Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Day 2: On Pin(s) and Needles

Extreme Heat. A top player walking around in a zombie-like haze, seeking out every spare patch of shade in sight. Delayed play. Closed roofs. So many damp towels and water bottles that they outnumber rackets ten-to-one.

Ahh, it must be January in Melbourne.

Maria Sharapova wouldn't step over the line and complain about all of the above, or how she and Camille Pin were forced to complete their roof-less match while other players were prevented from even walking onto THEIR scheduled courts because of the dangerously stiffling heat.

But, oh, if she had lost.

She almost did, too. After failing to convert a couple of match points in the 2nd set, Sharapova rode the wave of a between-set break to a 5-0 3rd set advantage... then she hit the wall nearly Wile E. Coyote-style as Roadrunner Pin almost cemented her name in grand slam lore.

5-0 Sharapova soon was 7-6, 30/15 Pin... with the 25-year old French Pastry serving, within two points of ejecting the #1 women's seed from the 1st Round of Oz for the first time since 1979 (back when the REAL top players were skipping the then-late in the year Australian Open). Of course, I did say ALMOST.

One Sharapova forehand return of service that whizzed past Pin changed everything. Maybe Sharapova finally made sense of the fog she'd been playing in for half a set, or maybe Pin finally realized what she was about to do. Either way, it wasn't going to happen on this day. Pin double-faulted on break point, then lost the last two games at love (dropping the final eleven points in the match) to close out the 2:51 match (and 83-minute 3rd set) 6-3/4-6/9-7.

Sharapova survived. Barely. No "Kuznetsova Curse" for Maria... a least not yet. Meanwhile, Pin became this slam's "Queen of the Almost."

Of course, the heat isn't going away. So maybe the Supernova's tightrope-walking victory is only the beginning of the fun in Melbourne.

Love-Love...meanwhile, while the air temperatue was hot, "my gal" Kim Clijsters wasn't. I mean, she actually lost 15 points to Vasilisa Bardina in their 1st Round match.


Sure, she won 6-0/6-0 in 44 minutes (and won 52 points). But, come on, she could have at least TRIED to be absolutely perfect, right?

If Kim and Maria ARE destined to battle in the SF, then the Belgian officially has the early edge.

...add Alla Kudryavtseva (def. Emma Laine) and Renata Voracova (Meghann Shaughnessy) to the "qualifier with the mostest" nomination list.
"Vania over the Pacific" will soon be presented as the Qantus in-flight movie after "American Idol" King's not-unexpected 1st Round loss to Ana Ivanovic 6-2/6-0.
a year ago, Tszvetana Pironkova's trip to Oz included a win over Venus Williams. In 2007, it ended with a 7-5/2-6/6-4 loss to Akiko Morigami. Meanwhile, Sesil waits (of course, that's probably not ALL she's doing, now is it?).
well, I guess Flavia Pennetta and boyfriend Carlos Moya will have some extra time to enjoy Australia. They both lost their 1st Round matches (to Kaia Kanepi & James Blake, respectively) on Day 2. How about a day trip to the Outback? Just don't take along any suicidal fathers. (And, yes, that WAS a "Walkabout" reference... check it out, it's a great movie.)
5-feet-5 Olivier Rochus defeated 6-foot-7 Aussie Chris Guccione on Tuesday. The RESULT isn't enough to get a mention here, though -- it's the realization that if Guccione was American he wouldn't be a tennis player. Instead, he'd be a rookie forward for the Indiana Pacers. Just one of those things that make ya think, I guess.
GAME, "She lives to breathe another day...
well, Girl Friday Anna-Lena Groenefeld DID indeed survive Day 2.


Of course, part of the reason is because she didn't actually play her 1st Round match against Sandra Zahlavova, the result of the decision to stop play on the outside courts because of the heat. Hey, at least ALG will be able to say she lasted until Day 3.

Who knows, maybe the weather will cooperate and she'll make it to Day 4, too.

All for Day 2.


Blogger GLT said...

I was just catching up on my brackets and the schedule, and I noticed that not only did Pin draw the #1 seed in singles, but in doubles as well. She's gotta wonder what she did to deserve that double whammy!

Tue Jan 16, 05:46:00 PM EST  

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