Monday, September 01, 2008

US 7.5- Opportunity Doesn't Knock Twice

In the blink of an eye, a player's potential fortunes can irreversibly change. Just ask Ernests Gulbis, who on Friday night found himself serving for a two sets to none lead over Andy Roddick one moment, only to find himself two sets to one down and on his way to defeat before he was able to catch his breath and realize what had just happened.

On Night Seven, Li Na felt the pain of her own lost opportunity.

Against Elena Dementieva, Li held a break point on the Russian's serve with a shot to even the 1st set at 5-5. She was practically served up a short ball on a silver platter in the middle of the court, which she took a big backhand swing at... and promptly pulled it wide.

Opportunity missed. She wouldn't get another.

Dementieva served out the set, then the match, 6-4/6-1. In the end, Li finished with three winners against twenty-eight unforced errors. That's just not going to get it done, but she'll always be left to wonder what might have happened had she given herself an honest chance to win by taking the gift that her opponent had presented her.

Meanwhile, Punch-Sober leads a contingent of six of the final eight from Beijing who are still alive at this U.S. Open (only Li and Vera Zvonareva aren't amongst the final twelve). With her serve finally serving her well (no pun intended), her still-improving game is finally allowing her to see just how far her great groundstrokes and movement, not to mention a healthy dose of Olympic-sized confidence, can REALLY take her.

In the nightcap, The Forgotten Man, #3-seed Novak Djokovic teamed up with Eli Manning... err, I mean Marin Cilic (though the resemblance IS uncanny) to produce the best-played night match of the tournament so far (more than making up for the Fish/Blake snoozer from Night Six).

In just under four hours, the Serb and Croat engaged in a battle that included one inspired hard-hitting, long rally after another. The lanky 19-year old Cilic actually had a few chances to put Djokovic into some holes that he might have had a hard time escaping without channeling the spirit of fellow Serb Jelena Jankovic, but on several occasions Cilic failed to back up a break by holding his own serve.

Djokovic finally started running downhill in the 4th set, but even then Cilic managed to break him when he served for the match at 5-4 and held two match points. In a deciding tie-break, Djokovic finally put the hammer down, winning 7-0 to take the match 6-7/7-5/6-4/7-6 to get off the court at just a few minutes before 1:00 a.m. Monday morning.

See, this is why he shouldn't have had to wait until Night Seven to play under the lights.

In a late-finishing Girls match from the day session, #1-seed Arantxa Rus was shockingly upset by yet another Hordette, Victoria Kamenskaya, 6-4/6-1. Rus won the Australian Open Girls title in January.

Tomorrow night, in a case of playing Russian Roulette scheduling without any actual Russians being involved, the paying customers will get what at this point could only be described as a warm-up act in the Serena Williams vs. Severine Bremond match. Seriously, what's the over/under on how many games Bremond will get in this match? Two? One?

What's the deal, anyway? How could the Venus vs. A-Rad match have slipped through the primetime cracks?

Thankfully, Andy Murray gets the nighttime treatment in the main event against Stanislas Wawrinka. With the Scotsman's recent penchant for coming back to win from two sets down, this one might actually make up for the early match. Almost.

3...USA (Fish-Querrey-Roddick)
2...Russia (Andreev-Davydenko)
2...Spain (Nadal-Robredo)
2...Switzerland (Federer-Wawrinka)
1...Argentina (del Potro)
1...Chile (Gonzalez)
1...France (Monfils)
1...Great Britain (Murray)
1..Japan (Nishikori)
1...Luxembourg (Muller)
1...Serbia (Djokovic)

#1 Rafael Nadal vs. Sam Querrey
Mardy Fish vs. #32 Gael Monfils
Kei Nishikori vs. #17 Juan Martin del Potro
#10 Stanislas Wawrinka vs. #6 Andy Murray
#8 Andy Roddick vs. #11 Fernando Gonzalez
#15 Tommy Robredo vs. #3 Novak Djokovic
#5 Nikolay Davydenko vs. (Q) Gilles Muller
#23 Igor Andreev vs. #2 Roger Federer

All for Day 7.5. More tomorrow.


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