Thursday, May 29, 2008

RG.5- Early Round Saints & Sinners

Through the first two rounds (well, almost a full two, as of the end of Day Five), there have been players who celebrated, players who fell hard... and one that was either very lucky, or Not Long For This Tournament.

=EARLY ROUND AWARDS - 1st/2nd Rds.=
TOP PLAYER: Ana Ivanovic/SRB
...AnaIvo has arguably had the toughest road so far, but has probably had the least trouble. (RU: Svetlana Kuznetsova/RUS)
RISERS: Karin Knapp/ITA & Petra Kvitova/CZE
...Knapp should get Sharapova next. Could be interesting. Kvitova might end up being the player who emerges from Chakvetadze's former quarter, if she gets past Agnes Szavay. (ALSO: Katarina Srebotnik/SLO & Petra Cetkovska/CZE)
SURPRISES: Carla Suarez-Navarro/ESP & Aleksandra Wozniak/CAN
...CSN could have very easily been in the "Risers" category. Did anyone in their wildest dreams see A-Woz making it this far? (ALSO: Kaia Kanepi/ESP & Olga Govortsova/BLR)
VETERANS: Elena Dementieva/RUS & Emilie Loit/FRA was easy to foresee Dementieva still being around, but Loit? (ALSO: Flavia Pennetta/ITA & Nadia Petrova/RUS)
FRESH FACES Alize Cornet/FRA & Casey Dellacqua/AUS
...Cornet is France's last best hope, but she's trapped in a ridiculous corner in the draw. It's a slam, so Casey decided it was time to turn a few heads again. (ALSO: Evgeniya Rodina/RUS & Dominika Cibulkova/SVK)
DOWN: Nicole Vaidisova/CZE & Anna Chakvetadze/RUS
...well, unless Sharapova trips up tomorrow. (ALSO: Alona Bondarenko/UKR & The Austrians Bammer & Paszek)
COMEBACKS: Iveta Benesova/CZE & Zheng Jie/CHN
...holding up their qualifying round honors. (ALSO: Nadia Petrova/RUS, so far)

1st Rd. - Sharapova d. Rodina 6-1/3-6/8-6
...against a fellow Hordette in her grand slam debut, Sharapova teetered on the edge of oblivion in a swirl of double-faults, clay dust and wind. It'll either go down as the Great Escape, or a sign that this wasn't going to be the Supernova's RG to win, with or without Justine.
QUALIFIERS STILL STANDING: Iveta Benesova/CZE, Carla Suarez-Navarro/ESP & Zheng Jie/CHN (ALSO: Bethanie Mattek/USA, who's still playing Sharapova in the 2nd Rd.)
PASTRIES STILL STANDING: Alize Cornet (3rd), Emilie Loit (3rd) & Stephanie Cohen-Aloro (2nd)
FIRST SEED OUT: #15 Nicole Vaidisova
UPSET QUEENS: The Czech Maidens (knocked out first three seeded players to fall)
REVELATION LADIES: The Czech Maidens (three in final 32), slightly edging out the Pastries and The Ladies of Belarus
ZOMBIE QUEEN: Maria Sharapova, who came within two points of becoming the first #1-seeded woman to fall in the 1st Round at RG
CRASH & BURNERS: #6 Anna Chakvetadze lost to Kaia Kanepi today, becoming the highest seed to fall so far... December is surely looking like it indeed was a bad omen. (ALSO: #9 Marion Bartoli & #23 Alona Bondarenko)
BIGGEST NEWSMAKER: Ashley Harkleroad, who announced she had posed for Playboy. Of course, that this is the most-covered (no pun intended) news of the week says much about the coverage of tennis in the U.S., doesn't it?

Sure, a few of these awards could change tomorrow following the completion of Maria Sharapova, Nadia Petrova and Vera Zvonareva's matches. But, barring any remaining 2nd Round surprises on Day Six, everything should hold up.

(crosses fingers)

...Day Six is almost here, and Maria Sharapova still hasn't advanced to the 3rd Round. Her 2nd Rounder with Bethanie Mattek (sporting her long tee with tied leopard print belt, modified "Flashdance" ensemble) was suspended with the Supernova up 6-2/2-3. Kudos to Mattek, though, for saying yesterday that she wanted Sharapova to win her match with Rodina because she wanted to see how she'd do against her. Of course, she also knew that if she was playing Sharapova there'd be plenty of cameras to go around, so...

...Nadia Petrova hasn't yet advanced, either, but she's got a 6-3/4-2 lead over Alisa Kleybanova as her no-expectations trip to Paris is extended for yet another day. I'd say she SHOULD reach the final 32, but that would be EXPECTING her to not come out flat tomorrow. And your Friendly Neighborhood Backspinner wouldn't want to put that sort of "pressure" on her shoulders.

...Gisela Dulko didn't advance to the 3rd Round, either. But, in her case, it was because she couldn't pull off a second consecutive two-day win over an opponent. Pastry Alize Cornet closed out their suspended match by turning a 3-3 3rd set tie into a 6-4 win. She'll face A-Rad in the 3rd Round.

...after a 1st set in which he committed twenty unforced errors and lost a tie-break to Albert Montanes, Roger Federer did a fairly good impression of... umm... "Roger Federer" by pretty much putting the Spaniard in his place over the next three sets. If he can keep it up he'll extend his Open Era record of consecutive slam SF-or-better results to sixteen in Paris (second on the list? Ivan Lendl, with eight). But if things go according to form, one wonders who he'd rather see win a potential Nadal-Djokovic SF on the other side of the draw. After all, he'd likely have a better shot at that elusive RG title were he facing the Serb in the final. But would it mean as much if DID get it that way, especially for a player so in tune with his place in tennis history?

...Venus defeated 30-year old Selima Sfar in a 2nd Round match today. In the 1st Round, she advanced past 35-year old Tzipora Obziler. So, the average age of her opponents so far is nearly 33. She'll face Flavia Pennetta next. She's 26, twenty months younger than Williams.

...and, finally, did the shadows of time finally catch up with Amelie Mauresmo on Day Five? She went down rather routinely to qualifier Carla Suarez-Navarro 6-3/6-4. There wasn't any Guga-esque fanfare for what might have been the French vet's final RG match, but if things don't improve on the court for Amelie before the end of the season would anyone be surprised if it was indeed her last performance there?

4...Russia (Dementieva-Kuznetsova-Safina-xx)
3...Czech Republic (Benesova-Cetkovska-Kvitova)
3...Italy (Knapp-Pennetta-Schiavone)
2...Belarus (Azarenka-Govortsova)
2...France (Cornet-Loit)
2...Serbia (Ivanovic-Jankovic)
2...Spain (Medina Garrigues-Suarez Navarro)
2...United States (Williams-Williams)
1...Australia (Dellacqua)
1...Canada (Wozniak)
1...China (Zheng)
1...Denmark (Wozniacki)
1...Estonia (Kanepi)
1...Hungary (Szavay)
1...Poland (A.Radwanska)
1...Slovakia (Cibulkova)
1...Slovenia (Srebotnik)
1...Switzerland (Schnyder)
#- total includes Petrova-RUS/Kleybanova-RUS 2r winner, but not Sharapova-RUS/Mattek-USA or Zvonareva-RUS/Cohen Aloro-FRA winners

TOP QUALIFIERS: Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez/ESP & Yanina Wickmayer/BEL
TOP EARLY ROUND (1r-2r): Ana Ivanovic/SRB
TOP EARLY RD. MATCH (1r-2r): 1st- Sharapova d. Rodina 6-1/3-6/8-6
FIRST SEED OUT: #15 Nicole Vaidisova/CZE (1st-Benesova)
IT GIRL: xxx
ZOMBIE QUEEN: Maria Sharapova/RUS [2 pts. from 1st Rd. loss]

All for Day 5. More tomorrow.


Blogger Diane said...

I was really disappointed that Dulko didn't advance. Gisela has great days and not-so-great days. On a great day, she could beat Cornet.

I kind of expected Kleybanova to take out Petrova, but hey--there's still time.

"Zombie Queen"--LOL

Thu May 29, 08:27:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

It was interesting hearing Navratilova talk about Dulko today during Tennis Channel coverage. Remember, Dulko defeated Martina at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon when she made her brief singles "comeback" in 2004 at age 47. She noted how she expected so much from Dulko, but seemed disappointed that it's never really panned out. She looked at her today and said she's a little too scrawny and needs to get stronger and put a little more power in her shots.

Of course, I think part of Martina just wants the last player to beat her in a slam -- twice -- to be something more than a footnote. :D

Thu May 29, 11:28:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Zidane said...

I certainly didn't plan for a Wozniak 3rd round, but I certainly love it!!!!

Thu May 29, 11:41:00 PM EDT  

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