Thursday, September 04, 2008

US 11- Mid-Round Musings

With the semifinals set, it's obvious that the middle rounds were all about Russians and Williamses... oh, and a certain chaos-loving Serb.

TOP PLAYER: Serena Williams/USA
...yep, she definitely has that "look" right now. (RU: Elena Dementieva/RUS)
RISER: Dinara Safina/RUS
...her moment of truth has arrived. (RU: Jelena Jankovic/SRB)
SURPRISE: Sybille Bammer/AUT old Tina should be proud of her mom for reaching her first career slam QF. (RU: Raquel Kops-Jones/Abigail Spears, USA/USA)
VETERANS: Cara Black/ZIM & Liezel Huber/USA
...both individually, and in combination. (RU: Flavia Pennetta/ITA)
FRESH FACES Madison Brengle/USA & Melanie Oudin/USA
...soon to be the next-great-hopes? (RU: Coco Vandeweghe/USA & Gail Brodsky/USA)
DOWN: Svetlana Kuznetsova/USA
...2004 seems like a lifetime ago. (RU: Arantxa Rus/NED)
COMEBACK: Anna-Lena Groenefeld/GER
...welcome back, ALG... err, I mean 'Last Qualifier Standing.". (RU: Lisa Raymond/Samantha Stosur, USA/AUS)

...after all this time, the sisters seem to have finally figured out how to put their love aside and play each other on the court as opponents. They're three-for-three in compelling matchups in 2008, with a combined three tie-breaks (plus a 7-5 set) and one match overcome after being down match point (Serena's win in Bangalore) -- a first in the now-seventeen match series.

WHERE'S MOMMY?: It took Sybille Bammer three hours and five minutes to put away Marion Bartoli in the 4th Round. It was the longest women's match in U.S. Open history.
DOES SAFINA'S COACH GET AN EXTRA PAYCHECK?: After he talked her down after she complained of exhaustion before her 4th Round match against Anna-Lena Groenefeld, maybe he should add "sports psychologist" to his title.
DIDN'T YOU USED TO BE...?: Svetlana Kuznetsova? Yeah, everyone likes her and all, but at some point she's got to start living up to the talent, right? Since she won the Open in '04, she's had one runner-up in Flushing... but also 1st Round, 3rd Round and 4th Round exits.
ALWAYS THE ZOMBIE QUEEN, NEVER THE BRIDE: Sure, she spent 7:36 on the court during her first four matches, but Jelena Jankovic is still alive and kicking... and having weird mental lapses occur with not only her opponents, but also the chair umpire. She couldn't actually walk the tightrope a little while longer in one of the wildest title-runs in slam memory... could she?

AND FINALLY...: Serena Williams is looking more and more like she'll have the last word in the women's competition, one way or another. If she takes her ninth slam title, she'll reclaim the #1-ranking for the first time since 2003, becoming the fifth different player to hold the spot this season (a new WTA record). She's already reached her first U.S. Open SF since 2002... so the trends are in her favor.

In the only Main Draw singles match in the Day Session, Roger Federer won a tight, but mercifully three-set QF over qualifier Gilles Muller, 7-6/6-4/7-5. He'll face the winner of tonight's Djokovic/Roddick match.

...AWARDS UPDATE: with Cara Black & Leander Paes becoming the first champions crowned today, winning the Mixed doubles final over Liezel Huber & Jamie Murray, Black earns the "Doubles Star" award. Black & Huber have yet to play their Doubles SF against Anabel Medina-Garrigues & Virginia Ruano-Pascual, with Lisa Raymond & Samantha Stosur awaiting the winner in the final. juniors 3rd Round action, the American girls continue to make their presence known. Coco Vandeweghe dumped Katarzyna Piter, while Melanie Oudin (over Asia Muhammad) and Madison Brengle (Christina McHale) notched wins over fellow Americans to reach the QF. Brengle will face off with Oudin in the next round in a match that will surely generate a good bit of interest at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center... especially for a Girls quarterfinal.

Four of the final eight in the Girls draw are Americans, and three Americans remain in the Boys competition. While the U.S. has seven in the combined Final 16, no other country has more than one. Maybe this group of youngsters really ARE going to amount to something.

13...Venus Williams (7-6)
7...Lindsay Davenport (3-4)
4...Maria Sharapova (3-1)
3...Ana Ivanovic (1-2)
3...Svetlana Kuznetsova (1-2)
1...Marion Bartoli (0-1)
ALSO: Mary Pierce (2-4)


7...United States (Brengle, Britton, Brodsky, Buchanan, Oudin, Vandeweghe. Williams)
1...Belgium (Hendler)
1...Bulgaria (Dimitrov)
1...Germany (Stebe)
1...Finland (Kontinen)
1...France (Mladenovic)
1...Romania (E.Bogdan)
1...Serbia (Krajinovic)
1...Taiwan (Yang)
1...Venezuela (Paz Franco)

AO: Yan Zi/Zheng Jie, CHN
RG: Lisa Raymond/Samantha Stosur, USA/AUS
WI: Yan Zi/Zheng Jie, CHN
US: Martina Navratilova, USA
AO: Liezel Huber, RSA
RG: Katarina Srebotnik, SLO
WI: Cara Black, ZIM
US: Nathalie Dechy, FRA
AO: Alona Bondarenko/Kateryna Bondarenko, UKR
RG: Anabel Medina-Garrigues/Virginia Ruano-Pascual, ESP
WI: Samantha Stosur, AUS
US: Cara Black, ZIM

AO: Casey Dellacqua, AUS (4th Rd.)
RG: Alize Cornet & Emilie Loit, FRA (3rd Rd.)
WI: Anne Keothavong & Elena Baltacha, GBR (2nd Rd.)
US: Serena Williams, USA (in SF)

AO: Chris O'Neil, 1978
RG: Mary Pierce, 2000
WI: Virginia Wade, 1977
US: Serena Williams, 2002
AO: Mark Edmondson, 1976
RG: Yannick Noah, 1983
WI: Fred Perry, 1936
US: Andy Roddick, 2003

#4 S.Williams def. #6 Safina in 2
...Safina has to hit the wall sometime this summer, and the odds are that it'll probably be here. Even so, don't expect it to be easy for Williams. Safina beat Serena earlier this year. But that was on clay in Berlin, before Serena lost at Wimbledon and got that eye of the tigress. As good as The Russian Cat has been, if Serena is "Serena" she should bully her way through since it'd be hard to see her having a letdown after defeating Venus since lasting longer than her sister was never her ultimate goal coming into New York.

#5 Dementieva def. #2 Jankovic in 3
...truthfully, you could never put anything past either of these two. They're both great movers, while Dementieva might actually have the more effective serve (bite my tongue) if her nerves don't throw off her toss and the rest of her motion goes with it. Jankovic is more of a defensive player, while Dementieva's groundstrokes allow her to be more offensive on a point-by-point basis. Hmmm, this could be good. If their nerves get the best of them, this could be the most rollercoaster match you'll ever see in your life. If they don't, it could be great. Going against the "Jankovic gravitational pull theory," I'll give Dementieva the slight edge.

#6 Dinara Safina/RUS vs. #4 Serena Williams/USA
#5 Elena Dementieva/RUS vs. #2 Jelena Jankovic/SRB

#1 Rafael Nadal/ESP vs. #6 Andy Murray/GBR
#8 Andy Roddick/USA or #3 Novak Djokovic/SRB vs. #2 Roger Federer/SUI

#1 Black/Huber (ZIM/USA) or #5 Medina-Garrigues/Ruano-Pascual (ESP/ESP) vs. #10 Raymond/Stosur (USA/AUS)

#7 Dlouhy/Paes (CZE/IND) vs. #2 Bryan/Bryan (USA/USA)

#5 Black/Paes (ZIM/IND) def. Huber/J.Murray (USA/GBR) 7-6/6-4

Gail Brodsky/USA vs. #12 Kristina Mladenovic/FRA
Coco Vandeweghe/USA vs. #11 Tamaryn Hendler/BEL
#5 Elena Bogdan/ROU vs. Gabriela Paz Franco/VEN
Madison Brengle/USA vs. #2 Melanie Oudin/USA

#1 Yang Tsung-Hua/TPE vs Rhyne Williams/USA
#3 Grigor Dimitrov/BUL vs. Chase Buchanan/USA
Filip Krajinovic/SRB vs. #4 Henri Kontinen/FIN
#11 Cedrik-Marcel Stebe/GER vs. Devin Britton/USA

Mallory Burdette/Sloane Stephens (USA/USA) vs. #5 Richel Hogenkamp/Arantxa Rus (NED/NED)
#3 Noppawan Lertcheewakarn/Sandra Roma (THA/SWE) vs. Beatrice Gumulya/Jessy Rompies (INA/INA)

#6 Peerakit Siributwong/Kittipong Wachiramanowong (THA/THA) vs. Nikolaus Moser/Cedrik-Marcel Stebe (AUT/GER)
Marcelo Arevalo/Alex Llompart (ESA/PUR) vs. #2 Henri Kontinen/Christopher Rungkat (FIN/INA)

TOP QUALIFIERS: Yaroslava Shvedova/KAZ & Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova/CZE
TOP EARLY ROUND (1r-2r): Venus Williams/USA
TOP MIDDLE-ROUND (3r-QF): Serena Williams/USA
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q3: #15 Olaru/ROU def. #22 Larcher de Brito/POR 6-2/6-3
TOP EARLY RD. MATCH (1r-2r): 2nd Rd. - #2 Jankovic/SRB def. Arvidsson/SWE 6-3/6-7/7-5
TOP MIDDLE-RD. MATCH (3r-QF): QF - #4 S.Williams/USA def. #7 V.Williams/USA 7-6/7-6
FIRST SEED OUT: #24 Shahar Peer/ISR (1st Rd.-Li Na)
LAST QUALIFIER STANDING: Anna-Lena Groenefeld/GER (4th Rd.)
IT GIRL: xxx
COMEBACK PLAYER: Anna-Lena Groenefeld/GER
CRASH & BURN: #1 Ana Ivanovic/SRB (lost 2nd Rd to #188 Coin)
ZOMBIE QUEEN: Jelena Jankovic/SRB (7:36 on court in first four matches)

All for Day 11. More tomorrow.


Blogger mjgrace22 said...

Todd, no mention about Molik's retirement?

Thu Sep 04, 11:27:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Ah, I hadn't seen anything about that when I posted this (or maybe it hadn't been announced yet, I'm not sure on the timing). That's really too bad. But, unfortunately, I guess you could see this coming for a while now.

The Steamer had so much promise a while back, too. It just goes to show how fleeting an athletic career can be. Right when she was just beginning to reach her peak, the beginning of the end was just about to start.

Oh, and on an entirely different subject altogether, since I'm posting a comment here I'll say it now rather than tomorrow. The fans at Ashe tonight should be ashamed of themselves for booing Djokovic for saying absolutely nothing that he didn't have every right to say about Roddick's snide (or "joking," if Roddick is to be believed -- though I doubt if he would like it, either, if an opponent essentially accused him of faking injuries right before they played a big match) comments about him having "16 injuries" the other day. Roddick has had a bit of a smartass mouth for a while now, but he rarely gets called out on it by American commentators because he's the only U.S. men's player who has even a flicker of a chance of winning a slam title. He gives a good interview, so anything he says is always whitewashed.

Kudos for Djokovic for finally saying something about it, and maybe making Roddick think twice about providing extra emotional ammunition for a player who's already better than he is in the first place.

All right, I'm finished now. :)

Thu Sep 04, 11:54:00 PM EDT  
Blogger mjgrace22 said...

I feel so bad about how Molik's career ended. So much talent, so many injuries! And that weird ear infection was the one that really did her in. What is it with the Australian girls getting weird viruses? First it was Molik, and then it's Stosur. I'm glad Stosur is back on track, in doubles at least.

I'm not going to touch on the whole Andy-Nole bruhaha since I didn't see the match (I'm on the other side of the world and I had to go to work!). But Djokovic has been getting under my skin since Australia... He's sort of become a djerk since winning AO.

Fri Sep 05, 03:21:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Well, Djokovic has always had a bit of that in him, or at least the potential of coming off as a "djerk" (good one). :) But I've always liked that... it's probably why I defended Henin when she bumped up against the rules and did things that caused people to attack her sportsmanship. For every "good guy" you need someone to wear a black hat, too.

Djokovic is just so intense sometimes, I think, that his emotional outbursts look mean-spirited and confrontational. Apparently, he apologized for what he said afterward, and he and Roddick essentially "talked it over" and are fine now. But Djokovic sort of had to do that -- he still has the play Federer on the same court on Saturday, after all. But, knowing him, I don't think he'll forget Roddick's insinuations. Plus, you can make a case that Roddick's concerning himself with Djokovic's maladies was more distracting for HIM... something caused his concentration to wane and his serve to go off at bad times.

Fri Sep 05, 09:21:00 AM EDT  
Blogger On the Baseline said...

Todd, thanks to the link to OTB! We appreciate it!


Fri Sep 05, 10:42:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

While I agree that the fans were too hard on Djokovic, I also agree with Roddick when he says that a man who stands before thousands and sends up other players ought to be able to take some jokes directed at him. And Djokovic did open the door when he said--after his quarterfinal--that his opponent would be fitter. He certainly got under Sean Randall's skin:

Fri Sep 05, 01:20:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Well, Diane, one thing I would note about what Djokovic did a year ago is that he was simply imitating what several players do on every point, at the urging of Michael Barkann during the on-court interview. Maria Sharapova was secure enough not to have any problem with what he did, as I recall. Hmmm, I can't remember. Did he imitate Roddick, too? If so, there could be a seed of something there.

What Roddick did, whether sarcastically or not, was question Djokovic's veracity and call out his sportsmanship. Which is fine, if he wishes to do so. I just think that both Roddick and those fans should expect another player to hit back hard, or harder, if he feels he's been insulted... and not be booed for it. I guess a good case can be made that both were doing their best to engage in a little psychological warfare. And considering how friendly of rivals that Nadal and Federer are, some minor verbal spats between other players is good for the tennis business.

Oh, and I'd say that Djokovic's play the other night pretty much provided at least some of the answers that Sean Randall was talking about. Maybe a few TOO many, actually. :)

Fri Sep 05, 02:33:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

I hear you, and I think Djokovic had a perfect right to say what he said; Roddick can be very irritating. His mistake, I think, was to assume that all Americans in the stands thought he was faking just because Roddick said something. He came off as being defensive, rather than justified.

Of course, there is also a wider context: In his earlier days of pro play, Djokovic was considered weak at best, and a faker at worst. I think those early accusations are still in his head. Even Federer has complained about him. And in the quarterfinal, Robredo complained about all the medical breaks, which Djokovic (incorrectly) interpreted as an accusation of faking.

Fri Sep 05, 10:20:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Yeah, he could have turned it around the other way just by saying something to the crowd like, "Some people say I was faking. But you guys don't think I was faking... do you??

Delivered the right way, he might have actually gotten a laugh, and the whole controversy would never have happened.

Fri Sep 05, 11:46:00 PM EDT  

Post a Comment

<< Home