in her nearly-perfect clay form in '06, having only played five EuroClay matches this season (reaching the Berlin final), but she's yet to lose a set in Paris and has lost but one match there in her last four trips (going 20-1). She's yet to have to dig out a tough three-setter, a skill she's a bit rusty at this season. If Clijsters plays with the aggressive abandon she did against Hingis in the QF, she'll force Henin-Hardenne to turn into Le Petit Taureau again to beat her. There's no more perfect place for it to happen than Roland Garros. The thought here is that Clijsters will push her fellow Belgian, but her own stated dislike of the clay will ultimately lead to her blinking in what is really a very winnable match despite JHH's commanding 5-1 clay court record against her.
PICK: JHH IN 3, with the final set being in the 6-1 or 6-2 range

PIERRE's P.O.V.: Clijsters def. Henin-Hardenne in 3 - What a win this would be, defeating Justine in 3 sets in Roland Garros, but I think Kim is more physically ready for this battle than Justine, and the way she played against Hingis was very impressive to me.



#1 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs. Tamira Paszek (AUT)
#3 Yung-Jan Chan (TPE) vs. #10 Alize Cornet (FRA)
Katerina Vankova (CZE) vs. #13 Youlia Fedossova (FRA)
Alexandra Panova (RUS) vs. #2 Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)


#1 Thiemo De Bakker (NED) vs. Andrei Martin (SVK)
#15 Robin Roshardt (SUI) vs. Philip Bester (CAN)
#8 Petru-Alexandru Lucanu (ROM) vs. Kei Nishikori (JAP)
Martin Klizan (SVK) vs. Pedro Sousa (POR)



2005 Final: Agnes Szavay d. Raluca Ioana Olaru

2004 Champion: Sesil Karatantcheva
2003 Champion: Anna-Lena Groenefeld
2003 RU: Vera Dushevina
2002 RU: Ashley Harkleroad
2001 RU: Svetlana Kuznetsova
2000 Champion: Virginie Razzano
1999 Champion: Lourdes Dominguez-Lino
1998 Champion: Nadia Petrova
1998 RU: Jelena Dokic
1997 Champion: Justine Henin
1997 RU: Cara Black
1996 Champion: Amelie Mauresmo
1996 RU: Meghann Shaughnessy
1994 Champion: Martina Hingis
1993 Champion: Martina Hingis



#1 Federer d. #3 Nalbandian in 4
#2 Nadal d. #4 Ljubicic in 3

(QF re-picks record: 3-1)
__________________________________ Day 11 doubles action, Martina Navratilova/Bob Bryan advanced to the Mixed SF, while Daniela Hantuchova/Ai Sugiyama upset doubles #2-seed Cara Black/Rennae Stubbs in the Quarters.

Meanwhile, after noting some of the comically "less-than-complimentary" post-match comments she made last year, I'll make a point to offer up this from Venus Williams, after losing to Nicole Vaidisova in the QF: "She (Vaidisova) just was the better player today," Venus stated.

Very gracious. (And, for once, there's no sarcasm involved when talking about Venus.) See how easy that was?

All for Day 11.


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