Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Day 2: The Rains of August

On Day 1, Alicia Molik lost her 1st Round match to Vania King and complained about hearing loud music, generators and blow dryers from nearby courts, planes, and the cheers emanating from a particularly loud clinic. Oh, and she also could smell burning hot dogs from a vendor on the tournament grounds.

"You feel like you're in the middle of a circus," said the ticked off Aussie.

Boy, it's a good thing she wasn't scheduled to play on Day 2.

Oh, for the tournament to be held hostage by Mother Nature. That's where Melbourne (and, soon, Wimbledon) have the advantage of forward thinking over the Open... they spent/will spend their money not on a cavernous stadium, but on a retractable roof.

Yes, Tuesday was the helpless victim of one of those weather days that back up the schedule (bad news for Serena), frustrate the television networks and cause tapes of old matches to be pulled off the shelf while everyone twiddles their thumbs and waits. And, this year, there's no Kim Clijsters around to run through the puddles and fulfill her need to be considered "the light-hearted one."

As it was, no matches were completed. Amelie Mauresmo is the only top player facing any sort of interesting dilemma after the abbreviated period of action today. She won the 1st set earlier in the day, only to fall behind 2-5 in the 2nd to pesky qualifier Kristina Barrois before the rain returned. To Barrois' lasting detriment, the night to think about things will probably provide a great assist to Mauresmo's attempt to rally when (if?) play resumes tomorrow.

So, with a bit of dead air to fill, what better time to take care of a little housekeeping and get the August Awards (minus the Open, which will be included in the 3Q Awards, as well as September's totals) out of the way? So...


1.Maria Sharapova

2.Ana Ivanovic
3.Elena Dementieva
4.Justine Henin-Hardenne
5.Jelena Jankovic

RISER: Ana Ivanovic
SURPRISE: Stephanie Dubois
VETERAN: Martina Navratilova
FRESH FACE: Anna Chakvetadze
DOWN: Nadia Petrova
DOUBLES TEAM: Zi Yan & Jie Zheng

...Maria Sharapova wins San Diego, defeating Kim Clijsters 7-5/7-5 in the final to get her first win in five tries against the wristy Belgian

Forest Hills Final - Meghann Shaughnessy d. Anna Smashnova
...1-6/6-0/6-4. For the first in thirteen career WTA singles finals, Smashnova finally loses. It was Shaughnessy's second title of the year, the only two by an American woman in '06. Afterward, Smashnova lost in the opening round of the U.S. Open, the 26th 1st Round slam exit in her career.

...it was a big month for the Serbs, as Ana Ivanovic won the U.S. Open Series after destroying Martina Hingis in the Tier I Montreal final., while Jelena Jankovic reached the final in Los Angeles.

Montreal 2nd - Stephanie Dubois d. Kim Clijsters
...1-6/3-2 ret. Sure, it was because of Clijsters' wrist injury, but it'd be difficult to find a more unlikely "winner" in August.

Montreal Doubles Final - Navratilova/Petrova d. Black/Groenefeld
...6-1/6-2. Maybe not the "biggest," per se, but if it turns out to be the final title of Navratilova's career then it'll forever be the answer to a trivia question.

*WHAT WAS SHE THINKING? (oh, yeah -- she wasn't)*
....in the match against Dubois, Clijsters could have retired from the match at 2-1 in the 2nd set when she first met with a trainer about her troublesome wrist. She didn't, played two games, then saw the trainer again. She didn't quit then, either. Instead, she went out and fell on her wrist while lunging for a shot. So long U.S. Open title defense. So long Fed Cup final.

...in San Diego in August, Nicole Vaidisova lost her second 3Q SF to Kim Clijsters, while Jelena Jankovic dropped her second three-setter of the quarter to the Belgian. Still, Vaidisova recently reached the Top 10 for the first time and Jankovic put behind her that horrific 1-10 start to her 2006 season.

...earlier this year in Warsaw, Anastasia Myskina lost to Polish teen Agnieszka Radwanska in one of the bigger upsets of 2006. This month in Stockholm, Myskina faced Aggie's little sister Urzsula. After winning the 1st set in a tie-break, the Czarina put away Radwanska to prevent the long-distance phone call between the two that no doubt would have resulted in many giggles had the pair suddenly had something more in common than a bloodline.

...though she's generally overlooked in favor of Na Li and (sometimes) Shuai Peng, Jie Zheng continues to impress. She's half (with Zi Yan) of what might be the best doubles team in the world in '06, and her August singles title in Stockholm gives her three for her career -- more than all the other Chinese women combined.

...Maria and Roddick? Roddick and Maria? Does one of them have to win the Open for the "truth" to come out? And what of the whispers sparked by Martina Hingis that Anna Kournikova might be contemplating a return to the tour in doubles? Hmmm...

...The Tennis Channel won the U.S. cable rights to Roland Garros starting in 2007. Oh, well... I'm sure the "Grand Slam Network" can find a way to screw up coverage of the Australian Open and Wimbledon.


In the words of some guy in the stands on Monday night when Andrei Pavel kicked a ball over the net, "This isn't the World Cup, buddy!"

True... but when it rains during a soccer match, the whole thing isn't called off. Something to think about.

All for Day 2.


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