Thursday, May 27, 2010

RG.5- I Won't Blame It On the Rain (yes, I'm actually resorting to referencing a Milli Vanilli tune)

Rain, rain. It didn't seem to want to go away, and it ended up delaying or suspending nine women's 2nd Round matches for another day.

But that doesn't mean that I have to get behind, too. Onward Backspinning Soldier, I say.

Thus, I'm going to do the Early-Round Awards anyway. Nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah. I'll just count the remaining 2nd Round matches in the "Middle-Round" Awards a few days from now.

=EARLY ROUND AWARDS - 1st/2nd Rounds (Days 1-5)=
TOP PLAYER: Venus Williams/USA
...she's made the most headlines. Oh, and she's played pretty well, too. (RU: Elena Dementieva/RUS... surprise, surprise -- she's the only remaining seed in her quarter of the draw as she's working on avoiding her 46th career slam appearance without a title)
RISERS: Aravane Rezai/FRA & Caroline Wozniacki/DEN
...Rezai was on a roll heading into Paris, but C-Woz surely wasn't. Rezai will be tested by Nadia Petrova next, while Wozniacki will face Alexandra Dulgheru as she attempts to put up her fourth consecutive 4th Round-or-better slam result (she's already reached her tenth straight 3rd Rd.). (RU: Alisa Kleybanova/RUS... no seeds stand in the way of her reaching the QF, but two ex-Russians might)
SURPRISES: Anastasia Rodionova/AUS & Jarmila Groth/AUS of those former Hordettes is Rodionova, who will meet ex-Slovak Groth (who got a wild card into the draw) in a match that will put one of the transplated Aussies into the Round of 16. (RU: Akgul Amanmuradova/UZB & Chanelle Scheepers/RSA... one will reach the 4th Round)
VETERANS: Li Na/CHN & Nadia Petrova/RUS
...Oz semifinalist Li has very quietly move through to the 3rd Round with ease, as had Petrova, who's still engaged in her always-starcrossed quest to reach her first slam final. With a path that is littered with the likes of Rezai, Venus and Dementieva just to get to the semis, it'd be surprising if Nadia reached that mountaintop in 2010. (RU: Flavia Pennetta/ITA... she didn't have a good clay season after Fed Cup, but here she is)
FRESH FACES Alexandra Dulgheru/ROU & Polona Hercog/SLO
...Dulgheru's fine clay campaign continues. She faces Wozniacki in a match that could host her next official career Great Leap Forward. Hercog has already reached her first tour singles final and won her first WTA doubles crown in 2010. Now she's achieved her first slam 3rd Round result, as well. (RU: Anastasia Pivovarova/RUS... the qualifier is the latest Hordette to make a move in a slam. She's still yet to finish her 2nd Round match with Zheng Jie.)
COMEBACKS: Justine Henin/BEL & Kimiko Date-Krumm/JPN
...half-way through her 2nd Round match against Klara Zakopalova, Henin has so far extended her Paris winning streaks to twenty-two matches and thirty-eight sets. A hobbled 39-year old Date-Krumm became the second-oldest RG match winner ever when she knocked off Dinara Safina in the 1st Round for her first main draw slam win since 1996. (RU: Svetlana Kuznetsova/RUS... the defending champ, but also RG's soon-to-be Zombie Queen?)
DOWN: Dinara Safina/RUS & Victoria Azarenka/BLR
...Safina was in the final the last two years, but couldn't take out an injured nearly-40 year old veteran who'd spotted her a 4-1 3rd set lead and hadn't won a slam match since the Russian was 10. Not ranked #10... ten years old. Azarenka had better look out, or she's going to be following in Safina's uneven footsteps over the next twelve months. Did she REALLY almost take out Serena at the last two Australian Opens? (RU: Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez/ESP & Ana Ivanovic/SRB... one exited Paris with a pain in the neck, while the other is one)

2nd Rd. - Kuznetsova d. Petkovic 4-6/7-5/6-4
...eight match points in, four for both players, the Contessova finally lived to see another day after experiencing "a whole life in a day" in this one.
1st Rd. - Date-Krumm d. Safina 3-6/6-4/7-5
...a year ago, Safina was the hottest player on tour. Today it's not a stretch to question her future. Oh, those Safins... they should have their own reality TV show.

THE PERILS OF POTENTIAL: Gisela Dulko knocked off the first seed to fall in this tournament, then got wiped out herself in her next match. Anabel Medina-Garrigues lost in the 2nd Round, maintaining her spotless record of having never reached a slam QF (she's still one tour singles title away from becoming only the second player in WTA history with ten tour singles titles to be able to say that). Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez's great EuroClay momentum was quickly thwarted by a neck injury in her 1st Round match. And Jelena Dokic's 1st Round loss gives her five consecutive slam defeats, the worst consecutive slam stretch of her career, dating back to her retirement in the 2nd Round of last year's Roland Garros after being injured while she was easily handling Elena Dementieva. (She's lost five straight main draw slam matches before, but they were stretched out over her "lost years" from 2003-06.)
THE POTENTIAL FOR PERIL: Venus Williams thought she'd designed a cleverly cheeky corset-inspired dress for Roland Garros that simultaneously gave a wink to Paris' "Moulin Rouge"/can-can culture, while continuing her "illusion of nudity" theme that began with her flesh-colored undergarments at the Australian Open. Who knew the outfit would become the most controversial topic of the first week? Oh, well. Aren't the most elaborately talented artists usually the most misunderstood, too?

FIRST SEED OUT: #10 Victoria Azarenka (lost to Gisela Dulko)
UPSET QUEENS: The Australians
REVELATION LADIES: The Germans (even though they blew their 2nd Round matches in the end)
ZOMBIE QUEEN?? (1r-2r): Svetlana Kuznetsova was down 6-4/5-4 40/love on Andrea Petkovic's serve, and the German held four match points. Might this moment end up being the most important at this tournament?
CRASH & BURNER (1r-2r): Dinara Safina. Her slide is starting to resemble the beginning (or would it be middle?) of the end. Hopefully it's just a Safin Family Lull situation.
FIRST VICTORY: '09 semifinalist Dominika Cibulkova raced past qualifier Ekaterina Ivanova mere minutes before '09 champ Svetlana Kuznetsova did in Sorana Cirstea on Day 1
LAST PASTRIES STANDING: Aravane Rezai is in the 3rd Round, while Marion Bartoli and Olivia Sanchez are facing off in the 2nd Round to become the second Pastry still standing
LAST QUALIFIERS STANDING: Chanelle Scheepers is in the 3rd Round, while Anastasia Pivovarona has yet to finish her 2nd Round match

Meanwhile, the Big Bang still looms around the corner. Some great matches should be coming soon.

...with so many matches cancelled or suspended, there aren't a lot of interesting things to ponder here today. Here's the best I can do, though:

...AnaIvo's charade in Rome has been fully exposed. The Italian Open semifinalist lost today to Alisa Kleybanova 6-3/6-0. Nice knowin' ya?

...the nadir of Safina's loss to Date-Krumm the other day was played out in the Japanese vet's 2nd Round match today against Jarmila Groth. After coming back to defeat the 2008-09 finalist, KDK lost 6-0/6-3. I sort of hope Dinara doesn't even know about this match, you know?

...after coming back from two sets down to win in the 1st Round, usual early Paris loser Andy Roddick advanced to the 3rd Round won today despite having his serve broken SEVEN times. Some women's players might look at that as a good day, but that's more like a bad TOURNAMENT total for the American.

...Gael Monfils became the second Frenchman to blow a two sets to none leads and ultimately lose the match as he was finally bounced by Fabio Fognini in the battle that was resumed after being stopped due to darkness last night around 10:00pm Paris time. The Italian closed out the 5th set at 9-7.

...and, finally, the "Upset Queens" and "Revelation Ladies" awards were close contests, but the winners have been chosen.

The Aussies are the "UQ's," as Anastasia Rodionova (def. her former countrywomen Makarova & Zvonareva) and Jarmila Groth (def. Chan & Date-Krumm) moved into the 3rd Round. Sophie Ferguson got a 1st Round win over Petra Kvitova, too. The runners-up here were the ex-Russians, led again by Rodionova, along with Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ), who has so far defeated Sara Errani and Agnieszka Radwanska.

With the Aussies getting that one, the Germans get the "Revelation Ladies" honor. Yeah, Andrea Petkovic lost that big lead against Kuznetsova, Angelique Kerber dropped a three-setter to Aravane Rezai and Julia Goerges is still to play Serena in their 2nd Round match, but that they were in the running at all without the nation's top player -- Sabine Lisicki -- in this tournament shows that Germany DOES finally have a better depth of talent than the nation's had in quite a long time. Although, I should note that if the 2nd Round had been finished today, and Olivia Sanchez had knocked off fellow Pastry Marion Bartoli (she's currently up in the 1st set), the French women would have been in contention for this.

Too little too late, I guess.

2004 Ukraine
2005 France
2006 United States
2007 Romania
2008 Czech Republic
2009 Kazakhstan (ex-Russians)
2010 Australia

2006 France
2007 Italy
2008 Czech Republic
2009 Australia
2010 Germany

[wins over Barbie, Henin, Ivanovic, Jankovic, Safina, Sharapova, S.Williams or V.Williams]
3...Belgian Barbie (def. Henin-2,V.Williams)
3...Jelena Jankovic (def. Ivanovic,S.Williams,V.Williams)
3...Alisa Kleybanova (def. Barbie,Ivanovic-2)
3...Aravane Rezai (def. Henin,Jankovic,V.Williams)

TOP EARLY ROUND (1r-2r): Venus Williams/USA
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q3: Kurumi Nara/JPN d. Monica Niculescu/ROU 4-6/7-6/10-8
TOP EARLY RD. MATCH (1r-2r): 2nd Rd: #6 Svetlana Kuznetsova/RUS d. Andrea Petkovic/GER 4-6/7-5/6-4
FIRST WIN: Dominika Cibulkova/SVK (1st Rd. - def. Ekaterina Ivanova/RUS)
FIRST SEED OUT: #10 Victoria Azarenka/BLR (1st Rd. - lost to Dulko/ARG)
UPSET QUEENS: The Australians
IT GIRL: xxx
CRASH & BURN: #9 Dinara Safina/RUS, 2008-09 Runner-Up (1st Rd. - lost to Kimiko Date-Krumm/JPN)
Nominee: Kuznetsova/RUS down 4 MP vs. Petkovic/GER (2nd Rd.)

All for Day 5. More tomorrow.


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