Wednesday, May 29, 2013

RG.4- Blonde Ambition

"I heard blondes are having more fun." - Agnieszka Radwanska, when asked today about why she dyed her hair to match the color of that of her sister Urszula, who, at the time, she expected to meet in the 3rd Round

But someone forgot to tell A-Rad that Ula's 2nd Round opponent, Dinah Pfizenmaier, was a blonde German.


Today was one of those days where we can all go, "Whew!" when things are said and done. The potentially apocalyptic Rad-vs-Rad meeting was fraught with danger for everyone, but the 21-year old Pfizenmaier's heroic straight-sets downing of the younger Radwanska mere hours after Agnieszka had handily dispatched Mallory Burdette 6-3/6-2 to become the first player at this Roland Garros to advance out of the 2nd Round will now go down in infamy. Well, or at least it'll be remembered as the stop gap that gave us all more time to formulate a plan to defeat The Rad and Its own devious Plan before the warnings of A. become reality.

An unlikely heroine, qualifier Pfizenmaier, ranked #127 and a winner of six ITF singles titles in 2011-12, came to Paris with just one main draw WTA match victory in her career -- a 1st Round win at Roland Garros last year (after another qualifying run) before a 2nd Round loss in Paris to Victoria Azarenka (hmmm). Now she's got three MD victories, all in Paris, but none more important than her 6-3/6-3 sweeping away of half of the Radwanskian threat at this slam on Day 4.

The German may not be able to stop the progression of The Plan by eliminating the OTHER half of the Radwanska clan in the 3rd Round, but she and we know that she has at least slowed it down. Thus, she should be lauded.

Dinah... expect flowers.

...well, four days into this slam, the 1st Round was FINALLY completed today as the tournament caught up with the schedule, finishing off ten women's opening matches, as well as half the 2nd Round.

Not hitting the court until today was Vika Azarenka (though she wasn't inconvenienced TOO much -- she's staying right across the street from the grounds), who made quick work of Elena Vesnina, defeating the player with whom she's played doubles in the past by a 6-1/6-4 score. The Russian, who just recently ended that wretched 0-6 run in tour singles finals, now has another stat to work on: she's 1-8 at Roland Garros.

Of some note, the chair umpire for Azarenka's match was Mariana Alves, the same woman with which Vika had a minor dust up ("After all you've done how are you still in the game?") in Madrid a few weeks back. Things went pretty well today... though Alves was having to jump out of her chair to check marks at Vika's request a few times.

...after confounding predictions of a quick demise in the 1st Round, #10 seed Caroline Wozniacki got back to not living up to previous expectations in the 2nd, losing 7-6/6-3 to Bojana Jovanovski. Before she lost her #1 ranking for good following last year's Australian Open, Wozniacki had advanced to at least the Round of 16 in ten of eleven slams. Since she fell out of the top spot, she's exited before the Round of 16 at four of the last five slams.

Late in the day, Serena Williams made no false moves that might derail her quest for a second RG title, taking a 5-0 lead on Caroline Garcia and then going on to win 6-1/6-2. was Kids Day at Roland Garros and, fittingly, quite a few teenagers won matches, including Annika Beck (the '12 Girls champ), wild card Ashleigh Barty, qualifier Anna Schmiedlova (the '12 Girls RU) and Monica Puig (over another teen, Madison Keys).

Elsewhere, in a match-up of Hordette vs. former-Hordette-but-now-playing-for-Portugal, Maria Kirilenko took out Nina Bratchikova, 6-1/6-0. Apparently, no mercy is given once you "leave" Mother Russia.

QUALIFIER WINS: Dinah Pfizenmaier/GER (2nd), Anna Schmiedlova/SVK (1st)
WILD CARD WINS: Ashleigh Barty/AUS (1st), Virginie Razzano/FRA (2nd)
PASTRY WIN: Razzano (2nd)


hmmm, I'm not sure. How about that Vika wasn't booed by fans at a grand slam? It's been such a rarity at recent majors that I guess I should note it while I still can. After all, Vika has had at least one "moment" in Paris in the past... and it briefly even turned a certain Backspinner against her. But we've made up since then. Hey, I took issue with Justine after "The Wave," too, and that all turned out pretty well in the end.

Passion is a double-edged sword, and sometimes that's a very good thing.

...and, finally, AWARDS UPDATES:

As the 1st Round was set to be completed today, five Czechs had yet to play their opening matches, so there was still some chance that the woeful 1-4 mark put together by their countrywomen during the first three days of this slam could be turned around. Umm, no. The Maidens went 1-4 in 1st Round matches today, losing two seeds (#21 Zakopalova and #25 Safarova, the latter of which dropped a 9-7 3rd set to Jamie Hampton), and seeing only Petra Kvitova advance, though even she (naturally) had to go three sets to finally put away Aravane Rezai. With a 2-8 1st Round mark, the Czechs thus earn the "Nation of Poor Souls" award for this RG. Things are already slightly better in the 2nd Round, as Petra Cetkovska upset #19-seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova later in the afternoon.

Meanwhile, the "Upset Queens" are the Slovaks, who went 5-1 in the 1st Round, including wins from the likes of two qualifiers (Schmiedlova and Zuzana Kucova) and a recently-new Fed Cup star (Jana Cepelova), who notched wins over Yanina Wickmayer, #24 Julia Goerges and Christina McHale. The only Slovak to lose in the 1st Round was Daniela Hantuchova, who didn't handle pressure and a rain delay very well against Jelena Jankovic. Speaking of those two, JJ got Daniela by the tail again today -- teaming with Mirjana Lucic-Baroni to defeat Hantuchova and Anabel Medina-Garrigues in doubles. Kucova lost her 2nd Round match today to wild card Virginie Razzano, who has now advanced farther at this RG than she did at last year's after her upset of Serena in the 1st Round, as did Cepelova (to Angelique Kerber).

And, for the second time in three Roland Garros editions, the North Americans are the "Revelation Ladies." Women from the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico (close enough) went 12-5 in the 1st Round, with youngsters like Eugenie Bouchard, Madison Keys, Monica Puig, Mallory Burdette and others advancing.

2-0...South America
12-5...North America
37-48...non-Russian Europe
0-3...Africa/Middle East

2004 Ukraine
2005 France
2006 United States
2007 Romania
2008 Czech Republic
2009 Kazakhstan (ex-Russians)
2010 Australia
2011 Romania
2012 United States
2013 Slovak Republic

2006 France
2007 Italy
2008 Czech Republic
2009 Australia
2010 Germany
2011 North America
2012 France
2013 North America

WI: Great Britain (0-6 1st Rd.)
WI: Australia (1-3 1st Rd., Stosur & Dokic losses)
US: Czech Republic (2-5 1st Rd., Kvitova loses)
AO: Great Britain (0-4 1st Rd.; all on Day 1)
RG: Romania (1-5 in 1st Rd.; Cadantu double-bageled)
WI: Slovak Republic (1-3 in 1st Rd.; all 3 w/ WTA titles lost)
US: Germany (four of nation's five highest-ranked players out in 1st Rd.)
AO: Australia (1-6 in 1st Rd., 1-7 overall)
RG: Czech Republic (2-8 in 1st Rd.)

TOP QUALIFIER: Anna Schmiedlova/SVK
TOP EARLY-ROUND (1r-2r): xx
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q2: #24q Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova/CZE d. Alexandra Panova/RUS 1-6/7-5/10-8
TOP EARLY-RD. MATCH (1r-2r): xx
FIRST VICTORY: #5 Sara Errani/ITA (def. Rus/NED)
FIRST SEED OUT: #11 Nadia Petrova/RUS (lost 1st Rd. to Puig/PUR)
UPSET QUEENS: Slovak Republic
NATION OF POOR SOULS: Czech Republic (2-8 in 1st Rd.)
LAST QUALIFIER STANDING: 1st Rd. wins (2nd Rd. result): Duque-Marino/COL, King/USA, Z.Kucova/SVK(L), Ormaechea/ARG, Pfizenmaier/GER (W), Schmiedlova/SVK, Voskoboeva/KAZ (L)
LAST WILD CARD STANDING: 1st Rd. wins (2nd Rd. result): Barty/AUS, Garcia/FRA (L), Razzano/FRA(W), Rogers/USA (L)
LAST PASTRY STANDING: 1st Rd. wins (2nd Rd. result): Bartoli/FRA, Cornet/FRA, Garcia/FRA(L), Johansson/FRA(L), Mladenovic/FRA, Razzano/FRA(W)
IT "??": xx
CRASH & BURN: Nominees: #11 Petrova/RUS (1st Rd./Puig); #10 Wozniacki/DEN (4 of 5 pre-4th Rd. slam exits since lost #1 ranking)
JOIE DE VIVRE: Nominees: V.Williams/USA, Bartoli/FRA
AMG SLAM FUTILITY UPDATE: lost 1st Rd. to #6 Li Na, once again failing to reach a slam QF in her career (so Anna Smashnova still has a buddy)

All for Day 4. More tomorrow.


Blogger colt13 said...

Re:Wozniacki-she may have lost in the 1st round in 4 of her last 5 slams, but it was pointed out to me on another message board that Barthel has lost her last 5!

This tournament has had an odd feel to it. Almost like when UCONN goes in as the top seed in the women's tourney. You know what the finish will be, just wonder who will make it interesting before you get there.

Wed May 29, 08:49:00 PM EDT  
Blogger jo shum said...

Oh so now wozzy and barthel fighting to be the 'best' in the worst category?

I didn't realize it was the same umpire in vika's match, no wonder I see calmness this time round. No drama , a bit dull. I saw the article at RG website, vesnina served 95% first serve at avg speed 164km/hr and lost the set 1-6....vika's serve speed improved too.

Kuzzy won again! Hope she continues. She has a nice game on clay. And I have to say, her outfit is most catching in the midst of dull color Nike.

Wed May 29, 11:27:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...


Well, C-Woz only lost in the 1st Rd. twice in those five, but I know where you're going. The difference in her #1-ranking results and post-#1 ranking results are incredibly striking. Of course, they're nothing like Barthel's ups and downs, though. Really, if the season came to a close at the end of February, Barthel would be a Top 10 player. Unfortunately for her, she still has nine months to go after that.

Hmmm, but in this came, Serena may be both UConn (the #1 seed) AND Britney Griner (a physical force that could make things interesting all on her own). Makes things tough for everyone else.


Dull would be good for Vika for a while in this slam. A nice change of pace, at least until about the semis. She'll surely make up for it with more drama down the line, so it'd be good to enjoy it while it lasts. :)

Wed May 29, 11:44:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Oh, and in two of those five slams, Barthel was the "First Seed Out," too.

Wed May 29, 11:45:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Zidane said...

Jo - I'm also very happy that Kuznet looks good. For some reason, despite her mental and emotional issues, she is one rare player who is never intimidated by whoever may be on the other side of the court. Who genuinely feels she can beat anybody on a good day. Even Serena. I doubt that she can get to her in the draw, but should she, an in-form Kuznetsova might be the toughest opponent Serena could face. Despite seeing many of their match-ups, I don't remember ever seeing Kuznet outplayed in them.

Thu May 30, 03:47:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Zidane said...

Meanwhile, Serena will need to be careful against Cirstea, who is known for never leaving a Slam without at least one scalp in her luggage. Being seeded this time, she reached the third round without scalping anybody yet. (And RG is her best Slam.)

Thu May 30, 03:54:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

I agree, Zidane. Cirstea is an inconsistent mess, but she does like to take down a big one (or least a former big one) at a major event.

Thu May 30, 09:12:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Rain delays and power outages... Radwanska Threat Level adjusted accordingly. ;)

Thu May 30, 11:41:00 AM EDT  
Blogger jo shum said...

Rad level is on high alert. 2 rain interruptions and bumped out li na. and i should have shut my mouth, there i almost got the drama from vika who lost consecutive games and racked up 10+ UE after the rain delay. completely lapse in focus. and then, when you most expect drama from kvitova and stosur they are safely through. The Rad is messing things up big time! it is getting on my mind now...

Thu May 30, 12:47:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...


We always talk about the Williamses impact on the game -- increasing the power quotient and athleticism...but I think there's also a Sharapova Effect too. I think that she has brought back the professionalism. The younger generation and even some of her current colleagues seem to be feeding off of her workman's spirit and approach to matches. (It has a different essence than Serena's warrior's spirit -- Fighting for every point is a bit different than never say die/lose.)

Also is Carol Bouchard related to Genie Bouchard? I hear the name Carol Bouchard a lot but I'm not really sure what she does.

Thu May 30, 02:36:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...


Always have eyes in the back of your heard. ;)


Well, there's usually a top player with that sort of demeanor. Evert, Borg, Edberg, etc. While I'm sure Sharapova has had some impact, I wonder if maybe it's been more the professionalism of, say, Federer, that has spread to others in the sport, though, since so many of the WTA players mention him when asked about players they admire. But Maria surely has that, as well.

Hmmm, not sure I know of any Carol Bouchard connected to Eugenie. Zidane?

A quick Google search of the name brings up a 9/11 victim named that, so I don't know.

Thu May 30, 03:25:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

oh right...I should have asked Zidane LOL.

Thu May 30, 03:33:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Yep... for all things Canadian. Well, except maybe Canadian "bacon" and Canada mints! :D

Thu May 30, 03:36:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

definitely "bacon" :)

Thu May 30, 03:56:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

not to mention Canadian "English"


Thu May 30, 03:57:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

Actally, one of the commentators (I forget who) said today that she thought Maria's "don't take any point for granted" attitde had influenced Serena.

Thu May 30, 04:58:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Zidane said...

Eric - I didn't know about Carole Bouchard. A Google search gives me that she's a French journalist following tennis for L'Équipe. For those of you who may not know, L'Équipe is the sports-related French reference in journalism. They are mostly the one who uncovered the whole PED story with Lance Armstrong over all these years.

I doubt Carole and Eugénie are related. Bouchard is a very common family name in Québec, and I'm not aware of Eugénie's father having roots in France. I was actually a bit surprised that Bouchard was a family name in France, because I had never seen it before.

Thu May 30, 11:56:00 PM EDT  

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