Monday, January 22, 2007

Day 8: The Other Meets the One

There are two 19-year old Russians in the women's quarterfinals. Everyone knows who one of them is, but what about the other?

Maria Sharapova can't breathe in Melbourne without being noticed doing it, but Anna Chakvetadze has won four matches there to run her current WTA-best match win streak to nine (Clijsters is 11-0, but three of those wins were in an exhibition) with nary a soul barely batting an eye.

Sure, Sharapova is a proven slam commodity, while Chakvetadze's best career slam result is this one. Sharapova will regain the #1 ranking after the Australian Open and won the last slam she entered prior to Melbourne, while #13 Chakvetadze is itching to enter the Top 10 for the first time and won her hometown Moscow Tier I last October with the help provided by Sharapova pulling out of the tournament on the eve of a match with her Russian counterpart.

Of course, being one of the "other" Russians is nothing new for Chakvetadze. When you're a Russian tennis player named Anna, but not "Kournikova," it sort of goes with the territory.

It would seem she's destined for "Tier II" status on the world stage no matter what she does on the court... unless, of course, she defeats the Supernova in the quarterfinals. Everyone will know who she is then, and headline writers around the world over will be closely scrutinizing their work to make sure the correct combination of t's, z's, d's and v's are present in her name.

Barring that, I suppose she COULD nearly pass out on the court, too. No, make that actually PASS OUT. Now, THAT might shine the spotlight on the Doll. But I could be wrong... I mean, considering her opponent the next time out.


while the draw's top half of quarterfinalists is 50% Russian teens, the bottom half is 50% Czech teens. So, a year after Nicole Vaidisova raced to the Roland Garros SF, another Maiden (or the Dynamova once again) will reach a slam semi. The WTA's Czech revolution is indeed following in the footsteps of the Russian one. Who knows, maybe we're only a few seasons away from half of a slam's final eight consisting of two Chinese and, um, maybe two Romanians or Americans?
15-Love... okay, so maybe it's not likely that the current group of young Americans will produce a handful of slam contenders, but six of the Americanas advanced to the 2nd Round of the Girls Doubles: Julia Boserup, Madison Brengle, Kimberly Couts, Julia Cohen, Chelsey Gullickson and Reka Zsilinszka. Only one American boy advanced past the 1st Round -- Mateusz Kecki.
30-Love... interestingly, the American juniors aren't joined by any Canadians in the 2nd Round of either the Girls or Boys competition. 15-year old American Boserup upset the best Canadian hope, Sharon Fichman, 6-2/6-2 in the 1st Round.

Amongst the 1st Round Girls winners were top-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Tamira Paszek, Alize Cornet, Yung-Jan Chan and Urszula Radwanska.

Sharapova leads Chakvetadze 2-0
...Anna advanced past Sharapova with that Moscow walkover last year, but that couldn't possibly happen again, right? Just as Camille Pin.
Clijsters/Hingis tied 4-4
...Clijsters was 3-0 vs. Martina in '06
Williams leads Peer 1-0
...but it happened in 2005, when Peer was ranked #140
Vaidisova leads Safarova 2-1
...the Maidens split their two matchups last season

30-30... Vera Zvonareva not only lost to Sharapova on Day 8, but she and Andy Ram also lost their 1st Round Mixed match to Aussies Chris Guccione and Casey Dellacqua.

[WOMEN & MEN combined]
3...Russia (2/1)
3...USA (1/2)
2...Czech Republic (2/0)
2...Spain (0/2)
2...Switzerland (1/1)
1...Belgium (1/0)
1...Chile (0/1)
1...Germany (0/1)
1...Israel (1/0)


#1 Bryan/Bryan vs. Coetzee/Wassen
#3 Knowles/Nestor vs. #6 Santoro/Zimonjic
Benneteau/Mahut vs. #4 Hanley/Ullyett
Bhupathi/Stepanek vs. #2 Bjorkman/Mirnyi

Ad... so, I went 7-1 on yesterday's men's & women's 4th Round picks (only missing Gonzalez over Blake), making the combined 4th Round match picks a healthy 14-2. On a side "Royale" note, both Pierre and I correctly picked five of the eight women's quarterfinalists. In our original SF forecasts, he had Sharapova-Clijsters-Vaidisova-Jankovic, while I had Sharapova-Clijsters-Peer-Mauresmo. So onward to the QF:

#1 Sharapova def. #12 Chakvetadze...sorry, Anna
#4 Clijsters def. #6 Hingis...hey, "my gal" Kim wins yet again
#16 Peer def. S.Williams...I can't blink NOW, can I?
#10 Vaidisova def. Safarova...there goes that January prediction of no slam SF for Nicole in' 07 Oh, well.
#1 Federer def. #7 Robredo
#6 Roddick def. Fish
#3 Davydenko def. #12 Haas
#2 Nadal def. #10 Gonzalez original SF picks for the men were Federer-Roddick-Davydenko-Blake.

MATCH, "Opportunities for sale."... Backspin's final two slam awards will soon be determined as virtually the same group of players are neck-and-neck for the "Miss Opportunity" and "It Girl" titles. Teenagers Chakvetadze, Peer, Vaidisova and Safarova are in the race for Oz's 2007 "It Girl," while Serena and Martina join them in trying to snatch the "Miss O" crown for their potential SF-or-better runs. Much will be determined over the next two days... in more areas than just some little WTA Backspin awards, too.

All for Day 8.


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