Saturday, August 26, 2006

Wk.34- There IS an "i" in Justine... thankfully

Say what her critics will about her "selfishness" and interpersonal (un-Kim like) deficiencies, but Justine Henin-Hardenne is almost always "as advertised"... doing just what you expect, but somehow more than you presume.

I'm sure someone will crack wise that while Justine did manage to offer a comforting hand to Lindsay Davenport after she was forced to retire from their matchup in the final of New Haven, she did so while patting the American's sore shoulder.

It's a good thing Lindsay didn't wince when she did it, because you could envision all the headlines the HeninHaters would have come up with in an attempt to make her Public Enemy #1 going into the Open next week.

As it is, she'll head warrent poster-less to Flushing seeking to reach her fourth slam final of '06 and stake a claim to the #1 ranking for the season. Rested, apparently healthy (not that she'd say if she wasn't... which any intelligent competitor would avoid if possible, but for which JHH gets singled out for being "insidiously" secretive) and content with her new shoulder-saving service motion, Henin-Hardenne's form and mindset last week might have managed to cast her in the role of favorite in the wide open scrum that is this year's U.S. Open. After all the tumult of Melbourne, time will soon tell whether or not Le Petit Taureau will have the last laugh.

Of course, if she does, she'll probably be told to "shush" and "act like a champion."

C'est la vie.

S: Justine Henin-H. d. Lindsay Davenport 6-0/1-0 ret.
D: Yan/Zheng d. Raymond/Stosur

S: Meghann Shaughnessy d. Anna Smashnova 1-6/6-0/6-4

#80 Vasilisa Bardina (RUS)
#97 Yulia Beygelzimer (UKR)
#100 Eva Birnerova (CZE)
#104 Olga Poutchkova (RUS)
#117 Tatiana Poutchek (BLR)
#118 Varvara Lepchenko (UZB)
#122 Kirsten Flipkens (BEL)
#124 Stephanie Dubois (CAN)
#127 Milagros Sequera (VEN)
#129 Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)
#130 Sandra Kloesel (GER)
#131 Kristina Barrois (GER)
#133 Lioudmila Skavronskaia (RUS)
#136 Yung-Jan Chan (TPE)
#152 Clarisa Fernandez (ARG)
#263 Youlia Fedossova (FRA)
#79 Nicole Pratt (AUS)

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Justine Henin-Hardenne
...season title #5 (in her fifth straight final) has given Justine that ready-for-primetime look. As in, the Open final two weeks from now. It's hard to argue against her 21-1 record since the beginning of play in Roland Garros.
RISERS: Zi Yan/Jie Zheng
...the rankings say that Yan & Zheng are the #3 and #4-ranked doubles players, respectively. But another trumping of co-#1's Raymond & Stosur in New Haven means a title in Flushing could force a legitimate reassessment.
SURPRISES: Samantha Stosur & Stephanie Dubois
...Stosur's run to the New Haven SF, and near second upset of Davenport in a matter of weeks wasn't so much of a surprise. But that she pulled it off after entering the draw as a lucky loser (when Shahar Peer withdrew), then defeating Nathalie Dechy when the Pastry retired, makes her week's work in singles rather fortunate. Meanwhile, 19-year old Canadian Dubois continued her Montreal mo' by qualifying for the U.S. Open last week.
VETERANS: Meghann Shaughnessy & Clarisa Fernandez
...the 25-year old Shaughnessy got wins over Marta Domachowska, Elena Vesina, Lourdes Dominguez-Lino and, finally, Anna Smashnova in Forest Hills to claim her second title (sure, it's a tiny one... but ask Francesca Schiavone if she'd take it and run) of 2006. Oddly enough (or maybe not), they're the only two WTA singles titles won by an American this season. In U.S. Open qualifying, Argentina's Fernandez (#152) reached the main draw of a slam the hard way for the third time in 2006, having also successfully qualified for Roland Garros and Wimbledon.
FRESH FACES: Yung-Jan Chan & Agnieszka Radwanska

...both 17, these are the two youngest U.S. Open qualifiers. Taiwan's Chan, ranked #136 and a Roland Garros Girls semifinalist this year, is the youngest qualifier, having just turned 17 two weeks ago. Poland's Radwanska (#129) won the Roland Garros Girls title. She finds herself in the Petrova/Chakvetadze/Golovin section of the draw, and might benefit if those three continue their slumps (or, in Chakvetadze's case, her recent injury-related string of retirements).
DOWN: Anna Chakvetadze
...did someone say Anna? After a breakthrough summer that's included two wins over Petrova, Chakvetadze has now retired from two straight matches and is something of a question mark in NY. She has a draw that could result in a QF run, but her injury timing couldn't be worse (unless her name was Lindsay, I mean).

1.F.Hills F - Shaughnessy d. Smashnova
...1-6/6-0/6-4. In her thirteenth career final, Anna is finally assailable. Who knew she suffered from triskaidekaphobia?
2.N.Haven F - JHH d. Davenport

...6-0/1-0 ret. A good week for Davenport ended with a worrisome shoulder issue that's now set to accompany her to the Open.
3.N.Haven Doubles F - Yan/Zheng d. Raymond/Stosur
...6-4/6-2. Now who's the best doubles team in the world? Wait... not so fast, Lisa & Sam.
4.N.Haven QF - Davenport d. Mauresmo
..6-4/7-5. Last year, Davenport defeated Mauresmo here in the final, too.
5.N.Haven 2nd - Bartoli d. Petrova
...4-6/6-4/7-6. It's now five winless matches (and counting) for Nadia since she won Berlin and then got injured during practice for Roland Garros. She'll meet qualifier Clarisa Fernandez in the 1st Round in NY.
6.N.Haven SF - Davenport d. Stosur
...7-6/7-6. Slingin' Sammy almost got her second win over Davenport this month. At the very least, she made Davenport play longer than she wanted (it took her six match points to put the match away) and maybe gets an unofficial "assist" in Justine's win on Saturday.
7.US Open Q3 - Chan d. Pratt
...6-1/6-2. Sixteen years Pratt's junior, Chan bounced the 33-year old rather harshly. But the veteran gets the last laugh, since with Venus' withdrawal Pratt gets into the draw as a lucky loser anyway.
8.N.Haven 2nd - Dementieva d. Hantuchova
...6-2/5-7/6-0. Wonder Girl pulled a Dokic-esque disappearing act in the 3rd set in a winnable match.
9.N.Haven 1st - Voskoboeva d. Chakvetadze
...6-3/6-5 ret. But, wouldn't you know it, a Russian STILL advanced.
10.US Open Q3 - Dubois d. Knapp
...6-4/6-1. Dubois is still winning, and Quebec hasn't yet been swallowed whole by the earth. So far, so good. If she beats Bremond in the 1st Round, though, let's hope that Pierre's made sure to take his belongings to higher ground.
HM- N.Haven 1st - Sun d. Schnyder
...6-1/6-3. Not exactly the best Open tuneup for Patty. But, then again, she is Sneaky.

5...Justine Henin-Hardenne
4...Amelie Mauresmo
4...Nadia Petrova
3...Shahar Peer

All for now.


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