Monday, January 15, 2007

Day 1: Soul Survivor - The Sequel?

Does Michelle Wie know something that we don't?



The teen golfer showed up in Melbourne on Monday (fresh off failing to qualify in another men's event... but that's another story, now isn't it?), and lo and behold she was spotted in the crowd during Serena Williams' 1st Round 6-2/6-1 demolition of #27-seed Mara Santangelo. Was Wie just looking to be seen, doing the Nike promotion tour, or is she just getting in on the early stages of the fun?

Now, don't get me wrong, trying to gauge Serena's form, fitness, interest and prospects at any time since the SerenaSlam has been a recipe for disaster. But in 2005, she came Down Under with few expectations and walked off with the whole kit and kaboodle. Could we be about to witness a "Soul Survivor" sequel?

That she's in Melbourne is a good sign. That she played in the tune-up events is even better. That she appears to be rolling back into shape is potentially devastating to the rest of the field (well, at least the bottom half of the draw... you know, the primed-for-a-shocker side without either Maria or Kim). If Serena gets better with each match, making it through Nadia Petrova in the 3rd and Jelena Jankovic in the 4th, who's NOT going to be talking about her making it all the way to the final?

Sure, it might not happen that way. In fact, it's probably pretty unlikely. But you can never put anything past the enigma that is Serena. She's proven she can be either heartbreaking or astonishing any given week... it's just a matter of which version of her we're dealing with.

By the end of the weekend, we'll know which one showed up in Melbourne.




Love-Love

...of course, for every yin there is a yang. While we don't know what to expect from Serena, we ALWAYS know what to expect from Anna Smashnova at the slams. She lost to Tatiana Golovin 6-3/6-1 on Monday, retaining her unofficial title as "the worst female slam player ever." Smashnova is the only woman in WTA history to win 10-or-more tour singles titles, but to have never advanced to a single slam QF. Her 30-47 career slam mark isn't all that uncommon, nor is her 28 1st Round exits in those 47 slams... but the dichotomy between Smashnova's non-slam success and futile slam prospects is still quite striking even though it IS re-enforced four times a year.
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15-Love...
meanwhile, Anabel Medina-Garrigues once again showed why she's one of the most underrated players on tour. The #25-seed lost 6-7/6-1/6-1 to Elena Vesina on Monday, thereby becoming the first women's seed to fall. Maybe this sort of thing is why AMG is still pretty anonymous despite her generally consistent play through the years.
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30-Love...
so far, two players have qualified for "qualifier with the mostest" status, as Qualie Goddesses Julia Vakulenko (who upset Elena Likhovtseva) and Anne Kremer (she defeated Michaella Krajicek, who'd almost be young enough to be her daughter if Anne's name was actually Sesil) advanced to the 2nd Round.
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30-15...
I'm riding Shahar Peer during this tournament (hey, get your mind out of the gutter -- I'm talking about having picked her as a surprise semifinalist in the bottom half of the draw), and she opened her Oz with a nice win over Romina Oprandi. Keep it up, Shahar.
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40-15...
on the other hand, I'll be waiting with bated breath on Day Two to see if Backspin's Girl Friday, Anna-Lena Groenefeld, will again get dumped out early in yet another hard court event. She'll be playing qualifier Sandra Zahlavova. Since Michelle Wie's already been mentioned today, I'll pull out Nathalie Gulbis' "should be fun" catchphrase here. Hmmm, but for whom will it be more fun? I'm almost afraid to find out.
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40-30...
at least one German had a nice 1st Round, though. Julia Schruff upset #31-seed Jie Zheng.
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Deuce...
I hope Nicolas Massu got the license plate number of the truck that hit him on Day 1. He lost 6-1/6-1/6-0 to a vehicle with a "Djokovic is No Joke" bumper sticker.
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Ad...
and Ivan Ljubicic wonders why he might not get the respect he's entitled to. He finally reached a slam SF last year at Roland Garros, but since then he's lost in the 3rd Round (Wimbledon) and 1st Round (both the U.S. & Australian) in his last three slam appearances. The Oz #4 seed was knocked out by Mardy Fish on Day 1.
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GAME, "She's trying, folks. So show her a little love."...
Olga Poutchkova is trying to follow in the footsteps of the other 'ovas. In other words, she's a hard-hitting blonde with her own website that officially lists her a "model and professional tennis player," in that order (Google her to see what I mean). Well, on Monday she made quick work of Marta Domachowska in the 1st Round. Hey, you can't say the girl's not trying to hold up her end of the bargain.
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All for Day 1.

1 Comments:

Blogger Topaz said...

Seeing Wie in Serena's box made me think of Tiger in Roger's box during Wimbledon. My opinion...I think it is a Nike ploy!

I honestly expected Santangelo to give Serena more of a test. On one hand, Serena gets through quickly, but on the other...she could use the match time. It will definitely be interesting to see how this plays out.

Mon Jan 15, 05:18:00 PM EST  

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