Monday, May 24, 2010

RG.2- A Quantum Precursor, Pt.1

With the latest Big Bang scheduled to take place in Paris eight matches from Day 2, it was Serena Williams' task to take her turn in the decidedly unscientific arena known as Court Phillipe Chatrier.

Throughout the 1st set, Williams seemed to be trying to multitask like crazy. She was trying to figure out which racket she should use, and what was wrong with the one she was using. She was attempting to determine just how much energy she was going to need to exert in order to complete her scheduled work and still be able to come back later in the day, or tomorrow, for some brainstorming sessions with her favorite lab parter (and sister) on the Roland Garros practice courts. Call it the "AntiRafa Postulate," where operating at three-quarter speed is twice as good as running the machinery at full blast, producing less wear and tear on the equipment. Oh, and Serena was trying to put away young Swiss Miss Stefanie Voegele in the 1st Round, too.

Oh, yeah. That.

As it turned out, it was taking a little more effort than Williams expected. Of course, what do you expect when you're trying to compute a True Grand Slam theory with one side of your brain, while trying to make sure all the beakers that will be necessary to perform the experiment are in working order with other. The first break point of the match didn't come until the twelfth game of the opening set... and it was Voegele who held the near-advantage, not Serena.

Not that it mattered.

Once the set reached the tie-break stage, Dr. Williams took control of the proceedings, the previously-shiny Swiss turned into a newbie lab assistant. Serena quickly led 3-0. Then 4-1. While Voegele produced just three unforced errors in the first twelve games of the set, she made three in the tie-break alone (includiing one double-fault). A Williams ace gave her a set point, then a service winner put it away. She was more than ready to lock down the work room for the day, so it was only a matter of time before the microscopes were covered and the lights turned off.

Final score: Williams 7-6(2)/6-2. She's now 42-0 in slam 1st Rounds in her career. Apparently, when one CAN multitask on an afternoon in Paris, one does just that.

One match down, seven to go. Zero Time is approaching. At least that's the theory.

Tomorrow, the Big Bang Accelerator revs up again as Justine Henin hits the court in Paris for the first time since 2007, sporting a gaudy 35-set Roland Garros winning streak and with a tennis bag-full of questions and answers to address.

...meanwhile, after stumbling through their recent tune-up events, both Caroline Wozniacki and Elena Dementieva followed the Day 1 pattern of dumping conventional wisdom on its ear in Paris. C-Woz slipped past Alla Kudryavtseva love & two, while Dementieva hammered Petra Martic one & one.

Later in the day, though, Warsaw champ Alexandra Dulgheru went against the early-round trend. In other words, she maintained her momentum and won. But it wasn't easy, as it took three sets for the Romanian to take down Lucie Hradecka 7-6/4-6/6-3. Also, Melanie Oudin's slippage in results this clay season continued, too. After taking a 5-4 lead on the resurgent-in-Strasbourg Anabel Medina-Garrigues, the Spanish vet broke her at love and then ran away with the rest of the match, winning 7-5/6-2.

Well, well. Has the "reverse-trend" finally been tamed? Those results and the fact that no women's seed lost today speak well for the notion.

...for a while there, I thought my pick of Li Na to reach the final had put a hex on her, as teen Pastry Kristina Mladenovic fought her tooth-and-colored-nail throughout the 1st set. Li eventually won 7-5/6-3.

One qualifier (Sophie Ferguson) and one wild card (Stephanie Cohen Aloro) advanced on Day 2.

Richard Gasquet can't say the same, though. For the second time in a slam in their career head-to-head hsitory, after taking a two sets to none lead on Andy Murray, the Frenchman saw the Scot hold on and wear him down in the end, winning 4-6/6-7/6-4/6-2/6-1 in a match that lasted over four hours. Ah, more time for the perpetually underachieving Gasquet to hit the nightclubs in Paris. Cocaine kisses and croissant dreams for all!

...hmm, why all the uproar over Venus' "nude illusion" outfit on Sunday? Uh, didn't we already have the discussion about such faux "shock," but legitimate designing awe, when she essentially wore her other "illusion wear" design in Melbourne? The corset-inspired pierce was unique, and nearly as winning as she's been this year. I just don't get the "controversy."

As long as I'm on the fashion beat, though, I should mention that the yellow/gold-colored tennis dress that Jelena Jankovic wore during her match with Alicia Molik today was quite striking, especially when she stepped into the sunlight. With a 6-0/6-4 win over the Aussie, JJ has now put up four bagel sets against opponents in her last eight matches. Not only that, but after this match was moved from Lenglen due to the length of the Murray/Gasquet match, Jankovic didn't have a chaotic time locating the new site -- Court 2 -- while lamenting the lack of a helicoper to get her there. All in all, it was a pretty picture perfect day for QC. The other day, she said she felt like a butterfly on the court. Indeed.

Hopefully no one will find a net big enough to hold her until she at least reaches the semifinals.

...and, finally, a grand slam is underway, so why not complain a little about ESPN? Watching Tennis Channel coverage with a constant score ticker -- showing TENNIS results -- going on at the bottom of the screen is exactly how a sports network should cover a slam, at least in the early rounds when more than a dozen matches are taking place at the same time. Of course, that wasn't a problem on ESPN2 today, since the network provided no live coverage (?????), but on Sunday it was like squeezing blood from a lava rock (or, to get a "Lost" finale reference in at the last moment, should I say it was like squeezing blood from the Man in Black/unLocke before Desmond pulled that rock/cork thing out of the hole where the light under the island originated and suddenly made his human again?) to actually see some up-to-date scores being referenced. All the ESPN networks already run a constant scores/news ticker at the bottom of the screen. Would it be such a big deal to replace it during ESPN2's early-round slam coverage with a tennis one? Yeah, I know. Simple questions like that always tend to elicit stupid answers. Oh, well. At least Jack was finally ready to move on into heaven... or wherever... with everyone else sometime in the future... or whenever, right?

*ALL-TIME RG WOMEN'S TITLES - 1925-present*
7...Chris Evert
6...Steffi Graf
6...Suzanne Lenglen
5...Margaret Smith-Court
5...Adine Mason
4...Katie Gilou Fenwick
4...Jeanne Matthey
4...Helen Wills-Moody

TOP EARLY ROUND (1r-2r): xxx
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q3: Kurumi Nara/JPN d. Monica Niculescu/ROU 4-6/7-6/10-8
TOP EARLY RD. MATCH (1r-2r): xxx
FIRST WIN: Dominika Cibulkova/SVK (1st Rd./def. Ekaterina Ivanova/RUS)
FIRST SEED OUT: #10 Victoria Azarenka/BLR (1st Rd./lost to Dulko/ARG)
IT GIRL: xxx

All for Day 2. More tomorrow.


Blogger jo shum said...

so just when we saw day 2 being a bit 'boring', day 3 offers a bit more surprise as safina fell to krumm. it's respectful of krumm to play through injured calf, and it's torturing (yes torturing) to see safina just crumbled under her own mental demons. the channel didn't show the whole match until last set when krumm climbed back to level, and then eventually won. safina, with or without rust, she should have and could have won, but she was too scared about losing... sigh. i can see her falling down quickly the WTA tour and one has to wonder if she will climb back up again.

justine's performance, how to rate? overall not bad with more than 31 winners, and of course with aggression came with loads of errors too. her form and her game was there. her serve was not. i wonder if she is hurt again, saw the black tape on her forearm in the first 2 games, and then she took it off later. she still played better on big points, saving breakpoints at crucial time. the lapse of concentration was mysterious after leading 2-0 in 2nd set. but i did admire the way she put away 0-40 when trailing to come back on serve. not bad considering this is her first match at RG after 2 years. 2nd round could be tricky, she never get settled quickly enough to play someone new. but am quite happy she is through. :)

for the men, i notice for both murray (yesterday) and roddick (today), and that speaks the same for top players, clearly when they have the will and fighting spirit, they can weather the storms even if their performances are under par.

Tue May 25, 01:05:00 PM EDT  

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