Wednesday, July 02, 2008

W.9- Never Again Will There Be a Day Like This at Wimbledon... starting next year

While most of the scheduled matches actually managed to be completed today, there were certainly some moments at the start of Day Nine where the notion of a totally rained-out day was playing on everyone's mind. While the occasional breather is nice, the situation is maybe the worst thing about Wimbledon... at least from a television viewer's perspective.

Thankfully, after this coming weekend, we can finally say, "never again."

The Centre Court of the the Future... now just one year away

One year from now, a day such as today will be met with excitement rather than worry or dread... at least for everyone watching around the world and those lucky enough to have Centre Court tickets. By then, the retractable roof will be in working order, and the stats about which players have the best records on a covered Centre Court will begin to be compiled (at least I know SOMEONE who'll be doing that... clears throat). Come June or July 2009, the fortnight's first sight of too many covered courts to count on the grounds of the All-England Club will elicit a feeling of "joy."

"Oh, boy. Here we go. This'll be fun." A whole new FIRST at Wimbledon will be about to be witnessed.

The rain hasn't been much of an issue at this Wimbledon, but there's still some time left in this event for it to wreak a little havoc. But not for much longer. Take that, Mother Nature... the 21st century has almost TOTALLY arrived at SW19.

Three of the Men's QF matches were finished, even with the delays with the rain. Nothing much there to raise any eyebrows, though... except maybe for Marat Safin's ability to transform himself from the old "Mr. Hyde" version of himself early in the match to the "Dr. Jekyll" who managed to come back from a set down to take out Feliciano Lopez in four sets to reach his first career Wimbledon SF. Roger Federer awaits him.

Speaking of, Federer proved that 2008 isn't 2002 in dispatching Mario Ancic (the last player to beat him on the lawns six years ago) in three sets, stretching his grass streak to 64 matches and 39 straight at Wimbledon, advancing to his record 17th consecutive slam SF. Obviously, Ancic wasn't quite at the same level of play after his five-set comeback the other day, and with him nursing a leg injury. But, then again, THIS Federer is the same Federer from '02, either... no matter how many people wanted to question it before this tournament began.

And I suppose too much was expected of Andy Murray against Rafael Nadal. Physically and emotionally tired, Murray was no match for a dominating Rafa on Day Nine. Thus, a nation continues to wait for the long-overdue first homegrown All-England Club champion since Fred Perry in 1936 (and, on the women's side, Virginia Wade in 1977).

...oh, the Clement/Schuettler QF match didn't finish and was suspended with each with having won a set. Not that too many people were paying attention to that one, considering ESPN decided it wasn't even worth showing at all when it was the only match still taking place... even though both are former grand slam finalists (and not in any bizarro universe, either).

...quite a few women are still alive in both the Women's Doubles as well as the Mixed: Cara Black (SF & QF), Liezel Huber (both SF), Samantha Stosur (SF & QF) and Nathalie Dechy (SF & QF) are maintaining hopes of a rare sweep, even though the Williams sisters will likely have something to say about that.

Of course, Casey Dellacqua, fresh off reaching the Roland Garros final as part of an unseeded team with Francesca Schiavone, is alive in the Wimbledon SF as part of an unseeded team with Dechy. This Wimbledon's "Doubles Star" would probably be awarded to a woman who'd reach the finals of both the Women's and Mixed, but Dellacqua could steal it, too. (So could the Raymond/Stosur team, finally healthy and making a slam run after a long dry spell.)

As far as the men, both Bryan brothers (both SF & QF) and Kevin Ullyett (SF & QF) remain in both doubles draws, as well.

Also, now is the time to bow our heads at the final exit of Bethanie Mattek from this tournament. She and Sania Mirza lost to the Williams sisters today in the Doubles QF. Without the need to shock, she actually made a mark on this tournament in ways that had nothing to do with her "fashion." Now it's onto the road to New York, and let's see if she can continue to win there. junior action, quite the opposite from the main draw, two British girls (Naomi Brody and Laura Robson) have reached the quarterfinals. Great Britain is the only country with two girls in the QF (hmm, that could be the recipe for a "Junior Breakout" award). The remaining six slots in the QF are filled by NextGen youngsters from nations that already have/had WTA stars in recent seasons:

BELGIUM: Tamaryn Hendler (not Henin or Clijsters)
NETHERLANDS: Arantxa Rus (not Krajicek)
SERBIA: Bojana Jovanovski (not Ivanovic or Jankovic)
SLOVAKIA: Romana Tabakova (not Hantuchova)
SLOVENIA: Polona Hercog (not Srebotnik)
THAILAND: Noppawan Lertcheewakarn (not Tanasugarn)

Some wins of note today: Hendler defeated Australia's Jessica Moore, while Lertcheewakarn defeated Moore's countrywoman Tyra Calderwood. Naomi Brody took out Austrian Nikola Hofmanova.

Meanwhile, three Aussies remain in the Boys quarterfinals: Oz Junior champ Bernard Tomic, Dane Propoggia and Andrew Thomas. Thomas defeated #2-seeded Yang Tsung-Hua, who won the RG junior title and was RU in Australia.

...and, finally, Part II of the Wimbledon '90 "Time Capsule" will be posted before the recap of the women's singles SF scheduled for Day Ten. Before Roger-vs.-Rafa threatened to string together a trilogy of finals at SW19, Boris-vs.-Stefan actually managed to pull it off.

Of course, who knows if either of those Williams-centric matches will take place tomorrow, what with the weather possibly having a say in things. Yep, that won't be happening next year, either.

(WC)Zheng/CHN vs. #6 S.Williams/USA
#5 Dementieva/RUS vs. #7 V.Williams/USA

#1 Federer/SUI vs. Safin/RUS
#2 Nadal/ESP vs. Clement/FRA or Schuettler/GER

#1 Black/Huber (ZIM/USA) vs. #16 Raymond/Stosur (USA/AUS)
#11 Williams/Williams (USA/USA) vs. Dechy/Dellacqua (FRA/AUS)

#1 Bryan/Bryan (USA/USA) vs. #8 Bjorkman/Ullyett (SWE/ZIM)
#9 Dlouhy/Paes (CZE/IND) vs. #2 Nestor/Zimonjic (CAN/SRB)

#1 Srebotnik/M.Bryan (SLO/USA) vs. #5 Sugiyama/Ullyett (JPN/ZIM)
#3 Peschke/Vizner (CZE/CZE) vs. Kirilenko/Andreev (RUS/RUS)
#9 Dechy/Ram (FRA/ISR) vs. Stosur/B.Bryan (AUS/USA)
#12 Huber/J.Murray (USA/GBR) def. #2 Chuang/Nestor (TPE/CAN)

Laura Robson/GBR vs. #9 Bojana Jovanovski/SRB
Romana Tabakova/SVK vs. #5 Polona Hercog/SLO
Naomi Brody/GBR vs. #3 Noppawan Lertcheewakarn/THA
Tamaryn Hendler/BEL vs. #2 Arantxa Rus/NED

#1 Bernard Tomic/AUS vs. #6 Henrique Cunha/BRA
Henri Kontinen/FIN vs. Dane Propoggia/AUS
#9 Grigor Dmitrov/BUL vs. #3 Cesar Ramirez/MEX
Filip Krajinovic/SRB vs. Andrew Thomas/AUS

[of 24]
6...Serbia (4 women/2 men)
5...Russia (4 women/1 man)
3...Spain (3 men)
3...Switzerland (3 men)
2..France (2 men)
2...United States (2 women)
1...China (1 woman)
1...Slovakia (1 woman)
ALSO: winner of Clement/FRA vs. Schuettler/GER QF

[Girls + Boys]
3...Australia (Propoggia - Thomas - Tomic)
2...Great Britain (Brody - Robson)
2...Serbia (Jovanovski - Krajinovic)
1...Belgium (Hendler)
1...Brazil (Cunha)
1...Bulgaria (Dmitrov)
1...Finland (Kontinen)
1...Mexico (Ramirez)
1...Netherlands (Rus)
1...Slovakia (Tabakova)
1...Slovenia (Hercog)
1...Thailand (Lertcheewakarn)

TOP QUALIFIERS: Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez/ESP & Eva Hrdinova/CZE
TOP EARLY ROUND (1r-2r): Serena Williams/USA
TOP EARLY RD. MATCH (1r-2r): 2nd Rd.- Ivanovic d. Dechy 6-7/7-6/10-8 (down 2 MP)
TOP MIDDLE-RD. MATCH (3r-QF): 3rd Rd. - Peer d. Safina 7-5/6-7/8-6 (3:;25)
FIRST SEED OUT: #30 Dominika Cibulkova/SVK (1st Rd.-lost to Zheng)
UPSET QUEENS: The Russians
LAST QUALIFIERS STANDING: Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez/ESP, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova/RUS & Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova/CZE (all to 3rd Rd.)
IT GIRL: Agnieszka Radwanska/POL
COMEBACK PLAYER: Tamarine Tanasugarn/THA
CRASH & BURN: Maria Sharapova/RUS (lost 2nd Rd. to Kudryavtseva)
ZOMBIE QUEEN: Nicole Vaidisova, CZE (point from being down 6-3/0-6/0-4 to Stosur in 2nd Rd.)
LAST BRITS STANDING: Anne Keothavong & Elena Baltacha, GBR (both to 2nd Rd.)

All for Day 9. More tomorrow.


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