Saturday, September 06, 2008

US 13- How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop?

Or, in tennis terms, how many months does it take for Roger Federer to shake off his early-season bout with mono and begin to resemble -- most of the time, anyway -- the player who was seemingly a slam win or two away from being unquestionably dubbed "The Greatest of All Time" at this time last year?

Well, it looks like it could be a little over eight months.

Playing in his eighteenth consecutive grand slam semifinal, Roger Federer drew the opening match straw for his meeting with Novak Djokovic on Day Thirteen... which proved to be unlucky for every other player and fan on the grounds, thanks to Hurricane Hanna.

With an 11am start, Federer managed to glide past his Serbian opponent after Djokovic led 5-4 in the 3rd set and looked to be ready to take a two sets to one lead. With the crowd on his side, Federer pulled off a break of serve and ended up winning the set 7-5. He cruised through a 6-2 4th to win his thirty-third straight U.S. Open match and advance to his third slam final in 2008, and thirteenth in the last fourteen slams.

Not bad for an "off" year.

Who he'll play in an attempt to win his fifth straight Open title won't be determined until Sunday thanks to the rain that struck in the 3rd set of the Rafael Nadal/Andy Murray match. What Federer DOES know, though, is that he'll have a day of rest tomorrow, as the Men's final won't be played until Monday afternoon.

There have been signs over the past few rounds that indicate that Federer might be slowly but surely regaining the form and consistency that characterized his last four seasons, but has been often been absent this year. Oh, he's hardly been as perfect as the "old" Federer, but he's closer. A little. If he can do it for one more match, he can "rescue" his '08 season with a slam and get within one of Pete Sampras' all-time record of fourteen. About eight months later than he likely expected, but so be it.

Maybe more intriguingly, though, a championship victory could see Federer give his confidence level a long-overdue boost, and possibly propel him into a more Federer-esque 4th Quarter of the season... then prepare himself for something of a "comeback" campaign in 2009.

Haha. It says something about Federer's 2004-07 seasons that he could be even seen as having the ability to put together a "comeback" following a season in which he could win a slam and finish #2 in the rankings.

You know, it would have been nice to know exactly how the final game of the Federer/Djokovic match played out today, but the local Washington D.C. CBS affiliate (WUSA-TV) chose the commercial break at 5-2 in the 4th to have a special weather update to tell everyone that - in case anyone who'd been drenched over the previous ten hours or so didn't know it yet -- it was raining outside. The radar showed it to be so. And I was soooo sure that it wouldn't, and that soaking I'd received when I went outside a few hours before was only a figment of my imagination. Apparently not.

Anyway, the channel decided to go back to the match just as Federer was shaking Djokovic's hand at the net. I guess he won the game. I mean, unless that was a figment of my imagination, too. the second men's SF, Andy Murray took a two sets to none lead over Rafael Nadal. In the 3rd, Nadal was holding a break lead at 3-2 when the rains came and the rest of the day's schedule was cancelled. It's either a dream or a nightmare scenario for both players.

It'll be tough for Nadal to come back with no margin of error when play resumes Sunday afternoon, but he'll have a whole night and morning to refresh himself and get tactical advice from uncle Toni. As for Murray, well, he seemed on his way to his first slam final. Now, he'll have almost twenty-four hours to think about it. With only two and a half sets possible on Sunday, Nadal won't have any physical/fitness advantage in a five-set match now, but one wonders if Mother Nature might have created some real doubt about what could have been (and still could be) the greatest moment in Murray's career to date.

...of course, Queen Chaos and her Williams sister opponent will have to wait an extra day to play the women's final. They'll now go on Sunday night.

Hmmm... an odd occurrence with a match featuring Jelena Jankovic? No! Say it ain't so.

Of course, maybe this is all a figment of my imagination, too. Maybe this entire Backspin is a figment of my imagination. Maybe that little leprechaun in the corner is a figment of-...

LATE UPDATE: Apparently, the junior semifinals were played today, but you'd have a hard time figuring that out by looking at the actual Saturday schedule/results and draws on the U.S. Open website (as of 9pm Saturday night, East Coast time). But there the final matchups are... right on Sunday's schedule.

So, today Coco Vandeweghe defeated Kristina Mladenovic and Gabriela Paz Franco knocked off Melanie Oudin, meaning two unseeded girls will meet for the title. American Devin Britton will face off against Grigor Dimitrov in the Boys final.

Crazy leprechauns.

#4 Serena Williams/USA vs. #2 Jelena Jankovic/SRB

#1 Rafael Nadal/ESP or #6 Andy Murray/GBR vs. #2 Roger Federer/SUI

#1 Black/Huber (ZIM/USA) vs. #10 Raymond/Stosur (USA/AUS)

#2 Bryan/Bryan (USA/USA) def. #7 Dlouhy/Paes (CZE/IND) 7-6/7-6

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

Coco Vandeweghe/USA vs. Gabriela Paz Franco/VEN

#3 Grigor Dimitrov/BUL vs. Devin Britton/USA

#3 Noppawan Lertcheewakarn/Sandra Roma (THA/SWE) def. Mallory Burdette/Sloane Stephens (USA/USA) 6-0/6-2

Nikolaus Moser/Cedrik-Marcel Stebe (AUT/GER) def. #2 Henri Kontinen/Christopher Rungkat (FIN/INA) 7-6/3-6/10-8

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
MS. OPPORTUNITY: Jelena Jankovic/SRB
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 13. More tomorrow.


Blogger leia said...

I hate that because of the weather all the matches have been moved. Since I'm halfway round the world - with a 12-hour time difference - I'll be at work for the JJ-Serena match. Major Bummer. I'm hoping Balls Channel will replay the match.

Sun Sep 07, 01:52:00 AM EDT  
Blogger mjgrace22 said...

leia, you're also from the philippines? do you know what time the replay is? please tell me if you do :)

Mon Sep 08, 07:58:00 AM EDT  
Blogger leia said...

Oh no. I'm so sorry I just logged in. It was just tonight at 9pm.

Mon Sep 08, 12:28:00 PM EDT  
Blogger mjgrace22 said...

It's ok leia, I caught the replay :)

Mon Sep 08, 10:18:00 PM EDT  

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