Wednesday, May 30, 2012

RG.4- The Radwanska Loves it When a Plan Comes Together

With the steely, determined look of a woman with a Plan, Agnieszka Radwanska made short work of Venus Williams in their 2nd Round matchup today.

While there was a hint of excitement going in about some potential happenings with the A-Rad/Venus match, the end result turned out to never really be in doubt. Radwanska's error-lite game was the same stingy obstacle that it (almost) always is, while Williams never really got untracked on the clay. The Pole led 6-2/5-2 before Venus really made a dent in the match, getting a break for 5-3 and threatening to hold serve and force Radwanska to serve out the match.

Rain drops were starting to fall, and one could see that A-Rad wanted to get off the court without much extra trouble. When she scrambled across the court to reach a short ball near the far net post, though, Radwanska failed to go for the open shot down the line (Venus had vacated that side of the court, anticipating something else), and instead went for a trickier backhand crosscourt flick that failed to get over the net. Radwanska pounded the net with her racket.

It was the day's only real sign of any kink in her Plan. But Radwanska -- as her invisible minions mostly have this week -- still took care of things rather quickly.

In the same 5-3 game in which Venus was trying to finally get some momentum, a Radwanska return of serve caught the net cord and bounced into the short court. Williams got to it, reaching to scoop the ball over the net, but then A-Rad successfully lobbed over her head to get a match point. Normally, such incidents are "pure chance." With Radwanska, though, it's open for debate.

Another long Venus forehand ended the one-hour match, which Radwanska won 6-2/6-3. She committed just six total errors, while Venus had a whopping thirty-three in the seventeen games. Thus, both Sisters have lost before the 4th Round in the same slam for only the third time ever ('06 AO, '08 RG). But their one match win in Paris this time around stands as their WORST combined effort in a major. Ever.

For them -- well, unless Serena sticks around long for Mixed Doubles -- it's now onto Wimbledon. For mastermind Radwanska, though, The Plan continues to play out.

...The Plan's footprints continued to be detected elsewhere in the draw, as well. 2011 semifinalist Marion Bartoli was sent packing by Petra Martic, removing yet another potential obstacle from you-know-who's path.

A-Rad's now-likely eventual quarterfinal opponent -- and doubles partner, wink-wink -- Angelique Kerber was scheduled to play today. But she only got three games finished in her match with Olga Govortsova before play was suspended. So, now, if Kerber continues to advance she'll have missed her regular day of rest between matches. Hmmm.

Need I say it? Obviously, The Radwanska is now controlling the weather, the sun AND the moon. I sure hope Carl doesn't have an "in" with The Radwanska, now that he's picked A-Rad to win this title and all.

Naturally, through, Victoria Azarenka was immune to any sinister Radwanskian Plans. She shrugged off her 1st Round struggles and blitzed Dinah Pfizenmaier 6-1/6-1 on Day 4. So, I guess there IS hope for us all.

...hey, look at that! Anabel Medina-Garrigues is STILL alive in the draw. It's not a surprise, per se, because the Spanish vet IS a good claycourter. But this IS a grand slam, so a 1st or 2nd Round loss is always a pretty good bet. Hmmm... Nadia Petrova is still around, too. (I'll just stop there, and not burden Nadia's load with hypotheticals.)

...well, Roger Federer, two days later than anticipated, FINALLY passed Jimmy Connors for the most career slam match wins (234) by any man. It was also his 51st victory at Roland Garros, tying him with Andre Agassi for third on THAT all-time men's list behind only Guillermo Vilas and Ivan Lendl (with Rafa Nadal quickly closing in behind them all).

...Mathilde Johansson's win assures that at least one French Pastry will reach the 3rd Round. A similar "well, at least there's that" notion can be said for the Bannerettes, but that doesn't mean that, one day after Serena's loss, there wasn't a great deal more American carnage on Day 4, as well. The Americans were 10-0 after Day 2, but have gone just 1-8 since, including 1-6 today. And most of them didn't put up much of a fight, either. Melanie Oudin (5 games vs. Errani), Irina Falconi (5 vs. Stosur), Alexa Glatch (4 vs. Pennetta) and Vania King (2 vs. Cibulkova) barely scratched the surface in their efforts. Bethanie Mattek-Sands won only 2 games, as well, but it was countrywoman Sloane Stephens who won twelve from the other side of the net. Christina McHale and Lauren Davis face off tomorrow to produce at least a second American in the Final 32, while Varvara Lepchenko will play Jelena Jankovic (who knows what oddities will occur in that match).

Hmmm, there's another North American in the 3rd Round, too. Canada's Aleksandra Wozniak defeated Zheng Jie to advance. doubles, while the Errani/Vinci team LOVE the clay, the #1-seeded duo of Liezel Huber & Lisa Raymond do not. They were bounced in the 1st Round today by Kaia Kanepi and Zhang Shuai.

Meanwhile, it was nice to see that Vania King & Yaroslava Shvedova were in action together today. While I knew they hadn't played much together this year because of Shvedova taking turns with fellow Kazakhs in preparation for the Olympics, I WAS starting to wonder when I started seeing both woman playing doubles at recent events with different players, but not their countrywomen. I was a little worried that their had been some sort of disturbance in The Force. No worries, though. They easily took out Paszek/Woehr today.

And Brian Baker's great run finally ended, but not until he came back from two sets down against Gilles Simon to force a 5th set. After playing so many matches last week, though, he was bound to hit the wall at some point this week.


After Patrick McEnroe had referred to Novak Djokovic's attempt at four straight slam titles as a "NovakSlam," I felt better later upon hearing Brad Gilbert, on the same ESPN2 broadcast, use the "NoleSlam" moniker. Hmmm, I guess you sort of get the idea that I'm picking my "Likes" from a pretty shallow pool on Day 4 when I'm actually settling on something said by Gilbert, huh? But, so be it.

-- So, I'll belatedly throw in Rennae Stubbs' sensitive post-match on-court interview with Razzano yesterday on Tennis Channel. Stubbs showed promise as a broadcaster in the past, but now that she's no longer still dabbling in doubles she's very quickly coming into her own.

...and, finally, Chris, Chris, Chris.

This whole anti-Hannah Storm, pro-Chris McKendry (that's YOU!) thing we have going just isn't going to last if you continue to do things like refer to Virginie Razzano as "Virginia" for hours upon hours on ESPN2 like you did today. It reminds me of how Storm called Jo-Wilfried Tsonga "Jo-Wilifred" for hours on hours at one of last year's slams.

Of course, maybe I should blame all the production people and your on-air colleagues that let you do that for so long one day after Razzano became THE name of the tournament on Day 3. I guess they figured that it'd be better for YOU to look uninformed than them. In fact, I guess that's the angle I'll take on this. You're not bad... you're just allowed to draw yourself that way.

I sense this, too, might be the work of The Radwanska.

2006 Australian Open - Serena 3rd Rd., Venus 1st Rd.
2008 Roland Garros - Serena 3rd Rd., Venus 3rd Rd.
2012 Roland Garros - Serena 1st Rd., Venus 2nd Rd.

56...Guillermo Vilas
53...Ivan Lendl
51...Andre Agassi
49...Bjorn Borg
NOTE: Rafael Nadal has 46 wins

TOP EARLY-ROUND (1r-2r): xx
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q1: #1q Kiki Bertens/NED d. Annika Beck/GER 6-1/4-6/9-7
TOP EARLY-RD. MATCH (1r-2r): xx
FIRST WINNER: #6 Samantha Stosur/AUS (def. Baltacha/GBR)
FIRST SEED OUT: #30 Mona Barthel/GER (lost 1st Rd. to Lauren Davis/USA)
UPSET QUEENS: United States
NATION OF POOR SOULS: Romania (1-5 in 1st Rd; A.Cadantu double-bageled & 18 total points)
IT: xx
CRASH & BURN: #5 Serena Williams/USA (lost 1st Rd. to Razzano/FRA; led 6-4 & 5-1 in 2nd set tie-break; was 46-0 in career slam 1st Rd. matches)
ZOMBIE QUEEN: Nominee: #1 Azarenka (down 7-6/4-0, BPs for 5-0 to Brianti in 1st Rd.)
JOIE DE VIVRE: Nominee: Razzano/FRA

All for Day 4. More tomorrow.


Blogger Zidane said...

I just love how you have made this Slam suddenly all about The Radwanska. There are so many potential great stories/matches coming up, even though the Sharapova/Serena clash fell apart, that I'm really excited by this tournament.

FYI, Wozniak's win against Zheng today was very meaningful for her. It secured her position for the Olympics! Wozniak playing well on red clay, I'm curious to see, now that she Radwanska's new minion, how she will fare against Azarenka. Especially if the latter is in a bad day like in the first round.

Wed May 30, 04:22:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

Dominika got her first win in 4 tries against Vania today.


I asked Diane too but, how come you don't get to go to the Slams? Don't they give you media passes? I thought you guys were amateurs (not in quality, but in title), but you're actually press and your work is widely distributed (even that guy was looking to post your work the other day)...shouldn't you get invites to the slams too? :)

Wed May 30, 04:27:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

I hope The Radwanska never comes after me (though, sometimes, it feels like she might be making a stealth attack).

Wed May 30, 07:18:00 PM EDT  
Blogger jo shum said...

saw the match between A-rad and venus, no match at all. she was impressive, how did she ever get those balls back... and slow clay suits her, she won't be blown out of court easily. and is it me, i thought she improved her forehand again these few matches, at least against venus, there was power behind it with a few shots. i can imagine it's a nightmere playing her, one needs so much patience to build the points and open the court, otherwise she keeps moving and balls keep coming back. that's why vika pays extra attention playing her. :0 though in RG slow clay and with instability of vika in first round, if they ever meet up in semi, a-rad has a real chance.

yea, next match petrova and stosur, could be a nice match. well that usually depends on well being of petrova on that particular day.

Wed May 30, 10:00:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...


I think The Radwanska had someone whispering in Brad Gilbert's ear earlier today. So sneaky, It is. I'll explain later. :D

Hmmm, if A-Woz wasn't on the team, WHO would have been? Has there been any new word on Marino's availability?


Like Diane, I've never applied. "Everything else" involved is still an issue, even if you didn't have to leave the U.S.


That's it. Be respectful. It'll confuse The R and -- if you're lucky -- cause It to focus on someone else.


I can't say anything about Nadia. (I'm sure you know why.) Truthfully, I hope the Tennis Gods didn't even hear me say THAT.

Thu May 31, 11:25:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Zidane said...

Well, the question was actually: "Would there be a Canadian woman playing at the Olympics in singles?" not "which one". Now, we know there will be one for sure. Otherwise, Wozniak could still have slipped as a loophole (too many Russians/Czechs/Americans better ranked than her, injuries...), but it wouldn't have been guaranteed as her upcoming ranking makes certain.

Thu May 31, 06:46:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Well, good for A-Woz, then. :)

Thu May 31, 09:09:00 PM EDT  

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