Wednesday, September 02, 2009

US.3- Second Verse, (Almost the) Same as the First

Marion Bartoli entered Day 3 set to become the first player to get a second look at Kim Clijsters, version 2.0. She did, but did it change anything?

Bartoli was the Belgian's first opponent in KC II in Cincinnati last month, and the result wasn't pretty. Fresh off defeating Venus Williams in the Stanford final, Bartoli was tentative against Clijsters. Kim wasn't. Clijsters won twelve of the first fifteen points, and took the match 6-4/6-3.

So. Take Two.

This time, Bartoli got off to a quicker start. She served for the 1st set at 5-4, but was broken. She served for it again at 6-5, but wasn't a second time. With the Pastry going up a set at 7-5, the pressure shifted to Clijsters' side of the net. Had Bartoli gotten over any lingering discomfort about playing a former slam champ in a second go-around with nothing to lose? Had she learned from her mistakes, and was she ready to put an early end to a potential Open run that had people calling it the "story of the tournament" even before the tournament had started?

Uh, no.

Forced to bounce back, Clijsters did just that. She won 5-7/6-1/6-2, ending things with an ace on match point. In fact, the final two sets were more like what happened in Cincinnati. In their first meeting, Clijsters outdistanced Bartoli 28-5 in winners for the match. This time, after Bartoli held close (6-9) in the 49-minute 1st set, Clijsters blew her away by a 30-7 advantage in the final two sets in barely more than an hour.

Thus, the story continues, and Venus, looking more stable on her knee than two days ago (remember, she probably would have won Wimbledon even with her nagging knee tendonitis if she hadn't faced her sister in the final) might just be two rounds away.

I wonder if Justine will be watching, rubbing her chin and staring out the window with a determined look on her face?

...speaking of Henin, during ESPN2's coverage today, the topic of her return to training, and possible return to the tour, came up. John McEnroe said that an Henin comeback could become a reality because she's "annoyed that her countrywoman is back on the scene." Is that REALLY true? Who knows. Is Mac taking the same liberty I've been over the past week, thinking that Henin sees Clijsters raising her arms in victory and feels the embers starting to glow inside her gut? Maybe. Does your friendly neighborhood Backspinner HOPE it's the case? Oh, you bet... and not just because it'd be great to be able to roll out the red carpet again for Queen Justine, either.

If La Petit Taureau comes back, that "slate" I've been talking about of late might not be able to be kept totally and immaculately clean. I mean, the urge could be too great to resist. Hey, I found that whole "Us-vs.-Them" battle great fun, you know. Of course, I'd play it (fairly) by ear this time around... but if Tennis Channel calls her the "most popular player in the history of tennis" again my next move might be a fait accompli.

...Michelle Larcher de Brito was taken out of this U.S. Open by Li Na with a 6-1/6-3 scoreline today, but she DID get some attention early in Tennis Channel's coverage. Not surprisingly, of the approximate three minutes of conversation, about three seconds of it ("she's got game" consisted of all the brilliant insight into her potential) was about her actual game and the remaining 2:57 was about, well, you know what it was all about. Not a surprise, of course, but it did bring to mind how it'd be nice if youngsters such as the teenager from Portugal were talked about as players as they're coming up so that the first time many casual tennis watchers hear about them isn't in reference to how much noise they make on the court, what they wear, who they're dating, how often they cry when they're losing and how many rackets they break. Ah, in a perfect world.

Still, at least her name IS being mentioned. Because, you know that if she didn't challenge the auditory decorum during her matches she'd be as anonymous a presence in coverage as, say, the likes of Magdalena Rybarikova, who has actually won a tour title this season. Of course, the Slovak will next face Venus Williams in the 3rd Round, so some people will finally hear her name spoken during the next 48-hour period (maybe not with the correct pronounciation, but spoken nonetheless).

...who's the person you didn't want to be on Day 3? Well, there were a few. One was Sania Mirza. The Indian Princess was double-bageled by Flavia Pennetta. Another was Ameilie Mauresmo, who got off to a 4-3 (and nearly 5-3) start against Aleksandra Wozniak, but ended up losing 6-4/6-0 to suffer her earliest U.S. Open exit ever. Also, as I'll continue to note until she either breaks the pattern or retires, Anabel Medina-Garrigues lost to Kirsten Flipkens. Thus, the Spaniard will carry on with her quest to join Anna Smashnova as the only woman in WTA history to win ten or more singles titles but never reach a slam QF (she needs one more tour singles title to reach double-digits).

...#12 Agnieszka Radwanska would have been the highest women's seed to fall at this Open when she lost to Maria Kirilenko today, if not for #11 Ana Ivanovic's three-set (9-7 in the deciding tie-break, after holding a match point) defeat by Kateryna Bondarenko late last night. AnaIvo still hasn't advanced to another slam QF since she won Roland Garros last year, and ended up having a worse result at this year's Open than last year when, as the #1 seed, she was historically bounced by Julie Coin in the 2nd Round. A-Rad's loss means she and Urszula were a combined 1-2 at this tournament, losing the Battle of the Sisters to both the Williamses and Bondarenkos (all four are still alive).

...goodbye, Marat Safin and Fabrice Santoro. A little bit of the fun in the men's game goes with them, too.

...and, finally, the session schedule on Ashe for Night 3 includes Serena Williams vs. Melinda Czink, as well as Federer vs. Greul. Nothing against Czink, as the Hungarian can put up a good fight against top players on occasion, but this is once again a very lackluster, uncreative lineup. Vera Dushevina and Venus' knee at least gave Night 1 a little drama, but it looks like we've quickly gone from that opening contest to a consistent string of straight setters.

Thankfully, the draw gods might have blessed us with that Dementieva/Sharapova 3rd Round possibility, though it would probably prevent a Wozniacki/Cirstea showcase on the same evening (barring rain delays that throw the schedule into disarray). On the second day of 3rd Round matches, there's even the scheduling oddity of a Belgian vs. Belgian (Clijsters vs. Flipkens) Round of 32 meeting that would put-it KC under the lights for the first time since her '05 title, or even maybe a Serena vs. Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez rematch of the did-the-ball-hit-her-if-she-doesn't-admit stare down from this year's Roland Garros.

20-0...Pete Sampras
16-0...Martina Navratilova
14-0...Chris Evert
11-0...MARIA SHARAPOVA (1-0 in '09)
11-0...ROGER FEDERER (0-0 in '09)

TOP EARLY ROUND (1r-2r): xxx
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q3: Eva Hrdinova/CZE def. Laura Robson/GBR 7-6/4-6/7-6
TOP EARLY RD. MATCH (1r-2r): xxx
FIRST SEED OUT: #25 Kaia Kanepi/EST (1st Rd.-Chang/TPE)
FIRST WIN: (WC) Vania King/USA (def. Anastasiya Yakimova/BLR)
IT GIRL: xxx
ZOMBIE QUEEN: [Temporary: Venus Williams/USA down 7-6/3-1 vs. Vera Dushevina/RUS in 1st Rd.; Dinara Safina/RUS down 3-0 in 3rd set vs. Olivia Rogowska/AUS in 1st Rd.]

All for Day 3. More tomorrow or tonight.


Blogger Todd Spiker said...

The stream of straight sets night matches continued on Night 3, with Federer (in the first lead-off men's match in the Open's over two decades of nighttime tennis) and Serena wrapping things up before 11pm. So, I guess Mary Carillo was happy about the fans getting home early.

It looks it'll probably continue on Night 4, too. Sharapova makes her second night appearance of the tournament, against Christina McHale, while Roddick makes appearance #2 against Gicquel. I guess the straight sets string will be at seven matches after tonight.

Why, oh why, was the Dementieva/Oudin match not scheduled for tonight? Sharapova has already played, and Dementieva won the US Open Series and is considered a "co-favorite" to win the title. Oudin, like McHale, is a young American, and actually has a better chance to be competitive than McHale. All the ingredients were there. But Dementieva/Oudin is scheduled for 11am, with Sharapova/McHale eight hours later.

The draw can lead tournament officials to water, but it can't make them drink it, I suppose.

Thu Sep 03, 09:55:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was wondering about that too. Possibly a third night match for Sharapova on Saturday.

Thu Sep 03, 10:07:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

I know America and ESPN loves Sharapova, but sometimes better judgment needs to be used.

Best of both worlds IS Sharapova vs. Dementieva, though. If it's possible, at least that had BETTER be the Saturday night match.

Of course, watch the Dementieva/Oudin match be a blowout. Dementieva got off to a quick start last I checked.

Thu Sep 03, 11:50:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! Today is unbelievable and I can't believe what I've watched.

Shocking tennis.

Thu Sep 03, 05:41:00 PM EDT  

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