Monday, June 05, 2006

The Daily Backspin, RG 9: Eight on the Dirt

The final eight at Roland Garros have totalled up some impressive career statistics: 146 WTA singles titles, 16 grand slam championships, and 284 weeks as the #1 player in the world.

But only one of the Elite Eight has ever left Paris on a winning note (Henin-Hardenne, twice), and three (Clijsters, Williams & Hingis) have reached the final only to walk away dejected. Meanwhile, the other half of the group have just experienced their career-best RG result in just the past few days.

DAY 10: Tuesday, June 6


HEAD-TO-HEAD RECORD: Williams leads 1-0 (on clay)
LAST MEETING: 2005 Istanbul Final (clay) - Williams 6-3/6-2

...I get the feeling that Venus' experience will get her through this one, but if the Dynamova does win, she'll win at least one more at this Roland Garros. PICK: VENUS IN 2 (but if it lasts 3, go with Vaidisova)

PIERRE'S P.O.V.: Vaidisova def. V.Williams in 3 - this is going to be some battle, lots of ups and downs, both players will want the win badly... In the end, I think Nicole will be able to back up her upset thanks to a bit better consistency.


HEAD-TO-HEAD RECORD: Safina leads 3-2 (Safina 2-1 on clay)
LAST MEETING: 2006 Rome SF (clay) - Safina 3-6/6-4/7-5

...just like Safina opponent Sharapova in the 4th Round, Kuznetsova lost a lead (6-3/4-3) in her Rome loss to Marat's sister. My head says to go with Kuznetsova, as Safina's string of sweat-it-out wins has to end sometime. PICK: KUZNETSOVA IN 3

PIERRE'S P.O.V.: Safina def. Kuznetsova in 3 - Should be a good one, I think Kuznetsova is looking fairly good though, it will be tight, both are solid on clay, but I'm going with Dinara!


HEAD-TO-HEAD RECORD: first meeting

...JHH is the best clay courter in the world not named Rafael, and the surface isn't exactly Girl Friday's best place to play. But ALG has a 2006 clay title, while Henin-Hardenne has none. Le Petit Taureau has been a slight disappointment in Europe, while Groenefeld has defied Parisian expectations through four matches so far. Still... PICK: JHH IN 2

PIERRE'S P.O.V.: Henin-Hardenne def. Groenefeld in 2 - not much of a problem for Justine here, she has too much variety and is a lot more steady, I see this match as being an under 1 hour match.


HEAD-TO-HEAD RECORD: Hingis leads 4-2 (never met on clay)
LAST MEETING: 2006 Australian Open QF - Clijsters 6-3/2-6/6-4

...Clijsters lost a lead and needed three sets to defeat Hingis in their Oz QF meeting. The same situation might occur here, but with a different ending. PICK: HINGIS IN 3

PIERRE'S P.O.V.: Clijsters def. Hingis in 3 - I think this will be a terrific match, lots of variety, both players will work hard. Problem for Martina is she'll have problems getting balls past Kim and thus will have to work extra to win points, which will take its toll by set #3.

#1 Federer d. #12 Ancic
#6 Davydenko d. #3 Nalbandian
#4 Ljubicic d. Benneteau
#2 Nadal d. Djokovic least I hope so, since they were all my original Final Four predictions.


**BATTLE ROYALE UPDATE** our original Round of 16 picks, Pierre got 12 to my 10. In our Final 8 predictions, I correctly slotted 6 to his 4. For the season, Pierre leads 31-29 in Round of 16 picks, while I lead 36-29 in Quarterfinal predictions.

In our Round of 16 women's re-picks, I went 6-2 to his 5-3. Hmmm, if I'd only stuck with my original Safina over Sharapova pick from last week I would have been even better.


"Mademoiselle Opportunity" and "It Girl" titles are down to a select few now. For the latter:

Anna-Lena Groenefeld
Dinara Safina
Nicole Vaidisova

And the former:

Anna-Lena Groenefeld
Martina Hingis (the Oz "Miss O")
Dinara Safina
Nicole Vaidisova
Venus Williams


On Day 9, the long-awaited Martina vs. Martina Mixed doubles match didn't even go off (damn pigeons), as Hingis pulled out of the match because of having to complete her 4th Round win over Shahar Peer earlier in the day.

A few interesting junior results, as Czech Maiden Katerina Vankova upset Hordette Alisa Kleybanova, while Germany's Dominice Ripoll knocked of Swiss Junior Miss Timea Bacsinszky. On Day 10, Alize Cornet will face off against Dane Caroline Wozniacki, who was the Girls RU in Melbourne.

All for Day 9.


COMING UP: Mid-Round (3r-QF) Awards


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